Posts Tagged ‘research’

I was doing my daily “let’s avoid accomplishing anything” by searching for new blogs to read.  This is purely in the name of research and to get me out of the rut of writing blogs and then deleting them, prior to publishing, as they are not funny.  I seem to be doing a lot of that lately.

Then, there is the Christmas stocking issue and the knitted Christmas gift that I could work on 24/7 from now till Christmas and probably still not have it done.    I am on my second yarn and my twentymillionth rip out on this thing.  So, my days go, dishes, feed animals, knit four rows, search the internet for Vegan no oil food and any other excuse I can use.

When I am searching blogs, I am mostly looking for ones that make me laugh and today, I was in stitches over a new blog I found.  Truckstop Oysters. How Bad Could They Be? | Blurt via Truckstop Oysters. How Bad Could They Be? | Blurt.

All I can tell you, is I think it’s a guy girl (she asserted her he just asserted his alpha female status over Angelina Jolie’s dolls, another funny post, and he lives in North Carolina and he is funny!   And, he can tell you just exactly how bad of an idea it is to have truckstops serve oysters. 

If you have ever traveled, then you probably have a state that is NOT your favorite.  My state is Missouri.  I have broken down every single time I cross Missouri, except the last time.  Perhaps I am making my peace with the state.  But, I am pretty sure it just felt like it owed me as one trip, I broke down three times.  Never buy a used motorhome. 

It isn’t just that though.  Missouri is the state that has nice restaurants who bring you a cup of hot water and a packet of cocoa when you order hot chocolate.   What is more upscale than bringing you hot water and packets of cocoa?  I now travel a long way out of my way to avoid Missouri.

Let me know if you hear where Truckstop Oysters is playing.  Sounds like a great band to me.

Read Full Post »

Yet another reason to hate VISTA


I understand that a company does customer research; or we hope they do, but certain Cola companies, as well as Wendy’s seem to just skip over that step.  And, in doing their research, let us say that Microsoft has found that their customers want them to use an icon for a key that holds the shut-down, sleep, hibernate modes.


You know there are a lot of things that could work for that, a shut eye, a pillow, a sleeping baby, a bunch of zzzzz’s, a hibernating bear.  I’m sure you can think of better ones, so what world do the Microsoft Designers live in where an arrow pointing right means “shut-down, go to sleep, hibernate.”


Granted, I may not be the smartest bulb around but I have, as I so often tell you, used computers since the KAYPRO.  And, it took us a while to actually find where they put the Shut-down, on the thing. Obviously, since it was nearly in the same spot, it should not have taken that long, but it did. It just wasn’t obvious.


When the personal computer came out, I think they wanted to encourage people and let them know that everyone could use it. Now, their goal seems to be to make you work for it. They want you to hire techs to show you how awesome their new version is. Hence, the idiot insulting commercial they play now; insinuating that all those new VISTA owners are only complaining because they cannot figure it out.


I envision Microsoft designers, sitting around, drinking Margaritas.


Designer #1 says, “Hey, you know what would be fun? Let’s move all those things that have become automatic for people and watch them fumble for months with their new computer.”


Designer #2 says, “Yeah, Dude, I love to watch those idiots screw up simple stuff.”


Designer #3, wakes up and goes, “Ya really want to mess with their minds?  Play with Sticky keys. They get so frustrated when they accidently turn them on.”


Designer #1 agrees, “Yeah, and put Help and Support so they can only access it from online.  They’ll hate that one.” 


Designer #2, “Okay, but we gotta find something that they can’t find when they need, like in Control Panel.”  He giggles and New Coke drizzles out his nose.


Designer #3, obviously the man with all the really GOOD ideas, “Yeah, that’s good, they’ll go to Control Panel and get confident they know what they’re doing and then they go to Accessibility Options and it’s not there.  Let’s rename it so they have to search for it.”


Designer #1, “I got it, rename it  EASE OF ACCESS CENTER.  Then it’s on a whole other row.


Designer #2, “Okay, but ya gotta change the icon too so they don’t find it right away.”


AND, in their brain dead state, they do all that and more and then insult me by telling me that I only need someone to show me how to use it.  I know the #%!% how to use it, it just doesn’t work.


JRockGuitarMan’s VISTA challenged computer was stuck on numeric lock for the alpha keys for three days.  Granted, I should have figured it out sooner.  It was really simple but I got stuck, myself, on the idea that it was a “Sticky Keys” issue, thus finding out that the only way to Access Help is by going on-line and that, for some unknown reason, they changed Accessibility Options to Ease of Accessibility, so the first time you go for it you have to search. 


Today, I realized his computer had a simple fix with the Fn key and the “Scroll/lock” key and now he can type normal again.  So many things do not work on VISTA, like any software I have or purchased right before I bought it, that I’m expecting everything to be difficult.  Shame on me!  Now, onto the next problem – why did his voice recognition quit working?


However, I, a died in the wool defender of Bill Gates and Microsoft for years, declare it officially now:      Microsoft VISTA STINKS!!


As if I did not know that already.

Read Full Post »

Everyone has to find what works for them. For me, the start of a novel is “What if…”

I like to watch the story grow myself and do not find that I work well from a set outline. I have tried 3×5 cards for laying out the plot, and about every other method I have ever read but these lead to a lot of time spent that is not where my book wants to go. I like Stephen King’s method, “just write.”   It also keeps my book interesting to me. I have heard writers say how the always hit a point where their book kind of dies on them. But, if you just sit down and write down the story that is in your head, it will take you to unexpected places and keep you going. One reason for this is that I love to do research, and as I write, I stop immediately and research what I need. This leads to my discovering things I never considered and  my world grows.

For this book, I have found two photos on the internet that I knew, the minute I saw them, would make great characters in this world. I wasn’t looking for characters at the time. My books usually start with the character and the situation but can go anywhere from there. I was watching those extra DVD discs you get in movies one day. It was one of the Lord of the Rings discs and for some reason tears started streaming as I realized one of my characters must die.  I already warned you I cry easily, but I have become attached to this character and he has a pretty big part, but that is the way the world is.

Right now, I am 10% done with my final edit. I work in MS Word and was doing an edit where I had a list of words to search for that need to be removed. These were words that were passive and useless, etc. After doing that for days, I found that I could pick them out on reading much easier and my next novel will be tighter from the beginning. That word search was tedious and the first time that I was bored with my book. That’s not a good way to write a riveting revision sentence.  Then, Graduate daughter told me about a grade level check in MSWord that ha

In MSWord: hit REVIEW; Highlight the text you want to check. I am going through the book paragraph by paragraph as it is too cumbersome to do a whole book at a time. Then click SPELLING & GRAMMAR, and when that is done, click NO on “…finished checking…do you want to continue” and you will get  Readability Statistics. There are two important things there. 

1. is PASSIVE-you do not want any of your novel to be passive. Very occasionally something just has to be. For my story, it has been in parts where someone is telling about the past but even then there is usually a way to reword it.

2. Is the FLESCH-KINCAID GRADE LEVEL (and you might have to set your Word to show this. I am aiming for sixth grade level. I find that my dialogue doesn’t always work at that level, but everything else should be within that range. I write for eight hours most days and I have spent a whole day on four paragraphs; wording and rewording to get them up to grade level and to sound the way I want.

This edit, keeps the material fresh and alive for me. I’m enjoying the process and I believe that will show in the long run. I’ve even started, okay a little early yet, I still have 90% of my final edit to do, but I have started my first query letter to go to Nathan Bransford. He always says, “Send it to me first.”

Read Full Post »

I was pre-law at University of Illinois- Chicago Circle for two wonderful years.  I would have hated to be a lawyer, but I have since done legal research and the Internet makes me one happy girl.  I love to do research. I can spend two and a half days researching something that turns out to be one sentence in my novel.  It is worth it though, to bring the book alive. The problem with research, is I am easily distracted by all the fantastic facts out there.

I have worked on this particular novel for probably two years now. I have a “nearly” complete first draft. I’m lacking parts of the final chapter; from fleshing out the final action scene to a type of wrap up. I’m six chapters in to my first edit. I call it my word edit.

Words must conjure and relate to the story:  Doing research on writing for young adults, and just plain good writing, I have a file of words that are passive,  weak, redundant, and unnecessary. I use my find option on each of the forty plus words and rewrite sentences as I find problems.  This really tightens my writing. It is not my favorite part of writing. It is very time consuming, but worth it. I find that my writing improves as I learn not to use these “extra” words.

Further edits:  I have seven files of things I do not want to forget to add into the book.  There are two files of lines I might put in the book yet.  I have one character I am adding into the book yet. Then, there is the issue of four separate openings I am dealing with.  Then there is my eternal problem with tense.

The opening: The opening has changed four times. I have thought about having a contest on the blog for choosing a favorite opening. I just cannot make up my mind. 

Read Full Post »