Wednesday, April 29, 2009

My Zombie editing face

Carrie Harris had a fun post today with her zombatar. So I decided to make one for myself. I call it my editing face.

Want one for yourself?
Yes, this is what I feel like. Well, I did yesterday at least. Left work early, took two naps and went to bed early, and slept in this morning. No work for me today. I feel a bit better. I think the extensive amount I've time I've spent staring at a computer screen in the last two weeks (more than normal - which is amazing in itself) is starting to get to me. Reading red lines and word edits isn't exactly easy on the eyeballs. That, and I was feeling a little buried at work. But now the deadline for the month is over, and I can relax a little. I also won't be taking on more than one beta reading project at a time again - at least not when I'm in the middle of editing my own stuff, and not writing. Writing is just easier on the eyes, at least for me.

So, hopefully my zombie eyes will clear up soon. Hehe.


Monday, April 27, 2009

Nothing to see here.

Between editing HOUND through chapter 11, playing Titan Quest, hiking on Sunday, beta reading two projects, having three meetings this morning and my deadline for the June/July magazine being tomorrow, I find myself with a lack of anything devastatingly interesting to say.

Today, I'm just too damn tired for creative blogging.

Carry on.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Friday, April 24, 2009

More cheese related things.

I am amused.

For those unaware, my obsession with all things cheese is legendary.


Are you SERIOUS interwebs????!!!!???

brb, grocery store.

Edit: My friend's response when I sent her the link:

"All of this talk about your expanding ass and you're indulging in what could potentially provide enough calories to feed a village in Ethiopia for a week."

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Since we've been talking about Diet Coke a bunch...

This is me, loving me some Diet Coke. This picture was from Christmas 2007, when we got up at 7:00 a.m. Christmas day to be over at my brother's house when the kids woke up for presents.

You know, just in case anyone doubted my commitment to the greatest source of caffeine known to man.

Making the Office Clipboard your buddy

As threatened, this post is going to be about doing a little more with your Miscrosoft Office clipboard. Now, I have the full office suite at work and home, and these pictures are from Office 2003. I don't know if things are different in earlier and/or later versions, but I'd imagine things stay pretty simillar. Here goes.

After my fisascco with a missed cut and paste, I was franticly searching through every option I had to recover the lost words. I visited the Office Clipboard in hopes that it still had some stuff saved in it. It did not, because I had already saved out my docs and exited Word - and because I didn't have the Clipboard up while I was editing.

So if you're doing a bunch of cut/copy and pasting, this might be a helpful tool to use.

To find what I'm talking about, open your document and go File > Office Clipboard. If you don't see it right away, you might need to expand your menu list.

When you click it, it opens a side panel next, like below.

This panel will hold up to 24 cut/pastes in its history. So just proceed as normal. Highlight what you want to copy, then copy it. An abbreviated block of text will appear in your new side panel. Like below.

Here's a zoom in. And when you hit the little tab next to the text you copied, a menu pops down, like so.

The reason this is useful is because you can revisit past copies/cuts instead of being restricted to the last text you copied as the ONLY one on record. So if you make a boo-boo, you might be able to save yourself a headache by looking through the clipboard history.

There's an option panel at the bottom, which I think you can set for the clipboard to be used even when the panel isn't open. I recall people having trouble when the clipboard gets full, however, so if you want to set that as the default, I'm pretty sure you have to remember to go back in and clean it out.

I've just been opening it as I need it - when I'm copying and pasting around a lot while editing. It's like a little safety net.

As for editing, I'm finished part 1, which is eight chapters. So far, no more mishaps.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

25 Things...

Samantha over at the Wuthering Life blog had a really cool post idea. We all see the “25 questions about you” thing on facebook and other places, but how about 25 things about a work in progress instead?

25 Random Things about HOUND IN BLOOD AND BLACK

1. The idea came from a short story I wrote for an anthology by Permuted Press. The premise of the antho was about societies after the zombie apocalypse is over. My short story was rejected.

2. In the short story, titled “Playground”, Kumari’s nicknames were Kitten and Cat, and you never found out her real name. I wanted to keep the idea, but Cat is so overused that I went with Hound instead.

3. I selected the name Kumari after reading about the Kumari in India – a child goddess. I just really liked the way the word sounded.

4. I wrote this manuscript during the 2008 NaNoWriMo, and wrote 68k in 30 days.

5. I finished the story in time for ABNA (Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award). HOUND didn’t make it past the first round.

6. I had an outline completely planned, and the whole thing got changed when I decided to kill a character I wasn't planning on killing.

7. “Rebirthing” by Skillet is HOUND’s theme song.

8. I also have a huge list of songs I listened to on Pandora while writing. If anyone wants to see my stations, I’m erineanderson2 on Pandora.

9. I started calling the book HOUND for short because I kept messing up the title, and switching the Blood and Black around.

10. The title refers to Kumari’s nickname, arena flags and gladiator preparation. I’ll say no more.

11. My book has zombies, but I have an irrational fear of being pigeon holed as a zombie fiction writer, so I call them undead or wilds, and never, ever zombies.

12. When I used a word cloud on my first draft, my most frequently used word was “back.”

13. Originally, I had journal entries at the start of every chapter, and tried to make them relate to what happened in the chapter they prefaced. It became too tedious, so I cut it down to the opening of parts 1, 2 and 3, and an epilogue.

14. My first beta reader called me an editor’s nightmare because of the amount of typos I had.

15. My second beta reader, in the same writing group, announced which character dies in HOUND on Facebook.

16. So far, everyone who has read HOUND has said the same thing: loved the book, even though it has zombies and they would never pick up this type of book normally. I think that’s a good thing, and also a bad thing. Hahaha!

17. In the first draft, Heaven had a white dog named Bleach. I forgot about him for about 2/3rd of the book, and decided to cut him instead of trying to add him back in.

18. When I started HOUND, my plan was for it to be a single, stand alone novel. I feel that it can stand alone, but I now have plans to write a sequel. Perhaps for NaNoWriMo 2009?

19. I first called HOUND speculative fiction. Then dystopian fiction. Then dystopian fiction with sci-fi, horror and thriller elements. Now, I think I’ve settled on science fiction/horror.

20. I watched so many dystopian and zombie movies while writing HOUND that my boyfriend cut me off.

21. We also played Left 4 Dead and other zombie video games, as “research.”

22. Though I am a zombie fan, I’ve never read any zombie fiction. I normally read in the genre I’m currently writing.

23. In my head, Rem looks and sounds exactly like Bob – the winner of the last season of Survivor. I’m slightly obsessed with Bob.

24. The only handwritten documents I did for HOUND were outline notes, which I later typed into Word docs, and a few sketches of Kumari’s armor and world maps.

25. Kumari’s hairstyle was inspired by one of the head models in the computer game Neverwinter Nights 2.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Cutting and pasting with care

So I had a not very fun experience the night before last. I screamed, a lot, and not in the normal context of fun.

I've taken to a new application of the Side by Side view in Word. I've been pulling out sections that need detailed editing - be it a few paragraphs or a few pages - and putting the original in one side and the editor's version (with all changes accepted) in separate, blank documents. Then, I go line by line adjusting as I see fit. When finished, I copy and paste the final back into the master document.

If you do something like this, BE CAREFUL!

I know, I know, it should go without saying, but I did an incorrect paste. By the time I realized what I had done, it was too late. All my docs were closed out and - I think because I closed all the Word docs - my Word clipboard was cleared as well. The only reason I caught it at all was because I printed the pages since I had just finished a chapter. And I was short on pages.

So I guess my lesson - a big fat duh - is to double check after every copy/cut/paste between documents. It's hard when you get on a roll to slow down, but you'll thank yourself later. In the great big scope of things, I only lost about 45 minutes of work and two pages of editing. So I have no reason to complain, really.

I think from now on I'm going to keep my clipboard open while editing. I smell another post about Word - my best friend and greatest nemesis - in the near future.

Monday, April 20, 2009

I'm gellin'.

Just thought you should know. My feet, they be happy!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Comparing Word docs in Side by Side View

For those of you on the technically inclined side of things - or who just know their way inside and outside and backwards for the Word program - this post might be a bit boring. Sometimes, however, even when you work in a program for years there are things you just don't know about because you never use them.

Prior to getting my edit back for HOUND, I never really used the Side by Side view for comparing two Word docs. The biggest reason was that I just used track changes in the same document. I really didn't feel a need to compare it with something else - like an unmarked, clean original.

However, now that I'm going through very detailed edits for such a long piece, I've discovered that it's helpful for me to have the original document open so I can compare before and after changes as I go through accepting and declining edits. For the most part, the editor is dead on, but there have been a couple places I disagreed with, or it was a little confusing with all the lines going every which way and text in two different colors.

With my original doc opened, I can accept all the changes, then go back and forth and read the new vs. the old to decide which version I want to keep - or if I want to find some middle ground between the two. It's helpful in another way too: I can go back and read the old version, which helps me see clearly what didn't work in my original writing. So far, it's been an invaluable tool.

So, let me be your paper clip office assistant for a moment, if you will.

If you want to use this function, first open both documents that you wish to compare. Whichever document you want to be on the left side of you computer screen should be the one you use for the next step.

In the task bar of your chosen document, select Window. In the drop down menu, select Compare Side by Side with SECOND DOCUMENT NAME - like so. Here's a close up.

Now, your documents will fill your whole desktop. You can resize them as you see fit. Hopefully, you have a large monitor like I do at home. If you have a small monitor, this might be more difficult, as the windows won't have room to be full size. Once you're open, you'll notice a small box at the bottom right of your screen.

A closer look and a mouse over like so reveal the coolest thing evar. Synchronous scrolling, baby! This means that when you scroll on document, the second document will follow.

So, say you do something crazy, like decide to delete 18 pages. Now what right? Your documents are all un-matching and not lined up! No problem at all.

You can toggle on and off the sync'ed scrolling. In the above image, the sync is off - meaning, you can scroll each document independently to realign them. If your box looks like the one in the image below, your sync scrolling is locked and both documents will return to moving as one.

Hope some of you might find this helpful. It's working wonders for me.

Last night I got through 33 pages and cut over 800 words from chapter 1 and 2. I've decided to make two passes. In the first pass, I'm taking care of everything I agree with. For now, I'm highlighting everything I want to take more time to consider and possibly rewrite, and that stuff will make up pass number two.

And, amazingly enough, I'm enjoying the editing. Someone call a doctor. I think I might be ill...

I'm glad I'm not the only writer who likes LOLcats.

I found this over at the blog Surviving Writing a Book by Melissa. Love it!!!!! Made me LOL in my morning Diet Coke.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Idiot, party of one: The risk we take when we share our writing

As writers, we all know there is a certain calculated risk that comes with sharing your work with other people - writers and non-writers alike.

The biggest one, I think, is "What if they don't like it?"

Rejection can be tough, particularly if those people are friends or peers. Rejection is even harder when it comes from an agent or publisher. But, as writers, we know that this is part of the game and that we can't please every reader. Unpleasant as it is, it's all part of the process. We writers need thick skin, and if we don't start out with it, it's something that grows as time goes on and the rejections and criticisms pile up. And, of course, it makes the acceptance letter and the reader who says "I loved it!" that much more sweet when it comes along.

Another risk we take is this:

Somebody you trusted blowing your plot for other readers. Anyone had this one happen? I have. What makes it worse was that it came from a fellow writer in a critique group. Someone who should have known better.

FailWriter on my facebook: "I just got the part where [Character Name] dies."

Me: "Uh. Dude. Get that shit off my facebook."

FailWriter: "My bad, removed. I thought I was the only person who hadn't finished reading."

FailWriter was also the person who, when he hadn't finished reading my book, asked that we move on to his instead for the critique group.

I guess the long and short of this post is, we always take risks when we share our writing - be it for feedback, for publication, or for fun. In most cases, the good outweighs the bad, even if there are a few rotten apple morons in the bunch.

Oh, and never friend someone on facebook until rotten apple status is determined.

Sci-fi Cat is Sci-fi

Because everyone needs a little LOL in their day. :)

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Genre: Zombie?

Hi, my name is Erin and I wrote a zombie book.

There. I admit it, loud and clear.

My idea for HOUND started as a short fiction submission for Permuted Press, the same place where my short story SAVAGE was picked up. I decided, hey, if I can get one story picked up by this press, perhaps my chances are good for getting a second story published with them. The anthology was all about a world after the zombie outbreak (instead of the running and screaming that takes place in most zombie films. Think, Resident Evil: Extinction instead of 28 Days Later.)

I love, love, love dystopian fiction. I also am a fan of zombie movies and video games for the most part. (Not a big fan of the old “classics” though.) My muse was off running full sprint, and I wrote a story about the childhood of who would later become the main character in a full length novel, albeit under a different name.

For the short story, I was all giggles. How cool are zombie gladiators? I felt I had come up with something original. Even with the short story was rejected, the editor commented on liking the idea, but the story ending was predictable. Then it was time for NaNoWriMo, and I wanted to participate for the first time. And I needed a fresh, new idea.

So I wrote HOUND. By the end of it, I was thrilled. I felt I had something different Рsomething beyond the genre of b-movie running and screaming from zombies, and always populated with one-dimensional characters with very big boobies that make up the clich̩. I wrote a zombie story about the characters, not about zombie fodder in the form of human beings.

Characters for me are alive, rule my books, and drive anything that happens. Most often I have a general outline, but then I’m as much a slave to my characters as the person who will eventually read the finished product. They dictate what I write.

But, I thought, zombie books don’t have deep characters, right? Aren’t they only clichés and card board cutouts with the purpose of being food for zombies? Of course, I’m making some assumptions here – based on the most general stereotypes – because I never read zombie fiction, and I certainly never intended to write it myself.

Somewhere in the mess I convinced myself that I was writing something else. Sure, there are zombies in my book. But this is about bigger things, I told myself. This reaches into other genres, I said.

I should have known when my first beta reader told me how she talked to her friends about the “awesome zombie book” she was reading that I was kidding myself.

As I’ve discussed in other posts, zombies seem to be a love or hate thing, but I guess so are a lot of things in a lot of different genres. There are people who hate spaceships, but I’m writing a book with a spaceship as my next WIP. I guess I was worried that HOUND wouldn’t be taken seriously if I pitched it as a “zombie book.”

A long walk with Erik involved me digging myself a hole and backing myself into a corner, where my feigned logic promptly collapsed on top of me.

“Zombies are popular and you have something original,” he said. “Why wouldn’t you pitch to market that’s hot right now?”

Tara Maya, who did a beta read for me, was arguing the very same thing, including the statement: You wrote a zombie book, and a damn good one. Deal with it.

So here I am, finally deciding on a genre. I put the word zombie in my query letter. I’m officially calling my manuscript science fiction/horror.

I am dealing with my fear of being a pigeonholed as a zombie fiction writer, one day at a time. And in the end, I can always get a pen name, right?

Anyone else ever have trouble finding their genre? How do you deal with categorizing your story if it straddles two or more genres?

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

SAVAGE published again

SAVAGE has been published in the April 2009 edition of the APEX online magazine. (It's free! Go look!)

I am very pleased.

(and when no one is looking, I dance and scream and run in circles like an idiot.)

Monday, April 6, 2009

Review for Monstrous: 20 Tales of Giant Creature Terror

I was wandering around and checked up on the anthology my short story is in to see if there were any new reviews. And there were! One of them mentions my story specifically, so I giggled a little to myself, did a small happy dance and came here to share. My story is titled SAVAGE.

A pleasant surprise
, March 31, 2009 (4/5 stars)

Can you say "pleasant" about a book where people get eaten by giant bugs? Not sure.

Anyway, I got this for my kid because he is a typical teenage boy who likes all monsters and gross stuff. Being the good parent that I am, I thought I should browse through it through first to make sure it wasn't too violent or, with a story titled "Attack of the 500 Foot Porn Star", too graphic. I'm not adverse to horror, but my tastes run more along the lines of Stephen King, Dean Koontz and the like. I didn't expect to find anything all that enjoyable in this anthology. Shame on me.

There are some really good stories in here. Stories that make you melancholy they they are over so quickly, because you'd really like to read more. My three favorites were "Savage", "Keeping Watch", and "Scales". If you don't buy the anthology for any other reason these three are worth it. I won't give too much away, but "Savage" is a hunter/hunted tale on a alien world with a brave girl and a very big cat-thing. "Keeping Watch" is about something nasty lurking underwater and after reading it I will not put foot in another lake unless I can see the bottom. "Scales" is a man-vs-giant-lizard tale that has pretty clever, if somewhat squirm-inducing, solution to the hungry critter problem.

You read stories like these and you wonder why the heck you don't see good stuff like this on TV or in the movies. We watch a lot of those Sci-Fi channel specials and I wonder who comes up with some of that mess. Anyway, I thought there were a couple of clunkers in the anthology, so it doesn't quite make a 5 star rating for me, but no accounting for taste, right? Oh, and I wouldn't suggest this for younger kids. Mine is 13-going-on-30 and that was skating about the edge of how young I'd recommend.

Of course there are a number of reviews for Monstrous floating around on the web, but I like this one best because...well, I'm sure you can guess.

#wordathon count

Wordathon was a fun little exercise. Got to meet a few new writers via twitter, and talk about procrastination and word counts. I ended up with 5,920 words from Friday to Sunday night at 6:00 pm. A little short of my insane word count goal of 2,714 a day, but it was a nice weekend! The sun, who has been missing in action for a long while, decided to visit.

I'm just happy I got to chapter 21, which marks progress in the plot. My characters have been traveling for three weeks and finally will be arriving at their destination in the start of chapter 22. I'm guessing I'll need to do some trimming and/or rearranging when I edit chapters 17-21ish. I felt like it took forever to write, and I fear there's a lack of action in this section.

No worries, though. There's epic trouble waiting at the the next port of call, putting me back on track for my average fight scene to non-fight scene ratio per story.

Be an agent for a day at Nathan Bransford's blog

Nathan Bransford is having a Be an Agent for a Day exercise over at his blog.

What I find more interesting than being an agent is that he is taking query letter submissions for this contest. So if he selects yours, it will be on the blog and get rejections and/or "requests" from a wide variety of people.

You can submit your query until Sunday and the contest is the week of the 13th.

Based on some feedback from Rick Daley's query critique site, I have some work to do on my HOUND query. All the same, I think I'll see what I can come up with.

Anyone else thinking of joining this fun as either an "agent" or by sending in your query?

Saturday, April 4, 2009

This kitteh is on to something.

Hahaha! That's me. Moar guns, moar fight scenes, moar moar moar!

Friday, April 3, 2009

When I want to write and kitty wants to eat...

...nothing gets done.

Cheesecake posting!

I was gonna wait and blog about my cheesecake birthday until tomorrow, but Litgirl01 was drooling my comments, and who am I to deny people their cheesecake fix!

Thursday marked year 29 of the Screaming Guppy, hence a celebration of much cheesecakey goodness was in order.

This is Banana Cream Cheesecake from Cheesecake Factory and it is as awesome as it looks.

This is my cake of choice, however, though this isn't actually cheesecake. This is a lemoncello torte. And it is divine.

We also went to Gameworks, a video arcade in Seattle. This is Erik in a space pod, plotting to take over the universe. And my random stuffed animal from the crane machine.

Need a weekend writing challenge?

I'm going to Wordathon this weekend. All you do is keep track of all the words you write from Friday at 6:00 pm to Sunday at 6:00 pm. Then post the total in a comment on the blog post in the above link, or on twitter with tag #wordathon.

Why not right? If you're writing anyway, let this be the little push to write a little more. I know I need it. I'm already behind on my two week writing grind goal.

April 1: 2,712 words
April 2: 1,259 words (my b-day though, so I'm allowed to slack. Bah! Nooo, that's an excuse!)

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Dark Book Grind

Since I'll be getting HOUND back from a line edit in about two weeks, I'm hoping I can get the Dark Book done by then. By done, I mean first draft out of my head and on to paper so it can simmer while I put my focus on editing and querying for HOUND.

I expect this WIP in cap out around 100k, again, as I just can't seem to think in terms of a smaller number. Right now I'm at about 62k, which leaves 38k words for two weeks. Which means (hang in there, I know how we writers hate the math) 2,714 words per day for fourteen days, starting today. Yesterday I wrote 4,204 words. When I apply myself, I have no trouble meeting the NaNoWriMo pace of 1,666 words per day, often times more. I'd say I average closer to 2k per day when focused. That means this will take some work, or rather, some dedication and threats inflicted on me by uh, myself.

Less video games, more writing. Less TV shows, more writing. Less excuses, more writing. Less shaving Erik's head, more writ -- oh wait! I don't think I'll have to do that again for at least a month. My debut as a stylist was a stunning one, by the way. You need a shaved head, I'm your girl. Just make sure you want it all gone. I don't do this "even" cutting thing.

GAH! Less blogging, more writing! But wait, isn't blogging writing? Opps. Less excuses was already listed above...

My sanity will thank me later if I can do this. Writing and editing HOUND back to back made me want to pluck my eyes out with a spork. I can't imagine a better way to distance myself than to work on another WIP. But I know once HOUND is back in my hands, ready for action, I won't be able to walk away from it until I'm sending queries.