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Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Independent author and amateur beefcake

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Malware and Wrimo

Well, boy and ghouls, seems as though my computer has a virus.  Or I should say multiple viruses.  One's that like to hide from AVG and Norton.  Clever ones that change the way they look and replicate, when an attempt is made to ride my hard drive of them.  My computer is slow and I can't search for anything online, my web browsers, Chrome and Firefox and IE, all get redirected to another page.  I've done some research into the matter and repeatedly, online, having to use my iPhone to surf the web, due to the previously mentioned matter, I'm reading that a new hard drive is in order, as the virus is quite the persistent little bugger.

Sadly I can't even use my computer to just write, as the whole system is slower, to the point that the mouse stops moving every few seconds and then nothing responds for another few seconds and then it all starts over again.

I kept my old lap top, not really knowing what to do with it, when I had bought a new one, a year ago, so I'll try to use that one, but it's pretty unreliable, as well, mostly from old age, more than anything.

This certainly makes a case to go mac, I have to say, as I didn't download anything to get this virus.  I'm smart enough to not click on suspicious links and clever enough to not enter credit card numbers when they're not required.

I've spent the better part of the past three or four days trying to get my computer working again and I'm pretty much at my whits end.  There's only so many times you can go into your task manager, delete something, reboot the system, only to have everything start all over, because the virus keeps relocating itself onto the hard drive somewhere else.

What this means for the novel writing, for now?  I'm not sure.  I guess it's on hold for the time being, until I can get either the virus off this computer or my old computer working at a normal clip, without shutting down, for no apparent reason.I guess

I'll begin a savings account for a macbook and wait it out.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Kobo and Google

Two big bits of info for us Canadian readers...

1 - The Google bookstore is finally available in Canada

2- Kobo was bought out by a Japanese company

How these two things relate, I'm not sure yet.  My initial response to the Kobo news was, okay, I wanted to buy a Kindle anyway.  One of the reasons I bought a Kobo, all three versions have passed through my hands, actually, was the fact that they were a Canadian company.  Now, that's a mute point.

I have, kind of, a 100-Mile diet attitude about things, I want them made locally, or somewhat locally, if possible.  Now that Kobo is owned by a Japanese company I'm leaning more toward owning something, at least, North American.  The trouble is....Amazon is only selling one of their three Kindle versions, north of the border, and that one happens to be the non-touch, lowest level, Kindle.  Why, O-Why, does Canada always get the short end of the digital stick, when it comes to these things?

For instance, the rest of North America has been enjoying Google Books for a while now, almost a year, I think.  Today, that year later, it finally went live in Canada.  Which, I guess, is good timing, because if I can't get a Kindle in Canada then I can at least buy books from Google, instead of Japan.

Who knew conglomeration could be so confusing...eh?

Most of the people I've talked to have congratulated Kobo on the sale, saying it's a Canadian company that did good.  Sure they did well, in a short period of time they went from a start up to, today, being sold for 315 million.  They also lost 40 million in the last quarter, meaning in one quarter they lost 1/7-ish of their total worth.

Is this the future of e-reading?  Makes me want to run back to books, those things made out of paper and sit on shelves.  Books don't get bought out by foreign companies, change formats or only work on one companies device.

Monday, November 7, 2011

The Hump

When you start a novel, you think you've got it in the bag.  You've got the beginning the middle and the end, the three most important parts of a story, or so I hear.  But then something happens in there somewhere.  Doubt creeps in.  Not right away but a few thousands words in.  You think to yourself, how can I do this?  I've got so far to go yet.  Like running a marathon or swimming across a great distance, it all comes down to just taking that next step, writing that next word or pulling that next stroke.

I'm at that point in my novel where I think....this'll never work.  I like what I've written, think it's even publishing worthy, but, all the same, doubt is creeping in.  Not about the quality or plot of the novel, so much, as the getting to the end part of noveling.

I often wonder if other authors feel this, somehow I doubt people like, the much referenced, Stephen King think, don't know if I can write two thousand words today, when his novels usually clock it at over a thousand pages a piece.

I know he gets there the same way we all do, bit by bit.

Here's a bit of what I'm biting off.

Arnold, one of the owners of the guest house, is explaining to Aidan, the detective, their first run in with something, abnormal.

“We went to bed. The alcohol had dulled our nerves and suddenly things didn’t seem too bad. Sleep came easy and before we knew it we were sawing logs. I’m not sure what time it was, we’ve tried to guestimate, but I would say two-ish? A door slammed. Now, I know you haven’t seen the whole place, yet, but there’s a lot of doors here. We both woke up, it was loud, so we could guess that it was, at least, in the blue wing of the house, closer to us. We sat there for a bit, waiting for something, wondering if we had just heard things or if it was real. That stage between awake and asleep can make you think you’ve heard or have seen something strange. Finally, we just kind of looked at each other, and realized that neither of us had been breathing, in our attempt at maximizing what we could hear. Then we both laughed at that. That’s when another door slammed. This time it seemed closer. Now, I remember thinking. ‘I don’t leave doors open.’ We’re a bed and breakfast, a hotel, basically, opened doors aren’t really a customary thing. As I’m thinking this, our door opens, on it’s own.” There was the quick recognition of Aidan’s upturned eyebrow and then Arnold went back to the story. “I can’t even begin to describe how terrified we were at that moment. The worst, for me, I think, was the waiting, knowing that the door would soon slam shut, like the others we had heard. The thing is, it never did. Instead, the room went icy cold. We could see our breath, it was so cold. And from our vantage, we were flush with the door, we could see puffs of breath, coming from the hallway, as well.” Arnold rolled his eyes back in his head and gave a slight shudder, the tension of telling the tale taking it’s toll. “It was there, something was there, but it wasn’t there, all the same.”

Now I'm off to bite a bit more off....wish me luck :)

Sunday, November 6, 2011

NaNoWriMo 2011 Pep Talk #1

One of the best things about NaNoWriMo is that you get pep talks, delivered to your email, by some pretty heavyweight authors.  In that past some of those authors included, Jasper Fforde, Neil Gaiman, Piers Anthony, Kelley Armstrong, Dave Eggars and Sue Grafton.  This weeks pep talk came via Erin Morgenstern, author of "The Night Circus."  A book I've read, but not reviewed here yet.  She began the book while doing NaNoWriMo, as you'll here in the pep talk, I'll post here.  I'm putting it on here so it's easily accessible for me but also so it's easily accessible for you.  I found it quite inspiring and worthy of a read, if you're an artistic person, of any variety, we call go through the same shoots and ladders.  The creative spark, the doubt, the inspiration, the realization that what you created isn't on par with the idea you originally had and the hard work to whittle away at all the excess.  We all have the same issues....so enjoy.  :)

Dear brave, beautiful NaNoWriMo writer,
I feel a bit like I am writing this from the other side of the looking glass. I am more accustomed to being the participant and not the pep talker. Also, “pep” is a strange word. The Online Etymology Dictionary informs me that it dates from 1912 as a shortened form of “pepper” figuratively meaning spirit or energy. (“Pep talk” only dates back to 1926.) It sounds to me more like a soft drink or a nickname for a small dog. Feel free to think of this pep talk as a small dog full of spirit or energy.
I have been where you are. I suspect this might feel like someone yelling encouragement from a far dry shore, sipping a fancy-glassed drink with a little paper umbrella precariously perched atop it, waving with my free hand while you swim through icy, toe-numbing water. But I have been in that water, many times. My toes have been numb during those dismal days when even minimal wordage seems unattainable and that 50K beach is barely visible through the salt-spray surf. There are probably sharks involved in this analogy as well.
(True confession: I love analogies. I also love adverbs. There, I said it. I love adverbs so much I sometimes contemplate getting an –lytattooed behind my ear to encourage the whispering of sweet, sweet adverbs. But I digress.)
I participated in my first NaNoWriMo in 2003, after years of thinking about writing and not actually putting words down on paper. I managed around 15K before I quit.
I’m not sure why—perhaps I am determined, perhaps I am simply stubborn—but I attempted again the next year and made it to 50k. And again the year after that, and the year after that, and so on and so forth, the most recent being 2009. I have a 6/1 winning record over 7 years. I think my personal best is in the range of 80k in 27 days or something like that. The pride that comes with that winner icon is still a joy. (I particularly liked the Viking-themed year, those were good icons.) And I do so love a progress bar, that gorgeous visual representation of word count progress. I’m a visual person, so that bar helps, it really does.
2010 marked the first NaNoWriMo that I haven’t participated since that first try, and I didn’t have the time mostly because I was in the midst of my final edits for The Night Circus, which began life as a surprise tangent in NaNovel ’05 and was very roughly, sprawlingly drafted during NaNo ’06 & ’07. I am aware that this is cheating. I’m sorry. In my defense, I’m not certain it had enough plot at that point to be considered the same novel.
The circus was my variation on the wise and ancient NaNo wisdom: when in doubt, just add ninjas. I had this plodding, Edward Gorey-esque thing with mysterious figures in fur coats being mysterious and doing very little else. I got tremendously bored with it because nothing was happening so I sent the otherwise boring characters to a circus. And it worked. I ended up tossing that beginning and focusing purely on the circus. An imaginary location I created out of desperation expanded and changed and became its own story over many non-November months of revisions and more revisions and now it is all grown-up and book-shaped and published and bestselling. And it all started with NaNoWriMo.
I like to think of NaNo-ing as excavating. You uncover different things at the 30K mark than you do at 10K. Things that felt like desperate, random nonsense on page 72 (the abandoned broken pocket watch, a partially obscured tattoo, that taxidermied marmot on the mantelpiece) are suddenly important and meaningful on page 187. Everything could hinge on the fate of that marmot. Or the marmot may be a red herring. Or perhaps the marmot is just a marmot. You have to keep writing to find out.
Even if you’re an outliner, leave room for the unexpected things to sneak in. Surprises are half the fun, the spontaneous road trips through tangents and subplots. They might end up being more important than you think. And if they’re not, you can always edit them out after November. No one has to know so for now, for this glorious November, you can do whatever you please. It’s your world to create and explore and even destroy if you want.
I wish I could think of cool, witty things to say. I want to mix you each the beverages of your choice, cocktails or sodas or tea or foam-topped espresso drinks that all magically maintain perfect drinking temperature. Bring you truffles or tira misu or chocolate-covered popcorn and give you wrist massages while whispering these encouraging, fortune-cookie bits of wisdom-esque whatnot garnered in my years of NaNo-ing:
Never delete anything. If you can’t stand to look at it, change the font to white and keep going.
If possible, get a running start. It gives you flexibility for later in the month when you desperately need to do something, anything that doesn’t involve writing once in a while.
Do something, anything that doesn’t involve writing once in a while. Take a walk, go to a museum, do yoga, paint your toenails, spin around in circles. Shake your brain up so the ideas can move around.
Backup. Frequently. Flash drives are your friends. Also, I hear you can store things on clouds now but I’m not sure how that works. It sounds very whimsical, though, and I am a fan of whimsy.
Take risks. (Microsoft Word wanted to autocorrect that to “Take care.” Clearly, Word does not understand NaNoWriMo. Also, this is why I normally write in Scrivener. Scrivener would never suggest such a thing.)
When in doubt, just add ninjas. (Ninjas do not need to be actual ninjas.) (But they can be.)
Let yourself be surprised.
I wish you happy, daring writing laced with surprises. Have fun. Bonne chance.
Erin Morgenstern

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Twisted Ghosts

I'm busy writing my ghost story of a novel "Grey House" and realize that I only have a beginning and a middle.  Granted these are two major stepping stones in order to find my way to the end but do you need an end to have the first two?  Confusing, I know.  Let me explain.  It's common ,and by common I mean a couple people in a room somewhere once posted it on the internet and now it's gone viral,  knowledge that for a mystery novel that you should have an end game in sight.  That it's a good idea to know the ending so you can leave clues along the way.  A ghost story is like a mystery novel, in that it requires clues or hints along the way.

I wonder if movies like "The Sixth Sense" or "The Others" have changed the game of ghost stories.  Is that big dramatic twist at the end necessary for the ride to be worth it?

In every story there's 'ah ha' moments, that's a given.  I still have a story to tell, I just don't have the great revelation at the end to tie it all together in a nice movie sort of way.  Granted there's still a lot of writing between now and when I'm at the end so anything's possible.  I'm only 7,000 words into what I hope turns out to be 60,000, or so.

What say you, my faithful readers...ur...reader, is a twist the new normal for ghost stories?

PS - thought of this, thought it was funny (it's late, my time, 12:30, ya'll, give me a break)  "You got your twist in my ghost story."  "No way, you got your ghost story in my twist!"

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Anne Vs. Stephenie

A feud broke out this week.  Perhaps you didn't hear about it, what with Cain Vs. Perry going on.  Unfortunately this feud has the potential to change the world in which we live in such huge, drastic, proportions.  It all comes down to who's vampires rock more.

I'm not even going to voice an opinion here and you shouldn't have to ask what my answer would be.  Do I want sparkling vampires or vampires that will turn their own mothers or children into blood suckers?

For me, watching this has been quite fun.  Seeing authors wage mini wars on each other is very entertaining.  But, in all honesty, Stephenie Meyer is taking a lot of flack, these days.

Here's what Stephen King has to say....here (hint, it's not positive)

Here's Anne's view....here (obviously, not good)

I read the first book, in the Twilight series, on word of mouth, from friends, long before the movies came out or the Twilight phenom reached fever pitch.  I believe that what Stephen King says is true, "She can't write worth a darn." but it's her ideas that keep the people coming back.  Say what you will but she's tapped into something that has some resonance. I don't get it, most of my friends don't get it, but certainly the people forking over their money for the books and movies 'do' get it.

I just almost wish she would have called them something else, other than Vampires.  Sure they drink blood and have everlasting life but that's pretty much where the similarities end.  While even Bill Murray in Groundhog Day, chose to learn and expand his horizons, as each day repeated.  These 'Vampires' in Twilight choose to stay in high school.  Huuuuuwhaaaaat?  All of eternity poised before you and you want to learn how to skip gym class for the fiftieth year in a row?

Of course, the thing is, without this idea, hundred year old Vampires in school, how would they ever meet our sixteen year old, and get her preggo with a vampire baby, before finally corrupting her further and, eventually, making her sparkle, as well.

Ultimately popular authors have always taken the hit for being popular.