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The Strangeness of Me

The Strangeness of Me

I am sitting here on a Monday morning staring at my messy desk. Sunday was the epitome of lazy. I finished my personal taxes and sent everything off to my CPA, who’s currently working on my LLC taxes. Other than that, I didn’t do diddly squat. Nothing. Nada. I couldn’t even be bothered to make a list of everything I had to do. Stanley and I napped and played, napped and watched TV, then napped again.

I felt like a slug.

But back to this morning. I looked at the To Love a Duchess audio CD set (my copy) and finally opened it. I’d never opened a set before. There they were, all those CDs read by an actor.

I have to confess that audio CDs drive me batty. I don’t like the actors changing voices and pretending to be different characters. I’d rather hear a computer read a book to me. When it’s MY book it’s even weirder. It doesn’t sound at all like I heard it in my head. I’m not only disoriented. I’m disturbed. Go figure.

I sat here imagining the actor reading my book. He had to become as familiar with my work as I am. It’s one thing to line edit. Or to be a proof editor. You’re looking at the words arranged in a sentence. Or the story cohesion. But reading it aloud, putting emphasis on each character makes you, well, intimate with the work.

It was the oddest sensation just holding those CDs and knowing that this actor and I had a weird and tenuous bond.

I won’t listen to his rendition of my book. As I said audio CDs drive me batty. I don’t want to know how he sounds as the hero. Or what kind of voice he uses for the heroine. Nope.

I couldn’t help but wonder, however, as he’s reading, if he has any particular thoughts of his own. Things like: crap, if I’d only studied engineering I wouldn’t have to read romance novels for a living. 🙂



Once More Into the Breach, Y’all

Once More Into the Breach, Y’all

I’ve always maintained that I’m not a programmer, developer, or coder. I haven’t a clue what I’m doing in the back end of my website and prefer to NEVER go there. I don’t DO PhP and I don’t mess with CSS, either. (I was really proud of myself when I finally got HTML, but wouldn’t you know, I hardly deal with HTML.)

I use the Genesis framework for WordPress to run my website. Genesis makes everything easier for coders, developers, and programmers and is very security conscious. If you’re not a coder, developer, or programmer you’re pretty much lost. My website has stayed the same for years because, well, I’m pretty much lost. However, I just discovered that I could change from the Genesis framework and Genesis child themes and go to something a heck of a lot more user friendly.

Color me thrilled.

I finished the book on Christmas night, so it has been put away for awhile to percolate. I don’t touch it during this time. My mind, however, is still thinking about it so I will be making notes to make sure I said certain things, or that character issues are spelled out, that descriptions are adequate, that sort of thing. January 15th I will start the final read of the book on my Kindle. I’ve already had the computer read it to me, so that’s done.

All of that frees me up to screw up my website to my heart’s content.

So, if you see things that look weird or broken, don’t panic. That’s just me messing everything up and hopefully having a wonderful time doing it. 🙂

Are Writers Nuts?

Are Writers Nuts?

I was listening to the podcast of a well-known and popular author the other day. I respect him as an author and a public speaker. However, he managed to surprise me with a comment.

He said that all writers and actors are nuts. 

The reason? Well, in order to dig deep in their portrayal of characters, actors often re-visit old traumas. Instead of allowing these traumas to heal they use them, constantly peeling off the scab, refreshing the sadness, pain, or angst involved in a particular trauma. Writers, too, feed off of their own experiences of pain in order to convey them with authenticity.

His point was that we shouldn’t listen to actors when they tell us how to vote or think about cultural topics because these people are not psychologically healthy. In that same vein, neither are writers.

You’re probably going to be surprised when I say that I partially agree with him.

Of all the literary genres, romance is probably the healthiest one for writers. I’ve often wondered about horror writers. What must being terrorized/being a terror do to the human psyche? You see, I believe that a writer has to feel what he writes. He has to experience it. Otherwise, what you have is a surface kind of writing that never truly reaches you. You don’t feel a connection.

I don’t read “literary fiction” because I don’t want to be depressed. It’s my feeling that the author probably has had a significant experience in her life and replays it in words.

Do I revisit certain pain points in my own life? Yes. I can’t help but do so when something comes too close. For example, a certain scene in To Love a Duchess tore me up. Not because it was identical to something I experienced, but because it resurrected certain feelings. Anyone who’s ever read Tapestry will know that I replayed a lot of personal angst in that book.

Does that mean that I consider myself psychologically unhealthy? Nope. I’m pretty centered with my head screwed on straight. I write romance so I get to experience lots and lots of joyous emotions. In other words, all the good things that can happen to people. I am, however, cognizant of the dangers of writing and of going to those dark places all the time. Writing is sometimes painful and that isn’t a confession you’ll hear a lot when you visit writing forums. Writing pulls emotions from the depths of you.

A couple of years ago I had the idea for this really fascinating, creepy story. I couldn’t finish it because it scared me to death. Yes, I can scare myself. Maybe I was giving voice to something within me that should have remained buried and undisturbed. (And maybe that’s why I wonder about horror writers.) 🙂

What’s your opinion? As a reader, have you ever read something that made you certain the author had experienced a version of it? As a writer, do you wonder about how “deep” you get into emotions?

Just in Case You Were Wondering…

Just in Case You Were Wondering…

I finished the first draft of the new book on Thanksgiving night. I have some chapters to write, but I hit the word count and 100,000 words always seems like something unreachable to me. After I edit I pare it down to about 93,000. So, even though I’m not finished/finished I count reaching 100,000 words as hitting my goal. I’ll write the chapters next week so I can start the second draft December 1.

I’ve decided to go back and answer all the wonderful comments you’ve made in the past few weeks. If you get a notification that I’ve written something in response to you that’s why. I was really bad about answering comments since I had my head down, slaving over a hot computer. I’m trying to make up for it now. (I won’t get to all of them tonight, but I will make inroads.)

Picture me on my white chair with Stanley asleep beneath my right elbow, all curled up on the arm of the chair. He’s commandeered every arm of every chair/couch in this house. He is nice and toasty warm, though.  (Every once in awhile he gives off this strange moan/groan/sound. I can’t tell if he’s fussing at me or just happy.)

Technology Woes

Technology Woes

I had the most fun this past Thursday and Friday doing something odd on my computer.

As you know if you’ve read the blog for any length of time I dictate the first draft of every book. It helps me get the words out of my brain and onto the page. Plus it saves my wrists. I occasionally get carpal tunnel pain and I don’t want it to increase.

I’ve used Dragon NaturallySpeaking since it first came out. I’ve also used ViaVoice and every other speech to text program there is. I’ve always come back to Dragon because I think it’s the best. Right now, they are the only company that makes a speech to text program for Mac. 

Well, in late October they announced that they were no longer going to support Dragon for Mac. That means that they aren’t going to continue to generate new versions, either. I think, from what I’ve read, that the problem begins at Apple, not Nuance – who makes Dragon NaturallySpeaking. Something about Apple limiting developer access to certain functions on the Mac, etc.

I’ve always thought that Dragon for Mac was a poor substitute compared to Dragon for Windows. I absolutely adored Dragon for Windows because it was simple, easy to correct mistakes, and the voice recognition ability was superb. Dragon for Mac is like a wagon next to a Jaguar. It’s pretty much a pain. I’ve been thinking of getting a Windows laptop strictly to run Dragon for Windows, but then the other day I thought about installing Parallels again.

Parallels is a program that you put on Mac that allows you to run the Windows operating system. When I first used it years ago it was a disaster. I couldn’t get it to work. I don’t know what the problem was. Last year when I bought this iMac I went whole hog, if you’ll pardon the expression. I bought a super loaded machine. I have a 2 TB fusion hard drive and RAM out the wazoo. It has one of the best video and sound cards you can buy. In other words, it was probably overkill. However, if any machine can handle a virtual operating system, this one can.

I am thrilled to report that I installed Parallels, then Windows 10, then an antivirus software program, and then Dragon for Windows. Everything works. Everything works beautifully. Maybe it was the new, improved Mac operating system, Mojave. Maybe I just figured out how to install it correctly. Maybe it was just luck. I don’t care what it is – it works!

Anyway, pardon me for being technical, or pseudo-technical. I’m just happy I got everything to work. It was an absolute pleasure working on Friday and I just kept dictating and dictating. I’m dictating 6000 words a day and if I can find the software that makes it easier, I’m all for it.

Right now I’m bopping between the two operating systems because I can dictate directly into Scrivener from Dragon for Mac. However, I am ready for the next update to Mac’s operating system to cause problems with Dragon. That’s the way it normally happens.

Oh, if you’ve never used Dragon Anywhere I highly recommend it. It allows me to dictate on my phone and that really helps when I am in the backyard or having to wait in my car for some reason. Like all Dragon products it’s not cheap, but it’s really worth it. 

Have you ever used Parallels or Dragon for Mac or Windows? Are you a Windows person or a Mac person?