Category Archives: Writing

So, M$ Outlook Actually Taught Me Something Yesterday

I was in the middle of an email with my uber small writing circle, and misspelled “Epilogue”. The spellchecker in Outlook automatically throws up suggestions before you can even do a correct yourself, and “Apologue” came up as a suggestion.

I’d never heard of the word, so I had to search it out of morbid curiosity:

So yes, an allegory or parable. The word is obscure enough nowadays that I’m not certain if I’d use it in writing… Perhaps if a character was fairly erudite and known for their vocabulary.

Still nice to learn something new however. 🙂

FINALLY!!! Scrivener 3 for Windows!

As I’m starting to gear up for more writing, I decided to check yet again to see if the oft promised and never released Scrivener 3 was released for Windows.

IT’S HERE!!!

Not only that, they even kept their word and gave me my upgrade from 1.x for free!

I have to be honest, at this point I’ve just downloaded it and am beginning to work through the tutorial. The only thing new that I’ve seen thus far is the ability to easily insert pictures and videos into your project. I’m not even sure if the videos have to be linked via YouTube or something similar.

Some stuff, as noted in the description I… borrowed from the Scrivener home page has been moved around and “cleaned up”. I’ll see if this ends up to be better organized or not. At this VERY early hour, the two things that I can report are:

  1. That gawdawful, clunky Windows 95 era interface is FINALLY gone
  2. The new version is 64 bit, so it’s a good deal more responsive.

I suspect my previous review will hold true that you can do anything with Office that Scrivener can do. It’s just a question of IF Scrivener has finally made it easier and cleaner to do it with them; one tool instead of 3 or 4.

If you own a copy of 1.x you’re eligible for either a free upgrade or half off depending upon when you bought it, so check it out:

Scrivener for Windows home page at Literature and Latte

Beyond that, I’ll report back in a day or two how things have been going for me.

Sito Privato

OK, time for a “Things that Make You Go Hmmm” post…

Now for those who don’t speak Italian or can’t guess based on the phrase’s similarity to English, the title means Private Site. I bring it up because there’s a blog I follow that’s in Italy, and the gal who runs it has a bad habit of locking most of her followers out of some of her posts. Since just about all of her posts are romantic poetry, thoughts and songs, I assume she’s younger. I likewise assume that given the rest of her posts are about romance and sensuality that the private posts are also.

Every time I hit that private site screen, I can’t help but wonder what’s being posted that she feels the need to keep it hidden from most people.

With that in mind, I wanted to offer some advice to the young women out there: NOTHING, and I mean ABSOLUTELY NOTHING on the internet is private. No matter what you do, there are people with ways around it. Anything from outright hackers to sites that index (and clone) other sites, to “social engineering” and a dozen other possibilities.

Keeping it simple, the aspect of social engineering that we’re talking about here is that whole thing your parents or friends hopefully warned you about with not sharing racy pictures of yourself with somebody you have a crush on. They’ll share with one friend, no matter what they promise, and then it gets passed around more and more until suddenly everybody in the neighborhood, at school and / or at work knows what your bare boobs look like.

My point is this; if your piece of erotica or sensual poetry is that sexual, or you don’t feel comfortable sharing that pic (nude or not), putting it behind a “private” page or site is really NO protection at all. You have two realistic choices here:

DON’T DO IT. Use discretion and common sense levels of caution and don’t post that written material or picture. You’re very likely saving yourself a good deal of drama later on down the road. Won’t happen to you? That’s what EVERY girl that ended up with nude pictures passed around school, or the star of a revenge porn video on the internet said. None of them set out to be publicly humiliated.

The other option is to accept it’s VERY likely going to happen to you also at some point. Webpage passwords are minimal protection. They might be better than just “owning it” and putting it out on display for everybody but the end result is probably going to be the same. That pic, video or story could resurface at the worst possible time too.

Hypocritical, given that I write erotica? Superficially, BUT I’m only warning you of the likely fallout. I’m also careful to disclose minimal personal information and NO pictures of myself. I’d do follow those last two steps regardless. The world has too many weird people in it.

Use wisely your power of choice.

A Writing Problem I’m Struggling With

A few of you longer term readers MAY recall I keep threatening to get the reboot of my Witchfire series underway. One of the problems I’ve run into is that instead of just doing a cancel and start all over at the beginning (like Television and movies do), I wanted to add a twist and create a situation where our heroine ends up back at day 1 via unintended time travel, and has the opportunity to correct some of her mistakes of the past few months of story time.

Part of me is iffy on the whole idea in the first place. About a year and a half ago I wrote a post on using time travel creatively in fiction instead of using it as a get out of jail free card for bad writing (among other things). It feels like I *am* using it as an easy out to fix what I didn’t like about the first nine chapters though. At the same time, I can add a few other unique and exciting twists that will keep the reboot from becoming the same old “let’s go back in time and fix things” cliche.

The bigger stumbling block for me is the temporal mechanics involved; ie ‘the how it works’ aspects that keep the plot device believable for readers and workable for the writer. Here’s the options I’ve explored:

The standard comic book situation where there just can be multiple versions of characters working side by side. Witchfire is a little overpowered vs the other characters to start with, and two of her could make the story really unbalanced. Multiple iterations of more than one character could get confusing for readers also, so I don’t see this as a viable option.

Two easy options around this would be something like ‘Back to the Future’ or ‘Quantum Leap’, where a character passes out when confronted with their future self, OR is whisked off to some ‘waiting room’. Taking the original out of the picture leaves that character NOT experiencing the events that the future version did though. THEN the future version doesn’t have those events / memories to draw upon anymore. In short, it works if the traveler is only going to be there briefly. Long term, we get plot holes.

I could make the original nine chapters a dream that Witchfire recalls as she goes forward, but let’s face it, THAT has been the ultimate writing cliche and cop out since the resolution of the “Who Shot JR” thing back in the 1980s version of Dallas. I just couldn’t do that without hating myself, lol.

NEVER do this to your readers!

The closest thing I’ve come to finding a workable option is that if a time traveler comes face to face with their past self, the two beings merge into one. This eliminates the writer being saddled with multiple incarnations of the same character running around together, and by extension makes the story easier to follow for the reader.

It’s convenient, but still feels slightly… contrived(?) to me. There’s also the question of do the characters simply un-merge when / IF the time traveler goes back to the future (as opposed to just waiting for time to catch up to the point they traveled). Easy enough to say yes, but does the earlier version retain the later version’s memories and skills that may have been learned? They did essentially share a mind and body after all.

These MAY seem like minor points or questions on the surface, but we’re talking about a plot device that will set the tone early, and may flavor various events as the story progresses. Getting everything correct and coherent is going to be HUGE in how readable the story is.

SO, is there an option I left out? A way to put a little polish on the “merger” idea that might make it feel less awkward? Let me know.

711

Nope, not THAT 7 Eleven. 😀 I’m up to 711 followers. Not bad for a blog that’s often completely random and written by the world’s most frustrated aspiring author. 🙂

With that said, I wanted to add a “Welcome!” to the newer followers, and say that I appreciate you all.

I want to add a special Thank you to the rare few who truly read the posts, and even occasionally comment. 🙂 I know you may not always agree with me, but I hope I’ve kept you entertained and given you food for thought at least. 🙂

Scrivener Update / Rant

What seems like centuries ago, I did a post with some brief impressions of the Scrivener writing software.

Part of my reasons for the earlier review being fairly positive was that buyers were promised a free upgrade to version 3.0. That version has been out for Apple products for some time. It has a MUCH cleaner, more professional looking user interface. Some new features, and 64 bit architecture also, which means performance should be much faster since it call use ALL of a newer PC’s resources.

Well, as it turns out… Literature and Latte has apparently been promising said upgrade for nearly three years now. They’ve failed to meet multiple promised release dates, and have had almost nothing to say on the project. Well, beyond that converting source code from Apple to Windows is HARD! anyway. 😥🙄

The irony here is that I was looking for an alternative to M$ Office because I felt I was being ripped off by Microsoft for never being able to reinstall a copy if I have a drive go bad or upgraded. NOW, it looks like L&L has been playing a game of misrepresentation and false advertising of it’s own to boost sales.

Strangely enough, to me anyway, this has divided the user base quite a bit. Some are perfectly happy with more clunky version 1.9 and say that L&L doesn’t owe anybody anything. I’d argue they owe what they advertised and promised to their paying customers.

If you went into a restaurant, and ordered a nice meal, but only got the main course… Your sides and drink were ignored no matter how much you asked when they were coming… Would you STILL pay for the full meal just because the steak was adequate? Would you pay full price for a car without tires and rims just because you like the rest of it, even though you were promised it come with wheels?

In my opinion, this is yet another example of how capitalism has gone off the rails. Fifty years ago, business was done on a handshake, and your word was your bond. NOW, it’s “Screw it, and the contract, I don’t feel like it”.

Whatever happened to ethics and integrity? Oh yeah…

Cynical, and a tiny bit melodramatic? Perhaps, but nothing is made worth a damned anymore, and businesses pull things like L&L did all the time also.

End of rant though.

Bottom line, AT BEST I can only be neutral on recommending Scrivener anymore. It has a learning curve as bad as MS Office, and is only better organized if you don’t understand how MS Office interconnects nowadays. The price is better however. If you’re using a PC, you just have to be OK with being lied to and getting less than you paid for.

Personally, I’m starting to look into the alternatives to Scrivener, like The Novel Factory. We work too hard for what little we have here to be cheated by companies.

Advice for Struggling Writers

I decided to do a little Sunday (non-religious) motivational today.  I read another blog where an aspiring author was (or sounded) severely depressed about the inability to get going as a writer.  I left some heartfelt encouragement there.  I’d been struggling with the same issues myself for the longest time after all. 

I think there are other writers out there that could use similar words of encouragement.  With that in mind, I want to pass on what’s helped me make my breakthroughs.

First, one of the biggest causes of writer’s block is simply self-doubt.  That, in turn, frequently comes from being too externally focused.  That means you’re basing your sense of self-worth on the input of others.  The problem with that is people are almost always negative if you have a dream different from where they’re at or aiming for in life.  Why? 

Because they’re secretly jealous that you have the courage to try something different and chase a dream.  If you succeed, it’ll make them feel all the worse about themselves that they never even had the courage to try. 

The million different rationalizations you’ll hear will all be cached in terms of protecting you, not wanting to see you fail, wanting you to be realistic, etc…  The truth is though that they’re scared of what they THINK your potential success means for or reflects upon them.  They’re probably not evil, just worn down by life and rationalizing on a level so deep that they don’t even realize why they’re truly attacking you.

In terms of dealing with the negative feedback, the best option in my opinion, is to turn it around in a friendly positive way.  Ask them about their dreams and then encourage them to chase those, “even if it’s just a hobby or side gig”.  That last part will make it sound less threatening for them to do so.

The main thing though, especially with breaking through the writer’s block and struggling, is you have to let go of the self-doubt and have faith in yourself.  You’ll struggle, you’ll fall, but THAT’S OK.  It’s part of the learning process.  Accept that, gently analyze where you came up short, and work to do better next time. 

Beyond that, you have to do it for YOUNOT to prove others wrong, (although that does work for some people), not to get an inflated ego that will block your learning and growth either.  Write show yourself that you’re capable, to grow better, and because it brings you joy.  When you can give yourself permission to do that, it won’t matter how many books you write, or how many you sell.  You’ll be a success because you’ll be growing as a person.  Work at it though, and the financial success will likely follow the emotional and spiritual success. 😉

ALMOST everybody has the talent to be a good writer.  Want to know a secret?  Almost everybody has the talent to be a great ANYTHING.  You just have to be willing to work at it.  Michael Jordan and Lebron James were NOT born great basketball players.  They got to be legends among professionals because they worked at it 8 or more hours a day, every day.  I guarantee you they were rough at first also.  They were determined to work at something they loved though and gave themselves permission to fail as long as they learned from it. 

Likewise, realize that you CAN do it (whether it’s writing or anything else).  It WILL be slow at first, and you WILL have to be dedicated to continually improving yourself.  Time, effort and patience, especially with yourself, is all it takes.

As far as some writers turning out tons of books a year…  I guarantee you very few people doing that are turning out QUALITY work.  At least not their best quality. Even a good portion of James Patterson’s books are ghost written.  Maxine Paetro writes all his “Women’s Murder Club” books, for example.  On the flip side, Michelangelo took 4 years to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, but everybody remembers it.  Ergo, it’s OK to work slowly, just keep going.

It’s In The Cards?

Picture borrowed from Flickr – https://www.flickr.com/photos/rosaumbra/3567680676

This one is a repost from my adult blog, originally done yesterday. It’s going to get a bit new-agey, but just hang in there. I promise it’ll be interesting regardless. First, let’s start with a little honesty, both with myself and you all:

Yes, life has been a seemingly never ending series of small train wrecks the last few years (and before that, lol), BUT, even as frustrating as multiple moves, dogs barking and stampeding, etc… have been… The real reason I’ve done so little (creative) writing is self-doubt.

In terms of the adult blog and writing erotica / romance, well… Anything sexual is both complicated and draining for an Empath also.

Only Arrowverse fans will get it, but… LOLOL

Even just creative writing about it tends to pull on or out a great deal of emotional energy. That MAY be something for another post however. It would take time to discuss properly.

LONG story short, I’ve spent a great deal of time the last few weeks reflecting on whether or not writing, erotica in particular, was something that I was truly ready to pursue… or if maybe I should focus on more mundane pursuits. Not coming to any real conclusions on my own, I turned to the tarot card reading software I have to see if I could get a little insight.

As a Side Note, I know what a few of you MAY be thinking; “Get a reading from a piece of software?!?” Well, I actually DO have a real deck, but I’m still learning to read it. More importantly, whether you’re using physical cards or software, it’s just your subconscious mind / higher self trying to communicate with you. With the software, you pick the cards, the software places them, and tell you their base meaning, and how being inverted and or it’s position with other cards effects it’s meaning. Once the cards are all read, the software leaves you to interpret how it all comes together to answer your question. Again, because it’s all really about getting an answer from your subconscious, it’s been surprisingly accurate for me every time I’ve used it.

With that clarification, I’m going to post the “reading” I did on becoming an author. Coincidentally, what you see below is exactly what the program spit out in terms of describing each card.

Cards from the Celtic Dragon Tarot deck; the style of deck I own.

Summary (Career Reading)

QUESTION: How Successful Will I Be as a Writer?

First card: The first card describes the past. It can also signify past factors such as study or work experience.

(1) YOU GOT: The World.
This card is about joy of the senses, the cosmic origin of life, love and happiness. This card is well-dignified (100%), this means that its neighbor cards strengthen it. Meanings: Well-dignified it signifies success, a favorable issue to the circumstances. Sometimes change of place.

Second card: The second card describes the present situation. It’s the current state of the subject’s career.

(2) YOU GOT: Five of Staves.
This card is about persuasion, hot speech, demonstration of love or desire and egotism. Meanings: Power, and pleasure in exercising it; adventure, speculation, and uncertainty; strong attachments. This card is well-dignified (100%), this means: Boldness, command, generosity.

Third card: The third card describes the positives, the ‘pros’.

(3) YOU GOT: Knight of Swords.
This card is about a military man, painful memories, distress in the family and war. Meanings: A youngish man, with some talent for governing, rather materialistic, though with some artistic appreciation, active, clever, fond of travel, dexterous, and skillful in management. This card is well-dignified (100%), this means: Favorable to the enterprises of the Querent.

Fourth card: The fourth card describes the negatives, the ‘cons’.

(4) YOU GOT: Seven of Cups.
This card is about thoughts, ideas, intelligence, plans and imagination. This card is well-dignified (100%), this means that its neighbor cards strengthen it. Meanings: Possible victory, but the person to whom the card applies may be too indolent to take advantage of his opportunities for commanding circumstance; success may be gained, but not followed up; necessity for choosing the highest possible objectives.

Fifth card: The fifth card describes the influence of colleagues, management and others with whom the subject has professional dealings.

(5) YOU GOT: The Lovers.
This card is about sensuality and human love. This card is well-dignified (100%), this means that its neighbor cards strengthen it. Meanings: Attraction, beauty, love, sympathy. Balance of forces, and reciprocal activity. Particularly, agreement in things of the mind, symbolized by the six-pointed star, or hexagram. It is a card of harmony between the inner and outer life.

Sixth card: The sixth card describes the best path to take in order to further the subject’s best interest in the matter.

(6) YOU GOT: Nine of Swords.
This card is about dogmatism, ritual, ecclesiastic spirit and hard judgment. This card is well-dignified (100%), this means that its neighbor cards strengthen it. Meanings: Faithfulness, obedience, unselfishness, patience; fortunate news about legal affairs or partnerships, especially if the outcome has been delayed or in doubt; aid or gain through relatives, short journeys, or writings, but not until the Querent has passed through a period of more or less uncertainty and worry; ultimate good fortune resulting from a series of events which present unfavorable appearances at first.

Seventh card: The seventh card describes the outcome. It indicates the final result if the path shown is followed.

(7) YOU GOT: Two of Swords.
This card is about magnetic attraction, intimacy, affection and sensuality.
This card is well-dignified (100%), this means that its neighbor cards strengthen it. Meanings: Contradictory characters in the same nature: strength through suffering; pleasure after pain. Delay in the realization of objectives. It intimates a period of uncertainty, in which the Querent, through he has a sense of adequate power, does not know just what to do with it. Justice, unselfishness, and the restoration of peace.

MY (Short) Take On It:

The first card; The World meant that my past work, while needing improvement, is better than I’ve given myself credit for, and is an indication that I have ability. The second card; 5 of Staves, is along the same lines. It means I’ve got the ability and need to put it to use. The third card; Knight of Swords, means I have the organizational skills to handle the choice. The fourth card; Seven of Cups, means I’ll have to be dedicated to the work and improving my craft if I want to succeed. The fifth card; The Lovers, I’m *guessing* means I’ll have some support in the effort. As for the sixth card; The 9 of Swords, it means the best path is hard work, serious effort at growth, and releasing the self doubt. The seventh card; the 2 of Swords (interesting that so many of the minor arcana cards were Swords… means it’ll be a struggle at first, but if I keep at it, I’ll be successful.

All in all, I’d say it was a very positive reading.

Erotica and Witchfire Specifically (Link is NSFW):

A few hints in the above reading indicated that erotica was indeed in the cards for me, (pun always intended, lol). None the less, I did separate readings on both of those with similar results. The main difference being that the readings indicated that they would both be tools to help me find increased peace with that part of my nature. They’d both be growth tools in their own unique ways. How long they’d remain a part of my life however, was hard to say.

Wrapping it Up:

I’ve overcome a great deal the last few months. I even got my neck and back returned to a (somewhat) functional state and am continuing to work hard there. I can and will make this work too. It’s long past time I let go of the self doubts.

I have alot of half finished stories and posted story ideas to work on too. 😀

Ever Wonder What Happened to Harry Potter?

Oh sure, you got that brief blurb at the end of Deathly Hollows where he’s sending the kid to Hogwart’s, but what REALLY happened to him? I’ve got the scoop!

After Harry graduated, he tried to pursue a boring 9 to 5 job in the mundane world but quickly bored of it. He traveled to Vegas and quickly became THE act to see on the strip with his magic.

Unfortunately, his unbelievable and unequaled act also earned him the jealous wrath of Penn and Teller, and a few other stage magicians. A vicious smear campaign on social media and elsewhere led to Harry being ran out of town on a rail.

He took the remainder of his savings and settled into small town Tennessee where he opened a couple of gas stations with convenience stores. He’s lived there quietly ever since. His stores are super popular, as they always seem to have everything in stock, and his gas prices have been described as magically, almost unbelievably low. 😉

And now you know the rest of the story…

Moral Relativity Invades the Realm of Fantasy

This is one I’ve been wanting to write for a good while. JRR Tolkien’s 129th birthday seems as good a day as any to write about it.

So what exactly am I talking about? There’s been a trend for years to try to draw dissimilar comparisons between fantasy stories and games (especially Dungeons and Dragons) and the real world. Heroes are compared to burglars and mass murderers, while monsters and villains are made out to be poor innocent and misunderstood victims of the heroes’ actions.

There’s so many angles to attack this from. First is the idiotic idea that if you’re truly good, you’re supposed to see ANYONE doing anything bad as a victim and completely excuse their behavior. In many areas today, people are even expected to flee their own homes instead of confronting a burglar. Being truly good does not mean being a doormat, a victim OR tolerating evil. If it did, that would mean we should turn our back on and outright excuse racism, homophobia, rape, pedophilia, etc.. Is that REALLY the kind of world anyone wants to live in? Taken to it’s ultimate conclusion, such a mindset results in a society of survival of the fittest where the strongest take whatever they want with impunity.

Being TRULY good means taking a stand against what’s wrong, but having a measured response that doesn’t exceed the problem.

Then there’s tearing down heroes in general. Most of the people who buy into the above idea don’t pay attention to the pattern the last couple of decades where just about every hero has been portrayed negatively in some way. MLK cheated on his wife, Ghandi helping create Pakistan led to Muslims dying on the move there (as if it were his plan no less), the founding fathers owned slaves, the great thinkers of the Enlightenment started the idea of racism (talk about a complete lie), all the way down to negative portrayals of everyone from King Arthur to Captain America (who was supposedly secretly a Nazi) and Superman. There’s a plan there to take away anyone or anything that people could look up to as a role model.

More to the specific point of the post here, MONSTERS ARE NOT PEOPLE. The biggest flap along these lines was a social media campaign to destroy Wizards of the Coast because people were offended by the portrayal of Orcs and Drow Elves in Dungeons and Dragons. There were multiple complaints about them being representative of black people. D&D is based 90% plus on Tolkien’s middle Earth. Can anybody who has watched the Lord of the Rings movies and seen the nearly identical Orcs tell me ANYTHING they have in common with with black people? Two legs and two arms, that’s about it.

What does it say about the people making those charges that THEY see a black person when they look at the above picture?!? The same goes for D&D’s imfamous Drow Elves:

If anything, they look like a gothic elven vampire with that grey skin.

The Twits on Twitter got their way though, and the 5th Edition rules for Dungeons and Dragons have completely watered down and changed the stories for Orcs, Drow and other creatures. They’re not evil, they’re just misunderstood.

So after the Orcs raid the village, killing most of it and carry off the women as slaves and entertainment, the heroes are supposed to go give them hugs and psychological counseling I guess.

There’s nothing wrong with having evil in a fantasy setting any more than there is admitting that a small percentage of people of every race are legitimately evil in the real world, and a large portion of the rest will follow anyone like sheep.

Without conflict, there’s nothing to drive a story, not a catalyst for the character’s growth either. Makes for a pretty boring story, huh?

LOTR Seen Thru the Lens of Moral Relativism:

Let’s take this misguided utopian ideal and apply it to the Ring trilogy, since it’s Tolkien’s birthday. The book starts out the same, with Bilbo getting the ring and heading off. He’s of course followed by the other 3 hobbits. However, when the Nazgul start chasing them, they quickly agree that the poor creatures must be that way because they led unhappy lives, and that if they just approach them and show some compassion and understanding, everybody will be friends.

The Nazgul kill all four hobbits in a gruesome manner and return the ring to Sauron who promptly takes over Third Earth, reducing it and it’s population to ash. End of book and trilogy.

Sounds exciting, huh? Yeah… not really.

Bottom Line:

Social justice and equality are wonderful ideas we should all embrace. NOT when they’re taken to such an extreme that there’s no such thing as right or wrong, OR we can’t even admit that somebody did something evil.

When it gets to the point that standing up to evil is seen as the real evil, especially in a completely fictional setting, something is VERY wrong with society’s thinking.

As I’ve said before, the worst evils out there have been caused by “well meaning” people taking good ideas way too far.