28 January 2010

Too much Apple Kool-Aid?

Hi. My name is Anne, and I'm an Apple FanWoman. I'm been drinking the Apple KoolAid since 2004.

My first computer was not an Apple product but a RadioShack TRS80 on which I learned BASIC programming. In college I upgraded to an IBM clone that helped me complete two engineering degrees. Connected to a phone modem, it ran iterations for cost efficient garbage pick up for a fictional city, patent discussions essays and my Master's degree on a particular semiconductor characterization technique. After many years of using the computer and learning a programming language (FORTRAN), I'd developed a familiarity with my IBM clone that let me use both DOS and the Windows OS with ease.

My first taste of Apple Kool-Aid happened during grad school and I hated it. In charge of managing my adviser's research budgets, I'd typed four hours worth of data into a special program just for the computer to crash, losing EVERY keystroke. Not knowing enough about Apple products, I couldn't figure out any of the back doors that I knew on an IBM-type machine. So, I had to retype everything, but before my adviser purchased the program for Windows based machines. With the awful taste still memorable, I avoided the Apple Kool-Aid at all costs after that.

I didn't drink the kool-aid again until I'd left the workforce and was a full-time stay-at-home mom. After  our Windows-based computer finally crashed, my husband, an Apple fanboy, suggested that we look at an iMac. Reluctantly, I accompanied him to the Apple Store, and WOW.  I've never looked back.

The best thing to say is that the devices are sooo easy to use. Be it an iPod (Classic, Shuffle, Nano, Touch), iPhone, iMac (PowerPC and Intel), MacBook Air, AppleTV, I've been happy with each and every purchase. And when our current Apple computers, devices and appliances give out, I plan to replace them with more Apple products.

And now there is the iPad. Do I need it? No. Do I want it? YES! While I could probably do with out one, I can too easily see where it would fit in very nicely in my life ... an eBook reader.

Over at TechCrunch today is a post addressing the iPad vs. the Kindle. And I'd have to say I pretty much agree with each discussion point. Even though we have a Kindle, I still do most of electronic reading on my iPhone. But if I had a choice, I'd prefer something the size of the Kindle with iPhone capabilities. And now, there is just a device; the iPad.

I can already imagine using it to catch up on shows that the cable-provided DVR missed, in the kitchen with ecookbooks and my own recipes in my Bento database, keeping the kids busy while we are out and about. Nevermind the ability to write on the go (using Evernote, WriteRoom, Safari). It remains to be seen if it would replace my MacBook Air as I use Scrivener as my primary writing tool.

Better go and get some water, I've drunk my fill of Apple Kool-Aid for the day.

17 January 2010

Between Books

 (Photo by apoxapox)

Know when you've just finished reading a book and need to pick another? When you glancing over titles and authors' names in the To Be Read pile, trying to figure out what type of book to read - sci fi, romance, thriller, historical fiction, craft?

That's where I sit right now.

Sara Donati's last book in the Bonner Family series, The Endless Forest, releases this week. Gotta be ready for that book when it arrives. (Been listening to the audiobooks while going about my daily business to get ready the book.)

So, what do I read until I have The Endless Forest in my little hands?

Something short and quick (wish I had another of Viehl's Darkyn series in my pile.) Maybe I should just finish the Wilderness Series audiobooks. I could read a few chapters in Writing Fiction or McKee's Story.

Choices, choices, choices.

Excuse me while I go look at my pile again.

12 January 2010

Yep, revising.

Yep, still revising. I haven't moved past the first lesson from the HTRYN, the course I'm using to help me revise my first novel. The course started the 29th of November, nearly a month and a half ago.

Yep, still on the first lesson. I've yet to complete the first read through in which I'm supposed to note the things that are not working in the novel. Since I'm still a newbie to this revising business, I know I'm missing a lot of things and just don't know it.

Yep, frustrating. Frustrating to be doing something without really knowing how to do it. Frustrating to be so far behind the course (just downloaded lesson 7, but not even looking at it.)

Yep, technically, I'm still slaying the beast. Well, maybe not slaying, more like poking and jabbing at it. The lesson employs worksheets on which I take copious notes of inconsistencies, bad dialogue, world-building problems and info-dumps. I've still have a long ways to go just to finish lesson 1 as I am only on page 196 of the 374 page beast.

Yep, slogging on. I can only reading a few pages a day with my limited time during the little one's nap and after the kids go to bed at night. But every page is one more than the day before, slow progress. If one calls moving slower than a snail progress.

Yep, creative juices still flowing. Great ideas for how to make the story interesting come to me while I'm writing my notes on the worksheets. These ideas tempt me to dump this revision and just start anew. But, given that I'm paying for the course, I can't in good conscience do that. Besides, what better way to learn how to revise but with a truly awful first draft of a terrible first novel? Right? Please say right.

Yep, grrrr.

Yep, revising.

09 January 2010

Looking for something funny to read?

I read Ray Rhamey's new story, The Vampire Kitty-cat Chronicles, and it provided me with some much needed humor from the chaos that accompany the holidays.

For those not familiar with Ray ... He's a multi-talented editor who critiques the first 16 lines of author-submitted first chapters to his blog, Flogging the Quill. He allows his blog visitors to comment and participate in the critique as well. It is one of those sites that I visit for mini-lessons on writing craft. Enlightening and intimidating at the same time. He's also an author, having written Flogging the Quill and now a new story, The Vampire Kitty-cat Chronicles.

Inspired by L. Viehl, Ray asked his blog visitors to participate in his experiment to get the word out about his new story. Given what I get out of his blog, I figured the least I could do was read his story and give a shout out. So, with an eARC of his story on my reading devices (Kindle and iPhone), I delved into this story.

Told from Patch's perspective, the story starts with the incident that changes him from a normal kitty-cat to vampire kitty-cat. From there we see his narrow escape from being sunburned to death, his torment of a vampire dog that is afraid of cats and his unintentional place in the political spotlight. As I read Patch's story I laughed out loud many times and stopped to read some of the cat's witty opinions to my husband, like 
  • his opinion on canines, the vampire looking teeth: "...why aren't they called "felines" -- our carnivore teeth are much better developed than what dogs have ..." 
  • his opinion on dogs: "Dogs are such losers."
  • opinions about humans: "It's a common mistake for humans to think they can own a cat." and "Now there was where cats took exception to human customs. If we don't like somebody, we do our best to make them go away. The way we see it, only fool suffer fools ..."
I enjoyed Ray's characterization of Patch - an independent cat that calls 'em like he sees 'em. Some of the human vampires were annoying, but I suppose they would be to a cat. This is not a nail-bitter of a story, but truly entertaining and fun to read, even with blood thirst and mob scenes. You don't have to be a cat-lover or dog-hater to appreciate this story.

When the book comes out, I'm contemplating letting my son, an avid reader, have a gander and see what he thinks. I can already hear him laughing.

So if you are looking for something quick and funny to read, check it out. For more information click http://www.vampirekittycat.com/.

05 January 2010

My Goals for the Year

I know, I know ... Yet another blog post about resolutions, or goals, for the year. Nearly everyone is doing this type of post. It'll be quick, I promise.

I normally don't make goals, but this year, I've actually got something I'm doing for myself - my writing.

So here are my writing related goals ...
  • I'll keep my peeks at the non-productive parts of the internet throughout the day to a minimum. I'll check the social networks, blogs, email at specific times of day (instead of checking constantly like the internet addict that I am).
  • Have both stories ready for the query stage by the end of the year.
  • Exercise daily to keep illnesses away (like that Type II Diabetes that runs in the family) and generally be healthy. (Really, being healthy is part of writing.)
  • Engage in more music activities like playing the keyboard/piano and listening music more often Writing makes me want to hear and play music, while playing and listening to music makes me want to write.

So like I said, quick. I'll post from time to time how I am doing on achieving these goals.

And if you made any resolutions, let me know in the comments.