Thursday, February 23, 2012

I Love My Kindle Fire

I was fortunate enough to receive a Kindle Fire for Christmas and although my time on it has been limited, I thought I’d share a few of my experiences. You may wonder why I consider two months of ownership to be “limited,” but trying to pry the device out of my wife’s sweaty hands after we downloaded the free Angry Birds app was much, much harder than I expected.

Honestly, she's killed enough pigs to feed a small country.

First off, if you’re a sucker for buying books and music and such, stay away from this thing, especially if you find touching buttons labeled “Buy Now” to be even slightly pleasurable. I’m not kidding. This device was designed to make you want to buy stuff. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that! I hope to one day see my book sitting next to that little button.)

The surest way to safeguard your bank account is to buy just a few books and then immediately smash your wireless router. You’ll have to keep buying new routers every time you want to purchase more books, of course, but you’ll still save money in the long run. Trust me. Once you adopt this strategy, however, you’ll have to pay attention to where you go when you’re got the Kindle with you. Visiting places which offer free WiFi is right out.

There are many free books and apps to be had at Amazon, so it’s not like you’re always spending money. My kids have gotten very good at finding little games for free. There’s nothing quite so scary as sitting in front of your computer at work and seeing all these “Amazon thanks you for your recent purchase” emails pouring into your inbox, which get sent even if the purchased product is free.

The Fire doesn’t have all the bells and whistles the iPad does, but I don’t care. It does what I need it to do and it’s easier to carry around. I can surf the net and watch Youtube videos. I can check my email and Facebook and Twitter (although I’m so bad about keeping up with the last two, it doesn’t really matter). I can even work on my WIP using a $15 app which lets me edit Word files. I wouldn’t recommend using any tablet for a first draft (unless you have lots of time and patience), but for editing, it’s not too bad. Oh, I almost forgot -- I can read books on it too.

I have to go now. There are more levels of Plants vs. Zombies to complete.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

I'm a Real Writer! I Have Critique Partners!

Thanks to Rachael Harrie's Beta-Match, I now have my first two CPs! Thank you Rachael. This isn't the first time Rachael has performed this wonderful service, but the last time she offered it, I didn't feel like I was ready to submit my name. After all, my first WIP, the one I'm using to develop my writing skills, is fan-fiction and I wasn't sure how people might respond to that. They might wonder just how serious I am about this business of writing.

But my biggest reason for not signing up before was that my chapters were nowhere close to being something I would show to another human being. Even my cat hacked up a hairball on one of my early chapters. I'm not saying my chapters are finished now or anything, but they're close enough that I won't have to tell prospective CPs that it'll be six months before I send them anything.

So I'm devoting the next couple of weeks to cleaning up my first five or six chapters. Because I don't want to make my new CP's eyes bleed -- as that would seem rather rude.

The two items I need to concentrate on most are:

1. Choosing which of the two (or more) versions of the same sentence (or paragraph) I'm going to keep. The fact that I have so much trouble choosing between them probably means none of them are any good.

2. Giving some of my characters names instead of calling them something like "Potions Master" all the time. (But that's a topic for another post)

P.S. If anyone else is looking for another CP and you're into fantasy, be sure to send me a line.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

It's Time for Platform Building Again

I've just joined Rachael Harrie's Fourth Writers' Platform building Campaign. I participated in the campaign last year and it was fantastic. I met so many other writers it was unbelievable. So if you have a blog and are a writer, I suggest you drop on by and sign yourself up.

Right now! You only have until Feb. 15th to sign up!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The Insecure Writer and the Revision Process

Today is February's contribution to Alex Cavanaugh's Insecure Writers Support Group.

I’ll be honest with you. If my monthly post for the Insecure Writers Support Group wasn’t due today, I probably wouldn’t have posted. Embarrassment can do that to you.

Last week I promised I would finish the initial revision of my first chapter by the end of the weekend -- no matter what. Well, it’s Wednesday, and I still haven’t finished. It’s almost there, probably about 99% complete, but it’s not finished. (Hangs head in shame)

I wish I could say it was because I didn’t spend enough time with my manuscript or that I didn’t stay up late enough or that drinking was involved – but that wasn’t the problem. I just couldn’t come up with any good ways to fix a few problem areas. I find it maddening (and slightly ridiculous) that I’ve been screwing around with these same fourteen pages for over three weeks now -- with most of that time spent on the first two paragraphs. At this rate, my kids will be published authors before I finish this story.

The funny part about all this is that the idea of revising and polishing and tightening my manuscript sounds kind of sexy to me – at least in theory. I occasionally have to write computer programs, and like a lot of programmers, once the program is behaving properly I have an almost irresistible urge to go in and tighten up the code. Removing useless bits of code, converting ten lines of code into two, improving the user interface. Stuff like that. It just gives me a warm cozy feeling.

But that’s because I know what I’m doing when I program. But until my writing skills improve, it’s always going to be a struggle when it’s time to revise my manuscript. I can tell (usually) when something needs to be fixed, I’m just bad at coming up with ways to actually fix the problem.

Does anyone else have these kind of problems during the revision process?