Friday, February 24, 2012

Off to First Publisher

Family Secrets was submitted to the first publisher on my list this past Wednesday. We will see what happens. I am not working on any additional submissions until next week because it is time for me to catch up on everyday life.

During the editing process -- oh, how I dread the editing process -- I worked 12-14 hour days. This was after I already had someone edit the manuscript. Unfortunately, I rewrote some sections and reworded a lot of sentences, so there were still many opportunities for editing.

Part of my issue is, I like sentences with dashes, such as the one above. That is pretty much a no-no. Yet, I like the cadence with the dashes better than using the separation with commas. Especially when I am writing in a first-person voice, I want to emphasize the choppy way some people talk. Dashes do it for me better than using the plain ol' comma we use to separate phrases in a complex sentence.

My editing teeth-grinders:

1. I was surprised how many times I left out the comma or question mark to finish a dialog sentence enclosed in quote marks. It was probably caused by earlier edits to that sentence. I just hope I caught them all.

2. I do my best to choose last names for my characters that do not end with the letter "s" because I always get confused with how to handle the plural and the possessive. Even as I read how to do it in the style manual, I get confused. Is it Jones's? Jones'? Then, when there two Joneses......

3. The proper usage of affect and effect always gets me, even when I have the dictionary open to the definitions as I write. I will figure it out, then when I read over the sentence later, I am still not sure I got it right.

4. The lie/lay and laid/layed/lain usage is always a quandary for me. I avoid those words like the plague when I can.

Other than that, I am pretty good at grammar. When I am editing, I still need to print out my manuscript in order to catch a lot of errors. But, for good, bad or whatever, the manuscript is on its way.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Installed Legacy

Remember I mentioned a few days ago that Old Toshiba had a "spa treatment" where she was reformatted and restored? I reinstalled most of my programs, except I put my Legacy database on New Toshiba since that is the computer I have decided to use for researching my family history.

As I made a correction to a family member in Family Secrets as part of the editing process, I realized I need to install Legacy on Old Toshiba also. What better place to keep track of a cast of characters for a family saga-type novel series than on a database designed for organizing families? Not only that, Legacy Deluxe has research suggestion capabilities based on the dates and localities of the family members entered. What better tool to use to figure out what documents are available in different scenarios as I develop the story lines for my characters?

Now that Legacy is installed, the Graves and Carpenter family database has been updated, I can return to my editing Family Secrets.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Robyn's New Author Photo

Did I mention I was in Yosemite National Park last month?

In December and January, my husband must have taken 40-50 shots of me. I was looking for something I could submit as an author photograph. We tried in the house and outside (keep in mind, in the winter there is very little in bloom or in leaf, for that matter). Even the trusty dwarf orange tree as a backdrop yielded nothing interesting.

On the holiday weekend, my husband and I decided to go to Yosemite for a day trip. If I had planned on trying for some pictures up there, I probably would have worn something different. On a whim, as we neared the entrance to the park, we pulled into a scenic view parking area and I started posing for the camera.

We ended up taking pictures in various locations through the park, including the spot by the Merced River which I featured in my last blog post. The three shots I ended up liking the best were all taken with this backdrop. To get it, I stood on the concrete bench in front of the little chapel in Yosemite Valley while my intrepid photographer laid flat on the ice-encrusted grass. (There has been very little snow in the Sierra-Nevada Mountains this year, but, after all, this was January)

After sleeping on it for several weeks, this is the pose I selected. It has a bit of an artsy look to it, not as much shadow on my face as my other pose I liked well, and I do not look quite as old as the ice age glacier-cut cliffs behind me.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Computer Years Like Dog Years?

Merced River in January 2012 exiting Yosemite Park

Old Toshiba is all rejuvenated after a day at the "spa", but the "spa attendant" is exhausted. It is a lot of work doing all the backing-up of files, the reformat and restore and adding back programs.

Then there are the updates. Old Toshiba was bought in 2005, which means that with my conservative (cheap), non-cutting edge approach to computer purchases, Old Toshiba was on her way to being a discontinued model when I bought her. Even though she was brand-new, she is still seven years old today. Do you have any idea how many updates there are on everything for a seven year-old computer? I do.

The question is, are computer years like dog years--one year equals seven years in a human? Or, is the ratio one year in computer life is the same as ten human years? I know a computer is obsolete the moment it hits the marketplace, but I mean, how many years of functional use can we expect from a computer?

Old Toshiba was reinstalled with Internet Explorer 6. We are now on EI9. I could not install my anti-virus suite until I updated to a later version. First, I had to install Firefox so I could install the anti-virus so I could update EI, which, because this is an XP, meant EI8.

For my wallpaper, I decided to use a snapshot I took up in Yosemite National Park last month.

At least all my old software programs that do not work well on New Toshiba still work great on Old Toshiba.

Yesterday was not a total loss as a writing work day. Between all the installs, updates and reboots, I worked on New Toshiba researching marketing strategies for writers and potential publishers and agents.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Please Hold for Old Toshiba's Spa Day

Old Toshiba, my writing computer is getting too s - l - o - w. This is also the computer on which I do a lot of my online research. When I try to boot up the machine, bring up my emails, delete emails, check my financial sites, move from one website to another and back again, it is taking F-O-R-E-V-E-R. As in, my programs are starting to lock up and not respond more and more. Yes, I have firewalls and keep my anti-virus updated, but either nasty electronic critters have still managed to get in, or my poor ROM memory has developed too many connections to sort through.

So, no, this is not the same deal as my "Ghost Riders in the Sky" computer crash two years ago. I was researching ghost towns in Colorado back then, and in the process of trying to go back a few pages, then when that did not work, go to the home page, the machine locked up on me while "Ghost Riders in the Sky" blared out of my speakers full volume. Now, I like "Ghost Riders in the Sky", but not minute after minute at that decibel range. After searching vainly for the volume control, which was also locked up, I did the only sensible thing. I pulled the plug.

That was the wrong move. After letting Old Toshiba settle down for several seconds, I tried to reboot. Old Toshiba went into the continual boot-up loop and could go no further.

Thankfully, in that instance, about a month prior, I had suspected my poor Old Toshiba was getting ready to die on me. I bought New Toshiba. (Very original names, yes? My cars I name based on make and model, my cats I tend to name based on physical characteristics, so what do you expect when it comes to computers?) I was not sure of the cause of the impending death of Old Toshiba back then. Was it due to the motherboard burning out? (been there, done that on another computer) Was it due to too many food crumbs under the keys as I researched and wrote Aurora Rescue 12-14 hours some days, eating as I worked? Anyway, I saw it coming, and decided it was my work on Old Toshiba that needed the rescue. So, about a month before "the crash", I backed up everything. During the next month, anything of current value was backed up into my Dropbox file.

Old Toshiba was not dead. She just needed a day at the spa -- aka -- the old reformat with recovery disks.

So, here we are today. Even though I am in the middle of preparing the manuscript of Family Secrets to be sent off, I decided Old Toshiba needs another day at the spa. The last two days I have spent consolidating and deleting unnecessary files, saving emails I still want, saving my Favorites and Bookmarks on a word document (all organized and consolidated), backing up everything in more than one place and  sending all my current work to my Dropbox file. I am ready for reformat and recovery.

Why don't I just use New Toshiba? I use the new one for a lot of things, including managing business activities. But, Old Toshiba has a better touch on both the keyboard and the touch-pad (mouse), which is better for lots of writing and online research.

Please hold while Old Toshiba renews herself so she is ready for my next novel, Armitage.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

So I Can't Count....

I know when I finished writing Family Secrets that I said the word count was at a little over 86,000 words.

I cut and trimmed, and checked again, only to discover once I put it all together that I was at over 88,000 words. I forgot to add in the word count for this prologue I wrote that I am really pleased with.

I know I said no epilogue. Even my proof-reader agreed. Where I wrote "The End" on the manuscript, she changed it to "To Be Continued...."

But, I did get this great brainstorm for a prologue. It introduced Mike earlier in the book instead of his voice suddenly showing up in Chapter 11. I tweaked my last chapter -- my non-epilogue --  so that it and the prologue are like two book ends holding the middle chapters together.

I missed the contest deadline I was shooting for. It was still open last night, but by tonight, the contest had reached its maximum number of allowed entries. Oh, well. Shooting for the contest gave me the goal and motivation to write those last almost 40,000 words within the last four weeks, get my manuscript proof-read and corrections made.

I still would like to cut my novel to around 85,000 words. Time to prep this baby for finding a publisher.