Saturday, July 22, 2006

Blitzing through FeedBlitz (and other Stuff)

Tonight's photo is from tonight's sunset, taken when John and I ventured out to dinner. John teased me a little about "Karen's sunset blog," but you folks like them, and I like them, so what the heck?

I went online pretty much as soon as I got up today, with the intention of reading through my email. Over nine hours later, I've whittled my in box from 81 items to 78.

Why so little progress? Well, first of all, there's been more Wikipedia/Making Light stuff going on. Some of you may want an update, while others are probably sick to death of the subject. Let's just say that a few other people have been aiming salvos at each other, and I've attempted to edit the Barbara Bauer article yet again for fairness and accuracy. Some of the points to consider are a little esoteric, so I've had to explain them from time to time. Meanwhile, I mentioned that the person I quoted the other day had called me names and insulted me, and he left a note on my User talk:Mavarin page, claiming this was a fabrication. When I listed examples, he replied that they aren't ad hominem, even when calling me a troll. Uh-huh. And calling me fat and ugly isn't an insult if it's preceded by the word "if." That technicality didn't stop the Enterprise crew from slugging the Klingons in "The Trouble with Tribbles," and it doesn't wash with me, either.

Other than that, though, I've been working my way through emails that languished precisely because they were likely to be time-consuming. The oldest one was an alert that a youngish blogger whose writing I like had a newer blog off AOL. I added it to my sidebar weeks ago, but I wanted to look around on it some more, and say something encouraging. Sad to say, she hasn't updated it much recently, so I threatened to move her listing to "Please Blog More." Let that be a lesson to all of you.

The second email was the first of many FeedBlitz alerts. This one mentioned 9 new posts, but that was just the beginning, of course. When I play catch-up with FeedBlitz, I go to that blog (from my sidebar, not from the FeedBlitz email), and read from the post in the email up to the most recent one. Being three weeks behind, I actually had to hit the archives to read what I'd missed from Judith Heartsong, Patrick's Place, Presto Speaks! and Writer's Edge. It took an hour or two, but I'm caught up with those now, at least through sometime this afternoon or evening. I will be able to skip over them in the dozens more FeedBlitz emails I still need to go through. As I catch up on other blogs, I probably won't leave any comments unless I can't help myself; but at least I'll read what you wrote.

The email after that is a Writer's Weekly Question:

Writer's Weekly Question #23:

In the last twenty years, we've seen many changes in how we write and how writing is perceived by the general public. Be creative (no stretch for any of you, I expect) and project what you think will happen in the next twenty years.

When I was in college the second time, the University of Phoenix phased out textbooks in favor of e-texts. In some cases that worked, as when it was just a chapter, or some online interactive thing. My favorite of these was an economics one, where you decide whether to increase supply or raise tariffs or build housing or whatever, and the program shows you the result in your fictional country. I expect there will be more interactive media like that as time goes on. But the idea of replacing whole books with e-books is still a bad one. Unless you want to do all your reading at a computer, you're going to want some sort of hard copy. When you go to print out, though, you get the considerable expense of printing, on top of what you paid for the electronic texts, and Kinko's and such won't print it all all without written permission, which UoP failed to provide, at least while I was dealing with them. There has long been a dream of reading The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy on a PDA or somesuch, ideally "in the bath," as Douglas Adams envisioned it. But that little computer-like object, whether it's a PDA, a phone, an outgrowth of the iPod or all of the above, needs to be truly better than a printed book or a laptop before it will replace such things. I have trouble finding the right letters (and getting them to work) on my laptop as it is, because the printing on the keys has worn away, the spacing isn't quite the same as on a desktop computer, and sometimes I type the right letter and nothing happens. Trying to write a novel on a PDA, with keys so small that I need a stylus to press them, sounds like the opposite of fun. Until they overcome that problem, I'll be reading mostly paper books, and writing on a laptop (and getting annoyed whethever I try for an I and get an O).

Next up, a post about the quiz, Which Action Hero Would You Be? My result was Neo. John watched that movie just today, but I still haven't seen it all the way through. The email after that is one of Chuck's quizzes. I took it already. Onward. 76 to go, as new emails keep appearing.

Next, an AOL member satisfaction survey. I passed the deadline on it.

Another FeedBlitz one. This one has three blogs I haven't caught up on yet. Two of them I've already read bits of pieces of, though. Done. 74 to go.

And Sara, far more productive than I, has sent me more of her re-written chapter, which is many pages longer than it was two nights ago.

Three AOL Alerts I didn't want to deal with at the time, quickly blitzed through now. Open the journal, read quickly, no comment. Delete email. Another FeedBlitz. Nothing I haven't seen. Delete. Oh, drat. I meant to keep that. FeedBlitz is my backup for my own posts. Restored it. Another FeedBlitz. Nothing new. Three more AOL Alerts. Down to 66. FeedBlitz. 65.

iTunes New Music Tuesday. The only reason I didn't delete it unread is that the header mentioned Dr. Seuss. Read and deleted. 64. A Disney thing Becky sent me. Okay, I just crashed AOL. No, it reappeared when I clicked the AOL icon. Must be a RAM/Explorer problem. But Disney wants me to log in. I know I'm registered, but my two attempts to log in fail. Oh, well.

Watermelon and another can of Diet Orange Crush fortify me for the next batch of AOL Alerts. I'm glad now that I went out earlier for 48 cans of soda, a bottle of Diet Mountain Dew for John's immediate use, and four Diet Snapples. John's been working on the library shelving today. Hooray! It's midnight now, though (exactly), and he's long-since gone to bed.

Downloaded a thing from an author interview. At least, I'm trying to do so. Five minutes later: I gave up on it.

A Writer's Digest contest. Delete. 58. This is a lot of work! sightings. There's hours of fun to be had there, and I have stuff to contribute, too. Not gonna do it now. Taking it off new mail, but I'm not deleting it. Borders. For once it lists a book I actually might like. Two or three, even. More FeedBlitz and AOL. Survey: Tell Us About Your Automobiles. I prefer not to - but I'll tell you folks that the driver's side interior door handle is starting to break on mine. More FeedBlitz and AOL. 51. AOL has disappeared from my screen again and refuses to reappear, so I read the rest of Sara's chapter (great stuff!) and quit Word. Now I can get AOL to work again.

Hooray! I've made it to the next Writer's Weekly Question!

Writer's Weekly Question #24:

What is your experience with characters? Do they come to you "full grown out of oblivion" or do they come in pieces and only share a bit of what you need to know them? Do you hear their voices, or do you develop them? What makes them real for you?

Hmm. Considering that most of my characters have been hanging around for a decade or two or three, I'm not sure of my answer here. I guess for me, a character usually walks in and says or does something, and thus reveals a lot about himself or herself right away. I don't quite hear dialogue, but I have a good sense of the pattern of it, and the personality behind it. I do learn more about the characters as they continue to say and do things, but I think usually I know a lot about them pretty quickly. I may not know what they look like, or their favorite color, unimportant stuff like that; but I know their attitudes about things, and probably a good bit of background. The one exception I can think of offhand is Wil Masan, the Commander of the Palace Guard. He wasn't all that interesting when he first turned up at the end of Heirs, but in Mages he revealed himself to be a clever and complex man of somewhat dubious integrity.

Aside from Jace and Sandy (D'Oh! I promised to do that tonight, too!) , and the Dewitt versions of my Mâvarin characters, my most recent new major characters are probably Keni and Tod Tarso. About five years ago, I had an idea for a scene in which Rani finds out he's done something horrendous, and it pretty much traumatized for the rest of his life. The necessary precursor to that scene was Rani killing someone, an innocent. So I came up with this character whose sole purpose was to be killed. I named him Keni, for obvious reasons. But then Keni opened his mouth, and said and did such interesting things that neither Rani nor I could kill him - or his slightly less winsome brother Tod, either. I probably knew within a week of his creation that Keni had to live.

Enough. Did I promise to read over 80 emails in one day? There are 49 left now, but the original 81 didn't include about a dozen new ones since I signed on 13 hours ago. Time to check in with Jace and Sandy, I think, and then head bedward. (Update: The Jace Letters installment is posted!)

And as I go to bed, much later than intended, the email count stands at 38.


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Becky said...


julie said...

Wow, I love that sunset. I shot one tonight but haven't had a chance to even look at the picture.

Globetrotter said...

That sunset photo is gorgeous, and i never get tired of looking at sunset photos. I wanted to try to catch up on some of your entries and I'm wondering if you have signed with a literary agent yet. I noticed a couple in your sidebar. The last time I got caught up in your blog I ended up reading the fantastic story of a literary agent who I was actually in email communication with for quite some time back in 2001-2002 or thereabouts! I suspected she was a total nutcase, but I had no idea how insane she truly was till I followed one of your threads and read a detailed report about her! She offered me a contract with my book, "The Trip" but the more I got to know her the more convinced I was that she was a sham. Boy was I right! If you have a chance, you've got to read her story, though I'm trying to remember which link I followed to find it. Her name was Melanie Mills though she had tons of other alias's as well. I'm gonna go back and see if I can find the link and send it to you. It's a very entertaining read.