Thursday, March 31, 2011

Under the weather

I have a cold, my headaches and I keep coughing and sneezing. My eyes are itching and the eye drops doesn't help at all. It doesn't end there though, my everyday pain has a new twist to it, my shoulders and arms aches like crazy and I haven't slept much this night.

All I want to do is to curl up in bed and rest, but I can't do that. I have a lot to do and to top that off I have lots of people calling trying to get hold of my husband. Then I have people calling to see how he's doing and when he's coming home from the hospital. I'm guessing that the pain in my shoulders and arms stems from all that time I spend on the phone. My husband promised me a head set once, so that I could rest my arms while talking, but he's forgotten about it. So here I am. =/

The worst part is that I feel that I have no right to complain, I'm doing so much better than my husband and should be happy about that.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

A new favourite

I've found a new favourite site with a dictionary as well as a thesaurus. It's called Mcmillan Dictionay and it's the thesaurus that's making me all exited. It explains the context of the use of the word. It's great for someone like me that are looking for words to extend my vocabulary with. Someone that's also very likely to use the wrong word now and then because it seemed good but did not mean exactly what it seemed to be. 

I'll still be using it together with other thesauruses and dictionaries to make sure I get the whole picture, but it's nice to find something new that's also helpful. =)

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Train wreck

It's been a long time since I last followed an online train wreck. I remember the last time clearly, since I was one of those who very naively tried to help and stop the person who was having a public melt down. It can't be done unless you disconnect them from the internet and keep them away for days, weeks or even eternity. The poor mentally ill soul I tried to help ended up being IP banned from the site and I think it was the nicest thing anyone did for her.

This train wreck is different. It has gone viral, touching countless sites, blogs and forums. It seems as if the writer having the melt down has also potentially ended a future career in the process.

There are several important lessons to learn form it all and I decided to post about it because of that.
  • Being confident is good, being blind to your own imperfections is not.
  • Reading the dialogue/story out loud might not help you at all.
  • Making the effort of editing the story you spent years working on is never redundant. 
  • Having an impartial person proof reading the work before publishing is worth it.
  • Avoid responding to a review of your work. The review is for potential readers not the writer.
  • Take opinions serious enough to question yourself but not so seriously that you have an emotional melt down over it. It might be good advice, use it, or it might be an opinion that doesn't matter, then leave it. That's all there is to it.

Why do you necessarily have to be wrong 
just because a few million people think you are? 
- Frank Zappa -


I thought that I had figured out how to write dialogue, then someone pointed out an error I've made. It's irritating because I thought I had dealt with the issue and could move on to other things. As a result I spent most of my computer time yesterday searching for web pages on the topic. The original plan was to learn about proper punctuation in dialogue, but I ended up reading about how to write too. The only advice that I've found that I can't follow is to read the dialogue out loud. I don't speak English though I write it and trying to read it out loud will only complicate things. People have suggested Textaloud, a program that turns text into speech and I might use it in the future.

Thumb-rules for me to remember:
  1. Read the dialogue out loud. It has to sound as if someone actually said it.
  2. Dialogue should sound natural, but should also be "filtered" to remove unessential information, words and phrases.
  3. Fragmented and grammatically incorrect can be correct in dialogue.
  4. Keep it short (as often as possible), 5 words or less per sentence.
  5. The three-sentence-rule: Don't give your character more than three uninterrupted sentences at once.
  6. Telling (instead of showing) is still telling even if it's in dialogue. 
  7. Don't repeat words, phrases, names and so on unless it's essential for the story/dialogue.
  8. People pause and do things as they speak. (Don't over do it.)
  9. People interact when talking. They wait for a response and decide what to tell, or not, based on that.
  10. "Talking-head syndrome"- Non-stop dialogue that moves too fast. "Stop-and-go dialogue" - dialogue punctuated by too much "action".
  11. People don't tell it all when they speak nor do they tell each other things they already know.
  12. Be true to the character as well as the situation. How would they react and speak? Make sure that the characters don't use each others key words and phrases.
  13. All dialogue should move the story forward or reveal something about the character. If it doesn't then Kill it.
  14. Use dialogue tags to avoid confusion about who's speaking. Common tags (said) are invisible as long as they are not over used, other tags should only be used when it's necessary since they might interrupt the flow of the dialogue.
  15. Dialogue should be self-sufficient and not requiring explanation. It is not the place to append wordy character descriptions.
  16. Don't write in accents and dialects unless you know what you are doing. Don't fake it unless you're writing a parody of the character.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

I ...

Teacher: "Josephine, give me a sentence beginning with I." 
Josephine: "I is ..."
Teacher: "No, Josephine. It's always 'I am...' "
Josephine: "OK. I am the ninth letter of the alphabet."

Thursday, March 24, 2011


I don't mind waiting for hour upon hour at the ER. I understand that they are understaffed and have a lot of work to do. I don't mind the discomfort either, I understand that they put their budget on more important things, such as saving lives. But, I do mind the lack of information.

It's frustrating to sit there as if forgotten for hours, not knowing what will happen, when it will happen or even why.

Even more frustrating is to sit there for 5 hours only to find out, that the information you get is something they have known since you walked through the door. Why not just let the people know what you already know instead of letting them sit there for hours without talking to them? How hard can it be to say two sentences? It's so little that it can't possibly be a waste of time. You could almost blurt it out as you run past them.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Making a list, checking it twice.

Feeling confident that I had sorted out most of the grammatical issues in "The Crow and the Butterfly" I bravely ventured out into "Absolute Write" to get advice on what I need to do next. It's an amazing site full with helpful people and I got a lot of good advice. So much that my head is spinning.

Now I'll rewrite the whole chapter and change the POV (point of view) since it does not work. I've also made a list of the good advice I've gotten this far. I think it will make it easier to correct my mistakes before I make them. ... hopefully.

Ask yourself:
  1. What is the scene about?
  2. Why do I want it to be about that?
  3. Is it backstory or not?
  4. What do I gain?
  5. How much does the reader need to know?
  6. What will the reader learn and walk away with from that scene?
  7. What’s the point of telling it?(If there is no point: Kill It!)
  8. What’s the conflict?
  9. How does the character change in the scene? 
  •  Never use more than 1 POV within a chapter. (Let's face it, you're not skilled enough to manage to pull it off.) 
  • "Act it out". Let the reader read the character rather than the words.
  • Obvious is obvious. Don't rub it in.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

It's my oldest son's birthday.

The little bundle of joy turned 20 years today. =)
(It's amazing, mostly because I don't feel any older than 20 myself.)

His great-grandmother sent him a card that contains the wisdom of high age and I just have to share it.

You are turning 20 years old! 
There is something you should know...
The secret behind a long life
is early nights and a decent life style.
But... The secret behind a fun life
is late nights, wild parties and a lot of laughter.

 =) Now that's why I love my grandmother so much.

A lecture about English.

A linguistics professor was lecturing to his English class one day. "In English," he said, "A double negative forms a positive. In some languages, though, such as Russian, a double negative is still a negative. However, there is no language wherein a double positive can form a negative."

A voice from the back of the room piped up, "Yeah, right."

Monday, March 21, 2011

I've got the blues.

I've finally gotten around to explore Spotify and the music on there and I'm having a great time. Most of all I love exploring music that I've never heard before and probably never would have if it wasn't for the Internet.
As it is I've been going through "related artists" lists for hours and a whole new world of music have opened up for me.

Listening to the old blues recordings sends chills down my spine. It's amazing to hear the voices recorded so long ago in a world that was so different from ours that it might as well have been an alternative universe.The music is different too, it's not the "wall of noise" that we have today where all the sounds in the song has been digitally mastered to fit and idea about how it sounds best on radio and TV. It simply is what it is, true, raw and blues.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Once in a blue moon ...

... there is a super moon. I marked the date in three of my calendars so that I would prepare my camera in time, make sure that I had a flashlight and that I had the camera settings under control. Did it work? No.

My mother called to tell about how she had been out to take photos... and I was watching TV, making dinner and editing my story. The cameras ... well ... err... *sigh*

I grabbed my camera bag and ventured out into the cold darkness. Fumbled around with camera and lenses and took a couple of photos, then I ran out of battery. End of story. I still got a couple of blurry photos and one that I think is OK.

Next time, I'll mark it in my calendars so that I don't forget to prepare my camera.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

I'm the alien.

There was an experiment that our teacher in Swedish used once, he told us to explain ordinary things around us without using the terms for them or the standard words that described them.

"Picture that you are talking to an alien," he told us, "and have to describe it. You can't call a rainbow a rainbow because the alien don't know what a rainbow is."

In a way that's how I write in English, I don't know the correct term and I end up writing many "explaining" words instead. The latest example I've found is, "the fields had not been tended to for years". I put the Swedish term into Google Translate and suddenly I had one word that would explain it all, "fallow". It's not over there of course, now I have to figure out how to use the word correctly. Do the fields "fallow", had they "fallowed" or did they "lie in fallow".

I feel an headache coming on...


I decided to rewrite "The Crow and the Butterfly" to apply the new things I learn since the story is shorter. The first thing I noticed is that I've somehow posted an unedited version in my blog. I have no idea how that happened. Even worse is that I didn't notice it as I posted it or when I browsed through it. One explanation could be that I posted it when my husband was ill and my focus was at him and not what I was doing, but it's still a poor excuse.

Yesterday I worked with adverbs and tried to figure out how to "exchange the weaker adverbs for strong verbs". One thing is very clear, my English vocabulary is not good enough to find the "strong verbs". I don't know how to say, "climb quickly" or "knock softly" in any other way and the thesaurus is not any help either.

Today I'll be hunting for adjectives that's not needed and I'm certain it will prove to be just as frustrating.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Oh no!

Every time I see that there is a problem somewhere in the text I learn more and as I learn more I see new problems. It seemed so simple just days ago, but now it's giving me an headache. There story is there and all I have to do is to edit it so that it's readable, no? No.

I joined Absolute Write because the forums there are full with good information about grammar as well as how to write. In one thread I found a link to an online grammar and style checker. It was only a limited version that was free to use, but it was enough to give me an idea. ... *sigh* ...
I know that such checkers are not 100% correct but it was still a bit disheartening to see all the errors. I've been aware of some of them without knowing exactly how to fix them, but some were totally new to me.

Monday, March 14, 2011


Er... well ... almost.

I've finally worked my way through the final battle and ended the story, five years after I started writing on it. However, I have to edit it and rewrite it all and that will probably take me five more years. =/

It's still a great achievemnet on my behalf and I'm looking forward to the editing, to making the illustrations and to posting it in the blog. I've already made the basic layout of the blog and some of the illustrations and I'm longing to see how it all comes together. Hopefully it will be easier to finish than the writing of the story.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Procrastinating ...

Dragon Cave - Work in Progress
Procrastinating seems to be what I do best these days. I should finish reading that book, I should sort the stuff that's all over my desk, I should ... but I don't. I just can't motivate myself to get anything done, no matter how simple or easy. ... I hope it's not me who end up without toilet paper because I didn't get around to filling it up.

The weather is great, the sun is shining and I've actually been out on my first walk with the camera since January, but that was a way of procrastinating too since I couldn't replant my flowers while being out there.