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Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Lost in the System

Over the years I've been blogging, I've talked about jumping around from system to system, trying to find the optimal way to keep all my information for a book and/or series in as few places as possible. I've yet to find the perfect system, but I do like the one I have now. Mostly.

I use OneNote and Excel to keep track of everything.

I like OneNote because I can save web pages, images, text--anything I need. I use Excel to primarily keep track of characters and settings. It's not one program to hold everything, but it's close and it's working.

But my earlier experimentation led to some fun recently. I needed to find some information from a story I wrote in the Blood Feud World.

I started with my computer files. That's where I was keeping pictures. Nothing. Not a single image.

Next I went to OneNote, but I found what I expected there. Nothing. Because I'd written this story long enough ago that I was probably not using OneNote the way I use it now.

Where else could it be?

I decided to check Scrivener. When I was writing only on my MacBook, I used this program pretty much all the time. Since I have the Windows version and I needed to transfer the information into Windows anyway, I tried to open the file there. It took some conversion, but I got it open.

And I found what I needed. But it wasn't a matter of copying and pasting the pictures I needed. That would be too easy. I don't know if it's a Scrivener thing or a conversion thing, but I had to make a copy of the photos inside Scrivener and then I could copy the copy and paste it in. Major pain.

An example of having to recall and hunt down a previous system I used. The scary thing is that I don't remember everything I've tried and I know I didn't blog about all of them.

Thursday, October 21, 2021

Deer Me

There are a number of reasons why I'd rather work from home than in the office, but the biggest reason is the driving. I hate driving here. It spikes my anxiety into outer space.

I have to contend with people driving crazy-fast and tailgating me at high speed. I'm surrounding by fifty bazillion semi trucks most mornings. It's stressful and miserable and I'm shaking by the time I park my car.

And last week, I had an extra bonus stress event.

I'm driving on the highway, doing about 60 mph. The speed limit is 55, BTW. There isn't a lot of traffic at this time of day in this area, but that doesn't mean it's a relaxing drive. My story will explain why.

There was a little more traffic on the road with me this morning than usual. I had just passed a car who was holding down the left-hand lane (I was in the right and had been there since I got on the highway) and had another car behind me. Fortunately, he wasn't right on my bumper, but I'm getting a bit ahead of myself.

Because I'd just gone past this other car, I didn't have my bright headlights on. Georgia apparently doesn't believe in putting in lights on their highways or freeways and it is very dark on the roads, especially where I was driving. Suddenly, my regular headlights pick it up.

A deer is just standing in my lane of the highway.

I slam on my brakes. I can't swerve because there's a car to my left and I'd read somewhere recently that drivers shouldn't swerve to avoid animals. Something about it being dangerous for some reason or another. But it didn't matter, there was a car there.

I can see the deer getting closer and closer to the front end of my car.

My foot has that brake pedal to the floor.

I'm inches from the damn deer when the idiot thing finally realizes that maybe it should move. And it ran toward the right, into the grass there.

If he hadn't run, I'm sure I would have hit him.

Yes, this is why there isn't one minute of my commute that is stress-free. Because from the time I leave my house until I reach the city where I get on the freeway, I have to keep my eyes peeled for idiot deer who stand in the middle of the damn road.

When the deer threat ends, the semis and idiot driver threat begins.

I'm just grateful that I didn't hit it and have to deal with that damage to the car and maybe to me.

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Do You Remember Me?

I am horrible at remembering people I don't see all the time. I always have been. When I was a kid and went to our family's Cousins by the Dozens picnic, I only knew my immediate aunts, uncles, and cousins. The rest of them? Well, I saw them at the picnic or at weddings and funerals. I had no clue who they were.

This is my explanation for why my least favorite question is: Do you remember me?

It happened to me on Saturday. Again.

I was grocery shopping and got in the check out line. This guy got in line behind me and he started talking to me. I'm actually used to this. The weekend before, a guy started talking to me while we were getting gas. No biggie. And then he asked the question I never want to hear. Do you remember me?


Panic now sets in. My brain scrambles as it tries to come up with a name. The guy is wearing a face mask and he lowers it so I can see his entire face. Damn, I still can't come up with a name or even where I know him from.

He was really nice about it, but it was pretty clear I was clueless. As it turned out, he was someone from my day job. We'd be in the gym at the same time pretty much every day. (The gym is in our office building.) But I hadn't seen him since we were sent to work from home in March 2020, and even though we've been forced back to our cubes, I hadn't seen him in the gym. And his hair was a lot grayer than I recalled, which also threw me off.

Sadly, this happens to me often enough that I should be used to this by now. I'm not. I honestly wish people would never ask, Do you remember me?

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Adventures With Technology

I've always skated through Mercury Retrogrades without any issues. I heard an astrologer say that a person born when a planet is retrograde doesn't have to deal with the issues that others do and I was like, okay, that makes sense. It explains why I just pretty much have zero problems when Mercury goes retrograde.

Until this past week.

Mercury Retrograde: Sep 27 through Oct 18, but Mercury is in its shadow on either side, so the dates can be a little fluid as far as the issues go.

Anyway, I'm gloriously sailing through Mercury Retrograde with zero problems--just like always--until last Friday.

I overslept. Like really overslept.

I'd only had about 2.5 hours of sleep the night before, so I assumed I was so tired that I'd just slept through the alarm. But Saturday morning told me the issue is bigger than that. I heard it go off, I hit the snooze, and then it stayed silent. I lifted the phone, it showed the alarm was going off, but nothing. It was dead quiet. This isn't good. I rely on my phone to wake me up for work.

An online search showed I wasn't the only one with this issue, but I didn't find any good solutions. So even though I wasn't ready to update to iOS 15, I hit the button to download it. I'm hoping that this solves the problem. I'm writing this on Saturday and will test it out on Sunday.

Normally, I wouldn't worry about updating my phone during Mercury Retrograde, but my technology woes didn't stop with the alarm issue.

When I got home from errands on Saturday, I went to Joann to buy some super cute Halloween fabric. I never thought making a purchase could be so frustrating. I'm all but screaming at the website: Take my money, please!

First, I wanted to order four yards of each of the fabrics. That worked for 3 of the 4 fabrics. I tried every permutation I could think of to get four yards, but nope, three yards only. Okay, I probably don't need four yards anyway. I'm planning to use the fabric to make some Japanese knot bags and maybe some bowl cozies. Maybe I'll try the project (pillows) that they were advertising, but those aren't my decor thing. Anyway, three yards. I can live with it.

Then I tried to check out using PayPal. Rejection. Something isn't verifying with my PayPal. I kept getting the error no matter what I did. Finally, as I muttered curse words, I thought: Fine, I'll use a credit card. I prefer not to enter it, but whatever.

Joann's said I didn't have an email address with my payment method. I look. My email address is there. I try and try to get my order in. Joann's refuses to believe I have entered an email.

If the fabric wasn't so cute and limited to Halloween, I would have given up then and there, but I really wanted it. I opened a different browser, signed in, and checked out the cart on my credit card without a single problem. I even had an app from that browser find a coupon code that got me an extra 20% off.

But the past two days have been so frustrating and it revolves around technology which is Mercury's bailiwick, so I'm chalking it up to retrograde.

I'm hoping the last 36 hours are all I have to deal with because I'm done with it. I guess I'm pretty spoiled, but I don't like this.

EDITED TO ADD: Joann's just emailed me. The fabric it was only letting me buy three yards of is out of stock and there's another fabric I can only have half of what I ordered. Grrr!

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Flash, Bang

One of the things that amazed me after I sold my first book was the people who would come up to me and offer to give me their ideas and split the profits with me. Usually it was 50/50, but sometimes they thought they deserved more because clearly the idea is the hard part.

Insert a snort of laughter here.

Ideas are the easy part. My God, I can't do anything without ideas jumping into my brain.

Introduce a throwaway secondary character? Ideas come to make him a hero in a later book.

Watch a baseball game? Get multiple ideas.

Overhear part of a conversation? More ideas.

Meme on Facebook? Ideas!

You get the picture. I have notebooks and file drawers full of ideas. More than I could write in twenty lifetimes.

Not all ideas are created equal. Some of them don't have enough substance to them to become full-fledged stories, not even a short story. Others are intriguing, but I don't love them enough to spend months and months writing them. And the biggest problem, of course, is finding time to write the ones I do love.

So yeah, ideas are literally the easiest part of writing. The hard part? It's actually writing. It's hammering out the details, filling the plot holes, coming up with ways to get from point A to point Z. It's discovering what you think will work leads to logic problems. Or that your characters absolutely refuse to go along with the idea. I've blogged before about how my hero and heroine will stop talking to me if I write something they don't like. When I'm spinning my wheels, I try to figure out where I made my mistake.

And then all the words back to that point get cut.


You do not want to see the file labeled "Old Stuff" on my computer. Each book has one of those and it's where the stuff I wrote that didn't work goes to live. I don't just delete anything because maybe I can use it. Some day.