Dec 23, 2010

Update: Something Idiotic

When I started this blog, it was with the idea that I should document my writing projects, missteps, triumphs etc. I have discovered problems with this concept.

I haven't had any triumphs of late. I don't want to think about my missteps, there just too present and recent…*Sob*. Ahem. And my project hasn't changed yet, I'm still working on the medical romance WIP, which I had a full request for on August 31, 2010. This means that I'm going to end up speaking about other things, if I make any sort of regular posts.

There is a good chance most of the non-writing things I talk about will be idiotic. Because they will probably be stories taken from my life, which is frequently idiotic.

Having said that, I can't think of any topical stories to tell. Idiotic or otherwise. Oh sure, I could tell you the story about the time cicadas tried to kill me, or the time a gigantic-spider-mammoth scaled my canopy bed and threatened to cut me with his switchblade if I didn't buy some magazines he was selling, or that one time it at band camp… Okay, that one's a lie. I never went to band camp. The rest? All true.

What was I saying? Oh yeah, idiotic things… Stay tuned.

And Dragon? I still love it. Even if the package is orange and green together *SHUDDER*. Probably has some lizard skin/fire connotation to the design, but it is just hideous. Orange, yick.

Dec 19, 2010

Dragon NaturallySpeaking Product Review

So, in honor of my new dictation program, I have decided to dictate my blog post for this evening. This is my one-day review of Dragon NaturallySpeaking Home Edition.

As I mentioned in yesterday's post, I have great difficulty reading anything out loud. This means that no matter how I try, if I am reading something, it never comes out in a conversational manner. Because of this, I can verify that the program doesn't understand as much when you're not speaking in full sentences, without pauses. If it has less words to evaluate at one time, it understands less.

It also has a very strange selection of slang it recognizes. And it isn't consistently good with homonyms.
Example: I can say: w00t and it spells it this way, complete with 0's instead of O's. This is fun for dictating chats, but surprising.
Example: She would like to go to the store to purchase two apples and two bananas, to.
I didn't modify that sentence after speaking it. It got most of the to's correct, save for the last one. It almost never gets too-also correct.
Example: You're the best one to tell your story.
I didn't modify that sentence and it got the yours right.
Example: which woman is the which?
That one didn't come out at all, and I didn't modify it to tell it to capitalize the first which, or tell it that the second should've been the kind for Halloween.
Example: Our attendance depends on whether or not the weather cooperates.
Right. If you say it as one sentence it understands, but if you have any pauses it will get the homonyms wrong.
Example: there my favorite aunt and uncle.
Wrong. It didn't capitalize, and it picked the wrong there.
Example: have you been to their house before?
Right. Again, it is not capitalizing the sentence for some reason.
Example: they're going to have to hurry up.
Right, but this was my fourth attempt at coming up with some kind of sentence with "they're" in it the program would understand. So, I would say, of all the homonyms I have tested tonight, this one gives it the most trouble. Also, it didn't want to capitalize this either. (Edited to add: Apparently I forgot that I already did 'they're' a few lines above. I should have been coming up with a 'their' and reading my work, but ... )

You have to teach it to cuss, it doesn't come complete with much blue language out-of-the-box. I try not to use that kind of language when I'm writing, but sometimes it is going to come up in dialogue. I can tell when I use curse words, it has an inkling of what I said, but it keeps putting in other words at first… Truck duck struck luck muck… I'm sure you catch my meaning… When I notice it has put in the wrong word, I select it, and then it pops up a little dialog box for me to choose from other words it thought I might've said. What I actually said is almost always at the top of the list, first choice. Is it crazy that I feel a little bit judged by this program? I'm kidding, but I'm not. It seems to know what word I wanted to use, but it attempts to get me not to use that language. Prudish program. Ha ha!

This brings up something I've noticed about my powers of speech: I am little more than a talking monkey. My vocal storytelling ability leaves much to be desired.

My sentence construction sounds much more intelligent when it is written out by hand than just words out of my mouth. At this point, I'm not sure whether this will make my stories seem more personal – more like you're hearing somebody actually tell you a story – or if it will just make me seem like an uneducated hick. By far, I think this is the biggest drawback I've discovered so far to dictating fiction. The problem is mine, it's not a problem with the program.

My story isn't flying off in a great whoosh of inspiration. I'm still going to use it because it's winter, my hands are frequently cold, and so long as I think about what I want to say before I say it, then it gets the words on the page easily. Lazily. And who doesn't like getting to be lazy? My muse likes blankets, but is not such a fan of gloves.

In addition to typing what I tell it to, there is an interesting bonus that I hadn't expected. Although the voice and inflection frequently leave something to be desired – it is just the standard female computer voice – this program will allow me to hear my writing out loud without me having to do the reading. Dyslexia sucks. This is a good workaround for that aspect of the disorder which I never overcame.

As a side note, it's pretty great when you are searching for information. I can tell it where to search for something, whether I want it to be in the help files or online, and it will go find what I need. There is also something called the MouseGrid, which divides the screen into nine blocks like a Rubik's cube. All of these blocks have a number. I say the number, and it re-creates that same block formation within the small block area I selected, like Russian dolls. Until the pointer is over the part of the screen I wanted, and then I say CLICK, and it clicks it.

It has scrolling functions. You can tell it to go up or down, and when you've got it going in the direction you want, you can tell it to go faster or slower, or to stop. It also will allow you to place the pointer in a certain place, then click and drag so you can highlight several lines of text at a time without ever touching the mouse.

Composing this extra-long blog post has taken about forty-five minutes. However, most of that time was my indecision over word selection, the examples I used for homonym trouble, and numerous revisions of what I wanted to say. It wasn't because I needed to revise what the program understood, but that I needed to speak more like a human, less like a monkey.

Dec 17, 2010

Dragon software

Early Christmas present arrived today: Dragon software. I'm extremely excited about it.

Vista comes with voice recognition software, but it's not good. It's not very bright, but I will give it kudos for being fun to use if you are not trying to do something serious with it. I hummed and sang silly songs to my Windows VRS, and since you extend syllables in singing, it never ever typed what I sang, and of course it made up its own words for whatever I hummed. Which led to some fun word constructions.

I found that if I sang stuff that rhymed, often whatever it typed up rhymed. It was all a big glob of words, but when I went through and threw in returns and capitalized letters, and erased the strange symbols that got thrown into the mix, I came up with some not terrible and kind of fun verses. It was kind of like performance art, though my family tells me that they're pretty sure it means the computer is possessed... or has achieved awakening.

Anyway, I can't do that anymore. I have software for typing, and I have visions of it taking off in a great woosh of inspiration, and that I will have this book finished by tomorrow! Yes, I AIM HIGH.

What is more likely to happen: Tomorrow I will still be trying to train it to understand my manner of speaking. You have to read along with text to teach the program. This is not a big deal for most people, but I'm dyslexic. I've got great reading comprehension, but if I have to read out loud, something happens between the words going in my eyes and out my mouth. It's a mess. It's not pretty. It's word salad. I'm pretty sure my computer is now going to have a speech impediment and I'll still not be done by the end of the MONTH, let alone tomorrow.

Will keep posted on how it goes. Until then, please enjoy my computer's poetry... that was composed Pre-Dragon:

     It has skidded from a sin
     The terror a fad and its crazy had no choice
     But nothing in the sense of awe that tells me of you
     My hand in the hand that would want to rule the world

Oct 27, 2010

Maximum Overdrive

When I was  a kid, a horribly cheesy movie was made about machines coming to life and killing people. The movie is full of tractor trailers running over folks, kitchen appliances attacking unwary housewives/waitresses, pop machines shooting people in the head with bazooka soda cans blastinglike a potato gun, rampaging steam rollers squishing soccer coaches... It's probably one of the goofiest movies ever, and I have absolutely no idea why I love it and watch it every year. I think it is something to do with the same reaction I have to bulldogs: so ugly they're cute. The movie is so bad it's awesome.

I don't remember if it ever scared me, it might have mildly done when I was little, but I feel positively macabre admitting now that I pretty much laugh through the whole thing. It's on TV every October, but this is the first year I'm watching it from a storytelling POV. So, although I've probably seen it twenty times, I only just realized that it has possibly the lamest, UNhot kissing ever filmed.

I don't really know why there is a 'love story' nested in this crazy, truck-stop bazooka-firing madness. It does nothing for the story arc, so why am I surprised about how utterly cold that kissing was?  And what is there to learn from this horrible lovescene/kissing? 

It is easy to identify hot/romantic kisses when we see them, but it is less easy to put our fingers on what makes these scenes moving.  But this scene makes it really easy to identify what makes the emotion believeable by identifying what is missing. Closed lips, fast pecks with more time between kisses than actual lips-touching time. (Less helpful but still funny: heroine has a Eww look on her face that makes me think Emilio may have had some serious monkeybutt breath.)

Can you think of any movies/television/books-even which highlight What Not To Do when trying to write the sexyfun?

Oct 20, 2010

Yearly Spiderpocalypse

My home is located in a small cleared area within a national forest, and although I honestly love the area, I frequently long for the speed and convenience of the city. And at this time of year, I also long for the lower Critter to People ratio of the city.

The nights are getting cold and tonight I have been forced to admit that Summer is over due to the multitude of spiders seeking warmer accommodations inside the house.

They are everywhere. I am illogically terrified of spiders. I scream every time I see one, no matter the size. It is a wholly instinctive reaction, since I scream first and then only after I've run, do I realize what I am afraid of. The realization generally comes when I am several feet away.

I've screamed and run away four times today. Once when I was in the potty, which made my 'jump up and run' reaction tricky.

In addition to spiders, field mice have come inside as well. I think. I am pretty sure I saw one out of the corner of my eye last night, or perhaps I am hoping it was a mouse -- if that big scrambling thing was a spider I am going to have to move out of STATE. Also, I can't keep my cat off the counters the past few days, she's usually not so bad about the counter-walking, and I want something to blame there. Mouse it is!

On the plus side, I have had a refresher course on exactly what it feels like to be crazy terrified. I noted physical sensations in my plots book so I am prepared to scare the living daylights out of one of my characters. DUN Dun dunnnn.

Oct 16, 2010

Pass the Nyquil...

I am allowing myself a few seconds of whining regarding this: worked through writer's block with other artistic endeavors, and as soon as I was done with those other endeavors, I've come down with fever, headache, sore throat, aches, and am generally super cranky.

Stupid viruses or germs or whatever.


Oct 1, 2010

Messed Up Dreams

If not every night, at least several times a week, I have extremely vivid dreams, which I can recall details to after I wake. I keep a file of dreams I've had, since they frequently run like a movie, and at the very least have awesome elements in them I would like to incorporate or build a story on later. Sometimes I can even program myself with the type of dream I want to have by reading something in the same subject before I go to sleep. Want to dream about Norse gods? I will read a bit of before sleep.

Last night I decided to give this a try to get over a block I've been having with current story. There is going to be a love scene, at least one, and this first one is giving me fits. I can picture it all different ways, and none of them really feel right yet. So I decided to try and have a sexy dream. I didn't read anything, but I spent some time thinking wildly sexy thoughts before sleep.

I dreamed I was in a bi-plane with Betty White flying over the Pacific and that sassy wench crashed us into an unpopulated island. I was stranded on a deserted island with Betty White. And she is way up in her 80s, but Dream Betty was swinging on vines line Tarzan, and generally putting my butt to shame. I remember thinking: what the hell, I can't keep up with Betty White!? There was no sex involved, thank god. Now though... I am certain I have brain gremlins who just like to dick with me.

Sep 26, 2010

NV entry

I know, the rating will be gone in just a matter of minutes (that's how it seems to work when the avg votes get up), but my entry is currently #2 on the Most Popular search for all entries. In a few minutes, it won't be, but for now, I am SNOOPY DANCING.

Also got a couple very nice comments, which is awesome because my inner evil editor has been rather browbeating me the past couple days. She's an evil wretch, but for the next few minutes... I bask in the glow of ALMOST #1. *baskbask*

That is all.

UPDATE from 10 minutes later: *whistlingbombnoiseBOOOM*

Sep 23, 2010

Current projects

I am not in the habit of blogging, I had one a couple years ago and I can't even remember where or what it was called, I just have a vague recollection of musings on Emergency Poptarts. I can't find it, so you can see how unimportant it was. Fair warning, this blog may devolve into the inner-workings of my insane-in-the-membrane cranium, but I will try to keep it mostly on track.

In August I participated in the Mills & Boon Medical Fast-Track. Never in a million years did I think they would want to see more, so I entered for two main reasons:
1) I had never submitted my writing anywhere before and thought that it would be easier to wait a couple weeks to know whether I was anywhere in the vicinity of 'the right track,'
2) The letter of critique (even brief) from an editor so I could see what I was doing right/wrong seemed like too good a deal to pass up--had never had a crit on my writing before that.

As Ms. Shiela had posted that unfinished manuscripts were allowed, and because I had been waffling about what story to pursue on my own and between projects, I took this and ran with it. I sat down, plotted, planned and wrote the first 10 pages of chapter one, and a 2 page double-spaced synopsis and then sent that sucker in. I'm still rather shocked that they didn't say a peep about changes to story, and asked for the whole thing--which of course is not finished. So, I have been pounding the keyboard to try and get it done in between fretting that I won't be able to deliver the necessary quality material, and writing my New Voices entry chapter.

Now that NV chapter is up (Unlikely Aphrodite), I am back to the Medical, which is good because that story wouldn't shut up while I was trying to figure out my NV entry -- and it took a great deal longer than I would have liked to take form.

Since the Med is outlined, and I'm up to chapter 3/4 area, I am hoping to resume course and add another 10-15 pages per night. I aim high, since I'm a competitive maniac and if I can't compete with someone else, I must compete with myself. We'll see how that pans out, I'm slightly ADD. I swear I have never taken Ambien, but a week or so ago (while ineffectively writing), without really realizing I was doing it, I Googled the history of processed cheese slices and how they get into the plastic wrapper. Out-of-body-Googling is what I have dubbed it. I'm fairly certain this means I'm crazy. I guess it could have been worse, I could have realized I was eating those processed cheese slices.