Articles By Jamie DeBree

Reflections & List Items

As I write this, I’m sitting on the couch with my tea and two sleeping dogs on a welcome day off from work. It’s Veteran’s Day here in the states, a day to honor those who have fought for our country in years past. There are a lot of political statements that could so easily be made at this point, however, I’ll do as I always do and leave those to others who mind less (and seem to have more energy for) the unwinnable arguments that such topics bring about online.

Needless to say, I am reflecting, as one is supposed to do on such days. About veterans, politics, and also the insanely long list of things I’d like to get done while I’m not at work today. It would be impossible to do them all, unfortunately, and the all-or-nothing thinking that tends to go hand in hand with having an impossible list keeps beckoning from the edges of my mind.

I can’t do it all, so no point in doing any of it. Might as well watch movies or play games all day.

Alas, I know that would leave me feeling far worse than completing at least a few things on the list, so here I am, taking advantage of the dogs’ normal morning naptime to write this blog and cross one thing off the list. Once they wake up, we’ll have to keep moving anyways. They’re not big fans of laying around all day if someone is here to keep them busy.

It’s bitterly cold out today, and snowy – the snow not necessarily odd for this time of year, but the near zero temps are definitely out of character. This past weekend we were almost at 60f, plunging into the single digits yesterday. Tomorrow we’re supposed to be up near 50f again. No fall, but definitely a weather roller-coaster this year.

I’m still struggling with my routines. I’ve been dictating fiction on my way to and from work, and man…that works really well for getting a rough first draft down. But the transcriptions need to be edited into a true draft, and that takes time at the computer, and I…well, I need more time, and also more discipline. I don’t like my laptop, which is part of that, but I’m also trying to do that editing late at night when I’m tired from the day and my willpower is weakest. I need to either figure out how to boost my brain one more time before that last editing push, or how to fit in some time earlier in the evening. Which is difficult, as the house is noisy before 11pm. There has to be a solution, even if it’s just changing the venue in which I’m editing or starting my late night routine earlier or…something. I just need to find it. At least if I’m ever going to publish another book.

I will figure it out, eventually.

Now, it’s time to schedule this post and move on to the next item on my list. Ever forward, right?


Support your author:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Smashwords | iBooks

Maintenance: Annoying but Necessary

For those who might be curious, yes, I got my bee tattoo last week. Two, actually, and I’m happy with how they turned out. The lines are sharp and clean, and I stepped out of both my comfort zone and the strict interpretation I was holding myself to on that particular arm, which actually gave me ideas and a plan for the rest of that sleeve. So, for all the worrying, it turned out very well.

The rest of the week sort of took a dive downward after that. I had to call my dentist because I had a second tooth in as many weeks break. So I have to postpone the crown prep I had scheduled for the other tooth, so I can get this one filled (and it probably needs a crown too). It’s one of two teeth that I should have crowned years ago, but it got lost in the shuffle of other root canals and crowns along the way while I was trying to get my teeth to a healthier place. Maintenance postponed = two broken teeth and crowns needed.

Then Halloween was cold and miserable for decorating, but we got it done and even had a good turnout of trick-or-treaters. Afterwards, the heel of my right foot started hurting like crazy. The reason? Dry feet. If I slack off on the foot maintenance (filing/soaking once a week, shea butter and socks for an hour before bed every night), the heel of my right foot gets so dry it develops deep, painful cracks in the bottom. I’ve totally been slacking off on both weekly and daily foot care. Maintenance ignored = painful walking for several days.

I was going through my earrings Friday night, swapping out my Halloween theme for something that would match (sort of) the piercing jewelry I’m stuck with for another 4 weeks or so, and one of the pair I wanted is ruined. I have a bad habit of swapping out jewelry and then instead of cleaning the pieces I just took out and putting them away right then, I leave them sitting on the counter to clean “later”. Or worse yet, I’ll put them in a small bowl of water to soak, and then not get back to them until they’ve soaked the finish right off. Needless to say, I had to toss that pair out, and use a pair that don’t match as well. Worse, I have a lot of earrings that I need to toss due to not taking proper care in cleaning and storing them. Maintenance ignored = money and jewelry I really liked both down the drain, so to speak.

This past weekend, the hubby and I finally tried to fix a clog in the plumbing. The bathroom sink on the main floor was draining slow for quite awhile, and then when I finally got it unclogged, the bathroom sink just below it in the basement started overflowing when we used the sink upstairs. We took both traps off the sinks to try to get a snake into the right drain, with zero luck. We did break the pipe for the upper sink in the process though. Finally called a plumber after failing and making the problem worse, and they came out yesterday to clear out the drain and replace some old metal piping (including the ones we broke). Maintenance ignored = a few hundred bucks in professional maintenance, a vacation day and way longer without a working bathroom sink than necessary.

Maintenance is expensive initially, mostly in terms of time and attention. I hate taking time out of everything else I want to do in order to just do basic maintenance on things or myself. But it really is more expensive not to do it in the long run, which is something I really need to remind myself of more often. Or at least every time I’m feeling too lazy to lotion my feet, clean my jewelry or run a bacterial enzyme cleaner down the drains.

What have you been too lazy too keep up with lately? And what’s it going to cost you in the long run? Inquiring minds…


Support your author:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Smashwords | iBooks

Talkin’ Tattoos & Halloween

Tonight, I’m off to get a bee tattoo at Rise Again Tattoo. It’s a local shop that holds charity events every so often, and this past weekend, they happened to hold one to collect money for a fund that helps apiaries. I’m not generally big on charity events, nor do I get too excited about cheap tattoos (because with tattooing especially, you tend to get what you pay for). But I feel like this is a good cause, and I’ve been thinking I need a bee tattoo specifically for my Montana/nature sleeve in progress, so…I decided to take a risk. They were out of time before I finally stopped in, but gave me a voucher and an appointment so I could still participate, which was cool.

Understand, I’m not much of a risk-taker when it comes to tattoos. I normally have my tattoo work done by Andrew Hauck, owner of Ghosts of Grace Tattoo – he does good work with sharp lines, I like the way he interprets what I ask for, he’s fun to chat with, and also not uncomfortable to just be quiet with while he works. I was going to have him do a back piece for me last year, and then I couldn’t quite settle on exactly what I wanted stylistically speaking, and I decided to do the adult thing and pay off some bills instead of spending money on tattoos. If he’s still amenable to the idea, I’ll have him schedule me in for December to get started, now that I finally have a solid idea of what I want and why, and am kind of over the whole “financial adulting” thing for awhile.

The most important thing with Andrew is, I trust him. And tattoos are largely a matter of trust, if you care about getting a good tattoo. If you don’t, and just walking into a random shop and picking out a piece of flash to add to your collection is your thing, more power to you – I kind of wish I could be that person (it would make getting tattooed a lot less stressful, honestly), but I’m not. I’ve actually stressed more over this bee tattoo than I have over most of the pieces I have, just because the place I want to put it is right front and center on my forearm, and while I know most of the artists at this shop have good clean lines and sharp designs, I’ve also seen a few of the cheaper event tattoos from this shop (earlier events) that were…well, not the quality I’d want, personally. So it’s a bigger risk than I’d normally take – picking out some event flash (no, not the cheapest ones either – definitely at the higher end of the pay scale), and then trusting a new-to-me tattooer to make it look great.

So, we’ll see how it turns out. Fingers crossed, because there’s plenty of room where I want to put this little bee, and zero room for a cover-up if it somehow goes wrong.

There is another option, which is to go higher and use a spot on my arm with more room for a larger piece in an easier to hide spot. We’ll see which I’m in the mood for tonight when I get to the shop.

The other fun thing happening this week is…Halloween! Although it’s colder and snowier than normal, so it’s going to be…well, cold. But, it’ll still be fun to scare the kids daring enough to come out that night, and try not to blow a breaker in the process. I have Thursday off to decorate, hand out candy and tear down.

That reminds me – better charge my Zune! Yes, I still have one, and yes, it works great. Especially with our Halloween sound system that hooks into the lighting. A spooky night calls for spooky music!

Bees and ghosts are this week’s theme. Ghost bees? Hmm…that kind of gives me an idea for a story…


Support your author:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Smashwords | iBooks

Perceptions

I was in a tattoo shop this past weekend. I wasn’t getting a tattoo. I was getting a couple new piercings.

I’ve been contemplating these two piercings for several weeks – I’m not generally the type of person to go in and get any kind of body modification done on a whim. I’m a “plan-it-out, overthinking for weeks or months and then maybe finally get it done” type of person. But the one thing I did not think about was jewelry.

Generally you don’t have much of a choice in jewelry when you’re getting pierced. You have to use the jewelry that’s best for fresh piercings, which tends to be pretty boring. So I hadn’t really thought much about jewelry when I went in. I knew it would probably be either a fake gem of some sort, or a plain metallic ball. I’m not generally a person who wears a lot of gems. I did when I was in college, but I haven’t for a long time. Normally my go-to neutral is pearls (fake pearls, most of the time).

So when I was faced with the decision of what color gems to wear in my ear for the six to eight week healing time, my first inclination for the larger piercing in my inner conch was teal, and black seemed like a good choice for the other one.

Long story short, I let the piercer’s personal preference overshadow my desire for black and teal (to match my tattoo sleeve and also a good half of my wardrobe), and ended up with a light blue flower that I may wear again in the winter, and a bright royal blue gem that I’ll likely never wear again once the healing period is over.

My favorite color is blue, but I rarely wear “real” blue. It’s not good with my skin tone, and interestingly enough, the artist who does most of my tattoos recognized that right away. My sleeve was originally supposed to be black and a more royal blue, but he switched it to teal because the blue would have been too harsh on my skin. When I saw the colors, I knew he was right, and I’m grateful to him for recognizing that when I didn’t see it myself.

The tattoo artist has a better eye for color than the piercer, it would seem (which does kind of make sense, when you think about it). And I’m kind of annoyed that I allowed myself to be swayed from what would have been a great color choice in my ear to one I’m already tired of. It’s going to be a long 6-8 weeks of staring at that royal blue stone before I can take it out and get rid of it for good. Mea culpa, of course.

All this got me to thinking about how we perceive ourselves vs. how others perceive us, and how often that actually translates into us changing how we look and maybe even act to please others, even if it’s on a subconscious level. I know I’ve changed my appearance to a certain extent because that’s how someone else (or several someones) perceived me. I’ve also refused to change some things because no matter how much people wanted me to dress a certain way or be a certain type of person, I just…can’t, and am not.

For example – dresses and skirts. Lots of people, men and women, have told me I should wear more dresses/skirts. I look good in them, and people aren’t shy about saying they like them on me. Thing is, I hate them (or most of them). I feel incredibly constricted in a skirt – even a long one – because I’m constantly having to watch how I move and how I bend over or that I don’t catch a hem or that the hem doesn’t ride up too far…it’s a very high-maintenance thing for me to wear a skirt, and while I’ve tried wearing skirts and dresses here and there, it’s just not who I am.

But I did cut my long hair off pretty much solely because people kept telling me it looked better up. And I can tell you, without a doubt, that the short style has directly affected how people perceive me (for the better) and also how I act (which isn’t something I really want to admit, but there it is). I keep it short for that very reason.

Perception is a weird thing, and the lengths we will go to in order to alter or bend it to what we want is pretty amazing, whether we’re doing so consciously or not.

Deep thoughts for a Tuesday, eh?


Support your author:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Smashwords | iBooks

Resisting the Sparkly

*No audio today, because I pretty much rewrote the post from the transcript.*

Are you part crow, like me? Not the Native American kind – the “attracted to shiny objects”, avian kind. I love the shiny – shiny nail polish, shiny jewelry, shiny yarn…bring on the bling! Oddly enough, I’m not much for gemstones in jewelry, but I do love fun and funky patterns, colors and themes. And while I love most yarn, the stuff with those shiny little strands woven in for a subtle sparkly look just wants me to bring it home.

As you can imagine, I don’t actually open all the newsletters I get very often. That would be a serious fight with temptation far more often than I want to deal with it, so I normally just delete them unread, except for right after payday when I might have a few extra bucks to spend, or when I’ve actually budgeted for a sparkly expense and want to see if there’s a coupon in one that isn’t expired (that doesn’t happen often – don’t get me started on the “you just spent $50 with us, here’s a discount good for the next 12 hours because you couldn’t possibly have already ordered everything you need or spent all your money yet” codes – I want to kill someone when I get those).

But, companies tend to unsubscribe you if you don’t open their newsletters at least occasionally, so I’ve been trying to do a better job of at least opening them quickly and then deleting them (occasionally I do get a coupon code that’s good for more than a day or so!). Sometimes I have more willpower than others, and last week, while I was able to resist the sparkly yarn (barely), I didn’t have it in me to say “no” to the sparkly Halloween earrings on offer (and I did use the discount code in the email, thankyouverymuch). Three industrial bars and two rook bars later, I can’t bring myself to regret the decision, even though I probably shouldn’t have spent the money on them (and yes, it was far less money spent than if I’d bought the yarn).

This past weekend, I actually budgeted for sparklies – because Halloween is coming! I needed some other new earrings to go with my new bars for the holiday (I mean, if you’re gonna wear the bling, why not have it all themed?!), and we also needed some stuff for our “grim reapers on vacation” costumes this year. I don’t think long skeleton gloves/buffs really count as “sparkly”, but the Hawaiian style shirts I ordered are pretty darn bright…

I’ve been practically salivating over the new nail polish colors coming out…holos and glitters, especially. *sigh* Alas, I’ve been good about deleting all those emails and their damned quick-expiring discount codes, because…Halloween. And bills. Stupid bills.

It’s no wonder that the “special” pocket monsters in Pokemon are “shiny”, and the special event things in Wizards Unite are “brilliant”. I think we’re naturally drawn to things that sparkle and shine and bend the light a little differently. Otherwise precious metals and sparkly gemstones wouldn’t be so popular either. I wonder why that is? Why we’re seemingly “hard-coded” to be attracted to sparkly stuff? Something for more research, perhaps.

Are there people who can’t perceive “shiny” or “sparkly”? Anyone know?

What’s your favorite “shiny” thing?


 Support your author:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Smashwords | iBooks

Audio Posts and Making Room to Edit

I’ve been thinking about making these blog posts available in audio format as well, since I’m recording them anyways. I’m dictating them basically so that I can transcribe them back. But as we were discussing earlier, some people prefer to listen rather than read. So I was curious if there’s any interest in me making these available as audio files as well.

I don’t have the time or the inclination to do any editing on the audio files (or making them “pretty”). So it’s just going to be raw audio with all my hemming and hawing and rambling and occasional double sentence structure. It’s not going to be like a professional podcast by any means, though I did download Audacity so I could cut out the long silent beginning to the recording. I typically start the app recording before I start driving, and then don’t start dictating until safely out of my parking space and on my way. Safety first!

But if there’s any interest, I’d be happy to post it, so you can listen to my ramblings rather than reading them if you prefer. I’ll post this file (see above – it’s an mp3, so should play on pretty much anything), and you can let me know if you listen to it. If you prefer to listen to the blog posts instead of reading them, please try to leave a comment somewhere – Facebook, Twitter, on my blog, whatever. Let me know if it’s something that you find useful, or if it’s just extraneous.

One more quick note – I’m speaking slowly due to wanting the transcription process to be as accurate as possible. So it’s much slower than I’d normally speak. You might want to speed it up a little for listening. 😉

In any case, last week, you may have read my ultra whiny blog post about my frustration with not being able to do as much as I would like to do. And that is a huge issue for me. But more so when I’m really tired. And last week, as I said, I had a couple of nights where I made bad choices. I got to bed late – really late. And I got very little sleep.

I’m not used to that anymore. I guess until I started getting 6 hours of sleep a night, I never realized just how how much my brain was not actually processing as well as it could have been on four and a half hours of sleep. It’s kind of one of those, “you don’t know what you’re missing until you get it” sort of things. In any case, being tired makes me whiny, frustrated and a lot more pessimistic about everything, really.

So I got some sleep.

And I checked out my schedule and did a lot of math. Well, I didn’t do the math – I used a calculator, because that is still one of the premier functions a computer can do, so I don’t have to. Anyways, I did some math – added up some word counts and some dictation counts. I looked at the time I have available, and I rescheduled a bunch of my routines. I made a scheduled plan for my dictation times, because they’re pretty set in stone, for the most part: going to work in the morning, going home from work at lunch, going back to work after lunch, and then going home at night after work.

So unless I have the day off work, I have four 10 to 15 minute segments where I can dictate something. That leaves my late night writing times free for editing or scheduling blog posts or doing social media stuff or formatting books or whatever.

I will need more time to edit, because I’m writing a lot more with dictation, but it requires more editing as well. I’ve been doing my budgeting on Friday nights, and I usually don’t get started until around midnight. It takes me a couple of hours, because I don’t just budget – I also pay bills and plan for the future by doing more math (because I love it. Not!).

But the thing about the budgeting is, I can do it amidst distraction. I have it set up now in a program, and I’ve got recurring payments scheduled and my bills all in there. It’s highly automated now, so I can do it with distractions – I don’t necessarily need that hyper-focus I needed in the beginning. So what I’m going to try is doing the budget earlier on Friday nights, after I walk the dogs. And if I can get that done before 10, 10:30-ish, then I will have that late night time on Fridays free. I’m going to schedule out three hours from 11 o’clock at night till two o’clock in the morning, just for editing fiction. I’ll go through the first edit of just cleaning up the transcript files and making them into a first draft, basically.

I guess you could argue that I could write during that time too, and not have to clean up so much. The thing is, it’s harder to be creative late at night when I’m already tired from the day. I’m tired, and my brain isn’t working as well as it should be at that point in time. So it would take me longer to write from scratch than to just clean up a wonky first draft. Also, I can’t type as fast as I can dictate. But I can edit pretty quickly if the words/ideas are already “on paper”.

I’m going to try that, and then my late night time will be for editing and scheduling blog posts, and working on formatting, cover and publishing minutiae. We’ll see how that works for a couple weeks.

It’s gonna take me probably two weeks to get into the new groove. But I’m excited that I have a plan. And if it doesn’t work, I have a couple other options that I think I can try that might be effective.

I think it’s gonna work out pretty well one way or the other.

Now if I can just figure out how to clean my dining room table off so that I can use it for something other than storage. But that will be my next project. I need to get this writing stuff figured out first.

Thanks for joining me, whether you’re reading or listening!


 Support your author:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Smashwords | iBooks

Frustration

I used to be really good at getting stuff done. I used to be a pretty prolific writer, publishing several books a year, I used to keep up with multiple blogs, several social media outlets, several newsletters and even my own email – all while keeping up with my day job. But times and perspectives change, priorities shift, and…now I get less done, and most days I’m quite frustrated with that sad fact. Because even though my priorities may have changed, the fact that I want to write and publish at those former levels hasn’t.

I guess the thing that frustrates me most is that my priorities are in competition with each other, but I feel like health really has to win out for the long term. I sleep more and workout more now, which is what uses up a lot of my former publishing time. It’s a little over 2.5 hours out of my day – which is a lot of time, when you think about it (I sleep an extra hour and a half, and workout for an hour most nights). I do this in an attempt to stave off some of the less-savory parts of aging & genetics…the parts like dementia and/or Alzheimers, and the lymphoma that runs rampant in my family. It may work, it may not, but…I’d rather err on the side of caution, there.

My job also requires a lot of mental energy, and more social energy than I have to spare. So I’m mentally exhausted a lot of days when I get home, and after dinner and walking the dogs my brain just says “no more, I need to rest” and…that’s that. I do try to rally late at night to work, but then there are before-bed “chores” and whatever I didn’t manage to get to earlier (or whatever I’ve forgotten for several days and only “just now” remembered). Often by the time I sit down, I’m tired again, and I only have half an hour before I need to get to bed for a full 6 hours of sleep (the minimum needed for nightly “brain-cleaning” chores that stave off dementia, so the scientists say).

This is why I am so thrilled to have discovered dictation, so I can write during the day when my brain is already in “work mode”. Unfortunately, I now have the problem of words that need to be edited. A lot of them. And now I’m trying to figure out how to use the minuscule amount of time in the evenings I have to do that. Which would be somewhat easier had I not signed up for a monthly knitting class this time last year. I have one class left at the end of October, and I’m behind 3 half-squares, so I need to spend an hour or so knitting every night until those squares are done if I want to finish by the last class. There goes another hour. *sigh*

Obviously, I’m whiny this week. Not enough sleep (staying up to get things done…bad), the weather turned cold and gray, etc.

Less whining, more working. I’ll get there (again).

Probably after a night of decent sleep. So, Wednesday, maybe?


 Support your author:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Smashwords | iBooks

Trying Dictation

Last week I mentioned that I wanted to try to dictation for my books, but I wasn’t sure if I could do it…well, for a lot of reasons. But I downloaded a couple samples of books about dictation by authors who use it a lot all the time, and I read the introductions.

I decided to give it a try. If it works, it’ll be a great tool. If not, then nothing lost, right? But dictating while walking really wasn’t going to work for me – at least not at the moment. Honestly, I enjoy just being out with the dogs and being *quiet* for awhile. It’s my downtime, and I didn’t want to give that up.

But I do have several short trips in the car every day as I drive to work, back home for lunch, back to work, and back home again. It’s basically wasted time. Why not use that for writing?

So as an experiment, last Friday after work in my car, I opened the Otter app on my cell and put my phone in the cup holder. As I drove home, I started talking. Rambling, really, like I was writing a blog post. From work to my house is about a 15 minute drive (give or take). I pretty much just rambled the whole time, and let the phone record. I got home, connected to wi-fi, let the audio file upload to the cloud and transcribe my ramblings. When I finally looked at the raw text file, I realized that it really wouldn’t be all that difficult to edit the transcription into a bonafide blog post.

I was kind of excited after that, because it took me around 11 minutes to write an entire blog post – around 1600 words. I was surprised at how little editing it needed, and how good the AI transcription services have become.

I decided it was worth a concentrated effort to learn the skill of dictation. Monday morning, I got in the car, I turned on my Otter app, and I dictated/wrote the daily email I send to my friend Carol while I was driving to work.

That worked pretty well. It needed some editing, obviously. But it was it was nice to have the the basic blueprint down, that I could just add a quote for the day to it and send it off on my break. Then on my way home for lunch, I turned the Otter app back on while I was driving home, and started dictating a short story.

I got about 800 words “written” on the way home. I continued dictating on the way back to work, and wrote about 800 more words. So by the time I got back to work after lunch, I had a little over 1600 raw words dictated and waiting to be transcribed and edited. That is more than I’ve written in the last few weeks, and it took me 21 minutes (10 minutes and 11 minutes, respectively).

Monday night I planned to use my normal writing time to edit the transcriptions for the day. I ended up needing to do some day-job work though, and then I needed to figure out a workflow for moving the transcriptions into the normal programs I use for writing/editing – namely yWriter (fiction) and Workflowy (non-fiction). So I didn’t have as much time as I’d have liked for editing, but I still got one scene edited before bed, and that 800 raw words became 750 edited/usable words. Not bad, really, considering it only took me 20 minutes or so to edit it down (and that time should get shorter as I get better at dictating.

I also dictated this post on my way home from work Monday night, and spent a few minutes last night editing it. I wouldn’t have had time to sit and write the whole thing out at the keyboard this week, so this post might not even have been written had I not dictated it on my short commute.

I bought two books about dictation (linked at the end of this post) which have been very helpful so far – one more of an overview, and one more focused on the actual nuts and bolts of the skill. One prevailing theme they both seek to hammer home is that dictation is a skill and a tool, just like typing or writing longhand. It’s not something you just “jump into”. There’s a learning curve, and practice time required, and it’s going to take some effort before you reach that point where it’s second nature (like sitting down at a keyboard to type, or picking up a pen).

But considering I’m still not very good at dictation, and my transcriptions require quite a bit of editing, I’m already seeing huge gains in word count and progress, and that has me very excited about what this skill/tool could mean for me in the long run. If I’m doing this much better *now*, and I still basically suck at it, how much progress is possible later as I get better? Seriously. This could literally be life-changing for me.

I’ve ordered a phone mount for my car, so I don’t have the phone rattling around in the cup holder (will also be handy when using google maps to get somewhere). I have Otter set to *not* transcribe in real time, both to save data, and so it doesn’t write out the words on the screen as I’m speaking – that would be a distraction. This way, the screen is just white, with a little bar across the bottom that lets you know whether it’s picking up sound or not. And that’s really all I need, at least for now. Start the Otter app before I start driving (and turn the radio off) and…talk as I drive. Simple as that.

I’m looking forward to tallying the amount of words I’ve written at the end of this week (for the first time in a long while). Stay tuned (if you’re interested, anyways).

The two books:

15 Minute Dictation: More Books, Less Frustration by Sean M. Platt and Neeve Silver

On Being a Dictator: Using Dictation to Be a Better Writer (Million Dollar Writing Series) by Kevin J. Anderson & Martin L. Shoemaker


 Support your author:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Smashwords | iBooks

 

Reading Aloud

As an introvert, most of my cohesive thoughts happen quietly, in my head. I don’t process auditory information well, and while I can impart thoughts and ideas verbally, it’s not my best or favorite way to communicate.

No, this isn’t a “millennial” issue – I’m solidly Gen X. This is just a “that’s how my brain works” thing, and along with that, I don’t listen to music while doing anything I need my brain for. I can do rote tasks and listen, but nothing mentally engaging. Needless to say, audio books don’t really work for me – I have to work harder to process what I’m hearing, so I can’t do anything else while listening to one, which sort of defeats the purpose (especially since I could just be reading the book).

I know several people who are exactly the opposite. They process everything more easily if they can hear it, rather than trying to read and comprehend. A couple of them are dyslexic, so of course it’s going to be much harder for them to make sense of words on a page than sound in their ears. It’s amazing (and kind of fascinating, really) how differently our brains work to process information. At work especially, I’ve found it’s good to have a balance of people who process things better in different ways, because we each catch things the other misses while processing info using our own strengths.

I remember doing the edits for my first book, and reading it aloud just to force myself to process it in an entirely different way (reading aloud is yet another set of processes, I find – both reading and hearing at the same time). I think it made the book stronger, but it also drove me a little nuts, both in trying to find time alone to read (I didn’t really want to read aloud to my husband), and also just the “noise” aspect of it.

And listening to my own audiobooks once they’ve been recorded (by someone else) is a very interesting thing as well. It requires a lot of focus to get through, but it is kind of surreal listening to someone entirely different read my stories aloud.

Given all this, you might be surprised that I’m still curious about dictation for writing. More specifically, I’m curious as to whether I could learn to be okay with speaking and storytelling aloud enough to eventually dictate part or all of my first drafts to a digital recorder/transcription service. This requires something I am already abysmally low on though, which is time to myself. I am generally either at work, at home with my husband, or out walking the dogs. And while I know there are authors who dictate while dog walking, I’m really not sure I can do that. Too self-conscious.

But if I could, that would be an excellent way to get a lot of words down in a short amount of time. Or even just a good way to get blog posts “written”. I’m generally out walking for half an hour or more, so plenty of time, as long as Athena doesn’t mind me yammering on while we walk.

I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to do fiction this way, but I may well try dictating a few blog posts. And I have a couple of book samples for training yourself to speak aloud that I plan on reading and buying if they seem worth it. Nothing to lose, and everything to gain (or at least another tool for the writing box), right?

Do you dictate and/or read aloud? Are you comfortable composing stories or other things vocally? Or are you generally the quiet, write-it-down type, like me? Inquiring minds…


Support your author:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Smashwords | iBooks

2019 Goals Check-Up

As a reminder, these were my three goals elevated to “Resolution Status” this year:

1) Pay off one major and 2 minor lines of credit
2) Institute a one-paycheck waiting period for all unnecessary, un-budgeted purchases
3) Publish two books

The first one is nearly done, and it would already be done if not for some unexpected expenses that came up this summer. I’ve paid off two minor credit lines, and the third will be done in October. I was actually really hoping to pay down more on several larger credit lines, but…well, we do what we can. As a side-goal to this, I’ve been paying very close attention to my finances and budgeting every single week. It’s been a little tough here and there, but overall, I’m optimistic that I’ll be able to pay down the outstanding debts faster, and start saving a decent chunk every month as well.

The second resolution has been more difficult, mostly just because several things came up that were time-sensitive right at the start of the year, and…well, I needed to act quickly, or forgo whatever it was. I opted to “do the things”, and they were fun, but they did cut into the budget and set me back, which was the whole reason for the “rule” in the first place (to avoid being set back). And then of course I had several un-budgeted but necessary things come up this summer, so…yeah. The finance thing isn’t going as well as I’d hoped, but it is still moving in the right direction. I am trying to stick to the resolution for the rest of the year, but we’ll see how well I do budgeting ahead of time for things like Christmas gifts. I should start thinking about that…well, yesterday. Hmm.

As for the third thing…so far, it’s a complete and total bust. I keep trying to reclaim my writing time, and life just…happens. I really have no guaranteed quiet time at home until after midnight, and then it’s almost too late (depending on whether I want time to read as well, which is important – you really do have to be a reader to write, and I haven’t been reading nearly enough lately). As far as working on edits and rewrites and all the various stuff that goes with actually publishing (formatting, cover art, etc)…wow. I’ve not been making the time I need to for that, and given the time it takes to publish one book (much less two), I’m not sure I’m going to make it. Which is, frankly, quite depressing.

I do have a plan for more writing, and that started today. I’ve got some new routines in place that should help, and some new “rules” for myself that will hopefully reset my priorities to “writing before fun” in my off-day-job hours. I don’t really know what to do about the publishing side of things yet, but…getting back to a very regular writing routine would help a great deal on the writing side.

I do have a couple of books that are published in ebook format, but not in print yet. I think I’ll work on getting the print copies of those done and out first, and then maybe that will be enough to establish routines for getting those types of tasks done. Both books are good Halloween/creepy type stories, so those would be good to have available by October. A tight time frame, but maybe that’s exactly what I need.

There are four months left in the year. *sigh* Writing and publishing are definitely going to be my top priorities for that time. Even if I don’t make the goal, I want to put as much effort into it as possible. So…onward.


Support your author:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Smashwords | iBooks