So I sold my soul to 9gag . . .

Derps and Derpettes, has it been a while! Can’t believe the last time I posted was April. Well, no, actually I can quite easily believe that. Unfortunately it was around that time I discovered 9gag and lost my soul. (I am still trying to reclaim it – 9gag, she is a mean mistress.)

Also, school picked up steam (or continued at its infinitely sedate pace, whichever) and I wrote millions of essays, or at least it seemed that way. I can officially say that I am this <–> close to hating essays.

But that isn’t to say I haven’t been writing. I have been, and I even submitted something. It’s time to get this whole “writer” thing rolling again. (Sorry, le 9gag, you must give me back my souls now!) I just haven’t been blogging. Haven’t felt like I had anything to add to the conversation.

Enough with le excuses!

No excuse!

Suffice it to say, I’ll be blogging regularly. About what you ask? Oh, anything I feel like. Horror movies. Books. Comedies. Writing. Munchkins. It’s all up for grabs.

First, though, check this out:

File:MissBeatnik.jpg

My hubby swears I must be the reincarnation of the woman on the couch, third from the left. In a former life, I was a candidate for Miss Beatnik 1959. And named Patti.

Also, my photoshop skills are quite suckiest. After a couple hours, I give up trying to glue my face onto hers. It would’ve been funny, though. Oh well.

So my blogging skills are rusty. I’m going to have to get these muscles used to working again. I hope everyone clicked on the link to 9gag. I could always use a few more souls under my belt.

Til next time, when I return with a flick for “Hump Day Horror” and more blathering.

- le Weird One

Insanity

Counting Down til the End

. . . . of the world . . . .

 

Well, perhaps not the end of the world. At least, not until December 21, 2012. (By the way, my apologies for that link. It was uncalled for. Try this one instead. It will hopefully be more to your liking.)

Unfortunately, while I’m still holding out hopes for a Zombie Apocalypse in 2012, I’m not really counting on it either. In the mean time, I am getting busy working on my bachelor’s degree. (It’s only been 9 years. About darned time I got started!) I’m getting my degree in Creative Writing and English online, and part of why I’ve been absent. School has been great, if a lot of busy work. (I write a LOT of essays!) But as I’ve started to get things balanced, it’s time to get back into the step of things.

Some updates since my last post:

I’ve moved once again. We’re stationed in yet another small Texas town, and moving has certainly been its own brand of fun. My poor, poor babies have been overturned and hauled around again. Those long-suffering books of mine, which had just gotten comfortable on their shelves, had to be packed up and moved again. Oh, yeah, and everybody else, too. I can say this honestly… I hate moving. I’ll probably start looking forward to it again in a few years, but for now, I’m glad to be getting comfortable again.

Getting comfortable again, adjusting to this new much busier schedule of mine, does include writing! Wait, let’s do that with a little more celebratory attitude…

IM WRITING!

Cel-A-Brate!

 

Also I’ve got some plans in the works. Secret, world conquering plans. Which I will divulge at a later date. But just know the blueprints exist for domination. And domination it will be.

On the horror movie review front, I’ve got some reviews lined up, like: Necromentia, The Last Exorcism, Shutter, My Soul to Take, and I Sell the Dead. There will be others as they roll in, some new and some old. All with a touch of my individual brand of humor. (Flavored crazy, touched up with short and sweet.) Time for some Hump Day Horror with some Double Doses.

There’s book reviews in store, some free fiction, and a whole site overhaul. Keep an eye out for things to come! But with that in mind… it’s mid-terms, and I’ve got homework!

Random Truths I Should Never Admit to on the Internet #193

While wasting my time connecting with people on FB, in my mind I make car revving noises (vroom, vroom), and squealing brakes (eerrr@!!) when I begin an earnest session of drive-by status commenting… and/or updating my own status. Also and/or not including repetition of random words “like likety like like” and “status statusy.. status statusy..” Is my insanity showing?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With Deepest Regrets, The Internet

I told you I’d be finishing up the Writer’s Online Tool Box Part 2 and throwing it up here for your amusement, and perhaps education, a few days ago.

However, I received this notice earlier today:

To Shanna Wynne, writer extraordinaire:

We must unfortunately inform you that the links you wish to provide on your latest and greatest blog are down. They have crashed and appear as Network Not Found. The internet equivalent to the Blue Screen of Death.

When these links are resurrected, we will update you immediately. Then you may proceed to write and publish your blog.

With deepest regrets,

The Internet

There you have it. The problem-at-hand. I could post the blog unfinished, without the links, but it just wouldn’t be the same.

As such, here are funny pictures to amuse us while we wait.

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One of my favorite Calvin and Hobbes comics.

lazy-road-demotivational-poster

This one makes me think….. Would I do that?

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I suppose two funny pictures are enough. Not only is the Internet ashamed for messing up my links, but for some reason, it’s also interfering with my blog – writing. (Buttons and stuff getting stuck. Had to undo stuff several times. It wants to put everything in block quotes. *sigh*)

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RANDOM PARANOID FEAR OF THE DAY #56

That there will be that fateful day on the escalator when my shoe laces or the hem of my jeans will get caught in its vice-like teeth and I will be chewed up into fajita meat.

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That thing is just scary looking…. It is in disrepair, I admit, but even the working ones terrify me.

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Have a terrific Sunday. I will return and post more. Hopefully the Internet fixes my link problem so I can post Part 2 to the Writer’s Online Tool Box series.

Talent is Overrated

With a lovely thanks to a friend (Sue Babcock), may I humbly present to you…. the truth about success.

Excerpt from Corporate Curmudgeon, Dale Dauten, dated July 20, 2009

…Geoff Colvin, author of “Talent Is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else.” As you’d guess from the “really” in the title, Colvin argues that IQ and innate ability are less important than you’d think, and that hard work is the real determinant …but not just any old work – only what he calls “deliberate practice.”

For instance, research at a German school for violinists divided 18-year-olds into three groups based on performance/potential. The researchers examined every variable that might explain the differences in the three groups, including estimating the number of hours they’d practiced throughout their young lifetimes. The highest group had put in 7,410 hours, the middlers had 5,301 and the stragglers had 3,420.

That led to a conclusion, the secret nobody really wants to hear, that thousands of hours of practice are what separates the best. However, as I mentioned, it isn’t just any old practice that counts – it’s methodically working on getting better. Colvin tells us that a study of ice-skaters finds that the mediocre ones spend most of their practice time working on jumps they can already do, while the great ones spend time working on ones they can’t, falling over and over. As Colvin puts it, “Landing on your butt on cold, hard ice is what progress is all about.”

So here we are. The plain, ugly, and unvarnished truth.

The only way to get better isn’t to just practice — you have to practice that stuff you don’t know how to do yet.

Here’s our dilemma as writers, folks.

We tend to write what we know. Not in that write-what-you-know-because-that’s-familiar sense. An example of which is: If you’re a plumber in your day job, write a story about a plumber in space if you write sci-fi.

No, what I’m talking about is sticking to your usual genre. Or sticking to writing single POV, either with a main character from your gender or with your background, etc. (For example: Stephen King’s Main Characters are usually writers. A lot of other writers believe this to be lazy writing. I might agree, except that it certainly makes the writing easier if you’re not spending agonizing hours researching something you just don’t know.)

In my own case, ironically, most of my Main Characters are male. (I can’t explain why. I just subconsciously create male characters to be the leads in my stories. I’ve written only a few female centered stories. Perhaps this explains why I’m not published more often….. Hmmmm…….. This requires deeper thinking.)

We should be stepping out of our safety zones. We should be writing stuff we never have the gall to write about before.

Write about Main Characters who’ve done things you’ve never experienced. Take it to places you’ve never been. Write more dialogue, less description. Be brave and bold in your writing.

These things are difficult to master. These things may even still require some research, talking to people who have the kind of experiences you’re writing about, so on and so forth.

But that’s what real practice is about. Doing the thing you can’t do, over and over, until you finally nail it.

Here’s where we need to define ourselves as writers.

I am already working on this. I’m tackling a novel, which I’ve never done before, but am making sure the experience is worthwhile and plain old fun. On top of that, I’m writing stories of a type I’ve never written before.

Remember, it’s not enough to just think outside the box…. sometimes you have to play outside, too.

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RANDOM PARANOID FEAR OF THE DAY # 195

That one day as you’re walking out of the bathroom, you’ll look down to find a ceramic kid’s clown has attached itself to your leg… and is climbing up!

spooky_wall_clown

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Okay, the next blog will be Part 2 of my Writer’s Online Tool Box series, featuring online market databases.

The Writer’s Tool Box – Online Pt. 1

Today, children, we’re going to learn about the tools to be found online that grant aid and sustenance to the struggling writer.  This will be a multi-series blogging experience. A first for me, and my readers.

funny-pictures-cat-is-asking-for-help-so-why-are-you-taking-photos

As a writer, I need access to my current work-in-progress (hereafter addressed as WIP). You never know where you’ll be when the mood to write strikes you, much like a lightning bolt could always pick your car that one fateful night on the road.

I generally carry a journal for these writing emergencies. It’s a magical one that I believe passed along a newer, much more productive Muse. Also, it’s bulky, heavy and wrapped in wood, bound with leather. (An expensive gift that I love very much. Thanks, Kristen!)

If the mood really strikes, then there’s no way my hands can possibly keep up with what’s racing around my head. I just can’t write that fast. But I do type that fast, so if I’m really getting whipped by my Muse, I turn to a computer – any computer – in reach.

Here is where we find a major dilemma.

While most of the United States is, for the most part, tech-savvy, I still meet people who have no idea what a flash drive is. (A flash drive is a small device you can carry around, plugs into the USB port on your computer and stores information.)

I had never considered using a flash drive to store my stories, those active and completed, until a friend of mine suggested it. My poor, abused flash drive goes with me everywhere. The day it’s not in my purse is a rare one.

In its journeys with me, we’ve learned that sometimes carrying the WIP on a flash drive is down right frustrating.

First, there’s the wait while the computer acknowledges the flash drive, pretends to need the software in order to use it, etc. Then there’s the Crap-the-stupid-thing-didn’t-save-properly-last-time-and-I’m-missing-half-the-story issue.

Beneath it all is the lurking fear that you’ll drop your bag/briefcase/purse/wherever-you-keep-your-gizmos, and somehow permanently mangle the drive so it never loads again.

Through it all, you know that one day, you will have to buy another flash drive. It will run out of space, sooner or later.

There is a solution to these obstacles, though. As writers, I think we’ve underestimated the value (and distraction) of the Internet.

My favorite web service of all time is Google. Google_1247646805058

Why, you ask?

Because Google doesn’t play. The wonderful people at Google spend all their waking time on the Internets trying to find ways of making our lives easier. (Recently they released a new browser, designed specifically by them, called Google Chrome. Check it out. It is awesome.)

Not too long ago, they released what is essentially an Open-Source Word Processor ….. Online.

They call it Google Documents.

Google Docs - All items_1247645628342

When I say that it is one of the most incredible, mind-blowing gifts I have been given as a writer, I am not joking around.

Through Google Documents, I have complete, secure access from any location to every single one of my documents. (Permitted I have uploaded them already.) I can pull up a story in a new window or tab, do some writing, quickly pull up a blank document if I feel like making notes as I write, and if necessary, pull up another tab to do some fast research. All within a single browser. All at a fairly decent speed.

The best part?

The possibility of Google Documents crashing is ridiculously minimal. (Though I would never inherently trust Google to fight to the death to save a little nobody newb’s writing. I do back-up what I put on Google, though I feel secure enough not to do it every day.)

They also offer you INFINITE space for every document you imagined you would write/work on.

Not only that, they also have templates for other projects (ranging from spreadsheets to resumes), you can “allow” outsiders to peer at your work, regardless of whether or not they have a Google account. They can edit, offer comments, make up a new part of the story, whatever.

The only thing that hinders you with Google Docs is your own imagination and paranoia. (That thing when you save 4 copies in different places and still worry about losing the whole shebang.)

I personally find Google’s organizational options to be more than satisfying. I can make as many folders as I want/need, rename at will and change label colors.

My only complaint is that Google Docs is falling behind as far as format goes. While writing, I tend to do so in block paragraphs, justified left, with an extra space between. In order to submit, that seemingly neat set of words must be double-spaced, tab indented, with zero extra lines between paragraphs. (Not to mention, headers and a cover page.) Here is where I’ve found my only problem. Google Docs at this time does not allow a lot of these changes. (It will probably change in the future.) So you will still need to copy/paste the WIP to a new doc and alter the format to suit your market’s needs.

Writer’s Tip #47: Once you have correctly formatted a story in standard manuscript format (see an example here), save it twice – once as your story, the other as a Correct Format Template. Then all you’ll need to do is copy/paste your future stories into the template and alter headers, title and byline, etc. as needed.

Also keep in mind that some markets chose to do things differently. Always read your markets guidelines before submitting!

So if you haven’t tried Google Documents yet, get yourself over there. It’s perfect for those times when you’re visiting family or friends and are, for whatever reason, unable to use your flash drive or whichever preferred method of keeping your stories close by.

I personally find the folders, labels, colors and infinite organization to be my favorite part. It’s far easier to move stories from folder to folder, or rename them in seconds, and so on and so forth. Imagine it as a gigantic filing cabinet, and you’ll never run out of file folders!

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Here we come to the end of The Writer’s Tool Box – Online. I hope I’ve offered some interesting tidbits and maybe some helpful advice.

Look forward to another installment next week. We’ll tackle the various websites online where writers can find markets to submit to. As well as any other ideas that jump into my head.

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As for other cool gadgets online, I just found an extension on Flock (my chosen web browser) that allows me to create and save screenshots of anything. (Where’d you think the screenshot of my Google Docs came from?)

It’s really cool and so easy to use, even I have no trouble. Check out Flock and their amazing extensions/add-ons.

Shanna - MySpace.com_1247704162192

I love playing with my gizmo.

If you haven’t already, stop by Myspace and add me as a friend. Just click the shot of my profile above.

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One more shot before we close the bar….

Talent in cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work.
Stephen King