27 December 2010

Finalizing My Plot

I've been working on a plot for my novel for the past 4 months and I'm now coming to a final summary and what I believe to be something very workable. Why has this taken me 4 months? Because, I’ve read 4 or 5 books now to try and help me in getting started with my first novel. I hope those authors enjoy the royalties from my purchase. Here’s more of a comprehensive idea of how I discovered what works for me.

How many times do we consider a story in our heads and think we'll just put it down on paper? I do it all the time with short stories. My biggest problem when I start putting my story on paper is that I realize that two dimensional characters are really difficult to work with when writing down a story where you are just explaining this happened, and then this, and then, well...this happened. Not really like that, but pretty close. It's rather painful. When self-help books for writers say to just sit down and start writing, this is what happens.

So then I stopped writing the story. Now I had to consider why someone would do this or that and why another character would react in the way I described in my story. Aren't I being a bit selfish as a storyteller at this point? I'm not giving any consideration to my characters at all, just making them do things that maybe they feel like they wouldn't EVER in a million years respond the way I described. How did I come to realize this though? Enter my 16 year old daughter.

I'm telling her about this story and the interaction between two of my characters and she goes, "The hell? If I were that chick, I wouldn't just sit there and not say anything about her boyfriend being out with another girl the night before, no way! I'd let him have it right then and there."

Okay, so now, two months into my story I have a dilemma, right? How do I fix this situation in my story so that the reader believes the situations? How do I make my scenes realistic to anyone reading my novel? Sure, my daughter wouldn’t react that way, but not everyone is my daughter. Her friend Jenna wouldn't react that way either, but Jenna would respond in a completely different way than my daughter as well as my fictional character. So now what? So now I have to make my characters believable. I have to give them more depth. Back to the drawing board.

Now I have Lenny and Emma. And being that they are fleshed out to be their own persons, I can have them communicate with each other in manners that are completely within their characters and the reader will not put themselves in the place of either character, but can move along the story beside them. Not a major hurdle, but I'm getting somewhere at least.

Now, onto plot. I have my story started, my believable characters, both whom I love dearly at this point. Dammit, writer's block! These are two complete different people here. How is it that they are friends to begin with? What happened to my story? It doesn’t work anymore.

Month 3 - depression, work slows to a standstill, fiction writing class is ending. Time for Christmas shopping, planning events and so on. It's a good thing I didn't have any time for writing. This whole time I'm thinking about the fact that I have no story to create for these two completely different people that are swimming around in my head. Back to the drawing board. :(

Month 4 - brilliance! Both characters will have parallel journeys! One, a journey toward a blossoming relationship with her mother, the other toward the discovery of turmoil in a relationship with her fiancé. The journeys will give me that chance to give them the depth and characterization that I need for my plot to work!

I guess 4 months of trying to figure this out has led me to a more confident and positive approach to story compilation. Call me a newbie, but I'd rather learn as I go than to create something that in the end leaves my reader going, "Huh? So what's the point?" or maybe even putting down the book before finishing the first chapter.

How do you discover your final plot? Do you discover it or do you start out knowing exactly what's going to happen?

21 December 2010

Time is NOT Money

This year during the Holidays, I put forth some of my time to help with one of the local Toys For Tots charity events. It was the first year that I attended all of the committee meetings for the annual pig-picking drive for toys. I cannot tell you how much my heart has grown this Holiday season and I believe it is because of this experience that I had.

Not only did we provide food, drinks and entertainment for over 900 guests participating in the drive for more toys, we also helped gather donations and toys for over 1300 families. The amazing part of this whole effort is that we worked side by side with work-release prisoners, categorizing toys and bagging in masses for families throughout the local community. I hoped that the other workers were also experiencing this feeling of euphoria.

It was tedious work, but after the third and fourth bag that I compiled for families with 2 to 3 children of varying ages, I felt like I was the one giving these toys to the families. I carefully chose each stuffed animal, each of the two stocking stuffers per child, each game, book and toy for the appropriate age groups.

As I was stuffing these bags, I became overwhelmed as I imagined the look of surprise on the children's faces Christmas morning. The gift I was giving was only of my time, but I was the one who received the biggest gift of all, this enormous gift of feeling worthy and good.

If you have the opportunity to join a group that works for the betterment of your community or for those less fortunate than you, I strongly urge you to participate. It has helped me understand the difference between obligation and just plain goodwill.

Happy Holidays!

P.S. I didn't get to keep Clyde, but here's a picture of us bonding after a very long day.

18 November 2010

Reflection: What is Sanity?

I hardly ever think about theme when I'm writing a story. When I start out with a character, I have no idea what that character is going to do. The story eventually comes to me but I'm about three or four paragraphs into it when that happens.

I'll then realize that I'm making something of a big deal about this character, whether it's a good deal or bad one. Then I become attached to the character and want to do more with him or her. I want them to do great things or I want to sacrifice them in some way. Then I start compiling ideas on how I can make the story mean something more than just being about this character I developed.

I look at theme as an overall mood that is reflected in the process of building your story. I can go hours with doing nothing but think to myself. My husband will ask what I'm thinking about and I have to tell him that I cannot possibly relay to him what I'm thinking because then I'd have to go through the painstaking process of explaining the thousand thoughts that led me to my current thought.

That's what I feel about themes. What you have is just a process of all things leading up to where you are in the end, or when someone stops you and asks you that question, "What are you thinking?" It's the same as asking, "So, what's the theme?"

I write so that I don't have to explain my thoughts, I can just say go back and read what I wrote because I can't tell you what I'm thinking now, let alone what I was thinking when I wrote what I did. It will just frustrate me!

Writing keeps me sane. That's always going to be my theme then, "What is Sanity?" It's in my writing, can't you see it?

07 October 2010

Latest Compulsion to Purchase - 3D TV

So I almost broke down and purchased myself a 3D television ensemble a few weekends ago. I will be the first to admit that the geek in me almost always makes the worst decisions while out shopping. I get blind-sided by some serious techno bling. There, I said it...techno bling. Yes, I too sometimes get drawn into that whole nonsense. But my very sensible husband always manages to step me aside and give me the sideline punting strategy lecture....just wait it out.


I know he's right. But it doesn't make it any easier to bypass that display in Best Buy and just let it go. I want to see it in my living room, NOW! I want to invite friends over and give them a pair of $150.00 glasses (each) and sit down and watch Avatar together. I know what some of my friends would say right now if they were reading this.

So what? How come it's not okay anymore to revel in the grandioseness of techno bling? Everybody feels it. Everybody wants to be in a position to buy something they want even though it may not be the smartest thing to purchase at the time. It's just the newest candy in the aisle, the newest trash magazine, only it has a price tag in upwards of $3K.

The thing is, I know the cost is going to go down because technology depreciates faster than a brand new trailer in an ancient trailer park. So I have to ask myself maybe after Christmas is over? Maybe after more competitors get into the 3D television market? Wait, how about when there are more channels that broadcast in 3D other than ESPN (I don't even watch sports)? Even better than that...how about when there are more 3D movies being released other than the two that are in circulation right now?

Technology is dangled before my eyes and I have to be smart about it. I would rather be rich and dumb, honestly! Look, when the geeks start getting sensible about the cost effectiveness of the products we wish to purchase, it's time to lower the price threshold when you're on the bleeding edge. You know what I'm saying? It's the geeks wanting these products, not the "rich" folk. They're too busy taking cruises and gallivanting around the world to sit down and watch 3D television.

So, Sony and Panasonic, please cut a sister geek a break!

13 September 2010

Novel Writing Software

I would definitely recommend this software package. There are a few things that are exceptional about the concept of this software that I can definitely share with you because of the fact that I've been writing for many years and have manually organized and categorized and made half ass attempts at integrating my work throughout the years. I can't tell you how pleased I was to fire up this software and find all the conveniences that just do not come with a PC running windows and an installed word processor.

You can download a demo here http://www.ravensheadservices.com/

What I like:

1. Built in character template to include a number of pre-defined personality traits, relationships, and free form character description to include character picture. Every character is easily accessible from a left navigation bar that loads in the main workspace via a click on the character.

While writing your story, chapter, scene or whatever, you are only a click away from reminding yourself of those character traits, personality nuances and relationships that you need to keep in mind for the sake of character integrity. So many times in the past I would start writing dialogue between two characters and I stop myself and want to go back and re-read every single scene to make sure I'm doing this correctly.

When I click on a character, I can quickly see that "Lenny" wouldn't answer that question in that manner and would be able to catch myself as I move along rather than continuing to go back through my character sheet that is saved under C:\My Documents\Novels\It Happened One Summer\Character Sheets\Lenny.txt. You would think that as you write you should know your characters, but in the beginning with your first three or four chapters it's really hard and discouraging.

2. The Events tab is particularly pleasant because you can make an event and put it on a timeline. You can organize your events in the left navigation by clicking and dragging the event of your choice either up or down depending on your story flow. I really like this because when I start writing I don't just jump in at the beginning. I start with an idea and I first write a "scene". If I like that scene, then I ask myself why that scene happened and thus come more scenes and thus is birthed a story ready to be written.

So, from my standpoint, the event "drag and drop" mobility is very satisfying because I don't have to worry about organizing or trying to figure out where something will fit. When I'm ready, I can look at my navigation of events and drag and drop where I want them to occur in my timeline. There's my flow. I love it. You can also select and store all characters associated with that event.

3. You don't need a separate word processor. This software has all the tools you need if you want to write a story for publishing. It incorporates all those tools in a single portal. Need a thesaurus, dictionary, spell checker? It's all there, plus when you're done you can "Export" your story as a manuscript for submission, an ebook for online publication or an html web page (I didn't like the html webpage; would rather do it myself with formatting).

4. Graphs! You can pick any character you want and display a graph of that character's relationships. It's an awesome way to organize how you want to progress in your story. If you see that one character only has a relationship with one other character, you might ask yourself - Why is that character in my story? It might be a great way to integrate another scene and add to the plot, or you might make a wiser decision to cut the character and scene altogether depending on how far along you are in your novel. Awesome feature!

5. Export setup for manuscript output. I like this because not all publishers accept manuscripts the same. Margins, fonts, cover page, word count, etc. can be different. If you find that a publisher's requirements are slightly different than the industry standard, you just tweak the export, create your manuscript and then reset the defaults. Easy!

What I don't like:

1. The import function doesn't seem to work. I could be doing something wrong, but I can't be sure. It's never a good thing to get java I/O errors and then immediately get a message box that asks you to save. I don't like that at all. I realize that I won't need to use this function anyways because it's just as easy to copy and paste text to and from the clipboard.

2. Large character portraits can slow performance of this software. Yikes! Okay, I didn't know this until I tried to use a picture for one of my characters. It will still let you use the picture, just gives a warning that you may hinder the performance. I think a much better approach would have been to establish a maximum size for this feature and disallow larger photos.

Anyway, that's been my experience so far and I've only really just begun.

11 September 2010

All About Biscuit

Biscuit is my prize dog. I'll tell you why.

A few weeks after I bought my Yorkie from a breeder in Blountstown, she was ready for her next series of shots. My vet had been taking care of Maggie and Taz for the longest time and I do trust him to do whatever necessary to care for them. So when I took Biscuit there and everything was fine, I got her booster shots and went on home.

The next morning, I noticed that she wasn't the hyper Yorkie that I remembered from the night before and so I picked her up and held her for a bit, you know...mommy love!

I didn't start to panic until I felt her go limp in my arms. My initial thought was that she had fallen asleep in my arms. But, when I picked her up to carry her to her kennel, she didn't move. That's when panic set in.

I drove her to the vet and they took her to the back room immediately. They explained to me that small dogs (she was less than 1 lb at the time) needed to be monitored for illness more closely than bigger dogs because they will dehydrate quickly when they become ill. All my dogs that I'd ever had were small, but not this small. At full grown she is just under 4 lbs.

I just said, "DO something, I don't care what, just do it!"

The vet injected her with some sort of glucose mixture and said that he was sorry and that she probably wouldn't make it through the night. I was heartbroken.

I covered her in a blanket and held her all night while watching television. I didn't remember falling asleep. When I woke to a wet feeling on my left thumb, I realized that it was Biscuit licking me. I hate waking up from a deep sleep, but this one was worth it. I carried her into the kitchen and gave her two small pieces of very thin sandwich meat, which she gulped down with much difficulty. At that point, I knew I'd be able to nurse her back to full health.

A week later, I took her back to visit our vet so that he could truly see the miracle for which he played a part. His eyes welled up with tears and he thanked me for bringing her back to see him. I think he actually felt that I'd never come back if Biscuit had died that evening. It made me feel good that he recognized a kindness in me that most people would never care to comprehend.

Today she is my most pampered dog. Fifty-dollar cuts with nail trimmings and teeth brushings is nothing out of the pocket when I see her wag her tail so vigorously when I pick her up at PetSmart. She even lets them put bows in her hair now.

Thank you, Mahan Animal Clinic!

Meet miss priss!

All About Maggie

Maggie was our first English bulldog. Since I was a little girl, I always had small dogs like poodles, cocker spaniels and the occasional mixed puppy. So, when my husband retired from the Marine Corps and stated that he wanted an English bulldog I was so not hearing that. First thing I told him was that they were NOT cute dogs at all. I especially didn't want one after he told me that they snort and fart all the time. A real man's dog he called them. NO!

But he talked me into it and one day he went to a breeder two counties away and Maggie walked up to him and picked him as her new owner. I kid you not, that's how it went down. She has always had this look about her that says, "Look at me, I'm so smart." So when she walks up to you and you say, "Look at Maggie! You're so smart, Maggie!" she pulls her ears back and accepts your praise of a pat on the head. We named her after the Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

Maggie is one dog that doesn't like to be mocked though. If you just stare at her and don't praise her for being smart, she'll rush over to you and start humping your leg. Almost as if she's telling you you're being disrespectful by not praising her for simply being Maggie. Spoiled you think? It is a personality thing; we did not train her to be that way.

We put laundry on the sofa for our teen daughter to fold. But, if she doesn't get to it within 15 minutes, Maggie will take it upon herself to kick the pile of laundry onto the floor to make room for her mid-day nap. Many times, I'd find her on her back, with legs kicked up and tongue hanging out as if she hasn't a care in the world. I think my husband has fed her one too many steaks fresh from the grill!

I sometimes wish I could have such the life. Only I don't want to go into the kennel every time we have company!


10 September 2010

All About Taz

I have a male English bulldog named Taz, short for Tasmanian Devil, the cartoon character. So on with another progress making story, but we aren't quite there with this one and I don't think we will ever be.

You see, Taz is special. We didn't discover this until he was about a year old. It was at a point in time where we realized that he had outgrown Maggie, our female (alpha) English bulldog. You see it coming, right?

After a sudden brawl between the two and a trip to the vet's office, we decided that it was best to keep them separated at all times, because re-attaching Maggie's ear to her head and a $700.00 vet bill was just over the top. That meant separate feeding times, separate walking times, and separate love and affection times. All to be shared with our prissy Yorkshire terrier, Biscuit.

Throughout the past 3 or 4 years, Taz has gotten progressively worse. Not in his aggression toward Maggie, because we don't have them anywhere near each other, but his behavior has become increasingly bazaar.

I first noticed these bazaar behavioral patterns in him when he first displayed an intense fear when a storm suddenly formulated one summer eve. He whined and whimpered and ran behind some boxes in the garage. If you ever seen a 70 pound English bulldog whimper and run, you know how odd that is. I had to stumble back to keep the boxes from falling on me.

I asked my vet about this and he prescribed some medication that was to be administered via a 2 inch syringe the next time a storm hit. It was kind of hard to predict when Taz would need this medication and so eventually it expired.

So we lived with the fact that he'd built himself a safe-haven within the garage, behind those boxes. He would seek shelter whenever he felt the need. It's not that I didn't feel horrible for him, but there just wasn't anything I could think of to do. It's not like you can console a dog with rationale like you can a scared child.

This isn't really the bazaar behavior; it's actually quite common for animals to wig out during thunderstorms. But, the progression of his fear is so bazaar because now he becomes intensely frightened when it's not even thundering. There could be a small cloud in the sky that produces a light sprinkle whose droplets quickly evaporate as soon as they hit the driveway. You can't clear a path quick enough to his bunker that he's built. That is what's not normal.

At some point you would think that fear would subside once it has been proven over and over again that no harm will come from the thunderstorm.

Aside from the increased intensity of fear over the weather, Taz has displayed some more unusual propensities. He lifts his leg and pees on people and defecates in his food bowl. I don't know what to make of this. I'm starting to wonder if he might be a little more "special" today than he was a year ago. And maybe he will just continue to become more and more "special" as time goes by.


04 July 2010

My Fiction Themes

The themes that I always seem to run into while writing are the diametrically opposing forces of any type. Sometimes I write about good and evil, sometimes black and white and then at times maybe the rich and the poor. It seems to come easier for me to play narrator when I can see and even describe both sides of a story without commitment to either side. It’s easier to write when you don’t feel the need to lie or hide whatever it is that you want to make visible, like an interesting story.

Take evil for instance. I like to acknowledge that it is there, but I also like to show it in other forms other than what most would find atrocious acts. Evil is a presence that can be felt and described without having to add guts and gore. Too many times, I enjoy embracing that evil presence, strengthening it in prose, and then in the end abandoning it or abolishing it altogether.

In reading back through some of my past writings, I seem to have two voices at times. One is the evil, crisp narrator who would promise world domination and adherence to a dark side. Then there would be the good, flittering and nurturing narrator who would tell of tears and joy. Though I seem to choose one or the other dependent upon mood, I really haven’t seen anything that stands out as a theme.

One thing that I do tend to move toward is empowerment. In much of my gaming life, social and political power in the eyes of the Deities is a big focus. So I think in much of my writing I tend to view my audience as being the powers that be, so in that respect I am basically writing for the empowerment of my characters rather than for the story itself, thereby missing theme altogether.

So in the end, what is the point? I loved the journey of that character. I loved that character. I loved the oppositional forces surrounding that character and I loved how he/she dealt with the obstacles encountered throughout their journey. I don’t know what all that means, but that’s the joy of writing for me.

I think what I can do to help myself develop a better feel for theme is to be more aware of what I’m bringing into each story. I should probably ask more questions about why I introduce things into my stories, like what is the purpose of bringing this new character into focus? What are my plans for that particular character (if any) and does it fit with my story? I think that if I question myself more when I’m writing, I may find that there is more of a point than just the journey itself.

07 May 2010

Web Services and Outsourcing

It looks like I'm going to be developing a solution for connecting to and utilizing a SOAP service. The learning hasn't been too painful and I'm finally getting through one of several tutorials. Research, read, learn and apply. I feel like my job is just a continuation of college. I just get a paycheck for doing it. Hey, nice concept.

Why am I developing a solution to connect to another business's service? Couldn't I just build a program to handle the exact same thing that that service provides? If I could I would. My direction isn't dictated by what I can build, but by what management is willing to spend on a project. Is the argument that the service already exists in another organization and for a small amount of money and a little bit of effort, we can use their services? Okay, but guess what? I already get paid to program, so why don't they use what's already here, me?

Why not let me spend my hours developing a software package in-house? Is it the cost? Is there some sort of liability? Is there a fear that the quality will be degraded because commercial software and/or services are thought to be superior than home grown ones that are customized to your individual need? How many commercial packages have you purchased in the past 10 years that you actually use because it's so easy to use and fits your needs?

Maybe the smart thing to do is invest some dollars into my own consulting firm and build services and develop software for all these places that are hell-bent on outsourcing?  I don't know, I'm just saying. The future of computing is changing exponentially and I think my job description has changed a bit to include an extra bullet point: "prepare for the apocalypse".

22 April 2010

SEO Unethical Techniques

The way I learn best is for someone to pose a question. For example, "Diane, have you heard of SEO article writing?" To which my answer would be, "No, but now I'm curious.." Look out rabbit hole, here I come.

So, I did do some research, but not a whole lot. I sort of stopped myself when I ran into some information that was pretty disturbing to me about SEO article writing. First off, in case you didn't know, SEO is an acronym for Search Engine Optimization. What it means basically is preparing your website to be the most richly matched in content with search engine queries made by users surfing the world wide web.

How is this done? Well, for example, a site would use meta tags in their html documents, like so:

I chose that one because it is quite long for a reason (I took out some keywords because it was soooo long). The site itself is a website for an aquarium in New England and I found it quite easily by just using Google to search for "aquarium". It was the first one to come up in my list of results. Of course, I don't live in New England, nowhere close even. So maybe I should redo my search to include Florida? There, much better results!

But look at the long list of keywords in that meta tag! I did another search using Google and combined the words "webcam", "tickets" and "England", all keywords in the above meta tag. Not at all expecting to get an aquarium hit right? But, I did.

Maybe I heard that somewhere someone was selling webcam tickets to entertaining footage of the Royal Family Dinner Party with Barack Obama! New England Aquarium came up 5th on my list of results. Several results and pages away from the forefront was a link entitled "London web cams links". Jeez, do you think that might have more to do with what I was expecting to find as a result?

So we have moved away from keywords now, not so important... Now the people who want traffic have to work just a little harder for it. Thus, the need for SEO article writing. What they do here is instead of just slapping some keywords in a meta tag, they use the keywords in a written article that gets published in an article directory and with a link back to their site.

I've read so many how tos and to dos about this that made me cringe, simply because I love to write myself, but I love to write about things that are comprehensive and I don't write just for the sake of writing something. I have to be really focused on what it is I want to accommplish with my written words. That means quality content to somebody, I hope!

I did read on this one site that you "just string the words together to where they make sense". This really, really bothers me. It's like instructing a three year old to "just put the yellow square block into the yellow square hole, dear...see not so hard huh?"

Then what really kills me is that they will rewrite the same article, same keywords, but with slight changes to make it a different article...over and over again. Then they re-publish these articles. This is laziness - pure, evil laziness!!

Stop, people!! Stop treating the web like a checkout lane by filling it with these publications that are comparable to trash magazines and their headlines that have little to nothing to do with the real content. Integrity pays, not gimmicks. Well, aside from the "as seen on TV" products I keep buying for my husband each Christmas. I love those things, but I don't think he does.

Getting back to SEO article writing (there ARE ethical techniques in SEO article writing, but that's not what I'm writing about). What disturbed me the most is that these people that are involved in article writing and "rewriting" in order to gain traffic for their websites seem to forget about integrity and pride in their products or content of their sites. Nevermind that a large percentage of their customers probably won't go back because they were "tricked" into visiting to begin with and have found very poorly written, even painful to read content.

I hope that people who practice this type of unethical approach to marketing would find better ways to get word out to their potential customers, but quality costs. You can pay as little as $1.25 per hour for article writing/rewriting. Some ads seeking writers will even list that you "don't have to have real good English" or "noobs welcome". Scary, isn't it?

So, when their credibility becomes famously negative, they won't have to worry about getting traffic hits anymore, they will be blacklisted I think is the term. Thank goodness there are smarter people in place that anticipate these unethical techniques, so kudos for policing the trash!

14 April 2010

Privacy on the Internet

I received a phone call yesterday from register.com and I realized then that I had updated my contact information on my account. I did this because I had used my mother's name and listed her business address and an old phone number.

For a few years now, register.com would not have been able to reach me, mainly because my mother is deceased and her business was sold and the building leveled. But now that I updated my phone number, why not, right? After all, I did just add another domain and removed the private listing cost and email account cost that was so eloquently folded into the total cost in my shopping cart. tsk, tsk.

On to this privacy matter.

I've managed to keep the number of stalkers that are coming after me for any number of reasons to a bare minimum, let's say um, 0. So the register.com representative explains to me that this information about me is published for anyone to lookup in the whois database.


Well, duh...if you have a presence on the internet, isn't it likely that you WANT people to find you? Or if they find you on the internet and are excited about your product and want to give you money for it (Lord forbid)...do you then want to hide any means of contact they may obtain in order to reach you and make further inquiries about your product?

If this information is so readily available, why is it that every website on the internet has to have "contact us" and "about us" pages filled with information such as address, phone number and email? Oh look! Now they have maps showing people how to find you! Scary, isn't it?

And what about your picture? On the internet?! What?!

My feeling on all this is that whatever you're exposed to when you walk out of your house and into the public eye, it's no different on the internet. You don't go to the grocery store with a bag over your face, do you? So why would you be on the internet without a picture, doofus? Unless, of course, you have something to hide. In which case I wouldn't want to have anything to do with you anyway, since you're that shady. :)

09 April 2010

Learning New Things

So why do I write about all of these things that I'm currently undertaking as new learning experiences? Because I'm one of those people who gain a comprehensive understanding in areas of study when I write about them. It's not enough to just read the how tos on the internet and just start coding, messing up, fixing, and recoding, etc. The real lightbulb comes on when I decide to write about some new thing that I have to learn in order to do my job properly.

I think the reason this works for me is that I'm not afraid to also write about the shameful things I encounter through my screw ups. Nobody likes to mess things up, certainly not me. But I also find that I have more freedom to admit the things that I do mess up because I am very forgiving of myself. I have to be or I would never agree to be in this profession.

Although, I have found that once I write something down and make an announcement about it, I'm 100% committed and at that point I know that if I am not successful, then these written words will be a reflection of my failure. This is a motivating factor in getting my ass in gear to learn all this new stuff.  It's taxing on the brain (at least it is on MY brain) and I imagine not something a lot of people want to get stuck doing. Maybe it's because they don't have that strategy in place that will glare back and challenge them. It's called committment. College was successful for me because of this very thing.

My husband calls me a professional student.  :)

08 April 2010

Writing Site

Well, I put my writing site up yesterday.  I'm going to eventually send it to my sister so that she can check it out. Mainly I want her to check out the design of the site since she took up web development before I did. I'm the newbie here!  lol

I'm getting used to it now and used to deployment/publishing, but I think I'm going to invest in a domain at some point. I'm not sure which to go with but will do the research. It's so tedious trying to fill the content.  I think I enjoyed the designing of the site a lot more.  Hope I don't peter out with the content and leave things half developed like that.

I really do have a lot of content to put out there, but some of it I'm not so sure I want just anyone looking at. Time to create some form of login maybe to my private folder or something? Who knows...

We are definitely NOT there yet.  :)

30 March 2010

Hurry Up and Wait

This up and down, back and forth type of nonsense really bugs me. If we weren't all running in different directions, each of us taking lead when it's our turn to round up the cattle, so much could get done. Why do we have so many leaders that don't know how to grab hold of the reins and hold on until something is finished?

Why am I ranting about this? Because it is painfully obvious to me that this sort of time management/accountability and finger pointing fiasco happens everywhere. At work, at home, during your favorite sports outings, you name it and it happens there as well.

My husband goes, "Okay, off the computer dear...we're all waiting on you!"  Good!  Because that's what I wanted you to do.  Get ready, then let me know and we're out the door, just like that, right?


I go to the door with my purse, ready to walk out.  Someone asks, "Where are the car keys?"  Then another, "Where's that list you created this morning? I know you gave it to me, but do you remember where I put it? Did you see my reading glasses on the bar and put them away somewhere?"

My daughter then asks, "Dad, can we stop by the mall on the way home and get me a new pair of flip flops?"

My husband says, "Didn't we just get you a pair?"

You get the picture?

I sigh and go to my office, plop my purse down on the floor and log into the computer to play a quick game of solitaire while they continue on with their discussion.  I am interrupted 2 minutes later via a head poked through the entryway, "I thought I said we were waiting on you?"

29 March 2010

Website Development

I'm currently building the content for my writing website. It's not really just a writing website, but more or less a portfolio of my works, whether written prose, photographs or even the websites that I design. I know I'm probably going to want to shoot myself later because I'll probably discover later on that I SHOULD have separated out all of these things categorically to have a more narrowed focus.  However, that would leave me with very little content and a whole lot of design effort.

I wish there were an easier way to learn website design while promoting your own stuff. I just know that if I didn't have a site to work on, I probably wouldn't learn quite as fast. I think it's because I have that goal of wanting to see the finished product and it feels so much like artwork to me.  :)

Call me a newbie, because in essence, that is exactly what I am when it comes to web design. Heck, I just discovered today how confusing the previous and next buttons can be using CSS. Screw it for now, I'll use simple text and link to the pages.  There'll be room to fit that in later, same with the contact form. I think the ole mailto should work just fine for now.

25 March 2010

Learning CSS

I never really cared much about website design or html until I was involved in making some changes (cosmetic in nature) to this one site.  It was sooo tedious for me (the newbie) going from page to page to page in an attempt to make this small change consistent and uniform across the entire site!  I'll ask you this because I asked myself this very thing at that time...who in their right mind would want this job? Right!

So anyway, I started out getting involved in some website maintenance in between major "coding" projects, and it wasn't really exciting to me. I was like, "Oh wow, okay so I typed in these words in between some tags and when I open the file in my browser it is decorated and formatted."  Okay, so now I'm just trying to be funny and failing completely. You have to understand the boredom here. I'm basically a coder and so not so amazed at how something looks as much as I am about my code functioning flawlessly and as expected.

Now I've been introduced to the uses of CSS and I have to say that while trying to figure out how this stuff works I was very troubled and frustrated that I just couldn't make sense out of it all.  There were so many properties and so many intricate details in getting specific behaviors for your look and feel. I even went so far as to download several free CSS layouts and comb through them, making small changes, loading the pages and then reviewing the changes (sometimes very grand changes).  Some changes were so subtle though that I wouldn't pick up on them right away.

So now I'm here. I've completed my first website, though very basic, and I really do have a greater appreciation for web design. So long as you have great content for your site, serious web design is a consideration you should pursue. Now my OCD has kicked in and I want to do another website, and another...and then maybe another.  :)

We're not there yet, but it's moving along quite nicely!

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