Friday, March 03, 2006

Friday 20

A couple of Fridays back I promised to hunt around and see if I could find some alternative voice recognition software programs. I've found one that seems pretty interesting, IVOS, for a very afforable $10.00.

Also from this site I came across another program that converts speech to text and also converts recorded MP3, WAV and WMA speech recordings to text, aptly named Wave to Text, for $39.00.

Both programs are cheaper than the Dragon, but if you're interested in buying them do thoroughly check out the details and system requirements before you do.

A few concerned e-mails have come in about the Dilemma post. To clarify a few things:

1. I haven't stopped giving quotes to other writers. I'm just burned out on it at the moment and I need a break for a while.

2. I've never accepted free books from anyone for PBW; with the exception of my own author copies I really do purchase all the books that I give away here. I can show you the receipts if you want.

3. I may occasionally kid around about stuff like the eBay forgery/photoshop thing, but I would never do something like that to another writer.

3a. I will fantasize about it on occasion, though.

4. If professional courtesy were easy, everyone would have it.

I still need to update the blog for March and fix some links, but I'm in the final stretch of a first draft and racing toward the finish line. Expect better blog housekeeping shortly. How goes the writing with you guys? Any questions for me this week?

37 comments:

  1. The writing (editing) goes poorly. I've turned into a weekend-only editor again. I think blogging is a good thing, because 'tis better to be writing every day than not, but it would be better to chip away at the manuscript, no?

    On the subject of tea, I recommend Tazo -- Passion and Wild Sweet Orange, especially.

    My question: before you became fulltime PBW, way way back when you worked full time and wrote, how did you find the motivation to chip away at the manuscript when you came home dead tired? Or were you one of those set-the-alarm-for-5AM people? Thanks.

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  2. beejay1:45 AM

    I'm stalled but about to force myself to get moving again. Gena Showalter issued a March challenge on her blog, and I'm in. I need that pressure sometimes, when life's being particularly horrendous.

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  3. Reading blogs instead of writing, of course.... Licking my wounds from an ugly encounter, mostly.

    Here's your question: do the people who read your blog NOT have a sense of humor? They actually sent you mail asking about some of these issues from Dilemma??

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  4. Anonymous2:37 AM

    It's always a challenge to keep myself working, (writing,) but reading your blog is a great booster. Something about your voice, your sense of humor, just eases things for me.

    Thanks!
    Kathleen

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  5. Maura I wondered the same thing. *G*

    The post sounded to me like frustration and humor, pure and simple and I didn't take any of it serious. I snickered through the entire post

    As to writing... uh... well, this week? It's NOT going. Being being sick and helping out a couple of friends, I've maybe written a few thousand words this week. I'm not saying yes to any more favors for a while. It's their fault I'm sick anyway.

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  6. I gave up full time work two weeks ago to work from home. Mainly to write software, but also to write my novels.
    Between 10am and 3pm weekdays the house is quiet, but do you think I can motivate myself to write? Who knew there were so many important jobs to do - tidying the office, cleaning the garage, fixing the swimming pool, taking bookmarks to all bookstores within a 50km radius...
    My only defence is that my second Hal Spacejock novel comes out this week across Australia and NZ, and I'm so excited about it that it's hard to get down to work on book three. There are several other writerly things in the wings, including a prestigious NY agent who contacted me to sell my books to US publishers - my publisher here sent him a box of Hal 1 and Hal 2 books but there's no news yet. I've also got a feature coming up with a major weekend newspaper, an SF convention this weekend, a kids' lit festival in April...
    Okay, I'll admit it. I'm getting caught up in the FUN part of being a writer, but pretty soon I'm going to have to knuckle down to the HARD part. But give me another week of the fun first, okay?

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  7. I'm moving house this weekend but writing was going badly before this. Miss Snark had some advice this week where she said avoid on line writers' forums and read lots of poetry. I think she's right. I wrote more and with more pleasure when I my reading was challenging and lyrical. So I need to break bad habits.

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  8. The writing has been going all right for the past couple of days. I don't want to talk about it too much though until I get to the one-week mark. I've also discovered that it's okay if I give up my writers forums and online groups. I get more done that way. (And less aggravation.)

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  9. Doug wrote: ...before you became fulltime PBW, way way back when you worked full time and wrote, how did you find the motivation to chip away at the manuscript when you came home dead tired?

    Usually I was so relieved to get away from the day job and write that motivation wasn't a problem. Compared to some of the jobs I've had, writing was utter bliss; a daily mini-vacation.

    Time organization helps. When I was younger I stopped socializing, watching TV and gave up most of my other spare-time pleasures in order to write. I also took my WIP to work with me and wrote on my breaks and lunch hour. I had one boss who was kind enough to let me use the office computer for my writing, so I'd stay an hour late and write after the rest of the office staff had gone home.

    Or were you one of those set-the-alarm-for-5AM people?

    I am now. :)

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  10. Beejay wrote: I'm stalled but about to force myself to get moving again. Gena Showalter issued a March challenge on her blog, and I'm in. I need that pressure sometimes, when life's being particularly horrendous.

    Good for you -- writing challenges can be great jumpstarters.

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  11. I'm up to my eyeballs in proposals - some days swimming, some days drowning - and I'd like to know how you manage to do multiple proposals all at once. What's your method to create the pretty little package several times over in different shaps and colors all at the same time?

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  12. Maura wrote: do the people who read your blog NOT have a sense of humor? They actually sent you mail asking about some of these issues from Dilemma??

    Apparently I came across as serious to some folks. You'd also be stunned at how few people in publishing have a working sense of humor; I know I was. Especially those who write in Certain Genres That Shall Remain Nameless.

    In their defense, no one ever said you had to have a sense of humor to be a writer. It just helps. A lot.

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  13. Kathleen wrote: Something about your voice, your sense of humor, just eases things for me.

    See, there are good reasons to resist the Dark Side of the Force. :) Thanks, Kathleen.

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  14. Beejay, I'm a glutton for punishment too, but Gena has a way of lighting a fire under my rump.

    I'm trying to finish a first draft by the end of March.

    Nice to meet you PBW. I love your blog.

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  15. Shiloh Walker wrote: As to writing... uh... well, this week? It's NOT going. Being being sick and helping out a couple of friends, I've maybe written a few thousand words this week. I'm not saying yes to any more favors for a while. It's their fault I'm sick anyway.

    A few thousand words is always better than no words. :) I do hope you feel better soon.

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  16. I forgot to ask the question ;-) When deadlines loom and you get frazzled, do members of your family hint that you should take on something less demanding and stressful ... like designing and installing nuclear power plants for the Middle East?

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  17. Simon wrote: I gave up full time work two weeks ago to work from home. Mainly to write software, but also to write my novels.

    We have to pelt you with virtual confetti now, Simon. Congratulations. :)

    Okay, I'll admit it. I'm getting caught up in the FUN part of being a writer, but pretty soon I'm going to have to knuckle down to the HARD part. But give me another week of the fun first, okay?

    Okay, but if you're not hard at work in a week, we'll send some of Stephanie Tyler's characters over there to storm your office.

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  18. Keziah Hill wrote: I wrote more and with more pleasure when I my reading was challenging and lyrical. So I need to break bad habits.

    I totally agree (and good luck with your move.) Another thing that's helped me is to meditate for thirty minutes every morning. I go out onto the porch and commune with the trees and the garden. It centers me and sweeps out most of the mental cobwebs.

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  19. Vernieda wrote: I've also discovered that it's okay if I give up my writers forums and online groups. I get more done that way. (And less aggravation.)

    Another excellent idea. I've tried to stop going to a few online places I once visited regularly that have become daily/weekly annoyance generators (although sometimes I'm still drawn back, as if I'm looking to pick a fight with myself.)

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  20. Tambo wrote: I'm up to my eyeballs in proposals - some days swimming, some days drowning - and I'd like to know how you manage to do multiple proposals all at once. What's your method to create the pretty little package several times over in different shaps and colors all at the same time?

    I first work out the story in my head so that I'm not trying to do that as I'm writing the proposal. I know this is tough for you organic writers, but I can't pitch a story I don't know.

    I also only write multiple synopses simultaneously if I'm pitching a series, and then I do a plot threads/character map to figure out what gets introduced in each book, what carries through to next book, and what gets resolved when.

    If I have to pitch three books all in different genres, I do them one at a time, as in I work on one until it's ready to submit before moving on to start writing the next. Occasionally I'll pick up the last proposal I wrote in that genre to reconnect with the style and voice I used that last time.

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  21. Heather Dawn Harper wrote: Nice to meet you PBW. I love your blog.

    Thank you, and welcome. :)

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  22. Simon wrote: I forgot to ask the question ;-)

    Too busy having fun, lol.

    When deadlines loom and you get frazzled, do members of your family hint that you should take on something less demanding and stressful ... like designing and installing nuclear power plants for the Middle East?

    Family perceptions are often skewed by the fact that they love you, and they want you to be happy and successful. It's hard for anyone to do that in our industry, and even they can see that.

    My family has asked me to quit several times over the course of my career, but not because I'm frazzled or deadline pressure. I'm always under a deadline or three, and not a lot really frazzles me. It's simply that publishing has not done a lot to endear itself to my loved ones.

    When the subject does come up, as it did recently, I listen to my family and do what I can to alleviate their concerns. From their perspective, being a pro writer in today's publishing industry often looks a lot like you're working minus protective gear in a public sewer facility for ten cents an hour.

    As for how to cope, I often remind my family what a wonderful job this gig can be (and then try very hard not to let them see me shoveling my way through the shit that comes along with it.)

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  23. Writing has stalled completely this week. 0 words. *sniff*. ;-) I am part way thru line-edits on my manuscript (on paper), then I have to input all those changes. I'm frankly scared what it'll do to my wordcount when I snip out all that extraneous junk!

    Meanwhile, somone called my writing hard SF, and that gave me a good chuckle. On a good day, it might qualify as space opera. There's no real science in it. Ships, laser guns, and cocky pilots galore. The closest I get to hard SF is occasionally messing w/ the atmosphere/gravity so they have an excuse for space helmets. :-P

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  24. My writing has gone fabulously over this last week for a variety of reasons.

    But one thing I noticed, when I started my newest project last week, is that I started using my AlphaSmart Neo and closing down the laptop. It was my cheap version of having 2 computers a la Way of the Cheetah. It really helped my productivity. I'm writing, on average, almost twice as fast as I normally do, because I don't have the Internet just window away to peruse. Over the last week, I've written 26k words--over a quarter of the estimated novel length.

    It should have been obvious, but thank you for sharing your methods with us!

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  25. Since I began reading your blog in the fall I have managed to complete my novel and am currently in the process of looking for an agent. Thanks for all the wonderful links and daily inspiration. My question is how long did you continue revising and sending out your first novel before moving on to begin novel #2?

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  26. PBW said: Being a pro writer in today's publishing industry often looks a lot like you're working minus protective gear in a public sewer facility for ten cents an hour.

    Crikey! This is one of the reasons I haven't submitted any of my writing for publication in the last 20 years. For me it translates into an overwhelming fear of exposure (not that there's anything to expose, mind you.) Now that I'm teetering on the edge of the Big 4-0, I've decided I'm too old to give a monkey's any more. I don't want to look back at the end of my life and regret not having gone for it.

    On to my question(s). I'm looking at my first edits now and would like your advice on etiquette in dealing with your editor especially if you don't completely agree with some of the comments. I'd also like to know what bothers you most about editor's comments: a) when they make criticisms of your plot/content, including deleting scenes, or b) when they edit your style, which may include grammar (such as starting sentences with "and", "but", etc.)

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  27. I finished a rough draft a couple days ago and I'm starting on another novel now. Thanks for the advice you gave earlier about how you wrote plots. I actually used your technique to write out questions about my prog. :) Boy is she in for a world of hurt.

    No question but great to see everyone else is chugging along, even at slow paces.

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  28. Anonymous7:03 PM

    Cassandra: Elizabeth Bear had some excellent advice on what happens during editing and production. Her statement on how to deal with edits was "Pick the hills you're going to die on. Be assured your editor is doing the same. Hope they're not the same hills. Bear in your mind the awareness that both of you want the same thing: the best book possible."

    -Jennifer

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  29. I think Windows XP comes with built-in speech-to-text, so that's a possibility for some people. (I have it on my machine, but I'm not sure if it came with Windows or Office--I think Windows)

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  30. Sandra wrote: Writing has stalled completely this week. 0 words. *sniff*. ;-) I am part way thru line-edits on my manuscript (on paper), then I have to input all those changes.

    Doing the same here in the evenings (and discovering some sort of passive voice gremlin that puked all over one of my chapters has slowed me to a near-crawl.)

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  31. Shadawyn wrote: But one thing I noticed, when I started my newest project last week, is that I started using my AlphaSmart Neo and closing down the laptop. It was my cheap version of having 2 computers a la Way of the Cheetah. It really helped my productivity.

    That is a terrific idea. I've just starting using my PDA to work on the porch now that the weather is nicer. I get some sunshine, keep up with my quota and the puppy has a chance to run around the yard. :)

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  32. Erin wrote: My question is how long did you continue revising and sending out your first novel before moving on to begin novel #2?

    First, congratulations on finishing your novel, and good luck with the agent search.

    To answer your question, I started my second novel about three weeks after I sent my manuscript to the editor who requested a look at it. I would have started sooner, but I had to go to Girl Scouts camp. I stopped submitting the novel about two years later, when I judged by the number of rejections it had received (45) that I'd likely never sell it. I never actually rewrote the first novel because of course it was perfect and people simply didn't recognize how brilliant a writer I was. I was also thirteen years old and a complete ninny, but there you go. :)

    These days I'm a big believer in moving on rather than continuously revising old work. The more books you write, the better a writer you become. Exception: if an editor sends you suggestions, and asks you to submit a revised manuscript (and you're okay with the suggestions), absolutely rewrite until it's ready to resubmit. You don't want to blow off an interested editor.

    Because so many first-time novelists have told me of getting stuck in a sort of endless rewriting loop with that first novel, particularly in response to rejections (one guy I know would rewrite it after every rejection) I also suggest setting some limits, i.e. rewrite the book no more than three times, or spend no more than six months working on a rewrite (and do adjust the limits to suit your needs and your writing time.)

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  33. Cassandra Kane: I'm looking at my first edits now and would like your advice on etiquette in dealing with your editor especially if you don't completely agree with some of the comments.

    Let me start off with a warning: advice on how to handle writer-editor relationships is something that everyone should be extremely leery about handing out, especially in the work department.

    Also, a disclaimer: I outgrew my 13 year old mentality, so I don't believe every word I write is perfect and to be chiseled in stone. I don't think all editors are idiots, either. I like working with editors to improve my books, and I respect their opinions because I think they're collectively very good at their jobs, or they wouldn't be getting a paycheck for it.

    Anyway, when you question an editor's comments, I think you should always be polite and state your end of it versus attacking their opinion. Saying to the editor "You're wrong about deleting chapter one; it has to stay in the novel" puts him or her on the defensive and makes you sound like a snotty prima donna. Saying "I'm concerned about deleting chapter one because the plot thread for the discovery of the king's twin brother is introduced there, and the novel timeline doesn't allow it to be moved forward. Is it all right if I keep the chapter as is?" expresses your reasons for disagreeing and invites them to be part of the process.

    I also believe in a philosophy of fighting for the big issue versus questioning little things that the editor asks for. I'd rather fight to keep one major plot thread an editor wants to dump rather than quibble over minor changes the editor wants to make to fifteen others. Again, that's just me.

    I'd also like to know what bothers you most about editor's comments: a) when they make criticisms of your plot/content, including deleting scenes, or b) when they edit your style, which may include grammar (such as starting sentences with "and", "but", etc.)

    I'm very easy when it comes to accepting editor suggestions, but I'm been very lucky to have worked with some great editors. I don't mind making any changes, whatever they are, as long as they don't wreck the book. Most of my editors have made me a better writer. The only thing that has ever bothered me in the past was having to put up with a lot of baiting and unnecessary insults from a couple of editors with some personal/ego problems. In both cases I was in a position where I felt I had to shut up and take it, and so I did.

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  34. Pixel Faerie wrote: Thanks for the advice you gave earlier about how you wrote plots. I actually used your technique to write out questions about my prog. :) Boy is she in for a world of hurt.

    I'm glad it helped. :) After reading your comment, I immediately envisioned an alternate dimension where the world is populated by writers and their protagonists. The latter were all standing outside my house with pitchforks and torches....

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  35. Jean wrote: I think Windows XP comes with built-in speech-to-text, so that's a possibility for some people. (I have it on my machine, but I'm not sure if it came with Windows or Office--I think Windows)

    I have both XP and Office on my work computer, Jean, so I'll look and see later tonight. Thanks for the heads-up.

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  36. After reading your comment, I immediately envisioned an alternate dimension where the world is populated by writers and their protagonists. The latter were all standing outside my house with pitchforks and torches....


    Mine are sitting in my lving room ....

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  37. My new XP computer came with voice recognition already installed. It actually works much better than the version of dragon I tried years ago. I don't know about newer versions of dragon.

    Here's more info if yours isn't installed:

    http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/using/setup/expert/moskowitz_02september23.mspx

    I hope this helps.

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