Wednesday, January 30, 2013


One of the reasons I'm on Blogger rather than Wordpress is that I love the back end. It's high-contrast and the writing area for posts is big and there are fewer buttons.

I like simple. I like clean. For this blog, I don't need the advanced design and media that come with Wordpress, because all I'm doing is blogging. Wordpress is where I work, Blogger is where I play.

I didn't leave everything completely default, though. I have pages - all there visible at the top - because I do things and you can give me money for them. In my sidebar I have a short bio and a pic because it tells you who you are reading, and a list of links to find me on those other sites that I regularly use, and a place to subscribe by email or publicly recommend my blog. I have my archives, neatly in drop-downs, so that you can navigate. I have a cloud of tags, to give you another way to navigate and also because it amuses me greatly that the tag 'Seneca Crane's beard' has more than one post attached to it.

I have a blogroll of other sites to check out, because some of my friends and family also have internet presences and that's neat. I also have the World Community Grid square there, because that's a neat project that more people should be involved in.

Most of the blog is black and white, because that's easy to read, and I like easy to read and simple. The background is yellow because I wanted some colour, and yellow is cheerful. I also picked yellow because I looked up some stuff on colour-blindness and it looks reasonably similar no matter what kind of colour-blindness one has. That was a thought, because my dad is colour-blind and I'm ridiculously sentimental.

Sometimes design is about more than just branding, or other factors, like wanting it no-fuss, will inform branding and design decisions. For me, it was important that these decisions be made deliberately, because I didn't want to put something together only to change it later when I thought of something better.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013


As part of the great diaspora of talent on the internet, a lot of things, such as writing, that can be learned about through degree programmes or books on the subject, can also now be learned about through short instructional written bits, called tutorials.

For a lot of people, me included, it's nice to be able to look up a specific piece of information and be told about the process. That's how I re-taught myself to knit, too: I went to and watched videos of how to cast on and then watched knitting videos, and then, when I was working on other projects, looked up specific increases and decreases.

But my thoughts on knitting are not what you're here for.

Actually, I'm not sure what you're here for, as apparently most of you are Russian Linux users and therefore probably cooler than me.

Writing tutorials are interesting. I posted one a couple weeks ago - more of an insulting crash course in the addressing comma, but it does count as a tutorial. I normally don't do those. I normally don't do anything approximating tutorials, because I am not comfortable speaking from a position of authority about writing in general. I am willing to go on for several minutes [link goes to audio file] about things that don't work for me at all as a writer or reader, but I tend not to spend a lot of time on the things that work for me. This is because different things work for different people, and there is no one true way to write.

For example, Horatio Alger and Stieg Larsson were both bestselling authors. I adore Larsson's prose, but reading Alger makes me want to stab myself in the face. These preferences mean that I do not have an absolute authority on what makes popular writing, and popular writing is often what people are aiming for in their endeavors. Therefore any tutorials by me would not address a full spectrum of possible right ways. I feel, then, that any tutorials I could write would be less than ideal, and, as a perfectionist, I therefore refrain from writing them (swearing about addressing commas is different: it is possible to be objectively wrong).

Other people have different approaches, and some people write fantastic writing tutorials because they can get over being obsessively perfectionist and just write down the things they know that work. What sparked this post, though, was a tutorial on writing fanfiction that has received a great deal of positive feedback. Holy shit, people, use your critical thinking skills when assessing whether something is good advice or not. Just because someone can put together The Ultimate Handbook or whatever does not automatically mean they have any idea what they're talking about.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Project Update #2

The project I mentioned last time has been sidelined for the moment - there are still things with tone and voice and world that I have to hammer out. If I'm not deeply invested in her story, why would anyone else be?

In the meantime, I've been working on EMTstuck, another Homestuck fanfiction. I have the main story, which progresses slowly, and I've been trying to write a blurb a day. Some days I don't manage it, while some days are really productive, so I've been queuing posts so that one comes out per day. It's a great, low-stress way to get words out: the world is already pretty fleshed out, as are the characters. There's no urgent plot, and all the readers are already familiar with everything. I get to write to get words out, and practice writing tight voice.

I finished a novella, which should be out soon. I started the sequel to it, which is going to address the concept of family secrets. But as the first one took three years, I think the second one probably will, too, and I'm not going to force it. Setting it up the way I did, the first one has the best emotional impact of anything I've written. I'll talk more about that next week, though - I might even have other good news relating to it.

I've also been working on a short story, set in the fourteenth century, which is going to be about 8000 words when done.

This is one of the reasons EMTstuck is important - it gets me writing even when I'm not absorbed in something, so that my skills don't atrophy completely while I'm knitting this dress.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Commas, dialog, and swearing

I read a lot of free romance novels.

A lot.

We're not going to go into numbers here, because I have no idea: I delete most of them as soon as I finish, if not before. There's a reason for that!

There's a lot I'm willing to forgive in free books: medical implausibility, silly premise (I actually go out of my way for pretending-to-be-married and arranged marriage stories), slavish adherence to archetype. One thing that drives me absolutely batty, though, is absence of the addressing comma and other failures at punctuating dialog.

Thus, I present an educational short story:

"Motherfucker, where is my cheese?" asked John. John is calling for Steve's attention by addressing him. Because calling for his attention is not integral to the rest of the sentence, it gets a comma after it. 'Asked' is not capitalized because it is part of the dialog tag: it is adding context to the way the words are being said.

Steve shrugged. "Why should I know? Have you checked the fridge, asswipe?" Steve shrugging is a separate sentence before he speaks: shrugging is not a way of communicating words in spoken language, so it is not a dialog tag, just an action that occurs in the same paragraph. If I wanted only one sentence, it would begin 'Steve shrugged, saying, "Why. . .."' Asswipe is not capitalized, because it is an epithet and not a proper name.

It is not motherfucking hard, motherfuckers. There is a comma before motherfuckers because this whole post can be taken as an apostrophe to people who keep messing it up, and I like calling people names.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

First of the year

My new year this year was sadly lacking in both bagpipes and Auld Lang Syne, but I got to spend it with a couple of my favourite people, just hanging out and being silly.

This year, I am living in Wisconsin, trying to get reciprocity for my BC EMR license.

This year, I am working entirely online, trying to keep myself to regular work hours and focus, with mixed success.

This year, I have a completed novella waiting for a cover before it's published, and a lot of confidence.

I've also gotten a lot more comfortable with my fannishness, because fanfiction is fun and relaxing and allows a focus on a specific thing or interaction or theme, which can be communicated more clearly because readers are already familiar with canon.

I've knit more things, too, including my first pair of socks. Up for this year: a sweater-dress.