Notification: Migrating My Fiction

If you were directed to this site via one of my self-published works (there are some few copies still floating around with the link), the focus of this site has since changed.

Here I still write about writing, and include story prompts and the occasional book review (disclaimer, Amazon and Smashwords affiliate links included where relevant), along with assorted random topics. I am slowly trying to shift the focus towards those reviews and away from the random topics.
The sister site, Pioneers of the Shattered Waters, now bears the focus of my own stories, up to and including Nation Novel Writing Month competition data.

More details on this change can be found on the relevant page, “Migrating Certain Posts

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Unconventional Dialogue Tags

Like any industry out there, the world of writing has several rules–and several “rules” as well–that we’re expected to follow if we want our intended audience to know what we’re doing.

I won’t go over these rules as any kind of professional but as an amateur, as someone who is still trying to learn them well enough to use them…. and to know when it’s appropriate to break them. As such, this post is meant to be taken as my personal opinion on those rules.

One such “rule” is the subject of dialogue tags: he said, she said, and the many ways to avoid using the word “said” all the time.

One of those “rules” is that the word “said” is an invisible word… that replacing it with something else purely for the sake of variety can actually be more distracting than simply using “he said, she said.”
Well, I have to say that isn’t entirely true. No, I do not think you should pepper your writing with other tags purely for variety, but relying on “said” all the time can be distracting, as well.

There are plenty of ways to get around this. Some of these methods are good, some…. not so much. Try them out for yourself and see what works for you.

One solution is to use action tags in place of dialogue tags.

Rip nodded. “Mr. Snart….” (etc.)

or

“You got no arguments there.” Sara approached another display case and caressed the recurve bow resting within. “But I think I’ll borrow this one.”

At their most basic, dialogue tags are intended to identify the speaker; if the speaker is performing a certain action within the same paragraph in which they speak, you have that requirement covered without any dialogue tag at all.

But please, make sure you have the speaker performing an action in the same paragraph, not someone else entirely. Do not make person A perform an action and person B say something in one paragraph and then switch to another paragraph to give person B’s action.
Do not, for instance, do this:

“Mr. Snart….” (etc) Leonard reached out for the rifle.

or the reverse. In that example it’s obvious that Len is not the one speaking (assuming he hasn’t started talking about himself in the third person 😉 ) but that doesn’t excuse this particular issue. Seriously, people, quit it!

Another option is to use dialogue tags other than “said.” Whispered, shouted, muttered, asked, replied and so on…. these are all perfectly normal tags that you can use, but they should still be used sparingly and only if they accurately represent how the person is talking.

And then there is the debate over words that are commonly used as dialogue tags but many an “expert” will claim are not dialogue tags at all!

“You got something to say,” Mick snarled, “then say it.”

or

“I would never risk losing something so valuable,” Leonard breathed.

And plenty of others I can’t be bothered to list.

The rationale behind eliminating these as dialogue tags is that they are, supposedly, actions the speaker performs in addition to speaking, not substitutes for “said” at all. (Also because it’s supposedly it is impossible to perform these actions while talking and I have to say that’s not true at all.)

Personally, I’ll agree to disagree. Grammatically that rule may well be correct; these tags are not synonyms for “said” and should never be used as common substitutes. But they are actions that affect how the dialogue sounds. Unlike admiring that recurve bow, these actions influence the speaker’s tone of voice.
In the above examples, Mick isn’t snarling and speaking as two separate actions… the fact that he snarled while talking completely changes how the comment sounds. And Len’s show of reverence for the value of the item he’s being offered requires a different tone of voice than, say, whispering the same statement, or being out of breath, or his usual drawl, or making the statement as if it was the most obvious thing in the world and why is he even wasting his breath explaining something that Rip should already know about him.

What do you think, my readers? What tags do you tend to use? Which do you prefer to avoid? And what are your personal likes and dislikes when you see another author’s tags of choice?

Characters in the examples are copyright to DC, CW, etc; dialogue examples are modified from one of my own Legends of Tomorrow fanfics-in-progress, “What If” from the (not completed at the time of this posting) Necropolis chapter.

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Photo Challenge Plans

Seen via slideshows on my YouTube channel in the following playlist:

(Disclaimer and ulterior motive: due to changes in YouTube’s policy, none of my channels are currently monetized. I would like them to be, if only to have access to partner-only tools such as the ability to link to external sites from within the video. YouTube’s new policy requires that I have at least 1000 total subscribers and 4000 annual watch hours to use those tools. But even before I reach those tools, there is the first milestone of 100 subscribers, required to give myself a custom URL. Care to assist?)

My plans for the random photo slideshow are going to go through some…. revisions.

Originally, I took occasional photos throughout the month and selected perhaps half a dozen of the ones I liked best to create a slideshow to represent my progress for that month (or my “progress,” such that it may be).
The new plan is this: the photos chosen will likely be just as random as in the current photo challenges, but the slideshows should be quite a bit longer. Should be being part of the goal, here; the new plan is to take at least one photo every day and include one–one!–photo from each day into that entire month’s slideshow. That “one per day” requirement of course means that if I take half a dozen great photos one day and a couple of really sucky photos another, that slideshow has to include one of those sucky photos. It also means I need to step up my game and actually get out and practice taking photos.

Hopefully this won’t result in a ton of near-identical photos, though since I’ll likely prioritize those taken along my walks over, say, random things I saw while at work or running errands, I can’t make any promises.

When do I plan to implement this change? Depends on how long it takes me to get through my current backlog–you’ll note the very last slideshow I uploaded before my computer had issues was April 2017 and I just haven’t gotten around to sorting through my photos since then. I hope to finish with the current incarnation of the challenge by the end of this year, but I also don’t want to spam my subscribers with long-overdue uploads and 2019 ain’t quite as far off as it looks.
We shall see.

Fellow photo-hobbyists: how do you prefer to, er, “encourage” yourself to practice? What methods do you find work for you?

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Author Newsletters: An Experiment

Also known as: Social Media Under the Influence

Last night about, oh…. shy of midnight, I decided, in a moment of cold-pill-induced lunacy, to finally make an attempt at creating my own email newsletter.

I’m thinking of calling it “Three R’s — Reading, Writing, Riding”.

The newsletter will showcase these three things:

  • suggested reads (which may or may not include whichever book I happen to be reading at the time and will hopefully focus on self-published works),
  • my own writing and/or publishing progress,
  • and a photo from a trip I’ve been on (many of which, though not all, would be by motorcycle).

Along with whatever random blurb I feel like giving that is hopefully unique to that particular newsletter instead of merely copying content on a regular basis.
Weirdly, but not coincidentally, this would also allow me to provide a link to each of my three blogs per newsletter to point to more content of a similar type. That is to say, a link to this site (because of book reviews), a link to Pioneers of the Shattered Waters (because of my own stories), and a link to Tamie’s Travels (because of the motorcycle and other trips).

Given my lack of experience writing newsletters of any kind, I located assorted websites that I think are good resources on the subject. I am particularly interested in the advice given on the I Need Coffee blog.
I still need to find information on doing a “first” newsletter, and a “thank you for subscribing” newsletter, as compared to the irregularly scheduled newsletters down the road. But I feel like my first newsletter ought to be about the workshop I’m going to this May…. writing and traveling all in one, yes?

Thoughts? Suggestions?
My account is set up to allow it now from my end, I just need to actually get started and set things up for subscribers.

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The Trouble With Kindle Scout Times 2

Kindle Scout is now closed to new submissions

There, that’s the problem right there. I’m sure many of us have received the notification by now…. Kindle Scout is coming to an end.

I received the email about it April 2 some time in the afternoon…. a few hours earlier and I might’ve thought it was a poorly-timed April Fool’s prank, and one in poor taste at that. But in truth, there is no time zone that the email could’ve been sent from to justify the timing of the email. Nowhere on this planet could it have been sent on April Fool’s and receive an April 2 afternoon datestamp anywhere in the Western Hemisphere. And as it is now April 3…. well, even if it was an April Fool’s prank, that time is now over and it would be long overdue to edit the page.

I still hold out hope that this is a poorly done prank, but if it is real–and I must assume it is real until changes to the site confirm otherwise–then I will admit there is one small personal benefit, at least to me as a reader…..
I have a major backlog of Kindle Scout samples that I still need to sort through and nominate. I used to be better at that; I used to have only a few days here and there where I forgot to log in in time to nominate whichever saved books were due to expire. But somehow, over the last month or two, I ended up…. not reading the samples. Not saving things to my list of books to nominate. Oh, I bookmarked them in the browser, so I still know which samples I’m interested in reading. And every time I decide I like a sample and add it to my saved list, I remove it from the browser’s bookmarks to easily keep track of which one’s I’ve read. But time got away from me, and somehow I soon went from a day’s worth of samples to read, to a couple of days, to a week, and finally a full month’s worth of samples.
Therefore, if Kindle Scout is truly ending soon–if they are truly no longer accepting submissions as of today–then the benefit to me as a reader is simply this: While I still have my backlog to go through, there will be nothing more to add to that backlog.
(Apr 6 Update: Well, eventually. “No longer accepting submissions” doesn’t mean they don’t have submissions they’re still processing, as evidenced by the fact that, three days later, I’m still seeing samples that were posted today. End Update)
Maybe once I’m done with these samples, I’ll have a little more time to tackle my other backlogs, like books in need of reviewing.

But that is a benefit that exists only for the reader. For the authors, all I can say is…. good luck. I wish you the best in this and any other campaigns you use to find readers for your work.

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Migrating Certain Posts

I have discovered something.

This website has a lot of variety of content, and Pioneers of the Shattered Waters, the site focusing on my own writing (my own not-blogging-writing, that is) has very little content of any kind.

Well, actually, I’ve known that for some time now. No, I’ve recently come to a decision about this problem. And that decision is thus:
I am mass-exporting posts from this site to that one. Specifically, I am exporting the posts in which I track my NaNoWriMo progress. Due to the way WordPress handles such things, this actually means this entire site will be exported over and I will have to go through and remove anything after the fact that I don’t want copied… as well as removing those posts from this site as I go.
Yay for using multiple web browsers on a single computer, because I think that’s the only way I’m going to accomplish that without going mad.

What will be a problem, unfortunately, is links…. exporting the content en masse also means retaining the links exactly as they are provided in the original content, and some of those links, naturally, will no longer be valid.

If only WordPress.com had a link checker for the purpose…. the one offered by W3C is no good, because that picks up absolutely everything, and I don’t have the pay-for account necessary to install any plugins.

Anyhow, once the export/import is done and the NaNo posts are removed from this, the main site, there should still be a lot of content here….
But that content will be relegated to media and product reviews, the occasional embedded video (disclaimer: need more subscribers and watch time on YouTube!), and of course affiliate links to relevant product pages on Amazon.
And, naturally, assorted “the trouble with” posts and random content will find its way here as well.

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Captain Cold Cosplay–Product Review

Or maybe I just needed a new winter coat. 😉

Anyway, this here is the (hang on, checking my order history) Swiss Tech Women’s Parka Jacket With Faux Fur-Trim Hood.

I originally found it, or one very much like it, on clearance at my place of employment. And because it was on clearance, naturally finding my size was…. difficult.
Continue reading

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The Trouble with YouTube’s Algorithms

Otherwise known as, a human would know better. Or, artificial intelligence is not that intelligent.

In which I step up my plans to begin embedding (relevant) videos within my website in an effort to fight against the numbers game….

To make a long story short, yes I would like to monetize my channel, which now requires 1000 subscribers total and 4000 hours watch time annually. (Not “or” as I’d previously thought when I’d received the email. And.)
But more than that, I want access to the tools that are exclusive to partners… namely the ability to link to an external site from within the video itself. In this day of YouTube apps and embedded videos–not to mention character limits–putting the link in the description just isn’t enough any more, and wouldn’t it make sense to, say, include a link to one of my book reviews on a relevant BookTubing video?
My immediate goal, however, is simply to get a custom web address…. which still requires 100 subscribers.

Incidentally, I have the same goal for my travel/motorcycle channel, “Tamie’s Travels” should anyone care to take a look.


Continue reading

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Video Game Wishlist

Just a random list of games and gaming accessories I’d like to have… most (if not all) of which are on the list precisely because they don’t exist.

Lego Dimensions for the Nintendo Switch

Yes, I’ve read the articles saying LD is done with and there won’t be any more packs. That doesn’t make this any less of a “I want this”…. in fact, it qualifies it as having the top spot on this list.

Mostly I want a Switch version is because I have neither the money nor the space to have a ton of consoles. Now that I have a Switch (bought in part due to the ability to set an actual time limit in parental controls), I would like to get rid of my Wii, but as I am not the “brand new console, brand new library of games” type of player, that requires that the games I’d really like to keep receive Switch ports.

Or alternatively….

Lego Dimensions for Steam/PC

Legends of Tomorrow/Flash/etc team (or level!) packs for Lego Dimensions

Specifically I need a playable Captain Cold. Or Citizen Cold will do, I suppose. Though the ability to play many different characters from the team would be very nice.

Dinotopia pack for Lego Dimensions

😀 Mistaken identity, anyone? Jack Harkness of the Doctor Who pack might not have been a playable character, but Ollie still gets a “he looks familiar” dig in if you pair up the Arrow character piece with the Doctor. But what if the relevant characters were to meet in-game?

And while we’re at it….

Prison Break pack for Lego Dimensions

Same reason…. although a level pack would definitely be of interest here.

Wii Fit/Fit U/Sports Resort or some variation for the Nintendo Switch

There’s my “I don’t want tons of consoles” argument again.

But it has to maintain all of the activities from all of the previous versions of the games–or as many as the hardware allows. There’s no reason the Joy-Cons can’t serve in place of the Wii Remote and Nunchuk, and a smartphone app could serve in place of the Fit Meter if a Switch-specific tracker wasn’t developed. The Balance Board would probably be the hardest to duplicate.

I’ve also read articles claiming that fitness games are a “shrinking market” and that fitness games for the console are no longer popular because there are so many apps available for smart phones.

But there are a few problems with those arguments:

  1. If a “shrinking market” is the reason for not having fitness games on consoles, then why are there so many smartphone apps in the first place? A shrinking market should be affecting the profit potential for those, too.
  2. A smartphone app requires the gamer to actually have a smartphone.
  3. And if “I can get it on a smartphone” is a reason to not make certain games available on consoles, then why the hell does anybody bother making consoles?
  4. There are a few things a console version of a fitness game can do that a smartphone can’t do:
    1. A smartphone comes in all variety of sizes typically bought for use as a phone–and more to the point, for use with all the other features that set it apart from a basic phone. This means the phone I have, while being comfortable enough to hold for a brief phone call, is much too big and bulky to use as anything but a step counter that I shove into my pocket for fitness purposes. No dance moves, no tracking to make sure if you’re stepping to the left or swinging your arm to the right, none of it. Just. Counting. Steps.
    2. A smartphone does not, typically, have the wrist strap to prevent you from accidentally dropping or throwing it, should you decide to play those games that do require swinging your phone around (Just Dance Now comes to mind).
    3. Unless you’re buying a budget model (which might not even have the hardware to support the games you want), a smartphone is WAAAAAY more expensive to replace than a dedicated and much-more-comfortable-to-hold controller. Come to think of it, even many of the budget models tend to run higher than a set of Switch Joy-Cons.

Okami for the Switch

Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, Wind Waker, and Skyward Sword for the Switch

Gold Zelda-themed Joy-Cons and Switch racing wheel

A “Just Dance”-esque game that allows you to purchase and download individual tracks.

None of this “buy this edition if you want these songs” nonsense; I want a version that’s just like buying mp3s on Amazon, mmkay?

More to the point, I want to be able to create a playlist of songs to dance to that doesn’t require swapping discs/cartridges/apps whenever I want to change to a song that maybe doesn’t exist on the version I’ve already got loaded. I’d like the ability to swap out genres on the fly, too.

And since there is still the fixation with the smartphone apps….

A “Just Dance”-esque game that uses my wearables rather than my phone to track my movement.

Heck, I’d even buy a set that’s made specifically for that game if I can wear it on both wrists and ankles! Better that than getting a score based on the movement of one single hand.

And finally, back on the Switch:

To make the Parental Controls time limit profile-specific.

I mean, I could disable the time limit when I want to play on my system, instead of trying to share time with my nephew (or rather, instead of adding to the limit if I didn’t disable it for me)… but why should I need to?

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Quit Shaking the Box!

*sigh*

November’s barely started, and Christmas shopping this year is already off to a lousy start.

See, some of my shopping is done online, for a variety of reasons. Case in point, an eBay purchase of some very hard-to-find, older-than-me, and very breakable objects.

They were mint when they arrived–I spent a long time finding ones that were before making the purchase–but….
A certain snoop decided the best way to find out what was inside the box was to shake it.

And they are mint no longer.
Three out of four of the pieces have very obvious chips in them, despite the packing job.
(Seriously, they stood up to traveling several states in the mail but they’re damaged because some asshole deliberately shakes the box? Unreal.)

Never mind that the box in question is in my room.
Never mind that I was in my room at the time and he could’ve just asked me.
Never mind that Christmas is coming and it’s none of his damn business what I just bought.
Nope, he shook the box as a joke. Apparently breaking the stuff I paid for is “funny.”

Ironically, I bought one of the items–they came as a set–precisely to replace one that I’d accidentally broken earlier. Thus the necessity of finding mint condition.
Unfortunately that is one of the ones that was chipped during the shaking…..

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