Thursday, April 17, 2014

Technology Advancements? Part 1- The Gadgets

Let me grab my pizza from the microwave and turn on my iPod. There that's better.

So a rather shocking incident inspired this post. You see, at a funeral this year, the minister took out her iPad. Not her Bible. It was in a pretty green case, too.

Now, I get that the iPad is easier to hold, handle and had all her prayers, notes and scriptures handy. Convenient, yet... why did this make me uncomfortable? I love technology and feel we should maximise it, yet a part of me felt a line was crossed. Maybe it's my love of books, but a Bible is a symbol and I needed that comfort in that moment. The iPad, threw me off.

Now technology advanced rather quickly in my lifetime. I do remember getting our first computer at school. The thing was stupid. It only did what I commanded it to, and that C-PROMT screen was using a language that didn't make sense. And why was there an apple on it? No one knew. I used a word processor to type up my first articles, and the idiot lost all my work in a power surge, and no other machine can read those disks so I spent a month retyping the few stories and the one novel I wanted to save which I'd had on a hard copy, and back then there were no programs to help with this.

Now I have a notebook, hybrid, a tablet, a phone that thinks it's smart, a PC, a printer that scans, copies (although I hardly print anything anymore), and faxes-- I'm not bragging, these are just the tools I need for some unknown reason. I don't use CDs or disks, and my kids think records are decorations. My kids are versatile on all PCs and MACs, they use cell phones and this conversation horrified them;
"Hey Mom, how old were you when you got your first cell phone?"
"Ah, that was last year."
"Why didn't your mom buy you one, were you bad?"
"No, they didn't exist."
"That's horrible, how did you text each other?"
I won't tell you the rest, but know it traumatized them to know I had to pick up a phone that was tied to the wall and sit and talk. How did I play video games with my friends, or compare homework?

I became a writer after the days of THE TYPEWRITER. I can't imagine typing up my stories on a typewriter. No. Not with the amount of typos I make. I can type as fast as I think. Not all the words are spelt properly all the time, and yes, form and from happen at awkward moments. But! Using technology, I can easily fix these. WORD SEARCH. FIND AND REPLACE. My new computer gives me a list off the side, so I can see every time I used a word at a glance. What a time savior. Oops, I mean saver. Easy to fix.

I feel good about myself when I know I can write yet save trees. Millions of them. Because I don't have to print that first draft until I'm ready for a hard copy. In fact, last five books I sent to my Kindle, no need for the hard copy. And I recently learnt I can authorgraph digital books!! WOW!

Formatting is much easier thanks to technology. I set up margins, word spacing, line spacing, so everything is automatic. There are programs to help with grammar, punctuation, and spelling. If nothing else, they get my brain thinking in a new way. Of course, I don't rely on them, but they help sometimes.

Speaking of help, there are some incredible dictionaries online, aren't there? Give you the word origin and everything. Wow. I'm in heaven.

Photos are at my fingertips, (yes accessible by that phone who thinks it's smart). My albums are not crowding my cupboards anymore, they are all digital. And! I can't lose any because they are backed up. That's right, paranoid people like me came up with a solution. Yay!

So many changes so quickly. Are you finding these leaps and bounds in technology a hard adjustment? Is it ruining your life or improving it?

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Those Critical Weird Notes

So I have a bone to pick with... myself.

You see I left myself this note on June 2nd last year in my agenda that read in my bilingual jargon:

paint fence pour lignes 

Note to self: Make notes clearer, dumbass. 

Just like that. Now translated into one language it reads: Paint fence for lines. (well, that's how I translated it,  if I would have translated it properly it would have made more sense to me because sometimes the right word summons the missing link.)

Now why for the love of all things written would I leave myself that note on that day? It was clearly something I wrote in January when I got my new agenda. I am on a few committees and I work for the community, so this note could be for a number of things, yet not many have fences. I went down the list searching for the missing link; Work (no fence, don't need one), Home (dog pen is new and not in need of paint), Play park (tennis court needs fence repairs and new paint- I went to look in case my missing link was lingering there waiting for me, it also needed more work than I alone can do so I made a note to start looking for grants), Parish (cemetery fence was nicely painted, church has no fence), Hall (no fence), Library (no fence) ??? hmmm.  I felt like I was missing something and even as I type this I can't believe how stupid I am.

Note to self: If it feels like you're forgetting something, chances are you just can't see it through the simple. 
 Of course at that moment I was clueless and the more I thought about it, the more confused I was getting. Where was my missing link? I called Superman and asked if he had any ideas what fence needed paint or lines? Hoped that by talking it out my missing link would slam into me. Nothing.

Since it was a bilingual note maybe it was a French missing link? So I asked around in French, talking to everyone I met about painting and lines... Nothing.

I walked around my yard, my house, my work... looking for that link.

Note to self: short people don't just walk into a missing link. They have to summon them. 

That night I added it to my list at home and turned it into this: Have kids paint the dog pen this summer when they say they are bored. I felt good about that note. Was clear. But it didn't put me at ease. I HAD to paint lines somewhere.

Note to self: Giving other people work, isn't the same as doing your own.

The day passed and no one called in a panic and no one asked why the fence lines weren't painted (okay that doesn't make any sense, why would anyone paint a fence line!). And then another day passed. I moved the note to July 1st, in case it made more sense in July.

Note to self: Don't move notes, find out why they are there, you twit.

I dismissed it as something that must have hit me in the moment and really didn't need doing.

Note to self: If you left yourself a note, it needs doing, moron.

Then we had a tornado run through town and throw things into a mess. The cemetery took quite a beating
and the trees were uprooted and the headstones displaced and I was looking at the mess with a heavy sigh wondering how much work this was going to be when I noticed a metal bar sticking up in the middle of the new section. Had the tornado stabbed it into the ground? Wow, that was crazy. I pulled it free. Where did the metal rod used for surveying fly fro-- Oh crap. Suddenly the paint fence for lines made sense. This rod was my missing link. OH NO!

I was supposed to meet a guy at the cemetery in June to survey the new area. I was to bring paint and mark the fence so the new plots were in a row (or des lignes in French). 

Note to self: use one language to write notes, idiot.

I remembered the conversation now, back in January... at the annual meeting. The guy said if I wasn't there the day he came, he'd leave markers. I didn't like the idea of rods all over the cemetery so I offered to mark the fence until the new plots served as guidelines.   

So I asked the maintenance guy-- who was there with me stressing about the condition of our beautiful cemetery--  where the other markers were so I could mark the new rows on the fence. I could do it now, right? He didn't know what they were and had removed them so he could cut the grass. Of course he had. I had just done the same.

I had no one to blame but myself.

Ever leave yourself a note but had no idea why? How do you summon those missing links?

Monday, March 31, 2014

Insider Lingo

So I spent the last few weeks busy playing dance mom. Imagine me with a blank face asking: What is a sock bun? I have to make what in her hair? With a what? Sock in hand, long hair, I tried to do the impossible. Um... Pinterest? Please help me. Turns out it wasn't so hard, thank you Pinterest.

Until then, I had never even heard of a sock bun. Last year I mastered the "high bangs" and "smoky eye", which were just as big a mystery to me. I feel like a pro now. Well, until next year when I have to try something I've never heard of again.
I recently attended a meeting in a health facility and tossed around the term patient as if I was an insider. Didn't everyone in the health business use the word patient? I got sideways glances. When listening to the others speak in this group, I saw my faux pas. They used the term clients not patients. Oh my. I wasn't using the right word.

Audience, customers, patients, members, clients, patrons, recipients, readers, consumers, buyers, shoppers... each profession has a different term, how to know who uses what?

And the different lingo doesn't end there. Even different parts of our country have different lingo. We wear bunny hugs, whereas others wear pullovers and last week I was in a neighbouring province and saw a sign for a popover. I pulled it from the rack. Looked like a fancy-dancy bunny hug to me.

When we're writing we want our characters to be firmly planted in their worlds so our readers get involved and forget they're reading. Doc needs to talk to his patients, but the caregiver should visit her clients. Small difference that makes the characters more believable.

So! This is why they say to write what you know. How can I fix this? I can't know everything. But!! I do know others. Asking a lawyer to read a client-lawyer meeting scene and point out the things they would never say or do really opened my eyes. And when all else fails, I turn to Internet Communities. Help is just a click a way, sometimes.

They say it takes a community to raise a family, but I guess, it takes a few communities to write a book, and make a sock bun, and look professional at a meeting... 
Any insider lingo that had you stumped? How do you get around it?

This cool book I read has some neat examples of insider lingo

Monday, March 10, 2014

Ghosts on the Prairies' Home

Me signing one of my contracts. It's been a busy year.
Bootleggers, slavery, fools in sheets, spirits, shifty tunnel runners, even exploding churches!

I am so excited to announce that I found the perfect home for Ghosts on the Prairies at Elsewhen Press. (Happy dance it out with me, my friends!! Whoohoo.)

It will be published this year in digital and print editions.

Here is a link to the Press Release announcing the good news. I am excited to work with them on this Sacred Land Story and if you check out their site you'll see why. Ghosts on the Prairies will be right at home among some pretty cool books... well, until you take it home with you to hang with your awesome books, that is!!

In the Press Release, Al Murray, Managing Publisher of Elsewhen Press says “Using a light touch, Tanya’s story draws on spiritual beliefs and mystical traditions and deals with the dark, lingering shadow of slavery; with racism, sexual abuse and religious intolerance; with the corrosive effects of all-consuming greed; with exploitation; and with the clash of cultures, concerning the nature of ownership.”

About Elsewhen Press
Elsewhen Press is an independent publisher of Speculative Fiction. Based in the UK, in the South East of England, Elsewhen Press publishes titles in English in digital and print editions, adopting a digital-first policy for most titles and a digital-only policy for some. Elsewhen Press is an imprint of Alnpete Limited.