My drug of choice is writing--writing, art, reading, inspiration, books, creativity, process, craft, blogging, grammar, linguistics, and did I mention writing?

Thursday, July 30, 2015

E-reader or Tablet? 6 Considerations (Claire Youmans)

1.  Start with an app.  I have the Kindle app on my phone, my iPad and Big Mamma Mac. iBooks comes installed on Apple devices.  I also have the Kobo and Nook apps, and Acrobat Reader, but generally use none of them.  I just don’t like reading on reflective computer screens.  These apps are generally free.  Get them all.  Pick up a couple of those free books and start reading.  That's the best way to find out which one works best for you.  Books you pay for are usually made available for EVERY platform, including .pdf.   B & N, Kobo, Apple Store, Amazon — no worries.  Smart publishers make their books accessible to readers.    
2.  What's the battery life?  Dedicated e-readers use a lot less juice than a tablet.  An iPad won't last over a 24 hour travel day unless you can charge it somewhere.  Staying hooked to the internet uses more power than being in “airplane mode.”  A backlit screen uses more juice than one that isn't (you can turn that feature off) but a backlit screen is incredibly useful for traveling, camping or reading in bed.
3.  Tablet or e-reader?  I prefer reading on a dedicated e-reader because I like the non-reflective screen.  Other people don't notice a difference between the e-reader and an app.  You'll have to try it and see.  When something strikes me that I want to look up, I grab my iPad, as my (couple of years old) Kindle doesn’t have a great browser.  However, my daughter's Kindle Fire keeps the Kindle screen pretty well, and has enough internet capability to handle everything she needs from a tablet as well as a reader.  Going with a tablet gives a child immediate access to immense quantities of information.  "Look it up" takes on a whole new meaning.  You'll be surprised at what they find, and how much fun they have doing it.  Check the capabilities of each device.  Most e-readers now have some kind of browser, though they may not be up to streaming movies or watching TV.  

4.  Personally, I would not buy a “kids’ version” of a tablet.  If they can figure it out, let them have at it.  You want them to learn, right?  I might possibly use some parental controls, but I doubt it.  My parents didn’t believe in censorship, and I enjoyed many happy hours searching their basement stacks when I was a kid.  If it was too old for me, it bored me, and that’s been borne out by my experience with other kids.  I don't censor either.  I turned out pretty well.  I would buy durable.  You want them to use these devices!
5.  What format does your local library support?  It probably does them all, but check.  This is your portal for free access to the world, so use it. 
6.  Think hard about durability.  I can’t say this often enough.  I have broken an iPad, I am ashamed to say.  I haven't broken a Kindle yet, and I am rough on them.  Ask around.  You want a device that shrugs off popsicle drips and living in a backpack that gets dumped in a snow bank.
Clearly, I am a Kindle devotee, since I started with Kindle when they first came out in pre-tablet days.  I also love my Apple products, though Windows and Android aren’t really all that different in use.  I don’t know what you have or what you like.  Look at everything.  Talk to everybody you know.  Try things out.  Then make the selection that will work best for you.
The bonus is that starting a child on either an e-reader or full-blown tablet gives that child access to the world.  That child will, without even trying, learn how to “look things up.”  That child will, without even trying, become a life-long learner, a self-educating adult.  What greater gift could you give your child?
The Toki-Girl and the Sparrow-Boy and The Toki-Girl and the Sparrow-Boy Book Two, Chasing Dreams are both available on line at Amazon in both hard and Kindle format, and available at Smashwords in ALL e-formats.  They’ll be available at all retail outlets very soon.  Five-star reviews are already coming in!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Best World Building (Last Call)

This is a screencap, not the poll itself.
The actual poll is down and to the left.
What is the best fiction world building?

Less than three days remain in our Best World Building Poll, and it's still anyone's game--especially for second place onward. So rock the vote that rocks the vote.

Middle Earth is only ahead by nine votes, and I've seen leads like that disappear in minutes before. However, our polls for "Blogust" are going to have to go up immediately come August, so the results of this poll will be up on Saturday.

So take a moment to scroll down to the long black poll on the lower left and give the world of your choice some love.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The Nut Shot (Social Justice Metaphors)

Dear fellow cis dudes: 

You know how we spend a lot of time saying that women just can't comprehend how bad a really solid nut shot feels.

Duces (cis dudes) talk about how the pain is just blinding, and incapacitating (it makes you throw up and sweat uncontrollably, and probably is completely incapacitating)  and no one seems to get it until they've gone through it.

Of course other cis dudes get it. They nod and say "GOD YES!!" and there's this whole brotherhood of "You GET it!" that surrounds the nut shot.

If women try to say that something else hurts a lot (from childbirth to menstrual cramps) dudes jump in and say, "Yeah, but you barely have to TOUCH our junk for it to hurt." If they liken it to nailing a funny bone we say "No it's so much worse."

We don't even let them compare it to stepping on a Lego.

We basically inform them they can't really wrap their heads around quite how painful a full force nut shot is UNTIL/UNLESS THEY EXPERIENCE IT.

Try to remember that the next time you're dictating to a woman that street harassment is no big deal....or that sexism in the workplace shouldn't bother them that much....or that the double standard of society about her clothes isn't that big a deal......or........



Monday, July 27, 2015

Small Schedule Change, Big Big Deal (Mailbox)

Why is a small schedule impact such a big deal to a writer?  

[Remember, keep sending in your questions to chris.brecheen@gmail.com with the subject line "W.A.W. Mailbox" and I will answer each Friday.  I will use your first name ONLY unless you tell me explicitly that you'd like me to use your full name or you would prefer to remain anonymous.  My comment policy also may mean one of your comments ends up in the mailbox. And of course you can ask me why I'm such a slacker.]  

M asks: 

Glad you're done with your summer school thing, but I'm confused why it was such a thing. How does a three-day-a-week gig throw such a wrench into the system. Understand I'm asking this not to challenge you, but rather because I've noticed this shit too. I'm doing pretty good about daily writing, someone asks me if I can take on a very small freelance commission for no more than a couple of hours a day, and my writing falls to pieces. Why is it that we add these LITTLE things to our lives[,] like a few days a week and a few hours a day, and suddenly our writing collapses? Shouldn't we still have lots of time left over?

My reply: 

Because there's a meltdown in the sky, M, and writers are living on the edge. (What? That song is 22 years old? Hey....I promised you pop culture references. I didn't say from when. Now sit back down, you whippersnappers! If you're going to be on my lawn, you never EVER say "that joke is older than me.")

I can't generalize all writers, everywhere, for all time, but I can tell you a few things that tend to be true about basically all the writers I've ever met and most of the ones I've read about. We walk an edge. We push our lives into this state of extremely delicate balance. And even though we talk about it like it makes us a special kind of awesome, it's not really always a good thing.

Now, I'm not talking about writers who don't really write. They have about as much time as average folk and can waste it or pick up new commitments accordingly. Some people are very busy, and some waste a lot of time. I'm talking about the writers who write every day (including a lot of household names) whether that daily writing is a stolen half hour with a pencil and a legal pad or a ten hour session that ends with a deep vein thrombosis throwing off a clot into your heart.  (Sorry. I watch a lot of House M.D. reruns when I'm cleaning).  Most of us are pressed right up against our limits, like a woman in a shower scene on Cinemax after dark, so that we can squeeze as much writing in as possible.

Whether you are someone who fills your life with obligations–a nine to five job, family, friends, hobbies–or whether you are a misanthrope working just enough to pay the bills you have to pay, you are probably writing juuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuust about as much as you can handle. Could be two hours. Could be ten. But the chances are your life is a balancing act. You are spinning as many plates and doing it as efficiently as possible in order to get back to your writing as much as you can.

You know what happens when you tell someone spinning as many plates as possible to stick one more stick with a spinning plate on it....in their mouth? So sometimes it's better to put down one plate to pick up the other. Since most of us probably aren't spinning a lot of non-urgent plates, the only thing we have to sacrifice is our writing. We might be able to keep a little something going on, but our major efforts are likely stymied. (I wrote every day during the last six weeks, but some days it was little more than my private morning journaling.) I just couldn't keep that plate spinning and trying likely would have been the hull breach that led to total structure integrity failure and caused a warp core breach in my will to live.

Look at this another way. Let's say my life is pretty busy (and most people's are). Let's say I work about forty hours a week, have five or ten hours a week of things I can't get out of, and write about thirty hours a week. That means my typical week is thirty hours more than many other people's lives. Eighty hours a week is also a LOT. I'm roughly as busy as someone with two full time jobs. Almost half of that might be a labor of love, but you can't just keep piling things on forever. (Insert a reDONKulous amount of research here about the point at which human beings actually lose productivity and efficiency.) So if you add a 20 hour gig on top of your regular work and your writing, you probably have to give something up. Most of us can't just do 100 hours a week.

First of all, most writers (at least those who love it enough to write every day) have pared down our lives to just about the point where there isn't a lot of unimportant stuff. It's either vital stuff we can't possibly bare to get rid of (work, family, very important relationships), or it's writing. Only one of those things isn't going to explode, implode, fire you, or leave all your shit in the front yard if you start ignoring it.

Secondly, the way overdoing it works isn't like paper math. Creatives generally have to be even more careful about overdoing it than other people. It's not just an equation that you can keep adding to as long as you haven't reached 168 hours a week. There are intangibles in play. The first thing that exhaustion effects is our self-motivation. And also pretty high up on that list is creativity. (Sound like things artists might need?) There's this whole survival mode vs. creative mode dynamic that all people have (and no, Minecraft didn't make this up but it's really cool that an open ended creative game is exploring that dynamic through metaphor), and when we are burning non-creative engines on overload, there's usually a lot of impact to our interest and ability to create. Things like a good night's sleep, imaginative play, and of course reading turn out to be just as vital as the writing time itself.

So be careful M. Protecting your writing time doesn't always mean JUST the time you are physically doing the act of writing.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Sunday Shorts Returning

Thank you everyone for being patient with me while I took Sundays off during my stint with maddening summer school.

We will return to our daily schedule tomorrow, starting with a short Mailbox and ramping up into the full fury of "Blogust" over the next week. Next Sunday we will restart our "Sunday Shorts" mailbox.

You've all been wonderfully patient.