Sunday, October 18, 2015

Heeere's Johnny! With an Outline

Life in General...

My wife spent last night at the hospital with her mother. The doctor released her today with barely more than, "It wasn't a heart attack, but we don't know what it was." She seems to be doing well, as her shopping trip this afternoon indicated.

Most of the day, I tried to educate myself about website traffic, and I washed a few dishes. Google Analytics proved to be a really useful tool.  (For websites. I'm not sure what it does for dishes. Let's all Google it, shall we?)

Google Analytics is not completely accurate, but it more closely targets the number I am looking for than does Blogger stats. Blogger does not differentiate between real people and bots. G.A. does. How? Cookies. Bots lack them; people don't, usually. Some people disable cookies, so that's why the count is only close. 

Now, we add another layer. In the old days, websites measured traffic with "hits." The problem was sites garnered a hit for not only a page, but also whenever someone clicked a picture or banner or link. One page could have 20 hits when the user viewed it maybe only once.  Page views replaced hits.

Today, the reliability of PVs are starting to fall in with hits, because if a visitor revisits a page, the PV counter goes up. Maybe that person engaged, maybe they just really liked pressing the F5 key.

What are PVs good for, then? Reporting the most popular pages on a website. That way, the site owner can target those pages for placing links he or she wants people to follow.

What is more accurate than PVs? Sessions. Well, not more accurate, but they give a different type of data, more useful in judging overall traffic. Sessions measure the time from app open to app close. They show that a person visited your site and how long they stayed engaged. Obviously, that provides another dimension in understanding how well a website is doing.

The Writing and Current Projects...

No word count progress on the manuscripts, but I did brainstorm and outline. I consider myself a pantser but only to a certain point. I can vomit words onto a page all day, if I want. But it is usually a waste of time, just something mechanical. It reminds me of the conversation between Wendy and Jack Torrance in The Shining:

Any ideas yet?

Lots of ideas. No good ones.

Sometimes a writer simply needs to see the path ahead, at least a vague impression. Outlining to excess (of which I am prone) traps a writer in a loop of never being ready to write. Points on a map, though, help immensely. When I write toward something, the writing is usually better, even if I am writing as fast as I can.

Word counts for Sunday, Oct 16, 2015...

0 = Fiction
507 = Blog

Monthly totals for October 2015...

4,509 = Fiction
5,632 = Blog


11,485 = Af (Alaskan fantasy)
3,679 = Mhn (Missouri horror novel)

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Somebody Broke Thursday and Friday

Life in General...

One day you win the lottery; the next, colon cancer!
      - Harlan Ellison 

I don't want this to become the woe-is-me blog. I suffer from depression, anxiety, and lifelong ouchies, and so it would be easy to forget there are people out there far worse off than I am.

I also don't want to produce the here's-your-daily-dose-of-sugar blog. Life just ain't like that. (When I was in junior high school, I asked my eye doctor to tint the lenses of my glasses rose colored. I thought the irony was hilarious.)

What works best for me is what psychologists call "radical acceptance" and my wife calls "Suck it the hell up and get over it."

Anyway, this is a long, preamble way of saying:  I didn't blog for the last couple of days, because they sucked. They sucked in that mother-in-law-in-hospital, somebody-stole-your-bank-account sort of way. One of those days that you mean to pour a glass of cola and a few minutes later realize you have just neatly placed a couple of ice cubes on a saucer and don't remember doing it. You know? They happen to all of us. I just assumed you didn't want to hear that kind of blogging therapy.

New diet?

 Should writers let bad days stop them from writing? As a general rule, no. Give them the chance and bad days start outnumbering the good. Then again, taking an occasional day off to prevent burnout often sets up better days on the other side of the break.

Don't make it a habit--unless you enjoy stacks of unfinished stories--but every once in a while, put an Out of Order sign on your office door.

The Writing and Current Projects...

None. Same reason as above. I found some time to brainstorm the main character of the Af novel, using a technique that John D. Brown and Larry Correia talk about in their Life, the Universe, and Everything lecture (LTUE). For anyone who struggles with ideas, it is really a great series of videos.  Here's a link to Brown's website where he writes about the techniques in detail and provides links to his videos:

By the way, no charts for the manuscript totals, since they did not change from last time.

Word counts for Sunday, Oct 16, 2015...

0 = Fiction
417 = Blog

Monthly totals for October 2015...

4,509 = Fiction
5,125 = Blog


11,485 = Af (Alaskan fantasy)

3,679 = Mhn (Missouri horror novel)

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Verbal Kombat

Life in General...

I played a video game today. It's something I haven't done in about 20 years. 

Oh, on a rare occasion and usually no more than for a couple of days, I played those Facebook games, and for about a week, I needed a frequent fix of 2048. Since I decided that I wanted to be a writer when I grow up, I have been afraid to play them. I thought they were these little time-suck viruses that made you forget to write today or maybe for October. I love to write, but let's face it, zapping aliens can often be more fun than conjugating a verb.

Why did I play today?  My son. 

A few weeks ago, he and I got to talking about different games. He wanted to know the ones I played as a kid. I was mostly an Atari, Nintendo, and arcade player. As I ticked off the list of the '80s and early '90s most famous games, I said, "Oh, and I used to play Mortal Kombat a little."

He is good about remembering details. Today, he went to the video rental store and rented, you guessed it, Mortal Kombat for his Xbox.

"I'll play it with you," I said, smiling.

He answered, "I was hoping you'd say that."

My smile got bigger.

"We are both going to be noobs at this," he said. "Do you know what that means?"

"Yes," I said, shaking my head.

Then he proceeded to kick my video game butt.

The Writing and Current Projects...

The video games most certainly did not detract from my writing today . . .   Because I wrote 2000 words!  Woo-hoo for me. I am going to do a little narcissistic happy dance now, because I have the self-esteem of a slug getting a "Love Me" tattoo.

I wrote that all in one sitting.  I just kept hearing Brandon Sanderson say in my head, "Momentum is everything," and I didn't stop.

This might sound contrary to what I just said, but I don't think it necessarily has to.

I realize that for a writer--not a dilettante--writing should trump leisure activities like TV and books (and video games). I can take a break throughout the day, but I must observe portion control. The blogs are now easier and faster to write, when I used to think they detracted from writing fiction. I've loosened the quality versus quantity sphincter. Understanding (as opposed to simply "knowing") has begun to set in that I can go back and fix it later. Furthermore, I've finally realized that the revision process is a light touch, like the final brush strokes near the end of a painting. Otherwise, the writing flies past beautiful prose and dives into the pretentious. In the heat of obsessing over each word, I can't tell the difference in exciting and overwritten.

Word counts for Sunday, Oct 14, 2015...

2,001 = Fiction (not counting the 543 I cut and rewrote)
524 = Blog

Monthly totals for October 2015...

4,509 = Fiction
4,708 = Blog


11,485 = Af (Alaskan fantasy)

3,679 = Mhn (Missouri horror novel)

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

My Me Hurts

Life in General...

I always feel awkward when a doctor says, "Hi, Sam. How you doing today?"

The polite response is "Fine. How are you?" but if I were fine, why would I be here? 

Every doctor's visit, I start off with a lie. Bad karma like that builds up. I'm telling you.

Did I mention that I had a doctor's appointment today? Surprise. It was for the ongoing ruptured thing in my back that sounds a little like Battleship calls.


"Hit. You sank my lumbar section."

I need some more tests before the doctor can decide on which course of action to take.

Most of the visit resulted in good news. My blood pressure was so good that the doctor decided to take me off the medicine for a while. No arguments here. I enjoy taking pills just about as much as I enjoy eating live porcupines.

The pain in my ankle is probably not serious. Tendonitis most likely.

For my back, hips, and knees she refilled my prescriptions and gave me a shot of Toradol. The nurse and designated hypodermic wielder was awesome. I had no idea when the needle entered my skin. I will spare you the details of where I got the shot.

Oh, and I lost 35 pounds.  That was purely an accident.

The Writing and Current Projects...

Not much progress tonight. I almost did not bother, but the pros and cons vexed me. If I did not write anything, I might find it easier to make excuses tomorrow. Then again, taking a break every once in a while might just prevent burnout.

I decided to risk it. It's not much, but I wrote until I started falling asleep at the keyboard.

It also helps if you start before 11:00 PM. I'll try to remember that tomorrow.

Word counts for Sunday, Oct 13, 2015...

222 = Fiction
341 = Blog

Monthly totals for October 2015...

2,508 = Fiction
4,184 = Blog


9,484 = Af (Alaskan fantasy)

3,679 = Mhn (Missouri horror novel)