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Merry Christmas!

The blog is on holiday today. I hope you all had a great Christmas (or at least a long weekend).

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This is a test

Hello, Facebook. I hope.

I’m trying yet another method of sending blog posts to Facebook. Let’s see if it works.

I’ve been playing with If this, then that. It’s a nifty service that does what its name says–you set up the this’s and that’s.

For example, If a new post appears on my blog’s rss feed, Then tweet a link to it. Or If a new blog post appears, Then post a link on Facebook…

It will connect to a bunch of different services, and will even send you email or text messages. For the most part it does a bunch of things that I don’t need.

But. One useful thing I’m doing with this is to turn my Instapaper account into an automatically updating sf magazine. I’ve put a few rss feeds from online magazines into IFFT, and told it to send them to Instapaper. Now I can open Instapaper and magically find new stories (or articles from a few select blogs) to read. Nice.

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Being interesting

Jim Hines recently gave the secret to writing a good blog: Be interesting.

But what is interesting? This is a topic I keep thinking about, thanks to my growing up as a shy, quiet kid who just wanted people to care that she existed, plus some jerks who told me specifically to my face that I was boring (in high school, they said this because my hair and eyes are brown; in college, it was because my parents had given my brother and me ordinary names instead of less common ones (I suspect that guy and his siblings had been teased about their names)). And while I no longer think that I’m boring, my greatest fear as a writer us that even if I become a master of the craft, there’s something inherent in me that means no one will ever want to read my stuff (I don’t need to be reassured about that, I do know it’s irrational and untrue–and I like worrying about irrational things, because I don’t really have to worry about them!).

So, what is interesting? Some months ago, I ran across a couple of posts by Justine Musk that led me to Cal Newport’s blog. Newport is specifically writing to high school students making plans for applying to college. His advice? Be interesting.

Newport’s instruction for how to do that is roughly to focus. Don’t do a ton of extracurriculars; instead, explore things and then delve deep into the ones you like best.

Which is where I start relating all this to blogging. Some bloggers have a niche.

If this blog has a niche, it’s “What Elizabeth has been doing lately.” Which I write partly so I have a record of it, and partly so family and friends know what I’ve been up to. I hope that it’s interesting. But if my goal were to build an audience, I’d focus. This would be a gardening blog, a cooking blog, or a fitness blog. Maybe even a writing blog. But since it’s an Elizabeth blog, it cycles through all of those topics and then some. Because my life would be pretty dull if I only did one thing.

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For a while I was going to at least one convention a year, every year (mostly Wiscon). But then, I guess I got bored, after the “so this is what a con is like” wore off. [1] Last year I didn’t go to any – I kept thinking about it and not getting around to signing up.

So this time I’ve decided to plan way ahead. Aside from Gen Con in Indianapolis this August, which I’m told has a great writing track, I’m registered for Worldcon in 2012 (Chicago, so I have no excuse to not go) and World Fantasy in 2012 (Toronto, which hopefully will mean a nice visit with family as well). And now I don’t have to think about those for a long time. See you there?

[1] Plus, the whole introvert thing makes “spend a weekend with dozens/hundreds/etc of strangers” not exactly appealing. Yes, there are friends there too, and interesting people to meet, but there’s also a lot of standing around watching other people have conversations. Yay. I’ve always had a good time, it’s just tough to motivate myself to go.


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Even Wolfram|Alpha thinks I'm slow

I’m running another 5k in two weeks, and am trying to get a bit faster. My husband entered my average pace tonight into Wolfram|Alpha (he wanted it in min/km):

Wolfram|Alpha interprets my speed as slowness

Oh yeah? I bet I could outrun the server!

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Weekly Summary July 29

I am way behind on book reports, but have read lots of good things in the past couple months. I do plan to write them up.


Via zanzjan, the stats behind redshirt deaths on Star Trek. The chart is excellent.

I was amused by this article on whether listening to audiobooks instead of reading is cheating. I prefer to read them, but if I listen on tape it goes on my books read list, and even though I mark them as audio, I don’t consider it cheating (at least the unabridged versions).


Busy weekend: Irish festival, Simpsons movie, dinner at the Turkish restaurant.

The festival was fun, and much bigger than I’d expected. We saw a couple different bands — though considering how long we were there, it seems like we should have seen a lot more, missed all the dancing, and participated in the attempt to reclaim the world record for largest number of people doing an Irish jig at one time.

The stickers they handed out to help count people say “Guinness World’s Record Largest Irish Jig Attempt,” which sounds more like it’s for the largest number of people trying to jig. Which is pretty appropriate.

They had music workshops, but I didn’t go — wouldn’t have wanted to drag my flute around. I suppose I could have brought my whistle. One booth had really nice whistles for sale, but I refused to be tempted. (If I took up playing again, I’d get a low whistle, because the regular D whistle is too shrill. Assuming the low whistle didn’t hurt my hands like the flute does.)

The movie was better than I’d expected, especially given that I stopped watching the show years ago because it wasn’t funny anymore.

Dinner (stuffed eggplant) was great, but I’d expected that.

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Google Reader Plugin Update

If you are using the plugin to add Google Reader Shared Items to your sidebar, you need to update it to account for recent changes in Google Reader.

Either download the new version, or make this simple change:

On line 346 (that’s near the bottom), there is a line

Delete the “[1]” and the plugin should be fixed.

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Weekly Summaries March 11

Warning: This post is all about me — no links this week. Sorry. (Go watch more hockey fights if you're bored.)

Updated my exceedingly boring nonfiction site with some of the FrameMaker stuff I was playing around with recently. I have a bunch of links (to old clips) I need to add to that site someday soon; since my articles are all on other sites, that's tricky, since they could disappear at any time.

Shameless plug: If you click on this link to the html version of the FrameMaker tables article that I sold to AC, they will pay me an additional $0.0015. (So no, I won't notice if you look or not!)

Writing Summary:

Took the week off due to sickness. I did get some reviews done early in the week, at least.

Goals for the coming week:
Two reviews – one on the OWW, one off.
Revise ATfD.

Tasks for whenever:
(OWW) Catch up on reviews to be returned.
(Trapped Magic) Finish unstickynoting ch 11-15, Finish ch 1-3, Type ch 4-10, Notebook notes for ch 11-15.

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Weekly Summaries Feb. 18


•Links to various free SF sites

Shameless self-promotion:

•How to format a manuscript for an online critique group.

Writing Summary:

Goals for the week:
Finish unstickynoting ch 11-15 – maybe half?
Go over the notebook notes for ch 4-10
Go over crits for ch 1-3 – half done, but haven’t started any edits yet.
Do some reviews (have at least 2 to return) – Did 1.

That list appears deceptively short, looking back on it. Spent a lot of time on two notes: “Does this do enough to show why Jessa cares?” and “Does it make the reader care?” Both required planting things all the way back to ch 2. With luck the answer to both is now Yes.

This week:
Finish unstickynoting ch 11-15
Finish ch 1-3
Type ch 4-10
Notebook notes for ch 11-15

The notes for 11-15 aren’t so bad; I’ve already dealt with most of them. (Maybe I can get a head start on ch 17, which has a two page essay on “something’s wrong and i don’t know what”….)

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Weekly Summaries Feb. 12


• (Humor) Helpful advice in the event of terrorist attacks. I like the one with the blaring radio.

• Via anghara, daily diversions for writers (comics)

• How to Move Posts from LiveJournal to WordPress is my first article for Associated Content. (Paid more than the cup of coffee I’d expected.) I really should finish backing up my old LJ posts someday.

Writing Summary:

Last week’s goal:
Revise more: through ch 10 (except for dealing with the scene that might need cut).

What I did:
• Dealt with the scene that needed cut. Had to move four bits of description elsewhere — I tend towards sparseness so can’t afford to lose any. Two bits went to a scene where I’d cut some boring bits, and the other two went to a scene that had previously been set in a place I’d been setting far too many scenes. Hopefully it is now more interesting.
• Unstickynoted [1] ch 4-10
• Dealt with some notebook notes for ch 4-10
• Started unstickynoting ch 11-15

[1] unstickynote – Look at each page of the manuscript and make all corrections marked with sticky notes. Generally these are smaller (or at least scene-specific) things. Larger concerns are scribbled in a notebook.

This week:
Finish unstickynoting ch 11-15
Go over the notebook notes for ch 4-10
Go over crits for ch 1-3
Do some reviews (have at least 2 to return)

Unstickynoting is easier than dealing with the notebook notes, which is why I put those off last week.

I’m not going to finish this before March like I wanted, probably, but I’ll see how close I can get.

On the one hand I feel like I’m wasting my time (first novel, why bother fixing it again, better to write a new one). On the other hand, I think I’m getting a good return on my time as far as quality goes.

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