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Archive for the ‘RSI’ Category

I have an exciting blog interview planned but it’s not ready yet. I am waiting for some answers to come in. In the meantime, I thought I’d post something about what is happening with me.

I’ve been experiencing a lot of stress lately due to an external issue. This has been hard on me. I’ve had to take sick leave from my PhD and I’ve had awful stress and anxiety symptoms and I find it hard to concentrate. High stress and anxiety increase my overall pain levels so it can be rather debilitating. I haven’t been able to read much at all, or invest in watching a movie or write fiction. I do walk a lot and I’m losing weight.

We live in an ableist society and so we are brought up thinking that we should be able to do everything and when we are not we get over critical of ourselves and also stress about how people view us. For me, I hate labels. I was sent to a psychiatrist last year to assess my stress and anxiety after a panic attack at work. I wasn’t sent to the psychiatrist until about four or five months after the attack. By then I’d been on meds and had two different lots of counselling and was feeling much better. I didn’t want to have a label and so was pleased that the psychiatrist said I wasn’t suffering from any psychiatric disorder. Even though this attack was brought on by an injury at work that I was having trouble adjusting to and workplace shenanigans. But shrug.

I believe my inherent ableism affects my outlook on my physical disabilities as well. The RSI and arthritic conditions limit me. I hate to be limited. I am a doer. I am an ablelist. It is part of who I am. There is so much I can’t do now and I hate it. I try not to think about it. No wonder I’m stressed. So I hate to acknowledge that these things make me less than I want to be. I know I should just suck it up right. I’m getting older. Well I’m 56 not 76!

But here I am again. Sigh. Having symptoms and it sucks.

My approach to Indie publishing has been to publish books that have been previously published and that I have the rights back to and books that I’ve already written that made it to acquisitions but weren’t bought by publishers. (This doesn’t include the book that is/was with my agent as we still have hopes). Last November, I wrote the short novel, Opi Battles the Space Pirates because that was just fun. However, while I’m not actively writing new stories, there is a bit of work in getting the books back out there and the new ones published.

The rights to Shatterwing and Skywatcher have been returned to me. This meeans they are no longer available. Before they can be relaunched they need to be proofread. Shatterwing is done and I’m just waiting on the map and the new cover. Skywatcher is still in progress in proofreading. My approach to this was work from hard copy that way I can use my tilt board and make it as ergonomic as possible. However, it’s still hard work! Concentration people!

My apologies to Dion who bought Shatterwing and then found he couldn’t buy Skywatcher as Pan Mac took it down. He wrote to me to say : Wing dust! It ended in a cliffhanger. In my defence, I had asked for the books to come down in May 2017 so I could have time to prepare but something went missing in the communication and I had no notice of when they would or did come down. They just disappeared from the Internet.

As per above, concentrating has been hard. Deathwings copy edit is done. I was a good way into it before the external stress causing business came back and overwhelmed me. But as I was nearly done, I managed a few more hours. Deathwings is now with the proofreader.

The new covers are in progress too. And I have Russell K looking at the maps. I’ve outsourced as much as I can. I have three weeks to finish revising Bloodstorm before it’s due at the editor. I think that’s doable, even if I only do an hour per day. However, if I don’t make the deadline, it will take longer to get Bloodstorm out.  No great dramas, except for readers because a lot happens in Bloodstorm.

For more of the Dragon Wine series, you guys will have to wait. I have a PhD to do. Although if this external stress thing doesn’t resolve I will probably go part time on the PhD for a little while.

The Silverlands series. Argenterra and Oathbound are published. I have to do a little bit of stuff to get the print file of Oathbound ready. I also need to pay someone to do the formatting for the Smashwords edition of Oathbound. I can do it, but it’s a bit difficult on the physical side of things. (Oh I hate admitting that–it’s the ableist in me!).

The edit of Ungiven Land is in progress. I may have a bit of work to do when it comes back to me later in the month. I had a chat to the copy editor this afternoon. Apparently I’ve developed new bad writing habits and may have my work cut out for me. My editor wanted to know if it was okay if she picked me up on things, suggested new scenes etc. I said go for it.

That’s what I want. That’s what an edit is for. Make me sweat. I want a better book.

This week I heard that I have the rights to The Sorcerer’s Spell back. That’s a sexy paranormal novel that is published under the Dani Kristoff name. That needs the same treatment. New cover, proofreading, new ISBNs etc. I have a half started sequel somewhere. If I’m to work on that then it will be dictation software! If I can concentrate. A lot depends on what happens over the next few weeks and months. However, finally I might get a male torso on the cover! A first for me.

There is administrative stuff that is done and heaps not done. Just registering ISBNs and Catalogue in Print stuff takes time and energy. I wished I earned enough to pay an assistant! Hahahahahaha!

Fun is over. Back to work.

And just for fun I’ll put a cover image of Argenterra here. It’s new low price is USD 2.99. I also revamped the blurb for this.

Sophy is not looking for a talisman: she is the talisman!

Sophy is snatched from our world during a ghost tour. Landing in the lush world of Argenterra, she’s the odd one out. She can’t use the land’s native magic, the given, even though her friend Aria, and everyone else, can.
Worse still, she’s a faded version of herself and doesn’t fit it at all.

Abandoned by Aria who marries a handsome prince, Sophy travels the land with Oakheart, the high king’s ambassador, to explore the mystery of why there is a crystal leaf growing inside her.

Then the accidents start to happen and she realises a dark force wants her: alive or maybe just dead…Argenterra with subtitle

For more information on The Silverlands Series and buy links, click here. Have you got your copy of Argenterra yet?

Also if you are interested in signing up for my Newsletter. Click here.

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The first month of 2013 is almost over. Wow! That went quickly.

University starts next week. I’m doing two of the subjects that are the compulsory core subjects of my masters in creative writing. One is a manuscript writing unit and the other is cultural research. Looks like both are going to be online so easier on the petrol but intensive as far as time goes. I need to start planning and committing to the novel I will write for the course. I had two ideas and then I had another. It’s a toss up whether I should do the literary SF post-apocalyptic novel, set in Australia and examining feminist issues (Bearded Women), or the dark, SF novel featuring future societies take on incarceration (Prison Ship) or the new idea for a slip fantasy, darkish steampunk/romance ( Into the Dark Glass). I’ve got till next week to make up my mind, write a pitch and cough up some wordage. (votes here will be cool)

I’m back at work. I’ve whinged on Twitter/Facebook about being sick on 2 writing days in a row. Today I’m not sick. I had some errands to run but I did get up early and write (ooh over 2500 words-just checked) on new chapter. This new chapter was as a result of beta reader feedback. When I didn’t write it before I was in half a mind to, but thought I’ll leave in some suspense. My beta reader felt cheated!

Today, I went down to Queanbeyan and spent money. I came upon a hat themed calendar and bought it. When my eyes alighted on it, it jolted me a bit. I’ve enrolled in a millinery course but I haven’t had any correspondence from the technical college. So I had to add that into the mix, along with Conflux 9 and work! I really must put up the scheduler and fill it out.

I had an episode of aching hands over the new year period. It was intense and weird. I went to the physio late last week and she said my RSI is controlled and I don’t have to keep coming. However, we discussed my hands and I had to go to the doctor for further assessment. Blood tests and xrays. I’ve been a bit worried that it’s rheumatoid arthritis and then I tell myself it can’t be. That can’t happen to me!  I know I have osteoarthritis but apparently it doesn’t have flare ups. I had aching hands about 6 weeks before that and I thought then it was the lack of vitamin D. However, I have been taking supplements religiously for 3 months now. So that’s two flares up in 3 months. I tell myself when I’m not obsessing that it might be a virus. I guess I’ll just have to wait for the results and then deal.

I am desperately trying to polish at least one of my MSs before next week and life starts dishing it up. I am looking forward to the second half of the year when I don’t have so much on. I might have World Fantasy Convention in my sights. I have tickets. I have the will. I might even have the time off. It’s the $$ that is preventing me at the moment.

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I’ve sent the first draft of Bespelled out to two beta readers. I’m very happy and doing a happy dance!

I had a tough time with my hands over the last few days. They were swollen and achy. They are much better today. I had to resort to anti-imflammatories and voltaren cream. My feet are sore too, so I’m not sure if it is the RSI or the heat and arthritis. Who knows. (It’s done though. Yay!)

This means that in 2012, I finished first drafts of two novels- The Sorcerer’s Spell at 80,000 words and Bespelled at nearly 50,000 words (both paranormal romance). That means I’ll have two more books to shop around in 2013. This brings a smile to my face. I have to revise them, of course. I have comments on The Sorcerer’s Spell to start on with, which should keep me busy.

In 2012, I revised Ruby Heart and it’s ready to head out into the world and so is Dragon Wine. I feel like I’m ready for 2013.

I have a national science fiction convention to run with Nicole Murphy, but after that, I’m head down on the writing side. There is a degree in there somewhere.

I have some outlining to do. After I finished Bespelled, I started getting ideas for two more stories in the same setting, using different characters. I shake my head at myself. I think I’m addicted to being in the worlds I create. I haven’t yet thought up ideas for more stories in The Sorcerer’s Spell and I have yet to write down the ideas for a sequel to Rayessa and the Space Pirates. I have had ideas for Rayessa since I first wrote the book (nearly 9 years ago), but I haven’t written them down and have to drag them from my subconscious.

It’s been a fabulous first day of the year. Quiet, warm and relaxed. Matthew’s been doing stuff on his PC and I’ve been hooked into mine. I had a lovely visit from Ella and her son, Oliver and we had date scones and a lovely catch up. Something about having a young child in the house on the first day of the year. If felt very nice. He’s very cute too.

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If you have been reading me you know that I had RSI in December and the issue still remains. I haven’t written anything except one short story in 6 months. Today was to be my first serious writing day as I have reverted to part time hours with Wednesdays off-nominally the writing day. Today happened to be a high pain day and as I’d already taken the new fangled pain killers last night, I can’t take any more till this evening. All I’ve managed was one blog post to wrap up the beta reading series, which has been on my mind now for a number of weeks.

You probably wonder what I’ve been doing while I’ve been so idle. Well reading, beta reading, attending a couple of CSFG crit groups and sewing a Victorian/steampunk outfit. The only short story I wrote, received some very positive feedback from the crit group but was rejected from the anthology I wrote it for. However, I do believe it is a good story and I have a bit of tweaking to do and then I’ll send it out.

I’ve also had two novel manuscripts out with editors. I’ve heard back on one and it’s been passed to the young adult editor. This is both nice and also frustrating. I didn’t think that particular MS was YA. However, I can see how it could be. It wasn’t deliberate. I now have two novels that have been considered to be YA. This wouldn’t be too bad but I don’t know much about the YA market or where best to send the work. I’ll have to do some research.
Despite having made myself a promise to submit to 52 agents this year, I have submitted to none. Facing 52 rejections is a bit daunting when one is struggling to get through the day at the day job sort of works as a counter incentive. However, the year is not over and I think things are looking up. If I think positively about this week for example, I did write a proposal and send off five chapters to an editor.

I’ve also geared up on the tech side. I’ve bought a laptop with grunt, had the professional version of the dictation software installed and bought a high-powered wireless microphone set. In theory there is nothing in my way, except me (and the fact that writing fiction by dictation is something that I haven’t quite grasped).

On discussing what manuscript I should work on with my partner, Matthew Farrer, we decided that I should complete the paranormal romance I started a while back. I have dragged it out. I was lucky to get some feedback and edits on the opening, which I’ve taken up. I even added a couple of thousand words to it. I will keep it on the burner. The reason we chose this is because I’m heading to the Romance Writers Conference in the Gold Coast in August and Matthew thought it would be good if I had a complete romance genre manuscript. Also, erotica sort of seems to be the flavour at the moment. While I’m not trying to write erotica per se, it seems that this story is rather hot, steamy and pushes the boundaries of kink. It is fun and I love my hero and heroine a lot. I just wish I spent more time writing the story than fantasing about it.

I finished up my uni subject on English Grammar with a high distinction. That mark was gratifying because I was working so hard with the day job that I didn’t have much left for study. I’m about to enroll in the last subject in the next week or so or decide to convert to a Masters in Creative Writing. In fact, I’m about to head off to see the course convenor right now. I’m not 100 per cent convinced that I want to commit to the Masters as there are a number of issues, such as the cost (I will have to pay back through loans as I have no more cash), the time (yes it will take time over another couple of years) and value (what will I get out of it?). These are the things I have to weigh up. I have enjoyed the study so far so maybe that is enough.

Finally, Conflux 9, the natcon has been consuming my time too. This workload will increase and I guess I have to acknowledge that working on conventions leaves less time for other things like writing and study. If I do the Masters next year, then Conflux will be done by the end of April so it won’t impinge too much.

Right this minute I’d like to find some perk, some enthusiasm, some real commitment to writing. However, I’m not going to kill myself if I don’t.

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Recently I posted about my RSI and that I was using some dictation software, notably Dragon NaturallySpeaking. I’m using the software at work and I’m using software at home.

However, there is a difference in the calibre of the program I am using in both places and I’ve been receiving training on the professional version of the software. What the training has done is open my mind to the vast possibilities inherent in the program. I’m not going to go chapter and verse into the instruction that I received. However, I think I can give a few tips on how to make the software work well for you. Noting, however, that dictating fiction is still a bit of a leap. If one can overcome the technical difficulties and increase the accuracy of the software, then I think working towards being able to dictate a novel or a short story will be easier.

The first thing the tutor did was replace the standard microphone set that came with the program. This tutor is a qualified reseller and trainer of the program so she knows what she is talking about. So the first thing, if you’re serious about writing and you have issues with RSI or carpal tunnel, then invest in a quality microphone set. The tutor is as a USB soundcard and the different headset to increase the accuracy of voice recognition. She says you can get the accuracy as high as 95%. I noticed that using this microphone arrangement the program was much easier to use. I also noticed an increase in accuracy. At work, however, I’m using the professional version and my laptop has sufficient RAM to cope the program’s demands. Even then, there are hiccups and occasional hanging, which aren’t necessarily due to the program but the heavy demands from Word and other programs open in time. (I’m using a network computer, which has a range of other programs running in the background) I’m going to invest in a cordless microphone set at home because I have other issues including lower back and neck pain. With a cordless headset, I’d be able to stand up still dictate. (I understand John Birmingham users a cordless headphone and a stand-up workstation) Although, apparently you can lose some accuracy with a cordless headset, particularly in an open office environment. I think it will work for me at home. I’m also considering buying a different edition of the dictation software because the premium and the professional are much more powerful versions. Before I do that, however, need to upgrade my computer because it is really important to have the necessary grunt for the dictation software to be fast enough to be efficient.

Another key point that I picked up from a training is the importance of using the ‘vocabulary editor’. This is really useful for adding terms that you use a lot and also for differentiating terms that have other meanings. For example, salutations in e-mail like ‘Dear Dweeb’ or ‘Hi Dweeb’ and ‘Hi Beans’. If you say ‘open vocabulary editor’ the menu appears and allows you to key in the term and ‘add’ it and then when you say the term again it usually has no trouble recognising it. Also, the vocabulary editor is updated when you say ‘spell that’ or ‘correct that’ when there is an inaccurate recognition. Sometimes the program makes a mistake because the word dictated is also a command. This can be frustrating because you really don’t understand why it is not recognising a word. I had this problem when I was trying to say an old lady had a lace cap. It just would recognise ‘cap’ because it is also a command as in ‘cap that’ so a way around it in the Vocabulary Editor is to put in ‘lace cap’ in the written form but with a corresponding spoken form. In my case, I said ‘insert frilly lace thing’ and it types ‘lace cap’ and so you see it can be useful. For speculative fiction writers, having a set of strange names or devices or places in your Vocabulary Editor can make your life much easier.

I am finding that I can dictate work documents to a certain extent and sometimes that is faster than typing. This is particularly so when I’m reading from a text which I’m quoting from. If you find the ultimate hurdle difficult to surmount, that is, dictating your fiction novel or short story, the dictation software can be useful to reduce the amount of keystrokes required in your day. For example, dictating e-mails, Facebook updates,tweets, blog posts and Internet surfing. Using the dictation software can reduce the workload for already tired arms. In theory, this should allow more pain free time to work on a novels et cetera.

I highly recommend using skilled tutor to open your mind to the possibilities of the dictation software, particularly where the tutor may have developed macros which create shortcuts for things that you do frequently. My tutor has some macros which she will install next lesson, which make using track changes a lot easier. Personally, I find track changes are very demanding part of work when working on edits because each one requires about three mouse clicks and mouse clicking is particularly difficult using a normal mouse and even a trackball mouse. (I have switched to a vertical mouse called Evoluent website here)

Anyway so ends my lecture on dictation software. I hope this is useful to some of you. Remember you still need to take regular breaks even though you are typing because you are sitting in a static position. Also dictating can be tiring because you are talking and concentrating, so take breaks.

I also think that dictation software is the stuff of science fiction (which is extremely cool) and the advances made the program since the mid 90s is absolutely amazing. you can write as fast as you speak.

So you can increase the accuracy of the machine through a few simple techniques and reducing inaccuracies can increase your acceptance of the program and make it more useful for dictating fiction. I dictated 95% of this blog post.

Below is a link to some of the microphones you can use/buy etc Here

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I have been meaning to update this blog for a while. I know excuses, excuses, that’s all you ever hear from me. The RSI is improving. It probably won’t go away completely but I do feel improved. Work is less stressful but it is there under the layers. However, Easter is coming (coming before Winter!) and well I’ll have some time to do stuff.

I bought a little ginger kitten, called Jaffa (after the Australian orange-coated chocolate balls). The kitten is part of my stress reduction strategy (audit speak) and it’s working. Jaffa is gorgeous and yes I’ll probably be one of those people who puts pictures of their cat up on their blogs. Well if others can get away with it why not me?

I have handed my uni assignment in just now. I am studying English Grammar. I enjoy it but aspects are hard as well as interesting. The assignment was difficult in that there were particular grammatical structures that I had to find in certain places. For example, a modal verb in a children’s book. (a modal is must, can, may etc). Or find the present perfect (has taken etc) on the front page of a newspaper, or passive clause using ‘by’ on line. Well gee, all that is time consuming. The passive construction using ‘by’ on line was the hardest. What is it with the press these days writing in active voice or other passive constructions not using ‘by’. Made my life very difficult. So anyway, there were two elements to the assignment-understanding the question and finding the example. Everything had to be referenced to the university’s standard. More time consuming stuff. But it is handed up.

Recent happenings include Stephanie Smith resigning from Voyager at HarperCollins. That is a sad farewell. She’s a lovely person and a great editor. Her replacement is equally lovely, Deonie Fiford. So some new and interesting things happening there. I know a lot of my published author friends were very sad to say goodbye to Stephanie. However, I hope to keep in touch with her even though she has relocated to Tasmania.

I’ve submitted two manuscripts (slush pile) and non slush pile. I had an invite from a publisher to submit other work. It had been a couple of years since we had corresponded but I thought it worth the effort to email and ask if I could send my new work in. I was very, very happy to get a yes. Better to have a manuscript being read by an editor than sitting in your computer.

I should mention that more Australian publishers have started slush piles, Hachette/Orbit being the latest.

I’ve submitted one short story to a pro market. I’ve got a couple that I should revised and resend out.I’ve just been busy (and not using my arm).

I had edits and proofing to do for ‘Sangue Della Notte’ appearing in Damnation and Dames. This anthology launches over the weekend. I’m very excited. I’m sorry I won’t be at Swancon for the launch. Perth is a long way and my dollars have gone into hiding somewhere.

I have put up an interview with Marc Gascoigne over on the Conflux Natcon Website here

It is worth checking out.

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I’m dictating this post from my iPad. I had a lesson in Dragon NaturallySpeaking at work on Thursday and the tutor told me about this free iPhone application called DragonDictate. It’s pretty cool, and it lends itself to posting to twitter and e-mail on either the iPad or the iPhone very simply.

Learning Dragon naturally speaking also opened my mind to the vast possibilities of using Dragon NaturallySpeaking on the computer. For example switching windows. The trick is using the vocabulary editor and set up options. The tutor also developed macros to shortcut things.

Okay the dictate function is limited. I’m now typing this post on the iPad. But it works for twitter, facebook and short emails. I’ve also used the copy/paste function to copy to the notes app.

Things seem more positive this week, generally.

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