The sinking ship abandoned me.

So. I’ve had a Twitter account since 2008. I have no idea how many posts I made, or how many people I followed (or who followed me).

All that is gone, now. Someone hacked my account and did something that invoked the wrath of Management (I can’t figure out what, as the two posts I can see that were made by the hacker seem to be a bunch of other Twitter users and nothing else). Not only did they shut my main account down, they shut down another account and have banned me for life.

Which… I’ve been drifting away from Twitter anyhow, but I had information I wanted to grab (I used it to link a lot of articles) and people I wanted to keep track of. All gone, because not only did they ban me, but they wiped everything (following, followers, posts… all gone).

So I’m reviving this blog. Right now I’m just getting used to posting here again. I’ll probably tweak it so it’s a bit more visually interesting, but… maybe not. I find it kinda restful to not have a lot going on. Although a picture or two might be nice. There’s something to be said for white space and breaking up text.

I’m kinda sick about losing everything, but… I knew I should sit down and go through everything, and I didn’t make time to do so. That’s on me.

It’s not everyday that the sinking ship abandons the rat.

Not a cryptid, but…

So I love this video, in part because the Kansas Department of Wildlife used to insist there were no mountain lions in the eastern half of the state, and it part because who would expect a mountain lion in the middle of a city?

To me it’s proof that “experts” sometimes have no clue, and that the unexpected can still be found in unlikely places. If it weren’t for the doorbell came, we wouldn’t have known this beastie took a stroll through the neighborhood.

Makes you wonder what could be caught on a cam in a rural area…

2019 Reading Goals

I usually read a fair bit every year, but I’m terrible about tracking and reviewing what I read.  I had a good start last year, but at some point I stopped.  I think I can name the point – I had read an horror anthology, and was attempting to summarize the stories therein.  Yeah.  Some of them were bland, so I quit. There was also a lot of rereading last year.  I’m a proponent of rereading, particularly for authors.  You can learn a lot from rereading – on the other hand, not every book deserves more than one pass.  However, the rereading I was doing qualified more as a comfort reading: I wasn’t truly absorbing the words or noticing anything new.

This year my goal is to read books I already own.  Part of this is because I’ve amassed quite a number of books I’ve then ignored, and as I’ve also decided to trim my spending it seems wise to focus on what I already own.  I mostly want to read physical books, as I have a lot and would like to pare them down, but I don’t want to get rid of them until I’ve at least looked at them.  I’ll keep them if there’s something of value or interest (and hence a need to reference if not reread).  Otherwise, they are better going off to find someone who does love them.  This excludes reference books, unless they are wholly out of date.

If I love the book enough, I will try to find the ebook version.  I find ebooks easier to read – at least for fiction books that are not heavy on illustration (hence not getting rid of reference books).  And if I’m going to reread it, I might as well have it in the format I prefer.  Obviously I’m going to keep anything I have that’s autographed, but having an ebook copy of those is vital so the signed books stay as pristine as possible.

I know people who faint from horror at the thought of getting rid of books, and part of me gets that.  For one, it used to be so much harder to find some books.  If you didn’t keep the copy you had you might never see that book again, or it might take forever to find it.  One of the best things about ebooks is  that I now can find copies of books I thought I’d never see again.  Case in point: Things Invisible to See, by Nancy Willard.  I originally read this from my school library, and found a battered copy (and lost my mind) at some garage sale.  Yay!  But I can only reread that so often because it’s a cheap paperback that’s falling apart.  I bought it the moment it was available as an ebook.  Now I can reread it forever! And buy it for friends (if I love a book enough that I think others need to read it, I give it to them).

I do mourn physical books – it’s so interesting to browse someone’s library and learn about them that way (What books do they have? How do they organize them?).  But I’ve had things happen to physical books (water damage, mold) and it’s nice to not have that worry.  Also, right now we just don’t have the space for a large number of books, nor the means to buy large numbers of bookshelves.

Anyhow.  I was mentioning this resolution to one of my writing buddies.  Apparently it’s in the air – both she and a mutual friend have the same resolution.

There are other resolutions, of course.  I’m not sure resolution is the best word – they fill more like realizations.

Character Introductions

So the other day we watched Dr. Strange, mostly because of Benedict Cumberbatch and Tilda Swinton.

I thought they did a particularly good job of introducing the character of Dr. Strange and his desires.  You see a glimpse of his normal life before his world is upended. This glimpse tells us all we need to know about the character and why he is so driven to try anything to regain his motor control after a horrible accident. This desire drives every action and decision he makes.  There’s the old saw of giving your character a desire, even if it’s for a glass of water (Bradbury, among others, recommends this).  Not only do we know Dr, Strange’s desire, we know why he has it.

He also, pointedly, keeps reminding people that his title is doctor when they try to address him by anything else.  This serves to remind us of his chosen identity – he is a doctor, is known for being a doctor, and wants to keep being a doctor.

Interestingly, I think they also erred in a way a lot of beginning novelists err – in starting with action without context. It’s hard to know who we’re cheering for or why we should cheer at all when we’re dumped in the middle of something.  Yes, the special effects were cool – but while I enjoyed them I was also frustrated.

Is this a perfect movie?  No. I think they tried to cram too much into it, with the thought that more, bigger, faster always equals better (spoiler: it doesn’t). But there are certainly lessons to be learned from it.

Kicking off the year with the Kansas Writers Association

This Saturday I speak at the Kansas Writers Association meeting about editing.  I’ve jotted a bunch of notes in my journal, and am now in the process of creating handouts (which I will post later).  I am currently planning to do a series based around those handouts.  Of course, even though I’ve been working on my thoughts since I was invited to speak, the idea of connected posts only occurred to me this week.  There won’t be quite enough time (there never is) to cover everything, so a series seems like a great way to go more in depth.

I’ve been a member of KWA since 2006 (if not earlier).  It’s gone through a lot of changes with the advancement of the internet.  Less people attend, which I think is a shame.  I’ve learned a lot – but to me it’s about meeting local writers.  Most of the friends I have made as an adult have come from KWA – either I met them there or I met them through someone I knew from KWA.

I’ve met fascinating people from a variety of backgrounds.  KWA is a group for all genres that attracts all levels of writers, and because of that it’s easy to find people with knowledge of just about anything.  You can learn something from everyone.

So, stay tuned for a series!  And join your local writer’s groups.  Really.  Nothing beats having a writing friend to call up and discuss writing with over coffee (or something stronger).

Hope to see you there!


The Kansas Writers Association typically meets the third Saturday of every month at Rockwell Library in Wichita, KS.  For more information, visit or look them up on Facebook.

It’s been a long year

I had thought that I’d do so much more with my writing and editing this year, but I guess that the fact I have achieved something (setting up this blog, restarting Heartwood) counts.  I’ve had a few editing jobs, but hadn’t seriously settled into trying to drum up business as I knew that I would be too busy to dedicate myself as fully as necessary.

The wedding was successful, and the honeymoon lovely,  We went to Albuquerque for a week.  The high point of the trip was taking a balloon ride during the Balloon Fiesta.  Incredible.  I hadn’t realized that it would be as much fun to watch balloons land as to see them ascend.  Took the train there and back, which was awesome and makes me wish that there were more routes available.

Participated in NaNaWriMo (, although I didn’t “win.”  For some reason, started writing by hand, which was going well, and then I got totally derailed by the election.  I wish I could say that the results surprised me, but the reason we got married this year was because I was afraid that this would happen.  I get knots in my stomach just thinking about it,  Nothing that’s happened since has made me feel any better.  Anyhow.  I ended up with around 20.000 words (I’d guess).  The idea had occurred to me last year, and I had taken notes but not written much on it as I was trying to work on Heartwood.  In hindsight, I should have worked on this idea instead, as it faded as I wrote it this year.  Currently I don’t even have a working title for it, which probably says a lot.

I did rearrange my office, which has made me feel much more sane.  It was a lot of work (I moved furniture and went through everything), which was a reason I hadn’t done it before.  I should know better.  It’s still not quite finished (I need to hang my small white boards and some decorations back up), but it’s so much better.  I crave order: a place for everything, and everything in its place.

I still need to do all my name-change stuff.  Sigh.  So many places to update.  But it’s one of those things – better to do it when you think about it and get it over with.




The keyboard chronicles

I’m not sure where I first learned of the DVORAK keyboard layout (named after the guy who invented it, not the composer).   Anyhow, it’s supposed to make you type faster, with less strain, as the letters that are used most are on the home row of the keyboard.

I’m a lousy typist. I didn’t learn to properly type until after I’d graduated college – a severe handicap for someone who has always wanted to be a writer,  and who majored in Creative Writing.  I’m sure I’d have had much more fun at college if I hadn’t spent so much time hunting and pecking.

So, this year I decided that I would finally convert.  DVORAK typists are supposed to be faster, which has a huge appeal.  I originally ordered stickers to cover my keyboard with the appropriate letters, but after a week realized that I’d be staring at my hands so I ordered blanks.  I covered up most of the numbers as well, since I have a bad habit of looking at the keyboard which I’d like to break.

It’s been slow, but I think I’ve passed the point of no return.  I got frustrated yesterday and tried to switch back to QWERTY.  Turns out I can’t type in that at all (at least when the keys aren’t visible).

I probably need to log in some actual practice, rather than just learning through doing.

I wish I’d done this sooner, because there are moments now when I can see that this would be faster and have more flow.  At least I’ve started now.  I’ve memorized the keyboard layout, something I could never claim for the QWERTY although I’ve used it for decades.  Now my challenge is mastery – and forgetting a few old locations.

To learn more about the DVORAK layout:


Not My Darlings

My day job is adopting the ISO 9001:2015 (quality) and 14001:2015 (environmental) standards this year.  The biggest change, at least as far as I’m concerned, is that they require less documented procedures.  With the prior standards, you had to have a manual, as well as documents for training, documents (how meta can you get?), records, nonconformances, and so on.  Now you don’t.

My coworker was horrified as my boss and I discussed some of our existing documents and decided that we didn’t need them.  “I don’t see how you can be so calm about getting rid of them after all the work you did on them.”

That was a tough thing to explain.  Yes, I’d done a lot of work on them over the past four years, and I was proud of them.  At the same time, they were something I’d created specifically for my job as Document Control Specialist.  They weren’t mine.  They weren’t things I would have created on my own.  Save for the experience of creating them, and thus having learnt what to take into consideration if I ever need to write such a procedure again, they are documents that I can’t use elsewhere.  They are not my darlings, so it is easy for me to let them fade away.

Besides which, it’s my job to make documents for the day job.  I get paid for that, whatever they decide to do with them.  There’s not a huge sting if someone hates what I’ve created, or suggests vast revisions.  It’s easy for me to send out a procedure and solicit feedback.  It’s so much easier to fix things in the draft stage then after it’s been finalized and uploaded to our management software.

It’s easy to overlook the fact that the documents still exist.  That I did gain through the doing – it doesn’t matter that they’re no longer used.  They served their purpose well, and taught me along the way.



I’m only writing this because I got tired of staring at Hello World.  I’ve been having fun trying to set up this blog for the past few hours (that’s “fun” – ugh).  It’s amazing how much time it can take it fuss over details.

My intention with this blog is to discuss writing, editing, and using Word (I’m a Power User, and by December I will be a certified Microsoft Office Specialist Expert).

Update:  still working on the MOS Expert Specialist certification – 2 tests down, 2 to go.