Dawn Montgomery

Archive for January, 2011|Monthly archive page

Sunday check-in

In #amwriting on January 23, 2011 at 11:17 am

This week was very eventful. How have you been getting on? While I haven’t made my goal this week in word count, I have made many strides in other areas. In the last 10 hours, I have been getting to know my new software: Dragon Dictate. So far so good, but it needs a lot of training. We’re feeling each other out though.

I’ve been really encouraged by all the wonderful posts, twitter encouragement, and supportive comments on this blog and around the web. The round of words challenge is in full swing and I hope everyone is doing well. I can’t believe how much time is passed already. I have some personal deadlines to meet over the next week and a half so will be keeping a low profile. This new software is going to take up most of my time.

The most startling event of all is that my oldest son has suddenly shown an interest in journaling.  He sat over my shoulder and watched me a go through intensive word training with Dictate. Something about it really triggered his interest, and all night he has been writing furiously in a journal I bought him for Christmas. For a kiddo who has, until now, shown no inclination toward language arts in any form, this is a quiet miracle. I won’t draw attention to it, because I don’t want him to be self-conscious about it.

It’s been a pretty cool week.

Summary of the week:

  • completed edits on the first chapter of a future submission and progressed into chapter 2
  • helped my critique partners with two of their works in progress and  got a little love out of that myself.
  • received my new software programs: Scrivener, Snow Leopard for Mac, and Dragon Dictate
  • took time off from work to get my writing stuff on track, and take a (much needed!) break from work.
  • completed 3800 words before I got my dictate software (Not bad if I do say so myself).

I have two other friends who are submitting to the same publishing house I am, and another who submitted for a wonderful anthology.  I’ve also been asked to participate in a charity anthology on behalf of a very very dear friend.  I hope the week has gone well fellow writers, and look forward to seeing your updates.  I’m still learning the ins and outs of this dictation software, so please forgive any strange word mistakes in this text. I hope I caught it all!

Keep writing!

Dawn Montgomery

Check out the other Round of Words in 80 days participants!

Adventures in Dragon Dictate

In Software on January 23, 2011 at 5:25 am

This is my first adventure in Dragon Dictate. I am writing this post using DragonDictate 2.0. It was quite an adventure to get here.

As most of you know, I was waiting on software that was backordered. Today was the two week mark, and my husband convinced me to contact the local Best Buy. Luckily, they had it in stock. So my husband, being the wonderful man that he is, drove me to Best Buy to pick up my new software. Two hours later, and after some interesting side quests involving new personnel, we were finally able to get our software.

Upon our arrival home, I found that I had made a rookie mistake. I have bought software without checking compatibility. My amazing husband, and hero of my world,  turned right around and bought me snow leopard 10.6 for Mac. It took the sales associates half an hour to figure out how to use a new software program at  Best Buy. Even then, my hero remained stoic. I’m sure he was cursing me in his mind. Truly, I can’t say that I blame him. When he brought it home, he told me that he had suffered stupidity so that I may be a best-selling author.  It made me laugh, as I’m sure he intended.

This is not the first time I used dictation software. At work, for the very same reasons, I have been forced to use Dragon NaturallySpeaking to maintain my reports, e-mails, and other administrative work. The linear thought process is far easier for me. I don’t feel foolish, arrogant, or afraid of getting it wrong. Writing fiction, however, is proving to be a much different kind of challenge.

Lynn Viehl has given me some amazing pointers. Here are a few I would like to share with you:

  • Use the software for everything. The only way it feels natural is by constant usage.
  • Don’t get frustrated with yourself. You are training the computer to listen to your voice, and your voice alone. Not as easy as it sounds.
  • It helps to visualize the scene before you begin writing it. Imagine it’s like a movie. We’ll see how well that goes.

I hope you enjoy my introduction to Dragon Dictate, and I can’t wait to find out how much more I’m going to learn in the next 48 hours. My kids sure think it’s neat.

Keep writing,

Dawn

Freewrite Friday #1

In #amwriting on January 21, 2011 at 5:55 pm

Kim Knox had a great idea for a time-filler. I spend a few days a week away from my office and voice recognition software doesn’t work so well around a crowd of children…nor does laying out a thousand pages of notes in front of me while working. Kim uses the Seventh Sanctum writing prompts to get her imagination going. Here are mine:

The theme of this story: humorous adventure. The main character: weak student. The start of the story: funeral. The end of the story: crime. (I’ll see how I can do with this humorous adventure thing)

It’s not supposed to be raining, Gwen. The exasperated thought hit me like a caress of soft leather. My master, Caid.

I know. I know. I scrambled to adjust the weather patterns but my powers chose that moment to fizzle to nothing. Again. “Hell and fire.” I drew the powers of the earth through my soles and let it lodge in my gut in that swirling mass of what others called, euphoria, and I called indigestion. The uncomfortable pressure built until I could feel it leaking through my focus.

Gwen, rein it in. Even in thoughtspeak the man’s voice reminded me of whisky, straight. The Divine Mayor wanted a fine mist at her funeral, not a flood!

I tried. By the Dragon, I tried. Was it my fault I was a conduit for lightening? Who knew?

Raging heat exploded around me and my scream echoed in my head long after I lost the ability to speak. My hair stood on end and the zing of electricity amplified the pain until I knew it would destroy me. Some deep instinct I had never known existed pushed me to find an outlet, a target for the unnatural bolt of lightening. I saw bright metal and squeezed my eyes shut, sending it in a hot arc. I sagged with relief and tears blended with the rain fall on my heated cheeks. I heard screams and cries but my mind was a fog. Darkness threatened to drag me down but the fury of my master whirled in my mind. He pulled me against him and I tasted the raw power of his magic explode around us.

“Well, that’s not exactly what I expected.” Something in the depths of his silver eyes flickered and I had no idea why it made me shiver to my very soul. “I guess it’s time to run for our lives Gwendolyn of the Riverfolk.”

And that’s how I found myself racing down the soaked streets with my master’s iron grip on my wrist and entrapment curses flinging behind us.

“What happened?” I gasped for air every step of the way. A weather witch wasn’t exactly a physically intensive job.

“You just burned the Divine Mayor’s coffin. It was an amazing sight…”

 

Check out some more Freewrite Friday posts here. Thanks to Kim Knox for the wonderful start to a fun Friday event!

Time off

In #amwriting, Goals on January 19, 2011 at 1:04 pm

It’s Wednesday check in for ROW80. How’s everyone doing so far?

I am on “vacation” from the EDJ for a week. Thank the stars. Gives me time to work on my projects and get them on the right track.

I’ve tweaked a few chapters of my novel and started my submission for the End of World call with Samhain. I figured out a tricky plot point so it’s flowing rather well.

I took a look around writing bloglandia and came away discouraged. It seems there is a battle cry of despair and it’s spreading like a virus all over the net. I’m a realist…always have been. If I want to be published, I do the work. I can’t rely on someone else to pick up my torch and write those words for me. During ROW80 I’ve seen some wonderful encouragement and that’s what puts me at ease.

You’ve got to find positives every day. Mine today is this: I have two wonderful writing friends who have given me their current works in progress to beta read. I got to spend several hours today just enjoying two great stories. THAT is my positive moment.

What about you?

Keep Writing!

Dawn

Software for Plotting

In Uncategorized on January 19, 2011 at 2:06 am

Lately I’ve received a few comments related to plotting here, on twitter, and through the contact form on my website. I thought I would take a few minutes to explain how I do it. Warning, potential rambling post ahead…

Let me begin by saying…I’m not an outliner. If you hand me an outline form and tell me to fill in all plot points I will stare at the page until the world ends. My brain explodes at the combination of outlines and fiction. I blame the ten billion research papers I’ve had to complete in my lifetime. It pushes my mind into linear thoughts and requires extensive research, citations, etc. Not very helpful and definitely not conducive to my writing happiness/production.

So Lynn Viehl had this amazing link on how to plot under pressure (courtesy of Holly Lisle’s website).

I began notecarding my plots and holy toledo it worked! It was organic enough that I didn’t have to feel trapped and it involved tactile interaction, which is also verra nice.

There were, however, two little problems:

  1. I kept losing my notecards. I have a four year old who gets into everything. Index cards are his new favorite tool of destruction. If I didn’t lose part of them, I’d lose the entire set. Definitely frustrating.
  2. I lost most of the feeling in my left hand due to an injury. I may be right handed, but I have to tell you, there are a LOT of things you do with your non-dom hand…like hold index cards, keep a binder stable as a temporary table, etc.

I was getting frustrated.

So my husband reminded me of this really cool software I’d used one year for nanowrimo: Scrivener. I did a little screenshot to show you what it can do, layout-wise. Note that the left column can be as many chapters (broken down into scenes if you like) as you want. I can add images I use as inspiration, coverart, a promo folder, everything I need for this project from start to finish.

What’s also fabulous…I can set the index cards up to organic which allows me to move them around on the board where I want. So I can still plot that book using the index card method!

I have done it for several novellas, two novels, and a series plan with four books. What an amazing place to keep everything together AND I don’t have to worry about my hand not doing what it’s supposed to…I just use one hand to type when I have to.

I really can’t wait to get my dictation software in…

Have a great writing day, all!

Dawn

Update Second Sunday

In Goals on January 17, 2011 at 7:42 am

Well my word count for the week wasn’t 6K, but I’m still fighting a left hand that’s half numb while the other half is tingling. I’m getting less than 600 words a day…man I wish Dragon Dictate would get here! In the meantime, I’ve plotted three novels, a novella I’ll have to complete by the end of February and two other novellas for submission themes. I’ve even set up character sheets and am in the process of finding images for them.

How is everyone else doing?

Roses

In Uncategorized on January 15, 2011 at 6:58 pm

Is there any other symbol in the world that says “I love you” like a rose does? The delicate petals and gorgeous stemming…the way it’s both soft and tough…a symbol of a woman, really, if you think about it.

It’s perfect in every way.

Except one.

I’m allergic to them. Terribly, horribly, awfully allergic. If you give me roses I will sneeze until the apocalypse, complete with runny nose, watery eyes, and a pounding headache. If one of those thorns prick me, I will have an immediate rash. Rose oil and all the floral perfumes with rose in them send me into a horrible sneeze fest.

My husband knows my poor allergy. He knows how much I love them and that it was my grandmother’s favorite flower (The Tyler Yellow Rose). He knows that I am fascinated with hybrids and that my great-grandmother had roses so incredibly close to the color blue that it was almost *there*. My grandmother planted red and white roses in star patterns all over her yard. My great-grandmother went for a more organic effect. She loved serendipity in rose generations. My husband has bought me some beautiful fake roses over the years. A shiny metal one is my favorite. 🙂

Every time I visited my great-grandmother she would cut me one beautiful rose from her garden and wrap it in a damp paper towel for me to keep. Once I caught a whiff of that cloying scent my eyes would instantly start to water. She’d assume I was crying (from the beauty of the flower) and I always let her believe that. I never wanted to hurt her feelings.

It didn’t take long for my grandmother to figure it out. She only had to treat me for an allergic reaction twice to pinpoint my allergy triggers. So, instead of working in her garden with her, she handed me a sketchbook and pencil with a suggestion to sketch them. I was devastated at not being able to help but started sketching so I could stay out there with her.While I sat in the chair upwind of the roses, she’d ask me to tell her silly stories of nonsense. I would and we’d end up laughing for most of the afternoon.

As time passed that long summer I got a lot better at sketching, we laughed a lot more, and she got a lot of pictures. One day I drew her prized Tyler roses in bloom. They were gorgeous! I thought I’d really done something special, but was afraid it was just my imagination. So, despite my fear of rejection, I showed it to my grandmother. She looked at my drawing then looked at the roses and gave her secret little smile.

“You’ve done something real special here,” she said in that soft southern twang I remember so well. “When my roses are long gone this winter, I’ll still have this beautiful picture of them to look at.” I don’t have to tell you how very proud I was of it after that. My grandmother had that picture up on her wall for decades. When she passed on, my mom handed me the still framed sketch.

Both my grandmother and great-grandmother are gone now, but these memories still remain. They were both romantic women at heart and their gardens were where they let that love grow. I will never be able to walk through a garden like that without suffering but I can show my love and appreciation elsewhere.

In books and stories. I can keep telling stories. There was only one thing (besides us grandkids) my grandmother loved more than her roses…and that was romance novels. I still sketch and draw but without a comfortable way to sit or strength in my hand, it’s become more of a challenge than ever. But I can still write. And I do. Every day. So if I have a character who has an affinity for roses, you should know it’s definitely not me, but is in memory of two amazing women who taught me that there’s always a way to appreciate beauty.

Keep Writing!

Dawn

To Plot a Catastrophe

In Arc Talk on January 14, 2011 at 5:57 pm

I’m a catastrophe tracker. For most of my adult life people I love and care about very deeply have been right in the middle of some of the worst, as victims and as rescue workers. In several cases, I’ve been right there with them, filling sand bags, working the field hospitals, and getting food to the needy. That’s part of my job, part of my friends’ jobs. The stories of heroes and villains become grayed during this kind of event. Human beings are dropped to their most vulnerable, their most basic instincts. It’s brutal, difficult to overcome, and (for some) unbearable to remember.

In the most horrific circumstances even the most despicable human being can be heroic. On the other side, the most heroic person can become despicable. When I read a book in which someone has suffered through a highly traumatic experience, I expect to see some scar from the event. It could be little. It might be amazing. It could have been life-altering. But it had better be there. Why else would this traumatic event have happened in the story in the first place?

For the hero turned despicable, how many times does he/she look in the mirror and remember how absolutely terrible they can be? For the despicable turned hero, how many times does he/she look in the mirror and remember what they could have been, what they’d become…

Makes for some interesting character development.

I tend to do terrible and horrible things to my characters. Tragedy tempers them so much and I just can’t seem to help myself.

A catastrophe in your story needs to be there for a reason. If the end of the world as you know it happened, but the characters continued on without any change in the way they lived, how they felt, or anything else…why did the world change in the first place?

Danielle Mietiv of the blog Brave Blue Words has a blog post on the top 10 extreme weather and climate events of 2010. A search of any one of those events will show you heroics and villainy. It will show how one village had to band together to fend off starvation while another group had to be transplanted to a safe zone…where they may never get to return. What would that do to your characters?

Map out the emotional and physical roller coaster of your catastrophic event. Did she lose her grandmother in a flood and now keeps her necklace on at all times in memory? Did he see and suffer under the reign of a city’s civil war and those who would take from victims under the fog of confusion. Is that why he chose to become the law or the vigilante? To keep it from happening again?

You might just find some little quirk about your character you didn’t even know.

Keep Writing!

Dawn

Links for Limitations

In Challenges on January 13, 2011 at 9:09 am

Hey all,

In an earlier post I commented on some new and difficult transitions I’m making. My left hand is almost completely numb and that makes typing a fat-fingered process. I’ve got Dragon Dictate on the way for my Mac, but in the meantime I was scoping the net for some resources available.

I came across Lynn Viehl‘s blog and she had brought up a list of resources for the handicapped writer. I, for one, am thankful.

Check them out if you have a chance.

Ahhh Wednesday

In #amwriting on January 13, 2011 at 8:10 am

It’s Wednesday check in for Round of Words in 80 days. How are you guys doing so far? I’m coming along at a snail’s pace but definitely look forward to my voice recognition software delivery. It being on backorder sucks, tho.

Have a wonderful rest of your week, all!

Keep Writing!

Dawn

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