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Zombies running toward my house

I looked out my front window which is at the head of a t-intersection and saw three zombies sprinting toward my house.

That’s when I knew I’d been consuming too much zombie related media.

But it’s been so fun!

DJ Molles has a book series called “The Remaining” and it’s wicked good. I love fast paced stories and I was boggled why a book that starts with someone holed up in a bunker could keep me turning the virtual pages.

The premise rocks. The US government put a military person in each of the states and whenever the government thought we were near to a catastrophic event, the military person went into a bunker. Nothing usually happens and then they get called out of their bunkers and go back to their lives.

But this time something did happen. Just consider the possibilities. I am not going to give away what happens in the first book or the series, but I will say why I’m loving these books.

You feel the suspense like you are right there with Captain Lee Harden as he sits in his bunker and works his way to what’s outside. It almost never lets up. After the premiere book, there’s a little more time spent on describing the world and the emotions, but it just plays into the suspense and action.

Of course, now is also the time where the second half of the Walking Dead season is on and they are doing such crazy things with the characters that they made me go back and watch season 1 to gawk at how far they’ve come.  It’s kind of like watching Frodo toss the ring in the volcano, then going back to watch Frodo reading a book under a tree in the Shire waiting to catch Gandalf arriving. The world has really had its way with all of them.

I still have a few more books to read in the Remaining series and there’s another episode of Walking Dead tonight. I just can’t stop now.

Wait, what’s that thumping sound? Is that the wind hitting my windows or a zombie?

 

 

How can I write when I’m injured?

First of all, I am sorry you were injured and I wish you a speedy recovery!

I’m here to tell you that not only can you write while you’re injured, but the tricks you learn during this time will make you a much more productive writer when you are all better. I’m not a medical doctor and this isn’t medical advice. This is writing advice.

Now, people can be injured in different ways and I am going to cover the way in which you can’t sit or stand. Some of it may apply if you are also having problems with your hands, like you broke them or your cat requires you to keep petting her or she’ll scratch you.

Here’s the first secret…

Writing goes well with being injured. You’re angsty, you’re bored, you can’t do whatever work you might usually be doing that makes you feel like a productive human being. You may have also gone through a phase where you watched way too much TV and not enough of it was good TV. So you are in the right mood, and writing is something that you can do.

How?

Option 1 and the injured writer’s best friend is a smartphone and speech-to-text software. You don’t need to even buy any special speech-to-text software like Dragon. Google’s speech-to-text is great now and in my humble opinion as good as Dragon. Sure, Dragon allows you to train it so that it recognizes what you say more often, but who has the time for that? I don’t know if I just stink at it, but Dragon just does not know what I am saying and it took way too many hours to try to get it to understand. Google’s speech-to-text works with so many of the writing apps that you can put on your phone and you can always cheat and just write yourself long emails, which is what I am doing right now. So the first trick is speech to text on a smartphone.

Option 2 involves getting your laptop or desktop computer set up in a way where you can use it. The cheapest way and easiest is the fold-able laptop stands. There are a couple of brands and models to choose from but most of them are around 30 to 40 dollars. Depending on how much you can sit up you may not need this. Now this type of laptop table requires you to be able to set up a little bit and you will find that it causes strain on your neck over time. If you are already injured, the last thing you want to do is add another injury.

Option 3 is the ultimate — and totally worth it — step of buying an adjustable monitor arm. These things are amazing. You will have to tinker with it a bit to get it in an angle that works best for you, but there are a lot of possibilities that open up with this adjustable monitor arm. I attached mine into a side table that was high enough and next to a bed so that with a couple of twists the monitor is right over my head and I can hold my keyboard in my lap. This way I am able to lay down while being at a computer.

Everything has its limits. This is not the solution for everything and you can’t use it too long, but it can help you get your writing done while recovering from a back injury or sneezing fit.

And you can always go back to the winning combo of smartphone plus speech-to-text.

Goodbye “Text neck”

An intermediate solution between the smartphone option and adjusting your monitor option is a tablet holder. Option 4, the tablet holder, is phenomenal. You can write using speech to text on it just like a smartphone, but bigger. You can read for hours on your side or on your back and your hands won’t get tired. And since reading feeds writing, this is another trick to boost your writing indirectly. This option is easy on your neck and allows for a variety of reading/writing positions.

It sucks to be injured, but if you can learn how to use speech-to-text to tell your stories, you will increase your productivity and the overall amount of time you can tell stories. Getting those stories out will make you feel better and make your readers happy.

Oh, and I’m still not a medical doctor, so run anything you do while injured by a medical professional.

If you know of any other tricks for writing while injured or have any questions, let me know.

 

Top 5 Things I want in a book

Oprah and her book club are not for me. As a kid I read stories that fueled me, that made me see the world with wonder and a general can-do attitude. Sure, I’m a girl (now woman) and there weren’t many books with female heroes, but Trixie Beldon, Little House on the Prairie, and other things I found here and there went a long way.

Then came the social push to read Oprah’s recommended books.

Now, don’t get me wrong, many of the books recommended by Oprah are beautiful, lyrical, haunting masterpieces of empathy and the human experience. And I like to read books like that about three times a year.  Why only three times? Because there’s only so much of the dark drudgery of human experience that I can take and why would I live on a diet of that when I can have something else?

What else, you ask?

1. Adventure

To me adventure is taking me somewhere new, trying to do something that just doesn’t work out easily, but it’s a great ride. Mistakes build to success. Following characters as they figure their way out of the train about to go off a cliff is fun. How will they do it? What if they don’t? How great will it be if they do?

A new classic of this is Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games. When I read that I wanted to know how Katniss was going to survive and what will happen if she does.

This also means that the characters have to be smart enough to take me through these adventures. In the end, they need to kick butt.

2. Heart

Adventure is hollow if there isn’t something to make me care. I want to care about what the heroes are trying to achieve. I want to care about the people in the story. I want to feel that roller coaster of human emotion, with vicious ups and downs. I want to cheer, I want to cry, I want to love and remember them forever.

And, call me a ninny, but I want to be inspired. I want to finish the book feeling good about life.

3. Fantastic Worlds

For me, if I’m going to spend time in a book, then I want to go somewhere neat. I want to see unusual terrain. I want different cultures. Yes, I want dragons and other cool animals. I want to live my dreams.

I mean things like Ally Coldie’s city under the ocean in Atlantia; Kirsten Cashore’s gracelings in Graceling; and Brandon Mull’s Spirit Animals.

 4. Speed

I like a story to move. I want things to happen. While seeking solace from Oprah’s books, I ran into Thriller books. Clive Cussler, James Patterson, John Sanford, Lisa Gardner, and James Rollins all know how to keep a story going.

5. Clarity

It’s all for naught if something about the writing snaps me out of the dream. I heard John Sanford talk about the craft of writing at Thrillerfest one year and will always remember him emphasizing that stupid spelling and grammar mistakes, word echoes, all snap the reader from the trance, the dream you’ve made for them. It’s true. Editing novels is incredibly important. I just can’t read a book if there are mistakes. And in addition to good spelling and such, I also like easy language. I don’t want to look up a word when I’m reading for fun. And that’s what I’m doing.

I read for fun.

What are you reading for? What do you look for?

REVIEW: Atlantia by Ally Condie

Atlantia by Ally CondieI really enjoyed this dystopian tale of sisterhood and coming of age. It’s a book that works on many different levels. It’s a story that moves along, pulling the reader forward with questions of how the heroine is going to achieve her goals, mysteries of her mother’s death, and the slow reveal of the world surrounding her. As a story of people living under water, at the bottom of the ocean, the themes of longing for life on the surface and the power of voice were a clever tip of the hat to Disney’s “The Little Mermaid” which is often criticized for telling women they need to lose their voice to find fulfillment. I don’t want to spoil the ending, but reading with that theme in mind enriches the reading of it and gives a big payoff.

It’s a stand-alone novel, but I love the world and characters and would like to see it as a series. I think the end allows for further books and hope Ally Condie will continue.

Pages: 302 | Publication Date: October 28, 2014 | I’d call it PG and a fast read.