Friday, April 28, 2006

A Word, if You Please

Word count is a funny thing. NaNo participates were thrilled to discover that a word counter was added last year as they raced frantically for the 50K goal. In prior years, a document was submitted and that's it. No idea of if 1,000 more words were needed or only a handful.

Extremely frustrating when MS Word says you have 50,051.

A faithful Snarkling shared this data with Miss Snark who provided her take on it.

Program/Version/Platform Words


Adobe Frame Maker 5.0, 5.5 404

Adobe Page Maker 6.5 400

IBM Translation Manager 2.0.1 386

Lotus Word Pro/Ami Pro 400

MS Word 2.0c 400

MS Word 5.0 DOS 400

MS Word 5.1/5.1a Mac 404

MS Word 6.0 Mac 400
(this is Miss Snark's program)

MS Word 6.0/a/b/c 400

MS Word 7.0 400

MS Word 8.0 400

Nisus 4.1 400

QuarkXPress 4.0 386

Quicknotes 399

TexEdit 2.0.5 Mac 402

Textcount 408

Trados 1.15 402

Word Perfect Spellchecker Mac 402

Word Perfect 2.1.4 Mac 408

Word Perfect 3.0/3.1/3.5e Mac (spell checker counts 387)

Word Perfect 4.2 386

Word Perfect 5.0 404

Word Perfect 5.1 DOS 386

Word Perfect 6.0 400
(this is my back up program)

Word Perfect 6.0a 402

Word Perfect 6.1 400

Word Perfect 8.0 400

Wordstar 7.0b de (7.0d en) 386

So, what does a smart Snarkling take away from this? If you're entering a contest, don't send "exactly 500 words" to a 500 max word contest. Send 450. Or even 475 in a pinch. Give yourself some margin for program count discrepencies.

Almost enough to make you wish that editors and agents would unite like producers in Hollywood have. Their formatting guidelines are rigid because each pages translates to 2 minutes of movie. Or something like that.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Ins & Outs of Publishing

The Knight Agency blog posted the differences between e-publishing and print publishing that seriously pushed me up the learning curve.

Interesting tidbits. Do read the whole thing.

To sell in print, the average author writes for about 7 years and writes an average of 4-5 full manuscripts (of 100K words each) before selling.

I have two fulls and one partial. I'm half way there. I'm not even going to try to count the years

...selling to some e-publishers, like Ellora's Cave, has gotten every bit as difficult as selling to print publishers because they are so popular.

Popular with who? I can't curl up with my computer.

If the book is a $6.20 download and you make 35% of that, then you make $2.17 per book, which sounds pretty good. But many e-authors are lucky to sell 1000 units. So you've spent a lot of time and effort to make $2170. And to make that, you had to do some online advertising, which costs you money. So say you kept $1500. A book that costs $6.20 is a longer one, so let's say you could write 4 of those a year. If you stay on budget and sell 1000 units of each, you've just made $6000 for the whole year. Can't live on that.

Why am I doing this again? Oh yeah. To see my name in print. Money's optional.

So you get "the call" that an editor wants to buy your first book tomorrow, let's say. It will be somewhere around June before you see your contract. IF there are no changes, you'll sign it and turn it in, and get your $2500 within the next 60 days, so somewhere around August. If you have to modify the contract...that just holds the money up. If you turn the book in at the end of September, you'll see the $1250 you're due in late November/early December. Then let's say your book is scheduled to hit shelves in October of the following year. Well, you don't see that $1250 until the following October + 60 days it takes to process they check from the publisher. So you'll have a total of $5000 for that 20 month period.

Think of the long term investment. And the need to get those voices out of my head.

I'm positive I'm missing some really great points. But that's why you should go read the whole thing.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

The Dark Hills Divide by Patrick Carman

Title: The Dark Hills Divide: The Land Of Elyon

Author: Patrick Carman

Genre: Fantasy

Summary: Alexa's physical features and natural tendencies placed along side her social connections make her the only person who can stop the invasion into her summer home.

The Take-Away: A really good book for YA fantasy, especially as Alexa is a strong character with unusual traits. She small in stature. She's female. She's prone to making trouble. All these add up to the perfect solution for assisting those outside the walls that suround her town.

This is the first in a series, but I'm not sure I'm going to read the next ones. It was well written, funny, witty and has a great character, but it's really meant for a pre-teen girl. If I were still teaching or looking to branch into that genre, this would be an excellent role model.

Recommendation: Read it and discuss with an interested pre-teen.

Other books read in March

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Dammit, This in Number Five

Break out the tequila!

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
41,106 / 95,000

of which, we have been drinking too much of lately thanks to a very nice bottle supplied by some generous friends.

Because, you know, Four Posts in One Day will Thrill you To Pieces

Author answers with Rachel Caine, brought to you by Word Nerd.


Note that there are two book reviews for your consideration today, hence the title of 2-4-1.

Wait, this is the third post. Ah, crap.

Heat Stroke by Rachel Caine

Title: Heat Stroke

Author: Rachel Caine

Genre: Fantasy

Summary: Weather Warden Joanne Baldwin is figuring out what it means to be a djinn while also trying to save David.

The Take-Away: The stakes in this book were high. After all, Joanne is a newly made djinn and needs to learn how to control the associated powers and a whole new set of politics. Just when she gets all of that under control (and at the end of the book) a new bad guy reveals himself.

Some of his uprising is Joanne's fault.

While the story does end here, the outline is clear as to the trouble and conflict of the next installation.

Recommendation: Read it. Have Chill Factor waiting in the wings.

Bonus Review: Word Nerd's take on Heat Stroke

The Weather Warden Series Titles

Other books read in March

Ill Wind by Rachel Caine

Title: Ill Wind

Author: Rachel Caine

Genre: Fantasy

Summary: More than taming the weather lays in the balance when Weather Warden Joanne Baldwin runs from the scene of a high level supervisor's death.

The Take-Away: Fantastic. After reading the book, I could see why Word Nerd nagged me about starting the series. The action is immediate. The characters are wonderful. Flashback is used effectively and I can't say that I've ever said that before.

Recommendation: Get it, and have the second title, Heat Stroke close by. You're gonna want that one too.

Bonus Review: Word Nerd's take on Ill Wind

The Weather Warden Series Titles

Other books read in March

Monday, April 24, 2006

The Singing Sword by Jack Whyte

Title: The Singing Sword

Author: Jack Whyte

Genre: Fantasy

Summary: The Colony fights its first battles, both as a official entity of the Roman forces and on personal levels.

The Take-Away: As the title suggests, Excalibur is born in this novel, but not until the very end. Again the history of the collapse of Roman is the background of the novel, but unlike The Skystone, I had a hard time putting this book down. The writing was better, I believe, as was the telling of the story.

Recommendation: Start with The Skystone but have this one close by.

Bonus Review: Word Nerd's review of Jack Whyte

The Camulod Series Series Titles

Other books read in March

Thursday, April 20, 2006

The 5th Horseman by James Patterson

Title: The 5th Horseman

Author: James Patterson

Genre: Mystery

Summary: A series of death at one of the largest hospitals bring the public focus onto quality of care.

The Take-Away: This issue is rather timely as all of us face rising insurance premiums and increased profit margins of those providers. The normal Patterson twists made it interesting and kept me guessing as to what would come next.

One of the email loops I'm in recently discussed Patterson and the quality of his writing. The most frequent criticism was the lack of character development, both in his serials and his stand-alones. I like Patterson and have ever since I read "Along Came a Spider." His characters develope over several books and while it is important to know the characters, he is writing thrillers. Is it really that important to know the motivating forces or to know who the bad guys are and how the good guys are going to beat them?

I also got the feeling that most of these comments came from people who read a limited numbers of genres, most of which are not thriller or mystery. Character development in this genre is thinner than say Romance or its many subdivisions. When reading about falling in love, the need for character motivation shows in the development of the character. Thrillers are all about catching the bad guys.

Recommendation: Read it, but realize that it is about catching bad guys. This title also varies from the norm in its social commentary on the health care systems.

Women's Detective Club Series Titles

Other books read in March

Solstice Wood by Patricia A McKillip

Title: Solstice Wood

Author: Patricia A McKillip

Genre: Fantasy

Summary: The battle between the Fairie Queen and the human world is about to become very real and no amount of sewing will enforce the boundaries.

The Take-Away: This was an awesome book. Folklore and fairie tales are worked into the storyline so well that it is possible to completely suspend your disbelief and believe that war is imminient. The timeline is also very short, which is perfect for one or two reading sessions.

Recommendation: Highly recommend reading this one during the evening hours with your faithful dog (or cat) curled up next to you.

Other books read in March

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Alpine for you by Maddy Hunter

Title: Alpine for You

Author: Maddy Hunter

Genre: Mystery

Summary: A killer is running amok during a Senior's Tour and no one knows who is next.

The Take-Away: The plausibility of amateur detectives is difficult, if not impossible to pull off. Maddy Hunter does it well, even when confronted with the added challenge of making this title the first in a series.

The only stretch that didn't work was the romantic interest. Knowing that this is a series and that the next trip is to Ireland, I didn't believe that the MC would be falling for the detective.

Also, I had no idea that Iowians were so concerned about punctuality. I know a few who missed that memo.

Recommendation: Borrow it and be thankful that your vacation isn't a wild as this one proves to be.

Other books read in March

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

What I've Really Been Up To

My posting of original content has slacked off. Half of that is due to the number of books I read last month. Really, people, if I post 5 days of the week and read 12 books that only means I have to have thoughts on 8-10 regular days. Considering how often I steal ideas from other people, I don't even really need to do that.

In my will, I'm going to include a provision for someone to "own" my login name and password so all of those brillant posts I'm saving will finally be released. Won't that make the world a better place?

The other half for slacking on the original posting is well, I've been busy writing. Yeah, I know. A wannabe novelist spending time writing. But it's true. Here's the numbers to prove it.

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
37,402 / 92,000

But that's not the cool thing. The cool thing is that Tonight I Broke the 100 Page Mark. Which is totally noteworthly and worth typing in all capital letters. If I had my super cool Excel tracking sheet in front of me, instead of my crib notes, I could tell you how many words I've written in April. Or this week. Or since the first of the year. Or since starting...oh, wait.

Thanks for letting me share. Not that you had a choice or anything.

What the hell is up with that funky graph? you ask. Well, I say, it's called styles and me not knowing how to adjust them inside of the blog post to get rid of the funky table lines that are ruining the brillance of it. I'll work on it. Maybe.

Fashionably Late by Beth Kendrick

Title: Fashionably Late

Author: Beth Kendrick

Genre: Chick Lit

Summary: A designer decides to have her teenage rebellion later in life and moves to LA to hit the streets to peddle her wares.

The Take-Away: Cute and sweet. One thing that was different about this title, that I really liked were two issues the author tackled head on: pregnancy and ex-boyfriends that don't go away.

Minor plot spoiler. Fair warning

The pregnancy came after an the sister's ideal wedding to a perfect man who loses his job for doing the right thing. She is crazed with hormones and thinks through scenarios that float through every woman's mind, but few probably admit. I admire her taking on such an enormous topic.

The ex-boyfriend is more like a finance, who won't go away. He refuses to recognize that the relationship is over. Neither will anyone else. They keep waiting for the MC to come to her sense. Again, something that is true to life, but seldom seen in books.

Recommendation: Borrow it from the library for a rainy afternoon.

Other books read in March

Monday, April 17, 2006

Timeline by Michael Crichton

Title: Timeline

Author: Michael Crichton

Genre: Fantasy

Summary: A team of archeologists specializing in 14th century France use quantum physics to travel back in time to rescue the director of their dig.

The Take-Away: The plot was fantastic as was the premise. Quantum physics is an exploding field of study that leaves wide holes for authors to drive their plots into. It is a daunting undertaking, however, and Mr. Crichton handles it well.

That being said, I did have two major problems with the book, both of which I'm willing to over look given, A) everything else was fantastic and B) the topics he covers are huge.

A ton of information needs to be conveyed since the average reader doesn't have a basic knowledge of archeology or quantum physics. In writer speak, this is called an info dump. They are handled well, in the sense that he used dialogue for them. Most of it occurs very natural and between characters who have a purpose outside of the exchange of information except during the info dump for the archeology portion of the novel. A set of characters was created just for this purpose. I feel like they are still hanging out there, waiting to find out why the main characters disappeared.

My second issue related to their explanation of how quantum physics works. I might have missed something in it, but I ran my theory by Word Nerd and she had the same issue with it.

Basically, time travel is possible because the travel is not through time but to another universe that is at the same time as our history. If that is the case, a note for help, couldn't not have been left in the past, because it wasn't our past, but another world's past.

That might make more sense if you've read the book.

Again, I'm willing to suspend my disbelief because everything else works. And I like the entertainment value of Michael Crichton's books.

Recommendation: Read it and let me know what you think of about his views on quantum physics.

Other books read in March

Friday, April 14, 2006


Reading is obviously important to me. If you've followed my blog at all, I'm sure you picked up on that. Otherwise, my records are here and they are quite intimidating, one might say.

The Madison Area Literary Council has me beat. They are having a 24-hour read-a-thon to raise money to improve literacy skills.

I wonder if they'd like to have a satellite group in Oshkosh? I bet I could find a few people willing to read.

The event is spelled out in more detail at their webpage - Literacy 24/7. If you are in the Madison Area, I hope you consider it.

Did you know that literacy is one of those words that looks funny if you type it too much?

Petty Treason by Madeline Robins

Title: Petty Treason

Author: Madeline Robins

Genre: Mystery

Summary: Sarah Tolerance is hired to find a murderer in a locked house.

The Take-Away: Madeline Robbins plotting is fantastic. She takes a good story, adds layers and depth that I never expect, and keeps her characters real.

Recommendation: Read it, but start with Point of Honor.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Random Thrills during Parenting

A while ago, the 2yo (who doesn't have clever nickname yet like Ollie) was sitting on my lap, eating Ritz crackers. He was sort of lounging and had his left foot crossed over his right knee. He looked at his toes and decided that the space between the big toe and the next would be a good holding spot for his crackers. Then he proceeded to twist his foot around and eat the cracker while being held between his toes.

It was funny, granted, but usually, when he does something that out of whack, he looks around first to see if someone is paying attention to him. He didn't this time. It was purely a, I think this is a good idea, action, and not a, let's make people laugh reaction.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Charlie All Night by Jennifer Crusie

Title: Charlie All Night

Author: Jennifer Crusie

Genre: Chick Lit

Summary: A radio producer is determined to make her new 10 pm to 2 am host a hit.

The Take-Away: Alice (or Allie) is determined make Charlie a hit while he is equally determined to figure out who sent a threatening letter. The radio in question is associated with a drug ring. The publication date is 1996 and the novel does seem a bit dated, but the writing isn't. It's a fun, fast read that makes you think, Gosh, were we really like that?

Recommendation: Borrow it from the library inbetween reading Ivanhoe and Great Gatsby.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Google Me

It's fun, it's easy. You'll find this blog and probably some comments I've made on the way. Oh, wait. Don't read that one.

Stop it, really. I was angry and it doesn't sound right.

I'm sure you are wondering which comment I mean, and there probably isn't a good example, but I'm trying to make a point here.

If you use your real name, or a known sobriquet, you will be found.

Agent Kristin wrote a fantastic post about this problem here.

The internet seems like a big, wide open space where one can be free to write one’s opinions.

Just remember, it’s not so big a world when you are using your real name.

It might not be Grandma or that eccentric aunt, but an agent or editor. Perhaps they are a lurker and you just queried them. Consequences, people.

The whole post is worthwhile and should be read before making any comment in anger or despair.

Or at least, convince you to start using a nickname.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Confessions of Super Mom by Melanie Lynne Hauser

Title: Confessions of Super Mom

Author: Melanie Lynne Hauser

Genre: Chick Lit

Summary: After a horrible Swiffer accident, Birdie discovers that she has super powers - for cleaning.

The Take-Away: The tag is Chick Lit, but technically, it should be fantasy. How often do you combine bleach and amonia and not have bad things happen? Thankfully for Ms Hauer's fans, it wasn't the typical results.

Super Mom has a similar rocky start as most super heros (think Spiderman and Batman) but is way cooler. She can clean anything. I'd love it if I had a freaky accident that left me with that as a super power.

When agents and editors ask for "same, but different" Ms Hauser understood.

Recommendation: Buy it and tell your friends to do the same.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Ransom Note

To the Borrower of Book 3 of the Weather Warden Series by Rachel Caine:

In case you haven't been reading any of your customary blogs, this book is hot. Word Nerd has started me on the series and I cannot wait until the April 11th due date to have it back.

Oh, yes, I'm fluent in the systems provided at the local library and have Book 3, Chill Factor on reserve.

Maybe we can come to terms. Afterall, I'm a reasonable person, in spite of any blog posts to the contrary. I have something that you want.

Yep, Book 4, Windfall.

The system betrayed me and gave me Book 4 before Book 3. I've been tolerant and added it to my "To Be Read" pile. But my patience is at an end.


If you are interested in arranging a trade, email me.


The Holder of Book Four

Thursday, April 06, 2006


Fictional Musing has some fantastic shorts from published and unpublished authors. Something new every couple of days and worth bookmarking. Kelly Parra is doing a fantastic job recruiting talented authors for this site.

Flashing in the Gutters is the raw, dark, edgy side of life. I don't read as many of those.

Both sites are open to submissions. Read a few entries and write some flash for either one.

Recently, Fictional Musings hosted a contest. Pieces of 80 words or less were posted. The theme was "doorway." Word Nerd submitted and so did I. Stop over and read the other entries as well.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Captain Alatriste & Purity of Blood by Arturo Perez-Reverte

Title: Captain Alatriste and Purity of Blood

Author: Arturo Perez-Reverte

Genre: Historical

Summary: The exploits of an esteemed soldier of the Spanish Armies are told through the eyes of his now grown ward.

The Take-Away: The narrator is now an old man, relating tales he saw or overheard when he was 13 or 14, about his guardian, Captian Alatriste. In the second novel, the narrator (whose name I can't remember and the library wanted their copy back) plays an vital role in the plot. He takes a wandering path to tell his story using flashback and foreshadowing.

I confess, this was difficult for me to read, especially the first book. It was out of my normal reading, while varied, doesn't often cross cultural boundaries. It is also a translation from Spanish. Most likely it was my brain not processing well.

I am going to wait for book three, but not with as much anticipation as Word Nerd most likely is.

Recommendation: Try it out, but do keep in mind that I liked the second installation better than the first.

Bonus Review: Word Nerd's review of Captain Alatriste and Purity of Blood.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Inspiration to Keep Trying

Larissa Ione has gone through hell, yet found The Value of Lemons

But finally, I got an editorial nibble with a manuscript submitted to Mills and Boon, where the editors liked it enough to request revisions. Then came another round of revisions. And line edits! This was IT! I just knew it. I worked my butt off to make that book perfect, and I sent it back to M&B in July of 2005.

In August of that same year, my life was turned upside-down by hurricane Katrina. I lost my house, most of my possessions, and several manuscripts that I hadn’t downloaded before evacuation. It was a devastating blow and the beginning of a nightmare that, to this day, has not ended.

I cannot wait to read one of her books. I've read various blog posts, but this one convinced me to add her to the list.

And not to give up. Thanks, Larissa.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Bookworm Report, March 2006

Well, I think I really stretched my reading this month. I stepped into some genres I wouldn't have ever looked at without prompting from friends. I found a couple of new series that I love. And I read too much, again.

What's on the list this time?

Bookworm Review
Year Pages Books
2001 5,047 20
2002 1,819 5
2003 562 2
2004 1,881 5
2005 3,634 11
2006 4,624 14

For the year, I've read 37 books, or 11,788 pages, which averages to 12 books a month, or 3,929 pages per month, and an average book length of 319 pages.

I'd like to say that things will change once the weather gets warmer, but I've already finished two books this weekend. Granted, I did start one of them in March, but even still. The bad weather and a cold kept me inside much of the weekend. And the author kept me intrigued. Compelling reasons to keep reading.

Less of Me, March 2006

Baby steps, really, but I do notice that my clothes are fitting better. That makes a difference, right?

Less of Me
Month Change To Go
Jan - 30
Feb +1.06 31.58
Mar -0.71 30.40
Apr - 30
May - 30
Jun - 30
Jul - 30
Aug - 30
Sep - 30
Oct - 30
Nov - 30
Dec - 30

First Post