Archive for May 31st, 2012

Scrivener and the MFA

I may have mentioned it before, but if not here’s a catch-up. I’m starting to use Scrivener for my writing projects. I first found out about it from a post by Charles Stross some time ago, and I began experimenting with it just after I completed my MA – downloaded the application in January of 2011, I think.

I tinkered with it and loaded some existing projects into it and like the gifted writer procrastinator that I am, let it all si, going back occasionally to fiddle with some of the views and oooh and ah over the workspace, but never did much actual, you know, work. To many options, and while the very basic operations are intuitive, getting some of the other settings positioned for how I might want to work wasn’t (entirely).

Then, I finally decided to commit to actually start using the software, got the “My-Tips-For-Using-Scrivener” ebook by David Hewson and really started to fiddle with some of the settings – realizing that some of what I was trying to do was really a lot easier than I thought – and have gotten to the point where I have a general template for my (intended) longer projects.

The only catch is going to come with the sharing of material for workshopping. The preferred format is a Word file (for adding comments electronically), which an export to Word is entirely feasible option (both will just involve a quick learning curve – how to export and how to insert comments in Word).

Over the last couple of weeks, with a template in place, I’ve been starting to integrate a couple of the older projects I’ve been sitting on into a proper Scrivener set-up (read – break apart into component scenes/moments) – which is really the part I was dreading the entire time.

In all, I can’t help but recommend the software… it might take a little bit to get used to it, but it really does help with many aspects of managing a writing project.

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What are Fictional Echoes?

[Originally written 5/2007]
Welcome to the “new” home…. a pseudo-temporarily-permanent location for writing projects, doodles and “stuff”. When I started “Echoes Americana” – in concept, then in reality, years ago… part of the plan was for it to be a place where I could throw out some “literary doodles”, as a means to track my growth and refinement as a writer. The original “Echoes” is, has been, and will continue to be a “daily posting” of sorts… a writer’s diary and general “updates” on things life in general (an online journal, of sorts).

 Here, however, will be where I experiment. First and foremost, unless I specifically state something to the contrary, anything that is stated in a post should be taken with a grain of salt… Just because something may say “I” did something, it could be in context of character. When in doubt, check how the post is labeled… “Fiction” should be in most of the ones that will pop up… or, when in doubt, ask.

 The other major disclaimer: I cannot and will not guarantee a “PC” or child friendly site… In the context of writing, or maintining character, language may be used or scenes may eventually develop that may not be “happy” reads or clean reads… (I’m not saying that there WILL be a lot of those styles of scenes, either, but well…. this IS the disclaimer!! :o)

 Periodically, I may also open up the floor for ideas to be submitted (a sort of “Whose Line…” style) to create something else… we shall see…

 For now, however, welcome to my tangents, twists and tumultuously timed tinkerings… (blessed be the alliteration :o) Just make sure you turn the lights out and lock up when you’re done.

[Updated 5/31/2012]
“Fictional Echoes” will be going live, again (for the first time here), starting tomorrow (1 June). For now, it will be a bi-weekly Friday thing with some of the older entries coming back to life first, then new pieces to follow. Any previous entry will be listed (much like this one) “Originally Written on <date>”. For those that may have seen them before, here’s your chance to read them again and easily access them in the future. For those that may be finding these for the first time, enjoy!

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Book Pimping…

Not mine, not yet, but here’s a couple of books I’m looking forward to over the next couple of months.

Redshirts, by John Scalzi (image from [Out 5 June]

Something that confused me when I first heard the subtitle (“A Novel with Three Codas“) was,”What the hell is a coda in fiction?” My musical experience, rusty as it is, knew it would suggest more stuff at the end, but I was confused as to the implementation in fiction, not (knowingly) experienceing it before.

With the release date less than a week away, Scalzi explains the structure here, with the key takeaway information being this:

The “codas” in this case are three short stories presented after the novel, which offer some additional perspective on the events of the novel. The novel itself is a complete story — you can read just the novel part and have a complete narrative arc, plot and character resolution and so on. But the complete experience of Redshirts, the book, includes the three stories at the end. The three stories at the end aren’t throwaway bits; the three stories at the end matter.

The Apocalypse Codex, Charles Stross (image from Ace/Penguin) [Due 3 July]

It’s too early for Charlie to have started driving the pre-release bandwagon, so the only real notes for it are here.

My thoughts: It’s the 4th book in the Laundry series, which is a type of Bond-meets-Lovecraft, where the role of Bond is played by an IT Specialist. I enjoyed the first two in the series (after I was introduced to them by a friend), and have had a signed copy of Book 3 (The Fuller Memorandum) sitting on my stack to read since shortly after it was released a couple of years ago.

Incentive to finally read book 3? Coming in July.



Rapture of the Nerds by Cory Doctorow & Charles Stross (image from Tor/MacMillen) [Due 4 Sept]

Again with the “too early for pre-sale bandwagon”, so you’ll have to settle for the blurb here.

Why I am interested: Besides the two authors? I read their collaborative story Unwirer and thought it worked well. I first heard of the project at a signing Cory did a couple of years ago (promoting For the Win). It turns out this is a compilation of two previous, related, collaborative shorts written by Doctorow & Stross with a third one written to finish the story arc. The first two had previously been published online at SyFy (or SciFi) years ago, but I was unable to track them down after first hearing of the project.

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In Which A(nother) Decision Is Made….

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The dilemma is this: I’ve always wanted to do a study abroad, and with the acceptance to Glasgow I would get not just a semester but a full degree… from the UK! And a top 100 school in the WORLD! But at what cost? (Literally – the financial angle is the key item here.)

So here’s the decision that MC and I have talked about and finally came down to.

Defer, for a year, then reassess.

In other words, spend the next year-ish trying to flush out as many scholarship options as possible – anything that could help take the edge off of the anticipated financial outlay for the time over there. At the same time, try to track down  information on Graduate Assistantships and how getting one might impact the cost of attendance (I’ve heard that there is an application process when rising to the 2nd year, but the true concern is, if selected, is there a tuition brake or waiver, and what the pay is like (roughly)).

I emailed the university earlier in the week about a possible deferral and they are willing, but onlyup to one academic year (start in Sept 2013, or I would have to reapply). I have also been using the power of the internet to start looking up other sources of information so MC and I can have as accurate and well-rounded a picture of what we would be facing and how we might need to (psychologically) prepare for a move, if the financial side pans out.

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