A “New” Laptop Computer

Once upon a time, my desktop computer was a monster gaming system. It could power through Stormwind without so much as a flutter of lag. But that was more than two children ago, and one of those children is now in kindergarten.

Electronics simply don’t have that long of a life-cycle. So, I knew it was time to upgrade the computer over a year ago when it was running slow while I was browsing for winter coats for my daughters.

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I don’t want a new computer. Not really.

I saved up and bought a really nice Alienware laptop. I figured this would last me another seven years or so.

When it arrived, it was huge. Much bigger than I expected. My husband teased me a little, asking me what I did expect when I bought the largest screen they had available. Well of course I bought the largest. I want to be able to see it, don’t I? Especially as I’m spoiled at work with not one but two massive monitors that take up most of my desk.

But along with the large monitor came a lot of weight.

Not the best thing in a laptop, but this computer was never leaving my house, so not a big deal.

The track screen was also inconveniently located and quite large. My hand kept accidentally swiping it, and I’d end up typing hallway across the screen typing where I didn’t want to be typing. I solved that by purchasing a wireless mouse and keyboard for when I write as that’s the only time it bothers me.

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Classy set-up.

The big hang-up was any new laptop had to come with Windows 10 installed on the machine, and I struggled with the operating system. I just wanted to open the new computer, load my files, and go. But I couldn’t. It wasn’t that easy, especially on this new operating system.

So, I did what any writer with a full time day job would do. I stuck the new laptop in a corner, used it only when I had to, and kept using the old machine.

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And prayed.

Not ideal, I know. But I was much more interested in writing and editing than I was in messing with a new operating system. And, I figured we’d eventually get it at work, and I’d have to learn it anyway.

Only, we didn’t.

Then, my desktop’s main fan stopped working.

We tinkered with it, but it was dead.

A few days later, it started making strange noises.

Yeah, it was time to put aside my writing, move the desktop computer to an out-of-the-way location, and give the laptop the spot on my desk. Then I had to transfer files. And try to remember all my passwords for all the websites I frequent. And reinstall basic software like iTunes.

So, yeah, that took a whole day, and the laptop and I are still figuring each other out.

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Gratuitous Cute Cat

Combine all of this with how hectic things are at my day job, and I’ve not been nearly as productive as I would like.

But things should get back to normal here soon, and I should still be on track to get Crown Prince released this year.

How about you? Ever do a computer switch-over that didn’t go well? Or at least didn’t go as planned? What happened? How did you handle it?

6 Reasons We Love Dragons

Dragons and Sandworms

We train them, we fear them, and we mother them. Dragons have captured our imaginations.

We all know the real reasons we all love Daenerys Targaryen: Drogon, Rhaegal and Viserion.

So why do we love dragons so much? Here are six reasons.

 

6 Reasons We Love dragons. 

1. Flying Mounts

Yes, you get to ride them. They might be as large as a house or the size of a mountain. Doesn’t matter. I can’t think of a cooler ride.

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Just wait until season 5 when she rides him.

 

2. Power

Dragons are frequently depicted as strong and powerful, much like the alpha male trope, just scalier. If you’re writing a D&D adventure, the dragon is always the final encounter. If you’re playing a video game, the dragon is that unbeatable end boss that an NPC can call a false deity with a straight face.

 

3. Epic

A dragon promises an epic story. Little things like armies do not slow them. They are the ultimate ally or the greatest foe. You can’t introduce a dragon into a story in a small way. There is nothing mightier than being the Dragonborn, or the Mother of Dragons, or the Dragon Rider.

You know you’re in trouble when this dragon comes out

4. Magical 

Whether casting spells, deflecting them, or breathing fire, dragons are inherently creatures of magic. This feeds back into the power of point 2 above, but it’s more than that. There is nothing mundane or boring about a dragon.

 

5. Ruthless

Dragons play by their own rules. They are going to achieve their ends, even if it means centuries of manipulation. They are not bound by the concepts of good and evil as mere mortals are.

 

6. Romantic

They may be an ancient force for good or for evil, but they usually possess an ancient wisdom and mysticism. Not much more romantic than that.

 

What do you think? Do you love dragons? Why or why not? What are some of your favorite ones?

Progress Report

I thought I’d give a quick progress report for where things are in my preparations to launch To Love a Prince.

Butterflies with acid wings keep flitting through my stomach as I write this, so here’s hoping nothing goes awry!

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Now imagine that’s acid on their wings!

1. Cover

I found a cover artist without a six month wait list. I really liked her sample work, and I the butterflies got worse when I saw her first draft. I’ve asked to change a few colors, but I still can’t believe I’ve seen a mock-up cover with my name on it!

 

2. ProWriting Aid

I’ve figured out more about how to make the program work for me. It’s a good program, BUT you still have to be smart about it. There could be things it doesn’t like you must learn to ignore. You are not going to make all of the red flags disappear, which drives my OCD a little crazy. At least I didn’t make them all disappear, and I was still happy with how much stronger my writing was.

3. Figured Out More About Scrivener

Scrivener is another fabulous program I’ve just started learning. It has so much depth and complexity that it can be overwhelming. But, it is a magnificent tool. I own Scrivener for Dummies, but I haven’t been patient enough to work through it. Still, I was able to use the book and Google to figure out how to do some things I want, and I was able to save those things as a custom setting. Nice.

4. Finished running To Love a Prince through Pro Writing Aid. Again.

Once I figured the program out a little more, I re-ran my novel through it. Took some time, but I think it was worth it.

5. Finished a Final Polishing Edit

I’m not sure I will ever be “done”, but I have to let go at some point. I’m hoping this is it.

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More zen than I’ve felt. Ever. But still feels pretty good to be polishing up a final draft.

6. Met with a Pro to Get Help on the Blurb

I know attractive covers get books read. You’re not going to click on a less-than-awesome cover most of the time. I also know blurbs get books read. Once a potential reader has clicked the cover, the blurb has to convince them they want to read it.

No matter how many times I wrote and rewrote the blurb, it was flat at best. Yeah, it told about the story, but it didn’t grip you. I think the help she gave me will result in a much stronger blurb. I’m hoping I can take what I learned and apply it to the next blurb.

Next step is to format the book for ebook and Createspace. I have read tutorials on doing this out of Scrivener, but I am really considering purchasing Vellum. I want the end result to look as professional as possible, especially after all eleven drafts it took to get the story as good as I could.

 Soon I’ll be trying to figure out how to launch a book. If you have any pointers on any of this, either as a writer or a reader, please share them!

6 Reasons I Dislike Audio Books

While I do love audio books, as I mentioned here, there are some things I don’t like about them, especially as I’ve been reading more of them.

Here are six reasons why.

 

Six Reasons I Don’t Like Audio Books

 

1. If I Miss Something, Going Back is a Pain

At least on my iPod (which is pretty ancient), it isn’t easy to go back a little to catch something I missed. And I do miss stuff as I’m usually listening while I’m doing something else (laundry, dishes, vacuuming). This tends to means I just miss stuff.

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Ipod still works and still plays audio books!

 

2. I Don’t Get as Much of the Story

I’m a visual learner. I’m mostly lucky that way as so much of our education system is designed for visual learners, but this does mean that I simply don’t process as much of the story listening to it as I would if I read it.

 

3. I Don’t Learn as Much

Reading is very enjoyable, but it also helps teach me to be a better writer. While the audio version still helps me with plot, pacing, and character development, it does a lot less for helping be get better at the mechanics of words on a page.

 

4. Sometimes I Don’t Want Expensive Electronic Devices with Me

You need electronics to play an audio book. As I get most of my audio books through Audible, I need a device to play it on. That means taking care of that device. Making sure you charged it the night before. Making sure you don’t drop it while on the treadmill. Making sure you’re careful with it while doing household chores.

Maybe I need to get some earbuds with memory built right into them. Does such a thing even exist? We live in the future with self-driving cars that talk to us (sarcastically if you have an iCar). It must exist. Though this would make going back to get catch up on the stuff I missed even harder.

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Back when devices stayed charged.

5. Annoying Narrator

Nothing worse than buying an audible book, and five minutes in, all you want is for the narrator to shut up because their voice is even more annoying than your whining toddler. This has happened to me. Twice.

 

6. Expense

Audible books are a lot more expensive than traditional ebooks. This means fewer books for the same budget, and that’s never good.

 

While I love audio books, there are also some serious drawbacks. I will still be reading the majority of books the old-fashioned way on my iPad.

How about you? Anything you dislike about audio books? Any tricks to keeping devices charged?

9 Ways to Trim Your Clothing Budget While Having More to Wear

Sounds counter-intuitive, doesn’t it. Trim your clothing budget, but still have more stuff to wear. I know, I write romance novels, but I still need stuff to wear. Especially to the day job. And while I’m a huge proponent of having nice things, I also need to save for retirement and putting two kids through college.

Here are the steps I’ve implemented over the last five years that have really helped me have something to wear when I open the closet, while spending less than I did before.

 

9 Ways to Trim Your Clothing Budget While Having More to Wear

 1. Practice One-In-One-Out

Most Americans have more clothing than they need, yet their closets don’t look like the neatly organized ones in romance movies. I can’t think of a single friend or family member whose closet isn’t full. Some bursting-the-seams full. With this in mind, it’s not too hard to agree to let something go for each new thing you bring home. Making yourself do it is another thing, but if you really want more to wear on less dollars, this is the first step.

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It’s why Closet-Maid made a fortune

2. If You Haven’t Worn It In a Year, Say Goodbye

You’ll hear this advice everywhere, and honestly, it’s good advice. If you didn’t choose to wear a piece of clothing this year, why will you choose it next year when it’s another year older and slightly more out-of-date? We can rail against the fashion industry all we want for creating demand by changing styles, but at the moment, it’s a fact of life. And pretty please don’t say you’re saving it for when you lose weight. Should you ever lose weight, you’re going to be celebrating with some fabulous new clothes, not wearing a slightly-out-of-date pilled sweater.

 

3. Buy for Your Climate

My spring and summer wardrobe is literally 1/3 of the size of my fall and winter wardrobe. Why? Because I’m lucky where I live to get three to four months of warm weather. And that’s warm by our standards. If you live in a mild four season climate, like when I lived in Seattle, you can layer a cardigan over a tee and be fine. Where I live now, we regularly have weeks on end where the high temperature doesn’t get above 8F/-13C.  Earlier this year, I was drove to work for three weeks straight when it was -4F/ -20C. Yes, I live in the frozen tundra. Best to dress for it. That means long underwear, heavy sweaters, and turtlenecks.

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At least snow is a good insulator.

4. Buy for Your Life

I love the look of pretty silk dresses. I also have two kids, two cats, and work in the frozen tundra. Not exactly conducive to this clothing choice, but I bought them anyway. After three years of hanging in my closet, and each having been worn no more than a handful of times, I consigned them. I hadn’t bought for my life. Every time I put one on, I dodged my kids to avoid peanut butter fingers. I had to put a blanket over my lap on my drive to work to keep warm. Suddenly, the wind off the lake mattered more than whether it meant I needed a heavier coat. And yes, I have three winter coats. Because the coat I need at 35F/ 2C is not the coat I need at 15F/-9C or the coat I need at -4F/-20C.

 

5. Buy at the Beginning of the Season

The best stuff is at the beginning of the season. It just is. This is the clothing the store buyers liked best and wanted rolled out first. I sort of get it. If they put their best offerings out first, you’re more likely to like them and keep coming back to the store. Buying early also means you have all season to wear it. So, you’re more likely to find better stuff that you’re going to love more and be less ready to swap out for something else. You’re practicing the one-in-one-out rule, right?

 

 6. Don’t Buy on Sale What You Didn’t Want at Full Price

I know this is hard. You see the $300 sweater clearance for $50. Of course you have to have it! Even if it is a strange puce color whose sleeves are a little too long and the v-neck a little too deep. But will you wear it? $50 spent on a sweater you’ll never wear is $50 you don’t have to toward that -4F/-20C coat.

 I love a bargain as much as the next person, but money spent on something I don’t wear isn’t a bargain.

How I Handle Sales:

a.  I make a wish list. Most stores have this feature on their website. Even if you shop in person, you can still put it on the online wish list.

b.  As my budget comes available, I buy the things I most want on my wish list.

c.  I only buy sale items if they are already on the wish list. If not, I move on. I didn’t want it before, and I can’t let sale goggles drain away my budget for stuff I really want.

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She clearly got it on sale.

7.  Buy the Best Quality You Can

If you start following the steps above, you’ll probably find that over time you have some extra money in your clothing in your budget. Use this to buy the best quality you can. There are certain retailers known for disposable clothing. The planet begs you not the shop there, and frankly, a $20 sweater probably isn’t going to look as nice as a sustainably sourced $150 sweater.

Yeah, it’s a huge price jump, but over time, you might keep and wear the heck out of the $150 sweater, and it’ll still be in your closet five years down the road, whereas you wore the $20 sweater 3 times and then got rid of it. In financial terms, you could consider this as cost-per wear. If wear the $20 sweater three times, your cost per wear is $6.67. But if you wear that $150 six times a year over five years, your cost per wear is $5. So, yeah, less expensive per wear and it looks nicer. Win-Win.

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I’ve tried recycled cashmere. It didn’t suck.

8. Learn a Little about Clothing Construction

For women’s clothes, cost does not always equal quality. Weird, I know, but there it is. Still, before you buy something and trade out something you already have, check the construction on it. Do the seams look sound? Is the sweater already pilling? I’d love to give you more on this, but I am just starting to learn about it. The one thing I’ve learned is some tees have an extra seam in the back. These tees cost more for the extra labor associated with it, but they are so much more flattering on me. I’m willing to pay more for them.

 9. Buy for the You Today

Whether it’s style, color, or size, buy for you. If you love it today, there’s a good chance you’ll still love it down the road. If not, that’s okay. Sometimes we make mistakes, and that includes with clothes. More than this, please buy clothes that fit you today. “Inspirational” stuff tends to be anything but, and even if you do one day fit them, will you still want them? Also, ignore the size on the tag. Buy what fits. Trying to squeeze into a small when you’re a medium sucks. I know. And I stopped getting rid of stuff after a year or two when I started buying stuff in the correct size.

How about you? Any tips or tricks to keeping your wardrobe under control, both size and budget wise? Anything you’d add? Maybe you think I am totally wrong on something?

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