Thursday, August 31, 2017

Editing:::Writing Retreat at Moon Shade Hollow Day 4

It rained all night, which made the insomnia almost pleasant. Craig didn't want to prop the doors open (as I tend to do at home when it rains) because mosquitoes consider him a rare delicacy and behave accordingly. So I made do with having a few windows open all night for the coolness and the lovely sound of the rain.

I gave up on sleep pretty early on last night (even watching a subtitled crime series in Icelandic didn't make me drowsy) and did some work instead. I got some glitches on this blog sorted out, streamlined my new posting process, and set up a bum-load of draft posts that just need "the words part" so I can hit the "publish" button.

Now you know my secret: I don't actually blog, I write.

(I would say something cynical about Blogger and their messing with my process, thus forcing me to come up with a new process, but that wouldn't be classy since I'm using their free platform.)

It's so quiet here that I find myself tiptoeing around even when Craig's not sleeping, and I have to remind myself to raise my voice a bit if I expect him to hear and understand me (especially when he's using earbuds to drown me out).

BTY, why is it called "tiptoeing" when you don't actually walk on your toes (that would be "en pointe")? Just wondering.

One of the things that lends The Little House to creative work is the lack of a functioning clock. There are two beautiful clocks, but neither of them are running. There are clocks on the stove and the coffee pot, but they both refuse to give me the correct time. It's not that I'm not aware of the time--it's displayed on every device I work on--but somehow when there's a clock prominently, incessantly, and even mutely announcing the time, my eyes automatically wander over to it more frequently than I care to admit.

One of the timeless clocks.

The lake and kayak were calling me after I'd been up for a bit, and I was seriously contemplating enjoying some on-the-water solitude. But I sent them both to voicemail when this happened:

I did some more work instead, with my "office" window open of course.

My totally chill work space.

I have to tip my hat to the designer and builder of this little gem of a cabin (Billy and his dad) for including a generous overhang on the roof. No matter where you are, you can open a window and not worry about the rain coming in (unless there are gale-force winds, in which case you really don't want the windows open anyway).

Although we got started a bit later than I intended (easy to do when you're up half the night writing), we spent the afternoon working. I'd gotten the manuscript draft 95% completed yesterday and we decided to do a read-through. Craig was on his laptop at the breakfast counter reading aloud, and I was in my totally chill work space making corrections and notes as we went.

Reading aloud is a technique used by editors to check for flow and awkward phrasing (and other highly technical stuff that might confuse the average mortal), but I'd never considered having the author read their own manuscript. Craig intends to make an audiobook of the finished manuscript in addition to the e-book and paperback, so the benefits of the read-aloud are twofold (or threefold). Four eyes and ears are better than two. Since we both wear glasses, I guess that's eight eyes and four ears.

Craig multi-devicing.

At home, Craig's process involves taping pages to the wall in the living room and/or kitchen. I'm not entirely sure how that works, but he brought his particular brand of mojo along with him to the cabin. (Don't worry, he uses painter's tape so the wall surface isn't marred.)

Craig's process, plus a map of the Appalachian Trail

Here are a few more details of The Little House before I move on. Billy's father was a master of marquetry, and there are about a dozen of his masterpieces prominently scattered around the cabin. And not just on the walls (more on that later), so you have to keep your eyes peeled to find them all.

Marquetry: elaborate wood inlay to create a pattern.

I particularly love the simplicity of this arrangement and the statement it makes. It makes one wonder if these tools were used to build this cabin.

Tools of the trade.

We're still getting rain on and off, so we're mostly staying inside the cabin. Ahhh...the sacrifices we make for our craft. ;)

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IPod Case Redux

A long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, people had iPods. No, really. They did.

Back when I actually had an iPod (which was not as long ago as you might think since I'm a Late Adopter), I got this little black case to hold my device and earbuds. It worked great. Until I no longer had an iPod.

Don't ask me why I kept it because I don't know. I'm not one to hold onto STUFF once it's outlived its usefulness or stops giving me pleasure (don't go there). But, there it sat in my bedside-table drawer (again, don't ask me why) for years until I randomly rescued it from oblivion (I just can't bring myself to comment on that particular design bomb).

The Little Black Case enjoying time in The Little House

What do I use it for now? My iPhone certainly doesn't fit into the main compartment (they just keep getting bigger, and bigger, and bigger, don't they?). The smaller outer compartment is supposed to hold your earbuds all nicely looped up so they don't get tangled.

What could possibly fit in here?

Even when I'm not on a writing retreat, when I'm editing (and other times as well) I move from device to device as I work. I've got my desktop for the heavy lifting and for tasks that don't work well on a mobile device, my tablet for lighter work (first-run edits, reading newsletters and blogs, some correspondence, and writing), and my phone for keeping track of what I'm "supposed" to be doing, communication with the outside virtual world, and looking stuff up (mostly Merriam-Webster's dictionary and Wikipedia). And occasionally playing certain app-based games and puzzles when I need a brain break.

So, throughout the day I find myself migrating from my desk, to the loveseat, to the comfy chair (all in my office), and sometimes even to the kitchen. And there are all those little things that I need to have on hand in each spot. You know, the stuff that gets lost between the loveseat cushions and drives you crazy because you need it and it's sitting there quietly taunting you ("You can't find me, you can't find me, nanny nanny booboo"). 

Solution: The little stuff goes in this cute little black case, and the black case goes in the pocket of my favorite cargo shorts (that's a topic for another day). In the case are earbuds, small post-it notes, an ergonomic pen, and a small stylus (yes, I know, dinosaur).

Before you start chastising me for using earbuds because they isolate everyone from everyone else, allow me to point out one of the best aspects of using them: concentration. This has been made apparent to me on this trip thanks in large part to Craig.

Craig has a tendency to occasionally get temporarily diverted in the middle of a conversation or task. Just as we've been doing at The Bear Den for several years, when I want to gently point out that he's off topic I just say "squirrel." Then he blushes prettily and we get back on track.

I think Craig may be getting tired of hearing me say "squirrel," because he's spending a lot of time with his earbuds in. I don't know if he's completely concentrating on the task at hand, but he's getting his homework done and we're not "squirreling" each other (yes, I did just use a rodent as a verb).

Conclusion: It's not the tool that's the problem, it's the way the tool is used (like you've never heard that before). If you've got a tool that's not serving you, find a way to make it serve you.

Hopping off the soapbox now...

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Editing::Writing Retreat at Moon Shade Hollow Day 3

Work, work, work. That's all I do around here. ;)

But, seriously, Craig and I spent nearly the entire day in The Little House with fingers flying over keyboards and mice flashing across pads. (Well, Craig is working on his laptop, so technically he doesn't have a mouse.)

We did take a short break to visit the dock before the rain started in earnest.

The rare and illusive Mo, captured on film for the first time in years.

With Hurricane Harvey finally breaking up and moving out of Texas and surrounding areas, Georgia got a nice, quiet, steady rain. It wasn't until after sunset that the rain became solid enough to make a delightfully comforting, steady sound on The Little House's roof.

(That's not actually the moon, but looks kind of like it.)

Oh, yeah. Work. Craig finished his homework, and I managed to get all of the new material incorporated into the manuscript (Hawaii was a bitch and took more than her share of my attention.)

The sole agenda tomorrow is a complete read-through (or as nearly as we can manage) of the manuscript with me making corrections and notes as we go. The next phase once I return to The Real World is a full edit.

I feel I should mention that Craig has been the "wife" on this working vacation. He did all the meal planning and shopping in preparation, and has cooked every meal since we've been here and cleaned up after half of them.

My nemesis

To my credit, I did manage to figure out how to use the intimidating and poorly designed coffee maker, and I walked up to The Big House to fetch some ground coffee. (Why is it "ground coffee" indicates "before brewing" and "coffee grounds" indicates after brewing? They're the same bloody words.)

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Editing::Writing Retreat at Moon Shade Hollow Day 2

Last night, I set out my game plan for today. Craig had the punch list I make up for him and was ready for some serious (squirrel!) work. I had a few administrative things to attend to, but most of the day was dedicated to rewriting the new material Craig was creating.

Morning view from the Dock

But that doesn't mean I couldn't take a bit of time to myself to enjoy paddling around the lake before I got to work this morning.

The Dock

We got a LOT of work done. Kit and I drove to Lawrenceville to attend an Xperience Connections networking event hosted by Carole Cheatam while Craig stayed "home" to continue with his homework. It was my third meeting and Kit's first. Kit's presentation was met with enthusiasm, and we both made some nice connections.

By the time we got back to Moon Shade Hollow (about 11 pm), Craig had finished 3/4 of his homework and was taking a nap.

The Big House

Tomorrow will be a full, uninterrupted (I hope) day of writing, rewriting, and editing. My goal is for the manuscript to be complete by the end of the day so we can spend Thursday doing a full readthrough with notes.

Fingers crossed.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Editing::Writing Retreat at Moon Shade Hollow Day 1

Craig Sotkovsky and I drove up to Moon Shade Hollow for a writing retreat. We're so close to getting the first draft of his memoir completely finished, one last push should do it. We chose The Little House for our labor of love. (See what I did there?)

Even after the one hour drive, settling in, visiting with Kit and Billy, and dinner, I was pleasantly surprised how much work we got done. I worked up a punchlist of Craig's homework (sections that needed to be written) and organized my approach for tomorrow.

The fellow who greeted us when we the bathroom

P.S. Be sure to click the link and choose "view photos" so you can be totally jealous you're not here.

Homemade Gas Mask

Michael set about making a gas mask to protect his eyes when he's cutting onions (he cooks a lot) and his nose from barking spiders (farts). He worked through several iterations to get something that works.

Prepared for any number of noxious fumes.

It works.

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Monday, August 21, 2017

Tree Eclipsed

For weeks everyone has been agog about the solar eclipse. Special Solar Eclipse Viewing Glasses were being sold in grocery stores and other retail outlets. There was a panicked rush to YouTube to find instructions for making Homemade Solar Eclipse Viewing Boxes when the Solar Eclipse Viewing Glasses sold out.

Being a good homeschooling family, David took up the challenge and helped the boys build some Homemade Solar Eclipse Viewing Boxes. Then we headed to our local park for a bit of sun gazing.

The Homemade Solar Eclipse Viewing Boxes were a bust, but Michael had brought along his welding goggles (don't ask why he has welding goggles), and those worked pretty well. I did manage to get a picture...of the sun, not really the eclipse. The horizon line must be an optical illusion.

I did NOT look directly at the sun. My phone did.

The most interesting part of the eclipse for me was the shadows being cast by the tree leaves. They were all crescent-shaped and looked three-dimensional.

Not the surface of the moon.

That bit of science lesson being concluded, we headed back home. The only question I have is, what is everyone going to do with their special Solar Eclipse Viewing Glasses?

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