Revisiting Voice Recognition

As I prepare for Ever Touched’s release and what comes after (hint: a lot!), I’m pondering using voice recognition software to write again.

(Some of Ever Touched was written using Dragon Naturally Speaking when I found myself with a severe tendonitis flare up and no time to take off.)

I’m no stranger to Dragon. I started using it back in 2003 (version 6) when I thought I had carpal tunnel syndrome. Ergonomics wasn’t much of a thing back then; I wrote until my wrists damn near fell off. Oops? And it worked well — after I got past the whole “talk to write” idea and got into a groove. My intention was to do it all the time, but between the bulky headset that gave me headaches and a longing to just type, I ended up quitting, only using it when absolutely necessary. Which is fine…if I didn’t want to get more books out there which means faster drafting. Fast drafting (say, more than 1,000 words a day) is impossible due to my wrists. I barely finished my amended Nano goal in 2015 (30k) because typing 1,000 words a day for 30 days was hurting me (it’s cumulative).

(For the curious: I didn’t have carpal tunnel, just severe tendonitis that could turn into carpal tunnel. It was a wake up call. And I’m up to Dragon version 13 now. Every version gets better. They claim now it is something like 96% accurate without training.)

I’ve despaired forever over this. And I … Continue reading

The Smallest of All Steps

Happy New Year, friends! I think the world in general has had quite enough of 2016. Here’s hoping for better things in 2017.

On a personal writerly level, I had a very mixed year. I released my first published novel (co-authored with Kit), which was amazing, and then dove into a months-long promotional campaign for it, which was interesting and educational and sometimes fun, but not so amazing. (Except the two book launches. Those were pretty neat.) One of my co-workers at the day job bought my book recently, and today she walked past and waved it at me with a bookmark in it. That was also pretty neat.

But the promo campaign has been over for months, and I’ve written almost nothing since.

You may or may not be a writer, but I’m sure you know this about habits: if you let them drop, the longer you’ve been away from them, the harder it is to pick them up again. They start to feel big and scary and insurmountable.

I’ve fallen into that trap before. For months. And writer who are not writing? Not the most pleasant people to be around, let me tell you. For starters, they tend to mope around and complain of existential angst, while their family members (and sometimes, the writers themselves) wonder why they can’t be content with normal diversions and enjoyable things like regular people, or alternatively, how it can be so hard to make stuff up with one’s brain. … Continue reading

Standard Operating Procedure

I’m office manager at a school for children with autism. That title may be a little misleading, as I don’t really manage the office. I am the office. Just me, little old me, and the director, who couldn’t find a pen if it was in his pocket (it usually is, and it’s usually not his) and who generally has about seventeen things going at once, none of which in any way involves following those pesky ~rules~ set up by HR or Payroll or Accounts Payable.†

With any school, it’s important that no matter who is sick or absent or distracted, things keep going. When you’re talking about a school for kids on the spectrum, it becomes a bit more imperative. Breaks in routine are Not. Good.

So recently when the boss was telling someone how I’m awesome, that I’m office manager, receptionist, nurse, occasional janitor, sometime maintenance tech, and all the while somehow manage to keep him mostly in line so HR doesn’t come hunting him with torches, and that without me the whole school would fall down–I appreciated it, but I also decided it should not all depend on me. I’m human. I get sick. And sometimes I need a vacation. So I started collecting my checklists and notes on how things work into a Standard Operating Procedure Manual. Kind of like this except not so formal. So if I ever needed to, you know, not go to work, the entire school wouldn’t fall down while I lolled around … Continue reading

Bad Habits are Hard to Break. Good Habits? Not So Much.

They say it takes twenty-eight days to make something a habit. I think that must be for normal people.

I wear sunglasses. Not cute little fashionable sunglasses, but big, cover everything, I want to preserve my eyes sunglasses. I rarely go outside without them, and I never drive without them. At home they hang safely on my closet door. On the go, they hang from my neck or sit on my head. When I get to work, I take them off, wrap the cord around them, and put them carefully in the back pocket of my purse, which holds nothing else so I don’t accidentally scratch my sunglasses.

Except sometimes, very rarely, I take them off, carefully wrap the cord, and set them on top of my computer tower instead. Pretty much every time I do that, I forget them and have to go back—sometimes unlocking the gate I just locked, unlocking the front door, turning off the alarm I just set…

Three times I’ve had over a hundred days in a row on 750words.com and then blown it. Just didn’t write anything one day. Two other times, I was over two hundred days when I blew it! Yet if I drive up a certain street in Tucson while thinking of other things, I may well drive to my old house that I haven’t lived in for two years and not notice until I’m turning into the driveway.

In short, I need to find a way to break the habits I … Continue reading