Tag: WIP

Told You So, The Cloud, and Faith

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Told You So

Last weekend I lost digital information. Thankfully, not a lot of digital information. I’ve had a new laptop for a few months now so the majority of information I had on it was copied over from a memory stick. New information consisted of downloaded images, some research information, and about two months’ worth of writing. It could have been much worse. The writing was a short story that was quickly approaching novella length. Had it remained a short story, I might not have been so upset but it had taken on a life of its own and grew. I lost it and for most of Sunday, I was devastated.

Over the last two months, I kept getting messages to upgrade to Windows 10. Last Sunday I decided to try it. The first change I noticed after I completed the update was the lack of information in my documents. My first thought was what an idiot I was for not having any of it backed up somewhere else. I then had a panic attack for about fifteen minutes while sitting at my desk staring at an empty directory on the screen all while hearing imaginary voices tell me “I told you so.” It was probably a good thing they were imaginary voices or I might have flung the nearest available object toward those voices. That very well could have been a lamp, my computer, a book…

After I calmed down (yeah, right), I found a few websites that told me the files should be stored under a certain user directory and that is where I found them. Evidently I was not the only idiot to lose files after upgrading to Windows 10. I then “moved” them back to the documents folder. I had been given a second chance! For some reason, I had to reboot one more time for the install to be complete and the first thing I noticed after rebooting was the document file was empty again. So was the original user directory where I had found the missing files. I guess I should have “copied” them there. Or quickly backed them up. Hindsight is… never mind. Idiot.

I’ve lost things before. Physical things. Although I might have been upset at the time, I moved on knowing whatever I lost might reappear someday. Physical matter just doesn’t disappear all by itself. Except socks and I think I covered that once before.  When it comes to technology, I thoroughly understand mechanical things, most likely because I work in a mechanical world. Things don’t disappear. The digital world is something completely beyond my comprehension despite the fact that I depend on it for so much both at a professional and personal level.  I bet we all do.

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So, most of the tech savvy people I know and especially the IT people I work with would be asking me why I didn’t back up the data somewhere, or more importantly, why I was not backing it up each time I updated something. At a minimum, my WIP and a budget spreadsheet, both files I actively write to throughout the week. Great question and I have no answer.  It’s not like I didn’t have an opportunity to back everything up. For a few years, my wife had been urging me to back up the digital pictures we have but I always felt safe having them on the computer and I had backed them up to discs once. One day I took a look at how many digital photographs we had stored and realized the majority of pictures we have of our kids were on our computer. About a month before I got the new laptop, I bought an external hard drive and backed up every picture we had along with all our pictures from our phones. I should have backed up every directory and not just pictures.

The Cloud

There are other options too. When I got the new laptop, I opted to get a new version of Office. I looked online and thought I might try Office 365 which would continually give me access to the latest and greatest version of Office. It also pointed me towards other features I have never used: OneDrive. This is one of the advantages of having this particular package. Access from anywhere. Files and working documents stored in the cloud. Or is it on the cloud? Whatever. I was not going to use that feature.

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What the hell is the cloud? I don’t understand where I store information now and I can see the computer or memory stick or external hard drive it is being stored on. I can’t see the cloud. Well, that’s not completely true. I see clouds all the time, I just don’t see storing information there. Maybe the nomenclature itself resonates a not-so-secure connotation. A cloud is open and airy, here one moment then gone the next. Who was the marketing genius that came up with that name?

Faith

Then I had a vision. I use a cell phone. Both my television programming and internet service in my home come from two satellite dishes on my roof because that is all that we have available out where I live.  No cable, no DSL, no physical or hard wired connection other than the cables running from the two dishes into my house. I have a modem, a router, a network booster for our cell phones, something called a genie DVR that lets me watch shows I record on multiple televisions throughout the house.  I’m typing on a laptop this very moment, using Wi-Fi. I text my wife and kids all the time. I see the physical devices but I don’t see or understand how the data travels from one place to the other. But it does, and I have faith in that despite the fact I don’t truly understand it or, see it.

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My connections to information

Now for my WIP. Thankfully it was not the novel and I had a version of it still stored on our desktop computer, albeit a few months old and thousands of words lighter. There are greater tragedies right? I copied it back over to my laptop and with everything still fresh enough in my mind, I’ll be able to recover and get back to where I was. I also copied everything to our external hard drive. Lastly, I copied it to the cloud. Faith.

Lesson learned.

B

images courtesy of Pixabay, Amazon (I bought that drive so … great deal), and from mentioned drive

Fact, Fiction, or Both?

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“There’s an awful temptation to just keep on researching. There comes a point where you just have to stop, and start writing.”  –  David McCullough

I’ve ventured down that black hole we call research.  Although I’m not much of a betting man, I would bet that both new and established writers find themselves making the same journey.  Who can blame us? Many of us are perfectionists, many of us have set the bar too high based on our own perceived view of good writing, and many of us simply enjoy research.  Yes, yes, and yes. Regardless of the reason, and there are many, research can be just as much of a time suck as social media can be. But it’s so much fun.

So why am I lost in research? Maybe it’s because I work in a world of technical exacts. Deviations from those exacts can mean the difference between failure and success.  Design changes to current products or the introduction of new products go through rigorous evaluations and testing to ensure they meet the designed intent.  I could write with a level of authority when it comes to engineering or manufacturing and comfortably blend fact and fiction. Maybe I will at some point.

Maybe it’s because I am so impressed with authors I read, and the level of factual detail they present in their writing. More importantly, the level of factual detail they include that I know was researched.  The works of James Rollins might be a good example to use here with his Sigma Force series. Rollins was a veterinarian yet writes adventure/thriller novels blending historical mysteries and cutting edge science into fictional works. He writes with such authority. Maybe it’s his fault.

Maybe it’s simply because I’m writing a mystery/thriller and I want the law enforcement procedural parts of it to be accurate. I’ve had family members, now both deceased, who were in law enforcement. I could use their help now but all I have are personal memories involving stories they would tell and our family feelings about those stories. I can still use that but it doesn’t help with the procedural aspects. For that, I’ve enlisted the help of a friend of mine who is a detective with the State Police and another friend who is a local cop. I’ve also bought a few books on homicide investigation and have explored a number of websites that offer an overwhelming amount of information. All helpful and now I’ve become too detail oriented.  Maybe it is my fault.

The reality of it all is the procedural part of what I’m writing will probably amount to a small percentage of the whole. At some point, my research needs to be enough. I think I’ve done enough research and reached the point where I can now blend both fact and fiction harmoniously, and where there is doubt, I have enough resources available that I can improvise.  Just write…

For now, that’ll do.

 

7.7.7 Challenge – A Peek At My WIP

This weekend I am trying to catch up after not posting anything last weekend.   I was sick.  Knock-out, stay in bed sick for four days; probably the aftermath of a turbulent two weeks or it could have been something as simple as someone just passing their yuk on to me.  Yes, guys are whiners when they are sick. Deal with it.

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I was included in a 7.7.7. challenge by the very entertaining Paige Randall.  Paige is a D.C. based fiction writer with a raw quirky sense of humor that will put a smile on your face.  Despite only knowing her virtually, I can tell you she is the kind of person I’d love to have a beer with, or bourbon in her case.  You can click on Paige above.   I just realized that sounded funny.  Click on, click off.  Wasn’t there a movie about that?

The 7.7.7 challenge is for the author to go to page 7 of their current WIP (work in progress), skip down to line 7 and then, share the next 7 lines of their manuscript with you.  This sounded interesting enough but it involves something I have been extremely private about: my WIP.  My very rough draft WIP. I suppose I need to get over that.

I’m writing a mystery/thriller titled November Rain.  It’s a about a serial killer targeting people in the medical field, specifically; women in the medical field.  Ed Kiel, my main character, is both ex-law enforcement and ex-military, now living in a very small town along the NY/PA border.  His friend, and another key character in my story, is NYSP Detective Derek Bannon (and yes, I named him after Race Bannon from Jonny Quest).  Although I was hoping for something dark and mysterious for this challenge I’m keeping it honest and it is what it is. The scene below is set in a small town diner called Dottie’s where the two are having breakfast.   Derek is somewhat of a health nut, extremely muscular, and would be considered eye candy for all you romance writers.

In the scene below, their waitress has just served them both their meals.

Seven sentences from November Rain:

…  In customary server fashion, she repeated the orders while placing their plates in front of them, winking at Ed when she recited Derek’s order.  Ed nodded, Derek thanked her, and she replied with her standard “you’re welcome Honey, enjoy.”

                Derek had been eating egg beater omelets at Dottie’s for as long as Ed could remember.  The only problem with this was they weren’t necessarily the egg substitute that Derek thought he was eating, and sadly, everyone but Derek knew this yet were too afraid to tell him.  Ed had finally asked Dottie herself about it one day and she just smiled and replied “well we do beat the eggs Sugar” and left it at that.

                “So how’s your omelet?”  Ed asked as he speared another sausage link.

                “Great! I don’t know what they do different here but it always tastes better than the way it tastes at home.” …

Exactly at 7.7.7 and a little humorous calm before the storm.

I’m going to challenge a couple of friends to share their 7 lines from their WIP.

First, and no surprise, is my amazing friend from across the pond: E.L. Wicker

Second, and again no surprise, is my friend and romance author: Dena Rogers

Until next week,

Bill

 

 

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