Alice’s Restaurant

October 31, 2006

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” – Thomas Edison

Filed under: Writing Life — aliceaudrey @ 2:58 pm

Story of my career as a writer.

Alice

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October 30, 2006

Hired by Email

Filed under: Day to Day Life — aliceaudrey @ 3:35 am

We have dialup service.  Two of us entered the FanLit contest which means for the last six weeks our phone line has been constantly tied up.  We have received complaints about it from employers, teachers, doctors, family members, and friends.

I didn’t care.  I was busy writing, submitting, rating, commenting, inviting, and generally having a grand old time.  Little did I know we almost cost my husband a new job.

Luckily the same medium that messed us up saved us.  When my husband’s new boss couldn’t reach him by phone to tell him he got the job, she emailed him.  Doomed and saved by the Internet.  Aint life grand.

 Alice

October 29, 2006

Let Them Eat Cake

Filed under: Suzy Homemaker — aliceaudrey @ 1:58 am

Cat was wondering if anyone had a good, moist chocolate cake recipe.  So I asked my mother.  She says the recipe on the back of the Hershey’s Cocoa can is her favorite.

She went on to say that where it comes to cake you have do a balancing act between ingredients that tenderize and those that provide structure.  If you add more of something that tenderizes then you have to also increase whatever gives structure.

The tenderizers are oil, shortening, and sugar
The structure providers are eggs and flour

So if you use more oil and/or sugar then you also have to use more egg and/or flour or it’ll fall apart.  Too much Four or egg for the sugar or oil and it gets tough.  If you increase the water or milk instead of the oil or sugar to make it moist, the center will fall.  She says shortening makes the cake finer, but the oil gives more of a feeling of moisture even as it makes the cake heavier.

Apple sauce can be used in place of some of the oil/shortening but don’t try to replace it all our you end up with “an inferior product.”

And that’s bound to be more than you really wanted to know about cake.

Alice

October 27, 2006

Confession Time

Filed under: FanLit — aliceaudrey @ 11:55 pm

I offered anyone who I knew to be of legal age a scene that continues my entry Signed and Sealed from the point where Damien blows out the candle.  I actually got a request for it!

Now for the confession.  You guessed it, I haven’t written the scene yet.  I have it mostly done, but still need a few parts.  In motion.  *blush*.

To anyone who wanted to see it I will get it to you as soon as I finish writing it.  *grin*  Thanks for your patience.

Alice

October 26, 2006

FanLit Withdrawal

Filed under: FanLit — aliceaudrey @ 12:33 am

I had a blog titled “Patience the Wimp” and another titled “The Five Star Fairies”.  While writing my entries, then trying to support them I was too busy to finish either blog.  Now that we are down to the final ten those topics seem passe.

Just as well.  I am so far behind in everything.  My crit group really caught fire while I wasn’t looking and my CP –  Hi May – has been waiting forever for the next installment of Zackly Right, and my kids aren’t taking “later” for an answer anymore.

It’s time to wean myself from FanLit and get on with my life.

So of course I want to invite everyone over to Yahoo to do it again!!!

Alice

October 25, 2006

Needs More Conflict.

Filed under: FanLit, Writing Craft — aliceaudrey @ 5:36 am

I find myself putting this in the comment line a fair amount this round.  I can just hear the authors who receive it sputtering about how it’s the final chapter, already.  Why can’t they just tie up a few loose ends and be done with it!

Boy, I feel your pain.  I really do.  And I was tempted to simply go through the laundry list of issues that needed to be dealt with to make the story work, but I already know from bitter experience that every single scene, darn near every sentence, needs conflict.

Why?  Because without it no matter how pretty, or fun, or seemingly meaningful, the scene, chapter, or entry without conflict is boring.

The first word that comes to my mind when I say boring is “ouch”.  You can do everything else right, but if you end up boring, you have lost your audience.

But seriously, conflict is the most powerful tool available to an author for 1] gaining reader interest.  2] keeping reader interest 3] revealing character 4] moving a plot forward  5] developing themes, and did I mention something about reader interest?

Conflict doesn’t need to be melodramatic or large-scale, or even significant, although that’s nice.  It simply needs to be something that your reader can relate to and appropriate for the material.

I could say a lot more about it, but I’m trying not to be so long winded.  See?  I’m in conflict.  *grin*

Alice

October 23, 2006

Latest Greatest

Filed under: Writing Life — aliceaudrey @ 9:53 pm

I always think that whatever I wrote last is the best thing I’ve ever written. For a long time I thought I was alone in suffering this particular dilusion. But one day I was reading Hawthorn’s TangleWood Tales to my son and realized that Hawthorn suffered the exact same delusion in much the same way. To quote:

Oh shoot. I can’t quote. I packed the silly book away. Nevermind.

Alice

October 19, 2006

It Aint Fun If It Aint Fair

Filed under: FanLit — aliceaudrey @ 9:31 pm

Did I know what I was getting into when I first singed up? Not entirely. I could see the conflict of interest, but didn’t realize it would be as much of a problem as it proved. And I trusted FanLit to take responsibility for enforcing their own rules. That would have made a huge difference in the playing experience.

If I hadn’t already realized it was just a publicity stunt, plenty of people I tried to invite in the first round made it clear to me. I know a fair number of good writers who simply bowed out without making a single entry because of it.

I’m spending way too much time on it, have agonized over it, have NOT favorably impressed any editor, and don’t even get to keep my copyrights!

I have been asked by a fair number of people why I started, why I’ve stuck with it, and when I’m going to come to my senses. But then I’ve been asked the same questions about writing. I don’t have a good answers in either case.

But I do know this. If I’m going to do it – either writing or FanLit – I shouldn’t be halfhearted about it. I’m not going to have nearly as much fun if I don’t ignore the bandits and simply go for it.

Regardless of how it’s run, I’ve learned a few things, made some excellent friends, and wrote some stuff that I like. For now, that’s good enough for me.

Alice

October 18, 2006

My Dream FanLit

Filed under: FanLit — aliceaudrey @ 4:22 pm

Clearly I’m addicted. But that doesn’t mean I can’t see ways to improve FanLit.

The way I see it, the biggest problem with FanLit is human nature, and the fact the system doesn’t compensate for it. The voting pool has become what Garrett Hardin called “the commons”.

On one hand we see noble people proving Hardin wrong by rising above it. But more often we see everyone suffering from .5 bandits, 0 bombers, and meaningless 5’s. This is because we all have a vested interest in seeing everyone else NOT do well. What an unhealthy set up.

What we need is people doing the rankings who have nothing to gain by giving low scores and nothing to lose by giving good ones. If we had enough people reading because they like to read and rank but who hadn’t entered anything, we would get a much truer picture of how good our entries are. But the only ones willing to wade through all the stuff that doesn’t interest them are our fellow writers.

Avon should have offered a prize for non-writing voters. It should have been as nice as the package offered to the winning entry.

Of course it would be hard to determine who should be the winning voter, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be done. The winning voter would have to 1] do the most rankings. 2] show a reasonable statistical probability in the range of her rankings 3] give rankings in line with what other people give and 4] have picked at least one of the top 10 while in the preliminaries. If a tie breaker were needed then who picked the ultimate winner could be considered or who produced a top 10 list that most closely resembles the ultimate rankings.

Bringing in voters who don’t suffer a conflict of interest is only a first step. Strictly speaking, those who entered a particular round shouldn’t be allowed to rank at all. If you have enough people going for the reader prize, that shouldn’t be a problem.

Conflict of interest goes beyond those who have actually entered. Friends and family might also be contributing to the unfairness of this contest. But not all friends and family are going around trying to hurt competitors while giving 5s to their darlings. I think the solution there would be to keep track of HOW each voter does rankings. Anyone whose rankings are only ever below a 1 and/or above 4.5 should have their rankings removed from all tallies. Simply don’t let their votes count. Whether the pattern of voting comes from those who are cheating, those who are ridiculously biased, or those with bizarre tastes, they have no place in FanLit.

I also think the way the entries is presented is causing problems. Everyone I’ve talked to about it finds having one entry presented to them at a time has a negative, eye-glazing effect. Instead, I think an entire batch should be presented the same way the finals are now being presented: all the promos visible at the same time.

This would negate the skip feature, but so what? Final ranking would be based on how many people clicked to view as well as average score given. To compensate for those who have lousy promos, randomly drawn entries could be given a featured position and voters encouraged to comment on the entry.

All entries should be available for ranking through a search feature during the course of the preliminaries so that those who have become interested in a particular title due to comments in the forum can quickly find the entry in question.

By letting readers pick and choose what they want to read, we would more closely match the book store experience. I believe doing so would encourage more reading, and a more positive attitude toward each entry a reader chooses to view.

Back to scoring, I cannot stress how important transparency is! Everyone should be able to take the numbers provided by FanLit and calculate for themselves what their ranking is. Let there be NO woo-woo involved. Go head and feed our obsessive tendencies. We are much easier to live with when we can assure ourselves over and over that what we are getting really is what we deserve. The average should be available to all writers through My FanLit at all times. Not just the last score given, although that should remain available as averages hide fives and ones.

Ok, this is the tip of the iceberg here, but I’ve gone on long enough. Thanks for letting me unload.

Alice

Dirty Rotten Cheaters

Filed under: FanLit — aliceaudrey @ 5:44 am

Ok, this is just eating me up alive.  It kills me to know that at least two of the people I have been hanging out with on the FanLit boards are stabbing me in the back with their sock puppet accounts.

If any of them is reading this blog I have but one thing to say to you.  Damn you!  May you join me in this purgatory where so much that was once bright and beautiful becomes meaningless.  May your successes turn on you like a snake in the hand.  May you come to realize how puny and insignificant all your efforts are.

But it isn’t the cheaters that bother me the most.  It’s the way the contest is set up.

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m well aware that the fact it exists at all is a modern miracle.  I get a major kick out of all the complements …  um…  I mean comments that people make on my stuff.  I love the smoozing on the boards and checking out what wild and wonderful ideas my fellow entrants have come up with.

But you’ve got to admit the way it is set up at the moment is bound to bring out the worst in us.  Every good score you give someone else is a potential outranking of your own work, so there’s a strong incentive to score low.  There are hardly any people left who are only readers, so the politics of playing nice with the other writers becomes intense, which can lead to false compliments.  And despite what FanLit says, there’s a strong tendency for entries posted earlier to rank better, because they have more chances to come up during times when more people are interested in reading.

So of course I’ve been imagining how I would do it if it were up to me.  I’ll post my ideas tomorrow.
Alice

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