The Vengeful Polyglot

Archive for June 2011


… and while I should be most excited about the new Molten Front quest area, or the raid, or the epic Thrall quest, I’m totally happiest about being able to reorder my toons on the character select screen. Finally, all the 85s at the top! I’m not currently raiding with my guild, so I spend most of my time leveling, and it really annoys me if my characters aren’t sorted by level. I officially have five 85s now, too, now that my resto druid hit 85! Only one more healer to go and then I’ll have the full set again. 🙂


For the Authors: The Finding, Care, and Feeding of Betas

So, let’s say you’re an author, and you’ve just finished the first, polished draft of one of your new fanfics. You’ve fixed all the little red squiggles under words from spell-check, your story seems relatively grammatically-correct, and you think you’ve wrapped up what you meant to do with the plot very nicely. Now it’s time to go post it on whatever site hosts your fics, right?

Not just yet. There’s one tiny step missing, and it’s a vital one. Vital to helping you improve your craft over time, as well as showing that you respect your readers enough to show them a wonderful final product. You need to find a beta.

“Why do I need a beta?” you might ask. “I worked hard on this.” You might even feel sort of offended that you would need someone else to look over your work in order to make it fit for publishing. But it’s not to offend you that I strongly, strongly suggest that all authors have one, or possibly many, betas. There are plenty of wonderful reasons to find a beta. Not only will they point out little nitpicky detail-problems about your fic that you might have missed, but they’ll help you to improve things like flow, characterization, and dialogue until they are much more effective.

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This is yet another book I picked up because I felt I thought the movie sounded interesting and I just can’t see the movie before I read the book (that is just not how my mother raised me). Set in Jackson Mississippi in 1962, the story switches between three PoVs: Skeeter, a young white woman who aims to write a tell-all book about the stories of how black maids are treated by their white employers, and the two maids who first risk their livelihoods and personal safety in helping her out, Aibileen and Minny. I won’t waste anyone’s time on summary — either you’ve seen the movie trailer or looked at the back cover, or you can just as well on Amazon.

The writing is well done, in general. The plot is well-structured, and the author captures the tension between the races, especially at the climax, quite well. It’s also a quick read, even though the book looks fairly meaty — I started it yesterday and finished it today. The first thing you notice is that while the two maids’s characters are excellently fleshed out and their voices are distinct and lovely, their sections are written in an obvious dialect. I’m someone who is easily off-put by accents in books unless it’s done unusually well. I find it to be a distraction. This, unfortunately, wasn’t entirely an exception.

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I’ve been reticent to post my Tasker profiles (of which I have many) because not all of them are “optimal.” But, since I promised, here they are. I’ll do my best to describe the settings and profiles I use to achieve the effects I’ve been going for!

I’ll supply the Contexts and Task descriptions for each profile, but please comment if I haven’t been specific enough! I’m more than happy to help.


GPS Only for Location-Based Services

This is a common one I’ve seen around. Since GPS tends to really drain battery if it’s enabled all the time, this profile enables GPS when I open Maps, Places, or Yelp, and disables it when I’m done.

Profile: GPS Only For Maps

Context: Application -> Maps, Places, Yelp

GPS On Task: Misc -> GPS, Set On

GPS Off Task (Exit Task): Misc -> GPS, Set Off

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The Plan

Posted on: June 17, 2011

I do most of my “serious” thinking while driving. This is probably because there’s nothing I can distract myself with. Commuting from Irvine to LA, and even just driving across the city to see Matteo, I have a lot of time alone in the car with just myself, and I usually wind up zoning out and thinking about all those icky existential things I generally don’t have time for when there’s something else I could be doing. It’s like I make myself a captive audience. Fun!

Lately I’ve been thinking about “the plan.” My plan. After you graduate, this is all anyone will ever ask you about. “Do you have a job? What do you want to do with your life? What’s the plan?” So, I’ve been thinking about my plan, because there’s only so long you can stare back at an inquisitive family member or acquaintance feeling nauseous and saying, “Uh… grad school?” Also, I don’t do well without a plan. For largely control-freak reasons.

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So, after a terrible set of projects/finals, my boyfriend being suddenly hospitalized due to an inexplicable case of pancreatitis, and my own illness, I’m finally back. And graduated. Whoo!

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Anyone who has spent any reasonable amount of time on a fanfiction archive such as FanFiction.Net has probably come across the very common fic summary, “I suck so much at summaries, sorry! Please read and review!” or any of a hundred different versions thereof. It’s everywhere. In every fandom, for every pairing, for fics that are canon, AU, it doesn’t matter – and more importantly, it doesn’t state any of that information right there.

Therein lies the very problem with this sort of non-summary: it doesn’t summarize. Though I can understand well the self-consciousness of new authors who sometimes use this sort of summary for their fics for lack of a better idea, hopefully this column will help to remedy this influx of somewhat confusing summaries and help authors to be more confident in putting together their two or three sentence “hooks.”

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Blog by a programmer cum linguist cum writer cum total geek. One who pretentiously uses "cum" in place of any other logical connectives. Direct questions to the Ask Lauren page!

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