How to be a dictator, and other lies.

I’ve been dictating my novels lately.

And I thought I’d post about it, because one, I have been getting a lot of word count questions, and two, I am about to give you wild, amazing advice for word counts.

Because I arrogantly think I’m brilliant.

And, also, because, I had some questions this week.


Dictation is like running the mile in gym class. You may cough up blood, but it’s good for your health. Supposedly.


Here is how I got faster it dictation, and got better at it.


1.I dictated before I wrote every day. It sucked and I hated it.  I often switched back to typing after a half hour of attempted dictation.


2. I think you’d be an idiot not to dictate with punctuation, whoever recommends that has marbles for brains. Use all your punctuation. You’ll get used to it, but only if you practice. This is like running the mile, it sucks. Get over it.


3. The first problem I encountered with dictation, was that for the first time I could write faster than I could think. I’m a very fast typist, so I was hitting an easy 2500 to 3000 words per hour typed. With dictation, I would run out of thoughts before I had got to them. There were lots of awkward lulls and pauses. In order to combat that I had to outline, which sucked balls. First my outlines were too specific – and then I just completely gave up on working with them because there was no natural flow to my story. But then, sometimes my outlines were not specific enough – my entire scene was the sentence. “Play night game.” I didn’t know what the game was, or why they were playing it, or the plot. But being less specific actually made me much faster, and when I hit the scene that’s not specific enough I just pause take two seconds to adjust, and plan then dictate.


4. They say when you’re top violinist you play hard,  but at such a painful rate that after you practice you often need to nap. I find this to be true with dictation. When I have hit good word counts I often need a nap. If you haven’t worked so hard that you need a nap, you’re probably not working very hard. That’s just the truth.


5. I often dictate with voices, and crazy amounts of enthusiasm. I try to make sure I’m caffeinated, sometimes do jumping jacks first. Get excited – you need to get into the flow state just as you would with writing. Once I stopped micromanaging my dictation, I got way more words on the page. I can dictate seventeen hundred words in ten minutes. And this is only after a month or so of practicing seriously. Say at least three paragraphs at a time before you look it over – if you are looking at your words more often than that, then you’re not dictating you are just waiting and staring at words. You’re not even telling a story – could you imagine if someone was listening to you? They’d be bored to tears. So you must write at least three paragraphs at a time. If any of the dictation is particularly wrong, select the entire sentence and just say it again. It will not only improve your dictation next time – because Dragon is smart and it will learn that it heard you wrong the first time – but it’s also faster than trying to edit one or two words at the time. You want to just select the entire sentence, and restate. Do not do this more than once every three or four paragraphs. I tend to do it at the end of the chapter.


6. When you use lots of voices Dragon have a harder time keeping up. But I do it anyways, because when I go back and edit I can easily fix any transcription errors – but it helps me stay in the story. And staying in the story is 90% of the battle. You should be telling your story like you had children listening, children who are really interested in punctuation, and the story. This is how I’ve improved, and I highly recommend that you keep practicing, work till you’re tired, be enthusiastic, and don’t edit as you go edit at the end.


7.  I hope this was interesting or helpful.


8.  I feel like lists must stop at ten.


9.  See 8.


10.  Yeah, I am pretty amazing, thanks for noticing.

Come along kids, into the fire.

The Firelocked Funhouse has been so fun to work on so far.  These kids just tried to bury a clown alive.

It’s not gonna work.

Plus, the little one carries around a bear!


Anyways, I’ve been doing excellent, I’ve been being excellent.

10’s dress won at state fair, which means, she’s got to go to the next competition, I wish I had showed her to sew less good. (I can’t decide if I even feel bad.  More competitions are vomitous terrible things I have no patience for- but 10 is amazing and deserves to win everything this world has to offer.)


Next week I will have all my children away and I’ll be working ten times harder than ever, and playing ten times harder than ever.  Ballroom dancing?  Oh yes, it’s gonna happen.  I’ve already shined my shoes.  The umbrella gun will be finished and I am going to have the most amazing costume for Suicide Squad.

This is the grand finale, the big finish of summer before life gets back into a steady and safe routine.  Back to school, back to words.  The only sliver still digging away at me is the cats still quarantined.  Only one more month.  Please rally pretty kitties.  I can’t wait to have them home.

I also have all remodeling on hold at the moment whilst I get some books out the door.  After I get back into the swing of routine I’ll add ’tiling and painting’ back to my schedule along with “hanging drywall’ and flooring!  The attic is desperately ready to be floored.  I am impatient.  I am ready for my house to start housing and stop constructing.  I”m ready for my books to start flying off the shelves, and my days to be less stressful.  Let’s skip through my forest and laugh through the nights.

Padlocked Penthouse Excerpt

Barnett rode up the glass elevator. He had his leather briefcase in his hands. Inside the case he carried the evidence Vivika would need. The elevator seemed slow but steady. It almost groaned under his weight. Fear crept into his belly. Was this the right choice?
Would it save his wife and daughter?
He took a deep breath as the glass elevator slid into his penthouse. He could see the piano and the little mirror on the wall his wife stood at endlessly. She wasn’t there. The elevator let out a bright cheery ding, and the clear doors parted. His foot touched the smooth marble floor and he found himself wondering what on earth he was doing.
How could he help a ghost walk into the light? It was an impossibility at best.
Fear made his skin tremble. “Aurora? Pear?” He stumbled on a candle on the floor. There was a thin line of salt on the ground. He followed it slowly.
He called for them, but silence was the reply. “Aurora?”
He called louder, pacing his long sturdy steps around the oval penthouse. The candles kept dotting along the salt, but none of them were lit. His vision went blurry, and he recognized he had tears forming in his eyes. What if he was too late?
Finally, he said the one name that would get him a response. “Vivika?”
All of the light bulbs flickered and he was in darkness, utter darkness. “I’ve come to talk to you,” he said, his knees trembling. “Vivika, it’s going to be all right. I brought you some things to see.” The lights shone again.
He waited and all the hairs on the back of his neck stood up straight. Everything seemed so intense. The bright, tart lemon scent suddenly burned his eyes and nose and throat. He gasped and coughed.
“Vivika, it’s going to be okay.” He held back a little choke. He was being smothered by lemon; it hung thick in the air like skunk spray. He could feel it reaching into his lungs and burning, burning into him.
“I want to show you what I have.”
He fumbled for the briefcase latches in the dark. He rubbed his eyes with his hand slowly, trying to make the burning stop. His nose and tears were running from the potent scent.
“Do you even know what happened? You’ve been dead a long time.” He tried to recite some of the facts from memory. “Mikaela and Roselle were your daughters, and you and Frans… I’m sorry, but none of you made it out alive. It must be devastat-” He felt the scream rather than heard it. It hurt his chest and he fell to the ground. A nasty wind rushed around the penthouse in a big sweeping scream and his ears! They were bleeding from the force of it, from the intensity. The wind pelted him with bits of salt. The scream hurt his chest and his belly and it was like he had screamed.
No, he was screaming.
His lungs burned from the effort. He let out another shriek of terror. He shuddered and tried to get a grip, but fear had won; every bit of him was frightened. She was so much bigger and more monstrous than he had ever imagined. She could swallow the city whole if she wanted. She was darkness, hate, and bittersweet. She was angry and had no intention of stopping any time soon. She was fire, and oh, she burned. She burned within him.
Then, with a pop, she went silent, and he was alone and scared.

Firelocked Funhouse Excerpt

A bell rang, like a casino machine ringing in loads of cash. And the ceiling opened a panel and down dropped a long pink stretch of fabric. It fell all the way to the floor like a long rope. Immediately kids began to grab at it and try to climb it. Until they heard the loud booming voice.
On the long silk scarf was a clown. She had big pigtails that were pink. Her face looked happy. She had the brightest freckles painted on her face. Her laugh was like a tinkling fairy. She held on to the scarf with only her legs and slowly spun down it. She was juggling three pink balls as she slid down the scarf. “Hello children! Do you want to play a game?”
Everyone stopped manning the ball guns, and dropped what they were doing. They slowly gathered at the base of the scarf, enchanted by this new clown. She had striped stockings on her legs and a fluffy yellow skirt.
Miles, Lorelei and Gregory stood back nervously. They didn’t trust clowns anymore, and at this point in the day it was only about to get worse.
She stopped juggling as she got to the bottom of the scarf, her feet daintly set upon the top of the balls below. It was like walking on water. One arm still wrapped around the scarf as she balanced seemingly on nothing.
“Do you want to play a game?” The children cheered. Miles stuffed Colorado back in his pocket, so he wouldn’t get lost. Then he gripped his sister’s hand. The three of them stepped backward again.
“Come closer, children, this game is going to be super fun.” She said again, but there was a look in her eye, when she glanced at Lorelei that was frightening.
“It’s a game of hide and seek. You hide. And we will find you.” She said. And then the ceiling panels opened again and the fat, scary clown rolled down in his own scarf. He was holding a knife. The long legs of the super tall clowns started to slide out of the ceiling. Their face paint had been smeared so their eyes and mouths were running down their cheeks and up their noses.
“We are going to count to ten.” The children shuddered underneath. Several screamed, and at least three of the kids were crying.
The clowns were talking together in unison now.
“Two” The girl clown covered her eyes with her feet, still dangling from the scarf.
“Three.” Gregory whispered, “Let’s try to get back into the bouncy room. And then up the slide.”
“Four.” The three kids backed up quickly, looking for the soft wall that they had climbed through.
“Five.” Lorelei was too frightened to cry, and too frightened to scream. She held tightly to Miles. He was shivering again, and had wet his pants.
“Six.” The super tall juggling clowns were on the ground now, tossing sharp knives back and forth. One of them paused, and threw a sharp knife into the wall next to Gregory’s hand. Gregory screamed.
“Seven.” The children that had gathered underneath the girl clown were now scrambling away on platforms. A small girl was sobbing and pressing the big red button, trying to dump the funnel of balls.
“Eight.” Lorelei whispered frantically to Greg, “I can’t find it. Where did we come in?”
“Nine.” Greg looked at her, and said, “We will have to fight them.” And he pulled the sharp knife from the wall.
“Ten.” All four clowns started laughing hysterically, in shrill terrifying noises. The fat one wasn’t laughing, he was roaring.

And the floor beneath them fell.

Somebody hold my hat

The roof is done.  I’m exhausted from all this ridiculous nonsense.

  1.  Roofing a house is not fun
  2. Staying in a hotel is not fun after say, week two
  3. I have spent 100+ hours on bats, roofs, rabies, and insurance this summer so far
  4. I would have preferred to spend that time remodeling, writing, or playing with the world’s best kids
  5. My Harley Quinn umbrella gun is almost finished and I’m excited.
  6. Suicide Squad is coming out very soon.  Try not to wet yourself.
  7. Firelocked Funhouse is coming out, not as soon.  But I’m trying!
  8. I’m working on a thriller book, and it is super fun.  Sometimes the books write themselves
  9. I’m pretty sure I’m not actually that good at cosplay, but I sure try.
  10. I am going to have to paint some shoes.The roofers allowed water into my house, and I have some painting to finish now.

I think that’s listy enough for today. I’m working on an excellent poll for anyone who joined my mailing list, I am absolutely certain it will be fun.

Gridlocked Guesthouse Excerpt:

A fat tear rolled down her cheek as she started to dial nine. Before she could press the number one, the goats yanked forward in unison. She was suddenly dragged down into the woods, both goats bleating and pulling hard. And she fell. The goats fell too, sliding down suddenly into the darkness. To the beneath. Under the ground.
It reminded me of this time when I was a kid. I was out in the woods, like Rachel was now, but it had snowed really hard. I was pretty little, maybe, five or six. Maybe even seven. So I’m walking on top of the snow, and it has crusted over just enough to hold my weight, barely. If I stepped too hard I’d sink suddenly beneath the snow.
The snow was about thigh deep on my little legs, so it was much easier to walk on top the crust of the snow. The thin ice layer. I loved it. And even though my mother told me not to go out too far into the woods—because of the bears—I didn’t listen. I was walking along carefully, enjoying the crunchy, dangerous snow walking. At any moment, I might get stuck! Very exciting for a child like me, I must say. So I wandered out farther into the woods, and suddenly, the snow, did just the thing I was hoping and frightened will happen. It broke, and I sank in! But here’s the thing. I didn’t sink up to my thighs like I was expecting. Instead, I kept going down, down deep into the hole.
And as soon as I saw the big, sharpened sticks I knew, I just knew, I was in trouble. They didn’t catch me. I was so little, I somehow just got speared in the snowsuit. But my skin, my actual skin and bones and body were just fine. I was dangling on that little wooden spear.
I knew what this was. This was a bear trap. Sharp pointy sticks in a hole in the ground. I had helped to sharpen the sticks for my father. I had helped!
And somehow, with the heavy snow, I had missed where I was walking entirely. The world looks so different with snow! So I was stuck, I was really stuck. But that wasn’t even the problem. The problem, the way I saw it, in that moment, was that there was a bear in the trap with me. He was grimacing in pain, and looked up at me with big, frightened eyes. He didn’t have much fight left in him; his brown fur was positively dripping with blood. He let out a soft growl as he looked at me, then his tongue seemed to loll from his mouth as if it was too hard to hold it in. Blood dripped off his fangs. It had obviously snowed after he had fallen in, for he was almost invisible. Took my mom two days to find me. And I’m glad that bear was there, and hadn’t quite died yet. I bet I would have gotten too cold in there without him. Dad shot him, and he’s in the living room right now.
So you might say I know a few things about falling into a hole, and how scary it can be. Rachel, unfortunately, was in a lot more trouble than I was. She wasn’t falling into a hole with a half dead bear. She was falling into the basement with two tasty goats.

The roof, the roof, the roof is on fire.

Well, progress has been steady but slow.  I’m already quite tired of hotel life.  I’m not really sure where else I’d be happy though.  Home, obviously, but I can’t exactly stay there with the bats, and the construction or anything else.

Still keeping my writing up to normal at least!


Work makes the world go round.