The Sad Truth of Voter Fraud
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Someone discovered that the IP logging that was supposed to work on the poll I set up wasn’t working any better than the vote tallies at the bottom, and sat running up the numbers on the courses he or she wanted.

I was watching the tallies pretty carefully, and while the numbers changed, the percentages didn’t. And then all of a sudden, several courses pulled massively ahead, and, miracle of miracles, about 70 more votes were cast than had people actually visiting that page.

In EACH of the two surveys.

And again, suddenly out of nowhere, the constant frontrunners in each of the two surveys had fallen far behind leaders that had added about … wait for it … about seventy or so new clicks behind the miracle come-from-behind leaders.

So the survey is closed. I’ll go with the numbers I posted yesterday for now, while I consider the fact that it was important for me to hear from each of you. And I still want to. And how I wish I could kick the someone who decided that his or her vote should drown out the voices of everyone else off the site.

Got a couple of important truths from this. One, go with a paid service for doing polls and whatnot from now on.

Two, don’t try to get along with buggy software, ever.

Three, not everyone who hangs out on my site is one of the good guys. Something I forget, and shouldn’t..

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My site was cracked this morning
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The affiliate program, iDevAffiliate, one of the worst-supported pieces of software in human history, was cracked, and a phishing scam was inserted into a hidden file that directed people to what appeared to be a Skype website.

I deleted the phishing scam, but because iDevAffiliate does not support their software, I also deleted the affiliate program, in order to protect people’s information and to prevent any sort of recurrence. The iDevAffiliate program will not be back in any form. If you are or were an affiliate, please delete your links.

I don’t know at this point if there will be any sort of affiliate program in the future. I’ve let a lot of people down, and I’m not sure how to fix that, and I’m not sure how to prevent something like it from happening in the future.

I’d like to add that Jorge Catena, owner of Downtownhost.com, immediately responded to my SOS and within about two minutes had deleted the phishing folder. The problem came not from the host, but from very bad software.

ADDED LATER:

Jorge Catena recommended JRox.com Affiliate software, and JRox looks like it could integrate user data from the iDevAffiliate database. It doesn’t look like it will integrate commissions. It does look very well supported, which would make it much less likely to be hacked.

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Cool Tech
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http://www.hothardware.com/Articles/Hands_on_with_the_ASUS_Eee/

A couple of times on your site, you’ve mentioned the usefulness of things like the BlackBerry. Being able to write your ideas down wherever you are, whenever you get them. I stumbled upon this little gizmo on some forum, can’t recall which, but it seems to do a hell of a lot better than the BlackBerry–it’s an actual laptop, so far as I can gather. It’s not a “media-rich” system, but it does the two most important things writers need: Internet and OpenOffice. It’ll cost around two hundred dollars, and that’s one helluva deal given AlphaSmart’s low-end word processor costs fifty dollars more and comes with not even half as much functionality. Admittedly, a three-hour on-the-go charge is no fun, but it’s a fair exchange given how much stuff you get to run with it.

The article mentions that it may hit mid-August. Cool tech anyhow.

Thanks to Paul A, who sent this to me.

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Finally back to work
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Writing of any variety hasn’t been going too well the last few days. Stress doesn’t go away when things start looking better, because the possibility that they’ll get worse again always exists. But I’m making nice progress on the type-in of the Green Magic proposal right now. It feels good to be writing again.

I finally got a desktop client to work with my weblog, too–the WordPressDash widget. I’ve never bothered with widgets–always found them kind of silly and pointless. But WordPressDash makes it possible for me to post to the weblog without having to open anything or log in. The reason I had so many posts the first year I started blogging was because I had my desktop client open and I reported progress as I was writing. It was a lot of fun, and kept me going. I might find myself sliding back into that format.

Oh, and I know what next Friday’s Snippet is going to be. An excerpt from the Starving Rat Scene in HAWKSPAR.

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Second day of migraine
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No writing done. No weblogs read. Head is screaming. Thought I’d go ahead and update WordPress to the newest version, got the following lovely message:
Fatal error: Cannot redeclare register_sidebars() (previously declared in /path/to/writingdiary2/wp-includes/widgets.php:15) in /path/to/writingdiary2/wp-content/plugins/widgets.php on line 22

This is an across-the-board error–doesn’t matter what template I use. I have no clue how to fix this, and I can’t make any changes in the sidebards until it’s fixed. Anyone else updated to WordPress 2.2 and found (and fixed) the same error?

Or if not, does anyone have better, less buggy blog software to recommend?

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WOW! Found a new Scrivener thing
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Took me a while to get a couple of plot cards I liked, and while I was working on them, I accidentally clicked a button in Scrivener that opened a whole panel I’d missed before.

Scrivener Inspector

The panel opens with the blue I button in the top righthand corner. Yeah, a little obvious. What can I say?

In this panel, you can see and rewrite your current plot card, decide whether the page will be exported, will retain formatting with export, and will have a nice little page break before (nifty for separating chapters but keeping scenes within chapters together). You can also make notes to yourself, the sort of revision notes I was going on about in Plot Clinic, for example.

The document is to the left, the entire plot outline is still to the left of that.

All I can say is, “Oh, wow!”

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Plot Outline done for Green Magic One
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I had a couple folks ask how I would do headers on the plot cards. So I took a picture of the outline view of my plot card outline for Green Magic I.

This is done in Scrivener; your results will look different depending on what you’re using to outline your book. But…

The entire project is in a folder titled (ever so imaginatively) Draft. The working synopsis is the green rectangle beneath it. That holds my short description, main character arc, theme, and cover copy description. Then I have my character list–each character has a short description that I can roll over at any time with my cursor, so that the names of my folks are in front of me all the time, plus pertinent details about their appearances, jobs, etc.

Following that is the title, and then the book divided into three beats. It alsol follows Three-Act Structure, but you’ll see that the actual acts, Gathering the Players, Intensifying the Situation, and Resolving the Conflict, do not land at the same place as the story beats.

At the far left of every other title, C[#] marks off each chapter (you can see I’m doing two scenes per chapter), each card has a title that cues me in to what the main action of that scene will be, and the necessary word count I have to hit to come in on deadline at length, and within the specifications for the book. This is a line romance with a requirement for 60%-40% heroine-hero viewpoints. Having the cards marked off this way will keep me on track.

Plot Card Rollover View--image smaller than actual sizeI can see the contents of each card as I roll the cursor over it, preventing me from ever having to click back into the plot-cards working view, but keeping all that information at my fingertips. Plot card corkboard viewHere’s the corkboard with card in place for comparison purposes.

The information in the body of each card is the character POV for each scene and the scene’s main action.

Finally, here’s the titles-only view that I see as I’m actually writing the book. (All of the cards are drag-and-drop, too, to make in-progress revision simple.

And to the cries of “Where’s the creativity in the midst of all that structure…” well, I like to write sonnets, too. It’s the same process. You learn the rules, you integrate the rules, and then you see just how far outside the envelope you can push you can push your content without breaking the entire structure.

Plot Outline Green Magic I

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Scrivener, and your comments
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First, I just discovered this in Scrivener (I’m a jump-in-and-use-it, figure-it-out-as-I-go software user, so it always takes me a while to figure out the full capabilities of a new piece of software).

Project Targets Window

This is the Project Targets window, which allows me to see not only the wordcount for my complete document, but also how far I am on my way to my word goal for the day.

Since the document window itself lets me see the wordcount for each section I’m working on, I’m able to tell whether I’m running short or long on each tool I’m working out while still knowing how I’m doing overall. It’s wonderful.

Also wonderful—your comments about plotting, both in the Time for your stories thread, and in your comments on the intro. You’ve managed to remind me of things I’d overlooked in outlining the book, and it will have some new sections and new material because of this. Thank you.

If your plot issues haven’t been addressed by anyone yet, please write them down. I may have already planned to cover them, but maybe not.

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