1. Member Since 3rd Jun, 2012
  2. offline for 1h, 56m

Dusty Sage


I've been writing online for thirty years.  One of these days I might actually get good at it.


More Blog Posts167

  • 1w, 6d
    I, dawdler

    I am trying not to feel better about my low productivity after finding a new chapter to one of my favorites,  a year and half after the last one.

    8 comments · 25 views
  • 4w, 3d
    Pikers from Hogwarts

    The Bullseye is the last page of Entertainment Weekly, and it's something of a repository for single-line snark.  There's a reference this week (issue #1345) to Pottermore, of which they said:

    Another year, another 600 additional Harry Potter short stories.

    Even granted the fact that Pottermore is a bit more complex than FIMFiction -- six hundred?  That's a slow week here.

    0 comments · 9 views
  • 5w, 3d
    Still breathing

    The Mystery Virus -- unless, of course, it was a bacterium -- has taken its leave of me, and good riddance.

    If you're celebrating a holiday this week, I hope it's utterly wonderful.   (And if you're not, I still hope things are utterly wonderful for you.)

    3 comments · 27 views
  • 6w, 6d
    Possibly on the mend

    This ongoing illness has finally snapped into a pattern I've seen before, and I didn't like it much then:

    The medical profession's answer to my ongoing cough is a nasty lozenge seemingly made from the bowls in which Chia Pets are grown, which, I am told, will actually increase the level of coughing. It is a measure of how bad things are that I accepted this at face value.

    This particular version of the ailment dates back to 2001; it began during a 4444-mile (literally) road trip, and persisted long after I'd left the driver's seat.   The general feeling is that of having one's lungs filled with cotton candy, and not a good flavor of cotton candy either.

    0 comments · 17 views
  • 8w, 3d
    Little to hope for

    About an hour into the workday today, I got hit with what might be an ordinary rhinovirus -- or it might not.  It continues to get worse, and it's doubtful whether I'll get any sleep tonight.

    Perversely, I have a trip to the doctor scheduled for tomorrow; the appointment was made three weeks ago.   And failure to sleep is one of the few ailments that make me want to end it all: I'm too old to fight these things anymore.  (Oh, and someone gave me a downvote today, which exacerbates the turmoil.)   I have two weeks of vacation saved up; but if I'm going to be miserable the whole time, why bother?

    7 comments · 35 views
  • 8w, 6d
    It's become a reflex

    Saturday I was coming home from the grocery store, and up the street marched three girls, clearly led by the one in the center.  In days of old I'd have thought Heathers; this time I thought Dazzlings.  For all I know, the one on the right may have been carrying a taco.   Either way, it was unexpected, my neighborhood being basically split between young families and old empty-nesters.  (I am, of course, one of the latter.)   This is a two-lane street with parking along one side only; they allowed me exactly enough room for my Large Automobile, and no more.  If nothing else, they had the attitude.

    0 comments · 19 views
  • 11w, 2h
    Musical notes, so to speak

    The third Soft Spectrum album has been released, and like its predecessors, it's a showcase for chill, a genre -- at least, I think it's a genre -- that I have found welcoming in the past.  The series is presided over by Kyoga, who has composed some stuff that makes the hair stand up on the back of my neck.  

    Also like its predecessors, it's a charity affair: the $5 they're asking for the ten tracks will go to Bronies For Good.   (As is my wont, I tossed in slightly more.)   If you go for this sort of thing, here's where you get it.

    0 comments · 35 views
  • 12w, 6d
    Having perhaps overdone it

    If I'm interpreting the new status indicators correctly — and who says I am? — I got to my 1000th favorite this weekend.  Assuming I'm running my usual pace, this means I've read somewhere around 1800 stories in the last 27 months.  (Blatant selection bias: I'm far more likely to start a story if something about it suggests I'll want to keep up with it.)

    The most recent addition is flawed and would benefit from a proofreader, but the premise — earth pony seeks a mechanical means of flight — appealed to me.

    0 comments · 22 views
  • 13w, 6d
    About that self-insert business

    There's apparently a new term for it: "transcribed aspirational self-narrative".

    Still kinda looks like Mary Sue, though.

    1 comments · 34 views
  • 15w, 2d
    There are always numbers

    So I tried out knighty's new stats suite, and I'm not sure which surprised me more: having had 21,750 chapter reads, or being in the top 3000 (barely) in follower count.  Neither of these is a world-beater, exactly, but I still suffer from How Can Anyone Bear To Read This Stuff? Syndrome.

    1 comments · 35 views
  • 15w, 6d
    The weather outside is frightful

    The major disadvantage of the lack of pegasi out here on the plain is that we're basically stuck with what the air masses in the sky end up doing, and what they're doing at the moment is giving me 50-mph winds and rain approximately the velocity of an automated car wash, albeit without any of that Anti-Spotting Rinse stuff.    (Well, that and the tragedy of leading a pony-less existence, as I did for the first 57 years of my life.)

    If you don't hear from me for a rather long while, assume I've been spun into orbit by the whirling winds.

    0 comments · 34 views
  • 16w, 6d
    Rutsicles

    So I'd come up with an oh-so-clever plot twist, so to speak, and started pouring it out onto the screen.

    If that's all I'd done, I might have gotten away with it.  But no, I had to go back and look it over just once more, and discovered it had more holes than the Albert Hall.

    If I seem quieter than usual, it's because I'm trying to find some way out of it without making it look like I had to find some way out of it.

    0 comments · 35 views
  • 18w, 3d
    In for a pound

    Actually, several pounds, based on the current exchange rate.

    I have reserved a seat for the one and only showing (in this gedunk town of, um, 1.3 million) of Rainbow Rocks.  The dollar off I get for being Incredibly Old exactly balances the convenience fee for ordering online.

    Of course, what I really want to know is whether they'll bring Flash Sentry back.

    Update, after the show:  Maybe a hair too much fanservice, but on the whole, a decided improvement over the first EqG film, and ample justification for continuing the series.  Empty seats were conspicuous by their absence.   I really don't think Harkins expected this thing to sell out.

    4 comments · 50 views
  • 20w, 2d
    This ought to be interesting

    About a year ago, I posted a note on Facebook that contained links to all my stories here.  It received one like, so I know at least one person saw it.

    I was in One Of Those Moods this evening, so for the sheer Tartarus of it I posted the first paragraph of The Sparkle Chronicles and sat back to see what would happen.  The likes rolled in, along with "When can I read the rest of it?"  We shall see what (if anything) comes of this.

    9 comments · 62 views
  • 22w, 3h
    Explaining myself

    Over on Quora, someone wanted to know "how come bronies exist?"  The site's magical algorithm sent me an invitation to answer, and I did so thusly:

    We exist -- I say "we" because I embrace the community despite being way outside its primary demographic -- because we find something deeply satisfying in the ponyverse.  It's far more extensive than most people think: in four seasons we've only scratched the surface, only begun to get a handle on its history and its ways.  While there are occasional villains to deal with, most of the episodes are about conflicts among friends -- just like Real Life as we know it.  And while Lauren Faust drew upon fairly standard tropes to develop her characters, she made a point of giving them major personality flaws -- again, just like Real Life as we know it, none of us being anywhere near perfect.

    Yes, it's a show for young girls: at least, that's what it says in the Hasbro annual report.  But just as I wouldn't discourage a girl from engaging in allegedly male pursuits -- my daughter used to drive a forklift -- I have no problems with watching this series, and no patience for those whose self-professed masculinity is offended thereby.

    I figure that there, just like here, I can wait for the downvotes to accumulate, and then ignore them.

    2 comments · 47 views
  • 23w, 42m
    Some sort of Horse Latin

    The Latin-O-Meter, situated at latinometer.com, attempts to analyze your prose in terms of how much Latin-derived material it contains, and therefore, by its lights, how pretentious (or worse) you are.  Here's the scale:

    20% and below: You see the world in concrete terms

    20% to 35%: You sound educated

    35% to 60%: You sound pretentious

    60% and above: You are probably lying

    Um, duh. This is fiction. "Lying" is outside the boundaries of fiction, though fictional characters lie all the time.

    I plugged in a particularly purple paragraph from Second Act, just to see what I'd get:

    From the bog at the south end of the Everfree, through the near side of Ponyville, to the caverns under Canterlot Mountain, runs a single ley line, a channel for the transmission of magic. Some believe Star Swirl the Bearded himself, finding a resonance at a constant frequency in those caverns, followed it on hoof all the way across the forest, seeking its source. Others, more skeptical, suggest he foisted off the job on Clover the Clever. One assignment given to second-year students in Celestia’s School for Gifted Unicorns is to calculate the exact frequency of that resonance. They are not told, of course, that the number denoting that frequency is an irrational number, the decimal places stretching out to infinity. Focusing mechanisms generally round it off to 1.7 million cycles per second, which provides 99.8 percent accuracy.

    It scored a 48, which is not quite halfway through the "pretentious" scale.  (I'd guessed high 50s.)

    1 comments · 46 views
  • 25w, 1d
    Pony MADness

    In the very front of Al Jaffee's ridiculous MAD Fold-In this month (#529, dated 10/14), there's a pony.  Looks like a G1 pony, though the logo doesn't match, and the cutie mark is five dollar signs arranged in sort of a cross.

    (For the record, Jaffee was older when G1 debuted than I am now -- though not much older.)

    0 comments · 44 views
  • 27w, 3h
    Meanwhile on the back burner

    About the time I started on the fourth TwiBrush story, I also ginned up an unrelated side project, based on a brief scene from The Sparkle Chronicles:

    "She's one of three mailmares in Ponyville. She works only part-time because she's raising a foal all alone."

    Of course. "Does she make enough for them to live on?"

    "I’m afraid not," said Twilight. "The stallion who, er, had his way with her was never heard from again, otherwise he'd be paying foal support. Mayor Mare asked Princess Celestia for assistance, and the Princess set up a small annuity for them. If they find him, they'll collect from him."

    Premise:  Suppose we heard from that stallion.  What then?

    I have a first chapter nearing completion.  If you'd like a link to the work in progress, drop me a PM.

    0 comments · 53 views
  • 27w, 3d
    The dreaded dropoff ratio

    I am always fascinated by Bad Horse's blog posts, and this one is no exception.  I zeroed in on this particular statistic:

    The number of people who read chapter 2 is usually 40% to 70% of the number who read chapter 1. The exceptions to this rule are not good stories, but very, very bad stories. For this gem, for instance, it's 93%.

    And this conclusion of his contains about 55 percent pure burn:

    All the effort I've made to write "well" then seems silly. It's just setting the difficulty level higher. And that is the sort of thing that makes sense mainly for people who write for themselves, who are playing solitaire (to win) rather than hearts (to have fun with other people).

    I am minded of Janis Ian's reference (in "At Seventeen") to "cheat ourselves at solitaire," which, on the face of it, sounds like my approach.

    That said, I went to gather the numbers -- on The Sparkle Chronicles, simply because there are more numbers to be gathered -- and minded the decline:

    Chapter 1 - 2299 views.

    Chapter 2 - 1454 views.

    Chapter 3 - 1368 views.

    Chapter 4 - 1377 views.

    Chapter 5 - 1264 views.

    Chapter 6 - 1628 views.

    Chapter 2 readers, compared to Chapter 1 readers: 63.2 percent.  In the ballpark, though not in the Major Leagues.  (I assume the burst of enthusiasm for Chapter 6 is due to people wanting to make sure it's over.)

    Of course, the startling statistic is the fact that all these numbers have four digits; I was expecting maybe a couple of dozen reads, and no more, before the rest of the world lost interest.   We have since established that I am no good at projecting these things.

    2 comments · 183 views
  • 28w, 5d
    We got your minutiae right here

    After knocking out the introduction to Chapter 8 of The Life That Late He Led, I realized that hey, we're half a week into their married life, and I'm on Chapter 8?  At this rate, by the time we get to the final unwinding of this thing, it's going to be the size of -- well, okay, not Fallout: Equestria, but still fairly huge.

    0 comments · 84 views
Aug
4th
2012

Counting words · 4:27pm

I am becoming persuaded that every editor in existence counts them differently.  Google is full of people who have found discrepancies between how many words they think they wrote and how many words Microsoft Word thinks they wrote.

I didn't pay any attention to this phenomenon, of course, until I landed here.  I wrote The Sparkle Chronicles in the WordPress editor, since it's the one I use most often these days.  The three chapters published here so far are listed at 3278 + 2830 + 3886 = 9994 words.  WordPress says 3186 + 2727 + 3720 = 9633.

None of this presents any particular problem -- I mean, it's not like I get paid by the word for anything I write, and I'm not going to sit here all day and count words myself -- but it is the sort of thing I agonize over for No Good Reason At All.

Dusty Sage · 179 views · Report
#1 · 130w, 13h ago · · ·

Well, that's an interesting glitch. Does it count non-word characters like punctuation?

#2 · 130w, 13h ago · · ·

I'm really not sure where the discrepancies fall.  I know WordPress doesn't count anything inside an anchor link, but since there aren't any in the story, that can't account for it.

Perhaps it's in how compound words are figured.  ("Two-hooved drinkers" might be two words in one editor, three in another.)  I don't really consider this a "glitch," which implies that something is doing something other than what it's intended to do.  And really, I wouldn't blame the FF crew for using a broad definition of "words," inasmuch as you have to have at least a thousand of them in your opening chapter.

#3 · 129w, 6d ago · · ·

And just to indulge my OCD: I put back in 51 (per WordPress) or 52 (per FIMFiction) words I'd struck from Chapter 3.  (They're at the bottom.)  Counting by hand (or hoof, I suppose), I get 52, so maybe it's that WP is undercounting by a shade.

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