• It is said that good things come to those who wait. I believe that good things come to those who work. - Wilt Chamberlain
  • A professional writer is an amateur who didn't quit. - Richard Bach
  • You don't find time to write. You make time. It's my job. - Nora Roberts
  • Each morning we are born again. What we do today is what matters most. - Buddha
  • Luck is when an opportunity comes along and you're prepared for it. - Denzel Washington
  • I can accept failure, but I can't accept not trying. - Michael Jordan

Friday, July 23, 2010

Eye Strain

After spending so many hours at the computer during my rewrite, I've developed a serious case of eyestrain, to the point even reading a book causes my eyes to ache. Along the lines of don't let this happen to you, here is a copy of a helpful article from Office Ergonomics Training on how to avoid eyestrain. If you have any other suggestions I'd love to hear them!!!

A Dozen Things You Should Know About Eye Strain
1. Eyestrain means different things to different people. It can be experienced as burning, tightness, sharp pains, dull pains, watering, blurring, double vision, headaches, and other sensations, depending on the person. If you have any eye discomfort caused by viewing something, you can call it eyestrain.

2. In VDT workstations, the principal factors affecting the ability to see well are:
the luminance (brightness) difference between what is being looked at and its immediate environment
he amount of light
the distance between the eye and the screen and document
the readability of the screen and document
the worker's vision and his or her corrective lenses

3. Watch out for direct glare. Direct glare involves a light source shining directly into the eyes --- ceiling lights, task lights, or bright windows. To determine the degree of direct glare, you can temporarily shield your eyes with a hand and notice whether you feel immediate relief.

4. Reflected glare, such as on computer screens, sometimes causes eyestrain. But its worst effect may be causing you to change your posture to an uncomfortable one, in order to see well.

5. The most overlooked cause of eyestrain in offices is contrast --- usually, a dark screen surrounded by a bright background such as a window or a lit wall. The best solution is to find a way to darken the area around the screen. This problem occurs mainly on screens with light letters on a black background.

6. How much light is right? It depends on your age, the quality of the print you're reading, and other factors. There should be plenty of light for easy reading, but too much can, depending on the person, cause eyestrain.

7. Eyes are strained more by close viewing than by distant viewing. The "right" distance for computer monitors and documents depends entirely on how clearly they can be read at a given distance. The general rule is to keep viewed material as far away as possible, provided it can be read easily!!!

8. If you gaze at something too long, your eyes can tire. Eyes need to focus at different distances from time to time. It's a good idea to follow the "20/20 rule" --- every twenty minutes, look twenty feet away for twenty seconds.

9. If two objects are only a couple of inches different in their distance from the eyes, the eyes actually do NOT have to refocus to look from one to another.

Greater distance differences, however, can overwork the eyes if you have to look from one object to another frequently - -- as when typing from printed copy and looking at the screen. In general, keep viewed objects at about the same distance if you have to look back and forth a lot.

10. Can computer work cause nearsightedness? Rarely, according to optometrists. It's more likely that computer work makes you realize that you need glasses.

11. Sometimes eyestrain is just a case of dry eyes. Lowering the monitor can help. Looking downward means more of the eye surface is covered by the eyelid, and two other things happen: the eyes unconsciously blink more, and they produce more lubrication.

Here's more information on why you should consider a low monitor position.

12. People who need bifocals should consider other options besides bifocals. Two good ones are:
Computer glasses that focus at the right distance for the computer screen.
Wearing contact lenses --- corrected for computer or reading distance in one eye, and for far distance (if needed) in the other eye.

13. Bifocal wearers often experience sore necks and shoulders because they have to tip their heads back to see the computer screen.
Lower the screen as much as possible --- if it sits on the CPU, move the CPU.
If necessary, remove the monitor's tilt-swivel base (consult a computer hardware person first) to gain a couple additional inches.
Lower the work surface that the monitor sits on.

I know, there are 13 and the title says a dozen. What can I tell you? Did you find the article helpful? Any eyestrain stories you'd like to share? Any specific things you do to avoid eyestrain?

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Critique Partners

I sat out in the sun today for the first time this summer. Not long, but there is now a difference in color between my arms and my stomach (which has not seen direct sunlight since the birth of my first child back in 1991)! And why did I finally have time to sit out in the sun you ask? BECAUSE I FINALLY FINISHED MY SECOND REVISION/REWRITE!! I sent it off to my agent on Friday and plan for it to be in front of the editor at Harlequin Medical Romance no later then Friday 7/ time for me to head off to the RWA National Convention on 7/27 without having to worry about it.

So far I have resisted the urge to tinker because enough is enough.....and because after all the time I've spent at the computer these past four weeks, my eyes, hands, and back are demanding I take a here I sit....updating my blog.

Onto my post.

I belong to a writing group where we post our productivity and goals every week. Sometimes I see posts similar to this: So and so (we post in third person) didn't get any writing done this week but she did two beta reads and critiqued four chapters for her critique partners.

Didn't get any writing done? Shouldn't focusing on our own work come first?

My opinion on this has recently changed. In a past post I mentioned my new critique partner Joanne. While I have never met her in person, we work well together. A week or two into our partnership, Joanne got a request for a full from Silhouette Special Edition. Even though I was working on my rewrite at the time, I dropped everything and spent two full days critiquing her entire manuscript. Her submission with the editor, she's been instrumental in reviewing my work (chapter by chapter) within twenty-four hours, often times quicker, and pointing out issues that, after corrected, have really improved the quality of my manuscript. (Thank you, Joanne!!!)

My new opinion: If you can find the right one, a critique partner, AKA an objective pair of eyes, is a necessity. The problem: Finding the person who is strong where you're weak, committed to making your work the best as it can be, and dedicated to getting your work back timely is very difficult. (It's taken me over two years!)

Now I'll ask you:

What's your take on critique partners? Do you have one? Several?
Do you love them/hate them?
Do you think they're a time suck or time well spent?
Are they nice to have or a necessity?

Monday, July 12, 2010

I'm Still Here!

Hello Blog Friends!

To those of you who've stopped by over the past two weeks, sorry I haven't posted anything new. I haven't been around your blogs much either. I apologize. I've been buried under a massive rewrite which I hope to have finished by Friday. I just wanted to stop in and say, "I'm still here." Don't forget about me! I haven't forgotten about you!

Enjoy the beautiful weather for me! I hope to spend some time in the sun soon!