Friday, October 30, 2009

Psychics and Twisted Sisters

Well, here's first for me. A fellow writer from our Futuristic, Fantasy and Paranormal chapter posted the need for psychics for her Halloween blog.

I replied, "How psychic?" and proceeded to explain the ability/disability that I've been cursed/blessed with for the last thirty years. See the interview wiht me and others 'psychics' at Twisted Sisters Blog on Halloween.

If you miss it I'll post it in its entirety here, Sunday.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Write... or Die, Sucker! Die!

"Putting the PROD in productivity." Youch!

See the fire on that keyboard? That's what this little program will do for you. Nail your butt to the chair, your hands to the keyboard.

You set the mode and goal. Choose Gentle or Kamikaze!!

Just in time for Nano Write or Die has put out a desktop version of it's popular online writing productivity software.

It's only $10 and works on Mac and PC. Simply pay, follow the link in your payment confirmation email and then click on INSTALL on the site. You'll be prompted to install AIR if it's not on your computer and you're set. (Don't worry about all those scary little error messages you get that make you think you're downloading the HBomb virus, just say yes and continue.)

Now, be brave. Go for it!

I want to hear about it. Did you try kamakaze? Elektric shock mode? (Double Youch!)

Don't be a wuss, set your grace period on Evil, ahhaahhahahhahhhhaaaa. Or you can choose your least favorite evil song to play if you don't make your goal. And new in this version is the ability to have a Word war with a friend, a fun way to kick up the numbers.

Oh, and the free version is still available use if you're online.

Hint: This little program would work well with Freemind if you have to brainstorm in between writing stints.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Happy Anniversary, Michael

Okay, so our bud, Michael Malone, who has an outlandishly clever blog across the pond called May Contain Nuts, hit a milestone Monday. 100 Blogs!

Let's hear it for Mick.

I figure now that he's over the hill - blogwise - he should do something for the ladies. Like a hunk at the head of the post.

Something like this guy...

Ironically, I was looking for a tattooed man’s picture – not what I had in mind for sure – to use for inspiration – I’m still laughing mind you – for my story poster for RCPn when I came across Geoff Ostling, an Australian who has put forth a massive canvas for the sake

You should be glad I didn't link to picture number 1. All I could think was OUCH! Ouch! Ouchie! But you really should see it.

I'm still looking for my hunky tattoo man...


Just a quickie. We're supposed to be getting 4-6 inches of rain in the next day or two so I'm sure I won't have internet so tomorrow's blog will be the hunk of the day in celebration of a fellow writer/poet's 100th blog, and Friday some details about the new desktop version of Write Or Die. Ya'll come back.

Free-Mind for writers

Mind-mapping with Free Mind. It's a brainstorming tool. It's an organizer. Create a mindmap to collect family information, organize your week, or brainstorm a plot thread. I've been using this little program for four or five years. With the latest upgrade it's significantly improved.

Here's an example of one I made in the early stages of RCP to brainstorm the crime, clues, suspects, and motives of characters. You can also store links and customize nodes.

A world of information will fit in a small space by collapsing the nodes and expanding as needed. It's so easy to use, so versatile and it's free!

I've see some intricately designed mindmaps and simple ones like the one at Moving to Freedom for a very simple and creative application of the program. (Preview below.)

For Mac or PC download it here.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


BIAW started last Monday. I'm satisfied with 10k word count for five days, but especially gratifying was the way the plot started expanding and pieces began to fit together.

It reminds me of a football game. You start off with a game plan but you need to have plenty of extra plays and players on the sidelines so when the other team makes unexpected moves you can change up on the fly.

I'd spent several months revamping the setting and characters and developing the paranormal world fearing I hadn't done enough. I was pleased to find out that my fear was unfounded.

Do all writers go into each wip with a fear of the unknown? Or just pantsers.

It's scary but so rewarding when the magic happens.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Writer’s Café software for Mac and PC

If you’ve seen my previous blogs this week on Ywriter, Write It Now 4.0, and Scrivener, you’re familiar with common features to look for in writing software.

Operating system compatibility.
Ease of use
Specialty tools for character creation
Research organization
Drag and drop capability
Export to rtf functionality
Potential for customization
The writing space
Storyboard features
Frequent/customizable backups

I discovered Writer’s Café recently, a program developed by a husband and wife team of writers from Edinburgh, Scotland. The interface looks a lot like we’ve come to expect from Windows desktop with the added benefit of being able to use it on Mac or PC.

Notice the icons and tip screen on the main window aimed at helping the writer understand the program, get technical support, and write a better novel, report, or screenplay. There’s an explorer window on the left where your files appear and options for creating folders for your research phase – Scrap, Pinboard, notebook, or writing journal are there as well.

Collect all your research or build a flow chart in Scrap. Throw in links, text, pictures. It’s your story scrapbook.

Start a pinboard where you can place stickies of ideas on a whim. Use the notebook or keep a journal of your writing process or the convenient name generator for characters. Many features in Writer’s Café crossover, so you can decide which is best for your writing process.

One of the best brainstorming tools is the flexible storyline tool which allows you to create different lines to track a story thread, povs, etc. in cards which translate into an outline and your writing space.

Here's a different setup

The cards can be tagged and color coded. Here I created a tag for sensual scenes. The cards tagged will be hot pink.

If you’re a panster the storyboard tool as much for analysis as for plotting. In my current WIP I wanted to trace the hero’s paranormal arc. I tagged those card scenes with purple and when I looked at the storyline, I found that it was happening all at once.

It’s similar to storyboard features in the other programs but the storyline feature here is a little trickier. WC also uses some different terminology. For instance you wip/manuscript is called a report. And exporting isn’t quite as easy with WC.

But if you are adept with computer software, Writer’s Café could be the program for you. The good news is you can get a demo here to try before you buy and tech support from Julian Smart and the yahoo loop is excellent.

(Are you familiar with mind mapping? It's an excellent visual way to brainstorm relationships between characters or scenes. Wednesday I'll run through some of the features on a fabulous FREE program for both Mac and PC.)

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Saints Sunday!! Are you ready?

I wasn't sure I was when it was 24-3 Miami! late in the first half but then the Saints proved why they are undefeated so far.

WOoooooHooo! as I write this there's only 2 minutes left and the score is 46-34 SAINTS.

They are the real deal! Gooo Saints!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Scrivener for Writers

I switched from WriteItNow3 to the ‘Mac only’ Scrivener program about two years ago. There are many features Scrivener offers that can enhance your writing experience.

From this sample taken from my first novel, you can see the scene files on the left in the 'binder'. I chose to title them with sequential days because the timeframe was important to the plot and it was easier to keep track but you can name them Scene 1, Scene 2, etc. Notice each scene gets a Synopsis/index card in the inspector on the top right. The top line is the name of the file. Under it are the key phrases for the scene.

Under the synopsis are the Labels and Status options. You decide what works for you. I used the colored labels for pov, turning points, etc. The Status is just as flexible and is shown in the tutorial tracking first draft, 1st revision, final draft.

Insert a note you need on hand for the project or the document in the notes and keywords section.

Daily project targets help you stay on track with your progress. Notice the coded chapter headings in the document and the continuity of the scene names at the top of the program, in the document and on the synopsis card.

I mentioned the ability to keep research within the project file. The Research section is below the draft on the tree in the Binder. You can drag html, links, images, maps, all into a file in the research section. Build characters there, track your settings, or create a whole separate Scrivener file to hold research for a bigger project like a series and drag and drop from one to the other.

When you get ready to take a broader look there are several ways to view you WIP.

As an outline where labels, synopsis card and scene names are viewable and draggable.

Select a group of files and view or format them as one with 'Edit Scrivenings'. Or view as a corkboard, which is like a storyboard where index cards can be dragged around. The labels you apply to your cards show up on your corkboard like this one and you can adjust how many cards per row.

Or select several scenes and view them, copy/paste them into Word processor.

A great way to get familiar with Scrivener is through the interactive Tutorial in the Help file of the program. Still have questions? Maybe you'd like to know how other writers use Scrivener. Visit the forum at Literature and Latte.

Though it’s not the most difficult program to use, a lot of the features are not for beginners either. Like exporting the file using the 'Compile draft' feature. It may take you several attempts to get your ‘compiled draft’ to work with the formatting of chapter headings, font, and layout. But if you're adept with Word you can probably fix it. Or you can simply choose the entire draft, copy it and paste to Word.

Again, this program is only available for Macs and you can try it before you buy it like all the programs I've mentioned this week.

If you need an easier to use program for Mac or PC with seemless Export to rtf feature, check out my previous blog on Write It Now 4.03.

Monday – Writer’s Café, for Macs and PCs.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Write It Now 4.0 - software for writers

As I mentioned in Part 1 on Tuesday, Ywriter served me well for a while but my PC latop was four years old and my new Mac was beckoning to me to use it more so I started looking for a software package that would work on the Mac OS, Tiger or better.

Write It Now by Ravenshead Services
is another user friendly package with some pretty awesome writing tools.

Versions 3 and 4 both offer a tree hierarchy so you can organize your folders of scenes, characters, ideas, locations, and notes.

One excellent feature put it in a category all its own – the complete character creator. Create a character from scratch by clicking on Tools|Create Character from Add-on. This is simply awesome and motivation for purchasing this program just for this tool. On one screen (below) you can choose to create a name, personality (based on Archetype, Enneagram, or Myers-Briggs), description, and the characters timeline in relation to world events. Use all or part of the creator.

Create a name (or part of one) based on culture. Add personality traits, relationships.

In addition, there is a flexible relationship chart to document each character’s relationship with others then with a click - view it as a chart.

Need a custom personality trait or relationship? Add them as needed.
The program offers the expected word evaluators like count, frequency, readability, spell check, and thesaurus. And like Ywriter, there is a section for tracking submissions.

ADDENDUM: I neglected to show the storyboard feature in Write It Now. Like the rest of Write It Now, it's easy to use and wonderful for revising. Here's a sample storyboard.

Another extremely cool feature for revisions - the export tool,reliable and easy to use, creates a macro in the top line which will, when clicked on, create a Table of Contents. Then you can view it in Word with Document Map and click to your desired page making revisions easier. Very convenient.

The same file can be opened in both Mac and PC! So you can work on your Macbook and your Windows desktop PC with the same file. On top of that, outstanding tech support is available from the folks at Ravenshead Services in Lockerbie, Scotland. You can try a demo of Write It Now 4.0 and see more screenshots here.

Next, the program many writers use – the Mac program, Scrivener.

Ywriter5 - Free Software for writers

Four years ago I began looking for a software package for writers. At that time, I was most versed in Windows, having taught Windows programs at the local community college - Word, Works, Word Perfect, QuickBooks, Netscape and Internet, Excel. Then I bought my 20 inch Imac, one of the first Intel chip Macs but the writing software the Apple Store offered was more of a scriptwriting program so for my writI decided to use my PC laptop with a smart little writing program by Simon Haynes, a writer and software designer at SpaceJock.

Simon has many useful programs on his site, all of them free. His easy to use writing program, Ywriter, has been upgraded in recent years but has always included such useful features as a Explorer-like drag and drop chapter/scene list, scene details like Goal, Motivation and Conflict, character development tabs, word frequency, readability values, locations tab and writing goals.

But that’s not all. Ywriter has a storyboard/timeline.

You can even track the POV character in Ywriter.

And automatic backups ensure you’ll never lose a revision.

Most writing programs use an export to rtf feature for the final revising and submission since publishers use Word as its standard and Ywriter does that as well.

Free in this case doesn’t mean you get what you pay for. You get far more. You can download Ywriter here. You can view all of the screenshots and reviews at, watch a video tutorial and even download one of Simon’s entertaining books free here.

Monday, October 19, 2009

He Said, She Said Chronicles 1

When he was little:
“You know, Mommy, the other kids don’t have to lay down for a nap. Why do I?”
“That’s tough, kid.”

When he was married with kids:
“I was visiting Sara and Randy. You know, in their bathroom in the hallway, they leave their toilet seat up…” no response. “Why can’t we?”
“Not no, but…”

Tomorrow, the first of my blogs on software for writers and BIAW begins for the month of October.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Are you Readyyy?

Yes, it’s football Sunday. The Saints are undefeated at 4 and oh, and they face the undefeated New York Giants who are 5 and oh but I’m not nervous. Even though the Saints had a bye week, Eli is coming ‘home’ to New Orleans, and three out of five commentators picked the Giants – I AM PREDICTING Saints 48-Giants 31. People have been underestimating the Saints all year.

Go Saints!

Halftime Update: 34 - 17, Saints. And Brees has thrown for 4 TDs in the first half! We're bad. We're bad.

Third Quarter Update: Uh-oh. 41-17. I may have underestimated, hee, hee.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Sunshine and bandwidth

Okay, I've ranted enough about this that everyone knows when there's rain, it means little or no satellite internet. Emails will eventually go through but surfing or building a blog post and uploading - forget it.

Sounds like another rant, huh? Well, if it looks like a duck...

So finally today we get sunshine and cool weather. (It's going to be 45 in the morning. WOOHOO! I pulled out the sweat pants for work tomorrow, cranked up the butane heater this morning, and sat down to catch up on a few internet tasks. A week puts me SO far behind though and my weekly trip to the bookstore/highspeed cafe yesterday was cut short.

So I got my computer updates done, major mac update, downloaded my audibles, went through changes for my website, and now I'm posting my little blog promise.

I had promised earlier in the month to blog about the four writing software programs and the one I've settled on. I'll do that next week in four parts. I get very little done on Sundays during football season so I'll do my blogs then and upload them on a nice day.

Monday BIAW begins. For those of you who don't know about BIAW, it's a Book in a Week loop which repeats each month for our GIAM goals loop. The goal - write as much as you can in 7 days. Looks like I may not be working but one day next week so I should get a good start on RCPN.

Last week, after cleaning up the scenes I had originally the manuscript decreased to around 20k from 30 but amazingly, I'm not shook up over it.

I toyed with first person for the main character, writing the new first scene. I liked it and I listened to some advice from some published authors on the RWA cds about POV. One editor said use the pov that best suits you. But avoid it if you always sound like the same person, i.e., yourself. Another said, only do one POV per chapter. A third, don't write in first AND third. And a multi published author said, "Phooey on that. I've done it all and it hasn't stopped me from getting published yet." The bottom line seems to be if you write it well enough, the plot and world are interesting enough and the characters stick with the reader, anything can be forgiven.

So I'll write the main character in first, everyone else in third. Then if it pulls the reader out of the story, I'll go back and put the main character in third. Writing in first and switching back to third might help create a deeper third pov in the end.

See you Monday! (unless I find something I just have to share before then.)

Monday, October 5, 2009

How to Tweet

Okay, besides being rainy and having no internet, you know what I was doing yesterday. You got it! Go Saints! They are 4-0. Maybe people will finally take us seriously.

But I'm no slacker. I can point you to a great blog by Leah Braemel on How to use Twitter. If you're one of those, like me, who doesn't have the chance to use Twitter enough to learn to use it to its full potential, NEVER FEAR, Leah is here with detailed instructions and screenshots to boot. Catch part one from Sunday.

Give us more, Leah!