Create, Organise, Rearrange with MS Word

G. Kaye wrote a post not long ago regarding Scrivener, the software that is meant to make our writing life easier. Like me, however, many writers have found the program’s large learning curve frustrating and time-consuming.

Some writers love it, wouldn’t write without it, but my brain—and obviously those of many others—don’t function the same way as those lovers of Scrivener. So Scrivener not only looks confusing, but it also becomes illogical to use because other programs work better for us.

Personally, I organise my ideas—including story lines—through memory and patterns. I’m a visual person. I see words in my brain as shapes, and when I see a misspelt word, I recognise it as such because it’s not in its correct shape.

My brain records all things—words, people, places, feelings—in shape form. Yes, you are a blob that floats through my brain, but a blob I recognise easily if your aura has left a marker in my subconscious.

Being a visual person with blob properties, I have to see either the big picture or a large section of it to work efficiently. Scrivener doesn’t allow me to do this easily. It’s like their windows have curtains over them. MS Word allows me to have curtainless windows, giving me a perspective on the entire project while closing off those unnecessary to a particular section of work.

Because here’s the kicker: too much information amounts to clutter. Too many blobs floating around my peripheral vision confuses my brain and reduces my ability to concentrate. That’s the downside of having a wide peripheral view of the world. Narrow glasses drive me nuts because my eyes keep focussing between what I want to look at and the frames. I’m a ‘John Denver, wide-rimmed glasses’ kinda gal.

So while Scrivener may be the cat’s meow for some writers, it doesn’t correlate with my brain. MS Word does, and I can do everything in Word others can do in Scrivener, including rearranging scenes and chapters. Here’s how you do it.

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Happy Canada Day

Canada Day - July 1, 1867

Pig on Trial

Diane Tibert:

Darlene Foster has just released a book, one that is very different that what we’re used to seeing. Check it out on her blog and leave a comment for a chance to win a copy.

Originally posted on Darlene Foster's Blog:

These past six months have been quite crazy. Moving to another country is not for the faint of heart. There is so much to learn. Since travelling around for the first month, we have lived in three different places. It feels good to be in a more permanent place now. It goes without saying that my writing has taken a back seat. I´ve been working on the fifth book in the Amanda series, but it has been slow going.

However, I was fortunate to be introduced to Pablo Solares Acebal, from Ediciones Camelot, by Mary Barr, a fellow writer from Canada.  Pablo agreed to translate and publish my story, Pig on Trial, as a bi-lingual book called Cerdito a juicio. I am very pleased with the final result.

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The book is written in English on one page and Spanish on the opposite page.

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The Blurb:

What is Sebastian to do?…

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WITHOUT MACHINE GUN TO CAMBRAI

Book Review: A Fool In France, by Christina Keith. Part One: The Daintiest of Tan Suede Shoes.

A publisher told me once: books come in two categories; those for men and those for women. Men buy books about Adolf Hitler, Winston Churchill and war; women buy novels. Apart from books about cookery and cats, that’s the English market. Writers of men’s books saw the 2014 centenary of the Great War approaching well in time but, so far, few of their books have captured the public imagination, perhaps because too many of them hit the market in one go and too many of them look the same. Most publishers are not mavericks in the herd. Instead of giving us interesting new stories they prefer re-garnishing the old ones. When the legend becomes fact, print the legend every time. Lions led by donkeys; mud, blood and self-sacrifice; in Flanders fields the poppies grow, in industrially homogenised formats.

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Business Tip: Claiming Travel Expenses

Business TipOver the weekend, I bumped into a gentleman I had met a few months earlier at a market. Like me, he makes and sells his own soap. We talked about business, and the tax man soon came up.

Obviously no one likes the tax man whether you’re making lots of money, no money, claiming everything and being honest or hiding things and being a crook. That’s just the way things go. For most of us, taxes mean piles of paperwork that is not always comprehensible.

Still, we plough on and learn what it takes to please the tax man.

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Lesley Crewe on Making a Film

Atlantic Books Today asked Lesley Crewe to share five things she learned while turning her novel, Relative Happiness, into a movie.

  1. Always answer “yes”, when someone calls you out of the blue and asks if you own the movie rights to your novel. The only reason I did, is because Jane Buss of the Writer’s Federation of Nova Scotia told me it was absolutely necessary, and I was not to sign a book contract without it. I was anxious to sign any book contract, and did it really matter if I had sole ownership of film rights? I mean it wasn’t like my novel would be made into a movie. That was ludicrous. It was my first book. Who the heck would want it? Turns out someone did. And because I listened to Jane’s advice, I didn’t have to share my movie earnings with anyone other than my agent.

To read the four other things she learned, visit Atlantic Books Today.

Black Widow is a Slut

Female SuperheroesWhose fault is that?

We could easily blame it on Hawkeye’s vision of her, but is he to blame? Although Captain America agreed, is he to blame?

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, view this clip in which the interviewer starts the interview with the following question, “I have a very serious question to start with about shifting(?) (difficult to make out). Because I know a lot of fans were actually pretty invested in the idea of Natasha with actually either/or, or both of you guys, and now obviously she’s with Bruce. What do you guys make of that?”

A tired and bored-looking Hawkeye replied, “She’s a slut.”

Captain America released a whole-hearty laugh and agreed.

In reality, neither of these superheroes are to blame for the image of Black Widow and the idea she is a slut. They didn’t write the story or the script. They also didn’t write the comics in which Black Widow appeared.

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East Hants Fine Art Show

If you are in the Milford Station, Hants County, Nova Scotia, area this weekend, you might be interested in stopping at the East Hants Fine Art Show. Dozens of artists will have their work on the display. Visitors can also purchase a selection of artwork.

The show is open to the public on Saturday and Sunday May 1st and 2nd between the hours of 10:00 am and 4:00 pm. If you are interested in joining the East Hants Fine Art Association, you can pick up an membership form there. If not, drop me a line, and I can help you get in touch with the right people. Read the full post »

Author Solutions and Friends: The Inside Story

Originally posted on David Gaughran:

ASandfriendsweboptAuthor Solutions has forged partnerships with a long list of famous names in publishing – from Simon & Schuster and Hay House to Barnes & Noble and Reader’s Digest.

Recent disclosures in various lawsuits, along with information sent to me by a Penguin Random House source, detail for the very first time exactly how these partnerships work and the damage they are causing.

Since a second suit was filed at the end of March, Author Solutions is now facing two class actions, with the new complaint alleging unjust enrichment and exploitation of seniors on top of the usual claims of fraud and deceptive practices. It also has a wonderfully precise summary of Author Solutions’ operations:

Author Solutions operates more like a telemarketing company whose customer base is the Authors themselves. In other words, unlike a traditional publisher, Author Solutions makes money from its Authors, not for them. It does so…

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Character Sheets

Know your charactersIn a recent blog post, I discussed the importance of Style Sheets. Another form sheet equally important is the character sheet. Even if a story has only a handful of characters, a detailed list will help keep them in line and their hair colour from changing from chapter to chapter.

A character sheet is a life saver if a novel contains many characters or is one in a series. During the first edit of Shadows in the Stone, I created one to save my sanity. The story contains 74 named characters. Some of these individuals were mentioned only two or three times, but it was important to keep their individual stories straight, along with their age and the weapons of their choice.

What to put on a character sheet is up to the writer. Personally, I use the following headings.

Name

The full name of the character is written in the first column along with nicknames, ranks, titles and keys to pronunciation (if it is an unusual name). With regard to nicknames, I add a note about who uses them.

For example, we may know a character as Chris, but his mother might still call him Christopher while his best friend calls him Shortie.

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The Relatively New Hostage Virus

New FlashComputer viruses are our arch nemesis. In the first attack on my system in 1999, I lost everything. The computer was new with few personal files, so it wasn’t a tragic loss. The biggest headache was taking the system to a shop and having them delete the harddrive and reinstall the software.

Since then I’ve stood as the front line defence against many attempts to infect my system. The famous worm that shut down our server did not get to me because I acted quickly. Every email is scrutinized. Those suspected of carrying a virus are deleted without opening.

The attempts to damage my system were minor inconveniences. Not everyone has escaped these viruses with as little damage. But knowledge is power, and everyone who is aware of these sorts of infections can take immediate action to reduce the damage.

So when my files were taken hostage with a click of a false update, it came as a complete surprise.

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IndieRecon This Week

Is this the online event of the year for indie authors? It just might be.

What is IndieRecon?

“Three packed days of advice and education about self-publishing and reaching readers. PLUS this year: a live-streamed Indie Author Fringe Festival, from the London Book Fair.”—IndieRecon.org

Who else is involved?
IndieRecon is being run this year in conjunction with the Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi), one of the best of the author-centric groups for indie authors.

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How to Contact an Illustrator

Castle clouds cropped02 5x5aI’ve talked with many writers over the years about how to find or create illustrations their books. That might be just the cover for a novel or a multi-page children’s picture book.

Although these writers had a handle on writing, they confessed the best they could do were stick people or an actual photograph (which still doesn’t get the job done). When I suggested hiring an illustrator, they said either one of two excuses:

1. They’re too expensive.

2. It’s impossible to find one.

Well, it does cost money to create images, and just like teachers, pizza makers and writers, illustrators need to eat, wear clothes and have shelter. They might even want to take in a movie every other year. So they must make money.

Up until about two years ago, I believed what many writers said: illustrators are impossible to find. I had not looked for one, but occasionally I heard of freelance authors working with illustrators to create their books. I knew they were out there, but the question was, Where were they hiding?

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Style Sheets

EditingWe may not consciously think about style while we’re writing. We’re too busy getting the words down and telling the story. Still, in the back of our minds, we’re thinking, What style is best for this story?

I’m not talking about the genre, the make-up of the characters, how the plot plays out or how words are composed to create a feeling for readers. I’m talking about the style of mechanics we consciously decide upon to create the story.

I’ve not heard of other writers talk about style sheets, and I’ve never created one for any writing I’ve done for either fiction or non-fiction. But in the back of my brain are a few basic commands that come into play while I’m writing.

For example, when I’m writing my genealogy column, I avoid using too many contractions. I also use short paragraphs because in the newspaper world, columns are narrow, making a long paragraph look even longer. This, apparently, can tire a reader’s eyes (and interest) faster than short paragraphs.

When I write for children, I avoid complex text and punctuation. When I write fantasy, I’m more likely to use words such as goblet instead of glass, spirtle instead of wooden spoon. Basically they are the same things, yet one conjures images of fantasy whilst the other takes us to the kitchen where dirty dishes await.

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Kick-Ass Women of SciFi & Fantasy: Dana Scully

Diane Tibert:

Alyssa Waugh, in her blog post, explains well why I admired Dana Scully of “X-Files”. I dislike the way many women are portrayed in movies, television shows and books. “X-Files” is still one of my favourite shows.

Originally posted on Alyssa Waugh:

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“Baby’ me, and you’ll be peeing through a catheter.”

Dana Scully….

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She was on The X-Files in 1993, and as one fan says:

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If you don’t understand what we mean by most women on T.V. today being portrayed as complete idiots, watch two seconds of any episode of Two and a Half Men. Go on, try to formulate an argument that women on Two and a Half Men are portrayed in any quasi realistic way.

indexBut as it always has, the science fiction genre shows women in strong and intelligent roles. On the cult SciFi classic TheX-Files which aired in 1993, Dana Scully became an inspiration for strong women everywhere.

Despite her small stature, rest assured that Dana Scully can kick ass. She’s handy with a microscope as well as a gun, physically fit, can take down a man twice her size, and has on multiple occasions. Remember…

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Finding Great Book Cover Ideas

I have designed all the covers for my books. For me, it’s the treat of the whole publishing process. I love playing with images, text and light to find something that attracts my eye.

Although many will say, Don’t judge a book by its cover, it’s a fact that many people do just that. I know I do.

I’m more likely to buy a book if its cover appeals to me, and I will pass on a book if the cover hits a wrong nerve or is unattractive. Trashy fantasy novels with half-clad women never go into my cart. It doesn’t matter who the author is or how many people brag up the story.

I’ve been asked many times where I find the ideas for my covers. My answer is everywhere.

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Farewell But Not Goodbye

Milk-SpiritYou died on a warm, windless, sunny winter’s day, a day boxed between a blizzard and the promise of thirty centimetres more in snow. A black bird sang a solitary song on a birch branch nearby. Three crows watched atop one of the great evergreens lining the garden. The donkey peeked around its shelter, looking forlornly towards your bed. The occasional rooster call echoed across the frozen ground, and the cloudless sky swathed the earth in a bright blue canopy.

If there was a peaceful day to die, this day, a breath away from spring, was a good day. The sun shined down on you, making your coat warm and cosy as you lay in the hay. Your barn mate walked around you, checking you or perhaps saying goodbye, one more time. No more would you both ram heads together in play, in challenge or in silliness.

Huge mounds of snow surrounded us, cradled us as we waited, for it did seem we simply waited: waited for the last breath, the last heartbeat, the last goodbye song by the bird, feathers glistening in the morning sun.

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Self-publishing Books for Children post

I have not yet self-published a children’s picture book, but I probably will in the future, so I’m going to tuck this post away for that day.

My first book, The River Dragon (Harpercollins), was published in 1990, and I’ve been involved in the industry since then. In the last 20 months, I’ve made the switch from traditional publishing to an independent publishing company, with 20 titles available. As I say in this article, the first 18 months were devoted to production, distribution and accounting. The next 18 months will continue those activities, but focus more on marketing.

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Book and Soap Sale Event

Today (Saturday March 14) I will be selling books at the Crafter’s Train Vendors Market taking place at Sackville Lions Club, 101 Old Beaverbank Rd, Lower Sackville, Nova Scotia.

I will have for sale copies of the following books:

Diane Lynn McGyver

  • Shadows in the Stone
  • Fowl Summer Nights
  • Pockets of Wildflowers
  • Nova Scotia-Life Near Water

Sheila McDougall

  • City of Light and Shadow

Sam Lynn Smith

  • Boys Ride, Too

Also for sale will be my homemade Moonshire Goat Milk Soap. The varieties available are

  • Coconut Creamy
  • Safflower Supreme
  • Luscious Lavender
  • Citronella Bug Off
  • Gardener’s Delight
  • Oatmeal and Honey
  • Lemon Poppy Seed

The event runs from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm. Hope to see you there.

Will Google find you after April 21st?

New FlashThe Internet world is always changing, sometimes for the good and sometimes for the not so good. As users we are forced to take the good with the bad if we still want to play the game.

If you’re like me, you use Google a lot. It is my go-to search engine. It has been for years.

Using Google to check my own sites to see if they appear in search results is something I’ve also been doing for years. After all, we all want to be found on the Internet so people can read our blog posts.

On April 21st the ability to be found in Google search engines on mobile devices might be hampered if you’re not mobile friendly. If your website doesn’t properly fit in the apps of telephones, tablets and other small, mobile devices people use to search the Net on the go, then you have two choices:

1) fall into a black hole, never to be found by a random search

2) tweak your site to fit to make it mobile friendly.

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