Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Organize your writing in Scrivener

I found a tidy little summary about keeping yourself organized with Scrivener over on MacWorld.com. It talks about reorganizing your work, "Files in the Binder can be chapters, sections, scenes, beats, or whatever you want. This is one of the important aspects of Scrivener, one which helps free you from the fetters of linear composition." And probably one of the most powerful features, the "Scrivenings" view mode. It lets you combine and edit multiple documents as if it were one big document. Among other things.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

We Have a Cover Mockup!

I just uploaded a new cover mock up on our Facebook Page. Go on over and let us know what you think!

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Thursday, May 26, 2011

Yes, I Write

I had a quick trip to Massachusets this weekend, which means a lot of driving for one day. So I didn’t want to do much when I got home. And it’s been a while since I’ve cleared my to-read list on my Google Reader, so I went back in to see how bad my “unreads” had gotten. Let me tell you, it was pretty bad.

But one of Nathan Bransford’s headlines caught me, and I actually read the whole thing. It was a guest blog asking the question “Do you tell people you write?”

This is actually something I’ve heard many other writers and authors talk about, with mixed answers. Everyone has their own reasons about the response they give.

I’ve heard a lot of romance and fantasy/sci-fi/horror writers give the excuse that they don’t want their fellow church goers to know about it because they’ll think it’s a weird hobby (there are quite a few who don’t keep mum too, mind you). I’ve heard others say it makes them look like underachievers or something like that, because it’s not a “useful” profession, and that’s why they keep it quiet.

Me, I certainly tell people I’m a writer—when it’s appropriate. That means when I meet new people in social situations; not, let’s say, at work in idle conversation before a meeting at my office job. But I will say that most of the people I work with, who know me, know I am a writer and cannot wait to buy my books.

I think the biggest reason I don’t hide my writing is that I like to see the surprise in people’s faces (yes it’s usually there). No, I don’t subscribe to the normal desk or retail job scene. And, I even like to see the slight censure in other people’s faces before they ask, “and how’s that working for you?” I’m kind of an ass that way, I guess. I love a challenge and ;) I love to be contrary. In this way I think I’m opposite many of the folks who keep mum.

I can get away with this because I am a very hardworking and driven person. No one could accuse me of being lazy or too unmotivated to make my way in the real world. I also have a unique reason for being this way (yes I’m making an excuse for myself). I have two degrees in writing (a BFA in creative writing and an MA in Popular Fiction from respected schools). I consider that back-up enough for any scoffing I might get from the unsuspecting non-writer. I can make writing a novel sound as technical as dissecting a fugu. I can talk about the origins of my genre, and others; and the importance of various literary figures throughout the ages. And as the other Scribists can attest, I can take anyone to task on grammar and style applications.

Aside from my personal preferences, spilling the beans that I’m a writer should, by all logic, help my sales. If people know my name, I think that would motivate them to buy my book. I mean, if I know an author personally I sure as hell go buy their books. But seeing as I don’t yet have a book on sale, most of the time I get new email addresses to add to my “newsletter list.” It shows that people really are interested.

Because I don’t mind some funny looks, there are so few instances when telling people I’m a writer could have negative consequences. And it’s pretty easy to figure them out. So I say, why not open my mouth when I want to?

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Monday, May 23, 2011

Today in epublishing

Author/Writer Michael Levin blames the demise of the book on the book makers themselves, the New York Publishing Model.

The traditional New York publishing business model — publish a ton of books, fail to market most of them, and hope that somebody buys something — worked well when publishers had a hammerlock on the distribution and marketing of books. Publishers http://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifessentially faced no competition and enjoyed complete control of what books people could publish and sell.

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Friday, May 20, 2011

Today in ePublishing

Amazon e-books Outsell Print

Ebook sales are on the rise! Some facts on ebooks from Amazon.

Good news for us Scribists :)

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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Scrivener review

Scrivener is a text editor by Literature & Latte, geared towards writers and has quite an impressive number of features, but remains extremely easy to get started and continue to be very useful. It is a Mac only program at the moment, but there is a Windows version in the works.

The features I will focus on is the editing, document notes, outlining, exporting/printing. I won't be talking about how you can use it for scriptwriting, look at statistics and targets or its full screen modes. Frankly I never used those features, and in all honesty, I didn't much like the full screen views.

What I liked, actually loved, was that you could sit down and be writing your story within seconds of starting the program for the first time. I have used other programs that force you into a certain structure and wizards to create your world, characters, chapters, etc, etc, add nauseum. Not so with Scrivener. You start the program, choose a template or just a blank project, give it a filename, and Bob's your uncle. You are writing your next bestselling novel within seconds.

At the left side of the program is your binder. Think of it as a mini file system that consists of one or more documents (your story sections) and folders, which can contain additional sections or folders. It really helps keep things organized, but doesn't force a structure on you. Note that when you create a new project, it will create an untitled document for you. Automatic, easy to use.

On the right side is your Inspector, which can be used to keep notes on your current document.

It the middle is the actual document, where you can do all the regular stuff like change the font, add tables, and images. No matter how many features a program has, if the core purpose of the program isn’t any good, the whole experience goes out the window. Editing the document in this case, is top notch. It gives you a word and character count, lets you zoom the text in and out with a single keystroke (a huge feature for me). You can select your font face and size, spacing, tab settings. Much like you would a word processor. I didn't find working with tables to be much fun. They work seamlessly for the most part in MS Word, but in Scrivener, they were hard to work with.

So it's easy to get started, but what about keeping yourself going? Can Scrivener help you stay organized? I would have to answer yes, very much so.

Some writers can just sit down and use MS Word to type out their 100,000 word novel. Not me, I like to break things up. Scrivener will let you organize the story to whatever grain you like. If you want to break it into chapters, you can do that; then if you decide to break it down further, into scenes, you can do that to. In fact, you can even write out large pieces of your story, and when it gets too big to wrap your head around, with a single keystroke, you can break it into separate documents.

If you are the type of writer that prefers to use a bunch of index cards to outline your story before writing the meat of it, the corkboard view mode is your answer. It is a layout of index cards, each card had the title and synopsis you have written on it. You can arrange the events however you like by dragging the cards around. Your story will be organized under the covers. In other words, each section is tied to the index card.

The other fantastic feature I would like to touch on is the outliner mode. When your story grows to a very large size, you need to be able to keep track of what stage each of the scenes or chapters are at. The outliner will show all your documents in single row format. It will also show the synopsis if you have typed one. You can assign each row a status like, "To do", "First Draft", "Revised Draft", "Final Draft", "Done". You can also change those defaults to whatever you like.

Exporting is one of Scriveners strongest points. You can export in a number of formats including Word .doc and .docx, .pdf, .rtf, .txt, .html, epub (iPad), mobi (Kindle) and a host of others. You can have export change the font to something other then what you were editing in. You can have it change underlined text to italics or vice versa. You can assign a title page or generate a table of contents. It's just so flexible, letting you edit one way, and if you choose, make the final copy conform to a particular publishers manuscript format. For example, I like to type my story using double space courier font. I also like to underline for things that will output as italicized. The reason for that is it is easier to read and proof as I am writing the story. When I export to a final format, like PDF or epub, I want to use a nice looking font, and I want anything underlined to be converted to italics. Export does this for you, and much more.

All in all, a fantastic program. Great for both the beginner and experienced writers.


  • You are up and writing right away.
  • No messing with clunky wizards, no forced structure.
  • Very easy to create your own structure.
  • Easy to outline and manage the state of your sections/chapters/scenes.


  • Autosave saves to your current document, which is an unsafe operation. It should save to a temporary file, and only save to the main file when you save manually.
  • MS Word .doc export is really just an RTF file renamed. You need to pay attention when making edits/comments and re-saving the word file. I had a friend loose his changes, but might have been an Open Office oddity. Using MS Word to edit and save seemed to work fine.
  • With such a wealth of options, it can be a little complex.
  • Once I upgraded to version 2.0, my 5000 word story with a few notes attached to it started freezing up the program for several seconds at a time. This worries me since once I get to a story that is 100,000 words, and lots more notes, will it kill the performance of the app?
  • You have to click each section you want to export, no keyboard shortcut. I'm a heavy keyboarder, and avoid the mouse whenever possible. Better on the wrists/hands/elbows.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Maria V. Snyder's Glass Series

I’ve just finished reading all of Maria V. Snyder’s Glass series. This includes, Storm Glass, Sea Glass and Spy Glass. Simply put, they are wonderful. I couldn’t put them down. That is part of the reason I’m reviewing the series and not each book. The other part of that reason is that each book picks right up where the previous left off, so it’s almost like one really long book.

In Storm Glass, we follow Opal, who we met toward the end of the Study books, through her last year at the Keep, that is at magic school. Except she’s an odd student with odd abilities and her education didn’t go smoothly, especially her last year. We hardly see her at school though. There is tons of action, tons of on-the-spot decision making, and characters that are easy to relate to. Opal is not the super hero that waltzes in and just saves everyone. She suffers, she sacrifices and she gets very upset by the things that happen to her. She also has to deal with the consequences of being a young person in an adult society.

The only unsatisfying thing for me about Storm Glass is the ending. (Mild Spoiler Alert) While the build up and action were great, it died for me after. Opal goes in, does her thing and just passes out. The others deal with the clean up, and I feel like I missed out on something, like she missed out on it. Sure it’s not important to her story, but by not seeing the payoff I almost feel like it didn’t happen.

Sea Glass sees Opal returning to school, only to have her story turned against her. Everything that happens to Opal always gets turned around on her. Her decisions are always questioned. But she is resolute to set things right. She gets closer to that in this book as she gets older and more experienced with the “joys” of the real world. Old enemies turn up, with more at stake and different agendas. Conflict twists around Opal and her abilities and reputation, constantly getting her into trouble. But she’s able to put smarts to use and depend on her trusted friends. This book did not let me down at all.

Spy Glass gives us a new Opal. She’s had so much happen to her in the first two books. This one shows how she recovers from the events up to now. She has a more hardened exterior, more smarts and knows a lot more about her enemies. But this still doesn’t make it easy for her. Her personal life is in a shambles and she’s working through the last few issues from all her previous exploits. But the way she tackles them now is the good result of all her previous trouble. I almost feel like a proud parent watching the ways she’s grown. (But I’m not a parent, and any parent in their right mind would never put their children through these things.)

Another thing I can laud about the book is introduction of “really cool stuff.” She shows us the processes of glassmaking as only someone who’s done it can, and not too many people have. She talks about diamonds and other gemstones (my other passion) with authority. This book is not the first time people have blackmarketed diamonds to fund a war. So bonus points for working in modern issues. Snyder has done her homework. And some things, like all the spy work, I really wonder how she describes it so well? Has she done some of that, or is that just the skill of her writing at hand?

This entry is cross posted at Wandering Around the Words.

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Wednesday, May 4, 2011

From The Pulps to Pixles: An eBook Survey

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