Showing posts with label Tools. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Tools. Show all posts

Friday, May 31, 2013

Appreciating Platforms

A couple weeks ago at writers' group, we started talking about the recent trend of publishers and agents wanting authors to have an established platform. Several people in the group were less than excited about this fact, feeling overwhelmed at just the thought of trying to juggle writing, blogging, websites, and social media accounts, all at the same time. I totally get it. It takes a lot of balance. There are times when I start to feel overloaded, and it's not like I have a huge following to interact with. But at the same time, I understand the value of this idea because I appreciate it, not just as a writer, but as a reader.

The easiest way for me to explain this is to share with you some of my favorite people to follow, and why: 

I'm lucky enough to have a few signed copies of Erin's novels on my bookshelf, thanks to contests and promotions on her Facebook page and blog. Not only is she a phenomenal writer, but she's the most kind and open author I've ever had the privilege of interacting with online. She's constantly engaging in conversations with her fans, asking and answering questions, and passing on encouragement to those of us who aspire to be as successful as she is. Her blog posts are always inspiring, honest, and real. I don't think you could find a better example of how an author platform should be used.

Jon's book START (see my review here) is all about figuring out your dream and turning it into a reality. What better topic for aspiring writers? Not only does Jon offer lots of encouraging and inspiring tweets and posts, but he's also hilarious. From comedic observations of every day life, to TV and sports commentary, to his knack for finding extremely awkward Pinterest posts, it's impossible to follow Jon and not laugh out loud at least once a day. 
  
Tony DiTerlizzi (@TonyDiTerlizzi) 
If you follow author and illustrator Tony DiTerlizzi on Twitter and/or Instagram, you'll get to see a constant gallery of his sketches. I love seeing his process when it comes to creating the beautiful images for The Spiderwick Chronicles and The Search for Wondla. He's also replied to several of my tweets, sometimes answering questions, and other times simply thanking me for a compliment. It's awesome to get an inside look into his books and their stunning artwork.
  
Ksenia Anske (@kseniaanske/kseniaanske.com) 
There are so many reasons I love following this woman. Blogger and up-and-coming author, she delights in interacting with her followers. Every day you'll find her answering questions, giving pep talks, celebrating victories, and generally boosting moral in the Twitter writing community. Do you need someone in your corner who will push you to write, write, write and never give up? Follow her. She has an incredible work ethic and is a great example of what it means to be dedicated to writing. And not in an intimidating "I'm so much better than you, you could never compare" manner, but in an uber-inspiring "You can do it, too!" sort of way.

I could add so many more...Bob Goff, Isaac Marion, Don Miller, Becca Rose, Kristin Lamb...the list goes on. 

Inspiration, encouragement, support, humor, writing tips, a glimpse into the lives of my favorite authors...all because of  their Twitter/Facebook/blog. All because they take the time to interact with me--the reader, the follower, the fan. I think if you can experience the excitement that comes with interaction like this, the idea of being able to provide the same for your own followers will seem a little less stressful and a lot more fun.

Friday, May 17, 2013

START by Jon Acuff

I've been following Jon Acuff's blog Stuff Christians Like for a while now, and if there's one person I can count on to bring humor to my Twitter and Instagram feed, it's him. In his NYT Bestseller START Jon brings his wit and wisdom together to create a phenomenal book about leaving average behind and traversing the path to awesome. 

One look at the cover, and you know this book is going to be great. Punch fear in the face? Do work that matters? Flip the awesome switch? Let's do this.

Jon begins with his signature humor before launching into a detailed road map of the 5 stages every successful life goes through: Learning, Editing, Mastering, Harvesting, and Guiding. He tells us what to expect in each stage, how to find victory and avoid pitfalls, and gives light bulb worthy advice on determining what finish line we hope to reach. He encourages and instructs, all while constantly nailing home the truth that age/experience level/money doesn't matter--you just have to start.

What Love Does did for my heart, START did for my dream. I closed this book inspired to continue to chase my dream and empowered with the tools I needed to do just that. Jon's writing has a way of drawing you in, making you feel like you're having a one-on-one conversation in his living room. He holds nothing back, opening himself up and sharing his great--and not so great--moments, all of which he uses to illustrate what he's learned in his own journey toward awesome. And there's a whole lot of awesome in these pages. Want to know how to silence the schizophrenic voices of fear? How to make time for your passions, ignore the critics, master your craft, and live life with an exclamation point instead of a question mark? Want to learn all that without being bored to death by a dry self-help manual? Read this book.

Whether your dreams seem too far gone to be realized, or you've already started down the road to awesome and are actively pursuing your passion, there's a vast amount of wisdom, motivation, and encouragement to be found here. Pick up this book and give yourself the chance you deserve. START will not only light a fire under your dream, it will give you the fuel to keep it burning.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Scrivener (Or How to Make Your Life Easier)

This week I completed the final (for now) draft of my first children's novel and sent it off to some beta-readers for feedback. Though the idea and inspiration for this book came to me over three years ago, it was only six months ago that I actually sat down and began writing it. I was able to get a first draft finished in only 30 days, thanks to NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month - which I will wax eloquent about later in the year as November draws closer. For now, click the link to learn more). But one of the biggest things that has made my writing and editing life so much easier, and helped me to keep up the pace without getting burned out and frustrated with the 50,000+ words sitting in front of me, is this amazing writing software called Scrivener, by the folks over at Literature and Latte.

I'm not kidding. It's amazing. It's phenomenal. I ask every single writer I come into contact with what software they use, and if they're not using Scrivener, I tell them all about how amazing and phenomenal it is.

If I were to detail all the great things you can do in Scrivener, the sheer size of this post would have you discreetly backing away without making eye contact. So I'll do my best to keep it short and sweet and focus on the top reasons why I love it, and how it has changed the way I write.

3 Things I love about Scrivener: Index Cards, Folders and Pages.

You see that? There on the left sidebar? Those are all the things you can get to IN ONE SCREEN. Gone are the days of having a million windows open in order to look at all your research photos, character profiles, chapters, scenes, and all the other stuff you have to constantly refer to as you're writing.

The Index Cards: There is a handy little index card attached to each folder. I used these to jot down the plot points I wanted to hit in each chapter. Not only can you add text to these, but you can label them (Idea, Character Notes, Chapter, etc.) and mark their status (First Draft, Revised Draft, Final Draft, or a custom status for those who need to note they're on the Eleventy-First Draft). If you're like me and need an outline in order to make sensible progress, but hate having to create said outline, these provide the perfect middle ground between pantsing and planning.

Folders & Pages: Each folder is a chapter. Contained in those folders are your pages for that chapter. Why is this awesome? You can keep multiple drafts of one chapter--on their own separate pages--inside the folder. You can keep your scenes separate--especially nice when you're changing POV's. But the best part about this: No more scrolling through a manuscript that is page after page after page of text! I want to edit chapter 16? Click on chapter 16's folder. BAM! (Let me tell you, it is so much easier to edit when your manuscript is cut up into nice bite-sized chunks and you can face 2,000 words at a time instead of having the whole 50,000 in your face, laughing maniacally over how long it's going to take you to fix everything you did wrong in the first draft.)

These are just the top three things I love about Scrivener. I haven't even begun to scratch the surface of the wonders contained therein. There's the compiling settings, which make it super easy to make your manuscript submission ready. The trash can, which removes the files and folders you select for deletion, but keeps them in the little can in case you realize, in a moment of panic, that what you thought was rubbish was actually brilliant. And oh, the wonders of full-screen mode.

And you don't have to be a novel writer to love this program. It has templates for scripts, research papers, short stories--you name it, if it needs to be written, it can be done in Scrivener.

At $40 for the Windows version and $45 for the Mac, this software will make your life easier without being hard on your wallet. You can even download a free trial before you commit. So pry yourself away from my totally awesome blog and go here to check it out.