Poppy Cat

I have two small children, under the age of three (for another couple months). The eldest, The Mini, needs a pretty specific bedtime routine in order to go to bed peacefully. One part of his routine is to watch Sprout TV before bed. We normally watch two or three cartoons. His favorites are The Berenstain Bears and Thomas the Train (I bet that surprises anyone who knows my husband, huh?). My favorite is Poppy Cat. Poppy Cat is about the stories a little girl writes for her cat, Poppy. While the stories probably aren't written by a child, I think it's awesome that my kids watch a cartoon about writing stories.

The stories feature Poppy Cat and her friends; ZuZu, who I think is a dog; Mo, a mouse; Owl, an owl (go figure!); Alma, a rabbit who loves jewelry and the color pink; and Eggbert, a badger who is always causing trouble. My favorite is the little girl, who only appears at the beginning and end of the cartoon. She also narrates the cartoon.

I can only hope that my kids will love books (they do so far) and continue to be creative as they get older. As it is, The Micro (15 months old) loves her books. She'll carry them around, sit in her chair and look at them, or lay next to the dogs with her books and read to the dogs, babbling in her own language. When she wants us to read to her, she climbs into our laps, and sticks a book into our hand.

I should probably get started with a blog for her, and a website so she can start building an audience before her first book comes out.

How do you encourage creativity in your kids? Or if you don't have children, how do you encourage your own creativity?

Bestseller Bound Friendship Blog Hop


“Friends helping friends isn’t the same as taking advantage.” Maggie’s eyes sparked, and Cam knew she was still upset with him for canceling the meeting she’d arranged for him with her son, a scout for the Colorado Avalanche.


The above passage is from my upcoming novel, Faceoff of the Heart.

I, like Cam, suffer from the fear of taking advantage of my friends. I've always been afraid to ask people for help because I believe they're going to be annoyed with me.

I know how busy everyone is with their own obligations and projects. I feel guilty to ask them to add something to their crazy schedule for me.

I'm trying to ask for help when I need it. I hope people will tell me if they don't have time to help me, but I've realized it's not my place to decide what a person can fit into their schedule. It's their responsibility to know when to say, "No."

I'm so happy to have found BestsellerBound and become a member of their community. It truly is a great bunch of people, who are always willing to answer my questions and provide guidance to me on this journey of writing.

Self-publishing can be scary, but I'm confident that my friends from BSB will never steer me awry. And I can do this, as long as I remember that it's okay to ask for help.

Now for the fun stuff :)

BestsellerBound.com is a wonderful community of indie authors. Created by Darcia Helle in the late summer of 2010, and featuring resident authors, Maria Savva and Stacy Juba, the community has grown and now boasts over 500 members. Quite a few of the members are active on the forum. The group wanted to celebrate one thing that has kept them all going over the past two years: friendship. Many friendships have been formed on the board. In fact, one of the most common things our members say is that BestsellerBound is the friendliest group of writers they have found. We pride ourselves on that.

To celebrate not only a successful 2 years as a popular indie writer forum, but also the friendships we have made on the board, a few of the regular members have organised a blog hop. The theme for this blog hop is of course, Friendship. If you follow the tour, you can read blogs by each of the participating authors based on the theme of friendship. Some of the authors will be writing about fictional friendships in their novels, others will be writing about real friendships. We are sure it will be an interesting and varied blog hop. We are also offering a big prize! One lucky winner will win the following prizes:

Secrets by Darcia Helle (Print) Haunted by Maria (Print) Harmony's Passing by Joel Blaine Kirkpatrick (Print) Belkin Mod Standing Cover for Kindle Fire Sink or Swim by Stacy Juba (ebook) Alaskan Healing by Lana Voynich (ebook) Nexus Point by Jaleta Clegg (ebook)

** This is a tour-wide giveaway, so you can enter from any one of the blogs. Use the Rafflecopter form and follow the instructions for multiple entries. Each author has included a simple question as a way for you to earn bonus entries. The answers can be found within that author?s friendship blog post. You can answer all the questions on one form, or answer from the form on each author?s blog.

This giveaway is open to everyone 16 and older, everywhere in the world. Enter between Monday, November 12 and midnight, EST on Monday, November 26. **


Check out the following blogs, for some wonderful stories about friendship, and to find the answers to the bonus questions on the Rafflecopter form!

BestsellerBound Recommends A Word Please - Darcia Helle The Far Edge of Normal - Jaleta Clegg Maria's Goodreads Blog - Maria Savva The Tale's The Thing - Joel Kirkpatrick Stacy Juba's One Stop Reading - Stacy Juba Scribblings from my mind - Lana Voynich

a Rafflecopter giveaway

November BIW: Fail

It's Saturday night, Day 6 of the November BIW challenge. I've written 29 pages. That means, in order to achieve my goal of 200 pages, I have to finish 171 pages by 7 am (my time) Monday morning. I have a whole list of reasons/excuses why I haven't accomplished more. It really comes down to the fact that I didn't apply myself. Monday, I got some done. Not a lot, but some. Tuesday, I wasted my writing time by staring at the television as the election results came in, like somehow me watching was going to affect the results.

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BIW & NaNoWriMo in one convenient week?

It's November which means NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and BIW (Book in a Week). NaNoWriMo started on the first of November and BIW starts tomorrow. The premise of NaNoWriMo is to write the rough draft of a 50,000 word novel in one month. Thousands of people accept the challenge each year and urge each other to the finish line in forums and chatrooms. Faceoff of the Heart is my NaNoWriMo novel from 2006 (with lots of editing and changes).

If you've read my blog for a while, you already know about BIW. ;) Perhaps you remember from last month that I gave up on BIW as soon as I reached my goal, which was Friday afternoon, wasting an entire weekend that I could have been adding pages.

This month for BIW, I set my goal at 200 pages, which just happens to come out to approximately 50,000 words. Conveniently, 50,000 words is the magic winning number for NaNo.

Most likely, I've bitten off more than I can chew. But, it is supposed to be a challenge so there we go. Challenge away. Even if I don't manage the entire 200 pages in one week, I'll get a substantial amount of writing done and that'll make me happy.

I hope to have the rough draft of Mercy wrapped up by the end of the month. My goal for Mercy is 100,000 words, but whatever it takes to complete the story is what will happen.

What are your goals for BIW and/or NaNoWriMo?

Alaskan Healing Interview!

I feel so important! Darcia Helle of Quiet Fury Books interviewed me after reading Alaskan Healing. Make sure you check out the interview and show Darcia some appreciation for tolerating my presence long enough to ask me some questions! If more questions are posted in her comments, I'll do my best to answer them.

While you're on her website, check out her books. I've read two of them (several more are on my "must read soon" list) and she is masterful with suspense.

There's a coupon code for Darcia's readers to save 25% off Alaskan Healing at Smashwords. If you know someone who is considering a purchase, have them head over to Darcia's blog and grab the code! The code is valid until November 1st.

Revising a novel

I struggle with revisions. Every time I start revising a novel, I spend time looking for a magic method, a checklist of things to do, and I keep looking until I think I've found the perfect plan. Then I print out my manuscript and start marking stuff up with my pen and the plan goes out the window. I have a hard time keeping things in my head. All the things I planned to fix remain on a sheet of paper next to me and I say, "I'll fix those in the next revision."

I've tried Holly Lisle's One Pass Revision method, and I get bogged down and overwhelmed before I get to the third chapter. I've done Darcy Pattison's Novel Metamorphosis workbook for two different novels. One is still in the Trunk-o-writing junk, awaiting its chance to see the light of day again. The second one is Faceoff of the Heart.

Working my way through the Novel Metamorphosis workbook was helpful to realize what areas I needed to work on, but I still have a huge list (okay, not really huge, but still a full page) of things I want to fix. When I look at the list, my eyes gloss over and I start to freak out that I have these things to check for and fix all the way through the 200 pages of manuscript.

The list sits on top of the manuscript in its expandable folder. I look at it every time I pull the new pages out to be revised. And I sigh, because I haven't really been paying attention to those things. Ugh. 100 pages in and I didn't fix any of the things I'd specifically written on my "Plan of Action."

So tonight, when I pulled out the list I didn't just set it aside. I sat down and read it, and thought about each item on the list.

Plotting. Make sure each scene ends a little worse than the previous scene. Yeah, I've actually been doing that. That makes me feel better.

Characters. Better description. Well, hmm. I've never been good at describing the physical appearance of things (not even real items), but I've been adding more about the characters as I get to know them, so they're becoming more real. Knowing someone rocks back and forth on their feet when they're nervous, or their hands hurt because of early onset arthritis HAS to be nearly as good as knowing they have blue eyes and light blonde hair. Right? I mean, we don't choose our friends based on their eye color in real life. 

Sensory details. Include more details in each scene. Oh. I'm doing that without really thinking of it. Maybe I'm not doing as horribly as I'd thought.

Settings. More description again. fail

Okay. I guess fixing 75% of what I'd aimed to fix isn't awful. I can always go back through and add a bit more description of the settings as I type in all these changes I've made. Right?

What's your method for revising a novel?

Results of October Book In a Week

I know it's been a while , but I didn't get a chance to post my results of October Book In a Week yet. I had set my goal at 100 pages. The week started out successfully and improved each day. My most productive day ended with 25 pages (roughly 6250 words). I knew that I wouldn't be writing much on Saturday because I had a friend visiting from out of town, but I did expect to use 7 hours in the car on Sunday as a chance to get a lot of writing done.

However, I achieved the 100 page goal on Friday evening and didn't write at all for the rest of the weekend. I guess I should have set my goal higher so I'd kept working on it over the remainder of the weekend.

I just checked the results of October Book in a Week and I was the 6th most productive writer for the challenge. The most productive writer completed 280 pages during the week. Wow!

I'm unsure whether I'll be participating in November's Book In a Week. I have a heavy schedule to get Faceoff of the Heart revised on time, but maybe I'll be ahead of schedule with the revisions by that time and will need to take a week away from it. If I do participate in November's challenge, I'm going to increase my goal again.

What do you guys think would be an appropriate goal for Book In a Week? 150 pages? 200 pages? An entire novel (since November is National Novel Writing Month)?

What do you guys think of challenges such as NaNoWriMo and BIW? Is it a surefire way to burn out? Or is it a good way to boost productivity?

Are you losing sales because of your ebook sample?

I've recently been on the search for some good books from Amazon and I've been taking advantage of the free samples available and several well-reviewed books lost my sale because of their front matter. If your "book" is 80 pages and the sample is 10%, that gives me eight pages to decide if your book is what I'm looking for. When 6 of those 8 pages are filled with front matter (title page, copyright information, dedications, acknowledgements, a 2-page foreword, and a list of your other work), I'm going to get annoyed. Don't spend your eight pages trying to interest me in your other books. Let me get to the book I'm already interested in.

If your book is standard novel length, the sample is generally longer (since it's based on percentage) but I still don't want to turn 20 pages (I often read on my iPhone) before I get to the story. Even though I know 20 iPhone pages is more like 4 Kindle pages, it still annoys me.

As an author, I understand the extras are important, but as a reader, I say don't waste my free sample with that crap. Move it to the end of the book, or provide a clickable link to your "other work" at the beginning if you believe it's really necessary. When I read a book, I'm more likely to buy more of your books if you give me what I'm looking for. And in case you didn't know, if I have downloaded the sample of your book, I'm looking for the beginning of the book so I can determine whether to give you my money.

When I finish a book, and I've enjoyed the content and the writing style, I'm likely to look for more of your work, so include your list of work at the END of your ebook, while you have me in a happy postcoital-type bliss. If you've annoyed me before I even start reading the book, chances are high that you've lost me as a customer and reader and we'll never reach that postcoital-type bliss because you'll be shot down before the first kiss.

As both a reader and a writer, I strive to find a balance. I don't want to annoy my readers, but I do want to take advantage of the ability to share information about my other books, I'll just do it at the end of the book instead of the front.

This is just my opinion. Readers, tell me what you think about free samples on your e-reader. Authors, tell me what you think, and defend your position. I'd love to know if there's a real reason to include the three page list of other work before I get to the book.

Update on Faceoff of the Heart

800x1280_Faceoff of th#1418I finished the first revision of Faceoff of the Heart during the first week of October. Writing some new scenes was part of my 100-page challenge for Book In a Week. There weren't a lot of surprises as I finished those scenes, but a few things turned out differently than I expected. Even with an outline, and notes galore, my characters still managed to change the story a little from what I originally thought it was.

I tried to force them to behave as I thought they should, but it just didn't ring true and I struggled to write the words in those scenes. Once I surrendered to Rhianna, Cam, and Luk, the words came easier.

People who don't write think writers create the stories they read, but honestly, I'm just the middle(wo)man who gets the story from the characters to the readers.

I took some time off over the weekend to redo my office and I'm currently working my way through the second revision of Faceoff of the Heart at my huge new desk.

As you can see there's now a cover for the book. Lori Gnahn captured the image in my mind perfectly and now I'm doing my best to make sure the story is good enough for such an awesome cover.

I'd love to hear what you think of the cover.

I have a new job as freelance writer

I mentioned before that there's no guarantee on my current job past the end of the year, so I'd been checking into work as a freelance writer. The first job I created a proposal for didn't work out. However, I did apply for another freelance job and was hired. It's not glamorous or exciting, but I am making decent money for the amount of time I'm putting in. I've been writing about a variety of topics, learning to write quickly and getting paid to better my writing skills. I'm excited to be writing "professionally" and am no longer as worried about my job as a programmer.

I feel rather validated right now. I never went to college to be a writer, because I was always told I wouldn't be able to make a living writing. That may have been true 15 years ago, but now with the internet and online work, it IS possible.

I am still working feverishly on Faceoff of the Heart to have it ready by the beginning of December. I'm also going to be making a few changes to the topics I cover in my blog, which will hopefully  help build my reader platform and convince people that they really want to read what I have to say.

It'd be great if you guys could tell me what you'd like to read. What are your interests outside of reading? What topics and genres do you like to read about? What blogs do you read regularly?


"The Look" blog challenge

Oh Darcia and Marty, I will get even with you both. Eventually. When you least expect it. ;) These two wonderful authors have both tagged me in "The Look" blog challenge. Thanks to them, you (my faithful followers) will get to experience something few people ever get to experience. You get to see part of the current manuscript I'm working on.

You can see what Marty and Darcia posted on their blogs for this challenge by following the links above.

The instructions are: The Look is a writing prompt, a game, another tagging event. This is how U Got “The Look” works: you take your current manuscript, search for the word “look”, and post the surrounding paragraphs. Lastly, you tag 5 blogging authors who you think will be a good choice for the game.

So without further ado, here are a few paragraphs from Faceoff of the Heart.

The announcer finished the Red Wing introductions and moved on to the opposing team's. Rhianna tuned him out until she heard, “Number seven, Cameron Walker, former Michigan State University Spartan returns to Detroit with the Devils.”

Rhianna jerked in surprise and almost jumped to her feet as the player skated onto the ice. Even if she had heard wrong, she would know him anywhere, just by the way he moved. He’d always had a fluid grace to him which was unexpected for someone so large. The row of women looked at her curiously and she forced herself to relax back into the seat, as she said, “I think he was in my chemistry class at MSU.”

Rhianna didn’t hear anything else the announcer said. What the hell was he doing here?

Her voice was calm, but her mind raced. She avoided meeting the gaze of the well-coiffed woman next to her, Teresa, who smiled.

Teresa leaned toward Rhianna and pointed one of her long, manicured fingernails. “I bet there was chemistry with a lot of hockey players.”

This is from the opening scene of Faceoff of the Heart, which is scheduled for release at the beginning of December, 2012.
And now, for my five victims, erm, I mean, fellow authors.

Goal: 100 pages in a week

It's time for BIW again. The time off flew by, and I considered skipping it this month, but I was so productive last month with the challenge that I decided to sign up. I committed to 100 pages in a week. That's a lot of writing, but how proud will I be if I achieve it? That's twice as many pages as I set my goal for last month. And thirty more pages than I achieved last month. And if I write the entire 100 pages for Pucked (I don't know why but that title seems to be sticking, at least in my mind. For now.), the draft will be completed, as long as the characters cooperate and don't change the story on me again.

I don't really have a plan, other than write like crazy. Again, I have an outline of what the characters are supposed to do. I'm kinda curious whether they'll follow the plan or send me off on some tangent.

I decided to do this Saturday night, so I spent the weekend telling myself, "You're nuts. You have two kids, you have an office to clean, you have a full-time job, you have plans for doing other things." Yet, I kept responding, "Oh pshaw. What's a hundred pages? No problem."

My secret weapon? A long car ride on Sunday. And by "long car ride" I mean around 6 hours in the car. No internet access. No kids. No games on my laptop. And a husband who doesn't like to be the passenger. Surely, I'll be able to finish everything I didn't finish during the rest of the week. And if I complete that goal, well...

I'll find something else to write. Or I'll catch up on my sleep.

That's 14.28 pages per day. What do you think? Is 100 pages in a week possible?

Now I'm contemplating NaNoWriMo. Really, that shouldn't be a problem, should it? If I can accomplish 100 pages in a week, I'd just have to work on my NaNoWriMo novel for two weeks (100 pages in a week times two). OR! I could write 2 NaNoWriMo novels 100 pages in a week times 4). Or one really long NaNoWriMo novel. Really, the possibilities for November are endless.

Entire 50,000 word rough draft in one week? Hmmm....

Censorship and how it affects me

How often have you heard about censorship lately? I know, I know. Everyone believes in their own right of free speech, and some people even believe in free speech for others. Mostly just when their free speaking matches our thoughts. But this isn't about other people, or even the government, censoring anyone. How often do you censor yourself and how much does it affect your writing? How often do you bite your tongue instead of telling someone exactly what you think? How often have you changed a character's traits because you were afraid of what someone important would say?

I often bite my tongue, just so I don't upset people, even if they're upsetting me. So instead of them being aware that they're annoying or frustrating me, I just suck it up instead of them being upset.

I have a hard time writing certain things because I'm always worrying, in the back of my mind, what so-and-so will think if they read it. Will they think I'm talking about them? Will they think I'm insulting them? Or will they be flattered that they mattered enough for me to think of them while I was writing a story?

What's Grandma going to think if she reads something I wrote that has actual sex scenes instead of alluding to them and magically having a scene break right the characters are doing the nasty? Good lord, what if one of my drinking buddies thinks the alcoholic in a novel is based on them? Will they ever believe that I created that character long before I met them?

If I write about a woman who's cheating on her husband, is my husband going to think I'm cheating on him? Or that I want to cheat on him?

All of these questions go through my mind when I'm writing. It's ridiculous; isn't it? At some point, if I want to be productive, I have to get back to where I was writing for myself. The story is what matters and if someone doesn't understand that my experiences all play into my writing, i guess I'll never be able to explain it to them. Right? As for Grandma, I suspect she knows what sex is. She did have kids of her own.

My current work-in-progress has some scenes that I'm uncomfortable writing because I'm worried what people will think when they read it. However, the scenes are demanded by the story and the characters. I don't write sex scenes just to make sure there are sex scenes.

How does self-censorship affect you and your writing? Or even your daily life?

Freelance writing? Is it for me?

I recently received notice that my hours will be cut at my "day job." I love being able to work from home and the flexibility to play with my kids during short breaks from the computer. I'm not too keen on the idea of finding a new job which requires me to get out of bed, shower, and drive somewhere before starting my day. I'm even less fond of the prospect of putting my kids in a daycare for a few hours while my work and Nate's overlaps. I've been spoiled by having a great boss who is amazingly understanding about my family coming first. I did a couple of job searches, just to see what was out there and weigh my options. Pickings are still slim around here. There was one possibility in my current career field, but the wages were laughable. I'd spend more money on daycare (for the few hours the kids would need to be watched each day), transportation costs, and updating my work wardrobe then I would make.

I decided if I was going to change career fields, again, I better make it the right one this time. (Don't get me wrong, I enjoy what I do currently, but since there's nothing around here in that field, I'm at a crossroads. Again.)

I've spent my entire life wanting to be a writer. I have spent my entire life being a writer, why not get paid for it? Could I be a freelance writer? Would I enjoy freelance writing about various topics based on whomever wants to pay me? Yes! I can do that. (Which reminds me, I did some freelance report writing in high school.)

After a few false starts with "work from home" scams, I found some reputable websites that connect freelancers and contractors.

Imagine my surprise last night when I received a notice that my status had changed from "applicant" to "active candidacy" on one of the jobs I'd applied for. It's a large project for me to start with, clearly not as large as a novel, but more than one article. With a detailed description of the project in hand, I started to panic.

I want this job. I want to look professional. I don't want to drive them away by costing too much, yet I don't want to spend the hours I could be working on my novels, writing for free. Know what I mean? However, I know that since I don't have experience writing professionally, I'm not going to make top dollar. We all have to start somewhere.

Please provide an estimate. Gulp. Estimate? Oh boy. How do I create an estimate? How do I value my time? How do I present the estimate?

Enter, google. This was one time that I didn't get side-tracked. I found some information, but of course it was all vague. "Don't overcharge, but don't undervalue yourself either." Geez, I didn't already figure that out myself? I found a huge price range. Which again was ridiculously hazy. "Freelance writers make anywhere from 10 cents a word to $200 per hour."

So, I went with my gut. I calculated my current hourly rate from my salary, and decided 75% of that would be a fair starting wage. I figured out how many hours I thought it would take to complete each item in the project, added it all up, add 10% (to cover my mistaken belief of how quickly I can accomplish things) and swallowed repeatedly.

Then it was time to prepare the response to the contractor. How do you do that and look professional? Back to google. After two hours of searching and trying to find something that seemed right to me, I found nothing. Blah. I went with a plain business letter typed up in Word, with a break down of costs, a couple questions to be clarified and several untyped prayers to whomever is in charge.

Shortly after midnight, I finished and submitted the proposal. I hope to hear something by Monday at the latest, but until then, I'm checking my email every three minutes.

Alaskan Healing ready for re-release

I did it! Alaskan Healing is ready!

I managed to learn how to format my book (Alaskan Healing) for Amazon KDP, Createspace, Pubit, and Smashwords and have them all uploaded and ready to go before my self-imposed deadline. How awesome is that?

I received yet another proof copy today of the printed version. I made a couple tiny changes and I'm happy to let it "go to press." After that, I was confident I had all my grammatical mistakes fixed, and finally have the correct punctuation included. I'm happy with the formatting and the layout.

It looks like a really awesome book, and I owe a lot of that professional appearance to my cover designer, Lori Gnahn. Thank you from the bottom of my heart, Lori.

After I was completely happy with the Createspace version, I used that as the starting point for creating the other documents. There are little things that are different for each of the other epublishing sites I chose to use.

So, I saved a copy of my Createspace document, removed the headers (with page numbers, title, and author's name), removed some page breaks, made sure I had the proper Smashwords front matter included, and uploaded that to Smashwords. No errors! Woo-hoo. It's almost like I know what I'm doing.

Then I saved another version for Barnes and Noble's PubIt (for the nook). I removed the mention of Smashwords from the front matter, saved and uploaded. I previewed it on their site and again, no errors!

On to Kindle publishing. I used the nook version of my document, saved as html in Word, uploaded, and previewed. What was I so nervous about?

Now, I wait. Createspace can take up to 48 hours to approve the documents. Amazon, Smashwords, and PubIt all have their own reviews and other things to do before my book appears on their sites.

I have to admit, I was really excited when Alaskan Healing was first released in September 2009, but right now I have this weird feeling in my stomach and I'm practically giddy with excitement. Not because I think I'm going to make more money as an indie author, but because I did it by myself (with some guidance from experienced indie authors).

My sense of accomplishment is through the roof right now. I am so proud of myself. I better get my butt back to work so I can feel this way again in a couple months when another of my novels is ready and loaded everywhere.

Hey! Did I mention that Alaskan Healing is ready for its re-release?

I'm a top ten producer for Book In a Week

I finished September's Book in a week Challenge about a week ago, but haven't had a chance to share my results because I've been so busy. Since I'm sure you're all dying to know how I did, here ya go. I managed to finish 70.5 pages in one week. I'm pretty impressed with myself. Granted, the seventy pages aren't all that great. It's very, very, rough draft material, but it's more material than I had at the end of August.

For the first five days, I focused on Alaskan Hope. I estimate that I completed 55-60 pages for that rough draft. I assume that makes anyone waiting for a sequel to Alaskan Healing happy.

The last two days, I focused on the yet-unnamed-hockey novel. While 15 pages isn't a lot, it's, again, fifteen more pages than I had for it in August.

How did I write 70.5 pages in 7 days? I made myself do it. There were a few days that I wrote absolutely nothing, but I made up for it on the other days. I set the goal for myself and told everyone that it was my goal. I'm stubborn. I didn't want to tell anyone I failed. So, in the end, I spent a LOT of time over the weekend, doing nothing but writing.

Once I got the kids to sleep, I stayed up waaaay too late, writing as much as I could so I'd achieve my goal. And I did. With 20.5 extra pages.

If you think 70.5 pages in a week is a lot, I have to tell you, I was the 10th top producer for the month. That means nine people wrote more than I did. Some of them were in the 200+ page range. I don't want to sound like I'm bitter, but I speculate those people don't have two small children running around, plus a dead website during the week.

I doubt I'll ever be the top producer for Book in a Week, but I'm definitely going to try to stay in the top ten each time I participate. It's a good way to push myself to achieve bigger and better things.

More changes

I haven't posted lately because I've been swamped. First off, as you can see, my website is different. For some reason, the other template decided to quit working with some of the plugins I wanted to use in the future. So part of my being too busy to post was me redoing my website. I'm quite fond of the new look and layout, so I guess it was time well-spent. And maybe I should thank the other layout for crashing?

I've also been busy with the big change that prompted all of this. As of October 1st, I will be an indie author (independent, self-published, and whatever other names there are for it). After an amicable parting with my current publisher, I've been busting my butt, trying to get everything ready to re-release Alaskan Healing.

I found an artist to design a new cover. Isn't it awesome? (Thank you, Lori Gnahn!)

I learned how to format for CreateSpace, so you'll still be able to purchase a bound copy of the book. I also learned all about epublishing, so Alaskan Healing will be available on a variety of ebook platforms.

The past two weeks, I've been proofreading, editing, and making minor changes to Alaskan Healing. The story is the same, some words are different, a few grammatical errors were corrected, and some punctuation issues have been rectified. I have read every word of this book five times in the past two weeks.

As you look at the cover, you'll see that there's a new line, "An Alaskan Healing Novel." Yes, there's going to be more than one. As previously mentioned, I'm working on Alaskan Hope, which I hope will be ready by Spring of 2013.

I know that's a long time to wait for a book from an author if you really like the author, but don't worry. I intend to have a different book out by December 1st, so you can buy a copy for yourself as a gift for the holidays. It's not a member of the Alaskan Healing Family, but I think you'll enjoy it still.

I'll do my best to keep you entertained.


Scrivener Revisited

Okay. I admit it. I was wrong. I'm not 100% sold yet, but I'm still playing with Scrivener and I've found some features I really like that are not available on OneNote. Word count. I love knowing how many words I have in a document. In OneNote, I had to use an Add-on to get word counts, and it still only counted the words on each page, there was no way to count how many words in the "draft" section of my notebook. Scrivener does word counts.

scrivener_text_statsText statistics (click on the picture to see it larger). Scrivener has the ability to tell me how many times I've used each word in a document. As a few people who have read my drafts know, I tend to have a LOT of bobble-heads who like to pat each other and shrug. In Scrivener, I can see that I used "shrug" 78 time in the first chapter and "nod" was used 24 times in the second paragraph.

Targets. It's nice to set a target word count for each scene and see a bar graph change colors as I get closer to reaching my goal.

Corkboard. And everyone's favorite feature of Scrivener, the corkboard, is awesome for rearranging scenes! I assigned a different color label for each of my plot lines and can visually see when all the "red plot lines" are bunched together instead of spread through the entire story. The same could be done with perspectives to see if Character A has more scenes told from their perspective than Character B in any part of the story.

Cross-platform compatibility. I can open my Scrivener projects on either of my computers and make changes. Some features are only available on the Mac version right now, but it's nice to know I can use either of my computers, as long as I keep the files up-to-date on Dropbox (or a similar online storage site). I'm currently using the trial version on both my iMac and my Windows 7 laptop.

If you have the same type of desktop and laptop, you can use the same license for both. If you have different operating systems on your desktop and laptop, you'll have to decide whether it's worthwhile to you to purchase a license for each. Scrivener does provide directions for syncing with SimpleNote on an ipad.

These are just the features that I used over the weekend and really loved. I saw some other stuff in the menus that I think I'll like, but will wait to comment on those until after I've used the feature.

Don't take my word for it, download your own trial version and see what you think. It's available for both Windows and Mac now! Just don't give up if the tutorial confuses you, like I almost did.

And if you decide to buy, S.M. Worth has a coupon code on his blog for 20% off. He also has lots of other great stuff!