Critique, Feedback, Publish, Writing

Mélange à trois … encore!

Good things come in threes, right? Well, today I’m sharing three little good things in this short post because I’ve started about five other posts since I published the last one and abandoned them all for one reason or another. By the way, if you misread the title* of this post you’re going to be disappointed. 😉

*The encore appears in the title because I used this silly bit of titillation once before.


troisScrivener Update:  Recently, I blogged about my first week’s experience with using Scrivener to write and organize all the files associated with a novel. I still love it. I now have projects set up for three novels. It makes me laugh to remember that I didn’t care for the program the first time I tried it. And I expect I’ll be even more pleased with it after I learn all the ins and outs.

Download the free trial, for Mac or Windows, and try it for 30 days!


Book Covers:  My books are printed by Createspace and, at the time they were published, a glossy cover was my only choice. Now, Createspace offers matte finish as an option. Since, in my opinion, glossy covers are more appropriate for non-fiction or children’s books, I switched to matte and ordered copies for myself. They arrived this past Saturday, and I’m very pleased. For the first time the colors are accurate.

I was never happy with the printed cover of The Brevity of Roses because it had a yellow tint, edging the pink letters of the title toward salmon. Apparently, that was caused by the glossy film overlay because the title appears in a true pink with the matte finish.


Alpha, beta, critique:  Actually, the correct order is critique, alpha, beta, but it sounds better in A-B-C order. I’m talking about stages of feedback on your writing. One of the reasons I joined Women’s Fiction Writers Association was to find critique partners who write what I write. My first attempt didn’t work out. Of course, since the novel I was working on at that time is now waiting in line and the one I’m currently working on is not women’s fiction, I guess that failed attempt doesn’t matter.

So, again, I’m working without in-progress critique, which means the first person who reads “Forever” will be my alpha reader. I think I have one lined up—she’s a very busy lady, so her availability probably depends on when I have an alpha-ready draft completed. After the alpha edit, I’ll call for betas. But first, I’m writing, writing, writing.

Question of the day: Do you seek A-B-C feedback on your work?


Block, Novel, Writing

Sometimes You Already Have the Answer

I wrote some strong, honest words this week. I had a burst of writing on one of my WIPs—it’s the one you see in the sidebar, temporarily titled FISH. I started off writing it at a good pace (for me), but that came to a stop last November at about 14,000 words.

bluechairsI hung up my writer’s hat for the month of December. In January, I went back to work and wrote steadily, but stopped again at 26,000 words because I came to a bridge scene and couldn’t decide how to cross it.

Since I try to write something every day, I switched to working on my other WIP (working title TEA.) After I’d gotten 10,000 words into that one, I distracted myself with trying out Scrivener by setting it up to work on TEA.  As you know from my last post, that was a good experience.

But I wasn’t writing.

I set up all my folders and text files, and even found celebrity photos to attach to my character cards for TEA. Then I decided to set up another Scrivener project for FISH. And, of course, I had to find photos to represent my FISH characters too. And I researched 1970s home interiors, bathing suit styles, and marijuana laws because FISH is set in 1974.

But I wasn’t writing.

I wasn’t “blocked” from working on TEA. I just felt strongly that I needed to return to writing FISH, partly because I’ve lived with it longer, I’m comfortable with it, and partly because it’s another women’s fiction novel, while TEA is more an experiment. But I still hadn’t worked out that particular scene.

I felt guilty about not writing. So I tried to read because that usually sparks my writing (which is why it usually takes me forever to get through a book), but I couldn’t concentrate on reading. I went to sleep every night trying to figure out how best to move into the next section of FISH.

Now we all know a writer writes … right? So I decided that until I figured out the solution to that sticky scene, what I needed to do was open that project’s Scenes-to-Write folder and work on a scene I’d written the bare bones of previously. That was a success, and it led to reworking a few too-short scenes, raising my word count by a couple thousand.

Then I opened and read another skeleton scene—just dialogue with a few “stage directions”—started months ago. I expanded the dialogue and turned those directions into narrative. Four hundred words grew to thirteen hundred and counting. And then it hit me: if I changed the setting, this scene would be the perfect bridge!

I’m continually amazed at the Muse—and by that I mean a writer’s mind. In the background or in this case, in advance, it’s always working. Sometimes the answer we’re looking for is already there. We just need to get out of our own way to find it. BICHOK*


*For those who don’t know, this stands for Butt in Chair, Hands on Keyboard.

Opinion, Writing

Can a Scatterbrained Writer Get Organized with Scrivener?

In a recent post I mentioned Scrivener, which is a word-processing and project management tool. The Scrivener site calls it a “complete writing studio.” I tried the Windows version when it was in beta testing, but trying to learn how to use new software while in the middle of writing a novel slowed me down. And though I loved the organization part, I felt the word-processing part was lacking.

Guess what I’ve been doing this past week? Yep, I downloaded the current free trial version of Scrivener for Windows, and I’ve been setting up Projects for my two WIPs. I still love the Corkboard and Binder and all the other organizing bits, but in the current version I’m also happy with the word-processor function. And I hear Scrivener easily converts your work to digital files now too!

Click the photo to view in detail.

No more do I have to open ten Word documents and switch back and forth between them. In Scrivener I can still create as many files as I need for each Project, including character sketches, style sheets, editing notes, unfinished scenes or ones I haven’t decided where to fit in yet, and all those web links and bits of info culled during research. But the difference is it’s all in one place and easily accessed from one screen!

I’ve enjoyed adding photos of celebrity stand-ins to my character sheets and index cards, and now I can just click the Corkboard view whenever I need to get newly inspired. I’m also adding photos for the locations where my story takes place and any other photos that I’ve gathered during research.

Some quick and easy editing features are the ability to take a “snapshot” of a scene before you edit it. Those versions are listed on the right-hand side of the screen, accessed with one click, and can be viewed in split screen mode to review changes or copy and paste from, if you decide you like the original better. And if a scene needs to be moved, just drag it into proper order in the Binder.

Please click on my graphic above to view it larger. This is a view of the Project for my WIP with the working title Fish (this is incomplete and first draft state—so cut me some slack.) As you can see, I’ve divided my chapters into scenes to work on individually, but if I want to view the chapter as a whole, I only need click on the “Scrivenings” button at the top and voilà!

If I find I’m distracted by all the goodies on either side of the Editor, which is what Scrivener terms the larger middle section, I can switch to full screen mode to hide everything, but the “paper” I’m typing on—and by everything I mean: both sidebars, menus, status and taskbars. (In full screen mode, a pop-up taskbar appears when you move the pointer to the bottom of the screen.)

And I can change the colors or icons for key chapters or scenes—including the color of the Editor background, so if I get the urge to write a sweet first kiss scene in purple font on a pink background I can do that. One application of the color settings is to see at a glance the structure of your novel. For instance, in this WIP, I’m using two colors to denote which scenes are in which character’s viewpoint. I also use a third color for front matter pages and a fourth for back matter pages.

I could go on and on—there’s the multi-purpose split screen mode, templates (if you want them), compiling for print or export (yes, you can convert to Word documents) and much more, but this post is a whopper already. And besides, others can tell you about it better than a newbie can.

Users who love Scrivener are vocal about it. There are numerous videos, articles, and blog posts showing how to use various functions of the program. One such user is Lucinda Whitney who wrote a terrific article, complete with screen shots, titled “What I Love About Scrivener.” She also maintains a Scrivener Pinterest page with links to many other helpful articles.

I learn something new about Scrivener each day I use it, but I quickly learned all I need to know to get organized and start making better use of my writing time. By the way, there’s a Mac version with even more features than the current Windows version. So why not check out the free trial? At least watch the introductory video to see whether Scrivener might be useful for you.

So YES, to answer the question in the post title, I believe this scatterbrained writer can get organized with Scrivener. My trial period will run out in less than three weeks—it runs for 30 full days, no matter how many times you use it during those days—and this time I’ll be paying to register it. Finally, my brain feels uncluttered, which relaxes me and that’s always good for getting the words to flow.



Organizing your writing projects

I used Word to write The Brevity of Roses. I already had a Documents folder labeled Writing with a sub-folder labeled Short Stories. That’s where I saved the story To Be Missed, which is what later became the novel. As the “story” grew, so did the files associated with it, eventually I moved all of them out of the story folder into their own sub-folder within my Novels folder.

Very soon, the Brevity folder spawned sub-folders, some of which spawned their own sub-folders. At that point, it took a bit of effort to navigate the maze to find any particular “notes” or “scenes” or “character” files I needed. Click. Click. Click. Click. Click.

Then, I heard about free writing organization software and tried a couple of them. For one reason or another, I didn’t feel they worked for me.  Now, I’m trying Scrivener for Windows beta. (The Mac version has been around for ages.)

The program is more functional for me as well as more intuitive. For me, it’s a big time saver. My book text, scenes file, character sketches, notes of every kind, even reference photos and videos are all in one file. Click.

That’s not to say I’m a whiz at Scrivener for Windows. I’m still learning. Since it’s a beta version, each new update adds functionality, so it’s even better than when I first tried it last fall. I’m saving my pennies to buy the full version because I believe Scrivener is my answer to organizing each writing project.

Let’s discuss how to organize writing projects. Do you use writing software? Are you so well-organized in your word processing program that’s all you need? Do you click back and forth between an organizer and a word-processor?