Wednesday, July 3, 2024

Tools of the Trade, an IWSG post


Welcome to the first Wednesday of the month. You know what that means! It's time to let our insecurities hang out. Yep, it's the Insecure Writer's Support Group blog hop. If you're a writer at any stage of career, I highly recommend this blog hop as a way to connect with other writers for support, sympathy, ideas, and networking. If you're a reader, it's a great way to peek behind the curtain of a writing life.

Our Twitter handle is @TheIWSG and hashtag is #IWSG.  The awesome co-hosts for the July 3 posting of the IWSG are JS Pailly, Rebecca Douglass, Pat Garcia, Louise-Fundy Blue, and Natalie Aguirre!
July 3 question - What are your favorite writing processing (e.g. Word, Scrivener, yWriter, Dabble), writing apps, software, and tools? Why do you recommend them? And which one is your all time favorite that you cannot live without and use daily or at least whenever you write?

Scrivener was a game-changer for me for novel-writing (and other long-form works, like nonfiction, essay collections, or short story collections). 

A great visual of why I love Scrivener

When I was writing my first novel, back in 2009 or so, I was using Microsoft Word and it was frustrating AF for me. One giant document, with no way to jump around within it quickly and easily to get to the piece I wanted? 

(My understanding is that Word has upped its game since then, but too late, I've moved on. I now only use Word for processing edits from my publisher). 

I'm not 100% sure in my memory of how I found Scrivener. Maybe by doing National Novel Writing Month? But it won me instantly with the corkboard. Suddenly I could keep the whole thing in view in a way that really worked for me. 

See, I'm a writer who writes in layers. 

My drafts begin kind of thin and bare-bones, and as I work, I come back around in loops and add depth, descriptions, breadcrumbs, interiority, setting, as it comes to me. So that means I don't necessary start on page one and finish on page three hundred, but I might write a scene that I know isn't coming for a while to give myself sort of a goal post to aim at, then go back and fill in what happens to get us there. Or I might have an inspiration in chapter 17 and go back and pull that thread through the whole book before I move forward. It's probably not an efficient process, but it is working for me.  

chapter organizational view

I've never been all that great at holding the whole thing in my head at once, balancing the big picture, small focus thing. But Scrivener makes it easy for me to off-load parts of that. I can color code my folders, use symbols to indicate different organizational elements, pick up entire chapters and drag them to a different part of the book with ease. I've never lost something to a messy cut-and-paste or glitched out the document and screwed up the formatting like often happened to me Word. 

The novel I'm finishing now (series ender for the Menopausal Superheroes--still settling on a title), for example, is organized by day, with chapters that all take place on the same day grouped together. 

Within each day, there are chapters with different points of view. Patricia, the Lizard woman of Springfield, gets a green book symbol, Leonel "Fuerte", the strongman, gets a yellow book. Jessica "Flygirl" gets a cloud, Sally Ann gets a light bulb, Mary gets a magnifying glass. This lets me see at a glance when I've left a character out too long and need to consider what they're up to during this section. 

corkboard view

When I look at this in "corkboard" I get the same symbols, my chapter title, and a bit of the text for the page. If I choose, I can write more of a summary of that chapter to show here and I have done that sometimes, using the "scene cards" technique I read about in the DIY-MFA book by Gabriela Pereira, which asks you to record 4 pieces of information for each chapter/scene:
  • a title for the scene
  • the major players
  • the action
  • the purpose (structurally)
It's a kind of outlining or at least record-keeping that works for me, even though I'm a pantser and am sometimes writing this down AFTER I wrote the scene, and has been really helpful in revisions. 

I don't use half of what Scrivener can do, but it has still revolutionized the whole process for me and alleviated a lot of stress and worry. 

So, thanks for coming to my TED-talk :-) In all seriousness, I am quite a fan-girl of Scrivener, but you should always remember how individual this process is and find the tool that works best for you and your process. No matter what we're talking about, your mileage my vary. 

So, how do you organized your creative life and projects? I'd LOVE to hear it about in the comments. And don't forget to check out the rest of the blog hop and see what else is out there to try!

Monday, July 1, 2024

Celebration time, an open book blog hop post


Welcome to Open Book Blog Hop. You can find us every Monday talking about the writing life. I hope you'll check out all the posts: you'll find the links at the bottom of this post.

Do you have a special way of celebrating when you finish writing a book? Or other achievements in your journey? How do you reward yourself?

When I finish writing the first draft of a novel, I'm so elated that I almost don't need any other celebration. I feel like I could float away from the joy of completing the book. I imagine it feels similar to what athletes experience when they get to the top of a mountain or the end of a race.  

I do, however, tell my inner support circle right away--my husband, my kids, my sister, my mother, my critique partners. Those are the folks who have been in the struggle with me for the months or years that it took to bring a project to fruition and they'll rejoice with me. 

In fact, I just got there once again at the end of June, on my writer's retreat to the mountains of North Carolina. How perfect to run into the main room, arms in the air, and take a victory lap, with my critique partners right there to whoop and holler with me. I should always try to finish a book while on writer's retreat!

image source

Of course, finishing *writing* a novel isn't really the end of that journey. There's still editing, revisions, and the actual publishing process. 

The BEST moment is when I hold the paper copy of my work in my hands for the first time. I keep a spinner rack in my office that has paper copies of all my novels and short stories in anthologies on it and it's a major boost to me just to look over and see how many books are there. 

For my first novel in this series, which was also my debut novel, Going Through the Change,  I had a book launch party at a local bookstores. Cookies and punch, copies of the book for sale, a Phil Donahue-style interview with me by a writing friend, reading from the book. My whole family came out and so did everyone local enough to me and it was one of the best nights of my life. 

Me, my daughter, and my dad, looking happy and related at my book launch party in 2015.

In fact, I think I'm going to do it again for this book. After all, it's the series ender, coming out ten years after the first book. Finishing the entire five book series (and accompanying novellas and shorts) feels like something to really celebrate. 

4 novels, 2 novellas, some shorts, and a collection of all the shorts.
One more novel coming soon!

In fact, I'm working on setting up a book tour for it, hoping to partner with some of my writer friends across the country and hit a string of bookstores, libraries, and other venues. 

(Hit me up, writer friends, if you might be interested in partnering with me on events in 2025, especially if our work has any obvious connections: feminism, aging, menopause, superheroes, female friendship, etc.)

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter