Gwen Hernandez

Author of romantic suspense. Scrivener expert.

My own Veterans Day heroes

Veterans Day oval

The heroes in my current romantic suspense series are all veterans. Their best qualities are influenced by the real-life heroes I’ve been surrounded by since birth. My dad (Army and Navy), my uncle (Navy), my husband (Air Force), my father-in-law (Marines and Air Force), and many friends across services.

There is no one type of person who chooses the military, but the men and women I know who serve(d) embody honor, integrity, self-sacrifice, and loyalty. They are both average Americans and extraordinary people. They are conservative, liberal, religious, atheist, omnivores, vegans, intense, easy going, confident, shy, fast, slow, and everything in between.

To all of them: Thank You.

Thanks for 6 years of community and sharing

6 years confetti sign

On October 27th, my blog/website turned six! It started out as The Edited Life—which I thought was oh, so clever until I realized there was a radio show and a book or two by the same name—a place for me to establish a presence online even though I wasn’t yet published. Agents and editors back in 2009 were recommending (and still do) that all authors have a web page. So I made one.

Like everyone else who didn’t yet have anything to attract readers, I blogged for other writers (and hoped a few friends would show up). And then about three weeks in, I wrote about the writing program my friend had recommended called Scrivener.

Then I kept writing about it because it was fun, and I’m a nerd about stuff like that.

People started finding my site, I published a few books, taught some classes and workshops, and now I have this awesome community of writers and readers. You’ve gone along for the ride as I’ve shared travel stories, lessons learned, rejections, successes, plans, failures, struggles, and motivations. And best of all, you’ve shared back.

To all of you—whether you’ve been with me since the early days, or just joined me recently—thank you!

Thanks confetti sign


Rocking NaNoWriMo with Scrivener

NaNo banner

Are you planning to tackle 50,000 words for National Novel Writing Month in November? Here are some of my favorite Scrivener features for staying on track.


When you get stuck in your manuscript—can’t think of the perfect dialogue, realize you don’t know the right word, feel like you need to do more research on the topic—make a note using an annotation or a comment and get back to rockin’ the words. You can use Find by Formatting in December to revisit the spots that need more work.

Annotations example

– Annotations: Format—>Inline Annotation

– Comments: Format—>Comment

– Find by Formatting: Edit—>Find—>Find by Formatting

Project Targets

Get a nice visual cue for how you’re doing with project targets. Set the Draft (Manuscript) Target to 50,000 and the Session Target to 1667, and let Scrivener keep track of your progress. You can leave the Project Targets window open or closed while writing.Project Target example

– Mac: Project—>Show Project Targets (NOTE: Mac users can go into the Options pane, set a deadline, and let Scrivener calculate/adjust the daily target automatically.)

– Windows: Project—>Project Targets

Full Screen/Composition Mode

Block out distractions with Full Screen (Windows) or Compositon (Mac) mode. You can keep the black background, change the color, or even add an image. I like images that are conducive to calm and creativity, but lately I’ve been using pictures that remind me of the setting of my story and keep me in that mood.

Full Screen Composition mode example

– Change the background color (Mac): Scrivener—>Preferences—>Compose, under Customizable Colors, choose Background and click the color box

– Change the background color (Windows): Tools—>Options—>Appearance, under Colors, choose Full Screen—>Background, and click the color box

– Use an image (Mac): View—>Composition Backdrop, choose an image from the Binder or your computer

– Use an image (Windows): View—>Full Screen Backdrop, choose an image from the Binder or your compute

NaNoWriMo Edition and Template

Current Scrivener users can download a special NaNoWriMo template that comes loaded with predefined project statistics and compile settings.

If you’re new to Scrivener, there’s a NaNo version of the free trial that gives you extra time to play with the program and includes the template I mentioned above. If you decide you love Scrivener, wait for the NaNoWriMo discount at the end of November before you buy!


You can import your supporting materials—research, notes, and images—in advance. Simply drag them from your computer’s file system into the Binder, or go to File—>Import. Are you a plotter? Pre-plot your manuscript using the Corkboard, or just write out your ideas on a blank document stored outside the Draft folder. And you might want to add another document for storing ideas for changes or new scenes that come to you while writing.

Have fun!

Don’t forget that NaNoWriMo is supposed to be fun and empowering. Enjoy the process, write fast and loose, and don’t censor yourself. Even if you don’t “win,” you’ll probably still surprise yourself with how much you can write in a day or a week. No matter what the final word count, any progress toward your novel still makes you a winner.

After a year off, I’ve decided to rejoin the NaNo craziness, and I’ll be taking advantage of Scrivener to keep me on pace.

Are you taking up the NaNo challenge this year? Is it your first year? Your tenth? I’d love to know. And good luck! (I’m gmhernandez at if you want to add me as a buddy.)

Scrivener Updates

mouse cord spelling out "update"Both Scrivener for Mac and Scrivener for Windows received updates recently (to 2.7 and 1.9, respectively). You’ll notice some small changes in the interface—e.g. the Inspector buttons are now at the top of the Inspector for better visibility—and a few new options, but the biggest modifications seem to be under the hood.

New File Structure

In order to make them compatible with future mobile applications, the Scrivener project format has been updated. When you open a current project, you’ll be asked to convert it to the new format. A backup copy will be created in the same folder in case you have any issues. Updated projects—and those created with the new versions—will not open on older versions of Scrivener. They are still compatible between Mac and Windows as long as both computers have the latest software update.

New SCRIVX name (Windows)

Along with the new file structure, the project.scrivx file that resides within your project folder (<filename>.scriv) will now share the same name as the project folder, rather than the generic word “project.” For more on how the file system works for PCs, check out my post on Scrivener Basics.

New Tutorial

Both versions have an updated tutorial. I recommend the tutorial as a great way to get an overview of what Scrivener has to offer. Don’t feel like you have to remember everything you learn, just know that it’s there.

Have you updated yet? What’s cool? Any complaints?

For a detailed list of changes, visit to the Change List page for Mac or Windows. For more Scrivener help, check out Scrivener For Dummies, or my online courses.

My first day at Writer Unboxed

Happy relaxed Business Man sitting on Office Chair on Street with Computer

Hey, it’s my first day as a regular contributor over at Writer Unboxed. My topic is 9 (or more) Things I Love About Scrivener. I know, you’re shocked. 😉 Feel free to stop by and share your favorite feature, or ask me for info about the software. Happy Wednesday!


Piling it on: expectations and stress

woman with to-do list

In my first job as a programmer, my company’s sales team consistently promised clients super-short turnaround times that we couldn’t meet without working serious overtime, sometimes as much as 16-hour days.

Talk about stress.

Had they given us another day or two for each project, I might not have been so glad to quit when we moved.

Same project, different timeline. The projects themselves weren’t inherently stressful. It was the company’s unrealistic expectations that made them so.

Sadly, now that I work for myself, it turns out I’m not much better than that old sales team at setting realistic expectations. I’m not even talking about big things, like publishing deadlines.

I’m talking about my daily to-do list. In my head there’s this fictional world where I can “handle” my email in 20 minutes, compose and publish a blog in under an hour, and consistently produce 3000 words a day.


That’s called Fantasy Land.

When I plan out my day (poorly) and don’t meet my goals, I get stressed. Over the long term, repeated stress takes time off your life, weakens your immune system (so you feel like crap AND lose more productive time), and turns you into an irritating house companion.

So, the problem doesn’t necessarily lie in having too many things to do (though I also need to learn to trim my list), but in not allotting myself enough time in which to accomplish them.

A to-do list with 18 items that I’ve taken care to schedule realistically—with buffer time for things like potty breaks, food, and general miscalculation—might keep me busy, but at the end of the day I’ll be feeling pretty good.

Yet, a list with three items can bring me low if improperly handled.

I’d love to say I’ve slain this beast, but I’d be lying. It’s something I have to re-address every few months or so because I get lazy and start winging it, and then start stressing…

Here’s my current approach to managing my towering to-do list:

1. I’m taking note of how long repeated tasks actually take, and using that to set a more achievable schedule.

2. I’m prioritizing my list so the most important things get done first (Eat that Frog by Brian Tracy has great suggestions). Even if I don’t get to everything, I’ll at least get to the items that matter most.

3. I’m going to bed earlier so I can get up earlier. I’m a night owl, but I’m more productive if I start my day early and get the key tasks—like writing—done before the day “starts” for real.

I actually set several alarms on my phone to remind me to get ready for/go to bed. The key is not to ignore them. 😉

4. I (usually) create a daily schedule. I’ve been hinting at this throughout, but when I know I have a busy day ahead, I’ll plan it out the night before, down to the quarter hour. If I have an appointment or event, I work backwards from it.

I schedule everything that happens prior to the appointment—with a bit of buffer for derailment—and then follow it with a list of other things to get done that day (sometimes schedules, sometimes not).

So it might look like this:

0600 Wake

0630 Run and cool down

0800 Walk dog

0815 Eat breakfast

0845 Shower

0945 Leave for Physical Therapy


Call Jane

Blog post

I’m training for a half marathon, so on running days I go early while it’s still cool outside. (BTW, exercise is great stress relief!) Every other day of the week I start with writing, so it’s the first thing I accomplish, and work out later.

When everything is scheduled for its own time, I can relax and focus, instead of worrying about whether I should be doing something else.

And, yes. Some days I totally fail. If I don’t go to bed early enough, none of this works, so that’s HUGE for me right now. My biggest struggle. But having a plan (and a specific reason to get up) makes it easier.

I have high expectations for myself overall, which I think is important, but I’m learning to keep them real in my day-to-day plan.

How about you? What stresses you out, and how are you handling it (or not)?

I’m joining Writer Unboxed

NEWS on typewriter keyboard

About three years ago—wow, time flies—I wrote a guest post about Scrivener for the Writer Unboxed (WU) website. In case you haven’t heard of it, Writer Unboxed has a regular spot on the Writer’s Digest “101 Best Websites for Writers” list.

Well, I chatted with cofounder Therese Walsh a couple of weeks ago at the WD conference, and we got to talking and…

I’m excited to announce that starting September 16th, I’ll become a quarterly contributor to the site, writing about—what else?—Scrivener. :-)

I’ll be sure to let you know when my first post comes out. Meanwhile, if you’ve never visited, you might want to check out all of the WU greatness.

By the way, at Kiss and Thrill this week I wrote (and posted lots of pictures) about some of the reasons I’m loving summer. Check it out and feel free to share what you like about the hot season. Enjoy the rest of yours!

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