Join my newsletter for freebies and info on upcoming books, classes, appearances, and discounts.Join Now!
banner image
Fun, sexy reads

Fun, sexy reads

Looking for fast-paced, sexy romantic suspense with military heroes? Blind Fury (#1) is a hot friends-to-lovers story in D.C. Blind Ambition (#2) is a sexy, second-chance romance on the run in the Caribbean.

Learn More

Scrivener Training for Everyone

Scrivener Training for Everyone

Need help with Scrivener? I provide Scrivener training to individuals and groups all over the world through online courses, in-person workshops, and private training sessions.

Learn More

Resources for Writers and Scrivener Users

Resources for Writers and Scrivener Users

A great reference for new and experienced Scrivener users, a guide to software and apps that help with productivity, and essays on every facet of writing from the Writer Unboxed contributors.

Learn More

Scrivener posts for NaNoWriMo

illustration of man at computer desk wearing headphonesIf you’re participating in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) this year, good luck!

I’m mired in revisions and Scrivener course planning, so I’m skipping this year, but here are a few posts on Scrivener’s best features to help you reach 1667 words per day.

Scrivener and NaNoWriMo for the win

Get unleashed for NaNoWriMo with Scrivener for iOS

If you need more Scrivener help, I have over 60 blog posts on the subject.

You also might try dictating your words, and see what happens.

Happy November!

October’s over already?

view of Surrey/Vancouver from hotel

Surrey/Vancouver from the 19th floor.

October’s been fun, but super busy. The manuscript for book four in the Men of Steele series is back from the editor with great revision notes that I’ll be working on before a few more eyes take a last-minute look at it.

This is Kurt and Caitlyn’s long-awaited story, and I can’t wait to bring it to you in January.

While my editor had her red pen out, I was getting for my trip to the Surrey International Writers Conference (SiWC) in British Columbia, Canada. As prep for one of my workshops, I updated—and added another small section to—Productivity Tools for Writers. Look for the second edition, free at your favorite online retailer. And if you find it useful, would you consider leaving a review?

Productivity Tools for Writers, 2nd ed cover

For those who’ve asked, I plan to publish a print version soon.

SiWC was fantastic. Friendly, diverse, and full of energy. I was so busy giving my own workshops, giving blue pencil sessions (quick reads with feedback), fitting in an occasional run and some fresh air, and recovering from the crowd that I didn’t make it to many workshops. But the keynote speakers were amazing.

blurry photo of Steven Tyler and others at Vancouver airport

Steven Tyler (red jacket) at the airport. Blurry because I was trying to be discreet, LOL.

A few highlights include meeting Diana Gabaldon of Outlander fame in the elevator, and seeing Steven Tyler of Aerosmith at the Vancouver airport on my way home. I also met or reconnected with many other cool people, some of whom I “knew” in person or through social media, and many more who were new to me. I enjoyed them all.

pic of Gwen Hernandez and Kim Strom

Me with awesome creative coach Kim Strom.

For the most part, writers are just plain nice people, and there’s nothing like being surrounded by hundreds of people who “get” you.

Mary Robinette Kowal and her puppet at lectern

Mary Robinette Kowal–well, actually her puppet–giving a keynote.

By the way, you have to check out Tetsuro Shigematsu. This broadcaster, actor, and playwright gave a tear-jerker of a keynote speech about his father—most of the speakers had us alternating between laughing and crying, especially Liza Palmer and Mary Robinette Kowal—and has the best facial hair and wardrobe ever. (Sorry, my pics didn’t turn out.) I’d listen to him read just about anything, and I hope his play Empire of the Son comes to the U.S. one of these days. I’ll be first in line.

Now, I’m trying to catch up on my work stuff. Today, my latest Scrivener post went up at Writer Unboxed, complete with video. It’s called “4 Ways to Make Notes in Scrivener” and covers annotations, comments, and document/project notes. I hope you’ll check it out.

empty airport terminal

Deserted international terminal connector in Vancouver. Scary.

Happy Halloween!

End-of-summer news

computer on table under fall leavesSummer’s over—I hope yours was great!—and my boys are both back at school, my dog is moping around because her buddies are gone, and I finally finished the first (and second) draft of book 4 in my Men of Steele series.

I’m so excited to get Kurt and Caitlyn’s story out there! (Probably January by the time it gets through rounds of editorial, cover art, etc.) I love this couple as much as my readers, but for some reason their story has been the most difficult to write, with several false starts over the last couple of years.

If you’re on my romance newsletter list, you’ll hear from me a few times between now and January with some sneak peeks and maybe a special request.

Book 4 has pretty much been my sole focus for the last two months, but for my Scrivener folks, I’m also working on some new courses—the transition course will be free—and maybe a book. If you use Scrivener, you probably know that version 3 is coming (for Mac this year, and Windows in 2018). It has some really cool updates and features that I can’t talk about yet, but if you’re curious, definitely check out Literature & Latte’s posts on the topic at http://www.literatureandlatte.com/blog/.

If you want to find out when I have new offerings, be sure to sign up for my Scrivener newsletter, or check back here from time to time (you can also subscribe to this blog in the right-hand sidebar at the bottom).

The only other new thing with me is that I got a haircut and it came out much too short (chin length instead of shoulder length, ouch). But it feels good and dries quickly, so there’s that.

Have a wonderful autumn (or spring, if you’re down south)!

Dictating your manuscript for increased word count (and reduced pain)

dictation headset overlaid with blog titleToday, I wrote almost 1700 words in less than an hour. More precisely, I dictated them. While working out on the elliptical at home, no less. (Have I ever mentioned how much I love efficiency?)

Are they perfect words? Hardly. Do I have a scene that I didn’t have yesterday? Yes!

I’m still amazed at how much I can progress if I dictate instead of typing. I think it works for me for a few reasons.

I can be in motion. I don’t have to sit, my hands don’t have to work, I can even do things like fold laundry or chop vegetables (though usually, I just walk around or get on the elliptical).

I can produce words without typing. I started dictating because all the time I spend on my computer was exacerbating my tennis elbow (from snow shoveling in my Boston days). Talking instead of typing gives my overworked arms, hands, and fingers a break.

Standing on the cross-trainer wearing my headset with an hour of dedicated time ahead of me forces me to think out what has to come next in the story and just get started. It’s similar to doing a writing “sprint.”

Also, like a writing sprint, dictating means I can’t edit as I go. This is huge for me, because I tend to write a few paragraphs, edit them, write a few more and so on. Very slow and inefficient, especially since I often end up completely changing or even deleting a scene later. Yes, the words I produce during dictation might be ugly, but I’d have to edit regardless of how I produced the scene in the first place.

If I lose my place after a long pause to think, I just start from what I remember and fix it later. If I have an idea for a change that needs to be made to an earlier section, I add it in parentheses and keep going.

Okay, but it can’t be all perfect, right?

It’s not. There are a few drawbacks.

I’m reluctant to dictate if anyone else is in the house.

I sometimes feel like I haven’t accomplished anything because I wasn’t in front of a computer. I can easily get over this one. 😉

When I’m done dictating, it often feels like very little has happened in the story, and yet I’ve laid down a surprising number of words and moved things forward. And when I read it, the scene is usually much better than I expected.

Despite the overall positive aspects of dictating, I still sometimes have to force myself to start. I’ve associated writing with being on a keyboard for such a long time now, that changing my process so drastically is an adjustment. I think the adjustment is worth it.

Have you ever tried dictating instead of typing? What was your experience. If you haven’t tried it, would you?

My Dictation and Transcription Process

I dictate to an iPhone app called PureAudio Live Recorder, which is super easy to use and currently only $5. From that, I can download the .wav file via Wi-Fi to my computer and have Dragon transcribe it. I save the transcription as an RTF which I then import into Scrivener.

I’m using Dragon Premium 13 for Windows, but I write on a Mac, so I save the RTF to Dropbox so I can import it to Scrivener on my Mac (File>Import>Files).

Where to Get Help with Dictation and Dragon

A good place to find more info is the dictation group on Facebook called Dragon Riders. Start with the pinned post at the top, which has a collection of the most commonly asked questions and their answers. The group has great info on how to get started, the best equipment, best practices, troubleshooting, and so on.

For more help, you might try Scott Baker’s books The Writer’s Guide to Training Your Dragon and Quick Cheats for Writing with Dragon (free on Amazon). I haven’t looked at them yet, but have heard good things from people in Dragon Riders. Apparently, Scott also offers classes.

[Edited 8/18/17 to include my process and additional resources]

Closed captioning now on all ScrivenerClasses.com videos

CC-closed captioning logo

I’m excited to announce that all of the course videos at ScrivenerClasses.com now include closed captioning in English (as do all videos* on this website). I’ve been working on improving the accessibility of my author and course websites, and this was an important next step.

To access the captions, simply click the CC button at the bottom right of the video player and choose English CC.

video player with CC button highlighted

If you have any other suggestions for improving the accessibility of either website, please let me know. Thanks!

*Except the videos of monkeys in Costa Rica. 😉