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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.

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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.

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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.

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(Dis)connected

© Thorsten | Dreamstime Stock Photos

Do you ever wish you could disconnect from the Internet? We are plugged in via social media, on-demand television, virtual helpers like Google Home and Amazon’s Echo (Alexa), smart thermostats, email, our cars, online banking, and more. We don’t even realize how dependent we are until the connection goes down or we lose power.

Smart computer systems, using access to immense amounts of data, can use our browsing history to recommend new products, guess that we’re pregnant before our own family members, and predict the fastest route from our home to the beach at 5pm tomorrow.

How did I live without all this technology in the first half of my life?

And yet, I sometimes miss that disconnected life. I sometimes envy those who have managed to let it all pass them by, even as they become disassociated from mainstream society. Last year, I found myself almost jealous of the characters in the dystopian novel Station Eleven because they had no obligations to a small glass and metal rectangular object through which an astonishing amount of my life plays out.

I’m not a Luddite by any means. I love technology. I love having two-click access to almost any information, and the ability to turn on my lights with a voice command or “visit” my far-flung family members via FaceTime.

But sometimes, I need to disconnect. I need to go into my backyard, walk the dog, take a hike, or go to the beach, and live screen free for a while. Not just screen free, but instant-access free.

The problem with on-demand everything is that the minute we think a question, we can run off and answer it. But maybe it would be better to merely ponder it for a while. Enjoy the quiet act of thinking without distraction. To stew in our thoughts without always feeding our eyeballs with information.

I’m reading a book (on my iPad, of course) called The Inevitable by Kevin Kelly. It talks about the types of innovations we can expect to see in the future, and how we’re only going to be more integrated. There are a lot of exciting things coming.

But I’m still going to need a break from it all.

Even now, I feel better when I take some time out of my day to unplug. This is one of the reasons why I run. And do yoga. Or brainstorm with—gasp!—paper and pen.

I don’t want to ditch my devices and move off grid, but I am trying to purposely schedule sanity breaks into my day. I imagine they’ll be even more important as we march inevitably forward into the connected abyss.

What are your thoughts on our expanding connectedness?

Facing the blank canvas

blank piece of paper on a table with pens and coffee mug

© creativecommonsstockphotos | Dreamstime Stock Photos

The ability to write anything is scary.

I liken it to being given a blank canvas and told to “Paint something.” It’s paralyzing. But if the same person gave you the canvas and said, “Paint a tree,” you’d probably think for a minute about what a tree looks like to you, and then dive in.

In that way, parameters can actually free up your creativity rather than stifling it.

Once I know how my story starts, then I know which path I’m on. I might take some unexpected detours along the way, but I’m not switching mountains halfway through. (Unless, maybe, killer plot twist?)

I’m trying to work on the next book in my Men of Steele series, and this is where I remember how messed up my process is. No matter which method I use, I end up starting the story about 50 different ways before I figure out how to get into it.

I do have a few constraints to help me out. I know I’m writing romantic suspense, and that it takes place within the world of my Men of Steele series. And I know who the hero is.

But if a character can be stubborn, Kurt Steele is the worst. I’m not one of those writers who believes my characters have control, but once they form in my mind, that’s pretty much what I’m stuck with. (See Scott Kramer of Blindsided, who came to me as a Marine scout sniper, even though I’d been researching and writing Air Force PJ heroes.)

I’ve tried to write Kurt’s book several times now, and he doesn’t cooperate. At all. This time, I’m determined to write him a happily ever after, but I may turn gray doing it.

Wish me luck!

If you’re a writer, have you ever struggled with a particular character’s story? Got any suggestions?

Working with projects in Scrivener for iOS (w/videos)

Here’s a little primer (complete with videos) I created to get you started with Scrivener for iOS. If you’re looking for a full class on the app, use this link for a sweet deal on Steve Shipley’s Udemy course.

Creating a New Project

Scrivener for iOS can be used as a standalone program without the Mac or Windows version. As such, you can create a new project within the iOS app. This also means that if you’re on the road and want to start something new, there’s no need to set it up on your computer first. In a minute, I’ll tell you how to move the project to Dropbox, if desired. Here’s how to get started.

  1. Tap the + Create Project button on the right side of the screen. Alternatively, you can tap the “Tap to create a project” button under On My iPad at the left. create a new project
  2. In the New Project dialog box that appears, tap in the text box and type the name of your project. enter the project name
  3. Click Create.
  4. Choose whether to save the project on your iPad or Dropbox. If you’re not working with the Mac or Windows version and don’t need to sync with Dropbox, choose “On my iPad.” If you’ve already set up Dropbox for syncing, and would like this project to be available on your other devices, select Dropbox. NOTE: Remember, you can always move an iPad project to Dropbox later. I discuss this in the next section. choose where to save it The project is created using Scrivener’s basic Blank template, and the project is opened. new project

Video review – 50 secs

Closing a Project

When you’re ready to close a project, simply tap the left arrow button in the upper left corner until you reach the Projects screen.

Back to projects button

Sometimes, if you’re in a document in a folder in a project, you may have to tap it several times to back up through the layers.

back from document button

NOTE: If you tap your iPad’s home button to exit Scrivener, the project doesn’t close. If you plan to work on that project on another computer/device, be sure to return to the Projects screen and sync before exiting.

Moving a Project

On the main Projects screen, projects are organized in two ways. Under the Projects column on the left, they are grouped by location and sorted alphabetically. The project tiles on the right side of the Projects screen display the projects by “last viewed” date/time.

You cannot adjust the order of display in either list, but you can move them between your iPad and Dropbox to change their location. Here’s how.

  1. In the Projects column, tap Edit.
    edit buttonThe Projects column enters Edit mode.edit mode
  2. Press and hold the three lines icon to the right of the project you’d like to move until the project box turns gray.
  3. Drag the project to the desired location. moving a projectThe project is now shown in its new location. NOTE: If you moved a project from your iPad to Dropbox, a blue triangle appears to alert you that the project has not been synced to Dropbox.
  4. Tap Done to exit Edit mode.

Duplicating a Project

To duplicate a project (same as File—>Save As on the Mac or Windows version), do the following.

  1. In the Projects column, tap Edit.
  2. Tap the circle to the left of the project to duplicate. selecting a project to duplicate
  3. Tap the Duplicate button (squares with + inside) at the bottom of the Projects screen. Scrivener creates a complete copy of the project in the same location as the selected project and adds a number to the end of the new project’s name. duplicate project
  4. Tap Done to exit Edit mode.

Deleting a Project

Here’s how to delete a project.

  1. In the Projects column, tap Edit.
  2. Tap the circle to the left of the project to delete.
  3. Tap Delete at the bottom of the screen. When the confirmation message appears, tap Delete. The project is removed from your list. NOTE: If the project is stored in Dropbox, it won’t disappear from Dropbox until you sync Scrivener, even though the file no longer appears in your list.
  4. Tap Done to exit Edit mode.

Renaming a Project

To rename a project, do the following.

  1. Press and hold the project name (in either list) until the Project Title dialog box appears. renaming a project
  2. Type the new name and tap OK.

Video review – 3:39 mins

Need more help? Sign up for an online class, check out Scrivener For Dummies, read more Scrivener articles, or schedule a private training session.

Like this article?

tea mug and chocolate barIt takes a lot of mint green tea and dark chocolate to fuel these posts.

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The Great Capitol Crimes Writers Workshop

If you’re in Northern California and looking for an inexpensive, one-day workshop for writers, check out The Great Capitol Crimes Writers Workshop in Rancho Cordova (Sacramento) on April 22nd. It’s sponsored by the local chapter of Sisters in Crime, but the topics are relevant for any fiction author.

The lunchtime keynote speaker is New York Times bestselling author Catherine Coulter.

And, I’ll be there, talking about—what else?—Scrivener. 😉 I’ve cut back on appearances since the move, and this is my only scheduled in-person workshop (so far) this year. Maybe I’ll see you there!

SINCC conference flyer

By the way, if your group or conference would like a Scrivener presentation, contact me about putting on a one-hour or half-day workshop. I’m also available for group presentations via teleconference.

Making time to read

stack of books in front of flowersDespite all the detours I took getting here, I’ve wanted to be a writer since at least 7th grade. Maybe it’s because I was such a huge reader. Like bring-home-14-books-a-week-from-the-library-during-the-summer huge. Like never-not-reading-something huge. Like up-too-late-reading-under-the-covers-with-a-flashlight-on-a-school-night huge.

(Who’s with me?)

I was constantly immersed in stories, to the point that my friends made fun of my vocabulary. (Because, apparently, no one uses words like risqué in middle school.)

Even while working full time for someone else, I probably read at least a book or two a week. I read on my lunch break, at the gym, while waiting for my boys at sports practice, on weekends, and after the kids went to bed.

Somehow, I managed to have a life and still read.

And then I started writing, and the more I got into it, the less I read. Not because I didn’t want to, but because I was using that time to write. And because I felt like if I had the time, I should write. Or do something else “productive.”

But if I’m always writing and never reading, how do I know what’s going on in the world of books? And how am I refilling my creative well if I’m never immersed anyone else’s words and ideas and style?

Okay, well not never. But there were whole weeks that went by where I didn’t crack open—or power up—a single book that wasn’t for story research or writing education.

For someone who got into writing because she loved stories, that seemed ridiculous. I had two main problems.

  1. I had no office hours. This is the ongoing dilemma for those who work from home. We’re never not at work, and if we have downtime, we feel like we should be filling it with work. One of the few things I miss about working for someone else is that when I came home in the evening, I could relax and enjoy that time guilt-free.
  2. I didn’t make reading a priority. I was making a lot of things happen, but sitting down to read when I could be cleaning, or writing, or answering email, or sorting my socks felt like playing hooky from all the things I should be doing.

I haven’t completely solved number one, but I am getting better at giving myself permission to ignore my office after dinner.

Number two has been easier. I simply added reading to my daily to-do list, and created a goal on Goodreads. Once something is on my list, it’s no longer a guilty pleasure, it’s a must-do.

“Fun read” has its own checkbox right alongside things like working out, writing, and all of my business to-dos. I hate unchecked boxes, so now I find ways to fit it in. I’m back to reading on my lunch break—this newer thing I’m trying where I don’t eat in front of my computer…

I read in the evenings when my husband returns to studying after we eat dinner and watch a show together, and while flossing/brushing my teeth.

Sometimes, on the weekend, I’ll sit in the living room or on the back patio, and get lost in a book for hours. Crazy, right?

Last year I read a little over 60 books—both fiction and nonfiction—against a goal of 52. This year, I’ve already finished more than 20 toward my goal of 75.

I’m pretty sure I’ll smash 75, and enjoy every minute of it.

Are you a big reader? Is there something in your life you’d like to fit in? What’s holding you back?