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

Scrivener 3 and a FREE mini-course

Scrivener 3 for Mac is here! To celebrate, I’ve created a free mini-course to help you transition from Scrivener 2 that covers what’s moved (with a downloadable table of menu commands), what’s changed, and what’s new.

In addition, I’ll be rolling out new Scrivener 3 for Mac courses over the next few weeks. I’m going to be taking a slightly different approach this time around, while offering the same style of teaching that you’ve told me you love. I hope you’ll check them out. To make sure you get notified when new classes are live, you can join my newsletter, follow this blog, or check ScrivenerClasses.com from time to time.

Windows users: There’s still good news. The Scrivener 3 for Windows public beta released today as well, and the full software is due next year. When the time comes, I’ll have classes for you too. 😉

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]

Year of the Dog

According to the Chinese zodiac calendar, 2008 was the year of the rat, but in our house, it was the year of the dog. Specifically, a golden retriever we named Zoe Isabella.

Zoe as new puppy with boys petting her

Zoe sleeping on shoesIf you follow me on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook, you may have seen her a few (hundred) times.

Zoe and Gwen closeup

Zoe sleeping, arm outstretchedQuitting my day job in 2008 not only made it possible for us to bring Zoe into our lives, but for me to start writing. I started on romance in early 2009, and Zoe has been with me from the very beginning, forcing me to leave my writing cave for fresh air and sunshine.

 

Young Zoe on leash

Zoe in front of a tree-lined lake

So, since she turned nine this week: Happy birthday, Zoe!

Zoe in the grass

(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?