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Compile help at Writer Unboxed

laptop open on a desk in front of a window with trees in the background, and post title across top

Want to know how to create a DOCX file in Scrivener 3? Turns out Friday the 13th is your lucky day. Head on over to Writer Unboxed to learn more and ask me your Scrivener questions.

If Compile is a topic you could use additional help with, stay tuned for online class news, coming soon.

I’m off to the Romance Writers of America conference in Denver next week. I hope to see a few of you at the conference or the literacy signing.

Enjoy your weekend!

Signing Books for Literacy

Any chance you’ll be in Denver next month? If you’re nearby and you’re a fan of romance, don’t miss the Romance Writers of America (RWA) “Readers for Life” Literacy Autographing on Saturday, July 21st.

literacy autographing promo graphic

I’ll be there—with about 300 other romance writers—signing Blindsided and Running Blind for charity. As an author and avid reader, adult literacy is an issue close to my heart. (To that end, I recently started volunteering as a book club leader for the LA Public Library’s literacy program.)

Thanks to awesome readers like you, since 1990, RWA has raised over $1 million for literacy organizations. According to ProLiteracy, that’s enough to help 40,000 adults learn to read!

I hope you can join me to support the cause, and take home some great reads in the process. I’d love to say hello, sign a book or two, even take a selfie with you. 🙂

The Deets

  • FREE admission, open to the public (no advance tickets required)
  • 100% of the proceeds go to ProLiteracy and the Literacy Coalition of Colorado
  • July 21st, 3-5 pm, Sheraton Denver Downtown, 1550 Court Place, Denver, CO

Memorial Day

Redondo Beach veterans memorial with flag at half mast

Veteran’s Park – Redondo Beach, CA

Today I honor and remember those military service members who made the ultimate sacrifice for my country. Happy Memorial Day!

Scrivener How-To: Using Snapshots

Happy Friday! I’m at the Writers in the Storm blog today talking about how to save your words in Scrivener with the Snapshots feature. I hope you’ll check it out. I’m traveling and may not be able to respond quickly, but I’ll pop in to answer questions when I can.

Cheers from Alaska!

Blockbuster Video storefront

Turns out Internet isn’t cheap here…

How to fail at writing

 

Quote by Thomas Edison, "I have not failed. I have just found 9999 ways that do not work." in blue lettering on white.

I’m all for the idea that failure is merely figuring out what doesn’t work, finding out where you need to focus your energy, and that it’s an important part of the learning process that we often stigmatize to our detriment.

However, I really wish my method for producing a novel didn’t resemble Edison’s light bulb-inventing process as much as it does. I’m mainly a pantser—a seat-of-the-pants or “organic” writer—who doesn’t plot my books in advance. (Believe me, I’ve tried.) For a logic-oriented person who likes to make lists, and plans just about everything else in her life, this is disconcerting, irritating, annoying, and a long list of other synonyms.

For my books, I have learned that I need to understand what the antagonist is doing and why, or I won’t get past the first quarter of the book, no matter how exciting my initial premise. Without the villain’s goal and motivation, I can’t figure out how to escalate their actions against the main characters in a way that makes sense.

I also need to know the inner conflict between the hero and heroine (what’s keeping them apart), and the outer conflict (what’s keeping them together). The latter usually relates back to the antagonist/villain, so it’s all linked.

In order to determine these things—because even when I think I have them, I usually don’t—I must write. I write scenes (or partial scenes), discard them, write new ones, repeat. Every scene (or set of scenes) is a method for testing an idea. It also spurs my subconscious to go to work on the story in ways it just won’t if I’m only sitting around thinking or making lists of ideas.

Eventually, I do nail it. (Hopefully, it doesn’t take 9,999 times!!) And once I have the early stuff figured out, the rest of the book comes together much faster. Not fast exactly, but faster.

So, if you’ve ever wondered why it takes me so damn long to write a book, mystery solved.

I’m slowly learning to, well, not love, but at least work with my method. Honestly, I feel lucky I have a process at all. I’m writing, so life is good.

How about you? Do you have a process for writing—or anything else—that frustrates you, but ultimately works?

Anniversaries

partially blurred clocks flying over gray backgroundJanuary marked nine years since I started writing. February was 10 years since I quit working for someone else. March means I’ve been married to my awesome man for 23 years (!!). And in May I’ll have been teaching Scrivener for seven years. (April is, apparently, worthless.)

Every time these anniversaries roll around, I’m shocked at how much time has passed.

And yet, if I look back, tons has happened. Contest wins and finals. A nonfiction book deal. Three training platforms. Four novels indie published. Two kids in college. Five moves. And so many new friends. Whew!

I’ve grown immensely as a writer and businessperson, though there will always be more to learn. In fact, that’s part of what keeps it interesting.

There are things I miss about having a “day” job—the camaraderie, the ability to leave work behind at the end of the day, a steady paycheck—but I love being my own boss.

Unlike many of the jobs I’ve had over the years—being a military spouse either means having a long resumé or no resumé—writing never ceases to be a challenge. You don’t “master” it and then get bored. (Or realize how repetitive it is, have a blast learning how to automate it, and then get bored. Oops.)

In addition to improving the craft of writing and storytelling, there’s always a new storyline to develop, a plot problem to solve, or a character to understand.

And no matter how many manuscripts I write—and there are way more in various stages of never-to-be-completed/published than the four novels I have out—each one presents its own struggle. Usually the good kind. Like solving a puzzle.

(Please remind me of that next time I’m pulling out my hair over my current work in progress.)

And when I want a break from writing, I get to teach people how to use my favorite program. I talk to real live humans, and help them solve a problem. Two activities I adore. 😉 Plus, the need to keep up with Scrivener and all the technologies I use to provide online courses and private training ensure I’ll never be bored.

(Side note: If your kids ever tell they could never be bored if they had a dog, I’m here to tell you they’re lying.)

So, basically, I’m happy.

Last weekend we celebrated our wedding anniversary with 36 hours in Seattle. Below are a few pics.

tulips in buckets in a public market

Fresh flowers at Pike Place Market

utility cover stamped with flowers and "CITY LIGHT CITY BRIGHT" repeated around the edges

Every utility cover I saw in Seattle was different. This one was across from the Seattle Art Museum.

Camellia bush in front of pond with pine trees in background

Washington Park Arboretum Japanese Garden

vine-covered pergola in pond with mostly bare willow and greenery in background

Washington Park Arboretum Japanese Garden

tall bridge over lake in early morning, with dock and boathouse in front and smaller boats in back

George Washington Bridge over Lake Union looking East from the Fremont Bridge

boathouse and canoes on water

Center for Wooden Boats on South Lake Union

What big milestones or anniversaries are happening for you this year?