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Double-header Friday

I'm so excited to be featured on the Murder She Writes blog today, talking about Scrivener and Scrivener For Dummies! I'm hoping someday I'll be there talking about my latest RS, but for now, this'll do. 😉 BTW, stop by for a chance to win a signed copy of my book!

Today also happens to be my regular Friday over at Everybody Needs a Little Romance. I'm talking about what my husband bought me for our first Christmas together when we were dating. It's not really a holiday story; it's all about my idea of practical romance. What's yours? Come on over and let me know.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Scrivener For Dummies available online

Scrivener For Dummies is out! Just in case you missed it, Scrivener For Dummies is now shipping from online retailers, is available in Kindle format (ePUB coming as soon as retailers decide to put it up), and should be on bookstore shelves in the US next Tuesday (Aug 21st).

When I have information about foreign availability dates, I’ll let you know.

Thanks to everyone who’s purchased the book so far. I hope it becomes a reference you reach for often.

Using Scrivener for nonfiction

Over the years, I’ve talked a lot about how I use Scrivener to work on my manuscripts–the genesis of my Scrivener Tips page–but that was all fiction work. It’s been interesting working on the Scrivener For Dummies (SFD) book and finding that I use the software a bit differently for nonfiction.

Here’s a brief rundown of how I’m using Scrivener to write the book on it.

Document Targets. For romantic suspense, I’m more likely to have a session goal than a target word count for a specific scene. However, with SFD, I’ve been working from my detailed outline, which included estimated page counts. I converted those estimates to word counts and set a document target for each chapter.

I didn’t always meet my goal, and sometimes I overshot, but it was a useful gauge.

QuickReference Panels (Mac only). I have to admit, I hadn’t really found a use for these before. A QR panel is a window in which you can view any item in your binder. The beauty is that you can make it float above your workspace to reference the contents. When you don’t want to split the screen, QR panels are a good choice.

Despite having a second monitor, there were a few times when I needed to set up the screen shot in one monitor, type in the other, and reference a previous screen shot in a third. The QR panel became my third monitor with a window that I could resize and move around as needed, then close when done.

Label and Status. Normally I change Label and Status to POV and Day to track a scene’s point of view and place in the timeline. For SFD, I’m using Label to track where in the process a chapter is: Not Started, WIP, Needs Polish, Submitted (Pre AR), Author Review WIP, Submitted (Post AR), All Phases Done. [Note: AR in this case stands for author review, which I’m in the thick of now.]

Since I had first draft deadlines for each 25% of the book, I changed the Status field to track which portion of the book a chapter or part intro falls into: 1st 25%, 2nd 50%, 3rd 75%, 4th 100%. The batches of chapters I’m getting for author review (revisions) are in the same groupings.

File Groups. My smallest writing chunks in SFD are chapters. I organized the chapters into their respective book parts, which are containers that also hold the part introduction text. To remind myself that the parts were more than just organizational placeholders, I left them as text files rather than changing the icon to a folder. Since they have subdocuments, they became file groups, which are designated with a paper stack icon.

Project Search. I use project search fairly regularly regardless of the type of writing I’m doing. For SFD, it’s particularly helpful when I can’t remember whether I’d mentioned a topic or tip, or can’t remember which chapter I put it in.

Research. I almost always have reference files in the Research folder–often renamed to my liking–and SFD is no exception. I imported my author guidelines documents so I could reference them easily without leaving Scrivener or opening a new program. This also made them easy to search.

Snapshots. I create a snapshot before every major revision, and make sure I take one before making changes during the author review process. I’m making the edits in Word, but copying the final version back into Scrivener so I have an easily accessible, searchable, trackable version of it.

Synopsis. Instead of scene goal or purpose, the synopsis is serving as a place to jot notes for revisions of upcoming chapters. I don’t have a lot of them, but I found myself submitting a chapter and then having a “Hey, wait, I just thought of something!” moment. Document Notes would work for this purpose just as well, but I tend to keep the Project Notes pane visible and forget that I have document notes.

Have you found yourself using different features–or using them differently–depending on the type of work you’re doing? Please share!

Need more help? Sign up for an online class, read more Scrivener articles, or schedule a private training session. If you don't already have it, you can download Scrivener here.

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Opportunity Knocked

The meeting of preparation with opportunity generates the offspring we call luck. ~ Tony Robbins

I’ve spent the last three years writing and submitting my butt off trying to get published in romantic suspense. So what’s my first book credit going to be? Scrivener For Dummies.

Say what?

Here’s how it happened.

When I quit my stressful day job four years ago to stay home with my kids, I knew I wanted to use the time they were at school to pursue my long-delayed dream of writing.

But what to write? Sounds stupid, doesn’t it? Thrillers and mysteries were my books of choice before I discovered romance, but I didn’t have those stories in me. So it made sense to me that I’d write nonfiction. After all, I’d done well on written assignments since high school, kind of enjoyed writing my thesis, and actually aced the undergraduate writing exam when I retook it in grad school. Nonfiction made sense.

Until I started researching the life of a freelance writer. What topics could possibly hold my interest long enough to make enough money selling articles? If I wrote a book, what the heck would it be about? I didn’t have a topic burning inside me waiting to get out. I wasn’t an expert on anything I cared to write about, and the topics I cared about had all been written to death.

I was just about frustrated enough to give up when I found romance, and realized the ideas in my head were love stories. Aha! From that day forward I set myself to romance, eventually folding in my love of intrigue to write romantic suspense.

Along the way, something funny happened. A friend introduced me to the writing software Scrivener, and I found a new love story. Without realizing it, I’d found a topic worth writing about. The techie in me couldn’t help but explore Scrivener’s tools, and when I realized other writers were unaware of them, I started blogging about the cool features I unearthed.

Then I started digging for more neat things about the software so I’d have something to blog about. Bonus: I learned something new too. Suddenly my site became a resource for other Scrivener users, and hits were coming from all over the world, especially when the friendly guys at Literature & Latte (L&L) mentioned a post.

My growing following of readers began telling me I should teach classes and write a book. Oh, silly readers, I write romance. All this extra Scrivener stuff is just for fun.

But I love teaching, and that idea took root, so when one of my chapters offered a free class on how to create and pitch an online class, I took it. What I learned gave me the confidence to create and pitch a Scrivener course, which has become, happily, quite popular.

Through word of mouth, continued blogging, and continued support from L&L, my name got around. People bandied about titles like Scrivener Goddess/Ninja… It was a crazy thing that I never planned for, and didn’t do much to promote other than blogging, and tweeting about my blog posts.

So in February, when the folks who publish the For Dummies books found themselves working on a Scrivener book without an author, they went hunting on Twitter and found me (and several others). After an exhausting proposal and outline process, I got the call on February 24th!

And here I am, back where I started, writing nonfiction. The actual event that got me here was a blip and makes it sound like some kind of dream scenario. Like that writer whose first manuscript is picked up on her first submission. Or Daryl Hannah getting discovered while walking across the USC campus.

Sure, it was good luck. But becoming the writer for Scrivener For Dummies has been four years–maybe a whole lifetime–in the making. My good luck was “the meeting of preparation and opportunity” in the truest sense I can imagine. The luck part was that I didn’t go looking for it.

Not generally the best strategy for getting published, but hey, I’ll take it.

This post was originally published at Everybody Needs a Little Romance.