Friday, May 23, 2008

A Note From Paradise

This morning I woke up and the first thing I saw was the ocean. I thought I was dreaming, then I remembered we drove down last night. It was late so we unpacked and fell into bed.

Ocean City MD - this is my favorite place to write hands down. I couldn't wait to feel the sand between my toes. Or maybe I'd walk the seven blocks to the park and sit by the bay. I could even sit on our balcony and watch the kids frolic in the Atlantic while I read or rote. So many choices.

But first we had to get the shopping out of the way. And since we were already out we stopped to see the new library at 100th St. and Coastal Highway. The parking lot is large and we got a pass at the front desk to put on our windshield. It was good for 2 hours.

I was impressed with the building and the new computers. There's a 30 minute time limit on the computers so you may want to bring your laptop and take advantage of the free wifi. They have all the newest movies and music in addtion to the books and periodicals. Everyone was so pleasant and helpful. My husband and I both got library cards.

Then it was off to Food Lion and the Hallmark Store for a stack of magazines. I opted for the balcony and read for 2 hours. Geez my biggest problem now is where to go for dinner. I'll let you know what we decided.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

"How To Write Page-Turning Scenes"

The past few weeks have been jam-packed. What with my son and DIL moving, getting our beach property ready for rentals and the day job there’s been little time for “The Novel.”

Frustrated beyond belief I took a few vacation days. Camp Swampy will survive without me. If I got down to business I could still make the deadline on a contest I wanted to enter. I only needed to submit the first five pages and a synopsis. Easier said then done. I wanted those few pages to be page-turners.

Lucky for me I just happened to have a copy of Holly Lisle’s “How To Write Page-Turning Scenes.” I’ve been a fan of Holly’s books for some time. Then I discovered her website was an excellent source of material for aspiring writers. I subscribed to her newsletters and downloaded her free e-books. They were so helpful that I decided to buy her newest course “How To Write Page-Turning Scenes.”

I went through the entire course Tuesday and Wednesday. By Wednesday night I was stoked. The course lit a fire under me that burned into the wee hours. This morning I mailed off my contest entry.

I’m not big on doing exercises but I did every one in Holly’s book and they were fun and I learned a lot. The chapters on conflict were especially helpful. You don’t have to zip through the course like I did. Work at your own pace. I was on a mission.

Check it out for yourself:
How To Write Page-Turning Scenes

About that contest entry - keep your fingers crossed.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Lost in Munchkin Land

This morning I woke up feeling like one of the survivors on “Lost.” The past two days were spent watching the munchkins while their parents worked on the new house. Yesterday I had a 3 year old, a 2.5 year old and a 9 month old.

Nobody was interested in a nap but me. The majority won. We played Wizard of Oz, went for a walk, watched SpongeBob SquarePants, read books and blew lots and lots of bubbles. Needless to say there was no writing going on at Camp Swampy home base.

We had a blast but never did I feel more like a baby boomer. There’s a reason why a woman’s fertility starts going downhill after thirty.

Eventually the babies went home, the house was put back in order and I sat down at the computer at 7 PM. I skimmed through 116 emails and started playing with the demo version of a program I downloaded a few days ago.

"WriteItNow" by Ravenshead Services is a software program that will help you write and organize your novel. It’s user friendly with tabs at the top and a tree view on the left. The help is well documented and there are plenty of extras.

It comes with a short story that illustrates the various features. I chose to use a story idea of my own and start from scratch although I wasn’t able to save anything.

I started with the “Characters” and added a few descriptions. You can even generate new characters and names when you get stuck. There are tabs for Locations, Events, Ideas, Chapters, Notes, Charts and Submissions. "WriteItNow" has a thesaurus, spell checker, word count and exports your work in plain text, RTF or HTML. The full version contains more add-ons and allows you to save your work.

I previously wrote about yWriter which is free. At $49.95 for the download or $59.95 for the CD WriteItNow is a reasonably priced alternative if you want the extra features.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Beyond Farchadat

This morning I walked past the car like it wasn’t even there and my husband told me I was confused, distracted and dysfunctional – in Yiddish no less.

Could I be having a senior moment? I convinced myself it was just mental fatigue. The daily struggle to cram 24 hours of activity into 18 so I can get some sleep is taking a toll. I was led to believe these are my "Golden Years" and I’m feeling more like scrap metal. I'm aiming for a steel alloy, something known for superior strength and malleability.

I can't eliminate a thing from my hectic life. The day job stays . I like to eat, drive and have a roof over my head. I’m spoiled that way. It's 1 year, 4 months, 19 days, 18 hours, 7 minutes and 44 seconds until work release. Until then I'm committed to Camp Swampy.

Seems like I'm always trying to squeeze in more quality writing time. My short stories were written in MS Word. I started my novel in Word as well and ended up creating a new file for each chapter. It wasn’t long before it was one awkward mess and I started looking around for something better. There’s a lot of software out there geared for writers but most of it is $$$$ and bloated with useless features. I don’t need a Dictionary-Thesaurus, a Spell-checker or a Typing Tutor. There’s already a wealth of that on the internet.

Luckily I came across
yWriter when I entered a contest for one of Simon Haynes’ books. I didn’t win the book but I found out he writes great software and gives it away free. I downloaded a copy of yWriter and I’ve been using it ever since. Thank you Simon.

It organizes your book using a “Project, adds scenes, chapters, characters and settings, provides a word count, automatic back-ups and much more

And did I mention it’s free.

Spacejock Software