Scrivener

Scrivener

Scrivener LogoI use Scrivener for all my writing.

My first experience with Scrivener was back in 2012, when I was getting ready to NaNoWriMo my first novel, Sudden Mission. I had recently moved from Windows to Mac and needed a solid writing tool. I didn’t want to spend the cash to get Microsoft Office for the Mac and I did just retire from more than 20 years of supporting, teaching, and hating MS Word. Yes, I hate MS Word. Sorry.

I digress. So, I’ll digress a bit more.

You see, I started playing around with word processors back in the early 1980’s. I had access at the time to a KayPro CP/M machine and learned to use Perfect Writer and WordStar. When I got my KayPro, I became an expert on WordStar, using the WordStar codes, and hacking the application to make it perform better. Back then, there were no spelling or grammar checkers, until some creative types figured out how to add those tools to  WordStar.

WordStar

That was just about the time I moved to a DOS-based Personal Computer (PC). WordStar tried to hang on but the company died. Then, WordPerfect showed up. A company out of Utah created it and it was a very decent word processor. Add-on grammar and spelling checkers started to show up in droves. I messed with a bunch of them and learned a lot in the process.

Then Microsoft created Word. By this point, many places had invested a lot of time and money into WordPerfect and scripting processes in that application. Legal shops led the charge here. I learned to script in WordPefect and created some pretty impressive tools this way. But, Microsoft owned the operating system (DOS at the time). Keep in mind that at this time, a hard drive was not a standard item on PCs. Most PCs in offices were dual floppy disk. So, you booted your PC and ran your programs with the disk in the A: drive, and saved you work on the B: drive floppy. WordPerfect did this for a couple of years when Word showed up. I rarely had to support anyone who lost all their work using WordPerfect. When Word showed up, disasters happened. Word would, arbitrarily hang or quit in the middle of a session. All the work to that point would be gone. Even, in some early versions and when someone saved often (that was like a six-keystroke operation then), the save file on the B: floppy would disappear. Microsoft did nothing about this issue until after about version 4.0.

Word

Somehow, Word began to dominate business word processing. Not because it was the best. WordPerfect was a better, more capable word processor. Then Windows showed up. Now, Microsoft owned Windows and Office. So, they made sure that all the support routines for Office products loaded into memory in Windows, so it seemed that Word and its fellow programs ran faster. But, Windows was slower because of it. Without office, Windows ran great and WordPerfect ran great. There were still times when Word would die in the middle of your work and your file would go away and that was a risk until Windows 95 and WordPerfect was seeing its last days.

We got networked and WordPerfect got sold to a couple different companies and then died out. So, now we have MS Office with Word as the sole word processor. Others tried to take the thunder, but failed. I converted most of my training and scripting processes to Word and that worked until a new version of Word came out and I had to change everything again. Nothing in Word ever seemed to stay put. In one version, Microsoft had the mail merge function flawless. In the next, it was a complete disaster. Things got moved around and much of the update training I did focused on showing users where Microsoft hid their favorite functions.

And, it never got better. For me, anyway.

Move to Mac

When I moved to the Mac after I retired, things changed for me. I used Pages. Gosh, is a very nice little word processor. A lot like the old Word Perfect, but with more page layout capability. I use Pages for letters and short documents. But, getting a large, complex document done in Pages wasn’t really practical. So, I went looking.

Scrivener was the best $50 I ever spent. I can import old projects into it and (with a little preparation) it will break it into chapters, scenes, and have it ready for work. For a new project, it makes me structure it and work in scenes. I really like this. When I want to work on a specific part of a project, I just go to that part. The work on that part does not affect the rest of the project. I can move things around. And best of all, I can compile the resulting project into a Word document or a PDF, or compile for upload to Kindle, Kobo, Nook, or print on demand. Compiling, especially for e-book or print publication, is probably the most complex part of using Scrivener. I spent days on Sudden Mission and Nasty Leftovers getting things just right.

Editing and Revisions

After you complete the first draft, Scrivener helps with spelling and grammar, if you want. But I find Scrivener makes the revision and editing process better because you don’t have to wade through the entire document to find a certain scene. You select the scene you want to work in and go for it. If you use the synopsis feature, you can quickly find a scene by checking the brief description in the synopsis.

Novel templates for Scrivener have reformatted scene and character sketch templates you can use. I find the character sketches are handy when I need to check my notes on a character to make sure he/she is behaving consistent to my description. The novel templates also automatically set up the front matter, cover and other folders so all you need to do is enter the information.

Other templates pre-format for short story/fiction, or even academic research papers. I wish I had Scrivener when I was in college.

So, now I use Scrivener for just about all my writing, except maybe a letter or something like that. It was well worth the time to learn and well worth the price. If you are serious about writing, you should check it out.

Keep writing.

 

Winner

Winner!

nanowrimo_2016_webbadge_winner

Winner!

Today I passed the 50,000 word mark and am now an official NaNoWriMo 2016 winner! My word count for November 29 is 1,816. My daily average was 1,751. The total word count uploaded for the win today: 50,793.

The first draft is not finished, though. There are a couple of chapters yet to write as there is still one more problem/conflict to manage.

My personal goal for this project was about 60,000 words. I suspect I’ll meet that–or, be close–in the next few days. I’ll finish this draft soon, as this last bit will not need tons of writing.

I even have an epilogue.

This process was fun. There were days where it was difficult to get any words written, but I kept at it. That’s where the value of NaNoWriMo is. It gives me a structure, a deadline, to work in. I have daily goals to meet. I get support from friends on Twitter and Facebook.

Best of all, I get a first draft at the end.

Believe me, this is a very rough first draft. I’ve already gone back over several chapters and rewritten or added some material. You’re not supposed to do that in NaNoWriMo, but I did. You’re supposed to just keep charging ahead. I did keep charging ahead, but I found I kept forgetting something and had to go back and add it. Or, maybe I thought of something new and different for a particular place.

In any case, it all worked and I’m a day ahead of the 30-day schedule. I’m a winner. I don’t get anything for it other than improved self-esteem, congratulations from friends, and that all-important first draft.

Soon, the rest of the work begins. Editing, revision, rewriting. I want to get this ready for a good editor to look at. I think it’s a good story and I’ve learned a lot in the three NaNoWriMos I’ve participated in. A good editor will help make it a better read and a stronger story.

I hope you followed along this month. If you didn’t take part in NaNoWriMo, think about doing it next year. If you’ve wanted to write something, or you’ve been struggling to write something, this is a great way to get the first draft done.

I’ll be posting more information on the progress of this project as it moves through the process to publication. Thanks for your support and encouragement, those of you on Twitter and Facebook.

Keep writing.

 

 

Nasty Leftovers

Nasty Leftovers

The sequel to Sudden Mission, Nasty Leftovers, is “edit complete.” It is off to the proofreader and on its way to publication. The planned release date is later in March. I will post the firm date when we get it.

Nasty Leftovers is no longer a working title, so we’re going with it. The story follows Paul Shannon and Amy Grossman as they go Ina mission to clean up Washington, D.C. It gets a bit grittier than Sudden Mission, and Paul and Amy face new and dangerous challenges.

Here is a short excerpt:

“This demon, the one you called your master here, had a very tight hold on you,” Paul said. “We need to know the name of this demon.”

“I guessed you would be back to ask that.”

“So, do you remember the name?” Amy asked.

“Yes,” William said. “Do you really understand what you ask? That name, that is just the beginning.”

“Yes,” Paul said, “we’re prepared.”

“I very much doubt it. He rules here. He has hellhounds, and imps, and he plans to use those hounds to drag you two to hell.”

“Kicking and screaming, I’m sure,” Paul said, smiling at Amy.

“Don’t get cute, Paul,” William pointed his finger at Paul’s chest. “This is serious. Once you and Amy are in hell, my master will possess more and expand his rule on Earth. He plans to earn great favor from Satan for taking you two.”

Things get intense. Nasty Leftovers is part dystopian SF&F, action/adventure, thriller, and spiritual warfare. Of course, there is a strong Christian theme throughout. It is categorized as young adult, but is suitable for most younger readers. The language is clean, but parents may want to preview the content for some younger readers.

If you read Sudden Mission, Nasty Leftovers should flow seamlessly. If you haven’t, Nasty Leftovers stands alone with references to Sudden Mission that provide clarity without giving too much away.

The world–or possible future–I created in Sudden Mission continues to play out in Nasty Leftovers. Thing are getting worse and the prognosis is that it will continue to get worse before it gets better.

In the third installment, which is in the planning stages, the infrastructure finally collapses. The government is still struggling to restore some semblance of order in the Capitol, but its influence doesn’t reach beyond the Beltway. Even the gangs and bandit bands are dwindling as the resources in and around larger cities are used up. Paul and Amy are blessed to be part of a robust, cooperative, Christian community.

That is, until a visitor arrives with horrible news. And, aliens return.

I’m having entirely too much fun.

Keep writing.

 

Revisions

Revisions

My editor, Brandi, and I are most of the way through the edits and revisions of my draft of Nasty Leftovers (sequel to Sudden Mission).  The working title seems to have stuck and the team hasn’t come up with another title. Oh, well.

So we are on track and may even be ahead a little. I’m thankful for my editor. She has a unique view on my work and brings the hard edge of critique to her edits and suggestions. In all cases, her work has made my work sharper, cleaner, more exciting, and stronger.

We’re in the second novel working together and she now will often just provide a comment at a point in the manuscript where she thinks we should do something different, add a character, add some emotional language. Then she turns me loose to make the changes or additions as I see fit and we smooth things out from there.

I hope and pray that I get to keep Brandi for the third volume, and any other projects I submit to Booktrope and Vox Dei.

As I dreamed of being a published author all those years before, I had no idea what it would be like to work with an editor. During the early revisions of Sudden Mission, I was almost terrified what the editor would think of my approach to some of the changes she suggested. I discovered that an editor is the most important person for an author in a writing project. Sudden Mission became a stronger, more powerful story thanks to her efforts.

Now, when I bring revisions and rewrites to Brandi, I make an effort to use the Oxford Comma, allow my characters to feel and express more, and shake off some of my old lazy-writer habits. I think she makes me a better writer. That’s a good thing.

If you are an aspiring author–still unpublished–this is a relationship to look forward to. You do have to kick your ego to the side and let the editor bring his or her ideas forward. You will be glad you did.

Keep writing.

P.S. I’m still undisciplined and a procrastinator. But, I’m working on that.

 

2016

2016

It is a new year. With it comes new challenges, new opportunities, and new adventures.

Christmas Harley

Happy New Year, 2016!

For me, this year will see the publication of the second novel in the Sudden Mission chronicles of Paul and Amy. I’m really looking forward to getting Nasty Leftovers out to readers. Stay tuned and be prepared for a late March launch from Vox Dei Publishing.

I’m still working on the third novel. So far, it’s an exciting and educational adventure to write. I plan to write it from Amy’s point of view. She’s turned into a powerful young woman and is going to turn things on their head.

I’m planning some library visits, readings, and talks, as well as some other reading/signing events in coffee shops and bookstores. Keep checking back for updates in the Events page. If something is happening in your neighborhood, please come by. Get a book signed, visit, ask questions. You might be surprised at where I’ll show up!

I plan to fill this year with writing, editing, rewriting, more editing, revisions, proofreading–and some motorcycle riding. I look forward to it. I hope you join me on the journey when you can.

Keep writing.