A different view of the same landscape

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A random page from my book.

The weather is so much better than yesterday, when it was well over 100 degrees. Today, I’m going to take my laptop and sit outside and enjoy the breeze and the relatively mild temperatures. I have five scenes to write and I’ll be finished with Trust Me. I jumped the gun a little and went ahead and compiled my manuscript in Scrivener, then transferred it to my Kindle so I could see how it looked.

Somehow, seeing the same words I’ve reread a thousand times in a different format is even more inspiring. Last night, I read through a few chapters just to see how it flowed and had several moments where I thought, “You know, this doesn’t suck.” Progress!1950 SF Chinatown edited  4324


Edited to add:  After I hit publish, I realized that the entry for this post on the main page shows an old photo of San Francisco that I had intended to use, but then scrapped. But the title still fits, so here is the full-sized version. It’s from the early 1950s, I believe, and is from the box of old photos I found in my attic recently. I’ve always thought that color photographs from the 1950s looked so optimistic. Enjoy!

Naming these people

I keep notes on possible future story ideas, as I’m sure most writers do. It’s a good way to keep the story idea from haunting me and distracting me from the current WIP that I’m trying to complete. I recently reviewed that folder and found a troubling trend – names that all start with the letter A. Abby, Annie, Amanda. And then there’s Cara and Lara – two completely different characters in different books, but I just realized their names are way too similar.

Fortunately, I caught the A names early and am trying out different names for these characters. Here is where Scrivener’s name generator comes in handy. So does the project replace command (though it makes me nervous to hit that key).

I started with Annie, whose story I am only just starting to learn. I know that she’s about 30, that she is smart, and she worked hard to put herself through a state university to earn her degree in finance — the first in her family to go to college. Her parents had her young, then split up, and then they split – leaving her in the care of her paternal grandparents. Her only living relative now is her Aunt Marie, who owns a bakery.

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Or Reinhard Hoover. That sounds like a hero.

To find a new name, I started with her parents. They were teenagers, so they’re probably more likely to pick an untraditional name than more mature parents. I settled on Summer. I’d already picked out a last name — Vaughn. So, Summer Vaughn.

I turned next to the hero — a law enforcement officer who investigated Summer for a financial fraud and now has to work with her to unravel a conspiracy. I don’t know much about him yet, so it’s hard to pick a name. But I can’t keep calling him GUY in my outline and notes, so I have a few ideas for at least placeholder names. Here’s the list I pulled from the Scrivener name generator:

Ian Daly, Spencer Mill, John Winter, Drew Somner, Jeremy Race, Caleb Winter, Jack Barnes, Kyle Bailey, Max McCullough, Adam Kittredge, Paul Sloane, Adrian Stone, Eli Layton, Shane Holmes, Lucas Pierce, Finn Carter, Zane Lawrence.

We can rule out Zane. I never quite perfected my touch-typing techniques and having to repeatedly use a capital Z will cause me no end of typos and frustration. Caleb, well — there’s some history with that name. I would prefer a short name since I’ll be typing it a lot. I’m leaning toward Ian, Eli or Jack.

It’s not a decision I have to make right now, since I don’t know when I’ll get to turn this idea into an actual WIP. But the guy’s got to have a name, right? How else do you get to know someone?

One Goal Accomplished!

Scrivener is the best!

   So, this happened last night. I got up in the middle of the night, unable to sleep because it was too hot, the cat was patting my head, and I had a glimmer of an idea about how to resolve the plot problem I’ve been stuck on.
   What else are you going to do between 1:30 and 3 a.m.? I started writing and around 2:15 a.m., I passed my initial word-count goal of 65,000.
   I am not done with the story yet. But I’m close. So very close. Another couple sleepless nights and I should be able to write those two elusive words: 
    The End.

Sharing the Scrivener Love

    Two of my favorite writing tools — Scrivener and writing podcasts — came together in the podcast this week by The Shared Desk. Fun!
    Tee Morris and Philippa Ballantine discussed their favorite writing software, Scrivener. That’s my favorite writing software, too! I completely agreed with all the reasons they gave for their devotion to Scrivener — the organization tools, the corkboard feature, the ability to import web pages and photos and other research into your binder, and all the many ways to customize the tool to suit your own needs. But my two favorite features didn’t get mentioned — not that I blame them. There are so many features, how could you talk about all of them?

    First, I love the name generator. You can pick a gender, click on the types of names (German? Catalan? Hindi? Polish? Popular London Surnames?), and then dial up the obscurity level. Viola! Your heroine will be Innocenta Rathmell. Hmm, maybe too far on the obscurity level.

Or Pasqualina Riddle. She sounds feisty

    But my favorite Scrivener feature is the Project Target tool. You can set your goals for the manuscript and it shows you how close you are to your goal. But that’s not all! You can also set a goal for each time you sit down to write. Mine is set to 1,000 words/day. When I hit my daily goal, I get a Growl notification. Yay! 

    And now that I’ve revealed that my wordcount for today is a big fat zero, I think I’ll see if I still have the energy to write a few hundred words toward my goal.
    PS — If you’re not listening to The Shared Desk, you should be. Published professional writers discussing craft, business, and much more. Entertaining and educational! What more could you want?

Back to Work

Isleton, the town that never sleeps. Until it’s dark.

     A long, relaxing weekend here. I finally slept enough to shake this damn cold and I’m feeling healthy again. Just in time to go back to work.
     As for writing progress, well, I did get another 1,000 words today. On Friday, I worked on the story’s structure, moving some scenes around and writing some notes for new scenes. This is one of the things that Scrivener excels at – letting the writer move scenes or chapters around.
     This week’s goal is to write every day on the big WIP, even if it’s just a few words. Unfortunately, my work calendar is packed. But what the hell. I’m up for a challenge.

How to Cultivate an Attention Span

    I seem to be lacking in that thing that lets you sit down and finish a project. What’s it called? Starts with a W? Will-something? Will-promise-to-get-back-to-work-right-after-I-check-Twitter? Yeah, that’s close enough.
    Anyway. I’m always on the lookout for ways to fortify my concentration. I have found two things that are helping.
    First, Vitamin R. This program does have the willpower I lack. Set a timer, shut down the programs that distract me, and just write until the Vitamin R notification pops up in the corner of the screen. I like that it allows me to track how productive I am during the time slice and whether I felt focused or distracted. I use this on my Mac and I’m not sure if it’s available for PCs, but I’d bet there’s a similar program out there for PC users.
    Second, High Focus. I listen to this while writing (also, while working) and I seem to get more done. I have no idea if this is due to the 40hz brainwave frequency that’s playing in my ears. It could be just having the white noise block out distractions helps me focus. Or it could be that when my co-workers and my husband see me wearing headphones, they don’t interrupt me as much. But it works and was totally worth the $10 I spent at iTunes. (Also, I’d like to note that I heard of this through this entry at Jennifer Crusie’s blog, which can also be found at Lucy March’s blog.)
    And with those two tools at the ready, I’m off to add another 2,500 words to my weekly word-count total.    

Scrivener and the Art of Organization

    I use Scrivener to write. I use it because I LOOOOOVE it and every so often, even after using it since Summer 2010, I will learn something that causes me to exclaim, “oh my GOD, that’s so cool.” Like this morning, when I learned that you can easily see thesaurus alternatives by hovering over the word and hitting Control-Command-D. A little bubble pops up and gives alternative words.
    I learned that little trick by reading David Hewson’s book Writing a Novel Using Scrivener. It was so worth the $5.99. I will say that the book is much easier to read on a computer, using the Kindle program for Mac (or PC, if that’s your preference), than on the handheld Kindle device because of the many screen shots. That might have something to do with the fact that I have a 2nd generation Kindle and the latest version, I hear, has better contrast.
    Scrivener works for me because I can adapt it so that it fits my writing style. I’m not quite a plotter — my outlines are rough descriptions of scenes, some of which are out of order, and they only go about 3/4 of the way through the novel. But I’m not a pantser because I do like having a map, however sketchy, to guide me through the writing process.
    I set up my Scrivener projects so I have a folder called “Storyboard” that contains the scenes I expect to write. This is my outline. I can move the scenes around, especially in the index card mode, as things change. Then I have a folder for the actual manuscript, which contains a folder for each chapter. As I write a scene, it goes into chapter folder. I also have folders for character sheets and research, such as photos and articles. I like having all my notes, outline, research, and current draft in one place. It makes me feel organized, trust me, I very rarely feel organized.
    Anyway, my tips for today:
1)  Give Scrivener a try. It’s cheap and fun and who doesn’t like cheap and fun? Remember college? (No, I don’t mean you were cheap and fun. You were just popular.) It’s easy to get distracted with the many software options out there, and you don’t want to waste time learning yet another new writing program that isn’t going to write your book for you. But this one inspires me to write, the way a trip to the office supply warehouses does. (I am a sucker for office supplies. Your pens are not safe near me.)
2)  If you do try Scrivener, check out David Hewson’s book. He’s a working writer who uses the program to write his novels and shares what works for him. But what’s so great about Scrivener is that even if Hewson’s method doesn’t work for you, you’re not stuck with it. There are a billion (give or take) ways to change the program to suit your style.