Writer’s Toolbox

October 21st, 2018

The Search for the Perfect Writing Tools

Writers need the right tools for their work, and boy do I have opinions on this. With respect to software, my opinion is that the people developing these tools spoke to anywhere from zero to one actual writer. In fact, I think they developed whatever their programming environment made possible and then justified that result to writers. Which means the tools in general lack the flexibility required when actual people use those tools.

Until about a year ago, I wrote in WordPerfect. I run a Windows virtual machine on my desktop and laptop so I can continue to use a tool that actually IS pretty darn flexible and doesn’t impose the Microsoft “YOU WILL WRITE THIS WAY BECAUSE” paradigm. Oh, and formatting. The formatting is so awful. Anyway I have been increasingly annoyed and irritated by the VM I use. (Parallels).

Parallels mostly works but when something goes wrong or when you need to contact the company for any reason the experience is dreadful and I have been searching for a WordPerfect alternative because in my perfect world, I never have to give the Parallels company another dime of my money. If anyone from Parallels reads this; I hate your company and I hate your broken, opaque website and I hate that you hate your customers.

For years I have  been looking for a tool that would allow me to write in MacOS. Because I’m telling you Word ain’t it. I have to have MS Office in order to be compatible with the rest of the world, but I really really really hate Word. That said . . . The MS office suite tools that allow you to open and edit documents on any iOS device are wonderful. Editors, copy-editors, and proofreaders tend to work in Word, so this ability is a must have for me, and in this case, MS nailed it.

This tool works. So, for every purpose except writing fiction, thumbs up to Office 365 and its MacOS/iOS tools.

I did try Scrivener. I really did but its not a tool that works for the way I write. I envy all the people who love this tool and haven’t had to fight their natural writing process to use it. I just can’t

I tried a bunch of other tools; Open Office and Pages were total fails. I tried several apps that proclaimed they were great for writers and none of them were, and most did not mean “great for people writing fiction of 100,000 words.”

Ulysses is the only tool I’ve found where I started a writing project and was able to complete it in that tool instead of moving it to WordPerfect.  I wasn’t wasting hours trying to do simple things like work with individual chapters sometimes or with the entire document other times, oh, and being able to assemble and reorder chapters. I didn’t have to fight to have an environment that was pleasing to my eyes and it exports to a docx format (and several others) without forcing me to spend much or any time reformatting. It’s good enough to send to editors etc.

I wrote an entire novella in the tool and it was fairly seamless. I’ve written Bound in Smoke in Ulysses, and that book is just about done. I haven’t used WordPerfect in ages. I have a few things I wish it would do but nothing that keeps me from writing and getting the output I need.

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Book Covers and Projects

October 14th, 2018

Some of you may know that starting November 1, I will be President-Elect of Romance Writers of America (RWA). The following year, I will take over as President. I did not make the decision to run lightly and now that the election results are in, I will have a lot of additional responsibilities. I’m really looking forward to the next two years, though. There’s a lot of great things ahead!


Book Covers for the Street Witch Series

I have selected the models for the first three covers and all three were available. The shoot will take place in the next two weeks and I’m really getting excited about this! More news when it’s available.

The Street Witch Series – Book 1

The title of the first three books are 98% sure to be:

  • Bound in Smoke
  • Born in Fire
  • Risen from Ash

I am in the final stages of finishing Bound in Smoke prior to sending it out for first round editing. I think it’s unlikely I will have this book out before the end of the year. All the passes of editing, revision, re-editing, copy-editing, and proofreading take time.

Once that is out for editing, though, I will be writing a historical novella titled Miss Fiona Harper’s Night of Passion. I already have a cover for this book. I am hoping the novella will take about 6-8 weeks to write. I expect this story to be on the shorter side. It will be a way to have something new out while I get the Street Witch series prepped for launch. After that, I will see where my writing time is given my RWA duties and adjust accordingly.

In the meantime, I will probably put by Christmas novellas on sale, so watch for that! I’ll post everywhere when that happens!

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Miscellaneous Information You Should Know

October 6th, 2018

Consider this a miscellaneous information announcement post where I cover social media, book covers, my writing schedule, and the next two years or so.

Facebook

Facebook has never been my favorite social media, and they have been making it more and more difficult for authors to actually connect with readers without laying down cash. I get that. It’s their right, but I do think there’s a calculation to be made about platforms where you can’t reach people who are actual fans without a significant outlay.

I do post there regularly, so by all means follow me on facebook. But if you actually want to see my posts there, I don’t have any great advice for how to make happen, other than making sure you like, follow, and tell facebook you’d like my posts in your feed. You can find me at CarolynJewelAuthor

I also have a reader group, The Jewelies Group of Awesome. This is a closed group for fans. To join, you have to request membership.

Sadly, I think facebook is no longer a vibrant place for authors to connect with readers. For now, I will continue to be present there.

Twitter

I’m on Twitter a fair amount, but beware, I am highly political there. Shrug. But there is writing news there from time to time. @cjewel

Follow Me On Amazon

Follow me on Amazon if you really only want to know when I have a new book.

Join my Reader Email Group

I am always looking to improve my ability to engage and reach readers who enjoy my books.  Sign up to get emails about what’s up, new books, content for members only etc. There’s a sign up form over there to the right, if you’re reading this at my website. If not, here is a link: Join My Reader Email Group

RWA – Romance Writers of America

I have been on the National Board since 2014 as a Director at Large. This year I ran for President-Elect and won. This means that for 2018-2020, I will be President-Elect and then President of RWA. This also means I will be very busy and that I will likely have only one book out for each of those two years.

This was not a decision I made lightly.  My mother’s recent passing meant that a significant portion of my time and even my own health was recovered. I realize that is a very passive statement, but she was very ill and needed a tremendous amount of care. I took several months afterward to be sure I was making the right decision about running for the position. I care deeply about the issues the organization is facing right now, and so, here I am. I am honored to have been elected to the position and am looking forward to the next two years.

I do have some ideas about writing shorter content while I am also working on the Street Witch series, so stay tuned for that.


Book Covers

I am upping the ante on the covers for my new Street Witch series and I am really really excited about that. Members of my Facebook reader group and email list subscribers will get the first look at the covers, as well as extended excerpts. The links are up there.


The first book in the series, Bound in Smoke, is essentially done. I’m polishing right now before it goes out for the first round of editing.

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Did You Ever?

September 30th, 2018

Need to do one simple thing on your computer and end up spending all day doing computer updates and installs?

And then get almost nothing actually done, including that one simple thing? Because that’s me today.

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Street Witch Series and Other Progress

September 15th, 2018

Yesterday, I hit 76,000 on The Next Paranormal. I’m up to Chapter 29 of 39 in revisions. Basically, the story is done and now it’s polishing, bringing out theme, and going through my Action Items list. I expect some of the remaining chapters to be folded in to others, and, per usual for me, I will write the final chapter at the very last. The fork is not out yet, but I am targeting the end of this month for that.

I have engaged a new-for-me cover artist and committed to three covers in the series. I was really happy with the previous cover design company I was using, but I had such a terrible time with the last cover that I decided it was time to use someone new. Those of you in my “Secret” facebook group went through part of the design process for that cover and are acquainted with some of my issues with the quality of the work that was done. And so, I am seriously upping the ante on covers.

Spinoff Series and Titles

My original plan with The Next Paranormal was that it would be a new lead-in to the My Immortals series, but after thinking about that for a long time, I decided a spinoff series was a wiser, more productive, and less frustrating-for-me idea. The first two Immortals books are simply unlikely to revert to me until 2021 and as I worked on the current book, I became more and more convinced a new series would be easier and more fun for me.

Anyway, I am 99% committed to Street Witch as a series name, and titles related to fire for the first three books. This should be amusing for those of you who recall the fiasco of settling on a title for the first book in the My Immortals series. Members of my reader group (The Jewelies Group of Awesome) have been offering some great ideas for titles. If you’re interested in joining the group, go here, answer a couple of questions and ask to join.

Meanwhile, the 80% sure title for the first book is Fire Bound but that’s not for sure yet because it’s possible the title should have something to do with smoke. Anyway, this is also typical for me. Sometimes I come up with a title from the start (The Spare and Lord Ruin are two examples) and sometimes I don’t have a title until much later. (A Darker Crimson, which was actually my editor’s suggestion, for example.)

Slightly Writing-Related News

My webhost of many many years handled an issue so badly that I ended up moving almost all my sites with them to a new host. All in all, the move went pretty well, and now that things have been on the new host for a while, I’m ready to tell the old host goodbye. There was a period toward the end of August where my site was misconfigured and my email was bouncing.  So, if anyone sent me an email in August and I didn’t reply it’s because I never got your email and worse, there’s no recovery for that.

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Laborious

September 3rd, 2018

Here in the US, it’s Labor Day, a day when most workers have a day off from their daily paid labors.

Solidarity, workers of the world.

I’m kicking back and . . . working today.  At the writing job. The Next Paranormal is now over 70,000 words and I’m up to chapter 24 in the edit/fix/revise/sob stage of the writing process. Also, later I’m getting a massage to help get the knots out of my shoulders.

I really need to settle on a title so I can get the cover in progress.

In the meantime, here is a pretty picture I took a while back.

A fairly close up picture of a green succulent that is probably agave but I don't really know. The leaves are kind of like an artichoke that's open, but not spiny.
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Customer Service – A Rant

August 26th, 2018

If you’re reading this, congratulations to us all because it means my move to a new webhost was successful.  I’d been with my previous webhost for over ten years and they were really stellar. If there was a problem it got fixed quickly and courteously. I feel it’s not unrelated, given the story I’m about to tell you, that the person who handled most of the issues I had was a woman who recently left that company.

I was surprised when the security certificate on my site didn’t/couldn’t renew. I contacted my host about why it hadn’t renewed and the response was “You don’t need a cert because you don’t sell anything on your website.”

Notice that this does not respond in any way to my request. Note as well that the customer service rep is wrong. Deeply wrong, in fact.

For the last two years at least Google has been downranking websites that don’t run on SSL (That is, has a security certificate and is https:// rather than http://) and by now users are seeing warnings when they land on a site that isn’t running on SSL. Not to mention an expired cert will cause all kinds of problems for a website.

This is an experience women have all the time. They get worse customer service and more roadblocks in the way of that service. I opened a ticket about why an existing cert hadn’t renewed and the answer to me, someone with an obviously female name, was to question my need for a service I was using. At every step, in fact, my issues were not taken seriously.

On top of this add that these tech support people did not understand certs and how their backend requires they be set up for the customer, and the problem is even worse.

What’s in a Name? Customer Service

The short version of this tale is that I spent from the 14th to 20th explaining over and over what they needed to do and telling them that their changes actually made things worse and had ended up breaking my email. There  was a string of responses over those days that were all basically, we fixed this, please reply to the cert email we are sending you, an email  I was not getting (if they were actually sending it which I doubt because they were doing it wrong) because they broke my email. And if was wasn’t that, it was, please send us the error messages and tell us exactly what the problem is and I kept saying, OK, but look at in the thread of this ticket where I already did that, but here it is AGAIN.

Carolyn Not Charles

It was worse than that, way worse. And I’m just going to say that if my name was Charles Jewel my cert would have been renewed on the first day and I would still be their customer.


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Miscellaneous Updates

August 12th, 2018

It’s been a while since my last post, I’ve been busy and a bit frazzled. The RWA national conference was the third week in July and since I’m currently on the board I was in Denver for 9 days. Conference was great, busy, and inspiring.

I’ve been writing, of course, and thinking about projects and the order I’ll write them in.

The Current Project

As you may or may not know I am working on a book set in the My Immortals world. My original plan was to write two new books introducing the series so that I could properly market the books and the series. I thought about that long and hard and decided I would rather start a whole new series set in that world. Those first two books should revert to me in 2021 at which time I can market that series without being severely handicapped.

What I’ve decided to do is center this new  series around the street witches  who play such a crucial role in the My Immortals world. What I need now is a boffo series title and I only have terrible ideas. Fortunately, that’s a good start. I do need a new title for the book. I have terrible ideas about that, too.

The good news is the story is actually finished and at this point I’m going through and polishing and adding a lot of words. At the moment I’m staying right around 68,000 words because I delete the ones I don’t like and replace them with better ones.

Habits Old and New

I’m working on setting up new habits and ways of thinking about my writing and my approach to writing. I hadn’t realized while I was dealing with my mother ‘s health issues how many negative thoughts had wiggled their way into my head. I was feeling guilty about not writing fast enough or enough that all and that seems to have wormed its way into my head as a new pattern.

That’s one I’m going to get rid of. I need positive thoughts about my writing and I need not to guilt myself out for taking time to decompress, I need not to stare at my computer resenting that I’m writing s o o  s l o w l y when I’d  rather nap because I’m tired and stressed. The good news is I have caught up on my sleep and I’m not habitually tired and I’m no longer waking up in the middle of the night because I heard something and am worried about my mom.

And so I am laying down new habits of positive thinking. I am really excited about this new series, and it’s pretty exciting that I’m actually so close to done.

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New Cover for Scandal

July 28th, 2018

Have a look at the New Cover for Scandal

image of the new cover for Scandal - it's a hot Regency couple. The image is a paperback book that looks like it's standing up

New Cover for Scandal

I commissioned a new cover for Scandal because the previous cover, which I love to this day, was getting rejected for promotions because the guy was shirtless. ::sigh:: If you already purchased Scandal and want your copy to have the new cover, you should be able to follow the process for updating books at the vendor of your choice. I took the opportunity to update my booklist, but nothing else changed about the text so the only reason to update is the new cover, and a more recent list of my titles in the back.

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Greetings From Denver

July 15th, 2018

Hello! I’m in Denver, Colorado for the Romance Writers of America Conference! Facebook is giving me fits about trying to log in so this is me also waving to facebook folks!

Today was the first day of the Board meeting. We got a lot done and that’s about all I can say at the moment. We meet again tomorrow so I’m heading to bed pretty soon. I hope everyone is having a great week.

I arrived Saturday. It was 97F and I did not go outside. Today, it rained. I also did not go outside. I do not expect to go outside tomorrow either, but I guess you never know.

Stay cool, and if you’re in Denver and you see me, say hi!

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