Tuesday, November 25, 2014
Okay, it’s that time of year – starting to think about what you can get your friends who write or who just spend a lot of time at a desk? I’m not going to beat around the bush with lots of filler and ‘words’ here, I’m going to use this blog to give you some ideas. I usually do this about once a year as we head into the holidays, and I cover some stuff that’s moderately expensive all the way down to free, so here goes.
Got some cash you can part with? TheVaridesk is fantastic. It’s adjustable so the user can stand or sit easily, and its simple and quick to adjust, a pair of handles on the side and raise or lower. I got one about a year ago and love it. Spend a lot more time standing and everything I hear points to that being the more healthy approach; a division between sitting and standing.
A new printer maybe? Just got the HPOfficeJet 8600 all in one myself. A Great machine for the money.
Scriptwriting software for that special someone a possibility? I personally use Movie Magic Screenwriter 6
If you’re kind of scraping the bottom of the barrel funds-wise yourself you can consider compiling a list of free apps and great websites that special person may not know about. For Example, there’s Adobe Story an online Scriptwriting App. The Writer can set up an account and away you go. I’ll mention other freebies along the way here.
There are always the old stand-bys like pens, high-lighters, pencils, staplers, anything for the desk top and blank books of various descriptions. You can find those blank books online or locally, sometimes very reasonably or very expensively, depending. I put out a blank journal for writers called Weighty Words A Quotable Writers and Artists Notebook. Slim and paperback = economical.
Amazon’s Kindles come in a variety of configurations and price range starting at $99 – link in and poke around
You can get Word and on the freebie side there’s Open Office It’s a totally free office suite. Mac or PC.
Or YWriter – free software for writers.
Then there are sites you can put on your ‘recommend’ list that are helpful for the Indie writer and self-publisher, a list you can compile with a bit of work and no $ outlay – here are just a few ideas:
J. A. Konrath – Newbie Guide To Publishing
The Passive Voice - A Lawyer's Thoughts on Authors, Self-Publishing and Traditional Publishing
Indies Unlimited – Site for Writing, Publishing and Marketing Books
Don’t forget the Adobe Screenwriting App mentioned above.
The Book Designer – Practical Advice to Help Self-Publishers Build Better Books
Jane Friedman – Helping Authors Flourish in the Digital Age
There are lots more out there, websites offering first line story-starters, naming sites of all types, resource sites and a whole lot more. Amazing what you can unearth by doing some searches.
Maybe you’d like some links to Ebooks you can gift. Not necessarily on writing – or maybe on writing:
M Pax’s Backworlds – Sci Fi - starts with The Backworlds free beginning of the series.
Also M Pax’s The Rifters - Sci Fi/Steampunk/Adventure - also free & beginning of another great series.
Or Lorna Suzuki’s Imago soon to be a motion picture and reasonably priced.
Romance? You could try a couple of mine:
Cloud Dancer – historic romance
Dark Side of Love – contemporary romance
Television Writing From the Inside Out by Larry Brody - this one’s on writing!
Need books, software and more for that favorite writer – you can visit Writer’s Emporium – an Amazon store
Whatever you do no doubt it’ll be appreciated whether you can afford a high ticket item or expend your own sweat to do some digging. Get in the spirit and give the gift with the personal touch – something you really thought about.
Wednesday, November 19, 2014
They're offering Books and Writing and News and Resources. Aerogramme also offers writing tips and even videos.
Writer? It's definitely worth exploring.
Reader? Hey you can see what helps, motivates, informs writers.
Tuesday, November 18, 2014
We all make ‘em and we’re all kind of weird about making them.
There isn’t a writers (or a person) in the world who doesn’t make mistakes at times. It’s who we are.
But, focusing on writers, what do we do about those mistakes? Some of us seem them as disasters, as the marks of amateurs as something to make you slink off and never think of writing again. The mistake can be minor or major, a silly one, a stupid one, or one caused by simple distraction.
Get over it.
Learn from your mistakes.
If someone finds it for you and points it out, be gracious, thank them and fix it! Hey, if they’re wrong (and it happens at times when an over eager reader points out mistakes that don’t exist) still be gracious and thank them for their input.
And stop the idiotic thoughts that rumble through your brain when you make a mistake right out there in public. Thoughts like:
Who am I kidding? How can I be a writer when I make a mistake like that?
Who am I to write about anything if I make mistakes like that?
It’s embarrassing, I look like an idiot.
OMG what will this do to my reputation as a writer?
Ummm, really? Throttle back on that negative stream. Mistakes happen. In fact there inevitable, no matter what you’re doing and even more so I think when writing. You’re changing and growing. Heck, even language is changing and growing. And you can get away with all kinds of free-wheeling when writing fiction. Non-fiction is a bit stricter, but what the heck.
So let’s step back from all the self-incrimination and realize the solution is simple. Fix it. Learn from it. Try not to make the same mistake twice…or if you do it twice, let’s not go for three times.
Tell that inner critic (and we all have one) to shut up. You are not stupid, or worthless, or misguided just because you make a mistake. If you were a brain surgeon it could become a bigger issue, but you’re a writer. You’re not perfect. The world isn’t perfect. Yes, of course you have to master the language to be coherent and put together sentences that make sense, but give yourself a lot of leeway. Pros make mistakes and so do you. Pros find out about it, fix it and move on. So should you, now and when you become a for real Pro because you’ll still make mistakes.
Think about other professions. There are interns and apprentices, practically every career path requires a learning curve and then life-long learning. It’s because we writers spend so much time in our heads that we talk ourselves into believing we need to be perfect.
The truth is we need to make mistakes. That’s how we learn and improve. Don’t be afraid of making them because that fear will hold you back. Besides if you don't make 'em your editor will - amazing the mistakes we can catch in a book already published by a major house.
That inner critic that lurks at the back of your mind, the one who wants to edit your writing even before it hits the blank screen, the one who obsesses over every little detail, that little snot can be what fans the flames of your insecurities, build the fires beneath your introverted writing life. Not only does that little voice criticize almost everything you do, but it wants you to feel like an idiot, a fool before the world.
So I say to you writers out there. Take risks, make mistakes, be creative. Your writing will thrive and you’ll beat back the dark voice of your insecurities for the path you’ve chosen.
Write, writers – and drop a note below in the comments to tell us about the mistakes and inner critic you’ve overcome.
Wednesday, November 12, 2014
Dean Wesley Smith is another writer - and he gives tips and access to great info at his website in addition to offering workshops. He runs a fun blog and offers a monthly magazine (you can subscribe to digitally or in print) in addition to updates on his own fictional offerings.
Generally a great site to kick around in for both readers and writers. Go on - check it out, you know you want to.
Tuesday, November 11, 2014
Writing is an interesting profession – you create people from scratch. Sort of build them from the ground up, or top down, whichever way you want to look at it. It’s fun, it’s easy, and it’s hard as hell.
In that quest to make characters real, unusual and fascinating to the reader writers look to imparting something special to that character. Something like a unique skill or an unusual talent, some ability that will set hero or heroine apart from the every day, and yet at the same time, keep that character identifiable, relatable. It could be as simple as being a chess master and using that talent in other ways or as high-profile as being a well-known newscaster, writer
or movie star.
But it’s a fine line between giving that hero or heroine some special ability and going way over the top to the point where the audience (novel reader or film goer) disconnects. That can happen when the writer doesn’t match the personality of a character and that character’s past experiences and life lessons with the particular skill or unusual talent he or she’s been given. It becomes like a tag on instead of an integral part of the character.
Think about it. Some things are imparted simply by birth and who the parents are. A prodigy, perhaps with math, perhaps playing a piano, or something else, has received that particular gift through birth. On the other hand being a computer geek or maybe a martial arts master or a jewelry maker are all skills that are learned.
This gives the writer a wide range of possibilities – but also just as wide a range of things that won’t work well. A character who’s never had training or so much as seen a martial arts movie can’t suddenly become Jett Lei.
But, the fun of all this is choosing a talent or skill that fits with the character and the story. The kid raised on a farm working with farm machinery who can fix anything who, as an adult working in the city as an investor calls on those past skills to get a bus running before the train hits it. The chess master, so skilled at anticipating moves thwarts a terrorist attack by being one step ahead. The computer geek so geeky he figures out computer code from beyond the planet is actually a countdown to invasion and he figures it out before anyone else. The magician who commits the perfect crime via his prestidigitation.
The creativity behind these kinds of things is wonderfully exhilarating. Let yourself go and explore different possibilities. When you find something that strikes a chord unleash your muse, embrace the creative, go back and change other elements in the story to make sure it all fits and the special talent you’ve discovered for your character fits with the rest of your story.
There are few things more fun!
Comment below and let others know the kinds of ideas you’ve come up with and how it all came together.