January 2018 Archives

Let's Get Help

chicken-1647390_1280.pngMost writers don't start out thinking they're going to need technical skills beyond maybe a word processor and email, but in this world of social media and digital submissions, writers either need to learn technical skills or get help.

I'm of a technical mindset and have more technical skills than many writers of my generation, but still I get help. My husband and my daughter have both helped me with website and computer issues. A writer friend taught me how to use twitter and tweetdeck. Please don't be too chicken to ask for help yourself.

Here's some things I've found many writers don't know:

How to keep computer files organized. I've seen many writers with every file saved on the desktop or in the first level of documents and they have trouble finding what they are looking for. I've showed them folders and how you can put folders within folders. Normally each of my projects has its own folder. Here's how I helped another writer with this issue in this post. It includes some tips on naming documents, too.

How to back up files. When their computer hard drive dies, writers have lost all of their work. Even when you have a crash, you can lose hours of work on your wip. Don't let this be you. Find out how to preserve copies successfully. The latter portion of this blog post mentions some methods.

How to do an electronic submission, especially when pasting in material. When I was sharing on the topic with a group, one person said that the best tip she got was "don't enter the to person's email until you are sure you are ready to send." This means you can't accidentally send an unfinished submission. I'll write up some more details for a future blog post.

How to resize a picture. A writer (or illustrator) needs to submit an illustration, a cover, a headshot and have a large file, but has been requested for something smaller. I wrote this post to specifically help with this problem. I find people often don't know how to rename the picture with something meaningful either--it's okay to name it what it is.

How to keep email organized. Some writers keep everything all in the inbox, which makes for an overwhelming number of emails. Folders to save important emails by topic or event or date can be helpful. Or you can have a folder for critiques or projects. Many email programs allow you to set up filters to sort incoming email automatically into folders as well. You might want to do that for newsletters you like to read. As hard as it may be to believe, one gal didn't realize she could just delete emails she'd read and didn't need.

New writers often don't know about standard manuscript format. This is the way editors and agents will want to see manuscript submissions. Follow this link for details.

New to computer users don't know about Word's tables or Excel's spreadsheets. Either can be helpful in keeping track of submissions, agents, chapter summaries, finances, etc. (Although I prefer the latter for finances.)

Sometimes we aren't even aware we need help. We don't know there's a better or easier way. Many years ago I complained about how awkward something was in Word. My husband showed me tables. Wow, it made what I was doing so easy. Since, I've used it for forms many times.

So if something isn't working well for you, ask others, "Is there a better way?" Or search online for "How do I ________?"--there are tutorials, youtube videos, etc. that explain so much. For example, I've learned more about html that way.

What have you gotten help with? What do you wish you could get help with?

Comments are welcome.

I dont like to call

I don't like to call it writer's block. I like to think of it as a knot. You get to a place that's tangled is all, and it takes a little more time to tease it out.
John David Anderson

Never give up For that

Never give up. For that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.
Harriet Beecher Stowe


FOXHEART.jpgFoxheart (Greenwillow Books, 2016) by Claire Legrand starts out with an unlikable main character that I grew to like a lot.

"For the first twelve years of her life, Girl had no name." Left at the Convent at age three, she wouldn't even talk for two years. Her gray hair made her unusual too and everyone was suspicious of the unusual. At age five when she wouldn't tell the sisters her name, her punishment was to be given no name. Of course, the other orphans made up names for her. Girl took advantage of this and acted like a pig when the girls called her one. Called herself Pigwitch Girl while stealing from a woman from town.

Though obnoxious on the outside, Girl yearns for her parents. When she's ten, a stray yellow dog becomes her sole friend and she names him Fox. She dreams about becoming the best thief in the Star Lands. But one night her whole life changes, and Girl has to run for her life.

I really enjoyed the story and the different characters we are introduced to and I loved the cover that hints to all kinds of things in the story. The book is a 2016 Junior Library Guild selection.

Author Claire Legrand has a number of other books that you can check out here. Three books are slated for 2018 and 2019.

A Face Like Glass

facelikeglass.jpgafacelikeglass.jpgA Face Like Glass (Amulet Books, 2017) by Frances Hardinge is set in a believable, yet very unique underground city of Caverna.

Neverfell doesn't remember anything before she was five when she ended up living and working with Cheesemaster Grandible as his cheese making apprentice. Her master makes her wear a mask whenever she meets anyone, which doesn't happen very often as she's never let outside his tunnels. At twelvish, Neverfell assumes the mask is because she's so ugly. But when Neverfell goes out into the city itself, others think her face is terrifying, but for a reason she could never imagine. Will Neverfell be able to solve the mystery of where she came from?

If you like middle grade fantasy, you should read this book.

The cover on the left is the cover of the book I read. The cover on the right is the UK version, which I like better. The book originally came out in 2012.

Author Frances Hardinge has written a number of other books. You can read about them in her library. Her bio made me laugh. She likes wearing black hats as you can see here.

You want to write a

You want to write a sentence as clean as a bone. That is the goal.
James Baldwin