Microsoft Word, I quit you :-p

paperclipMicrosoft Word. I quit you. Not only are you a corrupter of files for no good reason, you also suck at organization for non-linear writers. Sure I can create folders, make document for each scene. Then I hope I remember what I named you later. No more. I have divorced you. Sure I’ll use you when I absolutely have to. But HAVE TO are the big words here. I’ve moved in with Scrivener and I’m infatuated. No I’m in love.

SCRIVENER lets me move scenes where ever I want. I can even have my research there in this program. Character bios. Character locations. Notes. All there. Together. No more am I forced to have multiple documents open at the same time. And there’s so much more Scrivener can do that I haven’t even scratched the surface.

Then add in ZOTERO. Man, where was this program when I did my undergraduate thesis? You can take notes. Attach pdf documents. Heck, it even creates bibliographies, if you’re into that kind of thing. Tags for sources and notes help you find things with a quick search. You can even create sub folders to store your sources that pertain to whatever you’re working on as well as a master list (in case you need the source for something else later). It’s like Evernote’s flashier, better cousin. So sorry, Evernote. You’re gone too.

Craft-Writing, programs


scappleI’m a character person. I loved to pepper my stories with banter. And people not saying what they really mean to say. When it comes to plotting, I’ll admit, it’s not one of strong point. So in the past week I decided to brush up on some books that’d been laying around the house (or on the Nook) that I haven’t managed to read yet.

All of these novels focus on plot by having you look long and hard and what the main character’s goal should be. Gerke doesn’t shy away from giving you examples of authors that lean one way of another (I found him a bit heavy-handed on using his own work repeatedly. Thought he could work a little bit harder to come up with other authors’ examples). The writer should strive for the middle of the road or close to the middle of the road, let’s say either character or plot 51% + 49%. Those that can strike a balance have much better change of making their story a bestseller.

Tapply focus more on the mystery genre. He suggests heavily plotting technique. One of his most useful suggestions is to write out the murder before hand. Who did what to who and how. Knowing this will help you keep up with the clues, provide the appropriate red herrings and make the story satisfying to the reader.

I attempted, with a piece of paper, to draw each clue and plot point out, but ended with a frustrating mess. I needed something more visual. Something that was easily corrected by hitting ‘delete’ if I wanted. After some searching I discovered Scapple created by the same developers of the writing software Scrivener. You jot down an idea and can draw lines and connecting points to each little thought. The developers offer a free thirty day trial (which I’m using). After that it’ll cost you $14.99. But I suppose a little deduction to the wallet isn’t so bad when you can visually see your plot and avoid all the hassles of trying draw a picture in your mind of how everything is connected.


Craft-Research, programs

Some times, Word Sucks

thCAMO4VJYI’ve been in a groove lately with my current WIP. I’d just finished up my latest chapter and saved it to my flash drive. I wanted to give it some time to breathe before doing a final read through and saving it into something besides Word. Well, in an expanse of three hours the file had somehow become corrupt. I tried doing a recovery in Word. Nothing. I even tried opening the file in Notepad. That was successful but all I got was a bunch of goobly-goop.

So adding to the mantra save and save often — save into something else besides Word too.

Other Alternatives:

  • Microsoft OneNote: I loved this program. It was great for storing all of my research into sub-divided notebooks. I could be a possibily to divide various WIP chapters, but for me, not all my devices had access to to the program. That’s why I opted for something else.
  • Evernote: I used this now to store all of my research as a plan A incase my hard drive decides to die. I also store finished chapters here as well (I just hadn’t gotten to it before the file became corrupt). What’s great about this program is that you can access it via the web, or the application on your device, make changes and it syncs once you’re hooked up to the web. The only draw back. Once you change something you can’t get it back.
  • Ywriter: I usually save my final chapter draft in this software. I love the fact how it breaks everything down into scenes, since that’s the way I write anyway. Once you’re finished you can convert the chapter to RTF, HTML or ebook.
  • Notepad: A simple, no-nonsense way to keep notes. It can be converted into to other documents. Probably a good thing to have if all you want to do is make a back up before you lose everything.




Y-writer (Again)

snipyWriter5Okay. I’ve been using this program for a while now. And all I can say is I’m diggin’ it. It’s even better once I downloaded the program to my flash drive. Since it works the program from the flash drive, you can pretty much use the program on any PC. If you’d like to give it a try, here’s the directions:

The things you’ll need:

  • A flash drive with more than 2 GB memory
  • An internet connect (preferably DSL or Cable for faster downloading)
  • A pc to download the program
  • Ywriter5

Step One: Download Ywriter 5 to you PC’s desktop.

Step Two: Figure out what your PC has named your flash drive. In my case, my PC named my flash drive: K: drive. You can find this out by clicking on MY COMPUTER.


Step Three: Once the program is downloaded. “Click” Run program

Step Four: After figuring out how your PC named your flash drive, you can find it by selecting browse. In the example below, my computer named my flash drive K: drive. Instead of choosing the default “Programs” where Windows installs all programs to the PC, you’re going to select in this case the K: drive.


Step Five: The next screen will prompt you for three things: a) Create a desktop icon for Y-writer (this isn’t necessary since you’ll be pulling it from the flash drive so you can uncheck this box) b)Install the sample project (this is entirely up to you, me I like to kinda figure things out for myself so I unchecked it) c)Associate .yW5 files with yWriter 5 (recommended) this should be checked.


Step Six: This tells you what is going to be installed on your flash drive.


Step Seven: After you ‘click’ install, everything should download. If it’s complete you’ll get this screen:


Step Eight: If you go to My Computer and click on your flash drive you should see these two screens



Step Nine: If you click on the yWriter5 folder you’re going to see lots of files. The one you want has a cursive W & the type of file says: Application. Click on the yWriter Application.


Step Ten: There you are. You’ve installed Ywriter onto your flash drive. Now, all I can say is play around with it. See how it works.


And just maybe you’ll dig this program as much as I have.


Y-Writer and Chinatown

One bit of advice Regina Brooks gives in her YA guide book Writing Great Books for Young Adults: Everything You Need to Know, from Crafting the Idea to Landing a Publishing Deal, is to imitate the things you like from other authors (no plagiarizing, though). After replotting my manuscript, I realized I wanted to combine my two stories into one twisted noir. I could have turned to the masters:  Hammett, Cain or Highsmith, but I decided to look elsewhere for inspiration.

ChinatownRobert Towne’s Chinatown is one of my favorite movies. While the characters are stereotypical (the private eye, the feme fatal) it’s the story that’s unique. Towne, with Roman Polanski’s vision, takes what appears to be simple matrimonial work for PI Jake Gittes and turns into a case overflowing with corruption, greed and murder.

I’ve been using Y-writer5 to replot my novel. This program doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of Scrivener, but I can’t complain too much, Y-writer is free. In this post I’m going to show you how I used Y-writer in conjunction with movie Chinatown to break down a novel scene by scene. I’m also doing this because I love the twisty, turvy plot that’s both intricate and satisfying and I want to see how Towne did it. If you haven’t seen Chinatown, I suggest you STOP reading this post and go watch it (if you have Netflicks it’s streamable). It’s defiantly worth two hours of your time.

Quotes that I love:

  • “Politicians, ugly buildings and whores all get respectable if theylast long enough.” Noah Cross – Chinatown
  • “Forget it, Jake. It’s Chinatown.” Walsh – Chinatown

1)Create a project

2)Create your characters (descriptions, back stories, ect)

3)Create a chapter (there were twelve so I went ahead and selected multiple chapter creation)

4)Create a scene


Chapter 1 Scene 1

Scene 1: Curly/husband/client is distraught over the dirty pictures taken of his wife committing adultery . Jake drinking and irritated that he has to do this yet again. Shows Curly out agreeing not to take his last dime to pay for his services. Secretary tells Jake he has another client waiting. Mrs. Evelyn Mulwray with her lawyer. She wants Jake to look into her husband, Hollis Mulwray, believing he’s having an affair. Jake suggests that if she loves her husband to go home and forget about it. Mrs. Mulwray insists she must know. Jake agrees to take the case but hesitant since her husband is a high official. He’s chief engineer for Water and Power.


Scene 1: Mayor is in favor of building a dam for more water to be available. Council calls on Chief Engineer Mulgrave who states he won’t build it because it’s too dangerous. The crowd erupts in boos. An angry farmer brings his sheep to the meeting to protest the damn and it drying up grazing for his livestock. There’s no water.

Scene 2: Jack follows Mulgrave out to desert valley where damn is sees Mulgrave meet Indian boy. Checks ground and pulls out map and lays it on car.

Scene 3: Jake follows Mulwray watches him from rear view. Gets out and watches as Mulgrave strolls the beach. Stays until dark when water comes gushing out and dumps into the ocean. Follows Mulgrave back. Picks watch out of box. Puts it beneath Mulgrave’s tire.

Scene 4: Ops tell Jake that Mulgrave stayed their all night. Tells Jake the man’s got water on the brain not dames. Photographer shows Jake pictures of Mulgrave and another man and how they got into a huge argument outside a restaurant. Noisy traffic and all the could manage was ‘applecore’. Doesn’t like what he hears. Phone rings and Duff says he found Mulgrave with a lady.


Scene 1: Taking pictures of Duffy so he can get ones of Mulwray with young girl. Location: Echo park on pond.

Scene 2: Follows Mulwray. Inside is a courtyard. Mulwray is meeting a pretty blonde girl who speaks Spanish.

Scene 3: Reading paper and getting a shave. Jake and mortgage broker get into it regarding Jake’s profession.

Scene 4: J. tells Sophie to leave for a moment so he can tell a crass joke. Opps are trying to say something but he’s more interested in telling his joke. Door opens behind him and a sharp dressed woman and another man steps out. Strange woman introduces herself as the real Mrs. Mulwray and that she’s never met him or hired him to spy on her husband. Mrs. Mulwray threatens him with her attorney.


Scene 1: Goes to Gittes office and his secretary tells him he’s not in. Invites himself into Mulwray’s office to look around. Looks around and sees pictures of real Mrs. Mulwray. Finds a plat map but is interrupted by the assistant who escorts him into his office. Jake takes one of his cards. Runs into some competition who is guarding the building because of the threats.

Scene 2: Goes looking for Mulgrave at his house. Only finds Mrs. Mulwray. She agrees to drop the lawsuit. She doesn’t know where her husband is and seems like she’s hiding something.

Scene 3: Jake uses Mulgrave’s assistant’s card to get through guards at dam. Meets old friend name Louis Escabar whom he used to work with in China town that is now a lieutenant who’s a lieutenant. The cops are there because Mulgrave is dead.


Scene 1: Mrs. Mulgrave comes down to id the body. Louis/lieutenant asking her questions about Melgrave taking his own life. Admits that her husband was seeing girl and they quarreled over. Came as a surprise. Lieutenant things it’s odd since she hired Jake. Jake walks her to her car amid the press. Mrs. Mulwray says she’ll send him a check to make it official that she hired him.

Scene 2: Coroner states Mulwray died of drowning in a the middle of a drought. Asks about other guy. Homeless. Also drowned in LA river. Jake says that’s strange because there’s absolutely no water.


Scene 1: Jake visits the L.A. riverbed mostly rocks and very little water. A Mexican boy tells him the river comes but on different parts.

Scene 2: Jake visits the dam at night where Mulwray’s body was found. Scales a fence. There’s gun shots then water rushes down the damn taking Jake with it. He climbs the fence again to escape it. Runs into some shady fellas that cut his nose and tell him to stop being so nosy.

Scene 3: Discussing what happened to him at the dam. Gets a mysterious call from the woman that was pretending to be Mrs. Mulwray. She says she never intended for anything nasty to happen. Tells him to look in the obits for ‘one of those people’.

Scene 4: Jake at diner checking out obits in newspaper. Sees that the bond for the new dam passed. Mrs. Mulwray shows up. Jake is asking questions about her and her relationship with her husband. She gets defensive about asking him questions about her past. Jake thinks it’s strange that she was glad about the affair. It goes contrary to what he’s seen. Still thinks she’s hiding something even more so that she won’t tell him where she was on the night her husband was killed. Outside he wants her to come with him get more info out of her. He tells her all the things that he believes why her husband was murdered. And he makes a point to tell her again that she’s hiding something. Jake gets in his car. Mrs. Mulwray is almost close to tears. She shouts out Jake’s name but he has already squealed away.


Scene 1: Visits assistant engineer’s office. See’s Noah Cross’ photo on wall. Wonders if it’s a relation to Mrs. Mulwray’s. Sits and waits for assistant engineer. Learns that Hollis and Cross worked together and that Cross once owned the entire water supply to the city. Learned that Hollis and Cross were partners. In assistant’s office, accuses him of hiring chip to hire him to frame Hollis for a scandal so they could get rid of the opposition to build the new dam. Assistant engineer states that they’ve been diverging water to orange groves up north hoping to help the farmers out. This doesn’t sit right with Jake.

Scene 2: Jake return to find Mrs. Mulwray in his office. She offers him a huge advance if she finds out who killed her husband and who’s behind it. When Jake mentions Noah Cross, Mrs. Mulwray is physically agitated. She says Hollis and her father had a falling out regarding the dam that broke. She stated that Hollis and her father never spoke again after that. Jake knows that’s not true because his ops got pictures of the two of them talking.

Scene 3: Arranges a meeting with Noah Cross. He’s asking him questions about his daughter and warns Jake that his daughter is disturbed and he shouldn’t be getting involved with her. Offers Jake double what his daughter is offering if he finds Hollis’ girlfriend. Noah avoids discussing what Hollis and him were meeting. Arguing over their daughter. Insistent on finding Hollis’ girl.


Scene 1: Visits the hall of records. Discovers that most of the land in the valley has been sold in a couple of months. Steals plot map out of book.

Scene 2: Visits one of the lots that was sold. It’s try with a dried up river running through it. Makes his way to the orange groves where he was told the water had been diverged. There’s a big no trespassing sign posted, but Jake goes on the property anyway. Get’s caught by the proprietor who tells him that Mulwray is the the one who’s been poisoning his wells and trying to get him to sell, which he won’t. Jake and the hired hands get into it and they end up knocking Jake out.

Scene 3: Jake wakes. The proprietor and his wife look at him while Mrs. Mulwray looks over him. She gives him a ride back to town because his car is wrecked. Tells Mrs. Mulwray that the dam is a con job. It’s not going to go to L.A. it’s going to the valley. Learns that dead people in the obits are the one’s buying up the land.

Scene 4: Use a fake reason to look around rest home. Find all the names that are on the deeds. None of the elderly know they’re rich people. Jake talks to one of the ladies that owns the land. They’re making a quilt. A piece of it catches Jake’s eye. The lady says its from the Albecore club. They treat everyone very nice. Mr. Palmer interrupts and says there’s someone there to talk to him. Jake beats up the goon and gets in Mrs. Mulwray’s car and drives away.


Scene 1: Tensions are high from the chase. Jake and Mrs. Mulwray end up in bed together. Pillow talk until the telephone rings. Mrs. Mulwray says she has to leave. Right now. She confesses that her father owns the club. She gets very agitated when he speaks of her father. They quarrel over her father and the girlfriend. Mrs. Mulwray warns him about her father. He agrees to wait for her, but it’s a lie. Jake decides to follow her.

Scene 2: Jake follows her to two story house in L.A. At the back of the house sees her with the butler from the house arguing over a newspaper. Hears a girl crying. It’s Hollis’ girlfriend. She’s speaking Spanish. Distraught and Mrs. Mulwray is trying to comfort her. Jake is there waiting for her in her car. She confesses that girl is her sister and that she really did care for Hollis. She asks him to come back to the house with her. Jake says he’s had enough for one evening.

Scene 3: Jake is cleaning up and going to bed. Get’s a phone call from a guy that tells him the fake Mrs. Mulwray wants too meet him in Echo Park. Jake tells the guy Ida Session can call him at the office. The man calls again, but Jake doesn’t go.


Scene 1: Apartment guy told him about the previous night. Finds Ida Sessions murdered. The kitchen in a mess. Finds Louis in the bathroom with another cop. Ida has the photo’s he took of Hollis and the girl. Louis thinks he’s an accessory after the fact and that he and Mrs. Mulwray are in it together. Jake says no. Hollis was killed because of the valley/water/dam.

Scene 2: Go to ocean front where Hollis’ body was found. The police interview assistant engineer and they said they’re only dumping run off. Gittes says they’re lying. Louis tells him he’s lying. Louis gives Jake two hours to get Mrs. Mulwray to his office.

Scene 3: The servants are packing up the house and no one seems to know where Mrs. Mulwray is. Jake takes a look around. Gardner tells him salt water is bad for grass. Pound is full of salt water. Discover Hollis’ glasses in the pond.


Scene 1: Finds Mrs. Mulwray, butler and girl at the house getting ready to leave. Jake confronts her with the glasses of Hollis’ he found. Wants her to tell him the truth before cops get there. Jake beats the truth out of her. Hollis’ girl’s name is Kathrine. She’s Mrs. Mulwray’s daughter/sister. She ran away to Mexico to have her at fifteen. Hollis followed her to help her. Mrs. Mulwray tells him now she wants to protect her daughter. Jake tells her she need to leave. She also tells him the glasses weren’t Hollis’. He didn’t wear bi-focal. Butler takes both of them to his place. Calls opps at office and tells them to meet at Kahn’s place in two hours. Jake tells Louis that Mrs. Mulwray flew the coop. The maid should know where she is and lives in San Pedro. Louis says he has to go with him to the maid’s house.

Scene 2: Maid’s house happens to be Curly’s. Cheating wife has a shiner. Jake asks Curly to give him a ride somewhere to get away from the cops.Curly agrees to take the Mulwray’s to his boat and get them out of town. Jake calls Cross and tells him he has the girl. Cross agrees to meet him in an hour.


Scene 1: Cross comes. Insistent on knowing where the girl is. Jake confronts him and accuses Cross of killing Hollis.  Cross tells him that he plans on annexing all the land into the city. Bring L.A. to the water. cross says at the right place and the right time people are capable of anything. Takes the glasses from Jake and depends they take him to the girl who he says is the only daughter he has left.

Scene 2: Driving toward China town. Louis is there. Jake is trying to tell him that Cross is the one that killed Hollis. He’s an evil man and should be the one they’re after. Cross goes after Kathrine. Evelyn tells Cross to stay away from her. Evelyn shoots cross and speeds away. The cops fire at the car. Evelyn is hit and killed. Cross takes Katherine. Louis orders Jake’s ops to take him home. Jake stops to protest but his ops tell him to forget it.


My Writing Spot (App)

After converting my Nook to an Android tablet, I began perusing the Google Play store for productivity apps. I wanted something I could sink with Dropbox and not have to worry about juggling around my flash drive (not using the laptop so the flash drive is kinda moot at this point).

If you’re looking for a writing app that doesn’t have too many bells and whistles, try My Writing Spot. It’s available for download with both Ipad/Iphone and Android. You can also use its website and sink what you write on the website to the app on your device (make sure you have a wi-fi connection and a gmail account handy).

The app is simple. No formatting to get in your way. You just type. You can title your sections whatever you want and group them together by colors. Once grouped, the app syncs them together and provides you a total word count. A handy dictionary and thesaurus is also provided. So, so long

The only glitch I’ve found in the program concerns titling sections. The app allows only so many characters. But the website has no restriction. To bypass this restraint, I’ve just been retitling it on the website and synching it later.

Oh, and as for the Nook Color running Android’s Gingerbread, it’s working great. The small keyboard is an adjustment, but well worth it. The only flaw in the whole system I’ve noticed is you have to take the device out of usb host mode for it to charge correctly.


Nook to Android

Things have been crazy busy with a new baby. The only time I’ve found to write is when he’s sleeping. My laptop and Alphasmart keyboard are too cumbersome. Even my husband’s Ipad is just too big. So I’ve made due with the Nook Color–and it’s fine, but all you can do is hunt and peck and it makes for excruciatingly slow writing.

As an E-reader, the Nook Color works great, but it has limitations. I have an Amazon account with a few Kindle books and I can’t read them on my Nook. The Nook app store is terribly lacking. Much more so when compared to the Google Play store or Apple store. After doing some research, I discovered I could turn my Nook Color into an Android tablet running on Android Gingerbread.

I thought about rooting the Nook myself. I’m computer savy, but I didn’t have the time. Nook to Android will do the rooting for you (for some cash), and you don’t have to worry about voiding your warranty or ‘bricking’ your Nook. Once I received the SD card, instillation was fairly simple. I slipped the card into the SD slot. Followed the directions provided, and in less than five minutes, I was downloading apps from Google Play and accessing my writing via Dropbox. I also purchased a keyboard and a usb connector I purchased from Radioshack (Just a word of caution here. Don’t order the SD card off of the developer’s website. They haven’t developed a kernel for Android 4.1 (Jellybean) yet so your keyboard won’t work). To link my Nook to my keyboard, I then downloaded the free app: Nook Tweeks or USB Host Controler (To get the keyboard and Nook to work together try visiting this site).

So far, I’m impressed. And I don’t have to lug around my heavy laptop anymore.


Laptop Alternative

I’ve always been easily distracted. The cute fuzzy squirrels outside or the playful robins — at least at my full time job, I’m too short so I’d have to stand up to look out the window, otherwise I’d never get any work done. I find that I’m just as easily distracted with my writing, especially when I’m on my desktop or laptop. It’s too easy to find a game to play or surf the web. When my laptop finally went to computer heaven, I decided I didn’t want to spend the money on a new laptop. We have an Ipad and a Nook, but neither is geared toward long term writing. The Ipad could be, but I’ve tried it, and even with a wireless keyboard, I didn’t find it all to my liking. My wrists hurt after a while and no matter how I adjusted the font size, it always gave me a headache. I still wanted the functionality and portability of a laptop, but I didn’t want the distractions or the price that usually came with them.Then I started thinking about when I was in junior high, before laptops were fiscally feasible for the masses. There were these simple word processing units. I couldn’t remember their names, but after some searching on Ebay and Amazon, I found them.

Neo Direct makes them now and markets them for student K-12 use. A brand new one will cost you about $169.00. If you’re careful and do some research, you can find a used one on Ebay or Amazon for between $20 – $40. They’re light, about two lbs., and the battery life is about 20-25 hours, much longer than an average laptop battery. You can write and edit Office Excel, Word & PowerPoint files. There are eight different files where you can store up to eight different stories/chapters/etc. for a total of 100 pages of storage. Hook up the device to your PC through a USB cable, pick the program you want to transfer the file to, and hit send. The text is transferred. I found an Alphasmart 3000, which is no longer being made, but there is still a website out there for drivers and manuals if you want to read up on the product. I did have some difficulty getting into the device at first because it was password protected and the person I bought it from did not supply the password. After some searching I was able to restore the Alphasmart to its original settings using the factory preset password (which was: ‘think’). Overall I’m very satisfied with the product. It does exactly what I want it to do: it lets me write, and only write, and limits my distractions.