Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Scrivener: Love it or Hate it?

Well, I'm back from Editville and I have survived intact!

Sometimes there's nothing like a deadline to get a writer to stop checking out stuff on YouTube and Facebook and Twitter and blogs and forums and email and Zappos and Etsy and (oops I'm not supposed to admit I daydream-shop when I'm supposed to be writing)... I am a bit mushier from lack of yoga and too many lattes, but alas. How we suffer for our writing!

So I wanted to chat just a bit about Scrivener. I posted about it just over a year ago here. At that time, I was wondering if I should use writing software to help me with my editing process. Back then, editing consisted of a lot of note cards and color-coded notes. It was a mess, but it worked.

This time around, I vowed to make my life a little bit easier. So I bought Scrivener (it was $45) based on a friend's experience with it.

What I've loved about Scrivener:
  • The "binder" view lets me see my whole manuscript sectioned into chapters and scenes. I can title each of these separately so I can find things easily. So for example, a chapter titled in the binder with "girl kicks boy's undead butt" doesn't show up as the true chapter heading in the manuscript.
  • The split screen. I can have one part of my manuscript on a lower half of the screen, and a different part on a upper screen. This avoids the whole scrolling back and forth within a manuscript to fix stuff. Also, I've used other manuscripts by betas or my editor with their comments in a different window so I can fix stuff simultaneously. Brilliant.
  • Compile. Once you're done, you can compile all these chapters and scenes together and export your document to be printed, or as a PDF, RFT, Word doc, whatever. I always use the "original" setting so Scrivener doesn't use those wonky formatting presets I don't like.
  • Automatic saves. No need to hit command-S anymore. My laptop has died at least three times when I forgot to hook up my power cord. Nothing was ever lost!
  • Snapshot. I can take these snapshots of scenes or chapters, which saves an old version. This way when I'm making changes, I can easily view the previous version when I need to.
  • The potential to use with the iPad. I haven't done this yet, but I'm set to try it soon. Using a go-between program called Simplenote, you can sync your computer's Scrivener files with Simplenote, then write/edit in your iPad using Simplenote. Here's a great blog post that outlines how to do this. 
What I've disliked about Scrivener:
  • The formatting is wonky sometimes. Importing my Word doc into Scrivener, I've found that sometimes my tabs and paragraphs have become weird. It's been a slight pain to redo/undo them. Also after compiling, I've found random blank pages in there which I've had to delete.
  • The initial work. As with any new program, the first time you use it, you make mistakes. And then there's the initial time it takes to get to know the software. Plus importing your document and painstakingly separating out each chapter, scene, and writing titles for them took hours. In the end, it was worth it but with a deadline looming, it did stress me out a lot.
  • Can't import track changes. You can import comments on manuscripts by saving as an RTF, but track changes won't import. So you must accept/reject them in Word, then import the rest of the comments after. Kind of a pain.
  • I only know the tip of the iceberg.  (Oops, I almost wrote "iceberk" which would have been more appropriate, given the beserky nature of what I've been going through). I know Scrivener has a million more uses that I don't know of. Time will tell if I'll use them.
One of the Lucky 13's, Erin Bowman, has two great tutorials on using the character worksheets and freeform corkboard, as well as how to outline using Scrivener. Pretty awesome, thanks Erin! I may do that with my next manuscript.

Also, here's a great, basic tutorial on how to use Scrivener.

 So how about you? Do you use writing software? Why or why not?
And if you use Scrivener, please tell me your favorite trick! I'd love to learn. :)

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Why Ken Jeong needs to be my new BFF

Okay, so along the lines of other random, non-writing related blog posts comes this one.

Do you know this guy? You should. He's a stand-up comedian best known for his parts in The Hangover and Knocked Up. I'd heard about him here and there, but now comes my treatise on why Ken needs to be my new BFF.

I'm not stalking him. I've only Googled him FOUR TIMES, for god's sake.

1. Ken is a doctor; I'm a doctor. We both trained in internal medicine. Which, as you know, are the smartest doctors in the world because you have to know EVERYTHING about when to call a consulting physician.*

2. He also pursued a career in a field that his parents most likely didn't support. Stand-up comedy? Writing teen fiction? We could have a serious drink over Soju** re: which parents gave them more of a guilt trip.

3. We both married an Asian, non-Korean spouses. Because two Koreans under one roof is a Doublemint brand of insane.*** This way, I'm the only insane one in the house. Ken would likely agree.

3½. ...and our spouses are both physicians!

4. We're likely cousins. His full name is Kendrick Kang-Joh Jeong. My name is in in his name! (Actually, that means totally nothing if you understand the Korean family name thing, but whatever.) We're still probably cousins or something. I mean, check this out. Dark hair, dark eyes, kind of short. He looks just like me, see?****

Scene from Knocked Up (copyright Universal Pictures 2008)

5. He's actually a really sensitive guy. Check out this amazing post about his wife, on Mother's Day.

Ken of course has no idea that he's my new BFF. Crap. Oh well. 

In any case, follow Ken on Twitter and please tell SNL that they need to host him, STAT by liking his Ken Jeong To Host SNL facebook page. Do it, or this might happen to you the next time you have a romantic moment...

From his Website
*This is only kinda sorta true about internists.
**Soju=Korean hard liquor made from sweet potatoes or rice. Imbibement usually results in a lot of loud, drunk Koreans. Yes, I have had my share. No, please don't tell my parents or my kids about this.
***Two married Koreans isn't really a recipe for major insanity. Just ask all my friends who have two Korean parents. Actually, don't.
****This is obviously a joke. If I had a dollar for every time someone said I looked like someone they knew who was also Asian, I'd have...a lot of dollars. A LOT.

Monday, May 14, 2012

On hiatus!

Hi guys,
Thank you all for participating in the survey on blog swag for writers and supporting last week's post on February's debut!

I am deeply entrenched in edits and have a major deadline coming up, so I will be off the blog until June. At that time, I'll have a great giveaway based on the poll results. It'll be worth the wait!

Thank you for your patience, and I'll see you all in a few weeks!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Author Spotlight: February is Full of Grace

Hello! Today I'm featuring February Grace and her debut novel, GODSPEED. I've known February as a writer and poet, blogger and tweeter, painter and friend. She's wicked talented.

Here's the lovely February:

 And here is her lovely book:

Abigail’s young life was saved by the kindness of strangers: Schuyler Algernon, the man who found her collapsed on cold city streets, and Quinn Godspeed, the doctor who risked everything by breaking the law to keep her fragile heart beating.

As the truth about what she’s become and her feelings for her savior overtake her, Abigail is forced to ask what constitutes life, living, and what dark secrets are contained within Godspeed’s past and the walls of Schuyler’s house.

And now on to the dirt! Time for some interview questions!

1. You've had your own share of medical issues. No need to get specific, but did that influence the creation of your characters and/or your plot?
The short answer is yes, to both. Just one quick example for you, one character has issues with her vision. Given my history of problems with my sight, I was able to describe that in a way that I don't think a person who hadn't experienced it would be able.

Also, it was in my mind that a team of doctors at one of the best hospitals in the country said that I "Set them back a hundred and fifty years" as far as what they could do for my eyes, so it helped me think about how praciticing medicine might be different in Godspeed's time, which I never specified but I thought to be somewhere between 1890 and 1910 or there abouts. So yes, at least something good came from my long history as a patient-- a unique perspective on the characters.

2. Steampunk is such a thrilling genre! How did you end up choosing steampunk as a setting/world for Godspeed?
I consider Godspeed to be a literary romance with what I call "Steampunk embellishments". I tried to read the popular Steampunk books, because I've always been crazy for the gadgets, the clothing, the clocks and all manner of gearwork. Trouble for me was I'd get to the zombies or gore and stop reading. They felt more horror to me than anything else. So I guess in the end I wrote the book I wanted to read when I went looking for Steampunk influenced stories.

I know it probably won't be "steampunky" (is that a word? It is now!) enough for the hard-core fans of that genre, but for a reader who wants a story that's a little less jarring and completely zombie free, this might be the ticket. I hope they'll give my characters and my hybrid world a try.

3. Please tell us how you got your name, February. If this answer is simply "I was born in February" please skip to question #4. :)
February Grace is my pen name, and has been for about four years now. It actually began as the name of a character I wrote in an online adventure series I participated in. I think I invented the fictional Bru way back in early 2007.

After I got my sight back and decided to get more serious about my writing I knew I wanted a pen name, something memorable and different- and that name was the one that came back to me. Since I was so used to being called bru already as a nickname because of the character it took no time at all to get used to using it every day. Now it is who I am, in writer form :~) And besides, I have so many nicknames pretty much the only people who call me by my 'real' name work in doctor's offices.

4. Some advice for other writers please! It can be about the process of writing, or publishing, or just living.
Oh, wow. Well, I would never presume to give anyone advice on technique, or anything like that because in so many ways what makes 'good' writing is so subjective.

From the path I've taken, though, I would just offer this: follow your heart. If you want to be traditionally published, then keep going on that road. If your heart says you want to venture out and try doing it independently, then sieze the day. Don't let anyone demean the road that your heart tells you is the right one for you.

Yup. If you go indie follow your heart...and hire a great copy editor!

Thank you Bru, for coming by and sharing your wisdom with us!

You can find GODSPEED on Amazon and Lulu
And you can February on her blog, Pitch Slapped, as well as on Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Giveaway Poll!

Hi guys,
I know it's Medical Mondays. But I must soothe this nagging itch I've had (without the use of steroid creams.)

I've been wanting to do a giveaway for sometime. In the past, I've given away books, gift cards, stuffed bacteria, soap, all sorts of stuff.

What I want to know is what do YOU really WANT?

So please do the nifty poll over yonder to the right--->

THANK YOU, and please spread the word! As bloggers, we can all benefit from the answers I'm going to post next week!

Happy Monday! (ooh, I'm inspired. Here's my favorite Happy Mondays song. Enjoy!)

Friday, May 4, 2012

It's Gonna Eat Me

I'm not sure why I felt totally compelled to blog about this. Oh wait. Yes, yes I do.

I'm a wimp and I don't like horror so I need my bloggy friends to hold my hands for this one.

Wait for it...


Here it is, the manifestation of my nightmares.

"Girl, you'd look good with some Chianti. Aw yeah."
Oh lordy. I mean, see how that thing eyeballs you? It's going to be the first, carnivorous, person-eating penguin, I'm sure of it. Look at him. He's even shifted his weight, ready to pounce!

Normally, I love me some penguins. They're cute and they swim underwater and there's that fetching waddle, so much more waddlier than a duck's. Heck my publisher is going to be Penguin! But this thing? This is too much.

My kids got it as a gift. It came in this egg, and you're supposed to soak the egg in water until the egg cracks, and whammo, this little penguin hatches out of the shell. Cute, right?

Well, no. First, the egg cracked. Then all this white, glutinous snot came pouring out the crack. Once the penguin was birthed, it was covered in more snot. Guess who got the job of washing it off?

Indeed, 'twas me.

And now, my littlest one won't let me dispose of it. I keep it in this soy sauce dish because honestly, I don't want it to touch my home directly. I think it's going to give jelly-penguin-cooties to my lovely house. In fact, I may even have to permanently retire the soy sauce dish because it's been tainted by this snot-infested toy. 

When I attempted this picture, it tumbled out of the dish and hit my foot, all porous and squishy (and STILL covered in the mysterious gloop.) You should have hear me.


Anyway. There is no real point to this post, except to say thank you for sharing in my toy horror. Normally I stick to writing related blog posts, but how can I write when this monstrosity is scheming to feast on my vitreous humor whilst I sleep?

Have you ever had a toy that kinda sorta freaked you out?