Thursday, May 19, 2016

Scrivener - The Novelist's Friend

A few years ago I was introduced to a 'New' program. By then I had several novels under my belt, one had been written by hand, another in Word Perfect, a few in Word. When someone suggested Scrivener, I wasn't necessarily sure what I thought. 

For one thing, there is a learning curve. Did I really want to begin to learn a new program 'just' to write my next novel? Would the learning curve eventually pay off in rewards that I currently didn't understand? Well, the simple answer is, yes.

Reasons to consider Scrivener:

1. Plotting
    • Plotting with Scrivener is a dream! There is no other way to say it. Notecards can be written in the program and then that information is transferred to the area where text is written. This allows me to plot several chapters and then easily take the notes with me into the text writing area and write while viewing my notes.

2. Organizing
    • I tend to write from several character's perspectives. Scrivener helps me to color coordinate which character I'm writing from and allows me at a glance to see where I should go next, or if I'm spending too much time in one character's head.
    • I am also one who likes to research and gather information for my novels. This information I used to find and print and keep in folders - lots and lots of folders. Scrivener allows me to utilize a section of the program to keep all those files and all that information and then lets me write and view the research at the same time - meaning I'm not having to flip from screen to screen to get information and check to make sure I'm getting it right, and I don't have to be connected to the internet to access files, or drag them with me when traveling.

3. Goals
    • Perhaps one of my favorite things is setting up my goals. Why? I'm a goal oriented person and having a bell let me know that I've reached my goal of word count brings me great pleasure. It also keeps me focused on the end goal of total word count for my novels. 
4. Bonus Help
    • Name Generator: I always have difficulties with this and so having a name generator is a bit of fun
    • Word Use: Also an issue I have. I come up with a great word and then I use it and use it and use it. Scrivener will call me on it. The program lets me me know how often I use words, which is great for finding weak verbs, but also great for finding the unusual word used several times as well.
    • Multiple formats: Want to write a comic book, the format is there. How about a play? Yep, it's covered too. 
So, while I realize for you it might also mean a learning curve, I recommend giving it a try. 

D. Jean Quarles is a writer of Women's Fiction and co-author of a Young Adult Science Fiction Series. Her latest book, Solem was released February 2016.

D. Jean loves to tell stories of personal growth – where success has nothing to do with money or fame, but of living life to the fullest. She is also the author of the novels: Rocky's Mountains, Fire in the Hole, and Perception, and the co-author of The Exodus Series: The Water Planet: Book 1 and House of Glass: Book 2. The Mermaid, an award winning short story was published in the anthology, Tales from a Sweltering City.                                                                                             

She is a wife, mother, grandmother and business coach. In her free time . . . ha! ha! ha! Anyway, you can find more about D. Jean Quarles, her writing and her books at her website at                                      

You can also follower her on Facebook.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

3 Actionable Ways to Edit Text on a Budget

Guest Post by Andrew Howe

No matter how experienced you are, you might spend some time editing and proofreading your text before publishing it. And as a writer, you would agree that if the writing process takes time, the editing process needs even more efforts. To edit texts well, you need to be attentive and skilled which is not so easy, so some writers would rather turn to editors.


Hiring professional editors is expensive, so if you're on a tight budget, you'd better learn how to edit texts without spending much money. And there are four actionable ways how to do it.

1. Use Free Tools

The most common way to check your article is to use online tools that can highlight stylistic and grammar mistakes so that you can correct them. As the technological progress is developing daily, the number of tools is growing, too.

No better feeling can be found than finding useful tools that are free of charge, especially if you don't have money to spend on online editors.

Here are some free tools to edit your chunks:

•    Hemingway
•    Grammarly
•    AdverbLess
•    ProWritingAid
•    AutoCrit 

Once you find tools that work for you, start using them, but never stop exploring the Internet in order to find new useful tools to edit your writing.

2. Collaborate with Other Writers

Even if you give your text time, double check it, and use all the editing techniques you know, making your text perfect is a hard thing to do as you perceive the information in a different way.

To have a fresh look at the text, you'd better share it with another writer. Once your colleague gives you feedback, you can analyze your piece from a different angle.

Don't be afraid to ask for help. Although begging your colleagues isn't good, you can collaborate with them in order to take advantage of it for both of you: exchange articles to edit, give feedback, or highlight chunks that should be proofread.

3. Enhance Your Editing Skills

If you're good at editing, that's great. If you keep developing your editing skills, that's even better! It goes without saying that even a professional editor can make some mistakes or typos. But, the more you train, the better your results are. Thus, pay attention to ways how to enhance your editing skills right from your home (or wherever you have the Internet connection):

•    MOOCs. Enrolling in online courses from the world-best universities is a good way to improve skills. As the variety of MOOCs is big on the web, the number of courses for writers is growing rapidly, so you can sign up for courses to learn self-editing techniques.

•    Learning from gurus. Surfing the Internet, you come across different writers and bloggers who are successful. Most of them share their tricks and tips, so reading their articles can give you insights.

•    Practice. There is nothing better than practicing. Once you have some free time, dig into your drafts and try to edit them. Every time you come back to your article, you can find some things to work on: find a better word, change some sentences, or include a new example. Practice is the key to editing success!

While you're learning editing skills, write down new tips and techniques so to remember them. Once your skills are advanced, you can craft better text from scratch.

A well-written article will not only grab, but it will also hold your audience's attention, thus polishing your writing skills is a crucial task for writers who want to stand out in their niche.

The truth is, it's nearly impossible to write an outstanding piece without spending time on editing and proofreading it. So, to save time and money, use the above-mentioned strategies. They'll help you learn how to become a better editor.

Do you have editing tips you’d like to share?

Andrew Howe is a student who loves learning something new! Being fond of writing, he has crafted AdverbLess, a  tool to help people eradicate adverbs in their proses to make it stronger. Contact Andrew via mail:


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Saturday, May 14, 2016

Why Specialize as a Writer

Many people who start out offering writing services try to write anything and everything for anyone and everyone.

They figure they need to do this to get work.

But when I coach new writers, I usually advise them to specialize (right from the start) in at least a couple of areas.

Here’s why:

• You’ll get better and better at what you do.

When you do something over and over again you naturally get better at it.

Not only that – it gets easier to do it each time you do it because there isn't a constant learning curve as there is with something new each time.

This means it will eventually take you less time to do this type of writing, which means you will naturally make more money because you will be able to take on more work.

• You can charge more for your services.

If you’re really good at something, you can charge more for it, which is another great reason to specialize.

You will be able to work quickly AND charge premium rates for your services.

• Clients will come to you.

When you specialize, you become known as an expert in the areas you specialize in.

And when you're an expert people seek you out because, generally, people want to hire experts.

That means you won't need to spend as much time marketing yourself and your writing services since clients will often find you (provided you have a website or other listing for your business).

People will come to you for other things besides writing, too.

For example, you will have opportunities to speak about what you know or even to teach what you know to others.

These opportunities can provide additional streams of income, which is another nice perk to specializing.

• It’s easier to market and brand yourself.

When you specialize in just a few areas, people know what to expect from you.

And you know what to offer potential clients.

Again, you are the expert in those areas.

You can market these types of services and use them to brand yourself as a writer.

• You can focus on doing only the types of writing you really love to do.

Perhaps the best perk of specializing is that you can focus on doing only the types of writing you really love to do.

If you hate writing press releases, for example, don't specialize in that type of writing and don't even offer it as one of your writing services.

That way, people won't come to you when they need someone to write a press release.

They'll only come to you when they need the type of materials you love to write.

As you can see, there are all sorts of reasons to specialize as a writer.

If you haven't done this yet, start thinking about the types of writing you really love to do, then decide to specialize in this areas.

Try it!

For more tips about specializing, register for this online writers'workshop, presented by Nancy I. Sanders, called Specialize: The Time is Now.

Suzanne Lieurance is an author, freelance writer, certified professional life coach and writing coach, speaker and workshop presenter. She has written over two dozen published books and hundreds of articles for newspapers, magazines, and other publications.

For more short writing tips, get your free subscription to The Morning Nudge at

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

5 Pursuits to Inspire Creativity

When was the last time you stepped away from the computer and got creative? If you have to think about it, then it has been too long.

A regular dose of creativity will keep the inspiration flowing, when it's time to put pen to paper.

Here are 5 things you can (that aren't writing) to spark your creativity,

1. Make Art. Draw, sketch, doodle. Paint, papier-mâché, crochet. Design a tree-house. Or build one. Even if you don't consider yourself an artist, step out of your creative comfort zone and make something. As your hands are occupied, allow your mind to wander. You could solve a creative problem or imagine something new.

2. Get Outside. There are plenty of things outside that inspire creativity - you just need to open your eyes and look around. Go for a walk, a run, or a bike ride. Or plant and tend to a garden. Fresh air is invigorating, not to mention healthy. 

3. Go Dancing. There are social, physical, and mental benefits to going out dancing. And I certainly recommend it. However, you can get the latter two without leaving your home. Schedule a daily dance break. Set an alarm, and when it goes off, put on your favorite radio station or song, turn up the volume, and dance.

4. Cook or Bake. Cooking and baking are two of the most creative things you can do. And, as a bonus, you get eat the fruits of your labor. Whether you follow a recipe (which you have to do to some extent when you bake although decorations are up for grabs) or create as you go, remember to have fun.

5. Have an Adventure. Enjoy the creativity of others. Take a field trip to a museum or art gallery, go to a booksigning, or see a show. Support other artists. At least for me, nothing is more inspiring that seeing and appreciating the creative work of others. 

A few months ago, I shared some tips on how to get unstuck when writing. Well, you don't need to find yourself at a loss for words as an excuse to get creative. You can't avoid getting stuck all the time, but you can decrease the likelihood.

Schedule (yes, schedule) time to be creative to remain inspired as much as possible. 

What creative things do you pursue in addition to writing? Share your thoughts in the comments. 

* * *
Debra Eckerling is a writer, editor and project catalyst, as well as founder of Guided Goals and Write On Online, a live and online writers’ support group. 

She is the host of the Guided Goals Podcast and author of Purple Pencil Adventures: Writing Prompts for Kids of All Ages. 

Debra is an editor at Social Media Examiner and a speaker/moderator on the subjects of writing, networking, goal-setting, and social media.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

A Proofreading Tip--from Psychology

I ran across this interesting video from Bite Size Psych.  It's about a 3-question test given to college students--many of whom miss at least one of the questions.  The test reveals cognitive bias, that quick conclusion-making that can sometimes lead us astray.  And it's exactly the type of thing that makes it difficult to spot typos in our own work.

Studies seem to show that students do better on tests when...get this...the font is hard to read.  It slows down the brain's processing, giving you time to really think instead of simply jumping to the easiest conclusion.

So, the brilliant proofreading tip:  when you're ready to do that final proof, change the font on your document to something unusual and hard to read.  You'll find more errors.

Just don't forget to change it back.

Check out the full video here:  The Simple Riddle that More than 50% of Harvard Students Got Wrong

Melinda Brasher currently teaches English as a second language in the beautiful Czech Republic.  She loves the sound of glaciers calving and the smell of old books.  Her travel articles and short fiction appear in Go NomadInternational LivingElectric SpecIntergalactic Medicine Show, and others.  For an e-book collection of some of her favorite published pieces, check out Leaving Home.  For something a little more medieval, read her YA fantasy novel, Far-KnowingVisit her online at

Monday, May 2, 2016

How to Create a Writing Sanctuary

Guest Post by Irene S. Roth

Writers spend a lot of time in the confines of their offices. Many of our home offices seem drab and uninviting. Most office spaces consist of a desk and computer along with drab colored walls. That is not a very motivating space in which to write is it? Unless we create a sanctuary for creativity, we may not be so inspired to get to our desks to write our best work.

It is, therefore, important for writers to take the time to personalize their writing space and making into a very inviting place where they could be inspired to think and do their best writing by adding colours, sounds and scents which will be inviting and calming. It is fairly easy to produce such a comfortable and productive workspace with just a few easy steps. 

1.    Place fun photos of your family and friends on your desk or computer screen. This will help to transport you to a positive and happy space while you write.

2.    Paint your office in one of your favorite colours. I love lavender. It is soothing and I feel productive when I enter my office. Experiment with different colours until you find one or two that really resonate with you.

3.    Put some wallpaper or borders on one or two walls of your office. This will make your office really pretty and inviting. Choose colours and patterns that really speak to you and inspire you.

4.    Add a touch of class to the windows by putting up colourful curtains and blinds. This way, you can control the amount of light and noise that comes into your office from the outside. You want to have the right amount so that you could write at your best and feel comfortable in your space.

5.    Position your desk so that it has a wonderful view. By doing this, you could take a refocus break once in a while by looking out your window.

6.    Choose some of your favorite CDs and have them available as background music.  Mozart is my favorite. Experiment a bit in order to find the music you feel most productive and inspired with.

7.    Choose some of your favorite scented candles and place them in your office. I use a lot of soothing lavender as it is my favorite scent. But if you don’t know what is soothing for you, just experiment a bit.

8.    Don’t allow yourself to have any toxic feelings or emotions when you come into your office. Simply think of pleasant and positive thoughts as you open door to your office. Remember this is a sanctuary for creativity.

9.    Don’t have a phone in your office if you can avoid it. Instead, use a cordless phone when you get out of your office.

10.    Keep your office at the just the right temperature. You want to avoid it being too hot or cold.  This is usually very uncomfortable.

11.    Avoid clutter in your office. There is nothing that takes energy away from your writing more than that. So, before you leave your office for the evening, declutter your office.

    By setting up your office as a place of refuge and a sanctuary, you will be very productive and happy when you enter your sacred space to do your daily writing. Your office is really that important to your success and happiness as a writer.  So take a few minutes to look around your office right now and take steps to make it as pleasant and productive as possible. Write down the changes that you should make. Then make the simplest and cheapest changes first. Then make other changes later. Take a few months to create a place that you will want to consider your very own den for creativity. 

About the Author

Irene S. Roth is a freelance writer and author. She writes for teens, tweens, and kids about self-empowerment. She is the author of over thirty books and over one thousand hundred online articles. She also writes articles for kids, tweens and teens and her articles have appeared in Encounter, Pockets, Guardian Angel Kids Ezine, and Stories for Children Magazine and Online. She also has over a thousand published book reviews both online and in print.


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Sunday, May 1, 2016

Get Those Emails Opened – 4 Powerful Email Marketing Tips

By Karen Cioffi

Whether you’re an author, freelance writer, or other, email marketing should be an essential part of your marketing plan. Part of the elements of sending emails is to know your open and click rates.

In marketing research conducted by MailChimp, the average email opens were under 20 percent. Knowing this information is important, so you can determine whether you’re:

a. Below average
b. Average
c. above average
d. a super email marketer

Well, let me backtrack just a moment. After you have an email list going and you’re sending out regular emails to your subscribers, you need to keep tabs on the number of Opens and Clicks. You can find this information through your email service provider; the service should provide reports.

Why is keeping track of your Opens and Clicks so important?

The answer: Email marketing takes time and effort . . . you don’t want to waste either.

In the simplest terms, the Open and Click rates are the only way to know if your email marketing efforts are paying off. If you have 500, 1000, 10,000 or more subscribers and only 10 percent of your emails are being opened, you’re losing a lot of your mailing list’s potential. The same holds true of your click rate.

If your subscribers aren’t opening your emails and aren’t clicking on your links, you won’t be selling much.

So, it’s easy to see that tracking those numbers is important, but since the Open rate is more important than the Click rate (if they don’t open your emails, they certainly won’t be clicking on anything), let’s go over how you can improve your Open rates.

4 Must-use Tips to Get Higher Open Rates

1. The title.

This is probably the number one Open determinant. If the title (subject line) of your email is engaging, offers to provide something your list needs, or has some other motivating factor, your Open rate will increase.

Effective titles include:

•    Secrets to success (Secret Steps to Building a Successful Information Product Line)
•    Tips (5 Critical Tips to Building an Information Product Line)
•    How to (How to Build Your Own Information Product Line)
•    Questions (Do You Want to Build Your Own Information Product Line?)

Effective titles should also be keyword effective. Using, I found that the keyword “information product” has 165,000 global searches and 60,500 local searches. This is valuable information. I know this is a keyword people are searching for.

2. Avoid ‘spammy keywords in the title.
While you do want to use effective keywords in your title you don’t want to use:

•    ‘Spammy’ keywords (#1, Free, Amazing, Earn, Guaranteed, Congratulations)
•    All CAPS
•    Excessive punctuation.

Remember keep it honest, simple, and to the point.

3. Skip the uninformative titles.

It seems there are more of these types of email subject lines lately, but they’re really not effective. These are titles that might say:

•    You must open now
•    Important – Read this now
•    Do you think this works?
•    You won’t want to miss this

People are too busy and have too much in their inboxes to play a guessing game of what the actual content will be about.

I quickly delete these types of titles.

4. The content of your email (or the link) must be relevant to the title.

As with everything in marketing, you need to be focused. Your title must be a foreshadowing of what the content will provide - it must be relevant to the information in your email.

There you have it – four tips to increasing your email Open rate.

After you develop a relationship with your subscribers through regular and helpful emails that follow the four tips above, your subscribers will trust that you are offering helpful information and be more inclined to ‘Open’ the email.

Try these tips today.

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Valentine's Gifts: Sometimes Words Fail Even a Writer

  He Won’t Write You a Love Letter By Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of the multi award-winning HowToDoItFrugally Series of books for writer...