Category Archives: Software

Back it Up

gibberishA few months ago, the fam had gone out of town, which meant I could get some serious writing done. I was zipping along when all of the sudden my words turned to what you see to the left.

I closed it down, opened it back up and nothing changed. Frantic, I called my IT guy and he walked me through a few things to try—still no good. I sent it to a couple other folks, tried a slew of suggested remedies, but nothing worked—It was gone.

Turns out the last time I had saved the file was about a month earlier. Also turns out I’d been really rocking on this project for the last month and so my previous version looked about 150 pages shy.

“Jesus Saves. You Should Too.”

I received this advice from a friend. He was right. It would have taken just a couple seconds to save the file—essentially sparing me a month’s worth of rework. I write on a laptop, so I never really shut down the computer. I did save it. I saved it often. But I never made a backup copy. I just saved on top of the old version making a new one.

I’m told that the file had grown so large (to about 4MB) that Word couldn’t handle it and wigged out and this had something to do with RAM.

Word sucks by the way, but it is part of my writing process. I haven’t been able to make Scrivener part of my process yet.

So now I save. I save everyday. Multiple times a day. In multiple versions. I saved a file today with 916 at the end, indicating to me that it is the version done in September 2016. I put a letter after 916 so I can go right on through the alphabet with different versions.

Now while this was extremely painful, and many of you probably winced at the thought, let me assure you that I got through it. After a night of depression, I awoke, determined to redo it. I spent the next two days writing. In the end, I caught up to where I was before my misfortune.

The new version was shorter by about 20 pages. And it was better. Only by the time I finished, I was spent on the project and my pantser mind went on to other things. I have yet to circle back to finish the dang thing.

Moral of the story:

  1. Safe often. Save in different names and locations. Email it. Flash drive it. Google Drive it.
  2. A rewrite can be a good thing.

Jace KillanI live in Arizona with my family, wife and five kids and a little dog. I write fiction, thrillers and soft sci-fi with a little short horror on the side. I hold an MBA and work in finance for a biotechnology firm.

I volunteer with the Boy Scouts, play and write music, and enjoy everything outdoors. I’m also a novice photographer.

You can read some of my works by visiting my Wattpad page and learn more at www.jacekillan.com.

Toolbelt roundup

This month we’ve seen a huge number of tools presented to help in every phase of producing a great story, from brainstorming to writing that first draft, to producing an ebook. The wealth of knowledge shared was simply amazing. Some of those tools included:

Protecting your work:

Getting started, research, and choosing a writing platform:

  • Ace Jordyn shared an excellent list of How-to-Write books
  • Katie Cross shared the mind-blowing coolness of Novamind for brainstorming
  • Evan Braun discussed the treasure trove that is research with Google Street View
  • Doug Dandridge discussed the wonders of building your own sci-fi universe with Orbit Xplorer
  • Jace Kilian discussed ways to Research
  • Joshua David Bennett shared a plethora of amazing tools that can be used in world building
  • Mary talked about finding meaningful names
  • Colette shared the pros and cons of Scrivener

Collaborating:

Generating that ebook:

  • Colette Black discussed the Magic of Jutoh

Promotion:

  • I shared ways to find Images without running afoul of copyright infringement
  • Emily Godhand explored using Wattpad to interact with readers in a unique and interactive way
  • Tim Reynolds shared an excellent, economical way to make a multi-use banner
  • We even fit in another great article from Guy Anthony De Marco on the tricky copyright world of DMCA
  • Greg Little discussed ways to best manage and keep track of multiple submissions
  • And Nathan Barra walked us through the process of using statistical analysis to help us target promotional and marketing efforts

I’m planning to investigate some of these and potentially add them to my writing tool belt.

Which ones intrigued or excited you the most?

Wattpad

A guest post by Emily Godhand.

Wattpad

At the Superstars Writing Seminar, I had the pleasure of meeting Wattpad’s own Ashleigh Gardner, a friendly and charming woman who gave a great speech on what Wattpad could offer budding writers as well as professional writers.

What is Wattpad?

It would be an easy mistake to describe Wattpad as “just a reading and writing app”.

While as of January 2015 it does offer over 100 million uploads of stories in over 50 different languages contributed by Wattpadders, and is often used by mobile readers and writers (85% of traffic!), it does so much more than just enable you to read or write a story.

What makes Wattpad so unique is the ability for readers to interact with those stories they love so much through in-line comments, and for writers to not only respond to the feedback, but to receive and post fan-made works of music, videos, and art.

What does Wattpad offer authors?

It would also be a mistake to describe Wattpad as a “publishing platform”.* Anyone over the age of 13 that has a working internet connection can post a story to share with the world. But Wattpad isn’t only useful for teenagers looking to get into writing, it offers many things to more established or professional-minded authors as well.

*though authors would be wise to take note of editors who state they prefer works that haven’t been seen on the internet.

Visibility

Wattpad enables you to get your name out there and build a fanbase of people who recognize your name and works. This is truly especially if you are a young-adult writer, as most Wattpadders are under 30.

Feedback

Receive real time feedback, even line-by-line commentary, on what readers enjoy or disliked about your works. Build excitement for your works and get them talking amongst each other, or people they know, especially on other social media.

Why wait for a review that may or may not talk about specifics, when you could learn what lines or characters or scenes are working (or not working) for people?

((A preference for this differs by author; some people don’t like others in their kitchen and that’s fine. You can ignore it!))

Motivation

People look forward to your updates! If you have an update due, and your readers are expecting it, how can you justify disappointing them? If people are counting on you to write, you are more likely to glue butt to chair and get on it.

Connection with Fans

On that note, your readers and fans can comment their responses, questions, and comments in your stories, leave a message on your message board (‘wall’ like on Facebook’), or message you directly.

I never thought growing up that I’d ever be able to speak with the authors I loved reading, but here they are on Wattpad. I could send them a message at this moment or write a fan letter on their message board. I remember one time I managed to track down this Indie author on Amazon and sent him a heart-felt message thanking him for his book, and how much it meant to me. I didn’t expect him to respond. But then…he did. And that means so much to readers.

Community

But with that, you not only create this community of supportive readers, but also fellow writers who can provide support and feedback.

You’re going to love it. 🙂

Guest Writer Bio:

Emily GodhandEmily Godhand is a cross-genre author who lives in a book fort in Denver, CO, with seven rats who revere her as their Queen.

As former psychiatric technician, she draws her inspirations from her work and the constant nightmares she’s had for 13 years. As such, her works tend to focus on an exploration of trauma, immortality, and human consciousness.

Read her latest work on Wattpad, where she is an Ambassador.

On the Road… with Google Street View

My recently completed Watchers Chronicle is by and large a travelogue. The stories hit every continent, more than a dozen countries, and even more cities and countrysides. At book signings, I am often asked if I have visited all the locales featured in the book, to which I must sadly answer, “No. I wish.” Frankly, I don’t have the budget or time for first-person research on that scale. Very few authors do, including those many times more successful than me.

So what’s an author to do? With a story like this one, the locations exist in the observable world. I can’t just make up geography to suit my needs. The cities and streets and lakes and fields and mountainsides are all real. They exist, and therefore they need to be as accurately depicted as it’s possible to do from the confines of my home in the middle of the Canadian prairie. It’s very flat here, and I can see an awfully long way, but I can’t see all the way to Switzerland.

Fortunately, Google can. Specifically, Google Earth. Google Earth is an encyclopedia of visual information sorted geographically. If you want to see locally sourced pictures and information from any location in the world, all you need to do is scroll to it on Google’s beautiful globe of accurate and increasingly detailed satellite imagery, and there you will find everything you could possibly hope for. It’s a geo-lover’s paradise.

The most powerful tool in the arsenal is Street View. A fleet of Google vans has been busy crisscrossing the globe’s million-or-so highways and streets for about a decade now, capturing a constant stream of 360-images as they zoom through urban centers, savannahs, high-altitude plateaus, and stunning sea sides. You can literally jump to just about any street you can think of and see for yourself exactly what it looks like. You can study the buildings, the passersby, the sidewalks, the shops, the road surfaces themselves, the soil and terrain, the trees and vegetation, even the wildlife, literally everything available to the eyes. Do you want to know exactly what the terrain is like at the opening to I-50’s Eisenhower Tunnel in western Colorado? No problem. Do you want to see which shops and restaurants adorn New York’s Times Square? Easy. Do you want to track the exact route between London’s Piccadilly Circus and Heathrow International, and capture all the sights along the way? Done.

What a resource to travelogue authors everywhere. Jack Kerouac never could have imagined this.

Of course, these research tools don’t fill in all the gaps. Your imagination still has to bring these still images to life. And of course the eyes only account for one of the five(ish) senses. You still have to fill your story with the endless sounds, smells, and tactile details needed to create a truly rich and diverse literary experience.

That said, Google Street View really is the perfect place to start. Unless your story is set on Mars. Except, actually, Google is working on that too

Evan BraunEvan Braun is an author and editor who has been writing books for the last two decades. He is the author of The Watchers Chronicle, whose third volume, The Law of Radiance, has just been released. He specializes in both hard and soft science fiction and lives in the vicinity of Winnipeg, Manitoba.