Monday, February 19, 2024

I Wish I Knew Then What I Know Now

 

Previously posted on a different blog as a guest blogger.

 

 I began writing in prehistoric times, when dinosaurs roamed the earth and writers pecked on typewriters. I had no idea computers, software, hardware, printers and emails were waiting in the future.

One morning I woke to birds chirping and mammoths trumpeting and decided I wanted to be a writer. Except for a few well-received essays in high school and a handful of English courses in college, I had absolutely no background in writing. I didn't even know what a thesaurus was. I just knew I enjoyed creating stories.

The one thing I did have in my empty toolbox was a knowledge of books. I loved reading. I was a voracious reader. And while voracious may not work anymore to describe my reading, I still plow through several books a month. How can anyone not read? But I'm getting off topic. So armed with my ideas, I began to write. This was challenging on a couple of levels. Creating a story and getting it on paper. 

Today creativity is my major challenge. Then, getting words on paper.

Each typed page needed to be proofed before it left the typewriter and, unless you were a perfect typist which I wasn't, involved a lot of white paint--correction fluid--from a little bottled called Wite.Out. Wite.Out was a secretary's and writer's best friend. Yes, back in the dark ages, people were called secretaries instead of admin assists.

After typing  out the manuscript, which usually involved several hundred pages, came the rewrites. Say you did a serious change on page ten that involved adding a scene or scenes that ran into extra pages. If you were lucky, you only had to retype that chapter then go back and use your trusty Wite.Out to change the following page numbers of the rest of your manuscript. Yup, the good ole days.

Next step was finding a home for your story. Again, there was no computer to do a quick search of who wanted what. The Writer's Market Guide was, and probably still is for those who don't publish Indie, an invaluable tool. I spent hours combing through pages looking for the appropriate home for my genre.

After I drew up a list, I began to send out my stories. Remember this was still the ice age and typewriters and carbon paper still roamed the earth. There were no emails, no attaching three chapters and hitting the send button. Instead it was purchasing legal size envelopes, stuffing your letter and chapters inside and heading for the post office. Then waiting and waiting and waiting some more, for a response that sometimes never came. In that respect, things haven't changed have they? Oftentimes when you did get a response, it was a form rejection letter--something else that I imagine hasn't changed--and you started back at square one. Other times, the publishing company or agent wanted to see the entire manuscript. Then it was off to the supply store to buy a box to mail your manuscript in and have copies made. It was a fairly pricey and time-consuming process.

Researching was also more challenging than it is now. The information was there, but not at your fingertips. Instead or tapping a few keys and doing a search, you had to track down physical books, which usually meant hitting the library or a bookstore.

And there was no self-publishing unless you went vanity and paid for it.


 

Since those days I have added to my toolbox and am always on the lookout for new tools. I have a few that I'd like to share, which you may already know of and use.

For synonyms I use Power Thesaurus.  https://www.powerthesaurus.org

For covers: pixelstudio. https://www.fiverr.com/pixelstudio I love this group They are so helpful and their prices are unbelievably reasonable

For those of you who make your own covers, trailers and or memes: Book Brush. https://wwww.bookbrush.com or Canva. 

AND

For general information and support for most aspects of writing and publishing, IWSG.

So, back to the beginning: If I'd known then what I know now, I would have probably waited a few years to start writing. 😀


Sandra







Monday, February 12, 2024

Using Macros in Your Writing Process

 A more efficient way to write and edit - by Lynda Dietz


For every person who uses macros, there are probably at least two who have never heard of them or who think they’re too complicated—and therefore scary—to bother with. But have no fear! There are a good number of them out there, ready to install and use in Microsoft Word, that can help your writing.

 

What is a macro?

A macro is simply a string of computer commands that allows you to run a set of tasks easily and automatically. You can write your own, or you can install macros that have been written by someone who loves doing that kind of stuff.

 

As a fiction editor, I receive manuscripts that range from neatly formatted to mildly chaotic, and starting with a level playing field can make all the difference in the world. The distraction of having to stop reading every few minutes to change a random straight quote to a curly quote, or something equally tedious, can really slow down progress and break my train of thought.

 

Who can use macros?

Many book editors use macros to streamline the editing process, often as a “clean sweep” type of tidying before getting down to the nitty gritty of reading through a project. Others use them at the end of a writing session to clean up any lingering errors.

 

Writers can use macros too! They can be a helpful tool for writers of all types at any stage of writing.

 

If you’d like to start off with some simple macros you can get for free, Paul Beverley is the guy to go to. He has written hundreds of macros that are easy to use for writers in all fields, and not only does he make them all available for free—really free, not even a “sign up for my mailing list to get these”—he also provides tutorials on YouTube and in the macro downloads.

 

Wisely, Paul suggests starting slowly to get used to using the ones you need most. In his downloadable (and regularly updated) book, Macros for Editors, he breaks down the favorite macros based on user feedback, work type, and more. He also provides a “macro menu” that lists the macros by function, and also dates the newer macros, saying “the chances are that the more recent macros are (a) better programmed and (b) likely to be more useful.”

 

My most-used macros

As you’d expect, I have a handful of macros I’d rather not live without. As per Paul Beverley’s advice, I installed only one at a time, getting used to using each before installing another.

 

I’ve programmed most of my macros with the keys shift + alt + [letter] because I don’t tend to use the shift + alt combo for other things, and they’re often not assigned already on the keyboard.

 

My favorites are DocAlyse, ProperNounAlyse, MerriamFetch, SwapWord, CatchPhrase, and WordPairAlyse. I probably should say “my favorites so far,” since I plan to install more over time. If you’d like to find out more about what these six do and how I use them, visit my blog post “Using Macros in Your Writing Process” for the full explanation.

 

Benefits of using macros

If you’re a writer, one of the best benefits of using macros is that you’ll be able to clean up your document really well before hiring an editor. A cleaner manuscript can often mean a difference in editing costs.

 

Macros can ensure consistency when styling headers, spelling names, or formatting tables, to name a few applications. Macros don’t get fatigued when reading through a document, so you’re not as likely to miss anything.

 

Macros can help prevent repetitive use injuries by reducing the number of keystrokes needed for certain tasks. A few strokes may seem like no big deal, but they add up. Consider the macro EmDashUnspaced, which removes punctuation, adds an unspaced em dash and lowercases the next character. A two- or three-key combo to use the macro is far preferable to all that typing and removing.

 

Macros can help you speed through tedious tasks. There comes a point in every writer or editor’s life when the larger, hour-saving improvements have been made, and what remains are smaller improvements that may save seconds or minutes. But again, it all adds up.

 

Most of Paul Beverley’s macros provide a report in a separate document, so you don’t have to go through your entire doc to find highlighted items. You can examine only the ones you need to.

 

You can find the Macro Menu, which lists all the macros Paul Beverley has included in his macro book (so far), along with a description of what they do, right here. The menu is invaluable for when you’re starting out, listing macros by function and type.

 

Whether the macro takes care of something simple or complex, they’re well worth exploring. Find one you like, try it out, and I can almost guarantee you’ll go looking for another one that suits your needs.

 


Lynda has never lost her fascination with the written word, from her earliest years of reading the back of the cereal box at the breakfast table to reading manuscripts of up and coming authors. Book hangovers are a regular occurrence with no regrets. She copyedits in a variety of genres, both in fiction and creative nonfiction. She’s had a blog since 2013, where she encourages writers with advice and a healthy dose of silliness. She works with four assistants: her husband (The Bringer of Coffee), and three cats who are mostly worthless but very, very adorable.


Blog:
ERE Blog easyreaderediting.com/blog

Website:
easyreaderediting.com

Instagram:
@easyreaderediting

Medium:
https://medium.com/@lyndadietz4

Pinterest:
https://www.pinterest.com/lyndadietz4/

 

Wednesday, February 7, 2024

The Insecure Writer's Support Group Day and New #IWSGPit Date


It’s time for another group posting of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! Time to release our fears to the world – or offer encouragement to those who are feeling neurotic. If you’d like to join us, click on the tab above and sign up. We post the first Wednesday of every month. I encourage everyone to visit at least a dozen new blogs and leave a comment. Your words might be the encouragement someone needs.

The awesome co-hosts for the February 7 posting of the IWSG are SE White, Janet Alcorn, Victoria Marie Lees, and Cathrina Constantine!

February 7 question: What turns you off when visiting an author's website/blog? Lack of information? A drone of negativity? Little mention of author's books? Constant mention of books?


#IWSGPit Twitter Party


The next #IWSGPit will be March 27, 2024.
10:00 am - 8:00 pm Eastern Standard Time.

Create a Twitter-length pitch for your completed and polished manuscript and leave room for genre, age, and the hashtag. On Wednesday, March 27, 2024, Tweet your pitch using #IWSGPit. If your pitch receives a favorite/heart from a publisher/agent check their submission guidelines and send your requested query.

Many writers have seen their books published from a Twitter pitch - it’s a quick and easy way to put your manuscript in front of publishers and agents.

For hashtags and guidelines, visit our #IWSGPit page.

Do authors really find agents and publishers through a Twitter pitch party? Yes they do! Dancing Lemur Press, L.L.C. has found FIVE authors from this event, including one of our best sellers, Damien Larkin.

So, get your pitches ready for March!


What turns you off when visiting an author’s site? Will you be participating in #IWSGPit? Have you had success with a Twitter pitch party?