Saturday, January 25, 2014

Scrivener and Other Stuff

I usually thrive on Saturdays, but this one's kind of a bummer because Elijah is sooooo very grounded. I found out on Thursday night he had a science fair project due the next day (yesterday), and he never told me. Now he's spending today doing a science fair project that he probably won't even get credit for. I still need to run out at some point today and buy him his board and supplies and all that.

Plus my coffee machine broke. To not have my coffee on a Saturday morning is immediately starting my weekend off with a...okay, I wrote myself into a corner there. Let's just go with "It sucks."

I have a student teacher for the rest of the school year (I do realize I'm subject-jumping). I love having even a mediocre student teacher because it's a refreshing change of pace to have another adult to share ideas and lessons with, not to mention that two adults in the classroom lighten up the workload. But in this case, I was fortunate enough to get a pretty great student teacher. He's very proactive. In the two weeks we've been working together he already has a great grip on my students and has just about adopted 3rd and 4th period as his own. Plus he makes us COFFEE every afternoon just in time to get past the 6th/7th period lull...

We found PJ a home! (subject-jumping again). Shannon has a perfect fenced in area where Charlotte (her pig) lives, and she has agreed to take him in. PJ's new future home is lush and green, with overhangs to provide protection during bad weather. There's also a spicket of water, so he'll never go thirsty. He'll have freedom to hop around freely, but in a protected space, which he seems to crave.

Have I told you about my deaf dog yet? I'll save that one for a future entry.

In manuscript news, I had to adjust my word count goal for DoT, because it occurred to me that 100K is the maximum suggested word count for a young adult novel. To leave my goal untouched means that in order to reach 100% on my word meter, I'm guaranteed to have to go over the maximum, forcing me to make cuts. Unless by some miracle I end up with exactly 100,000 words, and what are the chances of that? So I brought my goal down to 90,000, just to give some 10K wiggle room. But now I'm about to have an anxiety attack because there is no way I can wrap this story up in 11,000 words. I'm screwed. I'm just going to write the thing and make lots of cuts when I go to revise.

I found an amazing program for writers called Scrivener. Although 'found' is a misnomer because it was actually recommended to me by a twitter friend/fellow writer, @_RScottWhitley (he and I were both part of the #WorldsEnd project). This program is designed for people who are writing a book, unlike Word, which is geared toward people writing an essay or a report. The program took me two days and several tutorials to learn, but now that I have it figured out, I was hooked. My favorite thing about it (although it's hard to choose one because there are so many cool features) is it allows you to save/print your book in ANY format, including paperback novel format, eBook format for Kindle, etc. You could literally skip the middle man with this program and create your own eBook with little to no outside assistance.

I might write another entry today because I'm feeling all blabbery.


  1. Oh man, I used to do homework and not turn it in when I was in jr. high. My mom got so freaking frustrated and I was grounded more than once. Anxiety about doing it wrong meant I never gave it over. I just about flunked science. lol

    Your kuerig broke? Or another coffee pot? Matt couldn't make it without coffee, so I just spent my whole evening running vinegar through my coffee pot trying to get the hard water cleaned out. We kill three or four coffee pots a year, but our current pot is pretty nice. So, I'm trying to keep it from kicking the bucket. And, I'm out of vinegar, so I'm hoping it's clean enough, because right now it's taking an hour to brew one pot.

    Glad you found PJ a home. That bunny is adorable! I couldn't have a bunny pet, my dogs would mess that furball up. lol.

    About your manuscript, could you just write until you're done and then break it into two books? If you can't finish in 100,000 words, then maybe... don't? I hate to cut stuff out, but my current novel is so messy and disordered, when I get done with it, it's going to take me at least as long to edit it as it did to write it in the first place. lol. I say cut yourself some slack, woman! ;)

    When I got my MacBook, I bought Scrivner but I've never used it. I've considered it, but it seems like a lot of work to learn to use it, so I just didn't. How would you move your WIP into Scrivner? Is it possible to import it from Word?

  2. Yes, it was my Keurig. :-( It was working perfectly yesterday, and today it won't even turn on. It's not the outlet either, because I tried two other outlets and it still wouldn't work. We're hoping Costco will exchange it, even though I've had it for several years. I'm sort of lost without it.

    PJ is the CUTEST. He is the friendliest rabbit I've ever met. I would keep him in a heartbeat if we didn't already have a male bunny. I even looked into getting him fixed so he could stay with us, but it turns out that even neutered males will fight.

    To answer your question about my MS, I don't think I can split it into two books because it would literally cut the story smack-dab in the middle of the rising action, leaving out the climax and resolution. Usually when a book has a sequel, at least one problem is resolved. For example, by the end of Hunger Games Katniss must still defeat the capitol, which requires a sequel to accomplish (or in this case, two). But the initial conflict (winning the Hunger Games) is resolved. So the reader gets a sense of closure while simultaneously looking forward to the larger problem being addressed. If I, on the other hand, cut my book down the middle, the reader would get NO closure whatsoever and would end up feeling frustrated that not a single issue was resolved.

    Yes, I imported my WIP from Word, although most of the features work best with a work-in-progress rather than a work-almost-done. Although I have enjoyed getting to see my MS as an eBook. :) Scrivener is super daunting if you try to figure out how to use ALL of its features, but if you just stick with the basics, it's not too bad. Once you're comfortable with it, you realize all of the cool things you were missing out on by sticking with Word. If you ever decide to give it another try, I recommend this tutorial: It's only ten minutes long but covers all the features that an aspiring novelist cares about. He goes a little fast, so I kept pausing it to try it out on my own screen before moving on.

    This response could have been its own blog post. :-D

    1. Won't be a bad idea if you still make it one! :)

    2. Oh my... I just checked out that video about Scrivner and am now wondering two things. First, what the hell am I doing using Word or Pages? And second, where was this when I was writing my thesis? Of course, I didn't get my MacBook until I graduated, but I had no idea there was a Windows version! Definitely going to give it another shot. Thanks, Jodi!!

    3. I saw your FB post regarding Scrivener--I'm thrilled you gave it another try! Although it's a bummer that it made you "see" that your story needed more direction. Yikes. But I guess better to figure that out now than when you're at 80K.

  3. I bet Costco will let you exchange the Keurig...they are great about returns (even years later!)

    I think all of my kids have pulled the waiting-until-the-last-minute thing for some huge project (well, except Shelby because she is only in Kindergarten). It always infuriates me, but I did the same thing as a kid! Do you remember when I waited the night before to do a science fair project? I ended up doing some stupid experiment on the different shapes water drops make when they splatter on different materials, and I wrote the thing with pen on cardboard. It was pretty lame!

    I'm looking forward to taking little PJ!

    1. Yes, I remember! That same year I went to Jacque's house and we did ours on what food would lure a guinea pig through a maze the fastest. We also scratched our project on cardboard boxes using pen. That was the project that took third place! I know it was because some judge took pity on us.

      Science fair projects are STUPID. And that's all I have to say about that.

      Shan, PJ is SO SWEET. He hops right up to you, even when he's outside. You guys are going to love him.

  4. PJ's new home sounds great! And I really, really love that we both have the same word count goal now. A part of me did a little ninja dance once I read that.

    Possibly, there might be scenes that you can cut but I'd say write to your heart's content first and then we'd figure the rest out. Trying to look at the wordcount might make you write a non-satisfactory climax, so give it all you've got.
    Also, an agent said a few days back on Twitter she'd be willing to consider speculative fiction up to 120-130K words. So I don't think it's really a big deal. The fantasy book I finished yesterday was I think---around 150K words, and it's a YA fantasy, I figure, since the major characters are below 19.
    Sorry this sounds repetitive but don't worry about that.

    Hope now you've got Scrivener covered, I'll be getting something from you soon!

    For me, I'm still dealing with my never-ending first act, although I might be done with it this week. But I hope to be ready by our deadline. :)

  5. Wow this comment made me feel 100% better about my current word count Ifeoma! You're right, I need to stop flinching every time I add words to my MS and just CHILL, finish the story the way I want it to play out, and worry about word count later.

    Your first act crisis has me laughing, shaking my head, and crying for you all at the same time. Did I ever tell you that I started writing DoT at the storage room scene? Yep, Stryder confronting Taz in the store room was where the book began. I went back a year later and wrote all of the prior chapters. The reason was simple: I struggle BIG TIME with BEGINNINGS. I had the story in my head, but setting the stage for the story seemed like such a daunting task at the time that I decided to dive straight into the juicy stuff and worry about it later. So my points (there's two of them, I think) are: 1. You're in good company with your first act struggles. We've ALL been there and feel your pain. 2. Consider taking breaks from your opening scene and start writing the book at a point you're more comfortable with. You can always go back later and re-work your opener.

    I hope I have more for you soon too, but the scene I'm at is tricky and requires a lot of finessing. I'm really struggling with it. A lot of it is the fact that I am NOT a crime-fiction writer, and the hold-up at Mel's is pulling me way out of my comfort zone.

    Another post-length comment. Will you people quit giving me such interesting stuff to respond to?? ;)

  6. :D It's always fun when you blog, so glad we're giving you ideas. ;)

    I have the same problem with having the plot in my head, but really confused on the way to get it right. But I'll go with your advice, and once I'm done with this rewrite (hopefully before Thursday), I'll write straight on to the end before coming back to see it again with new eyes.

    Hope you get through your chapter too! If it makes you any better, I just Googled "how to write a good suspense story". Hardyharhar.


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