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Get it Write
December 2019

I hope the holiday season isn't too hectic for you and you're enjoying the time spent with friends and family. I've been very busy this year and have several projects going right now.
  • Project #1: Republication of my business novel, Taking the Mystery Out of Business. I hired a book cover artist to design a new cover and the book layout, and he's doing a great job. Once the manuscript is ready, I'll be republishing it on Amazon in both paperback and eBook formats. Then, Shawn and I will move on to...
  • Project #2: Republication of my mystery novel, Second Time Around. Shawn will be creating a new cover for this book, as well, and redesigning the layout. I don't have plans to republish this until a few months after the business book is published.
  • Project #3: A standalone novel that involves gaslighting, securities fraud, and IRS investigations. I'm about 75% of the way through the first draft.
  • Project #4: The first novel in a series about 5 siblings. This book involves the main character's great-grandmother invading her dreams in an attempt to use Karma to rebalance the scales. I'm about 2/3 of the way through this one and, so far, am dealing with arson and a stalker. I wouldn't be surprised if I actually finish this one before Project #3...
  • Project #5: My friend, Herb Holeman, and I wrote a mystery/thriller and we're in the process of getting it ready for publication. More on that as it moves up the list on my To-Do list.
Of course, I'm still developing and writing all my insurance courses, as well as teaching 2-3 webinars each week. I'm also crocheting lap afghans in my spare time; I donate them to a local nursing home. The ones I've designed and made during the past few months will be distributed to half a dozen residents who don't normally receive Christmas presents.

I hope you're doing what you love to do. Merry Christmas, and have a happy, healthy, productive New Year!

Writing Tips and Resources
Writer's Digest is an EXCELLENT magazine. If you don't subscribe, you should--it's not expensive. Here's a link to subscribe to its FREE weekly newsletter. While you're on the website, check out all the resources it provides.

Like to read mysteries, thrillers, or crime novels? Here's a list of the books published by members of Mystery Writers of America this month (December 2019):

I'll be judging the first round of entrants in RWA's RITA contest this year. Even if you don't read or write romance, RWA is (in my opinion) the best writer's organization for providing members with information about publishing, and providing the in-person, face-to-face support of other writers. No matter where you are in the U.S., you're probably close to a local chapter. RWA also has chapters online and in Canada.
Hey, Writers: Ever Heard of Scrivener?
I attended the New England Crime Bake last month for the second year in a row. Once again, I came home with the BEST advice and innumerable insights that have helped me immeasurably with my writing.

This year, one of the panelists at a workshop I attended, a multi-published author, mentioned that she uses Scrivener to write her books and wouldn't consider writing a book using any other tools/software. I checked the software out, was impressed, and downloaded the free trial.

What appealed to me about the software was its claims that I could not only write my book in the software, I could also keep all my research notes, photos, resources, resource URLs, etc. in the same program AND refer to them while I was writing. Here's why this appealed to me, and why I didn't hesitate to spend the very reasonable $49 fee for a license to the product:
  • I'd been writing my books (and all my works in progress) in Microsoft Word
  • I'd been keeping all my story notes, research, resources, images, URLs, etc. in Microsoft OneNote
  • I had to keep 2 programs open all the time when I was writing (or plotting, or researching), and switch back and forth between them (when traveling, or working on my laptop, this proved to be a difficult task--especially with respect to way saved my files in the cloud and had my syncing between devices set up)
There was a little learning curve once I started using Scrivener, but that was shortened immensely by the fact that I read the entire manual while I had the program open before I began doing anything with it. (I didn't bother reading the fourth section of the manual Final Phases, until after I'd been using the software for a while.)

I absolutely ADORE Scrivener. One of my favorite things about it is I can write each scene separately. Sure, if I want to write each chapter with all its scenes intact, I can do that, too. But if something comes to me and I just want to write, I have that flexibility. All the scenes, chapters, folders, etc. are kept in a Binder that shows in a navigation pane. I can move anything around by simply clicking and dragging.

For those of you who HAVE to outline and write in order, Scrivener lets you do that. For those of you who write organically, you can just write scenes and then stitch them together later. And for those of you like me, who outline AND write organically depending upon the moment ... and the characters it's wonderful.

You can use Scrivener with Microsoft and Mac, and you can easily export the files of your choice into any of the following formats: DOC, DOCX, PDF, RTF, TXT, ODT, HTML, XHTML, PS, EPUB, MOBI, MMD, FODT, OPML, and TEX.

Do any of you use it? If so, tell me what you do and don't like about it? If you don't use it, check it out!

Here's the link for Scriveners for Windows, and here's the link for Scrivener for Mac OS, and here's the link for Scrivener for iOS.
Advice to the discouraged, or "aspiring," writer...
I remember the days when I never told anyone I was a writer. Actually, back then, I viewed myself as an "aspiring" writer. Which is really silly. If you're writing, you're a writer. End of story.

Yes, there is a difference between published and unpublished writers. But the difference doesn't necessarily have anything to do with how much time a person spends writing!

I've been writing since I was 10-years-old. By the time I joined MWA and RWA in the late 1980s, I'd already penned numerous short stories, a newspaper column, and a novel. When I moved to Montana in 2003, my life changed in a lot of ways--especially my life as a writer. I established an insurance education business and not only wrote the insurance courses I taught to my clients, a number of insurance organizations began to hire me to write their insurance courses, too! As is often the case, the momentum of doing all that business writing spurred me to write more fiction. Between 2008 and 2011, I wrote and published my first 2 books, along with dozens of magazine articles and close to a hundred insurance texts.

I've experienced my share of rejection letters, storylines that practically wrote themselves and then fizzled out after Chapter 4, and and all the other setbacks we writers experience. But I always kept writing.

If you find yourself dejected because your writing isn't going in the direction you want it to, please, do not allow yourself to get so discouraged you quit. Quitting should NOT be an option.

I can't emphasize how much better a writer I am now that I've penned those millions of "insurance" words. I wouldn't have half the self-discipline, the ability to meet all my deadlines, and the talent to write just about any type of content to spec. And although my work as the writer and course developer of insurance texts earns me more money than any other job I've ever had, it allows me plenty of time to write my fiction.
(Of course, it took me 30 years of working in the insurance industry to get to that point, but I've been doing it for 10 years, now!)

I have 4 tips for anyone who's discouraged and needs some quick and easy advice to keep them writing:
  1. Write anything, especially if you're current project is on the back burner because of writer's block ... or life's interference. Write blog posts. Letters to the Editor. Facebook rants. Journal pages each morning. A newsletter article for work.  A short story. Something. Anything. Just make sure you write  every single day.
  2. Join a writer's group, there are plenty of them out there. I'm a member of 6, the  national and local chapters of Mystery Writers of America, Romance Writers of America, and Sisters in Crime. It doesn't matter what you like to write--Horror, Fantasy, Erotica, or Memoirs--there's a writer's organization for you.
  3. Connect with at least one other writer so you can talk about writing and share the ups and downs.
  4. Subscribe to Writer's Digest. It covers all aspects of the publishing industry, all types of writing, and it offers contests and an endless wealth of info. You can subscribe and receive a paper magazine, or you can receive the magazine electronically. (P.S. I submitted short stories to its annual contest 2 years in a row. Didn't place the first time, placed 15th of 4,000 entrants the second time and my story was published as one of the top 25 entrants.)
Feel free to email me with any questions if you're hitting a rough spot, or if you want to share any part of your writing journey.
Feel free to reach out to me with questions, comments, or just to chat!

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