Post NaNoWriMo Editing Sale!

Please note: this sale has ended!


Hello to all you NaNoWriMo participants and winners! I hope that you achieved your goal for the month… whether that was to churn out 50,000 words of Nobel Laureate-worthy prose or just to get back in the swing of creative writing. Me? I didn’t get the word count, but I did get some work done on my work-in-progress, so go me!

Now that we’re all done celebrating our writerly prowess and awake again after our turkey comas, it’s time to… keep writing more! And making sure it’s the best it can be.

I promised a sale on editing services in honor of NaNo (you don’t have to be a winner), so here it is: 25% off of ALL services, big and small. Check my rates here. For work that I don’t charge a per-word rate for, we’ll go through a friendly negotiation and then take 25% off of that.

That’s not all. If you want to sample my services and see what it’s like to work with me in the easiest way, I’ve got deal the for you. Send me up to 5,000 words, and I’ll give it an edit and brief commentary for $35 flat. Simple! (In case you were wondering, that’s $0.007/word!)

“You’re crazy!!” you are probably saying. Nope. Just excited to see what everyone is working on. So contact me today so we can start talking about making your masterpiece even better. It’s going to be fun.

(Offer ends January 31, 2014. Resolve to take advantage of this deal before it’s gone! (See what I did there?!) And again – you don’t have to have had anything to do with NaNoWriMo this year to take advantage of this offer.)

NaNoWriMo: Halfway home. Stuck yet??

Hi, everybody! Sorry I dropped off the map. Between NaNo and the nice little boost of editing and non-profit work you’ve been sending my way (many thanks to you all!), I’ve been busy. I suppose that as soon as I committed to NaNo and started running the sale on non-profit consulting, that work would ensue… but I have room for more! Please contact me today to get some great deals on editing. I am super-fun to work with, if I do say so myself. And as I recall, I promised you all a NaNo editing special. That’s still coming, I just needed to put it off a bit. Look for it around Thanksgiving.

End PSA. On with the post!


Today is the end of the first half of NaNoWriMo. Dun-dun-dunnnnn!

Hit the doldrums yet?! I hope not. But if you did, here’s a few more ideas to get you going again:

  • Write from a different/new character viewpoint. New blood = new story.
  • Do something random. Add a flock of menacing ducks. An angry bank teller. Have an alien invasion at the mall. Make all the zombies start getting better. You know… weird stuff.
  • Talk out your story situation with friends or family. Have them give you random ideas for new conflict and then draw one from a hat.

Or maybe this is you: “I missed three days, and am waaaay behind. Help!”

  • Don’t panic.
  • Worry even less about typos.
  • Worry even less about the story making sense – as long as you can keep it going in a good/fun direction.
  • Make sure that you end your writing day in the middle of a scene rather than completing it. That way you know what you are going to write right off the bat next session, and it will be easier to get going.
  • Remove yourself from your normal situations. For example: Use an app that counts words, but isn’t one that you typically use or go outside or to a cafe to write.
  • Set up a reward system. Make it good. What are your favorite little things in life? Do that for yourself.
  • A couple of cheapies, but goodies: stretch descriptions and conversations. Make characters wax eloquent about otherwise boring details in a fun way. Describe every hair on the back of the murderous cat that is the villain of your sci-fi, alternate history.

Whatever you have to do to get that word count! And that brings up the question: what are YOU doing to keep yourself going? Share in the comments! You might help someone achieve their NaNo goal today.

Keep going, everybody! You can do it! Have a blast.

I’ll try to post sooner rather than later, but I’ll not make any specific promises. And please send me some more work! 🙂

NaNoWriMo Tools – Part 5: Three Reasons I Write to Music

Not every writer likes to write to music, but many do. I am one of those.

Here are 3 reasons that I rock out to get my word count.

  1. Concentration. Music sort of walls in my head and helps keep aural distractions to a minimum. And that is something that really, really helps for NaNoWriMo – especially if you haven’t hit your daily word count goal for the day. Also, I never would have been able to do NaNo on a busy, noisy train without good headphones and loud music.
  2. Create different moods for different scenes. I have different playlists set up for different emotions. Need angry or determined? Cue up some raucous, kick-butt movie music. Contemplative? Chill electronic or trance. Romance? A playlist of 1970s movie love themes. It works. No, really, it does.
  3. Motivation. Sometimes it’s hard to get going, so I put on some music and wait for the muse to show. She generally comes riding in on the wings of heroic movie soundtracks.

Type of music is definitely important to me. Here are 3 of my favorite music types for writing.

  1. Instrumental Soundtracks. So many moods… and almost no words to get in your brain. Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, Hanna, Conan the Barbarian (the Schwarzenegger version of course), and How to Train Your Dragon are among my favorites.
  2. Electronic and New Age. Two different types of energy and again… no words. For electronic, I just put on Spotify or iTunes radio and go. For New Age… can’t go wrong with Mannheim Steamroller’s Fresh Air series.
  3. The music of the 1980s. Yes they have words, but I know all these songs from my childhood so well, that I don’t ‘hear’ the words any more. Lots of pep really gives me forward momentum. Your milage may vary.

(Why no classical? I can listen to some classical, but I find it extremely distracting since I have two degrees in French horn performance. All of my music theory classes kick in, and I’m down the rabbit hole of analysis!)

Please share you favorite writing music in the comments!

And that does it for my NaNoWriMo Tools series! Hope you enjoyed it. If you missed the other installments, see Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4.

NaNoWriMo Tools – Part 3: Get Organized

I know. know. I can see you squinting at me.

I said that too much organization for NaNoWriMo was a bad, bad thing.

But some of you are going to do it anyway, either because you have the experience to make it work or because you’re freaky control freaks (not judging, truly) and need to know what’s coming for your story to feel comfortable.

Here’s the thing: organizational tools are also super-helpful if you really get in a snag mid-month. And it will likely happen to all of us to some degree.

Here are some of my favorite organizational tools for noveling. (And remember, I’m a Mac guy, so these will mostly be for that platform. Please, please chime in with options for PC in comments!

Curio

This is the mac daddy of all organizational tools for Mac (see what I did there?). You put your thinking down in documents called ‘idea spaces,’ and they are awfully powerful. You can do hierarchical lists, mindmaps, and tables; pull in pictures, video, audio, PDFs, Word docs, weblinks… all in the same space. Everything is customizable, so you can change the backgrounds to colors or pictures or tiles, make a bright green list, or a rainbow mindmap. I find the visual stimulation inspiring. It’s especially great for worldbuilding and creating characters. Head over to Zengobi’s website to see just how powerful Curio is. And, it seems to be on sale right now. Go get it.

Scapple

This little gem is made by the guys that brought you Scrivener, and will be great to help you get out of a jam in the middle of NaNo. At first blush, it seems like a mindmapping tool, but it’s really not (though you can use it that way). I didn’t understand what it truly brought to the table until I started using it. Scapple allows you to quickly get bursts of information and ideas down… with zero hierarchy. This allows you to then find connections that you didn’t know existed. I can imagine getting stuck in the story in November and using this to get me out of it. Just put the current story and character elements that are tripping you up into their own little chunks, start throwing out some ideas. You’ll find the connections between them in no time… and those connections will generate story. And just like that, you’re back on track.

Mindmapping Tools

I’m not much of a mindmapper, and I don’t have a dedicated mapping program, but here’s a handy link to a recent article on some good options. If you cotton to mindmaps, let us know how you use them and why in the comments!

Scrivener

Scrivener again?? “You’re obsessed!” you’re saying. Yes, I am. It’s great program for writers. And it organizes too. Its basic text-handling structure is an outline, and it has both outline and index card views. And there’s more: a section dedicated to research documents (which don’t count against your word count), as well as character and place sketches and more. Since the text is married to an outline structure, moving scenes to a better position is a snap.

Personal Wiki

This isn’t for NaNo necessiarily, but I thought I’d mention it. A personal Wiki can be a great tool to use for worldbuilding. Imagine having an encyclopedia that you wrote yourself with everything about your world including all the internal links that make Wikipedia the beautiful time-suck that it is. You’ll have to learn the Wiki markup syntax, but if you’ve ever even dabbled in HTML or a similar markup language, then getting up to speed won’t be at all difficult. Here’s a PC Magazine article about how to setup and use personal wikis.

Whether it’s for NaNoWriMo or not, what tools do you use to stay organized as you trundle through your text?

4 Reasons To Try NaNoWriMo: Amateurs

“I’m not a writer.”

You and many others like you said it, but I don’t believe you or them! Here are four reasons you should try NaNoWriMo:

  1. If you’ve ever said to yourself: “Hey… wouldn’t this be kinda cool to see in a movie or story?” Of course you have. This is your chance to finally create that show-stopping scene involving dolphin ninjas, their alien abductors, and the original Broadway cast of Les Mis.
  2. A new challenge for you and your friends. Make it social. Throw some writing parties. Talk trash. (Your character’s mama is so stupid…) It’s more fun with other people. (Sign up for NaNo at their website! There are forums and local writing groups for fun and moral support.)
  3. To find the story lurking in your heart and brain and guts. They say that we all have one good novel in us. I say we all have more than one… but you have to have a good reason to get that first one out. With NaNo, you can. No muss, no fuss.
  4. So you can say: I am a novelist. Maybe you won’t get published or self-publish, but you did it. You wrote a book. And isn’t that freakin’ cool?! Yes. Yes it is.

What other reasons do you have for writing your book? Let us know in the comments… and happy writing!

NaNoWriMo is coming. Are you ready?

NaNoWriMo2013ScrivScreenshotIt’s coming.

It’s time to write the novel you’ve always wanted to write.

Don’t fear the blank page!

Sign up at NaNoWriMo.org today, then follow along here for tips to get you ready. And when your masterpiece is complete on November 30, come back and get it polished up by The Refined Word.

And get Scrivener, a great tool for novel-ing at the speed of NaNo.

Link

As writers, we’re always looking for something, some system to not only increase our productivity, but also increase the quality of said production. There are tons of ideas about this floating around on the web, from the micro-level minutiae of Getting Things Done-type systems to the time-based systems like the Pomodoro Technique.

But maybe the answer is in biology!

Check out the link below. As a former professional French hornist, I can attest that this kind of productivity rhythm works. What works for you? Shoot me a link in the comments!

Why You Need To Unplug Every 90 Minutes | Fast Company | Business + Innovation.