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Guest Post: Caroline — Tech Tools

Tech Tools Every Writer Should Invest In

caroline_tech-blog

Any good writer needs a little bit of help sometimes, and in today’s digital age, there are plenty of useful online tools and mobile apps that are available to help you find inspiration, stay organized and improve the quality of your writing. Here are some of our favorites.

Brainsparker
Every author knows how frustrating writer’s block can be, but there are plenty of tools that can encourage you to stop thinking and start writing. One of our favorites is Brainsparker, which provides users with thousands of potential writing prompts. It’s a great way to get your brain working, as all you have to do is shuffle the cards and pick a random prompt. You can use it to dream up topics for your next short story or simply do a quick exercise that gets you in the right frame of mind to write creatively.

Dragon
Many authors use voice dictation to help write their content. Some writers such as Jason Womack use voice dictation and recognition to write entire books while others use this technology to take down notes and inspiration quickly. Dragon is a useful voice dictation app that has great reviews, as many users note that it transcribes speech almost perfectly.

Evernote
Inspiration can strike at any time, and it is important for writers to be able to jot them down quickly and easily. Evernote is a note-taking app that allows you to do just that. It is available on various platforms, and it can be synced across several devices, so you’ll always have access to the notes you’ve made.

Grammarly
Grammarly is an online editing app that corrects spelling and grammar errors. While any good word processor has a spell-check facility, these built-in tools don’t always catch every mistake. Grammarly conducts in-depth checks to ensure your content is perfect for publication. It even offers up synonym suggestions to improve the readability of your writing.

Google Drive
It is important you back up all of your writing so you never lose any of your work if anything happens to your computer. Google Drive is one of the best online storage options, as users are provided with 15 gigabytes of free storage when they sign up for a Google account. Every document you upload is stored online, and your Google Drive can be synced across all of your devices.

To keep these online documents safe, you can use a Virtual Private Network (VPN). This adds an extra layer of protection when uploading your files online so unauthorized users cannot access your personal work. To find out which VPN best suits your needs, take a look at this VPN review from Secure Thoughts.

These tools are sure to help improve the quality of your writing as well as your overall productivity. Try them out and leave us a comment to let us know how they helped change the way you write!

*~*~*

Author Bio: Caroline is a tech blogger with a passion for creative writing. In her spare time, she enjoys writing poetry, plays and short stories. You can find her on Twitter at @CultureCovC.

About Beth Rhodes

Beth jumps into life with both feet...or head first. Impulsive and spontaneous to a T, she joined Passionate Critters and never looked back. She loves writing and reading, which made this wonderful group of woman a perfect match for her.

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Write Or Die ~ #LynnCrain #Productivity #amwriting #PCers

Yes, the title of my post this month is Write Or Die. And no, I don’t have a death wish but I’m in the last throes getting a project done and I needed something to help me with my productivity. Don’t we all need a little of that?

This is a very cool program and will help you to reach your goals if you use it consistently. You can find it here. On my regular desktop, which I still haven’t set up yet ~ bad me, I purchased it and love the program. There is also a web version that you can use anytime you want. Here’s a picture of the dashboard you’ll see:

write-or-die-50

The thing I like is that I can set my own goal, my time limit and I can tell it how I want to warn me when I’m not writing up to my potential. There are different types of modes as well as what you have it do to jolt you back to productivity. While this can be fun, it can be very frustrating as well. Especially if you’re like me and hooked to the internet all the time.

There are just some days one has to unplug themselves from the world and get a project done. I used to have little tricks to help me. Like locking my office door.  Then I got older and realized that I would have to answer if there were broken bones or blood involved. Such is life when you only have boys.

So, I decided to find something that would help me concentrate for short bursts of time thus making those short bursts very productive. I found this program years ago when I had more deadlines than I do today. It has helped me through many days where I needed to keep to a minimum word count but for some reason, my mind would wonder. I’d want to do research then continue doing research even though I had enough to produce the story.

Writing can be a struggle but for something who used to be a regular gamer, making it fun again can be important. Therefore, I’ll use this program until it’s no longer useful. Or who knows…maybe I’ll grow up and not need these little kicks…LOL!

If you all struggle with productivity, check out this article from Jane Friedman. She has all the latest and greatest to keep you on track.

I’d love to hear from you on what you do to keep yourself productive…see you all next time!

About Lynn Crain

Award winning author Lynn Crain has done it all in her life. From nursing to geology, her life experiences have added to her detail rich stories. She loves writing full time as she weaves contemporary, fantasy, futuristic and paranormal tales, tame to erotic, for various publishers. Her home is in the desert southwest and she’s just returned from her latest adventure of living in Vienna, Austria while her husband worked his dream job.

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First Ever Vlog

Happy Birthday to me! And my first ever Video Blog about what writers should know.

#awkward #fun #sendlipstick

….Apparently, I have none.

About Beth Rhodes

Beth jumps into life with both feet...or head first. Impulsive and spontaneous to a T, she joined Passionate Critters and never looked back. She loves writing and reading, which made this wonderful group of woman a perfect match for her.

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Inconceivable!

This morning a college friend posted on Facebook that he had never seen The Princess Bride. Inconceivable, yes? It’s the only movie I’ve ever seen in a movie theater more than once, and the second time I went by myself. So I started streaming it on Netflix as I stared at this blank blog page, trying to figure out what to write today. I got to this exchange between Vizzini and Inigo, as the Man in Black is climbing the Cliffs of Insanity:

V: “He didn’t fall? Inconceivable!”
I: “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

You can see the whole clip here, just because it’s awesome.

Anyway, it got me thinking. As writers, words are everything to us. Large and small, we agonize over every one we write. As an author of historical fiction, I not only have to agonize over every word and what it means, I need to think about whether the word actually existed in the time period of the book.  I keep a bunch of reference books on my desk and on my Kindle which help me find just the right word, and I have the OED, available online through my public library, bookmarked.

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If there’s even the slightest question a word might not mean what I think it means, I look it up. If there’s the slightest question a word didn’t exist in the 19th century, I look it up. And if I have used ‘smile’ 100 times (yes, it’s possible), I look for other words to replace them. And my editor takes out 90% of my ‘thats.’

So, what about you? What are your go-to sources for finding just the right word? And how many times have you seen The Princess Bride? 🙂

 

About Marin McGinnis

About Marin McGinnis Clevelanders are tough, a bit cynical, and just a little crazy, and Marin McGinnis is no exception. When she’s not chasing after big dogs or watching tweens skate around hockey rinks, she is immersing herself in Victorian era romance. She lives in Northeast Ohio with her husband, son, and two standard poodles named Larry and Sneaky Pete. You can find her here, at marinmcginnis.com, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, and Pinterest.

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Lead Me On

We talk often about what makes a good romance hero. And honestly, who doesn’t love it? I could go on for hours about what makes the perfect book boyfriend.

SONY DSCFor the sake of this discussion, what about the female lead? What is that something special about her that makes you want to buy into the story and keep reading? Strong motivation is absolutely vital, but I’m thinking more about personality. How does this person approach a challenge? What does their self-talk sound like? How do they treat others and what tack do they take when they interact with people?

Should they be sweet, smart, or sexy? From the hero’s POV, there’s no doubt they are all that and a bag of chips. But like it or not, as readers (and yes authors, but that’s a whole other kettle…) we feed into that equation. What draws a reader to fall in love with a character? Who do we enjoy or identify with? This is such a subjective thing, let’s do this – I’ll tell you my favorites if you tell me yours…

For the most part, I prefer what I call kick-ass with a heart of gold. Yes, they are considered “Strong”, but they are so much more IMO. Occasionally I love a funny, sweet, kind of ditzy character, yet I find myself consistently drawn to these serious types with a hint of darkness more often than not.

  1. Eve Dallas from the In Death series.
  2. Anita Blake from the Vampire Hunter series (mostly the earlier ones).
  3. Claire Fraser from Outlander.
  4. Alexa (Lex) Parrino from the Beyond series.
  5. Beth from the Black Dagger Brotherhood.

At the moment I’m having fun with May Wexler from Wrong Number, Right Guy. She’s just funny, all the way around.

So now it’s your turn. Who are some of your favorite female lead characters, and why?

About Sutton Fox

Sutton Fox has been published by Lyrical Press, Gypsy Shadow Publishing and wrote a bi-monthly column for an auto racing magazine for several years. She traded life in the hills of Bluegrass Country for life in the Windy City, in a home she shares with The Man, a lonely cat, and her beloved dog, Lucy. When she’s not working the edj, you can find her writing or spending time with her extended family.

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Things I Love About Series…

I love discovering new series—that wonderful feeling you get when you really enjoy a book and you know there are a whole load more to come. I love falling in love with characters and knowing I’m going to meet them again. And getting immersed in a world and knowing I’ll get to visit over and over and no doubt learn new things each time.

For the same reasons, I also love writing series. Usually, I don’t start out with the intention of writing more than one book, but then something occurs. This tends to be me falling madly in love with a secondary character and needing to know more about them (this has even happened with the ‘villain’ of a book who’s later found himself the hero of his own story.) Or I can’t bear the thought of saying goodbye to my hero and heroine—I have to know what happens to them—I want proof they are actually living their happily ever after.

Also, although I believe all stories should have a distinct beginning and an end, I love the idea that each individual story is just part of something bigger. A sort of snapshot in time, and there are a whole load of things going on either side of the beginning and the end that I just have to know about—I’m nosey!

So I start to write the next book—it’s a compulsion.

But things were a little different with my latest release, UNTHINKABLE.

unthinkable_v2-500UNTHINKABLE

They were promised a world with no more lies…

Jake Callahan, leader of the Tribe, has always believed he’s one of the good guys. Now, hunted by the government he used to work for, he’s taking a crash course in being bad. What he desperately needs is a bargaining tool, and that’s unfortunate for Christa Winters, daughter of Jake’s former boss.

Christa is a scientist, a total geek, and a good girl with a secret hankering for bad boys. Which turns out to be embarrassingly inconvenient when she’s kidnapped by a stunningly gorgeous—but obviously bad-to-the-bone—man intent on using her against the father she loves. A man with a seemingly uncanny ability to know exactly when she’s thinking about kissing him—which is most of the time.

But people are dying, and it becomes clear that the stakes are much higher than Jake ever imagined. Someone is out to obliterate the Tribe and everyone associated with it, including Christa. Only by working together to uncover the secrets behind the past, can they ever hope to have a future.

UNTHINKABLE is book 1 in my brand new Beyond Human series. And in this case, I set out with the intention of writing more than one book. Four in fact, and while each is a separate romance with a happy ever after, there is also an overall story arc (though I admit I don’t know exactly how book 4 will end.)

What about you—reading or writing—do you prefer a series or do you like your stories different each time?

About Nina Croft

Nina Croft grew up in the north of England. After training as an accountant, she spent four years working as a volunteer in Zambia which left her with a love of the sun and a dislike of 9-5 work. She then spent a number of years mixing travel (whenever possible) with work (whenever necessary) but has now settled down to a life of writing and picking almonds on a remote farm in the mountains of southern Spain. Nina writes all types of romance often mixed with elements of the paranormal and science fiction.

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