Guest Post: Caroline — Tech Tools

Tech Tools Every Writer Should Invest In

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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!

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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.

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. You can find her hanging out online at www.lynncrain.blogspot.com, https://www.facebook.com/LynnCrainAuthor, and on Twitter, @oddlynn3. She loves hearing from her readers at lynncrain@cox.net.

The Importance of Reading as a Writer

Hi, all, Jennifer here!steking

I’ve had a revelation this summer. (Of sorts)

And here it is: Reading makes me a better writer.

Wow, hardly earth-shattering, right? I know. We’ve all heard this before. But not until a few months ago have I really seen it affect my writing. But what I also realized was that this summer I’ve read more books outside my own genre. I’ve read young adult, women’s fiction, and A LOT of non fiction.

I saw my writing change when I had to do major edits recently. Without much effort at all, I was able to add 8,000 words to my manuscript. And best of all, my editor loved what I wrote.

With one more month left to summer, I plan to take advantage of this time and add even more books to my reading list. It’s actually been kind of fun finding books I wouldn’t normally read.

A few of my favorites have been:

NIGHT by Elie Wiesel  The author reflects on the enduring importance of Night and his lifelong, passionate dedication to ensuring that the world never forgets man’s capacity for inhumanity to man. Night offers much more than a litany of the daily terrors, everyday perversions, and rampant sadism at Auschwitz and Buchenwald; it also eloquently addresses many of the philosophical as well as personal questions implicit in any serious consideration of what the Holocaust was, what it meant, and what its legacy is and will be.

ME BEFORE YOU by Jojo Moyes Lou Clark knows lots of things. She knows how many footsteps there are between the bus stop and home. She knows she likes working in The Buttered Bun tea shop and she knows she might not love her boyfriend Patrick. What Lou doesn’t know is she’s about to lose her job or that knowing what’s coming is what keeps her sane. Will Traynor knows his motorcycle accident took away his desire to live. He knows everything feels very small and rather joyless now and he knows exactly how he’s going to put a stop to that.
What Will doesn’t know is that Lou is about to burst into his world in a riot of colour. And neither of them knows they’re going to change the other for all time.

Do you have a favorite book you’ve read this summer?

Also, my romantic comedy WEDDING DATE FOR HIRE is on sale right now for 99 cents for one more week.

Grab me while you can!InstagramWDFH

 

About Jennifer Shirk

Jennifer Shirk is a USA Today bestselling sweet romance author for Montlake and Entangled Publishing who also happens to be a mom, pharmacist, Red Sox fan, P90x grad, and overall nice person. Check out her latest sweet romance: BARGAINING WITH THE BOSS.

Self-Styled Writers Retreats, Part Two

writer retreat 2This is the second part of last month’s post, in which I describe the outcome of our writing get-together. I’m writing this blog post in June because I wanted our “results” to be fresh in my mind.

Please note that while I’m dividing up what we completed, a great deal of it was things we accomplished together.

I:

  • Did a complete read-through of a 96k manuscript without some of the other POV scenes in it for consistency and pacing.
  • Finished plotting a full-length novel from the mid-point to the end.
  • Came up with my catchy new tagline.
  • Edited my manuscripts blurb and tagline.
  • Got through one half of my first-round of big edits on my manuscript.

Our friend:

  • Added over 20k words to a story she was taking from novella-length to full-length.
  • Plotted a series of fantasy novels.
  • Worked on her secret project. I’m not sure of all the details, but I know she was happy with the amount she accomplished.

Landra:

  • Finished the final seven chapters on a full-length contemporary romance she’s been writing.
  • Outlined and plotted not one, but two stories.
  • Edited the entire second 50k novella in her Alternate History series.

Together, we all accomplished far more than we would have alone. Not only were we there to brainstorm with one another, but when you’re the only one in the room not working, you pick up your notebook or your laptop, and you start again.

We went out for dinner, there was an afternoon in the hot tup (with a writing notebook, to be fair), there was happy hour at the hotel (or in our room) every evening–but we still managed to accomplish an amazing amount of work in four days.

I will (and hope to) do it again in a heartbeat.

Have you had a similar experience? What’s your best tip for working in tandem?

About Lori Sizemore

Lover of nail polish, pens, her Kindle, and fresh coffee. She likes romance filled with messy, real characters and lots of snarky banter. Reading was (and still is!) her BFF; when she discovered writing she fell in love. Come for the snark. Stay for the story.

The Long Ride Home

Surprise, surprise…look who’s back on the blog! I’d love to be here today to share tales of adventures across the sea, of long lazy trips around the world or trekking through the jungles looking for long lost treasures to add the little authentic touches to my romances, but alas, I cannot. My absence has more to do with a divorce, a physical move, an emotional exploration and finding love…ahhh, now there is something I can spin a tale about *wink*

A year ago I took a chance and met a man for a drink after work, and if you’ve ever heard the expression, “you could be my long ride home,” it was a feeling that hit me as he sat down next to me that night. Something simply clicked and that “quick” drink after work turned into a 6 hour date that went from bar stools, to a sunset walk along the shore, and ended at a coffee shop over caramel lattes and a fudge brownie.

On the way home, this song came on my favorite country station and matched the beat of my heart as it warmed to the idea that I just might have met someone special…my long ride home. I hadn’t planned or expected to meet anyone that soon into my separation, but sometimes the fates have other plans and put people in your path at times you don’t expect, at times that may even seem like the wrong time.

For the first time in a very long time, I didn’t think, I didn’t try to reason or rationalize…I simply let the moment happen and absorbed it.

I hope he knows what he means to me…Enjoy the song and I’d love to know if you have  a song that reminds you of the moment you knew you found that someone special.

 

About Debora Dennis

A believer in second chances and that time should never be an obstacle to finding love, Debora writes time travels with modern snark and spice! When she's not writing, she's spending time with her family, reading, or trying to figure out a way to get chocolate into every dish she serves.

Self-Styled Writer Retreats

SELF-STYLEDTwo friends and I are meeting this week for a mini-writers retreat. It’s not at a B&B, scheduled by some entity with time built in for socializing, writing, and critiquing–all on someone else’s schedule. And it’s not a conference.

We have an agenda. I’m personally planning to finish plotting a full-length novel and discuss synopses for my now complete novellas set in 1958 Las Vegas (I mentioned those a couple of months ago).

We’re literally meeting at a hotel nearby to create writing synergy. Synergy is one of those business buzz-words overused so much it’s lost its meaning, but it does have a definition.

Synergy, according to dictionary.com, means:

the interaction of elements that when combined produce a total effect that is greater than the sum of the individual elements, contributions, etc.

What happens, when writers get together to brainstorm and share ideas and energy, is nothing short of amazing. Work gets finished in half the time and it’s of better quality than what one writer could produce alone.

I’m struggling to describe the phenomenon, so instead I promise to tell you next month what the three of us accomplished in our four days together.

See you next month!

If you’ve experienced something similar, please post about it in the comments. And, if not, consider getting together with few writing friends, even for one dedicated day, to see what you can accomplish.

About Lori Sizemore

Lover of nail polish, pens, her Kindle, and fresh coffee. She likes romance filled with messy, real characters and lots of snarky banter. Reading was (and still is!) her BFF; when she discovered writing she fell in love. Come for the snark. Stay for the story.

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