Posts Tagged ‘Scrivener’

It always seems impossible until it’s done.

-Nelson Mandela

It’s done! Yes, Sir / Ma’am.


My first self-published title is available on amazon in e-book and print. Here’s the cover shot. Love the work by Fred Koop Design.

I’d like to say I now know how to format and upload, so the road will be easier next time. However…this time I copied my files from Scrivener, my writing program, to docx and then pdf for print, and to mobi for Kindle (I used Calibre to convert my docx to mobi). That was a stretch!

Next time I want to learn how to properly export the formatted files directly from Scrivener. So it will take a bit of time to figure this out, but once I do, it will save a number of steps in the process, and I can save the settings.

Just so you know, I have enrolled my book in the Kindle Select program, so it will be exclusive to Kindle for the next 90 days. After that, I will be free to upload it for Nook, Kobo and iBooks.

I’m very happy with the outcome of the book, but now I need to let others know. I’d long thought of starting an email list, but I didn’t even know how to begin. I thought it was the same as the list of people who follow my blog. Wrong.

The right way to begin is before the book is out. I didn’t do it that way, of course. But I wanted to learn how to make the email list work, so I took a free online course by Bryan Harris and jumped in with both feet. I made up a brief email note and sent it to every person on my contact list that could be even remotely interested. I asked if they would like to receive email updates about my indie publishing adventure. If so, they could send me their best email address and I would send them a link to my free e-book.

Important Point: You cannot use an email address to sell or give away product, or to send out advertising or blogs, without the express permission of the individual. That’s why even if you know the email address, you have to ask you for it before adding it to your email list.

I should have (famous last words) sent this ad campaign through Mailchimp, with which I have an account. I didn’t. Then the replies began to arrive and I was overwhelmed for several days, trying to keep track of who I had contacted, who had responded, and who had been sent the second email with the link to my free e-book. It was the “Sorcerer’s Apprentice Syndrome.” But that was only my first mistake.

I tend to make spectacular mistakes instead of small, neat ones. I realized, after I’d sent out the link to my free e-book, that it was only free to Kindle Unlimited users (who pay $9.99 or so a month for membership). Now what?

I called KDP in a panic and the rep said, “I think we can help you.” What a relief. I could set my book at no cost for 5 days. I did that immediately and that problem was solved.

And so the journey continues. The expectation of email list building is that you get 100 subscribers in a week, 1000 in three months, and 10,000 in ten months. Forgive me if I don’t have enough faith. But I’ll keep pursuing this at my own speed and see where it takes me. After all, I have a sequel to edit and format and upload…

I encourage any of you who wish to go independent that yes, you can do it. Keep at it. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. There are always solutions to problems.

Till next time, all the best with your self-publishing journey.

NOTE: If you don’t know the difference between docx and pdf, between epub and mobi; if you have never heard of Calibre or Scrivener or Mailchimp, do not despair. You can learn. Take another look at Mandela’s quote at the top of this article.

Scrivener is my absolute favorite writing tool/program. It’s inexpensive (I paid $40 USD a few years ago) and it’s user friendly. I took two online courses, one for general Scrivener use and one for Scrivener compile, and have all the notes. Read more about it HERE and on my blog from January 27, 2015.




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Please note: the blog below is written from personal experience with this program and is published here for the benefit of other writers, not for any monetary gain.



Scrivener Logo

I first discovered Scrivener (Scri-ve-ner) a few years ago on one of the listservs I subscribe to. It was touted as a great tool for writing, and at the time, I was in procrastination mode. No better delay device than a new program or tool to study. So I signed up for the free introductory month. While it did cost me some learning time, it was well worth it, and I bought the program shortly after.

Scrivener is a writing software program designed by a company called Literature & Latte.

Literature & Latte

According to the site, “Literature & Latte was founded in 2006 with the sole purpose of creating software that aids in the creative process of writing long texts.” There are templates for fiction, non-fiction, scriptwriting, poetry and lyrics, etc., and it’s available for either Mac or Windows.

To my understanding, the most basic difference between Scrivener and other writing programs is the perception of composition. Scrivener does not function in pages but in components.

Each component in a project can be titled, moved, edited, color-coded and viewed in various modes. The options are extensive, as are the applications. Also, the writer is able to assemble all information pertaining to the project in one place. I can be writing a scene, then click on a card that gives me the synopsis of that scene, then click on a character or setting photo, then include a live link to a website I wish to revisit. And if I’m really in procrastination mode, I can vary the color of my screen or change the font or…. Delicious decisions for a visual writer.

But this is just the composition mode. After my project is complete, or whenever I wish to print out a copy, I have more choices. For example, I can compile all the scenes from one point of view and print them, to check the timeline or flow of that narrative. The compile feature is something I’m still learning, but the capacity is there for me to format my story for e-book or print version.

My greatest learning helps for Scrivener have been the courses offered by Gwen Hernandez.Gwen Hernandez Her courses are clear, concise and interactive as well as economical. At this writing the basics course is set at $25 USD. The course includes print-outs, opportunities for questions and comments, and screenshots for clarification. Gwen has also published the Scrivener for Dummies manual.Scrivener for Dummies

The Scrivener program is relatively inexpensive (I paid $40 USD), and I’ve found  the updates are usually free if I stay current.

I write these things today because in the recent past I’ve read and participated in discussion regarding Scrivener. Since it’s been such a great tool for me, I like to recommend it to other writers. But please don’t look to me for expert advice. Go to Literature & Latte, or to Gwen Hernandez for hands-on learning and practice. It certainly makes the writing experience more organized, efficient and fun.


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This post is designed for “My Process Blog Hop” hosted by Travis Perry http://travissbigidea.blogspot.com/2014/03/sharing-my-writing-process-experiment.html, which I’ve joined with several other authors.

My Works-in-ProgressRiver 6

  1.  The project taking most of my focus right now is my historical novel Other Side of the River, which is coming out in installments—volumes—as a Kindle and Kobo read. Six volumes are out, three more to go. I wrote this story a couple of years ago, but am now dividing it into segments, each with its own sub-title.
  2.  On the organize-and-edit plate is my partially completed sequel to River.
  3.  I recently signed a contract to collaborate with a number of other authors on a historical series, but it hasn’t started yet. I have a Scrivener folder earmarked for this project with and filled with as much info as I can scrounge up without knowing the specifics.
  4.  Besides the historicals, I have a cozy mystery that’s been sitting impatiently on my computer, awaiting publication. I’m currently going through it with my local writing group and appreciate their critique.
  5.  My blogsite is another project that’s always underway. Until late last fall, www.janicedick.com was a wasteland hardly anyone ever ventured into. However, due to a push from my publisher, I’ve been putting more time, energy and creativity into my site, with positive results.
  6.   Recently, thoughts came to mind for another historical series. I’ve been planting seeds for this story in my Scrivener folders, and have experienced some sleepless nights thinking about all the elements that need to be figured out.

How Does My Work Differ from Others in its Genre?

My published historicals—Calm Before the Storm, Eye of the Storm and Out of the Storm—are based on family history from the Russian Revolution era, so I have access to family documents, letters, diagrams, maps and drawings, as well as incidents and themes that spark the writing.

My current historicals loosely follow the real experiences of a young man in Manchuria who finds himself and his family caught in a country in the midst of drastic change—for the worse. Truth is stranger than fiction, so I use fictionalize the truth to fit it into the required novel elements. I think this true personal angle adds a unique perspective to the books.

Why Do I Write What I Do?

I grew up hearing stories of times in southern Russia, a once-bountiful land spoiled by war and political greed (sound familiar?). The tales teased my imagination, as did reading classics like War and Peace, Anna Karenina, Crime and Punishment, etc.; and watching movies like Nicholas and Alexandra. When I came upon the documentation mentioned earlier, I felt the time had come to convey these stories of faith under pressure in story form, because that’s how some of us learn best.

My contemporary cozy is a fun attempt at mystery writing, because I love to read mysteries, especially gentle ones.

How Does My Writing Process Work?

Some days I wish I knew. I long ago switched from pen and paper to keyboard, whether for better or worse. I’m always fighting with my internal editor, since I am (she is) somewhat OCD, but I take comfort in the fact that there is no right way to write.

I need an outline, a general idea of how the story will be set out. It may not follow the outline, but I need a realistic goal. If I don’t have that, I feel I waste a lot of time writing things that will never fit.

I use Scrivener to write my books, so I begin by filling Research files, Character and Setting Templates. There will always be more research to do as I go along, and many adjustments, but I need to start by knowing something about the time, place, political situation, world events, etc. I have to find the mood of the piece.

There are numerous rewrites and edits, the earlier ones resembling a bland soup where I almost throw it down the drain, only to realize that this has happened before and will eventually work out. What’s required is a lot of muddling, organizing, messing around with index cards and lists and story/character arcs. Then a printout.

Then it’s back to the grind of re-reading and editing, going through the manuscript many times with a specific goal each time: character arcs, spicing up word usage, literary devices and symbols, consistency of facts, and so on. And eventually I have something I feel good about. Then more polish, and deciding when it’s done.

Why do I keep doing this day after day? Because I can’t not do it. My name is Janice and I’m a writer.


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blog-hop-for-writers imageOur assignment for the third post of our Blog Hop is to write a character sketch of “My Hero.” If I were to write about my real life hero, it would be my dad, who modeled for me a life well-lived. However, I’ve chosen to stay with the writing theme, so I will introduce to you one of my favorite story characters, who plays an active role in my fourth historical novel, Other Side of the River. (Character sketch template from Scrivener.)

Character Name:  Tante Manya

Role in Story:  Manya is the great aunt of my main character, Luise. She is my pacing character in this story, allowing for a break in tension when it’s needed. She is known by Luise and her father, Abram, as Tante Manya.   

Occupation:  Manya is an elderly woman who lives alone but helps out in her nephew’s home when needed.    

Physical Description & Personality: This is how Luise thinks of Tante Manya: “She was old, Tante Manya, had been old as long as Luise could remember. Papa said she had been old when he was a boy, but when his own mother passed away, her sister Manya had become a second mother to him, and he loved her fiercely and forever. To Luise, she was the most beautiful woman in the world. The kerchief tied beneath her chin cradled a toothless smile between weathered-apple cheeks, and framed frost-blue eyes that sparkled with wit and warmth.”

Photo Credit Gerald Hildebrand. Appeared in Witness Magazine July 2004.

Photo Credit Gerald Hildebrand. Appeared in Witness Magazine July 2004.

Habits/Mannerisms:  Tante Manya moves slowly because of her age and arthritis, but her mind is quick. She picks up on the finer nuances between the people around her, and although she speaks her mind, she does so in love. An example of her directness is found here:  “Luise sighed and kept her eyes closed. ‘Tante Manya, I don’t wish to talk of it now.’ /  ‘Of course you don’t. Move over so I can sit down. I am too old to stand here while you feel sorry for yourself.’

Background:  Manya’s father died young, so she and her mother (and a sister) developed a deep love and understanding for each other as they carried on together. However, when Manya’s mother decided to remarry, Manya was angry with her. Almost for spite, she also married, although she and her husband loved each other very much. After a six-month marriage, her husband was killed in an accident and she was left to mourn. She refused comfort until her stepfather brought her home again, and he and her mother nursed her back to physical and emotional health. When her sister died leaving a young son, Abram, Manya took him in as her own. He would eventually marry and become the father of Luise. (Some of Manya’s backstory comes out in Volume 4 of Other Side of the River.)

Internal Conflicts:  Manya faces many internal conflicts, including well-hidden fears of the swiftly changing political situation. At her age, she knows she cannot bear too many physical challenges, yet she chooses to be thankful for what she has and to trust God with her fears. In her wisdom, she has learned to be less judgmental and more accepting of other people, so she allows them to be who they are. Manya puts the good of others before herself, thus making sacrifices that reflect a deep love of her family and commitment to God.

External Conflicts:  As she ages, Manya feels her body giving out on her. Her arthritic hands can no longer knead and shape bread, she cannot carry babies or withstand physical strain as she once did. However, she does what she can, mostly giving moral and spiritual support to her family and friends, and often easing an otherwise tense situation with wry humor. Considering the situations she has faced and continues to face in her life, she has proven to be very resilient. She needs this resilience to withstand the extreme circumstances in which she finds herself in the story set in Soviet Russia circa 1930.

Notes:  Shortly after beginning The Other Side of the River, I came across a photo in my denominational magazine of an elderly woman standing under a cherry tree. Her clothing consists of a grey and white flowered skirt, a purple sweater, a blue apron, black stockings covered by heavy grey socks, men’s slippers and a white kerchief tied beneath her chin. She is leaning on a crooked walking stick, her hands large and work-worn, but the smile on her face captured me from the first moment I saw her. The woman in the picture, whom I named Tante Manya, became my picture of the character in my novel. I believe the woman is from Molochansk, Ukraine, from the title of the accompanying article, “The Last Mennonite Widow of Molochansk.” (Mennonite Brethren Herald, July 2004.)

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