Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Best Gadget Ever? Well, Maybe.

All month we've shared our favorite hacks and gadgets, and I admit I've watched closely to see if any grabbed my particular interest. I've tried a few gadgets and apps in the past few years, but none have held my attention for very long. As the days of March passed, I realized that next to my laptop, the one gadget I use most is my Kindle Fire.

Of course, I use it for the obvious reason - to buy ebooks! My most recent acquisition was this book by Becky Clark. It's an engaging and helpful read, and I'll probably review it here soon.

Eight Weeks to a Complete Novel
I don't just read ebooks from Amazon though. I soon discovered the Overdrive collection at my library, so now do most of my reading and research by checking out e-Library books. I love their format, and the fact that I can read online or download to the Kindle. And I can make recommendations for the library to add new books, including the latest from my blog team. Recently the library added Ann Parker's new publication.

Mortal Music - Ann Parker

I discovered another cool trick last year. The  Amazon Send To Kindle app was an editing revelation for me. I can't begin to list the many benefits of reading your MS Word manuscript in ebook format, just as your reader would see the book. It's yet another trick for revising your book with fresh eyes, plus you can annotate and search as you would any Kindle book. Very cool indeed!

Another useful job my Kindle does is keep me on a daily schedule - I have the most distractible brain on the planet, and my clock app is programmed with different ring tones to keep me focused for that crucial 10 AM to 3 PM time when I work best and have the most energy. If I didn't have a handwritten schedule, and the ding-dong Kindle reminders, I wouldn't get anything done. I'll share more about writing with adult ADD in a future post. Because - distractions. The bane of my existence.

Boy, do I desperately need to focus with all this pandemic distraction, don't you? Unfortunately, I spend way too much time checking the Coronavirus statistics, including on the Kindle. I don't think I'm alone. How are you handling your writing and editing lives right now?

I know the rest of the Blood-Red Pencil team is distracted too. It's hard to blog about Best Ever anything, which is our overall theme for the year. To that end, in April we'll use the blog as a group diary, and talk about our days living under the shadow of these constrictive times. Not just about writing - anything goes - and we hope you'll join in the conversations as we navigate through the month, one day at a time.

BE WELL, dear readers. Stay with us!

Dani Greer is a long-time publishing professional who is the founding member of this blog. She lives in the Colorado outback with her husband and too many cats. You can connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Best Hack: Get Inside Yourself, Go Deep

What writing hacks motivate this writer to write? (In their March posts, Pat Smith explains what a writing hack is, and Ann Parker offers us links to find them.) These days, I’m not sure what it would take to get me to finish my work in progress, and I don’t know exactly why. Two things that make a novel readable, according to me, are, simply put, the plot (duh!) and the characters. I wrote about characters in a post in 2018. We all know, or so we’ve been told, there are only seven plots. In fact, I wrote about that, too, in a previous post.

What can I tell you that’s different to what I’ve already written? Yes, we can take one of those generic plots and twist it any way we want. We can put the story on Mars, in the desert, or in New Orleans. We can make the setting a character by giving the place its color and vibrancy so that when we finish reading, we want to go to Paris or Rome or Charleston. But what makes me want to write is the character. My genre is suspense/thriller. What inspires me, and how do I make the character come alive so that readers turn the page for her/him and not just for the cliffhanger?

One of the reasons a series takes off is because readers like the CHARACTERS. (Am I being redundant?) They like their humor or their sensitivity or their weirdness or their danger. I’ve been stuck on my work in progress for a while. I needed to be inspired, so I went back to a book I love and read it for the third time: Robert Crais’s L.A. Requiem.
Why? you ask. I bet you can guess. The characters. I thought I could dissect what it is that makes the two characters so appealing to me. Elvis Cole, the wise-cracking “World’s Greatest Detective,” and his enigmatic partner, Joe Pike. Pike is really the intriguing one. He rarely talks, yet in this, the eighth book in the Cole/Pike series, we get more background on what made him the way he is. We empathize. Crais never unloads everything we need to know about his two characters in one book, so he has plenty to spread out over the eighteen-book series. Pike is underwritten, and because he is, he vaults from the page. The reader is drawn in because she wants to know more about him. Another defining characteristic of the series is the close bond between the partners. They are always there for each other, no matter what dangerous situations they find themselves in. It’s called friendship, and it works in the same way an intense relationship between a man and woman works in a romance novel. In a sense, this is a buddy series, or a term I dislike, a bromance.

The book I’m working on isn’t the first in a series, though it could be if I wanted it too. I don’t. What I do need to accomplish is to make my characters interesting, intriguing, and compelling enough that if it were the first book in a series, readers would want to read the next one and the next. (I hope I’ve done that with my Diana Racine series, and reviews seem to suggest I have.) My main characters are twins. They are identical, but they’re nothing alike. I like them, but at this point, I don’t LOVE them, and I need to love my characters in order to write them. Something’s missing. I haven’t gone deep enough in their heads. My usual trick is to become the characters—to think like them, to feel like them, to BE them.

Some writers have created characters that readers love enough to make the books bestsellers. Lee Child with Jack Reacher, Michael Connelly with Harry Bosch, Robert Ludlum with Jason Bourne, and so many others. Think Sherlock Holmes, Hercule Poirot, Alex Cross, Eve Dallas, Lincoln Rhyme, Nancy Drew, and Lisbeth Salander, to name a few. It’s the character, stupid. Don’t shortchange them for the plot. They should be at least equal in importance. Like I mentioned above, plots have been done over and over, but characters are unique, save the hard-drinking ex-cop-now-detective who killed someone accidentally and lives with the guilt.

One of my blog mates posted that reading someone else’s work while writing distracts her. Not me. I’m made aware of how much more I need to do to get the depth and quality I so love in other talented authors’ works. Now that I've written myself into understanding what I need to do, I will get back to this yet untitled work that is basically finished. Maybe if I get my characters right, I'll be able to put a title to it.

Polly Iyer is the author of nine novels: standalones Hooked, InSight, Murder Déjà Vu, Threads, and Indiscretion, and four books in the Diana Racine Psychic Suspense series, Mind Games, Goddess of the Moon, Backlash and The Scent of Murder. A Massachusetts native, she makes her home in the beautiful Piedmont region of South Carolina. You can visit her website for more on Polly and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Best Ever Hacks for Writing — Then and Now

Writing hacks have been around for millennia, but I never thought of them as such. Then a sentence from Pat Smith's recent article solidified the approach to this month's theme that had been turning cartwheels through my mind for several days. (If you missed her post, you'll find it's well worth going back for the read.) She said: "This problem began when a caveman chiseled the first petroglyph onto a rock and has persisted right up to modern times."

Unarguably, the chore of creating those first written records has evolved into such ease of writing that it's almost mind boggling. How did it happen? Let's take a journey through the best writing hacks ever.

That rock the caveman used to write on might well have been the wall of his home; and no matter what form of a chisel was at his disposal, it would have been nothing short of a labor-intensive job. We think we have it tough when when we settle down with our electronic devices to write a few hundred words a day. How many words (pictures) do you think he "penned" a day? Yet he persisted in leaving his stone journal for posterity (whether or not that was his intent). Or perhaps he painted his history on his cave wall. In either case, the primary fruit of his labor, at least for us, is its contribution to our knowledge of his life and times. Without his effort, we would know little to nothing about about the daily routines of our distant ancestors who populated his area of the world. Having said that, and as much as I love creating stories, I would have never become a novelist—or a writer of any sort—if I had to chisel each line and curve into solid rock. Nor would I paint a picture of my day's activities. My art is limited to words; my pictures would be indecipherable.

Enter an extension of that hack. Stone tablets made more sense in some ways than cave walls, and very small ones may have been somewhat portable. They also could be displayed publicly. Depending on their size, however, most of them weren't likely carried around. One example comes to mind: the 1680 pound Rosetta stone fragment. What a hack that was! Discovered by Napoleon's soldiers in 1799, it presented (and preserved) a royal decree of Egypt's 13-year-old pharaoh, Ptolemy. Written in three languages about 196 B.C.E., it included ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics, ancient Egyptian Demotic scripts, and ancient Greek. The significance of this discovery lies in the hack—a bit different from current writing hacks in that it was a reading hack. The other two languages of identical information on the Rosetta Stone provided the needed key to eventually unlock the meaning of the ancient, out-of-use hieroglyphics and allowed interpretation of other important historical documents written in that lost language.

We must also give a nod to papyrus. Created in ancient Egypt from the papyrus plant, the paper-thin sheets were often made into scrolls, which could then be used to record lengthy passages. This hack revolutionized the task of recording the written word in a semi-portable format and allowed books to be written down and passed to others to read. Because of its fragile nature, however, papyrus was replaced in Europe in the first century by sturdier parchment and vellum, which were made from animal skins. These hacks promoted the creation of libraries to house lengthy documents, as well as personal possession of various writings. We'd come a long way from pictures on stone walls; but still, in most instances, the words had to be handwritten or inscribed, a long and tedious process with no back button to delete errors. Careful copyists and scribes were in high demand to make accurate copies of important works. Writing a book would still be an arduous task. We needed another hack, and we got it.

Paper was invented in China early in the second century (about 105 C.E.), but wasn't available in Europe until the latter part of the eleventh century. With the spread of this new medium throughout the Far East and the Middle East, books became single volumes that could be carried by hand rather than small bundles of book sections that had to be toted around on a cart. The advent of the single-volume book inspired the growth a reading culture, and doors opened to writers who longed to tell their tales or record events that shaped lives, regimes, or countries. Libraries carried thousands of books. Hear ye! Hear ye! Historians, journalists, and storytellers, listen up. The greatest hack to date had been created.

The use of paper made practical the invention of the printing press, an accomplishment typically credited to Johannes Gutenberg, who, around 1440 C.E., revolutionized Europe's writing and reading world with his press that operated on movable lead type. However, Gutenberg's press came along far later than printing presses in China. Some 600 years prior, the Chinese had invented a movable type press to create books. For example, Bi Sheng, who lived from approximately 970 to 1051 C.E., used block type with movable clay letters [Chinese symbols?]. Gutenberg's press improved upon the Chinese version because it solved the problem of ink-soaked clay letters and allowed for even distribution of ink throughout the page. The hacks marched onward.

Fast forward to our modern times and a series of hacks that propelled writing into an era of mushrooming opportunities. By the mid 1880s, typewriters became common and then essential office equipment. First, we had manual machines, followed by the electric variety. The hacks kept coming, each following its predecessor in quick succession. Then it happened—the hack to end all hacks—the advent of the mainframe computer.

Very rudimentary versions of today's models were conceived and sometimes invented in the early 1800s. Most were not successful. However, today's rapid evolution of these electronic devices, as well as their broad applications in so many areas of our lives, has literally changed the world—as well as the lives of writers everywhere. Complementary applications such as the internet have widened local markets into international mega malls with access to opportunities never before available. Talk about the "best ever hacks for writing"! No doubt even greater hacks are waiting on the horizon to change our lives, our writing tools, and our capabilities beyond anything we currently imagine.

Editor Linda Lane has returned to her first love—writing—while maintaining her editing work. Her novels fall into the literary category because they are character driven rather than plot driven, but their quick pace reminds the reader of genre fiction. They also contain elements of romance, mystery, and thrillers. You can contact her through her websites: LSLaneBooks.com and DenverEditor.com.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Best Writing Hacks

It has never been easier to learn about writing from home in your spare time while wearing your pajamas.

Thanks to the wonders of the internet, there are college courses, Master Classes, and Great Courses. Some are free, others are low cost (extremely low compared to a college course) or free.

You can learn from well-versed instructors and famous professional writers.

Online Writing Courses are provided by many universities from beginning to advanced classes.

Great Courses has excellent writing classes you can order on DVD (with print books) and/or access them online. They add classes frequently from Building Great Sentences to How to Publish Your Book from Jane Friedman.

Writing Master Classes are taught by famous writers such as: Neil Gaiman, R L Stine, Judy Blume, James Patterson, and Margaret Atwood to name a few. They add classes frequently. You can purchase the classes individually or subscribe for a year ($180 as of 03/20202) and watch as many as you like.

You can also visit You-Tube, enter a search topic, and find free instructional videos on on all aspects of writing, publishing, formatting, cover design, and marketing. One video leads to another and another.

I offer free tips and forms on my website http://dianahurwitz.com/sbbbooks.html and weekly articles on my companion blog Game On.

There are many writing groups and forums on social media. It has never been easier to find a tribe.

The Benefits of Genre Associations

Ten Tips for Finding Your Tribe

2020 Writing Conferences

The more you learn, the better you become. There really are no excuses for not getting started.

Diana Hurwitz is the author of Story Building Blocks: The Four Layers of Conflict, Story Building Blocks II: Crafting Believable Conflict, Story Building Blocks III: The Revision Layers, and the YA adventure series Mythikas Island. Her weekly blog, Game On: Crafting Believable Conflict explores how characters behave and misbehave. Visit DianaHurwitz.com for more information and free writing tools. You can follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

A Writing Tip for Anyone with Unfinished Projects

For the year 2020, I picked FINISH! as my guiding word. With multiple novel and short story manuscripts abandoned before revisions and editing, I had developed the habit of not finishing one thing before I jumped on the next idea and took off running. As a pantser, perhaps the revision stage seemed too hard. Or maybe I was too afraid that new idea would get away. In spite of my past bad habits, I resolved to change. On January 21st, I wrote about my intentions to FINISH! Here at the Blood-Red Pencil in my post called How I'm Planning for My Best Writing Year Ever.

Once I decided that 2020 had to be the year I cleaned up the backlog before starting something new, I had a new quandary. Where should I start? And that was closely followed by: What if I get discouraged?

As often happens in this life full of coincidence and serendipity, suggestions and possible solutions popped into my email and showed up on social media. I picked a trusted source of advice and education, Colleen M. Story. I follow her Writing and Wellness blog religiously and have read two of her books, Overwhelmed Writer Rescue and Writer Get Noticed! When I saw she had a new workshop available called How to Finish the Creative Projects You Start, I knew I was in the right place. I signed up for the online workshop!

At the beginning, Colleen helped me resist reaching for the "shiny new object" and choose which project I needed to tackle first (which turned out to be different to the one I'd mentioned in my BRP blog post). That was a big challenge for me. I don’t even want to admit publicly how much unfinished work I had to choose from. However, working through each module and exercise, I made my decision and went to work.

There was more to the workshop as I listened to more of the modules, taking my time and savoring the excellent encouragement Colleen provided. The workshop deals with those pesky emotions and behavior that get in the way, from fear of failure to procrastination.

If you want a sample of what Colleen offers in this program, she also has a free mini-class that might help you decide whether the longer workshop would help your situation.

I’m not the only one who has made 2020 a FINISH! Year. Polly Iyer posted her intentions on this blog January 30th in 2020 Will Be the Best Writing Year Ever Because…

Now that my husband and I have “gone to ground” in Northern Colorado, I plan to get a lot of writing, reading, and FINISHING! done over the next couple of months. I hope you all are doing okay and feel able to cope with the way our lives have changed in what seems like an instant. If you need more suggestions on what to do with that extra time, note that the Indy-published arm of Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers is sponsoring their Spring NovelRama on Facebook March 20th-23rd. The goal is write 25,000 words in four days. Members cheer each other on, offer sprints, and even prompts.

That might put you in the mood to sign up for Blogging from A to Z April Challenge. That's where you pick a theme or go with random topics and run through the letters of the alphabet for the 26 days of posting. Think of things to do when you're "confined to quarters" such as A is for Attending Online Classes...J is for Jigsaw Puzzles...well, you get the drift. I haven't done this for a couple of years, but I had a lot of fun when I did participate.

Pat (Patricia) Stoltey is the author of four novels published by Five Star/Cengage: two amateur sleuth, one thriller that was a finalist for a Colorado Book Award in 2015, and the historical mystery Wishing Caswell Dead (December 20, 2017), a finalist for the 2018 Colorado Book Awards. This novel is also now available in a large print edition. Her short story, “Good Work for a Girl,” appears in the Five Star Anthology, The Spoilt Quilt and Other Frontier Stories: Pioneering Women of the West released in November 2019.

Pat lives in Northern Colorado with her husband Bill, Scottish Terrier Sassy (aka Doggity), and brown tabby Katie (aka Kitty Cat).

You can learn more about Pat at her website/blog, on Facebook, and Twitter. She was recently interviewed for the Colorado Sun’s SunLit feature that you can find at the Colorado Sun website.

Friday, March 13, 2020

#FridayReads The Black Pill by LJ Sellers

The Black Pill
L.J. Sellers
File Size: 890 KB
Print Length: 262 pages
Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
Publisher: Spellbinder Press (February 11, 2020)
Sold by: Amazon.com Services LLC
Language: English

BOOK BLURB - Agent Dallas goes undercover to bring down a pack of online sexual predators, but the secrets she uncovers are more horrific than anyone imagined.

A body wrapped in plastic turns up in the middle of the road—with no ID and no viable explanation. The pressure builds when Detective Jackson must also locate a missing woman that few people seem to know. Fearing for the kidnapped woman’s life, Jackson follows her ex-boyfriend, but the effort backfires in a deadly way.

Across the country, FBI Agent Jamie Dallas takes on a dangerous undercover assignment—tracking a sexual predator who brags about his assaults in a perverse dark-web forum. Dallas travels to Jackson’s hometown and discovers that her target’s crimes are just the opening salvo. Yet confronting the hatemongers could get her killed.

The investigators race the clock to find the victims, but will they discover the connection in time to save all the women caught in the deviant trap?

REVIEW - I found The Black Pill to be an engrossing read, with a terrific blend of suspense and mystery and lead characters to root for. Both Detective Jackson and Agent Dallas are engaging characters, and I like the fact that they're three-dimensional - not stereotypical and certainly not perfect. The personal side to their lives is as interesting as the main plot of the story, especially Jackson's difficulties with his teenage daughter Kate, who is in a controlling relationship. Jackson is conflicted between his need to protect her and the knowledge that he has to let her make decisions that he doesn't approve of. Only when those decisions become threatening, does he decide to step in, which I thought was a very wise parental move, and the struggle between the cop and the father was very real.

It took reading a few chapters into the book for me to figure out that somehow the cases that Jackson and Dallas were involved in were going to intersect, but once I caught on I appreciated that unique approach to bringing the bad guys to justice. And I learned more than I ever wanted to know about human trafficking and incels (Involuntary celibates) What a dark and horrifying group they are, and they're real, which is even more frightening.

L.J. never fails to shape her stories around topics that are relevant, perhaps as her way of helping to educate readers about things out there that we need to be aware of. For sure, this is one case of art reflecting life.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR - L.J. Sellers writes the bestselling Detective Jackson mystery/thriller series, a four-time winner of the Readers Favorite Awards. She also pens the high-octane Agent Dallas series, the new Extractor series, and provocative standalone thrillers and scripts. Her 26 novels have been highly praised by reviewers and have sold more than 1.5 million copies.

L.J. lives in Eugene, Oregon where many of her novels are set, and she’s an award-winning journalist who earned the Grand Neal. When not plotting murders, she enjoys standup comedy, cycling, social networking, and attending mystery conferences. She's also been known to jump out of airplanes.
To find out more about L.J. and her books, visit her WEBSITE and her AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE

Reviewed by Maryann Miller  You can find out more about Maryann, her books, and her editing services on her Website and her Amazon Author Page, read her Blogand follow her on Facebook and TwitterHer online workshop on self-editing, part of a series of online writing workshops from Short And Helpful, can be found HERE

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Best Ever Hacks For Writing When You Don't Really Feel Like Writing

If a writer who looked like this was living in my house, all the writing hacks in the world couldn't save me.

There's something I inherently dislike about the word "hack". Perhaps it's because I'm a journalist and it's used pejoratively (and often unfairly) against reporters whose work people don't embrace. Maybe it's because I love horses and in the past, hack horses were frequently beaten and abused beasts of burden forced to draw heavy wagons. Whether it's someone trying to break into your computer, make you angry, or chop you to pieces, the word "hack" has few good meanings.

However, in modern parlance hack has come to mean "a quicker and easier way of doing things." While I still have my nose up in the air a bit over this (I'm a perfectionist who doesn't mind doing things the un-hacked way...) I know this new sense of the word is here to stay.

That said, I want to share some creative hacks for writers looking to improve their productivity, even when they don't feel like writing. But first I'll take a bit of a detour to let you know why I personally need these effective writing hacks.

I've made my career working in journalism and writing non-fiction books. But like many other writers, whether aspiring or established, I spend way more time thinking about writing than I actually do writing.

This problem began when a caveman chiseled the first petroglyph onto a rock and has persisted right up to modern times, even with writers toting around the slickest digital tablets and other tools that make the physical act of writing easier than ever. But fancy tools don't address the psychological aspect of writing and that is where I need help.

In terms of being a storyteller, I am very good. I would have been welcome around any campfire in any clan or tribe that passed its mythology and history orally from one generation to the next. Using spoken words alone, I can mesmerize a room by weaving a synopsis of my latest work in progress, even though it's technically only in progress inside my head and will die the moment I complete my recitation. I can rile up a room to the point where many people clamor to know when the book is coming out.

The sad truth is, the book is never going to come out. None of my fiction ever "comes out," because while I am an engaging and imaginative spinner of tales in the finest tradition of storytellers everywhere, I can never get any of those stories that spill so readily and convincingly from my mouth to flow from my brain down onto paper. There's some sort of barrier between my head and my hands when it comes to writing fiction. Non-fiction? That easily sorts itself into neat, ascending bundles within my mind. I just write down what's within those bundles and BOOM! I have a book.

But for fiction...I NEED hacks. I am determined to use these hacks to finally get one of my novels out of my head and down onto paper. Here are my favorites:

Up your self-belief
The original seed of any writing project lies in the belief that you can, in fact, accomplish that project. If you start with self-doubt, it soon becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy that will doom your efforts to failure.

I write myself tiny, encouraging post-it notes that I stick on my computer. The messages are simple: Just write! You CAN do this! 100 words and then you can goof off! (And yes, I need all those exclamation marks!)

Some days this works and honestly, some days it doesn't. But if these notes can help me write even 100 words a day, that's moving me closer to a finish line I've yet to reach in a work of fiction.

Write in the same place every day
If you exercise discipline about where you write, soon that discipline will begin to exert itself in your work. Don't allow yourself to do anything else in your writing spot. Don't read. Don't work crossword puzzles. Don't watch TV and don't daydream.

Before long, your brain will come to associate that specific place with the act of writing and a sort of autonomic response will kick in. When you sit down in your writing chair, you will write.

This hack seems to work particularly well for me.

Put a pen and notebook by your bed
It's amazing what my brain can come up with as I am drifting off to sleep. Entire scenes write themselves, problems are solved, barriers are broken. But since I'm falling asleep, I just tell myself I'll remember everything in the morning and then off I go to The Land of Nod.

Of course, the next morning I can't grab a single thread of memory, much less the lively, perfect lines of dialogue that flowed so readily in my half-conscious state. I lost way too many wonderful scenes before I realized there was a low-tech solution. Now I keep a pen and paper next to my bed and as I drift off, I reach over and write down everything swirling through my brain.

The only thing I have to do the next morning is to translate my words from whatever obscure ancient language (usually Scribble-Scratch) I used to write them down. It's not 100 percent perfect but this technique has certainly helped me save many an idea that would otherwise have been lost forever.

Find another writer to hold your hand
As I've mentioned in previous posts, writing can be a lonely, isolating endeavor. Sometimes, you just need a bit of encouragement to keep going, to relight your creative spark and pump up your sagging self-confidence. It helps if the person you ask to hold your hand writes in the same genre and is in about the same place in their writing journey as you are. As much as I would love to call up Louise Penny or Martha Grimes and ask them for a cyber hug and advice on writing a best-selling mystery novel, something tells me it would be difficult for me to get their phone numbers. But someone working in my genre at my level makes a wonderful shoulder to cry upon when my book seems to be collapsing around me.

There are many other writing hacks you can try out to encourage yourself to be more productive. Some people suggest reading more, but I find reading when I am writing dilutes my voice. Other people say to keep two or three projects going at once so that if you hit a wall with one, you can hop right into another.

The suggestions I've made here are just examples of the many great writing hacks you can employ to propel yourself forward on your writing journey. These happen to be ones that work for me. Find a few you like, that feel comfortable and workable for you, and you'll soon find yourself writing more regularly and with more purpose.

If you still need more ideas, our own Ann Parker (author of the wonderful Silver Rush mystery series) has compiled a great list of websites loaded with writing hacks. There are so many good ideas there you could spend a couple of days reading them. Just be careful not to spend so much time reading about writing that you forget to write.

Patricia B. Smith is a journalist who is the author of 11 published books, including Idiot’s Guide: Flipping Houses, Alzheimer's For Dummies and Sleep Disorders for Dummies.

Pat is also an experienced professional developmental editor who serves as an Editorial Evaluation and Developmental Coordinator for Five Star Publishing. She works with private clients as well and has helped many authors land their first publishing contracts. Many of her clients have achieved notable success, including two winners of the Missouri Writers’ Guild Show-me Best Book of the Year Award.

Connect with Pat on Facebook, Twitter, or Linked In.

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Lists of Best(?) Writing Hacks: By the numbers

When I pondered what to write about for this month's theme of "Best writing hacks ever," it occurred to me that better minds than mine have probably made lists and offered suggestions on the topic. I decided to do a little search and see what I could find. As you might imagine, I found plenty!

Without further ado, here is a random compendium of offerings from the vast world of the internet, in ever-ascending numbers of suggestions per list...
For something different, you might want to look at this one on the Reedsy channel on YouTube: Trying Your Favourite Writing Hacks. (Reedsy's Shaelin focuses on five hacks, tries them all, and comments on how they worked for her. The hacks are timestamped, so you don't have to watch the whole thing to find out what she thought of, for instance, the "writing with your eyes closed" technique.)
Let's try this with eyes shut!
By Anonymous - Hill’s Manual of Social and Business Forms (https://archive.org/details/hillsmanualofsoc00hill_0/page/20/mode/2up), Public Domain, Link

To wrap this up on a personal note: One of the hacks I use frequently (only I didn't realize it was a "hack" until I saw it in a list) is the second one mentioned in 3 Hacks to Write a Rough Draft, to wit:
[W]hen you’re typing along and feel the need to know a fact that’s pertinent to the story—yet you also know if you look up that fact you’re going to get sidetracked for at least several hours—just type in two little letters: TK. This is an old printing/journalism reference that means “to come.”
So there you have it.

Writing hacks galore.

If you see one in these lists that you use or would like to give a try, let us know!

Ann Parker authors the award-winning Silver Rush historical mystery series published by Poisoned Pen Press. During the day, she wrangles words for a living as a science editor/writer and marketing communications specialist (which is basically a fancy term for "editor/writer"). Her midnight hours are devoted to scribbling fiction. Visit AnnParker.net for more information.