Thursday, March 27, 2014

7 Useful (and Free!) Apps for Writers

I don't know about you, but my iPhone/iPad are sadly underutilized. I try to us them for journaling and keeping notes but I haven't found exactly the apps that suit me. I'm a person who likes to try new things and keep trying until I am firmly stuck on the ones I love.
Here are a few apps I love, and a few I'm still trying out.

This note-taking app makes it very easy to write notes and organize them. Plus you can add pictures and verbal notes! I love that I can sync between phone and computer.

Note Taker HD
This is an interesting and intense app. You can take notes with a keyboard, stylus or you can write with your finger. I haven't been able to figure it all out yet but it's cool. And my hubby loved it.

This is a cool app that allows you to mindmap your thoughts. I need to play with it more. Another mindmapping I'm trying out is MagicalPad.

This is a simple word count app to keep you on track and productive.

Pandora or Jango
I listen to music while I write. It helps me tune out my inner critique. I like the apps that allow me to create my own stations. Every book I write seems to have a different station. My YA psychological thriller tuned into The Cure station while my YA contemporary characters enjoyed American Authors and Mumford & Son

Name Generator
There are tons of free name generator apps. From pirate to roller derby to cage fighter to convenience store names, you need a name ? There's an app for that. ;)

Don't forget your camera is a fantastic way to store visual ideas.

*** I have one more writing tool I LOVE I use on the computer to help me edit: AutoCrit Editing Wizard. You can get it for free or pay for the year. This editing machine shows me overused words, cliches, pacing, etc. I use it every time I edit.

Do you have a favorite app? Writing or non-writing? 
What is it?

Tuesday, March 25, 2014


Through a series of dreams and delusions, Curtis Hansen becomes convinced that he and his wife, Pauline, are part of an intricate game devised for the entertainment of wealthy onlookers. To win, the couple must stay together despite a series of temptations and trials designed to break up their marriage. After playing “The Game” with Curtis for nine arduous years, Pauline makes a shocking discovery. Read the riveting, true account of her decade in the dark and her return to reality after Curtis is diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia.

What an amazing way to deal with what life has handed you. Pauline uses humor and tears and writes a book. 

This story tells of a mental disorder, work, family, cruddy living conditions, anger, love and forgiveness. I caught a glimpse into my own home life growing up.

Pauline gives a personal story, straight from her heart and life and asks us to only understand. Understand what she went through, how much she loves her husband and family and why she is the person she is today. 

I read this well-written and insightful book in a day.


Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Advice vs. Advice vs. Advice

We are bombarded by advice for every aspect of our lives. Advice for raising children, or cooking chicken or curing ingrown toenails. Seriously, there is so many well-written sagely memes, what can one person do? How to shift through all the words?

I haven't even touched on the words given for better writing or editing. Every writer's conference I go to, I come back with pages of amazing notes that appealed to me. A week or so later I go through my notebooks and write a few blog posts to help me remember what I needed to learn. I shift through the words and pick the ones that still stand out to me. I think that is how we can shift through advice: pick and choose.

Last week I opened that spoke of losing a loved one. I loved that author of the email honored her friend by sending the friend's best writing habits out into the writing world. For me, there are a few good reminders, new ideas and aha moments. I hope you enjoy them!

From Beth @ Writers etc

So today, in honor of Billie, I'm going to indulge my melancholy
and share the top dozen writing habits I learned from Billie.

1. Write early. She often told me she awoke at 3am. Since she
couldn't sleep, she'd write. While I'm never awake at that hour, I
tend to make writing my first priority when I awaken.

2. Write often. Billie always had a pen and pad nearby to jot down
ideas. I never felt the need to do this, but since cancer invaded
my life, I've found my memory isn't quite what it used to be. I
carry that pad of paper now.

3. Experiment. My goodness, that woman was fearless when it came to
trying new markets. She wrote whatever struck her fancy, sometimes
using a pen name when she experimented with subjects that
conflicted with her primary focus.

4. Be fearless. Don't be afraid to try new writing techniques. Play
with new subject matter. Approach the familiar from a new angle.
Dance with new ideas and splash them on the paper.

5. Be easy to work with. Billie understood the economics of
publishing. She submitted polished manuscripts, allowed our editors
and designers to do their work minus any drama, and didn't second
guess every step of the process. I loved working with her... and
her projects largely met with success.

6. Support local literacy programs. Billie often donated her
royalties to the local library. I always thought that was

7. Embrace new technology. Billie was one of the first people I
knew who created book trailers for her Youtube channel. They're
awesome. They may not have had a gazillion views, they certainly
helped sell her books.

8. Embrace reality, but treasure fantasy. Billie knew she was
dying, yet she never mentioned it. When we spoke, we always talked
writing, plans, the future. Living in reality created her life. The
fantasies she explored gave meaning to that life. That's awesome.

9. She nurtured young talent. Waaaay back when my son was in Junior
High School, he created a silly little blog about his dog's "wacky
adventures." Of course, Billie found it and was his first
commenter, encouraging him to keep writing. That's how we met.

10. Work with various publishers. Billie had books with ebook
publishers, she published some herself, and she had traditional
book publishing contracts. I think she was wise to keep her work

11. Learn to market. I was delighted when I was asked to critique
sales letters for a firm helping writers learn copywriting. I was
even more delighted when one of the first letters I got to critique
was written by Billie. She was always learning new writing
techniques. She wasn't afraid to stretch her wings and master some
persuasion methods as well. I admired that.

12. Lastly, Billie taught me the importance of sitting still.
Writing is a solitary profession, and that's exactly as it should
be. We're not flashy. We the quiet back ground noise that nobody
notices, until we're gone. We're the documenters of our age. We're
the quiet social commentary whispering, "Why?" "What if?" "Are you
sure?" We probably spend too much time wandering our own heads, but
that's who we are.

Ah, a life well lived is certainly something worth celebrating, eh?

My hope for you is that as you ponder Billie's life, realizing what
you just read was written by someone whose life could very likely
be cut short due to cancer (mets are fairly common), that you take
your own writing seriously. Please write today. Please write

We live in an age when we need thoughtful communicators more than
ever before. After all, writing isn't a profession. It's who we
are. And no matter how hard you try to "fit in" with polite
society, the fact that you are a writer will never change.

Onward and upward,


 Enjoy a little sunshine today :)

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Goals, Chronic Fatigue and Snow

What do goals, writing, children and snow have in common? 
My life. 

I've set my goals.
I wish I were writing.
A three day weekend=lots of play, no writing.
The snow is beautiful and sparkly. 

Two of my goals: 
Write/edit at least five days a week. I take Sundays off to let my poor brain rest. This also gives me a day to step away from my manuscript, giving me a fresh pair of writerly eyes when I come back.

My writing goal brings me to my second goal. 
I need to work out at least five days a week. Because of Butt-in-Chair-itis, my backside is becoming an unattractive flat shape. Not only that, I've found, for myself, that exercise helps get the creativity churning and feeling happier. 

Some days I'm so tired I can't get any writing done, my brain just won't function correctly. Chronic fatigue tends to do that. On those days, I try and catch up on my reading. So far this year I have read 29 (twenty-nine) books. Phew!

Our three day weekend involved a trip to Midway, tennis, shopping and sleeping. It was a fun, low key weekend. I only got one page edited while most of the family went to play tennis but that's okay because my expectations were low for writing over the weekend.

And today! Today my favorite type of snowflakes fell from the sky. You know those big, fluffy flakes that seem to muffle the world and let you just enjoy Mother Nature's show? I love those wintery moments. But now the sun is out and the snow is glittering. I think I'll edit right here by the windows looking out on snow mountains while the fireplace is blazing.

I leave you with chocolate...

Have a good week! 

Friday, March 7, 2014

Foto Friday ~ Turn up your sleeves

Cover reveal time! KILLING RUBY ROSE by Jessie Humphries


About KILLING RUBY ROSE: In sunny southern California, Ruby Rose is known for her killer looks and her killer SAT scores. But ever since her dad, an LAPD SWAT sergeant, died six months ago, she’s also got a few killer secrets.

To cope with her father’s death, Ruby has been trying to stay focused on school (the top spot in her class is on the line) and spending time with friends (her Jimmy Choos and Mahnolo Blahniks are nothing if not loyal), but after months of therapy and more than a few months of pathetic parenting by her mom, District Attorney Jane Rose, Ruby decides to pick up where her dad left off and starts going after the bad guys herself.

But when Ruby ends up killing a murderer in defense of another, she discovers that she’s gone from being the huntress to the hunted. There’s a sick mastermind at play, and he has Ruby in his sights. Ruby must discover who’s using her to implement twisted justice before she ends up changing Valentino red for prison orange.

With a gun named Smith, a talent for martial arts, and a boyfriend with eyes to die for, Ruby is ready to face the worst. And if a girl’s forced to kill, won’t the guilt sit more easily in a pair of Prada peep-toe pumps?

About Jessie Humphries: Jessie Humphries was born and raised in Las Vegas, NV. She received a BA from San Diego State University, where she cultivated her love of the beach, then lived in France, where she cultivated her weakness for shoes, and finally earned a law degree from UNLV, where she cultivated her interest in justice. After practicing law for several years she began writing, and, appropriately, her debut novel Killing Ruby Rose is a thriller about vigilante justice set in sunny southern California with a shoe-obsessed protagonist. Jessie currently writes and practices law in Las Vegas, where she lives with her husband and children.

Social media links:
Twitter: @JessieHwrites

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Monday, March 3, 2014

O Me! O Life!

O Me! O Life!

By Walt Whitman
Oh me! Oh life! of the questions of these recurring,
Of the endless trains of the faithless, of cities fill’d with the foolish,
Of myself forever reproaching myself, (for who more foolish than I, and who more faithless?)
Of eyes that vainly crave the light, of the objects mean, of the struggle ever renew’d,
Of the poor results of all, of the plodding and sordid crowds I see around me,
Of the empty and useless years of the rest, with the rest me intertwined,
The question, O me! so sad, recurring—What good amid these, O me, O life?

That you are here—that life exists and identity,
That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.

Monday Motivation ~ First do no harm, and second to try to do good

"I think we all, as parents, readers, writers, teachers, editors, whatever, have a responsibility to first do no harm, and second to ...

Writer Website in A Weekend

Writer Website in A Weekend