0140 – USB Portable Word Processor for Windows: ATLANTIS

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There are two sites I check out every few days:

Between these two site, I’ve come across new utilities and applications that may benefit my work or home computer life. There are some great products I would normally be unaware of, if it wasn’t for these promotional sites.

A few months ago, there was an offer for a Windows portable word processor that can run directly off a USB and support Microsoft Word format. I gave it a try and was super happy to find: Atlantis Word Processor

I’ve had the following experience:

  • I can open all my existing MS Word documents
  • I can save files in MS Word format
  • I can add table of contents and styles
  • I can add images
  • I can create hyperlinks
  • I can do word counts and other statistics
  • Here is a more thorough list of features worth checking out.

If you are like me and find yourself at some random PC every now and again, then having a quick, trusty, word processor available is a welcome addition to one’s toolbox. If anything, this program gives me yet another reason to remove the excuses and instead, write more.

Keep on writing!

 

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0139 – Free Microsoft Office Alternative: WPS Office


I have a license for Microsoft Office 2013, which has been a great product. It also allows me use MS Office documents types on Android or other Windows systems in my home. I also have Microsoft Office365 and 2016 through my work account, which has minor improvements over Office 2013, some added added features, and better collaboration with co-workers.

But…honestly…I find MS Office to be slow to load documents and a resource hog on my sub-notebook. I wanted something faster to load and when dealing with a sub-notebook that has very limited drive space I needed something with a more manageable footprint. Thus I read about two dozen reviews and articles on MS Office alternatives. On nearly every article’s top 3 would be WPS Office, which markets itself as the “most compatible alternative” to MS Office.

I’ve been using WPS Office Free for a few months now on my sub-notebook and have been very happy with it. I can still save my documents in docx and xlsx format. Also, I have one file that took 35 seconds to load in MS Word, but takes less than 10 seconds (even with ad pop-up) to load in WPS Writer.

There are also Android, Linux and iOS versions of WPS Office.

I’m finding as a writer, I can open and edit all my MS Word documents in the WPS Writer and perform tasks such as, adding table of contents, header styles, tracking changes, word count, etc. Yes, there are the typical ads for five seconds on startup before they can be skipped or the occasional taskbar/Windows 10 notification pop-up ad. In the end, I do not find the ads to be overwhelming and an easy trade-off for having access to a quality FREE product.

Not free, but discounted, is WPS Office Premium, which provides added features and cloud storage AND is one-third the price for a yearly subscription than what MS Office 365 is currently running.

I’m appreciating the fact that there are more and more products coming out to compete with the “big boys” (Microsoft and Google) and they are quality products. Hopefully this type of information will help folks get their writing tools in order, so they can write instead of stress over cost or functionality of the tools they are using.

Keep on writing!

0138 – Speed Up Your Work in Microsoft Word


When it comes to writing, everyone has a favorite software program, such as:

Regardless of the preferred writing software, it still seems to be a standard user requirement to eventually get one’s documents ported to Microsoft Word format (*.doc, *.docx) for editing, sharing, and even publication submissions.

Question: If that is the case, why not simply use Microsoft Word as one’s word processor of choice?

Image source from here

Possible Answers:

  • For some, they may not use MS Word because they are overwhelmed at the options available.
  • For others, they may simply not know how to leverage features to enhance their writing, like I did in this post on using macros to speed up editing.
  • For yet another group, there is always the anarchist types that simply hate the large companies on principal alone and boycott their products (Ah! The good old days, when Unix users wold hate on Microsoft to no end).

Regardless, since I’m in MS Word on a daily basis (whether I prefer to be or not), I found this TechRepublic article on 10 time-saving tips to speed your work in Word to be helpful. Hopefully this article will help others get the tool out of the way of one’s writing and/or help others leverage existing software functionality to speed up their writing.

Keep on putting words to paper!


Full link to article: http://www.techrepublic.com/blog/microsoft-office/10-ways-to-speed-your-work-in-word/?ftag=TREe331754&bhid=22577408618140412535663731804482

0137 – Birth of a Book by Janice Hardy


In the May/June 2017 issue of Writer’s Digest Magazine I started reading through their, Top 101 Best Websites for Writers. It was in that article/ranking that I discovered Janice Hardy’s Fiction University: http://blog.janicehardy.com.

This site has a lot of helpful blog posting on writing. But more pressing, as of June 12, 2017 she started a once-a-week series (on Mondays) called: Birth of a Book

Janice is taking us once lesson at a time through the process of constructing a novel. At the time of this writing, there have been eight(8) postings in this new series. Each post she makes also has links to additional articles by herself, others, or links to outside resources. These additional resources help clarify, expand, enhance and/or give weight to the topic in that particular Birth of a Book article.

A lot of information on this site. So far I’m really enjoying the Birth of the Book series and this series alone is proving a good amount of reading with meaty content and very little fluff. Love it!

The series starts with:

Birth of a Book: The Idea Stage: Turning Inspiration into a Story

0136 – Considering a Blog Reboot


Greetings all.

It has been over 18 months since I posted the Blog Series Finale.

Has my writing changed in ways (for the better) for all the reasons I quit blogging 18 months ago? Not really, if I’m being honest. Life continues to distract me as other priorities continue to fill my days (returning college student in my late 40’s, father to 4 teenagers, etc.).

In 2017, my 13yr old daughter and I started getting up 2hrs before my job start time. During this early morning, cup-o-Joe fueled sessions, she’d be on her laptop writing and I would be on my laptop writing. This resulted in the first draft to a book I’m currently calling, The Busy Person’s Guide to Write More: Getting New Words Written in the Midst of a Hectic, Inconsistent Schedule (let me know how that title sounds by leaving a comment).

This book title is the story of my life!!

Related to this, I find blogging as one of those activities that encourages me to write more during the day/week. Also, selfishly, blogging is more for me than anything else, which is why I’m considering a blog reboot.

For instance I keep coming across resources, tools, and advice on writing. I need a place to store those tidbits, so I can refer back each year. Today, I still refer back to blog posts from 2-3 years ago; using the tidbits in those posts to help me in my professional non-writing life and in my current writing projects.

Thus, this may be a new beginning and if someone else can benefit from the same writing help posted in this blog, then it becomes one small part of me paying it forward.

Image source HERE

 

 

0135 – Blog Series Finale!

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For now, it looks like this is the end of the blog:

Being a Writer

~ Practicing the art of writing, while living a busy life

cropped-banner_02-26-2012.jpgHISTORY & REASONS:

When I first started this blog, my goal was to catalog my journey as I searched how to find time to write, while living a busy lifestyle. In other words, it was all for me (a common beginning to many things I undertake). I figured at the time, that if I blogged then some magical discovery process would happen and the following results would come out of that:

  • I’d become a better writer.
  • I’d actually complete more projects instead of having twenty-seven unfinished projects.
  • I’d get published through a traditional publisher by submitting one of those finished projects.
  • Maybe my own discoveries and success would be of benefit to others:
    • Who also struggle with sporadic writing habits.
    • Who feel life is getting in the way of writing.
    • Who want to eventually make the transition from hobby writer to published author.

I have little evidence for this next statement. . . but I think most bloggers blog for the following reasons instead of the reasons I started my blog:

  • They hope to gain subscribers who will comment and give them some validation that what they are blogging is of value.
  • They hope to gain subscribers / traffic in order to generate revenue from their blog.
  • They hope to establish a platform / brand for themselves as a writer or use the blog to market and support another business endeavor they are involved in.

I obviously had none of those goals in mind when I started this blog a few years ago. This blog has become more of a personal journal log that I’ve chosen to make public. That does not mean the other reasons someone might blog are any less noble or of value than my own reasons for blogging.

What does this mean for this blog?

  1. It could be the series finale. Like in a TV Show, there are season finales (story ends for now, but will restart in a future date) or series finale (where the story is done. No more coming in the future.) Today it looks like this chapter in my public posted story is over.
  2. Or this may turn into a season finale. Depending on what happens in the future with my status of moving from writer hobbyist to indie publisher to prolific published author, this blog could get resurrected in the future.
419mbXgCDtL._SX374_BO1,204,203,200_IMAGE SOURCE: AMAZON PRODUCT PAGE

Recently, I finished reading, ‘Kill Your Blog’ by Buck Flogging (aka Matt Stone). In a lot of ways that read was similar to, ‘Damn! Why Didn’t I Write That?: How Ordinary People Are Raking in $100,000.00… or More Writing Nonfiction Books & How You Can Too!’ by Marc McCutchen. Both books confirmed the changes I’ve already been moving in the direction of:

  • To sustain myself financially and eventually quit my day job, I should pursue non-fiction writing
  • Fiction writing can be a hobby, after I’ve met my daily non-fiction writing word count
  • Several of the my blog posts could be turned into books. Why not turn them into books; sell the books and generate some funds, which will help build my author platform?
  • I’m actively doing writing in other areas (i.e My Amazon reviews are ranked #258 out of millions, at the time of this writing), but I could be writing books instead.

Life isn’t any less busy, but busier. Yet, I’m getting the writing done!! Maybe why I started this blog has already paid off and I have subconsciously learned the lessons over the last few years that I initially set out to discover.

Currently life is busy with the following:

  • Enrolled in two college courses, one of which is a compressed Accounting II course and the workload is no joke!
  • I work 40-50 hrs a week, as the sole provider for my family.
  • I make time for my wife.
  • I make time for my four(4) teenagers.
  • I’m participating in NaNoWriMo 2015 and not falling too far behind in word count goal.
  • I’m involved in weekly bible studies through my church, participate in church board meetings and once a month lead Sunday School class for Junior Highers
  • I’m getting my daily fiction and non-fiction book reading done.
  • I’ve cut out most TV and withdraw symptoms have not been too painful. At the same time, kids and I still watch The Flash and Doctor Who together once a week.
  • If I catch a movie in the theater once a month, I don’t feel deprived in any way.
  • I’ve discovered some great new music while listening to Pandora during my writing sessions.
  • I’m doing some repairs/chores on the house. Not my forte or passion, but it gets done.
  • I’m still getting out for a run by the river and on the trails. This is providing needed Vitamin D, but more importantly gets me out of the house and away from the keyboard for those mental health sessions.
  • I’m writing more often in my journal, especially after purchasing a fountain pen and ink. Journaling long-hand is in itself therapeutic.

Overall, I personally no longer need to blog for me. I’m going to keep this blog site available, if anyone needs to reference old posts or grab one of the free tools I’ve uploaded over the years.

Otherwise, ‘Adieu!’, and keep on writing!

 

0134 – Your Map to NaNoWriMo 2015

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**Update 11/02: Trying to figure out why all the images disappeared. More to come…**

The latest email promotion from NaNoWriMo arrived in my inbox and I thought I’d share it…especially for those that have yet to sign up and attempt this challenge. I would recommend use the next day or two to follow and read the links provided; reserving November for writing as a priority.

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NaNoWriMo Logo

The Map to the Month is your guide to navigating “The NaNoWriMo Library” this month. If you add these noveling notes to your calendar, you’ll have nothing to worry about in November—aside from writing 50,000 words, that is.

To get you even more excited, we’re including a sneak peek at some new personal achievement badges that will be available beginning November 1.

Before you get into the dates…

Invest in your novel and support NaNoWriMo! If you haven’t already, make a small donation to support our nonprofit. You can also get sponsored by friends and family. (We couldn’t keep our sites or programs running without your support. Thank you so much!)

Novel Badge Today

In order to begin updating your word count on November 1, you need to create your novel profile. So if you haven’t done this already, get to it now!

Word Count Badge November 1

Bid your inner editor adieu, and start writing! Once you’ve hit your personal goal for the day (1,667 words?), make your first word-count update (from the menu at the top of our site).

November 2 November 2

Spend some time getting to know the NaNoWriMo community. Be sure to check out the forums, your region, and our outposts on Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, and Pinterest.

November 3 November 3

Did you know that NaNoWriMo has a Young Writers Program? Nearly 100,000 K-12 students and 2,000 classrooms around the world will join you in the noveling challenge this year. Tell a child or teen about YWP and earn the “Next Generation” personal achievement badge.

November 4 November 4

After a few days of writing, you might be looking for some support. Join our Virtual Write-In at 3 PM PST (Your Time Zone) and boost your word-count alongside other Wrimos.

Not able to make this one? Don’t worry, we’ll be hosting Virtual Write-Ins every Wednesday at 3 PM PST and every Saturday at 10 AM PST.

November 5 November 5

Looking for more support? Jump on Twitter for inspiration, guidance, and word-count boosters from our NaNo Coaches and word sprinters. Also, our 2015 pep talkers will be keeping your inbox full of advice and encouragement.

November 7 November 7

Join us for Double-Up Donation Day! It’s the perfect chance for you to double your word count while supporting our nonprofit. Starting at 6 AM PST, expect a full day of awesome hourly prizes, Virtual Write-Ins (including one with Marissa Meyer at 12 PM PST!), and writing prompts.

November 10 November 8

The first week of NaNo comes to a close. Take a minute to cheer on a fellow writer, or share some advice in the forums, and then give yourself the “Wrimo Spirit” personal achievement badge.

November 9 November 9

Let the unimaginable happen to your characters, not to you. Back up your novel now, whether by cloud, email, or external drive (we like this one).

November 12 November 12

NaNoWriMo wouldn’t be the same without our Municipal Liaisons (local volunteers). They cheer you on, organize events, and help create our global community of Wrimos.

ML Appreciation Day is the time to say thanks: send a NaNoMail, start a thread in your regional forum, or give your ML a shoutout on Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #WeLoveMLs.

November 15 November 15

Here in San Francisco, it’s the Night of Writing Dangerously. If you can’t make it in person, hop onto Twitter and follow along virtually.

November 18 November 18

Gather with other Wrimos in your region at a local write-in and earn the “Write Here, Write Now” personal achievement badge.

November 20 November 20

Winning starts today! If you’re at 50,000 words or more, click the trophy badge on your dashboard to begin the validation process. (Also, be sure you order a winner shirt to celebrate!)

November 21-30 November 21-30

You have one job to do: write like crazy. (Then follow the validation directions above to win.)

December 1 December 1

Celebrate! And then, keep writing—and keep the creative conversation going on nanowrimo.org. Check out our “Now What?” page for revision and publishing resources, and stick around for our year-round writing activities.

 

For your convenience, we have an exportable calendar and this email in bookmarkable formAnd if you’re looking for the basics, try the How It Works page or our FAQ.

November is your month, Wrimo. You’ve got this. And remember, we’ll be here for you every step along the way.

To writing with abandon,

Rebecca Stern
Director of Programs

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Enjoy and keep on writing!

0133 – Success Story: Writing With a Busy Schedule

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I’m excited for another year of NaNoWriMo starting in less than a week. At the same time, I’ve been feeling bummed because two weeks ago another college course started; a compressed course for Accounting II. This means, finding time to write was feeling impossible, let alone punch out 1,766 words a day for NaNoWriMo.

Yesterday, Monday 10/26/15, I took stock of my circumstances and the goals I wanted to accomplish in the different areas of my life. I planned out my book reading, my spiritual reading/service, family time, and writing (among other things).

One of the books I started reading is, ‘5,000 Words Per Hour: Write Faster, Write Smarter (vol 1)‘ by Chris Fox.

Screen Shot 10-26-15 at 01.17 PMIMAGE SOURCE: Amazon product page for book

Granted, I’m not the fastest typist by any stretch. When doing discovery writing I average 40wpm and when following an outline I’m closer to 60wpm. But Chris’ first chapter talks about doing ‘mini-sprints’.

  1. The first step, is to set a timer for 5-minutes, start it and write with abandon.
  2. Do not edit yourself, just keep writing for the full duration.
  3. Do this once a day, for a week.
  4. Then next week increase to 10-minutes, once a day for a week.
  5. The following week increase to 15-minutes, etc.

Yesterday, I chose to do several 5-minute sessions in-between meetings at work. Of the five(5) sessions I wrote for, much of what I wrote was discovery writing, so I was a bit slower at the keyboard. Even with that, after only twenty-five(25) minutes in my day (between meetings) I had written over 1,000 new words for the day, at an average pace of 48wpm!!

Many books on writing talk about setting a goal of 1,000 words a day. Many authors wish they could do this amount each day. Yet here I had done it in 5-minute mini-sprints during my normal work day. Oh my!

I’m feeling more confident now that if I can keep up the mini-sprints throughout November, I’ll hit the 50,000 word goal. To improve my success, I’m going to do more planning over the next few days, so I’m experiencing less discovery writing throughout NaNoWriMo.

This exercise proved to me that when squeezing writing between other activities, suddenly making time to write with a busy schedule becomes a doable activity. Maybe mini-sprints will help you too.

Give it a try and keep on writing!!

0132 – Use Figment.com To Write More

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Previously unbeknownst to me, two of my teens discovered and have been participating in a site called, figment.com. Today they decided to share this with me and what they’ve been up to on the site.

Screen Shot 10-11-15 at 10.11 PMimage from: figment.com

 

  • Sign up with an email or your facebook / twitter account
  • Read stories from any genre
  • Write your own stories and choose to share them or not (part of the point of the site is to make them available for others to read them and possibly give you feedback)
  • Choose to swap with other members. Swapping involves they read and comment on one of your pieces and you do the same in return
  • Earn badges for participating in different activities
  • Gain followers who like to read your writing
  • Enter contests and get your writing spotlighted for placing in these contests
  • Chat with other writers
  • Join groups of other writers with common interests or genre writing
  • Participate in multiple forum discussions on writing topics or off-topic threads
  • Make a poll or quiz or take one

As you can see from this list, there is plenty to do. . .of which the bulk revolves around reading, writing and connecting with other writers. For my teens it has been a great motivator to get them writing more now that they belong to a community of writers.

My first impression of Figment is, I like it. Not only do I like that it seems to be FREE, but unlike a critique focused site like Critters — which has very rigid  rules and expectations (all for a good reason and it works for their intended focus) — Figment is open to let writers connect and discover in different ways.

Maybe you too need to check it out and discover if Figment may help you write more, as you too connect with other writers. Keep on writing!

 

 

0131 – Preparing for National Novel Writing Month


Today is the first of October. Thirty-on days from now and the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) challenge will begin. As an adult the goal is to write 50,000 words in thirty days.

Shield-Nano-Blue-Brown-RGB-HiResimage from: http://nanowrimo.org/press

They also have a Young Writer’s Program, where youth can set different writing goals depending on the participant’s age.

nano_ywp_logo_currentImage from: http://www.booksmith.com/event/nanowrimo-young-writers-program-reading

It is not too late to start preparing for NaNoWriMo before the November 1st go live date. One way to prepare:

  • Week 1 & 2 = Plan out your characters, including backstory, personality, skills, motivations and flaws
  • Week 3 = World build your setting, which includes culture, locations, history of the world in which your story takes place, etc.
  • Week 4 = Outline your plot and the events that happen whether you follow the standard 3-ACT structure or something else

My first year or two of NaNoWriMo I did discovery writing and struggled to complete the challenge. Once I started preparing ahead of time with an outline, I won the challenge almost every year for the last ten years. That is my story, but I realize some people will never be outliners and some will never be discovery writers.

Find what works for you and sign up for NaNoWriMo before November 1st. Don’t let the next four week pass you by before you start preparing. Whether you participate in NaNoWriMo or not, keep on writing.