Scrivener for windows – post nano bright shiny

So I’m feeling good. I’ve exceeded the NaNo minimum count and I’m within reach of my own goal. I know, what a way to jinx it.


I decided I could take a half an hour to look at a bright shiny. Scrivener for Windows is in Beta and I wanted to see what it’s about. No, I didn’t download it. I’m not completely crazy. I did look at the video here. After looking at the video, I went to my calendar for December and made a note to try to get on the beta if it’s still open.


Two reasons I think this will be a great tool.


You can edit on line. Up to now, I’ve printed out my manuscript in scenes and analyzed each scene for revision. I printed it out because Word isn’t that easy to navigate when you are looking at it piece by piece. With Scrivener, I can update the index card with a note on each scene and save a tree.


The other reason, I can plot and research all in one document. Yay.


Finally for all you Apple lovers out there, I’m still not going Mac. Why? Well, with Scrivener I can save in a number of different formats, but not a .doc. Most services that upload and prep books for e-publishing need a .doc format. So, I’ll hang onto my Windows laptop and applications.


One more big tip. If you complete NaNo and verify your win, you get a 50% discount on the purchase price of Scrivener for windows. Here’s the info.


Happy Writing



Eat Pray Love – book or movie?

I started this post with a purpose. I was going to write a review of the book so far. As a publisher, like other publishers, I look at the beginning of the book and decide whether there’s enough promise to make it worth my time to read a whole manuscript.


Like most readers, I have read books that start out great then peter off into poor writing, bad character development and a plot that goes nowhere. And, books that don’t start out so great but are good enough to keep me reading until I hit the gold.


This book, Eat Pray Love isn’t the kind of book I usually read – it is however the type of movie I love to watch. And I fully intend to watch this one.


Why don’t I read these books? It’s the transition from rock bottom to whatever new state the heroine grows into. In the book, for me it takes for freaking ever for the character to let go of the whining and get on with the growing.


It’s not the writing, Elizabeth Gilbert has done a great job putting the story on the page, she did a great job of setting the scene, and I find her ‘rockbottomness’ believable. It’s the pace, I’m around 10% of the way in (by the little blue bar on my Kindle for iPod) and we haven’t yet started the journey.


When this kind of story is in a movie, they cut it to the smallest time possible because they have around 2 hours (at most for this type of movie) and they know the story is in the struggle.


So, if you are looking to write this kind of journey memoir, fictional or not, remember the reader needs to buy into the reason the character needs to change, but the story really starts when the journey starts.


This example, Neon Pilgrim, is a self published book that I happened along in Smashwords one day. It could use some editing but she keeps the “I’m in such a bad place I need to change drastically’ down to under six pages. Even hardhearted me can handle that.


How do you like your memoirs paced?


Happy writing



Writing blogs, who do you follow?

How do you decide which blogs to follow? What topics do you find useful or entertaining?

Here’s a list of some of the blogs I follow.

A Newbie’s guide to publishing

Ask The publishing guru

Just a Kid with a Keyboard

Magical Words

and of course Sue’s Blog As it comes

They are a mixture of advice, personal journey and informative. When you pick a blog to follow what is it that you look for?


If you don’t read it can you provide value as a critiquer

When we got our first horror submission I was worried. I didn’t read horror and didn’t have any idea what to say. Also, I don’t read it for a reason – nightmares, baby.

We often get work submitted that doesn’t fall into what either Sue or I read. In addition, both Sue and I belong to critique groups. So I spend a lot of time reviewing and giving advice to people about books I would never read. Before I started doing it, I didn’t think it was possible.

I have found that I can give and accept critiques across genres. Here’s how I take on a review like that.

I start by looking at the premise, is it credibly set up. For horror, is it frightening? Is the ‘evil’ thing bad enough but still believable within the archetype – let’s not talk about sparkly vampires.

If that’s there, then I just start looking for the same things I normally do. Does the story start at the beginning of the action? Is the dialogue and description engaging? Does the author have a strong voice?

As I read, I look for grammar and punctuation issues. Not that I’m an editor in that sense but sometimes it jumps out. And then I try to decide if I would read the book. I have to say a few books I’ve read outside my normal taste have intrigued me enough to dip my toe into the genre.

On the flip side, I listen very carefully to critiques from people who don’t read/write in my genre. I have to know the conventions of my own genre to write a good story, but my critiquer doesn’t. So, I have to sort through the suggestions to find ones I can work with and discard the ones that I can’t because of the rules. One of my critique groups keep telling me ‘I would like to know more about the background of this person’ or ‘why didn’t you tell me about this aspect’. I thank them because I needed the reader to be wondering at that point – it’s a mystery.

I guess the suggestion here is that you don’t need to find someone who writes or reads the same books as you. Feedback is valuable. If you don’t have a critique group, go find one.

Happy writing


Free opinions – are they worth anything?

I think the answer to the question is, yes they are. Sometimes they are just worth gaining an interesting new perspective, and sometimes they are the first step in getting to the next level. What’s the best free opinion? One you agree to hear.

So, we’ve sent out two tweets offering a free first read and opinion for writers out in our followers, and the followers of our followers, and – with luck – the followers of our follower’s followers. Okay that got me wondering if follower is really a word.

So, the first call gave us three great stories. They weren’t perfect but wow, there was talent there. We were able to get back to people really quickly. Today we sent out the second call – okay Sue did the work – and we’re hoping to get  few more submissions before the offer ends.

The benefits are huge for us, and I hope the authors. PaperBox Books benefits from the opportunity to talk to new authors and the author gets a bit of free critique from a publisher. What is cool for me is that I also get a chance to look for the same blemishes and tics in my own work. Something I become better at as I go through critiquing.

If you are thinking about sending in something, please know we’re here to help, not to destroy. We are writers, too. We know how hard it is to hear that something isn’t working, but we also know it sometimes takes a fresh eye to find out what needs work, and what kind of work it needs. And, even better for the fragile writer’s ego – what is working. We give the good and the bad.

Happy writing.


iPad reviews – had enough?

Hi, I don’t know about you but I’m getting a bit overwhelmed by the number of reviews of the iPad as a reader.

It seems fairly universal that it’s not the best reader. It’s too reflective, too heavy, and too big. There’s lots of great feedback for other purposes but ereader doesn’t seem to be a hit.

I don’t have one, and probably won’t get one, so I’m not going to rant about whether it will kill the Kindle or the publishing industry. I will give two thoughts.

When looking at iPad being an industry changer, doing to publishing what iTunes did to the music industry, I haven’t seem much comment on the fact that the music industry was mainly bricks and mortar before iTunes. Amazon is not bricks and mortar so I’m not sure the iPad can make as drastic an impact as iTunes did. And, books have not been a mainly bricks and mortar shopping experience for years. So, I will sit back and watch what happens, no predictions from me.

The other comment, well, I’m entertained by the reviews of the iPad as an unwieldy and mirrorlike ereader, but I don’t think Apple actually developed it as an ereader. Just like the iPod/phone/touch the iPad is a multifunction device. And, because of that I don’t think it can be the best anything. The best ereader will fit in a purse/manpurse/ or pocket, will have a long lasting battery and will be readable outside. In my opinion anyway.

Just like the best phone, will be clear, light, easy to use and not feel like  a brick in my hand.

So, for those of you who like the new toys, I’m enjoying your posts about the iPad, but if I decide to buy one, I won’t be expecting it to be a perfect anything, I’ll be expecting it to do a good job with a lot of functionality.


twitter offer successful

Hi, short post this time to let you know that we tweeted out an offer to give an opinion on the first 10 pages of a manuscript. We got three submissions faster than – insert your favorite cliche here – and we were wowed by the work people sent.

To the three people who have now received our comments, well done. All three had us wanting to read more.

Sue and I are going to do this periodically, so follow PaperBox Books on twitter and watch for the invitation.

It’s sunny here – and still a bit windy. But who is going to say no thanks to a nice sunny day.

Happy writing


Indie Publishing or Self Publishing

Hi, there are any number of conversations going on around the blogsphere and the tweet world, and I’m sure off line in that old fashioned medium of voice conversations about this subject. Sue and I have had these conversations off line, too. It comes down to why would an author choose to work with an indie publisher rather than self publish, especially e-books.

We think it comes down to quality and reputation. I have bought some e-books recently, not so much because I wanted entertainment but to research. I’m not going to name names but here are some observations.

First, I bought books from and Smashwords, to ensure I had something from both ends of the spectrum.

What did I see?

  1. Stories that hadn’t started by the time I hit delete on my iTouch. So many of the books I read gave a ton of back story.
  2. Stories that had inconsistent point of view, or a point of view that allowed the author to tell the story, not show it.
  3. Stories with lots of ‘stage direction’ – character stops the car, turns off the ignition, opens the door, crosses the lawn, climbs the stairs, takes out the key, unlocks the door, opens the door, and walks in. (I’m not exaggerating)
  4. Stories with stilted dialogue. The big trigger is to look at the grammar in your dialogue, not even English teachers speak in correct and complete sentences all the time.

When it comes to uploading your book to Smashwords or to Amazon, you can pretty much do it with a click of the mouse. If you only revised with your own opinions, you won’t have seen what needs to be done. If only your mother, or sister, or friend, have read it, you won’t have professional advice on making the book readable and compelling.

An indie publisher will work with you to make the final changes to your manuscript to make it a marketable book. The readers for indie publishers aren’t reading for enjoyment – although that’s a nice bonus – they are reading to see if you have grabbed your reader enough to make they want to read to the end, they are looking for structural issues, and the last thing they will look for is grammar and punctuation.

If you think you need to work with someone who will give you advice on story revising and polishing, check out our submission guidelines at PaperBox Books

Happy writing.


How did we manage before….

This post title started out as ‘how did we manage before the Internet? but I realized the topic was wider than that.

I’m a trailing baby boomer (they just kept dropping the birth year until I was suddenly a baby boomer). I’m used to the realization that life has changed so much in my lifetime (I’m pretty sure there were no TVs when I was born – at least not easily accessible for a family) what I am always surprised at is how much has happened in the last 1/2 of my lifetime. This isn’t going to be another list of things like kids don’t know what a cassette deck is… I just wanted to give some perspective. Our first TV (we lived in Wales) required constant feeding of coin to make it work. Now, I can pick up my TV in one hand, and it will soon be in 3d (not sure if that’s a benefit but my mind is open).

So, today I run a consulting business and a share of a publishing business, I hold positions in two different professional communities and I write, and I do have a social life. I couldn’t have done that when I was younger – I can only manage it because I have twitter, blogs, email, conference call, webinars, online banking, MSN, IRC…….

I do waste some time on Twitter – who doesn’t, that’s what it’s for. But my time there is often, marketing, researching and connecting with people.  I write for 4 blogs all together, not daily but I do contribute. It’s a place to inform, connect and share. All in my PJs if I want.

Along with Sue and another writer/teacher/etc friend we’re working on developing two forms of writing workshops, on-line and in person. And, for my consulting company I’m doing the same.

I guess the point is, the technology has opened the possibilities for me to have a varied and exciting life. It’s up to me to make that happen.

So, the next time someone asks me why they should be on Twitter, blogging, Facebook,linked in, You Tube, I think I’ll answer – “What do you think you want to be there for?” It’s all about what you want to do, not what everyone else thinks you should do.

Have a great week.


Books 25% off until March 13

DRM – big brother or savvy marketing

Hi, well it’s December and NaNo is over (I won!! yay). I’m having  a little problem engaging in the world where word counts don’t matter so I poked around some postings about e-publishing. I found a request on LinkedIn for a recommendation for the best DRM available.

Yikes, my eyes did the cartoon pop out on springs – boing. DRM is a hotly contested issue these days. I have to say I’m on the side of as little as possible – I hate the fact that Apple tries to control where and how I’ll play the music I bought from them.

I fall on the side of the argument that thinks of e-books as similar to paper books. If I pay you for it, I should be able to lend it to whoever I want and read it on whatever reader I have.  A paper book gets shared and donated, just because you can put rules around a digital copy doesn’t mean you should.

It came home to me when I looked into downloading a Kindle book from They use mobi format which I can read on my Blackberry from any other etailer. Surprisingly mobi is only readable on the Kindle or my PC. Hmmm, I don’t get the link between selling books and confining people to a proprietary software.

We’ll see these things change over the next while. I think we’re in the eight track v cassette or VHS v Beta stage of the hardware development and the end result will be common format and competition back to how many books get sold. I don’t know if Kindle will continue to be the reader of choice or not, I’ll just wait a few months before buying a reader.

What are your thoughts on DRM and the future.