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#FrankieWIP Catching Up!

Frankie Av

Hi everyone! I do apologize for being absent a while. I was ill for three weeks and only just beginning to feel like myself again. I’m still a bit rough, so no video today!

I’ve been editing Emergence with every free moment I get when I have the motivation. It’s going good so far, though there have been days I’ve stared at a chapter for hours before actually doing something! XD But that is a hold-back particular to my fibromyalgia, and-because I know this-I forgive myself if I’m unable to complete more than one chapter a day.

A few days ago when I was unable to concentrate at all on writing, I read the next few chapters of Emergence. I read up to chapter twenty-six, and the more I read, the more I was convinced that someone else wrote the pages then stuck them in my drive. They just seemed too good and creepy to be something I had written in a hurry during NaNoWriMo. It was quite surprising to find that one or two chapters will only require a little editing, unless I change parts of the story. Which I did when rewriting the last chapter I worked on. Not a huge change, but one which will have future ramifications for the characters.

Through reading, I discovered that I have pretty much solved how the third book to the trilogy will play out, so I’m very pleased! I knew how the third would end, but only an inkling on why it would end that way. Now, looking at everything with fresh eyes, I see the threads I wove into the story which will accumulate to complete the third book. It’s all very exciting. In fact, I got so excited about it that I jumped onto the Dead Pete society conversation and just squee’d for a few minutes! XD

So, that’s about it for me, save to say I’m still collecting My Little Ponies and geeking out over new additions to my collection. I’m also planning to make a display for them this weekend! I’m a very busy Dragon!

Hope you are all well, and I’ll catch you all next week 😉

F.R. Donaldson lives in scenic Scotland. She is the author of the psychological sci-fi MALEVOLENCE

 

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#WriteTip: Why Scrivener is the Best Thing to Have Ever Happened to Me

Sam av

I’ve been hyping this program for quite a long time now, and it’s TIME. It is time for me to tell you why I love this program so much.

Scrivener is a word processor (think like Microsoft Word) specifically aimed at novelists, though it also has its uses for journalists, bloggers, students, professionals, etc. For anyone that is planning on writing a long project, this program is indispensable. Of course, there are a few comparable programs out there, but for ease of use and ‘bang for your buck,’ my opinion is that Scrivener is King.

The reasons for this?

  • It’s incredibly easy to use
  • You can import existing files to start using it mid-project
  • It’s fantastic for chapter and scene separations
  • You can drag and drop entire sections in seconds
  • It will format your book for you for eBook, paperback, or other formats
  • It’s remarkably CHEAP for how powerful it is
  • You can get it 50% off for winning NaNoWriMo

How I Used to Write

When I first started writing, I, like many writers, started with Microsoft Word. But as you probably already know, Microsoft Office is very expensive. Furthermore, for writing novels it’s actually not very good. You have to become a formatting expert and know how to use pretty much every feature of Word, for starters. And, writing chapters is a total pain in the ass. Either you write the entire book on one document with section breaks – which bogs down the program and makes it difficult to use – or you make a new document for every chapter – which makes it difficult to edit, compile, etc.

My workaround was to combine the use of Word and Excel. I’d use Excel to do all of my planning and keep the novel organized, kind of like a map of the novel. And then I’d make a separate document in Word for each chapter. As I’ve said, this is a total pain. Google Documents made it slightly easier, as I could hyperlink my documents in the spreadsheet, so I could use it as a launch pad for the novel and go anywhere I wanted to fairly quickly.

Why Scrivener Blew My Mind

Scrivener was both of the things that I needed in one place. I watched a friend drag and drop a whole chapter from one place to another and my jaw dropped. I was already sold. She outlined the whole book with shell chapters, wrote the descriptions on the index cards marking each one, and then wrote within them. If I decide later that I want to move a scene, a chapter, etc, I can just grab that and move it – drag and drop. The sidebar containing the chapters became my Excel spreadsheet. The window for writing became the Word document.

Better yet, I could load up pictures to the Research section for inspiration, as well as upload or fill in sheets for every character and setting, which I was also using separate documents for in Word and Excel.

The Best Part, and Why This is Totally Worth the $40

Scrivener formats your book for you.

If you’ve never tried to format, it takes a ridiculously long time and a LOT of patience. Endless tweaking, just to get it to look right. Having a program take your words and doll them up for you is fantastic. It only takes a few seconds, and it will put my novel into whatever format I want, whether it be ebook or print paperback or just a PDF for sending to friends.

Complaints

I have trouble with simple formatting features like setting a permanent font and page indents. It seems like mine differ from project to project. It’s probably just something I haven’t figured out quite yet.

Frankie and I have also run into some issues like setting ‘Gutter Margins,’ which are margins that are wider where the book’s spine would be. These are staggered, meaning some pages have a wide left margin and some have a wide right margin, and Scrivener will do them for you…but only if you have the Mac version apparently. Frankie runs Windows, so sometimes she and I find some differences in what we are dealing with, and my Mac version seems to be slightly superior.

I also have not quite figured out Front Matter, but after watching this video I’m going to end with, I think I have a lead on how to figure this out.

Conclusion

If you win NaNoWriMo, you can get this for 50% off. That’s $20. It’s so worth it. Some people don’t love Scrivener, but at least 90% of the people I talk to who have tried it are rabid fans of the program (myself included). I love how organized the program is, and how much of the more nitty gritty legwork the program will do for you, like formatting.

I highly recommend this to anyone who is starting to take themselves seriously. There’s a certain air of sobriety that happens when Scrivener boots up.

It’s like, “Yeah…I bought a program because I’m going to write the fuck out of this book and things are starting to get serious.”

Because you just bought a program whose sole purpose is for you to finish this thing. You’re going to love it, though. Sometimes I just boot this up and stare at it, admiring the raw beauty of it.

It’s not because I can’t think of what to write, I swear.


S.K. Balk lives in the frozen wasteland of Northern Michigan. She is the author of the dystopian medical sci-fi THE BLOOD OF NERYS (also available in print).

Check out the #WriteTip category for more writing advice and tools from Frankie and Sam!

#FrankieWIP NaNoWriMo Ends and Hardback Malevolence!

Frankie Av

Finished NaNoWriMo on just over 85 thousand words! I also ordered a hard-backed copy of Malevolence and it is so COOL!

F.R. Donaldson lives in scenic Scotland. She is the author of the psychological sci-fi MALEVOLENCE

#WhateverWednesday Goal Achieved!

Frankie Av

Well, I managed to hit the NaNoWriMo 50k word goal today and I’m still writing. I’ve not finished Emergence quite yet, only completed the 50k NaNoWriMo challenge. I’ll keep adding to the total as I go and hopefully will be finished soon 😀
I hope everyone taking part is doing well! Just remember, it’s not a race, nor a competition, it’s simply a goal to achieve or strive towards. Whatever you manage to write, well done! Keep going! 😀

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F.R. Donaldson lives in scenic Scotland. She is the author of the psychological sci-fi MALEVOLENCE

 

#FrankieWIP Halfway There!

Frankie Av

I hit the 25k mark yesterday on NaNoWriMo! That brings the tally for Emergence at approximately sixty-five thousand and just over halfway through writing!
Music by Kevin MaCleod at Incomputech.com

F.R. Donaldson lives in scenic Scotland. She is the author of the psychological sci-fi  MALEVOLENCE

#FrankieWIP NaNoWriMo and Fibromyalgia

Frankie Av

While I wanted to write a ton yesterday, I was only able to manage one chapter. Fibromyalgia kicked my butt, then the meds I take for it burned my stomach when one broke in my mouth! It wasn’t a good day yesterday….but I did write something 😀

F.R. Donaldson lives in scenic Scotland. She is the author of the psychological sci-fi  MALEVOLENCE

#WhateverWednesday And They’re Off!

Frankie Av

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NaNoWriMo started yesterday and I think I’ve made a pretty good start considering I’ve worked two consecutive 12.5 hour night shifts these last two nights! I have almost 5000 words written and plan to write more after I upload this blog.
What I love about NaNoWriMo is not just the writing, the goal setting and the planning, it’s how fired up all my writing friends are. How their imaginations are creating an explosion of ideas all over the writing forums and groups. There is excitement in the air, a real buzz of creativity and everyone is enjoying themselves!
Of course, we are only into day two, but that excitement never really fades. Some might get disheartened at times, maybe stuck a little, probably frustrated, but the excitement of writing a novel in 30 days wins out in the end!

Even though I am sleep deprived, even though my mind is working slower than usual, and even though I am getting distracted by almost everything today, I set a word count goal and I intend to meet it. So I will go make yet another coffee, stretch my body out a little, maybe fire up Spotify to keep me company, and then write ALL the words 😀

Good luck to everyone participating in NaNoWriMo this year! I hope you all enjoy it as much as we do!

F.R. Donaldson lives in scenic Scotland. She is the author of the psychological sci-fi  MALEVOLENCE

#WriteTip #WeCreate: Double Post Special. Work space and Cutey Bear!

This will be a double post, covering #Writetip Friday and #WeCreate Saturday.

First off, write tip!
One way to get into the writing zone, is making sure you have a work space which helps you focus and concentrate–even generate ideas. The work space in my office looks so terribly messy, but everything is there for a reason.

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  • There is a skull to the left which remind me of how fleeting life is, and how scary your mind can be.
  • There are some of my action figures dotted around which help me remember fantastic scenes and stories which I can draw on for inspiration.
  • There are my posters, similar to the figures in the feelings and memories they invoke. Of course, Captain Scarlet was always finding himself in peril, much like my own characters!
  • There are my work boards with my character sheets, flow charts and story outline for Emergence, so I don’t get lost in my writing.
  • I have my speakers set up for playing my writing play-lists which help me to concentrate.
  • There is my cup warmer to keep my tea warm while I write as I often forget I made one!
  • My actual space is relatively clear so I don’t get annoyed while typing.
  • My chair is set up at the right height, with cushions on it for comfort.
  • Lighting is set up so I don’t strain my eyes, the monitors are at 50% brightness or lower depending on how dry my eyes are.
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Some of my little friends! 😀

All of this makes me happy, and I think you need to feel happy in your work space, otherwise your writing will suffer due to your frustration.  Sometimes my work space changes if I feel I need a certain mind set, so I might change it around a little. But, for the most part, all of these items remain in place.

What is your word space like and why? Let me know!

As for #WeCreate, I received this in the mail today, all the way from Hungary. It’s from my dear friend Kitti, and she made it herself as a gift for me.

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As I’ve said before, art can mean many things to many people, but it all means something. I can look at this lovely little bear and see the work which went into her creation. Every stitch made in a certain way to shape the form of the bear. The choice of yarn used, to give her a smooth and pretty finish. The little bows as added accents, just to make her so cute. But there is more in this little bear than her stuffing and material.
There is love in every little stitch, thanks in every piece of stuffing and she is friendship existing in a material form. Yes she is adorable and cute and well made, but to me, she is more than just a little bear; she is a symbol of friendship. Therefore, I named her Amity, which means; Friendship!
And now, she sits on my work space, next to the skull and the alien from the first Independence Day, to remind me that not everything in life is harsh and depressing. Sometimes, life is beautiful. 🙂

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F.R. Donaldson lives in scenic Scotland. She is the author of the psychological sci-fi MALEVOLENCE

 

#FrankieWIP New Shifts, New Routine…All Mucked Up!

Frankie Av

A little update, a little apology and a little explanation…

F.R. Donaldson lives in scenic Scotland. She is the author of the psychological sci-fi MALEVOLENCE

#WriteTip Character Bio: Kai Burton

Frankie Av

To be able to write a convincing character, you have to know your character inside and out. Not just their appearance or how they speak, but how they think and feel and why they act the way you imagine. You are the creator of this person, to convince others this person is real, you have to know the character and believe in them yourself. Take these two character bios for example:

1)

Name Bob Brown
Reason for being in story Street cleaner. Just a bit character for my main character to interact with

2)

Name Bob Brown-AKA- Can Man
Reason for being in story Can Man imparts advice to main character which will help her in solving the crime.
Interesting points for character and run down 1) Can Man cleans the street with a broom on which is tied a red ribbon.

2) Not paid to clean the streets, just does so every day.

3) Ribbon on broom is from a little girl who gave him the broom to replace the one which was broken the day Bob saved her from being hit by a car.

4) Bob moves stiffly because he broke his leg in the incident.

5) Bob cleans the street for no pay or recognition because his own daughter died when she tripped over a can and fell into oncoming traffic

Obviously this is only for illustration purposes. A bio like this is only relevant for your major characters. There can be bit-characters, background people who do not need a backstory. But having a little backstory for your main characters makes them more believable, makes them come alive in the mind of your readers. A character bio will make your character come alive in your own mind, and allow you to create a well rounded, believable character.

The character I’d like to show today is Kai Burton from my book Malevolence. He is the main protagonist of the story and much of it revolves around him. The person I feel resembles Kai the most is Gerard Butler. Though this isn’t an exact match, it’s near enough for me to base Kai’s character picture on Mr Butler.

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Name Kai Burton
Reason for being in story Main Protagonist
Details DOB: 05/06/1973

Body: 6’2” tall. Dark blue eyes, dark shaggy brown hair. Perpetual five o’clock shadow. Well built physique. Small scar above right eyebrow.

Personality: Dependable, loyal, trustworthy and reliable. But also cynical, moody, stubborn and at times intimidating–especially following an event which took place two years prior to Malevolence.
Interesting points for character After almost fifteen years of service in the army, Kai has his fair share of horror stories. He suffers from PTSD and crippling nightmares, though he does not allow this to define him.

A very focussed and intelligent man, Kai is the one in the story who many rely upon for friendship and help.

Run down Kai struggled to find work after leaving the army and answered an advert to join the team at fictional Kali Institute in Edinburgh as a paid research subject. He and his best friend Logan McKenzie both entered the Mentis A-3 trial, and both suffered the consequences.  

Kai became what is referred to as a Mind Adept; an evolved person who developed telekinetic and telepathic powers. But it’s not easy being a Mind Adept; it’s not like it is in comic books or movies at all. In fact, it is extremely punishing for those who evolved into Adepts, especially those who were left with the most powerful effects of the serum. Most of the Adepts struggle daily with their powers, some even withdrew from society after finding it too difficult to live near other people.

Kai is one of the strongest Adepts. His mind is powerful, his abilities far reaching. He is able to hear and sense the thoughts and emotions of those around him and over quite a distance. He is able to project his own thoughts and emotions to others, as well as manipulate objects with his mind. But being this powerful has left him with a mind far more fragile than one might believe.

He has a hard time dealing with his abilities, even though he has been in possession of them for over two years by the time Malevolence begins. Often overpowered by the thoughts of others around him, Kai struggles to maintain equilibrium within his own mind. There are times his abilities overrun and he finds himself inundated with the psychological information from others. This can lead to a very dangerous condition called, Overload–something Kai has experienced on a few occasions.

  Kai has learned to protect himself against Overload and psychic saturation by blocking his powers. This puts him under a lot of psychological and physical stress, something which leaves him utterly exhausted. This is when he is at his most vulnerable and the danger of Overload is at its most high, therefore Kai tends to sleep a lot. This allows his brain to rest and recover from processing such large volumes of psychological information. If he does not rest, his powers get out of control and this can lead to dangerous situations.
  It is because of the danger his powers and mind pose that Kai made the decision to become a full-time tenant living within the Kali Institute. There are a few of the original test group living at the institute after self-contained flats were built in the below-ground levels following the disaster of the MA3 trial.

   Despite all of this,  Kai is actually the most balanced of the Adepts. His regimented and disciplined mind allows him to wield his powers far more skilfully than almost all of the others. He is highly proficient in their use making him the second most powerful of all the Adepts.

   Kai’s belief that the Kali institute had a duty to care for those affected by the MA3 serum, and his convincing advocacy of this belief led to management creating the homes in the below-ground levels of the institute. It also led to the formation of training and counselling programs for those who struggled with their powers.

   Kai is driven to find Louise–creator of MA3–with the hopes of forcing her to reverse the effects, and bring her to account for what she did during the trial.  As a result, he makes himself a target for her hatred and wrath.

And there you have it. The character bio of the lead male character in Malevolence. This is a slightly modified one as spoilers have been removed. But this character sheet allows me to understand Kai and his part in the story. I hope you find this as useful as I do and that this post will help you in your writing! 😀

F.R. Donaldson lives in scenic Scotland. She is the author of the psychological sci-fi MALEVOLENCE