Unidentified Snippet: Vacation edition

Hi everyone!

I’m on vacation starting TODAY!  So here’s an unidentified snippet (that’s, admittedly, not very vacation-like,) for your reading enjoyment:

Jenna looked to her friend, then turned to look in the very direction Aubrey was turning away from with her jacket held over her face.  The pair of legs that were lying in the sunshine were attached to the rest of a man who was in the shadow, his body bisected by the shade of the building. 

“He was alive this morning,” Aubrey hissed.  “We saw him on the way to school!”

Jenna swallowed down a sigh.  She found it odd, but admirable, she supposed, that Aubrey still said things like that.  Maybe that was the normal way to handle it, she thought.  But while Aubrey looked away and shielded herself from the details of the dead body lying half-in-half-out of the alleyway, Jenna looked at the man, waiting for fear, or disgust, or pity to rise up in her chest. 

It never did.  No matter how many times she looked. 

I’ll try to post a happier snippet next week to close out my vacation.🙂

Cool Tools: Get Automated

It’s time for another Cool Tools post, where I talk about systems and tools that make my life more productive!

Last time, I talked about my favorite task management solution, Todoist.  This time, I’m going to dive into a couple of tools that can help automate parts of your life, on and off the web.  These tools even hook into Todoist to supercharge your productivity, so it’s the perfect follow-up.

If you’re not familiar with online automation, your not alone.  When I first found these tools, I figured I was last to the party. They are so powerful and so easy, I was certain everyone must have already known about them.  But, as I started talking to friends–even my more tech-minded buddies–I realized that no: I wasn’t the last the party. A surprising number of people didn’t know the first thing about online automation, which means a fair few of you probably don’t know much about it either.  So, here you go:

“Automation services do one simple thing: they create cause and effect links between the various web services you use. Want to save every photo you’re tagged in on Facebook to your Dropbox account for safe keeping? Automation makes that happen behind the scenes, without you lifting a finger. If This Then That (IFTTT) has long been one of our favorites for this, but that doesn’t mean it’s the only game in town. Zapier is a similar service that’s been around for a while and largely aimed at business users and enterprise services.”

–Lifehacker.com | Automation Showdown: IFTTT vs. Zapier. vs. Microsoft Flow 

The ways to use these services are virtually endless–definitely too many to go into in any depth here, so I’ll talk about how I use IFTTT and Zapier to make my life easier. Hopefully, that will inspire you to poke around and see how one or both of these might be able to help you too!   Continue reading

What Am I Working On?

It’s time for another ‘What Am I Working On?’ post!

Right now, I am deep in edit-mode for the project I’m currently working on: a paranormal romance set in New Orleans, code named CLOAK (click the link to go to the Pinterest board for this project). I mentioned CLOAK in my last ‘What Am I Working On’ post, where I was only about halfway through the first draft. I gotta say, I’m pretty happy with how efficiently I finished that draft–and the overall quality of it!

My editing process goes something like this:

  1. Read/Revise/Edit in Scrivener – this step is mostly about spotting obvious errors, tightening up scenes and taking care of any final to-dos. This is also the step where I confirm the order of scenes and make the first pass at inserting chapter breaks.
  2. Export to MS Word
  3. Read/Revise/Edit in MS Word + Grammarly – In this step, things get more serious.  I read the whole books again, with a tool called Grammarly (think MS Word spell checker on steroids) running alongside. In this step, I also firm up the chapter breaks and further nitpick sentences.
  4. Send to my Alpha Readers for review!  (This time, I have 4 Alpha Readers lined up and ready to go!)
  5. Take a break – while my Alpha Readers read and comment, I try not to look at the manuscript at all, so I come back to it with fresh eyes for step 6.
  6. Apply Alpha Reader notes – In this step, I go through each set of Alpha Reader notes and apply them to the manuscript.  Sometimes I have to make hard decisions, but for the most part, this is very cut and dry.
  7. Final Formatting – This time around, I’ll be formatting it for submission to publishers/agents, which means some different tweaks than formatting it for e-book publishing.
  8. Send to my Beta Readers for review!  – I’m not sure if I’ll be sending this to Beta Readers this time around.  My  Alpha Readers are awesome. It will depend on what kinds of notes I get back from them if I feel the story needs another round of review before submitting. So this step is TBD.
  9. Submit!  I’ll be pitching this manuscript at Emerald City Writers Conference in October, so its first submission is coming up quick!  Ready or not, here I come!

Continue reading