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Hello, and welcome to the June edition of The Clare and Chrissy Show. A big thank you to everyone who came out to cheer us on during both our recent Pride Month Chat over at the Beth Wylde Yahoo Group, and during Clare's recent forays into the Dreamspinner Blog and Facebook chat.

Clare: No matter where we are on the 'net, we always appreciate your support!

Chrissy: Have you had a good time trying out the variety of promo platforms in your web travels?

Clare: It's been interesting. Just when I think I'm on top of things there's a whole new platform to try out or panic over how to use. Not that I panic, of course. *cough*

Chrissy: Of course. Now, if you're a discerning reader of our monthly blog, you might think we are going to smoothly segue into a discussion on online promotion...

Clare: ...which isn't a bad idea. But this month we decided to turn our gaze to an even more interesting aspect of our writing life.

Chrissy: The technology involved in the writing process itself.

Clare: Because just like everything else in life now,

Clare: and Chrissy: There's an App for that! Writing that is. Seems like everywhere we look someone wants to tell us there's a better, smarter way to write. Forget the mousetrap, today it's all about building the better novel.

Some of us may have started our careers with nothing more than good old pen and paper as our tool of choice. Remember the smudges? Especially if we were left-handers. There was no way to hide the tell-tale smears of graphite or ink smeared along our hand, and then everything else we touched by default.

Clare: As we progressed we discovered the joys of typewriters and white-out. Correction tape and carbon paper *surreptitiously wipes hand on jeans*.

Chrissy: You need strong fingers to build up any speed on a manual typewriter. It's a workout in itself. Hmmmm…. I wonder if there's one still in the basement?

Clare: You can have at it. I prefer to get my calorie burn in other ways. *lifts frosty margarita glass* Thankfully, manual gave way to electric, electric gave way to word processors, word processors gave way to computers and the joys of writing software began.

Chrissy: Some of us may prefer the simplicity of a basic word processing program. Cut and paste, drag and drop. With easier ways to create headers and footers, change fonts and margins, and our friend "find and replace", a good word processor is a wonderful tool and one it would be hard to do without.

Clare: *rubbing accountant's hands together in glee* Don't forget a spreadsheet program for plotting, scene outlines, and character detail. Instead of hunting through multiple notebooks studded with sticky notes and a never-ending supply of lists, worksheets are easily searchable, printable, and most importantly, changeable. So much less fumbling than plotting with index cards. And the joy of watching word count grow!! (hopefully)

Story-DevelopmentChrissy: Like all good technology, writing software has continued to evolve and become more specific. The choices available to an author are pretty impressive, everything from basic text editors to story development tools and combinations of the two.

Clare: Just do a basic Google search and prepare to be amazed. All kinds of options will come up including Scrivener for both Mac and Windows, Liquid Story Binder, WriteItNow, NewNovelist, and MyNovel to name just a few.

Chrissy: They all look so tempting. It's almost as bad as the latest office supply or gardening catalog. How are we supposed to choose?

Clare: Most programs offer a demo version to try out, and there are plenty of review sites out there with a wide range of opinions. But in the end, it seems to come back to personal preference.

Chrissy: *gasp* You mean ...

Clare: Yes, dear. You are going to have to make a decision.

Chrissy: The horror. But before we even get to that dreaded point there are other considerations to be made. Do we want software that's hard drive based or Web? Does everyone tease you your head is always in the clouds? Now your writing can be too, with Google Docs, LitLift, Yarny, and online storage/access programs such as Dropbox. Don't worry if you are away from your office when the muse attacks, just whip out your favorite device and keep typing with the iPad, iPhone, or Android versions of MyWritingSpot. The wealth of options is enough to make me dizzy.

Clare: *coughs*

Chrissy: I am so ignoring you right now. Many programs have free versions, such as ywriter5, Storybook, or Storybox which gives you the choice of using the program for a free, never-ending trial or paying for it if you love it. (pssst. Self-pubbers – check out their TrackerBox software to track sales and import reports from major resellers).

Clare: Now I'm getting dizzy.

Chrissy: Heh. Of course, we can also just keep using Word, but take advantage of add-ins such as Writing Outliner and their corkboard features, or sit back and wait to see what the next advance will be.

Clare: I'm waiting for the brain-to-hard-drive-interface. No more struggling to get the words out, I'm just going to think my next novel.

Chrissy: Suuuuure you are.

Clare: Well, a gal can dream, can't she? :)

Chrissy: After buying software licenses for an entire office, the prices on most of these seem quite reasonable. And I'm more than tempted by a couple of the free versions. The question is, which one?

Clare: Yet another author distracted by the shiny.

Chrissy: I can't help it. I like this bit of one, and that bit of another. I guess I'm waiting for the build-my-own option.

Clare: Just keep on waiting, sweetie.

keep-calm-and-just-writeClare: and Chrissy: Of course, it doesn't matter how much a program may cost, or the number of bells and whistles it may offer, it won't do any good if we don't sit down and use it.

We want to know what you think (and help us make up our minds). Do you have a favorite writing software? Have you tried any of the software listed, but decided against using them? Is there one you love that isn't listed? Are you excited to do your writing in the cloud, prefer to keep your office supply store in business with your pen and paper purchases, or a combination of all options?

Everyone who comments to this month's post will be entered into our random drawing for free download from either of our backlists. Winner to be announced at our next monthly blog post.

SPECIAL NOTE: We're gearing up for a special "open forum" episode of The Clare and Chrissy Show later this year. Do you have a question about one of our posts? One of our stories? Love or Hate our characters? Interested in our favorite music? Reader's choice! All Clare, all Chrissy, all questions will be answered. But fear not shy soul, no names will be used, only questions.

You have between now and September 2012 to think of a question you'd like answered and email it to chrissymunder@yahoo.com. Be sure to mark which one of us the question is for, and then sit back and get ready to learn all.

Keep Calm picture credit to keepcalm-o-matic.co.uk


May Winner: samikitty- Congratulations! Please email your mailing address to Chrissy at chrissymunder@yahoo.com for your festive Clare and Chrissy Swag.

Missed a month? Follow the sticky post for these rambles of ours HERE

Be sure to catch the latest from Clare London. 3 Sexy Shorts featuring the men of True Colors.

And to learn more about us:

Here's Chrissy! website // blog.

Here's Clare! website // blog.


( 39 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 20th, 2012 12:12 pm (UTC)
Hi, Chrissy and Clare have you ever tried writing together in Google Docs? It's great fun and you can chat at the same time. That's how I teamed up with Andrea Speed, Jessie Blackwood to do our online soap. It's been a real hoot.

We each write our own characters and sometimes we're both writing at the same time, on different paragraphs. It's real "role playing". The basic plot might be sort of hashed out, but what we say isn't and, as you can imagine, with Andrea Speed on board, that has us in stitches and never knowing what's going to come next.

The only drawback? Andy is in Seattle, I'm in Sydney and Jessie and Katisha are in England.
Jun. 20th, 2012 02:46 pm (UTC)
I'm an enthusiastic user of Google Docs for storage, and for keeping the latest version of my WIP at hand wherever I am. It's saved me many a time when I've forgotten to travel with a memory stick, or haven't saved the right file to the right computer. And I use it for shared documents on organising the UK Meet, it's been invaluable for that.

I haven't done a lot of collaborative writing, but I can see how good it'd be for that :)
(no subject) - chrissymunder - Jun. 21st, 2012 12:21 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - a_b_gayle - Jun. 21st, 2012 06:21 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jun. 20th, 2012 12:16 pm (UTC)
I use Scrivener for Windows and I love it! I keep it on my USB stick so I can use it on any machine I choose. I also back things up to Dropbox with it.

The outline view is incredibly useful for planning and seeing the shape of a novel. It's also much easier to find the right place if you need to check or alter little details. Love the character sheets and other bits you can add into your project binder too - and the splitscreen view - and the name generator!

Yep, Scrivener rocks. It's great for self-publishers too as it's incredibly easy to create great looking mobi and epub files using it :)
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(no subject) - clarelondon - Jun. 20th, 2012 02:51 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - chrissymunder - Jun. 21st, 2012 12:24 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - clarelondon - Jun. 20th, 2012 02:50 pm (UTC) - Expand
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(no subject) - clarelondon - Jun. 20th, 2012 03:26 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - josephine_myles - Jun. 20th, 2012 06:34 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - chrissymunder - Jun. 21st, 2012 12:29 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - chrissymunder - Jun. 21st, 2012 12:23 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jun. 20th, 2012 01:45 pm (UTC)
I've heard people talk about Scrivner, but I'm just not sure I'd use it. I tend to just use Word, that's what you need to send to publishers and that's what comes back for edits, so ....

I love Dropbox though. It's so easy to make a box and share with other people. I used it even for work when we couldn't get a program to let me download a large photo that was too big to attack. I just created a box, gave the guy permision and lickity split I had the picture. So it's quite handy and easily accessible from anywhere.

I can't imagine the use of an app for my phone. I can barely type a reply on Facebook without screwing up the words and getting something wrong. A whole paragraph or chapter? It would be in gibberish, although probably hilarious using autocorrect. I don't like reading on my phone either. Not books anyway.
Jun. 20th, 2012 02:54 pm (UTC)
Good point about Word being the default document. I assume Scrivener doesn't add formatting or anything, unless you want it? Yes I know, I need to go away and look it up this weekend :)

No, still struggling with Dropbox. It's an emotional thing - I feel I'm giving up control of my documents to this nebulous Cloud! But I'm using Google Docs more and more, and to share documents, so I'm being slowly won over :)

I have a mobile phone. I make calls on it, and take an occasional grainy photo. That's all *mwahahahaha*. You'll have to get behind me in the Luddite queue.
(no subject) - cdn_tam - Jun. 20th, 2012 02:59 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - chrissymunder - Jun. 21st, 2012 12:34 pm (UTC) - Expand
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Jun. 20th, 2012 06:37 pm (UTC)
Alex, Scrivener saves every two seconds, and you can set it to automatically back everything up at another location every time you close it down. It's really, really safe :)

But if it makes you feel better, you can always make it churn out a word doc of your project at the end of every session. Only takes a second to generate one.
(no subject) - clarelondon - Jun. 20th, 2012 08:02 pm (UTC) - Expand
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(no subject) - clarelondon - Jun. 20th, 2012 08:09 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - chrissymunder - Jun. 21st, 2012 12:37 pm (UTC) - Expand
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(no subject) - chrissymunder - Jun. 21st, 2012 05:27 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jun. 20th, 2012 06:34 pm (UTC)
*snicker* Man, I totally got distracted there at the end by the shiny book covers. *ogles some more*

Writing. Yes. I use a combination of options. If I outline at all *cough* I use a notebook. Generally this happens only if I know going in that what I'm working on will be long and complicated plot-wise. There's something soothing about scrunching into a corner of the Big Red Sofa with a pad of paper and a pencil, and sketching out a list of This, This, That... It seems easier to see the big picture when I'm holding it in my hands. I don't bother making a lot of detailed notes, because the story always, at some point, will take the bit in its teeth and start to run, and I generally let it (which is not to say there won't be massive editing later).

For the actual writing, a simple word processing program is fine. Too many whistles and bells are distracting, and can even be irritating, because the damn program keeps trying to "help" me, and just gets in the way. Hence my vexation with the 2010 version of Word. Soooo many "helpful" features that I've wasted time turning OFF OFF OFF!

A lot of times, once I've got a rough draft going I'll copy it to LJ or DW, and mark the entry Private. That way I can fuss with it at work during breaks or lunch, and it's not hanging around on my work PC's hard drive, nor is there a telltale little flash drive sticking out of my work PC. Heh. Determined fanfic writer is determined. ;)

Jun. 20th, 2012 08:08 pm (UTC)
Ahhh, but yes, the notebook is a fond favourite, as is the sheaf of small notes I shove in my pocket all through the day as I scribble down passing ideas for stories! :)

I wrote a 300k-word bodice ripper in bygone days, and there are still 2 huge A5 sheets of paper stuck on the back of my wardrobe door with multi-coloured sticky notes, one colour for each main character, just to work out who was where, when.

I've posted drafts to LJ before, it's a good idea. I email them to myself, too. I've had some problems in the past with the size of the piece, though.
(no subject) - chrissymunder - Jun. 21st, 2012 12:44 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jun. 20th, 2012 09:08 pm (UTC)
I've always been old-fashioned and used the piles of notebooks idea. For my current WIP though I *gasp* did a character/mythos sheet on word and outlined.

I suspect that's about as technological as I'm probably going to go, and I've printed it out as an easy reference which some would say defeats the purpose of doing it instead of notebooks. Although I'm still using those too.

Oh well.

But then if my technology crashes I have paper backups, right?

*whispers* And this way I can still justify buying the pretty notebooks and other assorted stationery.
Jun. 21st, 2012 08:32 am (UTC)
Aha, another stationery fan LOL. That's always been one of my main treats in going to Japantown at Yaoi Con - stocking up on pens and pads *rolls eyes*.

I think my mind works in a more scattered way (if "works" is the right word...) so although I do keep notes on paper, I have a running draft email (to myself) that I add odd thoughts and ideas to at any time. It saves carrying around different paper lists. Then I open the email to hand when I'm writing, to make sure I pick up on anything new.

I'm looking for new ways to approach this, I admit, because I'd like to get back into novel writing. It's too much for my spongey brain, to keep all my WIP in my head!
(no subject) - chrissymunder - Jun. 21st, 2012 12:47 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jun. 21st, 2012 03:55 am (UTC)
I do the notebook, write or die, copy/paste into Word thing, with a copy saved to Google Docs. I have a huge affection for Google Docs because I started using it in 2005 when it was called Writely and I have close to a million words of fiction stored on it.

One caveat about it - the longer the piece of work the more clunky it is to load and navigate. I split things up into 25k sections to save myself the frustration of having to wait while they load.

I've contemplated using Scrivener but, frankly, the cost of it has put me off.
Jun. 21st, 2012 08:36 am (UTC)
Useful tip about length on Google Docs, thanks!

I'm definitely not above investing in my writing, and I think if I went full-time, I'd be looking for an app that joined me in management tasks, not just transcribing my words *g*. Scrivener and its ilk seem to be in that category.

Write or Die is intriguing! I'm looking into that right now. Anything that stops me procrastinating is to be praised :)
(no subject) - elin_gregory - Jun. 21st, 2012 01:35 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - elin_gregory - Jun. 21st, 2012 01:55 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - chrissymunder - Jun. 21st, 2012 03:09 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - chrissymunder - Jun. 21st, 2012 12:52 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - elin_gregory - Jun. 21st, 2012 01:40 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jun. 21st, 2012 12:56 pm (UTC)
Wow, it definitely sounds like Scrivener is the program of choice. Is it going to be the Word of the writing programs and kick everything else to the dirt? (Of course, I still think fondly of Word Perfect and all the lovely things I was able to do with that program. Macros just never seemed to work the same in Word).

I am still curious if anyone has tried any of the other programs? Or is Scrivener just the compilation of all the features loved in the other programs put together and no one wastes their time?

Ooh, and I found this great link with reviews of some of the software listed above: Click HERE .

Edited at 2012-06-21 12:58 pm (UTC)
Jun. 22nd, 2012 05:53 am (UTC)
I use Dropbox for sharing big files, but I really ought to start using it for back-up storage too.

Still not tried Scrivener, but keep meaning too.
Jun. 22nd, 2012 03:10 pm (UTC)
Hi Stevie, another user plus in the Dropbox spreadsheet. I understand the appeal of the unthinking ease factor when using it for storage.

In addition to my external hd, I'm (shhh, don't tell anyone) using a separate yahoo email address for offsite backup. Completed stories, wips, research etc. I zip the files down and email them to this address and separate them into their own folders/subfolders just like they are on my computer.

The plus is: Unlimited storage capabilities, easy access anywhere I am, and as someone else mentioned, I figure Yahoo probably won't go out of business. Once the intial setup is done, I only need to worry about the wips.

The minus: I need to zip and email the file once every couple of days.
Jul. 2nd, 2012 07:05 pm (UTC)
Wowser. Now that's something to look forward to.
( 39 comments — Leave a comment )