Joseph Giddings' Gear Shop


Tools of the Trade

Yesterday morning I started writing a story.  I know, a freaking miracle.  However, about a page in I realized that this was a fine time to get Scrivener installed and learn how to use it properly.  So I download it, install it, and start working through the tutorial.  Hours later (spread over the course of a day, finally finishing this morning), I was drowning in way too many features and way too much information. How much writing did I get finished during this time?

Absolutely none.

However, once I completed the tutorial I felt I was ready to start getting into the story.  I start a new project and get ready to write.  I look in the binder and I am immediately awash in a load of pre-generated text, folders, and sample material.  WTF?

How about just starting with the basic structure of a Scrivener project and letting me populate with MY material?  I don’t need your sample material, and for a beginner with the program, we may not exactly be comfortable with editing the composition of a template.  I know I’m not.

I could take the time to figure out Scrivener, and I’m sure there are a lot of people out there who will quickly deride my post here and tell me I’m a tool bag for bad mouthing such a fine program.  I will make it clear here, right now – I’m not putting the program down.  I just don’t think it’s the program for me given the time I have (or lack thereof).

And I’m still not getting any writing done.

Of course, I’m writing this right now, so I guess there’s that. 🙂

So I shut the damn thing down, reopened my original document from yesterday (in Open Office Writer, a fine program with very little screen clutter to get in the way), and get back to work.

Keep It Simple, Stupid.

I know a lot of writers out there swear by Scrivener.  But then again, there are a lot of products out there that writers use daily that they feel is the best thing since the invention of paper.  There are a lot of tools out there for writers to get their ideas onto a page.  Many are just there to catch the writer and to get them to fork over decent money for something that, at the end of the day, is just an over-glorified word processor.

Seen the commercial on TV for Dragon Naturally Speaking?  Where they try to convince you that writers can benefit from the program?  The “writer” they use for the commercial is rather lackluster in writing skill.  Maybe she’s just a bit melancholy…

So far I’ve managed to write, edit, format, and submit all of my stories using Open Office and Microsoft Office.  Those are my tools.  I may occasionally feed a manuscript to an analyzer to see if I’m using certain words too often, but really, I don’t need much else.

Some writers may still find my needs too much.  Those folks write longhand, with a pen and a piece of paper.  *shudder*

Let me get back to my story.  It’s not going to write itself.  Wait, I bet there’s a writer’s tool out there for that, too…


The Submissions Grinder

Listed over there on the left is probably one of the best sites I’ve ever found on the internet that helped the writer.  It’s Duotrope’s Digest.  It was a fantastic resource as it listed tons and tons of markets for writers, helping them find a home for that story about the hermaphroditic Sasquatch that no one else wants.  They were free and their data was extremely useful.  They took donations on a “pay as you like” basis.  I donated the proceeds from several stories, because, well, they helped me get stories into home.

Well, starting on 2013, they now charge a fee.  A pretty steep fee, too.  $50 a year, or you can pay $5 a month.  You can imagine the outcry from people who merely felt they were entitled to free stuff and now they would have to pay for it.  After that storm blew over, the real users of the site came out and started bringing out the real facts – the stats will now suffer because only those that pay for the service will now log their stats.  Very true.  Also, usually writers don’t have a lot of disposable cash to pay for something like that.  I know I have $50 to spend on it, but I have other things that I need more than a subscription to a site that I can use a spreadsheet and Writer’s Market from Barnes & Noble.

I won’t get into the good or bad of Duotrope going to a pay model.  I don’t care, as I will not pay for that and if you want to, please, do so.

Enter the awesome David Steffen from Diabolical Plots.

I won’t go on about this, but I will direct you to the article, and information about their attempt to create a (free) replacement for Duotrope – The Submission Grinder.


The Submissions Grinder

Trying it on…

I have to say, I dislike the interface that Blogger gives its users.  The stats aren’t very helpful, and finding things is akin to pulling your own teeth with a pair of tweezers – you’ll eventually reach your end result, but not without first going through a lot of blood, sweat, and tears.  Seriously, I’m too lazy to hunt too long for stuff before the IT guru in me kicks in and says “There’s got to be an easier way to do this shit.”

So I came over here, where I knew the layout a little better.  In no time, I imported the whole mess from Blogger, found some background and header images I liked, and had a blog that looked better, ran better, and I felt more comfortable using.  Blogger tended to have pages time out a lot and tell me crap like “You’re not authorized to view this blog.”  Uhh, its my blog, why can’t I access it?

I moved over all of the old stuff, so it’s here.  The About and Publications links above replaced some stuff from the old place, but everything else should be here.  If a blog post older than this one references a site element that isn’t there, don’t hold me responsible.  Blame space aliens.

This week had a few interesting moments, like my car getting out of the shop (yay!) and me finding out (by way of a sample copy posted online) that my book review for Kage Baker’s The Bird of the River had been accepted for publication in Bull Spec #3.  Seems I may have other work incoming from there as well.  Awesome.

Writing wise, this week was a total bomb.  I worked on “Masks” some but dumped it, but I did have another idea called “In His Master’s Study” that I got about 1700 words on.  I hope I can finish that one up soon.

I have stuff to edit too.  Like the story about the brass clockwork spiders that drill into your head, or the story about a “Lifestealer,” and his encounter with another of his kind.  Thing is, I can never seem to get going on it.  You call it lazy; I call it lack of motivation. 🙂

Anyway, busy weekend ahead, and big stuff going on next week.  Have a good weekend.