Eleven must-haves in my writer toolkit

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I’ll bet you don’t even remember the days when a computer was the newest thing in writing gadgetry. With the plethora of apps and add-ons that has bombarded us over the last years,  these days it’s almost a full-time job to keep up with the latest.

I don’t think I have. But I do have some favorites and frankly don’t know how I’d get along without them. Here are eleven tools I use every day.

TextEdot ocpmTextEdit – I use this simple word-processing software that came with my iMac and MacBook to draft all my blog posts. If I ever need to strip something of html coding, TextEdit works well for that too. (Just click on “Plain text” in the program’s Preferences.)

Scrivener logoScrivener –  This powerful program is helpful for putting together most things from articles to books. I even use it to store my poem collection. Its keyword function, ability to collect links, mark each post with icons etc. make it very adaptable to almost anything you want to do with it.

Evernote iconEvernote – I use this program to collect information when I’m researching. I love how I can copy snippets to it when I’m browsing web pages. When I use it to take lecture notes I sometimes activate its recording ability.  I have it installed on three devices so now use the paid version (it’s free for two devices).

Pocket app - logoPocket – This app collects the URLs of articles I want to read later. Pocket is also installed on both my computers and my iPad so I can access the same list from three places.

Blogger icon Wordpress logoBlogger.com and WordPress.com  – I blog on both these platforms and love both. I have connected two of my blogs to domain names so have dropped “blogger” and “wordpress” in the url without the expense of self-hosting (called “domain mapping”).

Facebook iconFacebook private profile and Author Page.  Facebook keeps me connected with family and writing friends and lets me spread encouragement, kudos, and information about good books, resources etc. I have my website blog connected to my Facebook Author page so new posts automatically show up there.

Twitter iconTwitter – I use Twitter to connect with friends, colleagues, do a little marketing, and find interesting links and information. My blogs are connected to Twitter so whenever I post to them, a tweet goes out automatically.

 

FeedlyFeedly – This RSS reader, installed on both computers and my iPad, provides me with a wonderfully efficient way to read blogs.

 

SpotifySpotify – Using this digital music service I can listen to my favourite artists while doing office busy-work, or stream wordless classical, jazz, or pop as a background to writing.

 

TimerA Timer – Finally, I wouldn’t be without my iPad timer. I work best when I know I’m committed to write for a set amount of time. (It’s amazing, too, how inspiration rises when you know you’re stuck there—no ifs, ands or buts). A good amount of time for me is an 90 minutes. I set my timer for 30 minutes and take it in segments.

Maybe you noticed, a lot of these tools help with connectivity—me staying connected to myself as I work on different devices. What writing tools could you not live without? What makes a new one attractive to you? I’m always open to ‘new and improved’!

(This is an updated post that was first published on January 27, 2014. This post was my contribution  [2 of 6] to a writers’ BLOG HOP.  Read about what tools other writers are using HERE.)

David Wilkerson (review)

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David Wilkerson: The Cross, the Switchblade, and the Man Who BelievedDavid Wilkerson: The Cross, the Switchblade, and the Man Who Believed by Zondervan Publishing

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

God always makes a way for a praying man. You may never be able to get a college degree, you may never get rich, but God always has and always will make a way for a praying man – David Wilkerson, Kindle Location 903.

If there is one secret to the success and impact of David Wilkerson’s life, prayer is probably it, at least according to his son Gary. In David Wilkerson: The Cross, the Switchblade and the Man Who Believed, Gary Wilkerson lays it all out for us: his dad’s early years as the oldest son in the home of a strict Pentecostal preacher, his first pastorate where he supplemented his salary by selling cars, his change of focus from what people thought to what God thought, his move to New York to work amongst gang members and addicts founding what is now known as Teen Challenge, the writing of The Cross and the Switchblade, his move to California in the 60s, then to Texas, and eventually back to New York. The story takes us to Wilkerson Sr.’s death in 2011.

In a way the book is like a modern book of Acts, replete with stories of how Wilkerson Sr. used his gifts of prophecy and healing, introduced thousands to Jesus in crusades, then taught, scolded and encouraged them through his newsletter. And like the stories in Acts, there are also tales of ministry bumps, broken relationships, physical illnesses, the need to adjust to the challenges of a changing society and a changing church culture.

I appreciated the writer’s frank but always respectful tone. He loved and idolized his dad, but still makes us privy to his shortcomings. The text and the acknowledgements tell us that he went to great lengths to get all sides of the story. There are numerous quotes from ministry colleagues, students, family members, friends, and neighbors, giving us a well-rounded look at the man.

David Wilkerson’s story is exciting and inspiring, but I also found it challenging because of the high standard that he held for himself and those that worked with and for him. Some of the bits from the book I highlighted:

Always he saw the world and those around him through the lens of eternity – KL 28l.

Quoting John Sherrill about the success of The Cross and the Switchblade:

“I don’t think books take off and do well or don’t do well depending just on the quality of the writing. I think it depends on catching something that’s in the air, something that people need” – KL 1959.

Speaking of how his dad chose singer Dallas Holm and other ministry partners:

Throughout his life, Dad would speak of a certain ‘sound’ he heard in preachers, something that spoke to him of God’s holiness – KL 2065.

Ralph Wilkerson (1960s youth leader who worked with David Wilkerson)says:

“He was like some of the old revivalists. There was so much prayer behind his sermons that there was a powerful anointing on the reading and people were converted” – KL 2177.

(David Wilkerson’s preaching style was to write out his sermons in longhand, then read rather than orate them.)

And two more random quotes:

Every event was a sacred moment ordained by God, with nothing less than eternity at stake for everyone present. For that reason alone, he could never judge a sermon based on people’s reaction to it. He had to judge himself on how faithful he was to speak the message God had impressed on him – KL 2968.

When Dad spent time in the Scriptures, he wasn’t looking to gain breadth of knowledge; he was searching to know the ways of God – KL 3817.

If you want to be challenged and convicted to pray more, care more about what God thinks of you than what people do, love your fellow-man more, read this book. One thing is sure: you won’t read it with an open heart and come away unchanged.

David Wilkerson: The Cross, the Switchblade and the Man Who Believed releases from Zondervan on September 2nd. I received it as a gift from the publisher for the purpose of writing a review.

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Stop 2 on the John 3:16 book launch blog tour

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I’m excited to be STOP 2 on the John 3:16 Network’s spring book launch tour. This post features John 3:16 Network founder Lorilyn Roberts and her newest book Am I Okay God? It’s a companion devotional to her novel Seventh Dimension – The Door, A Young Adult Fantasy.
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GUEST POST FOR THE JOHN 3:16 BOOK LAUNCH BLOG TOUR

STOP TWO ON THE TOUR

Lorilyn Roberts

 

Devotional ebook by Lorilyn Roberts

 

Am I Okay God? Devotionals from the Seventh Dimension

By Lorilyn Roberts

Excerpt

 

John Piper wrote a book titled Don’t Waste Your Life. It’s one of my favorites and I would encourage you to read it. But I want to take it a step further. Think about these things:

 

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From Seventh Dimension – The Door, a Young Adult Christian Fantasy:
“People journey to the seventh dimension when something happens that creates a longing—so great that nothing else can fill it, except the king himself.”
—Astella, chapter thirty-seven.”

*~*~*~*~*~*

 

Admonish Yourself

Don’t waste your life—work hard, train like an Olympian—and find your purpose in Jesus Christ.

Don’t waste your education—enrich your mind with the knowledge of God’s creation.

Don’t waste your talents—glorify God with your creativity—make kids laugh, dancers dance, and praise God, the Creator.

Don’t waste your health—you only get one body, one mind, and one spirit.

Don’t waste your time—you can only spend your time once. Spend it on activities that will draw you near to God.

Don’t waste your opportunity to do great things—Jesus died for you. Give him your best. He gave you his life.

Don’t waste your money—many in the world need food and medicine. World Vision, Wycliffe, and Samaritan’s Purse are among my favorite charities.

Don’t waste your love—the world never has enough. Love until you grow weary and go to bed exhausted. The HolySpirit will renew your strength and passion. Your tank will never run dry.

Don’t waste your mind—it’s too precious. Think about whatever is beautiful, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, and whatever is lovely. Renew your mind with the daily reading of God’s word. God’s Hall of Fame is filled with martyrs who died so you could own a Bible.

Don’t waste this moment—if you haven’t done it, accept Jesus into your heart. Once you receive his salvation, you will be filled with the Holy Spirit. He will help you to live a godly life. You may not have tomorrow. Yesterday is gone. Seize this moment—this nanosecond, and make a decision to follow Christ.

Once you have committed your life to Jesus, visit some churches and find one that meets your spiritual needs. You can also do a Google search to locate some places of worship near you.

Jesus is coming back again. He wants to receive you into his kingdom. An inheritance awaits you. In heaven, moths don’t eat your dreams, burglars don’t steal your wealth, and diseases don’t rob you of life.

Don’t waste your salvation—bring others into the kingdom. Be a witness so that others can hear the truth. Remember, eternity lasts a very, very, very long time.

http://bit.ly/Dont_Waste_Your_Life

Lorilyn Roberts

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Lorilyn Roberts graduated magna cum laude from the University of Alabama in 1991. Her studies included spending two weeks in Israel at the start of the Gulf War and touring England, Australia, New Zealand, and several countries in Europe. She later attended the Institute of Children’s Literature and earned her Master of Arts in Creative Writing from Perelandra College.

Roberts says, “If we fail to teach our children how to live out their Christian faith practically, we will have lost an opportunity to impact the world for good. It only takes one generation to forget the past. As JRR Tolkien said, ‘There is some good in this world and it’s worth fighting for.’”

Lorilyn’s website:
http://LorilynRoberts.com
http://LorilynRoberts.blogspot.com
Twitter: http://twitter.com/LorilynRoberts
Facebook: http://bit.ly/Facebook_Lorilyn

 

Sign up to receive Lorilyn Roberts’ email to stay up to date with her latest writing projects, books, and adventures using the QR Code below.

QR Code-L Roberts newsletter signup

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DON’T MISS OUT ON THE NEXT STOP!

John 3:16 Book Launch Blog Tour Schedule is as Follows:

Stop One
Monday May 5
Lisa Lickel
Featuring Author Randy Kirk

Stop Two
Tuesday May 6
Violet Nesdoly
Featuring Author Lorilyn Roberts

Stop Three
Wednesday May 7
Ashley Wintters
Featuring Author Laura J. Davis

Stop Four
Thursday May 8
Katherine Harms
Featuring Author Emma Right

Stop Five
Friday May 9
Kimberley Payne
Featuring Author Lorilyn Roberts

Stop Six
Monday May 12
Carole Brown
Featuring Author Randy Kirk

Stop Seven
Tuesday May 13
Barbara Ann Derksen
Featuring Author Laura Davis

Stop Eight
Wednesday May 14
Chris Weigand
Featuring Author Emma Right

Stop Nine
Thursday May 15
John 3:16 Blog
Featuring Our Landing Page

Make sure you check out the John 3:16 Books Being Launched May 1 through May 17 – win a $50 Amazon gift card, the four books being launched, and much more.

http://John316MarketingNetwork.com

We have a Rafflecopter drawing to win a $50 Amazon gift card and/or ten Kindle books that winners can choose from over two hundred books on our Pinterest page at:

http://bit.ly/John316Pinterest

You can also check out the Rafflecopter drawing on Facebook!

 

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Raspberries and Vinegar (review)

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Raspberries and Vinegar (A Farm Fresh Romance, #1)Raspberries and Vinegar by Valerie Comer

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Three friends, Jo, Claire and Sierra, buy farm property just outside the town of Galena Landing (Idaho) to realize their dream of living off the land in an eco-ethical way. Even the mouse-infested trailer they have to move into (until they get around to building their straw-bale-walled, solar-powered house), is worth it… they are sure. Twenty-five-year-old Jo (never-been-kissed) Shaw is the one of the trio through whose eyes we see the beginnings of Green Acres Farm in Valerie Comer’s contemporary Christian novel, Raspberries and Vinegar.

Son of the neighbors Zach Nemesek is just finished vet school and champing at the bit to get a full-time position, preferably in the big city. He’s put out resumés all over. But at his last job he was let go when he broke up with the boss’s daughter. Now that former boss won’t even give him a reference. Plus his own dad has fallen ill with a mysterious neurological disease, is in hospital, and Mom desperately needs Zach to help with their own farming operation. So he’s stuck.

Of course the trio meets the hunk and soon it’s obvious there’s electricity between Zach and Jo. But could there possibly be a future for such a fast-food-loving city boy wannabe and this eco-evangelist?

This is a fun book that delves into serious issues, albeit with a light touch. There’s the whole green, organic reduced-carbon-footprint movement the girls represent, versus the townspeople who are used to the way things are—not to speak of having to make a living. This includes Zach’s own father who, before he got sick, worked at Leask’s feedlot—a smelly, suspiciously disease-laden place out of which cattle are shipped in droves to meat plants.

There’s the dating game / sex-before-marriage issue over which Zach has come to grief with his last girlfriend and which Jo brings to a head when at one point she lashes out:

“That’s another place we’re different Zach. I will never date a man I couldn’t see marrying. Why put myself through that? Why build up false hope” – p. 204 (Kindle edition).

Both of these young people struggle with the ideal of living their lives under God’s control versus calling the shots themselves. I love how Comer frames the issue as seen through Zach’s eyes:

“And what was God going to say, if Zach sincerely wanted an answer? Oh man. He didn’t even want to go there. Asking for God’s direction would get way more complicated. It wouldn’t end with which job he should take. It wouldn’t end with where he should live. It wouldn’t even end with Jo and her enviro-crazy ways. God was going to want to meddle in every facet of Zach’s life” – p. 128.

Comer’s writing style is brisk and savvy. Point-of-view doesn’t wander but stays firmly with either Jo or Zach. And the plot kept throwing surprises at me. As a result, the book’s 343 pages sped by. The book is a refreshing and chaste-but-fun modern romance that isn’t afraid to tackle some hot-button lifestyle issues.

Along with discussion questions on Raspberry and Vinegar, Chapter 1 of Book 2 in Comer’s Farm Fresh Romance Series (Wild Mint Tea) is included at the end of the book. I read it and am definitely going to look it up when it releases, sometime in the spring of 2014.

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And we’re off! (#ICWriters)

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2014 is off to a great start!

"Yes" written on lined paper

Writing has changed a lot since I sold my first article in 1997. Then it was a solo business for me. I was in the middle of taking a writing course and submitted those first pieces to see if I actually had what it took. It was all done by surface mail. (I sound like a real old-timer!)

Last year, after spending the end of 2012 marketing my novel, I decided to get back into freelance writing. Nowadays, the temptation for me is to write a lot but for free. Many publications have folded, and there are far fewer paying markets than there ever were. For the first quarter of the year, my goal was to change bad habits and submit one article per week to a paying market. Now my humble ships are coming in!

At the end of 2013 I received my contributor’s copy of  the January/February 2014 issue of Pockets. It had my article on Jean Vanier in it. I’m always thrilled to be published in that beautiful children’s magazine!

January 2nd brought word of contest results for the Time of Singing Winter Contest (8-line rhyming poems). My poem “Ananias explains the situation to Sapphira” won—first place! Pinch me!!

Yesterday  the latest Faith Today went online. My review of Janet Sketchley’s Heaven’s Prey is in it.  I was so pleased to get a chance to review this suspense-loaded novel authored by my friend.

Also yesterday my contributor’s copy of Cadet Quest (February 2014 issue) arrived with a word-search puzzle I put together for their  “Let’s Get Fit” theme.

It’s all fruit of work I did months to a year ago. Sometimes it seems like you labour and labour and nothing comes of it. And then the results return in a wonderful week or two of deluge! It’s not the instant gratification of fifteen LIKES on a Facebook update. But it has more impact on a resume!

Freelance Writer’s Almanac – coming soon!

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Anyone who has written freelance knows that wonderful writing isn’t the only thing our piece needs to get accepted. It also needs to be timely. Write and submit an article about C. S. Lewis in 2014 and chances are editors will reject it, whereas they may well have accepted it in 2013. Why? Because 2013 was the 50-year anniversary of Mr. Lewis’s  death (in November of 1963). You may have noticed the large number of articles about C. S. Lewis floating around in 2013, and the anniversary is why!

In order to write timely articles like that we need to be alert to what’s coming up in the birthday and anniversary department as well as the annual holidays that repeat year after year. Of course it’s also feels good to be in-the-know about fun facts like when it’s National Pie Day or Poem In Your Pocket Day.

I’ve been planning for a while to prepare a list of upcoming dates for myself. One day it hit me. If I could use such a list, probably other freelancers could as well. And so I’ve decided to start a new blog feature.

On or around the first day of each month, I’ll be posting a Freelance Writer’s Almanac  piece, listing the holidays and special days of the month we’re entering. This will be eclectic and include information about history, the arts, faith, science, food, Canadiana, and anything else I find interesting.  (This post will replace the monthly writing prompt of 2013).

Freelance Writer's Almanac icon - violetnesdoly.com
So if you need timely ideas of things to write about in blog posts, articles, even books, come back January 1st for the first installment of Freelance Writer’s Almanac.