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.)

Abundant Rain Journal (Review)

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Abundant Rain Journal: A Devotional Journal for Writers of FaithAbundant Rain Journal: A Devotional Journal for Writers of Faith by Marcia Lee Laycock
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Marcia Laycock’s Abundant Rain Journal is a devotional journal that will be of special interest to Christian writers. Each of the 30 one-page meditations deals with some aspect of the writer’s life.

Laycock’s own experience as a writer makes her very aware of the discouragement, creative paralysis, tendency to procrastinate, and feelings of “what’s the use?” that can easily overtake those who work with words and ideas. She has used that knowledge to create a book of readings that will give Christian writers everywhere an inspirational shot in the arm.

Each devotion is paired with a short question and a blank ruled page inviting the reader to interact with the ideas just read.

As a writer myself I found many of the entries both a challenge and an encouragement. I like how Laycock uses typical writerly experiences like waiting for a shipment of books to arrive, or getting a rejection as illustrations. From her experience of writing in a variety of genres, she is able to relate to the writer of fiction, non-fiction and poetry alike. Though I read the book quickly the first time around, I plan to go back and respond to many of the journal prompts. Some of my favorite quotes:

“The gift of language is God’s instrument in our hands” – p. 46.

“As writers, we have all been given a spur–the gift of communication–to use for the sake of others and for the sake of our most faithful God” – p. 50.

“We borrow language, words, images, the stuff of writing. It’s up to us to acknowledge the original owner, to offer back to Him what we have done with what we have borrowed” – p. 54.

If you’re a Christian writer who is looking for a devotional that is sympathetic to your avocation, you’ve found it in this volume. For those seeking to establish a habit of  writing regularly, the journal question that accompanies each meditation could function as a writing prompt. As well, I think this book would make an excellent devotional component for Christian writing groups.

I received a gift copy of Abundant Rain Journal from the author for the purpose of writing a review.

View all my reviews

Freelance Writer’s Almanac – March 2014

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Freelance Writer's Almanac icon - violetnesdoly.com

Today is the first day of March. The word “March comes form the Roman ‘Martius.’ According to this site, it was originally the first month of the year (Roman calendar) named after Mars the god of war.

The flower of the month of March is the Daffodil or Jonquil.

Daffodil

Daffodil – the flower of March

March’s stone is Aquamarine  / Bloodstone (modern) and Jasper / Bloodstone  (traditional) – meaning: COURAGE.

Aquamarine

Aquamarine – modern birthstone for March

Bloodstone - birthstone for March

Bloodstone – modern & traditional birthstone for March

Jasper - birthstone for March

Jasper – traditional birthstone for March

Here’s a rhyme for March’s Bloodstone:

Who in this world of ours their eyes
In March first open shall be wise;
In days of peril firm and brave,
And wear a Bloodstone to their grave.
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Some  sayings associated with March’s weather:

“When March comes in like a lion it goes out like a lamb.”

“As it rains in March so it rains in June.”

“March winds and April showers
Bring forth May flower.”

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  • March 1-16 – Dogsled race, the  Iditarod.
  • New moon

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  • Alexander Graham Bell was born on this day in 1847 in Edinburgh Scotland. He went on to invent the telephone (The Christian Almanac [T.C.A.] p. 141).

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  • On this day in 1953 Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin (creator of the Iron Curtain) died at the age of 73 years.  (TCA p. 145. )
Michelangelo - self-portrait

Michelangelo – self-portrait

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  • Silly putty was invented on this day in 1950 (TCA p. 147).

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  • World Day of prayer (always first Friday)

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  • On this day in 1859 Kenneth Grahame, creator of The Wind in the Willows was born in Edinburgh Scotland. Parts of the book were written as letters to his young son (TCA p. 151).

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  • Daylight Savings Time begins
  • First Sunday in LentLITURGY

    1966 Ford Mustant

    1966 Ford Mustang (photo from Wikipedia)

  • The Mustang is 50! The Ford Motor Co. produced the first Ford Mustang on this day in 1964. It became an instant classic (TCA p. 153).

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  • Salvation Army Day

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  • Organize your home office day

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  • James Taylor (singer) was born on this day in 1948.

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  • Earmuffs, patented as “Champion Ear Protector” by Greenwood, were introduced on this day in 1877.

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Hamentaschen & Purim rattle

Hamentaschen & Purim rattle

  • Today is the Jewish holiday of Purim
  • Second Sunday in Lent – LITURGY
  • Full Moon

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  • Kate Greenaway, English artist and book illustrator was born on this day in 1846 in London. Her illustrated books like Mother Goose created a revolution in book illustration (TCA P. 169).

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  • David Livingstone – physician and explorer was born on this day in 1813.

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  • World Storytelling Day– On World Storytelling Day, as many people as possible tell and listen to stories in as many languages and at as many places as possible, during the same day and night.
  • Brian Mulroney, former Canadian Prime Minister  turns 75 today (born in 1939).

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  • Feast of the Annunciation – LITURGY

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  • Robert Frost was born on this day in 1874. (He’d be 140 today.)
Robert Frost

Robert Frost

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  • Coca Cola was introduced on this day in 1886

Vincent Van Gogh - self-portrait30

  • The painter Vincent Van Gogh was born on this day in 1853.
  • It is also the birthday of Canadian singer Celine Dion (1968).
  • Fourth Sunday in Lent – LITURGY
  • New Moon

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  • The English poet John Donne  died on this day in 1631 at the age of 59.

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Lots of other days celebrated in March found at Brownielocks
http://www.brownielocks.com/march.html

It’s December!

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12-11~112November, the crazy month of writing challenges is over!  A few years ago I submitted myself to NaNoWriMo. For the last couple of Novembers, I’ve participated (somewhat) in the November Poem-A-Day Chapbook Challenge (prompts, initiative and encouragement supplied by Robert Brewer the blogmeister at Poetic Asides, Writer’s Digest’s blog for poets).

I participated in that this  year as well and have come away from November with 22 new poems. (Not all of them following Brewer’s prompts, and so I am disqualified from entering his Chapbook Contest  on two counts—because I didn’t write every day and didn’t follow the given prompts. But that’s okay. The object of the exercise was to write.)

A nice sideline of this year’s Chapbook Challenge was that reader/poets supplied the prompts. Brewer asked for a few more at the beginning of the month, I emailed him one, and lo and behold, it was the prompt for yesterday, the last day of the challenge!

Christmas creche

Our Christmas creche

Now it’s December! Yesterday I began decorating the house. Hubby went to assemble the outside lights and found they were missing! It’s the fault of the bottom story flood we had this February, when everything damp got carted away by the restoration company. We got most of it back, dried and restored and thought we had those lights too.

After looking high and low, hubby drove off to the store to buy new ones. But I wasn’t satisfied we didn’t have those old ones somewhere. Where or where could they be?

I decided to look once more through every inch of the crawl space, their customary home. There, in the shadows,  was a tall box filled with clothes hangers, but, I found when I tried to move it, suspiciously heavy too. I decided to dig to the bottom and voila! Cords, wires, bulbs upon bulbs! The lost was found!

This month I’m having a sale on my novel. Check out the December Sale page. It would be a pleasure to put a copy of Destiny’s Hands (a signed copy if you like) in your hands, or the hands of someone you love this Christmas!

Happy December!!

Writing ideas warehouse

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pensFor those days when you’re scraping the bottom of your idea bin, here’s a supply depot. Check out,  then bookmark these sites for a wealth of writing ideas (for fiction, non-fiction, blogs and poems). They’re  just a mouse-click away.

A whole slew of Generators from The Writer’s Den:

BONUS:

Where Do Writers Find Their Ideas?
Ten authors answer the question, ‘Where do your ideas come from?’

Sample:”My standard answer is “I don’t know where they come from, but I know where they come to, they come to my desk.” If I’m not there, they go away again, so you’ve got to sit and think” – Philip Pullman, English writer

Where do Ideas Come From – Rod Serling

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