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AGENDA: Tucson Writers Meetup Group - May 29, 2010 Announcements:
• • (3rd Thurs. of the month) Thurs. - June 17 - Tucson Bloggers & TeBO Meetup http://www.meetup.com/tucsonbloggers/ (4th Thurs. of the month) Thurs. - June 24 - Tucson Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror Writers Meetup http://www.meetup.com/Tucson-ScienceFictionWriters/
Thurs. 6/24 (same night) The Tucson Cory Doctorow Meetup Group Thurs. 6/24 (same night) The Tucson Neal Stephenson Meetup Group
Watch for announcements about the NEXT The Tucson Writers Workshop & Meetup Group http://www.meetup.com/tucsonwriters/ SwAG + You = Tucson Writers
MAKING TIME TO WRITE: Time/Energy Management Techiques for Writers
Managing your family/personal life, writing, and a full time job can be almost impossible. Still, the vast majority of writers who hear that last sentence...are living it! Art happens when we can somehow steal time from the everyday commerce of life. Take a week or two and notice where your time goes. Count minutes instead of calories, and see if you can allot more time to write.
• • • • • • •
Make Lists Organize/minimize errands Carry a voice-activated recorder for idea snippets you can replay to jumpstart your writing sessions Take yourself seriously so that others will Write early Write late Experiment (Whatever works is fine. Just be sure that something does)
5 Things That Can Inspire You To Write
When you listen to what writers say to each other about writing, you often here things like "write on a regular basis" or maybe "write whether you feel like it or not." You may think you're supposed to be tough on yourself, to stick with it no matter how hard it seems, to get on with it and get something written, because after all... that's what writers do, they write, right? But in spite of best intentions, many of us are all too familiar with the reality of the situation, which is that no is else is there to push you, so it's all too easy to give in, and find an excuse and do something else instead. But for writers, there are no options. If you are going to be the writer that you've always dreamed of being, you've got to find that level of inspiration which is so strong that you find yourself being dragged in front of the computer to go write about something that changes the world. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Read something by your favorite author(s) Retype something by those favorite authors Read quotations Read opening passages Listen to music
Classic Best Books for Writers
On Writing by Stephen King Plot & Structure by James Scott Bell A Dash of Style by Noah Lukeman Between the Lines by Jessica Morrell Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass The Forest for the Trees by Betsy Lerner Zen in the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury The Elements of Style by William Strunk, Jr. and E.B. White Characters & Viewpoint by Orson Scott Card Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott
5 tips for keeping your writing sharp and professional
1. Plan your writing 2. Do your homework 3. Write drafts 4. Revise for style, correct grammar, and spelling 5. Choose concise and effective wording
GROUP EXERCISE: Random Word Combinations (To Be Continued)
1. 2. 3. 4. 5.
write two or three random words on separate pieces of paper put the pieces of paper in a container PART II pass it around each person takes out a few pieces Now, use these words to inspire you to start writing (for 5 minutes).
Plan to include these random words in the writing somewhere (the result doesn't actually have to include any of the words) Sometimes the writer still plans to include the word and is working up to that in the mini-plot that is developing on the paper, but we stop when the time is up anyway. Sometimes the writer intended to use the word but the plot twisted in a new direction and
the word became inappropriate. Sometimes the word is not used but still can be seen to inspire the piece. It doesn't matter, because the stimulation still works to get you writing creatively.
5 More Ideas for Getting Inspired to Write
1. Browse Pictures of Concepts (photos, images, obtained by searching for tags) 2. Write a Rant 3. Use a Pattern Interrupt 4. Unlock your unconscious mind 5. Look Within
Online Writing Tools:
1. 2. 3. 4. 5.
Google Docs - Part of the Google suite of products, which enables you to invite others to work with you on a document. Glypho.com - Put down the basic idea of your story, get a plot and character suggestions. Novlet.com - Collaborative writing where you write just a couple of paragraphs at a time. Portrayl.com - A site that lets you write one chapter at a time, and when done, release it as a PDF. You can also allow others to write a chapter if you want. SynchroEdit.com - A browser-based editor that allows multiple users to edit the same document at the same. Will indicate who’s doing with colors.
Online Dictionary and Thesaurus Webapps: Writers often need a word's definition, pronunciation, synonym, or antonym. Here are several web-based language tools to try.
1. 2. 3. 4. 5.
Google define search operator: Google can give definitions in search results—try it, search for define thesaurus http://definr.com/ Translate words and phrases easily with online dictionary Definr, a super-fast, suggest-as-you-type dictionary which you can add to your Firefox search box or use in bookmarklet form. It works by attempting to autocomplete your word as you type and pumps out results quickly with synonyms and antonyms (if applicable). www.visuwords.com Visuwords defines and displays relationships between words in an animated graphical node map that you can navigate around by clicking related words. http://visual.merriam-webster.com/ When you just can't think of the name of that thing which you can picture in your mind, you want the Visual Dictionary. Go through what they describe as a kind of reverse 20 questions to get to the word you're looking for, starting at one of 15 visual themes and narrowing down your search image by image as you go. http://www.urbandictionary.com/ When someone uses a slang word or phrase (especially online) you don't recognize, proceed directly to the Urban Dictionary.
50 Open Source Tools for Writers
There are many open source tools available on the web ranging from word processors, to content management systems, references, publishing, sharing, organization, and more which can help in writing, editing, and organizing your write ups more proficiently. Here we are listing 50 open source tools for writers and bloggers to make your writer job much easier than before. Word Processor 1. wikidPad- It is a wiki style notebook to note down your thoughts, ideas, to-do lists, contacts, or anything else you can think of. This tool utilizes a database to tie together individual text documents that the user creates into a wiki-like notepad. 2. Scribus- This is a perfect tool that allows you to create great looking documents of all kinds. It is also a great open source desktop publishing solution. It also comes with a lot of support features and services like mailing list, IRC channel, wiki, contracted support, and the bugtracker. 3.OpenOffice Writer- This tool is the leading open-source office software suite for word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, graphics, databases and more. It is available in many languages and works on all common computers.
4. AbiWord- It is popular open source word processor that works as just like Microsoft Word. It enables you to collaborate with multiple people on one document at the same time. 5.Adobe Buzzword – similar to Google Docs and Zoho Writer, Buzzword is a robust online word processor — perfect for writing reports, proposals, and anything else you need to access online or work on with others. References & Dictionaries 6. WordWeb- It is a one-click English thesaurus and dictionary for Windows that can look up words in almost any program. It provides definitions and synonyms, related words 5000 audio pronunciations, 65 000 text pronunciations, 150 000 root words, 120 000 synonym sets etc. 7. Merriam-Webster Online – Another useful and free dictionary for writers which provides more than 160,000 entries. Each word is accompanied by definition, pronunciation, usage, grammatical function, and a brief etymology. 8. Research Assistant- This open source research tool helps you find information on almost all the topics. It allows you to keep all your information in one place so you can easily access it later. 9.GNU Style and Diction- It helps you avoid poor wording and compare the readability (not the understandability!) of your documents with others. 10. Wikipedia- It is a free encyclopedia that provides information on almost every topic you are working on. You can get detailed information about unlimited number of subjects and topics. Stay organized 11. ubernote- This is an important tool to remember all important to –do items. You can keep list your workshops, meetings, social events and deadlines while managing task lists, contact information, bookmarks etc. 12. TreePad Lite- This tool helps writers in organizing their notes, emails, texts, reference materials, hyperlinks, etc. into one or multiple databases. It’s easy to use interface allows you to keep everything you need for writing in one place. 13. SpringNote – This tool allows you to jot down notes, creating to-do lists, personal scheduling, among many other tasks 14. Google Calendar- Using this free online calendar you can keep track of your important events all in one place. You can also get event reminders via email or have text messages sent right to your mobile phone. 15. Tellico – It is an easy tool to organize books, videos, music, poems, bibliographies, chapters, blog posts and more. It’s simple and intuitive interface shows cover images, groupings, and any detail you want. Collaborate 16. Campfire- It is a web-based chat tool that’s ideal for online meetings with clients or co-workers. It allows you to share text, files, and codes in real time. 17. Central desktop- This tool enables you to collaborate, communicate and share files with clients and co-workers instantly. It helps you connect and collaborate faster with your network. 18. Loose Stitch- Another collaboration tool that allows you to share outlines for your write ups with fellow writers and editors. You can also send your work as an attachment to your clients. 19. PDF Online- It is easy to convert your work files in to PDF doc files instantly using this Free PDF online converter. 20. eFax – It allows you to fax your work easily across the globe. It is cost effective, reliable and instant way to send and receive faxes by email. Networking 21. MenWithPens –One of the popular blogs for writers includes interesting write ups from prominent writers that can help you in getting really useful tips for effective blogging and becoming a successful writer.
22. 43Folders —This tool helps you in connecting with fellow writers and bringing out ideas and tricks to come up with excellent work results. 23. LibraryThing- A community of 900,000 book lovers, which includes all types of books and collections. It provides a platform to connect with different writers of similar interests. 24. Red Room – It is a social networking website for authors to connect with readers and network. It includes blogs, essays, videos, podcasts, events and more. 25. Shelfari – Another social network that allows you to share recommendations and reviews. It also helps you in knowing what you and others are reading. Content Management 26. XOOPS- This web application platform written in PHP for the MySQL database. It is an ideal for developing small or large community websites, intra company and corporate portals, weblogs and much more. 27. Plone- It a powerful content management system that lets non-technical people create and maintain information using only a web browser. It is best suited for web sites or intranets. 28. Opencms- Another professional and easy to use website content management system usable in open source environments and commercial components. Using this system content can be created with an integrated WYSIWYG editor similar to well known office applications. 29. Drupal- It allows you to easily publish, manage and organize a wide variety of content on a website. It offers a variety of optional modules that can add lots of interesting features like forums, picture galleries, file uploads and downloads, user blogs, OpenID, profiles and more. 30. Joomla- It helps in creating content is simple with the WYSIWYG editor as it allows you to combine text, images in an attractive way. There are a number of pre-installed modules to show the most popular articles, latest new items, newsflashes, related articles, and more. Ideas & Inspiration 31. Wridea- It is an online idea management and collaboration service which lets you manage, improve, and share your ideas with people and friends. 32. Inspiration for Writers – You can browse through this website to for encouraging writing tips from experts in the field. 33. The Story Starter- This tool provides 763,591,140 creative ideas and writer prompts for writers of all ages. The ideas are good for short stories, novels, plays, scripts, or just for fun. 34. Geoffrey’s Automatic Story and Idea Generator- You need more ideas for your story then you just need to fill some details and generate a new fresh idea for your story. 35. The Imagination Prompt Generator- This tool enhance your imagination power by giving different prompts. They can be used for writing, blogging, art projects, music, discussion, or anything else you need some inspiration for. Productivity tools 36. Amaya- This is an a free, open source HTML/XHTML editor that allows you to update or edit content directly on the Web. 37. Word Count Plus- This Firefox add-on helps in counting number of selected words written. It can also add the count to a running total. 38. PDF Creator- It is an application for converting documents into format on Microsoft Windows operating systems. It allows you to select it as your printer, permitting almost any application to print to PDF. 39. Toodledo – This online tool enables you to track your tasks including folders, subtasks, due-dates, priorities, tags, contexts, goals, notes, time estimates and other information. 40. PingMe- It is a useful tool to set reminders for all important events and happenings that can be sent via e-mail or text message to your phone.
Utility tools 41. Time59- This is a billing and invoicing tool for keeping a track of work done and sending invoices to your customers for work done. 42. StoryMash- It is a creative writing community for authors, amateur writers, readers and anyone interested in collaborative fiction and creative writing. 43. Docvert This tool is useful in converting word processor files (typically .doc) and converts them to Open Document and clean HTML instantly. 44. FireFTP- It provides easy and intuitive access to FTP servers. Along with uploading your files quickly, you can also try its advanced features such as: directory comparison, syncing directories while navigating, SFTP, SSL encryption, search/filtering etc. 45. txt2tags- This open source tool which works as a document generator. It reads a text file and converts it to the formats such as HTML, XHTML, SGML, LaTeX etc. 46. Writer’s Network – It’s free, fun, and a great way to polish your writing skills or get quick feedback on your ideas. You can share your writings with your friends, everyone, clients etc. 47. ASuite - You can use this application with removable storage (uses relative paths) media like USB sticks, hard drives, iPods, etc. It launches files, folders and webpages from anywhere . 48. ZManda- This open source backup tool and recovery tool keeps your files secure and protested. 49. TrueCrypt- It is a Free open-source disk encryption software for Windows 7/Vista/XP, Mac OS X, and Linux It encrypts all kinds of files and keep them secure and confidential. 50. Sonar It is a submission tracker that offers “free manuscript tracking” capabilities so that you can keep a track of publications, contests,trends, markets and much more.
Here are 5 crucial questions to ask yourself before you consider selfpublishing:
1. 2. 3. 4. 5.
Are you a good self-marketer? Do you have a solid elevator pitch? Books are a hard sell and no one is going to do it for you if you self-publish. Have you really developed your writing into a polished manuscript? Don’t rely on your friends and relatives to tell you the truth about your manuscript. Join a writer’s group to get some tough love before you even think about selfpublishing it. Have you tried going the traditional route first by querying agents and small presses?At the very least, you’ll get a sense of whether or not the work is publishable, and maybe you’ll even get lucky and an agent or two will tell you why it’s not working. Do you have a blog? If not, why not? To sell a book, you have to develop a readership and you can start doing that right now absolutely free with a blog. In fact, why not start posting short excerpts on your blog just to see what kind of feedback you get? Very important: Do you know what you’re signing? Do your research, ask for recommendations and be careful about what rights you’re signing away!
New Technology and the Future of Publishing
Since the internet exploded in the last 10 years, our lives have changed, from how we find information to how we shop. Writers have noticed the shift in the publishing industry, as technology advances, and as the Web's instant-everything extinguishes the concept of convenience, we find ourselves on the cutting edge of entertainment and information exchange. We had ebooks, either downloaded or burned to CD and shipped to us. Then we saw the rise of POD (Print on Demand), which made it possible to order a single book that would be printed, bound, and shipped without wasting further paper or ink resources. E-publishers have become more savvy, ebook readers have become more acceptable.
What's next? Clearly, the open-ended future rights clauses becoming more common in boilerplate contracts means the publishers are prepared to produce books in more formats and deliver in less traditional ways. Whether they choose to pursue all the avenues opening with
each new jump in technology, whether they choose to alter their antiquated business model and step into the twenty-first century, it's an exciting time in our industry.
Start a blog! every writer should have a blog these days as the foundation of their online platform, and it’s not nearly as
difficult or time-consuming as many seem to think it is. Why wouldn’t you take advantage of this fabulous, free opportunity to not only practice your craft, but also start actively building your readership. Every writer circa 2009 should have a blog. It’s free and the technology is accessible to all. Don’t worry yourself over things like SEO and RSS or HTML. You don’t need to know any of that to start a blog, although your knowledge of these things will naturally grow as you become more comfortable with blogging. I’ve written many posts on website building and blogging. I highly recommend starting out with a simple Wordpress.com account for the most user-friendly, free service. Then, when you’re ready to expand into a full-fledged multi-page website, it’s easy to transfer those files into a CMS, which is a more flexible and powerful platform. The most important thing is to start and stick with it. That puts you ahead of the pack in more ways than you realize.
The writing community has frantically embraced Twitter within the past year. And it’s been a delight to watch well-known authors find their voice in this new medium. With Twitter’s restriction to 140 characters, it’s surely proven challenging for authors who are used to writing in thousand-word increments to communicate with such intense brevity. I’ve watched as NYT bestselling authors wonder in type why in the world they’re doing this and what they’re supposed to be writing about anyway. And I’ve also noticed quite a few hit their stride. Marketing guru Seth Godin offered some brilliant advice to writers in this 2006 post Advice for Authors. “The best time to start promoting your book is three years before it comes out. Three years to build a reputation, build a permission asset, build a blog, build a following, build credibility and build the connections you’ll need later.”-Seth Godin If you’re having trouble getting started or keeping up the momentum on your blog, here are some things to blog about: • How’s the work on your book coming along? Readers can really get drawn into an author’s writing process. • Who do you know? Some interesting characters most likely. Interview them Q&A style. • What are you reading? Thumbs up or down? • Do you have favorite inspirational quotes? Of course you do! Share them. • What’s your point-of-view on E-Books, the Kindle, or any other hot topic that’s floating around the publishing industry. • Writing techniques pieces, written in how-to format are always on the mark. You’re in it, so write about it. • What are your favorite helpful writing gadgets? Your laptop? Your digital voice recorder? We want to know. Blog it. • How do you motivate yourself when you’re not feeling inspired to write. Inspirational pieces are always a great draw. • Post short excerpts of your work in progress. Don’t worry if the piece isn’t quite ready for prime time. It can and probably will change when it’s ready for book publication but so what? Your readers will love this and you may get some great feedback in the process. • Forget about the adage, “No one cares what you had for breakfast.” If you’re a creative writer who can write about what you had for breakfast in an entertaining way, go for it. Here are tips that will help you build your Twitter cred and increase your platform and followers: • Link to relevant blog posts in your niche. • Retweet good posts from others. To do this, simply copy and paste the full Tweet and put RT @namehere in front of it. • Follow Friday is a great way to develop good Twitter karma. On Fridays, tweet the Twitter handle of people you think others might like to follow. Use a hash tag (e.g. #followfriday) and relevant niche (e.g. #writing) to make it easily searchable. • Link to your own blog posts, but don’t over-do it. • Answer questions in an insightful way (challenging in 140 characters, yes, but that’s part of the fun). • Continually seek out others in your niche and follow them. I think the best way to do this is to start off following 50 or so in your niche and watching who they follow and reply to. • I’d recommend tweeting less than 10 times a day at the beginning, until you find your footing on Twitter. And space out your tweets since the Twitterverse gets easily annoyed with stream hogs. • Never ask for followers. This is a big no-no—Twitter suicide. • Don’t set up any sort of auto-responders. Keep it real, personal and relevant. If you want to really get into the minutiae of Twitter, there are whole blogs devoted to it, one of the best is TwiTip. I’d recommend checking in there occasionally for great advice on all things Twitter.
SPECIAL TIP: Writers’ Business Cards
DO: • Include your logo prominently. If you don’t have a logo, display your name prominently. As a writer, your name is your brand. • Provide contact information including your website URL, e-mail address and phone number. For security reasons, I recommend against including your home address. If you feel it’s necessary to include a mailing address, go to your local post office and get a P.O. box. • Leave plenty of white space: It’s easier on the eyes and gives you and your contacts room to scribble notes or a signature. • Use heavy card stock: It better withstands the heavy wear-and-tear of being shoved in a pocket or bag at a conference or other networking event. DON’T: • Include a headshot of yourself. I know as a writer you have to be out there in public and your face seems like a natural part of your identity, but tread cautiously here. I posted a question (on LinkedIn) about including headshots on your business card. More than 30 people from a wide array of business sectors responded, the majority saying that this isn’t a good idea (words like “cheesy,” “narcissistic” and “realtor” were being thrown around). So I’ve decided not to include a headshot on my business cards, but like all personal branding issues, this is highly subjective. • Use glossy paper, because it makes jotting little notes difficult. • Clutter up your card with stock art or other visuals unless it’s something that is integral to your brand as a writer. I’ve priced out FedEx/Kinko’s and have found their rates competitive. They deliver raised print business cards in three days. Alternatively, you’ll find many local printers print cards, too, if you like to stay with local vendors.
WRITING EXERCISE: Writers’ Tennis
Choose a partner from among your fellow group members. Exchange email addresses One of you starts by writing a few paragraphs of a story. You then pass it on to your writing partner, who then writes the next paragraph and so on and so on. If you both try to keep the two parts of the story consistent you can achieve interesting results.
Southwest Authors Guild SwAG sponsors the Tucson Writers Workshops.
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