by Jenny Hansen
If you’re a writer some way, some day, you’re going to need help with Word. So when I found out OCC has our very own software trainer in our midst, I begged, pleaded and probably promised things I shouldn’t have to get her to share her Word Wisdom with us. Please give a round of applause to our Word Guru, Jennifer Crooks. She’s been training Word-challenged users like me for over twelve years. Thank you, Jen!
At last, a computer column for us creative types! All you Word-challenged non-techies can breathe a heavy sigh of relief. You now have a place that wonâ€™t give you phrases that contain thingies like yottabytes (yes, thatâ€™s a real word) and will give you practical tips like how to format a manuscript.
Your computer is stupid.
Itâ€™s very important to always remember that your computer is a dumb machine. Contrary to popular opinion, it does not have a brain or a little green gremlin inside and it cannot do anything that you donâ€™t tell it to do. It follows your commands completely and exactly, which means that itâ€™s vital that you learn the proper commands to give.
I highly recommend some of the software manuals that are on the market, especially the Dummies series. The first chapter in the PCâ€™s for Dummies book that I bought twelve years ago was titled, â€œYour Computer Will Not Explode.â€ (And it really wonâ€™t!)
Youâ€™re reading this blog so you already know most of the basics about your computer. Additionally, Mac users who struggled for years in a PC world received a huge boost with the release of OS X a few years back. Microsoft Word is pretty much the same now whether youâ€™re on Windows or a Mac.
The first thing you need to know, no matter which version of Word youâ€™re using is: How to save your book and find it again later with all your changes intact.
Usually, a document is saved to diskette to transport the file between computers or to provide a backup copy of the original file that resides on your computerâ€™s hard drive. This blog document is currently saved on my computerâ€™s hard disk, commonly referred to as the â€œC:â€ drive or â€œHard drive.â€
First, letâ€™s define the difference between the terms â€œSaveâ€ and â€œSave Asâ€ since they mean two entirely different things. Both can be found in the File menu of your word processing program (see example below).
â† File Menu
You must always â€œSave Asâ€ first. In fact, if you hit the â€œSaveâ€ command first it will automatically take you to the â€œSave Asâ€ dialog box.
When you choose â€œSave As,â€ you are giving the file a name and a location to reside on your computer, the same as you might make a folder and put it into a filing cabinet. (Any of you have seen my office can just STOP LAUGHING nowâ€¦my computer files are pristine.)
The â€œSaveâ€ command saves your latest changes OVER the originalâ€”this is what you will do as you make changes to your manuscript.
In the â€œSave Asâ€ dialog box below, the most important places to look are:
â€œSave inâ€ drop down list (top of the box) which lets you choose what folder you want to file the document in, somewhat like you would open the second drawer of your filing cabinet and grab the folder titled, â€œCurrent Manuscript.â€ .
â€œFile nameâ€ (line at the bottom) where you name the file something descriptive that you will recognize later. Document1 is a really bad choice.
â€œSave as typeâ€ drop down list (just below â€œFile nameâ€) letâ€™s you choose whether this document will be saved in Microsoft Word format or in something else, such as Rich Text Format (will give the file an RTF extension instead of DOC), that can be opened in a different word processing program.
Last but not least, the next paragraph is the most important one in this entire column.
When you want to save a copy of the file you are working on, first save your latest changes by choosing the â€œSaveâ€ command from either the File menu or the toolbar (third icon from the left), then choose â€œSave Asâ€ to save the file to a new location. This ensures that you have the latest copy in both places.
All of you who have forgotten this in the past are likely sitting back with a smug smile saying, â€œUh-huh. Yep, sheâ€™s right. I lost 3 hours of writing that one timeâ€¦â€ Because trust me, you only make this mistake once or twice before you either head to a computer class or head to the nearest bar for a round of dirty martinis.
One last word of advice until next timeâ€¦If you save to a place like a flash drive or a diskette that you plan to travel with, make sure that you have closed the file before you pull out the flash drive/diskette. This is the number one reason why people canâ€™t open the files that they have saved onto an external source.
Tune in for my next column where Iâ€™ll be answering Danaâ€™s question:
Are you going to show us how to format a manuscriptâ€¦especially that 25 lines per page setting?
Of course I will.
If you have any questions for our Word Guru send them to: firstname.lastname@example.org
By day, Jen Crooks manages the sales and marketing for a national training firm. After 12 years as a corporate software trainer, it’s nice for her to be able to sit down while she works. By night, Jen writes women’s fiction, chick lit and short stories as Jenny Hansen. She has been a member of OCC since 2001 and has served on OCC’s Board of Directors in a variety of capacities. She is currently the Contest Coordinator for the 2007 Orange Rose Contest for Unpublished Writers.
Confessions of a Podcast Goddess
by Jina Bacarr
Before iPods ruled the planet, FM radio rocked the late night airwaves. Raw, sexy, unscripted. I know. I lived it when I was on air at a popular music station. From the bewitching hour to four a.m., I’d sit in a glass control booth in a strip mall where everyone who walked by could watch the DJ live on-the-air playing what the radio station dubbed “young and beautiful music.” It got weird at times when the bar in the mall closed at two a.m. and a drunk or two tapped on the glass window requesting I play “Last Dance.” I’d smile and continue queuing up the music while I read the news or gave the weather report in my husky, sexy voice: “Overcast with rain, high of sixty-nine” has a whole new meaning when you deliver it in low, breathy tones.
Needless to say, the station got calls. Lots of calls. Most were positive, some weren’t, but in the end sex sells, even radio commercial spots. The account exec told me our Arbitron numbers went up twenty-five percent in the first few months I was on the air. Every time my voice went lower, our numbers went higher. I didn’t know it then, but my gig behind the microphone set the stage for what was to come later in my writing career.
Along the yellow brick road to podcasting, I met up with a few tin men, more wolves than lions, and a scarecrow or two who had no heart. It’s been a bumpy road at best: I’ve been a shopaholic teen in radio commercials, traded sex toy stories with a female radio host in Canada, hosted my own show on Internet radio about the “wild side” of books, and discussed size with an LA radio talk show host usually known for his raucous political agenda.
Then I decided to go it alone as a podcaster. It couldn’t be too difficult, right? A podcast is simply an RSS feed of audio content distributed automatically by subscription or downloaded online through your website or podcast sites. It’s a trend that shows no sign of slowing down. According to recent estimates, there are 20,000 plus podcasts online and listed in directories. Is anybody listening? You bet. Bridge Ratings reports that 8.4 million Americans tuned into at least one podcast by the end of 2006, and by 2010 that number is estimated to reach 60 million. Who listens to podcasts? According to Forrester Research, the fastest growing audience for podcasts is adults 25 to 44.
With my radio background, I was convinced I could do it. I purchased recording/editing software, a good microphone (you want your audience to hear you clearly), and a comfy pair of headsets. I was ready to sail the airwaves talking about my favorite subject.
Oh, what fools we writers beâ€¦
Tune in next month for Part Two of Confessions of a Podcast Goddessâ€¦
Jina Bacarr is the author of The Blonde Geisha and coming in July 2007, Naughty Paris. Jina writes erotic adventure for Spice Books. “Get Caught in the Act.”
By Maureen Child
I was asked to write a monthly blog on Craft for OCC. Very nice to be asked, by the way. But the problem came when I actually started thinking about what to say!
Craft is just so subjective. Are there rules to writing? Absolutely. Should you try to bend them, break them and or spindle and mutilate? Why not? And who am I to tell you not to do it?
So what Iâ€™m going to do is, talk about how I write. Thatâ€™s not necessarily the way youâ€™ll write. Or the way you should write. But itâ€™s what I know. And, Iâ€™d love it if you had questions. Or suggestions on what you might like to read about.
On my first blog though, Iâ€™m just going to say that to be a writer, you MUST write. Every day. Even itâ€™s only for a few minutes a day. Weâ€™ve all got busy lives. Husbands, kids, parents, jobs…and all of it combines to make writing time hard to come by.
But youâ€™re worth the effort. Carve out a little bit of time all for yourself. Early in the morning, late at night. On your lunch hour. Make the writing as important as everything else in your world. Connect with your own imagination. Let the words flow even if they donâ€™t seem to make sense at first glance. You can fix anything. But first you have to write it.
So letâ€™s hear the questions and suggestions. I KNOW youâ€™ve all got opinions!
Maureen Child is the author of more than ninety romance novels and novellas. Sheâ€™s written historicals, paranormals, contemporaries and series romance. And her favorite book is the one sheâ€™s working on at the moment. Publisherâ€™s Weekly says that Maureen Child…is one of the stars in the ascendant…
July is the time of year that most of us are beginning to get excited, or nervous, about going to the National RWA conference. Some of us are hoping to meet with an editor or agent, some are desperately longing to start a career, others perhaps wanting to change their careers.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the stories we tell ourselves. Not the stories we tell in our books. I’m talking about the stories that are deeply embedded in our subconscience. The voices that whisper that we’re not good enough, or smart enough, or that we have to be perfect, that we can’t look or act foolish, or human, or that we’re shy, that we don’t do well speaking in public, that we became a writer because we’re introverts, and having to pretend to be an extrovert for four whole days is going to shred our insides to bits.
Our stories also tell us that we should never admit to these failings, that we’re the only ones who feel so out of control, or so inadequate, or so inept. According to the book, Becoming Real, Defeating the Stories We Tell Ourselves That Hold Us Back, by Gail Saltz, M.D., every one of these stories is a lie. But until we learn to recognize them and rewrite them we will continue to make the same mistakes over and over. These stories will hold us back by making us afraid to reach out, by convincing us that we’re not deserving, or good enough, or popular enough, or by reminding us that we’re shy and scared out of our minds that someone is going to judge us and find us lacking.
I want each and every one of you to know that you do deserve to have your heart’s desire. You are worthy. You matter. And you are not alone. Do not listen to those self-defeating stories!
It’s easy to get overwhelmed at functions as large as the RWA National Conference. That’s one of the reason’s our OCC conference volunteers, Michelle Thorne and Lana Krevis, have worked so hard to make sure there will be an OCC suite available in Reno where everyone can come to see a familiar face, network, attend parties, or simply retreat to catch your breath.
To kick off the conference in style, we’ll be playing a game of Reno Bingo at the Wednesday night literacy signing. Be sure to pick up a bingo card at the door, then stop and speak to each of our OCC authors and get your bingo card stamped . You shouldn’t have any trouble finding us ,we’ll be the ones with the really cool flower pots and “orange girl” signs in front of us.
After the literacy signing, we’ll be throwing a pizza party in the OCC suite and inviting all of our authors to bring their editors and agents. Everyone is welcome. Come and mingle with friends or make new ones. There will be prize drawings, giveaways, and a really good time! Then, of course, we will be having our Saturday night RITA bash to honor all of our RITA and Golden Heart finalists and winners. Lots of food, drinks and fun. So, whether you want to attend a really cool party, or you just need some down time–or you find yourself at loose ends and don’t want to sit in your room by yourself or cruise the bars looking for your pals, the OCC suite is there for you. Come and help out, or just come and hang out. It’s going to be a blast!
Keeping Your Keeper Shelf Safe
By Sandy Novy-Chvostal
When it comes to keeping their Keeper Shelves intact, my friends employ a variety of methods. A few, like Barbara Benedict, simply rely on their excellent memories to remember whoâ€™s borrowed a book. A couple others make the borrower sign a little â€œcheck outâ€ card that they keep in a file. Our OCC Web Editor embosses â€œFrom the Library of Marianne Donleyâ€ on the title page and–â€œjust in case they tear the title page out and say itâ€™s theirs!â€–also stamps page 54 as a back-up embossing.
But although I appreciate the sentiment behind these quaint little customs, when it comes to keeping my own Keepers safe, I donâ€™t like to fool around. Instead, I go right for the big guns.
I rely on magic. Specifically, book curses.
I was copying down an especially effective curse recently, when my husband asked, â€œWhatâ€™s that?â€
I glanced up to find him reading over my shoulder–apparently his favorite position for reading, he does it so often. His eyes were narrowed in a slight frown as he studied what I was writing.
â€œItâ€™s a curse, â€œ I told him. â€œFrom the Medieval monks. Iâ€™m going to put it on signs and hang it above my Keeper Shelves.â€
He glanced at me, stared at the page, then looked at me again. He lifted a brow–(yeah, he can really do that; just like my favorite romance novel heroes). He said in a flat tone, â€œYouâ€™re going to hang that over all the bookshelves in the house.â€
â€œNot all of them. Iâ€™m only putting it over my romance and young adult novels, my books on writing, and my children and Christmas book collections.â€ I thought about it a second, then added, â€œI donâ€™t think my cook books need it.â€
â€œNeither do I. Judging by your cooking, those come with curses already included.â€
He winced as my elbow hit his ribs, but instead of taking the hint and moving on, he said, â€œBut doesnâ€™t it seem kind of extreme to put–For him that stealeth, or borroweth and returneth not, this book from its owner, let it change into a serpent in his hand and rend him. Let him be struck with palsy, and all his members blasted–â€ He winced again. â€œ–all over the house?â€
â€œSo are you planning to write it in blood?â€
â€œNo,â€ I said regretfully. â€œJust red ink. But dark red–so it looks like blood.â€
He shook his head. â€œBut theyâ€™re only books.â€
â€œTheyâ€™re my favorites and some are out of print. I donâ€™t want to lose any.â€
â€œSo you turn to threats and intimidation?â€ He arched his other brow (heâ€™s am-brow-dexterous, you know) and added chidingly, â€œI thought you were big on sharing.â€
â€œI am. Just not my books.â€
â€œWell, I think youâ€™d want to share something you care about the most with your friends.â€
â€œYou do, huh?â€
â€œYeah. The more you care, the more you should share.â€ (My husband; the poet.)
â€œFine.â€ I started to get up from my chair. â€œIâ€™m glad to hear it. Cuz Jerry across the street asked to borrow your drill the other day, and I couldnâ€™t get the second padlock off your tool box so–â€
Like magic my husband disappeared.
I returned to my curse copying feeling satisfied, and yes, even benevolent.
Because although I hate to lend out my books, Iâ€™m eager to swap notes about them here on OCCâ€™s Keeper Shelf in the coming months, along with my book-loving friends.
Sandy Novy-Chvostal (aka Sandra Paul) has a degree in journalism, but prefers to write from the heart. She is married to her high school sweetheart and they have three children, three cats, and one overgrown “puppy.” Romantic Times has labeled Sandra Paul’s work as “outrageously funny and surprisingly perceptive” while Rendezvous stated “Sandra Paul is imagination with wings.”
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