Writing Wednesday: Is This Old Dog Being a Fool for Not Using a Better Tool?

Last Week’s Goals

My blog entries were all posted on schedule, and all my available stories are back out to market.

I’ve already lost track of one of my goals. I’m supposed to ePublish something every 10 weeks, and that would mean this Friday. If it were a single story, I could get that done now, but all my stories are currently in market, and I prefer not to withdraw them. I could do another collection, but I’m supposed to do a 3-week pre-order campaign on those, and I obviously don’t have a long enough runway for that. What to do, what to do? I guess we’ll all find out on Friday. 

I hate failing to make goals…

In marketing, I continue to promote with Indies Unlimited Thrifty Thursdays and Kindle Unlimited Fridays every week. YourNewBooks promoted “Purr Mission” last Friday, which only resulted in 8 free downloads. ChoosyBookworm remains the most effective free promotion I’ve tried.

Seven days of working on Swordsmaster: Deception produced 6,363 words of fiction, so I’ve made my new 3,500 word quota for 4 weeks straight. The draft is now 93,903 words.

About Me and Writing Tools

I’m very close to finishing the rough draft of Swordsmaster: Deception, and if I’m diligent, I should finish it this week. No, that doesn’t mean the novel is anywhere near complete – just that all the main scenes and events have been laid out in a reasonably clear sequence, but there are AT LEAST two rewrite/revisions that will need to happen, reworking the sequence, adding much needed detail, and probably having more things I haven’t thought of yet thrust into the story on their own. Before I return to Swordsmaster: deception, I will take a break from it and move on to some short fiction to clear my head and replenish my stock of stories.

Since I started writing seriously, I have not invested in or even tried out many tools. It is hard for me to justify spending money on my hobby (I hear that you have to spend money to make money, and although there is some truth to that, it is often pushed a little too hard by people who are trying to sell something.) We all have our own lives and restrictions to deal with, so we do the best we can with what we have.

As part of my SQUEEZE-A-PENNY mentality, I’ve tried to do everything with an eye to what will cost the least, with FREE having an advantage. I create my own book covers, mostly using free pictures from morguefile (mostly – I sometimes take my own photos if I’m having problems finding a component) that I cobble together with ArcSoft Photo Impression 3.0 (an out-dated, somewhat primitive yet effective tool we received for free with a cheap webcam maybe twenty years ago.) I then take the completed cover art and add cover text in MS PowerPoint.

I actually looked at updating to the latest ArcSoft version over five years ago, but discovered in the free trial version that it couldn’t even do the things I depended on the old version for. Sometimes, new and improved doesn’t mean what you think it means.

Over the years, our newer computers have not been able to load the old ArcSoft program. We have had Adobe Photoshop Elements for a number of years (for my Significant One’s crafting), but I have refrained from using it because it was simpler to keep using the old Arc Soft program. I may install Elements on my PC and give it a go this year for my covers.

My actual writing has been done in MS Word, which for short stories has been more than adequate. When I’m done writing, it’s easy enough to put it in Standard Manuscript for market submissions, then reformat for eBook submission to Smashwords and Amazon when it’s time. Sometimes, I’ll make use MS Word’s Comment feature to put a note in the margin for further research or to remind myself to add something.

I keep a separate text file called “Notes” for each story, where I keep track of background information, ideas, thoughts, and progress. There is also another called SubmissionNotes where I keep the submission blurb I use while shopping that story to markets.

Keeping track of things on my series (Detective Jimmy Delaney and Herc Tom, Champion of the Empire) , due to the increasing amount of background information that is added with each story. The total word count of each series puts both in the range of novel-length, and Herc Tom is up to ten stories now, for a total count of over 125,500 words (Lee Masterson calls anything above 110,000 words EPIC), so keeping track of all the elements is more complicated, but still being done the same way (except in addition to my usual short story files, I also keep a text file with details for the series, and make even more use of comments in MS Word.

When I wrote Swordsmaster, I stuck with the same files again, but added a couple more files – A spreadsheetSwordsmaster4 (to keep track of characters, places, and other details), and a word document for an evolving outline. I make massive use of MS Word’s Comments as I write to help push my INFERNAL EDITOR™ to the side so I don’t slow down my creative side worrying about things I may forget I need later. Swordsmaster: Deception’s rough draft is following that same process and set of tools.

The longer I’m at this, and the longer my work product, the more obvious it is to me that I have chosen a rather inelegant and clunky way to write. My tools are helpful when compared to hand-written manuscripts, but I could probably do better.

I’ve heard a lot of writers mention Scrivener, and the little bit I’ve seen of it leads me to believe that it may be the tool for me. They have a free 30-days-of-use trial, so I’ll give it a try. I might do this once I’ve completed Swordsmaster: Deception’s rough draft by moving the manuscript into the tool. If I like it, I may actually spend my precious pennies.

There is such a thing as PENNY-WISE, BUT POUND FOOLISH – I hope this old dog can learn some new tools to make my writing easier, and help me avoid operating at as much of a disadvantage in the future.

If anyone out there has experience with Scrvener or some other favorite writing tool, I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

Just saying…

Current Book Promotions

In a Flash Detective Jimmy Delaney eBook CoverPurrMission-MainTall_025For  information and links for my current promotions (including the FREE starter eBooks for my Herc Tom, Champion of the Empire series and my Detective Jimmy Delaney series), look HERE on my CURRENT BOOK PROMOTIONS page.

Reaching Out

William Mangieri’s writing has been published on Daily Science Fiction and The Arcanist. His ninety or so short stories and related collections can be found at several online retailers, including, but not limited to:

Want to help me make a go of this writing gig WITHOUT IT COSTING YOU A PENNY? I’m in the Amazon Affiliates program, so any time you click one of the links I provide here to my books on Amazon, and then make a purchase of something like, say, a TV, I get a small percentage of Amazon’s profit. So PLEASE consider using one of my links to get to Amazon before you make that next purchase. Thanx!


or on twitter: @WilliaMangieri

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