Tag Archives: Dragon Speak

#MondayBlogs Writers, Should You Get Scrivener?

14 Nov

I’m a writer. Nowadays that means spending a lot of time on a computer, typing away word after word until the glorious moment of THE END is reached. Granted, I don’t always type. My favorite two tools remain a pen and paper. Oh! And Sticky Notes. But I’m also open-minded. I love trying new technologies like Dragon Speak or Character Planner on my Android. Recently—and I know I’m super late to this writing party—I downloaded Scrivener.

For those of you who don’t know, Scrivener is a writing software. It claims to help organize the chaos in your mind by supporting numerous ways to view, edit, and write in your manuscripts. It’s available for Windows and Mac, it’s $45, and there’s a free download to try out.

Let me start out by saying I went into this skeptical as hell. I love, love, love Microsoft Word, and I’ve lived on Word since…Well, as long as I’ve been alive. (Literally.) In Word, I have a system. I have files. I know what to click on when I need it. Word is my first and only love…right?

Well, it’s safe to say I learned a lesson.

I love Scrivener, too.

Why? Honestly, there are quite a few reasons, but I don’t plan on keeping you on here forever, so I’ll only name my top three. One thing that’s super popular, for instance, is the corkboard, but I won’t list it here since it’s not in my top three. Definitely check out their website to see other features, since these are only a few.

1. The Layout

In the screenshot below, from left to right, you can see my book’s outline and notes in what’s called the “Binder”, the synopsis notecard, the chapter I’m drafting, the current status, and my character inspiration. I love being able to have everything in one place all the time—AND I can change whatever I’m seeing whenever I want. I love being able to look at two documents and a photo at once. This saves me so much time. In Word, I kept flipping back and forth between documents, forgetting things, and having to flip back all over again. Yes, I can get one or two documents on my screen in Word, but Scrivener makes it much easier to adjust size and visibility, all while accessing whatever I need without leaving the program.

Scrivener Double Screen

Scrivener Double Screen

2. Character Board

For me, I love having my characters photos and notes in one place. I often use Pinterest to find inspiration, but this can be a deadly game when writing. If I need something, I might end up on my Pinterest for an hour before I realize I’m not working. In Scrivener, I can keep my photos (and notes) right next to my manuscript without going down the Internet rabbit holes to find something. And Scrivener also comes with Character Profiles that ask for basic descriptions, background info, and more. 

Character Board in Scrivener

Character Board in Scrivener

3. Cancel Out Feature (Compose)

As an editor and a writer, I spend my workweek and my free time on the exact same laptop. This can cause a lot of distractions for me. As an example? In Word, I might minimize my manuscript to open up another document…only to see my work folder and recall something I need to do. It also opens up the Internet for me…and then, my ADD is in full swing. But Scrivener saved me. Scrivener allows me to fill up my screen (as does Word), but Scrivener allows me to flip back and forth through numerous documents, photos, and screenshots of websites without having to actually exit or risk getting distracted. If I use another tool known as Quick Reference, too, I can have numerous documents open while in this mode as well. Below is a Quick Reference note next to my current chapter in Compose mode. This mode can also be modified to show pictures, themes, and other fun scenarios.

Quick Reference in Compose Mode on Scrivener

Quick Reference in Compose Mode on Scrivener

In all honestly? The free download sold me. I loved that they allowed me to open it 30 times—rather than put a time limit of 30 days on it—and the tutorials paved the rest of the way. Listen, when you open it, it might be overwhelming. (It freaked me out.) But I took the tutorials, figured out all the tools, and got to work. I will confess to one thing. The tutorial took me about 3 hours. Granted, I was taking the time to log off of the tutorial to try everything out with a novel rather than work through the tutorial videos. Anddddd I’m still learning new capabilities. (For instance, while writing this piece, I figured out how to move my notecards around on my corkboard. So far, the corkboard isn’t something I personally use. I prefer my Sticky Notes on my office wall. But it’s a great tool.) My latest new discovery was the Simple Notes app, which is a syncing tool that allows me to take my Scrivener files wherever I want through my phone. I have a feeling I’ll be using that way too often.

Now, I will give Word its dues. I still work on Word. I always transfer my drafts to Word, because I find Word’s editing software—specifically Track Changes—more universal with my clients and easier to handle, even for myself. So, as an editor, I use Word and only Word. That being said, Scrivener has an editing tool, specifically screenshots that will save numerous versions as you work through your book, but I haven’t been sold on that yet. It seems too complicated and a bit confusing and disorganized. However, that could be me and just the way my brain works. Maybe one day I’ll love editing on it, too. In fact, Simple Notes (the app stated above) is forcing me to embrace it as I type this. (And Word has a syncing app as well.) For now, though, I transfer everything to Word in the end.

So what about transferring files? One of the best parts is the ability to transfer a Scrivener file into a Word file. It also formats your manuscript for querying or publishing. If you’re like me—and struggle way too hard to get page 1 on page 5—you will love that feature.

But why take my word on it?

Download the free sample (a sample that doesn’t require a credit card for once!) and check it out. Here’s their website.

I wish I had tried it earlier.

~SAT

 

Gifts for Readers and Writers

7 Dec

Today, I did an interview with Rusty’s Reading. One question was what my top three bucket list things are. I said, “Visit Japan, write a memoir, and…” You can read it here.

Minutes Before Sunset is also being featured on YA Book Deals. Enter the giveaway for a chance to win a free ebook! 

I’m glad everyone enjoyed the interview I did with Andrew Vogel, an actor on Under the Dome on CBS. I really enjoyed his take on creativity and living your passion to follow your dreams. But, today, I am talking about something seasonal. Since the holidays are near, I thought it’d be fun to share gift ideas for writers and readers for everyone who has one (or multiple of them) in their life. We all know about the common e-reader, but I thought I’d add a few more:

1. Gifts for writing, of course: I think most writers love office supplies: notebooks, notepads, pens, etc.

Join me on FB!

Join me on FB!

Anything to do with the office will probably be appreciated. Only be weary of that some writers are very specific on what they use. For instance, I only use G2 pens. So if you’re weary about office supplies, you can consider library fun for the office: bookshelves, bookends, desk lamps, etc. I promise you, libraries are getting really creative today. Just check out all the kinds of bookends and articles like 10 Crazy Cool Bookshelves. If you’re good with tools, a lot of these ideas can be built by yourself.

2. Editing software: Editors are expensive every time you use one. If you have software, you only pay once. (This doesn’t mean I am advising people not to use editors. In fact, I think everyone should. But having additional software before you send it off to the editor is great!) Software is also something I’ve also enjoyed using and testing out for companies. I’ve actually done a review of both Dragon Dictate and Grammarly on this website. And, yes, I own both now, and I use them on a regular basis.

3. It doesn’t have to always be for writing: thanks to those personalized gifts websites, anyone can write anything on mugs, calendars, t-shirts, pens, coffee mugs (yum!) and more. How great would it be to get one of your favorite quotes or books (or even your own novel) on a coffee mug? That’d be an encouraging way to start off the morning.

When "November Snow" was published, my father surprised me with this gift: the printed cover inside a silver frame.

When “November Snow” was published, my father surprised me with this gift: the printed cover inside a silver frame.

4. Vintage: Readers and writers alike might enjoy vintage things about their favorite novels or even their favorite writing tools. Think of old quills, typewriters, first editions, roll-top desks, reading lights, etc.

5. Gifts don’t always have to cost money. If you have a writer in the family, read their latest work. In a card, tell them you read it and what you thought about it. This will be greatly appreciated from many writers, especially if you haven’t been able to read anything of theirs before. If you have a reader in the family, this concept works again. Read their favorite book or promise to read so many novels a year with them. Look at it as a book club. It’ll help connect you and who knows? Maybe you’ll discover more things about writing and reading than you thought.

Related Websites:

CafePress: Unique Writers Gift Ideas

25 Gifts That Writers Will Actually Use

12 Affordable Gifts for Readers

GoneReading: Gifts for Readers

Have fun shopping! But, more importantly, enjoy the holidays! 

~SAT

Video

SS: Dragon Speak

30 Dec

Watch my video to begin this post via this link: Dragon Dictate for Mac. If the link doesn’t work, or you don’t want to watch the video, what I said is typed below, so enjoy my review of Dragon Speak! (And work with me, because I’m technologically challenged, and I had to get Dragon Speak, Photo Booth, and Microsoft synced.)

Photo on 12-28-12 at 12.56 AM #3

Using Dragon Dictate.

“Hey, everyone! It’s Shannon.

I was just making this video (for the first time, so you get to hear my voice) to review Dragon Dictate for Mac, which is a voice recognition software, in which it turns your voice and what you have to say into text for you.

So far, although the download took me a long time, I’ve really enjoyed the product. I found it very effective, and it works with most accents. My dad also used it, and it works really well. I haven’t, however, used the punctuation aspect, so I will be editing the text (which is below) I’ve added so you can read along and see how it does, and I will review once I get used to the punctuation aspect of this product.nc_025638

So far, I think it’s great. I think it’s very effective. I’m really glad I got this product, and I’m hoping to show it to my friends, so they can also use it for essays in school or personal writing like I’m going to use it for.

I also wanted to thank you all so much for following me on Twitter, my blog, sending me emails, and supporting my dream as much as I’m trying to support everybody else’s.

I think passion is very important. It is wonderful to share an English-based passion or reading-based passion—writing, art, anything—with anyone in this world, because I think the point of living is passion and celebrating your passion but also supporting other people’s passions, so thank you very much, sincerely, that you’ve helped me with mine, because you guys keep me going every day, and I love sharing these things with you.

I will be sharing more of Dragon Dictate and other products as I come across them, and I hope you guys are having a great holiday. I hope whatever you celebrate—Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanza—that it’s going great, that your family is healthy and well, that your pets are happy and spoiled, and your kids are just the same, and, you know, maybe you also got Dragon Dictate.

Let me know how you’re using it. If there’s any shortcuts that don’t know about, I’d really appreciate it—so happy holidays, happy new year, and I’ll be sure to make a new video in the future, so—

Thanks! Bye!”

~SAT

Visit Dragon Speak website here.

Merry Christmas

25 Dec

This exciting holiday added another member to my family!

My older brother, Greg, proposed to his girlfriend, and now I have a future sister-in-law to welcome.

My older brother, Greg, is dressed like Santa, and, his fiance, Chelsey, sits on his lap. Welcome to the family@

My older brother, Greg, is dressed like Santa, and, his fiance, Chelsey, sits on his lap.
Welcome to the family

I’m very happy, and I hope that everyone’s holiday has gone as wonderfully as it can.

Also, my father bought DragonSpeak for me. It’s a voice recognition software that types as I talk (since I do both WAY too much.) I’m looking forward to using it, both as a student and an author, so I’ll let you all know how I like it once I get a chance to get used to it.

Have any of you used it before?

I’m starting my Christmas off with waffles and mimosas with the family, ending it with more food, drinks, and lots of love.

Christmas Breakfast Mickey waffles, eggs, bacon, and mimosas

Christmas Breakfast
Mickey waffles, eggs, bacon, and mimosas

Again, Merry Christmas and have a great holiday!

~SAT

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