A few of my favorite tools

 

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There’s a term out in our society right now called shiny object syndrome. I prefer to call it the law of the new toys to me this means you’re jumping from one new product to the next before you really tried them out with the hopes of finding gold and key to success.
I’m guilty of this as well I have tried so many different things. But I have to be honest nothing works without hard work and hard work is the easiest with systems that work for you, not whoever’s promoting it but for you. And for each person that is going to be different.
When I look at my computer, I find apps and programs that I hadn’t used in a long time because I always tend to fall back on the tried-and-true that I know to work for me. There’s nothing wrong with the apps that I downloaded and paid for. some of them were very good, but they just didn’t fit my mode of writing.
I’m staring at the computer screen thinking, “I really need to clean this up and get rid of some of the stuff I don’t use.” Instead, I will share the programs that work the best for me. The ones that I use day in and day out and have made my life as a writer so much easier there are half a dozen or so that I use and I’ll start them off in order of appointment importance for me.

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1. Scrivener. I don’t know how I ever wrote before I found the Scrivener program. And every time I open it up, I seem to find another little tidbit that helps me be a better writer I’m not going into all the pros and cons of it I’m just going to say I love it and I’d be lost without it.
2. Scapple. This is a great mind mapping app. And it can be used alongside of Scrivener. I use this to remind myself how the characters connect to each other, major plot points and descriptions of locations and characters (I “cast” my characters by adding a picture of what I think they’ll resemble and do the same with settings.)
3. Dropbox. Dropbox is my insurance for keeping my files from being lost. I have a few other ones that I use like Carbonite and Google Docs, but I rely on Dropbox, and I use it to organize all of my files according to books, work, and play.
4. Dragon/ Dragon Anywhere The next to are primarily because I love to dictate with my work schedule it is easier to dictate on my lunch hours when I can just stop and polish off five or 600 words or that having an exceptional day couple thousand. The first one is Dragon Anywhere. If you’ve ever used the Dragon app on your computer, you’ll love this. It works with your cell phone, and even though most cell phones do have the ability to take dictation, it still doesn’t compare to Dragon.
5. Evernote. The second app that I use along with Dragon is Evernote. From Dragon, I can drop my dictation directly into Evernote organizes and files according to books and be assured that I have a backup. Then I take my file from Evernote cleaned it up a little bit and drop it into Scrivener. It may sound like a lot of extra steps, but I’m paranoid, and with each of these steps, I create a backup. I don’t ever want to have to lose an entire book because I didn’t back up or save things as I went along.
6. Word / Google Docs. And how can we fund forget Microsoft Word or Google Docs whichever one you use because these are essential yes you can write your entire manuscript in Scrivener and you can even format it, but there’s something comfortable about Microsoft Word, at least for me there is. Maybe it’s because I’m so used to it I been using it forever.
7. ProWriting Aid / Grammarly. These two I used together. ProWriting Aid is an intensive grammar program, and sometimes it’s intimidating, at least for me. But I start with a run-through in Grammarly and ProWriting Aid. And then just before I send my work off to the editor, I run it through a second program called grammar only. I figure what one doesn’t catch the other one might.
8. Natural Reader. And finally, after everything is ready and just before I send it off to the editor, I use an app called Natural Reader, which reads my book back to me. You’d be surprised how many errors I didn’t see, but I can hear. Besides, it’s kind of fun listening to your words being spoken back to you, proving you really are a writer.

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There are other apps that I use; different thesauruses and word documents, search engines, and Google for research. My husband bought me an Alexa, and I’m using that for research too. It’s also perfect for entertaining the cats because it’ll play videos designed for cats and that will keep them away from my writing. I bet Amazon didn’t think about one!
So, these are just a few of the things I use when I’m writing. They’re tools, and that’s all they are; only tools. You have to come up with the words, and you have to come up with the ideas and most of all you have to put in the work.

What do you use to aid your writing process?

Please note this is how I do my writing and the programs I use. You may find something else works better for you. There is no right or wrong answer. I have not been asked or reimbursed by any of these companies to promote them.

Have a safe and Happy 4th of July Holiday!

Victoria LK Williams

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Looking Back, Looking Forward

Welcome to 2019.
I know I know we’re more than a week into the new year and I’m late on getting this greeting out to you. But I did that on purpose. Personally, I ’ve been bombarded with good wishes to the forms of blogs, newsletters, and podcast. And I’ve enjoyed every one of them and would like to reciprocate to all of those I’ve listened to and read; happy new year to you too.
Like everyone else, the new year means new goals new visions and plans for a better future. Old habits will be thrown out, hopefully, and resolutions for better healthier habits are made.
I’m going to do a little bit of both. Before I could look forward, I need to look back. So I’m looking back at where it all began– that very first book.
The book began as a challenge from a group of friends. I had said I wanted to write a book and they held me to it. To be honest, I never thought I could do it, but once I started, there was no stopping me. To date, I have 15 books published and plans for so many more.

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But to get back to that first book. Everything starts with inspiration, and I’d like to share my inspiration for the first book…
The summers in my small town in South Florida can be pretty quiet. I could go for weeks on my job and not see a customer at their home. It was one of those hot blistering summer days, and I was grateful to be working along the river where, at least, a cool breeze could be found. As I looked out into the intercoastal, I couldn’t help but notice how isolated it felt. The channels that run in and out of the intercoastal take you into different communities or out into the river. As I was doing my job, I noticed a small boat motoring up one of those channels and the idea clicked you could commit a crime in such a location, getting in and out by boat, and nobody would ever know.

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And so began Murder for Neptune’s Trident. As I looked across the water, thoughts quickly came, and the story outline developed in my head. But of course, it took a couple of days before I got it down on paper. I was continually adding to it before I was ready to start writing a book. Don’t forget it was my first one and I was pretty nervous there more than one day that I just put the paperwork aside and thought “it’s a great idea, but I’m never going to pull it off; I don’t have the talent to write it.” But my friends kept after me, asking me how the writing was going, so I dug the outline back out and started writing. And that’s how it all began.

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This leads me to now and my goals for 2019. I have two different series that I want to start. One, I already have the first book completed and have half-written. The other series? Well, the idea is percolating, and I like where it’s going. I also want to continue the novella series I started in December. It was fun writing a short mystery in between books. It kept the juices flowing and kept me in the practice of writing.
Another goal for 2019 is to format my existing books into large print. The first one, Now Arriving (Sisters Station 1), was published in large print in December.
I’m curious about creating an audiobook as well. I know I enjoy listening to books, especially when I’m driving, so I think it would be a whole new avenue of readers for me.
I love all the new groups that I’ve joined on Facebook. Writers are helping writers, and I’m learning so much. I hope I’m giving back just as much as I’m getting.
Other than this, my goals are to continue to move forward with what I’m doing, exploring the publishing and promotional side of writing a little bit more. One thing I did learn in 2018 is it when I take a break from writing I don’t feel whole. Yes, my gardening business is crazy at the end of the year, and it takes up all of my time. But the writing gives me the creative energy that I need to keep the ideas fresh. And when I have new ideas, everything benefits; my business, my writing, and even my family life–because I feel more alive when I’m creative.
And I’m not the only creative writer out there. Here’s the link to the  Cozy January Book Fair, a mystery promotional going on this month. I hope you’ll check it out. Heck, there’s even get the chance to enter the drawing for $100 Amazon gift card.

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If you haven’t already, be sure to go to my website and sign up for my newsletter. I always include recommendations of new books by other authors and any promotional giveaways that I’m involved.
Until next time, happy writing and happy new year.

Sharing the Toys…er…Tools

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Toys, toys, toys, oh the shiny toys.
Oops, I really mean tools! Because as writers we don’t have time to play, do we?

Summertime is my time for writing. The other times of the year I’m busy with my landscape business. So this is when I get to explore what’s up-and-coming in the industry, all those wonderful things I put aside during my busy season. Now I can finally read books on my list about the industry as well as for entertainment.
And speaking of entertainment, even though these tools  seem self-indulgent, they are meant to grow my writing experience and business, but I have to it admit they are fun. Maybe it’s learning a new skill, exploring the possibilities of what your book can do, or making fun graphics for your promotions, it feels more like play and work. This summer I’ve indulged in a few new toys

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Kindle Rocket this is a great tool for helping you understand the keywords you need to promote your book and find out what books you’re competing against in your own category.
KD Spy. Another new tool to help you with promotions. Picking the right categories and niches and positioning yourselves and your book where it needs to be.
Natural Reader. Oh my gosh, the mistakes this thing finds for me! I use this tool to read back my work in progress letting me catch mistakes of my eyes don’t see. (The only thing to keep in mind; if you want to make corrections as you read, you’ll need to get the software, not the online app.)
Covers Sell Books. I will freely admit that this is the most fun I’ve had in a long time. This program will let you take your book cover to create a 3-D picture you can use for making ads and post for all the major sites. But beware, hours can be lost using this program.

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These are just four of the many programs out there. Most of these programs will have a free trial. And I encourage you to use it. As indie authors everything about putting our books out for sale falls on our shoulders. Why not find it used the tools will help you achieve your goals?

Victoria LK Williams

*I have not received any benefits from any of the above companies-I simply wanted to share what I have used to help me in my writing. 

Writing is Hard Work, not a Hobby!

 

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I love to listen to U-tube as I drive. There is some great information out there that not only educates you, but can also amuse and stimulate your thoughts. Most of what I listen to is about the writing craft; from the words on the page to selling those words. Yesterday I ran across not one, but two hilarious videos  about what not to say/ask a writer. I was laughing so hard, the other drivers around me had to think I was nuts.

I agreed with 90% of what the authors said, but 100% on the question “how’s your hobby doing”. It got me thinking…

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Anyone who has sat down and wrote a book will agree that this is not a hobby. It’s darn hard work. Time consuming, energy draining, mind shattering work! So, I thought I’d share with the potential writer (or the helpful person who just doesn’t get it) my process. There are things I’m sure I’ve missed, and this is a broad over-view. Each item on this list has multiply levels and tons of details that need to be taken care of. Every author has their own process, the things that are important to producing their books.

For the new writers-I hope this helps guides you through the process. For the friends and family looking in from the sidelines, I hope this opens your eyes to the reason we spend so much time on each book. And I thank those of you on the sidelines for all your support-we need it to keep going.writing process for me

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Victoria LK Williams

Pssst…some deals!

Just a quick note to let you know that I have submitted a few books and sample chapters to INSTAFREEBIE. It’s a great site for readers to find new authors, or sample new books from favorite authors.

What’s even better is I am going to provide with direct links to a few of the many “giveaways”. These are where a group of authors, with similar genres participate as a group to give readers the chance to find their books. It’s so much easier that wading through hundreds of books that may not interest you!

I am participating in each of these giveaways I’m listing. I hope you find ton’s of new reading material and give a new author the opportunity to entertain you. Simply click on title above the banner to be taken directly to the giveaway. If you’re not an Instafreebie member, its easy and free to sign up for!

Summer Cozy Mysteries

insfre summer cosy

Christmas in July

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Mysteries of the Heart

insfre mysteries of the heart

Sweet Poison

insfre sweet poison

Sweet Clean Romance

insfre sweet clean romance

Paranormal Romance Mystery

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I hope you find lots of reading material. Let me know if this was helpful!

Happy Reading.

VictoriaLKWilliams

Author- know your Characters!

How well do you know your characters?

Are they close, like a best friend, or are they a vague notion on a piece of paper?

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The characters will determine the intimacy of how much you get to know them. Minor characters are like ships passing in the night, and there may not be a reason to go in depth about what makes them tick. But, for your protagonist and the sidekick it’s essential. Even for the antagonist is essential – almost as much as the protagonist.
Although you can’t put everything  about your characters down on paper, you should know them. Be familiar with them as you are with your family-even better. After all, they are your creation and you need to understand how and why your character reacts to something you are plotting.
Now granted, just like human beings, your characters will change in time as you go from book 1 to book 10. They must, or they will become flat and boring. A perfect example of this is Harry Potter. If the young wizard had stayed the same frighten boy living under the stairs, you would have never read the rest of the series to learn of all the wonderful adventures (and dangers) that he faced while fighting the evil Lord Voldemort.
Expect that your characters will grow, just as you grow as a writer. Knowing your characters inside and out isn’t just knowing they have blond hair and blue eyes, or they have a southern accent.

Knowing your character involves understanding how they react to situations we, the writer, put them into. How will your hero react to criticism or complement? How will your heroine react when faced with danger or romance?
As a writer, I think we have to know ourselves in order to answer these questions about our characters. Be honest; isn’t a part of us in each one of our characters?

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There are always different character profiles and different ways to come up with them.   Some great computer programs are available to  help you  keep track of all the details. Or perhaps a good old-fashioned piece of paper in a notebook. There you can jot down the traits of your character, both physical and physiological.
I’ve found character casting is a lot of fun. This is where you find pictures of people you think would be like your character, not only in looks but in actions. I love to use pictures of actors from old shows I loved. I remember what the actor’s charter was like, and that’s the picture I borrow for my casting.

I’ve seen or used all of these methods. I feel the ones which work best ask questions about your characters, causing you think beyond the obvious. These methods don’t simply have you filling in the blanks about how tall is your character or their eye color. Instead, they asked the questions about what is your characters favorite childhood memory, what is your character afraid of.
See the difference between the two types of questions? Even if you don’t write everything down, I think a good writer needs this information back of her head.   Putting it down on paper just keeps a clear.
So, let me be noisy and ask you this; is your relationship with your character like a first date, where you’re just trying to find out things about them to decide if there will be a second date? Or does it feel as if you’re in a 50-year-old marriage and you can finish each other’s sentences?

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If you’re still in the dating stage, I suggest you ask more questions. You need to know your characters; you might need to reign them in one day when they take your story in a different direction. If you don’t know how they will react, your story will get away from you. When it gets out of your control, then how will you be able to keep the reader interested?
How do you get to know your character? Share your methods with us.

www.VictoriaLKWilliams.com

Hi-ho, hi-ho, its off to camp we go!

My bags are packed and I’m running away for the month of April!

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Of course this is only in a virtual world. April is the first of the Camp NaNo months and I’m exciting to take part.

The camps are a bit more laid back than NaNoWriMo, with less emphasis on 50,000 words and more on your cabin and new writing friends. This is the time to finish up goals which may not have been completed (guilty!) in November and re-connect with other writers.

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I think this is what I love about the camps-the connection! No one understands your misery more than someone also going through the same process. This is the 4th year I’ve opened a cabin up, and I’m thrilled to see old friends return. This year there are  new writers joining us and I’m looking forward to getting to know them as well.

There is a special bond that forms here, one that will never fade. Encouragement is freely given, helpful ideas are tossed around and constructive criticism is offered if asked for and venting is allowed at any hour of the day or night.

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So, we authors set our goals and aim for our targeted number of words as we juggle or daily tasks, jobs and family. To those around us; have patience it’s only for a month.

At least until July rolls around!

http://www.VictoriaLKWilliams.com

This Year, Next Year…

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Like most people, the week between Christmas and New Year’s Eve can be a time of reflection and relaxation before the year-end. All the craziness of the holidays is pretty much in the past and it’s time to look forward to what the new year can bring. Whether you’ve decided to break a bad habit, lose weight, or chase a longed-for goal, the new year always seems to be the time to start.

 

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Remembering 2017

During this week between Christmas and New Year’s, I’ve been doing a lot of reflection on what happened over the last year. And I must admit, it’s been an exciting year!

 

Before I go any further, I’d like to thank all of those who follow my blogs, read my books, and supported me in my writing journey. The notes I get from readers asking when the next book will come out, or pointing out something that caught them at the heartstrings makes it all worthwhile. It makes me want to write the next book.

So, thank you from the bottom of my heart.

 

Over the past year I’ve continued the Citrus Beach Mystery series, and I admit I like where it’s going. There will be a new book coming out in February. I also started a new series in a slightly different category of cozy mysteries. Storm Voices, is a paranormal romantic cozy mystery. (Did you get all that?) I’ve also continued with the Sister Station series. I’m working outlines for new books and series I want to tackle in 2018.

 

The most exciting things that this happened for me personally? My husband has decided that my writing is something to be taken seriously and promised to give his full support. What more could you ask for!

 

Now, as I look forward to the new year, one of the biggest steps I’ll be taking is to leave the comfort zone of the Amazon Kindle Select program and put my books out to be distributed widely amongst other distributors. Now you can buy my books on Kobo, Barnes & Noble, Ibooks, Inktera, Playster, Scribed, Tolino, 24Symbols, and Overdrive.

 

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This is a big step, but I think it will benefit my goals. I’ve also incorporated my writing under the company name of Sun, Sand & Stories Publishing. My hobby has grown into a legitimate business, and in 2018, I will expand on it.

 

I plan on taking part in the NaNo projects and other challenges amongst other writers.

 

I’m pleased to be the creator of a new Facebook group called Writers of the South (I encourage any writers out there from the South join). I will also take some online courses in writing I downloaded – it’s exciting to continue learning new things about the writing craft.

 

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Okay, I must admit, looking at this list I’m feeling exhausted and overwhelmed and it’s not even January 1st. But baby steps; one page at a time, one paragraph, one sentence, one word at a time! That’s the only way my goals will be achieved.

 

I wish you and your family the best for the New Year’s, and hope that all your dreams and wishes will come true. Stay happy and safe in 2018!

 

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Our Writing Community

 

I’ve owned my own business for 18 years and been in sales for well over 30 years. I can honestly say the competition can get fierce. Most businesses protect their products and services like they were protecting Fort Knox.
But, as you know, over the last few years I began writing books. I learned very quickly that other writers are not my competition. They’re mentors, cheerleaders, councilors and friends. I’ve never been in an industry where others are so willing to give advice, help, and encouragement.

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A perfect example is when I went to release my last book. I had created a huge snafu that could have resulted in major problems. But writers on forums where I am active on quickly and helpfully pointed out my mistake. They offered advice on how to correct my snafu, and ended up guiding me through the process. To say they save my behind is an understatement.
Oh, don’t get me wrong, like every industry there are those who are out for the Golden Buck. Yet, I’ve found these authors rarely stick around the different online chat rooms and forums because they are out for themselves.

I have learned so much from other authors and developed some great friendships. Yes, the Internet can be a wonderful place. You can exchange ideas and thoughts with other writers and not fearing riddicule. Wouldn’t it be nice if more industries and businesses took this point of view and attitude of caring?
I learned early in my business career to give back to my community. I hope that I’ve been able to get back to my writing community in small ways that will encourage other writers to sit down at the keyboard and put your thoughts to words.

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Think it’s a waste of time just sit and exchange ideas with others? Why?

You’re sharing a part of yourself and getting a the other authors view point. Between the two of you, something interesting might be created. I had one idea for a future book that came from a random statement from another writer.  Together we bounced off ideas until an outline was formed. How fun is that?
So, if you’re reading this and have questions about writing, feel free to email me. If I don’t know the answer, I can at least point you in the direction somebody that might. There are two forums online that I am an avid member of. One is Kboards, and the other is One Stop Fiction. I belong to many others, but these are the two that have guided me the most. They’re both open to new members, and I encourage you to join.

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Everyone loves a Gift

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Surprise!

We all love to receive a gift, especially a thoughtful gift that was picked up just for us. The more thought put into the gift the more it affects us and the more we treasure it. Unusual gifts tend to target the heartstrings little bit more.
For example, I’ve a customer who ever year his wife goes out-of-town to visit relatives. As soon as she leaves, he has me design a different section of her garden. One year was a butterfly garden, another year  the front flower garden, another year a herb garden. each year she comes back delighted and surprised with his gift that will last for years.

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This got me thinking about our characters in our books.
Do you give your characters a special or unusual gift during your story? Does this gift play an important part of the story’s progression? Did your character receive their gift either by some magical way or possibly by a loved one or maybe even a mysterious gift left by the doorstop?

I hadn’t thought about it, but my characters have all received gifts. For example, in book number five of the Citrus Beach Series (A Tank Full of Trouble) Aiden surprised Megan as he keeps sending making mysterious while he was out-of-town. Each gift leads up to a grand conclusion.

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In my upcoming series Storm Voices, my main character, McKenzie, is given a beautiful little gray kitten help her as she recovers from… well you’ll just have to read it and find out. These are gifts that are beyond the normal birthday, Christmas, or anniversary gift, they’re something special that our characters are not expecting and play a major role in the plot line of story.
What books have you read where the characters have been given special gift? Was it a gift of love, magic or surprise? As a writer, you have the ability to give your character something unusual that can be used in ongoing story lines.

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And authors, remember as much as we enjoyed getting gifts ourselves, our characters enjoy it to.

Use this to push your story forward and draw the reader into the life of your characters.