What I Did This Summer

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Well, I figure it’s about time for a wrap-up of summer, even though in some places school is not officially back in session yet. Around here in Florida, most of the kids have either started the new school year or will start it this week. And even though I don’t go to school anymore, that does not mean I haven’t had to keep learning new things.

Some of my regular blog readers may know that I moved to a new house back in May. The saga of the house buying process and the drama of the real estate market around here were two contributing factors for a lot of agita for me from late January until I was moved in. I’m just thankful that I did not have to handle the selling of the place I was living in along with the house buying! Once I was all settled in, it was June. And this year, I decided to take advantage of the slower pace here to step up my writing career.

The first thing I decided to do is try and use the Sigil program to help me re-format my existing series of eBooks. I posted a few segments documenting my progress. Along the way, I’ve also needed to learn more CSS coding, and this is not only useful for eBook creation, but also for website design and building as well. So I did not feel as though I wasted my time with this “brush-up course.”

However, I started doing something even more important than learning Sigil. I finally started running Scrivener, which I had downloaded the trial version of during one of the NaNoWriMos. At first, I truly disliked the program. I felt there were about a thousand features that I would NEVER use. I was a die hard Word user. I even hated trying to use Libre Office because I was so hung up on Word, so imagine my resistance to Scrivener, a program I’d have to pay money for and not know how to use!

What made me change? Two things happened. One was my epiphany that I was wasting $9.99 a month for my Office 365 subscription (which is mainly useful for the 1TB of cloud storage I would get on One Drive with the subscription, since nowadays people can actually use the Office suite of programs online for free). And if I wasn’t going to pay for the Word subscription, then I could afford to buy Scrivener if I found it really was everything everyone who started using it with regularity seemed to say it was.

The second was that there was a nice discount code for Scrivener among my April CampNaNo winner goodies, so I took the plunge for $20. I had started tinkering around with it, using it to import some of my existing draft of The Explorer’s Son into it. And while I was doing that, The Self-Publishing Summit hosted by Chandler Bolt had started.

One of the featured speakers doing a webinar was Joseph Michael, the instructor for the “Learn Scrivener Fast” course. In that one hour, he showed a BUNCH of crazy hacks and just blew my mind with the potential for Scrivener as a useful tool for my writing and publishing. Well, I’m now taking the course, and I don’t usually do courses like this, but it is AMAZING! I’m learning a huge amount about how to do things in Scrivener!

Another speaker Chandler Bolt had was Brian Tracy. And while I didn’t get a whole heck of a lot out of the actual webinar that night, I did hear a recommendation from an artist I know that he listened to the audio version of “Eat That Frog: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time” and that it was helpful to him. What I liked about this book was that I didn’t feel like I was getting the typical “Tony Robbins” type spiel and instead it got straight to the point. This type of thinking helps not just with business but with art as well.

At the same time, I picked up a copy of Chris Fox’s Kindle book, “5000 Words Per Hour.” I knew that my real biggest project was getting The Explorer’s Son finished. As a result of reading this short but fabulous book, I started waking up earlier in the morning and using that time to get some words in. I’m happy to report that The Explorer’s Son is now back on track and I expect to set up a pre-order for the book very soon.

Another thing I started doing, again inspired by a book I read called “Steal Like An Artist,” was start drawing again. Some more intrepid blog followers might have noticed my galleries. If not, check them out on this page and go to my Instagram page. I’ve been doing a lot of digital as well as pencil and watercolor pencils.

For the digital work, I’ve used all open source programs like GIMP, Inkscape, Blender, and the newly downloaded MakeHuman. It’s amazing what I have been doing which I had always thought would be impossible due to not enough computer power and not enough money for the Adobe Creative Suite! I even downloaded Krita last night, and I’m eager to try this out. I’d love to be able to do art for my books and my website, and learning to use these programs is an ongoing venture. I typically do these things in the evenings, since I think they are a great way to wind down at the end of a hectic day-job day.

Upcoming for me is learning how to compile finished documents in Scrivener. If this is successful, this would bypass the need to make the eBooks in Sigil, or use Scribus to make the PDF for the long-delayed print versions of my books.

Also upcoming is a few test designs for new book covers. Sorry, I’m tired of the old ones, and I think with the ideas and skills I now have, I can do better. I even can work with a cover designer for a final cover design, but I can work on the concepts way better now that I have a clearer idea of what I want.

Editing The Explorer’s Son however will be top priority. 5000 Words Per Hour even has a method for sprinting with editing, which is a new concept for me…

Whew! How has Summer 2015 been for you?


2 thoughts on “What I Did This Summer

  1. Wow, sounds like you had a busy summer! Congrats on the new casa! (Housebuying sucks.)

    The big milestones for me this summer were starting a new job that would give me more opportunities to write and self-publishing my first novella Gaslight Carnival. I’m excited to be moving my life in the right direction.

    I took August off from big projects to work on some short stories I had rattling around in the ol’ noggin’. After Dragon* Con, I’ll buckle down on the next novella. 😀

    Looking forward to the announcement of the preorder!

    Liked by 1 person

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