Monthly Archives: October 2010

Scrivener 2

I’ve wanted a Mac for years. Just a week or so ago everything came together, the planets aligned, and a MacBook I really wanted came out in my price range while I actually had the money to buy it. But that’s not what this is about. I’m writing this to sing the praises of Scrivener 2 for the Mac.

Scrivener is the perfect writing system for novelists.

I’ve been eyeing it for years but of course couldn’t use it because my computers were all Microsoft Windows based. Ironic that just when I finally get a Mac, and now can finally get and use Scrivener, they came out with a version for Windows as well.

Had I not already tried the Mac version, I would have loved the Windows version — even if it is still a bit buggy (it’s a Beta, so that’s to be expected). But the Mac version is more advanced and has more features, and at this point at least, blows the Windows version away.

What Scrivener does, the value it adds, is that it keep track of all the little details you need to gather, create, and remember from your first sentence all the way through typing THE END at the bottom. In that respect its much like using Microsoft OneNote alongside Word, but after a lot of customization. You could in fact duplicate this functionality to some extent using those two Microsoft products.

But you see, Scrivener doesn’t end there. All these features are already integrated and ready for you to tweak to your own working style (it never locks you into any pre-defined writing method — you do it your way, the way with which you’re comfortable). But that’s just the tip of the iceberg! Scrivener can also help you create an outline and synopsis while you’re writing, bit by bit, rearranging itself as you rearrange your text. Or visa-versa, you can rearrange your outline and it will rearrange your text.

But that’s not all! (I feel like I’m pitching a Ronco product on late night TV.) While you’re actually writing, when you don’t want to be distracted by all these otherwise awesome features, you click a button and BOOM it’s just you and your page.

At this point it’s pure word processor, with only the features you need to put those words onto paper. Or, um, screen.

(In a Ronco voice) But wait! There’s more!

AFTER you’ve completed your manuscript, after it’s helped you all the way through the struggle of first, second, third drafts, the fun is not over. With a few simple clicks it will format your entire manuscript in whatever way you want — it includes (but you’re not locked into) pre-defined industry standard formatting. So click, click, BOOM, and you have a suddenly formatted professional-looking manuscript ready to be printed, or saved to one of many formats — including RTF, PDF, or Word.

But wait! THERE’S MORE! If you’re into the new wave of publishing and have no interest in going the traditional route, this will also format and save your manuscript as an eBook completely ready and formatted for the Kindle, Nook, iPad, and many other eBook readers. Click, click, BOOM, you’re e-published!

Even after all this, I’ve just scratched the surface. Scrivener 2 also has features to help you write plays, screenplays, articles, and other types of manuscripts. Oh, and it has a character name generator too. How cools is that?

So how much is all this, then? $400?

No. $45. That’s right, all this for only $45.

Find out all the latest about Scrivener for both Mac and Windows over at

Millea Kenin, where did you go?

Originally Posted March 30, 2007 – Brought back to top because I was just thinking about her.  Millea, you are not forgotten…

Dear Millea,

This is a letter I should have written years ago, but alas, it would have already been too late.

I have you to thank for the novel I have published. It was you, back in the days of Owlflight Magazine, who sent that initial story back to me and said, “Jerry, this really should be a novel!”

You were the only editor in my fledgling days who I would simply write letters to, not even to send a story. You always wrote back. You were always so nice. I have always remembered you fondly.

I turned that story into a novel and it did sell, and was published, but you never got to see it. I lost touch with you long ago. Then today I decide I really have to thank you for this. So I went to that global extension of the human mind, Google, and looked you up.

Too late. Way too late. You passed away over ten years ago.

My heart sank. Suddenly, too late, I wanted to know more about you, and so I Googled for more. All I found was page after page of nothing. Your name is everywhere on lists, publication credits, and the mention of an obituary in Locust. I saw that you have a daughter in New York, and that she graduated and is married.

But the one bio page I found for you is blank.

That is not acceptable.

There is a void in the group mind that must be filled. We know you were an editor, an author, and a poet. We have lists of your works. But that’s not enough.

Here, right now, with this missive, I want to release into the group mind that you were also a wonderful person. Kind, artistic, caring, and nurturing … even to a strange kid who kept sending you crappy stories.

Ironic. Now that I know that you’re gone, I miss you. Because it’s too late to thank you.

Please someone out there fill in that blank biography page.


A Zen Relationship with Writing

41543_570687872_7762314_nWell, the novel I’d spend the last three years writing, Eleven Days on Earth, is done.  I’ve decided to go the traditional publishing route with it and am in the process of seeking an agent.  I’ve already struck out with one, and am trying the next.

I have a list of about 30 or so possible candidates.

Meanwhile I’ve had a couple false starts on two other novels, but then I started on one that I hope I’ll be enthusiastic enough about to finish.  So here I am in mid-October, hot and heavy in the beginning of a new manuscript, and it kind of feels like I’m participating in NaNoWriMoSo it feels like November has come early.

I won’t be participating in National Novel Writing Month, though – well, maybe in spirit – because I’m sure all the NaNoWriMo writers will make their 50,000 words in the space of a month, and I – even with a good head start – will maybe crack 20,000 words by December 1st.

I’ve actually, finally, come around to a kind of Zen relationship with my writing.  When I first began I did it because I loved reading so much that I caught the literary bug, so to speak.  Then I got hooked on those silly, false hopes of fortune and glory, followed later by a desperate phase where I tried to write to a market simply because I wanted to sell.  Now I write merely for the pleasure of it, and I write things that I would really love to read.  That, and I’ve discovered some secrets about storytelling that make the process fun, exciting, and mysterious to even me.

So do I really care if I get an agent?  No.

Do I really care if a big publisher picks up my manuscripts?


I don’t really care anymore.  I just enjoy the process.  The journey.  The thought experiments, the research, and the inner discovery of the absurd and strange things my twisted mind comes up with.  Holy Beer.  Old ladies who throw chainsaws.  Trolls who repair reality.  Goddesses of science and technology.  Evil magicians banned from politics.

That kind of stuff.  I just love it.

A Tree for my Story

So this video is a perfect example of how I’ll procrastinate and not actually write anything.