Disclosure:  I have no relevant financial relationship with Apple, Literature and Latte, Microsoft, or Dropbox.  However, I am not against forging such a relationship.  Legitimate representatives from these companies, feel free to contact me so we can chat.  

😉

“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” 

― Ernest Hemingway

Writers are often asked about their writing work flow.  For years, the mythology behind JK Rowling's writing process to create the Harry Potter novels has reached the stuff of legend.  She has said she wrote out the initial draft by hand on napkins at a coffee shop.  There is a paper spread sheet of her plot chart floating around on the internet. George R. R. Martin recently revealed in an interview that he writes his epic fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire on a DOS machine using a WordStar 4.0 word processor. 

As most writers will tell you, explaining to someone how to write a novel is like explaining how to breathe.  As Ernest suggested, writing may seem like an easy task, but it is actually a complex, painstaking, multi-dimensional endeavor...like breathing.  While I cannot explain how to take the ideas from the recesses of your mind to lace a series of words that create a story, I can show you the tools I use to write down these words.  I also recommend that you read Stephen King's On Writing to learn more about writing as a craft.  

“Words create sentences; sentences create paragraphs; sometimes paragraphs quicken and begin to breathe.” 
― Stephen King

MacBook Air

I write on a MacBook Air 11 inches.  I have inappropriate feelings for this machine.  It weighs two wonderfully light pounds.  It closes down so thin that you can easily jam it in a folder or small daypack.  Most airports don't require you to take it out during the TSA check.  For such a tiny computer, my MacBook Air is powerful.  There is nothing that I have ever needed it to do that it couldn't.  I love my MacBook Air because it takes up a tiny space wherever my office happens to be for the day.  I can write on our kitchen table or a coffee shop or hotel room.   I am actually sad that I will soon part with my MacBook Air in July, when I embark on a walkabout with my family.  At that point, I will be using Chris's MacBook Pro.  I feel like I am abandoning my computer, but the fact is we need to save space and weight.  So we will be sharing one computer between the two of us, and it makes sense to take the one with the larger hard drive even though it is heavier and bigger.  I will miss my old friend!

Scrivener

I discovered Scrivener recently and I have to say I love it.  I wrote my short story collection The Black Rose and Other Scary Stories That Happened To Me! using this software.  I am also writing my next novel on Scrivener.  This program, which is a content-generating tool that allows writers to manage and organize large documents, is a bargain for $45.  While I continue to us MS Word (see below) for shorter documents such as treatments, I use Scrivener for novels, story collections, and screenplays.  The program has templates for novels and scripts.  I could not go back to managing large documents without Scrivener.  Even simple things, like renumbering your chapters, becomes a much easier task on Scrivener.  

Microsoft Word

I have been using MS Word as a word processor since university.  MS Word has the power of a machine gun, but I use it like a water gun.  You should read Guy Kawasaki's APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur for a better idea of the killer features that Word has available for writers.  I wrote my first novel, The Iris of Issoria, using MS Word.  I also write my treatments on MS Word.  When I send documents to my editor, I convert them to MS Word format from Scrivener to facilitate tracking changes.  

Dropbox

I save all of my documents on Dropbox.  This online storage system is useful when you use different devices to work on your project or when you change computers.  It is also an easy way to share large documents that may be too large as files to email. I was so glad I used Dropbox when my computer crashed and I thought I had lost all my files.  I knew my Dropbox files were safe. I was able to recover my files from the computer crash in the end, but I was still grateful to Dropbox for the peace of mind. Also, you don't need to be online to access your Dropbox folder on your hard drive.  

I could not write without any of these tools.  Well, I could, but then the process literally would be as Ernest describes....bleeding at a typewriter.  

What writing tools can you not live without?  Let me know in the comments below.

Be sure to download my Scrivener "guinea-pig", The Black Rose And Other Scary Stories That Really Happened To Me from Amazon.  The four scary short stories in this collection are reminiscent of Mexican folktales such as La Llorona and Dancing With A Ghost.  Be prepared to be scared. 

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I was always a writer.  I was in Writing UIL when I was in middle school, and I wrote for the school newspaper…..yes, I was that geeky!  I wrote stories when I was a little girl and I even wrote a short novel when I was in high school.  I want to kick myself for not saving those treasures!

A dream set aside…

Sadly, I never seriously considered writing as a career.  Since I grew up poor, I knew I wanted a job that would get me out of the “barrio”.  I was scared that writing would not provide me a steady paycheck.  I had a knack for math and science as a kid therefore ended up becoming a physician.

A selfish luxury….

While I put my dream to become a writer on the back burner as life, kids, and careers got in the way, I never forgot about it.  I have not always been forthcoming about my desire to be a writer, even to myself.  Part of my hesitation was that I was afraid to sound like a spoiled, yuppie snob.  After all, how many people can quit their jobs to work on a novel?  This only happens in movies and books (ironically!).   I desperately wanted to be a writer but as the primary breadwinner in my family, I did not have the luxury of quitting my job to follow a dream that would never replace my physician salary.  So I wrote when I could during stolen moments of peace and quiet.  In 2007, I finished a manuscript for a children's fantasy novel after toiling with it for over one year.  I felt the way a toddler does when he takes his first steps: shocked and proud at the same time.

Rejected!….

Another reason I am rather shy about my writing is because it is the one area in my life where I feel I have failed.  After I wrote my manuscript, I submitted it to Candlewick Press.  Candlewick has published some of the best children’s books in the last 20 years.  I met one of the editors at a Society of Children’s Bookwriters Conference, and she had asked me to submit even though Candlewick does not take unsolicited manuscripts.  I was so excited when I finally submitted a very clunky manuscript.

I got rejected.  Ouch!  It hurt!  I felt I had shown the editor a picture of my babies and she said, “Yuck! What ugly children!”  In efforts to protect my ego, I did the only rational thing I could.  I put away my manuscript and did not open it for years.  Once again, I buried my dream to be a writer due to fear.  I realize now that I needed to polish the manuscript to a much higher level before sending it to Candlewick or any publisher.  

Following my dream…

When I decided to leave behind a fast-paced career in academic medicine to move to Costa Rica to live a simpler life, I knew that this was my chance to make an honest attempt at a writing career.  I set aside my yuppie guilt and my fear of rejection with inspiration from the quote below….

“Talent is helpful in writing, but guts are absolutely necessary.”

–Jessamyn West (American author)

Why writing?....

So why not acting? Or jewelry making?  Or painting?  Or dancing?  I loved all those forms of art too....though I am not particularly talented in any of them.  I write because I want to touch reader's hearts.  I want to move emotions in people.  I want to share my emotions through my stories.  If someone reads my stories and either smiles, laughs, cries, questions, or becomes angry, I feel that my mission as a writer is complete.  My biggest fear is that someone will read my book and not feel moved at the end.  I have a story to tell, and as the picture quote at the beginning of this blog suggests, I am much better at communicating my feelings in writing than any other way.  Most important, I write stories to share the beauty of my culture and people. I write to showcase diverse characters in our world and the worlds I make up.

There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” 
― Maya Angelou

Just write….

I have swallowed my pride and decided to just write.  I would rather say, “Oh well, I tried and it didn’t work out”, than, “What if….”.  

Over the last year, I have spent most of my time refining my writing.  I write almost every day to flex my writer's muscles.  I took a valuable fiction writing class from my friend Icess Fernandez.  I read Guy Kawasaki's APE book.   I revised and revised and revised my novel in a Monteverde coffee shop while sipping on mochaccinos topped with whipped cream.  I hired a professional editor to edit the manuscript after I revised it raw.  I opened an author Twitter account.  I built an author website. I will publish The Iris of Issoria whether traditionally or indie style.  I am so proud of Iris.  I believe it is a high-quality product that the whole family will enjoy.  I hope my readers enjoy reading this book as much I enjoyed writing it. 

Subscribe to my blog or follow me on Twitter for excerpts, promotions, and updates about The Black Rose and Other Scary Stories That Really Happened To Me! (available on Amazon) and The Iris of Issoria.  

Let me know why YOU write in the comments section of this post.  If you like the content of this article, make sure you share it with your friends using the Share button on the right.  

 

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Welcome to my first blog post for my author website!  

Since you found my blog, you likely fit into one of the following 5 categories:

1.  You are one of my family/friends, and you thought it would be nice to stop by and support my new venture as a children's book author.  Or maybe a friend of yours sent you a link to my blog or website.  Grab a cup of coffee, read through the site, relax, and join the conversation!  If you’re already following me on Twitter you know that I love sparking conversation on a variety of topics related to books, strong female characters in children's literature, feminism, education, geek culture, writing/self-publishing, and traveling. I welcome comments so don't be shy.

2. You are interested in reading my children's books for yourself or your kids. That is wonderful!  My books are fun for the whole family.  Stay tuned to this website for more information on The Black Rose and Other Scary Stories That Really Happened To Me! which will be available digitally in May 2014 and The Iris of Rhiannon which will be available this summer.  Follow me on Twitter for the latest updates.  You can also subscribe my blog for excerpts and teasers (link below).  

3.  You are an aspiring writer that would like to connect with other members of the writing community.  You may be looking for encouragement, positivity and inspiration in your writer's life!   If so, welcome!  I am also new to the world of authorship and would like to meet other writers for support and networking.  A writer's life does not have to be lonely.

4.  You are a seasoned writer, buyer, agent, or publisher.  You are an expert on writing, publishing, or book marketing and are eager to share your expertise.  My website can be a platform to disseminate your own tips and advice. Sharing is encouraged, but please hold the spam.  If you like my writing and would like to represent or buy my treatments or other works of fiction, contact me through my website and we can chat!  

5.   You are a parent, teacher, older sibling, aunt/uncle, babysitter, or grandparent looking for book recommendations or educational resources for the kids in your life.  My children and I read every day.  I will be sharing the literary gems we find on my blog, so stay tuned.  You may also be curious about how in the world I am educating my kids while on a nomadic walkabout.  I will feature posts of our journey as my partner, Chris, and I homeschool our children on the road.  Join us as we learn through this process.  

Once again welcome to my website and blog.  I look forward to our journey together.  

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