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My First Take on the Pros and Cons of Scrivener

There’s more to writing a book than putting simply putting words into digital memory. Most novels have characters, plots, settings. Nonfiction books often have even more things to juggle. In the past for me, that’s meant each work-in-progress folder contains separate Word, Excel, and other documents. That’s cumbersome. If I forget the color of my Otto’s eyes, I have to leave my manuscript and search for the Otto character sheet, which slows down the writing process. This has become more important to me now that I have multiple books in the same science fiction universe.

Scrivener solves this organization problem by “binding” together your manuscript and various source documents so you can complete that “awkward first draft.” One, not multiple, mouse clicks will bring up any document you want.

I’ve now worked a bit with Scrivener and have a preliminary assessment.

Pros: The one click organization is a huge plus, although it takes some effort to get everything into the Scrivener software. The software also helps in the organization of your manuscript and makes it easy to move chapters around. This will probably be of more use to seat-of-the-pants writers as opposed to writers, like myself, who plot out their novels beforehand. It’d also be very useful to non-fiction writers.

Another pro is the cost. Scrivener regularly goes on sale, and with a little persistence you should be able to buy it for around $20.

Cons: There is no editor and I miss it. I personally try to write a reasonably clean first draft and appreciate Word flagging my misspellings, passive sentences, and grammatical monstrosities. However, for writers who focus on simply getting words to paper in the first draft, the lack of an editor may not bother you.

How I plan on using Scrivener? I think I’ll still do my manuscripts in Word. However, I’ll use Scrivener to organize all my background information. I’ll bring up Scrivener before I start to write, so then my character sheets etc will be at most two clicks away for reference. If I were writing a nonfiction book, I’d probably try doing the manuscript in Scrivener.

However you use it, Scrivener is well worth the money.




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Across a Billion Years by Sci Fi legend Robert Silverberg

Across a Billion Years is a first contact novel written by sci fi legend Robert Silverberg back in 1969. It’s interesting how some sci fi holds up well over the years, while other sci fi falls apart. Dune, for example, reads as well to me today as when I first turned a page in it forty plus years ago. It’s setting in a rather fantastical future helps. Sci fi that is more predictive, like Across a Billion Years, can more easily become book wormed with age. Fortunately, Across a Billion Years generally escapes this fate.

The year is 2375. Mankind has fast interstellar propulsion and interstellar communication via telepathy. (Space Sci fi requires both in some form or the author is severely limited.) The protagonist Tom Rice is a newly minted college graduate on an archaeological expedition to dig for artifacts on Highby V relating to The High Ones, who left their mark across the galaxy a billion years earlier.

The discovery of artifacts propels the plot as they attempt to discover the fate of The High Ones’ civilization. A subplot is the internal strains within the team brought on by racial tension between its five humans, five other alien races, and one human android. Another subplot concerns Rice’s romantic interests. Rice is initially quite naïve, and, although he doesn’t realize it, pretty opinionated and bigoted. He shows quite a bit of character development over the course of the novel.

The novel is presented as Rice’s communication to his sister as stored in a memory cube. That wouldn’t be my preference, but it works reasonably well.

The plot and subplots worked for me as did Rice’s character development. However, the book is more contemplative than action-packed. I thought the book floundered some at the end, and found the ending not satisfying. The secondary characters were rather lightly drawn, and more caricatures, than characters. I was particularly disappointed that the androids persona was explored more. Some of the science that was cutting edge in 1969, and that Silverberg spends many words on, is obsolete today, and not of interest to the modern reader.

Overall, the book was a quick read for me at 232 pages and maintained my interest. I rate it four stars considering its vintage. If it were modern, I’d knock it down a star. Personally, I think its regular Kindle price of $7.99 is too high, but I purchased it on sale via BookBub.

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Warrior in Bronze, a masterful recreation of ancient Grecian times

Warrior in Bronze is a historical fiction by George Shipway set in ancient Greece immediately prior to the Trojan War made famous in the Iliad. It’s told in first person by Agamemnon, starting when he’s a young boy and ending soon after he becomes King of Mycenae. You may recall that Agamemnon is the Greek leader against the Trojans. That story is the subject of a sequel by Shipway, The King in Splendour.

I enjoyed learning of these brutal, yet interesting, times through the eyes of Agamemnon: first as a young lad, then a youth thrust too soon into a man’s role, and finally a king. Shipway captures the military and domestic sides of ancient Greece, as well as the spirit of the times. Greek mythology suffuses the book, so true to the mythology of Agamemnon and his father Atreus, you should be prepared for incest, cannibalism, rape, treachery, and savage brutality.Agamemnon, at least when he’s young and trying desperately to escape a violent death himself, is as horrified by all these as much as we are. As he grows up, the reader is likely to become less sympathetic to Agamemnon, as he becomes more willing to use murder and treachery to obtain what he wants.

What I especially found fascinating was the way Shipway took the Greek mythology tales of gods and heros, and had Agamemnon tell how these events all happened in real life with real people. So Hercules, a brutish thug in this book, wanders in and out of the story several times and the truth of Zeus and the other Greek gods is revealed, to name two instances.

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DOWNLOAD is on sale for 99 CENTS on Amazon

Russian hackers and stock market manipulation add up to murder for National Security Agency mathematician Adam.

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Happy Birthday Krin!

No, it’s not the birthday of Krin Bishop, the empath heroine of Truth-Teller Rebellion.

There is a real Krin. She’s a spunky ninety-one years old today. Happy Birthday, Krin. I’ll have a full profile of her soon.

I had a problem three years ago when I started Truth-Teller Rebellion. I wanted a strong name for Cary’s remarkable sister, and I didn’t have one. My wife Teresa remembered Krin. It was the perfect name: both different and strong. We met Krin and her daughter two years earlier while on a cruise, and had kept in touch. Krin graciously gave me permission to use her name.

Thank again, Krin, and happy birthday.

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Tying Flies. A perfect activity for a rainy day.

I eliminated all except two passive sentences in Truth-Teller Revenge. One last read and it goes on to my editor. Roasted garlic and homemade spaghetti for dinner. Now some fly tying. There are few things more satisfying than catching a trout on a fly I created. Otherwise it’s a wet, dreary day in Poulsbo.IMG_2244

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