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"Roundheads and Ramblings"

May 2013

It's the Last Day of May and Changes Lie Ahead

No, the hard-wired smoke detectors still aren't working -- too long a story to blog about! Other than that annoyance, the summer is starting off well.  My new book has passed the 40,000-word mark, which makes me believe it may really come to exist some day. We're in the middle of planning a November South Carolina trip, with thoughts of doing some book promotion on both "The Road to Frogmore" and "Damned Yankee" (if it's close to completion by then!) 

In the meantime, here are some interesting tidbits I found on the internet and scooped to the pages I curate.

The Historian's Point of View:  The Experiences of the Past, Seen through Current Events

On this site, I'll be gathering articles about the craft of history -- new discoveries, new methods, new controversies.  Today's article may be my favorite scoop of all time! Visit this page to read about the Desperate Housewives of the 13th Century -- a review of a new book that will give you a whole new perspective on why medievalists love their period of history.



The Writing Game: A Collection of Advice and Clever Tips for Writers of all Genres

Every writer has a set of tricks to help navigate through thorny spots in the writing process. Maybe some of them will help you, too.  One of the more difficult issues for writers has to do with point-of-view.  Here's an article that offers some valuable advice.



Self-Publisher: How To Be Your Own Publisher without Going Bankrupt

Current views and helpful tips from authors who have switched to self-publishing. Today I found two articles that may be helpful to self-publishers who are struggling with marketing their work. One deals with book signings, and the other offers some Do's and Don't's for handling PR.



When All Else Fails, Try Scooping Some News

Yesterday, I spent most of my day  preparing for -- and then undergoing -- an interview with a foundation that is considering making a major grant to the non-profit organization of which I am president for one more month.  I think I'm going to be glad to move on to "immediate past president" status, where I can keep a finger in the pie without being held responsible for daily crises.   

When I got home from the interview and changed out of my "go-to-meeting" clothes, I actually sat down to do some writing -- something I've been avoiding for the last couple of weeks.  Much to my surprise, the words started flowing easily.  Time to get back to work!  

But life intervenes again.  We're waiting for an electrician to arrive to figure out why we spend Memorial Day with five smoke detectors going off. (And no, it wasn't the BBQ grill that triggered them!) The only way we could get them to stop -- and allow the cats to crawl back out from under the bed -- was to yank them out of the ceiling and undo the wires.  In the meantime, here are some interesting tidbits I found on the internet and scooped to the pages I curate.


The Historian's Point of View:  The Experiences of the Past, Seen through Current Events

On this site, I'll be gathering articles about the craft of history -- new discoveries, new methods, new controversies.  I enjoyed a short video on why the Dark Ages Weren't Dark.  We've all been preaching this point over and over, but this short lecture sums it all up nicely.

Find it at: http://www.scoop.it/t/the-historian-s-point-of-view


The Writing Game: A Collection of Advice and Clever Tips for Writers of all Genres

Every writer has a set of tricks to help navigate through thorny spots in the writing process. Maybe some of them will help you, too.  There's a new way for non-fiction writers to handle their source materials.  Historians will particularly appreciate the simplicity of this citation machine.  And there's a bonus article here on the debatable merits of Amazon's Associates program.

Find it at: http://www.scoop.it/t/the-writing-game


Self-Publisher: How To Be Your Own Publisher without Going Bankrupt

Current views and helpful tips from authors who have switched to self-publishing. Today I found an article that takes a clear-eyed view of rejection letters instead of instant fame.

Find it at: http://www.scoop.it/t/self-publisher


Holidays are for . . . .?

The holiday weekend has been spent cleaning up the front porch (still working on the concrete!), trying to cheer on the floundering Grizzlies, implementing a new "To Do" app, shopping, and finally enjoying some meals on the grill.

Now we have tomatoes, banana peppers, basil, thyme, parsley, and some stray mums decorating the walkway.  Yes, that's a cat in the doorway.  Panda is 19 years old, but he doesn't miss a trick.  Just don't ask him to come out in the yard. Behind him, if you blow up the picture, is the ghostly reflection of me taking the picture.

Maybe  next week I'll get back to writing. In the meantime,  here's what I found on the internet this weekend.

The Historian's Point of View:  The Experiences of the Past, Seen through Current Events

On this site, I'll be gathering articles about the craft of history -- new discoveries, new methods, new controversies.  Today I can't decide whether I'm a medieval historian or a Civil War novelist, so I've posted two articles -- one on medieval insults and one on making South Carolina's famous sweetgrass baskets.

Find it at: http://www.scoop.it/t/the-historian-s-point-of-view


The Writing Game: A Collection of Advice and Clever Tips for Writers of all Genres

Every writer has a set of tricks to help navigate through thorny spots in the writing process. Maybe some of them will help you, too.  Here are some legal issues that affect all writers, but particularly those who are going the self-publishing route.  The bottom line is always: Watch what you write!

Find it at: http://www.scoop.it/t/the-writing-game


Self-Publisher: How To Be Your Own Publisher without Going Bankrupt

Current views and helpful tips from authors who have switched to self-publishing. Today I have answers to eighteen questions about self-publishing. Do you think publishing is a route to getting rich quick?  Better think again.

Find it at: http://www.scoop.it/t/self-publisher


Getting to Know and Love Scapple

What does that word mean?  Think of it as a combination of "scrap" -- "scalpel" (cutting edge) --"scaffold" -- "scramble" -- "scrabble" -- in short a new word to describe that piece of paper on which you doodle until ideas start to flow and make sense. You know the one -- the piece of paper that fills up before you have all your plot elements down?  The one you spilled coffee on, just when you knew what you were going to write about? The one that made perfect sense in the middle of the night but is unreadable in the morning?


Well, you can put those so-called idea-scraps in the nearest trash bin.  Now, if you have a MAC running Snow Leopard or above and Intel, you can use Scapple, a never-ending, infinitely-expandable piece of paper for your computer.  And your random thoughts can end up looking like this:



Scapple is not-really mind-mapping software; it's more like freeform virtual paper. It's proof that your random thoughts really do have a pattern or organization behind them.  You can start anywhere on the sheet and branch out in any direction.  You can include totally unrelated notes, connect ideas in any direction, group items together, move any one note (or any number) from one place to another.  You can apply colors, borders, and shapes if you want them. And when you are all though, you can print out your diagram, or save it in PDF, or drag and drop it into Scrivener.  How cool is that!

I've been using it to map out my main story line and its sub-plots for my next novel.  I've been using clusters of notes for each chapter, and then moving them over to Scrivener for reference.  And when I've completed a draft of a whole chapter, I can drag the new Scrivener note card from the corkboard view back into Scapple, so that it shows up as a completed chapter. Here's a small clip that shows some completed chapters in pink, the next chapters as topics in green, and related plain notes for each chapter.


I was a beta tester for this new application, so I'm  probably biased. However, I'm loving it for the way it keeps me on track.  Apologies to those of you using Windows.  I suspect a form you can use will appear in due course, since you now can get Scrivener (they're made by the same company), but this is so new that it likely will not appear for a while.


In the meantime, if you have the right hardware, this is software you cannot afford to ignore.  It only costs $14.99, and you can get a 30-day free trial if you like .  Order it at http://www.literatureandlatte.com/scapple.php#wrapper-content

Today's Interesting Tidbits from the Internet

 I hope to be back later today with a description of the new plotting application I'm using. In the meantime,  here's what I found on the internet this morning.

The Historian's Point of View:  The Experiences of the Past, Seen through Current Events

On this site, I'll be gathering articles about the craft of history -- new discoveries, new methods, new controversies.  Today I posted an article on some 1000-year-old coins discovered in Australia.  Our views of history keep changing.

Find it at: http://www.scoop.it/t/the-historian-s-point-of-view


The Writing Game: A Collection of Advice and Clever Tips for Writers of all Genres

Every writer has a set of tricks to help navigate through thorny spots in the writing process. Maybe some of them will help you, too.  Do you have trouble writing from home because of the distractions?  Here are some suggestions on how to handle them.

Find it at: http://www.scoop.it/t/the-writing-game


Self-Publisher: How To Be Your Own Publisher without Going Bankrupt

Current views and helpful tips from authors who have switched to self-publishing. Today I have answers to eighteen questions about self-publishing.

Find it at: http://www.scoop.it/t/self-publisher