My Five Favorite Scrivener Tricks

I saw a blog over on, 5 Scrivener Tricks You’ll Love. They are some great tricks, too. If you are a scrivener user, they are some great tricks. Scrivener is like that. You think you know everything and someone comes along and shows you a new trick.

Scrivener logo

So with that in mind, here are my five favorite scrivener tricks I’ve learned recently.

1. Custom Icons

The little squares in the binder for scrivenings can get a little boring, plus there’s so many other options, and so many ways that customizing that icon can help you, depending on your writing style.

My current work in progress has a bunch of points of view. I want to see at a glance who’s point of view each scene is from, so I customized the icon accordingly.

Screen Shot 2015-11-11 at 4.23.59 AM

Screen Shot 2015-11-11 at 4.25.56 AMYou can change the icon by right clicking in the binder and selecting “change Icon” in the pop up. You can kick it up another notch by adding your own icons. At the bottom of “change icon” is manage icons which brings up a submenu. Click on the plus arrow and search your computer for any smallish png file and add it.

Screen Shot 2015-11-11 at 4.27.09 AMScreen Shot 2015-11-11 at 4.27.24 AM


I downloaded a large, free, fantasy, icon pack here.

2. Copy between scrivener projects by simply clicking and dragging.

A great way to copy information from one scrivener project to another is to simply click and drag it from one binder to another. Open both projects side by side and drag away. It will create a copy in the target project, but leave the original project the same.

For example, the Bear Naked series now has four books. The characters are mostly the same. So for each new installment I simply drag the entire character folder from one volume into the next.

3. Drag pictures into document notes

Did you know you could drag pictures into the document notes section. Why would you want to? Some I struggle with how to describe a scene. I can use a picture as a prompt. Another Bear Naked example, in book two I was struggling with how to describe a Stavanger Church in one scene. I downloaded a picture and dragged it into the document note, so I could see it while I was writing. It really helped me.

Screen Shot 2015-11-11 at 10.51.14 PM4. Not sure about a scene? Don’t delete it, just drag it outside the manuscript folder.

When you compile the manuscript at the end of your writing project, only things in the manuscript folder get added to the book. You can make that work to your advantage by dragging scenes out of that folder.

If you were unsure about a certain subplot, you could drag those scenes out of the manuscript folder and then compiling the document for beta reader A. Add them back in and compile again for beta reader B. Based on their feedback you can make a final decision.

Perhaps you write romance. Some of the publishers you submit to want super sexy stuff. Others want cleaner versions. No problem. Drag the sex scenes out for a cleaner read, or add them back in for more heat.

Both examples are levels of editing and rewriting that would be a major chore with a traditional word document, but are a snap in Scrivener.

5. Sync with Simplenote

Simplenote is just that, a simple note taking application. It works on ios and android devices. Scrivener has a built in tool for syncing documents with Simplenote.

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The good people at Literature and Latte have been promising a version of Scrivener that works on the ipad. Until they make good, you can use this simple trick to carry some of your writing on your favorite tablet. Under the file menu you find sync–>Simplenote. It’s a pretty straightforward process, but there’s also a great video on the Literature and Latte website to help if you get stuck. The first time you do this, you will need to give Scrivener your Simplenote account information, email and password. Each time you sync a new project you will have to create a project keyword.

This trick allows you to sync a couple scenes to your tablet to take with you wherever. You can write, edit or share those scenes. When you get home you can reverse the process, replacing your old file with the newly edited one as easily.
Those are my current five favorite tricks with Scrivener. Ask me again in a couple months and I might have five more. Scrivener is like that. It’s intuitive and relatively easy to get started with, but the more I learn, the more I am in awe at what it can do.

Yoik and a very Cryptic Clue about Bear Naked Four

What is Yoik?

Yoik is Sami singing. Though maybe it’s easier to show than tell.

The Sami are an indigenous people from Northern Europe. The more familiar term Lapp, or Laplander is actually offensive. Lapp is Swedish for patch, a reference to the patched clothing of the poorer northern people. They are most commonly known for being the reindeer herders of the far north.

The Sami people have a long rich history and culture of their own. Their traditional homeland spans Norway, Sweden, Finland and parts of Russia. Some of these countries treat the Sami well, in other places they still struggle for their rights, particularly to maintain their traditional herding, hunting and fishing grounds.

Singing and drumming are vital parts of the Sami’s heritage and in recent years there has been a movement to revitalize the ancient tradition of yoik.

I’ve posted my soundtrack for previous Bear Naked books. As I start in on Bear Naked Four, yoik has joined the playlist, including Sofia Jannock’s White.

What does Sami singing have to do with the plot of Bear Naked? Remember from Bear Naked 2, Jay has agreed to train as a Noaidi, a pathfinder, which is a kind of Sami shaman or medicine man with Corey’s uncle. So while the wolves have their big council to deal with, Jay’s got a subplot of his own in this installment.

For now I will leave you with another example of yoik:

Endings, Beginnings, and the Middle of a Big Project.

I finished another rough draft this week. It’s the third in my apocalypse series. You can check out Home for the Holidays here. Zoey and the Zombies is nearly through self edits. A Fishy End is now resting, I will come back in a month or two and re-read it. My plan is to take all three manuscripts and submit them to my editor over the winter sometime and publish them next year. I’m excited about getting this series out.

Home for the holidays web

My next project, the one I am doing for Nanowrimo is Bear Naked Four: the Wolf Council. I have been trying to focus on series, in particular having most of a series done before I try to publish and promote them. In that vein, writing the rough draft to Bear Naked Four means I should go on to write five and six immediately after, wrapping up the entire story arc.

I say should because I wrote a while ago about Big Project Blues. Book four of a six book series, now that’s big project blues. Novels have become old hat to me now. But this series is stretching out of my comfort zone. Hopefully writing book four will bring me back some of the passion of the series, I really love the characters and I love where the story is going. It’s just getting it there.

I can’t complain, though. I love writing. It’s what keeps me going when the rest of life gets hard.

In the meantime I am expecting to get back the second episode of my Sci-fi serial, The Girl in the Tank today and start working on prepping it for publication. Episode two: A Shaky Start should be available at the start of the month, on multiple platforms.

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October Prep-Mo and Good News for Bear Naked Fans

Image courtesy of National Novel Writing Month

Image courtesy of National Novel Writing Month

November is Nanowrimo, National Novel Writer’s Month. I am intending to participate again. As more and more writers join the Nanowrimo fun, October has become prep-mo, a period of prepping your Nano project and getting ready to write. What that means depends on the writer. Some do extensive planning, others sketch some notes and are ready to go.

I’ve been trying to decide what to do. I have my third apocalypse novel and it should be finished before the month is out. I have been debating what to do next.

There is one novel that is mostly planned but unwritten, Bear Naked 4: The Wolf Council. With renewed interest in the series now that Bear Naked 3 is out, it’s time to write book four.

The Hunted

Book four covers a relatively short period of time, the council between the werewolf tribes. However there is a lot of action in that short period. I am probably going to end up giving almost every character some POV time. It should be an interesting challenge to write and I am looking forward to starting it.

In the meanwhile you can get the first three in print from the Wordverve or in ebook from Amazon. Check the series out.

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Alternative Building, Architecture and Science Fiction

I’ve always been a bit obsessed with alternative building techniques and non-conventional architecture. My personal library contains a large number of books on straw-bale houses, cob construction, earthbag and many more styles of building. If you doubt me, check out my pinterest board for small houses I want to build some day.

One of the great things about writing science fiction is that I get to explore those same ideas in my writing. The first season of the Galactic Consortium serial takes place almost entirely onboard a single space ship, so there simply isn’t room to explore much. But in the future we will see more about how the Consortium lives and what their architecture looks like. It’s a blend of nano-polymers, sculpted like cob or adobe, but much more durable. It’s a big part of why the consortium has a feel of both being ahead of us, and more primitive.

Just because you are a spacefaring race doesn’t mean you have to live like you are in space. Consortium space ships, the big ones that people call home for their entire lives, abound in open courts. The open courts allow people to build dwellings that look and feel like villages and cities. Living on an open court is the best of both worlds. You get the open space of living on a planet, but with the perfect climate control on living inside.

Instead of a house with rooms, many live in small self contained courts, with individual bungalows or domes for rooms. The main living area is outside on a patio that might be open to the public or secluded and private.

There are numerous subcultures in the consortium and their dwellings reflect this. Some people live on courts, others choose more apartment-like dwellings on the stations. Still others live under giant domes, literally cities floating in space. There are domes, villas, bungalow, and many other structures.

I’ve followed the tiny house movement for a long time. My own house, at 1200 hundred square feet, is not a tiny house by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s not a typical McMansion either. I love the idea of making the most of a small space.

Needless to say, the consortium reflects a lot of the same principles. Living in space requires it. Physical space is one of the most precious commodities, so designing rooms and houses that make the most of it only makes sense. To alleviate the small spaces and the sense of claustrophobia that might come from living your life on a spaceship, the consortium opts for large open markets and public spaces.

When will you get to see these in print? Towards the end of season one and in the future seasons. Until then, Season one, Episode Two should be out by the month’s end.

A Fun Work In Progress

I’m having a lot of fun with my current WIP. It’s part of the Mondamin Court apocalypse series. Each book in the series is a stand alone book with the same cast of characters and the same starting location. The apocalypse, and therefor the rest of the novel, is different.

The one I am working on right now is a homage to horror writer H. P. Lovecraft. The working title is A Fishy End.

In the Shadow of Innsmouth, worship of the Esoteric Order of the Dagon brings inhabitants untold wealth and a bountiful harvest as fish. This presents a unique challenge in this book, as Kyle and Caleb discuss. Kyle says,  “It’s supposed to bring them untold riches and a bountiful harvest of fish.”

“Fish?” Caleb laughed out loud. “did you happen to notice we’re in Iowa? Not exactly known for our fishing are we?”

What does “a bountiful harvest of fish” mean in a landlocked state? Answering that question has proved more fun then I would have expected.

Another short excerpt from the Indian family down the street provides an example.

Sarah woke early. She went into the kitchen to see about getting breakfast started for the kids. She found a rather large sea bass in her sink. She stared at it a long time. She was still staring at it when Rick joined her in the kitchen.

“What the hell is that?” she asked.

He just shrugged. “Supper,” he replied. He reached up to the shelf above the sink. There were now two statues of Dagon, one on either side of Krishna, almost as though they were threatening him.

“Where did that come from?” she asked in a nervous whisper.

Rick didn’t answer. He merely gave her an enigmatic smile and said. “I told you this would be good for the family.”

The first Mondamin adventure: Home for the Holidays is up on Wattpad. The second Zoey and the Zombies is in the editing stage now.

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WIP Wednesday — Mondamin Court

About a year ago, I had this idea for a series. It’s set in a quiet neighborhood in Des Moines, though it could easily be any midsized Midwestern series. I know everyone in the neighborhood, what skills they posses and what they own. In each book, an apocalyptic event occurs and the neighborhood must respond. Each novel starts with the same characters in the same time and place, but how each novel plays out is very different.

I love this series for two reasons. The first reason is that most of these characters are not genre cliches. This isn’t a story about how a trained survivalist, ex special forces heroes will survive (or not survive) the apocalypse. It’s about how ordinary individuals with relatively few skills will cope.

The other thing I love is that changing the apocalypse and pressures they face, changes the entire story. Skills that might make someone essential in one storyline, might be a liability in another. Circumstances might force two characters together in one story and keep them apart in another.

In order to make sure the apocalypse isn’t the only drama going on, I’ve created a neighborhood with a fairly diverse cross section of people. A conservative fundamentalist couple lives next door to a lesbian couple. An African American man lives down the street from a racist. An ex-cop lives in one corner, two young men deal pot in another.

I made the marketing decision awhile back to focus more on series. Specifically I want to focus on getting more series done and out. I’ve too many series and possible series up in the air. So I want to have at least three of these Mondamin Court novels done and out before I really start pushing them, or judging their success.

You can read the first novel, Home for the Holidays on Wattpad right now.

Home for the Holidays is about a flu virus that kills over ninety percent of those infected. That means that the lion’s share of my characters simply die at the outset of the book. But it did allow me to put two of the most opposite characters together, which was a blast to write. Zoey Scott is a nineteen year old transgender woman and Darren Thames is a redneck pizza delivery man. When the two are left alone with three young girls to raise, it’s anything but an easy adjustment.

The second Mondamin book is a Zoey and the Zombies. Zombie hordes are threatening Des Moines. All that stands between Mondamin Court and the hordes are an ex cop, a petty drug dealer and a transgender girl with a sword. What could possible go wrong? It’s in editing stages now.

The third installment is my current WIP. I’m barely a few thousand words in, but I tend to be prolific once I get going. Hopefully all three can be close to ready and this series can go on my production calendar for next year.

Mondamin #3? It’s an homage to H. P. Lovecraft. A Fishy End is proving to be a fun book to write and I hope eventually, to read.


These are the Days

So the other day I was pacing the house about 8:30 pm in a state of agitation. I should have been writing. If not writing, I should have been getting ready for work. I couldn’t do either.

What I was doing, instead, was thinking. I had this image/idea in my brain and it was burning to get out. So I paced and thought.

These are the days I love. Inspiration strikes and it won’t be ignored. Your brain feels on fire and all you can do is to see these images in your head, hoping you can capture enough of their essence for the story to make sense to someone else.

The working title is Ripple. It’s about a shape-shifting energy being and an elderly doctor reliving her halcyon days. Beyond that, all I can do now is ramble. There are scenes that are so strong in my head, other pieces that are just random pieces. It will take time to sort things out. So, I won’t ramble. Instead I will leave you with the Ten Thousand Maniacs “These are the Days” and get back to writing.

If you can’t Write Fast, Fake it

I was given this advice, almost word for word, from a fellow writer recently. And surprisingly, it reverberated with me.

Indie writers often advise writing fast and publishing a lot. There are lots of good reasons to do this, if you are able. Publishing regularly keeps your name fresh in reader’s minds. Having lots of published works out allows readers to enjoy one story and then immediately move on to others. Writing fast makes it possible to write a lot, and writing a lot helps you get better at writing. If nothing else, publishing a lot of work means that even if you only have modest commercial success, if you multiply that by many books you can still make a decent income.

Writing fast gets a bad rap because it’s too often associated with writers publishing poorly edited manuscripts or cutting novels into pieces make serials. Those things that do happen, but there are many great writers who put out books regularly without sacrificing quality.

Not everyone can do it, however. Some of us naturally write fast but others do not. For those who do, what can they do?

The answer is to fake it. How do you do that? This writer suggested writing at least three books before even considering publication. Then either publish all three at once or space them out a month apart or so. That way you get the same advantages, bigger buzz and multiple books on the market, without having to write a book a month.

I write fast. But I also tend to write scattered. I have several books in progress at any one time. I have several series up in the air right now. The third Bear Naked book will be out very soon. There are three more in the story arc that aren’t written.

Meanwhile I have the next Gilded Empire book almost done. It’s the beginning of a trilogy. I have the Galactic Consortium serial running on Wattpad and the first Mondamin apocalypse novel on that site.

The Bear Naked hasn’t performed as well as I expected. Part of it, I think, is that readers don’t like to start series that aren’t complete, or at least well under way. There is always a concern that the author will abandon the series uncompleted. We have been conditioned by the availability of so many series that it’s hard to get traction with one book. Hopefully, The Hunted will give the Bear Naked series that kind of traction.

In the meantime I am thinking of taking this advice to heart. I have temporarily tabled The Banner of Kash until I can finish at least the rough draft of books two and three. I have a second Mondamin book in editing stages and a third in planning. Once the Banner of Kash is completed I will come back to that series.

What do you think? Will you read the first book in a series if the others aren’t completed yet?

A Hunted Sneak Peek: Meet Jazzy

Bear Naked 3: The Hunted is almost here, but there’s still time to pre-order and get the first two books free!

This week’s sneak peek includes a new character.

Set up: Uncle Darren is missing in Idaho, in Skinwalker territory. Connor’s Uncle Mitch is hurt. Connor and Amanda went with Connor’s dad to get him back and see if they can figure out what’s happened. The rest of the pack defies orders from the adults to join them. They have just arrived in Blackfoot, Idaho

This chapter is from Brianna’s point of view.


The Hunted



Brianna followed Amanda out of the parking lot. It was cold, and she pulled her coat closer. She felt . . . she paused, not sure what she felt or how to describe it. Maybe there wasn’t a human word for it. Her pack was part of her, part of her in a way you couldn’t describe to someone who wasn’t part of a pack. Her alphas, Connor and Amanda, were the center of the pack. To be apart from them had left her feeling like part of herself had gone missing. Now it was back, walking next to her.

That was the good part. Getting out of the station wagon after over twenty hours on the road was another good part. She had slept fitfully, curled up on Jonathan’s shoulder, but the drive had been long and wearing.

Aaron’s reaction, that was the not so good part. What had they expected? However sound their reasoning, they had defied pack order and defied his wife, Karen. Had they really expected him to be glad to see them? Even in her mind, she shrank from his disapproving stare.

Connor kept giving them guilty glances, like he wanted to stand up to his dad on their behalf, but he couldn’t. He hadn’t been the one to defy Aaron.

Aaron secured a second motel room for them. He lectured them as he did so. They weren’t rich, and they could never afford to forget about human responsibilities. He complained that the cost of housing and feeding them would stretch the household budget.

Amanda responded by telling him that she knew how to eat cheap on the road. She would use her money, money from Darren, to get groceries. They had already eaten more from restaurants than they should have.

Brianna, wanting to get out from under Aaron’s dark mood, agreed to go along with Amanda to do the shopping. Jay and Corey followed after them. Amanda found Darren’s emergency stash of cash in the pickup and took a couple of twenties before leading them on foot to a nearby grocery store.

What about the Skinwalkers?” Connor asked from the doorway.

I told you, the elder gave me leave,” Amanda answered sharply. “See that the pack gets settled. We’ll be back.”

He gave her a long, hard look before nodding. “Take care,” he said and turned back inside.

They walked to the first main crossroad from the motel and turned right. The grocery store was a small one, about four blocks down. The wind was bracing, but none of the others seemed bothered by the cold. The sun shone bright against the white snow.

Jay began to sing softly, a folk song about the land of the midnight sun. Corey knew it too and joined in on the chorus. The song fit the weather perfectly.

As they approached the grocery store, a group of young men dashed around the edge of the store, chasing a young woman. They shouted obscenities as they went. Brianna saw Amanda stiffen and then heard her mutter, “Oh, no.”

Amanda bolted toward the men. Brianna followed hard on her heels, feeling savage and proud. You didn’t chase or threaten people around her alpha.

They had the girl cornered by a dumpster when Brianna rounded the corner. She pulled up short, staring at the girl. She had pure-white hair. It was maybe six inches long, teased out from her head like a giant puffball. She was wearing a faded demin jacket, a short skirt, and tights. Her face and arms were white, not racial white, but brilliant white. She had one hand over her eyes and the other outstretched in front of her.

Give ’em back. I need them,” she whined at the men.

There were a half dozen young men, boys really, ringing her in. They were white, dressed in winter coats and blue jeans. The leader, a burly-looking boy with a fat face, held a pair of sunglasses out. “What, these?” he said. He dropped the glasses. He waited until the girl leaned over and reached for them, then he stepped on them.

Hey!” she protested.

We’ve warned you,” one of the other boys spat out. “How many times have we warned you? If we ever caught you away from your little gang of friends, we’d teach you a real lesson. Guess what? That day has come.”

Fuck off and leave her alone,” Amanda yelled. The boys startled and turned toward her.

What did you just say?” the fat boy asked.

You heard me,” Amanda snarled. “Leave the poor girl alone.”

The boy laughed, a crude sound. “That’s not a girl. He just wants to be a girl.”

One of them,” another boy said, waving his arms and hips in a poor imitation of a woman’s walk.

Shut up,” Jay snapped. “Why you gotta be like that, huh? What’s it to you if someone’s a little different?”

Are you one too?” the boy sneered. “Or are you just a plain ole fag?”

Jay’s eyes narrowed, and he stepped nose to nose with the boy. “Go ahead. Say that again, I dare you.”

The fat boy, who appeared to the gang’s leader, spoke again. “Come on, there are six of us and three of you. Two girls and fag. Just move on. This don’t concern you anyway.”

Three? Where had Corey gotten off too? Brianna shook it off, she didn’t have time to look and she trusted Corey could take care of himself.

Amanda got right up in his face. “I can take all six of you. If you doubt it, try me. So why don’t you move along?”

Brianna’s eyes darted back and forth, trying to take in all six boys. Who should she rush to protect, Amanda or Jay? They could both hold their own, especially against humans. Then she caught one of the boys staring at her, his eyes filled with equal parts hatred and lust. I’ll go for him, she thought, make him think twice before looking at woman like that again.

Please, I don’t want any trouble,” the girl said again. Brianna shifted her weight.

I’ll go for her, get by her side, and make sure none of them come at her. She’s the one we are here to protect.

She heard the sound of running feet. Moments later, it was loud enough for the boys to hear as well. Their eyes darted passed the three in front of them. Brianna spared a single glance behind her. Jonathan was first, as always, and booking. Corey, who had ran to get them wasn’t far behind with Tanner, Erica, and Connor hard on his heels.

Fuck, fuck, fuck,” the fat boy was saying.

Is there a problem?” Connor demanded as he came to halt at Amanda’s side.

They had this poor girl cornered,” Amanda said.

That’s not a girl, it’s a boy,” one of the boys put in, obviously thinking it would turn the tide for them.

So?” Erica snapped. “We don’t hate on anyone, except bullies. You trying to bully her?”

Yeah, being transgender is hard enough, without dipshits like you getting all up in her grill,” Tanner said.

I think you should leave,” Connor said. “And in the future, I think you should leave her the fuck alone. Okay?”

The boys bolted and ran. “Cowards!” Tanner shouted at their retreating backs.

Hey, are you okay?” Erica asked, sidling up to the girl, who had her hand over her eyes.

Yeah, thanks, I’m okay. It’s just, they broke my glasses, and it’s really bright today, you know.”

Erica ducked down and glanced under the girl’s hand. “You’re albino?”

Yeah, my eyes, they don’t got pigment. Light is hard on them. I really need sunglasses, especially days like today.”

Brianna thought a moment and then dug in her coat pocket. She came out with a pair of Ray-Bans and handed them to Erica.

Here,” Erica said, holding out the glasses.

You don’t have to. Grandma’s probably got a pair at home; I just got to get there.”

It’s okay,” Erica insisted. “Take them.”

The girl took them but didn’t put them on. “I don’t have any money on me.”

It’s okay,” Brianna said. “It’s a gift.”

These are Ray-Bans; they’re expensive.”

Don’t worry,” Erica said, “I’ll buy her a new pair. I promise. You take those.”

She will,” Brianna joked, “I’ll make her.” Tanner chuckled.

I’ll . . . I’ll pay you back, somehow, I promise.”

Erica waved a hand dismissively. “You don’t need to.”

I will,” the girl insisted.

The sound of running feet snapped everyone to attention again. A group of four Native American youths came running around the corner. There were three boys and a girl. The girl and one of the boys were tall and lean, the other two were shorter, broad and stocky. Despite the cold, they wore jeans, t-shirts, and light jackets. They pulled up short, looking at them.

Is there a problem?” the tallest of the boys demanded. He glanced at the white-haired girl. “Are you okay, Jazzy? Grandma Lightfoot called.” Brianna followed his glance to a rundown house across the street. A curtain rustled, and Brianna thought she saw an old woman’s face retreating away from the window.

No, Tyee,” Jazzy said, “it wasn’t them. It was Jason and his crew. These guys chased them off.”

Tyee looked them over uncertainly. A breeze swirled between the two groups, and everyone’s eyes went wide, scent filling each nostril.

Wolves,” Tyee and Connor said together.

Leidulf,” Connor supplied.

The injured one,” Tyee said.

My uncle,” Connor confirmed. “This is my pack.”

Tyee stared at them a moment more, then nodded. “Okay.” He stood straight, relaxing. “I’m Tyee, and this my pack.” He quickly introduced the others. Connor did the same for his pack.

Thank you for protecting my omega,” Tyee said after a short pause. “Jazzy, come on. Let’s get you home. Grandma will be worried.”

Jazzy had slid the Ray-Bans over her eyes and gave them a nod. “Thanks,” she said. She tapped the glasses and looked at Erica, “I will repay you somehow. I promise.”