Tag Archives: software

Really Cool Software to Help you Write…Wait, What do you mean I Actually HAVE to Write???

I am a gadget person. As I have pointed out before, if it lights up that pretty indigo blue or makes cool noises…I’m your writer. I love my iPad, I love neat little software programs and I love my iPhone with Suri who calls me “Writer Jai”…I admit it…I am a geek. But there is some danger in loving all this stuff…let me explain…

I am a writer first, a geek second, at least that is my struggle. It is very easy for me to get distracted with all of the bells and whistles and forget to, well, actually write. I get a new writing program and I spend so much time trying to master it that I lose sight of the whole reason I got it in the first place…to help me write. It’s kind of silly when you consider it.

My advice to all you writers out there who are like me and love the “cool” factor is to proceed with caution. By all means go out there and find the cool writing stuff but make sure that you are also taking time to write while you are doing it. I am constantly on the lookout for programs that will make the whole process easier but, let’s be honest, if I’m not actually writing….what’s the point of the programs.

Having said all that, I wanted to share a few cool writing programs with all of you. Check them out; one might just work for you. If you have suggestions for me, bring them on…I’m game.

These are just a few of the iPad and computer programs that I think are really cool but remember, explore these and others BUT don’t forget to write. There really is no point in programs to make writing easier if you aren’t actually writing…..

© The Writer’s Advice, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.


Posted by on October 25, 2022 in Writing, Writing Tools


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Too Many Distractions Makes for a Frustrated Writer

The phone rings, the email notification goes crazy, the dog is barking at the cat, the next door neighbor is replacing his roof and the workers are trying to outdo each other with their hammers, the 11 year old needs help with her homework and there’s a guy at the front door who thinks I need a new vacuum cleaner….holy crap!

That was my Thursday of last week. I was smack dab in the middle of finishing a ghost writing project and working on magazine articles yet, it seemed like the entire world didn’t care….they had needs too. It is very easy to get distracted as a writer. Life gets in the way all the time. What’s worse, if you work at home…everyone else thinks that you have all the time in the world to do their stuff. I have to yell “uncle” a lot.

So how do you fight the everyday distractions without, (a) neglecting someone or something important, or (b) pissing off your family because you need to concentrate on your own work, or (c) losing your mind completely? It’s not easy. I do have a few things that I have learned over the years that kind of work…sometimes…every now and again…ok…hardly ever, but I keep trying.

Freedom Software – This is a software program that literally kicks you off the internet. This is great if you can be disciplined enough to used it properly. I profiled it here

Schedules – I find that having a schedule is so important that I set it up every Sunday. A schedule says, “hey, I’m busy here, here and here…so don’t even bother asking. I also post it on the fridge in case there is any question. A schedule says, I’m serious…don’t bug me.

Family Pow Wows – I had to sit down with my family and explain how important it was to leave me be so I could get my work done. My 11 year old didn’t really listen, but the others did. They are now my first line of defense when other people step in the way. (I do have to note here that the kids are my first line of defense however, that does not keep them from interrupting me just after they have told someone else that I can’t be interrupted…go figure)

These are just a few of the things I have tried; some days they work, some days they don’t. You have to sort of feel your way around. The thing is, realize that getting distracted can defeat your work and you don’t want that to happen. Set the ground rules and then pray that everyone takes mercy on you and follows them.


© The Writer’s Advice, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.


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Beware the Internal Editor Zombie

You all know him….he’s that guy, in your head. You know, that guy, who causes you to constantly question what you wrote mere seconds ago and tries to force you to edit as you go. Ignore him; scream at him to go away, try and destroy him by eating as many Twinkies as you can…(ok that last one might not be a great idea) but whatever you do…don’t listen to him!

The internal editor can be your friend such as when you are having a conversation with someone that you don’t particularly care for. He stops your mouth from saying things like, “hello, why are you talking to me” as opposed to, “hello, I need to get going”. He’s the guy who stops you from calling your dad a doody head when he won’t let you borrow the car. In these ways, your internal editor is working for the light side, doing good and keeping you from getting grounded by your dad, but there is also, for us writers, a dark side.

The dark side of our internal editor is the side that prevents us from completing a story because he/she keeps popping in to tell us to edit. Editing while getting the story down on paper will ensure that two things happen, (a) your story will so fluid that the changes can keep you stuck and (b) you might never finish the story because it is so fluid. I have a ghost writing project going for instance where the client seems to think that editing as we go is okay. No matter how many times I explain that the first draft is getting the story down, it doesn’t matter….it’s frustrating. I know my internal editor, I named him Mick and he can be a real pain in the arse. I love him around for the final edits but as I go, chewing on my story…there are times when I want to hire the Boondock Saints to take him out.

You must remember that the internal editor is a bit like a mindless zombie walking around in your head muttering, “edit…edit…I need edits”. You have to control him or he’ll take over your story altogether and it will never get finished. Make him stay away while you get your story on paper and then let him nom, nom, nom on the edits after that. He’s helpful but only at the right time.


© The Writer’s Advice, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.


Posted by on April 2, 2023 in Inspiration, Structure, Writing


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You are a Great Writer until You Are a Bad Speller

There are more than a few ways you can say, “I’m a writer” and then get laughed out of the room. Perhaps the best ways is to ignore spell check.

I’ve been a writer in one form or another for most of my life. I had my first piece published when I was nine years old and now (at way over 9 years old) I am still pecking away at the keys. When I was nine, Highlights Magazine published my short story and my mom spell checked it before I turned it in. (Thanks Mom) Now, my mom has had right about enough of my writing and I have spell check to fill in the space. And I use it….every, single day.

You might note that I claim to be a writer, but I have to tell you one thing I don’t claim to be is a speller; cause I’m not. One of the most annoying things in my life as a writer is to have someone turn to me and ask me how to spell a word that the average person would have no clue how to spell. They assume that because I am a writer, I must be an excellent speller…well…I’m not. In fact, I give spell check quite the run for its money most days. The thing is…I KNOW I am not a great spelling prodigy. I can tell a good story. I have all these voices in my head that I can listen to and then sort out until I have a mystery thriller that will curl your toes. What I am NOT is a person who can tell you how to spell words out of the medical dictionary. (raise your hand if you think most of those words are just made up any ways…) I’m a writer. You want a speller…Google “spelling bees”.

Here’s the thing though, you have to USE the spell checker if you are a writer. It is because of these very stereotypical ideas about what a writer is that you must use it. If you don’t, you’ll just look downright stupid. You might be a great writer but if your readers catch a spelling mistake every fifteen sentences, they will not see your story…they will see your spelling mistakes. True story…when I first started out as a reporter (I was 18 and still in college) I would write these great stories for the local newspaper and people will rave about how great I was covering the crime beat. Everyone, except a little 89 year old retired school teacher named Mrs. Burchum. She took my stories, cut them out of the newspaper and red-lined each one, highlighting every mistake. And then she would mail them back to me…I was crushed at first. Then one day she came into the office and asked for me. She told me that she loved my reporting and she loved my stories but, she hated my spelling. She told me that my editor was horrible and that if I wanted to be considered a good writer, I needed a better editor. I had to learn to spell, or she said, cheat, use a dictionary. Mrs. Burchum made sure that I understood that I was a good writer but that my spelling mistakes were hiding my talent. When she passed away four years later she left word that I was to write her obit. You can be sure that every word was spelled correctly.

Use your spell checker folks so that people will not be blinded by your spelling mistakes and see you for the really great writer that you are.

© The Writer’s Advice, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.


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Software - The Freedom Not to Be on the Internet

Ok, I admit it…the title is a play on words. Today’s post is actually about a program that helps folks gain freedom from the internet. Now if I sound like the internet is a prison, that’s because it can be. We have all done it…gotten out of bed, slogged over to the coffee pot, sat down at the computer and suddenly it’s 6:15 p.m. and the kids are asking if grilled cheese is really dinner. The internet can catch you and hold you for the better part of the day if you let it.

I get caught in the trap if I don’t severely organize myself. There is so much to do on the internet. As it is, I get up and check my e-mail, update Facebook (personal), update the Facebook fan page, check my website, update my blog, check the news and look at the obits in my hometown newspaper (okay, that last one is a little creepy but I am at an age when folks I knew in high school are dying off…it’s sad and interesting all at the same time) If I allow it, the internet can bleed through into my writing time very quickly. You really do have to have enormous self-control and…well…and I don’t. (There I said it)

So what can you do if you are an internet weakling like me? The answer for me, currently, is a software program called “Freedom”. Freedom was developed for the MAC originally (because all the really cool programs are) but now you can also get it for the PC. The program does only one thing, turn it on, tell it how long you’d like to be offline, and it kicks you offline. It literally blocks your system from the internet for the time you allot. Freedom enforces freedom. Once the time you set is up, the program allows you back onto the internet.  If you want to get back onto the internet before the time is up you’ll need to reboot your entire system and having to do that means you’re less likely to cheat, and you’ll enjoy your freedom. It’s a really cool program. You can get the program here; and it will cost you $10 but it is two lattes well spent for a little freedom from all those e-mails from your mother-in-law and Timmy, your creepy childhood friend, the Facebook updates about everything from people’s choice of underwear color to if their two year old has finally gotten he hang of potty training and those annoying doomsday news flashes about 2012 warning of impending doom. Go ahead, admit that you are addicted to the internet and buy yourself a little “Freedom”. It’s really worth it.


© The Writer’s Advice, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.


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Write, Write, Where Ever You Are

I am a techno geek. That’s right; I love anything that lights up and plugs in. I try and get all of the newest gadgets and I have to spend at least an hour in the electronic section of any store I visit. It’s fun and, because I am female, it confuses the sales people. (I am often asked if I am looking for my husband or son…chauvinist!) I like the games and all the neat stuff but thing I enjoy most is how mobile it has made me as a writer. Because of technology I can write anywhere I want to.

Don’t misunderstand me, I do love my desk. It is, after all, where I keep my mess, but, being able to pick up my iPad or my Galaxy Tab and move to the couch or the back deck…that’s kind of cool. Sometimes my desk is the place writer’s block finds me and in order to hide from it, I have to get up and move. That doesn’t mean I don’t want to write, it means that I don’t want to write AT my desk. Technology allows me to do that.

Now I know that there are some old…sorry…”experienced” writers out there who are cringing at the idea of writing anywhere but their writing space…I get that. Change is tough. I would challenge you to give it a try though because it is freeing. I no longer have to lug my laptop everywhere I go. I did love the concept of a laptop when it came out. It was freeing from the desktop. Laptops were lighter and mobile but now, tablets are even lighter and more mobile. I can write in the car, I can write in the yard, I can write in store and I can write even more…oops got so excited I went a little Dr. Seuss there. Anyway, you get the idea. Technology is your friend.

So break away from the norm, get out from behind your desk and write somewhere else. Find a tree to sit under or a stream to sit by….you will be surprised at the affect it will have on your work.


© The Writer’s Advice, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.


Posted by on March 8, 2023 in Inspiration, Writing, Writing Tools


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Live the Life of a Writer

Writing is a tough vocation. It’s lonely, people tend to question if it’s a “real job” and the hang time on results often stinks. If you are looking for instant validation for your work…you’d better get a different job.

Half the battle in making sure that you don’t lose the faith is living like a writer. It’s funny because people who have other jobs don’t have to think that way. A construction worker is a construction worker. He has his tools, his friends understand that he is the guy to call when a nail needs hammering, he’s the construction guy. The grill cook or chef is the guy whose house everyone shows up to on Friday nights because that’s where the good food is.  No one questions if he can cook…they just grab a fork. And the guys who work as executives at big companies ALWAYS look the part and no one says to them, “so hey, when are you going to get a real job”. The writer on the other hand is the guy or girl who gets to hear things like, ‘so what do you do in your spare time’, and they get that “look” whenever they answer the question what do you do for a living. You know the look, it says, oh…so you are in between jobs….

Let’s face it; no matter what we do as writers, unless we are on the best seller list, folks are going to continue to treat us like we don’t really work. I worked as a newspaper reporter for over 28 years and I had family members who still asked me when I was going back to college to get a degree for a career. Now days, with several published novels and a successful freelance business, all they see is that I am at home all day and I still never went back to college. (I have a degree in journalism by the way) So what can you do to combat this? Truth is you can’t change other people so you have to take care of the way you see yourself.

I personally live as the writer I am. I make no excuses for what I do. I talk and spend time with other writers both on the internet and in real life. (No, the internet is NOT real life so back away from the mouse from time to time) I shop for writer’s things and I budget for things like the Writer’s Market and software that helps me with my craft. I guard my writing time and I give folks who question what I do an ear full when they are asking stupid questions like, “do you make any money writing”. Don’t let people make you feel like you are not a writer. Make them respect who you are and what you do. And when someone says, out loud at the dinner table, “I could have written a book”, look them straight in the eye and say, prove it, and then take great pleasure in the look of panic that spreads across their faces. Live like a writer…you are one…make everyone respect that.

© The Writer’s Advice, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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Posted by on February 29, 2023 in Inspiration, Writing


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Reset Sunday – Software for Tablets

Since its Reset Sunday our topic today is one of fun less than work. I recently got involved in the tablet world as another tool for my writing. I bought an iPad, then gave it to my son and bought a Galaxy Tab 7+ now, I’m thinking about going back to the iPad or a Galaxy Tab 10 or 8.9.

While I hate the idea of being tethered to iTunes, I have to admit that, as a writer, the iPad had more to offer. It has submission tracking software (iTrack) that worked really well. I enjoyed the Ghostwriter program which allows you to actually set up notebooks for different projects. I also liked some of the time tracking software. My Galaxy is a 7 so it is much smaller than the iPad and that proved to be a problem once I had it. I’m getting a bit older and so my eyes don’t appreciate the smaller screen like I thought they would. Plus, the Android market is moving slowly in terms of software so I can’t do as much as I could on the iPad.

So here are some things I learned to consider when it comes to getting involved in tablets.

-Make sure you’ll use it. The average price is about $650-850 so this purchase requires some commitment. As a writer I think it is an invaluable tool allowing me to write in the car or anywhere else I want to go and NOT lug my laptop.

-Do some research on the size that will be best for you. If your eyes can take it, go smaller but I wouldn’t go smaller than 8.9. Screen property is important when you are a writer.

-Do some research on the different tabs. Like I said I had an iPad, went with the Galaxy and am now thinking that it was a mistake…a $1300 mistake. At this point adding a new tab, either of which will cost me another $750-850, is making that mistake grow. Do you get the picture? If you don’t want to be in the doghouse with your spouse, which I am to some degree, make your decision carefully. Go try them out before buying.

-Keep in mind that technology moves fast. Get your tab and dedicate yourself to not trying to keep up with the upgrades. By the time I had gotten comfortable with my iPad, the iPad 2 came out and all I could think was that I should have waited. Here’s the rub though, if you wait you may also never get one because they are always changing.

As you can see getting a tab, and getting the right tab, is no small decision. My son loves his and uses it for music. I use my Galaxy 7 but when I get my next tab, my spouse, who is a nurse, will be able to use it so no money wasted. (At least that’s what I keep telling myself) So do the research and tread carefully…if you make the right decision, you won’t regret it but if you make the wrong decision…well let’s just say that you will never hear the end of it.



© The Writer’s Advice, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.


Posted by on February 26, 2023 in Writing, Writing Tools


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My Favorite Writing Program

For years I searched for the “right” software to help me organize my writing. It was frustrating, trying to find something that would do everything I wanted. I like the concept of being able to organize with index cards but I didn’t like the idea of posting them all over my office. I’m not an outliner but do like having a timeline. I am a word count junkie. I need to know how far I have come. While MS Word is a good program, it is what it is…a word processing program and not enough for me as a writer.

In December of last year a friend and fellow writer, Yuvi Zalkow (who has a wonderful website at suggested Scrivener. This is a writing program that is normally a MAC program but recently they had developed a version for Windows. Although I was skeptical, I decided to give it a try. I could not be happier. This is a powerful content-generation tool for writers that allow you to concentrate on actually writing. It gives you complete control of the formatting and offers all of the tools any writer would need to complete that first draft. What’s more, Yuvi offered a video on how the program worked and what the highlights were; it is both fun and easy to follow. (

I know that I have barely scratched the surface on what this program can do but I am so pleased with it, I am happy to find out while I am using it. If you are looking for the perfect writing program, this is it. For more info visit

Thanks Yuvi for your help and support. Folks visit Yuvi’s site. He will make you think and laugh at the same time.



© The Writer’s Advice, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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Posted by on February 12, 2023 in Structure, Writing, Writing Programs


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