Hello, I’m Still Here

May 11, 2015Author comments

Image: Courtesy of www.nikon.com

My hibernation ended. It is as sunny like a grilled cheese sandwich (that’s what the beagle would say if he could speak). The winter was too long here in the woods, and even longer for me because of a health issue that had me worried. Fortunately, everything is fine. The dogs are fine. Work is fine. I’m fine. Well…almost everything is fine. What isn’t fine is the writing.

Have I hit a wall? Yes and no. I spent the last three months preoccupied with my health and decided I needed a break. I spent a good deal of time reading, averaging about a book a week. Work kept me busy: Scrivener classes plus writing and editing articles.

When I wasn’t busy with work or reading, my mind wandered to an uncertain future. Or—better put—any future. Yes, I was that concerned. Looking back on the whole experience, I was a tad melodramatic.

I won’t share the details of the malady because I’m not quite ready to announce it to the world, but I’ll say this: get annual check-ups. Don’t make excuses as I did about not having any time or not having health insurance or not trusting doctors. Don’t be as stupid as I was because you won’t necessarily be as lucky. If you haven’t had a physical in a long time call your doctor today and make an appointment.

After this health scare, I decided I wanted to change a number of things in my life. You don’t realize how short life is until you’re facing a serious illness. That’s when you want to take stock of everything you’ve done, figure whatever time you might have to do it better, and be happy (seriously, I’m fine).

Changes include a full glass attitude and avoiding the snark (although I still have my moments); I’m looking for ways I can improve my life via nutrition, exercise, but also spiritually.

I’ve become a middle-aged cliché, but wellness has always been a keen interest. But because I’ve been lazy, in good health, or have been in a caretaker position and ignored my needs, it’s never been a priority.

Until now.

I’ve learned during these three months you can’t control outside forces. I know that’s not a grand epiphany but for someone who is a closet perfectionist, control freak, and tends to react to situations that are not within my control this was a revelation. Thus the big takeaway is….respond and not react, and it’s become my motto of late.

When I find myself in that panicky fight or flight mode, I take a deep breath and respond to the predicament. Unlike my former instantaneous reaction of “Oh, CRAP!” Now it’s “Okay, take the time to figure out what you need to do.”

I still have quite a bit to figure out. However this need for an instant resolution can wait until I’ve come up with a feasible response that make sense to everyone, but most of all to me.

So You Want to Learn Scrivener?

February 19, 2015Author comments

Yes, a new five week private class is scheduled and it starts March 2nd. What to expect? Well, here’s a breakdown:

  • A daily tutorial Monday-Friday
  • The lesson should take no more than 60 minutes to read through and do the homework
  • A Scrivener group on Facebook for students who have signed up for the class. Here you can ask more questions, post screenshots, trouble shoot and share organizational writing tips.

Here’s what 25 days of lessons consist:

  • An email with what to expect from the lesson.
  • New for this session: A List of Command Shortcuts for each lesson
  • New for this Session: Weekly Quiz
  • New for this Session: Weekly preview and recap

Week One
Lesson 1: Starting a new project in Scrivener
Lesson 2: The Editor
Lesson 3: The Inspector: Synopsis, General Meta-Data, and Document Panes
Lesson 4: Scrivenings Mode
Lesson 5: The Corkboard

Week Two
Lesson 6: Outliner and Custom Meta-Data
Lesson 7: Split Screen Mode

Lesson 8: Document and Project Notes
Lesson 9: The Scratch Pad
Lesson 10: Customizing Layouts

Week Three

Lesson 11: Composition Mode
Lesson 12: Project Find and Replace
Lesson 13: Document Find and Replace
Lesson 14: Project Targets
Project 15: Project and Text Statistics

Week Four

Lesson 16: Sanpshots
Lesson 17: In Annotations
Lesson 18: Comments
Lesson 19: Collections
Lesson 20: Splitting and Merging Documents

Week Five
Lessons 21-25: Compile

Bonus Week Six
Question and Answer Week

Tuition is $200.00 made payable via PayPal. To sign-up for the class contact me at rebecaschiller425@gmail.com.


The Un-Conference Kitty

November 12, 2014Author comments, Life

Image: AMI Wallpapers

Image: AMI Wallpapers

A week ago I was in Salem, MA, attending the very first Writer UnBoxed UnConference. During the first evening, I sat at a table with a group of people I’ve been online friends for at least three years. We were a motley group from all over the U.S., but also from Australia, Canada, and Spain.

Before the start of the conference, we communicated via the Un-Con page on Facebook. At some point there was an informal poll about introverts and extroverts, and it appeared the conference would be attended by a majority who are shy and reticent by nature.  And yet, I believe many of us fibbed. With the exception of one person out of eighty attendees, we were a boisterous group with enough words spoken to fill pages and pages of books. Now I am dubious when a writer says he or she is an introvert (and I should add that I’m not as aloof as I’ve claimed in the past).

Before leaving for Salem, I was nervous. Skittish I would miss the turn-off to the Mass Pike and end up somewhere in the deep south (I didn’t). Anxious whether my roomie and I would get along for five days (we’ve become friends). Uneasy about the WIP and how long it was taking me to write (so what? There are others in the same situation). These were silly worries, but I had real apprehension about who we are online versus who we are in the actual world of hard knocks.

Eighty writers. Think about it for a minute. Eighty individuals with a knack for observation and eavesdropping. Eighty people who use real settings, real problems, real people for inspiration to craft a story. Eighty artists with opinions about good versus bad writing. Eighty coffee drinkers; eighty imbibers of spirits; eighty neurotics of varying degrees.

I’ve participated in workshops and writing groups in the past—both on and off-line. I stopped attending because many fostered a mean-spirited competitive environment. The first workshop I attended one writer proudly announced she never read a Stephen King book. Her scorn for King and his readers set a nasty tone for the entire workshop, dividing the class into those who read horror and popular fiction versus those who read literary fiction. Did I get anything out of it? Just a $600 hole in my checking account.

In another workshop egos were bundled in neat packages along with the notebooks and sample WIP pages. Cliques formed (the instructor led one); harsh and unconstructive critiques ridiculed both the story and writer felt like those ALS buckets of ice water dumped on you. Another $600 hole in my checking account with the added hurt and humiliation.

Suffice it to say I was nervous about spending so much money for what could  amount to an unstatisfactory experience. The surprise—and a breathtaking one—was all egos where checked at the door. Published authors shared their trials and tribulations about writing, marketing, and frustrations about the industry. Newly agented writers shared their stories of rejections until they landed a prized agent; writers who were struggling to get their stories right commiserated. There was no genre snobbery. We were all united. We were all equals. Our online selves were no different from our offline selves. We were and continue to be genuine, or borrowing Therese Walsh’s term: velveteen.

Therese Walsh, co-founder of Writer Unboxed, The Facebook Writer Unboxed Moderator Team—Vaughn Roycroft, Valerie Chandler, Heather Reid—have nurtured a community of writers where we feel safe. No head or guilt trips; no public shaming. Instead we share our concerns about a competitive business; perservering and continuing to tap away at the keyboard; our insecurites and struggles; our stories. No judgments, but encouragement to keep writing. The same spirit we have online was alive and thrived in Salem.

I have $1000 less in my checking account, and although I didn’t play in the nightly poker games, I feel as if I won the entire kitty.