Life, Personal, writing

Gifts for Indie Authors

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Pic via Pexels

It’s the holiday season and everyone has their list of wants. Knowing that many indie authors are living on a shoestring budget, I knew those: “What to get a Writer for the Holidays” articles just won’t do.  Let’s be honest, many of them are silly and rather unrealistic. I mean, who wants a $25 t-shirt with literary quotes that will just wear out in 6 months? I don’t. Besides, you could get some pretty sweet stuff that can help with your writing career for that same amount.

I’ve considered the problems the typical indie author has like; social media, cover design, and proof reading, so I went on a mission to find things that could make our lives better.

P.S. I am in no way affiliated with the companies or products mentioned.

Anti-Social Media Software

Social media is a big problem for a lot of authors because it often becomes a time suck. For years your solutions were either to unplug your modem or disable the wifi on your computer. But what if you’re a writer who needs to do research and interview people online? Disconnecting from the entire internet is irrational. Luckily, there is now software you can download that will temporarily block social media sites and other places you like to linger and it won’t cost a lot of money. Here are just a few of places to check out:

Freedom: This software is for both Windows and OS operating systems and can block up to 8 hrs at a time and only costs $10. There is a free trial version and a 60 money back guarantee.

Anti-Social: Anti-Social is an app that allows you to block websites that you find distracting for $15. However unlike Freedom, it cannot be turned off, which is supposed to keep you honest. Also, Anti-Social has a 60 day money back guarantee. It also works with Windows, and Mac including, Yosemite.

Stay Focused:  is an app on Google Chrome which limits the amount of time you spend on social media.  You can set it up yourself so that you only spend a specific amount of time on social media per day.  It gives you a countdown to let you know when you’re running out of time.  P.S. You’ll be asked to donate $15 once you’ve downloaded the app from the Google Chrome store.

Focus Writer: Focus Writer isn’t necessarily an anti-social media piece of software but I’m including it anyway because it gets rid of all distractions on your computer by clearing your screen so you can focus on just your writing. It has all kinds of features like; a daily word count, type writer sound effects, even timers and alarms. This one is a pay what you can type model and runs $5 – $20.

Art/Photo Editing

Many indie authors like to create their own book covers and that’s awesome, I know a lot of indies who are actually talented in this area. Many of them use PhotoShop or InDesign by Adobe but I found their new cloud service too buggy.  I was also disappointed with their customer service which comprised of a FAQ page with little or vague information.  However, if you’ve drank the Adobe Kool-Aid and love it, they have a monthly subscription service that costs $19.99 for just one app, or $29.99 for all the apps.  Be warned though, you can cancel after 30 days but after that, you’re locked in for a year.

Don’t worry, there are many other types of software out there that are similar or even better than Adobe and they won’t cost you $359.88 annually.

Pixlr is a free online photo editor that is similar to Adobe Photoshop. I’ve used it myself to edit photos for social media and this blog.

Sumo Paint is another PhotoShop like photo editor that has a free and paid subscription service.  The paid service includes cloud storage, new tools and updated apps which cost only $4 a month.  Not a bad deal either way, but try the free version first before committing to the subscription.

Scribus  is often called the free alternative to Adobe InDesign which tons of professional graphic designers use to create digital magazines, web pages, and yes, even ebook covers.

Corel PaintShop If you must have software installed on your computer, there is Corel PaintShop. It’s often compared to PhotoShop and runs around $39.00 – $49.00 on Amazon. *Warning* They do have a popup ads which is why it’s so cheap.

Grammar/Proofreading Software

I’ll admit it, I make plenty of grammar mistakes, and sometimes that hurts my work. I mean, who will take a writer seriously if they’re constantly screwing up? But have no fear, there is software that can check your work much better than MS Word and some of them are cheaper.

White Smoke
White Smoke has advance grammar, punctuation and even alerts you to repetition. They have a basic monthly subscription of $9.95 and a lifetime premium subscription of $299.99 (flat fee).

Grammarly
Grammarly is an online program that checks for misspellings plagiarism, and misused words. They have a free trial if you’re interested. If you end up loving it, it’s $29.95 a month, $19.98 quarterly, and $11.66 a month for year subscription.

Right Writer (CD)
Right Writer is another piece of software that comes in CD ROM and offers grammar, punctuation, with syntax checker. It also comes with a free video grammar course and it all costs only $29.95 not including, shipping of course.

Well there you go, some gifts indie authors need and actually want. If you know of any more useful services for authors tell me about them in the comments section.

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Inspiration, Life, Personal, writing

An Indie Author’s Serenity Prayer

The past few months have been rather crazy for me, so I decided to offer up this prayer.  You can share it if you like.

 

Oh Lord, grant me the serenity to accept the bad reviews I cannot change
Courage to look at the sales graph and the wisdom to know that success never comes easy
Lord bestow upon me the sanity to write one book at a time and humility to accept editorial changes
Don’t forget to light the pathway to my desk with guardian angels who vanquish telemarketers, needy family members and those wishing to raid the candy stash
Bless me Lord with an abundance of caffeine to help me rise in the morning and to carry on through the night
Also help me to know that this is a journey and things will only happen when they are meant to be

 

The Indie Author's Serenity Prayer
Pic via Pexels

 

Life

Why I Still Apologize to My Parents for Being a Writer

Writing Books
Photo by Dullhunk via Flickr

Occasionally, I am forced to question my life and all the decisions I’ve ever made and after reading this disappointing article about the plight of authors in the U.K., I was ready to throw in the towel.  I’m just not cut out to be the next James Patterson or J.K. Rowling, I can’t mass produce (or pretend to mass produce in the case of James) books.  Noticing I was having a crisis, my mother did what any reasonable person would, she encouraged me to call my aunt who was an H.R. specialist about any openings at her company.  See, problem solved.

Just the idea of lying, I mean, exaggerating my way through another interview was not an option.  My last job interview ended in disaster, when I was asked by the HR manager what my dream job was, and I answered: writer.  P.S.  I was applying for an admin job.

Instead of arguing with my parents, I have learned to just apologize.  It saves time.  Here are just some of the things I have to apologize for…

Reason #1:  I Walked Away from a Good Okay Job

I’ll never forget the look on everyone’s face when I announced I was going to be a writer.  The forced smiles and the crack in my mother’s voice when she asked, “So who you gonna write for?”  When I told them I was going to start freelancing, those smiles became even more strained.

You see, when I was 17, I thought I wanted to write and even took a few adult writing classes but was told it was impossible to make a living as an author.  So, after high school, I took computer classes (to everyone’s relief) and learned everything you could about Microsoft products.

P.S. I never bothered showing up on graduation day.

P.S.S. I still couldn’t find work even with my new skills. Apparently, you need to have 5 years of experience to get an entry level job.  Funny, they never mentioned that in school!

I wound up getting a crappy office job making $1 more than the people at McDonald’s.  Whenever I would complain, my dad would say, “Well, it’s better than nothing!”  But in actuality, if I had just crunched the numbers, I would have discovered that I’d been better off on unemployment.  At least then, I could’ve had 24hrs I needed to build my business and would’ve been paid by the government to do it!

Reason #2:  I Can’t Even Sell My Own Book!

Not long ago, I found myself telling someone not to buy my book even though that person was my target audience.  Keep in mind, I’ve created online ads, done book tours, and even did interviews but I just can’t bring myself to scream, “Buy my book!” at unsuspecting people like a crazy old bag lady.

Reason 3:  I’ll Probably End up on Government Assistance 

Recently, on Facebook the question was asked, “What one piece of advice do you wish someone had shared with you before you started to write?”  Answers included things like:

1.     “Don’t do it for the money”

2.     “Run!”

3.     “Don’t quit your day job”

4.     “Have a backup plan career wise.”

Notice how it was all money related?  Even authors who were doing well decades ago, are having a hard time making money these days.  With no advances, small royalties, and no control, traditional publishing is becoming an impossible environment.  Back in the day, authors were selected and groomed for the industry but now, I face the same mentality I did during the recession, which is: “What have you done (sold) already?”

Reason #4:  I Talk Like I’m Crazy!

This past summer I was interviewed on a podcast where we discussed character development and intuitive writing.  The host asked, “Did you ever have one of your characters just take over?”  Me being me, answered, “Of course, sometimes I have to fight with them.”

Yeah, nobody will use that one against me in a mental competency trial!

In Closing…

There’s plenty more I need to apologize for like blogging when I should be working on my novel.  However, the fact of the matter is, I’m not sorry, never was.  If this turns out to be some silly pipe dream then I’m okay with it.  The biggest crime any dreamer can commit is wasting time, whether it be in a cubicle in corporate America, or in relationship that’s long dead.  Forbes did an article called 25 Biggest Regrets in Life and most of the people surveyed regretted not trying things that really matter to them.

Granted, no one wants be Don Quixote who comically fought the windmill, but don’t forget, he originally set out to restore chivalry.  Yearning for the days of knights, damsels and dragons he left it all behind to search for something he felt was lost.  And like Don Quixote, we all long to be something more, right?

So back to you, what are you apologizing for?

Life

Happy 2014! Enjoy Some Laughs & Inspiration

Life, Personal

Words of Encouragement

I get bombarded with memes on Facebook all the time but this one struck me.  As I’ve been reconsidering my career path and wondering what if?  This spoke volumes to me and I wanted to share it with all you beautiful spirits out there.

Happy New Year! ~Rachel Rueben

Inspiration, Motivation, Advice