for the Writers

13 tools for editing your book

As I began editing my story, I asked a bunch of writers – either that I personally know or through Facebook writers groups – what tools they use when editing their book.

I was shocked that most didn’t have a plan or a tool…they just wing it!

I’m sure most of us would like a plan of attack. And so I give you:

Tools to edit your book

Best part: Most of these are free!

Disclaimer: I have not used most of these. This is what either other authors have recommended to me or I have found through extensive googling.  But they look great! Take what you can use and make your plan of attack. Less willy nilly…but don’t ditch the willy nilly….We all need that too 😉

 

1) Microsoft Word shortcuts – <3 My favvie!

This writer was thoughtful enough to list out each step of her editing process and all the shortcuts or steps she takes in Word to find and fix these common errors. This is the most practical item I’ve found in my search. Use it!

2) 25 editing tips – checklist

Woohoo, I love checklists. I know where to start, what to do, and when I’m finished 🙂

3 & 4) Developmental edits – list of questions here or here

These are called checklists, but more like a list of questions to ask as you edit. Includes questions on plot, character, dialogue, style, etc. Very thorough, so if you want to catch every nuance, this is the list for you. I think I’d read my manuscript 50 times to catch all these questions haha 🙂

5) Proofreading checklist – PDF

I list editing software below, but you want to check things yourself too. For readability, grammar, punctuation, spelling – here’s that checklist.

6) Natural Reader – text to speech

Does not require download, just copy and paste your words into the website to hear your story read to you – a great way to catch errors you might accidentally gloss over if you read it silently. It’s bold claim is that it reads it in a “natural” voice, hence Natural Reader.

Also available as a free download to read from PDFs, Word, and offline.

Paid version with more features also available.

7) Readable – readability grades

Free, with premium paid version also available. Copy and paste text in, then see various grade levels on the right. Also notes adverbs, passive voice, cliches, and lengthy sentences and words.

8) Hemingway app – readability and editing

Copy and paste into the website to see grade level for readability, adverbs, passive voice, and hard to read passages. Best part: all these are color-coded 🙂 Note: in my brief test-run, spelling errors got the squiggly like Word, but punctuation errors weren’t mentioned.

9) Text Analyzer – see which words you over-use

Do you constantly say everything is “glorious” in your novel? I mean, it’s a glorious word, but you don’t want to over-use it. Copy and paste your text into this website to see which words and phrases are most common in your story. Obviously “the” and “and” and major character names will be prominent, but what else do you say that may be too much?

10) Ginger – editing software & text to speech

Just download it to your device. It’ll check spelling, grammar, and more. As far as I can tell, it’s free.

11) Grammarly – editing software

This is more popular than Ginger, at least in my circle. Whether that means it’s better or not, I can’t say. This is also a free software download.

 



*The below cost money but were recommended to me by other writers. You might want to check them out 🙂 *

12) ProWriting Aid – editing software

Free version for up to 500 words at a time. Annual cost of $40-45 if you want to edit more than that at a time.

13) EDITS System – lecture

Costs $22. Lets you know what you need to edit where.


Have any recommendations of your own? Comment below with what tools, tips, or tricks help you tackle book editing 🙂

 

Fashion, My Creative Projects

Superhero divas need a cape

Unless you’re in the Incredibles of course 🙂

When my sister said it was superhero day for my Lil Niece (world, meet niece 1 of 3), it was way past halloween and she was just going to drop by the store and look for a cape the night before. Of course they don’t have a pink batman cape readily available year-round.

Auntie to the rescue! …see, some superheroes don’t wear capes 🙂 hehe.

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We found the following quite quickly:

  • shimmery pink cloth
  • a batman birthday card with a huge batman symbol to stencil
  • fabric glue (I’m not much of a seamstress)
  • black fabric paint

Then it was just a night of cutting, gluing the seams, and painting the batman symbol. Now Lil Niece is off to the rescue!

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She didn’t win for best costume because some girl wore a cop costume and said her daddy was her superhero (yeah, sweet, cheesy, and heroic, but not superheroism…mehh…) Still Lil Niece won life with a determined mama, creative auntie, and rockin’ diva cape!  She swooped around the house to save the day and loved her cape. And I have leftover material to make a matching one for Baby Niece when she gets older. Squeal! 🙂

I love finding a creative solution in everyday life. I’m no seamstress, I’m no painter, but it doesn’t turn out bad if you try.

 

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Relationships

Practical tips for a long-distance relationship

Here’s some tips from my experience with LDR. This is how we survive the distance, things we probably wouldn’t use or do if we lived closeby.

Apps that go the distance:

  • Couple – track anniversaries, draw artwork together even when apart, “thumb kiss” where both phones vibrate when your thumbs touch the same place on your phone screen
  • Final Countdown (Apple or Android) – count down to the day you see each other again
  • Glympse – track their location as they drive to meet up with you

 

Gifts that go the distance:

  • A notebook – Josh got us a notebook last Christmas! I document our life for a few weeks and what we do together & apart, and when we see each other he takes it and has his turn. It’s neat to have it all documented. Maybe don’t bring the notebook on your first date though 😉 wait a bit haha.
  • Travel-size of your cologne/perfume – once again, this is not a first date thing. But it’s nice to spray a pillow or hoodie with your S/O scent when you can’t have them around 🙂
  • Audiobooks or comedy CD’s – for the long commutes
  • Extra car chargers, bluetooth speaker, essential oil car diffuser – anything to make the car a little more ready for that roadtrip
  • Suitcase – because I’m tired of stuffing 3 duffle bags with all my luggage

 

Finally, a reminder that goes the distance:

The long-distance is difficult to the extent that the significant other is so great. It’s one of those mathematical correlation things. See, I put it in graph form so it must be true:

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So take heart! If it’s difficult to be apart for long periods of time, that probably means you’re in a great relationship 🙂

 

Bonus tidbit: I wouldn’t have these ideas without my long-distance boyfriend of course, so I asked him what his tip would be. Answer: “Communicate alot. Talk alot when you’re apart.” We couldn’t decide if that makes it easier to be apart haha, but we definitely agreed it keeps the relationship strong while we’re apart. So do that! 🙂

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Fashion, My Creative Projects

Crafting help? Ideas for how to fix this jacket?

I found this at a thrift shop and couldn’t just pass it by. But it has obvious probz. Wanted to reach out to you creative souls and brainstorm a fix 🙂

Difficult to see in the pictures, but there’s been some sort of dye spill (the color shows up purple, but it looks like it came from the color of blue ink from an ink pen) that spilled on it. Any ideas how to dye the entire jacket that color without a huge mess? Or to hide the ink spill?  I’d love to craft this into something wearable again, so throw out ALL your ideas in the comments, please!

Note: the problem areas include lower back, chest and waist, armpits, and sleeves. Basicly splotches throughout.

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Fashion, My Creative Projects

My Christmas tree guards the gifts

I don’t need an Elf on a Shelf. My Christmas tree is my own gift guard, and she makes less of a mess. Meet Delilah. You can see her adventures (or misadventures) on my facebook and twitter under #DelilahTales. delilahtree

 

Delilah’s Christmas tree outfit didn’t just happen. Last year I had a test case (that turned out gorgeous!) and wrote a post on how you can make your own Christmas tree dress form too. This year, Delilah decorated herself, as you can see by the string of lights in her hand. (Yes, this is my cop-out – since it’s not the fanciest tree yet, she gets the credit 😉 ).

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Maybe next year I’ll get better and have it more elegant. Maybe next year I’ll find some way to make the skirt cover all her legs to be more tree-like. But for now, I’m so proud of my tree. Talk about a conversation piece! 🙂

If you want your own conversation piece, maybe see how I made mine and get started on your own. Then comment and let me know what you came up with!

Already have a creative tree? Why don’t you share in the comments? I’d love to see other creative holiday decor!

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Faith

How to Break Up with your Church

 
I have been on the giving and receiving end of a “church break-up.” I would even say I’ve probably been a part of the cause of a “church break-up.” I don’t have all the answers, but I do have some good and not-so-good experiences to pull from.
 
This isn’t going to cover if/when you should break up with your church. There are plenty of articles on that you can look up if you’re not sure. Once you’ve decided to break up with your church though, here’s some recommended steps. This of course doesn’t apply to every situation and every community, but hopefully this will give you some steps in the right direction.
 
 

Step 1: Tell Church Leadership Why & When

 
Depending on the size of the church and your involvement, this may or not be the pastor. If this is a mega-church where you’ve never spoken to the pastor in your life, you may not want/need to take that step.
 

  • What leader knows you by name?
  • What leader will notice your absence?
  • This person may be the pastor, pastor’s wife, small-group leader, and/or the head of a department you volunteer with

 
Arrange a time to meet individually and explain your departure – the why and when.
 
 

Step 2: Tell the Pastor Any Grievances Against the Church (if applicable)

 
Really I hope your reason for leaving is because of some exciting new adventure awaiting and no hard feelings, but that is of course not always the case.
 
This part is never easy. I would hope you have already discussed with church leadership any problems you may have with the church. But if you haven’t, you definitely need to. This isn’t time for accusations – it’s time to make them aware of anything driving committed members away.
 
Here’s the most important part: Don’t just tell the leader from step 1. You should tell the pastor, if not in person then at least via letter. A pastor really will want to be aware of any negative experiences the church has played a role in. No one is perfect, no church is perfect, and church leadership wants to be aware of the atmosphere and address major issues.
 
 

Step 3: Tell Your Church Friends at least the Basics

 
I have seen firsthand the pain of hearing through the grapevine that someone left the church. This is a simple step, almost forgettable, which I think is mostly how it happens. Sure you probably won’t tell everyone, but think ahead about who you will tell. 
 

Don’t let your friends be left in the lurch, just finding you gone one Sunday and everyone knows but them. Tell anyone you consider yourself close to. Don’t ghost your friends.

 

 

What do you think?

I’m not church leadership, so I’m sure there’s a different perspective there. And really, I’m sure there’s a different perspective from many church-goers, so what are your steps to breaking up with a church? Comment below to let me know 🙂

 

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for the Creatives, for the Writers, Showcasing other Creatives

Lessons from a 6-Year-Old Blogger

That’s right, there’s a 6-year-old in the blogosphere. Check out ghostinthecloset.wordpress.com for the kid’s writing. I read every single post. And there’s alot you can learn from a 6-year-old.

  1. It’s okay to have an incentive…this kid is in it for a Kindle.
  2. Keep it simple, short and snappy…it doesn’t have to be long and eloquent to keep someone’s attention.
  3. You can write about your life…Don’t know what to blog about? What’d ya do today? What’d ya like? What got ya thinkin? What ya up to? Seriously, just blog.
  4. Don’t sweat the small stuff…grammar/spelling errors? No biggie, just write!
  5. It takes others…The kid isn’t all on his lonesome. His mom helps, she blogs herself, she encourages, she is of course offering the incentive Kindle. He’s not doing this alone. We can’t either.

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Musings

5 Ways to Cut Watermelon

This is what happens when you ask a writer a random question.

 
 

Prep Work

 
Bags. Lots of bags. A cutting board won’t cut it (hahaha. ha. Moving on) because the watermelon as at least twice the size. If you’re as clumsy as me, you’ll want to cover the entire counter, but even the most precise foodies will need to cover a bunch of space. I use grocery bags, because there’s less wash. Just splatter then pitch.
 
 

Option 1: The Preferred Cut

 
Have your boyfriend cut the watermelon for you. Or spouse, roomie, mother, sister, random stranger passing by. Because let’s be real: eating watermelon is one of the most refreshing delightful things in life, but cutting the watermelon is practically torture, taunting you with the effort required to get to the delightful part.
 
 

Option 2: The Precision Cut

 
Are you very precise? This is the shortcut for you. Are you like me, just kinda follow the gist of directions? This cut will leave you frustrated beyond measure….Do Not Attempt!

  1. Cut the watermelon in half.
  2. Cut the sides almost all the way through.
  3. Cut a circle to separate the rind from the food.
  4. Cut a grid in the watermelon.
  5. Dump in bowl.

 

You can watch this video for a demonstration.

 

What was my struggle with this cut? I didn’t cut through the sides far enough and ended up with this:

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Option 3: The Davinci Cut

This is my cut of choice if I am personally responsible for slicing watermelon for a gathering. In regards to creating the sculpture of David, Davinci said he “just cut everything away that wasn’t David.”

I’m not quite on par with Davinci, but this is the kids version: cut away everything that isn’t red.

  1. Cut the watermelon in half.
  2. Flip the half to where all you see is green. Cut the rind away one piece at a time.
  3. Cut grids in the block of watermelon left.

You can watch a video demonstration here.

 
 

Option 4: The Foodie Cut

 

Hungry? Here’s the cut for you!

 

  1. Cut the watermelon in half. (The wide way is preferred.)

 

The end. You now have a bowl of watermelon for you plus a bowl of watermelon for a friend.

 

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Option 5: The Sloppy Cut

 

Not quite THAT hungry? Here’s a quick cut for when you want a bowl of watermelon for you, in an actual bowl.

 

  1. Cut the watermelon in half.
  2. Use a spoon to scoop all the watermelon into a bowl.

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Finishing Up

Eat, eat, eat!!!! Oh and don’t forget to wipe up the sticky counter. And maybe mop the floor. Depends on how clumsy you are.
 
 

How do you cut watermelon? What’s your favorite cut? Share your ideas below, maybe I’ll try some of them out next time 🙂 

 

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Faith, for the Bookworms, Showcasing other Creatives

5 Books for Christian Artists

Being an artist is difficult. Adding Christian to that title puts a whole other spin on things. Here’s 5 Christian books I recommend for artists.

 

To build your artist brand:51fn4UIx9kL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_
“Crafting Your Brand”

Matt Tommey

This book is perfect for anyone looking to make their art a business. Branding is especially big right now, even though it’s been around forever. Matt Tommey’s book introduces readers to the basics of branding, while also tackling some of the lies we believe about creativity clashing with business.

 

 

 

To study artists in Scripture & apply to your life:
“Unlocking the Heart of the Artist” 51GfacF2pPL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_
Matt Tommey

 

Every artist should read this book. Every artist! This book studies the origins of artistry in the Bible and presents the lies (and truths!) that are prominent in that. Find your place in the Kingdom with chapters on community, prophetic voice, spiritual discipline, and co-laboring with God.

 

 

 

 

To find your life calling:512Q3lH0uqL._SX335_BO1,204,203,200_
“Chazown”
Craig Groeschel

For those artists (and non-artists) who are still unsure what their calling is in life, Craig Groeschel’s book has a very practical approach to discovering it through looking at your gifts, values, and experiences. Once you pin down your vision and calling, there’s still a bulk of chapters on next steps and living it out. Don’t miss this book!

 

 

 

To get a second chance at your career:51KE+8bOHwL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_
“Do-Over”
Jon Acuff

Jon Acuff’s Do-Over is perfect for those who feel they’re stuck in a rut, not moving forward with their dream. Maybe you’re an artist on the side with a day-job that drains the life out of you. Maybe you’re living what you thought your dream was and it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. Whatever the case, Do Over gives you the chance to do just that – call “Do Over” and start your dream anew. Acuff gives the tools to get you right where you want to be and start living life with your dream at the center.

 

 

To conquer your artistic vices: 51g2xDQtM6L._SX327_BO1,204,203,200_
“The Heart of the Artist”
Rory Noland

Not to be confused with Matt Tommey’s book, Rory Noland also wrote a book about the Heart of the Artist. This one centers on the character struggles that artists tend to face – Perfectionism, Poorly Handling Criticism, Jealousy, Overly Emotional, and the like. There’s also an excellent chapter on how to Lead Artists, because we are a difficult to finagle bunch, ha! Excellent book for any ministry team or any artist individually to work through.

Fashion, for the Creatives

Creative Fashion on an Artist’s Budget

Maybe you’re a writer. Or painter. Or dancer. Or card maker, flower arranger, or really any type of creative soul. Now it’s time to look the part.

One thing about artists, they know how to pick their wardrobe. It’s not boring. It’s rambunctious. Daring. Eclectic. Bold patterns, bright colors, varying styles.

(Side note: Maybe you’re one of the creatives that wear the same clothes every day. This blogpost, not about you. Sorry. Try here instead.)

You know why I am against wearing the same clothes every day, despite the claim that it increases decisive behavior the rest of the day? Because creativity needs an outlet, every day. Starting the day with creativity of a fun outfit, it’s life-giving. Being that spark of creativity in the world, it’s life-giving. The world needs creativity, and you need creativity, and this is just one way to have fun with your inner artist.

Here’s some ways I make my own eclectic wardrobe – maybe it will spark some ideas for your own closet 🙂

  1. The Secret Behind My Wardrobe

    Noo, it’s not Narnia (unfortunately.)

    A friend once asked me what stores I shop at, and my secret almost popped out: “I don’t buy clothes.” What?! I hadn’t realized until that moment, but it’s true.

    You see, I couldn’t have my fairytale wardrobe without my fairygodmother friends who pass clothes my way anytime they’re done with them. Dear Kim, of the “Geeks Rule Others Drool” blogsite, keeps my closet fresh (along with sporadic donations from other friends.)

    The truth is, many of my favorite pieces were a blessing I wasn’t expecting. I do shop for clothes (more on that later), but so much of it is actually the generosity of others. My modern patronage system – they give me clothes so I am inspired to write 😉

    Often even when I do shop, my mom has given me a pile of coupons to make everything free or near-free.

    What About You? 
    Maybe you buy clothes. Maybe you don’t have a friend or family member dumping fun clothes in your lap.

    Do you have a friend getting rid of stuff? It doesn’t hurt to ask if you can snag some before the trash or Goodwill or whatever. (Okay, some friends it would hurt. Sometimes it’s just weird to ask a friend if you can have their clothes. I get it.)

    But who are your secret patrons? Who supports your work in tangible or intangible ways? Maybe you get food from a friend’s garden or your couch came from a family member who was pitching it. You may find you have a supporter in an unlikely place, even if it’s not in regards to fashion – sighhhh 🙂

  2. Where to Shop

Besides raiding friends’ and family wardrobes, the answer to most all your problems is at rummage sales and clearance racks of cheaper stores. Trust me on this.

Disagree? “But name-brand quality pricey items last longer. I’m saving money by going to pricier stores.”

Do you hear your hypothetical self? You want to spend a buttload of money on a top so you can wear it for the rest of your life? No. The way to go, buy a cheap top that will wear out in a couple years – then you still have plenty of money to buy a new fun top, because you know what? By a couple of years, you’re ready for something new. Save yourself the problem of “having nothing to wear” with no money because it was spent on a closet full of name-brand items that just won’t wear out already!

There’s my two top tips for watching your budget with an eclectic wardrobe. Friends’ clothes and clearance racks. The leftover scraps and rejects of clothes, those are the funky pieces you need to liven your fashion! There’s just something poetic about it, don’t ya think? 🙂

My next fashion post will be on how to stretch your fashion sense to include more funky pieces – Lord knows I didn’t start with my wacky style! But it’s fun, I promise, and I’ll give you more secrets to get there yourself 🙂 Until then, start looking at reject clothes for your style.

Psst! I go through clothes so fast I don’t know what to do with it. No wait, I do! I pass it on to you – you can shop my closet on PoshMark. Use my friend registration code – AmyLSauder – for $5 off your 1st purchase from any closet. 

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