#NetNet: Free ghost book drawing by midnight tonight! Plus The Night Cafe & a newsreel treasure trove. Happy Easter weekend.

A short ‘NetNet this week (which is better than none, right?) I seem to have injured my right wrist / forearm and working on the computer, and scrolling in particular HURTS. I’m pretty much taking a few days away from the PC. Happy Easter weekend everybody.

-R

DON’T FORGET TO ENTER TO WIN A FREE  DIGITAL BOOK, OR AUTOGRAPHED PAPERBACK, BY HUNTER SHEA . YOUR DEADLINE IS 11:59pm TONIGHT

hunter give away badge with glow

The tour has been going well, form what I can see.  To find links to all the tour’s stops, visit Hunter’s launch post at his website, huntershea.com.

the-waiting-shea-tour-

 

In order to enter the drawing, please click below to be taken to The Paranormalist Portal.

Once there, you will find a widget that allows you to earn chances (think of them as raffle tickets) by completing simple actions that will support Hunter. Tasks that can earn entries for you range from following him on Twitter to purchasing and reviewing any of his books. (THAT sort of behavior, will get you multiple entries, of course :))

Once you’re done there, there will be an easy link to come back here, so you can continue reading this week’s NetNet.

CLICK TO GO TO THE PARANORMALIST PORTAL

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GET SWEPT UP IN MUSINGS ON VAN GOGH & HEMMINGWAY

Ray has been participating in an A-Z challenge over at his place, and has chosen the theme of art. I’ve enjoyed the whole series so far, and learned a fair bit. This is my my favorite so far:

the night cafe

 

From Ray Yanek at Writing the Rails: N is for … (the Night Cafe)

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SPEND THE WEEKEND HUNTING FOR NEWSREEL TREASURES

British Pathé, has uploaded 85,000 historic films to YouTube. Read more about the project at The Telegraph.


The folks over at Mysterious Times brought this to my attention. If you aren’t subscribed to this site that frequently shares historical and paranormal links and tidbits, you ought to be.

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There is no way I’m going to capture every great thing that happens in my personal web, let alone on the wider internet. The posts I feature here just happened to catch my eye. They resonated with me and whatever is going on in my life right now. And they are worth sharing.

‘NetNet

#NetNet

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‘NetNet: Book give-away of THE WAITING – an inspired-by-true-ghost-story, Vampira, scary (very) short films, the Yankee Pedlar Inn, Sherlock Holmes, and a mystery vending machine.

ENTER A SPECIAL DRAWING FOR A FREE  DIGITAL BOOK, OR AUTOGRAPHED PAPERBACK, BY HUNTER SHEA

hunter give away badge with glow

I’m honored to be kicking off the virtual book tour for a favored author and stalking victim, Hunter Shea. At the end of the month, he and I will be doing an interview in which we’ll discuss his latest novella, THE WAITING, and how it was inspired by a true-life haunting.

It will be my first interview, and this is the first time I’m participating in a book tour, so I hope you’ll all be patient and supportive.

I have every intention of asking him probing questions about how THE WAITING and the true events relate, so it would be best if you all have read the novella by the time of the interview. (I suspect there may be spoilers.) I’ll have the actual drawing on midnight of the 20th, so that the winners of THE WAITING will have time to read it … and the rest of you will have time to buy it AND read it, if you want, to get all you can out of the interview.

NOTE: The book tour, as a whole, has a rafflecopter give-away going too … for the same set of prizes that I’m offering, but don’t be confused! There are TWO rafflecopters and one of them (accessible below) is just for The Paranormalist readers. To maximize your chances, you may want to visit some of  the other stops on the blog tour and enter into that rafflecopter too. To find links to all the tour’s stops, visit Hunter’s launch post at his website, huntershea.com.

the-waiting-shea-tour-

Yes, I am spoiled. Either that or Hunter fears likes me.

In addition to TWO digital downloads of THE WAITING, I’ll be giving away one autographed paperback copy of my favorite Hunter Shea novel (so far) SINISTER ENTITY, which is a new and interesting spin on the concept of dopplegangers.

book shea sinister entity

Click to see Amazon listing.

 In order to enter the drawing, please click below to be taken to The Paranormalist Portal.

Once there, you will find a widget that allows you to earn chances (think of them as raffle tickets) by completing simple actions that will support Hunter. Tasks that can earn entries for you range from following him on Twitter to purchasing and reviewing any of his books. (THAT sort of behavior, will get you multiple entries, of course :))

Once you’re done there, there will be an easy link to come back here, so you can continue reading this week’s NetNet.

CLICK TO GO TO THE PARANORMALIST PORTAL

*****

LEARN ABOUT THE ORIGINAL VAMPIRA

From Eva at The Year of  Halloween20th Century Glamour Ghoul: Honoring Maila Nurmi’s Vampira

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VIEW AN EXPERTLY CURATED SET OF SCARY SHORT VIDEOS

From Meagan at Halloween Girl: Horror short round up

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VISIT THE YANKEE PEDDLER INN (SETTING OF THE MOVIE ‘THE INNKEEPERS”)

peddler inn lobby

 

From Taylor & Dean at Haunted World: Yankee Pedlar Inn (Torrington, CT)

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DREAM OF OWNING A VERY SPECIAL VENDING MACHINE

mystery coke machine

From Mark at Mark My WordsThe Mystery Coke Machine

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GET PRIMED FOR A SERIES OF EXAMINATIONS OF THE SHERLOCK HOLMES PHENOMENA, FROM AN EXPERT

holmes-basil-rathbone

From TimPrasil, Inventor of Persons: In the Shadow of Rathbone: An Introduction

*****

There is no way I’m going to capture every great thing that happens in my personal web, let alone on the wider internet. The posts I feature here just happened to catch my eye. They resonated with me and whatever is going on in my life right now. And they are worth sharing.

‘NetNet

#NetNet

*****


Resolution Review | Manage your editorial calendar (and your life) for free, with MyToDos.

NOTE: WordPress.ORG bloggers apparently have access to an integrated free editorial calendar, but we dot-com-ers don’t. For us, there are plenty of paid options out there, but most are either geared toward a writing team, or expensive, or both. (And when I say expensive, I mean it. I would have been happy to pay a reasonable one-time price for a program with the features I wanted, but these puppies have high monthly fees I can’t afford.)

WHY YOU NEED AN EDITORIAL CALENDAR

An editorial calendar is used by bloggers, publishers, businesses, and groups to control publication of content across different media, for example, newspaper, magazine, blog, email newsletters, and social media outlets. — Wikipedia

Anyone who wants to be  an organized, successful, productive writer (and/or blogger) needs a decent editorial calendar. Bloggers need to plan content schedules. Authors need to track deadlines.  All writers need a system for keeping track of all the ideas that flit into their minds … because those beauties will flit right back out if they aren’t captured.

Unfortunately some of the best ideas for future blogs, stories or scenes appear precisely when it is least convenient to pin then down, when we are supposed to be fully engaged with the project at hand. In that situation, we open a notepad document or, worse, grab a scrap of paper to make a quick note. ‘Sounds fine, but it doesn’t work well in practice. Such notes get misfiled or go missing with alarming frequency, and we might as well have not had the brilliant thought in the first place.

WHY GOOGLE CALENDAR DOESN’T WORK FOR COLLECTING IDEAS

Even before I knew what an editorial calendar was, I was cobbling together the functionality of one from documents stored in Gmail or on Evernote and my Google Calendar.

I have been using Google calendar for years, to keep track of what’s going on with my family. Every member has access to it, and that means that idea notations are distracting clutter for everyone, including me. (Hey, you want that kind of calendar to tell you quickly who has to be at work or school and when, not that Mom might-maybe write about black-eyed children this month.)

In Google Calendar, there is a function to see a single calendar category, but after using that you have to click all the individual calendar categories, one at a time, to make them visible again. That’s a pain. Plus, it insists that you allot a particular date and time to a task, which doesn’t work for capturing ideas for future blog posts or short stories. I believe Google Calendar has made at least a token effort at creating a tasks section but it focuses on the accepted wisdom that a task must be given a particular due date … which isn’t quite what we need when we’re generating a list of future possibilities.

WHY LISTS DON’T WORK FOR PLANNING YOUR POSTING OR WRITING SCHEDULE

Until I found MyToDos, I used first Gmail, then Evernote to try to create organized lists of future posts. The problem there is that I shift things around ALL THE TIME. On a day that I intended to write about a horror-themed video game, I chose instead to write about Richard Matheson … and because it’s my blog, that was okay.

It mat not be hard to change the order in a list, but it’s really easy for listed items to become disassociated from dates, themes and schedules when you have to look back and forth between a calendar program and a list document.

WHY MYTODOS IS THE PERFECT FREE PROGRAM FOR BUILDING YOUR EDITORIAL CALENDAR

mytodos instructions free editorial calendar

From the site. Click to enlarge.

Even though MyToDos does not bill itself as an editorial calendar, it might as well have been designed to be one. The key is its emphasis on the TASKS rather than the dates. All tasks are entered into a project list. From there, they can be dragged to the calendar or to another project list. You can have an unlimited number of project lists, but only four of them show at any given time in the main view–

You know what? The easiest way to demonstrate the awesomeness of this program is to show you.

**Renae wanders off on a quest to learn how to do a screen capture video. Some time later, she returns with the goods.**

This video will give you an overview of the program:

NOTE, NEXT DAY: I intended to do a second video today, to show some of the tips and tricks I’ve learned from using the MyToDos program over time. Unfortunately, the screen capture program I used to make last night’s video seems to have become a useless brick overnight. (Does anyone know why CamStudio would work great the first time it’s used but then not at all on the second attempt? Is it a glitch or something?)

ANYWAY …

If I can figure out how to use MyToDos as an effective editorial calendar, you can.

There isn’t a lot of documentation on the site, but working with MyToDos is genuinely intuitive. As with any software, you need to learn to work within the confines of the program. In the case of MyToDos, it’s helpful to have a game plan ready as you go in, to help you find tasks easily in what may become long lists.

  • Carefully think about how to create a logical set of project lists. Refine as needed.
  • Don’t be afraid to make many project lists. It’s easy to combine or condense later.
  • REMEMBER that MyToDos sorts all items in a given list numerically and alphabetically.
  • To have numbered items appear in the correct order, use a two or three digit (as needed) notation, like this: not 1,2,3…8,9,10 but 01,02,03…08,09,10 – otherwise, 10 will sort ABOVE 2.
  • Use prefix codes to keep similar items together. I preface all my future Body Preservation posts like so:  BP | (recipe or article idea)
  • Don’t put anything on the calendar until you really mean to do it on a particular day. It’s easy enough to change things and move things around, but avoid clutter.
  • Remember that seeing an apparently “empty” day in the past on the calendar (when using the default view) is a GOOD thing – it means you did everything you set out to do.
  • EDIT: In the video, I say that you have to find a task in its home list, on the my todos tab, to mark it completed. ‘Just realized that if you DRAG AND DROP a task to the check mark icon next to the task entry box, it works great.

BONUS: REPEATING TASK REMINDERS

In my video, I forgot to show you an additional feature of the calendar view. On the PREFERENCES tab, you may set it up so that small, clickable icons will appear in the upper space of each day.

editorial calendar icon view

Screenshot. Click to enlarge.

Options include:

outside1 Outside : Go outside and get some fresh air, appreciate nature 

finance Finance : Pay your bills, balance your checkbook, get your finances in order

exercise Exercise : Take a walk around the office, walk the dog, get some fresh air

write1Write : Keep a journal, work on your book, post to your blog  

See? I told you it might have well been designed as an editorial calendar. 

*****

body preservation

This post concludes a five-part series called Resolutions Review. They will be accessible in the Body Preservation section of the blog. Other titles include:

1) Resolutions Review | Did you get control of your weight, fitness, money, and work issues? (Plus power poses.)

2) Resolutions Review | How “You Need A Budget” (YNAB) helped us save $1000 in less than 3 months.

3) Resolutions Review | How Spark People helped me lose 10 pounds in 11 weeks without dieting.

4) Resolutions Review | Write more with fun (free) productivity tools: Focus Booster, Write or Die, Camp NaNoWriMo, WriMoProg & progress meters.


This blog is meant to be a paranormal refuge for horror fans, because …

… I know how hard it is to stay true to your paranormal self when you’re embroiled in the bright and shiny world of the normals.

(Note to the folks that have been here a long time: this is an addition to my Backstory page. I just found its draft in my files and decided to polish it up and include it. I could have backdated it, but I think it’s kinda fun, so it’s going up like any other post. I’ll eventually delete this little note and it will seem like it has always been here.)

I’m lucky. Now that my youngest child is 18 and going to college, I can afford to delve deep into the  horror / paranormal world. I may not be eager to get arrested while doing a paranormal investigation, but having an encounter with a cop in graveyard in the wee hours would not disrupt the education nor destroy the social life of my spawn. These days, I could wear a pointy witch hat to the grocery store in April if I wanted … it’s even possible that neither of my kids would flinch if they happened to be along for the ride.

practical magic paranormal horror fan refuge retreat escape

Truth is, I’d be more like to chose one of these hats.

That was not always the case. For many years I was caught up in a lifestyle that demanded me to be bright, and shiny and proper. (Being a parent, especially a home school parent, will do that to you.) My true history, interests, and preferred pastimes had to be kept on the down-low.

 

munsters paranormal horror fan refuge retreat escape

Even as a child, I felt so sorry for Marilyn Munster.

Just about the time that my proper-parent persona could be retired, our life blew up. Though, by then, I had already created this blog – and started taking my writing seriously for the first time in 15+ years – I was suddenly plunged into an unexpected period of down-sizing, life-simplifying and working full time. Now, after a tumultuous two years or so, my family has come into a magical life-stage in which I am able to dedicate myself to writing full-time about dark and beautiful things.

the-shining-jack-typing

Things like Jack and Stephen.

A major part of my goal for this blog is to create a refuge for folks who aren’t as lucky as me just yet. It’s a love letter to  people who can neither afford to spend too much time digging into the paranormal / horror world to find the good stuff, nor step too far outside the lines in their pursuit of dark and profound things.

This would be too far outside the lines.

This would be too far outside the lines.

I know that most of the readers that show up at my page in the middle of night, or on their lunch hour, are still deeply embroiled in the same kind of life I had just a few years ago. For some of those readers, life revolves around PTO meetings that need attending, scout troops and sporting leagues that need leading, and play-dates that need arranging. Others have jobs and careers that require massive amounts of time and energy to nurture. And they have employers and co-workers who will not tolerate overt displays of gothic or dark sensibilities on the sales floor or in the next cubicle.

NCIS Abby goth character

Unless you’re a forensic specialist, apparently.

On top of all that, some of my readers are also trying to fit writing and art-making around the edges of their work-a-day worlds. They come here to get a taste of the things that feed them and help to fill the creative well.

th ring girl climbing out of the well

This looks like my creative well.

I’ve been there. And I survived it, but there’s no need for you to have to suffer a lack of eerie and interesting distractions and inspirations. I wish there had been a blog sanctuary like this one for me to read when I had limited time and energy, coupled with a deep need to retreat from the normal world for a while.

Now that I have the luxury of time, I feel it’s my mission to make such a place for you. Make yourself comfortable and let me know if there’s anything special you’d like to see, here in the sprawling haunted house that is The Paranormalist.

~ Renae

PS: Click the pic to go to a source site.

 


The 10 best not-horror, not-scary books by Stephen King. (Plus two you should read even though they are scary.)

Against all odds, several of my regular readers are NOT horror fans. (And I live with another horror avoider too.) I think it’s a shame that these folks have been deprived of the experience of reading Stephen (the) King  just because of his scary reputation for writing only in the horror genre.

For my contribution to this week’s fourth (and final?) King’s March link-up (a Stephen King-themed blog hop) I’ve decided to reach out to such people with a list of 10 great reads for fans of good writing, as long as it’s not considered to be in the horror genre. These books will neither gross anyone out, nor cause nightmares (probably.)

The author here is Stephen King, though, so be prepared for the stories to bring up some strong emotions. The surprise – for non-King readers – will be that those emotions may include wonder, amusement, tenderness, admiration, hope, nostalgia, awe, wistfulness, and joy.

10 not-horror, not-scary books by Stephen King

The Green Mile

They call death row at Cold Mountain Penitentiary “The Green Mile.” John Coffey, sentenced to die for the rape and murder of two young girls, is the latest addition to the Mile. Paul Edgecomb, the ward superintendent, discovers that there is more to John Coffey than meets the eye, for this friendly giant has the power to heal.

Dolores Claiborne

Suspected of killing Vera Donovan, her wealthy employer, Dolores Claiborne tells police the story of her life, harkening back to her disintegrating marriage and the suspicious death of her violent husband, Joe St. George, thirty years earlier. Dolores also tells of Vera’s physical and mental decline and of her loyalty to an employer who has become emotionally demanding in recent years.

Joyland

After realizing his romantic life is not going in the direction he’d hoped, Devin Jones decides to take a summer job at an amusement park. There he makes friends with Tom Kennedy and Erin Cook, also summer hires at Joyland, which years before had been the scene of the murder of a young woman named Linda Gray whose ghost is said to be seen at the Horror House. He also befriends a young boy, named Mike Ross and his mother, Annie. Their lives all become entwined when Devin decides to investigate the mystery of Linda Gray’s unsolved murder by the “Carny Killer.”

11/22/63

Jake Epping is a thirty-five-year-old high school English teacher in Lisbon Falls, Maine, who makes extra money teaching adults in the GED program. He receives an essay from one of the students—a gruesome, harrowing first person story about the night 50 years ago when Harry Dunning’s father came home and killed his mother, his sister, and his brother with a hammer. Harry escaped with a smashed leg, as evidenced by his crooked walk.

Not much later, Jake’s friend Al, who runs the local diner, divulges a secret: his storeroom is a portal to 1958. He enlists Jake on an insane—and insanely possible—mission to try to prevent the Kennedy assassination. So begins Jake’s new life as George Amberson and his new world of Elvis and JFK, of big American cars and sock hops, of a troubled loner named Lee Harvey Oswald and a beautiful high school librarian named Sadie Dunhill, who becomes the love of Jake’s life—a life that transgresses all the normal rules of time.

The Colorado Kid

Vince Teague and Dave Bowie are the sole operators of The Weekly Islander, a small Maine newspaper.  Stephanie McCann has been working for them as an intern.   When Stephanie asks if they’ve ever come across a real unexplained mystery in the fifty years they’d been publishing the paper, they tell her the story of The Colorado Kid.

The Eyes of the Dragon

Once upon a time, in the Kingdom of Delain, King Roland is murdered and his son and heir, Peter, is framed for the crime. Peter and his loyal friends must battle an evil wizard and Peter’s usurper brother, Thomas, for the throne. Imprisoned in a tower, Peter conceives an escape plan that will take him years to execute before taking on Flagg, the powerful sorcerer who has masterminded this coup.

The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon

Nine-year-old Trisha McFarland strays from the path while she and her recently divorced mother and brother take a hike along a branch of the Appalachian Trail. Lost for days, wandering farther and farther astray, Trisha has only her portable radio for comfort. A huge fan of Tom Gordon, a Boston Red Sox relief pitcher, she listens to baseball games and fantasizes that her hero will save her. Nature isn’t her only adversary, though – something dangerous may be tracking Trisha through the dark woods.

Firestarter

The Department of Scientific Intelligence (aka “The Shop”) never anticipated that two participants in their research program would marry and have a child. Charlie McGee inherited pyrokinetic powers from her parents, who had been given a low-grade hallucinogen called “Lot Six” while at college. Now the government is trying to capture young Charlie and harness her powerful firestarting skills as a weapon.

Different Seasons (four novellas in one volume)

IF you read only ‘Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption’ and ‘The Body’.

I’ll skip the synopses here, because we pretty much all know the basic stories, thanks to the movies Stand By Me and The Shawshank Redemption.

On Writing

On Writing is both a textbook for writers and a memoir of Stephen’s life and will, thus, appeal even to those who are not aspiring writers. If you’ve always wondered what led Steve to become a writer and how he came to be the success he is today, this will answer those questions.

 

ALL THAT SAID, FANS OF GREAT STORIES – HORROR OR NOT – MUST READ IT AND THE STAND, EVEN THOUGH THEY ARE SCARY.

 

scary horror stephen king it

A promise made twenty-eight years ago calls seven adults to reunite in Derry, Maine, where as teenagers they battled an evil creature that preyed on the city’s children. Unsure that their Losers Club had vanquished the creature all those years ago, the seven had vowed to return to Derry if IT should ever reappear. Now, children are being murdered again and their repressed memories of that summer return as they prepare to do battle with the monster lurking in Derry’s sewers once more.

scary horror stephen king the stand

One man escapes from a biological weapon facility after an accident, carrying with him the deadly virus known as Captain Tripps, a rapidly mutating flu that – in the ensuing weeks – wipes out most of the world’s population. In the aftermath, survivors choose between following an elderly black woman to Boulder or the dark man, Randall Flagg, who has set up his command post in Las Vegas. The two factions prepare for a confrontation between the forces of good and evil.

NOTE: All the synopses and book jacket images above were obtained directly from stephenking.com.

*****

ON THE TOPIC OF THIS BLOG HOP / LINKY:

I’ve really learned a lot from participating in this blog hop / linky, and I feel like I understand how such things work MUCH better now.

KingsMarch_zps31f8f79e

Click the pic to go to this week’s link up.

Wensend &  Fourth Street Review (the hosts of this linky) have each posted summaries and links to the week-3 posts, and the final linky sign-up gadget.

Just click either of those links you just saw to see what other bloggers have been writing about recently. (Interestingly, some of the participants are not horror fan and do not enjoy a scary read. I did not expect that when I signed up, but it’s been interesting how they handle the Stephen King theme.)

My own previous entries include:

The wisdom of Stephen King: best quotes from Constant Writer.

Stephen King, everywhere I look.

Reading Stephen King in March & figuring out how blog hops / linkies work.

————-

wrimoprog 04/02/2014:  6 + 4 = 10/182


Resolutions Review | Write more with fun (free) productivity tools: Focus Booster, Write or Die, Camp NaNoWriMo, WriMoProg & progress meters.

INTRODUCTION: A while back, I introduced this month’s series in a post called Resolutions Review: did you get control of your weight, fitness, money, and work issues? (Plus Power Poses.) Tackling this series a bit of a stretch for a paranormal-themed blog, but less so if you understand that I define the word paranormal broadly.

Para- / par-ə / Prefix. ”Alongside, near, beyond, altered, contrary to.” norma/ nawr-muhl / Adjective. “Conforming to the standard; usual; regular; natural.”

No matter how far I stray from topics like ghosts, cryptids and mysteries, I am always thinking about how to make life better and easier for my kindred. These articles will become part of a section of the blog I’m developing, dedicated to living a (moderately) paranormal lifestyle. body preservation There. That’s out of the  way.

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BREAKING THROUGH WRITER’S BLOCK

By now you probably know that I fell into a writing slump, in the wake of Halloween 2013, which inspired me to work on better managing other areas of my life.

Despite progress elsewhere, my writing recovery was admittedly slow as I trudged through this tough winter. Now, though, I’m happy to say that I’ve clawed my way up and out of the pit. I’m not yet  producing at full capability, but I’m getting there … partly thanks to tools I found on the internet which helped me improve my physical and financial well-being. (Click those links to see the previous posts in this series.) Getting a handle on those stressors freed up some energy and mind-space which I could then muster to attack my writer’s block.

To wage the battle, I again turned to the internet to search for tools and gadgets that would support my efforts and inspire me. I gathered all sorts of  things to try, rejected some, and settled into regularly using the best, most effective programs I found. Now, after a significant trial period, I can offer some recommendations to those of you who are looking for ways to streamline and smooth out your own routines.

If the advent of spring is inspiring you to revise, refine and recommit to your resolutions, check out the following list of work-management tools.

*****

FOCUS BOOSTER is a simple timer widget designed to help improve concentration while working on a project.

This timer was built to work with the Pomodoro Technique, which is really a complete productivity philosophy in itself. It involves dividing your work day into 25-minute chunks of focused time, each followed by a 5-minute break. This time segment is called a Pomodoro. After every forth Pomodoro, you take a longer break of 30 minutes.

To learn more about this effective time management system, visit: The Pomodoro Technique.

Occasionally, I follow the technique guidelines, but more often I work in increments of 50 /10. The beauty of Focus Booster is that it can be used according to the official plan, or in any way you like. You can set the focused-time period to anything between 2-90 minutes, and the break period to anything between 1-30 minutes. Time elapsed is displayed in a color-coded progress bar which you can set to “stay on top.” If you like, you can choose to hear a ticking sound (like that of a kitchen timer) while you are working. An alarm sounds at the end of a time segment. (I do wish there was a volume control for both the ticking, which needs to be softer, and the alarms, which need to be louder.) There is no learning curve for this gadget.

docus booster screen shot

In short, Focus Booster is a small, clean, free program that is easy to install and use. Go grab it and give it a try.

*****

WRITE OR DIE is designed specifically for writers who struggle with over-thinking and/or over-editing when they should be just getting words on a page.

(WARNING: I am only recommending the free version.)

I’ve mentioned this program here at The Paranormalist before. When I found it, more than a year ago, I tried out the free version for a while, then bought the desktop version. I still use it on days when I just want to make a lot of words appear without worrying about editing. You can read about my first experience with the program in Write or Die – a productivity tool designed to overcome my personal writer’s faults.

write or die screen shot

I still believe The CONCEPT is brilliant.

Unfortunately, the execution of this program is less than stellar. I had to find work-arounds to make sure that nothing I typed got lost. (I have to remember to copy and paste my text into a WORD document before I exit the writing window, because I don’t trust the on-board save function.) The badge I referenced in my first article never did work properly. Otherwise, though, the program is both fun and effective so I knew I wanted to include an update and a cautious recommendation for it in this blog.

When I went to fetch the proper link for this post, I discovered that a new version, Write or Die 2, is available.

write or die

It’s supposed to have improved functionality and more options. The new version not only provides consequences  in the same way the original did, it offers two additional modes: reward and stimulus.

stimulusScreenshot

This is what it’s supposed to look like in stimulus mode.

Because I’m about to start a big new project, I was very excited. I purchased the desktop version immediately. (There was a code available for use by teachers, students and people who had purchased the first version, so I only paid $15.)

HUGE MISTAKE!

I should have read around the internet a bit before surrendering my money. This new version is not just a little buggy sometimes – easily half of the features don’t work properly or consistently. The good news is that I seem to be able to use it in consequences mode just about as reliably as I am able to use my desktop version of the first edition. (It seems to save a little better, though it won’t let me name the save file, even though it indicates that doing so is an option. I still don’t trust it.)

To make matters worse, it appears that the developer has abandoned both products – except for accepting payment, that is. It turns out that I’m a lucky one … most folks who are trying to purchase version 1 these days are not receiving their download links despite having made payment.

It’s a shame because, when it works, this program can help you generate huge blocks of text. Though I use it to create rough draft prose, I imagine it could be an effective tool for any kind of stream-of-consciousness brainstorming or journaling. I hope the developer decides to support his products and sends out bug fixes, but I’m not holding my breath. I will be staying on top of the situation and will update this post and make note in a future blog  if anything changes.

In short, DON’T BUY EITHER DESKTOP VERSION ON THIS PROGRAM, at least not right now.  In the meantime, it seems safe enough to use the program in its FREE, web-based incarnation. Go to writeordie.com, adjust the controls, and hit “try.” As long as you have internet, it works. To be safe, copy and paste your text to another program before quitting out of the writing screen.

*****

CAMP NANOWRIMO, a more flexible and self-directed version of November’s traditional National Novel Writing Month program, begins tonight at midnight!

This is great way to try NaNo if you’ve not had the courage to do it before. You set your own goal which can be about writing a first draft, or revising a previously existing one. (Or about creating an outline for a new project, or anything, really, as long as you can figure out how to equate it to a goal word count in a way that makes sense to you.)

camp_moonrise_poster_main

April’s event has already worked to improve my March productivity because I’ve been tying up loose ends of other projects as I prepare to “go to camp.”

Aside from the motivation provided by the word count graph that is integral to NaNo, there are other perks to becoming a camper. I’ve signed up to be in a “cabin” and I’m already enjoying the enthusiastic messages left by my camp buddies on our message board. (If you don’t want the distraction of social interaction, you can opt out of encabinment.) I particularly love the art created to accompany this session, so I’ll be buying myself this tee  from the camp store when I meet my goal.

camp tee

I know I’m not giving you very much any notice about this, but I would welcome companionship on this adventure. Because you can set your own goal, it’s entirely reasonable to spend the first several days of camp organizing and developing the project. (That’s what I’ll be doing.) If you want to see my camper profile, or check on my progress, you can visit me at: campnanowrimo.org/campers/theparanormalist.

I’ll be immersing in that project I wanted to tackle last November, before the slump set in so completely. (Yes, it is possible that the very contemplation of that project contributed to the writer’s block itself.) Now that I’ve had some time to think about it, and now that I’m doing better in general, and now that it’s spring, I think I’m ready to dive in.

2014-Participant-Twitter-Header-2

If you aren’t ready to do camp in April, but are intrigued by the idea, you’re in luck — there will be another session in July. Maybe we can meet up then.

In short, this is a fun, lower-stress introduction to the world of intensive writing and goal-meeting zeitgeist and you should come play!

*****

WRIMOPROG, Writers Monthly Progress, is my own invention, inspired by NaNoWriMo and similar writing challenges. It’s based on hours dedicated to a writing career rather than the cumulative word count of a single project.

Of course, I’ve mentioned this creation before so I won’t spend time describing it here. All the information you need to get set up is available at the WriMoProg homepage, which you can always access from my header.

wrimoprog 600 X 325

In short, if  there’s something about NaNoWriMo that appeals to you, but you’d rather embark on long-term, sustainable, productivity-improvement journey, you might find WriMoProg more suitable for your needs.

*****

PROGRESS / WORD COUNT METERS can be a fun way to visualize and acknowledge your accomplishments, and share information with supporters.

I’ll be doing A LOT of self-monitoring in this upcoming month and into the foreseeable future. It really seems to help keep me focused and on-track. I’ll be using both Camp NaNoWriMo and WriMoProg in April. Camp NaNo will help me with drafting the beginning of my new novel, and WriMoPro will help me with staying on top of my blogging and other writerly tasks. Each challenge has its own way of tracking progress, but it never hurts to add on a pretty graphic widget as well.

One particular progress meter –  the word count meter from Critique Circle – can be used for both challenges. This is another gadget that I’ve shared with you before, but it merits another mention for multiple reasons:

  • unlike other widgets, it can be displayed in a post or sidebar here at wordpress.com
  • it’s a beauty – simple, elegant and customizable
  • it’s easy to update, in that you click the image wherever it appears and update your count in a dead-simple form, then copy and past the generated code wherever you want it
  • during the month of November (but not during camp months) the meter can be directly linked to your NaNoWriMo graph
  • though it’s intended to track word counts, you can enter any number range which means it can be used to track hours

For the purpose of this post, I have indicated that I’ve achieved about 25% of  my goals, so that you can see what they look like in use. Of course, any meter you see in an April post will reflect my actual progress.

This is what my word count meter for April’s Camp NaNoWriMo looks like:

And this is what my hours-spent meter for April’s WriMoProg looks like:

In short, if you have need of a progress meter that will work where others won’t, get it at Critique Circle.

*****

I have two more amazing writer tools to share in future posts. 

The first one has been so life-changing for me that it deserves its own post. (Hint: it’s a free editorial calendar  … but also so much more. And I don’t mean the on-board calendar that you folks with wordpress.org can install as a plugin.) Look for that post soon.

The second find will be getting its trial by fire starting tomorrow, so I probably won’t be posting about it until mid-month, but I’m eager to see how well it works in practice. I’m really excited about the program after exhaustively reading about what it does. (Hint: it will be taking the place of a TON of  word documents containing plot notes, character sketches, orphan scenes, timelines, etc. At least I hope it will.)

Now it’s time to get back to full-on writing. Wish me luck, Folks.

———–

wrimoprog 03/31/2014:  43 + 47 = 90/80

 


The wisdom of Stephen King: best quotes from Constant Writer.

For this week’s King’s March, I decided to share my favorite quotes from my favorite author. As long as I was at it, I turned some of them into a sort of quiz. I also created a list at a site where your can up-vote your favorite or add one that I missed. You’ll find all that below. Before we go there, though, I want to do a quick update on my experiment with this linky / bloghop.

KingsMarch_zps31f8f79e

BLOG HOPS / LINKIES

For those of you following along, this post is part of an experiment intended to help me learn about and understand blog hops, aka linkies. I revealed my confusion about the practice in the first post in the series. Now I’m starting to get it … and I am pleased. If you have a look at the comments thread on my second King-themed post, you’ll see that the hosts of this King’s March linky are keeping track of the participants’ entries on their blogs. (In the comments to my post there are two “pingback” notifications, which lead back to where they’ve mentioned my blog, as well as those of the other participants.)

The way it’s done – or at least the way these two bloggers do it – is to create a weekly post which summarizes the blogs created in honor of the linky in the previous week. They also put up a new linky widget where participants can add another link, to another post. That’s the best way for non-participants to gain easy access to all the themed posts … go to the scheduled update post at the host blog or blogs, and browse the links and / or take a peek at the linky itself to see what’s going up throughout the week. In this case, the update post goes up on Saturdays. (It’s not very different from my #NetNet posts, now that I think about it.)

Here are the links to last Saturday’s summary posts at Forth Street Review and at Wensend. If you go there, you’ll see the link to my post from last week among the others. If you click the “Mister Linky You’re Next” icon, you’ll see a list of what’s going up this week, including this post.

Pretty cool.

BACK TO STEPHEN KING

I’m obsessed with my fiction writing lately, and I’m STILL working on Christine. I wanted to contribute something fun to the hop this week though, so I’ve spent some hours hunting down my favorite Stephen King quotes. I’m cool with the time investment, because *I* am his number one fan.

Can you place the quote in the right book?
(Highlight the space between the parentheses to check your answers.)

1. “I am your number one fan.”
(Misery)

2. “The soil of a man’s heart is stonier; a man grows what he can and tends it.”
(Pet Sematary)

3. “Get busy living or get busy dying…..there ain’t nothing in between.”
(Different Seasons)

4. “It’s a Dance. And sometimes they turn the lights off in this ballroom.
But we’ll dance anyway, you and I. Even in the Dark. Especially in the Dark.
May I have the pleasure?”
(Danse Macabre)

5. “He thrusts his fists against the posts and still insists he sees the ghosts.”
(   It      )

6. “Anything with the power to make you laugh over thirty years later isn’t a waste of time. I think something like that is very close to immortality.”
(Hearts in Atlantis)

7. “I never had any friends later on like the ones I had when I was 12 – Jesus, did you?”
(The Body aka Stand By Me)

8. “Calling it a simple schoolgirl crush was like saying a Rolls-Royce was a vehicle with four wheels, something like a hay-wagon. She did not giggle wildly and blush when she saw him, nor did she chalk his name on trees or write it on the walls of the Kissing Bridge. She simply lived with his face in her heart all the time, a kind of sweet, hurtful ache. She would have died for him.”
(It              )

9. “Sometimes being a bitch is all a woman’s got to hold on to.”
(Dolores Claiborne)

10. “The thing under my bed waiting to grab my ankle isn’t real. I know that, and I also know that if I’m careful to keep my foot under the covers, it will never be able to grab my ankle.”
(Night Shift)

11. “God grant me the serenity to accept what I cannot change, the tenacity to change what I may, and the good luck not to fuck up too often.”
(‘Salem’s Lot)

12. “True sorrow is as rare as true love.”
(Carrie)

13. “The place where you made your stand never mattered. Only that you were there… and still on your feet.”
(The Stand)

14. “In small towns people scent the wind with noses of uncommon keenness.”
(The Stand)

15. “God is cruel. Sometimes he makes you live.”
(Desperation)

16, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.”
(The Shining- thanks, Mark!)

HOW MANY DID YOU GET RIGHT?

*****

It’s like he’s talking straight to me.

Sometimes, I think I over-identify with King. Maybe we all do, and maybe that’s what makes him such a devastatingly effective author. It’s like he just “gets it” in a way that many others don’t.

I’m bipolar, so these resonate:

“I think that we’re all mentally ill. Those of us outside the asylums only hide it a little better – and maybe not all that much better after all.”

“There’s no bitch on earth like a mother frightened for her kids.”

“When his life was ruined, his family killed, his farm destroyed, Job knelt down on the ground and yelled up to the heavens, ‘Why god? Why me?’ and the thundering voice of God answered, ‘There’s just something about you that pisses me off.”

“Monsters are real, and ghosts are real too. They live inside us, and sometimes, they win.”

I’m a horror writer, so these resonate:

“I recognize terror as the finest emotion and so I will try to terrorize the reader. But if I find that I cannot terrify, I will try to horrify, and if I find that I cannot horrify, I’ll go for the gross-out. I’m not proud.”

“Fiction is the truth inside the lie.”

“I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. When you find something at which you have talent, you do that thing (what ever it is) until your fingers bleed or your eyes pop out of your head.”

“I never saw any of my dad’s stories. My mother said he had piles and piles of manuscripts.”

*****

So, what are your favorites?

Some of you may remember my Ranker list, Classic Trick or Treat Loot. Creating that and watching it take off as people shared their opinions was fun. I wanted to do the same thing with these Stephen King quotes, but it turns out Ranker makes terrible quote lists … ugly, just ugly. I found another ranking site called The Top Tens, which does a better job of displaying sentences in a pleasing way. Pop over and check it out. You can up-vote your favorite quote, add one I forgot, or even re-rank the whole set in a list of your own.

stephen king quotes

————-

wrimoprog 03/27/2014:  41 + 30 = 71/80


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