Friday, January 25, 2013

How I Use Scrivener (Now)

I've never finished a single novel I've ever attempted. I get these brilliant ideas, start scribbling, and get burnt out. A lot of the times it's because I've only thought through a few scenes and then I get writer's blocked and I totally crap out and give up. Sure, I could probably go back and outline and plot and get it going again, but I get sick of it and throw it in a corner and I'm done with it. And even with Scrivener, I've never been very good at planning. I never was one for the notecards and corkboards and outlines and any of that. I always winged it (wung it? wang it? hehe, wang...) and wrote til my heart gave out.

I've got a new idea and I think I have a plot and I've got multiple characters I'm fleshing out largely before writing. I'm outlining and culture-building before writing. I plan to have this nailed out and "finished" before I even write. I'm so proud of myself right now lol.

At risk of spoilering everyone (on the off-chance I finish and publish this), I wanted to show off my system. I learned how to ditch the rounded edges and turn the corner labels into "pins" and it is so much more appealing, visually, and it really feels like index cards now. You can change the background, too, but I like the illusion provided by the corkboard image. I changed the font so it looks like I hand-wrote the cards. I added three new pin categories (Labels on yours, but I've changed mine to the word "Pin" in the edit menu where you add new Labels and you can see how it actually changed it in the Inspector), changing the "Scene" one to "Drina," following a character's separate line. I didn't like having them all blue for scene and then having to look more closely when I was just trying to see how they wove in and out. There will be a third line to follow, probably, besides Zvi/Agnes and Drina. That one has a pinkish pin and I think the three colors (plus the blue-black scraps/bonuses pile for anything I feel the need to scribble) complement each other very well. I still use the green for Chapters, but may change that.

I used the pre-made pins for "Idea," "Notes," and "Character Notes." I was going to just use the cute little round white pins (they change to push pins when you designate a colored label) and steal these colors for use in the Manuscript, but I love the way they coordinated lol.

I'm going to actually stop talking about Scrivener for a minute, but first I want to point out that PDF file (which will still lead me away from talking about Scrivener). I made that in gDrive and then from gDrive you can save as a PDF. I imported the PDF to Scrivener. I have made several other spreadsheets taking hours of my time because I wrote all sorts of weird math and am really obsessive like that. I still have those in Excel. I love Excel. I rarely use Word anymore, unless Erik's gotta write up a technical thing for school and uses my computer instead of his for some reason because Scrivener confuses him. I also use it for short easy things because Word does have much prettier formatting and effects, but Scrivener is my general go-to now for anything fictional.

Loooook at meeee, I'm OhhhhhCDeeee!

This won't make one bit of sense.

Anyway, use Excel. Excel is beautiful (except I have the ugly Starter pane on mine). I have had to make 2394792347987 versions of that PDF as I keep tweaking things in the gDoc and try to keep my Scrivener version updated. Having Excel open with Scrivener at the time is really the way to go until Scrivener creates a functional way to also have working spreadsheets that are as effective as Excel. Which will probably be never. Sorry, Scrivener. I still love you first. Excel is just my mistress.

Here's where I'll actually divert away from Scrivener. You all need to go to Holly Lisle's How to Think Sideways. You need to buy her Culture Clinic (if you write anything that isn't modern day shiznit) and her Character Clinic (if you write anything). They're around ten bucks each. Some are less, I don't think anything's more. Anyway, buy it, no tax or shipping, download it, and revel in the awesomeness. I got the Culture Clinic first, years ago, and it's incredible. I've barely used any of it, but what I have fleshed out in a day led to several scenes, a plotline I wouldn't have thought of (at least not for a while, without it), and two new main characters.

The Character Clinic is new to me, but has so far proved to be very fascinating. It also stemmed new plotlines as I figured out the aforementioned Drina and her motives. (My bad ass actually used to be a nice girl.) The two have already helped me on the way to a much richer, more believable, and interesting novel than I've ever written and I've only written half a scene, two scraps, and a bonus backstory thing. Brooke loves the Plot Clinic as well, but I haven't gotten much use out of it yet myself.

I reccomend buying these from her site, but they are available on Amazon for the Kindle. I know if you've bought it from her site, there's a link to download it in Kindle format, too, but I haven't tried it. I recommend downloading the PDF (and maybe the mp3 to go along with it) so you can copy and paste questions and exercises into your Scrivener. That's what I've been doing.

That's all I got right now, kids! It's almost 4am! (I did fall asleep around 8, though, and then woke up at midnight.) So this is my Scrivener. What's yours? Got any more tips for me?

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Yearbook 2012

Guys! I Shutterfly'd again... I'm doing that Family Yearbook project that's been all over Pinterest. I started in September and finished the last tweaks a few weeks ago. After checking it all over today, I got to order it! So on top of just liking to share this crap, sharing gets you ten dollar codes. Of course, the one I had already expired on December 31st, so I didn't get to use it on this project after all, but I still got free shipping and 40% off, which totaled about fifty-nine dollars in discounts. Yeah. Love Shutterfly.

Click here to view this photo book larger

You'll love Shutterfly's award-winning photo books. Try it today.

Friday, January 18, 2013

RECIPE: Cheesy Chicken

Cheesy Chicken | parmesan, garlic, and herbs | #chicken #parmesan #baked
Cheesy Chicken

Okay, I'll start by telling you I made this up today off the top of my head. I have an idea to finish perfecting it, but oh my God it was still delicious. I promised to share the recipe.

Chicken breasts
Parmesan cheese, at least one full regular-sized canister for six breasts
Seasonings of your choice (I picked a McCormick garlic and herb thing)
Olive oil

I preheated the oven to 350 according to these instructions.

Line a Pyrex or similar dish with foil and spray it with your choice of oil or cooking spray. I used a pump sprayer with olive oil. I then sprinkled a little parmesan cheese. I don't know why I did this and you don't have to. I just... did.

I poured olive oil into a large bowl. I washed my chicken breasts to get the preservatives off them, according to that above link. I like that they felt less greasy once I had. It felt cleaner. Anyway, then I plunked them in the bowl, usually two at a time so I didn't have to fill the bowl too much. After trying with several different utensils, I gave up and mixed it around with my hands.

I first attempted pouring cheese on a plate with high-ish sides. I mixed in some of my seasoning, plopped the chicken on and tried to pat it on. The method I settled on was just dropping the chicken on an empty plate, sprinkling seasoning, sprinkling a bunch of cheese, and patting it all on with my hands. Near the end I'd put a bunch of seasoning in my olive oil bowl, which deposited some of it, but I still had to sprinkle it on the chicken, so I think it was a waste.

As I coated them, I placed them on the foil. I sprinkled extra seasoning and cheese on top, and then I drizzled (okay, splashed; I'm not good at drizzling) some of the remaining seasoned EVOO from the bowl on top. I baked it for 25 minutes and the meat thermometer read just over 160, but when I took it out the thermometer dropped and I tested it and it was pink inside. Total cook time was 40 minutes.

It was delicious! Super tender, probably from all the oil in the pan. I put it next to so Pastaroni Angel Hair Pasta, the Parmesan version. Now, I didn't write this as a traditional recipe (Do this, then do this...) for a reason. I made this up as I went, and I wanted to point out the weird things I tried. Now that it's done, the flavor was perfect, but I want to try mixing in some breadcrumbs with the cheese, for a better coating texture, and/or trying an alternative to coating it with EVOO. Brooke at The Circle Married the Line suggested mayo or yogurt, both of which I hate. Having been assured you don't really taste the mayo, I want to try that next.

So I left this recipe a bit open-ended. I will make this again soon and try new things. But if anyone attempts it, or has made similar recipes, tell me what you do/did differently. Lets make a recipe, ladies!

TUTORIAL: Creating and Adding a Watermark in Lightroom 3

Watermarking in Lightroom 3 | #tutorial #lightroom #watermark

Hey, everyone! I had to look up a video on Youtube to show me how to do this after hearing obscurely that Lightroom had a feature to watermark. I know a lot of people don't use it, but I love Lightroom and it seems to be gaining in popularity. It came free with my camera and I've actually had it a little longer than that since my dad installed his copy for when I would take pictures with his camera, so I've been able to get very acquainted. There are few tools I don't have, though, that I use another program for. Example, I'm not all that fond of the spot removal in LR. I much prefer the "makeup kit" in Paint Shop Pro X Ultimate, which includes spots, tanning (which I never use, but it's cool), teeth whitening, and a "thinning" tool where it will squeeze the image together with minimal distortion (gimmicky, but I've used it).

Anyway, that doesn't really matter for the purposes of this tutorial. What matters is I love Lightroom and you all should, too. This is how you protect yourself and your pictures. This is especially important for bloggers. Just the other day I saw on my Facebook feed that a blogger I liked on there found a site that cropped out her watermark (notice the positioning, fade, and size of mine) and copied and pasted her original recipe and pictures into their food blog, claiming it as their own. Protect yourselves!

PS - If you don't have Lightroom, I was inspired to do this by this post. It uses a free program through the internet, I believe.

Budgets, budgets, budgets!

Okay, so screw spreadsheets. Seriously, go throw them out the window. Or, you know, delete them. But we like metaphors here. I want all of you (unless you're using the envelope system, in which case I'm not sure it would help - but hell, checking it out couldn't hurt, right?) to go to right now.

Go. Right. Now.

Okay? Okay. You link your bank accounts, car loans, credit cards, student loan, investment accounts, etc. It categorizes your purchases so you know how much you spent in fast food this month, or gas, or groceries, or your car payment. You can change these categories by selecting from their presets or by making your own categories. (It's kind of dumb and categorizes my paycheck from JCPenney as a clothing expense because they both just show up as "JC Penney" on my account.) You can set goals to project how much you need to spend a month to pay off debts you have in a certain time. I'm knocking years off by paying just thirty extra each month toward my student loan. You can set a budget. That was the kicker for me. It automatically set it for you, but then you can change whatever you want. It makes me sound like a total drunk because I've got it on my overview screen saying, "This month, you spent $137.47 on Alcohol & Bars. This exceeds your budget of $0 by $137." I'm not telling you how much it's reminding me we spent on fast food so far...

Everything in one place.

I don't know if you're like me (but I bet most of you are), but I'm extremely disorganized. One place to tell me, "Yeah, you paid the car payment this month," or, "You already spent HOW much on fast food this month???" is so helpful. You can even tell it your credit score, though I have yet to figure out why that's helpful.

By the, also go to for a completely free credit score. I know a financial institution could pull up a more accurate check, but this was recommended to my dad by a loan officer at a bank while they were looking for a house and he showed it to me. It does not spam you, it does not require a credit card. I've had it for about seven months now. After six, it reminds you to log in and tell it to refresh your score because it's probably outdated. I ran into credit problems (medical bills) about two years ago and finally got them paid off shortly after first signing up for this site, so it was nice to log in and refresh earlier this month and see my score had risen. Erik's went down because of this year's student loans.

And look how cute the Mint logo is. Doesn't it make you want to visit?
Anyway, I'm off topic again. But seriously, use the sites. Please. You'll be happy, I think.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

I Like to Buy Stuff

Saw an ad for this, and then I read some great reviews and I began to salivate... But good God, it's fifty dollars! So I got a hundred dollars from Erik's grandma for Christmas and I was saving it to get my hair done all pro-style, but then I decided I wanted that strap. I'm super excited to give it a shot. It will definitely make the Collierville Craft Fair this summer a lot easier. I have a backpack purse now and I'll have this to keep my hands free and my camera off my neck. Memphis in May is hot, though in this instance I'm referring to the location in the month, not to the many festivals that occur at the same time haha.

Oh, and my dad, who was the first one to get a DSLR, recommended a blog/site called and he is selling a three-hour video tutorial similar to the boot camps he offers I guess throughout the year. It's $67.00, but Erik said I could buy it without using the rest of my birthday money for it. I can't wait to watch it.

And oh my God. You guys don't even know why I care! Prior to this Christmas, all I had was a point-and-shoot. It was good at the time, but did not give me what I actually needed. When my dad got his DSLR, the Nikon D5100, probably a year ago or so, maybe as late as this past spring, I began to steal it whenever I got the chance, but he's super protective so I don't get many good opportunities. A few months ago, at Costco, I convinced my mom to get me a Fujifilm thing that was similar to a DSLR, but didn't have interchangeable lenses. It is supposed to have great video. That alone was over $300. Well, I opened it and was happy, but then I was later presented my "big gift" (which I should not have gotten since I'd already opened an expensive camera) and opened a D5100 of my own. My dad also bought me a 55-300mm lens so I'd have that in addition to the 18-55mm it came with. Those are the two lenses that, for now, are all I'll need. My mom kept the Fujifilm lol.

You see my mom's face? That is the face of a LIAR.
I didn't get a picture with the DSLR as I was holding the camera (that we were using to take the Christmas photos) again. It's hilarious in retrospect. So that is why I'm looking at expensive camera straps and at three-hour-long tutorials. And also why I love my daddy. And why I can still say that at twenty-two with a kid of my own.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013


Okay, guys. Baby's napping. Manthing's napping. I'm showered. Gotta run to the store, but I've gotta wake the manthing first so I know he'll hear when the baby wakes up... He's a really sound sleeper. Anyway, before I do all that (aka, my computer's dead so it has to charge in my room and I'm all comfy in my new sherpa blankie on the bed while my hair air dries or something legitimate-sounding like that), I promised you New Year's Resolutions. Here they are!

  1. Return to a size 14 pant or smaller by the next new year. My ultimate goal is a 10 or maybe even an 8. I was between a 10 and 12 jean in Colorado at my record best weight. I am not putting a goal weight on here, even though I have one in the back of my head, because really I want to look good and be healthy more than I want a certain number on the scale. Also, I have a very muscular build and I'm curvy, so weight is harder to go on. Same reason I hate every BMI test I've taken ever. I am starting at a pant size 20W. I don't have a scale at home, but I'm going to get one at the store, so I can't share my weight yet.
  2. Get and use a gym membership regularly (at least two visits per week, do not let a week go by without one visit.) I've gone to the gym before. Great feeling, knowing you're exercising... for a month. That's how long I usually make it on a semi-regular basis. Erik works at Lifetime Fitness, though. I have no excuse not to get a reduced-price membership and use it.
  3. No more soda/High-C/etc. Drive thru/instant style lemonade must be natural and good for you, not the crap they sell at fast food places. Gotta be careful about labels, too. Green tea is great for you. Lipton Green Tea actually isn't.
  4. Cut out excessive junk food (candy, chips, etc.). There's a point to be made here with "excessive." I got to that wonderful size by eating fast food and junk food whenever I pleased - but I pleased very rarely. I did not diet. I did a lot of the "make ten dollars last til Friday" diet, but otherwise, my key was portion control, and I lived a more active lifestyle. I'm not going to beat myself up for eating a handful of potato chips every once in a while. I am going to make it every once in a while.
  5. Cut fast food to no more than once a month. I intend to eventually eliminate it almost entirely. However, seeing as how I had it twice yesterday and will probably have to have it once or twice today (we've been waiting for our property manager to get our broken dishwasher replaced for over a month and I'm literally out of food). I am going to the grocery store, though...
  6. Stop swearing. Fuck... Seriously, though, I have a baby. I used to have a filter, but now I've worn it out and it barely works anymore, only saving me at work most of the time. I need to quit cold turkey in order to stop swearing around her, I think.
  7. Cross two more things off my bucket list. And it doesn't count if I add it the day I do it. Cause I've done that...
  8. Try more foods I say I "don't like." Anyone else ever said that to get out of eating something that doesn't sound particularly appetizing? Anyone else sometimes discovered that it actually tasted good? Like tilapia.
  9. Be properly fitted for a bra. Never done it. And I need it bad.
Anyone else? Seriously, let me hear yours please! I'm tempted to post Erik's later so when I lose the notebook we wrote these on, we'll have a place to come back and look, but I'll get his permission first.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

New Year

Happy New Year everyone! Who's got resolutions? I did a list, not too many, and I think some might even be attainable. We'll see! I'll post mine later, but I'm actually getting ready for work. Hope nobody was too hungover this morning.