Summer 2022 Update

Ah, summer. The season when eggs can fry on sidewalks, iguanas lounge wherever the heck they want by one in the afternoon, and readers flock to the beach to read their latest page-turners. Such a departure from the cold heart of winter.

It also seems to be the season when I forget I still have a blog here to update.

Well, I haven’t forgotten about this place, even if I do seem to spend more time posting on my own author site these days. But because it’s been a while, I think it’s still worth updating readers of Drinking Café Latte at 1pm with what I’ve been up to this summer.

My New Smart Page

These days, anyone who has a business card likely carries around a few physical copies in their wallets to pass on to potential clients, or customers, or dates, either out of tradition, savvy, or those inevitable just-in-case moments that seem to plague us all when we’re at our least prepared.

But because we’re officially in the future now (if you’ve ever watched an ‘80s future action movie, then you’ll know that we’re officially neck-deep in it, though it’s still not quite the scene we can expect once the events of cat-centered cyberpunk adventure Stray become reality), the even savvier traditional business card carrier will also have a digital version that he or she can pass along via QR code.

That digital business card, often referred to as a biolink or a smart page, can show off much more than just a photo and a call-to-action. It can also display key articles, invite mailing list signups, and more.

As it turns out, I’ve finally created one last weekend. Although I probably need to update it already (it’s a week old!!!), you can certainly get your fill of my latest content and important links by saving it to your bookmarks or smartphone.

Once you visit, you’ll get important navigational links to my official author site, Amazon book page, Goodreads and BookBub author pages, newsletter signup page, top books, latest blog articles, and more (well, not really—we’re always trained to say that, even when “more” technically means my author photo and something else I’ve already forgotten about).

If you’re curious, or just want to keep in touch, be sure to check it out and visit each respective site it connects you to, to make sure you’re not missing out on anything.

My Smart Page. It’s smart.

Kindle Vella Series The Hybrid City Entrepreneur Is Back in Production

Last summer (in 2021 if you’ve already forgotten what year it is), Amazon launched its latest reader fad, the Kindle Vella. The idea behind Kindle Vella is that American readers (because Vella still hasn’t gone international after a year on the market) can read series fiction one short episode at a time on their phones and pay for each episode with tokens.

It’s marketed to ravenous readers who love bite-sized fiction that evolves over time. If you’ve ever visited Medium, Radish, or Substack, you sort of know how this works. Or, if you’ve ever used Wattpad, imagine that, but with only the first three episodes of each story free.

When Amazon announced the beta launch of Kindle Vella last April (again, in 2021), I decided I wanted to try it out. After self-publishing three anthologies in the mid-2000s and watching each one fail miserably, I’d assumed publishing independently was a waste of time and resources, so I’d completely missed the self-published e-book boom of 2008-2012 once it came around. And given that the boom was happening while I was still hot in writing my A Modern-day Fantasy series (Cannonball City, Superheroes Anonymous, Alpha Red, and Hardcore Journeymen respectively), I’d dropped a rather large ball.

I still have no idea what my ignorance may have cost me.

Because I was running into the same problem with the audiobook boom still running today, I didn’t want to waste another opportunity should Kindle Vella actually become something special.

So I dropped everything I was working on in April 2021 (including building my website) and started writing a story I’d publish for Kindle Vella, based on a computer game I’ve been dabbling at making since May 2009. This story, The Hybrid City Entrepreneur, about a boy from 1985 seeking revenge on the bully who’s stolen his girlfriend by beating him at a high-stakes bet, became my focus for much of that summer. And when Kindle Vella ninja-launched in mid-July of that year, I had ten episodes of the story ready for audiences.

Well, thanks to the horrible launch strategy of requiring authors to bring in their own audience, which I didn’t really have since I was counting on Amazon to use this new platform to help me build an audience, I’d gotten fewer than a dozen readers for that first episode, and only a few of those reading the remaining freebies and just one moving on to a paid-by-tokens episode.

With each week that passed without new readers, even though I’d scheduled new episodes to drop every Friday, I’d become disheartened by the whole thing and eventually stopped producing new episodes by the time Episode 14: “The Ad Guy” had dropped in early August.

I’d wanted to finish the story, but because no one was giving it a chance, I’d decided I would take my time with it, publish new episodes only when other important things were finished, and then unpublish the whole thing once the story was finished so that I could turn it into a book and maybe find new readers through more conventional methods.

This new plan meant I’d publish just one additional episode in 2021. Episode 15: “Shop Down the Street” went live on December 31st.

But I’d gotten no new readers, even with that modest kick back to life, so I continued to let it linger for another season.

Then, like a pregnant cat unexpectedly showing up at my back door, the new batch came along.

On June 17, 2022, I’d published Episode 16: “The Security Question” and followed it with a new episode every Friday since. As of this writing, I’ve got 23 episodes live and up to Episode 26: “Fourth of July” queued (and releasing on August 26th). I’m also finishing up the mega-draft that will contain the next three episodes after that, taking us into September.

If you haven’t figured it out by now, I’m determined to finish this thing up this year. Not because I expect new readers to suddenly flock to this old, forgotten story that’s competing with werewolf romances and other genres I don’t understand (or want to), but because I need to get it out of my system so that I can finish my newsletter exclusive novel, Paperweight, which I’ll talk more about soon, but you can get for free once I release it by signing up for my newsletter.

Hopefully, I’ll reach the end of the story before Christmas.

That said, if you like classic 1980s teen angst comedies about nerds versus preppy jocks, and if you’re a fan of movies like The Karate Kid, Better Off Dead, and Wall Street, then you should check it out. Or, at the very least, subscribe to my newsletter so you can find out whenever I turn it into a series of novels, which probably won’t be too soon (for reasons I’ll explain in the next section).

The Hybrid City Entrepreneur. Yep, it’s still a thing.

Status Update on Books-in-Production

Note: This will be a general overview. To get the best picture of what’s going on with my books, please visit my Coming Soon and Book Triage pages on my official author site.

If you’ve monitored my release history these last few years, you’ve probably figured out that I’m slow at creating new work. Sure, I had a publishing hot streak in 2015 and early 2016, but that was because those books were already written (save for The Computer Nerd and half of Cards in the Cloak and Gutter Child), and I just needed a few updates to make them release-worthy. By the time I’d started work on my sequel to The Fountain of Truth, a new collection of holiday-themed parables called Snow in Miami, as well as my still-unfinished comedic teen novel, Teenage American Dream, I’d burnt out, and I’d found it difficult to finish anything since.

Fortunately, my groove has returned in spurts over the years, but not in the way I needed it to. Thanks to NaNoWriMo and a wealth of new ideas, I have about eight new works-in-progress, with a couple of them more than halfway finished, but that means nothing if I can’t get to the end of any of them.

To remedy this problem, I’d made a decision a few weeks ago that I should’ve made in 2016.

Last month, I signed up for an online writers’ conference called Inkers Con. Last weekend, the live roundtables wrapped up, and after having attended as many as I could, as well as watching as many of the recorded live sessions from the in-person conference in June as I could, I’d walked away with some new insights.

Including one important one.

I’m a multi-genre author. If you look at my bibliography, you’ll see that I like writing thrillers, coming-of-age comedies, adventure stories, and holiday fables. I also like subgenres dealing with superheroes, high school stupidity, and unrequited love. I also enjoy quirky and/or ridiculous events in fiction. It makes me laugh. And if it makes me laugh, I hope it’ll do the same for you.

But writing in multiple genres hasn’t helped my sales in the slightest, nor has it helped me to build a following. If I expect to attract readers to any new book I finish, then I need to make sure they’re looking forward to it first. And that’s hard to do if I don’t have a returning audience.

What I’ve learned from Inkers Con is that writing in multiple genres does a great job at splitting reading audiences.

Sure, some readers will read any book an author writes. But others insist on staying within their preferred genres or series. And Amazon’s “Also Boughts” apparently go belly-up when a reader buys a thriller and a coming-of-age novel from the same author.

So, I’ve been thinking a lot about “my brand” and “my writing lane.” What audience am I trying to attract? Who wants to read my next release? Do I need several pen names to keep it all together?

The reason I haven’t finished more than a couple of books in the last six years is because I’m demotivated by the lack of new readership my titles have attracted. In my quest to find the topic readers want to devour, I hop from one story to another without finishing the previous story. This all comes from a desperate attempt to sell enough books to break the way too low financial ceiling my day job has put upon me. If I can’t afford to fix my car, I panic.

Obviously, leaving a book unfinished doesn’t get me closer to resolving the problem with this ceiling height. So, I have to start finishing books. That means I have to start identifying which books need finishing first.

That means writing within a specific lane for a while.

Two-thirds of my published books haven’t sold a dime in seven years. The rest have sold very little. Even though I’m bringing a few of them through the Book Triage to update their content and hopefully give them a better shelf life (along with a new attractive title), I don’t know if it’s worth it to re-release them if they fall outside of “the lane” I need to focus on. And if it’s not worth re-releasing them yet, then I wonder if they’re worth updating now in the first place.

I also don’t know that it’s worth it to keep the unsold books live on Amazon or any of the major retailers. Because they’re already considered “Archived” on my site, I figure it’s about time to take them down and leave them readable on my website or on the Smashwords store only.

Maybe doing so will increase my author attractiveness, but I don’t know. I just know I have to do something. Sales suck right now. Really, really suck.

And there’s no reason to self-sabotage my career by leaving a bunch of stories on Amazon that no one wants to read.

So, to recap:

  • My sales suck.
  • I need to pick a lane.
  • Some books I’ve been touting for years may be delayed even longer as I try to write the ones that will actually give me a readership.

Now, I don’t mean to drive you all crazy with these fluctuating plans. But I need to figure out what works for my career and then run with it when I find it.

I also need to finish my newsletter-exclusive novel, Paperweight, a story about a retiring treasure hunter entering the corporate world and making a mess of it. You can find out more about it here.

That said, you can help me figure out my upcoming slate of books by taking my five-minute Summer 2022 Reader Survey. If you want to go a step further, you could also sign up to my newsletter, as well as leave me feedback or votes on my roadmaps for any book you’re interested in, including the All Books Roadmap.

So, that’s all for now. Thanks for reading. Don’t forget that you can keep up with the latest news by signing up for my author newsletter. (You can find out more about that here.) And remember that while I’ll continue to post here on occasion, you’ll get the most benefit out of also checking out the latest news on my author site.

Hope all is well. Stay tuned for the latest news.

Recap of Action Steps:

Thanks again. Until next time.

Publishing with Google Play Books (Continued)

A few days ago, Google Play Books announced that it was opening a new beta program to allow authors to convert their existing e-books into auto-narrated audiobooks, potentially turning the publishing game sideways. But what does that mean exactly?

It means that authors who cannot afford to hire a professional voice actor, or the equipment or voice lessons to reliably record their own voices, can still create a high quality audiobook. As long as they don’t mind using an AI generated Google voice to play the role of narrator, they can have their audiobook dreams come true.

And for a limited time, they can do so for free.

This weekend, I tested the feature. So far, I’m pretty impressed with it. But is it perfect? I’d say no. It’s about as good as your book type or genre allows for robotic content. But maybe yours is the right fit. Consider this:

If you’re a nonfiction writer who is focused on topics, not autobiographies, then this new system is definitely one to consider. If you’re a fiction writer, or a writer of visual content, however, then your mileage will vary with this one.

My advice: Check it out. But remember that you’re stuck with the same voice throughout the entire production. The “acting,” for example, is narrative, not dramatic, so keep that in mind. If you’re cool with that as a result, then you should absolutely check this one out. But if not–if you’re the type of author who needs vocal flourish or multiple voices to share in the narration–then you may want to seek other avenues.

I recorded a couple of videos on the topic, which you can view at the bottom of this post. The first is the announcement itself. The second is a general walkthrough of how to use it.

Please also note that this article is a continuation of a series I started in May 2020 about getting published through Google Play Books. I’d written it as a five-part series, but this new announcement shows that there’s more to talk about. Here’s the key information on this latest installment.

Series Description:

Google Play Books has opened its service to all independent publishers, so it’s a good idea to publish your books there and expand your audience reach. But how do you do that? This continuing series walks you through the basic steps to get up and running.

Google Play Books Partner Center

Part 6: Converting Your E-book into an Auto-narrated Audiobook

(Video Link)

Episode Description:

You’ve created the e-book and posted it for sale. But have you considered converting it into an audiobook yet? If so, Google Play Books has you covered. As of April 2022, authors can use its text-to-speech technology to create auto-narrated audiobooks to use on the Google Play platform. This video will peek behind the curtain and demonstrate how that works, as well as to discuss best practices during the conversion process.

This episode also highlights Blakify, an app dedicated to text-to-speech conversions, and ScribeCount, an app that tracks your sales across most self-publishing platforms.




  1. Go to Book Catalog section.
  2. Click on book cover to view or edit content.
  3. Go to Content section.
  4. Click on “Create Auto-narrated Audiobook” at top of page.
  5. Select preferred e-book or upload a new one from dropdown menu.
  6. Select ISBN, EAN, or GGKey for reference.
  7. Choose preferred voice actor (based on age, gender, etc.) and speed from header.
  8. Click “Exclude Content” on any page that isn’t necessary for audio.
  9. Listen to and modify text on remaining pages for best output until finished.
  10. Right-click words to check pronunciation.
  11. Remember to credit narrator on title page or in the back matter.
  12. Remember to update copyright information for audio version.
  13. Save changes and Create Audiobook when finished.
  14. Verify description and sales pages for accurate information.
  15. Remember that audiobooks use square book covers.

Thanks for reading. Leave a comment with your e-book information if you’ve published on Google.

Also, if you’d like to read more about Blakify, a professional text-to-speech tool that I use for narrating my articles, please check out my review on my official author website.

The Writer’s Bookshelf, Season Two: Recommended Reading Order

“The Writer’s Bookshelf: Season One Recap” Title Screen

Hi, and welcome back to The Writer’s Bookshelf. If you’ve been keeping up with this series since September 2020, or any time since, then you’ll know that we’ve covered 50 books across two seasons about improving your writing and storytelling game, with some bonus materials along the way. But depending on your skill level and writing style, maybe the order was a bit challenging for you.

If that’s the case, then here’s my recommended reading order for maximum educational experience, depending on your writing approach. Note: This list is for my Season 2 books only. For my Season 1 recommended order, please check out the Season 1 Recap.

For Motivation:

1. This Is Not a Writing Manual, Kerri Majors

2. The War of Art, Steven Pressfield

For Character Development:

3. Creating Characters, Writer’s Digest Books

4. Bullies, Bastards & Bitches, Jessica Page Morell

5. 45 Master Characters, Victoria Lynn Schmidt

6. A Writer’s Guide to Characterization, Victoria Lynn Schmidt

7. The Compass of Character, David Corbett

For Setting:

8. A Writer’s Guide to Active Setting, Mary Buckham

For Plotting:

9. Writing the Breakout Novel, Donald Maass

10. The Fire in Fiction, Donald Maass

11. Writing Deep Scenes, Martha Alderson and Jordan Rosenfeld

12. Writing with Emotion, Tension, and Conflict, Cheryl St.John

13. Mastering Plot Twists, Jane K. Cleland

14. The Secrets of Story, Matt Bird

For Writing Craft Development:

15. Crafting Dynamic Dialogue, Writer’s Digest Books

16. Writing Voice, Writer’s Digest Books

17. The Emotional Craft of Fiction, Donald Maass

18. From Where You Dream, Robert Olen Butler and Janet Burroway

For Revision:

19. Troubleshooting Your Novel, Steven James

For Word References:

20. Merriam-Webster’s Visual Dictionary, Jean Claude Corbeil

21. Descriptionary, Marc McCutcheon

22. Word Savvy, Nancy Ragno

23. Roget’s Thesaurus of Words for Writers, David Olsen, Michelle Bevilacqua, Justin Cord Hayes, & Robert W. Bly

For Character References:

24. The Emotion Thesaurus, Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi

25. The Positive / Negative Trait Thesaurus, Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi

26. Writer’s Guide to Character Traits, Linda N. Edelstein, Ph.D.

27. The Emotional Wound Thesaurus, Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi

28. The Occupation Thesaurus, Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi

For Setting References:

29. The Rural / Urban Setting Thesaurus, Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi

30. The 99% Invisible City, Roman Mars & Kurt Kohlstedt

Please remember that this list is based entirely on my Season Two recommendations. Season Three, which should begin sometime this summer, will present to you a new reading list with an even deeper dive into the craft of writing by focusing on genre techniques and understanding the people and items who populate genre books, as well as other general writing books I didn’t have time to cover in the first two seasons.

So, make sure you subscribe to my blog, YouTube channel, and newsletter to ensure you’re there for the beginning of the next mega-multi-week journey into The Writer’s Bookshelf.

Don’t forget to like, subscribe, comment, and do all of the things that convince me you like this kind of information and want more like it. You can also check out the video edition of this recap below.

The Writer’s Bookshelf: Recommended References and Writing Resources (Episode 50: Discussing “Word Savvy” by Nancy Ragno)

Title Image for The Writer’s Bookshelf Episode 50

Finding the right word to express your thoughts is hard enough. Making sure the right word is the word you’re writing is even tougher. Did you actually mean the right word? Maybe you meant the rite word. Or the write word. I mean, you have to write words to write the right word, even if it’s for a rite. Right?

Write! (As in, put your answer on paper. I’m not agreeing with you or anything.)

Welcome back to The Writer’s Bookshelf for our Season 2 finale (and 50th episode, how about that?). In this episode, we cover an indispensable book about using words the way they’re intended, not just the way we think they’re intended. This is a book about making sure our language is airtight, and not full of the holes of an amateur. (Yes, budding rock band, you may call yourselves Holes of an Amateur. I don’t have to claim it.)

It’s perfect for writers of all skill levels and vocabulary knowledge, but even better for writers new to English, as this can help anyone learning the language (or interested in improving what they know about it) to practice the right words and communicate what they really mean. It’s a bit like having a curated dictionary for those commonly misused words that we wish to avoid at all costs.

It’s actually a lot like that.

For more about it, check out this week’s video, and learn all there is to learn about this important book that you should absolutely be giving residence on your bookshelf.

Note: It’s the perfect companion to last season’s finale, The Best Punctuation Book, Period.

Word Savvy: Use the Right Word Every Time, All The Time

by Nancy Ragno


Amazon Metadata:

·  Paperback: 224 pages

·  ISBN-10: 1599633035

·  ISBN-13: 978-1599633039

·  Publisher:‎ Writer’s Digest Books (November 7, 2011)

Check out other entries in the Writer’s Bookshelf series here.

Thanks again for sticking with this series. This marks the end of Season 2. The Writer’s Bookshelf will hopefully start a new season this summer, so be sure to come back for more. Also look for a Season 2 Retrospective in the coming weeks in case you want the short version of all of these recommendations.

Don’t forget to like, subscribe, comment, and do all of the things that convince me you like this kind of information and want more like it.

The Writer’s Bookshelf: Recommended References and Writing Resources (Episode 49: Discussing “Roget’s Thesaurus of Words for Writers” by Olsen, Bevilacqua, Hayes, & Bly)

Title Image for The Writer’s Bookshelf Episode 49

Do you have enough writing resources on your bookshelf? Actually, that’s a rhetorical question. The answer is always “no.” The better question is, do you have a thesaurus on your bookshelf, and is that thesaurus tailor-made for your writerly needs?

Okay, that’s two questions, but the sentiment is singular. Do you have a writing resource that helps you to find the right words for the right occasion, and does that writing resource have the words “Roget’s Thesaurus” on its front cover?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, then chances are you have this month’s bonus book, Roget’s Thesaurus of Words for Writers, sitting there next to your favorite dictionary, and you can get back to writing, you productive writer you. However, if you answered “no,” then I think you’ll want to give this month’s video a glance, and this month’s book a buy.

Oh, and welcome back to The Writer’s Bookshelf. I am effervescent, now that you’ve chosen to read this far, and even more so that you’ll watch the video. You will watch the video, right?

(Yes, I used this month’s book to find that word, listed under “happy,” and no, I’m not actually effervescent because I don’t know that you’re reading this. How can I feel such “bubbly joy” over something I can’t detect? It’s more important that I used the word correctly. Or did I? Buy the book to find out!)

Roget’s Thesaurus of Words for Writers: Over 2,300 Emotive, Evocative, Descriptive Synonyms, Antonyms, and Related Terms Every Writer Should Know

by David Olsen, Michelle Bevilacqua, Justin Cord Hayes, & Robert W. Bly

Website (Simon & Schuster) (David Olsen; Michelle Bevilacqua; Justin Cord Hayes; Robert W. Bly)

Website (Personal) (Robert W. Bly)

Amazon Metadata:

·  Paperback:‎ 448 pages

·  ISBN-10:‎ 9781440573118

·  ISBN-13:‎ 978-1440573118

·  Publisher:‎ Adams Media (January 1, 2014)

Check out other entries in the Writer’s Bookshelf series here.

Thanks again for sticking with this series. The next bonus episode will be released on the first Friday in February. See you then.

Don’t forget to like, subscribe, comment, and do all of the things that convince me you like this kind of information and want more like it.

The Pros and Cons and Ethics of Using Artificial Intelligence to Write Your Content

Do you like to write? Or do you wish your pet robot could do all of the hard work for you?

Like most writers, I’m tempted to let someone or something else do the work that I should be doing myself. But that calls into question which work is mine to do. I’m a writer of novels, blogs, and video descriptions (and whatever else is related to my author career). But to write anything and everything is both time consuming and mentally exhausting. Heck, writing this article takes extra mental effort when I consider the potential that it’ll reach a small or nonexistent audience (and if you’re reading this, then you’ve increased my audience—congratulations!).

Naturally, I’d want to defer some tasks to another person or AI if I could.

But is it ethical? And what are the benefits to using one? What about the drawbacks?

If you’re as interested in the answers as I am, then check out my feature-length article on the topic at my official author site, or watch my video discussion (and AI content writing tool demonstration) about it on YouTube below. And don’t forget to like, subscribe, and comment your feedback.

What do you think about the rise in AI content writing?

The Writer’s Bookshelf: Recommended References and Writing Resources (Episode 48: Discussing “Descriptionary” by Marc McCutcheon)

Title Image for The Writer’s Bookshelf Episode 48

Is one dictionary not enough? Do you tire of trying to find out what words mean when you don’t even know what you’re looking for? For most dictionaries, knowing the word exists is half the battle. All you have to do is look it up alphabetically. Chances are, you know the word because you saw or heard it somewhere.

Perfectly fine use of a dictionary, by the way, but what if you don’t know what something is called? What if you know what you’re looking for, but you don’t know how to find it because the name escapes you?

Welcome back to The Writer’s Bookshelf. This month, we focus on Descriptionary: A Thematic Dictionary by Marc McCutcheon, a type of dictionary that groups items by category or theme, not just by alphabet (though you can still search for terms alphabetically).

You see a mountain range in the distance and you want to know what that jagged-edged top part is called? Descriptionary. Are you writing a seafaring novel and you know nothing about boats? Descriptionary.

The Descriptionary is one of my favorite resources, even though I don’t use it as often as I’d like, because it helps me find not only the names of items I’m looking for, but it also introduces me to other items within that category. It’s one thing to know nothing about boats, but it’s another to also know nothing about docks, wharfs, or jetties. Descriptionary helps me better identify by definition the items I don’t know, not just the words themselves. It’s definitely one of my higher-recommended resources for the writer’s bookshelf. If you don’t yet have it, you should get it. It complements last month’s Merriam-Webster’s Visual Dictionary well. Find out more in this video.

Descriptionary: A Thematic Dictionary

by Marc McCutcheon

Website (None Found)

Amazon Metadata:

·  Paperback‏: 704 pages

·  ISBN-10: ‎0816079471

·  ISBN-13: ‎978-0816079476  

·  Publisher: Checkmark Books; 4th edition (April 1, 2010)

Check out other entries in the Writer’s Bookshelf series here.

Thanks again for sticking with this series. The next bonus episode will be released on the first Friday in January. See you then.

Don’t forget to like, subscribe, comment, and do all of the things that convince me you like this kind of information and want more like it.

The Writer’s Bookshelf: Recommended References and Writing Resources (Episode 47: Discussing “Merriam-Webster’s Visual Dictionary” by Jean Claude Corbeil)

Title Image for The Writer’s Bookshelf Episode 47

Are you the type of writer who can’t remember what things are called? Do you wish there was a simpler way to access your knowledge of things at the tip of your brain, or maybe even to search for the names of objects that are nowhere near your brain?

Then you need to get yourself a copy of Merriam-Webster’s Visual Dictionary.

Welcome back to The Writer’s Bookshelf. So, what is the Visual Dictionary? It’s a doorstopper of a resource that can help you find the name of that skinny thing sticking out of the back of that thing you use to scroll this page, among many other things, just by searching the object’s category (electronics) and general section (computers), and eventually the object itself (mouse). By seeking information in this way, you may discover that the skinny thing that’s perplexed you is, in fact, called a cable.

And that’s how the Visual Dictionary works. Find out more and see cool pictures in this video.

Merriam-Webster’s Visual Dictionary, Second Edition

by Jean Claude Corbeil


Amazon Metadata:

·  Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 1152 pages

·  ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0877791511

·  ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0877791515

·  Publisher ‏ : ‎ Merriam-Webster, Inc.; Second Edition (October 1, 2012)

Check out other entries in the Writer’s Bookshelf series here.

Thanks again for sticking with this series. The next bonus episode will be released on the first Friday of December. See you then.

Don’t forget to like, subscribe, comment, and do all of the things that convince me you like this kind of information and want more like it.

NaNoWriMo 2021 Scrivener Template Update

I’m not sure if you own a calendar or if you do all of your day tracking on your phone or computer (I’m in the latter camp, unfortunately), but you may have noticed that November is coming. And if you’re an avid writer of all things writerly, then you’re probably aware of the big event for writers that happens in November.

Yes, I’m talking about none other than fall blockbuster movie season!

This year we get some Dune, and some Eternals, and some GHOSTBUSTERS!!! And some, well, other stuff I guess, and then there’s…

What? What’s wrong?

Oh! Yeah, I stuck a NaNoWriMo image at the top of this article, didn’t I? And the title kinda suggests that this is about NaNoWriMo 2021, or National Novel Writing Month (2021) for those who stumbled across this site because I mentioned GHOSTBUSTERS!!!

Another year, another NaNoWriMo

Well, for those who plan to participate this year, it’s worth noting that I have a special NaNoWriMo inspired template for Scrivener on this site. And for those who have already discovered this, it’s worth noting that I’ve just updated it for 2021 to include a “Continuation By Scene” folder, which I actually added for my own project last year but never updated the template with it, and a few labels and status markers for document notecards.

So, if you haven’t started your NaNoWriMo project yet, and you plan on using Scrivener to write it, then head on over to my templates page and give it a download. Once you open it, you’ll find complete instructions on how best to use it inside.

Just remember, if you plan to reuse the template next year, then you’ll want to “Save As” your novel’s name or “NaNoWriMo 2021,” which is what I’ll probably do for mine.

Oh, and do me a favor. If you use it, tell me how it works out for you. People download it without ever talking to me. I like to know if this stuff is helpful. Thanks and enjoy and good luck in reaching your targets this year!

The Writer’s Bookshelf: Recommended References and Writing Resources (Episode 46: Discussing “Troubleshooting Your Novel” by Steven James)

Title Image for The Writer’s Bookshelf Episode 46

So, you think you’re finished with your magnum opus? Think again. Maybe go back through it. Just make sure you didn’t accidentally name your hero “Jack” in one scene and “Jill” in another. What was that? He had dark hair in one chapter and blond in another? Is he a spy? And what about that dog? Is its name also “Jack,” or did you get your wires crossed again (or is your hero sometimes a human and sometimes a dog)?

Welcome back to The Writer’s Bookshelf. Today, we’re looking at Troubleshooting Your Novel, Steven James’s follow-up to his excellent book for organic writers (I refuse to call them pantsers), Story Trumps Structure.

In this book, you can learn how to take your messy masterpiece and clean it up, fixing broken plot points, identifying shifts in message, and otherwise taking that rough piece of clay that resembles a novel and chipping away the rough edges (or maybe lob some chunks off) until something smooth and beautiful emerges.

You can check out my video for it here. And don’t forget to check out Steven James’s other book when you get a chance.

Troubleshooting Your Novel: Essential Techniques for Identifying and Solving Manuscript Problems

by Steven James


Amazon Metadata:

·  Paperback : 360 pages

·  ISBN-10 : 1599639807

·  ISBN-13 : 978-1599639802

·  Publisher : Writer’s Digest Books (September 20, 2016)

Check out other entries in the Writer’s Bookshelf series here.

Oh, and before I forget to tell you, this episode marks the end of our weekly Season 2 episodes. That means there won’t be any new craft books to review next week. But don’t worry, I still have five episodes left in the planner for our season bonuses, which will begin November 4th, and cover more practical items like specialized dictionaries and word usage guides.

Season bonuses traditionally air on the first Friday of each month, so I plan to release a new Writer’s Bookshelf episode every first Friday until March 2022. At that point, Season 2 will officially end (although I may still do a recap episode like I did for the first season).

Regarding the start of Season 3, I don’t yet have a schedule in mind. But I doubt it’ll happen before May 2022. Season 2 hasn’t been nearly as followed as Season 1 (in fact, every book I thought would be in demand turned out to be my least viewed episodes), so I think it’s time to cool it down a bit. Not to mention, I need a break from reading craft books. I definitely want to get my slate for Season 3 together—some important ones on that list—but I also want to make sure my reviews are useful to you, and that means refreshing my head a bit. So, May 2022 will likely be the earliest we launch the next season.

But that’s also good news for you because it gives you time to catch up with the books you haven’t read yet. So, go ahead and catch up. You’ve got seven months.

See you in November!

Don’t forget to like, subscribe, comment, and do all of the things that convince me you like this kind of information and want more like it.

The stuff that keeps me awake at night.