Monday, February 28, 2011

Mishmash Monday: Contact Button and a Contest!!

Changing up the schedule this week. Since I have my blog chain post on Wednesday, I won't be doing my regular WTW post. So today I thought I'd do kind of a combo post. Writing and techie stuff--two of my favorite things. Aren't you excited? ;) I'll try to keep it short.

And I guess, technically, this isn't directly related to writing, but if you're looking to get published someday, it's something to think about.

After this post from Meredith Barnes, assistant to the sharkly--and possible mind reader--Janet Reid, I realized that since I changed my layout, I no longer had a contact button on my blog. Sure, you can get to my email through my Blogger profile, but according to Meredith,

Now, I don't expect to be contacted anytime soon (or ever) but it couldn't hurt. And if my email is accessible, you all can email me about WTW stuff if you have questions or features you want covered. Or whatever you want to email me about. :)

These directions are for Blogger, since that's what I'm familiar with.

Adding a contact button is pretty simple. First, upload the image you want to use to the image hosting site of your,, etc.--and copy the direct link code for the image.

Under the Design tab then Page Elements in Blogger, click on Add a Gadget and select HTML/JavaScript. Copy and paste this code into the box.

<img src=""/></a>

Make sure you update the links to show your email address and your image. Also, you have the option to add a title to the gadget, if you want, but it's not necessary. Then, just click SAVE, move the gadget to where you want it in your layout, and you're done. Easy, right?

The code above is for this image, which I'm happy to share. :)

But, since you guys are so awesome, I'm having a little contest.

The prize: A custom made button for your blog!

I can tailor it to match your blog, use an image or font of your choice, or whatever you want. I am limited by my Photoshop, since I don't have a full program (PS Elements 7--I want CS5 so bad), and everything I know is self-taught from years of fiddling with the program, but if you're the winner, I'll do my best to give you exactly what you want.

To enter, you must be a follower:
  • +1 Leave a comment on this post
  • +2 Current follower
  • +1 New follower
  • +5 Blog about it
  • +2 Tweet @abbyannis Win a custom-made contact button for your blog!
  • +2 Facebook
  • +2 Sidebar
  • +1 for adding it all up for me :)

Open internationally. Contest ends Saturday, March 12th at midnight PST. Winner will be announced Monday, March 14th, at which time I will also be announcing the HUGE CONTEST (books, books, books) I've been planning for a while. Be sure to check back for that.

So, what do you all think? Is having an easily accessible email important?

Friday, February 25, 2011

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Word Tip Wednesday: Compare and Combine

Before we get started, there's a great post over on the LiyanaLand blog building off my last Word Tip Wednesday post on styles and document map. She's got step-by-step instructions on setting up a template for your manuscripts. It's a great post and very informative. Click here to check it out. :)

Okay, today we are talking about the Compare and Combine features. Great for when you want to compare a new version of your manuscript to an old one and for when you have several crits on the same manuscript and you don't want to mess with keeping track of multiple documents as you're doing revisions.

It's under the Review tab.*

Click the Compare button and select Compare or Combine in the menu that pops up. The two are very similar. The only difference that I've been able to find is in how the Track Changes appear within the merged document.

Compare (legal blackline) merges two versions of a document and notes any changes that have been made. This option will force you to accept any Track Changes and it will note you as the author of those changes--great for comparing old and new versions of your manuscript. But if you're trying to compare critique notes from other people and you want to keep track of who the author is for any track changes, you'll want to select the Combine option, which basically does the same thing without affecting track changes. And if your settings are set up correctly, each author will show up as a different color.

So, to put it simply, Compare works best if you are the author of all the changes in the documents you are comparing. Combine is the better choice if there are multiple authors of changes and comments.

I'll show you how to do it using the Combine menu, but the menus for either option are pretty much identical.

Select the pull down arrow under "Original document" and "Revised document" one at a time. You should have a list under each with your most recent documents and an option to Browse.

Once you have selected your documents, you can adjust the "Comparison Settings" according to what you want to compare. I just leave them all checked and keep the default settings in the "Show changes" section at the bottom. You can play around with them to see what you prefer. Note: Selecting to have it show changes in the original or revised document will change the selected document.

After you select OK, this may pop up. Just select the document you want to use for the formatting and select "Continue with Merge".

And your document should show up looking something like this (click to enlarge):

Without the blurring and the big cut down the middle, of course. :) You can open the reviewing pane (on the left) by clicking the Reviewing Pane button under the review menu. The pull down menu gives you the option to have the pane appear vertical (left side of screen) or horizontal (bottom of screen).

If the comments and changes are all showing up as the same color regardless of author, go into your Track Changes settings (steps to get there are here) and change the color selections in the "Markup" and "Formatting" sections to match this:

And that should fix it. :)

So, who's using this already? Anything you want to add? Any questions? Was I unclear or confusing? Let me know in the comments and I'll try to clarify.

More Word tips posts here

*Microsoft Word 2007

Monday, February 21, 2011

MUG Monday: They're Just Jealous of My Awesomeness

Having recently come to terms with a very honest critique, this post seemed appropriate, especially since I now feel like my story is going to be so much stronger because of that crit. Seriously, there is nothing more valuable than a critter who knows what to look for and isn't afraid to tell you exactly what isn't working. I am truly blessed to have received feedback from some of the best. :)

This is a pretty typical response pattern for me when I get one of those honest critiques. Okay, so maybe I exaggerated the experience, just a little. ;) Enjoy!



What?! But… but I’m AWESOME!!! How could they say such horrible things?


They’re wrong. It’s perfect the way it is. There’s nothing they can say that will make me believe it needs to be changed. I write beautiful words. Exquisite words!


How dare they?! How. Dare. They! Pssssh! They’re just jealous they can’t be as awesome as I am. Pathetic. *flips hair and rolls eyes* Just pathetic.


Wait. That comment kind of makes sense. And that one. Why didn’t I see that? It’s so obvious!! Oh, this is so humiliating. Now EVERYONE knows what a horrible writer I am. How will I ever show my face on the blogosphere again? I’m going to hide under my desk.


I suck! Big time. Nothing I write will ever be good enough. I should just give up now and save myself any more humiliation. Miss H.H. Writerlady is so much better than me, and she always leaves such encouraging and insightful comments. Why can’t I write like her? I’ll never get an agent. I’ll never get published. I’m just going to stay under my desk and listen to Evanescence’s My Immortal over and over on my iPod. Just leave me alone and let me wallow in peace. Sniff. Don’t judge me. You have no idea how hard it is to be a writer! WAAAH!


Sniff. I’m hungry. I need chocolate. And Dr. Pepper. I guess I can sit in the chair. It’s more comfortable than the floor. *wiggles the mouse* Hmm. Maybe this isn’t all crap. Maybe I don’t totally suck. Sniff.


I guess if I moved this section and tweaked that, it would all flow better. And that is kind of confusing, but I can fix that. No problem. Sorry, beloved scene, beloved chapter, beloved first thirty pages. Looks like we’re better without you. Don’t cry. I’ll miss you too. *wipes a tear* Huh. Wow. This is so much better than it was before. Thank you, critters! Without you, my work never could have been this great! I am a good writer. I will get an agent. I will get published. Because I’m AWESOME!! Of course. ;D

Who's with me? ;)

*pulled from this Sept 2009 post

Saturday, February 19, 2011

No More Red

The red was getting to be a bit much, so I changed the blog again. This one's less intense and has a springtime feel to it. :)

What do you think? Better? Worse? Too cutesy?

Friday, February 18, 2011

Blog Chain: Literary Love

This post was supposed to be up yesterday, but yesterday was crazy and I forgot. So I'm late, again, but I'm here. This chain was started by Shaun, who asked:

Who is your favorite literary couple and why?

This one shouldn't have been so hard for me to answer. I love a story with a good romantic angle, but for some reason, I really had to search for my answer.

Other than Katniss and Gale :(, the one that really sticks out in my mind is Violet and Jay from THE BODY FINDER by Kimberly Derting. I love the sweet innocence of their relationship. There's no "Oh, we're both so hot, why aren't we making out?" element. It's starts out as friendship and slowly builds into something more. Much more believable than all the lust-filled romances out there. So since I love their relationship so much, it makes perfect sense that this is one of my favorite books. And the cover's pretty too. :)

So, who is your favorite literary couple? Any aspects of a relationship that have to be there for you to love it?

Be sure to check out Christine's post from yesterday, and Kat's post, which, since I'm a slacker, is up today and ready for your reading pleasure. :)

Have a great weekend!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day and Unplugging

Happy Valentine's Day! Hope your day is filled with love and happiness. :)

Just FYI, I set up a page for my Word Tip Wednesday posts and added a link to the menu at the top of this page. Everything I've covered so far is listed there. And if you have any questions or topics you'd like me to post on, you can leave a comment there and I'll do my best to answer/post on them.

Also, lots of non-writerly things to do this week so I'm taking a break. I'll be back for my blog chain post on Thursday, then back to the regular schedule next week.

Have a great week, everyone! :)

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Word Tip Wednesday: Styles and Document Map

I figured out this cool tip from this post by MG Higgins. Thanks, MG!

Today's tool is a little more complicated to set up, but once it's set up, it'll save a lot of time on formatting and your manuscript will be so organized. Hopefully, I can explain it clearly.  :)

First, you'll want to make sure you've put in a Page Break at the end of each chapter. It's under the Insert tab.* Just place your cursor after the last punctuation at the end of your chapter and click Page Break.

This will insert a clean break between chapters that won't be changed if you add or remove text from the document. Well, unless you delete the Page Break, and in that case, you'll have to insert a new one.

Update: You can also insert a page break by typing CTRL+RETURN/ENTER. Thanks, Stina Lindenblatt, for sharing! :)

So, now that that's in place you can create a new style for your chapter heading. It's under the Home tab.

Select your chapter heading within the document and click on the arrow in the bottom corner of the Styles box.

This window will pop up. Select the button in the bottom left hand corner.

This window will pop up so you can create a new style for your chapter headings.

These are the settings I use, but you can adjust them according to your own preferences. The only thing I recommend is that you make sure the "New documents based on this template" circle is selected. That way you don't have to do this every time you start a new document. :)

My settings center the chapter title in bold about a third of the way down the page and leave a couple of lines between the chapter title and the first paragraph of the chapter. It's also set to automatically insert a page break before the chapter title so you can skip the page break step we discussed earlier if you set your Chapter Headings style to do it.

Most of the changes can be made in this window, but not all. To change the spacing before and after your chapter title, click the Format button in the bottom left hand corner of the Create New Style window and select Paragraph. This window will pop up.

Change your spacing by adjusting the numbers under spacing. These are the numbers I use, but you can play around with until it looks right to you.

Note: It is important that your Outline Level is set to Level 1. This affects how it appears in Document Map--we'll get to this in just a minute.

Click on the Line and Page Breaks tab and select "Page break before" to have it automatically insert a page break before your chapter title.

Note: Your "Widow/Orphan control" button is probably selected automatically. Whether or not you keep this on is a personal preference. This is what makes your text hop to the next page if there's only one or two lines from that paragraph on the page. I guess this is to keep the paragraphs all together with their families (no widows or orphans). ;) It annoys me, so I always turn it off.

Once you've set all your settings according to your preferences, click OK on all the boxes to close them.

Now, all you have to do to format your chapter headings throughout your document is select each one individually and click on the Chapter Headings button that should now appear in the Styles box under the Home tab.

If you ever need to modify the settings, simply click the arrow in the bottom right hand corner of the Styles box to bring up the styles menu. Click the pull down arrow next to Chapter Headings, select Modify and you can make any adjustments there just as you did when you created the style.

You can also adjust your Normal settings (the default formatting settings for a new document) by following the same steps, except instead of selecting the arrow next to Chapter Headings, you would select the arrow next to Normal.

Okay, now that all your chapter titles are formatted, go to your View menu and select Document Map.

That will bring up this on the left side of your screen.

Obviously, it will list your chapter titles, not mine, but it works as a table of contents to allow you to go to any chapter you need to without scrolling through the whole document. Pretty cool, huh?

And if you click on the pull down arrow next to Document Map, you can select Thumbnails to see thumbnails of all your pages. I like that I can quickly check the appearance of all the formatting this way and check for rogue blank pages. And I think it looks really cool, because it makes it look like a real book. :)

Wow. That was way longer than I thought it would be, but hopefully it helps some of you. If you have any questions or my explanations confused you more than helped you, please let me know in the comments and I'll try to be clearer. :)

So, how many of you are already using these features? Anybody use these features for anything else? Anything you want to add?

More Word tips posts here

*Microsoft Word 2007

Monday, February 7, 2011

MUG Monday: Breaking Through the Wall

Since I whined about it A LOT, many of you know how much I struggled with my internal editor on my rewrite of Embrol. She just wouldn't shut up about everything I was doing wrong--a misplaced comma here, not showing enough emotion there, blah, blah, blah--and it was totally holding me back. So much so, I started to think I'd never finish that stupid rewrite.

It was giving me a major case of writer's block. I tried everything I could think of. Muscling through, taking a break, working on something else, just to name a few, but nothing worked.

Until I found the perfect solution....

Are you ready for it? It could revolutionize your writing process.

Here it is. Try not to be too overwhelmed.




Okay, so it's not that spectacular or innovative, but it's amazing how much it has helped me shut up my internal editor. I wrote the last third of my draft in a matter of weeks after fighting with the internal editor for months. Apparently, it's more important to her that I get it perfect the first time when I'm typing it into a word processing program--where I can easily change anything with a few keystrokes--than when I'm writing with permanent ink on paper that can't be reused. I think there's something wrong with her. ;)

So, what about all of you? What do you do when you're stuck? Any tricks that work every time?

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Blog Chain: Networking

This chain was started by Amanda. She asked:

Are you a good social networker? What aspect of platform building do you focus on the most? Which aspects freak you out?

I am not a good social networker. This is definitely an area I can improve in.

My focus is usually on blogging, though I'm still kind of working my way back into that right now. I've done a little with Facebook and a teeny tiny bit with Twitter, but it's been difficult to get into those.

I always feel like I'm coming into a party that's already started, especially with Twitter. All the people there seem really nice, but I don't really know any of them very well, so I just lurk in the corner, watching and listening, like a creepy stalker.

So, yeah, the putting-myself-out-there aspect would have to be what freaks me out the most about social networking. But I'm not even querying yet, so I still have time to work on that. :)

What about you? Are you a good social networker? What do you love/hate about it?

Be sure to check out Christine's post from yesterday and Kat's post tomorrow. :)

Friday, February 4, 2011

Totally Random Friday: My Addiction and a Contest

I feel like I should be in some sort of addiction support group.

Hi, my name is Abby, and I'm an addict.

I feel off the wagon last night and worked on Embrol. And now I'm feeling guilty.

It just keeps popping into my head and I have a lot of thinking time at work, so it's hard to ignore it. I should be thinking about my shiny new project, but my first born is feeling neglected, demanding my attention.... All just excuses, I know.

And I have no self control. There's no hope for me. *sigh*

In other more interesting news....

Tere Kirkland is holding her second annual Carnival Time Celebration! She's giving away some awesome goodies, and if she reaches 300 followers, she'll pick TWO winners! Be sure to check it out! :)

Happy Friday, everyone!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Word Tip Wednesday: Comments

If you missed last week's post on Track Changes, you can check it out here. :)

Commenting is another of my favorites features in Word. Like Track Changes, the day I discovered this feature, the world got a little brighter. ;)

It's under the Review tab.*

And it's very simple to use. Just highlight the text you want to comment on and click on the New Comment button. A comment bubble will pop up on the right side of the screen, like this:

Then you just type your comment in the bubble. This makes your comments much more visible and since you're not typing in line, you don't have to worry about changing the text color. Any steps that can be eliminated equal time saved.

Comments can be deleted by selecting the comment you want to delete and either clicking on the Delete button next to the New Comment button or by right clicking the comment and selecting Delete Comment.

You can show and hide all of your Track Changes and Comments by clicking on the arrow next to Final Showing Markup and selecting one of the options.

Or by clicking on the arrow next to Show Markup and checking or unchecking the items you want to show or hide.

Keep in mind that until you go through and accept or reject each Track Change and delete all your comments, they will show up in the document. So make sure you take care of this before sending your work out to an agent or anyone you don't want to see them.

Rejecting and accepting Track Changes can be done by right clicking the change and selecting reject or accept. This is a pretty tedious process, and as far as I know, it's the only way to eliminate all of them. But it's well worth it to make sure your prospective agent recieves a nice, clean document from you. If anyone knows a faster way to do this, please let us know in the comments. :)

How many of you are already using this? Anybody have anything to add?

More Word tips posts here

*Microsoft Word 2007