Wednesday, March 30, 2011

How I Procrastinate

So we talked about the importance of contact buttons and how to install them on your blog here. Then I held a little contest for a custom button, which Angela won. (Yea, Angela!) And since I was supposed to be working on my writing, I made these:

I set up a page here with code for each one, if you'd like to use one for your blog. And if you decide to use one and you want to leave me a link in the comments, I'd love to see them out there in the world. ;)

So, what do you do to procrastinate? Any exciting happenings that I missed while I was unplugged?

And there's still time to enter my Awesome Followers Giveaway. Don't miss it! :)

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


I'm totally into my rewrite right now, so I'm unplugging for the next week and a half. I'll be back March 27th for my blog chain post and then back to the regular schedule on the 28th.

And in case you missed it, I'm having a book giveaway. Be sure to check it out! :)

Happy writing, everyone!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Awesome Followers Giveaway!!!

I've been a bit of a slacker lately when it comes to blogging, but still you all stop by and comment and I think you're all just awesome so I thought a giveaway was in order to show you all how much I appreciate you! :)

So what am I giving away? Well, do you remember these?

One lucky winner will get these fabulous glowy pens plus these awesome books!

by Scott Westerfeld

A SIGNED copy of
by Ellen Hopkins

by Ally Condie

Across the Universe
by Beth Revis

Going Bovine
by Libba Bray


The Forest of Hands and Teeth
by Carrie Ryan

To enter you must be a follower. Leave me a comment for +1 entry. For additional entries:
  • +1 new follower
  • +3 current follower
  • +5 blog about the giveaway
  • +2 tweet it @abbyannis (This can be repeated once a day for additional points. Just make sure you tell me about it so you get all your points.)
  • +2 Facebook it (Once a day on this one too. Make sure you tell me each time.)
  • +2 sidebar it
  • +1 for totalling it for me :)
Be sure to leave me links if you blog, tweet, Facebook or put it on your sidebar. Open in the US only. Sorry to all my international friends! Contest ends Friday, April 15th at midnight PST.

And I think that's it! If we get enough entries, I'll add another prize. We'll see how it goes. :)

Contact Button Winner!!

And the winner of a custom contact button is...

Congratulations, Angela Scott!!

Send me an email by clicking on my contact button in the left sidebar and we'll get started. :)

More giveaway news coming soon....

Winner Coming Soon....

I thought I would have more time this morning--stupid Daylight Savings Time--but I will post the winner of the custom contact button later today. I'll also be posting about my book giveaway, so be sure to check back. :)

In the mean time, I'm wondering, is there anyone out there who likes DST? I got along just fine without it in Arizona, so now that I'm living in a state that participates in it, I think it should go away forever. Honestly, I hate it and really don't understand the point.

Any thoughts? I'd love to hear a good argument in favor of DST. Or if you just want to vent about the sheer stupidity of it, that's cool too. :)

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Word Tip Wednesday: Find and Replace

This is another one of the basics, but I've found it very helpful during revisions. Especially for highlighting all of my "favorite" words so I can get rid of them. :)

If you're curious about which words you might be overusing, and are both good resources for this.

The Find and Replace buttons are on the far right under the Home tab.*

Clicking Find brings up this window. You can get to Replace by clicking the Replace button under the Home tab or if you're already in Find and Replace, you can just select the Replace tab in this window.

To get a word count for a specific word, type the word you're looking for in the "Find what:" box and select "Main Document" under the Find in menu. This will also allow you to visit each instance of the word individually by clicking Find Next repeatedly until you've gone through the whole document.

Personally, I prefer to select "Highlight All" from the Reading Highlight menu. This highlights all the instances of the word, including those in the middle of another word (I'll show you how to eliminate this in just a minute). Doing it this way allows you to highlight multiple words (repeat above steps for each word) and it also allows you to close the Find and Replace window and just go through your document as you normally would.

When you're done, select "Clear Highlighting" from the Reading Highlight menu to remove all the highlighting from the document. You shouldn't have to do each word individually.

Most of the time, you probably won't want it to include parts of words as it did above. To eliminate this issue, click on the More >> button in the bottom left corner of the Find and Replace window to give yourself more search options. The More >> button becomes the << Less button when it is selected and vice versa.

All the options are pretty much what they sound like they are.
  • Match case will find uppercase or lowercase versions of the word according to how you entered it in the "Find what:" box.
  • Find whole words only eliminates the issue of it finding parts of words.
  • Use wildcards allows you to type only part of the word with special characters to broaden your search. For example, you can use "?" for any missing letters. "j??t" will find all four letter words starting with "j" and ending in "t". You can also add a * to the word, like "j*t" and it will find words beginning with "j" and ending in "t" with no limit on the number of letters in between. With the * it also finds sentences or parts of sentences beginning with "j" and ending with "t", so this may be too broad for most searches. There are other options under the Special button at the bottom of the Find and Replace window. 
  • Sounds like will find words that are spelled similarly or have the same sound. I don't use this one much, so I'm not familiar with its limitations.
  • Find all word forms will find different forms of a word. So if you search for "their" it will find "their", "them", "they", etc. Again, not one I use much, so I'm not familiar with its limitations.
  • Match prefix will find all words with your search word at the beginning of the word. So if you search for "for" it will find "for", "forever", "forget", etc.
  • Match suffix is the same as "Match prefix", it just finds your search word at the ends of words throughout your document.
  • Ignore punctuation characters I've yet to find a use for this one, so if anyone has any input, please share.
  • Ignore white-space charaters will let you search across words, so if your did a search for "mental" it would find "moment all". Make sense?
The Format button at the bottom has options for finding specifically formatted text.

The Special button at the bottom has options for finding things that don't have visible characters, like tabs (^t), paragraph marks (^p), etc. What comes up under this button is different if the Use wildcards box is selected. I don't think I've ever used these with the Find feature, but I use them all the time with Replace.

The Replace menu is a little different from the Find menu. I use this mostly for formatting changes and name change.

It's a pretty simple process. Just type the word (or characters) you want to replace in the "Find what:" box and the new word (or characters) in the "Replace with:" box. Then select Replace to replace the words one at a time or you can just select Replace All and it will replace all instances of the word and give you count of how many words were replaced.

Make sure you select Find whole words only or you'll end up with some made up looking words in your manuscript. Like, if you're replacing the name Jack with Bob, you may get things like Bob-o-lantern and carBobing. :)

This feature is so helpful if you need to do a quick formatting change to make your manuscript more blog or email friendly. First do a select all (ctrl+a) to highlight all the text or highlight the text you want to change. Then select the Paragraph menu under the Page Layout tab and change your Line spacing to single.

Then fill out the Replace menu to match this and click Replace All.

If you use a formatted indent instead of a tab at the beginning of your paragraphs, you'll need to change the Left indentation to 0" under the Paragraph menu (see above). In this case your Replace menu should look like this:

This should give you a single spaced document with a space between each paragraph and no indentations, which is the most reader friendly for the web.

You may find that Blogger likes to add extra spaces between paragraphs with this formatting. If this is the case, try this instead. Set your spacing after your paragraphs to 12pt in the Paragraph menu.

And your Replace menu:

Remember that whether you use the ^t character or not will depend on your indentation formatting, so remove that from the "Find what:" box if necessary.

So hopefully that's not too confusing. Let me know if you have any questions in the comments.

Any of you using this already? Any suggestions for using this feature?

More Word tips posts here

*MS Word 2007

And there are still a few days to enter my contest for a custom contact button!

Monday, March 7, 2011

MUG Monday: Descent Snippet

It's been a while since I've posted a snippet of my writing, so I thought I'd share the opening of my YA SciFi WIP, Descent. This is just the first draft, so the opening will most likely change at some point, but for now, this is where it begins. :)


“Luke.” The name popped out of my mouth as I was about to shove in a forkful of eggs. I couldn’t stop a grin. “My name is Luke.”
Mrs. Bingham jumped out of her seat with a squeal. The tight, black curls covering her head remained oddly still, especially in contrast to the rest of her, which did a fair amount of shaking as she bounced up and down, clapping her hands. “Luke. Oh, I knew your name would fit you perfectly.” She yanked me out of my chair and into a tight hug. “I was just thinking you might be ready to start school. But now I’m sure of it.”
Of course. Now I was psychologically ready to reenter the world. Because that was my biggest problem—remembering my name. Never mind that everything else about me had been sucked into a mental black hole. Well, except for the flying, but I stopped bringing that up after the social worker decided I needed to spend more time with the counselor.
Ethan flounced into the kitchen and dropped into a chair. “What’s with all the noise? You finally win the lottery, Mrs. B?”
Mom,” she said and gave him a fake scolding look. Ethan had been adopted by the Binghams over a year ago, but he still refused to call her Mom. Mrs. B nodded toward me with a smile. “Congratulate your brother, Ethan. He remembered his name.”
Ethan wasn’t my brother any more than Mrs. B was my mother, but anyone could tell that. Where Ethan was light, I was dark. And though we were both on the shorter side of tall, Ethan looked like a body builder—without spending any time in the gym—and I could hide behind a light pole. Or as Mrs. B put it, Ethan was football, and I was basketball. Even though neither of us played sports. Not that I remembered, anyway.
“Really? So you’re not John Doe? You think you know a person.” Ethan shook his head, but a smile crept onto his face. “Seriously, man. That’s awesome. So…” He stared at me. “Do I get to know your real name, or is that top secret too, like… that other thing?”
“Dude. Shut. Up,” I said and kicked him under the table.
“You still on that flying thing?” Mrs. B put her hands on her hips and raised her eyebrows. “Maybe school’s not the best thing for you yet.”
“No.” I shot Ethan a glare. “I know I can’t fly.” With Mrs. B, sometimes it was easier to just tell her what she wanted to hear.
Thanks for reading!
And don't forget about my contest. It ends Saturday, so you still have a few days left to enter. :)

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Blog Chain: Never Give Up, Never Surrender

Blog chain time again! Sarah started this round. She asked:

What has been the most unexpected part of your writing journey up to this point? What has happened that you could never have predicted? Has it been a help or a hindrance?

I live under the delusion that everything I do will be perfect the first time. Why should I need to practice or work to make myself better? Everything should be easy. And if it's not, I almost always quit. No, I take that back. Other than writing, I have always quit. Whether from boredom because I feel like I've mastered all I can master, frustration because I can't do something perfectly, or just plain laziness, I always quit--cross stitching, crocheting, knitting, sewing, scrapbooking, digital scrapbooking, college, I could go on forever....

Then I started writing.

And writing is hard, like, titanium hard. Perfection pretty much impossible. Like you didn't know that already. ;) But even after nearly two and a half years of working seriously toward publication, I'm still chugging along with no plans of quitting. That's way longer than I've ever stuck with anything. So, the most unexpected part for me has to be realizing I'm actually capable of following through on something. I'm not a career quitter. Woohoo! ;)

And I never could've predicted how many awesome people I would meet along the way. Some I've come to think of as my close friends, even though we haven't met in real life--yet. :). This journey would be so much more difficult without their love and support, and without the amazing blogging community I get to be a part of. So, definitely a help.

What about you? What has been the most unexpected part of your writing journey? Anything that has happened that you didn't predict?

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

And don't forget about my contest. There's still plenty of time to enter. :)