Thursday, October 30, 2014

NaNo Tracker 2014

I'm not able to participate in NaNo this year because we're buying a new house! There's just too much to pack and clean before its completion on December 1st. So overwhelming but so exciting. :)

Even though I'm not participating, I've adjusted my NaNo Tracker from last year to work for this year. If you're interested in using it to help track your NaNo progress, just click here to download the Excel 2007 and newer version.

If you would like the 97-2003 version, shoot me an email by clicking the button on the left or leave your email address in the comments and I'll send it to you. Just so you know, I got about a million compatibility warnings when I saved that version, so no guarantees it will work properly.

If you have issues getting the spreadsheet to work, please take a look at last year's post for more info or leave your questions in the comments.

Happy NaNoing, everyone! I hope you all reach your goals. :)
Want a spreadsheet to track your NaNoWriMo goals? Download one here from @abbyannis

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

LDStorymakers Conference Notes: Voice

Originally posted on the Operation Awesome blog, May 2014.

One of my favorite classes--it was so full I had to sit on the floor--was taught by Lisa Mangum (you can find her books here), called Voice: How to Make Your Manuscript Sing. These are my notes from the class.

Readers want to hear the story the way the author intended and not from anyone else.

What is voice? 
  • The quality that makes your writing unique, conveys the author's personality and attitude. 
  • The characteristic speech and thought patterns of a narrator.
What it isn't?
  • Style
What's the difference?
  • Voice = what you have to say
  • Style = how you choose to say it

My voice says "Love is eternal and the choices you make matter." You can say it in the style of a YA Romance or a horror novel about a serial killer. Same voice, different style.

Voice and style are different but more powerful when used together.
  • Voice = lyrics
  • Style = melody
Changing the style can help change how people hear your voice. If you pick the wrong style, your voice will be unbelievable.

Be selective about the words you give voice to and the words you use to showcase your style.

Quote from Gary Provost: "This sentence has five words." Read the full quote here.

It's all about perspective and what you focus on. I loved this example. :)

Choose wisely--The Details Matter

  • Pacing
  • Scenery
  • Dialogue
  • Characters
  • Narration
  • Action
Be intense--Evoke strong emotions
  • Pour yourself into it.
  • A book is based in emotion. A good book will inspire strong emotions in the reader.
  • It's hard to inspire strong emotions when you say it like everyone else says it. Push past cliches.
How do you feel?

Quote from Jeff Goins: "Pay attention to how you're feeling." You can read the full quote here and get some other great advise for finding your voice.

Strive for deep creativity.

Quote from Elizabeth Bluemle: "It's inspiring to come upon books that make something fresh of the same old words we all use." You can read the full quote and another great article on voice here.

Be Notorious
What are you know for? Homework.

  • Jot down five books you like to read. How are they alike and how are they different? What is it about them that intrigues you? Often what we admire is what we desire to be.
  • Describe yourself in three adjectives. Does your writing reflect that?
Be Genuine

Speak to word--the word is all of us
  • We are storytellers
  • Be brave enough to use your voice and say something
  • Find the right words and right style and your voice will ring clear and true
A Writer's Voice

Quote from Patricia Lee Gauch: "A writer's voice is not character alone, it is not style alone; it is far more.  A writer's voice line the stroke of an artist's brush- is the thumbprint of her whole person- her idea, wit, humor, passions, rhythms."  

Your Voice is Your Voice

Quote from Donald Maass, Writing the Breakout Novel: "To set your voice free, set your words free." You can read the full quote and an excerpt from the book here.

Practice, practice, practice and fail a lot. 

And that's it. I hope it was helpful to some of you. Be sure to check out Lisa's books and follow her on Twitter.

Thanks for reading! Anything anyone wants to add?

Monday, March 10, 2014

Changes Are Happening at Operation Awesome

Do you want to be part of the Operation Awesome team? We're looking for a new member. Go here for more details and info on how to apply.

Also, we're revamping the Mystery Agent contest and we'd love to get your input. Go here to take a short survey. You can also find the survey in the sidebar of the Operation Awesome blog.

Have a great week! :)

Monday, January 6, 2014

Words Per Day 2014 Spreadsheets

2015 Spreadsheet

The Words Per Day 2014 spreadsheets are finally finished! :)

I incorporated some of the features from the NaNo Tracker and added a few new features to make them easier to set up and use.

All the setup is done in one sheet. I created three versions so you can set one annual goal, monthly goals, or set a daily goal for each month. Whatever works best for you. :) All versions can be used on either an every day, Monday through Friday, or weekends only schedule. Just enter an X in the box next to the schedule you prefer and clear the other boxes.

Click images to enlarge.

Annual Goal:
Monthly Goal:

Daily Goal:

I've also included a WIP Calculator. The titles can be entered at the top for easy tracking, then enter your daily total word count and it will calculate words written for that day.

On the monthly entry pages, it will pull in/calculate your selected writing schedule, daily goal, weekly goal, and monthly goal. You'll only need to enter your daily words in the green column. It will also highlight the current day.

The Stats sheet shows your progress over the year.
And all sheets contain links for easy navigation within the workbook. :)

To download:

1.  Click one of the links below.

Annual Goal
Monthly Goal
Daily Goal

2.  After you click on a link, you will get something like this :

Click File and then click Download.

3.  Open the file.

Chrome: Click the button in the bottom left corner of your screen.

Internet Explorer: Click Open on the bar at the bottom of the window.

Firefox: Click OK in the window that pops up.

Once the file is open, you might need to enable editing. To do this, simply click the yellow Enable Editing button at the top of the spreadsheet. If you don't see this button, you don't need to do anything--you should be good to go.

4.  Don't forget to save your file when you're done. :) Also, Google Drive doesn't like 97-2003 format (xls). If you want the 97-2003 format (xls), leave me your email address in the comments or email me by clicking the button under "Email Me" on the left, and I'll send it directly to you. Just FYI, I don't have access to versions of Excel older than 2007, so I'm not sure how making the file 97-2003 compatible will affect the functionality.

The workbook and worksheet are protected to protect the structure and the formulas. Like the NaNo Tracker, I added a password to these ones because I put so much time into them. I'd like to keep my signature on them. I've been over them and tested them several times, but it's still possible I missed something. If you find any issues with them, please let me know and I'll make corrections.

If you want to share the files, please do. I just ask that you use the links below and that you give me credit, link back to my blog, and let me know in the comments or on Twitter @abbyannis. I'd love to check it out. :)

Annual Goal:
Monthly Goal:
Daily Goal:

Please note: If your computer is telling you it can only be downloaded as read-only, you probably need to save it to your computer, close it, and reopen it before it will let you make changes. If all else fails, leave me your email in the comments or click the email button on the left and I'll send it directly to you.

Mac Users: If you can't get it to download, please email me by clicking the button on the left or leave me your email in the comments. I'm happy to send it directly to you. If it's opening in read only, try the instructions found here: If that doesn't work, let me know what it's doing, what type of error messages you're getting, and I'll try to figure it out.

Any questions, please leave them below.

Happy writing! :)
Want a colorful spreadsheet to track your writing goals for 2014? Download one here from @abbyannis