Chrysalis: Emerging Women Writers

February 2, 2011

Nightime Inspirations

Filed under: Resources,Writing — Lisa Nowak @ 12:49 am
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I keep a notepad and a light-up pen beside my bed so I don’t have to get up or turn on the light when I get those night-time inspirations. I did some research, because many light-up pens are disposable. The pens at the link below have replaceable batteries. You can buy them in many colors, but I like red because it doesn’t interfere with your night vision. You have to buy a minimum of 12, but they make nice gifts for your writer friends. 🙂


January 7, 2011

Keeping Track of Time

Filed under: Resources,Technique — Lisa Nowak @ 9:32 am
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It’s important to have a clear sense of the passage of time in your book, but that can be difficult to do from notes. I find it easier to have a visual cue, so I use Excel to create a calendar with squares large enough in which to jot down major plot points. There are calendar-generating programs available as well.

You can also find calendars for past years online, which can be convenient if you’re writing historical fiction. The website below allows you to create calendars which include holidays and phases of the moon for different years in various countries.

Here’s a PDF of a blank Excel calendar page that you can print:  Blank Calendar

December 28, 2010

Let a Little Physical Activity Jog your Creativity

Filed under: Motivations,Resources,Technique,Writing — Lisa Nowak @ 11:24 am
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When I’m writing I sometimes have trouble getting the words to flow, but I’ve found that a little physical activity will jog loose those ideas. I bought a digital recorder to capture my inspirations, and now I carry it with me whenever I take a walk or a drive. The model I use is a Panasonic RR-US450. It allows you to store up to 99 files in each of its folders, and you have to make a conscious effort to erase one, so you can’t accidentally record over your old thoughts, the way you can with tapes. This machine comes with software that allows you to download your notes to a computer. The voice recognition feature isn’t the greatest, but I understand that you can use Dragon NaturallySpeaking once the files are on your computer. Even without that feature, keyboard commands allow you to stop and start the file so you don’t have to interrupt your typing to pause the recording. In addition, the recording reverses by several words when you resume playing, so if you’re a lousy typist like me, you can easily catch what you missed.

December 8, 2010

Making a Jpg from a Screenshot

Filed under: Resources,Technique — Lisa Nowak @ 11:07 am
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Over the past few years I’ve come up with a lot of shortcuts that help with writing. A blogging friend of mine,  Casey McCormick,  has a Tuesday Tips page which I’ve been submitting these to, but I thought the members of Chrysalis might benefit from them as well. I’ll start posting them here from time to time.

The first one isn’t a writing tip per se, but it is something I find helpful for blogging and other creative endeavors. With a PC there’s a simple way to create jpgs of anything you see on your screen without having special photo software. (You Mac people will have to figure out your own way to do it.)

First, locate the image you want to make a jpg of and bring it up on your screen. It can be anything on the Internet or your desktop, or even in Word (for example, I used this technique to create jpgs of two buttons on the Word toolbar). Next, press the “PrtScrn” key on your keyboard. It should be at the upper right, above the “Insert” key.

Now open a Word document and click “Paste” (or type control “V”). You should see a small replica of whatever was on your computer screen when you pressed the “PrtScrn” key. It may look too tiny to do anything useful with, but we’re not finished, yet.

To edit the picture, right click on it. From the menu choose “Show Picture Toolbar”. The Picture Toolbar should open somewhere on your screen. Click on the “Text Wrapping” tool that looks like a little dog. Select “In Front of Text” from the pull down menu. This will allow you to move the object around on the page independent of any text. It will help in the event that you’ve pasted more than one image into the document.Now click on the “Crop” tool, which looks like a couple of plus signs at an angle from each other. When you hover over the white adjustment squares at the edges of your image, you should see the cropping icon instead of the sizing arrow (if you don’t, click the Crop tool again). By dragging the white squares you can now crop the image.Once you’ve cropped your image, click somewhere outside it in the document to deselect the cropping tool. When you click on the image again, you’ll see that you’re back to the resizing tool. You can now drag the white squares at the corners of your image to enlarge it.

When you have the image formatted the way you want it, it’s time to save it as a jpg. I do this with Paint, a program that comes with your PC. You can open Paint by going to “Start” then “Programs” then “Accessories”. With Paint open, go back to your Word document, select your image, and copy it. Return to Paint and paste the image. (If your image is very small, you might need to reduce the size of the white background so it doesn’t show as part of the jpg. You do this by dragging the corners.)

Once you’re image is pasted to Paint select “Save As” from the File menu. When the Save Box pops up, it should direct you to the “My Pictures” file. If you want your image to go somewhere else, select the appropriate location. Now give the image a name in the “File Name” box at the bottom. Directly below that you’ll see the “Save as Type” box. From the pull down menu, select “jpg”. Now click “Save”. You now have a jpg of your image, which you can use the same way you’d use any jpg. Because you can use this method to make an image of anything you see on your computer screen, it’s a pretty powerful tool. When you can’t find any other way to save an image, this will get the job done. Naturally you’ll want to be aware of copyright law when using other people’s images.

October 1, 2010

Are You Up For NaNoWriMo?

Filed under: Motivations,Resources,Writing — K. @ 10:55 pm

Who’s with me? I’ve signed up for NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month, which starts November 1st. Thirty days, 50k words. My fingers will be flying. I think it will be the breakthrough I need, to get out of my monkey mind which immediately criticizes every word I set down. No time for critiquing, just get it down and collect the prize (the right to post a NaNoWriMo Winner badge on your blog).

I don’t know what I’ll be writing. I might pull out an abandoned WIP and rewrite from scratch. Or maybe a brand new idea will pop into my head and I’ll go with that. Just need to go with something.

~~~ Kathie

more blogging here

July 8, 2009

When Did It Pay to Sing in The Rain?


In a chapter that I’m writing, I have  2 characters gazing at  Orion at 2 in the morning.

Wait a minute.

Is Orion still overhead at that time?

I’d better go to:    and check it out.

This is a computational website. It gives you encyclopedic details that a writer would love to have, without spending hours in research.

No more plotting on old calendars. Now you know if April 14, 1982 was on a Wednesday or a Thursday. It will also tell you the weather on that day.

Do you need a growth chart for a child? Want to know the signal for “G” in morse code? Compare an SAT score?

How about some data on deaths for that murder mystery you’re concocting?

Need some research info for the freelance article you’re putting together?

Give it a try. It’ll have you “Singing in the Rain.” [ by Adlolph Green and Betty Comden; released 1952.  The Movie made $120,420]

Wolframalpha told me that computes to 235.1 million in today’s dollars (in case you wanted to know).

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