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Scrivener video training

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Do you use Scrivener to get your writing done or want to learn how to get the most out of what the software has to offer, then check out this training video: https://vimeo.com/132983281

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Free Workshop on getting published

Courtesy of Damian Lopes:

Barrie’s Culture Department is hosting a free workshop on how to get published on 18 May 2016. Topics range from placing pieces in magazines and journals, all the way to landing an agent and book contract, with some self-publishing, zine and micro press publishing thrown in. Though free, registration is required.

Join Alana Wilcox of Coach House Books, Bruce Meyer and me on 18 May!

Follow the link for more details: http://www.damianlopes.com/news/barrie-workshop-how-to-get-published-18-may/


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The 10 Commandments Of Basic Security: For Authors, Artists & Other Creatives Online by SM CADMAN

Note: The owner of Page to Pixels has closed his website as he’s taken on a new Social Media job, so I’m reposting my article from there here. Enjoy! 😉

The 10 Commandments Of Basic Security:
For Authors, Artists And Other Creatives Online

  1. Thou Shall Use Both An Antivirus And A Firewall, Paid Ones!

Use a paid Antivirus and Firewall. It will update regularly, keeping you protected from Zero-Day vulnerabilities and provides an extra layer of protection when surfing online. Are they fallible? Yes. But for the majority of regular users online, it will keep you and your machine and devices protected from most of the typical and damaging malware and viruses. Some Antivirus software such as Kaspersky will also keep you protected from nasty things like Rootkits and RAT’s (Remote Access Trojans). For another extra layer of protection, if on a Windows machine, keep UAC (User Account Control) enabled too. It keeps malicious software from modifying your system without your permission.

  1. Thou Shall Use Strong Passwords

A hacker once told me, “Your passwords should be like launch codes…” and I agree. They should contain (wherever possible) long strings of both upper case and lower case letters, digits and symbols such as #!&. Or use a string of four to five words, unrelated to one another but know that sometimes these types of passwords are vulnerable to Dictionary Attacks. Make a hard copy of all of your passwords, keep them up to date, a simple notebook will do, kept in a secure location. Change them every 3-6 months. If your machine is clean, malware and virus free, think about using a Password Keeper but also understand that they too can be vulnerable to attacks. Avoid Public Wi-Fi whenever possible, and make sure your home network is secure by choosing the most appropriate setting. If you must use Public Wi-Fi, make sure your settings on your computer and/or devices are set to Public to avoid sharing files on that network.

  1. Thou Shalt Not Reuse Passwords, For Goodness Sake!

Use a different password for every account and/or device you use or have. Yes. You must! It’s a pain in the ass but it’s worth it, so just do it.

  1. Thou Shall Regularly Backup Your Files To Either An External Drive Or Cloud

Remember to back up your files, such as media, documents, photographs and any software/applications you use frequently. Use an external, portable hard drive for added security if you don’t trust Cloud back up, flash drives for quick backups etc. Keep your passwords on Cloud backup secure by following the aforementioned advice.

  1. Thou Shall Keep All Of Your Software/Apps And Websites Updated

Make sure you regularly update your machine and software too. Choose automatic updates if less tech savvy. Always keep Flash updated and if you’re not using Java for gaming (Minecraft etc.) or keeping it up to date from previous versions, uninstall it. Also make sure your browser is updated too.  If you’re thinking about having a website and are not technically proficient, use a CMS (Content Management System) website provider such as WordPress.com that regularly updates your website’s security and includes a comment anti-spam features (like Askimet) that also protects you from attacks.

  1. Thou Shall Be Aware Of Phishing Attempts And Social Engineering

Phishing is a particular nuisance to those who use the Internet for business, such as writers, artists etc. Often it arrives in your inbox in the form of some job offer or some other product offered. Always check the email it was sent from, if you can see the source of it (some email providers, provide this service) examine it. Social Engineering can also take place in these malicious types of emails by trying to entice you to download certain documents, run programs or click on various links within these emails. Good rule of thumb is: Unless you know the person and they’ve made you previously aware of sending you such information, don’t download anything or open any links. Be suspicious and wary of links that even family and friends send you with jokes etc. Social Engineering is especially rampant on Social Media by using tactics such as, ego flattery, being overly friendly and even romance (specifically targeted at women) or just the opposite, abusive with you. In security, the weakest link in the chain is the human being. Kevin Mitnick was famous for exploiting human vulnerabilities. Good videos explaining this to the average user are:

The Dangers of Social Engineering at TEDx by Brian Brushwood:

Social Engineering – Don’t Trust Fancy Ties & Polished Lies by Enterprise Risk Management:

The Dangers of Social Engineering by NCMS Inc.:

  1. Thou Shalt Not Feed The Trolls, Stalkers, Script Kiddies And Hackers

They will lie, defame and are often downright delusional with accusations, anything to engage you. Why? Because they’re trolls. But don’t engage them. They use tactics such as shaming and doxing also. Often their motives are simple and for very selfish reasons, but the worst ones can have far-fetched vendettas about some innocuous thing you’ve said or think you may have done or wronged them by. Never be afraid to block them or even act bizarre (crazy*) in return to deter them and keep away from you. Blocking isn’t censorship on them, it’s giving you your freedom to go about your business online free from harassment. Their abuse is censorship on you. If it’s particularly bad, always take screen shots but never respond; log IP’s on your website with any explosive comments and don’t read them if they upset you. And never be afraid to seek out professional help if it gets out of hand.

  1. Thou Shalt Not Freak Out If Hacked On Social Media, Twitter Etc.

Most hacking of accounts on Social Media occurs because of these reasons:

-A compromised app, or bogus app

-Clicking on links, especially shortened URL’s without expanding them to see the link

-Visiting websites without being aware they’re logging your IP, or neglecting to scan the website first

Most malware and viruses are often dispatched in private messages and DM’s (Twitter, Direct Messages) via links or code dumped there, or links that lead you to re-log into your account. If you see strange code dumped on your feed or other nefarious posts shared by others on these platforms, never retweet them or repost them. Be wary of spam masquerading as actual posts or tweets too. Often times bots on Twitter will attach themselves to your account. Never follow back and block all bots if they follow. Do not retweet or follow any Follow Back Teams either. Signs of bots are: Never engaging in reciprocal conversations; timelines full of quotes and jokes, a sign of automation; and no favorites.

Resources and information:

To scan URL’s try, VirusTotal:
https://www.virustotal.com/
To expand URL’s try, LongURL:
http://longurl.org/

Does the Twitter Follower Scam Actually Work? by TrendMicro: http://blog.trendmicro.com/trendlabs-security-intelligence/does-the-twitter-follower-scam-actually-work/

Investigating Twitter Abuse, Part 1 by TrendMicro:
http://blog.trendmicro.com/trendlabs-security-intelligence/investigating-twitter-abuse-part-1/

Investigating Twitter Abuse, Part 2 by TrendMicro:
http://blog.trendmicro.com/trendlabs-security-intelligence/investigating-twitter-abuse-part-2/

  1. Thou Shall Be Choosy About The Media You Share Online

Not everything about you must be shared. Think Before You Post is a good way to stop and reconsider future repercussions about what you’re posting. Limit your media such as photographs too unless this is your business to do so. Understand that Cloud, devices, Social Media accounts even with extreme privacy measures set on can still be hacked by very obsessive, stalking hackers. Never store, take photos of yourself that you don’t wish to be shared or made public. Understand too that devices and computers with built in cameras are at risk also for being hacked. If you feel especially paranoid about this, tape up your cameras and never use them. Use a separate device/camera to take photos with. Make rules between friends and family to okay all media about you before they post it too. Know your boundaries and what you’re comfortable with and never be afraid or intimidated to enforce them with others.

  1. Thou Shalt Not Freak Out Even If This Still Happens To You, ‘I Was Still Hacked!’

It happens, even after following the most stringent routines with security. Know that it’s not your fault and it happens to thousands of people and businesses each day. Seek out professional help if you’re dealing with malware and virus and get help if you’re dealing with personal abuse too, especially with PTSD and depression as a result from it. This may be the case if it has been an especially virulent attack such as doxing or from cyberstalking. Know that you’re not alone and that you have just as much right to be online as anyone else too.

More Free Resources, For Anonymity When Surfing:

Info, VPNhttps://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/bb742566.aspx

Torhttps://www.torproject.org/

Orbot (For Mobile Devices, Android): https://www.torproject.org/docs/android.html.en

Proxy, HideMe: https://hide.me/en/proxy

Proxy, KProxy: https://www.kproxy.com/

Proxy, HideMyAss: https://www.hidemyass.com/proxy

Be Safe And Surf On! ~Sara 😉


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9 Tips For Writing Killer Fiction by SM CADMAN

Note: The owner of Page to Pixels has closed his website as he’s taken a new Social Media job, so I’m reposting my article from there here. Enjoy! 😉

9 Tips For Writing Killer Fiction
By SM CADMAN

  1. Understand That Most Good Fiction Follows A Succinct Formula

Read the most popular, best-selling fiction and you’re bound to notice a pattern: It always follows a succession of logical steps that know exactly how to hook you emotionally. This was first observed in early Greek tragedies and later seen within the works of William Shakespeare. Since then, many authors follow this distinctive formula known as Freytag’s Pyramid. Although many other formula’s exist, this one is most often used. Why? Because it’s tried, tested and true. It’s been around for centuries. It goes something  like this:

Exposition

The writer sets up the story, with important background information, such as: Setting, prior events, and the back story of characters.

Rising Action

The story sets up various related incidents for the reader, the reader then becomes ‘hooked’ into the story.

Climax

The epicentre of conflict where action begins, also the turning point for the protagonist(s) or characters.

Falling Action

The conflict between protagonist and antagonist unravels…

Dénouement (resolution, revelation or catastrophe) Old French: untying of the knot.

Comprises the events from falling action into resolution, or the ending.

2. Do Your Research

Trying to sell your fiction and/or submit it? Find out what some of the hottest genres are and upcoming genres about to break. Currently vampires are a dying species. Shades Of Grey-esque fiction is on its deathbed while Dystopian, Tech thrillers (hackers, hacking, cybercrime, cyber espionage) are on the rise, think Mr. Robot and Blackhat. The Internet and technology are evolving faster than we are and this could be both a profitable and prolific niche to write about. Thrillers like, The Girl On The Train are hitting all the right notes with readers. As always, Romance, from the super-cheesy Harlequin novels to Nicholas Sparks are still tugging at readers heartstrings everywhere. I also foresee Weird and Bizarro fiction becoming more mainstream in the near future as both authors and readers expand their limits of creativity, with writers such as Christoph Paul and his alter ego Mandy De Sandra leading the pack.

3. Challenge Yourself: Write What’s Interesting Not Just What’s Familiar

Have a keen interest in a particular subject? Take a chance; explore, learn about it then write it. Keep things like familiarity for working through problems your characters may encounter, only.  Often when you’re stuck with a piece of writing, this comes in handy. Have similar characters popping up in the same piece? Combine them and eliminate anything that doesn’t serve your story. Learn the skill of knowing what to keep and what to cut out. But always keep the cuts to refer back to later on or to use in other pieces.

4. Know Your Ending Before Your Beginning

You wouldn’t plan a vacation without knowing your destination, why would you write something without knowing how it will end? Although this hit and miss, laissez-faire attitude can work in life, it doesn’t necessarily translate well to the page. You have to know how it will end but your reader doesn’t need to know until that point. If plotting works for you, use it. If it doesn’t, don’t use it but always know your destination.

 5. Know What POV Is And Stick To It!

Rookie mistakes found in fiction often center around issues with the writer not understanding Point Of View and writing it effectively. This confuses readers and you’ll have editors and agents relegating your work to the slush pile if they see you don’t understand POV. Spend time learning it and then applying it to every piece you write. Your readers, editors, agents and publishers will appreciate it. And it keeps you from looking like a newbie.

6. Write In A Strong Voice

Know the difference between the Active and Passive Voice in writing. Learn to moderate between them effectively. The majority of fiction nowadays demands that you use an Active Voice. Even within academic and research writing, scientists and researchers are now being encouraged to use it to convey their work better. A simple formula for using both voices is below:

In the Active Voice, the subject comes first.

In the Passive Voice, the object comes first.

Formula for Active Voice:

Subject+Verb+Object

Formula for Passive Voice:

Object+To be+Past Participle [verb]+By+Subject.

Example:

Active: Anne eats pizza.

Passive: Pizza is eaten by Anne.

Active: Matt Haig wrote a book about Mental Illness.

Passive: A book was written by Matt Haig about Mental Illness.

7. Deliberately Write Flawed Characters

There’s no conflict or interest if your characters aren’t flawed in some way. It’s boring to the reader. People in life aren’t perfect, your characters shouldn’t be either. If it doesn’t specifically suit a particular character to be flawless, don’t write them that way!

8. Write The Stories YOU Want To Read

Often the stories that need to be told are the ones that are unique to you and your life experiences. Why? Because undoubtedly on this revolving ball of dirt, you’re bound to find many others who are looking to read the exact same things you’re interested in. If you don’t enjoy reading it, chances are you won’t enjoy writing it either. Know what you like and what you’re interested in then write it. The world is waiting to hear your story.

9. Above All Else, “Keep It Simple, Stupid!”

Use simple words that pack the most meaningful punch. Your writing shouldn’t need a dictionary, a thesaurus and Wikipedia just to digest it. It shouldn’t be about writing, it should about the story. Don’t fret about mistakes either. Everyone makes them. Anything on paper with enough good editing after can be easily fixed. Major on the major, Plot, POV etc., minor on the minor, spelling mistakes etc.. Don’t obsess about what others may think about you, your story or your writing, just write it. Often this is the main factor contributing to Writer’s Block. And the only way to get past it, is to stop worrying and just write.

~Sara


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The Basics Of Plot Structure: Freytag’s Pyramid In Fiction

Freytag's Pyramid

Graphic Of Freytag’s Pyramid¹

Freytag’s Pyramid or dramatic structure is the structure of either a piece of literary work (a book, a story or play) or even a film. Gustav Freytag arrived at creating this arc by examining Ancient Greek and Shakespearian dramas. But this arc can also be applied to many modern forms of fiction successfully too. He divided the parts of a drama into five acts or parts. They are:

Exposition
Where the writer sets up the story for the reader with important background information, such as: setting, prior events, and the back story of characters.

Rising Action
The story sets up various related incidents for the reader, generally where the reader becomes ‘hooked’ into the story being told.

Climax
The epicentre of conflict where action begins, also the turning point for the protagonist(s) or characters. Comparable to a punch line when a joke is told.

Falling Action
The conflict between protagonist and antagonist unravels…

Dénouement (resolution, revelation or catastrophe) Old French: untying of the knot.
Comprises the events from falling action into resolution, or the ending.

Below is a video and downloadable PDF graphics which discuss Freytag’s Pyramid:

Plot Structure, feat. Freytag’s Triangle

Downloadable Blank Worksheets PDF’s of Freytag’s Triangle

Blank Freytag’s Pyramid PDF 1

Blank Freytag’s Pyramid PDF 2

Enjoy and write on!
~Sara

¹Freytag’s Pyramid Arc. Graphic. Dr. Kip Wheeler. Freytag PDF. Carson-Newman College,  2003. Web. 18 Jul. 2015. ‹https://web.cn.edu/kwheeler/documents/Freytag.pdf

 


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Narrative Voice In Fiction: Part 2, Point Of View & The Basics Of Deep POV

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So I collected a number of videos about Narrative POV (Point Of View) from YouTube and also found some resources for Deep Narrative POV too.

Things to keep in mind when using Deep Narrative POV:

  1. The narrative removes the author from the story and creates intimacy; the character becomes the storyteller. The author’s voice becomes silent.
  2. The author never tells the character’s thoughts, feelings nor actions, this is left up to the reader to discern from showing these behaviors.
  3. Remove adverbs, such as ly words, this creates distance between the reader and the author. The author is then too visible.
  4. Also remember that writing in First Person Narrative doesn’t also constitute Deep Narrative POV, this can also be achieved using Third Person Narrative too.

In Deep Narrative POV also remember to remove:

  • All dialogue tags, such as: he/she/they said.
  • All sense verbs, “describe the sense itself”.
  • Never write what the character cannot see for themselves. Also the character cannot remark on their own facial expressions either, unless looking into a mirror to view themselves.
  • Remove all thinking verbs. Immerse the reader within the character’s thoughts.
  • Remove any writing that contains emotional naming, show the characters actions; this creates yet more intimacy again and removes the author from the storytelling also.
  • Never name the character in the action either. The character would never name themselves when completing an action.
  • Give the “evidence not the verdict”, the readers from your writing should be able to discern the verdict, you shouldn’t have to tell them.

Resources And Guides For Deep Narrative POV (Point Of View):

Deep POV: What’s So Deep About it?
Diving Into Deep Point Of View
Emotional Depth For Deep Point Of View
Trouble Shooting Deep POV and Voice

More YouTube Videos Of Narrative POV (Point Of View):

Writing with Jane: Point of View

Narrative Point of View

Point of View (POV) – The Book Editor Show Episode 001

POV: Point of View

Enjoy and Write On!

~Sara