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Messages - Brevoort

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Writers' Cafe / Re: My 21 Day Novel Challenge. Wow, I'm really doing this.
« on: February 22, 2016, 10:43:54 am »

I'm very curious what people think of my outlining process.

I am amazed at the level of detail you are getting into the outline. I don't approach writing this way so it is coming at me new. There is no doubt that it will help the physical writing and I will be interested to see how closely the outline will resemble the final product.  Those in the military are fond of saying, "No battle plan, no matter how well prepared, survives contact with the enemy."

However, I think you have an excellent chance of sticking to most of the outline because you have taken the effort to craft what you call a blurb but which is also known as a focus statement; a clear succinct statement that answers the question, "What is this book about."

To my mind a focus statement is the single most import part of any writing project, no matter the discipline or genre.

The key of course is to keep looking at it so you never get lost in the narrative arc.

The other thing I would like to say is that your raw courage in putting it all out to see is breathtaking. It takes an uncommon person, with strong self assurance and confidence in craft, to do this.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Military Aircraft Enthusiasts, I Need Your Help.
« on: February 22, 2016, 08:21:44 am »
My advice is to say as little as possible about the aircraft or the process of shipping and selling. Unless it is really necessary for the plot, skip the detailed procedures and do what the film people call an elide. "It took months, but eventually the Skyhawk arrived here."

If you don't need the actual sales procedure then hand wave it away with something like, "I used a broker that specializes in importing ex-military aircraft."

If you are not a pilot and you write about aircraft then you will most certainly get stuff wrong, badly, howlingly, stupidly wrong.

You've already learned about A4's and F4's; there is a world of exactitude out there that the flying readership will demand absolutely.

A long time ago I was a military and then arctic pilot and I can tell you that anyone with experience in the real world of aviation, in any capacity, is intolerant to such a degree of mistakes in writing about aircraft as to be downright old-man persnickety.

Medical people seem to be the same way. I have two close friends who are doctors and they simply cannot watch any kind of medical drama on TV, nor read any book with medical details because there is always something that is so wrong as to make them retch.

But by all means dive in, just make very sure that your details have been double checked and perhaps run by someone well versed in aviation.


At first blush it's quite robust and I'm concerned that I'll miss some key features.

And therein lies the dragon's lair.

Scrivener has so many features, bells and whistles, and shiny whiz-bang toys that you can and will waste a huge amount of time figuring them out. And if you are not careful, not only will you have blown your writing productivity for a day or more, you also run a real risk of throwing your arms in the air saying, "The h*ll with it. A pox on your house." and going back to Word.

It is the 21st Century version of the old and wonderful text game Adventure. The moment that you hit the first maze with its infamous first line, "YOU ARE IN A MAZE OF TWISTY LITTLE PASSAGES, ALL ALIKE." you were lost to the world.

Do the tutorial, start with the raw basics of writing in chapters or scenes, ignore everything else until some compelling need forces you to go looking to see if Scrivener can help with something you need.

Don't feel bad if you don't like some features that many people rave about such as the famous corkboard. You don't have to use it, or anything else, other than the space where you write.

Ignore the Compile function until you need to learn about it. It is a serious mind burn and has driven some nice people quite mad. Don't get me wrong; it works well, it is powerful, and many people really like it. But personally, I think it was partly written in an altered universe and I just never figured it out, which is why I use Vellum -- much easier on my blood pressure.

Have a look at Scapple, made by the Scrivener people. It is a free form mind-mapping program about as complicated as a piece of paper and pen. It is superb for quick and simple brainstorms and it connects to Scrivener. It is also very cheap and often overlooked.

Writers' Cafe / Re: My 21 Day Novel Challenge. Wow, I'm really doing this.
« on: February 19, 2016, 12:08:23 pm »

You said you leave work to sit and breathe before coming back to do a re-write. I used to do that too, until someone wiser than I asked a really good question. Why? How much better will your piece be after the 2nd rewrite?

I'd like to add some anecdotal evidence from another writing field that I believe bolsters your argument Chris.

Until setting up as a consultant, I spent many many years in broadcast journalism as a Bang Bang Artiste. (Think war zone reporting, humanitarian disasters, super major breaking political news, etc)

What I, and my colleagues, in both the Canadian and British broadcasting worlds realized early on was that those scripts, news reports, documentaries, produced under severe conditions and impossibly tight deadlines, would on hindsight always turn out to be as good if not better than material produced in well lighted newsrooms over a span of hours and days with breaks for meals, beer and sleep.

If you know your craft three ways to Sunday, can explain what you are writing about in one sentence devoid of subordinate clauses, then you can rely on the creative drive to do outstanding work.

But you have to know your craft intuitively.

I've mentioned this a few times to musicians, a field I know nothing about, and heard similar thoughts about how the time pressured, impossible to pull off, must be done; theme, jingle, sting, or full blown musical work very often is superb and can hardly be improved on by more dickering about.

Anyway, although I have seen this countless times before, and read about many highly productive "prolific" writers of real talent, I remain astonished that the human brain can almost burst with quality creativity under the tightest and most appalling conditions.

So, I have no doubt that you are going to pull this off. With your attitude you can't fail.


Writers' Cafe / Re: The Grass Takes Time To Grow - Don't Pee on It!
« on: February 17, 2016, 07:30:15 pm »
Very sage advice. Quite the most insightful post I've read in a bit. Worth pondering

Writers' Cafe / Re: I cut my thumb and it hurts when I type!
« on: February 17, 2016, 09:22:04 am »
Actually, I think I have some Liqui-Skin. I might use that today.

I was just about to suggest the same thing.

Newskin Liquid Bandage works well but my preference for small cuts, torn hangnails, and minor abrasions is 3M Vetbond. It is marketed for animals, specifically for dogs, but I've used it for years without ill effect and there is a lot of anecdotal evidence (check Amazon reviews) that says it is fine for human use. But make your own informed choice.

I mainly use it because I carry it when out with the Border Collies. They often get minor tears while hard drive running over ice crusted ground or on gravel. It works well to help deaden the pain and it can be reapplied easily if it wears off.

Plain old  Superglue is also widely used but I haven't done enough research to know whether it truly is safe. I suspect it is but I do not know.  Like the others, which are more of less types of Superglue, it forms a flexible shield over the wound which helps to deaden any impact pain.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Best Digital Voice Recorder for Dragon?
« on: February 12, 2016, 11:17:39 am »
( . . . )I used the Dragon mic before using a Rode lapel mic and Dragon really noticed.

I agree.

Adding a quality lapel mic like the Rode is the single best upgrade one can do, apart from having a decent digital recorder of course, and they are not expensive.

I think that Dragon is quite tolerant of shoddy audio inputs. I say that because the microphone that comes with the program in some versions is beyond crap. It is about a poor a mic as one could buy from the Chinese hinterland.

If Dragon is able to deal acceptably with sound files that go through its supplied mic then a better microphone would indeed result in a noticeable improvement.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Best Digital Voice Recorder for Dragon?
« on: February 12, 2016, 10:23:24 am »
Just curious since I use my iphone for all my digital recording, is there such a big difference in quality of transcription to warrant a $400 purchase?

In my personal opinion, based in long years of work as a Canadian and British broadcast producer journalist --no.

An audiophile, or someone recording for studio and or broadcast work would certainly hear a difference, but the extra that you get for 400$ would be largely wasted on Dragon. I honestly don't know why Nuance does such a song and dance about which recorders get its so-called seal of approval because any half decent recorder that matches the Dragon file requirements is more than sufficient. I would not be surprised to learn that there is a quid pro quo arrangement between Nuance and the recorder manufacturers.

But, if you have the money then by all means. Among my recorders is a high end Sony that is huge overkill for transcription work but is such a lovely piece of kit, and more than good enough for broadcast video and radio work, that I didn't mind the cost.

I can't comment on the iPhone's audio quality but I sometimes use an Android Nexus 5 recording app to take notes and while Dragon makes gagging noises dealing with them the result is usually acceptable.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Best Digital Voice Recorder for Dragon?
« on: February 12, 2016, 09:02:56 am »
Hi All,

I bought an Olympus 822 dig voice recorder and it's okay, but every, tiny, incremental improvement is worth so much to me that I'm wondering about upgrading.

I wouldn't bother upgrading from your Olympus; it is a terrific and high quality recorder at a pretty decent price. I've seen them used by broadcast journalists in the field which in itself is a high recommendation. It also has more "pocketability" than the 400$ unit.

However, you can dramatically improve the quality of your recordings by adding a wired lapel microphone, also known as a tie clip microphone, although its formal name is a lavalier.

They cost about $25 and will allow you to record clean sound in a variety of noisy environments, including (with luck) at highway speeds in a car.

There is a vast thread on here about using transcription with Dragon and buried in it are lots of more recommendations.

Here's what I had to say about my set up.,203713.msg2848858.html#msg2848858

Writers' Cafe / Re: Proof and Editing Software
« on: February 10, 2016, 01:35:34 pm »
There is a thread from a couple of years ago, but I don't recall anything lately.

I posted in that discussion about Serenity Editor which I much prefer over anything else, although it certainly has its quirks. I also discussed a few others.

If I have done this correctly then the following link should  take you right to it.,197572.msg2789983.html#msg2789983

Been a while since I actually started a post here, but this idea felt worth sharing.

It was worth the wait Sever. As always a well thought out point that really helps in this voyage through a dark forest.

I had come to a similar conclusion about sales channels but I had not been thinking about the social side. As you say, it doesn't have to be more than a couple of times a month in most cases which is such a healthy view compared to some authors on my Twitter feed who think that rabid dog posting three or more times a day is constructive.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Eat That Frog - An Interview with Chris Fox
« on: February 09, 2016, 09:58:05 am »
There is a lot of sound and to the point advice in that interview. Chris Fox's views on life attitude in particular are powerful and perceptive.

I would say quite unequivocally that you have a solid and pleasing voice that requires only a small amount of training or technical assist to become outstanding.

There is one issue I heard a fair bit, but it was not objectionable, and that is sibilance. If you don't have one then make a pop filter (lot's of instructions on the web), or buy one. There are also voice techniques and microphone placement adjustments that can deal with this easily.

I know that it is only a sample but there is a lot of room echo that would be unacceptable for a commercial recording. Others have mentioned recording in a closet, or hanging blankets, etc and those are all good techniques. Essentially, you have to make sure that there are no hard surfaces in your recording space that can reflect sound. You want as dead and quiet an ambiance as possible. This is supremely important and while things like noise filters and software manipulation can help, it is always much better to deal with the problem physically.

Bravo for not letting the slightest slip in diction or pronunciation survive the final edit. The human ear is intolerant to a huge degree to mistakes in spoken speech and sound in general. There is no such thing in the audio world that is equivalent to our inability to see typographical errors on the printed page. All of it, without question, has to be perfect or the listener will complain. This is the reason why professionals will typically spend two to three hours in post production editing to realize one finished hour. It is tedious but vital.

I just realized that I should declare my credentials in this area. For many years I was a broadcast journalist, correspondent, and documentary maker for the CBC in Canada, the BBC, and bits and pieces for others. As a consultant now, part of my business is contract training in voice production and editing for new broadcast journalists.

There are two superb resources out there I would recommend to anybody. The first is The Stressed Out Writer's Guide to Recording Your Own Audiobook by Kirk Hanley. Mr Hanley's short book precisely and without nonsense lays out the equipment, technique, and everything else necessary to get a book accepted by ACX. He is also an actor and his advice on pacing, projection, vocal nuance, and so on is worth the price of the book alone. There are other good books out there but I believe Mr Hanley's is the most practical and worthwile. (I have no affiliation)

The second I would recommend is which is a pretty interesting way of having  your audio book sent out as a podcast series. It also has a strong mentoring aspect where site members volunteer to vet your audio work. For an author who just wants to get their book out to an audience for free, and get some self training in the bargain, before re-recording for ACX, I would say this sounds like a good option; and, you don't have to host your own files on your website and deal with bandwidth issues.

Good luck.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Anyone use Alphasmart products? Any recommendations?
« on: December 18, 2015, 12:27:15 pm »
I've had an AlphaSmart Neo2 for about two years now and I highly recommend it. The keyboard has a lovely touch; a real writer's keyboard touch. The screen is very readable in bright and direct sunshine, the only screen I have ever seen to be able to handle bright sun. It weighs nothing, tough as old leather, and runs for a year or more on a set of AA batteries. Some people complain that only having the last three or four lines of writing visible makes it difficult for them. But, typewriters, may their souls rot in hell, only showed about the same and nobody complained then.

There is a really long AlphaSmart thread on this board that has all you ever need to know about the AlphaSmarts. Just search on the word.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Dragon dictation... are you a dragon rider?
« on: December 18, 2015, 10:25:20 am »
For the safety of yourself and others, I hope you are a passenger and not driving.

This is a good point but there appears to be considerable back and forth in academic research about whether dictation devices in cars are a major source of distracted driving syndrome.

If you dig around, you can find a lot of stuff on the Nuance webpage (Dragon) that naturally enough for them says there is little danger from using Dragon for dictation in vehicles. But a wider search will throw up a lot stuff that says dictation is as distracting and as dangerous as physical texting.

I personally do not feel safe dictating while driving on major roads. I found that I often arrived at destinations without a clear, or any, memory of the drive because I had been dictating. Now, I don't know if that counts as distracted driving but it leaves me feeling uneasy.

The few times, actually the only time, I tried dictating while piloting an aircraft quite simply scared me silly. I had the sense that I had lost all situational awareness, including ATC chatter and position reports of other aircraft, because I had been so wrapped up in dictating.

I do use it while driving on sparsely traveled secondary roads, but with caution.

Writers' Cafe / Re: The Canadian Authors Support Thread
« on: October 29, 2015, 08:55:59 am »
Does anyone know how long that takes? I need to order my proof, but can't until I get the isbn :/

Just checked mine. Applied on Thursday Sept 4 2014, received email approval on the following Tuesday. So, four business days total

Writers' Cafe / Re: Mark Dawson article in DBW today
« on: September 10, 2015, 11:58:23 am »
Ha, I like how one person commenting seems to think that over doubling your money isn't a good return...!

I don't know whether I am completely misunderstanding what the commenter is saying or what, but it appears to me that Mark Dawson is making a superb return on investment.The comment on that page makes no sense to me.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Book Trailers? The Good, The Bad, And The Fugly?
« on: September 07, 2015, 11:07:58 am »
What I would recommend you do is pursue the crowd funding circuit. Those guys ALL need videos for their funding pages.

I am with you there. What videos there are often show no sense of composition, editing, sound engineering, or script editing. And why do so many have to start, "Hey Guys."

Writers' Cafe / Kindle Unlimited Moves Into India
« on: September 02, 2015, 09:47:22 am »
Amazon has just started Kindle Unlimited, in a limited way, in India.

Writers' Cafe / Re: 1 Week Training My Dragon
« on: August 26, 2015, 09:56:33 am »

Anybody tried this, recording while driving?

I've done it, but with mediocre results.

Depending on the vehicle, road surface, and surrounding traffic, the sound quality going into the recorder can be quite marginal.

My best results come by using a lapel mike such as the Olympus ME-52 (about 15-25 US$ on Amazon U-S) input to a high quality voice recorder (Sony PCM M-10) and hooked to a Sony wired remote so I can pause and restart whenever.

So much depends on the sound environment that I cannot give a blanket, "Works fine, It's okay sort of, or Don't bother". You would really have to experiment.

The much bigger problem in my opinion is driving distraction.

Hands free or not, I notice a fair bit of distraction when I am dictating and driving and I am not comfortable with that in any kind of city or highway driving. Long quiet rides in the country are fine.

I now tend mostly to use it in a vehicle to take quick notes and thoughts without regard to sentence structure or punctuation.

But, the results are superb on long mountain hikes in the Rockies -- except on long, lung gasping climbing sections of course.

Writers' Cafe / Re: AudioBook & ACX is a Trip!
« on: August 10, 2015, 12:28:04 pm »

After working out the Canuck issues, I am now a full member of the ACX site

I am assuming that those issues are related to ACX not taking on Canadian authors. If so, would it be possible for you to describe how you got around that limitation?

Anything Else Amazon / Amazon prime sale - hah! No books
« on: July 15, 2015, 05:02:20 pm »
I don't know why I was so nave as to expect Amazon to have some terrific book deals in today's Prime Sale. But nope, not a one, at least not on the .CA site.

How does a company that built its core business around selling books not bother to put its books on sale along with all of its amazing stuff I don't care to buy at any price?

The whole thing had the air of a back-of-warehouse-junk-clearout sale.

I was going to buy this book sight unseen since I admire his fiction skills, but instead I had a look at the sample. Nice sharp declarative sentences, lucid thought structures -- just downright clean effective prose. So of course I bought it and I'll leave a review once I've read the whole thing.

I consistently write 1K to 1.5K an hour but for never more than two hours at a time. I would like to extend that writing duration out to at least 3 hours at a sitting. (I can do that when writing long form journalism but fiction is more tiring for me)

I think that Chris' book has the techniques that will help me. I am intrigued by the micro-sprint concept for fiction. It is common in journalism but I never considered it for fiction which needs more thought and doesn't have tools such as fact notebooks and interview transcripts. But I think it can work well if my brief look at the concept in the sample chapters stands true.

Unfortunately the idea of using the Apple App is out for me. I do not have an iPhone and my iPad is first generation. But I have no problem using things like a timer and a word count feature and then plugging the data manually into a spreadsheet which is the way I have always worked anyway.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Copy editing/proofreading
« on: June 19, 2015, 10:13:23 am »
I am glad this thread popped up again today. It reminded me that I have been long remiss in singing Donna's skills.

In my background are long stints as a pro-editor. No pro would ever allow their own copy to go out any more than dentists would fix their own teeth, and because of that I didn't hesitate to contact Donna for a run-through after reading Wayne Stinnet's recommendation of her services.

Despite beta-readers, a charlatan editor's butchery, and every editing skill I possess, Donna found any number of niggles and blunders in my text, and all in a remarkably short time.

I highly recommend her services.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Any Alphasmart Neo Owners Out There?
« on: June 03, 2015, 11:39:11 am »

I'm seriously looking at the Alphasmart as a low-tech alternative to laptops and tablets, at least for the composing part of writing and publishing, and I was wondering if anyone else here used one and what they thought of the process. Does it increase your wordcount and output? What do you think?

There is no question for me, a Neo is a dramatically faster way of getting raw words down as quickly as possible. This is because of its instant on, superb keyboard, and its utter inability to do anything else other than to accept typing.

It is not much heavier than a large padded manila envelope, tough enough to ride unprotected in a car trunk (if you wanted to be cruel to it that is), and it runs an insanely long time on AA batteries. I have used mine for about 18 months, two to three times a week, for an hour or three each time, and the batteries are still showing an 85% charge.

A huge advantage, for me, is that the screen is perfectly legible in bright and direct sunlight. it is the only portable machine I've come across that can tolerate direct sun.

I keep mine in a fabric folding canoe seat (I'm Canadian eh?) which doubles as a carrying case and an instantly available backrest seat for any random picnic table or log on a beach. A backrest is a fantastic luxury when trying to write at a picnic table.

I've never tried to find out it they are rain proof but earlier this year I spent three weeks on the road in Afghanistan and it survived the dust there, something that few electronic devices can do for long in that environment.

Neo's are also dead cheap.

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