Monthly Archives: December 2015

Visiting an elementary school as a visiting author and Idea-Mating to come up with more ideas.

I was invited to visit and share my writing at Potomac elementary in November.  Thank you to Beverly Blue for the invite.  I also got to share the day with AJ Cosmo and Verlyn Tariton.)

There I am at the top giving lessons in the gym. Thanks again to Potomac Elementary.

There I am at the top giving lessons in the gym. Thanks again to Potomac Elementary.

I met with students from Kindergarten to 6th grade.  I met with seven different groups.  If that’s sounds intimidating, just remember teachers do that everyday.


Instead of me just reading from Kevin and the Seven Lions, although I did that, I talked mostly about generating ideas for writing.

I shared a lesson that I do in my classes at the start of every year.  First, one side of the paper you write all the different things you love.  Be it football, baseball, ponies, pizza, cars, Disney, doesn’t matter just put it down.  Now you have a list of things things you can write about about.

But we’re not done yet.

On the other side of the paper write down things you hate, or don’t like.  The loathe side of the list.  Homework, brussel sprouts, tests, whatever, put it down.  Now you have more things you can write about.

This what I call my Love it-Loathe it List.  All of my students have one at the beginning of their writing journals.

Now we take it a step further.  Take one thing from the love side of the paper and one from the loathe side of the paper and combine them.  Pizza and brussel sprouts, Football and spiders, now all of a sudden you have a third or more things to write about.

Idea mating, two ideas coming together and making more ideas.

With the sixth grade group we came up with football playing turtles.  (For some reason, someone hated turtles.  Turtles.)  We discussed that with turtles you combine turtles, ninjas, mutants, and your teenage years, and suddenly you have Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  Idea mating at it’s finest.

I taught the kids there should never be a day when you say I have nothing to write.

Never. Ever.

I don’t allow it my class.  When it happens I refer my students back to the Love-Loathe it list.

There is always something to write about.


(For more ideas on creating ideas.  Check out Claudia Azula-Altucher’s book Becoming an Idea Machine.  See my review of that book here.)



Why I stopped using Scrivener or just focus on the work


I know.  I know.  I am supposed to love the new writing app Scrivener.  It’s supposed to be the great thing, since, well ever.

Scrivener is to some writers, what Apple is some designers.

In other words…without error.

So I bought a copy and began writing my next book with it.  It took a while to be able to get a hold of how it works.  It changes how everything is organizer, which I guess is the point.  But I found I was taking a lot of time to get it right.  A lot of time.

Time that could have better been spent, I don’t know, writing the book.

Even if that meant writing the book in Word.


Scrivener is supposed to be able to do just about everything.  Export to Word, Export to PDF, Export to Modi and Epub, and send your mother a card.

Maybe not that last one.

But then I saved my work.  And what appeared wasn’t a file, but a folder.  And then I tried to save a back-up in the same area.

Scrivener told me I couldn’t do that.

Why not?

I don’t know.

But most importantly I lost work.  I lost a whole chapter of my next book.  And that shouldn’t happen.  And it almost ruined my beach vacation.

I was at the Outer Banks and sitting on the outside porch of the condo we were renting.  I had a good view of the beach.  I pulled out my laptop and set it on the table with the sound of the ocean waves and I opened my book up and Scrivener told me something about a corrupted file.  (I admit I don’t remember exactly what it said as my eyes went dark and my head exploded.)

But corrupted to Scrivener apparently meant only the most current chapter I had been working on.

After exporting the other chapters to Word to get another back-up I continue to write my next book in Scrivener.  I don’t know why.  Word had never lost any words I have created.

For some reason I kept trying to write the book in Scrivener.  One thing that I like about Scrivener is that I can see notes on the current section I am writing.  I don’t have to flip back and forth between files.

I like that I can see notes in the bottom right. But note that the file was named to show that I was missing Chapter 10.

I like that I can see notes in the bottom right. But note that the file was named to show that I was missing Chapter 10.

After some research I learned that I probably lost the chapter because I had been saving it to the cloud in my Onedrive.

Ummm…it’s 2015.  Cloud saving is a non-negotiable.

I work on two main computers.  I have a desktop with a larger monitor 27 inch and a Lenovo thinkpad that I carry around.  Not being able to switch easily between those two machines makes writing too difficult.

Then I joined a Scrivener group to see if I could learn what I did wrong, but I proceeded to see several posts with people losing work.  And losing work because through cloud storage.

Scrivener is a great idea on paper, but save yourself the trouble, and your work.   But if you are losing time to learn HOW to use the tool, as opposed to writing, then work with something else.

I hear George RR Martin writes massive popular novels on a DOS Machine.

Maybe he is on to something.