Monday, June 13, 2016

Brain Food for Writers by Connie Vines

It wasn't until I completed this blog post that I realized that my title, well. . .carried an unintended double meaning.

My featured novella this month -- Here Today, Zombie Tomorrow-- is a Zombie story. And today's topic is brain food.  Well, brain food for writers, anyway.

On deadline? Obsessed with your current storyline?  Forfeiting sleep, exercise, and nutrition to reach the moment you can type the words The End on the final page of your novel?

Here are a list of grazing foods that you can keep on hand.  High in protein, easy prep, and tasty.

Single serve, or 5 ounces of nonfat cottage cheese.  3 grams more protein than a typical serving of Greek yogurt.

Hard boiled Egg.  No longer shunned due to claims of too high cholesterol, we can enjoy in moderation. You can boil yourself or purchased peeled and packaged at the market.

Peanut butter.  Scoop your own or purchase in single packets, smear on a banana or apple slices.

Roasted chickpeas ( I love hummus and falafel).  120 cals per serving, 5 gram of protein and fiber.
To prep yourself rinse and drained chickpeas in a bowl with olive oil.  Add chili powder, cumin, salt, and pepper.  Oven bake at 425 degrees for 45 mins.

Greek yogurt

Turkey roll ups. Nitrate free deli turkey breast with a squirt of mustard, a slice of tomato, and some lettuce.  Add red pepper slices and baby carrots. Roll and store in a plastic container or foil.

Hummus.  Made from chickpeas, tahini, and olive oil, hummus is a healthy mix of protein and fiber. Use it as a dip for carrots, tomatoes, red pepper, and cucumber slices,

100-calorie almond packets.

String cheese.

Happy Writing & Reading.


Saturday, June 11, 2016

How Kindle Scout set me off on the Road to Oz...I mean, Monterra by Jina Bacarr

Have you ever slipped on a pair of shoes that fit perfectly?

Soft, dreamy leather. Straps not too tight.

Heels not too high. You don't want to feel like you're about to go over a cliff.

I have.

And get this, it's a glass slipper. 

When I entered my Civil War time travel romance, LOVE ME FOREVER, in the Kindle Scout program*** I didn't realize there was a technicolor ending in my future.

I went to Oz.

I mean, Monterra.

When Sariah Wilson asked romance KS winners if we'd like to write in her Royals of Monterra Kindle World, I jumped at the chance. I love princess stories (check out my Princess video!) I wrote ROYAL DARE about Princess Violetta, who appears in Sariah's ROYAL DATE. Violetta has a drug problem so I sent her to rehab. But getting clean ain't easy...even for a princess

Can she make it through rehab?

One of the most rewarding aspects of writing Royal Dare is the fact that several addiction recovery
sites have discovered the novel and follow me on Twitter. I hope Violetta's story encourages those who need help to seek it out.

I loved writing in Sariah's KW so much, I decided to write another story, but on a much lighter subject.


ROYAL MAGIC will launch with Sariah's next Royals of Monterra book, ROYAL GAMES.

Royal Magic is the story of a girl from South Philly with a dream to become an aerial silks performer, but there's a dark secret in her past that keeps her from her goal.

Until she's invited to perform at the arts festival in the kingdom of Monterra for the royal family in Fairy Tales & Magic: Magic, Music & Monterran Cuisine. There she meets a handsome, mysterious magician who's not what he seems...

Royal Magic will launch along with Sariah's Royal Games and new Royals of Monterra stories from other talented writers on July 8th!'

I'm almost finished with the cover, so I'll update this page as we get closer to the launch.

I'm enjoying my road trip to Monterra and plan to do more Royals of Monterra books after Royal Magic. And to think it all started with Kindle Scout...


***You can read my previous posts about my experience with the Kindle Scout program by clicking on Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, and Part 5

The Princess and the Stilettos for Valentine's Day from Jina Bacarr on Vimeo.

The Princess and the Magic Shamrock for St. Patrick's Day from Jina Bacarr on Vimeo.


She wore gray.
He wore blue.
But their love defied the boundaries of war.
And time.
I'd love to hear from you. You can find me on social media:

Thursday, June 09, 2016

How to Start an Online Course in Two Steps by Kitty Bucholtz

You probably know that I've been teaching online classes for about eight years now, maybe longer. I absolutely love to teach! The "usual" tech for doing this for the last decade or more has been to have your students sign up for a Yahoo Group that you create, and then you send them emails with the lectures, the students email you questions, and you email the group back with your answers.

That was a great way to do it for a while. But I wanted to add more to the classes - audio and video and live Q&A interaction. Enter the new online class platforms.

There are a lot of websites, platforms, plugins, and course-building sites out there now. A lot. I've tried a few, but I've recently moved everything to CourseLauncherHQ. I want to tell you a little about it in case you've been thinking about creating an online course that's hearty enough to satisfy the needs and expectations of your 21st century audience.

[Note: I've recently applied to the affiliate program for CourseLauncherHQ. That means that if you use this company to launch your online course, and you use a link I gave, or you give them my name as the person who referred you, I may get some kind of affiliate commission. Please understand that if I make a mistake here about what they do or don't do for clients, that is my mistake. I don't work for the company, so I may not explain everything 100% correctly. Whew! Now that that's done, let's continue!]

The basic two steps for creating an online course are 1) pick a platform that allows you to focus on teaching, not having to learn a lot of new technology, and 2) design your course lessons. In this blog post, I'm going to focus on step one.

First of all, the best part for me about CourseLauncherHQ is that everything is already included and integrated. All the parts are already working well together. The learning platform is LearnDash on a WordPress site, and students can pay using PayPal and/or credit cards (using WooCommerce). Then the email list is integrated into both the landing page (where people first learn about your class) and the classroom itself (after people pay - therefore separating your email list into two parts automatically - potential students and paid students).

The second best part is that the customer service is amazing!! I feel I'm pretty tech-y, but I've never used any of this tech. Sometimes a little knowledge can be worse than none at all. But every time I have a question, someone answers. If necessary, they arrange a video call with me to answer my questions. I can pay extra for them to do everything for me, but even though I've chosen to learn to do most things on my own, if I "break" my site by doing something ignorant, they'll fix it for me! The class sites are all backed up every night so no data is lost!

And in the class they just started on Monday, you can learn everything you need to know and get your site up and running - and even start getting paid if you get students to sign up - in just four weeks! That's what I did in December, and I'm going through the new class again now to make sure I don't forget anything when adding in my class that I'd originally hosted on another site.

The best way to understand all this is to read the information on the page here, CourseLauncherHQ. If you decide you're interested, you can still get into this class through next Monday, June 13. And if you mention my name, you can get in at the discounted pricing of $1597. I know, it's a lot of money. But when I tried to put together all the little pieces myself last year, I spent more than that and had no one to help me when I screwed things up. Plus there's a 60-day money-back guarantee!

This may not be at all what you're interested in doing, but I didn't want to not tell you about it and find out later (especially after the price goes up) that you could've used this information. Or maybe you have a friend who needs to know about this. Anyway, now you know. :) I hope you find it helpful!

Kitty Bucholtz decided to combine her undergraduate degree in business, her years of experience in accounting and finance, and her graduate degree in creative writing to become a writer-turned-independent-publisher. Her novels, Little Miss LovesickA Very Merry Superhero Wedding, and Unexpected Superhero are currently available on Amazon. The free short story "Superhero in Disguise" is available wherever ebooks are sold. You can find out about her courses on self-publishing, marketing, and time management for writers at her website Writer Entrepreneur Guides.

Monday, June 06, 2016

Upcoming Round Table Chapter Meeting

by Linda O. Johnston

Did you realize that today is 6/6/16?  That's right--sixth day of the sixth month of twenty-sixteen.  Lots of sixes--which are hopefully good luck despite their possibly bad reputation when grouped in sets of three.  I like sixes anyway.  And in addition to my romances and other mysteries, I happen to write the Superstition Mysteries.

But, boy, this year is certainly going fast--nearly at the halfway point.

As I mentioned last month, I missed several OCC meetings early in the year.  I did attend the one in May--and now I'll be there for the June one, too.  A bunch of published authors have been recruited to lead discussions at various tables at the afternoon meeting, and I'll be at the one where we'll talk about traditional publishers.
Yes, I've been at this a long time, and although I've done a bit of self-publishing, including republishing some of my earliest backlist as e-books, mostly those published by Dorchester, I still remain mostly traditionally published.

And enjoy it.

For my mysteries, I've written for Berkley Prime Crime and am now being published by a smaller publisher, Midnight Ink.  I'm fortunate, since both have worked out well for me.

For romances, I've had a long-standing relationship with Harlequin series romance.  In fact, my next published novel, due out in August this year, will be COVERT ALLIANCE, a Harlequin Romantic Suspense.

I guess I'm qualified to talk about traditional publishing!   And I hope those of you who come to the meeting will join me at my table, along with Tara Lain, so we can talk about the pros and cons of it.

See you there!

Sunday, June 05, 2016


I was searching for a subject to post about this month and sort of drew a blank. In my last post, I gave you an update of my 12 Titles in 12 Months project. I no longer refer to it a challenge, because it’s a fun project.

In the past five months of this project, I’ve learned I can make deadlines and stick to them a lot better than in the past. I’ll be honest, there were a couple of times I didn’t think I was going to make my deadline.

Here’s my process and why using Vellum is good for me. When I complete a book, I do a read through and then pass it on to my number one Critic, my mom. Once she’s done, I make the corrections and then forward the book to my Beta Readers. When they’re done, I review their comments and make the necessary corrections. Then forward the book to my Editor. Depending on how long the book is, it could take her a couple of weeks to edit it. Then I review her edits, do another review and prep the file for the formatter. Depending on how long my book it, this step can take me a while.

Once I’ve done my reviews, it’s on to the formatter. Again, depending on the length and her schedule, this can take as much as five days. Then I review the file and if there are typos or glitches, I carefully log them and send the file back to her. There have been times I’ve over thought things, or missed something as simple as a line I forgot to move up. That simple error means I have to send the file back to the formatter. She’s really good about turning around the file for something so small quickly. All of these steps eats away at my time.

Now that I’ve added VELLUM.PUB to my team, I’ve also bought myself some time and breathing room. I don’t feel as pressured. I think some of the typos or glitches were a result of trying to make those deadlines and scared to have to go back and make changes. I am in love with this software.

As an indie or self-pub author, I’m always looking for ways to save time and money. I was introduced to, by my friend Kitty Bucholtz. When I took it for a test drive, I couldn’t believe how easy it was. In less than an hour, I had a fully formatted book. That hour includes set up and launching to the various outlets. It happened so quickly, that I thought I had missed or forgotten something.

After playing with it a week, I finally released my first formatted book. My new release, INTENTIONAL CURSE. Once I reviewed the Kindle file, I was very impressed. It looked just like what my formatter was doing for me. Now, this doesn’t mean I won’t every use a formatter again, it just means I have another option.

My formatter is amazing and very patient with me. However, because I use a MAC and she uses a PC, there would be slight challenges when it came to fixing typos or glitches on my part. I always felt bad having to go back and tie up her time for small typos [a letter or period in the wrong place.] For ease, I would give her a detailed list of typos and their location so she could find them quickly.

My formatter is cool about making the corrections and turning the file around quickly. I don’t know about anyone else, but even now when I go back and read some of my earlier releases, I’ve stumbled across an errant typo. I have a couple of books I found typos in that I have to send back to her for changes.

However, with, there’s no charge to go back and make a change or correct a typo.

Another added advantage to using, I’m able to add fancy chapter headings, first paragraph design, section breaks and one of my favorites, images. In INTENTIONAL CURSE, I included the covers of the books I excerpted., also allows you to add purchase links for each format or outlet you use.

So far, there’s nothing about this software I don’t like. It’s easy and painless to use. With my formatter, I get one free set of corrections and I’m charged for any additional corrections. The cost is also amazing and is based on title, not word count or outlets. One title, is $29.99, Ten titles, $99.99 and unlimited is $199.99. To be on the safe side, I bought the ten titles to start.

I also, found their response to customer service emails to be fairy quick. One of my concerns or questions, was if I liked it could I upgrade. I was told that I could. Another plus. [I will be going back and upgrading to the unlimited plan.]

This tool is perfect for me, because I like knowing I can go back at anytime and make changes without an additional cost. It also gives me an extra week in prep time. In the past, I would book my editor at least a month before sending the file to the formatter. And book the formatter, about two to three weeks before release day. Once the formatter completed my files, I took a week to ten days, to review the file and make any corrections. Then if it was clean, I set it up for release. Now, I’m able to breathe a little before formatting. I don’t feel as stressed as in the past.

I formatted my recent release, the night before and then I reviewed it the following morning. This delay was because I was sleepy, otherwise, I may have released it immediately. For the record, instant release is an option now, because if needed, I can go back, make the necessary changes and get the revised file up immediately.

If you haven’t tried, I recommend you give it a try.

12 TITLES IN 12 MONTHS…update

Okay, so I didn’t think I was going to do an update on my project. Last month I didn’t include a cover tease for the August release, because I wasn’t sure about the cover. Up until a couple of days ago, I was going to change the cover. But something amazing happened, I finished the title. YEAH!!! And when I played around with the cover, the proposed new cover one, became the cover for part two in the series.

I was a little nervous about this title because it seemed like I had gotten stuck. When I started writing this, I new it was going to be either a novelette, less than 20,000 words. But around 14,000 words, while I was praying one morning, I got a revelation that I should switch from first person to third person POV. I wrestled with this for a couple of days. Finally, last Thursday, while sitting in the salon, I started re-writing my book. By late Friday night, I had re-written the 14,000 words. In fact, by the time, I finished re-working the original pages, I ended up with an additional 1,000 words and renewed excitement about the story.

I’m so excited because, a week later, I finished the novella. And when I did, it left the door open for a novella series and a new set of characters for me to love. YEAH!!!

I’ll check in with you next month.

Tracy Reed
Fiction for Women Who Love God, Couture and Cute Guys

Thursday, June 02, 2016

Scrivener Sneak Peek

As a Scrivener devotee since October 2010—Windows beta version was my first foray using the app—I’m always delighted when I discover I can eliminate a redundant piece of software in my stockpile of applications.

Case in point, I can record an interview using Scrivener and take notes at the same time. No, that’s not a circus trick but it’s a great feature to include in a writing application that does almost everything except walk my dogs and make dinner. As a sneak peek of what my classes are like, I’ll show you how you can record an interview from another application and import it into Scrivener or use its dedicated recording feature in the Mac platform.
Method One (Non-Scrivener Feature):

I use SuperNote, a recording app for the iPhone. SuperNote has the capability to upload an audio file directly into Dropbox and from there I can download it into iTunes. From my iTunes song library, I simply drag the recording into Scrivener’s research section of that particular project.

In the research section, you’ll see a file with a musical note.

Click on it, and it will open to a black page in the editor. At the bottom, you’ll see the play, pause, rewind and forward controls along with the volume control to the left, and to the right a tiny rewind control for when you pause it and want to hear what was said a few seconds earlier.

Method Two: (Scrivener’s New Audio Note Feature—Mac only for now)

Scrivener also provides its own internal recording application. You can find it under Project->New Media File->New Audio Note.

A few things to note, and this is important! Before you click New Audio Note, you need to be in the research folder. This is the only place where you’ll be able to save it. If you’re conducting an interview and you’re in the draft section of the binder, you will lose the entire recording! I suggest you create a recordings folder in the research section, label it as Recordings or Interviews. Hit the expansion button to open it.

Now go back to New Audio Note and the note will open.

If you’re recording from text you’ve written, you can move the window to another part of the screen so as not block it. To record, hit the red button and start speaking. Once you’re done, hit save. The interview will go directly into the recording file in the research section. Next label the file with the person’s name or the topic and date it.

I know Window users might be groaning and thinking, “When will we get this feature?” All I can say is I don’t know, but here’s a nifty discovery in the Windows platform (yes, Mac has it too). Do you repeatedly type the name of a setting often? I use TextExpander on the Mac and I was contemplating to buy one for Windows but—and I’ll be honest—I rarely use my Asus laptop unless I write a Scrivener lesson or if I need it as a back-up to the Mac so I watch my pennies when duplicating software. However, one day while I was writing one of my Windows lessons on the ASUS laptop, I happened to notice that Scrivener allows you to create an Auto-Complete List. To create one, go to Project->Auto-Complete List (shortcut Ctrl+Shift+4). A window will open:

To add names, places, words you use often hit the plus sign and when you’re done, hit OK. So now when you’re typing your word from your list, it appears in your editor: 

Double-click on the word and it appears in your text!

I hope these two sneak-peeks sparked interest to learn how to use Scrivener. If you want to learn more, sign up for the class. I’ll be showing you lots of neat tricks that will help you manage all your writing projects!

Rebeca Schiller is a freelance writer and the online editor of HAND/EYE Magazine. She discovered the magic of Scrivener via a friend’s Facebook update and photo of the Corkboard. Since October 2010, she’s been using both versions of Scrivener and avoids writing anything in MS Word (like this bio). Rebeca is currently working on a novel.

Rebeca will be teaching Scrivener A to Z  for OCC/RWA. This 4-week online course begins June 13, 2016 and uses email and Yahoo Groups. The class is open to anyone wishing to participate. The cost is $30.00 per person or, if you are a member of OCCRWA, $20.00 per person

For more information and to register go to

Wednesday, June 01, 2016

OCC/RWA President's Message

Hello Fabulous OCC Writers,

Wow! It’s June! Can you believe it? This year is going fast, or at least it seems to be to me. I love all the great things that are happening to our members here at OCC. Please during the meeting when we have the member news part, get up and speak. I love to hear all the great news as I’m sure the other members do as well. It is inspirational and definitely motivational to hear what’s going on with everyone else. Congratulations to those of you who strive daily to make your dreams come true.

Last month we had Brenna Aubrey in the morning session speaking on “The Digital Co-Op: Getting Visible on the Virtual Bookshelf” and Publisher Michelle Klayman from Boroughs Publishing Group speaking on, “From Submission to Release: The Publishers POV.” I’m told both sessions were spectacular. This month we will have a morning and afternoon session to prepare for RWA in San Diego! I hope you all are as excited as I am for this meeting as well as for the conference in July. It is close to home and will be July 13-16, 2016. I hope to see you all there, representing Orange County Chapter of Romance Writers of America.

I would encourage you all to take advantage of the many opportunities for taking classes with OCC and other venues. OCC strives to have classes that are informative, educational and beneficial to our membership. This month we have Researching and Writing Historical Fiction with Cindy Vallar from May 16- June 12, 2016 and then on June 13-July 10, 2016 we have Scrivener A to Z, with Rebeca Schiller. The cost for classes are reasonable at $20 for OCC members and $30 for non-members. For more information please go to

We’re never too young or too old to learn, something new and with every lesson there is something we can take away from it. Join me in being a life learner here at OCCRWA and in life. Take classes, and share your knowledge with your fellow members. With that in mind I’d encourage you, if you have knowledge in an area that would benefit OCCRWA please think about teaching an online course through OCCRWA or speaking at an OCCRWA meeting. To teach an online class please send the proposal: to the online class coordinator at: If you wish to be a speaker at a meeting please send an email to Liz Scott at:

As always fellow authors, thank you for all that you have done and continue to do. Your commitment to excellence is what keeps OCCRWA one of the best chapters in the nation. Our sincerest thanks for being a part of this great chapter where our motto is: “One hand reaching forward, one hand reaching back, in a continuing chain.”


Nichelle Scott-Williams aka Nikki Prince