Guest Post: Aurelia B. Rowl reveals her Scrivener secrets

Today I’m delighted to welcome fellow Carina author Aurelia B. Rowl. 

Thank you for inviting me onto your blog, I’m thrilled to be here.

One thing that Sarah and I have in common – aside from the same publisher – is that we both use a writing software called Scrivener. In fact, I’m not sure I’d have achieved as much so soon without it because it truly is invaluable to me as a writer, so I thought I’d tell you a little more about it.

I’m not going to try and teach you how to use Scrivener though – there is a perfectly good tutorial within the software itself and if you do a quick search on the internet, you’ll be met with a whole heap of articles – but I can share with you some of the ways that I personally use Scrivener, and I thought I’d do it with the help of some pictures.

These pictures are actually screenshots from my custom template, which is something I’ve modified and tweaked so that I have everything I need already set up when I start a new project

First stage: plotting (plus overview)

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In the left-hand column you’ll see all of the files and folders I work with, and in the right hand column you’ll see the info for meta-data and such. In the centre section, set in Scrivenings mode in this instant, you’ll see the very first screen I come to when I start a project… creating the storyboard based on the W-plot structure.

If I’ve already got a good idea on some of the key scenes – the islands – I’ll fill in the relevant index card right away, and speaking of index cards, here is the what the screen looks like, and it’s a great way seeing my story on one page:

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Second stage: brainstorming (plus meta-data settings)

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Sometimes I don’t know exactly what happens in the story, and even when I know the big picture I still need to figure out the scenes that will get me from points A to B and so on. In another life pre-kids and pre-writing, I used to have to go to “brainstorming sessions” where no idea is a bad idea and everything gets written down so that’s exactly what I do.

Opening up a new index card for each and every idea, no matter how far-fetched or ridiculous, I record each possible scene or action because you never know if that will then spawn another idea or a new thread to follow. I also get all my back-story ideas out here too, to help get a good feel for the characters or setting before I actually get on with writing.

There may also be times a story just isn’t working or a scene feels flat and lifeless so I can return to my brainstorming cards and see if anything else could fulfil the purpose better. Throughout a project, I may keep dipping into the possible scenes and dragging them into the actual manuscript.

Highlighted in this screenshot as well are the different labels I use, assigning a colour to each one and then having that colour show in the binder – that first column – and the outline.

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Yours Is Mine Blog Tour: Guest Post from Amy Bird

IMG_0426I’m back! I’m out of the writing cave just in time to introduce you to playwright and fellow Carina author, Amy Bird.

Yours Is Mine is Amy’s debut. It’s a psychological thriller and is out now.

Take it away, Amy…

Who would you magically exchange identities with?

In her best-selling debut, my lovely host Sarah has brought some magic into our lives.

In my debut, just released, I’m exploring what it would mean to exchange identities with someone. No magic, just the stark reality of North London.

But what if you could use a little bit of magic to exchange identities with anyone you wanted? Actually become them? I guess for a start, you’d have to know you were them – otherwise it wouldn’t be worth doing.

If I suddenly looked like Scarlett Johansson, or had Gwyneth Paltrow’s physique, I would want to know about that and internally gloat – particularly as a magic swap would be a much more fun way than gruelling daily workouts to achieve Gwyneth’s frame.

And sure, it would be great to inhabit J.K. Rowling’s life, without having to be the one for whom Harry Potter strolled into existence. But again, I’d want to know it was me, in there.

Because that’s the thing: it can be easy to think ‘Oh, I’d change places with someone more beautiful, fit or successful than myself in an instant.’ But where would ‘you’ go? What would become of all those projects and plans, all the friendships and unique inner monologue you’d built up over the years? Your life, your self?

YoursIsMinecoverIn Yours is Mine, my protagonist Kate gladly accepts the opportunity to exchange identities with another woman, Anna, on the basis that they will masquerade as each other for three months. Kate, recently bereaved by the death of her father and lonely following the departure of her military husband, thinks this will be a chance to get her spark back.

She relishes living in Anna’s North London flat, enjoys impersonating Anna on her on-line dating sites, and has fun taking an acting class in Anna’s name. But throughout it all, the aim is to go back to her own life at the end of it. Imagine the shock when Anna has other plans.

So for me, although I’ll happily keep eating carbs on the basis that I might suddenly find enough magic to become Gwyneth (any excuse), I think I’ll politely decline the idea of a magical life exchange for now. Or even a non-magical one. For all we really mean when we say ‘I’d give anything to be ‘so and so’’ is that we would like to be a prettier, thinner, or more successful version of ourselves. We don’t want to lose the identity that we hold dear, or the projects that make us who we are.

To be fair to Kate in Yours is Mine, she knows that – she is just hoping that agreeing to impersonate Anna for a bit will mean that when she, Kate, steps back into her own life she will return a refreshed, happier version of herself. But in making the pact with Anna, she puts all that at risk.

If Kate had a wand, or the skill of ‘Finding’ that Sarah’s characters have, maybe she’d be alright. But she doesn’t. So all she can do is fight to get back what’s hers – and hope that’s enough.

Yours is Mine is available now from Carina UK, Amazon, Kobo and iBooks.

You can follow Amy’s progress at www.amybirdwrites.com, on twitter and facebook.

On her last blog tour stop, here on 7 August, Amy will be doing a giveaway of a MIRA goodiebag, filled with some great titles from that Harlequin imprint. So be sure to catch her there!

Thanks so much, Amy!

In which I am hasty

crow roadJust a quick post today, as I’m determined to up the word count on my WIP and if I have any spare time I’m going to re-read The Crow Road in honour of the great Iain Banks.

It’s the last stop on my blog tour and I’m with fellow Carina author, Katlyn Duncan, giving a mini-tour of my writing room.

My writing column at Novelicious this week gives a brief overview of the classic three act structure for novels and screenplays.

The always-brilliant Keris Stainton has written about her writing process here.

Neil Gaiman is as thoughtful, kind and truthful as always in his post on the loss of Iain Banks.

Soul Taken Release Tour – What is Digital First?

kateauthorpiclargeI am delighted to be hosting YA author Katlyn Duncan on her debut release tour. 

Take it away, Katlyn…

Hello everyone! I am so happy to be on Sarah’s blog today!

My topic for today is about the phrase “digital-first”. This is a near and dear topic to me since my publishing company, Carina UK (newest imprint of Harlequin UK), is a digital-first imprint. So what does that mean to you?

  1. My books will be published within a few months of each other. Skipping the printing process brings my words to you sooner rather than later. It keeps the excitement of the series alive knowing you will get the next installment quickly.
  2. Affordable pricing. Again without printing costs, the price of the book becomes more affordable for everyone’s budget, which is something important to me. I want my book to be available for everyone and what better place to start then the price?
  3. On the go! With a click of a button you can have the book in your hands. With the ability to read it on your smart phone or e-reader you can pull it out quickly at a moment’s notice to continue reading whether you are in between classes, waiting at the doctor’s office, at your kid’s soccer game, or on your lunch break. The possibilities are endless!

I have always been on top of new trends when it comes to reading and I am so excited to be a part of an innovative imprint that is moving up with the times.

So what if you don’t have an e-reader? Do you have a smart phone? You can download free reading apps to your phone for free! No smart phone? Do you have a computer? You can download my book to your computer to read it!

Want your book digitally signed? There is a way!

Authorgraph is a website where I can send a digital signature with a swipe of my finger and even personalize a message for you. It sends a pdf and BOOM! There you go. Want your copy of Soul Taken signed? Go here.

9781472017093_CoverNow if you are oh so dying to have Soul Taken in your hands so you can feel and smell the fresh pages…there is a way. Carina UK is digital-first, not digital-only. If there is a strong enough demand for my book to be printed, it will. And you have the power to make that happen. But that is completely up to you. If you want it, tweet and Facebook about it. If you are okay to enjoy the book on your phone, e-reader, or computer that is awesome too!

So even though I won’t see this book on the bookshelves in my favorite bookstores on June 4th, I am absolutely thrilled to be a part of the success of Harlequin UK’s newest imprint and to share it with some pretty amazing ladies, like Sarah (whose book is now available digitally too!).

More about Soul Taken. Available to pre-order here.

After-life just got a lot more complicated

Maggie is a Soul Collector. It’s her job to transport souls from the Living Realm to the After – but during a mission to find a stolen soul, she ends up stuck in a teen mean girl’s body.

Trapped, Maggie’s soul is catapulted into Ally’s life – and the human world she hasn’t experienced for one hundred years. But, as a descendant of the most powerful beings in the After, Maggie must rescue Ally before the girl’s soul dies…

To survive, Maggie must uncover devastating secrets – because with one soul taken by a terrifying enemy, Maggie’s could be next!

Enter Katlyn’s fabulous giveaway – just click below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

You can visit Katlyn on her website or Facebook page or connect with her on Twitter.

Announcing The Language of Spells Blog Tour

To celebrate publication (tomorrow!), I’m heading off on a blog tour.

A book tour you can do in your pajamas: Best. Invention. Ever.

Here’s the schedule. There will be guest posts, interviews and giveaways; hope you can make it!*

Thursday 30th May – Keris Stainton

Friday 31st May – Strictly Writing

Saturday 1st June – Novelicious

Monday 3rd June – Maria’s Book Blog

Tuesday 4th June – Carina UK

Wednesday 5th June – Derek Thomson

Thursday 6th June – Chick Lit Reviews

Friday 7th June – Novel Kicks

Monday 10th June – Katlyn Duncan

* If you think this post over-uses exclamation marks, just wait until tomorrow’s…