Posts Tagged ‘free downloads’

By now I expected to have several posts up, be well on my way to completing my contest submissions, and have the basement cleaned out. None of those things has happened yet and January is almost over. On the positive side, though, I’ve read several books, come up with some blog post topics, and worked on my novel.

For today I have a useful tidbit of information to share with those of you who like tools to keep track of your writing progress. Svenja Liv has 4 free awesome spreadsheet themes for keeping track of your word count goals. Although I’m not experienced with Excel, I was able to download the steampunk spreadsheet template and correctly enter my data with no problem. I also use her site to update my progress bar, which is located in my blog’s sidebar. I fill in my data on her site, then copy and paste it into the widget area of my blog. These tools don’t get the writing done, but they are a visual reminder to me of how far I’ve come, and how far I need to go.


EDIT FEB. 15, 2013  The link to Svenja Liv’s site is broken. Not sure when/if it will be available. If I find another source for tracking tools, I will post it here. 😦



Are you making progress toward the goals you set for yourself? Do you use word count templates or tracking tools that you would recommend?

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Romance novels consistently represent one of the most popular genres, with over a billion dollars in sales each year. There are two basic types of romance novels—category, and single-title books.


Category Romance:

Some publishers release several books in a particular line each month, with strict guidelines as to their word count and structure. This format must be followed for every book in the category, regardless of the author.

Single-Title Romance:

These books are sold individually rather than as a group. The page length is not fixed, and the author has more control over the structure of the story.


In every romance novel, the growing relationship between the heroine and the hero is the most important element of the book. There must be believable conflict causing them to change and grow closer, but subplots must not take on more importance than their romantic relationship. Conflict, both internal and external, should increase emotional tension, but readers expect things to end with the hope of the couple living happily ever after.

The setting and time period can be anywhere, anytime. There can be elements of suspense, mystery, fantasy, etc., but the couple in love must be the main focus of the book. If it isn’t, it isn’t a real romance.


 Resources for the Romance writer:








For Romance Readers:

Harlequin ebooks 16 free category romances


Reviews and News for Romance Readers



Why do you enjoy/hate romance novels? Do you prefer the category romances or single-title books? What’s your favorite romance author or book?

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Being a word nerd, I love it when I run across a word I don’t recognize. Being slightly obsessive, I also have to look it up. I use a wonderful, free tool for that called WordWeb, which gives me a handy icon at the bottom of my screen for quick reference. I can double-click on any word, click the WordWeb icon, and immediately find its meaning, synonyms, the words appearing before and after it in the dictionary, and other useful information.

CNET has more details about WordWeb, if you’re interested, and the program is also available to download there. (There is another version of it that you can buy, but I’ve never used it.)

Go to: http://download.cnet.com/WordWeb/3000-2279_4-10003201.html

or http://wordweb.info/free/


Sometimes, though, a dictionary definition doesn’t give the whole picture of what a word or phrase means. The idea behind it may be harder to understand, or may be open to interpretation. Tomorrow I’ll go over a few of those words, and discuss how they apply to writers.


What is your favorite dictionary/ thesaurus site? Do you still use a printed dictionary/thesaurus?

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I’ve been playing around with ywriter5, which is a type of word processing software designed specifically for people writing a novel. There’s a bit of a learning curve, but this version has a training guide with a sample that’s set up to help you figure out how everything works. In addition to the main screen where you type the story, there are places to put notes to yourself, character bios, scene descriptions, and much more. It keeps a list of the chapters, complete with their word count, a brief description of their content, and the characters involved. That makes it very easy to find what I need.

I didn’t use this program for my first draft because I was busy thinking about what to write and didn’t want to struggle with learning new technology at the same time. Since I’m revising my novel, I decided to put what I have into the ywriter5 program to help me get organized. It’s wonderful. I’m wishing I’d used it right from the beginning. I copy and paste my chapters into it, write a short summary of what each chapter is about, and the program keeps it in order. There are some features I haven’t mastered yet, but just the parts I’ve learned how to use are making a difference in my ability to find things and fix problems.

One of the reports it can generate gives a synopsis of the book, using a short summary that I wrote about each chapter. I printed it off, and the report lists the chapter, POV character, scene title and description. I’ll be able to use it almost verbatim for a complete synopsis to include in my submission package.

I still write most of my text in Word, but this is extremely helpful. It doesn’t write the plot or anything, but it sure does a lot of the work of getting a novel in shape to submit.

I highly recommend this program based on my experience with it so far.

Oh, almost forgot—one of the best things about this program is that it is completely free. The programmer who designed it, Simon Haynes, is an author himself, so he’s made this into a valuable resource for writers, with no ads or spyware in it.

Here’s the link so you can download this free software for yourself:



Have you tried any writing software besides a word processor like Word or WordPerfect? What do you think about the ones that do more than organizing your work, like generating plots, etc? How do you keep your writing organized so you can find what you’re looking for easier?

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Simply Audiobooks offers lots of choices for book lovers:  http://www.simplyaudiobooks.com/?link_num=1&

They have a huge selection of audio books to buy or rent. Some are available for download, while another program involves receiving audio books through the mail. I haven’t joined the site, and am not endorsing it as I don’t know much about it. It seems like something others might be interested in, though, so I’m giving it a shoutout.

This site also offers a free download each month and July’s is Tarzan of the Apes, by Edgar Rice Burroughs, which was one of my favorite books when I was a child. It took about ten minutes for me to download it to my computer and I didn’t have a problem with it. It works fine in Windows Media Player. They allow the books to be burned to a cd or mp3, and I may try that so I can listen to it while driving or exercising.

The male narrator’s voice is pleasant and his intonation keeps me from being bored. That said, I find myself daydreaming as I try to listen to the story. While that never interferes when I’m reading an actual book, it makes it hard for me to keep up with this guy. I mentally stop to visualize something or contemplate the meaning of an unusual word and he just keeps on going. Next thing I know, I’ve missed something.

I haven’t listened to fiction before, so maybe I’ll enjoy it once I get used to hearing the words instead of seeing them. If the August freebie is a good one, I’ll at least try this one more time.

Do you listen to audio books? What factors determine whether or not a book sounds good to you—the pace, the narrator’s tone of voice, or something else?


Edit 10-9-09: The free audio book for October 2009 is Bram Stoker’s Dracula.

Edit 11-3-09: The free audio book for November 2009 is All About Jeeves, by P. G. Wodehouse.

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Editor Unleashed Forum and Smashwords sponsored a contest recently, and today published an e-book of the top 40 flash fiction stories.  Laurel Wilczek was the Grand Prize Winner,  but my story, Time for a Change, was chosen as one of the top 40 entries in the contest, out of 280.

The stories are each less than 1,000 words, and cover a broad spectrum of genres. This free anthology is offered in several formats, including PDF, Kindle, HTML, and others, so you can read it online or download it to your computer. For me, the PDF worked best.

Take advantage of this opportunity to read some free flash fiction.



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I just ran across another free book to download, but don’t have time to read it right now. Glancing through it, though, I’ve moved it to the top of my “to read soon” list. Mugging the Muse: Writing Fiction for Love and Money, by Holly Lisle, covers a variety of topics–ideas, characters, dialogue, writing groups, agents, editors, collaborating, and much more. I read the first few pages; it’s well-written, easy to understand, and interesting.

I wanted to keep reading, but am in the middle of finishing a book I’m supposed to review for Thomas Nelson, and I’ve already requested another one from them that has to have the  review posted on April 27. It’s a special promo, with only 300 available for bloggers, so I am fortunate to get an advance copy, but that means I have to prioritize.

Holly Lisle also has some novels available as free downloads on the same site, including Fire in the Mist, and Sympathy for the Devil. There’s also a book of essays, fiction, and poetry about September 11, called Together We Stand. If anyone has a chance to read any of these, let me know if you recommend them.

Anyway, I thought some of you might be interested in reading Mugging the Muse, so here’s the link:


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