I’m the first to admit, I’m tool challenged, and living with my guy, a real-life MacGyver, that can be a real problem. I mean, how the hell does one tell the difference between a socket and a crescent wrench, and why should she want to? And what’s up with the flathead vs Phillips head screw drivers? Really, one would work just fine—if they’d simply make all those screws the same. I guess it’s a guy thing, but hubs has at least a dozen tool boxes, and I’m not talking about the ones you can fit behind the seat of a truck. We’re talking monsters. Six feet tall with wheels and eighty-five drawers full of shiny guy toys.
The sheer number of tools hubs claims to need boggles my mind but, then again, since beginning my writing career, I’ve discovered there are tools I can’t live without either. Unfortunately, as with hand tools, a writer’s tools are only as good as their user, and yeah, I’m challenged here as well. Oh, some are simple enough even I can understand and appreciate their value. I love my jumbo thesaurus and four dictionaries. The low tech pile of magazines stacked in the corner are a must have for a visual brain like mine. My netbook, laptop, and smartphone are never out of reach and I can no longer remember what I did without Google search and Grammar Girl. Online craft courses are a Godsend and my friends on social media are constantly sharing various links that make all the difference in expanding my writing skills.
I have found, however, that some bring more problems than solutions, at least for me. With November just around the corner, I won’t get into my opinion of NaNoWriMo. I’ll just say that scrambling to write a book through that dumpster diving school of writing is a visit to hell I will NEVER experience again. My blood pressure shoots into the red zone just thinking about my first and last attempt at NaNo. And while all that pissed off blood is bubbling in my veins, what the hell is up with Microsoft making it nearly impossible to find a download of a previous version of their software? I’m an author, dang it! Not a computer geek. Don’t they realize I have more pressing issues to consider than navigating the differences between Word 97 and 2016? Why can’t they just leave well enough alone?
Doesn’t Microsoft understand that after coming up with the idea for a story, researching its elements and locations, then pouring out blood, sweat, and tears to weave all that info into a grammatically correct adventure others will enjoy—beyond the author’s mother and best friend—a finished manuscript needs to be polished and formatted to an editor or agent’s satisfaction. And that means searching out and then understanding the little symbols and gadgets that allow proper utilization of paragraphs placement, left justified, page breaks and indent. Then there are ellipses, headers, and page numbers, right justified, hanging indents, and Widow/Orphans. It’s enough to make a grown woman howl in frustration. In my case, just last week, the howling was accompanied by frustrated tears. Widow/Orphans? Really?
Thank God for the most important tool of all. If you’re anything like me, you know all about the generous kindness of guardian angel author friends. I’m happy to report, with a whole lot of vodka and a bit of help from my GAAFs my polished and formatted manuscript finally sailed through cyberspace to my agent’s inbox. Take that, Microsoft!
My tears have dried, and my blood pressure is back to normal, pretty much, but as I told my GAAFs, if I ever track down those widows and orphans, I’m knocking them out!
*Deep breath* Okay, rant over. So, what tools have you found that you can’t do without? Care to share?
When Mac isn’t trying to figure out the newest version of Word, she spends her time weaving HEAs for her characters, like those in her Players series from KensingtonBooks — Oh, and the first three books of the series are all on sale next week. All three for under 4 bucks!