I am a big Joe Haldeman fan. So much so that I get nervous around him when I see him at conventions. Today, his upcoming novel, Work Done for Hire arrived, courtesy of Ace Books. Now I have something else to read on my upcoming vacation. I can’t wait!
Holiday season is upon us, and for those who celebrate Hanukkah, it is already here. I thought for this week’s Quick Tip, I’d offer a suggestion that I used during the holidays last year: Using Evernote to create a quick, ad hoc thank you list for holiday gifts you receive. It is actually very simple.
Step 1: Snap a photo of each gift you receive
There are several ways you can do this, depending on the context. I typically use my iPhone, open up the Evernote app, and use the photo Quick Note option (see the screen capture below) to snap a photo and create a note.
I tend to try to capture these photos as soon as possible so that I don’t forget. But if you are looking for a creative variation, you might consider snapping of photo of you using the gift. Then you have a photo to send with your thank you note.
Step 2: Title the note with the gift and the name of the gift-giver
Once I’ve got the photo of the note in Evernote, I’ll title the note with what the gift is and the name of the person (or persons) who gave it to me. For example:
- Yankees baseball shirt from Kelly
- “I’d rather be writing” license plate frame from Mom and Dad
If the gift is for one of the kids, I’ll add who it is for in the title:
- Star Wars Angry Birds game for the Little Man from Jen and Jason
Step 3: Tag the note
I don’t use tags frequently, as I have written before, but using tags to manage lists is one of those exception I find particularly useful. After I’ve snapped the photo and added a title, I’ll tag the note “thank you.”
This is mostly for local folks in the Arlington/Northern Virginia area who happen to be science fiction fans and/or interested in hearing a reading. I will be reading at the Washington Science Fiction Association meeting this Friday, December 6 at 9:45 pm.
— Ser Darth KotUC (@capclave) December 2, 2013
The meeting is held in Arlington, Virginia. Full details are available on the WSFA website. I’ll most likely be reading my story, “Big Al Shepard Plays Baseball on the Moon” which I recently sold and will be appearing sometime in 2014.
Just a few housekeeping notes now that we have entered the final month of the year. (Hard as that is to believe.)
- The family and I head on our annual holiday vacation in the middle of the month. Because I will be on vacation, and because I will be focusing on writing the second draft of my novel, blog posts may be a little more sporadic than usual. That said:
- I posted a schedule of Going Paperless posts through the end of the year and I plan to stick to this schedule. That makes tomorrows post the last Quick Tip of 2013–and stay-tuned for that one because I think it is pretty useful for the holiday season.
- I started reading my novel draft yesterday, taking notes, and I expect it to take 10-12 days for me to finish. In the meantime, I am trying to finish up a novelette before I start writing the second draft of the novel. I am back into fiction-writing-takes-priority mode which means that posts here will either be scheduled ahead of time, or written after I’ve gotten my fiction writing for the day finished.
- I’m planning some changes to the blog for 2014, the most significant of which are (a) revamping my Bibliography, adding an Appearances page (well, maybe), and most significant, (c) putting a time limit on how long comments are open on a post. You’d be surprised how many comments I get on posts that are 2 or 3 years old.
- After December 14, responses to email may slow down a bit. For reasons, see #1 above. If you email me after December 14, don’t expect to hear back until early January. This way, if you do hear back sooner, you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
That’s all for now. Just wanted to get these things out there while they were on my mind.
After two-and-a-half months in a drawer (virtual and otherwise), I took out the first draft of my novel in order to begin reading it today, in preparation for writing the second draft. I thought I’d capture the moment in a selfie, with me and my first draft together at the beginning with the idea that I’d capture us again at the end when the second draft is finished.
I expect to finish writing the draft by March 31, 2014, which is 120 days from today. It will be interesting to see how I look (to say nothing of the manuscript) when that 120 is over.
As I have mentioned before, second drafts are complete rewrites for me. The first draft is where I tell myself the story, and the second draft is where I tell it to the reader, now that I know the story myself. I am really excited to get started and see how things go.
The first draft of the novel came in at 92,200 words, which is the final count, not including several false starts. I wonder how long the second draft will be?
First, let me congratulate everyone who participated in NaNoWriMo this year. Writing 50,000 words in a month is not easy. I did not participate this year, but my writing streak continues. I’ve written every day for the last 132 days, and I’ve written 275 out of the last 277 days. I’m fairly certain I’ve written more in 2013 than in the entire 10 years that preceded it.
Here is what my fiction-writing looked like in November. (For those curious, you can compare it to how I did in October.)
My writing was up from October. I wrote just shy of 30,000 words in the month of November, and missed my daily goal of 500 words only 3 times. Indeed, my daily average for the month was 971 words. The red line shows my 7-day moving average for the month and you can see that it is well above 500 words for the month. It is for that reason that I am raising my daily goal, starting today, from 500 words to 700 words.
Those two spikes of about 3,000 words is me writing the final draft of my story, “Big Al Shepard Plays Baseball on the Moon.” I finished the final draft on November 6, sent it out on submission, and sold it 4 hours later.
In addition to finishing (and selling) that story (a 6,300 word piece, as it turned out), I also went through 4 drafts of a new flash fiction story. That story was sent out in November as well. And I wrote about 12,000 words of the first draft of another alternate history story. I hope to at least finish the first draft of that before I start writing the second draft of my novel this month.
As of November 30, I have written 244,000 words of fiction in 2013.
One new piece of data I began collecting in November was the time I spend writing; not just how much time, but when, during the day, I do my writing. November is the first full month for which I have this “timesheet” data.
I have said that I probably spend 20-40 minutes a day doing my writing. This was based on my sense of how much time I was spending. In November, I logged a total of 21 hours and 20 minutes of writing time. This was spread of 36 distinct writing sessions that averaged 35 minutes each. But since some days I wrote more than once a day, my average time spent writing each day in November was 47 minutes, a bit longer than my estimate. This can be illustrated using a bubble chart.
In this chart, the x-axis represents the day of the month. The y-axis is the time of day that I started my writing session. The size of the bubble represents how long the writing session went. Blue bubbles are less than 1 hour; red bubbles are an hour or more. From this chart, you can see most of my writing still happens in the evenings, after 6 pm.
I submitted 3 stories in October, sold one, and I’m still waiting to hear back on one.
Today, I start reading my novel draft. While I am doing that, I’ll be working to finish the first draft of this alternate history novelette I’ve been working on. I’d estimate that I’ll begin writing the second draft of the novel around December 18 or so. Stay tuned.
It is pretty rare that don’t blog for two days in a row, but I take it as a sign that I am having a good time doing other things. My sister and her family are in town this weekend for Thanksgiving, and we had a great couple of days so far. We had a very nice Thanksgiving dinner, even thought we had to eat in the home office, because our kitchen is a little too small for eight people:
The turkey came out really, really good. In an effort to minimize the amount of cooking (and therefore stress) we ordered our turkey pre-cooked from Whole Foods. We picked it up on Wednesday and then had to heat it up on Thursday. It took about 2-1/2 hours to heat the turkey, but it was delicious!
On Black Friday, we avoided all forms of shopping. My sister and brother-in-law wanted to take their kids to a museum, so we all took the Metro downtown and spent several hours at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural Histories–or as the Little Man calls its, “The one with dinosaurs.”
When I first moved to the Washington, D.C. area over 11 years ago, I went to these museums constantly. Now, I rarely go and it had been a while since I’d been to the Natural History museum. It was fun, and the kids had a blast. It’s easy to forget we have such great museums (and free, too!) within a few minutes drive or Metro ride from the house.
Oh, the Little Man is insisting I post a picture of a dinosaur, so here you are, courtesy of the Little Man:
Despite all of the fun, I’ve still managed to find time to write every day so far. I’ve got about 1,600 word or so to go to hit 30,000 words for the month of November, and so that is what I’ll be aiming for today.
Kelly and my sister have headed to the movies–Kelly needed a break from the kids, and so me and my brother-in-law are staying home with the kids while the girls have a few hours respite. I’m glad that there are a few more days left before I return to work.
Even better: two weeks from today, we leave on our winter vacation that will take us through the holidays and the end of the year. Three weeks off! I can’t wait.
And tomorrow: I start reading the first draft of my novel in preparation to begin writing the second draft later int he month.
How has your weekend been so far?
A few more hours and Thanksgiving weekend begins. It can’t come soon enough. I have been buried at work, trying to shepard two fairly large software development projects to term at the same time, and it has become something of a nightmare. In fact, it reminds me of the fever dreams I used to have as a kid, where I’d find myself in the awkward (to say nothing of horrifyingly absurd) position of having to rewire the world.
I’m heading home around noon today, and will work the rest of the afternoon from home, mainly because there is the possibility of snow in the forecast this afternoon, and snow, combined with everyone in Washington, D.C. being let out early on the eve before Thanksgiving makes for a traffic nightmare that I would like to avoid.
My sister and her family are coming down for Thanksgiving this weekend. We went up to their place last year and so we are hosting this year. A traditional dinner, turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, lots of side dishes. My sister is making grasshopper pie. Neither Kelly or I are sophisticated cooks in any way, so we took the easy way out: we ordered a pre-cooked dinner from Whole Foods, and I am so glad we did. It also eliminates the stress of cooking tomorrow. All we really have to do is heat things up.
In addition to getting in a lot of family time this weekend, I also hope to get close to wrapping up the first draft of this alternate history novelette. By the time the draft is done, it will likely have morphed into an alternate history novella, but I can already see a lot that can be cut. I’m aiming for at least 4,000 words over the long weekend, but we’ll see how things go. I’m really pushing because Sunday is December 1 and that means returning to my novel.
On Sunday, I’ll start reading the first draft of my novel for the first time. I plan on reading slowly and taking lots of notes, and I expect it to take about 2 weeks or so for me to get through the whole thing, plus another day or two to organize my notes. I won’t start writing the second draft during that time, which means that when I am not reading the novel, I can focus on writing the second draft of the alternate history. I’d like to have the second draft done by the time I start on the second draft of the novel.
I’m thinking about upping my daily word count goal beginning December 1. It has been 500 words since I started back in February. This is what I aim for each day. I don’t always hit it, but usually go beyond it. I’ve averaged just under 900 words a day. I’ll probably up my goal to 750 or 800 words and see how things go. I’m hoping it will help me push ahead on the second draft of the novel.
In addition to the big Thanksgiving dinner, I am using my family as an audience to practice reading a story. I’ve been invited to give a reading at the Washington Science Fiction Association in December, and I’m planning on reading the story I recently sold. But I should probably practice first.
I’ll probably be blogging here and there over the weekend. In the meantime, stay safe and have a very happy Thanksgiving1.
- And for those of you outside the U.S. who don’t celebrate Thanksgiving, have a great weekend. ↩
It is hard to believe that Thanksgiving is nearly upon us, and before you know it, we’ll be rolling in 2014. A new year means New Year’s resolutions, and in addition to diet and exercise, there are probably some people out there who want to get started going paperless in the New Year. I hear quite frequently that people want to get started with Evernote in some way or another, but aren’t sure where to begin. This week’s post is intended to help those who wish to get started, by providing a road map for how you might do this. It is a longer post than usual, but hopefully, it provides everything you need in one place to get started. Here is said roadmap, in the form of an infographic. Below the roadmap, I provide more details:
There are 5 main phases to the process. If you go through each of the 5 phases, you should at the end, find yourself growing increasingly paperless day-by-day. That said, if you have already completed one or more of the phases, you can use this as a guide as to where you might go next.
To keep things simple, each phase has three steps or parts to it. These are detailed in the sections below.
Phase 1: Select your tools
A. Evernote. Evernote is the centerpiece to my paperless life. It is where everything is stored, and where I do a fair amount of searching, note-taking, and capturing information. These days, Evernote comes in a variety of flavors, but the most basic version is still free. Some of the options include:
- Evernote (free version). Good for getting a feel for what Evernote can do, especially if you’ve never used Evernote before, or if you are uncertain how you might use it.
- Evernote Premium. ($5/month or $45/year). Adds some nice features like more upload capacity each month (1 GB), offline notebooks, smarter searching, and things like PDF annotation when you use Skitch (Evernote’s screen capture and annotation tool).
- Evernote Business. ($10/user/month). Ideal for business looking to go paperless. Have a shared library of business documents that all users in your business can access. Higher upload capacities and integration with some other applications like Salesforce.
If you do not yet have an Evernote account, by using this link, when you sign up, you’ll get a free month of Evernote Premium. Signing up is quick and easy–and for the basic version of Evernote, it is free!
B. Choose a scanner. I use the Fujitsu ScanSnap s1300i. I’ve been using it for over a year and I love it. But there are lots of scanners out there and it can be difficult to figure out what’s best for you. In determining what scanner to choose, you should consider the following:
- Does it integrate seamlessly with Evernote? With my scanner, I put the paper in the feeder, press a single button, and the document is scanned directly into Evernote. No additional steps required.
- How much paper will you be scanning over time? It may be that you scan in a lot of documents up front, but less over time. For me, I’ve found that when I started out, I was scanning 5-6 new documents a day. Today, I’m scanning 2-3 documents a week. This is in large part because, having gone paperless, I no longer get a lot of paper.
- Can the scanner do duplex scanning in one pass? In other words, can it scan both sides of the page as the same time. This speeds up the scanning process.
- Can the scanner feed multiple pages? Some scanners only feed a single page and then you have to slide in another, push a button and do it again. Scanners that have sheet feeders that allow them to detect and scan multiple pages really speed up the scanning process. My scanner has a feeder that holds something like 15 pages at a time.
Another option is to look at the Doxie One scanner. This is a mobile scanner. It is small and easily fits into a backpack or messenger bag. I have one and I use it when I am traveling and find I still need to scan in documents. (It came in handy last year when we were on vacation in December and ended up closing on the refinancing of our house).
For some people, a desktop scanner is too costly, or simply not a viable option. If you have a mobile device like an iPhone, Android, iPad, etc., there are apps available that allow you to use the camera in your device to scan documents. In fact, Evernote’s mobile application has a “document camera” built into it. You might consider trying out this app, or one of the many other document scanning applications available before investing in a scanner, if you think a scanner is overkill in your situation.
C. Select a staple remover. You can pick up a staple remover almost anywhere, if you don’t already have one. Early on, I found that many of the documents I received that I wanted to scan in were stapled together. Having a staple remover proved handy.
These are the basic tools you need to get started. Other tools can come in handy down the road, but I don’t want to overwhelm you.
For more tips on the tools you use to go paperless, see my post on the Tools of the Trade, but keep in mind this post is nearly 2 years old. The concepts, however, still hold.
It was 20° when I woke up this morning at 6 am, and in the 2-1/2 hours since, has risen to 22°. In my book, that is pretty cold, despite having been back on the east coast for over a decade now.
Still, there is something pleasant about being out in the cold, particularly when the humidity is low and the air is dry as it is today. The windows are not frosted over so there is no scraping off ice. You can see your breath on the air, white as a cumulous cloud. Best of all, there is the wonderful feeling of taking a deep breath of ice cold air into your lungs, holding it there until it warms a little, and then blowing it out.
I love that about cold weather. It might make my morning walks a little chillier, but I find I spent my time taking deep, refreshing breaths of icy air, and there is something so relaxing about that.
With the passing of this sinus congestion, I finally had a good night’s sleep last night. Take a look at this,
and compare it to the three bad night’s of sleep I had last week. It is a huge difference.