What does storytelling have to do with marketing?

If you are selling ANYTHING to others (a book, a product, a service), you need to grab onto this idea of using stories for marketing. And I’ve yet to see a better basic outline of how that works than this video by StoryBrand founder Donald Miller.

He tells you why story works, how it works, and why you’ve probably got the wrong idea if you’re promoting yourself as the hero arriving to save the customer’s day. It’s 20 minutes long, and WELL worth the time.


(Clicking on the image will take you to the page with the video.)

Hot Tip: How to make Scrivener’s display work on high-res screens like Lenovo laptops

It’s difficult to express how excited I am to share this fix. I realize that it will only be useful to a small number of people in the world, but for those few, those frustrated few — may it bring them the same joy it gave me.

The Problem

Lenovo Yoga 2 ProA while ago, I bought a beautiful little machine: a Lenovo Yoga 2. It is a sweet, light-weight machine with a gorgeous quad-HD display and a lot of flexibility. Touchscreen. Like a tablet and laptop in one. Powerful enough to do anything I want it to do when I travel.

But when I installed Scrivener (the world’s best word processing software for writers), the display was all wrong. The dialog boxes were super small, the icons nearly microscopic.

You’d think that it was just a setting in the Control Panel that could be changed. But you’d be wrong. Long, long, long story short (months of asking Scrivener support forums if there was a fix and hearing the same answer: nope, not yet; trying a half dozen proposed solutions like special software that changes the screen resolution when launching Scrivener; etc etc etc), there wasn’t anything I could do.


The Hero

Lee Powell

Lee Powell

Then I happened to cross paths with Lee Powell, the programmer behind Scrivener for Windows and One Stop for Writers. Yeah, that Lee Powell!

Understand, it’s not like I asked him about this problem right away, because that would just be rude, right? Can you imagine?

“Oh, hi! You’re Lee Powell? The maker of Scrivener for Windows? Hey, did you know that your software display sucks on high-res laptops? Any chance you can you fix that for me?”

No. I was not going to be that woman.

Nonetheless, when it seemed like a good time to mention it, I asked whether a fix might be on the horizon. And guess what? This guy isn’t just a fabulous programmer who has saved the global population of Windows writers from the lack of Scrivener, he also happened to know something that I didn’t find in months of searching for an answer. (Go figure. He is the expert, after all!)

He said that until a fix comes out, I might try a solution that worked for someone else who was trying to get Adobe software to display correctly on a Lenovo*.

It worked.



Here’s how you can do it, too.

The Fix

First, tell Windows to look for an external manifest file. Then create the external manifest files.

We’re going to venture into the Windows registry editor, so WATCH OUT. You can totally do this (I did it!), but tread lightly. The first step is always backing up the registry file that’s already there.

Backup Your Registry

  1. Press Windows Button + R, type “regedit”, and then click OK.
  2.  If Windows asks you “Do you really want to do this?” then click Yes or OK.
  3.  Go to File > Export.
  4. Under “Export range” select All. Save the file to your Desktop or Documents folder and give it a name like “Windows Registry before Scrivener fix.reg”.

Tell Windows to Prefer an External Manifest File

  1. Navigate to the following registry subkey:
    • HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE > SOFTWARE > Microsoft > Windows > CurrentVersionSideBySide
  2. Right-click, select NEW > DWORD (32 bit) Value
  3. Type PreferExternalManifest, and then press ENTER.
  4. Right-click PreferExternalManifest, and then click Modify.
  5. Enter Value Data and select Decimal.
  6. Click OK. Exit Registry Editor.

Give Scrivener an External Manifest File

  1. Open a Windows Explorer window.
  2. Navigate to the folder where Scrivener is installed (likely C:\Program Files (x86)\Scrivener).
  3. Download the following text file to that directory: manifest.txt
  4. Rename the file to Scrivener.exe.manifest

That should do it! You may need to reboot before the changes take effect.

* For the curious, here’s a link to the original article about the fix for Adobe software on a Lenovo laptop.

When writing at full speed, keep these checklists close

I’ve been around the writing and publishing world for decades. Years worth of Writer’s Digest magazines and blog posts and how-to books are in my head. After a while, you see the same things again and again. But that doesn’t make them any less true. Often, it’s more about having the one tip you need at the moment you need it.

My new favorite source is One Stop for Writers. I’ve been watching them as they launched their new online writing tools and the quality of the graphic memes and information that pours out of these people is phenomenal. Here’s an example:


Click the graphic for some other great checklists

How often are you working on a short story and need to develop some characters quickly? Or deep into your novel and wondering, “Why is this character falling flat? What could I add that would make him more interesting?”

If you’re a Pinterest type person, I’d also recommend you check out their fantastic writing-related Pinterest boards. Checklists include stuff like:

  • tips for better dialogue
  • how to raise the stakes for your character
  • when/how to write a flashback
  • tips for writing deep POV (point of view)
  • when to use backstory
  • words to avoid (over-used crutch words)
  • describing stages of attraction (romance)
  • and lots more, including writing prompts and tips

Now, I’m off to making dinner and hopefully getting some more words down for NaNoWriMo!

Flash Fiction Tips Round-Up
Photo by Przemek Więch on Flickr

Photo by Przemek Więch on Flickr

A few months ago, I joined the staff of Splickety Publishing Group as their new Associate Acquisitions Editor. I’ve been a fan of flash fiction ever since I had kids. It’s been a great way to squeeze a little fiction into my busy day. But I tell you what: there’s nothing like being on the editor side of the equation to pour a little wake-up call into your writing mug.

Oh. My.

The attention to detail! The strict adherence to the submission guidelines! The many, many submissions that (pardon me) are nothing more than “Meh.” And that’s not even counting the ones who don’t seem to grasp what a story is. (Hint: It’s not a moment in time captured through detailed description and heartfelt emotion. Something needs to happen, folks.)

Without further ado, here are some helpful articles on writing flash fiction. Most flash fiction tips boil down to the same basic things, so I’m loathe to repeat them here. If you read the following articles, you’ll get what you need.

The Flash Fiction tips

Meagan Briggs, a fellow editor at Splickety Publishing Group, shared some excellent tips in her guest post The Flash Fiction Challenge on Books & Such.

4 tips from Karen Woodward

Also from Karen: Why flash fiction is a good idea for authors and some Different story structures to try when writing flash fiction.

Some tips from Fiction Factor online magazine

Tips from David Gaffney (he has a really intriguing approach)

7 great flash fiction tips from Skylar Spring in Fiction Southeast

10 tips from J. Timothy King

Note: This assumes you already have a background in writing fiction. Almost all the usual fiction writing techniques apply… these articles just tell you how to adjust for flash fiction.

Why I’m doing NaNoWriMo after all — test driving a new set of tools

I’ve been on the fence about doing NaNoWriMo this year (that’s National Novel Writing Month, and it’s coming up in November). From the conversations I’ve had with writer peeps, I’m not the only one. Who has time for it? Who happens to have a story idea researched, outlined and ready to go? There are so many reasons not to try.

The Game-Changer

Then something happened a few weeks ago that changed things. Maybe it will give you a reason to give NaNo a shot, too. But first, let me set the stage. You should understand my state of mind. (If you’re a writer, you’ll probably recognize it.)

There’s the story I’ve been working on for a couple of years, waiting to be finished. And then there’s the story I’ve been researching and fooling around with for the past few months, still in the “amorphous goo” stage. Which do I choose? Is either one a good candidate for NaNoWriMo? Do I have time to put together the basic setting, characters and loose outline of the story before November 1? If only I could find a shortcut for this development phase.

I think I’ve found it.

There are no shortcuts to great writing

I know, I know. There are no shortcuts. But we all have our go-to tools when it comes to getting it done, right? That handy thesaurus. And the book on plot and structure that shakes us loose during writer’s block. And our favorite book on crafting complex, living characters.

A few weeks ago I beta tested a tool that puts an interactive face on the contents of several fantastic writing books. Have you heard of “The Emotion Thesaurus”, “The Positive Traits Thesaurus” and “The Negative Traits Thesaurus”? And then there’s the rest of the thesaurus collection at WritersHelpingWriters.net. All that is now updated, enhanced and available through a brand new website: OneStopForWriters.com.

Check out their promo video to get the idea:

Distraction-free help during intense writing times

They call One Stop for Writers a “powerful online library” and that’s a good way to put it. Need a quick idea for conflict to spice up a scene? Don’t start googling things and end up watching cat videos on YouTube or Facebook. Instead pull up the Emotion Amplifier Thesaurus to spark ideas about what could put your protagonist at the end of his emotional rope. Pull up the Negative Traits thesaurus and pick something to add tension to the relationships at play.

Then get right back to writing. 

Becca Puglisi wrote a great article covering some of the ways One Stop for Writers could help you research your book smarter, not harder.

How I plan to use it for NaNoWriMo

The big amorphous story blob that I’ve been messing with all summer still needs a lot of help. It seems to me like the perfect opportunity to put One Stop for Writers through its paces.

  • I need to nail down the traits of my main and supporting characters. Not only does One Stop provide trait thesauri, but there are also character worksheets to help me sketch things out quickly.
  • My settings need to be rich and engaging. They’re an important part of this particular story. I’ll use the Setting thesaurus to prompt me with ideas for all five senses.
  • Each of my characters are going to experience a change in perspective as they go through the story. One Stop for Writers has an Emotional Progression worksheet that will help me map this out.
  • I like stories that reflect the central theme or flavor on many levels, throughout every layer of the story. From the setting to the dialects of the characters to the subtle details of it all, I want the reader to experience the emotional journey I’m trying to express. The Symbols and Motifs worksheet is giving me ideas for how I can work those things in.

Beyond NaNoWriMo

One Stop for WritersI’m excited to try this thing out for short stories, too. I’m hoping I can streamline my process in such a way that I can write a short story a week using these tools. One of the areas I’ve been weak as a writer is in the process of writing a story from idea to final draft. There’s got to be a more efficient way.

Just like having a checklist for a repeated but complex task can make all the difference, these tools could help a lot. I’ll be blogging about my progress with it in the coming months!

The bottom line – let’s talk cost

Oh, man, this part’s easy. You can sign up and taste-test the website for free. But get this: you can get the whole kit and kaboodle for one month for just $9. That’s the cost of a mocha and a breakfast sandwich at Starbucks — and you can use this writing library all November long (or whatever month you choose).

No brainer.

(And no, I’m not getting a referral fee for each person who signs up. I’m just really excited about this thing. I’ve daydreamed about developing something similar for a while, and I’m thrilled that I don’t have to do the work to create it — somebody else has already done it for me! I’m so glad that I pursued the opportunity to beta test the site and get a sneak peek.)

P.S. For Scrivener users

By the way, the programming genius behind this online tool is none other than Lee Powell, the guy who did Scrivener for Windows. How cool is that? He’s one of my personal heroes, given how much Scrivener has helped organize my writing life.

UPS brought me a book from the future


You didn’t know those big brown delivery trucks could do that, did you? Neither did I! But sure enough, this book is from the future. I checked the copyright date.

Okay, okay…

If you think something fishy is going on, you’re right. More of a sea mammal than a fish, but it smells fishy, anyway. I was already excited to receive my very own copy of Hidden in Sealskin by my colleague Thea van Diepen, but a simple slip of the keys made this copy all the more special. You see, the copyright date is the year 2105.

That’s 90 years in the future!

She explains all about it on her blog, Expected Aberrations. In fact, her post is a great example of turning a negative to a positive. I’ve had such fun telling my friends about my “book from the future”. I even ripped open the package right in front of the UPS guy and showed him!

Photoshoot antics

In capturing a photo of myself with Thea’s book, I ended up with too many fun photos to leave them languishing on my hard drive. Enjoy!

(P.S. If you were expecting “funnier photos” here, I’m so sorry! The old system I had for emailing my posts did not display photo galleries, so you would only have seen the top photo below. But guess what? The new system via Aweber actually includes them! Honest, I wasn’t just trying to lure you here for some nefarious purpose.)

You know you want one...

You know you want one…

If you thought this was funny…

Spread the joy! Share the top image (or any image) with your peeps on social media and link to Thea’s post (http://www.expectedaberrations.com/the-day-i-discovered-id-written-a-book-from-the-future/) or to her book (http://amzn.to/1FAkHdH).