Monday, May 8, 2017

Product Review---Novelize Writing Software

I am a disorganized writer. I don't outline or plot ahead of time. I often find myself going down rabbit holes and then having to find my way out, usually resulting in lost words and time. My writing area has scraps of paper with notes and ideas scribbled on them.

It's not very efficient.

It's been nearly two years since I published a new book and I'm jumping in with both feet with a series of Regency romances involving a matchmaker. There will be some character crossover, too. I'm planning to write four books (at least) in this series. Having a way to keep it all organized seemed like a good idea and a much better idea than scraps of paper and random notebooks.

I went looking for a writing software program. Scrivener seems to be the big name in this area and from what I understand, many writers love it. Maybe I'd love it too...but I have a Chromebook and can't download Scrivener or any of the many other writing software programs that I found online.

All but one...Novelize.

Before I get into my review, a caveat---As a Chromebook user, it seems my options are either Google Docs or Novelize so this review will be a compare and contrast of those two things. If you have another writing program that you love, good for you. That's not what this review is about.

Novelize is a web based program so you can log in and use it from any device. However, you have to be online to have access. Google docs is also web based and can be accessed across devices, but it can also be used offline. This may not be a big issue most of the time, but if you can't be connected all the time or like to go to non-wifi accessible places to write without the temptation to check Facebook, then that might be a problem for you.

Here's a screen shot of my current WIP. As you can see, it's got the default title of My First Novel. That will change soon. 

On the left are the chapters and scenes that I have created. You can easily click to move to a different scene or chapter. You can also scroll down through the list of chapters and scenes (this is your outline) to see what is coming next without leaving the scene you are typing. 

In the right corner, below where it says Logout, you can see the total word count. I have had some issues with that feature which I believe are related to cutting and pasting my scenes (I got Novelize after I was about 1/2 done w/this book). If you cut and paste, you need to then go into the scene and at least type a space for the word count to register. 

At the bottom of each scene there is a word count for that scene and a word count for each chapter too. 

If you click "organize" you'll see something like this: 

This gives you a list of chapters and scenes which you can drag and drop. So if I decided to put the scene called "Naughty Dream" first, I could drag and drop it up to chapter one, rather than cutting and pasting as I would with Google Docs.

Here I have closed the list on the left and can type full screen. This is a break between scenes. You can see that I wrote this scene on April 26 and it has a word count of 1620. Then it goes on to the next scene. At the bottom of the scene is a box for notes. This is very handy. For example, if I'm further along in the book and I have an idea that will affect earlier scenes, instead of writing on a scrap of paper or post-it note,  or going back to that scene and writing a note in a different font or something so I see it, I can use the chart on the left (not pictured here, but in the shots above) to find the earlier scene, go to the notes and write in what I need to remember for later, then get back to what I'm working on presently without getting way off track or distracted by a typo that I see in the earlier scene.

One thing that Novelize does not seem to have is scene breaks so if you usually have *** or ### between your scenes, you'll need to add those in at the end or put them at the end of each scene. In Google Docs, you can just type them as you go.  Correction: Anita at Novelize tells me that Novelize does include scene breaks. 

In this screen shot you can see that the column on the left now says "Notebook". Here you have tabs where you can keep notes on characters (there's also a name generator here somewhere), locations, dates, and other notes.

There is also a "summaries" tab, which gives you a place to write your general ideas about the beginning, middle and end of your book.

Since I am working on several books with some recurring characters, I went to the Novels tab and created more books. I haven't written scenes, but I have used the notes to write things about those characters as I am working on them in this book. This should save me from having to search all over book one to find out what I said about a particular character when it comes time to write book two.

In the Export tab, you can download the book in it's entirety in Word or PDF. It automatically generates a title page and also includes the page breaks and page numbers for a professional look.

Support---I had a question about something and clicked on "support" and typed in my issue. I promptly got an email from a real person who was very attentive. I was impressed.

One feature that Novelize does not have (but I think they are working on it) is find/replace. I often use that to go back to an earlier scene, so I hope I can get used to using the scene outline on the left to do that instead. Also, once you download the doc into Word, you can use find/replace there or convert the Word Doc to Google docs and do it there if you're a Chromebook user.

Novelize is $5 per month or $45 per year. They have a generous 17 day free trial so even for those who are only able to write once or twice a week, this should be enough time to get a feel for the product and whether or not you like it.

I'm still in the free trial, but plan to sign on for a year. I like the outlines and the ability to move easily from scene to scene and book to book. You can easily see where your scenes are a little short and it helps to see if any of your chapters are way out of line on their word count.

My usual method of writing and then looking at notes I've written on paper often results in me losing my focus (because I'm busy looking for the notes or while I'm searching for the notes a shiny object goes by and there I go...).

I usually write straight through, in part because otherwise I'd just have random scenes to organize later. With Novelize, if I decide to move on to another scene or I'm not in the mood to write a sex scene, I can put in the scene description and any notes and then move on, rather than laboring over a scene that just isn't working today.

Overall, I'm excited to have Novelize and look forward to starting a new novel and using it from start to finish.

If you have any questions, I encourage you to contact Novelize. As I said before, I was impressed with quick and personal customer service.

Click here to find out more.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Book Review----Untamed Hearts by Casey McKay

Casey McKay is back with a bang (or three) with her latest release Untamed Hearts.

Kate's life is pretty sucky and the suck gets worse when she realizes she has two options---take a slimy job with a tabloid magazine to write an expose involving a dating website, which also includes traveling to Alaska or go home and live with her New Jersey no less.

Kate's already seen New Jersey and she's pretty clear on how living with her mother is likely to go, so she takes the job.

After exchanging a few emails with Ben, she gets on a plane and heads to the wild frontier of our 49th state (I looked this up since I wasn't sure if Alaska or Hawaii was number 50).

In her rush to leave her old life behind, and make sure her friend Elle doesn't talk her out of it, Kate fails to read all of the email attachments and information Ben has sent her.

Email attachments aren't really that important, are they?

Sooooo...she arrives in Alaska and meets not just Ben, but his best friend and roommate, Aaron. Hmmm. What could all of this mean?

Yep, you guessed it...two sexy, dominant men looking for a woman to share between them.

This is a charming story. Sometimes with menage stories, the men become sort of indistinguishable, but in this book, Casey has created two distinct but complementary personalities with Ben and Aaron and it all works together very Kate's pleasure and the reader's too.

There's intrigue, betrayal, triumph and enough naughty, naughty to keep the pages turning and your lady parts squirming.

Get your copy. Also FREE for Kindle Unlimited members!


Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Book Review----The Fantasy Effect by Paige Fieldsted

Confession: I agreed to read and review this book and then I found out it was this author's first book and it was 76,000 words long. What had I done? I'd said I'd read the book and I also wanted to support a new author, so I started reading, though in the back of my mind I was thinking about what to say if I just didn't think I could get through all 76,000 words.

Then, in the first few pages I realize that the heroine has the hots for her husband's best friend.

What have I gotten myself into? This was the most well written first (or fourth or fifth) book that I've read in a long time. Kudos to Paige Fieldsted.

The plot kept me completely intrigued. When I wasn't reading the book, I'd catch myself thinking about it. Was this book going to have a HEA ending? And if so, what would it be? What did I want it to be? What should Chloe do? What would I do?

Basically, Chloe lusts after Carson, her husband's best friend. But, she loves her husband, Quinn, too. So, one night the three of them are out and Chloe suggests a threesome. The two men agree and it's one hot night.

That's not enough and Carson wants Chloe all to himself. That's pretty much what Chloe wants too.

But, Chloe loves Quinn. They have great sex and he's eager to have another menage because he loves how much pleasure it gives his wife. There's nothing jerky or unlikable about Quinn, either.

Carson gets her hot and bothered in a way that she's never experienced.

This book felt very real, despite being called The Fantasy Effect. Chloe would tell Carson she was done with him and work hard to resist, but her resistance wavered and they were back in the sack (or kitchen counter or shower or...).

Chloe's best friend, Dani, was a great character. She was angry with Chloe for what she was doing, but when the crap hit the fan, she was there to help her friend pick up the pieces. No "I told you so" or judgment.

This book is thought provoking and full of raw emotion. Highly recommended.


Monday, April 3, 2017

Book Review---Alien Mate by Cara Bristol

Wow, this was out of this world (Nyuk, nyuk). 

Let's get started with the blurb:

I'm Starr Elizabeth Conner. Earth's government falsely convicted me of a crime, packed me on a ship with other female felons, and sent us to Dakon, a primitive, frozen wasteland of a planet. Why? Earth needs minerals, and Dakon is desperate for females. But I'm no barbarian’s 'mail order bride,' even if he is super tall, muscular, and the chief of his tribe. He doesn’t want a BBW blonde, either--it's written all over his chiseled face. He'll be truly angry if he ever learns what my 'crime' was.

 I am Torg. I have waited 34 rotations for a mate of my own. With this shipment, I was sure to get a fine, sturdy mate who'll bear me many daughters. Instead, I receive a small, curvy, pale-haired female who looks at me with anger and fear. It is only when we 'kiss' that I believe things may work out between us. But I'm hearing rumors that Starr and her shipmates are law-breakers. To survive, Dakonians must obey all laws … or be exiled into the frozen wasteland.  Just when I have found her, will I have to send my mate to die?

Don't miss this sexy, suspenseful sci-fi romance--preorder your copy of Alien Mate today!

I totally loved this book from start to finish. Cara Bristol continues to be one of the few authors who surprises me with the twists and turns of her plots. When the "bad guy" was revealed I sat up in bed thinking "damn, she got me again!"

Starr is smart and feisty, but also loves being cuddled and protected by her burly, horned mate. Yes, he has cute little horns that bring new meaning to the phrase "horny". 

Torg is growly and gruff, but equally tender and devoted. There are plenty of secondary characters to keep things interesting, but not so many that they all seemed like a mush of voices in the background. 

This book goes live on April 10, but you'll want to pre-order your copy today. Right now!

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Book Review---Motorcycle Master by Maggie Carpenter

Maggie Carpenter's Motorcycle Master (Bad Boy Angel Book One) was an awesome read. The hero and heroine were interesting people with well developed characters and sizzling chemistry. Marco and Kat are both working undercover in a motorcycle gang trying to get to elusive drug lord HH.

What I particularly liked were the twists and turns in the book. With a premise where they are both working undercover (but unknown to the other) I expected that the majority of the book would be the two of them struggling with their desire but conflicted over the fact that they are not really who they say they are. That would have been an interesting book, but predictable.

Motorcycle Master is anything but predictable. Marco and Kat figure out that they are both on the same side early in the story and then work together as partners in and out of the bedroom.

Another twist that I enjoyed was the fact that the leader of the motorcycle gang, ostensibly a bad, bad person, was actually rather likeable and smart. It gave me that weird conflict that I had when watching The Sopranos---"gee, why are people being mean to Tony? Oh, wait, he's a bad man." Kudos to Maggie Carpenter for creating a multi-dimensional bad guy.

At 70,000 words, this is a hefty book that will hold you attention from beginning to end. Steamy sex and spanking, romance and intrigue. Get your copy today.


Saturday, March 18, 2017

Book Review---Adopting Katie by Allysa Hart

When you're a book reviewer, and I am (I have a blog afterall, doesn't that mean something?) you get the opportunity to read books by a variety of authors, so I was pleased when Allysa Hart offered me the chance to read and review Adopting Katie.   

More than a romance, this is actually a love story told in a very different way. Katelyn and Mark are very much in love. After their marriage, Katelyn becomes Katie, at least at home. In addition to a Daddy who is both stern and indulgent, Katie's extended family includes "Uncle" Keith and "Auntie" Rosie, who have been friends with Mark for many years. 

I don't want to give away plot details, but I will say that this book takes some unexpected twists and turns that aren't the usual in this genre. The sexual content of the book is minimal, but there is love in abundance. 

If you're curious about the age play dynamic, this is a book that will give you a different perspective on a topic that is a hot button issue for many. 

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Book Review---Kenan's Mate by Sue Lyndon

I have so many firsts with Sue Lyndon. Claiming Their Maiden was my first menage book. Then there was a foursome in Claiming Their Princess, another first for me. I enjoyed each of these books more than I expected I would. 

Still, when I learned that Kenan's Mate was a dark sci-fi romance, I was a bit hesitant. Dark? I'm more of a sunshine and daisies kind of reader. But, Sue hasn't let me down before, so I gave it a try. 
I'm glad I did. 

The book was longer than most of Sue Lyndon's books which allowed for a slow unfolding of the characters' emotions and back stories. 

Laylah is on her way to a three month vacation on the planet Tallia when the ship is attacked, all the human males are killed and she and all the other women aboard are taken captive. Even trip insurance doesn't cover that sort of thing. 

The wormhole they traveled through is closed. There is no escape. 

Kenan rescues Laylah from the ship and claims her as his mate. 

This book contains some non-consensual sex scenes (as well as plenty of hot scenes with two willing participants). I wasn't sure how I'd feel about that, but it was handled in a way that worked with the story. I don't want to give away any spoilers. 

The world the Sue Lyndon has created on Tallia is complex and works well with the more dark aspects of this story. 

I knew the punishments might be more harsh than I tend to care for, but it was handled well. Laylah broke a rule early in the book so I knew the time would come when Kenan would find out about it and strict discipline would follow. Knowing it was coming, but not knowing when, created enough tension to keep me turning the pages and wondering how it would all play out. 

Kenan is part human part Kleaxian. Laylah is human but now must live the rest of her life in Kleaxian society. Each one must learn to appreciate aspects of the other's culture as they embrace the love that grows between them. 

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It was suspenseful, dramatic, sexy and romantic. Everything you could want in a book, plus a large red alien. 

Get your copy now. 

P.S. I tried to knit a collar and leash (which plays a part in this book) but it was rather pitiful looking. I'll have to actually use a pattern next time.