Tools of the Trade

I am always keenly interested in other authors’ discussions about what they use for writing, whether pen and paper, typewriter, or computer. If computer, then I’m curious about what software they like to use.

Writing itself is probably the most important aspect and quite a few writers seem to like basic, no-frills, no distraction writing software. I’ve used LibreOffice Writer for quite a few years but have to admit that it has several features that I find annoying. For example, the text box that pops up to tell you what page you’re on as you’re scrolling. It’s annoying because it covers my text. The word suggestions, too, can be helpful but also distracting. They can also lend themselves to mistakes. Then there’s the hidden metadata which transfers with the text I’ve copied and pasted into Scribus. That’s handy for remembering formatting, but if I want to create a different formatting scheme, it’s a nuisance.

For a complex work, a way to keep everything organized is nice. This kind of software is often developed to accommodate writers of novels and plays, which I don’t write. Much of my writing is based on research, so this is what I need to organize.

So what are my preferred tools of the trade?

For research and organization I like Zim.

zim_screenshotZim is a graphical text editor which functions like a desktop wiki. I can create notebooks for various writing projects, pages for my main categories, and subpages as well. I can hyperlink these to one another, or to external resources such as a file on my computer or a webpage. I can even add images. One neat feature is being able to create checkbox lists. Very handy.

For writing, gedit.

gedit_screenshotgedit is a simple, open source, Gnome based text editor – no frills, no distractions, no metadata. It comes with just the few tools I need – spell checker and word counter. It also has a “sort” plugin for alphabetizing a list. Perfect for creating indexes.

For notes, reminders, and to-do lists I use Notes.

Notes_screenshotIt’s just a little plugin that came as part of Xfce Goodies, additional software and artwork for the Xfce desktop. It’s clean and simple and easy to use. Like Zim, I can create a group for each writing project. I can create tabs for lists and reminders.

Three simple tools to keep me organized and on track. It doesn’t get any better than that.

Critter Tales Progress Report

Phase one is the writing and editing. I have seven sections on my outline, each one containing as many “Tales” (chapters) as it takes! The ones with a first draft written are crossed off the following list. The rest await being written.

Concerning Critters (introduction)
Chicken Tales
Goat Tales
Kitty Tales
Llama Tales
Puppy Tales
Guinea Tales
Pig Tales
Looking Ahead (Conclusion)

Some sections are longer than others. For example, we’ve had cats, chickens, and goats the longest, so there are more tales to tell. The other sections are considerably shorter.

Finishing the above list is the first step. Once I’m satisfied with the text I can move on to working on formatting the book interior and adding pictures. With 5 Acres & A Dream The Book, I learned the hard way to finish the writing before getting on with the rest. Doing it in proper order will be less frustrating in the long run, I think.

Two More eBooks

I’ve added two more titles to my The Little Series of Homestead How-Tos.

2newHow To Make An Herbal Salve: an introduction to salves, creams, ointments, & more

How To mix Feed Rations With The Pearson Square: grains, protein, calcium, phosphorous, balance, & more

I finished my “Goat Tales” section for Critter Tales before Thanksgiving and decided to take a break while it’s off to my editor. Finishing these two eBooks has been my project over the holidays. I announced one on my homestead blog but have yet to announce the other, because I first need to update the other eBooks in the series. The beauty of eBooks is that they can be edited and updated after they’ve been published. That means I can correct mistakes, clarify sections, tweak formatting, even answer questions folks have asked after they’ve read the books.

The other thing I can do is keep a link list for the entire series in each eBook, plus my print books (well, only one print book so far, two one of these days). All the links go to my Kikobian Books website, which I update as well. In that sense, eBooks are a good tool for advertising and promoting one’s own work.

Once I get all the updating done it’s back the the Critter Tales grindstone. I must decide which critter is next. Cat Tales? Pig Tales? Llama Tales? I’ll let you know once I get started on it.