Read an eBook Day

When was the last time that you read an eBook?  Did you purchase it from an online vendor or was it lent to you by a friend/family member?  Maybe you subscribe to one of those websites where you can read an unlimited amount of eBooks per month.  That’s cool.  Have you tried eBooks at your library?

Overdrive, a vendor that works with libraries to provide eBook access for their customer base, is launching a national campaign, “Read an eBook Day” and today is it!!

They’re looking for feedback from eBook readers like you to learn more about your eBook reading preferences — what genres do you enjoy reading, which authors, what do you love about eBooks? Overdrive wants to know.  Visit their website at to give feedback and also check out eBook recommendations in a variety of genres from:

  • Fantasy
  • Literature
  • Children
  • Science Fiction
  • Historical Fiction
  • Young Adult

Tag your favorites with the Twitter hashtag, #eBookLove. I’ll be adding new recommendations from their list to GoodReads. Don’t forget, you can always check out my latest book recommendations on the bottom of my website with the GoodReads widget or on my online profile.

Let me know what new favorites you discover and happy e-reading!


Liven Up Scrivener’s Composition Mode with a Background Image

Hey ya’ll,  it’s Lauren Miller back with another Scrivener tip for today.

Did Santa leave you a copy of Scrivener under your Christmas tree this year?  If so, you’re in for a lot of fun!

Have you tried using Scrivener’s composition mode yet?  I don’t know about you but when I want to focus on a writing project (whether it’s a screenplay,  a poem, a college essay, or some other form of writing), sometimes, I just need a distraction-free environment.

That’s what Composition Mode is great for!

Last time, I talked about how you can add images to your Scrivener project.  Did you discover any great backgrounds while you were browsing through those photos?

What about one you’d like to use as your writing backdrop?  Cool!  I’m going to show you how simple it is to set up your Composition Mode to do just that.

To access the option, go to ViewComposition Backdrop (see below).

composition backdrop menu

A side menu will open revealing all of your images currently in your Binder. Just select the one you want from the menu, and it’ll automatically update for you.  If you look closely in my binder, you’ll notice that I’ve got some typewriter-color files that I am using.  I picked these up as a freebie download at one point but I don’t remember from where (sorry!).  If the creator will contact me, I’d love to credit you for your work. 🙂

Right, well, once you’ve chosen your photo, all that’s left is to enter your composition mode.  Just as a reminder, this is what that button looks like:


Here is what my Composition Mode looks like:

inside composition mode

You can use Paper Position to align the writing area (center) to the left, center, or right.  You can  also choose the level of Paper Fade to make the writing area more or less visible.

The Inspector window (black box, top right) and Keywords window (not shown) are optional and can be either visible or invisible. The toolbar (bottom) goes into a hiding mode when you start typing.

Depending on your project and how you work, maybe your ideal background is black (the default).  And that’s okay.  But experiment.  Maybe your history project would benefit from a classic painting, portrait, or map as your background.

Your science fiction space opera could be even better with a nebula or galaxy, or maybe the latest artwork from your favorite artist.  Writing a western? What about a desert or a ghost town?  Get inventive.  It’s your Scrivener.

Adding Images to Your Scrivener Notebook

Welcome back to another scrivener tip on Thursdays.

Up to this point, we’ve already talked about using Scrivener as a word counter, how to import templates into Scrivener, and how to create tables for tracking productivity.

Today, I want to talk about how to add your own images to your Scrivener project (or notebook).

Images are an incredible resource that’s easy to use in Scrivener’s program and if you haven’t already figured out how to do this yet, then this is the tutorial for you.

So go ahead, open that Scrivener project you’ve been working on, and let’s get started! Continue reading

Tech Talk: Create Tables to Track Your Writing Journey (you’ll be thankful you did)

Last month I talked about how to set up your word counter for Scrivener, especially for all you Wrimo peeps. How did you do this month?

If you’re working with Scrivener software, you may want to consider creating a table (see below) with NaNoWriMo’s targets each day and include space for you to fill in where you’re at on your writing goals.  One year later, I can’t remember the details of each and every day of my journey but I am so grateful for the journalling “notes” I took.  It allows me to stop and reflect on what I was doing at the time, and what my productivity levels are.

2012 NaNoWriMo Productivity Chart

Side note: I would’ve sworn I’d had a 10,000 word day at some point but the numbers don’t lie. 😦

While I don’t recommend creating a table within Scrivener to cover a full 365-day period (check out my recommendations for year-round word trackers here), it can be a useful exercise for a short period of time. Creating tables in Scrivener can be a bit tricky though.

Step 1: Finding the Table Menu

Step 1-find the table menu

Go to FormatTableTable. Once you’ve clicked the “Table” option, a pop-up window will appear with all of your default table options (see below).

ex. a. the default table settings

Step 2: Change the default settings

What I’ve found works best, is to change the rows first by using the up arrow to the right of the number displayed for rows (Default: 2).  It’s going to allow you a maximum of 25. After this hits ’25’, then click the columns section and adjust to your preferred column number.  You can go back and tweak the rows to create more if you desire.

For my NaNoWriMo word tracker table, I used 6 rows and 33 columns.

step 2- change the default settings

Step 3: Changing the Border Colors

When you’re satisfied that the table is the correct row and column size that you’re looking for, close the pop-up Table box, and highlight the entire table.

Once it’s been highlighted, open the Table menu again. We’re going to change the border’s background colors.

Step 4 - change the border background color

The black box to the right of Cell Border is the default color for your table. Unfortunately, when Scrivener creates it (at least in mine), it only creates a black border on a couple of the rows/columns (called “cells”). We want it to do the whole thing.

Click the black color box to display the Colors palette (the box with all of the crayons).

Click on any other color than the one that you want. You should see your highlighted table in the background automatically change to that color.  Now, click the color you actually want (ex: black) for the table to refresh and now display the correct color.

Note that you can also change a cell’s background separately if you want a table header to have a particular color (ex: the “November” header is peach).

Close all boxes and return to your table.

Step 4: Resizing Your Table

By dragging the vertical column lines in your table, you can resize the columns and make them thinner or thicker.  Since most of mine were just numbers, I shrunk most of my columns to about an inch width and expanded my “Notes” column to maybe 4 inches in length (see below).

step 4 - resize your table

At this point, your basic table is finished.

Step 5: Add In Table Headings, Column Headings and Cell Labels

You can play around with the text alignment (ex: center align for “November”), fill in the dates, the target totals, and the headers in each column.

Step 5 - add in table headings

Step 6: Changing Cell Backgrounds and File Icons

I decided to go with a nice teal color for the cell background and I changed the name and icon of this file to “Productivity” (see below).

step 6 - changing cell background and file icon

And here is what the finished table looks like:

productivity table finished version

Got any questions?

Leave a comment below and I’ll be glad to walk you through any steps. 🙂 This tutorial was done on a Mac computer so steps may vary with the Windows version.

Tech Talk: How to Import Templates into Scrivener

Today I want to talk about expanding the use of Scrivener for your writing by incorporating templates into your writing project.

At a glance, here are some of the Fiction templates that are included, or can be added as extras, for Scrivener:

scrivener templates-fiction

Some of the obvious ones that are not standard with Scrivener are the “Hero’s Journey Novel Template” and the “Mystery Novel Template”.  If you’re participating in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), you may recognize the “NaNoWriMo Novel” template that should be included with your trial version software of Scrivener.

For the purposes of this tutorial, I am going to show you how to download the “Snowflake Method Template”, available at This template is based on Randy Ingermanson’s “Snowflake Method“. When you download the file, it is going to come as a .zip so you will need some kind of software to unzip the package to your Downloads folder (Mac) or maybe your My Documents folder (PC).

After you’ve unzipped the file, it’s going to appear as a .scrivtemplate file.  All Scrivener files use this file extension and it’s only usable in the Scrivener program.

Now that we’ve got the file, how do we add it to Scrivener?

Great question!

Open up your Scrivener program.  It should open to the default screen with all of your template options.

importing templates with scrivener

Click “Import Templates”. This should automatically open a pop-up window with where your template file is stored (Ex. “Downloads” folder).  If it does not, you may need to browse through your folders and teach Scrivener where to find your template at.

Select the file and click “Import”. It should now appear in the “Fiction” section of Scrivener’s templates.  If you want to download a template into a different area (ex: non-fiction), you must make sure that the category is selected and viewable before you select “Options” and go through the steps.  It will import the file into whatever category you are currently viewing.

It’s pretty much that easy!

Got questions? Comment on the thread below and let’s chat tech.


Tech Talk: Setting Up Scrivener’s Word Counter


  • With your Scrivener project open, click ProjectShow Project project targets
  • The project word tracker will appear in the lefthand side of your Scrivener project. By default, the targets are going to be set to 0.word tracker
  • “Edit” allows you to change the total word count (ex: 50,000 words), and “Options” will allow you to select the days you want to write and auto-calculate the words per day.options screen
  • You’ll want to leave “Count text written anywhere in the project” NOT checked.  Make sure you leave the top 2 options checked. This will only count what’s written in the Manuscript section of the binder and not any miscellaneous research, notes or outlines, etc. that you include elsewhere in the project.

If you basically leave these settings alone, you’re going to end up with a useful word counter that turns colors as you get closer to your word count.

Any questions?  Leave a comment and let’s talk.
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7 NaNoWriMo Tools (Besides Scrivener)

  1. I’m absolutely lovin’ my new 2012 NaNoWriMo Word Tracker which comes in different skins over at Svenia Liv’s website.  She’s got pirates, forest fairies, evil-looking guys and more to suit your writing tastes.  Which one closest matches your character this year?  Check her stuff out.

Okay, so I have to say something briefly about Scrivener too…

If you’re a Scrivener user and you like to keep everything in-house, in a single session you can create a table like I did for your own word tracker (see below):

I created mine to keep track of where I should be in my writing schedule and where I actually am at that point.  The notes section is to keep track of what I worked on that day (scene or chapter). Continue reading

Scrivener for Writing

This past week I’ve been experimenting using Scrivener‘s Outline feature to try my hand at POVs and outlining scenes for my current work-in-progress.  I’ve found that the line by line w/ synopsis is a lot more useful than the grid or free-form card option they offer.  I also like all the pretty colors for the myriad of colors that come up too.  I’ve been reading about how many scenes a novel should have and it seems like it can really vary depending on what your average scene length is (I don’t know!), how long your book will be (shooting for 100k or about 400 pages) and how many scenes you want.  When I sit down to write, I never really have an idea of how long I want the scene to be.  For the purposes of this project, I’m allotting myself an experimental 1k per scene and I’ve got plotted over the weekend about 60 scenes.  At this point, I’m not too worried about it as I think with some of the scenes, they will easily go over 4 pgs.

Using Randy Ingermanson’s Snowflake Pro program has helped me define a bit clearer my main character’s conflict,  and ambitions.  For those of you familiar with my writing, this is sort of a prequel to the screenplay I worked on last year.  Some of the characters may appear in this book but it’ll be in an introductory role.  I’m feeling really confident this time round.

This weekend, a good friend sent me a pastor’s letter written by Joel Osteen about achieving our dreams that I found absolutely inspiring.  Rather than re-post it again (bloggers have re-posted it enough already), here’s a link to a random Google searched blog featuring the letter I’m referring to: “What If They Don’t Believe?”.  My confidence is in the Lord!

Keep reaching higher,

Lauren Miller

Currently listening to: Eli August — Let This House Burn Slowly.

I Bought a Kindle…Great, What’s a Kindle?


I am not a traitor to my kind.

Let me explain!  I have a background in Library Science.  This means that one day you could find me in a library somewhere, sans librarian’s hair bun and pointy glasses, with my nose in a book.  I love books!  Their smell.  The feel of a book as the crisp edges brush against your fingertips.  I like looking at the due dates — sometimes books haven’t been taken out of the collection in years!  Imagine being the first person to discover a little-known book that’s not been off the shelf in decades.  🙂  It’s quite exciting for a bibliophile like me.

Ooh, and finding bookmarks people have left.  Have you ever noticed how much a bookmark can tell you about a person?  I collect bookmarks.  My friends know I love books.  I am a proud Borders Rewards member.  I fully expect someone will give me a gift card to my local bookstore in my Christmas stocking in another month.  So what’s the fuss then about a Kindle?  Well, let me explain…  Some people don’t know what a Kindle is.

Cover of "Kindle Wireless Reading Device,...

Cover via Amazon

This is a Kindle —>

A Kindle is an electronic book reader. If you’ve seen the commercials for Apple’siPad“, you might recognize the similarity to the product.  They’re actually quite different.

The Kindle is a product by Amazon, more closely linked to its competitor, Barnes & Noble‘s Nook.  And, the running joke of course is, B&N needs to come out w/ a series of covers for their product called “Crannies”.  Rim shot please!

I have nothing against books.  I am interested in the changes and conveniences that new technology can bring and am excited to explore this new product that’s actually been on the market a couple of years now.  The photo featured here is of their 3rd generation wi-fi-only, 6″ version in Graphite, priced at $139.00.

Sure, I can and will keep reading books.  But, imagine being able to fit over 3,000 books in one potable device!  That’s more than most people’s personal libraries — even the other bibliophiles I know.  Amazon’s also delving into the Apps market, with subscriptions to newspapers, magazines, and even games.  There’s a lot of free content I can’t wait to get my hands on too.

The Gutenberg Project started some time ago has made books out of print now more available in an electronic format for the general public.  This means that a book that there might only be 1 copy of, stashed in a dusty shelf somewhere, now may have a new lease on life in the virtual world.  The possibilities are endless.

Amazon Kindle PDF

Image by goXunuReviews via Flickr

It’s also lightweight.  I’m getting to the age where I shouldn’t carry 30-40lb. of books around all day/night.  The Kindle (excluding skins, covers, or other protective elements) weighs 8.5oz. (that’s less than a paperback).  So, that’s a brief review of what a Kindle is what it can do. I’m planning on experimenting with it once it arrives and I’ll post and let you know what the pros and cons are of the product.