by Jennifer Stevenson
If you’re a writer like me you are on a kajillion listservs and forums for authors. Not a day goes by when I don’t see a link there to something—a blog article, an epub validator site, a new online dictionary—some resource I’ll be glad to know about someday, even if I can’t imagine using it now.
The hack? Make lists.
Somebody posts a URL for an online dictionary of sexual euphemisms from the 18th century? Stick it in a text file called Dictionaries and put it in a folder called URL Lists. Find a URL for a site listing all the emails for all the agents that ever were? Put it in your Lists folder. Somebody blogs about how they write novel synopses? Make a file called Synopsis Help and add the blog post URL to it. Oh, and check the comments. There will be ten or twenty comments offering URLs to the Snowflake Method or the Bungee Method or the 3×5 Card Method for making a book synopsis.
This has saved my cookies many a time, especially when I’ve been asked to speak at a library or a school to people who want to write. Now I can pull all those lists and make ’em into nice printed handouts and I look soooo organized. Maybe I’m invited to guest-blog somewhere and what do you know? There’s a list that fits perfectly.
I have lists of tips for using social media for promotion; for cleaning up Word docs before formatting them as ebooks; for finding free images to make into book covers; for navigating the maze of twisty little passages that is the iTunes book publishing interface. Okay, I broke down and paid someone to do that last one for me. But I had her name and URL on a list somewhere. Boom, done.
I used a ton of lists when writing my Slacker Demons series, especially for Dancing With Cupid, especially when planning the seduction-by-Assamese-picnic-food scene, furnishing the heroine’s half-Chicagoan, half-Indian apartment, and printing just the right flowers on her expensive underpants. Read a sample here.