Dawn Montgomery

Archive for 2016|Yearly archive page

Full Time Writer by Taming the Dragon

In #amwriting, Software on November 13, 2016 at 1:41 pm

Long post ahead. It’s about how I’ve overcome more than I imagined possible with the help of my family, you guys, my friends, and the acceptance of change. Keep reading if that’s something you’re interested in. Otherwise, expect a new release update on Tuesday!

I have now completely switched over to *voice recognition software (VRS) as my writing medium of choice. In the three weeks since I started using it full time, my hands and arms have become so much better (symptom-wise. I’m not a doc so I can’t tell if nerve damage is being reversed or not). It’s a slow and methodical process. And sometimes very frustrating…but you have to walk before you can run.

Also, it’s a completely different way to write. I have many books coming this month and next. Most of them were written via traditional typing and there was a lot of pain, tears, and grit to get them written.
Chronic pain is fascinating. I’ve chronicled my progress since I was first diagnosed with degenerative disc disease back in 2009. Pain can cloud everything: your concentration, confidence, comfort…and most of all, your creativity. It can suck out your energy and force you to just ‘endure’ until the end. So why am I saying this?

I’ve been writing for close to 15 years now (longer, honestly, if you count all the stories I wrote for myself and my friends). I have received the rights back to most of my backlist and have begun rewrites and expansion. Looking back at my work, I can see where pain was the worst. Where I was at my lowest. I can also see where I built hope from the ashes and rose to the sky.

Using VRS was the final hurdle, I think, in accepting that modifications are necessary for me to move beyond endurance and into a comfortable realm of creativity again.

Most of all, I’m able to have fun again. And just tell the stories I want to tell without the dread of nearly crippling pain at the end of every writing session, the shakiness of my fingers, or the cramping of the muscles along my back from the back spasms I can’t do anything about (and trust me, the docs have worked miracles already. This is the extent of my recovery).

Despite the pharmaceutical push by most of my medical team, I don’t take pain medication beyond some over the counter options. This is my choice, and a difficult one I made with SuperChef. I have a high pain tolerance, and I’m used to living with it, so numbing it now would just make me hurt myself more (I can’t feel the pain, so I can do ANYTHING! This is from experience, by the way. One day I’ll believe I’m not invincible.) Modified Yoga has helped with my flexibility. Stretches and massages help with the severe cramping and muscle spasms that are a part of my daily life.

I also do other things with my hands while I’m speaking my stories. I clean, organize, sketch, draw (this really REALLY helps when I’m trying to visualize a scene as I talk it out). When I get a little better, I’ll start working on my facebook page and website while I’m speaking so I can get more done with the little time I have.

Your comments and well wishes for my health have been amazing. I have taken every one of them to heart and let it push me through the hard times. It’s been a long two years since the ulnar nerve diagnosis. I keep putting off the surgery, just in case…nerves are hardy buggers. They rebound on their own if you give them enough time.

So here I am, ready to take on 2017 with a fresh outlook on my writing career. Stories are needed. And I have so many to tell. Now that I’m not limited to one way of writing, I can do my best to give you those that you deserve.

Thank you for sticking with me through all of this.

I am stubborn and it takes me some time to come around, but once I do, I stride forward and do my best. You are the reason I kept going.

I love you guys.

* I first used the Windows voice option for my VRS experiments. It wasn’t accurate enough when it came to fiction writing, but it did wonders for regular correspondence. When I needed to make the move, I bought Dragon Naturally Speaking Premium edition (by Nuance). I also use a Nuance app called Dragon Anywhere so I can write while I’m on my commute as well. Dragon Naturally Speaking is one-time up front fee and Dragon Anywhere is a subscription service. I synchronize my Dragon Anywhere text with Evernote (a free app) so can copy and paste when I get home. Please note that Mac users have Dragon Dictate as an option instead of Dragon Naturally Speaking. The total cost for my adaptive equipment and one year subscription service:

Dragon Naturally Speaking 13 Premium: $162.36 (with Texas sales tax included)

Dragon Anywhere: App is free via android and the 12 month subscription service was $150. I chose the subscription service up-front fee because I didn’t want to worry about it every month.

Microphone: I already had one that I used. It’s a Plantronics and it’s not made anymore. SuperChef bought me a lovely Audio-Technica ATR2100. It was $80, but a regular microphone that picks up your voice would work just fine. Check the compatibility options via the Nuance site.

I didn’t just hop up and buy this on a whim, guys. The family gave up a lot of time, streaming services, etc. as a team to help me. It took six months to get all the pieces in place and now I have everything I need.

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Set Up Google Chrome For Work

In Author Tools, Software on February 21, 2016 at 6:32 pm

I have a Google Chrome tip that will make your work set-up so much easier. It’s not a hack, so much as a cool setting that I didn’t know about until recently.

I’m a procrastinator in a big way. If you’ve hung around this site for any length of time, you’ve probably watched me struggle with my own fears to get the words on the page. I can get lost for hours through Pinterest, YouTube craft (and writing craft) videos, Facebook, etc. I’m also a compulsive tab opener, so I’ll open a new tab from a page I’m on and expect to look at it immediately. Unfortunately, that doesn’t happen so I’ll have a line of tabs I can’t read, and no way of figuring out where my work pages are.

My husband, SuperChef (my name for him), of Uncle Jerry’s Kitchen showed me this really cool way of setting up your browser to load the pages you need on a regular basis every time you relaunch the browser. Some of you may have already noticed this feature. If so, awesome! What sites do you have in your list?

If you’re like me, however, this is something you wish you would have known forever ago.

In your Chrome browser, click your “Customize and Control Google Chrome” button (Three horizontal dashes located at the far right of your toolbar).

Under “Settings” find the “On Startup” section. The third option is the one you want. Next to “Open a page or a specific set of pages” you’ll see an underlined option that reads “Set Pages”. Click on that.

A popup will appear that asks you to list your preferred pages.

I set it up for my workflow. Here are some of the pages I have in my list:

KanbanFlow

Gmail

Evernote

Writing Blog

Website

And more. No, none of them are Facebook or social media sites. I know better. 😉

For those who are afraid they’ll get lost, I grabbed a screen shot with a few notes to help guide you. I blurred out some of my more sensitive links.

Setting up Chrome for Business

Super easy, right? Next time I’m procrastinating and just want to get back to work…all I have to do is close my browser and reopen it to get back to it. 🙂

Hope this helps. If so, please leave a comment and let me know about it!

Happy Writing!

Dawn Montgomery

Weekly Writing Update #ROW80

In #amwriting on January 10, 2016 at 5:03 am

ROW80Logocopy


It’s the first round of A ROUND OF WORDS IN 80 DAYS! I am super excited this year (for many reasons!). Middle of the night post for me, so please excuse the short, choppy sentences. I just hit 26 hours awake and the brain is foggy.

My goal for last week was simple: 10 hours dedicated to my dragon story. NAILED IT! WOOHOO! Total hours: 11.5 😀

Goal for this week: 40 hours on dragon: 20 hours of writing, 10 hours of editing, 10 hours free for rewrites, tweaks, and submission by January 16th. Continue working on freewrite Fantasy story after I complete my daily goals. 

Challenges I faced last week:

Drama with a capital D. And shopping for school supplies since my new college semester starts in a week. I’m nervous about whether I’m able to balance writing and school this semester. All of my classes are animation-related, so that means lots of out of school projects. Lots of them. And a 13 hour Friday. Two classes, gap between, and nowhere to go while I wait. At least I’ll have time for writing and extra time for working on my projects at school.

Organization was a bear this week. Getting on track, as well. Also, moving into a new office made things tough. I’m still half packed and all my reference materials are scattered. Poor Planning = Slow Going.

What did I do to overcome my challenges:

Avoided the drama. It’s not related to me. I’ve learned that being a peacemaker is about balancing your life and the lives around you. There are lines of behavior that can’t be crossed without pushing people too far. Letting the energy vampires in your life run the show isn’t keeping the peace, it’s letting you be a doormat. So I was firm last week. The drama stayed out of my house. Or else.

Shopping was an adventure, as always. I get all giddy over office supplies, but over the years I’ve realized simple is best when it comes to me being organized. One notebook per class. Color coded. I set up the first ten pages or so into a pocket configuration so I don’t have to keep track of folders with in class handouts. Sort of like this adorable little girl’s tutorial. I think I need to take a picture so you see what I mean. I’ve tried to explain it six times now and my fog brain is keeping me from making sense.

I don’t have any idea where the inspiration actually came from for making the pockets the way I did. I just started doing it one night after I’d lost my class folder for what felt like the hundredth time (found out at the end of the semester that my littlest son had thought they were for his class since they were the same color as his homework folders. He had seven of them at school with my paperwork in them LOL). I’ve got this gorgeous scrapbooking paper that was just going to waste since I’d stopped being a Creative Memories consultant so I used that to reinforce the outside. The heavy weight made the pocket resilient. I love doing it!

I have a dump binder at home for anything that’s too large to go in those. I’ve got my homemade planner that changes as I do so I can keep myself on track.

I splurged on a new “work purse” so I don’t have to carry a backpack and a purse to school anymore. I needed something that would carry my keyboard, Kindle Fire, plugs, books, etc. and be easy to handle for a gal walking with a cane (hey, I make this cane look GOOD!). I found one on-the-cheap at my local mega mart. Expensive doesn’t work for me as I am BRUTAL on my bags. If this style works, I’ll move up to a more durable design. I haven’t carried a purse full time since…well…ever, I think, so this will be interesting. I miss my backpack already, but the ongoing issues with my back (and my habit of overloading my backpack with everything but the kitchen sink) has forced my hand. I need a smaller package with less pockets so I only take what I need with me.

Home office organization: I have a standing desk that is actually a leaning book shelf I got from Linens and Things back in 2005 (when they were still around). The middle tier is the perfect height for me so I set it up tonight. The second highest shelf is at perfect eye level so I put my motivation stuff there and set up my index card stand. I should probably do some pictures and a few quick tutorials for you guys. The office unpacking and organization is still in progress, but I can’t move any faster with deadlines breathing down my neck. It’s driving me crazy, but I’m maintaining my patience as much as possible. One box a day and I’m cheering.

I hope you are doing well so far! I’m ahead of schedule, but not so much that I can slack off.

Would you like to see how others are doing in their writing challenges? Click HERE for the linky list!

Keep Writing!
Dawn Montgomery

I Dream of Dragons, Demons, and Deadlines

In Goals on January 3, 2016 at 6:09 am

Hello Readers! Welcome back to the insanity of my writing blog. It is the first week of 2016 and I’m knee-deep in dragons, demons, and deadlines. All related to fiction, of course. 😀

Weekly Goals:

Some publishing news first: WTF Dragons (the Dragons of Werthing Ton Fallorian, of course) are back! No Dragon, No Problem and Once Upon a Dragon have received a new cover facelift, and books 3, 4, and 5 are in my queue to be finished. This week I’ll be focusing on book 3: Dragons Never Lie. My goal for the week is going to be in hours vs. word count. I’ll dedicate ten hours this week to WTF Dragons 3.

My FreeWrite Book of the quarter is Shadow Lies, an epic fantasy that recently recaptured my attention from my ancient work in progress folder. I will only work on it after I finish my WTF Dragon goal of the day. It’s in a genre I don’t usually write in so it’s sparking a different part of my brain and allowing me to take chances I normally wouldn’t (in erotic romance, anyway). So far it’s a straight fantasy work, but we’ll see if a romance develops in the story line.

It’s also the start of A Round of Words in 80 Days or #ROW80 on all social media outlets. It’s the quarterly writing challenge that knows you have a life. So this means I get to pick my own goals for the quarter. I will only have 2-3 hours per day this semester as my college course load is super intense. What follows are my FIRST QUARTER goals. I know it seems like a lot but a great deal of these titles are already almost done.

Contracted Works to turn in:

  • Dragons Never Lie (WTF Dragons 3)
  • Dragon Arse (WTF Dragons 4)
  • A Tail of Two Dragons (WTF Dragons 5)
  • Dark Rider (The Fallen 2)
  • Sky City Multi Author Book (Title tbd)

Indie Books to write, edit, polish, and publish: 

  • Devil’s Due (Silver Tongued Devils 2) (currently in the revision phase)
  • Winter Guardian (The Fallen 1) (currently in the expansion and revision phase)
  • Last Rites (Reverted Rights book that needs extensive rewrites)
  • Voodoo Carnival Boxed Set (currently in the formatting for publication phase)
  • A Wish Before Dying Episodes 1, 2, 3, 4 and Boxed Set (Holly Savage)

FreeWrite Book for the quarter (the book I work on after I meet my daily writing goals, my carrot on the stick):

  • Shadow Lies (epic fantasy)

Are you participating in A Round of Words in 80 Days? If so, please go HERE to check out other writers in the challenge. Are you new to #ROW80 and want to learn more? Awesome! Check out the about page HERE.

I’m looking forward to seeing you on the next post.

Good luck in your week, whatever challenges you may tackle, and I’ll see you as soon as I can.

Keep Writing!

Dawn Montgomery

Free Calendar Printable

In #amwriting on January 2, 2016 at 2:24 am

Every year I build a word count tracking calendar for my Word Slinger Writing Groups. It has a 750-word per day (or 20k per month if you take one day or so off a week) set up, but you can use it however you like. Each box represents 250 words. There is nothing more satisfying than crossing off each box as you go! If you write more than 2500 words a day on average (the maximum boxes available), change the value of each box to 500 words. It’s fully adaptable to your needs.

January

Please let me know if you spot any errors. For the complete calendar, CLICK HERE. The PDF should download automatically. You’ll need Adobe Reader to view and print the document.

This is based on David Seah’s NaNoWriMo calendar from 2013, and has been adapted for my writing groups’ (I maintain two of them) needs. I built it when he was developing his 50k a month calendar. If you’d like to check that out, it’s available for $7 at his awesome site. CLICK HERE to learn more. Also, if you’re a productivity and project junkie like myself, check out the rest of his incredible notebooks, planners, and more! Just sharing the love since I adore anyone who helps feed the crazy that is National Novel Writing Month.

This works perfectly for those doing the official (or unofficial) 750 words a day challenge. The official page is HERE (it requires a $5 a month membership to participate in their events and track your words). Unofficially, the 750 words a day challenge is all over the ‘net.

Do you like stuff like this? Are you using it this year? If so, how is it going for you? Did you use last year’s? Did you want to see more things like this?

Happy Writing!

2016 Goals

In #amwriting, Challenges, Goals on January 1, 2016 at 2:13 pm

Chapter 2016

Hello everyone! Welcome to 2016! I have goals in four categories this year:

  1. Writing
  2. Education
  3. Health
  4. YouTube (What? No, seriously!)

Writing


The stuff in blue is required by either contract or deadline. The rest is wishful thinking IF I get finished with the first part of the list.

In alphabetical order:

Ongoing Series

The Fallen

  •  Winter Guardian expansion and print
  •  Dark Rider (working title) releases May 1st in a (title TBD) boxed set.

Holly Savage

  • A Wish Before Dying

Silver Tongued Devils

  • Devil’s Due (Preorders go up mid-January)
  • The Devil’s Own
  • The Devil Wars a Crown
  • Silver Tongued Devils in Print
  • Devil’s Due in Print

Voodoo Carnival

  • Boxed Set release of the entire serial
  • Print release of the entire serial

WTF Dragon Series

  • Dragons Never Lie
  • Dragon Arse
  • A Tail of Two Dragons
  • WTF Dragons Collection in Print

New Series

Nightmare Gale

  • Enraptured
  • Entranced
  • Entwined

Sky City (multiauthor)

  • Title TBD

Spaceport: New Tortuga (Spinoff from Silver Tongued Devils)

  • Rogue Bounty (revise, expand, edit, and publish an old title)
  • SNT 2 (Title TBD)

Wolfen Underground (MMA shifters)

  • Savage 
  • Renegade
  • WU 3 (Title TBD)

 

Standalone Titles

These  will be added as they pop up since most of them are based on rights reversion from publishers.

Last Rites: revision, edit, and publish

Angel’s Masquerade: revision and resubmit requested. Finish it and turn it in.

Carter’s Legacy: Revision and submit to an agent


Education


I complete my associates degree at the end of December if I don’t miss a beat classes-wise. I need to stay focused. This will be an ongoing challenge per month (once I’m back in class, I’ll do a post).


Health


Four main focus areas this year:

  1. Standing vs. Sitting. I need to move from standing to sitting on a regular basis. This year I’m going to figure out an effect way to do this.
  2. I need to work on my grazing habits. I eat my feelings. If I’m stressed, tired, worried, or nervous…I eat. LOL. If I can’t curb the grazing, I need to ensure that I have foods ready to go. Also, I need to plan ahead for my meals when I’m at college.
  3. Walking and exercising. I walk a lot in school. The campus is quite a commute, and I have to do a lot of walking to get to the right buses, etc. I need to find something to do on a regular basis that makes me feel better about myself
  4. Taking better care of my mental health by knowing when I’ve reached my limit and taking the days I need to take for rest. Working from home and going to school full-time knocked me on my butt last year. I need to get a handle on my cycles of behavior.

YouTube


Not as a writer, well, not for most of the year. No, I’m exploring YouTube as a mom to a very enthusiastic kiddo who loves stop motion. I have a crafting blog that will launch at the end January where I explore the way we create his movies as well as other crafty goodness. I have a list of tutorials I need to do including my writing planner video (I made mine from scratch). Each month will have a different goal. This month I just need to get the website launched and the youtube channel sorted.

 

So, if you’re following along, or ended up here via a search engine, here are the tags I will be using this year.

Click Here– for the thirty day challenges post (this one will be included in that tag as it’s my first mention of it)

Click Here– for all posts related to the year-long writing challenge I participate in called A Round of Words in 80 Days.

  • First Quarter 2016
  • Second Quarter 2016 (tag will be updated when it’s created)
  • Third Quarter 2016 (tag will be updated when it’s created)
  • Fourth Quarter 2016 (tag will be updated when it’s created)

Click Here– for all posts related to YouTube and my crafting channel

Click Here– for all posts related to Health

Click Here– for all posts related to my degree and education

What are you planning for 2016?

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