Sunday, March 29, 2009

Tools You Can Use: FREE PDF Converters

"We are always rushing to an appointment or trying to meet a deadline."—Menachem Mendel Schneerson

By Scoti Springfield Domeij

FREE PDF to Word Document Converter

Anyone who conducts research online knows the limitations of a PDF, Portable Document Format. A PDF captures text as an image. It's printable, but non-editable. So what do you do when you want to extract quotes or text from a PDF to include in your article or chapter?

Re-type research from a PDF no more.

Since a writer's time is valuable and seems more perishable when faced with a deadline, this downloadable FREE PDF to Word document converter can save writers time they can't afford to lose.

Key Features

  • Convert PDF to Word and preserve the original layout of your PDF in an editable Word Document.
  • Extract text labels, graphics, shapes from PDF file into Word Doc file.
  • Convert all the pages, or partial pages of PDF file to Word file.
  • Support Adobe PDF 1.0 - 1.6 formats.
  • Can automatically open the output Doc file when the conversion is done.
  • Several PDF to Word conversion options are available for a better result.
  • Convert in a high speed.
  • Easy to use software.
  • Totally for FREE!

FREE Word to PDF Document Converter

CutePDF Writer
creates professional quality PDF files from almost any printable document.

installs itself as a virtual PDF printer driver. After a successful installation it appears in your Printers and Faxes list. To convert to PDF, print the document to doPDF. Open a document (with Microsoft Word, WordPad, NotePad or any other software), choose Print and select doPDF. It will ask you where to save the PDF file. When finished converting, the PDF file automatically opens in your default PDF viewer.

expresspdf converts Microsoft Office docs (Word, Excel) and webpages to PDF.

Neevia, an online converter, creates PDF or Image documents from many file formats (see supported file formats here) that writers use on a daily basis. No software needs to be installed on your computer. Simply upload the file to convert and select one of the two delivery methods.

PDFCreator creates PDF files from nearly any Windows application. It creates PDFs from any program that is able to print, encrypt PDFs to protect them from being opened or printed, sends generated files via eMail, also creates PNG, JPG, TIFF, BMP, PCX, PS, EPS, autoSave files to folders and filenames based on Tags like Username, Computername, Date, Time etc., and merges multiple files into one PDF.

Friday, March 27, 2009

First Lines in Fiction

"When Mary Lennox was sent to Misselthwaite Manor to live with her uncle everybody said she was the most disagreeable-looking child ever seen." ~First line in The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

I'm reading The Secret Garden to my 8-year-old daughter, Christa. That's a photo of her trying to look disagreeable, like Mary Lennox. Pretty good job, eh?

Before I began reading, I told Christa to pay attention to the opening sentence in the book.

"The first sentence in a book is so important," I said. "Writers need to grab readers' attention right away!"

"Yeah, I know," Christa agreed. "Imagine if a book starts out like this: The mouse is eating some cheese. Chew. Chew. Chew. I'm not reading that book." She proceeded to chomp on some imaginary cheddar.

I had to agree with her. Pretty boring stuff, that.

Writers are told again and again they need to hook their readers from the get-go. It shouldn't be a difficult concept to grasp--even my second-grader caught on to the idea.

Wondering how other authors handled the first line challenge? Check out First Lines. The first lines of books are divided into categories. Your challenge is to name the book given the first line. Maybe perusing other writers' efforts will help you polish the first line of your work in progress.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Roxanne Sherwood interviewed on Romance Writers on the Journey

Our blogging buddy and writing comrade, Roxanne, is a guest on the Romance Writers on the Journey blog.

Host Keli Gwyn did a great job interviewing Roxanne. I've cheered Roxanne on as a writer for years, doing the "Happy Dance" every time she's won an award. She's a tremendous asset to The Writing Road blog.

Stop by Romance Writers on the Journey and get to know Roxanne better. Don't forget to leave a comment for a chance to win an inspirational magnet or a First Sale Scrapbook from Keli.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Tools You Can Use: Write or Die

Calvin: You can't just turn on creativity like a faucet. You have to be in the right mood.

Hobbes: What mood is that?

Calvin: Last-minute panic.— Bill Watterson

By Scoti Springfield Domeij

Put the Prod into Productivity

Do you…?

  • Need to write an article or chapter, but the words refuse to emerge?
  • Spend hour after hour trying to crank out your writing project?
  • Lack the inspiration to write in spite of a looming deadline?
  • Stare at a blank screen with writer's block?
  • Find it difficult to sit down and write?
  • Get easily distracted from writing?
  • Admit to being a lazy writer?
  • Over think your writing?
  • Procrastinate?

Tough Love for Procrastinators or Writer's Block

Then Dr. Wicked's Write or Die will prod you to churn out words. You set a word count or time goal, or both. Then you set a Gentle, Normal or Kamikaze mode.

When you stop typing in the writing window, Write or Die gives you a grace period, and then introduces consequences. A pop up text box reminds you to write in the Gentle Mode. Normal mode introduces a red screen and screams annoying music. Kamikaze consequences? Your document starts to unwrite itself, one word at a time. Electric Shock mode doesn't work. It's a joke.

Once you close the writing window, it asks you to copy your text to a clipboard that you can paste into a Word document. This could be a serious salvation tool for NaNoWriMo fiction writers.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Word Nerd Visual Paradise

"The greatest masterpiece in literature is only a dictionary out of order." —Jean Cocteau

By Scoti Springfield Domeij

Do you enjoy Thinkmap's Visual Thesaurus? Then you'll love Visuwords™—it's FREE.

So What Is Visuwords™?

  • It's a dictionary.
  • It's a thesaurus.

What Does It Do?

  • Offers a quick visual dictionary-and-thesaurus-in-one tool to find new ways of saying what you want to say.
  • Explores the association between different words and concepts.
  • Displays relationships between words utilizing a graphical map.
  • Looks up words to find their meanings.
  • Shows examples of word usage.

This user-friendly dictionary-meets-flow-chart shoots out in all directions connecting to other "synsets."


Visuwords™ organizes English nouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs into synonym sets (synsets), which include hypernyms, hyponyms, meronyms, and holonyms.

You can also download Visuwords™ for free and use it on your server or intranet.

I only have one question. Is my computer a server or intranet?

Friday, March 20, 2009

More Thoughts on Author Platform

If you want people to listen, you have to have a platform to speak from, and that is excellence in what you do.—William Pollard, author

My writing comrade, Scoti, posted some very detailed information about Author Platform over at her Springs Writers blog, which highlights information for a local (Colorado Springs, CO) writers group.

Scoti is a "research guru"--and she hasn't let you down this time! Her "23 Planks to Build a Writer's Platform" discusses:

~What an author's platform is
~What an author's platform does
~How to start building your author platform
~What planks support an author's platform

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Is Your Character’s Voice Real?

"C'est de l'hebreu pour moi." (It is Hebrew to me.)—Jean Baptiste Poquelin Moliere

By Scoti Springfield Domeij

Specialty Dictionaries for Fiction Writers

Would your character's co-workers or readers in the same occupation believe the dialogue you write? Are you looking for a word used only in medicine, sewing, e-commerce, or the financial world for your character's occupation? General dictionaries often omit specialized words used only by professionals in a certain field of endeavor. From agriculture to waste management, alphaDictionary is the A-Z source for specialty dictionaries. If they don't link to the specialty occupational dictionary you need, you can contact them and they'll find it.

AlphaDictionary Language Directory

Did you know that of the roughly 6,912 known languages and dialects spoken in the 191 countries of the world, only 2,287 have writing systems? About 300 of these have online dictionaries and alphaDictionary links you to those dictionaries.

Word Master

Word specialist and alphaDictionary founder Dr. Robert Beard, the former CEO of yourDictionary.com, has a PhD in Linguistics from the University of Michigan and taught Russian and Linguistics at Bucknell University from 1965-2000. He is the author of three books and many articles on linguistics in which he develops a complete theory of morphology (the study of words) called Lexeme-Morpheme Base Morphology. This theory is still being explored by other linguists and his Separation Hypothesis, the hypothesis that the meaning and sounds of words are processed as separate mental operations, is widely accepted in the field of Linguistics today.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Writing Opportunity: The Incredible Power of Prayer

"Before you speak, it is necessary for you to listen, for God speaks in the silence of the heart."—Mother Teresa

Guideposts Is Sponsoring: The Incredible Power of Prayer

Prayer—the heartbeat of the Christian life—is an amazing gift from God to us. A prayer in faith can spur God's heart to "move mountains" on our behalf. The incredible power of prayer can accomplish miracles that go far beyond anything we humans can accomplish on our own.

Guideposts reaches millions of Americans with their upbeat message of God empowering us. And now, Guideposts is launching a series of 12 books on various aspects of prayer and how people from every walk of life have been transformed through God's responses. These books will be mailed monthly as part of a book club promotion, and will be exclusive to their readership.

Praying from the Heart

The series compiler, James Stuart Bell, is now collecting submissions for the first three books in the series and would welcome as many stories as you wish to submit. The first volume is Praying from the Heart and covers God answering our deeply felt prayers of great passion, sincerity, and trust. These prayers may be repentant, express deep gratitude, or describe desperate cries that lay bare a person's deepest needs.

The Healing Touch

The second volume, The Healing Touch, deals with stories about prayers that lead to physical, spiritual, relational, or emotional healing. They may involve relationships that don't resolve perfectly, but bring a closer relationship with God and a new sense of purpose and greater ability.

Expecting Miracles

The third volume, Expecting Miracles, includes personal experience stories about audacious prayers with powerful answers. This is where the need is great and God responds extraordinarily. The answers don't need to be purely supernatural; God can work in mysterious ways using all kinds of means.

Submission Guidelines

Submissions can be up to 2000 words. Each story should have a creative title, an attention-grabbing lead, main body explaining a conflict or challenge, and a resolution. These need to be descriptive and compelling personal experience stories—not simply testimonies. We prefer original stories but you may also submit previously published stories. The payment is $25 for stories under 1000 words, and $50 for longer stories. You may retain the rights to publish the stories in magazines and books with smaller distribution sources.

Deadline: Now until at least June 15, 2009 for the first three volumes. Finalists for the first volume will be announced around October 15.

Please include on each manuscript—not in headers or simply in the e-mail—your name, contact information (address, phone, e-mail, rights offered) and a bio of up to 30 words. Please attach to the e-mail rather than pasting text in the body.

Send to: Please direct all inquiries and manuscript submissions to Jeanette Littleton at IncrediblePrayers@earthlink.net.

Friday, March 13, 2009

New book by Mary DeMuth: Daisy Chain


Mary DeMuth's latest book, Daisy Chain, hit the bookstores! Daisy Chain is the first book in the Defiance, Texas trilogy. The idea of family secrets plays heavily into all three books.
Some of the major themes in the book include:
~ The importance (and elusiveness) of authenticity.
~ The devastation of maintaining and keeping family secrets.
~ Redemption comes from surprising people.
~ Feeling guilty doesn’t always equal reality.
~ True friendship involves sacrifice.

Mary thinks of Daisy Chain as an Oprah book, but with hope.

"Yes, there is darkness and meanness abounding in this world," she says, "but God’s light has a way of fully penetrating that darkness. I hope Daisy Chain cradles the reader through its deep, scary journey clear through to the end because redemption will shine brighter in the midst of darkness. That’s my own personal testimony, so it can’t help but leak out on the page.

My hope is that folks will see the need to share their family secrets in order to be set free. (A cool place to share your family secrets anonymously is http://blog.myfamilysecrets.org). I also want people to see that the Body of Christ is probably much different looking than they first thought. Some appear holy. Others, in distressing disguises, actually are."

Who else is blogging about Daisy Chain?

5 Minutes for Books
A Peek at My Bookshelf
A Spacious Place
Actual Unretouched Photo
Along the Way
Amy Storms
Ashley Weis
Aspire2 Blog
Awesome God . . . Ordinary Girl
Blame it on the Loud Mouth Gene
Blog Tour Spot
Bluebonnet in the Snow
Book Nook Club
Bookworm’s Nook
Bound to His Heart
Callapidder Days
Camy’s Loft
Canadian Prairie Writer
Carla’s Writing Cafe
Cyndy Salzmann
Declaring His Marvelous Work
dreamers of the day
Faith Fuel
Faith of a Single Mom
Five Bazillion and One
Giving Up on Perfect
Heading Home
Healthy Spirituality
Home-Steeped Hope
i don’t believe in grammar
it wasn’t me

Janell Rardon’s Blog
Just Pure Lovely
J’s Spot
Kindred Heart Writers
Leap of Faith
Life is one daily adventure
Lift My Noise
Lighthouse Academy
Literary Discoveries
Literary Fangirl
Margaret Daley
Mari’s Morning Room
My Life Message
Paper Bridges
Partners in Prayer for Our Prodigal
Positive Moms
Prayerfully Penned
Rachel Hauck
Refresh My Soul
Reviews by Donna
Sarah Winfrey
Scraps and Snippets
See Ya On the Net
Simplifying Motherhood
Sips ‘n Cups Cafe
Sky-High View
The Gospel Writer
The Journey of Writer Danica Favorite
The March to Freedom
The Serial Writings of Robin Shope
The View From Here
Whosoever Will Outreach Ministry
Wild Words . . . Photos and Fine Art
Wisdom Walk
Word Vessel
Write by Faith

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

2009 Mountain of Authors Event

Pikes Peak Library District's third annual Mountain of Authors event showcasing local authors will feature New York Times best-selling author Beverly Lewis as the keynote speaker on March 28. Lewis, a Springs resident, is the author of more than 80 books, including the popular trilogy "The Heritage of Lancaster County." She is known for her Amish sagas and her novel, "The Parting," was on the New York Times best-seller list for nine weeks.

At two panel discussions, book lovers and writers of all experience levels will find tips and inspiration from a wide range of speakers. Local authors will be available for one-on-one discussions and book signings during the author spotlight and showcase.

The free program will be from 1 to 8 p.m. March 28 at East Library, 5550 N. Union Blvd.

No registration is required. For more information, call Krista Federico, 531-6333, ext. 1315.

Words & Pictures Panel

Todd Caudle, photographer of six books and dozens of calendars featuring his home state, including "14,000 Feet: A Celebration of Colorado's Highest Mountains," an award-winning coffee table book.

Michael Hague, a locally based illustrator perhaps best known for his series of children's classics, which includes such favorites as "The Wind in the Willows," "The Velveteen Rabbit," "Mother Goose," "The Secret Garden" and "Peter Pan." He has also collaborated with his wife, Kathleen Hague, on several best-selling books.

Maria Faulconer, a writer published in newspapers, magazines, journals and anthologies for children and adults. Her children's book, "Arianna and the Strawberry Tea," was selected as a self-talker for Barnes & Noble

Publishers Panel

Doris Baker, publisher at Filter Press, which has won numerous awards, including the WILLA Award from Women Writing the West and the Colorado Book Award.

Lisa Gilman, Communications Manager for the Small Publishers Association of North America, an international trade association (www.spannet.org). She assists authors and small publishers in creatively promoting their books and improving their businesses.

Michael "Mick" Silva, a writer and editor for WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group with more than 10 years' experience in shaping, acquiring, and developing books for the spiritual/religious market.

March 28 Schedule

1-2 p.m. panel - Publishers
2:30-3:30 p.m. panel - Words & Pictures
4-5 p.m. - Author Showcase Spotlight
5-6 p.m. - Author Showcase (Book Signings)
6-7 p.m. - Keynote Speaker, Beverly Lewis
7-8 p.m. - Beverly Lewis Book Signing, Reception

Source: http://www.gazette.com/articles/authors_49495___article.html/author_march.html

Friday, March 6, 2009

Staying on the Dark Side

(T-shirt found at thinkgeek.com)

So, here's the odd thing.

For years, I said I wasn't a fiction writer.

And then, last year I found myself one seriously burned out writer.

What did I do to relax?

I wrote fiction.

Some kind of crazy, I know.

I now belong to two critique groups. One focuses on non-fiction and one focuses on fiction.

Two weeks ago, I pitched a non-fiction book idea at a writers conference. Four publishers want to see my proposal. I am one grateful writer, considering the state of publishing right now.

Several writing friends encouraged me to quit my fiction group so I could focus my time on my non-fiction book proposal. Of course, their recommendation came after I'd lamented the pitiful amount of time I've had to work on my proposal.

Something has to give, right?

Well, I came to a decision today.

I do not want to give up my fiction group.

Sure, I have no plans to pitch my novel anytime soon. But this critique group is important to me. My crit partners are important to me. Critiquing their WIPs is important to me--and not just because I like wearing the "Evil Editor" t-shirt. I'm invested in their lives--their writing lives.

So, here I am. Exhausted. Straddling fiction and non-fiction. Still trying to figure out how to make it all happen.

Discovering that I'm gonna have to stop saying, "I don't write fiction."

Because it's looking more and more like I do.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Writing in a Hurricane

"Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, but to add color to my sunset sky."—Rabindranath Tagore

March Workshop: Writing in a Hurricane

When: Monday, March 9, 2009, 6:30–8:00 p.m.

Where: Stone Chapel, 280 East Woodmen Road, Colorado Springs, CO 80919

Workshop Description: Can you stop a hurricane from coming? Nope. It's coming. Now…or later…but, it is coming. It's a disaster outside of your control, but it doesn't need to kill you, or your writing. Leslie Yeaton Koepke survived a life hurricane. In the midst of the trauma, she wrote…sometimes. Her pages got wet, ideas scattered, and her resolve nearly drowned.

Amazing grace kept her.

She secured her book project in a lifeboat and continued to write amid the surging surf.

  • How will your commitment to write fare when a CAT 5 lands in your life?
  • What can you do now to prepare?
  • What story will you tell while dodging debris and picking up the pieces of what was?

From one writer to another, discover the insights Leslie garnered from her own storm. This interactive workshop will equip you with writing survival skills to outlive the swirling winds of a hurricane, threatening to destroy your writing dreams.

Note: Be sure to bring a tablet…you will be brainstorming and writing before the winds blow…again.

Speaker: Leslie Yeaton Koepke: Leslie is an International speaker with a 20-year career in marketing and communications. She's gifted, witty, energetic, creative, compelling, engaging. Her articles have been published in Brio magazine and Belief.net. She's also published in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Empty Nesters: 101 Stories about Surviving and Thriving When the Kids Leave Home.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

An Altogether Different Kind of Critique Partner

I've acquired an unexpected fiction crit partner: my husband Rob.

For the record, Rob is an outdoorsy-hiking-hunting-fishing kind of man's man. Thanks to his busy medical practice, he doesn't do a lot of pleasure reading. The standing joke is that he reads one novel a year--usually by staying up way-too late for a few nights.

And, until I wandered over to the Dark Side and started writing fiction, Rob had never, ever read a romance.

One day as I labored over my hero's point of view (POV), I decided to get a man's perspective. I knew how I thought the guy should act, what he should say. But what would a real guy think about what I wrote?

So I asked Rob to peruse my chapter and tell me what he thought.

Amazing man that is he, Rob didn't hesitate to plunge into romantic fiction, conflict, dialogue and POV.

Despite spending most of his time immersed in medical journals and patient charts, my husband has a good eye for fiction.

He doesn't hesitate to let me know when my hero isn't walking or talking like a guy.
After telling me where my dialogue is off--maybe even after he's recommended a change in body language--Rob suggests other changes too. He'll tamper with my plot, suggesting a "Why not try this?" turn of events.

And you know what? He has some good ideas!

It's gotten to the point where I run most scenes involving my hero by Rob. Hey, if my guy doesn't think the man in my novel is believable, why should anyone else?
Most writers know the value of a good critique group. Most crit groups are made up of other writers because, after all, we know the craft.

But I've learned a valuable lesson. Sometimes the best feedback comes from those outside the writing world--people living in the real world who can give me a real-life perspective on writing fiction.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Click to Look Inside

"Testifying is the purest form of human communication. The deepest meaning, the deepest conviction of one's soul is being given to another through the medium of the Holy Spirit."—Stephen R. Covey

By Scoti Springfield Domeij

Was in a secondhand store looking through the religious book section, when I overheard a man talking to his wife. He picked up one book after another, scoffing at the authors—not his brand of theology. One especially caught his ire.

Heretical—in fact. Gospel according to him.

I felt something click inside of me. His tone triggered my gag reflex, but also intrigued me. Watching him captivated me more than scanning the spines of books lining the bookshelves.

He pulled another book from the shelf and said to his wife, "Do you know who this is?"

She didn't.

With a condescending tenor, he informed her—"Cult leader. Better buy this book for research."

Even though his voice sounded low key, his opinions shouted. My visceral reaction? Felt like smacking him or at least offering him a bar of soap to wash out his mouth and heart. For some reason, I got the feeling that he was a 'Christian' writer and I was tempted to ask, "Who are you?"

However, I felt so repulsed by the way he treated and talked to his wife and opined about others, I really did not want to know. If he was an author I recognized, I did not want to feign liking him. A tiff ensued between them. They settled their spat and left.

What fascinated me most was that this stranger did not pretend to hide his disdain or arrogance. Maybe he failed to realize—a bystander watcheth. Not only did I notice his testimony, but also I examined how it made me feel. And I wondered, Who is this man's Jesus?

The Jesus I Never Knew by Philip Yancey was the only book I found to buy, which seemed oddly apropos for what my eyes and heart just observed.