Write Sharper Stories With Pinterest and Evernote

This week is shaping up to be a very fine example of why medicine is sometimes necessary. Shout out to my lousy insurance that, despite claiming it wants to do everything it can to help me manage my illness, actually covers none of my medication. But, that’s why I write to help me escape the crazy of whatever this (as I point around to my messy living room and the bag of Frito’s I’m nursing) is. As I’ve mentioned before, I love using Pinterest to help me write. But, there’s one unfortunate downside to that: you can’t rearrange pins without deleting, copying, or moving them to a different board! Collecting things that represent a character is possible, but tracking how they change over the span of your story isn’t.

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Unless you take the proverbial horse by the reins and lead it to a grid. I use a third website, Pixlr, to make easy photo grids that turn mood boards into storyboards. They keep my writing flowing, help details pop, and concrete the story in my mind. First, for those of you unfamiliar with Evernote, it’s a wonderful platform that has really changed how I write.

I use Evernote for five main reasons:

  1. It’s so streamlined  – there’s no distractions, just big open space for me to rapidly dump my ideas.
  2. It’s literally the best repository – I save links, articles, photos, outlines – everything related to my story, it’s all right there.
  3. It’s everywhere – Before, my ideas would be in one notebook or another, or trapped on my external hard drive. Evernote it on my tablet, my phone, and everywhere else. It follows my inspiration.
  4. I can tag my notes – my story and all related to it is in the same notebook, but say I want things only related to Chapter One. They’re tagged, and all I have to do is view that tag.
  5. I can work faster – The shortcut feature lets me star the things I’m working on at present. So, if I’m typing a scene, I can add a shortcut to get me back to my scene with one click.

Now that you’re sold on Evernote, let’s work on that photo grid.

My grid is made up of six images that help me visualize the world my characters will live in. It’s a nameless city for now, but seeing it makes things easier to describe, from the warm yellow glare of headlights  to the hazy orange of city lights. Look at the textures of the city, the long reflections on the road, the ribbing on the sweater. I can almost picture rust on the fire escape, rain drops slowly trailing down the cool window. To prove my method, I’m posting my first scene (or at least the first bit I feel okay-ish about). You can read it here. Comments, suggestions, and advice are most welcome!

The story, content, and writing is copyright protected. Please do not steal or alter without express permission from me.

Doing this has also changed things that I felt pretty securely about. My main character’s appearance has changed from my first impression, as has the main conflict of the story! What’s even better about using Pinterest and Evernote together is that I can place my grids right into Evernote. So my boards on Pinterest that gather my visual inspiration now match with my words and vice versa.

That doesn’t mean I’ve solved it all, though. I still could use tons of advice on some points I’ve been back and forth on. Namely how to decide between first person or a narrative point of view, and how to choose character names. What are your favorite resources? Lay ’em on me, people!

Here’s to a productive Tuesday!

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What I Mean When I Say “Migraine” + Dealing At Work

“Oh, I get headaches, too! I’ve got an IBUProfen, do you want one?”

The first thing I learned after being diagnosed with a chronic illness is that it is incredibly difficult for people to understand. When I say “migraine,” most people hear “bad headache.” But, migraines are so much more than most people can even begin to describe. And while you might mean well by offering an Ibuprofen to a friend or loved one who suffers from chronic migraines, chances are they’ve already tried most pain relievers on the shelf. The best thing you can do is offer your support and willingness to learn. So, today I’m going to pick through my migraine experience and share my defense plan that gets me through my work day in the hopes that it will help sufferers and friends alike.

If you have any questions, please feel free to ask in the comments!

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Migraines, Explained

We’re actually quite lucky here in the 21st century. Cavemen and 17th-century sufferers alike drilled holes in their skulls to alleviate severe pains and pressure. Trepanning, as it was called, is one of the more gruesome treatments people turned to, but consider the pain that a human body must be experiencing for this “solution” to even be a consideration! I can tell you from personal experience, pain can push you to a point where opening a 6-inch hole in your head seems like a good idea. But, pain inside your brain is inescapable; it’s not a bum knee that you can prop up, or a bad back you can ice. It’s all consuming and can distort your version of reality. It makes sense, then, that people have turned to electrotherapy, vessel ligation, and other incredibly invasive procedures to cure their migraines. What causes them, though? Why do people even have migraines?

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Tips From A Planner Addict On A Budget

Don’t get me wrong, I love perusing all the planner accounts on Instagram, but I’ve always been the kind of person to do my own thing. Especially when I’m doing said thing on a budget. I’m a part-time librarian, so we really rely on Husband’s full-time job. But, just because we keep our purse strings pulled a bit tight doesn’t mean I can’t decorate the hell out of my planner.

It all really comes down to reusing things most crafters already have in their supply. I do buy things on rare occasion, but I also rely heavily on my local public library (also coincidentally my workplace). A library?! Oh, yes! Read on to find all my juicy tips, tricks, and suggestions to help you strengthen your planner game!

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Your Planner

My planner goes everywhere with me. Work, meetings, the grocery store- everywhere. So, it matters to me that my planner will stand up to being tossed into my tote bag (and under my desk, and under my rolling desk chair…). The second stipulation is customization. If I can’t completely change it then I will get bored of it fast. I love to add flare to my things, but not when the planner sets me back $60.

My solution: I simply use an A5 three ring binder!  It’s simple, clean, and serves it’s purpose well. I can add my own covers, and decorate literally every inch of it while trusting the rigid structure to protect my ideas. It’s perfect!

The Takeaway: Planning shouldn’t be about what brands you use. It should be all about your brand.

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Short No. 1

I challenged myself to do a short writing piece today. The following is what happened.


She laid there, staring at the ceiling. It stared back deep into her retinas, reaching and reaching, ready to hollow her out and pour It in. She could feel the scraping, scratching nails. Still, she laid. Even as the slime covered her soul, still she laid. When It was finished, nothing around her felt the same. Brightness washed reality into a blur she didn’t recognize.

But, after her long eternity on the ground, she found enough to bring herself, to pull her legs to her. Sitting revealed her cage of see through walls that barred her from everything Out There. There were families at a picnic, children splashing about in a warm summer sun, and flowers waving to her from their sanctuary. Her big, wide, empty eyes looked and looked and spied more underneath, like a layer of film sitting just below the water. Ugly slurs and sun-bright muzzle flashes seared the violence she saw through her galaxy eyes, decorated with sparkling tears, onto her skull. Yes, she confirmed, it is much safer here inside these walls. The visions became murkier and clogged with cries; she could no longer see the warm sun or smiling families.

No longer curious, no longer wanting to see, she began tearing her dress into strips that she stitched to her walls with dreams pulled from her round, empty eyes. It watched the entire process and nodded in agreement as she tore at her garment with ragged fingernails. Hours and days and months and years she spent perfecting the thing that kept Out There, out. As the last shreds went up, she suddenly saw a tiny hole in the wall. Peering out through that hole, she saw a hand attached to an arm attached to a shoulder attached to a neck that supported her.

Like a crashing mirror in slow motion, reality shocked her like a crackle of thunder. It suddenly noticed and sprang to action, once more pulling and pouring. The more It pulled, the harder she pounded and punched at that little hole in the wall. Fighting and fighting, she desperately lunged at the wall, arm outstretched, and finally felt the warm palm of her salvation.

In one move, she found herself breaking, slamming through the once see through walls and looking in on her cage, the prison she had built with Its brick and mortar. The eyes full of void suddenly filled again with swaying flowers and hope like a wind that carried It away.

No one was coming to save her. She did it all on her own.

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DIY Mixed Material Mobiles

Mobiles are one of my very favorite projects to work on. They can be wonderful, whimsical ways to showcase a collection, a favorite material, or they can represent ideas all on their own. Unfortunately, none of my mobiles survived our big move a couple of months ago. There’s nothing more frustrating than watching your creations fall apart! I was able to save some of the materials, though, so I thought I’d start a new mobile today and bring you along with me!

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Thanks to the Listers Gotta List prompts this month which inspired this post!

First, what the heck is a “mixed material” mobile? That’s another term I’ve made up simply to describe what the mobile will require. Beads, gems, paper, wire – all these things have different weights, and depending upon their placement, can tip your mobile. I’ll be sharing some tips and tricks, as well as some drool worthy mobiles for inspiration at the end, so keep reading!

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Why I Create

This post lived in my draft folder all weekend. I’ve scratched it, restarted it, and still had trouble nailing down my answers to a simple question: why do I love to create?  It’s an important piece of my puzzle and today, I’m going to share why this chronically badass chick likes to hoard paper and fabric, and do crazy things with them.

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“Do your own thing on your own terms and get what you came here for”
― Oliver James

I think first and foremost my creativity allows me to express myself on my own terms. I sew my own clothes, make my own printables, and customized my one-of-a-kind planner all in an attempt to express my dreams, my loves, and my emotions.

Sometimes reality is too complex. Fiction gives it form.
—Jean-Luc Godard

And sometimes, reality is too frightening. As the morning news becomes more and more tragic, I find myself turning to my sketch pad or my stories to try and make sense of the things happening around me.

The primary benefit of practicing any art , whether well or badly, is that it enables one’s soul to grow.
—Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

Obviously, creating is also a coping mechanism for me. I think it was this new role that art took on that made it so powerful and important for me. My body is not my own, but what I create with it is.

Beauty will save the world.
—Dosteovsky

I think we can all agree that the world needs more beauty. If I can improve someone’s day with an uplifting photo or simple project, then I will try my best to do so.

Why do you create? I’d love to know; share your reasons in the comments or on social media @faythelibrarian!

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Worldbuilding + How I Use Writing To Escape

The first story I ever put on paper was about Frankenstein and his lack of friends. I was seven and had a very empathetic reaction to a story about a lonely, misunderstood outsider. As an adult, I’m still drawn to the underdog, probably because living with an illness is one form of hell the proverbial dark horse could relate to.

But, every good story, whether it be about Frankenstein or a hospital patient, needs a world to exist in. It can appear like a chicken or the egg problem; which comes first, the world or the character? I have the arc of the story in my head, the first page and a half of my story set up, but I need to know where my characters are in order to put detail on the page.

It can appear like a chicken or the egg problem; which comes first, the world or the character? I have the arc of the story in my head, the first page and a half of my story set up, but I need to know where my characters live. That should impact their past, how they move through the pages, and ultimately, the decisions they make. So, today I’m going to build a world and share all the links I use with you. We’re also going to talk a bit about how I’ve been using the story to deal with illness.

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Sometimes, it’s easiest to start with questions. Patricia C. Wrede’s Fantasy Worldbuilding Questions is a great place to start. Wrede’s write up is hosted by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, so it’s also a trustworthy source. The list breaks down things you need for “Alternate Earth” or “Not Earth At All,” and considers the density of planets, what their gravity would be like, how continents are laid out, etc. My suggestion: go slow. Google is your friend. And, if you’re not writing about a fantastical world, the same questions can prod you to think about details on Earth.

Wrede’s questions are so helpful. I have had different feelings about the different world (which, yes, is on a different planet), but now I have some kind of direction to go in. To make it simpler for myself, I copied down the questions onto a Drive document and started typing my answers. The questions should lead you to narrow down research topics. For instance, there’s so much more I can add to my planetary environment, like different continents, farming, and human impact on the planet. The questions act as a guideline you can use to add detail to your story. It’s an all around good place to start, I think, in order to get a comfortable feel of the world your characters (and one day your readers) will live in.

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Three Ways To Protect Your Content

Blogging takes guts.

Posting your own ideas and thoughts, crafts and projects, opens you up to criticism from anywhere on the globe. While you think you may not need any content protection, I am here to say yes you flippin’ do. I have had so much art ripped off Tumblr, and even had my credits photoshopped out of the art. It’s upsetting and also illegal. Your content is yours. It’s your intellectual property, and you have to take some small and very easy steps to ensure what happened to me, doesn’t happen to you.

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If you’re still thinking, “This is going to be complicated, I just know it,” then I’d highly suggest checking out this official WordPress page. It offers some great advice and resources for content protection. It’s such good advice that I’m taking some steps myself to beef up my security. Adding things like a copyright notice is so very incredibly easy.

The three easiest ways are with Creative Commons Licensing, copyright notices, and watermarks.

Creative Commons Licensing

If you’ve ever noticed the bottom of my sidebar sports a Creative Commons License that allows some things, but not others. In the past, confusing questions made it hard to find the right license. But now, CC has a nice, responsive site that will walk you through the selection process based on your answers to some simple questions. At the end of the walk through, you’ll get some snazzy code you can copy and paste straight into a text block in your sidebar. So, the license I chose protects my content by allowing “ShareAlike” works, but does not allow the commercial use of my content.

If a licensor decides to allow derivative works, she may also choose to require that anyone who uses the work — we call them licensees — to make that new work available under the same license terms. We call this idea “ShareAlike” and it is one of the mechanisms that (if chosen) helps the digital commons grow over time.

Copyright Notice

This license protects every page and category, but some parts of my blog I want to be mine alone. That’s where copyright notices step in. I want to start adding my short stories in order to get feedback, but I don’t want people to be able to rip off my work. Adding a sticky post to a page with a clear, no bullshit message is a must. WordPress suggests adding it to your sidebar (or your footer widget), so it travels along with whoever is viewing your blog.

© [Full Name] and [Site Name], [Current Year or Year Range]. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to [Your Name] and [Your Site Name] with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Plagiarism Today also has some great tips for writing your very own copyright notice, including decoding and deciding on the language in your rights statement.

Watermarks

WordPress also highlights some great discussion concerning watermarks, which are like stamps you place on your images that mark them as yours. Photographers are always encouraged to use them, but there are some bloggers that don’t necessarily need to spend the time marking their images. I’d suggest skimming through the link to see if watermarks are something you need. Personally, I watermark the photos I post with my blog name and url; if that image is shared anywhere else, people will know where it originally came from.

With all that said, there are some that argue watermarks only get in the way and don’t actually help prevent theft. The Pixlr blog team put together a very interesting article about the negative side of watermarks.

Adding a watermark may dissuade lazy bloggers who are looking for a quick image, but a talented graphic design thief can remove most watermarks without much trouble.


Have you ever had anything stolen before? Let’s commiserate together! (I’m pretty good at commiserating, just fyi). If anyone has questions, I’d be happy to help in anyway I can!

Only one more day ’til the weekend, folks!

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10 Lovely Things, #5

There’s been quite a bit of lovely floating around my neck of the woods lately. Sometimes it takes a while to see it, though. Just one reason I’m really enjoying sharing things that put a smile on my geeky face! Simply click the numerals to navigate the things I’m in love with right now!

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01. Everyone could use a friendly reminder that short people can be super feisty. We can also be sleepy and dopey, but mainly feisty.

02. Cake pillows, people, are a gift to mankind. Everyone should have one. Or ten.

03. If I knew that painting your hand would be so possible, I would have banked on every time my tweens decided to cover themselves in paint.

04. STAR TREK! There’s finally going to be good sci-fi on while The Expanse regroups. I may be a  *bit* excited.

05. I, like many, have struggled practically my whole adult life to come to terms with my curvy and well endowed body. The body positive message warms my adolescent heart, while JCPenney’s #HereIAm video shouts at me to love who I am now. Dress how you want, be who you are, and don’t give a flying f*** if anyone likes it.

06. And speaking of beautiful, if you’ve never visited Bri Emery over at designlovefest, then I’d highly suggest hopping to her download page. She shares designer created digital wallpaper that keeps my screen light, bright, and sparkly!

07. Check out the new addition to my sidebar: my current planner cover, which I change every Sunday, will now get it’s own spot to shine in! What’s the most unique topic or content you’ve seen in a sidebar?

08. Gratitude never goes out of style; I’m almost done with a super positive project that will hopefully bring smiles to more faces. Check out the link for ways you can pay it forward!

09. Of course, there’s a Pinterest share! Kelli Crowe’s board is just so gosh darn lovely. I always stop and like or save her pins; she’s got a sharp eye for design! Trust me, you’ll need to block an afternoon and just peruse all her boards.

10. What’s something that has made you happy over the past week? Share your inspiration in the comments!

Go Write Your Manifesto (and Live It, Too!)

This project proved to  be a lot more difficult than I thought it would be. It’s easy to name off things we like (like, Starbucks, for instance). But it’s another thing entirely to write out your core beliefs, and the things that make up your foundation. I do recommend this project, though. Knowing what you stand for, what things you think are the most important in life, is so  important. Follow along to see my final manifesto, and grab some tips I’m using to live my manifesto every day.

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