Tips for backing up documents

Recently, I learned and very hard and excruciating painful lesson about backing up my documents. I thought that I was being so smart backing up all my documents on a USB flash drive. That way, if anything happened to my computer, I wouldn’t lose everything. Well, it turns out I was wrong.  

Two weeks ago my computer crashed, which for me, really wasn’t anything new. I have this nasty habit of telling it to do too many things at once and when I do this my computer protests and stops working. Anyway, everything that was saved directly on my computer was lost.  I went through the steps of reinstalling all the software and after a few hours, it was up and running.

At that point, I stuck my USB flash drive in, itching to get back to writing. I opened the draft I had been working on and was about to save a copy onto my computer (just in case) when the worse thing I could have imagined happened.  

Now, I should probably say that I’m not very technically savvy so the next bit is my interpretation of what my IT guy said.

There had been a virus on my computer before it crashed, and it had transferred to my USB flash drive. When I stuck the flash drive into my newly working computer, it cued that virus to attack all my files. It destroyed everything from outlines for new ideas right down to a halfway completed first draft.

In the end, I lost countless hours of work all because I didn’t realize that one back up was just not enough.  

After I finished stewing about everything that had been lost, I did some research on alternative ways to back up documents. And the one thing that I read over and over was that a best practice is to back up everything in 4 or 5 different places. I know this sounds like a lot of work, but trust me, one back up is not enough.

Here are a few different methods I found for storing your important files:

1) Online Storage
There are a bunch of them out there but here are a few free ones you could check out:
Freedrive | ADriveSkyDrive

2) USB Flash Drive
Believe it or not, this is still my favorite way to save my files.  I love the convenience and the size is prefect.

3) Portable Hard Drive
I’ve never actually used one, but they seem popular and although they are bigger than the flash drive they are still small enough to carry with you when you’re on the go.

4) Email
Emailing it to yourself is probably one of the quickest ways to back up a document and with it in your emails you can access it from any computer at any time.

I hope this will give you all some ideas on ways to keep those precious files safe. 

Paranormal Fiction Addiction

Okay, it’s official. I’m addicted to YA paranormal fiction.  

I was checking out my TBR shelve today, and I realized that the next 30 books or so are all YA paranormal fiction. As I perused the books, I couldn’t help but wonder, how did this happen? Wasn’t it just yesterday that I was hooked on adult romance? I continued looking through the piles and I realized that pretty much every new book I’ve picked up over the last couple years has been YA paranormal fiction, and I’ve loved them all.

Of course, this got me thinking…Why? What is it about these books that has sucked me in so much that I now rarely pick up anything else?  Here’s what I came up with:

Escaping to a new world: Sometimes real life is stressful. We go to school or work all day, and then we come home to a mountain of chores. It can feel like a never-ending cycle, but when you pick up a good book, you can literally lose yourself into a whole new world. One of the things I love about the paranormal is how vastly different the world is from my normal day to day life and this flows into my second love of paranormal fiction…

Believability: So, we are sitting here reading about vampires, witches, werewolves, etc., and then we get thrust into some crazy other dimension and with the authors’ skills, every word we are reading is believable. We can see the world. We can feel it, and the possibilities become so real it’s almost as if we can reach out and touch it.  It’s a pretty amazing feeling.

Hotties with insane powers: Who doesn’t love hotties with crazy powers? I know I do. Really, hotties and super-human powers, what’s not to love?

Giddy school girl in love feeling:  And then, the hottie meets the love interest, and we get to fall in love with them. It’s always a rollercoaster ride of emotions, especially when the love interest finds out the truth about their new flame.

After picking out the things I love about my paranormal fiction books I thought just for a second that maybe, just maybe, I should mix it up a bit. But then I shrugged, smiled, and picked up another paranormal fiction, because, well, I realized that I’m glad I’m addicted.

My Life List

I’ve been working on this for a while now and have finally finished my life list, so I thought I would share it with you all. It’s a bucket list of sorts, a list of 100 things I want to learn, see and accomplish in my lifetime. Some of the things are simple, some extravagant, and others are just silly, but together they form my dreams.

1. Write my life list
2. Learn how to French braid
3. Run a marathon
4. Backpack through Europe
5. Read 5 books every month for a year
6. Publish a book
7. Write a sequel to that book
8. Do a cartwheel (I’m always scared I’ll fall on my head)
9. Learn to speak Spanish
10. Win a contest
11. Conquer my fear of heights
12. Design a clothing line
13. Go 6 months without buying a new purse
14. Learn how to play the guitar
15. Buy a house
16. Drive across Canada
17. See a shooting star
18. Make a difference
19. Go bungee jumping
20. Go sky diving
21. Sponsor a child
22. Become a Girl Guide leader
23. Learn to sail
24. Learn to scuba dive
25. Fly a plane
26. Go rock climbing
27. Ride a bull
28. Learn to sew buttons
29. Find a four-leaf clover
30. Learn how to play chess
31. Go kite boarding
32. Swim with dolphins
33. Learn to tap dance
34. Go white-water rafting
35. See the Grand Canyon
36. Go on an Alaskan cruise
37. Get paid to do what I love
38. Take a cooking class
39. Have a closet just for my purses
40. Grow a vegetable garden
41. Take drawing classes
42. Cook a Christmas turkey (by myself)
43. Stop drinking pop
44. Learn to knit a sweater
45. Take spin classes
46. Go to the gym 5 days a week
47. See Anne of Green Gables (again)
48. Make Alfredo sauce from scratch
49. Create my family tree
50. Learn to cut hair
51. Take a girls only vacation (sorry honey)
52. Build patio furniture
53. Go mini golfing
54. Throw a Halloween party
55. Throw a dinner party where I cook all the food from scratch
56. Make a different home-cooked meal every day for 1 month
57. Camp in Algonquin Park (again)
58. Make my own jam
59. Stay in an igloo
60. Go to Disney World
61. Learn to code a website
62. Design a purse
63. Make a dress
64. Learn to sew (I think this should probably go before making a dress)
65. Go on a weeklong canoe trip and camp at a different place each night
66. Learn to play the piano (again)
67. Take an origami class
68. Own a bookstore
69. Do 100 sit-ups (without stopping)
70. Take yoga classes
71. Design comfortable stilettos
72. See the pyramids in Egypt
73. Spend a day at the ROM (again)
74. Go to New York City
75. Build a dollhouse
76. Spend a summer in Portugal
77. Become a mentor
78. Help to make someone’s dreams come true
79. Spend a full weekend only doing things my husband wants to do (no matter how boring the video games are)
80. Have a Freddy Kruger movie marathon
81. Teach my cats to do a trick
82. Have a home library
83. Overcome my fear of riding horses and get back in the saddle
84. Read everything written by Shakespeare
85. See a whale
86. Learn to change the breaks on my car
87. Go deep-sea fishing
88. Read every Jude Deveraux novel
89. Weave a wicker basket
90. Take a ride in a hot-air balloon
91. Go to clown college (I’m really not sure why, but I love clowns)
92. Stay in a bed and breakfast in PEI
93. Swim in each of the 5 great lakes
94. Go to Australia
95. Fill my office walls with my favorite inspirational quotes
96. Learn sign language
97. See the northern lights
98. Invent something useful
99. Do the CN Tower Edge Walk
100. Never lose sight of my core values

I have learned a lot about myself while creating this list and also had some fun. Have you created your life list yet?

Is your destiny written in stone?

I have always been a lover of theories on destiny and when you toss soulmates into the mix, the theories become almost magical. In a sense, destiny and soulmates are like a wonderful fairytale that lies in front of us just waiting to be uncovered.

Some say that we create our own destiny. We make decision, and each decision alters our path. Others say that our destiny is set in stone. We can take the long road or the short road, but no matter what we will end up at the same place.

I like to think that my destiny lies somewhere in the middle. I don’t believe that there is just one way to our destiny or that there is only one version of destiny. Each one of us has more than one path, and our decisions along the way dictate which path we take.

In the end, each path will lead us to a different outcome. So, I think, we do not create our own destiny but only choose which version of destiny we will follow.

If my theory is correct, and we do, in fact, have more than one possible destiny, does that mean that we have more than one potential soulmate? Or will we only find our soulmate when we both choose the same path?

What do you think?

My Writer Personality

Some of us write just to write, scribbling words on a page out of love and letting our imaginations soar. Others like to take a more planned approach. We outline, create character sketches full of back story, plan out every detail of the town, and the details go on and on…

I like to think I fall somewhere in the middle. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m an obsessive planner. I create outline after outline after outline until the story is sound. But then as I pound out the words on the keyboard, I always seem to get lost in the story and then before I know it, I’m at a new place I had never before imagined.

This can be a great thing, but, like all organization freaks, I find myself pulling back, and again, I’m back at the drawing board trying to find a way to have this new development work in the story.

After hours, days and even weeks of frustration, trying to balance out my obsessive and creative sides, I came up with a compromise which has led to a writing process that keeps both my personalities happy.

I write every day no matter what. I always start out the first 30 minutes with my imagination, letting the words come out however they please. This is my warm up, getting those creative juices flowing. Usually I pick one of the minor characters within the story I’m writing to play the lead. I never fail to be surprised to see some of the crazy things those minors do when they have the spotlight. It gives them a chance to shine and gives me new inspiration.

Then I like to have a coffee or 5 (I drink at least three pots a day). While I sip on the delicious java, I read over my little sprint and see if any of it is usable in my present or maybe a future story. If a new story idea comes to mind from the warm up, or I think of an awesome place to add it in the current story, I take 20 to 30 minutes to jot it down, if not I move on, checking out where I left off on my outline. Then I take a few minutes to review the last few paragraphs from the day before to get my bearings.

This is where my writing process takes, what I like to think of as a designer feel. Like most, I write scene by scene, breaking the book down into sections. However, I don’t stop there. I strip it down and write every scene in sections, dialogue, emotions, narrative, and then setting. And by splitting it up into steps my organizational side stays content.

My favorite thing to write is dialogue so this is where I always start. I will sketch out the whole scene with just the dialogue. I find that when I’m only thinking about what is actually being said and nothing else the dialogue is more natural, not forced, and overall, original.

But the neat thing about this is, when the dialogue is done, the emotions are easy to fill in since I already have a great sense of exactly what is being said.

At this point, I read through everything again, filling in narrative and thinking of the perfect place for this scene to happen. I find setting can be tricky, which is probably why I leave it to the end. I really over think this part. Would an 18-year-old boy throw a punch in his own living room when his parents could be in the kitchen? What if a 16-year-old girl was being picked on at school? Would she cry in public or would she run to the bathroom? Where is the best place for that first kiss? Should it be a romantic setting or did it just happen at a continence store?

However, in the end, I have a great scene; my imagination has been let loose and my fixation with organization has been kept satisfied, and then I get to start the process all over again.

My Hero

From a very young age, we are told that we can be anything or do anything if we work for it. Our teachers, parents, family, friends, basically everyone we come across asks us, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” And when we answer, they always say, “You can do it.”

For me, this has always been an easy answer. Sure there were the usual things like a princess, an astronaut, and a movie star, but more than anything else, I have always wanted to be like my mother. I know this will probably sound tacky, but it is thanks to her that I have realized that I really can do anything if I put my mind to it.

My mom, Jo-Anne, is a living, breathing miracle. A few years ago, she fell off her horse. After being airlifted to a hospital and rushed in for emergency surgery, the doctors said that she probably wouldn’t make it through the night. She suffered substantial head injuries, including internal bleeding within the brain.

It was a struggle for a while but not only did she wake up; she is now living on her own, taking care of herself and has a full time job. Her goal after her injury (once her memory finally came back) was to be self-sufficient, and I am proud to say that she has succeeded.

When I first started writing my new novel, The Soul’s Mark: FOUND, there were times when I just wanted to give up. a full-length novel can be a lot of fun and 99.9% of the time I loved it, but there was always that small part of me that got frustrated, especially when I was staring at a blank computer screen and could not think of anything to write.

But each time I wanted to throw my manuscript out the window I thought about my mom. About the loving person she had always been and all the things she has gone through. If she can go through a complete life change and do it with a smile, well, then, I could finish a novel.

Not only was her life story my silent inspiration, she also took the time to be my full time sounding board while writing. When I got stuck on a plot twist or a character name or really anything I needed to talk through she was there. She encouraged me along the way, and her belief that I could write pushed me through all the bumps in the road.

It gives me great pride to say my mom is definitely my hero, and I strive every day to be as truly amazing as she is.

Things I did while writing The Soul’s Mark: FOUND

Here is a list of the things that happened while I was writing my upcoming novel, The Soul’s Mark: FOUND:

· Completed an outline, or half of one. Then I got impatient and wrote my first draft.

· The first draft sucked. I ripped it up into millions of tiny little pieces. Then I went back to the drawing board.

· I wrote a complete outline. Then I re-wrote it. I put my scenes on index cards, spread them out across my living room floor and put them together. I shuffled them up and put them together again. I did this over and over until I was happy with the storyline and I had each scene and their place in the story memorized.

· Spent weeks and weeks researching vampires, soulmates, souls…

· I interviewed all my characters, asking them their most embarrassing stories, their favorite colors, what they looked like…

· I wrote the second draft then again ripped it up and went back to the drawing board.

· I added scenes took away scenes and tweaked the outline then I gave it to a friend to critique.

· I crashed my computer (luckily I backed everything up).

· Took a break from writing the book and wrote fun scenes with my characters.

· Sent some fun scenes to my editor and checked my emails at least 50 times a day waiting to see what he thought.

· I thought about throwing my computer out the window. I was sure something was wrong with it and that’s why I hadn’t heard back from my editor.

· 5 days later I got a response from my editor—he was excited!

· I wrote my third draft and finally came up with The Soul’s Mark: FOUND for the title.

· Then I changed all my characters names and re-interviewed them.

· Wrote my fourth draft and gave it to some friends for feedback.

· For two weeks I stood over their shoulders hounding for feedback and I’m sure I drove them crazy.

· I got the feedback and went back to my outline. I moved scenes, deleted scenes, added scenes and thought… something is missing…

· I wrote a prologue and I realized what was missing and then added the new idea. I tweaked the story and finished my fifth draft and then sent it back out for feedback.

· While I waited I read, read, read. I re-read some of my favorite books and picked up some new ones.

· One by one the reviews started coming in and they were good… and then it hit me… I didn’t want to finish the story. So I re-wrote sections and then changed them back. I stalled for another three weeks and then finally I accepted that it was actually finished and… I sent it to my editor.

· For the first two days I checked my emails at least 200 times even though I knew he would take at least a week to get back to me.

· Two weeks later I got the edits and dove in, fixing areas that needed work, reading his comments, sticking my nose up at them and then deciding he was right.

· And now, here we are. The Soul’s Mark: FOUND is finished and the days are counting down for its release.

Now it’s time for the fun to start again… stay tuned for my upcoming projects.

The Best Quote EVER!

“If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it at all.” ― Oscar Wilde
When I get hooked on a good book I read it over and over and over. I’m sure most of us do. It’s amazing how many things we miss in that first read. Personally, I get so caught up in the story line (usually finishing the book in one sitting) that I miss so many things, like hair color, eye color, what town the characters were in. I let myself dive into the story and get lost in the turmoil that the characters find themselves in.

This is why I never go to the library. I love to buy my books and place them on my over packed bookshelves so they are always around when I get to itch to fall in love with my favorite characters all over again.

Each time I reread one, it’s like a whole new story. I pick up on subtle subplots and fall in love with the book all over again. I find myself rooting for different characters—ones that I hardly noticed the first time around.

My Blood Approves by Amanda Hocking has to be my all time favorite series. I can’t even begin to count how many times I’ve read it and each time I finish I just can’t wait to pick them up again.

I remember this first time I read the series. I was home sick with a nasty flu. But even with how horrid I felt, I just couldn’t put the books down. I read the whole series in two days.

The first time around, I thought Jack was really amazing. He was sweet and Peter was just a big jerk. Once I finished I went online, read some reviews, and thought… CRAP. Did I miss something? More than half of the reviews loved Peter. I just didn’t understand why. He was hardly in the story, showing up for a chapter and then vanishing again and he was around he really wasn’t that great.

But I just couldn’t shake the feeling I missed something important so I went back to the first book and started again. It was like reading a whole new story and, I hadn’t thought it was possible, but I loved the books even more. By the time I finished the series for the second time I had laughed, cried, Amanda Hocking had managed to touch ever part of me.

It was 9:30 at night and I’m pretty sure it was a Thursday when I finished (for the second time). I called my Mom in tears, because, Peter wasn’t a jerk. He was… amazing and I felt absolutely heartbroken. My Mom listened to me cry, and laugh. I told her the whole story, every little detail. And then… I went back to the first book and started again, because, well, I just didn’t want the story to end—LIKE EVER!

When inspiration hits….

The strangest things can spark my inspiration. The other day I woke up in a horrid mood. The sun was shining, the birds were chirping but no matter how wonderful everything around me was I felt like a crazy person.

I went to work in a sour mood and of course, my nauseatingly sunny co-worker was in her usual good mood. It was absolutely sickening how happy and bubbly she was and all I wanted to do was yell and stomp my feet and tell her not to be so bloody cheery.

And then… I was smacked by the inspiration bug. Suddenly, the raw sour mood looked a tiny bit bright as the pages seemed to magically fill with words. To my surprise, I found myself going back to my co-worker for more of her terribly grating – like nails on a chalk board – cheeriness to feed my bitter mood inspiration.

The point is we all have those grouchy days. Don’t let them take over, instead, use that emotion feed your creative bone!