Q&A at goodreads through july 1

Q&A with Mari Adkins

Q&A with Mari Adkins 13 members

I’m happy to answer questions about my books and writing. This group is active ’til July 1.

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how i organize with onenote

About this time last year I made the switch from Evernote, which I’d used since it came out, to Microsoft OneNote, which is an integrated part of my Office software. After making a ‘trial run’ of OneNote to see how I could organize everything, I knew this was the better program for me. I hated to let Evernote go – they’ve been very good to me! But I just needed more than what their program offers.

imho, the worst thing about OneNote is that there aren’t a lot of templates available (although I’ve found they’re easy made), and there doesn’t seem to be much support / tips’n tricks available.

The biggest plus is that it integrates with the other Office programs – you can “print” to or from OneNote and share in the Office cloud (though I don’t use Skydrive – does anyone?). I keep my OneNote files inside my Dropbox folder – so it backs up its own backups, essentially. The program is largely intuitive. It’s easy to figure out what does what and what you can and can’t do with it. As for the lack of support et al, googling OneNote turns up what I’m looking for. I like that I can customize the interface, too. In the quickview bar, I have only the tools I use most often; everything else is tucked into the ribbon.

I have ADHD (leaning toward the Inattentive/Distractive side), so the way I organize things drives people straight up a wall. For them, it’s not intuitive or organized. For me it makes perfect sense. (I have friends who don’t like using my laptop because they never can find anything – but to me, its organization makes perfect sense)

From this article:

OneNote is designed to mimic a collection of spiral notebooks, with metaphors of tabs and pages. It has six total levels of organization–notebooks, sections, subsections, pages, and two levels of subpages. OneNote also has a system of links that allow notes to contain links to other notes, or to a Web page, a Word document, or a PowerPoint presentation.

I have three notebooks. One is for all my personal stuff, one is for all my blogging stuff, and the third is for all my writing stuff. I could break the writing notebook down into three notebooks, really: writing advice, adult stuff, young adult stuff. And I might if it keeps getting more crowded in there.

Another thing about OneNote is that you can size and position the sidepanels. You can put them on the right or the left and collapse them or widen them as large as you need them to be. When you open a notebook, tabs open across the top of the display, so really you can collapse the notebook pane entirely to give yourself more workspace. As well, you can minimize the pages panel. You can also color the notebooks and individual tabs any color you like, just like a physical notebook, to help sort this into that. “Oh, that’s in the green tab.” Click! Very handy if you’re as visual as I am. One thing I don’t like is that each page and subpage (and sub subpage and sub sub subpage, ad nauseum) under a given tab is the same color as that tab. I’d like to be able to color the individual pages – that’d be awesome!

Like I said, I prefer OneNote over Evernote; it’s what works for me. OneNote gives me so many more organizing / sorting / filing options. Also, the workspace is more user-friendly – I can make everything else smaller in order to view what I need to see / work on. OneNote pastes text into blocks (similar to a text block in Word) that you can click and drag around to reposition where you’d like. If you have a lot of small elements (small text bits / pictures) on a page, this comes in handy; it allows you to put things where they’re more available to you.

Since I started using OneNote last year, I’ve dumped almost all of my writing notes into the program. Some stuff still remains on my hard drive, but bit by bit, I’m moving it all into notebooks. This is so much better to (and for) me than having endless folders with endless streams of documents. Click FAQ tab, and voila, there’s everything in a neat little row for me to pick and choose from. Even with descriptive file names, I’d find myself sitting here thinking, “Is this the file I need? Or is it this one?” I don’t have to do that any more. Less muss, less fuss – I’m all for that!

metrics: thursday may 19

Midnight’s Heir [draft #5]

yearly words: 26,239

current music: (movie on in background)

opening line: Her knees knocked together despite her position on the sofa.

closing line: His ebony eyes narrowed into slits. “If I was home right now, I’d beat him up myself.”

reason for stopping: end of chapter

favorite phrase: She hadn’t known time could be so lethargic.

left to write: oh, so much to edit!

commentary: I don’t like the beginning of this story now. I’m going to do to it basically what I did to Midnight several years ago: chop off so much of the beginning and just start over from scratch.

metrics: friday, may 6

opening count: 10,495
daily count: 4,224

current music: singing birds

opening line: Adam said, “Yes, sir.”

closing line: As her blood flowed into his mouth, he groaned.

reason for stopping: I would have kept going, but I was wiped out – and it was midnight! way time for bed.

favorite phrase: “You don’t know what you’re asking me to do.”

oy vey phrase: The night of the party, he paced his bedroom floor.

left to write: until I’m finished. I just don’t know where this is going yet.

commentary: I don’t expect to write one of these every day. Mostly because I don’t expect to write every day, and I don’t want my blog / my website to become nothing but a long list of metrics that no one else but me is interested in.

I’m just happy to be writing again. Two years of piddling and nothing is entirely too long! I woke up yesterday morning, and it was like the dam that started in my head in mid-2009 had been broken wide open. I couldn’t wait to pick up my pen and get going.

It’s wonderful to get the words, any words, flowing and down on paper again. I’m never quite me when I’m not able to write. I missing my writing group last night after telling them, yes, that would be my first night back after a short absence. I warned a couple of members early in the day that I was writing and didn’t want to stop until I had to. Thankfully, they’re an understanding bunch.

At the time I’m writing this, I already have 4224 words for today (this post wraps up my yesterday). But I’m not finished, so I continue on!

family accents

[repost from Multiply blog from Nov ’05]

family accents
Nov 25, ’05 5:02 PM

Last night, I was heavy with the ink in reworking a crucial chapter in “Book Three” (still no clue what to call it – maybe one day it’ll tell me!). Yes, I’m writing this one out-of-sequence, as well; I learned my lesson with Midnight – I’ll never push myself to write “chronologically” again! When I finished, I handed Preston the pages to read, which he hates because he never knows what’s going to happen or what’s going to be said next, especially since that one crucial chapter in “Book Two” … He hates this particular chapter just as much, if not more, as the one in “Book Two”. (Honestly, I have to read both chapters with Kleenex in hand – and I wrote them!)

But he made some interesting comments that have my mind racing – I didn’t sleep much last night because my mind wouldn’t shut off (again; this is becoming more and more “normal” for me).

Anyway. He said something about one thing he liked about my books so far is how I have the Family organized, that the Family is very structured. He said that the organization of the Family has a White Wolf-ish city structure, but at the same time, the everyday terms and customs have a very “old Appalachian family” feel to them.

Yet another thing I did subconsciously, I think. I bleed words, you see, so I do things sometimes and don’t realize I’ve done them until someone reads my stories and points those things out to me. I’ve had a lot of “Oh, I see!” moments while rereading Midnight lately …

While I was putting “Book Two” together, I created the Harlan Vampire FAQ to help keep myself straight on terminology, abilities, structure, etc – the further I got along, I realized that the FAQ would be useful for readers of the series, so I posted it up on my website. I knew that the Family had to “be” a certain way. No group, no matter how large or small, thrives without a given structural ladder. A strong, long-lived Pagan-vampire Family requires clear-cut hierarchy and hard-and-fast rules. I guess I just have Anethdraeg [An-eth-dray-ehgg] worked out in my head more than I ever realized I did. (And perhaps it’s time to update that FAQ!)

Too, the bits about “old Appalachian family” … I guess it stands to reason since I grew up in Appalachia that my characters’ lives would be colored by that. Appalachian families tend to look after one another and are (usually) close-knit. (I say “usually” here because my own is anything but – but that’s an entry for my personal journal at another time! – and if you read there, you already know how it is, anyway.)

As well, Appalachian people have words and phrases that others don’t – and these vary from region to region, adding complication. I’ve done my best to weed out any “nobody from here would ever understand that” words and phrases, with the exception of one or two characters (Lynn, for example, from the prologue of Midnight; he speaks exactly like someone from my hometown would.) Preston has been a great help with this sort of thing. “Honey, I don’t think you want/need to say this here,” he’ll tell me. “Your characters sound like they’re from Harlan again.” (Which brings up a whole other issue – people in different parts of Harlan County have their own sayings, customs, and accents! Yes, even the accents are different!)

So, where am I going with any of this? I’m not quite sure right now. Just thinking out loud mostly!

2010 writing metrics

Every year for the last five or six years, I’ve set myself a writing goal of 150 thousand words. More than once, I’ve gotten twice this many words. This year, though, by the middle of May I worried whether I was going to get any words at all. On May 30, I wrote 768 words. It all, as ‘they’ say, went from there. On October 19, I wrote the 768 words that got me to 150,052 – 52 words over goal. I’m currently at 3822 words over goal. We’ll see where it goes from here.

now is not a good time

Now isn’t the time for a metaphysics lesson, Michael. Sure, you and Sami are confined inside your car, probably for another good twenty minutes. But that doesn’t mean she wants or needs a lecture. Besides, this isn’t the place in the story for this. We all can learn how energy transfers between two people and how like energy attracts like energy further along in the narrative. If we need to.

“But this is basic metaphysics!”

Yes, I understand this and it’s also one of the basic laws of energy. But the reader isn’t interested in that right now. The reader is interested in how you and Sami are interacting in this confined space.

“Our energy is interacting all over the place, and she hasn’t even noticed!”

Have you forgotten, Michael, that she’s exhausted, confused, and hungover? That and after your little adventure last night, you applied your special mojo-gumbo and made her forget everything that happened between the two of you. No lectures. No energy transferences. And no pantomime! Sami can’t handle them right now.

I really would like to be furthering this scene instead of discussing it with you.

“But–”

“Michael, stfu.”

“You know I’m not good at that.”

“Do you see this delete key?”

Yeah, you quieten down when I remind you that you’re a figment of my imagination and currently made of nothing more than ink, fiber, ones, and zeros. And my dreams.

“But the metaphysical implications of her touching my hand like that–”

“Michael?”

“Yes, ma’am?”

“Get the fuck out and walk.”