Tag Archive for call of the wild

Get Rolling with Evernote for Writing

After some questions from other writers, I thought I’d expand on my “Why I Love Evernote” post to discuss how I actually use it to help with my writing projects.

The key to remember here is your mileage may vary. There may be things about Evernote I love that don’t work for you, and you may discover things I wasn’t aware of or had no use for. Dive in, play with it, and make it work for you.

Also, keep it simple. “Ubiquitous capture” and the lack of traditional computer metaphors like files and folders can be daunting at first, but once you get a handle on how Evernote handles notebooks, notes, tagging, and searching, things get pretty easy.

So let’s break it down and use my The Pack series and notes as an example.

1) Create a Notebook

It may help at first to think of notebook as folders, but the metaphor here is imagine you just purchased a shiny new paper notebook you’re going to write in and stuff full of pictures, newspaper clippings related to your project. It’s both notebook and scrapbook, in a sense.

An Evernote notebook, then is your first order of sorting. In the future you can share it with an editor or a collaborator, but in the meantime it’s the place you’ll dump everything related to that project. The default notebook is enough for some folks, but I just use that one for day-to-day things. I have a Recipes notebook, a Karate notebook, a notebook for the day job, and one for every major project I’m working on.

Everything from here on will have been created within my “The Pack” notebook. I could feasibly create one for every novel, but it’s a lot handier (to me) to group everything related to the series under one notebook.

2) Create Notes

Click “create note” and you’re off and running. The beauty of notes is they can include several types of content. Text is most common, of course, but I can also drag in photos and other media. Tables, lists, and checklists are available when needed, and with the indents and lists, you can build a traditional outline.

If you’re the type who likes voice notes, Evernote can handle this, too. Dictate into the Evernote app on your phone, for example, and it will be available everywhere you have Evernote installed or via the Evernote web app. Want to make dictated notes searchable, or transcribe to text? Check out Quicktate or Voice2Note. I don’t use these, but as I said, YMMV.

Here are the types of notes I use most often:

Character Dates and Timeline

This note is simply a master list of important dates and a timeline of events. The novels Winter Kill and Lie with the Dead occur about six months apart, but the events in the first Pack short “Bravo Four” take place decades earlier during the Vietnam War. Events from the Call of the Wild comic series have an impact in the prose series. There are references to unpublished (for now) events in each story, and of course there is the ages of characters to consider. To keep it all straight, I’ve got each major character’s birth date, their death date where applicable, and at least approximate dates of when each story took place and when unpublished events occurred.

Character Notes

This is where I get more detailed. Winter Kill has a lot of characters, including the Tyler family, at least two sets of villains, and a handful of supporting characters. There are two ways one might approach it: one note per character, like an old-school index card; or one note per group of characters.

I tend toward the latter because I don’t mind if the notes get a bit lengthy. So, I have a note for all of the core members of the Tyler family. I have a note for all of the skinheads in Winter Kill. I have a note for Angie Wallace, a major character unrelated to the Tylers or the villains. Each character’s physical descriptions, their personality, and so on are all included. It’s simply broken down so the character’s name is in bold, and then the paragraphs or one-liners follow.

These notes help keep details straight. For example, if a character carries a certain weapon, it goes in the note so the weapon doesn’t magically change in another book. If a character receives a wound, I make sure I know where the scar is. I might even paste in descriptive passages from each work to be sure it’s always consistent.

In short, it’s helpful for continuity, and it saves me the time of having to flip through published works to verify details later.

Book Notes or Outlines

I have at least one note for each novel in the series, including Book 3. They’re fairly organic, and change as I massage the plots. They might start with a simple breakdown of Act I, Act II, and Act III, or even just a line or two about what I want to accomplish or an overall theme. Some are just brainstorming, and at least one includes a discarded version of a story which I might pick apart for later use anyway.

Over time, they get more detailed. I might have a beat sheet breaking down the book event by event, or even chapter by chapter. Pretty soon, they’re more or less an outline of the book I can use to write from, and they also become useful to refer back to when working on other projects in the series.

Short Story Notes

I have one note that has the synopsis for each of the short stories I’ll be writing for the series over the next few months. I then flesh them out with a separate note to figure out how the stories will play out.

For example, there’s a “Bravo Four” note I used to write from. It’s an outline, and it’s a reference for the future. If The Pack were a comic series, I might even have an issue-by-issue breakdown, a note for each story arc.

Research Notes

These are most often web clippings, but some may be simply photos or other notes. Because The Pack is a werewolf series, I clipped the article “Why everything you know about wolf packs is wrong” in case it might be useful in the future. This way it’s available in searches and browsing rather than lost in a pile of bookmarks or other links. I also have some notes about places and events from the Vietnam War for “Bravo Four”, and I have some other history notes for future short stories.

Publishing/Business Notes

Everything related to publishing gets a note. I have a note with key reviews for Winter Kill. I have a note listing the ISBN numbers and publication dates of each work, and any relevant Amazon or Barnes & Noble links. They’re small things, maybe only needed once in a blue moon, but they’re handy to keep around.

I also have a note for the editing process of Lie with the Dead. I simply dumped the editor’s notes into a note for quick reference. Once, while sitting in a doctor’s waiting room, I thought of a way to address one of his notes. I fired up Evernote on my phone and jotted those thoughts in with that comment so I could address it later and not sweat forgetting it before I got to a computer.

I also dumped everything from a weekend retreat planning meeting I had with my publisher into a note. Notes we took, things we discussed, and even photos of the whiteboard we used are all still available to me for reference.

Miscellaneous Notes

Everything else, basically. I do all my brainstorming on paper, so I might transfer those notes into a separate note for later noodling. Other times, the brainstorming notes go into existing notes. There’s no hard-and-fast rule here, because tagging and searching makes where I record the notes irrelevant.

3) Tying Notes Together

There are two ways to do this: tagging and linking.

You’re probably already familiar with the idea of tagging. They’re a simple way to “group” notes without using folders. Character names are an important tag, for example, as are book titles. This way, if I look for anything tagged “winter kill,” I’ll get everything that may be related to that book.

Linking is also handy, and works just like a hyperlink on a website, and in effect can turn your notebook into a wiki. In a plot note, I might include a link from a character’s name to the note containing their description. Or I can link from a plot or character note to one of the research notes. This keeps me from having to reproduce information, or from bogging down notes with extraneous information.

4) Sorting Searching

This is the point people sweat keeping everything organized. Forget about it, because the search feature makes all of that irrelevant. It’s very powerful, and will search tags, text within notes, and text within attachments (pictures, and even PDFs if you’re a pro user).

You simply don’t need to sort things into folders because the search will find it for you. Accidentally drop a note into the wrong notebook? No problem, you can restrict searches to within a notebook or open it up to your entire account.

Notes are typically listed by the date they were last modified. This way, the thing you’re working on most at the moment is typically at the top of the stack. It can also sort notes by location if that’s what you’re into by tagging notes with GPS information and showing you a map.

Are you the visual type? Take a look at Mohiomap, an app which allows you to surf your notes visually as a mind map based on your tags. This is another feature that’s not for me, but if you’re a big fan of mind mapping, check it out.

Once you get used to searching over sorting, it’s very liberating. You’re not wasting time organizing things, archiving things, or otherwise performing housekeeping on a fat stack of files. Throw your data in a note and forget about it.

The Evernote app also allows you the flexibility of creating shortcuts to your most-used notebooks and notes. One click gets you to a current project rather than having to go through a list of notebooks every time.

5) The Extras

Ubiquitous Access

Wherever I am, whatever device I have with me, if I can get to the Internet I can get to my notes. If I’m going to travel somewhere coverage might be sketchy (a very real possibility for me now that US Cellular has carved up and sold off entire service areas), I can tag certain notebooks as Offline notebooks so I can keep current notes with me at all times.

A Second Screen

I’m not a fan of flipping back and forth between windows, and it’s not always helpful to shrink windows to keep them side by side on a screen. Thus it’s not unusual for me to have a document in progress open on screen, and the notes related to that project open on the iPad or smartphone next to me. It’s a small thing, but I like it.

Reminders and To-Dos

I personally prefer Todoist and Google Calendar for these, but Evernote does have these features built in. You can set a reminder to nag you about a meeting or a deadline. You can create checklists of to-dos in a note, and tie them to reminders. It’s all very flexible, I just find it unwieldy compared to Todoist.

Just Do It!

There’s really no right or wrong way to this, and it’s all very adaptable to your style and personality. Get in there and dig around, start creating notes. If you decide you want to handle notes and notebooks differently, you can drag notes to different notebooks.

It’s all very organic, and all a lot more user-friendly than it appears at first glance. Understanding comes quickly. Learn by doing, and don’t be afraid because you’re not going to lose anything.

If you’re ready to get started, please, use my referral link to set up your Evernote account. I’d appreciate it!

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

That Was Then

I saw this old pic in my Flickr stream and it made me think about time wasted.

My Gadget Bag

I carried all that crap to work

I took this for some tech blog or other which had asked “What’s in your gadget bag?” At the time I worked as the sysadmin for a small, family-owned dial-up ISP and had throw myself into IT. Writing wasn’t paying off, I had young children to feed, and I kept worrying I was wasting my time chasing a pipe dream.

This was about the time I had twelve different short stories and novellas lined up for publication, yet only three of them came to fruition. Not a one of those three paid a penny. This was a year after an editor told me he wanted my book for his mass market line and I never heard from him again. Yep, it’s a tough biz, and I flat out couldn’t afford to treat it as anything more than a hobby.

I know better now.

I was good at IT. Hell, I still am. I thought throwing myself into servers and networks would be a much better career plan. I worked at the ISP, I worked on a few computers on the side, and I even wrote a few technical articles and had them published. I read a lot to expand my skills and build up my resumé, and I did the social networking thing to make contacts in the industry.

Pretty soon I realized it was no easier in IT. Techs are a dime a dozen, employers don’t want to talk to a guy without a degree, and tech recruiters don’t know the first thing about the technology they’re recruiting for. I wrote technical articles because I was confident I could get them published, but they didn’t pay any better than the horror markets I was used to. If I wanted to make money writing tech, I would have to build my career the same as I would my horror career.

Only problem is writing those tech articles bored the shit out of me.The studying and reading also bored the shit out of me, and I hated the work. The dial-up ISP got gutted by the arrival of DSL, and tech support is a maddening, soul-sucking exercise in futility. Writing and developing software felt like an option to flex creative muscles, but in reality it too just bored me to tears.

Now which was the waste of time? I wasn’t afraid of hard work, I just misread the odds of payoff and the satisfaction I get out of one vs the other.

I wrote fiction because I loved it. I still write fiction because I love it, despite letting other facets of reality slow things down for much of 2011. I put togetherand had published—Werewolves: Call of the Wild shortly after that revelation. Now Winter Kill is doing well for itself, Lie with the Dead is in development, and the first of two short comics has been released. I had a few other projects published in the meantime, including some of the projects I assumed were dead.

Yeah, I’m still in IT, but doing it for education gives me more time to do what I love on the side. Now I have a much clearer idea of what needs to be done to go to writing full time.

And I also get to travel a lot lighter.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Monday Giveaway!

You know what? I’m in a good mood, so I’m going to give away some comics.

The next five people who purchase The Pack: Winter Kill in either the trade paperback or Kindle editions will get free, signed copies of issues 1-3 of Werewolves: Call of the Wild, the comics miniseries that has become the prequel to The Pack.

All you have to do is send proof of purchase (invoice, screenshot, etc.) and your mailing address to mike@mikeoliveri.com. I’ll get the comics mailed out by the end of the month.

Thanks and good luck! These may go quick.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

So Here's the Deal

Under my new contract with Evileye Books, I’ll be bringing you prose and comics starting with the series The Pack. Book 1, Winter Kill, will be available on the Kindle on Halloween and in trade paperback shortly thereafter. We also have a preview book called Big Bad Wolves, a 12-page prequel comic to Winter Kill, coming out soon.

The Big Bad Wolves portfolio

The Big Bad Wolves portfolio

The interior art and cover image for Big Bad Wolves is by Mike S Henderson. We’re shooting for a blended supernatural horror and crime/noir feel for the series, and his use of blacks and shadow really conveyed the tone we wanted. Cover art for Winter Kill and Chimaera is by Dirk Shearer, and he will also be providing scratchboard illustrations for the interior of Winter Kill. Both of these guys have turned in some killer work, and I think you’ll be seeing a lot more out of them in the future.

Book 2 will be a graphic novel titled Chimaera, and it will be released next year. Exact schedules and plans are being finalized, so stay tuned for more information on that front. Beyond that I’m contracted to write at least one book and one graphic novel per year for Evileye, so this should keep be busy for the foreseeable future.

Winter Kill, Chimaera, and the future releases will be stand-alone stories, but the events in each book will be related. The whole series continues with the same characters I established in the miniseries Werewolves: Call of the Wild from Moonstone Books. It’s not essential that you’ve read CotW to read Winter Kill, but if you enjoyed that miniseries I’m sure you will love where I’m taking the characters.

Damn it feels good to get this news off my chest. I’ve been sitting on it a long time, and I’ve had to keep quiet through many questions of “What’s next for you, Mike?” Thanks to everyone for their patience and support so far, and thanks as well to all of you who have already responded to the news with such excitement. This is going to be a wild ride, and I’m thrilled to have you all along!

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Buy My Shtuff

Ready for a Michael Oliveri fix? Excellent. Here’s a couple easy ways to get your fix.

Jack Haringa Must Die!
Available here and on Amazon. Features a piece of flash fiction by yours truly. Plus it benefits the Shirley Jackson Awards.

Restore From Backup
Plenty of copies still available directly from Bad Moon Books. This collaborative novella with JF Gonzalez is a blend of supernatural horror and dark sci-fi. If you like The Outer Limits, we’re confident you’ll like our novella.

The Phantom Chronicles
An anthology of short stories featuring the Ghost Who Walks, published by Moonstone Books. Mine pits The Phantom against snake cultists bent on human sacrifice. You can buy it from Amazon or, if you’ll be at Wizard World Chicago next week, you can pick it up from Moonstone at exhibitor booth 950 in the main exhibitor hall. Track me down on the show floor or at the Moonstone booth and I’ll be happy to sign it for you (as well as anything else you may have brought along).

Werewolves: Call of the Wild
If you’ll be at Wizard World next week, chances are Moonstone will have all three issues bundled cheap! As with The Phantom Chronicles, I’ll be more than happy to sign your copies.

Das Todliche Geschlecht
The book is now officially available through Amazon.de. This is the German-language edition of Deadliest of the Species.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Productivity Update

I get asked once or twice a week how things are going with my writing, and given it’s been a while since I’ve talked about things here, I thought I’d save a few emails this week. These are the most active and/or most asked about projects.

POWERLESS

I’m proofreading the existing material, which is about eight chapters long. There’s a lot of clean-up to be done, but not as many changes as I feared. About a thousand words will be excised completely, and then I’ll fill a gap back in and continue on with the rest of the book. I’m pondering a prologue as well.

The good news here is I have a publisher eager to see it. The bad news is it’s my German publisher, so my English-reading fans may have to wait a while. The middle news is I’ve got a project in the works with a US small press and, once things settle, he may be willing to take a look Powerless. That other project is still under wraps for the time being.

TO CONFRONT THE ENEMY/TO RISE FROM THE ASHES

The first draft of To Confront the Enemy is finished and one of my early readers responded with positive marks. To Rise from the Ashes is plotted but has not been started. Both are novella-length and I do have a publisher I want to send a complete package to. However, these have been back-burnered because I need to finish Top Secret Novella for the small press publisher mentioned above.

TOP SECRET NOVELLA

There’s not much I can tell you at this point, other than it needs to be finished before the Top Secret Book it is part of can be published. The publisher’s working through a few things which buys me some time (which is fortunate for my schedule), but I don’t want to keep him hanging much longer. This should have been done a long time ago.

MUY MAL

Poor, neglected Muy Mal. The sad fact is the pay projects have to be a priority, especially with at least one of those projects already under contract. No way I’ll finish by our June suspension date, but I’ll just leave it open until I can get the story of Troy and Delilah finished.

WEREWOLVES: CALL OF THE WILD

There are currently no plans to continue Call of the Wild in its current form, much as I would like to. I’ve been invited to contribute stories about the characters (including a few you haven’t met yet) in anthologies, but it’s just not feasible to continue the series. I’m feeling a lot of possibilities for the characters, though, and I have at least three more arcs in mind, so I’ve talked to someone about another possibility. Stay tuned for updates.

WOUNDED GODS

Wounded Gods is, in a sense, sold. It has a 90% chance of seeing print, though not quite in the same format originally intended. Unfortunately there’s not a lot I can tell you at this point, but there’s definite interest from a third party in seeing this sucker in print. As with Call of the Wild, stay tuned.

OTHER COMICS WORK

Another common question is “when is your next comic coming out?” Good question. I’ve got yet another project in the deep planning stages, and there’s interest in it as well. I’m glad to see a lot of people enjoyed Call of the Wild enough to keep chasing my work, but at the moment there’s not a lot to report.

OTHER PROSE WORK

As I type this, I was invited to contribute a short story to an anthology. I’m sure I’ll be taking the editor up on their invitation, but at the moment I’m exhausted and will crash out when this post is posted.

OVERDUE BOOKS

Yes, both In Laymon’s Terms and Brimstone Turnpike are very, very late. No, I don’t have any idea when they’ll actually see print.

SHORT STORY COLLECTION

It is to laugh. I’m flattered at the thought, but honestly, I’m not sure enough of my back catalog warrants a collection. I’d probably want to write all new stuff – or at least half new stuff – and I just don’t have the time to make that commitment right now. The closest to this will be the reprinting of “To Fight With Monsters” and To Travel Among Men with the aforementioned To Confront the Enemy and To Rise from the Ashes.

I think that about covers it. As always, thanks for the interest, it’s greatly appreciated it. Now I just need to get my sorry ass to work and live up to some of the expectations.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

2007: Year in Review

If someone were to ask me how this year went, my first reaction would be to call it a write-off. Then I got to thinking about it, and it actually hasn’t been so bad after all. Let’s look back, shall we?

I started the year by selling the German rights to Deadliest of the Species to publisher Otherworld Verlag. The book was pitched to retailers this month, and it will see publication early next year under the title Das Tödliche Geschlecht. I followed that up over the summer with another book sale which I’m still asked to keep under my hat.

Restore from Backup, my novella collaboration with JF Gonzalez, was released from Bad Moon Books. The hardcovers sold out on preorder, but you can still get copies of the trade paperback.

Moonstone Books published The Phantom Chronicles, a prose anthology of Phantom tales including my short story “The Servants of Set”. Moonstone is also the publisher of my comic book Werewolves: Call of the Wild.

I received word today that In Delirium II is shipping. This anthology includes a reprint of “Crazy for You” by myself and Brian Keene. This story previously appeared in Crime Spree. The book doesn’t appear to be listed on the Horror Mall yet, but I imagine it will be up for order soon.

Finally, I attended two comic cons — one large and one small — and did signings at two comic shops. I sold enough comics to pay for the trip at the small comic con, and I was well satisfied with the results of the large con and the signings. I also had fun, and probably picked up a few new fans to boot.

I’d like to have accomplished more, of course, but I don’t feel I should be complaining.

In personal news, I joined the Academy of Okinawan Karate in March and started studying Shuri-ryu, a style of karate. I climbed the ranks from white belt through yellow and to blue belt, and I’ve learned a lot of cool things. Between classes and home exercise, I’ve managed to lose 30 pounds and I feel better than I have in years. I’d have to say that’s the best accomplishment of the year. My class and workout schedule may have put a dent in my writing productivity, but I feel like my health improvements will keep me writing for years to come.

I joined an active Flickr photo group called 52 Weeks, where users post a picture a week for a year. I did fine for a while, but the last few months I’ve fallen way behind. I would like to have posted an honest week 1 and week 52 pic right now, but it’ll have to be off a little bit. You can, however, see my contributions so far right here.

Finally, I expanded my computing horizons by picking up a MacBook at work. I’m sure I’ll be talking more about it in the future (and I’m writing this post on it now), but this gets me closer to being a triple threat in desktop computing.

There are a few things I wish I’d accomplished or wish I’d done better, but hey, that’s what next year is for. Overall, I’m content to call 2007 a win.

Onward and upward.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.