Tag Archives: author

Novel Reference Journal

Neo and Notebook

Every author has their own process of writing a book. Mine has developed over the past six or seven years to use National Novel Writing Month to jump start a single long term project each year. I use the energy of my fellow wrimos to push myself to writing, but there is more to the process than simply showing up for write-ins during the month of November. I also set aside the month of October to plan my novel and December to do the first rough editing of it.

One of the first things that I create for a new novel project are an outline, character sheets, location and object descriptions. I start by brainstorming ideas in a composition book, writing these down by hand with my fountain pens in ink colors that suit my mood. I condense these ideas into plot points in another section of the notebook until I have a rough story line.

At this point, I move the plot points into my computer, using each bullet point as a scene file in my Scrivener program. I don’t name chapters or try to lock them into position, I’ll wait and finalize that once the rough draft is completed. My file names are simple descriptions of what happens in the scene with a little more detail written into the “index card” portion of the Scrivener file. In the research section of Scrivener, I set up my reference files. This is not the final step in my process, although I realize that for many people this is the point where they would start drafting because they write their stories in Scrivener via a laptop.

I find that I do not enjoy writing my novel draft in Scrivener, there is too much temptation in the internet or other distractions if I am in front of a computer. Instead I like to draft with a digital typewriter, a machine known as an Alphasmart Neo. The Neo has several advantages in the drafting process. First, it has zero internet connection and it keeps me from distraction when I write. The machine is difficult to edit on so it keeps me moving forward in the writing process. I tend to write around 50% more words when I use the Neo as apposed to writing a draft on my desktop. Finally, the Neo has the advantage of not needing a power plug. I can write anywhere on a couple of AA batteries for 700 hours. However, without a laptop to view Scrivener, I also have no access to my reference notes when I’m on the go. This is especially critical when I’m out at write-ins for Nanowrimo in November.

Filofax Writing Journal with NeoMy solution is to create a second reference book, but instead of keeping it digital, I write it on paper. This way my information is always available to work along side my Neo and I don’t need to rely on finding a power plug or to rely on my smartphone. In years past, I’ve used a personal sized Filofax to organize my notes. The personal size was small enough to tuck into my writing kit and the rings allowed me to move the papers into a different order. However, after a year or two of this system, I began to discover that the smaller page size was too small for all the notes that I like to bring. It forced me to write everything smaller or to print my information by cut and paste onto pre-punched paper that was not suitable for the fountain pens that I enjoy writing with. I longed to move up to an A5 size Filofax, but the binders are rather expensive.

This year, I was browsing the A5 sized Filofaxes, intending on picking one up for my yearly reference journal, when I happened upon the Staples ARC system in Junior size. Junior is the same size as A5. I could choose covers of polycloth (plastic) or of leather. The pre-punched paper came in lined notes, quads, or projects. A “notebook” purchase with a polycloth binder came with .5” rings and 60 sheets of notepaper. It was the right size and more than enough pages to create a workable reference journal for my novel project, with room to expand if need be. The price was a mere $14. I decided that it was time to try something other than a Filofax.

I purchased the following for my 2014 Nanowrimo Journal:

    A black and white polycloth cover
    .5” black rings
    Black A5 plastic dividers with stickers
    One plastic ruler
    A pair of large rubber bands designed to keep the journal closed

When I brought the journal home, I organized it with the black section dividers and labeled each section with the following:


ARC Journal - Outline IndexAt the front I placed a 2014 Nanowrimo Sticker to decorate the journal a little. I labeled the project, my name and the year. It will make this easier to look over years later when it is in storage. My Outline section has two parts. The front of the section has a checklist of all the scenes of my novel. Behind this index, I write the scenes again, but I also put in a paragraph description of what the scene is about, basically the information that is in my Scrivener “index card”. My ruler stays in the scene summaries at the point where I’m writing the story to make that section easier to find.

At the end of each writing session, I will upload the text from the Alphasmart into Scrivener on my desktop. I check off each completed scene in the journal index so that I know it is done when I’m away from my computer. No more accidentally writing the same scene twice, I can see my progress in my work, and I gain the satisfaction of writing that check mark. It is a little reward for me.

This year, I’m continuing work on a novel I started back in 2011. Several of the scenes for the story are already completed. They are in a different Scrivener project file so I don’t count them toward this year’s word count, yet I want to see them in my outline so I get a good idea of where all the scenes fit in the story. They are incorporated in my checklist and summaries, but I have pre-checked them in the index and wrote a note in red ink in the summaries to let myself know that these scenes are already finished. Again, I don’t want to accidentally write scenes that I do not need to.

ARC Journal - Outline SummariesThe other sections of my notebook contain my character sheets, location descriptions, object descriptions and a section for notes. Mainly the note section holds blank pre-punched note paper for the ARC Journal so that I can add new pages on the fly.

One of the surprises I had with the ARC Journal is that the paper is of a heavy grade that is very friendly to my favorite fine nib Platinum Plaisir fountain pen. The Coleto Gel Pen that I use for color coding also works well with the paper. I like the way the note paper is printed. I feel it gives my journal a more professional look. The final extra I purchased for the journal were the rubber bands. I use one to keep my ARC Journal closed and it works flawlessly. The ARC tucks into my writing kit smoothly, never opens or mangles the pages, and the polycloth seems to slide into my bag far easier than the composition notebooks or Filofaxes I’ve used in the past.

I write with a lapboard under my Alphasmart Neo and I’ve discovered that the pull out mouse board that comes with it makes a perfect ledge to hold my ARC Journal. It keeps it off the tabletop at coffeehouses so my notebook doesn’t get smudges or wet if a coffee drink happens to spill nearby. I’ve been very pleased with this year’s journal during my writing adventures.

What sort of notebook do you use? Let me know in the comments.

Author Interview: Louise White

I asked Louise how she might describe herself and she replied: I watch and learn things from everyday life and swirl them around in my head. I think that most authors feel this way about writing and life in general. Please welcome Louise White to No Wasted Ink.

Author Louise WhiteHello Wendy, my name is Louise White, I was born and raised on the west coast of Scotland where it’s fairly cold for most of the year but also very beautiful. I am part of a large, very close family. Rather dysfunctional at times, it just makes for a more interesting life. I’ve learned a lot of skills through the years, in particular during my nursing years and whilst working as a police constable. I put a great deal of what I’ve learned into my writing.

When and why did you begin writing?

When I reduced my regular working hours in 2011, I had a little extra time on my hands so I started writing The Calling without thinking too much about it. Before that, my writing activities consisted mainly of shopping lists, compiling reports, record keeping and suchlike.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

That’s a difficult one. I should probably say, when I held my first book in my hand but that’s not really true. I only published my first book in November last year, and maybe it’s not sunk in yet, but I’ve never defined myself by any of the skills that I’ve gained. I have friends and neighbours who refer to me as ‘The nurse’ or ‘The police officer’. Lately, I suppose some will refer to me as, ‘The fantasy writer’.

Can you share a little about your current book with us?

The ‘Gateway’ series is about a girl who is drawn into a system which coexists with Earth, unbeknown to most humans. From other realms, there are demons/ Otherworlders, the worst of which traffic in rather gullible or greedy humans. After her first horrific encounter with a Gateway to another realm, Carolyn is changed and becomes the mythical ‘destroyer’. The magically gifted organisation of the Protectorate recruit her, and together they police the gateways more effectively than before.

In opposition to the Protectorate, the government based Agency seeks to exploit the Gateways’ existence-often using methods on a par with the demons.
In Chasing the Demon, Carolyn and her demon friend Mario are stranded on another realm behind a locked gateway. Carolyn’s team are struggling to retrieve their destroyer.

The book is written from several characters POV and delves more deeply into the workings of the realms and the lives of the characters which The Calling has introduced. There are challenges and surprises to be had from the outset and along the way. There’s lots of action and adventure with the tension mounting throughout the story as the magical journey through the realms continues.

What inspired you to write this book?

I’ve never really grown up. As a child I was always in trouble for ‘daydreaming’. As an adult, the only difference is that I can hide it better. I look at situations before me and ‘what if?’ them. When I found the time to start writing, I hadn’t even thought about writing fantasy, I had a vague notion of something with a supernatural twist, but my imagination got away from me and the ‘Gateway’ series is the result.

Do you have a specific writing style?

For the ‘Gateway’ series I write in the third person from a specific character’s POV. That seems to work best for me. At first it was strange, but now I love the challenge of getting into the heads of ‘evil’ characters like the Agency’s Levy, and High mage, Sean, who is a mysterious and enigmatic magic user.

How did you come up with the title of this book?

Carolyn was ‘Called’ to service through the gateways, so it was the natural choice for the first book. Chasing the Demon is appropriate for book 2 in a number of ways, not least for the fact that Carolyn is in fact other than human, and the team is chasing through the realms to get her back.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

No. I want readers to simply enjoy the escapism that the story should give them. Should they choose to take anything further from it, then I’ll be very happy with that also. I am amazed already at how the difference in readers’ age and interests reflects on what they take out of The Calling.

Are experiences in this book based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

Of course! Each character consists of traits and characteristics that I’ve observed, witnessed or experienced and filed for use.

What authors have most influenced your life? What about them do you find inspiring?

For my school Highers, we covered William Golding’s ‘Lord of the Flies’, and it both horrified and inspired, which to me is the best possible combination for reading material. I’m also very partial to all sorts of poetry, favourites being The Lady of Shalott and The Charge of the Light Brigade by Alfred, Lord Tennyson, The Highwayman by Alfred Noye and Ayrshire’s own Robert Burns’ Tam o’ Shanter.
The inspiration is to be found in the power of beautifully strung-together words. I like the emotional impact of words and phrases which may evoke joy, melancholy, awe, or they may highlight virtues of strength, courage and wisdom.

Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?

Clarissa Yeo came to my attention as a very capable cover designer, I liked her bold exciting style.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

For brand new writers- Like me a few months ago! – I would probably stress that they shouldn’t put too much pressure on themselves. Goals are nice to have, but it’s best to keep them flexible and try to just to have fun with writing. Sometimes it is great just to share your stories verbally with anyone who will listen.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

I feel honoured when a reader simply adds me to their ‘to read’ list, never mind how it is their reviews that continue to inspire me to work ever harder in the creation of my books. With busy lives and valuable time, my heartfelt thanks go to every reader who took a chance on a new author and purchased and/ or reviewed my book.

Chasing the Demon Book CoverLouise G. White
Ayrshire, Scotland


Cover Artist: Clarissa Yeo
Publisher: Authorhouse UK


No Wasted Ink Writer’s Links

writers-linksHere we are, back to another Monday and time for the No Wasted Ink writer’s links! This week I have a nice mix of general writing tips, a little historical research articles, and a new typing machine that is generating interest called the Hemingwrite. I may be purchasing one of those, although I still love my Alphasmart Neo.


Billy Wilder’s Tips for Writers

The Snowflake Method for Outlining a Novel

Tartans and Plaids

If you want to learn to write… watch TV

Strengthening Weak Areas in Your Writing

One Writer’s Fear-Busting Journey to $1,500 a Month in Blogging Gigs

Set Your Thoughts Free – Hemingwrite

11 Things You Don’t Know About Bargain Ebook Buyers


Writing Spaces: Kitchen Home Office

Kitchen Home Office

This writing space is from “Desk Set” of This Old House Magazine, issue April 2006

When you are tending to children, there is nothing like a writing space off the kitchen. It is at the center of the house where everything is happening. That makes the kitchen a great place to center your small TV, the laptop and having a handy charging station for your cel phone. It is a place where you can monitor your children’s homework while you make sure the recipes are getting done. Once the kids are tucked into bed, it is also a nice place to find some quiet time to work on your latest novel.

I love the built-in nature of this desk and cabinet system. Everything is in one place where you need it. About the only thing that I don’t like is the tall chair. It doesn’t look comfortable and is the wrong height for writing. Otherwise, I feel that there is much to inspire us when creating our own writing spaces.

Article by Wendy Van Camp – Nanowrimo: A Writer’s Workshop

My article, Nanowrimo: A Writer’s Workshop, has published on Lit Central OC Magazine today. This is a magazine that features writers from the Orange Country area of California. The editor is DeAnna Cameron, the founder of the OC Writers. The magazine features articles about the process of writing, book reviews, and author spotlights.

Alphasmart Neo and Samsonite Shuttle Case
Alphasmart Neo

National Novel Writing Month starts Nov. 1 every year. People from all over the world gather together in coffeehouses, libraries, and other public locations to write 50,000 of the rough draft of a novel in 30 days. It is a time of writing madness. You set aside the regular activities of your life and focus on getting words on the page.

Read More: Lit Central OC Magazine