Hello, World!


Way back in college, when I thought I was going to be a computer programmer, I wrote a program to make the computer type back to me, “Hello, World!”  (Okay, it probably typed, “HELLO WORLD”, given its typographic limitations…)  I slaved over that program, and the high when I actually got it to type back to me was so great that those two silly words still make me feel bright and cheerful and upbeat. 

Plus, “Hello, World!” seems like a great way to ring in the new year.  And to ring in a new role for me at Magical Words.

For the past two years, I’ve published here once a month.  I have loved our conversations, and I’ve learned many things from all of you.  Therefore, I am *thrilled* to announce that I’ll be typing to you more frequently — from here on out, you’ll be hearing from me on approximately three Fridays each month. 

So, a brief recap, in case my pixels are new to you:  My first fantasy novel, THE GLASSWRIGHTS’ APPRENTICE, was published in 2000.  Since then, I’ve published a total of six traditional fantasy novels, seven paranormal chicklit (er, “light paranormal” or “light women’s fiction” or whatever today’s term of art is…), and two category romance novels.  Also, as Morgan Keyes, I’ve published DARKBEAST, a traditional fantasy for middle grade readers.

All but one of those books were published by traditional New York publishers (Roc, Red Dress Ink, Mira, Harlequin, and Simon & Schuster).  I have also self-published one novella.  I expect to see both traditionally-published and self-published novels hit the “shelves” this year.

I’ve been a full-time writer for 5.5 years.  Prior to that I spent 11 years as a librarian in law firms (doing reference and managing staff), and before that I spent 7 years an associate in a large law firm (practicing trademark and copyright law).

Whew!  So, now you know where I’m coming from as I type to you.

And if you *do* know me already, you know that I believe strongly in treating my writing career as a professional one, applying many (most?  all?) of the same business techniques I used while working in law firms.  For example, I believe in creating strategic plans, including defining goals, strategies, and actions.  I’ve recommended that authors create a personal mission statement.  I’ve also posted about how I use calendars to juggle all of my personal and professional obligations.  (Each of those links will take you to my Magical Words post on the topic.)

I am sure that all of you have your strategic plans in place for 2013.  (You do, don’t you?  Please, say yes.  Really!  Okay, if plans don’t work for you, I guess I understand, but…)  Therefore, I won’t rehash old posts.  Instead, I’ll give you a glimpse of where we’re going for the next few weeks:  Spreadsheets.

Aw, don’t run away from your monitor, screaming like that.  Starting next Friday, I’ll fill you in on the handful of spreadsheets I absolutely cannot live without.  I’ll give you some tax tips, some organizing tips, and some sanity-preserving tips.  I have ideas for lots of other things that I want to write about, but I am always happy to hear from you, with recommendations for topics, questions about any aspect of my career, etc.  Sound OK?


25 comments to Hello, World!

  • sagablessed

    “Spreadsheets?” Does your mother know you use that language, young lady? 😀
    TBH (To Be Honest) I have no idea how to use one of the cursed things.
    Suggestions? How does age-bracket (y/a, mature/ middle school) affect voice, or does it? Have you found the age bracket you write for affects your literary style, and if so, how?
    When are you going on book-signing tour?
    I see a lot subtle and not so subtle social commentary in your writing (not a bad thing, either). Is that on purpose, or does the work just come out that way?
    Agents: how does one find a good one?

  • Vyton

    Mindy,spreadsheets sound interesting. I use one to track characters (where they are, what they are doing) through the calendar of the story. I expect the tips to be helpful, particularly the sanity-preserving one. Although a sanity-retrieval tip might be more useful here. That’s here in my case, not here as in Magical Words family case.

  • Sagablessed – Thanks for the ideas! Not surprisingly, I have a lot to say about all those topics 🙂 (Okay, who am I fooling? I have a lot to say about a lot of things!) And I’ll keep in mind, when I write about spreadsheets, that some people have no clue what they are and how to use them!)

    Vyton – Perhaps I mis-typed in my earlier post. You see, I haven’t been sane in a long time. I just pretend to be sane in the real world 🙂 I know other authors who use spreadsheets to track characters and plot; I’ve never done that. (I use other tools for those functions (and perhaps that’s another post for me to write!))

  • I spreadsheets on my bed. badum-tss! 😉

    I used to know how to set up spreadsheets, but lost the knack. Never used ’em for writing though. They can definitely make certain jobs easier. Made mine so easy once my position was phased out…

    It’ll be cool to see what you’ve done with ’em. I’ve been considering getting Scrivener, but spreadsheets might be a good alternative.

  • I just spent the last few hours trying to organize this very busy semester’s class schedule, office hours, assignment due dates, and assorted meetings so I can plan a writing schedule. I’m determined not to let four months slip by without quality and quantity writing time. I *hope* (no–I know) scheduling time to write when I’m not buried in planning, grading, reviewing, etc. will keep me on target.

    And I have to say that in recent years I’ve become a big fan of spreadsheets, so I’m excited to see what you have for us!

  • Yay spreadsheets! I’d love to read what you have to say about it, Mindy. I’ve started some before, but they always wind up abandoned.

    And welcome to being a regular! 😀

  • I do spreadsheets in my real-world Dayjob… and I’m actually very, very good at them. (Writing is more fun and more fulfilling, but spreadsheets pays a tab better for me at this point in my life.) Anyway, I enjoy tinkering with them, so I promise I won’t run away screaming. 🙂

  • Gypsyharper

    I kind of love spreadsheets – I use them some at work, and I’ve just finished re-tweaking one for my word count goals in 2013 (still not sure that’s the best way to keep track of my writing, but I’m trying it out). Definitely excited to hear what you have to say about them!

  • Mindy, I am so glad you were willing to come to MW as a full-timer. Yay!!!

    Spreadsheets. I am just not that organized. (hides face) Should be. I can’t wait to see such a critter that a writer has created for her schedule.

  • You had me at spreadsheets 🙂

  • Cindy

    Yeah! Go Mandy! I love spread sheets and can’t wait.

  • Ken

    Hi there Mindy, this is good news. I’ve enjoyed your previous posts and I’m looking forward to seeing what you’ve got in store. Personally I’m something of a spreadsheet Noob. I use them to keep track of days, times I’ve written, etc. Simple rows and colums with *Everything* formatted as plain text.

  • Daniel – I’m wincing at your pun. Your post has actually made me very nervous, because I intend to post about ways to use spreadsheets on the *business* end of things, not the creative end. I’ll disappoint people who are looking for alternatives to Scrivener! (BTW, I use Scrivener, and I love it, but I *really* need to take some time to study how to “Compile” well; I do way too much post-processing…)

    SiSi – The spreadsheets I’m thinking of should mesh nicely with the hard work you’ve done on scheduling. (And yes, scheduling is important enough to be the *first* organizational task for any of my new projects.)

    Laura – Thanks for the welcome! Perhaps my most important post will be on the Spreadsheet That Shall Not Be Named (the one I invested ages into building, then abandoned because it was too hard to maintain…)

    Stephen – My husband used spreadsheets in his job; I still turn to him for advice all the time. I am by *no* means a power users; but I’m decent as making a sheet fit my modest needs 🙂

    Gypsyharper – I look forward to hearing more about your word count goal ‘sheet — that’s along the lines of the ones I’ll be talking about!

    Faith Hunter – Thanks for trusting me to *be* a full-timer! I totally understand the “I’m not that organized” reaction. The only thing I can say is, I’m less stressed with the ones I maintain (and I jettisoned the one that was too difficult for the benefit I received.) By keeping the sheets I do, I avoid a lot of stress – and that’s what I’m all about 🙂

    Jen – You made me laugh! You made me a little afraid, too, but I laughed first 🙂

    Cindy – Thanks for the enthusiasm!

    Ken – Thanks for the knd words! Perhaps you’ll choose to move one or two columns to active calculation, after we finish our little discussion. 🙂

  • Vyton

    It’s easy to get all caught up in spreadsheets to the point where you spend 20 minutes doing it in Excel when you could have done the same thing in 5 minutes with paper and pencil.

  • Vyton – Absolutely! I find that my main “organizational goal” is to develop/create/find organizational strategies that take *less* time than what I was doing before. Sometimes, though, the tools are just too attractive, and I play for longer than I should…

  • “Hello. My name is Lyn and I am a spreadsheet addict.”

    There. I said it. I have spreadsheets at work that have some functions that are 5 lines long. I have spreadsheets that can look for specific data, count it, add it, multiply it, average it… you name it. At work I’m considered a bit of a superuser.

    At home, even in this age of online banking, I keep track of my monthly budget using a spreadsheet. I track word counts which autocalculate into a monthly summary and generates a pretty little graph to show progress toward expected word count. My submission tracker turns cells different colors based on expected turn times.

    “My name is Lyn. I am an addict.”

  • Lyn – Wow! I’m going to give up on writing about spreadsheets and have you do it instead ::wry grin:: (Actually, you still might find my posts useful when you learn *what* I use them for. Then you can create your PhD level ‘sheets, instead of my kindergarten ones 🙂 )

  • Just wanted to tell you that we’re delighted to have you full time around here! 😀

  • deborahblake

    More Mindy, YAY!

    Are you going to have a spreadsheet example we can all download so we don’t have to make it up ourselves, she asked hopefully?

    I use a spreadsheet to organize my chapters/characters and such. (Who is in which scene, which page the chapter starts on, main purpose of the scenes). In theory Scrivener would make that easier, but I haven’t been able to master it yet.

  • Misty – thanks for your kind words! I hope I can live up to the fine quality of this community!

    Deb – I’m not sure about downloads yet – I don’t know what the MW site is capable of, and I’m not sure how easy it will be to create sheets that aren’t filled with my personal data. We’ll see, though!

  • So great to have you here, Mindy. And if you can make a post about spreadsheets interesting, as I’m sure you can, I will look forward to reading it!

  • Spreadsheets on the business end will be useful too, as my wife and I will be starting a little side business soon and organization and tracking will be a must. 🙂

  • David – Thanks for the vote of confidence!

    Daniel – That actually eases my mind somewhat! (And I look forward to opening up the discussion to cover other, perhaps not-quite-business-but-other-aspects-of-process spreadsheets!)

  • Tom G

    Oooh, spreadsheets. I feel all tingly inside now. 😉

  • Tom – I don’t know if I should be pleased or very, very afraid 🙂