Thursday, December 27, 2012

This May Be The Most Important Post You Read All Year - Redux

This was originally posted Dec7th, 2011, but I plan to post it every year as a reminder.
Hey guys, this post may be one of the most important posts you read all year.

Nope it's not a writing tip, it's a career saving tip. So read on and meet Syndee Rogers-Nuckles, not a writer per se, but a creator of wonderful images that I found though a fascinating site called Scrap Girls. Please welcome Syndee.


LA: Syndee, before we begin, tell us a bit about you.

SN: I'm a freelance graphic artist and the mother of four. I love reading, painting, drawing, going to antique stores looking for treasures and pretty much anything with a creative spin! My working experience includes working in management, designing artistic rubber stamps, teaching classes, self-publishing craft books and the list goes on. And I've been very fortunate to work with a great bunch of artists at Scrap Girls for the past 6½ years.

LA: So why did you become interested in online backup services?

SN: LA, have you ever had your heart sink? Feel the sting of tears streaming down your face as you realized all your files had disappeared?

I have.

LA: Me too!! It's a horrible, HORRIBLE FEELING!

SN: Yup, the worst. In a total panic I searched my computer looking for any sign of hope, I shook my head trying to awaken out of what had to be a nightmare.

So, does any of this sound familiar to anyone reading this, other than LA and me? Or were you one of the few lucky ones that had backups of all your files on another EHD (external hard drive) or DVD's?

Or perhaps it's just been another thing on your ‘to do’ list?

I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to backup your files, but it can be so time consuming and overwhelming. Like so many of you I am stretched to the limits of available time so after trying at least a dozen different strategies for backing up I finally hit upon something that really works for me.

Now, I use the ‘triple threat’, not just having a single backup copy but two so that you have three copies of all your important files.

For instance I have the following:

1- Original files: all my business files like documents are kept on my computers built-in hard drive. My original design files are kept on my main External Hard Drive.

2- Backup 1: I try to make copies of all my important files as I create them to a second EHD that I keep hooked up to my computer. I try to back this up at least once a week.

3- Backup 2: This is where the online backup service comes in. I LOVE this! I use Backblaze which just runs in the background whenever my computer is on saving all my files for me! My files are backed up to a secure offsite server so if something were to happen to my computer I can still get to my files from another computer!

Online Backup Services:



· Unlimited Storage

· Backs up your External Hard Drives

· Free Web Restore

· Military-Grade Encryption

· Free Customer Support

· Continuous Backup - Backblaze by default, backs up all the time so you don’t have to remember to but you can schedule backups if you wish.

· I will automatically find all your photos, music, documents, and other irreplaceable files and then compresses, encrypts and backs them up.

· Supports Intel-based Mac OSX 10.4 and newer, Windows XP, Windows Vista 32 and 64 bit, Windows 7 32 and 64 bit, Windows 8

· Access your files from any web browser anywhere

· $5.00 a month or purchase a full year for $50

· They offer a Free Trial

This service was easy to install and was backing up my files in minutes! One of the best things about this company is that it features unlimited storage. I was using Mozy before and they changed their pricing structure so much that it priced them right out of my budget. I have been so happy with this service, I totally forget it’s running on my computer!



· Unlimited Storage

· Encrypted Files

· Access to your files anywhere

· Easily Restore Files

· Backs up photos, documents, music and most user-generated content, compresses and encrypts them

· Free Customer Support

· Supports Windows 8, 7, XP, Vista, Intel based Macs with OS X 10.5 or 10.6

· $59 a year for the Home/Home Office plan

· They offer a Free Trial

I have heard good things about Carbonite. The biggest drawback is that they do not offer backups of your EHD’s, which is something I can’t live without. But if you are not using any EHD’s they are worth looking in to.



· Backs up EHD’s

· Backup any files you like

· Military-Grade Encryption

· Restore just a few files or all (MozyHome users are limited to one restore in the queue at a time)

· Backs up automatically in the background while you work

· Supports Windows 8, 7, 2000, XP (32 and 64 bit), and Vista (32 and 64 bit), as well as Mac OS X 10.6, 10.5, and 10.4

· Submit tickets or chat live with Mozy Support

· (Pricing and information is for the MozyHome Plan)

· $5.99 a month for 50 GB

· $9.99 a month for 125 GB

· add an additional 20 GB for $2 a month

I had trouble installing Mozy on my Mac when I switched over from a PC, and when I contacted customer support and followed the instructions they gave me it still did not work. It was around the same time they changed the pricing structure so I cancelled my account and signed up with Backblaze.

Keep in mind that these online backup services are not meant to be an addition storage system, if you delete the files off your computer these companies will delete those same files after 30 days.

A good plan of action might be to try out the Free Trials from these companies and get a feel for each one before deciding which one to go with. I just love the piece of mind having an online backup service gives me, I can sleep a lot easier knowing my important files are safe!

Be safe and backup!

LA: Syndee, this is great information. And after reading this article (after all, I got first lookee :) ) I decided to try Backblaze just before vacation. Little did I realize it was going to take more than 20 days to back up all my info. Did you run into this as well?
(it actually took 45 days)

SN: Yes, the initial backup can take quite some time depending on how many files you have. It actually took 2 months for all of my files to be backed up but to be honest I completely forgot about it since it just runs in the background.

LA: And I decided to do continuous backups, which slows down my DSL. So would you agree with me, to leave the computer on at night and let it back up everything then, then turn it off during high volume time for internet usage? Or is this simply a DSL issue. I have a pretty high speed connection?

SN: You know I didn't have any slow down issues at all, it really could be a myriad of different reasons that it caused your computer to slow down. I would actually check with your service provider, they might have a few tips. I didn't leave my computer on all night, it makes me nervous because there has been some theories that leaving a computer on all the time causes it to become hot and therefore can result in hard-drive failure. I just left my computer running during the day and let it take a nap at night. LOL

Thank you Syndee for your research!!

Back up your career, and have a wonderful and hopefully now, a worry free Holiday Season.

Ciao and here's to 2013!



Monday, December 24, 2012

Every Author's Goal: Getting the Words Right

One of the best editing books I own is Theodore A. Reese Cheney's GETTING THE WORDS RIGHT, How to Rewrite, Edit & Revise. One reason because of this particular stanza in the book, an an interview between the Paris Review & Hemingway.

Paris Review: How much rewriting do you do?

Hemingway: It depends. I rewrote the ending to A Farewell to Arms, the last page of it, thirty-nine times before I was satisfied.

Paris Review: Was there some technical problem there? What was it that had stumped you?


~~ Every author's goal, Getting the Words Right.

What editing books do you love?  Whatever holiday you celebrate, I hope it's joyful!  

Friday, December 21, 2012

Tis the Season for Identity Theft --Tips to not be a Victim

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”    ~ Benjamin Franklin.

Recently a friend discovered her credit card numbers were being used very close together and without her permission.  Robin Burcell, who has a diverse background in law enforcement and who is also an incredible author, shared these thoughts.  Hope you find them useful.  ~ Donnell

With multiple card #s stolen so close, I'd look to see where they've been used. Internet only? Only in stores? combo? Or not at all, and suddenly your #s are being stolen? Those questions can help you pinpoint the source of the theft. But now that the horse is out of the gate, here are ways to help you make sure that once you get it back in, you can reinforce the security:

1. As mentioned, cards should now be carried in an RFID secure container. (You may have seen the reports on the news, where someone can walk past you with a device and copy the numbers from the strip on your cards.)

2. When shopping on the internet, NEVER EVER use your debit card. This allows a thief, hacker, whomever, access to */your/* money, not the bank's. You may be protected, but there's nothing more fun than having to contact every merchant, trying to get fees for bounced checks waived, etc. Domino effect. Not worth using cash/debit only via internet.

3. It is best to have one card only (credit, not debit) for internet shopping and nothing else. It's best to have a limit on it, and fairly low. That way you know where it's been and your main card isn't stored in some hacker's soon-to-be database. If it is stolen, they can't charge up a storm before the theft is discovered. They'll abandon it fairly soon.

4. PayPal is great, but if you have it connected to your debit card instead of your credit card, you are in for a world of hurt if someone is disputing charges, falsely charges, etc. PayPal is not a bank. They don't operate with the same laws and restrictions. One of my good friends had a merchant charging her PayPal account for something she did not buy, (not even a fraud charge, just disputed) and it took forever before she got her money back. In the meantime, she was short cash, because it came out of her checking. She was socked with fees for bounced checks. If you have a PayPal account, and it is hooked up to a debit card or checking account, I would highly suggest changing that ASAP to a credit card. Then you are offered the protections from your credit card. I would not want some non-bank internet based company to have access to my checking account, no matter how secure they say they are.

5. When buying gas, you should use a credit card, but if you use a debit card, use it as credit, not
debit (if your bank allows). More secure, since you're not entering your PIN in public. (And obviously, don't carry PIN and card together.)

Happy Holidays from your former fraud investigator and ex-cop:

Robin Burcell


Friday, December 14, 2012

Why it's so Doggone Hard to Write for Publication

Five Scribe Readers, I don't necessarily think it's a dog's life to write for publication, but I do agree with Sparkle Abbey that it's doggone hard.  If it were easy, hey, everyone would do it.  So let's see what these authors of the Pampered Pet Series have to say--and what they suggest we do to get published.   Then let's talk about those 2013 goals, which despite what the Mayans say, are right around the corner ~ Donnell

What a great time to be a writer! There are so many publishing opportunities for writers today. Unfortunately, that’s both the good news and the bad news. So, let’s talk about that and why it’s so doggone hard…


As writers we all know we need Goal, Motivation, and Conflict in our stories. At least we hope you all know about GMC. The wonderful Deb Dixon (who is also half of the Bell Bridge Books publishing team) wrote a crazy great book about GMC called Goal Motivation and Conflict, the Building Blocks of Good Fiction. If you don’t have the book, go out and get a copy right now.


Are you back? Okay, so now let’s talk about why writing and publishing is so hard and what you can do about it. Well, we’ve found it’s also true that if you choose to write for publication, you’ll need those same previously mentioned GMC elements in your career plan.


It works like this.

What’s your goal? Be specific. Is it to get a book deal? To publish your book?  To hit the best seller list? You need to figure out exactly what that goal looks like.


Our goal was to have a career doing what we love. We’d both been writing for quite a while and collecting rejections. Good rejections, positive comments, contest wins. No sales. We were at a loss. Then, we had the opportunity to chat with a very savvy NY agent about why it seemed we were so close but still garnering rejections. (That whole thing is a story for another time but if you want to know more just check out Confession on our YouTube channel for the details.) Anyway long story short, we came up with this idea for a collaboration with two main amateur sleuth characters who are cousins, one a pet therapist, the other a pet boutique owner. The series sold and, as they say, the rest is history. We’ve had so much fun writing the Pampered Pets mystery series and we’re getting closer to that goal.


How about you? Have you figured out your goal? Okay, then.


Now what’s your motivation? Why do you want that goal? Be honest with yourself. Really examine what keeps you working toward that goal.


It’s important to know your motivation because it will impact every choice you make along that way. Really. Every choice should be measured against what you want and why you want it. Also, knowing why you’ve chosen this particular goal will help you stay motivated when the going gets tough. And it will…


Which bring us to conflict. Whether you want it or not, once you’ve identified your goal and figured out your motivation, conflict descends. It just does.

It may be good stuff or bad stuff but it’s still stuff in conflict with your goal. And you have to figure it out if you’re going to survive this journey with your dreams intake.

Once we sold, we had, between the two of us: a new boss, a new job, a wedding, remodeling, a graduation, a parent in the hospital, the loss of a very dear writing friend, a baby granddaughter who needed a kidney operation, dance recitals, holidays, anniversaries, birthdays, book signings, TV interviews, conferences, oh, and deadlines. And those are just the highlights!

Working toward whatever goal you’ve chosen, we promise getting there will be full and wonderful …and hard. It’s hard to stay the course. And part of what will keep you on the path to reach your goal is knowing “why” you want it. Knowing your motivation will help you deal with all those things that are in conflict with your goal and then they become just part of the journey. Your story.

We wish great success in your goals!

Sparkle Abbey

So…please share. Do you set goals? What goals have you set for 2013? Have you thought about your motivation? Do tell.

Also, please comment and get your name in the drawing for free books. We’ll be giving away some copies of Desperate Housedogs. Also, just an FYI, 

Get Fluffy, which is book two in this cozy mystery series is currently part of Amazon's Big Deal program and is $1.99 until December 22. You can find it here:

Sparkle Abbey is the pseudonym of mystery authors Mary Lee Woods and Anita Carter who co-write the Pampered Pets Mystery Series featuring feuding former Texas beauty queen cousins Caro Lamont and Melinda Langston who are strong enough and smart enough to solve crimes that have stumped the police in posh pet-friendly community of Laguna Beach, California. 


Book One: Desperate Housedogs

Book Two: Get Fluffy  Amazon's Big Deal thru 12/22

Book Three: Kitty Kitty Bang Bang (coming soon)

Book Four: Yip/Tuck (2013)


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

No Hook? Only One of the Top 10 Reasons for Rejection.

Five Scribe Readers, I learn so much from Lois Winston.  An industry professional, she graciously shares all she's learned.  She's blogged with Five Scribes about The Top 10 Reasons a Manuscript is Rejected.  Now she's expanding upon it.  Read it and Learn...Please welcome Lois Winston once again to the Five Scribes.
As both an agent and a published author, I’ve taught online writing workshops, given presentations at conferences and to writers groups, taught continuing education courses on writing, and published countless articles on writing, including a couple on Five Scribes. Many writers have approached me over the past several years, suggesting that I publish a book on writing. I recently decided to do just that, Top Ten Reasons Your Novel Is Rejected.


If that title sounds familiar to some of you, you probably read my guest post here last January 18th when I wrote about rejection. I ended the post with a list of ten reasons your manuscript is rejected. I’ve taken that list and expanded it into chapters for my book. Today I’d like to discuss one of those reasons for rejection – no opening hook.


As writers, you have a very short window of opportunity to catch an editor or agent’s eye. We read thousands of submissions each year, and if we’re not hooked within the first few pages, we don’t bother reading further. We don’t have the time or patience to plow through pages and pages of filler, back-story, needless descriptions, and weather reports in search of where your story really begins.


If that sounds blunt, it was meant to be. Publishing is a business. If you want to sell your book, you need to submit the very best book possible. Once upon a time, decades ago, editors and agents had the luxury of taking writers with raw talent and grooming them into publishable authors. That was back before publishing houses were gobbled up by corporate conglomerates where all decisions are based on the bottom line. Sadly, it’s the bean counters who rule publishing these days.


This means in order to succeed, you need to write a book that grabs the agent or editor from page one and make her want to keep turning pages to find out what happens next.


How do you do that?


Not with back-story, filler, needless descriptions, and weather reports. Open your book with narrative action and/or interesting dialogue. Plunge your reader right into the scene. If back-story is necessary, you can add it in as the story unfolds, but do it judiciously. Don’t dump huge paragraphs of back-story into your book. It trips up your pacing.



Don’t subject your readers to laundry list description of your characters or the setting. Describe only that which is essential to the plot at that moment. Leave the weather reports to Sam Champion. If the weather plays an integral role in the story, find a way to weave it into the narrative by how the characters’ react to it.

Movies often open with a panoramic camera sweep of the setting. In five seconds a viewer becomes grounded in the location of the film. As a writer, you’d have to craft several pages of prose to describe what your eye sees in a few seconds on the screen. Remember that old saying, a picture is worth a thousand words? It’s never more true when it comes to description. You don’t want to open your book with a thousand words describing your character from the color of her hair down to the color of the nail polish on her toes. You don’t want to describe the room from the drapes to the carpet to every knickknack on the shelves. You want to plunge the reader right into what’s happening. You want to make me and every other agent and editor want to become so involved in what’s happening to your character that we can’t stop turning pages to find out what happens next.


Want to learn more? Top Ten Reasons Your Novel Is Rejected is available as an ebook through Amazon, Barnes & Nobel, iTunes, Kobo, and Smashwords.

Questions for Lois?  Comments.  Questions or comments will enter you in a drawing to win an digital download of TOP TEN REASONS YOUR NOVEL IS REJECTED. 



Nook buy link:


Apple iTunes buy link:


Smashwords buy link:


Kobo buy link:



Award-winning author Lois Winston writes the critically acclaimed Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mysteries series featuring magazine crafts editor and reluctant amateur sleuth Anastasia Pollack. Assault With a Deadly Glue Gun, the first book in the series, received starred reviews from both Publishers Weekly and Booklist. Kirkus Reviews dubbed it, “North Jersey’s more mature answer to Stephanie Plum.” Death By Killer Mop Doll was released last January. Crewel Intentions, an Anastasia Pollack Mini-Mystery, is available now. Revenge of the Crafty Corpse will be a January 2013 release.

Lois is also published in women’s fiction, romance, romantic suspense, and non-fiction under her own name and her Emma Carlyle pen name. In addition, she’s an award-winning crafts and needlework designer and an agent with the Ashley Grayson Literary Agency. Visit Lois at, visit Emma at, and visit Anastasia at the Killer Crafts & Crafty Killers character blog,