Tools of the trade: 10 items in this writer’s toolkit

Like most authors, I write on a computer, but my laptop isn’t my only writing tool. I thought I’d share some other necessities.

  1. My desk. I have a big L-shaped mission style desk that gives me room to spread out. This was my first big purchase from book royalties.
  2. A computer stand. Since I write at my desk, I use my laptop like a desktop computer, so I place it on a stand to raise the screen to eye level. The stand has interlocking block feet so I can adjust the height.
  3. A remote mouse and keyboard. I prefer the feel of full-sized keyboard, and I want a mouse rather than a touchpad.
  4. An adjustable footstool.
  5. A whiteboard for leaving myself notes about things that are really important.
  6. Spiral college-ruled notebooks. This is where I write my to-do list and jot down notes. I go through notebooks pretty fast. I stock up during the back-to-school sales when I can get them for 17 cents each at Walmart.
  7. Sticky (Post-it) flags. I tag the important things in my notebooks. I learned to do this the hard way after searching through pages and pages for stuff I needed.
  8. My essential reference books, which I keep in a sliding book stand: The Synonym Finder, Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, The Chicago Manual of Style, The Emotion Thesaurus, The Writer’s A-Z of Body Language, and Naughty Words for Nice Writers by Cara Bristol. Yes, I use the book that I wrote. All the time, in fact.
  9. A monthly calendar to keep track of my blogging schedules and release dates.
  10. Fingerless writing gloves to keep my hands toasty while I write.

What’s in your writing tool kit? What makes your writing job easier?

Claimed by the Cyborg 

March Fellows assumed he had all the time in the galaxy to pursue a relationship with Jules, an alien exchange student from Xenia, until she vanished without a trace. After years of searching, he finds his lost love on the eve of her arranged marriage.

The daughter of the Xenian emperor, Julietta never meant to fall in love with a Terran man while visiting Earth. Leaving to fulfill her responsibilities on her home planet opened up a hole in her heart that could never be filled. When March, now a cyborg, unexpectedly shows up just before she is to be bonded, she struggles to find the courage to turn him away a second time and follow through with her duty. Before she can act, the lovers are thrust into a political conspiracy that threatens the Xenian empire and their lives.

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♥ ♥ ♥

Related post: My process for keeping track of tax documents

Coming on Wednesday: Instagram hastags for authors

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#8Sunday: Let’s hammer the poor cyborg…from Claimed by the Cyborg

Claimed by the Cyborg has been released and is available for purchase!

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Cyborg March arrived on Xenia to search for his lost love, only to discover that she is the emperor’s daughter and she’s is about to be bonded to her lifetime mate, Naimo. In this scene at the pre-bonding banquet, a few truths hit home with March. The first line is spoken by Naimo’s twin brother.

“The only person who has to bond by a certain age is the future emperor or empress.”

“Why is that?” March asked.

“Our customs decree he or she begin their twenty-five year rule no later than their twenty-sixth solar cycle.”

“That’s rather precise,” he commented in a calm, matter-of-fact tone, belying his anger and sense of betrayal. She’d never thought it important enough to mention that she was the future empress? He’d meant so little to her?

The princess had been aware a mate awaited her, that her bonding date—or at least the deadline—had been set.

Naimo released a satisfied sigh. “We will make a great team.”

Claimed by the Cyborg Description

March Fellows assumed he had all the time in the galaxy to pursue a relationship with Jules, an alien exchange student from Xenia, until she vanished without a trace. After years of searching, he finds his lost love on the eve of her arranged marriage.

The daughter of the Xenian emperor, Julietta never meant to fall in love with a Terran man while visiting Earth. Leaving to fulfill her responsibilities on her home planet opened up a hole in her heart that could never be filled. When March, now a cyborg, unexpectedly shows up just before she is to be bonded, she struggles to find the courage to turn him away a second time and follow through with her duty. Before she can act, the lovers are thrust into a political conspiracy that threatens the Xenian empire and their lives.

 Visit the other authors of Weekend Writing Warriors

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Coming on Thursdays: a look back at science fiction romance…#SFR #ScifiRom #TBT

On social media there is such a thing as Throwback Thursday (#TBT), in which people post old photos of themselves. I got to thinking, why isn’t there a TBT for books? Why not do a feature about backlisted books?

New releases get all the attention. They get reviewed, they’re featured on book tours, friends share the news on Facebook. But older books….they’re like the red-headed stepchildren of publishing.

It’s time to show them some love!

On Thursdays on carabristol.com, I’ll feature science fiction romances from authors’ backlists. These will books that have been out for while but are worth taking a second look at. Here are the basic rules:

  1. A book must have been published at least six months ago.
  2. New releases will not be accepted, except for re-releases of older books.
  3. A book must be full-priced, at least $2.99 or more (there are plenty of places to promote 99-cent and free books).
  4. Only science fiction romance will be accepted.

The only thing left is to come up with is a name for this feature. The goal is to draw attention to it in a positive way. Please help by voting on the name:

A one-question survey

Do you have an “older” science fiction romance you’d like featured? Email me at carabristol50 (at) yahoo (dot) com and put Thursday feature in the subject line to request the submission form/instructions.

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Pets in Space only 99 cents ~ limited time ~ #SFR #ScifiRom #dogs #cats

99 cents has never been better spent!

Now is your chance to enjoy one of the Library Journal Best Books 2016 for only 99 cents. One week only!

Even an alien needs a pet…

A Library Journals Best Books 2016 pick, Pets in Space features nine of today’s bestselling sci-fi romance authors. Join the fun in this action-packed anthology filled with suspense, laughter, and romance. The alien pets have an agenda that will capture the hearts of those they touch. Can the animals win the day or will the stars shine just a little less brightly?

New York Times, USA TODAY, Award Winning, and Best selling authors have eight original, never-released stories and one expanded story that will capture your imagination. Come join us as we take you on nine amazing adventures that will change the way you look at your pet!

Amazon |  iBooks |  Barnes & Noble |  Kobo |  Google Play

 

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Instagram hashtags for #booklovers & #readers plus a #giveaway

To connect with like-minded people or to attract like-minded people, on Instragram, it’s all about the #hashtag. To get more traffic, you need to tag your photograms. If you love books and reading, here are some popular Instagram hastags you can use. (Note: these are  specifically for readers. Authors have their own set of hashtags).

  1. #amreading
  2. #bookaddict
  3. #bookblog
  4. #bookblogger
  5. #bookish
  6. #booklove
  7. #booklover
  8. #bookloversforlife
  9. #booknerd
  10. #bookreviews
  11. #bookshelf
  12. #booksofInstagram
  13. #bookstagram
  14. #bookstagramfeature
  15. #bookstagrammer
  16. #bookworm
  17. #fantasy
  18. #historicalromance
  19. #ilovetoread
  20. #mystery
  21. #newrelease
  22. #oneclick
  23. #paranormal
  24. #reading
  25. #readinglist
  26. #readromance
  27. #readersofIG
  28. #review
  29. #reviewer
  30. #romancenovels
  31. #scifiromance
  32. #sciencefictionromance
  33. #sexybooks
  34. #sportsromance
  35. #thriller

 Which hashtags do you use most often?

Do you have other hashtags to add to the list?

Speaking of Instagram and books….don’t miss out on the cool contest and prize drawing for a $25 Amazon gift card! The deadline to enter is January 20, 2017! CLICK FOR THE RULES.

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#8Sunday March learns about Xenian sex customs…from Claimed by the Cyborg

Claimed by the Cyborg has been released and is available for purchase!

Amazon | iBooks | Kobo | Barnes & Noble 

It’s time for our weekly Weekend Writing Warriors excerpt. To recap: Cyborg March has arrived on Xenia to deliver a spaceship to the emperor and to search for his lost lover, “Jules.” Last week, he discovered that Jules is Princess Julietta, the emperor’s daughter. She will be bonded to Naimo in just one day. Naimo has just informed March that Xenians are not permitted to bond outside of their race…

“So, no one ever, uh, hooks up with anyone from another race?” March asked.

“I don’t understand what you mean—oh.” Naimo grinned. “I get it. No, sexual relations are completely different. Bonded mates can and do engage in sexual recreation with others.”

His jaw dropped. “You will not be faithful to Julietta?”

“Of course, I will be faithful. I will serve her, support her, advise her, and stand by her side as her consort.”

“But you will have sex with other women.”

Claimed by the Cyborg Description

March Fellows assumed he had all the time in the galaxy to pursue a relationship with Jules, an alien exchange student from Xenia, until she vanished without a trace. After years of searching, he finds his lost love on the eve of her arranged marriage.

The daughter of the Xenian emperor, Julietta never meant to fall in love with a Terran man while visiting Earth. Leaving to fulfill her responsibilities on her home planet opened up a hole in her heart that could never be filled. When March, now a cyborg, unexpectedly shows up just before she is to be bonded, she struggles to find the courage to turn him away a second time and follow through with her duty. Before she can act, the lovers are thrust into a political conspiracy that threatens the Xenian empire and their lives.

 Visit the other authors of Weekend Writing Warriors:

 

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“Toe-curlingly sexy,” “fantastic thrill ride,” “sizzling romance” – Claimed by the Cyborg

“A nice balance between romance and danger” –  Mixed Book Bag

“Toe-curlingly sexy” – Naughty Knitter Reviews

“Hugely romantic” –  Deanna’s World

“A little bit of everything, action, romance, mystery and suspense…I couldn’t put it down”­­–  Boundless Book Reviews

“A fantastic thrill ride with lots of wonderful romance and sexual chemistry” ­­–  Amazon Reviewer Kadee

“Sizzling romance with cyborg characters and a colorfully drawn sci-fi world” ­–  Amazon Reviewer Sophia Rose

Click the links to read the complete reviews

March Fellows assumed he had all the time in the galaxy to pursue a relationship with Jules, an alien exchange student from Xenia, until she vanished without a trace. After years of searching, he finds his lost love on the eve of her arranged marriage.

The daughter of the Xenian emperor, Julietta never meant to fall in love with a Terran man while visiting Earth. Leaving to fulfill her responsibilities on her home planet opened up a hole in her heart that could never be filled. When March, now a cyborg, unexpectedly shows up just before she is to be bonded, she struggles to find the courage to turn him away a second time and follow through with her duty. Before she can act, the lovers are thrust into a political conspiracy that threatens the Xenian empire and their lives.

 Amazon | iBooks | Kobo | Barnes & Noble | Paperback

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Enter the Claimed by the Cyborg #Instagram #Giveaway ~ $25 Amazon gift card

Are you on Instagram? Enter the Cy-Ops Instagram Contest for a chance to win a $25 Amazon gift card. No purchase is necessary — all you have to do to enter is show the Claimed by the Cyborg book cover and use all four specific #hashtags: #CaraBristol, #ClaimedByTheCyborg, #ScifiRomance and #CyOpsInstagramContest. The deadline to enter is January 20, 2017.

The contest is simple, but please read the rules. You must follow the rules to qualify.

New Release: Claimed by the Cyborg:

March Fellows assumed he had all the time in the galaxy to pursue a relationship with Jules, an alien exchange student from Xenia, until she vanished without a trace. After years of searching, he finds his lost love on the eve of her arranged marriage.

The daughter of the Xenian emperor, Julietta never meant to fall in love with a Terran man while visiting Earth. Leaving to fulfill her responsibilities on her home planet opened up a hole in her heart that could never be filled. When March, now a cyborg, unexpectedly shows up just before she is to be bonded, she struggles to find the courage to turn him away a second time and follow through with her duty. Before she can act, the lovers are thrust into a political conspiracy that threatens the Xenian empire and their lives.

 Amazon | iBooks | Kobo | Barnes & Noble | Paperback

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Release Day! Claimed by the Cyborg available in ebook & paperback, #giveaway, #scifirom

Claimed by the Cyborg ~ Just released

Claimed by the Cyborg (Cy-Ops Sci-fi Romance 5), the most romantic of all the series books, is available now in ebook and paperback! I’m celebrating the release with an Instagram contest for a $25 Amazon gift card (scroll down for details).

Like all the Cy-Ops books, Claimed by the Cyborg is a standalone read. You don’t have to read the other books to enjoy this one, and you can read them out of order.

 Amazon | iBooks | Kobo | Barnes & Noble | Paperback

Claimed by the Cyborg Description

March Fellows assumed he had all the time in the galaxy to pursue a relationship with Jules, an alien exchange student from Xenia, until she vanished without a trace. After years of searching, he finds his lost love on the eve of her arranged marriage.

The daughter of the Xenian emperor, Julietta never meant to fall in love with a Terran man while visiting Earth. Leaving to fulfill her responsibilities on her home planet opened up a hole in her heart that could never be filled. When March, now a cyborg, unexpectedly shows up just before she is to be bonded, she struggles to find the courage to turn him away a second time and follow through with her duty. Before she can act, the lovers are thrust into a political conspiracy that threatens the Xenian empire and their lives.

An excerpt from Claimed by the Cyborg

(In this scene, March finally finds Julietta and confronts her.)

“I never meant to hurt you. I’m sorry. I can’t speak to you.” She reached for the scanner to close the door.

He shouldered past her into her quarters.

She gaped. “What are you doing? You have no right to enter!”

He jerked his head at the controls. “Close the door.”

“Maybe I’ll call the guards instead.” She reached for the call button.

He grabbed her wrist and pressed her hand to the screen, locking them in together. He released her and planted himself between her and the call button. Julietta rubbed her wrist. Though his hand had been callused and rough, his touch hadn’t been hurtful. The March of her past had had the smooth skin of an academic who spent the majority of his time indoors. She didn’t know what work he did now, but she guessed he didn’t teach at the university.

Stolen glimpses at the banquet and in the arena hadn’t prepared her for the effect of his presence. He had grown taller and acquired heavy, thick muscles, though there wasn’t a gram of excess fat on him anywhere. Maturity bracketed his mouth and etched the skin around his temples, but his eyes still reflected the Terran sky. Full lips, no longer soft, slashed across his face with dislike.

His nostrils flared as he exhaled, and then he raked a hand through his hair. He tilted his head. This time, when he looked at her, his anger had evaporated, and his eyes appeared haunted.

She’d earned his anger; his pain was more than she could bear. “March…”

“I shouldn’t be here. I apologize.” He turned to leave.

“Wait!” The entreaty was torn from her. What am I doing? Let him go. ”You’re right. We should talk.” She motioned to a settee. “Would you like to sit?”

“No, but I will.” He positioned himself with his legs spread wide, his hands clasped between his knees, taking up the entire space. He didn’t need to stake out his territory to prevent her from sitting next him; she wouldn’t have dared to join him. Distance was the only protection she had.

She lowered herself onto an opposite chair. “How have you been?” It sounded so inane, she winced.

“I’m sorry about Naimo,” he said. “I hope he will recover.”

“Thank you.” She rubbed the sore spot left by the headdress. “I don’t—how—I don’t understand how you came to be in the arena as the challenger.”

The corner of his mouth quirked. “I don’t either.”

“What?”

“I work for a spaceship remanufacturer. I delivered a ship your father had ordered.”

Business, then. A foolish hope deflated, leaving her more heartbroken. March would not have come for her, and if he had, she would have had to reject him. It is for the best. Let the past remain buried where it can do no harm.

“I still don’t understand the connection to the Sha’A’la,” she said. He’d been magnificent in the arena. Her eyes had been on him the whole time. Her heart had fought with him, for him. The sexy but mild mannered teaching assistant had turned lethal.

He fixed his gaze on her face. “Why did you disappear?”

Julietta rose to her feet and paced the room. “Isn’t it obvious?”

Enter to win a $25 Amazon Gift Card!

Create a “photogram” on Instagram using the Claimed by the Cyborg cover and enter to win a $25 Amazon gift card. You can show yourself reading the book, link to a review, or just use the cover in a creative way. There are specific hashtags you must use in the contest, which runs from Jan. 10-20. The sooner you enter, the greater your chances of winning! Please read the contest rules because there are a few simple things you must do to qualify for the contest.

Amazon | iBooks | Kobo | Barnes & Noble | Paperback

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How I keep track of expenses for my taxes #WriteTip #TaxTip

Don’t hate me, but I have all my writing/business tax data collected, categorized, added up, and ready to take to my accountant.

I discovered years ago if I kept track during the year, the end of the year was a breeze. So, whenever I incur an expense, I immediately jot down the amount, the date, and the vendor on a sheet of accounting paper. Then I shove the printed receipt into a file drawer and forget about it. Making a note of the expense means never having to look at receipts again; I only keep them in case of audit.

I track expenses on sheets of lined green accounting paper, which I used to keep in a folder on my desk. Accounting paper has handy, useful columns. This year (2017), I made a slight change. My accounting sheets are now in a notebook, divided into three main easy-to-find categories.

  • Advertising and Promotion (items such as paid ads, book tours, gift cards, special promotions)
  • Production –(Editing, cover art, formatting)
  • General  (Internet, website, phone, postage etc. These are the expenses that aren’t tied to a specific book)

Within each category, I keep a sheet for each subcategory (for instance, Production has a sheet for editing expenses, one for cover art, etc.). At the end of the year, I grab a calculator and add up the subcategories. (And actually, in June I add up the first part of the year, then at the end of the year, I just add up the second half).

Not only does this method keep track of expenses for my taxes, but it allows me to see at a glance how much I spend.  Also new this year, I started a category for expenses by book in which I keep a sheet on each book and list all expenses related to that book: promotion and production costs. It means making a double entry, once in the expense category and again in the book category, but it allows me to see how much each book costs me.

I know many business people use QuickBooks, Quicken, or make Excel spreadsheets, but I don’t know how to use those programs. Last year, I bought Excel for Dummies, intending to set all this up on the computer, but I never got around to reading the book. I’ve decided that this manual process works for me. I think it’s just as fast to grab a pen & notebook as is to open up a program and wait for it to load.

Are you old school (pen and paper) or do you use a computer program? What tips to you have to make your tax chores easier?

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