Barbara Barrett

Romance at Work

Thoughts from the Treadmill: Manual

treadmillOn the treadmill this week, I’m wondering “where has the time gone?” It’s almost the middle of March. February seems to have just flown by. But when I think back on everything that happened last month, I realize my mind has been focused on several avenues of new learning I’ve taken on to augment my writing. It all came at about the same time, and to take advantage of such rich opportunities to broaden my world, I had to take the plunge and absorb them all at the same time.

So I’m using the treadmill control of “Manual” this week to capsulize my thoughts, because that’s what I’ve been seeking, a manual for each of these new additions to my writing tools.

About two weeks ago, I received my new laptop. Hadn’t planned to get one for a few months, but along came this one-day sale and now I have a new HP laptop. Unfortunately, they do not come with much of an operator’s manual. It’s supposed to be “intuitive learning,” i.e., so easy to use, the user can readily pick up the new features. Maybe so, but it’s the finding of the old features that’s been the challenge. Didn’t have much choice about the operating system; it came loaded with Windows 8. So I’ve joined the “swipe age” even though I continue to use my wireless mouse.manual

Where Windows 8 lacks a manual and information for the user, however, my two online courses, which I’m taking concurrently (not recommended unless, like these, you just can’t pass up either), are full of helpful instructions, illustrations, examples and personal input. I’m taking a course on Scrivener from a chaptermate in the Kiss of Death mystery/romantic suspense chapter, Gwen Hernandez. Gwen  recently released Scrivener for Dummies, so she’s quite the expert on this topic. This software includes many helpful features and tools for writers. Our daily lessons contain just enough informational nuggets to whet my appetite for more the next day.

The second online course is “Creating a Book Launch Plan,” taught by Kelli Finger and Amy Atwell of Author E.M.S. Unfortunately, I got behind almost from the start, because I was finishing revisions to a manuscript. That project took precedence. But I’m set to catch up in the next few days, so that I can approach the official launch of my second book, And He Cooks Too, on March 22 somewhat better informed about how to get the word out. Student comments have also been filled with useful information as well.

To further complicate matters, I took two three-session courses through Stetson University’s Lifelong Learning Center. The first, on Photoshop, was taught by former Celebration High School art teacher, Dolores Russo. Though not the best advertisement of how much I learned, the picture above was prepared using Photoshop Elements 11. The second course, “Dialogue Your Blogging,” taught by Cindi Lynch of Stetson, inspired me to move ahead with my plans to add a blog to my website.

The last month has been a challenge, but I feel so much richer to have been exposed to this diverse information. Don’t plan to do this again for awhile, but every so often, you have to challenge yourself to go beyond the usual bounds.

Photo by Leslie Sloan

Photo by Leslie Sloan

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