Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Stock Photo Sites

Every author whether Indie or Traditional needs stock photos. Marketing is an enormous part of our jobs as writers. Ads on various social media sites and booksellers only enhance our sales. Here There are tons of stock photo sites out there. I highlighted a few with their pricing plans to help get great quality images at good prices.

Paid Sites
Yes, I’m biased, which is why this one is first on my list. I’ve used their pics for tons of ads. Not to mention, my cover artist has used photos from the site. They have a huge selection of quality photos and vectors. Vectors are graphic images based on mathematical principles that will not distort as you resize them. (I had to look it up. Does this make sense?) Vectors are great for logos.
Pricing plans can go by the month, the year, and sales. If you can get their 100 for $100, you get a hundred pictures for the year. Use em or lose em. (I learned the hard way.) Once you create an account, they also send free pics to your email about once a week.
Subscriptions: One Month $69-$199 based on how many photos you need or One Year for $699-$1999 also based on the number of photos.
Flexible Plan: Monthly—$29 per month for 30, then $1 each additional. Yearly—$299 for the year, 30 pics a month, $1 each additional
On-Demand Plan 10 images for $49, 25 for $99, 100 for $299 for a basic license
Beware depending on the sites and pricing, licenses can vary. Check how often you can use your image after download it.

Another impressive site for images, and millions of them at that! They also have some image editing tools. Again, they have a subscription plan for all these goodies.
Subscription: Per month—10 for $49, 50 for $125, $350 for 200, 250 for $750. Annual—Prices go up from there. (10 per month for $299 a year)
Shutterstock lets you either use a contract or just go month by month. Contracts give considerable savings (Annual 10 per month for $29 vs $49 without contract), but you are committed for a full year of that monthly bill. Subscription packs include the editor.
On-Demand Packages: 2 images for $29, 5 for $49, and 25 for $229. Again, check the license for the images. On-Demand packages do not include the editor.

A tougher one to explore before you commit to a monthly contract, this site includes more than stock images. You can tap into tons of templates for Adobe products like Illustrator and Photoshop. Also, it has a 3D imaging studio.
Pricing. After a month free trial, you can do either annually or month by month. It also has credits you can use for items that are not part of the packages.
Month to Month—3 items for $29, 40 for $100, 350 for $199, 750 for $250
Annual Commitment—10 for $29, 40 for $79, 350 for $169, and 750 for $199

Free sites
This site has a great selection of pictures and videos. All images are free. Yes, that’s right free. Pictures and videos can be modified. You can also credit the artist, but only if you wish. Be aware of the rules of how to use the images. You cannot change them and sell them, outright sell them, or put up identifiable people in a poor light. Other than that, go for it.

Another stock photos site with photos, vectors, illustrations, and music too. Similar to Pexels, all images are free for commercial use. Many are uploaded by artists. Credit as you wish.

Another free photo site.

So, why pay when you can get images for free? Here’s the ultimate question.
Many of the free sites feature artists trying to get their name out there or amateurs trying to see if they can sell their stuff. Not everything there is like that though. The quality might vary based on paid or unpaid. As a writer, you need to ensure that you are using your images correctly, that you have a license to use images, and that artists are getting recognition for their work (as you are by selling your book).

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Ideas for Using Scapple

Don’t let Scapple’s blank page intimidate you. It’s your canvas for anything.
So, ideas…I could list the usual projects: Timelines, family trees, brainstorming, story mapping, etc. But what more can we do?

Timelines: Scapple is a simpler version of the Aeon Timeline app. If you don’t need all the detail from Aeon, then Scapple is a great way to create a simple timeline for the book, series, epic, poem, whatever. It’s easy to make, adjust, and add to without all the restrictions of structure that Aeon has.

Beyond Timelines: Instead of a timeline, create a character arc. Show the ebb and flow of your characters’ growth over the length of the story/series. Use multiple characters on one page to check and see if they are growing together or apart. I find it a useful way to correct my “everything is happening at once” problem. I can see where I need to space things out, give each character their spotlight, and find the stupid plot holes, I mean, self-correct plot holes.

Family Trees: Got a series? Map those names and dates to make sure you’ve got everyone covered. Included all details. So when you throw in long-lost cousin Zed, you know who he is and where he fits in the family.

Beyond Family Trees: Create a family tree with super detail to chronicle more than names. Add dates of important events, settings, locations, secret babies, treasure maps—wait, I’m getting ahead of myself. Add to tidbits to make not only the tree but a story bible. You can include things like family traits—physical (blue eyes),  personality-wise (stubborn like your Aunt Josephine.), genetic anomalies, inheritance, and more.

Brainstorming: With the non-structured nature of Scapple, you can throw boxes all over the place to brainstorm a new project. The boxes are easy to move around to solidify plot ideas and character development.

Beyond Brainstorming: You can map out an entire series with Scapple. The program doesn’t limit your space to the screen size. You can plan an entire series and have the flexibility of adding, removing, and rearranging elements. Instead of deleting ideas that don’t work, toss them in the corner to use later. Color, font, and shape elements can differentiate ideas, thoughts, and random facts.

Story Maps: Similar to brainstorming, mapping is easy in Scapple. Create a template using story beats, or plot devices. (As a romance author, I’m thinking Goal, Motivation, Conflict by Debra Dixon and Romancing the Beat by Gwen Hayes.) Use the template each time you map out a new plot to keep the story on track.

Beyond Story Mapping: Make a setting map. Make elaborate connections to your locations by creating a house plan, a travel plan, or a treasure map. If you’re writing fantasy, here’s an excellent way to visualize your tale with delicious details. I’m one of those readers who loves a map in a book. In fact, I find them useful in all sorts of books from romance to horror.

Map Your Career: Go beyond just writing. Map out your marketing plan, brainstorm a social media platform, plan pages for your website. 

The only limits for the use of Scapple is you, and well, your ability to scan the Internet for more ideas. LOL

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

How to Use Scapple

Starting a Project

Scapple starts you with a clean, blank page full of possibilities (or crippling anxiety, your choice). Whether a plotter or pantser, you can start right in with Scapple, plan or no plan.

One Note

  1. Double-click anywhere on the screen and a text box will appear.
  2. Type whatever data you need, have, wish you had, or borrowed from another writer.
  3.  Click outside the text box and ta-da, you have your first note.

Two Notes

  1.  To add a second note, double-click in another location.
  2.  Type.
  3.  Click outside the note. You are totally on your way.

Three Notes

  1.  Other ways to add notes besides the double-click. Go to the Notes menu.
  2.  Click on:

a.       New Stacked Note—a new note will appear under the last note you created if you are still in your current note.

b.      If no note is selected, add another one with New Note.

c.       To add a Connected Note (with a link between), click on the parent (first) note, and under the Notes menu, select Connected Note. Choose where the connected note will appear (above, below, etc.)


Editing Notes

     Simple—Double-click on any note to edit the text.

     Fancy—Get the Inspector

  • Click on the View menu and choose Show Inspector. It defaults to the Note Style tab. This will display a handy pop-up formatting menu with various style elements—font, size, color, fill, border color, and shape. Great for distinguishing various plot elements, notes for yourself, or character arcs. (Note, the Inspector likes to linger as if it’s its own programs. Right now, it’s visible on my MS Word screen.) Just minimize the Inspector window to remove it from the screen.)
  •  On the Document tab of the Inspector, further customize the screen with background colors and textures, text colors, fonts, and alignment. You can set defaults on this menu.

     More Fancy—Additional borders

  • Click on any note and select the Notes menu, then New Background Shape Around Note. This will add another rectangle or square shape around the note (and extra border). This can differentiate your note from others. (Maybe it’s a plot beat or a section that needs work.)

Less Notes

  • To remove a note, select the note by clicking on it. Then either Right-Mouse click and select Delete. Or open the Edit menu and choose Delete.

Moving Notes

  • Click and drag a single note to a new location.
  • Or  draw a square/rectangle around the notes to select multiple notes. Drag or use the Notes menu to Stack, Align, or Distribute the notes.

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Scapple: Graphic Organizer

Scapple is an easy to use graphic organizer, flow chart maker. It is brought to you by Literature and Latte, the same developer as Scrivener.
The program will throw you back to your elementary school days when the teacher asked you to brainstorm an idea or map a story. It’s the same thing, but for grown-ups. (Well, I guess kids could use this too, but I digress.)
Scapple allows users to create a series of boxes with ideas, thoughts, and sentences inside, then connect them through groupings and lines. The program is basic, just enough bells and whistles to create what you need. But no distractions, no shiny bits, and a ton of utility.
Scapple works for plotters, pantsers, and plantsers. Because you begin with a blank page, you can create as much or as little structure as you wish. Throw shapes and different borders across the page, or detail a highly complex outline in neatly stacked boxes, or anything in between.
It also works with Scrivener, allowing you to drag notes from one program to the other.
From Literature and Latte, the software is available for both PC and Mac (no mobile version). It has a 30-day-use free full-version trial.
  1. So, the program only counts the days you actually use it and
  2.  You get to use the real program. If you buy, the cost is a mere $18.
     Scapple in intuitive, easy, and fun. A great addition to any writer’s toolbox.