My guest today is Denise Brixey, author of the Harry the Wonder Cat series of cosy mysteries.
Denise has been a member of my RedPen Mentoring team of writers for several years. I’ve encouraged her throughout her publishing journey and I’m delighted to announce that her second book The Jamaican Mission is available for preorder now and is being published TOMORROW on Tuesday, 21 April.
I’m also delighted that Denise decided to use Scrivener to write her novels. Every now and then, Denise sends me her current Scrivener project via WeTransfer (a free file transfer service). I review her progress, write my comments in the Inspector, add suggested revisions to the text in the Editing pane, and then send the project back to Denise. (We don’t use Word …)
Denise, tell us a bit about Harry
Harry, the Wonder Cat, is no ordinary cat! Two centuries ago, he was tasked with caring for the Johnson family, helping them through life’s ups and downs.
In Book 1, The Legend of the Pink Diamond, Harry and his gang solve a murder mystery.
A pink diamond, one of the most precious stones in the world, is priceless and treasured for its beauty and rarity. The legend is a fantastical story passed down through generations of Johnsons and well known by the townspeople of Harrot Reef.
But is it just a story? Harry’s magical powers help to unravel the mystery behind the Legend of The Pink Diamond.
In Book 2, The Jamaican Mission, Harry is back in action after receiving another special assignment from the Cat King. He has been tasked with finding out who killed Marianne Johnson in 1929. At that time, Marianne had just gotten married in Jamaica to Nikki’s Great Uncle Frank, Harry’s then charge in the line of the Johnson family.
Using his powers, and the cunning of his cat gang, he convinces his guardian, Nikki, and her friend, Heather, to vacation in Jamaica. Once there, Harry rounds up some Jamaican cats – and even a dog gets involved – to help him to solve the mystery. The leader of the beach cat gang is a beautiful petite cat named Luna, who may be the solution to more than one mystery.
So, when did you first start using Scrivener?
In 2017, I realised I needed a program that was more powerful than Word. That’s when you told me about Scrivener. I went to Literature & Latte, and checked it out. It was affordable and had features that Word didn’t have.
Did you find it hard to get going?
You suggested that I attend Joseph Michael’s Scrivener webinar, in which he spent an hour going over the main elements to get us started. After I took the tutorial provided by Scrivener, I felt ready to dive in.
What was your first Scrivener project?
After NaNo, I started attending your Simply Scrivener Specials. The more I came along, the more I learned, the easier my writing became.
That was the first book in the Harry the Wonder Cat series: The Legend of the Pink Diamond.
What do you like most about Scrivener?
The Binder. I love having separate folders for documents, research, characters, notes, images, etc. for each project.
Just like a regular binder, I can change the order of these folders to suit my needs. It’s an excellent way to keep organised.
Do you use Scrivener for outlining your books?
I didn’t for Book 1, but soon realised the importance of an outline for my publisher’s editor and made sure I did one for Book 2. And I’m working on the outline for Book 3 now.
You can outline a couple ways. I find the corkboard is the best way for me. Scrivener’s corkboard is like one you would put on a wall, only it has more options.
What else appeals to you?
I like the way you can colour code most of your work, from the folders in your binder to the outline!
You can colour code the index card if you want. The index cards would turn from white to the colours you assigned to the different categories of your labels.
You also can use a stamp for the same purpose, but instead of colours, you would see the categories stamped across the cards.
You can even use the colours and the stamps at the same time. For example, if you have your progression on Status, and you decide to use the label feature for the location of the scene, then the card will have your progression stamped and it would be colour coded according to location, POV, etc.
What extra Scrivener tools are you hoping to use for Book 3?
I am still learning about features like collections and compile.
Collections are useful when I’m editing. After I’ve completed the draft, I now use collections in conjunction with search to find unnecessary words such as adverbs. A collection shows me which documents that word is in, so I can root it out.
I also use collections to check that I’ve been consistent throughout the project. I look at only those scenes where a particular character is involved.
Compiling is the final stage where I pick which documents to print. Scrivener will print me a hardcopy, transfer it into a PDF, eBook or to a Kindle file. Easy!
Do you now feel quite confident using Scrivener?
Yes and no. As you can see, Scrivener has it all (and I just scraped the surface). I’m discovering new things about the program all the time. It’s made my writing more organised, more convenient and it’s a joy to work with.
More about Denise Brixey
Denise Brixey grew up in the San Francisco Bay area, where she studied writing. During her many years of living in a big city from birth into adulthood, she had more than her share of challenges.
When she move to a small town in the Gold Country, Denise volunteered at a cat rescue. She soon discovered that, while she was working to save them, it was she who was magically being rescued by the cats!
Denise Brixey has a Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/kittytails/
And there is a group for Harry and his gang: https://www.facebook.com/groups/2803554816547919/
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