Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Best Free Stuff for Writers

free stuff for Dallas/Fort Worth Catholic Writers
Since we started this new blog for our local Catholic Writers Group, I thought it would be a good place to post information that may be of use to group members, and others who may be trying to get started as writers. I don't know about you, but I love great free stuff (not the crummy free stuff that seems to proliferate on the internet). So I thought I would share with you, from time to time, some of the great free resources I've found that are particularly helpful or valuable to writers (I've actually used each of these). And I invite you to let me know if you can recommend others!

Writing productivity

  • Scrivener (free 30-day demo, $40 to buy.) – Okay, only the demo is free, but it's great! Try it and you'll get hooked. Scrivener is a writing program that helps you organize your writing and keep track of your research. It has lots of useful features that make it super-useful for large, complex writing projects (I wish I'd had it when I was writing my dissertation!). Some features are: 
  • cork board view (with virtual index cards) that makes it easy to reorganize sections of your document,
  • outline mode allows you to plan before writing, or to get a sense of the structure of what you have already written; 
  • an area to gather your research for easy access; and lots more!
The trial is good for 30 days of use, not 30 calendar days, which gives you plenty of time to get to know this program and fall in love with it. Available for PC or Mac.
  • yWriter – This is completely free software for developing, writing, and keeping track of a novel, with lots of features to help the novelist keep track of chapters, scenes, characters, etc. yWriter is similar to Scrivener, but optimized specifically for fiction writers (although it would also work well for other kinds of writing project). It was developed by Simon Haynes, a computer programmer who is also a novelist, to help him with his own writing process. Completely free, and really helpful, yWriter is availabler in Windows version only (the author recommends Scrivener for Mac users).
  • yEdit  – This is a simple text editor with countdown word counter. A distraction-free window in which to write. Set your word count goal per session, and yEdit keeps track of your progress toward your goal. yEdit is great helper for anyone who wants to establish a writing routine of writing X words per day/week/whatever.

Writing Advice

  • Randy Ingerman’s Snowflake Method of developing a novel.  This is genius -- a brilliantly simple method of creating a well-developed novel from scratch. The method takes you from original concept, through outlining, character development, and writing, all the way to submission to a publisher.
  • Free critique groups online ( This web site offers great, fee-free online critique groups for all kinds of writing and other creative output. Workshops are available for a variety of fiction genres, as well as non-fiction. I haven't actually taken part in this one yet, but it looks like a great way to gain experience and get lots of intelligent reader feedback. The founder and moderator stresses, and enforces, civility and kindness in the way critiques are offered. Well-established, published writers are among the regular contributors. Here's what they say:
“ is for serious authors, artists, and creators in any field who wish to improve their craft — those who seek to gain professional stature within their field or increase it. workshops focus on in-depth critiques of your works, a process which helps both the recipient and the reviewer to grow. In addition to depth of analysis, much of's secret is our emphasis on respectful and diplomatic critiques.”

Funding and Markets for Your Writing

  • FundsforWriters website and free newsletter. Among other things, Funds for Writers lets you know about writing competitions with cash prizes, and occasionally lists grant opportunities for writers. I'll let the site founder describe this herself: 
"FundsforWriters is an online resource for writers. You can be a thirty-year veteran or a part-time wannabe, but here at FundsforWriters (FFW), we consider you a writer none-the-less. We emphasize finding money to make writing a realistic career. Of course, you’d write anyway. That’s the way of a writer.
"Other websites provide guidance on how to write, how to query, how to format manuscripts, and so on. We give you direction on the funding streams. We focus on markets, competitions, awards, grants, publishers, agents, and jobs for your writing abilities, with motivation chucked in."
I hope you find some of these helpful. Use the comment box to let us know if you've tried any of these, or can recommend other great free stuff for writers.

(Updated) Our New Schedule of Meeting Times

schedule calendar Dallas Fort Worth Catholic writers group
Yesterday evening, the Dallas-Fort Worth Catholic Writers Group held our first evening meeting, on the campus of the University of Dallas in Irving. We were hoping this location would make the group more accessible to writers in the Tarrant County area, and apparently the strategy worked: one first-time attendee, and a repeat visit from a member who lives in Azle and has trouble attending our meetings in Dallas. Thanks to Bernadette Waterman-Ward for securing the meeting space for us at UD.

For the time being, we have settled on the following monthly schedule of meeting times. Anyone interested is welcome to attend any and all meetings, and please invite others who may be interested in the support, encouragement, and advice of other writers.
  • Second Friday of each month, we meet from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 a.m. in the community room at the Half-Price Books in Dallas on Northwest Highway. (The community room is at the back of the building on the west end.) Feel free to pick up lunch in the Black Forest Cafe (in the southeast corner of the Half-Price building) or something from home.
  • Third Fourth Tuesday of each month, we meet from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m. on the University of Dallas campus in Irving, Room 241 of Carpenter Hall (at the top of the east stairwell). Park in Lot A in front of Carpenter Hall (building 1 on this campus map).
In case of holidays or other schedule conflicts, we may adjust a given meeting time, so always check first, here on this web site or by contacting one of the organizers. You can subscribe to receive email notice of new posts on this blog by using the widget in the right sidebar. Contact us  to get email notifications.

Keep in mind that this meeting schedule has been devised to try to meet the needs of as many potential members as possible. If you, or someone you know, would like to participate but cannot attend either of the scheduled meetings, please let us know! We'll do what we can to accommodate those who truly wish to take part.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Calling all DFW Catholic Writers!

DFW Catholic Writers wanted
All Catholic writers in the Dallas-Fort Worth area are invited to join the D/FW Catholic Writers Group. If you are published or unpublished, a blogger, novelist, or "wannabe," and would like the help and encouragement of other writers -- or if you have expertise to share -- please join us!

Our next meeting will be held Tuesday, 29 January, on the University of Dallas campus, Carpenter Hall 241, from 7:00  to 8:30 p.m. For more details, please see  the meeting notice on Have questions? Email Michelle Easley.