Alternote: The OS X App Making Evernote Easier

Alternote: The OS X App Making Evernote Easier

“Evernote needs a dashboard,” I decided a few years ago. I kept hoping that Evernote would develop one, but they didn’t. “And a word count where you can see it, not hidden away…” No joy there, either. Until Alternote.

Alternote is a fascinating new OS X app that’s just what I wanted. It functions as an Evernote dashboard: I can view only those notebooks I want to look at. I can have a list of favorite notes.

And there’s a WORD COUNT (yippee!) in the bottom right of each note. (I’m wiping away tears of joy here, trust me.) Word count’s hugely important to writers.

What I like most about Alternote

See above — I can use Alternote as a quick way of getting things done in Evernote.

I love Evernote’s Mac app, but with over 6K notes, it becomes hard to get stuff done, because:

  • It’s easy to be distracted with notebooks and notes;
  • No easily visible word count when writing (see above);
  • Too many notebooks. Yes, distraction again. I’m a Gemini, and we love bright shiny objects.

You can keep up to 100K notes in Evernote, but I weed out my notes and notebooks regularly. Many notes expire; that is, they’re only useful for a limited time. A goals list for example, is time-limited. Once you’ve achieved those goals — or haven’t achieved them — the outdated list’s just a distraction.

So, the biggest plus for me with using Alternote is that I can cut down on Evernote’s distractions.

I also like the Markdown facility; I write almost everything in Markdown. You can repurpose at will in Markdown, especially with The wonderful Marked 2 app.

In summary: if you’re a Mac Evernote user, and want an app that acts as a useful front-end/ dashboard, give Alternote a try.

Write and Sell Commercial Fiction FAST: Bestselling Kindle Genre Fiction Cheat Sheets

Write and Sell Commercial Fiction FAST: Bestselling Kindle Genre Fiction Cheat Sheets
Write and Sell Commercial Fiction FAST: Bestselling Kindle Genre Fiction Cheat Sheets

Whether you’re a new fiction writer, or are an experienced pro, you need hungry markets for your books. Genres come in and out of fashion. Discover the hot genres on the Kindle Store — and write what’s selling NOW.

Our comprehensive new program not only reveals the hottest selling genres, it also helps you to write and SELL them. Enjoy. :-)

, on Twitter: @angee, and find Angela on Pinterest, too.

How to profit from your writing: online store.

Writing Journal 67: (Mac People) Hello, Yosemite

Writing Journal 67: (Mac People) Hello, Yosemite

My writing journal for Saturday 18, 2014. You can find all the writing journal entries here.

It’s Saturday, so that means I need to RUSH because it’s a short writing day, and I have coaching calls this afternoon and evening.

To save time, I shortened the writing time for the mystery novel, but managed 1,800 words. I skipped working on the nonfiction books completely, so I could focus on my email backlog.

Then, time for breakfast for Honey. I ate while dealing with today’s email.

Client reports, and dealing with edited material

I didn’t do any client reports for the week yesterday, which meant I had to do them today. I also received a couple of books from editors, which I need to assess for final changes. I’ll do that tonight.

Now it’s time for my errands. I need to be back early for my coaching calls.

A couple of writing students asked me about the new Mac OS, Yosemite. They’re new Mac people, and weren’t sure what to do, if anything at all.

A few tips, if you’re new to Macs.

If you’re a Mac person, Yosemite is here

Yosemite, the new Mac OS X is here. When it was announced yesterday, I promised myself that I’d wait a month before updating. Updating is always risky; if your most-used programs haven’t been upgraded to work with the new OS, you’re stuck.

“Yosemite announced, wait a month before upgrading” — that’s what I wrote in my bullet journal. Then I looked at the features, and noticed Handoff. I could start creating a presentation, and could finish it on my iPad.

And Safari got updated. Not to mention, security features… Sigh. No sooner had I finished my working day, than I decided, oh what the heck, and hit the Install button in the App Store.

I made sure I was ready first, so if you’re installing Yosemite, do this:

  • Make sure that your “MUST HAVE” apps have been updated to work with Yosemite. Visit the App Store, and update your apps;
  • BACK UP… Have a new backup. I use Time Machine, and also back up important files to both Evernote and Dropbox, so I was OK;
  • Make sure that your computer can run Yosemite.

Once you’ve done all that, you’re good to go. Yosemite’s a 5 GB download, so the time to download depends on your connection. Once it’s downloaded, the install took around half an hour for me.

Once Yosemite’s installed, your Mac will run like crap for a while, as it optimizes things in the background. Expect this — don’t panic.

Next, visit the App Store again. You’ll see more downloads, now that Yosemite is installed. Install the apps. Yesterday, the Yosemite download was fast; the updated apps took forever to download. It depends on how many others are doing what you’re doing.

After all that, run your backup program again, now that you have a bright and shiny new operating system.

Back again: coaching calls

I’m back, and need to prepare for today’s coaching calls. I read through clients’ materials, and make some notes. Then it’s time for the calls…

With the calls done, most of my day is done. I do my daily review. I’ve still got the edits to read through tonight, but that’s OK.

, and on Twitter: @angee.

You can find Angela on Pinterest, and on YouTube, too.

7 Apps for Inspiration: Get Inspired to Create

7 Apps for Inspiration: Get Inspired to Create

Today, everyone needs to be creative. Whether you’re a writer, designer, or marketer – you need to create. Inspiration makes creativity easier, so when a writing student asked me about apps for inspiration, it made me think about the apps I use. Can apps help you to become inspired?

Apps for Inspiration: Get Inspired on Demand

Can you demand inspiration from yourself? I doubt it. If you try to force inspiration, you’ll choke. However, you can create the right conditions for inspiration to land on you – like the blue bird of happiness. :-)

I’ve come up with seven apps I use which help me to get inspired more or less on demand. The apps create the conditions in which you’re likely to become inspired. They’re in no particular order.

1. Evernote: Your External Brain – and Inspiration

I’ve been using Evernote since 2009. Over the past five years, Evernote has become more and more important to me. I especially like the Related Notes feature. When you start writing a note, Evernote offers you “related notes”. Occasionally, especially if you have lots of notes, Evernote will bring a real gem to the surface, which inspires you.

Most of my thinking happens in Evernote, simply because it’s always available both on my computer and phone. I snap images with the Evernote camera, send handwritten notes from Livescribe (more on Livescribe in a moment) and Penultimtate to Evernote, and record audio notes.

If I want to get inspired, I create a note in Evernote, and start searching and browsing. I write a lot of content, for my clients’ books and blogs, and my own. I wouldn’t be half as creative or productive without Evernote.

2. Penultimate: Take Handwritten Notes on Your iPad

Evernote bought Penultimate, so all your handwritten notes and sketches transfer to Evernote automatically, as soon as you create them.

3. Livescribe Desktop (Requires Livescribe Pen)

Much as I love computers, nothing replaces handwriting for inspiration. I’ve been using Livescribe pens for several years.

Originally, I bought the pens for interviews. It’s wonderful to be able to take notes, and record an interview at the same time, then play back ONLY what you need to hear. It saves transcribing, which takes time, both uploading audio, and then waiting for the transcription to come back.

Over time, I started to use the Livescribe pens and Livescribe Desktop to plan, take notes, and create initial drafts of my writing. You can send any Livescribe page to Evernote.

4. Tinderbox (Mac): Automatic Organization for Your Inspirations

The more you put into Tinderbox, the more inspiration you can draw from it. For me, the app works much like Evernote. I stuff material in, and related material pops out, firing my inspiration.

5. Scapple: the Endless Canvas for Ideas

I adore Scrivener, and have used it for years. Recently Literature and Latte released Scapple. It’s the perfect companion for Scrivener, and wonderfully inspiring.

The app gives you an endless canvas. If you’re stuck on something, start writing notes on Scapple, letting your mind drift, and make associations. Before you know it, you’re inspired.

6. Drafts (iOS): Grab Inspiration as It Flies Past

Have you noticed that inspiration usually strikes when you’re in the middle of doing something else? This is where Drafts comes in handy. Jot a few notes, and go back to what you were doing.

I used to jot notes on sticky notes, and on text notes. Invariably, I’d lose them. A week or two later, I’d remember that I wrote down something brilliant for Project X. I’d spend the next 15 minutes searching the piles of material on my desk, the notebooks on my shelves, and my computer. Then my devices. Could I find it? NO. Since I couldn’t remember what the heck it was, I had no search terms to search on.

After I discovered Drafts, it became my automatic scratch pad. Whenever I’m in the middle of something, and get inspired, I tap a few notes into Drafts. Later, I send the notes to Evernote, Dropbox, or email.

7. PicMonkey: Get Inspired With Images

I’m a writer, not a designer. Since I started to use PicMonkey I’ve found that it’s perfect not only to create images for blog posts and social media, you can use it to get inspired too.

Often I’ll start with a blank canvas on PicMonkey, and start doodling. Or I’ll drop an image onto PicMonkey, and start playing with it. Within five to ten minutes, I’ve been inspired. Try it yourself – it’s free.

So, there we have it. Seven apps for inspiration.

A tip: apps like Evernote and Tinderbox become truly inspirational once you’ve packed material into them. So stuff material in. Don’t worry too much about organization. Inspiration often happens with serendipity. :-)

The Easy-Write Process: Get Inspired on Demand

Want to get inspired on demand? It’s essential in 2014. The Easy-Write Process will help. It’s especially useful if you’re ruled by your inner editor, or tend to procrastinate.

, and on Twitter: @angee.

You can find Angela on Pinterest, and on YouTube, too.

Bluebird image credit

Productivity Tricks: Time Yourself

Productivity Tricks: Time Yourself

How often do you find yourself working hard, and achieving little? Usually this happens when you take your eye off the ball, so to speak.

An example. I’m ghostwriting a series of Regency romance novellas for a client, and I’m endlessly distracted by research — this morning I read about bag wigs for example. This took me on a journey of further reading, and before I knew it, I’d wasted 15 minutes on pointless research, since bag wigs were long out of fashion in the Regency period.

Obviously I have a problem with focus, so let’s look at some productivity tricks this week.

The first one: use a timer.

I’ve been using Repeat Timer Pro which is excellent. However, it doesn’t allow you to track your productivity, so I was looking for an app which would help me to do that. I’ve been hearing good things about Tomatoes (Mac), and since the app looks easy to use, I’ve just installed it.

Tomatoes app

Jens-Petter Berget said of the Tomatoes app:

I have full control over each day and how I’ll be working. Every completed pomodoro is archived. This way, at the end of the week, I can evaluate the week and how productive I’ve been. I’m also tracking all interruptions, to see what I can do to have more focus when I’m working.

We’ll see how it works for me. I’ve never followed the Pomodoro Technique in any meaningful way, but I do find that it suits me to work in 25 minute sessions for some tasks. You can work on anything if you know that a distasteful task will be over in less than half an hour.

When I first installed the Tomatoes app, I freaked a little, because I couldn’t see a clear way to edit the timers. In Repeat Timer Pro, you can set timers of various durations. I have a five-minute timer, for example, for free writes, which I do as warm ups for most projects, to clear my mind and help me to focus before I get started on a task.

In Tomatoes, you set one duration. I decided on 40 minutes, because 25 minutes isn’t long enough for most of my projects.

We’ll see how it goes by the end of this week; I’m hoping that using Repeat Timer Pro, and Tomatoes in combination, will help me to limit distractions, and increase my productivity.

If you’ve got a favorite productivity trick, please share. Leave a comment here, or on Google+.

, and on Twitter: @angee.

You can find Angela on Pinterest, too.