Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Dictation and Writing

Dictation and Writing

The most talked-about dictation software for authors is Dragon Naturally Speaking.  

After reading the reviews, it’s probably the best available. 

I would love to have it, but it’s not quite in the budget. Yet. 

With arthritis in my hands and fingers, typing isn’t always easy. 

I write in Microsoft Word which I subscribe to as part of Office 365.

Dictation Software You May Already Have

Imagine how thrilled I was to discover the newest version of Word now has a Dictate command. 

Does it work? Yes, but you have to be patient with it until it learns your voice. As with Dragon, you have to speak your punctuation. So you have to be patient with yourself, too, while you learn how to ‘write’ verbally.

In the newest versions of Word, the Dictate command is available on the Home ribbon. Click the down arrow below the Dictate command and select the language you wish to use. 

The first time you use the Dictate command, you’ll be prompted to enable permissions for your microphone.

To use the Dictate command, click it. The icon changes and displays a red dot. Speak into the microphone, remembering to speak your punctuation. When you’re through, click the Dictate button again to stop recording. 

Want to Learn More?

For more information, check out Microsoft’s Dictate your documents in Word

If you don't use Word, but use a Windows 10 PC, you can also dictate using the Dictation Toolbar in Windows. For more information on using Windows 10 Dictation, check Use dictation to talk instead of type on your PC.

Microphone Needed

You will need a good microphone for dictation. My personal choice is the Blue Snowball USB Mic. I purchased mine after I saw my daughter’s. I really like that the mic doesn’t have to sit right in front of your mouth. 

You can set it to be cardioid, omnidirectional, or cardioid with a -10 dB pad. I haven’t used the omnidirectional setting, yet, but with the cardioid setting, the recording is clear, and the mic doesn’t pick up background noise.

Do I use it? Not as much as I would like to. I’m still learning, and at this point, if a scene is flowing, I can type it faster than I can remember to stop and speak the punctuation as I go. However, I am practicing with it so that I can eventually do most of my ‘writing’ by ‘speaking’ my story out loud.

Do you use dictation in your writing? If so, do you use Dragon, Word, or some other method of dictation recording?


Need Some Binge Reading? Check out the Texas Ranch Wolf Pack Series!

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Tala Ridge Alpha Update

Tala Ridge Alpha Update

Since the lockdown started, we've been at home all but three days. 

Twice, two weeks apart, we went to purchase groceries. Once, we took a drive just to get out of the house for a bit. 

We didn't have the gas to go far, and even with prices low, we didn't want to stop for more. We saw several vehicles on the road but didn't stop anywhere. 

So, with all that time at home, you'd think I could get a lot of writing done. 

Truth is, I have gotten some done, but not as much as I wish. 

I've had to spend more time cooking (and washing dishes) than is normal, and I've been trying to get my sewing machine to work. It sews, now, but still has problems. 

I've been asked to sew masks for some local people, as well as other items. With my machine acting wonky, I'll get it done, it just takes a lot more time. I even thought about buying a new machine, but there's not a retail place within driving distance that isn't sold out of them.

Even so, I'm up to 23,159 words on Tala Ridge Alpha. Right now, I'm in the middle of writing the major conflict and climax. After that, I still have some minor conflicts to tidy up, as well as set up the next book in the series. I've run into a few snags, though. 

I need to contact a friend who has a background in police work to make sure I don't make glaring mistakes in the way I handle some upcoming scenes. It would be much easier face-to-face, but it will have to be done by phone. 

Here's a snip from my WIP, Tala Ridge Alpha:

Terrell stood on the second-story porch, clenched fists resting on the snow-laden rail, while he stared unseeing over the trees at the waning moon. Trying to remember his early life. Trying to remember the things the pack told him. He had no doubt they were true, but the events they related didn’t match his memories. Memories his father must have planted.

The lemony tang of truth had filled the room while the pack reluctantly told him about the night his father killed both Dana’s human mother and Terrell’s shifter mother. Ainle’s sorrow howled through his mind. In his distraught state, he couldn’t comfort the wolf. He had no comfort to give. Now, he had to find a way to tell his half-sister what happened to her mother. At least it could wait for a while since she left for Texas with her adopted parents over the weekend.

The door behind him opened, then quietly closed. Snow crunched beneath boots, but no one spoke. Terrell sniffed and recognized Josh. Though comforted by his friend’s presence, he perversely wished he was alone. He couldn’t believe his father did something so despicable. He knew the man was evil, but . . ..

Terrell sniffed, took a gasping breath, and blinked to hold back the angry tears that threatened. “How could he do that, Josh? How could he murder Dana’s mother and my mom? And then turn on the pack like that?”

Josh stepped up to the rail, one hand in his jacket pocket, the other holding Terrell’s jacket. Terrell glanced at the jacket held out to him, then turned his gaze back to the moon. The cold bit into his bare arms, but he didn’t want the coat. He didn’t deserve the warmth. Sighing, wordlessly letting Terrell know he was there if he was needed, Josh draped the jacket over Terrell’s shoulders.

One tear slipped through Terrell’s control and trekked down his cheek. “No wonder they’re so afraid of me. How do I fix this?” He spun to face Josh, his jacket falling to the snowy porch. “How?”

Josh shook his head. “I don’t know, Alpha.”

“Yeah. Neither do I.” He hesitated, then whispered, “He had to be insane. What if, what if I’m like him?”

“You’re not. King Nate wouldn’t have placed you as alpha if you were.”

Slapping mounded snow off the rail, Terrell stalked back inside. Ainle whined in his mind, but with the distress crushing him, Terrell didn’t know how to comfort either of them.

I hope you and those you love are healthy and safe.

Take care,

Texas Ranch Wolf Pack Series
Available in Kindle Unlimited!

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Need Low-Cost Entertainment? Consider E-Books!

My Kindle Fire

Need Low-Cost Entertainment?

With businesses and schools closed, reports are that many families are turning to books for entertainment and home education. The major problem with that is the cost.

The cost of a book is largely controlled by the manufacturing process. However, ebooks don't have as many costs as paperbacks, so they could be a better deal right now.


I read Amazon's Kindle ebooks on the Kindle Fire (see left) that I received as a Christmas gift a few years ago. Occasionally, I read on my computer screen.

However, Kindle books can be read on a phone, or on any device that can download the free Kindle Reader. These devices include Android, iPad, and Mac and Windows computers.

The Kindle App is available from the Apple App Store
Google Play, or download from Amazon for PC & Mac.
As of May 2019, Amazon had over a million books enrolled in Kindle Unlimited. Personally, my reading is almost exclusively on Kindle Unlimited (KU).

With a fixed income, I don't have the funds to purchase as many books as I read. Nor do I have time to travel back and forth to the library. Even if I did, our town library, like most others across the country, is closed until the pandemic is over.

So, for $9.99 a month, I am able to read as much as I want to read in a huge variety of genre fiction categories and even in nonfiction.

Non-fiction available includes cookbooks, how-to, business, self-help, educational, and more. Kid's books are in KU, too!

KU subscribers can borrow up to 10 books at a time, then return them to borrow more. As far as I know, there isn't a limit on how many you can borrow each month, just those 10 books at any one time. If there is, I haven't hit it, yet, and I read a lot of books.


Amazon is offering a trial membership free for 2 months.

Just to be clear, I am an Amazon Affiliate, which means if you click on the links in this or any other article on this blog, and then make a purchase, I will receive a small advertisers fee at no cost to you.

As a fixed income family, this is one of many ways I use to bring in a little extra income to help cover living expenses and the costs of producing my books. If you'd rather purchase from a clean, unaffiliated link, simply go to Amazon and search for the products you are interested in purchasing.

All but one of my books, Viper Pit, is available in Kindle Unlimited, and that one is available at Barnes and Noble at no cost. I've tried to get Amazon to reduce the price to match, but so far they haven't done so.

One reader told me she'd rather buy my books than borrow them so that I would receive royalties. The good news is that Amazon pays royalties to authors whose books are borrowed through Kindle Unlimited, too. For each page read, the author receives a fraction of a cent.

It may not sound like much, but it does add up. Most of my author income comes from the royalties I receive for borrowed and read books. So, it's a win for the reader and a win for the author, too.

My sincere and heartfelt hope is that you and your family stay safe and healthy during these trying times.

Take care.


Texas Ranch Wolf Pack Series