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Wet Noodle Posse | Blog

Monday, August 18, 2008

Tools that Inspire – Esri Rose

When I was a kid in Daytona Beach, Florida, one of my favorite things to do was go to the Pic ‘n’ Save with my Mom and Grandma. While they shopped, I would head straight to the office-supplies aisle and ogle the pens, pencils and notebooks.

If Mom and Grandma ran into friends, they might be a while, but when they finished, they knew where to find me. “We’ve been here forty minutes,” Mom would say. “Have you been in this aisle the whole time?”


I’m still inspired by the tools of writing. My desk is covered with brightly colored sticky notes and index cards, signing pens that coordinate with my book cover, and mechanical pencils that use .05 leads, not .07. For brainstorming, I like spiral-bound notebooks with holographic covers, decorated with stickers. Binders are for series “bibles,” and I make special pages to slip under the clear plastic covers. My friend Laura recently scored big points by giving me a set of highlighters shaped like little black cats. Oooh!

My accumulated tools act like a visual cue. I wouldn’t have all this stuff if I weren’t a writer. Stacks of filled and empty notebooks are tangible, weighty reminders of what I’ve accomplished, as well as the possibilities still out there. My lapdesk convinces me that writing is just lounging while you think and move your fingers.

This month, I acquired another writing tool -- one I learned about from a commenter on this very blog, months ago. Someone mentioned web diagrams -- visual mind-mapping tools. I’d never heard of them, but I found a review of some of the bestselling programs. But I waited to get one, because I was heavy into revisions, and I planned on using the program primarily for plotting.

I completed my revisions right before the RWA national conference. When I got back, I downloaded the free trial version of the one that looked far and away the best. You’re going to love this program’s name. It’s Inspiration, from

I did the tutorial first, with much Ooh! and That’s so cool! It’s simple and almost infinitely flexible, with layers that let you show as much or as little of the project as you want. Everything is in one place, from pages of text to hyperlinks, video and audio. And when you’ve connected your thought bubbles with lines and moved everything to where you want it, you can have Outline View transform it automatically, then print that sucker out as a synopsis for your editor. I am enchanted -- so enchanted that I not only started the plotting for my option book, but came up with a second book idea for my mystery series and have started plotting it. Now that’s inspiration.

Esri Rose's elven romance, Bound to Love Her, is on shelves now. You can read an excerpt at ElvesAmongUs.



At 11:43 AM, Blogger Delle Jacobs said...

I love the gadgets and doohinkies too, Esri. I favor colored bankers clips, heart-shaped post-in notes, fine-point gel ink pens and bubble wrap. And I have to have a stack of Priority mail envelopes or I feel unprepared.

Now I have to have my electronic inspirations too. I can't stand an obsolete laptop. Must have new software. Drooling over the latest Photoshop CS3 and will probably have to cut my fingers off to keep from buying it.

The thing I simply must have before going to Europe is the MSI Wind. At 2.3 pounds and 7x10 inches, it is the best micro laptop yet, and we have to have it so we can store all the thousands of photos we'll be taking on the trip. Or so I've told my hubby. He's not up on these things and it hasn't yet occurred to him there are jump drives and CD memory cards that can hold every pic we could possibly take.

But I have justified this slight diversion from reality with the obvious need to keep writing while gone, and my back clearly could not manage hauling around a 7 pound laptop, could it?

At 12:11 PM, Blogger Esri Rose said...

You're as geeky as I am!

Don't know the Wind. It sounds awesome!

This brings up a secondary set of questions I'm going to throw out there for anyone who wants to answer. How long have you had your computer, what is it, and when do you think you'll get your next one?

I've had my HP Presario letterbox-screen laptop for three years. I plan to get another year out of it, at least. Might have to replace the touchpad panel before then, as I have almost worn through it in one spot.

At 3:52 PM, Blogger Theresa Ragan said...

Oh, yeah, Esri. That's what I call INSPIRATION! I want one! Did you buy the software? Or did you do all of that with the tutorial?

I love office supplies, too! Stickers, highlighters, pens, index cards of every shape, color and size... Empty notebooks. I don't have enough of those.

Lots of luck with your mystery series!

At 5:23 PM, Blogger Esri Rose said...

Theresa: I'm still using my one-month trial download, but as soon as it runs out, I'm ponying up the 70 bucks. Did you do the tutorial? That's just a FRACTION of the cool stuff it does!

They should be paying me.

At 6:11 PM, Blogger MaryF said...

I'm all about the pretty journals and gel pens and colored stickies. My newest investment is a dry erase 4-month calendar with my deadlines and daily goals mixed in with daily life so I can see the big picture. It's nice to erase those daily goals as they happen.

I've had my refurbished iBook since April, love her even though she's slow. We have an iMac that is having screen difficulties, but we'll just repair it. The dh has a MacBook that we all love.

At 6:47 PM, Blogger janegeorge said...

Oh dear, I am now feeling like gadget-less Gidget.

I don't even have highlighters, much less cool kitty-shaped ones. I do love sticky notes, but mostly because they're, well, sticky. Sticky is fun.

Perhaps I'll give Inspiration a try. It might cure me of my half-filled legal pad habit.

Can anybody weigh in on the HP Pavilion laptops? Nope, no laptop, either, but I'm starting to look around!

Hope Europe provides lots of inspiration, Delle!

At 6:53 AM, Blogger Mo H said...

My computer is about four years old, a Dell desktop. I'd love a laptop, too. My first computer was a laptop. My husband and I bought it with leftover wedding present money. Other tools that are my must haves are spiral notebooks and black gel pens. When I get stuck I hand write. I'm very intrigued with the inspiration program you found. I may have to give it a whirl.

At 11:19 AM, Blogger Norah Wilson said...

Esri, I just downloaded that Inspiration software trial. What fun! I'm at the front end of plotting a fairly complex story, so maybe this is just the tool I need. Thanks!

At 12:01 PM, Blogger Esri Rose said...

Jane: I'm not too bad about half-filled legal pads, but like Mo, I usually hand-write when brainstorming. In the past, it's been a pain to go back through reams of handwritten pages and find goodies that I jotted down. What I'm doing now is going through my hand-written notes and entering good stuff onto the Inspiration map. It's keeping a complicated plot in my head, and giving me the sense that I'm not losing any good info. We'll see how it works.

I think the program is a natural for project and marketing plans, too. Someday you might see me offering a workshop in this program, at RWA National. I'd be happy to do it with someone else, if one of you guys gets hooked.

At 3:50 PM, Blogger groovygrrl said...

Inspiration is used in many public schools, to teach children about plot and how to outline. Because I don't write fiction, I would never have thought to use it. My outlines come to me almost done in my head--but that's the joy of nonfiction.


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