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Jane Friedman's Electric Speed newsletter

A note from Jane

My father loved nothing more than a celebration. Even though he was Jewish, when he married my mom (not a Jew), he enthusiastically celebrated all the Christian holidays, everything from Easter to Christmas to the little-known holy days at our neighborhood Methodist church. It was his excuse to get out the camera, go somewhere, or invite people over.

I look for just about any reason to celebrate, too. But it’s been a tough year to celebrate in ways that feel, well, celebratory. In honor of our one-year wedding anniversary, Mark and I went to a winery for an outdoor lunch, but it ended up feeling like an uncomfortable and needless risk. Fortunately, he had another idea, too: he bought a Moleskine journal for us to annually record memories of married life together.

It’s an idea entirely uncharacteristic of my husband. He’s not the journaling type—at all. But somehow, the activity fits this time and place, and will offer rewards in the years to come (assuming we stick with it).

It’s kind of like how, this year, we were able to start gardening and keeping house plants, because we were no longer traveling so much. We bought a large compost bin to put outside, and a small compost bin for the kitchen. We’ve pulled out artwork we purchased on our many trips, finally framed everything and decorated the walls. We’ve made repairs to the house. We’ve improved how we work and live together at home.

So rather than celebrate to mark the time, we now compost. And wait.

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Jane

P.S. The most popular blog post at my site this month:
Where Novelists Get Stuck: 3 Common Issues With Early Drafts
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Jane’s Electric Speed List

Here are some of the latest things I’ve discovered. (I have not been paid to mention any of these resources.)

A beautiful new to-do app that’s week driven

My work life is intensely week driven, so when I saw Tweek, I was half tempted to drop Notion and switch over! (And I am in fact trying to duplicate its wonderful aesthetic and usability in Notion, which is fortunately flexible.) You can give Tweek a try without creating an account.

 

Luma: give Zoom registration pages a pretty face

I’m a big Zoom user, so I keep a close eye on third-party integrations with the service. The first one I’d like to mention: Luma. If you’ve ever noticed, Zoom registration pages are strictly utilitarian and not particularly exciting. If you’d like to have something more slick and personalized, Luma will help. It’s free for now.

 

How I generate closed captions for Zoom events

For the webinars I host, I’ve recently added closed captions to make them more accessible. I was surprised at how easy and affordable it was to accomplish this using Rev. Rev is already well-known for its human transcription services, but they also offer AI-based services that are much cheaper. Whether you need closed captions for meetings or webinars, Rev can help. I pay only $20/month for the service—a bargain. My thanks to Nancy Cavillones for letting me know about this tool.

An easy way to get a simple website up and running: Carrd

I’ve mentioned Carrd before in this newsletter, but it’s worth mentioning again because (1) not every tool like this sticks around, and this one is showing very positive longevity, and (2) it’s becoming popular for good reason. If you need a quick website for an organization, project, cause, or something else, consider Carrd.

Do I Need Permission for That? with Dr. Kelly Figueroa-Ray. $25 class. Saturday, September 26. 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. Eastern.

Next online class: Do I Need Permission for That? with Dr. Kelly Figueroa-Ray


On Saturday, Sept. 26: When writers realize that they need permission to use content, navigating permissions for that content can be one of the most frustrating parts of getting published. This class will alleviate that frustration by introducing you to important foundational knowledge of copyright and the concept of fair use as they pertain to mainstream/trade publishing and self-publishing.
Learn more and register

Your turn: Research tools and methods

In the last issue, I asked you to share how you research your novel or nonfiction book. Only a couple people responded, but they offered great insights:
  • My go-to is Google, using advanced search terms through Google Advanced Search. A lot will come up, but I always scan Wikipedia too. Wikipedia’s research gold is in the sections at the bottom that cite primary sources: “Sources” and “external links.” If Wikipedia’s cited magazine/newspaper articles are behind a paywall, I can usually access them online via my local library. Cited books can sometimes be borrowed electronically from the library or through Google Books, where I use its search engine for a narrow term to see if there are enough hits in the book to warrant buying it. And sometimes the hits bring up the bibliography, which suggests other books. —Cynthia Penney

  • I’ve been writing a series of books about southern France in 4000 BC. I get “in the setting” of the manuscript by using Google Maps to zoom in on old towns with dirt roads. I use the compass to look to the left and right. I often see grand river vistas, interesting hills, valleys and unusual rock formations. I’ve even found an ancient worship site that I describe in my novels. —David Allman
Next question: Do you have a favorite creator or retailer of paper greeting cards?

Upcoming online classes


🔒 September 26: Do I Need Permission for That? with Dr. Kelly Figueroa-Ray

🌱 September 27: Writing & Publishing at Any Age: Conversation with Martha Woodroof [FREE]

🚀 October 7: Blogging Strategies That Work in 2020 with Jane Friedman

✏️ October 21: Nail Your Memoir Structure By Thinking Like a Novelist with Allison K Williams

📖 October 25: The Foundations of Getting Published with Jane Friedman

👑 January 13: Query Letter Master Class with Critique with Jane Friedman

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Electric Speed is a free newsletter by Jane Friedman that launched in 2009. More than 34,000 subscribers receive it. You can support it by (1) sponsoring an issue or (2) sharing it with friends and colleagues.
 
“At electric speed, all forms are pushed to the limits of their potential.” 
—Marshall McLuhan
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