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1/23/2014 3:11:55 PM
Formatting and Technical Help for Writers (Or: Saving Your Marriage, One Glitch at a Time)
First, I must say that my husband is very supportive of my writing. He’s done many amazing things for me including building websites for both my pen names, complete with tools even a monkey could use for updating it, posting blogs, and sending book release notifications.
On the other hand, since he is my husband and a high-level software architect-slash-consultant (or something), he can get annoyed with my tech-tardation fairly easily.
Typical trouble shooting session:
Me: Oh no! I can’t get this whatchamadoodle to make the thingy for me! Help me, I’m in the middle of a book launch!(Mr. Nina comes over to help.)
Mr. Nina: Okay, let me sit down so I can fix it.
Me: You always do that, but then I don’t learn how to fix it myself.
Mr. N: (With a sigh.) Okay. You need to download the blah-blah. (No, he didn’t say “blah-blah,” but that’s how it translates in my brain. It’s sort of like listening to Charlie Brown’s teacher.)
Me: The blah-blah? (My eyes flit desperately around the screen, looking for anything that says “blah-blah.”)
Mr. N: Yes, the blah-blah. (His voice says this is the most obvious thing in the world.)
Me: I don’t see a blah-blah.
Mr. N: No, you have to go to the blah-blah website and download the blah-blah.
Me: So which thingy do I click? (I see nothing that says it will take me to the blah-blah website.)
Mr. N: You can’t click anything here until you download the blah-blah! Just do what I tell you!
Me: I don’t know what you’re telling me! I don’t see a blah-blah button to click. I don’t know what to do!
Mr. N: Go to the blah-blah website! (He doesn’t say, “You moron,” but I hear it anyway.)
Me: How? How do I go there?
Mr. N: Type “Blah-blah” into Google! (He says it like it’s the most obvious thing in the world, and I realize it is the most obvious thing in the world.)
Me: You’re mean to me when you help me on the computer. (Hey, when you have no defense, go on the offense.)
Mr. N: I’m sorry. (I know he means it, even though he’s still trying to control his annoyed breathing.)
Me: Okay, I’m at the other site. What do I do now?
Mr. N: Download the blah-blah.
Me: Oh crap. Here we go again.
So, in the interest of marital bliss, I now use a third party to help me with some technical issues as well as my formatting. This third party is Terry Cotton who is now in the business of making writers’ lives easier inexpensively. (She can do this because it takes her a fraction of the time it takes me to figure stuff out.)
Terry is an old friend of mine, my actual BFF, who has held a number of technical jobs over the years. I used her before, during, and after my last book launch for a variety of jobs, including emergency tech support when my husband was in work meetings. It went so well, I suggested she provide this service for other writers. My husband seems relieved we don’t have to disrupt our marital bliss and his work day. (His exact words were, “Wow, she’s like the other half of your brain!”) And I’m relieved because Terry knows how to rephrase instructions into something I can understand.
Me: Terry help! It’s not working!
Terry: You need to download the blah-blah.
Me: I don’t know how to do that!
Terry: (In a calm, reassuring voice) Type “blah-blah” into the Google search page. Click blah-blah.com. Now, do you see the red button in the upper left corner?”
Me: Yes! I see it! I see it!
Terry: Click it. You are now downloading the blah-blah.
Terry has also formatted books for me, troubleshot website/blog issues, and used Skype to share screens and train me on how to use new technology. Drop my name and she'll help you too. (Okay, she'll probably help you anyway. I just always wanted to have my name dropped.)
My stress level has dropped just knowing she’s there for me, and I can spend more time in fiction world, away from all that icky practical blah-blah.