As a Writer Do You Have a Backup Strategy?

Let’s talk about backups. Specifically backups for writers. I have to start by asking, “Are you actually backing up your documents and manuscripts?” And, I have to point out that autosave on Microsoft Word doesn’t count. A backup of a document is by definition a secondary location for your document. Thus, if anything happened to the first location, you could then go retrieve your backup. I use layers of backups. Four to be precise. Any single backup strategy will ultimately fail. I’ve worked in the IT industry for almost 30 years and I’ve seen brand new hard drives fail. So, you have to ask yourself, “In the event of a disaster, what am I comfortable with?”

First, I use Dropbox for my Scrivener. While not a true backup, it enables me to do other things like access the files from multiple locations and provides some security (read: secondary location of my files) if my laptop fails, which I know is another topic we should cover.

Second, I have Scrivener set so that when I close my project, it backs up my project to a folder on my local drive. “But that isn’t safe!” you might be thinking. Well, it enables both of my other backup strategies to be successful. I also compile my draft regularly and store it in a separate folder. This way if I somehow corrupt the Scrivener file and hose the backup, I still have my draft. I compile as my last act before closing my project so worst case, I am only out one day’s effort and if I do it the end of each day, I’m only out what I just worked on so it will be fresh.

Third: Apple Time Machine. I have an external hard drive set up as my Time Machine, and I do bi-weekly full backups to it. This is everything on the mac: apps, docs, everything. “But, why not all the time?” I don’t need everything backed up daily on Time Machine because of my fourth tier of backup strategy.

Finally, Code 42’s CrashPlan. This is a cloud service (yes, on somebody else’s computer) that does constant incremental backups. There is a service that watches files (like this one) that get saved, then it queues it up to be backed up. I can access files through their app and if I have a hard drive failure, they have a service where I can get a new hard drive fed-ex’d to my location with all of my files on it.

There you go. It might seem excessive, but my back up strategy for writers protects me from Fire/Flood, Theft and lightning strikes. If I can get access to the internet, I can keep working. My backup strategies are part me doing something, and part automatic. Thus, even if I forget a step, I’m still covered.

 

DragonCon 2019 AAR

This year I stayed at the Westin. It is a fairly nice hotel and I stayed on the 61st floor. There were some oddities. First, the shower curtain didn’t reach the tub so the bathroom flooded with every shower. Next, the head of the bed is on the door side. This means you directly hear any hall noise. The room itself was nice and the elevators were super responsive, even more so if you compared them to the Hilton or Hyatt.

We flew in on Wednesday. It was great seeing all of the folks that made it in a day early. This was the first year I worked a booth for Shadow Alley Press. So, it was good to be able to load in Wednesday evening as soon as James Hunter showed up with the van over-loaded with books.

I had a great time with Kevin Ikenberry, Jeanette Strode, James Hunter, Ronnie Virdi, Jay Taylot and Dawn Chapman. One really notable thing I have to point out is that the GameLit/LitRPG folks are a fun and entertaining group. Two years ago I couldn’t spell LitRPG. Now I was having a beverage with some of the literary giants in the space. They didn’t know me from Adam and accepted me as a friend.

Thursday was DragonCon registration and  booth setup. The line was incredible, but as incredible as N.H. Paxton and Zack Reisley who jumped out of line to walk the quarter mile back to be in line with me. The line moved quickly (due to the awesome company) and we headed over for booth setup.

Jeanette was the Mistress with the plan. She cracked the whip and set up a great booth. I love the layout. It is a U shape inviting people into the booth. Thursday evening I ended up hanging with Tracy Cembor, fellow Superstar, as well as Dakota and Danielle Krout. My buddy Matt May got in Thursday evening and a group of us went over to Meehans.

The Weekend was a blur of booth, panels and the Westin Bar. Friday kicked off at the booth. Then I was off to the Four-Horsemen Universe panel. I had food. I know I did I just don’t remember what. At 8pm was the Fantasy Gather. After that was the ‘No Sh#$ there we were’ panel with Michael Williamson, Kevin Ikenberry, Griffin Barber, Mike Masa and Casey Moops. It ran two and a half hours and was pretty hilarious. I’ve been to three so far and each has been a riot. I totally encourage catching one. I stopped in at Speaker’s Seakeasy. It was pretty crowded but nice to see Mel Todd. I ended the evening at the Westin Bar.

Saturday was the Baen Roadshow as well as the DragonLance, 35thAnniversary panel. It was great seeing Larry Elmore and Tracy Hickman. The DragonLance books came out in a period of my life where I was going through a tough time. The rich world and characters provided a great escape. It was nice hearing the story behind everything. I knew that TSR went through some upheaval, but I had no idea of the uphill battle that Hickman and Weis had to fight to get DragonLance out and into my hands.  Dinner at Gibney’s with some amazing friends (Doug, Patric, Matt, Zack, JD Astra, David Cole) and my much desired Sheppard’s pie. We retired to the Westin bar for drinking, dancing and a photo op with Spawn. Saturday night/Sunday morning had me up with Chuck Gannon, Stone Sanchez, Colton Hehr, Katie Curtis and Kevin Ikenberry. 3:30am.

Sunday was a pretty faced paced day. Booth in the morning then the LitRPG Gala. The late afternoon was consumed by the excitement of the Dragon Awards. It was fun to see friends and be with them as they rode the roller coaster of emotion. Some won, some lost. All-in-all, the readers won. Amazing authors and wonderful books. Sunday night, Shadow Alley Press had their dinner at the Sundial restaurant on top of the Westin. The food was amazing and once I relaxed from my fear of heights, the view was spectacular. I ran from the dinner to my first ever panel at DragonCon: The Fantasy Dating Game. I had participated on that with Chris Kennedy at FantaSci and it was fun to reprise my role as the Bachelor looking for literary love.

Monday was the last day for the con. I hit the booth delivering much needed respite in the form of Starbucks, then jetted to a panel on my quest to see Michael Stackpole. The panel was on Novel Gaming: Books Based on Games. It was a great to see the different perspectives. And, also great to finally meet Michael Stackpole even if it were for 5 seconds. (I need to have a longer conversation with him)

A quick trip on MARTA to the airport and through security found me in the PFChangs with Kevin Ikenberry and Griffin & Heather Barber. They were wonderful late lunch/ early dinner companions. Then an uneventful flight and I was back home in Colorado.

If you get a chance to attend DragonCon I encourage it and I have 3 tips:

  1. If you see something you want to buy, get it. You will never see it again.
  2. Go to the panels. Meet your heroes. Their stories are amazing and they won’t be around forever
  3. Talk with people. You don’t have to drink alcohol, but you can be sociable.

 

Superstars Writing Seminar 2019

This month I attended Superstars Writing Seminar put on by Kevin J. Anderson, David Farland, Eric flint, James Artemis Owen and guests including Kevin Ikenberry, Jim Butcher, Donald Maass, Angie Hodapp, and James A. Hunter. It was held at the Antlers Hotel in Colorado Springs.

This is a four day conference including the ‘Craft Day’ which is an add-on pre-register event. During craft day I had worldbuilding with Donald Maass.  He goes through a rich textured method for building your world and structuring the approach to the story. Donald really focused in on some of the more advanced writing techniques.

In the afternoon had an amazing session with the talented Angie Hodapp instructing us on ‘How to write tension packed dialog.’ In that workshop I learned how to structure a dialog with the intent action and tension.

Not only do you get amazing sessions with Eric Flint on Contracts or Careers with David Farland or Amazon marketing with James Hunter, you get to meet giants in the indie world like Michael Anderle or Dakota Krout and hand with them in the bar.

This was my third Superstars and over the last two years I have met hard working talented authors who are willing to share what they know with the sole purpose of getting you to succeed. This is truly the seminar on the business of writing. If you have a desire to learn how to be a better author, this is the seminar to be at.

You can find more here: https://superstarswriting.com

 

Barcon

Barcon is the event that happens in the bar after the conference sessions. I’ve been going to writers conferences pretty regularly of the last two years. I have experienced that the most interesting discussions and conversations happen at bacon.  I’m not knocking the information the presenters give out during sessions. Great people doing great presentations. But, sitting in a room while a person is up at a podium is not comparable to sitting at a small table having a beverage with that author, agent or editor. And it isn’t about pitching your book. It’s about forming a relationship. About hearing how an editor got into comics when they were young. Arguing about the best place in the Bronx to get a slice. Or discussing the ingredients of meatballs with an author. Next convention, go to barcon. Make friends. Hear stories. Tell story. Just don’t pitch one.