A group blog featuring an international array of killer mystery, suspense, and romantic suspense writers. With premises and story lines different from your run-of-the-mill whodunits, we tend to write outside the box. We blog several times a week on all topics relating to romantic suspense and mystery, our writing, and our readers. We welcome all comments and often have guest bloggers. All our authors can be contacted separately, too, using their own social media links.

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Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Electronic Notebooks

Join the authors and friends of Not Your Usual Suspects for an occasional series of posts about their world of reading, writing and publishing.

Short and sweet, hopefully both informative and entertaining - join us at I-Spy to find out the how's and why's of what we do.

TODAY'S POST: I-Spy Paperless Notebooks...





A few years ago I read an article about an attorney who had gone paperless in his law practice. The attorney used an electronic notebook: the Microsoft OneNotebook program. Intrigued, I checked my laptop when I got home. Lo and behold, OneNotebook was listed in my Microsoft programs. At first, I set up notebooks to contain research for a  book I was writing at the time.  Rather than filling notebooks/folders with printed material, I copied and pasted online material into labeled sections.

At the conclusion of the book, I realized I didn't have a mountain of paper to file or toss.  Hmmm.  When I began my next book, I decided to set up a full blown electronic notebook. They function like any other paper' notebook. You can have as many sections as you wish; above is a screenshot of the tabs I used for Her Dark Protector

Same thing for subsections; have as many as you need:

I now have an electronic notebook containing all the common templates I typically used, including a plotboard. 

The beauty is the 'page' is as wide or long as you need. The section grows with added material.  Photos can be copied as well.  Here's one of the research pages where I pasted a photo of the motorcyle ultimately used in Her Dark Protector.

An obvious benefit of an electronic plotboard is the portability. Grab the computer and go; all your research, charts, etc. at your fingertips. Use different colors, fonts, etc. to help highlight turing points and POV's. As I write/review/revise a manuscript, I'll note them like below.

Whenever I run across an intreresting online article about writing or other frequently used topics, such as criminal investigation, I send it to a special topic notebook.

I've become such a believer in the digital notebook that I now use them at work. With Outlook I'm able to send documents to the case notebook.  Have a document or pdf file you wish you could add to the notebook? One of the print options [at least in Microsof] is to send the document to OneNote.

Don't have Microsoft?  I googled and there are a number of electronic software progams available. In this digital day and age, an electronic notebook is a match made in heaven for organizing writing. Besides, think of all the trees being saved.

:) Carol Stephenson

Award winning author Carol Stephenson lives in southeast Florida with her beloved Shih Tzu. She's an attorney by day and author by night. She's best known for her emotionally drawn, hard-driving romances.  You can keep up with Carol and her books on her Web site at       

FUTURE POSTS will cover:

Kindlegraph / the art of research / writing male/male romance / rejection and writer's block / building suspense / writing love scenes / anti-piracy strategies / audio books / interviews with editors and agents / using Calibre.
We welcome everyone's constructive comments and suggestions!


Clare London said...

This was fascinating! I realise I've been doing this with sheets of paper and sticky notes, when I could do it on my computer :) And I thought I was quite tech-savvy *sigh*. I guess it's just a leap of faith, a culture change.

Toni Anderson said...

Me too, Clare. This is great, thanks Carol :)

Rita said...

Zowie! I never thought of using it for this. Dang Something else to learn. Thanks I'm off to check it out.

Anne Marie Becker said...

Great post! Always looking for interesting ways to organize my thoughts (especially if it involves color-coding). ;)

JB Lynn said...

I'd never even heard of these -- thanks, Carol!

(slinks back to cave)

Marcelle Dubé said...

Hmm... I dunno, Carol. Seems way too organized for me... :-)

Pamela Mason said...

I'm using OneNote now. It's very easy once you get the hang of it.

Carol Stephenson said...

Marcelle, organized is the last word anyone would use to describe me but I love not having to search through piles of paper. :)

Carol Stephenson said...

One thing I forgot to mention is with OneNote you can plug in a search term and find the topic quickly rather than scanning pages. :)

J Wachowski said...

Wow Carol--thanks for this post. I just recently started using Onenote. I think I'll try it with the next book I plot!

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