Saturday, July 29, 2017

Guest posts

This week I discovered one of my guest blog posts on another site had gone the way of all flesh:  carrion.

It was a post I'd worked long and hard on. It was a topic I wanted to reference again, here on this blog, and link to the earlier post.

Gone baby gone.

Given my recent mail management snafu, I was not hopeful that I'd saved the draft of the post.

But I had.
Thank all deities, large and small, I'd not only saved the final draft, I saved it with a title that was searchable (ie not Draft 2000 for L)

I'd saved it as the title of the post.

I was so happy to have found it I  might have yipped out loud.

What does this mean for you? A lot of you write guest blog posts when you promote your books. Make sure you keep the final, edited version, and you keep it a file you can search again.

Same if you publish short stories. The version you send to the editor may not be the exact version that's published. Make sure you keep the FINAL published version, and NOT just as a PDF but one that is copy-and-pasteable.

And you might keep a list of links you use to send people to your work, and test them periodically. I have no idea how long the link I'd posted here back in 2012 went to a dead site.  Hopefully not long, but probably long enough that one or two people didn't see the post they were looking for.


Carolynnwith2Ns said...

AND back up, back up, back up your files, in a cloud, hard copy or Aunt Alma's freezer file.
I have had to reach back thirty years for articles I've had to reference and I am amazed that most of it was out there somewhere. Handy, but like an ex-spouse you used to consider perfect and is now doing twenty years to life, it's kind of scary.

AJ Blythe said...

In 2015 my computer hard drive had a fatal failure. Because I had cloud and external hard drive back up I didn't lose anything (I also have another external hard drive which is a back up of my back up external hard drive - but it only gets done every quarter). I'm a tad paranoid.

Great advice about links and file names though. Must think more carefully about them.

OT... My 13yr old Barbarian has a homework project for English to use Campbell's hero's journey and apply it to a living person. He announced he wanted it to be a writer so has chosen JK Rowling. Wish I'd had fun projects like that when I was in school.

Susan said...

I've learned to back up all my files in all their forms in several locations because I don't trust technology, I don't trust the cloud, and I don't trust my memory.

There was a story I read once about Wilson Rawls who burned all of his manuscripts right before he got married because he was embarrassed/ashamed of them. His wife encouraged him to rewrite one of them, and he did completely from memory: Where the Red Fern Grows. I don't think I'll ever have the wherewithal to rewrite a manuscript from scratch, so I keep everything. Pretty sure this story--and the one where Hemingway left his manuscript in a suitcase on a train--feed my paranoia about losing my work.

Why do I feel like I need to turn three times, hop on one foot, and spit to keep from jinxing myself now?

Lisa Bodenheim said...

I've lived with a dicey laptop for a while...all of a sudden it freezes. My IT expert (my son) is able to recover most of my stuff. But I've learned. I save my most current WiP on my thumb drive and to the cloud. August is the planned month for purchase of a new laptop.

Kitty said...

Carrie Bradshaw had the same problem. The IT tech asked her, Did you back up your data? "Umm I don't do that"

Michael Seese said...

Tangential, years ago a friend almost lost her nearly completed BOOK when her hard drive froze, and she no backup. Luckily a little "percussive maintenance" brought it back.

Amy Schaefer said...

Yes - clear, searchable filenames. But also sort your work into folders as you save. Again, be specific. Create a sensible tree. It is so helpful when you are trying to find files down the road.

Mark Thurber said...

These are helpful reminders about searchable filenames and the importance of saving a final draft of any significant document in modifiable form.

When it comes to my WIP, I've taken to sending my latest version from one email address to another after each day's work. Yes, my computer is backed up on the cloud, but I feel better knowing my efforts are also captured on two email servers. My latest draft is always accessible even if I'm away from my writing computer, and sending my WIP to myself has become a satisfying ritual at the end of each writing/revising session.

kathy joyce said...

Great ideas all, thanks for the reminders. I'm not as good as I should be about regular backups.

Finishing cleaning out mom's house today. Then back to cleaning up MS. August is "finish it come hell or high water" month.

Have a great day all. Lovely weather in Michigan today!

LynnRodz said...

Susan, actually it was Hemingway's first wife, Hadley, who lost his manuscript on the train. She had brought along not only the MS, but the carbon copies as well. It sure didn't help the marriage.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Hey, Kathy August is finish the edits month for me, come hell or tsunami.

kathy joyce said...

Oooh, read Hemingway's Wife by Paula McLain. Historical fiction, it covers the briefcase on the train incident. I loved it!

kathy joyce said...

Sorry. Sorry. Sorry. It's called The Paris Wife.

BJ Muntain said...

*stands. coughs* Hi. I'm BJ Muntain. And I'm a word hoarder. *hangs head in shame*

I never let go of anything. I've even got little text documents of comments I've written out but decided not to post saved on my desktop. Because I put a lot of work into those comments, only to decide they weren't really appropriate at the time.

Every time I edit a manuscript, I save a new copy. Because I might want to go back and see what I changed.

I also have archaeological training. The past is important, people!

*sits down. cries*

Colin Smith said...

Here's the big question:

Janet: Are you going to re-post that guest post here, so you can link to it and make it available to your adoring fins... I mean fans? :D

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Another lesson I learned the hard way. 'Nuff said.

John Davis Frain said...

Oh, backing up files. Right. Yep, planning to do that tomorrow.

I'm busy killing more darlings today.

BJ Muntain said...

John MS Frain: You don't have to kill them, you know. Just put them in storage. Like I do. Because someday they may be able to be used.

I did mention I'm a word hoarder, right?

Jennifer R. Donohue said...

I still have the 3 1/2 inch floppy disks that my actual first novel is saved on. However, I don't think I have a computer that'll boot with a drive that'll read it, and that's providing the data hasn't degraded past the point of readability. So there's that. (I also have a lamp my grandfather, retired from IBM, built from old computer parts. The base is hard drive rings, the upright is the plastic pipe cables would've run through, etc. But I really don't think the data on those rings is retrievable at this point, if it wasn't wiped to begin with)

I recently had the problem where I could never find a story because the file folder was named with the original working title, not the title I'd been submitting it under. Then I reread the story and rewrote the story a little bit more, and decided maybe that original working title wasn't so bad after all! (fingers crossed)

Casey Karp said...

Oh, yeah. Backup, backup, backup.

My writing folder is continuously backed up to Dropbox (which is also hella useful for collaboration, by the way), which saves copies on two computers, two tablets, and my phone. It's also copied from my main computer to an emergency machine once an hour.

I use a gmail account for writing-related correspondence because they never throw anything away, even the stuff I delete.

Every draft is saved in case I want to go back to an earlier version, and I keep the printouts of the rewrites I do on paper.

And I still worry about losing files.

Joseph Snoe said...

AJ Blythe

The only writing assignment I remember from elementary school was writing "I will not kick my classmates" 100 times on the chalkboard while other kids were outside for recess.

And I didn't kick him. He ran at me. I lifted my knee to protect myself and he ran into it - and cried like the little baby he was.

Barbara Etlin said...

Ditto on the floppy disk saving, Jennifer R. Donohue. Not my novel, but several short stories and poems that I would've like to have saved. I could mostly recreate the poems, but the short stories are lost.

Joseph Snoe said...

2Ns shamed me into saving my WIP to a flash drive. It does seem like a good idea. (I don't want to lose those 100,000 words).

I used to send my WIP to my work email account about once a month just in case everything went bonkers at home.

One thing I did for a while but stopped doing was saving each revised draft. It just got too confusing keeping up with all of them so I now replace the prior draft withe current one.

Unlike BJ Muntain, I tend to cut or delete after I send emails, post here, etc.

Joseph Snoe said...

kathy joyce

I'm hoping I finish my major revision in August. I DID finish the major revision yesterday (except for completely revising (rewriting) an early chapter I've never felt happy with).

Then I must decide whether to hire an editor or professional beta reader, or just start the (ugh) query process.

It felt weird to finish, and I felt relieved enough I sailed through two sets of tennis this morning.

Julie said...

This is so ironic.

This week, as some of you know, I'm working on PitchWars. Some of you might also know that this hearkens back to that earlier blog entry Right Here Right... well, not now, a couple of weeks ago, actually... in which I mentioned a MS that someone wanted to publish for me. This made me WWC-ish (Wee Woodland Creature-ish, which is to say, anxious), and I turned here.

The response was a resounding, "NO! DON'T!"

So, I decided to pull the MS off the shelf, tighten it up, and maybe work with the PitchWars people before submitting it, since it is going to be a tough shop.

VERY first thing I did?

Like... Chapter One?

Wrote a new Chapter One over the Manuscript.

Thud. (That would be my head hitting the keyboard when I realized what I'd done.)

No, I didn't have a reasonable facsimile, as the last one had been saved over a year ago. And "previous versions" didn't work, either.

Long story short, what I HAD done was sent the MS to the agent who's handling the Mystery - and I recovered it that way.

Thank goodness for sent mail.

To wit - 1) THANK YOU ALL again for getting me back into the game with this MS, and 2) it pays to think of all the ways you can discover your saved files!

3) Glad you found your blog post, Reef Queen!


Julie said...

PS, Sharon Kay Penman had her Sunne in Splendour MS, 900 pages typewritten, stolen out of her car the first time she wrote it. It was years before she was over the heartbreak and rewrote it.

As Queen Janet says - BE RESOLUTE!!! :D

Craig F said...

If you have important things in e-mail, save them as documents. Both Microcrap and Applesauce are good at planned obsolesce. Last time my computer dumped I got stuck with a new e-mail. Nobody has been able to make it talk with my old e-mails.

I use an external hard drive and back up everything in my computer weekly. With luck I can just load all of that into a new machine and not spend two weeks personalizing it.

By the way, I still don't really trust the clouds.

Lennon Faris said...

I never knew sharks yip! The things you learn here...

Amen to this post. I lost everything a few years ago, almost a year's worth of writing and pictures. The saddest thing is, I'd been good at backing it up prior to that... I just slipped for 11 months and that's when it got me. Murphy's Law runs strong in my genes!

Now I email (to myself) anything I've been working on.

BJ, I 'word hoard' as well - I save everything. Sometimes (not often) I go back and use a sentence or phrase I liked from an earlier version, even if the story is now vastly different.

Dena Pawling said...

Last weekend I spent 5 hours writing a new scene for my WIP. Then in the car driving to work last week, I decided I didn't need that scene, at least not where I'd placed it. Five hours work..........

So I cut/paste it to my "deleted scenes" folder. I'm sure I'll use at least some of it in the future, maybe even in this same WIP but later in the story. So in that respect I'm a word hoarder too.

I email my working docs to myself at least once per week. And about once every quarter I copy my files onto a flash drive. This is probably "so 90s" and I need to get with the 21st century, but at least it's something.

Last night my daughter's phone broke. She lost EVERYTHING because she never backed up ANYTHING. Talk about teen-aged angst. She learned the hard way.

Julie said...

Craig, I don't trust the cloud, either. Esp since it was hacked or whatever term you want to use a few weeks ago.

Drives me nutty.

Frankly, what I trust is pen and ink - but then again, you look at the Sharon Kay Penman my-MS-was-stolen example, and there you go. Besides, I type faster than I write.

So I'm left with MS Word for right now, which leaves me with human error. And I've screwed up SOOOO many times...

Anyway. Save, save, save, save.
(Thinking) - I probably should back up my MS onto a thumb drive today...


Casey Karp said...

Julie, ouch! Glad you found a way to recover!

Joseph, for keeping each draft, I use a simple folder setup. There's a folder for the book and inside that there's a folder for research materials and one for each draft: Draft 01, Draft 02, and so on. When I'm ready to start the third draft, I just copy the whole Draft 02 folder to Draft 03. And, like Dena, I've also got a deleted scenes folder that I use when I go of in a whole 'nother direction.

And all of my backups are done automatically. That way there's no chance I'll forget!

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

For those of you who save to flash drives (Joseph), thumb drives or whatever the hell you call them, save one away from you home, office or wherever. Fire, flood, Lord knows what, might quash your efforts.

Adele said...

PLUS - store the backup in another part of the house! Or your car or your office. So you don't lose them both, as one of my friends did whose backup disk was still in the computer when thieves stole it.

kathy joyce said...

Joseph Snoe, Congrats on finishing! Not to be a wet blanket, but I queried a year ago. That would be the MS I'm "finishing" again! I'd say query a bit before you spend a lot of money on editors and such. If you're getting interest, that may be all you need. If it doesn't seem to be working, then think about spending $$. My two cents...

BJ Muntain said...

A friend used Dropbox to save everything. She didn't keep copies on her computer - Dropbox was not only her backup, but her storage.

Then, somehow, Dropbox lost all her stuff. All of it. She nearly had a nervous breakdown. Luckily, she had critique partners and beta readers who had copies of her work, and she was able to put most of it back in order. She now keeps a hard copy of everything as well.

Me, I use Dropbox, but it's more for access from my tablet than anything else. It's handy that it's a good backup, but I don't always keep it up-to-date, unfortunately. I should probably update it soon.

Casey Karp said...

BJ, you just had to go there, huh? [wince]

Just goes to prove that no backup method is perfect. Flash drives and hard drives fail, paper decays...

If you really care about something--as we all do, clearly--keep multiple backups in multiple places and keep 'em up to date!

Kate Higgins said...

I use jump drives, a terabyte external drive x 2, some optical disks and paper copies. I've lost stuff before now I don't take any chances. I've also seen the place where they store the 'Cloud' in Washington State.
We have Earthquake drills here regularly, guys! And we live between four (4) technically active VOLCANOES! So I don't trust the cloud.

PS I am not paranoid...just been there done that with missing files....

pss well maybe just a little...

psss one good way to save stuff is send it to yourself then it stays in the internet 'ether' until your retrieve it. Or send it as encrypted file to your best friend and keep that friend ;)

OK, bye

roadkills-r-us said...

For anything of any length and/or import, I write it in an editor on a computer (whose data is backed up elsewhere). I then copy and paste it into the blog, note, or whatever else I need. That includes blubs for my author socmed, contest entries, etc. I started doing this when I realized how easy it was to lose a nearly finished blog (or whatever) due to hot keys I didn't know about, browser crashes, etc.
If I need to check formatting, I do so, tweak it, then copy it back to the editor and re-save. Or tweak it in the editor, clone it to the blog (whatever), and repeat until done.
I highly recommend this approach. I very, very rarely lose anything of this sort any more.

Janet Reid said...

Colin Smith
Re: reposting the blog article that got lost.
Already did!
It's the one on non-commercial memoir from earlier this week.