Software Review: AutoCrit

A few days ago, someone in one of my group lists mentioned an editing program called AutoCrit. I use critique groups for the most part. They’re very helpful with making sure the story flows and reducing distractions. However, critters are also very subjective. Sometimes that’s a good thing, sometimes it‘s not. In the end, it‘s up to the author to sift through all the critiques and determine which advice works best for their work. Then, the author ends up trying to incorporate the select advice into their work.

So, back to AutoCrit. How does it work for the author? For one, it‘s objective. It provides an objective assessment of the work and highlights problem areas. AutoCrit offers three Free Reports: Overused Words, Repeated Phrases, and Sentence Length Variation. Try them out now. The Overused Words report was what got me hooked. As a new writer, I’m not always sure what’s awesome writing and what’s just okay. I’m learning just like everyone else. AutoCrit is an excellent tool for new writers learning the trade and experienced writers looking for a quick tool to assess their work.

For example, many new writers overuse adverbs -ly words. AutoCrit determines an acceptable number of adverbs allowed in a piece, and when the writer reaches the limit, the software highlights it as a problem area. It DOES NOT recommend eliminating EVERY adverb, as a writer might find particular critters suggest. But it does recommend a reduction in the number of adverbs. It‘s up to the author to decide which to eliminate, if they choose. The same is for other overused words’ was/were,’ ‘ it/there,’ ‘ just/then,’ and many more.

Members receive added benefits: Repeated Words, Dialogue Tags, First Words, Names and Pronouns, Repeated Phrases Summary, Combination View of Overused & Repeated Words, *Cliché Finder, *Redundancy Finder, *Homonym Highlighter, *Readability Suite, *Change definitions, *Difficult Sentence, *Complex Word, *Pacing Monitor.

*Available only with platinum membership.

I had a difficult time finding editing software, and very few allowed users to try before you buy. One software, WhiteSmoke, I spent a bit of time with. Like AutoCrit it requires an internet connection. WhiteSmoke worked very much like the spell grammar check available in MS Word, but included additional feature. Not a bad program, but my experience with it seemed as if it were designed more for technical writing than creative writing. The suggestions were very formal, and not always accurate (like MS Word). If I were a technical writer, I might consider that over AutoCrit, but I’m not.

I also tried HEALaDoc; at least I loaded it on my computer. There seems to be some compatibility issues with some versions of Windows. Repetition Detection was another I tried. It‘s very simple program which does what the name says. I liked it, though it didn’t offer all the benefits of AutoCrit. Analyzer does what the title implies. However, it offers absolutely no suggestions, just statistical reports on your work. It‘s up to the writer to interpret the results and apply it to his/her work.

In the end, I found AutoCrit to be the most well-rounded software for my creative writing needs. But don’t take my word on it. Check it out for yourself. AutoCrit

So, what’s with all the extra highlighted words in my text today? I took the liberty of running this document through AutoCrit, and these are the results. Below are the suggestions AutoCrit had for me. Now this is not an all inclusive list, I only included the items with check boxes, and deleted the rest for brevity.

  • generic descriptions                            6 Remove about 5 occurrences
  • initial conjunction                               6 Remove about 3 occurrences
  • it/there                                            24 Remove about 19 occurrences
  • just/then                                             6 Remove about 3 occurrences

Edited 4/2/2012: AutoCrit has made a few changes since I wrote this review, but the program works virtually the same. Other than new and improved, the free trial allows access to all the reports instead of just a few. The main differences between the membership levels these days is the number of words the program will analyze at one time and the delivery options. Professional membership adds one more feature… the ability to add your own keywords to check for overuse. I’m quite fond of the word “hardly,” so that’s a pretty cool feature for me. 🙂

Anyway, try out AutoCrit. It’s served me well.

Contests and Giveaways: Short Post Asking for Advice

I started entering contests and giveaways this month. I’ve been very privileged to win many novels, as you can see by my growing reading list. I wanna learn how to do giveaways also. Please, if you have any advice, programs, methods, tutorials, etc. you’ve found helpful when doing giveaways, let me know. I’d love to try a contest giveaway this weekend.

Book Review: A Vampire’s Kiss Ch 1-3 by Laura Stamps

I won this copy in a contest. Thank you again Courtney from Paranormal Fantasies and author Laura Stamps. First a little about the book from Laura Stamps’ website:

The Manigault Vampires is a serialized, paranormal erotica series. It’s a spin-off from The Witchery Series trilogy and contains many of the same Witches and Pagans you fell in love with from that series. A Vampire’s Kiss  is the first novel in this series. Here’s what it’s about…

“Sara Gadsden is a Wiccan Green Witch addicted to paranormal romance novels and their gorgeous vampire heroes. Like most people, she has no idea vampires actually exist until she meets Drayton Manigault at a Samhain party. Dray is not only one of Columbia’s wealthiest businessmen, but he’s also been a vampire for the last 145 years. Oh, and he’s totally yummy. When Dray offers Sara a job working for his computer company, Manigault Technologies, fantasy collides with reality, and Sara’s future is suddenly transformed into one wild, smokin’ HOT ride!”

If you’ve read The Witchery Series novels then you’ve already met the heroine of this novel, Sara.

Took me a while to get in the rhythm of present tense, but that’s just a personal preference versus style thing. Once I made the transition, I was so into it.

I have to say, Sara was a vibrant character. Free spirit comes to mind when I think of her. I had a hard time relating to Sara. A bit chatty for my tastes, but hey! I don’t have to date her. On the other hand, she does make me miss my pre-marriage days when I scoped out men with the purpose of wrapping them around my finger. <sigh> Oh the memories. Anyway, one thing I did love was her little display of witchcraft. With all the research I’ve been doing on the topic, it definitely intrigued me.

Dray’s response to her was very authentic. He took everything she said in stride. Dray was the perfect gentleman (most of the time), and I loved it. His sexual responses were right on target. A lot of guys would act like a cad if a woman were sexually adventurous. Not my man Dray. He seemed to let Sara take the lead, only going as far as she wanted, never assuming more. XOXOX, Dray.

I wasn’t quite prepared for the end of chapter 3. It didn’t really feel like a cliff hanger, since I feel like I know what’s going to come. To me, it seemed more like the chapter ended in the middle of a scene. In my opinion, it would be equivalent to sending the first 30 pages to a literary agent with the last sentence incomplete because the sentence on page 30 trailed into page 31. Not that bad, but similar. 🙂 No biggie, chapter 4-6 are available now, so no need to wait to read the good stuff. Just order and download chapter 1-6 all at once.

Although I hate waiting for series (chapters in this case), it is nice to have a quick piece to read. Laura Stamps is offering this novel (3 chapters at a time) each month. If you’re looking for a teaser, check out the first chapter. Sign up for her newsletter, and she’ll keep you posted on when each installment is available.

Available at Amazon

Book Review: Rapture by Jacquelyn Frank

Normally I try to do some blog about writing on Friday. But since my post on Wednesday was more about writing, I’ve decided to jump out of the mold and do a book review instead.

It took me a while to get into this book. I’m not sure why, probably just preoccupation. I finally set myself to the task of reading it. And lucky for me, I found myself at the scene with the observation tower. I definitely took notice. So, the hook from Jacquelyn Frank’s website:

The Shadowdwellers live in a realm of darkness and sensuality, where order is prized and sin must be punished. Yet for Magnus, the head priest of Sanctuary, salvation rests with the one woman who will entice him into breaking his every rule…

SHE WAS HIS ULTIMATE TEMPTATION

Magnus is a man of contradictions—a spiritual leader in a deadly warrior’s body. Rules and order are for enforcing and visions must be followed—even if that means freeing a beautiful slave and making her his reluctant handmaiden. But she isn’t the only unenthusiastic partner. Betrayed once before, Magnus can barely bring himself to trust another woman

Yet everything about Daenaira’s fiery innocence compels him time and again to cross every line he’s ever drawn for himself.

Daenaira grew up hearing tales of the fearsome priest named Magnus. But no one can convince her that men of honor truly exist. She soon learns that Magnus is very real—every inch of him—and so is the treachery that surrounds them. Beneath Sanctuary’s calm surface, an enemy is scheming to unleash havoc on the Shadowdwellers, unless Magnus trusts in a union ordained by fate, and sealed by unending bliss…

 

I really enjoyed this novel. The political affair of the Nightwalkers is a central piece in all the Jacquelyn Frank novels I’ve read. This was no different. Oh the twisted webs we weave. Ms. Frank did an excellent job with the intrigue. I can’t say I had an idea of whodunit until the culprit stood up and said, I did it! One thing which did confuse me was villain behavior. Not sure why so many villains insist on letting their victims know they’re going to kill them before doing it. I know if I were a villain I’d so be into backstabbing.

I think I mentioned it once in Chatterbox, but I’ll mention it here again. Now this is just a preference thing. I’m sure others feel differently. However, I would have liked to have not jumped into some of the side characters’ POV. I’m sure their stories were important to the entire political aspect, but all I really cared about was the politics directly related to Magnus, not the twins. Any aspect pertaining to the Senate I would have liked to see from Magnus’ POV. But as I say, I’m partial to the main characters’ POVs only. Anything Magnus was not privy to could have been revealed from the stars of the next book, in my opinion. Especially since Pleasure is about Malaya.

Random Thoughts:

  • I did find it odd the characters often waited long periods of time before being forthcoming with pertinent information—weeks, months even.
  • I’ve been wondering what penance was like since book one! You teased me, Ms. Frank, and didn’t deliver. How I hope to see it in action. Maybe it’s just that I’m that twisted.
  • I absolutely LOVE the lessons in sex. Please teach me!

I’m hoping the next book will be the last of the Nightdwellers series and bring closure to the politics. Not that I disliked the Nightdwellers, but one of the things I liked about Jacqueline Frank’s lines is the series don’t drag on forever. I like closure. If Pleasure is the ending, I definitely can see myself starting the next series she has called The Gatherers.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book!

Available at Barnes & Nobles || Amazon || The Book Depository || Kobo || iTunes