Microsoft Word … Bucking Bronco?

Microsoft Word (MS Word) is a bucking bronco. Writers are like cowboys—we need to learn how to break that bronc into a working partner. Skill in MS Word will save you hours of time and make your writing stand out to agents and editors. A small investment now in learning basic skills will pay huge dividends later, and you’ll have a mostly tamed mount to help you wrangle words.

I’ve developed a handout for a workshop I taught at the 2019 Midsouth Christian Writers Conference. As promised, I’m making the handout available online by clicking on the button below for the Hack of the Month. This is a copyrighted document, so please do not share it without permission. I’ll teach this course again, including one for building writer websites, at the Kentucky Christian Writers Conference June 20-22.

This document also has bonus material I didn’t have time to cover in the lecture, so Yeehaw! And remember…sometimes, no matter how diligently you wrangle, MS Word will buck you off and refuse to cooperate. In that situation, take my advice— build a campfire, enjoy the stars, and try again in the morning!

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Microsoft Word Workshop Notes



Design a Winning Writer’s Website

Fine, Rhonda. Okay. I know I need a writer’s website, and I’ve chosen a web host. I found a design template I like, but how do I know if the site I’m about to create will be effective and attractive?

Don’t worry, writer friend. I’ve developed a simple rubric to help you evaluate your site according to four criteria: design, function, creativity, and content. The handout also contains hyperlinks to sites you can study for inspiration.

Visit my website at, and click on the button “Hack of the Month” to download the rubric.

You’re welcome!

Why Writers Need a Website

I may be the only Rhonda Dragomir on planet Earth. Go ahead—if you can—name another! If you Google my name today, every byte of information is about me. I don’t even have to worry about search engine optimization. Several of those links will take you to websites I’ve designed, and before you email me—yes, I know I need to buy a security certificate for my author site. Perhaps your name is not as unique as mine, but what will a Google search reveal about you?
Why is it important to have an author website? I hope one day to sign my name with a flourish on a book contract. But before I do, I know agents and editors will be searching for my name on the web. They will want to see that I’m serious about writing as a career and that I’ve invested time and money in my “business.” I need a platform.
This is one of the “Nine Reasons Authors Need a Website,” an online presentation in a live webinar on Writers Chat. I will be one of three authors who will contribute to a discussion about websites in the coming weeks. The first session is tomorrow, August 14, at 11:00 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time. You may learn how to connect to the seminar by clicking on the Facebook Event link below. If you missed it, you may watch the video on the Almost an Author website.
Two more sessions are tentatively planned, one on the technical knowledge you’ll need to create a website, and a later one about how to find and produce graphics for a beautiful, engaging site. E-mail me if you’d like more details!

Making Chicken Soup

No—not the kind you eat, but the kind you write. I received notice this week that Chicken Soup for the Soul (CSS) will publish my story, Christmas Upside Down, in their 2018 Christmas anthology. This is the fourth time the editors have selected one of my stories for publication, and I’m thrilled! It was the perfect way for me to break into a national publication, and is an excellent opportunity for newbie writers.

Before you think this email is simply shameless self-promotion, I’d like to share with you the best tip I know for making Chicken Soup. I learned how to tailor my writing for success with CSS by attending a workshop at the very first writers conference I attended. It was taught by Tracy Crump, who has written stories included in 19 CSS books, and her coaching is simple and effective.

If you’ve not had the privilege of attending Tracy’s workshop, don’t despair! The course is offered online at Serious Writer Academy for a bargain price of $49. Click on the link below to visit the SWA website. No disclaimer needed—I won’t make a cent for this advice, but you might make $200 and receive a national writing credit.

Need encouragement? By following Tracy’s tips, cranking up my courage and creativity, and following through with submission, CSS bought my very first entry in 2016. If I can, YOU can!

Enjoy Tracy’s course, “How to Write for Chicken Soup for the Soul”

Merging Traffic!

You’ve done it! Your manuscript is complete! If you write like me, however, now you have a big task. I save each chapter in separate documents, and when I’m done I need to merge all those Word documents into one large file.

The laborious route is to open each document, select the text, copy the text, and paste it into the merged document. I already want chocolate just thinking about it.

Would you like a quick access ramp?

  1. Rename the files, if necessary, beginning with a two-digit number that puts them in consecutive order. For example: 01_Captivated, 02_Humbled, 03_Confronted, etc. This is a great way to name them the first time, by the way.
  2. Open your book template. If you don’t have one, e-mail me and I’ll share a template I’ve developed for Writer’s Lifehacks Insert your cursor in the document where you’d like to begin pasting.
  3. On the Insert tab on your tool ribbon, look for the “Text” group. Click the selection arrow beside “Object,” and select “Text from File.”
  4. In the dialogue box that opens, navigate to the file folder on your hard drive where your numbered chapters are listed. Hold down the CTRL key and click your mouse on all chapter files. When all are highlighted, click the INSERT button. Yellow light: Word will insert files in alphabetical order by file name. If you skipped step one, expect a traffic jam.

Don’t forget to look through your manuscript for line spacing issues, but you’ve saved a lot of time and effort!

Are you grateful? My favorite chocolates are Lindt Milk Chocolate Truffles. In lieu of chocolates, you could recommend this newsletter to a friend!

Have You Experienced Synopsis Baldness?

If I’m bald the next time you see me, it’s because I’m writing a synopsis for my historical romance novel, Beloved Unaware. This is my first attempt to complete a submission for an agent, and he requires a synopsis, the bane of most writers’ work.

I’ve searched the internet, read multiple articles and I have as many questions as ever. Some experts preach, “600 words, max.” I have a hard time writing about breakfast in 600 words! Others say it can be as long as seven pages. There seems to be no industry standard, but I assume I should make it as short as possible.

A tuft of hair has disappeared every time I cut a hint to a favored sub-plot, the name of my favorite secondary character, or the most emotive words of my heroine. I tighten, tighten, tighten, and pluck, pluck, pluck!

The most helpful article I read is by Caro Clark, titled, “The synopsis: what it is, what it isn’t, how to write it.” I suspect she didn’t use correct capital letters in her title because she was brain weary from writing her own synopsis. Anyway, I highly recommend her method. It worked for me! Click on the hyperlink below and save yourself some hair.

The synopsis: what it is, what it isn’t, how to write it

Websites–a Must for Authors

“I don’t know how.”

“I’m too busy writing.”

At a recent writer’s conference I attended, I sat at a display table advertising services I provide for authors and businesses. I often asked attendees, “Do you have a website?” The answers above were typical of those I engaged. Whenever I received a negative answer, I offered them a handout I’ve prepared, “10 Reasons Authors Need Websites.” You can click the link below to download and view a copy of the handout.

Sometimes the “preacher” needs to listen to his/her own sermon. I had a website for my business, but NOT a dedicated author website with my name as a domain. I heeded my own advice! I’ve worked diligently for three weeks learning a new program, WordPress. I’m ready for folks to visit my site and give feedback, but be nice… I’m still on a learning curve.

My exhortation to you today – don’t be confused by thinking is the same as That mistake cost me both time and money. If you want to learn how to build a website, I highly recommend this YouTube video: Learn WordPress Step by Step.

The video is long, but I followed every step to build my new site, which you can view here: Happy building!