Mastering Word for Fiction Writers

Register now at Author E.M.S. for the next presentation of Mastering Word for Fiction Writers.  Starting August 3oth, four weeks, $40.

Course Outline

Mastering Word for Fiction Writers covers six major subjects in twelve bite-sized lessons.


  • Basic Styles
  • Headings and Title Page
  • Document Map and Table of Contents

Formatting for eBooks and Print books

  • Parts of a book: front matter, chapters and scenes, back matter
  • Headers and Page Numbers
  • Margins and Gutters
  • Chapter Breaks and Section Breaks


  • Basic Find and Replace
  • Find variations of “to be”; e.g. is, was, had, been, being
  • Find “ing” words
  • Replace formatting, e.g. change all underscore to italic
  • Replace special characters, e.g. replace double dashes with a long dash

Proofing: Spelling, Grammar, and Writing Style

  • AutoCorrect
  • AutoFormat
  • Highlight grammar errors as you write
  • Correct common typing errors

Track Changes

  • Simplified tracking of critique and beta comments
  • Manage manuscript version

Increasing Your Efficiency

  • Using Templates
  • View your manuscript in different ways
  • Modify Styles and update old manuscripts
  • Trouble-shooting techniques

Register now at Author E.M.S.

Why Do You Need to Master Word?

There are cheaper word processors than Word. And there’s Adobe’s InDesign, the best in the business but also very expensive. However, Word has universal acceptance from all of the agents, editors, reviewers and retailers that you’ll encounter while getting your book to market.

Mastering other functions in Word will make your writing life more efficient. You’ll easily find and correct spelling and grammar errors, enjoy hassle-free critiques and beta reads, and move fluidly through your document.

If you’re self-publishing, you’ll have a clean manuscript that can be easily converted for eBook publication or printed book production.

Comments from Previous Participants

When using “find”, I used to be afraid of clicking on “more” because it seemed so confusing – now I actually know how to use it instead of staring at it, wondering, and then clicking “cancel” in a panic. ~Wendi S

Joan’s workshop was not only very well-paced, but it was also formatted to allow participants to progress on their own speed. Thank you for the useful resources and for such a well-prepared course. ~Debbie H

I love it. It has been so helpful. You answered all my questions extremely well. ~Marion B-B

I didn’t know some of this stuff, and I’m pretty good with Word. Thanks, Joan! ~Gina G

Good use and explanation of jargon…very clear instructions…you built on the basics, a good approach for learning… excellent instructor knowledge. Just wanted to say it was all good. Thanks, Joan. Even those of us who ‘know it all’ can learn something new. ~Susan H

Joan is an excellent instructor! I highly recommend her course. Even if you are already familiar with Word, you’ll be sure to learn something new! ~Martha R

Mastering Word for Fiction Writers is suitable for ALL levels of expertise. Go from “What if I do something wrong?” to “I know that!”. Add to your tool box and bump up your efficiency.

Register now at Author E.M.S.


Off to Nationals

Handmade HatsThe Romance Writers of America is holding their annual conference, this year in New York from July 22nd to 25th.

I’ll be there with three hats on:

  1. Joan the Contemporary Small-town Romance Writer,
  2. Joan the President of the Romantic Women’s Fiction Chapter of RWA, and
  3. Joan the Word Expert and Formatter at Woven Red Author Services.

If you’re attending Nationals and you’d like to discover more about the RWF chapter, please join us in the Broadway Lounge on Wednesday, July 22nd at 8 PM.

If you’d like to chat about writing or get some help with Word, please use the form below to set up a meeting. Or flag me down whenever you spot me.



© 2015, Joan Leacott
image courtesy of Sura Nualpradid at

What I Learned at My Own Workshop

Have you ever wanted to design your own print books? I did, so I taught myself how. And recently, I led a workshop to teach others.

At the most recent gathering of the Toronto Indie Publishing Meetup group, I presented the FIVE MUST-HAVE TECHNIQUES FOR DESIGNING YOUR OWN PRINT BOOKS.

An exciting group of authors attended—newbies, self-pubbed, and hybrids—happy to network and connect. But the computers… not so happy. My PC ignored the projector. Sigh. Fortunately, organizer Michael came to the rescue with his own laptop. But… mine’s a PC and his a Mac. Would worlds—I mean, operating systems—collide?

I’d laboured over the PowerPoint deck. Would it work? Would it transfer? Would it be legible? Anytime you move a document to another computer, if that computer doesn’t have the same fonts installed, it’ll substitute some boring default.

It opened! Hallelujah! With my gut in knots, I scrolled through the document. All my lovely font choices had converted to Arial. Oh, no!

I zipped through the content—the learnings remained.


With a deep breath, I began my presentation. It’s smooth sailing, until we get to the segment on sexy fonts. They’d all gone from sexy to boring.

But never fear!

I had hard copy of my work with me and was able to hold up books and pass them around.

We all know how important fonts are to cover art, but they can also be used to great effect in your interior. Here’s an example from Karen Blake-Hall’s You Are Mine*. The villain sends messages with letters and words cut from magazines and newspaper. How do I make this stalker tale more visceral, more creepy?

By reproducing the note visually in the print book.


As a self-pubbed author and book designer, I strive for a professional look in the print books I craft. I study blogs and books, desperate to avoid the dreaded “self-pubbed” look. I follow the advice of experienced professionals, especially Joel Friedlander.**

But as I was showing off Karen’s book to the Meetup audience, I had a major AH-HA moment.

I can engage the reader in a way that big publishers rarely do.

Can you imagine an interior designer for a big corporate publisher being allowed to sift through hundreds of fonts to choose something as significant to a story as cut-out lettering?

Maybe if you’re Dan Brown or Stephen King, but for the rest of us? Uh… no.

Would they allow anything other than italics for a hand-written note? Or irregular spacing to mimic a real person’s note?


Nope. Not happening in a big shop.

Definitely happening in my small shop.

Have you ever considered your font choices when designing your print book?

See more examples of my work at Woven Red Sampler Page.

My favourite source for free fonts is Font

**Find Joel at

*Connect with Karen Blake-Hall.

Join our merry band of Toronto Indie Publishing.

Thanks to Micheal McPherson for organizing, and saving, the day!

cross-posted from Woven Red Author Services

© 2015, Joan Leacott

WORKSHOP: Get Word Working for You

Wednesday May 6, 2015, 6:45 pm to 8:15 pm
George Locke Library Meeting Room, Toronto

link to Meetup
Regardless of your path to publication or your genre, all fiction writers have one thing in common–we need to create a clean, error-free manuscript for professional editing, uploading to retailers, and sending to printers. The first step is to get Word working for you. The workshop will include an overview and, time permitting, a live demonstration of the must-have Word techniques: Styles, Margins, Headers, and Section Breaks. Don’t fight your book, write your book.

Register at

Texture of Accomplishment

LonghandAndTeaIn early August, my laptop turned into a beast. It chewed through time like I chew through licorice whips. Snap, munch, yum, next hour, please.

It’s not like I was perfecting the craft of procrastination. Honest. I was working. I designed book covers, formatted ebooks and print books, updated webpages, created a whole new website. I was crazy busy and still not getting any writing done. Every morning, I put my butt in my  chair, and my hands on the keyboard and did everything except write story words.

And I was getting madder and madder at myself.

Then, I read a productivity book. I don’t usually like self-help books. I find most of them a little too “magical elixir” if you know what I mean. Just do precisely what the author says and you’ll sell a million books, lose a pound every time you blink, AND rule the world. Yeah. Right.

Anyhow, my dear friend Gina Storm Grant gave me this book. Gina has a very sensitive BS meter, so if she thinks something’s good, I believe her. So this book is The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg.

Talk about a whole new way of looking at your habits, good and bad. In the early chapters, Duhigg talks about the habit loop; cue, routine, reward.  A craving initiates a cue that prompts us to perform a routine that gets us a reward.

Here’s an example from the book; I hope I’m paraphrasing correctly. At work, in the middle of the afternoon, a woman is craving stimulation; she’s bored. She goes to the cafeteria, gets a doughnut and chats with her friends. She leaves the cafeteria feeling refreshed and ready to finish the day. However, she’s slowly gaining unwanted pounds.

Duhigg focuses on changing the routine of the habit loop. The craving is still satisfied, but without the unwanted side effects. Instead of going to the cafeteria, the woman goes for a brief walk, or chats with a friend at her desk.  The woman still satisfies her craving for stimulation, but doesn’t gain the weight.

For me, in the mornings, I craved the stimulation of creativity. My routine was to go to my desk and create all kinds of things. I was happy with what I’d created. My dilemma was there were no story words piling up on the page. So I changed my routine. Instead of going to my desk, I stayed at the kitchen table with my coffee and wrote my stories longhand. No distractions from email, Facebook, loops and groups, GIMP, WordPress etc etc. I wrote 200 pages of story, filling one notebook and making a serious dent in another.

Two hundred pages.

Totally blew myself away. Still can’t quite believe it.

So did this change of routine work for anyone else?

Here’s why Gina recommended the book: “At the time I sought out The Power of Habit, I was spending 10 hours a day at my computer, but rarely feeling I’d accomplished as much as I could have. I was also trying to form better eating habits and spending more than $50 a month at Weight Watchers to do so. I found this book helpful in both endeavours. I now accomplish more in my day and lost a total of 25 lbs.”

This is what my friend Wayne Tedder said after he took my suggestion and had been writing longhand for a while: “My heart opens up and expresses itself when I’m holding a pen. Since neither my heart, nor my pen, have a backspace key, or the ability to cut and paste, my word count while writing longhand always eclipses what I can accomplish at the keyboard. In writing longhand, I often feel that I’m not only writing a poem or story, but like I’m composing the music of my heart.”

Wayne is also the source of the title of this post. Don’t you just love those words? The texture of paper does change when it’s loaded with words, and so does the sound it makes when you turn pages. It’s such a tangible marker of progress. Somehow, more real than a number on a screen.

It’s tough job to change a habit. Understanding habit building, breaking, and rebuilding will help you get the job done.

There’s no magical elixir involved.

You can get The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg on Kobo, Amazon and other fine retailers. Gina and I recommend it.

© Joan Leacott, 2014

New Name, New Home, Same Great Course

Tips 4 WIPs + POD has a new name and a new home.

You can find Mastering Word for Fiction Writers at Woven Red Author Services. While you’re there, register for the next online class at Savvy Authors using the link in the sidebar.

On our new home page, you’ll find a Quiz to Test Your Word skills, a Tip Sheet for eBook Formatting, and a Reference Guide for Print Book Formatting.

So come on over and click around the new place.

link to Woven Red

© Joan Leacott 2014

Snakes Need Safety, Too

HalfRattlerI was out for a walk along the shores of beautiful Georgian Bay and came across this poor creature.

The massasauga rattler is a threatened species. It’s kind enough to tell you when you’re too close. Just back away and leave it alone. Choose another direction for your walk. Don’t kill the snake. He deserves a peaceful home just like you.

For more information, check out