At our house, we love our Amazon Echo.

I use the Echo all day and have for more than a year now. We play Daily Jeopardy and the National Geographic Geo Quiz every night, use it to time baking or just about anything, and I dress each morning listening to my Daily News Brief. I am a bit of an automation geek, so when I read I could voice control my home automation through an Echo, I could not resist. Now I tell my Echo to turn lights on and off, raise or lower the thermostat, lock my doors, and set the speeds on my ceiling fans. So, I guess it’s not surprising that I also use Alexa in my daily work and writing.  

Last week on Facebook, our own Riley Darkes was super excited to have just purchased a new Echo on Amazon Prime day! Woop, woop!  It turns out a lot of authors did as well. So I figured I would share some of the cool things I do with my Echo to help my writing.  I hope some of these are helpful for you, too.

One of the neatest new things in Alexa is being able to enable skills by telling Alexa “Alexa, enable <skill>.” That’s a bit of a time saver so for any of the skills below that you like just say “Alexa, enable <Skill Name>” and you are ready to go!

1) Use Alexa “Tell me something”  as a writing prompt.

This skill does not need to be enabled. Just ask her to “Tell me something”  I got hooked on “Tell me something” a while ago. I’d be sitting at my desk, staring at the page and not writing. I was not sure where my story was going. I was stuck.  So, I asked, “Alexa, tell me something.” You always learn something new and often unexpected. For example, that horses have an official birthday,  January 1 in the northern hemisphere and August 1 in the southern. Who knew? Or,  In the 1800’s a  Paris orphanage held a raffle in which babies in need of a home were sold to raise money.

How about that for a writing prompt!

2) Get writing reminders from Daily events

You can easily connect your Calendar to your Echo account.  Once you have that you can ask your Echo for reminders of your calendar events. I set up a daily writing reminder in my calendar for every day at 3 PM (Did you write today?) and when I ask Alexa, “What’s on my calendar today” She replies “Did you write today?” You can also add events to your calendar by telling Alexa to “Add an event to my calendar”.

3) Add your story notes on the fly

Do you write and leave sticky notes about your characters, setting, or anything all over your computer. Free your monitor from stickies with My Notebook Note TakingSkill.  

This skill allows you to add a note to your Evernote or One Note notebooks. I am an Evernote nut, love that tool and use it for research, recipes, characters, etc. Now, while writing, I can leave myself notes in Evernote. My only criticism of this is that all the notes are titled “A Note from Alexa, ” but that can be an advantage if you use this skill solely to take notes while you write.

4) Add to your list of story todos to your todo list while you write

I am the queen of finding plot holes and then losing them. Arg. I’ve started using Alexa’s built in To Do list to remind me to plug plot holes.  “Alexa,  add an item to my ToDo list.”

“The bus I have in the river on page 22 cannot come back and pick up my hero on page 57”  >.<

When your writing is over you can ask Alexa “What’s on my To Do list?” to hear what things you need to change in your story.

5) Take a deep breath

Sometimes life and your writing get to be too much. Well, try Deep Breath. This new Alexa skill walks you through a deep breathing exercise for three minutes. Try this the next time your characters head off into the weeds or that incredible black moment you devised fizzles into a pale gray blip. Sit quietly at your desk as Alexa helps you calm down so you can go back and capture all those plot bunnies!

Are there cool Alexa skills that you use? I’d love to hear about them.

Pink Owl

Leslie DowLeslie is:

  1. The site director and owner of SavvyAuthors.com where she sits behind the curtain most days turning interweb knobs and twisting network dials.
  2. A complete and total slacker-writer who, if she does not get off her laurels and WRITE, is going to be flayed by the very talented writers who keep SavvyAuthors going.
  3. A rabid hiker who, when not on the trail, pours over the REI catalog, Sierra Trading Post website, and tries to justify buying more gear to shave another 1/2 ounce off her base pack weight.
  4. A medical device consultant who, when not hiking or thinking about hiking, occasionally works helping companies bring exceptionally cool and useful medical devices to market.
  5. A biology and chemistry Adjunct Professor at SouthMountain Community College. GO COUGARS!
  6. An enthusiastic grandmother of the two cutest babies on the planet!!!!

OK, I’m out..time to sort the latest crisis is to afflict SavvyAuthors  ;-).

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