I promised an update and I hope it's not too late for those of you who might have been swayed toward StoryMill by my posting two weeks ago. If not, then I hope it has worked better for you than it did for me. The day after I'd downloaded it, gone through the brief tutorial, and then wrote my first chapter...it crashed!
I lost my first chapter (which I had really liked, by the way). Not a happy moment. As I looked into the whole program further in an attempt to figure out how to retrieve my chapter, if not the whole program, I found this had happened to a lot of other people. Hmmm. I sent off a quick email, pleading for help and then waited a day, two days...as it got to three days and I still hadn't had a reply from the people at StoryMill, I began to reconsider. Besides, I had all these ideas for my series bubbling in my head and needed to get back to writing!
I remembered Luisa Perkins had sworn by Scrivener, so I decided to give it a second chance. (Thanks, Luisa!) As soon as I pulled it up, I was notified I needed to download the free updated version. Gulping (and hoping this wouldn't bring about another crash), I did. Once I was all updated, I opened the tutorial and was so relieved to see that not only was it a very thorough and easily understood and interactive tutorial (I think they've really improved upon it in this updated version), but any document you are working on automatically saves every 2 seconds!
Long story short, I'm a Scrivener fan now just like Luisa! It basically has everything StoryMill offered (in fact, I suspect that StoryMill got lots of its ideas from this program), except the timeline, but I can work around that.
I paused after the Tutorial and thought, "Well, I'm ready to write. But since this is going to be a series, do I treat it all as one project, using a different folder within the project for each book...or do I treat each book as a separate project?" Unsure how to proceed, I googled "using Scrivener to write a series" and it led me to this helpful posting by a successful author who is in the middle of producing her series using Scrivener. Basically, she creates a "Series Bible," containing all her research and ideas for the whole series as one project, and then starts a new project for each of the books. I liked that idea, so I've adopted that approach.
I've rewritten my first chapter (naturally, it's even better the second time) and am into the second, while fleshing out all my characters as they appear in the story. For any of you with a Mac, I highly recommend Scrivener! For those of you without a Mac and using Windows, there's now a free Beta version of Scrivener for Windows, plus very informative postings about the program here and here.
Oh, and I did finally hear from StoryMill, asking me to send them a copy of my project so they could figure out what went wrong. Hello? I don't have a copy. That's the problem. I'll just be asking for my money back, thank you.