Writing and Technology

May 19th, 2018

Writing and Technology Carolyn Style

I recently bought an iPad Pro and an Apple Pencil, since some writers I know had switched entirely and my MacBook Pro is aging a bit. In addition, I have at last found a Mac app that I can write in without being incredibly frustrated and annoyed. My novella, The Viscount’s First Kiss, was written entirely using the Ulysses app.  Ulysses exports to Word, PDF, and HTML, among other formats. It syncs seamlessly between all my devices. I’m fifty thousand words into a novel with Ulysses.

I have some nitpicks, but  in the main I like it. In case you’re wondering, for essentially my entire writing career I’ve been using WordPerfect. When I switched to Mac OS, I installed a Windows virtual machine so I could continue using WordPerfect. There’s a lot about WordPerfect I miss, but Ulysses is the first acceptable replacement I’ve found that works for me.  Yes, I tried Scrivener but it just doesn’t work for me. I know it does for others and more power to you. I keep hoping that Scrivener will address its controlling propensities and stop interfering in the way I want to write. With Ulysses, I started writing and just kept going. I didn’t have to fight with the interface, and it took me about thirty seconds to read about how to make things look the way I want them to.

Anyway,  a while back, my MacBook Pro underwent some kind of glitch that required a complete reformat and restore from backup. To be honest I haven’t bothered to fix the Windows virtual machine on it since I bought the iPad Pro.

What I love About The iPad Pro For Writing

It’s a lot lighter than my MacBook Pro, but about the same dimensions other than thickness.  I bought the Apple keyboard cover, which is pretty sweet. That keyboard is about the same size as the keyboard for the MacBook Pro. When I’m writing on it, I love that it’s a touch screen, too.  I am able to rest the iPad Pro on the exercise bike do-hickey for holding devices, and have been able to dictate while I exercise.  This gives me an additional hour of writing time, which is nice.  I’ve used the Apple pencil a little less than I thought.  I find the documentation for my notebook apps to be pretty bad, and I hate spending more than a few minutes trying to figure out how to do something. However, I have used it for some note booking, for example, and that has been absolutely awesome. Writing longhand is a different experience and a different way of unlocking the writing brain.

What I Don’t Like About Writing on The iPad Pro

iOS is simply not quite as functional as Mac OS there are a couple of things I cannot do on the iPad Pro that I can do on Mac OS, predominantly having to do with one or two apps that I like. The reasons this is a con for writing, is that I want to travel with the iPad Pro and not have to bring the MacBook Pro.

Slight Segue Into Dictation

A couple of years ago I started using dictation because I wanted to make sure I preserved the functionality of my fingers and wrists and because once you settle into the dictation it can be a lot faster than  typing by hand. I had a disaster once that I resolved by dictating a massive number of edits that had been lost. If I hadn’t done that I would not have been able to finish my book on time. For my emergency, I used the built-in Apple dictation. It was not perfect but it worked and well enough I that I bought Dragon dictation both for Mac OS and Windows. Unfortunately, neither was seamless or effortless. Yuck.

What I don’t understand is why Apple insists on using straight quotes in apps where curly quotes are available and enabled. Word corrects this  annoyance, but the Ulysses app does not. Straight quotes are an abomination in fiction. Dragon, however, fixes those straight quotes, so I’m stuck using Dragon When I am writing on the iMac. Speech recognition in Dragon for Mac is pretty awful. Considering how expensive the program is, Nuance should be ashamed. In iOS, I have to use Apple dictation and for some reason that is completely beyond me, when the keyboard cover is attached to the iPad Pro you cannot dictate. WTF, Apple? When I’m on the bike, I remove the cover so I can dictate.

That said, I have watched Apple dictation perfectly transcribe my words and then change them to near gibberish as they are processed. Why? Why? Why is there no setting that allows me to tell it that I am dictating fiction and to stop changing everything to present tense or using pronouns that aren’t the pronouns I used. In addition, there are several  punctuation conventions for fiction that Apple and Dragon completely blow over. It drives me batty. For dialogue, a comma, followed by a close quote should not be followed by a capital letter unless that word actually requires a capital letter: “More coffee,” Mrs. Smith said. But: “More coffee,” she said with a desperate smile. NOT “More coffee,” She said.

It’s annoying as hell. Oh and also for some reason on my computers, both Dragon and Apple dictation randomly capitalize words. Really?

 All in All

Nevertheless, I have not used the MacBook Pro in quite some time. The combination of the iPad Pro, Ulysses app, and the Apple Pencil overlap with several functionalities: a MacBook Pro, a paper notebook, printed MSS, and pens and ink. There was a day when I forgot to bring the iPad Pro with me but I had my regular iPad. I was able to work exactly where I left off. If I had to, I could write on my iPhone.

That said, the RWA National Conference is coming up and I haven’t decided if I’m also going to bring the MacBook Pro. If I don’t, there is an app I use daily that I will have to skip. It wouldn’t be a big deal, though. So I think probably not. My board service means that I fly several times a year and that means I have learned to hate flying, checked luggage, and heavy purses.

Overall, I really like the Ulysses app and hope that they work on the needs of fiction authors. I LOVE LOVE LOVE the portability and lightness of the iPad Pro, and the ability to do longhand writing with it. This combination does most of what I need. It’s just short of perfect.

I find it ironic that so many apps, including Microsoft Word, talk about how great they are for professional writing when in fact they fall down in crucial ways that professional fiction writers need. I would pay a lot of money for WordPerfect as a native Mac App.

 

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Oooh, Pretty. Editing Can Be Fun!

May 13th, 2018

I printed out a copy of My Infernal Lover for a paper read through. For this kind of editing, I really enjoy using various fountain pens and colorful inks. I’m using two pens loaded with ink that just arrived. Some of you may know that I love ink with sparkles, and DeAtramentis just came out with some pearlescent inks that have copper sparkles.  I used a paintbrush for the swathes of ink, then wrote some stuff so you can (hopefully) see what it looks like.

Heliogen Green

I loaded the heliogen green in my copper Karas Customs. I really like this pen a lot, though it’s a bit heavy. It writes well. I can’t recall what nib size I got. I’m pretty sure it’s a fine because I was buying fines when I bought this pen. With this pen it’s easy to fit lots of new words all over the front and back of a page.

A swath of ink from a bottle of DeAtramentis Heliogen Green with copper sparkles. The green is soothing and soft, and the copper sparkles are just lovely.

DeAtramentis Heliogen Green with copper sparkles

Velvet Black

I don’t think my photo does justice to this ink. I don’t normally use black ink at all, but the copper sparkles make this special and really fun to write all over my MS with. Interesting note, this ink is loaded in a Monteverde invincia with a nib that is clearly stamped F for fine. But it lays down ink like a medium, which I really like.

A swath of DeAtramentis Velvet Black with copper sparkles. The feeling is soft with an undertone of surprise!

DeAtramentis Velvet Black with copper sparkles

Switching Off

So, I have been switching between the pens with fair frequency. I am up to chapter 3 and I really like this story so far.

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How Did It Get To Be May? What’s Up with Me.

May 5th, 2018

It seems like just yesterday it was January, and now it’s May. I’m adjusting to the life changes that arose with my mother’s passing in February.  We’ve been going through pictures and remembering her, and that’s been very nice. I can now say that I am now friends with Freddie, my sister’s macaw.  He’s such a great bird. The avian vet showed us where he’d previously written “sweet old bird” in his notes.

Freddie has learned to wave and turn around, and he is now target trained except when he doesn’t want to be. Target training is when you reward an animal for touching the end of a stick/chopstick. This is a huge aid for working with a creature you can’t just pick up. You put the stick where you want the animal to go, and (theoretically) they go there. That way you can safely and easily move a bird from an unsafe/undesired location to a safer one.

This worked great the time I left the lid off the nuts and Freddie climbed onto the container to help himself. He was not at all amenable to moving until I targeted him off. Freddie can be stubborn though and there are times when he’s just basically “Eff you. I’m not doing that.” I sometimes have trouble getting him in his cage at night. He doesn’t want to go to bed for me, and often side steps to the door rather than going in. My sister will come up to him and say, “Freddie, go to bed!” and then he goes right in. So there’s this situational/personal thing going on.

Bird psychology.

I am working on the first prequel novel for the My Immortals series. I’ve hit critical mass on the story itself and now I am shaping it — though it might be more accurate to say the characters are shaping the story for me. I’m liking it. And the characters for the second prequel have showed up so that’s awesome.

 

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The Viscount’s First Kiss – On Sale Now

April 28th, 2018

The Viscount’s First Kiss is On Sale Now

A Regency couple. She has her hand on his chin because he's super hot and she's just realized maybe she loves him, who knew? She didn't. There is a bookshelf behind them. He is totally into her.

Cover of The Viscount’s First Kiss

This novella appeared first in the anthology  How to Find a Duke in Ten Days. If you didn’t pick up the anthology, you can get  The Viscount’s First Kiss, as a standalone story. Buy directly from me or from your other favorite vendor. Links are below!

cJewel Books | Amazon | Smashwords | Barnes & Noble |
Google Play | iBooks | KoboPrint

About The Viscount’s First Kiss

Viscount Daunt and the painfully shy Magdalene Carter turn friendship into love in their search for a legendary medieval manuscript.

For years, the Viscount Daunt has loved Magdalene Carter, the widow of a long-time friend and mentor. She’s a brilliant and original thinker whose shyness often paralyzes her, but no one is more knowledgeable about their shared passion for medieval tomes. When he enlists her aid in the search for the legendary Duke’s Book of Knowledge, a book he must find in just ten short days, he hopes to transform their friendship into love.

If you love steamy stories about loyal men who win the women they adore, this is the book for you.

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Cover for The Viscount’s First Kiss!

March 14th, 2018

Next month I will be releasing The Viscount’s First Kiss, my novella from the anthology How to Find a Duke in Ten Days. Here’s the cover!

A Regency couple. She has her hand on his chin because he's super hot and she's just realized maybe she loves him, who knew? She didn't. There is a bookshelf behind them. He is totally into her.

Cover of The Viscount’s First Kiss

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Making Friends With Freddie, Part 4

March 3rd, 2018

I haven’t posted about Freddie in a while, but not because there isn’t anything to say. Below is a video of him dancing to his favorite song, Good Night Irene. When he’s ready to go to bed, he starts dancing like that and singing.  A little more about that in a bit. As you can see, he’s adorable. And he’s on the counter. We do some target training there, and he hangs out on the counter in the evening while I’m getting my lunch and coffee ready for the morning, doing some kitchen clean up and feeding my sourdough starter.

Target training is going well. When we’re training, he’s 100% on target. Non-training times are about 80% so we need more work and repetitions. For those who don’t know, target training is when you train a bird to touch the end of a chopstick (or any clean dowel or stick). You give a treat as soon as the bird touches the end of the stick. You train the bird to go to the target — that is, wherever you have the end of the chopstick. This teaches the bird to go places you want and need him to go, such as inside a cage, a carrier, or just away from something troublesome.

Right now, Freddie steps up on my forearm, and I need him to step up on my hand because that is a safer and more stable way to carry the bird. I am working on training that. He will now step near my hand, but not yet on it. We have a good time!

Regarding going to bed, yes, he sings and dances to indicate he would like to go to bed, but actually putting him back in his cage is about 70% successful for me. He loves the cat/dog bed under my desk and I realized last night that he seems to want to roost for the night there. This, of course, is a terrible and unsafe idea for him to have. Sometimes when I put him back in his cage for the night, he sidesteps me and grabs the outside of his cage. He then climbs down to the floor and wanders about, and last night was when I realized he wants to roost in my room. It was some time before I could coax him out of my room and for him to decide he was ready to step up. I managed to cleverly block his attempt to not go into his cage. In return for his being in the cage, I sang Good Night Irene to him for some time.

And so our training continues . . . for him and for me.

 

 

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Not Proper Enough!

March 3rd, 2018

Announcement! Not Proper Enough Has Reverted to Me

My Regency Romance, Not Proper Enough, is now available worldwide. It turns out Not Proper Enough was reverted to me last December, which neither my agent or I knew until the paperwork arrived in her office last month. What I didn’t realize that Berkley took down their version in December, so uh-oh. The book was off sale in the US and Canada. This news is of most interest to readers in the US and Canada since Berkley Books had North American rights only and I published my own version everywhere else. Below is the “new” cover for readers in the US and Canada.

A pretty lady in Regency attire, in profile but looking at you. Yeah, you. Her long curly hair is down. She looks feisty.

Cover of Not Proper Enough

Not Proper Enough

Could the wrong man be the right one after all?

Lady Eugenia Byrant doesn’t forget insults easily. Even years after the Marquess of Fenris publicly insulted her, she has no desire to let bygones be bygones. As a widow, she knows the gift of a magical medallion will never find her a second chance at love. When happiness appears to work its way back into her life, it’s Fenris who threatens her newfound peace.

The Marquess of Fenris loved Eugenia, even when she married his best friend. His feelings never changed, but now he has to convince the lady that he has. The handsome and wealthy heir to a dukedom puts on the charm, but will it be enough for her to forget his previous transgressions?

Not Proper Enough is a Regency historical romance novel for adults and about adults who actually act like adults. If you like enthralling characters, heated chemistry, and smoldering romance, then you’ll love Carolyn Jewel’s thoughtful and witty tale.

Where to Get Not Proper Enough

You can now buy direct from me at cJewel Books. I offer files suitable for your Kindle or any other book reading device. You can also order a print copy. Or buy from your favorite vendor.

cJewel Books | Smashwords | Amazon | iBooks | Barnes&Noble | Kobo |Google Play | Print

Not Proper Enough is book 2 in the Reforming the Rakes series. Book 1 is Not Wicked Enough. Book 3, Not Sinful Enough, is officially on my writing schedule.

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Respect The Beak

January 28th, 2018

Now that Freddie the macaw has an indoor perch and has been inside several times and quite excited about it, I had to get some toys for it so he can entertain himself. Here is a video of Freddie making short work of parts of a toy. He was very happy. The big pieces are actually pretty soft, but what you don’t see is the smaller, harder wooden blocks that he chewed up already.

He walked into the living room from the deck and I figured, OK, this will be like the garage where he stepped up on my arm right away. But he didn’t. He made a beeline for the couch and disappeared underneath it, talking to himself the whole time. I put the dogs up in my room and when I came back he was halfway across the living room, and then he happily stepped up. And, he likes being inside and every time I walk past him he lifts up his leg (which is the signal for “I want to be on your arm!”) A couple of times he was unhappy about going back into his cage. So there are some behaviors to work on. This is new territory for us both, of course.

You can read more about Freddie here:
Here and also here.

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Making Friends with Freddie, Part 3

January 25th, 2018

Since I am wide awake, I will tell you a little more about Freddie the Buffon’s Macaw. Birds are just not a normal pet, as I am learning. He’s my sister’s macaw, by the way. Yes, she does have someone designated to inherit him if he outlives her. Anyway, we have some new perches for his cage that have been very well received, and now the large tree perch has arrived. This is a fancy perch with “branches” at various levels and two food dishes, which I put together and  put in the living room. Today I brought him in the house and put him on his new perch, and he sat there quite excited and happy and had some water and broccoli and a tiny bit of a bagel. He stepped up when he was ready (and not before) and we went back outside. We had this adventure twice! Then he decided for some reason to explore more and walked himself all the way into the garage. But he stepped up and I gave him a snack and put him up for the afternoon, when he gets crabby and needs to be in his cage chilling.

This was pretty exciting for us both. Here is a picture of him sitting on top of an ornamental cage eating a hazelnut.  You can see here he is mostly green but this wings are edged in blue, and his tail has some red, blue, and green feathers.

Freddie the Buffon's Macaw sitting on top of a tall ornamental cage eating a nut I have hidden in paper. You can see his tail feathers in this pic,

Freddie eating a nut.

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Anthology Retirement Announcement

January 20th, 2018

As most of you no doubt heard, author Miranda Neville passed away last year. Grace Burrowes, Shana Galen, Miranda, and I did three historical romance anthologies together.  They are all great collections of connected stories. While they can each be read individually, all four stories together bring together a heartwarming arc. Miranda’s untimely and forever mourned death means that for the foreseeable future, and certainly while Miranda’s family is dealing with her estate, the three anthologies with Miranda will be going off sale. The last day to get all four stories in one collection is January 31, 2018.

My stories in the anthologies are available individually, and I believe Shana’s are as well. I don’t know if Grace published hers individually. Miranda did not, and to the best of my knowledge, Miranda’s family is not currently planning to issue her stories individually. That means if you do not already have copies of the anthologies now, you have a limited window to get those stories.

It’s possible that at some point in the future, assuming we have an agreement with Miranda’s estate, the books will be reissued in some manner or other, but we have no current plans to do so.

Here are the links to the anthologies

Cover of Christmas in The Duke's Arms

Christmas in The Duke’s Arms

Amazon | Barnes&Noble | iBooks | Google Play | Kobo | Print

Cover of Dancing in the Duke's Arms, anthology. Cover is a dude in a brown coat and a pretty lady in a burgundy gown which is really pretty. They are dancing and falling in love. You want this book.

Dancing in The Duke’s Arms

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Google Play | Kobo | Print

Cover of Christmas in Duke Street, handsome couple against a snowy background with a building and a very small christmasy-tree in the backround

Christmas in Duke Street

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Google Play | Kobo | Trade Paper

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