Posts Tagged ‘Technolgy’

Writer’s Toolbox

Sunday, October 21st, 2018

The Search for the Perfect Writing Tools

Writers need the right tools for their work, and boy do I have opinions on this. With respect to software, my opinion is that the people developing these tools spoke to anywhere from zero to one actual writer. In fact, I think they developed whatever their programming environment made possible and then justified that result to writers. Which means the tools in general lack the flexibility required when actual people use those tools.

Until about a year ago, I wrote in WordPerfect. I run a Windows virtual machine on my desktop and laptop so I can continue to use a tool that actually IS pretty darn flexible and doesn’t impose the Microsoft “YOU WILL WRITE THIS WAY BECAUSE” paradigm. Oh, and formatting. The formatting is so awful. Anyway I have been increasingly annoyed and irritated by the VM I use. (Parallels).

Parallels mostly works but when something goes wrong or when you need to contact the company for any reason the experience is dreadful and I have been searching for a WordPerfect alternative because in my perfect world, I never have to give the Parallels company another dime of my money. If anyone from Parallels reads this; I hate your company and I hate your broken, opaque website and I hate that you hate your customers.

For years I have  been looking for a tool that would allow me to write in MacOS. Because I’m telling you Word ain’t it. I have to have MS Office in order to be compatible with the rest of the world, but I really really really hate Word. That said . . . The MS office suite tools that allow you to open and edit documents on any iOS device are wonderful. Editors, copy-editors, and proofreaders tend to work in Word, so this ability is a must have for me, and in this case, MS nailed it.

This tool works. So, for every purpose except writing fiction, thumbs up to Office 365 and its MacOS/iOS tools.

I did try Scrivener. I really did but its not a tool that works for the way I write. I envy all the people who love this tool and haven’t had to fight their natural writing process to use it. I just can’t

I tried a bunch of other tools; Open Office and Pages were total fails. I tried several apps that proclaimed they were great for writers and none of them were, and most did not mean “great for people writing fiction of 100,000 words.”

Ulysses is the only tool I’ve found where I started a writing project and was able to complete it in that tool instead of moving it to WordPerfect.  I wasn’t wasting hours trying to do simple things like work with individual chapters sometimes or with the entire document other times, oh, and being able to assemble and reorder chapters. I didn’t have to fight to have an environment that was pleasing to my eyes and it exports to a docx format (and several others) without forcing me to spend much or any time reformatting. It’s good enough to send to editors etc.

I wrote an entire novella in the tool and it was fairly seamless. I’ve written Bound in Smoke in Ulysses, and that book is just about done. I haven’t used WordPerfect in ages. I have a few things I wish it would do but nothing that keeps me from writing and getting the output I need.


Technology Woes . . . My Sob Story

Tuesday, October 20th, 2015

So, a couple of days ago my 2011 model iMac began misbehaving in a worrisome way. I got the soonest Genius Bar appointment possible and it was still too late. Yesterday it basically died. Yesterday was the same day my replacement phone arrived and with the dead iMac, my phone backup was unavailable. Because of our internet situation here (only recently resolved mostly) I never dared back up to iCloud. Not possible. So… I backed up the phone to my Macbook and for some reason it would only encrypt the backup but without ever asking me to give it a password. NEVER HAPPENED. And it wanted this nonexistent password in order to restore my backup to the new phone.

The workaround is a backup to iCloud. So, OK. Our internet is OK enough to risk it.  I started at 7:00PM and at 4:30 this morning it was still going. And at 5:30 it just quit. No error message. No nothing. Just “Your backup could not be completed” or else, no message at all. So I took it to work and tried a backup to a Windows machine. Same thing. Encrypted backup. NO opportunity to give a password. I tried iCloud again. Nope.

Finally, the nice lady at Apple wondered if I had enough space in iCloud. Well, I had no idea how big the phone backup is. Apple doesn’t tell you.

Long story short, the answer is no. Apple just swallows a “you don’t have enough space” error message and misses the upsell opportunity too.

Then I got the extra storage and that took two hours for the phone to believe I had it, and THEN the backup succeeded.

THEN the restore was stuck on “1 hour remaining” for three hours.

I went to my other office where they have super duper internet and started over with the restore and it took 20 minutes. TWENTY MINUTES!!!!!


This was nothing but a series of error conditions that Apple should be trapping. I have suspicions about the backup though. And since I will be back on the phone with them tomorrow to explain my resolution and complain a bit, I’ll relay the possibility that iPhone encrypted backup process  doesn’t work when the drive is already encrypted.


Anyway, My Demon Warlord is going well. I’m doing the final paper read-through so the dead iMac could be worse.


HAAO: Name the Laptop

Sunday, July 12th, 2009

My MacBook Pro has arrived and is now pretty much set up to accompany me on my trip to the RWA National Conference in Washington DC. My little pretty needs a name but I confess I am torn as to the best one. Help An Author Out!

A little background, Eric Northman is the Sherrif of Area 5 in Charlaine Harris’s Sookie Stackhouse series. In the books, he is a hottie. Wowza! On the HBO series TrueBlood, Alexander Skarsgard plays Eric Northman. Alexander Skarsgard is now my One True Love. I am contemplating drawing fangs on the new laptop.

Sparky would be an obvious name, cute, but also reminiscent of Charles Schultz, the author of the Peanuts comic strip. He lived only a few miles from us, and he went by the nickname Sparky.

@BarryEisler is the Twitter id of author Barry Eisler who it turns out not only writes great books but is pretty darn funny, too. I confess this is kind of a Twitter joke.

Someone suggested Slick as a possible name, and it so happens that some time ago when I worked at a law firm there was an attorney whose name was Colin Jewell, and he was perhaps a bit abrasive. So whenever I had to call other counsel in this particular case, they thought I was Colin. So I took to saying I was Slick Jewel to avoid the mistake.

Got a better name? Suggest one of your own. I guess Blogger won’t let me embed a poll, so, rats! Here are the options:

  • Fang (aka Eric Northman)
  • Sparky
  • @BarryEisler
  • Slick
  • Your suggestion

Leave your vote or suggestion in the comments.


Remains of the Year

Wednesday, December 31st, 2008

Somehow it got to be the very last day of 2008. And here I am, still ticking. A good thing, indeed. And all you get in this post is the remains of my thoughts.

Writing in 2008

All the hard writing work of 2007-2008 will be showing up in 2009. I’ll have 3 books out. Three!

February: Scandal
June: My Forbidden Desire
October: Indiscreet

That’s going to cost me a fortune in promotion and RITA entry fees. Yeah, I often wonder if I can afford to write novels. Apparently I am a writing fool since I will, whatever happens, keep writing.

Technology in 2008

Twitter-like birdTwitter gets my vote for the application that actually added value to my life. More than mySpace, more than Facebook, probably even more than email. I’ll have a separate post on my website about twitter in the new year.

iPhoneThe iPhone gets my vote for the gadget that blew me away. I heart my iPhone. It’s worth every dang penny it costs. I can check and reply to my email! I can twitter! I don’t need an eBook reader or an iPod (or mp3 player). A free book I downloaded (about how to read tea leaves) sparked a major plot thread in my October historical Indiscreet

I made the move from PC to Mac when I got an iMac. Technically that happened in late 2007, but the primary usage has been in 2008. I am now saving to replace my PC laptop which is old and getting clunky. I’ll get a Mac laptop.

Thoughts about 2009

  • I will be writing proposals. ::shudder::
  • I hope to write my Dark Elf book which is the book proposal my agent loved (before she was my agent)
  • February will see the release of Scandal which is the historical proposal that my agent (before she was my agent) said would have been an automatic rejection for her. This is the same book she read (after she was my agent and I rewrote it) and called a tour de force. Seriously.
  • A year of uncertainty and hope. That’s my take on 2009.

Have a safe and happy New Year everyone!