Romance, Sigh

I find writing in the romance genre to be difficult. It shouldn’t be because it follows a “formula”. They meet; there’s a misunderstanding/issue/someone else/whatever that gets in the way; they work it out; something else happens; they profess their undying love and live Happily Ever After. Why do I find that so boring to write? I enjoy reading it! I enjoy the feel good I get from reading it. But when I write it, my characters feel…flat. Boring. There’s no aliens or colony ship or dragons or whatever. There’s “just” two people trying to get together.

I would like to get a Butch Girl book out. Why? Because they sell. Romance books sells like funnel cakes at a carnival. Science Fiction? Sells like candy apples. Sure, people like ’em and they look fondly at them but, really, you have to really love them to actually buy (and bite) it.

So I got Nikki (from BGCFA) and I got Ellen. Two lesbians who meet and want to get together. Kinda. They’ve got some obstacles to climb first. Some differences to either settle or decide to live with. Without alien interference. Or colony ship to stock. Or evil enemies to conquer. Just, you know, Real Life Issues.

So stay tuned for updates as I write this book! I need a timeline. It’s June…Let me say I want this done by the end of August? I’ve got a chunk of it done already. Yeah, written by the end of August. I can do this! Yeah!

Back It Up!

I am a big proponent of doing backups. My WIP files are in 3 places.

– WIP folder on my desktop
– to cloud (DreamCloud w/ DreamHost)
– USB key here at my desk

LibreOffice is set to do an autosave every X minutes as well as save the document as a .bak file whenever a save is done.

The cloud version backed up weekly.

The USB key is mirrored every morning.

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Research Research Research

You can never research too much. Well, not really.

You can get lost in YouTube Hell: going in for videos on sword work and realizing you’ve migrated to watching kittens dancing to Timberlake.

You can start reading articles on sword work in Wikipedia and realize you’re now reading an article on nuclear fission (true story).

But in terms of backstory (stuff you will probably never use), you can never research too much. Know your subject matter. Know the character. Know the setting. You don’t need a degree in something in order to write a believable character. You just need to know enough to write about it. Your comfort level included. For example, I will never be comfortable enough to write a character who is into math. I know this. I can research all I want and it will never take.

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Mindmapping

I was going to write another article of mindmapping resources but meh, too much work. But here’s the short of it:

I’ve demoed a LOT of mindmap programs and some are super simple to the point of being painful and others are super shiny to the point of being ghastly expensive. I’ll put linkages at the bottom of this. Currently, I have a subscription for Novamind (which I will cancel) and I have a paid version of SimpleMind (which I will keep). But what I am falling in love with and wish I could justify the cost of is TheBrain. So very, very shiny.

I’ve cleaned up my Writing Brain and will share the link to it. The software syncs between the desktop, the app, and the web version. You can mark the entire brain as ‘private’ which means no one but you and whoever you choose has access to it. You can mark the entire brain as ‘public’ which means anyone with the URL can access it. And you can mark certain parts of the brain as private and other parts public. Which is what I have done with my Writing Brain.

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Irons in the Writing Fire

I’m not sure how many other writers do this, but I typically work on more than one project at a time. I tend to pound out a lot of words then pause to consider it. See, I don’t plan or do an outline. I start a project because I have an idea, a “what if…”, or just a title. Usually I know the ending, sometimes I don’t. Other than that, the plot for the book just flows. And sometimes that flow takes my characters to places or situations I didn’t expect. And I need to back up and think about it. The more I write, the less I discover it was the WRONG direction. Either I’m becoming a better writer (and trust me, some of my early stuff truly stinks) or I’m getting better at figuring out how to get out of the corner I painted my novel into.

What I do while I think is either play games on my PC (my current obsession is Homeworld Remastered) or I go to another project. Sometimes that thinking takes a while and even if I come up with a solution, the path to getting there is not clear so I gotta think some more. And as some friends will agree so quickly they spit, I tend to think too much and not just freakin’ do.

So what irons are in my writing fire? Glad you asked.

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Resources for Writers

I mentioned in the last post that I use WordWeb for my thesaurus. I like it for its simplicity and for the ability to access other sources. I have found over the years that there are good resources and there are not so good ones.

Some may not like Wikipedia due to its open edit vulnerability. And I say if you are going to depend on one resource for your research, then you are doing it wrong. Wikipedia is a vast resource and the ideal place to start. Their links at the bottom (see also, references, further reading, and/or external links), are the next step. Wikipedia is just one part of a wonderful organization called the Wikimedia Foundation. From images to quotes to even a species directory, Wikimedia Foundation provides a vast resource of information to get lost in.

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Writing Software and Stuff

If you read the previous post, you’ll know I just switched from OpenOffice to LibreOffice. Still loving it! And I was reminded I’d not done a “software I use” post in a while. So here goes.

Hardware:
– a built computer running Win 10. It is dying so I’m in the process of saving up for a replacement. Hopefully it will survive until then!
– a 17″ HP laptop. I use this when I travel or go out to write. It is running Win 10 as well.
– I don’t have a tablet anymore since Lorna broke my Note 10.1. I had been trying to accidentally kill it so I can get a new one. Should have saved myself time by just letting L use it! It won’t charge anymore. The tablet I would love to replace it with costs almost as much as the PC I want to build, though, so yeah, I’ll wait.
– keyboard is a Kinesis Freestyle Blue. It is a true split keyboard. I used a Kinesis Freestyle for a long time and love it. Then the N key stopped working. Sigh. This one is a Bluetooth which I like since it is one less cord. Plus I can easily toss it in the bag and go. It can connect to 3 devices (one at a time of course) so I have it hooked to my PC, laptop, and did it have it with the tablet but I may have re-worked it to be on the phone.
Logitech M570 trackball. You can get it from BestBuy for half the cost on the Logitech site, though. They have a new trackball out I’m interested in if this one dies. Trackballs are hard to find and Logitech and Kensington are the only two still making them. And the Kensington one is stupid.
Samsung Note 8 phone. I like using a stylus and I like a big screen. Sure I can get a rubber tipped stylus anywhere but where do I keep it? I’m not happy that the battery is not removable.

Ergonomics is a top priority with me which is why I am so picky about what sits on my desk or goes in my bag. Yeah, I have to pay more but it is worth it.

Software:
LibreOffice is my word processing as well as spreadsheet software. Love. It. (opensource/free/donations/community driven)
SyncBack Pro – I use it to sync/backup/mirror stuff from my PC to my DreamObjects cloud service, my laptop, L’s desktop, and a memory key. There is a free version. I’ve used this for, wow, a long time. They have an app to sync with a phone: SyncBack Touch. I like using it to keep my WiP folder updated to my Note 8. (free/paid)
CyberDuck – this is what I use to access DreamObjects cloud. I tried their MountainDuck but since it is dependent on the speed of your computer and uses Windows’ file system thing, it was too slow for me. Maybe with the next PC! (opensource/free/donate)
FileZilla – this is what I use as an FTP client. And another software I’ve used forever. I was trying out MountainDuck because it can do both cloud services and FTP. Actually, CyberDuck can do FTP, too, but I like the UI of FileZilla more. Anyway, using Filezilla, I can upload to a folder on my website where it is easily accessible. (opensource/free/community driven)
Clementine – okay, so this one isn’t really writing related. But I use it a lot as I write. It is a music player so I can use my headset vs playing over my phone. This keeps me “in the zone”. It can also stream music from various services but I don’t use any. It has an app (Android only) I can use to skip songs or change the playlist accessing it on my screen. (opensource/free/community drive)
WordWeb – Good golly, I love this program! Thesaurus, dictionary, resources all rolled into one. Love. It. Free version available. (free/paid)
TeamViewer – I used to use Ammyy to do remote access of my PC or laptop but it seems to be lacking in support and updating. So I made the switch to TeamViewer. It is free for personal use. It uses passwords although you can set it so X computer can always connect to the Y one. I used it a lot while I was up Nawth so I could access files and download email on my desktop. I really like it. (free/paid)
Fl.ux – This is a program I forget I am using. Until I turn it off. Wow, what a difference! It changes the color of the screen slightly to adjust to the time of day. It is great for my eyes at night since I am such a night owl. It has app versions but for Android, it requires root. (free/donations)
SimpleMind Pro – I am not using this as much as I used to. It is a mind mapping / brain storming software. I like it a lot though and when I use it, I ask “Why don’t I do this more???”

I reckon that’s all for the PC. I use a lot more programs, of course, but I am just listing those for writing or while writing. As you can tell, I am a fan of opensource. I donate a LOT to those I like and participate if/when I can.

Here’s some other, non-writing related programs I recommend:
Everything – search software (free/donate)
VLC – video player (free/donate)
Calibre – ebook organizer and upload-to-devices-er (free/donations)
Irfanview – image software (love this!) (free/donate)

Okay, enough of that. What do I use on my phone for writing? I have found I don’t like editing on my phone or tablet so most of it is for reference or reading over a draft or whatever. The phone is useless for actual writing. I use it for note taking while away from my desk. I did use the tablet for writing, though.

Android Apps:
(not going to provide links since it all goes to the Play Store anyway. Look ’em up yerse’f)
WordWeb – same as above
Squid – I’ve used a lot of stylus handwriting note taking apps over the years. And I love Squid. Love the name, too! The main thing is I can set it to where it ignores finger touching except for dragging down the page (two fingers I think). You can organize into notebooks, have multiple pages or just one looooong page.
OfficeSuite – this views pdf, doc, and txt files. Meh, it’s okay.
LibreOffice Viewer – just started using this so not sure about it yet. It is a better viewer than it is editor but it does have that capability.
AndrOpenOffice – bleh. It tries to emulate the PC screen of OpenOffice onto a phone or tablet. It twitches a lot.
Chambers Dictionary and Thesaurus – expensive, huge, but worth it.
Keep – I use this for easy to get to notes that I want to type. Or make real fast.
SimpleMind – app version of SimpleMind PC
SyncBack Touch – see SyncBack Pro above
AirDroid – meh, it’s okay. If I used it for what it was really for, I’d be constantly distracted. It is a cool app, though. I use it to transfer files semi-clickly. Just one or two files like images or whatever.

I reckon that’s it. No apologies to Mac or iOS users for having nothin’ for you. (grin)