Thursday, February 24, 2011

Scrivener for Windows

Last night I was listening to some episodes of Mur Lafferty’s ‘I Should Be Writing’ podcast and heard a very brief mention, in ISBW #176, about Scrivener for Window. That pricked up my ears. I like PC computers, I prefer them to Mac’s but there is one thing I have been jealous of writers who use Mac’s. They had access to the Scrivener program.

Scrivener is basically an organizational and editing tool especially designed for writers. You can use it as a word processor but it is much more than that. It keeps all the information you have on a writing project in the one place. There are character and place templates, places to store research notes and images that are in the program but separate from the actual writing. This makes compiling the finished project easy. There is a cork board function that creates note cards for each section, chapter, scene, location, or character so you can see at a glance what you have and where it is. Because the whole thing is connected, you can plot and outline using the cards, re-ordering them to suit the story and the changes are carried out across the project.

The program makes editing less daunting because of the snapshot function. You can take a snapshot of a page, section or the whole project if you like. When you finish the edit and realize you liked the original better, you can revert to the original with a click of the mouse.

Another fun part of the program, and one that is useful for me and all the other writers who have problems finding the right name for a character, is the random name generator. It is handy for when those pesky, unexpected new characters turn up in your story and you can’t keep on writing until you decide what to call them. Often, by the time you work it out, the train of the story is lost. How easy is it to click on the name generator and find something that at least temporarily appeals?

Although the program is not being released until later in the year, the delightful folks at Literature and Latte have released a free Beta version of the program. There are still a few bugs they are fixing as the Beta testing phase progresses but most of those are minor glitches that don’t adversely affect the functioning of the program.

Check out the Scrivener for Windows page here.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Canada Bound

My last five blog posts have been writing related so I decided I needed to do a post relating to my artwork. I have been busy over a last few weeks organising things for my first art sale at the local markets. I know, the markets aren’t the best venue for selling fine art, but I had a contingency plan for that. As well as my original art, I put together a series of limited edition prints of my favourite paintings for people who just can’t afford the price of an original.
The second part of my plan was to produce some small and inexpensive original paintings. Framing plays a major part in raising the cost of a painting so I racked my brain for a cost and time effective solution. I came up with clear acrylic key rings, the type you place photographs of your kids in. And that is how “Paintings For Your Pocket” came into being. The paintings are all original oil paintings on silver birch leaves. Depending on the complexity of the subject matter, I can complete most in well under than an hour painting time.  (I need to allow the background and blocked-in elements of the painting to dry before adding the final detail though).

So on Sunday, armed with my paintings, prints and “Paintings For Your Pocket” key rings, I set up my stall. I decided as a method of attracting customers to my stall, I would set up my easel and paints to work on some of my current painting projects. Over the morning, I had quite a few people stop to chat and watch me paint.

Although I didn’t sell a great deal of stock on the day, I did sell two of the pieces I was working on. A “Painting For Your Pocket” leaf called “Moon Called.” It is scene of a wolf sitting below a tree, looking up and howling at the full moon. The second was one of my larger gum leaf paintings of a giraffe that I was just starting to work the detail in.

The other thing that made the day successful was the fact a lovely lady liked my work so much she commissioned me to paint a series of sixteen painting for her. She will be taking them to Canada with her later in the year as a unique gift for her friends and family. Hopefully I can one day boast that I am big in Canada. I already have one painting living there.

I’m going to be a busy boy. I received a separate commission yesterday for three paintings.

My next sale will be at the Sofala Show on Sunday the 27th of February.   If you are close by, come along and take a look.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

I Should Be Writing

Sometimes following links around the internet just for the fun of it can take you to some unexpected and life changing places. One night several years ago I was net hopping and stumbled across a site called Escape Pod. At the time, I was supposed to be writing my book but I was procrastinating as usual, doing anything except write. Anyway, Escape Pod hosts a large collection of short audio stories. I listened to one or two stories that were listenable but only average. As I was about to jump to another site, a story title caught my eye. ‘Stuck In An Elevator With Mandy Patinkin’ by Kitty Myres. I like Mandy Patinkin so I listened. The story was fun but the most striking thing about it for me was the reader. Mur Lafferty.

Mur has a vocal quality and really pleasing accent that made me want to find out more about her. I jumped across to Google, opened some more links and eventually landed in the Murverse.

Vist ISBW site  HERE

When the screen cleared from the down jump transition – Sci-fi talk there – I flushed a little guiltily. Mur’s podcast site is called “I Should Be Writing.” I felt even worse when I finally went to bed, very late that night. I had still done no writing, but had listened to about dozen episodes of Mur’s Podcast.

By the time I woke the next morning, I had made a decision. If I was going to write, there would be no more pretending, no more “I’ll write my book tomorrow.” I would be serious and professional about writing, or not bother writing at all.

Yes, “I Should Be Writing” changed my attitude toward writing, pulling it from a hobby to “I’m really going to do this. Mur’s ISBW podcasts follow her own writing journey and includes tips and pitfalls she has learned along the way, plus interviews from other writers, podcasters, editors and new media personalities. All pass on their own experiences and writing insights. Mur’s site also links to many writing resources and other writerly sites of interest.

I can recommend “I Should Be Writing.” It is one of the most professional podcasts I have listened to. It is sure to have something of interest for anyone with an interest in the writing industry. 

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Thanks to PASS IT ON Newsletter

My thanks have to go out to Jackie Hosking from the PASS IT ON newsletter. In the opportunities section of issue 321, back in December2010, Jackie listed a new on-line children's magazine 'Literature For Kids' was seeking stories, poems and reviews. The magazine has themed issues and although I had no stories that matched the current theme, I contacted the editor and offered to submit a cover illustration for consideration.

Happily, the cover was accepted for the February Issue of the magazine with the theme of Love and Friendship. You can see a copy of the cover art in my Illustration gallery or visit the magazine ste at;

I recommend to all the writers out there, if you don't already subscribe to the PASS IT ON newsletter, it should be the next thing on you To-Do list.