Thursday, November 21, 2013

Morning Rain and Fog

I love rainy, foggy days. They're perfect for writing. Today's picture was taken while waiting for the school bus. I was standing on the patio with Mini and dodging raindrops. Before the bus arrived, I took a couple of cute pictures of little man, too.

Now that SassiePup is home recuperating from her adventures at the vet, the house feels more at peace. I have to watch her so she doesn't pop her stitches, but she's no longer isolated from Jake. He gets within two feet of her and she lets him know she's not in the mood to play. That's my grumpy girl!

Last night she was ready to sack out on the bed with us. Once she was on the bed, she stretched out on her side and sighed heavily, perfectly content. And when I climbed into bed and and covered up, she picked up her head and rested it  on my ankle. She stayed like that most of the night. I'd say she missed us. Poor beast.

That's all for now. I'm going to try to catch up on my NaNo project. The last few days have been so hectic, I haven't had time to sit down and write much. Time to break out my timer and hit this story hard. Wish me luck!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Cora's Picks: WordTyrant

This is the last post in my writing apps series. You can read about the 50k/30 writing app here. And you can read about Werdsmith here. (No pictures for Werdsmith article, sorry!) 

WordTyrant isn't for writing, per say. It's a word count tracker that you can use for tracking multiple projects. The pictures below are shown on my iPod Touch. It's available for iPhone and iPad also. The app costs .99 cents, and you can view the specs here:

Note: I do not receive any compensation for you clicking my links. The links are there simply for your convenience. I'm not paid to review any apps, nor am I an affiliate of WordTyrant, etc., etc. 

Of all the writing apps I've purchased recently, WordTyrant is my favorite. I've always liked having progress counters on my blog, but the website that hosted my favorite counters went dark many years ago. I have yet to find an easily customized word count widget for blogger that isn't too large, clunky, or drop dead ugly. So, I switched to using Excel sheets. Personally, I'm not a fan of Excel for tracking my word counts. I often forget to use them. So, I decided it was time to purchase an app. 

WordTyrant offers everything I need in word counter/tracker. I can track multiple projects, easily choose a monthly word count target, share my results via email and twitter, and I can link WordTyrant with DropBox to save my information.   

The splash screen. Hard to photograph!
Only lasts a couple of seconds before
switching over to the app's interface.

Once you're off the splash screen, you can view your overall writing stats, or choose a project and check the individual stats. The stats show you your total word count, your average words written per day, the words you have left to reach your goal, and the required wordage needed per day to reach your goal on time. 

You can track multiple projects. This
screen will show your overall progress.
Note the little message it gives me here:
Time to break out the coffee and
pull an all nighter. Heh.

See the four "dots" on the picture above? Beneath the fancy advice to pull an all nighter? That shows the number of graph options available to you. You can flick the black portion of the page to the left to reveal different graph options. See your progress on a bar graph or in a pie chart.

Click on a story title to view the
word count progress on that particular
story. You can tweet and/or email
your results.
I like the way WordTyrant shows you a percentage. This tells you how far along you are in your book, just like a traditional word counter. The word count for my cowboy story is shown as 40% complete. If you look at the overall stats page, it shows me at being 23% complete for the entire month. That's because I haven't worked on the Vamp story as frequently as the Cowboy story. This shows you where you're putting in most of your writing time. For productivity hounds, this is worth gold. You can see where you need to put in more effort. In my case, the vampires can wait until I'm finished with the cowboys. ;o) 

The settings page allows you
to link your work with Dropbox.
The settings page isn't overly complex. I admit I have no idea what the Name entry is for. Bucket? Other than that, most of what's present is intuitive. Do you want to create a monthly target? Toggle it on or off. Do you want to add a chart to your tweets? Toggle it on or off.  What is your target word count - click the "greater than" arrow/symbol and put in your word count goal. Beneath the Link with Dropbox section there is a white box that shows the version of WordTyrant you're currently using. I'm suing 1.1.1 (build #74)

This is what it looks like when you tweet your progress stats.

Overall, I love this app. It does exactly what I need it to do, and it keeps my stats very well organized. No more hunting for clunky widgets and word count Excel sheets that you have to swap out yearly. When you're finished with a project, simply save your stats to Dropbox or email them to yourself, then create a new project. I can see myself using this app for a long time to come.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

NaNo Panic and Word Tyrant

This morning I thought I'd lost 2,000 words on my current wip. I searched through my project folder and the file wasn't there. I was starting to really sweat it until I noticed a document caught up in a file full of recent pictures. I clicked it open and breathed a sigh of relief. I found my lost document. 

What's kind of funny is that I've been saying for a few weeks that I truly hate this book, that I hate even thinking about it. Motivating myself to work on it has been a chore. And yet, when I think I've lost a chunk of it, I find myself in panic mode. Um, yeah, time for a attitude adjustment, I think. Obviously the project matters to me or I wouldn't be so nervous about losing it. 

My goal today is to write 2300 brand new words. That will put me at the (approximately) 45% mark. 

I have so much story to go back and weave in, I'm kind of sweating it. At the same time, I'm determined to finish the redraft this month. Then I can spend December baking cookies, trimming the tree, and trimming the flab out of my story. First things first, I need to hit my targeted word count of 50-55k. 

I'm using an app called Word Tyrant to record my word count. It tells me how much I need to write per day to meet my goal, and more. As soon as I can take some screen shots, I'll post a thorough review. 

I used to have writing progress trackers on the sidebar of my blog, but my favorite site went dark in 2007. I still haven't found a comparable widget. The widgets available now are either too large, too clunky, don't allow enough customization, or they require you to remake the status bar every time you update your word count. Baloney on that. I went to the App Store looking for something better. Word Tyrant it is. 

Moving along...

If you visit my website please consider signing up for my new newsletter. You can find the newsletter sign up on this page: . I will be doing away with my yahoo group next year. I will be hosting a giveaway after the first of the year that is exclusive to my newsletter subscribers. Oh, and no worries about spam. The same as my yahoo group, I don't send out a newsletter unless I have important book release news to share, or if there's an upcoming book event my readers might want to know about.

That's all I've got for now. I need to get going on this wip. I'm going to do two 1k1hr writings and see where that lands me.

Wishing you a happy day! 

Poor Kips. He didn't want his picture taken. It was too cold to be cute...or so he thought. ;o)

Sunday, November 10, 2013

50k/30 :: Writing a Novel on Your Phone

In the spirit of NaNoWriMo, I'm continuing my blog series about writing a novel on your phone or iPod Touch. To view my previous post, you can read what I had to say about the Werdsmith app here:

Another writing app I like is 50k/30. It's $1.99 in the iTunes store, and it's well worth the price. It's so easy to use, there really isn't even a learning curve. You click the "write" button and start typing. It auto saves your work, so you can close it down in a hurry. Best of all, it has no ads. Bless the designer's heart. No ads.

You can pick up a copy for your iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch (5.1 OS or later) at the iTunes store:

I'm actually using the 50k/30 app more than the others I've bought and/or downloaded for free. It's perfect for NaNoWriMo. It has a simple, streamlined launch screen. You simply tap the Write button at the bottom of the screen to bring up the text space for writing. Or you click the flower/gear in the bottom right corner to adjust the app settings.

(Click the pictures to make them larger.)

There are six color themes to choose from.
I selected black because it was easier to
photograph in my office. 
One of the things you can adjust on the settings page is the theme's colors. In the YouTube demonstration, the theme bar is color coded. Mine isn't. You can clearly see the theme bar on my app screen is off white/gray. However, the color changer works fine for me. Just click one of the segments on the theme bar and you'll get a new color. In this case, it's pink.

Available theme colors are black, gray, pink, lavender, bright turquoise blue, and aqua green. All of the colors are shown on the 50k/30 app page in the iTunes store. 

Also on the settings page, you can adjust the font face and font size, you can turn auto correct on or off, and you can adjust how you want the app to count your words.

One of the things I like best about this app is that you set how you want the word count tracker to figure up your words. You can get it to show you an exact word count as you type it. Or, you can go to settings, and set the word tracker to give you a count down showing how many words you have left to reach 50k. You can see an example of both in the photos below.

The writing page is the simple to use. It auto saves your work, so there is no worry about forgetting to click a save button. There are only two icons to work with. The house icon will take you back to the 50k/30 launch screen. The envelope button allows you to email your work.

I love this app. It's my favorite so far. It's simple to use, has a streamlined interface, works exactly the way it is advertised, and doesn't take up a lot of space on your device. Added bonus - like I said before - no ads. Beautiful. I highly recommend 50k/30.

Notice: I purchased the 50k/30 app with my own money, and the article reflects my honest opinion. I do not get paid in any way for endorsing this product. I am not an affiliate of 50k/30 or iTunes. I do not receive any compensation for readers clicking on my links. They are there simply for your convenience.

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Werdsmith for iPod Touch - Writing On The Go

I'd be lost without my iPod Touch. I use it for everything. When I'm at home, it serves as my alarm clock, my recipe saver, my digital camera, my blogging platform, and my private diary. I have the Kindle app installed, which I use regularly. The notepad is currently chock full of information tidbits - notes to myself, fragments of dreams and other stuff I don't want to forget such as story ideas and research information. The list goes on. I even have a few tarot card apps for fun.

I recently read an article about an author who wrote her first novel using her phone. Since I usually carry either my phone or my iPod around the house with me, I figured it might be fun to find a writing app for when I'm away from the computer. I did some searching over at the iTunes App Store and tried out a few of the freebie writing apps. I'm still on the fence about using the iPod for more than just spontaneous writing fits, but if I find it to be a productive computer alternative, I'll probably end up downloading the app to my phone as well.

Currently, my favorite writing productivity app is Werdsmith. It's described as a portable writing studio. I'm using the free version, but there is an upgrade ($2.99), which is supposed to remove the writing limit. If I end up using the app a lot, I'll end up springing for the upgrade.

The free version is really nice. Simply slide your thumb down the screen to start working on a new project. You can also sort your work by projects versus ideas. To turn an idea into a project, simply give it a word count goal. You can then track your goal on the export page. Oh, yeah, I guess I should have mentioned that part already. You can export your work, no strings attached. I email my snips directly to my inbox.

On the export page, there's also a word counter to tell you how many words you've written, and how long it will take to read your snip. Or, you can skip exporting via email altogether. There are buttons to share and publish your work. At the moment, I'm not sure where the publish button sends your project. If you test it out, be sure to let me know!

When you update your profile on the app, from what I can tell, it gives you a profile page on the Werdsmith website where you can share samples of your work. I don't see myself using that feature, but it's there so I figured it's worth mentioning.

If I continue using this app, I'll likely end up adding it to my phone as well. I've been looking for a better way to write while in waiting rooms and while riding in the car, and I think I may have found it. ☺

Sunday, November 03, 2013

Featured Book : Rane Sjodin's Death Dealer

Featured Book 
by Rane Sjodin

Order at Smashwords 
Barnes & Noble
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Amazon Kindle
Amazon Paperback
Copyright © 2013 by Rane Sjodin
eBook ISBN: 978-0-9899610-0-4
Paperback ISBN: 978-0-9899610-1-1
Full Length Novel. Release Date 10/29/2013.

My name is Cimmerian. I’m a dragon shifter living in New Orleans. Someone is screwing up my pre-Mardi Gras plans by leaving mutilated human bodies all over town. I have to find out whether or not a demon is behind this. If so, are they building a human to animate with demon magic? If not, we have a human serial killer just in time for the town to flood with tourists.
Things were so much quieter on vacation.
Damn, I’m glad to be back at work.


Never play poker with a dragon. A full house in my hand, I sat at a table with five young demons playing cards. As a six foot five inch dragon living in New Orleans, I was used to dangerous situations. My name is Cimmerian, known as the Death Dealer for my ability to behead demons and drink in their putrid struggling souls. After ten years away from my job enforcing the laws of the Arcane Court here in New Orleans, I was back.

My extended vacation followed my attempted murder by a demon, Nitha. The Court removed her powers giving me a decade off. I’d saved Wretched Spawn from her four hundred years ago. From that day on, his aunt painted a red-hot target on my forehead and ass. Authority wasn’t my thing, but I had nowhere to hide from her. My best bet was to stay with Wretch and fight his psychotic aunt on the Court’s payroll. It helped too that he and I became the best of friends.

The demons and I sat around a backroom table in a bar on Bourbon Street. Tonight, in my human form, I’d decided on a game with talkative demons to see if there was anything we should investigate. Something I could use to blow off steam. My claws had started to itch.
“Are you sure you boys wouldn’t rather play Go Fish?” I looked at the demons who showed up tonight dressed for a gangster movie. “Or would you like to get back to the set of Boardwalk Empire?”

They laughed in response, and then from their appointed leader. “You don’t threaten us, Death Dealer. Your talons have been disabled.”
The largest demon in the group, who was armed with a machine gun, pointed it at my chest. Shifting to dragon was the most natural thing for me to do. I started the shift. Nothing happened. My chest wouldn’t deflect bullets without my scales, and my heart began to pound. They had spelled me so I couldn’t change. Demons were born with the ability to do magic organically. I had to get that power by devouring their souls. I was empty.

“You are useless.” The leader leaned back in his chair like this was a show.

The smell of sulfur infused every breath I took as the demons’ excited stench ran the cloud of cologne away. I tried to shift again, but when it didn’t work, I knew I was in trouble. The guy with the machine gun shot at me. I pushed down hard with my heels and pushed myself over backward in the chair. As soon as I was on the ground, demons covered me with punches to my chest and legs. The dragon strength present, even in human form, allowed me to feel the blows without pain. The only way to break the spell was by moonlight. If I waited for them to wear out, I could walk outside and shift.

They tried to pull my arms out while the man with the gun stood next to me. I flipped over to protect my heart and hands while they pulled my shirt and pants off kicking and punching me. Annoyed at their antics, I was tempted to let them continue until fatigued. This wasn’t the first time an amateurish group of demons had tried to boost their reputation by beating me up. With a stronger muscle structure and virtually unbreakable bones, their feeble blows came off as little more than stings.

The gun was the threat I needed to avoid in the room, not the demons. These idiots would make a mistake, so I waited.
“Look at the pretty colors on his back,” one said.

“Let’s see if his ass turns colors.” Another ripped off my underwear.

What the fuck? That pissed me off. I pulled my hands under my chest and pushed up while tucking my legs under in one motion. The sudden move stopped the pummeling as they regrouped, or the big guy aimed his machine gun. I didn’t know and didn’t wait to find out.

Someone’s feet appeared on my right side. I grabbed each ankle in one of my hands and yanked him as I stood up holding him in front of me. He didn’t cover my entire body only shielding my chest area. The sounds of rapid gunfire and the thrashing of the demon in my hands accompanied the reek of sweat, sulfur, and gunpowder. The shooter stopped. Lowering the demon, I peered between his legs. The rest of the group stood there dumbfounded. It seemed they had come to the end of their plans.

“That’s all you have?” I threw the demon to the floor.

“It’s still four to one.” The largest one tossed the gun away and pulled a grenade from his pocket.

“You brought a grenade to a poker game?” Outnumbered and now outgunned I didn’t have much choice. I threw the table at him and took off as he grunted on impact.

Running down the road I searched for an alley away from humans and large enough for my wings. I put twenty yards between us within the first block. Not the best way to end a poker game. I should’ve attracted attention. But it was New Orleans at three in the morning, and I was just another naked man running down Bourbon Street. •

For more information about Rane Sjodin, you can visit the author's blog at

Friday, November 01, 2013

Welcome to November :: National Novel Writing Month

quillsvilleIt's November 1st! Good luck all you NaNoWriMo folks out there! 

It's National Novel Writing Month, aka NaNoWriMo. Are you joining in the madness this year? I've participated several times. It's great fun. I'm going to be working on a side project for NaNo this year, but it will be off the record, since I really need to focus most of my attention on wrapping up a requested book. 

If you've never tried NaNoWriMo, I highly recommend it. It's really a good motivator, especially if you struggle to finish your works in progress. 

Visit to sign up for free. There is a message board where you can find others in your area or across your genre for "pep talks and support". Some areas even host "write-ins", where NaNo-ers meet up at designated locations and to do group writings, find local writing friends, and motivate each other to finish their projects. 

If you're participating this year, I wish you the best of luck. Remember, it's not about crafting the perfect book on the first go, but rather to get the book out of your head and on the page. It can be broken. It can be messy. You can clean it up later. Just write, write, write!  After a month of nose to the grindstone writing, it's immensely satisfying to type those two beautiful words every writer longs to hear - The End. 

I wish all the 2013 participants the best of luck. Happy Writing!