Grand schemes

I had a few things on my to-do list this weekend, but the most important of these was getting Shadows May Fall from this:

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to this:

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That right there is how Shadows May Fall gets from a Scrivener project to a Microsoft Word document that will soon become a print book.

This has so far been painless thanks to Scrivener and Ed Ditto’s fantastic book, but now here comes the part that will probably make me pull my hair out – putting it all together.

But I have a tentative release month: March. At least, that’s the date I gave Library and Archives Canada when I applied for my ISBNs.

I’m scheming some other things – a few small giveaways and goodies and whatnot – but at the moment I’m reeling a little over being almost done. Hurrah!

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The History Geek

A bit of info on me: I enrolled in university as a high school drop out back in 2001. This was prompted by a work study I did in tourism, during which I had to give a presentation to the whole school on something tourist-like. I picked the Halifax Explosion because a) it was a subject I knew a lot about, and b) I was actually taking the work-study course in a building that had been affected by the blast — actually, Charlie’s school in Shadows May Fall. I had ten minutes to talk. I took thirty. People I didn’t even know came up to me afterward to chat about what I had told them and tell me that they had family members who had died to had been here or there during the disaster. After which, the coordinator of the course pulled me into her office and asked me if I had ever thought of going to university and going into public history.

Long story short, I went to university and got my degree. Sadly, not in history. I couldn’t find an adviser who was willing to champion my interests and the nearest public history course was halfway across the country, so I graduated with a degree in English and went to work.

I’m still a history geek, which is how I sat down to write Shadows May Fall and can happily research its sequels. This is the time period I was interested in studying — early 20th century when the new technology was phones and cars and fancy appliances. I grew up listening to stories my grandmother (who very heavily influenced the character of Dorothy) and grandfather told me, so the period is quite vivid in my head and will creep into the third and fourth books planned for the series.

Being a history geek who has delved into writing history, I can squirm with delight when I see something like this:

Ian’s Battalion from Shadows May Fall. Literally 100 years ago today in the timeline of the book, my main character was left alone to shoulder the burden of keeping her family together. It gives me a bit of a shiver, because stepping away from the fictional world it makes me stop and think about all the real women who had their worlds uprooted when their fathers, husbands and sons boarded that ship and went away, and all the young men who had no idea whether they’d ever set foot on Canadian soil again.

The Wonky “T”

Writing full time on an iPad.

The “T” key on my laptop is wonky. I’ve tried everything to fix it, save for Krazy Glue. My last resort is going to the Apple store and see if they can fix it, but I’m not quite prepared to be that person who walks into the Apple store because I can’t fix a key on my laptop.

I have a Bluetooth keyboard I can pair with my computer, but I’m not really a desk person. I like to write while sitting up in bed or with my feet up in front of the TV, and using some sort of lap-desk setup can be a little awkward.

This was not good. I’m set in my ways. I like writing the way I write. I started off using a typewriter and only traded it in for a computer because I couldn’t get a new typewriter. I like the whole package.

I have an iPad Mini that’s getting past its prime, but with the wonky “T” making the writing process aggravating to write the way I’m comfortable, I decided to give the iPad a go as a dedicated writing device.

As it turns out, it’s pretty damn good. I’ve edited Shadows May Fall on it, carrying the iPad to work and whatnot to tinker at it when I’ve got some free time. I’ve written two novellas and one short story (trust me, this is a lot for the summer months when my productivity plummets) and I’ve plotted out an entire series spanning several generations. I’ve organized my notes across different services. I’ve done way more on the iPad than I thought I would, and I’m actually thinking of turning it into my full-time primary writing device.

I haven’t mastered the part where you get a book to ebook/print using an iPad and I’m not even sure it’s possible, so I’ll still need some sort of device to get to that point (and this is where I become a desk person). However, it’s totally doable to write full time on your iPad, and best of all it’s distraction free.

Below is a list of apps that I’ve used. You don’t necessarily need all of them, but I’ve found that they’re worth the money.

Scrivener ($19.99 US)

Whether you’re writing a 6-book novel or you like to tinker with short stories, this is the app to have. I’ve got all of my writing saved in one project file now, versus before when they were sorted as Word docs on flash drives, cloud drives, and so on. Novels and novellas I’m working on get their own project file, outlined in parts, chapters and scenes, written in its entirety and kept completely in one compact place. When your writing is done and you’re ready to move onto the next step, just send it as a Word doc to your favourite cloud service .

Google Keep ($0)

Some folks swear by Evernote, but I rarely use it for writing. I just don’t like it, to be honest. What I do like is Google Keep, where your notes look like they’re pinned to a bulletin board. You can label them, add photos, and so on. Simple and free, yet totally my thing.

Wordly ($0, Upgrade Available)

I’m hesitant to include this because I’ve found that focusing too much on word count takes away from simply sitting down to write. However, for those of you doing NaNoWriMo or want to time how many words you can write in a specific period of time, Wordly is a nice little app.

A Novel Idea ($0, Upgrade Available)

I. Love. This. Ever since I decided to expand Shadows May Fall into a series spanning over several generations of the Monroes & Gastons, A Novel Idea has helped to keep track of it all, but it would work fantastically even if you’re working on a stand-alone work of any length. Even better than the character sketches in Scrivener. I can bring up a character sketch and see where he or she fits into subsequent books, his or her relationship to other characters, and so on. Love love LOVE.

Wattpad ($0)

Contrary to what some writers will vehemently argue, giving your work away for free is not necessarily a bad thing. Margaret Atwood, always eager to try out new things for authors, is active on Wattpad. You can load your completed book like I did with Shadows May Fall or you can load chapters as you write them to build a readership. Use the app to do this, and to read what other people are writing. I haven’t gotten around to using Tablo, but I plan to do so next month. I think it’s pretty much the same idea as Wattpad, but whereas Wattpad is geared more towards young adult, Tablo has a more general audience.

Byword ($6)

Ok so you don’t need Byword, but I still like it. When I need a break to just sit and write something for fun, Byword is like a fresh sheet of paper.

Dropbox ($0)

Syncs with just about everything.

Google Music (for example)

Wherever you get your tunes from, you can have them on your iPad while you do your thing. I personally love Google Music ($10/month) and its playlists. Get yourself some nice headphones to go with them.

And, finally, in honour of my wonky “T” key, a Bluetooth Keyboard. When you want to sit down at a desk or table and feel like you’re using a computer, just stand up your iPad, connect your keyboard, and boom. It’s almost like working on a desktop.

Now, all of these apps you can also use on your iPhone, so if you want to give it a whirl on a Plus, go for it.

So there we have it. How I managed to trade in my laptop and plough through multiple projects on an iPad. Could I ever give up my Mac? Probably not. There are programs I use on that which can’t be found on Windows (which I’ll probably blog about at some point,) and frankly I just love the operating system. However, I could give up my MacAir for a Mac Mini, which is about $3-400 cheaper and use the iPad as my dedicated writing device.

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Whoops

It’s such a me thing to do to whip up a new website, open a blog, link the website to the blog, and then have zero content on said blog. What can I say? It’s been a crazy fall so far? No, this is just what I do.

I do plan on blogging at some point. Right now I’m using my free time to get Shadows May Fall to print and that pretty much has shoved everything else out of my brain, so otherwise my free time is spent watching hours of Let’s Play videos on YouTube.

In the meantime, head to http://www.shadowsmayfall.com and read the book for free, check out the links and all that stuff. If you’ve already done that, and that’s why you’re here … er, I got nothing. Maybe spend some time reading Dog Rates?