Category: Writing Tools: Technology

Google Drive as a Tool for Writing

Writing on the go, to me, is just called writing. I am always on the go. I have an active life, and I am busy with many things. Therefore, an important part of any tool for me is portability. I have a smartphone, a tablet, a laptop, and a desktop that I use for writing. I prefer my desktop over everything else, but I have the others because life has other demands for me. One big thing I looked for in my writing tool is the portability, and the ability to work across multiple platforms.

Google works well on my windows desktop and laptop, and also works via apps on my smartphone and tablet. One drawback to the android app is that spell-check does not work. This can be an advantage sometimes, when I need to keep writing and suppress my need to constantly edit as I am writing. As it is, I switch to the desktop or laptop for final edits, and access to the spell-checker.

Another great tool inside the online version of the Google word processor program is the ability to research topics. I can highlight a word, and then go to the tools menu and select research. This will open up a side pane with relevant links. This is nice when I am doing some quick research for a story I am writing. It can be distracting, as I do have a tendency to love research.  The word processor offers all of the basic formatting features I need, and allows for the exporting of documents in commonly used formats, so that I can port it over to Adobe InDesign or Microsoft Word as needed.

The spreadsheet also comes in very handy. I use it to keep a “plot workbook” as I call it, with my notes for each chapter, POV, and character and place notes. This helps me to keep ideas, and to re-orient quickly when I resume working on a particular story.

In the future, I hope to band together with some other authors and publish an anthology.  Google Drive allows me to collaborate easily with others. I believe it is even now possible to track who made what specific changes to a document.

It took me a while to settle on my writing tool. I do not like to post public criticisms, so I will not mention specific software, but I did try many. I tried dedicated writing apps, designed specifically for writing stories. I tried various combinations of software in conjunction with cloud storage, I even tried some popular note-writing apps to see if they would work out for me. Google docs is what I ended up coming back to.

I remember reading a review of an app, and it really resonated with me when the author of the article stated that power users often like more simple app interfaces, whereas newbies usually like “flashier” apps. I am not sure about the power user versus newbie distinction, but I know that I do appreciate a simple interface. Google Docs does provide that simple interface that I appreciate.

One more great thing about using the Google Docs on Google Drive, is that Google Docs do not count toward the space limit. In other words, you can have an unlimited amount of Google formatted documents on Google Drive.

How do you find you eBooks to read? Please respond.

pixabay public domain

pixabay
public domain

The USA Today does not always publish the most reliable of polls, but this recent article on how eBooks are changing reading habits seems significant. It also just makes logical sense. More people are purchasing and using eReaders to read their books. Along with this comes a transformation in  the way that people shop for books. When one relies on an eReader, then it is less desirable to go to a brick-and-mortar store to browse books. Particularly, when people stated in the poll that their biggest reason for not reading is because they do not have the time. With a time crunch, who wants to strap on galoshes and traipse to the bookstore?

This brings up an interesting problem though. When something transforms in this way, there becomes a new way. I have often struggled with how to find new books to read. I feel much like I am stabbing in the dark, rather than using a reliable method of finding new, quality books.

I love to support independent artists as well. So for me, that introduces another layer. How do I find indie authors that have amazing books that I have not heard of? I do really believe in quality as well though. That means I also want to weed out those poor quality works.

An example here is that I recently read a book that has been recommended on my Amazon page for numerous months. Probably years. I jumped into the first book of the series. There were typos, but not so bad that I could not enjoy the book. However, there were numerous, gaping plot holes, where the book did not follow its own logic (a big problem for greens such as me.) There were also numerous instances where characters acted outside of their given personality, with no explanation. One example: there was a king and a queen, where the king absolutely adores the queen. The queen is a horrid, evil, power-hungry person, while the king is compassionate and just person who is touted to be able to read and know people very well. If he knows people so well, and is so compassionate, why on earth would he adore this horrid person as his wife? The book offered no explanation.  I loved the characters, and I loved the world-building, but the inconsistencies were a huge disappointment for me, such that I will not be reading any further books in the series.

So, how do I find books from indie authors that are high quality, that fall within what I like to read? Right now, I use the Amazon recommendations quite a bit, but I must admit that it is really hit-or-miss, and I end up buying many books that I do not finish reading. Yes, I do read the reviews for the books before purchasing. I also cannot help but to think there are some gems out there that I would love to read, but I have just never heard of the books.

If you would not mind responding please, I would love to hear from you. 

Do you primarily read eBooks, or psychical books? What methods do you use to find new books to read? Do you ever read indie authors, and if so, how do you find indie books to read?

Papa Bear

Bear

What Would Papa Bear Do?

I haven’t posted in a while, life has been so busy! I recently ordered and received Adobe Creative Suite, so I have been playing with that a bit. I drew the above image and put it on the fridge to remind my kids to always do the right thing, haha. My wife calls me “papa bear” to the kids sometimes.

So this was from Illustrator. I also got Photoshop, and most importantly for my self-published novel, Adobe InDesign, yay!  It is exciting and motivating.

“Mastering” CSS

I spent some time today learning how to do CSS for the blog. I had changed the comment prompt at the bottom of posts recently, and it was mega-huge, and all caps. Arg! I messed with it and messed with it, to no avail. Then, finally I decided to override the the default CSS and make some corrections. It took me a while to make them, but I am finally happy with how things are. The only thing still plaguing me is a couple of widgets that have a different title font than the rest of the widgets. Still, most of it is working well! I also added a background. Let me know if you see any things that I missed!

The Story Cartel: Great for Readers and Writers

One thing you may see from time to time is I am a big advocate for independent writers. I think there are so many great stories out there that not many people have heard of. What a shame, because connecting the stories with an appreciative audience would be a great match. One part of that is just that potential readers may just not have heard of the book.

That is where the Story Cartel comes in. I have actually been meaning to post this for a little while now, since I first heard of this website. It is a website where independent authors can offer their books for free to people, in exchange for the courtesy of a review on Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

Isn’t That Just “Buying” a Review?

No. For two reasons. One, in order for it to be buying, money or bribery needs to change hands, and none of that is going on here. Two, the reviews do not have to be favorable or geared in any certain way, there is no pressure to provide only favorable reviews.

Don’t Interdependent Novels Suck?

Yes, some of them do. Some of them are full of holes in the story, misspelled words, and grammar and punctuation errors. There are also some traditionally published works that I happen to think are horrid too. So there is no guarantee in any particular arena that a story is amazing just based on how it was produced. However, there are some amazing writers who have decided to forego that arduous traditional publishing route, and have a great story and product to share. So independent does not equal bad.

To get involved with the Story Cartel, just visit and sign up if you want to be available to review books. You will receive an email, and if a story interests you,you can opt in. You can also opt out by just not responding to that particular email, because not every story is for every person. I am not sure exactly what the process is for getting your work listed if you are a writer, but there is a process for that as well.