Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Over at Disenchanted & Co.

Today over on the series blog I have a fun post about how you can use old pics to spark ideas for characterization and world-building; stop in if you get a chance to see some of my collection of Victorian-era portrait photos, too.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013


At the first writer's conference I ever attended I went to a chat with a popular genre author who was there to meet the fans and promote their latest release. Toward the end of the session a fan asked how many books the author had published, and the author answered "I don't know." When some of the fans tried throwing out some numbers, the author added, "After so many books you lose track." As a rookie still waiting for her first novel to hit the shelves, I couldn't imagine how you could forget how many books you'd published, but after I left that chat I made a promise to myself never to become that writer.

Now I know a little better what causes writers to develop backlist amnesia, but it never happened to me. I can recite from memory the titles, premises and story synopses for every single one of the books I've written -- it's a great party trick, btw -- and I know what I personally put into them. I remember what inspired them, why I chose to pursue the ideas, the amount of work I put in outlining and refining them, the endless hours at the keyboard writing them, every editor I worked with to bring them through production, and all the good and bad associated with that process.

Every story also represents dozens of paths I took along the journey, and contains little reminders of the hopes and dreams, the disappointments and the discoveries, the failures and the triumphs. And while I'm sure I've forgotten a few things (please don't ever ask me to recite a complete character list for the StarDoc series off the top of my head) another thing I've made sure to remember about my books is it what an immense privilege it has been to be able publish them, and how grateful I am to my readers for all the support you've provided during that journey. Writers, if you're in this gig for the long haul, I hope you never forget those things, either (or how many books you've published.)

In less than two weeks my 50th novel, Her Ladyship's Curse, will be released. If Publishing were like marriage, this would (sort of) be our golden anniversay novel, so I intend to celebrate. I'm taking Her Ladyship on a virtual tour starting on Thursday of this week, but on August 12th I'll back here at PBW and the Disenchanted & Co. blog to party with my people.

I'm curious, too -- have any of you authors out there already published your 50th novel, and if so, did you do anything special to celebrate it? If you're still headed toward that landmark book, how do you think you'll mark the moment? Let us know in comments.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Not a Dime Ten

Ten Things You Can Have for Free

Freeware caution: always scan free downloads of anything for bugs and other threats before dumping the programs into your hard drive.

Anki is a program "which makes remembering things easy. Because it's a lot more efficient than traditional study methods, you can either greatly decrease your time spent studying, or greatly increase the amount you learn. Anyone who needs to remember things in their daily life can benefit from Anki. Since it is content-agnostic and supports images, audio, videos and scientific markup (via LaTeX), the possibilities are endless. For example: Learning a language; studying for medical and law exams; memorizing people's names and faces; brushing up on geography; mastering long poems; even practicing guitar chords" (OS: Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android, and any device with a web browser)

Clibor is a freeware to "manage the history of things you have saved to the clipboard (text). You can also register phrases you use a lot as Set Phrases and send them to the clipboard at any time. Clibor has a lot of different settings you can change and is very customizable. It is easy to use; you can store up to 1,000 items on the clipboard; you can add Set Phrases. (It is possible to sort them into groups and add memos); it is possible to change the format of the content within the clipboard history. (regular expression of find and replace text, aligning similar pattern etc); you can copy paste like FIFO/LIFOl you can change the design; support Unicode; support Incremental search; encryption (using a startup password) on saved file is also possible; selection of multiple items in the clipboard history, exception list, monitoring window preference settings are possible" (OS: Windows 2000/XP/Vista/7/8 [32-Bit/64-Bit])

GenScriber is a "transcription editor for census records, church records, birth, marriage ,baptisms, burials, index records etc. GenScriber is designed to be intuitive and easy to use. The interface is comprised of several resizable windows within a single main window. A register image can be viewed in the top window while data is input in the bottom window. The data input area uses a spreadsheet style grid, but GenScriber is not a spreadsheet. GenScriber is a stable, non-volatile data input application, designed for a specific purpose. The problems associated with using spreadsheets for genealogical data input do not apply here. All cell inputs are alphanumeric. No assumptions are made about the data type. Dates and values are not automatically modified to some alien value you didn't want. Unless you specify a special action on a column, all data input remains exactly as you entered it" (OS: Windows 2000/XP/Vista/7; Linux)

InfoRapid KnowledgeBase Builder is "one of the most useful programs for mind mapping and network thinking, i.e. for understanding relationships, finding patterns and deriving or making sustainable decisions. The program is free for private use, so that as many people as possible can use the program and benefit from it. You will ask: What is the difference between InfoRapid KnowledgeBase Builder and all the other programs used to create Mind Maps? Why should I prefer it? With the other programs, the size of the diagram is limited, they quickly get confusing if they get larger. Not so with InfoRapid KnowledgeBase Builder. It can manage millions of items. While pure Mind Map programs are often limited to hierarchical trees, InfoRapid KnowledgeBase Builder can connect any item with any other. It also contains an archive, into which documents and images can be imported and from which they can be attached to any item or relation" (OS: Windows XP/Vista/7/8 [32-Bit/64-Bit])

OfficeIns is a "free tool that lists all installed Microsoft Office add-ins on your computer. It displays detailed information for each add-in and gives you the option to enable or disable them" (OS: Windows XP/Vista/7/8 [32-Bit/64-Bit])

Simple Notes is a "desktop notepad with some amazing features. From being able to float above other open windows, to its lack of an annoying taskbar entry, to its ability to speak anything you type into it, Simple Notes has a wide range of features designed to make note-taking an enjoyable experience" (OS: Windows XP/Vista/7)

TaskUnifier is a "task management sofware based on the well known GTD (Getting Things Done) method. TaskUnifier helps you manage your tasks, folders, contexts and goals. Features: Synchronize - Synchronize your tasks with Toodledo; Folders - Use folders to organize your tasks by projects; Contexts - Use contexts to organize your tasks depending on your where you are and what you can do at your current location; Goals - Use goals to help you achieve some goals by executing specific tasks; Subtasks - You can divide some big tasks into multiple subtasks; Tags - Your tasks can have one or more tags; Themes - TaskUnifier is provided with a lot a themes; Language - TaskUnifier is translated in English and in French; Proxy - If you are being a proxy it is not a problem: (OS: Designer notes "Multiplatform - TaskUnifier is a java software which means that you can use it on any operating system with a JVM [Windows, Mac OS, Linux, ...]" Requires Java Runtime Environment.)

TextCrawler is "a fantastic tool for anyone who works with text files. This cool utility enables you to instantly find and replace words and phrases across multiple files and folders. It utilises a powerful Regular Expression engine to enable you to create sophisticated searches, preview replace, perform batch operations, extract text from files and more. It is fast and easy to use, and as powerful as you need it to be" (OS: Windows 2K,XP,Vista,7 & 8)

ToDo List is a "rare form of task management tool, one that allows you to repeatedly sub-divide your tasks into more manageable pieces whilst still presenting a clean and intuitive user experience.
ToDoList has been in continuous development for the last 4 years and is an ongoing project. Your tasklists are stored in XML which provides many opportunities for advanced formatting and printing using stylesheets. ToDoList´s flexible design makes it ideal for both IT related projects as well as more general GTD uses" (OS: Win 98/ME/2000/XP/2003/Vista/7)

ZenKey allows you to "control almost all aspects of your computer via the keyboard and mouse. Using keystrokes that work no matter what program you are in, you can: launch a program or bring it back into focus; open a document, folder or Internet resource; perform an Internet search; minimize or maximize a window; resize, move or alter a window; issue a Media command, such as play, pause or volume up/down; start your screensaver or shutdown your computer; access hidden Windows utilities; control Winamp or compatible media players (we love QCD Player!); simulate a series of keystrokes; instantly display any menu of programs or actions at the mouse pointer. Using the ZenKEY configuration utility, you can add any program, add or alter any menu, and assign any keystroke to perform any action. A new ´Auto-window transparency´ feature allows windows to be made transparent as then gain or lose focus" (OS: Win 9x/ME/NT/2K/XP/2K3/Vista/7/8)

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Comments Catchup Day

See you in comments.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Free Disenchanted & Co. e-book

To get this free e-book, click on the cover art.

Friday, July 26, 2013

The Chandelier Tree

Sometimes an impulse can result in an unexpected and astonishing work of beauty. Here's one I'd love to have in my neighborhood (narrated by the creator, for those of you at work):

Chandelier Tree from Colin Kennedy on Vimeo.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Off Again

I'm bailing on you all today to get some work finished. In the meantime, here's a video from Stanislas Giroux using bokeh, one of my favorite photography techniques, to turn firework explosions into surreal blooms of light (with background music, for those of you at work):

暈け Bokehxplosions from Stanislas Giroux on Vimeo.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

E-reader Brain

I read an interesting article in the August 2013 issue of The Writer, Internet Brain by Hillary Casavant, about various studies involving brain activity when reading. Evidently the neurological effects of reading fiction offer some great stimulation for the brain, from invoking sensory responses to allowing us to empathize better with others. Reading, say the scientists, is a complex action that develops deep focus and gives our brains a boost.

Online reading did not fare so well by comparison. When we're on the Internet we are flooded by so much information that our minds have to skim instead of focus. We read and think in the shallow manner required by such multi-tasking, and while interesting, evidently to keep doing this for long periods of time is mentally exhausting.

I don't spend enough time online to get tired of it; one hour a day is my max -- that was about average for all Americans back in 2011, according to the article. One other statistic from the article rattled me a bit, and that was that at the time of the same survey Americans were watching five hours of television per day. Disclaimer: I don't turn on the television most days, and the few times per week that I do it's to check the Weather Channel for the Local on the 8's or any tropical storm report, so that's why it shocked me. I can't imagine sitting in front of a television watching the broadcasts for five hours every single day.

I think this is interesting from another perspective, too. I have noticed that I read faster -- pretty much in skimming fashion -- when I use the e-reader. When I settle down with a print book, I'm much slower to turn the pages. Using the e-reader is a lot like being on the Internet or watching television, plus I don't consider it a book; it's a device. A device to me is a tool, to be used for work, while a print book is a pleasure to be enjoyed.

While I appreciate whatever time and shelf space the e-reader saves me, it hasn't made the reading experience more enjoyable; I think it's the opposite. I started reading quite a bit on it at first, but after a month I began setting it aside and eventually went back to reading print books. Over the last six months I haven't used it except a couple of times to buy books that were released only in e-book form.

Ms. Casavant's piece makes me wonder if the dissatisfaction I've felt with reading books on the e-reader could be due to me skimming instead of reading them as focused as I would be on a print book. I thought I simply didn't like reading on the e-reader because of the lighted screen in my face, but maybe it's my brain automatically shifting into that online shallow/multi-tasking mode. So tomorrow I'm going to try to read a new book on the e-reader but do it deliberately slowly, in the same way I would a print book. Maybe if I focus on the words instead of how they're being delivered to my brain, I might get back my focus.

Your turn: have you noticed that you read differently when you use an e-reader versus print? Is it possible that you might be skimming more than deeply reading, or is there no noticeable difference for you? Let us know what you think in comments.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

New Idea-ology

While shopping at JoAnn for stuff for my August promotions I noticed Tim Holtz has some new Idea-ology products out on the market:

Starting clockwise from the pack with keys in the upper right corner, here's what they are:

Collage Keys -- four skeleton keys with blank recesses that you customize with ten included picture and epoxy stickers. These would be fun to design with your own images, too. ($9.99)

Compass Coins -- four metal disks in two sizes stamped with compass designs; great as game spinners, journal cover embellishments or whatever you want to make into a compass.  I'm going to try one of the larger coins in Tim's fillable pocket watch case, which you can see to the left of the coins. ($4.99 for the compass pack, and $7.99 for the pocket watch case.)

Custom Fasteners -- 24 large and small pronged, blank-faced fasteners that you customize with 43 included picture and epozy stickers; like the collage keys you could design these with your own images.  ($5.99)

Wishbones -- a fanciful little corked glass vial that contains 15 faux wishbones. As you can see in the close-up pic to the right here, you can remove the cork and the wishbones. I think they'd be great for assemblage art or just a spirit-boost gift for yourself or a friend.  Besides, who doesn't need a few more wishes?  ($5.99)

Monday, July 22, 2013

Hodge Podge Ten

Ten Interesting Things I Found on the Internet

Archaeology Magazine provides online, interactive access to digs all over the world -- see the links list here.

Someone asked me if I'd ever found an mind mapper site that allows you to work online versus downloading a program, and I finally found a free one --

e.e.cummings was an amazing poet, but did you know he was an artist, too?

Don't walk like an Egyptian, write like one with this online Egyptian Hieroglyphic typwriter, which produces fun texts like this:

Found in a junk shop: the creations of Charles Dellchau, by day a grumpy butcher, by night a secret and wildly imaginative artist (and I brazenly lifted this link right off Kris Reisz's live journal.)

Check your grammar for free online with this free online grammar checker.

Need an idea on what to write for your blog? Try a random Mind Bump.

If you're a devoted notebook addict like me you'll probably want to avoid Notebook Stories (not.) -- Create a cover for your self-pubbed book with art from independent artists that is not resold to other writers, starting at $69.00 (and since the artists make 70% of the purchase price I thought that was nice.)

Learn how to sit properly at your desk to eliminate lower back pain with this short YouTube video from Park City telvision (and I tried it and it actually worked for me.)

Got some interesting links you want to share? Post them in comments.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Comments Catchup Day

See you in comments.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Day Breaks

I looked at the wall calendar in the kitchen last week and realized a couple of things: it's not May (I'd forgotten to flip it for two months) and more than half the year has passed. I've been so busy time hasn't had to sneak away from me; it walked right out the front door with the last eight weeks. Back to school supplies are suddenly on display in every store I go to. We're halfway through Hurricane season, too.

I know staying busy and productive is better than being idle and depressed. In addition to a mountain of work I've tackled some particularly tough situations and resolved them, so I haven't wasted those blurry eight weeks. Out of them I took one day for myself to spend with the family, and that was great. The other 55 days I just worked, often from dawn until midnight, and that's not so good.

The next four weeks are going to be twice as busy for me as the last eight. There are a hundred things I have yet to get done for the series launch. E-mail is piling up again, and so are my housework and sewing projects. I've made promises to help my guy and my kid with their own projects, which are still waiting in the wings. I also have two proposals to finish, plans to make for the holidays, three rooms to unclutter and the year can't be half over because I'm going to need at least another year to get all this stuff done.

Unexpected things always happen, but when you're busy they only add to the stress. They can also have a toppling domino effect that creates new problems. For example, my car broke down while I was out running errands the other day. When I finally got home, I took an aspirin for the screaming headache I'd gotten waiting on the tow truck. I then had to rush to get dinner ready for visiting family (who called to say they were arriving two hours early), which resulted in me cutting open a finger. The cut was thankfully minor, but thanks to the aspirin I'd taken I couldn't stop the bleeding right away. I had to get my kid to help patch me up. My guy's job made him late getting home, so dinner had to be in two shifts -- taking twice as long, of course. Once I'd finished dishes, got my guests settled in and turned on my computer it was midnight. I still had to look at the copy my editor sent me for review, and naturally it needed extensive revision. By that time I was too tired and aggravated to do it, and I gave up and went to bed.

Despite all the problems I'd handled that day I felt like a complete failure, which activated my insomnia, which kept me staring at the ceiling most of the night. I think that's what stress does best -- no matter how hard we work, it never seems good enough.

After that wretched day I knew I really needed a break, so I looked for something unusual to do. I found a notice about a sale at an old hotel undergoing renovations. The new owners were clearing out 92 years' worth of old furniture, paintings and other unwanted items junk by selling it to the public. I'd never been to something like that, so I grabbed my kid, my camera, and went on a day trip. Here's a slideshow of what we saw (and I apologize for the poor lighting in some of the pics; they didn't have a lot of lights hooked up inside the hotel):

LynnViehl's Day Breaks album on Photobucket

It wasn't wall-to-wall antiques, but it was fun to browse through all the hotel junk. The last two pictures in the slideshow are what we bought -- my kid picked up a forest scene oil painting for $10.00, and I settled on an old brass door knob set for $1.00.

In the two hours we spent at the sale I had a few flashbacks to The Shining, but mainly I got a couple dozen story ideas. I also relaxed enough to spend a few more hours walking around town, browsing through an Asian market, having a wonderful lunch at this neat little diner and finishing up with stops at a bead store and a family-owned bakery. I didn't think about anything but what we were doing at the moment, and nothing we did that day was important, which made it priceless. When I got home I still had all the work waiting, but none of the stress was there. Taking that day break decompressed me, recharged my batteries and reset my expectations of myself. The all work/no play thing is really true.

What do you do to handle stress and give yourself a day break? Let us know in comments.

Friday, July 19, 2013

A Correction & A Title & Adrift

Some news on the new series -- I have a new/updated version of the cover art for Disenchanted & Co., and this replaces the cover I posted earlier this week:

Also it seems that the title for the next book in the Disenchanted & Co. series will be my original title, The Clockwork Wolf, as that's how it is being listed on the bookseller sites.

Finally for the Friday video, we have Simon Christen's gorgeous short film Adrift. If time ever took form, I think it would look like this (contains background music, for those of you at work):

Adrift from Simon Christen on Vimeo.

(Video link swiped from Gerard over at The Presurfer.)

Thursday, July 18, 2013


The Publishing Fairy has been appeased, and by random draw will be granting a BookWish to:

Gail Leinweber, who wrote I really liked Eloisa James's Once Upon A Tower (though the Rapunzel aspect is pretty subtle).

Gail, when you have a chance please send the title of the book you'd like along with your ship-to information to My thanks to everyone for joining in.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Appease the Fairy, Please

Last night the Publishing Fairy dropped by to whine about how I've been ignoring her lately. To keep the peace (and prevent her from cursing my next release) I'm giving her today's post and the chance to grant a BookWish* for one of my readers.

If you'd like to be the one for whom the wand waves, in comments to this post name a book you've just read that you really enjoyed (or if you haven't read anything enjoyable recently, just toss your name in the hat) by midnight EST tonight, July 17th, 2013. I'll choose one name at random from everyone who participates and grant the winner a BookWish. This giveaway is open to everyone on the planet, even if you've won something here at PBW in the past.

*A BookWish is any book of the winner's choice available for order online and that costs up to a maximum of $30.00 U.S. dollars (I'll cover any additional shipping costs involved.)

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Print Edition Cover Art

We have cover art for the print edition of Her Ladyship's Curse and His Lordship Possessed, which will be released together in January as one novel:

No surprises here, as it's the same artwork my publisher used for the e-book edition of Her Ladyship's Curse. Since this was my favorite of the two covers, however, I'm quite happy.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Writerisms Ten

Ten Things Writers Say (and What They Really Mean)
(The copy and revisions edition)

A copy-edit is something all writers look forward to.

A copy-edit is something all writers dodge until the last minute, and then gripe about for weeks after.

Generally I don't use as many ellipses as you've suggested in my stories.

Why do you think all my characters are stutterers and asthmatics?

I actually clarified this in Chapter One (note to editor).

(Note to self) He won't notice that I just went back and clarified this in Chapter One.

I appreciate all the corrections you took the liberty of making throughout the story, but in the process you seem to have changed my character's title.

363 times, and now he's the Viscount of an illicit sex act. Do you hate me or something?

I used an alternative spelling here, but I'll replace it with the more common word.

I misspelled the word it but I don't want to admit that.

Look at all these helpful little comments and suggestions on the writing.

Great, another copy-editor who thinks they're a writer.

May I STET this, please?

May I smack you in the head with my manuscript a few times, please?

There's a little problem with the cover copy.

There's a huge problem with the cover copy, and it took me two hours of anxiety attacks before I calmed down enough to write this e-mail. Excuse me while I go start freaking out again.

This scene is important to the development of the character and the plot, so I'd like it to remain intact.

This scene is important to me because it took me three weeks and nine rewrites to get it right, and I'm so in love with it I'm thinking of having it tattooed in Chinese on my left shoulder.

Why sure, I can run through the copy-edit, answer all two hundred of the queries and get it back to you tomorrow morning.

Goodbye, sleep, hello, expresso maker.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Comments Catchup Day

See you in comments.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Short Story Sub Op

I found this interesting sub op over at and thought I'd pass it along (and this one has much better payment terms than the last one):

Phobos magazine is looking for submissions for their inaugural issue: "We want short and flash fiction and poetry. We want horror, SF, fantasy, slipstream, adventure tales, noir exercises, bizarro experiments, boxing stories, and sea-yarns. We want well-written pulp fiction. Genre boundaries are unimportant. If your work attempts to astound, unsettle, thrill, baffle or completely terrify the reader, it probably qualifies. We want huge twists, epic journeys, two-fisted adventures, maximum drama, and we want it accomplished in under 3,000 words. We want writers unafraid to read their work before an audience, to record their stories for mass download, to be part of the process from typesetting to cover art to publication and beyond. This part is crucial; it takes more than a good story to be part of this, which is why we are strongly biased towards submissions from local writers. As such, if you'd prefer to "submit it and forget it", please look elsewhere. We'll be accepting two short stories (1,000-3,000 words), two to four pieces of flash fiction (below 1,000 words), and a handful of poems. If you have a longer piece which would need to be broken into two or more parts across two or more issues, please contact us" Payment: 5¢/word. Query on reprints, electronic submission only, see guidelines for more details. Deadline: August 31st, 2013.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Elsewhere with Her Ladyship

For this Friday's video post I have to send you over to SF Signal here to see it. Why should you go? This time it's my video.

You should also know that this trailer was produced by amazing author and fantastic filmmaker Jeff Somers, whom I highly recommend as a genius when it comes to putting together a writer's crazy ideas and making them into a terrific video.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

New Online Publisher

Freedom Fiction has opened it doors for business and is looking for novel and novella submissions; here's what they want to see: "Novella and Novel length Fiction works of genre fiction (all genres) or pulp fiction only; Word Count is to be minimum 30,000 to maximum 90,000 words; Payment is 8 cents per 100 words in year 2013. Please note this will change every year in progressive manner." No reprints, electronic submissions only, see guidelines for more details.

Added: As of this morning the publisher's site is down, and as there is some confusion about the exact payment terms I'm going to save us all a lot of headaches and strike this one.

A couple of reminders: there's still time to enter my Steampunking Barbara Samuel giveaway over on the Disenchanted & Co. blog, which runs through midnight EST on Friday, and my newsletter subscribers have until midnight EST tonight to enter June's giveaway; see the June newsletter for more details.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Elsewhere with Barbara Samuel

Today over on Disenchanted & Co. we're steampunking our very first guest: award-winning author Barbara Samuel. Stop in, read the interview and enter in comments -- over there, not here -- to win this giveaway of her books and other goodies themed to Barbara's world-building (gorgeous girl not included.)

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

LJ's Antho

Our blog pal LJ Cohen has a new Spec Fic antho project about to debut, and all of the proceeds will go to helping other writers, which is one of my favorite things:

Interrobang Books is pleased to announce the publication of "Pen Ultimate: A Speculative Fiction Anthology". The anthology, edited by LJ Cohen and Talib S. Hussain, is comprised of eleven short stories written by up-and-coming writers in fantasy and science fiction and includes a foreword by Craig Shaw Gardner and an afterword by Jeffrey A. Carver.

All proceeds will be donated to the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) Emergency Medical Fund. The fund offers interest-free loans to members facing unexpected medical expenses. Active SFWA members are eligible to request assistance from the fund. More information about the fund and how to directly donate to it can be found here.

The anthology will be unveiled at ReaderCon 24, an annual convention devoted to "imaginative literature". The book is available in trade paperback edition through Amazon and CreateSpace, and e-Book editions through major online venues. For more information and purchase links, head over to LJ's site.

Monday, July 08, 2013

No Cost Ten

Ten Things You Can Have for Free

Freeware caution: always scan free downloads of anything for bugs and other threats before dumping the programs into your hard drive.

Blender is the "open source software for 3D modeling, animation, rendering, post-production, interactive creation and playback. Blender has proven to be an extremely fast and versatile design instrument. The software has a personal touch, offering a unique approach to the world of Three Dimensions. Use it to create TV commercials, to make technical visualizations, business graphics, to do some morphing, or design user interfaces. You can easy build and manage complex environments. The renderer is versatile and extremely fast. All basic animation principles (curves & keys) are well implemented" (OS: Windows 2000/XP/Vista/7)

Compositions is a "great tool for those who enjoy writing, and want a tool which allows for easier access. Using Compositions allows for easy drag-and-drop file access. You can also use the tool on mobile devices, and transfer files easily that way. You can also export the file in a .txt format" (OS: Mac OS X 10.7.3 or later, 64-bit processor)

Foto-Mosaik-Edda "allows you to create photo mosaic pictures from your own computer. A photo mosaic picture is made up of tiny photos which are fitted together in such a way that, from a distance, they blend together to create the appearance of a new picture. To create a photo mosaic picture, you can use digital photos from your collection, for example from your last vacation or family get-together. Foto-Mosaik-Edda analyses the photos and then adds them to one or more databases from which they are drawn to create your photo mosaic" (OS: Windows 2000/XP/Vista/7)

Free Desktop Clock is an "advanced replacement for standard Windows tray clock. View the time, seconds, month, week and day in different skins in the Windows system tray clock. 9 skins are included in the distribution" (OS: Windows 2000/XP/2003/Vista/7/8 [32-Bit/64-Bit])

Instagiffer is a "free tool to easily create animated GIFs from various video file formats and online video sites. In addition to video file support, users can also create animated GIFs from images. The program features an easy to use interface that allows you to adjust the quality of the GIFs, add effects and text captions, crop images, a screen capture feature to create animated GIFs, and more" (OS: Windows XP/Vista/7 [32-Bit/64-Bit])

Money Me is a free program to manage your income and expenses. Although it includes an extensive set of features, the simple interface makes it easy to use. You can quickly and easily add your expenses and start making statistics. You can create budgets, organize your debts and administrate all of your coupons with a simple interface" (OS: Windows 2000/XP/2003/Vista/7/8 [32-Bit/64-Bit])

Password Pad Lite "allows you to create multiple note files, each secured by a different password. The key feature of password pad is its simplicity, which makes it easier to use and allows it to be easily extended to other uses. Keep your data in the format that you want, not in the format that someone else has decided for you. Later, simply search for the data that you want to retrieve" (OS: Mac OS X 10.6 or later)

Photoscape is a "fun and easy photo editing software that enables you to fix and enhance photos. Features: Viewer: View your folders photos, slideshow; Editor: resizing, brightness and color adjustment, white balance, backlight correction, frames, balloons, mosaic mode, adding text, drawing pictures, cropping, filters, red eye removal, blooming; Batch editor: Batch editing multiple photos; Page: Make one photo by merging multiple photos at the page frame; Combine: Make one photo by attaching multiple photos vertically or horizontally; Animated GIF: Make one animation photo with multiple photos •Print: Print portrait shot, carte de visite, passport photo; Screen Capture: Capture your screenshot and save it; Color Picker: Zoom in screen on images, search and pick the color; Rename: Change photo file names in batch mode; Raw Converter: Convert RAW to JPG" (OS: Win 98/ME/2K/XP/2K3/Vista/7)

Textcast "turns any text — documents, web pages and entire blog feeds — into personal podcasts you can listen to right on your iPod and iPhone" (OS: Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard)

Ultimate Calendar is a "free, easy to use calendar with rich features and settings. Features: Calendar for any year from 1 to 9999-th in table and list; Common and personal dates differing by sets and groups •Movable, cyclical, periodical, particular dates; Internal editor for easy work with dates sets; Two view modes: Whole year and Monthly; Popup window which contains the list of nearest events and displayed when the mouse hovers over the tray icon; Tracking change of day; Options «Autostart on system startup», «Hide to tray on minimize», *new* «Run only one copy», *new* «Always on top»; Plugins support. Distribution includes the following plugins: Sun and Moon. Displays, in accordance with the selected geographic location, the time of rise and set of Sun and Moon, the duration of the solar and lunar day, the current phase of the Moon; Julian dates. Displays the date on the Julian calendar (old style), Julian Day and Modified Julian Day; Displaying schemes support; Export to Microsoft Excel and formats BMP, RTF, TXT; Multilingual interface and Unicode support; Contains predefined dates sets with holidays and events for Armenia, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Macedonia, Netherlands, Norway, Russia, Serbia, Ukraine, USA" (OS: Windows 2000/XP/Vista/7)

Sunday, July 07, 2013

Comments Catchup Day

See you in comments.

Saturday, July 06, 2013

If Ideas Were Alligators

If ideas were alligators they wouldn't be so bad.

We could hide them for a time beneath a handy lily pad.

When they'd pop out they'd be (almost) a kind of cute surprise,

as long as we remember not to look into their eyes.

Idealligators would likely sleep a lot each day,

and hardly ever bother us or get into our way.

It's fairly easy to ignore the prehistoric twerp,

and think of him as silly or some sort of mental burp.

but like ideas a gator waits until the time is right,

when he can catch us off-guard and lunge in to take a bite.

Perhaps we should be grateful that all ideas can do is seethe,

and won't turn into anything with quite so many teeth.

Friday, July 05, 2013

Paper Dreamworld

What would it be like to drive through a city made of paper? This video gives you a wonderful tour (some background music and sound effects, for those of you at work):

Paper City from Maciek Janicki on Vimeo.

I'm also having a giveaway today over at the Disenchanted & Co. blog, so stop by if you get a chance. (Video link nicked from Gerard at The Presurfer.)

Thursday, July 04, 2013

Wishing You

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Locked BookLoops

I'm experimenting with my BookLoop design again, and here are three ways you can make faux "locked" loops. First you'll need some vintage trims, skeleton keys and antique lock plates:

For the first locked design thread your desired length of ribbon through the fastener holes on the lock plate and tie a loop at the bottom:

Tie a skeleton key on the opposite end of the ribbon, like so:

To fasten the BookLoop, pass the skeleton key through the ribbon loop and tug gently until the loop cinches around the book:

If you have small keys and plates, you can simply tie them as anchors to either end of your ribbon loop, like this:

An alternate way to make a cinching loop is to tie one end of your ribbon to the lock plate, pass the other end of the ribbon through the keyhole, and then tie your skeleton key onto the end as your anchor (this also allows you to use a single length of ribbon versus a doubled loop):

This option doesn't allow you to release the loop (unless your skeleton key is small and thin enough to pass back and forth through the lock plate's keyhole) so you should allow a little extra length of ribbon to slip around your book:

Tuesday, July 02, 2013


I have never been crazy about e-mail newsletters, which is probably why I've never attempted to do one myself until I sold the Disenchanted & Co. books. Since there is a lot going on behind the scenes with the new series I really needed one, but I didn't want to get myself into a huge time sink that would just end up being deleted unread from someone's inbox.

The first thing I did was search for instructions as to exactly how to get a newsletter subscription option on a Blogger template. This video by Odin Spark not only explained that, it directed me to MailChimp, a free newsletter creation and mailing service -- which basically eliminated the rest of the research I was planning to do.

Once I watched the MailChimp tutorials, I put together my first test newsletter in about half an hour. I used one of their designer templates for the first issue, although I plan to create my own once I become a little more experienced with the site.

I think newsletters should be short, so I kept mine brief. I made a couple of insider-info type announcements about upcoming events, and included a request for feedback on what my subscribers would like to see in the newsletter. As an extra temptation I offered an incentive giveaway for those who take the time to respond. Right now my subscriber list is small but as it grows I'm planning more perks for the recipients that won't be available to anyone else.

The primary challenge of a monthly newsletter is to put together enough news, bonus material and incentives to make it worth someone's time to read. Before I jumped into doing my first issue I put together six month's worth of newsletters in draft form to get an idea of how best to approach the content, and that was extremely helpful in getting a handle on how to sustain it. Since I'm doing a lot of advance marketing right now I have plenty of news about the first book, but that tends to dwindle after the initial release and promotions are over. I also have to remain flexible enough with my content that I can add all those last-minute items that plague every author.

I think offering monthly incentives like contests and freebies is a fun way to keep subscribers reading the newsletter, but you have to think about what your readership really wants to know. My people are huge readers and always on the lookout for great books, so one of my newsletter content goals is to come up with a monthly recommended read by another author I think will appeal to them. I may also extend that to include recommendations from my subscribers.

The one thing I don't want is for the newsletter to become tiresome -- on either side. This challenges me to keep creating content that helps promote the series but that doesn't bore me or the subscriber. I'm going to do a lot of thinking outside the box on this aspect, and hopefully put together a monthly mailing that keeps readers clicking to open it instead of opting for the delete button.

Do you use a particular newsletter service that has proven valuable or helpful in some way? Let us know in comments.

Monday, July 01, 2013

Freely Ten

Ten Things You Can Have for Free

Freeware caution: always scan free downloads of anything for bugs and other threats before dumping the programs into your hard drive.

Alarm is a "digital clock that you can set to display a message and play a sound at a time of your choice. It is meant to be of help when you want to be warned while you are working (and chances are big you are going to forget you have to do this very important thing later on)" (OS: Windows 2000/XP/2003/Vista/7/8)

Capture Screen Rectangle is an "application adds a tray icon that provides functionality for capturing a rectangular area of the screen. This prevents you having to capture the whole screen or a window and then clipping it afterwards. The resulting image can be captured to the clipboard or to a file. Supported image formats include BMP, JPEG and PNG" (OS: Windows)

Cyotek Webcopy is a "free tool for copying full or partial websites locally onto your harddisk for offline viewing. WebCopy will scan the specified website and download it's content onto your hardisk. Links to resources such as stylesheets, images, and other pages in the website will automatically be remapped to match the local path. Using its extensive configuration you can define which parts of a website will be copied and how" (OS: Windows XP/2003/Vista/7/8 [32-Bit/64-Bit])

MoneyLine Personal Finance software "tracks all your money, bank accounts and spending in one place, so you stay organized and in control of your finances" (OS: Designer notes "Works on Windows 7, XP, Vista and 8; Works on 64 bit Windows; Mac OS X 10.3 or above")

Pocket Radio Player is a "free Shoutcast compatible internet radio player. Unlike the many other players out there, this software concentrates on offering basic functionality in a compact package" (OS: Linux, Mac and Windows platforms)

Polygot 3000is an "automatic language identifier that quickly recognizes the language of any text, phrase or even single words" (OS: Windows 95/98/NT/ME/2000/XP/2003/Vista/2008/7/8)

Print Envelopes is a "versatile program for printing business cards, envelopes or labels from Windows. There is a address list in the program, which you can create either by editing or by importing from general CSV file. There is a possibility, with this tool, to import addresses from such programs as Thunderbird, MS Outlook and others. Also, this program allows you to add your own envelope sizes to the primary formats. The optimal size for print is to be chosen automatically according to the printer settings. The printed file can be turned and shifted , also, there is possible to slightly move and place a sender and receiver address (margin distance). Print a sender address is optional. This program is able to print out a logo on the envelope too. In order to print an address to a foreign country you just simply choose your destination country. There is also possible to print out a different files in to one sheet ( texts or pictures ) while you printing an address plates at the same time" (OS: Windows XP/Vista/7/8)

SoftCardManager allows you to "use your scanner to store Business cards and other similar sized cards. SoftCardManager stores digital images of each Card. Each one highly compressed is immediately available for viewing. Scan in a card, enter it into a phone book (basic details, Name, Company, Email address) and you can look at all their details instantly" (OS: Windows)

SoftMailCheck is an "email filtering utility designed to help you remove unsolicited emails which may contain viruses, undesired attachments or unrequested information, before you download them. Run SoftMailCheck as your first line of defence and then choose which emails you would like to receive before running your email program" (OS: Windows 2000, Windows 95/98/ME, Windows NT )

SSuite Office Writers D-Lite is a "tool that has just enough functionality to start you on writing that important novel, short-story or article, without any bells and whistles to distract you. Get writing from the first moment you start the application. It has all the important functions and text formatting needed to get you busy. It also has custom page settings for easier viewing of your document. Has a fixed type writer view for easy reading and text input. Full statistics are visible on the status bar, keeping you abreast of your text document as you type. No java or .Net required to run this application, keeping it very small and portable and very useful. Has all the necessary editing short-cut keys for power users" (OS: Windows All [32-Bit/64-Bit])