Andrew Q Gordon was kind enough to have me as a guest on his blog recently. Here is a repost of my article.
Has Technology; Knows How to Use It
There is a virtual buffet of ways for authors to connect with readers and readers to find their favorite authors and books. There is Facebook, WordPress, Blogger, Google+, Pinterest, and, well you get the idea. As many ways as there are to connect, there are blogs and wikis and videos offering up instructions on how to use them.
I’m not going to compete with the blogs, wikis and videos, they’ve said it all and far better than I ever could.
Something I’m interested talking about today is what to use all these wonderful things on, and some software that easily transfers what you need onto multiple devices. Yes, I said those horrible words,software and devices!
As writers, we often use dirty words, yet none quite elicit the emotions software (whatnots and thingamabobs) and devices (gizmos) do. The best advice I’ve heard concerning social media is pick one or two, stick with them and do them well.
I say the same advice transfers exceedingly well to software and devices. Now, remember I don’t have a degree in computerology, mine is in biology, and I don’t work in the computer industry, I’m a veterinary nurse. These are simply things I’ve tried and found work really well. I want to share!
The first thing is it all starts with your computer, be it desktop or laptop. That’s the thing that is going to be your main clearinghouse for all your writing and networking needs. Any software that’s worth having is going to be on this device. Think of it as the mothership.
There are two basic species of gizmos other than the mothership, Android and Apple. I have Android based gizmos, but most of the whatnots and thingamabobs that you can use and put on an Android gizmo, you can also find an Apple version of and visa-versa. I’ve even seen apps capable of merging Android and Apple whatnots and thingamabobs for people who have both species of gizmos.
Okay, now that we got all that technical jargon out of the way we can dive right into the important stuff.
Recently I was lucky enough to participate in a writer’s conference. Naturally a good deal of time was spent on social media and marketing. The great big question was how to fit these activities in with writing and editing. One of the presenters whips out her cell phone in the middle of her presentation; holds it up and says something to the effect if you have one of these you have a great tool for keeping up with your social media.
I’m going to take this concept—and it’s an important, very true concept—one step farther and say if you have a smartphone you have a wonderful tool for writing on the go as well.
Even full time writers without day jobs have to occasionally drag themselves from the keyboard (or pad of paper) to complete tasks such as grocery shopping, picking up the kids from school, taking the dog to the vet and all the other stuff day to day living demands.
I don’t think there has ever been a writer who existed that didn’t have plot inspiration, great dialog or character backstories present themselves when they were someplace other than their place to write.
This is where your gizmos become your most valuable tool.
Standing in line at the grocery store and the solution to that plot hitch strikes? Waiting on your child to exit school when the reason why character B does what he does? Sitting in an exam room waiting for your dog to be vaccinated and the most amazing story line starts rolling in your head? Afraid you’ll lose that thought before you get to write it down? We’ve all had that happen.
Have a smartphone? It doesn’t have to be the latest and greatest, you still have a little computer in your hand.
I use several thingamabobs that I keep on all my gizmos as well as the mothership. Through the magic of the internet what I put on one appears for accessing on another.
Microsoft Office, if you use it, doesn’t just come with Word, it comes with a nifty thing called One Note (http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/onenote/). It’s a virtual notebook that takes up literally no space in your purse, bag or kitchen table. There is also a One Note app for phones/tablets. So if some brilliant idea strikes I can take out my phone and record it right away. There is a free version that is very similar called EverNote (https://evernote.com) if you don’t have Microsoft Office. I have a separate ‘notebook’ for each project I’m writing and within that separate ‘pages’ for characters, plots, important things I’ll never remember otherwise, research links…just plain stuff. I figured it out once that if that was a paper notebook it’d be about three feet tall and weigh approximately as much as my car.
The next most important writing app I have is called Keep (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.google.android.keep&hl=en). It’s a sweet place to jot down to-do lists, I can take a picture of something to put on it and have for later use. Think of it as virtual sticky notes, or a little flip pocket notepad.
Both of these apps sit on the home screen of my phone. These, or other similar versions, can be put on any phone or tablet (that includes Kindle and Nook) for quick access. They are easy to use and customizable for your individual needs. I never have to search for a pen to write with either.
A third whatnot I have and use is Google Docs (docs.google.com). This is especially helpful when writing with others. Documents can be created and shared amongst a group, so everyone can add ideas, plot lines or whatever. It keeps a file folder on the mothership and stores all your important stuff online in a cloud as well and will do so automatically.
DropBox (www.dropbox.com) and SkyDrive (https://skydrive.live.com) are online ‘cloud’ storage. There are others, and they all have free versions. The greatest thing about these is if I take a picture, or work on a story on the go, they are automatically saved not only on my phone (or tablet) but my mothership and my little section of the cloud. That means I’ll never lose a picture or comments on a galley again!
Download several different types of note taking, idea-organizing apps and as with the social media pick one or two and do them well. The others are simply chewing up storage place, so take them off your gizmo. My personal rule is if one of these devices or software isn’t something I can figure out how to use in a short time I give it up for something else. None of these things will work well for you if you spend more time trying to figure out how to use them than actually using them.
One of the most important features of all these gizmos is by simply choosing the backup online option if you lose your smartphone or tablet, or if it’s damaged, your information is not lost. Reinstalling the app on a new gizmo reinstalls all your important data stored on that app as well. You have the option to back everything up onto your mother-ship too.
However, and I cannot stress this enough, do not be afraid to try these tools. They won’t bite and there is a forum on practically everything filled with people who know more than you and are willing to share that information. A forum I’ve found very helpful is Android Forums (androidforums.com). Another great source is wireless carriers and manufacturers; they all have user forums to find help.
It’s important to know how to use your electronic gizmos and mothership, and that includes finding the right tools to use on them. Just as a thesaurus and dictionary are tools for writers, electronic devices and their software are equally important tools of our trade, not just cool toys to look at pics of grumpy cats. We owe it to ourselves to use these things to make our lives easier and more organized.
A few weeks ago I was privileged enough to have Lex Chase interview me and post said interview on her blog. I'm reposting it here for anyone who didn't see it when it originally went up.
Dreamspinner Press author Elizabeth Noble may appear like an unassuming veterinary nurse, but in fiction she delights readers with post-apocalyptic worlds and the will to survive. Her new release in the long running “Sentries” series is the fourth volume called “Collared Souls” is due out April 3, and she elaborated on the next chapter in the characters Todd and Nick’s lives.
“The story takes place in the future, several hundred years after a natural disaster drastically alters society and things as we know it,” she said via email interview. “There is sex, monsters, horses, fights, betrayal, something for everyone. The series centers around Todd Ruger, a very special kind of hunter and his slave Nick. Bonded as children they become true comrades in arms, fighting side by side against foes both seen and unseen. Bound by love, they are mates for life, each willing to do what it takes to protect the other. Fourth in the series is titled ‘Collared Souls’ and our guys go back to the village where Nick was raised. There they not only discover personal history, but uncover a conspiracy that could determine the fate of a war.”
THE WORLD OF SENTRIESWhen it comes to the intricate worldbuilding featured “Sentries,” Noble maintains it’s not necessary to plot out every blade of grass, every star in the sky, or need hands-on experience in knife fighting. Wait. Knife fighting?
Noble offered the answer.
“I have a friend who is disturbingly good at things like knife and fist fights, so I have to credit her with making mine flow so well. Actually I’m afraid not to…,” she said with a laugh.
Senseless violence aside, Noble elaborated upon another kind of violence such as natural disasters and how they factor into “Sentries.”
“In order to make this sort of story line plausible I had to reinvent society and the world,” she said. “I did that, in part, by using the Wyoming Supervolcano. There is more to that particular part of the story and ‘Collared Souls’ gives us much more detail on the how and why things went the way they did including the evolution of sentries and how the slave industry was established. Basically, I had a good idea of the geographical location of the story, what it would be like in terms of climate and if there were any changes from how it looks now.”
Between just winging it and hoping for the best, and having ideas, Noble explained the difference.
“I had the basics of the society and added to that and developed it from there as the story progressed,” she said. “I worked out the generalities, and allowed the world to evolve as I wrote. Societies, people and planets are not static, they change. I try to allow that to happen in the creation of my worlds.”
Noble gave her biggest tip for authors new to building extravagant worlds.
“Know what you want and be flexible in the worldbuilding,” she said.
REDEFINING MASTERS AND SLAVESNobel maintains “Sentries” isn’t the typical Dominant/submissive book, and she went out of her way to make her own twist on Masters and Slaves.
She offers the origin of Todd and Nick, and well as the origin of “Sentries” as a whole.
“I was reading the posts on a LiveJournal community where people searching for a certain story, or type of story leave messages,” she said. “I read a post where someone was looking for a story featuring an arranged marriage between the two main characters. The very next thread was someone looking for a story about two people who knew from the time they were very young they were always meant to be together.”
You could say the rest is history, but Noble had some logistics to work out, she explained.
“My use of an Owner/Slave relationship is a bit different than most,” she said. “Todd, the owner, was forced into his role as a child. His slave becomes the center of his world, the true partner and family he’s always yearned for. Nick, the slave is smart, educated and prides himself on being an asset to Todd. The Owner/Slave system was one thing I did put a lot of thought into and had all sorts of details worked out beforehand. While there is a D/s relationship little of that is because one is an Owner and one is a Slave. It’s more of a result of the fact it’s something these guys like.”
She elaborated further on the twists and turns she made the standard Dominant/submissive model most readers know.
“As the series progresses it becomes more and more apparent that the roles each plays within their relationship have come about because of each man’s personal wants, desires and likes,” she said. “Their sexual relationship, as is most couples’, is independent from their jobs and place in their society. I think they would have the same sort of relationship if there was no Owner/Slave element to the story. There is a lot of variation on how slaves are treated by various people, not everyone has the same opinion and I try to show that.”
What does this mean for Todd and Nick? Noble continued.
“Nick wears a collar and has Todd’s initials branded into the inside of his wrists,” she said. “To him they do not symbolize captivity, but the partnership he has with Todd. Slaves receive varied and extensive educations in order to be an asset to their eventual owners. I think one aspect that sets them apart from other slave books, is Nick is very accepting and proud of his position. It is Todd who was forced into becoming an owner and struggles through the times he has to act as Nick’s master not his mate.”
THE FUTURE FOR NOBLE Noble says with her constantly full schedule, she lives by the productivity apps such as Microsoft OneNote on her smartphone to keep her on task. She lamented she almost never uses her phone to make calls. But what’s on her phone besides her life? Noble dished on her upcoming projects.
“I’m currently working on the fifth book of the ‘Sentries’ series, ‘Tethered Pair,’” she said. “Most of the book takes place on an old time riverboat. It’s definitely a guilty pleasure of mine to write that type of story. There are gamblers and demons to name a few things.”
But if that wasn’t enough, Noble says she’s also cooking up an urban fantasy series with Dreamspinner Press author Anne Barwell called “Sleepless City.”
“It’s an urban fantasy that involves vampires—good and bad—and some werewolves. We hope to start releasing them this year,” she said. “The first book, which Anne is writing is ‘Shades of Sepia.’ Anne is very nice to work with. She’s very open to ideas and we spend a lot of time in chat plotting and planning the series and our books. She and I both like paranormal books, movies and TV and the whole thing sort of blossom out of our mutual interests and tastes. We had many of those ‘I’d like to read a series like this’ sort of conversations. The idea of an urban fantasy with the vampires was hers, and I just sort of horned in on it.”
WHERE TO BUY all books available from Dreamspinner Press.
J.P. Barnaby joins me today with another wonderful installment of Online. And it's a good one!
Part Three: The International Language
By J. P. Barnaby
“It’s huge!” Eli cried, and Tom couldn’t help but stifle a giggle as he stepped back to let his lover enter his home. The rent-controlled apartment, which had been passed down from his father, was larger than anything he could have normally afforded, but it had been his home for as long as he could remember. Eli dropped his bag on the floor near the door and turned to catch Tom’s eyes in a sweet, smoldering stare that took his breath away.
“I… uhm… I only have one bedroom, but I’m sure we can—“ Before Tom could finish, Eli’s mouth was on his. Though he’d never laid eyes on the guy before that day, Tom felt like something inside him slid into place as Eli’s arms came around him. For a single moment in time, he couldn’t breathe. The intensity building in his chest nearly suffocated him.
“I didn’t come all of this way to sleep on the couch,” Eli chided quietly. They only had a week before Eli would return home, and Tom didn’t want to waste any of it. Though he hardly would have gone to bed with a guy within minutes of meeting him, he just couldn’t stop himself from leading Eli to his bedroom. Well, for the week, it would be their bedroom. The idea sent a thrill of pleasure through him that had nothing to do with sex.
“Eli,” Tom whispered as Eli pulled Tom’s shirt up and rubbed his nipples slowly. He traced slow sensual paths down his neck with tender lips. He shivered, his body tensing in fear and anticipation.
“Hmmm?” Eli murmured against the sensitive skin of Tom’s neck as his lips trailed further down, coming dangerously close to Tom’s nipples. Tom couldn’t think. Instead, he did something he’d never done once in his life, he refused to think. He simply pulled Eli back toward his bed, still unmade from his rush to get to the airport.
“I’m so glad you’re here,” Tom said as Eli succeeded in pulling the shirt over his head. Eli drove his fingers deep into Tom’s hair and cradled his face. Eli’s hard body pressed against his, rubbing slowly, insistently. Tom’s hand fell to Eli’s ass and squeezed, for which he was rewarded with a deep groan against his skin.
“I want to take you to bed, but I need to take a shower. I feel gross.” Eli stepped back—reluctantly, it seemed. Tom felt the disappointment spread across his face like the hot steam that would soon fill his bathroom around Eli’s beautiful naked body. He closed his eyes for a moment and tried not to let it show but instead went to a small closet down the hall to get his new friend a towel. A strange look passed over Eli’s face and for a moment, Tom had the wild thought that maybe Eli would ask him to join him in the shower, but then it passed. Eli grabbed his bag and carried it into Tom’s bedroom. As he rummaged through it, his host stood awkwardly off to the side, just watching.
“I… I’ll be back in a few minutes,” Eli murmured, stepped into the small bathroom across the hall, and closed the door. Tom stared after him wondering how they’d gone from making out to awkwardness. He hated it. Sitting on the edge of the bed, he tried not to imagine Eli’s lithe, toned body under the water… or his shaggy hair slicked against his head as drops of water slid across his lips. He tried not to wonder if Eli would think of Tom as he rubbed body wash into his skin. Body wash. The body wash was on that shelf that kept falling. He should warn Eli about the shelf before it landed on him.
“Hey, Eli,” he said quietly as he stood outside the bathroom door. The other man didn’t answer, probably unable to hear Tom over the sound of the shower. After knocking and still receiving no response, Tom opened the door and looked inside. Eli stood naked in the large glass-enclosed shower, his head thrown back under the spray. Tom’s throat closed up around the shelf warning as he watched the water cascade along the gorgeous tanned skin. Eli’s eyes were closed, so he hadn’t noticed Tom standing in the doorway. Shampoo glided slowly between Eli’s nipples along the shallow, delectable ridge between his pecs, and rippled over muscled abs.
Tom’s cock hardened uncomfortably in tight jeans.
He gazed at Eli, tracing the gentle curve of his ass with a look so soft it should have been a caress. Without any real thought to what he was doing, or how it would look, Tom opened the button fly on his jeans to relieve the pressure on his aching dick. He moaned silently as his hand slid in through the denim tent to stroke the front of his briefs. As he rubbed the wet stain against his cock, Eli opened his eyes. They stared at each other for a brief moment that felt to Tom like a millennia of peeping Tom jokes before Eli reached over and opened the shower door in clear invitation.
He hesitated, but only briefly before jerking his jeans and briefs down over his legs and doing an undignified one-legged hop to get out of them. Tom’s shirt hit the floor next, before finally, at long last, Eli’s naked skin was against his. From chest, to abdomen, to thigh, Eli crushed Tom between his hot body and the cool shower wall. With a shiver against the tile, Tom’s nipples hardened, and his eyes closed against the mist of the shower. Concentrating on the feeling of the naked man in his arms, he memorized every inch of Eli for the time when he’d be alone again.
“We can take it slow later,” Eli moaned against Tom’s lips. His fingers raised goosebumps over Tom’s chest as he traced faint lines over the hardened nipples. Eli caught his moan when sweet tender lips covered his in a soul-deep kiss. Hearts raced against each other through the thin skin of their chests, separated by a thin but constant stream of water. Eli’s hips moved insistently against his own, their cocks slid together, slick and wet.
“I have something in my jeans pocket, hold on,” Tom whispered over the pounding water, and turned in Eli’s arms. As he bent over to grab his jeans from the floor, he felt something decidedly hard pressing against his ass. Pushing back against Eli’s body, it took him a few tries to snatch his jeans with the tips of his fingers and not break contact with his lover. Strong hands caressed his hips as he fumbled with the pocket. Finally, the condom and pillow of lube he’d stashed broke free of their trappings and he stood up slowly. Tom loved the way Eli’s hand slid between his legs and cupped his balls as he righted himself.
He handed his newly claimed prizes to Eli and braced his hands against the wall... waiting.
The hands parting his cheeks, he expected, but instead of lubricated fingers, a gentle tongue pressed into his ass. His legs spread on their own, and he pressed his forehead against his arms which he’d folded on the cold, unyielding tile. A tingling warmth spread from the tight muscle being probed in the most erotic way down his legs and up into his stomach as he fought to keep his knees locked so he could stand.
“Jesus, Eli,” he cried softly against the crook of his arm and his toes curled on the slick shower floor. His body began to relax in a way he never thought possible, and he couldn’t stop the whimpers that echoed through the shower from deep in his throat. The pressure built in his balls with each swipe of Eli’s tongue across his hole. The ragged five o’clock shadow across Eli’s face scraped the tender skin between his cheeks as Tom pushed back and silently begged for more.
Tender hands teased his balls and his cock from underneath as Tom tried to breathe. Eli turned his head and licked the water off Tom’s skin, kissing and sucking the globes of Tom’s ass, and Tom closed his eyes against the feeling, sliding his feet just a bit wider apart. He wanted Eli inside him, taking him. The wait made him needy. He pushed his ass out farther, arching his back like a cat in heat.
“That’s it, baby,” Eli moaned against his skin. He stood quickly and Tom turned to watch him open the lube. It took a moment with wet hands, but finally hot strong fingers were slicking him up, preparing him for his new lover. Tom’s head dropped as he reached down, stroked his cock, and tried to keep from coming when Eli rubbed his prostate. Swaying back and forth almost imperceptibly, he rocked on Eli’s fingers.
Gently, the fingers slid from his hole and were replaced with the blunt tip of Eli’s cock, sheathed in the condom. Tom threw a hand back, resting it on Eli’s hip in an effort to get his lover to take it slow. He was probably more turned on than he’d ever been in his life, but Eli’s dick stretched the condom to its limit. With infinite care, Eli’s cock stretched him. His hand tightened on Eli’s hip, and they paused, waiting for Tom’s body to adjust before moving once more. After a minute or two, Eli’s hips pressed against his lover’s ass, and Tom felt so completely full.
“Oh God, yeah,” Tom cried as Eli pulled out and drove forward again. The hand that had been restraining Eli, now wrapped around Eli’s thigh and pulled him closer. Their moans, their skin slapping, drowned out the pounding of the shower. Tom drove back sharply against Eli’s thrusts, driving him deeper, taking himself higher. Eli nailed his sweet spot consistently, taking most of the strength from his knees.
An arm wrapped around Tom’s chest, holding him back against Eli as a soft voice whispered “uff, que rico.” Tom had no idea what the sentiment meant, but the way Eli moaned it against his ear, he could guess that it would be good. The fingers on his chest tightened as Eli’s forehead pressed between his shoulder blades as he drove harder into Tom’s body.
He loved the sweet kisses on his skin as they made love.
Tom spit quietly into his hand, reached between his parted legs, and stroked his cock with almost frenzied need. Their cries echoed off the tile walls—frantic, keening. Tom tried to grab hold of the wall with his free hand, but couldn’t find purchase.
His body tensed as Eli’s thrusts sped up and grew more erratic… jerky… fevered.
A cry erupted from Tom’s lips as an electrifying orgasm slammed through his body and he painted the wall in front of him with streams of semen. Both of Eli’s hands dug into his hips, pulling him back hard against the cock driving deep into his ass. Four good thrusts caused Eli’s restraint to break and he stills deep inside Tom’s body, shuddering against his lover’s back. Slow, tender kisses lined Tom’s neck and shoulder as he caught his breath against the tile. As Eli slowly drew back, he allowed his cock to fall from Tom’s body. Eli wrapped both arms around Tom when he straightened, putting his lips to Tom’s ear.
“You make me want to crawl into your bed and never ever leave.”
Award winning romance novelist, J. P. Barnaby has penned over a dozen books including the Forbidden Room series, the Little Boy Lost series, and Aaron. As a bisexual woman, J.P. is a proud member of the GLBT community both online and in her small town on the outskirts of Chicago. A member of Mensa, she is described as brilliant but troubled, sweet but introverted, and talented but deviant. She spends her days writing software and her nights writing erotica, which is, of course, far more interesting. The spare time that she carves out between her career and her novels is spent reading about the concept of love, which, like some of her characters, she has never quite figured out for herself.
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