Tuesday, September 28, 2010

iPad: Writer's Tool or Writer's Downfall?

So, I had a chance to try out an Apple iPad the other day.

Let me preface this by saying (and this is just my own personal opinion; please don't hate me) I'm not a huge fan of Apple. I do own, and love, an iPod Nano that is several years old. However, ever since I used Macs in high school and had to use a PAPER CLIP to get the darn things to eject a disk, I've never quite recovered.

So it was with a bit of a jaded eye that I turned my attention to this new toy. And after my experimentations, I still consider it to be a toy. For one thing, I just can't quite get into the touchscreen mentality. I've touch-typed ever since I learned how in the most useful class I ever took, and I can get a fairly decent WPM going when I put my mind to it. That's how I managed to write two novels each in about a month. But touchscreens make touch-typing just about impossible - you need feedback, and those little bumps that let you know your fingers are on the home row.

Another thing is the fact that the iPad doesn't come with a stylus. You can buy a third-party iPad Stylus, and if you have an iPad, I highly recommend that you do so. The thing is, I stopped finger-painting a long time ago, and there's a reason for that: I learned how to use tools, like a pen and a pencil. Going back to writing or drawing with your finger is not an easy (or pretty) thing.

In conclusion, I could see an iPad being useful if you wanted to take down notes on the go or brainstorm away from your desk. And if you had a lump of cash sitting around with nothing else you wanted to spend it on. But I still see it as more of a procrastination device than a serious tool for writers. Just my 2 cents.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Halloween Comes But Once A Year

I know it's not strictly writing-related, but I wanted to share with any fellow Halloween-lovers what I've been working on at the wonderful write-what-you-want site Squidoo. That's right, you can write anything you want on Squidoo, and if you're good, you can even get paid!

Yes, I am Emma Larkins, and I admit that I love Halloween. I love everything from the pumpkin-carving to the costume-making to the decorating. I used to love the trick-or-treating, but unfortunately I've long outgrown that stage. Now I just have to satisfy myself with awesome Halloween parties!

So here are a few sites to satisfy your cravings for all things Halloween-y:

Scary Spooky Halloween Music: What better way to get in the mood than with Michael Jackson's Thriller, Monster Mash, and Casper the Friendly Ghost?

Spooky Scary Halloween Movies: From the silly (Ernest Scared Stupid) to the terrifying (Halloween, of course) there are movies here to suit everyone's taste.

I Love Pumpkins - Carving, Patterns, Eating and More!: For those who just can't get enough of pumpkins, this site is for you!

Halloween on Squidoo: A plethora of Halloween sites, from costumes to decorating to recipes, to suit anyone's taste.

And if you're still not in the spirit, how about a Halloween classic?

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Wannabe Writers Unite! (Online and In Person)

One of the hardest parts of being a writer (other than actually sitting down to write... and editing once you've actually finished something... and getting someone to read what you've written...) is that it gets a bit lonely from time to time. Nothing but you and your computer screen, and often a blank computer screen at that. Not exactly socially stimulating.

Meeting other writers, both wannabes and seasoned authors, can be a huge boost to every aspect of your writing - your motivation, your dedication, your willingness to get through rough spots, your technical skills and your knowledge of the industry. Not to mention, getting connected is one of the best ways to get published.

If there's any chance whatsoever that you can get together with an actual, physical group of writers, go for it! There's no better way to boost your writing career. Check out Local Writers' Associations of America to find a group near you.

I live in Virginia, and like to write science fiction and fantasy. If you're like me, you might find Mid-Atlantic Science Fiction and Fantasy Writing Conventions of interest.

Online groups are great as well. Here's a review of online writers' groups. And if you're up to the challenge of writing a novel in a month, the community aspect of national novel writing months like NaNoWriMo can't be beat.