I’ve always wanted a way to take my writing with me to work on while I’m waiting to pick up Gaaron from school, or when I’m on the way to the in-law’s house for dinner or birthdays, and though the Mini is…well, mini, it’s just not practical to take on short little trips like this. It takes a long time to load up, and, (I know this is probably going to sound strange) I’m paranoid about people looking over my shoulder while I’m writing. I don’t like anyone reading over my shoulder–and I do mean anyone–and the screen on the Mini is still large enough that people sitting next to me on a plane can easily see what I’m doing. I’ve kind of chalked this up as an acceptable risk, though on the way to Montreal last summer it resulted in having to talk to the people I was sitting next to because they wanted to know all about being a writer rather than getting to do much actual writing. Oh the horror! Having to actually be social with complete strangers! Yep, I don’t like talking to people I don’t know and will not know because it’s a chance meeting on an airplane. I’m not a social butterfly like my mom who will strike up conversations with anyone, anywhere, at any time. That’s just me.

So this summer, Jeff bought me an IPod Touch for my birthday, and up until yesterday I was using it primarily to listen to music and audio books, and to play games like Bookworm, Sudoku, and Bejeweled. I never even considered that it would be useful for actual writing. Then I got an email advertisement from Dropbox talking about all the cool Apps available that let you use their product on your mobile device. I’m a fan of Dropbox so I decided to read the ad rather than delete it, like I do with most advertisements. One particular app caught my eye, one called QuickOffice, touted as “a mobile office tool with great Microsoft Office file editing.” Now I’m all ears, and I get very excited that it’s available for the IPod Touch, and I get even more excited when I see that it’s only $10, half-price. How cool is that? So I downloaded the app and installed it, and though it took a little while and some reading to finally figure out how to work the thing, soon I had my latest novel document open on my IPod and I was writing.

Some observations about the app:

  • Some folks are saying that it doesn’t work with PowerPoint even though the website claims it does, but that doesn’t matter to me since I don’t use PP. It does work with Excel and Word documents, including .docx versions (I personally use .doc for 2004, since that seems to be the least buggy version). It also doesn’t appear to support RTF (or at least it’s not listed in the supported file extensions list…), but does support straight-up .txt. It will open PDF’s too.
  • The word processor is very basic, but you can italicize and underline, justify and add a tab at the beginning of paragraphs. It will also search for text, copy and paste, and has a word counter. It also wraps the text so you don’t ever have to scroll sideways to see what you’re doing.
  • There isn’t any button to take you to the end of a document, nor will it start you where you were at last save should you close the document. However it does stay where you were if you merely put the device into sleep mode and come back to it later, or use the Home button to go do something else. So long as you keep the file open, it remembers your place. The search function is pretty good though, so I think if I want to save a file and close it, I’m going to start putting keywords where I left off so I can use the search function to get to where I was the next time.
  • You can use a file storage service like DropBox or MobileMe or Google Documents with it, or you can directly upload files to your mobile device via your web browser or by docking your device to your computer as a drive.

This isn’t something I’d want to use in place of my computer for daily writing, but having spent most of the afternoon acquainting myself with the program and learning to type with my thumbs, it will definitely be useful on airplanes and in the car, where space is limited. Definitely worth the $10 I spent on it.

I found an awesome list of stuff over on at Zelda Devon’s blog this morning and wanted to share it. For those who don’t know, Zelda and her partner Kurt Huggins did the artwork for my Realms of Fantasy story, so the list is geared mainly towards artists, but there’s a good many things on that list that are just as applicable to writers as well. Go over and read the list and I think you’ll know what I mean. I’m particularly fond of the last one: “Do what you love, other people will love it too.” Who the heck would want to chase the latest fade when they can write about what truly matters to them, what moves them? So go out there and write about what you truly love, and you will find your audience.

Finally, after about two weeks worth of work, and lots of stumbles and hair-pulling along the way, the website is now fully integrated into WordPress. Please do stop by and take a look around. I’ve expanded the fiction section to include notes on each story, and added more entries to the resources section. For back-end fun, try this link, or type a word into the search bar that you know won’t be on the site (I’ve tested and “porcupines” does not show up anywhere on the site 😀 ). The header features eight different images that rotate each time you refresh a page (sometimes anyway. The randomness sometimes means the same header appears 3 times in a row.).

Now that this is all done, I can finally go back to working on the novel. It feels like it’s been far too long since I have….

ETA: btw, the url is now www.tlmorganfield.com

Found another review of the Anthology Eight Against Reality. Luke Forney of The OLD Luke Reviews had this to say about my story “Love, Blood and Octli”:

A tale that worked myth into narrative in a brilliant way (too bad the Mythopoeic Award is only for novels), this story was great in almost every way.

Visit the OLR website to read the rest of the review.

This is a been a very long time in coming and I apologize for having put it off for so long (curse impossible deadlines!), but here we are finally, at the final installment of the critique series. If you have yet read the first three parts, I recommend going back and starting at the beginning before reading below.

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In the first three parts, we covered the basics of getting critiques and how to use them for your own work, but in truth that’s probably the least useful part of critiquing. Crazy, I know! It’s of course great to get feedback on your own work and find out what others think works or doesn’t work, but the true value of critiquing is in giving critiques to others. Because critiquing is the best way to learn how to write better. Critiquing teaches us to look critically at how and why things don’t work, and how and why they do, and the lessons we learn from critiquing other people’s work can be used to improve our own work. This is why you want to become a good critiquer. And if you want to get critiques of your own work, chances are that you’re going to have to critique other people’s work. No one likes to critique the work of someone who never returns the favor, and who can blame them? Critique as much and as often as you can, and try to develop professional relationships with your fellow critiquers. After all you’re also in search of your dedicated reader and maybe even potential future private critique group members.

So what exactly is involved in critiquing?

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