Category Archives: Bits and Bobs

Brain Candy

I am a reader first and a writer second. I’ve always read.  The highlight of my young reading  life as terrifying as it sounds, was when I was 7.  I remember I was 7 because we live in Grande Prairie Alberta at the time, and I read Black Beauty.   I loved that book.   I loved horses (what little girl doesn’t?) and I loved to read.

After I finished that particular book, I still remember vividly hunting around for a book in the house that wasn’t a baby book.   As a now wise and accomplished 7 year old,  I had decided that all my Disney books and such that occupied my bookshelf were now baby books since I had conquered Black Beauty.

My parents were and are still avid readers,  so off I went to peruse their bookshelf.   I found a book that was large, heavy and to me – the absolute definition of a grown up book.   It was the complete collection of  Shakespeare’s works.

It took me all winter, but I read it.   And than I read it again.   I don’t remember understanding half of it, I probably didn’t.   However its a memory that stayed brilliant in my mind and I do remember that ‘Taming of the Shrew’ came out as the winner in the which was my favorite class.

And a reader was born.   Since then I’ve read thousands of books.   I like it all.   I like bodice rippers as I call them, I love me a great detective book.   Adventure and carousing, I’ll take that too.   I can read horror, but its a bit more work for me.

I read Fountainhead in 3 days in high school, but as an adult I had to force myself to read Atlas Shrugged.   But then I’ll turn around and happily zip through a Dick Francis book in an evening (I still love horses! That’s never changed.)

Then I began to write, and for years I never finished anything, because I kept thinking but I don’t have anything to say.   I often wondered how other writers got around that issue.   I’ve heard the usual caveat  ” write what you know”.    However for me,  my life has never been particularly exciting, I went to school, got a job, rode my horse, got married and had children.   That’s about all I know. (Not that I’m complaining – it’s been pretty damned nice over all. )

Of course being married to a journalist and author also prompts me to discuss books and how we write them much more than I ever used to.   I used to just shrug and think – no one will be interested in what I write, because I don’t have anything insightful deep or meaningful to say.

I was wrong.

Maybe it’s because I’m old enough now, or wise enough (Doubt that!) but I had a epiphany one day.   I know stuff.   Hell I know a lot of stuff, and what I don’t know I can damn well make up, after all fiction is art.  In my opinion art breaks the rules, because it can.

So I’m off to write.

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The Technical Side of Things.

We all post, read and write a thousand things over the course of our working life in regards to writing that ‘book’. One thing that I never see discussed much is how to keep your working documents (aka manuscripts) safe from disaster. Being that most of us are dependent on electronic devices for producing/editing/storing our works in progress.  I thought it was worthy of a conversation.

I come from a network security background, and I still work actively in the field, where I spend hours a day teaching other people how to keep their data safe and secure.

For the average writing joe, there are a variety of options available. From using using a zip drive to USB stick right up to storing your manuscripts in the cloud.

Personally I’m a fan all those mentioned above. They have their own peculiar pros and cons.

External hard drive :

Pros : easy to use. Allows you to maintain a redundant copy of all your work.

Cons : you need to carry it around with you, making your portable life a bit less portable.

USB stick:

Pros: Same as the above.

Cons: They are small, I tend to ‘misplace’ them occasionally,  ok.. well a lot. So this option is never a great one for me.

Cloud Based:

There are a ton of cloud based document services around these days, and I prefer these. They are portable in that I can access them from any pc, anywhere anytime. They are usually quite secure, and many are free to use. They do have memory limits but they are quite generous, and a few books in the works isn’t going to make a huge dent.

Regardless of which you choose, depending on keeping your work only on your own computer is a dangerous option. Back it up, store it somewhere on a daily basis. You never know when your computer is going to go sideways on you.

A great list of cloud-based document storage options can be found on cometdocs blog here:

http://blog.cometdocs.com/best-free-online-document-management-tools

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