Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Mac Envy

I learned to word process in 1987 on Word Perfect 4.1 for DOS. PC logic lives deep in my bones. But today, for the first time in twenty years, I felt jealous of a person with a Macintosh laptop. She had a program I wanted and couldn't have, a program just for Macs, a program for which I have yet to find a parallel.

The program, Scrivener, does a lot of what yWriter, the novel writing program I use, does plus a few bits more. And, it has an elegant interface that looks like an actual corkboard. The index cards look like index cards and things move around all WSYWIG and lovely. I was smitten.

Luckily it was just a crush. It passed. I'm not going to go buy a MAC - yet. I still love my IBM thinkpad. But for a few moments today, the earth stood still.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

McSweeney's Needs Help Too

Yikes. More financial difficulty on the literary front. This time McSweeney's needs our help. If you're not familiar with McSweeney's, click here.

The following is an excerpt from McSweeney's June update:
As you may know, it's been tough going for many independent publishers, McSweeney's included, since our distributor filed for bankruptcy last December 29. We lost about $130,000 -- actual earnings that were simply erased. Due to the intricacies of the settlement, the real hurt didn't hit right away, but it's hitting now. Like most small publishers, our business is basically a break-even proposition in the best of times, so there's really no way to absorb a loss that big.

We are committed to getting through and past this difficult time, and we're hoping you, the readers who have from the start made McSweeney's possible, will help us.

Over the next week or so, we'll be holding an inventory sell-off and rare-item auction, which we hope will make a dent in the losses we sustained.

So if you've had your eye on anything we've produced, now would be a great time to take the plunge. For the next week or so, subscriptions are $5 off, new books are 30 percent off, and all backlist is 50 percent off. Please check out the store and enjoy the astounding savings, while knowing every purchase will help dig us out of a big hole.

Many of our contributors have stepped up and given us original artwork and limited editions to auction off. We've got original artwork from Chris Ware, Marcel Dzama, David Byrne, and Tony Millionaire; a limited-edition music mix from Nick Hornby; rare early issues of the quarterly, direct from Sean Wilsey's closet; and more. We're even auctioning off Dave Eggers's painting of George Bush as a double-amputee, from the cover of Issue 14.

I hate to be alarmist, but, well, I'm alarmed. Think I'll surf over to McSweeney's now and see what I "need."

Sunday, June 10, 2007

When All Else Fails . . .

. . . get more software.

While my attempts to use various types of software to write my book have not been completely productive, according to the recent New York Times article by Rachel Donadio, "Get With the Program," other much more successful writers have had great luck with computer programs. Most of the authors included in the article, however, didn't mention software specifically designed for writing. They credited Excel, Microsoft Project, voice recognition software, Mindjet MindManager, Microsoft OneNote, and even the Logitech io2 pen for their assisting in their success. Only one writer quoted in the article used actual "writing software," Dramatica Pro.

The Times article failed to include, yWriter, the free (yes that's right - free) writing software I mentioned in a previous post. I wish I'd kept working with yWriter when I first test-drove it more than a year ago. yWriter has the features I most want, is easy to use, and like I said, it's free! Simon Haynes, creator of yWriter, and author of a series of humorous sci fi novels featuring Hal Spacejock, has an update in the works which has tempted me to try it again. Simon correctly guessed that I had moved the entire document too quickly to Word Perfect and yWriter2, the version I was using, didn't have an easy way to switch back and forth. In yWriter3, available in beta, Simon has added that and other features. I'll let you know how it goes.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is

"A bookstore is one of the only pieces of evidence we have that people are still thinking." - Jerry Seinfeld

Twenty-five percent off everything at Liberty Books and News in the Shops on Lane Avenue!

Okay. I know you're not reading this blog to see advertisements, but one of the few independent bookstores in central Ohio is in trouble. I hate to admit this is no surprise. It seems to be the fate of independent bookstores across the country. And, if recent news is correct, it might be the fate of bookstores in general. I recently read a blog post suggesting that even Barnes & Noble and Borders aren't doing that well. Just the same I'm foregoing this month's essay space to send out a cry for help on behalf of Liberty Books and News.

Located in the Shops at Lane Avenue, Liberty Books & News is a sweet space with free coffee (the sign says they're here to sell books, not coffee) and nice chairs and a lovely table on which to write or study or lounge. They have a wide range of cards, magazines and books with nice people to help you find what you need. The store also offers a venue for author readings and provides the space for Rattlebox Poetry's monthly events.

Again, my apologies if you find this plea offensive. I just can't imagine the day when there are no bookstores left in which to browse. I hope you will swing by the store and spend a few bucks. And if you don't live in central Ohio, find an independent bookseller in your area and go drop a few bucks there. Please!