Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Temptation Tuesday - Hi-Tech Romance Writing

This Tuesday at The Pink Heart Society our own Trish Wylie asks whether or not any of you have been tempted to go *high tech* with your writing - and if you have then what worked best for you?

Ahh the good old days... pen and paper... an idea but a fluttering whisper in the back of your mind... a candle-lit desk... romantic music playing in the background... pink feather boa around your neck...

Erm. NOT-SO-MUCH. We're in the 21st Century now gang, and there's a wealth of time saving devices out there for us. So what have we tried and what works...hmmm???

We all know what great additions to our lives things like mobile phones are nowadays. Who out there DOESN'T have one? Though in varying degress of all-singing-all-dancingness if you're anything like me. My latest Modern Extra manuscript had a young-ish hero on the up who'd made money and I just knew he'd be a gadget kinda guy - so that involved me roping my sixteen year old nephew into helping me out with what's the hottest thing on the go right now - cos frankly? All mine has to do is ring and I answer it. Alright - that's a lie - I also like it to text and have a couple of games for me to suck at and to take pictures that I still haven't figured out how to download... But the main thing that made my decision for me with the purchase of a new one was that it fit in my handbag! As to whether or not I can connect to the internet with it, answer emails, have it ring a number when I ask it to out loud - hmmm...

But a laptop - wellll - can any writer live without one these days??? It was my one big purchase last year and I had a lot of fun being able to choose one way, way, waaayyyyy faster than the one I had before and I use it every single day (am using it as I type this!) and it travelled all over the US with me this summer - but already I'm thinking of a newer one, a lighter one, one that might be faster still... It's a necessity to my work - I can write off the expense - I can't live without it! Oh no, I'm going hi-tech, aren't I?

So what all is there out there to make our writing lives easier?

Well many's a writer of course has an Alpha Smart - that lovely clunky-keyboarded piece of equipment that we can take everywhere - it's battery operated - it's lightweight - it doesn't overheat - it's procrastination free - it can help up your word count before you realize it... But is it starting to be replaced already???

Because of course there's now the PDA. When Kate Hardy brought hers to London last year I coveted it - I'm not afraid to say so. It was so neat and handbag sized and, well, HANDY and you could get a fold out keyboard for it (I'm a keyboard kinda gal) I-WANTED-ONE. But then I bought my laptop and I already have an Alpha Smart gathering dust so the question was, would I use it? Mind you - when I saw how cheap they were in Times Square I almost...


Then there's all the accessories you can get. Let's look at the one sweeping the writing world in the UK shall we - it's Dragon Speak. I'm tempted by this one too! This allows you to add a program to your computer so you can dictate your manuscript! Oooohhhh I thought when I found out you could get a wireless version - I could be doing dishes and tidying up and quoting my book at the same time!!! THAT sounds like a time saving device! AND it would get me moving to help with that other great writerly problem of writer's butt! GENIUS. But then I heard tales of varying hilarious translations... Hmmm...

At the RWA Conference some of us were given lovely pens by our publisher. Not just ordinary pens you understand but MICROPHONE PENS. And you know what - I LOVE mine. I keep it in my handbag - therefore fulfilling one of my vital criteria! If I have a sudden brainwave I can whip it out and dictate it into the pen so I don't forget... how cool is that? All I need now is for it to be in the handbag I have with me when that brainwave arrives... Hmmmm again... Sooo many handbags.... so few brainwaves....

To take a step further we have software to help us write a book ?! How do I know this you may ask? Well... *laughs* - funny story for ya - so, I'm like, you know, published - and have sold ooohhhh I'd say maybe eight odd books and have just gone full time writing (this is a good year to eighteen months ago here you understand) and for my birthday - my MOTHER BOUGHT ME ONE. Now how exactly should I take that??? I mean - she reads my books...Hmmmm yet again. But do we really need these elaborate programmes to get us going? Whats wrong with a good old word doc? Having said that, I'd love to have a play with a screenplay one to see what it could teach me...

But on further investigation there are sites where we can go look for - wait for it - PLOT GENERATORS. Oh yes indeedy. There's one here and here and if you want one you can keep at home you can even get one of those here... This high tech stuff might be able to do the writing for us one day soon if we just sit back and wait... We'll be able to sit with our pink feather boas on, our feet up, eating chocolate fed to us by voice commanded robots who look like our beloved Hugh while in the corner our laptops will write books on their own and send them to the editor and do the revisions and...well heck, even a baby can write these things, right?


So do you have a piece of hi-tech equipment you couldn't do without? Do any of these seem at all tempting to you??? Maybe you've had experience with some of these things and want to come share???

For now I'm happy enough with my laptop - it even lets me play music straight into my ears so I don't have to get off my rear to go find my ipod... Now - if I could just get it to fit in my handbag....
H's & K's

Trish's next release is a little bit of a hidden surprise...

As part of Sexy Sensation's first birthday next month her Modern Extra The Return Of The Rebel is a bonus read inside Susan Napier's book Accidental Mistress ~ but as it's not flagged you'll have to go hunting for it!

You can pre-order the book here if you want to make sure not to miss the follow up story to Trish's book Breathless!

For more info you can check out Trish's Website or Her Blog...

And Trish will be with us all this week at the PHS Yahoo Loop when pretty much ALL of the Modern Extra Authors will be joining us as part of our Pink Heart Society Birthday Celebrations!!! To join the loop simply click on the Yahoo Group icon on our sidebar... We'll see you there!!!

Are you in to try and win tonnes of goodies with The PINK HEART SOCIETY TREASURE HUNT???

Today's Birthday Present for the Lil Pink Dancing Guy can be found at Fiona Lowe's Blog...


  1. Ok, those 'plot' generators kill me!!!!! :-)


  2. I can't believe your mom bought you that! No, actually I can. My beloved mother-in-law still doubts my ability to do laundry correctly, and I've been married to her son for 14 years!

    Love my AlphaSmart. He's an older model, but I love him anyway! Keeps me away from this darned, um, I mean delightful, internet, and I like that I can't edit myself to death as I write.


  3. My alphie sits gathering dust. I really hate the clanky keyboard and I hate not knowing where I am in a chapter. I am curious about DragonSpeak but I'm not sure my muse would survive my speaking my stories outloud!

    I'm entirely with you on wanting a lighter laptop. Faster I can live without. Because I'm completely neurotic about losing my WIP, I never connect my laptop to the internet - and save compulsively as well! The positive side is that I can't always be distracted by the flashing orange light at the bottom of my screen - usually Trish to say she's found a great YouTube I have to see!! vbg

  4. I couldn't live with the tiny screen on an Alphie (I have played with Kate W's and... it's not for me.)

    And I can live without laptops. If I'm in the library doing research they are TOO BIG to sit by a microfiche reader. And mine, being quite old, is really HEAVY. (Son is casting covetous eyes on it.)

    That's why I have the PDA (have to admit, U nicked that idea from Fiona Harper - I had PDA envy for hers). And I have a memory card that works in both that and my PC so transferring files is easy and wireless.

    And I too have Dragon. I used it years ago (was easier to dictate than type when I was pregnant with my son!) but it was slow and creaky. The new version is much better. I prefer using it for nonfiction - but if I'm on a roll I can do fiction on it as well. (The translations can be annoying - and I can't hear it played back to me very well because I can't do headphones). And having to go back in afterwards to do the punctuation because it's too intrusive to dictate that at the same time. Oh, and dictating a love scene when you have a 10-y-o boy and 6-y-o girl in the house? (Noooooo.)

  5. Have to say the thought of dictating my story fills me with horror (visions of Barbara Cartland on the couch here with her pekinese!) But I do like the idea of a microphone pen, sometimes I get flashes of inspiration for bits of smart dialogue which I've forgotten by the time I sit down at the computer again.

    I have a Mac, not a PC so some of this software's not available and I don't have a laptop yet. But if I manage to get these revisions done and sell another book that's going to be my first purchase. A nice slimline snazzy little apple, I'm salivating already. I don't care what it does as long as it looks beautiful.

  6. I am so envious!
    My mobile does no more than text, it's so old (dust inside the screen!). Him indoors finally caved in 18 months ago and installed a desktop PC (at last I could write!), broadband a year ago.
    I dream of a laptop,so I don't have to bash away in a gloomy corner for hours, or type up my scribbles from 75p wilkinson notebooks. When I can properly call myself a writer(first cheque!), I'm going to buy myself one.In fact I've already been in to the Sony shop and stroked the gorgeous metallic red VA10. So sad I know...

  7. Not sad at all Rachel - and you can call yourself a 'proper writer' if you're actually writing. Lots of people talk about it but so few actually put time in at the keyboard.

    I started writing when my husband brought home laptop from work. I used it in the evenings and did everything on a disk. My first cheque bought our desk top PC. Then another laptop, a desk, bookshelves .... It comes!

    Oh but my mobile does no more than text and I rarely if ever remember to charge it.

  8. There's hope for me yet then, Natasha!
    Thanks for that morale boost-feeling nice and fuzzy now. I'll practice saying it : 'I'm a writer actually...''I'm a novelist-contempory romance...' It sounds so lovely(big sigh!).
    Just to let you know, Natasha, I never knew what the word procrastination meant until I started to read this blog. I looked it up and now I know.
    Guilty as charged!

  9. I love a laptop, and that's all I have ever worked on, but I am looking for a new one, maybe a Vaio, because I want something small that I can lug to a coffee shop or book store easily to try and work away from the house. I've had three Dells over the last 12 years that I've worn into the ground, the most recent only a year old, but that's all I need. And wireless -- get away from the internet? Unimaginable. ;)

    I did have a Treo I was using to read e-books, but it was one of my husband's cast-offs and all I used it for was reading, and it died. I don't want a PDA because I don't use them, but I wouldn't maybe mind a mini-PC, could be an option to a Vaio, I don't know...

    I don't believe in writing software -- if you can't sit down and write a story, I don't think any software in the world will help you. Voice recognition stuff wouldn't help me either, because I can't speak as fast as I can think (some people might argue this, namely, dh), but I can't imagine saying what I want to write... there's a line between brain and fingers that definitely bypasses lips...

    Interesting topic...


  10. Writing software strikes me as a great way to procrastinate...and I have Dragon, it just scares me to think what will come out...if I just let it fly and ramble? My...that would be a MESS!

  11. Yes some of the plot generators and writing software are H-I-L-A-R-I-O-U-S aren't they??? The garbage truck driver story might be a tad of a hard sell ;)

    So we're pretty much all agreed on laptops, have mixed emotions on Alphies and PDA's and Dragon...
    is that what we're saying lol???

    I agree that a writer writes - full stop - the thought that there are programmes that can do the same job amuses me. How fast would we all be unemployed??? As to the Barbara Cartland thing - hmmm - I don't see my doing that either. Even if she was as big a fan of the colour pink as we are...
    Mind you - she did used to have MALE assistants to dictate to, didn't she? THAT I COULD WORK WITH - well - given the right APPLICANT...

    And yes Jenna - MICROPHONE PEN! Bwahahahahaha....

  12. I have a mini portable pc, an NEC MobilePro 790. it runs Windows CE so starts up instantly. It's pretty basic - I use a flash card to transfer the data to my Mac - but at less than $100 on Ebay, it was a good investment. I take it along to the coffee shop and type away, or sit in bed and write.

    I sort of wish I'd gotten the newer model that has bluetooth and such, but at least with this one I can't get distracted by the internet!

    My number one piece of technology is a notebook and pencil. Never, ever be without some sort of idea-recording device.

    I should try dictating though, when I'm driving - I write the scene in my head, but when I sit down to write, it just evaporates. Argh!


  13. ultraportables:


    Nanobook - http://www.nanobook.info/

    I actually posted a comment here, having a go at the bull**** Beat Generation reference, but they deleted it.


    or you could get really retro and go for the old HP Jornada, or the British Psion.


  14. I was hoping Helen would post about her MobilePro. I really like the look of it. If I ever decide to go 'portable' it's at the top of my list of choices.


  15. *waves at jennie

    those plot generators are fun, too - actually one bizarre-sounding combo I got out of one of those ended up sparking the first scene of main WIP. It morphed a bit, to fit with the idea I was working on, but it was such an interesting location and the 'what was she doing THERE?' thing.....

    BTW you can get folding keyboards for PDAs - they vary wildly in quality, so you have to do your research.