Tuesday, October 13, 2009

All Hail Neo

No, there is no mis-spelling in the title - I am talking about the Alphasmart Neo (www.alphasmart.com). It is nothing more than a powerful word processing system for writers on the go.

The full size keyboard is extremely comfortable and the screen only allows four to six lines of text at a time. No outlet is needed, just four AA batteries and you are good to go for about 700 hours (I am still working with the same batteries that came with the Neo and still have half their life left).

The company did not send the Neo to me to review, I purchased same in 2007 when I crossed the 50,000 word finish line for National Novel Writing Month (aka NaNoWriMo) as my big prize for winning and my little green machine (lovingly named “the beast”) has been busy ever since (actually this blog has been written on the beast while waiting for an appointment).

The Neo (beast) has traveled with me whenever and wherever I have gone and in the middle of writing something. It hooks up easily to a USB port so you can transfer your work to your main system. You can also hook it up directly to a printer that has a USB cable to print out your writing without saving. The Neo itself holds eight separate files that can be clicked over to one another with just a simple keystroke.

I can continue to rave about this little device such as it is lightweight, portable and works like a dream...ha-ha, guess I just did anyway. The price is a bit steep $200+ (including shipping and handling) [you can find used models on such sites as eBay or Amazon], but in my personal opinion, it is worth every penny and now more so because my handwriting is getting worse due to a disability.

For all the praises one could impart about the Alphasmart Neo, I think I have covered them all, the only downside I have experienced with the Neo is that the screen is not backlit so I can work outside at night, but that was easily remedied with a book light that clamps gently to the Neo and lights both the screen and the keyboard.

If one cannot write because of a hand injury or disability and speech recognition software shows off your stuttering, I would highly recommend investing in an Alphasmart Neo (whether purchased from the company or a deal found elsewhere) to keep you writing.

Monday, September 28, 2009

The Writer Unplugged

Being completely unplugged from electronics does something for a writer - it makes them go into panic mode - LOL. Seriously, it allows a writer to go old school (pen and paper) or allows the mind to unwind.

Here it is, the first weekend in Fall in Southern California and we are in the middle of a heat wave (102˚ in El Cajon, California) and 95% of our power goes out (only the kitchen power is still functioning - which is good for the refrigerator). Thankfully, I had just saved what I was doing, so there was no major loss. The heat made its presence known, even with the fans going (extension cords running from kitchen to living room), Muse was not happy and refused to do anything - she wanted to play. Muse grew bored with reading and playing hand-held video games. She wandered around, bouncing off the corners of my mind. I had to get her to settle down.

A few days prior, I was waiting to go to an afternoon doctor’s appointment so my mother and I decided to explore the local hobby store. A few isles in and my mother sees “stained glass” coloring books (coloring pages printed on vellum so the design is visible on both sides) and finds one of dragons and wizards - she buys it for me.

The coloring book sits on my desk waiting to be used for a few days. The heat hits and it seems like a good time to try our hand (Muse and me) at it. After a few moments, something wonderful happened - Muse settled down and Artist that had been in storage comes out to play and is loving every moment.

Muse is free to do what she wants. Ideas to problems start falling into place and new ideas begin to show up. Everything is written down in odd cryptic notes (she can read them later). Artist continues to work on the picture until it is finished.

I wake up the following morning, it is cool out -YEAH - and Artist puts the finishing touched on the work and bids a good day. Muse is happy and is ready to explore the notes and get them in order.

Moral of this little tale - get thee to a hobby store and get a coloring book that you like. Let your Artist out to play and you will be surprised how your Muse will calm down and start putting missing pieces together and bring back the joy, love and passion of writing.

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Joys of Coffee

This is so true for some writers (count me as one of them)...massive amounts of caffine does wonders to help fuel Muse and keep my butt planted in the chair until she is tired or my arms fall off. Thankfully it has just been until Muse gets tired. Currently working on a bit of flash fiction before November. When November hits - 50,000 words will flow from my fingertips and burn the screen. Next month (October) will be a week of getting everything together. Until next time - keep your butt in the chair and your Muse heavily caffinated.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Shorts to Start

I am a writer - yep, that pretty much sums up my passion. I have been writing since I could hold a crayon (although the early years were pretty much scribbles and pictures because I could not yet write). My passion is fantasy in all of its glorious forms. Therefore, I invite you to peruse some of my work and let me know what you think.

House for Sale: http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/2147767/house_for_sale.html?cat=44

Toys from a Dog’s Point of View: http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/2047165/toys_from_a_dogs_point_of_view.html?cat=44

Demon Dream: http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/2017994/flash_fiction_content_demon_dream.html?cat=10

The Darker Side of the Whaley House: http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/1085433/the_darker_side_of_the_whaley_house.html?cat=9

The Lady of the Seventh Stone: http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/878913/the_lady_of_the_seventh_stone.html?cat=44