Sunday, January 31, 2010

AlphaSmart Neo

A fellow Western Pennsylvania Romance Writer (WPRW) brought her AlphaSmart Neo to our last WPRW meeting and I was simply amazed. This is a writing necessity for any writer!

This incredible little machine runs on three AAA batteries (700 hours of fun-filled writing adventure), weighs under two pounds, and is simplistic enough for anyone to use.
I haven't found any cons, so I would like to share the PROS (just to name a few!):
  • No boot-up process--> simply turn the machine on and start typing.
  • No 'save before you exit' process--> simply turn the machine off when you are done and it saves your work automatically.
  • Spell Check--> it doesn't recognize my Gaelic names; however, I simply add them to the dictionary and keep on typing.
  • Word Count--> extremely important to me when I strive to meet my daily goals.
  • Display--> can display up to six lines, but I favor setting it at four. (The more lines, the smaller the font.)
  • Downloading to Computer--> connect USB cable, open up Word and press Send. Yes, it's that simple.
I had a writing regimen in place, but found out how incredibly lacking that was until the purchase of my Neo. I am now able to type at work (during lunch breaks, of course ;) on public transportation, in the car (while the dh is driving ;), basically anywhere.

I found out that teachers actually use this device in their classrooms. A fellow Celtic Hearts Romance Writer (CHRW) advised that AlphaSmarts were distributed to her daughter's third grade class for writing assignments i.e. book reports.

This is an incredible device and so easy to use. This is one of the smartest investments I ever made. You can also check out their entire website at:

Happy Writing!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Computer Chaos

I never realized how dependent I was upon my computer until an unforeseen, untimely, turn of events occurred--my computer crashed and so did my world!

Not only do I not know what's wrong with it, but I can't even turn it on to find out what that may be. I call my ISP only to find out that my connection is fine and it's the computer itself. Oh, no! That's what I was afraid of. It would have been so much easier if it was an ISP issue.

Oh, great! Now I'm thinking what files have I lost and what files can I do without. I cringe as I realize my latest WIP is on there and not only am I unable to work on it, but I pray it's still there! No worries though, this smart cookie has it backed up on CD. I am not flushing a year's worth of hard work down the drain!

I am not technically inclined and have no idea what to do. Hey, I have a thought. I'll call Best Buy and talk to the Geek Squad! I think that is a really smart idea until Jr. tells me oh, so rudely, that I have to bring it in and it's going to cost me $69 just to run a diagnostic (which takes about a week). Oh, did he forget to mention they also have a three week backlog? Oh yes, please don't ask him any questions over the phone because he does not give any technical advice.

Crap, crap, crap! I cannot wait four weeks for my computer to return from the dead. What to do, what to do. Let me try the good 'ole fashioned phone book. Wow, there is actually a local computer repair shop listed. What have I got to lose? I can't believe my ears. "What? You will actually send someone to my house this Wednesday?" What service and what a nice, young man on the phone. "What? It sounds like a Power Source issue that can be replaced and the technician should be able to fix it on site?"

That is going to be well worth my money spent. I would rather give my hard earned money to the Mom and Pop shop rather than to Big Brother.

Big Brother does not always know best or have my best interest at heart. This writer needs to keep on writing!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Why Kids Love Diary of a Wimpy Kid

It seems that Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney is flying off the shelves.

This book is a hit among my daughter's friends (9-12 year olds). I couldn't help but wonder in a world filled with Edward, Jacob, Stefan and Damon's why this book is so interesting to her age group. So I asked her. This is her response verbatim.

VR: Why do you like to read?

CR: Books are full of interesting stories.

VR: What is your favorite book and why?

CR: Diary of a Wimpy Kid because it makes me laugh.

VR: What is Diary of a Wimpy Kid about?

CR: It's a story about Greg who's around 12 years old. It's basically Greg's journal and he tells about his everyday life. He writes about home, school, his brother and his friends. He also draws in his journal about the day's events.

VR: What makes you want to read about Greg's everyday life?

CR: Because he makes fun of everyday situations and it makes me laugh.

VR: Can you relate to what Greg goes through?

CR: YES! (*head nod* and that was a BIG 'yes'!)

VR: Thank you for answering my questions. I only have two more.

CR: (*eye roll*) OK.

VR: Team Edward or Team Jacob?

CR: Both! I like vampires, but I like Jacob's abs.
(*eye roll* from Mom)

VR: Team Stefan or Team Damon?

CR: Team Damon!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Winter Blues

The first snowfall is a beautiful sight with its glittering snowflakes and picturesque views.

That's pretty much what I think the first, second or third time it happens--then reality sets in. I've now lost track of how many times this beautiful sight with its glittering snowflakes and picturesque views had already occurred this year. Actually, it's not so fun anymore.

It's dark at 5p.m.. My car is disgustingly filthy (no sense cleaning it now because it will be dirty again tomorrow). When the sun does shine, I'm huddled up in my square cubicle. No worries though--by the time I leave work, it will be dark again anyway. The kids are confined, the dog doesn't want to play and 8p.m. now feels like 11p.m. All you want to do is sleep.

I look forward to the bright, sunny days (no coat needed), fruity drinks and the feel of sand between my toes. If I close my eyes, I can almost feel the warm breeze blowing on my skin. Oh, wait! That's just my heater!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

The Adventures of Writing

The first series of books I ever read and became shamefully addicted to was V.C. Andrews, Flowers in the Attic series. Wow! I could not put them down. For those of you that have read this series, you also understand how 'familiar' the relationship became between brother and sister. Yep, that pretty much stopped me in my tracks.

Since then, nothing really caught my or should I say kept my attention.

While in high school, I started writing a story about an older man in love with a younger high school girl. Of course it never went anywhere, but I spent months in my room typing, typing, typing on that old typewriter. I didn't even realize that was the start of a romance genre for me.

It wasn't until years later when a friend of mine twisted my arm to read historical romances set in Scotland. I fought her tooth and nail and compared it to watching a bad 'highlander movie'. Needless to say, she was very persistent. She gave me Hannah Howell, Lynn Kurland, Karen Marie Moning and I was hooked!

That friend of mine is now my critique partner, biggest fan and supporter. Everyone should have one!

I am currently writing a Scotland Historical Romance set in the 1600's. This will be the first in a series of three. This is opening a new chapter in my life and I can't wait to see how it ends.

Stay tuned...