Novel Writing on an iPad

Novel Writing on an iPad

NaNoWriMo is about to begin and I will be spending all of my spare time in the month of November writing my third novel. I plan to attend a slew of NaNoWriMo Local Events, including the write-ins. That means mobile writing. I have a work laptop, but it’s generally a bad idea to do personal work on your corporate laptop. That leaves my iPad or my smartphone. I chose to use my iPad and played with some apps and accessories to figure out the best way to do it.

Here’s how you can use your iPad to write your NaNoWriMo novel.

Goals

The first thing you need to consider is what you want to accomplish with your technology during NaNoWriMo. Some people use pen and paper and do quite well. Some people get along well with a text editor. Perhaps you want to do a little more:

  • Syncing: You want to do some writing on your home desktop, then pick up where you left off on your iPad. You want your documents to sync.
  • Offline Writing: You want to be able to write on your iPad even when you have no Wi-Fi available.
  • Rich Format: You want to be able to use different fonts and styling, like Bold, Italics, Courier font, headings, and more, and you want them to sync perfectly between devices.
  • Word Count: You have to have a word counter in your program so you can track your words for NaNoWriMo.

Tools

There are lots of apps and accessories out there that could enable you to accomplish your goals. As part of my technical blog, I wrote an iPad Series of articles on what you can do with your iPad. As part of that series, I wrote an article on Work Productivity on the iPad that focused on using an office suite, creating graphics, and writing a blog. I evaluated Pages, Skydrive, Google Drive, Quick Office, Evernote, and the Chrome Browser. While prepping for NaNoWriMo, I went through all of these options again and now have a recommendation.

Applications

What app should you use on your iPad? It depends on your platform.

Apple-Only

PagesIf you only work on Apple products, whether you have a Mac or you’re ONLY working on your iPad, Pages is your best bet.

Pages will work flawless syncing and backups to the iCloud and will be worry-free.

If you’re concerned that you’ll need to have your final edit in Microsoft Word, that’s not a problem. Just “share” your document as a Microsoft Word document and “open” it in another program – like Dropbox or Google Drive.

Apple and Windows

Your iPad is an Apple product, but your desktop/laptop is running Microsoft Windows and has the Microsoft Office Suite. Your best bet is to keep your novel platform-independent until you’re ready to publish.

GoogleDriveGoogle Drive is a combination of Google’s file sharing and syncing and the old Google Docs system.

Begin writing your novel in Google Drive. The file will be saved as a .gdoc format. Microsoft uses .doc or .docx. Don’t worry. When you’re done and ready to send it off to a publisher, you can go to any browser and download it as a Word document.

AutoSaves: Your novel will be automatically saved as you type. I couldn’t find any blurb where this was a selling point, but I tested it and it works! If the app crashes, just reopen it and pick up where you left off. This feature alone could potentially save your sanity and hours of rework.

Offline: You can sync your document just before you leave home and work offline all day. Click on the little i on your document and turn on Available Offline.
GoogleDriveOffline

Any Computer: You can download the Google Drive syncing app for your personal computer, or just open a browser on any computer, go to drive.google.com, and sign in to your Google account. You can view and edit your document there, even if you’re on a library computer. Just don’t forget to log back out of your Google account when you’re done.

Accessories

If you’re writing a novel on your iPad, you really, really, really need a keyboard. Bluetooth keyboards work very well with an iPad.

I am using the Logitech 920 keyboard that I originally purchased to use with my Android phone. I love the stand/case that it comes with. I haven’t had any trouble using it with my iPad.

If I were buying a new keyboard today, I would still buy the same one, mainly because I love the hard case that turns into the stand.

If I were looking for a more affordable option, I would get the Anker Ultra Slim Mini keyboard. It gets great reviews, is affordable, and is available in black or white. Hint: black keys look nicer longer. White gets dirty.

So – get your apps, get your accessories, and get started writing!

Book Three Begins!

Book Three Begins!

November is just around the corner and that means it’s NaNoWriMo time! For the unknowledgeable, November is National Novel Writing Month.

My writing has been pushed off to the side for the last year, but I’m back! And I’m ready to write Payne of Uncertainty: Ferox Payne Series Book Three.
Book03

Stay posted for updates!

Using a Pen Name

If you’re preparing to publish (or just beginning to write) you may consider using a pen name. I have a couple of friends that were getting married. She was constantly annoyed that her maiden name was mispronounced and his last name was Thigpen. Yes, Thigpen rhymes with pigpen. When they married they decided that they were both changing their name to Beck. Whether you hate your name or just want to use a catchier name, you may choose to use a pseudonym.

Choosing a Pen Name

To me, this was one of the hardest steps. How do you figure out one little word or phrase that defines your writing? Here is some good advice that I found on business.gov.

Whether it’s a clever moniker, a personal tribute, or simply picked out of hat, your business’ name will frame its identity. The significance of choosing a name can sometimes be a tricky undertaking. You may find it helpful to keep alternatives in mind during your selection process. If you’re having some trouble selecting a business name, here are some tips to consider.

Imagine how the potential name will

  • Look (on business cards, advertisements, with a logo)
  • Sound (ease of pronunciation)
  • Be remembered (connotations the name may incite)
  • Distinguish you from competitors (avoid trademark and copyright infringements)

You may want to avoid

  • Embarrassing spellings, abbreviations, profanities, potentially offensive undertones
  • Implied associations with organizations/people the business is not connected with

#1 – Make a Keywords List

So sit down with a pad of paper and do a little freestyle word associating. Think of all the words you would like your writing to be associated with. Think of images. Think of descriptive terms. Think of animals and colors. Go to an online thesaurus. Consider business endings to add to your pen name like “Enterprises” or “Creatives”. Make a list of your favorite words.

#2 – Search for a Web Domain

The first step to finding out if your pen name is available is to find out if the web domain is available. Even if you  never use it, it’s good to own it and possibly use the free email that comes with the purchase. GoDaddy, among others, offers free hosting and email plans. And buying the domain name locks in your ownership of the name.

If you need some help getting creative, Wordoid Web Startup is my favorite source to help you create new web names that sound like real words. If nothing else, it’s a fun resource.

#3 – Do a Google Search

Once you’ve decided on your name and made sure the domain is available, do a general Google search. Search for funny spellings and anything similar to your name.  A Google search can reveal whether your choice is already an author’s name or a famous celebrity. Move on until you come to a unique name. Unique doesn’t mean that the name isn’t a real name. There are other people named Stephenie Young, for example, but none of them are famous or celebrities.

#4 – Do a Registration Search

Once your online search is complete, do one final search. Check with the USPTO (US Patent and Trademark Office) and make sure there are no registered Trademarks for your new business name. Then go to your state’s Secretary of State website to do a business name search. Here is the Ky Business Name Search page. There is a link to your state’s Secretary of State page on the Business Incorporation page.

Pen Names and Copyrights

When filling out the Copyright information, you can easily use a Pseudonym. According to the U.S. Copyright office, you can additionally choose whether or not you want your legal name associated with the copyright. If you want your real name to remain private, you can file with only your Pseudonym.

Make a Business

One thing to consider when using a pseudonym is whether you want to keep your business accounts separate from your personal accounts. It is handy to have a separate checking account for your writing business. It makes things simple at tax time. And if you are able to receive checks as a different name (your pen name) it simplifies things as well.

Choosing a Type of Business

If you choose to create a business for your writing, you will need to decide which type of business structure you want. Basically, the more involved the business structure, the more paperwork and cost you incur, but the less liability you have personally.

Here are the basics in my own words:

Sole Proprietorship: Your business is tied to you personally. The paperwork is more simple. If someone sues the company, they are suing you. If you screw up, you are liable. There are no partners. This is what I recommend for someone starting a new business. You can move up to a corporation once you really start making some money. (Disclaimer – If you’re well-established and have a big net worth, go ahead and move up to the corporation or LLC to protect your personal assets.) This type of business is easy to start and easy to close. However, it’s harder to get employees to work for you.

Partnership: This is more complicated. I do NOT recommend you do this. If your business structure requires that multiple people are involved, I recommend that one person own the business and the other get profit-sharing or that there are two separate business entities. Partnerships are like being married, and divorces are messy and expensive and happen more often than you think.

Limited Liability Corporation (LLC): This is an extremely flexible structure that is good for partnerships, multiple business holdings, single business entities, etc. If you’re moving up from a sole proprietorship, I’d recommend this as a next step. The paperwork required is still much simpler than corporations and you can do what you want with the profits. The tax structure isn’t taxed like a corporation – it still acts like a sole proprietorship. But you still get the protection of “limited liability”. If someone sues the business, it’s separate from your personal assets. They can still sue you as the owner of the business. The liability is LIMITED, but not completely separate. Be aware that the LLC is tied to its members. If you sell the business, it will have to be refiled under the name with the new owners. The current LLC is dissolved. Also, you are required to pay self-employment tax, Medicare, and Social Security.

Be aware that an LLC does NOT protect you from owing on business debts. If you choose to make purchases on credit for your small business, your creditors will require you to sign PERSONALLY for those purchases. If the business fails, you will still be personally liable for those debts. However, any purchases made by the business – should it fail – will fail with the business.

S-Corp: This is a special type of corporation that has certain tax advantages. The owner is a shareholder. In an S-corp, the shareholders can avoid double taxation. In other words, when your business makes a profit, it gets taxed. Then, when you take a draw or get a paycheck, you get taxed on your income. Double taxation. This creates a business that is a completely separate entity from its owner. This makes it easy to sell or transfer the business. However, there are stricter laws on how you run your business. For example, you have to keep meeting minutes.

Corporation: If you really get big and choose to take on shareholders, you will need to become a full-on corporation. This requires a lot more paperwork and a different tax structure. Oh, and lawyers and accountants and double taxation… Have fun!

Non-Profit: These are usually for educational, religious, or charitable organizations. The good news – you don’t pay taxes! The bad news – you have to jump through a lot of hoops and red tape.

Here’s an informative link on Business Incorporation.

What To Do

If you’re looking for the most simple and straightforward way to have a business and write with your Pen Name, go with a Sole Proprietorship. Here are the steps that you’ll need to follow.

  1. Research and Decide on a Name – see the info above for details
  2. Buy Your Domain – just do it
  3. Register Your Name – In my state, a sole proprietorship needs to file an assumed name certificate with the county clerk’s office where the business is located.For specific information for your state, go to the Doing Business As Registration page of business.gov.
  4. Register Your Trademark – You can go back to the USPTO and pay to register your trademark if you like, but in the present internet age, you’re pretty much covered. Unless you came up with something really clever that’s going to make you a lot of money, I don’t recommend it.
  5. Register for a Tax ID – You probably don’t need one, but it is free to obtain. I needed one to open my bank account. You can apply on the IRS website.
  6. State Tax Registration – head to your state website and register to pay your taxes.
  7. Open a Checking Account – This checking account is for your business only. Put a set amount of start-up capital in there. For example, $500. The only money that goes into this account is for the business. The only thing you pay for is stuff for the business. Don’t buy the latest thriller from Amazon from that account because it’s handy. Open the account in your name, “Doing Business As” your business name.

 

 

Dreams to Life

Dreams to Life

I had a dream last night. It was of a race in another galaxy panicking because their sun was dying. They looked like us. They were human. They were scared. They needed help. Their entire planet needed to be moved before it was erased from existence.

The dream had absolutely nothing to do with my Ferox Series books and plots, but I have always planned on writing other series down the road. So I took a little break from my Ferox writing to do some thinking and plotting. The result of that is Terra:

TerraMap

The inhabitants of Terra were from Earth. During the early history of our planet, there was a genocide planned. Refugees were moved to another planet. The refugees called it Terra. Their migration was never forgotten, and their religions were lost. While the inhabitants of Earth were passing time building churches and having holy wars in the name of God, the Terra population was growing and learning. The planet is older than Earth. It’s crust has stabilized. It has no high mountains and the existing mountains are rounded and green with age and wear. The weather systems are much calmer than earth. There are no earthquakes, volcanoes, or tsunamis. It was a plant-based planet and animals were transplanted with the people. The people of Terra have surpassed us in the areas of transportation, agriculture, natural sciences, and technology. However, their weapons are not as sophisticated as ours. They are a defensive-based society and have developed shielding and defense strategies, but can’t kill the population as efficiently as the Earth.

I have developed a brief outline of their history and I know how the planet will be saved, though I don’t care to share that at this time. I may work on this project from time to time, but it won’t hit publishing until I’m well into (or done) with the Ferox series of Jennifer Kendrick.