Fifty-Five and Counting…

by RS on September 12, 2016

The world works in mysterious ways. Cliché, right? Well, this year the Universe has proved that it is on my side. So many good things happened: from getting story assignments from Newsday to moving to Vermont and to having the opportunity to attend the second Writer Unboxed UnConference in November.

I am achieving my goals—albeit at a slower pace than I anticipated. Some of that has to do with how things work and some of it has to do with my own procrastination. I have fifty-five days to accomplish one major goal, and I am so close to achieving it, and that is…drumroll…finishing Julius.

Oh, I know you’re rolling your eyes and thinking, “Oh, yeah, we’ve read this before.” This time, though, I am near the final chapters and if I stick to my schedule I will have a complete manuscript by November 6th. However, a small reminder—Julius has gone through many completed versions. The issue was that each one had its on set of problems and needed to be fixed. Via all those revisions, I discovered that I have a story about loyalty to family and political beliefs as well as betrayal of family and political beliefs (sounds very Mario Puzo).

It’s taken me a long time to piece together the story I wanted to write, and what’s fascinating about the process was to see how both story and writer have evolved. One of my many challenges with this story was to present characters who are not flat cardboard cutouts, but actually flawed human beings. I’ve had to go back to the beginning and ask why they do what they do. In other words, my characters have been on the couch in deep analysis. What I discovered about Jake is that he’s not a selfish bastard, but suffers from a personality disorder. He is a narcissist. I also discovered that one of the so-called bad guys is not so bad—he has a conscience. So while I write new material and weave in these revisions, I discover certain elements within the story that are now surfacing. It is that cream rising to the top and it’s very good.

Thus, I still stand with that cliché that the world works in mysterious ways. The Universe as a muse is helping me finish my story.


Digital Doodle

by RS on September 2, 2016

Since getting the iPad, I discovered a great app that inspires me to draw. It’s called Paper by 53 and it has a bunch of nice features, but the one that I like the best is the sketching/doodling function. You don’t need a stylus to draw and can use your finger, but, lucky me, when I ordered my iPad cover it came with a stylus.

My drawings are quick sketches and because I am using an iPad and a stylus they’re not at all sophisticated. Today, I discovered how wrong I was that you can’t create layered and complicated art on the iPad with a stylus. I happened to look at apps Twitter feed and saw what others are creating. It puts my doodles to shame. In any case, I thought I would show you some of my finest pieces. I am quite proud of them because I’ve never been good at drawing.

Here are the first images just using my finger and testing out the app:

Doodle - 29

Doodle - 26

Doodle - 24

Once I had the stylus, I began to sketch some items around the house, including a beagle:

Doodle - 20

Doodle - 14

In the drawing feature there’s a paintbrush function that’s similar to painting with watercolors so I went ahead and played with “pigment”:

Doodle - 12

I’m discovering that each day I draw that I’m improving little-by-little. Below are the sketches I drew in the last three days:

Doodle - 2

Doodle - 3

Doodle - 6

What’s interesting about Paper by 53 is that somehow it isn’t as intimidating to digitally draw as it is (at least for me) in a traditional sketchbook using ink or pencil. Last night, I decided to give the iPad a rest (actually, more like a charge) and decided to draw in my new sketchook. With my sharpened pencil hovering over the page, I had this sudden fear that this non-digital sketch would never turn out as good. I persevered, put away the pencil and drew a series of flowers with my new set of colored pens:


I’m partial to the blue flowers on the lower left-hand corner.

I was inspired to learn to draw after viewing Meighan O’Toole’s Instagram feed and watching her progress. I reckoned if she could start fiddling with paints, pencils and colored pens, I could do the same. So now I have a pretty good selection of watercolor pigments, brushes, palettes, colored pencils, pens, sharpies, sketchbooks in different sizes, but Paper by 53 is my predominant drawing application. However,  I will continue playing with all mediums and will keep you abreast of my progress.


Becoming More Mobile

by RS on August 11, 2016

My Writer for Hire produced no new clients, but I managed to get a generous project that allowed me to consider investing in an iPad and installing the new iOS Scrivener. The deciding factor was a social media client who needs daily updates on Instagram and Facebook (so much for that hiatus). Technically, I could do these updates on my phone but the tiny onscreen keyboard is hard on the eyes and I don’t like typing with my thumbs.

I researched the various generations and settled on the iPad 4,which runs iOS 9, which is what IOS Scrivener requires. Lucky me, I found one on eBay from a seller that refurbishes iPads. Mine has a new screen and a couple of nicks around the edges. Otherwise, it’s pretty close to new. Let’s say newish at best. It arrived on Monday and it felt like Christmas and my birthday combined. I played with it. I downloaded apps that I had on the phone and purchased Scrivener.

Thoughts thus far…it took me a while to understand how to sync with Dropbox and after viewing several videos, I was even more confused with the instructions. I sort of figured it out and when I synced Julius and opened it on the iPad, but I noticed that my gallery of images had disappeared. What happened? I don’t know, but I think it was an error on my part. What I saw was that the index cards were labeled but no photos. I managed to find the images and repopulate the gallery and sync it back again—actually there were several steps or attempts in between of linking and unlinking Dropbox, but I sort of figured it out. Or so I thought. To make a long story short, after a texting exchange with a friend now I understand how the entire process works and what I was doing wrong.

I’ve linked several projects onto the iPad and I am writing this post using iOS Scrivener  as a practice run to get acquainted with the interface. I’m currently using the onscreen keyboard and it’s not that bad at all. In fact, Scrivener has included some added-value keypads so you don’t need to be toggling back and forth between the iPad’s alphabet/symbol/punctuation onscreen keypad. Just as an FYI, I intend to offer tutorials in two weeks both on Simply Scrivener and privately. For private class rates, drop me an email.

But getting back to becoming more mobile. I’ve always had the concern that if I took my laptop to a coffeehouse, the library, or needed to travel with it at some point, and given the odds because it is a MacBook Pro, it would be stolen or break. Plus, after a while, it gets heavy to schlep around. I considered a Mac Air, but pricey and, again, there’s that fear of theft. Of course, the same could happen with the iPad, but the dollar loss isn’t a thousand bucks

So I’m happy with it and the old iPad 1 I bought in April for almost nothing will be a back-up Kindle.The Samsung Tablet I am giving to a friend. And after this purchase I believe I am done with the early Christmas presents to myself.