Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Technology Round-Up


After last week’s post, I had a couple emails asking more about what I used my various devices for. And since I always like talking tech, I figured I could happily oblige another week to go into a little more depth.

As you’ll remember from last week, I use Dropbox to store all of my working and reference files (well, most of them, I have a few scattered on Google Drive—but that is for another week), so I can access any of my files from any of the machines below.

Computers

Primary Machine: Lenovo Thinkpad Yoga
This is a 12.5” Ultrabook with 8GB RAM and a 256GB SSD. It has a touchscreen and rotates into tablet mode, though I find I almost never use it that way. I run Windows 8.1 on it currently and Office 365 (Word/Excel/PowerPower/etc. 2013). I also have a docking station for it that allows me to easily connect an external keyboard, mouse, and monitor.

What I use this for: most of my work, whether it is docked at my desk or sitting in my lap.

Secondary Machine: Microsoft Surface 3
This is not the Surface Pro 3, but the smaller, lesser-powered Surface 3. It is a 10.8” screen with the Surface 3 keyboard, the Surface Pen, 4 GB RAM, and 128 SSD. I bought this more because I wanted something with long battery life, but not as a true laptop replacement. But I wanted a full version of Windows, mainly because I wanted a full version of Office. And that is what it has worked for. One nice thing about the Surface 3 is that it charges off a USB port, which meant I could charge it in the car on a recent cross-country trip. I can’t do any graphics or video manipulation on it, but it works great for the web and Office. Another drawback is it is not a true laptop. Its tablet form-factor means it is top-heavy and the kickstand really needs something to sit against. I ended up using a legal pad in my lap in the car. But I would totally consider keeping a slightly larger messenger bag so I could have this with me all the time for spur-of-the-moment editing. (Yeah, I know, I’m weird. Move along.)

What I use this for: when I need longer battery life and more portability than my Lenovo can provide but still want an almost full-sized keyboard.

Troubleshooting Machines: Acer Netbook and MacBook Pro
These are not everyday machines, but as mentioned last week, I also have an 11.6” netbook running around that still runs Win7 and Office 2010 and a MacBook Pro running the latest version of OSX and Office 2011.

What I use these for: troubleshooting, helping authors, and creating help videos for non-Win8/non-Office 2013. I also have OpenOffice on these machines (I have it on my primary machine as well) for when working with authors that work with it.

Mobile Devices

I tend to carry my iPad Mini with me wherever I go because while I can read in a pinch on my iPhone (though it is more comfortable to do so on the Mini’s larger screen), I have determined editing on my iPhone just doesn’t work. It really is a read-only device in all but the most extreme circumstances.

iPad Mini
It’s not the latest one, but I have an original iPad Mini running the various Microsoft Office products on it. It is a fantastic program and does Track Changes like a champ. I will often use it to edit while I am on the go (or when I am lying in bed), though I find that instead of making complex changes on the Mini’s touchscreen keyboard, I will mark a blank comment to remind myself to come back to that spot when I get back to a bigger computer later. I really wish that the iOS keyboard had arrow keys. It would be much more efficient.

Unfortunately, the iOS version of Office doesn’t do three things that I really, really want it to: advanced find and replace, macros, and (in Excel) conditional formatting.

which leads me to…

Asus VivoTab 8”
Finally, my Asus tablet has 2 GB RAM, 32 GB SDD, and a 64 SD card, running Windows 8.1 and, yes, Office 365. I got the Asus to replace the Mini when the Mini started dying because I wanted something that would allow me to do the three things that the iPad version of Office was missing, yet would still fit in my purse. It’s a new addition to my lineup, so I haven’t used my Asus as much as the rest of the list to know if it is actually going to work for the purpose I intended, but I am hopeful. Early tests are looking positive.

iPhone 5S (Soon to be an iPhone 6)
I’m including this more for completeness sake than anything, though I do keep a working version of the Office suite for iOS on my iPhone so I can open documents and see them properly formatted. Mostly I just read and/or copy and paste from them; I don’t try to edit on the iPhone.

And that’s the current (active) list. Let me know if you use something else that you think I would be interested in. I love gadgets of all kinds, especially if they make my life easier.

Before I go, a quick note. If you ever wanted to get even farther into my head, the Mischief Corner Books crew interviewed me for the second volume of The MCB Quarterly, released on July 31. In it you can read my opinion on all kinds of random editing topics, as Freddy MacKay and I had a bit of a stream-of-consciousness Skype conversation and she pretty much lets you see it all.

https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-themcbquarterlyvolume2-1859073-140.html
http://amzn.com/B0135MS4O8

Happy writing and see you next week.


Erika OrrickErika Orrick wanted to be a writer when she grew up, but detoured into computers when she realized she actually wanted to eat. Financial stability established, she eased her way back into storytelling by fixing other people’s words and discovered she had a knack. An admitted geek, she is constantly distracted from resuming her quest to be a writer by all the shiny. Luckily, since she hasn’t yet grown up, no one can say she hasn’t met her goal. She has tried (and failed) to escape Texas twice and in fact now lives on the north side of Houston, less than 100 miles from where she started.
Erika can be found on Twitter at @erikaeditsbooks or email at erikaeditsbooks@gmail.com.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Back to the Grind - Coffee Cake in a Mug

One-Minute Coffee Cake in a Mug
 

Ingredients
  • ¼ cup Bisquick mix
  • 2 Tbsp. milk
  • ½ Tbsp. Truvia Baking Blend (or 1 Tbsp. granulated sugar)
  • ¼ tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp.coconut oil
  • 1 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • ¼ tsp. ground cinnamon

Instructions
  1. Lightly spray a microwavable mug with cooking spray and then mix together Bisquick, milk, Truvia, vanilla and coconut oil inside.
  2. Mix together brown sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle over the top of the mixture in mug.
  3. If desired, swirl with the tip of a knife to spread throughout the mug.
  4. Microwave on high for one minute. Carefully take out of the microwave and devour. Enjoy!

 Now that you've saved so much time preparing your breakfast, you'll have plenty of time to enjoy some Coffee Cake while enjoying your coffee cake!
Enjoy :)
 
Bran Kendrick never expected to fall in love. He’s asexual, after all. What chance does he have of finding someone who’ll see past that? So when Malachi Warren catches his eye, Bran tells himself his crush will pass. Malachi disagrees. He has been attracted to Bran for some time, something he is delighted to find Bran reciprocating. They begin to date and feel their way through an intimate relationship that meets both their needs.

Suddenly Bran finds himself juggling a new boyfriend, a demanding job, and a college degree he’s not sure he wants, but he couldn’t be happier—until a series of seemingly random accidents befall Malachi. When they escalate, Bran realizes someone is trying to take away the best thing that ever happened to him, and he must scramble to keep Malachi safe while they search for the would-be killer.

Get your copy HERE 

 

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Author Spotlight - Tara Lain

A Love in Laguna Novel

Jim Carney has a full time job—running from himself. Since he walked out on his wealthy family at sixteen because he’d wrecked his best friend’s life over some yaoi graphic novels, Jim has lived a macho, blue-collar existence of too much booze and too little responsibility. Then Billy Ballew, the man Jim most admires, gives Jim a chance to come through as his construction supervisor. For once, Jim is determined to make someone proud. Then Jim goes in for a physical for his new job, and his yaoi dream comes to life in the form of cardiologist Ken Tanaka. Jim discovers he has two heart problems—a wonky mitral valve and a serious attraction to his doctor. But Ken is a major player, and Jim might be just a notch on the doc's stethoscope. To Ken, Jim is unforgettable—but the living embodiment of his traditional family’s worst nightmares. How come the minute Jim decides to be responsible, he finds himself taking care of his kid brother, getting a proposal from a wealthy woman, making a deal with the devil, and winding up in the hospital—when all he really wants is the Knave of Broken Hearts?
Get your copy HERE


Check out these and other great books by Tara HERE

Tara Lain writes the Beautiful Boys of Romance in LGBT erotic romance novels that star her unique, charismatic heroes. Her first novel was published in January of 2011. Her best-selling novels have garnered awards for Best Series, Best Contemporary Romance, Best Ménage, Best LGBT Romance, Best Gay Characters, Best Erotic Romance, and Tara has been named Best Writer of the Year in the LRC Awards. In her other job, Tara owns an advertising and public relations firm. She often does workshops on both author promotion and writing craft.  She lives with her soul-mate husband and her soul-mate dog in Laguna Beach, California, a pretty seaside town where she sets a lot of her books.  Passionate about diversity, justice, and new experiences, Tara says on her tombstone it will say “Yes”!

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Saturday, August 1, 2015

Ruin Porn Coming Soon!!!

There is underlying beauty in destruction….

Miah Thade, Finn Reese, and Ritchie Meyer are Resonator, an indie rock band with an edge—best friends turned rock stars, known as the Detroit 3. When Evin Rene appears in their life, none of them can deny he belongs with Rez.

They may have named their first album Ruin Porn because people get off on seeing how Detroit went from deeply loved to thoroughly forsaken, but they’re determined to prove that blight isn’t the entire story and blight isn’t always ugly.

Ritchie, Miah, Finn, and Evin take Resonator to a level no one anticipates. But no prosperity comes without sacrifice, and no secret stays hidden without a trail of lies. As Rez’s fame grows, so does the intensity between two of its members… as well as their potential for destruction.

Evin and Finn are about to discover the underlying beauty in their ruin porn.


PROLOGUE

Los Angeles


EVIN LAID his forehead against the grimy front door, closed his eyes, and tried to remember how to breathe.

Maybe this was irony—two doorstep vigils in this shitty LA apartment in one year—but Evin had no idea. He might have been one of the primary songwriters for Resonator, but putting poetic weight behind his words wasn’t the same as making sure they were neatly confined by proper grammar.

Whether or not his current pathetic situation was ironic by the strict definition was something Miah—as much as he wanted to act the dumb, egotistical lead singer—would have known. Evin smiled at the thought, then grimaced just as rapidly. The realization of just how far removed he was from the three men who had meant the most in his life for such a short but memorable time was like a physical punch to the throat and gut at the same time.

He and the founding members of Resonator had worked their asses off and fucking killed the music industry giants that told them alternative rock with a hard edge would never be massively popular again. It didn’t matter how many minds they’d changed, though, Rez was over. Disbanded. Defunct and fucked-up. It had all fallen apart so fast. Ironically (maybe), for reasons much more controversial and tabloid-worthy than everyone believed.

So much had changed in the last year that he couldn’t decide whether it was easier to start over with a new band or try to fix what had been damaged. Standing in front of this damn door yet again, he was terrified because he didn’t know what came next. The knock he was waiting for now could either bring Rez back together or put a definitive end date on all their careers. Only adding to his stratospheric stress level was the realization that he couldn’t be sure which outcome he was hoping for.

All he could be sure of was that there was change coming, and there was nothing he could do to stop it now.

He banged his forehead on the door a couple more times for good measure and muttered under his breath as he walked away, “Get it fucking together, Kevin—”

Wait.

Kevin… Evin… Fuck!

He didn’t know what to call himself anymore now that he wasn’t the bassist and songwriter for Rez.

The fans camped outside his building kept up an almost constant chant of Rezors love you and Bring back Rez. There were other more demanding and linguistically colorful phrases thrown in every now and then, but every one of them called out for Evin without fail, not Kevin.

He’d only been Evin for a year, but it wasn’t as if there was a chance for him to go back and change it—any of it—now. He might as well embrace the twenty-two-year-old man he’d become, even if he wasn’t particularly proud of who that was.

There was a tap against the door, a forlorn knock he’d been both waiting for and dreading. Then Shonda’s voice, low and soothing, reverberated through the plywood. “Security let me up. Thanks for allowing them to….”

They have no choice but to listen to everything I say. He was the one paying the four guards who verified the identities of everyone coming into this ramshackle building so that no one could sneak up and harass him. It was probably the safest the down-on-life residents of this slum had ever been.

There was the sound of crinkling plastic and the corner of a magazine appeared in the gap between the door and the tarnished, dented carpet strip. Shonda continued, “I’m just going to leave this copy here, Ev. It goes public everywhere today. I hope to hear from you. I hope it’s what you expected…. I hope maybe it changes things for Rez.” She was quiet for a moment, but Evin knew she was still there. He leaned his shoulder against the doorjamb but didn’t answer her. She sighed. “Call me.”

She knocked softly two more times, a gesture of familiarity and support, and then he could hear her shuffling away, back to the stairs, as if she was making noise so he knew she was gone and he was alone.

He waited until the silence in the hallway had dragged on for minutes before unlocking the series of deadbolts and opening his door. The magazine lying at his feet was an inanimate object. It was neither sentient nor harmful in and of itself. But Evin stared at it as if it were an exposed live wire submerged in a tank of water.

“Oh for fuck’s sake,” he grumbled, swiped the magazine up, and slammed the door shut. He made sure to click the locks home before he settled himself onto the worn futon to see what Shonda had written.

He’d made the front cover, which Shonda hadn’t prepared him for. It was ludicrous and surreal to see his ordinary bearded face—his conservatively styled sweat-soaked brown hair whipped back from his forehead by fingertips—staring back at him in the blinding black and white of a live concert shot. He immediately knew why Shonda had chosen this pic to set up her exposé. The Evin in the photograph was looking across that stage at an unseen entity, his expression equal parts rock god, lovesick fool, and insecure madman.

Evin swallowed the bile building in his throat, cracked his neck, attempting to break some of the tension, and flipped through the pages until he saw the headline—The Rezor’s Edge: Resonator’s Bassist Tells All and Yet Nothing. He skimmed the pages, getting a feel for Shonda’s writing style. She’d taken their meeting and reported it in a first-person narrative, interspersed with photos she took on her phone that day, all to give the illusion the reader was sitting at the table with her and Evin. It had been painful enough to withstand the first time around, he wasn’t sure if reliving that day in such vivid detail was a good idea. But if there was anything he had down to a science lately, it was making epically bad choices.

So he read:


We meet at a coffee shop in some alley in downtown LA. The location is suspect at best, just on the edges of Skid Row, but I try not to worry because this is Kevin “Evin” Rene’s old stomping grounds, and his clean reputation more than precedes him. For once, he’s not surrounded by bodyguards or fans, and I know why as soon as I spot him at a back table. While the Evin of Resonator fame became a fan favorite by not disguising himself when he stepped out and was always willing to stop, talk, and take pictures with fans—the hardcore and aptly named Rezors—this post-Rez iteration of Evin is wearing a baseball cap and mirrored Ray-Ban aviators to go with his usual T-shirt, jeans, and battered Converse. He looks like every other LA celebrity trying to disguise their identity, which makes him conspicuously incognito. I hardly recognize him, especially when I realize his trademark beard is gone.

He stands when he sees me coming, removes his sunglasses, and just as much the nice guy as his rep suggests, pulls out the chair across from himself. He’d texted me this morning asking what my favorite tea is, and sure enough there’s already a cup waiting for me.

“So, Evin—” I begin.

“Please, call me Kevin. It’s my real name. Well, the name on my birth certificate. You know, the name I had before all this madness—” He clears his throat and his eyes dart around uncomfortably. “—occurred.”

“So, Kevin—”

He puts up his palm and shakes his head, interrupting me again. “I’m sorry. Evin. Call me Evin. I can’t—” He stops talking abruptly and looks away.

Now my curiosity is really piqued.

“You were the one who reached out to me after the breakup. Why did you call me?” I ask.

“I’m getting a lot of requests for interviews and without the overpaid PR reps to guide me, I had to decide when and if to speak on my own. You and I know each other, sort of, from the Made in Americana tour. I couldn’t think of anyone else I could trust. Hell, I don’t know if trust is the right word. I don’t really want to be talking to you.”

“If we’re being honest, right?”

Evin shrugs.

“Let’s talk. It’s been two months since the breakup of Resonator. You were at the top of the charts when the announcement came. Why then?”

He scratches at the smooth skin of his jawline, then stops, as if he expects to be able to pull at the hair there like he did in every other interview where things got more personal. It’s a tell I don’t think he knows he has. But he seems frustrated that his beard is no longer there to pick at, and he gives that recognizable scowl that’s more precious than menacing.

I try not to laugh. “You want something easier? Less personal?”

“I don’t suppose that’s how you want this to go?”

“It’s pointless and you know it.”

He nods, sips his coffee. “But safer.”

“I won’t argue that. Okay, we’ll start slow. Tell me about Rez. About your success.”

He visibly relaxes. “I couldn’t have done it myself. Without the Detroit 3. Wouldn’t have wanted to.”

It’s the first time he’s mentioned the other three members of the now-defunct Resonator since we started negotiating this interview weeks ago: Miah Thade, lead singer, Ritchie Myer, drummer, and Finn Reese, guitarist, known as the Detroit 3 because of their shared hometown and the lifelong friendship of their fathers.

Evin doesn’t say anything else. But his intro leads us straight to the question everyone really wants to hear the answer to, so I take the opportunity and ask it. “What happened then?”

He fidgets, grips the coffee cup in his hands tighter.

I prompt him. “It would be easy to write off the breakup of Rez on the usual suspects—stress, drugs, creative differences, burnout…. But that’s not what happened, is it?”

Evin laughs, his boy-next-door smile cranking up in response, but still far from the genuine smile Rezors remember from the stage. “It’s complicated.”

“Sounds like a relationship status on Facebook and not a contractual issue as Miah Thade stated.”

The first mention of Miah’s name out loud sends Evin’s smile into an abrupt frown. “You’ll have to talk to Miah about his statement.”

“You’re not talking to him?”

“No.”

“What about any of the other members? Ritchie? Finn?”

“No.”

“So you haven’t heard where Finn is?”

“If I’m not talking to him….” Evin’s head snaps up. “Wait. Where is he?”

“No one knows. He dropped out of sight even more than you, Miah, or Ritchie when Rez disbanded. None of the guys know where he is. His family either.”

The corner of Evin’s lip tips up into a half smile, but there’s a tinge of anger to the gesture. “He’s fine. I’m sure.”

“How can you be so sure?”

“Because he’ll do whatever it takes to survive.”

With the classic avoidance technique of the nonanswer hanging between us, Evin goes quiet.

It doesn’t seem to matter to Evin that he’s the one who called me. Or maybe he doesn’t realize he’s not answering anything I’m asking him. At least not with a straight answer. It doesn’t make sense. It’s been months since the breakup, and Evin was the one who sought me out.

I lean in. “Why did you agree to speak to me today if you don’t want to answer my questions?”

“I think I’m still trying to figure it all out. I don’t know when we went from this passionate connection because of our mutual love of music to a marriage that stayed together for the kids, for the fans.”

“A marriage?” I ask him, curious about his use of the metaphor since this formation of Rez is only a year old. Evin gives a shy smile, that same one that disarmed twentysomething women worldwide since he changed the face of Rez by becoming their fourth member.

“Strange choice of words, I know. But being in a band isn’t much different. Legal contracts, name changes, compromises…. Maybe we were never as invested, never as honest with each other as we should have been.”

“Maybe?”

“Definitely.”

“You obviously have something in mind that you want to say to me. Maybe that you need to say through me and this interview? To the other members of Rez? To the fans?”

Evin nods and settles against the chair. “I have to say thank you to the fans for supporting us and evangelizing for Rez. Without them, we never could have made it as big in such a short time as we did. I love all of them and will never be able to repay them for the hours of their lives they put into lining up for our gigs and showing their adoration. To Miah…. He saw something in me I wasn’t sure was there. He had faith. I’m sorry I didn’t have the same faith in him. To Ritchie for teaching me to smile again. That fucker is uncluttered in a way everyone wishes they could be. And to Finn—”

His voice cracks, and he’s rushing the sunglasses back over his eyes before I can really see, but I swear he’s crying….


Evin slammed the magazine shut and threw it across the room, unable to finish the article. He had been at that table that day. These were his words and actions. He knew what happened next. Filtered through Shonda’s perception and journalistic dramatics, their conversation in that coffee shop took on a level of melodrama he’d expected but wasn’t quite prepared for. It didn’t change the fact that he’d said things to Shonda he never thought he would admit out loud. Things he never thought he would confess to anyone else, let alone in an international music magazine with his face on the cover. Now he had no choice but to wait and see what the fallout would be.

He stared at the glossy jumble of pages where they lay on the floor next to the kitchen. They hadn’t even made a satisfying thump when he’d pitched them against the wall. He stood, bent to pick up the mag, walked it to the recycling bin, and tossed it inside with a huff of frustration. This attention to being clean and tidy had been drummed into him during the tour—it wasn’t part of who he’d been before Rez—but he couldn’t seem to break free from the compulsion. Some habits died harder than others. Especially the ones he’d never wanted to give up.

He slid down the wall and planted his ass on the cold, cracked tiles of the kitchen floor, his head in his hands, his knees curling into his chest. He couldn’t stop his mind from whirling around the what-ifs. The unending screams of the fans outside just made it worse. He was taunted by the memories of his time with Rez and how badly it all had ended.

Evin clutched at his chest, felt his heart stuttering under his fingertips in a way that made him understand that the heartbreak he’d written about in more songs than he could count was pretty damn close to being a real physical thing.

And while he missed them all, that bottomless emptiness he carried with him was in direct proportion to how much his hands ached to touch one of them. How desperate he was to hear that one voice. How loudly he wanted to scream at one man for taking everything they’d worked for and destroying it with his lies.

He was haunted by the memories of Finn, more than the rest of them. He had to learn how to say that name without choking. To remember his face without sadness, sickness, or pure anger.

But not today.

Today he would put some of the millions he’d earned into actually finding a decent place to live. One where security was included in the exorbitant price and he was either far enough behind a gate or high enough that he would never have to hear the fans again.

Today he would find a way to move on from this dump of a life. He had to be standing in front of a cleaner door the next time a major shift in his life came knocking.

Of course, that’s when the pounding of a fist shook the pressboard on its cheap-ass rusted hinges.

Evin thumped his head against the wall and swore under his breath.

There was only one person who would be able to make it seem as if he was reading Evin’s thoughts, only one person who would be able to charm his way past security guards who were paid to keep him out. So if he was showing up now, then another life-changing decision had been made.

And yet, Evin was staring at the same damn chintzy door.

Now that had to be irony.

Pre-Order your copy HERE! 

Friday, July 31, 2015

Scotty's got some $0.99 sales going on!!

Head on over to Dreamspinner Press and grab you a great deal on a few of Scotty's books. While there check out the rest of his backlist--it's quite impressive :)



Check them all out HERE

Scotty will also be popping on to the Dreamspinner Press Facebook page so be sure to stop over and show some love 

Find them HERE!