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!

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Throwback Thursday - Going Old School

This week I thought I'd go wayyyyyyyyyyy back (Like circa 105 kind of back) 

As a full time writer, I often get writers block, suffer from burnout, complain about my neck and shoulders hurting from long hours at the computer. Bitch about edits (just kidding Love you Erika), lost manuscripts, and sketchy internet. But I got to thinking, in this day of technology I really am blessed. I mean seriously, can you imagine writing an entire novel with a quill and ink??

So here is your mini history of  writing. Let's bow down to those who paved the way for the conveniences we sometime take for granted. 

 Invention of Paper - Circa 105
Court official and eunuch T'sai Lun introduced paper (boiled and pressed tree bark, hemp, rags, fishnet) to the Chinese court. This invention led to his promotion by Emperor Ho-Ti. There may have been earlier papers, but this is the first recorded use. Prior to this mud and stone tablets, papyrus and silk sheets had been used for preserving the written word.

Invention of Movable Type - 1450
 Johannes Gutenberg (born circa 1400 A.D.), a German from Mainz, Germany printed the Bible associated with his name, probably the most famous book in history. Prior to this each line had to be written by hand (usually by monks), or carved in wood. With this invention metal letters could be moved around and interchanged in any combination, thus allowing the relatively cheap mass production of books. Prior to this each book was a scarce work of art which took months or years to produce.

Invention of the Eraser - 1739
 Joseph Priestley (1733-1803), English chemist, discovered the ability of the newly-introduced material, rubber, to remove pencil mistakes from paper, but it wasn't until Charles Goodyear developed vulcanization in 1839 to keep rubber from spoiling that anyone though to make a commercially viable rubber eraser. A Philadelphian, Hyman Lipman, got a patent on an erasure attached to the end of a pencil in 1858, but this was later declared invalid because his invention combined two things with no new use.

Invention of the Pencil - 1794
 Graphite in various forms has been used for many centuries and there is no known "inventor" of this writing tool, but by the time France went to war with Britain in 1793, the only worthwhile "pencils" were those made from natural graphite from England. Cut off from its usual source of graphite, the French government commissioned Nicholas Jacques ContĂ©, chemist and painter from Paris, to devise a substitute. He patented molds of impure graphite admixed with clay which worked well.

Invention of the Pencil Sharpener - 1828
Bernard Lassimone, a French mathematician, patented the earliest-known pencil sharpener in 1828. The first manual sharpener resembling those in use today was patented in 1847 by Therry des Estwaux, another Frenchman.

Invention of the Typewriter - 1868
 Christopher Latham Sholes, newspaperman, printer and state senator from Wisconsin, patented the first commercially successful writing machine with his partners, Samuel SoulĂ© and Carlos Glidden, but could never raise the capital to market it. He sold the patent rights to Remington Arms shortly thereafter. The machine featured a moving carriage return, pianolike key action, and the QWERTY keyboard arrangement (commonly used letters spaced out to prevent jamming of type arms). He patented an improved keyboard arrangement in 1896, but everyone thought it not worth the cost to retrain all the typists; the QWERTY system is still the most popular arrangement for keyboards, including computer keyboards.

Invention of the Ballpoint Pen - 1938
Lazlo Biro, a Hungarian journalist, invented the ballpoint pen because he was tired of wasting time filling his fountain pen and cleaning up spills. While visiting  a printer, he noticed that the ink on the printing press dried quickly without smudging. His brother, Georg Biro, a chemist, helped with the creation of the pen. During World War II, the British government bought the licensing rights so that the Royal Air Force fighter pilots would have something to write with, since fountain pens leaked at high altitudes. This model is still today's most popular pen, aka the Bic, with 14,000,000 pens sold daily.

Invention of the Word Processor - 1976
Michael Shrayer, an avid computer hobbyist from California, created the Shrayer's Electric Pencil program on his Altair (one of the first commercially available personal computers) to make it easier to write manuals for his programs. It took him a full year to complete and it allowed people to create, edit, store, retrieve and print documents digitally. In 1979, Micropro International produced the first commercially viable descendent of the Electric Pencil, WordStar.

To all those who have made my life so much easier....
I applaud you and thank you! 

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Working with Files from Anywhere: Dropbox

While convalescing poolside yesterday after my unfortunate run-in with a motorized scooter while at Legoland on Monday (see Facebook for the full story), I asked Jo for ideas on what to write about. Her suggestion: more about tech tools like Dropbox, Grammarly, Hemmingway, etc. Being the huge geek that I am, it makes a lot of sense to dig in and check out different tools, so expect to see several of those posts in the next few weeks. For today, however, I’m going to talk about the first one on the list, Dropbox, and how I use it for myself and with my authors.
These Favorites actually link into the Dropbox folder.

Dropbox at its core is simply a file server in the cloud. If you download the Windows or Mac client to your machine, it really does just act like another folder on your computer, only any files that are in that folder also get synced up to Dropbox’s servers. So files you save on your computer to your Dropbox folder do continue to reside locally, but also get copied to the cloud. Alternately, you can use it through a web browser to upload and download files.

File Backup
Personally, I have Dropbox set up so that everything except my program application files is stored in Dropbox. So all of my documents, my music, my photos, etc., all live in my Dropbox folder on my laptop. If anything happens to my laptop, I don’t have to worry about losing any of this data, because it is all automatically backed up any time I am connected to the Internet. I haven’t had the misfortune of losing or breaking my laptop since I started using Dropbox, but I have changed computers a couple of times, and I can say this process is made much easier by Dropbox. When I set up my new laptop, all I had to do was install new software. Once the Dropbox client was reinstalled and my account resynced, all of my data was available again.

Syncing Across Computers
But even more than switching to a new computer, syncing with Dropbox allows me to seamlessly switch between machines when I am on the go. I have 3 different laptops (my primary ultrabook running Win 8.1 and Office 365, my backup netbook running Win7 and Office 2010, and a MacBook Pro running Yosemite and Office 2011) that I swap between when troubleshooting tech issues or when I am creating help files. I also have a Surface 3, an iPad Mini, and an Asus VivoTab I use when I am editing on the go. (Yeah, I am just a tiny bit of a geek.) By syncing my files to Dropbox, I can be on any of those 6 computers/tablets (or on my iPhone), and I can access the same files. I can start editing on my main computer that is docked on my desk, then pick up where I left off while sitting in the carpool line after pulling the file down to my Mini. And because each of those machines has a different amount of disk space, Dropbox has the option of what it calls “Selective Sync”, where I can choose which files I want to automatically sync to which machines. But even if I haven’t chosen to sync a file to the machine in question, I can always use the web client to go retrieve it.

Previous Versions
Another great advantage of using Dropbox to save files to is being able to retrieve previous versions. Dropbox saves a version history of the last few versions of the file that were saved to Dropbox. If you realize that you overwrote something important, you can go into the web client, look at the list of previous versions of the file, and then download the file or files you need. (Note: I know previous versions are saved in the paid plan. I am not sure about the free plan.) This has saved me a couple of times when working in a shared folder on a document that multiple people had access to.

File Sharing
The last thing I use Dropbox for with my authors is file sharing. I do this a couple of different ways. The first way is how Dropbox can be used with anyone. Dropbox links can be put in email, sent over instant message, etc. to allow anyone to download a file that is stored on Dropbox. This is a one-way transaction that allows others to download files, even if they do not have a Dropbox account. This is especially handy if the file you are trying to share is larger than is easy to send over email. There is even a Dropbox plug-in for Gmail now that makes it easy for these two services to work together.

The other way I use file sharing with authors is to actually create a shared folder. For authors with a Dropbox account, I can create a folder that we both have read/write access to and then we can exchange files via Dropbox instead of sending them via email. In the past I have used this system to work with authors on the other side of the globe from me so that they could review and work on edits while I was sleeping that I had completed during my daytime. By working out a file naming scheme when we started, we each knew which files were ready to be worked on. And if by chance, something happened that shouldn’t, we always could use Dropbox versioning to roll the file back. But we never had to.

Overall, Dropbox is one of the core tools in my editing arsenal that I absolutely cannot live without. It is one of the very first things I install on any new piece of technology I purchase.

Dropbox is free for a basic account that provides 2 GB of data. If most of what you store is text-based documents, that may be all you need. Or you can upgrade to Dropbox Pro for $9.99 a month to get 1 TB (that’s 1,000 GB) of data. That’s the plan I have. Keep in mind that tools like Dropbox are generally tax deductible in the US if you file a Schedule C for self-employment income as a writer or an editor if you are using it primarily to store and/or backup your stories. (Sorry, I don’t know about other countries.)

Learn more at

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

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Talk to me Tuesday - Backyard Reading Oasis

I'll admit there is something about curling up with a good book, a hot cup of coffee, a fuzzy blanket and read in front of a roaring fire in the depth of winter. But like I always say, anytime is a great time to read. That's not only true in the winter, but spring, summer and fall too :)

Here's some great ideas to spruce up your backyard to make the perfect summer reading oasis.

15 DIY Ideas To Create A Heavenly Backyard




Monday, July 27, 2015

Back to the Grind - Coffee with a Kick!

I talk a lot of smack but to be completely honest....I'm not a big drinker. Now, don't get me wrong, I love the buzz, the flavors, the feeling of sitting in a pub with a drink in my hand is like the best. However, I'm a complete and utter lightweight. I get a buzz off one beer - three... There will be shenanigans with dancing on the table quite possible.

I'm sure this non-tolerance thingy is passed down from my mother, she has zero tolerance for the stuff. I am only thankful that my over-indulgence ends in shenanigans and hangovers, considering her's begin and ends with hives. *Yikes*
Anyway, I got away from the point. Which is.... Since I have to be careful with how much I drink I choose wisely. *Sometimes*  The greatest invention EVER is coffee. I drink it from morning to night and add in a little kick of alcohol--Bestest EVER. If you're a coffee lover and want a kick, check these delish recipes

Espresso Martini 
1 1/2 oz Kahlua
1 oz  Vodka
 1 oz Espresso
Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake vigorously and strain into martini glass.
The Truffle
1 oz. Frangelico
1 oz. Vodka  
3/4 oz. cold espresso
Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake vigorously and strain into martini glass. 


The Wake Up Call
2 oz. Vodka
1 oz. Coffee
1/2 oz. Triple Sec
1 oz. Milk
Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake vigorously and strain into martini glass.