Pull up a log by the campfire and enjoy some original creations by Stuart J. Whitmore, including photos, fiction, software, technical solutions, video, and more.

Top 3 Alternatives For Staying Informed

I'll lay it out straight: My fan newsletter is really the best way to stay on top of what I'm up to writing-wise. It doesn't cost anything, and there's no effort involved, it just shows up once a month in your inbox. But backing up a step, why would I talk on this blog about alternatives to this blog? One simple reason: I've decided to pare down the amount of time and attention that I spend on this blog so I can focus more on writing books instead of blog posts. This change is one aspect of a strategic shift this year, to produce a lot more book-ready content.

I will continue to post here, but I will no longer stress about making a post every Friday (which I was never good at anyway). I've removed my "post weekly blog entry" recurring task on Todoist. So if you want to stay informed about my writing, I highly recommend subscribing to my fan newsletter! Read on for two other alternatives.

Finally Gave Canva A Try

For a while now, I have been hearing from other authors about how useful Canva is for designing book covers as well as other book marketing materials. The first time I went to the site to check it out, the site pages would not load properly. The home page seemed to load fine, but anything else was simply a blank page other than social sharing icons on the right-hand side. Eventually I got around to trying a different browser in a different operating system. That seem to make all the difference. As my first experiment with designing a book cover on Canva, I created a new cover for my book of photo tips: Take Five! for Better Photos You can see the new cover here. Read on to see the old cover that it replaced, and my thoughts on using Canva so far.

A Smart Tool for Higher Word Counts

A key "theme" for me this year is to massively increase productivity, especially as it relates to my writing. Late last year I began using Todoist, which has helped with my productivity across the board -- in fact, I wish I'd started using it months ago. I recently upgraded to a newer version of Dragon NaturallySpeaking, with which I am enjoying vastly more accurate recognition (even if I am not enjoying the reduction in third-party software compatibility). My newest addition to my toolset is, like speech recognition, specific to my writing.

This past week I picked up a surplus (used) Alphasmart Neo2 for about $30 including shipping. I decided this was an appropriate way to use patron funds collected through Patreon since they are supporting my creativity and this is a creative tool. I've read rave reviews from other writers about the Alphasmart devices as tools to focus on writing without temptations and distractions like email and Web browsing. I used my Neo2 to draft this blog post, which is the second bit of productive work I've done with it. I was hesitant to buy it, but now I'm very glad I did and wish I'd done so earlier. Read on for more detailed commentary about this device and what I hope it will mean for me and my writing projects.

Collaboration and Success

Collaboration is a wonderful thing. Yesterday, I participated in a collaborative promotion effort with other indie authors who, together, made a total of more than 60 books available as free downloads for one day. The title that I decided to make free was No Fanfare, which is a very short story that does not get a lot of download activity. In fact, it gets almost no activity at all. That briefly changed yesterday, as the story reached over 200 new readers.

This burst of activity would not have happened, at least not without monetary cost, without all of the participating authors working together to promote the promo. Unfortunately, some people don't understand the value of collaboration, as some of my earlier efforts demonstrated to me rather bluntly. Read on for a few examples.

What Can I Say?

Third time’s a charm, right? This is my third attempt at writing this blog post. Writing isn’t technically the correct word, because I’m dictating it. This is my first blog post since I upgraded to Dragon NaturallySpeaking version 13 Premium Edition. The first attempt at writing it was lost when Dragon crashed. The second attempt at writing it was lost when I got frustrated and planned to quit using Dragon. But here I am again, dictating this post again. There are many things that went wrong with this upgrade, read on to find out what they were.

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