Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Sweep (Flash Fiction)

Found on Google Images. I own nothing.

FLASH FICTION PROMPT


Swish. Swap. Swish.

The rough straw broom scraped along the worn stones. The priestess calmly continued her work, moving with slow deliberate movements, until she reached the end of the entryway. There was a faint gleam in her soft, brown eyes and her grip on the rough wooden handle, betrayed something deeper, something darker. Every so often, her gaze would flicker off to the left and towards the grand, stone archway that proclaimed the entrance to their safe haven.

“Anka?” The Head Priest rounded the corner, his sharp, dark eyes seeing everything that she did not say outright. He could not ask, anyway, for even in the wild forest, the trees had ears. “How many?” He asked, at last. His black eyes shifted to fix their gaze on the tall, looming mountains that bordered their sanctuary.

“Thirteen.” She continued to sweep, with careful, practiced moments. She'd been counting the refugees ever since they'd heard the news. “And then some.”

“And the others?” He asked, calmly. There were sure to be soldiers hunting the royal family, at least, those who had managed to escape. He had hoped for less than a dozen, but he would work with what he could. The refugees would be their first priority. He would focus on them instead.

“Five, six, maybe more. A child, I think.” Anka blinked. Her hazel eyes darkened to a near caramel hue, before she tightened her grip on the broom and prepared to go on sweeping.

He sighed, hands folded into the thick, warm sleeves of his outer robe. He knew this one too well. She was warding the front of the entryway, weaving her gift into the heartfelt prayers being whispered in her heart. She was worried for them. He was worried for her. This would be the first time she would actively have to sit out of an attack.

"Anka?"

"I am fine, Father." She inclined her head, but the smile didn't reach her eyes.

He regarded her, silently for a moment. “Very well. We will do what we must and we shall save all that we can.”

Her shoulders quivered, faintly. That was not the answer she wanted to hear, but it was one she was familiar with. A soldier of her caliber knew and accepted the risks and losses of their own kind.

He tilted his head forward, capturing her eyes with his own. “The path we walk is not an easy one.” He reminded. “But we are able to make a clean sweep of it all at the end of every day. The people that are coming to us, seek sanctuary and peace for their troubled souls. We are beacons and we are guardians.” His expression softened. “We do not fight, for He fights for us.”

(c) Sara Harricharan

The Ipad Writer : Plaintext (App Overview)


Hey Ipad Writers!

How's it going? Did you have a good week adjusting to all the fun things you can do with your Ipad? I hope so. Dropbox is quite fun to play with, isn't it?

Sorry for the delayed post--as some of you know, the spring semester for Uni is starting up and I'm already up to my eyeballs in all that it entails. Just know that I'll have at least one post a week. ^_^

Now, down to business.

Thanks to last week's post, we know about Dropbox. This means you now know how to get files on and off of your Ipad. Awesome. But what if you want to write things and keep them organized on there as well? There are literally hundreds of text processing apps in the app store. It's practically mind-boggling. I've tried no less than about twenty of them. I've found what works for me and so, I'll be sharing my favorite, handy, writing apps.

Sometimes I have an idea that I just want to capture really quick. You know, a nutshell kind of idea that I can expand on later, just a few sentences and maybe a few paragraphs if the inspiration is still running while I'm typing it out. So, what to do?

Well, my solution to this is the nifty app, PlainText. I absolutely detest the native IOS app, Notes, because of its lack of customization. I tend to write all over the place and so I have all kinds of fiction and poetry snippets, character sketches for a dozen different projects at any given time.  Notes has a distinct lack of folders or dedicated organization system that can be very frustrating and confusing. It tends to leave me with a headache, especially if you like your notes to be neatly ordered and in the same place.

To save myself the hassle, I turn to PlainText.

PlainText is handy in ways that the native Notes app is not. Now, Note is a helpful little app in its own right, but for serious writing, it falls short in a dozen different ways.

I love PlainText for a few excellent reasons:

  • Folder system
  • A very simple interface
  • Dropbox integration
  • Word count
  • Print / Email support
  •  Full screen mode. 


PT allows you to create folders and sub-folders inside of folders, which significantly opens up your writing world for some nifty organization. You could start your basic novel plot in PT, and start a folder, then branch off into sub-folders for dialogue snippets, characters, plot points, setting and so on--without cluttering up your running list of documents.

The interface is fairly clean-cut, with a nice pale cream color and crisp black text. You can opt to write in a full-screen mode which successfully hides the document list on the left, allowing you to write without distraction, whether with the on-screen virtual keyboard or a BT keyboard.

Remember the post on Dropbox from last week? Well, PT has built-in dropbox integration, meaning that it constantly keeps your notes synced to your dropbox in a folder labeled PlainText, once you give it permission to do so. This is one handy feature that makes PT even more of a powerhouse than you can expect. The Dropbox integration makes it easy to work on your files from anyway--and then to pick it right back up when you're on your Ipad. Because there's no "save" feature, PT automatically saves everything that you write in. A word count feature is also included--and definitely very useful for tracking project constraints.

And, best of all, this lovely little app is free.

There is an option for an ad-free version that is $1.99 to upgrade, but you honestly would not notice the ads, unless you tend to be easily distracted by bright colors. Most of us can focus if we really want to though, and after you're elbow-deep in some new plot point, you won't even notice an ad or two. Even so, PT is well worth the upgrade. It is an in-app purchase, so you are welcome to try the free version for as long as you like without ever being prompted to upgrade.

There is also a handy little search function that will narrow down files containing a specific word or phrase. This is helpful when searching for character notes or wading through large text files. There is also a scrolling bar that pops up when you need to search through a large file and the user guide includes this in the "tips and tricks" document that comes with PT.

And, here are the screenshots.
Ad-supported Version. Document List showing on left. 
 You can see the little gear on the left, for settings. Toggle whatever you need to, through there, such as linking up your dropbox. The option to manually sync is available, you can turn it on or off. You will also find the upgrade button in here.

There is the little magnifying glass--your search function. It can search for virtually anything that you want it to.

The File folder creates a new section and you can title it, then continue to add more from there. All files and folders are automatically sorted alphabetically.

The final page icon is the "new document" button. Tap it and start writing! You will be prompted to first title your document or you can leave it as "untitled" and just start typing away.

Full screen mode. Ipad Version Only.
And there you have it! Give PT a try and let me know what you think. If you're on your Ipad, click here to view PT in the app store. Questions and comments are welcome!

Happy writing!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Master (Flash Fiction)

Found on Google Images, I own nothing.


FLASH FICTION PROMPT 

“Master.” She entered the room and knelt by the door, a newly polished, silverblade knife in her hands. It would seem out of place anywhere else, but atop her slender, elegant fingers.

The blacksmith turned with a half smile, one bright eye showing his approval, the eyepatch twitching as his face did. “You’ve done me proud, Ariel.” He rumbled. “You may keep the knife. You crafted it in fire and ice in a thankless time. The blade will always answer to you.”

Her head bowed, scarlet curls dancing around her cheeks, a hint of a blush present. It was the first genuine compliment he had ever gifted her in the five years since her apprenticeship. “Thank you kindly, Master.” She murmured.

“Get to work.” He grunted, turning back to the anvil.

She bowed in answer and rose to her feet. The precious knife was sheathed in the holder strapped to her left thigh, hidden by the long tunic. She’d known this knife was hers since she’d hammered it out in the morning chill so many weeks ago.

She’d known.

So had her master, apparently.

(c) Sara Harricharan

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The Ipad Writer : Dropbox (App Overview)

Trying to put files on your Ipad? Try Dropbox!


Hi Ipad Writers!

Got your Ipad? Ready to get down to business? Here we go!

One of the first things you probably want to do is transfer a few files to play around with. This is mostly so you can see how it is to email things to yourself or, of course, to start working (or continue working!) on that story of yours!

Now, technically, you can email your files back and forth to yourself without any hassle. Most documents will open up in Ibooks or separately on an adobe acrobat PDF reader. It's not too complicated. On the other hand, leaving them in your email can get confusing and tiresome, not to mention you're never exactly sure when you edited what and whether you can find it again.

So, what to do, eh?

For moving things around, I prefer Dropbox.

Dropbox is my go-to App for everything related to files transfer and writing across multiple devices.

Most folks have heard of an online cloud storage service by now, popular names are iCloud (by Apple), Skydrive (by Microsoft), Box.net(by Box), Sugar Sync and Dropbox.

It's best to experiment to see which service works best for you, most have a free 2GB space and you can pay to upgrade to bigger storage. It is safe, secure and hassle free.

I write quite a bit, so I often have a few dozen stories in various stages of completion, pictures of potential characters, or a school presentation that I'm working on. Like a basic 2GB flashdrive, I use dropbox.

Dropbox is a completely free app and only requires a one-time account creation of an email address and password. They never send you any spam and its easier to remember an email address versus a brand-new username. In this case, anytime you sign into dropbox, you only need the email address you signed up with and your password, and you're good to go!

Dropbox allows you to install icons on your PC or Mac, where it creates its own individual folder named 'Dropbox'. Here, you can copy and paste files into the dropbox folder and give it a moment to sync. Unless you put a file into the dropbox folder, nothing happens. Dropbox does not seek out data on your computer or device, it's simply a virtual storage bin. You can copy, paste, delete and overwrite files, just as if it were a flashdrive. Dropbox does give you the option to share a public link with friends/family if you wish to share a collection of photos or if you are working on a project with multiple authors, but unless you choose for it to be public, all items are private.

This allows you to work on files locally, then upload your finished version through dropbox and access it from elsewhere later on--while still having your local copy at home on your hard drive.

On your Ipad, dropbox is a nifty little app that only requires you to sign in--wait for it--once! The moment you do, all files synced to your dropbox folder from your PC or Mac, are now available to you. It is arranged in alphabetical order and you can tell at a glance, from the icons on the left side of the list, what kind of file you are looking at (document, picture, etc).

I'll be referring to things using the following screen capture as a reference point--take a quick look so you know what everything looks like.

Screen Capture from Ipad running the Dropbox App
Scrolling down to Z will show the end of the list and what you have present, such as how many files and folders you have synced. Beneath each file, you can see when it was last modified and previews appear to the right. On the top blue bar, to the right, is the Open In, function, which allows you to open the file in another app for editing. There is the Star, which allows you to 'favorite' a document or photo so you can find it quickly. The standard "email/send-to" icon, which allows you to email the document, tweet it, include in a facebook message and so on.

The check mark on the left allows you to view your files and delete them from within the app--or move them to another folder for better organization. You can also upload photos directly from your Ipad by tapping on the "+" sign and giving dropbox permission to access your photos. By allowing dropbox to upload your photos, you can view them easily at any time, by tapping on the photo icon on the bottom, black taskbar on the left.

The star icon, of course, allows you to see favorited items and the little gear icon, takes you to the settings options. Here, you can unlink your dropbox, delete it, sign in to another account and also view how much space you are currently using and how much space you have left. Quite a handy thing to know.

To find dropbox, simply visit itunes and type dropbox into the search function and tap on the install button. If you are reading this on your Ipad, tapping this link should take you straight there.

You can find plenty of additional information on dropbox.com and find simple instructions for the installation process. I have been using dropbox for years--even before my Ipad--and it has been an invaluable tool. I have never had any trouble at all with it.

Dropbox also rewards you for inviting friends by gifting both you and your friend an additional 250MB of space--free! This is quite handy as it allows you both to grow your available storage and share the dropbox versatility.

I believe that covers the basics for Dropbox. Check it out and let me know what you think! If you have any questions, ask away in the comments below and I'll answer what I can.

Happy Writing!

Sara H. 

Must (Flash Fiction)

Found on Google Images. I own nothing.

FLASH FICTION PROMPT

“Listen to me, Muriel. You must do this for me. You must!” He thrust the worn leather Bible into her hands, closing her slender fingers around the spine. "Do not let it go." 

“But Father, I don’t understand-!”

“I haven’t the time to explain. Sometimes there are things that must be done without question and without ever knowing why.”

“But Father-!”

“Shh. Just know that I love you, my child. I love you dearly and I would do anything in this world to be sure that you never have to live the kind of life I am burdened with now.”

“Father-!”

“Take this. Go directly to St. Bartholomew and ask to see Ashbury.”

“Ashbury? Ashbury, who? What do you-”

“You need only say that word and they will help you. They must. Just as I must let you go now.” He kissed her forehead, tenderly. One weathered hand cupped her soft cheek and then his smile wavered. “Go quickly, child. Godspeed.”

(c) Sara Harricharan

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Barrel (Flash Fiction)

FLASH FICTION PROMPT


“It’s a barrel,” Tuney eyed the wooden object with ill-disguised curiosity.

“I can see that, dummy.” Rosetta rolled her eyes. She tucked a curl of dyed hair behind one bejeweled ear. “What are we supposed to do with it? How is that to supposed to help save us from the Raiders?” Even as she spoke, the teen cast a weary glance over one shoulder.

"I'm not sure." Tuney tapped it with her fingers, scraping lightly on the seasoned wood with blunt fingernails. "Uncle Mills said he'd send help, but..."

"You expect me to believe that wretched-"

"Hey!"

"It's useless. We're going to die."

Now Tuney rolled her eyes. “We're not going to die. I'm not, at any rate. Don't know about you, unless you've decided that living is boring. Now, we have a barrel and we have a problem. Maybe it's the solution. Maybe we hide in it?”

“Are you insane? Why would anyone hide in a barrel!”

“Precisely.” The other girl said, grimly. “Shall we go, my princess?”

“…oh shut up. If I get sick from bobbing down the river in this-”

“–you will kindly hold your ‘sick’ until we are on land.” Tuney said, sweetly. “Right?”

“I hate you.”

“The feeling is entirely mutual, princess."


Sara Harricharan ^_^

The Ipad Writer : Intro

Ipad + Writer = Exponential Creativity!

Ipad under the Christmas tree?

Awesome.

Not sure how to start writing on it?

Not so awesome.

If your newest writing gadget was an Ipad, you're in good shape for meeting your writing goals this year. With the portability, intuitive interface and wealth of apps now at your fingertips--there's plenty you can do with your new tech--and very little that you can't.

I could wax poetic on the lovely features, the design and all sorts of other techy gibberish, but I'm sure you'd rather dive right into the thick of things. Lovely. So let's get on with it, shall we?

This blog series is designed to highlight some of the wonderful features in an Ipad, (also known as an Apple Tablet Device). There will be app reviews, tips and tricks for the modern writer. Feel free to ask questions or share your own tips and tricks, as I walk you through the easiest ways to start and keep writing on your Ipad. If you know nothing about Apple products or you know "enough" there should be something interesting no matter where you are on the learning scale.

Ready?

It's going to be marvelous!

App reviews will be posted once a week. It will cover the basic points of the app, functionality, usability and cost. Some apps are also Iphone compatible as well--so if you don't have your Ipad yet, just follow the tips that work for you.

~Sara