Friday, December 10, 2010

New logo vs old

I wanted to take a few moments to discuss the new logo. Several people have mentioned that they preferred the old one, so I wanted to explain the thinking behind the new logo.

First, let's just take a look at them side-by-side:

As you can see, there are some things that haven't changed. OK, one thing - the background. The same soothing blue gradient tones. Ahhh. Feel the tension drain from your shoulders as you take in the tranquil blue background.

For the person-shaped thing, I wanted to go from the amorphous blob to something a little more defined, and refined. Especially when blown up to larger size, the brown snowman-looking dude wasn't cutting it. Once a family member asked me if I thought it looked like a toilet with the seat up, I knew I needed a change. The new guy looks much better, and certainly won't be mistaken for a toilet. You can clearly see where he's come from, but he's evolved. Look ma! I've got arms and legs!

Keeping with the evolution theme, I decided that the big fat pencil had to go. It has now been replaced with a sleek-looking pen.

Finally, I decided to tie the logo into the new name, by having the guy cast a round shadow. A spot, if you will.

I quite like our new mascot and logo. I think our mascot is also quite pleased with the result. After all, he's smiling.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Free ad-supported version of My Writing Spot now available for Android

The hits just keep on coming this week as we celebrate our new name. Today, I'm pleased to announce the availability of a free version of My Writing Spot for Android devices. The app is now available in the Android Market, so go check it out.

Now, there's no such thing as a free lunch, so there is a catch. This version of the app is ad-supported, which means that you will see the occasional advertisement while using the app. If you'd like a completely distraction-free writing environment, the original paid version of the app is still available, and will never contain a single ad.

But hey, different strokes for different folks. Now you Android folks have a choice.

Tomorrow: the great logo showdown!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

My Writing Spot for iPad gets better with new features

Hi everybody! Welcome back to rename week! In this installment, we'll talk about the new features in the My Writing Spot for iPad application. We looked at the rename as an opportunity to add some of the most-requested features to the app, and included as many as we could given time/resource constraints.

My Writing Spot for iPad continues to be the best app for writing a novel on your iPad. Just look at all these shiny new features:

* Fullscreen landscape mode
* Enhanced on-screen keyboard
* Support for 4.2 multitasking and AirPrint
* Word & Character count

When considering new features, it's always a balancing act. I'd like to be able to satisfy everyone and make the app all things to all people, but the reality is that such an app would be a bloated, jumbled mess of "features" that would confuse and frustrate most people (i.e.: Word). Whenever I get a request for a new feature, I weigh the feature carefully against the set goals of the application - ease of use, speed, distraction-free - and throw out any feature that doesn't further those goals. It's tough, but I think that My Writing Spot is all the better for it.

All of the new features in this release meet the goals of the app. Fullscreen landscape writing mode is something that should have been in the app from the beginning, and I apologize for that oversight on my part. The enhanced on-screen keyboard brings some of the most-used keys to the topmost keyboard, making it even more efficient for writers to boost their word counts. AirPrint support allows writers to easily print their docs directly to a local printer in just a few taps. And adding a character counter to the existing word counter is something that is apparently very useful to reporters and others writing to very specific space requirements. I didn't realize that, but I'm happy to be able to accommodate those users.

I hope that everyone enjoys these latest features in My Writing Spot for iPad. Feel free to drop me a quick email and let me know what you think. Your feedback is always welcome.

Monday, December 6, 2010

My Writing Nook is now My Writing Spot

Contact: Peter de Tagyos

Independent developer changes app's name following bookseller's sabre-rattling.

Independent software developer PT Software Solutions is announcing a name change for their popular writing app My Writing Nook. Henceforth, the app will be named My Writing Spot. This renaming is in response to pressure from an ignoble bookseller pushing a device whose name is a common English word. The updated web app goes live today at, and free updated releases of the mobile apps are available for iPhone/iPod/iPad and Android today in their respective app stores.

"We've chosen to look at this as an opportunity," said developer Peter de Tagyos. "With all the features that we've added to the app in the latest release and over the past year, we've outgrown our little nook. Our current apps really do hit the sweet spot for writers, providing a fast, distraction-free writing environment that is easy to use anywhere. We'll leave the nooks to the little guys."

My Writing Spot also has a shiny new logo (as seen above) to go along with the new name.

For more details about the My Writing Spot name change and a bit of snark, visit

My Writing Spot (formerly known as My Writing Nook) is a popular web and mobile app dedicated to helping writers "write simply anywhere." The free web app can be found at, and there are mobile versions available for iOS and Android devices.

If you'd like more information about this, or to schedule an interview with Peter de Tagyos, please email Peter at

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Big changes coming to My Writing Nook Dec 6

The madness that is NaNoWriMo has drawn to a close, and I'd like to offer my congratulations to all those that participated. If you managed to hit the 50K word count goal, then extra kudos to you.

Unfortunately, I was not a winner this year. I chugged away happily for about a week, netting about 10K words. Then I had to turn my attention elsewhere. If writing code counted towards the 50K word goal, I might have had a shot at winning. For me, November was mostly about building many new enhancements into the various versions of My Writing Nook.

The fruits of my efforts will see the light of day this coming Monday, December 6. In addition to several new features, there's also one other very significant change that will be announced. So stay tuned, gentle reader.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

NaNoWriMo madness is nearly upon us!

In less than 36 hours, the madness that is NaNoWriMo will be in full swing.

Are you ready? I'm not. I wish I had about another week or so to finish plotting and researching. This year, I've decided to tackle a Historical Fiction novel, so I've had to do more research than in past years. It should be a fun change of pace though.

I'm bummed that the 1st is a Monday, because that means that I will not be able to attend the local kickoff party at midnight. I've got one of those oppressive day jobs that prevents me from writing into the wee hours of the night. It really gets in the way of my noveling, let me tell ya.

I'll also be working on some major updates to My Writing Nook during November, with plans to release them in December. There will be much joy for iPad users, and iPhone users will get some love as well. There might even be something in it for Mac users, hmmm? More information to come in the next few weeks.

So basically, November is going to be total madness. How will I fit it all in? Well, I think I've got that figured out. I'll just forego sleep. That'll work, right?

Friday, October 22, 2010

How JK Rowling plotted her novels

For those of you busy planning, plotting, and preparing for NaNoWriMo, I thought I'd share this interesting glimpse at how JK Rowling did her plotting for the 5th Harry Potter book.

After getting 50K words into my last NaNovel and then having absolutely no idea how to end the thing, I can really appreciate the attention to detail that she put into her outline. Ya gotta love her "retro" spreadsheet - cutting and pasting must have been a pain, though.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Updated Android app in the Market today

I just published the 1.3.0 release of My Writing Nook for Android devices to the Android Market. This release greatly improves landscape writing mode for devices with on-screen keyboards, and updates the color scheme to match the iOS apps.

I have also added auto-correction to the editor, which should provide a boost to your productivity.

I'm planning several more enhancements in the coming weeks, but I wanted to get these useful improvements to you as soon as possible.


Saturday, October 2, 2010

A totally rad endorsement from an 80s icon!

I want my AppTV

OK, this is a trip, so I have to share. As someone that grew up in the 80s and can remember the early days of MTV, I was surprised to receive an email today from non other than former vee-jay Adam Curry.

Apparently, Adam has moved from the small screen to the very small screen, and hosts a daily review program for iPhone/iPod touch apps. It's called Adam Curry's Big App Show, and Adam was writing to tell me that today he reviewed My Writing Nook. Whoa. Wha'choo talkin' bout, Willis?

I grabbed the Big App Show app from the App Store (it's free) and, well, there was Adam superimposed on my app.

Adam could have done his homework before reviewing the app, because he gets a few things wrong (the app does NOT sync with Google Docs - it syncs with the web app at and he can't figure out how to rearrange documents in the doc list (by using document groups), but overall he gives it a pretty good review.

I can't complain too much. I mean, my app just got reviewed by an MTV vee-jay. That's just totally rad, y'know? I feel like such a rock star. I think I'll go destroy a hotel room or something. Hasta la vista, baby.

Friday, October 1, 2010

My Writing Nook Anniversary - plus an iPad update

Today is the one year anniversary of the My Writing Nook iPhone app. The past year has been very satisfying - it's great to see that so many of you are enjoying the app. Thanks for your support and encouragement throughout the last year - you've helped to make My Writing Nook the best novel writing app on the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch.

I'd also like to announce that the 1.0.7 release of My Writing Nook for iPad is now available in the App Store. This release includes the same delete synchronization and document conflict resolution features that I described in my previous post about the latest release for the iPhone/iPod touch. Enjoy the silky smoothness of the latest release.

Happy writing!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

iPhone app update - less conflict, no zombies, more stealth

I'm pleased to announce that version 1.8.3 of the iPhone/iPod app hit the App Store this evening. It's chock-full of enhancement goodness, just in time for NaNoWriMo. My Writing Nook continues to be the best novel writing app for the iPhone/iPod touch.

Dark & Stormy night mode just might turn you into a plot ninja
Turn on dark & stormy night mode for the ultimate in stealth writing. This feature has been brought over from the iPad version of the app, and switches the interface to display white text on a black background. The ultimate in distraction-free writing, or just spooky? You be the judge.

There were a few rougher edges that existed in the previous versions of the app, and with the 1.8.3 release, those edges have been polished and made smooth.

Kills zombie documents dead!
The first enhancement is delete synchronization. If you wanted to delete a document in previous versions of the app, you would need to delete it on both the device and the web app. This was awkward, and led to many questions about documents "coming back from the dead."

With delete synchronization, you need only delete a document in one place. There are no more zombies in My Writing Nook. If you want zombies in your app, you'll have to look elsewhere.

Conflict resolved
When you make changes to a document in the app and on the web without synching, you create a document conflict. This means that since both versions of a document are changed, the app doesn't know which one to keep.

Previous versions of the app would simply do nothing, since I believed that this was better than possibly choosing the wrong version to keep. But while this protected your data, it was admittedly a bit clumsy.

With the 1.8.3 release, My Writing Nook will now detect a document conflict and will inform you of the fact by adding an alert icon to the appropriate row in the document list. Tapping on this alert icon will bring you to the conflict resolution screen, which will allow you to view both versions of the conflicted document and decide which one to keep. You no longer need to go to the web app to resolve doc conflicts - you can do everything from your iPhone/iPod touch.

While this update is all about smoothing out the rougher edges, it's also about sharpening. I've gone through and updated all the graphics for the retina display on the iPhone 4 and latest-generation iPod touches. Now the icons and graphics are really sharp. Handle with care, lest you hurt yourself. You've been warned.

With this update, My Writing Nook becomes even easier to use. They said that it couldn't be done, but when have we ever listened to them?

iPad users - don't fret! A similar update for the iPad version of the app should be hitting the App Store in the next few days.

Enjoy the update, and if you have a moment or two to spare, please leave a review in the App Store.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Summer Update

First off, sorry for the lapse in time since my last posting. Such opening sentences are often death knells for blogs, but I want to assure you that isn't the case here. I haven't been resting on my laurels. I've been busy planning and implementing new features for My Writing Nook, and unfortunately this blog has suffered as a result. I plan to get back to a more regular updating schedule once I get this current batch of enhancements out the door. There have been lots of exciting developments in the publishing landscape, and I am looking forward to discussing them in future posts.

So what have I been so busy at work on lately? Well, I've been listening to your helpful feedback and comments, and have been working on improving the rougher edges of the apps, while at the same time building in some of the most-requested features. The future is bright for My Writing Nook, and it will continue to be the best app for writing on the web or on the go with your iPhone, iPad, or Android device.

For both the iPhone and the iPad apps, there are vast improvements in the detection and resolution of document conflicts. You'll soon be able to resolve such conflicts right from within the app. I'm also adding delete synchronization, so previously deleted documents won't keep coming back from the dead. No more zombie docs!

For the iPad app, I'm working on full-screen landscape mode, which should be cause for much rejoicing, since it is one of the top requested features. It's a fairly large change, due to how the frameworks work, but is well worth it.

The Android app will be brought up to similar levels of functionality as its iOS brethren. As a solo developer, it can be tough to keep several apps aligned with respect to feature sets, and the Android app will be getting some necessary TLC.

Don't worry - I haven't forgotten about the web app. You'll soon be able to download all your documents in one fell swoop, instead of one at a time. Easy backups!

I'm also rethinking the organizational features of the app - trying to maintain the ease of use while enhancing the flexibility and functionality. It's a tricky balancing act, and I want to make sure that I get it right.

My current plan is to have new releases out in plenty of time for NaNoWriMo preparation. I'm excited about the coming enhancements, and I hope you will be too.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

New version of My Writing Nook for iPad now available

I'm happy to announce that a new update of My Writing Nook for iPad is now available in the App Store. I'm really excited about this update, since I've added some helpful and fun new features. My Writing Nook continues to be the best app for writing on the iPad.

Always-visible word count - previously the word count was not visible when the on-screen keyboard was showing. Now you can see how prolific you are at any time.

TextExpander touch integration - boost your productivity with TextExpander touch snippets. You'll need to have the TextExpander touch app to take advantage of this feature, but it's well worth your while if your writing lends itself to using repeatable blocks (for example - this would be great for screenplays).

Finally a bit of fun. I've added something called Dark and Stormy Night mode. This changes the color scheme for the app to be black with white text. Get your stealth on and become a plot ninja!

I hope that you enjoy the new features. As always, this is a free upgrade for those that already own My Writing Nook for iPad.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Attention Indie Authors - Apple wants your books

Apple is now allowing Indie Authors to submit their books (in EPUB format) to the iBooks store. They're offering the same deal to authors as they do to app developers - Apple takes a 30% cut and the author gets the rest. That's a pretty sweet deal.

There are some criteria that need to be met before a book will be accepted (needs to be valid EPUB, you need to have an ISBN, etc), but I think that this is great news for Indie Authors.

Here's a link to start the application process:

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Why I created My Writing Nook

A friend just sent me this picture, which she took outside Grand Central Terminal in New York City. I think it is a perfect example of exactly why I created My Writing Nook.

The unfortunate author's phone number has been photoshopped out. I hope that he or she got their manuscript back.

Don't let this happen to you! Write your novel with My Writing Nook!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

New Release - My Writing Nook iPhone App - Features Galore!

I'm happy to announce that the 1.7.0 release of My Writing Nook for the iPhone is available in the App Store. For those of you who have already purchased the app, it's a free upgrade, and it is jam-packed with new features! My Writing Nook continues to be the best app for writing a novel on an iPhone.

So what's new? Oh, let me count the ways...

1. Password Protection.
There's now an optional password protection feature that can be enabled on the Settings page. Protect your work until you're ready to share it with the world.

2. Change Font/Font size.
You can now select your preferred font and font size for writing on the Settings page.

3. Single tap to change Document Groups.
On the My Documents page, the document group buttons are larger for easier tapping. Also, you no longer need to be in Edit mode to change a document's group. Just tap on the document group button for the desired document and the selection page will appear.

4. Larger dictionary and thesaurus buttons on the Word Lookup page for easier tapping.

5. Link to the MWN help page on the Settings page. If you have run into a problem or have a question, tap this link to jump right to the MWN help.

There's also a link that will allow you to rate the app in the App Store. If you enjoy the app and can spare a few moments, please tap this link and write up a quick review. It's much appreciated!

I hope everyone enjoys these new features.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Writing on the iPad with My Writing Nook

For the past few years, I've been on a quest. A quest to find the perfect set of writing tools. I've been down many paths during this quest, had several close calls, had my hopes raised up only to have them come crashing down to Earth. At times I've thought that perhaps finding the Holy Grail would be easier.

OK, I'm being a bit melodramatic here, but my point is, I've been looking for the perfect set of writing tools for a long time now. I'm happy to say that I have finally discovered them.

I think that the iPad is the ideal writing device. Especially when paired with an app like My Writing Nook for iPad. I'm not just tooting my own horn here - I am honestly excited about how well the app and the iPad fit into my writing life. I feel like I've finally discovered the perfect set of tools for writing a novel or working on a writing project.

Here's my current novel writing set up:
- an iPad with WiFi and 16GB of memory.
- Apple bluetooth keyboard.
- Apple iPad case.

Right now, I'm writing this post on my iPad. I've got My Writing Nook open, and I'm happily typing away on my bluetooth keyboard. For short notes, the on-screen keyboard is fine, but for serious writing sessions the bluetooth keyboard is invaluable. I've got Apple's iPad case, which allows you to prop up the pad at a slight angle, or stand it up like a picture frame.

So why does the iPad succeed where so many other devices have failed?

It's portable. I can put it in my small messenger bag with plenty of room to spare. The bluetooth keyboard is equally slim and portable.

It's fast. The iPad is instantly on with the press of a button. There's no waiting around for the computer to wake or boot up. The interface is responsive and snappy.

The battery life rocks. This was one of my biggest problems with netbooks. While some of the newer netbooks have much better batteries, the average netbook battery only lasts 3 hours or so. The iPad battery will last the entire day.

It's quiet. There's no fan noise, and the device never gets warm. No lap burns here.

The bluetooth keyboard is awesome. It's full-size, and yet still very light and portable. I have yet to find a netbook keyboard that I liked. I love my Apple bluetooth keyboard.

The software is great. Obviously I'm a little biased, but My Writing Nook for iPad has exceeded even my expectations. Every time I launch the app it makes me smile. The iPad is the device that this software was meant for.

In summary, I'm totally thrilled with my new novel writing toolset - the iPad, a bluetooth keyboard, and My Writing Nook for iPad. It's a writer's (well, at least it's *this* writer's) dream come true. And with that said, I'm going back to writing my novel.

Monday, April 5, 2010

New Feature for iPad - password-protect your writing!

I'd like to announce an update to the My Writing Nook for iPad app. You now have the ability to password-protect the app. With the tight deadlines in the days before the launch I didn't have time to include this feature, and I'm happy that I've since had the time to build it in. Kudos also go to Apple for a lightning-fast approval process.

This feature is optional - you don't have to enable it. However, if you want that extra layer of protection for your writing, My Writing Nook has you covered.

For you iPhone writers out there - the next task on my plate is to add a password-protection feature to the iPhone version of My Writing Nook. Look for that in the next week or two.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

My Writing Nook for iPad

I'm very excited to announce that My Writing Nook for iPad is now available for sale in the iTunes App Store. I've said before that I feel that the iPad will be the perfect device for writing your novel on, and I also believe that My Writing Nook for iPad is the perfect app for writing simply anywhere on your iPad.

Now that the iPad's arrival is imminent, and Apple has removed the veil of secrecy, I can present you with some screenshots from the app. Or you can check out My Writing Nook for iPad in the iTunes App Store.

As you can see, My Writing Nook for iPad is a complete rewrite of the iPhone app - taking advantage of the iPad's form-factor and greater processing power. It's lightning-fast, and even easier to use than before. All the common actions are just a tap away, allowing you to maintain your flow while writing. No distractions here.

You can now customize the writing font and font-size, and you'll love the built-in spell-checker.

As always, synching with the My Writing Nook web app is a breeze - just tap the synch button and you'll always have the latest version of your novel.

Coming Soon

Due to the tight deadlines around the iPad release, we weren't able to squeeze in all the features that we wanted, but there will be a new release coming very soon (in the next week or so). This release will contain one of the most-requested features - a way to password-protect the app. So be sure to look for that in the next few days.

Until then, enjoy My Writing Nook for iPad.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

T-minus 11 days until the iPad

I apologize for the recent radio silence. I've been very busy lately working on My Writing Nook for iPad. I can't share any details yet, other than that I think that the iPad is the perfect device for an app like My Writing Nook.

I have completely reworked the design and workflow for MWN to take advantage of what the iPad offers. At the same time, I've kept the writing environment distraction-free and easy to use. My Writing Nook for iPad is excellent for writing drafts of your novel, jotting down quick notes or ideas, and keeping everything in synch across your various computers and mobile devices.

All the existing features from the iPhone app will be included, and I've also managed to add a few new features that will only be available on the iPad.

April 3rd is almost here! I can't wait.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Publishing on a shoestring budget

For the longest time, there were only two paths to publication.

The first was the so-called "traditional" route, in which an author spent months or years searching for an agent, who then spent months or years shopping the book around to various publishers, in the hope that one of them would purchase it and publish it after several more months or years.

For those that did not want to wait that long, there was the self-publishing option. However, this option was an expensive one, and the upfront expense was entirely the author's responsibility. Most authors could not afford such an endeavor, and so they put their dreams of publication on hold.

Thankfully, the past few years have brought around a revolution in the publishing industry. The Internet, eBooks, and the rise of print-on-demand publishers have helped to remove the financial barrier to self-publication.

Lack of money is no longer a barrier to publication. To be published nowadays, one merely needs to invest the time.

Here are some tips for publishing on a shoestring budget. These tips assume that you have already done the hardest part of the entire process - you've finished writing your book (perhaps using something like My Writing Nook?) and are ready to share it with the world.

Layout, Formatting & Cover Design

The layout and formatting of your book depends on how you plan to publish it. If you are planning to use a print-on-demand company, you'll need to layout your manuscript in a format suitable for publishing. Thankfully, these companies make the process as easy as possible. For example, Lulu provides a template for designing your cover as well as a Word document template with the margins and spacing already configured. CreateSpace offers their layout guidelines here.

If you don't have Word or another word processing program that allows you to format your document, I'd suggest checking out Google Docs. You can upload your manuscript, format it appropriately, and even export it as a PDF document file.

The saying goes "Don't judge a book by its cover," but the fact of the matter is that most people do. An amateurish cover design may cause people to dismiss your book outright.

If you have an artistic flair, you can design your own cover using a free image editing program such as Paint.NET. If you prefer an online option, check out

If art isn't your thing, you can visit sites like 99 designs or crowdSPRING to crowdsource the design of your cover. These sites won't get you a cover design for free, but they allow you to control the entire process, and really provide a great bang for your buck.


Publishing a book requires very little upfront money. There are several different options for publishing your book.

You could choose to publish your book via a blog. Many authors have started to publish their novels online as webserials. If you choose to this route, there are several blog platforms to choose from. Blogger is the platform run by Google, is easy to use, and has the best integration with Google's other services, such as AdSense, Analytics, and AdWords. WordPress is another strong option. If you'd like to host your blog on your own site, WP is probably the best way to go.

If you'd like to publish real, physical books, then print-on-demand publishing is the way to go. PoD publishers will store your book in digital form until someone purchases it, at which point they will print a physical copy of the book and send it to the customer. The author can set the price of the book, thus determining how much in royalties they earn per sale. Royalty rates from PoD publishers are much higher than those from traditional publishing companies, with the author earning a greater portion of the proceeds (as it should be!). PoD books can have their own ISBN, and can be listed on sites such as Amazon or B&N.

There are two big players in the PoD space these days. Lulu had been around a bit longer and is very author-friendly, providing downloadable sample templates for cover and book layout. CreateSpace is newer, but is owned by Amazon, arguably the biggest book-related company in the world.

If you're looking to publish eBooks, both Lulu and CreateSpace offer this option. If you're looking to target the Kindle, you can publish your eBook via a catalog like Smashwords, or you could get in the Kindle store by working with Amazon directly.

Once you've gotten your book published, it's time to let your audience know about it. If you don't already have an audience, you need to grow one. That means marketing, which calls to my mind well-dressed, fast-talking, brash young salespeople. People-people. If you're the type of person that thinks "I could never be in sales," I'll help to disabuse you of that notion in my next post.

In my next post, I'll tackle marketing yourself and your book on a shoestring budget. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

My Writing Nook now available on Android!

I'm pleased to announce that My Writing Nook is now available for Android-powered phones and devices. If you're reading this on your phone, you can get it here (this link will only work from Android's browser). It runs on all devices that run Android 1.5 and higher.

You can read all about the new version and see some screenshots by visiting the My Writing Nook for Android page.

Happy writing, Android users!

Friday, February 12, 2010

What's next for My Writing Nook?

I've been quite busy here at the My Writing Nook labs. OK, there aren't actually any labs, but saying that sounds kinda cool, so please indulge me. With this week's 1.6 release of the MWN iPhone/iPod touch app, the roll out of the shiny new document groups feature is complete. I hope that everyone is enjoying that feature.

I've got a lot of things planned for MWN, so I thought I'd take a few moments and share some of them with you.

Very near term happenings
I'm excited to announce that very soon there will be a My Writing Nook application available to devices that run Android. That means that your shiny new Droid or Nexus One phone will be yet another place that you can Write Simply Anywhere.

I'm putting the final touches on the app now, so I'd expect to get it into the Android Marketplace within the next two weeks or so. It's been an interesting experience - doing Android development. Once the dust settles, I plan to write a post comparing iPhone development to Android development.

Near term happenings
Once the Android app is out the door, I will turn my focus to working on the iPad version of My Writing Nook. I think that MWN is an application that will be very well-suited to the iPad, and I plan to be in the App Store from day one.

But what about the iPhone/iPod app?
Don't worry, I won't be neglecting the iPhone app. For the 1.7 release, I'm planning to integrate support for TextExpander touch into the app, which will allow you to really boost your word count. There will also be a few other minor features.

And the web app?
The web app continues to be fast and stable. It's the foundation of the entire MWN empire. I've got some interesting things planned for the future, but don't want to share them just yet.

It will be an interesting next few months here at MWN. I hope you'll come along for the ride.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

iPhone App version 1.6 is out - Document Groups!

The 1.6 release of the My Writing Nook app for iPhone/iPod touch hit the App Store tonight. This release includes the much-requested document groups feature.

You'll also notice that I've updated the logo. It's now much crisper, since I reworked it and it's a much higher resolution now. Hmm.... now why would I possibly need a new, higher resolution logo...

As always, I recommend that you do a synch with the web app before you grab the update, just in case. Enjoy!

Friday, January 29, 2010

New Feature - Document Groups

I have just finished rolling out a new feature to the My Writing Nook web app - Document Groups!

Probably the feature most requested for MWN has been for some way to collect several documents together into a project. With document groups, that request has been fulfilled.

If you look at the document list, you'll notice that for each document, the word count checkbox is gone. In its place is a round button, colored to represent which document group that document is a member of. Initially, all these buttons are black (that's the default value). To change a document's group, simply click on the button. This will bring up an overlay that will allow you to choose which group to assign the document to.

Documents in the same group stick together in the document list. Documents in the same group contribute their word count to the word count total for the group. Finally, document groups are sorted in the order that they are shown in the overlay.

When designing this feature, I tried to strike a balance between functionality and ease of use. I think that I've achieved that goal, but I'd like to hear what you think of the document groups feature.

iPhone users - fear not! I have submitted an update to the MWN iPhone app and it is currently pending approval. I'm hoping that the update will appear in the app store within the next two weeks.

If anyone runs into problems or has any questions, feel free to drop me an email at

Happy Writing!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Implications of the iPad

Wow. Apple debuted the iPad today, and it looks beautiful. Here are my initial thoughts on the device, and its implications:

My Writing Nook - iPad edition
First of all, let me say: there will most definitely be an iPad-specific version of My Writing Nook. I've already read through the developer documents and will be exploring the SDK in the coming weeks.

Rather than simply port the iPhone/iPod app to the iPad, I am completely rethinking the interface to take advantage of the iPad's screen real estate and new interface paradigms. I am really excited about what the device offers - and I think the iPad version of MWN is going to knock your socks off.

The iPad also represents a tremendous opportunity for writers. There aren't too many details about the iBook store yet, but I have to believe that Apple will allow independent third-parties to submit their eBooks for sale. Apple has chosen the ePub format, which is a free and open format.

If they use a model similar to the App Store, with 70% of the take going to the author, then the iPad could really be a boon for self-published authors. This is likely the reason why Amazon announced their new royalty plans last week, and others will be forced to follow suit.

Web Fiction
The iPad will also provide a boost for web fiction. With it's form-factor and excellent browsing capabilities, it will make reading web fiction a breeze. No more clunky laptops or netbooks - you can sit in bed and read web fiction like you would a regular book.

I can't wait until this thing ships in March. What do you think? Is the iPad a game-changer?

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

2010 - Year of the eBook?

In yet another blow to the already staggering traditional publishing industry, Amazon announced today that they are going to start offering 70% royalties on eBooks. If this doesn't encourage more authors to self-publish their work as eBooks, I'm not sure what will.

Many people see this as Amazon trying to grab marketshare from the traditional publishers. For the most part, I agree. However, I believe that Amazon is announcing this now for another reason: as a pre-emptive strike against the eagerly-anticipated Apple tablet that is expected to be announced next Wednesday. Why else announce a change that won't take effect until June?

The 70/30 split is the exact same formula that Apple uses for apps sold through its iTunes store. The pundits are saying that the tablet will be a direct competitor to the Kindle, and that Apple is in talks with various publishers regarding the device.

Amazon now faces competition from B&N's Nook (sorry fellas - I had the name first!) and the Apple tablet - so it's trying to do everything it can to lure authors to its platform. This competition is great news for eBook authors.

With Amazon's hefty royalty offer, and Apple moving into the space, it should prove to be a very interesting (and profitable?) 2010 for authors that choose a less traditional route to publishing.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Profiles in Web Fiction: Nancy Brauer and Vanessa Brooks of Strange Little Band

Today's featured authors are Nancy Brauer and Vanessa Brooks of the webserial Strange Little Band. They've been publishing SLB since May of 2009, and the story is really hitting its stride as we enter 2010. Updates are published twice a week, with a bonus story every other week or so.

This is the fourth interview in the Profiles in Web Fiction series. The other interviews in the series can be found here.

The authors describe Strange Little Band as dark, paranormal romance. It follows the lives of Shane and Addison, co-workers whose lives are forever intertwined by their employer, the unscrupulous Triptych Corp. To make things more complicated, both Shane and Addison have paranormal abilities, which turns even their most trivial interactions into epic mind games. Toss in a healthy dose of hormones and you've got the recipe for an intriguing story.

Nancy was kind enough to answer my questions via email.

How and when did you start publishing online?

Strange Little Band debuted on May 1, 2009 at Vanessa and I have quite a bit of web design experience, so setting up a self-hosted WordPress site was easy. We'd written together previously, but this is the first time we've published a web serial for public consumption.

Why did you decide to publish your work as serial fiction on the web?

I was the one who pushed to publish SLB online. The more I read about the time and effort required to get literary agents' and publishers' attention, the less inclined I was to play the game. The fact that Vanessa and I had already written 140,000 words of the first draft helped, too. Most of the work has been editing, filling in gaps in the storyline, and lots and lots of promotion.

What are the benefits of publishing online? What are the drawbacks?

The number one benefit of publishing online is reader feedback. Interacting with the audience is fun. They tell you when you're doing something right, and when you're not being clear. Vanessa and I primarily communicate with readers through SLB site comments, Twitter, and the SLB forums.

The number one benefit of publishing online is reader feedback. Interacting with the audience is fun. They tell you when you're doing something right, and when you're not being clear.
The flexibility of online publishing is another huge plus. If you find a typo, you click "edit," make the change, hit "publish," and you're done. You're free to change your posting schedule. Want to change the look of the site? Go for it. You can experiment with integrating reader suggestions, creating character Twitter accounts, and more. The only thing holding you back is your time, desire, and web skills.

The big drawback is having to do everything yourself. Unless you've got a substantial budget or an army of fans willing to work for free, the author is responsible for all of the stuff a print publisher usually handles: developmental editing, copyediting, cover art, marketing, advertising, data backups, etc. All of this take a lot of time. The effort is considerable, especially if you have a day job.

Do you monetize your work? Why or why not? If so, how?

Vanessa and I are working on monetizing SLB to cover costs. Our primary goal is to find our audience for future works. Any profit we make is gravy. :)

Revenue comes from three sources: donations through the SLB site, bids from Project Wonderful advertisers, and sales from the SLB Zazzle store. It's a grand, ongoing experiment which is alternately fun and frustrating. We're learning as we go.

What do you think web serials will look like in five years?

That's a tough question. I think there will be a lot more, much like the explosion of web comics. Serials will probably split into two categories: "professionals" and just-for-fun types. By "professionals" I mean those whose authors rely on serials as a significant portion of their income. It's easy to put a donation button on a website. Convincing readers to donate or buy merchandise takes a lot more creativity and effort.

It's hard to say where web serials, video webseries, and other online entertainment will be in five years. So much is in flux right now. Print publishers are struggling, eBook readers are trying to go mainstream, and piracy is rampant. It remains to be seen if consumers will find enough value in digital media to spend money on it. In general people value tangible goods. For some, if you can't hold it in your hands it's okay to grab a copy. I don't mean to stir up a digital rights management (DRM) debate. It's just that writing and publishing anything online takes time. Unless the writer is extremely frugal or independently wealthy, he or she will likely need revenue to justify the time and effort of publishing.

Your web serial is different from others in that it's a collaborative effort. I'm interested in how exactly you and Vanessa collaborate. How do you divvy up the workload?

We wrote the first draft of SLB via email a few years ago. It was a giant email volley with Vanessa writing primarily from Addison's point of view and me from Shane's. We shared the other characters as necessary. The whole thing was made up on the fly! Editing is crucial to keep the voice consistent and not give the readers whiplash from POV changes.

Although we're in editing and revision mode, we still rely heavily on email. I do the editing for the main SLB story posts. Vanessa's writing the bonus stories. We both fill in gaps in the storyline. Who writes the new bits depends on the POV for the new section and my and Vanessa's schedules. Typically we email each other drafts in the body of an email message. We plot and plan by email, IM, and sometimes Twitter direct messages. We've only spoken once by phone!

What tips would you share with others interested in publishing serialized fiction on the web?

First and foremost, be patient. Unless you can throw a lot of money at an advertising blitz, it'll take time for readers to find you. Make it easy for them. Think about who might like your story. Connect with them, be it on Twitter, forums for similar web serials, or other ways. To get started, check out successful web authors like MeiLin Miranda, MCM, and Alexandra Erin. Novelr and WebLit are warehouses of good ideas, too.

It's also important to plan your story ahead and have a posting buffer. By the latter I mean have two or three posts ready to go at any given time. Unfortunately, I don't always follow my own advice on this front, so the day before posting can be stressful. At least I usually have the first draft done, so it's only last-minute editing.

Be sure to check out Strange Little Band's website.