Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Apps to help with productivity

I have been writing a lot recently, for both business and pleasure. It can be hard to keep track of everything as my day job requires a completely different type of journalism and scribing skills than my more shallow and considerably more fun websites. I am also writing a book, which is a completely different mindset.

Consequently, when I sit down to start every morning, I frequently draw a blank and just feel an urge to look at Facebook. That is where apps come in. Before smartphones and the internet (I am old), I used to have notebooks and post-its everywhere reminding me to do things. Now I have apps. For example, Wunderlist just reminded me to post on this blog. (It has been reminding me for a while, apologies.)

In case you are a similar procrastinator, here are some apps that help me to focus and get more done.

This is probably my main 'To Do' list. It is what I look at first and notifications pop up throughout the day reminding me of things I have to do. Not just writing, but everything. It's an awesome app that pretty much runs my daily life. Wunderlist works and syncs across my MacAir, iPad, and Samsung phone.

This is where I keep all my notes, ideas, links to everything and everyone I write for. Like Wunderlist, it syncs across all devices and is superb for jotting down anything.

Because I am an idle bastard, I need more general prodding. Habitbull is where I set vague targets for the day - write 1000 words of fiction, write a website article, do some press ups, practice another language (I am learning Thai), and so on. It lets me know how well I am doing as a kind of overview.

Focus Keeper
This is great for bursts of work. It uses the Pomodoro technique where you turn off everything and just focus on one particular task for 25 minutes. For someone who is easily distracted, this is pretty essential.

White noise
There are quite a few apps that just block out noise and replace it with something less distracting and constant. My personal favourite is a blend of heavy rain and light traffic. Not sure what that says about me. I spend a lot of time in coffee shops and white noise combined with the Pomodoro technique help me be very productive.

I use a couple of other apps occasionally but these are my main ones. If you are an easily distracted person such as myself, I hope this helps. Now I am just going to- Look a squirrel!

Friday, 19 August 2016

The trouble with selling short stories, even with Duotrope.

I recently wrote a short story that was 7000 words long and was military science fiction. I don't normally write that particular sub-genre but the idea I had made it necessary to be all about shooting aliens with guns. But then, once it was finished,  I found I was a bit stuck with what to do with it.

I am a big fan of Duotrope. (https://duotrope.com) You have to pay but it has a lot of listings that are well organised and easy to filter, they are regularly updated, and they have a really good section for tracking your submissions. You also get options to see minor stats you wouldn't otherwise discover. Such what percentage of submissions to a particular magazine get rejected and even if that rejection was a personalised letter or a generic form. Not hugely important I guess, but if you are going to be rejected it is nice to know it was in the 10% that got a personal email saying "No thanks, that was crap" as opposed to all the other losers who had a template.

Even with all the options available, I keep finding myself falling through the cracks of having somewhere to submit something. Most magazines want less than 5000 words, or they don't pay, or only the big magazines will publish that length and genre but you aren't a known name. Even if you find one that ticks all the right boxes, you might not hear back for months which effectively puts that story in a limbo as multiple submissions are usually a no-no. You can always send things out for free, but I write professionally (non-fiction), and would never sell my stuff cheap, so it is painful to do so when I switch to fiction.

I have mostly been relying on Amazon Kindle which has actually been pretty good and has made me more money than most paying magazines would have done. It is also good practice for when I finally finish a novel and are wondering what the hell to do with it.

One thing I am going to try however, is writing for anthologies. Again, this is helped by Duotrope (I promise I am not being paid for this but I should), as they have a list of upcoming anthologies which are normally based around a theme. Such as - apocalypse brought on by environmental disaster or horny ghosts or comedy stories set at sea, or whatever. This provides a writing prompt, payment and visibility. I will see how it goes and will update here. It will be a while though, these things take months just to read the stories, let alone publish. We shall see.

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

New story imminent!

I have been strangely productive recently. I think it is a combination of being a bit healthier, more focused, fish oil and gingko tablets, or magic. Possibly biorhythms, if I believed in that. Maybe it is to do with Jupiter's alignment with Pluto or something.

I am currently writing a fantasy novel and am growing concerned at the length already. I am at 25,000 words and we haven't even met the main protagonist yet. Why do fantasy novels always become so epic? Most strange.

In other reasonably exciting news, I have written a science fiction short story called 'The Next Giant Leap'. I am working on the cover and will publish soon.

In the meantime, if you stumbled on this page by accident, (hello!) you can check out some of my short stories. If you are bored. They are science fiction and travel stories and are on amazon. Links and descriptions can be found here: http://thewordofward.co.uk/my-books/

Thursday, 9 June 2016

Writing more productively

I feel that I have been falling behind a bit on the whole writing fiction thing. Which is bad as it is what I have wanted to do for a living since I was 10. Part of the problem is that I write full time for my job, so when it comes to having some relaxing 'down time' I can't be bothered to write more. But I have downloaded some apps to prompt me to write more. Nearly all problems can be solved with apps and targets. Plus coffee and beer.

Consequently, I have another story written called 'The Next Giant Leap'. It is going through the editing process as I write this. So keep your eyes peeled if you like a bit of military scifi action. If you don't, feel free to try something else. Pretty please.

Monday, 28 March 2016

Cooperworld is out!

Ok, I will admit I have been a bit negligent when it comes to updating this webpage. In my defence, I have been writing. For example, I wrote Cooperworld. Check it out: Cooperworld Screen Shot 2015-12-15 at 3.25.49 PMThis is a 17,000 word short story. Which is quite a long short story, I'll grant you. Here is the blurb: In the near future, AI research is strictly controlled by paranoid governments. When a renowned Artificial Intelligence expert illegally decides to create digital life in an simulated universe, he doesn't at first realise the implications of what he has done. Implications not just for him, but for everyone. In this short story, journalist and writer Jason R. Ward has a light-hearted but fairly philosophical look at what constitutes consciousness and has a good hard look at how we perceive reality.

 For US customers: For UK customers:

Saturday, 5 April 2014

Australia, Morocco, and Thailand. Three True Travel Stories.

  Travel book cover final
The book is called 'Australia, Morocco, and Thailand. Three True Travel Stories'. Not the catchiest of titles, I'll admit, but I want people to know what they're getting. Three true travel stories where yours truly was in peril. In three different places.

Here's the blurb:

 Jason Ward tells three true stories of fairly perilous travel.

While backpacking in Australia in his early twenties, he decides to give fruit picking a go. Even without the spiders, snakes, and a plague of locusts, things turn out pretty badly.

A trip into Morocco's Atlas Mountains with his girlfriend turns out less than romantic when flash floods threaten to wipe out the town. The only escape option is a van full of Berber tribesmen and a waterlogged road on the edge of a cliff.

After moving to the peaceful paradise of Thailand, Ward goes to a local pub near his Bangkok flat. That evening there is a military coup. In Bangkok. So why can't he see anything?

These stories are filled with humour and dollops of fear. Recommended for those who enjoy travel stories or just like reading about someone being mildly terrified in foreign countries. If you like travel stories please give them a go. Also, if you like them, please leave a review, they really help and I need to eat. If you don't like them, then move along, nothing to see here.
For UK customers:
For our American cousins:

Australia, Morocco, and Thailand. Three True Travel Stories is also available anywhere there is an Amazon. The book costs a pittance. Which is a bargain in any currency.

Saturday, 24 March 2012

My travel stories are almost ready.

Well, Thailand and Laos were awesome. If you want to see some pictures, check out http://thewordofward.co.uk/?p=1849. It is just part 1 of a tale of our trip down the Mekong to Luang Prabang.

I spent more time travelling than writing, sadly. Having said that, I have found time to edit a trio of travel stories. They are almost ready to go. All I need now is a title and a cover.

I am also going to publish some articles I wrote for magazines in Thailand. They might be of interest to someone somewhere.

So it is all full steam ahead. Except for today. As I have a hangover.