Random Musings

Promoting Scottish Lit – New Bookspotting App

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It’s no secret that I am a huge fan of all kinds of Scottish Lit – from crime fiction to short stories and classics, I have spent years living here and reading a lot of Scottish lit in my free time.  So it’s no surprise that I am beyond excited for the new Bookspotting App from Publishing Scotland.  An app designed specifically to promote Scottish books and Scottish-interest books, Publishing Scotland makes it easy for avid readers to be introduced to great writers that they had maybe not discovered before.

One of my favorite aspects of the app is the geo-location feature.  By using the phone’s GPS or a post code, the app can tell you what Scottish books take place near you, giving a whole new meaning to reading local literature.  Because of the post code feature, the app can even be used by people outside of Scotland to help plan your own bookish tour of the country.

bookspotting geolocation app

When you pull up the app, it opens with a book of the day and a list of books published that day in previous years.

bookspotting top opening pagebookspotting open page

You can then navigate around to the tours section to find a great book-themed tour and operator around Scotland.

bookspotting tours

You can also take a fun quiz (in Scots!) and find out which character you are, search through the huge list of associated books by genre or alphabetically, and so much more.  If you really want to discover some great new books, use Bookspotting to get your to-read list growing.


Back From the Dead

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It has been 2 1/2 months since my most recent post – woops!  Good news in my personal life (a new full-time job with still additional freelance work on the side) and a recent holiday have left me little time to read, let alone to review.  However, now as I am finally adjusting to the regimented schedule and getting used to finding new ways to read (during my commute and more audiobooks), I am hoping to pick up where I left up without too much delay.

Thank you all for reading when I post, and for new readers who have continued to discover me in my absence.

Ian Rankin’s 10 Writing Tips

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On Monday, Most Wanted publishing is announcing Ian Rankin’s newest book title and revealing the cover.  With a new maybe-Rebus on the way, I wanted to celebrate tonight with Ian Rankin’s 10 Writing Tips.  I love the bluntness of his advice, and that he recognizes there’s a lot of luck involved with getting published (look at how many publishers rejected J.K. Rowling after all). What do you think of the Scottish Crime King’s tips?

Ian Rankin Writing Tips

Image Text:

  1. Read lots.
  2. Write lots.
  3. Learn to be self-critical.
  4. Learn what criticism to accept.
  5. Be persistent.
  6. Don’t give up.
  7. Have a story worth telling.
  8. Know the market.
  9. Get lucky.
  10. Stay lucky.

Source: Guardian

A Few Links for Friday

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There has been a lot of interesting things in book news this week, from a little girl publishing her own picture book to Chinua Achebe’s sad passing.  I’ve rounded up a few links that I thought you all might be interested in.

First off, Lauren is an 11 year-old fifth grader who used Kickstarter to get her first picture book published and illustrated.  How amazing is it that one, there’s an avenue that she and her parents could use to fund this, and two that at 11 she is so motivated to get her writing out there.  I was similar at her age, and wrote a couple of picture books in second grade that my teacher laminated, but I never thought to be so young and do something about my writing.  I love stories like this where young kids are pursuing their dreams, so excited to share their talents.  It’s also a great motivator to the rest of us who want to write that we should get our butts in gear and just do it.

Chinua AchebeSecond, I was sad to hear today that Chinua Achebe passed away.  I, like many others, was introduced to Things Fall Apart when I was in high school, and while I found it to be not the easiest read, I was transfixed by this world that we tend to neglect and know so little about. Achebe was 82 and his influence will continue to shape African English writing.

PersepolisAm I the only one who thinks the Persepolis “ban” in Chicago schools is a bit overblown?  After all, choosing not to teach a book in 7th grade doesn’t mean a book is banned, it just means the kids might be a bit young for some of the subject matter.  I haven’t had a chance to read Persepolis, but can’t teachers decide they might want to raise the age-level of those learning the book?  Maybe the method of the school district was a bit over much, removing the books from classrooms, but when it’s still available from the libraries, I don’t really call this a banning, just a reassessment.

It was announced this week that both current ABC hit “Once Upon a Time” and 90s darling “Clarissa Explains it All” are getting turned into books (Clarissa‘s will be a book sequel).  I know movies sometimes do novelisation tie-ins, but this is the first I’ve heard of a TV show.  I’m not sure I’m crazy about the idea in general, but I am sort of excited for both of these projects.  What do you think? Should more TV series get the novel treatment, or do you think it just feels odd to have the adaptation cycle a bit reversed?  (I think it’s a bit odd.)

Awesome Creative Writing Apps

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Writing AppsAs our virtual writing group closes up today (don’t forget to sign up or email me at breathingfiction at gmail.com or contact me through the Facebook page for questions), I was thinking of the different things I’m already using to help my writing along, and those things that I want to start using to help.  One thing that I have become increasingly dependent on is my Galaxy SIII.  Sure, I prefer taking notes in an actual notebook (I’m a bit OCD, too, where the notebook has to reflect the story or MC) and I write using Scrivener, but I often have my phone and not the other things I need.  To digitize and make things easier, I started using a few apps and I want to share my favorite writing apps with you.

Name GeneratorThe first one I’ve been using for years.  It’s called Name Generator and it does just what it says.  Select a country/language of name origin, choose male, female, or both, and select how many results you want.  It’s really simple, but I can’t tell you how many characters I’ve named with the help of this thing.  I often can’t think of what name works, but I have an idea of how I want it to sound.  Since it also gives you first and last names, you can mix and match to find the right combination.  I personally love it especially for side characters.  It’s fast and you can have endless results.



WriteOMeterI have been looking for a motivation tool to help me write.  While it’d be nice to have on my laptop, so many windows open, etc just distracts me.  I found WriteOMeter though and I love it.  If you put it on a timer, it’s mean to you and reminds you to keep writing.  It helps you set daily word count goals, project word count goals, and you can even put in a goal date for finishing.  I think this is going to especially come in handy when the virtual group gets in full swing.




WriterLast but not least is Writer.  It’s a fairly straightforward smartphone word processor, but it works really well.  You can have lists, numbered lists, and other formatted niceties that a normal phone memo pad misses out on.  This has already come in handy for me to jot notes down on the train/bus when I don’t have my notebook(s) on me.  If I get a mini-bluetooth keyboard, it’s going to be even more helpful.




Do you have a favorite app to help with your creative writing process?  What is it?


Writing Tips from J.K. Rowling

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Did you check out last week’s post about our virtual writing groups? Don’t forget to sign up before Friday 15 March.

J.K Rowling Writing CafeToday’s featured author is none other than the creator of the boy wizard himself.  As everyone knows, Rowling got her start writing in a cafe in Edinburgh, hoping to turn her imaginings into something that could pay the rent.  What she gave the world was beyond magic, and it shaped millions of childhoods (and adulthoods, too).  While her adult novel may not have lived up to the hype, we can all agree that when it comes to crafting an enchanting story, Rowling knows how to do the job.  And it’s hard not to admire a woman who was once on benefits and now has influenced the lives of countless readers and encouraged many stubborn readers to pick up other books as well.  So, let’s check out J.K. Rowling’s 5 Writing Tips:


JK Rowling 5 Writing Tips

  1. Write in whatever time you have.
  2. Planning is essential.
  3. Rewriting is just as essential.
  4. Be aware of plot and pacing.
  5. Write your passion.

Join In – Virtual Writing Group

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Virtual Writing GroupI have posted a lot of writing tips on here recently, many from great authors such as Neil Gaiman and Joss Whedon.  And searching for all of these got me to thinking about my own writing, and the people that are obviously interested in writing themselves, because each posts has gotten hundreds of hits.

I don’t know about you, but I tend to slack when it comes to my own writing.  I make my living partially on the written word, but not for writing novels.  And I want that to change.  Do you?

I propose then a writing group, virtual since this is a website.  This would consist of roughly 4-8 people who want to share work, get feedback, and help other writers progress.  Writing groups are also great because they force you to write, to provide something for the group to read.  I have been in a few in the past, and I dearly miss that now.

Why 4-8?  Well, reading a lot of work in one week would be difficult, so I propose 2 members of the group would submit 5-10 pages each week.  This means once a month you would get to have your pages read and critiqued, and then the other 3 weeks you get to help out the others in your group.

What if more than that want in?  Here’s where this can get really cool.  If we get a great turnout, I can split off people into groups.  Tell me what kind of novel/short story/play/movie/TV show you’re writing, and if you know anyone else who is submitting their name for fun as well.  Then tell me what part of the world/state/city you’re based in.  If we’re lucky, we can put you near someone local, but we’ll definitely put together groups with friends and similar writing interests.

How do you sign up? Right now I’m just garnering interest, but if we get a good response, full steam ahead!  Fill out this Google Form, then I will get back in touch with you.  And hey, if it’s only a few of us, we’ll get to work together!

Want to think on it? I will keep the form open for two weeks, until midnight PST March 15, 2013.  If you happen to stumble on this post after the deadline, please email me at breathingfiction at gmail.com.  There might be a group with space, or more to join in!