Thursday, February 9, 2012

A sample cover

Here's a cover mock-up that I did for the fantasy novel that I'm working on. I'm not even done with three chapters yet, and I'm already designing the cover :) I guess it keeps me motivated, or at least that's my story and I'm sticking to it :)

In case you're interested, I created this in Paint.net with a couple of free photographs. I just applied some simple effects and added the text. I used layers and masks to allow the mountain pic to be seen through the arch. I'm happy with it for a half hour job, but I'll probably spend more time on the final version.

The image is 600 x 800 pixels so that it will fit nicely on a Kindle screen. My goal is to publish this book through Amazon. I'm going to upload the cover to my Kindle tonight to see how it looks. I'm such a geek :)

Mock-up cover for my work in progress.

Maybe if I look at this every morning it will keep me focused, and I'll actually get this book done before I'm fifty. A guy can always dream anyway :)

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

MasterWriter is good, but a little too pricey for the likes of me

I have a subscription to the Writer, which is a really great magazine by the way, and they sent me an advertisement for a piece of software that I had heard of before, but had never actually used. It's called MasterWriter for Creative Writers, and it has a lot of really nifty features. It has a dictionary and thesaurus, but it goes beyond that and gives you tools like: parts of speech, and word families. I'm not going to go into great detail about the program, but these features allow you to really drill down, and find great synonyms as well as phrases that relate to the word. It also has a rhyming dictionary, a project manager, a basic word processor, and a pop culture reference with over 11,000 entries. The pop culture tool is pretty useful, but all it seems to do is link to Wikipedia within the program.

Now I could see myself using this program quite a bit, but not enough to justify spending $149 on it, and that's with a coupon code from the Writer. The regular stand-alone price is $199, or you can subscribe to it as a service for $9.95 per month or $99.00 per year. I suppose if I was a professional writer I might be fine with laying down that kind of money, but for a guy with a hobby that's just a little too steep.

I certainly don't want to knock the software. I downloaded a trial and gave it a whirl, and I think you should too; I just didn't love it enough to pay nearly $200 for it. I mean, I only paid $40 for a piece of software that I use almost every day, and that I'm very satisfied with, Scrivener. So that got me to thinking, maybe there's a piece of software out there for me that does just what I need it to for a price I can live with. A quick search of the internet turned up a little gem that PC users have apparently been using for years called WordWeb Pro.

WordWeb Pro is an English dictionary and thesaurus with usage examples, 70,000 recorded pronunciations, 285,000 derived words, phrases and derived forms, 225,000 word sense definitions, and it even has pattern matching. That way, if I don't know how to spell the word I'm looking for, I can throw in a few wildcards and find it in a jiffy. The program is light and compact, and sits neatly beside my favorite writing tool ready to handle all of my linguistic needs. And the best part is that it only set me back $4.99. How's that for a bargain?

By all means, if you need something as robust as MasterWriter, then go for it. But if, like me, all you need is a Toyota, then why pay all of the extra money for the Lexus?