Category Archives: Helpful Tools

Poor Writer, Sad Writer.

Look at them with their fancy apple products and their expensive apps, look at them writing away, producing masterpieces as they sip their thirteenth latte of the day in that cute boutique coffee shop that only makes coffee from cat shit, or something. Expensive cat shit….you don’t know. It sounds gross but hey if it’s expensive it must be amazing, right?

If only you had [AMAZING NAME BRAND PRODUCT WITH AMAZING NAME BRAND PRICE TAG] you too would be producing effortless prose, nuanced story lines, witty and wonderful characters.

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On Building a House

I don’t update this blog very often because I feel like I never have anything to say, but people do occasionally ask me for world-building posts which I never do because I’m all…uh…I dunno, it just happens.

This morning I was avoiding my actual work by mucking around with my Hobverse wiki* where I try and keep track of all the tiny pointless details of the When the Sea is Rising Red universe. Naturally, I tweeted about this because I have no life, and that prompted Dante of Doom to ask me to make him into a House.

So I did.

This is kinda an insight into how I tweak actual things to make them work in my fantasy universe. Note that this is simply how I do things, not how anyone else should, but if you see something that works for you, that’s brilliant and I’m glad.

I looked up the name Dante, and I discovered that it means firm, enduring.

First thought – tower, defence

Second thought – I can’t call the house Dante, it wouldn’t work in-universe.

Turns out Dante’s actual name was Durante, so I played with that and changed it to Derand (based on the pronunciation of Durand). House Derand is born, and I have a tower.

I tweak, I get a white tower on a blue ground. Needs something. Defence again, and magic, so I bring in a black dragon coiled on top of the tower, and since Pelimburg is where Derand would have settled, I make the bottom of the House symbol blue and white waves. So we have a tower at sea, and a dragon, and after that the motto is piss-easy. I Will Defend.

House Derand might not even make it into a Hobverse novel, but they exist and I *know* they exist, and my world-building will be richer for it.

*I use zim wiki for this and I love it.

Open Source Writing Software – Zim Desktop Wiki



We are going to elope and live on an island together making little word babies.


Zim Desktop Wiki is basically a notebook tool that works by linking things together like a wiki. How fucking nifty is that?


It is super easy to use. I’m running it on Ubuntu but I see there’s a Wndows installer on the downloads page (someone who uses Windows, if you try Zim, please let me know how it works). It’s  fantastic for me, trying to keep order to my vast worldbuilding notes, so I would especially recommend this to anyone writing with a large cast, second world fantasy, or indeed any kind of writing where you constantly need to refresh and interlink your notes.


Here’s a grab of my current Hobverse project notes:



I mean, seriously, how gorgeous is that? Nnnghhh *fondles*


This one is definitely getting a thumbs up.



Happy Monday

And I’m back with the list of doom

We’ve hit Web Tools, and we’re starting with web editor Amaya.

From their site:  “Amaya is a Web editor, i.e. a tool used to create and update documents directly on the Web. Browsing features are seamlessly integrated with the editing and remote access features in a uniform environment. This follows the original vision of the Web as a space for collaboration and not just a one-way publishing medium.”

Release 10.0 is cross-platform – they have releases for Windows NT/2000/XP/vista, for Debian, Ubuntu,  Redhat, Mandrake, Suse and for Mac. The exe file for Windows is 7.2 mb.

Only I can’t get it to work in Ubuntu. Keeps giving me an error.

So that’s that.


One quick note before I get into the next app: We have now upgraded to Ubuntu 8.04 – Hardy Heron, and both sonar and ywriter gave no issues (unlike Gimp…grrr).

Today’s focus shifts to Helpful Tools on the list, and gives us Prompts.  Basically, it’s an on-line random prompt generator.

Exciting stuff. As far as my writing goes it’s not exactly helpful, although I can see it being something you might use if you felt the urge to blog and had nothing to say.

Oh my god, wait. I think I need to do just that. Never again will you be forced to scroll past wangsty posts of doom, when instead I could be writing about this:

I’m not giving this a rating of recommended/not recommended because although it’s not a serious tool it could be fun to use on those fallow blogging days. There do seem to be some other cool little things on the site aimed at teachers, so it might be worthwhile going and giving the place a squizz to see if any of the other widgets interest you.