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Writing Craft

If you have a job that doesn’t occupy the entire day, have you thought about writing porn at work but were afraid that the IT department would catch you? Portable versions of LibreOffice might be something to think about.

You’ve likely heard of LibreOffice, an open source or free replacement of Microsoft Word but what is a “Portable” version?

PortableApps is a software package that allows the user to run Windows programs on a USB jump drive without requiring software to be installed on a desktop PC. What does this mean for the typical worker in a corporate environment?

Most of us, as a minion of corporate America, use a computer that is locked down. Without Administrative privileges, a user cannot install software on their desktop PC. Plus the fact that corporate IT regularly sweeps user PC’s to see what their serfs are up to.

This reminds me of the scene in Monty Python’s Search for the Holy Grail when King Author rides through a field with several workers. One of the workers asked, “Who’s that?” A worker replies, “Must be a king?” First worker, “How do you know he’s the king?” Answer, “He doesn’t have shit all over him.”

What’s a worker bee to do? Into the ring, PortableApps steps up to solve a problem. Keep in mind that what I’m about to tell you might get yourself into trouble with your employer, and so I have no responsibility for anything that happens to you.

Using a USB jump drive or thumb drive, you can install applications which run off the USB drive without requiring installation on your desktop PC. Furthermore, when you exit a program, it deletes the temporary folder created to completely erase any trace that it ever existed.

In plain English, this means that you can pull a jump drive out of your pocket or purse and plug it into your locked down work computer. Then run word processing and graphics applications that allow you to do work that would normally require Word, Excel, or PhotoShop. Then after you exit the programs, pull the jump drive out, and all traces of what you’ve been doing are erased.

There are a ton of programs, which have portable versions, that can be run from a thumb drive. It is a little slower than having the software installed on your PC, but slower is better than nothing. The program itself runs at typically the same speed, it just loads slower as a USB drive is slower reading than the hard disk.

For an Indie author, especially the paranoid type, being able to work on your latest masterpiece without worrying that your employer might find out that you’re a pervert can be a definite advantage for those who have free time at work.

If you haven’t tried LibreOffice, it is an open source clone of Microsoft Word and can easily read and write Word files. A Word user should feel right at home with LibreOffice, and it’s completely free!

Portable applications are available for GIMP, a PhotoShop clone, along with most of the other programs used by Indie authors to create and publish their stories. It typically takes 2gb of space to install a full suite of programs, which leaves plenty of space to store your work with an 8gb or larger jump drive. With jump drives selling for under twenty dollars, consider giving this a try.

Below find step by step directions on installing PortableApps onto a jump drive along with a common suite of useful programs.

Installing PortableApps On a Jump Drive

  1. For Windows PC’s, go to https://portableapps.com/ and install the PortableApps program on a jump drive. I suggest at least an 8gb drive or larger. For this article, I downloaded “PortableApps.com_Platform_Setup_15.0.2.paf.exe” to the Downloads folder of my desktop running 64bit Windows 10 Professional.
  2. Run the program you just downloaded, which in my case was version 15.0.2 (the latest as of 8/18/18). Go through the normal installation questions and select “New Install” when prompted.
  3. Plug a USB Jump Drive into your computer and select “Portable” as the Install Location. The installation program should default to the jump drive but if it doesn’t, select the appropriate Jump Drive. Okay the “are you sure” question to Install. Then click Finish when the installation is complete. This should automatically run the PortableApps program on the Jump Drive.
  4. Go through the list of available programs and check the ones you’d like installed. I’d suggest you include LibreOffice, GIMP, Note++, IrfanView, JPEGView, Fotografix, Inkscape, Scribus, Sigil, Kaspersky TDSSKiller, 7-Zip, Don’t Panic, and FastCopy to start. Feel free to add any others that strike your fancy. After you click Next, wait for the apps to be installed. Depending on the speed of your computer and Internet connection, this could be a while. There should be an icon in your taskbar showing the progression of the installs. I’m on a 300 Mbit cable connection and using an i7 computer, and it still took me 10-15 minutes to install the apps selected above.
  5. Assuming that you don’t get any errors, installing at a minimum the above list of programs will enable you to read/write Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents, edit graphics (aka PhotoShop) and create covers (aka CorelDraw). You will probably have to agree to a few license agreements along the way, and hopefully, you don’t end up like Kyle from South Park when he agrees to be a HUMANCENTiPAD! Much less the cuttlefish!
  6. One of the recommended programs I installed in this How To guide is “Don’t Panic,” which is what we used to call a “Boss Switch” that hides your work. If you’re doing something that you shouldn’t and your boss or co-worker starts heading towards your desk, press the hotkey combination, and your program(s) are instantly hidden. Remember that I’m not recommending you screw off at work!

Am Writing

Currently, my story de jour is still House Party about surprisingly a house party. House party is an acronym of a swinger’s party with a number of twists and turns from my normal fare. I’m still not sure how it’s going to turn out but will hopefully be HEA in the end!

House Party is currently over 52,000 words and going strong despite all efforts to end the story. Amazon has a 30-day cliff, and if you don’t publish on a regular basis, you get kicked to the curb. But my characters don’t seem to appreciate the fact that it’s Publish or Perish!

Thanks for reading and if it’s the 24th, it’s another bit of smut from Larry Archer. Visit me at LarryArcher.blog for more pervy stuff. Sorry, I can’t offer any cooking or house cleaning tips but if it involves abusing yourself, drop me a line: Larry [at] LarryArcher [dot] com.

I encountered a problem with my cloud storage that I’d like to warn you about as it could happen to you. While trying to finish my latest tome, one of my beta readers pointed out an inconsistency in the story. I referenced a scene where one of the guys was previously pegged, yet my “proofer” pointed out that the chapter didn’t exist in the story.

I could have sworn that I wrote that chapter as I knew what happened yet going back through the document, I came up blank. WTF? I said, the scene was completely gone? Luckily, my beta-reader is a lot more organized than I am and was able to pull the chapter out of a previous file that I had sent her.

Thankfully, I was able to reinsert the chapter into the story somewhat like Foxy inserted her strap-on into Greg’s ass. Quick thinking by my beta-reader insured that Greg could be able to take another “insertion” by a tag-team of girls. For the uninitiated, “pegging” is when a man is butt-fucked by a woman with a dildo.

But how did this fulfilling scene get lost? Has my computer suddenly gotten its collective brains screwed out? After all, I was writing this on an iFruit computer.

While writing, I often switch between a laptop and a desktop computer depending on where I’m at. Dragging all of the cables, tower, and monitor into the bathroom was raising suspicions among my coworkers especially with the extension cord into the stall. Plus, the fact I kept dropping the mouse into the toilet didn’t help.

My MacBook Air laptop balances on my knees quite easily and allows me to pound out my smut everywhere I go. But how to easily transfer files between my laptop and desktop required some additional software.

I use DropBox cloud based storage as a storage point between computers. Storing the document in DropBox allows the Internet based software to seamlessly transfer the files back and forth between computers.

DropBox stores a copy of your files in the cloud as well as any computer it’s installed on including PC’s, Mac’s, Android, and I assume iPhone’s. When you edit a file, it’s on your local computer and DropBox uploads any changes to its cloud copy.

Whenever another computer is connected to the Internet, DropBox automatically synchronizes the files to insure that the latest copy is transmitted to all other computers.

The most obvious issue occurs when the same file is opened with two different computers. DropBox doesn’t lock files so the user must insure that there is only one copy of an individual file open at any one time.

In most cases, DropBox will detect this and will store “conflicted” copies of the file. Then you have to open the copies and merge the changes to end up with a single file which contains all of the changed and new data.

Preventing this problem is quickly learned and you always remember to close the file before switching computers.

This typically works seamlessly except when it doesn’t. I’ve come to realize there are a few flies in the ointment. First, make sure that you wait long enough for DropBox to upload the changed files before shutting down the computer. This will ensure that the cloud has the latest version.

If you’re going to be using a laptop and are not sure if WiFi is going to be available, fire up the laptop at home and allow DropBox to sync all the files before walking out the door. This way your laptop contains the latest copies of the files.

What I’ve recently figured out is that DropBox automatically limits the upload speed and generally speaking, this option should be cleared. It can take an inordinate amount of time to upload files and my laptops will often go to sleep before the process is finished, which leaves the state of the changed files in limbo.

By unchecking the upload limit, my WiFi uploads occur almost instantly and insure the cloud has the latest copy. While a little bit of an aggravation, being able to edit your smut on the go allows you to be productive when traveling or killing time at Starbucks.

If you are like me and enjoy working on the go, using a cloud storage such as DropBox makes life a lot easier, especially if you follow the rules.

By Lisabet Sarai

Can you control the flow of time? I’m not talking about managing your own time in order to be productive (though that would be a worthy topic for another article). I’m referring to managing the flow of time in your stories.

Authors of paranormal or speculative fiction, where time travel is a common element, might answer in the affirmative. Historical writers also need an acute appreciation of time. Those of you who write in other genres, though, might not have thought much about the question. You might be more focused on building compelling characters, producing vivid descriptions, or writing realistic dialogue. If you don’t consciously control the passage of time in your books, however, you may create problems your readers.

In most fiction, time provides the sub-structure for the story. The events that comprise the plot are associated with different temporal “locations”, strung out from the past to the present like beads on a string. A close author friend of mine uses the metaphor of a clothesline. He writes scenes as they occur to him and then “hangs” them on the line in temporal order. (See his example below. You can read about his method at the Oh Get A Grip blog).

Plot “clothesline” by C. Sanchez-Garcia

Aristotle advised dramatists that all the action in a play should occur within a single day. That approach might work for a short story, but novels usually stretch over a longer duration—anything from days to centuries. This expanded span introduces a variety of risks for the author.

The risk of confusing the reader. Your reader needs to understand when things are happening in order to make sense of the story. Thus, you need to clearly communicate the temporal “setting” of each scene (including flashbacks or scenes from the past that are described by your characters).

The risk of “losing” periods of time. If your story jumps from point A in time (e.g. Monday) to point B (e.g. Saturday of the same week), what happened during the intervening days? This might not be relevant to the story, and you don’t necessarily need to fill in the blank period in detail, but both you and your characters need to be aware that the gap exists. As a reader, I find it really irritating when a new chapter begins a month later than the previous one, without the author telling me anything about what occurred during that period. In general, as time progresses, things change. Longer time periods result in more significant alterations of people, situations, and environments. Keep this in mind as you write.

The risk of repeating periods of time. This is the flip side of (2). Make sure you don’t end up with two Saturdays in a row!

The risk of factual or celestial gaffes. Authors frequently use natural phenomena to anchor a story. Phases of the moon are a particular favorite of mine. If the moon is full during one scene, I need to actively consider what phase it will display a week later. Certainly it won’t still be full! Seasonal variations are another example. My novel Necessary Madness begins in late November, in New England, and continues through December until Christmas. I describe the weather as progressively colder and more inclement, as it usually is in Massachusetts during this period.

The risk of logical gaffes. Humans expect a logical sequence of phenomena, from cause to effect. A glitch in your fictional time line can create a situation where an effect is described before its causal event has occurred. For example, a character might mention another individual in the story, before the two have met or learned of each other’s existence. A reader might or might not notice this sort of error. In the former case, she’ll be confused. In the latter case, she’ll be critical of your skills as a story teller.

So how can you avoid these sorts of problems, especially in a longer work like a novel? One common technique is to create a time line for your story. The line should start at the earliest event you describe (even if that is in the past when your story begins) and should extend to the tale’s conclusion. As an example, here’s a time line I used as I was working on my M/M speculative fiction novel Quarantine.

Quarantine historical events timeline

Quarantine events timeline

Because this story takes place in the future, but is influenced by history, I’ve broken my time line into two parts. The first has a larger granularity (years) and shows historical events leading up to the beginning of the book, both personal to the characters (above the line) and public (below the line). I’ve included the public events because they are mentioned by the characters.

The second, more detailed time line shows the course of the story events themselves. Its units are days. The book takes about two months to unfold. As we get toward the climax, the days of the week become important because the “Freedom Crossroads Rally” event must occur on a Saturday.

The second half of the detailed time line reflects chapters I hadn’t yet written at the time I created these diagrams. I was not completely sure about how the end of the book would play out and that uncertainty shows.

I’ve used diagrams for my time line, but a spreadsheet might work as well. One problem with using graphics is that there’s no obvious way to record details (like the phase of the moon or the timing of the tides) that might be ancillary to the tale but still important from a consistency perspective. With a spread sheet, each row would represent one point in time (one triangle, in my graphical representation). Then you could define columns for date, day of the week, scenes or events related to characters, external events, phase of the moon, or whatever, expanding the definition as necessary to capture the information you need.

Quarantine has a relatively simple, linear plot, and thus can be handled by a single time line. Some books, especially those with multiple point-of-view characters, may have multiple parallel time lines. The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters, by Gordon Dahlquist (one the best books I’ve read in the past decade!), features three main characters, each of whom has independent adventures. Their individual time lines merge in certain scenes, then diverge again. I don’t know if Dahlquist used time lines (if he didn’t, I’d like to know how he kept track of such an incredibly intricate tale!), but I’d imagine if one tried to do so, one would need separate time-tagged event sequences for Miss Temple, Cardinal Chang, and Doctor Svenson, braided together like the multiple channels of an ancient river.

Handling time in Quarantine was relatively simple for another reason. The book is narrated using “standard” third-person limited, past tense. I’ve written four novels at this point using first person, present tense. It’s a tricky combination but one that I like for erotica because of its immediacy. Here’s a bit from my erotic thriller Exposure narrated by exotic dancer and (it turns out) amateur sleuth Stella Xanathakeos:

It’s early, and it’s Monday, slow. He’s the only one sitting close enough for me to use my stare, and it isn’t working. He’s good-looking in a clean-cut, straight-laced sort of way. Blond crew cut, blue-eyed, muscles that show even under his expensive suit. At least it looks expensive to me.

He has not taken his eyes off me since I strutted onto the stage, but his face is without expression. It’s like he has walls behind his eyes. I can’t see into him at all. Now it’s me that’s getting frustrated and hot under the collar. I’ve already stripped down to my pasties, boots and thong. I peel one of the tassels off my nipple and dangle it in front of him. He looks only at my eyes. He’s measuring me, sizing me up for something.

I prance around on my stiletto heels. I shake my hips, do a slow, sensuous shimmy, cup my tits in my palms and offer them to him. No reaction. I take off the other tassel and attach it behind, where my butt cheeks meet, a lewd little tail. There’s a whistle from a table in the back, but Mr. Clean just continues to study me.

First person present narration complicates the control of time because you can’t allow significant gaps. It feels odd if the narrator’s voice simply disappears for a day or two, then pops in again. The events in Exposure (except for the final chapter, which is something of an epilogue) take place over the course of a single week. Every moment of Stella’s time needs to be accounted for. Furthermore, she needs to give the reader clues when the time line advances without her providing a blow-by-blow description.

Three quarters of the way through writing Exposure, I discovered that I’d lost a day. I was tracking the days of the week because the plot required it. I realized that I’d skipped from Thursday to Saturday without Friday ever happening. This necessitated some temporal repair work on my part!

Perhaps the most complicated juggling of time I’ve done as a writer is my short story “Underground”, recently published in the ERWA paranormal anthology Unearthly Delights. In this tale, less than 7000 words long, I begin in the present:

So maybe it’s not totally sane. I’ve always been fascinated by madness.

As for safe, where’s the thrill in safety?

You can’t, however, deny that it’s consensual.

Ducking into a blank alley, one of thousands in this city, I make my way to the metal door near the end. The keypad gives off a faint green luminescence. I tap in the combination and the door swings open; my pulse is already climbing. My boot heels ring hollow as I descend the industrial steel steps, and the thump of the bass rises to meet me. Excitement wells up, flooding my cunt, even before I’ve buzzed the final door and been admitted to this most particular and perverse playground.

The techno soundtrack punches me in the solar plexus. My heart stutters like I’ve been shocked by a defibrillator. Delicious weakness sweeps over me, a premonition of what’s to come.

I give the readers a glimpse of my narrator’s personality and desires, just enough (I hope), to pique their curiosity, before shifting to a flashback:

The long years before I found Underground and Z seem like some bad dream—an endless series of fetish groups and kink clubs, personal ads and bar hook-ups, as I searched everywhere for someone who could understand and satisfy my particular needs.

S&M folk like to believe they’re tolerant and accepting. They weren’t ready to tolerate me, though.

The remainder of the story flips back and forth between past and present. Each brief section set in the present advances the particular scene initiated at the start of the story. Each flashback (there are three such sections) reveals more about who the main character is and what she really wants. The tale ends in the present, as the narrator reaps the consequences of her history.

This was a pretty ambitious time line. It took me several rounds of edits to get it right, to create the correct balance between flashbacks and current events, and to make sure the action was advancing consistently in the present. In fact I didn’t fully grasp my target temporal structure at first. The crits I received on the Storytime list helped me to clarify my own goals.

I’m tempted to warn “don’t try this at home”, but in fact, you need to follow your own instincts about the time progression in your stories. If you feel that you need a complex time structure, don’t ignore that insight.

My goal in this article is simply to focus your attention on the question. Maintaining awareness of time in your work can be critical not only for helping your readers understand your tale but also for creating special emotional effects as I did in “Underground”. Sloppiness about time can make your tales annoying, confusing, even unreadable.

 

Hot Chilli Erotica

Hot Chilli Erotica

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