Monday, 30 December 2013

2013 Roundup

Another year draws to a close. It’s been an interesting, and exciting time for me. I joined a reading group, and a writing group, and made some some wonderful friends at both.

I launched 6 new apps this year!

I also contributed for Flash Fiction Day, and entered the Costa Short Story Competition, and most recently, the Richard and Judy Search for a Bestseller competition.

I haven’t seen as many films as I’d like – I did quite enjoy Man of Steel, although there’s very little left of Metropolis at the end of the film for Clark to protect…

So what does the future hold?

App-wise, I'm looking at an update for Plotline, followed *possibly* by small updates for the iPad versions of Saving Jar and Word Count Dashboard. Then, taking what I learned while building the export for Plotline, I’m going to investigate putting a similar sort of export into Character Folio, and possibly Subplot.

There’s no guarantee that anything will come of that investigation, but we’ll see how it goes.

On a writing note, I’m going to be carrying on with a new novel, Intertwined, while also getting Spark of Humanity ready for publication.

Thanks to everyone that’s bought one of our apps this year – have a happy, safe, and productive new year.

Friday, 6 December 2013

Say hello to my little friend

We're launching a new application today, and it's a bit of a departure for us: it's an iPad exclusive, not a Mac app, nor a conversion of an existing app.

Plotline is a planning tool for writers designed to help you plan out the flow of the scenes for a novel or screenplay.

Plotline breaks stories down into plotlines and scenes. You add plotlines to cover the key strands of your story, then add scenes that reference those plotlines. For example, you could have a plotline called "Main Plot", "Protagonist Subplot", or name them after your characters: "Jack", "Jane Subplot", etc.

Plotline breaks a story down into the classic 3-act structure, but splits Act 2 into 2 parts. So you have Act 1, Act 2 Part 1, Act 2 Part 2, and Act 3.

You add scenes to each act segment, and set the intensity value for each scene (a measure of how dramatic or intense you want the scene to be.) Plotline builds up a view of your scenes in a way that allows you to see the ebb and flow of your scenes as you ramp up the tension and then let scenes breathe afterwards.

Plotline can export the breakdown of your scenes to a text file, which you can import into your favourite editor. It can also export to OPML format, which can be used (for instance) to export the breakdown to software that supports the OPML format (e.g. Literature and Latte's Scrivener).

Plotline also includes a set of help documents to guide you through using the app.

Plotline is available on the App Store for iPads running iOS 6.1 or later.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013


Hopefully everyone out there getting on with National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is well on their way to hitting the 50,000 word target. Thank you everyone who's picked up Word Count Dashboard over the past few weeks - I hope it's helping you keep on track!

We've got a new application in the works - it'll launch in early December (to let the Thanksgiving App Store craziness dissipate a little!) It's staying under wraps for now, but it's a bit of a departure for how we've normally developed apps so far in that it's iPad only at the moment.

It needs iOS 6.1 or later (so that's iPad 2's and up - it would have been really nice if Apple had let the original iPad update to iOS 6, but sadly that's not to be.)

I really like the app, and use it myself - so hopefully when it launches, it'll prove useful for a lot of other people too... 

Friday, 1 November 2013

Happy Birthday Character Folio

It's one year ago today that Character Folio launched for the Mac. Created for writers to help them develop characters for novels, and screenplays, Character Folio groups over 100 pieces of information about your character into an easy-to-use and colourful applications.

It's also the start of National Novel Writing Month, so good luck to everyone taking part!

Happy Writing.

Monday, 30 September 2013

Roundup of a few writing tools

It's getting to that time of year again: National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is looming, just over a month away. For everyone thinking about taking part (and I strongly encourage everyone to try it), this year I thought I'd do quick roundup of some of the tools available out there for writers.

Of course, the bottom line is that all you really need is pen and paper, but realistically, a word processor and maybe some planning will really help you hit that 50,000 word target for NaNoWriMo.

Full disclosure: some of my own applications are in the list, but I've always been happy to let people know of other tools and utilities out there. It's all about choice and variety - you may really gel with the way one app works, but not like another - we're all happy working in our own unique ways. I'm just happy if you're using something that you find productive and helps you to write.

My own applications: -

Subplot (Mac)
Character Folio (Mac)
Word Count Dashboard (Mac or iPad)

Other applications: -

Scrivener by Literature and Latte (Mac and Windows)
OpenOffice (various versions available besides Apache, e.g. LibreOffice) (Mac, Windows)
XMind Mind Mapping (Mac, Windows)
StoryMill by Mariner Software (Mac)
Persona by Mariner Software (Mac)
iAWriter (Mac, iPad)
Writer's Cafe (Mac, Windows)

There are many other applications around to help writers, but those are a few that I'm particularly aware of.

Good luck to everyone taking part in NaNoWriMo 2013.

Happy Writing!

Sunday, 1 September 2013

Subplot is 2 years old this month

Subplot launched on September 19th, 2011, so this month sees the app reach its 2nd anniversary.

To celebrate, we've reduced the price of the app on the Mac App Store. You can now pick up Subplot for about half its original price.

Happy Writing!

Saturday, 31 August 2013


A small update for Subplot should be released shortly on the app store.

As ever, please back up your Subplot data file before making any changes.

Happy writing!

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Getting Organised

We've launched a new app for the Mac today (1st August): Peace of Mind.

This is a little utility that I needed myself, and the idea for it came about because I was thinking about the future, and how everyone says they're organised, but most people, in reality, aren't.

Peace of Mind allows you to store the details of things you own (property like a house, or that really expensive phone/tablet, or your car), your bank and savings accounts, your documents (e.g. the location of that share certificate, or where the deeds to the house are), as well as the arrangements that link everything together.

The basic idea is this: what would my loved ones need to know about my accounts, property and arrangements, if I wasn't around to tell them about them, and crucially the details of where the documents are.

Peace of Mind doesn't get into the details of your account balances and account numbers, so you never use it to manage accounts - you use it instead to let people know where your accounts are held, so that if the worst does happen, then your loved ones aren't left to ring around different institutions trying to resolve things.

Please note: Peace of Mind does NOT provide legal or financial advice. It is purely an organiser for your details. Please talk to your lawyer, accountant, or other qualified professional if this is the sort of advice you are seeking.

Monday, 15 July 2013

Word Count Dashboard leaps to the iPad

Word Count Dashboard has joined Savings Jar on the App Store. The little motivational tool to help you keep on top of your writing targets can be found in the Utilities section.

I used Word Count Dashboard every day when I was writing the first draft of Spark of Humanity. I wrote 85,000 words in 60 days, the most I've ever managed.

I think it works well because it just doesn't care whether you write or not - it's always up to you to get the work done, but Word Count Dashboard will always tell you exactly where you stand - if you skip a day, the next time you look, the daily target goes up. If you write less than your target amount one day, the daily target goes up. And crucially, when you see your target fluctuating like that, I think it really brings it home, and (certainly for me) it helps you knuckle down and get it done.

Normally, you could say to yourself "oh, it's only one day, I'll catch up" - and then that one day turns into two, and those two days turn into three, and suddenly you've skipped a week, and your target's looking more like a pipe dream than a realistic goal.

So, please do give Word Count Dashboard a try - whether it's on the Mac or the iPad, I hope you find it useful.

Happy writing!

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Monday, 1 July 2013


Unfortunately, the minimum version for Savings Jar on the iPad was causing some problems, so we've withdrawn the app while we sort out the correct minimum version.

The updated version of Savings Jar for iPad, 1.2, is waiting for review at Apple.

The minimum version of iOS that Savings Jar will run on when it launches again, is iOS 6.1.

If you have purchased Savings Jar for iPad, and cannot upgrade to iOS 6.1, then please see the App Store support people for a refund.

We're sorry for any inconvenience this has caused.

Savings Jar branches out

Saving Jar is now available for the iPad. The little motivational app that lets you save towards a goal, and then shows you each day just how well (or badly) you're doing, launched on the App Store on 1st July 2013.

Here are a couple more screenshots from the iPad version: -

Adding a saving entry

The saving list

Please note that the Mac and iPad versions do not share file formats - if you already own Savings Jar for the Mac, there's no need to buy the iPad version, unless you'd prefer to use it on the iPad. However, you would have to create your goals on the iPad version independently of the Mac version.

Saturday, 1 June 2013

Subplot Sale

The Subplot Summer sale should now be active on the Mac App Store. Subplot is designed to help writers plan their novels or screenplays.

Subplot is on sale for the whole of June 2013.

Happy writing!

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Getting the most out of Word Count Dashboard

Word Count Dashboard tries to keep you motivated with a writing project. Each time you finish a writing session, update the app with your word count, and it will let you know how far you've come, how many words you've got to go, and what you need to write each day to achieve the target.

The following example shows the process the app goes through when you add the details of a writing session: -

Imagine for instance that you've just started a writing project. You check the word count in your word processor of choice (e.g. Pages, or Word), and you find that you've done 2500 words for your new project.

In Word Count Dashboard, create a new writing session and enter 2500 as the current word count.

Now, jump forward a day, and you finish your next writing session. Check the word count in your word processor - and it gives a total of 4000 words.

In Word Count Dashboard, when you go to enter your new session, it is 4000 that you enter: the current word count total for the whole manuscript.

Word Count Dashboard will work out the difference between the new word count and the old one, and let you know how many words you wrote in the session.

In the above example, it would have been 1500 words.

You don't enter 1500, as that would show -1000 as the change in word counts.

When I was developing Word Count Dashboard, I chose to base it on the overall manuscript word count because that should be easier to enter than you having to work out manually/with a calculator, how many words you've written in a session.

Happy writing!

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Recharging the batteries

It's been a hectic couple of weeks here, and with the UK heading into a bank holiday weekend, I'm going to be taking some time away from apps and development from today.

Any emails relating to apps won't be read until Tuesday 7th May, so please don't panic if you don't get a reply for a couple of days.

I'm going to be working on my novel, Spark of Humanity, as well as taking in some fresh air outdoors.

Happy writing, happy reading, happy trails.

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Introducing Shelf Life

Our fifth application has just launched on the Mac App Store: Shelf Life.

Shelf Life is a small application to help you keep track of books that you're reading, or want to read but don't have. It's not as full-featured as a cataloguing application - it's designed more for readers who want to keep track of things like the series that a book belongs to.

For example, I often end up reading book one of a series when it comes out, but book two is nowhere in sight, because the author hasn't even written it yet - so it's not even available for adding to online wishlists to keep tabs on it. Fast forward a few months, and books appear, and I'm often not sure whether I've read the first one, or what series something belongs to.

Adding in to that, was the fact that I've recently joined a reading group (hello to all the gang at the Cardiff-based Saucers and Dragons!) and wanted to keep track of things I've finished reading as well.

Hopefully some people will find it useful - especially the reports that allow you to print out your list of wanted books for those trips to the public library so that you can trawl the shelves and spend hours immersing yourself in books.

Happy reading!

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Interesting times ahead

Last time, I wrote about the LiveCode Kickstarter. The project was successfully funded, so an Open-Source version of LiveCode will be available in the near future. Hopefully that can help inspire a new generation of coders and programmers, and help make real-world application development a more attractive proposition for schools and colleges.

I'm certainly looking forward to trying out LiveCode and maybe porting a couple of the simpler apps here to the iPad - Savings Jar would suit it well (and therefore Word Count Dashboard as well). We'll have to see how it goes.

Development is proceeding on a new app here as well, but more about that perhaps at a later date.

Happy writing!

Monday, 25 February 2013

Supporting development

There's a Kickstarter finishing in a couple of days: Next Generation LiveCode. Designed to help build an open-source version of a development tool that could be used freely by schools and teachers.

Please have a look at the page and the pitch by the team at RunRev. They're UK-based, and seem like a great bunch. I don't use LiveCode here (yet), but it's an avenue I'm considering for potential developments.

Anything that can help teach computer science in a way that makes it fun and engaging is a good thing in my book, and the more people that learn how to program, the more people that aren't so daunted by computers and technology.

Best of luck to the RunRev team.

Friday, 15 February 2013

Introducing Word Count Dashboard

Our fourth application has just launched on the Mac App Store: Word Count Dashboard.

Word Count Dashboard Promo

It uses the same mentality as Savings Jar, but deals with keeping track of a writing project's word count rather than savings.

It came about because in my latest writing project, I wanted to keep focused on my 90,000 word target for finishing the first draft. I started using Savings Jar to keep on top of the total and handling the "what's left and percentage complete" totals.

Due to the way Savings Jar works, I had to work out each writing session's number of words, then add them as a "saving", and as I was finding this a really effective way of keeping myself motivated, I decided to create a dedicated app to deal with it.

Word Count Dashboard works slightly differently to Savings Jar, in that you just have to enter the current total word count for your whole writing project. Word Count Dashboard then takes care of calculating the session's total, etc.

For a more writer-oriented discussion of why I wrote the app, head over to Craig's Writing Corner.

Happy Writing!

Thursday, 31 January 2013

Incoming app

A fourth app is waiting for review for the Mac App Store. It's another little one, not as grand as Subplot or Character Folio, but it is a little tool for writers to use every day.

More news closer to launch, which should hopefully be March 1st, subject to Apple being happy with everything!

Happy writing.

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Happy New Year

The Subplot sale still has a couple of days left before the app returns to its regular price.

Thank you to everyone who has tried the apps in the last year and a bit. I hope you all have a safe, happy, and prosperous new year.