In my last blog, I wrote about people watching at Fast Food Restaurants. This time, let’s dive into Transportation Hubs. These are great places to get ideas for storylines!
How to get the most out of the experience:
Locate a spot to camp out and watch people. You can do this conspicuously or inconspicuously.
Use your dossier notebook to create characters inspired by the people you see.
Look at luggage/purses, shoes, and coats. These are all high ticket items that reflect economic status fairly accurately.
Observe groups of travelers: singles, friends, couples, families, social/school groups, business travelers.
Are they coming or going?
People who are waiting for passengers are interesting, too. Who are they? A romantic rendezvous? A distant relative? A chauffeur? The spouse of a soldier returning? An illicit affair? A business associate? A boyfriend?
Where are they going? Where have they been?
Business or pleasure? Or family emergency?
Here’s a checklist of transportation hubs to observe people. Which one is your favorite?
I like to get outside my regular living areas to find inspiration and get some real writing. One key to success is to appear as though you are working very hard on your stuff so people ignore you. Being a creepy weirdo could get you kicked out of a prime place.
Our first stop on the world tour is fast food restaurants. For my purposes, fast food restaurants are places of low commitment to food as a culinary experience with a focus on speed and expense. Patrons do not typically stop in for a leisurely luxury lunch here. They are usually in a hurry or have limited time and/or budget.
How to get the most out of the experience:
Sit where you can observe employee activities (hostess station, drive-thru, counter help, etc.)
Observe employees. Imagine what has brought them to work at a fast food restaurant. Who is in charge? Is there evidence of teamwork or is it a broken system?
Identify individual quirks of the workers.
If you are lucky enough to be able to observe the same set of people repeatedly, try making a notebook of fictional dossiers of the players. Include a rough sketch, habits, dreams, realities, physical descriptions, personality traits, etc.
Observe patrons. Why are they there? Habit? Circumstance? Laziness? Guilty pleasure?
Here’s a checklist for the most popular fast food restaurants! Which one is your favorite for people watching?
My goal is 50,000 words this April and a complete first draft of a novel. We’ll see how that works out. I’m using a handy web tool call Word Counter to analyze my writing. The writing analysis tool is just one reason to visit their site. You will find a lot of helpful writing advice on their blog, too!
Another thing I’m trying is camping out at new places to write instead of my dining room. Right now, I’m writing from a local gaming store. I’m a huge fan and frequent customer here and they are very generously allowing me to hang out and work at a table today. I think I might have to make this a regular thing. It’s very peaceful here. If there were a lot of gamers here right now (middle of the day) it would be a temptation, but right now, it’s just a great place to concentrate on what needs my attention.
Take the title of “Camp” very seriously and get out of your normal surroundings to boost your creativity!
We’ve updated our Name Dice app for iPhone / iPad / iPod Touch. This is an app that helps writers come up with character names and ideas for fictional writing. It’s very popular with writers from middle school / high school language arts classes to adult novelists and NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) competitors.
Name Dice now includes a new history feature where you can swipe backwards to view the last dozen rolls. We also updated the UI to improve the appearance on iPhone 5 and iOS 7 devices.
The top request we’ve received for Story Dice is to add a history feature to see previous rolls. Done! We’ve added it so you can see the previous dozen rolls! To see a previous roll, just swipe backwards until you get to the roll you want. To roll again, just tap the screen. Voila!
We’ve also added 30 new die faces for a whopping total of 170 pictures! Awesome!
Thinkamingo of Tampa, Florida, a leader in the online privacy arena, celebrates Data Privacy Day on January 28
The app developer members of the Know What’s Inside™ program, including Thinkamingo Inc of Tampa, Florida, extend support to Data Privacy Day, an annual event promoting data privacy education. Members of the Moms with Apps Know What’s Inside™ program are thrilled to participate in the effort to empower and educate people to protect their privacy online.
“Making apps for kids is a lot of fun, but it is also very serious business. I take the privacy of the children that use my apps as seriously as my own child’s privacy. My job as a parent and an app developer is to protect the privacy of our users as if they were my own kids,” said Ann Adair, co-founder of Thinkamingo. “In the current climate of data management missteps, I congratulate the efforts surrounding Data Privacy Day. As a Moms With Apps Know What’s Inside™ member, I pledge to continue to protect the privacy of my consumers and to be completely transparent in regards to my policies and data collection in my apps.”
“Moms With Apps members are excited to celebrate Data Privacy Day. Our members have pledged to take online privacy very seriously,” said Sara Kloek of Moms With Apps. “Their apps are designed especially for children with special attention to online privacy. A lot of our members are parents themselves. They believe in the importance of protecting their children’s privacy, but also educating others on how to provide the same protection by being transparent about their apps and their data collection policies.”
Moms with Apps is the largest community of family friendly app developers in the world. Moms with Apps and the Know What’s Inside™ program are a part of ACT | The Apps Association, and are dedicated to helping family-friendly app developers implement best practices around privacy and comply with privacy rules, including the Children’s Online Privacy and Protection Act (COPPA). The program provides developers with guidance on best practices, and requires each developer to implement those best practices in order to display the Know What’s Inside™ seal on their apps. For more information, visit momswithapps.com.
Congratulations to Tampa Hackerspace for a wildly successful Kickstarter! We are so proud to be a part of such an interesting and fun endeavor!
Tampa Hackerspace is a place you can share what you know and learn something new. There are hackers and makers of all kinds working with all sorts of materials: code, fabric, metal, plastic, circuitry, and much more!
Jon and I had a chance in the Spring of 2013 to help get things going by forming a team for the Red Bull Creation 2013 Challenge. We came up with the concept sport of “Extreme Fencing” and you can check out the video here. This project was a perfect match for our passion for learning new things and sharing that knowledge with others. Hence, our passion for the Tampa Hackerspace.
Every Tuesday night is the weekly Open Make. Come on out and meet the gang, bring your project, or just check out ongoing projects! You will see Arduinos, Raspberry Pi, LEGO, Minecraft, soldering, sewing, quadcopters, 3D printing, and who knows what else!
We updated Spy Tools for Kids to fix a glitch that caused the app to crash on some iPhones when picking an existing photo for the disguise kit or fake id kit. We also cleaned up a few visual things when running on iOS 7.
With NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) approaching, this is a good time to point out that three of our popular writing apps are available on Google Play for Android devices including the Nexus 7 tablet. Our NaNoWriMo experiences before forming Thinkamingo actually lead to our focus on building writing apps, so it’s always neat to see others using our apps to help hit their word count.
I actually carry a Nexus 7 (2012) and use it daily. I didn’t attempt NaNoWriMo last year, but I have written quite a bit on my Nexus 7. The Microsoft Wedge bluetooth keyboard makes a great companion for wireless writing on the Nexus 7. Though it is intended for Windows tablets, it matches the Nexus 7 (2012) style very well and is large enough to actually type on. I also have one of these cover-style keyboards as well but it’s pretty hard to type on. While I’ve tried the different Android office suites, I write most of my text in Evernote because it syncs so well to my other devices. I’m still not certain whether I will attempt NaNoWriMo 2013, but if I do, my Nexus 7 will get a lot of use.
Lists for Writers is a collection of lists to rapidly brainstorm ideas for characters, settings, and plots. The iPad version has been repeatedly featured by Apple and blogs like Cult of Mac and MakeUseOf.
Story Dice is a visual brainstorming tool. It simulates rolling dice with 140 different die face pictures to come up with combinations a writer can connect to come up with new plot or character ideas.
Name Dice is a simple tool for generating character name ideas. It provides random combinations of first and last names that have been surprisingly effective for a lot of writers. Best of all – it’s FREE!
I love my iPad. This year, I’m going to do something crazy. I’m going to leave my writing dungeon and get out and about while writing for NaNoWriMo. November weather in Florida is notoriously stunning, so I’m going to attempt to soak in some of that and still get some writing done.
I am pretty handy with my iPad onscreen keyboard, but for this lengthy task, I will be using a combination of bluetooth keyboard with Dragon dictation. Some of you might argue that Dragon is not very accurate, but I will argue right back that the goal of NaNoWriMo is get 50K words of a novel done in November. Once December rolls around, I can start the editing process.
I plan to do the actual writing on my iPad2, and use tools on my phone to help me get past my sporadic and annoying bouts of writer’s block, as well as helping me in the editing process in December, which I will do completely on my laptop.
Here are my favorite mobile apps for NaNoWriMo!
Lists for Writers – Hands down this is my favorite. Yes, I’m biased because I helped make it, but it was born out of our collection of lists from years of working on NaNoWriMo! It has always delivered in time of need!
Story Spark – This app generates scenarios. Most of the time, this app just sparks another idea for the story I’m already writing. However, I have used this to write short fictions to get in the groove or get unstuck.
Name Dice – You can’t beat this free app for realistic name combinations. I use this all the time to create placeholder names when I can’t decide on a final name for a character. You just never know when the perfect name will come up!
Story Dice – Not sure what happens next in your story? Roll the story dice for a random idea/object to weave into your plot.
Spooky Story Dice – This is a special edition of Story Dice with 25+ slightly more sinister die faces included. Great for horror writing or even a lightly spooky tale for kids.
Spy Tools for Kids – This is a new one for me to use with writing projects. One of the tools in this app is a fake ID maker. You can create driver licenses, passports, and spy agency IDs. I plan to use this by creating passports and/or driver licenses for all of my characters. They are really easy to make, and I can save the images to my camera roll to use elsewhere. I might even print them out for fun!
I use a few other apps including Evernote, Dropbox, and Flipboard. If you aren’t already using these all the time, get with the program and get them! Free!