Jennifer's Journal


Thursday, October 27, 2011

Not a Dry Eye in the House

You sit at your computer where you’ve been all day—or half the night. Your eyes are stinging or burning. As you rub them, you think: Eyestrain—I really should look away from the screen more often. Or maybe you fear your eyesight is failing and you’ll soon need glasses or stronger lenses. You could be right on either count--but the most likely culprit is something called dry eye syndrome.

On the last visit to my optometrist, he asked if my eyes ever itched or burned while writing; it seems he’d noticed redness. The most likely trouble, he said, was a common one for those who work with computers on a daily basis, particularly writers who enter deep concentration mode. As we sit thinking, deep in our stories, our blink rate slows to near nothing. Blinking is the mechanism which spreads moisture from special glands around eyes, sweeping it over the surfaces of our eyeballs. Failure to blink means a lack of moisture to keep the eyes from drying out, therefore, dry eyes—eyes so parched they itch and burn.

So what’s the solution? Before beginning work each day, he said, and any time you feel eye discomfort, apply a drop or two of over-the-counter eye moisturizer, or artificial teardrops, to each eye. Your eyes will feel better, and you'll be able to work longer.

Other causes for dry eye syndrome do exist. For more information see:

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Monday, October 24, 2011

Apps for Writers - OmmWriter

It sounds like a fine idea, an app with a serene, non-distracting writing surface designed to encourage concentration in keeping with the OmmWriter name. And the app lives up to its basic promise, with a gray-white, wintery background featuring muted skeletons of trees and softly falling snow. Very pretty, even soothing, with no distractions from color, noise, ads or strident graphics. For those forced to write in the midst of chaos, it might be beneficial. Also on the plus side, the app does include automatic save and the ability to add accent marks for multiple languages.

For me, however, the sense of serenity--the main reason for buying the app--was banished by frustration over the lack of utility. The keyboard, though adequate for simple typing, did not have the interactive features of the normal Apple keyboard, such as automatic recognition of contractions, intelligent toggling between letters and numbers, highlighting for typos and misspellings, and suggestions for one-touch corrections. The rationale for leaving these off is that such functions encourage editing, so take the writer out of The Zone. Maybe. But if you’re used to having them, their absence is felt. The greatest problem, however, came from trying to transfer newly created text to a standard word processing program. OmmWriter has no built-in email capability, so text must be selected, copied, and then pasted into a different app for that action.

These things may sound fairly minor, and they might be in a free app. But OmmWriter is $4.99 in the iTunes app store.  At that price point, it should be something more than nice virtual stationery.

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Friday, October 21, 2011

Apps for Writers

Writing is work, and anything that can aid the process gets my attention.  One of the great things I've discovered lately is the little yellow "legal pad", or note-taking app, that comes with the iPad, iPhone and iPod.  This app is always there as long as you have your device with you, instantly available while the device is turned on.  You can capture story ideas on the run, jot down dialogue between characters, make notes on research details, plan future scenes--the possibilities are endless.  Need to create a large block of text?  The space is available.  You also have the ability to change to a new page, or navigate between pages, to work with separate ideas.  True, the touch keypad may never be as fast as touch typing, but those used to text messaging can build up impressive speed.  And you can't beat the convenience of being able to work wherever you are, whether stuck in traffic, sitting in bed or in a boat on the lake, waiting in a doctor's office, or anywhere else in the world.   No need to worry about saving what you’ve written, either; the app does that for you automatically.  Once you’re done, getting the written text from the device to your working computer couldn’t be easier; you just email it to yourself using the built-in capability.  The more you use this app, the more you’ll find to do with it.

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Sunday, October 09, 2011

The Jennifer Blake Newsletter, October 2011


The newsflash for this month is that SEDUCED BY GRACE, final book of the Graces Trilogy, was released on September 27, so is now officially “gracing” the book racks along with Books 1 & 2, BY HIS MAJESTY’S GRACE and BY GRACE POSSESSED. Reviews continue to be gratifying. Harriet Klausner, well-known for hundreds of reviews for and said: “The final Graces medieval romance is an engaging historical that combines love, honor and intrigue into an exhilarating thriller. The lead couple is delightful…Jennifer Blake is three for three as she provides another charming fascinating late fifteenth century tale.”

When SEDUCED BY GRACE made its official debut, I was in Colorado for the autumn turning of the aspens. It was an RV trip with my husband, my brother-in-law and his wife—Jerry and I in our Navion motor home, Eddie and LaDell with their 5th wheel rig. The weather was wonderful, a great escape from the heat of Louisiana. As for the leaves, we could not have caught them more perfectly if Mother Nature herself had planned our trip. The mountains were on fire with bright yellow and spots of orange and vermillion against the dark green of fir and spruce. We spent a while in Taos, New Mexico then went northward to the Buena Vista–Leadville area of Colorado. After several days of driving winding roads while “ohhing and ahhing” at the grand golden vistas, we then went south again to Antonito where we had reservations on the Cumbres-Toltec narrow gauge railway, a train pulled by one of the few coal-powered steam locomotives left in the country. This was an all-day trip over the mountains to Chama, New Mexico past deep canyons and over high, winding passes alive with color. At one point, it began to rain—then to sleet! From Antonito we went west to the Four Corners area where we visited the Anasazi Heritage Center near Cortez and the ancient pueblo ruins of Hovenweep. Photos from this trip (I took 475!) will be posted on Facebook as soon as I can get that done, and a few will accompany this news letter when it’s posted to Jennifer’s Journal, the blog on my web site.

Meanwhile, a blog post about how I came to create a Scots hero in a kilt for Graces Book 2, BY GRACE POSSESSED, is now available. You can access this and a story excerpt on the RT Book Reviews web site at: Also, Eye on Romance ( will be doing a special promotion for SEDUCED BY GRACE beginning tomorrow, one which includes an e-card with review quotes, a “Sizzling Scene” excerpt, and a Romance Preview featuring five days of excerpts, or the complete Chapter 1, delivered to your email box. You can still sign up for these goodies if you hurry. Just click to receive the Eye on Romance newsletter.

In other news, I’ve agreed to be part of the 30-year retrospective for the romance industry at the RT Book Reviews Chicago conference in April of next year. For the event, I’ll be appearing on a panel about the history of the romance novel with Roseanne Bittner, Patricia Rice, Mary Balogh and Kathryn Falk. I’ll also participate in an “Author Chat” session with Loretta Chase and Mary Balogh, answering any and all questions from readers in the audience.

Between following the trilogy through the publication process, packing for travel, traveling, and then unpacking, I’ve done little new work this month—or this summer, for that matter. The urge is growing, however, and I’ll begin soon. With a little luck, I’ll have something new to report on that front next month.

With warmest wishes for all the color and cool glory of fall wherever you are,

Jennifer Blake!/profile.php?id=100000468533638

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