Compliments of the season to one and all. This is a little late for Christmas greetings, but I have been busy. Perhaps I should also add that there has been one more day to celebrate - for me, at least. Boxing Day was my birthday.
Things have been moving on the book front. 'The Author's Manual' has sold its first copies. It was never going to be a big seller because it is a small reference work, designed to help would-be authors get started. Some new writers should find useful information therein. 'The Power of Four Queens' has also started selling.
More significant developments have occurred on the word processor front. Ever since I bought my current computer (an Apple iMac), my word processor of choice has been Apple's own Pages, which was everything I ever wanted in a tool to enable me to write books. I also have Microsoft Word, which I respect as a writing tool, but have never liked. On occasion, I have also dabbled with the free-to-use Google Docs, Open Office and its near-identical twin, Libre Office. It was always Pages that I settled on, however, because it had that magical quality of letting me put everything where I wanted it to be without trying to make me do things its way. In short, it made itself available to me and let me get on with it.
Last autumn, however, Apple put a spanner in the works. They introduced a new version of their operating system, OS X, called Mavericks. This had been expected for months, so I downloaded it straight away to find that, other than the inclusion of iBooks and Apple Maps in the Dock, not much else seems to have changed. One thing that did, however, was the hitherto unannounced arrival of an all new, and completely rewritten, iWork (the office suite that includes Pages). The new Pages has a completely new (and admittedly pretty) interface, is now fully 64-bit compliant (whatever that means), has enhanced picture-handling facilities - but has also had its word processing capabilities slashed to the point where it is really no more use than the simple Google Docs to the serious writer. There has been a huge furore stirred up in their forums and the company have pledged to restore some of the missing features (and have, partly delivered on that), but it remains a crippled shadow of its former self, dressed up in a pretty new frock. Although it is still possible (just) to write an ebook in the new Pages, producing a conventional paper book is out of the question without exporting your manuscript to Word first because the new Pages has no facility to format for facing pages any more. You see my dilemma?
A trawl through the protests in the Apple forums revealed the existence of a word processor that I had never heard of before. It is called Nisus Writer Pro. It is a pay program (it costs about £55), but it is based on Libre Office Writer, for which I have little real love because of its clunky, poorly laid out interface. Nisus, however, is available on a fifteen day, no obligation, free trial. What did I have to lose?
The good news about Libre Office Writer, which supplies the source code, is that it is as powerful as Word. It does everything. What Nisus have done is take the free software and replace the clunky old interface with a smart, slick new one (which is what you pay for). The result is a revelation. Nisus Writer Pro is a powerful, fast application that simply makes its facilities available to you and lets you get on with it. It is the best word processor I have ever used. I didn't wait the fifteen days. I coughed up after four.
There were teething problems - partly caused my my Kindle unexpectedly dying on me just before Christmas and having to be replaced by a Mr. S. Claus - but they are sorted now and I am writing my new book, 'Rutter's Redemption' in pure Nisus - the best word processor that money can buy in my opinion.
Writer of Fantasy, thrillers, comedy - and anything else that takes my fancy.