Where I Write

I use a laptop so most of the time I write on my lunch break, somewhere secluded where I won’t be interrupted. Noise cancelling headphones pipe music from the playlist on Spotify that I create for each novel I write. I use either GoogleDocs or Libre Office’s Write, which is a free word processor very much like MS Word. I use Ubuntu on my laptop. I use a Microsoft keyboard and an HP wireless mouse. My external monitor is an HP. When I write at home, I sit at an oak wood writing desk that belongs to my wife and looks out into our backyard from our master bedroom.

There are some books on writing craft, a water bottle and sometimes a speaker for guitar jamming breaks. Someday, when my kids leave the house, I will get my own writing den. But that’s not likely to happen for quite a few years on.

I made the switch to Linux from Mac years ago and have never looked back. There’s nothing that I can’t do on Linux. I don’t game or enjoy spending money on proprietary software and I hate dealing with viruses. So work gets done and I don’t have to mess with the OS very much.

I’ve never used Windows to write my novels. I used the hell out of an old white plastic MacBook, but Apple decided not to support it and the case literally fell apart over time. So I went back to Linux. I’ve used all kinds of distros but have settled on Ubuntu because I just don’t like to mess with all that anymore.

Plume Creator Dark Theme Preview

Those of you writers out there using the fantastic writing tool – Plume Creator are in for a treat in an upcoming release. Plume is getting themes and that means a dark version is in the works. I’ve been helping the developer, Cyril, work out a dark theme for the Linux version of Plume. Below is an early screenshot showing the unfinished theme.

So what do you think? Are we on the right track?

If you have any UI or design experience please leave a comment with your constructive criticism. We aim to please!

New Version of Plume Creator Released


Version 0.61 Beta of Plume Creator has hit the download servers at Sourceforge. Get it while it’s hot!

Lots of attention has been placed on the look and feel of this release. If you are a writer who likes the idea of a Scrivener type program, but needs it to work on Linux like I do, this program is well worth the effort to get and start using. It’s also available to Windows users.

I’m one of a handful of people helping the developer, Cyril Jacquet, test the program. In fact, I’ve been using Plume Creator to write my latest novel and absolutely loving it. This is still beta software, but I’ve never had it completely botch my novel. Normal backups guarantee that peace of mind.

Cyril is very open to suggestions in making the program better, so if while using it you think of a way to improve it, let him know. You could see that feature in a future release! Plume is Open Source and uses the QT libraries, the same as KDE. As you can see in the above screenshot, it looks fabulous in Unity.

Liferea My New RSS Feed Reader

I don’t often read my RSS feeds as much as I used to. I just don’t have the time every day to read it. But I do like to catch up at the end of the week with a list of blogs that I follow on a range of topics.

I was using Google’s Reader product for years but that went away. So rather than bitch and moan on the social networks, I just switched to a Linux based reader that I use mostly at home. It’s called Liferea and here’s a shot of it in action on my laptop.

I was able to export all my feeds from Google and import them into Liferea with no issues at all. Since I don’t really need a web based client for my RSS feeds, I think this will suit me  for now.

If you don’t need web access for your feeds, a client side program like this might just work for you too. You can pick up Liferea in the Ubuntu Software Center.


Sublime Text – Setup

I’ve recently converted my coding text editor to Sublime Text. This post is a reference for if I have to set it up again. The editor can be used on any OS and looks particularly nice on all of them. It’s also a Python program. (This post subject to updates, as I find nifty plugins)

Get it here: Sublime Text

Reference this blog post for common plugins and general tomfoolery.

Package Control

HTML auto fill.

GIT plugin.

Code Completion plugin.

Lint plugin.

Make Sublime your default editor in Ubuntu.

Make your default Monokai theme have a dark side bar.




I’ve put my latest novel, The Rising, on GitHub. For the non-programmers out there, GitHub is a web based front end for the most popular Open Source code repository. Translated, that means that my novel is now being backed up in a version control system that you can browse from the web.

What was I thinking? Well, a couple of things. First of all, it’s a great way to back up your writing off-site and in the cloud. I already save my files in DropBox. But using a version controlled system is just another way to record my changes while I back it up. Git is a  open source program written by Linux Torvalds, that guy who wrote Linux. You may have heard of that Operating System.

Secondly, a side benefit of using GitHub is that the public can check out what you’ve been doing. The file that I commit is actually a text dump of all my notes, synopsis and actual chapters. All of that is combined into one, slightly lumpy, slightly more information than you may need file.

I use the program, Plume Creator for my writing. Plume lets me outline and keep notes on each chapter and each scene that I write. This text dump includes it all in a single file. If you plan on following along as I write, good luck to you. But if anyone wants a record of how I write a novel, this Git repository will have it all. I plan on uploading it every week.

At this time I’m just committing this file manually, but in the future, I’ll be making a python update script.

Writing Tools on Ubuntu

When you come to Ubuntu from the Mac or Windows worlds, you start looking around for programs that you used on your old system. Sometimes you easily find versions of your favorite tools and sometimes it can be a challenge and lead to frustration. This post will help you find the programs that I use when I write fiction. They are not in any particular order.


My primary writing application is Plume Creator. It works like Scrivener, so if you use that tool, you will feel at home with it. You can get it here and just double click on the file after it downloads to bring up the Ubuntu Software Center to install it.

I also use LibreOffice and that comes pre-installed with Ubuntu. This is the equivalent of Microsoft Office for most writer’s needs. Comes with spreadsheet apps and a word processor that works just like Word.

Another great writing program is Focus Writer.

For simple and quick plain text editing, I use Scribes.


My favorite dictionary is GoldenDict and you can find that in the Ubuntu Software Center. I like it because it lets you use various online sources including the Urban Dictionary and Wikipedia. I always have this app open full screen on its own desktop.

AiksaurausGTK is a thesaurus and nothing else. Again, this baby is open when I’m writing. You can find that in the Ubuntu Software Center.

Image Manipulation

If you are like most writers, you have lots of images that you use for inspiration when you write. I store mine in my novel folder on Dropbox. When I need to view them, I use ImageViewer which is built in to the OS. When I want to modify them quickly, I use Pinta Image Manipulator. Pinta is in the Ubuntu Software Center but you should make sure you get the latest 1.4 version for best results. This is actually based on the code used for Paint Plus on Windows.

If you are serious about Photoshopping something, use Gimp. You can find that in the Ubuntu Software Center. The latest version of Gimp is pretty awesome.

Lastly, I use Inkscape to do any vector based images, like maps. You can find that in the Ubuntu Software Center.

Ebook Creation

I no longer build up my own ebooks, but when I need a quick one made, I use Sigil. I also have been known to dable with Calibre for ebook organizing on my laptop.


These days, I’m always using my phone to take notes. I use Evernote on that and on my Ubuntu, I sync with Evernote using EverPad. EverPad even has a lens. So be warned, Lensmen!  Okay, bad Sci-Fi joke.

Of course Dropbox is well integrated into Ubuntu and I recommend everyone use it or UbuntuOne to back up your writing.

That’s just about all the apps that I use when I write or work on author related things. If you can think of anything else to add, please leave a  comment and tell us about it.

The Humble Indie Bundle 6 for Linux

I’m not really a gamer, but I buy games on Linux sometimes to support the idea. We need more gamers on Linux. Gamers bring expectations for better graphics, hear that nVidia? Which brings better performance for desktop users, like me.

So if you’re looking for a review of the latest games in the Humble Indie Bundle, you’ll have to talk to my kids. They’ve only played a few of them so far, but they seemed entertained. I’ll put some of them on the netbook that my 9 year old uses. It’s running the latest Ubuntu right now.

Currently, the Humble games are on my Dell XPS, the fastest computer at the McConnell household. Of course this means the games run very fast and crisp. I think gamers on a modern computer using Linux will be quite pleased.

My only suggestion for Ubuntu in particular, is that they need to better integrate the bundled games into the software center. You shouldn’t get a click yes to purchase button after you have already been charged by Humble for the games. I didn’t install the first game for quite some time, as I thought it would charge me a second time. Not good.

It should be noted that the gaming engine Unity, is coming to Linux soon. So now you can build your own indie games on Linux. Very cool.  Also – watch the Indie Game documentary!

One last item of note about the Humble Bundle in particular is about the average price that Linux users are footing for these games. It’s close to $10.00 and way, way more than Mac and Windows users are choosing to pay for them. So much for Linux nerds only wanting free stuff.