Sunday, April 12, 2009

Ye Olde Backups, Anyone?

Once upon a time, in the cramped tower of a dank English castle, the very prolific Duke de' Author was frantically working to protect his greatest literary efforts from being lost to the ages.

How, you might ask?

Minions, or “Scribes” if you would be kinder. Those Scribes were four brothers from the family “Drive”; -- Jump, Flash, Memory, & Thumb. They were of differing sizes and shapes, these drives, each perhaps rounder, or stubbier, smaller or larger than his brothers. They each were capable of carrying different loads, but they all served the same purpose. The good Count used them to create exact copies of his works. He then dispatched them to different locations, that they might not be all caught up together and destroyed in some act of catastrophe, malice, or more likely, simple duncery.

One did he send to his brother's home in the next town. Another did he send to his mother, to prove that he wasn't just up in his room goofing off all day and night. One he sent only to the other side of the castle, that he might be kept close in case of... well, you know, duncery.

Today those scribes have been replaced by the bits and bytes of the computer age, which makes them much cheaper to feed, though sometimes harder to keep track of. But, they are no less important. “Jump Drive”, “Flash Drive”, “Thumb Drive”, & their now cousin “Memory Stick” (There was some family ugliness. We don't talk about it.) Anyway, they are merely different names for devices that perform the same function; saving, storing and transporting copies of your work.

You'll find them at stores in town and online for anywhere from “free with purchase of” or $10 - $100. They can be personalized with your name, phone number and/or email address, which might help if you leave them in an airport. (Oh, yes I did, and TSA called me.) You might even want to put the name of the contents to be stored on them on the drive. It makes life easier after you've collected a few of them. For security's sake, you can find them with password and biometric (a thumb print) protection, to prevent access. (Yeah. The TSA one.)

They usually plug in to the USB port on your computer – whether MAC, or PC, Laptop or Desktop. (It's square, a bit smaller than two dimes stacked atop each other & is marked with a type of trident symbol. See the picture.)

Plug it in, give it a few moments to load itself and it will show up in your list of available drives. Then click on the files and drag them over into that drive. Make sure you copy, and not just “move” them. Now, remove the drive and put it somewhere safe. If you want to keep one nearby, great. (Did I mention duncery? )

However, be sure to keep a copy somewhere away from the others as well, say somewhere outside the house, just in case you experience one of those “Auntie Em! Auntie Em!” events.

One other important note for writers-- You might want to get in the habit of working from one set of files ONLY. Be sure to regularly save copies to your back up drives. You might also want to keep ONE copy of the most recent version, clearly marked. However, if you start keeping too many versions around, it is easy to find yourself with a dozen different versions of the work. Very confusing.

Also, back up drives are a great way to store and maintain copies of all your important documents.

For not much more than the cost of a coffee and a piece of cake, you can have peace of mind.

And hey, no scribes to feed.

As always, if you have a question or comment, please, drop me a line!

See you in Nashville

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Killer Nashville News

By Beth Terrell

Last month, I went to a lecture at the Frist Museum of Art. It was on psychopathy and how psychopaths respond differently to photos and paintings with emotional content than "normal" people do. The lecture was given by a Vanderbilt psychology professor named Stephen Benning. It was fascinating. Of course, throughout the lecture, all I could think was, "Gosh, this guy is great! I wonder if I can get him for Killer Nashville?"

Happily, the answer was yes; Dr. Benning will be giving a presentation on the two faces of psychopathy on Friday, August 14, 2009 at this year's Killer Nashville Conference. Our tentative schedule also includes sessions on poisons, blood spatter evidence, forensic anthropology, solving cold cases, what PIs really do, the life of a bounty hunter, how the FBI and TBI catch the worst of the worst, how modern technology is used by criminals and those who catch them, and much, much more.

For published or aspiring writers, Butch Wilson will conduct two exciting sessions for those who would like to optimize their use of online resources.

Software for Starving Authors --

Come, learn about free and almost free software you can use to make your writer's life easier and more productive. This session isn’t selling anything. We'll talk about software and hardware, tips, tricks and tools for writing, for story tracking, and ways to keep your hard work safe.

All attendees will leave with a copy of most, if not all, of the software discussed. And information on how to obtain all of it.

A Writer's Life on the "The Web" --

Should I have a website? What about a blog? Wait -- I don't even know what an LOL, IMO, WYSIWYG, BLOG, TWITTER, FACEBOOK even is! How do I do it? SHOULD I do it?

You've got questions. We'll have answers. And, we'll learn how to find even more answers for yourself. If sufficient internet access is available, everyone who wishes to will leave with their own place on the web. This session isn't selling anything. There's nothing you have to buy to put yourself, or your work, out there on the web. All attendees will leave with a copy of most, if not all, of the software discussed. (Note: This session is BYOL - Bring Your Own Laptop. It isn't a requirement, but it wouldn't hurt.)

We'll also have a great lineup of sessions on the craft of writing and how to market your book once you've finished it.

To take advantage of the early bird discount, register before May 31.

So what else is new with us?

Well, if you've checked out the website lately, you know that the 2009 Guest of Honor is New York Times bestselling author J.A. Jance. Jance is the author of more than 32 books and has over a million copies of her books in print. To learn more about her and her work, check out her website at http://www, There will be a Guest of Honor dinner at Sperry's on Saturday, August 15. Seating is limited, so guests will be selected on a first-come, first-served basis.

As many of you know, we unveiled the Silver Falchion Award in 2008. If you're a registered attendee with a book published for the first time between August 2008 and August 2009, you can nominate that book for the Silver Falchion. In 2009, we unveil the Claymore Dagger award for the best first 50 pages of an unpublished manuscript that is not under contract. The prize is an engraved replica of a Claymore Dagger and consideration for publication by Avalon Books, which is partnering with us for this year's contest. The deadline for the Claymore Dagger is coming up in May. For more details about either award, check out our website at, or use the link to the right.

Finally, our fledgling blog is beginning to take flight. On the first of every month, I'll give a news update. On the 7th, graphic novelist and independent filmmaker Phillip Lacy will write a monthly column. On the 10th, we'll hear from Sheila L. Stephens, long-term law-enforcement professional and author of The Everything Private Investigation Book. Sheila was the first female Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) agent in the state of Alabama, and one of the first in the nation. After leaving the ATF due to injury, she opened a private detective agency; she is also a criminal justice professor at Andrew Jackson University. On the 14th, Butch Wilson will offer advice, information, and reviews about computer software for writers. On the 21st, Killer Nashville producer, author, and filmmaker Clay Stafford will write a monthly column, beginning with a series of articles sharing his vision of the conference and what makes it unique. In between, we plan to have guest bloggers, book reviews, and interviews with Killer Nashville attendees, speakers, and volunteers. So check back often, feel free to comment, and if you'd like to contribute an article or volunteer for an interview, be sure to let me know ( Or, join the Killer Nashville group on Facebook. It's a whole new frontier!

See you soon.