Wednesday, March 21, 2012

AlphaSmart + SpeedBo = Win-Win!!!

Debby works on her AlphaSmart.
Debby Giusti here!

Anyone who has stopped by Seekerville in the last month knows we’re in the middle of SpeedBo.  At least 118 writers have been feverishly cranking out pages to complete—or come close to completing—a book in a month.  Read through the blog comments each day, and you’ll be inspired by the hard work and persistence of the committed folks pushing forward to the finish line. 

Our techniques vary.  Some write early in the morning; others turn on their computers late at night.  Pantsers rely on a flow of inspiration with seemingly little prior planning, while plotters work from a detailed outline that guides them as they write. No matter how we attack the SpeedBo challenge, the final result is increasing our page tally and eventually typing THE END on our stories.

Ask writers about the tools they use to enhance their creativity and up their daily page count, and they might mention a good laptop or a Netbook, perhaps even an iPad. 

For me, it’s my AlphaSmart.  The word processor was developed in 1992 by two engineers, who had previously worked for Apple Computer.  According to Wikipedia, their goal was to "deliver affordable, lightweight, rugged portable computing devices."  While the AlphaSmart was initially created for classroom use, the company soon realized their product appealed to writers, as well.
AlphaSmart 3000
AlphaSmart, Inc, eventually sold to Renaissance Learning and changed their name to NEO Direct, Inc. Their newest model, the NEO2, comes with a built-in spell check, thesaurus and calculator as well as wireless printing capability.
Another favorite, the Dana, has more bells and whistles, and according to the company, is the “Ultimate Palm-Powered Writing Tool.” 

The Dana
I have the AlphaSmart 3000, an older model that has served me well for almost ten years. The screen shows only a few lines of text, and the simple commands prevent me from editing my work so I just keep writing…and writing…and writing. 

Each of its eight files holds 23 to 24 typewritten pages, which can be downloaded, via a USB cable, to my computer.  Do the math.  For a 300-page manuscript, I need to fill 12 files. After completing ten books, I now see the story laid out in 24-page increments and can judge my progress by how many files I’ve filled. 
My Alpha runs on three AA batteries. Since it weighs less than two pounds, I can take it anywhere and work no matter where I go—while in the carpool line or at the doctor’s office, even standing in the kitchen, waiting for water to boil. 

Over the past few months, I’ve tried to change my writing method and go to a daily page count of clean copy, like some of our more productive Seekers. But what works for them left me frustrated and blocked.
When we started blogging about SpeedBo, I still had more than half of my current book to finish.  Needing to jump start my production rate, I reached, once again, for my AlphaSmart. 

As the files filled, I breathed a sigh of relief and realized writing a fast first draft is the way I work best.  Yes, the draft requires heavy edits, but when I have words on the page, I can see the story unfold and know where changes need to be made.
With only ten days left in March, I’ve been reflecting on what I’ve learned this month. The most important lesson is that I need to trust myself and the way I write.  The AlphaSmart allows me to push forward and get pages written in a timely manner without stopping to edit. In my opinion, that spells success. 

Wave if you’re an AlphaSmart fan.  If not, tell us about your favorite writing tool.  Also, share what you’ve learned so far from SpeedBo.

Leave a comment to be entered in a drawing for one of my books, winners choice.

The coffee’s on, and the breakfast bar is open.  Today’s menu is for busy writers:  hard boiled eggs, bagels with cream cheese and jelly, an assortment of pastries, fresh fruit and grits.  Pour a cup of coffee.  Fill your plate and let’s talk about SpeedBo!

Wishing you abundant blessings,               
Debby Giusti
When one of his soldiers is killed by live ammunition during what was supposed to be a simple training exercise, Captain Phil Thibodeaux wants answers. Even if it means working with the Criminal Investigation Division that seems certain to pin the blame on him. But after CID agent Kelly McQueen defends his conduct, Phil realizes that there’s more to the dedicated agent than meets the eye. Maybe she’s someone he can trust, after all. And he’ll need
someone to rely on as investigations lead him to doubt everyone elseeven his own soldiers.
Military Investigations: Serving their country and solving crimes. 

Join Debby at Barbara Vey’s Readers Appreciation Luncheon, April 10, in Milwaukee, WI.  Make your reservation at

Today is another day of our March Speedbo. Find out more about Speedbo and our exciting weekly prizes here. Comment today for a chance to win! Winners announced in the Weekend Edition.


  1. I don't have an AlphaSmart.

    I've learned from Speedbo that it's nigh onto impossible to teach old birds new tricks, at least this one. I'm gaining some words over my standard rate, but I'm still a plodder. I have to stop to ponder scenes and check details way too much. But I finish with fairly clean copy.

    The one thing that doesn't change is that I ALWAYS finish. I have never started a ms that I didn't finish. If I don't get this one done by March 31, which seems highly likely, I WILL finish it.

    Iced tea and soda are in good supply, since you've taken care of the coffee.


  2. I love the Alphasmart and have the 3000 just like yours, Debbie!

    Since my laptop is an Apple, it feels like I have to use too much pressure to press the Alpha's keys sometimes, though.

    An Alphasmart is the best way for me to stop self-editing.

    Doing the 1000 words in an hour on Twitter with a group of people (which I learned about here on Seekerville) is also very effective.

    I didn't take up your challenge, partly because I've got kids in school and March is their spring break. It would be frustrating, since I have to do quite a bit of preparation on various fronts the week before spring break.

    I hope everyone's doing well with their goals!

  3. Hi Debby:

    I learned that 5-sensing does more than make writing more vivid: it changes the story.

    I needed sounds in my cabin story so I added wind chimes. These triggered memories in the hero that I didn’t know he had. The music also mirrored the inner states of the characters. From active to silent the chimes foreshadowed changes in the story movement. I added a Black Forest cuckoo clock that just happened to make editorial comments by cuckooing at just the right time. The heroine said something. The clock cuckooed. The hero said, “You got that right bird.”

    I learned the heroine did not know what a percolator was. I learned that the hero could hear the heroine’s foot tapping under the dinette table and this acted like a porker tell providing him with insights into what she was thinking and feeling.

    I needed smells and found out the hero had trained himself on his sister's perfumes. He could recognize the popular brands and he could tell by the perfume how a date might react on a date. He also could tell how different emotional states changed how perfume smells over a few hour period.

    These are just a few things that adding all the senses to a scene can change the story into something richer and more meaningful. It can also make the job of editing an almost endless process.

    I also learned that writing a 55,500 word first draft is probably only 5% along the road to finishing the novel.

    Actually, what I have learned is going to cause me to make changes in my RPP book. I’ll need an Appendix on the dynamic power of 5-sensig or going beyond making your copy come alive.


    P.S. I just loved my AlphaSmart 3000 but I bought it used and unfortunately it turns itself off any time I tilt it even slightly. It would be nice if I could really use it. : (

  4. My husband,( yes the same on I was just complaining about ) had some free software coming from the company he buys preacher stuff from. He could have gotten something fun for himself but he got me "Write your Own Novel" soft ware. It has lots of good stuff, word count, character generators, names, ideas spellchecker,tips, submissions trackers, and all kinds of fun stuff. Lots more than I mentioned, background color, event tracker a spot to jot ideas all kinds of stuff. I use it, probably not to its full advantage and sometimes it messes me up but it's kind of cool.

  5. Stuff, I need a new word for stuff. I think sometimes I do best with a pencil and paper.

  6. Helen,
    "You can't teach old birds new tricks."
    I agree! That's what I was trying to do. Teach myself a new way to produce a story, and it didn't work for me.

    I'm envious of your finished clean copy. But that's not the way I write.

    We're all unique, aren't we? And special. Thanks for the iced tea and soda!

  7. You know I had never heard of an Alphasmart before coming to seekers (brb googling it to see is its in australia) ok you can get it here.
    its also learning how different authors write.
    I was in a cooking mood today and have gingerbread cookies, sugar cookies and some made with the cookie forcer.

  8. I don't have an AlphaSmart, but it looks like a really handy tool.

    I've struggled with Speedbo this month and I've been wondering why. True, I've had some major setbacks such as my computer being out of commission for a week, construction in my home forcing me to do more housework than normal, travel, blah, blah, blah...

    But I think I've hit upon something that I haven't realized before. When I wrote my first ms, I was clueless. I just wrote and loved it. I didn't know rules, structure, characterization, etc. But know that I KNOW more, I am almost paralyzed.

    My personality tends to be a rule follower...oh yes, I would have made an awesome Pharisee, I'm sure. So I think in order to write now, I need me one super-duper structured outline to follow.

    I've been pantsing it this month..or rather, I've been a mister!!!...and I am floundering. I don't know where I am going in the ms and basically, don't want to rewrite the whole the story because of major flaws. yall charge for therapy sessions????

    Sorry about spewing my heavy thoughts this morning, but Speedbo really is teaching me alot, even if the word count is not so great. (Confession...I haven't written in 2 days.)

    Slap on the hand!

    Thanks for making me think. :)

  9. YAY, Cathy! Another Alpha user!!! The 3000 is a great model. A real work horse.

    I hear you about the hard key strokes. But I think that's because we're used to the easy touch of a laptop or computer keyboard.

    After almost ten years of use, I'm having a bit of trouble with the USB connection on the cable that connects my Alpha to my PC. Not sure if the cable is getting worn or if its my USB port. So far, that's the only problem I've had with the Alpha.

    Hope you had fun on Spring Break!

  10. Vince,
    Great comments about adding the 5 senses to a story to make it a richer read. Love the perfume and foot tapping. Reminds me of the old concept of layering the onion. You're adding the special touches to your story to make it come alive.

    Instead of an Appendix to your RPP, 5-sensing might be the perfect topic for your second how-to book!

    Sorry about your Alpha problem. Have you contacted the company to see if it can be repaired?

  11. Vince wrote, "I also learned that writing a 55,500 word first draft is probably only 5% along the road to finishing the novel."


  12. Hi Mary,

    The "Write Your Own Novel" software sounds interesting.

    I did a google search and found British software by that name from AvanQuest:

    Is that the one you use?

    Great job on the blog yesterday!!!

  13. Ausjenny,

    Thanks for the cookies!!! YUM!

    What's a cookie forcer?

    How's the weather Down Under? Georgia is covered in yellow pine pollen. It's everywhere, and the air is thick with it!!! Everyone is coughing and hoping for rain.

  14. Hi Debby!

    I don't have an AlphaSmart, and I don't think it would work for me. Not sure I'd be able to type with only a few lines in front of me. I like to see the whole picture.

    But I'm glad it works for those who use it and the lightweight structure sounds wonderful.

    The thing I've learned is sometimes I can get too much great information. This was revealed to me a few days ago when my hands were hovered over the keyboard and I was running through too many checklists and not getting the great scene my characters were giving me down. I finally shook off all the "there should be this, and don't forget that, and if this other isn't included you can kiss publication goodbye," and I just wrote the scene the way the characters told me. It turned out great, IMHO.


  15. Hi Debby was trying to think of the name for and think you may call it a cookie press. its a round tube and at one end has cookie shapes and the other end is the press and you press it down a little like a pump and it pushes the dough out of the end with the cutter. here is a link to one

    the weather is cooler today. the past few days were in the 90's today high 60's. about the same tomorrow. we had rain over night. infact til last Wednesday night I almost forgot what rain was and we got more overnight last night. Cant say I am looking forward to the cooler weather. I do like days around the 80 degrees.
    Hopefully April/May 2013 I will get to Georgia and see what your weathers like. (thats the plan my friends in Rossville). Anyway its my bedtime and seeing as its cooler tonight should be good sleeping weather.

  16. Thanks for more insight!
    I had my best SpeedBo day so far yesterday with *gasp* very little editing. That is what slows me down.

    (But I LIKE editing!!!)

    Still, there are pluses to both.

    What you said resonates - trust yourself and the way you write.

    Currently I'm doing the Snowflake method and pantstering too. Hard to break that habit! But I'm learning so much on the sequel to book 1, it's great.

    You Seekers who crank them out book after book have much to teach. Willing student, reporting in!!!

    And thanks for breakfast too! YUMMO!

    PS - blogger ate my post yesterday... Sigh

  17. Good Morning, Debby,

    I've seen ad's for AlphaSmarts and wondered exactly how they worked, now I know!

    I'm behind...WAY behind in my Speedbo count. I've been fighting my allergies for about a week but I still hope to end the month with a rough draft of three chapters.

  18. Good morning, Debby! I have an AlphaSmart 3000 but haven't fallen in love with it, probably because I have this need to edit as I go. No-no words during SpeedBo. But when I do use it, the fun part for me is watching the words type on the page when I hook it up to my desktop. I'm easily entertained.

    Breakfast is delicious!

    Jenny, the cookies will be great around ten when I'm hungry again. Thanks!

    Vince, I love that your windchimes foreshadowed changes in the movement of your story!

    Vince said: I also learned that writing a 55,500 word first draft is probably only 5% along the road to finishing the novel.

    Now you've depressed me.


  19. Debby -- I LOVE my AlphaSmart Neo! I first saw one at the Desert Dreams Writers Conference in Scottsdale several years ago when it was a raffle prize and was intrigued. Discovered Seeker Sandra Leesmith had one--and soon I was on-line and ordering one, too! I love how portable it is, the size of the keyboard, no cords to plug in to a power source and the fact that because of the small "window" it keeps me from easily going back through the pages "fixing" things. So I focus on the story. I reserve fixes for after I transfer the data to my computer.

    I find it perfect, too, for when I want to be away from my desk to brain storm ideas--saves that extra step of having to retype what I've written on paper.

  20. Sherrinda,

    Seekerville therapy is always free!

    Don't fret about what you haven't done. Today is a new day with a fresh blank page.

    Write something so you can stop feeling guilty! One page...two pages...half a page.

    Don't focus on the rules. You know them, whether you think about them as you write or not.

    Do you have a synopsis or story outline to guide you? That might get you out of the mist and allow you to feel more confident.

  21. Kirsten,

    You instinctively knew what to do. Fantastic! You trusted your inner voice. Which is what I learned this month.

    You're so far ahead of the game!!!

  22. Ausjenny,

    Cookie press, of course!!! But cookie forcer better explains how it works.

    Send some rain to Georgia to wash away the heavy pollen!!! Please!

    You'll be in Georgia in 2013? Oh my gosh! Keep us posted on when and where.

  23. I never heard of Alpha Smart.
    I like to write on my laptop and I drag it along many places.
    I like being able to scroll back if I've forgotten somebody's name. Sometimes a forgotten detail will bug me until I resolve the issue.
    Thanks for introducing us to Alpha Smart and for encouraging us to write in whatever way works best for us.

  24. Hi, Debby! You have such a sincere warmth about you, from those beautiful blue eyes, to that radiant smile. Your sweet spirit really shines through! And I want your garden!!

    I LOVE THIS POST. I remember you mentioning the AlphaSmart before, and I thought how cool it was. Well, one of the problems for me is that I don’t have anywhere comfy to sit while writing. We did a major move (Louisiana to Ohio) last September and left most of our things in storage down there until funds open up to go back and get them. So I use a wooden kitchen chair as my office chair, which is not very fun. Haha. Anyway, I want to write on the sofa, or in the rocking chair, and this sounds like a real gem for me! I really wanted a laptop, but that isn’t in the budget at this time, PLUS, internet access is a writer’s arch nemesis. The AlphaSmart writing processor looks so much more affordable! I like the bigger screen, but I’m sure that costs more. Do these have a place for a small disk to save the work and transport it to a desktop computer? And which one do you recommend for a budget of $50 or under?

    Thanks, Debby!


  25. Hmm... I saw $30 for a used one... I wonder if it would work!

  26. Debby, I love my AlphaSmart! I too have the 3000 and love the fact I can't go back and edit...well, I could, but that totally defeats the purpose of speed writing.

    The batteries last forever and it automatically saves every character you type so no lost work.

    Ummm, I haven't had a hard-boiled egg in forever. I'll grab an egg and a bagel on my way out the door for work.

    Great post, Deb!

  27. Morning Debby,

    I LOVE my old AlphaSmart 300. It is the only way I can get that first draft in without editing. And you're right when you say it is durable and PORTABLE. That is what I love about it. It can be bumped and dropped and is LIGHTWEIGHT. And the batteries last forever. No cords or heavy batteries to lug around.

    The new one sounds intriguing. Must look into that.

    Thanks for the breakfast goodies and Jenny, the cookies are going down nicely.

    Hang in there folks and keep on writing.

  28. Congrats, KC, on the good SpeedBo day!!!

    So you're mixing Snowflake with being a pantser? How's that working for you?

    Sounds like you're a mister at heart?

    Actually, I do a detailed synopsis and then plow through the first draft so I mix the two, as well. Often the inspiration that hits during the push to get pages written is just what I need to enhance the story. I've got an outline of sorts to work from with the synopsis, but I also allow creativity to flow. Does that make sense?

  29. I have an AlphaSmart but never really got the hang of it. Think I'm going to give it to my 10yo to use this NaNo. I do use my netbook fairly regularly though.

    Passed 40K yesterday and sent out several queries/proposals. Working on another one today as well as cleaning house before heading to see FIL for a day or two tomorrow. Would LOVE to "squeeze" 5K or so in too because I doubt I'll get any writing in while we're gone. HOPING to get some reading in but that'll be pushing it...

    Time to take the 10yo to get her lenses put in new frames and the 4yo to preschool and a quick stop at Walmart for apple slices for his snack. Then I may write until time to pick him up. But then again, the house cleaning is /sigh/ calling my name...

    I would love to win a book Debby! I have your last release or two but... :D

  30. I've never written with an Alphasmart, but I'm an occupational therapist and we use them regularly in the school system for the older kids who just can't seem to produce good handwriting...Hmm, I may have to nab one for a day and see how well I can write fiction on them. :)

    Thanks for sharing! I love my Gateway Notebook. I got it for Christmas and it is so small, I actually carry it in my purse and write everywhere I go.

  31. Hi Rose,
    Sorry about your allergies. I can relate.


    The first three chapters are the hardest to write, IMHO. So much needs to be gently woven into the beginning of the story. I take a long time on my first three, as well. Once they're set, then I can more forward with the rest of the story.

  32. Debby, I always enjoy learning about new writing tools! I've heard of the Alpha Smart but had no idea of how they work. Thanks for enlightening me. :)

    My favorite writing tool is my laptop. It's easy for me to keep track of everything, have more than one document open when I need to write side notes, and I can be colorful with my inks.

    My other faves are colorful pens and my composition book (especially when I'm waiting at an appointment). Do you see a colorful pattern here?

    Though I haven't done SpeedBo, when I did NaNo for the first time last November, I learned that if I had a good synopsis (Jeanne-style) to work from, I could get many words on the page, because I knew exactly where I was going. So, being the plotter that I am, I plan to do that before writing any new book. I also gave myself permission to just write, and be okay with the fact that my fast draft would be my "ugly" draft.

    It's inspiring to read all the progress you SpeedBo participants are making on your books! I've prayed for you, and I'm thrilled for you. :)

  33. I work on a Netbook and really like it. Portable, lightweight, with decent screen size.

    I can see the benefit of AlphaSmart, but it would drive me crazy not to be able to see more of my work. That being said, I really should work harder to move FORWARD rather than go back and rework. Finish first.

    Thanks for the chance to win one of your books, Debby! I really enjoyed one of the other Military Investigations books I read.


  34. Hi Janet,

    You're one of those clean copy writers I admire.

    Seeing the text download into the computer is fun to watch. Love checking the final word count!

  35. Debby, that's amazing what a difference the Alphasmart made for you!

    One thing I've discovered lately is that I sometimes have to force myself to push through and not "escape" online in the middle of a scene when it's not coming easily.

    Yesterday, I set a timer. I got a cool app called Wake Up Time that's an alarm clock. I told myself I could NOT get online until my alarm went off. Then I set it for 2 hours. It worked well for me! :)

  36. Sherrinda, I know exactly what you're talking about! Paralyzed by the rules. Paralyzed with the curse of perfectionism. Paralyzed by not wanting to heavily revise for the next 2 years!

    I've learned that doing a little planning helps me. I look ahead 1 or 2 chapters at a time. Jot down what will happen in each scene. It's worked well for me to know a little bit about where I'm going. Even though i already have a synopsis written and know the major plot points, I've found it helps me to gradually map out the way to get there.

  37. Alpha Smart! My son used one in school. What a great idea.

  38. I've wanted an Alpha-Smart since they first came out... mainly for the on the go aspect of writing. My hand cramps quickly and I hate do-overs: typing up what I've spent time writing down. Maybe someday I'll have one. :)

    Please include me in your drawing, Debby!

    Breakfast sounds delicious! Think I'll grab a plate and get to work. I only got in a 215 words yesterday after over 4K the day before, but it couldn't be helped. Had errands to catch up on and that always wears me out.

    Happy SpeedBoing! :D

  39. Speaking of perfectionism...

    I don't do well on the Alphasmart (I have the 3000 also). It's too difficult to edit as I go, which is something I HAVE to do. Not major editing, but just backing up and correcting words and such. That's too hard for me to do on the Alphasmart. I work better with my HP Netbook (10.5 inch screen) which is very portable.

    Of course, I lost the power cord! I'm still tearing up the house looking, praying it's not at a hotel or coffee shop somewhere.

  40. I purchased my Alphie in 1999, and it's the lovely blue/green 3000 model, ;). I should use it more than I do. The challenge for me is the downloading part, and Debby, you've just convinced me that I need to get over it and try using it again.

    There are plenty when I'm stuck in a Vet's office for two hours, or waiting in the car while DH runs into the hardware store for 'just one thing' and emerges with a cart full a half hour later. Those are no-brainer times when I could be writing with Alphie. Yay! Thanks for the idea!

    What else have I learned from Speedbo? So much about my writing process, but I'm surprised that it's easier to write every day than I thought it would be. Lovin' Speedbo.

  41. Debby,
    I'm not sure HOW it's working for me yet.It's sort of a mess right now, mixing fairly cleanly edited chapters with SpeedBo. Will let you know May 2 when May 2 manuscript is due. Ha!
    Glad to know I'm not alone on this journey.
    AND that God made us all unique, though some of us share similar methods!
    And may we say, what a LOVELY photo of you. You about have this author gig down, it's agreeing with you!

  42. I brainstorm in my plotting notebook and then I use my netbook. The netbook has a very short battery life though. I love that the AlphaSmart runs off AAA batteries. I may look into getting one.

    I am half way through The Officer's Secret and I am loving it!

  43. "Yes, the draft requires heavy edits, but when I have words on the page, I can see the story unfold and know where changes need to be made...

    The most important lesson is that I need to trust myself and the way I write."

    Debby, these words resonated with me. I think they reinforce exactly what I was expressing yesterday. It's great to try different techniques when searching for our most efficient and effective method of writing, but we can't force what isn't right.

    I almost got an AlphaSmart several years ago. Don't remember why I didn't, but I have friends who swear by them. When I write on my iPad, it's similar because I'm only writing in Notes or Evernote - both of which make editing less appealing.

  44. Hi Glynna,
    I didn't know you and Sandra used a NEO. So how many functions does yours contain?

    The 3000 uses a back space to delete text. No other functions that I can think of right now. Very, very basic.

    Do you use NEO's spell check?

  45. Oh, and Debby, I'm CHOOSING to forgive you for posting that photo of all the greenery and blooming flowers while I'm digging out from 30 inches of snow that came in on Sunday/Monday. :)

  46. Another question for Glynna, who's probably at work and won't be back to Seekerville until late tonight.

    When do you download to your computer? When you fill a file? Or two? A partial file?

    I like to keep writing until I finish a file. That gives me 23-24 new pages of text. The 3000 doesn't show word count or number of lines written, but I can sense when I'm getting close and that motivates me to keep typing.

  47. Debby -- I'd have to pull out the instruction book to know how many functions the NEO is capable of. LOL. I don't use the spell-check or anything fancy. Just use it to type, transfer, delete. :)

  48. Hi Jackie,
    Love your pic, sitting in a rocking chair. Was it taken on your front porch? Always makes me wish I could be there with you.

    We could talk about writing and SpeedBo, and I could show you my AlphaSmart! :)

    Do you cart your laptop all over the house, somewhat like I do with my Alpha?

  49. I seldom fill a file before I transfer it to a Word doc, so I don't know how many pages exactly it will hold. I generally have several files going at once--some to hold "come back to this" stuff, a blog post started, new story ideas, and then my current WIP which I transfer and clear out regularly.

  50. Well, I'm always behind most people when it comes to technology, Debby! I just got my first laptop less than two years ago. Now I think I'd love a netbook or AlphaSmart (Neo, whatever) to take with me places.

    You know, I'm still not sure how I work best. I used to like to edit as I went. I couldn't stand to just write and write without going back over what I'd written on a daily basis. But the last book I wrote, I forced myself just to keep writing and not edit, and it seemed to work out well. Although, I did do some research as I wrote and sometimes went back over a scene to try and perfect it.

    I just love to write. Let's face it. It's so much stinkin' fun.

  51. And I definitely agree that the first three chapters are the hardest to write.

  52. Whitney,
    Your sweet words warmed my heart. I took a break at 9AM and went to church. Prayed for everyone who would stop by the blog today. Came home to read your message. God is so good. :)

    The Alpha or NEO or Dana doesn't use discs. Instead the input is stored in one of the internal files, which can be downloaded (emptied) via a USB cable to the PC.

    Not sure which model I would buy, if I were shopping for one today. Maybe those who have the newer models can chime in. Glynna loves her NEO--see her comments above.

    I went to the NEO Direct INC site online for prices. The NEO2 is $169 for regular buyers, but schools and students get a $20 discount.

    The Dana cost $350. Expensive!

    I don't think the AlphaSmart 3000 is available new anymore. The NEO2 must have taken its place.

    Vince bought his Alpha used, but he has had problems with the on/off switch.

    Vince, if you stop by again, tell us where/how you bought your Alpha, please.

    Perhaps a NEO2 would be a good giveaway gift for Seekerville sometime. Maybe for our birthday celebration in OCT. Just musing here...

  53. Whitney, where are you in Ohio?

    I was in Columbus over the weekend for my uncle's funeral. Beautiful country. Great farmland. Wonderful people.

    I've got Buckeye blood.

    Even though I like grits and live in the South! :)

  54. Whitney,

    Just read your second comment. An Alpha for $30? Sounds like a GREAT buy.

    Does it come with the USB cable needed to download the files?

  55. Waving to Audra, another AlphaSmart enthusiast, as she heads off to her day job!

    I love hard boiled eggs. Great protein! I'll boil six or so and keep them in the fridge for a quick breakfast that fills me up and gives me lots of energy for SpeedBo!!!

  56. Vince I love your ideas about senses helping you discover more of the story.
    And the foreshadowing of the wind chimes.

    I'm really looking forward to what you're creating. Both the RPP and the book.

    Vince and I talked a lot about his novel when he met us in Tulsa and it sounds great.

  57. Hi Sandra!

    You mentioned the Alpha being durable. My daughter teaches special ed kids, actually middle-school boys with lots of behavior problems. They use AlphaSmarts in her classroom.

    The Alphas have been dropped and tossed around and shoved into backpacks and lockers and...well, you get the idea. They can take abuse. The AlphaSmarts, that is. Not the kids. :)

    Or their teacher!

  58. I got mine on ebay a couple years ago.

    If it doesn't come with the USB cable, don't worry too much. It's a standard cable you may already have [I have about eight] or you can get at Best Buy/Walmart/Amazon for a few bucks.

    Mine did come with the rechargeable batteries still in it [the original ones - that may be the problem - they may not be working right anymore] and the power cord and the cdroms.

  59. I am close to getting a new laptop.
    My husband has recently gotten so he's using our home computer a lot and I have a plan to get him set up on my current laptop so he can fool with his beloved STEER PLANET website while I have the desktop. But once he takes over the laptop I'll probably need a new one, right? Maybe a netbook or alpha smart might be a good idea.

  60. WHEW, Carol! You pack a lot into a day!!! And it's still early.

    You're doing a great job with SpeedBo. Everytime I check Seekerville, you've added to your word count. GOOD FOR YOU!!!

    We're supposed to talk, remember? Did you send in your contact info? :)

    Yes, yes, yes, you're in the drawing. Everyone's in!!!

    You mentioned using your Netbook. Is the keyboard easy to use?

  61. I'm not supposed to email until after 4/1.

    Tina yelled.

    Or glared.

    Or something.

    But yes we are ;).

    Trying to add today but dealing with another problem [my website is down and not sure what the deal with it is and can't get a hold of my web gal - loooooooong story]. So I haven't really done much of anything except post to Pentalk since I got home ;).

    I'm not crazy about the netbook keyboard - it's a bit smaller but for what I use it for I can deal with it. On the go etc. Not everyday, all the time, use. When I did have to use it [when my last laptop died] I used an external usb keyboard.

    Mary - a new laptop sounds about right to me ;). DH's laptop is dying. He's not sure he wants another one but the kids aren't allowed to touch mine so I'm thinking I can give them mine in August [when it's a year old - mine usually last 15-18mos anyway] and get a new one ;).

    Sounds like a perfect plan to me :D.

  62. I know of people who use an AlphaSmart and love them - but I love my laptop. I think seeing only a few lines at a time would drive me nuts.

    Just like there are different writing styles for everyone, there are different writing tools, right?

    Speedbo report: I love Vince's comment about finishing the first draft means you're only 5% done! I started my revisions/editing last week and ran into all sorts of work I needed to do. I spent all my writing time yesterday discovering what my heroine's motivation really is - and it's nothing like what I thought it was at the beginning of the book! But the work I did yesterday will make the book just that much richer, and that's my goal.

    So the word count is slow. But that's all right - I have a first draft to work with, and that makes all the difference :)

    And allergies!!! Yes! I'm not sure what's blooming - probably pine - but sinus headaches and fuzzy thinking will be normal for several weeks...

  63. Annie,

    Yes, check out the AlphaSmart your kids use and let me know what you think.

    How many hours of battery life do you get with your Netbook? My cp totes hers everywhere and loves it.

    BTW, I think OTs are very special people!

  64. Jeanne,
    Thanks for the SpeedBo prayers!!!

    Sounds as if you and I use a similar writing method. I need that plot outline or synopsis to guide me, but pushing forward on the AlphaSmart allows me to be creative and spontaneous within the plot framework.

    Love your mention of the "ugly" draft. I'm editing my pages now and some are so, so ugly. :)

    Hope I can turn the ugly duckling into a graceful swan.

  65. Hi Emily,

    Thanks for your kind words about my writing!

    I've considered getting a Netbook. Reading the various comments today makes me wonder if that should be my next writing investment.

    Moving forward is always the goal, isn't it? That's the beauty of the AlphaSmart. You CAN'T edit so you just keep writing.

    Although it would be nice to check email... :)


  66. Hi Missy,

    Remember when Stephanie Bond gave a talk at GRW about setting a kitchen timer for 30 minutes of non-stop writing? Then she gave everyone a timer!

    I still have mine. It's on my desk. Sometimes I have to use it to get any work done. How easily I can switch from my WIP to email or Seekerville or Google Seach, MapQuest...

    That's why I like my AlphaSmart. No Internet access.

    You wrote for 2 hours without checking email!!!! That deserves a BRAVO! :)

  67. Hi Cindy,

    Have your son bring home the AlphaSmart from school and give it a try. Bet you'll like it.

    I'm a member of Georgia Romance Writers. A number of the published gals had Alphas years ago. I liked how they could carry them in their purses or totes and start typing whenever they had a few free minutes.

    Way back when, my first writing purchase was a computer. The second was my AlphaSmart.

  68. Enjoyed your take on the AlphaSmart, Debby!

    Personally, though, I think the itty-bitty screen would make me CRAZY!

    My absolute favorite writing tool has become Scrivener software on my Mac! I love the way it allows me to organize by scenes within chapters, and also keep my research and other important info easily accessible.

  69. Debby, I have never heard of an AlphaSmart. Since I always have a reporter's notebook with me, I just take down notes and plot stuff in that. Came in handy when I planned the end of my novel in court one day waiting for a case!

    SpeedBo for me? Um, next question, please? I was excited to do this, but so many unexpected things have popped up for me this month that I've hardly had a moment to even look at Seekerville, let alone write anything. I've had two job interviews in the last week (yay!), had to put together portfolios for both, cover for missing coworkers, and I am a beta reader for another author. Phew!

    But I know that whatever happens, this story will get told eventually. Maybe this March just wasn't the time to write it in a month! In the meantime, I'll just keep plugging away when I get a spare moment or two.

  70. Hi Linnette,

    You mentioned writing longhand and then having to type the script into your computer, which reminded me of two other ways I use my AlphaSmart.

    One is for transcribing notes.

    The other: When I freelanced for magazines, I would record interviews and then later replay the interview and type the information into my Alpha.

    An aside that has nothing to do with SpeedBo: I'm reading Brandilyn Collins' book, OVER THE EDGE, about Lyme Disease and can't put it down! Thanks for the recommendation.

  71. Sorry about the missing power cord, Missy!!!

    So you use your Netbook alot? At home or only when traveling?

  72. Lyndee...


    Why didn't I think of that? Perfect name.

    My Alphie is waving to your Alphie!

    Yes, yes, yes!!! Get yours out of mothballs and start using it for those lost moments each day.

    It is fun to write daily, isn't it? And easier than anyone would imagine. The hard part is turning on the computer.

    Also, getting to the computer sometimes takes effort. The laundry calls or the dirty dishes or the cluttered house. Grabbing Alphie for a few minutes of writing that often extends longer is easier to manage than leaving the mess and heading downstairs to my office.

  73. KC,

    A May 2 deadline for May 2? How fun is that. God is smiling, for sure! And blessing your work.

    You go, girl!!!

  74. Hi Donna,

    Thanks for mentioning THE OFFICER'S SECRET!!! You made my day!

    The three AA batteries last FOREVER in the AlphaSmart. Really! I think I've changed them four or five times in all the years I've been using my Alphie!!!

    Plus, there's an automatic shut off switch. So I never have to worry about leaving it on inadvertently and wearing down the batteries.

  75. Hi MaryC!

    I did try to change my writing method, Mary. But it didn't work. I wasn't productive or happy.

    So I went back to my old ways...

    I doubt AlphaSmarts are for everyone. But I love mine, and it helps me push forward. Getting words on the page is my first goal.

    Tell us about your iPad. Do you use it for the first draft or just when you're traveling or away from your PC? Is it user friendly?

  76. Sorry about your long winter and snow, Glynna!

    We have the AC on! It's hot in Georgia. Dogwoods are in bloom and look gorgeous! So do the azaleas.

    But I hate the yellow pollen!


  77. Glynna,
    I do the mutliple files too! One for a blog post I'm working on. One for the WIP. One for an outline or random story ideas.

  78. Hi Melanie!

    Whatever works works! Right?

    I heard Kathy Richs speak...she wrote the books that led to the TV program, Bones. She writes the first half of her stories without editing. Then she goes back and reworks that section before she moves on to the end.

    I believe Harlen Coben uses a similar method.

    I write the first three chapters slowly or with lots of editing because my editor wants to see them before she gives me the go-ahead. Then, once the first three are in place, I write the rest of the story.

    BTW, the fourth chapter always gives me a bit of trouble. Usually at that point, I'm making a subtle switch from an action beginning and starting to add the romance thread. That slight change of focus can slow the pace, which I don't want to happen!

  79. Steer Planet, Mary?


    Yes, the boy needs his own computer/laptop.

    I worry about the small keyboard on the Netbook. Any thoughts?

  80. Carol, my book is due April 4th so chatting in April sounds perfect to me!

    Why don't your laptops last longer?

    External keyboard with your Netbook! Smart girl. And I remember the pic of your mobile office. creative! :)

  81. Oh, Debby, even with all the editing I do, most of which is little easy stuff, I have major revisions after the story is written. The reason I'm slow.

    Slinking away.


  82. This is somewhat off topic (SOMEWHAT???)

    But did you know I once shook the hand of a man who shook the hand of a man who shook the hand of Abraham Lincoln?

    Remember that if you ever shake my hand. That's only three degrees of separation people!

  83. Steer Planet is HUGE.

    If you raise cattle.

    It just BUZZES with activity and picture and chat about great looking cattle.

  84. Jan,
    So it helps that you have a completed first draft? Are you better able to find the holes?

    Just wondering if SpeedBo was/is a win-win for you.

  85. HI Myra,

    You've mentioned Scrivener before. Is it only available on Macs?

  86. Scrivener was originally written for the Mac, but I understand a PC version is now available.

    Scrivener for Windows

  87. I'm hitting SpeedBo again in 2 minutes, but I wanted to add that while I like Scrivener and hope to get used to it and enjoy using it, so far my favorite is my Word 2003. I also like paper and pen when I'm out and about. Something about the tactile helps get ideas and/or words on the page.

  88. Hi Debby:

    I paid $30 for my 3000 on Ebay. There were many to choose from. The shipping was $20. The AlphaSmart was very clean, all the keys worked well, but it kept turning itself off. Sending it back would cost me $20. It was not worth fixing. So I have been using it as a prop in photos.

    If you are seen writing with a laptop, you’re an internet junkie. But if seen with a AlphaSmart, you’re a serious writer. I even used my AlphaSmart in a snow storm – the photo is on my website.

    I really wanted ‘Alfredo’ for his long battery life. It should out last a full two week vacation without needing new batteries. It does not get hot (thus he's not Alcaldo) so you can hold it anywhere. I love the AlphaSmart keyboard much better than a laptop’s. My only complaint is that it doesn’t work. : )

    I would suggest buying one from a writer who does not use it any more. Pay more than Ebay, see if you can save on shipping and get one that was at least working right when you bought it.

    Any Seekers who wants to sell theirs? We could have a little auction right here. I’ll open at $30 and actual postage. : ) (This is a valid contract if accepted.)


    P.S. I’d love to win a large print version of Yule Die. I have all your books, mostly as eBooks, but I like to use Yule Die as a template for writing a novella. It’s easier to use a paper book for that purpose.
    vmres (at) swbell (dot) net

  89. Mary Connealy, when I see you I'm going to be shaking your hand.

    Just make sure it's the correct one!

    (You haven't washed it since that event, have you?)

  90. Hi Debby:

    Just got back from the VA. Six pages of medical test results were all good. The doctor said I was very healthy for someone with all my medical problems. Now, what kind of comment is that? He wants to see me again in six months. I hope that counts as a vote of confidence.

    The nurse asked if I have been depressed lately. I said, “Yes, over the weekend, waiting for test results, it’s nice to know if you are going to live long enough to finish editing your WIP.”

    Honestly, that nurse just looked at me and the tests results I brought and the test results the VA did on Monday, and she said, “the results are even better on the tests we took.” No emotion at all. She has to be a character in one of my stories.


    P.S. I like your idea for a sequel. I’ve done 5-sensing for years in advertising. For the book I will also add body language to the mix. I actually think now that 5-sensing a scene is a way to over come writer’s block (which I don’t believe in but if I did, I think 5-sensing would open many new ideas.)

  91. Hi Janet:

    A fast first draft is like putting 5% down on a 30-year mortgage. Now, if the first draft is more complete, with 5-sensing and body language included, then that’s like putting 20% down and avoiding the PMI (pain, misery, and interruptions)-- at least for 20% of the way.

    In a way it’s like the auto repair man who said, “You can pay me now or you can pay me later.”

    You wrote:

    “Now you've depressed me.”

    Depressed? You want depressed, I’ve got depressed:

    "In a way, writing to publication is like a race into the mist that begins as a joyful sprint towards an unknown, unseen, finish line that quickly turns into a double marathon where each hill becomes a new disillusionment and each clear mountain vista shows us anew how much ‘what we still don’t know’ has expanded since out last look. It’s a path littered with rejections and undiplomatic comments from contest judges while even for the few who find and cross the fickle finish line there still awaits baskets of bad reviews. Yet, we do it all because we can’t not do it".

    How's that? : ) or : (


  92. Stephanie,

    Prayers for the two job interviews!!! Keep us posted.

    Sounds like life had other plans for you this month! That's okay. But I have a hunch you'll use some of the info provided at a later time. Besides, no one has to write a book in a month to prove they're a writer. It's an exercise, a technique, a tool to use but only if it works for you.

    Always good to see you in Seekerville. What journalism story are you working on today?

  93. Remind me to shake your hand next time I see you, Mary, after I give you a big hug!

    Checked out Steer Planet. Very cool. I told them Mary Connealy sent me to the site. They were impressed as well they should be. :)

    We always learn something new in Seekerville, right?

  94. Another Speedbo Lesson Learned

    Just as one must turn off her internal editor when Speedbowing, one must also turn off her internal writer when editing.

    There is a difference between editing and rewriting! (Think decorating and remolding.)

    My internal editor, a woman, fancies herself a writer! I think I need that ROTHGAR thing!

    If I learn much more about how much I don’t know, I might become like Socrates and claim I don’t know anything.


  95. Scrivener for Windows!

    Looks like it's a great writing tool. I need to spend more time checking it out.

    Thanks for the info.

  96. Linnette,

    Good luck with your next 1k/1h!

    Paper and pen is always good when I need a jump start!

  97. HI Vince,

    I don't have a large print version of YULE DIE. If I did, I'd send it to you. :)

    The batteries in my Alphie last much longer than two weeks--even if I were in a snowstorm! Good thing Glynna has an AlphaSmart! :)

    Thanks for sharing how/where you bought Alfredo. Sorry about its malfunction.

    Anyone want to auction off their Alpha today? Vince is interested. Whitney may be, as well.

  98. Whitney, did you see Vince's comments about buying an AlphaSmart on eBay?

  99. Debby, thanks for the encouragement. I feel kind of letdown that I haven't been able to do much on SpeedBo. And I LOVE the story I was going to work on!

    Good news, though: I got an e-mail requesting a phone interview from another place I've applied to. Yay!

    Hmm, what am I working on? In some ways, I'm just trying to keep my head above water. My assistant editor left, so I'm doing the majority of her duties, including page layout and the stories she covered. Today, it's a story on the second-chance lunch program at the local high school, a public meeting regarding our local nuclear power plant, a new business coming to town and stolen dog. It's always something new!

  100. Hi Mary:

    Thanks for your kind comments and encouragement. I really appreciated our talk. I told my wife that I am going to dedicate “Stranded” to you and RPP to the Seekers and that she would have to wait to my Lessman-size “Characters in a Romance”.She was just fine with that.

    I don’t know if I should be worried about that or not. (I think she’s over-romanced.) : )


    P.S. I can’t do another post until I’ve edited at least 2,000 words of my Speedbo Project. You see, I used the VA distraction to get another hour and a half away from work. Like they said about Watergate. ”It’s not the crime. It’s the cover-up! It’s not the distraction, it's the convenient extension of the distraction that’s the real problem.

  101. Body language and 5-sensing sounds like a good mix for book two, IMHO!

    As Mary Connealy mentioned earlier, we're all eager to read your RPP how-to and your debut fiction.

    Keep writing!

    Remember medical tests don't lie! That's what I did before I became a stay-at-home mom and then a writer. I tested blood...and other body fluids in the clinical laboratory. :)

    You've been checked out medically for SpeedBo, and you passed with flying colors! YAY!

  102. Well, see, average lifespan of a laptop is about 3 years.

    And I use mine an insane amount.

    I had one where 2/3 of the keys were at least partially rubbed off in about 8 mos. They replaced the keyboard when they did some warranty work on it. By the time a certain 2yo [who is now 4] spilled milk on it, at least 1/3 were at least partially rubbed off again.

    I think part of the problem with that one was the keyboard itself. They shouldn't have rubbed off THAT easily, but that's an indication of how hard I am on them...

  103. Stephanie, covering the phone interview with prayer. God will provide the perfect job!

    You're a writer. You get paid to write, which most of us are trying to do. So you've already achieved part of the dream.

    The fiction will come. Plus, everything you write today--the stories about the nuclear plant and the lunch program and the stolen dog--will play into your future stories, as you mentioned.

    Remember nothing is wasted! You'll eventually get time to write the book of your heart. You'll have all your jounalism experiece to draw from. You'll write tight and lean and clean because you've had to write smart with your news stories.

    Looks to me like your future is very, very bright!


  104. Carol, you are an editor's dream.

    You just have to find the right editor and the right publisher who can keep up with your breakneck pace!

  105. I actually HAVE washed my hand since, Jan. And, since this was about fifteen years ago, that is as it should be.
    But the AFFECT is the same....which is to affect at all, I suppose.

  106. Vince and all who are struggling with editing, it is a common belief (which I cling to) that as we get farther along this writing journey, we get better and the edits are not so draconian. So you may say you're 5% done after the first draft, Vince. But maybe it's 25%--with 50% to 75% coming soon.

  107. Hi Debby,
    I like to use my Neo for first drafts and when I get stuck. I love plugging it into the computer and watching all those words download. Makes me feel so productive. :)

  108. Tried the Alphasmart a couple of times, but didn't work for me. I don't know why.

    When laptop is not handy, Evernote on my smartphone or plain ole pen and paper work fine.

    Helen, your comment is at the top so I can see it most easily. That ALWAYS caught my eye. Your persistence and consistency are inspiring.

  109. Aw, thanks, Debby! I appreciate your encouragement and prayers. Today is one of the first days in about two weeks that I have a few spare minutes at work to read all the comments here.

    Hugs back at you!

  110. Debby - you are sweetness personified friend!

    What can I say?

    One day I want to have half as many books a year as Mary Connealy.

  111. What I'm learning during Speedbo - "the book doesn't write itself"

    Common sense right?

    But so true! In order to write even a SOTP writer has to apply pants to seat and WRITE - no excuses....

    I'm trying....really, I am....

    Good luck & God's blessings!

  112. I don't have an AlphaSmart and don't guess I need one....but sure enjoyed all the comments about it. I learn a lot on Seekers. Please count me in the drawing!

    Yes, the GA pollen is at its worst!!

  113. I have Write Your own Novel the original. Probably why it was free. WYUN Professional has even more features, including a built in Thesaurus. As far as I can tell the one I have only stores one novel at a time, so I have one on my lap top and one on my desk top. Professional might store more than one at a time.
    I don't know what else it has.

  114. Great post, Debby! I remember the morning we met for coffee and you brought along your ALPHASMART--I was intrigued! Since then I've seriously thought about getting one, but continue using my trusty Toshiba laptop. ~ Something I've enjoyed reading about during the SPEEDBO posts are the various ways writers write--isn't it neat that what works for one writer might spell disaster for another--so it's whatever works best for each individual. I'm relieved there's no one way we "have" to write *smile*. ~ Since it's already late afternoon here in Georgia, I've brought a warm peach cobbler with whipped cream--just in case anyone needs a snack! Hugs, Patti Jo p.s. LOVE that photo of you on your deck--BEAUTIFUL!!!

  115. I agree with a ton of people here, I'm positive the little screen would drive me nuts.

    My happy writing tool is dropbox. That way I can access my books at any computer and they all sync. Then if for some reason, I'm stuck at my in-laws or my laptop breaks, I'm not forced to only take longhand notes which I'm too impatient to write well, my brain goes too fast, and so I don't always know what I wrote....

    Which reminds me, I took some notes in the dark last night because I got a brilliant thought when I should have been sleeping, gotta go see if it's legible!

    I'm in the middle of my book right now for speedbo 40+k I wanted to be in the middle in the middle of the month, so I'm a bit behind. :(

  116. Hi Seekers,
    I use an AlphaSmart and I love it! Of course, I write quickly like Debby and I heavily edit later on the computer. I can't seem to associate sitting at the computer with anything other than editing. But the AlphaSmart is great for out in the yard, the car, anywhere. It's tough. Both my kids each have a file because they are writing books too! It's fun and good for getting the word count in because I know it's too time consuming to scroll backward and edit while I'm using it! I won't be done, most likely, with this manuscript by the end of March, but I've done more in a short period of time than I ever have before, so I consider Speedbo a success so far.

    Mary D.

  117. Debby so good to see ya again, and you are looking good sitting on that beautiful deck, I like the angel looking over your shoulder maybe nudging you every now and then huh? I love to stop by and see how hard everyone is working and anxious to see the end results with books-books-books by the many authors that I read.
    I only write for fun at home but may check out this alphaSmart thing. thanks for sharing today.

    Put my name in the pot for drawing and hope I win your book.
    Paula O(

  118. I've never had a word processor but I love my 15" MacBook laptop. It weighs only 5 lbs. and fits easily into my tote bag, so, altho' it's a bit heavier than your AlphaSmart, I still take it whenever I'm going some place where I'm going to have a bit of time to write.

    I really like what you said to Sherrinda about not fretting about what we haven't done. I can get stalled with guilt over not accomplishing more. There is always an abundance of advice about how we should write, but I'm like you in that I think we all have to find our own way ... what works for us ... and then just do it.

    And now I'm of to "do it". A happy writing day to everyone!

  119. Hi Mary:

    I’m back for just one minute. I’ve done 2020 words today and would like to do 2000 more.

    I sure hope you are right about edits getting easier. But if you listen to Julie, they get much, much harder!!!

    We have a saying in advertising about having to fix mistakes on advertising proofs while the newspaper guy is waiting to take the proof back to the newspaper.

    “There’s never time to do it right the first time but there is always time to fix it later.”


  120. Ackkk! I'm "off" to do it, not "of". I'll blame it on the keyboard. Can't possibly be my bad typing. :)

  121. So THAT'S what an AlphaSmart looks like! I've heard of them, but never seen one, so thanks for the tour. It might be a good think if I can't see more than a few lines of my text. Hmm, I'll have to think about that.

    Please pass the bagels! :-)

  122. HI Debby, (its morning now) I have a friend in Georgia I have to meet and will stay about a week. Of course there is one tiny issue and that is work. I am currently unemployed (besides a small amount of cleaning work) and am looking for work. I need about $20 hours a week. As long as I get more work I should be able to come next year (I have the money for the airfare which will be the biggest expense). We now have flights that go direct to Dallas.
    I hope to spend a few days in Washington State and then a week in Alberta Canada also.

  123. I bought an AlphaSmart Dana off ebay and I like it, but I don't use it as much as I should.

    And...when I do think to use it, the battery is dead. I recharge it, and it's dead again next time I need it.

    No reflection on the product at all. I probably just need new batteries OR a new Dana. I didn't pay much for it at all and wanted to see if I would use it if I had it without buying they higher priced / newer models.

  124. I’ve always thought those sweet things about you, Debby (and the other Seekers, of course!), and I am glad the Lord used me to bless you today. : )

    I live in a tiny little town in Southeast Ohio. We don’t measure on most maps, but we’re about 45 minutes West of Wheeling, WV and 100 miles (give or take) South of Akron/Canton area. About 4 hours from the Canadian border!

    The hilly part of Ohio IS beautiful. Quintessential “Amish Country”, I reckon. There’s a place here called “Sandy Ridge” (which is a fitting name because it sits high on a ridge and overlooks rolling green hills on both sides) that we would love to live on!

    My dad is from Ohio, but my Mom was born and raised in Louisiana, so I definitely love me some grits! Plus I worked at Waffle House for three years, so I could probably win the “Best Grits” competition if there was such a thing. ; )

    I’m not sure about the $30 Alpha. I didn’t read that far. It was sold through But even $169 isn’t BAD. What are laptops/net books these days? Maybe I should look into one of those. They seem to start around $120? Oh well, we’ll see. : )

    Sorry. Been at work all day. Going to check eBay!


  125. Vince said: I also learned that writing a 55,500 word first draft is probably only 5% along the road to finishing the novel.

    Now you've depressed me.

    LOL! I’m with you, Janet!!

  126. Well, used AlphaSmarts are on Ebay... look at this one. $7.96 + about 10 bucks for shipping, BUT it has a 60 days money back, buyer pays return shipping.

  127. Hi Jillian,
    Thanks for telling us about your NEO! It is fun to watch the text appear on the computer screen. Makes me feel productive, too!

  128. Patricia W,

    Thanks for reminding us that writers use any tool available. I still like pen and paper at times, but not for anything lengthy!

    Thanks, too, for pointing out Helen's great work ethic and ability to ALWAYS finish the stories she starts. That's something worth mentioning again.


  129. Pat T

    You wrote, "Apply pants to seat and WRITE - no excuses...."

    Great advice and so important in order to finish a book!

    It is a huge undertaking. Sometimes we don't realize the enormity of what we've done...stringing 70,000 words or so together in a coherent fashion that tells a tale and is a satisfying read. That's a big deal!

    And, as you mentioned, it all begins by sitting at our computers/laptops/Alphas/Smart Phones and writing words, one after the other.

  130. Hi Jackie S!

    You're in the drawing.

    I heard we may have rain in GA tomorrow! Wouldn't that be wonderful. Maybe some of the pollen will be washed away.


  131. Patti Jo,
    Your peach cobbler is always delicious!!! Thank you!!!

    I've enjoyed learning how everyone writes too! Loved learning, quite some time ago, that writing time can vary. Some writers are more creative in the AM, others like to work at night. I'm a daytime writer. Early morning is best, but often I'm tied up with activies so I do most of my work in the afternoon.

  132. I would love to know where you can buy an AlphaSmart. Can you find it in stores or is it strickly online?

    Smiles & Blessings,
    Cindy W.


  133. Hi Melissa,
    I didn't know about dropbox. Checked it out and liked what I saw. Plus, it's a free download.

    Thanks for sharing your favorite writing tool! One I want to try!!!

    So, Melissa, could you read your middle-of-the-night notes?

  134. I have an AlphaSmart and use it sometimes. I really like mine!

  135. Mary D,

    So glad you're an AlphaSmart gal!!! Love that your kids use it too!

    Super mom. Lucky them!

    You are a SpeedBo success!!!! Congrats on all you've done this month.

  136. Hi Paula,
    You're writing for fun at home? Honey, that's how we all started. Keep working, keep writing!!! I want to see your book on the shelves someday.

    We'll have lots of Seekervillager books published in the not-too-distant future. Everyone is so motivated and working hard.

    All SpeedBo writers deserve a pat on the back! Raise hand, pat back!!!! I'm cheering you on!!!!

  137. Dropbox = LOVE!

    LOVE it! It syncs my netbook and laptop and if I'm somewhere else I can download it to that computer.

    A new one is LogMeIn. I can operate my other computers from my phone or the computer on... If nothing else - I could email myself a file that way ;).

  138. Carol,

    Guilt is NOT allowed in Seekerville.

    Repeat that 5 times. Okay?

    Here's my motto:

    Be thankful for what you can do. Don't regret what you can't do.

    End of story! :)

    Your laptop sounds great. I bought one with a 17" screen. My mistake. Never realized how hard it would be to transport that BIG laptop, especially on an airplane. Plus, it's heavy. Next time, I'm going back to a smaller screen.

  139. Good job on your word count today, Vince!!!

  140. Hi Rebecca!

    Lots of praise for AlphaSmart today, but it's not for everyone! Yet if you want to write fast and not edit, the Alphie is a great tool!

  141. Ausjenny, be sure to let us know when you fly north!!!

    Also, we all need to pray you get a great job...soon!!! I'm praying! I'm sure some of the other Seekervillagers are praying too!!!


  142. Hi Pam,

    I'm surprised your batteries wear down so quickly. The Dana is the bells and whistles model, but still, the battery life is supposed to last for about 700 hours.

    Maybe that's why it was on eBay.

  143. Hi Whitney!

    Your part of Ohio is beautiful. Love the Amish areas too. Plain City isn't far from Columbus. Great food at the Amish restaurants, although I always eat too much!

    Some of my ancestors came from Fulda, Germany, and settled in Fulda, Ohio, in the southeast portion of the state. Is Fulda close to you?

    Louisiana + Ohio = Cajun Buckeye!

    And you're a GRIT GIRL!!!! Whoo-hoo!!!

    The Alpha on eBay sounds like a GREAT buy, but Pam and Vince both ended up with lemons. Check out your local schools and see if they have any older models for sale. You never know.

  144. Hi Cindy,

    New AlphaSmarts/Danas/Neo2s are sold online. The company name is Neo Direct Inc.

  145. Waving to Cara, another AlphaSmart user!!!


  146. Somedays I can sit and type and type. But usually my favorite is the pencil and paper method. And when I put it in the computer I can add and do a touch of editing

    After several years with my gateway, I've started using a MAC and that's been a learning experience.

  147. Oh my gosh, thanks to Linnette's post I can now admit in public that I, too, like my Word 2003. There's a pair of us!

    Myra, how was the learning curve with Scrivener? Did you need to see aside time or was it intuitive?

    I'm definitely a computer person -- desktop and laptop Macs. Funny thing, sometimes if the writing isn't coming along the way I'd hoped, I'll switch from the laptop to the desktop (or the other way around) and the writing picks up immediately. Even if I'm in the same room. My mind is a strange thing :-)

    No Speedbo writing today, and probably not tomorrow. A dear friend is visiting and we haven't seen each other in three years. There'll be time to get back to writing after she returns home -- and when she checks email.

    Cheering everyone on in their Speedbo quest.

    Nancy C

  148. Hi Debby! What I've learned from Speedbo, is I CAN actually write without editing. I don't love to, but it sure helps with the word count. I'm just starting to fear revisions. I hope that half of this word count doesn't have to be rewritten, but if it does, oh well. It's still fun getting it written. I had an unexpected proposal scene today. Got in 3,600 some odd words in around 3 hrs then realized what time it was. I love it when the writing comes easy like that.

    I never heard about the AlphaSmart until Seekerville. Looks like something I'd like. I think. Definitely going to look into it.

  149. No! I couldn't read my notes. :( I should've forced myself to get up and get the digital recorder - another writing thing I love - handy for car trips when you have to drive instead of write, which um... I've NEVER driven and wrote at the same time. "*looks askance**

    I thought I was being so clever too, making my finger be a spacer so I didn't overlap lines, but I did anyway and even the parts I didn't weren't really legible. I got the gist of it, but oh well...

    And I'm still only using the free dropbox and I have all my novels (5), notes, queries, all the writing related stuff plus some other business and I've only used a 1/4 of the free space.

  150. I've never heard of AlphaSmart, but it looks so easy to use & compact.

  151. Louisiana + Ohio = Cajun Buckeye!

    LOL! Love it.

    Some of my ancestors came from Fulda, Germany, and settled in Fulda, Ohio, in the southeast portion of the state. Is Fulda close to you?

    Hmm. Never heard of Fulda, but I looked on Yahoo maps, and it is about 29 miles Southwest of where I live.

  152. DEB!!! Can't believe I'm a day lay (and WAY more than a dollar short), so PLEASE forgive me!!

    Thank you SOOO much for the 911 on the AlphaSmart -- I have wondered what the differences were, so this was a very informative blog. one of these days I need to pull the trigger on something like this, but I am sooooooooo slow on doing so!!


  153. Julie, you're not the only one late to this party! How did I miss this post? Maybe it was melissa calling me out on the 1K1hr group!

    Anyway, I love hearing what works for other people and completely get the 'fast first draft helps see where things are going and what needs to be fixed'. But I could never use the AlphaSmart. It looks like a mini of the word processor I hauled all over Poland in grad school *shiver*

  154. "The Dana is the bells and whistles model, but still, the battery life is supposed to last for about 700 hours."

    No! Wrong!

    The AlphaSmart Dana's battery is supposed to last for 25 hours but it also drains a bit when turned off. When the batteries drain completely everything that is not stored on an SD card in the Dana is gone. It is volatile memory as it is a Palm device with a full size keyboard.

    Neo and Neo2's are supposed to last for 700 hours on 3 AA batteries. Even when the batteries run out it keeps your text as long as the internal coin battery/backup battery has some juice left. They last about 10 years. It is probably worth it to change the coin battery when you buy a used machine.

    Dana's screen is larger. Neo and Neo2's screen contrast is clearer because it doesn't have Dana's backlight and touch screen overlay.

    The keyboards on AlphaSmart Dana and AlphaSmart Neo/Neo2 are vastly superior to the AlphaSmart3000's which often has stuck keys or you have to press hard.
    Also their fonts are relative and adjustable in size instead of the 3000's monospaced, 4 lines per screen font.

    The difference between 2000 and 3000 is that the 3000 has more memory and can be connected to modern computers easier (with a USB cable).

    For the 2000 you need a ADB to USB cable, or a male-to-male PS/2 cable and a matching port on your desk computer, if you don't have the port or it is too hard to reach you can get a PS/2 to USB adapter. Please google and use Renassaince Learnings Knowledge base if you consider buying a 2000

    Renaissance Learning owns the AlphaSmart brand these days.