Making that novel into a real paperback

With December nearly at an end, I wanted to make good on a promise I made back in late October when we introduced you to the madness of National Novel Writing Month, in which thousands of people try to write 50,000 words of a novel in the month of November.

I participated for the third year in a row and crossed the finish line with a few days to spare. Now that I’m somewhat rested from that huge disgorgement of verbiage, let me explain the photo that accompanied my blog entry about NaNoWriMo, which showed me reading a copy of the book I wrote from November 2006 through February 2008, including two 50,000-word-long NaNoWriMo sessions.

The day I finished the first draft of the book, I decided I wanted to have something tangible to commemorate my accomplishment. But more than that, I wanted a few trusted friends to read what I’d written and tell me the truth, good or bad, about what I had written, so that I could make the second draft of the book better.

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Apple at Expo: What went wrong?

Tuesday’s news that Apple had announced that Steve Jobs wouldn’t be appearing at Macworld Expo and that the company would stop exhibiting at the show after 2009 came as a shock. I’m stunned that Apple has taken a 25-year-old event that has been the single best meeting place for the entire community of users and vendors of Apple-related products and treated it like a piece of garbage stuck to the bottom of its shoe. But I’m not really surprised: Apple has been leading up to this moment for a long time now.

(Before I continue, a bit of disclosure. The company that I work for, Mac Publishing, does not run Macworld Expo. The company that runs Macworld Expo is IDG World Expo, a separate company that shares the Macworld brand name with Mac Publishing and shares the same corporate parent—IDG [International Data Group]. IDG’s corporate structure splits different businesses into different companies, each with its own budgets and management teams. So while I’m the editor of Macworld, my business doesn’t actually receive any money from the operations of Macworld Expo and isn’t judged by the financial results of Macworld Expo. However, the owner of my business is the owner of their business, so we’re cousins in the same corporate family.)

The timing of the announcement stinks. It’s three weeks before the Expo keynote, and now Apple has decided to announce its plans not just for the keynote, but for the 2010 show? Why now? My guess is that the first announcement required the second. Imagine if Apple merely announced that Steve Jobs wouldn’t be appearing at Macworld Expo. Immediately the Steve-Jobs-health speculation machine would whip into action. Jobs not appearing at Macworld Expo would be used as fodder to fuel a million different pieces wondering about Apple’s CEO.

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Introducing the Macworld Mac Security Superguide

Mac users are accustomed to looking at their Windows-using friends, with their virus checkers and spyware and the like, and feeling just a little bit superior. And it’s with good reason—so far, the Mac hasn’t been plagued with the security problems that Windows has.

But things are changing. As the Mac grows in popularity, it becomes a bigger target for hackers and the authors of virus programs. And of course, some of the biggest privacy and security risks a Mac user will face won’t be on the Mac itself. They’ll happen when personal data moves over the big, wide world of the Internet, where criminals are actually lurking, trying to steal data, identities, and—of course—money.

That’s why we created the brand-new Macworld Mac Security Superguide. In one handy 84-page volume, we’ve collected everything you need to know to keep yourself safe and secure, from the data on your hard drive to the data you send over the Internet. We show you how to protect your home network and avoid infection with nasty viruses.

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Join us for National Novel Writing Month

This November 1, marks the first day of National Novel Writing Month. It’s a fantastic event where regular people are encouraged to write a 50,000-word novel in 30 days.

If you always wished you could find the time to write a novel, maybe November is the right month to finally make that dream a reality.

In order to encourage Macworld readers to unlock their creativity, we’ve published several articles on topics related to NaNoWriMo. Today you’ll find articles from three Macworld contributors who have participated in the event and met the 50,000-word goal several times. In “Write a novel in 30 days”, Nathan Alderman gives you a tour of some of the best Mac tools for helping you organize and write your novel, as well as track your progress. Alderman also contributes a blog entry, “Advice from a noveling veteran,” with some sensible tips about how to make it to 50,000 words. (One of his suggestions—blogging your novel—seems pretty crazy. But the fact is, reading Nathan’s progress was an inspiration to me, and knowing that a few people were reading mine as I wrote it was a great spur to keep me writing.)

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Steve Jobs holds court

It’s not often that Steve Jobs appears on an Apple financial-results phone call. But there he was on Tuesday, appearing as a surprise “special guest” as Apple unveiled its fourth-quarter earnings. And he held court, making some scripted pronouncements, parrying with questioning analysts, and offering enough vague tidbits to whip Apple Kremlinologists into a frenzy.

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Among the biggest issues Jobs confronted was the ongoing global financial climate. Jobs opened by saying, “Some remarkable things are happening at Apple, but everything is set against this remarkable economic slowdown.” Later, he said, “We are not economists. Your next door neighbor can likely predict what’s going to happen as well as we can.”

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A visit with Guy Kawasaki

So for a whole bunch of reasons far too random to detail here, I ended up sitting in a restaurant attached to a Bay Area ice rink last week, watching skaters slip and fall while chatting with longtime Apple evangelist and Mac columnist, and current venture capitalist, Guy Kawasaki.

If you’ve never heard of Kawasaki, I’d like to explain, but as Inigo Montoya might say, there is too much. Let me sum up. He pioneered the concept of product evangelism, whipping up enthusiasm among users and developers for Apple’s products. Later he wrote columns for first MacUser and then Macworld for years (more on that in a bit). And now he’s got investments in a bunch of interesting companies.

One of the big topics of conversation during my sit-down with Guy—which happened in the late afternoon, so I can’t say I lunched or dined with him, though (full disclosure) he did buy me a Coke—was his web site venture, Alltop. Alltop basically aggregates the latest and greatest news on various topics (hundreds at last count) on a single page. So, for example, if you happened to be interested in the Mac, mac.alltop.com will provide you with a slew of links. iPhone fans similarly can see the latest on iphone.alltop.com. (Yes, Macworld and its sites appear on both of those pages, which are handpicked by the Alltop staff.) Pick another topic, be it beer or gardening, and you’ll see links for those topics, too.

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Apple makes two great iPhone moves

The past few days have seen Apple make two incredibly positive strides when it comes to iPhone development. If you haven’t heard, last weekend the company limited App Store reviews to those who had downloaded the product in question. And Wednesday the company announced that the blanket secrecy agreement on iPhone development was being lifted.

Last week I wrote an article critical of Apple’s App Store filtering policies. So it’s only fair that I respond to these two positive moves by Apple with some praise: Thank you, Apple, for making both of these changes and responding to the concerns of your third-party iPhone developers.

When I posted the article last week, several people contacted me, wondering why I hadn’t also discussed the iPhone Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) and the problems with user reviews on the iTunes store. The short version is, I felt that it was better to focus my article on the (still unresolved) App Store filtering policies rather than digress into various gripes about what Apple’s doing with iPhone development.

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