Front Page Calendar Links Archive Guidelines Software Feedback

Click below on name of editor / contributor for info and access to articles.


Steve Beisner
Melinda Palacio


Jim Alexander
Mary Rose Betten
Ned Bixby
Karl Bradford
Mary Brown
Ted Chiles
Chella Courington
Fran Davis
Julia Michelle Dawson
Karin delaPena
Sharon Dirlam
Dawn Downey
Karin Finell
Reyna Grande
JNelle Holland
Bill Honey
Beverlye Hyman Fead
Cheryl Joi
Catherine Ann Jones
Martha Lannan
Molly-Ann Leikin
Andre Levi
Anne Lowenkopf
Shelly Lowenkopf
Marcy Luikart
Josie Martin
Diana Raab
Joseph Riley-Portuges
Sojourner Rolle
Kathleen Roxby
Catherine Ryan Hyde
Alison Schaumburg
Rita Shaler-Nelson
Laura Slattery
Gia Sola
Erik Talkin
Karen Telleen-Lawton
Catherine Viel
Kathryn Wilkens
Dallas Woodburn

Search Ink Byte

Ink Byte Software
Free, professionally developed software for writers:
InkByte Tracker to help you organize and manage the submission of your work to journals, publishers, agents, or any market.
InkByte for Word to tame Microsoft Word.

Would you like to write for Ink Byte?
We're looking for good articles. Contact us with your ideas for an article, a column, an interview, or a "how-to". Send us events of interest to writers for the Calendar.

RSS Feed

Steve Beisner

Writer, poet, musician, software engineer, opinionated geek

Steve Beisner is a co-publisher and editor of Ink Byte.

A writer of short stories, poems, and novels. He is seeking publication of his first novel while working on his second.

Steve is a graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and is the sole designer of the software that assembles the finished Ink Byte magazine from hundreds of textual and graphical components.

Besides his writing efforts, which he considers his "full time" occupation, he does computer and network consulting.

Articles by Steve Beisner

The Silicon Amanuensis: Microsoft Word Revisited April 15, 2012 (Steve Beisner) What piece of modern technology is most responsible for the not-fit-for-polite-company vocabulary in your everyday speech? If you answered "Microsoft Word," you're in good company. But is Microsoft Word really that bad? Yes, and in some ways it may be getting worse. (complete article...)

Words on Paper -- New Releases of Libre Office and Scrivener March 16, 2011 (by Steve Beisner) The tools for writers just keep getting better. Cheaper too. Whether you like the basics (a good word processor) or are most productive with a writing tool that also helps with researching, noodling (what some call "thinking"), and organizing, new software versions are constantly being released. In this article we look at both ends of the spectrum: Libre Office as an example of modern word processors and Scrivner, representing the complete writers' environment. (complete article...)

Good News for The Santa Barbara Writers Conference July 17, 2010 (by Steve Beisner) The Santa Barbara Writers Conference is back! For the last two years Santa Barbara writers, including regular conference attendees from around the world, have felt a mid-June hole in their lives caused by the absence of the Santa Barbara Writers Conference. But after a recent public meeting it appears that lovers of good writing can begin making plans for June of 2011. (complete article...)

The Virtue of Focus, an Old Fashioned Strategy for Learning and Creativity January 23, 2010 (by Steve Beisner) An essay in which the author, an unabashed cheerleader for technology and especially computer culture, nevertheless argues for the utility of non-multitasked interaction of writers with their environment. (complete article...)

NOLA Writer: The Saints Are Marching December 11, 2009 (Steve Beisner) Every time I get back to my New Orleans home I feel like I've dropped a heavy backpack from my shoulders, reclined into an easy chair with a cold drink in my hand, and relaxed. In fact, that's often exactly what happens. Although New Orleans has a reputation for hard partying, it's also a place that encourages visitors and residents to slow down, de-stress, relax, and just muse about what it all means. Maybe that's why it's a good spot for writers. (complete article...)

A Conversation with Reyna Grande September 4, 2009 (Interview by Atria Books, article edited by Steve Beisner) Reyna Grande is interviewed by Atria Books, the publisher of her latest novel, Dancing with Butterflies. This second novel by Ms Grande will be available in October. It has received a Starred Review from Publishers Weekly. (complete article...)

What Makes a New Orleans Literary Event? August 27, 2009 (Steve Beisner) "We do things a little different, here," a woman said to me as we crowded into the Latter Library. That pretty much sums up a lot of life in New Orleans, and certainly the One Book One New Orleans party provided evidence of that.   I've heard deeper thinkers than myself talk about New Orleans' penchant for celebration of the commons. Maybe that's it. In any case it was great to see so many people come out for a Wednesday afternoon library party. (complete article...)

The Silicon Amanuensis: Apple Pages, a New Alternative for Writers July 31, 2009 (Steve Beisner) There's a new kid, or perhaps young adult, on the block where word processors live. For a long time Microsoft Word has been the big shot of word processing. Word Perfect has been showing its age for some time and is now doddering into oblivion. OpenOffice now matches Word in almost every area, is free, and is solid as a Humvee, but is also as ugly as one. Enter Apple's new version of the Pages word processor: capable and beautiful. (complete article...)

Write Me a Poem -- Creativity On Demand March 20, 2009 (Steve Beisner) "Assignment: Write a Poem About ..." Why is one thing easy to write about, while another leaves us mute, even when both are inherently interesting, complex, and full of possibilities? As a member of a group of poets asked to write poems inspired by the visual artist, Yinka Shonibare, I found the assignment surprisingly easy, and I wondered why. (complete article...)

How to Be Happy and (Unconventionally) Published February 4, 2009 (Steve Beisner) To mix a metaphor, "What if a short story fell in the woods and no one was there to read it?" We all want recognition and even riches, but many will confess that what got us started with the art and craft of arranging words, sentences, paragraphs, ideas, and stories was something more internal: the way we feel when the paragraph we've just completed lies before our eyes and is "right." (complete article...)

The Silicon Amanuensis: Tools for Writers, Fall 2008 Update October 21, 2008 (Steve Beisner) What's new with the computer tools available to the working writer? This update discusses the new release of OpenOffice, the current state of "writer's workbench" software, and other aids for people putting words onto paper. (complete article...)

A Flat Space To Write: Peet's Coffee October 12, 2008 (Steve Beisner) Another in our infrequent series on places for writers to write. Here we take a second look at the Peet's Coffee phenomenon. Coffee and Writing go together like plot and character. For many writers they're inseparable. You can always brew it at home, but as an antidote to solitude, there's nothing quite like a coffee house. But how does one café become an essential meeting spot, while another place with good coffee get few customers? (complete article...)

John Travis, Author, Publisher, Baseball Player, and Activist October 2, 2008 (Steve Beisner) Last month Ink Byte sat down with John Travis to talk about his recently published novel, Pitching in the Dark, about baseball, his activism on behalf of the mentally ill, his role as a small publisher, and his activities in support of New Orleans area writers. (complete article...)

The Silicon Amanuensis: Open Office 3.0 is World Class and Free May 23, 2008 (Steve Beisner) Though it is expensive and sometimes frustrating to use, Microsoft Word has long been the standard tool for word crafters. OpenOffice is a cooperatively developed ("open software"), free alternative to MS Office. The OpenOffice word processor (OO Writer) is a drop-in replacement for MS Word. Beyond the cost advantage, there are other good reasons why a professional writer might prefer OO Writer to Microsoft's offering. We review the newly available "beta" release of the next version, OpenOffice 3.0. (complete article...)

The Silicon Amanuensis: New Economic Realities and the Creative Writer February 25, 2008 (Steve Beisner) We've all experienced it: a nagging voice at the edge of our consciousness, still faint and incomprehensible, but gradually increasing in volume. We begin to notice a few things, seemingly unrelated. We're sure it all means something, but what? Then: BOOM! Everything changes and we feel foolish for not seeing what was coming. In retrospect it all seems so obvious. In the past I've spoken at writers conferences and written about how technology is changing the creative side of our work and opening new opportunities on the business side. This article looks at an aspect of the Internet that inspires fear in many: the economic devaluation of music, software and literary works. (complete article...)

The Silicon Amanuensis: Apple's Time Machine November 23, 2007 (Steve Beisner) Apple's new operating system won't change your life or solve the problem of world hunger, but it does have at least one new ability that will help writers avoid hair pulling, teeth gnashing, and anguished screaming. In typical Apple fashion, the computer and software company has immodestly dubbed this new feature Time Machine, but cute name or not, this one's a keeper. (complete article...)

The Silicon Amanuensis: Backup Without Tears July 1, 2007 (Steve Beisner) How long has it been since you lost work because you neglected to backup your manuscripts and other important files? Feel that emotional cramp in the pit of your stomach? "I should have backed up. Why didn't I save my work?" It's happened to all of us. One day we discover that hours or weeks of our best work seems to have evaporated from our computer's hard drive. Do we have a copy somewhere? Murphy says probably not. What if there was a magic wand that you could wave to prevent all this pain? There is: read on. (complete article...)

The Silicon Amanuensis: Beyond Clay Tablets May 9, 2007 (Steve Beisner) Wandering again from the path of modern high tech to the less traveled byways of earlier writing technology, we look at paper and especially at the classic, ruled and bound "legal pad." Writers reach for this dependable companion without a thought of its history, and nothing is better when we need to set down that poem or short story idea before the muse rushes out the door, leaving us empty headed. (complete article...)

The Silicon Amanuensis: Taking Pen In Hand... January 30, 2007 (Steve Beisner) Departing from our usual emphasis on electronic tools like word processors, tracking software, and personal computers, we look at writing pens: hand held devices for putting real ink onto physical paper. We don't recommend that you dispose of your computer, but maybe you should consider the advantages of handwriting! (complete article...)

Software to Manage Your Submissions: The Ink Byte Tracker December 1, 2006 (Steve Beisner) Writers, whether they pen short stories, poems, novels, how-to articles, memoirs, plays, screenplays, self-help books, creative non-fiction, history, songs, or even jokes, all must sell their work. For most of us that means submissions, lots of submissions... and rejections, lots of rejections. Wouldn't it be nice to have someone handle it for you? The Ink Byte Tracker software won't do all the work, but it will make the process into an easy routine. In addition, it can help you extract useful information from that mountain of rejection slips, information that will make you smarter about what you submit, to whom you submit, and when. Oh, by the way, Ink Byte Tracker is free software. (complete article...)

A Jazz Funeral for Keith aka "Fred Flames" November 4, 2006 (Steve Beisner. Photos by Melinda Palacio) What does a New Orleans Jazz Funeral have to do with writing? As it turns out, everything and nothing. Everything because peak experiences provide both the energy to write and the subjects to write about. Nothing, because nothing is "about" anything unless we make it so. Steve Beisner uses his license as an Ink Byte editor to digress on life, death, and doing the work. (complete article...)

The Silicon Amanuensis, Part 4: A Microsoft Word Template: Order From Chaos August 11, 2006 (Steve Beisner) In our last installment of The Silicon Amanuensis we saw how paragraph styles can bring consistency and convenience to the formating of manuscripts. In this installment we provide the InkByte For Word template, downloadable from the Ink Byte Software site, designed specifically for the preparation of manuscripts for short stories, novels, memoirs, and the like. The template contains a set of predefined styles, as well as a special InkByte toolbar to help make Microsoft Word into a better manuscript preparation tool. [ARTICLE REVISED 8/22] (complete article...)

The Silicon Amanuensis, Part 3: With Microsoft Word It's a Matter of Style February 20, 2006 (Steve Beisner) Now that we've gained basic control over how Microsoft Word formats our manuscripts, we explore how we can achieve beginning-to-end consistency, even in a large manuscript, and how we can use paragraph styles for multiple formats of a manuscript: one way for revising and editing, another to save paper, and another for final copy... without changing much of anything! (complete article...)

The Silicon Amanuensis, Part 2: Microsoft Word Ate My Manuscript! January 31, 2006 (Steve Beisner) If you're like most professional writers, you use Microsoft Word, and this may sound familiar: You've set the font, page margins, paragraph indentation, and other formating exactly the way you want; then something happens and your carefully crafted masterpiece is transformed into gibberish that could have been typed by your four year old nephew. Your paragraphs are reformatted, spelling "corrected," punctuation modified, alignment changed, and new headings created. Welcome to Microsoft Word Hell. In this installment of The Silicon Amanuensis you'll learn how to tell Word that you're a grownup; if you want your manuscript messed up, you'll do it yourself. (complete article...)

Speaking Of Stories Kicks Off Its 2006 Season January 24, 2006 (Steve Beisner) Speaking of Stories' first-of-the-season performance was Monday, January 23rd at the Lobero Theater. The evening set a high standard, promising people who love good stories, good theater, or both, that 2006 will be an especially fine year to enjoy this uniquely Santa Barbara institution. (complete article...)

A Flat Space To Write: Finestra November 19, 2005 (Steve Beisner) On Figueroa Street, around the corner from the Santa Barbara Art Museum, and looking as though it might have been designed by the museum's interior decorator, is the Finestra Cafe. Having heard people whisper that Finestra is somewhat militantly Christian, I've avoided the place, but now I'm happy to report that the atmosphere, while decidedly wholesome, is not aggressively so. In practice the religiosity has been muted, tempered by Santa Barbara's ubiquitous live and let live secularism. (complete article...)

The Silicon Amanuensis, Part 1: The Sorcerer's Apprentice November 13, 2005 (Steve Beisner) If you're a writer and you don't use a computer, then you have my greatest respect and admiration, but I'll have little to say to you in this series of articles. For everyone else, this series will help you achieve a comfortable relationship with what has become an essential tool for most writers. Like Harry Potter's magic wand, this marvel can free you from drudgery, but if you use it carelessly, or abdicate your responsibilities, you may accidently turn yourself and your work into a horned toad. (complete article...)

Boxtales' The Odyssey October 8, 2005 (Steve Beisner) Most would acknowledge the Homeric epic, The Odyssey as good literature... and avoid it at all costs. Such is the modern reaction to the Greek classics. In the case of the Boxtales Theater Company's updated theatrical production, this reaction would be a mistake: this is great theater. One would be hard pressed to imagine a better, more genuinely exciting telling of this story. A World Premiere. (complete article...)

A Flat Space To Write: Reds Coffee October 3, 2005 (Steve Beisner) Take a trip back in time to Santa Barbara in the seventies: hot tubs were recently invented, Mountain Drive and Painted Cave were the places to be if you were young and hip (or hippie!), and a "coffee house" was a center of everything counter-cultural. Reds is more than that, but it does serve up modern technology (the Internet) blended with memories of a friendlier time. (complete article...)

New Orleans Is Not Lost September 25, 2005 (Steve Beisner) Rubbish: "New Orleans Gone Forever." In the wake of hurricanes Katrina and Rita I've seen the headline a dozen times now. The self-important newspaper editorialist will go on to say that perhaps New Orleans will be rebuilt, though he's not too sure it's a good idea, but in any case, it will never be the same. They just don't know New Orleans, hometown and adopted city to generations of writers, artists, and musicians. (complete article...)

Review of the News-Press Review of Ink Byte July 24, 2005 (Steve Beisner) Everybody likes to have their work noticed. If you've contributed to Ink Byte, here's what the Santa Barbara News Press thinks of your work so far. (complete article...)

Review: Wicked, the Novel and the Musical June 27, 2005 (Steve Beisner) Wicked is a parable for today, a retelling of the Oz story which pleads with us to look past the "truth" of our leaders, and past our "obvious" understanding of the characters of people in our lives. The musical plays at the Pantages Theater until July 31st. (complete article...)

Switching: Thinking About Leaving Microsoft For Apple June 12, 2005 (Steve Beisner) Your computer will never be your friend. Despite appearances, it just doesn't care. It's a stupid machine, but a powerful one, so it can wrek havoc in an instant. The best we can hope for is one that will behave well, not catch a virus, and will stay out of our way. (complete article...)