Monday, May 8, 2017

There’s an App for That—Apps to Make Your Writing Conference Experience Better

by Edie Melson @EdieMelson

Taking time now to download some handy apps can
stretch your conference dollar & enhance your experience!
The writing conference season is in full swing. While everyone knows the value of attending writing conferences, many be not be aware of the benefits gained with a few simple apps added to your mobile device(s). This month I’ll share some of my favorites, and how they help keep me on track.

The first thing you need to know is that the value of an app isn’t dictated by the cost. Many of my favorites are free, and the others are all quite reasonable.

Overall Organization
DropBox: This app needs to be loaded on your desktop (or laptop) computer first. Save all your documents in DropBox and you can access them from all of your devices. I have the paid version ($9.99 per month) but I also have thousands of photos I have saved there. For just documents, the free version has enough storage for the average user.

CamCard – Business card scanner & reader: The value of this app is that I no longer have to keep up with business cards. I can just snap a picture of the back and front of the card, pick a category, even add notes.

Evernote: You either love it or hate it. But the truth is there's no better overall organizational system out there. 

Taking Notes
Noteshelf: This is by far my favorite note taking app. It isn’t free (around $5), but is available for android and apple, in versions for the phone and tablet. I use this instead of carrying a notebook and pen (much better on my back). I also use the Apple Pencil and absolutely LOVE it! It also makes it almost impossible to lose my notes because it syncs with DropBox and EverNote.

Dragon Dictation: I love Dragon Naturally Speaking, but I think I love the app even more. I have it on my iPhone and my iPad. I can dictate notes directly into the app and email them to myself from anywhere. Just be sure to email them immediately, otherwise the note will disappear.

Making Connections
Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram: By now everyone knows the value of staying connected with social media. I have all the individual platform apps, just in case I want to post directly from there.

Hootsuite: This is my favorite way to share updates. This lets me post to FB, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. with just one click. I can also schedule updates so if I have several things to share I can avoid hogging the stream!

Places Around: This is a great app to help you find things you may need, from a pharmacy to fast food to parking. It’s easy to use and I’ve found it to be quite accurate.

More and more we’re connecting through images. It’s important that we have easy access to apps that make our images come to life.

WordSwag: This is a great app to add text to images. It’s completely free and my favorite.

Snapseed: This is my favorite app to help tune an image. I can crop, work on color, add filters, add frames, just about anything.

LastPass: In today’s world we need a password for almost everything—and for security they all have to be different. This app addresses that issue. It has a free version, which is excellent. But I use the paid version – only $12 a year. I can store all my passwords securely and only have to remember the one to my LastPass. You can access LastPass from all your devices.

White Noise: This app has an entire catalogue of soothing sounds to help even the worst insomniac relax. It includes a timer feature, as well as an alarm, so you can wake up as refreshed as you went to sleep.

Nook, Kindle, iBook: I make sure they’re all up-to-date and the books I want to read are installed on the device I’m using.

Audible: I love my Audible app. I sometimes prefer it to White Noise when I’m trying to unwind. It’s also great to use on the airplane, waiting in the airport, or traveling in the car.

Netflix: This is another favorite that I use to unwind back at the hotel. Sometimes all I need is a good laugh with some of my favorite shows to help put life back in perspective.

My final tip is this: before you leave home, make sure you’re logged into all your social media networks, like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Hootsuite, etc. This will save valuable time when you want to post an update on the go.

Now it's your time. There's no way any of us can know all the coolest apps. Which ones do you recommend? 

Don't forget to join the conversation!

There's an App for That: apps to enhance your #writing conference experience - @EdieMelson (Click to Tweet)

Apps can stretch your #writing conference dollars & enhance the experience - @EdieMelson (Click to Tweet)

NOTE: the original version of the article appeared in the September/October 2015 issue of Southern Writers Magazine. It has since been updated to reflect the changes in digital options.


  1. Thanks. You also can try MixNote. MixNote Take note with text, picture, to-do and voice. Hide private notes. Shake phone to record voice during a call.


  2. Edie, Thank you. I've didn't know about half of these. You are a great wealth of information. Can't wait to give you a hug at the conference.

  3. Edie,

    I love my Overdrive app. You need a public library card to use it but I download audio books for free on my phone with it. In the year or so I've been using Overdrive,it has greatly increased the number of books that I consume since with bluetooth the same book is something I can hear in my car or on the airplane.


  4. Hi Edie.
    Thanks for the tips. This is the 2nd time I've heard about Word Swag in two days! So I figure I better grab it. :-)

  5. Thanks, Edie. Although I know of most, you covered a few I was aware of. I can see how these are all helpful tools in today's tech-driven world.

  6. Thanks, Edie. I've learned so much from you over the years, and I implement quite a few of these apps already. Looking forward to trying more.