Ulysses 2.5 and a big new update for the iOS version

Writing A Novel with UlyssesIt’s no great secret that Ulysses is my writing tool of choice these days. I really can’t remember how I managed before I moved to it.

Today’s a big day for Ulysses users too. When the App Store swings into an action we’ll get an update of the Mac app to version 2.5. There’s also the release of a brand new version of the iOS app which makes it compatible with the biggest iOS device, the iPad Pro, and the smallest, any iPhone from the 4s up.

The Mac update is primarily under the bonnet stuff aimed at making iCloud sync faster and more efficient. One new feature is very welcome though — if you’re in the habit of splitting sheets there’s now a keyboard shortcut for the job: Command-Shift-B.

For iOS users the new version is very big news, much bigger than just compatibility with a broader range of devices. There are lots of new features and a fresh keyboard layout for writing and editing. All of this is covered in an update to my book Writing A Novel with Ulysses which has gone out on Kindle and iBooks today, with a new expanded section on iOS. It should be live soon though as ever the exact timing is beyond my control. You’ll be able to tell if it’s there since this edition has a new cover, above, and the version number 4.0

Which brings us to the perennial question I’m always asked when I do a free update to this book: how do you get it if you’re an existing buyer? If you bought it on iBooks the answer’s easy. You just follow these instructions and it should turn up automatically.

Unfortunately life’s a lot more complicated for Kindle users because Amazon refuse to send out automatic updates except in the case of books that contain technical errors. A comprehensive free upgrade isn’t enough. This explains everything. It’s daft but there’s nothing any author can do about it. The quickest way to get them to send you the update is to email them at, mention the title, and ask for it.

But fret not. Below you will find a condensed version of the new iOS section from the book which covers most of the new features I think will be of interest to someone writing a novel, which is the focus of the book. Hope you find it useful — and as ever many thanks to the ever-helpful folk at The Soulmen for their assistance in bringing out this update.


Little Sister: the third Pieter Vos book

91xEfCS+pOLDelighted to say that, as I finish the fourth book in the Vos series, the third, Little Sister, is now public and available for pre-order. It’s out from Macmillan on May 5 next year. The draft cover is on the right.

I’ll talk about the story in more detail closer to release. It sees Vos and Laura Bakker go beyond Amsterdam for the first time, into the rural area known as Waterland close to the city, along the vast inland lake once known as the Zuiderzee. A very different place indeed from the city Vos knows so well.

I try to make every book in a series different to the ones that come before. This is a tale about two troubled sisters, newly released from imprisonment, trying to unravel the truth about the family tragedy in which their parents and their little sister were murdered.


Richard Armitage gets another round of applause for Hamlet

It’s eighteen months or so since Hamlet, Prince of Denmark: A Novel appeared and still the audio production which I co-wrote with A.J. Hartley and which Richard Armitage so wonderfully narrates keeps attracting new listeners.

We’ve nearly two thousand ratings now on Audible, most of them a very flattering five stars. And now Audible have totted up customer opinions for their entire catalogue and come up with a list of the narrators who top the list among the growing audiobook audience.

No surprise that Mr. Armitage is up there for Hamlet I must say. Congratulations to him and my fellow author A.J. That turned out to be quite a project. You can browse the winners here.

Web/Tech Writing

Dark mode in Ulysses… yes it works

I’m a big fan of writing full screen with no menus, no distractions, nothing but text and any ideas or notes I want included. But dark mode? You get it in lots of apps these days and frankly I always thought it was a gimmick.

Then, while struggling with something in a hotel room, I thought I’d try it. Tip: with Ulysses the nature of the mode depends on the theme you’re using. This one is Freestraction.

And actually. I love it. I’m sure I’ll switch back and forth from time to time. But for a quick way to get a fresh look this is hard to beat. You can move between the two very easily using the keyboard shortcut Command-Opt-L.

Here’s the same thing — a scene heading, a brief synopsis and a couple of lines of opening text — in normal light mode.