On Writing

A place for dreams, advice, and essays on writing.

It’s Scary How Badly I Want This to Work

Ironically, the first time I said “It’s scary how badly I want this to work,” I wasn’t talking about novel writing.

I was talking about trying to set up a writing internship with my favorite gaming company, Bioware, whose Website (at the time) boasted something like, “Don’t see what you’re looking for here? Contact us and we’ll see what we can do to fit you in.” It doesn’t say that anymore so the wording isn’t quite right, but it gave that impression.

I saw that and said to myself, “Why not try? They have an opening for a writer anyway and I will be only one semester away from being fully qualified for the position. If they hire me as an intern over the summer they can get three months of equivalent quality writing at a fraction of what they would have to pay me in just six months when I finished my degree and I will get to work at BIOWARE!”

It sounded reasonable. The only problem was actually making it happen. I wanted to submit an application as though I were really applying for the listed writing job, which meant creating a module in their level creation tool…that I didn’t know how to use. [Read more…]

Feeling Some Writerly Love

Hello Blog Readers!

Today we take a break from our regularly scheduled program of useful links and amusing comics because I have a little anecdote to share with you 🙂

Two summers ago I had a writing internship with Advanced Illness Management (AIM), which is a new program by Sutter Hospice VNA in California.

For those of you who don’t know, Hospice is end of life care – mostly symptom management. It allows patients to die with comfort and dignity in their homes. AIM is a program that bridges the gaps between people who are actively dying (and should, therefore, be on Hospice) and people who still had several years of life left (and so would want to go to the hospital for any medical needs).

AIM gives people who are nearing the end of their life but still may want to pursue some curative options (something that’s not allowed for Hospice Patients) the support they need to live in their homes and as comfortably as possible.

During this internship [Read more…]

Author’s Tools: Authorgraph.com

Back in High School, when I first began to serious consider becoming a novelist, one of the perks of being rich and successful I enjoyed fantasizing about was getting to sign books for my inevitable fans.

Now, having decided on self-publishing mostly through eBook formats, I find that not being able to hold book signings or readings is one of the things that I regret the most. I miss being able to interact with my readers (preemptively at this point as my book isn’t even available).

This wistfulness, however, has been mostly resolved thanks to authorgraph.com.

Authorgraph is a Website that allows you to send free digital autographs to your readers! You can write personal messages, personalize your signature and everything! The only thing you can’t do is actually see your readers…

Still, this is a useful tool that all ePublishing authors should know about!

Is ePublishing a Cop-Out?

“I’m thinking about self-publishing my book as an eBook, what do you think?” I asked my friend Morgan about a year ago.

“That depends” Morgan – who is a talented writer herself – responded. “How confident are you in the writing and the story? If you think it’s good enough to pitch to a publisher then I would do that, if not ePublishing might be the way to go.”

That stung, but I knew she was speaking with the voice of popular opinion. Self-publishing was seen as the easy way out for lazy writers who didn’t want to put the time in to make their books good enough for “real publishers.” [Read more…]

Congratulations! Your English Major Isn’t Useless…if you sell out.

In the not too distant past, saying you were going to major in English was greeted with a knowing smile and the same old joke.

“Good idea,” your friendly adult figure would say. “With that and a quarter you’ll be able to buy a cup of coffee!” Everyone laughs – or rather, everyone chuckles because it’s a very old joke.

The implication, of course, was that an English major wouldn’t get you a well paying job so your degree was essentially useless.

These days prospective English majors are told a different story. “You know,” that same figure might say, “an English major is actually quite valuable in today’s market place. Everyone is looking for people who can think and write well.”

Though the aftertaste of uselessness clings to the word “actually;” this response is still undeniably better than listening to the same tired gag about your future mediocrity…isn’t it? Not really. [Read more…]

Writing Tools: One Word

writing tools, one word

Similar to 750 words, One Word is a tool that can help you write every day.

The advantage of One Word over 750 words is that it’s a significantly shorter time commitment.

Basically, the site will give you a single word prompt, you write for 60 seconds and you’re done. Do it again if you want or move on to something else. Congratulations, you just wrote today!

Writing Tools: 750 Words a Day

750 words

If you already follow my blog – fairly unlikely, I know, but there might be one or two of you out there – you might be surprised by this post after my Friday Essay yesterday, Writing Isn’t Always Writing.

However, here’s another truth for you: if you want to be a writer, you should write everyday and that’s the whole idea behind 750words.com.

750words provides you a clean, blank, private space in which to write and rewards you for your persistence with points and badges. I don’t know what it is, but I find imaginary points extremely motivating and achievement badges even more so!

750words also provides you metadata about your entries, which – if you write fiction might not be the look into your subconscious that it professes to be – is at least extremely fun to track.

Honestly, I’m not sure if I could have finished Nanowrimo – which I will be writing more about soon! – without 750words.

The bottom line is: this is a great tool for young and old writers alike.

Writing isn’t Always Writing

When a young writer says to a veteran, “I want to be a writer; what should I do?” the veteran typically replies, “Write. Write all the time, write everyday. Write in the shower, while you chew your cereal and in your sleep, because ‘writing is writing’ and the more you write the better you will get.”

This is good advice. It’s true that the more you write – in any style – the better you get at expressing your ideas elegantly and concisely. Technically, the idea that “writing is writing” is incontrovertible. And yet, even though most of my income for the past two and a half years has come from my writing, it has only been in the last few months that, when asked, I’ve been able to say, “I’m a writer” without feeling like a liar.

“Writing Professionally”

It’s possible that my feelings of fraud stem from my own insecurities about the quality of my work, but I don’t think so, or at least not mostly. The truth is: I haven’t felt like a writer because I haven’t been writing the things I want to write. To make money I’ve been writing link bait blog posts with screaming headlines that I usually only half believe or worse.

My mother once joked that I was being paid to “pollute the internet” and sometimes I thought she wasn’t far off. [Read more…]

To KDP Select or not to KDP Select, that is the question


KDP Select is a program that allows Amazon Prime subscribing Kindle users to borrow your book for free while still paying you pretty close to a full purchase royalty. KDP Select also pays you if your book is passed from one Kindle to another through the Kindle Lending Library. However, the catch is that you have to make your book Kindle exclusive for 90 days at a time.

I have read convincing arguments on both sides, but have been frustrated by how one sided any article I’ve come across has been. Articles will address the other side’s points – for example a KDP Select proponent will acknowledge that it limits audience – but then they try to make it seem like that’s not such a big deal.

Let’s see if we can’t look at a strong argument from both sides to come to a clearer understanding of the situation. [Read more…]

Blogger Resource: Free Backgroungs

This isn’t exactly a “writing tool,” but for writers who are trying to build a website (as I have been for the last couple days) it’s invaluable.

This site, grsites.com, has a wide variety of Website backgrounds that actually look good tiled – which can be hard to find, trust me, I spend quite a bit of time looking for the right background yesterday.

The only thing they ask in return is a link back to their site, such as the one contained in this article. It’s a pretty fair deal for making your blog aesthetically pleasing.