What I’ve Learned in My First Year as a Business Owner

It was a year ago that Val and I made a decision that would change our lives. Hard to believe it’s already been a year. I can still remember how tentative everything was, how there seemed to be these contradicting sensations of both unbounded optimism and total non-permenance. I know I’ve made a lot of mistakes, but none of them has stamped out what has become a successful business.

No, we’re not driving Lexus SUVs and living on a horse farm outside of Lexington (yet), but one year in and our business is completely debt-free and has been for eleven of the past twelve months. I’m prouder of that fact than I ever could be of any fancy SUV.

So, what has owning this business taught me? Read More »

Notebook next to computer.

How to Outline a Novel for NaNoWriMo 2015

Notebook next to computer.Before I start, I want to make it perfectly clear that this is not the only way to outline a story, nor is it a guaranteed formula for success. I don’t believe there are formulas for success. However, it is my hope that this will help someone, as these methods and techniques have helped me over the years.

Anyone who has been writing for a while knows there are two kinds of writers: plotters and pantsers. Plotters figure out what’s going to happen in their story before they ever start writing it. Pantsers sit down and write with no idea what comes next. If you’re a plotter, or curious about the outline process, NaNoWriMo may be the perfect time to exercise your outlining skills. Read More »

Man on a laptop.

How to Write a Novel in 30 Days (Or Less!) NaNoWriMo 2015

Man on a laptop.With so many writers embarking on National Novel Writing Month from November 1st through November 30th, I thought now would be a good time to write about how it’s even possible to write a novel in 30 days.

Writing a novel in 30 days means writing an average of 1667 words EVERY DAY. For some, this is an astronomically high number of words. Others may knock this out while their coffee is brewing in the morning.

In order to “win” NaNoWriMo, you’ll need to be intentional about your writing. In other words, you need a plan and a strategy days when things don’t work out as planned.

I’ve come up with a 5-point plan that can be done in an afternoon—or less. Also, as long as you don’t actually write anything before NaNoWriMo, you can do all of this before NaNoWriMo starts. With that in mind, here’s my advice on how to win NoNoWriMo: Read More »

GoldTouch Keyboard
My GoldTouch Keyboard configured in "Boring Mode".

Keyboards and Repetitive Stress Injury – An Experiment in Progress

GoldTouch Keyboard

My GoldTouch Keyboard configured in “Boring Mode”.

For at least two years now, I’ve been suffering off-and-on with pain in my arm when typing. This pain seems to be related to my neck, and when I apply a heating pad to my neck and take Varlarian root (an herbal relaxer I found years ago to deal with my low back problems), it usually gets better, but it doesn’t go away until I can pop my neck. In fact, once my neck pops, I feel relief go all the way down my arm and I can usually go the rest of the day without significant pain. I’ve assumed this was all caused by a car wreck I had in ’08 where my neck was stretched and the liniments in my neck were strained. Now, I’m rethinking the idea that the cause is in my neck.

Let me start a the beginning and work my way forward.

Years ago, I thought I had carpel tunnel and my psychical therapist showed me A) that it wasn’t carpel tunnel and B) how to alleviate that pain. Even after the pain subsided, I decided to use ergonomic keyboards from that point forward. I got a Microsoft Ergonomic Media keyboard with hotkeys for Windows 98/XP and wrote four novels with it (all unpublished, I wasn’t a great writer). By that time, many of the keycaps were worn smooth and the spacebar actually had a grove on it from my thumb hitting it so much. Then, sometime after novel attempt #4, the cord shorted out and I couldn’t buy a direct replacement, as Microsoft had discontinued that particular generation of product. Read More »


The To-Read StackToday is apparently National Writing Day, and I had no idea until I saw the top trending topic on Twitter is #WhyIWrite. Twitter does seem to be the epicenter for writers and social media.

Why I write is simple. I write because the story is inside me, demanding to be let out. I write because I can’t imagine a world in which those stories exist only inside me. I write because there’s freedom in yelling to the call. I write because I believe in the deepest parts of my soul that writing is what God created me for. I write because it’s my life’s work.

I write because it’s time, because it’s what I need to do. And, I wager, that’s why you write too.

The Magic Formula

We all want a magic formula for something. Finding love, making money, losing weight, curing depression—if people want it, there’s a self-help book out there offering a magical formula for success. Rarely does the advice in any of these books bring the things they promise to their readers, and when it does happen, it’s arguable that it would have happened anyway, book or not.

People who succeed in life have a lot of characteristics in common. While I wouldn’t go so far as to call it a magic formula, it would do all of us well to incorporate some of these characteristics into our own lives. In no particular order, here’s my (largely) incomplete list:

Read More »

Why I Stopped Using Celtx

Notice that the title of this post is why I quit using Celtx. Not why you should, not why anyone else should, and certainly not why I think Celtx is rubbish. In fact, I loved Celtx for many, many years.

After the demise of Sophocles 2003 software in 2007, Celtx became the tool on which I cut my screenwriting teeth. I will forever be grateful to Greyfirst Corp. for the development they made on Celtx. Going from early versions to the last desktop release, version 2.9.7, there was always a great palette of tools—index cards, a scratchpad (invaluable), embedded notes. I wrote my first three features in Celtx, countless shorts, and started all of my current screenwriting WIPs on Celtx. I even won a screenwriting competition using Cetlx software. But I’ve moved on… and here’s why. Read More »