Category Archives: Worthy citizens of the Twitterverse

Writers: you are REQUIRED BY LAW to visit Livia’s brainy blog

You don’t have to be a brain surgeon to write books or become, I don’t know, the governor of Alaska.

Don't let the hat fool you. Beneath that hat is the brain of an actual brain scientist who focuses her powers on using science to help writers. She is not a wannabe gangster, at least not that I know of; maybe she does use her giant brain to rob banks or mess with the stock market . Go visit her blog.

HOWEVER: There is an honest-to-goodness neuroscientist grad student at MIT who uses serious brain Science to help writers craft amazing things. Yes, she may look 20 years old, and frankly, she could be 12 or 257 years for all I care, because she is a freaking genius.

Her blog about using brain science to help writers is seven entirely separate types of awesome, and it is a public service to writers all over the planet.

Governments should give her big fat tax subsidies. Billionaires riding around on their yachts should take a second to write her a grant or six.

If you’re a writer, a reader or at all literate in the English language, go visit her blog to get educated and enlightened. She also has a book, which you can purchase with your fake digital monies over the Series of Tubes.

You can also follow the whippersnapper genius on the Twitter at @lkblackburne

For people who like things all neat and organized:

A Brain Scientist’s Take on Writing

Livia Blackburne on the Twitter:



Guy - Photo by Suhyoon Cho

Guy – Photo by Suhyoon Cho

Reformed journalist. Scribbler of speeches and whatnot. Wrote a thriller that was a finalist for some award.


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Filed under 6 Friendly Friday, Barons of the Blogosphere, Worthy citizens of the Twitterverse

Writers: enter this 200-word flash fiction contest – DO IT NOW

The writers that I know and love all do the same thing: they write more than they talk.

And to them, 200 words is nothing.

Bam, here you go. Next?

So use your clickity mouse and get your penmonkey behind to this flash-fiction contest, over at the Soul and Sweet Tea blog.

DO IT NOW. Then come back here and I’ll tell you a secret.

Joey the Francisco of Soul and Sweet Tea

Joey the Francisco of Soul and Sweet Tea, a great blog for writers and book lovers. Go visit it.

Why do this?

I’ll tell you why.

  • First, you need a break — something to write with no pressure, no worries. Whether you’re a screenwriter or speechwriter, a newspaper reporter or a novelist, IT IS REQUIRED that you stretch a different writing muscle sometimes. You can’t keep doing the same thing forever. The contest includes a bunch of photos as writing prompts. People of the interwebs, this is easy peasy, lemon squeezy.
  • Second, the person behind this blog, Joey the Francisco, is not only a crazy smart writer (a scientist type, and president of some nuclear medicine shebang). No. She’s also kind, witty and a writer of thrillers. Trifecta, people. Ta-righ-fek-TAH.
  • Third, I am a secret GUEST JUDGE for this contest.

Don’t tell anybody. That would ruin the secret.

Pretend you don’t know or ask Will Smith to wipe out your memory of this post, along with your memories of WILD WEST, BAD BOYS 2 and I AM LEGEND, which put the B in Boring despite featuring mondo zombies. I did not think this was possible.

How can a movie with zombies be Snooze City? Then again, LAYER CAKE is (1) a mob movie, with (2) all kinds of action and violence that (3) starred Daniel 007 Craig, and it was perhaps the most boring movie on the planet until HUGO came out. My God.

Back to the flash fiction shebang: Have I been a judge of literary contests before? Sure. This is not my first rodeo. Have I competed in rodeos before? No. Cage matches to the death against mountain lions and bear? Also no.  They are my neighbors, and as long as they leave me alone — and I consider pooping on my land at 3 a.m., when I’m asleep, as leaving me be — then I’ll leave them alone.

HOWEVER: those were Serious Contests about Serious Things, and what I wrote for comments was seriously tame.

This is pure fun. So go, do it, be wild. Write whatever you want for 200 words. THIS IS AMERICA, unless you are in Canada, the UK, Australia or whatever. Either way, I am pretty damn sure writing flash fiction won’t get you a visit from the secret police, unless you’re in Syria, North Korea and about six other places I can’t remember right off.

While we are at it, and because it’s Friendly Friday, this blog we’re talking about — Soul and Sweet Tea — is good stuff. Go show Joey the Francisco some writerly love by subscribing to the blog and following her tweets . She is not annoying and would never pimp books 25 hours a day, eight days a week, because she has wonderful manners, even on the Series of Tubes.

Note: Some folks have reported TECHNICAL PROBLEMS with posting their brilliant 200 words on Joey’s blog. Do not erase your flash fiction or fall into a steaming vat of despair. Post those 200 words as a comment here and I’ll send minions to get those words to Atlanta in time for the contest deadline (Sunday).


Filed under 6 Friendly Friday, Barons of the Blogosphere, Worthy citizens of the Twitterverse

Friendly Friday: Amanda the Nelson of DEAD WHITE GUYS: An Irreverent Look at Classic Literature

We all read them in high school, then college. You know the books I’m talking about: the classics.


I’m talking about literature, except true literary snobs pronounce it “lit-RAH-sure.”

It’s these Great Books that we all flipped through at three in the morning, cranking out a term paper fueled by beer with fish on the can and Camel cigarettes bummed from your roommate as you dream up phrases like “the author’s framework includes a subtle critique of dialectical materialism buried within the character’s clear delineation of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs” until you hit about 7:15 a.m., with the paper due on the professor’s desk at 8 a.m. sharp, so you start busting out sentences like “The last chapter’s use of the hierarchical opposition of day and night, does, in fact, highlight the artificial constructs of love/hate, life/death and hunger/satiation, when clearly there are no such boundaries except as defined by man — or woman,  or cyborgs, sufficiently intelligent dolphins and chimpanzees trained in the art of ESL.”

Amanda the Nelson reads the classics for us so we don’t have to.

Then she writes  about these books with insight and hilarity.

Her blog is a public service.


One of my favorite blogs OF ALL TIME.

YOU MUST READ IT. Go back and click on that link.

Because honestly, all these classics do have interesting things to say, and Big Ideas worth pondering. They were simply written in a time when authors didn’t believe in these things we like to call “paragraphs” and “books that weigh less than a Volkswagen Passat.” Some of these guys make 1,032-page Stephen King novels look like their standard prologue. You know, just warming up them there writing muscles.

Amanda the Nelson

Amanda the Nelson reads the classics so you don't have to. Her blog is a public service. Go read it. DO IT NOW.

Amanda doesn’t talk about these classics in the usual pretentious language that we’re used to. Instead, she is hilarious.

Here is her post on why she writes in an irreverent way, a post worth reading simply because it’s damned funny:

And I believe Amanda’s brutal, honest wit makes her better, not worse, as a critic. Because your average book critic says, “Hey, this was good,” or “This book stinks up the joint,” except they spend 500 words to say it, wasting 495 of those words (a) profiling the author, (b) comparing this book to the author’s previous stuff, (c) being so polite about it that you’re not sure what they really mean or (d) being so mean it makes you wonder if the critic hates the author instead of the book — you know, because of the thing with the guy at that place.

And here’s a bit about her from her blog, which gives you a flavor of her as a writer.


Greetings! I’m Amanda Nelson, and I live in Richmond, Virginia. I’m married and have one cat and a set of identical twin boys named Rhett and Atticus, even though children scare me (especially the ones in those sad, sad backpack-leash things). I love the following: literary tattoos, irony, those cats that look like little leopards, castles, earl gray tea, couch naps, having an ambiguous ethnicity that allows me to blend in anywhere, Ella Fitzgerald’s voice, Jesus,  rain when there are no clouds, the smell of honeysuckle, writing real letters (BE MY PEN PAL), and rose perfume. I do not love: post-modernism, fake nails, being sticky, celebrity politics (shuddup Sean Penn, for the love of holy hot pants), small dogs, the color yellow and therefore bananas, fast food, Twilight, reading for escapism, hammocks that are made of rope instead of canvas, chinese food, my husband’s driving, and reality television. 

Amanda Nelson is a freelance writer and blogger from Richmond, Virginia. She is the sarcastic-yet-earnest voice behind the blog Dead White Guys: An Irreverent Guide to Classic Literature. Amanda is also a weekly contributor to BOOK RIOT, a bookish news and social commentary site. She specializes in honest book reviewing and reader-focused literary criticism, and is a member of the National Book Critics Circle. She has a Bachelor’s in History from Virginia Commonwealth University, which she mostly uses to sound smart at parties.

See? What’d I tell you. She is ONE OF US.

Because it has become a tradition, and because you may have lost her blog link already, here’s the typical Friendly Friday plug.

Amanda Nelson of Dead White Guys: An Irreverent Guide to Classic Literature


The Twitter: @deadwhiteguys

Note: these Friday shout-outs are (1) always a surprise and (2) never in exchange for bottles of wine, boxes of chocolate or suitcases stuffed with purple euros. Do I want folks to nominate worthy bloggers, tweeters and writers? NO NO NO. Because then I’d be writing friendly shout-outs to people that I don’t read, people I don’t know one bit, making it all fake and mercenary, except for the getting paid part. I have to be inspired, to see a blog post or a tweet and want to tell the world, or at least the Series of Tubes.  

Related posts:

Friendly Friday: Theresa Stevens, Glowing Mystical Being

Friendly Friday: Gwen the Hernandez, Scrivener Goddess


Guy - Photo by Suhyoon Cho

Guy – Photo by Suhyoon Cho

Reformed journalist. Scribbler of speeches and whatnot. Wrote a thriller that was a finalist for some award.



Filed under 6 Friendly Friday, Barons of the Blogosphere, Worthy citizens of the Twitterverse

Friendly Friday: Gwen the Hernandez, Scrivener Goddess

Chances are, anybody writing a novel, screenplay or regular-old play has come to love and hate Word.

Mostly hate.

Whenever a piece gets long and complicated, Word starts to fail you.

After 5,000 words or so, it takes five minutes of fussing with the mouse to scroll around to where you need to work. Anything of length becomes a chore. Navigating your immense document becomes more work than writing more words.

This is where Gwen the Hernandez can help.

Gwen the Hernandez

Gwen the Hernandez is literary muffin of stud. Also, not even the peoples who INVENTED Scrivener know more about it than her.

She is not only an author and blogger, but an expert at Scrivener, which is designed to help writers crank out stuff that is long. Especially novels and screenplays.

This was an accident. Gwen didn’t go to college to major in Scrivener or whatever.

From using it, and writing helpful posts on her blog, she branched out and is now busy writing SCRIVENER FOR DUMMIES, and getting paid to be, I don’t know, some kind of world-class expert on the thing.

This is good for Gwen, good  for writers and good for America.

(Sidenote: I’m not leaving out writers in the UK, Australia and whatnot on purpose. It’s just that the Bob Dole triple-play doesn’t work unless you end it on “good for America.”)


SCRIVENER FOR DUMMIES by Gwen the Hernandez. If you're a writer of novels or screenplays, and you are even thinking about using Scrivener, you want to check her blog and maybe, one day, save your pennies to buy her book.

Also, Gwen the Hernandez is blonde, wrote some kind of novel that was a finalist for some award, likes to puts on a gi to punch people / get punched and has ties to the Air Force.

It’s as if I have a female doppleganger on the East Coast.

Gwen, I raise my massive mug of caffeine in your direction.

Visit her blog — and sign up for the thing by email or whatever:

Also, follow her on the Twitter:


Guy - Photo by Suhyoon Cho

Guy – Photo by Suhyoon Cho

Reformed journalist. Scribbler of speeches and whatnot. Wrote a thriller that was a finalist for some award.



Filed under 6 Friendly Friday, Barons of the Blogosphere, Worthy citizens of the Twitterverse

Friendly Friday: Theresa Stevens, Glowing Mystical Being

Long ago, in a galaxy far, far away … I wrote a love letter to editors.

You can read it here: The evil secret to ALL WRITING – editing is everything

And in that post, I called editor Theresa Stevens “a glowing, mystical being.”

Now, it is true that Theresa the Stevens is a professional editor of novels, and her red pen is wickedly sharp.

HOWEVER, you don’t go straight from “editor of novels and former literary agent” to “glowing, mystical being.” It takes a couple of paragraphs to get that far. In fact, these paragraphs:

If you really want to write for monies, and pay the mortgage doing it, you’ve got to go all in with an editor who wields their Red Pen of Doom for monies, too. Not your husband or wife or best friend. Not a coworker. Not a friend who also writes something sort of close to what you’re doing, even if they write for monies. You need somebody who edits for cash.

It’s an achy breaky big mistakey to use a non-pro as your editor. Friends and family may be great readers of books but horrible at editing. Either way, you’ll take what they say far too personally.

Dreams will be crushed. Friendships will fray. Marriages will sour. DO NOT DO THIS.

Even if you’re friends with somebody who writes for a living, and they say sure, they’ll edit you as a favor, that might be OK for one small piece. A short story. Your first shot at a stump speech. But not anything of length. And not as a habit. When you start cashing checks for what you write, stop being a freeloader. Set your friend free. Better yet, don’t lean on the friend too much in the first place. Because they’re your friend. They won’t tell you if you truly stink up the joint.

Think about how long it takes a human being to write and rewrite and rewrite a novel and synopsis and query letter. Hundreds of hours. Bazillions. Think about paying yourself minimum wage for those hours. Then close your eyes and imagine there’s a glowing mystical being who, for the price of the complete first and second seasons of The Jersey Shore on DVD, could save yourself hundreds of more hours of pain while making you (a) seem incredibly brilliant and (b) have ten times the shot of not only getting the damn thing published, but making decent money at it.

I’ve been writing for monies for a long time, and I’ve had all kinds of editors. Good ones, average ones — and a few amazing ones. Theresa the Stevens is a treasure of an editor.

So, writers of the world: go to Theresa’s blog to soak up her wisdom, and follow her on the Twitter, because she is funny there.

Bloggity blog goodness:

Twitter: @TheresaStevens

Show her that the series of tubes isn’t full of trolls, and that we writers know a good thing — especially a Glowing Mystical Being — when we see it.


Filed under 6 Friendly Friday, Barons of the Blogosphere, Worthy citizens of the Twitterverse