Theoretical Physicist, Professor, Bestselling Author, Popularizer of Science



Another Writing Contest

I read about another writing contest that looks interesting. It’s the U.S.A. Best Book Awards (usabooknews.com) that has a deadline in September 2016 but offers a free publicity package if the entry is postmarked on or before 12/31/15. So, I make a trip to the post office tomorrow. The contest has quite a few categories, and I’m entering Secret Visions in the Young Adult Fiction and New Age Fiction groups. The cost is $69 per category. I believe the results are announced in November 2016. Perhaps by then I will have Power Surge completed and published and can submit that one as well.

Entering the contests is fun and something I’ve never done before. Hopefully, I will at least get a runner-up award for some of these that will help my ego and marketing efforts.

Writing Contests

This is turning into an expensive day for me. I think Secret Visions has the potential to make a difference in the world, so I paid a $185 registration fee to Nautilus Book Awards in the Young Adult Fiction category. The submission deadline is January 30, 2016, and winners are announced in May, 2016. I also believe enough in my book to pay $99 to submit it to the Writer’s Digest Self-Published Awards competition. The deadline for this competition is in May and winners are announced in October 2016. I’ll drop the books off at the post office tomorrow and then buckle down and get busy writing Power Surge. Secret Visions is published through CreateSpace, an Amazon subsidiary.

How do you Write a Novel?

I’ve only written one novel, Secret Visions,  but I can tell you what resources finally got me on the right track after a few failed attempts. My first inspiration came from the Writer’s Digest Novel Writing Yearbook in the Summer 2014 issue. If you can still get this as an online download, do it. The issue has book excerpts and articles from various authors, and it includes an article that gives the optimal word count for different genres that was a tremendous help.

The very first article in the magazine is an excerpt from K. M. Weiland’s book,  Outlining Your Novel. This was an eye opener for me, and I bought the book. While that book was useful, her Structuring Your Novel is indispensable. It allowed me to map out a plan to keep the action flowing. Her discussion of plot points and pinch points became my bible and stayed on my nightstand for the five months it took me to write the first draft of Secret Visions (after thinking about it for four years.)

Two free software tools that I find useful are yWriter5 for outlining and FreeMind that allows the writer to map out the story using a flexible tree-like logical structure that enables the user to add branches to the trunk. For example, for Secret Visions I had one branch for major plot points, and another branch for conflicts. These two main branches were then subdivided and the details were outlined. With these two tools, I could keep everything online and organized. Even my characters’ bios were stored in yWriter.

Finally, when I was finished with the first draft, I used Microsoft’s PowerPoint to create a timeline of major events to make sure that the timeframes made sense. Once I did this, I discovered one whole month where nothing happened, so I added a couple of murders.

I hope these tips encourage someone else to take the plunge and start writing.


Back to Writing

My dog died unexpectedly of a heart attack on 11/6/15, a month short of his 9th birthday. He was a shiba inu, and I thought I had a few years left with him. I was just beginning to understand him. Someday, he will show up in a story either as a human character with his personality or as a ghost dog.

Meanwhile, I am recovered enough to write again. I worked on my second novel yesterday, and it felt great. Eight hundred words is a good day for me. Emir is turning into a barefoot hippie and pissing his parents off. Such fun. I love my characters.