My pearls of writing wisdom are now totally shucked

Now available by clicking here! Or I can drive to your house with a copy...
Now available by clicking here! Or I can drive a copy to your house…

Yesterday afternoon it became official! Any typos that I, my publisher or book editor may have missed are now on their way to the printers, where they will live forever in black and white to haunt me at book festivals, workshops and conventions.

“Hey Mr. Hickson! Will you sign my book on page 50, right above where it says ‘If you want to be a writer, you can never give up dope?'”

All joking aside, after reading through it for the final time before signing off on it for my publisher, I pushed the “send” button feeling truly excited to share this book. While my weekly columns and blog posts are certainly an extension of me, this book is even more personal because it’s an opportunity to take what I’ve learned over the last 16 years and share it directly with other writers (as opposed to just sitting in a bar and mumbling to whoever’s next to me).  Continue reading My pearls of writing wisdom are now totally shucked

If you want to be a writer, you really need to talk to someone

image Yes, it’s true: Friday is finally here! And so is Ned’s Nickel’s Worth on Writing, both of which are awaited for with equal amounts of anticipation! Just like French toast and mustard; your favorite TV show and a power outage; or a great hair day and tornado warning. Why so much anticipation? Because this weekly feature on writing, culled from my 15 years as a columnist and presented to readers for a mere nickel, has been referred to by Consumer Reports as “worth every penny, unless it’s Canadian.” That’s right. Many of today’s most influential writers got their start right HERE. Or at least in this general vicinity, most definitely somewhere on the planet. Here’s what some of them have to say… (and by “them,” I mean some of the greatest fictitious writers of our time):

“I set my clock by his post. Without it, I wouldn’t know when my Matlock reruns come on…”

“Each week, he offers an oyster with a pearl inside. And each week I say to myself, ‘shuck it.'”

“If you have writing questions, Ned’s Nickel’s Worth has answers. Just not about writing…”

The accolades go on, but enough of that! Let’s get to this week’s edition of Ned’s NWOW, brought to you by this yesterday’s coffee, today’s deadline and my friends at Gliterary Girl, where my NWOW also appears each week. At least until they change the passcode… Continue reading If you want to be a writer, you really need to talk to someone

Finding your muse: She’s always the last place you look

image When you consider that there were nine Muses in Greek mythology, you’d think finding yours would be pretty easy. In fact, I’m looking for mine right now. The Muses, as you probably know, were all extraordinarily beautiful women (remember, philosophers were all men back then), with names like Fallopia, Urethra, Tetracycline, Chlamydia, Herpes, etc., and were the daughters of mighty Zeus and the goddess of personified memory… uh, whose name escapes me. Each muse served as inspiration for different art forms, such as literature, oration, sculpture, music, Reuben sandwiches, and others.

I realize that last paragraph probably guaranteed that my muse is now hovering over our unsuspecting copy editor who, at this moment, is jotting down an outline for the next blockbuster literary franchise. But that’s OK! I like our copy editor. If she achieves fame and fortune with the help of my angry muse, I will be happy for her. I won’t buy her damned book, but I’ll be happy for her. Continue reading Finding your muse: She’s always the last place you look

Do you feel a draft? It’s time to revise your manuscript

Do you feel a draft? Whether writing a 500-word column or 400-paged manuscript, there comes that satisfying moment when you hit the final keystroke. The sound echoes, in slow motion, reverberating through your body and outward, catching anyone within a three-mile radius in its ripple effect.

Outside your window, traffic comes to a stop. Drivers and pedestrians join together, taking time from their day to cheer, applauding so loud and hard their hands turn pink.

And wait — is that a tear I see glistening in the eye of the Fed-Ex driver?

It’s embarrassing, really.

But who can blame them? Continue reading Do you feel a draft? It’s time to revise your manuscript

Writers: develop a tough skin (but don’t forget to moisturize)

Writing moisturizer copy Earlier this year, I wrote a column titled, Tips to combat FDAD (Fruitcake Disposal Anxiety Disorder).

Admittedly, I picked on fruitcake a little.

OK, maybe a lot.

Here’s a sample…

…Recent studies show that mild depression after the holidays is not only common but, in many cases,  the result of FDAD — Fruitcake Disposal Anxiety Disorder. On one hand, your fruitcake was a gift and therefore deserving of some measure of appreciation. On the other hand, it has already become a chew toy for the neighbor’s pit bull. This often leads to feelings of anxiety long after the holidays have ended, particularly when you see ‘Buster,’ still intoxicated with rum, struggling to dislodge the sugar loaf from his tightly-clenched jaws. So, as a service to our readers, we are offering the following self-help guide: I’m OK—You’re OK. But Give Me a Fruitcake and I’ll Kill You…”

Too strong?

Some people thought so. Continue reading Writers: develop a tough skin (but don’t forget to moisturize)

Getting started as a columnist (or why I avoid Rhode Island)

Note: As I promised last week in my 100th post celebration (I understand some of still haven’t received your free Mexican mocha — sorry about that), here is the first installment from the writing and literary website Gliteray Girl, where I’m a regular contributor on the subject of writing. They wouldn’t let me contribute on the subject of sex therapy, so I went with the writing thing…

Coffee knocked over copy When I first started querying newspapers about carrying my column, I was getting one or two rejections in my email box every week. In frustration, I turned to the Internet and discovered, with a little planning and organization, I could be rejected by every newspaper in the state of Louisiana all in one afternoon.

In 2002, I began my unofficial “Internet promotional tour” across the United States by emailing a basic cover letter and a few sample columns to newspapers here in my home state of Oregon. Today, the column is running in 60 papers in 11 states and Canada. What follows are a few simple truths, mixed with some suggestions, that will help distinguish your email query from the hundreds of male enhancement offers editors receive each day. Continue reading Getting started as a columnist (or why I avoid Rhode Island)