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

Finding the good in rejection (especially as a writer)

Keep your tank full; you don't want to run out of gas here.

Keep your tank full; you don’t want to run out of gas here.

When I fell for Sarah Getlost in the fourth grade, I was taking no chances. My father explained to me that women couldn’t resist a man in uniform. He told me this while wearing a white T-shirt, Bermuda shorts and drinking a beer, so I had to take his word for it. My plan was to wait for our little league candy sale and go to her house dressed in my new baseball uniform.

In theory, it was a good plan.

In reality, Sarah Getlost answered the door wearing her new cheerleader outfit, effectively neutralizing me. So, to impress her, I gave her my candy, a new baseball and all of my money. Although I wasn’t immediately rejected, it came swiftly once my mother found out and forced me to return to Sarah’s house to ask for all my stuff back. I don’t remember exactly what I said, only that it was awkward and involved a lot of gulping to keep the bitter taste of rejection from coming back up.

Although I think all that chalk I swallowed in the second grade helped a little.

Rejection is a part of life, particularly for writers. We set ourselves up for potential rejection every time we send out a query, have an article published online or in print, or post something to our blog or social media page. Thanks to the digital age, we have more ways than ever to receive rejection!  Continue reading

Can you believe it? They’re letting me publish another book

imageAfter taking a good look at this photo, I know what most of you are probably thinking:

His real name is Edward? Hahahaha!

But don’t forget, there is an entire generation of Twilight babies out there named Edward.

Or Jacob. And man, do those Jacob babies have some freakishly developed abs.

However, the real point of this post is to share with you that, this morning, I officially signed a contract with Port Hole Publishing for my second book, Pearls of Writing Wisdom from 16 Shucking Years as a Columnist. This is an important step beyond what had previously been me unofficially talking about my soon-to-be-published book with strangers, sipping directly from a vodka bottle while hunched over an empty bowl of peanuts at the bar. It also means that in order to meet my September publication date, I need to get the finished manuscript to my publisher by mid June.


Gotta Go!


Just kidding. It’s not that bad.  Continue reading

Because sometimes, breaking into print requires a chainsaw

Because we all need a friend with a chainsaw

We all need a friend with a chainsaw

We all make mistakes…

Trimming your eye brows when you have a hangover.

Trying to bathe your cat without a tourniquet handy.

Going to a Kanye West concert.

Or not knowing Michelle Terry and her blog Lipstick and Laundry.

While there’s nothing I can do to erase the physical and/or emotional pain you may be carrying from those first three mistakes, there IS something you can do about that last one by joining me, Mandi Castle, Kati Cross, Karen Malena, Carrie Ruben, Beth Teliho and Charissa Stastny at Lipstick and Laundry today, where Michelle is hosting a writers’ panel offering tips on how to get punished.

Oops! I mean published!

Many of you probably know a few — if not all — of the authors on this panel, and may even own their books. Mandi’s Dear Stephanie and Beth’s The Order of Seven are part of my own book collection, and are both really terrific reads despite not having any pictures.  Continue reading

For writers, word selection is a lot like natural selection

image Several weeks ago in my Nickel’s Worth on Writing, I talked about three of the most important tools a writer wields when it comes to establishing their voice. Does anyone remember what they were?

For the sake of time, and my feelings, let’s just assume everyone remembers those tools and, in a series of uncontrollable outbursts, begin shouting:





No, the third tool is not Cuervo. It’s RELATIVITY. Although I think we can all agree Cuervo does have a way of making even the most abstract things seem relevant.

In this case, however, Relativity means ensuring the reader can relate to what we’re writing about. This is especially true when it comes to personal experience and family anecdotes. For example, that hilarious story about how Aunt Frida got mad and stomped through the garden won’t be nearly as entertaining to readers as it is to you unless, like you, they already know Aunt Frida was a mule. I realize that’s an overstatement, but unless you take time to lay the foundation of your story in a way that involves the reader, they will likely sit down and refuse to follow. Continue reading

Finding a publisher: It’s a lot like trick-or-treating

image Welcome to a special Halloween Edition of Ned’s Nickel’s Worth on Writing! What makes this week’s NWOW special? In addition to offering writing tips gained from my 15 years as a columnist, I am in Maine this morning dressed as “Pennywise” and waiting in the bushes outside the home of Stephen King!


Because what better way to kick off a special Halloween NWOW than by scaring The Master of Horror® himself! I’ve been working all week on my scary clown voice and borrowed a costume from my neighbor, who, as I discovered, has a whole closet full of costumes. (I didn’t ask why.)

Shhhhh! Here he comes!

“HE-LLOOOO STEVIEEEEE!!… Ummmm, Mr. King?… Sir? oh crap…” Continue reading

Is your manuscript in its eighth trimester? It may be time to induce

image Though I’m still working on the eBook version of my Nickel’s Worth on Writing, that doesn’t mean I’ll be using it as an excuse to stop posting my weekly NWOW. No way! I’ll use a fictitious illness for that. Speaking of fictitious, this weekly feature was recently recognized by Publisher’s Weekly as offering “A level of writing insightfulness rarely seen outside of mental [writing] institutions…”

But enough accolades!

Let’s face it, editing the second draft of your story or manuscript is like a visit to the proctologist: You want it to go quickly; you want to avoid too much grimacing; and you know before you get started there’s going to be too much crammed in. Yet statistics show that early detection of grammatical “polyps” is the most effective way to prevent the spread of bad writing.

But apparently not horrible analogies like this one. Continue reading

Thanks to Alan King, this week’s Nickel’s Worth is on me. Literally.

Alan W. King (photo by Marlene Hawthorne Thomas)

Alan W. King (photo by Marlene Hawthorne Thomas)

For regular readers of this blog, I know what you’re thinking:
“I’ve seen pictures of Ned before, and I remember him being… older. And slightly more Caucasian.”

That’s because it’s a photo of Alan W. King, whose work as a journalist and blogger is best described as continued excellence. I’ve been a follower of his for a while, so when he recently began an interview series called “Writers and Their Process,” I was thrilled when he asked me to be a part of it.

Okay, fine — I screamed like a 13-year-old girl who finds herself on an elevator with Harry Styles. Continue reading

If you can’t find time to write, then MAKE time — or I swear I’ll send you a fruitcake!

image Because this week’s Nickel’s Worth on Writing happens to fall on Friday the 13th, and because undisputed Master of Horror STEPHEN KING was kind enough to send in a special accolade, we’re totally skipping my normal introduction about offering writing tips based on my 15 years as a columnist (stop yawning) so we can get right to Mr. King’s unsolicited accolade regarding the value of my weekly NWOW and how a run-on sentence can get people to read an entire opening paragraph before they even know it!

Comment from THE Stephen King:

“Ned, I visit your Nickel’s Worth quiet often. And so does my LAWYER. We’ll be in touch.”

— Sincerely, Stephen King (Undisputed Master of Horror)


With that kind of affirmation, I could end this post right there — and my lawyer agrees I probably should. But my weekly NWOW isn’t about me; it isn’t about flaunting the adoration I receive from literary giants; and it isn’t about receiving accolades. It’s about… uh…

Oh Yeah! Writing tips! Which brings us to this week’s topic:

Find Make time to write — or I swear I’ll send you a fruitcake! Continue reading

Want to keep your writing fresh? Start with regular flossing

image I’d like to thank the American Dental Association for sponsoring this week’s writing tip, which brings me to a startling statistic: 4-out-of-5 dentists have never recommended or even heard of this blog. The fifth dentist only heard about it when, moments after my lips went numb, I was trying to say “Ben Roethlisberger’s lob” and he thought I said “Ned’s worthless blog.” Regardless, there are many similarities between keeping a fresh feeling to your writing and avoiding gingivitis. So think of me as your “literary orthodontist” as I take you through a quick writer’s check-up. Please remember I don’t have a saliva vacuum…

A good dentist will tell you it’s important to floss between meals, and will demonstrate its importance by flossing for you during your visit. That’s unless he also happens to be your proctologist, in which case I’d like to welcome you to the new National Health Care Plan. Continue reading