Posted in Cool Tools, Reviews

In Search of the Ultimate Writing App: Reviews by Jobe

I decided it was time to check out free writing apps and determine the best one or ones to use. Originally I meant to do this for/before Nano, but it’s just a good thing to know in general, too. Below are the ones I liked best.

Writer: write a book, write a story
This app gets points for being beautiful. Great, sleek design that’s impressive for a free app. There’s a built in recorder if you’re interested in capturing ideas on the run, and there’s a photo option that works similarly; whatever you record or photograph will stay attached to whatever text box you’re in at the time. You can organize your writings with four different labels: outline, notes, character, chapter.

Writer Premium costs $2.99

Adi Shaviv
This is what the icon looks like


WriteOn Lite
Allows one Project. Within a project you create chapters (apparently unlimited, I made 12 just to see) and you can rearrange them, but they will keep the title you give them, so if you name your chapter 1 “the kiss scene” and then realize “the fight scene” needs to happen first, it’s easy to change. You can also fully customize the colors of fonts and backgrounds. There’s a word count by chapter, a save button, and a place to enter a target date and word count (ie perfect for Nano or similar).

WriteOn Pro costs $4.99

Rooksoft Ltd.

Stenosaur Personal Microjournal
This is a weird one. You choose an icon for each entry; the icons can be whatever you want, different every time or repeated as often as you prefer. The entry is time-stamped, and you write until you decide you’re done. Once you’re done, that entry cannot be edited. I’d say this is a good one for people who get hung up on editing during the creative generating part of the process. It’s like a blog in that it counts days and numbers of entries, as well as grouping entries by month in the history, but it also has a word count; and you can scroll to see your entries/words/days for “today,” “this week,” “this month,” or “All.” You can back up your files via email so that’d be the way to be able to edit later. I’ve only written an entry as long as six lines, but so far it appears that the entire entry is viewable (rather than just a preview) from the main screen.

There does not appear to be a version which costs.

David Charlton

Write 2 Lite
This one has ads, which I abhor, but I wanted to review it for you in case you decide it’s worth it to upgrade. You can turn on Auto Save or not, you can customize Auto Text, there’s a huge range of customization for font style and backgrounds, and there are Files as well as Folders. You can also elect to use Pin Protection and coordinate with Dropbox.

Write – Notes & Writing costs $1.99

Daniel V.W

This app is like a less beautiful (but ad-free) version of Write 2 Lite. Font size and style is completely customizable, as is background color. Notes are automatically time-stamped but you choose the title. You can click “share” in each note to send it elsewhere. Also within a note, pull down from the top to see current word count. I thought this one had files and folders, too, but I’m not seeing that now so it must’ve been an app that didn’t make my final cut.

There does not appear to be a version which costs.

Daniel Amitay

Noted by Tack – Write simply beautiful notes
This app also has a great design, this one even more simplified than some others. The icon is simple and clean, and the interface has a few colors but is not too distracting. Pull down to create a new note, swipe one way to see your older notes, swipe the other way to change the color of your “paper.” There are a handful of different themes for customization. You can choose to have the status bar on or off (good if you want to make sure you can see what time it is, or want to have no clock visible!) Two finger pull side-to-side deletes, and a two finger “pinch” (drag from top and bottom toward center) shows you all your notes. A very cool, very simple tool. This one is only for iDevices, sorry if that doesn’t work for ya.

There does not appear to be a version which costs.

Tack Mobile



Jot – Write Away
This app is super simple. One font, one font size. Four color themes to choose from. No need to save. Notes aren’t titled but simply display the first two lines of text in the menu. Each note is automatically time-stamped. If simplify, simplify, simplify is what you’re going for, this is the app for you. Easy on the eyes and no distractions–you can even hide the clock. There doesn’t seem to be a way to send your stuff out of the app so you’ll have to select all > copy > paste into an email to yourself or similar process to get editing on the computer.

There does not appear to be a version which costs.

Arjun Mahanti



Secret Diary FREE – Private Journal
You can only have 3 notes until you upgrade, but the upgrade has a rainbow theme (and others). You program a 4-digit pin to lock the diary, and you can add photos to an entry, or send them elsewhere. The arrow buttons at the bottom of the screen will navigate to the next or previous page. There is an ad bar but it is only an ad to upgrade to the full version. Basically the promo does very little while the upgrade promises countless fonts and all the bells and whistles. One scary feature is a “detonate” option to delete all. I guess if you’re worried someone else will read it? Maybe not the best for writers after all, but seriously, rainbow theme.

Secret Diary full version costs $0.99

Nitisa Jetmongkhonrat

Last and least least (double negative?) my favorite of the bunch is called Werdsmith. The icon is a mustache. You can use touch ID to log in. You make “Ideas” and “Projects.” There are a handful of very simple themes. No different fonts but you can adjust size, and within a note you can use different styles. You can export your files. It gives you daily and total (ever) word counts. There’s a place for your preferred user pic. You can set a reminder for a ritual and you can also set your word count to show on the preview screen of your phone. There’s an upgraded version but I’ve never seen an ad for it or anything pesky and obtrusive like that. The main features of the upgrade seem to be writing prompts (fancy!) you can use the app on your computer as well.

Upgraded Werdsmith is free for the first week and then costs $4.99/month.

Nathan Tesler

werd2 w3

Thanks for reading!


Posted in Colleen

Using Social Media to Market Yourself as a Writer

Two weeks ago, I attended the 2015 Arkansas Literary Festival in Little Rock. This was my first time to attend and I took a few notes on one of the sessions I attended. What I like most about these conferences and festivals is all the good stuff we learn from our fellow writers.

Some fast notes to think about:

>>> is a search engine. I never really thought of it that way. Never put it in the same category as Google or Yahoo. But indeed, we use it to find information. So that closed captioning? Yeah, that’s what’s providing your SEO. Whoop!

>>>Facebook groups aren’t lame. If you can get someone to connect to your Facebook page, they’ll get a notification every time you post something new/send something out. Engage in other people’s Facebook groups to figure out your audience and grow your cliental. (In our case, these would be followers and readers!)

Screen shot 2015-05-06 at 10.00.31 PM
Facebook Pages are good for communicating.

>>>Update your website annually. Designs, trends, styles, looks… they’re always changing. We all know that. So give your website format a little upgrade every year. You’ve got to keep people interested. It’ll excite you too. 😉 Good images and key words are essential! Get your SEO on, ya’ll.

>>>People want simplicity. When it comes to social media, websites, blogs, etc., people want to be able to find what they type in the search bar. So if you’re writing about how hot air balloons fly, make sure your title represents the topic. I know it’s easy to get abstract and creative, but you can do that in the actual writing. Make your subject searchable and basic.

Screen shot 2015-05-06 at 10.20.46 PM
Twitter is simple.

>>>Publishers do not want to market you. Before anyone is going to work with you, they want you to establish a fan base. If you spend a year or so working on a blog, (I keep using blogs as an example because I’m writing on one), you’ll draw in readers and develop your voice as a writer. When the time comes for you to publish a book, you’ll already have people who’d be willing to read it because they know a bit of who you are already! It’s not a waste of time.

>>>Know your audience on each social media platform. For example, over the last few years, Facebook, (which began as a college-student site), has had a high increase in users over 65 years old. Instagram, Tumblr, and Vine are attracting people ages 18-34 at the moment. Pinterest is geared toward women. You get the idea. Know who you’re talking to.

Screen shot 2015-05-06 at 10.02.36 PM
Instagram is artistic.

>>>Don’t use ALL the social mediums. Pick one or two that you can use regularly. If you don’t use one, you can leave a note/link on it, telling people to reach you at another one. Keep in mind that if you have a dormant medium, that may look bad for your reputation if your job title has something to do with excelling at social media. It may be best to just delete that Twitter account you never post on.

>>>You can link your social media to your Amazon account. Okay, so this is for you people who actually have books published and sell them on This is not me at the moment, so I can only say so much. But hey, check it out!

>>>Rankings on Amazon matter! Again, I don’t have experience in this area yet. But as a consumer and an eCommerce writer, I do know that reviews people write for products make an impact. So if someone tells you they liked your book, ask them to write a review for you! No harm in asking.

Well, that’s all I have for this week. I hope it gives you some new things to think about. Seriously consider starting a blog if you haven’t already. Resumés are becoming outdated. actually comes up high in your SEO, so don’t write it off just yet! (No pun intended.)

Happy Thursday, guys!


Posted in Colleen

Is knowing about the author important?

You’re tucked into bed, curled up with the latest book you checked out from the library. The paper turns smoothly between your fingers- one hand on the next page even before your eyes make it to the the bottom. | Or maybe it’s an afternoon on your couch, sliding your fingers over a tablet, skimming the latest post by your favorite blogger. The screen illuminates your hands- every picture and every bolded word captivates you.

Vladimir Nabokov

No matter the scenario or content of what you’re reading- they all have one thing in common. They all have authors. Maybe it’s just one person, maybe two or three or so; we know this. We’re adults. And many of us are writers and authors ourselves. But let’s take a moment to think about the idea of knowing the author. How important is this?

John Green

When I was a child, I read my books for what they were. They were stories. I didn’t know I was being taught lessons. I didn’t even think about the kind of person who wrote the book. In school, our reading books would have excerpts about the short story authors. Those things bored me and I never connected the real life people to the characters in the stories. They were two separate worlds.

In high school I really had to start paying more attention to authors of our books though. As you grow older, you learn that stories are made up things- with bits of real life swirled in. With that, you make connections between the authors and what they write. You start to understand things like where J.K. Rowling got the idea for dementors. The more you learn about an author, the deeper the story can be for you. But it may cost you.

J.K. Rowling

This begs the question: how important is knowing a bit about the life of the author whose work you are reading? Could knowing too much or too little about what kind of person wrote the book you love put a damper on things? Maybe it helps you see what they’re trying to display in their writing. If you know about their personality and struggles, it could add a lot more to their art.

P.L. Travers

Furthermore, do you want your readers to know about you? Or would you rather them read your stories without knowing what’s real about you?


Posted in Darby

Still a Virgin

Oh my gosh! It’s my first time, and it is so scary. I’m not sure if I can take on something so substantial. I’m taking about NANOWRIMO. Get your mind out of the gutter!

National Novel Writing Month is upon us, and I have never taken part before. I have, in fact, written a novel. That was over a semester, of course. This time…things are very different. Obviously, I have no tips to give as of yet. Jobe has written an amazing post filled with treasures for you all. I suggest you check it out.

As of now, I do not have a title for my new novel. I do have some notes and a general direction in which to go. There are dozens of write-ins scattered throughout the month all around LA. If you sign up at, you can see what gatherings are going to take place in your area. If you want to follow my progress, you can buddy up to me. Username: Darby Riales. I’m so creative.

I have written about how to guard against writer’s block in the past. Perhaps it might help a bit.

Taylor Hicks, Elizabeth Furrey, Darby Riales, Allison Brass, and Sarah F. Wilson at a Vortex event Winter 2013.
Taylor Hicks, Elizabeth Furrey, Darby Riales, Allison Brass, and Sarah F. Wilson at a Vortex event Winter 2013.

So, this is my first time. That doesn’t mean that it has to be painful. Let’s all try to have fun and make it as memorable as possible. If you wish to share your own personal experiences with NANOWRIMO, feel free to put that comment box to good use.

From the City of Angels…


Posted in Darby

It’s a Love-Hate Kinda Thing

It’s no secret that some of our greatest works of literature come from deeply felt tragedy. Everyone, no matter what walk of life s/he comes from, experiences loss, betrayal, pain, anger, and even hatred. These things make us human, but they do not define us. What defines us is how we cope with life’s obstacles. Some people paint. Some people play sports. Some people meditate. I write.

In this article, I will give my tips on how to convey personal experience into your writing without falling into a pit of despair.

Emotions are raw and powerful things. They can easily spiral out of control when you are trying to recall an intense memory for your writing. When I am about to write a tragic scene, I first recall a pleasant memory. (For Harry Potter fans, it would be like the memory you would choose for your patronus.) I keep this memory in the back of my mind while I dig up the sad one. (The sad memories are like Dementors. They can suck out your soul if you are not careful.) If I feel myself becoming too emotionally compromised, I will simply think about that pleasant memory.  It pulls back from the edge, and I am able to finish my work.

If it sounds too simple, that’s because it is. Our emotions are what make us so great at art and literature. All of our emotions, not just the tragic ones. Love, joy, companionship, just to name a few. So, when you want to go deep into the psychological realm of your character, just keep in mind that s/he should be experiencing all of the human emotions. Even if the story is centered around tragedy, there should be something uplifting in it because life isn’t all tragic. Life is what you are giving to your characters when you choose to put them on paper. The best writers cover all aspects of it.

From the City of Angels

Yours Truly,