More than a place--it's a writer's muse.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Cheap Thrills: Free Stuff For Writers

You know that lady at the front of the checkout line who has a ton of groceries, then hands over a thick stack of coupons that all have to be scanned and/or manually typed in? It takes 30 minutes for her to get rung through because she argues over the validity of her .50 coupon? In the end, her total goes from $70 odd bucks to a paltry $6 and your anger at having to stand there is overcome by a little admiration. That's me, and in fact the line actually clapped for me (I have a friend who was at the end of the line who witnessed this. He still shakes his head in disbelief)

I am cheap. I view things as a good deal only if I can get it for what it would have cost me in tax. Or better, free.

Ahh, my favorite four-letter word. For my fellow writers, here are some of the best free bets to be had.

Your Writing:

Open Office
Creative License is a wonderful thing, especially when buying a Microsoft Word program, on sale, is about $100. Open Office is the same thing, but better. It saves, writes and opens stuff with the extension .doc, .rtf, .wps, dot whatever you can dream of. And it is free. I love it. Besides a writer program, it does spreadsheets, databases, and presentations.

Are you a word count fanatic? Always clicking to see how much you've written towards you goal? Wasting precious seconds when you could be writing an awesome novel? Well, I have your savior right here. YEdit2 is a simple notepad with one beautiful difference: You can select how many words you want to write, or add your own goal, and start typing away. On the bottom of your screen you'll see how many words you've written and how may more you have to go. Even cooler, it autosaves constantly. Awesome. For those of you Dirty Drafting, this was created for you

Your story have more twists and turns than the road in Kubrick's vision of King's The Shining? This absolutely wonderful writer's helper is not only an organizer for the facts of your story, but also a word processor, word counter, character encyclopedia, world builder and so much more wrapped into one pretty gift. I have to say, I like this program more than my previous fave Power Structure, and it is $180 cheaper.

Momentum Writer
Miss writing on a typewriter? Never wrote on one, but like the idea? Well, this is for you. Momentum writer won't let you do anything but write, like an old manual typewriter. No backspace, no scrolling, no deleting. No distractions. Just you and your ideas.

Promotion: Blog and website toys

Word Meter
How far along are you in your NaNoWriMo? Let everybody know with this widget. Plug in your total word goal, then how much you actually have done. It will calculate the percentage for you and bam, give you the codes to put it anywhere you want for all to see. Thank you Saoirse!

Open Source Web Design
Open Source Design
Free Flash Templates
Our web presence acts like a resume. With a little web address, a potential agent or fan can find out everything about you you want them to know. You need something classy and mirrors your personality. Instead of hiring someone, I highly recommend you check out these website and blog templates. Already done for you, and under
the Creative Commons License, almost all can be used for promotion as long as you keep their name on the product.

Wouldn't it be great to create an interactive version of your unpublished book, kind of like what Amazon does when you click "look inside"? Well, here you go. Not only can you upload covers, your novel, where to buy it, read reviews, share it on a number of social networks, collect fans of the work and so much more.

Sprout Builder
Create your own widget
I saw this one when a favorite author of mine had been promoting her new novel with a poll that was e-mailed to her newsletter list. I clicked on the neat widget, answered the poll, and then was able to download a chapter in audiobook form. How cool is that. And you can do it to, like the big wigs, for FREE! At the home page click on the pricing link, then scroll to the bottom. You'll see the free link, which is limited but still more than I need.
FREE Limited Plan
Price: FREE
3 Projects
100 MB Storage
10 GB/month Bandwidth
Gigya Distribution
Branded with Sprout
Ad Supported
There is also a 30 day tryout plan that is full, but I find the ad supported isn't bad.

Jigsaw Planet
Love puzzles? Have an awesome cover for your novel? Want to advertise in a different way? Upload any .jpg or .gif, choose size and difficulty, and let jigsaw planet create a neat game to keep your peoples on your webpage, blog, or e-mail it to them. Another Saoirse gem.

What music did you listen to to get your muse on? Use this awesome embedable player to show the world. Tell the backstory of your characters using music and then copy the code to put it anywhere on your blog or webpage.

Keeping organized:

Sonar3 Submissions Tracker
Ok, I have yet to try this one 'cause (I am blushing here) I have yet to actually submit anything anywhere. I am a newbie of the nth degree. When I finally get to the point when I am submissing stuff all over, I will put this baby to use. Here is what the guy who designed it says:
Sonar is a manuscript submission tracking program, and I wrote it because I was going nuts keeping track of short story submissions. This program tells me which market has each story, whether a story has been sold or rejected and which stories are gathering dust instead of earning their keep. If you decide to use it, you will be able to view a list of all your stories and then filter them in various ways (e.g. only show stories which are available to send out). You can add markets, stories and submissions and best of all it's completely free!

Hero's Journey
This is an awesome flash worksheet. You answer questions that are based on some fundamentals found in every epic, with examples from famous movies we have all watched, to make sure you are moving your novel along. Hero's Journey will collect your answers and lay them out for you to print (there is no saving) and you will completely see your novel in a new way, and also see what it is that your novel is lacking. Liane Gentry Skye passed this link to me, and it now a valuable link in my bookmarks.


It is freaking amazing. It encompasses both paying and non-paying contests, publishing houses, and e-zines. I get weekly e-mails of upcoming submission deadlines and they have a great search capability. When I finally do get my stuff out there, it will be because of this site.
Welcome to Duotrope's Digest, a free writers' resource listing over 2600 current Fiction and Poetry publications. Use this page to search for markets that may make a fine home for the piece you just polished. Use the menus at the top and right to explore the rest of the free services we offer writers and editors, including a free online submissions tracker for registered users. We usually make several updates per day, and we check each of the current listings regularly (once a week for most listings) to ensure the most up-to-date database humanly possible.

Erotic Readers and Writers Assosciation
My great friend Amy suggested this to me, and I love it. It also includes quiries for not-so-erotic material. includes links to many of the big romance publishing houses as well as e-publishers so that one may get all the submission requirements in one place.

You know my heart belongs here. not only am I able to get my writing up where everyone can read it (for free) but it doesn't cost me a dime. Textnovel is on the edge of publishing's future. The ability to read novels via your cell phone is a huge sensation in the Eastern world and I am proud to be riding the cusp of it here in the Western part of the planet. Haven't joined yet? Do it now. You are definitely missing out.

Well, there you go. Writing on the cheap. There is no reason to be a starving artist when we have such great free resources. Have any that I missed? Please, pass it along.


SarannaDeWylde said...

Wow, Robin! What great tools! I found myself clicking on everything!

I am trying out a few right now... and that whole OCD clicker on the word count, yeah, that's me.

Liane Gentry Skye said...

Wow, I am so impressed, Robin. And you've made pretty darn sure I won't get any word count tonight because I'll be too busy playing with all my new toys. :D

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