Writer Creatively

January 5, 2011

What happened to Urbis?

Filed under: Uncategorized — bestrateguru @ 5:26 pm
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I have occasionally used Urbis as a writing site. It had a pretty good credit system and the feedback I got was pretty helpful. So, I was pretty surprised when I went there the other day and saw this message:


Application Error

Ouch. Something isn’t right.

If it’s our fault, we’ve been notified. If it’s your fault, we forgive you.

Let’s just move on with our lives.


I did some digging and it appears that the site has been down for months. I guess that’s it, which is a shame. The more venues for writing, the better.

For those looking for a serious place to workshop your writing, check out TheNextBigWriter.  I’ve been on there for years and have gotten quite a bit out of the site. You have to pay $7.95 per month but as Urbis shows, the free stuff doesn’t always stick around.


April 10, 2010

The 2010 Strongest Start Novel Competition

TheNextBigWriter just launched their annual novel competition. This year looks like a good one, including sub-categories for:

  • Sci-fi, Fantasy, and Horror
  • Romance
  • Memoir and Non-fiction

The video below explains the competition.

November 25, 2009

Self Publishing Resource

Filed under: Uncategorized — bestrateguru @ 9:32 am

Not everyone wants to go the traditional publishing route. For those of you who are looking for information on self publishing, there is a great new resource on TheWritersSite. Their new self publishing section provides an overview of what self publishing is and then breaks down the offerings of each of the major self publishers. Lastly, the site provides links to other informative articles about the industry, its economics, and case studies of what has and hasn’t worked for other authors. It’s worth a visit if you are considering this avenue with your writing.

February 25, 2009

Kindle and Booksie Are Great Combination

Filed under: Uncategorized — bestrateguru @ 4:14 pm
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I purchased an Amazon Kindle about a month ago and finally took it out of its box.  I like it.  The interface is clean and the screen is easy to read.  The size makes it a better device for reading than a cellphone or an iPhone.

The best thing though is that I haven’t had to buy a book since I got one.  I’ve been busy loading writing from Booksie on the site as well as from Project Guttenberg.  Booksie gets me access to new writing and Guttenberg allows me to download classics.  Both can be done for free.

Below is a screenshot of my Kindle with a book from Booksie.

ntent on Amazon Kindle

ntent on Amazon Kindle

Downloading from either is pretty easy although there are a few steps you have to take:

From Booksie:

1. Click the Generate eBooks button on the right hand side of the content you are reading.

2. Download the file to your hard drive.

3. Email is to your Kindle using the email address they provide (this costs something like $.10.   Or you can email it to Amazon, they’ll convert it for you and then you can load it on to your Kindle using a USB connection.  This way takes about 10 minutes.

Downloading writing from Project Guttenberg is pretty much the same.

The Kindle itself costs $359 so you’ll have to decide if it’s worth it.  I also use the Kindle to download books from Amazon, newspaper subscriptions, and more.

November 18, 2008

Times Are Tough Writing Contest on TheNextBigWriter.com

Filed under: Uncategorized — bestrateguru @ 6:36 pm

The TheNextBigWriter is sponsoring an interesting writing contest.  It’s based on the picture below.

TheNextBigWriter Times Are Tough Writing Competition

TheNextBigWriter Times Are Tough Writing Competition

Per the competition announcement:

It is of a homeless man leaning against a storefront during the Great Depression. Write about this man and the picture. What is he doing there? Where is he? Who is he? Why is he there? Why is he homeless? These are some of the questions open to exploration.

Contestants are asked to submit a Drabble or a Droubble.  What are they?  A Drabble is a short story that is exactly 100 words.  A Droubble is a short story that is exactly 200 words.

Two winners will be selected and each will receive $100.  The deadline is January 15, 2009.

You have to be a member of the site to enter and site membership costs $49.95 per year or 7.95 per month.  I’ve been a member and it’s worth it.  They have contests all year long and the other members of the site provide really great feedback.  At its core, TheNextBigWriter is an online writing workshop.

If you’re looking for interesting writing contests to stimulate your writing and the company of other motivated writers, give the site a look.

November 12, 2008

Easily Create eBooks on Booksie

Filed under: Uncategorized — bestrateguru @ 7:26 pm

Booksie.com, an online writing and publishing site, just launched an eBook generator that makes it easy for anyone to create and publish a formatted eBook.  I tried the process and while I think there is still some work to be done, I think it’s very promising.  If you have spent time fooling around with pages and headers in Word, or in trying to insert images, etc. Booksie now does it all for you.  And, they generate the eBook in PDF format, which means it can be downloaded, emailed to others, printed, etc. It’s pretty neat.

For novels, Booksie will take each chapter and blend them, providing a cover page, table of contents, and other witing by section.  Take a look at the novel Monarch to see what this looks like.


With Booksie, you can now upload audio versions of your work, generate pdfs, promote your work via their social tools, etc.  It’s amazing how far publising has come since I was a kid and was mimeographing my stories.

June 6, 2008

Writer’s Digest Top 100 Websites Is Disappointing

Filed under: Uncategorized — bestrateguru @ 6:07 pm
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I just had a chance to check out the Writer’s Digest list of the top 100 websites and must say that I was pretty disappointed with it. I spend a lot of time on the web writing and visiting writing sites so I’d like to think I have a pretty good idea of what’s out there. This list is not a great representation of it.

For writing communities for example, they list sites like Long Story Short (visited by 922 people per month according to Compete), and Newbie-Writers, (visited by 1,620 people per month according to Compete.com) while ignoring sites like TheNextBigWriter.com (visited by over 7,079 people per month – Compete), Booksie.com (visited by 19,000 people per month – Compete), and WritersCafe.com, (visited by 20,000 people per month – Compete). Then, there are innovative sites like Wordsy and new sites like LitMatch.

I spend a lot of time on each of these sites and have accounts with all of them so I can tell you from personal experience also that they have made some serious mistakes choosing some of these smaller sites. Just visit the sites on their list. I don’t mean any disrespect but several look like they were cobbled together in 1997.

I don’t know what’s going on with them but if they want to be an authoritative source, they need to do better than that.

I’m going to put together my own list over the next month. If you have a site you’d like me to take a look at, let me know by posting a comment.

April 12, 2008

Strongest Start Novel Competition Deadline

Filed under: Uncategorized — bestrateguru @ 2:47 am
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TheNextBigWriter Online Writing Workshop is hosting its second annual Strongest Start Novel Competition.  Writers post the first three chapters of their novel.  Six finalists are chosen and the winner is selected by a good panel of judges.  First prize is a full novel edit from iUniverse, a self-publisher with links to Barnes & Nobles.

I read through some of the entires and they are pretty darn good.

You need to hurry though.  The contest deadline is April 16.

March 6, 2008

Blog versus Publishing Site

Filed under: Uncategorized — bestrateguru @ 9:44 pm
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I’ve given a lot of thought to publishing my writing on a Blog like this versus a creative writing site like Booksie.com.  I think there are advantages to both:



  • You own the site totally and can change the style, background, colors, etc.
  • You can place ads on your pages.
  • You can get your own domain – phillanuto.com.


  • It’s hard to attract people to read your writing.
  • Creative work in not indexed well across the Web.
  • I have some ads up and don’t make much money off them so who cares about ads
  • I have to keep writing to attract peope to my Blog.

Writing Sites (Booksie)


  • Instant audience.
  • The site is set up so that you can easily display your portfolio. It doesn’t have to be in chronological order.
  • Your work is indexed so that readers can easily find it.
  • There are kindred writers to interact with.
  • The site features the top work for even more exposure


  • Inability to customize page.
  • Lack of some control
  • Url that is not totally personalized: booksie.com/phillanuto

My preference is to publish on Booksie and then link to work from Blogs like this.  I find I get most of what I want on a publishing site like it and I’ve sent a bunch of emails to the admins asking them to incorporate more Blog-like features.  Once they do, it will be an even easier decision.

You can view my Booksie page at:


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