Category Archives: Writing

Product Review: Language Tool

(See my other Web Tool related posts) – I like trying out new writing tools when I see them. I came across Language Tool recently. Language Tool is an Open Source project similar to the Hemmingway Editor. The project receives financial support from two European sources. The European Union and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

Language Tool is free to use for documents up to 20,000 characters. You can access it through the website or you can install add-ons. The add-ons are available for:

  • the Firefox and Chrome browsers
  • Google Docs
  • Microsoft Word
  • Libre Office
  • a list of others

Language Tool checks your writing in more than 20 languages. It includes grammar, style, and spell checking. To handle documents up to 40,000 characters in length you can upgrade to the Premium version. The Premium version of Language Tool costs $59/year or $4.92 /month.

I have been a user of two other writing tools for a while now. The Hemmingway Editor and the Grammarly plug-in for Safari. I wanted to compare the results of these three tools so I entered the same text in each and checked the results.

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In the images above the same text is shown in Language Tool, Hemmingway, and Grammarly. As you can see from those images, the results are different for each tool. In my opinion, Language Tool is the least useful of the three.

In my workflow, I enter text first in Hemmingway. Once I have resolved what it has flagged, I paste the results into the web interface for WordPress. I then address what Grammarly has found.



  • Multilanguage
  • Web portal and App add-ons
  • up to 20000 characters
  • Free



  • no add-on for the Safari browser
  • Not as good as Hemmingway or Grammarly


Today is Author’s Day and begins NaNoWriMo

National Author's Day

(See my other Writing related posts) – Today is National Author’s Day, a day to celebrate your favorite authors and the books they have created. You can help recognize it by purchasing books from your favorite author and/or sharing information about your favorite books and authors on social media.

You may want to look at some of the Author Interviews I have posted.

Today is also the beginning of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). Are you trying your hand at authoring a novel this month? This is a great opportunity to dive in and write that novel you have been thinking about.

Thinking about putting your ideas down on paper? You might find the article “How to Plot and Write a Novel With 12 Free Templates & Worksheets” of interest. This article gives several suggestions as to how you can get started.

My NaNoWriMo 2018 Effort is Over

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I have had an interest in trying to write for some time. This year, I decided to make a commitment and try my hand during NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writers Month). Some 58,000 words later I have wrapped up my very rough first draft.

This has been a fun adventure for me. Now all I have to do is spend some time, a lot of time, editing and polishing what I have written. In the meantime, I can get back to posting more and getting out and exploring more of Singapore.

Fifty Word Fantasy: Trick and Treat

Reading – A great Flash Fiction for Halloween

Aethereal Engineer

Old Mrs. Emmons accepted the candy gift. “Oh! I always wanted to go trick-or-treating, but my father hated Halloween…”

She ate the caramel, felt dizzy, and then was as young as the little witch handing her a pumpkin bucket and black cat costume.

“Then let’s not waste tonight, Mrs. Emmons!”

Copyright © 2018 by Jason H. Abbott, All Rights Reserved.

Discover more of my Fifty Word Fantasies.

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NaNoWriMo is About to Start – Count Your Words in Pages

Tech Tips – NaNoWriMo begins November 1. Are you ready?

Haven’t heard about NaNoWriMo? That stands for “National Novel Writing Month” which is November of every year. As their website states:

On November 1, participants begin working towards the goal of writing a 50,000-word novel by 11:59 PM on November 30.

If you happen to be using a Mac or iPad and the included Pages software to write your novel, how do you keep track of the words you have set down? That is easy on both devices.


On your Mac:

Open Pages to the document where you are writing your novel

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Select View in the Menu bar, then Show Word Count

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Now at the bottom of your window will appear the running word count in your document.


On your iPad 

  1. Open Pages to the document where you are writing your novel


Click on the View Options icon in the Menu Bar

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In the drop-down menu, click the slider switch to enable Word Count to be displayed. Once that is done, the document statistics will be displayed in a small bubble at the top of the page. The default, as shown above, is Page Count.


Now click on that Page Count bubble and you get another drop-down menu to chose which statistic about the document you wish to display. Click on Words.


Now the Word Count will be displayed at the top of the screen while you are in the document.

See my other Mac/OS X and iOS articles


Do You Know the Difference Between a Short Story, a Novelette, a Novella, ​and a Novel?


Reading – As you know if you follow my Blog, I read a lot. Some short stories, a few novellas, but mostly novels. But having said that, what does that really mean? I have had the general notion of what a short story, a novella, and a novel are, but I wondered if there was some sort of official definition.

When I looked at “Word Count” in Wikipedia what I see is this definition:

Classification Word Count
Novel 40000 or more
Novella 17500 – 39999
Novelette 7500 – 17499
Short Story less than 7500

These are actually the classifications used by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America for each category of its Nebula award, so not exactly an official definition. Elsewhere I have read that The New Yorker in 2012, defined the novella as being between roughly 20,000 and 40,000 words[1].

Classification Word Count
Novel 55000 – 300000
Novella 30000 – 50000
Short Story 1500 – 30000


I see where Writer’s Digest has these slightly different classifications [1,2]. Then there is also the even smaller classification of Flash Fiction for works from 53 to 1000 words [3, 4]. Others classify a Novella as 20000 to 50000 [4].

Regardless of which classification you choose to follow, these do give general guidelines for the length of various works. So the National Novel Writing Month goal of 50000 words written during the month of November abides by these classifications. Are you going to sign up and try your hand during NANOWRIMO this year?


  1. What Is the Difference Between a Novella and a Short Story?
  2. What Is the Difference Between Novels, Novellas & Short Stories?
  3. Differences Between a Short Story, Novelette, Novella, & a Novel
  4. Short Story, Novella, Novel – what’s the difference?

Interview with Author Michael A. Rothman


Interviews – A few weeks ago I read and then wrote a review of the science fiction thriller “Primordial Threat”. After my review, I was able to contact the author, Michael A. Rothman, and arrange an interview with him

= = =

Myself: When did you first realize that you wanted to become a writer?

Rothman: I was a reluctant writer. It started with my kids. I used to tell them stories at night, mostly made up epic fantasy stories and to keep things straight, I began writing the ideas down so I could read it the next day, week, month. Eventually, that turned into entire books.

Myself: What is the first piece that you remember writing?

Rothman: The first stories turned into the “Prophecies Series” and it was well received by others. I’d note that the two kids in those stories are named Ryan and Aaron. It isn’t a coincidence that those are the names of my kids.

Myself: I am sure that they have been thrilled with being the ‘stars’ in that series. What is your academic and work background?

Rothman: I have advanced degrees in STEM disciplines. I’m not publicly specific about which disciplines, because nowadays, what I write is deeply technical, but written so as to make science approachable by all. And if I were to say I’m a botanist, or biologist or whatever – that in some people’s minds would lend credibility in one discipline but take away from others.

Let’s just say I’m an expert on the sciences and have friends in academia. I always vet the science I write about, whether it’s by my own knowledge/research or others.

Myself: I am glad to hear that you too come from a STEM background. What part of the world do you currently live in?

Rothman: Pacific Northwest of the US. I have lived in many parts of the US and world.

Myself: How do you relax? What are your hobbies?

Rothman: Cooking and hanging out with my family.

Myself: What else would you like to share about yourself?

Rothman: In my younger days, I used to compete at table tennis (ping pong). Yes, even played at the US open eons ago.

Myself: That is an interesting tidbit about yourself. What’s the first book you remember reading for yourself?

Rothman: The Hobbit

Myself: You set the bar high with your first read. Did you read much growing up?

Rothman: All the time

Myself: What have you read recently?

Rothman: I rarely read for pleasure nowadays, but more for research. I’ve been reading a lot of Child, Cussler, and recently got turned onto a fun series called the Bobiverse.

Myself: What is your favorite genre? book? character? author?

Rothman: As a child, epic fantasy and science fiction. Nowadays, I read SF and thrillers. Tolkien, of course, was one of my formative authors, as was Asimov. Now, I really enjoy Baldacci, Child, and Cussler.

Myself: Where is your favorite place to read?

Rothman: Nowadays, I “read” during my commute. Which means audiobooks are my friends.

Myself: Do you strictly listen to audiobooks now? Do you read books on paper or eBooks?

Rothman: Audiobooks all the way. Otherwise, I do have a weak spot for paperbacks.

Myself: What makes you sit down and want to share your stories?

Rothman: I’ve always had an abundance of ideas, which usually leaks out in my work. I’ve simply added other venues for the ideas, such as writing.

Myself: What are your ambitions for your writing career?

Rothman: Dominate the world?

In all seriousness, to be read by as many as possible – and to make reading enjoyable for more people. I want to have science be approachable and interesting to those who might not otherwise find it interesting.

One of the best compliment I ever received was, “I felt like I’d learned things after reading Primordial Threat.”

Myself: Bringing a better understanding of science to readers is both a worthy goal and admirable accomplishment. Is there anyone who has influenced your writing?

Rothman: I’m sure there is, but I don’t try to emulate anyone. I’m sort of a good idea thief. If I like certain approaches or ideas in a book I’m reading, I’ll almost certainly adopt it for my own purposes.

I suppose I’m a reflection of my reading, as are many authors.

Myself: How did you pick the genres for your stories?

Rothman: I write mostly SF and thrillers today. I enjoy those tales because it allows me to mix action/adventure with technology.

Myself: Where do your story ideas come from?

Rothman: An abundance of God-given creativity.

Myself: Do you work to an outline or plot, or do you prefer just to see where an idea takes you?

Rothman: Rough outline and then pantsing from there on in.

Myself: What is your schedule like when you are writing?

Rothman: Usually awake at 5am write for two hours and then head to work. And weekends a bit more time. That usually allows me to create/edit two full-sized novels a year.

Myself: Completing two novels per year is an impressive writing regimen. About how long does it take you to complete a first draft? How long do your revisions take?

Rothman: First draft two months. Revisions four months.

Myself: How much research do you put into a novel?

Rothman: A LOT.

Myself: What tools (software?) do you use in your writing?

Rothman: Microsoft word.

Myself: What are the hardest and easiest things about writing?

Rothman: Starting and ending a writing session. Both are the hardest and easiest.

Myself: What advice would you give to an aspiring author?

Rothman: You’ll write a million words before you start to be good. Get started, and don’t give up.

Myself: What novels/works have you published?

Rothman: I have seven books published, though anyone looking will only find two under M.A. Rothman, since my focus is thriller and SF.

I wrote under my full name Michael A. Rothman a series of YA novels that are epic fantasy for my kids to enjoy.

Myself: What are you currently working on?

Rothman: Working on a book for the second half of 2019.

I will release one SF/technothriller and one mainstream thriller a year. I’ve already completed the book coming out in the first half of 2019, it’s a medical thriller known as “Darwin’s Cipher”.


Myself: How should your fans follow you or get in touch?

Rothman: They should contact me through my website

How to Read While You Write

Reading – I came across a couple of interesting YouTube videos today. These together give 12 suggestions as to why you should read while you are writing, but also how you can work reading into your writing schedule.

While I have yet (I keep wanting to start, just haven’t made the time yet) begun to try and write myself, I thought these young ladies had some good ideas in general on how to read more.

The first video is by Emily Bourne.

The second video is by Katie Wilson.

As NANOWRIMO 2018 is rapidly approaching, perhaps I will take advantage of some of Emily’s YouTube post on how to write and get myself prepared for a running start when NANOWRIMO begins November 1.

Interview with Author Taylor Anderson

Interviews – A few weeks ago I read and then wrote a review of the Alternate History Thriller “River of Bones”. After I published my review, I was able to contact the author, Taylor Anderson, for an interview.

Taylor Anderson Author Photo

Myself: Your first novel “Into the Storm” was published in 2008. When did you first realize that you wanted to become a writer?

Anderson: I’ve always loved to write.  I don’t even know what got me interested in it, but I’ve dabbled at it ever since I was a kid.  I like to tell stories and describe experiences and I guess it just started as an extension of that.  Life got in the way, alas, and writing of any sort went on the back burner for many years until I suddenly found myself with a “gap” I could fill, and I spent it writing the first Destroyermen yarn–INTO the STORM.  Much to my surprise and wonder, it took off.

Myself: What part of the world do you live in?

Anderson: I’m a Texan to the bone and I live out in the country near a relatively small Texas town called Granbury.  It’s too hot in the summer, (used to it, but never liked it), but the winters are usually mild and make up for the summers rather nicely.

Myself: I have lived in Texas most of my life and have spent the last 45+ years in Central Texas so I can relate to the heat. How do you relax? What are your hobbies?

Anderson: Wow.  How much room do we have here?  I like to do all sorts of things–some of which are not particularly relaxing, but they do reduce stress.  I love to go sailing, hunting, and fishing, and I like to build everything from model ships to houses.  Oh, and I like to shoot real, full-scale cannons.  I have an 1841 6pdr and a 3″ Ordnance Rifle, both of which have been in a few movies, but I really enjoy shooting them live in long-range competitions.

Myself: That is quite the unusual hobby. What’s the first book you remember reading for yourself?

Anderson: Racking my brain, I have to say it was one of three; Heinlein’s “Farmer in the Sky,” “Red Planet,” or Tolkien’s “The Hobbit.”  All were read at about the same time when I was in the first grade.  (My family has always been obsessed with reading, and I started very early).  Likewise, my daughter read “Treasure Island” and Patrick O’Brian’s “Unknown Shores” when she was in the first or second grade as well.

Myself: Those, particularly The Hobbit”, are awesome reads for the First Grade. I am impressed to hear that your daughter is following in those footsteps. What have you read recently?

Anderson: I just finished David Weber’s “At the Sign of Triumph,” and Simon Scarrow’s “Centurion.”  Currently, I’m going back over Ballentine’s “A British Soldier in the American Army,” and “Rebels under Sail.”  I’ll read a toothpaste tube if I can’t find anything else.

Myself: What is your favorite genre? book? character? author?

Anderson: I don’t have a “favorite” genre, probably one of the main reasons D-Men touches so many.  I like almost everything.  I’ll avidly read dusty old manuals and blueprints, horror, history of all sorts, historical fiction, space opera, “action/adventure,” even a little paranormal stuff.  I think that’s why I love writing D-Men so much because I’m able to incorporate almost everything I’m interested in into one big story, from hard history to Sci-Fi, and speculative natural philosophy to military action.  Most people categorize D-Men as “alternate history,” and there are aspects of that in the plot, but I think “Historical Military Science Fiction–with some other stuff” is probably more accurate.  Ha!

Myself: I have to agree that the Destroyermen series is more than simply another alternative History tale. Do you prefer paper or eBooks? Do you listen to audiobooks?

Anderson: I had a Nook–till I accidentally killed it–and I have a Kindle.  Both are very convenient and I use the (still living) Kindle a lot.  All the same, I probably still prefer a “real” book in my hands.  Just old-fashioned, I guess.  I’ve listened to most of the performances Bill Dufris has done of my books–he’s amazing–but don’t have a chance to listen to anything very often.

Myself: What makes you sit down and want to share your stories?

Anderson: That goes back to why I started writing in the first place; I simply love to tell stories and relate adventures, and the D-men Series tells a yarn I love to write at least as much as anyone likes to read it.

Myself: What are your ambitions for your writing career?

Anderson: I’m hooked now.  Writing is what I do, and I expect to keep at it till I fall off the twig.

Myself: Is there anyone who has influenced your writing? Of course!

Anderson: Everything and everyone I’ve read!  Beyond that, I was fortunate enough to grow up surrounded by real heroes and to meet many more in my life.  Their lives and experiences have influenced me more than I can say.

Myself: What are the hardest and easiest things about writing?

Anderson: Ahh, that’s tough to answer.  Sometimes the “hardest” things just flow, and parts I expect to be “easy” can be excruciating to write.  As far as my process is concerned, probably the most difficult thing for me to do is to keep everything straight!

Myself: What advice would you give to an aspiring author?

Anderson: It sounds trite, I know, but basically, “keep plugging.”  Don’t get discouraged, and above all, finish it and send it off!  Don’t get mired down in self doubt and fear of rejection.  Also, though I think you have to love the story you’re telling, don’t fall in love with your words.  They’re just tools to TELL your story, no matter how pretty or literary they might seem.  I kill words with bloody abandon when I’m editing.

Myself: You have 13 books published in your Destroyermen series so far. What are you currently working on?

Anderson: The NEXT installment in the Destroyermen Series, of course!

Myself: How should your fans follow you or get in touch?

Anderson: I love hearing from fans on my facebook page and website, and I will almost ALWAYS respond–if someone else doesn’t beat me to it!