Debbie Ridpath Ohi reads, writes and illustrates for young people. Every few weeks, she shares new art, writing and reading resources; subscribe below. Browse the archives here.

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Will Write For Chocolate


Archived WWFC strips


If you'd like to see older WWFC strips, please check the Will Write For Chocolate archives or start from the beginning. You can also follow WWFC on Facebook, Pinterest and Google+. Thanks so much for your continuing support! -- Debbie


Author Web site survey

Congrats to Teri Walsh for coming up with "Who's Laughing Now," the title of Mimi's new horror novel. Thanks to everyone who sent in suggestions by e-mail and posted comments!

I've finally put together a work portfolio site, by the way. Sadly, I haven't been keeping proper track of my publications so the list is incomplete, but at least I finally have a work Web site. Feel free to visit for information about my writing and illustrating. It's pretty bare bones right now, but I'm hoping to gradually improve it over time.

And that inspired me to start working on a column about author Web sites. Do you have an author Web site? If so, I'd very much appreciate you answering the following questions and either posting or emailing your reply. I'll be compiling the results for a future Will Write For Chocolate column.

1. Your name

2. The URL of your Web site.

3. Purpose of your Web site.

4. Did you create it or hire someone?

5. Has it helped you in your writing career? If so, how?

6. (Optional) What are your favourite author Web sites? What do you like about the Web site(s)?


Mimi Writes Horror


Resources for Horror Writers

Will Write For Chocolate button
So I'm looking for some suggestions for Mimi's new horror novel! If I use your title, then I'll send you one of my spankin' new mini "Will Write For Chocolate" buttons. :-)

Meanwhile, here are some useful resources for aspiring and experienced horror writers:

DarkEcho: This excellent site for horror readers and writers has been around for ages, run by Paula Guran. Do check out her writers' information and her article, So You Want To Be A Horror Writer?

HorrorMasters Writer's Page contains reference resources of interest to horror writers as well as useful writing links, including horror publishers.

The Horror Writers Association site: The HWA is a worldwide organization of writers and publishing professionals dedicated to promoting dark literature and the interests of those who write it. The site includes a list of writing tips.

So, Who Wants To Be A Horror Writer? is from Edo van Belkom's book, Writing Horror.

The Horror Screenwriter's Page: Established in 1994, this site has a ton of links related to the craft and business of horror screenwriting. The yellow type is a bit hard on the eyes but hey, this resource is free. :-)

If you know of other useful resources for horror writers, please do post them below!

Eliza's Staring Cat


Follow-up: Writing Spaces

Thanks to those who answered my writing space survey! Some responses:

Carl Klutzke:
"I also prefer silence when writing (or programming). I can sometimes listen to music with lyrics if I know them so well that I can actually sing along without any conscious effort.
I do most of my writing from about 5 to 6:30am, before the rest of the house gets up, and before I leave for my job (which keeps me motivated to write). I sit with my laptop at the kitchen table with the curtains open so I can see the back yard. I also have a cup of coffee, not because I’m sleepy, but just because it’s pleasant."

Mari Adkins:
"I like music on “low” (never cared for loud music, anyway, so no biggie there). I’m a hard rock/metal kinda of gal - Stone Temple Pilots, Breaking Benjamin, Staind, A Perfect Circle, Hurt, etc.
I do work better without people around - especially when the husband isn’t home. Unfortunately, he works four days a week and is home three. :headdesk: I get a lot of 'Honey come look at this' (as if it’s not going to be available later, or something) and such. Very thought-derailing. He’s getting better at that, though."

Sherman Dorn:
"The environment depends on the task. For much of my work (including some writing stuff), I can be in a busy place. When I am in a “long stretch of writing” (i.e., writing a passage that requires that I keep a train of thought together for several hours), I’ve discovered that I can’t be around my children, no matter how dear they are to me. Something about parenting kicks in an automatic “what’s going on with them” drain on my concentration when they’re in the same space, even if they are PERFECTLY QUIET! So either they need to be out of the house or I need to be.
At my office, recently, I’ve also discovered that I need to shut my door for this concentration. Maybe I’m losing cognition, but maybe it’s just life and oncoming curmudgeonhood."

Katharine Swan:
"I work best when I can change my seat - and my scenery - periodically. Otherwise I get stiff and sore from sitting in the same place for too long. Besides my desk, my office features a cushy antique rocker where I can work with my laptop on my lap and my feet up. I also work at the kitchen table, on the living room couch, on the porch, and even in a makeshift office in the basement when it gets hot upstairs!
Sometimes I write with music, but like Debbie, it has to be without words or I get distracted. I also like to choose music that reflects a theme in my current project.
However, like Mari I do better when there’s no one around to distract me. Trying to work evenings and weekends, when my fiance is home, is a hopeless cause. I like to work very late at night, when there are next to no distractions - even the dog doesn’t bother me then."

Crystal Paul:
"I’m a technical writer, so most of what I write is not the world’s most engaging content. I find that music helps keep the right brain from, so to speak, jogging the left brain’s elbow every 15 minutes & yelling, “Wanna write something FUN now!”
Instrumental music is best, but oddly vocal music is fine if it’s in a foreign language — even one I understand enough to decipher the words, or a piece for which I already know the words.
Lyrics in English, OTOH, set up “interference” between the words in my ears and the words I’m trying to organize in my brain."

Steve Savitzsky:
"I prefer silence. Having tried several different flavors of noise-cancelling headphones with limited success, I now favor noise-BLOCKING phones — they’re usually made for drummers.
As for software, I use Emacs. Since it’s a text editor rather than a word processor, it lets me pick a font that I can see, and concentrate on the text. For hardware, nothing but an IBM model M keyboard (the one that feels like a Selectric typewriter) will do. There’s a company still making them — for about $100. I snapped up a bunch of the real deal at a surplus joint for prices ranging from $4 to $8."

Clair Ching:
"Music: Preferrably jazz, acid jazz, fusion, upbeat stuff.
Favorite spot: my low table at home and I have my back against a wall.
Software: Like Steve, I use Emacs. I simply love it and though it’s quite popular among programmers, I use it for writing and editing text. There’s even a guide to Emacs specifically written for writers. It’s really awesome."

"I’m a music person.. I always write with the music on because if there’s only silence to accompany me, i’ll never get into writing because i’ll be stuck in the reflection phase. If there’s no music.. i sing.. hehe i also consider it music :p as of the workplace.. doesn’t matter where as long as i have a pen, paper, laptop, or any writing material/tool for that matter."

"I write best if it’s quiet - which is why with two kids and three dogs, early morning and late night work best for me. I can have talk radio or the television on in the background, but music distracts me."

"Mari: Your husband must be related to my wife - different gender but same issues! I try to write when my wife and four daughters aren’t around - which is rarely. We’ve moved continents, countries, regions and houses in the last 11 months and have a nice new home in NZ but I need to convert the garage into an office before I’ll get any peace! :-)"

Mimi's Creative Inspiration


Writing Space Survey

In my last entry, I mentioned some useful software for writers. Rob Winchester had an additional suggestion: Writeroom by Hog Bay Software. A description from the Web site: "For Mac users who enjoy the simplicity of a typewriter, but live in the digital world. WriteRoom is a full screen, distraction free, writing environment. Unlike standard word processors that focus on features, WriteRoom is just about you and your text. Requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later." Rob point out that there is also a version for Windows users.

Today's comic strip was inspired by a conversation with a friend about office environments and our individual writing quirks. One of my quirks is that I can't write if there's music with words playing in the background; I start listening to the words instead of focusing on my writing. When I work in a coffee shop environment, I always bring along my noise cancellation headphones. I use Plane Quiet headphones, but am saving up for a set that packs up into a smaller space. Here's a CNET review on sound-cancelling headphones.

I find these immensely handy to enable me to work in pretty much any environment. I usually listen to silence (with the noise cancelling feature on) or to mellow instrumental music (good for masking any outside noises that do leak through) or nature sounds (the Solitudes CD line is my favourite). Sometimes I listen to Italian progressive rock, depending on what I'm working on...I can't understand the lyrics so they aren't distracting, and the music is a nice change from all the mellow instrumentals.

What about the rest of you? Do you have any particular writing space quirks? Do you have a favourite chair? Music or no music? If music, any type preference? Do you prefer a private quiet space, or people all around?

Mori and AntiRSI

Apologies for the lack of a proper comic this week. I'm actually not lounging in the sun like Eliza is above, but dealing with a sudden deluge of work and lifestuff.

I've started to use Mori to help me keep my project notes organized (thanks to my husband Jeff for telling me about this app). It's yet another digital notebook program, but has a simpler/cleaner interface than SuperNoteCard. It's more of a database of notes, with some outlining capability.

I'm also starting to use AntiRSI by Onne Gorter, a free program for Mac OS X that helps prevent RSI (repetitive strain injury) and other computer related stress by reminding the user to take breaks. I especially like the fact that you can tell the program when you're taking a natural break, in which case the program resets its timer to zero instead of reminding you to take a timed break too soon. You can also specify "micro pauses" between the longer work breaks.

In the cold light of morning

If you've recently come across any useful software or online services for writers, please do post below!

Rights Confusion


Clearing up copyright confusion

You can't really blame Mimi for being confused about copyright issues. At least she DOES want to find out more. Some writers don't seem to care about what rights they're selling...until they find out later on that they gave away more rights than they really wanted to. Be aware when you are selling your work as "work for hire," which basically means you are giving up all rights to your work, including your copyright. The buyer can publish your work without your byline if they wanted to, and they also have the right to edit your work however they'd like. They could even re-sell it.

Smaller publications, especially online pubs, tend not to offer a formal contract when they buy your work. If the editor doesn't specify what rights he or she is buying, be sure to confirm this information with them. Some new writers tend to hesitate about this because they're afraid of antagonizing the editor or losing the sale. DON'T HESITATE. It's in both your interest and the editor's to know what rights you are selling.


Here are some useful online resources:

How To Copyright A Book: A Comprehensive Guide - A detailed piece on Reedsy geared toward aspiring or self-publishing authors, explaining what copyright is and the benefits of registration. Features audio snippets from their conversations wtih lawyers, an infographic and a 1-minute video recapping the main points.

Basic Copyright Concepts For Writers by Clair E. White, from Writers Write. This article explains what copyright law covers, how to copyright protection, registering a copyright, how long copyright lasts, and copyright infringement. The author is an attorney with over ten years' experience in law firms.

Copyright info basics, courtesy Writer Beware and Covers copyright basics, the question of whether to register or not, registration services, and copyright myths. One common myth, for example, is "poor man's copyright"...mailing yourself a copy of your work and retaining the envelope unopened. This article points out that this would be easy to fake: someone mailing themselves an empty envelope, and then stuffing it later. This does not provide legal protection in countries where official registration is a prerequisite for filing an infringement suit. Has a useful list of links at the bottom of the page.

Understanding Rights and Copyright by Moira Allen, from Addresses the concern from some newbie rights that editors will steal their ideas, various types of rights, how to protect yourself. Moira also has a great list of articles related to copyright information on her site, as well as copyright info links.

10 Big Myths about copyright explained by Brad Templeton is "an attempt to answer common myths about copyright seen on the net and cover issues related to copyright and USENET/Internet publication."

U.S. Copyright Office: Lots of info here, including copyright basics and how to register a work. Please note that the new basic registration fee went up on July 1st to $45.

Canadian Intellectual Property Office: Copyright info from a Canadian perspective.

Intellectual Property (UK): Government-backed, this is the home of UK Intellectual Property online. Covers copyright, designs, patents and trademarks. There doesn't seem to be an official way to register copyright in the UK.

Do you know of other useful copyright info sources? Any useful tips for writers on how to avoid being snagged by copyright confusion? Please do post them below.