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7 Apps That Can Make You A Better Writer

Writing is one area of life where you can continuously improve. There’s always some little tweak you can make to create an even better piece. However, when you’re strapped for time, how can you find a way to improve your writing? Rather than proofreading the same piece over and over, there are some amazingly handy apps that can take the hard work and time out of getting your content creation just right.

In this article, we take a look at seven of the best apps currently on the market for finessing your work. Through downloading and using a few of the following, you’ll become the best writer you can be.


If grammar isn’t your strongest point, you can use ProWritingAid to check everything you write. It provides 25 different reports on spelling and grammar mistakes, style issues, and readabilty issues. It does cost you money though but there are often special offers that enable you to save dollars while making your writing impeccable.


The Hemingway app identifies any sentences that may be difficult to read while also providing simple alternatives. If you have an issue with passive writing or using too many adverbs, the app flags these up too. Using Hemingway, you also get an idea of the reading level of your work. It gauges the lowest education needed to understand your piece.


Flowstate is for you if you constantly get distracted as you write. You set a font and timer and go for it. If you stop to daydream, your work will be lost!


Draft is a free web app that enables you to control features in word processors such as Google Docs. It’s therefore excellent in terms of collaborative writing. Additionally, its “Ask a Professional” feature lets you get advice and input from others on your writing. You can also keep abreast of any revisions you’ve made to your piece to assess how it’s changed as you’ve rewritten or tweaked it.


Scrivener is a tool with robust features that take time to get to grips with. However, this is a crucial app for many writers and is known as a complete writing studio. The app provides you with one single place to store all your writing and ideas. It’s perfect for you if you want to keep everything in the one place in terms of writing and organization

Microsoft Word

An oldie but still a goodie, Microsoft Word is still a very valid and valuable tool for any writer. You can do almost everything in Word with its app-specific keyboard shortcuts, formatting options, collaboration, draft versions, customizable toolbars and more.

Inspiration Maps

If you tend to come up with random ideas and find these difficult to organize, Inspiration Maps could be the app you’re looking for. You can simply utilize a template to collate your thoughts, images and ideas. You can then even convert these into a Word document.

There are hundreds of writing software apps on the market today. Not all will appeal to everyone. However, this list of seven will help get you started. Good luck!

Jen Starr is part of the community team at Next Day PC. Jen enjoys staying on top of the latest tech trends and sharing how new tech can positively impact people’s lives.

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Authors: Build Your List with Facebook Lead Gen Ads

Create a Lead Gen Ad

Today, we have a guest post from Anne Felicitas, Editor at AdvertiseMint, a Facebook advertising agency.

My first instinct after finishing a piece, whether that’s a poem, an article, or a blog post, is to share it. After all, what’s the point of toiling for a work of art that no one else can see, that no one else can enjoy? You, a fellow writer, an author, likely share the same sentiment. After spending years on a book, writing your outlines, redrafting your manuscript two or three times, you want people other than your spouse, your editor, and your agent to read it—you want prospective fans to discover your work.

You can easily gather new readers for your book by creating a Facebook Lead Ad, an ad that functions as a digital sign-up form. Lead Ads, with their superior ad targeting options, will help you build an email list of prospective readers.

What Is a Facebook Lead Ad?

In 2015, Facebook witnessed three phenomena: more users were migrating from desktop to mobile phones, advertisers were demanding sign-up forms to collect leads, and users, accustomed to quick results, were often too impatient to fill out slow-loading, too inquisitive forms. Although Facebook wanted to appease advertisers by creating sign-up forms, it first needed to address the problem of impatient and mobile-centric customers. To resolve its problems, Facebook create a sign-up form that accommodates mobile phone users who often abandoned forms that took too much effort to fill, that took too long to load on a cellphone. Facebook created the Lead Ad.

Lead ads, which are accessible on Facebook and Instagram, are digital sign-up forms that allow you to collect customer’s information. With these forms, you can create a sign-up sheet for newsletters, price estimates, follow-up calls, or business information.

Optimized for mobile devices, although also accessible through desktop computers, lead ads are unlike any other form you’ve seen before. It expedites the sign-up process by automatically populating contact information customers provided in their profiles, such as first name, last name, and email address. Additionally, they load and open quickly within Facebook’s app. As soon as it opens, customers can fill in and submit the form without being redirected to a slow-loading web browser or to a different app.

How to Create a Facebook Lead Ad

You can create Facebook Lead Ads from two places: Business Manager or your Facebook page.

On Business Manager

Step 1: Choose the objective “Lead generation”

In order for you to enable the lead ad format, you must first choose “Lead generation” as your objective, the only objective eligible for Lead Ads. After you’ve chosen “Lead generation” as your objective, click “Continue” to proceed to the next section of the ad.

Step 2: Choose your Facebook page

If you have more than one Facebook page, choose the one you want to promote. The Facebook page account that you choose to promote will be the account that will advertise on your behalf. For example, after choosing AdvertiseMint as the Facebook page I want to promote, the ad that will appear on news feed will appear as posted by Advertisemint.

Step 3: Create your target audience

If you don’t already have an existing customer list you can upload to Facebook for targeting, then you must create a new audience by choosing the demographics, behavior, and lifestyle of the audience you want to target. Examine the sample target audience illustrated below.


Men and women aged 18-40


United States




Barnes and Noble, books, novels, Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale, science fiction, dystopia


People who like your page

If you want accurate targeting, create the persona of your target audience. Ask yourself who your readers are. Are they men or women? What is their age? What genres do they like? What novels? Who are their favorite authors?

You can also upload an existing customer list to Facebook. You can either target the people on that list or you can create a Lookalike Audience, a highly recommended option, which allows you to target new people who are closely similar to your current readers from your customer list.

Step 4: Choose your placements

If you choose automatic placements, Facebook will deliver your Lead Ad to the three placements it’s eligible for: Facebook desktop news feed, Facebook mobile news feed, and Instagram. If you want to place your Lead Ad exclusively on Facebook or exclusively on Instagram, you can do so by clicking “Edit Placements” and checking off the placements you prefer.

Step 5: Set a budget and schedule

Here’s a helpful tip: when you set your budget, optimize for leads rather than for link clicks. Choosing the latter may result in a higher click-through rate. If you want to get the most out of your Facebook ad, always optimize for your goal, which, in this case, is leads.

Step 6: Choose your format

Your Lead Ad is eligible for the formats carousel, single image, single video, and slideshow. The single image format is commonly used because it’s the easiest to create. The carousel format, on the other hand, allows you to feature up to 10 images and videos in one ad unit. If none of the formats appeal to you, and you want a cheaper and easier alternative to the video format, use the slideshow format. If you’re new to Facebook advertising, and you don’t have time to create complex creatives, then use the single image format.

Step 7: Enter text

Write copies that give your readers a clear understanding about your offer. What exactly are they signing up for? Will you give them a free book? Will you give them email updates about your upcoming novels? Will you notify them about your book tours? Be honest, and try not to inadvertently deceive your potential fans.

Step 8: Create the form

When you create your form, keep your questions to a minimum. Lengthy forms may dissuade your potential fans from signing up as they may be reluctant to disclose too much personal information. Instead, request necessary information, which will likely be the person’s full name, email address, and phone number. If you must ask questions on your form, ask multiple choice questions rather than open-ended questions. A convenient process leads to more conversions.

Step 9: You’re done!

On Your Facebook Page

If you don’t have a Business Manager account, there’s no need to panic. You can still create a Lead Ad straight from your Facebook page.

Step 1: Go to your business page

You can access your business page from your news feed. It should appear under “Favorites” on the left column of your screen.

Step 2: Go to Publishing Tools

Click “Publishing Tools” located above your cover photo.

Step 3: Click “Lead Ads Forms”

Click “Lead Ads Forms” located on the left side of your screen.

Step 4: Click “Create”

If you haven’t made any Lead Ads, this page should be empty. Click “Create” on the upper right corner to create a Lead Ad.

Step 5: Create the form

Click “New Form” then click “Next.”

Step 6: Add a context card to your form

Context cards allow you to add more information about your product or service before they visit your form. In the context cards, explain what people are signing up for. Are they signing up for a newsletter, a raffle to win a prize, or a free book? As aforementioned, be honest and avoid inadvertently deceiving your fans.

Step 7: Fill in context card

Write a headline, add an image, write a description in either bullet or paragraph form, then add a call-to-action button.

Step 8: Add a link to your website

Provide the website link to where you want your form to direct users.

Step 9: Add your privacy policy

Link the text or URL to your privacy policy to avoid future disputes.

Step 10: Choose sign-up information

You can choose to ask for email, phone numbers, first and last names, addresses, etc. To view more options click “Show more options.” After checking all desired information, click “Next.”

Step 11: Enter URL in thank-you card

Your Lead Ad will end with a thank-you card that lets people know that their form was successfully submitted. The bottom of that card will contain a link that can direct them to your website. It’s important that you provide the link to the website you want them to visit after they’ve signed up.

Step 12: You’re done!

Your form should appear on this page. The form may take a minute or so to appear, so if you don’t see it, refresh until you do.

You’ve labored for that book. Don’t let your hard work go to waste by preventing others from reading it. Fortunately, gaining prospective readers is just a lead form away.


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How to Write a Novel in Just One Year

How to Write a Novel

How to Write a Novel

The first of the year can be a disheartening time for writers.

The zeal brought on by ambitious resolutions has worn off, and, with each passing day that you don’t write, the sting of failure grows less acute as you sink back into your regular, creativity-free routine.

You don’t have to settle for failure. If you didn’t follow through on your writing resolutions, perhaps you simply need a new approach.

For all you aspiring authors out there, sticking to a writing schedule in the new year can help you achieve your goal to start (and even finish) that book you’ve been planning to write.

Maybe you’re the kind of author who experiences sudden bursts of inspiration, or maybe you’ve had an idea percolating for a while. Whether you’re starting from scratch or dusting off a rough draft, writing a book is hard work that requires dedication from start to finish.

Researching, writing, revising, editing, and proofreading your manuscript may sound like a daunting task, but harnessing the power of a writing schedule can help you create and achieve attainable writing goals, whether you’re starting January 1st or right now.

Prioritize Your Writing

The best way to incorporate writing into your daily schedule is to find out when you do your best writing, when you’re free to write, and how to keep yourself motivated. It’s also important to have a dedicated work environment to stay on task using methods that allow your creative juices to flow.

Every individual author has a different writing process, and understanding yours will help you write efficiently. Be sure to consider the following:

  • Time of Day: Are you a night owl who finds your sweet spot around 2 a.m.? Or do you function best early in the morning, before the kids wake up? Regardless of when you’re most loquacious, try writing at a consistent time of day. This will strengthen your writing routine.
  • Location: Do you work best in a quiet room, free of distractions? Or do you like the bustle of a coffee shop or music playing softly in the background to help you focus? Finding a compatible writing environment is essential for many authors to enhance their productivity.
  • Writing Tools: Do you type, write in cursive, or print in block letters? For some, ideas might flow more easily from rapid strokes on a keyboard than from a pad and pencil, while others prefer the feeling of a pen against paper to really get their creative juices flowing. Even famous writers use unconventional means of writing to meet their deadlines.
  • Motivation: While writing, do you respond better to positive or negative reinforcement? That is, do you stay motivated by rewarding yourself (e.g., with breaks, snacks, activities, or cute pictures of kittens) or by working under pressure? Motivating yourself with rewards or stressors can help give you that extra push to stick to your writing schedule.
  • Routines: What is your daily routine? Writing is unlikely to become your go-to activity in every spare moment unless you make the conscious decision to form a writing habit. Author Bryan Hutchinson recommends that you commit to writing “at the same time every day so that it becomes a natural, automatic part of your day, regardless of whether you feel inspired or motivated.”

With all these factors in mind, find what works best for you, and make the decision to keep working in the way that suits you best.

Set a Production Schedule

Unlocking the Art of Fiction WritingTo get an accurate idea of how long your book will take to write, you’ve got to set a total word count that’s appropriate for the scope of your project. Are you writing a 10,000-word short story or a 60,000-word novel? Knowing how long your work might be will help you create a realistic writing schedule.

Another thing you need to know is how quickly you can produce new material. How many new words can you write per hour (excluding rewriting)? This might be anywhere from 500 to 1,000 words. It’s totally okay if you’re not very fast; the idea here is to recognize your typical output level and work with it.

You should also consider how much time you have available. For writers who have full-time jobs, it can be hard to commit to a solid writing schedule. You may even have to sacrifice other activities. But, only once you decide to build writing into your daily routine will you start seeing results.

What’s the formula for your daily writing schedule? Here are the two equations you’ll need to solve:

  • Your weekly productivity = the number of words you can write per hour × the number of hours you have available per week
  • The number of weeks it will take to complete a first draft = the work’s approximate number of words ÷ your weekly productivity

So if you need to write an 80,000-word manuscript, but you can only write 10 hours per week at 1,000 words per hour, it’ll take you 8 weeks of writing to complete your first draft:

80,000 ÷ (1000 × 10) = 8

Keep in mind that this is an ideal equation that does not account for interruptions, delays, cases of writer’s block, or sudden waves of inspiration that you ride for 48 hours straight to finish your manuscript.

Set Writing Targets

If you’re not a word-generating machine that can pump out words in a constant, uninterrupted flow (honestly, it would be alarming if you were), don’t worry—writing targets can be either project-based or process-based. In other words, you might set a goal for yourself to finish a chapter by the end of the week or to revise a poem or short story by the end of the day. Whether or not you find having a weekly word count goal appealing, having a daily or weekly target can help you stay on track with your writing schedule.

Set Deadlines for Your Writing Process

Now that you have an idea of what’s involved in creating a writing schedule, let’s look at the step-by-step process that serious writers follow to see their work in print.

To start meeting the demands of your writing schedule, you must have a thorough understanding of the various aspects of writing: outlining, researching, writing a rough draft, rewriting, editing, and proofreading. Every writer will find a timeline that works for him or her, but the following sections outline a writing schedule that’s roughly based on the process I used to write my master’s thesis, which was about 25,000 words. You can either expand or condense it to fit your production schedule.

Month 1: OutliningYearly Writing Schedule

Some writers come up with their best material simply through the act of writing, and not everyone follows all stages of the pre-writing process in succession. Nevertheless, it’s an excellent idea to plan your writing before you launch into writing an ambitious manuscript.

A clear outline will help you avoid wasting time writing paragraphs or chapters that you might eventually just throw out (though you might be forced to do that to some extent in the rewriting stage, anyway).

The basic idea here is to create a skeleton of the key subject matter of your book, including the major plot points of a novel, the order of events of a memoir, or the main topics of a non-fiction work (such as a biography).

Months 1–3: Researching

Once you’ve identified the key topics you want to write about, take some time to get acquainted with them.

Experience and insight are often the best teachers for believable writing (whether fiction or non-fiction), but some topics will require extra research.

However, unless you’re writing an academic research paper or a science-based, realistic portrayal of an intricate process, this prewriting stage might not necessarily involve scholarly articles and monographs.

There are alternative ways to research a topic for writing. If you’re writing a young adult novel set in 2017, you might need to understand the quirks of teenagers’ conversations, whether online or in public, to write believable dialogue. Or maybe you’re writing a memoir, and you want to recapture the sights and sounds of your old school’s playground.

Sometimes, observing phenomena or interviewing individuals from relevant demographics is the best way to incorporate realistic material into your new book. Other times, you might need to dig a little deeper and conduct research online or at the library.

The bottom line is that you’ll write with more authority and precision about topics you know and understand. You don’t want to commit a factual error like some of these famous books and movies did.

Months 4–8: Writing a Rough Draft

You’ve got your outline and the necessary background information, and you’re raring to go! Finally, here comes the fun part: writing your first draft.

There’s a lot I could say here, but the most important advice I can give is to be like Dory: “just keep writing.” Another important maxim is to stay consistent but flexible: if new ideas develop while you’re writing your rough draft, don’t feel bound to your original outline, but you can still refer to it to stay on track.

Don’t sweat the details at this stage. I know it can be tempting to be critical of your mistakes, but your rough draft doesn’t have to be perfect—it’s called rough for a reason.

Month 9–11: Rewriting and Editing

If you’ve ever written a novel or a book in a short time, you might find yourself wondering what to do next. Basically, you want to take time at this stage to step back from your work and look at it through the eyes of your reader. This will allow you to rewrite and edit appropriately.

Rewriting might involve adding, cutting, or rewording passages. Try examining your book chapter by chapter and then re-reading it as a whole. Are there any gaps in continuity? Is the tone consistent throughout? Is there any unnecessary information that could be cut? This stage could take as long (or longer) than writing the initial draft. Examine your manuscript critically in terms of structure, organization, and style.

Once you’ve revised your manuscript and edited it to improve word choice, clarity, flow, and overall readability, you’re almost ready to polish your book for publication (the ultimate goal!).

Month 12: Proofreading

This is the final stage of the writing process. It’s important not to get caught up in the mechanics of language too early, because it won’t matter how you spelled convalescent if you decide to cut the chapter on your character’s recovery from surgery.

Proofreading is meant to fix grammatical, typographical, and spelling mistakes to ensure a perfect final draft. This is especially important if you’re hoping to get your book published, so consider enlisting the help of a professional proofreading service that will review your manuscript with fresh and experienced eyes.


Deciding to write a book is one thing, but finishing it is another thing entirely. We’d all love it if our ideas could form themselves perfectly in our heads and immediately spill onto the page in well-ordered lines of eloquent text, but alas, that’s not how it works.

Just as bodybuilders must work out to achieve their fitness goals, so too must writers work hard. By adhering to a writing schedule, you can achieve that perfect final draft.

While reading endless advice articles from other authors and every book about writing you can get your hands on is one way to motivate yourself to succeed, the only real way to write a book is to do just that—write, write, and write some more.

Though it’s unlikely that you will write your book from start to finish without rearranging, altering, or rewriting any words, planning out a specific writing schedule will help you make writing part of your daily routine.

Don’t let this be another year of untapped ideas and empty notebooks. Make the commitment to set a writing schedule, and follow it until your ideas manifest from just a plan into writing on a page.

Image source: TRT Photo/

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The Comic Touch: How to Be Funny in Your Writing

A dog in a funny mask.

A dog in a funny mask.

Airplanes. Ben Affleck making a comeback after Gigli. Space travel. Women not just wearing—but totally rocking—pants on a regular basis. Justin Timberlake being taken seriously as an actor.

These are all things that people once thought highly unlikely, and maybe even impossible, yet they’re all totally accepted facts today.

The lesson here? There’s no such thing as impossible. If you put your mind to it and are willing to do the work, then gosh dang it, you can learn how to be funny.

But before we get into the how of writing humor, I’d like to delve into the why. The suspense of waiting for the how may very well kill you, I know, but what can I say? I’m a risk taker.

What are the benefits of writing humor into your story?

You may be wondering why incorporating humor into fiction and other types of creative writing is even important. You may think that learning how to be funny is secondary to learning how to tell compelling, dramatic stories.

The truth is, writing humor is important precisely because it helps create compelling and dramatic stories. Allow me to break that down into five easily digestible points that are sure to provide you with your daily dose of figurative fiber:

1. Humor can be used to give us a break from other more intense emotions.

You’ve surely heard the term “comic relief” tossed around before. Comic relief occurs when a comic scene or character appears in an otherwise tragic or serious tale. It gives the audience or reader a break from the intensity of the rest of the story.

Shakespeare is big on comic relief. Considering that his tragedies—like King Lear, Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, and Othello, to name a few—always conclude with the violent deaths of most of the characters, you can see how some laughs might ease the tension a bit before the imminent bloodshed.

2. Writing humor can be satiric—it can work to highlight the absurdity of a real issue.

Sometimes writing about reality can be a hefty task. Explicitly stating what’s wrong with the world, with society, with your parents, or with your less-than-complete sense of self is not always the most effective or entertaining way to communicate your message. Plus, some topics are taboo—and as fun as it is to say taboo, what this word means is that you’re not really supposed to talk about certain things. Cue satire.

Joseph Heller’s Catch-22 is an astonishing example of satire. Heller uses satire to highlight the absurdity, the illogicality, the painful contradictions, and the nonsensical confusion experienced by soldiers fighting in a world war, as well as the chaos behind the concept of war itself.

Another example of tackling a taboo subject with satire is Oscar Wilde’s hilarious play, The Importance of Being Earnest, which highlights the contradictions between appearances and reality in English society in the late 1800s. In Earnest, deviations from convention are the only ways to escape a world in which believing something is enough to make it true. In the play, this is seen in Algernon’s “Bunburying,” which is widely interpreted as a metaphor for homosexual activity (which was illegal at the time and landed Wilde himself in prison).

3. Writing humor can help create an honest connection between the reader and the narrator or character.

Just as we love the “class clown” in real life, we tend to love funny characters in books. These are the kinds of people who, if they actually existed, would make my grandmother smile wryly and say, “Oh, that one’s a character all right!” I love that woman.

A great example of using humor in writing to help the reader relate to the story is John Dies at the End, a comic horror novel by David Wong. A truly absurd book from start to finish, this comic and sardonic narrative lets the reader inside the mind of the narrator, David. We get a solid grasp of his sense of humor (complete with grammar jokes about apostrophes and dangling modifiers, I might add), but we also get the inside scoop on the intense experiences and feelings he’s having.

Considering that David has unwittingly contributed to the opening of a portal to other dimensions, complete with gods of chaos and squiggly, creepy creatures, you could say he’s going through a pretty tough time. The humor in this book also helps us fall in love with David’s partner in crime, John, who to our relief—spoiler alert—does not actually die at the end.

4. Humor can be used as a contrast to tragedy, making the poignancy of more difficult emotions hit the reader even harder.

Dave Eggers masters the contrast of comedy with tragedy in his semi-fictional memoir, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. This book is laugh-out-loud funny. It’s crawling with Eggers’ trademark wit and astute observations about the hilarity of everyday life. Filled with wild tangents and unconventional fourth-wall confrontations, this book is sure to keep most readers on their toes.

Did I mention both of Eggers’ parents die at the beginning of the book and that Eggers must then assume custody of his young brother? Eggers, with his fantastical blurring of fiction and reality, allows the reader to almost forget this. Then, quietly, he reminds us. The result? We’re momentarily heartbroken, only to be uplifted again by Eggers’ next wild tangent. While it may be either wildly pretentious or painfully ironic, the book’s title is quite accurate.

5. Writing humorously keeps the reader interested and engaged.

Even if humor serves no other purpose in your writing, know this—most people respect a good display of wit. Even if you don’t know how to be funny in real life, I suggest you learn how to be in your writing.

Clever writing is intelligent writing, and intelligent writing is respected and encourages engagement. Shakespeare reigns supreme in the wit department, and Wilde runs a close second. For more examples of wit that just won’t quit, I recommend checking out anything written by Jane Austen, J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit, Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, and J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.

So there’s the why. Now where’s the how?

As promised, here is your guide to how to be funny in writing. Follow these steps, and you’ll surely be busting guts in no time at all:

1. Give up now.

If you haven’t figured out how to be funny on your own already, it’s not going to happen. What do you think I am, a wizard or something? Go on. Get outta here!

2. Wait, no! I was lying! Don’t go!

I was just doing something unexpected to try to catch you off guard. Did it work? Sometimes the element of surprise is enough to elicit a laugh when writing humor.

3. See what I did there? Aren’t I clever?

“Oh, the cleverness of me!” If it fits your story, making allusions to famous icons and events can put your jokes into context and help readers relate to you. Peter Pan is a go-to of mine, so you can’t have him, but anyone else is all yours. Another way to illicit a laugh is to hearken back to a previous point from your own story in a surprising way. Once you set up a world, weave together inside jokes that you share with your reader.

4. A false sense of grandeur can sometimes be funny, too. Trust me—I know.

Pretending that you know what you’re talking about is a sure way to get people to laugh at you, especially if you quite obviously don’t know what you’re talking about. Sure, it might not be the kind of laughter you’re after, but a laugh is a laugh, right?

5. Right. You wanted to learn how to be funny.

If you really want to learn how to be funny, you’re going to have to do a bit of work. Read some of the works mentioned above, and think about how humor is used in them (using my handy-dandy descriptions as a guide). Then, think about how you can incorporate humor into your own writing.

Make note of the jokes that made you laugh the hardest, and dissect them to really understand how they work before putting those mechanisms into practice.

Your jokes might not be gold at first, but in time, I’m sure you’ll find that you’re cracking jokes faster than my grandma cracks eggs for Sunday brunch. Have I mentioned yet today how much I love her?

Image Source: Braydon Anderson/

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The 8 Scariest Monsters in Literature

Scariest Monsters in Literature

A scary mosnter from literature.Introduction

The thin layer of frost, brisk air, and falling leaves all signify one thing: it is finally that time of year when it is socially acceptable to eat hundreds of tiny chocolate bars in one sitting.

October is hands down the best month of the year. By day, you can enjoy the beautiful fall weather, and by night, you can indulge in your favorite guilty pleasure (besides chocolate): horror novels. Seriously, fall is an excellent time to dive into a good book, and every great horror novel begins and ends with a good monster. Don’t believe me? Check out this list of the scariest monsters in literature.


Dracula: the original vampire. He is not the sparkly vampire we are accustomed to. He was brought to life in 1897 by Bram Stoker. Dracula turns into a bat at night and can turn into a wolf during the day. Oh, in case you forgot, he also sucks blood. If that wasn’t enough, the man is as alluring as he is terrifying; he is described as a charming, handsome man that has an uncanny ability to blend into society.


Grendel is the antagonist from the poem Beowulf. He is often described as an incredibly strong giant. Not only is he large, he is also charmed in such a way that he isn’t affected by human weapons. He terrorizes Hrothgar’s kingdom and is feared by everyone (except Beowulf, of course). And it’s no wonder why—he can defeat dozens of men at a time and then eats the dead. Gross.

PennywisePennywise the clown.

Pennywise is the monster from Stephen King’s novel IT. It presents itself as a clown for the majority of the novel, terrorizing a small town. Pennywise has claws and razor-sharp teeth. Yeah, we know, it’s a terrifying image. To make it even worse, Pennywise preys on fear and targets children.

Beldam (The Other Mother)

Beldam is the villain from Neil Gaiman’s Coraline. In the novel, a young girl finds herself in an alternate world that is a mirror image to her own. There, she meets Beldam, the Other Mother, who cares for and loves her unconditionally.

What, that doesn’t sound scary? Did we forget to mention the Other Mother is actually a witch who wants to sew buttons onto Coraline’s eyes and steal her soul? Yeah, no thanks.

Fun fact: Beldam actually means hag or witch, which is an excellent example of a charactonym.

Patrick Bateman

Patrick Bateman is the main character from the novel American Psycho, written by Bret Easton Ellis. Though he is of the human variety, Patrick the (maybe) serial killer is super scary. He lives out his darkest fantasies, including murder and cannibalism. This book is so twisted that it has been banned or labeled R18 in several countries. This is a novel for the die-hard horror fanatics, so please don’t give this novel to children!

Frankenstein’s MonsterFrankenstein's monster.

Mary Shelley delivered one of the most iconic monsters of all time in her book Frankenstein. Dr. Frankenstein combined various body parts to create this monster, which was given life by a mysterious spark. He is eight feet tall and very strong. After being abandoned by his creator, he seeks revenge and goes on a murder spree. Perhaps tied for scariest monster in this book is Dr. Frankenstein himself, the irresponsible scientist who ignores the consequences of his actions.


J.K. Rowling introduced the world to dementors in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. They are black, wispy, soul-sucking beings that patrol the Azkaban prison. When they are brought to Hogwarts to protect the students after the infamous Sirius Black escapes prison, they attack Harry without warning.


Are you scared yet? Share some of the scariest monsters you know with us on Facebook or Twitter!

Do you know what’s scarier than all these monsters combined? Grammar and spelling errors! Check out GrammarCamp and see how you can keep your writing error-free.


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Why Libraries Will Never Go the Way of Blockbuster

The Future of Libraries

The Future of Libraries

A few quick questions before we start:

  • Do you read the newspaper in print or online?
  • Do you watch reruns of your favorite movies and shows on DVD, or do you opt for Netflix instead?
  • Do you refuse to abandon print books, or do you adore the convenience of your e-reader?

As a consumer in the digital age, you have access to a greater volume of information in more formats than ever before. And regardless of how you answered these questions, the manner in which you access information and media has likely changed drastically. For example, online streaming of films and television shows has virtually eliminated video rental services (R.I.P., Blockbuster!).

Another question: Do you use your local public or academic library? If so, how often?

Many of us do not have the time to browse the stacks for hours on end, much as we might like to. What does this mean for the future of libraries?

Are libraries and the services they provide obsolete?

Though they have long been deemed the unfortunate victims of the digital age, here are a few reasons why libraries will not go the way of Blockbuster any time soon.

Quality versus Quantity

“Without libraries, what do we have? We have no past and no future.”

 – Ray Bradbury

A simple Google search will yield millions of hits in a fraction of a second. This means that we can find information on any topic imaginable almost instantaneously.

If this is so, why use library resources? Visiting a library in person or using a library website to access resources might seem like more of a hassle than anything else.

I’m sure you’re aware, though, that the information you find on the Internet is unpredictable in terms of quality (to put it nicely). Immediate answers to your questions are not necessarily the best answers. And depending on your purpose and the type of information for which you are searching, getting the wrong information could be problematic.

For example, using information from an anonymous online blog to write your paper on the history of the printing press could lead to a true research disaster. (No, the printing press was not invented by a wheat-loving baker named Glutenberg in an attempt to spread pro-gluten propaganda.)

Librarians can help you sift through the content you are bombarded with daily and filter out the misinformation.

Workspace-in-Library Librarians pride themselves on providing users with high-quality, trusted information. For example, as an alternative to resources like Wikipedia (which is fine for some preliminary research but should be used very cautiously as a final resource), libraries subscribe to electronic reference materials like dictionaries and encyclopedias. These sources provide information on an immense variety of subjects, with entries that are often written and signed by experts.

Information Access for All

“I go into my library and all history unrolls before me.”

 – Alexander Smith

As a true library advocate, this point is one of my favorites.

In my view, the principle on which libraries operate is truly democratic. Those who have access to meaningful information can make well-informed decisions in all areas of their lives.

Libraries help remove barriers to information access by providing all users with free information in a variety of formats on virtually any topic. Library policies ensure that all library resources are routinely evaluated to eliminate any potential barriers that could inhibit users as they access information (e.g., paywalls for journal articles or hard-to-reach shelves).

Historically, librarians have championed users’ right to information on all topics and have even fought against authorities that have attempted to bar users from accessing this information.

For example, the Windsor Public Library in Ontario posted an article discussing some of the glorious banned books being read by staff, just in time for the American Library Association’s banned book week.

Libraries also help support literacy and learning for people from all socioeconomic backgrounds. Sometimes referred to as the people’s university, libraries tackle the growing cost of education by providing free educational resources for everyone. These resources can provide academic support to students of all ages and aid those who wish to brush up on a topic or learn something new.

In addition, libraries can help users find a copy of virtually anything that exists bibliographically through interlibrary loans. This service allows users to obtain a copy of an item that is not held at their local library. Need an online article or a specific book? Before making an online purchase or running to the bookstore, try an interlibrary loan.

Though many of us are fortunate enough to have an Internet connection at home, some are unable (or unwilling) to subscribe to an Internet provider. Thankfully, libraries bridge the gap to digital information by offering free Wi-Fi so that users can surf the web and avoid paying a monthly Internet bill.

Always Adapting

“My lifelong love affair with books and reading continues unaffected by automation, computers, and all other forms of the twentieth-century gadgetry.”

Books in My Life, Robert Downs

Though the way that libraries offer their services has changed, the fundamental standards on which their services are based remain the same. Understanding user needs and emerging trends in information access are the guiding principles on which library services are based.

Libraries have demonstrated an incredible ability to adapt their services to shifting user needs. In an effort to reach more users and accommodate various preferences, library materials are offered in both traditional print and digital format.

Library SeminarIn fact, many libraries (public and academic alike) have increased their focus on developing their electronic collections and digital resources. For example, Hoopla, a database available through the Chatham–Kent and Windsor Public Library systems, lets users borrow free digital music, movies, and audiobooks, all of which can be downloaded to a computer or phone for offline access. Most libraries subscribe to expensive databases and electronic resources so that patrons are able to use them for free.

Beyond Internet resources and other media, many practical opportunities are made available through libraries that teach the public everyday skills, such as how to do CPR, how to do basic yoga, and how to properly use laboratory measuring equipment. These events not only impart knowledge but also connect people and encourage community involvement.


Libraries are no longer simply repositories for print books waiting to be checked out; they are spaces in which collaborative learning and engagement take place. Library programming and events are incredibly diverse and target all segments of the population, and the resources libraries provide benefit all members of the public.

Although it may be impossible to predict the future of libraries, these institutions have proven to be innovative and relevant. Libraries will continue to cater to the needs of the public, even as those needs change.

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