Tools for writing the next best seller ::

Want to write a book? Check out these eight great tools for starting and finishing your writing project.

Source: Tools for writing the next best seller ::

The Plain Person’s Guide to Plain Text Social Science

The Plain Person’s Guide to Plain Text Social Science

Why We Built Fable to Enhance Long-Form Narratives | Phase2 Technology

At Phase2, we have history (some would say a habit) of building products inspired by the custom solutions we develop for our clients. Sometimes those needs are met with a product or open source […]

Source: Why We Built Fable to Enhance Long-Form Narratives | Phase2 Technology

ScholarlyMarkdown: A Markdown Flavor for Science and Math Scholarship

ScholarlyMarkdown is a syntax/standard/best-practice of scholarly and academic communication that is web-first, semantic XML-second, and LaTeX/Word a close third. Its main goal is to produce a semantically model of a scholarly article based on Markdown input, and translate it to a variety of formats that is suitable for both online scholarly communication, archiving, and publication.
ScholarlyMarkdown introduces some new syntax for scholarly and academic features. However, at the same time it aims to be composed of 100% valid Github-Flavored Markdown and PHP Markdown Extra syntax and almost 90% backwards compatibility with existing renderers of those syntaxes, while being 100% compatible with Pandoc-markdown. It contains no completely new syntax over the previous standards, and instead provides its power from conventions.
Furthermore, ScholarlyMarkdown borrows a unique templating system/language from Pandoc with variables and metadata that may be set using YAML blocks inside the document. This allows flexibility to configure the output formatting to your heart’s content without polluting the source text with presentation-specific code.

via ScholarlyMarkdown.

This looks like a worthwhile and promising project. It is important to note that the “scholarly” part is really a reference to including math and figures in Markdown and it requires a modified fork of Pandoc for rendering into HTML.

If you want to try Markdown with legal stuff see and

If you want to author legal scholarship, or any other scholarship,  in a plain text format and skip Word or WordPerfect altogether, I’d recommend using AsciiDoc, it was built for authoring complex documents like scholarly articles. For an example of legal scholarship in AsciiDoc see my article The Classical Roots of Binary Economics at

Building An Authoring Environment For The Web, Part 1

What I want is a web/cloud based authoring environment that gives me the capability to create documents that can are digital and can be displayed as needed. Some examples include a blog post, an essay, a research article, a presentation, documentation, notes, and so on.

First up is a flexible text markup system. I need something that is capable of handling a lot of different markup elements. Some of the documents that I need to create have complex structures that are not easily simplified. After looking at a number of markup schemes including various wiki languages and Markdown, I decided to go with AsciiDoc. AsciiDoc provides text markup for most elements of DocBook 4.5 allowing for the creation of highly structured documents using a simple text editor.

At this writing there are 2 tool chains for rendering AsciiDoc. The original AsciiDoc, which is written in Python and AsciiDoctor, a new native Ruby version. I plan on using AsciiDoctor for most of the work, but will need to fall back to the original tool chain for some features (like PDF generation). I will be installing both.

Next up, solving the web-based editor issue.

Tap Here To Begin Writing…

“Tap here to begin writing”. That is the very simple instruction given in the WordPress app on the iPad when you hit the new post button. If it were only that simple. Writing is hard for me. I know people who write every day, and they often make it look simple. For me writing is a bit of a struggle. Not that I don’t have things to say, I do, but sitting down to put my thoughts on “paper” does not come easy for me.

I’ve had a blog for over 10 years now and it has served mostly as a sort of digital scrapbook, a place for me to stash links and snippets of sites that caught my attention. Mixed in there is some actual writing, but I’ve probably thrown away more than I’ve posted. Weirdly the blog has often acted like a sort of deterrent to writing, a looming presence were I should be writing, but I don’t. It pushes out the possibility of writing in another medium or venue.

When asked how they write, writers often say that they just sit down and write for a certain amount of time, at a certain time. They seem to be citing a particular discipline that creates the right environment for writing. This notion also fosters the idea that writing can be a skill that is developed with regular practice. I’m going to put that idea to the test.

I work at home, and as a developer of webby things I spend a lot of time sitting in my chair in front of a bank of computers. This is not a recipe for a healthy lifestyle. And I’ll be turning 50 in less than a month. I’m not a complete couch potato though. I walk a 3 mile circuit regularly, alternating with exercise program that works my upper body. I’ve made time in my day to get this exercise in and it really gets my day off to a good start. Now I’m thinking that I’ll expand this exercise program to include a daily dose of writing.

The plan is to spend 30 minutes a day writing, probably in the morning while I have a cup of coffee and before exercising. The goal is to regularly kick out 500 – 600 words during the 30 minutes. As far as topics go, I’m not too sure of that yet. Probably some mix of tech stuff and free form verse, I’ll just have to see where this goes.