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  • Writer's pictureJohn Lim

MF 230 : A book writing toolkit

Updated: Jun 22, 2022

On this episode, I break down some of the tools I used to co-write Making Fake Star Trek. More at

Moving Forward is also available on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher Radio, Google Podcasts, Spotify, and Amazon Music.

Part 1: Dating in 2019

I normally don’t share a lot about my personal life but I feel this story is important and may resonate with some or many of you. I’ve been single for the past two years and like most single people am rolling the dice, trying to find romance on my phone. About two weeks ago, I connected with someone on Bumble, a popular dating app. We had a great chat and on the second evening, I asked her out on a date. She accepted and both of us seemed equally excited. I confirmed our date the day before (which seems to be the norm with online dating), made reservations at a cute little place, and was looking forward to it. Then, on Thursday, the day of the date, I got a text around 3 pm. She apologized, saying she had to cancel because of a work dinner that suddenly came up. It was abrupt and the explanation was a little off-putting. However, I always try to give the benefit of the doubt so I simply said I understood and suggested we reschedule, providing two alternative days for next week.

I didn’t hear back.

I conferred with several of my close friends, both single and married. We batted around ideas, explanations, and pontificated on the general state of dating in today’s world. We also mulled over responses, everything from the sadly common, “just ignore her” to the more extreme of “call her out.” I decided to do neither. I drafted a text, which I sent on Saturday. It was short and simply communicated that I hoped she had a good week and that since I didn’t hear from her, I would assume she’s not interested in rescheduling or communicating further. I closed by wishing her the best. That was it. No judgments, no callouts – just a simple goodbye and a little closure.

I didn’t expect to hear back but later that night I did. Her response took me my surprise. It was abrasive, rude, and completely out of line. I won’t get into specifics except to say it was over the top and uncalled for.

There are a number of ways she could have responded or she could have chosen not to respond. Instead, she chose anger and vitriol. I didn’t reply back. Instead, I deleted her number and closed our match on Bumble.

You may be wondering why did I follow-up in the first place? Truth be told, I wondered that too. It was clear from the abrupt cancellation with no suggestion or hint of rescheduling that this would be the end of the road. Moreover, given the harsh and rude reply I received from my follow-up, was it worth it to follow-up at all? Truth is, I wondered this too. After thinking it over, the answer (for me at least) is an unequivocal yes.

I followed up for a couple of reasons. First, ignoring her would reinforce a cycle of ignoring, which I’m not a fan of. I’ve had dates “ghost,” which is the popular term, from last minute cancellations to dates that don’t simply show up with no explanation, rhyme, or reason. Second, I wanted to point out the ghosting without being harsh, mean or judgmental. A knee-jerk reaction might be to call the person out but that is exactly the type of reaction that contributes to people ghosting in the first place. I get it, dating is haphazard, frenetic and in many ways, depersonalized with all of these apps, swipes and attention-deficit messages. Women, in particular, have to be wary and extra cautious in these dangerous and uncertain times. However, ghosting or dropping off is not the answer and yet, it’s becoming all too common.

I also believe our actions and choices in small situations impact who we draw into our lives and sets the tone for how we handle the bigger issues that life throws at us.

Finally, I’m hopeful that I can find a great relationship, one that has meaning, substance, and one that is strong enough to weather life’s ups and downs. That starts with being present and mindful in how we communicate and treat one another.

For some great insight on ghosting in the workplace, check out Alissa Carpenter’s podcast

Part 2: My favorite book writing tools

[NOTE: the books mentioned in this episode are out of print. For more, check out episode 388.]

Let’s get into the writer's tool kit. We’ve talked a lot about tactics and strategies for writing so today, I want to lay out three important tools I’ve used to write books.

Audio recording

Since I co-authored this book, I used Skype and the plugin Ecamm to record a series of convos with my co-writer over three months; close to 70 recordings. If you’re a solo writer, you can use a voice notes app. If you’re co-writing, Skype now has a native recording feature, built-in.

Zoom is also an excellent alternative that allows users to record video or audio conversations. [Note: as of 2022, all conversations, including one-on-one, are limited to 40 minutes on the free version].

First written draft and book compiling

Scrivener (available for Mac, PC, IOS): this is what I used to write our second draft. It’s a book writing program that auto formats for self-publishing on Amazon’s KDP and other platforms. It’s a great tool with rich features that allow co-writers to collaborate through Dropbox. The only limitation I didn’t like was that we couldn’t write at the same time but as I covered last week, we used this to our advantage in creating a writing schedule. Scrivener has a bit of a learning curve but I’ve been a fan since 2017 and have talked to many authors who use it as their go to. If you’re interested in Scrivener, you can use the coupon code MOVINGFORWARD to get 20% off your purchase. It’s a one-time license fee and available for Mac, PC, and IOS.

Editing and rewrites

OneDrive and Word online: Scrivener is fantastic for drafting but we discovered not as great for editing. Our editor is very hands-on and likes to add notes, mark-ups, highlighting, and use track changes; all staples on Word. Scrivener has some of these features but not as many as Word and not nearly as versatile. For the editing stage, we converted the chapters into individual Word docs, uploaded them to a OneDrive folder. and used Word for the real-time editing and rewrite process. Track changes was especially helpful with three cooks in the kitchen. You can sign up for a free OneDrive account and use Office online for free. To use track changes, you’ll need to purchase a software version of Word or subscribe to Office 365.


Try out different writing tools. There are many out there. Find one (or several) that work well for you (and your co-writer, if applicable) and stick with it.

Note: this section contains affiliate links and coupon codes for which the author may receive some compensation.

[NOTE: the books mentioned in this episode and in the book writing series are out of print. I am leaving these episodes mostly as is and strictly for informational and instructional purposes only. I have retracted my story from the book discussed in this episode and its sequel with full reservation of my copyright. For more, check out episode 388.]

Part 3: What I’m reading / read:

Unexampled Courage: The Blinding of Sgt. Isaac Woodard and the awakening of Harry S. Truman and Judge J. Waries Wating by Richard Gergel (****1/2). A haunting account of the beating of Isaac Woodard, an African-American WWII veteran, that occurred while he was traveling through South Carolina after returning from the war, which left him permanently blind. This event shocked the nation and in particular, impacted two other individuals, President Harry S. Truman, and Judge Waties Waring, which led to seismic shifts in governmental policy and law. This is an incredible story and as a former history major, I’m surprised I was not aware of Woodard or Waring and the important roles they played in the early days of the civil rights movement. This book should be required reading in high schools, colleges, and law schools. Powerful, gripping, and sobering – its lessons are ones we’re still grappling with today.

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