Archive for category Resources

50 Word Story Competition

If the 50,000 word marathon of NaNoWriMo is too much for you, have a go at this 50 word story competition organised by Just Write.

It’s free to enter and an open theme but the story must be exactly 50 words – not as easy as it sounds!

There are prizes of books and ‘literary goodies’ plus the winner will be published on tyjustwrite.com.

Closing date is 30th November 2016 and entry is by email or post.

This competition could be a useful exercise in focusing the mind and creating an elevator pitch for your NaNoWriMo work-in-progress.

Also, there was a wordpress glitch when I published my last post and I don’t think notification emails were sent out. In case you missed it, it was 200 Powerful Words to Use Instead of Good .

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200 Powerful Words to Use Instead of Good

A couple of weeks ago I re-blogged a post from Kobo Writing Life giving 128 alternatives for the word ‘very’. Today, I have 200 alternatives for the word ‘good’ – so dip in and add some zing to your writing.

The infographic below is reproduced with the kind permission of http://custom-writing.org/blog.

200 Powerful Words to Use Instead of “Good” [Infographic]

 

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Creative Writing Prompts

This week’s post is prompted by a writing acquaintance who was asking for suggestions of websites that have good creative writing prompts.

Creative writing prompts are useful for those times when the ideas just won’t come. Using a prompt focuses the mind and encourages the words onto the paper. It doesn’t matter if the story then goes off at a tangent from the original prompt – the prompt has already done it’s job by starting the process.

There are various sites offering creative writing prompts. Here are a few to get you started:

Many writing competitions supply a prompt in the form of a subject or theme. These prompts have the added advantages of a ready market to which your story can be submitted and a deadline to work to.

My writing buddy, Helen Yendall, is currently running one such short story competition, it’s free to enter and only requires 100 words! It closes July 12th 2016. Why not have a go?

Do you have a favourite way of generating prompts and ideas?

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One Writer’s Journey

Every writer’s journey is different. Author Steve Wand is my guest today and he shares his path from adversity to publication, including resources he found useful. In the last paragraph he offers sensible and motivating advice – take it and you’ll immediately appear more professional.
Over to Steve:

Robert Schuller once said ‘good things are often birthed from adversity’. Steve Wand
This was the case with me when recurrence of my old spectre epilepsy resulted in me losing my job and driving licence. The event placed me at one of life’s crossroads forcing me to re-evaluate my options. A love of writing led me to consider proofreading and, upon completion of nine-month’s professional training, I formed Steve Wand Editorial, allowing me to work from home, providing editorial services. I was also able to resurrect an unfinished fiction project and, in October last year, I set out to complete what I’d begun in 2004.

Along with self-doubt as a writer, one reason I’d consigned the completed first draft of my novel – a children’s fantasy adventure – to the drawer was my frustration with the story’s clumsy opening. I’d no idea how to remedy this and allowed myself to become disheartened. I now had opportunity to re-assess the work. My ‘eureka moment’ was when I chose to cull the first four chapters and start the tale at the point where things become interesting. But what of the missing backstory? How could I include this without relying on hefty paragraphs of narration? Using the ‘show rather than tell’ rule I selected elements crucial to the tale and worked them into dialogue. For example, two scrapped chapters illustrating the protagonist’s school bully problem were replaced by eight lines of verbal interaction.
Solving the tricky opening gave me confidence and motivated me to redraft The Door to Caellfyon with a view to self-publishing it on CreateSpace and Kindle. The Door to Caellfyon
At this point my editorial training became invaluable, I knew the role outstanding book covers play in achieving sales so I elected to proofread the final copy myself and use my limited funds to buy professional artwork. For this I had just the chap in mind.
I emailed the remit to local graphic designer Stu Smith, along with sample text from scenes I considered would make for good cover art. Given the tight budget I think Stu did a terrific job. I received his completed artwork on Christmas day, at which point I was free to upload my novel. This proved to be a greater challenge than I anticipated. Sally helped here with her book Kindle Direct Publishing for Absolute Beginners. Rick Smith’s Createspace and Kindle Self-Publishing Masterclass was also helpful.
Having allowed self-doubt to deny me my ambition for so long I’d like to end here with a closing statement from my own recent blog-post Owning and Blowing Your Trumpet:
“ … as I begin 2016 with a sense of achievement and a feeling of excitement for the coming year I urge every aspiring writer who reads this to revisit your social media profiles and remove any trace of the word ‘wannabee’ or ‘aspiring’ and simply declare yourselves as writers. Make no mistake, this simple yet certain acknowledgement will serve as a powerful self-fulfilling prophecy and, in recognising yourselves as writers, writers you will be.”

Many thanks, Steve, for sharing your experience with us. It’s worth having a ‘look inside’ The Door to Caellfyon on Amazon and Steve’s website can be found at www.stevewandeditorial.co.uk

 

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Ordering CreateSpace Author Copies into the UK – Beware Incorrect VAT

One of the most exciting things about being an author is receiving a box full of brand new, pristine paperbacks. Author copies of Bedsit ThreeThis box of treasure represents the months or years of hard work needed to get from an ethereal idea to actual words down on paper in black and white.

Shortly after publishing the thriller Bedsit Three I ordered fifty author copies direct from CreateSpace in the US. They were delivered by UPS and left at a convenient local pick-up point because I was out at the time of delivery. The parcel arrived much quicker than I expected and I was impressed by the service.

Two months down the line I had sold over 2/3 of that original delivery and, with a book-signing event arranged with a local community group for the end of January, I decided to order more copies. This time things didn’t go so smoothly. Again I was out when UPS called but this time they left a note indicating that when they attempted a future second delivery I would have to pay £36.89 in taxes to the driver. Apparently this was the VAT charged on the parcel by HM Customs & Excise. I wasn’t expecting this and panicked, calculating it would mean increasing my prices by around 75p per book – thus making it harder to sell.

I phoned UPS and they said the charge couldn’t be avoided. I contacted CreateSpace and they said customs charges were up to each individual country.  Then I searched the internet and found this useful and reassuring CreateSpace forum post. It says that import VAT should not be charged on books coming into the UK and advises phoning the UPS Brokerage team on 01332 815514. I did this and was given a reference number to give to the driver when he attempted to deliver the parcel a second time. This reference number tells him not to impose the charge.

If this charge had been imposed on my first consignment I may well have paid it out of ignorance. So beware when ordering/receiving CreateSpace author copies into the UK!

Bedsit Three is “a psychological why dunnit reminiscent of Barbara Vine/ Ruth Rendell” – Amazon reviewer.

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Nottingham Writers’ Club National Short Story Competition 2016

Nottingham Writers’ Club have just launched their 2016 National Short Story Competition.

The theme is ‘Fire’ and to get you started the Club has brainstormed a few ideas. Do any of the following inspire you to get writing?

Bonfire, house fire, barbeque, candle flames, fireworks, firing a gun, canon fire, lightning, brush fire, wood burning stove, coal fire, garden fire, firing someone from work, rockets, St Elmo’s fire, execution by firing squad, burning crop fields, smoke signals, brazier, fire pit, roasting chestnuts on an open fire, volcanic eruption, gas explosion, dynamite, cowboy shoot out, food smoker, sauna, assassination …

I’m sure there’s loads more ‘Fire’ related things to be written about. Grab a pen and paper and have a think.

The important thing to remember about this competition is that its purpose is to encourage new and less experienced writers. So entrants must not have earned £300 or more from short story writing in 2015. If you fit that category then this is a competition worth entering because you won’t have to compete with the ‘professionals’.

There will be three main prizes – £200, £100 and £50 – plus five runners up prizes and all entrants will receive a few lines of feedback on their story. The entry fee is £5 and there is a limit of 2,000 words.

Novelist and short story writer, Patsy Collins will be judging the competition. Coincidentally, her latest book, Firestarter, involves a hunky fireman… Firestarter by Patsy Collins

The competition opens for submissions of entries on 1st February 2016, with the last day for receipt being 29th February 2016. (But don’t wait until February to start thinking about your story!)

 

If writing non-fiction is more up your street, you may find Alex Gazzola’s new e-book, 50 Mistakes Beginner Writers Make, useful. Alex, a writing tutor and journalist, takes you through 50 of the key errors new and aspiring writers may be making – and guides you towards putting them right. Worth a read if you want to write and sell magazine or newspaper articles. Mistakes Writers Make

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How to Write a Book Review

I recently heard the book blogger Kim Nash speak in Leicester and she gave her personal rules for writing book reviews. This is what she said:

  1. Be kind.
  2. Indicate how the book made you feel.
  3. If reviewing on your own blog or website, always include links within the review to where the book can be bought.
  4. Don’t review a book that you don’t like.
  5. Share the review on social media.

Points 1 and 4 might cause some of you to raise an eyebrow. But I agree with Kim. If the book is a full-length novel, someone has sweated blood for months, maybe even years, to write it and the last thing they need is a kick in the teeth from a reviewer. So, if you can’t write something kind then don’t write anything at all. Similarly, don’t choose to review a book in a genre that you don’t like because you won’t give it a fair chance. With the Amazon ‘Look Inside’ feature it’s easy to get an idea of whether a book is going to be to your taste before you buy. If you notice formatting issues within a book, it’s kinder and more helpful to contact the writer direct so that the problems can be corrected, rather than point them out in an Amazon review that will remain on the site permanently, even after the errors have been corrected.

Remember – when you review a book, especially by a newish indie author, you are treading on someone’s dreams.

Kim also works for the publisher Bookouture and she gave a tip about doing a cover reveal. Apparently the best time for doing these on social media is 4:45 pm – this is when you’ll catch most people. Announce in advance that you’ll be doing the reveal at this time and make sure that the book’s Amazon page is open to accept pre-orders at this time too. If the cover provokes a reader’s interest, you want him to be able to order it immediately rather than have chance to forget about it.

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Cover Reveal for ‘House Guests’

Let’s have a drum roll … followed by a few oohs and aahs from the audience. Here it is, the moment you’ve all been waiting for, the cover reveal for my third e-collection of short stories!

Put your hands together for the cover of House Guests and Other Stories!

House Guests and Other Stories

There are four different ways of obtaining an e-book cover:

  1. Design and create it yourself. Unless you’re a whizz at graphic design this can be very time-consuming. I give some advice on DIY (based on my own experience) in this guest post for the Writers’ Bureau.
  2. Use Amazon’s Kindle Cover Creator. This is very easy but the covers can’t be used on other e-book sales platforms and there’s a danger of them looking formulaic. I’ve written about this here.
  3. Use one of the cover designers on Fiverr.com. All services on Fiverr.com cost $5 plus a 50c processing fee (currently around £3.62). I’ve done this several times.
  4. Use a ‘proper’ bespoke cover designer. This will probably give you the best result but will also be significantly more expensive than the other options – meaning it will take longer to make a profit from e-books sales.

The cover for House Guests and Other Stories is from pro_ebookcovers, a designer on Fiverr.com. This designer worked differently to the others that I’ve used previously from the site. She asked for links to two e-books on Amazon with cover designs in a similar style to what I wanted (so I looked at short story collections that seemed to be selling well and had covers with a warm and friendly style). Then she asked me to choose a cover image from http://depositphotos.com (or I could’ve supplied my own). I chose something that I felt was vaguely applicable to the title story. The designer then downloaded the image and did the necessary fiddling to get it to the right dimensions and added the lettering.
I felt this way of working made things easier for both parties. I didn’t have to struggle to explain the type of image I wanted and the designer didn’t have to struggle to interpret my brief or spend time finding a suitable picture.
I recommend pro_ebookcovers and will use her again in the future.

So, back to House Guests and Other Stories. It’s a collection of fifteen short stories, many with a twist and most have appeared in either The Weekly News, My Weekly or People’s Friend. There’s also a couple of competition successes in there plus a special guest story by a prize-winning author!

I’ll reveal the guest author in a later post when I launch pre-orders for the book. I’ve never used pre-orders before and I’ve never had a guest author before so it’s exciting – watch this space!

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A Simple Tip for Finding a Literary Agent

Are you trawling through the Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook searching for suitable literary agents?

Here’s a simple tip that was given at a writers’ networking event I attended a few weeks ago:

Start at ‘Z’ and work backwards through the agents’ list in the Yearbook.

Apparently, agents at the end of the alphabet receive fewer submissions than those at the beginning, therefore you may have a better chance of being picked up by an agent with a name beginning with ‘X’, ‘Y’ or ‘Z’.

This is, of course, in addition to checking that the agent deals with your genre, is open to submissions etc. etc.

Maybe worth a try?

 

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BookLinker

A year ago I told you about GeoRiot, a service which creates universal Amazon and iTunes links. These universal links detect where visitors live and redirect them to their own national Amazon store. For example, a customer clicking on the link in the US will automatically get directed to Amazon.com and a customer in England will see the equivalent Amazon.co.uk page.

Using these universal links when promoting an e-book online gives both a professional image and a smoother customer journey in two ways:

  • There is no need to list different Amazon links for different countries
  • The customer always lands on the Amazon page where he or she can make an immediate purchase, without having to re-route themselves from Amazon.co.uk to Amazon.com or vice versa.

When GeoRiot first started it was essentially a free service, funded by taking a small percentage of Amazon affiliate earnings. However recently GeoRiot introduced a charge. The first 1,000 clicks per month are free and then the cost is $10 per 10,000 clicks. This charge doesn’t affect the very small user (I haven’t yet paid anything) but all users have to give their credit card details to GeoRiot.

But there is now an alternative which is always free and may suit indie authors better. BookLinker is also managed by GeoRiot but directed specifically at indie authors using Amazon (it will not convert iTunes links). Like GeoRiot, BookLinker provides statistics so that you can see how many clicks you are getting and from where in the world. BookLinker is more basic than GeoRiot but, for most writers, will do the job just as well. I intend to move over to it in the near future.

If you are an Amazon affiliate, both GeoRiot and BookLinker will allow you to include your affiliate code in the links.

There is more useful information about using BookLinker on Nick Daws’ blog, Entrepreneur Writer.

My original post, explaining how universal Amazon links work, is here.

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