Archive for category Successes
As most of you will be aware by now, I am very interested in e-publishing and have been building my own e-publishing empire(!) for the last twelve months. I’ve picked up a lot of knowledge along the way and have also had many people say to me that they wished they were ‘technical’ enough to do the same.
A couple of months ago Helen Yendall asked if I would talk about e-books and e-publishing to the writing class that she tutors at Moreton-in-Marsh. Whilst sorting out what I might say, quaking in my boots and being glad that I made the effort to join Sutton Coldfield Speakers’ Club, I realised that I had enough material to write a short e-book for beginners who want to publish their first e-book via Amazon KDP.
And so Kindle Direct Publishing for Absolute Beginners was born.
It starts with the definition of an e-book and moves on through topics such as choosing what to write (if you don’t have a manuscript ‘ready to go’), how to get your book cover, basic marketing and much much more.
Once I’d finished, I followed my own advice and found a beta reader who matched my target audience i.e. a writer who is contemplating e-publishing for the first time. Peter Hinchliffe is an ex-journalist and news editor who has also completed a novel. He gave my manuscript a big thumbs up and said in his review, “This book shares the skills needed in a detailed, easy-to-follow way. It could be the most rewarding book you ever buy.”
The launch of Kindle Direct Publishing for Absolute Beginners took place yesterday, following my talk to the lovely writers of Moreton-in-Marsh. There was Bucks Fizz, chocolate cake, coffee and one of the writers celebrated her new grandchild by providing cream cakes for the class – so no one went home hungry! It was really nice to be able to involve other people in the launch instead of doing everything virtually.
So, if you’ve ever fancied seeing your work for sale on Amazon, go and take a look at Kindle Direct Publishing for Absolute Beginners – it might help you on your way!
Last week I made two ‘performances’. Firstly, I made my first prepared speech at Sutton Coldfield Speakers’ Club and then, as a shortlisted contender in the Winnie the Pooh Laureate Competition, I read my children’s short story out loud on the telephone for final judging.
Speakers’ Club. Prepared speeches are usually between six and eight minutes long and the subject matter should suit the theme of the evening – the exception being first speeches when the advice is to talk about something you know well. So I veered off the evening’s topic of ‘Love & Romance’ and talked about my hobby of church bell-ringing instead (exciting stuff I hear you say!).
I spoke for 7 minutes 40 seconds (everything is timed with a stopwatch) and the speech was then evaluated by another club member. This is a bit like giving feedback at a writers’ group when work is read aloud. My evaluator was very kind and full of praise but also had some useful advice – I’d positioned myself to one side of the lectern and that meant that half the audience couldn’t see me properly and also the majority of my eye contact was down one side of the room. So some good advice to take away.
My next speech is in around six weeks and the evening has the theme of ‘Springtime’. At the moment I haven’t a clue what to talk about – all that comes to mind is cute lambs, chicks and rabbits. Anyone got any ideas?
Winnie the Pooh. I dialled into the conference call at the appointed time, only to find a lovely Scottish lady in full flow. I sat very quietly whilst she finished a wonderful story about Pooh visiting a park in Glasgow, complete with different voices for all the characters.
Then it was my turn to read my story, ‘Winnie the Pooh and the Birmingham Iron Man’ – needless to say I didn’t do any special voices. The judges made some polite comments and said they’d let me know.
So now, like an actress after an audition – I’m waiting to hear from them …
A couple of weeks ago I told you about a Guest Posting contest organised by Nick Daws.
Well, I took my own advice, entered – and won!
My guest post was about the benefits of writing a fiction e-book series and some tips on how to go about it. The post is now available to read in full on Nick’s blog.
And I’d like to congratulate Sharon Boothroyd, who is a follower of this blog, she also entered and was one of the runners-up. Her post too will appear on Nick’s high-traffic blog.
The Page is Printed Creative Writing Prize
Now here’s an unusual writing competition based around a single A4 page. The website says:
“Submissions are invited in any genre, it could be a love letter, a short story, a poem, a court summons or a shopping list … the only rule is that your entry must be contained on one side of A4.”
Closing date is 1st may 2014. There are first, second and third prizes of £200, £100 and £50. Entry fee is £4 or three for £10.
Full details can be found here.
I hit the NaNoWriMo target on 25th November – I had planned to write 2,000 words per day and, amazingly, I managed to stick to it.
Now the not so good bit. As soon as I hit 50,000 words I abandoned my routine. I had planned to keep going all the way to November 30th and thus amass 60,000 words. But once I knew I’d done enough to be a NaNo winner, I could no longer drag myself out of bed at 6:15 am to write 1,000 words before breakfast.
So now I’m gearing myself up to write the last little bit of the story, and then it’s the scary part – reading back through it all and discovering it’s all mumbo jumbo!
And if you’re looking for a new project now that NaNo is over:
Nottingham Writers’ Club are holding their first National Short Story Competition. The winner gets £200 and there are 15 prizes in total. ‘Emotion’ is the theme of the competition and the word limit is 2,000.
Entries can only be submitted between 1st and 31st January 2014 and, “All entrants must be non-professional writers. For the purpose of this competition, we define ‘non-professional’ as a writer who has earned less than £500 from short story writing during 2013”.
Request an entry form and further details here.
Finally, a quick shout out for Alison May. Alison is a fellow member of the Birmingham Chapter of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and has just had her debut novel published via Choc Lit Lite.
It’s titled ‘Much Ado About Sweet Nothing’ and is available initially in e-book format.
I’ve a few ‘writerly’ things to impart this week:
Amazon Tax Form
Those of you with e-books for sale on Amazon will have received a request to complete an on-line tax ‘interview’ or risk having your books removed from the website. I was a bit concerned when I saw this, in case I had to go through the palaver of getting a US tax exemption certificate. But the ‘interview’ was very easy and quick to complete and no certificates were needed. The benefit of the tax exemption certificate is that it stops Amazon withholding 30% of the royalties on US sales but the downside is it necessitates a trip to London to get ID validated – not worth it financially for me because the vast majority of my sales are in the UK.
If you want more information on this, have a look at Nick Daws’ blog.
By the way, I wonder if the UK government withholds money from US citizens? I doubt it somehow.
A Good Review
Talking of e-books. Brian David, from the CheerReader website, has sung the praises of ‘A Writer on Writing – Advice to Make You a Success!’ on his site’s homepage (scroll down this page to see the review). He describes it as:
‘a superb little tome that gives you all the hints and advice you need to make your writing as good as you want it to be’.
Win a Toothbrush
Last Monday I picked up the Metro newspaper (free on some public transport) on a train to Milton Keynes and spotted the Rush-hour Crush competition. Just write a few words about that dishy man/woman you’ve spotted on the bus/train/tube and you could win a Sonicare HealthyWhite electric toothbrush. There’s a prize each day but you’ll have to be quick, the competition ends on 13th September 2013. Entry is by an electronic form here.
Finally, I had a phone call this week to tell me that I’ve won the Friends of Morley Literature Festival Short Story competition, judged by Gervase Phinn. The story was originally written for last year’s Jeremy Mogford Prize for Food and Drink Writing competition and it came nowhere. But now it’s won me £50 so I’m chuffed to bits! (By the way, I also won this competition in 2011 so maybe I shouldn’t enter next year …)
I’m just back from walking the Cleveland Way (109 miles in 10 gloriously sunny days) and am now chasing my tail trying to catch up on everything!
Just before I left I had an acceptance from My Weekly. It was for a story I subbed in October 2011 – so never think your story has fallen into a black hole if you get no response!
Also, those lovely people at Readers’ Favourite have reviewed my non-fiction book A Writer on Writing – Advice to Make You A Success. They’ve given it a whopping 5 stars (and I promise, no money changed hands!). Read the review here.
Finally, today is Sally Quilford’s 50th birthday and there are lots of exciting things happening on her blog, including e-book giveaways and a massive prize draw. I’ve joined in the fun and one of Sally’s giveaways is my e-book, Maxine’s Story – The Museum of Fractured Lives. It’s free for today only (11th August) and you can get it directly via Amazon or why not pop over to Sally’s blog and check out all the other goodies too? Her prize draw closes on Friday 16th August but many of the e-book freebies are only valid today.
By the way, if you’re looking for an escapist easy read, take a look at Carole Matthews’ new book, Calling Mrs Christmas. I received a review copy via Carole’s newsletter and it was perfect holiday reading. It took me from the misery of a suicide attempt in a young offenders’ institution to the splendour of Lapland’s famous Ice Hotel. And it was all tied together with a little bit of love …
Maxine’s Story is the first in The Museum of Fractured Lives series.
The café in the Museum of Fractured Lives is a place for sharing secrets and exploring painful memories.
Several years ago, Maxine and Kaspar experienced the turbo-charged emotions of teenage romance. But the consequences of their relationship cast a long shadow into Maxine’s adulthood and now she is about to reveal something that she has never told a soul …
The Museum of Fractured Lives displays objects donated by people who have suffered a trauma in their lives. The objects are a symbol of that trauma. When accepting a donation, the museum employees try to obtain the full story behind the object. This is difficult because many of the donors are very emotional.
Each book in The Museum of Fractured Lives series tells the story of one donated object and the person who has given it.
This is a ‘flash’ novella of approximately 8,500 words and it is FREE today and tomorrow (16th and 17th July).
The first 3,000 words of Maxine’s Story were professionally critiqued as part of my annual subscription to Freelance Market News. Here are is an extract:
“A thoroughly compelling read, which flows effectively from start to finish. I don’t see how you could improve it.”
Please take advantage of the free offer and, if you enjoy it, as always, I’d be extremely grateful for an Amazon review – these reviews are like gold dust to authors.
Also, if there’s anyone out there who hasn’t read One Day For Me yet – that’s free at the moment too.
A selection of 8 short stories that have all won or been shortlisted in UK writing competitions.
Happy Reading (and reviewing)!
Firstly, I’ve had some extremely positive feedback from Dorinda Cass on her short story critique, which I supplied as a prize a week ago on this blog.
She told me, “Your critique was helpful and insightful. I have no qualms in recommending your critique service to others.”
Therefore I am pleased to announce that the First Impressions Critique Service is now open for business.
The cost is £10.00 for a critique of a story or piece of non-fiction up to 2,000 words in length. Full details of what’s included can be found on my First Impressions Critique Service page. Why not pop over and have a look?
Secondly, The Writer’s Coffee Shop is currently open for submissions. This is an independent publisher based in New South Wales in Australia and it is also the publisher that first released Fifty Shades of Grey as e-books and print-on-demand paperbacks. I thought that EL James had initially self-published the e-books but according to her website, this was not the case.
The Writer’s Coffee Shop is currently looking for stories between 20,000 and 30,000 words (a good stepping stone from short story to novel?). The stories must fall into the genres of either romance or erotica. Stories can be emailed and full details are here.
Finally, I’ve had a couple of nice surprises in the past week. I was shortlisted in the Writers’ News ‘Pride and Prejudice’ Short Story Competition – I was pleased about this since I’d gone to the trouble of reading the book (for the first time) especially so that I could enter the competition.
And today I heard that I’d won a £25 Tesco gift card for leaving a comment on Hire Bloggers Facebook page. Hire Bloggers is a new undertaking that aims to match bloggers to businesses for paid work. Wouldn’t it be nice to earn money from blogging?
So choose your favourite caffeine fix – latte, cappuccino, mocha ….
And which cake do you fancy? Lemon drizzle, chocolate fudge or fruit cake?
If you’re sitting comfortably, then I’ll begin.
Or I would if this was a ‘real’ instead of a virtual book launch. Then I could have the pleasure of meeting you all in the flesh and thanking you for all the support and positive comments about my first e-anthology. Plus I could read you one or two stories from the newly released Old Friends.
Instead I’ll just tell you about my second book and then you can visit Amazon and ‘Look Inside’ or download the sample to get a real flavour of it…
Old Friends contains 13 short stories that have previously appeared in My Weekly, People’s Friend and The Weekly News. I’ve included tales with a twist, stories about the ups and downs of family life plus, of course, a little romance.
I hope this collection will bring a little escapism to your coffee break!
Or find it on all other Amazon sites by searching for ASIN B00BJIKIBI.
I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed putting it together.