Nick Daw's Writing Blog - Inside the writing world of Nick Daws
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Thursday, November 30, 2006

Free Christmas Cards!

With the festive season fast approaching, I thought you might be interested in this special offer from my associates VistaPrint.

For a limited period they are offering readers a pack of 10 Christmas cards in a range of designs free of charge, as a way of introducing you to their service (you can also order larger quantities at a substantial discount).

Not only that, you can upload your own photo to go on the card if you wish, and/or customize the message. This could be a great way of reminding writing clients about your services, or reminding distant friends and relatives what you look like! The only charge you will pay is a small amount for post and packing.

To find out more about this unique offer, please go to and click on the banner that appears. This should take you to the free offer page. If you go to the VistaPrint site directly, you will not see this offer advertised. By the way, the link will take you to Vistaprint's UK site, but they have sites serving many other countries as well (including the US, Canada, Australia, and so on). If you are not UK-based, once you get on to the Vistaprint page, just scroll down to see the links to their sites for other countries. However, I cannot promise that the same offer will be available on all of these.


Tuesday, November 28, 2006

An Online Interview

You might be interested to know that an email interview with me by Aneeta Sundararaj of the website How To Tell a Great Story has just been published on the site. You can read the interview by clicking on this link.

Among other things, you'll discover how I first realised that I wanted to be a writer, and the chain of events that led me to become a full-time freelance. You can also find out more about my popular courses Write Any Book in Under 28 Days and Quick Cash Writing. And you can read my top tips for storytellers!

Once you've read the interview, do take a little time to explore Aneeta's site as well. There is plenty of info on her top-selling e-book "How to Tell a Great Story", but there is lots of free information and advice as well. You can also sign up to Aneeta's free Great StoryTelling Network Newsletter on the site.


Saturday, November 25, 2006

New Quick Cash Writing Review

If you're still debating whether to buy my course Quick Cash Writing, you may be interested to read this brand new review by the respected Australian writer and editor Cheryl Wright.

Cheryl has produced a comprehensive and balanced review of my course, which is intended for people who want to start earning money from writing as soon as possible. She does make some small criticisms of the introductory module, which I accept and will be putting right as soon as possible. Overall, however, her impression is highly favourable. Here are her concluding remarks:

There was so much included in this book that I know I’ll use it as a reference over and over again. I took the plunge and printed the book (yes, all 185 pages!) and had it spirally bound for easy use.

Obviously I didn’t read the entire book in one sitting, but did spend almost four hours reading huge chunks of it. Not only does Daws tell us about specific markets for each QCW subject, he also gives explicit information on how to be successful with each – something most books simply don’t do.

There are a number of bonuses included with QCW, including software called ‘Inspire Me’ – which generates ideas. The bonuses alone are worth the cost of the book, which in my opinion is extremely low for what you get.

I highly recommend this book to anyone wanting to make money from their writing, whether it’s with quick markets or not. If you’ve never been published, this book will help you break in. If you are published, you’ll be presented with a plethora of ideas to boost your writing income in the shortest possible time.


Do check out the whole of Cheryl's review; and while you are there take a look around the rest of her large site, which is packed with useful resources and information for writers.


Tuesday, November 21, 2006

WCCL's Smart Writers Newsletter

In case you don't know, WCCL publish my courses Write Any Book in Under 28 Days and Quick Cash Writing. They also sponsor this blog and my forum at And they publish an ever-growing range of courses and other tools for writers.

Well, WCCL have just launched their very own twice-weekly email newsletter for writers. It's called Smart Writers and each issue includes how-to articles, new product links and free downloads.

The good news is that Smart Writers is free to subscribe. The even better news is that during the launch period they are giving away nearly $4,000 worth (their estimate) of writing books and software, just to attract more subscribers!

The launch offer is guaranteed to continue to the end of November only, so if you're interested in subscribing I strongly recommend visiting the Smart Writers website today. Full details of the current "Writers Giveaway" offer can be found there, along with a form where you can sign up for the newsletter and claim your freebies.

Happy writing!


Thursday, November 16, 2006

Birthday Blog

My friend and publisher Karl Moore pointed out to me recently that Mywritingblog is one year old this month. It's hard to believe that twelve months have gone by so quickly...

During that time I've had over 7500 visitors to the blog, and am currently averaging 40 a day. I've really enjoyed having this opportunity to share my thoughts on the world of writing, and am grateful to Karl and his company WCCL for setting up the blog on my behalf.

Thanks also to the many people who have come to visit Mywritingblog, in some cases leaving their comments as well. It's always great to get your feedback.

Here's to another great year ahead of blogging about writing!


Monday, November 13, 2006

Sean and the Vocative Comma

In the supermarket yesterday I saw a TV listings magazine with the strapline "Don't Marry Sean" near the bottom. I think it was referring to a character in a TV soap opera. What immediately struck me, however, was what a good example of the importance of the vocative comma this was. (And yes, I know this probably indicates that I should get out more often...)

For those who may not know, the vocative comma is the comma (or commas) required when someone is addressed directly by name or some other title in speech. The comma is required to offset the person's name in each case. Here are a few examples:

"What time is it, John?"
"You can't park there, mate."
"Excuse me, Sara, are you listening?"
"Philip, is that you?"

So if you wrote, "Don't marry, Sean" it would be an appeal to Sean not to wed. But if you wrote, "Don't marry Sean" the meaning would be quite different. In that case, you would be advising another person against tying the knot with the unfortunate Sean. As it happens, closer inspection of the magazine cover revealed that this was indeed the intended meaning - a young woman was clearly advising her friend in the illustration - so the non-comma version was quite correct.

Another of my favourite examples of why you need the vocative comma is, "What's on, Jane?" In this case, the speaker is asking Jane what's on (television, presumably). But if you drop the comma so it becomes, "What's on Jane?" then the implication is that something unpleasant or at least unexpected has found its way on to Jane, probably without her knowledge. So that little comma really does play a very important role!


Friday, November 10, 2006

Review: Write A Movie in a Month

Write a Movie in a Month is the title of the latest writing CD from my publishers, WCCL. I was lucky enough to get an early review copy, and I've become addicted to it. It's even inspired me to start work on a screenplay myself - and while I've written over 50 published books, that's something I've never tried before...

So here's my review of what I confidently predict will become one of WCCL's top-selling products for writers. Apologies in advance for the length of this post, but it is a BIG product, and I really do want to do it justice. Plus, as you'll see later, I'm throwing in a few extra bonus items for anyone who orders Write a Movie in a Month via one of my links.

Write a Movie in a Month is written by three people who have enjoyed considerable success in the screenwriting field: James Lamberg, Steven Wanamaker, and Mark Lewin. The main, 156-page manual is by the Los Angeles-based James Lamberg, who has written (and ghost-written) over fifty screenplays that have been produced both in the US and the UK.

James has a highly readable and motivational style that really does make you feel that writing a screenplay is something you CAN do in a month or less. At the heart of his method is the five-part W.R.I.T.E. formula. I won't give too much away about this, but it sets out five essential tasks that (in James's view) every aspiring screenwriter must complete.

The manual puts particular emphasis on getting to know the characters in your screenplay. James is a development executive with Movie Works (a literary development and production company), and he has developed a special framework to assist writers in creating rich and complex characters. The manual explains this framework in detail, and I found it a fascinating process. In my view this technique could be of great assistance to novelists and short story writers as well as screenwriters.

James's manual also covers formatting your screenplay and marketing it to agents and producers. He is not afraid to point out that this is a very competitive field, and new screenwriters are likely to experience their fair share of rejection. However, as an insider in the industry, he reveals a range of techniques and tactics you can use to greatly boost your chances of success. I especially enjoyed his advice about creating "the elevator pitch". For those who don't know, this is a pitch that is short enough to make to a top producer as you travel betweeen floors with them in an elevator, yet compelling enough to make them want to sign a contract with you there and then!

James's manual is just part of this course, however. Top US screenwriter Steven Wanamaker has contributed a 30-page guide to plotting your movie that again is packed with useful advice. The main manual includes advice on plotting as well, but Steven's guide gives you a slightly different perspective on this crucial task. His approach is a bit more structural, a bit less character-focused.

UK screenwriter Mark Lewin has contributed two items. The first is a guide to movie jargon - this is useful but perhaps not essential. However, his other item, Formatting Your Screenplay Like a Pro, definitely is! There is a particular way in which movie screenplays have to be written and presented, and this is one of the best explanations I have seen of it. Mark reveals how scenes are set out, when to use lower case and when to use block capitals, what size indents to use, how (and when) to write instructions to actors, and so on. I've printed out this guide and keep it beside me while I'm working on my own screenplay. Needless to say, as I'm a newcomer to this field, I refer to it often!

Another invaluable bonus item is "The Screenwriter's Little Black Book of Movie Industry Contacts". I'm not exactly sure who wrote this, but again it's crammed with essential information. You'll find lists here of agents in California, New York, other US states and the UK, along with producers and production companies. But it's much more than just a directory. You'll also find in-depth advice on submitting your screenplay, along with a model query letter you can adapt. There is also a list of reputable screenplay contests you can enter - these can be a great way for a new writer to break into the movie industry.

Finally, there are two other bonus items. One of them is a fully featured screenplay-writing program that will take much of the hard work out of formatting your script. Just to emphasise, this is the full program, not merely a demo or shareware version. And finally, they have managed to squeeze over 850 sample screenplays on to the CD - everything from Ace Ventura to Young Frankenstein (nothing beginning with Z, though!). As well as movie scripts, you will find over 200 TV scripts and treatments as well. Reading these scripts and comparing them with the actual movies is an eye-opening experience in itself.

Write a Movie in a Month is supplied on CD-ROM rather than as an instant download. There is a very good reason for this: so much has been packed into it, even with a fast DSL/broadband connection, it would take hours to download. That means you will have to wait to receive it in the mail, but WCCL say they will deliver anywhere in the world. The CD will run on any computer, including Macs and Linux.

Overall, if you want to break into the big-money world of screenplay writing, this CD would be hard to beat. It combines inspirational and motivational advice with all the practical tips, strategies and information you need to get your first screenplay "in the can" a month after buying the course.

As you can tell, Write a Movie in a Month gets my highest recommendation. OK, even at the discount launch price of $97 (around 50 UK pounds) it's a bit more expensive than my courses Write Any Book in Under 28 Days and Quick Cash Writing. But - as WCCL say in their advertising - that's no more than the price of a couple of nights in a flea-ridden motel. And even if your script only gets optioned by a studio, you can expect to earn that sum back a hundred times over. If it gets made, of course, the sky really is the limit...

But still, I appreciate that 97 bucks isn't exactly a tiny sum of money. So if you order via one of the links in this review, I'm going to throw in a few extra bonus items of my own for you...

1. I'll send you my unique report "How to Make Big Bucks Selling Your Movie Idea to Hollywood". The truth is that you don't HAVE to write a complete screenplay to make money in this field. In my report I'll show you how you could earn up to $20,000 USD or more just by selling a movie IDEA of maybe two or three sentences.

2. One thing that surprised me slightly is that the main manual doesn't say a great deal about writing a treatment. This is an intermediate stage which sets out your movie storyline in prose form. It's not essential to produce a treatment, but some writers find it useful as a blueprint to work from, and some movie-writing contests require them. So I'll also send you my original mini-report on writing a treatment.

3. And finally, you'll get download details for a little-known program that will help you outline your movie and produce a treatment "automatically" for you. This isn't free, but it's shareware, so you can download it and try it out free of charge before deciding if it's right for you.

If you'd like to get your hands on Write a Movie in a Month PLUS all my special bonuses, all you have to do is click on any of the links to Write a Movie in a Month in this review and place your order at the sales site on that visit. Once you've ordered, just forward a copy of the e-mail receipt showing your purchase to me at (change the -at- in this address to the usual @ symbol). Please title your email BONUS CLAIM. I will then send you instructions on how you can claim your free bonuses from me.

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Tuesday, November 07, 2006


Have you heard of AmazonShorts? No, it's not a new line in beachwear being promoted by the world's favourite Internet bookstore. Rather, it's a range of previously unpublished short stories and articles available from (not or others just yet) for a price of just 49 cents.

Amazon is inviting anyone with at least one book currently for sale on to apply for this scheme. Once accepted, you can submit as many short works (2,000 to 10,000 words) as you like for inclusion. In effect, Amazon are acting as the publishers of AmazonShorts, not just the retailers. As far as I can see, however, they don't actually pay any royalties on sales.

So why would any writer want to submit work to this programme? Well, here are some of the advantages, as listed on the Amazon Shorts FAQ page:

* Access a powerful marketing tool to promote an author's backlist in a new and meaningful way
* Create an author profile page with biography, photo, and complete backlist
* Maintain author's visibility between published projects
* Establish a more direct and frequent communication with readers
* Introduce readers to unfamiliar writers
* Provide a new outlet to sell short fiction and nonfiction

In addition, you can get paid (a small amount) each time someone you have referred to AmazonShorts buys one of your stories or articles, or someone else's. To achieve this, you first have to sign up as an Associate with Amazon. You can then put some special code provided by Amazon on your website, and every time someone clicks through from your site and buys something, you will get a percentage of the sale. I think the figure is around 5 per cent.

In theory I would be eligible for AmazonShorts, as I do have several books listed on (though not as many as at However, I am still thinking about whether to apply or not. The books I have on are a few years old, and in several cases I was paid on a fixed fee rather than a royalties basis, so there is no advantage to me in promoting them now. It might be fun to publish some of my short stories on the site, but financially I'm not sure if it would be a smart thing to do.

Don''t let me put you off applying, though. If you have titles for sale on you want to promote, AmazonShorts could be a great tool for doing this. And if you have some unpublished articles or short stories gathering virtual dust on your hard drive, it need not even involve much effort to get started.

Finally, if you don't have any books published on but you still fancy getting involved, it's worth noting that the online community Gather has a free contest where members can submit work for other members to read and vote on, with the best three items guaranteed publication as AmazonShorts. The contest is currently open for submissions, with voting by members starting on Friday December 1st. I am actually quite tempted to enter one of my stories in this contest rather than apply to Amazon directly, as the publicity benefits to me anyway could be greater from going down this route.


Monday, November 06, 2006

Review: Ebook Creation Secrets

This brand new e-book is by writer and e-book entrepreneur Louis Burleson. It sets out the system he uses to create e-books (or have them created for him) at maximum speed with very little effort on his part.

Ebook Creation Secrets is available as an instantly downloadable PDF file. At 189 pages it's quite a substantial volume. It covers the entire process of writing and selling an e-book, from generating ideas, through creating the entire product (the text of the e-book, graphics, website to sell it from, and so on). Finally, it goes into detail about selling and marketing your e-book online.

Louis's e-book is well written and informative, though the presentation is fairly basic and a few more illustrations might have been nice. Nevertheless, this is an excellent guide to e-book writing for profit, and should be enough to fill any writer with enthusiasm for getting his or her first e-book out on the web!

This product does bear some similarities with The 24-Hour E-book Writing System by Melanie Mendelson, which I reviewed on this blog back in August (click here to see this). Melanie's e-book provides a system for actually writing your e-book which is hard to beat, but Ebook Creation Secrets is much broader in scope. In particular, it goes into far more detail about how to publish your e-book, and how to market it.

Ebook Creation Secrets is also a lot cheaper than The 24-Hour E-Book Writing System. It's currently on offer for just 6.60 USD (around 4.50 UK pounds). However, the price goes up by 5 cents every hour, so it's worth moving quickly if you're interested in this!

Finally, as I noted in my review of The 24-Hour E-book Writing System, Ebook Creation Secrets is all about writing e-books, and it's important to understand that these are normally shorter than printed books. Also, the sort of e-books that sell best online are information products that help people achieve something specific. If you want to sell a novel or a non-fiction book, you really do need my course Write Any Book in Under 28 Days!

New - added Tuesday 7 Nov: The price of Ebook Creation Secrets is up to $7.95 now, but it's still a bargain in my opinion. And not just mine. Here's what someone who bought it via my link yesterday told me in his email: "I have now downloaded 'Ebook Creation Secrets' and have already spent some time perusing it. It seems to be a treasure-chest of relevant information..."