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

Bid for success as a novelist

Here's an interesting concept I came across the other day. A first-time author is publishing a collaborative thriller with help from the auction site eBay. The novel, to be titled Novel Twists, is being written one page at a time, one writer to a page. As each instalment is finished, the chance to create the next one is offered for auction. So far, 23 pages have been completed, with 227 to go.

The man behind Novel Twists is 31-year-old Phil McArthur, who got the idea while recovering from cancer. He isn't trying to make money for himself from the page auctions - everything generated this way goes to the charity Macmillan Cancer Support.

To find out more, and maybe bid for a page yourself, visit www.noveltwists.com. By the way, to reach the current auction, you will need to follow the link from the last page to have been completed.

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Thursday, May 25, 2006

There's the problem...

Here are a couple of sentences I saw in my newspaper this week. Can you see what's wrong with them?
There's two big glass towers, but they were built in the 1960s.

Her concerns (and there's not many) are for younger nurses.

Full marks if you noticed that in both these sentences, 'there' is followed by a singular verb rather than the correct plural. Correct versions would be:
There are two big glass towers, but they were built in the 1960s.

Her concerns (and there aren't many) are for younger nurses.

It's a mistake I've seen and heard a lot recently (it's a regular on TV news bulletins as well) and it sets my teeth on edge. I think it stems from a mistaken belief among otherwise educated people that in these sentences, the word 'there' is the singular subject, so it must always take a singular verb.

In fact, that's not the case. In this type of construction, 'there' is usually classified as a pronoun. According to the standard rule, when the pronoun 'there' precedes a verb such as be, seem, or appear, the verb agrees in number with the following grammatical subject: There is an Indian restaurant across the street. There are leaves on the driveway. There seems to be a fault in this radio. There appear to be several people who still haven't cast their vote.

In speech, people often disregard this rule and use a singular verb with a plural subject, especially when using the contraction there’s. But it IS still ungrammatical, and should be avoided in serious writing. It's easy enough to get right - just find the true subject of the sentence and ensure that the verb matches with it.

And if you're a national newspaper journalist or a BBC news reporter, I do hope you'll take note of this, to prevent me grinding my teeth down any further!

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Sunday, May 21, 2006

More about broadband...

I've had a few emails about my last posting, so I'd just like to mention that I do appreciate that not everyone has access to broadband Internet. In that case, of course, you will have to stick with dial-up until (as will surely be the case sooner or later) broadband becomes available to you.

But for the rest of you, here are two more reasons to upgrade to broadband I forget to mention before. First, you will have access to Internet telephony services such as Skype.

Skype is a free service. You simply download the free software from the website and follow the instructions to set up an account. You will also need a pair of headphones and a microphone, or alternatively you can buy a special handset (similar to an ordinary telephone) which plugs into your computer's USB socket.

With this set-up, you can then phone anyone in the world who also has a Skype account free of charge, and any other phone-user for a small cost. Internet telephony services also work on dial-up (sometimes), but the quality is much inferior.

My second extra reason for upgrading to broadband is that you can set up a home network. This enables two or more people to share an Internet connection, so that they can access the net independently at the same time. You can also (though if you're anything like me you may need a bit of help from an expert on this) set up a true network with shared folders and files - ideal if you live with another writer and collaborate on projects.

So, there you are - two more reasons for getting broadband, as if I hadn't given you enough already!

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Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Why Writers Need Broadband

To read this blog, of course, you need Internet access. But from feedback I have received, I know that quite a few of you are still using dial-up, or even going to the local library or Internet cafe.

If that's you, I think it's time to wake up and smell the coffee. Dial-up is now old technology. If you want to get the most from the Internet, you MUST have a broadband connection. Excuses like "I only use it occasionally" simply don't wash any more.

Here are just a few reasons why I think broadband is the way forward for writers...

1. With broadband, your connection is "always on". You get your e-mails any time your computer is switched on. That can make all the difference between getting a lucrative commission and losing it because you didn't reply in time.

2. A broadband connection won't tie up your phone line. Again, this could help you avoid missed opportunities because your phone is always engaged when a potential client rings.

3. Broadband is also much faster. Researching things on the net is far quicker and easier. Your productivity will be greater, and your earnings will rise accordingly.

4. Similarly, files download much, much quicker on broadband. If you ever buy e-books and courses (e.g. my own Quick Cash Writing) you will have much less time to wait before you can access your purchase.

5. Some Internet services simply don't work on dial-up. WCCL's new Internet radio station for writers called WritersFM is a case in point. As technology advances, more and more such services are likely to appear.

6. Without broadband, you are never likely to become fully confident and competent in using the Internet, and will only ever enjoy a fraction of the benefits that it has to offer.

At one time, I accept, cost might have been a factor preventing people signing up for broadband. Competition has brought prices tumbling down, however, and nowadays for all except the very lightest users, broadband is likely to be as cheap, or cheaper, than dial-up.

UK residents, for example, can take advantage of the latest offer of FREE broadband internet access from Talk Talk Telecom. All you have to do is sign up to their Talk 3 International landline service, which costs £9.99 a month and gives you unlimited anytime calls to UK landlines and inclusive international calls. You then get high-speed broadband Internet access thrown in free of charge. For more info on this, click on http://tinyurl.com/noeh4.

There are similar great deals on broadband in many other countries. And, as mentioned above, even if you do end up paying slightly more, this will be more than offset by the many additional benefits you will enjoy.

So there you are. No excuses. If you're a writer, you need broadband Internet access. See you on the high-speed information super-highway!

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Thursday, May 04, 2006

Oops!

A few people have e-mailed me recently to let me know that they ordered my "Write Any Book in Under 28 Days" CD course, but instead received another product called the UK Drivers Guide.

My publishers, WCCL, have confirmed that there was a mix-up at their distribution centre, and a few people were unfortunately sent the wrong CD. If that applies to you, therefore, please don't suffer in silence!

The best thing to do is go straight to WCCL's customer service website at www.myhelphub.com and raise a ticket there. My publishers will then arrange for the correct CD to be sent to you. Incidentally, if you are having any technical problems at all with my courses (or any other WCCL software), Myhelphub.com is the place to go for support.

Please accept my apologies on behalf of my publishers for any problems caused by this mix-up, which has now been sorted out. And if you would like more info about "Write Any Book in Under 28 Days", please visit www.writequickly.com.

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