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Friday, May 29, 2009

2009 Writer's Digest Best Websites List Published

As you may know, every year the top US writing magazine Writer's Digest publishes its list of the Top 101 Websites for Writers, as voted for by its readers.

The 2009 list has just been published, and I was delighted to see that my forum at was included - the third successive year it has been on the list.

There are some changes in the 2009 list compared with previous years. For one thing, the websites have been divided into categories, as follows:
  • Agent Blogs
  • Writing Communities
  • Publishing Resources
  • Jobs and Markets
  • Creativity and Challenges
  • Genres/Niches
  • General Resources
  • Fun for Writers
As a side thought, I find it slightly surprising that there is a section for agent blogs, but not one for blogs by writers or editors (of which there are some excellent examples). I also wonder whether non-writing-specific sites such as Twitter should really be on the list, useful though this service undoubtedly is.

Nevertheless, I strongly recommend spending a little time exploring the Writer's Digest 101 Websites List for 2009, as there are lots of great resources listed there. If you're anything like me, some you will know already, but others will be new to you. I've already found several such sites to add to my Favorites list!

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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Special Guest Author: Casey Quinn

Today, as previewed in this post, I'm very pleased to welcome to my blog the American poet Casey Quinn.

Casey is on a virtual book tour celebrating the publication of his first anthology Snapshots of Life from Salvatore Publishing. You can read a poem from the anthology in this blog post from last week.

Without further ado, then, let's get the interview rolling...

ND: Welcome to my blog, Casey. Can you start by revealing when you first became interested in poetry writing?

CQ: My interest in poetry definitely expanded as I got older. I have always read a great deal since I was very young but mainly fiction, mostly short stories but also a good share of novels. I always appreciated poetry and read the classics growing up, but never dove in head first to really understand the beauty of poetry or see the strength of it.

If I had to put my finger on when 'the awakening' took place, I would say somewhere maybe five years ago or so. I think it was related to the time where I decided to try and lose weight by only drinking wine and cutting out all of the beer. Well, the beer commitment never really stuck, but the poetry world was opened and kept pulling me in. The next thing I knew I had stopped buying fiction and my bookshelf was filled with poetry. It sort of just happened.

Since 'the awakening' I always jotted down notes of lines, moments or simple observations into random sheets of paper and stored them away in a little marble notebook. The more I read poetry the more I realized how many flavors of poetry really exist, and I started to pick up tastes for what I liked and didn't, sort of how I figured out I like cabernet sauvignon a great deal more than merlot. You just keep doing something long enough; you really refine your tastes. I think once you have your tastes and tone you can become serious about writing poetry. Once I found a few poets that I admired and really just loved the words they wrote, their message, their style, it motivated to take my years of random notes and ideas and try to do something with them. From there, I began writing poetry.

ND: How did 'Snapshots of Life' come to be published? Was it difficult deciding which of your poems to include?

CQ: It really took a while for me to get comfortable with my poetry before I sent anything out, but once I met a few poets whose own work I respected and started to receive great feedback I got more confident in my word choice, my form and style. In the first few years I received a great number of rejections, but a few poems here and there snuck in to fuel my motivation.

After I had about thirty or forty poems published in different print or online journals and had written another two hundred or so poems, I wanted to try and just pick the poems I felt best defined my style of poetry and would work together as a group, and see if I could get the collection published. Every day I see something and I feel propelled to write it down. Could be simple and/or comical, could have a bigger meaning. Whatever it is, I see something and I want to share it with people. Selecting the poems was not too hard, as I belong to three or four pretty active forums where I post a good deal of my work for critiques, and had most of the poems I was going to include accepted already somewhere for publication. I felt pretty confident with a subset of the poems based on all of the feedback I had gotten. I had a good idea about which poems were total bombs and which ones had value. From there it was trying to pick the ones with the most value.

Right about the time I had my collection about ready to go it was toward the end of fall, early winter of last year, and I read a post on the greatest forum in the entire internet, also known as, about one of the members starting a publishing company and looking for submissions. I sent in the only query letter I wrote and Guy Cousins, the founder of Salvatore Publishing, responded and asked to see the collection. About six months later the book was released.

ND: Are there any particular poets whose work has influenced you? Do you have a favorite poet?

CQ: As part of the process of defining taste you will come across poets whose work you admire, whose every line teaches you something about how to write good poetry. Poets whose poems inspire you to write a poem and read their book over and over again just in case you can find another meaning, or just to appreciate the meaning you already took away the first time.

For me, these poets include Raymond Carver, e e cummings, Walt Whitman, Charles Bukowski, Allen Ginsberg, and many others whom I started to read after trying out a sample here and there of so many different styles. These people spoke to me the most, both in their presentation of the words and the messages they spoke.

My favorite poet has to be, hands down, John Yamrus. John writes and people relate. He could kill a big bug and spin it into a poem that is humorous and interesting. He could sit in his backyard and listen to his neighbors argue and find something poetic in the moment and write it in such a way that, as a reader, you feel the poetic moment as well.

I wrote a poem and posted it for a review on a forum and the feedback I received was that the style and tone reminded the reader of a poem that Yamrus would write. I won't lie, I really felt honored. To write something and have someone compare it to someone whom you admire sort of made my day.

ND: Have you any tips for my readers who want to improve their poetry writing?

CQ: Really, the best way to improve your writing is reading. I think everyone has a unique voice, which is what makes poetry so interesting to read. Two people can see the same exact thing yet write it out completely differently. Even two people who write in the same form and style will say it differently and present the words on the page differently. Poetry is unique to the individual, and that has to be the strength of the poet. Learn what your voice is and write in it.

After reading everything you can, write every day. Write about something that happened to you, something you saw on the news, anything. Just write a poem every day and be very specific about the event. There are enough poems out there about death, life, happiness, suicide, teen angst, hate, and every other vague, cliche word I can throw at you. Be specific and write it so the reader can live it. Don't write from the 10,000 foot level, but as if the reader was watching it happen.

Show feelings. If someone broke your heart, don't tell me they broke your heart. Write that the picture of the two of you on the counter is shattered and in the trash, and that your box of tissues is empty. I will get the point that your heart is broken. Reading good poetry you will just naturally pick up why it is considered good poetry - because it deals with specific moments in time and a specific event.

Listen to people whose own writing you respect and love. Everyone has their own style, and groups of people can write in similar styles. I have found people tend to critique poems trying to convert the poem to their own style rather than accepting it in the style it was written. Many poets believe their style is good and other styles should learn to be more like their style. Listen and work on improving your poems, but maintain your own voice. Listen to people whose own work you respect. Do not get defensive about your poems. When people critique a poem of yours, they are only critiquing the poem. They are not picking on you as a person or your writing in general. If someone does pick on you as a person or your style of poetry in general, just write 'thanks for your review' and ignore them. Don't get upset over feedback.

ND: What do you think about poetry writing contests? Do you ever enter them yourself?

CQ: I think money should flow to writers, therefore I am usually against poetry contests that charge an entry fee. I think poets do not make any money as it is, and really have only a few venues to make a name for themselves and, for me, poetry contests are not one of them. There are too many scams out there looking to make their money by taking advantage of writers. All contests generally end in an anthology or collection being created. The sponsor of the contest should make money by selling the books, not by the entry fees.

I will enter a poetry contest if I know the person running it or if I belong to an organization sponsoring it. I only do this to help the organization; I see it more as a donation then really participating in a poetry contest.

ND: As well as writing poetry, you also run an online magazine called Short Story Library and a publishing house called ReadMe Publishing. Could you tell me a bit more about both these ventures?

CQ: Short Story Library is now officially a one year old! I love to read short fiction and poetry, and in addition I write a good deal of short fiction and poetry. As I looked for venues online to submit work to, I realized that many sites were done poorly and decided to try and create a nice looking, professional magazine for people to display their work in. To be honest I had no idea of the amount of work it really takes to properly run a magazine.

We get about 25 submissions a week and only publish 3 or 4 items each week. It took a while for me to get used to the process of rejecting others and editing the writing of the ones I did accept. The first few months were a little rocky, but after about four months I really felt comfortable with my editor hat on and publisher hat on. We started out with a small number of subscribers, but now one year later we have over 2,000 readers each month, or about 500 a week for each issue we publish. My goal was to help short story writers and poets find an audience and I am pretty happy with the growth of the magazine. I think each week we put out quality writing and it shows in the loyalty of the readership.

ReadMe Publishing is a newer venture started at the end of last year, early this year. The more I got interested in publishing online, the more I realized that the printed word is what will last. I had a thought about one day loading up Short Story Library and the site was down. I would call the host and they would say there was an error and the database crashed. All the data is lost. It hit me that online, nothing lasts. Websites and blogs come and go, and when they go, so does the record of the publication ever existing. Only the printed words will remain. ReadMe Publishing was created really just to help more writers see their work in print and know that long after they leave this earth, their name will be in a book somewhere, maybe being read by someone.

ND: Finally, a question I like to ask all my visiting writers: What are your three favorite websites and why?

This is a tough question, as really so many websites out there have helped me improve as a writer, editor, and publisher. I think for me the site that has helped me learn the most about the writing world is the AbsoluteWrite forum. This place is filled with professional writers from all genres and styles. It includes bestselling authors, well-known poets and publishers with many titles in bookstores all over the world.

Number two on my list will be, of course, the MyWritersCircle website. I tend to not stray too far from the poetry section of the forum, but the feedback from the poets that reside on the site has been priceless. They are tough, honest and constant.

The third on the list has to be my own writing forum at Short Story Library. While not as big as AW or MWC, the Short Story Library folks have been around really since the beginning of the site and pop on to say 'Hi' and talk about general things in addition to writing. Many of the folks on the site have encouraged me over my time there with my writing and let me know when I have just written a piece of junk or when maybe there was potential. There is also just a great general feel to being home and knowing the folks on the site.

ND: Many thanks for answering my questions today in such detail, Casey - and thanks also for your enthusiastic testimonial on behalf of my forum at! I wish you every success with Snapshots of Life. I really enjoyed reading it.

CQ: Thanks, Nick, for the interview. It has been great, and best of luck with your own upcoming release from Salvatore Publishing.

Finally, just my customary reminder that Casey's book Snapshots of Life is available via the website of Salvatore Publishing. It's an entertaining and accessible read, and I'm very happy to recommend it to anyone who enjoys good modern poetry.

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Friday, May 22, 2009

Review: MyWriterTools

I was lucky enough recently to be sent a copy of myWriterTools, a new program designed to help writers create better documents.

In view of the name, I should perhaps start by clarifying that this is not a WCCL product (WCCL sponsor My Writing Blog and My Writers Circle, among other sites for writers).

myWriterTools operates as an add-in for Microsoft Word. It works with Word 2000, 2002, 2003 and 2007. Once it's installed, you can access all the functions it offers via a special toolbar.

In versions of Word prior to 2007, the myWriterTools toolbar shows up directly above the document and is visible all the time. In 2007 (which I use) you have to click on the Add-Ins tab; the toolbar then appears under this and you can access all its functions there. I actually rather like this, as it means the toolbar is hidden until you need it. Here's a screengrab with the drop-down tools menu activated...

So what does myWriterTools actually do? It's designed to help writers in a variety of ways. For example, it will help you fix common formatting problems (e.g. replacing all double spaces with a single space), find and replace incorrectly used words, make documents gender neutral, convert US to UK English (or vice versa), and so on. There are also tools to help you improve the readability of your work, e.g. by finding and fixing long words and sentences, and built-in style guides. Other features include:
  • lyRemover - finds and changes unnecessary adverbs ending in -ly
  • JargonBuster - finds and fixes commonly misused words and jargon
  • ClicheCleaver - finds and changes overused cliches
  • GenderBender - finds and replaces sexist language to make documents gender neutral
There is also a built-in back-up tool, which time stamps back-up files with your comments.

myWriterTools does not include generic spelling or grammar checkers, presumably because Word has these already. The program is really designed to extend the range of tools provided within Word and make them more specific to the needs of writers.

Overall, I was impressed with myWriterTools. It is much cheaper than similar products such as WhiteSmoke, while still offering a wide range of features. In fairness to WhiteSmoke, I should point out that their software (which I do also recommend) operates rather differently. It has its own built-in spelling and grammar-checkers and can be used with other text-based applications, including word processors, email programs, web-based forms, and so on. myWriterTools, as I said earlier, can only be used with Microsoft Word.

Nonetheless, if you're looking for help bringing your writing up to the highest possible standard - and you use Word, of course - myWriterTools is well worth the modest price being asked. There is also a slightly more expensive version for proofreaders and editors, offering additional features such as format tags and style sheets.

Incidentally, the latest addition to the myWriterTools product range is myWordCount (scroll down the myWriterTools homepage to see this product). This is a standalone program that will analyze your Word document for word and phrase usage and sentence length. It then produces sortable tables of counts for all words and phrases, and graphs sentence lengths. It looks like a useful tool for polishing your writing, and I'm planning on buying a copy myself (it's on offer for just $9.95 right now). I'll review it here soon.

Finally, just a small note of caution. Programs like myWriterTools and WhiteSmoke can save you time and help you to identify mistakes and weaknesses in your writing, but they are NOT a substitute for learning the rules of grammar and punctuation. My downloadable guide Essential English for Authors covers all the common problem areas, and will bring your written English up to a publishable standard in the shortest possible time.

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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

A Poem by Casey Quinn

As mentioned in this blog post, American poet Casey Quinn visits my blog next week to discuss his new anthology Snapshots of Life.

As a little trailer, I thought today - with Casey's permission - I would reproduce his poem My Niece (as published in Snapshots of Life). I hope you enjoy reading it.

my niece

i talked
to my niece

i had not
seen her
in years

i told her

how tall she got
how grown up she looked,
how smart she seemed.

she told me

how fat i got,
how old i look,
how dumb i am.

it's really great
to catch up
with the family.

As the would-be trendy uncle to two teenage nieces myself, I could really identify with this poem. Although my nieces are far too polite to say anything like that to me, I'm quite sure they must think it at times!

Check back on my blog on Tuesday 26 May to read my interview with Casey and find out more about his poetry and other writing interests, and what tips he has to offer for other aspiring poets. You can also order his book Snapshots of Life via Salvatore Publishing.

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Monday, May 18, 2009

Review: The Ultimate Podcasting Kit

The Ultimate Podcasting Kit is a new product from WCCL, who also publish my courses The Wealthy Writer, Write Any Book in Under 28 Days and Quick Cash Writing.

The Ultimate Podcasting Kit is written by Bob Ferris. I must admit Bob is a new name to me - as far I know this is his first WCCL production - but he clearly knows his stuff where podcasting is concerned.

The Ultimate Podcasting Kit is provided as an instant download in the universal PDF format. It is therefore suitable for all computing platforms: Microsoft Windows, Macintosh and Linux. The PDF files are password-protected, but that's only a minor inconvenience. Once you have opened them, you can print out all or any of the pages as you wish.

Like all WCCL products, The Ultimate Podcasting Kit is beautifully produced, and it has clearly been professionally designed and edited. The main manual (I'll get to the bonuses later) weighs in at a substantial but not overwhelming 114 pages. It takes you step by step through everything you need to know to create and publish your very first podcast.

Assuming no prior knowledge, The Ultimate Podcasting Kit starts by explaining what podcasts are and how to find and listen to other people's, before going on to discuss coming up with ideas for your own. The manual looks at the different options for creating podcasts before coming down firmly in favour of the open source (and therefore free) Audacity software. It explains how to record and edit your podcast using Audacity and how to publish it online.

Of course, there is no point creating a podcast unless you can get people to listen to it, so the last part of the main manual discusses how to publicize and promote your podcasts. Five chapters are devoted to this subject, so it's covered in considerable detail.

Three bonus reports are also included. Possibly the most useful is Get Audacious With Audacity. This is a step-by-step guide to using the Audacity software (for which a download link is provided). It's illustrated with plenty of screengrabs, and should be sufficient to get even a complete newbie up and running.

The other reports are Sizzling Interview Techniques and How to Produce Sensational Shows. These include lots of ideas and suggestions to help ensure that your podcasts attract (and keep) listeners.

Overall, I was very impressed with The Ultimate Podcasting Kit. Even by WCCL's high standards, I think it is one of their best products yet. If you want to create and promote your own high-quality podcasts, this kit - along with the free Audacity software - should provide everything you need to get started.

Do I have any criticisms? Not really. If I was being ultra-picky, I might like to have seen some mention of the latest Internet radio services such as Blog Talk Radio, which can help bloggers create their own online radio shows and save them as podcasts. Such services do not, however, give anywhere near the same quality you would get by following the methods set out in The Ultimate Podcasting Kit.

To sum up, if you are interested in podcasting - and more and more writers are using podcasts to help promote themselves and their work - and you want to do it to the highest possible standard, in my view The Ultimate Podcasting Kit would be the ideal guide and resource for you.

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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Danielle's Book Trailer Video

In my recent interview with Danielle Thorne, I mentioned that I had been impressed with the video trailer Danielle created to help promote her book The Privateer. Here's a copy of the video...

As ever, if you're receiving this post by email, you will need to visit my blog to see the video.

I asked Danielle how she made this video. Here is her reply:

Book videos are hot right now. Many people are actually paying to have them done, anywhere from $30 to hundreds. Even the big NY Publishers are putting out trailers for their new releases. Most authors, however, are doing their trailers themselves. It's easy, fun, and there is not always a big difference between one done for free and one paid for.

Everyone seems to agree that short, concise videos are the way to go. Too long and they get boring. Too dolled up and they're obnoxious. All one needs is a collection of copyright-free video or pictures, and music as well.

I am no genius when it comes to programming but I can handle basic, elementary ideas. For my book video (they say the phrase 'book trailer' has been copyrighted; I haven't checked this out), I used a program that came with my computer called Windows Movie Maker from Microsoft. This program was very easy to learn and navigate, and fun to experiment with. The basic requirement is uploading pictures from other files of your computer and then clicking and dragging them into sequences. Movie Maker tells you what to do step by step. I never had to look up a tutorial.

The hardest thing I found with Movie Maker was setting the sound up with the trailer once I had the pictures in sequences. This takes some tinkering with and plenty of patience, but once again, diving in to the program and testing its features is the best teacher.

I'm aware that there are many other programs being used to create book videos. For me, the basic programs on my computer worked just as well. It's definitely a matter of creativity and clever advertising over financial investment in this case.

Thanks again to Danielle for generously sharing her knowledge and experience. In my view, if you have a book (or e-book) yourself, it's well worth thinking about following Danielle's example and producing a video trailer for it.


Monday, May 11, 2009

Win a Book Contest

It must be competitions season at the moment. Here's another one I heard about recently...

This contest is being run by fReado, the free promotional service for authors, in association with author Phyllis Zimbler Miller. The prizes are copies of Phyllis's book Mrs Lieutenant, which you can preview free on the fReado site. I've also posted an image link to the book's page below:

There are actually three separate contests. The first is for readers, and requires you to recommend BookBuzzr (fReado's promotional widget for authors) to two authors on Twitter, who must upload at least one book or excerpt each. Two winners will be drawn at random from all eligible entries. It strikes me that this category may not attract a lot of entries.

Two authors can also win a copy of Phyllis's book in a random drawing. To participate, you must upload at least one book or excerpt using BookBuzzr, and tweet a message about it. This is a good chance to try out the BookBuzzr widget for yourself, and if you have a book (or e-book) on sale, I'd recommend giving it serious consideration.

Finally, for the bloggers among you, the best blog review of BookBuzzr and fReado will win a copy of the book. The blog reviews will be judged by Vikram (CEO of fReado) and Phyllis. To participate, your review must be a minimum of 300 words published on the internet, and again you must tweet a link to it.

The contest is open until May 25, 2009. For full details, please visit this page of the fReado site.

Obviously, this contest is designed to promote fReado and BookBuzzr and bring them to a wider readership. That's no bad thing, however. The service offers a unique (and free) way to publicize your book across blogs and social networking sites. If you've written a book and want to promote it online, it's well worth checking out.

* I plan to use fReado to help promote a new book of my own soon, and I'll aim to publish a more detailed review of the service at that time.

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Friday, May 08, 2009

$500 Flash Fiction Contest

Short story writing contests are always popular, so here's a good one you may want to check out.

The e-book publishing service Smashwords, in association with the Editor Unleashed blog and community, is running a flash-fiction writing contest for stories of up to 1000 words on any subject.

There's a top prize of $500 for the winner, plus 39 runner-up prizes of $25. The top 40 stories will also be published in an e-book anthology, and their authors will get free links/publicity via the contest sponsors.

The best news is that there is no entry fee, and the contest is open to anyone in the world.

Submissions are open from May 18 until June 14, 2009. To enter, you have to post your story on the Editor Unleashed forum. Stories will then be ranked by members of the forum, and the 40 winners will be announced on June 30, 2009.

For more information, see this post on the Smashwords blog or this one at Editor Unleashed.

Good luck!

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Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Special Guest: Danielle Thorne

As previewed in this post, I am delighted today to welcome romantic/historical novelist Danielle Thorne to my blog.

Danielle is visiting as part of a Virtual Book Tour to celebrate the publication of her novel THE PRIVATEER.

Without further ado, then, let's get on with the interview...

* * *

ND: Welcome to my blog, Danielle. Could you start by telling me how you first got into writing. What was your first published book or story?

DT: I was born with stories in my head. I won a national Honorable Mention for poetry with Scholastic in Junior High and went on to pursue poetry and then later freelancing. As a young mother I completed two manuscripts and almost had one published but it fell through. Sadly, it took a tragic car accident that almost took one of my parents to make me accept how unpredictable life is. Since then, I've researched and completed three novels of different genres in the last three years. Two are set to be released this year as an e-book and print; the third is under consideration with a New York publisher at this time.

ND: The Privateer is based in 18th Century England, but you actually live near Atlanta, Georgia. What made you choose to write about this period and setting, and how did you go about researching it?

DT: By the time I reached my thirties I didn't think there was anything left to capture my imagination! Then the film 'Master and Commander' debuted and I fell instantly in love with the Age of Sail. Patrick O'Brian is a master storyteller and I have read all of his series, and other seafaring authors, too.

Sea fiction teaches you that naval officers could be either good or bad; they didn't all fall into one category. Of course, this would apply to pirates, too. I love what Disney did with 'Pirates of the Caribbean'; they took a despicable lot of greedy, bloodthirsty criminals and made one very human. In essence, they made the act of piracy gray: Who were these men? Were they all bad guys? What were their back stories?

THE PRIVATEER is my take. It's about a man forced into piracy at a young age. He uses his intellect and ambition to escape the fate that awaited those pirates who were caught. With his pardon and years of swashbuckling experience, my character, Julius Bertrand, knows he can be of use to the British Navy and he determines to ascend society and become a success.

As we all know, nothing ever turns out as we plan it, so Bertrand has to deal with old enemies who put a bounty on his head to stop him from interfering in some nefarious plans involving diamonds.

The research was no chore. I've always loved history and dabble in UK genealogy. Besides buying books about the era and using the Internet, I spent long hours in the downtown Memphis Library reading reference books and documents from the West Indies. I probably have more pages of notes and copies filed then there are pages of THE PRIVATEER. My favorite part of research, though, was a three-day cruise through the Caribbean. To actually stand at the rail and look out over the ocean and taste the salt in the wind...that brought it all to life for me.

ND: The Privateer is being published as an e-book. Is there any special reason you chose this format rather than conventional print publication?

DT: I actually spent several months pursuing a contract in New York and met with some positive responses. It's such an oversaturated market - when you look at how many authors are trying to get their foot in the door, you appreciate the positive feedback and opportunities.

Finding a publisher that wasn't specialized in just one area was difficult. THE PRIVATEER has a broad appeal - it falls into several genres: historical, adventure, and romantic, so after some close calls I decided to test the waters with e-publishing, since I was more familiar with the process. I started at the top and quickly got a contract with Awe-Struck Publishing. They publish historicals and romances, and were very receptive to the premise of THE PRIVATEER. Looking back, it's the best thing that could have happened. These past three years I have seen e-books explode onto the scene and I am committed 100% to helping e-publishing become as accepted and understood as reading in hard copy.

ND: Could you tell me a bit about your typical working day? Do you have any special writing routines or habits?

DT: I am still raising a family so my writing has to be juggled to fit a busy schedule. I write during school hours and mess around a bit in the late evening if I have things to do. However, when I am engrossed in writing a manuscript, it becomes all encompassing. There are many weeks of fast food and dirty laundry. I've been known to go up to 72 hours without sleep. As my experience grows, I am learning how to balance and organize better, so I look forward to being more productive in the future.

As far as habits, I can't do without index cards. I use them to plan, plot, take notes, you name it. My office is littered with them when they're not laid out on the floor in scene sequences. Another habit I have, and not a good one, is snacking in front of the computer screen when I get stuck on a scene. Bad idea, but putting sugar into my mouth seems to make my brain work better. THE PRIVATEER probably equates to somewhere in the neighborhood of fifteen pounds of chocolate. Me and the 3 Musketeers are very close.

ND: Are there any tips or advice you would like to pass on to other aspiring novelists?

DT: When you finish something, start something else. Every manuscript is a learning process and you do get better and better. Another tip is to be open-minded about negative feedback. Some, if not most of it, is well-meant and you need to learn the difference. When you start getting the same kind of comments about your story or style, it's time to be honest with yourself. You can't learn if you don't make mistakes.

ND: What other writing projects are you working on at the moment?

DT: Getting the word out on THE PRIVATEER takes up a lot of time but I enjoy getting to know readers and authors all over the world through blogs like this. On the creative horizon is a modern day sequel to THE PRIVATEER where one of Julius Bertrand's descendants discovers a missing diary and a shipwreck - keys to a hidden treasure. Think Goonies - but all grown up with a lot more romance and smarter adventure.

And then this coming August, my contemporary romance TURTLE SOUP will be released. TURTLE SOUP is a fun short-novel set between the island of St. Thomas in the Caribbean, the Georgia Aquarium, and a fictional bakery just down the street. I've posted an excerpt of TURTLE SOUP at my website:

ND: Finally, one question I always like to ask visitors to my blog: What are your three favorite websites, and why?

DT: For absolute crazy pirate fun, you have to check out Swansbrough Manor:

These folks give whole new meaning to the phrase getting in touch with your inner pirate. Every late summer, Mr. Swansbrough begins building his pirate ship as an ADDITION to his home in Central Georgia. The Black Pearl is completed by Halloween night and the whole family and community get involved incognito - swashbuckling around giving pirate tours as visitors come out of their Swansbrough Manor Cemetery...which is actually a private home and front yard. Last year they took donations and were able to buy a kiln for the art department of their elementary school. Everything went to charity, but these pirates put on a great cemetery and pirate show that is funded from out of their own pockets.

My second favorite website would have to be for research purposes. I found more information that I ever dreamed of about Regency England and Jane Austen at Jane Austen's World:

There are even articles on flora and fauna, not to mention the little quirky things no one ever thinks to write up essays on. They have a great search function and always provide up to date programming you can catch to enrich your research.

Last, for genealogical purposes: is great and I made incredible progress with a membership from them, but I always keep on my favorites list because I spend a lot of time there. The best thing about Family Search is simply that it is free. It provides free, no-membership access to the IGI (International Genealogical Index) and has a lot more information on how to get started on genealogy and find other resources. I don't just love the history of Sail, I love my own, too!

* * *

Thank you very much to Danielle for answering my questions in such fascinating detail - I now feel much more in touch with my own inner pirate!

If you enjoyed reading about THE PRIVATEER, do check out Danielle's website - and, if you think you might enjoy reading the book, consider paying the modest fee to download it from Awe-Struck Publishing.

By the way, while exploring Danielle's website, I noticed that she has created a nifty video trailer to help promote her book. I asked Danielle how she did this. She was kind enough to provide a detailed reply, but I'll save it for another time. Something else to look forward to!

I hope you've enjoyed hearing about Danielle and her book today, and that it may have inspired you to redouble your efforts to achieve your own writing goals.

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Tuesday, May 05, 2009

The Wealthy Writer FAQ

My new downloadable course The Wealthy Writer - co-written with Ruth Barringham - has been out for a few weeks now.

I'm getting great feedback from buyers (see this review and this blog comment, for example), but I'm also receiving quite a few questions. So I thought I'd publish my answers to the most frequently asked here...

1. What's the difference between The Wealthy Writer and Quick Cash Writing?

Quick Cash Writing is my guide to making money writing short items for (mainly) traditional publishing media. It covers writing articles, fillers, short stories, greeting card ideas, jokes and comedy sketches, and so on.

The Wealthy Writer, on the other hand, is entirely about making money writing for online markets, including blogging, e-book writing, online article writing, bidding on job auction sites, and so forth.

2. How long will The Wealthy Writer be available at its current discount price?

I don't know the answer to this, I'm afraid. Pricing is entirely in the hands of my publishers, The WCCL Network, and they could in theory decide to raise the price at any time. I'm not aware of any immediate plans to do so, but even so I wouldn't leave it too long if you're thinking of buying.

3. Who is the Wealthy Writer aimed at? Is it suitable for anyone?

The Wealthy Writer has been written primarily for writers who have some knowledge of the Internet and are taking their first steps in making money online from their writing skills. It's also suitable for people with more experience who are looking to bring their online earnings up to the next level.

The course does not assume any special knowledge of website building, programming, HTML, and so forth. If you're brand new to the Internet, however, it might not be 100% suitable for you until have a bit more experience of the online world.

4. I have a query about the ordering process. Whom can I ask?

My publishers, The WCCL Network, have a 24-hour customer support website at If you have any queries about ordering, raise a ticket there and one of their trained technicians will get back to you with an answer, normally within 24 hours. is also the place to go if you need technical support with the course, or encounter any problems downloading it.

5. Can you tell me who wrote which chapters?

The Wealthy Writer was a collaborative project between myself and Ruth Barringham. We both worked on every chapter.

I wrote the initial draft of some chapters where I had the greater knowledge or experience, e.g. blogging; and likewise for Ruth, who wrote the initial draft of the chapter on e-book publishing, for example. However, every chapter of the completed course contains input from both of us.

6. How do you recommend approaching the course - there's so much in it?!

It's true, The Wealthy Writer has a LOT of content. In retrospect, we could and perhaps should have produced a number of shorter guides and made more money out of them. However, we wanted to produce one comprehensive guide which covers all the main ways of making money as an online writer - and that is, I hope, what we ended up with.

As we say in the course, we recommend that you do NOT try to do everything covered in The Wealthy Writer at once. Rather, pick one or (at most) two areas and focus on them. Once these are up and running successfully, you can then think about applying some of the other methods described in the course.

7. How do I get the special bonuses you are offering?

The Wealthy Writer already includes a number of bonus items - see the main sales page for more info. However, as a special thank-you to people ordering via my web page, I'm offering two additional bonus items to people who order via my website only.

The bonuses concern the micro-blogging service Twitter, and together explain how writers can use Twitter to help boost their online earnings. Please see my web page for more details, including how to claim your extra bonuses from me. Basically, though, all you have to do is go to the sales site via my link, and send me an email to let me know once you have made your purchase. As soon as I have confirmed this, I will send you my bonus reports.

Finally, if you have any other queries about The Wealthy Writer, please post them below as Comments and I will do my very best to answer them. Alternatively, use the Contact Me form if you don't want your question (and my answer) to appear publicly.

I'm looking forward to hearing from you!

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Friday, May 01, 2009

Danielle and Casey: Coming Soon to My Writing Blog!

I am pleased to reveal that not one but two writers are visiting my blog this month, as part of their respective Virtual Book Tours (VBTs) to launch their latest titles.

On Wednesday 6 May, I will be joined by Danielle Thorne, who will be talking about her new historical romance The Privateer (available in e-book form from Awe-Struck Publishing).
The Privateer is based in 18th Century England, but Danielle actually lives near Atlanta, Georgia! I'll be asking what made her choose to write about this setting and period, and how she went about researching it. And, of course, I'll be getting her top tips and advice for other aspiring romantic/historical novelists.

On Tuesday 26 May, American poet Casey Quinn comes to my blog to discuss his first published volume of poetry, Snapshots of Life, from Salvatore Publishing (soon to publish a novella of my own, by the way).

Snapshots of Life is a collection of witty, humorous but above all accessible poems about everyday life, all presented with a wonderfully ironic slant. I'll also be publishing one of Casey's poems, My Niece, which as an uncle to two teenage nieces myself I could really identify with!

I'll be asking Casey how he got into poetry, and any tips he would like to pass on to other aspiring poets. I'm also planning to find out more about Short Story Library, his free weekly online magazine and writers' forum.

And, as usual, I'll be asking both my visitors to nominate their three favorite writing websites - though I'm pretty sure I already know one of the sites Casey is likely to include!

I'm really looking forward to hosting both these excellent writers on my blog, and hope you will enjoy learning more about them and their books too.

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