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Friday, February 26, 2010

New Prize Flash Fiction Contest

To celebrate the launch of my new WCCL writing guide The 10-Day E-Book, we're holding a prize flash fiction contest on my forum at

To enter, you have to submit a story of exactly 100 words, including three specified words. The contest will be judged by MWC's moderator team, and the closing date is Friday 5 March 2010.

The contest is free to enter, and the winner will receive a free copy of The 10-Day E-Book, my unique guide to devising, writing, editing, publishing and selling an e-book for profit.

For the full rules, including how to enter, please visit this forum topic. Note that this contest is for members of only, but it is very easy (and free) to join if you haven't already. Just click on Register near the top of the forum homepage and follow the on-screen instructions.

Good luck, and I look forward to reading your story!

Photo credit: Lost in Scotland on Flickr

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Thursday, February 25, 2010

The 10-Day E-Book - Now Available!

I'm excited to reveal that my brand new WCCL writing guide, The 10-Day E-book, is now available!

The 10-Day E-book is the project that occupied me for much of last year. It's a truly comprehensive, step-by-step guide to devising, writing, editing, publishing and selling e-books for profit.

The 10-Day E-book is founded on my experience as the author of dozens of e-books, e-courses, and so on, including Write Any Book in Under 28 Days and The Wealthy Writer (both also available from The WCCL Network).

It's the guide I would have liked when - not so many years ago - I was starting out in this field. As with all my writing courses, I've tried to make it as clear and easy to follow as possible, with plenty of screengrab illustrations to help clarify the points made.

If you complete the simple, practical steps I've set out in the manual, you will very soon have your own e-book, on a subject of your choice, selling online and making good money for you. After that, to keep boosting your income, all you need to do is wash, rinse and repeat!

The 10-Day E-book assumes no special knowledge. It's ideal for writers who are new to writing online, as well as those who have taken their first few steps (e.g. writing for article sites) and are now looking to boost their income further by creating and selling an e-book of their own.

For more information about The 10-Day E-book - and details of my unique special offer for anyone buying via my homepage - please click on any of the links in this post. As you'll see, I'm offering three valuable extra bonus reports to anyone buying via my homepage - plus an additional special bonus you'll have to visit my homepage to find out about for yourself. But I think it's safe to say you'll like it a lot!

Good luck, and happy e-book writing!

Wordcloud image courtesy of

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Monday, February 22, 2010

Single or Double Quotation Marks?

Quotation Marks
Whether to use single or double quotation marks is one of those questions that keeps on cropping up on my forum (most recently in this topic). So I thought I'd share my thoughts on the issue here.

Quotation marks (also called inverted commas) are, of course, used primarily to show direct speech:

"What shall we do now?" Mary asked.

Whether to use single or double quotation marks is a stylistic rather than a grammatical matter - some authors (and publishing houses) prefer one style, others the alternative. There is a slight tendency for US publishers to favour double quotes, UK publishers single ones, but you can find exceptions on both sides of the Atlantic.

My advice to writers would be as follows...

1. If you are writing for a particular publisher and they have a house style guide, use whatever style is recommended in that.

2. Otherwise, simply pick the style you are more comfortable with and use it consistently throughout your manuscript.

3. Use the other style for quotes within quotes. If you are using double marks normally, for example, use single marks for quotes within quotes:

"You said 'Nobody will have to pay' but I'm already out of pocket," John grumbled.

4. Don't use one style of quotation mark for one purpose, the other for something different (representing thoughts, for example). There is no grammatical basis for this, and it will make your work look amateurish. (See Representing Thoughts in Fiction for my views on this subject.)

5. Wherever possible try to avoid using "apologetic" quotation marks (like the ones in this sentence). Occasionally there is little alternative, but most of the time they are unnecessary or can be avoided by a more precise choice of words. Again, using a lot of apologetic quotation marks will make your writing look amateurish.

Any other comments or queries about quotation marks, please leave them as comments below!

Photo credit: Anniebee on Flickr

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Thursday, February 18, 2010

Join the "How to Win Contests" Facebook Group!

How to Win Contests
As mentioned in my last post, How to Win Contests is my WCCL guide to winning consumer contests, and especially contests that involve creating tie-breaker slogans.

Until recently, buyers of this course received a free monthly email newsletter called Winning Lines, which included updates to the course, new contest details, extra hints and tips, and so on.

However, I've decided to replace Winning Lines with a more interactive, Web 2.0, Facebook Group. And that's why I want to make readers of this blog a very special offer...

Normally the Group will be open to buyers of my course only. For a limited period, however, I'm opening it up to ANYONE with an interest in entering consumer contests. My aim in doing this, I freely admit, is to build an exclusive community of enthusiastic 'compers' as quickly as possible.

If you'd like to take up this opportunity, please go to the How to Win Contests Facebook Group and click on 'Join' at the top of the page. Note that you will need to be a Facebook member already and logged in to your account to do this. You will then see a list of current contests on the Group Wall, and be able to join in the discussions, add your own comments (and contests), and so on.

Don't leave it too long, though. In a few weeks, maybe sooner, the Group will revert to being for buyers of my course only. In that case, instead of 'Join' at the top of the page, you will see 'Apply to Join'. From then on, only registered buyers of How to Win Contests will have their applications approved.

I look forward to seeing you at the How to Win Contests Facebook Group soon!

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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Nick Daws Writing Courses Updated

For the last few weeks - months, actually - I've been updating my writing courses published by The WCCL Network. The job is now complete, and I'm delighted to say that all courses are fully up to date again!

So, for the benefit of new readers especially, I thought I'd take the chance to mention all of my writing courses currently available from WCCL...

Write Any Book in Under 28 Days is my original, best-selling course designed for anyone who wants to write a book, fiction or non-fiction, in the shortest possible time. At its heart is my unique five-stage outlining and blueprinting system, which thousands of people have used to create books of their own (check out a few of the testimonials the course has received). Apart from that, Write Any Book in Under 28 Days is also crammed with hints and tips on book writing, based on my experience as the author of over 80 non-fiction books and book-length products.

Quick Cash Writing is my blockbusting guide for anyone who wants to start making money from writing as soon as possible. It covers a huge range of shorter writing projects, from readers' letters to articles, greeting card ideas to short stories, TV and movie concepts to jokes and sketches. Every module includes practical 'homework' exercises designed to help you start earning as soon as possible.

Essential English for Authors is my guide for anyone for anyone who would like to write for publication but fears that their written English might let them down. In twelve information-packed modules, Essential English for Authors takes you through all the common problem areas for new writers: from the basics of grammatical sentence and paragraph construction, through principles of capitalization and punctuation, to "minefield" topics such as subject/verb agreement and how to set out and punctuate dialogue. Everything is explained in simple, easy-to-grasp terms, with lots of examples to illustrate the points made.

If you want to ensure that your writing is taken seriously by editors and publishers and not dumped immediately in the 'round file', Essential English for Authors is the guide for you.

How to Win Contests is my insider's guide to winning consumer competitions and sweepstakes. It focuses specifically on slogan contests, where you have to complete a sentence such as 'I love WCCL's writing courses because...' in (say) 15 words or less. These represent a great opportunity for writers, as you really can boost your chances significantly by applying your writing skills. This course explains EXACTLY what to do - and how to do it - to start winning a steady stream of cars, cash, consumer goods, and so on.

Slogan contests are most commonly found in the UK and Ireland, so How to Win Contests is best suited for people in those countries. Increasingly, however, slogan contests are appearing in other parts of the world too - so reading this guide will give you a great headstart on your compatriots!

My most recent writing course, which was co-written with Australia-based writer and publisher Ruth Barringham, focuses on how you can make big money applying your writing skills on the Internet. It covers all the main methods of making money online, including blogging, article-writing, e-book writing, bidding for work on job auction sites, and so on. If you're a writer and you're online, this is the course you need to bring your income up to the next level!

* I'm currently offering a special EXTRA BONUS for anyone ordering The Wealthy Writer via my homepage. Please click on this link for more information!

That's all, except to say that in the next few weeks WCCL will be launching a brand new Nick Daws writing course - so keep watching this blog for further announcements!

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Monday, February 15, 2010

The Festival on Lyris Five - now available on Smashwords!

The Festival on Lyris 5I wrote a while ago about my humorous science-fiction novella The Festival on Lyris Five when it was published on

Well, I'm pleased to reveal that it's now available in all popular e-book formats (including the Amazon Kindle) via the Smashwords self-publishing site. I've set the price at a bargain basement 99 cents (the lowest Smashwords will allow).

If you've recently joined the growing ranks of Kindle users and are looking for some light reading, it could well be the best 99c you'll spend this year ;-)

As regards the story, I can't really do better than quote the book's blurb:

Former Ten Stars combat pilot Rick Barrett is having a bad day. Not only is he jobless and broke, in a seedy spaceport bar he has just been forced into a winner-takes-all poker game with a homicidal cauliflower. Salvation is at hand in the shapely form of Irish redhead Julie Halloran, who has an unusual talent of her own. Julie has a proposition for Rick that could end his financial worries at a stroke, though it might also end up getting him killed. But is Julie keeping a few cards hidden herself?

The Festival on Lyris Five is a fast-moving, hilarious, science-fiction novella, where nothing is quite what it seems...

If you'd like to know more, you can read an extract from the story by clicking on the BookBuzzr widget below...

If you are receiving this post by email or RSS, you may need to visit my blog to view the widget.

Incidentally, you can also read a longer excerpt free of charge on the book's Smashwords page. All you have to do then is pay the modest 99c to find out how it ends!

I wrote The Festival on Lyris Five a few years ago, when I had more time for fiction writing. It's proved quite difficult to place, as it's too short for a conventional novel yet too long for most short-story markets. I make no claims for The Festival on Lyris Five as a work of literature, but I had a lot of fun writing it, and hope readers will take it in that spirit and enjoy it as well.

This is actually the first time I've published an e-book using Smashwords, and I was pleased with how it worked out. I plan to write another post soon explaining a bit more about the Smashwords service and how you can use it to publish your own work in e-book form.

Incidentally, Smashwords also have an affiliate program, so if you want to promote The Festival on Lyris Five - or indeed most other Smashwords e-books - you can earn a percentage of any sales you generate. I've boosted the commission payable to affiliates of my book to 81.5%. Just click on Smashwords Affiliate Program for more info and to sign up. Considering the low price of my book, however, I can't really recommend this as a get-rich-quick opportunity!

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Sunday, February 14, 2010

Romance Writing Resources for Valentine's Day!

romantic fiction writing
Happy Valentine's Day! Hope you got at least one card :-)

In view of the occasion, I thought I'd share some top resources for romance writers. I'm not a romance writer myself, though I've had my moments. For example, my first published book was a guide for singletons called How to Find Your Ideal Partner, while my first published short story was a teenage romance.

There's no doubt that there is a huge appetite for romantic fiction, and with electronic publishing now taking off in this field as well, the prospects for romance authors have seldom looked brighter.

First up then is Charlotte Dillon's Resources for Romance Writers. I realise I'm cheating a bit by including a site that lists resources, but Charlotte's site is beautifully written and designed, and it also includes lots of useful, practical advice for budding romance authors. Highly recommended.

My next site is eHarlequin. This is the website of Harlequin, Silhouette, Spice and various other romantic fiction imprints operated by the world's largest romantic fiction publisher, Harlequin Mills & Boon. I'd particularly direct you to their Writing Tips page. This includes writing guidelines and submission samples for many of their imprints, as well as writing articles, updated monthly, from editors and authors.

Finally, if you are interested in writing the more explicit type of romance, you should visit the Erotica Readers and Writers Association website. This does include some "adult" material, so please read the warning before you click through to the main part of the site. Inside, you'll find all manner of information and resources for writers of this type of fiction, along with pages of calls for submissions from publishers.

Good luck, and enjoy your romance writing!

* If you know of any other good resources for romantic fiction writers, please do post them as comments below.

Photo credit: Parvin on Flickr

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Thursday, February 11, 2010

The WAYB Website - a Surprisingly Useful Resource

Writers & Artists YearbookWAYB, as you will probably know, is the Writers' and Artists' Yearbook. It's the longest-established market guide for writers in the UK.

The WAYB has its own dedicated website. I had occasion to visit recently while checking some info for a writing course I was updating, and was very impressed with what I found. I thought I'd share this with you, in case you're as unaware of their site as I was.

The thing that most impressed me about the WAYB site is that it allows you to search and view full details of the 5,000+ markets, publishers and other resources listed in the printed guide. You do have to register first, but this is free and only takes a moment.

Admittedly, you can't browse the listings with quite the same ease as the printed book, but if you simply want to check the details of a certain publication it's ideal. Just click on Quick Search once you're logged in, and enter the name of the magazine (or part of it) in the search box. Here is a sample listing for the magazine Disability Now:

You can also see a list of all entries in the category Magazines UK and Ireland by clicking on the category in question. Clicking on any item in the list will then take you to the entry for the publication concerned.

The WAYB site also has a range of other interesting features, including introductory articles about writing in the Writers' Zone, and a blog which seems to attract plenty of comments from readers.

There are also details of their current short story competition, which is free to enter and has some great prizes. You'll need to get your skates on if you want to enter, though, as the closing date is 14 February 2010 (this Sunday).

Overall, I've been very impressed with the WAYB site since I "rediscovered" it this week. I think if you check it out you will be too.

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Friday, February 05, 2010

Three Great - and Free - Email Newsletters for Writers

Today I wanted to share three great email newsletters you might like to check out for writing-related advice and information.

The first has the unusual name Words With JAM. It's a beautifully presented writers' newsletter in the universal PDF format.

The second issue, currently available, has lots of interesting and well-written articles, including the front-cover feature about my near-neighbour Miranda Dickinson and her best-selling debut novel Fairytale of New York (as I discussed a few weeks ago in this post).

And yes, this issue also has an interview with yours truly. It's on page 43 if you can't find it immediately ;-)

Surprisingly, given its size and quality, Words With JAM is free of charge, and editor Jane Dixon-Smith says she intends to keep it that way. For more information, and to subscribe, click on any of the Words with JAM links in this post.

My second newsletter recommendation is the Inkwell Writers Monthly Newsletter. This is produced and edited by Vanessa O'Loughlin of the Inkwell Writers Workshops.

Every issue of this chatty, friendly newsletter contains details of writing-related events, courses and workshops (including those put on by Inkwell). There are also articles about freelance writing, technique, grammar and punctuation, and so on.

Where the Inkwell newsletter is particularly strong, though, is in its extensive lists of competitions and other markets for writers. For this amount of information, they could easily be charging a fee!

And finally, the Inkwell newsletter has a strong community feel to it - as evidenced by the news of subscribers' successes in every issue.

Again, you can subscribe to the Inkwell Writers Monthly Newsletter by clicking on any of the links in this article.

My third and last recommendation is the bi-weekly Smart Writers newsletter, from my publishers (and blog sponsors) WCCL.

This is a quicker read than the two newsletters mentioned above. Each issue includes an interesting article on some aspect of writing, along with tips and advice, inspirational quotations, product reviews, and so on.

And yes, it includes promotions for WCCL's writing-related products, but these are almost invariably offered at a discount - and, naturally, there is never any obligation to buy anything.

You can subscribe to Smart Writers via their Writers Giveaway site. Essentially, you get a huge selection of writing-related software, e-books, MP3s, and so on, just for signing up. You can unsubscribe any time you like, of course, so why not join the newsletter's existing 300,000+ subscribers and sign up today?

I hope that you find these recommendations helpful, and that you enjoy reading these newsletters if you decide to sign up for them.

Photo credit: Lori Greig on Flickr

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Monday, February 01, 2010

Ten Top Tips for Making the Most of Online Writing Forums

As many of you will know, I manage the forum on behalf of my publishers, The WCCL Network. I'm also a regular visitor to several other writing forums, including those at Absolute Write and WriteLink.

I believe forums can be a great resource for writers, but in my experience many people don't use them to their full potential, while others are put off by the mistaken belief that they are somehow too complicated, or even elitist.

So here are my top ten tips for writers who have yet to sample the delights of online writers' forums, to help you get the most from them...

1. Spend a little while getting to know the forum before you start posting. Read a range of posts to gauge the level and see if you would feel comfortable there or not.

2. Read, especially, any etiquette guidelines that are provided - those for can be viewed here. This will help you avoid inadvertently getting off on the wrong foot.

3. Most forums have a board for new members to introduce themselves, and this should be where you make your first post. On we call it the Welcome Board. Introduce yourself here, and tell other members a bit about your writing interests and experiences.

4. Getting feedback on your writing can be one of the main benefits of joining a forum. Before you post any of your own work, however, it's a good idea to read and comment on a few contributions from other members. Not only is this a simple courtesy, it will help you think about how best to present your own work when the time comes.

5. Don't be too thin-skinned. Some forum members can be quite forthright in their criticisms (although personal abuse should not be expected or tolerated). Remember that, while praise is always nice, it is only through criticism of our work that we learn to improve.

6. Be careful about advertising. Forum members (and owners) can get very touchy about this. New members who see this as a great opportunity to advertise their wares are likely to get short shrift from other members. On we allow members to advertise writing-related products and services in their signature text (a small message that appears below any message they post) and once only on the forum itself. Posts promoting non-writing-related items are likely to be viewed as spam and summarily deleted.

7. Be nice to the moderators. On most forums (including moderators are regular members who have volunteered in a public-spirited way to help keep things running smoothly. They have certain extra powers, e.g. the ability to delete or edit any post. If you need help or advice, the mods will be happy to provide it. Equally, if any members are causing disruption on the forum, they will take action to warn or, if necessary, ban them.

8. Remember that forums rely on give and take. If you want feedback on your writing, you will be more likely to get it if you also take the time to read and comment on other people's (see also item 4, above).

9. Forums aren't just for getting feedback, though. If you have a writing-related question, they can be great places for getting them answered by other members. Questions can cover anything from the use of grammar and punctuation to the effects of different poisons!

10. And finally, if you're looking for writing-related jobs and opportunities, forums can be great places to look. On we have a Writers Wanted board specifically for this purpose. Writers Wanted can also be used if you are looking for a collaborator or someone to interview for an article.

I hope you find the above tips helpful. And if you're now ready to give an online writers' forum a try, I'd be delighted to welcome you to any time soon!

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