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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Write a Novel in a Month at JulNoWriMo!

JulNoWriMo - Just Another July
Regular readers of this blog will know all about National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo for short.

This event takes place every November, and I've mentioned it most years on my blog.

JulNoWriMo is a more recent innovation, started in 2006. Aimed at people for whom November isn't such a good month for writing, JulNoWriMo is a challenge to write a complete 50,000 word novel in July.

JulNoWriMo isn't (yet) nearly as big as NaNoWriMo, but it's getting more popular every year. This FAQ page is a good place to find out more. To sign up for JulNoWriMo, you simply have to visit their forum and register a username.

If you're looking for a challenge to kick-start your novel - and don't have too much else planned for July - JulNoWriMo could provide just the incentive you need. It is also, by the way, a great opportunity to apply the techniques taught in WCCL's Novel in a Month course (see below), or indeed my own Write Any Book in Under 28 Days.

I'd like to wish you the very best of luck if you do decide to register for JulNoWriMo and write a novel in July. Please let me know if you succeed in completing the challenge!

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Monday, June 28, 2010

Type Faster With eType for Windows (100 Invites)

I was recently invited to test drive eType, a new program designed to help speed up your typing.

eType is a Windows program. I downloaded it to my computer's desktop and double-clicked to start the installation process. This took just a few moments and was quite straightforward.

Once you have eType installed, a small, circular icon appears in the notification area at the bottom of your screen. Clicking on this enables you to toggle between on (blue) and off (red). Right-clicking the icon brings up a menu offering various options, including changing the settings. Based on my experiences, you will almost certainly want to do this.

When eType is on, it displays a list of word options such as the one below each time you start typing. In that respect, it's a bit like the predictive text messaging you get on modern cell phones...

By default the program displays a list after you have typed three letters, but you can change this if you wish. You can also change the time after which the list appears (by default this is set to zero, which personally I found far too distracting).

You can then use the up/down arrows on your keyboard to choose a word in the list, press ENTER/SPACE to select it, or press the ESC key to cancel. You can also use the cursor to select items, and left-click to insert them. If you're typing at speed you might find this less convenient, however.

The developers say they are hoping to use crowdsourcing to get feedback on eType and improve it. Having tried it myself, I've found that in general it works well, but I got on a lot better once I changed the delay from 0 to 2 seconds. This means the list only appears if you pause to allow it, which is a lot less intrusive.

eType seems to permit the use of different dictionaries (and thesauruses), but at present only US English is available at the install stage. Others may be planned for future releases, or there may be a trick to installing them that I haven't figured out yet.

One other minor gripe is that the suggestions the program comes up with don't always include what you might think are the obvious ones. When I typed 'tec', for example, as you'll see from the screengrab above, the program suggested 'techniques', but not the singular 'technique', which was the word I wanted. Even clicking on the small down arrow that brings up more suggestions didn't produce 'technique' as an option.

Still, eType is in Beta at the moment, so you have to expect the occasional rough edge. The developers have kindly offered 100 Beta invitations for readers of this blog to download the program free of charge, so click here or on any of the eType links in this post to go to the special download page. I'll be interested to hear what you think of eType if you decide to try it out (and so will the developers!).

* As a matter of interest, my blog sponsors, The WCCL Network, produce a program called Quick-Type (see banner ad below), which has some similarities with eType. However, with Quick-Type you enter your chosen text (e.g. a paragraph you type regularly) and a keyword to activate it. From then on, any time you type that keyword, Quick-Type will insert the text in question. Both programs have their uses, and it's really a matter of personal taste (and your typing style/ability) which one you prefer.

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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Three Ways Writers Can Boost Their Income With Fiverr

I recently discovered a website that seems to have captured people's imagination.

It's called Fiverr, and anyone can use it to post details of jobs they are willing to do for just five dollars.

The services on offer cover a huge range of areas, as the screengrab below indicates...

You can also post requests for jobs you would like people to do. Some of the requests listed strike me as optimistic for five bucks but, hey, someone might be willing to take on the challenge...

I can see various ways Fiverr could be useful to writers. If you're looking for help with designing your blog or website, for example, there are plenty of people keen to assist. And if you need help promoting it, offers such as the one below look good value...

Of course, the quality of service you will receive isn't guaranteed, but for five dollars a time, you're not exactly taking a massive risk.

And how about offering your own services? At first glance you might think five dollars isn't worth getting out of bed for. As a writer I can see at least three ways advertising yourself on the site could be highly beneficial, though...

1. You could offer to write a short blog post or article for $5, as a way of introducing yourself to potential clients. If they like what they see, hopefully they will want to hire you and pay you a decent rate for your services in future.

2. You could use Fiverr as a way of building your list. As a published author, for example, you could offer an appraisal service for a short story for $5, and then add your clients to a mailing list promoting courses such as my own Write Any Book in Under 28 Days using the WCCL affiliate program. Hmm, I might try this one myself!

3. Finally, you could write a short report and sell it through the site multiple times. This is slightly against the spirit of Fiverr, but I've seen plenty of people doing it. The key is to make it sound as though you are personalizing your offer. Here's a simple idea: Create a short report on (say) how to set up a free blog in five minutes using Blogger. Then sell it with an ad along the lines, 'X will show you how to set up your own free blog in just five minutes using a popular blogging platform'. You would have to offer to give follow-up advice if required, but most people probably wouldn't need this. Essentially, by this method, you could sell the same mini-report dozens of times, perhaps making hundreds of dollars from a single ad. Feel free to borrow this idea if you like!

I hope this post has opened your eyes to some of the interesting possibilities for writers presented by Fiverr. If you have any other ideas, please feel free to share them below...

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Friday, June 18, 2010

Two Free E-Books on Blogging for Profit

I know many readers of this blog are bloggers themselves, or are at least interested in doing so. And blogging for profit is, of course, one of the topics I cover in detail in my WCCL course The Wealthy Writer.

So I thought some of you might be interested in the current free e-book offer from successful entrepreneur-blogger John Chow.

John earns over $40,000 a month from blogging (much more than I do, incidentally!). I have to admit that I've only become aware of John fairly recently, but I'm already impressed with the amount of valuable information he shares for free. If you're a blogger or would-be blogger and you're not already following John Chow's blog, you probably should be.

John is currently giving away not one but two free e-books about blogging. The first is called The Ultimate Blog Profit Model. This well-written 60-page PDF sets out the exact method John uses to make money from blogging. I know it's a bit of a cliche, but this really is crammed with valuable hints and tips for bloggers. Even if you don't want to copy John's methods exactly - and you may or may not - I'd defy anyone not to pick up some useful ideas. I've copied a sample page from the e-book below, so you can judge the content and production quality...

John Chow's Ultimate Blog Profit ModelSample page from The Ultimate Blog Profit Model e-book

The other e-book is a shorter guide to how to get more comments on your blog. Getting comments is the key to boosting your blog's search engine rankings and helping create a sense of community around it. Again, there are lots of good ideas here you may want to put into practice on your own blog.

To get hold of the two free e-books, just visit John Chow's Blog Profit Camp website and enter your name and email address where shown. Once you have confirmed your email, you will be sent download links for the two free e-books.

And in case you're wondering, there aren't any hidden fees to pay or annoying 'one-time offers' to negotiate. The e-books do mention John Chow's Blog Profit Camp, a ten-week training course for bloggers that readers are invited to sign up for. There is no obligation to do so, however, and the free e-books are still extremely useful and informative in their own right.

Happy blogging!

UPDATE: John has just added a third free e-book to his offer called Living The Dot Com Lifestyle: How To Have Time, Money and Location Freedom. If you've already downloaded the first two e-books, you should have had an email about this. If you haven't yet, you will now get download links for all three e-books when you sign up.

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Monday, June 14, 2010

Writing Contests Ending This Month

writing contests
There are quite a few writing contests with deadlines at the end of June, so I thought I'd take a moment to list some of them here. As far as I know, all of these contests are open world-wide.

First up is the sonnet-writing contest on my forum at There are three great prizes in this free contest, which requires you to produce a sonnet based on a theme of 'the first time'. I can exclusively reveal that we've only had a handful of entries so far, so you really do stand a very good chance if you enter this one!

Next comes the Writers Bureau Short Story and Poetry Competition. There are 4000 UK pounds' worth of prizes in this contest for short stories of up to 2000 words and poems of up to 40 lines. There is an entry fee of 5 UKP or 9 USD per poem or story.

The Bridport Prize is arguably the leading open writing competition in the UK. This year they have contests for short stories of up to 5000 words, poems of up to 42 lines, and flash fiction of up to 250 words. Almost 15,000 UKP of prizes is on offer in total, with entry fees ranging from 5 UKP (flash fiction) to 7 UKP (short stories).

Also closing on 30 June is the quarterly Flash 500 contest for short stories of up to 500 words. There are cash prizes of 250, 100 and 50 UKP in this contest, plus a copy of The Writer's ABC Checklist for any highly commended entries. Again, the entry fee is 5 UKP.

Next up is the Great Hotels of the World Travel Writing Contest. This one is free to enter. You have to submit up to 500 words about a memorable travel experience. The winner will enjoy a week as a VIP travel writer, staying at a luxury hotel in Crete, Greece, with return flights included. Unusually, they will be expected to write a 1000 word article about their prize vacation!

Finally, it's not exactly a contest, but new article site/online magazine Fortitude, which I wrote about in this recent post, has been attracting a lot of interest. Fortitude accepts articles, short stories and poems on any subject, with the top 25 percent (as voted by other members) appearing on the front page and getting paid a fee of between $10 and $100. You do have to pay a small fee to join Fortitude (akin to a competition entry fee), but unlike most contests this entitles you to submit any number of contributions over a year. Anyway, in my view it's well worth a look.

Good luck with all your competition entries, and don't forget to check out this recent blog post for some hints and tips. If you know of any other good contests ending this month, please feel free to post them as comments below.

Photo credit: Kpwerker on Flickr.

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Thursday, June 10, 2010

My Holiday in Lesvos

As some of you will know, my partner Jayne and I enjoyed a week on the beautiful Greek island of Lesvos recently. As a break from all the writing stuff, I thought I'd share a few of my photos with you...

We stayed in a place called Anaxos, on the north coast of the island. Our accommodation was the Hotel Anaxos (a good name, as it's the only hotel in Anaxos!). Here's a picture of the hotel across the swimming pool...

Anaxos is a quiet place, which suited us fine. One of the livelier moments was the hotel's Greek Night. Here's the bouzouki player getting warmed up...

And this is Jayne waiting for her supper to be served...

Anaxos is famous for its stunning sunsets, and there were several of those during our stay. Here's one picture I was particularly pleased with...

And here's another. Don't forget to put on your sunglasses.

I was amused by this sticker we saw attached to a wheelie bin in the resort. I'm sure their English is a lot better than my Greek, mind.

This is the Einai, a seafront taverna where we enjoyed several delicious meals. I particularly recommend the swordfish steak!

Finally, here's a lunch of mixed starters we enjoyed one day in the nearby town of Petra. I can almost taste those prawns now...

Well, I hope you've enjoyed seeing my holiday photos. If you've never been to Greece, I highly recommend it for a relaxing break. The climate is warm, the food excellent, the scenery stunning, and the people are genuinely welcoming towards visitors. If you'd like any more info, you might just like to check out my Squidoo lens of Greek Travel Tips.

Ev Haristo!

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Monday, June 07, 2010

Fortitude: A New Paying Marketplace for Writers

FortitudeA new website for freelance writers looking to earn some extra cash has been launched today.

The site is called Fortitude. It is being referred to as 'an online magazine for being human', although in some ways it is more like an article directory, albeit one that pays for the best contributions.

Writers can submit articles (including poetry and short stories) on any subject to Fortitude, and they are then reviewed and rated by other users. Articles rated highly enough are published on the front page and are guaranteed a minimum fee of $10, up to $100 maximum. Right now, with only a small number of members, Fortitude say the chances of achieving a place on the front page of the site are actually very good.

As well as earning money from your contributions, you can earn a small fee by reviewing other people's. And there is also a referral program for introducing new members. If you decide to join Fortitude via one of the links in this post, for example, I will be paid a few dollars for my trouble.

As you may have guessed, there is a fee for joining Fortitude. It's quite modest, however, at US $1.99 a month, payable a year in advance. You would only have to get one or two articles on the front page to cover your annual fee, and after that you would be in profit.

It's too early to say yet whether Fortitude will prove a good source of income for writers, but the program was developed by Locust Swarm, the company that runs Qondio, so they do have some experience in this area. I've joined, obviously, and think it's worth a shot if you're confident you can produce work that other people will enjoy reading. But much will depend on whether enough people join to give Fortitude the initial impetus it needs.

My advice would be, if you decide to give Fortitude a spin, upload some articles as soon as possible. Not only is there less competition for places on the front page right now, you can then ensure you have covered your costs and made a profit even if the site goes under in a few months' time. Not that I'm predicting it will, of course!

* See also my new Squidoo lens for more hints and tips for making the most of Fortitude.

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