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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Kids Kindle Magnets 2 - Review

Kids Kindle Magnets 2 is - no surprise! - a follow-up to the original Kids Kindle Magnets, which I reviewed in this post.

Both products come from Deborah Drum and Amy Harrop, and are intended for people who want to try their hand at writing illustrated children's books for the fast-growing Kindle e-book market.

Debbie and Amy were kind enough to allow me a review copy of Kids Kindle Magnets 2, so here's what I found. KKM2 (as I'll call it from now on) actually has a variety of components. They include three PDF guides, several worksheets and a mindmap file, and a series of training videos.

The main manual goes into much more detail than the original on coming up with ideas for your children's e-book. The authors look at methods such as brainstorming and storyboarding (the latter in two different ways). They also discuss the role of conflict in plotting, the importance of emotion in children's books, and how to come up with clever and original resolutions for your stories.

The other PDFs include a Quick Start Guide (basically a step-by-step "recipe" for devising, outlining, illustrating, and publishing your book), and Story Starters, which sets out some ideas you could use if you're struggling to get going. There are also plot and character worksheets, and a plot development mindmap (designed to be used in conjunction with the open-source Freemind mind-mapping software).

The video training is accessible via the members page. It's divided into two main sections, Creating Your Story and Creating Graphics and Artwork. The videos are based on screen captures, and are clearly narrated by Debbie or Amy. They are designed to be used in close conjunction with the PDF guides and worksheets.

The videos in "Creating Your Story" cover using Freemind to brainstorm story ideas, how to use the plot and character worksheets, and a method of storyboarding using Microsoft Word. I thought the latter was quite a clever application of a basic Word function. I imagine it would also work with alternatives such as OpenOffice.

The videos in "Creating Graphics and Artwork" look at various ways you can create and manipulate artwork for your picture book using free software. I found this section particularly informative.

Topics covered include how to edit and remove backgrounds, how to create artwork from photographs, and how to lay out artwork and text in the finished e-book. KKM2 doesn't go into any great detail about formatting and publishing your book - this subject is covered in the original Kids Kindle Magnets, of course, as well as my own Kindle Kash - but an illustrated children's book template is included, which you can easily adapt for your own project if you wish.

Overall, I thought Kids Kindle Magnets 2 was a valuable follow-up to the first guide, providing more detail on subjects such as plotting which weren't discussed much in the original. There are also some great tips on preparing artwork for your book. Even if you're not a graphics person, Amy and Debbie reveal how you can easily use free software to get very acceptable results (though they do also discuss commissioning artwork). And, just as in the original KKM, they use examples from their own published e-books to illustrate the points they are making.

KKM2 is currently on offer at an even lower price than the original. In my view, if you're interested in this subject, you should buy both, as they complement each other very well. But if your budget is very tight, I would probably go for Kids Kindle Magnets first, and maybe order Kids Kindle Magnets 2 later if you need additional inspiration.

Just bear in mind that the current special offer prices probably won't be available forever!

Disclosure: Some links in this review include my affiliate code, so if you click through and make a purchase, a proportion of the fee will go to me. This hasn't influenced my review, but you should of course complete your own due diligence and read the sales page (and this review) carefully to determine whether this product will be relevant to your needs.

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Friday, October 26, 2012

The Greengrocer's Apostrophe, and Why You Shouldn't Buy It!

For those who don't know, greengrocer's apostrophe is a term used in Britain (and maybe elsewhere) to describe the incorrect use of apostrophes in plurals.

Not all countries have greengrocers (and thanks to the supermarkets we don't have as many in Britain as we used to), but they are typically small shops that specialize in selling fruit and vegetables.

Over the years greengrocers acquired a particular reputation for inserting apostrophes where they weren't required. For some reason this happens especially with nouns ending in a vowel (as do many popular fruit and veg). So we see banana's, apple's, orange's, cabbage's, and many more.

Of course, none of these nouns requires an apostrophe in the plural. Apostrophes are generally used to show possession - e.g. John's car - and in contractions such as shan't to indicate that one or more letters have been missed out.

There are a very few circumstances where apostrophes can be used in plurals, and these are to avoid causing confusion. Most commonly, this occurs when pluralizing single letters. An example would be, "How many i's are there in this sentence?" Without the apostophe this would read, "How many is are there in this sentence?" which would be pretty much guaranteed to bamboozle most readers!

Another common mistake is to insert an apostrophe when pluralizing abbreviations. This is almost invariably wrong, however. An example would be, "Members of the UK parliament are known as MPs". It is quite common to see an apostrophe inserted here (MP's), but again this is unnecessary and incorrect in a simple plural.

Unnecessary apostrophes are also frequently seen in expressions such as the 1960s (referring to that decade). Again, as this is just a plain old plural, no apostrophe is required.

An uglier mistake is where an apostrophe followed by an 's' is used after the singular form where the spelling is different in the plural. Thus you might see canopy's (should be canopies), party's (should be parties) and - going back to our friendly greengrocer - potato's instead of potatoes.

In conclusion, do think very carefully before inserting an apostrophe in a simple plural - and doubly so if you happen to be a greengrocer!

* If you're wondering why it's greengrocer's apostrophe and not greengrocers' apostrophe, you may like to check out this post about the exemplar possessive I wrote some time ago.

If you have any comments about the greengrocer's apostrophe - or classic examples you want to share - please do post them below!

Photo Credit: Francis Storr on Flickr. Reproduced under Creative Commons 2.0 Attribution Share-Alike 2.0 Licence.

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Monday, October 22, 2012

The 22 Rules of Storytelling [Infographic]

Today I have an infographic for you based on tips and advice on storytelling shared on Twitter by Pixar storyboard artist Emma Coats.

Emma set out "22 Rules of Storytelling" based on what she learned working for the animation studio (responsible for such blockbusters as the Toy Story series and Finding Nemo). In my opinion there are some real gems for fiction writers in all formats and genres here.

The infographic was created by Jessica Bogart of PBJ Publishing, and is shared with her permission.

Note that I had to reduce the size of the graphic to work on my blogging platform. If you can't read it clearly, you can access the full size (5 MB!) version at this website.

If you would like a printed, poster-size version of the graphic, you can buy it from Jessica's Etsy store (not an affiliate link).

I particularly like Rule 12: "Discount the 1st thing that comes to mind. And the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th – get the obvious out of the way. Surprise yourself." As a writing tutor myself, I can testify that one of the most common mistakes in new writers' work is predictability.

I also love Rule 19: "Coincidences to get characters into trouble are great; coincidences to get them out of it are cheating." If you stick to this one rule alone, it will put you ahead of 90% of fiction writers immediately!

I hope you enjoy reading "The 22 Rules of Storytelling". If you have any comments about it or suggestions for additional rules, please do post them below.

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Friday, October 19, 2012

Review: Viral Image Creator Pro

Viral Image Creator Pro is a new program designed to help non-specialist designers create attractive blog images and 'memes'.

VIC Pro (as it's called for short) was created by John Pearce and Hugh Hitchcock. It was launched this week on the Warrior Forum,  and is on one of their dimesales where the price slowly rises. At the time of writing it's still under $10, though.

I was fortunate enough to receive an advance review copy, so here are my thoughts. First of all, this is a very smart, professional bit of software. It runs on the Adobe Air platform, which means it will work on Mac and Linux computers as well as Windows PCs.

When you first launch the program, you are invited to add details of any WordPress blogs you want to run it with (up to five for the basic version, 50 with the developer's licence). You are also invited to add details of your Twitter and Facebook accounts (one of each for the basic version, and 10 Facebook and Twitter accounts and unlimited Facebook fan pages for the developer's version).

Once you have done this, you can search for a suitable image from the various image libraries included, create a post around this, and share it on Twitter and Facebook, all without leaving VIC Pro.

That's really only the start of it, though. One of my favourite features of VIC Pro is the Meme Editor. This allows you to take the image you have selected, resize it, add text above and below, change the background colour, and manipulate it in various ways. You can then post it to your blog, Facebook, Twitter, and so on, as mentioned above.

At the top of this post I've included a meme I created with one of my favourite quotations and an image from MorgueFile (one of the image libraries included) in just a couple of minutes, to give you an idea of what can be done.

As anyone who has ever been on Facebook will know, these type of images are very popular and often spread virally. If you want to attract people to your blog and/or Facebook fan page, they can be an extraordinarily powerful tool.

Using VIC Pro makes creating memes very easy, and you can of course save them to disk for future use. Just one note of caution, though. Not all the images you will find in some of the media libraries accessible via VIC Pro allow unrestricted usage and some (though not MorgueFile) require attribution.

Every image listed by VIC Pro includes a research icon, which lets you check what rights are available for the image on the source website. Unless you are using one of the media libraries that only lists images that are free to use in any way, it's important to research carefully what rights are on offer. I mention this because I've seen several reviews that claim VIC Pro offers a 'royalty-free image search', and in my view that isn't strictly speaking true.

That minor reservation aside, I do think VIC Pro is a very impressive product, and the support from the developers is first class. The software was even updated three times during the time I was testing it, although everything always worked flawlessly for me anyway. I've embedded a video from the developers below, so you can see how it works in practice.

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

I should also add that although you will get the most benefit from this software if you are a WordPress blogger, you certainly don't have to be - the image search and meme creation functions (among others) work just as well whatever blogging platform you use, or even if you're not a blogger at all. But if you do use WordPress, you will get the full benefit of VIC Pro's time-saving automated features.

Finally, in addition to the software itself (which is very user-friendly, with on-screen help available at all times), you also get a number of bonuses. These include a guide to setting up WordPress to get the most benefit from VIC Pro, a guide to developer High Hitchcock's favourite free WordPress themes, and a full, free webinar-based training series (no sales pitches) to help you get the most out of the software.

Overall, I think Viral Image Creator Pro is well worth the modest asking price. But there is, in any event, a 60-day unconditional money-back guarantee for additional reassurance. If you want a quick way to locate attractive images and create blog posts and memes from them, it's certainly well worth a look.

If you have any comments or questions about Viral Image Creator Pro, please post them below and I will do my best to answer them!

Disclosure: Some links in this review include my affiliate code, so if you click through and make a purchase, a proportion of the fee you pay will go to me. This hasn't influenced my review, but you should of course complete your own due diligence and read the sales page (and this review) carefully to determine whether this product will be relevant to your needs.


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Wednesday, October 17, 2012

RebelMouse - A New Home for Your Social Media?

Have you seen RebelMouse yet? It's a free service that lets you create your own social media homepage in literally just a few minutes.

Your RebelMouse page can be set up to feature posts from Facebook (including FB fan pages), Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, and Pinterest. You can also include any RSS feed you like.

Once your site is set up - and there is no longer any need for an invitation - you will see a Pinterest-like collage of a selection of your latest posts. I've included a screen capture of part of my own RebelMouse page below to give you a flavour, but to get the whole effect click over to (will open on a new page).

Although I said above that RebelMouse looks at first glance like Pinterest, it differs in a few respects.

Most importantly, of course, items are automatically selected from your social media feeds, with a particular emphasis on those with accompanying images. If you want to change the selection, however, it's easy to do. Just click on dashboard at the top right when you are logged in and you will see all of your available posts listed. You can choose to add any of these to your page if it's not there already. And, of course, you can delete any you don't want included with one click.

You can move posts around using drag-and-drop, and 'freeze' posts at the top of your page if you want them to stay there for a time. You can also edit titles and descriptions to your heart's content.

You can even create original items by clicking on 'Add Post'. This gives RebelMouse the potential to be used as a blogging platform. Or you can use it to make a link to your book's Amazon sales page - like this one to my novella The Festival on Lyris Five, for example.

Other features include stats on all items, so you can see which ones are generating the most traffic to the posts concerned.

For me, though, one of the best things about RebelMouse is the opportunity it gives me to review my own posts and links I have shared (and I admit I do share a lot!). Seeing them all with illustrations and excerpts is a great reminder of interesting posts I really need to revisit, and gives me a useful overview of the resources I've been sharing.

In addition, of course, my RebelMouse page provides backlinks to my own blog posts (good for SEO purposes) and helps attract more traffic to them.

Although social media is a notorious time suck, once you have set up a RebelMouse page - which doesn't take long in itself - it will update with no further input from you required (unless you want to). In that respect it's a bit like the service, which I use for The Nick Daws Daily (and also recommend, incidentally).

My one slight reservation about RebelMouse is that if you want the service to include items from your Facebook business (aka fan) pages, there doesn't seem to be any way to stop it using posts from your profile too. Since I keep my FB profile mainly as a way of communicating with friends and family I would have liked to be able to exclude this. Still, RebelMouse does only share Facebook posts which have been set as Public, so if you don't want it to grab more personal posts you just have to remember to set them to limited visibility.

Even if you're not sure whether RebelMouse is for you, I recommend setting up an account now while it's still in beta so that you have the best chance of grabbing a URL with your own name or something close to it. All free accounts take the form I understand that paid accounts for individuals and companies allowing the use of any domain name will be available soon.

Do take a look at my RebelMouse page and if you have any comments or questions about the service, feel free to post them below. And if you've set up a RebelMouse page yourself, include the URL and I'll be sure to check it out!

* You might also like to check out my blog review of RebelMouse Infestation by Jimmy Mancini, a guide to how you can profit directly from RebelMouse.

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Thursday, October 11, 2012

Review: Kindle Ritual Software and Training Course

Kindle Ritual is a newly launched training course and software app to help anyone create and publish a Kindle e-book from scratch.

It's by author and online marketer Brian G. Johnson, and is being sold via the popular ClickBank self-publishing platform. It's been heavily promoted over the last week or so, and has been attracting a lot of favorable comments.

As the author of Kindle Kash I'm always interested to see new products in the Kindle publishing field, so I bought a copy of Kindle Ritual myself to evaluate it.

The first thing to note about Kindle Ritual is that it's not just a PDF manual. You actually get access to a members' website. This includes training in every aspect of Kindle publishing, from researching profitable niches through to publicizing your finished book. The training is mostly in the form of videos, which are well produced and informative (though I might have liked a bit more written info as well).

At the heart of Kindle Ritual is a WordPress theme called AuthorTheme. You can download this from the members' area and install it on any suitable WordPress host (the website recommends Hostgator, but I installed it without any problem on a free hosting service called Byethost).

I'd have to say AuthorTheme is a very impressive product. It's a WordPress theme designed specifically for creating a Kindle e-book. It does pretty much everything you would require for this, including formatting your book, creating a cover image, inserting illustrations, adding a hyperlinked table of contents, and so on. Once you have compiled your book, it saves it in the form of a Zip file, all ready to upload via Kindle Direct Publishing.

AuthorTheme also enables you to create an attractive website to promote your e-book, pulling in information from the Amazon sales page and so on.

Ideally, you would create your entire e-book within AuthorTheme, but you can copy and paste text from Word if you prefer. To avoid importing the superfluous code Word produces, however, the theme has a "paste from Word" button that enables unnecessary code to be automatically stripped out.

You can produce any number of e-books from one AuthorTherme installation, and the theme also has tools to help you keep track of your growing e-book empire.

People who have some familiarity with WordPress publishing should learn to use AuthorTheme very quickly. Those who haven't will have more of a learning curve, but the videos do explain everything step by step, and there is a help desk if you need additional assistance. My own experience of using WordPress is fairly limited, but I found it all quite straightforward and intuitive.

Any criticisms? Well, one or two parts of the training are showing as "Coming Soon" - Module 7 on video marketing, for example. There is a message that this is still being worked on and will be available "in a number of days". It's a pity everything wasn't ready at the launch, but at least all the core content is there. It is, I guess, one of the benefits of a membership site that additional content can be added as it becomes available. This should also means that content can be quickly updated in future as required.

Overall, while I'm still working my way through Kindle Ritual, I'm very impressed by what I've seen so far. In effect, what you get is a comprehensive video-based training course combined with a powerful, web-based publishing tool.

Incidentally, if you visit the Kindle Ritual sales page and click to exit, you will be presented with an invitation to watch a webinar showcasing what Kindle Ritual has to offer and demonstrating AuthorTheme in action. If you're considering buying, it's well worth a look.

If you have any comments or questions about Kindle Ritual, please leave them below and I'll do my best to answer them!

FEBRUARY 2014 UPDATE - A new, fully updated and expanded Kindle Ritual 2014 Mega Bundle has just been released and is currently available for a lower price than the original Kindle Ritual sold for! It now includes access to Magic Bullet Books, a brand new members site that makes formatting for Kindle painless and easy. Check out the launch offer today before the price doubles at least!

Disclosure: Some links in this review include my affiliate code, so if you click through and make a purchase, a proportion of the fee will go to me. This hasn't influenced my review, but you should of course complete your own due diligence and read the sales page (and this review) carefully to determine whether this product will be relevant to your needs.


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Tuesday, October 09, 2012

An Interview with Mohanalakshmi Rajakumar, Author of Love Comes Later

Today I'm pleased to bring you an interview with author Mohanalakshmi Rajakumar, published as part of a blog tour organized by Novel Publicity to launch her multicultural romance, Love Comes Later.

In the interview, Mohanalakshmi talks about the inspiration for her book, the influence of her background as a US-raised Asian who for the last seven years has lived in Doha in Qatar, how she manages to be so prolific (six e-books in a year), and why she chose to go down the indie publishing route.

Love Comes Later and its companion From Dunes to Dior are on special offer at just 99c all this week, and all purchasers are eligible for a range of prizes, including a Kindle Fire and $550 in Amazon gift cards. For full details, please see below.

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Please enjoy this interview with Mohanalakshmi Rajakumar, author of the heart-breaking multicultural romance, Love Comes Later. Then read on to learn how you can win huge prizes as part of this blog tour, including a Kindle Fire, $550 in Amazon gift cards, 5 autographed copies of Love Comes Later, and 5 copies of its companion, From Dunes to Dior.

1. Love Comes Later tells the story of Abdulla’s arranged marriage to his cousin Hind. Neither is excited about the prospect—Abdulla because he is still recovering from the untimely death of his former wife and unborn child; Hind because she is a thoroughly modern girl who does not appreciate the prospect of being anyone’s second option. How did the inspiration for this story surface, particularly for the characters of Abdulla and Hind?

In conversations with people in Qatar, expat or Qatari, the subject of love inevitably came up. For women, the main issue involved the small pool of people they felt they had to choose from. My surprise and revelation came, however, when my male friends expressed similar sentiments. We often think men have all the power in male-dominated societies but from these discussions I began to realize how society limits both male and female aspirations with universal social expectations like marriage. The story began to form there: what would make a man unlikely to marry? And why? What would he do in order to keep his freedom?

2. You met your husband in Qatar although you are both American-raised and come from Asian heritage (you South Indian, and your husband of Laotian descent). How did the two of you meet? This sounds like such a magical love story!

We met at work, believe it or not, and at first the entire possibility of forging a lasting bond with someone I’d just met seemed as foreign to me as the desert landscape outside. I had my mind set on my career and wasn’t looking for a relationship; people were throwing dire warnings my way not to take anything starting overseas very seriously. But over time, I was impressed by the strength of my husband’s character and realized, despite the naysayers, I had never met anyone else like him. The desert is a great place to find out what someone is really about because you can’t rely on the busyness of life at home--work, family, friends--to hide behind. It’s just you, in a foreign setting, and that can be like a pressure cooker for most expats. What’s inside eventually comes out. Lucky for me, I listened to my gut, and six years of marriage later, I’m more and more grateful.

3. In Love Comes Later, how do the characters of Hind, Fatima, and Luluwa embody the modern Qatari (or Arab) woman?

They’re each their own personalities and have characteristics of different parts of Qatari society. Each of them occupies a space that demonstrates the changes in society as increasingly Qatar become open to the rest of the world. While Fatima was live, she was probably the most conservative of the three, which makes sense because she is also the oldest. She wanted to get married, and though she had a job outside the home, was much more excited about the birth of her first child. Hind has been allowed to study abroad without a family member, and during the story that causes her to become increasingly liberal-minded. Luluwa is very young at the time of this story, and she represents those in the next generation, who have even more choices facing them about tradition and society.

The Arabian Gulf is different from the Middle East, partly because of the oil revenues that drive the economy, but also because of the gender segregation that is very visible and preserved by the local community. While the female characters may have a lot in common with other Muslim women from the Arab world in terms of personal aspirations, their circumstances and context are unique to Qatar.

4. Based on your experiences, what is the one thing you believe Westerners would be the most surprised to learn about the city of Doha?

You can make relationships here that will last for a lifetime a lot more easily than you can at home. Part of the reason is that we are all in the same boat--expats and locals alike--everyone is searching for ways to make contribute to the rapid growth and development of the nation so that means you are engaged in meaningful work. Most people here are interested in cultural exchange and open about the world in general around them. This, plus the fact that the country is such a melting pot means that you and your children (if you have any) are more likely to have friends of different faiths and nationalities than many other places in the world.

5. What made you decide to relocate to Doha in particular, and what has motivated you to stay for so long (7 years)? Do you plan to move back to the U.S. one day, or might you set-up your permanent homestead in Qatar?

I don’t know of anywhere else that is investing as much in education as the Arabian Gulf at the present moment in time. I came to work at an American university, took some time to consult at the national university, and then worked for a newly established publishing company. They were all fairly big name organizations in their own right and the ability to contribute significantly on the programmatic level as I’ve done at a fairly young age would be difficult to replicate anywhere else.
Sorry, my academic side took over for a second! I am a scholar and this is a wonderful place to have the resources--perhaps most importantly time--to work on research and writing. And because I am a writer, I can’t remember another place I’ve lived that has so inspired me with subject matter--unless it was inside my own head as a teenage immigrant.

We agree in our house that we’ll stay as long as we’re having fun. And that doesn’t seem likely to change any time soon.

6. In your memoir From Dunes to Dior, you note that your American upbringing combined with your South Indian heritage, doctoral education, and femininity mean you’re a rather unique mixture of social identities in Qatar. How hard is it for you to reconcile all these sides of yourself while trying to fit in to this new society and take pride in all that makes you you?

Depends on the context; when I’m in traffic, it’s not unusual for me to return stares from men elbowing each other to have a look at me driving while they’re sitting in buses going back to their accommodation. In the classroom some students are taken aback for the first few sessions but eventually I grow on them. In instances where I have one on one interaction--or people hear my Western accent--I don’t have that much difficulty. It’s when I’m in places where judgments are made by skin color--the mall or first time meetings--that I have slightly more difficulty but in general these smooth out over time.

7. You’ve published six ebooks within the space of a year. How on earth do you manage to be so productive? Do you plan to keep this pace up, or are you just sprinting to get started?

I had the luxury of a backlist of manuscripts that had been politely declined by a number of agents over the years. Each time I stalled, I would go on and write another. I decided to give all of them a home on e-readers as a way of reaching readers. I have two more to go as part of the original list of 8. And of course there are ideas for new stories that keep coming up--even the possibilities of two more books with characters from Love Comes Later--but I think I’ll take a more relaxed approach after December!

8. You chose to pursue indie publishing even though your PhD in English Literature would make you a prime candidate for the traditional publishing model? Why indie, and if given the choice to do it all over again, would you still choose this path?

I came to indie publishing because I put a lot of time and effort into my academic books and no one--not even my mother--ever read them. That’s a long time for them to just waste away in the library. I kept hearing the indie drumbeat at conferences I attended and decided these manuscripts that weren’t being picked up didn’t need to be rejected 60 times in order to make it into the hands of readers. I don’t regret going indie. I wish I had done it sooner in the sense that it would have been fun to work on a single book, release it, and then start another book, instead of this wild and creative space I’m in right now where I’m revising one book, researching for another, and promoting others.

9. As a writer, what is the message you are trying to get out to the world? Who are you trying to reach, and what do you want to tell them? Are your books more entertainment/ informational driven, or is there a deeper resonance you are trying to achieve?

I want to take readers to places they’d like to go but can’t physically get to because of time or financial considerations. A book is the oldest form of technology we have, and though we’ve put them on tablets and found ways to make them enticing through video or graphics, we haven’t actually changed what a book does which is transport us to worlds other than our own. I want my stories to capture the essence and wonder of storytelling for the reader who will enter a world unfamiliar and yet see something of him/herself in the characters, dilemmas, and settings.

10. What can readers expect next from MohaDoha?

I am working on other titles… the very next one is a coming of age story, set in the U.S., told from the perspective of a young female protagonist, Sita, whom we’ll root for to grow up into an empowered woman despite those who have other plans for her life.

I love interacting with readers. The more feedback I get, the better content I feel that I create. So the door is open--tell me what you loved or what was confusing--and I’ll keep you posted on the release date for An Unlikely Goddess!

As part of this special promotional extravaganza sponsored by Novel Publicity, the price of the Love Comes Later eBook edition is just 99 cents this week--and so is the price of its companion, From Dunes to Dior. What’s more, by purchasing either of these fantastic books at an incredibly low price, you can enter to win many awesome prizes. The prizes include a Kindle Fire, $550 in Amazon gift cards, and 5 autographed copies of each book.

All the info you need to win one of these amazing prizes is RIGHT HERE. Remember, winning is as easy as clicking a button or leaving a blog comment--easy to enter; easy to win!

To win the prizes:
  1. Purchase your copy of Love Comes Later for just 99 cents
  2. Purchase your copy of From Dunes to Dior for just 99 cents
  3. Enter the Rafflecopter contest on Novel Publicity
  4. Visit today’s featured social media event
About Love Comes Later: What if pursuing your happiness also meant your best friend's disgrace? In Love Comes Later Sangita, Abdulla and Hind must chose between loyalty and love, traditional values and a future they each long to explore. Get it on Amazon.

About From Dunes to Dior: I moved East, back towards my roots, only to discover how much of the West I brought with me. From Dunes to Dior is the story of my life as an expat South Asian woman in the heart of the Middle East. Get it on Amazon.

About the Author: Six eBooks ago, Mohana joined the e-book revolution and now she dreams in plot lines. Visit Mohana on her website, Twitter, Facebook, or GoodReads.

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Thank you to Mohanalakshmi Rajakumar for an interesting interview, and to Novel Publicity for supplying the copy and illustrations (including the picture of the author, below).

As always, if you have any comments or questions, please do leave them below.

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Friday, October 05, 2012

Why Writers Should Always "Give It A Week"

"Give it a week" is a piece of advice I heard many years ago when I was starting out as a freelance writer.

I believe the phrase is commonly used in advertising agencies, though as I've never worked in one of these myself I can't confirm this - I simply read it in a book, the rest of which I've long forgotten.

Anyway, the idea behind the advice is that, before signing off any piece of work, you should put it to one side for a week. When you return to it, with fresh eyes you are almost bound to see ways in which it can be improved.

Of course, in our frenetic world, you may not always have a week to spare - but even if you can only give it a day, the principle still applies.

I have always tried to apply this guideline in my writing, and when I haven't I've often regretted it. I think there are two reasons why it is such a worthwhile principle to follow.

First, you return to the project with fresh eyes. It's a well-known fact that if you spend hours continuously working on a project, you become so close to it you no longer see "obvious" mistakes and infelicities - e.g. repetition of the same long word within a couple of sentences. This is otherwise known as the "can't see the wood for the trees" phenomenon.

But, even more important, if you leave the project for a while, you give your intuitive right brain the chance to come up with its own suggestions. Readers of my course Write Any Book in Under 28 Days will know that I'm a big believer in the right brain, left brain theory - the idea that we all have in effect two brains, a rational, logical left brain and an intuitive right one.

The right brain cannot communicate directly the way the left brain does - instead it works by sending ideas bubbling through in dreams and moments of inspiration. Giving the right brain time and space to work often results in better ideas than if you just sit down and try to complete an entire project in one sitting.

Personally, I find that a lot of my best ideas come when I am doing something totally unconnected to writing. Best of all, for some bizarre reason, is gardening, but shopping, walking, driving and washing up are also good.

On the other hand, I can't say I have ever had any especially good ideas whilst watching TV - I think it's because TV occupies all our senses and drowns out any attempt by our intuitive right brain to communicate with us.

Anyway, my main point is, when you think you've finished any writing project, if you possibly can, set it to one side for a week, then return to it for a final revision. I'll be amazed if you don't find mistakes you didn't notice before, and sections you can polish and sharpen.

If you don't have a week, give it a day at least, but any break before tackling the final version is better than none. Otherwise, I can guarantee that, soon after pressing the "Send" button, you will think of at least three ways the work in question could have been improved!

Note: This is an updated version of an MWB classic post originally published in 2006.

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