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Friday, May 31, 2013

Some End of May Reminders!

It's the end of May today, so I just wanted to remind you about a few deadlines that are coming up...

First (and foremost!), KindleFever starts tomorrow. This is the challenge on my forum to publish an e-book on the Kindle platform by the end of June.

Anyone is welcome to join in KindleFever, although I hope the event will appeal especially to Kindle newbies, who may benefit from the support and encouragement of those who have done it before.

But I hope (and intend) that everyone taking part will benefit, not only through exchanging tips and advice on our dedicated KindleFever board, but also by helping one another promote our KindleFever e-books once they are written.

You can either write your e-book from scratch or - as many are doing - adapt an existing work for the Kindle platform.

Your e-book can be fiction, nonfiction, poetry, children's, or something else. The only "rule" is that you MUST publish it in the month of June. Previously published e-books won't count and won't be eligible for promotion by other members or on the forum (except separately on our Self Publishing Central board).

If you haven't yet signed up for KindleFever, you can do so here. It's all free, of course, although you will need to register as a member of my forum at www.mywriterscircle.com if you haven't already.

I did just want to remind you as well that anyone taking part in KindleFever is eligible for a 50 percent discount on my downloadable Kindle Kash course.

This is a comprehensive guide to devising, writing, editing, formatting, publishing and promoting a Kindle e-book. If you're looking for advice on any (or all) of these subjects, I highly recommend it (naturally!), especially with my publisher's half-price coupon deal. Just bear in mind that the offer expires at the end of June 2013.

Visit this blog post to find out how you can claim your 50 percent discount on Kindle Kash.

In addition, my colleagues at Inspire 3 have a free offer expiring today. This is for their 15-minute "Focus" MP3 that uses binaural beats and other cutting-edge technologies to entrain your brain to the correct frequencies for focusing on a task. I mentioned their offer in this post earlier this month.

I've had some great feedback on the Focus MP3, incidentally, including one reader who claims it has changed her life! Thanks, Radio Vicky FM. You can see one of her tweets below...


Just click through here to claim your free Focus MP3 from Inspire3 before the offer is taken down

Also closing shortly (tomorrow, actually) is the contest on my near-neighbor Sally Jenkins' blog, to win a free critique from her for your short story. All you have to do to enter is leave a comment on her blog post and Sally (an award-winning short-story writer) will pick a winner at random.

That's all for now, so see you again in June!

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Thursday, May 30, 2013

Who, Whom, Whoever, Whomever - How to Decide Which is Right!

It's been a while since I discussed a grammatical topic on my blog, so today I thought I'd address a problem area that arises quite often on my forum. It concerns the use of the word who and its variations whom, whoever and whomever.

Grammatically speaking, who is a relative pronoun. The relative pronouns (who/whoever/which/that) relate groups of words to nouns or other pronouns - for example, "The writer who works the hardest usually achieves the most." Here the word who connects or relates the subject, the writer, to the verb within the dependent clause (works).

One major source of confusion among writers is when they should use who and when whom. Of course, in spoken English today the word whom is seldom used, and many people simply use who in every context.

In written English, however, and formal English especially, the distinction is still preserved.

The rule is that who is used when it refers to the subject of a sentence, and whom when it refers to the object.

Often, the simplest way to decide which version is correct is to re-phrase the sentence so you choose between he (the subject form of the third person singular pronoun) and him (the object form). If you want him, write whom; if you want he, write who. The examples below should make this clearer.

Who do you think is responsible? (Do you think he is responsible?
Tell the officer who has done this. (Tell the officer he has done this.)
Whom shall we ask to the party? (Shall we ask him to the party?)
Everybody knows whom I mean. (Everybody knows I mean him.)

Choosing between whoever and whomever can be even trickier. There are two rules to guide you here.

Rule 1: First of all, use the ever suffix when who or whom can fit into two clauses in the sentence.

Example: Give it to whoever/whomever asks for it first.
Give it to him. He asks for it first.

Rule 2: Now, to determine whether to use whoever or whomever, follow the rule below.
him + he = whoever
him + him = whomever

In the example above, the first clause contains him and the second one he. Following the rule above, this means that whoever is correct.
Give it to whoever asks for it first.

Here is a further example:
We will hire whoever/whomever you recommend.

The two clauses here are:
We will hire him. You recommend him

In this case, the first clause has him and the second also has him. The rule tells us that whomever is the correct form here.

We will hire whomever you recommend.

Even experienced writers and editors sometimes slip up over when to use whoever and when whomever. One reason may be that the word often follows a preposition such as to or from, and we are accustomed to anything following a pronoun taking the object form. (Give it to him. Take it from me. He’s with her.)

However, in a sentence such as "We will give the award to whoever performs best", the object of the preposition to is not whoever but the clause "whoever performs best", and whoever is the subject of this clause.

This means you should check any such instances carefully, using the rules set out above. As a final test of your skills, see if you can decide which form is correct in the sentences below. The asterisks can represent who, whom, whoever or whomever.

1. It doesn’t matter ***** you choose.
2. Do you know ***** is going to the conference?
3. She gave gifts to ***** she liked best.
4. ***** arrives first will win the first prize.
5. She asked me ***** I was with last night.

The correct answers can be found at the bottom of this post.

Even if (to sound more life-like) you choose to have your fictional characters say "who" rather than "whom", it's still important to understand the grammatical rules governing the use of these terms.

In my view, professional writers should always understand when they are breaking the rules of grammar and their reasons for doing so. Understanding the rules will also help you avoid the potentially more embarrassing mistake of using "whom" when actually "who" is correct.

I do hope you found this post helpful. As ever, if you have any queries, please feel free to post them below.

Quiz answers – 1. whom. 2. who. 3. whomever. 4. whoever. 5. whom.

Wordcloud by courtesy of Wordle
 

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Monday, May 27, 2013

Using Amazon KDP's New Cover Creator

If you're a Kindle author, did you know that you can now create a cover image for your e-book on the KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) website?

Their new Cover Creator is still in Beta, but I understand that most KDP members (with the exception of those in Japan) are now able to access it.

I've been experimenting with it using my illustrated sci-fi novella The Festival on Lyris Five, so in this post I thought I'd set out my findings.

To use the new Cover Creator, you first have to log in to Kindle Direct Publishing. Of course, this is where you can upload new Kindle e-books, but you can also try out the Cover Creator by editing an existing title (which is what I did).

If you're doing likewise, from your "Bookshelf" on KDP select the title you want to edit and scroll down to item 4 "Upload or Create a Cover". Select "I want to edit my cover design using the Cover Creator (beta)", as shown in the screen capture below...

The Cover Creator will now load. I found this quite straightforward to use. The software has just three tabs: "Choose Design", "Style and Edit" and "Preview".

In "Choose Design" you can select from a range of photographs on which to base your cover design (you also have the option of uploading your own photo, as long as you have the necessary reproduction rights).

There isn't a huge range of photos - I'd say about 100 - but presumably more will be added in time. They are organized into categories, so you can browse a selection of images that are deemed relevant to travel, business, science, and so on.

Once you've clicked on a photo to choose it, the Cover Creator will show you a variety of ways it can be integrated with your book's title, strapline, author name, and so on. The software will also generate some quite attractive non-photo-based covers for your consideration. You can pick the design you like best, and then click through to the "Style and Edit" tab (see below) to fine tune it as you wish.


As ever, you can see a larger version of the image above by clicking on it.

On the Style and Edit page you can try a range of different fonts (as you can see I went for something suitably futuristic for my story). You can also see the effect of various pre-styled color schemes, or go entirely off-piste and apply your own.

Once you're happy with what you've come up with, clicking through to the Preview tab will let you see how your cover will look in the Kindle Store and - if you're happy with this - accept the changes and publish. Of course, you can always change your mind and switch back to your previous cover if you wish.

Overall, I was impressed with the capabilities of the Cover Creator, which compares well with some standalone cover-design software I've tried in the past. Obviously, the results won't be as good as you might get from a professional designer, but it should still be possible to generate something quite passable.

I particularly like the way the Cover Creator shows you lots of options and variations based on your initial image selection, and has its own pre-set color schemes and page configurations you can select from if you don't want to start completely from scratch.

As far me, I'm keeping my new cover for a while, although I may well switch back to the original, quirkier design (see below) by my talented illustrator Louise Tolentino at some point. Still, as a non-designer myself, I'm quite pleased with the one I made using the Cover Creator!


If you have any comments or questions about the KDP Cover Creator, please feel free to post them below.

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Thursday, May 23, 2013

Kindle Worlds Lets Authors Make Money From Fan Fiction - But Only If They're American!

This week Amazon announced a new publishing initiative called Kindle Worlds.

This is an opportunity for authors to make money by publishing their own fan fiction on Kindle.

Amazon is arranging licensing deals for the books, films and TV shows concerned, so it's all above board. Fan fiction authors will share any royalties generated with the rights holders. Amazon has secured licenses for Gossip Girl, Pretty Little Liars, and The Vampire Diaries, with more on the way according to the launch announcement.

The Kindle Worlds project has generated much discussion in the blogosphere, with some enthusiastic, but others - such as Cortnee Howard on the Best Damn Creative Writing Blog - arguing that it is simply encouraging plagiarism.

Personally, though, I don't buy that argument. As I see it, if Amazon have licensing deals in place and royalties are divided between authors and copyright-holders, surely it's a win-win for everyone?

TV shows like Star Trek, Buffy and Doctor Who have had spin-off books published under license for many years, so I don't see anything radically different about Kindle Worlds. Obviously, there will be issues about quality control, and probably the rights holders will want to issue guidelines about what types of plot are and are not acceptable to them (they might want to exclude hardcore sex scenes, for example). Again, this has happened plenty of times in the past - with Virgin Publishing's series of Doctor Who books, for example.

Some commentators seem to be concerned that fan fiction authors will be passing off such books as (entirely) their own, but I don't see that for one moment. It will be quite obvious that any such book is fan fiction - indeed, that is the main reason it will sell. The author will deserve a credit, of course, but that doesn't mean they are claiming to have invented the original concept. Personally, if a share of royalties was on offer, I wouldn't even mind if my name wasn't mentioned on the book at all!

What does disappoint me, however, is that Kindle Worlds is restricted to US authors. Non-Americans aren't even allowed to sign up for email updates on the project.

This seems a perverse decision by Amazon to me. Obviously, the first three franchises are all US TV shows, but considering they are broadcast in many other countries as well, I don't see why that would be any obstacle.

I can accept that, for licensing reasons, Amazon might want fiction under the Kindle Worlds banner only to be available in the US initially. But still, why discriminate against non-US authors? Writing nowadays, more than ever, is a global industry, and it's perfectly possible for non-US authors to create work that would be enjoyed by a US readership (the opposite is manifestly the case too).

So I really hope that Amazon's decision to limit Kindle Worlds to US authors is just temporary, to simplify the admin, rather than a long-term strategic decision. That being the case, I think they should at least make updates and information available to non-US writers immediately, and open it up to writers from anywhere in the world as soon as humanly possible.

That's my view anyway, but what do YOU think? Do you welcome Kindle Worlds, or think it is a step too far by Amazon? And what about their decision to restrict it to US authors? Please post any comments below!

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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Kindle Kash is Half Price for KindleFever!


As you may know, next month is KindleFever on my forum at www.mywriterscircle.com.

It's a challenge to publish an e-book on the Kindle platform by the end of June. This can be an e-book you write specially for KindleFever, or it could be something you've already written and want to try publishing in this form. Either way, I hope and intend that KindleFever will give you the incentive - and support from fellow writers - to get it done.

And the big news today is that I've managed to persuade my publishers (and sponsors) The Self Development Network to repeat their very popular half-price offer on my downloadable Kindle Kash course - except this time it's not just for one day but from now until the end of June!

That means if you need a bit help with devising, writing, editing, formatting, publishing and/or promoting your Kindle e-book, you can get Kindle Kash for just $13.50 instead of the usual $27. For the benefit of my British readers, $13.50 is about 9 UK pounds! Now that really is what I call a bargain!

Those of you who have bought any of my writing products in the past will know that I like to deliver value, and I believe Kindle Kash is no exception to this. OK, it was admittedly published a little while ago, so the advice on promotional methods is no longer cutting edge (although still almost entirely relevant). However, the other advice and information is still as detailed and accurate as you will find anywhere, and the growing roster of authors who have published their first e-books on Kindle after following the advice in Kindle Kash is testament to this.

To buy Kindle Kash at half price till the end of KindleFever, just click though this link to the sales page (or on the banner below) and enter the coupon code KINDLEFEVER at the checkout. The total due should then be reduced by 50 percent.

Please remember that this offer is for the duration of KindleFever only, and the coupon code will expire after midnight (New York time) on 30 June 2013. Don't delay too long and miss out!

Good luck, and if you haven't yet signed up, please do visit the KindleFever board and put your name down. Don't forget, at the end of KindleFever, we will all be helping one another get publicity, reviews, "likes", tags, and so on - so I'm confident it will be win-win all the way for everyone taking part!

If you have any queries about KindleFever or Kindle Kash, of course, please feel free to post them below.

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Monday, May 20, 2013

Why Every Freelancer Should Get Screwed Over Once (But Never Again)


Today I'm pleased to bring you a guest post by author D.J. Francis (Daley).

Daley believes every new freelance is likely to be swindled by a dishonest client at some stage, but this can actually be a valuable experience so long as you learn a lesson from it...

* * *

From the moment a freelancer turns self-employed, their priorities change from when they were working for somebody else.

For a start, when you are employed by a company, all your tax and particulars are sorted out for you. They can be a massive pain in the backside when you're working for yourself.

Working for yourself gives you an opportunity to earn as much money as you can without having to consult anybody but yourself and your family (especially if you're sitting on the sofa staring at a laptop for 12 hours a day or more). The majority of jobs will pay you a set wage for 40 hours or thereabouts, and anything over that is unlikely to be paid.

For some people, having the luxury of unlimited earning potential is a blast, and if they have 5-10 fantastic clients they are far more likely to say this. If you're starting from scratch or are making most of your income from one-shot deals, it can be really tough. Mentally, starting from zero every month is a terrifying prospect.

In this instance, getting screwed over is likely to be a major setback, especially if you've spent plenty of hours over a period of time on the work. Although this opinion might not go down well with some people, I genuinely believe that being screwed over once is a great thing to happen to you, as long as you learn from it and never let it happen again.

Here are a few reasons why it's likely that all new freelancers will get screwed over that one time:
  • They haven't read up on advice from industry leaders and professionals
  • They've gotten desperate due to not finding enough work
  • They haven't been paid up front for their services
  • They haven't received a contract
  • They've gotten over excited and said "Yes" without thinking it through
How many people reading this are nodding along or smiling because you know at least one of these has happened to you. It’s certainly happened to me before. In fact, it was a mixture of almost all of them. I got screwed over, but I learned from it and I never let it happen again.

My Incident…

When I first went solo, I had a nice amount of work coming in from a handful of clients. I figured that I was set to cover what I was making from my old job in the first month and I would build up from there.

I couldn't have been more wrong.

By the time I came to the end of month one, four of my six clients had left or weren't responding to emails for a variety of reasons, and I quickly realised that this was going to happen a lot. Clients were going to come and go all of the time and I could never rest on my laurels. Suffice to say, I had a little panic, and it was during this period that I made my mistake.

I signed up to People Per Hour and started picking up odd writing jobs on there whilst sourcing new clients. It was keeping me ticking over, but I could feel the desperation kicking in a little. A guy got in touch with me and asked me to connect via Skype about some sales scripts he wanted me to write for him.

I got super excited and we chatted on Skype about the work, and I put together what he asked for really quickly, like a puppy desperate to impress. I'd been offered good money for the job and assumed that because we had spoken via Skype, all would be hunky dory. I was so naive and blinded by my own desperation that as soon as I handed the work over, the guy vanished from Skype and PPH, and I'd been screwed.

It took me a couple of days of anger and embarrassment to straighten myself up and write it off to experience, and when I think about it now, if I could go back in time and slap myself around the face, I would. But it taught me a valuable lesson about how you have to be all business at all times, and not allow your nice guy attitude get in the way of you getting paid for what you do.

Learn from the Experience

It was this experience that made me really knuckle down and focus on getting great clients and setting up a contract and invoice system that at least got me a contract or a slice of the money for a job up front. To paraphrase The Who: I won't get fooled again!

But I honestly believe that if I hadn't been fooled, I probably wouldn't be in the far better position I am now. It toughened me up and made me more business minded. Getting screwed over should be a catalyst to you becoming a better freelancer. Don't let it get you down and put you off if it happens to you. Dust yourself off and come back stronger.

Daley is a writer and film-maker who wants to help his fellow writers to get out there fully confident and armed with a great novel. He can be found struggling with his own career at www.daleyjfrancis.com.

* * *

Thank you to Daley for a thought-provoking article, which I could certainly relate to myself.

I've had my share of bad experiences with dishonest (or at least disorganized) clients. They included one guy whose cheques bounced not once but several times, incurring extra bank charges for me into the bargain. He always had a good sob story, but getting paid was a complete lottery, and after a while I realised I simply couldn't afford to go on working for him. And this, it must be said, was a guy who was running a nationally distributed home-computing magazine.

If you have any comments about this article, or stories of your own about deadbeat clients who have ripped you off, I'd love to hear them. Please post them as comments below!

Photo Credit: A Fool and His Money by CarbonNYC on Flickr. Reproduced under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic licence. 


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Friday, May 17, 2013

Guest Post: What Does a Book Publicist Really Do?


Today I am pleased to bring you a guest post from writer and publicist Paul McKergee.

Paul believes book publicists can provide valuable support to authors with their marketing campaigns, whether they are working with a publisher or publishing independently.

However, he also believes it is crucial that the author has a clear understanding of the role of a book publicist, in order to make a sound decision on whether (and when) to engage one...

* * *

Although the role of the publicist has changed as the book publishing world has changed, their basic role has not. They are still the conduit between the author and the media.

While their role for an author is dependent on a number of factors--not least of which are the author's needs--making the decision about whether an author needs a publicist begins with an understanding what a book publicist does.

An experienced book publicist uses their media connections--and their knowledge of how to present an author to these contacts--to gain press exposure in the form of feature stories, book reviews, author interviews, commentary, blog mentions, author written articles, op-ed pieces, and so on.

They also work with the author (as well as the publisher if the author is not self-published) to create media kits, write press releases, and set up book signings and blog tours. A book publicist helps authors create exposure for their brand and their book.

The most experienced and sought-after publicists have extensive connections with relevant editors, producers, guest bookers, columnists, freelance reporters and bloggers to try to generate targeted media exposure. Consequently, they can assist with article placement with journals, newspapers, and magazines (print and online), as well as pitch feature interviews to radio and television.

Book publicists may also arrange blog tours, solicit book reviews from genre specific book reviewers and bloggers, and help shape and give meaningful content to add to social media campaigns. The list is endless, and much of it will be dictated by the author's platform and goals, and the book's genre and audience.

Publicists are often employed in the marketing departments of larger publishing houses or are hired by publishers to work with their authors. Authors who are looking for broader book publicity support then offered by their publisher as well as self-published authors may also hire a book publicist to generate publicity.

Authors should weigh the pros and cons of hiring a publicist by understanding exactly what a publicist does, and then establishing realistic expectations through in-depth discussions before engaging their services. Whether an author is working with a traditional publisher or decides to self-publish, if book sales and building an audience is a goal, then authors will have to spend some time marketing their books.

In today's fragmented media landscape, even larger book publishing companies are making online and social media outreach key parts of their campaigns, with Facebook pages, Twitter, Goodreads, Shelfari and other social media tools to create a direct relationship with their readers. While social networking is crucial to marketing books, however, it's also just one piece in the marketing mix.

Today's book publicists integrate online and "traditional media" efforts as well as make sure all these efforts are appropriate for the target audiences and the author's goals.

A good book publicist will devise a plan to help the author in engaging every avenue suited to the author's target audience, including book bloggers, book reviewers, librarians, and editors and producers from local media, national and/or international media who cover the topics related to the book. The goal is to introduce the book to potential buyers.

It is imperative that a good publicist think like a journalist from the standpoint of what will interest the reader. Understanding the rules of the industry, which are ever-shifting, is as important as their knowing the rules of whom to pitch to, as well as how and when. Their insights come not only from their experience in the book publishing world, but their ongoing efforts to stay abreast of current news stories, trends, studies, etc. to adjust long-term messaging and spur new ideas. Book publicists must give the media useful and relevant information, and of course what is useful and relevant can change by the day.

Understanding the importance of local media, and networking with local media by going to media events like Press Clubs is never overlooked by an experienced book publicist. The goal is to help identify a local angle on a national story, which is always prized by local media.

While the needs of authors and their budget will dictate what the publicist will do for the author, a good book publicist provides some very important intangible assets. These will include acting as an information resource, giving concrete feedback about how their book is faring in the media, brainstorming ideas, and remaining the voice of reason to help keep the author grounded and focused. While knowing what a publicist does is an important first step in the decision process of whether an author should hire one or not, it is equally important for the author to understand their role in the client/publicist relationship.

Since every penny counts in an author's budget, considering affordable book publicist tactics is worth researching. A good publicist can help get the ball rolling, but cannot do the whole job for the author or the publisher. The author must be ready to make a considerable sweat equity investment and remain diligent in order to build their brand and gain fans of their work.

Byline: Paul McKergee is a freelance writer with a strong interest in book marketing, book promotion and the intersections of writing and technology. For more information visit Smith Publicity.

* * *

Thank you to Paul for an interesting insight into the work of a book publicist.

In my view, any author who is serious about getting his or her work into the best-seller lists should at least consider hiring a publicist at some stage. Obviously, there will be costs involved, but they may not be as much as you think, and can be an investment that pays off many times over.

Many book publicists and agencies offer fixed-cost packages for authors who want to keep their expenditure within tight limits, though you can of course always add to these later if things go well.

It should go without saying that you must have written a book you believe in wholeheartedly and are confident readers will enjoy. Assuming that is the case, an effective publicity campaign can set the ball rolling and create a growing torrent of media coverage.

Once this happens, word-of-mouth will hopefully take over and help you reach an even wider audience. It is, though, vitally important to generate enough media coverage to kick-start this process, and that is where a publicist can make such a valuable contribution.

If you have any comments or questions about book publicists for Paul (or me), please do leave them below.

Photo Credit: Eclipse Bookstore by brewbooks on Flickr. Reproduced under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 2.0 Generic licence.


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Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Two Contests for National Flash Fiction Day


National Flash Fiction Day is is the brainchild of Calum Kerr, a keen writer of flash fiction and advocate for the form. The first National Flash Fiction Day was held in May 2012, and this year's will be on 22 June 2013.

National Flash Fiction Day is a UK-led initiative, although anyone in the world is welcome to join in. For more information, including details of some local events, visit the National Flash Fiction Day website.

I know through my forum at www.mywriterscircle.com that there is a lot of interest in flash fiction, which can be loosely defined as stories of up to 500 words (though some definitions go up to 1000). There are a couple of opportunities to take part in this year's event that I thought you might therefore like to know about. Both are free to enter, incidentally.

The first is that contributions are currently being invited for the official National Flash Fiction Day anthology. Stories for this can be up to 500 words, but they must be connected to another work of art in the broadest sense. On the website, they say:
"This year we are looking for stories which take their place in the larger web of art. So we are looking for pieces which have been inspired by another work - a book, story, poem, painting, photograph, piece of music, or anything else artistic. It can be a direct relationship, or a loose one, an homage or a tangential glance which sparks the muse. We don't mind the connection, we just want to see how other works of art feed into your writing."
The deadline is Midnight GMT on Friday 17 May 2013 (just three days' time!), and submissions are welcome world-wide, with no restrictions. There is no prize (as far as I can tell), but you will be rubbing shoulders with some high-profile authors in a book that is likely to get plenty of publicity and media coverage.

For further information and details of how to submit your work, visit http://nationalflashfictionday.co.uk/anthology.html.

The other contest for which contributions are currently being invited is the #SJIBFS Flash Fiction Competition.This is being run by author Susi 'SJI' Holliday, in association with the British Fantasy Society.

Stories for this one must be between 350-500 words and must be previously unpublished in any form (including your own blog). They must be in the broad 'fantastical' genre, including science fiction, fantasy, horror, supernatural, magic realism, slipstream, and so on.

The closing date is a little further away - 3 June 2013 - and again it is open internationally. In addition to publication, the first, second and third placed stories will be published in the BFS Journal and will receive "a fantastic set of books" from HarperVoyager. In addition, the winner of first place will receive a copy of the fantasy classic Conan’s Brethren by Robert E. Howard (by courtesy of  Gollancz).

For full details of this contest and how to enter, visit http://sjihollidayblog.wordpress.com/sjibfs-flash-fiction-competition/.

Good luck, and happy flash fiction writing!


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Thursday, May 09, 2013

KindleFever is Coming Soon!

A quickie today to let you know about a brand new challenge coming up on my forum at myWritersCircle.com...

KindleFever!

KindleFever will be a challenge to publish a Kindle e-book in June. We are particularly keen to encourage people who haven't yet given Kindle publishing a try, to show them it's not as hard as they might think!

But it's also open to experienced Kindle self-publishers who feel they would benefit from a challenge to get another title on Amazon. Obviously, we hope that the more experienced Kindlers will assist those new to it, but I fully expect we will all learn from one another during the challenge. And yes, I will be taking part in KindleFever myself.

You can either write and publish a Kindle e-book from scratch during KindleFever, or else format and publish an existing work. All types of Kindle book are welcome, including novels, short stories, anthologies, nonfiction books, poetry, and so forth.

You don't HAVE to be a member of myWritersCircle to join in KindleFever, and the KindleFever board (see below) will be visible to non-members too. However, to take part in discussions, ask questions, and so on, you will of course need to be a member and logged in. It's free to join myWritersCircle and only takes a moment, so why not register now if you haven't already?

There will be many benefits to taking part in KindleFever. First, as mentioned above, we will be a community of writers all working toward a similar goal - so if you get stuck at any point, plenty of help and advice will be on hand.

In addition, as with all such challenges, you will have dozens - maybe more - of "accountability partners" to help motivate you and ensure you achieve your goal of publishing to Amazon by the end of June.

And one big extra benefit is that we hope and intend that everyone taking part in KindleFever will help other participants promote their newly-published books, by reviewing them, "liking" them, tagging them, and so on. This should help to ensure that they all have the best possible chance of making it into the Kindle best-seller lists!

A new KindleFever board will appear on myWritersCircle.com soon, where questions, resources and general chatter about the challenge can be found. Further news will be posted there as and when it becomes available.

So start planning your (next) Kindle e-book now!

UPDATE - The KindleFever board on myWritersCircle is now live at http://mywriterscircle.com/index.php?board=21.0. Check it out, register your intention to take part, and start writing!



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Sunday, May 05, 2013

Focus Better and Write More with this Free MP3 Audio

One of the keys to success as a writer is the ability to focus on a project to the exclusion of anything else.

Unfortunately, in this fast-moving world with its myriad distractions, getting focused - and staying there - can present a major challenge.

However, my friend Karl Moore and his colleagues at Inspire3 - creators of cutting-edge products such as the Brain Evolution System and Brain Salon - may have a solution for you - and right now it won't cost you a single penny!

This month they are giving away, free and without obligation, a 30-minute MP3 titled "Focus" from their Brain Salon suite.

This is an audio MP3, but it's not self-hypnosis or anything like that.

Rather, it uses a technique called brainwave entrainment to help users achieve the brainwave profile associated with the desired mental state - in this case, a razor-sharp focus on whatever project you are currently working on. Here is a link to the free "Focus" download page.

I should probably say a few words about how "Focus" and the other sessions in Brain Salon work. Various methods are used by the Inspire3 team to promote entrainment, but perhaps the most important is binaural beats. To explain this, I need to start with a bit of theory...

If you've studied psychology (which I have - a long time ago!), you'll know that scientists can measure the electrical activity in our brains using a device called an electroencephalogram (EEG). It has been known for a long time that different mental states are associated with different patterns of electrical activity.

Someone who is fully awake and alert will exhibit relatively high frequency, low amplitude, electrical activity patterns (15-40Hz), known as beta waves. Someone resting or meditating will produce lower frequency alpha waves of 9 to 14Hz. This state is often associated with creativity, and is the frequency that the Self Development Network's Writers Block CD (which also uses binaural beats) aims to entrain. Below that are theta waves (5-8Hz), associated with daydreaming and free-flowing thoughts - this is also a highly 'creative' frequency. And finally, there are delta waves (1.5 to 4Hz), the lowest frequency waves that occur in sleep.

Unfortunately, you can't just entrain someone's mind by playing them sounds at these frequencies, as in general they are below most people's hearing thresholds. However, it has been discovered that if you play sounds of slightly different frequencies to each ear, they combine within the brain to create a low frequency resonance. If you play a tone of 320Hz in one ear and 330Hz in the other, for example, it will create a resonance at a frequency of 10Hz - the difference between them. 10Hz is an alpha wave frequency; so by using this method, your brain can be entrained into a high alpha state.

This does mean that to get the best results from "Focus" you should really listen to it via headphones so that the binaural beat effect can work optimally. It's not essential, however, as other entrainment techniques are used as well, and if you listen via stereo speakers you will still get some of the binaural effect.

I hope you will download and try out the Focus MP3 yourself while it's on free offer. I'd love to hear any thoughts about it you may have - please post them as comments below. I will aim to write a more in-depth review of the whole Brain Salon suite on my blog before too long.

Photo Credit: Wellspring of Focus by woodleywonderworks on Flickr. Reproduced under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic licence.

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