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Thursday, January 30, 2014

Upgrading My Office Part 1 - Wireless Mouse
At the start of this year I decided I needed to upgrade some of the technology in my office, which was beginning to look a bit tired. I thought perhaps my experiences might be of interest to my blog readers as well.

In this first article I'm featuring the smallest item, a wireless mouse. In future articles I'll be focusing on my new wireless keyboard, variable-height desktop, and PC. There may be one or two other things as well. I'll see how it goes, and how far my budget stretches!

First up then is my new wireless mouse. I know this isn't exactly radical, but until now I've always made do with a conventional wired mouse. However, the cable from my old one was barely long enough for my set-up and tended to snag on things. And after being impressed by the snazzy wireless mouse a writer friend had recently acquired, I decided it was definitely something I needed as well!

After doing some research on Amazon, I opted for the highly rated TeckNet M002 2.4G Nano wireless mouse. I've posted a picture of this at the top of this post.

So far I've been very happy with this device. It's a bit smaller than my old mouse, and fits comfortably in the palm of my hand. Because it's wireless you have to put in a single AA battery (not supplied) but these are of course very cheap, and a battery supposedly lasts for around 18 months.

You also have to plug a little transceiver (shown separately in the picture above) into your computer using a spare USB port. This is, of course, provided with the mouse. Mine fitted in very neatly, with enough protruding so that you can easily remove it if required, but not so much that it would be in the way on a laptop (though as I use a desktop PC, that wasn't an issue for me).

I would just comment that if you are thinking of buying a wireless keyboard as well, there is a case for buying both of the same make (e.g. Logitech) or buying a wireless keyboard and mouse set (such as the Microsoft Wireless Desktop 800 Keyboard and Mouse combo). That way, you may be able to get away with using just a single USB transceiver, rather than the two I ended up with!

One thing I didn't immediately realize with this mouse is that you can adjust the speed (or sensitivity) using the button on the top, just up from the scroll wheel. Originally it was on the highest setting, so I barely had to move it and the cursor careered madly around the screen!

I subsequently discovered that you can step through the three possible settings by clicking the button. It then flashes once if you are on the slowest setting, twice with the middle setting, and three times with the fastest. I found the middle setting worked best for me.

There are a couple of other small buttons on the side of the mouse. These are back-page and forward-page. They work on web pages, but not on word-processing documents and such like. I can't say I use them very much, but at least they're not in the way when not required.

There is the usual scroll wheel on the top, which can also be clicked to enable fast-scroll (and some other application-specific uses).

The mouse has an on-off switch at the bottom, although it switches itself off anyway if you have been inactive for a while. This threw me at first, but you can easily start it again by clicking or turning the scroll wheel. It's a battery-saving feature, and you soon get used to "waking up" your mouse when required!

Overall, as I said above, I've been very happy with my purchase of the TeckNet M002 2.4G Nano wireless mouse, and am definitely a convert to this type of mouse now.

I hope you find these comments helpful if you are thinking of switching to a wireless mouse. If you have any comments or questions, of course, please feel free to post them below. And watch out for further updates on my new office equipment very soon!

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Monday, January 27, 2014

Review: KDP Select Cracked

KDP Select  Cracked is a new product for Kindle authors just launched by UK author Mavis Amouzou-Akue (aka Jenny Collins).

Mavis was kind enough to offer me a review copy, so here's what I found..

The product comprises four PDF reports and an Excel (.xls) spreadsheet, which (as you might expect) are all contained within a compressed Zip file.

The main manual is a 21-page PDF. It sets out an eight-step guide to writing, publishing and marketing a Kindle e-book (fiction or non-fiction) with the aid of KDP Select free promos.

The manual is well written, and illustrated with screen captures where appropriate. It doesn't go into great detail about writing and formatting your book, but of course plenty of information is available about this elsewhere (including one of the bonus reports, discussed below).

Plenty of useful free and low-cost resources are revealed, some of which were new to me (and would have justified the modest asking price alone). They include inexpensive ghost-writers, book cover designers, and so on. There is also a list of Facebook groups where you may be able to find Amazon reviewers for your book/s.

The main selling point of KDP Select Cracked is that it reveals how, for $25, you can get your e-book featured on a popular free e-books site, which should ensure hundreds of free downloads during the promo period. Based on Mavis's experience - set out in the case studies PDF - this should generate many more reviews and (even more important) sales once the promo is over.

Mavis explains exactly how she sets up her KDP Select free promos in conjunction with her recommended service. The results that she has obtained (documented with screen captures from Amazon) are undeniably impressive.

Aside from the main manual and case studies, you also get a Fast Track Blueprint, which is basically a cut-down version of the manual for people who already have a Kindle e-book they want to promote - so it focuses mainly on the KDP Select free promos.

You also get a 40-page Kindle Marketing and Publishing Newbie Guide, which aims to bring people new to Kindle publishing up to speed as quickly as possible. It's a useful addition, though much of the information it contains will of course be familiar to published Kindle authors already.

Finally, you get a spreadsheet which is designed to help you plan your KDP Select free promotions. This provides estimated profit figures based on selling 50 or 100 copies of your e-book after each promo, and you can play around with different scenarios as the necessary calculations are built in. Assuming you achieve a similar level of sales to what Mavis achieved after each promo, the cumulative earnings potential of this method is considerable.

KDP Select Cracked is currently on offer for just under $10. If you're looking for a simple, step-by-step method for ramping up your e-book sales by means of free promos - which has clearly proved very successful for the author - it's definitely worthy of your consideration.

If you have any comments or questions about KDP Select Cracked, as ever, please feel free to post them below.

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Sunday, January 26, 2014

Guest Post: The Newly Evolved Version of the Mary Sue

Today I have another syndicated guest post for you by Shay Goodman from the excellent Write Divas blog.

In her article, Shay takes a look at a particular character stereotype she believes is changing radically in modern fiction. If you write fiction aimed at female readers in particular, this is a trend it is important to be aware of, to avoid your book looking hopelessly dated.
Divas on Writing: The Newly Evolved Version of the Mary Sue (via
Today, we are going to talk about the evolving nature of the much beloved loathed character staple, the Mary Sue. So what is a Mary Sue exactly? There are several definitions of a Mary Sue and even several versions of a Mary Sue. She’s a character…

* * *

Thank you to Shay for another excellent, thought-provoking article. If you have any comments or questions, as ever, please feel free to post them below.

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Thursday, January 23, 2014

AK Booster Pro - Review and Bonuses

AK Booster Pro is a new #Kindle research and marketing tool, launched yesterday by Ben Murray and Abhi Dwivedi.

Ben and Abhi were kind enough to allow me reviewer access, so here are my initial impressions. AK Booster Pro is actually quite a simple tool to install and use. It runs on the Adobe Air platform, so it will work on Macs as well as Windows computers.

When you launch AK Booster Pro you will see the following...

As always, you can see a larger version of this image by clicking on it. Use the Back button on your browser to return here.

The main menu at the top has four tabs. As you will notice,  these are Niche Finder, Submitter and Reviewer, plus an Exit button.

As you might gather, Niche Finder is a niche research tool. You can enter any keyword (or keyword phrase) you wish and click on Get Keywords. The software then searches Amazon and displays a list of related search terms, ranked according to popularity. This information comes from Amazon itself, not Google or any other services.

If you see any terms you want to explore further,  you can click on Get Scores. Enter your chosen phrase here, and the software will show you a Demand Score (reflecting the level of interest in the search term), a Competition Score (reflecting the number of competing titles) and a Total Score, which sums up the marketability of the term in question. The higher the Title Score (the maximum is 100), the better the software reckons is the potential of that term.

The next tab is titled Submitter. When you click on this, here is the page you will see...

This page has links to 55 (by my count) websites that are willing to publicize e-books when they are on free promos.

The links take you directly to the sites' submission pages. You will still have to visit the sites one by one and fill out their forms, but this is nonetheless a useful feature that should save you quite a bit of time when publicizing your KDP free promotions.

Lastly, here is what you see when you click on the Reviewer tab...

This section is designed to help you find potential reviewers for an e-book. Again, you start by entering your keyword or keyword phrase. You can then search for people who have reviewed books meeting this description not only on Amazon, but on Goodreads and Facebook as well. The latter is an unusual feature which I haven't seen offered in Kindle market research software before, even in premium products such as KD Suite and AK Elite and Kinstant Dashboard

As I said above, the software is pretty easy to get the hang of, but there are three help videos in the training area that cover the three main sections mentioned above.

I should mention as well that you should also receive a range of unannounced and valuable bonuses, including Kindle writing guides, PLR content and Amazon themes and plugins for WordPress.

I say the bonuses are unannounced, but as I am a "VIP affiliate" on this launch, you can see what the bonuses are by visiting my dedicated Bonuses page. If you order via this page, you should find that  all the items described are in the Bonus section of the members area when you log in. If you order elsewhere, I can't promise that will be the case.

Overall, I thought AK Booster Pro was a good-quality, low-cost tool for Kindle authors, and with the extra bonuses especially I think it is good value for money. It doesn't offer all the bells and whistles of KD Suite, which is still my favorite Kindle research software, but it's a lot quicker to learn, and about a sixth of the price. Plus (as mentioned above) it has the Facebook and Goodreads reviewer search, which other tools don't.

One small criticism of AK Booster Pro is that you have to re-enter your search term on every tab, and even within the Niche Finder tab when you go from Get Keywords to Get Scores. It would be nice - and save some time - if it could be copied over automatically.

That aside, if you want a quick and straightforward Kindle research and marketing tool, AK Booster Pro should tick a lot of boxes for you. Please visit my bonuses page for more information including a video, and click through to order.

And if you have any comments or questions about AK Booster Pro, of course, just leave a comment below!

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Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Blog Engage Guest Blogging Contest Update

In this post last week I talked about the Blog Engage Guest Blogging Contest, a free to enter contest for bloggers, with $500 worth of prizes.

I thought I'd do an update today for a couple of reasons. One is to let you know that my own entry "Seven Top Tips for Beating Information Overload" has been posted on the Blog Engage blog, and invite you to read and share it.

As you may recall, this contest is judged not only by the quality of the entry but also by how many social media shares, "likes", comments and so on it attracts. So all help in this department will be very much appreciated!

My other reason for writing is to provide a few more tips for anyone who may be thinking of entering this contest (which closes for entries on February 15). I do appreciate that some aspects of this contest take a bit of getting your head around, especially if you are not a Blog Engage member already.

As I said in my earlier post, the first thing you have to do is publish a post about the contest on your own blog, including links to the sponsors' websites. Obviously I understand that some bloggers won't want to do this for various reasons. That's your prerogative, of course, but in that case you simply won't be able to enter the contest. You are very welcome to adapt my earlier post for this purpose if you like.

Once you have done that, you can write your post, which should be between 900 and 2000 words. I've copied the other rules from the Blog Engage Contest Info page again below...

* You may have as many links as you wish in the body of the content. However, please limit links to your projects or websites to your bio. Absolutely no affiliate links allowed. The links should be relevant to the post.
* Your bio must have a Gravatar. Please use a picture of yourself and not a logo.
* Keep your post relevant to the overall theme of this blog. You can write about any of the following topics: Making Money Online, Blogging Tips, Traffic, Design, Social Networking, SEO, Marketing, Technology and other industry or niche specific topics you think  Blog Engage members would be interested in reading.
* All images must be picked and sent from Free Digital Images.

Regarding Gravatars, these are standard profile images that can be used across a range of websites and are linked to your email address. You may well have one set up already, but if not it only takes a moment to do this at the Gravatar website. Be sure you use the same email address as the one you intend to use for Blog Engage. Your Gravatar image will then be displayed automatically in your bio.

As regards images, you don't have to use one, of course, but if you do, the rules say it must come from Free Digital Images. You can pick an image there and copy the full URL of the page it comes from. It's not possible to upload images directly with your post (as far as I can see) so you will need to email or message Blog Engage owner Brian Belfitt separately with the image URL once your post has been uploaded. That's what I did anyway!

Once you are ready to submit your guest post, you should register as a user on the Blog Engage blog . This is a WordPress blog and you can register free of charge here. Note that this is different from the main Blog Engage website.

Now contact Brian at Blog Engage to tell him the URL of your post on your own blog (the one advertising the contest). You can use the online contact form for this. State that you wish to enter the Guest Blogging Contest and ask him to upgrade your account so you can post your contest entry. Don't forget to mention the user name you chose when registering on the Blog Engage blog. You should also ask for a free standard Blog Engage account to be created for you if you aren't a member already (this is a perk of entering the contest). Brian will then set everything up for you, and you should be able to upload your contest entry to the BE blog.

The Blog Engage blog is, as mentioned, a WordPress blog, so once you are in, you will find yourself on the standard WordPress dashboard page. Set up your profile here, with links to your own blog and any social media platforms you belong to. You can then add your post by going to the Posts page and clicking on New Post.

You can preview your post to see how it will look, but you can't actually publish it yourself. Rather, once you are happy with how it looks, click on the button on the right to send it "for review". Brian will then look it over, make any necessary changes or corrections, and then publish it on the blog. He is normally very quick to respond, but it isn't a bad idea to email or message him to let him know you have submitted your article and tell him the URLs for any images you would like included.

And that's it, basically. All you have to do then is start promoting your article, using whatever tools and platforms you have at your disposal. As mentioned, Brian will set up a free standard membership account at Blog Engage for you as well, and obviously you can use this to help promote your article too. Blog Engage is essentially a community of bloggers who help one another promote their blogs, and it offers various tools and resources to help do this.

Good luck entering this contest (and, once again, don't forget to check out my own contest entry!). And if you do decide to enter, please feel free to post the URL of your entry below and I will then be happy to help promote it via Twitter, Facebook, and so on

If you have any comments or questions about the contest, again, do post them below, though bear in mind that I have only just joined Blog Engage myself and make no claim to being an expert on it. If you need specific advice on the submission procedure, Brian Belfitt is likely to be your man!

* Don't forget also that my own guest posting contest is open for entries until 31 January. You can read all about it here. The prizes are smaller, but it is at least a bit simpler to enter!

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Monday, January 20, 2014

PLR Time Again for UK Authors

If you're a UK author registered for PLR, as from today you can check your earnings for 2012/13 on the UK PLR website. Just log in here and click on My Statement.

This year (covering July 2012 to June 2013) they are paying 6.20 pence per library loan. Payment will be made between 13 and 22 February 2014, in accordance with your payment instructions.

For those who don't know, PLR (in this context) stands for Public Lending Right. The UK PLR Office distributes money to UK authors based on the number of times their books have been borrowed from public libraries in Britain in the last year. This money is paid to authors as compensation for their presumed lost royalties on sales.

All UK authors are eligible for PLR (even if they don't currently live in Britain), but you do have to register with the UK PLR Office first. If you're a UK author with at least one published book to your name, therefore, you should sign up immediately to get what is due to you.

Non-UK nationals cannot claim from the UK PLR Office, but many other countries (though not the USA) have schemes in place to compensate writers for library lending. Australia, for example, has what appears to be quite a generous program, though payments are based on the estimated number of copies of an author's book in libraries, not total loans. For more information on PLR schemes worldwide, visit the PLR International website.

In many countries there are also reciprocal arrangements to compensate non-nationals for lending in the country concerned. In Britain this is co-ordinated by ALCS (the Authors' Licensing and Collecting Society), and UK authors should also register separately with them. ALCS also collect and pay photocopying fees due to UK authors, incidentally.

I always find it interesting to study my PLR statement. One message that comes across very clearly in the latest one is that library lending is down considerably. One reason for this is likely to be that  people are switching to e-books and the Internet. In addition, though, cuts made by local councils mean that there are simply fewer public libraries than there were before.

On the brighter side, I am still earning some PLR money from books that were published quite a few years ago. My book The Internet for Writers was published in 1999, for example, and must be of purely historical interest now. Still, it got borrowed from libraries 44 times last year, earning me the princely sum of £2.73!

Over the years I have made literally thousands of pounds from PLR and ALCS payments; in the case of some books I have earned more from these sources than I have in publisher fees or royalties. So if you're a UK author, it is definitely worth taking the few minutes needed to register yourself and your book/s with UK PLR and ALCS. Otherwise, you really are leaving money on the table!

Photo credit: Alan Cleaver on Flickr.

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Friday, January 17, 2014

The Blog Engage $500 Guest Blogging Contest is Now Open!

You wait ages for a guest blogging contest, and then two come along together...

My own guest blogging contest is open for entries until the end of this month, and has a top prize of $50. I do hope you will enter!

However, I just heard about another guest blogging contest with $500 worth of prizes, a prize fund which rather puts mine in the shade!

If you haven't heard about Blog Engage, it's a popular blogging community. Members help one another promote their blogs and get more visitors. In addition, they benefit from being listed on the Blog Engage website and various promotional activities that Blog Engage themselves perform (e.g. promotions via JustRetweet). If you're a blogger, it's a site you should definitely check out.

The rules for their current Guest Blogging Contest are copied below...

* Guest posts must be at least 900 words, not to exceed 2000 words.
* You may have as many links as you wish in the body of the content. However, please limit links to your projects or websites to your bio. Absolutely no affiliate links allowed. The links should be relevant to the post.
* Your bio must have a Gravatar. Please use a picture of yourself and not a logo.
* Keep your post relevant to the overall theme of this blog. You can write about any of the following topics: Making Money Online, Blogging Tips, Traffic, Design, Social Networking, SEO, Marketing, Technology and other industry or niche specific topics you think  Blog Engage members would be interested in reading.
* All images must be picked and sent from Free Digital Images.

In addition, all would-be entrants are asked to publish a post about the contest on their own blog including a list of the contest sponsors' websites. As I am planning to enter the contest myself, you will find this list at the foot of the current post. The actual HTML you are asked to use is provided.

The contest is open for entries until February 15 2014. When the entry deadline is closed all contestants will be given an additional 15 days to market and promote their guest blog articles. The three winners will then be announced on February 28, 2014. The first prize is $250, the second prize $150 and the third $100.

A further benefit of entering the contest is that everyone doing so will be able to claim a free Blog Engage standard account worth $19.95 annually (this also means that entering the contest is free, of course).

To claim your free account, once you have posted your initial article about the contest, you should register as a user on the Blog Engage blog (where you will be posting your contest entry). This is a WordPress blog and you can register free of charge here.

Now contact Blog Engage to tell them the URL of your initial post. You can use their online contact form for this. If you aren't already a Blog Engage member, state that you intend to enter the Guest Blogging Contest and ask for a free standard account to be set up for you. Tell them your Blog Engage blog user name as well. They will then set up your account for you, and you should be able to upload your contest entry to the site.

As for how the winners will be chosen, the idea is that you promote your guest blog article on BlogEngage and try to get as much social activity and as many blog comments as possible. The winners will be chosen by BlogEngage themselves, based on the quality of the articles but also the amount of comments and social activity they generate.

For full details of the Blog Engage 2014 Guest Blogging Contest, please click this link to the Contest Information Page.

Good luck, and if you have any comments about the contest, please feel free to post them below!

Contest Sponsors

Guest Blogging
Garden Directory
Go Garden Guides
Just Gardening Fun
Segura Trading
Hydroponic Production
Earth Care Greenhouses


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Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Review: Kindle Giveaway Guru

Today I am reviewing Kindle Giveaway Guru, a brand new guide by Mike and Joe Balmaceda, which has just been launched as a WSO (Warrior Special Offer) on The Warrior Forum.

Kindle Giveaway Guru is guide to making money, getting reviews and building your list by giving away your Kindle e-book (or any other downloadable product).

And before anyone asks, no, it's not (yet) another guide to making the most of free KDP Select promotions. In your giveaways you will also be running a sweepstake to win a single high-value prize, such as a Kindle Paperwhite. You will be using the popular Rafflecopter service for this.

Kindle Giveaway Guru is a multimedia training course. At its heart is a 40-page PDF which takes you through the whole process, step by step. It is well written and comprehensive, and covers everything you need to know to implement the strategy.

One thing I especially liked is that you get a range of training videos, checklists, sample documents, and so on, all of which are referenced from the main PDF. This means you can get in-depth, specific information on all the topics covered.

There are 11 videos in all, covering everything from setting up a website giveaway page to promoting your giveaway. One small criticism is that the names of the videos give no clue to what they contain, as they are simply named Video 1, Video 2, and so on. You could always do what I did and rename them, of course!

The method will certainly involve some work, but none of it is rocket science. You can do it all using free websites and services if you prefer, although the vendors do suggest some low-cost paid services which could greatly boost the returns from your campaigns.

A lot of useful resources are revealed in the course material. One thing that particularly impressed me, though, is the spreadsheet listing the best free giveaway promotion sites.These sites will promote your giveaway free of charge (mostly). The spreadsheet also includes ten recommended Facebook pages that publicize freebie offers, and a number of Fiverr gigs you can use (optionally) to get your promotions publicized even more broadly.

I should also mention that as well as the main offer, there is also a one-time-offer (OTO) for a product called Cost-Free Kindle Cannon. I don't normally buy OTOs, but as I had read that this one covers crowdfunding Kindle books - an approach which I think has massive untapped potential - I decided to fork out for it as well.

The main item you get with Cost-Free Kindle Cannon is a 34-page PDF. This sets out the basics of the system. Essentially, it involves listing your proposed Kindle e-book (or whatever else) as a project on a crowdfunding website such as Indiegogo or Kickstarter. Typically you offer interested investors various "perks" - from an advance copy of your e-book through to a VIP invitation to the book launch, or whatever!

Again, Cost-Free Kindle Cannon takes you step by step through the whole process, and there are various bonuses included, such as training videos and a template for creating your project description (very useful!). The vendors give several examples of recent book projects that have raised over $17,000 in advance funding, and one that raised over $25,000. It really is serious food for thought.

The vendors are based in the US, and both Kindle Giveaway Guru and Cost-Free Kindle Cannon are written from a US perspective. Both methods could easily be used by writers elsewhere, though. The Indiegogo crowdfunding platform is open world-wide, for example.

Finally, I should mention that all buyers of Cost-Free Kindle Cannon get the chance to join a private Facebook Group, where they can discuss their planned projects with other buyers and raise any questions that may arise.

Overall, I highly recommend both Kindle Giveaway Guru and Cost-Free Kindle Cannon. They both set out unusual and creative ways of promoting your e-books and potentially making a lot of money from them.

I am therefore offering an extra bonus to anyone buying one or both products via a link in this blog post. Just forward your email receipt to me at, changing the -AT- to the usual @ symbol (alternatively, copy and paste your receipt into my Contact Me form with the subject line BONUS CLAIM).

I will then send you not one but TWO modules of my forthcoming Writer's Cashpoint course. You will receive Module 2 - Make Quick Cash With Fiverr (a guide for writers to generating a sideline income using this hugely popular outsourcing site) and Module 6 - Use PLR for Quick Profits (a guide to using private label rights profits to boost your profits, including the RIGHT way to use PLR products to quickly create Kindle e-books). Once Writer's Cashpoint is launched I will have to withdraw these bonuses, so don't delay if you want to get them free now!

If you have any queries about Kindle Giveaway Guru or Cost-Free Kindle Cannon, of course, please feel free to post them below.

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Friday, January 10, 2014

2014 Guest Posting Contest With Cash Prizes!

I thought it was high time I held another contest on my blog. My guest posting contest last year generated some great entries - you can see the winning article by Sally Jenkins here and the runner-up by Terrance Bramblett here - so I thought I'd stick with a winning formula.

So here's the deal - I want you to send me a top-quality guest post for my writing blog. Just like regular guest posts, it must be on a topic that will be of interest to writers and aspiring writers, and between 500 and 1000 words long. You can also (if you wish) include a link to your own writing-related blog or website in a byline or "resource box" at the end. Note that the byline/resource box does NOT count toward the wordcount of the post itself.

In fact, the rules of the contest are pretty much summed up in my Guest Post Guidelines, so I strongly recommend that you read these before entering. The only difference is that for the purposes of this contest, for obvious reasons, I won't be accepting any initial queries. But if you want to see a couple of guest posts I have accepted in the past, check out this example from David Robinson and this recent one from Joe Mynhardt.

At this time of year everyone is a bit strapped for cash, so I thought on this occasion I would offer cash prizes. The main prize will be $50, and I will also pay $10 for any runners-up that I feel are suitable and of a good enough quality to publish on my blog. All prizes will be paid directly into that person's PayPal account, so you will need to have one of these if you wish to enter. I can also send the prizes in UK pounds if preferred at whatever the current exchange rate may be. There is, of course, no entry fee.

Clearly, I won't be able to judge this contest anonymously, but will attempt to be as objective as possible whether I already know you or not! To that end I have prepared a judging schedule as follows, where a maximum of ten points can be allocated on each of five criteria...
  1. Quality of writing (grammar, spelling, punctuation, etc.)
  2. Abiding by my guest post guidelines
  3. Originality
  4. Practical value to writers and aspiring writers
  5. Style and entertainment value
So it's simple enough. There is a maximum of 50 points available in total. The entry achieving the most points will be the winner and receive the $50 top prize. Their article will also be published on my blog if suitable, along with their byline or resource box pointing to their writing blog/website if they wish.

At my discretion, as mentioned above, I may also publish one or more other entries as guest posts, and I will pay a $10 prize for each one. All entrants will retain copyright in their articles. I will accept up to two entries per person. Winners and short-listed writers from my previous contests are very welcome to enter this one as well!

How to Enter: Ideally, just copy and your paste your entry on my Contact Me form (note that you may need to disable pop-up blockers for this to display properly). Ensure that the subject line reads Guest Posting Contest Entry.

If that's not possible for any reason (if your post includes graphics, for example) write to me via my Contact Me form saying that you wish to submit a post for the Guest Posting Contest and I will send you my email address by return. I prefer not to publish my email address online, to try to reduce the amount of spam I receive.

The closing date for this contest is Friday 31 January at 5 pm GMT, so you have three weeks to create and submit your guest post (loads of time!). I will reveal the winner on this blog the following week, and hopefully also publish their entry at that time.

Finally, it's not a rule of the contest, but you might like to post a comment below once you have submitted an entry, so I know to look out for it. And, of course, if you have any questions about the contest, feel free to post them as well.

Good luck, and I'm looking forward to receiving lots of potential guest posts!

Photo credit: Mike Licht, via photopin cc

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Wednesday, January 08, 2014

When an Error Isn't Really an Error

Today I have a syndicated guest post for you by Shay Goodman from the excellent Write Divas blog.

In her article below, Shay looks at some areas of grammar and punctuation that frequently cause controversy.

* * *

Divas on Writing: When an Error Isn’t an Error (via
We’ve all seen the following review: the editing in this story was terrible. When I read these types of reviews, I often wonder just what part of the editing was supposedly bad. Was it the substance of the story that was badly edited? Was the story…

* * *
Thank you to Shay for another excellent, thought-provoking article. I agree with most of the points she raises, although I'd have to say that writing "noway" as a single word is probably a step too far for me!

If you have any comments or questions about this article, as ever, please feel free to post them below.

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Monday, January 06, 2014

Try the Brain Evolution System from Inspire3 free of charge in January

I'm slightly off-topic today. But I wanted to let you know about an opportunity to try the Brain Evolution System from my friends at Inspire3 without cost or obligation in January.

The Brain Evolution System (Brainev for short) is the company's flagship product. It's a cutting-edge #selfdev product comprising six audio modules or "levels".

It uses various techniques to "entrain" your brain to a state of peak performance, with the aim of helping you control stress, become more productive, sleep better, increase your creativity, and so on.

The way it works has nothing to do with self-hypnosis, "positive thinking", or any mystical mumbo-jumbo. The Brain Evolution System applies scientific techniques such as binaural beats to help you take control of your brainwaves.

There is no actual speech on any of the levels. The sound of running water is used on them all, but in addition there are other sounds, including birdsong, bells and musical chimes. It's quite pleasant, relaxing listening, though I wouldn't necessarily recommend it for a dinner party! You can play it through speakers if you like, although to get the maximum benefit it's best to use headphones.

As you may gather, I'm a fan of the Brain Evolution System and can testify to how powerful and effective it is. You can check out my original blog review here if you wish (link will open in a new window). Everything I said in that review - and more - still applies.

And this month you can try out the first module of the Brain Evolution System - titled "Transcendence" - free of charge, by downloading an MP3 from the website. Just click through any of the links in this blog post and follow the instructions on the page.

If you're looking to get 2014 off to the best possible start, it could provide just the brain boost that you need!

If you have any comments or questions, as ever, please feel free to post them below.

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