I am posting this as my contribution to the June 2014 Book Blog Train
, a promotional initiative organized by my colleague Diana Heuser
All of the writers taking part in the Book Blog Train are offering our books free or heavily discounted on Friday 27 June
and in some cases over the weekend as well.
My own contribution is my humorous science-fiction novella The Festival on Lyris Five
(pictured). This will be available free from the book's Smashwords sales page
from today (Friday) until Sunday. Note that to get the book for free, you will need to add the coupon code UQ86B at the checkout.
To quote from the book's blurb: "Former Ten Stars pilot Rick Barrett is having a bad day. Not only is he
jobless and broke, in a seedy spaceport bar he has been forced into a
winner-takes-all poker game with a homicidal cauliflower. Salvation is
at hand in the shapely form of Irish redhead Julie Halloran. Julie has a
proposition for Rick that could end his financial worries - but does
she also have a secret agenda of her own?"
I should maybe just mention that there is also a Kindle edition of The Festival on Lyris Five
, which has the same text but illustrations as well. Unfortunately it wasn't possible to make the Kindle version free, but if you would like the fully illustrated version, it is currently set to the lowest price Amazon allows! Click here for the Amazon sales page.
Whether you download the free Smashwords version or the discounted Amazon version, a review if you enjoy my book will be very much appreciated. And the same, of course, applies with any other books you download from my fellow Book Blog Train participants.
For the benefit of BBT passengers who may be visiting my blog for the first time, I should mention that I am a professional freelance writer, editor and writing teacher, living in
the English county of Staffordshire.
I am the author of over 100 books,
and innumerable published articles, training materials, radio and stage
plays, advertisements, e-books, games and novelty products. I am also
an award-winning short-story writer, and creator of the top-selling
CD guide Write Any Book in Under 28 Days
If you would like to receive my free tips, advice and news for writers, please do sign up to my E-Writer newsletter
Check out next the blog of Eve Goodnight
, who is promoting her e-book "Write Your Own Check - Your Guide to Earning Money While Becoming a Better Writer"
. This sounds like a title any reader of my blog should be interested in!
There are many more great e-books on free promos today as well, including two other writing guides, so please follow the links from one blog train post to the next, collecting free books as you go.
Remember, also, that if you get lost at any time, you can see the entire Book Blog Train
route map at http://bookblogtrain.com/download-free-books-27-june-2014/
See you at the next station!
Labels: book promotion, books, events
Regular readers of this blog
will know all about National Novel Writing Month
, or NaNoWriMo
This event takes place every November, and I've mentioned it most years on my blog.
is a more recent innovation, but it's also been around for a while now. It started in 2005, so this year it is celebrating its 10th anniversary.
Aimed at people for whom November isn't
such a good month for writing - or for whom one monthly writing marathon
a year just isn't enough - JulNoWriMo
is a challenge to write a complete 50,000 word novel in July. As you've doubtless worked out, the name stands for July Novel Writing Month
isn't (yet) as big as NaNoWriMo
, but it's getting more popular every year. This FAQ page
is a good place to find out more. To sign up for JulNoWriMo
, you simply have to visit their forum
and register a username. They also have a Facebook Page
and a Twitter account
If you're looking for a challenge to kick-start your novel - and don't have too much else planned for July - JulNoWriMo
could provide just the incentive you need. It is also, by the way, a
great opportunity to apply the techniques taught in WCCL's Novel in a Month
course, or indeed my own Write Any Book in Under 28 Days
(see banner ad below).
I wish you every success if you do decide to register for JulNoWriMo
and write a novel in July. Please do leave a comment below if you succeed in completing the challenge!
Labels: events, fiction, Inspiration, writing
Hands Free Fiction Profits
is the latest product to be launched by the prolific duo of Amy Harrop
and Deborah Drum
I've mentioned some of Amy and Debbie's other quality products such as Vintage Publishing Profits
, Publisher's Review Accelerator
, Translation Publishing Treasures
and Description Detective
on this blog before. I also recommended their report on 'underground' promotional methods, which you can still pick up via this blog post for free
if you haven't already.
Hands Free Fiction Profits
is a brand new course on making money by 'outsourcing' fiction books. This involves commissioning other writers to create books on your behalf, using job auction websites such as oDesk
Amy and Debbie have done this successfully themselves, and indeed one of the manuals in Hands Free Fiction Profits is a case study of a novella they had written on their behalf. They argue that by this means you can quickly build up a portfolio of money-making fiction books (most likely Kindle e-books).
Hands Free Fiction Profits
has just been
launched at a low special offer price, and will be available at this price for a
limited time only.
Amy and Debbie were kind enough to allow me pre-launch reviewer access, so here's what I found...
As is the case with most of Amy and Debbie's products, the content is
accessed via a WordPress membership site. This has the advantage that
products can include a variety of media (PDFs, videos, spreadsheets, and
so on) and can be easily updated/expanded in future. Just be sure to
keep your log-in details somewhere you can easily find
Once you are in the members area you will be able to view and download
the course content. This comprises three PDF manuals and two videos.
The main manual takes you through the outsourcing process in 17 pages. As you would expect, the authors share a lot of valuable tips and advice based on their own experience. Among other things, they cover devising (or purchasing) plots, creating a job listing, selecting a writer, and then working with them to ensure you get a good return on your investment. Promoting and marketing the finished book are also covered.
The manual is quite concise, but it includes lots of links to other resources. These include people on Fiverr.com
who can provide various useful services, from devising plots to proofreading - all for just five dollars, of course!
The second manual is a 17-page case study of how Amy and Debbie outsourced a novella on Odesk titled Vampire Avengers
under the pen name C.A. Stevens. In some ways I found this even more useful than the main manual, as you see exactly what Amy and Debbie did step by step, including some mistakes they made. You can see the Amazon sales page for Vampire Avengers here
if you like.
Finally, the third manual is a 15-page guide to hiring writers inexpensively on oDesk. Again, it draws on Amy and Debbie's own experiences, and is very informative. If you decide to use oDesk to outsource your book, it should prove a valuable resource.
Along with the manuals, buyers also get access to two online videos. The first is an interview with successful Kindle author Paul Coleman
titled 'Finding Your Nexus', while the second is an interview with author Michelle Spiva
on the subject of avoiding 'soul-less, shadow characters'. Both are really aimed at writers rather than people who are outsourcing, but of course the advice is equally relevant when briefing writers and editing their work.
Overall, I thought Hands Free Fiction Profits
was another high-quality product from Amy and Debbie, which follows their usual style of setting out detailed information about strategies that have worked for them, and sharing the resources they have found useful. I wouldn't expect it to appeal to every reader of this blog, but if you're interested in outsourcing some of your output to build your portfolio faster, it is definitely worth considering, especially at its low launch-offer price.
Hands Free Fiction Profits
comes with an unconditional 30-day money-back guarantee. Customer support and advice is also available via https://amydebcreations.zendesk.com/home
. In my experience, Amy and Debbie always respond quickly and helpfully to any queries.
If you have any comments or questions about Hands Free Fiction Profits
, as ever, please do post them below.
Labels: fiction, Kindle, reviews, writing
Today I have a syndicated guest post for you by Janine Savage
from the excellent Write Divas
In her article below, Janine sets out step-by-step advice for authors once they have completed the first draft of their novel...
* * *
* * *
Thank you to Janine for a thought-provoking article. I do agree with most of the points she makes.
Although not everyone will agree with me, I have reservations about the idea that it is automatically necessary to hire an editor. For one thing, finding a good editor is by no means easy, and they don't come cheap either.
Yes, in an ideal world, every author would have a good editor for their book, but new authors need to consider carefully how cost-effective this is likely to be, and be sure that if they do hire one they are competent and capable. There is, I'm afraid to say, no shortage of self-styled freelance editors who are happy to take your money but can't deliver the service promised.
I would always say, get feedback on your work from a forum such as myWritersCircle.com
, which is (of course) free of charge. And take the time to polish up your English - maybe using courses such as my own Essential English for Authors
- so you don't have to rely on an editor to correct any howlers for you.
If you can afford editorial help by all means get it, but be sure it's from someone who really will be able to 'add value' to your book. Don't feel that hiring an editor is somehow compulsory, though.
If you have any comments or questions about this article, as ever, please feel free to post them below.
Labels: resources, style, writing
is a new software product for writers from Lina Trivedi
It aims to provide a simple tool for creating outlines for non-fiction books or articles. These outlines can then be used as a framework for constructing articles, books or websites.
is currently available at a launch offer price on The Warrior Forum. I decided to buy a copy myself to see what it was all about.
The first thing I should say is that Outline Master
is an online product rather than downloadable. Once you are logged in to the members area, you start by entering four pieces of information regarding the topic you want to prepare an outline for. I've copied this below...
I did find some of the item descriptions a little confusing. In particular, I think the second one should read 'as a noun' rather than 'in present tense'. And if we're being picky, 'complimentary' in the third item should presumably be 'complementary'.
Once you've filled in the form, click to continue and the software will go ahead and generate an initial outline for you. Here's one it created for me on the subject of blogging...
I was reasonably impressed with this. Obviously it would need a bit of re-jigging, but there are some quite good ideas for structuring your content. Any items you don't want you can deselect by clicking to remove the tick in the box to the left. You can also add your own topics by clicking on a link lower down (not shown in the screengrab).
Click to continue again and a new page will open showing your revised outline, incorporating any additions and/or deletions. You can re-order any item by dragging your mouse on the small up/down arrow to the left of the item concerned.
Click to continue again and a new page will open showing your finished outline.
You can choose a name with which to save the file in the universal RTF format. You can then download and edit it in Microsoft Word or Open Office.
And that's Outline Master
in a nutshell. It's a simple program, but it does a useful job. Of course, the outlines it produces will all follow a similar pattern, but it's still a good basis to start from. I suppose it might be nice if you could add subheadings as well, but that would reduce the simplicity which is part of the software's attraction. And you can always add subheadings once you have imported the outline to Word, of course.
In addition to Outline Master
itself, you get a number of bonus items. Probably the most useful are the templates for Kindle e-books. Even if you don't use these directly, it's still useful to have the front matter and the promotional content for the back of the book, both of which you can copy/adapt for your own Kindle e-books.
Finally, I should mention that there are a couple of 'one-time-offers' you will see when purchasing Outline Master
. The first is for some software you can use to expand your outline into a full-length article or book. I'm not convinced that this offers any significant advantages over using Microsoft Word or Open Office, personally.
The other offer is for some formatting software designed to convert your book into Kindle-ready files. Among other things, it automates table of contents (TOC) creation, and optimizes images for size and placement. It's not especially cheap, but may be worth buying if formatting your book for Kindle is a concern for you.
Overall, while it's not earth-shattering, I think Outline Master
is well worth considering at its launch price of under $9 (about 5 UK pounds). I can see that it is a tool I will be using quite a bit myself in future.
If you have any comments or questions about Outline Master
, feel free to post them below and I will do my best to answer them.
Labels: reviews, software, writing
It may not have escaped your notice that publishing tee-shirts for profit on the internet has become a hot topic in recent months.
Websites such as TeeSpring
allow anyone to create and upload their own designs for publication on tee-shirts (and other garments such as hoodies). The shirts can then be sold online, and you earn a commission for each one sold. You don't actually have to print the shirts or dispatch them yourself.
This is an opportunity that I think all writers should at least consider as a potential sideline. Many of the top-selling designs - such as the one above from Skreened
- are basically no more than a clever slogan, which writers should in theory be good at creating. Others do use images as well, but frequently stock artwork can be used (the companies make lots of this available themselves).
I mention this because a couple of high-quality products have been launched in the last few days that may be of interest to anyone hoping to get into this field (or, indeed, in it already).
Covert Shirt Store
a WordPress theme from the IM Wealth Builders, Soren Jordansen, John Merrick and Cindy Battye
. It has just been launched at a low offer price, but will be going up to $47 very shortly. Even at that price it will still be good value, however.
Shirt Store lets you create a dedicated tee-shirt (and other garment)
store, with affiliate links to various sellers. You DON'T have to design
own shirts (although you can if you wish) and you definitely don't have
to mail them out yourself. You simply get a cut of any purchases
made by visitors to your store. You can see a sample store created by my colleague Matt Garrett here.
If you want more information,
just click on this link to the Covert Shirt Store sales page
and be sure to watch the informative video there. Soren, John and Cindy are well-established creators
of WordPress stores, and this latest one is another winner in my view. And yes, I have bought it myself!
Incidentally, when you buy Covert Shirt Store
you will also be offered another product that can help you design shirts for TeeSpring and similar sites, should you wish to. I have heard good reports about this, but one thing that concerns me slightly is that the example appears to feature a breach of the Star Wars franchise's trademark. I could be wrong about this, but it is something you need to be very careful about when incorporating images in your shirt designs.
Nonetheless, Covert Shirt Store is a nifty product, and worth picking up if you want to create your own tee-shirt store to cash in on this booming market.
Also launched this week is Tee Inspector,
a new course and software product from Dave Guindon
Dave is the guy behind KD Suite
and AmaSuite 3
two other software products I really like. KD Suite
is top-of-the-line market research and marketing software for Kindle authors, while AmaSuite 3
does a similar job for Amazon affiliates. In Tee Inspector
he has brought his meticulous product development approach to the tee-shirt market.
Dave was kind enough to give me
pre-launch reviewer access, so I can say that this is the most in-depth
market research software for tee-shirt designs you will find anywhere.
There is also an extremely informative video course, which
takes you through every aspect of coming up with a tee-shirt idea,
creating a design, and marketing it via Facebook and other media.
With regard to designing your shirts, the tutorial assumes you will be using PhotoShop. If that is the case, you will get some amazingly detailed tips and advice, as you watch Dave designing a number of shirts in real time. But of course not everyone uses PhotoShop, and if you don't you may find the video a little daunting.
So I would just say that there is absolutely no necessity
to use PhotoShop to create your designs. All the shirt companies have their own built-in design tools which aim to make doing this as easy as possible. Alternatively you could hire someone for five bucks on Fiverr
to handle it for you. But, of course, if you can use PhotoShop, you will have the maximum possible control over how your design comes out.
If you'd like more info about Tee Inspector, just click on this link to the sales page
. The product is currently available at a low launch price, but I understand that next week it will be going up to something more realistic.
So if you think Tee Inspector may be useful to you, I highly recommend ordering now. Like all Dave's products, it is powerful, professional, easy to use, and great value for money.
As ever, if you have any comments or queries about Covert Shirt Store
or Tee Inspector
, please feel free to post them below and I will do my best to answer them!
Labels: opportunities, reviews, writing
Today I'm pleased to bring you an interview with philosopher, poet, novelist and award-winning short story
writer G. Lloyd Helm
(the "G" stands for Gary, incidentally).
The interview is by Francine Silverman
, who also conducted the recent interview on my blog with author and book publicist Patricia Fry
and this one with author and illustrator Tina Howe
Over to Fran, then...
* * *
FS: Your short story
A Tale of Segovia’s Guitar was awarded first place in 2006 by the Antelope Valley Literary Coalition. Aside from that, you write political columns, novels that have ranged from science fiction to anti-war fantasy to history and philosophy. You also wrote a literary romance, memoirs, cover religion in
Design (PublishAmerica 2006), and produced an anthology made up of short stories, poems and essays by past and present residents of Antelope Valley, California. I read your novel,
Other Doors, a fantasy of good and evil, and it was a real page-turner. That book, I would guess, covered fantasy, philosophy and history. Needless to say, you are hard to categorize!
GLH: Glad you liked Other Doors
. I am very proud of that little book. It came out in 1997 and since its publication my little book about peace has gone to every war zone in the world. That's because, being retired military, I sold hundreds of them on military bases. I know for sure that there are at least two of them in Afghanistan right now, because I sold them to a couple of Marines who were on their way there.
FS: You wrote that you spend weekends at craft fairs and art shows, selling your books. Do you take a table every weekend or walk around peddling your wares?
GLH: Yes. I take a table/space and set up my book store. I have a table and display racks for my books and those of others I also sell. I keep my whole store in my little silver bullet car and can set up at a moment's notice.
FS: Given all the different fields you cover, how else do you market your books?
GLH: I also market online and by mail. But mostly I am just always on about my books. So much so that I sometimes see people cringe when I walk up.
FS: Other Doors has been banned by the Federal Bureau of Prisons and your literary romance,
Sometimes in Dreams has been removed from Federal prison libraries.Why?
GLH: That whole thing has been a goat rope from the beginning. At one point the prison authorities decided that all fantasy books should be pulled from the shelves, so it wasn't just me. It was some psychologist's idea that reading such books made the prisoners live in fantasy rather than reality, which is BS as far as I'm concerned. They pulled Sometimes in Dreams
along with any other "romance" that had any sexual content. Same reasoning as with the fantasy novels, and just as stupid.
FS: You live in northern Los Angeles County in the Antelope Valley. How large is this area of some 475,000 residents?
GLH: Antelope Valley, as we defined it for the sake of the anthologies, is quite large. I can't even guess how many square miles, but many. It took in everywhere from Barstow to Frazier Park (east to west) and Acton to Ridge Crest (north to south)
There are lots of writers up in this area. I tell people that between Lancaster and Tehachapi we are about the third largest literary arts community in the country. We get lots of people up from LA/Hollywood who like to live in the desert. The anthologies never lacked submissions. Our last one, titled simply 9
, had 285 author submissions and some of those were multiple, so we had to comb pretty hard to get the number down to the usual 20-25 authors. We grew every year, and got better every year. The first year the book was so crude it didn't even have page numbers. The last two, Darkness Visible
, were both up for international small press prizes.
Mouseprints has also published several things besides my first novel and the AV anthologies, the main one being a beautiful compact guide book for a local Indian Museum--that one had eighty-eight color pictures in it, which was a new experience.
All these, the anthologies, the guide book, all five of my books are available autographed from me via email at email@example.com. Or electronically from www.roguephoenixpress.com
FS: Despite your prolific output, in order to make a living you have held a variety of jobs, such as ditch-digger, brick-layer, carpenter, cabbie, cook and clerk. Do your fellow workers know you are a writer, and have you ever sold any of your books to any of them?
GLH: You left out a bunch, such as a US Post Office dock walloper, stage actor, and musician. I could go on and on. And yeah, I was never shy about being a ne'er-do-well scribbler. Sold quite a few books to quite a few people with whom I worked. But, truth be told, I could never have kept writing without the support of my wife Michele. She has been my patron since the beginning. I tell people that my epitaph will read "He married well" and I am only half joking. Without Michele, I don't know where I would be.
FS: Tell us about your new novel, which is more literary than the others.
GLH: My new novel is more straight-ahead literary than anything I have written so far. Sometimes in Dreams
was more literary and it has been compared with a Hemingway novel, Across the River and into the Trees
. Wasn't one of his best but hey, someone compared me with Hemingway.
I said all that to say this, my new novel Serpents and Doves
, of which I just finished the rough, is Hemingway-esque in style, in that it has a lot of dialogue and details real-world situations. Serpents and Doves
is a novel of the mid-1960s. It is about a young man who has been fairly sheltered all his life suddenly being tossed into a world he didn't really know existed. He goes to college, thereby avoiding the draft, and finds himself enmeshed in the civil rights struggle, church struggles, homosexuality struggles, and even the pre-six day war Arab--Israeli struggle. It is fiction, but it connects with my own life in many ways. I am hoping to have it tightened up and out for sale within the next year.
Gary was interviewed by Francine Silverman
, editor of Book Promotion Newsletter,
an online publicist, compiler of 16 ebooks of talk radio shows and host of a weekly radio show, Fraternizing with Fran
- where interesting people come to chat.
You can visit her website at www.talkradioadvocate.com
and blog at http://talkradioadvocate.blogspot.com
* * *
Thank you to Gary and Francine for an interesting and wide-ranging interview.
As ever, if you have any comments or queries for Gary or Fran (or for me), please do post them below.
Labels: fiction, interview, technique
This is a query that regularly crops up on my forum at myWritersCircle.com (here's the latest discussion on this subject).
It's a subject I've discussed before on this blog, but as that was a number of years ago, I thought it might not hurt to revisit it now.
The first point I would make is that this is a stylistic matter, not one of grammar. There is no
single "correct" way to punctuate or otherwise represent a character's
thoughts. Some authors put them in quotation marks, others use italics.
I've even seen thoughts put in parentheses or ALL CAPS, although I
certainly don't recommend that!
In fact, though, the most common approach
nowadays is to avoid using any special punctuation or formatting to
represent thoughts, and that is the style I would strongly recommend.
crucial point here is that most stories today are written in scenes
portrayed through the eyes of a single viewpoint character, whether
first person (I) or third person (he/she). In such cases there is no
need for any extra punctuation to signify a character's thoughts. The
whole scene is, in effect, the thoughts and perceptions of the
'viewpoint' character. The example below - written in a third-person
limited viewpoint - may illustrate why extra punctuation for thoughts is
"What time is it?" Julia asked.
That's the third time you've asked me in the last twenty minutes, John
thought. Still, he checked his watch. "Five to eight," he said.
"Why aren't they here?" Julia asked. She stared at him. "Do you think they've been in an accident?"
"I doubt it," John replied. "Probably they just got held up in the
traffic." Unless Pete's car has broken down again, he thought to
If you tried putting quotation marks around the
thoughts in this passage, you would end up with almost everything in
quotes, and total confusion over whether the character was speaking or
In general, the problem with using inverted commas around a
character's thoughts is (a) it makes the text look cluttered, and (b) it
invites confusion with speech.
So what about the alternative of
using italics for thoughts? Yes, you can do this, but as mentioned
above, when a scene is written from a limited viewpoint anyway (as is
usually the case in modern fiction), there is no need to represent
thoughts any differently from the rest of the text. And if it's
unnecessary, why do it?
Using italics to represent thoughts also
has a number of drawbacks. You are likely to waste a lot of time
agonizing over whether a particular line is a thought or a description.
You will end up with much of your text in italics, which looks ugly and
distracting. And finally, you will lose the option of using italics
when, for some dramatic reason, extra emphasis is required.
If you want further evidence for my case, browse through any popular novel published today. You will be hard pressed to find ANY examples of quotation marks or italics used specifically to represent thoughts. In the vast majority of cases, thoughts are presented in plain text without any other punctuation or adornment.
So my advice is clear. NEVER use quotation marks for thoughts. If it's
absolutely necessary to indicate thoughts in a special way, use italics
(but mostly this shouldn't be required). And keep italics for their
proper purpose, which is providing extra emphasis.
Labels: fiction, grammar, writing
Today I wanted to bring to your attention three free e-books on self-publishing. They all come from prolific Kindle author (and self-publishing guru) Aaron Shepard
is offering three of his Kindle e-books aimed at self-publishers free of
charge from his website as PDF files. The books are as follows...
a guide to marketing your self-published book on Amazon
POD for Profit -
about publishing with print on demand through Lightning Source
Perfect Pages -
tips on producing your book with Microsoft Word.
are all attractively produced and well-written guides. They are also
quite substantial (Perfect Pages
is 158 pages, for example).
Aaron says he has decided to stop updating
these books, which is why he is now giving them away free. You may
therefore find that some of the information is no longer current. From
looking at the books
myself, though, I would say that most of the advice in them still
applies, and what doesn't is not crucial. You can download the free books here
(you will need to scroll down the page to see them).
- To download the PDFs free of charge, click through to the relevant page on Aaron's site (e.g. this one for POD for Profit) and scroll down till you see the Download Book button. This is directly above four buttons that take you to the book's sales pages on Amazon and elsewhere.
Aaron also has three other e-books aimed at Kindle authors. These are not currently available free, but they are all very inexpensive (99c). The titles are From Word to Kindle
, Pictures on Kindle
and HTML Fixes for Kindle
. Again, these are all substantial books, packed with useful, in-depth advice that is not easily found elsewhere.
It's also well worth visiting Aaron's homepage
as he has a selection of useful articles there on various aspects of self-publishing, including POD and Kindle. It's definitely one for your Favorites/Bookmarks list!
Finally, of course, my own Kindle Kash
guide is still available from my publishers, The WCCL Network
. This takes you step-by-step through coming up with an idea for a Kindle e-book, through writing and editing it, to formatting and publishing it using Kindle Direct Publishing, and then to marketing it. It's still one of the most comprehensive guides to Kindle publishing available.
If you have any comments or questions, as ever, please do post them below.
Labels: Kindle, resources, writing