Quick Rules for Freelance Writing Success

If you are looking to break into freelance writing – whether on a full-time or part-time basis, there are some important characteristics that the top freelancers all share. If you can take into account and adopt some of these characteristics into your own writing, then you will stand a much better chance at becoming successful and earning money from your writing.

1. A professional writer writes every single day. They make time to write. Even if they are not working on a paid for project, writers still find a creative pursuit, perhaps updating their website, writing a new blog post or searching for new paid writing projects.

2. A dedicated writer learns how to study freelance markets and analyses publications thoroughly before attempting to write for them. A successful writer checks out the editorial calenders to know just when is the best time to ‘pitch’ any ideas.

3. Writing a winning proposal or query letter is vital if you wish to get jobs. Knowing how to hook that editor or potential client makes the difference between winning and losing a writing project.

Want to read the rest of these 10 top tips for freelancing success? Head over to our membership section and have the latest newsletter  sent directly to you.

Three Cover Design Secrets for Drawing in Readers


By James Adams Clofield

Great book covers compel readers to grab and buy the book. This feat is a veritable art form in itself. Often, either authors take this matter for granted and spend little effort to ensure it looks artfully compelling, or worse, they take matters into their own hands and do the artwork themselves. This would be okay if they really know what they are doing. Often, the DIY approach proves devastating to first-time authors without enough book cover art experience.

So how should you go about producing your book cover? How do you know your book cover will likely pull readers’ attention enough to consider buying your book?

Here are a few pointers that will help you create a book that catches your readers’ attention and communicates a direct, clear message that the book has been written specifically for them.

1. Your Cover’s Image Should Reflect What’s Inside

Shout out your book’s engaging plot and story by appealing to their sense of interest. Depict an image, illustration or artwork that will announce your story in a big and clear way.

Readers know what they are looking for. Make it clear to them that there is a truly mesmerizing mystery inside for them to solve or that your book will teach them everything they ever wanted to know about a specific topic.

2. Your Book Cover’s Typography Should Help Tell Your Story

Apart from conveying the aesthetic style of your book, typography or the font styles used in your book cover should help define your book by visually cluing-in your readers about your book’s theme and mood. A clean, white space cover with simple fonts conveys order and elegance that clue in readers about the formal nature of a business book. Conversely, gaudy-looking font styles may clue in readers of the interesting content inside a rock and roll musician’s memoir.

Take note of the following typographical guidelines:

• Your choice of type face, font size, style, and color will make an impact on your cover’s design. The words must be a part of the overall image you are trying to create.

• Isolating a particular word or words immediately increases their significance. By doing so, you are calling the reader’s attention to them. This may be a good idea if you are a famous author and can sell books by your name alone. But in other cases it might dilute your cover’s intent.

• Positioning is crucial. The most important element of your message should be at the top of your book’s cover.

3. Each Element of Your Cover Should Work in Harmony with One Another

Typography, illustrations, design, size, positioning, color, and every other visual element of your book’s cover must be organized in a fashion that communicates their overall message to your reader clearly, quickly, and efficiently. Remember,

• The larger the size of the element, the greater its importance to the overall message.

• Use color to make a particular element pop.

• Position each element in a way that your reader’s eyes flow from one to the next as though they are being told a visual story.

For more book marketing tips, head over to the [http://www.iuniverseselfpublishing.com/after-publication/]iUniverse Writers Tips and learn from the experience of [http://www.authors.iuniversepublisher.com/]self-published authors.

Article Source: [http://EzineArticles.com/?Three-Cover-Design-Secrets-for-Drawing-in-Readers&id=7204768] Three Cover Design Secrets for Drawing in Readers

Authors Who Seduce

By Judy Weir

A neighbor, a petit ordinary woman, was certain a particular international terrorist had her home targeted. Now’s there’s a woman with a powerful imagination, though a bit twisted. People create illusions for a variety of reasons. Sometimes to spice up their life. Others may visualize scenarios as an exercise to plan strategies. In essence, people create novels in their head all the time. We are all masters of illusion.

In fact, we are illusion junkies. From video games to movies, we seek escape. And what about those fantasies that inspire romantic novels. Honestly now, how many of you have an “x” rated fantasy? Okay, okay, everyone put your hands down. Wow, the heat in this room just rose by ten degrees.

“Turn on the fan, someone! Hey, no pun intended.”

But that’s the whole point. Turn on the fans – particularly their imagination. Every author hopes to ignite the reader’s vision center, rev up their emotional core, and take them to a world they’ve never been.

Each reader’s reaction to a novel differs. Though the novel is well written some may not enjoy the story. Their reaction is based on their values, beliefs, personal history and life experiences. A reader may identify more strongly with one of the characters, or a particular event, or the setting may have taken center stage in the reader’s mind. Regardless of the reader’s reaction, if the author engaged the reader’s imagination, job well done.

There is one illusion which is the mark of a talented author. In these novels, the reader becomes one of the cast of characters – falling in love with the hero, fearing for the protagonist, fighting the antagonist, all as if the characters are living, breathing entities. Creating life-like characters will consume a large amount of the author’s time and talent throughout the plot. It’s not enough to create the big picture of the characters’ physical attributes and prominent personality traits.

The author needs to dig deep into each character’s soul. The scar he attempts to hide, the glance, the hesitation, the crack in his ‘armor,’ her secret desire, the sin, the private fantasy, a painful memory – these need to be tied to the plot in some fashion and be revealed gradually. A new treat every few paragraphs or chapters. The character should exhibit some growth, adaptation, shifting of values, rather than remaining as a static and rigid hero or heroine. The more the characters become three dimensional, the more the reader will be drawn into the fantasy.

Though some books are character driven, the author needs to ensure there is also a strong plot that compliments those characters. The setting should be clearly described to facilitate a demanding plot. Dialogue, character profiles, plot twists need to be carefully crafted in detail to ensure the reader is not confused or has trouble seeing. No one would watch a movie very long if the audio was too low or the screen was out of focus.

Normally a novel should include a balance of the good and evil, protagonist versus the antagonist. There is the possibility either could be victorious. Tension is created. There is an expectation the good will be victorious. The question is how and at what cost. What I demand in a novel I’m reading is that the ending is a surprise. If my imagination can predict the ending, it is likely I’ll put the book down.

I love to hear a reviewer’s comment, “I totally didn’t see it coming.” All thumbs up. I did my job.

Authors are expected to be masters of illusion. Readers are their willing prisoners. Readers want to surrender to the fantasy. Reality is to be blurred so artistically, the reader is unaware of the seduction.

Judy Weir (Feather Stone) is the author of The Guardian’s Wildchild, published in 2011 by Omnific Publishing. Over a course of ten years, the manuscript underwent several rewrites until Feather was certain that the reader would not just read, but also experience the love and hatred, fear and anticipation. Read more about The Guardian’s Wildchild at: http://www.featherstoneauthor.com

Article Source: [http://EzineArticles.com/?Authors-Who-Seduce&id=7229854] Authors Who Seduce

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How to Write a Series of Short Stories


By Tabitha Levin

One of the most lucrative ways to make a living writing short fiction is to write a series of them. Many readers don’t like buying one story on its own, but by bundling a few together, especially if they all build on each other creating a series, is a good way to get people to buy your work. But where do you start? That’s easy because this article will go over some tips on how to write a series of short stories so that you can start your fiction empire.

Think of the Stories like Television Episodes

Most good television series all follow a similar format. Each of them has one overarching theme that carries through the season, but each episode has its own mini plot where all the action and drama is resolved within the show.

They use the same main characters (with a cast of minor characters who may appear in only a few episodes or just one) and each show is often related to a previous one.

This is how you should approach writing your short story series. Each story should work as a standalone, so that if a reader happened to only buy one of your books, they’d be satisfied that they got a full story (rather than leaving them with a cliff-hanger where nothing is resolved). Yet each book should also hint of more in following stories.

Creating a series this way is one of the fastest ways to build a following since very often readers will come looking for more of your work if they liked the first.

Decide How Many Stories Will Be In the Series

Just like the television executive will decide on how many shows will be in the full program, you need to determine how many you are going to write before the series is over.

Usually you can’t have as many stories as a television show does, so a good number to aim for could be five, seven, or even ten. It’s really up to you and how many you think you could write without burning out or boring readers.

Once you have all of them written, you can then publish them as singles, and also bundle them into a collection.

Obviously you don’t need me to tell you that the collection is likely to be far more popular than the single stories as people like to get value for their money (and you’ve made the bundle good value right?).

That’s just one way to write a good [http://www.squidoo.com/writing-a-short-story-series]short story series. If you would like some more tips, from an author who writes them for a living, head over to [http://www.squidoo.com/writing-a-short-story-series]http://www.squidoo.com/writing-a-short-story-series.

Article Source: [http://EzineArticles.com/?How-to-Write-a-Series-of-Short-Stories&id=7204182] How to Write a Series of Short Stories

How To Make Your Amazon Book Rank Soar With Free Book Hashtags and Kindle Select

By Douglas Glenn Clark

Many readers and authors would laugh if I announced, “My book has broken into the Top 80,000 best-selling books at Amazon.com.” Yet that’s what I did. I also updated that announcement three weeks later when my book fell to 278,000 and then broke into the Top 10,000. You see, my ranking began at 950,000 – and I like progress.

Read on if you care to learn why these rankings matter for indie fiction and non-fiction authors, as well as business people who know they have a book (or article) in them but are too busy to take the leap.

The Amazon Kindle Select program fueled my rise (and fall and then rise). As a member I am allowed five giveaway days every three months. This promotion tool allows an author of articles and books to get some much-needed attention – if the author does some simple promotion.

You may wonder, why give away a book for free? Free is the new windfall. By sharing your article or book for free, you have the potential to achieve significant downloads. If you do this well, the Amazon system will be very pleased and begin improving your book ranking – even though no actual sales have occurred. Yet sales eventually will occur. More on that later.

In June of 2012, my first free day netted 209 downloads. I was thrilled because a writing colleague had told me that even 100 downloads can be significant.

In July of 2012 my second free day netted 5,376 downloads. I was stunned. My ranking soared from about 275,000 to as low as 9,950. How did it happen? I’ll tell you. But first…

Think about it. You are a new author, or you have a new business or acting or singing career and you need a boost. You create a Kindle Select article – a fairly short piece – or short book. It must be…

fun to read
informative
biographical and/or insightful.

But it can also include contact info and promotions for your product, service or expertise. How do 5,376 new fans sound?

HOW TO MANAGE A FREE DAY W/ KINDLE SELECT

As of July 3, 2012 my Amazon ranking for my new title is about 17,000. I guarantee my rank will continue to drop, until I can generate more sales and promote another free day. And yet for a couple days I was ranked in the Top 100 in three categories.

If you can get Amazon to pay attention – “Attention must be paid,” said the wife of Willy Loman in Arthur Miller’s classic play “Death of a Salesman” – you will be rewarded.

When I planned my second free day, I knew I would need help. This is how I got it.

First, I found a list of blogs that announce free Kindle books. Some are free, others charge a small fee.

My Twitter following was only about 500, so I hired Book Tweeting Service. For a modest fee, three days before my free Kindle Select day they began to Tweet promos that I wrote – with their help – that included links to Amazon, of course, and hashtags, such as #FREE #BOOK and #Kindle, etc.

I also purchased a “free alert” from Orangeberry Virtual Book Tours. They Tweeted my message all day long. Dedication is worth paying for.

I re-tweeted (RT) all the above Tweets as I saw them, and added replies and thank yous with my link.

I remained engaged online from 7 AM to 10 PM on the free day, with breaks, of course, and created new tweets as needed, which BTS and Orangeberry kindly RT’d.

Also, since I could tell I was doing fairly well in the United Kingdom, as their 24-hour free day was coming to a close, I featured tweets that reminded those readers to “get it quick.” Afterwards, I concentrated only on the United States.

How much did all the help cost? $180.98. In the hours following the free day, a trickle of sales — readers who missed the free day? — quickly returned $54. More sales will follow, so the outlay is a no-brainer.

MORE TIPS FOR KINDLE EBOOK RANK

Since I created the short links for my Tweets at bit.ly, that site’s statistics told me which link was most popular. Naturally, I kept pushing that link.

Also, the music theme of my book provided an obvious audience. So before the free Kindle Select day, I grew my Twitter account by engaging that niche and a couple others. In short, authors must define their audience – and then engage them.

By the way, throughout the day I met some wonderful people who showed an interest in my project, so I was more than happy to RT their announcements and ideas. A sense of community and sharing developed, and it was very nice. I don’t care to compete with other writers. It is better to encourage them.

Another thing to keep in mind is that you need to inform book lovers of their options. For example, I wrote blog posts that revealed a Kindle device is not needed to get a free copy of a Kindle ebook: Just download free Kindle software. In the posts, I advised readers to Google “Free Kindle” for apps and other information. And I provided links for PC and Mac users. Make it easy.

But what about sales? Some authors merely post their book and it takes off. Why? I don’t know. Karma? Or maybe their book falls into a very clear genre. Millions of others get nowhere, and this is particularly true of non-genre fiction. Suffice it to say, if you want your beautiful book or article to get some attention, you must get in front of it and promote! Don’t be shy.

Kindle Select free days – if well managed – can get you some attention. As you improve your rank, Amazon begins including your title in simple promotions with other titles. This adds fuel to the fire. But…

As I said before, my rank will drop until I find new ways of engaging my readers and audience. The ups and downs are like an ocean tide: forward movement, retreat; forward movement… and so on. In other words, marketing never stops.

But that’s okay, because wishing and hoping rarely works. And it is exciting to your book rise and shine.

Douglas Glenn Clark is the author of The Memory Songbook. Read it now: http://bit.ly/Mq79oq For FREE DAY ALERTS, visit http://douglasglennclark.com/blog/

Article Source: [http://EzineArticles.com/?How-To-Make-Your-Amazon-Book-Rank-Soar-With-Free-Book-Hashtags-and-Kindle-Select&id=7160203] How To Make Your Amazon Book Rank Soar With Free Book Hashtags and Kindle Select

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Write What You Can Know Well – 10 Internet Sources for Research

by Mike Evan

A longstanding maxim within the writing craft has been: “Write what you know.” Certainly, authors have never constrained themselves to the knowledge they currently possessed. They researched subjects through books, interviews, trips to locations, and things such as these.

Enter the internet.

How has the World Wide Web affected that relationship between direct experience or research, and the subject matter of the contemporary author? In other words, because we writers have access to websites and web-enabled tools, are we able to short-cut the process?

Yes and no.

No, because what has always held true still applies: life experience trumps any amount of research. Whether it’s through an interview of a WWII vet, or all the internet research in the world, none of us who weren’t at the Battle of Bastogne could possibly tell its story like one crouching in the trenches during hours of incoming fire.

Yes, because of the ubiquitous nature of the modern internet. Where in earlier days, one required means of access to individuals or research material which could be difficult to obtain, today any author can find loads of free information at the click of a mouse.

There are almost countless sources of information available via the internet. Sure, one must exercise care when using these materials, but the same may be said for every research source. Some are more reliable than others; some require additional fact checking. Here are ten categories:

1. Websites. From general to specialty websites, there is a load of information available. As always, the more sources you can find, the more confidence you can have in your material. In addition, cruising the websites can offer many ideas for your next story or allow you to see connections you would otherwise have missed. Online catalogues can be especially useful for gathering specifics.

2. Wikis and Encyclopedias. There is, of course, Wikipedia, which is becoming more and more reliable in its information, complete with linked sources in many instances. In addition, there are specialty wikis for many subjects. Many encyclopedias, such as the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, offer information freely for all users.

3. Mapping Software. The phenomenal mapping features of internet applications like Google Earth offer the user opportunities to not only map out locations, but to see the areas through pictures and videos from a variety of angles. Except for the smells, many times it’s almost like being right there.

4. Online Dictionary and Thesaurus. A few keystrokes, and you can find complete definitions of words and correct usages, including examples. In the same vein, the internet tools make it so much easier to use a thesaurus to find synonyms, or even better, that perfect word that offers that precise shade of meaning you’re trying to find.

5. Language Translators. There are countless language translators on the internet, although some are better than others and you’ll often get conflicting results. It’s always best to find someone, either in person or online, who speaks the particular language fluently, to really get it right and avoid the embarrassment of using a foreign phrase incorrectly.

6. Library Databases. Some local libraries, as well as universities and colleges, provide access to specialized databases, such as EBSCO, Reference USA, LexisNexis, and so on. This access is usually more restricted and often depends on your residence, or being enrolled in a particular institution. Open source programs are actively working to bring much of this information to the general internet user, but for now, it’s best to check with your local or school library.

7. Multimedia. There are literally millions of multimedia files available internet, ranging from zany time-wasters to complete how-to series of videos. There are many images freely available, although you need to be quite careful not to violate copyrights when using an image, and try to find the original source for permission or to satisfy usage requirements, including fees.

8. Online Interviews. These offer invaluable insights from the unique perspective of various individuals. These give you the chance to really see what makes a person (one who might resemble your character, for example) tick. Often times, it also provides the opportunity to pick up on special lingo used by certain people, or in certain professional or geographical cultures.

9. Online Forums. There are a number of online forums focusing on virtually every subject known to man. In addition, blog sites and many articles have comment sections that can in themselves offer a treasure trove of information, particularly from the unique perspective of someone who has lived out a particular situation or has a special insight or expertise.

10. Direct Contact. Perhaps the greatest advantage of the internet is the opportunities it provides for establishing direct relationships. Many of these can provide opportunities to relate to someone who has had first-hand experience with a certain topic of research. Most people are thrilled to share their stories and life experience, and to act as a kind of expert on a subject.

We have really just touched the surface of research opportunities available via the web. Since the nature of material and applications available on it change literally by the week, I’m sure there are numerous other ways to use the internet as an effective research tool.

Article Source: [http://EzineArticles.com/?Write-What-You-Can-Know-Well—10-Internet-Sources-for-Research&id=7086123] Write What You Can Know Well – 10 Internet Sources for Research

 

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Writing Multiple Articles Per Day The Effortless Way


By Lance Winslow

The other day, I got an interesting e-mail from a fellow online article author. He was not engaged in the selling trinkets or online article marketing, rather he was producing ideas and concepts, along with a little creative writing, and getting this information out to the world. What a noble cause indeed, a kindred spirit I might add. Apparently, he had counted up all the articles I had written, and divided by the number of days, and noted that I had written on average a dozen or so articles every day of my life since I started.

Okay so, let’s talk about this for second shall we? First, that was an interesting figure, and apparently his calculations were on the money. Still, I cannot say that it is the quantity of articles that you write that is truly the most important thing. After all, without decent quality what’s the use, you may as well just put out a bunch of tweets, blog posts, or create a few YouTube videos. Now then, let’s say you want to do this the right way. My acquaintance asked me how on earth I was able to accomplish that feat.

Unfortunately, there is no solid answer to give you, and I’m not sure how I did it myself, except that I persevered, didn’t stop, and worked very hard studying and reading to come up with more ideas and information to couple to my experiences, observations, and know-how. From there I used just a little bit of creativity, and I sat my butt down, and wore the keyboards off several computers, until I discovered speech recognition software.

Is it possible to write multiple articles per day? I believe it is. I think a good number is probably two or three articles per day, and it won’t be that hard once you get good at it. For instance, if you spend an hour a day, and you get good at writing, you should be able to produce 2 to 3 decent articles each and every day. That should suffice, and if you will think about production, efficiency, and find out what works best for you, then you can stay on top of this goal writing multiple articles per day in an effortless way.

The only reason I know this for sure, other than because I’ve done it, is because I’ve been asked this question numerous times, and my answer remains the same. If you follow what I’ve said here in this article, and will think about it, you can accomplish this goal. If you have any questions or comments you may e-mail me, let’s talk.

Lance Winslow has launched a new provocative series of eBooks on [http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Ddigital-text&field-keywords=writing%2Clance+winslow]Writing Topic Concepts. Lance Winslow is a retired Founder of a Nationwide Franchise Chain, and now runs the Online Think Tank; http://www.worldthinktank.net

Article Source: [http://EzineArticles.com/?Writing-Multiple-Articles-Per-Day-The-Effortless-Way&id=7095509] Writing Multiple Articles Per Day The Effortless Way

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Suggestions For Writing the End of a Novel

By Sheila C Skillman

So important is the end, that it can spoil an otherwise excellent novel. As a regular Amazon reviewer, I have read novels thinking, This is superb. I’m going to give this novel 5 stars. And then I’ve reached the end, and my potential review slips a star.

So how as a writer do we go about ensuring that our novel has a satisfying conclusion? For the key is in the word ‘satisfying’. It’s possible to write a novel having a rough idea of where you’re heading and when you get there it’s quite a different outcome. A novel is an organic thing. A writer may set out on the journey with the goal of exploring what it is he or she wants to say. The theme may be as yet unknown. Only by a satisfying end to the story will that theme reveal itself. Characters can change your mind. A pre-determined end turns out to be totally inappropriate. A story may have its true conclusion earlier than you had envisaged. Or too many strands are tied up neatly. You need to backtrack, finish the story at an earlier point, leaving some questions still open in the mind of a reader.

A novel may have a closed or an open ending. The end may be happy, sad, bittersweet or ironical. But certainly the end is determined by the way in which the main protagonist has pursued that over-arching desire which is the spine of the story. As Robert McKee says in “Story”, the protagonist may not achieve that desire, but ‘the flood of insight that pours from the gap delivers the hoped-for emotion… in a way we could never have foreseen.’

Here are 5 questions to ask yourself as you consider the end of your novel:

1) Is there a “deus ex machina” in your conclusion? Or has the ending evolved from the choices made by the main protagonist? Could this ending have occurred if the protagonist had not made those choices? And does the outcome depend solely upon the inner resources of the MP, which you have developed throughout the novel, folding them through the plot in a skilful weaving of characterisation and action?

2) Have you answered too many questions and tied up too many loose ends?

3) Have you said more than you needed to? Have you failed to respect the intelligence of the reader?

4) Is your ending a surprise? – in fact, does it top all the other surprises in the novel? or could the reader have predicted it?

5) Has the outcome been foreshadowed at all? Could the reader say, ‘Oh yes, of course, this makes sense because…”

Above all, we abhor a vacuum of meaning. The end of the story must have coherence, even if it’s tragic, or unhappy, or ironical, or shocking. Take some great endings as an example. John Fowles’ novel “The Collector” has a conclusion which penetrates the reader to the core, it is so chilling. And yet it has an organic relationship with the events of the novel and the development of the two characters. The end of “The Lord of the Rings”, J.R.R. Tolkien’s fantasy masterpiece, is one that on many levels satisfies, and yet I personally felt it went too far. For my satisfaction, I didn’t want to know about Frodo sailing away. I’d sooner it was left with the hobbits back in the Shire. But that of course is just my own personal response. One aspect of the ending which did greatly satisfy me was when Tolkien notes that the power of the Dark Lord is reduced and shrunk but not totally annihilated. It is still there, in a corner. It can be reawakened. I found that a profound recognition of the nature of evil in this world.

Finally, a very well-known happy ending is to be found in Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice”. And yet we are still left with the irreduceable fact that Mrs Bennett and Lydia and Wickham will all continue to be problems in the future. The problems they pose will be of a slightly different nature as a result of the events of this story – but they’ll still be there, because they are inextricably bound up with those characters.

S.C.Skillman is an author and blogger. She writes mystery romance novels. Her debut, “Mystical Circles”, may be found on Kindle. The story “weaves romance and attraction with spiritual searching and emotional needs, powerful universal themes which affect us all”. To find out more about SC Skillman, visit her blog at http://www.scskillman.com to read posts on writing, books, travel, inspiration, art, culture and history.

Article Source: [http://EzineArticles.com/?Suggestions-For-Writing-the-End-of-a-Novel&id=7076832] Suggestions For Writing the End of a Novel

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500 Word Fiction Competition Winner

 

1st Prize; £100.00 Sarah Shaw

2nd Prize: £75.00 Oliver Davidson

3rd Prize: £50.00  Nick Heyes

What a Con!

by Sarah Shaw

“‘Ere Darling, take a look at the quality of this” He thrust a torn brochure into her hands. “We can transform your ‘ouse” He sniffed, wiping his nose on his sleeve. “You can trust our ‘igh quality workmanship”

Margaret shuddered at the thought of Ray and his two shifty looking mates from doing anything in her garden. Now living alone, she had worked hard over the years investing in her home improvements and loved her house. She looked at Ray’s dirty bitten fingernails and tried to stop showing her distaste on her face.

As if sensing her reluctance, Ray snapped his fingers and Joey and Cliff swaggered over stepping closer to her.

“We’re not unreasonable, tell us what you can afford and we will do it as a favour ‘cos of your age. “ Joey said, looking her up and down, making Margaret wince.

“’’Ow much you got Luv?” Cliff said grinning as he revealed two broken front teeth. “£2000 cash would do us and you get your dream driveway” He stank of beer “We’re not taking no for an answer darling”

Shrinking back into the safety of her porch, Margaret agreed. “I have the cash” and she pointed to the purse that lay on the hall table “But, you only get paid if you do a good job.”  Stepping back quickly, she slammed the door in their faces. She knew they would be back again and again. You heard about these things on the news, dodgy men preying on the elderly? Margaret hated the fact that they thought that she was weak but, as she caught her reflection in the hall mirror, her grey hair told her that she really was.

At two am, strange noises at the bottom of the stairs awoke Margaret and her hearth thudded erratically. She was frozen to the core, her legs like jelly. What was happening downstairs? There was no stealth or moving quietly, only purposeful movements. Suddenly the lights blazed on throughout the house and she sat up quickly, rushing out to the landing.

“It’s ok Margaret, you can come down love” Three burly police officers stood grinning from ear to ear and had easily apprehended the dodgy threesome from earlier. They stood sulkily clutching her £2000 pound cash distributed between them.

“We will need you to make a statement Margaret but you can do that tomorrow. In the meanwhile, this dodgy trio are getting booked into our cells.” The policemen waved cheerily as they left and Margaret breathed a sigh of relief. Setting herself up as a guinea pig for these crooks had taken its toll and that was with her former police training. She hadn’t been able to refuse the request from the local nick of course. They knew she yearned for the old life and she had willingly offered to help but with the neighbourhood now safe, she realised that her retirement years were suddenly looking more and more attractive.  Time for a cuppa.

 

Summer Ghost Competition Winner

We are pleased to announce the winners of the Summer Ghost Competition.

1st Prize: £3oo Denise Scott

2nd Prize: £200 Philip Horton

3rd Prize: £100  Carol Simpson

4th Prize: £50 Ruth Coles

5th Prize: Critique of story of choice. Maddy Weston

6th Prize: Premier 1 Membership (3 months) providing unlimited entry into any Creative Competitor writing competition and the free Write to be Published newsletter.  Angeleen Rankmore

 

The Market Trader

by Denise Scott

It didn’t really matter what the doctor had said to her. She was slowly going mad and that was that. There wasn’t even a reason as to why she was hallucinating. She wasn’t on any strange medication that could make her mind play tricks on her. Trisha would have welcomed an exact reason, a eureka moment when she could throw her head back and laugh loudly at her stupidity, the moment when she could look at her partner Charles and see her relief mirrored in his eyes

It was so frustrating. She couldn’t actually fathom a reason as to why she saw the same hallucination over and over again. A cheeky little rosy-cheeked market trader with a spotted bow-tie that twirled when he pressed a button. In the last six months, she had seen him most weeks welcoming people to his stall and waving. He had been a little hazy at first but of late, he was as clear as day and she knew that somehow, she had given her hallucination the ability to grow stronger.

She wondered what Freud would have thought. Perhaps he would have said that her hallucinations were borne out of a stunted childhood and she was reverting back to a time when her impressions were being formed? Trish knew that this would be wrong. Her childhood was brimming over with happy memories; in fact she couldn’t remember feeling unhappy ever.

Trish had almost started dreading going to the market place, yet it pulled her like a magnet. She had always loved the hustle and bustle and the rich smells of sweets, breads and the heady scents of flowers that permeated the air. She even loved the throngs of people and always determined to walk through the smallest of gaps and to check out each stall so as to embrace every moment. There were even some resident fairground rides for the younger children which brought back instant memories of years gone by. But now the market place was tainted by something sinister, the market-trader who always looked her way and waved, she would see him out of the corner of her eye and when she turned to focus, he would disappear. Sometimes it would be when she blinked, and at other times, in a grey swirling mist.

Sometimes she would deliberately search for him, push through the crowds determined to confront him, to get witnesses for her strange apparition to prove she was not mad, but as fast as she would approach, he would disappear.

Sighing, Trish began to automatically prepare for her usual trip to the market. A little bit of make-up to hide the dark shadows under her eyes and she brushed back her luxurious red hair into a long pony tail. She looked deathly pale and her eyes large. Trish knew that fear was mocking her.

“Maybe you should give the marketplace a wide berth today?” Charles spoke softly from the doorway, where his lithe frame took up most of the space. “The Doctor did say you should rest”.

Trish turned, focussing on the fear in his eyes. “I know but I can’t, I feel like the answer for this madness is there too… You don’t have to come with me, you look tired too”

“A throbbing headache and a little bit of indigestion, I knew I shouldn’t have eaten that big meal last night, stopped me from sleeping properly” He rubbed his chest as he spoke and then curled up on the bed, his long limbs wrapped in a foetal position, he looked exhausted. Trish bent over the unmade bed and kissed him on the forehead. “Rest for a few hours, catch up on your sleep if you can. I will be back soon”

He was fast asleep before she had even wrapped her light jacket around her shoulders and as she walked down the creaky staircase towards the front door, she could hear his muffled groans and laboured breathing as he succumbed to sleep.

He was taking on too much she realised. At work as well as trying to deal with her problems. Maybe this was something that she should keep to herself, at least until she had got to the bottom of the situation. Once she had ascertained why it kept happening, she could return triumphant and he would feel so relieved.

Walking down the street, dark clouds scurried across the sky, dampening the sun’s enthusiasm. Trish shivered. She hoped it wasn’t a bad omen and she did feel terribly cold. She wasn’t far from the market place, and could hear the hum of activity and raised voices as the traders out-shouted each other. Her heart skipped a beat as she wondered whether she would see him again today but knew that it was inevitable somehow.

Trish took a deep breath to steady her nerves. She had to stop this and instead work out why it was happening. ‘Think Trish’ she told herself sternly. Pushing her fears to one side she thought back to all of the times where she had seen him. At first, hazy memories but as she concentrated the memories grew stronger and flashed by her in a blur. Initially, it had just been the market trader talking to people who seemed void of colour or details. They were real but she couldn’t quite focus on them. Then only a month ago, she could have sworn that she had seen him talking to her mother but that had been crazy, her mother had died many years before and her father from cancer only recently. When she had tried to tell  her father as he lay bedridden that she had seen someone who looked just like her mother, he had smiled with contentment, his face hollow against the white plumpness of the pillows,

His death had hit her hard. Not sudden like her mother’s but tragic all the same and it had made her feel so alone. Thank god for Charles.

Then only last week, she was sure that she had seen her parents together at the stall. Her mother had worn a camel coloured coat far too warm for the time of year, and her hair was up in a tightly wrapped chignon. As she had approached them, they had disappeared into the crowd and the stall had vanished too. She had closed her eyes and re-opened them, hoping to catch sight of the stall but it really wasn’t there anymore. Her childhood friends had wandered by too, not close enough to talk to and not at the stall but in the crowds and she had wanted to tell them that they should turn away in case they saw him too. Only recently she had found out that one of those friends had died suddenly the night before in a terrible car accident, so once again, Trish had to accept that she couldn’t possibly have seen him and that the imaginings came from within her.

Then in glorious multi-colour, she saw him. The realisation that she was so close took her breath away. This time his cheeky face smiled straight at her but his eyes were sad. He wants me she breathed, feeling a coldness sweep over her body, chilling her to the bones, but as if reading her mind, he shook his head and looked over her shoulder. As she turned, to follow his gaze, Charles emerged from the crowd, his face sallow and grey. He didn’t even see her, there was no recognition, no life but walked straight to the market trader, fixated, focussed, shaking him by the hand.

Suddenly, Trish knew the truth and with a horrified sense of dread, she lunged towards the market trader and Charles, desperate to try to stop the inevitable but as she reached the space, it became empty and she fell on the hard concrete, tears streaming down her face, and with skinned knees and a broken heart, she lay on the concrete and sobbed.

Minutes passed, concerned faces, hot sweet tea, a sugary snack, all designed to ward off shock. But how could she tell them that she had witnessed her partner crossing the void from this life to the next helped by the gatekeeper. That cheery faced trader who opened a portal and ushered her loved ones through. Trish didn’t want to think but reality beckoned, and she knew that when she returned home, Charles’s body would be cold in their bed, his life having ebbed away. Worse, she had left him to die alone.

She wasn’t mad after all. She couldn’t completely understand everything yet but she knew that she had encountered the gatekeeper, a master of disguise, her own grim reaper. And all that Trish knew was that she didn’t want to be left behind, alone with this aching pain that threatened to rip her apart. But next week, she would return and she would find him.
Image:

Image(s): FreeDigitalPhotos.net

10 Ways to Screw Up Your Blog From the Start

By Lisa A Mason

I work with many clients on a regular basis helping them with their blog and website content. Over the years I have been in business, I have written for thousands of different blogs/websites both with my byline and also as a ghostwriter helping my clients.

Through all the years and all the changes in search engine algorithms, there is one thing that has not changed- content is king. And it’s true now more than ever. However, I still see smart business people making dumb decisions about their blogs day in and day out. Some come to me to get help after they messed things up and others come to me from day one in hopes that I will help them get on the right track.

Here are some mistakes I see regularly that are sure to doom your blog before you even get off the ground and running:

Use a terrible theme that makes it difficult to read or look at your page. Backgrounds with odd patterns that make the reader feel dizzy or fonts that are too difficult to see or that blend in with the background are big no-no’s.
Write it like it’s a diary. Unless your blog is, in fact, a diary, it should not be written this way. Think about what’s in it for the reader. No one cares what you had for breakfast.
Abandon it! The key to blogging is consistency. If you create it and then abandon it, then you obviously will not have the results you seek.
Babble a lot, especially about yourself. Get to the point. Your readers are busy. Get to your point or they will find someone who can.
Bore the reader to death. Some writing is just not interesting. However, a creative blogger can make any topic (regardless of how dull) sound exciting.
Talk all about your products/services and how wonderful they are. The blog should give the reader something of value- not sound like an early morning infomercial.
Format your post like one giant block of text. Readers on the Internet like to skim. Break up your text, use smaller paragraphs and shorter sentences. Use bullet and numbered lists and subheadings when needed.
Disable comments. Blogging is about getting the reader engaged. You want people to be able to comment on your posts. If not, you’re just out there talking to yourself and what’s the point of that?
Have no social media share buttons. What’s the point of a great blog if it doesn’t get noticed? Add your social share buttons and make them as user friendly as possible and in an easy to find location.
Have nothing to say. It is possible to have a bunch of words that say absolutely nothing. Readers today (and Google) are looking for something more. Your posts should have something of value for the reader.

So what do you think? Have you ever made these mistakes in blogging? What are some other mistakes you’ve seen people make with their blogs? Did this post give you any ideas on how you can improve your blog?

About the Author:

Lisa Mason is a [http://www.writerlisamason.com/]freelance writer with a specialty in Internet content and SEO articles and the author of How to Earn a Living Writing for the Internet. She has written thousands of articles, hundreds of ebooks and thousands of website pages and related content in more than 10 years as a professional writer.

See her website for a free article writing template guide as well as more [http://www.mywritingtips.com/]writing tips and info on the writing services she offers.

Article Source: [http://EzineArticles.com/?10-Ways-to-Screw-Up-Your-Blog-From-the-Start&id=7071472] 10 Ways to Screw Up Your Blog From the Start
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Current Writing Competitions

Want an up-to-date list of our new writing contests? Well here it is. We have added lots of exciting writing contests guaranteed to get your creative juices flowing and more will follow.

All you need to do is to click on the link below and then choose to open or save the document.

We look forward to receiving your submissions in due course and wish you the very best of luck.

current writing competitions

Fed up with paying for writing competitions? Why  not choose our Membership Package and enter any or all of our writing competitions for free? Details are here.

 

 

 

Image(s): FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

 

Witness to Murder Writing Competition

1st Prize: £200.00

2nd Prize: £150.00

3rd Prize: £100.00

4th Prize: £50.00

Closing date: 10th August 2012

Entry Fee: £4.00

Imagine that you have witnessed a crime and your life may be in danger. This competition is all about your story-telling abilities writing the story in the first person as the crime and any potential risks unravel for the reader.

You have a maximum of 2000 words excluding the title.  Entries must be original and previously unpublished. All submissions must be written in English.We prefer submissions by email to info@creative-competitor.co.uk please mark the title of the competition in the subject line.

It can take some time to judge competition submissions and entry into this competition implies acceptance to this condition.

Pay now and submit later:

 

Image(s): FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Family Secrets Writing Competition

1st Prize: £150.00

2nd Prize: £100.00

3rd Prize: £75.00

Closing date: 10th July 2012

Entry Fee: £3.00 or FREE to Premier1 Members

Using the photo for inspiration, write a story around the couple and create a family secret. You have only 1200 words excluding the title  in which to wow us with your creativity so don’t waste a word.  All entries must be in English and be unique and previously unpublished.

We would prefer to receive your entries by email to info@creative-competitor.co.uk

Please add the title of the competition to the subject line and paste your entry into the body of the email.

It can take some while to judge all of the entries that we receive so entry into this competition implies acceptance to this condition.

 

 

 

 

Image(s): FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The Text Message Writing Competition

 1st Prize: £75.00

2nd Prize: £50.00

3rd Prize: 3  Months Premier1 Membership

Closing date: June 30th 2012

Entry fee: £2.00 or FREE to Premier1 Members

To win any of our great prizes, all you have to do is to interpret the photo and create a text message in less than fifty words. You can be as creative as you like. Surprise us, shock us or simply impress us.

Please do not use ‘text speak’.

Your entry must be unique and previously unpublished. All submissions must be written in English.

We prefer entries to be made by email to info@creative-competitor.co.uk. Please paste within the body of the email and ensure that you put the competition title in the subject line.

All submissions must be supported by the correct entry fee, Premier1 members can enter any or all of our writing competitions for free.

Please note: It can take some time for us to complete the judging process so entry implies acceptance to this rule.

You must be 18 years of age or older to enter this writing competition.

Keen to get started? Pay your entry fee here:

 

 

 

Image(s): FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Character Profile Competition Winner

 

 

We asked for an in-depth character profile using the photo for inspiration. We received a great many amazing profiles and it was a very difficult decision but the winners are…

1st Prize: £100 – Stephanie Judd

2nd Prize:£75 – Audrey Coles

3rd Prize: £50 – Brian Stevens

4th Prize: 3 months Creative Competitor Premier1 Membership – James Harwood

 

The Winning Profile – by Stephanie Judd

Name: Adam Caruthers

Age: 29:

Occupation: Business Analyst

Lives in London with his family. Home is a spacious six bedroom house. Adam would like to move out but is unable to afford a place of his own even though on a good salary. Fortunately, the house is large enough to give him his own en-suite bedroom and small study. Adam spends a lot of time on his own- deliberately avoiding his mother as much as possible.

Education: He asked to attend boarding school when quite young wanting to escape from his home life. He studied politics at University after leaving school but  was undecided as to his career when he left University. Fortunately, he stumbled into the role of Business Analyst for a large corporate company in London and found that it suited his analytical personality. He is not keen on most of his co-workers apart from his colleague Tim who is as far removed in personality from Adam as is possible but somehow they connect.

Family: Three older sisters – Emily, Ashley and Hannah

Emily is 35 and currently out of work. She was involved with an actor – Simon Day-Lewisham but this went horribly wrong so is currently bitter and single and had to move back to the family home which Adam finds irritating.

Ashely is 33 and married with two children. She married her childhood sweetheart and plays the ‘mumsy’ role in the family. She lives in North London.

Hannah is 31 and unmarried. She is an officer in the military and has spent time in war-torn countries where events have tainted her previously loving disposition.  She returns when on leave but apart from that, they see little of her.

Mother: Madeleine – unsuccessful fashion designer. Madeleine was never quite the mother that Adam wanted. Loving in a ditsy way. But distant due to her slightly out -of -faze character. Childhood was a mixture of discipline and unorganised chaos as Madeleine would get distracted and leave the children to their own devices and order would only occur when his father would return home.

Father: Roy Adam Caruthers – Successful business man with a retail chain throughout the UK . Business-like, determined, strong-minded and slightly despairing that the woman he married lives more in her dreams of what might be rather than to accept her lot. He also wanted Adam to follow in the family business, recognizing his potential but felt rejected when Adam turned his back on the family business.

Family pets: Lofty – yorkshire terrior and Marbles – 10 year old fat cat

Girlfriend: None currently – Adam finds it difficult to connect emotionally. Subconsciously he blames his mother because he cannot respect or love her completely and the women he attracts, seem to be similar in type usually.

Best friend: Tim Orchard – A 30 year old business analyst who hates his job. Tim is everything that Adam is not. He hates being practical, finds the corporate environment oppressive and likes to play pranks on people. Tim wants to travel the world and his ambition is to never shave again.

Adam’s personality: Adam is quite insular. Attractive, with a wide smile, the smile hides a lot of inner pain and feelings of inadequacies. He likes to feel completely in control and hides his emotions. The women in his family are soft, feminine and annoying apart from his sister Hannah. He recognizes her strength and inner pain. But they never talk to each other about their emotions.

Adam has a high sex drive. It’s the one area of his life that he struggles to control. Secretly he is worried by his lack of control and his need to over-power any potential girlfriends.His last girlfriend walked out on him when he became a little too aggressive in bed. Since then Adam has avoided women as much as possible. Adam is unhappy in his life but is not sure what to do to change it.

He has a good sense of humor, with excellent timing for one-liners. But his humor is surface deep only. For those that know Adam, they are are aware of this cold edge and that behind the eyes, there is little warmth. He hates injustice and those who pretend to  be what they are not. He decided against entering politics because of this.

Athletics: Adam was an excellent athlete for cross-country running but gave it up in his early twenties to focus on cycling and became a member of his local club to keep himself fit. He knows that he could be really good at most things if he excelled himself but he doesn’t feel enough passion for anything.

Hobbies: He loves to read – often books about science and in particular quantum physics. He reads fantasy novels – but despaired of the Harry Potter books and films but loved watching Lord of the Rings.

Injuries: Adam had his appendix out when he was 14 and found himself back in hospital on his 21st birthday when (under the influence of alcohol) he fell off some scaffolding and cut his leg open badly.  He now has an eight inch scar which reminds him of what happens when he loses control. He dislikes hospitals and never goes to the doctors even when feeling ill.

Socially: He drinks very little alcohol as he then becomes less controlled in his actions. He hates smoking and refuses to spend time with those who do and he is contemptuous of drugs and drug users.

Ambitions: There is a strong desire to impress his father as he has a deep respect for him and knows that he let him down previously when he declined going into the family business. Adam has a vivid childhood recollection of how his father prided himself on setting up the business from scratch and becoming a success. Adam believes that he has a flair for business too and a need to prove himself. He is considering setting up a consultancy business helping others by analyzing and project managing their first tentative steps into business.His favorite quotation is sit nomine digna meaning ‘may it be worthy of the name’. Adam is determined that one day he will make his own mark in life and the name Caruthers will mean something again.

He knows until he is fulfilled within a career that he cannot cope with the emotional side of his life and although he would like children, refuses to get involved until he is sure that he can provide.

 

 

Co-Authorship: Weighing the Pros and Cons


By Jared D Silverstone

Common wisdom dictates ‘two heads are better than one’. Working with someone has many pros: you can do less of the work, having someone else invest in your work takes away a lot of loneliness, and with a co-author, there’s a chance you won’t both get writer’s block at the same time.

On the other hand, you can’t control timing of the manuscript perfectly, and you’re going to have to worry about someone else’s conflicting ideas competing with your own. Many co-authorships happen based on existing friendships and mutually-formed ideas, but maybe you’re finding yourself publicly searching for a someone as a co-author for a book you have in mind. If so, here are some things to think about.

1.Common thematic goals

Most of the time, our worldviews come out at least a tiny bit in how we write our characterizations and themes. If you and your co-author have wildly different worldviews, you have to plan for that at the outset. Is this book going to reflect the struggles between two main characters with opposite worldviews, trying to make peace with each other in a polarized world? If so, your opposing co-author makes perfect point of view material, if you can pull it off without booking a flight to Paraguay in a rage (Paraguay is the only country in the world where you can legally duel someone).

2.Unified writing Style

Are you going to break your book into chunks representing different POV? If not, how will you make sure you both write the same characters with the same voice the whole time? This is perhaps the trickiest aspect of working with a co-author. If you don’t break into different POV chunks by author, or somehow find some other way to apportion the work for a consistent voice, you will have to spend a long time talking about the book and characters before you both get on the same page. On the other hand, you might enjoy that; getting all worked up about planning might be almost as fun as the actual writing.

3.Putting in the work

Will your co-author put in the same amount of work as you do? Would you rather he didn’t? If you don’t break the book into POV chunks, who will do style checks? Don’t choose a co-author just because you feel he or she should get in on the project, especially if you already have your ideas all laid out. Choose a co-author who can put in an amount of time you’re comfortable with–not too much, so that she dominates the project, and not too little, so that you’re left to do everything.

If you’re meant for co-authorship, you and your copilot will throw ideas together all the time, really enjoy them, and just make it happen. Sometimes these things are natural; sometimes you can structure them. Don’t stress the process more than you need to.

Some AuthorHouse authors like John P. Lopez teamed up with former NFL star Dan Pastorini to write Taking Flak, a memoir about the legendary sportsman’s life. The latter’s life story couldn’t have been as richly told, otherwise.

Jared Silverstone has worked in the self-publishing industry and now advises authors on matters about writing, editing and marketing books on their own through self-publishing companies such as http://www.authorhouse.com/]AuthorHouse. He contributes to various sites including the [http://www.authorhouseselfpublishing.com/]AuthorHouse Writers Advice Center. He also maintains the blog Indie Book Adventures.

Article Source: [http://EzineArticles.com/?Co-Authorship:-Weighing-the-Pros-and-Cons&id=7029112]

 

Image: David Castillo Dominici

Top Mobile Apps for Creative Writers

If William Shakespeare were alive today he might say, “If apps be the food of creative inspiration…download them”!

I might be mucking up words from one of the best know writers on the planet, but I’m just having a little fun with words. As a writer, it’s our obligation to have fun with words—when we write, scribble down inspired plot lines, and even record a few words of inspiration for that next best-selling novel.

The following five smart phone apps will help you tap into your inner wordsmith. So hop on your nearest smartphone or tablet and get those creative juices flowing…
1. Verses: A Notebook for Creative Writers ($0.99 – for iPhone)

Regardless of if you’re a children’s storybook writer, a sci-fi novelist, or a short story writer—all similarly struggle with ideas when they come suddenly. I know I’ve had ideas for a story in the most inopportune of places, such as in bed, on my commute home from work, or during a board meeting with a bunch of stuffy suits. Too often, writers are hit with the muse when they are unable to capture it fully. Unfortunately they end up forgetting their best stuff when they don’t have something to write on or record their ideas down on. The Verses app will capture all of your inspired thoughts. It’s allows users to take notes whenever and wherever they’re struck with genius.

2. INSPIRO ($2.99 – for iPhone)

The INSPIRO app will wake you up from writer’s block faster than you can spell “metaphor”! I use this app whenever I’m feeling particularly low on ideas or when I’m procrastinating. This idea-generating app features 3 “chapters”: The Muse, Scenarios, and the daydream, each chapter will randomly produce a ton of inspiring phrases that can help kick-off your creative endeavors—from short stories to screen plays.

3. Kindle (Free – for Android)

To improve as a writer I constantly seek encouragement, inspiration, and education through the reading of other great writers. That’s why the Kindle app is a great way to enhance your skill and creativity as a writer. The Kindle app gives users access for searching and downloading a huge database of books via your Android device (plus the cost of individual books). Plus, you can use the Kindle device to sync all your books back to your laptop or desktop so they are always available in the cloud. Once only available on Amazon’s own standalone devices, Kindle is now available for popular devices like the iPad right through to more obscure devices like the G-Slate Android tablet from T-Mobile.

4. Instant Audio Recorder ($0.99 – for iPhone)

Taking notes on the back of envelopes and napkins isn’t very effective when you want them to be legible later on. Luckily there’s the Instant Audio Recorder app to take an audio recordings of your most inspired creative musings. This app is handy for capturing ideas, expert research interviews, and prime sources. Simply launch the app and it will automatically start recording so you always have a copy. Plus, you can forward your recordings to your email or iTunes library to listen to, store, or transcribe later on.

5. Dictionary.com Dictionary & Thesaurus (Free – for Blackberry)

The most well-known, comprehensive dictionary and thesaurus duo from Dictionary.com is available for mobile! Giving users access to a database of more than 500,000 words, definitions, and antonyms and synonyms, this app also offers phonetic pronunciations, recent history on words, a new word of the day, spelling suggestions, and social networking functions so you can brag about all the new words you’ve added to your vocabulary and be dubbed a “word snob” by your Facebook friends.

Bio: Jane Johnson is a writer for GoingCellular, a popular site that provides cell phone related news, commentary, reviews on popular providers like T-Mobile.

 

Grammar Don’t Matter (And Other Online Writing Myths)

By Greg Walker

You’ve read it before, probably on multiple occasions: Perfect grammar is less important when writing online content than it is for other types of writing.

Not so.

Grammar does matter. It always has done, and it always will do. Wherever writing is used to communicate ideas and thoughts, grammar will be essential. Because in the end that is what grammar does: It clarifies exactly what you mean to your readers so that they can understand what you are communicating with as little effort as possible.

The whole idea that writing for the web means writing at a more basic level, avoiding lengthy words and complex sentences, has nothing to do with discarding grammatical rules. On the contrary, if you want to make it easier for your readers to understand you online then surely faultless grammar is even more essential.

Grammatical mistakes slow the pace of your writing. They give it a jarring quality which jolts the reader out of the flow, forcing them to use more effort to understand what you are trying to say. And as we all know, online readers are not prepared to put up with that.

Punctuation mistakes can lead to even greater misunderstandings. The ‘Dear John’ letter at this link is fantastic, and a perfect way to illustrate how two very different meanings can be formed through using punctuation alone.

Some would argue that rules are there to be broken, and there is nothing to say that you cannot break the rules for impact… but you have to know them first.

‘Unique’ Content = High-Quality Content

Unique is a word which appears a lot online. Clients often ask their writers for ‘unique’ content; people discuss its importance in forums and on social networks; everyone is always so quick to herald the benefits of writing which is ‘unique.’

I’ve got nothing against unique copy as such. But it has gotten to the point where if a piece of writing is classed as ‘unique’, the automatic assumption is that this must mean it is good.

No assumptions should be made from the fact that someone has written something themselves using words that have not been put together in that particular order before. If ‘unique’ implied high quality, we’d all be using article-spinning software to do our work for us on autopilot to turn the internet into one great content-regurgitating monster.

And what about slavish rewrites of previous articles, raising the same old themes but using different vocabulary? Unique, yes. Worth reading? I’ll leave that for you to decide.

There is a Penalty for Duplicate Content

Of all the enduring myths of online writing, this has to be one of the most prevalent.

This is probably because of the invested interests that some people have in keeping the myth alive (article spinning software creators, perhaps?) who propagate it as widely as possible for their own commercial benefit.

So, in a bid to bypass all of the current nonsense out there, I found a couple of quotes which might be of interest:

“Duplicate content doesn’t cause your site to be penalized.” Source: Google

“Let’s put this to bed once and for all, folks: There’s no such thing as a “duplicate content penalty.” Source: Google

OK, that’s pretty clear then. So where does the confusion come from?

Google also claims that duplicate content is only grounds for action if “it appears that the intent of the duplicate content is to be deceptive and manipulate search engine results.”

But this is another thing entirely, and as long as you do not actively try to deceive the search engines by using duplicate content for malicious purposes you will be alright.

Writing for the Web Means Writing for Peanuts

This is another abiding myth of content writing, and it’s just plain wrong. The likely propagators? Those who have tried to launch a freelance career, hit the bidding sites, discovered that they cannot find any jobs that pay more than $1 an article, and promptly given up.

It is easy to find plenty of people complaining about issues such as low freelance writing rates without doing anything about it. But you also do not have to look too far to find many content writers who are earning very good livings.

The argument that web writing is low paid is easy to believe. After all, it is simpler to start up a career as a content writer than a magazine writer, therefore this must lead to more competition and lower rates.

But it does not work like this. As with any form of writing, or profession, there are a whole range of pay scales. There may be more writers, but there are also more writers willing to work for lower wages for the jobs that you don’t want to do. There are also lots of clients out there who are willing to pay higher rates.

I have my own theory on this: Refusing to believe that there is money to be made online is another reason to delay giving it a go. It is easier to simply decide that there is no money in it and put the whole idea to one side rather than try it out.

The truth is that if you can write well then you can charge accordingly, whether that’s online or offline.

Ditch the Myths

These are a few of the most prevalent myths that seem to endure well beyond their sell-by dates and haunt new writers (I say ‘new’ writers because most people who have been writing web content for a while know what to believe and what to ignore).

Do yourself a favor and forget about these online writing myths. They will only get in your way and stop you from enjoying the success that you are capable of achieving. Remember, just because lots of people say something, it doesn’t mean it’s right.

————————————————————————–

RESOURCE BOX:

For more about the right and wrong ways to go about freelance writing online, visit http://prowebwriting.com. Greg Walker has been writing online for years and can help you to avoid the pitfalls made by many new writers. He’s even written an ebook on ways to make money on the side using your writing skills which you can download for free at his website.

‘The Suitcase’ Fiction Writing Competition

1st Prize:£200.00

2nd Prize:£150.00

3rd Prize: £100.00

4th Prize: £75.00

Closing date: May 25th 2012

Entry Fee: £4.00 Free to Creative Competitor Premier1 Members

To stand any chance of winning any one of our fantastic cash prizes, simply craft a story around this suitcase and use your creative skills to conjure up an imaginative and excitingly written original work of fiction.

Stories must be unique and previously unpublished.

Word count is 1500. Excluding the title.

All submissions must be written in English.

We prefer entries to be made by email to info@creative-competitor.co.uk. Please paste within the body of the email and ensure that you put the competition title in the subject line.

All submissions must be supported by the correct entry fee, Premier1 members can enter any or all of our writing competitions for free.

Please note: It can take some time for us to complete the judging process so entry implies acceptance to this rule.

Cheque payments can be made in euros to Annette Young but we prefer payment via PayPal where possible.

 

 

Jam on the Breaks When You Start Getting Off Topic

By Lisa A Mason

There are times when you start writing and you just love the topic. Because of your enjoyment of it, you may find yourself getting more in depth than you planned and
possibly even moving off topic. It is important to stay on topic and to keep within the word count of the article. It is easy to get lost and just start writing and
lose track of time but these tips can help you jam on the breaks when you start getting off topic:

Proof Read Every Paragraph – If you stop and proofread every paragraph as you go, you are less inclined to run on and on. You can get a grip on the topic and move to
the next paragraph. Now this does not mean that you are checking for spelling and grammar because you should do that at the end, but you should simply be checking for
content. You can always fix any errors that you find of course, but this should not be an editing session.

Do Not Research as You Go – It can be easy to simply get an idea for an article and start writing, when you get stuck, do the research to finish it. This is not a good
way to work because you may not even realize that you are not staying on topic at all. Instead, get all your research done before hand so you have a good working
knowledge of the topic.

Have a Basic Outline – Some writers find that starting each article with an outline on what each paragraph says makes the writing process easier. It also helps to keep
you on topic because you are following a set pattern. Since we make money by the article and not the time we spend working so make it a quick little outline that
simply keeps you on track.
It can be very easy to get rolling along just to find that you have completely missed the mark on the topic of your article. This means time wasted and time wasted is
money lost for writers. If you proof read and research as you go as well start with a basic outline, you should have no problems getting off topic.

About the Author:

Lisa Mason is a [http://www.writerlisamason.com/]freelance writer with a specialty in Internet content and SEO articles and the author of How to Earn a Living Writing
for the Internet. She has written thousands of articles, hundreds of ebooks and thousands of website pages and related content in more than 10 years as a professional
writer.

See her website for a free article writing template guide as well as more [http://www.mywritingtips.com/]writing tips and info on the writing services she offers.

Article Source: [http://EzineArticles.com/?Jam-on-the-Breaks-When-You-Start-Getting-Off-Topic&id=6996502] Jam on the Breaks When You Start Getting Off Topic

 

How to Find Writing Inspiration

By Becca Chopra

Everyone who has gone through life’s tough experiences and come out the other end has wisdom to share. We’re all experts at life’s lessons and we all have the knowledge to fill many self-help books. But, where to start? What words to use?

One of my friends who has gone through breast cancer, broken bones, and loss of a parent at a young age, has learned methods of coping, plus inspiration to help others as well. So, she’s starting to write. You may have a story to tell as well, and it’s cathartic (which can be good) to get your words out.

But where does the inspiration to write come from? From the chakra standpoint, the Third Eye chakra. This is the chakra that opens you to your spirit guides or higher self or higher knowing, whatever terminology you choose to use. You can access the “muse,” your inner guidance, and messages from the Infinite, all when in the alpha state, when opening your Third Eye.

You’re also in the alpha state when you’re near sleep. Don’t you wake up in the middle of the night and wish you had a pencil and paper to jot down your great ideas? Another time you empty your “monkey mind” is when exercising. When I go for a run, just the right words for a headline, slogan, or retort to a criticism will pop into my mind. While a nap or a run might not fit into your work day, meditation can easily fit into 10-minute breaks when you’re up against the wall of writer’s block.

MEDITATE TO WRITE BETTER

Meditation is a daily practice that has numerous health benefits, because it reduces the stress response on all of the body’s organs and systems, sharpening the mind and enhancing calm and clear thinking.

Research studies continue to report on the power and benefits of meditation. A new study from the University of North Carolina shows that people who meditated for 20 minutes a day performed 10 times better than ones who didn’t meditate.

Not just 100% better, but 10 times or 1000% better, an amazing shift.

If you’re writing your next article or book, imagine how that would affect your productivity and creativity. In fact, meditation could be a great way to overcome writer’s block.

Some might say meditation is one of the fastest ways of coming up with new ideas. But how can you fit it in?

1) Find a regular place in your home, office or garden where you can sit quietly for 10 minutes without disturbance.

2) Choose the style of meditation that feels right to you:

– A guided visualization you can listen to on your iPod,

– A traditional meditation where you focus on your breath or a mantra,

– A more active meditation where you relax through a few deep breaths, focus on a specific question or topic, and wait for answers/inspiration to come in.

So, calm your mind with meditation and open it to creativity.

For more on chakras, and to listen to a guided Chakra Meditation that you can listen to while sitting or lying down, please go to [http://www.thechakras.org]http://www.thechakras.org.

For more information, contact Becca Chopra, author of The Chakra Diaries, at info@indieauthorcounsel.com.

Article Source: [http://EzineArticles.com/?How-to-Find-Writing-Inspiration&id=6980151] How to Find Writing Inspiration

How to Find Places to Publish Your Short Fiction

By Kathryn Lively

Not everybody aspires to write the great American novel. In fact, many writers are content to thoughtful and engaging short stories, whether for broad consumption or simply as a means of channeling creative energy into the written word. Writing short stories may not make you a millionaire, but you have the opportunity to gain a loyal readership and perhaps find greater glory in another medium. When you consider that a short story about cowboys by Annie Proulx, published originally in The New Yorker, was adapted into an Oscar-winning film, you’ll find the possibilities of interpreting your story are many. So, too, are opportunities for getting them read.

Thanks to the Internet, writers have greater avenues to explore for their writings. As a short story author, you especially want to take note of market guidelines – what rights are signed over, how you are paid, and in which media your story will be distributed. Here are just a few suggestions for your short piece:

Story Journals and Magazines – Yes, there are still many journals and periodicals on the market that accept short fiction. Granted, some of the better known magazines may require you to have agent representation, but you can consult the annual Writer’s Market guides to find out which journals will look at work and what you need to do to submit.

Anthologies – Keep an eye out, too, for submission calls by publishers putting together multi-author anthologies. These are especially popular in certain genres like science fiction or mystery. While many anthologies are by invitation only, you can search online submission calls for other projects. Editors of these works typically offer authors a flat fee and take one-time rights, but it’s best to check all the particulars before you sign a contract.

Self-Published Singles – Thanks to the likes of Amazon’s KDP platform, authors can offer short stories for the Kindle. You can charge as little as 99 cents for readers to download your stories to eBook devices or laptops.

Short Story Collections – If you find you have enough shorts to comprise a book, you may wish to consider publishing them together as a collection. Research publishers interested in taking on a short story author, or look into alternatives in self-publishing to get your book out to readers.

Story Websites – As with periodicals, there are fiction websites willing to pay for content. Some may be subscription based, while others make the works available to all visitors. Be sure to study all potential websites before submitting.

Think Outside the Box! As a writer you are encouraged to be original. Take advantage of new media to promote work. Tweet your story 140 characters at a time on your account, or set up a Facebook page for your stories. You may not make money, but the readers you gain from your publicity may end up buying your works later on.

Short fiction is more in demand than you think. Know where to go to submit your work, and you will discover a rising appreciation for your talents.

Kathryn Lively is a freelance writer specializing in articles on [http://www.turnthepagepublishing.com/self-publishing]freelance editorial services and [http://www.spiderwriters.com]social media writing.

Article Source: [http://EzineArticles.com/?How-to-Find-Places-to-Publish-Your-Short-Fiction&id=6576691] How to Find Places to Publish Your Short Fiction

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