You Won’t Finish This Article

This is an interesting article I found while searching for something completley different!

It is primarily about online writing, blogs, posts, articles, websites etc.

Let me know what you think.


Why people online don’t read to the end.slate

By Farhad Manjoo                                                                                                For Slate.com

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She’s already stopped reading
Photo by Roslan Rahman/AFP/Getty Images

 

I’m going to keep this brief because you’re not going to stick around for long. I’ve already lost a bunch of you. For every 161 people who landed on this page, about 61 of you—38 percent—are already gone. You “bounced” in Web traffic jargon, meaning you spent no time “engaging” with this page at all.

So now there are 100 of you left. Nice round number. But not for long! We’re at the point in the page where you have to scroll to see more. Of the 100 of you who didn’t bounce, five are never going to scroll. Bye!

OK, fine, good riddance. So we’re 95 now. A friendly, intimate crowd, just the people who want to be here. Thanks for reading, folks! I was beginning to worry about your attention span, even your intellig … wait a second, where are you guys going? You’re tweeting a link to this article already? You haven’t even read it yet! What if I go on to advocate something truly awful, like a constitutional amendment requiring that we all type two spaces after a period?

Wait, hold on, now you guys are leaving too? You’re going off to comment? Come on! There’s nothing to say yet. I haven’t even gotten to the nut graph.

I better get on with it. So here’s the story: Only a small number of you are reading all the way through articles on the Web. I’ve long suspected this, because so many smart-alecks jump into the comments to make points that get mentioned later in the piece. But now I’ve got proof. I asked Josh Schwartz, a data scientist at the traffic analysis firm Chartbeat, to look at how people scroll through articles. Schwartz also did a similar analysis for other sites that use Chartbeat and have allowed the firm to include their traffic in its aggregate analyses.

Schwartz’s data shows that readers can’t stay focused. The more I type, the more of you tune out. And it’s not just me. It’s not just here. It’s everywhere online. When people land on a story, they very rarely make it all the way down the page. A lot of people don’t even make it halfway. Even more dispiriting is the relationship between scrolling and sharing. Schwartz’s data suggest that lots of people are tweeting out links to articles they haven’t fully read. If you see someone recommending a story online, you shouldn’t assume that he has read the thing he’s sharing.

OK, we’re a few hundred words into the story now. According to the data, for every 100 readers who didn’t bounce up at the top, there are about 50 who’ve stuck around. Only one-half!

Take a look at the following graph created by Schwartz, a histogram showing where people stopped scrolling in Slate articles. Chartbeat can track this information because it analyzes reader behaviour in real time—every time a Web browser is on a Slate page, Chartbeat’s software records what that browser is doing on a second-by-second basis, including which portion of the page the browser is currently viewing.

A typical Web article is about 2000 pixels long. In the graph below, each bar represents the share of readers who got to a particular depth in the story. There’s a spike at 0 percent—i.e., the very top pixel on the page—because 5 percent of readers never scrolled deeper than that spot. (A few notes: This graph only includes people who spent any time engaging with the page at all—users who “bounced” from the page immediately after landing on it are not represented. The X axis goes beyond 100 percent to include stuff, like the comments section, that falls below the 2,000-pixel mark. Finally, the spike near the end is an anomaly caused by pages containing photos and videos—on those pages, people scroll through the whole page.)

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Chartbeat’s data shows that most readers scroll to about the 50 percent mark, or the 1,000th pixel, in Slate stories. That’s not very far at all. I looked at a number of recent pieces to see how much you’d get out of a story if you only made it to the 1,000thpixel. Take Mario Vittone’s piece, published this week, on the warning signs that someone might be drowning. If the top of your browser reached only the 1,000th pixel in that article, the bottom of your browser would be at around pixel number 1,700 (the typical browser window is 700 pixels tall). At that point, you’d only have gotten to warning signs No. 1 and 2—you’d have missed the fact that people who are drowning don’t wave for help, that they cannot voluntarily control their arm movements, and one other warning sign I didn’t get to because I haven’t finished reading that story yet. Or look at John Dickerson’s fantastic article about the IRS scandal or something. If you only scrolled halfway through that amazing piece, you would have read just the first four paragraphs. Now, trust me when I say that beyond those four paragraphs, John made some really good points about whatever it is his article is about, some strong points that—without spoiling it for you—you really have to read to believe. But of course, you didn’t read it because you got that IM and then you had to look at a video and then the phone rang … The worst thing about Schwartz’s graph is the big spike at zero. About 5 percent of people who land on Slate pages and are engaged with the page in some way—that is, the page is in a foreground tab on their browser and they’re doing something on it, like perhaps moving the mouse pointer—never scroll at all. Now, do you know what you get on a typical Slate page if you never scroll? Bupkis. Depending on the size of the picture at the top of the page and the height of your browser window, you’ll get, at most, the first sentence or two. There’s a good chance you’ll see none of the articles at all. And yet people are leaving without even starting. What’s wrong with them? Why’d they even click on the page? Schwarz’s histogram for articles across lots of sites is in some ways more encouraging than the Slate data, but in other ways even sadder:

percent2

On these sites, the median scroll depth is slightly greater—most people get to 60 percent of the article rather than the 50 percent they reach on Slate pages. On the other hand, on these pages a higher share of people—10 percent—never scroll. In general, though, the story across the Web is similar to the story at Slate: Few people are making it to the end, and a surprisingly large number aren’t giving articles any chance at all.

We’re getting deep on the page here, so basically only my mom is still reading this. (Thanks, Mom!) But let’s talk about how scroll depth relates to sharing. I asked Schwartz if he could tell me whether people who are sharing links to articles on social networks are likely to have read the pieces they’re sharing.

 

Don’t let the rain drown your novel

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Too many times do I read the same old, same old, scene.

It’s raining, grey clouds overhead. Drizzle, cold wind.

Why?

Because it is a funeral, or someone has discovered a friend’s death.

OR

There is a tempest, heavy rain, thunder, lightning. Gale force winds rattling the windows.

Why?

Because its eerie, a big house, a derelict building, a graveyard. Or the cars broken down on a country road.

OH, PLEASE. Come on. Enough is enough.

I know you want to set the scene, make the reader ‘feel and see what is in your mind. But not like this; not again.

Hollywood and television overworked this format years ago. Mary Shelly used it way back in 1817… (yes, I know Frankenstein’s Monster was not published until 1818. 11 March 1818 to be precise! but Mary completed her work in May 1817).

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After that, I can understand some writers utilising Mary’s techniques (which she stole anyway!); but that was almost two hundred years ago! Surely you can work your wordsmithing magic without falling back on this old literary cliché?

Let’s take a look at the graveside scene again. This time, dismiss the notion of grey skies and rain.

Try and build that ‘feeling’ you want, let’s say, for this exercise, sadness and sorrow. (Although in another version it could be joy and relief, dependent on your character’s viewpoint).

‘The solemn parade of black clad mourners slowly crunched their way over the gravel and melted into the dimness of the church, passing under the gothic arches of time worn stone’.

Here the tone is set using a few simple, but descriptive words, to create the mood. ‘Solemn, black, mourners, slowly, melted, dimness, gothic, time-worn’ All carefully selected words that imply the general emotion of the procession.

An alternative may be something along these lines.

‘James glanced at Mary, her eyes glistened as tears formed. Small dew-drops of sadness sparkling, reflecting in the sunlight. The scent of yew trees and grass added to James’s sense of numbness as he watched the coffin being lowered into the grave’.

IMG_4424Approaching the scene from an oblique angle often offers the author an opportunity to ‘drip-feed’ the reader, only giving them a small bite sized piece of the overall scene with each sentence. This allows for an element of surprise, or revelation.

Neither of the above paragraphs have fallen back to the old ‘grey sky and rain’ chestnut. Yet they convey the very essence of emotion which one wishes to communicate with the reader.


 

Onto the scary stuff!

The haunted house? The killer lurking in the dark woods, the stranded car on that country lane.

Hey, guess what?

You’re right, it’s NOT raining here either! No lightning, no storms and no doors banging in the wind.

So, how to get away from those ‘same old, movie style embedded notions’.

Well, let’s try. Let’s start with an approach to that (possibly) haunted house or old barn.

‘Two huge stone eagles balanced precariously on the dilapidated columns. The bindweed twisting about their talons as if securing them, denying them of flight. Framed between and beyond stood the old mansion house. The bright sunlight reflecting from the walls enhanced the blindness of long lost windows. Empty hollows, gaping holes beckoning us towards them’.

Locals say the owner of Ohio’s Milan Mansion was a practicing witch.

Note the ‘bright sunlight’. This time using the opposite, of what has become expected, to enhance the ‘darkness’, the brooding mood.

Not a raindrop in sight and the clock is not about to strike midnight!

As for breaking down on a country lane, perhaps having to abandon your vehicle to seek help…Let’s attempt to approach this in an unexpected style too.

‘He had been foolish for stopping; but nature would not wait and the hedgerow of holly offered the ideal shelter to hide behind while he answered her call. The car was going nowhere. The tyres just spun in the deep snow. With each attempt they sank lower until now; now the car was axel deep. He was stranded.

In the far distance the occasional puff of smoke drifted upwards into the crystal blue, cloudless sky. Turning his collar up, ramming his hands as far into his overcoat pockets as they would go, he started to plod through ankle deep snow towards the smoke. Gregory guessed it was from a cottage chimney. How wrong he was…’

Here I have constructed the paragraphs to portray a relatively normal situation, feeding the reader small tidbits about the weather, not only to ‘set the scene’, but as miss-direction, so that I can increase the effect of the final few words.

I beg you, if you are about to write, (or re-write), a section of your novel where you have been sucked in by the old ‘rain & storm’ caper, alter it. Dismiss the rain; freshen up your narration, pleasantly surprise your readers with something new and exciting.

Please do not let the rain make your book a wash-out.

Thanks for reading, Paul

Feel free to comment, leave feedback and ‘follow’ Ramblings from a Writers Mind.

Oh, don’t forget to read the new edition of CQ Magazine. It is jam packed full of great ‘stuff’!

https://issuu.com/ramblingawaymagzine/docs/cq4prt1_1_2016

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From bare bones…how I build a story.

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We all have different systems for writing our stories. Some like to plan everything out, make charts and story boards. Others write copious notes and character biographies, graphs and guides. Some just start scribbling away and see where their words lead them.

The way we set about our writing is personal preference. If, at the end of the day (or many day’s) we end up with a completed work that we are satisfied with, then all is good.

But some parts, some of the stages of writing are I suggest, common to all. These are; the re-writing of the first draft, the re-writing of the second draft. Editing, beta reading, more editing, proofreading, another re-write, more editing and so on.

This will eventually lead to a finished work which we are happy with, (mostly), except for one or two minor alterations…and a little more editing!

The final polished work, which you are now totally and completely satisfied with (?), will now be ready for publishing.

Your amazing work will then sell like proverbial hotcakes; be turned into a TV series, a Hollywood blockbuster movie and a West End play, which will run for at least thirty-five years.

You will become, a multi-millionaire, live on a yacht when you are not staying at one of your several million dollar mansions, which are scattered around the world in the most exotic locations and have a Lear jet to flit from one place to the other.

Your life will be good.

Yeah okay, I got carried away, so maybe not that last bit, at least not yet!

Back in the real world…

The reason I know that we all have differing ways of going about the construction of our novels is a simple one, I have spoken to many of you, read your posts, articles and followed the threads of a thousand and one conversations.

In general, the stages are common, the concepts are common; it is the application, the mechanics which vary.

It was to address this issue that I decided to write this post. But then it became clear, that to include the many minutiae of variances was an impossible task, unless I was to write an entire thesis. Not something I had intended or actually wish to do, at least not now!

So what I have decided is to give a sketch of how I build my own stories, of how I take an idea, a concept and turn it into a book or a novel.

As with many of my posts I am staying away, as much as possible, from any technical jargon, because I think that will help the novices and uninitiated to comprehend my concepts and explanations better.

So here goes!…

 

Using the analogy of a human body!

My initial concept is rather like a jumble of bones. I can easily identify a tibia, the radius and, of course the skull. But the others are mixed in with bones from other species. In this case notes, rough drafts and such that belong to other stories.

The first job I have to undertake (see what I did there!?) is to lay out the bones in an order which loosely resembles a skeleton. The second job is to sift through the remains (at it again!?) and start connecting the larger bones with the smaller ones.

At this stage my bones…read story line…is looking basically as intended. The final pieces of the skeleton, all those niggly wrist bones, the teeny-weeny ear bones can be slotted into place. Standing back, (reading through a day or two later) I can judge how well my efforts have been and make any adjustments needed.

The next step is to double check that the arm is in the position I want it; the legs are angled just so. After all I don’t want my skeleton just hanging around like those from the biology lab. I want mine to pose, to attract and captivate the onlooker. Once I have all the sections (Chapters) in the order I wish, I can the start to put some meat and flesh onto those bones.

This is where I start over again.

Carefully layering, word by word the ‘flesh’ onto the bare bones. Taking my time back and forth over each section of the skeleton ensuring that the thickness of the ‘meat’ is correct in relation to the basic underlying structure. For instance, nobody has a fat forehead!

In the same way I do not want to pad out the first sentence or paragraph of my book with a ton of unnecessary bumf. I want my readers to instantly recognise what kind of person this is… (read- what style of book).

f8a476db508154058928e4f9905bac87I also want my creation to be attractive to that reader. If they like romance then my words must convey that, if it is tension as in a thriller, that must be portrayed too. All this must be accomplished within the first few lines, or at least the first few paragraphs. In this analogy it must be love at first sight.

As I, or you the writer, progresses down the body the same process must take place, adding just the right proportion of flesh to the various areas of you skeleton. By the time you reach its little pinky you should have a basic, rather stout figure laying out before you.

That is the end of that stage, but just the beginning of making your Frankenstein a wholesome human being, or you book into a readable tome.

At this point it is worth standing back once more and regarding the whole. Have a family member or a couple of your close friends inspect your handiwork. Listen to their comments and suggestions. Often two or more pairs of eyes are better than just your own, especially as you will be wearing those rose tinted spectacles.

The next step is to become a cross between Ed Gein (see Texas Chainsaw

Michaelangelo
<This one…not that one>

Massacre) and Michael Angelo. Your job is to carefully sculpt each and every inch of your work. Ruthlessly cut away all the unnecessary, useless, divergent, misleading crap. In fact, everything that is not in harmony with the premise of the story should go.

But don’t throw it away. Keep it filed for another book, a short story or that twist which will let you escape from the dead-end you will write yourself into at some point.

What you have left will be a mean, lean, fighting machine…or not!

Once again work on the sections and chapters of your book, make certain all the joints connections and move smoothly. That the transitions work. This may mean adding some more flesh, but this time ensure it is lean meat and not fat, unless you need that little extra padding. But be cautious.

Time now to stand back again. Sleep and eat properly and regularly for a day or two. Then review your work.

Happy…No? Then go back and polish it some more.

Happy…Yes? Good. Now it is time to beautify your creature, lay on the outer skin.

This is yet another review, edit if you wish. Tidy up anything and everything which is not sleek and smooth. Dot your i’s and cross the t’s. Change ‘that’ to ‘which’ colons or commas to semi-colons, past tense to present. This is like eliminating the moles and birthmarks.

My museNext stage. The test run, test drive. Time for your beta readers to see and feel what you have made. What tasks you have set, or asked your beta readers to do, will affect the feedback you get.

One thing is almost certain. Each beta reader will have poked, prodded, sniffed, licked, and tasted your creation. It will have been tossed about and pulled apart. So you will have to go back and patch it up. All those imperfections that you will…note I say ‘will’…have missed before need correcting.

One good thing is, at this stage of the process is that you can now add the final flourishes. The hair gel and the make-up. Dress your work in fine clothing, titivate it. Get your creation ready for the cat-walk, the promenade. The editor.

You see a good editor wants to look at your work with a critical eye. They are the sage, the modern day Maharishi. With blue and red pens, they (the editors) will clutter the margins with various annotations that require your attention. Oh glory be!

Now you can start from the top, once more, working your way down, through each layer of flesh, each rise and fall, curve and dimple until eventually and exhaustedly you reach that little pinky toe on which you have etched those wonderful words….

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But as you well know that is not the end, because your editor, or another should take at least one more run through…. just in case!

Only after this should you even consider letting your monster out of your laboratory.

I feel I must say, especially those new to writing and who have read this far! That doing everything above only means that you have finished your manuscript.

I have not touched on the subjects of pagination, typesetting, design, book covers, illustrations, blurb, publishing, marketing, promotion, or anything else at all. I have only briefly covered the very simple bit, the writing of a story for a book.

Happy days! 

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 While I have you attention why not pop over and take a wander around my website? 

 

 

 

HOW TO “WRITER”

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Originally posted on http://coolerbs.com/  (Now updated & re-posted here!)

 JANUARY 17, 2015

 

For everyone who wants to be a writer, I present the honest answers to all of your questions:

What are writers?

People who write words, preferably ones that chain together to mean something.

Can I become a writer?

Yes.

Who can be a writer?

Anyone.

Is (blank) a writer?

Does that person write words? If so, then yes.

How do I become a writer? 

Write.

What do writers do?

Write.

How do I become a professional writer?

Write for free until someone offers to pay you for it. Then, write for them.

Does writing take practice?

Yes. Everything takes practice.

Do writers make a lot of money?

BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA… not usually.

Will I become a professional writer?

Statistically? Probably not.

Do I need to write every day?

You don’t need to, but I recommend it.

Do writers need to read books?

Yes, constantly. How do you think we manage to get all of those words into our heads?

What is the worst thing you can do as a writer?

Mass murder.

Can I make a living as a writer?

That really depends on what type of writing you want to do. Fiction writing is really risky and hard. You could crash and burn at any moment, and that’s assuming you manage to get off the ground at all. Ghostwriting or technical writing, on the other hand, is fairly consistent work, and pays decent. Editing, which is sort of like writing in its own way, also pays well. Writing for a website is actually feasible, but the website has to be really successful. It’s entirely possible, but it’s an upward battle.

Will writers exist in one hundred years?

I hope so.

Why are writers important?

Because, without us, all you would have to read are the labels on food packages.

Why do writers not like people?

We like people! We just don’t like being around people.

Does writing give you a God Complex?

Yes.

Why are writers crazy/depressed/weird?

Couple of reasons:

  • We’re isolated all the time, partially by choice.
  • We create and kill fictional people.
  • A combination of crippling self-doubt and an over-inflated ego.
  • We’re constantly told we’re supposed to be crazy.
  • We’re in our heads all the time, and sometimes we forget to come out.
  • We have to wait for things to happen without any guarantees.
  • We have to survive on the money we make writing.
  • Critics.

Why are writers alcoholics/drug-users?

That’s a stereotype.

How do I write a book?

In no particular order:

  • Write thousands of words.
  • Rewrite thousands of words.
  • Overcome writers block.
  • Create a plot.
  • Create characters.
  • Create conflict.
  • Cry a little.
  • Fight carpal tunnel syndrome.
  • Learn about yourself.
  • Learn about what it means to be human.
  • Cry heavily.
  • Spend years on it.
  • Spend more years on it.
  • Procrastinate
  • Write an ending.
  • Rewrite nearly everything.
  • Have a party
  • Finish the book.

What is the best genre to write?

If you’re going by sales, then probably Erotica or Young Adult Dystopian Fiction.

Can I write about Werewolves/Vampires?

Yes, but I won’t like you very much.

What should I write about?

Really? You’re asking me? If you don’t already have hundreds of ideas, then I think you are in the wrong line of work my friend.

What is a “Muse”?

A little voice in our heads that tell us what to write about.

What is “Writer’s Block”?

When your “Muse” stops talking to you.

How do I know when I’m done writing a book?

When it’s the exact story you want to tell, and has absolutely no grammar errors, spelling errors, font issues, size issues, formatting mistakes, or plot holes.

Self-Publishing or Traditional?

Both are fine. Choose what you think will work better.

Do I need to get my book professionally edited?

Yes.

Do I need to get it professionally illustrated?

Yes.

Do I need to get my cover professionally made?

Yes.

What’s a first draft?

The first version of a book, before you go back in and tear the whole thing apart, fixing errors as you go.

How many drafts are there of a book?

As many as needed, sometimes more than 10.

Will my first book get published?

Unlikely. Sorry.

Am I going to become famous when I publish my first book?

No.

How do celebrities write books?

They don’t. Usually a ghostwriter does it for them.

How does James Patterson and Stephen King write so many books?

They write all day. Every day. Till their fingers bleed, heal, and then bleed again.

What is NANOWRIMO?

A contest where you have a month to write the first draft of a book.

What is a manuscript?

According to Google:  “A manuscript is any document written by hand, or manually typewritten, as opposed to being mechanically printed or reproduced in some automated way.”

Why does no one like my writing?

I’m sure someone likes your writing.

Am I a good writer?

Possibly.

Am I a great writer?

If you think you’re a great writer, then you’re probably not. The greats are hyper-critical of themselves.

What are the downsides of being a writer?

  • Eye strain.
  • Loneliness.
  • Hand cramps.
  • Back cramps.
  • Self-doubt.
  • Awkward at parties.
  • Madness.

What are the upsides of being a writer?

The things you create are immortal.

How hard do writers work?

Harder then you could possibly imagine.

Is it worth it?

Yes.

Rambling from a Writers Mind now gives you the best Amazon deals around.

Check it out 

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Revealed. The websites no Writer or Author can do without.

As we all try and make sense of the process of writing and publishing our books many of us find particular hosts, sites, programmes and applications which, at least at first, look as if they will aid us, help us reach our goal of producing a great work.

A work which has minimal mistakes if any at all. One that is beta read, proof read, edited and formatted to near perfection as it is possible to achieve.

We are the creatives, the dreamers, the weavers of fantasy and make-believe. It is an often lonely and arduous task. So anything we can find that will allow us, help us accomplish our tasks more efficiently, even in an easier way must be welcomed.

The same is true of marketing, of promotion, of finding ways to put our carefully crafted works of magical wordcraft in the eye line of potential readers, those strangely elusive souls who may be the ones, when suitably tempted, to put their hands into their pockets and withdraw a handful of mysterious tokens called ‘coin’.

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RumpledSheets-1024x656Oh the dreams of easy writing, of superb marketing strategy and wondrous, ever climbing sales……yeh okay…you can wake up now!

However that is not to say that there are a number of sites and services that can actually help, albeit to varying degrees.

I for one am of the super sceptical when it comes to paying for a service, particularly when it is (from my point) untried and untested.

That means putting my faith in promises. That means believing marketing bumf and advertising. Not something I do lightly, particularly if I am to be parted with hard earned cash, even hard-yet-to-be-earned-cash.

So I am ever cautious.

In fact I have been so very careful you can call my a ‘tight-wad’ if you wish; but to date I have Indie published five books; Empty Walletone full length novel, one long-short-story eBook, two books of poetry and a very dirty adult erotic anthology. I have also contributed to four collaborative anthologies and produced two stories for a website/video site. Yet I have not spent a bean, not a single Penny, a loose Dime, an odd Rupee on anything.

Honest.

I have written, read, re-written. I have had my stories beta read and edited. I have formatted them. I have designed all my own covers, promoted, marketed and sold them all off my own back. I consider myself a truly independent author and publisher.

No, I have not made a fortune (yet!), neither have I, as yet, created an ongoing passive income large enough to see me through retirement until the day I shuffle off this mortal coil….but I am working on it!

I carry this ‘Modus Operandi’ onto the things I do to help others.

small buttonMy book promotion site ‘Sneak Peek’ offers free listings. I re-blog on ‘Brilliant Blogshare’, ‘Ramblings from a Writers Mind’ & ‘Further Ramblings’ and carry others stories on ‘A Little more Fiction’. FeaturesAwards note2 and Showcases in CQ Magazine are also offered at no cost. I will suggest, coach, aid and do whatever I can to help other authors and artists all without thought of personal gain.

I cannot promise that the way I work would be right or suitable for you. You may well be far more eager for returns and results than I. You may not think you have the skills or the knowledge, or have the time to learn, or the time to commit. So I am not going to get into a ‘how to’ or a ‘how I achieved’ thingy!

Nor have I, or do I, intend to write a book on the subject!

Neither am I asking for you to pay me to tell you what or how I have done what I have. Those of you who know me will know that is not what I am about, it is not how I ‘tick’.

What I do enjoy, what gives the greatest satisfaction is helping others achieve their own dreams, goals, or targets or whatever term you want to use. Put simply I like to help everyone to be happy.

So on that basis I am listing here the websites and services that I use, have used, intend to use, or think could be beneficial at some point.

The overriding fact is that ALL of these are FREE, or have a free basic level with options to upgrade to a paid level(s) at a later stage if you wish. That ‘if you wish’ is all important. It is open-ended, no trail periods, no right to cancel at some future point. IF YOU wish to upgrade to utilise other services that is YOUR choice not theirs.

I guess I have said enough about my principles on this subject so that you get my gist!

So OK. Here is my list and my brief reasons for using and/or liking these sites/hosts. They are not listed in any particular order or categorised in any way, so it is best if you read through them all and choose which you wish to use (or not!).

I do hope that you will find at least one helpful or useful to yourself.

.

  • http://www.howmanysyllables.com/ Love this site. Syllable dictionary, syllable counter, Poetry workshop, English Grammar & more. No poet should be without this site in their armoury.
  • http://authl.it/ If you publish in Kindle format this site is indispensable. Create multi-region Kindle book links.
  • http://nibbler.silktide.com/ I use this to safeguard my research. Tests the quality, safety and security of most websites. Don’t browse unsafely, use this as an additional aid to stop malware, phishing etc.
  • https://www.canva.com/ Not a bad site for some basic image layouts for social media etc. Not a image editor, but good fun.
  • http://www.qrstuff.com/ QR code generation. Download, print, email, even print on ‘tee-shirts’! Use QR codes on back cover of you books, bookmarks & all promo material to lead to your website etc.
  • http://authorsdb.com/ Author profiles & book listings….but more…cover competitions, community, promotional stuffAUTHORSdb, services & more. One of my favourites. Contactable, responsive. Site takes some navigation but the end result is worth it.
  • http://www.authorgraph.com/ Get and send your autograph to your eBook readers. Worth checking out & using as an extra marketing tool.ag_logo-e82121c0b20665eb28fa8a9be15d7572
  • http://www.wix.com/ I think this is the best free website on the market at present. Lots of additional features like blogs and ‘shoutouts’. Premium available but as a single person author I have not sensed the need to upgrade yet.

I Love WordPress

  • https://wordpress.com I think the best blogging format at present. I also use WordPress for Sneak Peek.
  • https://about.me If you do not have an ‘aboutme’ page go get one NOW. This is the webs new ‘calling card’. Honestly get your page now, like today…go on…go do it!
  • http://promocave.com/ Love Promocove. Book promo & author profile etc. But much more. Best go take a look. J6_2_IJCFriendly and responsive team too.
  • https://takeasneakpeak.wordpress.com/  OK, so I am biased here large buttonthis is my book promotion site primarily for indie authors. its FREE, so you have absolutely nothing to loose and only new readers to gain. I’ll say no more!

Ok that will do you for now. I am not giving ALL my secrets away!

Any questions, comments, feedback or if you know of any other sites that are free and good, please leave a comment or email me.

Cheers, Paul.

Tips on Creating Settings for your Characters and Scenes.

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I was going to call this post something simple, like ‘somewhere’ or ‘place’, but then I thought that it may be a little to oblique, so I ended up with the rather long title above.

Pretty much is the same with content. To make this as comprehensive as possible without (I hope) getting boring, I have had to write far more than I do in many of my other posts. I am sure you will see why as you read through.

Simply put, this post is all about creating a setting, or many settings, for you story. Somewhere your characters can live, somewhere they can go about their business in a way that helps bring them to life, a way that makes them ‘real’ people to your readers. Which is what we all should be seeking to achieve, a sort of Holy Grail for writers!

Let’s take a look at the three basic options we have.

The first is to use a Real Location.

This could be a village, a town, even a city, say Paris or London, or it could be somewhere much humbler like a hotel, a café, your kitchen or maybe a cellar?

Whilst the ‘where’ has to blend into you story while enhancing the readers pleasure, that is not the initial prime concern one should have. If you are using a real setting the most important aspect is to ensure accuracy.

This means research.

Even if you live in the place you intend to feature. Misrepresentation, whether it is a matter of geography, culture, or something in between, will be considered a travesty, it will be a failure in your story.

Make sure, when you include a detail or piece of information, that it is correct, or at least feasible. It must makes sense, be credible and contribute to the image you are portraying.

Go there! If at all possible go to the location, find details, talk to local people. Look about, notice how the buildings stand, what transport is available, what colour is it? Consider the language, do they have a dialect or use slang? What are the most noticeable aspects of the culture?

Now you have acquired this information you have to write it in a way that builds, or recreates that place for the reader. If the reader has never been there you must lead them in, be their guide in introducing them to the place. If they know the place already then your part is to re-create their memories.

To do this you must ‘show’ them, give strong sensory detail, get them involved and interested, especially in places unfamiliar. Make them feel they are getting to know it and you have them feeling you are portraying it accurately.

imagesDon’t be afraid to use dialect. I would not recommend attempting to write a dialect, a least a phonetic representation, as this shouts doom! But be aware of such in dialogue; for instance what do the people in this location call a long sandwich? Is it a Sub…or a Hoagie, a Hero….maybe it a Baguette?

Getting ofay with the vernacular could make or break your story. But be careful, a misplaced slang word can throw you readers sense of place haywire.

Remember, not every story will fit into every setting. As with the characters and the plot the setting should be a living part of the story, it should interact with everything else on the page. If you tale is not working here, try a new location, or place a new section of the plot in this setting. If you have a disconnect you work may just collapse.

Now we move on…

The Fictional Location.

Here, wherever here may be, you are in total control. Nothing can be here, nothing can exist without your consent. This is you world where you can construct anything you like to be part of your story, even if it is a far-fetched creation.

But let’s start a little simpler. If you need to create a school or a restaurant or some regular societal value, you have no worries if somewhere similar exists, because ‘yours’ is purely fictitious.

A simple example could be an underground railway. If you have no idea of how the London Underground operates, so what? You can design and create your own public transportation system, one that fits into your plot, one that works with your characters schedules. It does not have to be an accurate representation of anything from the real world.

Please do not allow these facts to preclude your story from remaining realistic in terms of how certain types of place operate on a general basis. You still have a duty to your readers to portray a believable scenario.

The location may be best suited if, say for a town, it can be placed near somewhere in the real world. Possibly south of Huston, or just over the Tyne river outside of Newcastle. This will aid your story in finding its cultural roots.

Now the third of our three.

A Fictional setting in the Real World.

This is a far from unusual tactic employed by authors. There are many novels set in small fictitious towns which are then placed in a real counties or countries.

If you aim to do this then your town should be, at least in its initial appearance, similar to real towns in that region. This is to create believability. Yet by creating your own town as a setting you have almost as much freedom as you would with one set in a total fantasy.

Another benefit is that the townsfolk and/or your main characters can have specific feelings or views about this setting. Such as ‘it is haunted’ or ‘or it is a dying town’. No one can refute this, because the place does not actually exist.

This format works well when creating locations which do not exist, within one that is real. For example you may need to have your characters meet in a bar. Create a bar rather than using one that is real. This solves and can also absolve you from future problems. vampire1

Of course one area that fake settings placed in the real world are great is in the realm of fantastical realities. Think vampires, ghosts and Harry Potter! Here one uses the real world to disguise something hidden or a secret.

Let us go a little further.

You are writing a romantic novel and in all good tradition and faith you choose Paris as the main setting of the book. It would therefore be wise to assume that, most of your readers will have a strong conception, a healthy mental image of Paris before they read a single word of your novel.

If the words ‘the Eiffel Tower’ are spoken your reader will automatically conjure up a mental image. The same goes for ‘the Statue of Liberty’. All you need to do is paint the picture of how, at that particular moment, the city lights refract from the River Seine. Now your reader can picture your character in that setting.

Now consider that your novel is in a fictional city.

Firstly you will need describe the city in far more detail, including the landmark ‘tower’ your character is to propose on. This will take a lot more writing, which is not necessarily a bad thing, especially if you need the word count!

Also it is not always to your benefit if the readers are familiar with the setting. After all many readers perception may be based on, or limited to, the ‘picture-postcard’ vision of a city and it is possible that you wish to portray a very different side of that metropolis.

So your descriptions will have to be vivid enough to dispel false perception while constructing a new mental image to bring the reader closer to the one in your own mind.

While in a totally fictitious location the reader can bring no preconceptions with them. You will, therefore, have a blank canvas on which to paint your words.

To wind all this up…

images (1)If you are to set your location in an actual place, a real setting, then detailed knowledge or meticulous research will be demanded. The payback for this is that a romantic novel set in Paris has far stronger ‘shelf-appeal’ than one set in a fake city. A place no one has heard or knows of.

The same is true if your novel is set in New York, New Deli or cruising along the Nile. Choose a place lesser known and the majority of your readers would not have heard of it anyway!

In writing, particularly in the case of a full length novel, it is evocation of place and atmosphere. It is almost impossible to deal with these as separate elements. Place can and does determine atmosphere. For example where else could Stephen Kings ‘The Shining’ have been set? It had to be that isolated, snow-bound hotel on a mountain.

Some writers have the tenacity and patience to craft meticulous settings, they build amazing and entire worlds. Others approach by the minimalistic route, sprinkling few, but highly suggestive details into the narrative.

It matters not what genre, or what style you use your story will take place somewhere. A small room, a foreign country, another planet. Your setting can be a backdrop or a character itself.

But take a while, take a look. If most of the novels in your genre are set in a particular kind of location, say a shed, a farmstead kitchen or a city tower, that is a good indication that is what readers of that genre expect, possibly demand.

It does not mean that you have to stick with tradition or stay with the norm. That is your decision, to go with the run of the mill or similar, or do you strive for something new? Maybe you will compromise, add that slight twist?

Whatever you are writing consider the scope you have for creating the right setting. You may want to have a small room or you might want your novel to spread across galaxies, even the entire universe.

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Whatever you choose I hope that in some small way this has given you an insight to possibilities not before considered.

Oh, just before you leave I would like to say you can check the setting and locations I have used in my books by visiting my website at

http://paulznewpostbox.wix.com/paul-white

Thank you for reading yet another of my Ramblings, Paul.

How do your characters move?

Three men wearing masks,and holding guns while running(blurred motion)

It has been far too long since I have written a new post for this blog. The reason is that I have been busy writing my own stories for future publication.

During this time, as I reviewed and edited, I noticed how often I fell into the same trap as many others writers.

You see, as we writers scribble down our words our poor little fingers cannot keep up with the flow of information coming from our minds, so we tend, at least in the first draft, to use words, or a set of words which are the easiest, it is not a matter of laziness, because we know that we shall have to come back and make adjustments and corrections. It is simply a way of getting our thoughts on paper (or the computer screen).

But how dull, how boring and undescriptive that leaves our work, and how darned repetitive is ‘she said, he said’ or ‘he walked to the door, she walked to the door’. Yet it is often the way one must scribe their initial thoughts before they flit from our minds and disappear forever into the gloom of the forgotten.

My pet hate, the one I shall address here, is about movement, the descriptive movement of the characters which inhabit the fictitious worlds of our stories.

When I read that someone has ‘suddenly stood up’ or ‘started to walk to the door’ I cannot help but cringe.

No one ‘suddenly’ stands, they either stand or they do not.

No one ‘starts’ to walk, they either walk or they do not.

So my friends I have a little, sorry, a rather long list of possible alternatives which are far more descriptive. This is not, in any way, a definitive list, but merely an Aide-mémoire to help when we have a ‘mind-block’.

(For simplicity you will see they are all ‘he’-‘she’, but you will get the gist!)

I do however hope you find it useful, or in the least suggestive. Feel free to cut/paste/copy/bookmark or whatever you will. I have, after all, written this to help us all.

THE LIST!

he lowered his head

she hung her head

he ducked

she bowed her head

he covered his eyes with a hand

she pressed her hands to her cheeks

she raised her chin

he lifted his chin

her hands squeezed into fists

his hands tightened into fists

she clenched her fists

she balled her fists

he unclenched his fists

her arms remained at her sides

he shrugged

she gave a half shrug

he lifted his shoulder in a half shrug

she gave a dismissive wave of her hand

she raised a hand in greeting

he waved

she held up her hands

he lifted his hands

she held up her palms

he threw his hands in the air

she brushed her palms together

he rubbed his hands together

she made a steeple of her fingers

he spread his hands

she gesticulated

he waved his hands

she clapped her hands

he snapped his fingers

she held up a finger

he pointed

she gestured with a thumb

he jerked his thumb toward…

she extended her middle finger toward him

he gave her the finger

she gave him the thumbs up

she put her hands on her hips

she shoved her hands in her pockets

he jammed his hands in his front pockets

she rested a hand on her hip

she jutted out her hip

she folded her arms

he crossed his arms over his chest

she hugged herself

he wrapped his arms around himself

she rocked back and forth

she spread her arms wide

he held out his arms

she held out her hand

he extended a hand

he shook his head

she nodded

he bobbed his head

she tilted her head

he cocked his head

she inclined her head

he jerked her head in the direction of…

she turned her face away

he looked away

his breaths quickened

she panted

she was breathing hard

his chest rose and fell with rapid breaths

she took in a deep breath

he drew in a long breath

she took in a sharp breath

he gasped

she held her breath

he let out a harsh breath

she exhaled

he blew out his cheeks

she huffed

he sighed

she snorted

she laughed

he giggled

she guffawed

he chuckled

she gave a bitter laugh

he gave mirthless laugh

she tittered

he cackled

she rubbed her shoulder

he kneaded his shoulder

he rolled his shoulders

she tensed her shoulders

he massaged the back of his neck

she rubbed her temples

she rubbed her hands on her thighs

she ran her hand through her hair

he threaded a hand through his hair

he raked his fingers through his hair

he shoved his hair back away from his face

she toyed with a lock of hair

she played with her hair

she twirled her hair

she wrapped a curl around her finger

she tucked a lock of hair behind her ear

she undid her ponytail and shook out her hair

she tossed her hair

he buried his hands in his hair

he stroked his beard

he scratched his beard

she tugged at her earlobe

he bit a nail

she chewed on a cuticle

she picked at her nails

she inspected her fingernails

he plucked at the cuff of his shirt

she picked a piece of lint from her sleeve

he adjusted the lapels of his jacket

she fiddled with her earring / bracelet

he twisted the wedding ring on his finger

she played with her cell phone

he tugged at his shirt collar

he adjusted his tie

she smoothed down her skirt

she scratched her nose

he scratched his head

he rubbed his forehead

she rubbed her eyes

she pinched the bridge of her nose

he held his nose

she slapped her forehead

he smacked his forehead

he facepalmed

he slapped a hand over her mouth

she covered her mouth with her hand

she pressed her fingers to her lips

he held his finger up to his lips

he rubbed his chin

she pressed a hand to her throat

he clutched his chest

he leaned against the wall

she bounced on her toes

she jumped up and down

he tapped his foot

she stomped her foot

she folded her hands in her lap

she drummed her fingers on the table

he tapped his fingers on the table

he slammed his hand on the table

she pounded her fist on the table

she set her palms down flat on the table

he rested his hands on the table

she set her hands on the table, palms up

he leaned back in his chair

she hooked her feet around the chair legs

he gripped the arm of the chair

she put her hands behind her head

he put his feet on the desk

he fidgeted

she jiggled her foot

he swung his leg

she crossed her legs

he uncrossed his legs

she crossed her ankles in front of her

she stretched out her legs in front of her

he sprawled out

he put his feet on the desk

she cringed

he shuddered

she flinched

he shivered

she trembled

his body shook

she cowered

he shrank from…

she huddled in the corner

he pulled away

she jerked away

he turned away

she jolted upright

he stiffened

she straightened

he tensed

he jumped

she jumped to her feet

he stood up

she rose from her seat

she relaxed

he hunched

she slouched

her shoulders sagged

his shoulders slumped

she wilted

he went limp

he rolled his shoulders

she squared her shoulders

she clasped her hands behind her back

he puffed out his chest

she thrust out her chest

he propped his chin on his hand

she rested her chin on her palm

he yawned

she stretched

he turned around

she whirled around

he pivoted

she reeled

she stepped away

she drew nearer

he leaned closer

she inched forward

he loomed closer

he paced

she shifted from one foot to the other

he swayed on his feet

she dragged her feet

she pumped a fist

he thrust his fists in the air

she punched the air

A piece on the noble art of writing ‘Flash Fiction’.

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Basically flash fiction is a short form of storytelling.

Trying to define it by the number of words is a futile exercise. Purists may give a figure of 100 words, but that is arbitrary at best.

For most a story of under 1,000 words can be considered flash fiction, some even stretch this number to 1,500 words.

What is generally accepted is that ‘flash’ is an extremely short medium in which the writer must tell a complete story. Fragmented tales are not tolerated.

The challenge is to tell the tale in a way that every word is absolutely essential, discard all words which can be considered superfluous, leave only the gleaming white bones of direct narrative.

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Ernest Hemingway stated this wonderfully in his (over-quoted) dictum referencing an iceberg: Only show the top 10 percent of your story, leave the other 90 percent below water to be conjured.

Although it is a rather worn and overworked cliché it is one that should be born in mind when writing flash fiction.

Flash fiction is not a new phenomenon created by social media or the internet, it is an ancient writing form which has existed for millennium.

Some other names for this form of writing are: Sudden, fast, quick, postcard, minute, furious, and even skinny fiction!

The French often term this as ‘nouvelles’.

In China, pocket stories, minuet longs and palm-sized writings are frequently used terms.

download (2)I have also heard flash fiction referred to as ‘smoke stories’. A reference that it only takes as long to read a flash story as it does to smoke a cigarette!

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I know that this is a very short post in comparison to most of my ‘Ramblings’, perhaps it should be called a ‘flash blog’?

Thank you for reading this, enjoy the rest of your day.

I the meantime I shall leave you with a little ‘micro fiction’ piece which was inspired by the aforementioned Mr Ernest Hemingway.

‘Colt45. Used only once. Includes 5 shells. Sale due to recent bereavement’.

© Paul White 2015

Why not mosey over to my other blog ‘Further Ramblings and read some irreverent ruminations.

Understanding Black. (Notes for writers).

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Be it poetry, the opening scene of short story or an emotive section of a novel, the colour black is often utilised by writers to project or convey a ‘certain feeling’ to the reader.

But how many of us have actually considered why we perceive black in the way we do?

As one of the tools in our wordsmithing armoury should we not understand why the word black can be such a powerful device?

Generally black embodies the values of death, depression and evil. It can be used to describe something terrible or maybe a void.

But why do we identify black with badness, immorality or malevolent actions?

It is common in our society to use the word black as an exclusion, such as blacklist, black mark, or black sheep. We also apply it to people who we perceive of unpleasant actions, such as saying they have a black heart or black soul.

You may say it is because one wears black to a funeral, or it is the colour of mourning. But that is not necessarily so. In other cultures, such as China and India the traditional colour for mourning and reflecting death is white.

Not until Bollywood adopted and merged some western ideology into the Indian cinema, would you ever see anyone wearing anything but white sari at a funeral. In fact it would be considered impolite to wear black at any Hindu funeral.

Much of this form of the perception of black is a Christian/Western opinion based on ancient observation or teachings, much based on historical legend.

Ancient Greek myth has it that at the beginning there was just ‘Chaos’ or Khaos. (This does not mean ‘Disorder’ in the contemporary sense, but rather ‘Chasm’, in the sense of a dark, gaping space).

downloadKhaos gave birth to Erebus, the darkness of the Underworld and Nyx.

Nyx was the goddess of the night, one of the ancient Protogenoi (first-born elemental gods). In the cosmogony of Hesiod she was born of (Khaos) and breeding with Darkness (Erebos), produced Light (Aither) and Day (Hemera), first components of the primeval universe. Alone, she spawned a brood of dark spirits, including the fates, Sleep, Death, Strife and Pain.

Nyx was a primeval goddess usually represented as simply the substance of night: a dark veil of mist drawn forth from the underworld which blotted out the light of Aither (shining upper atmosphere).

Even in Nordic legend black has a prominence. The fire giant whose sparks made the universe.

Surt is the King of Fire in Norse mythology, the Lord of the Fire-Giants of the realm of Muspellheim.20a7f6c18823e6ed7d2cf7e4b25c4d4e

In the beginning, there was only the blackness of Ginnungagap, and then Surt appeared out of the blackness with his flaming sword and touched the land, it lit up and became the Realm of Fire.

Eventually it drew close enough to Niflheim, the primal Realm of Ice, that it warmed and melted the frozen earth, revealing Ymir the primal frost-giant and Audumhla the Great Cow. In this way, life was created from the meeting of fire and ice.

With these ancient wisdoms and beliefs being passed down the generations it is no wonder that darkness, that the deep black of night still has a resonance of anxiety and apprehension within us all.

Modern knowledge may have more acceptable theories such as the big bang, yet even here it is suggested that it was many thousand millennia after the bang before the first stars began to form, which is almost inconceivable to comprehend.

The thoughts of endless night, a total void of nothingness, a black hole encompassing the entire universe is frightening to most.

So it is not surprising that based on tradition, folklore, socially established conventions and custom that we westerners perceive black to hold the qualities of evil, depravity and immorality. Much of this is due to our cultural dread and fear of the unknown, the unseen and the minus light of darkness.

Now, add a touch of Hollywood movie conjoined with mass media and you have an ideal breading ground to spread rumour, fabrication, falsehood and fiction, all of which so easily becomes assimilated into the psyche of modern society.

saint-francis-borgia-helping-a-dying-impenitent-goya

Suddenly black is the epitome of all evil, it is the quintessence of Goyan nightmares, of original sin, of death, of satanic rituals, black mass, sexual depravation and transgression.

Black becomes the cloak of darkness for vampires, the shadow where werewolves lurk, forests of malevolent spirits and the embodiment of evil itself.

Or does it?

Because there is another side to black, a lighter, brighter side to this deepest of darkness.

Fashion, glamour, opulence, style and desirability.

Black is the new black.

Here lies a social and perceptive disjuncture.

The sleek aesthetics of glossy black fashion, a world of sequins, leather of obsidian jet chic and metallic black Ferraris.

Here is a transgression from black’s authority of depression and nightmare.

This is a juncture where modern mindfulness separates the black associated with the natural world, the world of dark recesses and shadows of mystery and myth, from the brighter black of the contemporary, enlightened and progressive world of today.

The little black dress, appealing, sensual, hinting at naughtiness, suggestive of excitement. This is sexy black, the black of lacy underwear, of thin straps revealing rather than concealing, the offering of promise.

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Yet even here the evocative black is tinged with an inference of deprivation, of transgression from the acceptable. It is that, the allure of going beyond the boundaries, the immorality of wild or illicit acts which is attractive, which whets our carnal appetites.

The modern black, the black of this world is the white light black of Newton and Robert Boyle.

So be it.

Therefore to know, to understand which black to choose when weaving that spell in your novel of dark fantasy, or which black to spill across the pages of a bloody thriller is a most important element.

Select the modern black, the industrial manufactured black for seduction and pride, for sex and sheen.

Take hold of the natural, the organic, ancient, primordial black which seeps uncertainty, drips terror and dread for your dark scenes, your night horrors and death itself.

Choose your darkness well my friends, write admirably and when the shadows of sleep creep upon your wearied eyelids, shutting the out the light, sleep soundly in the comfort of the black night……If you dare.

© Paul White 2015

Website: http://paulznewpostbox.wix.com/paul-white

You may also enjoy reading some of my short stories at: https://alittlemorefiction.wordpress.com/

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Another great site all writers need

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You folks should know by now that I am always looking for great sites which will help improve our writing skills, or simply encourage us to continue when we feel down or have that thing some call ‘writers block’.

Another area I am always keen to explore is marketing, advertising and promotion because once we have written our books we want to share our stories with the world.

At least I do!


Over the past few weeks I have highlighted book promo sites:

PROMOCAVE http://promocave.com/

AUTHORSdb http://authorsdb.com/

and of course SNEAK PEEK https://takeasneakpeak.wordpress.com/

I have also blogged about MELANIE ROCKET’s wonderful, informative & useful website http://wp.me/p5 one which I would highly recommend you visit whether you are an experienced writer or just starting out.


There is yet one more fantastic site which offers all sorts of advice for writers along with direct help.xlogo.png.pagespeed.ic.HZT-ltPmGK

NOW NOVEL http://www.nownovel.com/

The ‘How to’ pages and blogs are excellent, like how to create tension-eight methods, or how to pace a crime novel, even six secrets to writing a series.

Furthermore you can submit a 500 word sample for criticism by other writers, or constructively criticise their 500 word samples. This is a wonderful way to get personalized feedback to give you direction, and support to improve your story.

ill-1One of my favourites from Now Novel is a process that gives you a blueprint for writing your novel. It’s guaranteed to get you from where you are now to where you want to be.

Now Novel is a structured method designed to help you finish your novel. The process is organised and easy to use, with helpful mentorship and consistent motivation to give you one essential thing: the blueprint for your novel.

Don’t just take my word for it, go check out Now Novel’s site yourself, mooch around and read. You will be glad you did.

I hope the above will help you, as they have me.

Keep tapping away!

Paul.