Thursday, 22 September 2011

Punctuation and Motivation

Wednesday's Wicked Websites

Okay so it's no longer Wednesday but I always said I was a slow writer. You can see, thanks to thinking about the Kaizen Plan, I am getting steadier. Two posts in one week, whew!

Today's websites are not motivational in the sense of asking you to do anything about your mindset. I wouldn't dream of it.

They are motivational in that they consist of short actions which sound like fun and which could be used with promotional material.
I'm early for the first one to give you a fair chance to have entries in by closing date.

International Punctuation Day

Officially it's the Eighth National Punctuation Day tomorrow but it's now pretty international with entries last year coming from all over the world for their haiku contest.

This year, the competition consists of writing and punctuating a maximum of three sentences. Surely something we can all do. Even I might manage in time.

But, and here's the rub, your three sentence paragraph must include the following thirteen (13) punctuation marks:

apostrophe, brackets, colon, comma, dash, ellipsis, exclamation point, hyphen, parentheses, period, question mark, quotation mark, and semicolon. You may use a punctuation mark more than once.

As of yesterday there were already 108 entries received. You can check out the correct usage of each of the marks on the site or leave  a question at  Happy Editing.

Entries to Jeff (at) NationalPunctuationDay (dot) com through September 30

Promo idea

If  you're now worn out playing with punctuation Ps and Qs and need to recharge creatively, lots of sites now offer you the chance to make free banners.

I've been thinking up headers for my new website but on the way made lots of small banners and icons for sites like FaceBook and Twitter.

Google offers a great array of promotional sites but my favourite was Banner Fans. I found it straightforward, easy to understand and it did not ask me to reveal all my personal details to register. Hurrah.    I can see from this that the size need tweaking and my second line needs some height re-adjustment .That is easily done if you've saved the original information you selected.

Doing this online means registering your details. I used the old-fashioned method of pen and paper.

Twitter URLs

I'm often asked how to post short URLs in Twitter. I cheat. Twitter itself will shorten a URL so that you don't use up too many characters. If I'm retweeting, I just use the link and the link shortener already provided.

Lengthier answers and links can be found in the guide from

Again check carefully to ensure any outside site you use to help shorten the links is safe.

I need to talk. I'm a fan of Web of Trust. Just flagged it up quickly intending to recommend it and my computer flagged up the dire warning: "This site is deemed to be unsafe." LOL


Monday, 19 September 2011

Motivate Your Monday

 What Motivates You?

Slow writers are apt to have far too much time to think. Eyes glazed over, we languish from a surfeit of blogs, an overload of information.

We haven't finished our book, We have nothing to promote but ourselves and we're fast losing confidence in doing that.

Recognize the scenario? You need to get your work out there. You need to know someone else appreciates what you do.

Motivational Ideas: First Steps First

As a suggestion for rethinking your life, try The Kaizen Plan. The word is  Japanese and embodies the concept of continuous improvement through taking small steps--perhaps only a ten minute change daily to help you focus on and achieve your goals, whatever these may be.

Although I've used one of the writing links, you can scroll down the righthand side menu under categories and start from week 0 if you like.

Interesting as a displacement activity, the plan consists of some worthwhile ideas to keep you on track. Stop beating yourself up about the goals you haven't achieved. Think of the ten-minute steps you can take to boost your output starting now.

Writing Contests

Writing contests are a  good source of ideas as well as a motivator to speed up your writing. No use planning on doing one in three years' time. Bit the bullet. Get started and enter for something now. At worst, you will have one piece of work completed. At best, you may earn yourself a useful critique or even a following.

Two competitions  closing soon are The Writers' Village Autumn Award 2011, closing date September 30,  and two Wattpad contests with same closing date and, while you're on that page, check out the Watty awards. Maybe a bit late to gather a fan club by the Round One closing date but this is one you could be starting early for next year.

Always read past winning entries too, to give yourself a flavour of the writing that does well in the particular contest you decide to enter.

If you're really after a displacement activity try the Writing Contests page at Manuscript Editing dot com. Keep you busy for months.

Help Market Other Authors with your Blog

If you're finding it difficult to motivate yourself when it comes to blogging, have a look at a couple of authors who might just tempt you to write another post or two.

I  mentioned Terri Main's  website and blog last week but her offer still stands and it really is worth making the effort for this one.

Email her with "Free Book" in the subject line to receive a free e-copy of her Creative Calisthenics workbook, worth five dollars as well as an anthology of Carolyn Masters' Mysteries called Lunar Calendar. It includes one story never before published introducing a pintsized genius and a robotic cat, an exclusive excerpt from Dark Side of the Moon, and a $20 pre-launch discount on premium upgrades to courses offered on the new EducationWantsToBeFree website.

Her blog posts give a flavour of the book and it seems more than probable that her ideas, as promised, will start your imagination working overtime.

New to me was author Scott Nicholson's marketing technique

Promote his books this month and earn gift cards, freebies, and other great prizes! He says he'll be giving away 15 percent of his ebook income in September as a thanks to  readers and bloggers who spread the word about his books. His initial dollar giveaway for week one has ended. Now the giveaways are all on the sites listed in his main blog.
Interesting idea. And it looks like it's making him sales. 

Let me know if you find anything new to do after reading this. The Kaizen Plan is so far working for me. After all, what's ten minutes every day if it helps you crack on with something new?

Wednesday, 14 September 2011


I never really understood about focus. I focus on on everything I do, everything I read, everyone I meet, every tweet I scan. In fact, it can be quite hard to live with all that focusing.  LOL

Shifting from task to task, jumping to tackle the most urgent, the latest deadline, to sympathise with the neediest friend, to manage the day without lying awake most of the night to plan the next...and in the end, always that feeling of running behind the action.

I was rooted behind my computer, feet fixed in the debris of research notes, reference books, discarded prinouts when I realised I was worn out and going nowhere fast.

Every week I have a great idea for a blogpost--and never write it. Every week I check to download the latest version of Scrivener, reread my novel notes--and put them on hold. Every week I intend to do three Pilates sessions--enough said.

Slow and steady? Slow and going nowhere more like.

It has taken a four day enforced break from Internet communications to find out what focus really means. I again have time in the day for family, pets and housework (not so keen on that.) I know what I'm doing (too much but that's what suits me.)

I have a plan

The Prosperity Plan

Fear not. This is not another get-rich-impossibly-quick scheme. I'm after emotional prosperity. Finding the time to do what I love to do as well as working and being happy with family, friends and pets.

It has taken time but I have found, I think, where my true focus of writing interest lies.

So on Wednesdays I shall be reviewing three wicked new or new-to-me websites . That stops me feeling so guilty about all the web-surfing I do instead of writing.

On Fridays, to tie in with Twitter's #fridayreads, I shall review three books I'm reading or that you'd like me to read. Crits will be my opinion only but given honestly and to the best of my ability. I truly believe we can learn from everything we read and everything read informs and creates a better writer.

My Motivational Mondays will be a mix of everything and anything of writing interest I have picked up in the week. So without more ado:

Wednesday's Wicked Websites

Education Wants to be Free

I like the layout and ethos of this blog. The main site is not yet totally up and running but the blog is full of helpful and motivational ideas. Terri Main is a dedicated teacher and a great writer.

Until November 30 she is offering a free e-copy of her acclaimed Creative Callisthenics : The Ultimate Workout for the Writer's Imagination, an anthology of Carolyn Masters Mysteries and a pre-launch discount for her new Education Wants to be Free website. Well worth bookmarking for ideas and help.

Karen Cote

Warning: Karen does write naughty-but-nice romantic suspense (her new book out in October is entitled Erotic Deception) and she is with Museit Hot publishing so you may need to pick and choose what you visit on this site.I have chosen it for its innovative features and for being a great example of fitness for purpose.

The colour, the talking avatars may not suit everyone but they're a great example of what can be done to make your site individual to you and accessible to more visitors.  She has podcast interviews with award-winning authors like Brenda Novak and Holly Lisle and hosts the Writers Pen for Charity Lounge.

This week it features Nancy Bell and Laurel's Miracle--a YA being sold with donations to horse charity Dare to Dream.

Krista D Ball

Again  an innovative layout and Krista always has something to say that needs to be said. I've chosen an older post from this week which has resounded with her writer-readers and spookily enough she has also been taking stock of her year so far.

A good example to follow when it comes to planning, writing and marketing,

Is it the onset of autumn or the start of a new term that has  us all mulling over the dreaded phrase from past report books: " Needs to focus. Must do better."?

Dark Side of the Moon: a cozy mystery set in Space.

Regency comes face to face with scifi
MuseItUpPublishing Top Ten seller