Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Weekly Writing Resources

Wednesday's an odd day--half way in to the week and half way to go to the weekend. If you land yourself in the midweek doldrums, take time out for a quick visit to a few of the writing sites around and experiment with  new software to automate the more repetitive tasks you do. Find something to take the effort out of your writing/publishing ventures.

With all the November writing challenges almost here, anything that makes the writing life easier is useful.

This week I have downloaded three new-to-me programs to evaluate for ease of use and usefulness. Open Office, the free word processing system, has for some reason never worked too well on my computer so I have downloaded Libre Office. I am told this is more compatible with Word and can handle things like Track Changes which is a vital aid for both writer and editor when edits time arrives.

sceen shot Tree Sheets on Mac

Next I chose Tree Sheets , recommended for note taking, mind mapping and arranging thoughts. It may prove to be a bit of a steep learning hillock but comes with its own tutorial. I'll let you know.

And my third download is Sigil, an epub editor.

All three were recommended in Techradar's top ten best free software for writers. I shall try them out and post my reviews next week. Often I'm quicker just using the same old...same old...

What is your favorite writing software? What wouldn't you be without? Let me know your choices in the comments below.


ps: think I've solved the riddle of the missing comment boxes. If I click on the Slow and Steady heading link along the top of my blog, all the menu links and comment boxes miraculously appear. Yay!

Monday, 28 October 2013

The Benefits of Hosting Others

The Benefits of Hosting Others

guest post by Jo Linsdell

A book tour has long been known as one of the most effective ways of creating a buzz about your book and growing your author brand. With internet you now have the opportunity to do a virtual book tour and reach even more people whilst leaving a virtual footprint that will keep your marketing efforts working for you long after the event is over.

The benefits of doing virtual book tours are numerous: collecting reviews, creating a buzz about your book, increased sales, can help become a best seller, strengthening author brand... the list goes on. What I want to share with you today though is the benefits of hosting.
I recently filmed this video where I talk about the benefits of hosting others.

Do you host others on your site? What other benefits have you noticed from hosting?

Jo Linsdell is a best selling author and illustrator, award winning blogger, and freelance writer. She is also the founder and organiser of the annual online event Promo Day ( Her latest release Virtual Book Tours: Effective Online Book Promotion From the Comfort of Your Own Home is now available from Amazon. Find out more about her at her website

* * * *
A heartfelt welcome today to Jo who dropped in to Slow and Steady Writers to talk about how to create a buzz for your book. Jo is not only an award-winning writer but an expert marketer as well. 
Best of all, she is a truly nice person, always willing to help others. When it comes to promotion, her halp and advice is invaluable. 

Virtual Book Tours
About the book:

Virtual Book Tours are a great way to create a buzz for a new release or to put life back into an older publication. 
In this book Jo takes you through everything you need to know to be able to set up and carry out a successful virtual book tour. The book is divided into 4 main sections for easy navigation: 
1) What is a Virtual Book Tour? 
2) How to organise your own tour 
3) Promoting a tour 
4) Useful resources.
You'll find it packed with links, tips, and advice to help make your tour a hit.

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Create a Challenge

PiBoIdMo official competitior logo

Writers seem to thrive on challenges--a specific word count per day, a set time in which to write a book or e-book. Who's signed up for NanoWriMo for November? Yep, a real challenge. A Novel in a Month--madness!
But more and more novelists are writing and publishing because of it.

This year I'm following Tara Lazar's PiBoIdMo--aiming to create a picture book idea a day for 30 days. The challenge works on the honor system and there are lots of, are you beginning to get the picture?

A good motivational idea, daily support from guest bloggers with a track record in achievement, or just your own diary of successes and failures, and the feel good factor at the end of the month.

Both Chris Baty and Nano and Tara Lazar started with very few followers...and look at them now. They have built strong self-supportive communities of creative writers and artists working together, networking for success.

Find more writing contests for November here

Search out challenges, see what makes them successful and start your own. Just not in November, please.

And be sure to share all the challenges you create in the comments here as well as on your social networking sites.

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Writing Challenges

Albert Anker [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Writing challenges are always popular. The trick is to find and join one that matches your needs. Do you want to improve your writing skills? Do you want to swap procrastination for action? Do you finally want to  see that book published to Kindle?

Every month of the year sees the return of an established challenge or the creation of a new one.

There are no winners or losers.  Whatever happens you will extend your abilities that little bit more, increase your networking acquaintances and make yourself more viable as a writer.

Taking Up the Challenge

Between pressure of work and procrastination, I lost my way this Spring and flip-flopped between possible projects and ideas so fast they all floundered. My poor blog lost its way.

Then Marg McAlister of Writing4Success appeared in my email inbox. Her 7 week Writing challenge sounded perfect. Set your own goals. Fit writing into the ten-minute slots of the day you're apt to waste.

She is fitting her writing life into her holiday travel schedule and like everything she does, she is doing it brilliantly.

But to my amazement, with her  helpful insights on my comments, so am I.

In less than two weeks, I have cleared my backlog of term papers, my editing pile and am now on my fun DIFM (Do-It-For-Me) projects starting with planning my blogs. And I still have five weeks to go...Start now and you'll be surprised at how much you accomplish in those small blocks of time.

Yesterday I started work again on my editing blog and changed Slow and Steady Writers to a more dynamic template. Let me know if you love it or hate it.

Where to Find Writing Challenges

Use a search engine. Add a specific time limit--one day, 7 day, 30 day. A month is good if you are using it to develop a particular writing habit. has a month by month list including the three day novel writing contest over Labor Day weekend (Aug 31-Sept. 2). 

Set your own goals first than find a challenge to 
match. Or adapt an idea from another artistic 

The Ted talk by Cesar Kuriyama on creating a one second video for every day of your life is inspirational. Adapt it by writing one perfect sentence every day of your life encapsulating the greatest memory or moment of that day.

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Writing to Improve Your Skills

Guest author today is Karina Fabian, who has taken the time to write a special post for Slow and Steady Writers and to visit us on her book tour. 

Winner of the 2010 INDIE for best Fantasy (Magic, Mensa and Mayhem), Karina  has imagination that takes quirky twists that keep her--and her fans--amused.

Nuns working in space, a down-and-out Faerie dragon, zombie exterminators—there’s always a surprise in her worlds. 

Mrs. Fabian teaches writing and book marketing seminars, but mostly is concerned with supporting her husband, Rob Fabian as he makes the exciting leap from military officer to civilian executive, getting her kids through high school and college, and surviving daily circuit torture…er, circuit training.  Read about her adventures at  

And please leave a comment below for a chance to win a free electronic copy of Greater Treasures

Writing to Improve Your Skills

By Karina Fabian

If you are not rejected at least three times a week, you aren’t really trying.

I used to have a fortune cookie paper with that on it taped to my computer screen.  Nowadays, I’m not really trying, not by that definition, anyway.  I’ve been sticking with a couple of paying gigs, and writing novels and stories for opportunities that catch my eye, which means I’m not submitting very often. 

However, when writing, that maxim holds that to succeed, you must produce and submit.  Whatever genre or venue you choose—science fiction novels to business articles—you can only succeed if you try.

In addition, you want to be smart about your work if you want to grow.  Hope Clark has a fantastic rubric in her book, The Shy Writer.  ( I don’t remember the exact details, but it goes something like this:

25% easy writing:  Stuff you know you can sell, stuff you do for fun, stuff you do for free and can write in your sleep

50% writing with some challenge:  You’ll have to find the market, use your imagination, stretch your skills.  It’s writing that takes a little work.

25% aim high:  Write for the magazine or publisher you might not be ready for, something that challenges your skills.  The longshot stuff.  Eventually, you’ll start reaching some of these, and your skill will grow as you push for them.

When Hope mentioned this in a guest chat, I decided to see how that worked in my world.  Here’s what I came up with:

Easy: blogs and self-publishing stories that I love but have not found a home for.  Greater Treasures is the first in the self-publishing venture.  Also the articles I write for Community Entrepreneurs.  (I’ve done business features for decades now.)

Medium challenge: Anthologies that catch my eye, stories or articles that go outside my usual genre.  Sometimes, the opportunity might come to me, but the challenge is to be worthy of it.  Also, the current novel I’m writing, which has a publisher waiting.

Aim High: I have two novels I believe are worthy of the big traditional publishers and which I’ll keep shopping for several years before giving up on them.  I have a couple of other novels in mind to write.  Not sure if they will be aim high or medium challenge yet.
I probably need more in the aim high category, but with the rest of my life challenging me as it is, I’m content to wait.  Your proportions might vary as well, but always strive to have something in each category.

Remember, too, that to succeed in writing, you must also submit.  Send out your works.  Take the chance. Accept rejection, learn from it if you can and keep on.  Whether it’s three times a week or once a year, success depends on producing and submitting.

* * * *
About Greater Treasures:  Most people associate the DragonEye stories with high humor ranging from puns to slapstick, and in fact, the first stories and the novels have certainly been crazy fun.  But the life of a cynical dragon PI isn’t all laughs, and Vern has had a few chilling stories to tell me.  Some of these, I’ve sold to anthologies, but some are too long for that.  Thus, I’ve decided to start publishing them on my own. 

One thing I like to do for DragonEye stories is watch old noir films.  Greater Treasures came to me while watching the Maltese Falcon.  If you’ve never seen it, I recommend it.  (Then, reread the story to see if you catch the in jokes.)  I needed something with more “oomph” than a bird statue, and since Vern has some history with the Lance of Longinus, it made a good fit.  I enjoyed looking up all the conspiracy theories about the use of the Lance by Hitler, which is where the neo-Nazi angle came in.  To say more would be spoilers, so please, enjoy the story.
And if you do, be sure to check out Vern’s other tales at

Thanks Karina for all the information and advice. So glad you could visit us today.

And thanks for the chance to win an e-copy of Greater Treasures by leaving a comment below.

Monday, 22 April 2013

How to Create A Meme

I started to write this on April 1 and realized it was the next best thing to an April Fool joke. The ambitious title promises help in creating a meme--a tall order since the definition of a meme is still fluid and transforming  through usage as a computer term.

The precedent is already set. Icons morphed from being religious images of saints and the Holy Family, usually painted on wood, into being pictorial symbols for computer files in the late twentieth century. Now journalists use the word wholesale to tag any celebrity or charismatic politician.

The word meme is relatively new but since its appearance just thirty years ago to denote a cultural imperative passed wordlessly through generations, it has changed to refer to any picture of image which catches global attention.

Now it's an image or video that goes viral on the Internet--usually humorous and/or political. Sharing across social networking sites and through emails makes it easy to attract world-wide interest.

Creating the image is the easy part. Creating the true viral meme is in the lap of the gods.

How to Create Your Meme

1. Decide what you want it to do: promote a book or a service, share a worthwhile quote, make a statement about life.
    Have a look at one choice for the twenty-five best memes of all time.
    Warning: this could be a time waster.

2. Check out the many meme generators online--another time-fill for those of us happily procrastinating out there.

A review of the best meme generators is a useful starting place if you want an off-the-peg solution.
     Or: check out piZap.
     Warning: lots of ads but it is an amazing free photo editor. 
Select edit photo and you will find a meme option which allows you to add text top and bottom meme-style. You can also create photo collages and FB timeline covers.

3. Choose your own image to suit your purpose.
    Warning: Remember laws of copyright apply
You need to use your own photograph or choose one that has a licence to allow its adaptation as a meme. If using your book cover for promo purposes, make sure the meme text is memorable not just a buy me shout.

Useful software

Unless you already have photo editing software, try Paint, more features than the Microsoft version, or PowerPoint, or Gimp.
You can use a plain background for quotations
Just fill the box with the color of your choice.
Add text or text and photo and job done.

If you're using Powerpoint. select a size, add image, caption and off you go.

Related text
Writers on the Move: Memes and Themes

Let me know how you get on and send me a link to your meme. Hopefully we can create a mini meme gallery here to showcase them. Have fun.

Monday, 15 April 2013

Turn Your Stories into Videos--The Easy Way

I love technology and new ideas for marketing and displaying writing creativity And I'm doubly delighted today to present my guest blogger Dr.John Yeoman of Writers' Village.

It's a wonderful site for writers packed with information and hosting excellent and helpful writing competitions as you are always promised a helpful critique of your story.

His learning curve in creating the You Tube video on Power Writing that Sells provides a useful step by step guide for simply turning our stories into video.

Do please comment below with your own thoughts, suggestions and ideas.

How To Turn Your Stories Into Videos  The Easy Way

A guest post by Dr John Yeoman

photo from Robgowman, Wikimedia Commons

Have you ever thought of turning your stories or 
poems into videos? True, you could read them aloud 
and podcast them. But a video lets you add graphics, 
backdrops, animation and much else, as well as voice 
and music. 

Your stories glow. The problem is, how can you produce your own quality video and post it at YouTube without a great deal of technical knowledge?

The answer may surprise you. Use Powerpoint! 

I’ve been using Powerpoint for years when teaching 
my university classes in creative writing. Powerpoint 
helps me illustrate texts, animate them and add music 
clips or background narration. It brings my classes 
alive! Powerpoint is also simple to learn, if you have a 
good manual beside you. (I recommend Powerpoint 
for Dummies.) 

So when I wanted to create a ‘class’ in story writing 
techniques as an automated presentation in my web 
site, I thought of Powerpoint. I’m utterly non-technical 
so it took a lot of experimentation but finally I 
produced a video - Power Writing That Sells - that 
attracted more than 480 views on YouTube in its first 
three days.

It’s not slick but it works. Here’s how you can do the 
same for a story, poem or any sort of text whatever 
that you’d like to transfer to a video.

First, I created a presentation in Powerpoint, using 
just a few simple graphics. I animated the sections, so 
they dissolved or flew in at the click of a mouse. Then 
I added a voice-over and manually advanced the 
sections at each step as I recorded my voice. (That’s 
difficult to describe but any good Powerpoint manual 
will show you how to automate a presentation with a 

Now I had a ppt show that would play automatically at 
the click of a button. But I still faced a challenge. How 
could I get it up on the web for public view? First, I 
tried Slideshare. That proved to be useless for 
my purposes, because it does not support voice-
overs for Powerpoint (although you can upload videos 
to Slideshare). Then I stumbled on Prezi, a new 
rival to Powerpoint that lets you make beautiful 
presentations. But again you can’t add voice-overs. 

I realised that an automated Powerpoint presentation 
will not, by itself, work acceptably on the web. 

Powerpoint slide for Power Writing that Sells
I first had to turn the ppt into a video. I needed a 
conversion program. What did I use? I tried 
Wondershare then Moyea. Both of them 
seem to be identical, except that Moyea accepts 
PayPal and Wondershare doesn't. 

So I paid Moyea around $40, downloaded the software and found the conversion from ppt to video was simple. Even for 
somebody who’s not technical.

But I still had the same problem. How could I post my 
video on the web? Metacafe offered me a free platform,
but it inserted 20 seconds of ghastly advertising at the start
of my video, totally wrecking it. 

Of course, YouTube was the answer. I uploaded the 
video and stumbled around the site until I found the 
Video Manager section at YouTube, plus my video 
URL. I plugged the code into my website. (Every 
platform has a different way to do that.) 

Lo, it worked! That said, the video didn't appear at 
YouTube quite the way I wanted. Nor can viewers click 
directly on the hyperlinks within my video. (I know it 
can be done but I haven’t yet discovered how.) 

For me, producing my first video was a painful 
learning curve but the process, once learnt, is simple. 

My next step is to bypass Powerpoint and produce a 
video of one of my live classes in creative writing. 
Could somebody please lend me a copy of Video 
Making for Dummies?

Dr John Yeoman, PhD Creative Writing, judges the Writers’ Village story competition and is a tutor in creative writing at a UK university. 

He has been a successful commercial author for 42 years. You can find a wealth of ideas for writing stories that sell in his 

free 14-part course at Writers’ Village:


Slideshare at

Prezi at

Wondershare at

Moyea at

Metacafe at

Writers' Village at

And the video that started it all: Power Writing That Sells

coming next week: How to Create a Meme
coming April 29:   How to Create an Infographic

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Writers On The Move: Memes and Themes

Writers On The Move: Memes and Themes: The young delight in everything new...and then think they know it all. We oldies delight in finding newer and newer words and concepts and ...

Monday, 11 March 2013

Make Money Writing

E-book sales are not as easy to come by as many marketers would suggest. A light-hearted and much more down-to earth view of e-book marketing written by Australian author Wendy Laharnar: My Pet Peeve--Marketing started me thinking of ways in which authors could make money and advertise their books at the same time.

Another Australian author, Ruth Barringham, is following her own advice this month and undertaking the challenge of submitting one piece of work a day for the next thirty days. An exhausting feat as she readily admits.
12 month challenge

Now if you follow my love of challenges, you may decide to take on Ruth's 12 month writing challenge. I have downloaded the first two months free while I think about what is involved. But Ruth certainly seems to be making a living. 

And it does seem that with several books to market, an author's sales  increase exponentially. But as always, how can we juggle marketing and writing and be successful at both.

As my guest blogger this week, I am delighted to welcome Ruth Barringham who has a surprising answer--but one I greet with overwhelming relief.

Over to Ruth.

30-Day Social Media Blackout

Have you ever noticed that great ideas always come when you least expect it and it’s always when you’re doing other non-work-related things?

Running your own online business means you’re always looking for more creative ways to increase your business. But it’s all too easy to waste time searching the internet, spending hours on social media sites or reading other people’s blogs.

But when you’re busy on these types of time wasters, you’re only thinking about and commenting on what others are doing and creating, but you’re not doing anything yourself.

Nothing creative is ever achieved online. Even when you run an online business you do most of your work off-line.

The Latest Vogue for Getting More Done

It seems to be that too much time spent online means getting less work done.

The latest vogue appears to be to have a social media blackout.
Bloggers and website owners all over the globe are taking one month to abstain from being online so that they can get more work done. The only thing they do is check their email every day to make sure there’s nothing urgent that they have to answer and then they go off-line for the rest of the day.

They keep this up for 30 days without visiting a social media site, emailing their subscribers or posting on their blogs.

And it seems to be working every time. They all come back online with stories of not only how much work they got done, but how many new ideas they have and how creative they were.

Many of them even plan to have an online blackout as a regular thing whenever they have a lot of work to do.

And I can imagine how great it must be to get off-line for so long and get creative. I always have my best ideas when I’m doing other things like dog walking, cleaning or even grocery shopping (a boring task that I don’t like so I just take my shopping list, buy what I need and get the hell out of there).

So if you want to get creative, stop following others and “liking” and “tweeting” their stuff.
Instead, get off-line and get busy doing your own thing.

About The Author: Ruth Barringham is a freelance writer and online marketer and has been writing professionally since 1999. She started her own publishing company in 2007 where she publishes all her books and ebooks. She also teaches others how to start and grow an online business at

More Helpful eBooks for Writers

Find Ruth's books by Clicking here to visit Cheriton House Publishing Pty Ltd.
She uses marketing site e-junkie where you can also download three free e-books: Publishing Your First eBook, The Art of Blogging Debunked and Exploring Game-Changing Tactics of Online Marketing as well as innumerable helpful pdf articles for writers.

And of course I've downloaded all the free e-books and just means I spend the time I've saved on my social media blackout on reading. lol

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Read an E-Book Week

Read an E-Book
E-Book Week
E-Books are here to stay--or are they? Remember cassette tapes? Remember videos? Are you still using CDs? With technology fast forwarding at dizzying speeds, predictions that e-book readers may soon be superseded are appearing on techy websites.

But, as always, the more things change, the more they stay the same. Nineteenth century French editor Alphonse Karr said it first --Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose. 

Even vinyl is making a come back. The young read and write more than ever using the latest devices and social media sites. And those of us who are older are finding it so much easier to change up to larger fonts to read e-books rather than lugging around a heavy large print edition, if we could even find one.

Read an E-Book Week (3rd to 9th March), supported by authors and publishers, celebrates and promotes e-books all over the world.

The home page not only offers free e-books, competitions to win e-readers and gives you an option to recycle old Kindles, it links to articles on the future of e-books and e-book trends

Today's contest (March 7) is for a Nook Simple Touch Reader from Barnes & Noble. It's based on a simple question about an interface which will allow e-book readers to "page" through an e-book just like a paper book. lol. Plus ca change.....

read an ebook now

E-Book Recommendations

My e-book library started off gleaned from Project Gutenberg, then SmashWords and now is increased most weekends by selections from the Top Hundred Free books in the Kindle Store.

I also have some firm favorites from content editing at MuseItUp Publishing where Read an E-book Week extends from March 10-16. Indie publishers have opened up the world of books allowing some very talented authors a chance to make a name for themselves. 

What have been your favorite reads this week? Drop a recommendation in the comment box below. More books are sold through recommendations than massively expensive publicity.

Recommend a book or books. If we all help an author find another keen reader, we help keep good books on our shelf (or e-reader lol)

Why haven't I recommended a favorite author? I started listing best books and the list just went on and on and on.... :-)

So over to you...

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Writers On The Move: The Million Dollar Writing Question

Writers On The Move: The Million Dollar Writing Question: Spurred on by the gratification of almost instant virtual publishing, more and more people are queuing up to achieve fame as authors or wo...

I wrote this at the weekend for Writers On The Move and hoped someone would help me debate what makes a good book.

Obviously it's horses for courses. Some days we want to be entertained, some days we want to learn, some days we want to consider universal dilemmas.

But is there an underlying theme or structure that helps us choose what we want to read?

Wish I knew...

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

New Writing Year

Now why don't I just settle for what I can do? 

New Year, new tricks.

I have given in and invested in Dragon NaturallySpeaking version 12. With so many assignments to do this year as well as my editing commitments and long promised webinars for Writers on the Move, I am hoping that talking to my computer will be far quicker than  typing. It also gives me the chance just to ramble on as I would normally.

This is the first morning of using the program so I will write an updated review after I've been using it for a month.

I am still amazed when it does what I tell it and how accurate it is after such a short time.


No goals but loads of motivation. The year as always starts with frenetic activity – Editpalooza lll at Savvy Authors has produced another wonderful team of authors editing their romance and urban fantasy novels throughout January. Another set of exciting propects.

Tip from one of my team members:

If you're writing a romance novel in any shape or form, have a look at signing up for the free webinar offered by Crimson Romance on January 23 at 3 PM Eastern. This is a relatively new publishing house open for romance submissions and publishing four titles a week.

If you're short on the motivation, click on Joan Y. Edwards' Never Give Up logo that's heading the right hand column. Joan is indefatigable and it's infectious.

Back soon to add in the missing links and perhaps even do some planning. But for the moment I'm tired of talking and I have a horrid feeling that I perhaps need to type to function.