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                      W R I T I N G   W O R L D

A World of Writing Information - For Writers Around the World

                    http://www.writing-world.com

Issue 11:09           12,534subscribers           May 5, 2011
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IN THIS ISSUE:
=================================================================
 
THE EDITOR'S DESK: Where Were We Then? by Moira Allen
THE INQUIRING WRITER: Kick-Starting Writing, by Dawn Copeman 
NEWS FROM THE WORLD OF WRITING 
FEATURE: Writing Press Releases, by Dawn Copeman
COLUMN: Free Stuff for Writers: Web Promotion Tools,
by Aline Lechaye
THE WRITE SITES -- Online Resources for Writers
The Author's Bookshelf

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FROM THE EDITOR'S DESK
================================================================
Where Were We Then?
-------------------

Like much of the rest of the planet, I couldn't resist tuning in to
the royal wedding.  It's lovely to see so much air time devoted to
something uplifting and positive for a change.  Yet, at the same
time, one can't miss the fact that so much of this wedding is not
just about the bride and groom, but about Princess Diana--and about
her death.  

So, naturally, the wedding got me thinking about that tragic event,
just fourteen years ago.  It also got me thinking about where we
were--and what has changed in those fourteen years.  In particular,
it got me thinking about how much has changed for WRITERS.  (There,
see?  I managed to bring this back to the issue of writing fairly
quickly!)

I remember picking up the newspaper on my doorstep and reading the
news.  I also remember that, just a day or two before, I had joined
my very first online discussion group.  Suddenly my inbox was full
of messages as members of the group shared their reactions,
discussing Diana's life and death, the evils of paparazzi, and so
forth.  In spite of the tragedy, it was an amazing experience to be
sharing thoughts and feelings with people I'd never met, writers
from around the world--people who became friends, united by common
interests and the miracle of the Internet.  (Any former Chaosmanor
folks reading this?)

In 1997, the Internet was just becoming a presence in our lives. 
Amazon was a struggling new company, and one that many experts
assumed was doomed to fail; after all, who would want to buy books
on the Internet?  We read the stories about Diana in the newspaper,
not online.  Going online meant waiting for your modem to dial
up--and it also meant you couldn't surf and talk on the phone at
the same time, this being before the days of having cell phones
permanently grafted to our ears.  "Texting" was not yet a part of
our vocabulary.  In my house, "networking" our computers meant
literally running a cable around the wall so that we could both use
the same printer.  When I wanted to go online, I crossed the room
to use my husband's computer--because it had COLOR!

By 1997, I had launched my first website, Pet-Loss.net, and soon
thereafter I launched "Tips for Writers," a site to archive my
articles on writing.  I had recently begun to contribute to
Inkspot, the hot spot for writers on the Web.  I certainly never
imagined that one day I would be creating a site that would attract
nearly two million visitors every year!

There were a lot of things we never imagined in those days. 
Fourteen years ago, we never imagined telling the world about what
we had for breakfast via Facebook, or sharing videos of our pets on
YouTube, or following the exploits of celebrities on Twitter.  We
also never imagined having to fend off endless onslaughts of spam
and computer viruses (or spam hoaxes ABOUT computer viruses).  

As writers, we never imagined that the day was coming when we would
no longer print out our manuscripts, shove them into an envelope
with a SASE, and slap on a bunch of stamps.  When I completed my
first writing book in 1998, I stood in line at the post office on
New Year's Eve to get it weighed and mailed so that I wouldn't miss
my deadline.  Today, my publisher and I exchange manuscripts and
proofs without ever handling a piece of actual paper. 

Lots of prophecies about the "future of writing" emerged around
this time.  One of the most common was that the future of
publishing was going to change--in our favor.  Electronic
publishing, in particular, was going to change the world for us. 
It would bypass all the obstacles involved in "traditional"
publishing, and let thousands of new voices reach millions of
readers.  Some pundits confidently predicted the death of printed
books within a decade.  Others assured us that we would soon be
producing "multimedia" pieces rather than mere "writing."

There's no doubt that hundreds of doors have opened for writers
since 1997.  The Internet puts an incredible array of research
resources at our fingertips, from articles to entire books.  We can
look up the e-mails of experts around the world, and communicate
with editors anywhere without wasting a stamp.  (It would be nice
if more of those editors communicated BACK, but that's another
issue...)  At the same time, it seems to me that a great many doors
have closed as well.  Book publishers have merged, consolidated,
and in many cases simply died.  Scores of independent magazines
have been gobbled up by media conglomerates, then abandoned when
they didn't prove sufficiently profitable.  The explosion of
"independent publishing" made possible by print-on-demand
technologies has made it harder rather than easier for
self-publishers to get their books into bookstores, or into the
hands of reviewers.   

But when I think about how much has changed in just fourteen years,
it makes me think that what we are facing, as writers, is a case of
"growing pains."  We haven't seen the end of the story.  Things
might get more difficult for writers--or, quite possibly, things
might get better.  Even though it sometimes feels as if we've been
online "forever," the fact is that this is still a brave new world.
 It's a world in which the power of the written word is as strong,
if not stronger, than ever--even if it is conveyed via electrons
rather than ink.  

As we watch Britain's young royal couple embark upon their new
life, we wonder how their world will change--and how THEY will
change the world.  But as we look back on the changes of the past
fourteen years, and wonder what the next fourteen will bring, let's
not forget one thing:  It's not just William and Kate, and all
those kings and sheiks and presidents at the royal wedding, who
change the world.  WE change it too.  Because we're writers... and
that's what we do.

-- Moira Allen, Editor

Postscript:  As I was looking up the date of Princess Diana's
death, I came across a notice of the death of another Diana that
some of you may know--author Diana Wynne Jones, who died of cancer
on March 26 at the age of 76.  She, too, will be missed!
 
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CHILDREN'S WRITERS 
Read by over 1,000 children's book and magazine editors, this
monthly newsletter can be your own personal source of editors'
wants and needs, market tips, and professional insights.  Get 2
FREE issues to start. http://www.thechildrenswriter.com/AJ934  
 
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The Inquiring Writer:  Kick-Starting Writing 
=================================================================
Last month we had a heartfelt plea from Diana.  She asked: "How do
you kick-start your writing day?  I find I spend more time doing
anything but write.  I know I'm procrastinating but I find it hard
to get writing. How do others do it?"

This is a problem with which Rosemary McKinley identifies. She
wrote: "I have been facing the same scenario. I find all sorts of
excuses around the house that prevent me from writing. I am smack
in the middle of writing a YA novel and I am at the point where I
have to connect the plot with events that will result in the ending.

"I have put it off by procrastinating and by continuing to do more
research, as this book is set in 1650. I gave myself a deadline and
returned my research material to the library. I sat myself down and
finished a pivotal chapter in my book. Halleluliah!

"Sometimes we writers are timid about saying what we want to say.
We lack confidence. At least this is true for me. It just might
work for other writers."

Another writer who struggles against procrastination is Eugene.
"Being a night owl, my 'day' starts late. That doesn't mean I'm not
at least semi-awake long before.

"The writer stuff -- creation, editing, re-writes, etc. -- starts
about four o'clock in the afternoon. By this time, I'm sufficiently
bored from watching Hulu, various news outlets, e-mail, have
procrastinated scrubbing the floor for the umpteenth time, and
other necessities of life I'm trying to avoid. It is time for
Escapism!

"I don't have a set number of words but more of a thought. What
happens to the hero, the heroine, the bad people who did nasty
things to them, and so on. A 'scene' which may be one, two, or
more. Whatever is needed to complete the 'thought.' Once I have it
in pixelated form, I call it a night (or morning).

"Armed with a pot of coffee, the business day starts about ten
o'clock running until Escape Time. I read what I wrote the day
before and make any changes. That is more to keep the storyline on
track than an editing. From there, I morph into writing new
material.

"Best advice: go with the flow. Trick is finding the 'flow' that is
right for you. Something else also, if your story and characters
aren't giving you warm fuzzies and you can't wait to get back to
them, something isn't right.

"Works for me. I hope it works for you."

"Discipline is the simple answer to religiously sitting down with
pen in hand, so to speak," wrote Aitch Embee. "But a parallel
question arises. What if the words won't flow, not a single
worthwhile thought courses through the brain much less flows out
the hands? 

"I have always been able to sit down and will a thought, flow of
words, and usually an entire short story. However, this is not the
case recently. I sit at the keyboard and nothing happens. I suspect
my mind has become numbed with the criminality of the politicians
who have such control over the world and more specifically, with me
and my extended family. Frustration and indignation mount and are
overwhelming. 

"People like me need help in learning to ignore those things over
which we have no control and back to the joy of creating enjoyable
prose(or poetry)."

You make a good point, Aitch; it's hard to create when we feel the
weight of the world on our shoulders. Unless, of course, you use
your writing as a way to vent your anger, or as you suggest, learn
to ignore the things that make us angry and over which we have no
control and concentrate instead on those which we can control. 

Stephanie Romero is another writer who believes that discipline is
the answer. She wrote: "I have a set schedule that helps me to stay
on task with writing.  I treat the time like I would if I were
going to a job outside the home.  I have a start time, a scheduled
15 minute break and a scheduled lunch time. When you treat your day
like any other professional would, you find yourself to be more
productive."

Sandra Relford also uses this technique. She wrote: "I have found
it important to schedule a set time to write and to prescribe a
specific amount of time such as 1 hour or more per day according to
available time.  A best-selling author advises on his website that
even as little as 15 minutes per day is a good beginning commitment
to your work.

"It also helps me to be in a good or happy mood, which I accomplish
by listening to favorite music or enjoying a favorite snack or
beverage.

"Also sometimes it helps to change my location so I set up in a
different place at home or go out to a favorite Starbucks etc., to
get the juices flowing for a change of perspective."

Someone who truly understands the nature of this perennial writer's
problem is Wilma Gore. "By now, more than 60 years writing and
selling, with my latest book 'Iron Grip', just published, here is
my formula:  Rise by 6:30 to 7 a.m.; make the coffee; carry first
cup of brew to the computer desk.  Begin my DAILY WRITING with an
email to my friend in California (I now live in Arizona). We
mention weather, birds, flowers, activities, hopes, planned
activities, comments on world news (it's coming in bundles these
days) sighs, etc. 

After I hit 'send' and re-fill the coffee cup, I check my emails
for the morning and open the novel I am currently working on--OR,
as was the situation yesterday, I open the list of notes I am
preparing for a talk  the coming Saturday at the local book store
on 'Writing Your Memoir Is More Than Listing Facts.'  Since most of
your readers are not as old as I (I assume)they probably have
various household chores.  I do, too, but I live alone these days
and WRITING COMES FIRST, before dishes and dust.
 
"Back at the time when my three children were young and not in
school in the summer, my first effort was to engage them in some
kind of happy activity (nailing boards to make airplanes, digging
in the loose dirt behind the garage, playing cowboy and Indians, 
or in the playroom with their cans of clay and creating and
re-creating the town they designed on a table top, called
'Clayville.' etc.) so that I could GET TO THE TYPEWRITER.  My
hearing was better in those days so I could 'tune in' to disputes
or tears--anything that needed my attention.  But my supervision was
from my desk and the typewriter. 

"Throughout my life, since my first sale at age 19 (a small article
to a travel magazine) I have put writing as my first obligation for
the day."

Now that is what I call dedication.  I liked the childcare tips
too! I hope that this will help Diana and any others who are
struggling with getting their writing started.

This month we have a quick and quirky question from Arlene
Uslander. She wrote: "When is it O.K. to use "O.K." "o.k." and when
is it preferable to use "okay? I would appreciate an opinion."

Email your answers and any questions you would like to put to the
Writing-World community to editorial@writing-world.com with the
subject line Inquiring Writer. 

Until next time, 

Dawn 
         
Copyright (c) 2011 by Dawn Copeman

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NEWS FROM THE WORLD OF WRITING
=================================================================
Sales of Ebooks in UK grew by 300% in 2010
------------------------------------------
Ebook publishing is now worth around 6% of all UK publishers'
revenue, according to figures released by the Publishers
Association. They say that ebooks now account for 16 million of
sales.  This is the third year of treble digit growth. 
http://tinyurl.com/6cmz3m7

New Faith Based Imprint at Hachette
-----------------------------------
Jericho Books, which will publish its first books in 2012, is a new
faith-based imprint at Hachette Book Group.  The Imprint aims to
publish twelve titles a year. For more on this story visit: 
http://tinyurl.com/6yowqcl

Kindle Library Lending On Its Way
---------------------------------
Amazon has announced that it plans to allow libraries to lend
ebooks to Kindle users.  The new service, which will run across
11,000 US libraries, will be for users of all generations of
Kindles. For more on this story visit: 
http://tinyurl.com/44wfkrc

*****************************************************************

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*****************************************************************

FEATURE: Writing Press Releases
================================================================= 
By Dawn Copeman

Recently I was hired by a local firm to rewrite their website and
brochures.  They had never used a copywriter before, having
previously written all their materials in-house.  Towards the end
of our first meeting I asked them who was writing their press
releases.  They looked blank.  "What are press releases?" they
asked. 

Press releases are one of the most effective means of advertising a
business can use.  Press releases are basically a one or two page
announcement of a new product, new trend, new business premises, in
fact anything that can in any way be described as newsworthy. 
Well-written press releases are loved by journalists as they
provide them with much needed content, either as short news items
or items that can be developed into longer articles.  This is why
press releases are so effective; they don't look like advertising
but if done well they get lots of publicity for the client. 

Precisely because press releases can be so effective, it is
estimated that between 3,000 and 10,000 are written every day.  
Only the best will get published by the press. If your press
release is going to make the news, you need to know how to write a
successful press release.

Follow the Standard Layout of the Press Release
-----------------------------------------------
1.  Top Right Hand Side of Page - Company Name or Logo. This might
take up more than one line; if it does, change your page margins to
try and keep your press release onto one page. 

2.  One Line beneath - on the left hand side of page type the words
PRESS RELEASE in capitals in a standard 10 or 12pt font.

3.  Immediately underneath this goes the date on which the press
release can be published.  This is either IMMEDIATE or a date
sometime in the future - e.g., November 2011 or Not to be Used
Before 31 October 2011.

4.  The Title of the Press Release - should be centred on the next
line in a larger, bolder font.  Make sure it does not extend to two
lines. 

5.  Body of Press Release. 

6.  At end of press release centre the word -ENDS- (complete with
dashes). If your press release goes on to two pages, type 1 of 2
and CONTS at the bottom of the first page. 

7.  After this, put in the NOTES TO EDITORS. This section contains
fact-checking material to support any claims made in the text, such
as details of surveys and references to scientific studies. It
should also say whether any photos or samples are available and
will contain the e-mail address, URL and telephone numbers and
contact details for the company.  All notes are numbered. 

So, is that all there is to it?  Well, no.  This is how to set up a
press release, but not how to get one published.  As I know from my
early, very pitiful attempts at creating press releases, following
the format won't help you one bit if your press release is dull. 
To maximise your chances of publication, therefore, we have to look
at the content.

Research the Content.  
---------------------
Imagine you have been asked to write a press release about a new
style of bath being sold by a local company.  How could you write
it so that it is newsworthy and grabs the attention of the
journalists and editors who will see it?  The answer is, you need
to think creatively and do lots of research.  

For example, one of the first successful press releases I wrote was
about cocoa.  Not the most thrilling of topics, perhaps, but I had
learned by this point that the job of the copywriter is to make it
so.  The first thing to do is to learn as much as you can about the
product or item you are being asked to write about.   

Copywriters must be inquisitive and thorough. They must also go
beyond the information provided by the client to ensure that their
work is the best it can be.  So for the cocoa piece I first of all
read the information provided.  It contained all the usual health
claims for cocoa -- nothing newsworthy in that.  But in digging
around the company's website, I found that the profits from selling
this cocoa were being used for community projects.  I rang the firm
and asked what exactly they were using the money for, and
discovered that they'd already built a school.  This seemed a
useful nugget of information, and one that the company had not
thought of mentioning. 

That was one angle covered.  But this was still not enough to
guarantee publication.  Next I did some in-depth research.  By
searching the internet and, specifically, press release sites
(details below) I came across a newly issued press release from a
university that claimed another health benefit of cocoa: that it
helped to keep the brain healthy and active.  Now I had not one but
two newsworthy items for my press release.  Now it was time to
write it. 

For your imaginary bath press release, you could look at the design
of the bath -- is it good for backs? You could take the historical
angle -- what was good enough for the Romans, etc.  Or you could
focus on the newly released study that states that showers are bad
for your health.   There are lots of angles out there when you know
how to look.

Create the Content
------------------
Press releases are short but must be well written.  Just as with
any successful nonfiction article, they must have an attractive
hook, followed by paragraphs that flow and are written in an
engaging and easy-to-read style with facts sprinkled lightly
throughout the text, then finished off with a good ending.  

In short, a press release is the ultimate test of nonfiction
writing ability.  Plus, you usually don't have much time to do
this.  On a typical day when I worked for a food PR agency, I would
get the details around 8.30am and have to submit my press release
by midday or 4pm at the latest.   Writing press releases certainly
hones your skills!

For the cocoa press release I combined the health benefits of cocoa
with its traditional drinkers, the elderly, to create the headline:
'A Cup of Cocoa a Day Keeps Alzheimer's at Bay'. This was followed
by a hook: "Our grandparents know more than they are letting on
when they tuck into their nightly cocoa; not only does it give them
a good night's sleep, it is helping them to keep their brains
healthy too." The rest of the article flowed with scientific facts
about the known and newly discovered health benefits of cocoa, plus
why the reader should buy this particular brand of cocoa -- "it has
a higher proportion of flavonoids -- the health giving aspect of
cocoa, than most other brands." As I stated in the ending:  "...X
not only keeps your brain healthy, it helps others too."

This particular press release was run, in many cases exactly as I
wrote it, in several UK daily newspapers and many local newspapers.
That's a great result for the client and a sense of satisfaction
for me.  As a copywriter, of course, I get no by-line and I only
get paid once, no matter how many times my press release is used. 
It does niggle slightly, seeing your words with someone else's name
attached, but hey, that's copywriting! And besides, as a copywriter
you don't have time to moan, you're usually too busy researching
and writing the next one. 

To summarize, then, this is how to write a press release:

1.  Learn as much as you can about the subject of the press release.
Ask for a product information sheet and company information. Dig
further, research online, search press releases for related new
discoveries or information that can in any way be related to your
news item to make it more newsworthy and attractive to journalists. 

2.  Plan your content. Craft an attention-grabbing headline, an
intriguing but not misleading hook, and then work on your
paragraphs so that they flow and are engaging and interesting to
read.  Where possible, keep to one page. 

3.  Provide complete references to surveys, opinion polls or
scientific studies in the Notes to the Editors, complete with
details of when the survey was done, where the study was published,
who conducted it etc. 

4.  State whether samples, photos or interviews are available when
compiling your notes to editors.  Don't forget to provide the
company's contact information.
  
5.  Submit first to the client for approval, then submit to press
release sites or by e-mail or fax to local newspapers.  Some press
release sites will distribute your press release for free; others
have a sliding scale of charges.  Whilst a paid-for service will
get your press release into more journalists' inboxes, it still
won't guarantee that they will read or act on your press release;
only you can do that by making the press release interesting to
read.   

Like most areas of writing, press releases can be intimidating at
first, but once you have practised doing them a few times, they
they become easier.  To make it easier for you to learn the skill I
suggest you try and create a press release for the new wonder bath.
Then create some press releases for items in your home -- a paper
clip, a pencil or a coaster -- to hone your skills. Finally, take a
badly written release from a PR site (believe me, there are lots of
them) and write it better.  The more you do it, the easier writing
a press release becomes. Personally, I find them to be one of the
most challenging yet fun writing activities that I do. 

Press Release Distribution Sites
----------------------------------
Daryl Wilcox Publishing  http://www.dwpub.com/  (Sign up to the
Response Source service to receive press releases in your chosen
areas; great for research.)
PR Com http://www.pr.com/press-releases
PR Log http://www.prlog.org/
24/7 Press Release http://www.24-7pressrelease.com/
PR Fire  http://www.prfire.co.uk/

   >>--------------------------------------------------<<
This article is an excerpt from the section on commercial 
freelancing in "Starting Your Career as a Freelance Writer" 
Second Edition,by Moira Allen.

Copyright 2011 Dawn Copeman  

For more information on copywriting visit: 
http://www.writing-world.com/tech/index.shtml

****************************************************************

EBOOK SELF-PUBLISHING EXPLAINED
An epublishing revolution is sweeping the industry. We explain what
is happening and show you how to self-publish your own ebooks.
http://www.PublishYourOwnEbooks.com

*****************************************************************

Free Stuff for Writers: Web Promotion Tools
================================================================= 
By Aline Lechaye

You've written "The End" on the last page of your book, and you've
worked to find an agent, a publisher, and finally your book is on
Amazon. So you can relax now, right? You can sit at home and watch
TV and wait for the royalties to roll in, right?

Right?

Sorry, but no. You still have to get people to know about your
book, and buy it, and recommend it to their friends, and get said
friends to buy it. How do you do that? Well, you could print up a
bunch of flyers and pass them out to people in the street... or you
use these free -- and fun -- web tools to promote your book on the
Internet, from the comfort of your own home. 

Put an Amazon widget on your author's website to show your readers
all the books you've published! Go to
https://widgets.amazon.com/Amazon-Carousel-Widget/ and add your
books (the widget allows for six to ten books to be displayed, so
feel free to add in your hardcovers and Kindle versions as well).
After choosing the books you want to add, it only takes two simple
steps to customize the size and layout of the widget and then post
the results to your website/blog. A similar widget, the Slideshow,
can be found at
https://widgets.amazon.com/Amazon-Slideshow-Widget/.
(Alternatively, you could also use the widgets to show your Amazon
wishlist to your friends. Yes, it's only May and Christmas is
months away, but you never know.)

If you have no idea what Twitter is -- and even if you think you do
-- Debbie Ridpath Ohi's Writer's Guide to Twitter (
http://inkygirl.com/a-writers-guide-to-twitter/) will tell you
everything you need to know, plus how to make Twitter work for you
as a writer. Once you've finished reading through all the Twitter
info, you might want to hang around Debbie's site and check out her
witty writing-related comics, author interviews, and her sub-blog,
iPadGirl. 

Ready for a writing break? Head over to Kathy Carmichael's site and
try out her Story Pitch Generator: 
http://www.kathycarmichael.com/generator.html. Type in a few
details about your novel and main character to create a sample
pitch for your novel, or novels. You can use the sample pitch as a
starting point to write an exciting introduction that you can post
up on your website or blog. Get potential readers intrigued, and
they'll be rushing off to buy your books on Amazon. 

Encourage your readers to ask you questions on formspring (
http://www.formspring.me), which a friend of mine once described as
"Twitter with question marks". (Okay, maybe it's not exactly like
that, but... close enough, I guess!) Sign up for a free account and
start answering questions from devoted fans right away! If you've
ever wanted to be the cool author interacting with fans on the book
tour, now's your chance!

Want to know even more ways to market your book? Stop by The Savvy
Book Marketer (http://bookmarketingmaven.typepad.com/), a blog run
by Dana Lynn Smith, to get more book promotion ideas for social
networking sites. It's not just about how many friends you have...
it's about how many readers!

   >>--------------------------------------------------<<

Aline Lechaye is a translator, writer, and writing tutor who 
resides  in Asia. She can be reached at alinelechaye@gmail.com.

Copyright 2011 Aline Lechaye

****************************************************************

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---------
This site offers an extensive selection of helpful articles for
writers and bloggers.  Unfortunately the articles are listed
chronologically, with no topical navigation index, so it's hard to
see what's available on any given topic (e.g., grammar), but it's
worth investigating.
http://www.scribendi.com/advice/authors/page/authors

Expressions and Sayings
-----------------------
A huge collection of the origins of words, phrases and expressions.
 Of course, there is always considerable debate over the origins of
many popular expressions, but this offers a good summary of more
generally accepted definitions.
http://users.tinyonline.co.uk/gswithenbank/sayindex.htm

InkPop
------
A site aimed at teen authors where they can submit their work,
review others' work and if they're lucky, have their work read by a
HarperCollins editor.  The site is owned by Harper Teen and seems a
friendly community where teens can not only post their own writing,
but discuss books, authors, etc. 
http://www.inkpop.com/

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