14 Free Ebooks on Writing, Marketing, Publishing and Motivation for Writers

14 Free Ebooks on Writing, Marketing, Publishing and Motivation for Writers – a list of 14 ebooks written and complied by industry experts offering information and guidance on a variety of topics ranging from writing, marketing, publishing, and being just plain motivated to stay the course.

Below is a list of 14 ebooks for writers written and complied by industry experts offering information and guidance on a variety of topics ranging from writing, marketing, publishing, and being just plain motivated to stay the course.

To receive some of these ebooks, you will have to sign up for a free subscriptionn first.

I have visited a lot of these blogs and have downloaded and read many of the free ebooks listed below. A few of the others were tracked down just for this article and I haven’t had a chance to read them yet so if you do please let us know what you think.

I think there’s a lot of good stuff here.

Writing, Publishing, Marketing and Motivation for Writers

  1. Free Guides on Publishing available at BookBaby.com
  2. Shave 10 Hours Off Your Work Week available at MichaelHyatt.com
  3. Guide + Workbook, How To Write Better Stories available at Jennifer Blanchard
  4. 14 Prompts available at The Write Practice
  5. The Nearly Ultimate Guide to Better Writing available at Write to Done
  6. How to Get Published, How to Increase Book Sales available at Best Seller Labs.com
  7. 10 Things You Need to Know About Self-Publishing available at The Book Designer
  8. Author 2.0 Blueprint available at The Creative Penn
  9. Twitter Just For Writers: The Ultimate How-to Guide for Authors available at Social Media Just For Writers
  10. 279 Days to Overnight Success available at Chris Guillebeau
  11. Smashwords Book Marketing Guide available at Smashwords.com
  12. Write Good or Die by Scott Nicholson
  13. Time Management for Creative People available at Wishful Thinking
  14. The Cheap Retreat Workbook by Catharine Bramkamp

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Suspense and Outcome: The Difference of a Minute

Suspense and Outcome: The Difference of a Minute discusses how the idea of one minute can add tension, and irony, to a scenario when you’re writing a story.

I bought a grandfather clock last week, the fulfillment of a long-term dream. I’ve always admired them, mind you I did picture it in the foyer of my Victorian mansion, but the clock in my more modern house was the compromise and something that was realistic for my bank account! The clock was custom-made and stained to match other furniture in the room and it’s lovely.

We noticed, however, that it was consistently running one minute behind the time set on our computers and cell phones and last night, I decided to move it ahead by one minute. We’d been warned only to move it ahead within the quarter hour after and before the chimes would go off and so that’s exactly what I did, very gently and slowly moving the minute hand a mere minute ahead.

Now my clock isn’t chiming. I’m certain that it continued to chime last night after I nudged the minute hand ever so slightly ahead, but this morning the pendulum is still swaying back and forth and there’s still that click right before the chimes should engage, but the clock has been silent. I’ve reread the instruction book and tried a few things, but so far no joy. If you’ve ever owned one of these, as I’m now learning, there are many rules about when and how to adjust them and I’m starting to think that I may have damaged something—all for the sake of one minute!

But that got me thinking (always a scary thing my husband says!) about the impact just one minute of time can have in all difference aspects of our lives, and how understanding that can help us build suspense and justify the outcome when we’re writing.

Building Suspense

Consider these examples when trying to build suspense in your story. You have one minute to:

  • get to the departure gate for a flight
  • buy a lottery ticket before the draw takes place (and a fortune teller told you you’d win it – IF you had a ticket!)
  • place a 911 call before the battery on your cell phone dies
  • stop the timer on a bomb
  • get a newborn baby, or a choking or drowning victim, to start breathing
  • convince someone not to throw themselves in front of a train

Doesn’t it just feel more suspenseful because of the “one minute” factor?

Outcome

With the scenarios above in mind, imagine:

  • missing the flight and:
    • losing out on an amazing opportunity
    • it crashes
  • catching the flight and:
    • changing your life
    • it crashes
  • buying that lottery ticket and winning, or finding out that the fortune teller ripped you off and you didn’t win
  • waiting for emergency services to come to your rescue, or trying to get out of a burning house, or away from an axe murderer, on your own because your battery died before you could get help
  • the adrenaline rush when you stop the timer on a bomb, or having to race out of a building because you can’t stop the timer, or maybe the possibility that you can’t stop the timer but the bomb doesn’t go off
  • the joy of watching that person breathe, or the devastation of failing to revive them
  • the satisfaction of convincing that person to live another day, or the guilt and the nightmares from failing and watching them fall to their death onto the tracks

The idea of one minute can add tension, and irony, to a scenario.

When I think of all the ways a mere minute can impact our lives, and our writing, it does put things in perspective where my grandfather clock is concerned, don’t you think?

I will call the clock people tomorrow, and, fingers crossed, my clock will soon be chiming again!

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Writers: Is Life Throwing Good Material at You?

Writers: Is Life Throwing Good Material at You? discusses how our novels can benefit from experiences in our lives even if it takes a bit longer to write them.

I’ve wanted to write for as long as I can remember. Hmm… I might want to rephrase that as my memory is getting pretty bad these days and some days it’s tough to remember what I had for breakfast!

So, let’s put it this way: I wrote my first “long” story in sixth grade. It was about 10 pages long scribbled in an exercise book and the teacher was so excited by my efforts that she made me read it to the rest of the class. That was the start of my writing ambitions.

But, life happens, doesn’t it? Other priorities ranked higher in my never ending to-do list: marriage, work, kids, even laundry and housework seemed to come first. Over the years, there’ve been brief spurts of writing, but I haven’t accomplished the great things I dreamt of accomplishing back in sixth grade.

But, you know what? That’s okay because my novel has been brewing in the back of my mind all this time and I think it will ultimately be better because of it.

Life throws us curves for sure, but if you’re a writer and you’re paying attention, you might just notice that life throws you a few great examples and ideas along the way, too.

In my case:

  • I’ve had a few unexplained and potentially supernatural experiences and I can use those and write about them with conviction because I experienced them firsthand.
  • I’ve done a lot of genealogy research over the years so I can write about family histories (and will) in my novel and know what I’m talking about.
  • There’s a policeman in my family now whose brain I can pick about proper police procedures so that I don’t look like a total dope when I write about such things – hopefully!
  • I’ve got some amazing clients who are experts in self-publishing, writing, and using social media to develop your author platform and I’m continually learning from them.
  • I’ve read about many many very odd but true murder mysteries with lots of twists and turns that have fired up my imagination.

Sometimes I think that I wasn’t meant to finish my book until now because there were so many pieces that needed to come together in my mind first.

I’d be a liar if I didn’t admit that I do get frustrated sometimes because things haven’t happened yet as I’d envisioned they would so many years ago, but I do believe things happen for a reason and when I remind myself of that and think back to how much of what I’ve experienced and learned since sixth grade, I know that I’m still on the right track.

Has life thrown any good material at you for your books?

Photo credit: Pixabay

Brit Speak

A couple of mornings over the holidays we decided to be lazy and we had a lie-in.

Now if you’re from the UK, you know exactly what I mean, but if you’re from North America, you’re probably scratching your head and wondering if we’ve just invited a lot of friends over to sit around with big cups of coffee in the sunshine and share tall tales.

A lie-in, according to one online English dictionary, means a long stay in bed. Here in North America we call it sleeping in.

When we first moved to England, it took me a long time to figure out that when everyone kept saying to me “Are you all right?” or “All right?” it didn’t necessarily mean that I looked ill. I’d look in the mirror and check to see if I looked particularly tired or pale. Just to be sure I’d sometimes put on a bit more rouge or lipstick. Finally, it clicked! “Are you all right?” was just their way of saying “How are you?”

If you refer to someone as homely, you might want to check which side of the pond you’re on. In North America, homely is no compliment! It means unattractive or ugly. In Britain however, to be told that you’re homely means that you’re considered warm and friendly.

As you can imagine, we had quite a learning curve to be fluent in UK English and we were often gently teased by friends and acquaintances over our perceived misuse of their language.

Remember fanny packs? They were all the rage here in North America in the 1980’s. People used them to carry keys, wallets, cameras, snacks, and just about everything else that would fit into the small zippered bags that strapped on to our waists. Well to North Americans, a fanny is a person’s backside. In England it’s, well, uhm… a person’s frontside? Would that be a sufficiently tactful way to describe it?

Anyone who knows me knows that I frequently use the word “trousers” since living in England. Across the pond, pants = underwear. And, “sod?” Well, in North America we have Murphy’s Law and they have Sod’s Law. If someone calls you a sod, it isn’t a compliment, trust me on this. It also isn’t a brilliant thing to call up a store and ask them if they sell sod – as in grass! I did and there was this very uncomfortable silence until finally someone, stifling their amusement, said “Do you mean turf?”

Same thing with panty hose. Shortly after moving to the UK, I needed to buy panty hose. We went to a John Lewis’ (a very posh department store in the UK) and I asked one of the salespersons where I could find panty hose. Eventually, between us, we realized I meant “tights!”

And, I will never forget my hairdresser’s reaction when I asked for a shag. A shag was a hairstyle that was very common during the 1970’s here in North America. The hair was cut, almost chopped, into obvious layers. Shag was also a type of carpeting popular during the same time period. In the UK however, a shag is something considerably more up-close and personal! I did know about the UK meaning of shag, however, I thought that being a hairdresser he would be familiar with the hairstyle and know what I meant. He didn’t. Poor Nic! I nearly had to resuscitate him!

Potato, patotto, tomato, tamotto… English is the same language worldwide – but it’s a crazy old world, isn’t it?

If you’re writing dialogue for a British character in your novel, knowing these bits of slang and the differences in the meanings of some words might make the difference between credible dialogue and reaching your audience, or missing the mark and giving them a good giggle.

For More Information

Americans Are Barmy Over Britishisms

What Brits say v what they mean – handy de-coding device

(British) English Translated For Americans

Slang…

Differences between British, Canadian and American Spelling

Photo credit: Pixabay

Gifts for the Writer in Your Life

Need some last minute gift ideas for the writer or writer-wannabe in your life? I’ve got just the thing! Well, actually, that should be “things” as you will see below.

Yes, I know, it’s probably too late to order from Amazon, but gift certificates are amazing things and, did you know that you can give Kindle e-books as gifts? And, did you know that even if a person doesn’t have a Kindle, that there are apps that can be downloaded for tablets to read Kindle books? Maybe you could suggest one of the following books:

The Self-Publisher’s Ultimate Resource Guide: Every Indie Author’s Essential Directory-To Help You Prepare, Publish, and Promote Professional Looking Books by Joel Friedlander and Betty Kelly Sargent

A Self-Publisher’s Companion by Joel Friedlander

The Write Nonfiction NOW! Guide to Writing a Book in 30 Days by Nina Amir

Authorpreneur: How to Build a Business around Your Book by Nina Amir

The Author Training Manual: Develop Marketable Ideas, Craft Books That Sell, Become the Author Publishers Want, and Self-Publish Effectively by Nina Amir

Avoid Social Media Time Suck: A Blueprint for Writers to Create Online Buzz for Their Books and Still Have Time to Write by Frances Caballo

Blogging Just for Writers by Frances Caballo

Social Media Just for Writers: The Best Online Marketing Tips for Selling Your Books by Frances Caballo

Say What?: The Fiction Writer’s Handy Guide to Grammar, Punctuation, and Word Usage by C. S. Lakin

Writing the Heart of Your Story: The Secret to Crafting an Unforgettable Novel by C. S. Lakin

Shoot Your Novel: Cinematic Techniques to Supercharge Your Writing by C. S. Lakin

These books will help you with your writing, help you with your publishing decisions, point you in the right directions with marketing and building your author platform (and even explain what an author platform is if you don’t already know) and help you devise a plan to get more bang out of your writing efforts.

And, wouldn’t it be nice to finish your shopping without leaving your desk?

Photo courtesy of Apolonia | Freedigitalphotos.net

8 Grammar Sites for Writers

8 Grammar Sites for Writers lists eight great sites where writers can learn more about English grammar.

Poor grammar, whether it is in written or spoken communication, is one of my pet peeves. It’s like fingernails on a black board to my ears and I suspect I’m not the only one to feel this way. It’s one of the reasons that it’s pretty important to have your book properly edited.

(Of course, you realize that as I write this I’m being completely paranoid that I will miss some glaring grammatical error!)

Unless you’re writing dialogue and using poor grammar to distinguish your character, the grammar in your book should be flawless.

So, without further adieu, here’s a few sites to help you with your grammar:

  1. Grammarly Blog – Grammarly also offers a free tool to check your grammar here.
  2. BigWords 101, The Grammar Diva – Check out the grammar quiz on the site, too.
  3. Grammar Book – This site offers grammar, punctuation, and capitalization rules and more.
  4. Grammarphobia – There’s also a great page of writing resources on the site.
  5. English Grammar – The site also offers free downloadable lessons.
  6. Grammar Check – Check out the online grammar checker, too.
  7. Guide to Grammar & Writing – Lots to explore on this site including quizzes.
  8. Daily Grammar LessonsArchived lessons are also available.

This is just a sampling of what’s available online about English grammar. Most of these sites offer free newsletter subscriptions that you might also enjoy.

If you have a favourite grammar site, let me know in the comments.

Photo credit: Pixabay

Acronyms: A Big Part of Our Language and How to Use Them in Writing

Acronyms: A Big Part of Our Language and How to Use Them in Writing defines acronyms and how to use them in writing.

I used to spend a lot of time rolling my eyes at social events with my husband’s co-workers many moons ago when we were first married. Their conversations were filled with works like PDP11, DOS, DEC, COBOL, FORTRAN, RSX, ELN, VAX and APL.

To me these words were like secret handshakes and if you didn’t know the meaning of the acronyms, it meant you didn’t belong to the club. It frustrated me!

I’m not sure if it’s part of our quest to be efficient and save time in an increasingly busy world, or if it’s an attempt to simplify things, but acronyms have become more and more a part of our daily lives.

Add to this character limits for Twitter and text messaging, etc., and the need to communicate quickly when typing on instant messaging programs like Skype, Facebook or Google Chat, and we’ve developed a strange phonetic language that is likely to impact our formal language skills if it hasn’t already. It will be interesting to see how recognizable the English language is in another generation or so.

What Exactly is an Acronym?

Wikipedia defines an acronym as:

An acronym is an abbreviation formed from the initial components in a phrase or a word.

Common Acronyms

Did you know that these words, now a part of our English language dictionaries, are actually acronyms?

  • Taser – Stands for “Tom A Swift’s Electric Rifle”
  • Radar – Stands for “radio detection and ranging”
  • Scuba – Stands for “self-contained underwater breathing apparatus”
  • Laser – Stands for “light amplification by the stimulated emission of radiation”
  • Cop – Stands for “constable on patrol”

Using Acronyms in Writing

Acronyms are usually written in uppercase but there are exceptions to this (see the examples above).

To avoid confusion (and keep your readers from rolling their eyes!) when you’re using acronyms in your writing, you should write the acronym out in full with the acronym in brackets immediately after that and then use the acronym after that.

Like this:

I’m writing this on my personal computer (PC). I prefer writing on my PC than using my laptop because the keyboard is bigger.

Some of our acronyms have become so much a part of our language that this is unnecessary. We wouldn’t write these acronyms out in full for example:

I got up at 7 ante meridiem (AM) this morning but usually get up at 6:30 AM.

For More Information About Acronyms

Wikipedia List of Acronyms

Acronyms List

Photo credit: Pixaby

Write What You Know?

Write What You Know? by Shelley Sturgeon debates whether writing what you know is always the way to move forward when writing a book.

You’ve probably heard that old piece of writing advice, “write what you know.” It implies your knowledge of the topic gives you a certain edge or expert status, and that because of it, you’ll be great at sharing this knowledge with others. It also implies that because you know the topic, it will be easy for you to write about it.

While this could be true, also consider these points:

  1. What you know might be incorrect and to assure that you’ve got your facts straight, you may still need to spend time researching and verifying the information.
  2. What you know might bore the socks off your readers, so while you may know your topic, and you may know it better than anyone else in the universe, the audience for a book written on this topic might be very small.
  3. What you know may be common knowledge with a market already saturated with books on this topic.

So Should You Write That Book?

Unless the topic is so near and dear to your heart that you’re willing to write and self-publish the book even if there’s a possibility that it won’t sell, you should:

  • Research to determine if there are other books on the market on this topic by visiting and searching sites like Amazon or Barnes and Noble.
  • Read reviews of other books on the topic to see if these books are well received by the audience. A lot of reviews may indicate an enthusiastic audience exists for the topic.
  • Read and familiarize yourself with the actual books, or at least some of them, when it’s possible, to find out if they completely document the subject or if there are gaps in the information they provide.
  • If you decide to proceed with the book, verify your facts and do some research, being careful to document the sources of your information for your book.

There are many options when it comes to self-publishing a book, but to do it properly, you will most likely need to invest some money in your project to pay for editing, cover and interior design, etc.

Make sure, before you invest your time, energy and money, that writing what you know is likely to be a rewarding experience for you—and your readers!

Photo credit: phasinphoto | Free Digital Photos

Stranger Than Fiction: Story Ideas From Real Life

Stranger Than Fiction: Story Ideas From Real Life suggests where writers can find and how they can keep a virtual file of story ideas.

As fiction writers we tend to have pretty good imaginations, and we can dream up some pretty amazing plot lines and characters, can’t we? But, have you ever noticed how real life can sometimes throw us curves that leave us shaking our heads in disbelief at the ironies of life, or cringing from the depravity of others or the savageness of nature?

I keep a virtual file of these types of real life stories:

  • the weird scenarios
  • the strange coincidences
  • the odd reactions
  • scandals
  • the detailed descriptions and dialogues of major crimes during trials
  • unsolved mysteries
  • the background stories of people
  • unexplained “hauntings”

Ever hear of the Darwin Awards? All true stories of bizarre deaths. Definitely off-the-wall scenarios.

I once read about the number of unsolved disappearances from cruise ships. That’s in the file.

When I read something in the news that puts my imagination into overdrive, or something that I’d like to refer back to, like for example, the procedure details for an investigation, I save it.

I use a utility called PDF Creator and I print it to a virtual file, called Stranger than fiction by saving it as a PDF. I can search through this file for specific words to access the stories later.

Do you do keep a file of story ideas? Tell me in the comments.

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Writing Fiction: Selecting Your Genre

Writing Fiction: Selecting Your Genre explains why an author’s choice of literary genre could impact the success of that book.

Consider the following scenarios:

  • You’re writing your book and everyone wants to know what kind of story it is. Well, you hedge a bit, “It’s kind of a murder mystery, kind of a love story, kind of a …” Ultimately you don’t know how to answer the question.
  • You’ve written your book and you’re about to publish it and need to list it as a particular genre.

 
So what exactly IS your book about? Does it make a difference whether you list your book as a crime/detective story, a mystery or a love story if it ticks boxes for all three possible genres? It might.

Consider the popularity of the particular genres, the supply and demand for books in those genres, and the amount of competition you’re likely to have. You can get a bit of an idea about this on Amazon or other online book retailers by reviewing their best seller lists.

Available Genres

Check out Wikipedia’s list of literary genres.

More Information

You might find these articles helpful, too:

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