UK Versus USA Spelling and Grammar

Originally posted on vanessafinaughtyfantasybooks:

The most common spelling mistakes are those in which the wrong version of English is used. A surprising number of people don’t realise there are often major differences between UK and USA spelling and grammar (other countries have differences too, but I’ll focus on UK and USA, as they’re the most widely used). The differences are because, while the English language keeps evolving, American English still largely follows the early 1800 rules of American lexicographer Noah Webster, as detailed in his An American Dictionary of the English Language (1828).

Before Webster’s dictionary, it was acceptable worldwide to spell many words in two ways, as those words were introduced into the English language from Latin and French, and the spellings differed accordingly. Webster, however, wanted American spelling to be distinct from British spelling.

Most countries today follow UK spelling and grammar rules, with Canada and Australia as examples of countries that…

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The Importance of Linking to Your Book Online

Commonly known as backlinks, inbound links or incoming links, links to your book purchase pages and author website are more important than most authors realise.

Sure, the majority of us know that the more places potential readers can find our links, the more likely it is we’ll gain new fans. However, did you know that it can increase your author website and book purchase page ranking in Google and other search engines? This means that, when web browsers search for new reading material via a search engine, they are more likely to find your books amongst the millions of others out there. Let’s face it, most of us don’t look past Page 1 or 2 in search engine results, since we usually find what we’re looking for on the first two pages, so it’s vital that you do everything in your power to ensure your books come up in the first two pages.

The more relevant websites that contain links to your author website or book purchase page, the greater importance Google will assign to your pages. It’s that simple. Note, however, that you cannot place links to your site/purchase pages on websites that have nothing to do with books, as Google then sees this as ‘link farming’ and will penalise you so that your website sinks into obscurity until the end of time.

Backlinking to your book purchase page and author website takes time and effort, but it’s well worth it.

Tip: add the link to your book titles or author name, rather than to the word ‘here’ when giving the download link. This enables Google to better index your book, thereby gaining you a better page rank.

Where can I post backlinks?

There are many places to post backlinks online. Be as creative as possible. Some ideas to start you off include: Continue reading

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Relax to Write

Have you ever tried to write when stressed? If your answer is yes, you’ll know why it’s vital to be not only in a relaxed state of mind, but also physically relaxed, in order for your creative juices to flow freely. Stress stifles creativity and can render even the best writers incapable of writing anything worth reading.

In this stress-filled world, how does one relax properly? Sure, ‘they’ tell you to exercise, eat well, take a nap or go to a spa to pamper yourself, amongst other things, but really, who has time for any of that in a busy schedule? Not many of us….

Does that mean you’re doomed to suffer from stress and will never ‘have time’ to relax? Absolutely not! As busy professionals, authors and home makers, we at Fireblade Publishers know better than most how vital it is to keep a calm state of mind without cutting into work, house cleaning and family time.

That’s why we’ve compiled a few quick ways to relax, most of which you can do at your desk while you work or write. For best results, use these fast relaxation tools just before you sit down to write, or while you’re writing.

Ways to relax before you write:

* Soak for 5 to 15 minutes in a hot bubble bath. Don’t soak for longer, or you’ll be too relaxed to write ;-) For added effect, turn off the lights and light some candles and/or play relaxing music.

* Eat a teaspoon or three of honey. It’s been proven, amongst other things, to reduce anxiety.

* Take five minutes to meditate. Simply sit in a quiet, comfortable place, and focus on your breathing. Imagine your breath filling your abdomen – your abdomen should rise and fall, rather than your chest. This allows your body to absorb more oxygen and relaxes you at the same time. Set a timer so you don’t have to keep checking to see if you’ve gone over your five minutes.

* Gently massage the base of your thumb. This relieves shoulder and neck stress.

* Clear away any clutter in your writing space. Clutter stresses most of us, even if we don’t realise it.

* Dance or run on the spot for five minutes. It’ll not only clear the stress-created cobwebs from your brain, but will give you extra energy.

* Play your favourite song and sing along. Studies have shown that singing increases the production of your ‘happy hormones’.

* Give your dog a hug. Nothing beats the high that a beloved pet’s love brings.

Ways to relax while you write:

* Drink camomile tea – it works as a mild tranquilliser and, if you’re like me, you’ll be able to literally feel the stress seeping from your pores.

* Drink coffee if you aren’t a tea fan – coffee has been known to reduce stress levels.

* Indulge in some chocolate, particularly dark chocolate, if you like the taste. Dark chocolate is proven to regulate cortisol (stress hormone) levels.

* Munch on some dried apricots, almonds, pistachios, walnuts, blueberries or a banana – these are all foods known to reduce stress levels.

* Immerse your feet in a bowl of warm (or cool, depending on the weather) water. If you have a foot spa, now is the perfect time to haul it out of the cupboard.

* Play some relaxing/mood music if this helps you to write.

* Burn some aromatherapy oils, incense or scented candles. It can be any scent you like, but, if you aren’t sure, try lavender, ylang ylang, camomile, peppermint, citrus or rosemary. If you don’t have scented candles, add a few drops of aromatherapy oil to the melting wax of a burning candle – just be sure not to use synthetic oils for this, as they’ll smell like burning rubber or something equally unpleasant.

If you have any other quick relaxation tips not mentioned in this article, please feel free to share them with us by commenting on this post.

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Why it’s Vital to Read if You Want to Write

Writers should always keep in mind that it’s blatantly obvious to most readers if you do not read, particularly if you’ve never read a book since high school. We’ve listed just a few of the common errors made by writers who don’t read. These are perfect examples of why it’s vital to read if you want to write.

If you are tired, you are worn out, not warn out.

You wonder about something. You wander to somewhere.

You can go back somewhere, but you cannot go buck somewhere (well, not without funny visuals).

When there is no noise, it’s quiet, not quit or quite. You quit when you stop doing something, or are quite (very) something.

You do something once, not ones.

Have you read a really funny error in a published book? Please share it with us (minus the book’s title and author name, please; we aren’t trying to embarrass anyone here).

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Share Your Publishing Experience

First-time authors often find the idea of publishing quite daunting, and understandably so with so much contradictory information available on the subject. We thought we’d help to make the experience less stressful by inviting any author who’s already published a book to share the experience with our readers.

Everyone’s experience is different, and there are many variables that can make for a nightmarish or heavenly publishing experience, just one of which is where you publish.

Email us your experience and we’ll share it as a blog post and give you some free exposure for your book/s as a small thank you for your willingness to help new authors have a more pleasant experience.

Please send us your story in an MS Word document and include the following information:

* Where you published (if you published with more than one publisher, please mention all of them).
* When you published your first book.
* A brief explanation of your experience. E.G: Was it easy to publish? What was the process? What are the pros and cons to publishing with your publisher/distributor? What was your favourite part of the process? Was there anything that annoyed you or made publishing difficult? What have you done to market your books?
* Any advice you’d give to other authors – was there anything you wish you had known at the time, and was there anything you would have done different in hindsight?
* Any other related information you think new authors will benefit from.
* A link to your purchase page, author website and Twitter/Facebook accounts.
* A short biography.
* Your author picture if you’re willing to share it.

We reserve the right to edit your submission for grammatical and spelling errors and to change your spelling to UK English if you don’t already use that version. We might also edit submissions to make them more concise, though we won’t alter the actual content.

We look forward to hearing from you and sharing your story!

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Creative Tools – Part 2: Creative Writing Prompts

Following the week before last’s post, Creative Tools – Part 1: Generators, here are a few creative writing prompts we felt might be useful to some authors.

Thirty-seven Dramatic Situations
According to Georges Polti, all stories can be broken down to just 36 dramatic situations (37, according to someone else). If you’re lost for ideas for your next plot, these may help, and this link can be quite an entertaining read in itself.

The Story Starter
Generate the first sentence of a story. This is a good for a laugh and could spark some interesting, fresh ideas.

For more creative writing prompts, please visit Fireblade Publisher’s Creative Writing Prompts page. If you know of any prompts that aren’t already listed on our website, please share them with us by commenting on this post. We’d love to include your favourites on our website.

For other creative writing tools, please visit Fireblade Publishers’ Creative Tools page on our website.

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All my anthologies will soon be only 99c!

Originally posted on vanessafinaughtyfantasybooks:

To celebrate my birthday on 30 August, as of 29 August, all my short story anthologies will be only 99c – permanently.

In the meantime, if you have 99c to spare and are looking for some entertaining reading, browse my anthologies and see if anything catches your eye.

Click the covers below to read a free sample or to purchase.

Sorcery & SubterfugeDragon Kin and other fantasy storiesFuturescapeHorroticaTerrorscape

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Creative Tools – Part 1: Generators

Most writers know that it’s far better to use your imagination and come up with original ideas than to adapt others’ existing ideas. However, most writers need some outside inspiration now and then. While real life situations and real people are often a deep well of inspiration, sometimes it just isn’t enough and writers need a little extra inspiration.

With this in mind, we’ve sourced a few handy creative writing tools to help get your muse back in action. If you’re anything like me, you’ll probably scorn the idea of using a generator, but I can tell you that they often spark new ideas that you may not have otherwise had, so they can be helpful even if you don’t make use of the ideas generated.

Seventh Sanctum
This is the best creative writing generator I’ve come across, geared towards fantasy writers. Seventh Sanctum offers character generators, character name generators, being and creature generators, magic generators, world and setting generators and more.

Plot Scenario Generator
Generate an event that starts the story, and a secondary conflict to help progress it.

For more creative writing generators, visit Fireblade Publisher’s Generators page. Please share what inspires you by commenting on this post – there are myriad sources of inspiration in this world, and we’d love to hear what your favourites are.

Keep an eye out for Part 2: Creative Writing Prompts, next week, 3 February 2013.

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5 Quotes for Writers to Live By

Originally posted on vanessafinaughtyfantasybooks:

We all need encouragement and inspiration from time to time, and I find the following writing quotes do the trick when I hit a slump in my writing. Thankfully, I don’t need inspiration right now, as my muse is keeping me on my toes lately, but I hope they inspire others like they have me.

  1. “You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.” ~ Ray Bradbury
  1. “You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.” ~ Jack London
  1. “Being a successful writer is 3% talent, 7% hard work, 11% luck, and 79% not being distracted by the Internet.” ~ Drachen Jager
  1. “Love is the answer to everything. It’s the only reason to do anything. If you don’t write stories you love, you’ll never make it. If you don’t write stories that other people love, you’ll never make it.” ~ Ray Bradbury
  1. “Before…

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Back Cover Blurb No-Nos

As an author, you may think that the back cover blurb for your book is not really all that important, but it is the introduction to your book, one of the first things that give readers a taste of the pages within.

Upon this impression, a reader will either decide to purchase your book or not. It’s that simple. Regardless of how attractive your cover art may be, if the blurb does not capture the imagination, your book will remain upon the shelf.

Blurb no-nos:

No blurb at all is a huge mistake. Your book must have one; otherwise, how can anyone tell what your book is about?

An overly long blurb is another huge mistake. The idea is to entice the reader, not write the entire story on the back cover. Keep it short and sweet, and remember to think of it as bait. Give a short introduction to your main character and the conflict he/she faces, and try to end on an intriguing note. Try to make it catchy and memorable. Two hundred and fifty words should be enough. Continue reading

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