Start Writing Fiction

Start Writing Fiction – A Free Course from Futurelearn and The Open University

If you’re quick, there’s still time to sign up for a free online fiction writing course on offer via FutureLearn (a UK-based educational initiative that advertises short online courses from British and international universities).

The course title is Start Writing Fiction. It comes from The Open University, a well-respected UK distance learning institution. It started on 27 April 2015 and runs for eight weeks, but they are still accepting enrolments at the time of writing.

Start Writing Fiction is intended for anyone with an interest in starting to write fiction or improving their fiction writing. There is a particular focus on creating interesting, believable characters. The course does not require any previous experience of studying the subject.

On the website, it says:

This practical, hands-on course aims to help you to get started with your own fiction writing, focusing on the central skill of creating characters.You will listen to established writers talk about how they started writing and consider the rituals of writing and the importance of keeping a journal. 

You’ll learn how to develop your ideas and the importance of reflecting on writing and editing, and you’ll hear other writers talking about their approaches to research and consider ways of turning events into a plot.

You’ll also have the opportunity to review and comment on the work of fellow writers, and receive peer feedback on your own story, learning the importance of reading as a writer and how to receive and respond to feedback. 

The Start Writing Fiction course is run by Dr Derek Neale. It requires a commitment of around three hours a week.

The course is free of charge and open to anyone anywhere in the world. For more information (including a video trailer) and to register, visit the Start Writing Fiction information page of the FutureLearn website.

FutureLearn have lots of other interesting free courses, incidentally. I am quite tempted by the one promising to teach you to develop a mobile phone game in seven weeks, although Discover Dentistry also possesses a certain weird fascination!

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Focus on Fiction: A New Resources Bundle for Fiction Writers

I wanted to give you a heads-up today about a new resource pack for writers that has just been launched by my colleague David Lee Martin.

Focus on Fiction is on offer for just seven days (actually six, as today is the second day). It includes 16 popular training products for fiction writers for one inclusive price.

As it happens, I have reviewed several of these products myself on my old writing blog (which I am no longer running). I can therefore say that one of my favourite products is Scrivener Unleashed, by David Lee Martin himself.

This is the definitive guide to using the popular Scrivener writing software for creating fiction, including Kindle e-books. As well as comprehensive video tuition, you also get ready-to-use fiction writing templates, and much more. You can read my original review of Scrivener Unleashed here.

Also included is the excellent Kindle Bestseller Secrets by Derek Doepker. This is a six-module course taking you through every aspect of the Kindle writing and publishing process. The modules are as follows:

1. Success Secrets
2. Research
3. Book Setup
4. Cover Creation
5. Publishing
6. Marketing

Each module contains between one and nine lessons, which are a mixture of audio, video and text. A typical lesson comprises a 15-minute video, followed by links to resources discussed in the video, followed by additional notes to clarify or expand on the points covered. There is also a highly informative 26-page PDF of “Quick Tips”. You can read my original review of Kindle Bestseller Secrets here if you like. Suffice to say, I rate it very highly.

I won’t list everything else in the bundle here as it would take too long, but it also includes Debbie Drum‘s informative manual about Facebook marketing for authors, along with guides to writing flash fiction, children’s books for Kindle, cozy mysteries, and so on.

There are also some ready-made plot outlines included. I have slightly mixed views about the latter, but if you simply regard them as research resources (like having a novel summarized for you, so you can better understand its structure) they could still be useful.

Although the main emphasis is on fiction writing, many of the resources included will also be valuable to non-fiction writers. The guides to Facebook marketing by Debbie Drum and Charity Cason apply equally to nonfiction, for example, and Derek Doepker’s KIndle Bestseller Secrets actually has a certain bias towards nonfiction.

One of the offers included in the bundle is a 21 percent discount (worth $27) on Geoff Shaw’s Kindling. This is a comprehensive Kindle writing course and private members website.

I am a member of Kindling myself and can therefore testify that it is indeed a high-quality product. As it costs substantially more than the price of the whole Focus on Fiction bundle, I’m not entirely surprised they aren’t including free membership. However, I am not convinced that a discount on the price should really be part of the list of 16 products included in the bundle. I’d have preferred to see it presented as an extra bonus, personally.

That aside, though, I think Focus on Fiction is an excellent value offer. Even if you only counted the top-line (in my view) products from David Lee Martin and Derek Doepker, at the bundle price you would still be getting excellent value. If writing and publishing fiction is something that interests you, it is definitely well worth checking out.

One last thing I should mention is that 10 percent of all profits from Focus on Fiction are going to a worthy cause, the Water Aid charity, which helps bring safe water and sanitation to some of the world’s poorest communities. Kudos to David for that. He really is one of the good guys in this field.

If you have any comments or questions about Focus on Fiction, as ever, please do leave a comment on this post.


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Call for submissions: TALES. Fae Visions of the Mediterranean

Here’s an opportunity if you’re a fiction writer with (like me) a love of the Mediterranean. Stories of up to 5000 words are invited for this anthology, along with poems and micro-fiction. Payment is a relatively modest 10 euro plus royalties. More details (taken from the website) are copied below…

Call for submissions: TALES. Fae Visions of the Mediterranean

Quivering mirages, ghost ships, glossy scales slipping away beneath the waves; we are seeking progressive and inclusive short stories about wonders, terrors, omens, sea-monsters, apparitions and other folk creatures and horrors from throughout the Mediterranean region. You might find inspiration in medieval bestiaries and the margins of maps and manuscripts; stories whispered by pirates in the long nights at sail; horrible and marvellous visions shaken travellers barely dare to recall; names of creatures known by everyone in the streets around the harbour; particularly troubled nightmares you had or someone shared with you.

This anthology, subtitled Fae Visions of the Mediterranean, could be seen as a postcolonial, Borgesian travelogue by a many-gendered, multiracial, polyglot and polymath sailor (i.e. stories may feature any nature of protagonist[s]) recounting their fantastic adventures on naval journeys between Taranto, via Algiers, Latakia and Eluària, to Split (your TALES need not take place at any of these sites).

The more fantastic, abyssal, weird, wonderful, paradoxical, unsettling and tempestuous stories the better. Horrors and beasts in the stories may be based on Mediterranean folklore, or may be invented for the purpose (and any position in between), but a connection to one of the Mediterranean countries, languages or cultures is a must, as we expect the reader to follow the route with their finger on an antique atlas. The stories should taste like salt and wonder.

The rules: We are looking for uncanny stories up to 5 000 words, fiendish illustrations/comics up to 12 pages, and briny poems up to 40 lines. We’re also interested in micro-stories up to 500 words written in all languages of the Mediterranean (i.e. other than English). Please send a cover letter in English, Italian, French, Arabic or Spanish (so we can read it!) alongside any such stories. Stories may be horror/fantasy, magical realist, surreal, absurdist, pirate stories, ghost stories, folk tales or fairy tales, but they must all be set on the Mediterranean Sea or in a country with a Mediterranean coastline. Stories are free-standing and individual, not shared-world or otherwise constrained to a joint narrative or structure. We welcome ghoulish fiction by authors from the Mediterranean region, particularly including North Africa and the Near East, as well as other under-represented groups (such as women, queer/trans/nonbinary, non-anglophones, people of color, people with disabilities, etc.).

Submissions should be sent as a .doc, .docx or .rtf attachment to by Monday June 30, 2015. Reprints and multiple submissions are welcome, but please do not submit stories that are simultaneously under consideration elsewhere. We shall attempt to get back to you with a decision about your story as quickly as possible. We are NOT interested in fan-fiction. We shall pay €10 plus royalties for first world print (or reprint) and e-book publication rights for stories, comics and poems. Micro-stories will be paid €5 plus royalties.

* The anthology will be edited by Valeria Vitale and Djibril al-Ayad, and published in print and e-book by Publishing in late 2015.

* Note that unless this anthology sells unusually well, this is likely to remain a relatively token pay rate, so you need to decide whether you want to sell first print rights for such a low rate; you will only be able to sell a story again as a reprint after it has appeared in this anthology.

Source: News + opinion from The Future Fire: Call for submissions: TALES. Fae Visions of the Mediterranean

I hope at least some of you will find this opportunity of interest. Quick confession: I have published it here partly to test out the new Press This tool in WordPress 🙂

Photo of sun setting over the Mediterranean is by yours truly. It was taken on holiday in Anaxos, Lesvos. No filters were used – it really did look like that!

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Boost Your Amazon Sales and Affiliate Commissions with GeoRiot!

If you have books or e-books on Amazon, you will almost certainly have discovered one problem when promoting them to a worldwide audience. This is that you can only link to one Amazon store at a time. If a visitor from the UK follows a link to your book on, they won’t be able to order, and a potential buyer may be lost.

If you’re an Amazon Associate, it’s even worse. Normally, if you send a visitor to Amazon via your affiliate link, you will get commission on all and any purchases they make. But if your link sends them to the “wrong” Amazon store, not only won’t you get a sale, you will have no chance of earning any affiliate commissions either.

One solution could be to provide multiple links to different Amazon stores, but this is cumbersome, and there will inevitably be some national stores you don’t have room to include.

There is a solution to this difficulty, however, and it is to use a link management platform such as GeoRiot. This service automatically detects where a visitor to your site is based and forwards them to the appropriate national Amazon store, with your affiliate code for that store applied (if you have one).

To use GeoRiot, you first have to register on their website at This is free and only takes a few moments. If you want to redirect visitors using your affiliate link you will need to supply the relevant code for all Amazon stores of which you are an affiliate. There is no obligation to do this if you’re not bothered about affiliate commissions, however. In that case your links will simply forward visitors to the relevant page of their national store.

Once you have signed up, any time you want to create a link all you have to do is go to your GeoRiot homepage and enter the relevant page URL from Amazon in the Create Link box. GeoRiot will then create a universal “Genius” link you can use anywhere you wish to link to the book in question. Here is a sample link for one of my Kindle e-books: If you click on this, you should be taken to the relevant page of your own national Amazon store, wherever in the world you may live. And yes, my affiliate code will be applied as well!

You might ask how GeoRiot make money. The answer is that they apply a charge of $10 for every 10,000 clicks through your links per month after the first 1000 (which are always free). This replaces their previous system, where a proportion of clicks on your links had GeoRiot’s affiliate code applied instead.

The new system is obviously advantageous for those receiving under 1,000 clicks every month, as it means you will get the full benefit of all of these. You will probably still be better off once your monthly click-throughs total over 1,000, but this cannot automatically be assumed, particularly if you only just exceed 1,000.

If you’re operating purely as an affiliate marketer on Amazon, then to earn $10 in affiliate commissions from Amazon, you need will to generate around $200 in sales. That is eminently achievable from 1,000–10,000 clicks, but you would still need to monitor your commissions carefully to ensure that you were coming out ahead overall.

If you are promoting your own books or e-books, you will also have the benefit of profits from sales, of course. In my view it would be very surprising if this plus any affiliate commissions didn’t add up to more than $10 for 1000–10,000 clicks, though it would again be advisable to monitor earnings versus expenditure carefully.

Using GeoRiot has other benefits too. For one thing, it means your website visitors get a better experience, as they will be automatically directed to their own national Amazon store when they click on any Amazon links. A further benefit of using GeoRiot is that you gain access to lots of useful stats, including where your visitors are from. Through this I discovered that although I am UK-based, I was actually getting more clicks on my links from people in the US. I have therefore modified my marketing strategies accordingly.

I have been using the GeoRiot link management platform for over 18 months now, and have seen a pleasing rise in both sales and affiliate commissions during that time. If you are an Amazon author and/or affiliate yourself, therefore, I recommend checking out this highly professional service.

If you have any comments or questions about GeoRiot, please do post them below.

UPDATE 30 August 2015 – Note that GeoRiot has been rebranded and is now Geniuslink at Please see this blog post for more information. You might also want to read this blog post for details of the company’s other 100% free link management platform, BookLinker.

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How to Follow Entrepreneur Writer

Read Write Learn by afagen, on Flickr
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License   by  afagen 

In response to several requests, I have now added a facility to receive email updates any time Entrepreneur Writer is updated. You should see the sign-up box to the right of this post (or at the foot of the page on mobile devices).

This facility will ONLY be used to send subscribers an email when a new post has been published here. In theory I could use it to send out newsletters as well, but that will never be the case on this blog. I have no immediate plans to create a separate email newsletter, although I’m not ruling it out for the future. But if I do, there will be a separate sign-up mechanism, so everyone knows exactly what they are getting!

The other way you can see updates to the blog is to subscribe to the RSS feed, using a feed reader such as Feedly (my personal favourite). Again, you can access the main feed URL (Entries RSS) on the right – you may need to scroll down a bit – or at the foot of the page on mobile devices. But actually, with Feedly and similar services, all you need to do is paste the blog URL into the search box and it will automatically detect all feeds available from the website in question.

Many thanks to everyone who has signed up to receive updates already, by the way. It’s great to have you on board!

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Have You Seen More Money Review?

My main clients nowadays are More Money Review, so I thought the least I could do was give them a mention on my new blog.

MMR is a website devoted to home-based money-making opportunities (principally home business, betting, and forex trading). The URL is and they also have a Facebook Page at

I write reviews of business opportunities for the site, and also contribute articles. The latter are published in Proof! – a print newsletter sent to premium members – and also in emails sent to these  members.

More Money Review is a membership site, so to see the full reviews you will need to register (which is free). Registered members also receive email updates about home money-making opportunities and issues (there was recently an eye-opening report on “binary options trading” scams written by Michelle Roberts, their Head of Research).

Joining the MMR Premium Service gives you a range of extra benefits. These include more in-depth reviews and articles – including some by me personally – as well as free bonus reports and articles, and access to the exclusive Premium Members Forums. Right now, one year’s membership is available for just 37 UK pounds (about $55 US). For more information about the More Money Review Premium Service click here.

If you’re interested in home-based business and other money-making opportunities, I do at least recommend registering for free to gain full access to the More Money Review website. And that’s not just because they are putting bread on my table! I am satisfied that MMR is an honest, ethical operation, and they provide objective information and reviews in a field where hype and exaggeration are frequently the order of the day.

Bear in mind that More Money Review is aimed primarily at UK readers, so not everything covered will be relevant (or even legal) for those living outside Britain.

If there is anything else you would like to know about More Money Review, do feel free to post a comment or question below.

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Search Your Hard Disk at Lightning Speed with Lookeen Free

I recently received notification about a new and powerful desktop search tool for Windows PCs. It is actually free for private users.

This is the type of tool that is especially valuable for anyone who (like me) is not as organized as they ought to be about saving files in logical places. But actually, Lookeen Free will be useful to anyone who can benefit from a rapid method for finding any file just by searching for a keyword (or words).

I once used Google Desktop Search for this purpose, but this was discontinued by Google in 2012 and the version I had on my computer stopped working properly very soon after. As I mentioned, Lookeen Free is available to download free of charge. The only limitation compared with the paid version is that you can only search one hard drive (normally the C drive). If you have multiple or partitioned drives, or want to search on network drives as well, you will probably need the full business version. But, of course, for many writers, the ability to search your own hard disk/drive is all we require.

I found downloading and installing Lookeen Free an easy and intuitive process. By default the software is set to index every folder and sub-folder on your drive, but if you wish you can exclude some (e.g. system folders) via the Options menu. One other thing to note is that before you can use Lookeen Free, the software will need to index your drive. This doesn’t happen automatically the first time you start the software. You will need to click on Start in the Index menu, and away the software will go.

How long indexing will take depends on how many indexable files you have on your drive. It turned out that I had around 140,000, which took several hours in all. You can use Lookeen Free while it is still indexing, but of course the results then may not be complete.

Lookeen Free indexes a range of file types. As well as the text and word-processing files you might expect, it also indexes image files, PowerPoint files, Excel spreadsheet files, web page files, and so on. Searching using Lookeen Free is then just a matter of entering the relevant keywords in the search box. There are also a few modifiers you can use. For example, a minus sign in front of a word will exclude any results including that word from appearing in the results list.

You can also put any search term within double quotes to ensure that only exact matches are displayed. Both of these modifiers are just the same as ones you can use on Google, of course. To show you what Lookeen Free search results look like, here is the result of a sample search I performed using the term “screenwriting”. As you can see, Lookeen Free instantly found 49 results. By highlighting any one of them, you can actually read and access the document in question.


In my opinion Lookeen Free is a very cool tool, and it’s certainly a lot better and faster than the basic file search available within Windows. If you decide to give it a try, I’ll be very interested to hear how you get on. Please leave any comments below as usual.

Important Update – January 2016. Unfortunately it appears that Lookeen is no longer free. There is now only a 10-day free trial version available from the website. Another tool which is still free is Everything, available from This only searches filenames, however, so you can’t use it to search within content.

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Free All This Week – My Kindle Plotting Guide!

To celebrate the launch of my new blog, I have decided to make my Kindle e-book Three Great Techniques for Plotting Your Novel or Screenplay free all this week (until Friday).

This no-fluff mini-guide sets out three powerful techniques you can use to generate all the plot ideas you need (and more) to turn out a stream of successful short stories, novels and screenplays.

The techniques can be used individually or – for even greater impact and originality – by combining two or all three of them. Examples are included throughout.

Three Great Techniques for Plotting Your Novel or Screenplay is based on content from my best-selling course Write Any Book in Under 28 Days. Naturally, if you haven’t seen this, I hope you will check it out too. Write Any Book in Under 28 Days (also called the Nick Daws Course by my publishers) sets out my unique method of outlining and “blueprinting” a book, and much more besides.

Finally, if you don’t have a Kindle e-reader, don’t worry. You can still download and read Three Great Techniques for Plotting Your Novel or Screenplay using one of the free apps available from Amazon. Apps are available for smartphones, tablets, laptop/desktop PCs, and so on.

I hope you enjoy reading Three Great Techniques for Plotting Your Novel or Screenplay. If so, a review is always very much appreciated, of course!

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Welcome to my new blog!

Hello, and thank you for visiting my new Entrepreneur Writer blog. In this blog I hope to share tips and advice for writers and aspiring writers, along with current opportunities and resources.

Some of you may know me from my old blog at This was run in association with The WCCL Network, publishers of many of my writing courses, including the original and best-selling Write Any Book in Under 28 Days. For various reasons I am no longer working with WCCL, so that blog is no longer being updated (by me at any rate). I should also like to take this opportunity to clarify that I no longer have author access to that blog and am unable to approve or reply to comments on it. Sorry!

Nowadays I write mainly about home business opportunities (e.g. for my regular clients at More Money Review), so my new blog will have a certain bias towards this. As it is entirely my own rather than owned by a publisher, I shall have a completely free hand in what I write, so don’t be surprised if I get a bit controversial from time to time!

Since I am new to running my own (self-hosted) WordPress site there will inevitably be a learning curve for me, so please accept my apologies (and let me know) if I make any technical mistakes.

That’s all for now, but I’ll be back soon with more updates and information. If you would like to contact me you are welcome to leave a comment below and/or send a message via my Contact Me page.

Photo credit: moleskine in the spring via photopin (license)

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