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  Issue #62

Free Writers' Newsletter

   Apr 26, 2008  


Boost creativity by befriending your muse
By Molli Nickell

The harsh reality about making the transition from wannabe to published author is that you actually have to complete your manuscript. No agent or editor is going to perform a lobotomy to extract your words as they slumber, unwritten, between your ears. To assist you in transforming what you want to write into a book or magazine manuscript, consider enlisting the aid of your muse.

Have you protected your Copyright? Copyright piracy is estimated to cost millions annually. Before sending your work to agents, publishers, or contests, make sure you take out copyright protection. Click here for more information.

According to the Greeks (the culture which gave the world the Olympics, Zorba the Greek, and toga parties), everyone has a “muse” available to assist in any creative endeavour, be it writing, painting, drawing, sculpture, photography, dancing, etc. You already may be familiar with your muse, but recognise it as your inner self, creative self, higher self, subconscious, or inner child. Regardless of how you label it, incorporating this powerful and inspirational force will enhance your creativity and keep you moving forward on the path to becoming a published author. Follow these four, simple steps.

First, trust that you really truly have a muse.

Second, be willing to ask your muse for help. How? Just ask. (Duh!) You might say something like: “Thank you muse, for helping me complete my manuscript. Your presence and assistance are appreciated.”

Third, make a BIC commitment, meaning, putting your Butt In the Chair to write – same time, same place – on a schedule that works for you. This proves to you and your muse that you’re serious about writing. You’re not just flapping your gums (and boring people) when you talk about this wonderful book or article or whatever you’re going to write someday when you have time. Despite job, car pool, kids, soccer practice, home care, shopping, working out, yoga, etc. you can make the time to bring your words to life.

How does this commitment business work? For starters, set your alarm 15 or 30 or 45 minutes ahead of your usual crawling-out-of-bed time. Be comfy in bathrobe or sweats and head for your writing place, plunk yourself down, and write. No distractions. Bathroom breaks are OK, but do not pass GO, prepare coffee, tidy up the kitchen, or run around the block first. The point is to remain, as much as possible, in the alpha state (dreamy and not fully awake) to open your receptive pathway so ideas can zip into your mind, travel through your fingers and emerge on the screen (or paper).

Maybe morning isn’t your best time. Fine. Pick another. Instead of watching mindlessly violent TV programs (like the evening news), use that time to commune with your muse and write. It’s not important whether your “same time” is AM or PM. What matters is that you consistently sit down at your chosen time, invite your muse to be with you, and write.

Start out easy. You’re acquiring a new skill. How about giving yourself thirty minutes a day? That’s doable. Thirty minutes a day, six days a week, add up to twelve hours a month – a healthy chunk of writing time.

Fourth, read what you wrote during your last writing session before you go to bed. Be thinking about that as you drift off into dreamland. This way, you and your muse (also “on call” when you’re sleeping) will be up to snuff and champing at the bit to continue writing the next day.

It’s simple. Invite your muse to become part of your writing life, put your butt in the chair, same time/same place, and enjoy the resulting creative boost. Keep in mind that any culture brilliant enough to have given the world big fat weddings and big fat buildings (the Pantheon) obviously knows the big fat secret to boosting creativity.

From Nike, the Greek goddess of victory... GO FOR IT!

About the author
Molli Nickell, five-times published author, former publisher and Time-Life editor, helps writers learn to shift from “telling” to “selling” – a vital step in writing effective marketing documents. She teaches how to craft effective, sales-oriented queries and proposals that generate the coveted response of, “Yes, please submit your manuscript.” Her website,, offers insider information on what agents/editors/publishers want, critiqued query letters to study, and, FREE query evaluations (no kidding, they’re free!).

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Click here for great value writing classes!

My writing competition success
An interview with writer,
Neil Forbes

Neil Forbes recently found success in a writing competition he found through We caught up with him to talk to him about the competition, and his writing.

fw: Congratulations on your competition success. Tell us a little about the competition, your entry, and your prize.

NF: The competition was organised by a publisher in Nevada. Writers' submissions were required to include a nominated chapter, and members of the public then voted on its worth. Highest vote wins, etc. etc. I came third, receiving US$60.

fw: Is writing something you've always done, or something you've come to relatively recently?

NF: At school one of the few things I was good at was English and written expression, but it was only when I retired that I wrote short stories. In a management role however my marketing reports were always very well received.

fw: What made you start entering competitions?

NF: I started entering competitions when I joined your organisation and began receiving email bulletins regarding who is running competitions.

fw: Were you finding it difficult to get good information on potential markets before that?

NF: Yes I was. Your information was the best I received.

fw: Via our InstantAlert service we generally send out details of more than two newly added competitions every day. How did you choose which ones to enter?

NF: The InstantAlert usually provides details of what type of story is required, i.e. fiction, nonfiction, science, fantasy, romance, Sci-Fi, etc. I work on crime fiction mainly and would generally select which competitions to enter based on word limit. My stories are between 3,000 and 5,000 words.

fw: Do you always stick with the same kind of contests, or do you enter a variety?

NF: Pretty much enter the same type of contest, I now have six stories which I believe are suitable for a general audience.

fw: How long was it before you started finding success? Did you enter a lot of competitions before starting to get results?

NF: About 15 months and entered about 24 competitions. Coincidently the story which was a prizewinner has now also been printed on the web by Pitwit of London.

fw: What do you think was the key to your success?

NF: Its a personal thing but I work on the KISS system: "Keep It Simple, Stupid". The more complicated a story, in my opinion, the less chance the reader will appreciate it.

fw: What next? More competitions, or do you have other plans for your writing?

NF: I will continue to submit my stories. Judges have told me my stories lend themselves to tele-movies, so maybe some scriptwriter may have an interest some time.

fw: Well we wish you the best of luck with all of it, and thanks for taking the time to talk to us.

To search's database of competitions for yourself, please click here.

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Publishing is not just printing stories

Shrabon Prokashani is a publishing house with a strong political stand and a firm belief in variation, founder Robin Ahsan tells Sanam Amin.

SA: How did Shrabon start out?

RA: It began back in 1999 as an idea that came to me while working in the Little Magazine Corner. I thought of starting a publishing facility and approached Syed Anwar Rashid, then director general of the Bangla Academy. He supported my endeavour and within a short space of time we had many manuscripts from ten or twelve well-known authors such as Selim Al-Deen and Anu Muhammad; Shamsur Rahman and Badruddin Umar too. Over time we have published a large variety of genres, not just stories and novels. We have published many plays as well, something I think most other publishers tend to avoid. But at Shrabon we believe this variation is necessary.

SA: How is Shrabon different from other publishing houses?

RA: I think the difference lies in what we choose to publish. We have done some English books and will publish much more in the near future. We have also done a lot of translations, something that I think is very necessary in increasing exposure and sharing different literatures. Most importantly there is a political aspect to Shrabon. Shrabon publishes several books related to political discourse that most other publishers choose not to take up. But publishing is not just about printing stories and novels; we have a very close interest in writing on political issues. One example is Anu Muhammad’s Development or Destruction, a book of essays that question global hegemony and corporate grabbing in Bangladesh’s context. And at this year’s fair our highest selling new book is Fidel Castro’s autobiography, translated to Bangla by Farouk Chowdhury.

SA: You also have a series of children’s books? One of them is authored by you.

RA: Yes, these are mostly rhymes and stories; one book of rhymes is by me. Before I was a publisher, I was a writer. I try to make the children’s books good productions; we invest more in the production costs of children’s books even though we don’t sell as much as adult literature. But a child’s book of rhymes needs to be a good production, more so than a collection of political essays. It is regrettable that there has been no arrangement for children at the fair this year. A child who has just learned to read is barely the height of these stalls; he or she cannot browse through the children’s books side-by-side with adults quite simply because it is unreachable. And the congestion this year at the book fair is tremendous, especially on weekends. It isn’t possible for a family with small children to come and enjoy themselves. One solution that has been suggested is to use the adjacent gymnasium field and rearrange the stalls, put the big publishing houses there so those who are ready to push and shove for the books they want can go there while the newer smaller publishers and writers can have a big open space. And the Shishu Academy premises could be used for a separate children’s book fair with stalls and seats of the right size. They can arrange games and activities as well. These reforms are possible if the Boi Mela Committee is reformed and has academics, publishers and writers as members. Collectively they can make improvements.

SA: Do you think a publisher ought to have some experience as a writer?

RA: Not necessarily, but you need to understand what is literature, what is good writing style, what makes a story. A publisher needs that understanding before thinking about what will sell.

SA: How do you define a good writer?

RA: I don’t really have a definition. A writer is a writer as long as he or she writes, regardless of their personality or behaviour.

SA: What book(s) will you be releasing in the near future?

RA: Well, in the last week of the Ekushey book fair we will be releasing a collection of essays by Paul Suizi, the former editor of Monthly Review. He died just last year and the new editor of Monthly Review gave us permission to print this book. It comes with an introduction from the current editor.

SA: Thank you for taking the time to talk to us, and all the best for your future publishing.

To search's database of publishers, please click here.

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Resources for writers at

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In this issue:

Spelling conventions

fwn uses English spelling conventions. Spellings such as "realise" "colour", "theatre", "cancelled", etc. differ from other spelling conventions but are nonetheless correct. 


Short story contest – final deadline
There are just a few days left to get your entry in for the Fourth International Short Story Contest, and secure your chance of winning £200 (that's around $400)!

Stories up to 3,000 words will be accepted online up to May 1, 2008. To enter now, click here.

For over 150 other contests, click here

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New poetry festival for 2009
A new event, the Polyverse Poetry Festival, has been confirmed to take place at Loughborough University in the summer of 2009.

A number of published poets have already been confirmed, but organisers are keen to hear from other poets who could volunteer to perform or offer free workshops. The budget is too tight to allow for appearance fees or expenses, but poets will have the opportunity to sell their wares, network, and raise their profile.

Anyone interested in appearing at or attending the conference should email Radcliff Gregory at Radcliff.freeradical@

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Publisher seeks cleaning lady stories
Sixteen Cat Tails Publishing has issued a call to writers for cleaning lady stories. The stories must be true stories about cleaning ladies, and by cleaning ladies. The publishers are looking for experiences that are "slightly naughty" but do not wish to receive erotica.

Contact details are available on the listing (click here).

For over 950 other publishers, click here 

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Freelance opportunity for college students
Chicago-based internet company "" is offering college students a freelance writing opportunity to earn extra income, paid at $10 per hour.

Candidates must have good researching and writing skills, and must be able to produce lively, clean copy. 

To apply, send an email to studentwriters
with resume and an 80-100 word writing sample answering the question "Is sea salt good for you?".

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© 2008
While every effort is made to ensure that all information contained within this newsletter is accurate, readers are reminded that this information is provided only as a collection of potential leads that the reader should follow up with his or her own investigations. Unless otherwise stated, is not associated with and does not endorse, recommend, or guarantee any of the organisations, events, persons or promotions contained within this newsletter, and cannot be held responsible for any loss incurred as a result of actions taken in relation to information provided. Inclusion does not constitute recommendation.