Posts Tagged ‘facebook’

As you’ll see, I haven’t used a picture at the top of this blog. I’m actually thinking about going through ALL my posts and deleting/changing any photos that aren’t mine.


I read a post today about copyright and photographs via the wonderful, Roni Loren… And it was scary! According to Roni’s recent, and horrifying experience, Fair Use doesn’t seem to exist. It doesn’t matter….

  • if you link back to the source and list the photographer’s name
  • if the picture is not full-sized (only thumbnail size is okay)
  • if you did it innocently
  • if your site is non-commercial and you made no money from the use of the photo
  • if you didn’t claim the photo was yours
  • if you’ve added commentary in addition to having the pic in the post
  • if the picture is embedded and not saved on your server
  • if you have a disclaimer on your site.
  • if you immediately take down a pic if someone sends you a DMCA notice (you do have to take it down, but it doesn’t absolve you.)

It really made me think, and I commented so.

My question?

If you are looking for an image to use for your blog, as many of us do, and type, say, “desert” into Google images – you are likely to find that same image, only from different websites. How are you supposed to know who it originated or belongs too?

I deleted my Pinterest account a long time ago when rumours of lawsuits began washing over the internet. Some photos I use on my blog and Facebook (especially my banners), are my own personal pictures that I have ‘shot’ myself. I would not expect anyone, after a year on the internet, to know they originated from me.

So, what about you? Have you used Google images to find photos? Would you sue someone for using one of your personal pictures? Have you ever been asked to remove a photograph? Or, have you had your own lawsuit to fight?

If you want more of me, try checking out FacebookTwitterGoogle+GoodreadsKloutBranchOut and Linkedin


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Well, hello again. What does this make it? Three weeks? Doesn’t time fly?

You’re probably chomping at the bit to start the writing process but I’ll let you into a little secret. You’re already doing it.

Writing starts way before you type ‘Chapter One’ a third of the way down the first page.

Firstly, there’s all that preparation you have to do. Oh now come on, stop your whining. We all have to prepare for something or other. For example, take builders. They wouldn’t build a house on mud, (unless you’re watching TV show Cowboy Builders), because their house would sink within a couple of years; pretty much like your novel would.

No. The builder has much preparation to do: Dig foundations. Get Building regulations approved. Add concrete. Bring up the damp course. Only then does he start to build his house. – And in case you’re impressed by my knowledge of building, don’t be. My father is a builder and I can build a brick wall 🙂

It’s much the same with writers. Preparation is a MUST! Without it, you’re novel is guaranteed to sink. Trust me.

Still with me? Tantrum over? Excellent. Let’s move on.

After last weeks post you should now know what genre you’re writing for. But why do we have to talk about social media now? Isn’t that something to think about after we finish writing our novel? And where do we even find a social media site?

I’m glad you asked.

What is Social Media?

Social Media is exactly what it says.

‘Social’ is the social interaction between two or a group of people. It’s similar to going out at night and getting together with friends, or meeting and making new pals.

‘Media’ is media. Just as newspapers and magazines report news, entertainment, local stories, and fashion, your ‘media’ runs pretty much the same. With your friends and ‘new’ cyber pals, you build relationships and discuss everyday life…as well as your work, writing, and upcoming releases.

Building a Brand

Remember, our name is our ‘brand’. The only way we are going to build on it is by using it…. All the time. 

Decide what social media sites you are most comfortable with and plaster it ‘everywhere’. The more you use it, the more you become associated with it. You want people to remember it.

When I first started using twitter I had a random name, like most of us do. We hide because we don’t want to be ‘seen’. But that isn’t going to help us when it comes time to sell our books. Make sure it’s your name (or your pen name) that you use on the social networking sites. To my knowledge, Waterstones, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble don’t have the resources to find me if someone asks for a book by ‘EssexGirl71’.

But why do it now? Wouldn’t it be better to wait until I have written my book before I start promoting myself?

Well, you can but other than your mother and her friends at the W.I., you’ll have nobody to buy it. By building your brand now, you’ll have a loyal following of friends all queuing to read your book when it’s finished.

And, an extra tit-bit of information. I regularly hear that if a publisher or agent likes your book, the first thing they do is Google your name to see how big a presence you have on the internet. A well written book just doesn’t seem to be enough anymore.


The promotion package no longer comes wrapped in glittery paper and tied with a silky smooth bow. Here’s why:

Pre-internet: Author wrote a book. Author personally delivered, or posted, manuscript (remember those days?), to the publisher. Author returned home for a well deserved cup of tea before starting their next novel. Publisher runs around like a headless chicken promoting book.

Post-internet: Author writes a book while tackling social media. Author publishes novel either via traditional, indie, or the e-publishing route. Author works their ass off promoting and marketing the novel. Publisher relaxes with a cup of tea.

Promoting and marketing is exhausting and time-consuming and when you first start out, you’ll be doing everything yourself. Try different things. Watch what method makes the biggest impact.

Er, just to clarify, I am not telling nor condoning you take the same drastic action as Russell Brand, but if you do, send me pictures 🙂 

Social Media Sites

So, that brings us to which social Media should we undertake?

There are many out there: Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Goodreads, MySpace,Google+, LinkedIn….. the list is endless. And you will never have the time to join all of them. You have a book to write, remember? So, pick two or three and throw them into the mixing bowl.

Although I can be found on Google+ and Linkedin, I have two main sites I frequent; Twitter and Facebook. Not surprising as they are both listed in the top ten of social networking sites.

So, you’ve chosen ‘your’ social media sites. What do you do now? How much do you update them? I try to visit my sites at least ONCE a DAY. I update my status, have a chat and a giggle with people, and generally walk away with a smile on my face. Social media can be FUN!

Still not sure? Check out my Facebook page and see how it works for yourself.


Okay, now we’ve reached that word that scares the hell out of some writers. Blogging. Take a deep breath. Hold it. Hold it. Breath out. Blogging. Say it. Blogging. See, it’s not so bad, is it?

Blogging is another way to meet the world outside your window. And it’s a wonderful way for writers to enhance their writing skills.

But what do I blog about?

Hey, you’re a writer with a fabulous imagination! Trending topics are reviews and information on gathered research. Start by blogging once a week until you find your feet. Most importantly, be consistent with the timing of your posts. 

Remember, you are a writer the moment you decide to write your book. Be proud to call yourself a writer.

Need more help on the art of social media and blogging? Social media Jedi, Kristen Lamb has two fabulous books on the subject.

So, your task this week is to check out which social media sites you wish to build a presence on. And let me know in the comments section. It will be interesting to see what are the more popular sites.

You can also find me on FacebookTwitter, Google+ and Linkedin

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A couple of weeks ago I received an email from ECollegeFinder notifying me that my blog had been nominated for an award. Yesterday, voting opened.

This is an extremely exciting for me.

I posted my first blog on 28th November, 2009. Like most new bloggers, I think I blogged about three times in two months and then nothing until October 2010, when I began blogging once a week. Now, however, I blog three times a week. I aim the majority of my articles towards writers, being I am one, but every now and then I like to have a little fun and embarass myself.

Every Monday I list all the latest writing competitions for authors and screenwriters I can find. Each Wednesday I post a 30 Second Interview, the particpants being either authors, screenwriters, or staff writers,  and Fridays are usually a mix between writing advice, guest posts, book reveiws, or just a bit of ‘fun’.

What has overwhelmed me, is the amount of support my twitter and Facebook peeps have shown. I’ve lost count how many messages of congratulations and RT’s I’ve received on twitter alone.

If you like this blog, and if you would like to show your much appreciated support, please click the blue box above (or the one in the top right hand margin). It only takes a minute. Click ‘Donna Newton’s Blog’, and then, at the bottom of the list, ‘VOTE’.

Voting ends Friday 3rd February, so there’s no time to waste. Oh, and if you feel really generous, you can vote for me more than once. So even if you already have …..Vote again 😀

I’ll let you know how I do.

Let me know what special awards you’ve been nominated for, or received. I don’t care what it’s for. School activities, competitions, anything goes on here.

If you want more of me, I can be found on FacebookTwitter, Google+ and Linkedin


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This weeks competitions that have caught my eye:


Emerald Writing Workshops
Category:   Fiction
Closes:   28th February 2012
Fees:   £1.80 for one entry. £5 for three entries (maximum).
Prizes:   £65 for first place. £20 second; £15 third; three runners-up win a book of short stories.
Details:   Maximum 500 words excluding title set on a train. Postal entries only. Open to anyone in the world of any age.
Contact:   Eddie Walsh, 4 Abbott Street, Long Eaton, Nottingham NG10 1DF
Country: United Kingdom
Email: edwardjohnwalsh@hotmail.com
Website: http://www.emeraldwritingworkshops.co.uk

Crazyhorse Fiction Prize
Category:   Fiction
Closes:   15th January 2012
Fees:   $16 for one entry.
Prizes:   $2,000 for first place. Also magazine publication.
Details:   For short stories up to 25 pages.
Contact:   Fiction Prize, Crazyhorse, Department of English, College of Charleston, 66 George Street, Charleston SC 29424
Country:   United States
Website:   http://www.crazyhorsejournal.org/page.php?id=108

ITF short story competition!
Category:   Fiction
Closes:   14th February 2012
Fees:   £0 for one entry. This competition is free to all!
Prizes:   £0 for first place. The winner gets a tree planted in a name of their choice and the top three stories get ITF goody bags!
Details:   The competition is open to published and unpublished authors writing in any genre anywhere in the world. Stories must be original and not have been previously published. Maximum of 1,500 words. Theme: Simply Trees and Forests. You can submit more than one entry if you wish. Send entries as an attachment to your email. Email title: Short Story Comp. Inc: Story title, name, address, phone number, brief biography.
Country:   United Kingdom
Email:   info@internationaltreefoundation.org
Website:   http://www.internationaltreefoundation.org/competitions

West Country Writers’ Association Comp.
Category:   Fiction
Closes:   12th December 2011
Fees:   £5 for one entry.
Prizes:   £50 for first place.
Details:   For short stories up to 1,200 words which include the name Jane Austen at least once.
Contact:   Diney Costeloe, Glebe House, Shipham, Winscombe, Somerset, BS25 1TW
Country:   United Kingdom
Website:   http://www.westcountrywriters.com/events.html

PRISM international Short Fiction Comp.
Category:   Fiction
Closes:   27th January 2012
Fees:   $28 for one entry. $7 each additional story.
Prizes:   $2,000 for first place. $200 x 2.
Details:   For unpublished stories up to 25 double-spaced pages.
Contact:   PRISM international, Short Fiction Contest, University of British Columbia, Buchanan E462, 1866 Main Mall, Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z1
Country:   Canada
Website:   http://prismmagazine.ca/contests

Kingdoms of Desire
Category:   Fiction
Closes:   15th December 2011
Fees:   £0 for one entry.
Prizes:   $50 for first place. Anthology publication and one-off payment of $50-$70.
Details:   For fantasy stories with an erotic element between 3,000 and 6,000 words.
Country:   United Kingdom
Email:   submissions@mitziszereto.com
Website:   http://mitziszereto.com/blog/writers-call-for-short-story-submissions

The One Week Fiction Writing Challenge
Category:   Fiction
Closes:   14th January 2012
Fees:   £5 for one entry. Free to CC Premier1 Members.
Prizes:   £200 for first place. 2nd Prize £150.00 3rd Prize:£100.00 4th Prize:   £75.00 5th Prize: Course 6th Prize: Membership.
Details:   On the 14th January an email will be sent to all participants detailing the writing challenge. The competition will be challenging in terms of creativity, but is not a serious word count challenge. Competitor numbers are restricted for this competition so it maximises the chance of winning for those who enter.
Contact:   Creative1 Publishing, 15 Rue Canigounenc, Ceret 66400
Country:   France
Email:   info@creative-competitor.co.uk
Website:   http://creativecompetitor.com/competitions/writingcompweeklychallenge/

Hayward Gallery: Short Story Competition
Category:   Fiction
Closes:   18th December 2011
Fees:   £0 for one entry.
Prizes:   £0 for first place. Winner is published on website and wins signed catalogue and playing cards.
Details:   Inviting members of the public to create 300 word short pieces of fiction, inspired by Condo’s portraits. The best stories will be published on the blog, with the overall winner receiving a limited edition playing cards, signed catalogue and other prizes. Entries should be submitted by email.
Country:   United Kingdom
Email:   competitions@southbankcentre.co.uk
Website:   http://thehayward.southbankcentre.co.uk

Million Stories Project
Category:   Fiction
Closes:   27th January 2012
Fees:  £24 for one entry. Enables entry into all 5 competitons.
Prizes:   £0 for first place. Writing holiday to Spain.
Details:   Write between 400 and 1000 words in this creative life writing competition. Every day people like you and I do amazing things. They may not be the things that make the national news, but in your communities they matter and you are changing lives. Your story is your legacy. Sit comfortably, pick up pen, open notebook, relax, write, meld into short story, enter…
Country:   United Kingdom
Website:   http://millionstoriesproject.com


Merritt Contest
Sponsor: San Antonio Romance Authors
Fee: $25–35.00
Deadline: February 14, 2012
Eligibility: Unpublished or published but not PAN-eligible.
Entry: 25 pages total, including synopsis; electronic only.
Judges: published, unpublished and/or PRO.
Categories and Final Judges:
Contemporary—Deb Werksman, Sourcebooks
Historical—Tessa Woodward, Avon
Romantic Suspense—Patience Bloom, Harlequin
Women’s Fiction (has separate scoresheet)—Kate Seaver, Berkley
Top Prize: certificate, plaque and subscription to chapter newsletter.
FMI, e-mail saramerritt.coord@gmail.com or visit www.sararwa.net.


LIFF – London Independent Film Festival
Submissions are now open for the 2012 LIFF Screenplay Competition
The London Independent Film Festival is proud to host the UK’s top screenplay competition. Enter now and get your writing discovered.
Website:   http://www.londonindependent.org/screenplay.htm


We are looking for completed feature-length biopic scripts about the feminist leader Gloria Steinem. Budget is open. WGA and non-WGA writers may submit.
Our credits include “Trust” with Clive Owen, the upcoming “Playing the Field” with Gerard Butler and “Lovelace” with Amanda Seyfried.
To submit to this lead, please go to http://www.inktippro.com/leads/ and enter your email address (you will be signing up for InkTip’s ffree email newsletter) and enter this code: 8agek3gv08. Thank you.

We are looking for completed feature-length quirky, offbeat scripts in the vein of “Being John Malkovich,” “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” or other Charlie Kaufman or Coen Brothers style scripts. We are looking to take advantage of specific locations, so we are not open to scripts set in international locations or period pieces. Also, we are NOT open to scripts about screenwriting/Hollywood (like “Adaptation”) or stories that are too stagnant in energy or “slice of life” scripts. We prefer the offbeat worlds of the above scripts over the flood of indie festival films about a single dysfunctional family. We are not open to road trip stories. Budget will not exceed $300,000. WG and Non-WG writers may submit.
We are a non-profit film center in Miami that provides resources for directors and for-profit feature films. Our credits include “Historias de la urbe.” We recently optioned a script through InkTip.
To submit to this lead, please go to http://www.inktippro.com/leads/ and enter your email address (you will be signing up for InkTip’s free email newsletter) and enter this code: ve6j9s2p9b. Thank you.

We are looking for completed feature-length crime thriller scripts where the story takes place in just one location, like an office building, a house, or a school. Budget will not exceed $1 million. WGA and non-WGA writers may submit. Our credits include “XRMNTR.”
To submit to this lead, please go to http://www.inktippro.com/leads/ and enter your email address (you will be signing up for InkTip’s free email newsletter) and enter the code: vvb9g5f112. Thank you.

CultCamp Studios is a Delhi based media startup. We created India’s first web-series – Company Bahadur – http://companybahadur.com/. We are looking for intelligent, high IQ, smart & funny young men & women who can write as well as act. At CultCamp you will be scriptwriting for & acting in comedy sketches for YouTube; writing scripts, developing characters & voice acting for an animated show (possibly for TV); coming up with ideas for internet videos/shows; and being an active part of production.
As a writer+actor you are expected to be widely knowledgeable about popular culture. You should apply if your idea of a perfect job is watching & discussing Youtube videos and TV shows, thinking up characters & stories and indulging in improv comedy sessions. Email us @ cultcrew@cultcamp.com marked to the attention of Pratik Arora. Thank you.

Seeking experienced screenwriter who has written screenplays that have already been produced. Need someone who can help polish work I have written. I need someone who can write action, comedy, drama, horror, and short films. Screenwriter must send me their credits and works they have done. Must give me a list of producers you have worked with. This is not a paying job. But if we can get my work made I will split the profits 50/50. Contact me, BJ Anderson, at ladsonb190@bellsouth.net. Thank you.

NEW YORK: I need a professional screenwriter / script doctor for screenplay I already have. Candidate must be able to rewrite the screenplay on Final Draft, help strenghten the plot, and get the script ready for productions. Please email me at anothercountry74@gmail.com

Onward Films is seeking to option and produce a screenplay about horse racing, preferably (not required) about the Triple Crown. Financier is lined up for the right project. Please inquire with us at inquiries@onwardmotionpictures.com. Price paid TBD upon interest. Please do not submit any other projects. Thank you.

KDI Films is looking for completed feature-length ensemble comedy scripts featuring three male lead characters between 25 and 30 years of age.  Can be off-beat, in the vein of “The Hangover,” “Pulp Fiction,” or even in something like “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.”  Be advised we are not open to reading any scripts unless they meet those specific criteria. Budget is open. WGA and non-WGA writers may submit. Our credits include “Welcome to the Neighborhood.”
Note: To submit go to InkTippro.com/leads and enter your email address (you will be signing up for InkTip’s newsletter) with this code: 0hye9um9vm. You will be submitting a logline and synopsis only. Thank you.

We are looking for a boxing movie in the vein of the Oscar-nominated classic “The Champ” or more recently something like “The Fighter” or “Million Dollar Baby.” Budget is open. WGA and non-WGA writers may submit.
Our company Nasser Entertainment/NGN Productions is producing the film “For a Good Time Call” w/Seth Rogen & Justin Long and “Fortune” directed by Clark Johnson w/Rose McGowan, Kim Basinger, Heather Graham & Catherine O’Hara. In addition we’ve produced several films written by writers discovered on InkTip, such as “Knockout” w/Steve Austin.
To submit to this lead please go to http://www.inktippro.com/leads/. Enter your email address (you will be signing up for InkTip’s free newsletter) and enter this code: fr2d030m3h
NOTE: Please only submit your work if it fits what the lead is looking for exactly. If you aren’t sure if your script fits, please ask InkTip first.

We are looking for completed feature-length espionage scripts. Stories can be set anywhere, but they must be contemporary, we are not open to cold war period pieces. Budget will not exceed $5 million. Only non-WGA writers may submit. Our credits include “Death and Cremation” and the upcoming “The Employer.”
To submit to this lead, please go to: http://www.inktippro.com/leads/. Enter your email address (you will be signing up for InkTip’s free newsletter) and enter this code: 7dxy6btc72..
NOTE: Please only submit your work if it fits what the lead is looking for exactly. If you aren’t sure if your script fits, please ask InkTip first.

Please remember to check out legitimacy of all contests before you enter and to copyright all work.

Good luck and let me know how you get on.

If you want more of me, you can also find me on FacebookTwitter, Google+ and Linkedin

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You guys are pretty intelligent. I want your opinion on something that has been bothering me for a few months now.


Do you prefer to ‘request’ the friendship of a facebooker or are you happy to just ‘like’ them?


I have two Facebook pages. The first is my personal page. I’ve had it for years and even though I don’t visit very often, have ignored my farm, and neglected my animals to the point they have up sticks and moved to Cafe World, it is the place I know I can catch up with old school mates, family members, and close friends whenever I like.


Then I have another page which is my ‘Donna Newton Author Page’. I do frequent this page a lot. I post blog updates, talk about what I’m up to, and discuss topics with other writers.


My dilemma is this. My personal page gets quite a few friend requests from people I don’t know and as this page is, well, personal, I decline them. My status updates on this page are private after all, as are my friends.

My Author page on the other hand is free for everyone to like. You don’t even have to ‘like’ me. You can view the page, scan uploaded photos, and read the statuses. You can comment, join in and then, if you really feel the urge to – you can ‘like’ me. It’s simple. I meet new people, have a laugh and in some cases, even added some ‘like’ peeps to my personal page.


So, what is my dilemma?


Should my Author Page be a ‘like’ page or a ‘request’ page? I know that I prefer to ‘request’ friendship rather than just ‘like’ someone.


So what are your preferences? What do you prefer to do? ‘Like’ or ‘Request’?  You’re comments will decide what I will be doing this weekend so please don’t be shy in airing your opinions 😀

Psst – I am going to run this poll on my FB page, too.


You can also find me onFacebookTwitter, Google+ and Linkedin

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Some people read the book first, others saw the movie first. I belong to the latter club.

Some people are Team Edward, some are Team Jacob. I am Team Bella’s Dad.

The phenomenon surrounding this story is almost as big as Harry Potter….almost.

So, why is this? The movie adaptation clearly helped Meyer buy herself an extra house or two. But, is the story really strong enough to warrant my mate getting herself an Edward Cullen lunch box?

I have already admitted to watching the movie first. And for the first half (and majority of the second), I wondered when the story was going to get a much needed shot of adrenaline. Where was the excitement? This was a vampire film after all. But, even after saying all this, I still sort of enjoyed it. Once I knew it wasn’t an ‘action’ type film, I watched it a second time for what it was….Basically, a bad romance.

Still, is it romantic enough to be one of the biggest hits of 2005 and then again in 2008? It’s not exactly Pride and Prejudice or Brief Encounter.

Is it that women (I wish I could say teenagers, but seeing as most my friends are lusting after these characters, I really can’t), are obsessed with the idea that loving a vampire is sexy? Or, is it just an unhealthy obsession with Taylor Lautner’s six pack and Robert Pattison’s…..er, what does he have?

So, armed with all this information, and while waiting for my flight at LAX, I took the plunge and purchased the paperback version. I’m ashamed to admit, I’d read half of it by the time I touched down at Heathrow, and finished it the following day.

Now, I am not a reader of young adult. I am 40 years old and prefer characters my own age – or a least a little closer to it. That’s not to say I don’t like young adult stories. I just sometimes think writers forget the kids are supposed to be teens, and as such let them run around like adults (not mentioning any names **cough cough** Vampire Diaries).

So, what’s this book about?

if you didn’t already know. Even my mum knows what this story is about. But, for the one person who’s been stranded inEureka for the past eight years, let me explain.

Twilight is a romance about a ‘human’ girl called Bella, who falls in love with a, more white than sparkly, vampire called Edward. And, wouldn’t you just know it? Her life becomes endangered; although it takes until the end of the film to get to this issue.

So, what kept me interested?

Honestly? I am still trying to figure that out. This story has been done a thousand times before, and much, much better. Let’s see, for one there was Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Angel sent hearts fluttering across the nation. Mine, though, belonged to Spike, and, umm, Giles 🙂

And, I don’t believe for one minute Stephanie Meyer’s inspirational story of I dreamt of two people one night and when I woke up I just had to start writing to see who they were. If there is any truth to that statement, you can paint me blue and call me Smurfette.

And……., even though I am NOT a fan of the Vampire Diary books, I do feel sorry for their author L J Smith. Twilight is a complete rip off!

And……., Stephanie is so repetitive; I kept thinking she’d started the novel again.

And……., Bella is horrid! What kind of protagonist is she? There is nothing endearing about her at all. She is the biggest wimp ever! I mean, how many times can a girl faint for crying out loud? No wonder Hollywood toughened her up a little for the movie….albeit into the nastiest bitch going. Still, anything has to be an improvement, right?

Would I read another Stephanie Meyer book?

After much deliberation, which took all of a split second, I would have to say ‘no’. After I finished the Twilight novel it was ‘yes’, as I read the whole series. However, now it is ‘no’. In fact it is ‘HELL NO!’ I’ve only read the book once and have no desire to read it again. I’d rather watch the film for a couple of hours and then get on with life again. And, I’d only watch the film again if I’d already finished polishing the coal in my fireplace.

I don’t actually think Meyer is a particularly strong writer. When I reflect on Twilight, I don’t see the characters as very strong. The Twilight franchise went on two books too long, three if you count the Edward version. There was an Edward version, wasn’t there? I didn’t dream that. Or did I? And, I’m certain that if you cut all the repetition, you’d have a novel three quarters the size.

Rant over!

Now, I know I’m going to be hung, drawn, and quartered, but I have to ask….

Have you read this book? What did you think of it? Have you read any other Stephanie Meyer novels? Have you seen the movie version? Let me know.

You can also find me on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Linkedin

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This week has not been a good week. My writing has been slow, I’ve had a character stuck in her kitchen for more than five days, and I’ve been on the brink of loosing my mind. So this weekend, instead of doing some gardening like I intended, I locked myself in my office and declared all out war on Chapter Four.

It paid off. My character left her kitchen, I finished chapter four, and my sanity (or what’s left of it) remains intact. 

On Saturday, I was furiously typing away on my keyboard when there was a knock at the window. Nothing wrong with that, I hear you say. Well you’d be right, if my office wasn’t on the second floor. 

I peered over my desk and looked down into the garden. There was my husband, giggling his little tush off and holding a long stick with a gardening glove hooked on top of it. The saying ‘small things amuse small minds’ really does have a place in our household, and as I remarked on Facebook later….I married it. 

But as I watch my hubby waving the stick around, I thought of something which happened a few years back.

My husband hates anything paranormal. He screamed like a girl when he watched ‘White Noise’ and ‘The Grudge’, and when I pull my hair over my face and imitate the woman from ‘The Ring’, he hides under the duvet, refuses to look at me, and won’t come out until I promise to stop doing it……which, of course, I don’t 🙂 

Well, with this in mind, I thought it would be funny to spend the night in a haunted hotel. I found a small guest house in Kent and for a laugh, invited my parents along too.

Hubby wasn’t so keen, but with the promise of hitting the local pub when we arrived, he agreed, and off we set. Three hours later, and staying true to family tradition, we were totally lost and didn’t arrive at the guest house until late.

The receptionist swiftly led us across the grounds to the old, and supposedly haunted, Oast house. Now there are times in a marriage when your partner gives you joy – and, as I looked at the fear in my husband’s eyes while he contemplated spending the night in a place so desolate, I knew this was one of those times.

Having missed dinner, and knowing we wouldn’t make last orders at the pub, we decided to turn in for the night. My parents were quick to apprehend the bedroom across the landing, leaving my hubby and I with the room at the top of the stairs.

With every creak that sounded, my husband gasped and shook me awake. He was convinced there was a ghost in the room. An hour later, there was a scratching at the door. My husband was on the verge of a heart attack and I was sure, if I’d switched on the light, I’d have seen that his hair had turned white.

“There’s something outside the door,” he whispered.
“Well go and let it in then.”
He was quiet for a while. Then the scratching sounded again.
“You go,” he begged.
I declined.

This went on for twenty minutes. Eventually, he got out of bed and tiptoed to the door. His trembling fingers twisted the doorknob. He opened the door no more than an inch, and peered out. There was nothing there. He closed the door and immediately something scratched against the door again. He shot towards the bed faster than a bullet from the barrel of a gun.

The scratching continued. He couldn’t sleep and, with tears in his eyes, he went back to the door. Again, he opened it a couple of inches and peered out. And as before, he found nothing outside. Slowly he closed the door. The scratching sounded and he yanked the door open. There was nothing there. He bravely popped his head out. To the right, an empty stairwell led down to the small hallway and lounge. To the left was a window, and in front of him was the vacant landing which led to my parent’s room.

He quickly shut the door and ran back to the bed. “There’s something out there,” he said. “You can get out next time.”

The scratching noise went on for the next half hour. My husband lay rigid in bed all night, too frightened to move.

I waited a few weeks before I admitted the scratching noise was my dad. He’d found a broom, lay it on the stairs, and hid downstairs just inside the lounge. All he had to do was reach out and wiggle the broom to scratch our door.

So, do you have any tricks, ghostly or not, that you’ve played on people, or that have bee played on you? Do you even believe in ghosts or stayed in a haunted house? Did anything happen? Let me know in the comments box.

You can ‘like’ my Facebook page. Add me on Google+. Follow me on Twitter.

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Like most of you, I like to read. Unfortunately, and probably unlike most of you, I am a very slow reader. With this in mind, I thought reviewing books would fit nicely into my two blog’s a month schedule 😀

My debut book has to be Kristen Lamb’s ‘We Are Not Alone’: The Writers Guide to Social Media. Why this book? Well, for one, I know Kristen and if it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t be blogging now. As for the other reasons? Take your pick. Kristen is fast becoming the Queen of Social Media. She has been an invaluable mentor to me, and heck, she’s just an awesome gal. And if that isn’t reason enough, ‘We Are Not Alone’ is a best seller.

A year ago, if anyone other than Kristen had told me to read a social media book, I would have told them to get on their bike and keep pedalling until they reached the Sahara Dessert. I was a Facebooker. I Facebooked with friends. What did I need social media for? I’d tried Twitter and, although I’d met a few great tweeps, I didn’t really ‘get’ it. Then I read Kristen’s book and it transformed the way I look a social media.

So, what is this book about?

Well, for starters, it will teach you the importance of branding yourself. I’m not talking about taking a branding iron and burning your initials into your butt. I’m talking about the ‘YOU’ brand. Your name, as a writer, is your greatest weapon. I didn’t understand that at first. I can’t even remember what my first twitter name was. Something stupid for sure, unlike the DonnaNewtonUK I have now.

Secondly, Kristen goes on to explain what Social Media is, and how we can use it to our advantage. Take Twitter and Facebook. I have transformed both of these so they are working for me now. I still have my personal Facebook page. But now, I also have a writer’s page (www.facebook.com/donnanewtonuk). Who would have thought a year ago I would have built platforms?

And, further still, you will become a blogger like me. I know, how clever do I feel. 😀

Kristen will walk you, step by step, through the WordPress set up. She’ll show you the importance of Bio’s, what a # (hashtag) is, the advantages and disadvantages of having a pen name. Everything you never thought you’d ever need to know is in this book.

Kristen injects such a style and sense of humour that you’ll read it totally unaware you are actually learning something. What’s more important, you can read it without the aid of a dictionary.

Kristen also has a fantastic blog in which she further strives to help people like me understand the world of social medial.

My advice? Whether you are published or unpublished, you should definitely read this book.

Have you read this book? Let me know what you thought of it? Did it, like me, help you tackle the world of social media?

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I thought I’d have a bit of fun and set you guys a little task. Now, I am not the best query letter writer. No really, I’m not being modest. I really hate writing them.

Below, I have swallowed what little pride I have, and copied an old query letter of mine. Now, your task is to read it:

Donna Newton
1 Writers Lane

Mobile: 01234567891

5th July 2011

Agent 007
Their Office
Agent Lane

Dear Mr Agent,

Re: Legend – The Messiah’s Cross

The Legend is a supernatural story set around two Reapers in a small Texan town. The idea was created for TV, and the pilot was written for the American market. Earlier this year I went to L.A., where my manager also suggested I adapt it into a novel.

I have been writing for many years and my previous publishing credits are all article based within the UK magazine market. I am a member of the Romance Writers of America and belong to Kristen Lamb’s Warrior Writers Boot Camp. I spent many years with Essex Police, where a large majority of my ideas are born. I have written one other novel, and am ready to start my third.

I have enclosed a synopsis and three chapters as requested in your guidelines.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely,

Donna Newton


Okay, read it? Good.

An author friend of mine, Linda Regan, severely chastised me for writing this letter. I want you to see if you can tell me why. Put your comments in the – you’ve guessed it – comments box, and I will publish the corrected version in a couple of days.

Have fun, and be kind to me.

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I used to wonder if there was a correct path I had to follow to become a successful writer.

I’m sure that isn’t unusual. After all, haven’t you all wondered the same at some point or another? And, wouldn’t you also admit to having listened to many writers tell their story in the hope of finding the answer?

Let’s take J K Rowling. Every writer knows that story; the woman who invented ‘Harry Potter’ on a delayed train from Manchester to London. In 1993 she was a single parent living on benefits. In March 2010 she was listed in Forbes as the 12th richest woman in Britain with a fortune of £560 million ($798 million).

Okay, so I have taken the most extravagant of examples, but was her path an easy one? ‘Hell no!’ (I bet she’d use those exact words if you asked her :D).

She was turned down by nearly every major publishing house until finally being accepted by an editor who worked for a then not-so-well-known Bloomsbury.

Or, what about Stephanie Meyer? She apparently had a dream and wrote a book called Twilight’, solely for her own entertainment. On her sister’s insistance, and ignoring every submission guideline known to man, she sent her manuscript to fifteen agents. Bagged one, and sat back to let the publishing auction commence. In 2010, Forbes ranked her as the 59th most powerful celebrity with annual earnings of $40 million. No wonder her husband has quit his job.

For any writer whose just starting out, it seems there are certain rules one must follow. Those rules are:

1)      Write a book. This is self-explanatory, and if I have to explain it further then you really should think of a career change.
2)      Find an agent. Some argue this. I personally think (if you find the right one) they are worth their weight in gold.
3)      Send your agent a query, synopsis, or even a chapter or two.
4)      Your super agent will have your book published within months.
5)      Count your millions as they roll in.

Okay, so there are a few holes in 5 and 6 but, in essence, these are the rules we, as writers, are told to follow.

So what is the reality?

Honestly? I think it’s a lot to do with luck. Of course you have to be able to write, although I’ve read a few books and asked myself the question ‘how the @%$*?’

But how many of you out there have found an agent via a chance meeting, word of mouth, being in the right place at the right time, or just by holding your breath and taking that brave leap of faith?

The pathway to success is a maze. There are twists and turns and lots of dead ends. We get scratched by overgrown hedges, worn out from all the walking and if we fall we get totally mud splattered. However, if you perceivere and you’re carrying with you a good idea that’s even 75% well written, I really believe you will conquer that maze and exit into publishing madness.

My current story? The novel I’m working on at the moment is an adaptation of a script I wrote with fellow writer Natalie Duggan. We were asked over to LA where I was told ‘get it written as a novel’. Two days later I was at the DFW writers convention pitching it to an agent. I was nervous, unprepared, had no chapters, no synopsis….nothing. But, he liked it and requested I send him the first few chapters once I’d drafted them. Was this down to talent? Maybe a little. After all,the LA trip was based on a pilot we’d written. Was this down to luck? Again, probably. The script had been sent to our lawyer who read it just as our manager telephoned regarding an unrelated matter, and just happened to mention she was looking for new writers. Hell, maybe it was just good old fashioned Fate stepping in.

It certainly helped that this agent had worked with our manager before. It certainly helped that I had the ‘TV pilot’ angle to ‘glitter and dazzle’ the pitch. Hell, it helped that the agent didn’t seem to mind the complete unprofessionalism of pitching a book I hadn’t even started to write!

I was told by author, Linda Regan, that a big part of being accepted by an agent is YOU. If you are interesting, then you are half way there.

Now – This is my favorite part of blogging. I love reading your comments and stories….. So, I want to hear your stories – good, bad or just downright cringeworthy. You tell me the things you have done to try and win the heart of an agent or publisher – no matter how embarrassing – and the success stories involving luck, fate and a sprinkle of bravery.

(Like my Facebook page and join myself and other writers for a natter – to my American friends, that means ‘chat’.)

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