The Collaborative Writing Challenge

Laura Callender shares an article telling you all about the Collaborative Writing Challenge, yet another platform dedicated to helping authors succeed. Scattered throughout this post are images of the four collaborations they have published. Can you accept this challenge?

Introduction

CWC (Collaborative Writing Challenge) stemmed from an idea I had over ten years ago. As a young, struggling writer in numerous writing groups, I felt that becoming published was an impossible dream. I wasn’t yet ready to write a full novel, always fighting to get past the third chapter where a more comprehensive knowledge of structural writing was required. All the feedback I received on the content was great, I just felt weighed down by the size of the story as it grew. I lacked vital experience I needed to move forward, so although I could write a great chapter, I couldn’t finish a novel.
CWC gives writers the opportunity to become published without having to write the whole story alone. They also get to write independently, without having to navigate many different opinions, which is usually a big complication with collaborative work.
Since starting CWC, I personally learned how to structure a story idea, how to build notes, and how to summarize chapters so I can move around the story with more ease. I’m still a ways off from completing my own novel, as CWC has absorbed most of my free time, but I now have a full outline and am ready to start fleshing out my story. By providing writers with all the tools they needed to write a chapter, I inadvertently taught myself how to approach a novel.

What is the CWC?

I like to describe our projects as the ultimate writing prompt. Rather than being prompted to write a short, independent piece by a title or phrase, we prompt our writers to continue our story chapter by chapter and develop the characters while still having the freedom to add their own interpretation of the story. If their chapter gets chosen, they also have the satisfaction of holding a copy of the published book in their hands. That in itself is hugely inspiring to writers of all levels. It gives them that extra boost to know that they are part of something wonderful, and I’m told it gives them the drive they needed to complete their own work. I have also been toying with the idea of turning our process into an academic credit. We believe a scaled-down version for children could bring out a passion for writing in many kids, if it’s handled in a fun, exciting way.
It took me ten years to find that eureka moment and finally figure out a way to organize the project. Then, in just a matter of days, I had found 25 writers willing to take part from nothing more than an email invite. At that stage, I had no website or online visibility, so I was incredibly humbled that these writers trusted me enough to get involved. The concept is really well-received, and the feedback is always fantastic, even for those writers whose chapters don’t get chosen.
I never expected the process to be as rewarding as it is and hadn’t put much thought into what would happen after the pilot project was finished. All the writers involved had such a great time, many asked when the next project would be starting. So I promptly set up our website and created standard documents and spreadsheets to manage the process more effectively. Three years later, we are soon to release CWC’s fifth novel ‘The Map’, and two more projects are currently underway.
Now we have an established system, with writers from all over the world and new writers finding us every day. We plan to keep up with the demand and really establish CWC within the writing community.

How does the CDC work?

Each week, up to five authors submit a 2500-word chapter, adding onto the previously written chapter, and the Story Coordinator choses the best fit. The book is built this way for 25 chapters. It’s important to the process that we have a set number of chapters so we can guide the story to a well-timed conclusion. Our Story Coordinator compiles extensive notes to which the writers have access, and this helps them jump right into the story. Summaries of each chapter help them catch up quickly rather than needing to review full chapters.
We are really pleased with how well the process works and have hardly tweaked anything since CWC launched. Once the project is finished, it goes through multiple rounds of editing with three or more people, including our own in-house editor. We put a lot of time and effort in on our end because we want to showcase what incredible things CWC writers are achieving. They blow us away each week with such imaginative and well thought-out chapters.
CWC is planning to register as a non-profit as soon as the time is right to help us gain access to necessary funding to help expand our reach. We want CWC to become another well-known writing organization, designed to challenge and inspire writers at any stage of their career.

How You Can Get Involved

We are on the lookout for a marketing intern to join our family to help us manage the promotion of multiple projects, novels, opportunities, events, and outreach. We will also be re-releasing ‘The Concierge’ this year, CWC’s pilot novel. It has now undergone a thorough edit, something we didn’t have the capacity for when the project was originally completed. We felt it was time to re-visit it and bring our pilot novel up to our current high standards. We can also exclusively reveal to you that our next project will be in the Romance genre. This will be our first foray into romance, and we are excited to see how our writers take on complex character development focusing on matters of the heart. That project will be CWC’s eighth novel, set to start around June 2017. For anyone interested in signing up for current or future projects, please visit www.collaborativewrtingchallenge.com, and of course, for anyone interested in reading one of our completed novels, you can find links to them on Amazon through our website. We would love to hear what you think.

The #CWC is designed to challenge & inspire #writers at any stage of their career. #amwriting… Click To Tweet

Laura Callender lives in the UK with her two young daughters, who rarely afford her time to write. She is the founder of CWC (Collaborative Writing Challenge) and spends a good chunk of time organising numerous ongoing writing collaborations. She also organises and publishes various anthologies, alongside working as a professional cover designer.

www.collaborativewritingchallenge.com
www.justpublishit.com
www.cwpublishinghouse.com

10 Online Writing Cool Tools You Cannot Miss in 2017

Every writer has a bag full of tools they use to make writing more effective. Some are used to check spelling and grammar, while others are used for inspirational reasons. We all can use a little bit of help to produce better work. For whatever reason, you can find so many great tools online to help you. The tools listed below are popular for a reason and might help you when you are in need.

No matter what area in your writing you need help with, we list the best tools for 2017.

  1. FocusWriter

We live in a world full of distractions, from our cellphones to our social media accounts. If you are struggling to switch off when you need to focus on writing a piece, FocusWriter is the way to go. FocusWriter helps eliminate distractions by hiding apps you select as well as customize the way your texts are displayed on your screen.

  1. CeltX

This free, online scriptwriting platform is great for solo writers and small teams. There is another popular script writing platform named Final Draft but it is more for bigger companies. It will be worth your while to give CeltX a go before investing your money on costly script writing software.

  1. Scribus

This desktop publishing application has been around since 2001. With passing time, Scribus seems to be becoming more and more popular. Scribus will help you with layout and preparing files for professional image-setting equipment. If the appearance of your work is just as important as your writing, this is one to try.

  1. yWriter

cool toolsThis tool is used by writers for its organizational features. If you are writing a novel, this program will organize your chapters and screens in an efficient manner. No more searching for a specific piece of paper. There are tabs to specify characters, pictures, notes, and others if needed.

  1. Plotbot

This program was designed by two film school graduates. Designed for screenwriters to chat with others and get opinions on their work. You will be able to run your plot by others and see what they think. If you get negative feedback, perhaps it’s time to change the plot.

  1. SpellCheckPlus

Every writer needs a spelling and grammar corrector. Grammar check online free programs are always available, but it is important to choose the right one. You can also find an apostrophe checker online. SpellCheckPlus is a great tool to do all of this. It is effective and gets it right more than others I’ve used.

  1. Mind42

This is one of my favorites. This mind mapping tool with brainstorming capabilities will make everything easier. You can use it to schedule events, make to do lists, and even share your mind maps with others.

  1. Tomboy

This is a note organizing tool that allows you to organize and format your work into different tabs. Every writer always has random ideas and needs somewhere to quickly write it down. With this tool you are able to enter the data and have it organize your ideas in an easy to navigate form.

  1. Imagination Prompt Generator

If you get in a creative rut like most writers do, this is a great way to exercise that part of your brain. This tool will give you half sentences and questions to help you boost through that writers block. I suggest using this tool often to stimulate those brain flows.

  1. LanguageTool

The importance of proofreading your work is often underestimated. With LanguageTool, you won’t have to physically do it yourself. The amazing part of this tool is that it works with over 20 languages and all versions of English. This tools claims to catch more errors than a regular spell checker so it’s worth trying out.

With all these tools in your writer’s toolbox, you will be equipped to do your best writing ever. Every writer has moment where they need some creativity or a really great spell checker. Trust me, you are not alone. We all need help, and the creators of these tools are usually people who needed these tools at some point. Now your life is made easier because there is a variety of useful programs out there.

10 tools to make #writing easier. #ourwriteside #writerslife #writingtips Click To Tweet

Melinda Harmon is a content manager and an amateur writer. She specializes on writing useful posts about writing, writing tools, and how to improve writing skills. Melinda dreams of publishing her own book and help people learn more about writing.

Guest Post: Fresh Starts and New Beginnings

Hello, gentle readers! As we begin a new year, I would like to wish each of you good health, happiness, personal and professional success, and peace. Let me begin by telling you that I don’t do resolutions. Sure, my intentions are always good. I plan to work out more, be more financially responsible, get involved in the community- and so forth; it just never seems to pan out. Maybe my failures stem from a lack of focus, or maybe I am merely a victim of circumstances. Either way, by the second week of January (every single year!) my resolve has flown south with the few remaining geese who have finally decided they need to get out of Dodge.

This year will be different. “But Eric,” you ask, “how are you going to defeat the winter doldrums, evade the time-sucking viral videos, and avoid the shiny offerings those evil, backyard squirrels so deviously taunt you with?” Your concern is completely valid, and honestly, I don’t know the answer- yet. What I can confidently, authoritatively, and vehemently state is that this year must be different. Last year brought me a list of heavy-duty health issues which very nearly ended my earthly journey. While some of these issues were beyond my control, my bad decisions and belief in my own invincibility most definitely contributed to the downward spiraling pool of quicksand that was my health.

Thankfully, I have a team of healthcare professionals (and a very patient and loving wife) who decided that I wasn’t beyond saving. With diet, exercise, and medicine changes, I am blessed to have a solid grip on the safety rope dragging new beginningme from the quicksand. I’ve had to change my bloated self-image as well. Admitting that you’re no longer, “ten feet tall and bulletproof” can be a pretty acidic and bitter pill to swallow, especially because somewhere deep inside the recesses of my mind, there’s still a 20- year- old me trying to claw his way out. But he’s a stupid kid who doesn’t yet possess the gift of hindsight, and instead chooses to rely on testosterone and bravado to justify his bad behavior. He’s kind of a jerk.

This year will be different. Maybe if I repeat this enough to make it my mantra, it will indeed happen. “Fake it ‘til you make it” might be truer than I’ve ever thought it could be. However, I recently had an epiphany. If I can keep myself healthy, I will have the opportunity to continue writing and teaching. I will have the chance to help a student achieve his or her dreams- showing that student that they are worthwhile and special, and that with hard work and dedication, anyone can overcome nearly any obstacle life throws in their way. After all, isn’t this need to educate, improve, and create something better the goal all writers share? It’s what we live for, despite the grinding day to day nuisances and issues we share. We are artists and thinkers, mentors and archivists. We are social warriors who see the world through uniquely wonderful and varied perspectives. It is our obligation to ourselves and each other to view each new day as a new beginning- another chance to develop a relationship, write a play, dance with our children, and advocate for peace and equality.

Take this year and run with the time you’ve been allotted. Do better and be better- not only for yourself, but for others as well.  It is my hope that each of you finds the strength and inspiration to acknowledge what wonderful gifts new beginnings hold for us.

Do better and be better. #writingadvice #writingtips #ourwriteside #amwriting Click To Tweet

How to Start A Successful Writing Career by Lisa Wheatly

Ask ten people whether they’d like to work on their own or have a full-time job, where bosses govern half of their day, and the requirements of the jobs are absolutely annoying. I’m talking about following a robot schedule: 9 to 5, each…and…every…day. Well, I guess that maybe 8 out of 10 would choose the first option, as it’s a much more convenient lifestyle choice.

Choosing a field that doesn’t necessarily require a college diploma or a field in which you can become a master just by using your self-made skills, well, that’s a smart decision. Writing, as a good example, is one of the most useful skills that we develop throughout our lives. In addition, professional writing is the most needed skill in today’s digital marketplace.

Most of the today’s online promotion strategies include an important element: content. If you’re a writer that can deliver valuable content, you’ll never have to work for a boss again! Everyone can write, but not everyone can make a living out of it. If you truly want to make writing something more than a hobby, I can assure you that it is truly possible.

Let’s talk about the most important skills that you must develop in order to even consider starting a writing career:

Skills

  1. Grammar and Spelling

writing styleAn efficient writer that monetizes his skills must have impeccable writing. When webmasters, blog owners, or certain magazines pay you good bucks for the content that you create for them, it’s obvious that they have a lot of readers. If the content grammar and spelling are crappy, their readers won’t be really happy, and neither the webmasters!

  1. Interesting and Unique Writing Style

Every writer has his own tone and style. Some writers are more aggressive, while some like to nurture the reader and use a milder approach. According to who you’re writing for, you must create a unique writing style and address your type of readers accordingly.

  1. Communication Skills

These skills will be definitely helpful for maintaining a healthy relationship with your clients. It’s often advised to constantly keep in touch with your employers or prospects. Start improving your social and communication skills and always be professional.

Every #writer has his own tone and style. #writingtips #writing #writerslife #ourwriteside Click To Tweet

Strategies

In case you’re motivated and you’re eager to set your feet in the water, we have prepared some good strategies that should help you progressively develop your future writing career:

  1. Start Fixing Your Biggest Gaps

Each and every person that has writing skills will also have certain gaps. For example, a writer that’s very good at organizing sentences or maybe is great at keeping the reader attentive may have grammar issues and spelling issues. Some writers have the problem with the time they spend writing.

Find your biggest skill gaps and start fixing them before attempting to start a professional career out of this. You can easily find resources that can explain how to get better at X or Y skill.

  1. Develop a Habit of Writing Every Day

Practice, practice, practice. If you follow this mindset, you are going to improve your skills big time! When people personally ask me how I started… I simply tell them that I began writing each day. Besides that, I’d also suggest finding a few authors and following them closely.

Read their articles with a critical eye. Don’t focus on the information; watch their style, see how they place words in their sentences and learn from them. Then, try to retain a little bit from each of them, and apply all the insights to your own style.

  1. Specialize and Niche Down Your Activity

job huntingLike in life, you have to choose a field of activity and specialize as much as you can. There are all types of writers nowadays: business writers, essay writers, magazine writers, technical writers, creative writers, and so on. Try to test more niches and see which one fits you best.

When you decide what type of writer you want to become, you’ll obviously guide your actions accordingly. You’ll learn all the necessary words in that specific field, and you’re most likely to come up with better performances.

  1. Start the Job Hunting Process

When your preparation is over, it’s time to start looking for jobs. Depending on what you chose to do: freelancing, ghostwriting, book writing, poem writing, or whatever you have chosen, you’ll have to find people that will need your services. There are many environments in which you can find writing opportunities.

You should check freelancing platforms such as Upwork or Freelancer, you can also use Craigslist or Fiverr, and you can basically search on Google for “writing services” or “writing jobs”. You can then contact certain content writing companies such as TopAussieWriters and apply for a writer position.

  1. Test, Feedback, Optimization, and Scaling

Like in business and marketing, everything’s a trial and error process. You’ll have to test many things in order to see which activities and writing jobs suit you best. Even if you have failed attempts, you should take them as a constructive feedback that will allow you to avoid future mistakes.

After analyzing the results, start creating better optimization strategies. The moment you find something that works great for you, the moment you should start optimizing that activity. Scale the number of hours that you work, scale the efficiency, the focus, and so on. I think you got my point.

There are many environments in which you can find #writing opportunities. #writingtips #freelance… Click To Tweet

Conclusion

A successful writing career doesn’t come easy. There are a lot of obstacles and setbacks along the way. It’s a learning process, in which if one commits, it’ll benefit him forever. When you reach a certain professional status, when you have a ton of experience and skill in a certain field, you’ll always be able to sustain yourself from it.

The internet’s not going anywhere, and neither is the content. We’ll always read words and consume information through text. Therefore, there’s always going to be a demand for your skills, and you can leverage it as you please. Good luck!

Christmas Ceasefire Finale: An OWS Round Robin

Four exciting parts precede this one, our finale in our holiday 5 part series brought to by the imaginations of Our Write Side staff. Elizabeth Abel, our digital media manager, wields her pen to bring this story to a close. What a phenomenal close it is!

Christmas Ceasefire Finale

There weren’t just boxes of red and green; there were plates filled with warm food and bottles of cold drinks left for both Sean and Kira. One special box labeled Sean sat front and center in the sea of packages. (From last week)

Kira opened her eyes and shot up into a sitting position. It took her a few seconds to realize she was in the Doomsday room with Sean lying beside her. She slid off the bed and sat on the floor, grabbed a box from under the tree and tore the green shiny paper off it. Opening the box, she pulled out a silver necklace. Hanging from the chain was a sculpted angel with outstretched wings, and the angel’s hands held a shimmering heart.

“What’s that you got there, Kira?”

“An angel,” Kira whispered, mesmerized by the scintillating glow of the angel.

Kira blinked her eyes as she heard Sean’s voice. “…for me?”

Snapping out of the trance, Kira turned to Sean. “What did you say?”

“Is there something over there for me?”

Kira grabbed the box with Sean’s name written on the gold Christmas tag. Handing it to him, she stepped back and watched as he tore away the shiny green and red Christmas paper. Sean reached into the box and pulled out a rolled up parchment scroll and untied the red ribbon. As the parchment paper unraveled, Sean’s face went white.

“What is it?”

“To end the war and bring back the Christmas cheer, you must imprison the emperor you all fear. The magic is in the souls of those who believe, and love and joy will come from the presents they receive.”

Sean’s eyes widened.

“What is it?”

“My name… my name is at the top of my family tree—Sean Kringle. My ancestor’s pictures are beside each name. Below my name is my dad’s. But that cannot be right. My last name is Cringle.”

Christmas Ceasefire FinaleKira stared at him and thought for a minute. It was starting to make sense. “Sean, I think it’s true.”

He shook his head and let the scroll fall onto the bed. “I can’t believe it.”

She sat down beside him. “All of it makes perfect sense. Us finding this place, the key, the food, the tree and the presents.” Kira placed her hand on his. “You’re the one creating all the magic. You can end the war. All we have to do is open the door and hand presents out to the people.”

“But that’s insane.”

“Can you explain what’s happening in this room?”

“No.”

“I believe you have a lot to do with it.”

“Really?” Sean stood up. “Okay. Let’s give it a shot.”

Kira jumped up and hugged him. The instant Sean wrapped his arms around her, Kira’s heart pounded and her body quivered with excitement.

“You make me feel like I can do anything,” Sean whispered in her ear and leaned back to look at her. Her heart thumped wildly against her chest, amplifying in her eardrums.

Sean’s blue eyes glowed with eagerness and exhilaration, pulling her soul into the depths of his eyes. She swallowed hard, but did not look away. The warmth of his touch spread across her cheek, then his lips were on hers. Every shred of doubt she ever had about them disappeared in a heated rush. Never had anything felt so right. He took her breath away, left her light-headed. When Sean pulled back, her legs went weak. Was it really love? Kira wondered. She wasn’t sure. She knew she’d cherish this moment for a lifetime.

“Should we open the doors and see if this plan of yours will work?”

Kira took a step back. If she was going to be useful, she needed to be as far away from Sean as possible.

“Let’s start with bringing the presents to the entrance.”

The minute she had said the words, the presents flew across the floor toward the doorway.

“Unbelievable,” Sean said.

“Yes, I agree.”

Kira released the door. The minute she did, the presents lifted, floated out the door, and landed on the ground in front of her. The tree with colorful lights, shiny round balls, and twinkling gold tinsel drifted past her. It grew tall and wide before landing. The presents shuffled along the ground around the tree. Then a radiant light people could see for miles and miles illuminated the tree and presents. Through the early morning fog, men, women, and children came toward them. The magic drew the people to the presents. Kira smiled as joy and excitement swept into their eyes. When Kira turned to look at Sean, her jaw hit the ground. Sean was wearing a red fur hat with a red fur jacket and red fur pants trimmed in white. His boots were black and shiny and his eyes twinkled. Something about Sean dressed this way made Kira beam with happiness.

Christmas Ceasefire“What is the meaning of this?” The voice boomed over the happy crowd.

It was the Supreme Emperor and his guards.

“It appears there is a holiday festival taking place here.” The Supreme Emperor waved his hand. “Cease them at once.”

Guards jumped down from their horses. But instead of gathering the people to bring to the dungeon to await execution, the guards went to the tree and grabbed a present.

“Guards, seize them at once.” The Supreme Emperor’s voice was so loud it thundered through the crowd.

But again the guards ignored his command.

“Sean this is your chance, have the guards take the Emperor to the dungeon.”

Sean nodded. “Guards seize the Emperor and take him to the prison tower for the crime of war waged without the justification for territorial gain and subjugation.”

Kira smiled as the guards pulled the Emperor down from his horse and placed him in shackles.

“From this day forward I decree: no man, woman, or child will be executed for openly celebrating any religious holiday.”

The crowd cheered at Sean’s words as the guards escorted the Emperor away.

It was said that Sean’s words that day had spread to other lands and the rulers of those lands decreed the same law. Every year, the people gathered around the same tree and received presents from Sean Cringle. Sean Cringle is known throughout the world today as Father Christmas. He spreads joy and cheer to all those who believe in the spirit of Christmas.

The End

 

How One Small Press Chooses Stories

Bushmead Press is a small indie publisher that produced the Monsters anthology our creative director, Stephanie Ayers, and one of our contributors, David Wiley, have stories featured in. When Tyler Omichinski proposed this guest post, we were all for it. Have an inside scoop on how one small press chooses the stories for its anthology. Buy their books, because… books, anthology, indie authors!

How One Small Press Chooses Stories

At Bushmead, we’ve focused on primarily putting together great anthologies. We have three out already, and are working on more. Each time we work on a project like this, we have to make tricky decisions on determining which short stories we’re going to accept, and which one’s we’re going to pass on. Trying to get short stories out there in the world, and trying to help them find homes, can be so tricky for a writer. In light of that, we’re going to go over some of the things that we look at to see if it helps.

The Opening

We take pride in making sure to read every single story that we receive from start to finish. A good hook at the beginning, a weaponized short story that pulls people in is integral to the success of the story. Even if we like the rest of the story, we know that the beginning is integral for catching readers. Just because we’re willing to make it to the end of the story, or it has an amazing ending,

When we really love a story, we’ll contact the writer about re-working the beginning. In our experience, these can be really effectively rewritten in some instances, while other times we have more difficulty determining how to do that. The tricky often is, as a result, ensuring that your hook at the beginning of the story is red hot.

Fitting the Theme

It is surprising how often we get stuck with stories that are good, or that we really like, that just don’t seem related to the theme of the piece that we’re working on. In these instances, we need to remember that no matter how good a specific story is, we’re putting together a larger project. When a single story is out of place and doesn’t hit the theme, it is going to be jarring and difficult for the reader. In those instances, we generally have to say no thanks. We try to tell people when the stories are good, but if you aren’t submitting a proper theme, then we’re in a tough position.

Making sure it’s Different

This is the trickiest one, and one of the weirdest things for a writer to try to figure out. Whenever a theme is put forward as an idea, it is going to cause a lot of similar ideas from many different authors. Stories that are too similar are going to be fairly common, and we simply can’t accept both. In those instances, we’re forced to just take one.

Remedying this one is tricky, and there’s a limit to what can be done regarding it. A writer can always simply write the best story that they know how to, and find a way to ask deeper questions. Taking the first idea that comes to your mind can undermine creating the best story that you can. Interpreting it and twisting it, changing it, and remixing it, can be integral to creating the best version of the story that you can do.

Homes for Short Stories

The trick for each story that you write is to try to find it the right home for the story. With the right home, hopefully it will find the right people to read it. Unfortunately, that’s often all writers and editors can do, throwing bottles out into the ocean and hoping for the best with them. So do that, keep these in mind, and throw the best bottles you can out there.

Throw the best bottles you can out there. #writingadvice #anthology #shortstory #ourwriteside Click To Tweet

– Bushmead Publishing

Bushmead Publishing is having a sale starting today and for the next few days. You can find the pieces here: https://www.amazon.ca/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=Bushmead+Publishing

And at www.omichinski.com/new-products/

 

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