We're now offering professional cover design

Today we're rolling out a new premium service for cover design. Over the past few months we've been collecting feedback from our (rad) community and we heard you asking for access to professional designers (and editors — but more about that to come).

Even though our books are online, and we're constantly being told to not 'judge a book by its cover', readers really do judge books by their covers. A professional cover goes a long way to making your published book stand out, not just on Tablo, but also on Amazon and Apple.

A Tablo designer will craft the perfect cover for your story. Share your book's synopsis along with the key message you'd like your cover to portray, and we'll prep two covers for you to choose from. You can even request tweaks and changes until we land on the perfect cover :).

We have real designers working on your cover, so we're sure you'll be blown away by the results. Cover design is being rolled out at $129 USD with free tweaks and a full money back guarantee if you're not happy with the final product.

Jump over to our cover design form and get started now. 

 

Interview with Peter Miranda: our first flash fiction competition winner.

A little while ago we held our first ever flash fiction competition. We had hundreds and hundreds of super rad flash fiction pieces, all 500 words or fewer, entered under eight different prompts. (To read all the other pieces head to the Prompts page.) 

Come cut-off time, there emerged a clear winner: Peter Gabriel Miranda with his flash fiction piece, My Indonesian Girl! Peter's story fell under the prompt: “A relationship is developing between two people, but they speak a different language.” He managed to get 184 likes, from a total of 675 reads.

We had a little chat with Peter to find out how he started writing, why he loves it and what some of his strategies are for gaining more readers.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

Peter Gabriel Miranda

Peter Gabriel Miranda

I am 23 years old, and currently reside in Sta. Rosa City, Laguna, in the Philippines, where I work as a Customer Service Associate for a BPO company. I am a member/writer of Lapis Sa Kalye (LSK), a literary collective with aims to promote and showcase Filipino literature, by organising poetry nights and distributing mini-magazines. I am currently studying a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science at a California-based university.

How long have you been writing?

I’ve been writing for many years already (although, I recently had took a hiatus from writing for about three years and tried my luck in other fields). The funny thing about this is how I started writing, which is thanks to a close friend of mine at the time. I accidentally read a collection of his own poems written in his notebook and I was amazed, which drove me to write my own too. But, my love for writing didn’t stop there. Days later, I also began writing stories. I enjoyed the thrill of doing something that would lead to bigger opportunities - such as being a feature writer of my high school’s English newspaper and being dubbed the 'Campus Poet' of our school. I really think that if I hadn’t accidentally read my friend’s notebook, I wouldn't be here writing.

What's your favourite genre?

Sci-Fi (Science Fiction)! For me, this genre is so challenging - yet it's also a lot of fun to write. Writing Sci-Fi requires extra thought for a writer’s mind. And living in a place where only a few people write Sci-Fi, makes writing in this genre a challenge in itself.

How did you get so many likes on your story? Do you have any strategies that you could share with our authors?

I shared the link to my story on my social media accounts and I also sent private messages to a lot of my friends. While I didn’t expect too many positive responses, I was hoping that some of our conversations would end up with them liking my entry, knowing that a good percentage of my friends on Facebook were into literature. I also asked my close friends to share my story to their own circle of friends, because I believe that the wider the sharing, the more likes you can gain.

Peter's cover

Peter's cover

A few tips I have for other writers to improve their engagement: First, you should focus on your title. I believe there’s a 90% chance that people will at least click on your story if the title raises some thoughts for them. It doesn't need to be that catchy, but it should at least be something unusual or intriguing. (I think the title of my entry was a big help since it gave people a connection to someone abroad.) Second, it’s the content. I believe that effectiveness in delivery is way better than a good plot (although it would be a plus to have both). Why? Because it’s the thing that holds the readers to your story, your style in narrating or expressing the thoughts shows the strengths of the author; that’s the most apparent element seen and appreciated by the audience.

What is your favourite thing about writing?

Writing opens connections and unlocks new worlds. You will meet new friends with whom you can learn a lot: writing styles, writing perspectives, and ideas and concepts. Also, writing can also be a haven of your emotions; it is where you can express yourself freely and with no limitations. 

Who is your favourite author? And what are you reading at the moment?

My favourite author is Bob Ong, the best-selling unknown author of many humorous books in the Philippines. I like how he effectively uses conversational language in his books, while giving the readers scenarios of life they can relate to, or learn lessons from. His imagery and creativity is really that awesome. In his book Ang Paboritong Libro Ni Hudas (The Favourite Book of Judas), he uses a strong literary style to draw readers inside the book, which stays with them even after the last page.

I am currently reading NetGameSaga.ph Stage 01, a digital novel written by ShiningHatsya. It is a virtual reality game fiction, like the anime series Sword Art Online and the .hack// series. The story follows a gamer that's almost given up, but then, after shifting to another game, he rediscovers his enthusiasm again.

What are you going to do with the $500 prize money?

I will use it to pay my school fees for the first term in this academic year, which starts in September. I'll keep the rest as savings.

Thank you again to Tablo for giving me this opportunity to share my story with other authors!

This interview was conducted via email and lightly edited by Laura.

Latest news from Tablo: Writing Prompts, Editor's Choice and a brand new iOS writing app.

Over the past few months we've been working super hard to bring you all an even more awesome writing and reading experience on Tablo. We've been ploughing through your feedback, testing and re-testing features and have had many a productive brainstorm session. (Read: alcohol fuelled discussions.)

We've starting rolling out the first of our new features (with plenty more to come). Here's a short overview of what we've added recently.

Writing Prompts

Over the past six months we've been tweeting writing prompts, to great success. We love reading all of our followers' Twitter stories - they're usually twelve or six word stories - and we're constantly impressed by how witty our authors are. Some of the stories tug our heartstrings, some make us stop and think and others make us laugh out loud. 

We've decided to make this a permanent feature of the site, so we added a section specifically for writing prompts to the Bookshelf. You'll find the feature under the search box on the right side column of the page. 

We hope you'll be able to find inspiration in these prompts; we want them to not only be fun but to also challenge your writing. We'll be posting a few different prompts a week, so if this first one doesn't tickle your fancy, you shouldn't have to wait too long for one that does.

Keen on this prompt and want to start a story? Head to the Writing Room now. 

Editor's Choice

At the start of every week, I update the Editor's Choice section on your Bookshelf with my latest must-reads on the site. I spend a lot of time on the site, and on our reading app, trawling through books to find my favourites. The stories I pick are from a variety of genres - some of them are already well-known among our community, and others will be super fresh

You can find the Editor's Choice stories listed under the Writing Prompts section, on the right-hand column of your Bookshelf. 

Want more chance of being featured as an Editor's Choice? A well designed cover image and a description that leaves your reader wanting more are both great ways to grab attention.

I regularly post status updates about my latest reads on the site, so, if you aren't already, follow me on Tablo.

iOS Writing App for mobile

You may already have the Tablo Reader app we released awhile ago now - available on iOS and Android - but you told us it wasn't enough. What you really wanted was a streamlined writing and reading experience, all bundled into one great app.

We really love hearing how we can do better, and how we can give our community what they need to make their lives better. So, we've been working hard on creating a new app that combines the best of reading and writing in one awesome package. 

Our development team has been toiling over the iOS app for the last few months, and we're pretty excited to (almost!) share it with you. It's scheduled for an official release over the next month or so. We've loved designing and developing it, and we just know you're going to love it, too.

Keep an eye on TwitterFacebook and your email inbox for official launch information. 

Laura 

 

Why is it that writers write and painters paint, but fingers don't fing?

We can't take credit for this - but we love it way too much to not share it. We couldn't find a source for the original text, but we grabbed this one from here. If you know where this originated from please let us know. 

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * 
 

You think English is easy??

1) The bandage was wound around his leg to cover his wound.
2) The wind was too strong to wind the sail.
3) The dump was full, and had to refuse further refuse.
4) We must polish the Polish furniture.
5) He could lead if he would get the lead out.
6) The soldier decided to desert his dessert in the desert.
7) "No time like the present," he said.  "It's time to present her the present."
8) A large-mouthed bass was painted on the head of the bass drum.
9) Startled, the dove dove into the bushes.
10) I did not object to the object.
11) The insurance on the invalid was invalid.
12) There was a row among the oarsmen about who could row the best.
13) We were too close to the door to close it.
14) When does are near, a buck does funny things.
15) Not watching their steps, a seamstress and a sewer fell into a sewer.
16) On her farm, a woman worked to produce produce.
17) She wanted to sow, but her sow ate the grain; so she chose to sew.
18) Next, she hitched her cow to a plough to make a trough.
19) Then she decided to combine her combines.
20) That evening, she told her beau to go slow.
21) But she shed a tear when she saw the tear in her dress.
22) I had to subject the subject to a test.
23) How can I intimate this to my most intimate friend?
24) It might be wise to bow to a man with a bow.
25) John had to write to the right people to keep his rights during his rites.
26) The ewe with the flu knew who was due to get you through to the gnu with the number-two shoe, too!

Let's face it, English is a crazy language.  There is no egg in eggplant, nor ham in hamburger; neither apples nor pine are in pineapple. English muffins aren't English, nor are French fries French.  Sweetmeats are candies, while sweetbreads—which aren't sweet—are meat.  We take English for granted, but if we explore some of its paradoxes, we find that quicksand is slow, boxing rings are square, and a guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor a pig!

Why is it that writers write and painters paint, but fingers don't fing?  Why don't grocers groce, why don't hammers ham, and why don't dumpsters dumpst?

If the plural of tooth is teeth, shouldn't the plural of booth be beeth?  One goose, two geese.  So—one moose, two meese? One mouse, two mice, means one house, two hice?  And one index, two indices?  If you have more than one ibex, why don't you have ibices?  Doesn't it seem crazy that you can make amends but you can't make just a single amend?  If you throw out some odds and ends, but keep one item, is it an odd or an end?  Which one is right to have left?

If teachers have taught, why haven't preachers praught?  If a vegetarian eats vegetables, then what does a humanitarian eat?  Sometimes I think all the English speakers should be committed to an asylum for the verbally insane.  In what kind of language do people recite at a play and play at a recital?  Must we ship by transport and transport by ship?  Who else has noses that run and feet that smell?

How can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same, while a wise man and a wise guy are opposites?  You have to marvel at the unique lunacy of a language in which your house can burn up while it's burning down, forms are filled out by being filled in, and an alarm that's gone off is still going on.

English is a world where a woodcarvers magazine editor might add ads for adzes, and a chemist might use a vile vial.  People can sit on a bough, though, and cough through the night as they re-read a red book to say they re-read it, and whomever finishes first has won one!

Why had the cops sought the sot?  The photographers knot all fought for the shot—and not just for naught.  Does the fuzz think there was proof of blood on a wood floor?  And what was that word that occurred by the bird turd?

At the height of their leisure, neither had the sleight to seize the feisty weird sovereign poltergeist, so they had to forfeit the foreign heifer's counterfeit protein.    [With apologies to "i before e"......]

English was invented by people, not by computers, and it reflects the creativity of the human race—which of course is not a race at all.  That is why, when the stars are out, they are visible, but when the lights are out, they are invisible.

But please—could someone explain why "Buick" doesn't rhyme with "quick"?

 

The best and worst new words of 2014

"I totes thought that dude was, like, totally rad. My bad bae, I didn’t mean to make it awks but like YOLO, right? I’ll unfriend him on facey and stop liking his insty posts. Soz, I’m tires, let’s talk tomoz? Yah? Amaze.”

Does that paragraph make you cringe? Sometimes it feels like the English language is falling apart.

As somewhat of a traditionalist I refused to use abbreviations for many, many years. Because of this it took me a long time to recognise any of the words of my generation.

Now, a little older and a lot less strict, some have worked their way in. I’ve had to alter my whole stance on the language evolution issue. Instead of discarding all new words I've come to seriously embrace a few. Who can claim to be a word nerd if you don’t nerd out on the beauty of our changing language?

Since it's almost the end of 2014, here's a few of the best and worst new words. Because who doesn't love a 'This Year in Review' post?

Some of the best

Soz

Possibly the best word ever invented. Soz is the much less serious and far more fun-loving, flippant version of sorry. It’s a way to apologise while still making light of a situation. It just sounds so good rolling off the tongue.

For example: “I couldn’t make it last night because I was washing my hair. Soz!”

Amaze

This isn’t a new word at all, but the way it’s used has changed in recent years. Instead of saying: "That burrito looks amazing", you can now use fewer syllables and get to eating your burrito faster (after you’ve taken a photo for insty).

For example: “I can’t get over how amaze the latest ep of The Walking Dead was.”

Tomoz

It’s becoming clear that I really like the letter Z. It’s all about the zeeee sound. Tomoz is short for tomorrow. Because shorter is always better, obvs. Tomoz sounds like a dodgy pharmaceutical drug company name, but in a good way.

..and some of the worst

YOLO

This wins worst word easily. Hands down. YOLO (You Only Live Once) was recently added to Oxford Dictionaries - the online (and much less strict) version of the Oxford Dictionary. Also famous for legitimising selfie and duck face.

I just can’t get onboard with this one. Firstly, it’s not even a word. It’s an acronym. Secondly, it's pointless. Of course you only live once. I don’t think this warrants a reminder.

Bae

A term of endearment. Similar to girlfriend/boyfriend or babe. I noticed this working its way into my friends' vocabulary and social media over the past year.

Jel

To be jealous of something. Should never be used in the place of jelly. Jel was also added to Oxford Dictionaries this year although apparently originates from the 90s.

For example: "I’m well jel of your new Converse shoes".

Bonus (not taking sides with these ones)

Jelly: to be jealous. For example: "I got a pug dog today!" "Oh man! I'm so jelly!"
Insty: A.K.A. Instagram. A photo-sharing social media app
Yom: to think something is yum or yummy. Simply delicious. Origin: unknown. Circa 2008.
Obvs: short for obviously.

I totes want to hear your best and worst new words from 2014. Comment below.

***Disclaimer: I am usually a very sensible writer. Promise. My spell-check and Grammarly are having a heart attack right now. Soz!

Four Creative Ways To Beat Writer's Block

Writer’s block is not fun. It sucks. With the NaNoWriMo deadline swiftly approaching maybe you’ve been staring at a blank screen for the past few hours, silently cursing the cursor and desperately trying to squeeze out more ideas. Any ideas.

On the other hand, you may have plenty of ideas but they’re all terrible so you're sitting paralysed with indecision at your desk with no idea who your characters are or what to write for your next chapter.

Anyway. Whichever your scenario, none involve the process of actual writing. Since I’m somewhat of an expert (see completed and published article for your eyes here as proof) here are my top tips for beating writer’s block.

1. Take a walk outside

If you’re struggling to come up with any ideas and you’ve been sitting around moping at home, get outside. Walk down the road. Get a coffee. Lie in the grass at the park with your favourite artist blaring from your headphones. Put your face to the ground and watch the tiny ants running around on the tall blades of grass.

The best ideas will come to you while your brain is stimulated. Nature is freaking amazing and beautiful. Unless you live in Australia (like me). Then you should be careful. Those ants bite.

2. Brainstorm with a friend over drinks

Call up a friend and invite them over. Open a bottle of red wine or whiskey (if you’re of legal drinking age, of course) and throw some ideas at them. This may seem counter-productive to the act of writing, but trust me: there’s a reason Don Draper loves a whiskey old-fashioned.

Alcohol actually decreases your working memory, which in turn allows you to dedicate more brainpower to making creative connections. Lifehacker wrote a great article on this here: Why You Should Drink Beer For Big Ideas, Coffee To Get Them Done. It's all very scientific of course. Once the hangover has lifted, flesh out those ideas.

3. Try free writing

Grab a timer, a pen and paper. Yes. A pen and paper - we’re going old-school here. Pick a topic - preferably something related to your novel/essay/general idea - set your timer for five minutes. And then… write. Write without stopping. Write whatever comes to mind. The key here is to continue until the timer goes off. Don’t worry about mistakes. Don’t worry about punctuation. If you run out of things to write, repeat the same word and phrase over again until something else comes to mind.

If you’re trying to generate an idea don’t bother picking a topic, just go with the flow. Once the timer runs out, go back and read through what you’ve written. Circle or underline anything that jumps out. Then run with it.

4. Write every damn day

Even if it’s crap. Even if it doesn’t make sense. Just write. Start a Tablo account and let those words flow free. It doesn’t need to be great. It doesn’t need to be ground-breaking. Just write something. Anything. Anything at all. 

If you’re afraid of ruining your professional reputation, write under a pseudonym. Or keep it private. But commit to writing something every day. The only thing that makes you a writer is the act of writing. Don’t ever stop. 

 

We're extending our publishing competition to include books published in December

So far in November authors have published 20 million words on Tablo, and readers have spent nearly half a million minutes discovering new and emerging books.

We've also received hundreds of requests from authors who want a little more time to edit and refine their NaNo novels before sharing them with readers. We've heard your requests, so today we're extending our publishing competition to include books published on Tablo in December :)

Early in January we'll be selecting the 5 most promising books on Tablo, based on their reads, likes and overall engagement, and handing them directly to Momentum for a full review.

Remember, you don't need to publish your full book to Tablo. Most authors use Tablo to publish chapter-by-chapter, so you're welcome to publish your opening chapters or a teaser of your book and still be eligible for the campaign.

Hopefully this helps, and happy writing!

Ash