How to make money by writing newsworthy anniversary articles

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Each month from now on we’re going to pick one of the anniversaries from our monthly listings (see last week’s post), see how many article ideas we can come up with, and think about where we might be able to sell them.

We’ll be discussing the anniversaries 6 months in advance, so you’ll have time to carry out further research and write the articles. If you need to work further ahead, each Date-A-Base Book covers an entire year and includes considerably more anniversaries than we list on this blog.

This month’s example is taken from the January listing in The Date-A-Base Book 2016. The entry for 9th January 1816 (200 years ago), when the British chemist and inventor Sir Humphrey Davy first tested his miners’ safety lamp, caught my eye.

This entry is pretty newsworthy in itself, being a 200th anniversary. An article about it should be welcomed by national newspapers, general magazines, science magazines, news websites, science and invention websites, and so on.

Davy was Cornish, so you could write a feature on his life, inventions and legacy for a Cornish or south-west regional newspaper and the county magazine.

The newspaper(s) covering the specific part of Cornwall where he was born (Penzance) should also be interested in an article that not only chronicles his life and achievements but looks at the school he went to, the house he lived in, his early life in the town, and so on. (The current secondary school in Penzance is named in his honour.) He then went to Truro Grammar School, about 30 miles away, and that city will have its own local newspaper(s), so there’s scope for an additional (but more or less identical) article there, since the readerships of the local newspapers serving these two towns is unlikely to overlap to any great extent.

Davy tested his lamp at Hebburn Colliery, Tyne and Wear, in north-east England, so you could also write articles for a north-east regional newspaper and for the county magazine for Tyne and Wear, as well as the local newspaper(s) covering Hebburn. The readerships may overlap here, so you’ll need to write different articles, explore different angles, and so on. One article might look at the impact his lamp (and other safety lamps) had on mining, while another might chronicle his life, and a third article might look at his other discoveries, quickly mentioning the anniversary of the lamp test as a hook to get the article started.

Although many people know him only for his miners’ safety lamp, did you know that it wasn’t particularly successful? It restricted the amount of light emitted by the candle, and miners disliked how dim it was. The gauze inside the lamp that prevented methane explosions deteriorated rapidly in the wet conditions inside mines and soon stopped working, so the explosions still kept happening. I’m sure most people don’t know about this (I certainly didn’t until I read about it a moment ago), so it would be well worth writing about. You could also write about the causes of mine explosions, other developments in mine lighting and safety, rescue techniques, successful and unsuccessful rescues, well known people (or close relatives of well known people) who lost their lives in mine explosions and might have survived if they’d had better equipment, celebrities who had former careers as miners, and so on.

There are trade magazines covering the mining and chemical industries, and there are chemistry journals and science magazines which would be worth contacting to see if they’d like an article about the test, the lamp, or Davy’s life and discoveries. School/educational magazines and history magazines might be also be interested. Some mining museums might be interested in paying you to write an article for their website or newsletter.

The safety lamp is just one aspect of Davy’s life, and many people now regard his other discoveries and achievements as being far more important. These will all be worth writing about, but you can use the 200th anniversary of his safety lamp test as the hook that makes them newsworthy in January 2016.

For example, he pioneered the use of electrolysis to split compounds into their separate elements, and through this he discovered sodium and potassium. This is hugely important, and you could write about what these elements have been used for since he discovered them and what we use them for today. You could also explore the electrolysis process in more detail or look at other elements that can be separated using it – such as hydrogen and oxygen from the electrolysis of water. He was also the first person to isolate magnesium, boron and barium; he discovered that chlorine was an element – and he gave it its name; he was the first person to identify iodine; he also proved that diamond is a form of carbon. These are all important elements and discoveries and would be well worth writing about.

He became well known for demonstrating laughing gas (nitrous oxide) during his popular lectures, and his friend, the poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge, was an enthusiastic participant in his experiments. You could write about the use of this gas as an anaesthetic (and its other uses) and go on to discuss other historic and modern forms of anaesthesia. You could also write about popular lectures and famous demonstrations – particularly those involving famous people, or ones that went spectacularly or disastrously wrong.

As well as his scientific achievements, he was one of the founders of London Zoo – which will be well worth an article. He is also known as ‘the father of modern fly-fishing’ – so there’s scope for another article here, for publication in the various angling magazines around the world

Davy damaged his eyesight in a laboratory accident, so you could write about this and how it affected him. You could also explore the development of eye protection, look at everyday household chemicals which are hazardous to eyesight, and so on. You should be able to find all sorts of markets for these articles, including national newspapers and general magazines; women’s magazines; trade magazines for opticians, chemists, engineers, healthcare workers; and more – both in your own country and internationally.

All of these articles can begin by mentioning the 200th anniversary of the safety lamp test, and then continue: ‘Although Davy is remembered for his safety lamp he also…’ or: ‘You might not know that Davy also…’ and then you can go on to discuss whichever other aspect of his life or work you want to talk about.

All of this information came from the Wikipedia page about him. That page also has links to several related pages, references and a bibliography. You could also look him up in Encyclopaedia Britannica or the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, or have a quick skim through a book about his life. You can do all of these things in just a few minutes, and they will all undoubtedly lead to ideas for further articles.

Note: neither Wikipedia nor Encyclopaedia Britannica are known for being 100% reliable, so it’s important to cross-check your facts with other sources. But if both Wikipedia and Encyclopaedia Britannica give the same information then it should be safe to trust it.
In case you don’t manage to sell all of these articles (or can’t get them all commissioned before writing them), or you don’t have time to write them all, don’t throw anything away – you can use it all again in the future. Davy died in 1829, so the 200th anniversary of his death (in May 2029) isn’t that far away (14 years at the time of writing). Make a note of this date and where you’ve kept your articles and notes, as you should be able to sell everything then. If anything, the demand for articles about him will be even greater at that time, and you should also be able to resell the articles that were published the first time around. There will also undoubtedly be many TV documentaries and radio features about him then, which you could write or contribute to.

Tip: Never throw away your articles or ideas, and always keep copies of the articles you’ve had published. You never know when you might be able to sell them again! It’s a good idea to store everything in a secure place and index it all so you can find it easily.

You’ll find lots more tips on how to write and sell newsworthy anniversary articles in our free ebook Ditch Your Day Job – the Easiest Way to Make a Living as a Writer.

302 historic anniversaries in January 2016 for you to write about (and make money from)

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

cover16_3dHere’s the complete listing for January (all 302 anniversaries) from The Date-A-Base Book 2016.

It comes in two formats: chronological order or sorted by date. If you haven’t tried them before (or even if you have!) please let us know which version you prefer.

Right-click on either link below then choose “Save Target As” or “Save Link As” to save the file to your computer.

PDF file: January 2016 (chronological order)

PDF file: January 2016 (sorted by date)

Many thanks for all your thoughtful comments and advice regarding my arm injury. A week further on and I’ve now got most of the movement back and there’s hardly any pain – just a niggle now and then. I’ve stopped taking the painkillers but have to continue with the anti-inflammatories for another two weeks. Hopefully that will be the end of it.


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The ‘arm injury’ update

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Hello! A little while ago I said we’d be improving this blog – and it only partially materialised. The expanded list of What Ifs happened, but not the other things. Also The Date-A-Base Book 2017 was due out in June and hasn’t appeared. So what’s gone wrong?

Two things: (a) I was heavily involved in running this year’s town fair, which raised over £1,600 for charity and (b) I’ve hurt my right arm and can’t do very much.

The arm thing is all down to what I can only describe as ‘abuse’. Copy/pasting the entire Date-A-Base Book 2016 into date order last month kind of set things off. But on top of that I had to hammer 16 advertising signs into the ground around town for the fair, hammer 4 coconut shy poles into some (very hard) ground, hump some (very heavy) tables around, instruct competitors in the ‘welly wanging’ contest, and so on.

My arm is now so well abused that it won’t take any more. The tendons are massively inflamed and I can barely move it. The pain keeps me awake at night, so I’m sleeping at odd times whenever the pain eases a bit. I’m on painkillers and (very strong) anti-inflammatories, and I’ll need ultrasound treatment if it hasn’t improved in 3 weeks.

Anyway… all the things I promised previously will still happen; they’ll just take a little longer because I can’t go very fast at the moment.

We should get a complete version of The Date-A-Base Book 2017 out by the end of the month, but it probably won’t be in its usual grid format because I can’t manage the copy/pasting. (I asked Kate if she’d consider doing it, but her answer is unfit for publication.)

Next week’s blog will feature the Date-A-Base list of anniversaries for January 2016, and the following week we’ll run the same list of article ideas (based on one of the anniversaries) that appears in Ditch Your Day Job: the easiest way to make a living as a writer.

Next month should (hopefully) include everything we previously promised in the expanded blog, including the bigger list of What Ifs, 50 Date-A-Base anniversaries for February 2016, and a full page of brand new article ideas based on one of the February anniversaries.

In other (very good) news: our missing author, Dr. Ellis Silver, has returned home, according to his family. You may remember that he went missing last August and hadn’t been seen since. We don’t have any other details at the moment; we’re just relieved that he’s home and safe. In due course we’ll ask him about the second edition of his book Humans are not from Earth, but now is definitely not the right time.

What If? 31 Creative Writing Prompts for July

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Here’s this month’s selection of What Ifs to stimulate your brain – what can you do with these? Some of them are deliberately vague or ambiguous so you can interpret them in different ways.

There’s one for each day of the month. If you need more please take a look at our book The Fastest Way to Get Ideas – 4,400 Essential What Ifs for Writers.

What if…

1. you could only do one thing on your computer each day?

2. someone called you something in a foreign language and you had no idea if it was a compliment or an insult?

3. you were a stranger?

4. you realised you could make a fortune in the adult film / entertainment market?

5. a lie you told years ago came back to haunt you?

6. you completely misunderstood a new technology?

7. you couldn’t trust yourself?

8. you could pick your own team?

9. the impossible happened?

10. the impossible happened again?

11. you’d met all your friends in the most bizarre circumstances?

12. you discovered an unsuspected talent?

13. you eventually found a use for something you’d thought was useless?

14. deadlines were illegal?

15. the world was not enough?

16. you had to keep a crowd of 80,000 people entertained for 2 hours?

17. it was acceptable to discriminate against ugly people?

18. all artworks created in a particular year had to conform to that year’s official style?

19. you embraced your inner nerd/geek?

20. you were the only person in the world who could do what you do?

21. your pet constantly argued with you?

22. you almost went to jail?

23. you disagreed with something purely because you didn’t like who was saying it?

24. someone moved the signs for a prank?

25. a software update scrambled all your work?

26. a criminal offered you a job that would make you rich?

27. something much more sinister was going on?

28. you never stopped having sex?

29. the weather was used as a weapon?

30. people lit up like fireflies?

31. the official records didn’t show what you had seen with your own eyes?

– – – – – – –

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50 Newsworthy Anniversaries in December 2015 for you to write about (and make money from!)

Monday, 15 June 2015

Here are 50 newsworthy anniversaries coming up in December 2015 for you to write about (and make money from). The anniversaries are listed 6 months in advance to give you enough time for research and writing.

We have painstakingly cross-checked every entry, but you are advised to check all facts again as part of your research. Please let us know of any errors you find.

The Date-A-Base Book 2015 | ideas4writersThe listing below is a small sample of the entries for November from The Date-A-Base Book 2015There are 340 anniversaries for December in the book, which covers the whole of 2015 from January to December and features more than 4,000 anniversaries in total.

Just one published article should cover the cost of your copy many times over.

If you need to work further ahead, The Date-A-Base Book 2016 is also available.

Members onlyideas4writers lifetime members can download a 150-page preview of the 2017 edition from the members’ home page. (The preview lists all the newsworthy birth and death anniversaries in 2017, but not the events. The full version should be available in about a month.)

—–

500 years ago (24 Dec 1515)
Thomas Wolsey was appointed Lord Chancellor of England.

250 years ago (8 Dec 1765)
Birth of Eli Whitney, American inventor of the cotton gin.

200 years ago (3 Dec 1815)
Death of John Carroll, the first Roman Catholic bishop in the USA and the first archbishop of Baltimore, Maryland.

200 years ago (10 Dec 1815)
Birth of Ada, Countess of Lovelace, British mathematician. Best known for her work with Charles Babbage. Considered the world’s first computer programmer. Daughter of the poet Lord Byron.

150 years ago (6 Dec 1865)
The Thirteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was officially adopted, abolishing slavery in the USA.

150 years ago (8 Dec 1865)
Birth of Jean Sibelius, Finnish composer. Considered the most important Scandinavian symphonic composer.

150 years ago (10 Dec 1865)
Death of Leopold I, the first King of the Belgians (1831–65). Succeeded by his son Leopold II.

150 years ago (25 Dec 1865)
Birth of Evangeline Booth, British-born Salvation Army leader. Its first female general.

150 years ago (30 Dec 1865)
Birth of Rudyard Kipling, British short story writer, novelist, poet, and children’s author. Best known for The Jungle Book, Just So Stories, Kim, The Man Who Would Be King, Gunga Din, If–, and more. Winner of the 1907 Nobel Prize for Literature.

125 years ago (29 Dec 1890)
The Wounded Knee Massacre (also called the Battle of Wounded Knee), South Dakota, USA. Troops from the U.S. 7th Cavalry Regiment shot and killed about 300 members of the Lakota tribe.

100 years ago (8 Dec 1915)
The war poem In Flanders Fields, by Canadian physician Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, was first published in Punch magazine in the UK.

100 years ago (9 Dec 1915)
Birth of Dame Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, German-born Austrian/British soprano.

100 years ago (12 Dec 1915)
Birth of Frank Sinatra, American singer and film actor. One of the best-selling artists of all time. A founding member of the Rat Pack.

100 years ago (19 Dec 1915)
Birth of Édith Piaf, French singer and actress. One of France’s greatest international stars. Best known for the songs Non, je ne regrette rien and La Vie en rose.

80 years ago (12 Dec 1935)
The Lebensborn project was established in Germany to counteract falling birth rates and promote Nazi eugenics.

75 years ago (1 Dec 1940)
Birth of Richard Pryor, award-winning American stand-up comedian and film actor. (Died 2005.)

75 years ago (12 & 15 Dec 1940)
World War II – the Sheffield Blitz, UK. The city of Sheffield, famous for its steel industry, was devastated by German bombs. More than 660 people were killed, 1,500 injured, and 40,000 made homeless.

75 years ago (21 Dec 1940)
Birth of Frank Zappa, prolific American rock / experimental / jazz / classical musician, singer, composer and film director. (Died 1993.)

75 years ago (21 Dec 1940)
Death of F. Scott Fitzgerald, American novelist and short story writer. Considered one of the greatest American writers of the 20th century. Best known for his novel The Great Gatsby.

75 years ago (22 Dec 1940)
Death of Nathanael West, American satirical novelist and screenwriter. Best known for his novels Miss Lonelyhearts and The Day of the Locust.

75 years ago (30 Dec 1940)
The Arroyo Seco Parkway (also known as the Pasadena Freeway) was officially opened in California, USA. It is considered the first true freeway in the USA – though narrow by modern standards.

70 years ago (27 Dec 1945)
The World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development were formally founded. (They had been created at the Bretton Woods Conference in July 1944.)

70 years ago (28 Dec 1945)
The U.S. Congress formally recognised the Pledge of Allegiance. (It was written in 1892. Before 1945 it was known as the Pledge to the Flag. It was last revised in 1954 when the words ‘under God’ were added.)

60 years ago (1 Dec 1955)
African American civil rights activist Rosa Parks refused to give up her bus seat to a white man in Montgomery, Alabama, USA, violating the city’s racial segregation laws. This incident led to the Montgomery bus boycott (5th Dec 1955 – 20th Dec 1956) and the birth of the modern American civil rights movement.

60 years ago (4 Dec 1955)
The American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations merged to form the AFL-CIO – the largest federation of trade unions in the USA.

60 years ago (4 Dec 1955)
Death of Glenn L. Martin, American aviation pioneer and manufacturer whose aircraft company is now part of Lockheed Martin.

60 years ago (20 Dec 1955)
Cardiff was proclaimed the capital city of Wales.

50 years ago (3 Dec 1965)
The album Rubber Soul by The Beatles was released.

50 years ago (9 Dec 1965)
The animated television special A Charlie Brown Christmas was first broadcast in the USA. It was based on Charles M. Schulz’s Peanuts comic strip and continues to be broadcast annually.

50 years ago (16 Dec 1965)
Death of W. Somerset Maugham, prolific British novelist, short story writer and playwright. One of the most popular writers of his era. Best known for his novels Of Human Bondage, The Moon and Sixpence, Cakes and Ale and The Razor’s Edge.

50 years ago (22 Dec 1965)
A maximum speed limit of 70 mph was introduced on previously unrestricted roads in Britain. (The limit was introduced on a trial basis but was made permanent in July 1967.)

50 years ago (22 Dec 1965)
The U.S. première of the film Dr. Zhivago. (UK: 26th April 1966.)

50 years ago (22 Dec 1965)
Death of Richard Dimbleby, pioneering British journalist and radio/television broadcaster. The BBC’s first war correspondent. One of the greatest figures in British broadcasting history. Father of the television presenters David Dimbleby and Jonathan Dimbleby.

50 years ago (27 Dec 1965)
Sea Gem oil rig disaster, North Sea. Britain’s first-ever oil rig capsized due to metal fatigue after being moved to a new site. 13 crew were killed.

50 years ago (30 Dec 1965)
Ferdinand Marcos became President of the Philippines.

40 years ago (11 Dec 1975)
Third Cod War: one of the most serious incidents of the Cod Wars occurred when an Icelandic ship opened fire on 3 unarmed British tugboats. No one was hurt.

40 years ago (29 Dec 1975)
LaGuardia Airport bombing, New York City, USA. 11 people were killed and 74 injured when a bomb exploded near the TWA baggage reclaim terminal. The perpetrators and motive are currently unknown.

30 years ago (26 or 27 Dec 1985)
Death of Dian Fossey, American zoologist. The world’s leading authority on mountain gorillas. (Murdered in Rwanda, case unsolved – poachers?)

25 years ago (1 Dec 1990)
Construction workers on the Channel Tunnel broke through the last wall of rock separating the two halves, and Britain and France were linked for the first time in thousands of years.

25 years ago (2 Dec 1990)
West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl was elected Chancellor of Germany. (He had been acting-Chancellor since reunification on 3rd Oct.)

25 years ago (2 Dec 1990)
Death of Aaron Copland, American composer.

25 years ago (22 Dec 1990)
Lech Walesa, leader of the once-outlawed Solidarity trade union movement, became President of Poland.

25 years ago (25 Dec 1990)
The first successful trial run of the system that would become the World Wide Web was completed at CERN in Switzerland.

20 years ago (4 Dec 1995)
Bosnian War: the first NATO troops landed in Sarajevo to begin setting up a peace mission. Peacekeeping operations began on 20th.

20 years ago (7 Dec 1995)
NASA’s Galileo spacecraft reached Jupiter after a 6-year journey. It released a probe into the planet’s atmosphere, which sent back data on its structure and composition before being destroyed by the pressure.

20 years ago (8 Dec 1995)
Head teacher Philip Lawrence was stabbed to death outside his west London school while trying to protect a student who was being assaulted by a gang of youths.

20 years ago (13 Dec 1995)
Brixton riot, south London, UK. Hundreds of youths rioted on the streets of Brixton following the death of a black man in police custody.

20 years ago (14 Dec 1995)
The Bosnian War ended with the ratification of the Dayton Accords in Paris, France. (The war had begun in April 1992.)

10 years ago (11 Dec 2005)
Buncefield Oil Depot fire, Hertfordshire, UK. An oil storage tank exploded when an unconfined vapour cloud ignited, causing nearby tanks to explode. 43 people were injured. The explosion was heard in France, Belgium and the Netherlands.

10 years ago (19 Dec 2005)
The Civil Partnership Act came into effect in the UK. The first civil partnership under the act was formed in Belfast, Northern Ireland that day. The first in Scotland was on 20th December, and the first in England and Wales were on 21st December.


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The Date-A-Base Book 2016 sorted by date

Monday, 8 June 2015

cover16_3dBy popular request…

The Date-A-Base Book 2016 is now available in an alternative format where the entries are sorted by date (i.e. all the 1st Jan entries come first, then all the 2nd Jan entries, etc.)

 

ideas4writers lifetime members can download it right now from the members’ home page.

For everyone else: we’ll send you both versions (chronological and sorted by date) when you buy the ebook edition.

The printed version is only available in chronological order.

Full details here: www.ideas4writers.co.uk/2016

(We’re currently working on the 2017 edition. We’ll announce it here as soon as it’s ready – approximately 1 month to go.)

What If? 30 Creative Writing Prompts for June

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Here’s this month’s selection of What Ifs to stimulate your brain – what can you do with these? Some of them are deliberately vague or ambiguous so you can interpret them in different ways.

There’s one for each day of the month. If you need more please take a look at our book The Fastest Way to Get Ideas – 4,400 Essential What Ifs for Writers.

What if…

1. you came home and found strangers living in your house?

2. your boss was far more intelligent than you gave him/her credit for?

3. you went to sleep as usual one night but when you woke up the next morning you found it was actually 3 years later and you’d been in a coma?

4. the sky was filled with UFOs but you couldn’t see them because they were cloaked in invisibility shields and invisible to radar?

5. you thought you’d been given the easiest task but in fact it was the hardest?

6. your name was added to the wrong list?

7. every day you took one step further than you did the previous day?

8. you attempted to spend an entire day (or week/month/year) on a bicycle – not getting off for even a second?

9. your attempt at breaking a record was a disastrous/hilarious failure?

10. all doors opened outwards?

11. it was impossible for humans to travel at speeds higher than 25 mph without special breathing apparatus?

12. all crimes were punished by compulsory organ donation?

13. the part of the human brain that likes music and rhythm had never developed, so we found such things meaningless or annoying?

14. you decided to tell 100 lies per day and keep going until someone challenged something you said?

15. you were disqualified for being too good?

16. you were the only one who was prepared to play by the rules?

17. you were punished for sticking to the rules?

18. you (or something you created) became known as ‘iconic’?

19. you (or something you created) became known as ‘the opposite of iconic’?

20. you kidnapped someone?

21. you were taken hostage?

22. you forgot to send it in?

23. you gave it to someone else to post but they forgot (either deliberately or accidentally)?

24. the only form of advertising that was allowed was advertising on TV?

25. all TV advertising was restricted to a single channel?

26. you could pay an extra fee and never see any TV advertising at all?

27. you always seemed to be one step behind?

28. there were no trees?

29. it was impossible to correct a mistake?

30. you trained for years for a single day’s event, but then couldn’t perform?

– – – – – – –

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Writing software recommendation: Workflowy

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Regular readers will know I love lists. But what I love even more are:

  • organised lists
    • hierarchical lists (like this)
  • outlines (in the form of hierarchical lists of course)

The sort of list that you can:

  • easily move around
  • insert bullet points at will
  • promote or demote entries from chapter headings to sub-headings and back again, for example
  • split entries into new headings or sub-categories of their own
  • and so on.

(But it has to be extremely easy and quick to do all of those things.)

You can do so much with lists like these, from making a shopping list to outlining an article or story or novel to creating the business plan for a multi-billion dollar industry.

I’ve just started planning a rather complex novel, and this is where a decent outliner should come into its own. But the tools I had available just weren’t doing it for me. I tried using them and quickly ditched them and moved on to the next … and the next … until I ran out of options.

Microsoft Word has a built-in outliner, and while it’s usable it’s not brilliant (for complex novels at least). Also, I haven’t got Word on my netbook, only my desktop computer that I hardly use any more.

OpenOffice Writer, which I use on my netbook, sort of has one but it’s a massive pain to use – and totally unsuitable for planning a novel.

Until recently I used Treepad Lite for organising things, but it’s been a love-hate relationship. It does the job but not elegantly, nor is it fast. I started planning my novel on it but quickly abandoned it.

At this point I considered buying Scrivener so I could use the cork board/index cards feature, but that isn’t really how I like to work – I like lists! (It’s close, but not quite close enough.)

I do a lot of writing on my iPad now – including this very blog post. So I wanted something cross-platform: it needed to work on my Windows desktop computer, my Windows netbook, and my iPad – and ideally also on my Android smartphone so I can work on my novel while I’m out and about.

So I dug around in Apple’s App Store and eventually found Workflowy. It’s perfect, it’s dead simple, it’s brilliant. I wish I’d found it years ago. There’s an iPad app, an Android app and a browser version so you can use it in Windows. And none of them costs anything (which is always my favourite price!)

(There is of course a paid-for version – there always is, and that’s fair enough as they have to stay in business and continue creating great software – but none of the paid-for features are essential as far as I can tell. I seem to be getting on perfectly well without them. It might be useful to collaborate with other writers at some point, though – and that is a paid option.)

The only very slight drawback is that you can only add 250 items (bullet points) to your lists each month (unless you pay to upgrade). But if you recommend Workflowy to your friends (see below) you get an extra 250 items per month for each one who signs up.

If you’re a list-maker/outliner/planner like me, rather than someone who prefers the “start writing and let’s see where it goes” approach, it’s well worth having a look at Workflowy. My novel is now coming along splendidly, so I give it my highest personal recommendation. It’s something I definitely use (a lot) and have come to love and rely on in a very short time – and that’s not something I say very often.

There’s a short video on their website that shows you how it works. And that’s all the training you need.

If you use the following link (because you’re my friend) you can immediately start off with 500 items per month as your basic allowance rather than the usual 250. (It will increase my allowance too, so thank you in advance if you decide to give it a try.)

https://workflowy.com/invite/2d8b4933.emlx

More writing tools

Each month from now on I’ll be looking at no cost/low cost tools (and probably books too) that make our writing lives easier. If you have any recommendations please let me know: dave@ideas4writers.co.uk. I’m sure there must be lots of other great tools out there that I’m simply not aware of.

50 Newsworthy Anniversaries in November 2015 for you to write about (and make money from!)

Monday, 11 May 2015

We’re continuing our new and improved ideas4writers blog.

There are no major changes this week, but next week we’ll pick one of the entries below and do a full-scale breakdown of it, just like we did in Ditch Your Day Job! (free ebook).

We should be able to fill at least a couple of pages with ideas for articles you could write about that single entry. If you’d like to vote for a particular entry please email dave@ideas4writers.co.uk, otherwise we’ll just pick one at random.

So, here are 50 newsworthy anniversaries coming up in November 2015 for you to write about (and make money from). The anniversaries are listed 6 months in advance to give you enough time for research and writing.

We have painstakingly cross-checked every entry, but you are advised to check all facts again as part of your research. Please let us know of any errors you find.

The Date-A-Base Book 2015 | ideas4writersThe listing below is a small sample of the entries for November from The Date-A-Base Book 2015There are 350 anniversaries for November in the book, which covers the whole of 2015 from January to December and features more than 4,000 anniversaries in total.

Just one published article should cover the cost of your copy many times over.

If you need to work further ahead, The Date-A-Base Book 2016 is also available.

Members onlyideas4writers lifetime members can download a 150-page preview of the 2017 edition from the members’ home page. (The preview lists all the newsworthy birth and death anniversaries in 2017, but not the events. The full version should be available at the end of June.)

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500 years ago (22 Nov 1515)
Birth of Mary of Guise (also known as Mary of Lorraine). Queen consort of James V of Scotland (1538–42). Regent of Scotland (1554–60). Mother of Mary, Queen of Scots.

250 years ago (1 Nov 1765)
The Stamp Act (a British tax on the colonies of North America) went into effect. Its purpose was to help pay for troops stationed in North America following Britain’s victory in the Seven Years’ War. (The tax was hugely unpopular with colonists and the Act was repealed in March 1766. It was one of the key grievances that led to the American Revolution.)

250 years ago (14 Nov 1765)
Birth of Robert Fulton, American engineer and inventor who developed the first commercially successful steamboat.

200 years ago (1 Nov 1815)
Birth of Crawford Long, pioneering American physician. The first to use ether as an anaesthetic during surgery.

200 years ago (2 Nov 1815)
Birth of George Boole, British mathematician who invented Boolean algebra (also called Boolean logic), which forms the basis of modern computer circuits and programming.

200 years ago (24 Nov 1815)
Birth of Grace Darling, British heroine who famously rescued survivors of a shipwreck off Northumberland in 1838. She and her father used a rowing boat as the sea was too rough for the lifeboat.

150 years ago (2 Nov 1865)
Birth of Warren G. Harding, 29th President of the United States.

150 years ago (10 Nov 1865)
Death of Henry Wirz, Swiss-born American soldier. Confederate Army captain in the U.S. Civil War. Superintendent of a prison-of-war camp in Andersonville, Georgia – for which he was later convicted of excessive cruelty. The only person in the USA to have been executed for war crimes. (Hanged.)

150 years ago (12 Nov 1865)
Death of Elizabeth Gaskell, (Mrs. Gaskell), British novelist and short story writer who also wrote the first biography of Charlotte Brontë.

150 years ago (17 Nov 1865)
Death of James McCune Smith, American physician and abolitionist. The first African American to hold a medical degree. The first African American to run a pharmacy in the USA. A prominent campaigner against slavery.

150 years ago (26 Nov 1865)
Lewis Carroll’s novel Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland was published.

100 years ago (11 Nov 1915)
Birth of William Proxmire, American politician, Senator from Wisconsin. Best known for his crusade against officials who waste public money, and his Golden Fleece Awards which were given to those whom he felt were the most guilty. Also noted for his personal fitness regime.

100 years ago (12 Nov 1915)
Birth of Roland Barthes, French literary theorist, semiotician, philosopher, essayist and social/literary critic.

100 years ago (14 Nov 1915)
Death of Booker T. Washington, American educator, reformer, writer and presidential adviser. Born into slavery. The main spokesman for the African American community in the decade before his death. First president of Tuskegee University, Alabama.

100 years ago (25 Nov 1915)
Birth of Augusto Pinochet, President/dictator of Chile (1974–90).

80 years ago (5 Nov 1935)
The board game Monopoly was launched by Parker Brothers.

80 years ago (14 Nov 1935)
Holocaust: the Nazis began implementing the Nuremburg Laws, stripping German Jews of their German citizenship. The laws were extended to cover gypsies and negroes on 26th November.

80 years ago (15 Nov 1935)
The Philippines became a self-governing commonwealth. Manuel L. Quezon became President.

75 years ago (4 Nov 1940)
Death of Manuel Azaña, President of Spain (1936–39).

75 years ago (5 Nov 1940)
Franklin D. Roosevelt became the only U.S. President to win a third term in office.

75 years ago (7 Nov 1940)
The Tacoma Narrows Bridge in Washington, USA collapsed. It is one of the most famous engineering failures in history.

75 years ago (9 Nov 1940)
Death of Neville Chamberlain, British Prime Minister (1937–40).

75 years ago (13 Nov 1940)
The première of Walt Disney’s animated movie Fantasia, in New York City, USA.

75 years ago (14 Nov 1940)
World War II: German Luftwaffe bombers virtually destroyed the city of Coventry, England, including the medieval cathedral.

75 years ago (15 Nov 1940)
Holocaust: all Jews in Warsaw, Poland were transferred to the Warsaw Ghetto. (On 16th the Ghetto was sealed off from the outside world, with about 400,000 Jews confined within its 4 square kilometres. On 19th any Jewish property found outside the Ghetto was confiscated by the Nazis.)

75 years ago (20 Nov 1940)
World War II: Hungary joined the Axis powers, swiftly followed by Romania and Slovakia.

75 years ago (27 Nov 1940)
Birth of Bruce Lee, American-born film actor. Known for his martial arts movies including Enter the Dragon and Fist of Fury. (Died 1973.)

50 years ago (6 Nov 1965)
Freedom Flights between Cuba and the USA began. The USA began airlifting Cuban refugees to Miami, Florida. The flights ended in 1973, by which time 300,000 Cubans had been relocated. (Little Havana in Miami was established as a result of this.)

50 years ago (8 Nov 1965)
The first episode of the soap opera Days of Our Lives was broadcast on NBC TV in the USA.

50 years ago (9 Nov 1965)
The death penalty was abolished in the United Kingdom.

50 years ago (11 Nov 1965)
Rhodesia issued a Unilateral Declaration of Independence from Britain. The move was widely condemned, and the United Nations imposed economic sanctions on Rhodesia on 20th November.

50 years ago (26 Nov 1965)
France became the world’s third space power when it successfully launched its satellite Astérix into orbit from Algeria.

40 years ago (3 Nov 1975)
Britain’s first North Sea oil pipeline was officially opened.

40 years ago (6 Nov 1975)
British punk rock group the Sex Pistols gave their first public performance, at St Martin’s College of Art in London. The performance was cut short and a fight broke out.

40 years ago (11 Nov 1975)
Angola gained its independence from Portugal and immediately began a civil war which continued (with some interludes) until April 2002.

40 years ago (16 Nov 1975 – Jun 1976)
The Third Cod War between Iceland and Great Britain. Icelandic victory. Iceland retained its recently introduced 200-mile exclusion zone, severely damaging the British fishing industry which was already in decline.

40 years ago (20 Nov 1975)
Death of General Francisco Franco, Spanish dictator (1939–75). Juan Carlos I became King 2 days later.

30 years ago (15 Nov 1985)
The Anglo–Irish Agreement was signed in Dublin by British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and Irish President Garret Fitzerald. It gave the Irish Government a consultative role in the affairs of Northern Ireland.

30 years ago (18 Nov 1985)
The comic strip Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson was first published. (It ended in December 1995.)

30 years ago (19 Nov 1985)
US President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev met for the first time at a superpower summit in Geneva, Switzerland.

25 years ago (7 Nov 1990)
Mary Robinson became the first female President of Ireland.

25 years ago (7 Nov 1990)
Death of Lawrence Durrell, Indian-born British novelist, poet, playwright and travel writer. Known for his series of novels The Alexandria Quartet.

25 years ago (12 Nov 1990)
Crown Prince Akihito, eldest son of Emperor Hirohito, was formally enthroned as Emperor of Japan.

25 years ago (21 Nov 1990)
The Cold War ended as leaders of NATO and Warsaw Pact states signed the Charter of Paris and a treaty on conventional forces in Europe.

25 years ago (23 Nov 1990)
Death of Roald Dahl, British novelist, short story writer and screenwriter (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, James and the Giant Peach, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Matilda, Fantastic Mr. Fox, The BFG, and more).

25 years ago (28 Nov 1990)
British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher formally resigned following her announcement on 22nd November. John Major succeeded her.

20 years ago (28 Nov 1995)
The 55 mph federal speed limit was abolished in the USA (effective from 8th December). Individual states became free to set their own maximum speed limits – typically 65 or 70 mph, but 75 mph in a few states. (The 55 mph limit was introduced during the 1974 Middle East oil embargo.)

10 years ago (22 Nov 2005)
Angela Merkel became the first female Chancellor of Germany.

10 years ago (24 Nov 2005)
The Licensing Act 2003 came into effect in England and Wales. It introduced flexibility to pub opening hours, with the potential for 24-hour opening.

10 years ago (27 Nov 2005)
The world’s first partial face transplant was carried out in France. The patient, Isabelle Dinoire, had been mauled by a dog.


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What If…? 31 Creative Writing Prompts for May

Monday, 4 May 2015

Welcome to the new and improved ideas4writers blog!

You’ll notice some definite improvements this month. The first improvement is that we’ve expanded the monthly list of What Ifs from ten per month to one per day – so here are 31 for May.

If you need more, please take a look at our book The Fastest Way to Get Ideas – 4,400 Essential What Ifs for Writers.

What if…

1. the vast majority of people suffered from suicidal tendencies?

2. there was a good reason why UFOs crashed on Earth?

3. a failed writer shook hands with as many successful writers as he could meet, crushing their bones so they couldn’t write any more?

4. everyone drove their cars like dodgems/bumper cars/Mario Kart?

5. every word in the dictionary was misspelled?

6. the meaning of every word in the dictionary was incorrect?

7. someone published simple instructions that guaranteed endless wealth – and you were the only one who did/didn’t follow them?

8. having been told it’s better to give than to receive, you gave all your money and assets to charity and were made bankrupt?

9. the idea of heating/cooking food had never taken off?

10. electricity had never caught on?

11. your favourite sports team was cursed?

12. we found a brand new resource on Earth that we could exploit?

13. you didn’t like any TV show?

14. you couldn’t read?

15. you couldn’t write?

16. fiction was outlawed because it was “lies”?

17. everyone knew everything?

18. no one knew anything?

19. there was no such thing as news; everything was covered up or declared a secret by the government?

20. the occult was outlawed – and that included things like TV listings and planning schedules because they foretold the future?

21. guardian angels were as solid and visible as living people?

22. you found out that you had only been born because your parents wanted to harvest your organs for spare parts?

23. you couldn’t use touch screens?

24. there was a war on; maps were banned and destroyed; GPS was switched off; and no one was allowed to give directions?

25. all public transport was free?

26. the government’s attempt to persuade more people to become doctors worked too well and everyone abandoned their careers to join the medical profession?

27. there was no such thing as ownership?

28. your parents did not allow any books in the house?

29. everyone evaluated their potential partners by their ability to either write poetry or quote it?

30. Britain became a republic?

31. everyone had to take their own ingredients to restaurants, and chefs were expected to cook with them even if they didn’t know what they were and even if some of the ingredients were missing?

– – – – – – –

Become a lifetime member of ideas4writers for just £49.95 (or the equivalent in your local currency) and you’ll receive:
Our complete collection of 5,000+ writing ideas
The Fastest Way to Get Ideas (4,400 what ifs)
The Date-A-Base Book 2015 and 2016 (plus our 2017 preview and all future editions)
The Fastest Way to Write Your Book
How to Win Short Story Competitions
Unlimited use of our exclusive online writing software
Full access to our members-only forums
Free use of our writing/computing advice line
And more… (total value: over £150 and growing)

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