Hello Everyone, I know I’ve been particularly quiet on here recently but trust me, there’s a lot going on behind the scenes!
Over the last few months, I’ve been plugging away at my current work in progress – a thriller set in a secluded landscape in the UK – and I’m so pleased to have finally finished the first draft of my adult thriller!
I was initially writing the first three chapters, as a writing exercise, when a trusted reader really wanted to know what had happened to one of my main characters. Hopefully, I’ll do them justice when the final draft is complete.
Alongside this, I’ve been editing my first book Burn at the Rootsand looking at various cover designs that would best suit the genre. It’s so exciting to finally start looking at what my book will look like!
Whenever I’m writing, I tend to take a break from reading in case any ideas overlap into my writing. I love to read but it’s something I really struggle with when I’m working on a project.
If you would like to see additional pieces of my writing on here, feel free to drop me a comment.
I also use Ko-Fi, where some smaller snippets of my daily writing can be found. If you want to support my writing journey, you can also do that on there too by buying me a coffee! My writing is mainly fuelled by coffee so any donations are always really appreciated.
I just wanted to end this post with a big thank you to all those who currently support me.
I may have been a little quiet on here but I’ve been extremely busy behind the scenes writing new content that I think you’re going to be excited about.
Over the last few weeks this question has been dangling over me like a carrot. Self-publishing seems to promise me, readers and full ownership of my book but is it really too good to be true?
This form of publishing is one of the routes I’ve been itching to try all along but often felt like it had a negative stigma attached to it.
I’m currently in between querying my first YA novel and whilst I’ve been spending time writing another book, I’ve noticed a few things about my writing style.
I prefer writing for adults.
I prefer the freedom I have with my audience but it’s made me question what to do with my YA book. I know I would’ve loved reading something like this when I was growing up and if it were successful, I already have a series in mind for it. So, I still want to try and publish my book, but which route is best for it?
Free Reign of Your Book
When I say free reign, I mean it.
Self-publishing allows you to literally do what you want with your book. From editing, to production, to marketing. It’s all yours to play around with. For me the concept of making my book look exactly how I want it to and marketing it in a way I think will work best, is like music to my ears. The more involved I am in my book, the better.
However I know not everyone will see it in this way. It can look daunting to someone who’s never tried to create book covers or market their work before, yet alone if your IT skills aren’t the best. It’s also worth considering the time it would take to get all of this up and running in comparison to getting published the traditional route. It could mean more work on production and marketing your book than writing it.
Publishing Houses v Self-Publishing
Doing all of the work means you’re going to need your novel to stand out from the crowd. This will be full of not only other self published authors but indie presses and publishing houses. Although publishing houses may validate the quality of your writing for some people, that doesn’t mean that everyone will view your writing in this way.
Yes you will instantly have a platform if you’re traditionally published to some extent. However, if you self-publish you can still have a platform. In fact, because it’s your book, you’ll probably spend more time promoting it than a publishing house would, meaning a larger audience overall with possibly more engagement.
The Profits of Publishing.
For some it might come down to the price of publishing. In traditional publishing, the average royalties for a new author can range from 7.5% – 12% depending on experience and genre. In self-publishing however, royalties can range from 35% – 70% according to KDP.
A big difference right?
Before you think it’s a no brainier, don’t forget to look at further details. Each book will have its own amount of VAT and tax and may also incur postage costs too. Not only this but once you’re at the end of the tax year, you’ll have to sort your own finances to ensure you’re not doing tax invasion.
Sound like a faff? Stick with traditional publishing. Not fazed? Then look further into self-publishing.
If these points haven’t fazed you or have even excited you about self-publishing, then I’d recommend taking a closer look into the industry. Hopefully I’ve opened your eyes to some of the nitty-gritty parts of self-publishing that you might not have considered before. Only you know whether it’s worth persevering for.
For me personally? I know my audience engagement would be better online and may attract more YA readers. So for me, I’ll take a closer look into self-publishing and if I gain more readers by self-publishing then so be it. For me, it’s all about the readers when it comes to my writing.
I’m sure you’ve seen it by now. It’s between Christmas and New Year. The decorations are coming down, the inspiration is building and your motivation is beginning to peak.
At this point, remember that slow and steady wins the race. Most people ignore this and jump straight in. It can be great at first, your motivation is all shiny and new, you even see results fast! However as the weeks progress, your motivation dwindles and your progress begins to plateau.
All of your intentions were right, right from the very beginning, but your execution? That could do with a tweak.
At work, we are always told to use SMART targets. It stands for Specific Measurable Accountable Realistic and Timely. It might seem like a lot more effort creating goals in this way but they can be easy to do once you’ve had a little practise. For example:
Specific – I want to run 5k / I would like to write a book
Measurable – I will run twice a week to begin with / I will create a chapter breakdown of my book’s plot.
Accountable – I will complete my runs after work / I will allow 1 hour each morning to write.
Realistic – I will use my time after dinner to achieve this goal / I will use 1 hour before bed if I am unable to write in the mornings.
Timely – I will complete a 5k run for a charity event/ I will complete my novel in one year.
If you set yourself a goal like this each month, you’ll be surprised at how quickly you’ll achieve your goals. Not only that but you won’t run out of motivation by running straight into what you want.
Give this a go and let me know in the comments with how you got on!
There’s a lot of bad press around being distracted at work. Whether that’s referring to the 9 til 5, your writing schedule or even the inability just to focus on your work. We’ve all been there – even me whilst I write this post – but perhaps it happens for a reason. Perhaps it’s your brain’s way of telling you that you need a time out.
More often than not a distraction tends to be something that is playful and spontaneous. It could be people watching, listening to a debate on the radio, or even something you spot in a shop window. We can’t deny that we do it but have we ever considered why we do it? Sometimes you can be aware that you need a distraction and other times you may not. If you don’t realise that you needed the distraction – more times than not – it’s because your brain could be overloaded. Whether that’s work or family life will differ to each of us and will affect us all differently.
I recently read an article about the benefits of play and how it can allow you to be rid of pressures and to be more present in a single activity. This in itself, allows the brain to think in different ways and can ultimately, allow your creativity to soar. Think that walk you took in the middle of writing your wip was an unwanted distraction? Probably not. In fact, you’ve probably went on that walk to clear your mind and let yourself think of something else for a while. While in this state, your subconscious will be mulling over your problem and by the time you get back to your writing, your mind may have conjured up a new scene, solved a plot hole or even allowed you to consider a possible plot twist. Whenever we do something that’s spontaneous and different to our working day, it surprises us and allows us to see it as a playful task or experience. As a result, your pressures gradually melt away, leaving you with a sense of play that really allows your creativity to come into full force.
Next time you go for a walk or are distracted by a game or puzzle, ask yourself once you’ve finished – Do you feel like you can be more creative? Do you feel refreshed and re-energised? Are you ready to tackle your problem?
The chances are, you might just feel ready for the new challenge ahead.
Welcome to second instalment of Coffee Break. In this instalment the main focus will be looking at how dialogue works within prose and what we can do to make our dialogue clearer and flow with ease.
Many of us sometimes question whether when a new person speaks, we should start a new line. Admittedly this should really be happening but sometimes, when we get lost in our character’s minds it can be tricky to decipher who is really speaking. I have recently read a novel by Ruth Ware who uses the confusion of her dialogue to give the reader a hint that the narrator might not be who they say they are (Review can be found here). This further highlights how the structure of dialogue can be confusing, but can be used to complement your plot.
This quote was given to me by my lecturer at Teesside University who always used this as a rule of thumb. He explained how sometimes the reader needs to see a little bit of description whilst dialogue is still taking place. Consider this: Would you watch a play if the characters didn’t move and just read their lines? Would you even consider this a play at all? I know I wouldn’t. The reader can find out a lot about your characters in these descriptions. It could be that your character is saying one thing but their actions are saying something completely different.
When you are structuring your own dialogue, try to create a new line every time another character talks. By doing this your dialogue will be clear for the reader. Once you have your dialogue in your work clear on the page, go through the dialogue and add a little description every 6 lines. Again this will give your readers something else to consider and might sprinkle more depth to your existing characters.
Accents and Dialects
Sometimes including these within your work can add depths to your characters and give your readers a sense of purpose of where they are from and their upbringing. The important element to this however is making sure that your readers can still understand every detail. For example, where I live people love to eat Parmos. However if not everyone knows what a Parmo is then the concept of using this within language is lost.
Round of applause for anyone who does know what a Parmo is – they’re great.
Write a brief piece of dialogue about two people that get talking in a queue in the airport. These people can be from opposite places (ie. someone from Newcastle and someone from Cornwall) or you could have two people who are different ages (one could be in their teens and another could be an elderly man/woman). When you are writing this dialogue, try to think of their accent and how their perceptions of the world will come into play in their discussion.
Please let me know how you get on with these writing prompts, as I am interested to see what you have come up with! The next instalment of Coffee Break will involve a different writing focus but until then, sit back, enjoy a coffee and get writing!
Welcome to the first instalment of Coffee Break. These articles will be filled with writing prompts and advice that are tailored to a particular theme each month. This month the theme will be setting. This article will look at how to describe setting without leaving your writing clunky and how to make places memorable to the reader. So sit back, relax and have a pen and paper at the ready!
It can often be questioned how much description is too much description when it comes to setting. The truth is that many people tend to overthink how to set the scene, which in turn, leaves it looking clunky and feeling forced. What you should try to focus on instead of what a physical place looks like, is to show the setting through the eyes of your main character.
Whilst travelling you are moe likely to immerse yourself in the culture and your surroundings. You wouldn’t just look at the old theatre just off the side street – you would watch an opera in there, get a few photos and socialise there too. This is exactly what your characters should be doing. It is for this reason why the show don’t tell method works brilliantly for setting the scene.
Here is an example of telling your readers what happened:
Susan looked around at the grubby tables in disgust. Just looking at the rubbish on the floor made her body shudder. She hated this place.
Here is an example of showing your readers what happened:
Susan pulled out her hand sanitiser and used it up to her forearms. She glanced at her friend and pulled on a pair of latex gloves, ‘best to be safe than sorry in this place.’She put her coat on her seat and sat on her coat.
The first example uses some describes the main character’s feelings whilst the writer is describing the place, but all the reader knows is that the floor and table is dirty. However in the second example, the sanitiser and gloves represent that the place must be really dirty (not just a particular part such as the floor). So much so that the main character won’t even sit on the chair she has been given, without the comfort and safety of her coat. Furthermore by including dialogue, the characters actions are showcase and provides the reader with a more fluid sense on setting the scene. By setting the scene within your story you are effectively moving the story forward whilst adding description. Not only will this help the development of your characters but it will also help the pace of your writing.
Try this yourself! Imagine you have just gone to work in the middle of a heatwave. Describe your surroundings through your characters actions.
Keep me updated with your writing by leaving a comment below!
The rest of this month writing prompts will be given around the focus of setting, so stay tuned and keep writing!
We’ve all asked and heard the advice, haven’t we? How do I improve writing? Read more. The pure broadness of this answer really doesn’t sit well with me. I’m not saying it’s not correct but it’s not exactly useful either. This post will delve into this question with a little more focus on what type of reading to consider and how we will be able to use our reading to our writing advantage.
What do you like to write?
This is the first question you need to ask yourself. You might like to write a specific genre, ie. thriller, romance etc, or you may prefer to write for a particular audience. Are you writing for a male, female audience for example? Or do you perhaps like to write for a younger audience? Whatever your answer is to this question, this is the type of reading that will help you. If you would like to write romantic YA novel, then that is the genre you know you need to read more. By doing this, you will soon begin to acknowledge what you find gripping and therefore what your readers will find gripping. You might even discover a technique that you really despise and know definitely what NOT to do in your own work.
Whether you like or dislike the book – learn from it.
Just because you did not enjoy reading a certain book, doesn’t mean that you can’t learn from it. I once read a book that was given to me as a gift. At first I thought I would enjoy it but the author kept going off track to explain the characters backgrounds. It was really annoying but I persevered and realised afterwards that my books need to be more concise and fast paced. Quick task: Have a look through your books on your bookshelf and consider what you didn’t like about them. Was it plot, the way the characters were presented to you, or was it unrealistic? Once you have done this, consider what would have made it a better read. Whatever you think the improvements should be, take that advice and include it within your own writing. Remember you have been a reader here and have been disappointed with the outcome – only you as a reader can put that right by doing so in your own writing.
Learn from your heroes.
If you have a favourite author you jump to when you pick up a new book, consider what you like about them. You might like the author because of how they grab your attention within the first few paragraphs, or you may find their dialogue really engaging. Here is were you can learn from them. If you struggle with dialogue for example, pick a scene that your author has created the demonstrates a great conversation. Now begin to analyse what makes their writing so engaging. Is it the word choice, the action that is placed in-between the conversation or perhaps it just seems effortless? Keep this scene in front of you and then have a go at mimicking this style in a scene of your own writing. You may find that this really helps you with your dialogue, you may even think that it doesn’t sound like you – and that’s okay. That just shows that you already know your own writing style.
Write a book review
Writing a book review can really help you understand the main themes of a book and help you consider how these can impact your own work. Sometimes when writing it can be easy to get lost in the genre you’re writing. However if you read a book in the genre you are wanting to write, you will be able to acknowledge any underlying themes that occur in this genre. Writing a review also helps you analyse plot, pacing and characterisation in greater detail. Sometimes the author can even write in such a way that the characters take over and drive the rest of the plot forward. However it is only with writing a book review that all of the authors hard labour of writing the book can be acknowledged.
By doing all of the above, the concept of ‘read more’ seems more solidified to me. Ultimately you can interpret the answer to the original question whichever you like. However I stand by that the concept of reading more was to be subjective to a writer’s own interpretation to their chosen genre. Feel free to have a go at my suggestions and let me know if they work for you.
We’ve all wondered and perhaps researched how to get better at writing. However why is it that we are told to read more to become a better writer? I suppose you may have heard of advice such as ‘just write’ too? Writing to become a better writer is easier to make sense of; it’s possible to understand that writing regularly will help with keeping a writing routine. It may even help with your creativity and ideas. Yet why is it that when we look to our favourite authors for help, we are always told to read more? I mean you might read ten books a day; the truth is, they don’t know how much you read. So how do you know if your reading is effective? This post hopes to discover what people mean when they say that reading improves your writing.
So, what is considered ‘reading’? This could have many different meanings to everyone. For some, reading may imply reading fiction, to others it may mean reading articles and newspapers. It could even mean reading another’s body language! My point, is that although there are many forms of ‘reading,’ they all have something in common. The common ground between the meanings I have displayed is awareness. If for example, you were wanting to write a romance novel, then being aware of different styles and plots within that genre will help you to write better. If you were wanting to write a piece on culture and society, then articles and newspapers will make you more aware of societal views and thus make your writing better. So please, don’t just read a book for the sake of it. Find out what it is you need to be more aware of (styles, genres etc) and read with this in mind. Your writing will be better before you know it!
Okay so now the big question- how much reading is too much reading? I suppose you never really can have done enough reading, however if you’re reading all day, then when would you find the time to write? This may sound very clichéd but… whenever you’re ready. I don’t know about you but even I find it difficult to read a book and then continue to write. I find my new ideas that I think are genius, are really just a different version of the book I am reading. Sound familiar? Whereas if you are reading to learn more about a writing style or genre, then once you feel like an expert in that field, should you write. It may not be perfect at first but this is where that other famous piece of writing advice comes in. Write more. The best way to find if you’re ready to write is, pardon the pun, to write it down. The ‘it’ however referring to your knowledge. If you think of reading as a form of research, write down anything that you believe is valuable to your writing. Once you have collected all of that information, ask yourself, have you done enough reading?
We always knew that reading and writing would equate to quality writing. Only now I hope that it is a little easier to understand. Please feel free to comment below as I’d love to hear everyone’s thoughts on the subject.
It’s sadly true that some people are just plain scared of self-publishing. I mean really when you think about it, who to best sell your book than… well… you?
Although self-publishing has been on the rise for the past few years, titles and genres have been blurred so much that sometimes it can be hard to look or even, be original. With this I’m referring to ebooks; when you scroll down amazon or the book store on iTunes, you begin to notice how similar all of the books look. After scrolling to page 16, well, I don’t know about you but I sometimes feel like the first page is just repeating itself. It’s because of this that it can seem daunting to self-publish.
I mean lets face it, the person that knows your novel the best is you right? So why is it that many of us want agents or publishing houses to help get our novel noticed?
Expertise? Of your own novel?
Now let that just sink in… you want an expert in your novel that you wrote…
A lot of the time we know the truth but we are too scared to make the first move. We can market our book the best but ultimately, we leave it for someone else to do because we doubt ourselves.
If we believed that we could deliver good marketing techniques to our book to give it great sales and publicity, would we do it? Absoloutely. Dare we try it? Not a chance.
I partly think that we all think like this because of two reasons. We either:
A: Want an agent or publisher to tell us that they think it’s good enough to publish (aka, tell us our writing is good!)
B: Are scared to put our all into marketing our book because we don’t want to fail in either marketing or writing.
Yes it can be a tough one to call sometimes, but the best advice I can give is to think of all that hard work you’ve done. Do you really not want to share it with the world?
If you don’t attempt to get it seen then it never will be.
This concept is something that I’ve been battling with for quite a while. However after much deliberation and looking for a publisher, I have decided that I could do a better job. I know that I believe in my piece and want the world to read it. Whether people pay for it, is another question, but I would love for people to see how much hard work I’ve put in to it.
So without further ado, I’m going into self-publishing… are you?
This post was originally published on my Medium page. Check it out here.