Review of the Year or What the Hell was That?

I think it’s safe to say most of the reviews this year will be asking ‘WTF?’ Political and world events seemed to just be one cataclysmic event after the other. And on a personal level, I’ve had a couple of ‘WTF’ moments too. I won’t miss this year one bit.

But for me, there have been good moments too. The biggest thing was, of course, the publication of my first e-book. After writing stories for twenty-six odd years, I finally have a full-length piece of my work out there for people to read. No matter what happens next year, I did it and now I have, I intend to keep going. I’m currently editing a bunch of short stories for the next book whilst planning the one after that, another full-length novel. I’m working to finally establish that I am a writer – in my mind if nothing else.

Thanks to everyone I know and everyone who follows this blog or my social media accounts. Thanks for being there, for helping me, for encouraging me when I needed it and for reading my book!

To my fellow writers wherever you are in life or career, keep going. Keep sending those words out. Keep speaking even if you feel silenced. Stories are the lifeblood of us all, whether we’re reading them on the page or being part of them via Virtual Reality goggles.

We are all stories. See you on the flip side.

 

Liked that? Try these…

6 Reasons Why you Might want to Buy my Book
Writers Who Inspire me

 

 

5 Ways to Promote your E-book

Hand holding ebook

If you want people to read your e-book, you’ll need to do some ‘metaphorical’ legwork. And if, like me, you’re new to all this and aren’t sure where to start, here’s some basic (and free) ways to promote your e-book.

1. Add yourself as an author on Goodreads

Goodreads is like Trip Advisor for books and I’m sure most of you are on their already talking, reviewing and generally loving books. But did you know they have an Author profile? Add your own book to Goodreads and claim it as your own and bingo – you’re a Goodreads Author! You don’t need an ISBN either.

2. Promote your book with Writers Online ‘Subscriber Showcase’

I’ve subscribed to the Writing Magazine for years and as the biggest writing mag in the UK, it has some clout. So when I found that they’ll add your book to their online Subscriber Showcase free for two months if you’re a subscriber, I was all over it. They’ll also add you if you’re not a subscriber but you would need to pay a small fee.

3. Schedule your social media promotion with an app

There are plenty of apps to help you juggle your social media accounts. Basic help is usually free so you can try things out to see what’s right for you.

I use Buffer and thus far it’s provided what I need to manage my Twitter and Facebook. With their basic service I can set up one message about my book to repeat at a regular interval, in my case once a week. It’s also proved useful to queue up a variety of other messages about other things too. Don’t continuously cry ‘BUY MY BOOK!’ because you will put people off.

4. Got Twitter? Try welcome Direct Messages

Okay, I know not everyone is fond of these – but I’ve actually had some nice conversations because of them and I think they’re a good way to highlight what you’ve got going on. Like with other social promotion, keep if short and personal and not just ‘BUY MY BOOK!’

5. Update your social media and blog bios

If you’ve got a blog, update your ‘About’ page with a link to your book and consider a link on your menu or sidebar as well.

Similarly, pop a link into your social media bios linking to your new book. If you’d rather leave your Twitter bio as it is, try pinning a tweet to the top of your time line instead, so it’s the first one people see visiting your feed.

Got a tip that’s helped you with your own work? Please share in the comments below.

 

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A Visit to Stonehenge

Stonehenge is an icon of the U.K. It’s been written about, drawn, photographed, filmed and mythologised to such a degree it’s not possible to add much to what’s already been created about it.

It’s not cheap to visit the stones, which is understandable I suppose, given it’s one of the most famous sites on the planet. There’s a good visitors centre, with a 360 display of the stones to make up for the fact you can’t walk among them anymore. This centre also houses a history exhibition and artefacts found at the site.

But, it’s perhaps best to let the pictures speak for themselves. Who else has been to this magnificent place? What were your thoughts?

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“Under this Skin” available to buy on Amazon!

“Under this Skin” ebook is available on Amazon! 

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The link goes to Amazon UK Kbut it’s up on other countries websites too – just search for “Under this Skin”.

And you can borrow it for free if you’re a Kindle Unlimited customer.

If you’re not sure if it’s right for you, check out my blog post 6 Reasons you Might Want to Buy my Book. Plus you can read the first few pages on the posting itself.

So go give it a look!

Visiting Alice Liddells Grave

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Any fan of ‘Alice in Wonderland’ will know that its eponymous heroine is based on a real person. Alice Liddell was the fourth child in the Liddell family. They were friends with Charles Dodgson AKA Lewis Carroll and it was on a boating trip that he whipped up the tale of Alice and the White Rabbit which Alice encouraged him to write down. ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’ were born.

Alice lived most of her life in and around Lyndhurst in the New Forest. And it’s handily not that far away from where I live. It seemed only right that after photographing Lewis Carroll’s final resting place, I should do the same for Alice herself.

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You can find her around the back of the rather grand St Micheal and All Angels. A handy sign points the way. On the headstone, Alice is referred to as ‘Mrs Reginald Hargreaves’, which does jar, but put that down to the times in which she lived.

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The grave itself has a rather lovely white stone memorial. It contrasts with the very apt red and white rose bushes planted inside.

If you’re ever passing through, I would definitely recommend stopping by to  see this charming site.

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Have you got a Colouring Book?

Image of colouring pencils

Adult colouring books are all the rage. And by ‘adult’ I mean they’re more complicated than ones for the kids, not that they’ve got er, ‘adult’ subject matter (maybe yours do, I’m not judging). You can’t walk into a book shop without falling over a table full of them, swoops and curls of black and white, sometimes with a hint of gold to look extra classy.

They seemed to appear as therapy for a range of mental health issues, including simple stress relief. The market for them has certainly exploded over the past couple of years, so there’s definitely a lot of people doing them.

I’ve got an Alice in Wonderland one (‘natch) that I’m working on.

As a child, colouring books were stressful, as my overwhelming perfectionism did away with any ‘fun’ I might have had. Now, older and wiser, I just go with whatever pencil comes out of the box.

Anyone else out there got the colouring book bug?

Where’s the Oddest place you’ve done it?

Write I mean!

On trains and buses, boats and rooftops, beaches, balconies and the bottom of the sea, we writers will do it anywhere (get your minds out of the gutter please!) I’m sure you know what it’s like to have the Muse (or just the need to flex those writing muscles) strike at an unexpected moment.

Personally, the oddest place I’ve done it was a department store. Working 9-5, you can only re-arrange the cushions and lights and mirrors so many times before you start to feel a bit zombified. In the long periods between customers (because no-one buys lights on a Wednesday afternoon), I used scraps of paper we kept for customer notes to scribble out a ghost story set in, yes, a department store.

So, where’s the oddest place you’ve done your writing?

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4 Roadblocks to your Writing – And 4 ways to Steamroll them!

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For every writing problem you have, there is an answer.

Not necessarily an easy answer that involves lamps and Genies but an answer nevertheless.

Here are four common roadblocks that stop you from writing – and four ways to steamroll them flat.

1) I don’t have time to write

When I was younger, there was a TV show about a boy with a watch who could stop time. I think everyone would kill for one of those, writer or not.

You’re allowed to have a busy life, a job, a family, kids, pets and all sorts of other commitments. You’re allowed to have days when you don’t write. Don’t feel bad about them.

But –

the fact remains that your book/short story/poem/screenplay isn’t going to write itself. So you’re going to have to make time. That might mean making a few little sacrifices; you wake up a bit earlier, you write in your lunch break or skip an evening TV show for a couple of hours of writing instead. If you don’t drive on your commute, you could fit in a few words then. Or even keep a notepad in the toilet – multi-tasking to the extreme!

2) I’m just not inspired

You can’t write without inspiration right? Well…actually, you can. People who write for a living don’t have a choice. It may sound mercenary but if you have to, you’ll find something to write about.

If you’re stuck on a scene, skip it and move on. Try editing something you’ve already written. Or go and write something completely different to keep your mind active until you’re ready to go back to your WiP. Blog posts are good!

Physical activity can also get the creative juices flowing. A simple walk can work wonders for the old noggin. A trip to the Library is even better. Grab a book to find your inspiration.

3) I’m not sure my writing is any good

Join the club, we’ve got jackets.

Every writer ever, in the history of writing, has doubted their work or their writing abilities. And not just once either. It’s completely natural. And it may be that what you’re writing on isn’t going to work out.

Step back. Let your work breathe. When you return to it, give it a the once over and, if you decide to scrap it, don’t chuck it entirely. Keep a copy so that if nothing else you can cannibalise it for ‘parts’.

You also need to remind yourself why you writeWhy do these characters dance through your through your head and onto paper? Because they need to. Because you need to. You may not be the next Charles Dickens (I know I’m not), but you will always have to write. 

4) I keep getting distrac-oh a butterfly!

The internet is a wonderful and terrible place. So are Netflix and Instagram  and all the other distractions of the digital age. When you turn on your computer to write, you open up world of procrastination right at your fingertips. I know this. I’ve already been distracted six times in the last paragraph.

Hmm…what was I saying?

You can try swapping your laptop for a pen and paper. But if you’re anything like me, you type faster than you can write anyway. Then you’ll need to get serious and unplug the internet. You can do this literally or by using handy apps from Chrome or Microsoft. Use them to block the Internet on your computer for as long as you need to get things done.
Or try a pair of noise-cancelling headphones, with or without music, to help you focus.

And hide the TV.

What are your top tips to get past major writing difficulties?

 

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An Explanation of the Continuous Necessity

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You write
so that when you fall,
your descent will be arrested,
by a silver net of words
tied in knots
onto the walls.

And you ask,
are they strong enough,
tough enough, tall enough,
what if they just break
so that you crash into
the floor?

So you write
and on you tie them
knots with bows
and knots with snarls,
knots with no one else around them,
knots fixed
into your soul.

For you know
the way you speak
in those tight,
serrated thoughts,
fingers stained with psychic ink,
so permanence
is taught.

And it never
ceases moving,
the story rolls forever,
blind and bullish,
never ending,
minds working
without a hold.

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Music to write to – Badlands by Halsey

A random YouTube mix brought US singer Halsey into my life by way of the video for New Americana. After viewing and listening to a number of her other tracks, I was impressed enough to buy her album ‘Badlands’.

I haven’t enjoyed an album so much in a long time. In fact my only complaint is that it’s too short and left me wanting more. There were no duff tracks, just lyrical pop gems in my opinion. I liked the strong Feminist streak through the album and the songs that dealt with mental illness that Halsey herself has experience of. My highlights are ‘Ghost’ an upbeat but melancholy search for love and ‘Haunting’ which pleads with a lover to stay, even if the relationship is over. ‘Control’ brings up questions of mental health and inner turmoil in disturbing fashion. I can imagine listening to this when writing something with well-defined female characters, perhaps in the Young Adult arena.

If you give it a listen, tell me what you think.