Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Planning, Targets and Rules

Happy New Year everybody!

For me, the first week of January is a time for planning, setting new work schedules and being specific about what I want to achieve by the end of the year - a habit I developed during my teaching years. I usually set myself five main targets and try to be SMART  (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely) about them.

Throughout the planning process, I consider what lessons I learned throughout the last year – the most poignant of 2016 being to plan the editing process more efficiently. Not only did I misjudge the amount of time needed for completing the rewrites of my novel (it is the first and no doubt I’ll get quicker in time), but I also assumed that my editor could slot my work in when I wanted it done – oops! More forward planning is featuring heavily on my planner, which in turn sets me more deadlines – a good thing for someone who is easily distracted.

My five targets for this year, in no particular order, are:

  • To publish my d├ębut crime novel

  • To finish creating my website and go live

  • To complete, edit and publish my mystery novella

  • To build up a mailing list

  • To complete the first draft of my second crime novel

Whatever your aims or aspirations are for this year, writerly or not, I wish you all the best.

Today is also the first posting of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group of 2017.  The IWSG is a safe place for writers to express their fears and insecurities in a supportive environment. Join us at And don't forget to sign up for the IWSG Newsletter - it's filled with great advice written by writers for writers.   

This month's IWSG Reflective Question: What writing rule do you wish you’d never heard?

For me, there is none. Naturally there are rules I ignore, rules that I’ve learned from but unless we hear opinions, guidelines and preferred procedures, we cannot make informed decisions of our own.

Wishing all at IWSG a successful and prosperous new year, filled with lots of great books and stories!

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Share with a Smile

Wishing all my readers and writing friends a very happy festive season. This year has been such fun and I've met so many incredible people through blogging - I feel blessed. As a thank you, my book of short stories will be free to download from Thursday 15th December till Sunday 18th December. Just click on the icon to the right and enjoy.

Happy Holidays!

I am taking a break to spend time with my family and look forward to seeing you all again in the new year.

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Take Action - An IWSG Post

Today is the first Wednesday of the month:  Insecure Writer's Support Group blog! The IWSG is a safe place for writers to express their fears and insecurities in a supportive environment. Join us at And don't forget to sign up for the IWSG Newsletter - it's filled with great advice written by writers for writers.  

This month's IWSG Reflective Question: 
 In terms of your writing career, where do you see yourself five years from now, and what’s your plan to get there?

My five year plan began in January 2014, and the end goal is to make a living from my fiction writing by the time I’m 50 years old – the timing works out perfectly (with a couple of months leeway).

In order to achieve that goal, I haven’t set a rigid schedule but rather a plan of action – I am constantly asking myself, what do I need to do in order to achieve my goal?  Here are some of the things I’ve done so far:

  • Completed two reputable writing courses – met a fantastic tutor who is now  a life-long friend
  • Attended and completed a residential writing course at Chez Castillon in France
  • Created a writing blog
  • Read lots of books – fiction and non-fiction
  • Participated in online writing webinars,  with Joanna Penn, Anne Rainbow, Nick Stephenson, and others
  • Subscribed to writing magazines to keep up-to-date with what’s going on
  • Attended Chipping Norton Literary Festival 2014 – networking with other authors
  • Attended Frankfurt Book Fair 2015
  • Participated in the subscribers sections of the writing magazines – letters published
  • Written a crime novel – to be published 2017
  • Found a lovely editor for my novel – almost finished with the rewrites
  • Written short stories for competitions – some level of success
  • Written short stories for the UK women magazine market – nothing published yet
  • Self-published a book of short stories – July 2016 on Amazon
  • Made some amazing writing friends
  • Researched marketing and how to market a book effectively – this is an ongoing process

The journey is challenging – but anything worth having usually is. Not only am I learning a lot about the craft and self-publishing but also about the necessary emotional skills needed to succeed in the writing world (those dreaded rejections).

Do I believe I will achieve my goal? Yes, I do – if I continue to learn, progress and work hard. The great thing is, whenever my confidence falters, I can rely on my extended family and writing friends for encouragement – and I hope I inspire others in return.

Have you participated in webinars? Did you find them useful? Do you enjoy going to literary festivals/book fairs? How do you keep yourself up-to-date with what’s going on in the writing world?

Wishing you all a super festive month and happy writing!

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Exploring the Vulnerability of Characters

Thanks to Pixabay for the image!

Getting to know the characters we write is crucial in creating a credible and believable story We need well-rounded people whose voices are clear and consistent. There are heaps of ‘how to’ books out there – some more intellectual than others (I’ve probably read most of them over the years).

When formulating my characters, I start with the basics, which you can read about here from the Writers Workshop (a great ‘normal speak’ article) and then I like to go deeper and have some real fun. I love to explore their vulnerabilities. Here are 5 things I’ve done in the past to get a deeper understanding of the people in my stories.
  1. Drop them into a situation way out of their comfort zone and see how they cope – Eg: How would Jack Reacher cope as a trainee cook in Hell’s Kitchen with Gordon Ramsey?
  2. An interview with Oprah – what would be revealed? Would they jump on the couch like Tom Cruise or really open their hearts to reveal something that’s been hidden for decades.
  3. Put them face to face with one of their fears – a room filled with spiders, lock them in a confined space, make them look over the edge of the tallest building. Do they conquer their fear or wither into despair?
  4. Take away their vice: cigarettes, alcohol, chocolate, etc – what emotions do they experience? What do they do instead of smoking, drinking, eating? Do their lives become more fulfilled or do they give up and revert to old habits?
  5. Book them on a parabolic flight (Zero-G). Would they actually turn up at the airfield? How would they feel on the way up? Would they throw up on the way down? Would they want to do it again? What fun! (And because it’s make believe, it doesn’t cost a cent.)
There are so many ways to really get to know your characters. Without doing the basics before you start writing your novel, many inconsistencies will show up – and the editor (or worse, the reader) will pick up on every one of them. So my advice: do the legwork and build your characters so that they stand up, fully formed. But most importantly, never forget to have fun!

What do you do to get to know your characters?

Happy Thanksgiving to all my American friends!