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Showing posts from November, 2019

NaNoWriMo Day 30 - What Next?

Saturday 30th November - What Next?

Wow! We've made it to the end of NaNoWriMo.  If you managed your 50,000 words: Congratulations!  If you managed to get off the starting block: Congratulations!  Whatever anyone tells you, there is nothing easy about writing a book.  Even when you enjoy it, it's still hard work.

So, what happens next?  Here's what Crowvus suggests:

Have a party - you've deserved it! And, by the way, a party only needs to have as few or as many people as you want.  My favourite parties have been family affairs.  It's important to be proud of yourself, and to celebrate your success.Revisit your novel - I suggest you re-read the whole thing.  Pick up and iron out any continuity issues and correct any typos you spot, but don't go through looking for them.  Proofreading comes later.Find your First Reader - for advice on this you can read our Day 15 blog.Rerevisit your novel - decide which of the First Reader's comments you want to build on and m…

NaNoWriMo Day 29 - Endings

Friday 29th November - Endings

Well, we're pretty much at the end of NaNoWriMo!  If you're anything like me, you'll be wondering where the last month has gone!  It might seem strange to have the penultimate blog on endings, but hopefully this just proves that the end of your book is not the end of the adventure!



On the first blog, I spoke about the importance of beginning a book well and how - in many ways - it's the most important part.  Endings are equally important, but for a totally different reason.  You don't have to hook anyone in, you want to give them a satisfactory ending for the characters they've invested in.

One thing I realised, after several years(!), is that happy endings are never going to be exclusive.  As readers, we invest so much in characters, so by the end what we're really looking for is a contented ending.  The reader will be as lost without these characters as you are, so give them an ending full of hope.  This could be with a ster…

NaNoWriMo Day 28 - Book Covers

Thursday 28th November - Book Covers



The first thing that people see of your book is the book spine. The next thing is the book cover. Then the back cover, with the blurb, then a sample of pages. Your book has to pass the test each time in order to be bought.

When I teach my class about book spines, and book covers, I explain how a reader will subconsciously try and persuade themselves not to buy the book. It's a crazy thing!

So, while it's important to write a fantastic book, it's also important to ensure you have the correct cover.

Now, I'm not going to say that you can't design the cover yourself. I seen some fantastic homemade covers...but I've also seen some terrible ones. The first piece of advice is one of the best:

* Look at other book covers in your genre!

Covers portray a certain type of book, so pay particular attention to books in the same genre that you write. Obviously don't copy, but look through some of the bestselling books and see if you c…

NaNoWriMo Day 27 - Formatting

Wednesday 27th November - Formatting

We're getting to the end of NaNoWriMo now. I'm just about on track to complete the 50 000 words by the end of Saturday, but it's been a real trial.

I start so many things that I give up on, so I am thrilled that I have stuck with NaNoWriMo in my very first year of doing it. I think part of the reason is my sister who completed her word count earlier on in the month. She's been very supportive, but also...I just don't want her to beat me!

So, when you've actually finished your book...in fact, when you've finished editing and redrafting, and then editing, and proofreading, and then editing your book, you have to start thinking about putting it out there in book form.

For the sake of this blog, I have concentrated on formatting ebooks.

Now, there's no reason to reinvent the wheel. There are programmes out there which help you format your ebook manuscript, and the best one I've found is Calibre.

Available here, this

NaNoWriMo Day 26 - Categorising and Genres

Tuesday 26th November - Categorising and Genres



It's important for readers and writers to understand a little bit about genres. It means that a writer can tailor their work to readers, and it means that a reader can have a good guess of whether they'll enjoy a certain book.

There are certain tropes that people expect from certain genres, so make sure you know what they are before categorising your book. For example, if you're writing Romance then you need to make sure that the couple get together at the end of the book. Oh, and they've got to have some troubles along the way too, of course!

By all means, kick back against the trend and defy stereotypes, but if you don't stick to certain tropes then you may end up with disgruntled readers.

Important Notes


A book can be more than one genres. I categorise Taking Wing as Fantasy Adventure, therefore combining the genres of Fantasy and Adventure.Middle grade, young adult or new adult are not genres. They're age catego…

NaNoWriMo Day 25 - Reading Aloud - Audio Books?

Monday 25th November - Reading Aloud - Audio Books?

Some books are better read aloud. I love reading books which are filled with sumptuous language, so that I can hear the narrator's voice and it just wraps me up in the language. And if you love hearing a book, you'd love talking about it too! And, let's face it, that's what every author dreams of achieving.


Audio books are on the rise. They're a fantastic addition to the an author's CV, but they can also cost an arm and a leg to secure. To a self-published author this expense is almost unobtainable. But here's a few ideas of how to make it happen:

Make every word count - Your audio book need not feature every word you wrote in your print book. Most companies or individuals charge according to the word count, so make sure each word counts!Can you beat the author as the narrator? - Give some consideration to the thought your reader might like to hear your voice reading the book. It may not be the best recordi…

NaNoWriMo Day24 - Settings and Locations - Part Three - Urban Landscape

Sunday 24th November - Settings and Locations - Part Three - Urban Landscape



When I was parked outside our local doctor's practice, quite some years ago now, I started thinking about the skyline across the river from where I was sitting. For anyone who's never been to Wick - which I imagine are most people - it is a town which boomed in the nineteenth century, and it has the architecture to match. Being me, the first thing which occurred to me was: "which of my characters would manage to run across that skyline?" After that, I started thinking about urban landscapes in a different way. Instead of starting from the bottom, I thought about my landscapes from the top downwards.

No two towns are the same. I'm not amazingly well travelled at all, but I love exploring different places. A good number of years ago, I did a city tour of Germany. Every one of the cities I visited was different, and each gave me inspiration for a totally different story. It was as though th…

NaNoWriMo Day 23 - Characters: Part Four - Conflicts

Saturday 23rd November - Characters - Part Four – Conflicts
On Scrivener – my writing programme of choice – two of the headings on the character sketch pages is for internal and external conflicts. This is so important and will tell your readers all they need to know about the defining behaviours of your characters. You can take this as literally as you like.


Back when Facebook was still young (and I was much younger!), all those quizzes to find which character in X series you were most like were about the coolest thing you could do, they could have been summed up in two questions.What are your internal conflicts? and What are your external conflicts?If you could match these two questions to a character, you were definitely the most like them, never mind your eye colour or favourite animal.
In writing, outward conflicts are the easiest to convey.Character A dislikes B because of C.These show clear signs to the reader through the POV narrator, by their actions or words.It’s harder with…

NaNoWriMo Day 22 - Illustrations

Friday 22nd November – Illustrations
I respond best to visual learning styles. I’m always looking for pictures. Whether it’s a pre-existing landscape just begging to be photographed, or the words of a writer on the page calling out to be transformed into art.


I’m not the best artist in the world, but I can make a decent attempt at drawing. But the hardest thing about illustrating a book is pleasing the author, while the hardest thing about having your own work illustrated is relinquishing your hold on it.


So, what I tend to do now is wait to be asked to illustrate things, or else I illustrate my own stories. Over the last few years, I’ve offered to illustrate people’s favourite poems for National Poetry Day, and this year I had my first published illustrations in “Rosie Jane and the Swadgrump”. When we launched the book in the school, the thing which most impressed the children was how I’d managed to do the characters' hair(!) and how I’d reproduced the same character, from scratc…

NaNoWriMo Day 21 - Night Vision: Writing Night Scenes

Thursday 21st November - Night Vision: Writing Night Scenes When I’m looking for inspiration for my writing, one of the best times of day is when I'm walking the dog. Not so much at the weekends, because then I walk in broad daylight (which is fantastic in its own way), but weekday nights. Last night, I got home from work early and celebrated having an excess of energy by taking Orlando out on one of the longest town walks he's had in a long time. When I'm out walking the dog in the dark, I find that complete extracts of stories just seem to come to me, or I'll suddenly work out whatever I’ve been struggling with for a while.
I remember walking through Wick in early December last year and passing a house where they had their Christmas lights up. It’s not far from where we live and they always have tasteful fairy lights in the window at Christmas. As I walked past in the anaemic streetlight glow, I realised that the lights weren't the only decorations: outside the d…

NaNoWriMo Day 20 - Soundtracks: The Role of Music

Wednesday 20th November - Am I on the Wrong Track?


My Twitter bio tells all interested parties that I'm a lover of opera. I am. But I can't listen to it when I'm writing. I also enjoy folk music. But I can't listen to that either. In fact, I can't listen to anything with words. The words distract me. Even words delivered in a language I don't understand, distract me. There is someone's story there and it isn't my story so, while I'm writing my story, I focus on that alone. What DO I listen to when I'm writing? I listen to my favourite classical pieces - no words - the ones I have always loved. Chopin's piano sonata no.2 in B flat minor is a treasure and is always able to inspire me. It's known as the funeral march but the part everyone recognises as such is empty on its own. When you take it as part of the whole it is priceless. His nocturnes are capable of great things for me too. Music which trips along the sinews and twists and turns w…

NaNoWriMo Day 19 - Writing Animals

Tuesday 19th November - Writing Animals

Most of my books feature an animal or two because, for the most part, we all have some sort of interaction with animals. Sometimes it's as a pet, sometimes in a working capacity, sometimes just admiring them in nature. Because so many of us have formed bonds with animals, you can't miss them out of your writing.


The most important thing to remember is that animals are individuals as much as humans. There are certain traits applied to certain animals, many accurate, some unjustly awarded. But it's always good to throw a few oddities into a story. Look at Mowgli being raised by wolves, and yet in fairy tales we're told wolves are scary and threatening. As people's relationship with nature changes, our perception of it changes, too.

Take my dog, Orlando, as an example... He's a typical spaniel. He never stops on walks; he's always far more interested in smells than anything else (except possibly balls in motion); he chas…

NaNoWriMo Day 18 - Publishing - Self, Indie, Traditional

Which Way to Go?

I managed to claw my way back up to the line on my Nanowrimo word count graph. Having said that, I've done no writing today so I know what I'll be doing after this blog!

Firstly, I want to say that there is no obligation for you to publish your writing whatsoever! Don't let anyone tell you that if you choose not to be published, you're not a real writer. That is a load of...cobblers! You've written, haven't you? You've written a book? Then you're a writer, whether you're published or not.
If you do go down the publishing route, then best of luck to you! It's incredibly hard work, no matter which way you go. In this blog, I will be listing a basic pro and con list of each method. If you'd like more detail, then say in the comments.
Self-Publishing
More and more authors are choosing to self-publish for numerous reasons.
Pros You have complete control. Over everything! Content, cover, marketing, formattingNo painful long waits t…

NaNoWriMo Day 17 - Pace of Writing

Sunday 17th November 2019 - Pace of Writing
I obsess over graphs.I blame my dad – he was a maths teacher.So it’s perhaps unsurprising that my page of choice on the NaNoWriMo website is the Stats page.One of the reasons I’ve fought against doing NaNoWriMo for so long is because I have an obsessive nature and, when I start on something, I won’t let go until it’s done.But thanks to a combination of NaNoWriMo and my obsessive gene, I’ve already completed one novel and I’m zooming through the second.

One aspect I’ve really enjoyed is competing in writing sprints with two of my NaNoWriMo buddies (who are also my sisters!).Being highly competitive, we write for 20 minutes to see who can write the most words.I always lose.No, I mean ABSOLUTELY always lose.But it doesn’t matter because writing sprints have got me past some of the trickiest parts in my books, just because I want to be writing something.

My favourite graph is the one which give you the predicted line.  I like to know what I’m ai…

NaNoWriMo Day 16 - Characters - Part Three - Nature/Nurture

Saturday 16th November - Characters - Part Three - Nature/Nurture

In some way, all my creative writing reflects my fascination with the nature or nurture debate. As one of six children, I've seen how people can have the same upbringing, the same love, the same nurturing and the same opportunities, and yet turn out to be very different people with very different interests and skillsets. In The Backwater, I enjoyed exploring the similarities between Rebecca and the father she's only meeting when she’s twelve years old. Dance With Me – the book which is coming out next year – is about someone who's going around developing new relationships rather than being with the ones nature has provided her with.