Where do you get your ideas from?
Everywhere, anywhere – ideas can come from all over; a photo, a news article, the snippet of a conversation, a dream, a lyric in a song, a mood you’re in, a creaking floorboard when you’re home alone, a moth dancing against the window and a million other places.
Writers tend to see the world a little differently, what others may see as normal or even mundane, a writer might see as the spark of an idea that then grows.
I have found ideas in bizarrely random places – the idea itself might be a character trait or a fantastical monster… but from this one thing I have then built up worlds around them. In the end, the story may resemble very little from the original spark.
Do you know the end of a book when you start writing them?
Yes and no. For my Belle Mort series, I had an idea how the end of the 1st book would be when I was still early in the writing / planning / researching stage. As the story and characters have developed and I realised that it would cover more than one book I started to toy with ideas of how the series would end but it was still very vague and fluid.
However I have found that I can’t tie myself too tightly to endings, because the path can veer off and I can end up somewhere else – new ideas and character changes can all shift a story into another direction. If I tie myself too hard to an ending, I find I can change the tone of a story not for the better just because I’m trying to make the ending fit. It’s like pushing a circle block, into a square hole.
For my Dark Hart series, I have done less “story writing” and more “scene writing”. I have put my main characters into many different situations to see how they work. From this I have enough material that will span several books, each of these book ideas are pretty vague at the moment and so for them – I have no endings. But as with Belle Mort, I will attempt to structure some form of ending before I am half way through writing it.
What is the hardest part of writing a novel?
Getting started. This is the main reason I write sporadically across my novel rather than linearly. Once I’m sat and writing, it almost always just flows and flows.
Another hard part of writing is self-editing. Some writers find it very productive and useful, I find it useful to a point, but if I go beyond that point I can self-edit so much that I don’t actually do any new writing! I constantly need to watch myself for this very bad habit.
What are you currently working on?
I am currently re-writing my first book in my Dark Hart series, which is a preternatural urban fantasy. I wrote the book years ago but things have changed so I technically trashed it and have been completely re-writing it.
Do you base your characters on real people?
No, my characters are all fictitious, though a physical or personality trait may be borrowed from someone and then developed. This does not make the characters “based” on anyone. It’s like adding one ingredient into a cake mix. If I add a pinch of salt, it doesn’t make the cake a “salt” cake.
It is NEVER a good idea to base characters on real people, this can cause problems and even legal issues.
It is also NEVER a good idea to base a character on yourself. As well as being a little narcissistic, these are often the characters that end up being Mary Sues / Marty Stus. So just don’t do it!
How do you choose character names and novel titles?
Usually I will hear a name or see one in the credits of movies. Just a first or last name or something that catches my eye. If the character is already created and just waiting for a name, the right one can just spark as “the one”.
But I also have a list of names I like that have not yet been given to characters. So if I am really stuck, I scroll through that list to see if anything works.
How do you handle writer’s block?
Badly! Here are my tips on dealing with, what I call, Creative Constipation.
How do you schedule your workday?
I’m up at 6.30am, yoga, breakfast, drop my SO off for work, then at my desk by 7:45am and on days when I’m writing (and not running my shop) I have a word count I like to have completed. If I start flagging I go for a walk around mid-day. I try and stay writing most of the day, usually finishing up around 4pm.
I also have days when I work on other aspects of the writing biz, such as building up my marketing plan, research, brainstorming etc.
Would you read my (story / comic / play / memoirs / grocery list…) and tell me what you think of it?
If you are asking me to be a Beta Reader or Critique Partner then leave me a message and we can discuss it.
Due to limited time, I am cautious about accepting the obligation of reading someone’s work. Firstly I need to make sure I am your actual target audience. Recently I’ve had people ask me to read work that is not even remotely something I would read – makes giving feedback / critique very difficult.
Secondly I like to be able to give my time to your work and I don’t often have loads of time. I write stories, post to this blog and run my own business, so time, thin on the ground!
However check out my Tutorial List page, as it has a wealth of articles I’ve written on different writing topics/techniques that you might find useful.
What do you think about fan-fiction? Could I write fan-fiction based on your characters or set in your worlds?
I’m actually not a fan of fan-fiction. I like writers who write their own stories and create their own characters.
I’m sorry but I don’t give permission for fan-fiction to be written about my characters, races or set within the worlds I create.
If you enjoy writing you would gain more pleasure creating your own characters and worlds. My work and characters is very personal to me and I do not want people using them like that.
If you like writers, respect their wishes.
How about role-playing games / MUDS / LARPS based on your work?
Sorry, but no. I do not give permission for my worlds, races and/or characters to be created or used in this way.
I really want to be a writer, what tips can you give me?
First, keep writing. If you want it, you got to work for it. This is not easy but it’s worth it. Expect your first draft to be shit, edit, repeat. Don’t just write something and fling it out for self publishing. Be proud of what you create and give it the time it deserves.
Second, believe in yourself. Don’t expect everyone else to be your cheerleader, people can be jerks and some love to tear others down. So you need to believe passionately in what you do.
Third, learn. Keep learning new techniques, study the business side of writing. It’s not all sitting in coffee shops on your laptop. You have to wear a lot of hats if you want to be a writer (marketer, editor, book keeper, researcher etc).
Don’t rush. Just because someone else wrote and published a novel in 3 months, doesn’t mean you use. Hone your skill, build your brand, plan your strategy and reach out to other writers who may be able to help or guide you.
What are your thoughts on Writing Circles?
I don’t use them but that is partially because there aren’t really any near me. Many writers find them to be a big help. In the end it’s a personal preference. If you are undecided the best advice would be to join one and see how you like it. If you decide it’s not for you, then leave.
How do I get started writing?
You need an idea, it can be a character, plot, scene etc – but you need that spark to then build on. Take some time to brainstorm with that spark, figure out what you want to do with it.
You don’t need a full plot or a whole cast of characters, just get an idea and start writing about it. This can help just to you into the habit of writing.
Eventually you will need to plot, plan, structure etc but if your idea is still very small, just do a little writing to flesh it out.
Build discipline with your writing, write consistently either daily, weekly, at the same time… something to form a habit.
What do I do once I’ve written my story?
First you edit it. Edit the crap out of it. Check dialogue, consistency, voice, description. Then edit and check for spelling and grammar. Then edit again. Give it at least four good edits.
Then get yourself a Critique Partner if possible and have them read it. A CP should be a writer, you need another writer’s eye to go over it.
Once they’ve given you their feedback, make any changes you want and then get yourself some Beta Readers – these are readers, people who would technically be your target audience. Get them to read it, ask them questions, listen to their feedback. Again make changes to your manuscript based on their feedback if you think it’s prudent.
Ask all these people to be honest. Sugar coating it to make you feel better will do you no favours as a writer.
Then you need to look at professional editors. Yes, being a writer costs money but it’s worth it. There are different editors, Structural Editors, Copy Editors, Line Editors. You may want to use all or just some. But don’t pay for an editor until you’ve done the earlier steps as this will just end up costing you more.
You should do all this well before you even consider publishing your book!
Do you use social media for marketing?
Not as much as I probably should. I am not a big fan of social media and have been shocked to follow writers who seem only interested in telling me how often they go to the gym or what food they are eating.
Personally mundane stuff like that does nothing for me and I certainly don’t want to end up doing anything like that to my followers.
I have a marketing plan drafted for when my novel is ready to be released into the world. In the end, like a plan for your book, you need to be thoughtful and strategic with your marketing too.
In the end while marketing is important, you need to remember you are a writer and your readers will want books from you, not inane updates about nothing. Your best marketing tool is your book. But it shouldn’t be your ONLY marketing tool.
I like my blog as I can give back, helping other writers with tips and also supporting them with guest posts.
How do I deal with bad reviews?
Firstly, reviews are not for writers, they are for other readers. You will always get some negatives. Even your favourite authors will have there fair share of negatives.
Make sure you edit and polish your manuscript, get it checked by Betas and CPs. Even if you are self publishing go through these stages and then pay for a professional edit!
Don’t use reviews for getting feedback on what didn’t work. That should come in the betas/CP stage. If you use reviews for that, it’s too late.
Get someone else to read your reviews, they can then tell you all the good ones. You don’t need to know about the bad ones. After all, everyone is different and it is most likely just someone’s personal opinion on what they didn’t like. Let it go.
As my work is not yet published I haven’t got any reviews, though as a business owner that gets reviewed, the one or two, not great reviews I’ve had do leave me cranky. Because we’re human and no one likes to hear people talk shit about them. (I am thankful that almost all of my reviews are 4-5 stars)
Do I need an author website?
Yes, I personally believe you do. I covered this topic in a blog post, you can find it here.
Are you on Facebook?
Shockingly, despite my not-being-a-fan of social media, I am on Facebook. I only really use my Author Page.
What do you do outside of writing?
I enjoy reading, I have a large book collection that keeps growing. There is truth in the saying “No such thing as too many books, just too few shelves.”
I am quite crafty (as in I can make crafts), I make jewellery for my online shop. I have turned my hand at pottery and archery. I love movies, especially really bad ones. Getting out into nature, especially on the beach near us.
Please keep checking back, this page will continually be updated.
Have a question you want answering? Contact me and I may just add it here 🙂