FAQs

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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?

Yes and no. For my Belle Mort series, I had an idea of 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.

I also have two other active WIPs – The Blessed and A Coming Storm.  You can keep up with all my current writings here.

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?

To be updated.

Advice

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, bookkeeper, researcher etc).

Fourth, read this blog.  I try and update this blog a few times a week, offering advice, techniques on everything from writing to marketing to business.

Don’t rush.  Just because someone else wrote and published a novel in 3 months, doesn’t mean you should.  In fact, I really don’t recommend that.

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 partly 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.

Remember they are meant to be supportive and encouraging.  If all you are getting is nasty comments or put-downs (different from constructive criticism) then don’t stay.

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?

I do in small quantities.  I’m on several platforms, however, my main ones are Twitter followed by Facebook and Instagram.  These are the places I’m most active on.

I find social media to be quite dull, often it’s people telling me often they go to the gym or what food they are eating.

I am currently building my followings on these platforms and 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 book reviews, though as a business owner I do receive reviews.

As these are different than book reviews, the (thankfully) very few times I’ve received a less than stellar review, I step back, rant and moan about it privately, then when I’m calm and collected see if the review is valid and something I need to fix.

I never complain to the reviewer and when I leave a public response I remember that response if just as much for the next buyer as for the current one.  I keep it polite and professional.

Do I need an author website?

Yes, I personally believe you do, for many reasons.

I covered this topic in a blog post, you can find it here.  This post goes into why I think you should have one as well as what you need to include on your website.

Image of speechbubbles.

Would you read my (story/comic/play/memoirs/grocery list…) and tell me what you think of it?

Due to limited time, I am cautious about blanket accepting the obligation of reading everyone’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. That just wastes my time and theirs.

Secondly, I like to be able to give my time to your story.  As I write novels, post to this blog and run my own business, my time can be 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.

If you are asking me to be a Beta Reader or Critique Partner, you can message me and I’ll let you know if I have a slot open.  I do Beta/Critique for a few people so am not always available to add more to my list.

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 do not 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 in creating your own characters and worlds.  My work and characters are 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.

Other

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.

I like gardening and photography and playing random board games.

 

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 🙂

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