Showing posts from January, 2012

Guest Post: Pam Howes - Conversations With My Characters And Other Ramblings


Guest Post: Lee McAulay - Where Will You Be in Ten Year's Time?

I recently fired up an old PC to rescue a novel from a zip disk, and in doing so I discovered a lot of old web links from ten or eleven years ago, saved onto the disk along with my novel. Reading through these has given me a lot to think about.

I thought about the ten years since I downloaded those links - life events, changes online and in the real world, successes and failures and other experiences. I looked at my meagre achievements as a writer.

And I began to think ten years ahead.

Last year, I wrote twenty short stories, one novella, one-and-a-half novels. I built a new blog up to fifty pages and had an article and a book review published in a niche magazine.

I work a full-time job. Last year I had an allotment garden and a hobby which took me away from home for a couple of weekends and occupied my spare time in the evenings and weekends for months beforehand.

I didn't write nearly as much as I hoped. But I planned my writing around work, around the allotment, around the rest of m…

Do your settings have a 'life' of their own?- by Hywela Lyn

This post has been published in Sparks, A Year In E-Publishing - An Authors Electric Anthology 2011-2012. It has therefore been temporarily reverted to draft status to comply with amazon KDP Select's requirements.


Here's my latest ebook, originally published by Walker Books. It's a thriller, involving two girls who are doubles, a crazy mongrel called Dracula, a fashion designer who's in deep trouble - and some very scary people. The book's set in West Cornwall, in the little coves and inlets around St Just.

To celebrate Chinese New Year - the Year of the Dragon - here are the opening lines of DRAGONCAT, my as-yet unpublished junior novel about a kitten born with extra flaps of skin under its front paws which enable it to glide (a bit like a flying squirrel). The story takes place in and around a small Chinese supermarket in North London.

The kittens were born in a cardboard box. Ma showed them to Wing-Yu after breakfast. Wing-Yu tried to pick one up, but Ma wouldn't let him. "They're much too new," said Ma. "You let me hold Mei-Ling," grumbled Wing-Yu. "Mei-Ling was your sister,' said Ma. "Not the same thing." Wing-Yu noticed the dried ga…

Is it Time for a New Relationship? - Andrew Crofts

My computer, who I mistakenly believed was my friend, thought it would be funny the other night to hide all my documents, just so that it could watch my face when I came down in the morning and discovered them gone. When it realised that I was not going to see the funny side of this merry jape it took umbrage and flatly refused to tell me where they were. In the end I had no option but to take it to see a man who is better than me at disciplining recalcitrant machinery and he agreed to spend a couple of days persuading it to reveal where it had hidden my life’s work and to teach it the error of its ways. I handed it over and returned home alone.

Once my fury at its thoughtless behaviour had abated I found myself missing my friend with an almost physical pain. It is, after all, my closest companion. I probably spend more time with it than I do with my wife, (which is food for thought in itself). As I sat, twiddling my thumbs and thinking of all the work I should be doing, all the messag…

Encouraging your characters to publicise their own books - by Rosalie Warren

Well, why not? I'm a writer - what I do is make things up and write them down. OK, I accept that an author in today's world can't get far without doing at least some of her own publicity. But for me, however much I may enjoy it, publicising and marketing my books will always be a sideline - one I think of as not quite worthy of my best creative energies.

But what if I were to combine the two? That's the thought that struck me a few weeks ago, when I was working on the sequel to my first published novel, Charity's Child (Circaidy Gregory Press, 2008). The main character in the sequel is called Marie-Thérèse, or Marie T, and she is already taking up quite a lot space in my mind, vying for attention with family and friends, as my characters always do.

So why not let her loose? Create an account for her on Twitter and encourage her to tweet (possibly lending her a helping hand to build up her followers by retweeting some of her tweets). Give her a Facebook page of her ow…

BLOTT AND HIS WRITER - Susan Price with Adam Price

Blott - the writer's muse who manifests as an ink-blue cat - investigates e-readers...

           I'm cheating a bit here, as Blott is written and drawn by my brother, Adam Price, and not by me.  But I thought it might give people with old and brand new Christmas pressie e-readers a laugh.
          More Blot cartoons can be found, most weeks, at my blog:

          And at my website:

There may even be a Blott e-book one day....

Escaping to Write - Avril Joy

Several years ago I spent two months living and writing in France. I came away with the first draft of a novel - 80,000 words - and I have to admit that since then I’ve become something of an expert in escaping. Don’t misunderstand me I love my home, my house that’s full of light and looks out over trees and fields to the edge of the Wear Valley. I’m pretty happy with my writing room too – bijoux it may be but it has everything I need as a writer : its full of books, its cosy, warm in winter and has a window with a view (a necessity for me having spent many years working inside prison in rooms with barely any windows to speak of). Yet still I find that writing at home is often difficult; too many other concerns, mainly domestic, intrude and I never feel entirely at ease writing if there’s shopping or cleaning to be done – and I do try to ignore them, believe me. So for me the most inspirational and productive times as a writer are when I can get away. On a day to day basis this can be …

Parents! Here's How To Get The Kids Reading! - Simon Cheshire

Attention all parents! It struck me the other day that there's a simple answer to the constant parental dilemma What Books To Buy To Get The Kids Reading. Sure, you could stick with what's in Sainsbury's, or Waterstones, or the review sections of the Sunday papers, but don't forget that these are all required by law to feature only children's books which have a name you've already heard of on the cover. There's a far better alternative: yes, the good ol' Kindle!
Give your kid a Kindle, or download the Kindle app for their iPod or smartphone, and let them loose in the wonderful world of SAMPLES. They can try the first chapters of dozens, hundreds, thousands of books, and all for free. Even the pickiest of readers is certain to find something they like!
Since I've had a Kindle, I've definitely widened the range of stuff I read, all because I can download a couple of chapters at the press of a button. Naturally, a lot of samples just get deleted a…

Adding Pictures to an Ebook by Diana Kimpton

As a children’s author, I’m used to my print books having illustrations so it seemed natural to include pictures when we created my first children’s ebook, Perfectly Pony. But before we could do that, we had to find out how.

Behind the scenes, ebooks have more in common with websites than with printed books. Both the mobi and the epub formats use cut-down versions of HTML - the language used to create all websites.

Although, as publisher, you have some control over the layout, readers can change the font, the text size and the line spacing so the way a book looks on one person’s Kindle may differ from how it looks on someone else's. That affects the way pictures  display. You can decide where you want them in the flow of text, and you can put a page break just before them to make sure they  appear near the top of the screen. But you can’t control how much text shows on the same page.

After experimenting a bit, we decided to use pictures in the book in three ways:
1.    To have a…


To write is one thing. To cast spells another. How to do it? Aged three years old, I used to tell stories to the children next door, weaving fantasies by means of my imagination. Those children were big ones who went to school and could read and write - but they’d line up on their side of the wall to ask what happened next.They were desperate to know but couldn’t for reasons I didn’t understand figure it out themselves. It fell to me - the little squirt peering over her garden wall - to tell them.There’s a knack to casting spells over the imagination.I didn’t know that then, but I do now. Not everyone can do it.But there are a greater number of people who can than do, and it’s not just the hard work, time and effort required that puts people off.It takes a supreme act of self-confidence to believe that the stories going on inside your head are of interest to anybody else.At three I never questioned that they were, but at nine - when I started my first few secret stories - I was full…

How long should a book be? Roz Morris

If two writers move house, by far the worst job is transferring the books. When we did we hired two guys who cheerfully manoeuvred unwieldy items while we took the small stuff. Finally it came to our books. Hundreds of boxes of books, 20 years' worth of greedy collecting. It was like one of those biblical epics where slaves build the Great Pyramid, block by block, all day. For the first hour we joked with the cheerful chaps about how boring it was. For the rest of the hours after that, we wore lobotomised stares.Publishers are well aware that moving books takes time and money. That - and hundreds of other factors including the size of book that looks good in a shop - means there are certain book lengths that aren’t profitable. As I found when I wrote Nail Your Novel: Why Writers Abandon Books and How to Draft, Fix and Finish With Confidence. Why I wrote a writing bookFor years I've critiqued novels, helping new writers to polish their books to publishable standard. Invariably,…

WHICH ONE FIRST? by Karen King

Like a lot of writers I sometimes suffer from an overload of ideas. My notebooks are full of characters and storylines that I never get time to write about and I am always working on at least two projects at the same time. And as I write for children of different ages and adults too this means the ideas can be completely different genres, ages and topics. Take my two ebooks for example, one is a children's fantasy novel and the other is a contemporary romance.

And my traditionally published work includes picture books, children’s detective novels, plays, writing courses and romance stories.

Like now, for instance. I’m working on a fantasy trilogy for tweenagers and a series for 7-9’s which is quite enough to be getting on with you’d think. But no, the ideas just won’t go away. Creeping into the back of my mind is an idea for a YA novel, a novel for adults and there’s also a TV script I’ve been dying to write. I’ve jotted all the ideas down, of course, but which one do I write first?…

Bird of Passage - Where Did I Get My Ideas From? Catherine Czerkawska

You know that question somebody always asks you, sooner or later, when you're a writer?  The one that makes you want to shriek and run away instead of smiling politely, which is what you always do? The 'where do you get your ideas from?' question. Because let's face it, ideas are almost never the problem. Time, personal space, money, application and luck may be problems. But not ideas.

Well, this is an attempt to answer that - but only about one particular project. Because in the case of  my new novel, Bird of Passage, now available on Kindle, even I'm not sure where I got my ideas from!

This book  has been a very long time in the writing - probably the longest of anything I've ever written, if you count the time from the smallest germ of an idea to the finished book.

In fact, I can remember that first little bit  of inspiration. When I was twelve years old, we moved from Leeds to the West of Scotland. At that time, Irish workers were still coming over to Scotla…