My 5 Favourite True Crime Podcast

Anyone who knows me could tell you that I’m obsessed with true crime podcasts. I listen to them when I’m cooking, exercising, cleaning, shopping, driving – I probably spend more time with my podcast app than my family and friends. Now, there’s a lot of choices out there, so I’ve written this blog to honour the podcasts I love, and introduce you to some amazing people and ideas, that as true crime writers and readers, will blow your mind.

Here they are in no particular order…

1) My Favorite Murder – a new one for me, so I’m currently working my way through their back catalogue of episodes. Great hosts that make me laugh and scare me with their murder stories equally. I think the true test of a podcast is if you’d want to have lunch with the hosts – and yes these ladies are definitely on my murder-obsessed wavelength.

2) The Stuff They Don’t Want You to Know – another group of great hosts that tackle interesting topics ranging from aliens to serial killers to cults. As a writer, if you’re stuck for an idea, then look no further than these guys with their in-depth research and engaging conversations that make you feel like you’re down the pub with friends… who have somehow managed to tap a vein of forbidden knowledge.

3) Rebutting a Murderer – Now, I’ve had many a rant about the Netflix series Making a Murderer, and this podcast has not just given me the evidence I need, but also the justification on my gut reaction to this crime to enter into any debate. A must for anyone wanting to hear both sides of the story.

4) Real Crime Profile – Tackling modern well-known cases such as Madeline McCann, Amanda Knox, The Staircase and more, these podcast hosts have opened my eyes on both the procedure, and the passion, that our most dedicated law enforcement officers exhibit both here and across the pond. The dynamics of the hosts are a perfect mix of expert and enigmatic. If I ever go missing, I’d want these hosts to find out what happened to me (if they could do a team-up with the other 4 podcast hosts – that would be awesome)

5) Monster – two seasons in and they’ve covered the Atlanta Child Murders (Which I knew nothing about) and the Zodiac (which it turns out I knew shamefully little about) Thoroughly engrossing, and great narrative throughout the episodes and series – something us writers can appreciate.

Podcasts are an excellent company, and as I’ve discovered, great ones like the shows above, are highly addictive – so be warned. If you start listening to these, be prepared to dedicate a serious amount of time. And, in my opinion, whether you’re a true crime reader or writer, it’s well worth it.

 

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Schrödinger’s Novel – The Writer’s Procrastination

Writers, have you ever reached the end of your book, but can’t let it go? Even though you desperately want that publishing deal, you still can’t bring yourself to submit? I’m calling this mental block Schrödinger’s Novel. Just like the physicist’s cat that could be either alive or dead in that box, your manuscript sits on your computer in the same state. It has the potential to be your dream-like success, or your depression fueled rejection. Of course, you won’t know for sure until you open the box and let that book out.

I must admit, even though I have submitted (a lot) and have been published. I’m currently suffering this phenom. People are telling me to get on with it, but the problem is the sooner I put it out there the sooner I’ll know for sure whether I’ve wasted my time.

I write YA, I’m published with two series through Evernight Teen, however, my mind has always run a little dark, and there have been times that I’ve written stories that do not fit with a YA audience, so I wanted to exercise, or exorcise, this part of my writer’s brain. I’ve written an adult psychological thriller, which is by far the longest book I’ve written. My YA is between 30-50K and this new book sits at a whopping 91k. It was a labour of love, and includes some very personal tidbits from me.

Now, rejection is like breathing to any writer, even those who have deals – you have to be pretty high up on the author food chain for it not to touch you with its sticky shadow fingers. Unfortunately, this knowledge doesn’t help me in my efforts – if anything it’s polluting my confidence.

It’s easy to say, just do it, just submit. I’ve said it myself to dozens of writers to get them off the literary bench and into the game, but you have to be ready. Not just confident in your manuscript, your story, your characters, and your general grasp of the English language, but also that are you ready for another potential visit from rejection’s choking fingers.

I am getting there. I just want one more brief edit; a final check, then the cat will truly be out of the box and I’ll know for sure whether its ready to hunt down a publishing deal for me, or has been left in the box too long and has suffocated. If you, like me, are falling prey to Schrödinger’s Novel, take a moment to leave a comment below – share your worries here.

As for me; wish me luck, and watch this space. I’m going to be opening that box soon…

Two 2019 Anniversaries that I’m celebrating

200th Anniversary of John Polidori’s The Vampyre

Before Dracula, there was The Vampyre. John Polidori penned this story in 1819 – 78 years before Bram Stoker gave us his iconic vampire.

The Vampyre is a must-read for any fan of gothic literature, and of course fans of the blood-sucking monsters themselves. I read the book when I was 11 years old. At that age it felt as if I was reading something I shouldn’t – although my parents were never the type to forbid any books on my reading list – it was still a book that I hid the front cover of when I was in public (there were no Kindles back then that successfully camouflaged your reading tastes)

The character of Lord Ruthven bore many similarities to Dracula. A high-class gentleman – it appears that vampires could only get away with their bloody deeds when lurking in the halls of the aristocracy. With their class came riches that afforded both travel and time to indulge their scarlet tastes. They both seemed to have a preference for seducing and killing maidens, and they seem psychotically inclined to play with their chosen enemies, Aubery and Harker respectively.

So, as this book is celebrating its 200th birthday, why not celebrate with it and curl up in front of a fire, with a glass of red (be that wine or Vimto) and experience first-hand the sinister nature of true vampires.

40th Anniversary of Ridley Scott’s Alien

One of the first horror films I ever watched. The 1979 film Alien is a masterpiece body-shocker, claustrophobic, sci-fi scare-fest. Set in deep space, the story line has a depth that surprises me every time I watch it. Treachery, greed, and politics underpin a rather hard-to-kill violent Xenomorph.

Let’s not forget that this film also pioneered the concept of a kick-ass woman, Ripley. One of the unsung survivors in the pantheon of horror’s final girls. She shows little girls everywhere that, in the face of nightmarish disaster, you can survive – even when the odds are stacked against you, and exits are nowhere to be found.

Alien lead to my all-time favourite film, Aliens. Both films still stand the test of time and should be a right of passage for any young horror/ sci-fi follower.

My older brother is a huge Alien fan too and, a few years ago, he took me to London to experience Alien Wars – a live action version of the Aliens film complete with marines, facehuggers and of course long-limbed oil-black Xenomorph aliens. Now, I don’t scare easy, and I was all set to venture into the dark with him, along with the marines guarding us on our journey into the infested colony, however, I took one look at how fast those grabby little facehuggers were and how fluidly the aliens could scramble up to me and decided to sit it out. Not my best day. However, even as I sit here writing this blog post, I still wouldn’t choose to take on such other-worldly horrors; no doubt, I would have probably been slapped with alien snot to the wall and impregnated within the first 3 minutes! I’m certainly no Ripley!

130th Anniversary of the Jack the Ripper Murders

130 years ago today, a killer calling himself Jack the Ripper was hunting women in London. Take a moment to think about how frightening it would have been to be a woman in that era, worse one who had to sell her body to strangers to make ends meet and didn’t have the luxury to say no when approached by a man with shark-like eyes and blood under his fingernails.

The Jack the Ripper murders are infamous, not just because they remain unsolved, but because of their brutality. When I was a little girl, I went on a school trip to Madame Tussaud’s and found a striking Jack the Ripper diorama in its Chamber of Horrors. The image of a man in a top hat and cape, clutching a medicine bag – quite literally dressed to kill – still haunts me. I was obsessed from then on.

Looking at the research, other attacks could be attributed to Jack. Joining the canonical five Ripper murder victims, Mary Ann Nichols, Annie Chapman, Elizabeth Stride, Catherine Eddowes, and Mary Jane Kelly could be Annie Millwood who survived a man repeatedly stabbing her abdomen. There was also the grisly Thames Torso case, which could have been an earlier victim whose identity Jack tried to hide through dismembering – Didn’t Hannibal Lecter tell Agent Starling in The Silence of the Lambs, killers covert first what they know? Perhaps the Thames Torso belonged to someone who knew the real identity of Jack, so could be traced back to him?

As most readers who find their way to my blog and books will know, I have a dark mind, so it’s not surprising that this case has always fascinated me. There have been so many theories and suspects, for a full list, click here… My money is on James Kelly. He has the MO, the timing both in the UK and the USA when murders were happening, and could have been related to Mary Kelly, the last victim in London who let her assailant into her flat. Looking at the list, who is your prime suspect?

I’ve written two Jack stories. Jack’s Month about a possessed calendar drawing in victims on the stroke of twelve on New Year’s Eve, included in Year’s End, and the Gothic, erotic Madam X in The Mammoth Book of Jack the Ripper that gave the killings a twist of the knife with Jack’s murders explained in an entirely new light. With both stories being published, one could argue that Jack has strangely brought me luck.

I’ve walked the streets of Whitechapel and seen how the urban geography has evolved over the crime scenes. Their surroundings may have forgotten the victims, but the media and the people will not.

The hard truth is – it’s doubtful we’ll ever know the identity of Jack the Ripper…although with DNA ancestral tests being all the rage now, all it would take is a quick swab of some evidence and a search of a few databases – what would you do if you discovered you were related to Jack?

5 sayings that help me as a writer

A few weeks ago I had a conversation with my older brother about wanting to be fifteen years younger but still retain the knowledge and experience I have today. He, quite wisely pointed out that this was a concept always in flux, and that I’ll probably think the same thing in fifteen years time. I hate it when my big brother is right!

That said, I’ve come across 5 sayings that have really helped me as a writer and a person, and given me wisdom and motivation when I’ve needed it. So, no matter what your age now, I pass them onto you to help and guard you against life in all it’s crap and glory.

The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step
This is an essential lesson to all writers. It’s little steps towards the whole. There is so much more involved in creating a book than just writing. There’s plot, structure, research, editing, drafting, character arcs and so much more, and if you try to think about all these things when you write, you’ll go mad. The journey will seem too long, and you’ll give up. But, if you take one aspect at a time, and make small steps, you can get to your destination. It won’t be easy, but nothing good in life ever is!

You shouldn’t set yourself on fire to keep others warm
I’m a closet people-pleaser. I really want to make the people around me happy, and I’ve been a sweet, funny girl for most of my life who has put others above herself, most of the time to the detriment of my own sense of self. Then I stopped. Not cold turkey, I still help other writers, I run a free writers’ group for adults and workshops for teen writers, but I’ve stopped being a push-over. I no longer write stories for publishers for free, and I ensure that I don’t lose personal time that could be allocated to my manuscripts. It’s hard at times, it goes against my nature, but sacrificing your own dreams for others may be noble but is incredibly stupid. There’s no medal in it for you and, I’ve learnt the hard way that there are some people out there that will gladly take all you have to give without giving back.

If you’re not first, you’re last
Okay, so this is from the Will Ferrell film, Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby and on the face of it looks crazy, but when you boil it down, it really is excellent advice. In a world where kids get participation trophies, and everyone is praised for trying, we’ve lost sight of the win. That’s right. I said it. The win. Writers still have to compete for publishing contracts, prizes and opportunities. The feeling you get when you have a publisher say ‘yes’ to you is fantastic, and it is because you worked your ass off for it. You put the time in, you paid your dues, and you deserve the win! Writers who stumble into big publishing deals are few and far between, the majority have a book with their name on because they pushed themselves and crossed the finish line.

This too shall pass
I’m not religious, but this saying from The Bible has stood the test of time. As a writer, you get a lot of rejection, and as much as you try to take it on the chin, at some point it will get you down, it has to, you’re only human. But just remember that the dark sticky feeling that is clinging to your soul right now, won’t be there forever, in fact, it might be gone by lunchtime (if you’re lucky) There’s a story about people who survived their suicide attempt of jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge. Once airborne they quickly realised that all those problems in their lives were actually pretty easy to fix or get past, apart from one… that they jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge. Creative people suffer a lot, we feel too much and think too hard, and this is a dismal combination in terms of happiness. I’m not saying you need to ball up your emotions and push them away, in fact, you should feel them, accept them and know…this too shall pass.

A year from now, you’ll wish you started today
This is the saying that had me write a 90K novel in thirty days (the first draft, I’m in the process of editing) It’s far too easy to put your writing off, to daydream about how great it would be to be an author. To have a book top the charts and make enough money so you can write full time. But if all you do is that, you’ll never even get close to your dreams. You need to think about future-you and the life you want to live. Writing takes the time, energy and a passion that few possess, but do you know what? I think you have what it takes, so what do you say? Want to start writing today?

Did you enjoy this blog? Then you’ll probably enjoy my books too. My two YA series, Battle of the Undead and The Twisted and the Brave are available on Amazon.

YA Dystopian Book Survey 2018 – Reader opinions matter

YA Dystopian book survey – Your opinions matter

Most of you will know me as a YA paranormal author. However, I’ve recently been expanding my genre interests and am now in the process of putting together a YA Dystopian novel. I love reading books set in dystopian worlds; the first book I picked up was Margaret Attwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale. Disturbing and brilliant, it hooked me with its injustice, and surprised me with its bleak yet believable new world.

Later, I picked up on YA dystopia. I read The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins; emotional and evocative, this book made an impression on our generation as it was made into a massive Hollywood movie series and the books are still talked about today. We’ve since had lots more books that are as rich in political subtext and teen angst, all taking different views of how wrong our future could be.

As an author I seek out and devour reader reviews, they give me guidance as to whether I’m hitting the mark with my audience if I’m writing something that excites and entertains while highlighting an underlying positive message. With this in mind, I’m looking for YA Dystopia readers to spend a few minutes of their time to fill out a short questionnaire about what they like to read. There’s no personal data collection; I do not want your name, age or even email address, just your opinions. Your opinions as a reader matter, that’s why book reviews are so critical.

If you have a few moments, please click here to be taken to the Google Form and share your honest opinions on the YA Dystopia you would want to read. Also feel free to post more specific comments below.

Thank you.

Nicky Peacock

The five Ts of being a writer

Being a writer is a claim that many make, but few put the time and effort into. I know this is very skeptical of me, and even a little sad, but it’s true. I’ve met a lot of people in my time who have said they are writers and they want to write a book, but I’ve known very few who have done it.

In my time as a writer, and a leader of a writers’ group, I’ve discovered there are five distinct traits that successful writers (those that evolve into published authors) tend to have. So, in no particular order, here they are…

Talent
Yes, you need the talent to write. Not so much for the technical side, that can learnt, and we will discuss that in a moment, but you really need to have the imagination and mind of a real writer. You can have the best grammar and writing skills in the world, but if your story is lacklustre, your theme is non-existent, and the concept of the story is cliche and stale, well, no one is going to want to read it. There are ways of igniting that creativity in you. However, I genuinely believe you need at least a seed of it to begin with. This is a skill that can not be taught, but can be nurtured with the right mind-set.

Technical skills
Grammar, spelling and the basics of writing a decent sentence is a must for anyone looking to publish their work and have it read by others. But, my advice is, don’t get too hung up on it until you start drafting. I’m a firm believer in learning while you do and if you try to write your first draft while learning the basics of English language, you’ll find it jerky and frustrating – it’s the quickest way to destroy creativity and turn a budding author off the career altogether. Yes, technical skills are incredibly necessary, need I remind you of ‘Let’s eat Grandma‘ but make sure you bring them in at the right time of the process, to me that’s in the drafting and editing stages.

I also want to point out here, you have to know the rules before you break the rules. Many new writers think that their work will stand out if they consider themselves above the rules of the English language, they are not, and yes their work will stand out, but for all the wrong reasons.

Tenacity
You have to keep writing and submitting. It can be devastating to have your hard work denied time and again by publishers, but if it were easy, then everyone would do it. You can’t give it. The only difference between a writer and a published author is that the author didn’t give up. Yes, there are those once in a blue moon stories of the lucky who get a massive publishing deal straight off the bat, but these are rare and often don’t do the writer justice as it can foster complacency with their success. Earn your stripes, keep writing, keep submitting, work hard and never lose faith that you can get where you want to be if you put the time and effort into it.

I am published. I have two YA book series with a publisher and also have had over 40 short stories published in anthologies all over the world, but I’m still rejected by publishers and still can’t earn enough to live as a full-time author – this is most authors’ stories, but that can change with just one book and the right publisher; but, if you stop writing you’ll never get that deal, and that’s why I won’t stop writing and submitting my work. I want to write full time which brings me on to…

True Love
You have to love writing. It has to be your ambition and mistress. It takes an inordinate amount of time to write a book, then to edit, draft and then to submit. So you need to go into it with your eyes open. You will need to sacrifice things in your life to accommodate this. We all get 24 hours a day; you need to look at what you do, who you spend time with and decide what you need to give up to make enough time for your writing. I’m not saying that you need to become some crazy hermit in a log cabin with a laptop and broadband, but you do need hermit style sessions to get the job done. Take a long hard look at your life and trim away the things and people who are not supporting you and your dreams. This sounds harsh, but it’s the only way to ensure you not still writing that first novel twenty years after you started it.

Timing
Makinbg sure you hit deadlines is crucial when you’re a writer. I’ve spent my whole career in sales and marketing so hitting deadlines and targets are ingrained in me, but most people don’t have this discipline. My advice? Take baby steps and be realistic about what you can do. Having lofty goals is great, but if you set the bar too high you’ll never reach it, and so you’ll be more likely to quit. Decide what you are writing and roughly how long you want it to be, then set word counts each day. Smaller ones to begin with, and then build up. Make your time count and make sure you get your work into publishers by their deadline.

Being a writer/ author is one of the few dreams that does not ask you to be a certain age, race or gender. It doesn’t care if you have a disability and what your sexual orientation is. Anyone can set themselves on this path; just remember the 5 Ts and you’ll soon be on your way.

2018 is the 200th Anniversary of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein

200 years ago, Mary Shelley penned a horror story that would not only last the test of time but would also make us think about the nature of monsters – not an easy task.

I first read Frankenstein at school. When you’re young, its easy to be afraid of monsters, to shy away and not dig any deeper than the skin they wear and the acts they commit. It wasn’t until I was much older that I saw Frankenstein’s creation for what it was, the product of yet another monster.

I hope I’m not spoiling the book/ movies for anyone by saying this… although the monster commits atrocious acts, his creator perhaps is the bigger monster of the two. Lead by arrogance and selfishness; he achieves his dream of creating life, only to shun the life he has created. This can happen to many people, to be driven and passionate about something, only to get it and feel the energy that has been sustaining you for so long begin to ebb and die.

The monster, although grotesque and made up of a mish-mash of criminal parts, doesn’t start off evil. He actually does some good, that is, before he’s shunned yet again; this time by society. Dr Frankenstein has created something that simply does not belong and, as the psychologist, Maslow pointed out in his Hierarchy of Needs, to feel you belong is central to anyone’s well-being, even a creature whose every limb sports pot-luck DNA.

It makes me wonder if Mary Shelley knew the impact of her book, which it wouldn’t be just the terrifying tale of a dark and stormy night if she would have written it differently. Perhaps give it a happy ending so that readers can go away feeling that there is some good in the world? Probably not. Most horrors end, well horribly. Happy endings are reserved for fictional romance and children’s books. As an author myself, I can’t help but consider the impact of the story if Dr Frankenstein had realised what he had done and attended as the monster had asked. Or even better, he hadn’t run from the creature at first sight, but instead had loved and cared for it?

In the UK, Sky Atlantic had a series called Penny Dreadful. The premise was that monsters and myths were alive and well and living in Victorian London. Although the series, by the end, dropped a little of it’s entertainment value, it boasted a Dr Victor Frankenstein and his monster as part of the cast and explored their relationship after what would have been the end of Shelley’s book. If you haven’t seen this series, I’d highly recommend digging into the box sets; there’s more than just Frankenstein and his monster to get your teeth into.

What are your thoughts on this literary classic? Let me know below…

The Assassin of Oz – The Twisted and The Brave #2 – Out Now!

The Assassin of Oz – The Twisted and The Brave #2

The Assassin of Oz – The Twisted and The Brave #2

Monsters and madmen and murderers, oh my!

A club of serial killers calling themselves Oz is stalking the streets of London. Alone and desperate, 17-year-old Halo finds herself drawn into the middle of their blood-soaked storm of murders. Struggling to survive, Halo must contend with both known and unknown killers, put her trust in the most unlikely of devilish places, and play by a new set of rules if she is to become the Assassin of Oz.

Gavin, a young US homicide detective, has moved to the UK to catch the serial killers, Tin Man, Lion, Scarecrow, and The Munchkin Masher but soon finds himself two steps behind the headline-grabbing murderers and one step behind vigilante group, Wonderland.

Stalked by death and danger, both Halo and Gavin are going to need all the brains, heart, and courage they can muster to take down Oz.

You can buy it here:

Amazon UK

Amazon US

Amazon Canada

Amazon Australia 

Direct at the Publishers

You can see it on GoodReads here…

Excerpt:

Cameras flash, journalists whisper, and the television crews quickly check their equipment. An odd hush then smothers the noise as a tall man wearing a dark suit and a graying white shirt steps onto the podium before them. His head hangs down somewhere between guilt and shame.

He scans the crowd and finds a mix of the usual faces, who will inevitably ask the usual questions, make the usual accusations, and of course never agree with his decision—whichever one he has chosen. He will give them the usual responses, the usual arguments, and defend himself, in the same manner he usually does. Yet this self-fulfilling prophecy gives him no comfort or confidence. What he is about to do will affect not just his life, but the lives of the whole country for which he is responsible. Even though he finds it easy to foresee his next few minutes with uncanny accuracy, his foresight cannot predict the years that will follow this speech.

He watches for the signal from his press officer and then drops his stare to the blank pages in front of him, surrendering his auto cue. With a sigh, he takes off his glasses and slowly opens his dry, pursed lips to speak.

“I cannot express to you the great sadness that grips my heart this day. As a man who has dealt with war, famine, and crises born of nature’s wrath, I can honestly say I have always tried to see the good in my fellow man, but today I … I stand in front of you in doubt. I have tried to pinpoint one single event that has brought me here. One particular crime that has been the catalyst to today, but alas there have been so many, they are now a bloody blur to me, leaving stains of faceless ambivalence.”

A murmur ripples through the crowd and the photographers steal the opportunity to take a few more choice shots for the morning news. The man squints at the barrage of flashes, shakes his head, and grips the podium tighter.

“It has been estimated there are now at least five murders occurring every week in London alone, with the bulk of these murders being attributed to at least seven different serial killers that are freely roaming our streets. We have drafted in police from across the globe to combat this alarming crime spree, but alas, I feel, as your Prime Minister, that this is still not enough to keep the innocent people of this country safe. And so it is with a reluctant and heavy heart that, as of this day, I reinstate the death penalty to be carried out no less than one week after a conviction of murder has been secured for anyone who is over the age of sixteen. From this day, if you willingly, and knowingly, take an innocent life for pleasure or gain, you will forfeit your own.”

The murmur rises to a roar as some reporters cheer, and others cry out angry questions.

“Prime Minister, how can this be justified? There has been no vote in Parliament?” one reporter yells.

“Why haven’t these killers been stopped by now?” asks another.

“Sixteen is too young!” cries another.

“What about the ongoing cases? Will this sentence be given to those already on trial?”

He recognizes the last voice, Levi Goodman, a sleazy reporter from a popular TV channel who’s been drumming up panic since the UK descended into this blood-soaked mess.

“Yes, this will apply to any conviction from today onwards,” he replies, his eyes downcast.

“How can that be justified?” Levi asks.

The rest of the reporters burst into a spasm of questions, comments, and more outrage.

The Prime Minister looks through the throng of animated journalists. He moves to step down, but pauses and then turns back to them and says, “May God have mercy on our souls, and may The Devil have room enough in Hell. There will be no answers to your questions. There were none to mine.”

The writer’s New Year resolutions

I can’t believe that another new year is on our doorsteps again. It doesn’t seem that long ago when I was sat in front of my computer and listing all the things I wanted to achieve in 2017. Did I achieve them? Yes, I think I did get my grubby mits on some, but not as much as I would have liked. Are you thinking the same thing? If you are, I’ve come up with a few ideas that might help you finish that novel, get published or even merely feel just in calling yourself a writer.

1) Just write something – I’ve said it time, and again, if you want to call yourself a writer, you need to start writing. You’d be shocked at how many people out there will tell you that they want to write a book, but then never sit down and string a sentence together. Let me be blunt…you will never write the perfect sentence straight off the bat, you just won’t. First drafts are just that, first drafts. No writer anywhere has had a first draft published. We all write the first draft and then edit till we’re blue in the face and sick to death of our own words. This is how excellent prose is made. So just write, anything, everything whatever you like, just start doing something. You need a draft to edit, and elves don’t hack your computer at night and write them for you! Although, it’d be cool if they did!

2) Make a space for your writing – I mean this both physically and mentally. Create a physical space for yourself to write in, This might be a shed by your house (like Roald Dahl), or it could be a desk in your study or somewhere else entirely. Have laptop, will travel. Pick a nice pub or coffee shop and just burrow down with a great drink and some tasty grub and get on with it. I always find the first 10 minutes hard work, but once I pass this marker, I love every minute of it. Top tip, turn your internet connection off. As well-meaning as it might be to have access to online research, believe me when I say that it’s a temptation that just isn’t worth it.

3) Treat your writing like a best friend – you want to spend time with your best friend, right? We all have them, and we all love chilling and gossiping with them. So treat your writing like a friend. Plan to spend time with it. Put it in your diary that you are meeting. You’ll find your attitude to it will change. You don’t want to let your friends down do you? So you’ll turn up for your writing. Call it a name if you need to, Bob, Mr Write, Lady Cornerwinkle, it doesn’t matter. If your writing is important to you, make an effort to spend serious time with it.

4) Keeping it safe – cybersecurity has never been so important, so ensure that you have backed-up your work. Losing something you’ve spent months or even years on is not an option. You’re advised to change your passwords at least every couple of months or so, so do it. Take it one step further and use your book title as your password, every time you punch it in it’ll reinforce what you should be writing on, and before you all try to access my accounts, I also use random numbers in my passwords too!

5) Read – read often, read well and read some more. Books are a writer’s bread and butter. If you don’t know what’s already out there, then that 100,000 word novel about a sexy S&M addicted businessman and an unfortunately annoying virgin girlfriend might prove a massive waste of your time. Read books in your genre, and out of it. If you’re a writer, then odds on you’ll love reading too anyway, but not make an effort to check out Goodreads and Amazon once in a while and buy something to entice and tickle your imagination and more…

So there you have it, 5 top tips for writing in the New Year, because you know what? A year from now, you’ll wish you’d have started writing your novel today.

Now, I’m off to the pub with Lady Cornerwinkle.