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…

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.

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.

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.

Interview with Brandice Snowden author of Demon’s Veil


Powerful veils hold Earth apart from realms mortals believe are merely tales of myth and legend. They are opening again, leaving humans vulnerable, and the monsters ready to strike.

Marie Leveau prefers to remain alone and anonymous, for she knows what goes bump in the night, and sacrificing others isn’t part of her personality. But life isn’t always about getting what you want.

Contracted by The Organization, a shadow government agency, Marie is assigned a new Special Ops team, one she must introduce via Paranormal 101 to the very monsters they didn’t believe existed. Marie and her team are sent to Asia in search of an ancient relic, leading them into the jungle and tests of a fragile new bond. Despite the initial distrust, and an unholy battle with a demon-god, the team survives, their lives forever changed and woven into an unbreakable tapestry.

Returning home, the new friends sense the very people responsible for their safety are willing to sacrifice them all in the name of power.

They learn of a prophecy, and The Paladin, the one person able to close the veils and keep the mortals safe.

With few clues, the team must unravel the prophecy and figure out how to close the veils. Or the monsters will use Earth as ground zero, innocents be damned.

About Brandice:

brandiceI grew up around the tall tales and history of Texas. I worked my way through college just because I was told it was out of my reach; earning a degree in Literary Studies from the University of Texas at Dallas. Along the way I learned to shoot, wield a sword and even met a family ghost or two.

I have been an artist, teacher, military wife, mother and now novelist. I spend my free time indulging in my fantastical side, learning first hand skills my characters use in my books. I have a passion for history and mythology and use much of what I learn to create new worlds.

I currently resides on the Texas/Oklahoma border with the love of my life and my children of both two legged and four legged variety.


Tell us a bit about who you are and your publishing journey…

I am a 34 year old wife and mother.  My friend would say I am quirky; strangers would probably call me weird.  But I’m okay with that.  I enjoy thing like the Society for Creative Anachronism, art, history, and mythology has always appealed to me.

My publishing journey literally started with a dream; actually it was a nightmare.  I had this emotionally wrenching nightmare and turned it into a short story to get it out of my head.  My husband and friends badgered me to give them more of the story, which was how I found NaNoWriMo.  I hadn’t actually seriously considered writing a novel until that point.  One I got started the story just grew.  After winning NaNo, I saw a Curiosity Quills Press contest announcement in a facebook group and thought what the heck.  I had nothing to lose.  Low and Behold, here I am, winner of the contest with my first book “Demon’s Veil” published and the second book in the series nearly completed.

What book are you reading at the moment?

I just finished the newest Jim Butcher, “Skin Games”  and a cute little romance called “What Stays in Vegas” by Beth Labonte.

What is the best, and worst, thing about being an author?

The best thing about being an author is twofold…creating these characters that become such a major part of your life and then sharing them with others.  The worst thing for me at least is the marketing, especially with social media.  I can charm the pants off of you if we are in the same room, but I am still learning the ropes when it comes to charming people via a computer interface.

If you could add one more bit to Demon’s Veil – what would it be?

A holodeck program like you saw on Startrek.  I wish in some scenes that the reader could see what was going through my brain because words fall short sometimes.  But as far as the story, I wouldn’t add anything extra yet.  Once I end the series that may change though.

What was the hardest part of writing your book, and how did you overcome it?

The hardest part was my own self talk.  It’s a huge time commitment to write a novel and I often found myself saying, “I don’t know if I can do this.”  But in the end I barrelled through with “just one more page” or “five more minutes of writing.”   It’s amazing how those little goals can add up to such a big goal.

If Demon’s Veil was to be made into a movie – who would be your leads and why?

I would want Hugh Jackman for my Morgan.  He’s buff and sexy but also has a down to earth kind of quality that I like.  Marie is a little harder to cast.  Her character is Creole from Louisiana.  When I was writing her I thought mostly of a cousin of mine (My great grandparents were Cherokee and Creole French).  So I would love to see a Native American actress like Maija Tailfeathers in the part; but I also think there are some really talents African American actresses that could do well also.  I think Alexander Skarsgard would make a great Keiron. I’m not sure who to cast for Alejandro and Milana Delgado. Maybe give a talented newcomer a chance.  I know five leads is a lot, but this book is more of an ensemble cast.

I’m an evil villain taking over the world!! Are you with me? Or against me?

Well that depends….are you Lawful Evil, Neutral Evil, or Chaotic evil? (Yes I know my nerd girl is showing LOL)

What’s your next project?

For the moment I am concentrating on completing the Veil Prophecy Trilogy; but I have also begun plotting an epic fantasy series based on Arthurian legend as well as two romance novel series.  One being a steampunk/mafia series set in the distant future one a new planet.  The other being a a series based on my own take of mythology from around the world.

Where can fans find you online?

Follow me on:

Demon’s Veil on Amazon:

Interview with Bonnie Ferrante

Bonnie Ferrante

Bonnie Ferrante

Bonnie is one of my fellow Noble authors and she loves living in Northern Ontario, Canada even though she spends most of the long winter indoor writing. She chants, bikes, gardens, reads, stitches, volunteers, studies the Dharma, paints, plays/works on the computer, attends live theatre, enjoys being trounced in scrabble by her husband, Fred, and is often found ripping up pieces of her yard or stripping furniture. She hates cooking and cleaning and loves her robot vacuum, (too bad it can’t move the furniture). Her son, stepsons, and extended family keep her young. Once upon a time, she was a grade school teacher. She has entirely too much imagination and not enough opportunity to indulge it.

Tell us about your publishing journey.

I wrote short stories for magazines and anthologies and a newspaper column while I taught part time. When I became a full time teacher, writing fell by the wayside, although I wrote plays for my drama club and worked with a Young Authors club.

When I stopped teaching, I decided to tackle novels, which is what I really wanted to write. Noble Romance Publishing accepted my first book, Dawn’s End. I wrote two sequels, Dawn’s End Poisoned, and Dawn’s End Outworld Apocalypse, which they also published. All three are ebooks and the last is also a paperback. They can be understood in any order, although they are chronological. The trilogy is speculative (a blend of fantasy and science fiction) and written for ages 16 and up.

I have two self-published collections of short stories. Some were contest winners and some were previously published in anthologies that are now out of print. Bouquet is a trilogy of Buddhist themed fantasy and science fiction stories. Inhale contains contemporary stories, some with a fantasy twist. They are available on I priced them at $0.99 as a way to bring in new readers.

My Amazon author page with links to my books

I am currently working with Tradewinds Books in Vancouver, British Columbia on a historical paranormal novel entitled Switch which will be out in 2014. It is about a young disenfranchised woman whose ability to see ghosts endangers herself and her family. When she has the opportunity to learn herbalism, it seems she may be able to contribute to her family’s survival, but this takes a macabre twist.

When did you know you wanted to be an author?

I always wanted to be an author. I just didn’t have the time, training. or confidence to pursue it full-time until 2009.

 What’s your views on social media for authors? Which sites do you recommend?

If you are just starting out, I’d say stay away from too much social media. It will eat up your writing time. There are, however, terrific blogs by authors and agents on writing that are invaluable. Also, keep abreast of what is happening in publishing. Some of the good ones are: Evil Editor, The Write Practice, The Creative Penn, and Janet Reid, Literary Agent.

Once you’ve reached the publication stage, it is essential to have your own professional facebook page separate from your family/friends one. Goodreads would be the next one I’d say was essential. You may want to have a blog, but if you are already struggling for writing time, I wouldn’t recommend it. There are so many out there now you really need to have a niche to pick up followers. Twitter and Linked-in can also be helpful.

My Facebook:

 Twitter: Bonnie Ferrante 


 What’s your favourite part of the publishing process?

The best part of writing is the first draft where my mind is free and I’m juiced at the prospect of what I’m about to create.

You’re currently writing a historical paranormal novel – what’s your fav time period and why?

I love Tudor Times in England (1485-1603). It was such a turbulent period in history, so full of extremes. Life was full of more than the usual amount of change: political intrigue, religious revolution, plague, war, female queens, and innovation in the arts.

When it comes to the paranormal – what still scares you?

I enjoy vampire and monster stories, but a part of me is always aware that it is fantasy. Ghost stories, however, shake my beliefs. There are so many strange incidents of haunting that I am never sure what is real and what is imagination.

What advice would you give to new writers?

Read and discuss what you read. Examine what propelled the plot forward, how the author made you care for and understand the characters, what worked, and what didn’t work.

Write every day. It doesn’t have to be something you plan on publishing. Be critical of your writing. Reread it and polish it.

Take writing classes, in person or on-line.

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Interview with Nathan J.D.L Rowark


Nathan J.D.L Rowark

My first interview is with a fellow UK horror author. He’s also an editor and publisher. It’s, Nathan J.D.L Rowark.

When did you realise you wanted to be a horror writer?

I wrote my first horror novel when I was Twelve years old (unpublished – still have it), and continued to work on it until I was thirteen. I was influenced by emerging authors of the time (Clive Barker), and became a big fan of the work Stephen King produced when he was around 18. In those days we had no internet, no mobile phones, so I found it difficult when approaching publishers by snail mail. Once they found out how old I was, most wouldn’t entertain I was writing those works (Deckerland, A view of Heaven), so I found responses were laced with cynicism and suspicion. Coming from a working class background, my family were unable to support me in my chosen profession, and with little help available to me, I stopped writing  around my fourteenth birthday. I knew from early on that I wanted to be a writer, had my own table in the corner for poetry classes, so that I would remain undistributed, and was the only eight year old in my class whom was allowed to write his own work rather than read someone else’s. The teachers did their best for me, but the system required that everyone achieved to the same level so I found I was held back. It was almost twenty years before I started writing regularly again.

My love of horror originally stems from my mother’s love of horror. She would record for me the Frankenstein movies of Universal and the Dracula tales from Hammer; for me to watch before I went to school in the morning. Now that’s what you call a superior education :-) The first books I remember getting in to were King’s ‘Skeleton Crew’ and the works of Alan Garner.

What was the first story you got published? Is there anything you’d change about it now?

The first poems I wrote which were published came to me just after I decided to give my writing career another shot. I didn’t know if they were any good but submitted them to an online webzine anyway (in the hopes they could give me some feedback, more than anything). That webzine turned out to be highly prestigious, ‘The Horror Zine’, edited by Jeanie Rector. She read through them and decided to publish them on the webzine and in one of her anthologies (Sanctimonious Saint at the Sinners Ball, Cross but Shan’t, Unending Battle of Self). Later, I found out that I was extremely lucky to be included, and it gave me the push I needed to continue writing. My first short story was published by Static Movement Press, a little tale I like to call ‘Word of the Warlock’. It was a short story based on the misinterpretations associated with the name ‘Warlock’, and told the story of a man gifted, yet cursed by his heritage at the same time. I think it’s about to get a third outing in Static Movement’s ‘Gifted’ anthology soon.

Would I change anything about these pieces now? I don’t think I would. After spending so long away from the writing scene, I had to relearn a few skills; to then improve upon them, but no. I’ll always have a special place in my heart for ‘Word of the Warlock’. Maybe I’ll expand upon it, one day. In the story, I mention that the author character has his own book out called ‘Tribal Death’. Six months later I had another story accepted for an SM antho. It was for their ‘Western Ghost Stories: volume II’ collection. Guess what? ‘Tribal Death’ exists now :-)

What’s your thoughts on authors and social media? What sites do you prefer?

I’ve found that Facebook and Twitter are great mediums to gather fans. Blogs are good too. It can be hard  sometimes, to grab people’s attention (there are so many people on the internet now), but if your work is good, chances are people will gather to find out more. Boy has the world changed.

 As well as being an author, you are also a publisher. Tell us a bit about Horrified Press.

Well, I started Horrified Press in September of last year after months of planning and preparation. Using my experiences working for companies that had me dealing with book distributors on a daily basis, and taking on-board my own experiences as a writer (over fifty works published), I decided I could help other authors get their works noticed too. It’s been going really well, so far. It’s a lot of work, hours and hours of it, but very rewarding when you see what comes from it all. Some authors, like yourself, are very succinct when telling a story. Others have the ideas and the creative vision but need help to refine them; so that the reader will see the sights the author wishes to convey. In both cases, I enjoy the process, helping other authors develop and showcasing already developed talents. It’s what I love the most about our horror anthologies, the way you can have a first published author side by side an established name. Aside from reading the authors bios after their stories, in some cases you’d never know which author was established and which one was new.

In the end, working together, I firmly believe we give our readership a truly frightening and original reading experience. The future of ‘Horrified Press’ is very exciting :-) Oh, and I’ll give you an exclusive, right here, right now. Check out our website ( and our facebook page for the announcement of major new developments from Friday (31st May).

 As an editor, what do you look for in submissions? Which stories tend to make the cut?

That’s a good question, Nicky. I try not to be judgemental. I read a submission as it’s laid out and then sit back and mull it over for a few hours. Did I enjoy it? More importantly, will other people enjoy it? Did it meet the submission criteria? What was particularly special about it? I look for emerging talent. Will I have the time in my schedule to give the author additional support, to work with them on their piece (if needed – it’s an extra consideration)? I needed tutelage when I first started back and there’s not enough of that literary support available. Finally, I’ll ask the most important question of all… Will our readers enjoy it? Many authors will probably disagree with me on this, but what we do has to be for our audience; not ourselves. We’re like creative public servants, in a way. Another aspect of our anthology collections I feel is unique, we have many writers contributing that normally wouldn’t write horror. It gives those tales a unique perspective, and some of those have been my personal highlights.

What’s your favourite horror monster and why?

I have many favourites, from the obscure to the obvious…

I loved the rabbit (Frank) in Donnie Darko, but he’s probably more of a victim than a monster. Freddy Kruger was a particularly clever creation (thank you, Wes Craven). I liked the old depiction of him, not the new one. It focused too heavily on the child molestation aspect which didn’t frighten me; more repulsed me. Remakes… hmm. In literature, Dracula – of course. Pinhead was a fascinating creation; so multi-layered.

What is the worst mistake a new writer can make? And what advice would you give them?

Creative writing is just that. There are no right and wrong answers. I would say that grammar is very important, firstly. If you can’t say what you want to in a way people can understand, you have a major brick wall to surmount, in terms of making it your career. I would also say (one of my great problems as a writer when I first started out) don’t over-complicate things. That’s not style. You need to replace those lines with hard substance. Another  thing I come across often (and was guilty of myself, back in the day) would be the use of ‘she said’ – ‘he said’.

“I’m going to the shops,” said Tom – not – “I’m going to the shops,” the excited, scruffy young man with blonde highlights and ripped jeans gushed to his displeased friend.

These things are time things, they disappear when you write regularly, read regularly and take stock of your own work. We’ve all been there.

Oh, last but not least, check out the latest horror anthologies from ‘Horrified Press’. Our writers work for royalties, so we need horror fans to support their awesome work and enjoy their amazing stories. Our e-books are $3, that’s the price of a small bottle of fizzy drink from a bad vending machine on the good side of town. Not to much to ask for over twenty gripping stories per pop, eh?

To buy the anthologies, click on the images below to be taken through to Lulu – for US and ROW please see and search for the title.

Tales of the Undead – Suffer Eternal

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Tales of the Undead – Hell Whore


 Tales of the Undead – Suffer Eternal: volume II

Suffer Eternal II (small)


Writing for Foreign Markets


I’m be guest blogging on The Horror Tree this week with ‘Writing for Foreign Markets’. It’s aimed at writers submitting to the UK market but the advice can also be useful to UK writers submitting to other English speaking countries.

To read my full blog – please click here…

Amazon Author Page


Amazon Author Page:

I recently tweeted to ask ‘how do you make the most of your Amazon Author Page’ and was answered with a chorus of ‘not sure, but when you find out, tell us!’

I’ve done some research on the subject and found very little information, so here’s what I know so far…


Having an Amazon Author Page shows potential publishers that you have other books out there and have had some success. Using a link to your page on your email signature, gives them instant access to a lot of relevant information about you. Although it could be argued that your own website can achieve this too, but Amazon check the credentials of anyone claiming they’re included in that book – they check with publishers and only add it to your page when they are sure you are who you say you are.

More fans:

If a reader really likes one of your books, they can visit this page for a full catalogue of your works and can instantly buy said work. It’s always better to engage fans when they’re excited and this then gives them the opportunity to buy more of your books, before they jump onto someone else’s band wagon.

Social Media Applications:

You can add on twitter, RSS feeds and blogs to your page, making finding you online much easier. If you Google my name, other Nicky Peacock’s pop up – you can’t change that, so having everything linked on your Amazon Author Page makes finding your online appearances much easier.

 Search Engines:

Amazon pay a large amount of money to be top of search engines – your page will be found higher on searches because of this. In fact, when I Googled myself (that sounds rude!) My Amazon Author Page was the highest ranked of all my pages, that includes my website, blog, twitter, Facebook and Pinterest!

Amazon itself:

Like it not, they are a mighty industry leader, and people all over the world refer to their website when looking for new books. They can browse via genres but also via authors through these pages. They have a review section, which is listened to, and a star system which instantly shows the opinions on a book. I must admit, that as a reader, I don’t dig much deeper on a book that predominately gets 1 star.

You can also type in a name on the search bar, and your page will come up – just in case they know your name, but not your book titles.

Have you anything you can add to this? Have you found another use for Amazon Author Page?

Also don’t forget the other sites out there you need to get listed on:







Let’s talk about dialogue…

One of things I hate most as a reader, is long winded discussions between random characters that add nothing to the overall plot, yet seem to drag on for eternity. You’ll find this a lot in TV series too – I like to call it ‘The Soap Opera Effect’. This is basically when something happens, let’s say John kisses his best friend’s wife, Sharon – ooooh scandalous action – but then this kiss is discussed for the next 50 pages or so by every character in the book! OK, some discussion is needed to make the most out of this dramatic event, but drawing a line under it sooner rather than later will help to move your story along. Pace is something that comes up a lot when you learn the craft of creative writing, and it really is more important than you think. A well-paced book will be hard for your readers to put down, one that dwindles with un-necessary scenes and dialogue will be thrown violently into the middle distance!

Good Dialogue:

So what makes good dialogue? I can only answer that from my joint reader/ writer point of view. To me, good dialogue should either be giving away necessary plot points/ character information to the reader, or creating tension. In fact, this is something that you should check in your drafting process. Each word uttered by your characters should be scrutinised to ensure that it either adds to the character (or another character they’re talking about) or is pushing the plot forward. If you have a scene where two characters are discussing the weather, you need to delete it, unless of course one of those characters is an evil genius who has harnessed the weather for his own maniacal means. Woo ha ha!


Careful on your grammar in dialogue too. A missing comma or capital can make all the difference.

“I helped my uncle Jack off a horse today.”  – What a lovely, helpful nephew.

“I helped my uncle jack off a horse today.” – Oh my God! What book am I reading?

See the difference a capital makes!

Eaves dropping:

One of the best tricks for writing good dialogue is people watching/ eaves dropping. Get yourself in a nice busy place – a coffee shop, a café, a department store – and start listening in on what people are saying. I know it sounds awful, but the best dialogue comes from real life. I try to do this once in a while to keep my own character’s dialogue fresh and realistic; I don’t do it too often as, with my luck, I’d probably overhear a murder plot!

There is also good practice for someone writing YA who isn’t a young adult anymore.  Keeping up-to-date with slang and how teenagers speak can make a real difference to your dialogue – it’s just common sense – innit?

Also don’t be afraid to write down things that you come out with. Quite often I’ll reply to a question or be deep in discussion with a friend and come up with a real gem of a sentence that I note down for later use. Just don’t pull out a pad at the time – people will think you’re crazy! Or incredibly forgetful! Or a secret reporter!

 Read some scripts:

Scripts are heavy on important dialogue and reading a few can help to improve your overall efforts. Some of the best dialogue I’ve ever read has come from script writers. The BBC Writers’ Room has lots of interesting information, scripts to download, and even some script writing opportunities.

 He said, she said:

Another important part of dialogue are the dialogue tags. Don’t just end each speech with ‘said’ try for something more descriptive and mix it up a bit. Here are a few tags to think about:

Acknowledged,  admitted,  agreed,  answered,  argued,  asked,  barked,  begged,  bellowed,  blustered,  bragged, complained,  confessed,  cried,  demanded,  denied, explained, giggled,  hinted,  hissed, hollered,  howled, inquired,  interrupted,  laughed,  lied,  moaned, mumbled,  muttered,  nagged,  pleaded,  promised,  questioned,  remembered,  replied,  requested,  roared,  sang,  screamed,  screeched, shouted,  sighed,  spat, snarled,  sobbed,  threatened,  wailed, warned, whimpered, whined, whispered, wondered,  yelled

Try to avoid too many ‘ly’ words at the end of dialogue such as, ‘he said wistfully’ It falls into the show don’t tell category, so try to catch these in drafts and show the character as ‘wistful’ rather than going for the lazy option of the ‘ly’ word.

Who said what?

Good dialogue should flow, so using tags can be redundant. If you have two characters speaking, then you only need the odd tag, especially if they are using each other’s names e.g.

“Susan, what happened?”

“I’m not sure, it came out of nowhere.”

“What did?”

“The knife, Adam.”

“There’s no knife here…Susan, what’s behind your back?”

If there are more than two characters, that’s when tags become important. There’s nothing more annoying as a reader than being confused as to who is saying what.



The magic formula?


The Magic Formula?

In life, there are very few magic formulas that work for everyone, all the time. This is because there’s usually far too many variables involved – however, when it comes to writing, I think I’ve identified a four step magic formula that will help most along their way to becoming a published writer.

 The Good Idea

I don’t think there’s enough emphasis put on having that ‘good idea’. You can take a million writing classes but if you do not cultivate your imagination and sow the seeds of creativity, then you’ll have nothing to reap when you come to write. I have written a blog on inspiration, so if you’re struggling then have a look through my archive and have a go at some of the exercises there. But the ‘good idea’ is really where it all begins. Don’t just re-hash someone else’s story and please do not fall into fan fiction that is confined to live in another author’s shadow. Break out and come up with something amazing – a story that would just burst your brain if it is not told. An idea so thoroughly wonderful it has to be shared with the unsuspecting world!

 The Skill of Writing

Sadly, a skill that can be taught, but is often neglected. Let’s put this in perspective, we have universal languages for a reason –so we can all communicate with one another in a mutually accepted format. Grammar and sentence structure is paramount. How can anyone understand your work if its unreadable or comes across child-like in its structure. Your ‘good idea’ deserves better, it deserves to be constructed out of quality words and perfect punctuation. It’s fun to write, it’s even more fun for others to be able to read what you write. Take some time and brush up on your English Language skills; it could be as simple as examining your favourite book to see how sentences are structured, and their use of commas and the like. Ask people too; if you’re not sure, ask a writing buddy, ask an editor, or even just type in ‘punctuation’ into Google – only your internet browser then need know that you’ve never used a semi colon before.

I must admit that, at school, I glazed over every time the English teacher started talking about grammar; but I have learnt the hard way that ‘good ideas’ can wither and die on the vine if you don’t know how to put them across. This part of the formula is important guys – I know it’s boring, but please take the time to get it right.

Like-minded people

Surrounding yourself with like-minded people is essential. Writing can be very lonely, it’s hard to keep excited over a secret project that you don’t talk about or share with anyone. Family and friends are great, but they won’t understand (unless they’re writers too) your efforts, and even why you’re trying at all. Finding a community of fellow writers makes a big difference. If you can’t physically do that, then join an online group through Facebook or even seek out fellow writers and connect with them on Twitter. It’s all too easy to give up on your manuscript if no one is there motivating and inspiring you to get it done.


OK so you’ve been motivated by your fellow writing buddies, to weave that good idea into a universally accepted format – now what? Well, you pitch it. You send it out. You take the plunge. You put yourself out there – you… well you get the idea! That manuscript isn’t doing you any favours sat on your computer mocking you with its little Word icon. The last step is to research publishers and send it to the right ones in the format that they ask for. Now remember, you can’t please everyone – they’ll be publishers who hate your work and equally those who love it. Embrace the love – forget the hate. Do not let rejections get you down. Remember what Thomas Edison said to that reporter who sarcastically asked what it was like to fail so many times at creating the light bulb,  “If I find 10,000 ways something won’t work, I haven’t failed. I am not discouraged, because every wrong attempt discarded is another step forward.” Thomas A. Edison, Encyclopaedia Britannica.

Don’t let the fear of rejection stop you from moving forward. If someone rejects your work then mentally keep them as a character to kill off in a later manuscript – Wha ha ha!