Friday, 7 October 2016

Tips for new writers, thoughts on self-publishing, and more...

Of all the almost 300 posts I've written on here over the past four and a half years, those about writing have had some of the most views, which tells me that there are a lot of writers out there, particular those new at the game, who are eager to read anything they can get their hands on by those who've been at it a while!

I had the idea to put the links all in one place and add some articles by others, and I'll keep adding to it as I see others and write more myself  (nb, I don't give 'how to write' advice as such because a) I am not qualified to do so, b) there are no rules - see my posts about ignoring 'the rules'! - and c) if you can't write already you won't learn how to do so from blog posts).  Some of the advice in my own posts may be duplicated, as the posts have been written over a period of several years, and some stuff a) occurs to me over and over again and b) can't be said too often ~ but I hope this won't be too tiresome.

Here they all are, then ~ I've included reviews of a few books I think are worth getting, too.  Click the name of the post/title of the book to read it.

Let's start at the beginning ~ I wrote some Dos and Don'ts for First Time Novelists, and also, on my review blog, my thoughts on Back To Creative Writing School by Bridget Whelan, which I thought a very good choice for absolute beginners.

I've just seen this very good post called What to do if you have just decided to write a book, a guest post by a lady called Lucy Adams on the blog of writer Nicholas Rossis

Bearing in mind the first piece of advice in the Dos and Don'ts article, I wrote two pieces entitled What Reading has taught me about Writing; there is a link to the first one on the second.  

If you're finding it hard to get that first novel finished, you might like to read THIS POST.

No novel should be self-published or sent to a publisher without a professional proofread.  Read ALL you need to know about the hows and the whys from top UK proofreader Julia Gibbs, HERE.

....and once it's finished, you'll want to decide whether you want to self-publish, submit to an independent publisher, or aim for the dizzy heights of the agent/traditional publisher route.   I've written a much read and commented on piece about why Self-publishing is a creative choice, not a last resort.

And here's How to self-publish an ebook by writer/editor Alison Williams

Watch out for this one: The grammatical error that even the most intelligent people make...

Turning your back on the so-called 'rules' ~ my post about this is HERE

If you've decided to self-publish, you might like to read this post about the dreaded (and very difficult to get right) Book Blurbs

I review a lot of books for a book blog (submissions from authors), and come across the same debut novelist slip-ups over and over again. THIS POST outlines them.

Worried about reviews?  Here's mine for Rayne Hall's Getting Book Reviews
Now, the nasty stuff.  We all get them sometimes.  Here's How to deal with Bad Reviews.

So much has been written about promotion for the self/indie published, and I'm no expert.  But I will say that Twitter can be a writer's best friend if used wisely, and I've written lots of posts about how to get the most out of it HERE, and (although a year in Twitter is a long time and some bits might have dated slightly) I can also recommend Rayne Hall's book Twitter For Writers.


Now a couple of fun posts!

Before I started this self-publishing thing I used to.... 

...and NOT to be taken seriously: How to Write a Romcom in one Easy Lesson! 

But after all that, let's take a moment to Remember Why We Write


Monday, 3 October 2016


Big thanks to everyone who has bought it so far, and helped to promote, retweeted, etc!

Price is just £1.99 (or $2.58) for the first week, after which it will go up to £2.30/US equivalent, so if you want to save the princely sum of 31p, here's your chance ;)!!  Or you can get it FREE on Kindle Unlimited.

Available on Amazon UK and, (and all other Amazon sites), and here is the Goodreads link, if anyone would like to mark it 'want to read' (much appreciated if you do; even if you don't get to it for months, it all really helps).

Thanks for your interest :)

Every serial killer is someone's friend, spouse, lover or child.... 

Young women are being murdered in the Lincolnshire town of Lyndford, where five people fear someone close to them might be the monster the police are searching for.

One of them is right.

Juliet sees an expert's profile of the average serial killer and realises that her abusive husband, Paul, ticks ALL the boxes.  

Maisie thinks her mum's new boyfriend seems too good to be true.  Is she the only person who can see through Gary's friendly, sensitive façade? 

Tamsin is besotted with her office crush, Jake.  Then love turns to suspicion... 

Steve is used to his childhood friend, Dan, being a loud mouthed Lothario with little respect for the truth.  But is a new influence in his life leading him down a more sinister path? 

Dorothy's beloved son, Orlando, is keeping a secret from her—a chilling discovery forces her to confront her worst fears. 

THE DEVIL YOU KNOW is a character-driven psychological drama that will keep you guessing until the very end.

Friday, 23 September 2016

#BookClub admin and members: look no further for the ideal book list!

Top book blogger Rosie Amber is now providing a valuable resource for all book clubs, both online and off (see end of article for link).

Rosie's book review team comprises over 30 members (including me!), and she asked us to recommend books we've rated at 5* and think would make suitable book club choices.  The authors are happy to provide a Q&A to add interest to the book, for your members; knowing something about why and how a book was written, and the author's background, can make it come to life so much more, can't it?

Amazon and Goodreads links are provided for each book, so that you can read other reviews, see how much it costs and whether it is available on Kindle Unlimited.  Some authors will supply free copies (Kindle or paperback).

The list contains books from all genres, and Rosie also supplies details of upcoming literary festivals, for your members' informaton.

It's an ongoing project, so please do keep this link safe, take a look and get in touch with Rosie if you are interested in any of the choices.

The article and book list can be found HERE

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

The Devil You Know ~ out on October 4th!

Every serial killer is someone's friend, spouse, lover or child....

Young women are being murdered in the Lincolnshire town of Lyndford, where five people fear someone close to them might be the monster the police are searching for.

One of them is right.

Juliet sees an expert's profile of the average serial killer and realises that her abusive husband, Paul, ticks ALL the boxes. 

Everyone likes Pru's new boyfriend—except her teenage daughter, Maisie.  Is she the only one who can see through Gary's friendly façade?

Jake fancies Tamsin.  Tamsin loves Jake.  But then her love turns to suspicion...

Steve is worried.  Is his childhood friend, Dan, just being his usual, misogynistic self, or has a new friend's influence taken him down a more sinister path?

Dorothy's beloved son, Orlando, is keeping a secret from her, and a chilling discovery forces her to confront her worst fears.

THE DEVIL YOU KNOW is a twist-rich, character-driven psychological drama/thriller that will keep you guessing until the very end!

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Who is #Negan's victim? Your opinions, and some 'inside' (?!) info....! #TWD

*See John Cleese's 4 minute recap of Season 1-6 HERE!*

Last week I published THIS POST giving my opinions on the big question of 2016 ~ forget Brexit, we want to know who Negan kills!

Now, I think it's going to be Eugene because of the following: 
  • He gave Rick the recipe for the bullets
  • He did the 'not a dry eye in the house' bonding thing with Abraham
  • He's finally started to get his courage together, sadly too little too late?
I asked for comments and received them via the blog post and Twitter.... here's what others think:

Lydia thinks it's either Glenn or Maggie: 'it would also provide interesting character development for whoever is left behind.'
She agrees with me that 'the writers wouldn't dare get rid of Michonne, Rick, Daryl or Carl.  They'd lose way too many viewers and the ones that stayed would be furious!'

@SamTongeWriter, @TudorTweep and @ThatGirlGenius all think it's Glenn.
@DamianSomebody thinks it's a double - Glenn and Eugene.  Maybe a bit like Lord Shoog on The Apprentice, when he does a surprise second 'You're Fired', eh?

Soo thinks it's Glenn because 'it would bring the whole thing back into the comic book territory' ~ hmm! I haven't read that far in the comic books yet.

Anthony agrees with me that it's Eugene: "All that bonding with his AhBroham was a set-up for a fond farewell kiss from Lucille."

Shelley and her family think it's Abraham, because 'the whole him and Sacha bond is to make us feel all fuzzy and warm before they rip our hearts out!!'

Lynn hopes it's Carl because " 'cos if I have to look at his dodgy eye makeup again or that really infuriating haircut lurking beneath an even more infuriating hat...I shall personally take it upon myself to send one of my own undead around to sort him out!"  No!!!!  I love Carl! And speaking as someone who doesn't do teenagers, that's saying something!

Steffany hopes it's Sasha because she nicked Abraham off Rosita (I lay the blame more at Abraham's feet, but then if you fall out of love, you fall out of love....), but thinks it's either Abraham or Eugene; she thinks Glenn is too obvious.  As she says, though... 'Gosh it's all so confusing, it really could be (almost!)anyone! ;-0'

Karen and Julie from FB both think it's Glenn, and Julie thinks that 'the whole Eugene, Abraham, Sasha and Rosita stuff lately has been a total red herring.'

Now for some possible 'inside' info...!!

Machel says that based on a site called 'Spoiling Dead', it's two people: Glenn and Abraham. However, AMC knows about the site and have threatened them with a lawsuit, so if it's right maybe they will change it??? Hmmm!

Another person who has tried and failed to comment on my blog but happens to live very close to me (!) has told me that Ladbrookes won't take bets because the information is already out, and that according to his research the answer is that TWO people die in the first episode, the first being Eugene, and the second either Maggie or Michonne!

It had better not be the latter.... 

So, there you have it.  Any more comments welcome (I have fixed the reply problem and can now do so, and will update this post if there are some more opinions).... and roll on October!

No way am I doing a TWD post without a Daryl pic.... this one looks as if it was when he was looking at Buttons the horse (one of the saddest bits of Series 5).  Love the relationship between Aaron and Daryl, btw :)


Monday, 12 September 2016

The only tips you need to finish your novel

  • Stop reading blog posts about writing.
  • Stop using more than one hour of your writing time per week to write blog posts about writing.
  • Stop spending two hours a day on Twitter.
  • Stop chatting to your friends on Facebook writers groups about your lack of motivation/time.
  • Open the document.  Write.

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

#TWD Okay, so who did #Negan kill....?

(People who aren't Walking Dead addicts, please leave now...)

What's your TWD persona according to your star sign? HERE  

Who do you think it is, then?  Not long until we find out :) 

Now, I haven't joined discussion forums or gone over and over the final scene with a microscope, studying the angles to see which way Lucille fell, or searched the Season 7 trailers looking for hidden clues; this is just what I reckon...  your comments welcome!  

Who will it be?  My opinion:

~The Definitely Nots~
  • Rick ~ because he's the star of the show, basically. And because Negan said that thing about feeding Carl's eyeballs to his dad, or whatever it was (look, I've only watched it three times and I have a lousy memory!).
  • Carl ~ for the reasons above.  And who would take care of Judith?
  • Daryl ~ no way on earth are they going to get rid of the TWD hearthrob!  There would be a global outcry!
  • Michonne ~ far too popular with the viewers.  Would the producers really get rid of Rick's love interest?  I don't think so.  Bloody hope not, anyway!

~The Possibles~
  • Abraham ~ possible, but unlikely, because they've made more of him in the last series, and given him a new relationship... but then again, he's feeling all positive about him and Sacha, and sees hope for the future, so it could be just the sort of horrendous thing they'd do...  he has the best lines on the show, so I certainly hope he doesn't go.
  • Aaron ~ hmmm... but I don't think he's been around long enough for there to be enough impact about his demise, sad though it would be (I really like this guy!).  Also, he is one half of the token gay couple, so they won't get rid of him without a replacement (article about tokenism taking shape in my head...).
  • Glenn ~ hmmmm.... we all love Glenn-and-Maggie.  Alas, it would have such impact on the group that they'd all be raring to fight back: thus, great storylines.  If  Negan kills lovely Glenn, who's been there since he rescued Rick from the tank in episode one, the rest of them would be gunning for him... big time.
  • Maggie ~ Possible, because it would be so tragic for Glenn, and could turn him hard and embittered, a new direction for him.  Then again, she is the last of the Greenes...  Urgh.  No, no, please not Glenn-and-Maggie; too ghastly!

~The Likelies~
  • Sacha ~ at first I thought it unlikely because of her new relationship with Abraham; why would they have bothered to do all that if only to destroy it?  But it could turn Abraham into an insane killing machine, so perhaps a good story line... the programme is all about terrible tragedy.  Also, she could be seen as kind of the 'Happy Shopper' Michonne.  Harsh and hard with a whole mass of baggage, and a soft side that can come out if you work at it, but perhaps not quite as viewer-friendly as Michonne.  I do like Sacha (I watched her being reunited with Tyreese after Terminus the other day, and cried!), but I can see that the writers might consider her expendable.
  • Rosita ~  Now they've ended her relationship with Abraham, what is her role in the series, apart from being another fierce soldier who happens to be pretty gorgeous?  Also, it would put a strain on Abraham, because he would feel guilty about making her last days so unhappy, which is just the sort of thing the writers would love!  On the other hand, they've developed her personality more in the last series, and her association with Deanna's surviving son has legs ~ but is that just to make us care more when she gets killed?
  • Eugene ~ based mainly on his bro-hug with Abraham, and the fact that he gave Rick the bullets recipe.  Oh, and because he had finally come into his own and stopped being scared, which would make it doubly sad.  For me, he's the most likely, although it does also seem to be the most obvious ~ which, of course, makes it less so....
Just love this picture of happier times...!

As for the rest of it, I have to admit to seeing Morgan pushing Carol in a wheelchair in the trailer, I think Jesus may turn out to be someone we all love, after a shaky start (and he is pretty hot too, of course), and I have high hopes for the chaps in armour on horses!  AND there must be a reason for Heath and Tara having been sent off on a fortnight run, mustn't there (I love Heath, btw)?  Aren't they due back around now?  Perhaps they are going to leap in on the way back and make some dashing rescue....

I'd love to hear what you think...if more than a couple of people comment I'll do a post featuring excerpts!

Wednesday, 31 August 2016

The last 53 #AugustReviews ~ and a summing up, and big thank you!

"If everyone who read this posted one book review on Amazon...."

Another big thanks to Barb Taub for her larvely graphics!
This is the final collection of #AugustReviews!  

Original post HERE

So did it 'work'?  My aim was to get readers who have never thought about reviewing before to start doing so, and to stir into action those who keep meaning to ~ there were 292 reviews posted, so we did fairly well.  And LOTS of people said that it had got them reviewing when they hadn't got round to it before, so it's all good!  

I really hope the 'first timers' will carry on - reviews ranged in size from the smallest which was just five words long: no book blog or specific literary expertise needed in order to say you liked (or weren't so sure about) a book.  The average, however, was one short paragraph.  I find that the best time to review is when you've just read 'the end', when it's still in your head; so go on, log in and write those two lines, it's your good deed for the day!

A big, big thank you to everyone who has reviewed, retweeted, re-blogged, shared on Facebook, or supported in any other way ~ please excuse me for not listing you all, but so many have been so generous in their help that if I did the only response would be, "Which of those ten Janes is supposed to be me?I'll have a go: a big round of applause for Rosie, Cathy, Cathy, Catherine and Cathy, and Carol and Carol, and Wendy, Wendy and Wendy, and Sandra, Stacey and Tom, and Mairead, Mary and Barb, and Mr Meerkat and Blooming Brilliant Books, Judith, Judith, June and Jane and Jenny, and Elizabeth, Liz and Lizzie, and Ella and Elle and Emma and Dan ... and Crystin, Olga, Karina, Shelley, Steve, Mark, Alison and everyone else!

To everyone who posted blog reviews: thank you for joining in, and it's appreciated (especially by the authors whose books you were reviewing, I imagine!) but I haven't included them on my #AugustReviews lists because book blogs isn't what this is all about, for the reasons stated in THIS and each previous and subsequent post...

Right, that's me done ~ I have a new book to write :) 
In the meantime, here are....

...the last 53 reviews, posted from August 26-31

Hall of Fame Part 1 HERE
Hall of Fame Part 2 HERE
Hall of Fame Part 3 HERE
Hall of Fame Part 4 HERE
Hall of Fame Part 5 HERE
Hall of Fame Part 6 HERE 

Elizabeth Ducie reviewed As The Crow Flies by Damien Boyd (crime)

Mark Barry reviewed Kill Line by Robert Leigh (call centre guy on murder spree)

Stacey, Nia & Teresa (Whispering Stories) reviewed:
The End of the Roadie  by Elizabeth Flynn (crime)
Friends At Forty by Angie Dickerson (humour, romance)
Curious Minds  by Janet Evanovich and Phoef Sutton (lighthearted mystery)
Arctic Dawn by Karissa Laurel (urban fantasy)
D G Kaye reviews Wake-Robin Ridge by Marcia Meara (ghosts, romantic suspense)

Sandra Danby reviewed:
The Last of Us by Rob Ewing (post apocalyptic)
Don't You Cry  by Mary Kubica (psychological drama)
Somewhere Inside of Happy  by Anna Mc Partlin (light contemporary fiction)
Dark Aemilia by Sally O'Reilly (literary historical)
Curtain Call  by Anthony Quinn (1930s murder mystery)
Mary Smith reviewed Neanderthal Seeks Human by Penny Reid (romcom)

Wendy Unsworth reviewed:
The Silent Wife by A. S. A. Harrison (dark psychological drama)
Stranger Child  by Rachel Abbott (thriller)
Keep Quiet by Lisa Scottoline (thriller)
I reviewed Atomic Number Sixty by Dave Johnston (novella, humour)

Judith Barrow reviewed
Bedsit Three by Sally Jenkins (psychological thriller)
Currents of Sin by Arlene Alleman (thriller, human trafficking)
Portraits of the Dead  by John Nicholl (goodreads review as not yet available on Amazon: thriller

Cathy Ryan reviewed
You.I.Us by Annalisa Crawford (short stories)
Morrighan by Mary E Pearson (YA post apocalyptic novella)

Olga NM reviewed Orphans of the Carnival by Carol Birch (biography)

Wendy Lennox reviewed
Half A King by Joe Abercrombie (YA Fantasy)
Bushido, the Soul of Japan by Inazo Nitobe (non-fiction, Japanese culture)
E L Lindley reviewed Glossolalia by Tantra Bensko (psychological suspense)

Rosie Amber reviewed:
The Six Train to Wisconsin by Kourtney Heintz (psychic thriller)
Pop Travel  by Tara Tyler (Light Sci-Fi)

Cathy Murray reviewed
Three Graces by Cait Nolan (emotional drama)
Chosen Child by Linda Huber (psych thriller)
Round and Round by me (novella ~romance/supernatural/parallel lives)

Val Poore reviewed:
A Hilltop on the Marne by Mildred Aldrich (WW1 letters)
The Summer House by Marcia Willett (family mystery)

Judith Webster reviewed Ice Blessed by Crystin Goodwin (YA Fantasy)

Liz Lloyd reviewed Anywhere The Wind Blows by Jenny Lloyd (no relation) (historical)

Deborah Jay reviewed The Angel of Death by Elicia Hyder (psychic/ghosts)

Beth Carpenter reviewed The Life She Wants by Robyn Carr (Goodreads review as not available on Amazon until September) (light women's fiction)

Tom Williams reviewed The Cauliflower by Nicola Barker (religious/historical)

Mairead Hearne reviewed:
Breaking Dead by Corrie Jackson (thriller)
Jacques by Tanya Ravenswater (coming of age)

Brittany Foor reviewed The Reflections of Queen Snow White by David Meredith (dark fantasy)

The Happy Meerkat reviewed:
Doing Germany Book 2 by Agnieska Paletta (comedy travel memoir)
Blood Moon by Kimberly Connor (Vampires)

Dylan Morgan reviewed Magic-borne - The Crown of Stones by C L Schneider (epic sword and sorcery fantasy)

Jenny Worstall reviewed:
Helter Skelter by Della Galton (romance)
The Unlikely Pilgramage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce (adventure)
The Serial Dater's Shopping List by Morgen Bailey (chick lit)
Thrift by Phil Church (humour) 
The Griffin Cryer by Julia Hughes (fantasy)

Geoff Le Pard reviewed:
Tales From Null City by Barb Taub (urban fantasy)
Raven's Gathering by Graeme Cumming (scifi, fantasy)
Willful Avoidance by J T Twissel (fictionalised true story)

and finally......

Sha Armstrong reviewed
Blood and Roses by Catherine Hokin (historical - Wars of the Roses)