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Posts tagged ‘writing advice’

Alex Marchant captures the Last Word

Author Alex Marchant is first and foremost a Ricardian – yes, read on for more information. Alex also has a background in archaeology and publishing. When she’s not writing, she strides about the moors devising ways to help the rest of us learn about the real Richard III – not the maligned chap of Shakespeare’s telling, but the actual king whose skeleton was recently discovered under a carpark in Leicester.

Lovely to meet you Alex. Can you talk a bit about when you first realised that you are a writer?

That’s quite a difficult question, but there were probably two main occasions – the first at the age of about seven or eight when I began to write my first ‘book’ (I was convinced that I could do as well as C. S. Lewis, who was my favourite author at the time – the main differences being that I had a horse-emperor rather than a lion and a magic fireplace for the children to go through instead of a wardrobe!). The second I guess was when I published my first book, The Order of the White Boar, and the first five-star reviews came rolling in. I have to admit to being rather older on the second occasion than on the first…

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But dreams do come true, as we see! Do you rely more on dreams, imagination, and planning?

Good grief – and there was me, thinking it was perhaps odd for writing to be regularly inspired by dreams, but you’ve placed it first in your question! I wouldn’t say I rely on them, but dreams have fed into my writing at important times. Particularly those ‘between sleeping and waking’ types of dreams. Often an issue that’s been bothering me for a while is resolved in that way – just as I surface from sleep in the morning, or perhaps during the night. I don’t imagine I’m the only writer who always has to have a notebook and pen by the bed to catch ideas, just in case. Otherwise a large proportion of my ideas come while I’m on autopilot in the shower or walking the dog on a familiar path across the moors. Nowadays I do plan more than I used to, to ensure a decent structure for the ideas that come at odd moments like that.

Autopilot times are very important, I find. Especially dog-walking. What’s the highlight of your writing career so far?

A single highlight is difficult to pinpoint. Having come rather late to writing seriously, I’ve been enjoying almost every part of the process of independent publishing. The enthusiastic reception of my books – among both people already interested in my lead character, Richard III, and people who previously had barely given him a thought – has been fantastic, and meeting readers at various events is always a buzz, particularly children, as the books are primarily aimed at young people aged 10 and above.

One of the best was when a young student remembered me from a school author visit, and came up to my stall at an event months later and in a completely different county, a big grin on her face, asking me to sign the sequel. Another highlight was being asked to King Richard’s 566th birthday party at Middleham Castle as special guest to cut his cake, while a very early confidence boost came when I was notified that my first completed manuscript, Time out of Time, had won the Chapter One Children’s Novel Award.

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No wonder you have trouble choosing one highlight! What a great collection of fabulous happenings. What are you most looking forward to at the moment?

I sell a lot of my books at events and I’m again attending a range of medieval festivals over the summer, including Bosworth and Tewkesbury – sites of two iconic battles in King Richard’s life. Only one of them features in my books – and last year it was very emotional to be able to read an excerpt from The King’s Man only yards from the site of the king’s death. I’m also looking forward to reading all the entries for the new anthology I’m editing which will be sold in support of Scoliosis Association UK – a follow-up to last year’s collection of Richard III-inspired fiction, Grant Me the Carving of My Name, which has proved so popular. (Details of how to submit can be found at https://alexmarchantblog.wordpress.com/2019/02/24/call-for-submissions-to-new-richardiii-anthology/, deadline 19 May)

Thanks for the tip!If you could say one thing to aspiring writers, what would it be?

Never give up! Keep reading, keep writing, believe in yourself, tap into all the positive energy flowing from fellow authors, and don’t take no for an answer from agents or publishers.

And finally: Who would you be if you were a fictional character?

Will Stanton, lead character of Susan Cooper’s The Dark is Rising – the original boy who wakes up on his eleventh birthday to discover he’s not ordinary after all. We all need that sort of magic in our lives. (J. K. Rowling is apparently also a fan…)

Thank you so much for speaking with me today, Alex. It’s been an absoloute pleasure to meet you.

Alex’s Links:

Website:         https://alexmarchantblog.wordpress.com

Buy links:       mybook.to/WhiteBoar

mybook.to/TheKingsMan

mybook.to/GrantMetheCarving

Facebook:       https://www.facebook.com/AlexMarchant/Author/

Twitter:          https://twitter.com/AlexMarchant84

GoodReads:    https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17175168.Alex_Marchant

 

Stephanie Bretherton has the Last Word

Bone Lines, Stephanie Bretherton’s debut novel, considers what it is to be human by engaging us in the lives of two women, separated by millenia. Stephanie is a wonderful communicator who has a fascinating backstory of her own – Born in Hong Kong to a pair of Liverpudlians, she is now based in London, but manages her sanity by escaping to any kind of coast, particularly far west Cornwall.

LWOTW: Welcome, Stephanie, it’s lovely to meet you. Thanks for sharing this Q&A about writers and writing. Tell us about when you first realised that you are a writer.

Stephanie: Probably the first time I got an A for a school composition! Those kind of dopamine hits can become as addictive as sugar. Just as well, really, as I have struggled with ‘numbers’ all my life. Words, on the other hand, have been my friends. It’s amazing what you can do with them, from creating and escaping into your own imaginary worlds, to coming back out into the ‘real’ world and communicating ideas, forming friendships, entertaining people, making them feel good.

If I had lived in the times of the prehistoric character in my book, Bone Lines, I would have been a rubbish hunter but would probably have made myself useful as the storyteller of the tribe.

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That’s a great thought. You are obviously good at imagining yourself into the texture of your stories. Do you rely more on dreams, imagination, and planning?

I use all three. A dream might inspire, or help solve a problem, but that’s more passive. Active imagination is the key driver. Planning tends to come retrospectively, if that makes sense. I reverse engineer the planning once I have a character, a world, a theme, an idea that has been allowed to run free and take its own shape.

I love that notion! Reverse engineering planning – brilliant strategy for the imaginative writer! What’s the highlight of your writing career so far?

I have always worked with words, communication or ‘storytelling’ in one form or another, and there have been quite a few thrills and spills along the way, from reading the weather report on Hong Kong television to building my successful ‘boutique’ communications agency. But creative writing fiction in particular has always been my first love and publishing a book was a lifelong goal. So undoubtedly bringing my debut novel Bone Lines out into the world last September, as exciting and terrifying as that journey has been, has to be the highpoint so far

I’m glad you mention the terror. It’s something writers don’t always expect, but it’s certainly there, hiding among the joys and delights. What are you most looking forward to at the moment?

Three weeks unbroken chill at my bolthole in Cornwall in the summer, to rest, write, walk and play. I am very blessed to have found a corner of the world that fills my soul. I’ve had a rather nomadic life since childhood (though I have always been drawn to a coast) and I while recent generations of my family are not from Cornwall (we are misplaced Scousers) and I’d never spent much time there before, I had the strangest sense of ‘coming home’ when I visited friends near Land’s End three years ago.

I had a small inheritance after my widowed mother had died, and I found a tiny place near the sea that weekend, put in an offer on the train back to London and knew it would gradually become ‘my soul’s landscape.’ I still have to spend a lot of time in London for work, but whenever I can get back to Cornwall, it’s just magic. The perfect place to write. (And I really need to crack on with book two.)

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That sounds divine – but yes, we need Book Two. (I’ll put aside thoughts of Poldark for the moment…very distracting…) If you could say one thing to aspiring writers, what would it be?

If it’s what you want to do so badly that you are prepared to make sacrifices of your time, ego, cash flow, personal life, and sometimes what feels like your sanity, then just keep writing – whether you are ever published or not.

If you have something that has to be said, a story that has to told, a head full of characters demanding to written about, if you feel most ‘yourself’ (and at peace with yourself) when you are writing, then write, write, write. But there are no guarantees. Anything can happen and you can get lucky, but it’s a hard profession in which to make either headway or money. On the other hand it’s also a wonderful profession to be a part of. You can also self-publish – but do that as well as you can too. All readers deserve your best, most professional work.

Do the work, learn the craft, take advice from those whose track record speaks for itself. Work with a good editor. If you can, pick a genre. I haven’t really yet, so am no example, but it will help when it comes to selling to the industry and then marketing – and know that marketing is a huge part of being an author too, so start to learn those skills as well. Nothing will just come to you though. Take rejection on the chin. You are unique, but you are not ‘special’ (yet) – writing is graft, but worth every minute, at least it has been to me.

Wonderful advice, thank you! And finally: Who would you be if you were a fictional character?

Atticus Finch, and Scout. The father in The Road, and his kid. Cathy and Heathcliffe. Pip, Abel Magwitch, and Estella. Or Joe and Biddy. Luke, Han and Leia. And Chewie. My Dr Eloise and all her lost lovers, and John, the priest. My ‘Sarah’ and all her ‘children.’ Aren’t we all the characters we have ever loved, learned from, or imagined?

LWOTW: Indeed we are! Writers and readers are the most changeable, and perecptive, of humand. Thank you so much for speaking with me, Stephanie, it has been pure joy.

Stephanie’s important links:

Stephanie’s Website is at http://stephaniebretherton.com/

Bone Lines is available online at all the usual places such as Book Depository

 

 

 

Jamie Paradise has the Last Word

Jamie Paradise has written a debut novel that takes crime to an audacious new level. Night Time Cool has been described as flamboyant, comic, and energetic: a tale of Christmas time in 2015 London with all its colour, exuberance and the odd swathe of violence. It’s the underbelly of Shoreditch and the characters, particularly Detective Inspector Frederick Street and his son Elvis, revel in their complex, seedy setting.

In the day time – when not hunkered down in a dark mansion surrounded by old family skulls and writing comic crime – Jamie is also a sports journalist called Jamie Jackson. He writes about football. “Soccer” to those of us in Australia who adhere to Aussie Rules.

LWOTW: Good to meet you, Jamie. Tell us about when you first realised that you are a writer.

Jamie: Good Question – I have a memory of being around nine and thinking, yes, writing for me – then at 21/22 I knew – after reading Henry Miller.

So Henry Miller tipped you over the edge. That’s good to hear. Do you rely more on dreams, imagination, and planning?

Imagination all the way – get an idea/opening scene/etcetera then away I go – so much fun.

Writing can indeed be fun, and it’s great that it shows in your novel. What’s the highlight of your writing career so far?

Having my first novel compared to Martin Amis, Anthony Burgess, and it being reviewed by The Observer (the world’s oldest Sunday newspaper) as a “rip-roaring debut”.

That is really wonderful, congratulations. What are you most looking forward to at the moment?

The current novel I’m writing – about 2/3 in of 1st draft.

First drafts can be exhausting. Good luck! If you could say one thing to aspiring writers, what would it be?

Read all the time, write all the time and keep DREAMING.

And finally: Who would you be if you were a fictional character?

Peter Pan – I’m never growing up anyway. XXX

LOL! Thanks for speaking with me today, Jamie, it’s been amazing. More Power to you and the Streets of Shoreditch.

Jamie’s Links:

Twitter: @jamieparadise_

Instagram: @jamieparadise_

Last Word: Julie Ryan

Julie Ryan writes Romance with a Twist. Her three Greek Island mysteries reveal the darker side of those seductive getaways, and her latest contemporary romance Finding Rose links back to Tudor days and also the time of my own special interest — the Great War. Enjoyable and enthralling are some of the words readers use to describe Julie’s novels. Finding Rose is very high on my TBR list. You can see all of Julie’s books on her website.

Welcome, Julie, it’s so nice to meet you. Tell us about when you first realised that you are a writer.

Julie: Good question! I remember reading somewhere that Stephen King said something along the lines of … ‘if you receive a cheque for your writing and it pays the electricity bill and doesn’t bounce then you can consider yourself a writer’. Funnily enough, because I self-published my first book, I didn’t think of myself as a writer even when it did well. After it came out in paperback and I could physically hold a copy of my book, it all became a bit more real. Now, with five books behind me I still have to remind myself sometimes that I am a writer!

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Do you rely more on dreams, imagination, and planning?

I start with a very rough plot and a couple of characters but by the end the finished product usually bears little resemblance to the original idea. I admire people who can plot out their book in every chapter but it’s not how I work. I quite like the idea that my book evolves as I write and I really have no idea how it’s going to end.

They do tend to develop a life of their own, don’t they! What’s the highlight of your writing career so far?

There are a couple of key moments that will always stand out for me. The first one was holding the print copy of my first book in my hands and realising that it now existed in another realm not just in my imagination. The second highlight was winning the Tim Poole Cup in 2018 with a poem I wrote.

What are you most looking forward to at the moment?

I’m currently writing a script for our local amateur dramatic society. It’s a totally new departure for me and if they like it, I’m hoping it will be performed next year. That would be really awesome!

That’s very exciting! If you could say one thing to aspiring writers, what would it be?

Sometimes the idea of wanting to create perfection can put people off writing. I would say just write and worry about editing it later. After all, you can’t edit a blank page.

And finally: Julie, who would you be if you were a fictional character?

I think I am already turning into Shirley Valentine. I saw that film five times when it first came out, as well as seeing the stage play. Not only did it provide inspiration for my first novel but I love the message of finding yourself. She’s also a really funny character but for me, any excuse to spend time in Greece is welcome.

How fabulous! Thank you so much for spending time with me on last Word of the Week.

 

Julie’s links:

Website: http://julieryanwriter.com

Author Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/julieryanauthor

Author Central Account: http://www.amazon.com/Julie-Ryan/e/B00F0VYX34/ref=dp_byline_cont_pop_ebooks_1

Twitter: https://twitter.com/julieryan18

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/jewilkinson1441

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/458168.Julie_Ryan

 

 

Julie’s Book links

Jenna’s Journey, the first in the Greek island trilogy is available here https://www.amazon.co.uk/Jennas-Journey-Island-Mystery-Mysteries-ebook/dp/B01GGOCKLK

Sophia’s Secret is the second book

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Sophias-Secret-Greek-Island-Mystery-ebook/dp/B00LFJGCWA

Pandora’s Prophecy concludes the trilogy

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Pandoras-Prophecy-Greek-Island-Mystery-ebook/dp/B00V6CWVBW

Finding Rose Buy the book here

Last Word: Richard Dee

Exciting, engrossing, engaging and surprising: prolific UK writer Richard Dee and all his works can be described with these words. From life as a master mariner and Thames Estuary pilot to baking organic bread and writing sci-fi and steam punk, Richard Dee is one interesting man. In this post we’re going to hear a little about his process, and a bit more about what drives him. I’m so pleased to speak with Richard in today’s Last Word of the Week.

LWOTW: Welcome, Richard Dee! Do you remember when you wrote your first story?

Richard: In 1979, I wrote a short story about a farm in space. It eventually turned into my first novel; Freefall, in 2011-13. I guess that life got in the way there.

Richard Dee

That’s quite a journey! Persistence and hanging onto the writing dream are very important, I think. Tell me, what do you think of dreams, imagination, and planning?

A lot of my stories came from dreams. They still do, my upcoming adventure Life and Other Dreams is based on the possibility that our dreams may just be real.

I see all my stories develop, like watching a film in my head. I can rewind, and I can slow the playback to watch the story unfold slowly, but I can never fast forward to the end.

Because of that, I don’t bother trying to plan, I just type what I see and let the characters move my fingers around the keys. The ending will be as much of a surprise to you as it was to me!

That’s a wonderful method – quite like the visitation of a muse. You’re obviously a born writer. What’s the highlight of your writing career so far?

Fame and fortune has sadly eluded me so far! My highlight is getting a good review from someone I’ve never met. And a royalty payment.

Good reviews are gold, aren’t they? Great to get – but I’m sure the fame and fortune would be nice too. What are you most busy with at the moment?

Developing an online course in world building.

Encouraging struggling writers with my Showcase series of blog posts, where I give new and Indie authors a platform.

Writing sequels, prequels, spin-offs and new work.

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That’s a lot to be getting on with. Well done you! If you could say one thing to aspiring writers, what would it be?

Get the words down somewhere and more will flow. You can’t do much with great ideas if they stay in your head.

Excellent advice! And finally – the Last Word of The Week: What’s your favourite colour?

Red

Richard’s website is at richarddeescifi.co.uk. Head over there to see what he gets up to, click the FREE STUFF tab or the PORTFOLIO tab to get all the details about Richard’s work and pick up a free novel or short story.

Richard is on Facebook at RichardDeeAuthor and Twitter at Richard Dee Sci-Fi

Last Word of the Week: Deryn Pittar

This week I am very happy to be speaking with prolific New Zealand author Deryn Pittar, whose novels range across several genres, but always includes interesting characters and arresting situations. Deryn is also a published poet, and her felicity with words is eveident in her writing. Welcome, Deryn!

Last Word of the Week: Deryn, when did you write your first story?

Deryn: When I was a young mother, surrounded by small children. It was a short story about a guardian angel who’d been demoted for losing a client and was a nervous wreck over the antics of her new charge. It was published in a magazine for women. I didn’t write seriously again for many years as life intervened. Then ten years ago I wrote three novels in a row, none of them ever published, but it was a great learning curve and I’m still learning.

LWOTW: What do you think of dreams, imagination, and planning?

Without my imagination I wouldn’t be writing. Yes, I dream, but they are hardly ever of any use. As to planning, I barely plan. Just a few goalposts/turning points to aim for. A basic premise and some bare bone plot lines – the rest is ‘pantstering’ . I do make notes and jot down ideas but often find by the end of the books I’ve only used half the ideas and plot lines.

LWOTW: What’s the highlight of your writing career so far?

When my first contract arrived six years ago. Such a thrill. From there I learned all about the editing and publishing process. I have had eight books published since with various publishers.

Earlier this year Junction Publishing released my dragon story, and a cozy mystery. In June/July they also released my series of five paranormal romances called ‘The Future Movers’. I sometimes enter competitions and have had short stories, flash fiction and poetry published both in hard copy and in e-books. I like to stretch my craft by writing in different genre.

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LWOTW: That’s an impressive CV! What are you most busy with at the moment?

I co-wrote a novella this year with a fellow author. It was a first for both of us and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. The process flowed as we swapped ideas, then chapters; rewrote, tightened and added, each improving the finished story. It is being released at the end of next month (October) in time for Halloween. Called Angelfire, it’s about an angel who falls in love with a soldier. He has to thwart her brother’s schemes for Halloween and rescue her from harm. It was supposed to be a horror but turned into a romantic black comedy. Lots of fun with quirky enchanting characters. We are hoping to write a sequel and all going well I should be doing that, or have just finished it! I don’t plan too far in advance in case a better idea pops up. I will certainly be busy promoting this release and hope to have the cover to show you by the time this goes to press. We both learned we can’t write horror.

In between I’ve had two sweet novellas accepted for anthologies and I’m currently writing a contemporary romance involving a wager between two guardian angels. The angel theme seems to be reoccurring. I have no idea how long this will be.

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LWOTW: Angelfire sounds great. Can’t wait to see it. If you could say one thing to aspiring writers, Deryn, what would it be?

Listen to advice and take what applies to you, because some of it won’t.

Don’t slavishly follow all the instructions you read about how other people write. Everyone’s creative process is different and you need to do it your way. Some people plan to the nth degree before they start, others pantser from the very first sentence. I’m a bit of both…

You should write with whatever method makes you feel happy, because writing is a creative craft and being creative should give you satisfaction – not angst, worry or despair. If you are suffering from those, you are doing it all wrong. Throw away the advice books and try another method.

Join some writing groups (on line or off), find some critique partners (not family or friends) and just keep writing. Get feedback, try different genres until you find your niche. Read, read, read and write, write, then write some more. You can’t edit a blank page. Words are great things. You can put them in any order and make different scenes. Be brave!! Even if you get it all wrong, no one is going to shoot you. Laugh, learn and start again.

Sorry this isn’t ‘one thing’ is it? But then I’m a writer and words are my tools.

Thank you for this opportunity and good luck to all of you who have read this far.

It’s been an absolute pleasure, Deryn, thank YOU for taking part. And for the very Last Word of The Week: What’s your favourite colour?

RED. (It’s vibrant and energetic, and warms me up when I wear it.)

Deryn’s links:

Lutapolii - White Dragon of the South:http://geni.us/vA2Bz
Luck be a Lady - Charles Paterson Investigates: http://geni.us/lrqmK
 https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000354971548  for up-to-date news
www.facebook.com/derynpittar (allied with Virginnia’ De Parte’s page.)
Blog:  http://derynpittar.tumblr.com
Twitter:  https://twitter.com/@derynpittar

And you can now buy Angelfire:

ANGELFIRE BUY LINK:  http://geni.us/m2WIB 

Last Word of the Week: Elizabeth Foster

This week we are speaking with Australian author Elizabeth Foster, whose middle-grade-approaching-YA novel Esme’s Wish I wrote a review about earlier this year.

Manly book launch

Last Word of the Week: Greetings, Elizabeth! Tell us, when did you write your first story?

Elizabeth: When I was young, I never imagined I would write stories. It seemed outside the realm of possibility. I remember writing poems as a child, but unfortunately have no record of them. Luckily, my aunt kept a story I wrote back in primary school, about a girl with magic spectacles. Since I now write fantasy, it is a sweet story I’m glad I still have.

LWOTW: As a fantasy author, what do you think of dreams, imagination, and planning?

I write best when I am in a rather dreamy head space, almost as if I am once-removed from the work itself, so I guess dreaming is an essential part of my writing life. As for planning, I refused to plan my first book, but have since been won over to the idea that my muse quite likes some sort of guidance. When it comes to imagination, if there was no opportunity for colouring outside the lines I think life would quickly become very dreary.

LWOTW: Good point! What’s the highlight of your writing career so far?

I love the fact that Esme’s Wish is published and people actually read it and enjoy it enough to want to read the sequel – I’m still pinching myself! Another highlight that comes to mind is receiving Wendy Orr’s commendation for my book cover. A writer friend encouraged me to ask her and to my absolute surprise, Wendy, a wonderful and generous veteran author who has written many award-winning books, agreed.

LWOTW: That’s wonderful! So, what are you most busy with at the moment?

I have finally got back into writing the second book in the Esme series. I’m also working on getting better at photography. Now that I live near the water I am newly inspired. I used to paint and I miss being visually creative, even though I do get to imagine scenes for my books.

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LWOTW: I’m glad to hear that Esme #2 is on the way. Now, if you could say one thing to aspiring writers, what would it be?

I always give the same advice. Write a lot, read widely, seek useful feedback and stay humble. Eventually you might find you have on your hands a publishable story or two!

And the Last Word of The Week: What’s your favourite colour?

All the blues.