Build A Creative Platform – Start Today

Author Annette Youngby Annette Young

Writing is about so much more than just the written word. Nowadays, you have to be prepared to promote your work and to be brave and tell the world that you are truly serious about writing. It means strengthening your existing skill-set, being prepared to continue the learning process and, taking the plunge and improving your visibility as a writer too. With this in mind, building a platform is essential if you wish to start attracting potential readers and to make the publishing world sit up and take notice.

The platform in question, becomes a solid framework enabling you to become more well-known in creative terms. You may wish to set up a blog and write regular blog posts, extending your reach by using social media. You may want to write a book and need a platform on which to promote it. Or, you may be a freelance writer and looking to attract new clients while displaying extracts of your work. Whatever your writing goals, a platform is the structure on which you begin your journey.

Like everything in life, the foundations have to be in place. You need a starting point, but one that is solid beneath you and will support you on your learning journey. Professional writers and authors always talk about ‘the platform’ and so, you can rest assured that it is important.  You may wish to write extensively for other sites, perhaps one in particular, and then, this becomes your platform, or, you may wish to have a web presence and share your creative endeavors promoting your site heavily. Your website or blog becomes your platform.

Whatever you wish to achieve creatively, you need a solid starting point and you need others to see your work. If you can envisage this as a gradual journey, so much the better. It will help you to develop the right mindset, the right approach going forward and this is likely to increase your potential for sales.

If you would like to have your own website and to build your platform, do it the easy way. Try our ‘oh so simple’ WordPress training course. 

If you already have a website, don’t just leave it there. Add to it as much as is possible. Include extracts of fiction, opening chapters, an author bio and news about you. Then, promote it through social media including Twitter and on Facebook. If you need help promoting it to the masses i.e. over 38,000 people, check this OUT.

Novel Writing – Too Many Characters?


by Annette Young

As many of you will know, I spend a great deal of my time providing manuscript critiques or editing manuscripts that come in through the Creative Competitor or  Creative1 Publishing and I often see a very common mistake, that of having far too many characters.  Although there’s no hard and fast rule as to the number of characters within a novel, you have to think from the perspective of the reader. Where there are many characters, it is difficult for the reader to truly connect with any or all of them.

It also makes it difficult for the writer.

How much emphasis can you place on each character if you have a great many milling around within the plot? Each character should have a definitive role to play so you need to consider this. It’s true that some books do have a lot of characters and it’s up to the writer to be able to craft and then pull the layers of these creations together to ensure that they add to the storyline rather than to detract from it. In a novel, it is possible to have main characters and secondary characters and those, as I always think of them, who are bit players, these are the characters that are only relevant in certain scenes so the readers do not need to know them that well.

if you are new to creative writing and have the desire to start writing a novel, try to limit the number of characters and make it a little easier on yourself as a starting point. Above all else,  spend time developing these characters so that they feel real as you are writing and so you are able to portray them with confidence. At the core of crafting 3-dimensional characters is your ability to lay the foundations of these beings and to bring them to life slowly by adding essential layers until you truly believe in them. You don’t need lots of  characters to make it interesting for the reader, you simply need a good plot and strong characters that are believable.

If you feel that your characters are weak or that you have too many in your novel, spend some time considering the importance of each one and lose some if you need to. Spend time working on those that are intrinsic to the plot and  you’ll see the difference.  If you can, always try to view your writing through the eyes of any potential reader and assess what they will get from your story, then you’ll keep your writing and intent honest.

Want to learn the art of novel writing? Click here.

Want to learn more about characterisation? Click here.

Easy Ways to Destroy Your Novel Writing Success

Novel Writing

by Annette Young

Even the most enthusiastic and passionate of writers can murder their chances of being successful in their novel writing efforts if not careful and over the years, I have seen many writers make many mistakes which have scuppered their attempts to have their novel published. As such, I’ve compiled a list and and if any sound worryingly familiar, do your best to avoid them in future.  

Waiting and wondering

Sometimes inspiration is slow to strike. It happens to everyone but yes, it is frustrating. You may have the time, the space and the inclination but the blank page from your new computer is quick to mock you for your inactivity, so what do you do? The worst thing (and most common) mistake for new writers is that they sit and wait for the lightning bolt of inspiration to zig zag out of the sky and to replenish their creativity. Oh, if it were only that easy. Sometimes, you have to give your imagination a jolt the old-fashioned way and just start writing. Each word might be painful and your brain will protest but nail yourself to that chair if you have to.  

The evil inner critic

As writers, we are often so hard on ourselves. We expect the words to tumble like gemstones in a perfectly polished state so that little editing or rewriting is required, sadly, it doesn’t happen this way. The writing process certainly is demanding and if you are one to give yourself a hard time on the occasions when those words do not flow and much of the work has to be rewritten, try to stop those negative thoughts.  Even the most prolific and experienced of writers have to push their inner critic to one side or, better still, banish it from the room.

Oh, the arrogance

While the inner critic demolishes their own chances of success, by contrast, the arrogant writer will blame everyone else for their inability to get published or to make money from their endeavours. The road to writing success is never easy for anyone but being arrogant if and when failure occurs will not help one little bit. I have witnessed the arrogance of would-be writers many times and just having a natural talent with the written word does not automatically ensure success. If a publisher or editor decides to reject your work, they do so for a reason. Perhaps the guidelines were not read and inwardly digested, or perhaps they were read but simply ignored? Sound familiar?


With the relative ease of being published these days, some writers are guilty of rushing their work and then, once published, wonder why feedback is far from sweet. Often writers take the kind words of their families or friends as gospel and then publish immediately instead of doing the sensible thing and requesting a manuscript critique where any errors or developmental needs would be highlighted. It’s far better to take an extra week or so and have the book polished and ready to publish than to read numerous negative views. Ouch.

Holding onto the baby  

Some writers refuse to send their creative baby out into the world, they hug these creations, clasping them tightly and refuse to let anyone see them. Their novel may have become the next best-seller but even if not, if hiding creativity away, there’s no chance of progression at all. If a lack of confidence is the issue, improve your fiction writing skills (and your confidence) by signing up for one of our classes, or join a local college writing course. Some writers finish their novels and place them in a drawer and they are never seen again. What a shame.

Calling it a day

Some writers work feverishly for weeks or months and then get completely stuck. Instead of asking for help by the professionals, they decide writing is not for them, it’s too hard. Well, yes, writing is really hard and that is why when success happens, it is so amazing. The joy of being published is simply incredible, yes, whether self-publishing or not, people can read your novel. You become a novelist. Now that sounds good right? So don’t quit unless you really don’t care. After all, you don’t walk into a new job and perform perfectly do you? You have to learn the relevant techniques and processes and this is exactly the same for writing.

If any of these errors sound more than a little familiar, do something about it. That novel idea you have or the half-written novel tucked away in a drawer could be the best thing ever. Don’t hide it.

If you need help with your writing, talk to us. Email:

You can also check out our full list of author services right HERE.

Why Fiction Needs More Than the Humdrum

Bringing fiction to life

by Annette Young

Normal life is filled with all of those deadly dull tasks, you know the ones, house cleaning, shopping, washing or the excitement that is mopping the floor and although fiction emulates real life, the last thing readers’ want is to be reminded of the drudgery that occurs in life. Fiction is about escapism.

Irrespective of the genre, a good story helps the readers’ to forget their own problems. It’s about their sitting back and putting others in the front line and watching them combat the perils of fluctuating emotions, experiencing the dark depths of inner turmoil and overcoming the deadly or dangerous obstacles of your making. Somehow, following a character across war-torn countries, watching them dangle precariously from snow-capped mountains or wrestling alligators in the mosquito-infested swamp is a lot more interesting than reading about a character who is battling boredom while ironing. 

You get the idea. 

Of course, there has to be some mention of real life.There have to be some similarities between the plot, the characters and the reader’s experiences. They have to like or loathe the characters to the point that they are captivated – if they feel indifferent then no doubt the writer has failed. The readers have to witness the scenes around the characters come to life, they should be enthused by the imagery, the colour and the feel of the story as it unfolds. If there is mention of an ironing board, it should be relegated to the corner and not play a main role in the midst of the room unless someone is being bludgeoned to death by it. Draw the readers’ attention to what matters. They needs to be whisked away to a fictional world that  is all-consuming and one that seems real. 

Even the most vibrant and imaginative fantasy story has its roots in reality and each genre should have its foundations in realism. The author has to comprehend which essential components should be included so that the story feels credible and to know the elements of normality that can be discarded. 

Want to learn more about the art of fiction? Check out the Novel Writing Blueprint and the Fiction Masterclass

Writing Fiction? Don’t Forget the Building Blocks of Characterisation

foundations of writing

Author Annette Youngby Annette Young

When writing fiction, one of the trickiest elements is being able to create the solid building blocks of good characterisation. Even if you are eager to dip into the writing process, you shouldn’t bypass this stage because you will only end up performing an awful lot of re-writes.

Failure to consider these building blocks will certainly impact your ability to create characters that seem real. If they don’t act naturally, are not compelling or believable, then you will certainly lose that connection with the reader.

I’m a firm believer that you should get to know your characters well before even starting the writing process. This doesn’t mean you have to sit down for hours, furiously scribbling out a back history; you can think and create important character traits while you tackle the mundane chores of everyday life. Alternatively, if you work better by creating an in-depth profile, do so.

You have to know all about your character if you are going to write with authority. Trust me; the words are likely to flow once you know how your character should act and why.  If you are writing a novel and know your plot, it’s easier to create a character that is going to respond to the various traumas and obstacles that you will throw at them, if you don’t, then you may suddenly get inspiration for a plot through creative characterisation. There are no rules as to which way you should work.

When writing fiction, consider the following points for characterisation:

  • What was your character’s life throughout childhood, those teenage years and into adulthood?
  • How does your character make a living? Does the character enjoy this work? Has your character had problems in the work-place, before or currently?
  • What does this character do for relaxation or for enjoyment?
  • Relationships – does your character have a serious relationship already or, are there issues when it comes to dating i.e. bad relationships, serial dater, broken-hearted?
  • What sort of outlook on life does your character have?

When writing fiction and, in particular, novel writing, you have to consider just what makes the character tick. The points included today are only a fraction of the elements needed but it’s a good starting point. You need to understand that former experiences will impact perception in life and will affect how the character thinks and acts. But there are many components that make an individual unique. It’s important to know how to build in the back-story and to create a character that is rich in layers and that has a unique voice.

The next time you are writing fiction, try writing a profile for yourself and consider all the elements that make up a character that almost walks off the page.






Writing a Novel – Stereotypes and Boundaries

Writing a novel

Author Annette Youngby Annette Young

When I started writing my novel Who Killed September Falls, I had the image of my two main characters firmly planted in my mind. I knew that I wanted September to be wildly beautiful but flawed within her own personality and she had to have the perfect foil, Arianne Tawnison who was the loyal friend, the side-kick who recognised her role within the friendship but who gave willingly and gained much as a result. I wanted September, (Sepi) to have a Latin heritage although she was British, so she could be feisty, passionate and indiscreet, and by contrast, Arianne was sensible, sensitive and transparently honest.

I am a firm believer that you should write about what you know or have experienced, and base your story on solid foundations, pushing back the barriers in ways that stretch the imagination, extending those characters, yet still allowing them to be natural and realistic in their thoughts, feelings and actions.

By the time I came to write my novel, I had lived and breathed both characters for quite some time and had played out various scenarios in my mind. I knew the novel was going to be a murder mystery, but it couldn’t just be that. It had to be about the people who played their part. The characters had to be larger than life, they had to  be emotional, to be able to feel raw pain and to be unable to hide it.

I  also wanted to break down the stereotype that many people have of us Brits, and I say this tongue in cheek because I am sure that there is a definite perception of the  stiff upper lip and that we muster on despite intense heartbreak and emotional turmoil, our lips may quiver slightly but that’s all.  In my mind, I just knew that Arianne wasn’t going to be able to be that tough. She was facing the shock and terror of hearing that her best friend had been brutally murdered. I put myself in that situation wondering what I would feel, how I would cope, questioning how I could recover from such terrible news. As I sat contemplating my writing plan, there was no doubt that I was going to put her through the mill and she was going to feel alone, isolated in her grief and would shed never-ending tears the more that she learned. Arianne suffered the pain of suspected betrayal, faced acute fear and experienced the purity of love which served to comfort and shield her, but throughout, she stuck to her mission with dogged determination and resilience.

I suppose writing those types of scenes made me really consider my own emotions. I don’t like to cry in public and I have never liked to show if someone has hurt me, so I had to turn the tables on Arianne and make life so raw for her that she had to grieve and experience the multitude of emotions that threatens to envelop when someone close to you dies. As she cried, I sat at my desk and cried too. Since the novel was published, I have had many people tell me that there were times in the novel when they cried over the intensity of the emotions and I’ve had others tell me that Arianne certainly didn’t seem like their idea of a British woman and that she seemed to really struggle to get over her loss, so maybe I achieved what I set out to do.

My novel became the murder-mystery with emotion. I created a slice of real life and took two very different women, threw them both into a very dark place which resulted in dire consequences and created a complex mystery with a myriad of twists and turns that took Arianne into emotional places and situations in which she floundered. My ethos was that no-one truly knows how to deal with grief in real life, so I wanted to capture all those dark emotions as a result.

When I started writing my novel, I had no idea of how powerful those emotional scenes would be for me as the writer. I think that Arianne Tawnison really came to life for me because I stripped back the barriers and allowed those raw emotions to live. I think that breaking down the stereotype also enabled me to move more freely in a creative sense. Although September experienced hatred and tragedy, Arianne has evolved and her character has become so powerful that she lives on in a fictional sense in my latest series, Secrets at Cranridge Manor. It’s good to be able to bring her back from those dark depths and to give her something new to focus on.

So when you start writing your novel, consider carefully where you want your characters to end up. How can you break down barriers to make your characters believable? They need to feel real to you so that you can portray them convincingly to others and if they are strong enough, you may be able to breathe life into them at a later date.

Who Killed September Falls?


Interested in reading Who Killed September Falls?







Or take a look at the new series starring Arianne Tawnison…



Buy Part One here:

Series - Secrets at Cranridge Manor











Suggestions For Writing the End of a Novel

By Sheila C Skillman

So important is the end, that it can spoil an otherwise excellent novel. As a regular Amazon reviewer, I have read novels thinking, This is superb. I’m going to give this novel 5 stars. And then I’ve reached the end, and my potential review slips a star.

So how as a writer do we go about ensuring that our novel has a satisfying conclusion? For the key is in the word ‘satisfying’. It’s possible to write a novel having a rough idea of where you’re heading and when you get there it’s quite a different outcome. A novel is an organic thing. A writer may set out on the journey with the goal of exploring what it is he or she wants to say. The theme may be as yet unknown. Only by a satisfying end to the story will that theme reveal itself. Characters can change your mind. A pre-determined end turns out to be totally inappropriate. A story may have its true conclusion earlier than you had envisaged. Or too many strands are tied up neatly. You need to backtrack, finish the story at an earlier point, leaving some questions still open in the mind of a reader.

A novel may have a closed or an open ending. The end may be happy, sad, bittersweet or ironical. But certainly the end is determined by the way in which the main protagonist has pursued that over-arching desire which is the spine of the story. As Robert McKee says in “Story”, the protagonist may not achieve that desire, but ‘the flood of insight that pours from the gap delivers the hoped-for emotion… in a way we could never have foreseen.’

Here are 5 questions to ask yourself as you consider the end of your novel:

1) Is there a “deus ex machina” in your conclusion? Or has the ending evolved from the choices made by the main protagonist? Could this ending have occurred if the protagonist had not made those choices? And does the outcome depend solely upon the inner resources of the MP, which you have developed throughout the novel, folding them through the plot in a skilful weaving of characterisation and action?

2) Have you answered too many questions and tied up too many loose ends?

3) Have you said more than you needed to? Have you failed to respect the intelligence of the reader?

4) Is your ending a surprise? – in fact, does it top all the other surprises in the novel? or could the reader have predicted it?

5) Has the outcome been foreshadowed at all? Could the reader say, ‘Oh yes, of course, this makes sense because…”

Above all, we abhor a vacuum of meaning. The end of the story must have coherence, even if it’s tragic, or unhappy, or ironical, or shocking. Take some great endings as an example. John Fowles’ novel “The Collector” has a conclusion which penetrates the reader to the core, it is so chilling. And yet it has an organic relationship with the events of the novel and the development of the two characters. The end of “The Lord of the Rings”, J.R.R. Tolkien’s fantasy masterpiece, is one that on many levels satisfies, and yet I personally felt it went too far. For my satisfaction, I didn’t want to know about Frodo sailing away. I’d sooner it was left with the hobbits back in the Shire. But that of course is just my own personal response. One aspect of the ending which did greatly satisfy me was when Tolkien notes that the power of the Dark Lord is reduced and shrunk but not totally annihilated. It is still there, in a corner. It can be reawakened. I found that a profound recognition of the nature of evil in this world.

Finally, a very well-known happy ending is to be found in Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice”. And yet we are still left with the irreduceable fact that Mrs Bennett and Lydia and Wickham will all continue to be problems in the future. The problems they pose will be of a slightly different nature as a result of the events of this story – but they’ll still be there, because they are inextricably bound up with those characters.

S.C.Skillman is an author and blogger. She writes mystery romance novels. Her debut, “Mystical Circles”, may be found on Kindle. The story “weaves romance and attraction with spiritual searching and emotional needs, powerful universal themes which affect us all”. To find out more about SC Skillman, visit her blog at to read posts on writing, books, travel, inspiration, art, culture and history.

Article Source: [] Suggestions For Writing the End of a Novel


Writing Tip of the Week 23

Ideas often come through at the most annoying of times, when falling asleep for example or if out walking or shopping and the chances are that you will have no pen or paper to hand. Don’t miss out on what could be the next best-selling novel idea, why not invest in a Dictaphone or use your mobile phone to record your ideas as they often have a recording function?

Writing successfully is all about grabbing these ideas as and when they occur. Be prepared.

Word Clay: 5 Steps to Create a Book From a Pile of Words

By Benjamin C Andrews

Writing a book is a challenging task to undertake. Like any other form of art, it takes time, hard work and dedication. Looking at it from another angle though can help put the job into perspective. One way to look at it is building a figurine from a pile of clay. Writing and sculpting are remarkably similar, which isn’t surprising since they are both art forms. Knowing the proper way to approach an art medium will help you create the most fantastic works of art possible.

1. Gather your materials.

You can’t build anything if you don’t have the materials. Gather up your ideas so you know what you have to work with. Dictionaries, computer, pen and paper, everything that you personally need to actually start putting your thoughts down and beginning the project.

2. Create the rough shape.

Like building figurines out of clay, you begin with a rough shape. For writing, that rough shape is going to be the first draft(s). More likely than not, literary gold won’t jump right through your fingers with every sentence you write the first time. None the less, you need somewhere to start, and it’s much easier to craft those amazing scenes when you have a foundation to build upon.

3. Begin adding in the details.

Once you’ve got the rough draft written, it’s time to look at your word sculpture, and begin bringing it to life. Details are the backbone of a book, and without ample description, readers will have no idea what you are trying to tell them. Just like with clay figurines, the details take time and a delicate touch. A careless thought or motion may scar the piece instead of bringing out its beauty.

4. Check it over and over again.

By this step, you’ve put a lot of work into the piece. Whether you are writing a book or creating a sculpture, you’ve taken the time to create it, and imparted a bit of your heart and soul to its creation. After all that work, it wouldn’t make any sense to just hope it’s good. Look it over, again and again. Keep making adjustments, whether they are finite or massive, until you see what you intended at the start.

5. Finalize it.

Part of any project is reaching the end. Once you’ve reached that point, it’s time to tie the bow on this puppy. Put any final touches on the project, and put it together in any way necessary so it is ready to be presented to others. Sometimes this can be the most challenging step. It can be hard to decide when something is truly done. This is also one of the most gratifying steps. Seeing your work finished and ready for others to view makes the entire project worth while.

About the author:

I’m Benjamin C. Andrews, an author sharing my writing knowledge with others. Visit for more writing tips and tricks, and other quality information.

Article Source: [] Word Clay: 5 Steps to Create a Book From a Pile of Words

4 Tips to Stop Procrastinating So You Can Finish Your Book

By Carmen Berry

The craft of writing can be complex and life-changing. But sometimes there are simple things you can do to get your book written that aren’t all that complicated or deeply insightful. Here are four obvious and practical ways you can help yourself get to writing and stop procrastinating.

1. Get rid of interruptions

Turn off the television and your phone! Sooooo many interruptions break into our times of concentrated thought. Writing requires a period of time when our creativity is allowed to come out and play. Your creative process isn’t going to be any happier than a child who wants attention while you talk on the phone. Put away all distractions. Protect your writing time.

2. Get rid of distractions

In this over-stimulating world we live in, we’re being taught to dash from one thought to another, from one online video to another, from one TV show to another…Whew.

I think it’s even harder for writers to avoid distractions because there are so many handy ones calling for your attention right on your computer. It’s easy to be swept away by articles on the latest political sex scandal, watch a cute video of cats playing the piano, find out what the Kardashians are up to and…oh, that irresistible computer game… No! No! No! Get into your Word document and focus on writing.

3. Inspire creativity

If you get stuck, stop writing and start reading. One way to get the creative juices flowing is to read the writings of other authors.

But this is also a way to keep you from writing your own material. If you need to prime the well, then read for a short while. But you won’t finish your book by reading, only by writing. So, my next advice is to stop reading and start writing.

4. Create artificial rewards

We both know that no one will stand up and applaud when you finish a chapter in your book, or successfully outline a new section. No. Instead you’ll probably get up from the computer with people impatient for you to finish and give them attention. Not exactly a motivating situation.

So set up rewards for yourself when you meet your writing goals. I often compare creativity with young children-and I suspect your inner muse is no different. So be playful as you create your rewards. Do something fun. Eat something delicious. Give yourself stickers. Whatever brings a smile to your face and gives you sense of reward after a job well done.

For a FREE copy of my newest workboook, Make Your Hook Sizzle and Sell, a $17 value go to

Are you having trouble finishing your book? Carmen Berry, MSW can help! She is a New York Times bestselling author who authored, co-authored and ghost written over 20 books with top publishers including Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins, and Penguin. Her clients can avoid making common-sense blunders that many first-time authors make. She works with aspiring writers who love helping people such as mental health professionals, educators, medical professionals, pastors, fitness experts and craft enthusiasts.

What could this same kind of success mean to your career?

Article Source: [] 4 Tips to Stop Procrastinating So You Can Finish Your Book

The Double Edged Sword for Writers

By Jeffery M Anderson

For nine years I worked for an online publicity firm for authors. The company was one of the first, if not the first, dedicated solely to online publicity. When I joined them, in 2000, none of the major publishing houses had online publicity departments. Some of them didn’t yet have company email or Web sites. It sounds archaic, by today’s standards. Publishing, as an industry, had not yet seen the potential for online book marketing, or the migration that media was making to the Internet.

What a difference a decade makes. By the time I resigned in 2009, we were competing with dozens of other online only firms. We were competing with all of the traditional publicity firms who had incorporated online marketing into their campaigns. We were even competing with our own clients, the publishers, who had created online marketing departments in house.

The internet had captured the lion’s share of many marketing budgets and discussion time at meetings. Newspapers and even television had almost taken a back seat. Or, at least, they were riding shotgun.

What the internet has done for writers is a double edged sword. Published with a major house, or self published, a writer is open to taking the helm on much more of her/his own promotion than it is possible to imagine. Billions of potential readers are out there and the writer can connect to them, personally. But the road is littered with vicious petards. I recall one author, several years ago, that made the New York Times, not for the quality of their book, but for the shame of spamming millions of internet users with unwanted advertisements. It was a career death sentence. Other authors have sunk themselves by shilling for their books, surreptitiously, on message boards, sabotaging competing books with bad Amazon reviews or simply annoying bloggers, by not knowing the professional way to approach them. A writer has to think of themself as a brand, even if they don’t want to. A writer has to remember that everything that leaves their computer has their name on it and it could remain online for all eternity.

For self published authors, like myself, the duality is even more distinctive. On the right hand, a writer who decides to publish themselves is able to write, edit, publish and market from their computer. They can reach the infinite number of readers out there and decide what direction they want to go. There are a lot of success stories for the writers who have done it correctly.

On the left hand, there is the stigma still attached to self-publishing with the media. Although that stigma is dissipating, it is not gone. Many major media outlets, even a lot of middle of the road media, will not touch a self-published book. As someone who worked on the other side, I can tell you exactly why.

I read the statistic once that 52,000 novels were published by respected houses every year. Most every editor, online, or in traditional media, was probably offered or sent a copy of each one. I worked with these people every day and they were stressed by the amount of books coming in to them. It was a monumental task to decide what to ask for, read and write about. I don’t know how many self-published books are created every year, but, it adds to an already staggering amount of work for these folks.

And the truth remains that there are a lot of self-published books out there that are pretty terrible. Hence the reason they could not find a publisher. Sadly, there are also a lot of great ones. I never read any, until I became a self-published author. Since then, I have come to realize that there are a lot of people, like me, who have self-published because they got frustrated with the process of finding an agent and publisher. They spent seven years on a novel and didn’t want to wait two more for it to be available. Some just didn’t want to share the deep cuts into their work that an agent and publisher take to publish. Differentiating yourself from the pablum in the crowd is incredibly difficult, but, for some, that is worth the potential reward. We owe the Internet thanks for making that a small possibility.

Jeffery M. Anderson is the author of the acclaimed novel, Ephemera, a stay at home father and writer from New Jersey.

Article Source: [] The Double Edged

Image© Peter Albrektsen |

How to Add ‘Bestselling Author’ to Your Resume

By Sandra N. Peoples

As authors, this is the ultimate goal: to be able to add the words, ‘bestselling author’ to our resumes. Well, while it’s not impossible, it does take much effort from you as the author. You have to believe in yourself enough to know that earning this title is well within your reach. Here are three things you need to consider doing to help you achieve the status of, ‘bestselling author’.

1. Study other authors that have become bestsellers. What are their habits? What do you see them doing on a consistent basis that you are not?

2. Revamp your marketing plan. What are you doing to get the word out about your book? Perhaps a simple tweak to your plan could help you find an untapped audience.

3. Explore all the sales channels. Your book is your product. You have to look at your book as a product that must be sold and look at all the areas of which you could do so.

We all know that in order to be successful at anything we have to work hard at it. The same thing goes for becoming a bestselling author. Along with hard work, there is also the need for the author to possess the time and energy needed to reach this coveted status. Here is a breakdown of the three steps listed above in further detail:

When studying other authors, it means to do your research. The vast majority of bestselling authors keep some sort of blog or have a fan page on Facebook or tweet on Twitter. Join their circles; and don’t be afraid to ask for advice. On their blogs, the authors will often share with you a bit of their daily ritual. Adapt your own version. Consistency always creates a powerful outcome.

Take a second look at your marketing plan to see what ground you may not be covering. You will be amazed at the types of places you can hold events such as book signings, seminars and the like. Your ultimate goal is to find as much of your target audience as possible. They may be in some places you never would have imagined.

You have to treat your book like any other product out there. Study sales techniques. Take sales courses, so that you can learn how to apply the principles of a salesman without actually being one. This way, you can help to propel your book sales to astronomical heights.

You as the author have the power to take your book to a totally different level. You simply have to make the decision on just how successful you want your book to be.

Sandra Peoples is fast becoming known as the go to person for all things self-publishing. She is the creator of the blog, ‘The Truth About Self-Publishing’, and the author of ‘The Truth About Self-Publishing: How to Publish, Promote and Sell Your Own Book. You can visit the blog and become an author in the know by visiting []

Article Source: [] How to Add ‘Bestselling Author’ to Your Resume

Image: © Dawn Hudson |

Book Review of “The Penny Pinchers Club”

By Laura Schroeder

The book entitled, “The Penny Pinchers Club” written by Sarah Strohmeyer was a surprising delight. I read it on my airline flights and it was an easy read. It was like having a conversation with your girlfriends or tuning in to the daily soap opera to see what happened since yesterday.

I bought the book because the title caught my eye. I’m always trying to find ways to make money stretch. I didn’t realize it was a novel. I thought it was a book on how to save money. It turned out to be something different, but there were a few tips given afterward at the end.

At first, I was disheartened because it seemed to be a story of another woman whose husband was leaving her. I stuck it through, though and was pleasantly surprised.

When the character believes that her husband is leaving her for another woman, a friend of hers convinces her to join the club that she belongs to. The rationale was that if the husband is leaving, she had better be able to support herself financially. As the character meets the others in the group, some humorous events occur. She even gets arrested for dumpster diving!

At first, it seems there are love triangles going on with the husband and his assistant, with the wife and an old boyfriend, with the characters in the club. It turns out that misunderstandings from found emails, conversations, etc. caused a bunch of worry for nothing. Luckily, there is a happy ending.

The lesson in the end is that communication is the key. Everyone needs to be open and up front from the beginning. When we try to cover our mistakes, it causes confusion and makes things worse than if we had just dealt with the situation in the first place.

The author did do some research about money saving tips so she could work it into the story. Along the way, the character and her husband did learn how to make better use of both their money and time so the family could become closer. A few websites were listed to learn more.

Some of the tips were to go shopping alone, shopping at yard sales, using power strips, storing batteries in the refrigerator and shopping in bulk at warehouse stores. Even for those who never thought money was an issue, life has a way of throwing change in the mix and we need to be prepared.

This was a delightful read and fun way to spend an afternoon over a snack.

Author, Laura Schroeder, has experienced life change first hand. As a young mother on welfare, she had to learn survival skills. She later returned to college and was a parole/probation agent. She now spends her time writing. To join an online community of care, visit her website at To contact Laura, email at  []

Article Source: [] Book Review of “The Penny

Writing Tip of the Week 13

Ready to start writing your synopsis? Make sure you write it in the present tense and in the third person and tell the WHOLE story, yes, even that wonderful secret ending.  This is your one chance to get the publisher interested in seeing your manuscript so make every word count and summarise your book into individual chapters making sure you write no more than a maximum of two pages.

Symbolism and Names in Harry Potter Books

By Julia Anne Walker

 Harry Potter’s like a nephew to me. I started out reading Harry Potter as bedtime stories – my youngest has just reached eighteen. I know and love Harry like a member of the family: My kids literally grew up with him.

In case you’ve been under a rock for the past decade, the endearing theme of the Harry Potter books is simple. Good trumps bad.

On first encountering the world of Hogwarts and the magical community, everything appears straightforward: Harry is on the side of good. His nemesis is pure evil. Harry’s companions are from central casting – the not too bright unintentionally funny guy – the studious prim one reluctantly involved – however, as the series progress they grow in stature. Adults are sidelined; all three are at the famous boarding school for wizards. The most authoritive figures are a seemingly absent minded professor, and a lovable ogre type with more heart than brain. The scene is set for the three friends to move about freely in a wonderfully populated other world, which exists unnoticed within the United Kingdom.

The message is clear. Good finds ingenious ways to triumph thanks to friendship, loyalty and bravery. And the public have taken Harry and Co to their hearts. Step forward; take a bow J K Rowling. The woman responsible for encouraging a whole generation of school kids to embrace reading. Not to mention keeping half the population of British thespians in work.

I’ll admit tho’ to a teensy weeny smidgen of envy towards J K Rowling. No – not the massive fame and fortune side of things. I envy her ability to conjure up a person’s character with a name: Hasn’t she just nailed it? Take Harry for starters:

 ‘The game’s afoot: Follow your spirit; and, upon this charge, Cry ‘God for Harry!’ (3.1.31) Shakespeare Henry V.

Potter can be viewed as an ordinary surname, meaning to shape and create from clay. Ron Weasley, loyal friend and famous ginger has a name reminiscent of Weasel, a small russet coloured mammal punching well above its weight. The perfect sidekick, except this one gets the girl. And what a girl: Hermione Granger – You just know she’s from a family of intellectuals.

It doesn’t stop there:

Remus (Romulus & Remus raised by wolves) Lupin (Lupus – meaning wolf).

 Minerva McGonagan – Greek goddess of learning, the Scottish McGonagan evokes sternness with a hint (gone again) at the professor’s ability to shape shift into an ordinary tabby cat.

 Even cameo roles have the same treatment, consider: Rita Skeeter acid penned journalist. Writer of sketches. Fawkes the phoenix – bonfire night and fireworks.

 To say nothing of the word ‘muggles’. A term used for non-magical humans. Perfectly describing our world without magic as a ‘muddle’, don’t you think?

Even the house names hint why the ‘Sorting hat’ decided a particular pupil would suit: Gryffindor (Griffin: Legendary creature guarding London) Ravenclaw (Odin’s all seeing Ravens) Hufflepuff (duffers represented by a badger) and boo hiss Slytherin shouts out the nature of its clan.

My particular favourite is Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans. Anyone want one of Bertie Bassett’s Liquorice allsorts?

 The masterstroke though, is Voldemort. Or rather, ‘He who must not be named.’ De Mort. Of death. And J.K. has instantly tapped into our greatest fear. In western culture, death is a taboo subject.

 These interpretations are entirely my own. Doubtless J K Rowling deliberately chose some names for their connotations, others are my own fancy, but the point is – she’s done it. Effortlessly, she’s drawn pictures in reader’s minds by the simplest of methods. Its one used by authors down the ages: Heathcliff – immediately you’re on the wild moors of Yorkshire – Darcy takes you straight into genteel society while Bilbo Baggins could only inhabit a hobbit’s world. The children drawn into Narnia are typically no-nonsense Susans Edmunds etc., they could be any school child of the mid twentieth century whilst Aslan is Greek for lion.

 All these characters now exist outside of the pages and novels they originated from; they’ve become household names.

 Did I say this was a simple method? As I’ve learned from experience, it’s anything but. When outlining ‘A Ripple in Time’, a novel revolving around a time travel portal located at Stonehenge, using the mythical sword Excalibur as a catalyst, I found some characters suggested their own names. Others wouldn’t play ball. As author, I got my own back, for example shortening Rhyllann to Annie. That’ll teach him!

 We see only the end product. Of course Draco Malfoy is a nasty piece of work. With a name like that, who wouldn’t be?

 Rowling’s talent is to conjure vivid pictures in your mind, merely by giving each character their correct name.

 Now that’s magic.

 Article Source: [] Symbolism and Names in Harry Potter Books

First Chapter Writing Competition

1st Prize: £300
2nd Prize:£200
3rd Prize:£100
4th Prize:£50

Entry fee: £4.00

Closing date: October 21st 2011

A first chapter has to be convincing, compelling and tightly written to capture the reader’s attention and to plunge them straight into the heart of the plot so this competition requires you to think carefully about your opening and to lead the reader (i.e. us) into a plot that ensnares us immediately.

Hook us and you could win a fantastic cash prize and publication. (Winning Submission only). Your first chapter can be in any style or genre and must be written in 5000 words or less.
Submissions must be previously unpublished and original.

Open to writers worldwide but please note you must be over 18 years of age to win a cash prize.

Please send your submission by email to:
Write First Chapter Competition in the subject line.

Submissions can be sent by post-address details here:

Please note: It can take some time (months on occasion)to judge writing competitions as we ensure that we read each and every submission and work on a short-list process. By entering this competition, you are implying acceptance to the rules.

Critique your own Writing

There is no doubt that a professional novel critique can help you to get your work published but it is possible to critique your own writing before investing in a professional manuscript evaluation as there is much that you can identify if you read your work and consider it analytically. Whilst a professional novel critique provides feedback on your work as a whole and also, feedback on elements that you may not have even considered, by changing your perspective, you can read the manuscript through a reader’s eyes.  

If you would like to critique your own writing:

1.  Read your manuscript through from start to finish and then make an honest assessment. Consider whether you really liked the plot, how well it read and any areas that might need a little bit more work.


2. Do your characters stand out? You might know that the main character looks like your Uncle Charlie but have you described him properly to your reader? The reader cannot hope to visualise your characters unless you have made them larger than life through careful description and the revelation of important facts.


3.  Does your opening chapter have the wow factor? Make your opening dynamic and compelling because if you don’t, the reader will simply stop reading.


4. Have you added conflict to your story? The best storylines have the reader gripped by the characters having to fight to overcome the odds. Even the most romantic of fiction will have carefully places obstacles to hinder the unfolding love story.


5. Do you have too much dialogue? Dialogue is a fantastic way of bringing life to any story and to also break up large passages of text but it shouldn’t be overpowering, but must be relative and flow naturally.


6. As a writer, it is important that you find your own voice and style. Are you happy with yours and satisfied that your style is easy to read?


7. Have you provided a satisfying conclusion to your writing? If not your readers’ will be left feeling disappointed.


8. Finally, check and re-check for correct punctuation and that language and grammar is correct. Silly mistakes will detract from the flow of the storyline and would hinder your chances of placing your manuscript with an agent or publisher.

Critique your own writing and note the difference in the polished version of your manuscript, then once you are ready, invest in a professional novel critique before submitting for publication.

Writing A Crime Novel? Plan The Death Scene Carefully

 If you are writing a crime novel, then planning the death scene is of the utmost importance. Not only should it be written creatively but with careful attention to detail. As a writer, you should not be short on imagination and should be able to picture those crucial final moments quite vividly in your mind’s eye. This visualisation process is important because in order to hook your reader and to be able to write convincingly, you need to be able to describe the scene in detail. Planning your crime story initially is important too because this will help you to be able to build the tension leading up to the murder and draw the reader along with you. Writing with a sense of confidence and purpose will also have the reader believing in the plot and help them to become absorbed in the storyline as it unfolds.


When writing a crime novel, consider how many death scenes you are planning to have and whether your antagonist has a certain macabre style or whose murderous acts might be designed with a meticulous edge. Either will create tension and add all -important dimensions to the plot but consistency is useful so that the reader feels a sense of credibility with your character. Knowing why the antagonist kills will help you to plan the perfect murder scene, for example:


  • The antagonist has a fear of women and finds himself in a situation where a woman is aggressive in her behaviour towards him and he reacts violently from panicking.
  • The female antagonist was previously raped and is out for revenge against all men.
  • The antagonist feels invisible and unimportant so murder is a way of achieving notoriety and fame. 

It will help too if you know your character’s foibles  when writing these scenes.. There would be no point creating a blood bath at the scene of crime if your character is squeamish and would be ill at the sight of so much blood. This immediately would make the plot seem unrealistic to the reader and you do not want to give the reader any opportunity of putting your book down. If you want to get your book published, it is crucial that you consider these aspects fully and through careful consideration and your connection  to the character will grow much stronger.


Other points to consider are:

  •  Will there be any witnesses?
  • How did the murderer leave the scene of crime and was any evidence left behind?
  • What is the murder weapon and where is it now?
  • Was death instantaneous?
  • Did the murderer enjoy the act and has a serial killer been born?


All of these questions are ones that you need to be aware of and to be able to answer prior to planning your crime scene. When writing a crime novel, you need to live and breathe the plot and any complex twist and turns if you wish your book to be successful.

Manuscript Critique- Why You Should Invest In Your Writing

You have sweated blood and tears and poured every emotion into writing thousands of words and have finally finished  and yet requesting  a manuscript critique may be the last thing on your mind..why?

Whilst there is no hard and fast rule that writers have to have their manuscript appraised, it does make sense to have someone check your manuscript over in a professional capacity prior to sending it to an agent or publisher.  I see hundreds of manuscripts each year and there are very few that don’t need a fair bit of editing or rewriting and this is not detrimental to those writers, it’s simply the way it is. Even those writers who have gone to considerable lengths to edit as they progress throughout the novel will still have a fair bit of work to do at the end.

I have the utmost admiration for those writers who complete their novels. Writing a novel is a tremendous commitment and as so many people these days are overly stretched in terms of time and personal commitments, it is astounding that so many novels are actually completed at all. I have run several novel writing courses at college in the UK and one term, some students were completing upwards of 70,000 words within a ten week period, that’s a lot of words  pouring out on to paper and with this much time and dedication, it makes sense to give your novel a fighting chance.

Requesting a manuscript critique shows a determination to address any issues that might be apparentand therefore reduces the chances of receiving unwanted rejection slips.  I personally think that many writers are concerned  about hearing ‘bad news’ when the critique comes through but I’m a writer myself and  I know how difficult it can be to hear any type of criticism. Just remember that a professional manuscript critique is not there to slate your manuscript, it’s a positive tool that supports your goals and ultimately raises your potential to be published.