Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Writing goals for 2015 - how I did.

So, 2015 is nearly at an end. Where did that time go? I can remember a few of the goals I set myself to do this year, and here is how I did.

1. Get 5 short stories accepted by women's magazines. Not done yet. I have three out there with two magazines, have completed another and about to finish another.

2. Publish the last in the 'Guardian Angels' series. Tick. I did that earlier this month. Out now on all platforms.

3. Publish the last in the Geraldine's series. Not yet. Plan to do that next year.

4. Publish the last of the mermaid stories. Not done yet either. Again, next year.

5. Become a full member of the RNA. Feel I'm on the way to it as I submitted an ms to the scheme this year, and am working on revising it now. Plan to get it edited next year and send to My Weekly Pocket Novel.

So, what goals did you manage to do this year? And what ones are still to be reached? Let me know.

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

My writing system

I thought it might be interesting to post about how I write on here. So, here it is: I know some authors type their ms straight on to their computer, but I can't do that. I tried once, and my brain went er. lol. So, I write long-hand with a pen.

1. Write the story or novel in longhand.
2. If I come up with ideas to improve a scene or add a scene to a chapter I've already written, then I will jot those down on a piece of paper and put them with the story.
3. Type up each day's writing.
4. Do the above until I have typed the ending.
5. Next draft - add notes.
6. When I have completed it all with no more notes to add in, then work on the second draft, which is
7. Using highlighters - highlight different aspects of the ms eg dialogue is highlighted pink. Do this until last page. marking any points where I need to add more of that aspect, with a blob in that colour. 8. Do this for all aspects until I have a whole ms with coloured pages.
9. Go through ms and add depth to the story where there are blobs. Print out.
10. Third draft - highlight all verbs for repetition, change any that are repeated.
11. Highlight any repeated words eg 'and' 'then'. Change or delete any repeated ones.
12. Type amendments up and print out.
13. Final edit is the read aloud or reading one (usually read silently as I am not alone that often).

So, there you have my writing system.

How do you write? Straight to a computer or with a pen like me?

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Tuesday, 8 December 2015

More filler successes

You might have seen on my Facebook posts recently that this past week I have had a couple of filler successes. The first one was a letter and photo of the yellow day lily Tigridia in Garden News. I didn't get any reward for that. The second success was that I won 'Prize Photo' in the December issue of Garden Answers (out now). I got an email from the magazine telling me this and asking me which pair of Felco secateurs I wanted - there was a choice of two. As my mum is the keen gardener out of us, I asked her. She chose the one with the rotating handle and shock absorber. Here is what they look like

I checked these out on the Felco website and they are worth £70. I am giving them to my mum for Xmas. Might not seem a nice present but it is an appropriate one as she loves her gardening, when she can get out there.

Next is to submit the letters to the ALCS.

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

My Asperger's Shutdown - What it was and why it happened

As some of you might know from my posts on Facebook, last Friday I had what is called an 'Asperger's Shutdown'. I was fine up until the afternoon when I got my Free From Food prize from Holland and Barretts. I got a bit too excited and ate too many chocs from the prize. So, what happened to me? Half an hour after eating dinner on Friday (about 5.30pm) I tried to read the paper but my brain wouldn't let me. It went all fuzzy and I felt I couldn't cope with any thinking. My body followed soon after. It couldn't cope with staying sitting and I had to go to bed. There I stayed until the next morning (apart from getting up to change into my nightwear). The following morning, I got up and felt really tired. I had had a restless night, feeling hot, sweating and stuffy with cold. I started having a wash and managed to wash my face and arms properly then my brain went fuzzy again. I had to stop and bend down, feeling as though I was going to faint. After a few minutes, I managed to continue but only wiped myself with a flannel and water. I creamed myself and got dressed. Went downstairs to have breakfast of toast. After half an hour, I couldn't cope anymore. I had to stay downstairs until my bed was made, and when we made it, I went back to bed. I was like this all day Saturday. Sunday I was a bit better but still kept going to bed and went to bed in the evening earlier than normal. Yesterday I was still tired but better.

So, why did it happen? What causes a shutdown? An accumulation of lots of issues going on in my life. Over the last couple of months I have had health problems, financial security worries, and I have had to sort things out about my health over the phone and personally, ie lots of communication, which as an Aspie I find hard to do. Lots of these issues have been resolved, and then on Friday I received the huge box prize of Free From Food and I found that someone had bought one of my ebooks. It was like as my mum has described as 'holiday illness'. After worrying about lots of things, they have come to a conclusion and my body relaxed, a bit too much. My brain couldn't cope with everything it has had to deal with, so shut down to recharge itself. Thankfully, it and I are both on the mend. I hate it when one of these happens because you can't control it and you can't do anything except go to bed. You just have to go with the flow of it and get better.

So, there you have my version of what a 'shutdown' is and why it happened to me.

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Social Media Part 2

Here is Part 2 of what Talli Roland told the RNA London chapter about social media.

Amazon - Complete your Author Central page, everywhere. Even the foreign ones, which you can do in English. You can stream videos through the page, and link your blog etc to it. It is good for readership.
Bookbub can be expensive, esp if you write women's fiction. So choose another genre.

Have a newsletter. You can put the link to it in your next book.

Goodreads - Be v careful as an author, esp with reviews. Talli mentioned there had been a well-known chick-lit author who had put a scathing review of another chick-lit author. Not good. Someone said, it might have been Eve Farr, if you don't have anything good to say, don't say anything.

There are other sites you can use; Google+, Instagram (just photos and for a younger demo), Tumblr (microblog, quotes and photos), PInterest (70% women), Klout, which you can put on your followers, what topics you write about and find out what influence you get.

Website. Talli uses Networked blogs.
Youtube - can record book excerpts and blurbs. Stream the video via your Author Central page.

You get out of it what you put in. Awareness = sales. Think global. Be genuine. Have fun.

Friday, 30 October 2015

Social Media by Talli Roland

Last Saturday I went to the London/SE chapter of the RNA. The talk was on Social Media by Talli Roland. Here are her main points.

You should be on the sites where your readers are. So, if they are on FB, be there. If they are on LinkedIn, then be there.

Readers can expect you to be there 24/7. Build a core loyal readership. Join forums. You can find different readers in topic groups eg if you write a romance that also has knitting groups in, then find a FB group about knitting.
Don't do too much promo on your profile page, do it on your author page.
You can boost your page. When you do, choose friends and friends of friends. It costs £10. You can see how many see and share your post. And you can get 3000 per click.
When it comes to choosing friends, look at 'mutual friends'. If it's low, then don't friend them. Be positive.
On your author page, you can click on the icon at the top of the page called 'shop now' and you can put a link to your books on Amazon etc. Or you can put a link to your newsletter - that was something I added to the talk.
When you get a certain no of followers, you can't change your name. And on your profile page you have to have your real name or FB might check up on you.
Make your followers feel special and your posts useful.

Find content that relates to your book and tweet. You can put on there the first line and last line of chapters. Post pictures of the locations in your book (made a mental note to do that in future). Take photos of where it's set.

Still good to do.
For readers - have photos, keep it short and turn off the verifications.

I shall write part 2 on Sunday when it goes into Amazon and other sites that are useful.

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

My NaNoWriMo plan

Are you doing NaNoWriMo this year? It stands for 'National Novel Write a Month'. You have to write/draft 50K of a novel or just 50K words without editing it. I did my own version last year, writing as many short stories as I could, which weren't many at all. I plan to do the same this year. The best way forward for this is to plan what you want to write. Here is my plan: I am going to write a short story for the 5 women's magazines markets I know about ie Woman's Weekly, Take a Break's Fiction Feast, The People's Friend and The Weekly News and Yours. I have jotted down which story I want to write for them except for WW, as I haven't worked that one out yet, but I will in time. It won't reach 50K as most of them will be under 2000 words. I might also plot out chapter summaries for my next adult romance ebook, and I will be working on my Pocket Novel. Lots to write, so thank goodness I have only one appointment in November, as yet.

So, are you doing NaNoWriMo? Let me know if you are and what you plan to write.

If you would like a preview of writing exercises I've been working on for a book, then why not sign up to my newsletter at http://eepurl.com/bwuQav

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

My Pocket Novel has been critiqued

The book I had been working on as a Pocket Novel is now back with me. I had sent it to the Romantic Novelists' Association's New Writers' Scheme for their feedback in August, and got it last week. Most of it was in draft because I knew I didn't have enough time to complete it all properly before the deadline. I am pleased I did that now. There is a lot to think about and work on. Plus a subplot to add in, as well as making more of the romance and making the family drama more of a mystery (not reveal something too soon). The reader did like the title and thought the whole story was suitable for a My Weekly Pocket Novel, so I am definitely going to send it to them once I have almost finished all the rewrites etc. I hope that will be the start of next year. I have made a revision plan for the novel as there is a lot to do with it to get it to the 50K that is required. Here it is:

1. To go through the whole ms and work on the reader's pencilled comments on the script itself. I have started this process already and am on Chapter Six.
2. To work on the reader's comments at the back of her feedback.
3. Might add the new subplot, which is related to something said by the hero. This will mean adding another character's viewpoint.
4. This will then mean adding scenes where the hero works in his job.
5. Describe the heroine's work place more.
6. Make more of the romance
7. Make the family drama more of a mystery. Will mean to take out scenes and work out if I can put them later on in the story.
8. Hopefully, all revisions will have been done, so will go through the reader's comments and check that I have done them.
9. Revise the synopsis.

I am looking forward to doing these revisions, esp adding another pov, which I had thought about before, anyway. It means more family drama to the story.

Receiving this feedback for it, and esp reading that they think it is suitable for my intended market, has made me want to write Pocket Novels now.

Think I will print this out to remind me what I intending doing. lol.

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Reading out work as an Aspie

I thought I would go back to reminding people that I have Asperger's Syndrome. There are two reasons for this.

1. There was a post on Facebook the other day from a fellow children's author, which was really a chain post. I had seen that others had taken her up on it and posted it on their status update, so I did the same. Boy, I didn't realise what sort of comments I'd get. A couple of people had a go at me for doing it, esp as an author. Then someone I know via another business we'd been in had a go at the others for having a go at me and saying that I had AS so don't have a go. (Thanks, Rebecca). I think because of my AS, I didn't really take notice of the nastiness of the comments, and I just thought to myself, why have a go at me when others have done the same. I am no longer going to take part in that sort of post again. So, if you leave a comment on my post, please make sure that it is clear in intent and not nasty. I might not realise what it actually means, otherwise.

2. Some weeks ago, we recorded the TV series 'The Autistic Gardener', and we have just started watching it at lunchtimes. I find it interesting to watch others like me, the first time I have seen other adults with AS on TV. I watched the second episode yesterday (I think) and something in it I really related to as an author. One of the young men, Thomas, couldn't tell the couple who owned the garden what his ideas were. I so related to this when I have had to read out my writing to a group. I have learnt to over the years but I still get nervous, and when it comes to my turn, I feel my hands go clammy and my heart race. Then when I do speak, I talk fast.
This goes back to when I was at Primary School. I remember writing a short story based on a true incident. The teacher asked if I wanted to read it out to the class and I said no, and she read it herself. That has always been the way with me through Secondary School to work to writing groups. Having been a member of the RNA and gone to their chapter meetings where we have had to talk about ourselves and read aloud, I have got better at it, but still not completely OK with it. As another writer said to my post about it, it's like baring your soul. Yes.

Friday, 18 September 2015

New writing goals

I have recently decided to have two different writing goals for next year: 1.Write serials for either Woman's Weekly and/or The People's Friend. 2. Write pocket novels for My Weekly. Here is why I have now chosen these goals, esp the latter one when I know I previously said I didn't want to write pocket novels.

I have been working on a first instalment of a serial for The People's Friend serial writing competition, and I really like doing it. You have to write the outline first to work out where the story goes, which I did for the competition. I have lots of ideas jotted down for novels, so next year I might go through them to see which ones, if any, can be used as a serial instead. I have found I really like writing romantic mystery stories, which is what the story I'm working on is about.

I have also been working on a novel, which I originally wrote in 2010, that I want to be a My Weekly pocket novel. I have submitted this already for the RNA's New Writing Scheme. I have a couple of chapters left to read through and possibly work on, then I will let it rest until I get my critique from the RNA. I have a few mss up in my bedroom wardrobe that I had sent to the RNA over the years and not done anything with, and I now think could be worked as pocket novels. So, my plan next year is to work on one of those alternately with an Aspiekid book. There are two reasons I now want to write pocket novels. They are: 1. If you get a pocket novel published, you can then later on get it published with a mainstream hardback publisher who sends it to the libraries. If this happens, you can then apply for PLR. Another opportunity to get money for your writing. 2. If you get a pocket novel published by My Weekly, there is a chance that you can get short stories accepted by them, too. This is the only way I know how to write for My Weekly, as they don't take stories otherwise, only from their established writers.

Along with these two goals, I am going to continue writing and sending short stories to womags. I have yet to get an acceptance this year so far, so my goal for this year possibly won't come to anything. Roll on next year.

Sunday, 6 September 2015

Have an alternative plan

For what, you may ask? For whatever you're writing. I have an alternative plan for what I want to do with the entry for the People's Friend serial writing competition, if it doesn't win (which is likely because I know of a few others who are entering it). I really like this story I am writing; it's a romantic mystery. I have a Plan B and a Plan C for it. If it doesn't win, then I am going to try it with Woman's Weekly as a serial. If that doesn't work, Plan C is to put it on hold and write it later on as an ebook, which I will publish myself.

You can have alternative plans for most things you write. If you write short stories for women's magazines, then have an idea which other magazine you could send it to if it's rejected. This is a v good idea as there aren't many womags out there now that take stories.

Also, you can have a Plan B for the novel you are writing. I know most authors want to have their books accepted and published by a publisher, but in this day and age it is so hard to get that. You have to have an exceptional story to be taken on. So, the alternative is to self-publish it, and these days that is easy to do. It is also more mainstream and viable. So many authors are successful with their ebooks. And it's far quicker to get out to the readers.

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

The People's Friend Serial Writing Competition

After much thought I have decided I will be entering the above. I saw the competition in one of their magazines the other week and thought, no, I haven't got an idea for that to enter it, so decided to stick with short stories. But then I read an article in the latest issue of Writer's Forum magazine all about writing serials for People's Friend, and the fiction editor, Shirley Blair, said that she doesn't  mind mysteries. Aha. A light bulb moment. I had an idea written down for a possible serial for Woman's Weekly but might be OK for PF now. So, I changed my mind. I have begun an outline for the serial and know what is going to happen in the whole serial as I've already had a few ideas which I've jotted down.

The winner gets publication, the illustrations that go with it, £400 and a free entry to one of their workshops. They want an outline of 1500 words. Basically a synopsis detailing the characters, their ups and down, what happens and the end. They also want the first instalment of 6K words. But you have to send in the coupon that was in either the 15 or 22 August copies of the magazine, both of which I have.

I can't wait to get started properly, which will be after I've sent a short story to my editor, hopefully later this week.

If you are a new author stuck on your ms, then why not sign up for my newsletter of writing tips, exercises and news at http://eepurl.com/bwuQav

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Do you have a theme in all your books?

Sorry I've not been here a lot, but been helping my mum round the house and garden, and then went down with a cold. Still have the cold, but much better now.

Anyway, do you have a theme running through all your books? I do. Mine is hope and second chances. I shall explain more.

With my Guardian Angels series, there is hope for the teen angels, Lizzie and Danny, for redemption by helping other teens on Earth from risking their lives and death, like they did. They give hope to the teens they help by showing them what they can do with their lives if they just try and not give in to boredom. I'm currently writing the fifth and final of the series, where Lizzie and Danny have their last mission to pass and graduate from the school. It doesn't all go to plan like they hoped.

In Geraldine's Gems adult romance series, Geraldine has gone to Heaven after dying and given the chance to redeem herself (she was not nice when alive) by first getting her ex love to be nice again, then going down to Earth to help her relatives get their lives and love back on track. As she is told, One good turn deserves another. So her relatives are given hope and second chance at love.

Then in my dark magical romance series 'Secrets of Singleton' some of the residents whom are single, are given the hope of romance by certain objects who have magical powers given by their descendants.

So there you have my theme of Hope and Second Chances.

I plan to put this theme in non-fiction soon, too. I plan to write and publish a series of short ebooks to help new authors with their writing. The first one is going to be full of writing exercises for all genres, the second one will be more exercises, but will use words and verbs that often get mixed up and confused eg practice/se. (One which I used to get confused with).

You can buy any of the above ebooks at http://www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B0034P09WW

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

A question for authors

This is a slightly different blog post today. I want to ask you authors here a question. Think back to when you started writing. When you began, what words and verbs were there that you got mixed up eg practice/se, affect/effect (I've only just come to understand the difference between affect and effect).

The reason I ask is I am creating a freebie for my list of writing exercises to get their writing flowing if and when they get stuck. From that, I want to expand it into a short ebook with more exercises and quizzes about the most common words and verbs we get confused with.

So, if you could let me know by commenting here, or by messaging me on FB, or by emailing me at julied2511atyahoo.co.uk. I will be grateful.

If you think you'd like this freebie as well, let me know also on here with your email and I shall add you to my list.

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

RNA Conference Day 3

Finally, I have got round to post about the last day of the conference.

The first talk I went to was by Catherine Jones, talking about her life in the army and writing career in the army and onwards. Then was a talk about how to keep readers reading by Emma Darwin. She told us the many ways of writing styles there are, inc one I didn't know about called 'free indirect style'.  She gave us exercises to do in the different writing styles. One of these gave me an idea for a teen/YA book.

Then was a talk by Tamsyn Murray about emotion in YA. She explained one three YA books are so successful: 'The Fault in our Stars', Hunger Games and the Year of the Rat. They have these in common: Strong indentifiable and central theme. Memorable characters, quality writing, fantastic storytelling, brilliant world building, love, romance, crossover appeal, word of mouth success, PR commitment from publisher and luck. You have to know your reader. Research what's out there. Remember how intense your teen years were. Understand that readers form strong bonds with characters they like - make them relatable and make them care. Let them experience loss in a safe way. How? ID your theme early. Know what your book wants to say. Create loveable characters. Do something different. Don't be afraid to write strong emotions. Deepen the conflict there is already not add more. In teen books, more action has to happen more often. MG is best for engagement.

So there you have what I learnt and come away with. I hope you have learnt something, too.

Friday, 24 July 2015

RNA Conference Day 2 - What I learnt

                    Fielden House where my room was. Next to the Curve where we ate our breakfast.

Day two was all about promotion, can writers live happily ever after and writing fantasy and plotting.

Promotion talks were by Jane Wenham-Jones and Hazel Gaynor. The summary from what Jane said that I picked up were: look at why your book is interesting to others, be punchy, tell why you wrote the book and have an anecdote about the book. For historicals, snippets about the period. 
Hazel said tell people your book exists, give readers reason to care, convince them to buy. Keep them engaged on social media between books. Share interesting book-related content. Support other authors. Tag relevant hashtags. Share quotes from book. Update Goodreads author profile. Be a real person.

There was a panel talking about can writers live happily ever after: in their work and with their characters. Katie Fforde said that as real life can be tough, give readers a safe place to go. One person said that readers don't mind if you kill off a character but it has to feel right and give hope. Readers want a satisfying conclusion not an open ending. As to their livelihood, it is tough out there.

Then I went to a talk by YA fantasy author Ruth Long (writes as RF Long). She writes about folklore and myths and legends, esp Irish ones. She said that realism is the key to making fantasy work. Ground the reader. The more realistic the more fantasy can happen. Can use setting as character in book. Make sure the reader feels what the characters feel. Avoid stupid things that jar people out of the story. Magic has to have consequences and limits. Characters have to do something. Look at the villain, why they are there and why they do what they do. With folklore, don't take someone's God and make them a monster.

I also went to a talk by Jane Johnson. She went to Morroco to research a novel she was writing, met and fell in love with a man there, whom she married later that same year.

Lastly that afternoon, I went to a workshop on plotting by Liz Harris. We were given a handout to complete, which I did. This gave me an idea how to expand Bea into a proper historical romance, by adding her fiancĂ©'s pov to it.

Friday, 17 July 2015

RNA Conference Day 1 - What I learnt

This time last week I was getting v excited about going to the RNA conference in Mile End Road. A week has gone by and I still have good and bad memories. (The bad ones will appear on my food blog). The first talk I went to was a Skype webinar with Jim Azevedo of Smashwords, where he talked about pre-orders, what they are and what they can do for authors.

Here is what I learnt:

Preorders are only for Apple, Kobo and B&N. They are advanced book orders. Readers can order the book before release but they won't be charged until the launch day.

1. Preorders area fast track to desirability, discoverability and visibility. You need to start promoting your ebook months in advance. You are already talking about your next book. Capture the sale, don't lose it. Have a preorder link.
2. Better buzz building. You get anticipation, excitement and fans and superfans, which can lead to
3. Better reviews. Fans are more likely to preorder. Be the first to read your book and to review them.
4. Fast track to a bestseller list. A bestseller is more visibility to readers. Sales lead to more sales.
5. Same day availability as launch day.
6. Increased merchandising option.  Eg Apple iBooks Oz have a special called 'Coming soon'.

Planning - Budget for a long runway into publishing timetable. More days = more time to get orders. 4-12 weeks is recommended.

Timing - Avoid Tuesdays on SW (even though I published my latest on a Tues and got a sale). The weekend is the biggest selling days. Holidays and after Xmas Day are good.

1. Contests, chapter reveals, blog tours. Promote direct links to preorder pages.
2. Mobilize your fans as a street team. Spread the word
3. Author special pricing. You can have preorder price cheaper, then increase it on launch day.
4. Leverage other books to market preorder. Update back pages of all other books. Free sample of book. Series starter as free.

But what if your book isn't finished yet? There is now Assetless Preorders. You only need to know the title, the price, the description, release date and category. (Might do this myself for either 'Fire Angels' or Billy, or both). When you upload onto SW, and click 'publish' you can choose the option 'make it a preorder.'

Review publishing schedule in 12 months. Get all firm projects as preorders. Choose your on-sale date as far ahead as possible. Once preorder is listed, promote!

For normal preorders you have to have the book ready 10 days in advance so each retailer gets your book on the same day.

I asked if we could change metadata eg title of book from the preorder one to the launch day one. Yes, you can change any of the metadata.

Now thinking seriously about having one or two of my forthcoming ebooks as Assetless Preorders.

Thursday, 9 July 2015

'The Cameo Brooch' cover reveal

Next week I, hopefully, plan to publish my next ebook, 'The Cameo Brooch'. It is Archie's story how he got together with the love of his life, Gabrielle, thanks to a family heirloom of a cameo brooch. Here is the cover:

Archie's great-great aunt Beatrice is mentioned in this story, and it inspired me to write her own romance later on. Need to research the 19th century more to do this, but am looking forward to it, even though I've not written historical romance before.

Friday, 3 July 2015

Preparation for a conference

This time next week I will be in Queen Mary's University, Mile End Road at the RNA conference. Hopefully learning something. I've been to a few conferences and retreats now, so know what I need to pack. So, if you are a newbie to a conference or retreat, here is what I have either already packed or will be packing:

I will be taking casual clothes to wear, with a spare top, trousers, underwear and socks. As well as spare shoes/sandals, and comfy ones. I do like to wear different shoes alternately, as they say it is best for your feet not to wear shoes more than one day at a time.

I have already packed emergency supplies eg paracetamol, plasters etc. This includes my medications.

I have already packed most of my toiletries, some of which were from when I went to the retreat in May. I am taking with me tubes and bottles of things that don't have much in, so if they empty there, I can just throw them away instead of carrying them home again, esp if they're not recycleable.

As a writer I will be taking with me: notepad and pens (be sure to take a few just in case), biz cards, postcards promoting my 1-2-1 author service, my programme and instructions, a small notepad to take notes of anyone interested in my service. A magazine to read in the evening. Oh yes, and a camera, to take photos of the place, people and the food, esp the food. This will be for my blog about eating out with food intolerances.

I will start packing next week with the last minute stuff on Friday morning. I can't wait. I have already worked out how I am going to get there, and it doesn't include having to walk up 46 steps at Mile End station.

I know I will have more with me coming home than going there, as I am aware there will be a goody bag with lots of promo stuff in inc books, and I will be buying a few books, too.

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Research for historical novels

Last Saturday I went to another chapter meeting by the RNA. The speaker was Jean Fullerton, who writes a series about nursing before the war and the NHS. Jean is a district nurse herself, but has to do research. Here is what she does:

She first gets the background of the area, and has a map of the area her novels are based in. This came from a little book called the A to Z Atlas Guide to London and Suburbs. It includes all buildings dated back before the war and old and new street names. She said she got it from Amazon but I am still searching for it as I want to have that book to use for my own historical stories I want to write.

She reads biographies, and has read lots of biographies of nurses back in the war.

She said you have to get a feel for the story. You've got to have the attitude, and your characters have got to have the mindset of the period you are writing in. They have got to understand what is going on around them at that time. They have got to be someone who is progressive in their times. Still have an education, even if it was by the vicar and Sunday School.

Jean has got books with photos of the area. These include how people lived at the time, and were bought from Shire Books (made a note of the website so I could look them up for my own reference).
Jean also found a calendar of that time. She also has magazines and papers from that time, inc a Woman's Own. She also had a print out of BBC radio programmes. Did you know that radio programmes finished at 11pm, so you couldn't work out how the characters knew it was midnight?

I found this very helpful and now know what I need to know and do when it comes to writing the series of short stories I have for Bea's family, who are in the 19th century. First stop is to find that A to Z and look up Shire Books. Thank you, Jean.

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

New goals - the update

Do you remember my goals for this year that I posted in January? Here they are. Here is the update on how I am getting on with them:

1. To complete my YA fantasy series 'The Guardian Angels'. I am working on this one. Started writing this in May on the retreat, continued with it during last week whilst waiting for edits. Will finish it this year.

 2. To complete my mermaid trilogy. Not started the last one yet. Don't think I will have time, unless I do this in the afternoon when I've finished my Pocket Novel partial and Billy.

 3. To complete my adult romance series 'Geraldine's Gems'. Hope to do this after I've finished last of my Angel ebooks.

 4. To write 1 or 2 more of my Singleton village series. Working on edits for this one, as lots of comments from my editor and lots to learn still about pacing.

 5. To maybe write another of my Asperkids series. Need to revise part of Billy first. So not this year.

 6. To publish my first Asperkids books about Boring Billy. Maybe by end of the year as I want to revise part of it from what I learnt at the retreat in May.

 7. To get at least 5 short stories accepted and published by women's magazines. Work in progress. lol. Have had rejections so far. One out with Woman's Weekly and working on another for Yours. I have found a blog esp for womag writers who give feedback to your stories, so have been using that for help.

 8. To earn at least £500 from no 7. Not sure if I will get there by end of year. Another work in progress.

 9. To break even with my writing expenses this year. I've been working at a loss the last few years. Getting there. Half way there but only thanks to my new business, my 1-2-1 author service.

 10. The main one I feel is... to graduate from the RNA's New Writer's Scheme, hopefully with a Pocket Novel script. Working on this now. Am rewriting a script that I submitted a few years ago and did nothing with. This is a slow work in progress as I only work on it when I have time late afternoon. Decided that I won't have time to do all of it by end of August, so have been working on the first three chapters and will rewrite the synopsis for it, and send the rest of the ms as a draft.

My other goal, which was new, instead of writing Pocket Novels, is to work on my author service. That is going really well and I have four clients so far, one of whom is v appreciative of my help to him.

So, how are you goals going? Will post again at the end of November with my progress.

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

One story leads to another...

I have finally finished the linked short story to 'The Cameo Brooch'. It is an historical one set in the late 19th century, a period I am not used to writing about, and it showed from the comments I got from my editor. I now know that in the era, single women couldn't entertain men alone, they had to have someone with them, or it would be deemed inappropriate. I had put this in my story. So I asked for help from the good people in the RNA via their Yahoo email group. One member, Liz Bailey whom I know writes historical ebooks, replied. She has helped me immensely to make the story more authentic. I have now given my heroine, Beatrice, an eccentric aunt with a maid and a man about the house so she didn't entertain her betrothed alone. Having done this, I thought, hey this aunt and her staff can have a story of their own. I also decided to give Bea's younger sister a weak heart so she has to live with her older sister, Constance. Then I thought, there could be another story there about how she comes out of her shell and moves away from Constance, finding her own path.

So, one story leads to three more stories. Seems I could be addicted to writing. I have become interested in the 19th century after watching an episode of the TV series, 24 hours in the past. I have been researching that era on my iPad as I write the story. It is interesting. So, watch out for more historical short stories from me.

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

For newbie writers - write what you know

This post has come from a meeting with an author client whom I'm helping improve his story and get it published as an ebook. Yesterday I put a writing tip on Facebook and Twitter saying 'Tap into your knowledge'. This is the same as write what you know. So, if you have been a police detective and you are writing this genre, then write about what you know. Tap into your knowledge of what you did and this will enhance the story and make it more authentic and believable. My client hadn't done this, and I had told him to do it. I believe that this will make his story more believable and true to life than it is.

This is what I've been doing with my Asperkids series. I tapped into my memories of what I was like as a child with Asperger's Syndrome and other health problems whilst at school. I've also been trying to do with this with short stories I've been writing for women's magazines. Putting my memories of incidents that have happened to me into the characters' lives.

So, if you are a newbie writer, my best advice is to write what you know. Tap into that knowledge of yours.

If you want more hints and tips about writing, then why not sign up to my newsletter at awlist3836174@aweber.com

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Where I Write

So, where do I write? I have to have a solid surface to write on, and I can spread out any pens and notes I might also need, as well as my Ipad I now use for research purposes as I write.  At home, I write at the dining table, which we don't use that often. We have our meals in the kitchen.

When I am away, like I was two weeks ago, I had to write at tables and desks. Here are the two rooms I wrote in at Dunford House.

The main meeting room, where talks were held. That's my purple jacket you see.

And in the library, where I would go if there was a talk on.

I got a lot of writing done like this, esp as I was on my own in the rooms.

So, where do you write? Do you prefer to write on hard surfaces where you can spread all your writing gear? Let me know.

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

SCBWI Retreat - what I learnt

I have written what I wrote, now I'm posting about what I learnt, and this was from Sally Nicholls.

The first talk she gave was about how she writes and what she came up against. Here is what I wrote from her talk:

Sally writes in scenes, but not in any order. I know I couldn't do that as a writer.

Ask questions about the main character. Who are their family. What do they do?

Be careful what message you give to children when writing about difficult times etc. Sally writes teen angst.

Personality can be defined by illness. I made a special note about this for my Asperkids series.

If you get stuck, think of the theme.

Knowing where the story ends helps the plot

For 7-9 year-olds, don't have a character by different names eg don't call the dad, Dad, Mr Jones and Bill. Call them with one name. (Made a note to do this in my Asperkids series).

As I wrote in the last post, if you get stuck 2/3 way through, then think of what your character already has. Their family, friends and hobbies. I did this with Charlie as he likes cooking, so made him more interesting by giving him a fantastic memory of recipes and their ingredients. It is related to what happens to him in the book and how he ends up.

For the second talk on the Sunday, it was more a workshop. We sat in a circle round the room. What Sally did say and I wrote down was that with plot, Act 1 is to set up the problem. Resolution cane be linked to problem. Then we had a fun hour, where Sally acted out scenes for us. She pointed to one of us and said, The story begins... and that person had to say what the character did. We had two stories: the first one ended up having ninjas and a princess in, the second turned into a mystery/thriller plot. There were a lot of laughs, but we got the idea for plot. Has to have tension in it to keep the reader going and a resolution.

Monday, 18 May 2015

SCBWI Writing Retreat - What I wrote

The weekend of Friday 8 May I went on a writing retreat at Dunford House in W Sussex, which was organised by SCBWI. It was the third or fourth time I've been there. I enjoy it there because it 's so peaceful that I get lots of writing done. Here is what I got up to over that weekend.

It started for me on the Friday evening when I had a one-to-one with author Sally Nicholls. She had read the first two chapters of Charlie and gave me her feedback. The main point she said was to make Charlie more interesting so the readers would want to read more about him and not think, so what about him. Within half an hour of this feedback, I got ideas. One of which relates to what happens to him throughout the book. It so happened that in one of Sally's workshops she said to think about what you already have for your character if you get stuck.

Saturday morning I started my fifth and final YA fantasy (my Guardian Angels series), which I am calling at the moment 'The Fire Angels'. That time I wrote 960 words. In the afternoon I began revisions on Charlie. I was planning to start a third book in my Asperkids series, but after the feedback from Sally I changed my mind. Also that afternoon, I wrote out an outline for my author service to do personally and an on-line, and sketched some angels. Sketched is the loose term for them. I put speech bubbles with them to make them resonate with my website HopewithJulie.

There were workshops by Sally and an agent, but I shall put what I learnt in another post. I didn't go to the talks by the agent and the editor.

Sunday - I wrote more of my Angel ebook, this time it was 1085 words. I also wrote more revisions to Charlie, and I wrote a short story (773 words), which I shall start expanding later this week. It is aimed at Yours.

Monday - there was time in the morning before we all said goodbye to do more writing if we wished. I did wish as I was caught up in what I was writing for my Angel ebook. So I wrote more of that. It came out to be over 600 words.

Next post will be all that I learnt from Sally.

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Pricing strategy results

Well, I had put up most of the prices of my ebooks at the start of the year, mainly because I now consider myself an established ebook author and because of the new EU VAT law. Since I have done that, the results are that I have had no sales at all. None. Zilch. I am still getting downloads for 'Railway Angel' but that one is perma-free. So, I have had a rethink. Here is what I have done:

Any ebooks that are the start of a series, or are 7500 words or under, are now 0.99 cents.
Any ebooks that are between 7500 and 10,000 words are now 1.99
Any ebooks that are between 10,000 and 15K are now 2.99
Any ebooks that are between 15 and 25K will be 3.99. The only one at this price is 'Don't Get Mad'.

I asked a question about pricing to ALLi's regular Hangout. I asked do they price their ebooks based on how long they have been an indie author or on length. The answer I got from Joanna Penn of The Creative Penn was by length and to spread the prices. This is what I have now done. Thanks, Joanna.

Thursday, 23 April 2015

The goal posts have changed

Remember in the new year I said that one of my goals was to write Pocket Novels? Well, that goal has now changed. I am still writing the current one, which I plan to send to the New Writers' Scheme of the RNA, but after that...I have other plans to work on now.

Over the last year I have been giving talks at a local library about ebook publishing and being an indie author. I have really enjoyed doing these, realising that I like helping and inspiring people to get writing and marketing and being discovered. Then earlier this year, I gave one talk to one woman who was very inspired by what I told her, and I hope that she got back to writing after I talked to her. This got me thinking. I already have a website to help new authors, esp indies, get writing and discovered, www.hopewithjulie.wordpress.com, I thought I'd like to take this further. I'd like to help authors personally, maybe with 1:1s. Last year I met a new author who wanted someone to help him get his story made into an ebook. At the time I wasn't keen and was busy with other things going on, and I said no. But this year, he is still wanting help as he is a novice and he is now my first client.

So, my new plan is building up a service of 1:1 mentoring for new authors, and helping other authors get back to writing, with a charge, of course. I have already chosen to use Wednesdays and Saturdays as my biz days, with the rest of the week writing ebooks and short stories.

So, if you are a new author, esp thinking of becoming an indie one, then check out my website link above. There is a contact page on there. You can also message me on Facebook if you are interested. I have 2 friends I am going to help on Saturday, and another two people possibly contacting me from people I have met at the library; my client and one of the librarians.

Friday, 17 April 2015

Make the most of your connections

The idea for this post came to me a couple of days ago when a fellow woman Aspie mentioned to me on a FB post I put up in her group about my new website to get discovered. I needed to work on this myself, as she said that I could get exposure and publicity for my ebooks as she is a book reviewer. So, I have messaged her asking what I need to do. I will message her again when I want to get a second ebook reviewed by her. So, if you have a social media connection that can help you get more exposure and publicity with her books, then make the most of it.

This got me thinking about how else I can get more publicity. I remembered in an email from my cover designer, who had put on her signature that on her blog she offers author and character interviews and book excerpts. So, I had a look to see what I have to do for this, saved it into a document and will work on this for publicity for my romance ebooks first. So, if you work with someone, eg your editor or designer, and you have seen that they have a blog you can appear on, then do take that opportunity.  I am going to note something down next week to email her next week to get on her blog.

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

I'm no longer a tortoise

Bet that got your attention? Well, it beats saying, 'I've come out of my shell.' Get it now? lol So, what do I actually mean when I have come out of my shell? I shall explain with what a friend said to me last Saturday at a writer's talk.

As you all know by now I have Asperger's Syndrome, so I find it hard to communicate in groups and with new people. Well, my friend Marjorie, a fellow romance author, who I've known for years since I joined the RNA said this to me. She was pleased that I have come out of my shell. She said that when she first met me, it was really hard to get me to talk. She described it as trying to get blood out of a stone. I had to laugh. I knew what she meant. Now that we have been friends for years, I can chat to her without a prompt. I said it was down to my AS. When I meet people for the first time, I find it hard to talk to them. Once I start getting to know them, and do so over time, I find it easier to talk, and esp if they are writers - like-minded people. I find it easier to talk to people after I've known them for a time, and if they do and enjoy the same things I do, mainly writing.

So, I have come out of my shell, and no longer a tortoise or turtle.

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Why I like doing talks

Yesterday afternoon, I gave another talk at Sydenham Community Library about ebooks. This one was about how to get discovered as an author. Only one lady turned up this time, and only because she worked as a volunteer there. But I had to persuade her to come as she was feeling down after a bad week and was thinking of putting her writing on hold. I said why and to go for it. It was saying this that made me realise that I like giving these talks. So it was just us two. While I was doing the talk, I was getting ideas on how the lady could start writing what she wanted if she didn't feel up to writing a whole novel yet. The more I talked, the more ideas I got and told her. The lady writes non-fiction about her past life. The ideas I gave her were blogging as it's free, writing letters to magazines if she read something that struck a chord with her (this is what I have done and been successful with) and finding magazines that dealt with nostalgia and travel that are connected to what she has written. I was with her an hour, talking about discoverability and how she can start writing again. By the end of it, she had found it useful and I had come away feeling that I had helped her back on track with her writing. This is what made me realise that I like helping people, esp other authors if they want ideas or that little push to get on with things.

I went to say goodbye to the other librarians. I listened to them talking. One of them was giving ideas on how they could promote my talks in the future. There was another lady there, whom I believed had something to do with a reading group there. Plus, she mentioned she was a part-time teacher. Out came my business cards and I gave her one. Another good contact made. Although whether I shall hear anything from her I don't know.

So, if you are an author, esp an indie one and new to publishing, and need that little push with ideas or help getting discovered, come along to one of my talks (listed on my website www.julieaday.co.uk). Or sign up to my newsletter at
http://forms.aweber.com/form/25/1466306025.htm where you can get tips on writing, marketing, news on my ebooks and events. Or pop along to my Aspiepreneur blog at www.hopewithjulie.wordpress.com where I will soon be adding freebies to help authors with their planning.

Monday, 2 March 2015

A buzz after stress

After a few stressful days last week when my mum fainted in our utility room, went pale and blue in the face and I had to call paramedics, I had a buzz on Saturday when I gave my latest talk about publishing ebooks. (Mum is getting better day by day she tells me). Anyway, my latest talk was about platforms, pricing and royalties.

I got there early, even though there was a lot of traffic due to gas works going on locally. I had a chat with the boss of the library. I introduced myself at the desk, and the volunteer I spoke to said that she wanted to come to my talk as she is interested in writing. My talk was booked for 2pm. I found a nice cosy corner in the library, where there were sofas and chairs. I set my goodies up and sat. I was told one lady had come and was getting tea. I chatted to her for a few minutes, finding out she only lived a few roads down from me. Then I began my talk, chatting about what platforms there are for digital and print. Then the lady volunteer joined us and I recapped what I'd already said. I was asked questions about how to publish an ebook, what is needed to be done. What the platforms involve and how to get to them. My talk lasted half an hour. Then I had questions, which I did my best to answer as both the ladies wrote non-fiction with diagrams etc. Not my forte. I gave them the chance to sign up to my newsletter, which they both did. I await confirmation from Aweber for that. I also gave them a feedback questionnaire about the talk (an idea I got from an ebook by Joanna Penn). It was all good. The comments I got are 'clear, direct, well-structured' and 'simplistic'. Both said there wasn't anything that could have been done better. The one question I was keen to see answered was about attending if they had to pay a fee of 50p before hand. They both put yes. So I am now thinking I might do that.

After a stressful few days making sure my mum was going to be OK, I had a buzz at the library, esp when both ladies said they found it useful and were thinking of coming to my next one. Hurrah. For someone with Asperger's, I find that I get a buzz and enjoy sharing my knowledge of ebooks and all it entails.

My next talk is on Saturday 21 March at 2pm at the same place: Sydenham Community Library. It is going to be about discoverability as an indie author. So, if you want to find out ways on how to get readers to find you, come to my talk to find out more.

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Why I want to write Pocket Novels

I mentioned in my post about my goals for this year that I want to write a My Weekly Pocket Novel. I now want to say that I do want to write for them and not just one, but continuously as a regular writer for them. Here are my reasons why.

1. As I mentioned in my goals, if I write one and send it in to the Romantic Novelist's Association (RNA) New Writer's Scheme and get accepted, then I can go on to become a full member. I've been in the NWS now for over 13 years.

2. I like their stories. They are my kind of gentle romance and family stories, and can include romance with intrigue, that I often read and write myself. They are the right length for me to write, too, at 50K.

3. I can be traditionally published if I get one published. This will make me a hybrid author.

4.As well as getting a flat fee for being published by them, I can offer the book to a large print publisher, who sends it to libraries, so therefore, I will be eligible for PLR.

5. Finally, I will get to see my name in print in the shops.

So, my new plan is to finish rewriting the book I am working on now and send it to the RNA. Once I've done that, I will rewrite a scene in my Asperkids first book and get that edited so I can self-publish it. Then I will rewrite another ms that I wrote years ago and is currently in my wardrobe ready to work on again, and that will become another pocket novel.

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Now 'A Friend in Need' is published, I am back to tell you how to reach as many readers you can as an indie author of ebooks – this is the way I do. In my next library talk I will be mentioning ebook platforms, and this is the way to get to as many readers as you can – publish on as many digital platforms you can. I know that some indie authors have had great success with publishing exclusively on Amazon, esp with their Select programme, but for me, I want to reach as many readers as I can, to let them know what I like writing about: mainly hope and second chances. Ever since I became an indie author in 2011, I have published widely. Although, when I published ‘Snakeskin Boots’ I did put it in Select as an experiment to see what results I got – no sales. When the 90 days were up, I published it widely.  I will continue to publish on as many channels as I can. So, when ‘A Friend’ came out last week, I published it on Amazon, Kobo, Smashwords for its own store and the US libraries and subscription services eg Oyster, and Draft2Digital for Apple and their new channel, Tolino. Now that D2D have this new channel, I am going to put the rest of my ebooks that aren’t on there, on there. I started today by putting ‘More Fish in the Sea’ on there. I have now put all of my ebooks on there. I have also checked Goodreads, and they are all on there, too. My next task is to update my website so that they are all on there, too, plus reorganise the pages for my children's ebooks. I also need to put them all on ALLi's website for discoverability.

So, that’s how to reach as many readers you want to – publish your ebook on all platforms you can find. If D2D add more channels, I will add them there, too.

Are you an indie author? If so, do you believe in being exclusive to one etailer or do you publish widely? Let me know.

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Inspiration behind 'A friend in need'.

I have just published on Amazon my latest adult romance ebook in the Geraldine's Gems series. It is book 6 called 'A Friend in Need'. There are two inspirations behind the idea of the book and why I put bullying and counselling in the book.

The idea of the story was for Faith, who is bullied and suffers abuse from her boyfriend, to find someone else who was the opposite and she falls for him. The idea for a bullying boyfriend came from both agony aunt letters in newspapers and an article in a girl's magazine about someone being bullied by her partner and how she got out of it. Faith has a bit of help from her late Aunt Geraldine, and a colleague, Jenny. In the book, Faith is a teacher but with encouragement from Jenny and Ben, whom she falls for, she decides a change of career and wants to become a counsellor. There is a scene where a pupil is locked in the outdoor girls' toilet and Faith helps her out. This scene was inspired by a true experience of mine when I was at primary school. Two girls, whom I thought were my friends, did lock me in the toilets, but they let me out in the end.

So, that was what inspired me to write the story idea and that particular scene.

'A friend in need' is available from Amazon UK at http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00T3ET0OG
Amazon US at http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00T3ET0OG

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Name your favourite book of 2014

At the last RNA meeting in Holborn last Saturday we were asked to bring our fave book of last year. Here are mine:

1. How to write and sell short stories by Della Galton. I got this as a Xmas present in 2013. I started reading it but then got other non-fiction stuff to read. Then I went to a Women's Weekly Fiction Workshop last October where Della was the main speaker and I was inspired. I read the rest of the book, and it made me decide, that yes, I do want to become a womag fiction writer.

2. Having read the above, I wanted more knowledge about writing for womag's. So I bought and read How to write short stories and How to write ghost stories by Kath McGurl. I now want to write ghost stories too for womag's.

3. As an indie author who wanted to be more business-like this year, I read 'Write Livelihood - How to create a business plan for authors ' by Ryan Petty. This is the book that I have been working the last few posts on about creating your plan.

4. I also read the first ebook in the 3-for-1 set 'Indie Author Power Pack' which is called 'Write. Publish. Repeat' by Johnny B Truant, Dave... and I can't remember the name of the third author. Buy it, cos it includes the second version of 'Let's Get Digital' by David Gaughran, and the second version of 'How to market your book' by Joanna Penn. All a v good.

5. Business books for authors by Joanna Penn. Straight forward talking for authors.

So, what have you read last year and what was your favourite book/ebook? Let me know.

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

My pricing experiment

I have hinted about doing this on social media, and I have actually begun it - a pricing experiment. Up until this year, all my ebooks were either free or 0.99c. Then I started to read Dean Wesley Smith's blog 'Think like a publisher' again and the new EU VAT law came in and I decided to increase the prices of most of them. I am going to do this for maybe three months to see what the results are. Here is what I have done:

The Guardian Angels
The Railway Angel, the first in my YA series 'The Guardian Angels' is still perma-free. I am keeping it that way to entice readers to buy the rest of the series and a thank you. I am still getting lots of downloads for that. Whether those are being read or not I don't know.
The rest of the series is now $2.99 each.

Geraldine's Gems
One Good Turn is remaining as 99c it being the first in the series. More Fish and Don't Get Mad are both now $2.99. The others in the series 'Life' and A trouble shared are both $3.99.

These are both $2.99 each. The last one, yet to be written, will also be that price.

All these ebooks are now at $2.99.

I have priced all ebooks between 5K and 10K at $2.99. All ebooks over that word count and under 20K are $3.99.

So, I will let you know how the pricing goes. What results in sales I get.

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Step 4 - Your goals for the year

So, here is the final step to your plan and the most important one I feel - writing down your goals for this year. To motivate you, here are mine:

1. To complete my YA fantasy series 'The Guardian Angels'
2. To complete my mermaid trilogy
3. To complete my adult romance series 'Geraldine's Gems'
4. To write 1 or 2 more of my Singleton village series (working on that now)
5. To maybe write another of my Asperkids series
6. To publish my first Asperkids books about Boring Billy
7. To get at least 5 short stories accepted and published by women's magazines
8. To earn at least £500 from no 7
9. To break even with my writing expenses this year. I've been working at a loss the last few years.#
10. The main one I feel is... to graduate from the RNA's New Writer's Scheme, hopefully with a Pocket Novel script. Working on this now. Am rewriting a script that I submitted a few years ago and did nothing with.

So there you have my ten goals for this year. I've been working on numbers 4, 7, 8 and 10 so far. Will give you an update on how I'm going with these in a few months time. So, what goals have you made for this year? Let me know how you are going with them.