10 mistakes I made with my book design

A book needs a cover. A cover should have a title, the name of the author and some sort of image that relates to the content of the book. How hard can that be? Turns out it’s REALLY hard. There are lots of mistakes to be made, and I’ve made most of them in the few covers I’ve designed for my books. And then there’s the book’s internal design. I’d thought that was all about inserting page numbers. WRONG! There’s a lot more to it than that. Continue reading

10 places to find writing inspiration

flowers on old bookSome people have a million stories rattling around their heads just waiting to be told. But I’m not one of them. Faced with a blank page I’ve no idea where to start. Nevertheless, I like writing. I love the creative process and the craft of writing, the feeling of something forming, of giving it shape, of saying something, of discovering something about the world and myself. Continue reading

How writing poetry improved my prose

handwriting and penA long time ago I enrolled for an on-line writing course because I wanted to write a novel and thought I’d better learn how to do it. So imagine my disbelief when the first thing I was asked to do was write a poem. A poem? What did poems have to do with writing novels? But I’m an obedient soul so I did it. It wasn’t very good and to prove it, here it is: Continue reading

10 tips for naming your characters

memorial with names

Naming characters is one of the most fun things to do when writing a novel, but there are a few pitfalls and I’ve fallen into most of them. So I thought I’d share a few tips I’ve picked along during my writing journey.

1 Keep a list of your characters

If you don’t, you might accidentally use the same name twice, as I did, or use a similar name, which could be confusing (see tip 2). A list is also useful to generate a dramatis personae: common in historical and fantasy novels. But what about short stories, where there are only a few characters? A list is a good idea here too. When I collected my short stories together for publication, I discovered I had 5 Julias and 2 Julians as main characters. If only I’d kept a list … Continue reading

10 reasons why novelists should write short stories

hand writing in notebook

When I started writing I was a bit dismissive of short stories. I enjoyed reading them but I didn’t want to write one. I was going to be a novelist so why should I bother writing short stories? However, for one reason or another, I’ve written a whole pile of short stories – 88 at the last count – and it’s turned out to be really helpful to me as an aspiring novelist – for all sorts of reasons: Continue reading

How long should your novel be?

This blog post isn’t about string but it is about length. How long ‘should’ your writing be? This is something I’ve been wrestling with for years since I’m a chronic over-writer and I’m usually editing like mad to get something down to the ‘right’ length. But what is the ‘right’ length? A quick google comes up with the following guidelines which I’ve compiled from various sources (a few of the links are the bottom of this post): Continue reading

How to write battle scenes

‘Write what you know’. That’s what they say, isn’t it? But I’m so non-confrontational I don’t get into arguments, far less a fight. So a battle is so far out of my comfort zone it’s practically over the horizon. However, I’m writing an epic historical adventure which has several fights and a battle or two so I had to write them. This month’s novel extract is the battle scene from the middle of The Wolf in Winter, the first book of The Trystan Trilogy. I really enjoyed writing this, but where did I start? Continue reading