Goals: Progress Since June 2019

Here is an update on how I have progressed towards the goals I set in March 2019 (towards achieving my annual goals set in January).

Social Media

Blog (Word Press):  To continue to post at least twice a week keeping to my content schedule as much as possible. 

This has been happening even though it has been challenging to find time since returning to work.  With my hashtag series, I’ve got quite a few posts already scheduled so I should be able to post twice a week for a little while still.

Instagram:  To maintain the new connections I have made and continue to engage with them and share content about my writing.

This has definitely happened and I there are some writers that stand out to me as we have been chatting off Instagram (I even met three of them in person).

On Instagram, I took part in the #WIWJulyChallenge by @worldindiewarriors.  I have continued to post for the #StorySnippetsSaturday challenge and I took part in their week long #WritingJourneyChallenge in August by the same hosts.  For September, I have been doing the #aestheticWIPup photo challenge (I’ll share my highlights soon).  

I got to create the October Instagram photo challenge #WIWOctober for @worldindiewarriors , so I need to post daily for that – eek. 

Twitter:  Continue to share links to my content on Twitter and connect with writers on the platform.

Twitter is a platform I’ve neglected as Instagram has taken precedent and I tend to only use it for events.  On Twitter, I took part in #SFFpit September,  #PitMad September.  I am also taking part in #PitchWars.  

Facebook page:  To brainstorm how I can use this to connect with more writers.

I haven’t really done this.

YouTube: To be brave and get in front of the camera and start sharing video content.  

I just don’t have the opportunity to create videos. With an ambitious, mischievous, one year old that rarely naps, I think I will have to put this goal on hold until she moves out.  

Tumblr: Share Instagram and Word Press content to this platform.

This happens all the time. 


I managed to send out my first ever newsletter (sign up here).


Jewel of the sea (formerly Drift)

  • Edit: Enter into the Wattys.  Put novel out to Beta Readers.  Take part in September’s #PitMad.  Work on my query letter. 

I’ve attended a few pitch events and got some requests. As a result, I had to work on my query letter (which I am rubbish at) and send to the interested parties.

I didn’t put my novel on Beta Readers but I did email it to some writer friends to read for me. I’m saving up for an editor and I think once I finish the next edit, I’ll try out the Beta Readers site.

I entered Wattys 2019 and as I write this post I don’t yet know the results. They are released today! Wish me luck.

Diamond in the sky (formerly Glide)

  • Finish & edit:  Diamond in the Sky has been on hold but work on this is possible to start in July or August but I plan to give myself a little break.

I went back to the drawing board. I’ve got a new notebook and I’m exploring all the characters – even the side ones – to make them more real. I’ve also been use Save the Cat to work out the plot and beats as I’m struggling with how to put the pieces together towards Act 3 and 4. I know what I want to happen and can see certain scenes in my head but I need to put it together. The aestheticWIPup challenge this month has really helped me discover where the gaps are.

Tinsel Tiger (picture book)

  • EXTRA: I needed a picture book to enter a competition.  I decided to edit a poem I had written into a picture book format and submitted it. I also pitched it during #PitMad.

I have pitched my picture book a few times but not had any interest. Is it the pitch or the story? I don’t know.

I have thought about researching agents and querying them. I love the story but I’ve not written a picture book before so perhaps I’m doing it wrong.

I’ve also thought about another poem I wrote that I think could be edited into a fun picture book.

Writing Course/Writing Festivals

  • Third Quarter: Attend writing festivals

I’ve attended a few Literary Festivals over the summer and they’ve been a wealth of information.  Granted these weren’t free to attend but I made the most of what I got for my money:

  • Felixstowe Book Festival – Felixstowe
  • YALC Book Festival – London
  • MKLit Festival (blog post coming soon) – Milton Keynes
  • Wow-Con (blog post coming soon) – online


Working Together Course:  Finish this course.

I’ve got a certificate and everything. *happy dance*

Crafts: Make time at least once a week:

  • Planner:  continue to use Carpe Diem planner
  • Pocket letter:  write another pocket letter
  • Scrapbook:  Do at least one page
  • Crochet:  Finish Aria’s blanket for her birthday

Over the summer crafts has taken a nose dive. I did take Noah to a local craft cafe to do some activities but the challenge is Aria.

This week she removed a painting from the wall, took the leg off a table and climbed up a chest of drawer to throw pens at us. If you restrain her (car seat, cot or a high chair), she just screams. Until Aria is more easy going, she needs someone to play with her so I can help Noah do crafts or even his homework.

In the evenings, I’ve been focused on reading/writing and it’s left no time for anything else. The local craft cafe also do evening activities for grown ups so once Aria is better at night, I’m going to a scrapbook evening.

Read at least four and a half books by the end of September (annual goal 6 books):

I’ve smashed this. I’ve finished my annual reading goal. This summer I have read Envy, The Deepest Blue (book reviews of the last two are coming).

I bought lots of books at YALC. I’ve also been sent some books by authors for me to review and I’ve borrowed books from the library. I’ve got ebooks on my Kindle. I’ve even got sample books and guide books from Ingram Spark. I’ve got more books than time!

I’ve almost finished You Stole My Heart, Do I have To Take Your Name and I’m reading The Lost Prince on loan from the library and got The Cruel Prince waiting on my Kindle.

That’s enough about my goals, did you achieve yours? Let me know in the comments. If you enjoyed this post, you will like:




  • Writer courses:  Continue to take advantage of any free courses that come my way if I have the time to do these. 

These have mainly been the workshops at the book festivals, etc.  However, a friend on Instagram recently sent me access to her self editing course for me to review which I am eager to take a look at as editing is one of my major struggles.

  • Resource book:  Buy another writing help book.  I am considering the Emotion Thesaurus.

I downloaded a sample on my Kindle but haven’t looked at it yet.  The other day someone posted on Instagram a picture of a book they are using for plotting and it looked awesome and now I want that one too.  And, I’ve been toying with buying the Writers and Artists Yearbook but can’t decide if I need the children’s one or adults…

What’s next

I’m going to evaluate how I am doing and set some new goals for the next quarter.  

Let me know how you are progressing towards your goals and whether you check in on yourself too?

If you enjoyed this post, you may also like:

Goals: Progress Since March 2019

Felixstowe Book Festival – How to connect with local writers?

Why I love YALC

Book Review: Save the Cat, Writes a Novel


Click My Link Tree
To Connect On Social Media
Click My Link Tree
To Connect On Social Media

Useful hashtags for writers (part 2) – writing communities

To read part 1, please click here.

For part 2, I am going to share tags for more general communities that are not hosted by anyone.

General writing community

#writer #writers #writerofig #writersofig #writerofinstagram #writersofinstagram #instagramwriter #instagramwriters #igwriter #igwriters #writingcommunityofinstagram #fellowwriters #writersofinsta #writerscommunity #writingcommunity

General author community

#author #authors #authorscommunity #authorschallenge #authorsofig #instagramauthors #authorsofinstagram #igauthor #igauthors #aspiringauthor #aspiringauthor #authorsofinstagram #authorcommunityofinstagram #authorslifeforme #fellowauthors #authorcommunity #authornetwork #authorsonig #authorsofinsta

General indie author community

#indieauthor #indieauthors #indie #indieauthorsofinstagram #indieauthorsofig #indieauthorsofinsta #indiecreatives #fellowcreatives #indiewriter #indiesareworthit

General poets community

#instapoet #poetsofinsta #poetsofig #poetsofinstagram #poetrycommunity #poetsandwriters #igpoets

General bibliophile community

#bibliophile #bookstagram #bookstagramer #newbookstagramer #bookworm #bookdragon #booklover #bookish #abookaday

There are more bookish hashtags coming but they have been listed under other categories such as genres and book bloggers.

If you find these useful, please stay tuned for the rest of the series coming every Thursday.

In the meantime, you will enjoy:

I did #FebWritersChallenge

April, I featured poets – what’s next?

Me being featured!

Book Review: Duet Rubato

Click My Link Tree
To Connect On Social Media
Click My Link Tree
To Connect On Social Media

Useful hashtags for writers (part 1) – writing groups

If you’ve been following my blog you may have noticed that this year I’ve been really enjoying Instagram. I recently achieve 3,000 followers and I created next months #WIWOctober photo prompt for @worldindiewarriors.

My idea for this post was to share my personal collection of hashtags but as I started writing it I realised it was getting too long! So, I have broken it down into a series of posts.

I am going to start off with tags associated with writing communities I have connected with via Instagram.

Tags for writing communities

There are lots of people looking to connect on Instagram. Here are some of my favourites and tags associates with them:

World Indie Warriors

This is a great group for any creative or indie looking to collaborate and make meaningful connections. This supportive group share tips, resources and support each other’s growth.

Follow @worldindiewarriors and join their group on Facebook. Use hashtags: #wiw #worldindiewarriors

Founder @michelleraabwrites also encourages the use of the hashtags #readersheart #everyonehasastory

Hustling Writers Community

This group is aimed at anyone that aspires to be an author but has to juggle writing alongside other commitments making your dream the side hustle. There are people working full time, studying, parents, carers etc but they are all dedicated to squeezing writing in wherever they can.

Follow @midnightstarlightwrites and become part of her group on Facebook. Use the hashtag #hustlingwriterscommunity

Fellow Creative Minds

This is a networking group to connect creatives together. There is a good mix of artists, writers, musicians, etc. If you would like to meet fellow creatives follow @lizthewritingwiz and join her Fellow Creative Minds group on discord. Use the hashtag #fellowcreativeminds

Authors Challenge 2019

Follow @debratorreswrites and pm her to take part in her monthly challenge. She will add you to an IG chat group so you can get to know other authors taking part in the challenge.

Use the hashtag #authorschallenge2019 and post pictures for the daily picture prompt.

Tags for Wattpad

One of the most popular online platforms for sharing writing is Wattpad so it is no surprise that people are posting to IG about it. You don’t have to follow @wattpad but it is a great way to stay up-to-date regarding the platform.

If you are a Wattpader (reader/writer) here are some tags you may find useful.

#wattpad #wattpadstories #wattpadwriter #wattpadquotes #wattpadmemes #wattpader #watpaders #wattpadbook #wattpadcover #wattpadstory #wattpadauthor #wattpadlove #wattpadislove #wattpadlife #wattpadnovel #wattpadreader #wattpadbookclub #wattpadaddict #wattpadlover #wattpadlovers #wattpadteenfiction #wattys #wattpadrecomendation

If you enjoyed this post, stay tuned for the rest in the series.

In the meantime, you will also like:

Instagram For Writers — Ally Aldridge

Why I Love World Indie Warriors

A Group For Writers with a Side Hustle

I did #JanWritersChallenge

#BoostMyBio for Pitch Wars 2019

Pitch Wars 2019

Are you wondering, “What is Ally up to now?” Well, let me explain…

Pitch Wars is a competition where the prize is a mentor. I’ve never taken part before but this year I’m going to do it.

I only get to choose four mentors to submit to and the mentors can only pick one mentee from all their submissions. Wish me luck!

To read other #boostmybio mentee posts, click here.

To read the mentors profiles, click here.

About me

I’m a natural redhead. It’s the first thing people notice about me. I married my first love in Mauritius, we have a son, a daughter and two cats. I’ve just returned to work from maternity leave but I still find time to write and drink copious amounts of tea.

I have wanted to be an author since before I can remember and been chasing the dream ever since. My favourite genre is YA Contemporary Fantasy/Paranormal Romance. I love making my characters everyday problems a little more complicated with a touch of magic and fantasy. I’ve also written a picture book and my short romance story was published in an anthology.

This year I have discovered the #writingcommunity on Instagram and loving it! I blog about my writing journey and share tips along the way to help my fellow writers. I also post book reviews.

My novel is Jewel of the Sea

#YA #PR #ContemporaryFantasy

TEEN WOLF but mermaids in the UK.

Love struck, misfit, redhead discovers she’s a mermaid. With her emotions connected to her dormant weather manipulation powers, falling in love is deadly dangerous!


Jewel of the Sea was inspired by Rachel Vincent’s werecat shifters series.  I found myself creating my own world of shifters but aimed at a younger audience and put my own spin on things. 

It would appeal to fans of The Immortal Instruments, Vampire Academy and Wolves of Mercy Falls.

Jewel of the Sea is based in my hometown, Felixstowe, which has enabled me to recreate the coastal town in a vivid and realistic light.  My husband was my first love and best friend, so a lot of the romance in this story was inspired by my personal life. Jewel of the Sea addresses many issues teenagers experience at school but the fantasy elements enable them to escape into a magical world.

The following list is a sample of what to look forward to in Jewel of the Sea:

  • mermaids
  • shape shifters
  • fairies
  • storm summoning
  • weather manipulation
  • spell casting
  • An epic battle
  • Romance
  • friends to lovers
  • enemies to lovers
  • love triangle
  • coming of age
  • first kisses

What I’m hoping for

I’ve lost count of the amount of edits and years spent working on Jewel of the Sea. I’m constantly seeking feedback from others but what I need is a professional pair of eyes. If I had the money, I would hire an editor! I truly believe they are worth their weigh of gold and imagine you can learn a lot from them about your writing. Please tell me how I can make my novel better?

This year, I realised I’ve been neglecting my query/pitch. I feel so stupid for not twigging sooner how important it is. I have been working hard on fixing it but have no idea what else I need to do. Please help me make my first impression irresistible?

I am sure there is so much more I need to know that I haven’t thought of because I don’t even have an inkling. What am I missing?

And, I hope this doesn’t sound sappy but after all our hard work together I would love to become lifelong friends.

If you enjoyed this post, you may like:

About Me

Have you finished your novel? What is next?

How was #PitMad September 2019?

What to watch if you love mermaids!

Click My Link Tree
To Connect On Social Media
Click My Link Tree
To Connect On Social Media

Happy Roald Dahl Month – my childhood memories of his books

Happy Roald Dahl Day!

My son is coming to an age where he can start building his own Roald Dahl collection and these are high on Father Christmas’ list for 2019. It seemed like a good time to share my own childhood memories of these books.

NB: This is a post from 2018 that has been edited.

My earliest reading memories are built on Roald Dahl’s books. His books brought joy and fear to my childhood and today I shall share those memories and my fondness for his characters.

Roald Dahl’s birthday is 13 September. Each year during September activities are planned close to his birthday to celebrate his books. Find out how to celebrate on his website.

My memories

As a child he was one of my favourite authors and his books will always hold a special place in my heart.

The first novel I stayed up to read

As a little girl, my dad read me a chapter of a book each night at bedtime. One night, we started the BFG (Big Friendly Giant).

He finished the first chapter, tucked me in and turned off the light. But, I couldn’t sleep as I wondered, what happened next to the kidnapped little girl in giant land?

Their was a dim glow coming from my nightlight and I sat up and took a sneaky peek at the next chapter… – Next thing I knew, it is morning. The book was finished and I hadn’t slept a wink. I think I had to take the day off school to recover from my reading marathon.

I wasn’t a fan of the film. The little girl wasn’t how I pictured her but it may be that it was a long-time since I read the book.

The scariest book I never finished

After that, my dad thought I was able to read before bed on my own. He reminded me of the importance of sleep and tucked me in.

One night, Roald Dahl engrossed me in a world where terrible child-loathing withes existed. It was so real and terrifying, I never finished the book.

I have since watched the film and loved it but the book is still too much.

My all time favourite

It has to be Matilda. She’s a likable character that is strong and determined and doesn’t let her misfortune hold her back. She has telekinetic powers and uses them to make things right. I wanted to be her.

The film is great fun for kids. All the characters look exactly as I imagined, especially, the villain, Ms Trunchball.

I wonder if this book gave birth to my love of contemporary fantasy.


Final thoughts…

I hope my son loves Roald Dahl as much as me so I can relive my favourite books with him. I think he will enjoy the Twits as the disgusting humour is just his cup of tea.

Noah has just finished the Reading Challenge over the summer holidays and he is getting more confident in his ability to read himself. He is currently reading Dirty Bertie (Mascot) by David Roberts as his first chapter book, although we still take it in turns to read pages.

Space Chase, Reading Challenge Winner

What is your favourite Roald Dahl Book? Have you ever stayed up all night to finish a book or found a book more scary than the film?

If you enjoyed this, you will like:

Felixstowe Book Festival – Children’s Events

The Best Children’s Books for Christmas

What you need to know about Children’s Picture Book Publishing

Aria’s Alice in Wonderland themed First Birthday

Click My Link Tree
To Connect On Social Media
Click My Link Tree
To Connect On Social Media

How was #PitMad September 2019?

As always, this Pitch Wars event isn’t simply about grabbing the attention of your dream agent or publisher. It is also about connecting with the writing community.

Taking part, I gained more followers. People retweeted my pitch to show support and help it get noticed and some even commented to let me know they liked my idea which is really encouraging. Further down you will find a collection Tweets that sum out the event for me.

The Manuscript Wishlist

One Tweet that was incredibly useful was by @RebeccaFKenney1 who told me about #MSWL. I never knew that agents tweet about the manuscripts they are wishing for. A quick search for “#MSWL Mermaid” sorted by most recent, brought up the two agents she had sign posted me to.

I have now discovered that on 24 September 2019 is #MSWL Day when agents will tweet their wish list to help authors find their match. I shall be adding that to my Literary Calendar which you can access to discover useful literary dates.

How successful was I?

  • Tinsel Tiger (picture book) – 4 likes (none were agents or publishers)
  • Jewel of the Sea (YA fiction) – 5 likes (three by publishers)

I will research these publishers to see if I feel they are a good fit for me before submitting.  On initial inspection, one of them really appeals to me due to their ethical values.

⚡️ “#PitMad September 2019”

If you enjoyed this, you will like:

Writers beware! Know who you are querying.

#PitMad June 2019 Summary

#PitMad – December 2018

Seven tips for querying agents

Click My Link Tree
To Connect On Social Media
Click My Link Tree
To Connect On Social Media

My prize from [Stamp]tastic!

Just before the kids finished school I won this amazing prize. Everything was a little hectic so I forgot all about sharing it with you until… I had to label the new uniform for the new school year.

The Prize

I won a personalised Stamp and ink pad and a fabric pen.

I got to design the stamp myself. I wrote my son’s full name, choose the font and added an anchor icon.

I choose a black ink pad although there were other colours to choose from.

I also got to choose a fabric pen. I decided to go with white as Noah’s shoes often have a black sole and I figured I would probably need it to write in them.

The stamp

I hope my pictures help illustrate how the stamp works. It reminds me a lot of a high quality crafting stamp.

You push the stamp onto the ink pad, then onto the clothes label. The stamp is clear which enables to you see where you have placed it and that it is the correct way around. It dries pretty quick too!

The pen

I wasn’t excited about the pen but it has really impressed me. Noah has wore his cap all summer and the ink hasn’t rubbed off. It was easy to write with and stands out clearly on the black material.


I would definitely buy these items again. They’ve made it easy to label everything.

I love how the stamp makes everything look so neat and perfect and how clear the pen is on dark colours.

If you enjoyed this you will like:

How I got my son pedalling first try!

Aria’s Alice in Wonderland themed First Birthday

3 Things to do, FOR YOU, before baby is due

Pop-up books

Click My Link Tree
To Connect On Social Media
Click My Link Tree
To Connect On Social Media

Writers beware! Know who you are querying.

Sadly, there will always be con artists looking to prey on the vulnerable. It is easy to manipulate someone if you promise you can make their dreams come true.

When I started modelling I was aware of rogue agencies that offer to build you a portfolio for a charge. They sell it as your big break and that it will open doors for you into the industry but the truth is it is just a photography package. There is nothing wrong in paying a photographer if you want photos, but don’t be fooled into thinking it will guarantee you work.

If an agency really likes you, they won’t charge you for the privilege. You should never have to pay your employer for the opportunity to work. Especially with no guarantee of any return.

Sadly, writers don’t always realise this. With so many barriers to the publishing industry they are relieved when they finally get an interested agent that sometimes they fail to check them out. They are so happy they naively agree to costs their agent tells them are necessary to start the publishing process. This is untrue. The only time you would pay up front to publish is if you wish to self-publish or if you have chosen to use a vanity publisher.

Travis Heerman

Here is a story by Travis Heerman about his early experience of the industry. He was conned out of a large sum of money in pursuit of his dream, by a scam that seemed to never end. Even worse, he was not alone. Cautionary Tales for writers – part 1.

Travis shared his story in the hopes of saving other hopeful writers from the same heartache and stress he went through.

I would like to highlight that one of the defendants (found guilty in court) of this scam was a man named Don Phelan. Why this is interesting will be raised later.

September 2018

During the September 2018 #PitMad event I got a request by Burchette and Ferguson, however, I chose not to follow up and send them my MS as I was put off by their website and here is why. They had only existed for three weeks and had no details about who worked at their company or their background.

I started drafting this article in February 2019 (screenshot below) and checked out their website again only to be greeted by the a message informing me that they are preparing for their big launch and the site had been down since October 2018!

However, I checked the site again today (almost a year later), 1 September 2019, and the site no longer exists!

With Pitch Wars #PitMad (September 2019) in just a few days, I felt it was a good time to remind people that just because someone likes your pitch, doesn’t mean you have to send it to them. This company was ‘preparing for a big launch’ a month afterwards that I don’t think every happened, and vanished in less than a year.

February 2019

This year I have been connecting more with other writers on Instagram. It’s been great for motivation, support and tips. One of the connections is The Writers Advisor.

On 20 February, they posted about a Literacy Agency actively seeking submissions. Here is the post.

It wasn’t clear to me at the time that they are a Literary Agency. I thought it was a post they were sharing. I said I would check it out later.

Later on, I visited the site but could not find any details about who works there or any authors already signed or books published. So, I returned to Instagram to comment publically asking if they knew anything about which agents work there.

They responded with a private message:

It might be a coincidence and a completely different Don Phelan to the one in the publishing fraud case but with the lack of further information I decided to pass on sending him/her my manuscript.

Then Don replied to my message publicly on 23 February 2019.

His response strikes me as rather rude. I understand that when I query I am hoping the agent would like to work with me but it is a two way partnership. I always research an agent before I query to check they are a good fit for me too, otherwise I’m just wasting their time. His/her response gave me clarity that they were not someone I wanted to work with.

Do you need an agent?

If you are looking to traditionally publish then you’ll find most publishers won’t deal with writers directly. It will say no ‘unsolicited manuscripts’ meaning you’ll need an agent to approach them on your behalf.

It is important to research Literary Agents to ensure they are a good fit for your book, someone you want to work with and most of all to ensure they are authentic. Don’t fear, there are simple ways to check them out:

Agent History

For example, check the agents history. Legit agencies often have a page about the agents and the authors they’ve signed. They often promote the books they got published as their success is a reflection on them.

New literary agents often start out supporting an experienced agent, which gives them a platform to prove themselves and some assurance to writers and publishers that they either know what they are doing or are surrounded by the guidance of those that do.

You may be able to find their employment history on LinkedIn or try a website like Writer Beware to see if anyone else has raised concerns about them. You can also buy Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook by Bloomsbury Publishing (check for the latest version as it is updated annually).

Online presence

At the very least they should have a website with a profile to tell you a little about who they are and what they are in to. Check to see how the site been published. Businesses use the internet to have a presence so if they have not been around long, you need to ask why? Have they re-branded and if so who were they before. Are they just starting out and what previous experience have they got.

Not all Literary Agents use social media, however, most do and it is beneficial to discover more about them. Are they promoting books/authors they’ve represented and how well have they done? What are their interests and would they enjoy your book? See how active they are and how long they’ve had their account.


How do they behave? Many agents are drowning in submissions. It is highly unlikely they will have time to look for you and request a submission. They only time agents will reach out to someone is for non-fiction if you’ve done something that they feel their audience would be interested in and wish to ask you to write about it.

They should be upfront about what they are able to offer you and answer your questions in a professional manner. If they start hounding you with phone calls trying to push you to spend money, then you should block them and move on.

If they are rude or do anything that makes you feel uncomfortable, trust your instincts. It takes on average two years to get traditionally published! If that sounds long, it’s going to feel even longer if you don’t like them.

I wish you every success and hope this post has been helpful in what to look for when considering who to send your novel to. It is a personal decision and you have to do what feels right for you.

If you enjoyed this article, you may enjoy:

Seven tips for querying agents

How I edited my novel – 12 tips for self editing

Felixstowe Book Festival – The Publishing Industry

Book Review: Save the Cat – Writes a Novel


Click My Link Tree
To Connect On Social Media
Click My Link Tree
To Connect On Social Media