How I did my book foot stack photo

Have you seen my #footstack pic on Instagram? Check out the feed @Nic_Reads_Inheels for my heel stack inspiration.

I only discovered #footstack very recently. It is a pic of someone balancing books on their shoes. When the #CampNanoWIW prompt was a #shelfie pic, I decided it was the perfect opportunity to give it a go.

I had so much fun doing this. And, when I posted it people asked, are they your legs, your books, your pic, how?

The answer is Yes and this is how.

The original pic

I wasn’t going to share this pic but here you go.

Unedited #FootStack

The books I bought from Amazon, Book Festivals or won on Instagram. They are all from my never ending TBR pile.

Since having children, I don’t have many heels. I also tidied away the ones I did have and have no idea where I put them. These shoes are my work ones from Clarks.

The red stockings were bought years ago from Ann Summers, back when I felt more daring, and haven’t been seen outside the bedroom. 😉

I did need help to get this pic. My husband stacked the books whilst I giggled upside down and tried to hold steady. My selection was rather ambitious and I realised this was my limit… no more books.

He then took the pic for me. He actually took quite a few as we tested my balancing skills at different degrees of steepness. We found it looks better the straighter my leg are. Posing like this was a full on workout.

How I edited the pic

Pic Monkey App

I used the Pic Monkey App to remove the background using their Cut Out, Smart, tool. It was super easy.


Unsplash is my favourite site to get free photos. I found this photo of a pretty yellow wall by Mona Eendra from Copenhagen. Yellow is one of my brand colours so this was perfect.

Pretty yellow wall from Unsplash

Photoshop Mix App

This app enables you to layer images together. I created a project and added the wall as my first layer, then my cut out image as the second layer. I then cropped it to a square and adjusted the two layers until I was happy with the positioning.

I had never used this app before and it was very straight forward. I figured it out without watching the tutorials. But, I’m going to return to watch them later to discover more.

Instagram App

The final edit was done using IG’s filter Clarendon. Then, I added my comment and tags and posted it.

If you give this a go, please tag me. I’m @Redfae on Instagram. I’d love to see your book stacks too.

If you enjoyed this, you will like:

Writer’s Hashtags Collection

Camp NaNo Progress Days 11 to 20

The Story Snippets Challenge on Instagram

Beta Readers vs Arc Readers

How to prepare for NaNoWriMo? #amwriting

What is NaNoWriMo?

It stands for National Novel Writing Month. The event started with a November challenge to write 50k words in 30 days.

Now, the event runs on other months of the year and you can set different word count goals.

How to get started

Firstly, you will need to create an account on NaNoWriMo. Here you can record your progress and if you complete the challenge you get a certificate. There are also other benefits (keep reading to find out more).

One benefit are the free participant images that you can use to show you are taking part on social media.

Story idea

It’s best to have an idea of what story you will be working on before you start. Coming up with ideas is never a problem for me. Staying focussed on one is where I struggle – I’m confident NaNo will help fix that.

I asked Instagram and Twitter which project they thought I should work on as I was couldn’t decide.

Set it in stone

Update your NaNo account with details about the project you have chosen.

Write a blurb (the text on the back of a book) and, if you have already started the project, include a sample (I.e. first chapter). You can update this at any point during/after the challenge.

I like to use Canva to quickly make a simple book cover image. It’s also great for making social media pictures.


NaNo can be intense and it can really help if you know where your story is going. An outline is a brief overall plot for your story and helps you stay on track. It can also be useful at the end for writing your synopsis.

I shall be using the snowflake tool in Wavemaker to do this.

Character Development

It can help to know who your main characters are and their names. Especially, if like me, naming your characters takes time.

Click here for my article on naming characters.

World Building

Wherever your story is set there will be an element of world building. You need to consider where they live, the type of homes and people, jobs, education and how it is run.

If you are creating a new world then this will need more thought as you will need to consider everything from species to habitats and vegetation.

My story is set in a post-apocalyptic environment and therefore needs a lot of world building as the nature of our current state has changed drastically.

The setting of your story can be as vivid and diverse as any character. Places have history and can change a lot over time.


By signing up on NaNo you will gain access to some great deals just for writers and some of these are for writing software.

This year, I have chosen to use Dabble Writer again as I love how easy it is to use and it keeps track of my word count so updating NaNo is a breeze.

Click here for my review of this product. I’ll review it again at the end of NaNo as I understand it’s even better now. It is free to trial during November for NaNo!

Writing Buddies/Camp NaNo

Sometimes they run a There are online camps for NaNo participants. It will group you with people that have similar goals or projects. Then you keep each other motivated as the challenge isn’t easy. I loved this during the July challenge but sadly it looks as if camp is running for November.

If you get a group that’s not very active, share how you are doing on social media. Writing doesn’t have to be a lonely business. Connect. Other writers are out there and want to see you succeed. You can do it.


The charm of NaNo is that it gets you in the habit of writing. Try to write every day. Every bit you do is progress.

If you don’t hit your goal, keep writing. If you only achieve 20k, that’s still 20k more than when you started. Don’t quit. Writers don’t quit.

November is notoriously a busy month for me and if it wasn’t for NaNo I’d likely not get any writing done. I never shy away from the challenge and one year I will achieve… maybe, this year.

Good luck

Let me know if you are taking the challenge and wish to be NaNo buddies.

Links to articles regarding my previous attempt are:

  If you want know how I got on read my NaNoWriMo diary entries for Week One, Week Two, Week Three, Week Four or NaNo Done.

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Create with Canva Beginners Course Review

What is Canva?

I must confess I am in love with Canva and been using it for a few months.  I started off using it on my laptop and then I discovered there is an app.  Now I can use it anywhere.

Canva helps you create visually effective images for a wide host of reasons.  I used it a lot to create my blog titles and images for tweets and Instagram.  I also have used it to create a party invitation for my son’s birthday party.  I discovered the site via Wattpad when looking for software to create a novel cover.

Here are some examples of what I have created:

What is Create with Canva?

This company is currently offering a free beginners course for people that want to get better at using Canva.  They also have a resources page with useful information and recommendations for blog host sites and other courses you can pay for like how to earn from you blog with affiliate marketing.

Free Beginners Course

I found the course via Twitter and enrolled.  There are five lessons and each lesson is delivered daily to your inbox.  The lessons are bitesize YouTube videos and just 5 minutes long.  You can join their Facebook page to have access to the course in full right away.  Here is what I think:

Dashboard tour: 

This is sent out with the ‘welcome’ email and is an introduction to Canva.

Lesson One: Working with templates, text and color

This covers the basis of using the templates on Canva.  How to amend the template and colour theme.  How to edit the text, add more text and resize.  I thought I knew most of this simply from using the site but they did teach me a new trick – spacing!  Everything in this class used the free features in Canva.

Lesson Two: Working with images in Canva and uploading your own images

This was about using the images in Canva and how to add your own.  Again, I thought I had this sussed but they taught me some new tricks.  I make use of the free images in Canva (there is a vast collection), however, I didn’t know that some of the free images are cropped and you can change the cropped area and use some of the hidden parts of the picture!  There were other tricks they taught that I expect I’ll be making use of in the near future.

Lesson Three: Working with free photos, frames and grids

This lesson started by introducing collages – a feature I have never considered using (seriously missing out).  They taught us how to use different photo layouts from scratch and for Instagram.  Finished with how to use and edit backgrounds.

Lesson Four: Working with shapes, lines, illustrations and icons

This started off nice and simple with adding elements to your design.  I haven’t really used this part of Canva and through watching the lesson I saw how useful they can be.  Gillian also covered some useful time saving short cut keys and how to group objects.

Lesson Five: Getting organized in Canva, creating templates and batch producing designs

This was incredibly useful and I haven’t used any of the features covered.  I learnt how to create a brand theme in Canva (rather than saving notes on my phone), how to sort my files in folders on Canva and how to make a batch of designs.

Would I recommend the course?

Yes.  It starts of quite easy so it is suitable for absolute beginners. It also is likely to uncover a trick that you haven’t worked out on your own, enabling you to get even more out of Canva.

When I signed up, I was worried that it was going to be five lessons telling you why you need to buy the premium service but it didn’t. Every feature I was shown how to use was using the free features available to everyone.

I honestly don’t know how Canva do it. If you haven’t got an account on there you need to go create one.

Presenter – Gillian

The course is presented by a lady named Gillian who has a nice clear voice that is easy to understand and not irritating. You don’t see what she looks like as the video is showing what is happening on the screen.



Create with Canva:

Review: Dabble Writer

What is it?

Dabble is an online writing platform for plotting, writing and editing.  It works best in Google or by using their app but can be used in any browser.


  • Dabble Account and cloud storage
  • Plotting tool
  • Export to Word/text file
  • Word counts
  • Novel series
  • App (works on a PC)

During November, they offered a free trial to NaNoWriMo participants.  We were able to use the site for free and they enabled a word count tracker – nifty!


Dabble Writer usually costs $9.99 but at the moment there is an introduction offer of $4.99 which if you subscribe will be at 50% forever.

Dabble Writer is an official sponsor of NaNoWriMo. If you took part, check the NaNoWriMo offers page to see if there are any exclusive additional offers for NaNoWriMoers.



I created two projects to test out the software.  One was Daisy Chain (my NaNoWriMo project) and the other was Jewel of the Sea (aka Drift).

  • Daisy Chain:  This required regular updates so I needed to work on the story whenever I was able to.  Switching between computers (and browsers) did cause a little technical issue but the support guys at Dabble were awesome.  The site runs best in Google chrome and the app.  There is also a little cloud that you can click to save your progress and ensure it has been backed up.
  • Jewel of the sea:  I uploaded this so I could experiment the downloading to word feature. I was really impressed.  It puts it into the correct format for agents so all you need to worry about is the line spacing.

Word Count

  • Word Count total:  There is a tracker that shows your overall word count for the novel (or project).
  • NaNoWriMo Tracker:  The word count tracker for NaNoWriMo was incredibly intuitive.  It deducted words if I deleted any and updated my daily goal based on how many words I needed to reach to keep on target based on my total.  They are currently developing a personal goal tracker so writers can set their own word count goal at anytime in the year.

Plotting Tools

This was one of the features I enjoyed using the most as I currently have nothing like it.

It looks a like pin board with post it notes stuck on it.  You can create different boards for tracking different things.

On the board you create different headings (or timelines).  I found it easiest to use it to track my characters developments within the story and plan I needed to happen and when.  It was easy to move and edit these too so it didn’t feel like a digital hindrance.

The ‘post it note’ (tile) has a heading and brief description.  You click on it to open up and a little note paper where you can go into more detail about the plot line.

This is a great planning aid and helped me to visualize the story.

Story notes

This is another great feature.  I’ve never shared my story notes *cringe*.

Dabble Writer - story notes

I split my notes into two categories (headings) ‘Characters’ and ‘World Building’.  Within those sections I create a note on different things that are important.

It is really handy to have everything stored in the same place and organised instead of loads of files saved in different places or programs.  I love having some where to stash my ideas and notes about the story.

Novel series

Within a ‘project’ you can create multiple books.  This enables you to track a whole series all in one place.  Genius!

Dabble future?

Customer Service:  The team at Dabble are extremely responsive to their customers and I think this will take the company forward to a bright future.  They were always on hand whenever I had a question about using the site.  No problem was too big or too small.  I wondered if they ever slept.

Development:  They have developed the site a lot from Sept to Nov so I’ve no doubt that they’ll make true on their promise to continue improving and bringing out new features.  They also ask their subscribers to suggest features and vote on features to help them prioritize what their users want the most.   Here are some of the features coming soon that excite me the most:

  • Goal tracking – set your own word count goal any time of the year (not just for NaNoWriMo)
  • Images in story notes (save a picture of your world map or the engagement ring or a celebrity that looks like you character)
  • Editing mark up (you can highlight a section you know you need to rework)
  • Novel cover (upload an image for you novel cover)
  • Character image (upload an image of how your character looks) and character tools
  • Restore a previous version as a new file
  • More ways to import and export including dragging a project to your desktop to save it
  • Social – enable word count competitions and stats to be shared socially

Am I subscribing?

I am very tempted to subscribe but currently I have a lot going on that I don’t think I will have the time to really make the most of having a subscription.

However, Dabble Writer is something I would definitely consider in the future as I found it a very easy to use interface, fantastic customer service and the features were exactly what a writer needs.

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Apps for Writers — Ally Aldridge

My smartphone is always with me and as a result it gets used a lot for my writing process.  Today, I shall share with you the most useful apps for writers.

These recommendations are for for both iOS and Android operating systems. 

Productivity apps


This app is used the most.  I jot down ideas I have during the day for my stories or potential stories.  It can include character development, research or even ideas for blog articles.


I use this app for creating to-do lists but also found it useful for developing plots because it is so easy to move the items in the list up or down.

The above are quick easy apps you can use all the time, however, if you are collecting research, then you will appreciate apps like Evernote, Google Keep and OneNote.  

These apps enable you to take snips/clips of information you have found on the internet. You can then sort this information into an order that works for you and include your own notes.

Writing apps


If you need feedback from readers on your works, this is a great app to use.  You can write and edit within the app too.  You can save works as drafts or private.

Similar apps are:  Movella, Radish and Opuss (iOS only).

WordMicrosoft Word

You can use MS Word on the go.  However, I don’t tend to use this app very often as I get frustrated by the limits placed on the mobile version and would rather use Wattpad.


Google Doc

You can write using Google Docs apps.  It is a simple word processor with the same features you’d expect from Word. The docs save automatically to the Google Drive – you need a google account to use this.

Blogging apps


I used the blogger app for a while I liked how it linked to my Google+ account.  I stopped using Blogger early this year when I converted to WordPress:


This is my current blogging app.  I usually blog at my PC/laptop.  However, when I am out and about I enjoy how easily it is to read other blogs and share them.

Social apps

As mentioned above at ‘Writing apps’, you have Wattpad, Movella, Raddis and Opuss.  These are great sites to connect with your readers and get their feedback and create a fan base of followers.  It is also a great opportunity to meet other writers and support each others development.

You can also connect using any popular social media app.   I share my writers life via Twitter, Instagram and Google+ and LinkedIn.  You can also use Facebook, Snapchat and YouTube.


Don’t forget that blogging can be social too as you can meet other bloggers through comments and follows and discover their content too.

Storage apps

You upload your document to OneDrive or Google Drive and then can access them anywhere online with your login.  You can also invite others to view your documents by email and manage permissions.  These drives also have a few apps built in to enable you to create basic documents like word processing, spreadsheet or presentation.


Needs a Live, Outlook or Hotmail account.


Google Drive

Needs a google mail account.


Resource apps

This is my top dictionary/thesaurus app – yes, its a thesaurus too!  I like how it is easy to search for a definition.  You can save words and they have a word of the day to boost your vocabulary.

Browser (with search engine)

Your smart phone will likely come with a browser built in and a default search engine.  You can go to the app store and choose a browser that suits your needs. There are browsers that block adverts or keep your privacy.

I enjoy using the Safari browser on my iPhone and searching using google.  I use chrome on my Samsung with google for searches.

Downloading apps to your Smart Phone

To download iOS apps to your apple device you need to access the iTunes store.  To download apps to your android device you will need access to the Google Play store.

Please let me know if there are any apps you find useful that I haven’t included as I am always keen to add more to my smart phone to make life easier.

To discover more ways to connect with me, click my link tree.