The Author & Me Show

I got an invitation from Instagrammer @inspire.withkhadija to be a guest on her show Author & Me.

About Khadija Masreef

Khadija Maaref is author of the book Muslim Women in Western Society. Her book is full of motivational and inspirational speeches, from a well travelled woman that has experienced many cultures.

Discover more about her and her book at https://www.khadijamaaref.com/

Author & Me

Khadija continues her inspirational messages through her show Author & Me. During this show she hosts a live interview with a guest author.

She asked me various questions about when I started writing and why, and encouraged me to share tips that would help others.

I’m going to check out the other episodes. This a free resource for everyone & bound to be full of gems of wisdom from a variety of experiences and backgrounds. You can watch it here.

My Live

Do you want to see the whole interview… then, click here.

[kofi]

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How NOT to start a novel!

Please don’t worry about these when you are writing your first drafts. Your first draft will be messy and ugly and full of cringe-worthy writing.

When writing your first draft just get the words out but when polishing it up look out for these cliches and cut them out. I hope this list is useful for you.

1. Waking up

Nobody wants to hear about your characters morning routine. We don’t want to know what they do in the bathroom, how they make & eat their breakfast, or what they pick out to wear and how they get dressed.

If you start with your character waking up, something epic needs to happen and not their usual boring morning routine.

If they wake up to an alien invasion, I’m pretty they won’t be worrying about what to wear but the reader will be right there with then running down the street screaming in their pyjamas.

2. False starts

So, you throw your reader into a beautiful dream or terrifying nightmare. The reader has no idea this isn’t real. Then, they wake up and the reader feels cheated.

You may have drawn them in but only to disappoint them. This is only acceptable if it has a purpose, like if Freddy Kruger is the antagonist.

Don’t trick your reader into spending time reading your story only to reveal they wasted their time. They won’t thank you for it and might even quit reading more.

3. Characters

At the start of the book you want readers to connect with the MC quickly. If they’re confused who the MC is, that isn’t going to happen.

Make sure it’s clear who the main character is. This is the person that will take the reader through the story. Don’t hide the MC as a surprise later.

While on the topic of characters, please don’t give them multiple names – it’s confusing. Don’t have you character Elizabeth also called Liz, Lizzie, Beth, Eliza, Babe, Buttercup, etc. I did read a story on Wattpad where someone did this and I lost count of the MC’s various names by the end of chapter 1.

Don’t waste the readers time aquainting them in depth with a character that doesn’t contribute to the overall story. If they are not important, don’t include it.

You can introduce characters during the story but don’t dump them all in chapter one. Don’t overwhelm your reader with a massive cast so there head is spinning with all the names.

4. Point of view

Be consistent. Readers will get comfortable reading in a certain POV and when it changes it takes them out. This is why writing dual or multiple character viewpoints is tricky as you don’t want to lose the reader but also need to keep their voice authentic.

Keeping your characters voice authentic is important and true to what they know or understand. Think about unreliable narrators. You may find another character is better suited as your MC or the story is told better via another POV.

5. World building

Creating realistic and vivid worlds will suck your reader in but don’t drown them in the details. Bogging them down with lengthy descriptions or explanations about the dynamics is going to kill it.

You need to show them the world, let them see, feel, taste and smell it. Put the reader in the world so they live it. Weave it into what’s happening.

If you want to write beautiful prose about nature, stick to poetry.

6. Over-explaining

Give your reader some credit, they’re not stupid. Trust them to fill in the gaps. Show the character living in the story and your reader will figure how things are based on the interactions.

Don’t use dialogue as an info dump. It really doesn’t work. Conversation aren’t showing, if you’re using it as a vice for telling the reader.

7. Fancy language

Okay, so we just covered how smart your readers are, however, they aren’t going to stick around if reading your novel is a vocabulary workout.

Too many complex words will kill the flow of your story. If the reader has to keep stopping, to figure out what they’ve read, you’ll lose them. You don’t want your readers to groan at the thought of reading your story.

In addition, be cautious about using made up words. You may have created new creatures, profession and even a new language, but if your reader needs a translator to make sense of your story, it’s too much hard work.

8. Too comfortable

Any scene that is too cosy isn’t going to compell the reader to keep going. Something needs to happen, something has to grab their interest.

Preferably a terrible conflict that makes your reader get behind your MC and follow them to the end of the story. You need to start with action.

9. Start in the present

The problem with prologues is they take place before your story starts. Many people skip reading them.

Also, using backstory or flash forwards are not great starts because your reader hasn’t developed a relationship with your character so they don’t care about their past or future.

These can have the same impact as a false start if they’re not necessary.

10. Rules are made to be broken

All the above have been associated with losing the reader but there are occasions when it does work.

If you feel strongly that your story needs multiple view points or it’s crucial the MC wakes from a dream, then do it. After all, it is your story.

I made a fun infographic:

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How to beat writers block

Have you checked out Parler yet? It’s very similar to Twitter but promotes free speech. So far I’ve found everyone friendly and welcoming, and the posts I share there display better.

Someone posted that they were struggling with writers block and the advice to “just write” no matter what, everyday, was not working for them.

I’ll admit, I don’t write everyday.

So, I came to the persons rescue with a few alternative suggestions. I honestly believe that just because a method was right for someone else, doesn’t mean it’s right for all. Everyone is unique.

Originally this was a four point list on Parler but then I had more ideas.

Infographic on How to Beat Writers Block

I hope you enjoyed my infographic and found it useful. If you’re on Parler, you can add me. I’m Redfae.

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Soul Heart Readers – Street Team

Writing Progress: July

Why you need a developmental editor!

Find your Summer Reads in the latest WIW Brochure

Book Review: The Emotion Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi

I wanted this book for so long, by the tine I got it, there’s a second edition! The bonus is, the new edition has even more content!

It’s part of the Writer’s Helping Writers series. The series includes a number of thesaurus covering different aspects such as character traits or settings. The aim of the books are to help writers find the words they need to make the impact they want.

Author Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi

The series is co-written by Angela & Becca.

Writers Helping Writers

The pair run a website together (https://writershelpingwriters.net) to share information to help writers.

One Stop For Writers

They also have developed an impressive web-app (https://onestopforwriters.com) that’s described as a library of resources and tools to support writers.

What is the book about?

The one I got is on character expressions. It’s a thesaurus about different emotional responses and covers internal and external reactions.

How it works?

You look up the emotion your character is feeling, like lust, confusion, envy, fear, betrayal, etc.

There’s a little description so you can check you understand what the emotion is and make sure you picked the right one.

It then has a list of ways a character might behave if experiencing this emotion.

There are also some suggestions for internal sensations, which is useful for 1st person POV.

There are even some suggestions on how the emotion can escalate or deescalate.

How I used it?

Editing (Ocean Heart)

I used this book alongside the developmental feedback from my editor. She highlighted some points in my story where I needed to amp up the emotions and some places where I had skipped along without any reaction at all.

I looked up the emotion in the book and read the suggestions. I reflected on which reaction was most true to my character, then worked it in.

Future use…

This book will get used time and time again. I’m planning to next use it alongside writing Sky Heart. Hopefully it’ll reduce any feedback from my editor about under played or missed emotions.

Final thoughts…

This is a really useful book and has left me wanting the rest of the series.
It’s more of a resource than a thesaurus and I don’t think there is anything out there quite like this. It is designed especially for writers to aid their craft.
I highly recommend this book.
Do you have any writer resources that you swear by?

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Camp NaNo Progress (mid July 2020)

So, I set three targets and it’s not gone to plan…

Writing Goal: Finish Sky Heart

Originally finishing Sky Heart was my main goal for Camp NaNo. I always struggle with writing endings so I knew this wouldn’t be easy.

Kiely was a 2nd viewpoint in an early draft of book 2. In that draft Mariah was the MC but Kiely’s story took over. Then I cut all Kiely’s parts and made a new book in 2018 called Glide. In 2019, it was renamed Diamond in the Sky and I added to it but never finished it.

I opened the manuscript and had no idea what was going on. It has been too long. I’m lost.

Instead of working on the ending, I’ve had to start at the beginning, reading the whole manuscript and making notes. The good thing is I’ve already identified parts to improve which will help when I come to edit. I’m now up to chapter 10.

This book has always taken a back seat to book 1. As book 1 is with my editor I thought I could finally work on finishing this but I was wrong. As you’ll see below, Book 1 has demanded my attention.

Book 2 has been renamed Sky Heart and promptly put back in the back seat… maybe next month Kiely.

Publishing: Ocean Heart

I thought sending my novel off to my editor meant my job was done…

No!

Very quickly I realised how much work I have to do to launch my book. As this is a priority, I adjusted my goals to continue working on Ocean Heart.

So far I have:

  • Written a dedication.
  • Researched & written my copyright statement.
  • Researched covers in my genre to identify what I like or don’t and gather the details my cover designer needs.
  • Planning for a Giveaway.
  • Researching how to provide ARC copies.
  • Attend my first ever meeting with my editor (this Thursday).
  • Got feedback on my Blurb

Still to do:

  • Finish the instructions for my cover designer so she can start work on my covers (eBook & Paperback). For this, I still need to finalise my blurb and decide on book sizing like trim, etc.
  • Use the feedback to improve my blurb.
  • Create a space for my Street Team to access exclusive content and be the first to know my news.
  • Researching meta data
  • So much more…

Reading Goal: Agent Undone (eBook)

I’ve now reached chapter 9. My little girl is demanding more attention from me now so I get less time to read on my phone during the day, which is when I read eBooks.

Reading Goal: Sea Witch (paperback)

After work I’ve felt too frazzled to do anything but watch rubbish on YouTube – I’m not proud of the time wasted on this.

When I have had energy, I’ve worked on my writing and got so into it that I had to go to bed after, with no time to read.

But, I have made some progress. I’m now up to chapter 19 (I was at chapter 4 at the start of July).

Learning Goal: Storyseller Academy

I’ve not even logged in. I’m desperate to make progress on this course but struggling to fit everything in.

I have done some learning as I’ve been researching things like Trim Size and Copyright statements.

But, this course is about successfully publishing your novel and I know it’s full of info that would be useful to me.

So, the next half of the month I’m going to make this a priority (after anything Ocean Heart related) and let go of Sky Heart for now.

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Camp NaNo July 2020

I’m taking part! Or, so I say…

I’m doing the challenge with World IndieWarriors and set my goals as follows:

  1. Write the ending of Sky Heart (book 2) – estimated 20k words
  2. Finish reading my two current reads (Agent Undone by Cassidy Reyne, and Sea Witch by Sarah Henning)
  3. Complete Storyseller Academy course

About Sky Heart

Slow Start

1 July

I’ve barely started! So, at the end of June I was sending Ocean Heart (book 1) to my editor but fear struck. It was ready a week early but I kept reading it through, checking it, worrying whether it is good enough. When I was still doing this is July, I realised what I was doing and hit send… at almost midnight.

2 July

So, I started a day late. When I looked at chapter 24 of Sky Heart (book 2) I couldn’t remember what was going on. It dawned on me that it’s been too long, I need to reread it all to get my hear back in the story. I may not get to write this month 😢.

3 July

I was introduced to a website called Art Breeder. OMG this website is addictive! At first my ‘breeds’ were not quite right but the more I played the better I got.

Top row – Mariah, Jace; Bottom row – Murray, Kiely

4 July

Today, I’ve been working on blog posts and reading (a little). Blog posts weren’t part of my NaNo goal but reading was. Finally started on Camp NaNo 😂.

Reflecting

I think if it wasn’t Camp NaNo, I would have taken a break this month to reflect on finishing Ocean Heart.

I’m nervous about what is next and still have a lot to learn and publishing it is my annual priority goal.

You’ll notice I’ll be more laid back about my goals this month. As always, any progress is good but I’m more interested in the social aspect of the challenge.

It’s a great way to connect with other writers. If I can encourage another creative towards achieving their goals, that’s still a win. And once I’ve rejuvenated I’ll come back stronger.

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Author Q and A – Ally Aldridge

Writing Progress: May

Camp NaNo Progress

12 tips for self editing

Writing Progress: May

This a summary of the highs and lows of my writing this month.

Editing Ocean Heart

Maybe I’m too ambitious but I’ve not achieved the word count I wanted to. I had a few days feeling rundown and a few days where the heat gave me a killer headache.

And, editing isn’t something you can rush. I’ve worked on 4 chapters that needed a lot of work. They are important chapters in the novel so it was vital they made the right impact.

I’ve edited 25k words and my total is now 52k words edited. I’ve reached chapter 18 (or 21 in the original draft). I’m just over halfway through.

World Indie Warriors Brochure

This month I started work on the new look for the summer brochure. It’s the third edition and due to be released by end of June.

I’m please to report the brochure is mostly done. I’m just waiting for certain Indies to confirm their section is correct and waiting on a special feature. The deadline is end of May, so if they don’t reply I’ll just do the final touches and ensure it’s released at the end of June.

Lockdown, Furlough & Home Schooling

At the end of April I went on Furlough. It hasn’t freed up my time to write more but it has alleviated pressure where my kids are concerned.

The extra time does make me miss those I can’t visit more and wish I could take the kids somewhere fun or go our for a nice meal with my husband. But, being more available helps make homeschooling more enjoyable for my son and easier for me. Plus, I’m getting more time with my little girl.

The Government are trying to get kids back into school. One year group chosen to go back is my son’s. He’s just settled into homeschooling and I don’t want to unsettle him again when in a few weeks it’ll be the school holidays. So, for now, I’ve chosen to keep him home.

But, we are all safe and healthy and that is most important.

Learning New Skills

There are lots of opportunities to learn at the moment. OU & Google have collaborated together to create a FREE Digital Marketing course.

I have not had time to look anymore at the course or content. Once the brochure is done, I’m hoping I will have some free time to appreciate my access to this fabulous course.

Summary

For someone who felt like they didn’t achieve anything, I can see that I actually did make progress. I just wish I’d managed to fit in more editing as I want to reach the next step on my publishing journey.

If you enjoyed this, check out: 

Why I chose to self publish

Progress February

Progress January

My big plans for 2020

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

Camp NaNo Progress

This is an update is on how day 21 to 30 has gone.

It hasn’t been great. I wasted two evenings watching Extraction, another watching Last Kingdom and baking breakfast muffins.

On top of that I had some connection issues with Virgin Media (and I use Google Docs), and one evening I even forgot to charge my laptop so it was dead.

And, when I have gotten down to writing, I’ve procrastinated. Working from home on my laptop during the day, then editing on my laptop in the evening has felt never ending and it’s taken its toll.

Carry on reading to discover how my Camp NaNo April 2020 ended. I promise it wasn’t pointless.

#CampNaNoWIW

I am in the World Indie Warriors cabin (now called groups). On Instagram they’ve set a photo challenge:

I haven’t had time to keep up on IG but my team spirit won’t let me let it go. So, I decided to post my pics every 10 days on my blog.

#SnippetTuesday

Favourite part of the writing process

My favourite part is definitely the creating. I love coming up with story ideas and characters.

#Worldbook Day – Shelfie time!

Best writing advice you’ve ever been given

Successful authors are writers that never gave up.

Publishing is not easy and I easily could have quit my dream long ago.

A lot of time has been spent on my manuscripts, on creating queries, synopsis, blurbs and pitches. Only to be rejected. I’ve developed a thick skin and learned to use feedback to help me grow rather than take it personally.

Sometimes the task feels too big, never ending. I’ve made mistakes. I’ve learnt from my mistakes. I wrestle with my self doubt and imposter syndrome. And, I’m becoming a stronger writer all the time.

I will publish. I know I will. I’m never going to quit.

Campfire audience: who do you write for?

Me. Initially, I write for myself, for fun. This is super important as novel writing is a marathon. Can you imagine spending that long working on something you don’t even like?

My target audience is anyone that enjoys YA Contemporary Fantasy. I’d especially like teen girls to enjoy it and be able to relate to my MC, despite her being a mermaid.

What do you do when you are not writing?

I work at a college but most of my free time is spent with my kids. I wanted to be a mum for a long time. They’re hard work and wear me out but I love them so much.

We love by the sea, nearby woodland walks and lots of farms within driving distance. When this lockdown is over, I will be taking my kids out to enjoy the great outdoors.

Favourite out of genre book

My favourite GCSE book was An Inspector Calls by J. B. Priestly. It’s a period play. I wouldn’t choose to read it but had to and ended up loving it.

It was about how a family had caused a woman’s death. Independently their actions were small but collectively they had a massive impact on her life. I also enjoyed the twist at the end.

#TeaserTuesday

Cliffhangers: yay or nay?

Last day of camp – how did you do?

Jodie taught me how adjust my goal to make it more realistic. I lowered it to editing 25k words.

I started day 21 with my editing up to chapter 7. I finish Camp Nano on day 30 by editing chapter 10. That’s a total of 27,403 words edited this month. That makes me a winner!

It definitely could have gone better but I have developed a realistic editing goal. May, I’ll try to edit another 15 chapters, and June, I’ll edit the final 12. That’s rough 30k words a month.

Yesterday, I started Furlough for 3 weeks. Hopefully this will help my motivation as I won’t be staring at my laptop all day and it’ll alleviates some pressure so I won’t be as tired.

I would love to see your answers to the above. Let me know if you are taking part on IG or posting somewhere else.

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Camp NaNo Progress (days 11 to 20)

Camp NaNo Progress (days 1 to 10)

My Books

My To Be Read Pile

Camp NaNo Progress – days 11 to 20

I finished day 10 days by editing chapter 4. This update is on how the middle of April has gone (days 11 to 20).

I started off by celebrating how well the first 10 days had gone by watching Contagion with my husband.

Chapter 5 and 6 needed more work than I expected. This slowed my progress and affected my motivation. I got them done but I felt like I was getting nowhere fast.

Then, I literally was getting nowhere. I was so exhausted in the evenings that I wasn’t doing any editing. I read. I attended online writers meets. But, I wasn’t editing. I realised I needed a break and took a night off to watch The Quiet Place with my hubby.

I’ve been using Google Docs and a Trial of Dabble Writer. I really love Dabble writer but can’t use it on my mobile. On the last day of my trial, they released the Dabble Writer App for mobiles. I really liked it and was very tempted to buy it.

I finished day 20 by completing my edits for chapter 7. I’m frustrated with myself as it’s not as far as I’d hoped for.

Here are my responses to World Indie Warriors Instagram photo challenge:

#NationalPetDay – My Cats

I have two cats, Evie and Gracie.

Evie

Evie has the nickname Evie Knievel for all her dangerous antics and vet visits as a kitten. She thought she was the neighbourhood vigilante. Thankfully, she is more chilled now.

Gracie

Gracie looks very elegant, like a Burmese Blue but she’s just a moggy and shows her true colours when she’s fed. Greedie-Gracie-Guzzlechops sings for her super and scoffs it down like a pig, with the snorting noises.

Favourite writer memes

There are so many but I thought it might be fun to make my own up.

Here is my “Aspiring Indie Author” meme, inspired by the ‘What I do…’ memes.

Aspiring Indie Author

When did you decide you wanted to be a writer?

Age 5. As soon as I learned books were written by someone, I knew I wanted to be that someone. My first stories would be classed as fan fiction as they featured characters from Orchard Tree books and were about more magic key adventures.

Plotter/Pantser/Plantser

I think I’m a Plantser. I’m somewhere in the middle.

For a long time I would just pants my way through a novel. Sometimes I’d write a brief outline. But, I was just writing for fun, for me, and it didn’t matter if it was any good.

It wasn’t until I decided I would try and publish that I realised what a mess my manuscript was in. And how much I hate editing. I realised I need to plot more to reduce editing.

I invested in Save The Cat and it showed me how to plot. It’s been a game changer and I now use it before starting a novel. I still write a brief outline and only plot one Act at a time, not the whole novel.

I like the freedom of pantsing too much to plot every detail. In my plotting, I still allow myself some gaps to fill. An element of surprise is the fun part of creating.

MidMonth Check In – How’s It Going

I’ve split the month into thirds. So, on my blog I’m sharing how I got on at the 10 day mark, 20 day mark and 30 day mark. But, I gave a mid month check in on Instagram.

Indie or traditional publishing?

I’ve spent a long time chasing the Traditional route. It appealed because I wanted validation from someone in the industry. I wanted someone to support me with guidance on what to do when and with access to the resources I needed. I wanted publishing and marketing done for me.

But, now, I am pursuing indie publishing.

As a member of World Indie Warriors I am not alone. Many other members have published successfully before me and are willing to share their experience on what worked (or didn’t) and the best resources. I am also doing Pagan Malcom’s Story Seller Academy course which is full of useful information. I now struggle with time to digest it all but I know what I’m doing or who to ask for help.

The biggest hurdle was a change in mindset. The moment I decided I no longer need validation to be good enough because I know I am. With that, I no longer needed permission to publish. I will publish when I want.

As for the marketing… it turns out I really enjoy it. I love talking about my writing and connecting with others. I love sharing book reviews and recommending books. My creative side loves making images to support my content. One day, I’m hoping to make videos too.

It is hard to find the money to invest in myself but when someone says, “What do you want for your birthday?” My answer is money. It goes in my publishing pot. I keep adding to it. It’s not much but little by little it grows. One day, this pot will by my published book(s).

#FactFriday – Tell us something interesting about yourself?

I’m a pretty open person that I’ve probably already shared anything remotely interesting already.

I am a natural redhead. I now love my hair and embrace it as part of my identity but that wasn’t always the case.

Favourite Indie Book?

Campfire stories: Any local myths/legends

My favourite folk story is about the green children of Woolpit, Suffolk. During the 12th Century, a boy and a girl appeared. Nobody knew where they came from and they could not speak a word of English. But, the most bizarre detail was that they had green skin and would only eat green beans.

As they learned to eat different foods they became a more normal colour. They were baptised but sadly the boy died shortly after. The girl learnt to speak English and told of the place she came from called Saint Martin where everyone was green. The girl was called Agnes and married Richard Barre.

I discovered the story because I fell in love with Michael Talbot’s faeries. I’ve collected many. The original three were my favourite and has green skin (but, I only own one of these). When I learned the factory allowed tours, I planned a day out for my mum and boyfriend to come with me. We saw the faeries being made & hand painted & their delicate wings crafted. Afterwards, we visited the local church when I happened upon a leaflet about the Green Children of Woolpit.

My favourite film is Labyrinth. I discovered the artist behind the film was Brian Froud. I bought his books and one of them contains a story about The Green children of Woolpit.

The Green Children are special to me. They inspired two of my favourite artists and filled my heart with wonder.

If you ever switched genres, what would you switch to?

I’ve written most genres but there are some that I’d like to give more attention.

Current plot bunnies include a dark fantasy, an erotic paranormal romance, a contemporary YA, dystopia sci-fi, a children’s chapter book and more picture books.

I like magic, fantasy and sci-fi in stories so I am unlikely to write a novel that is a cosy mystery, crime or a thriller. But, I’d never say never.

I would love to see your answers to the above. Let me know if you are taking part on IG or posting somewhere else.

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Camp NaNo Progress (days 1 to 10)

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