Humorous insight into the TRUTH behind Writers & Authors – Guest Blog by NJ Simmonds

I am a writer. But you already know that as you are reading my words. In fact, if you Google N.J.Simmonds you will find lots of information about my books. You will also find plenty of links to my work if you type in my work name Natali Drake too – all depends if you want to read YA fantasy romance or business blogs and newspaper articles. In fact I have written enough words over the years, in enough of an interesting and unique order, that I can safely call myself a proper writer.

Or can I?

Based on what the general public seem to think writers are like, I wonder if I really am one. I also wonder if the dozens of my published friends, authors and talented scribes are really writers too. Why? Because we aren’t reclusive, unsociable introverts, that’s why. Neither are we frumpy, grumpy tortured artists locked up in a dusty loft frantically scribbling down our genius thoughts and trying to change the world. In fact I have come to the conclusion that everything that everyone thinks about writers is wrong.

To help you out a little, here is a list of all the 6 things us writers are NOT:

 

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Modest
For some reason, if you are creative you are not allowed to know about your talents. Yes, great artists of old died drunk and penniless having never sold any of their amazing oil paintings then became famous once dead. But in the past Marketing and PR didn’t exist, so of course they struggled to get word out about their talents. Luckily we are now allowed to SHOUT about our work. How else is anyone going to read it, buy it, like it or be nasty to us on Twitter? And those that are not comfortable, in this day and age, about sharing their masterpieces are missing out. You don’t get the Booker Prize for being modest and telling everyone that the novel you spent ten years writing is probably a load of old rubbish – you get it for talent. Therefore you need to make sure someone actually knows what you have done and that you think it’s actually pretty good.

Altruistic
Oh yes, I work for free. All this tap, tap, tapping on my laptop takes no time at all. All my ideas are totally gratis. I have an ever-flowing deluge of ground-breaking quips and tips at my disposal, and my time, energy and creativity (which, by the way, is completely unique to me) is worth nothing at all.

Unfortunately not!

Standing behind a shop counter or fixing a car is easier to understand in terms of hours equalling fair pay – but creative people can’t charge per hour. Sometimes it takes but a few minutes to write something that will go viral in record time, other times is takes days or even weeks of painstaking research to ensure that that teensy paragraph (that you have no idea whether anyone will even read) is 100% accurate. Not to mention the time it takes to write a book! So if you want a writer to write something for you, then pay them whatever they ask for. Just because you can physically write, doesn’t mean you have the skill, talent and experience to write what you or your business needs… which is what writers are for. I can drive a car, but I’m no F1 driver!

Shy
Last time I went out with a bunch of writers we sat in a dark corner of the pub, sipping espressos and whispering about Chaucer in our cable-knit jumpers; stopping every five minutes to lick our worn-down pencil stub and jot down ideas on the back of a napkin. Not really. We drank one Prosecco too many while watching some terrible rock band, playing pool and getting chatted up by the lead singer of said terrible rock band. So no, we aren’t all shy recluses.

Private
If the internet has done anything to change evolution; it’s created a generation of dirty-washing-waving over-sharers. But I think it’s great! I want to know what you had for dinner, what you think about the latest books and how your novel is getting on. The problem is that those who started reading before the worldwide web was spun struggle to appreciate online bloggers, columnists or copywriters, thinking you need to be seen on paper to have made it. Indie authors get slammed for promoting themselves and every writer who isn’t suffering for their art is viewed suspiciously. If you can write well enough for people to read what you do and enjoy it, then write as much as you can and call yourself a writer. Don’t worry – the book deals and agents and awards will follow, but first write and then make sure people read it. Privacy isn’t very helpful with all of that.

Out of Touch
Out of touch with reality? Really?
You think a good writer, someone that creates believable characters, speaks in their voice and walks in their shoes can do that if they don’t switch the telly on or read the newspaper once in a while? No. A writer needs to understand people and the way life is evolving around us. Yes, we live in our heads most of the time. I say ‘mmmm, maybe, darling’ far too many times to my children’s questions because I’m not really listening – I’m creating beautiful, wonderful characters in my head and then plotting what terrible things to do to them. But occasionally we look up from our laptops, make eye contact with other mortals, and even talk about things that aren’t very high-brow. Plus if we didn’t connect with the world, what would we have to write about in our blogs and articles? Exactly.

And lastly…

Poor
Well, actually, that bit is true. Because no one pays us the millions we are worth.
So my laptop, glass of wine and I are off back to the sofa to write about the unfairness of it all… and hopefully get paid for my undisputed talents!

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N J Simmonds is the author of The Path Keeper, a fantasy romance series for young adults (15+) – although most of her readers are a lot older than that! You can follow her work and read more of her blogs at njsimmonds.com

To Connect with her, find her on Social Media here:

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Love,

Taryn Leigh

Taryn Leigh is the Author of Perfect Imperfections, which is currently available from AmazonWaterstonesBarnes&Noble, Exclusive Books and where all good books are sold.

Gift Ideas for Book Lovers

With Christmas around the corner, we all struggle to find the perfect gift for those around us.

So I thought I would put together some idea of what you can buy, or make, for those Book Lovers/Authors/Writers around you.

 

Here is a list of my favorite ideas:

 

  1. Personalized cushions with funky book saying on them.

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2.  A handmade Book Clock

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3. Book related jewelry. Even a charm bracelet with books on it engraved with names of his/her favorite book.

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4. Personalized book mugs, either from Authors who have their own mugs or Quotes from their favorite books

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5. Scented Candles smelling like old or new books

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6. Homemade bookmarks. They can be wooden laser engraved, or knitted or printed

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7. A book lovers gift in a jar. This jar can contain an Amazon gift card, a bookmark, a book lamp or anything else book related.

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Send me any other ideas you might have!

 

Remember Sharing is caring so please feel free to share this article with friends and family

Like my Page on Facebook

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Connect with me on my Website www.tarynleighauthor.com

 

Love,

Taryn Leigh

Taryn Leigh is the Author of Perfect Imperfections, which is currently available from AmazonWaterstonesBarnes&Noble, Exclusive Books and where all good books are sold.

The essence of time – Guest Blog by Isabella Muir

Much is written about writing.  If you are a fiction writer you could end up spending the equivalent of a working week – every week – garnering useful tips and critical guidance.  We are encouraged to focus on the story arc, on fleshing out our characters and ensuring we include exquisite detail to make our story come to life.  We learn the importance of plot and theme and setting, and how selecting the right point of view can make the difference between success and failure.

When I worked on my first novel, entitled The Tapestry Bag, I found all this advice immensely valuable.  However, I would like to add something else into the mix.  Whether you are a ‘plotter’ – setting out your detailed story board before writing a word – or a ‘pantser’ – someone who writes their first draft, by the ‘seat of their pants’ – there is one other element of preparation that I would highly recommend.

 

The timeline!

Of course, it is important to know the year your story is set in, but a detailed timeline is so much more than that.  When I read through an early draft of The Tapestry Bag I could see all the incidences of ‘yesterday’, ‘tomorrow,’ ‘next week’, and so on were progressing the story forward. However, when I worked through the complete manuscript I realised that I’d started my story at a point in the calendar that resulted in my protagonist, Janie, having to go to work in her mobile library van on Christmas Day!

 

Clearly, something needed to change.

I decided to set out a detailed timeline on an Excel spreadsheet.  The internet is a wonderful thing.  I was able to download a calendar for 1969, the year my story is set in.  I mapped out each chapter, noting the passage of time, making sure that my characters were not at work on a Sunday, and not having their lie-ins when they should have been at work.  Reflecting on the timeline also helped me to determine the likely weather pattern, so that Janie and her husband Greg were appropriately dressed for July sunshine, but prepared for autumn when September came around.

As well as the chapter breakdown, I’ve used Excel to keep a track of the year and month each of my main characters were born. This means I can see at a glance how old each of them is when the story starts and ends, but also how old they were when key events occurred – the Second World War, for example.

Having this timeline was crucial when I wrote the sequel to The Tapestry Bag, entitled, Lost Property.  As the new story unfolds my characters prepare not just for winter, but for the end of a decade; a decade that brought significant social change.

 

Each author will have their own approach to preparation.  As well as a detailed timeline, it’s important to know your characters inside out.  Completing character templates helps us to think about not just their physical attributes, but their likes and dislikes, their hopes and fears.  I have brought each of my characters alive by selecting a photo that sums up the person I perceive them to be.  Just do an internet search for ‘middle-aged man 1960s’ for example, and you can browse through likely candidates.  The photo may even inspire you to add something into your story that you hadn’t anticipated, perhaps they wear glasses, or have a bald patch, or a straggly beard.  These visual prompts help to bring your characters alive as you plot and plan your way through the story.

And now, with my detailed timeline, I can keep a diary of events for my characters.  I’m certain that my Excel timeline has already made my writing life easier.  It’s another resource in my writer’s toolkit that I can adapt and develop so that I am ready for the next novel!

Which resources have you found most helpful when writing fiction?  Share your favourite tips and techniques by adding a comment below.

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This guest blog has been written for us by Isabella Muir

To find her on social media, click on the links below:

Twitter: @nofixedabode123  and @janiejuke
Member of The Author Lab: a writers’ collective: https://theauthorlab.org/

Remember Sharing is caring so please feel free to share this article with friends and family

Like my Page page on Facebook

Follow me on Twitter

Taryn Leigh

Taryn Leigh is the Author of Perfect Imperfections, which is currently available from AmazonWaterstonesBarnes&Noble, Exclusive Books and where all good books are sold.

Nanowrimo – one year on! Guest Blog by Isabella Muir

One year ago I accepted an invitation.  I didn’t know then it would be an acceptance that would change my life.  Perhaps that sounds a little dramatic?  Nevertheless, when I look back over the last twelve months and catalogue the differences, it feels like a fair assertion.

The invitation came from Authorlab colleague, Chris Paton who writes as Christoffer Petersen ‘How about joining in with Nanowrimo?’ he asked me.  Back then, I didn’t know much about the forum that encourages authors to write up to 50,000 words during the month of November.  The forum works on the basis that online writing buddies support each other through the ups and downs of putting together the first draft of a novel.  Chris and I spurred each other on.  During that month I worked to complete a novel I had started for my MA in Professional Writing.  The novel, Forgotten Children, had itself been forgotten and it was a good feeling to re-immerse myself in the plot and get to know the characters.  I didn’t achieve my 50,000 words, but by the end of the month I had got into the habit of writing daily.  More than a habit, that daily writing became a comfortable addiction.

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By Christmas 2016 I had finished the draft of Forgotten Children and sent it out to friends and family for comment and feedback.  But I wanted to keep writing.  In February 2017, while strolling along a beach in southern Spain with my faithful Scottie dog, Hamish, I had an idea for another novel.  Continuing my daily writing habit, I started drafting.  Then in April, Chris suggested we commit to Campnano, which works in a similar way to Nanowrimo.  With a daily target to push me on, I managed to complete the first draft of The Tapestry Bag.  During the spring and summer I beavered away drafting and re-editing until I was ready to send The Tapestry Bag out to the world.

 

While writing The Tapestry Bag I got to know my key character, Janie Juke, very well.  So well, in fact, that I realised she deserved a series of stories.  Janie is a young and unlikely librarian who has a passion for Agatha Christie novels and sees herself as a budding Hercule Poirot.  The Janie Juke crime mystery series is set in the late 1960s in Tamarisk Bay, an imaginary seaside town, modelled on my home town of St Leonards-on-sea.  As Janie goes about her library work she discovers many of the characters in this sleepy resort are not quite what they might appear.  She cleverly weaves her way through a puzzle of clues, unwrapping secrets and challenging lies.

 

The second Campnano in July helped me to complete the second in the Janie Juke mystery series, Lost Property, where Janie is approached by a Second World War pilot to track down an old friend.  In Lost Property Janie teams up with local journalist and friend, Libby Frobisher, and between them they delve into the past in order to solve the mystery.

 

My daily writing habit continues.   Over the last twelve months I have learned a lot, but there is still much to discover.  I have taken the first few steps along a path that I liken to an apprenticeship – with each chapter, each blog post, each book review – I am trying to improve.  Words are tricky, but they are wonderful too.  They open up new worlds for readers and they create healthy challenges for writers.

So, twelve months from Nanowrimo 2016, what is my plan?  You’ve guessed it.  I’ve almost completed Nanowrimo 2017 and who knows what the next twelve months might bring?  I’ll let you know!

 

Have you had a successful writing year?  Let us know what writing challenges you have set yourself.

This guest blog has been written for us by Isabella Muir

To find her on Social Media, you can follow her here:

Twitter: @nofixedabode123  and @janiejuke

Facebook  https://www.facebook.com/isabel.muir.96

Websitewww.isabellamuir.com

Member of The Author Lab: a writers’ collective: https://theauthorlab.org/

 

Remember Sharing is caring so please feel free to share this article with friends and family

Like my Page page on Facebook

Follow me on Twitter

Taryn Leigh

Taryn Leigh is the Author of Perfect Imperfections, which is currently available from AmazonWaterstonesBarnes&Noble, Exclusive Books and where all good books are sold.

 

Amazing Reading Nooks

I am a self confessed book lover. Especially those old books, that smell stale and their pages are yellowed. For me they have character, and tell stories not just within the pages, but also of the people who’s hands have lovingly held them.

As sweet as books may be to a Book Lover like myself, it is sweeter still to have the dream space in which you can relax and read your favourite novel undisturbed.

So here are my favourite reading nooks. Some Classic, Some modern, and some even to encourage your kids to read

For the Classic Lover

This spot is old school classic, cosy and comfortable. Perfect for those winter days with a warm blanket thrown over your knees

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For the adventure seeker

This is perfect for kids, but also for Adults who want to feel like they are in their own unique space up away from it all

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For the Outdoor Lover

This is perfect for those who want to be inside, yet outside at the same time. Its serene and tranquil.

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For the Trend Setter

These are for those loving something new and trendy, yet still comfortable. Something for your friends to say WOW to when they walk into our homes

For the lover of a Secret Hide Away

These are great places of escape, where you not only escape into the pages of the book, but you also escape into your own secret hide away

For the Kids who are learning to love to read

This is for our next generation, who will cherish what we hold dear. A lovely way to encourage them to read

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So go out there and make your own haven where you can put your feet up and escape into the pages of another world for a few hours. You deserve it!

Enjoy!

Remember Sharing is caring so please feel free to share this article with friends and family

Like my Page page on Facebook

Follow me on Twitter

Taryn Leigh

Taryn Leigh is the Author of Perfect Imperfections, which is currently available from AmazonWaterstonesBarnes&Noble, Exclusive Books and where all good books are sold.