Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Give yourself permission to write crap

Tell Me a Story - writing tip
AJ - Do you have any suggestions for those of us perfectionist/ slowpokes who have a hard time NOT editing as we write? Basically I write crap. I have to keep editing it away.
Hi, Billie. Thanks for contacting me. I can only suggest that because you understand your problem, the answer virtually lies in your own hands. Recognizing that you’ve hit an obstacle is certainly the first step - and even the best writer churns out crap in the first draft.

Some writers become drunk with their own words and don’t recognize what they’ve written can have anything wrong with it. They are deluding themselves. Their writing will remain crap.

Words have worth

Maybe your problem is the opposite in that you don’t believe your words have worth. If that’s the case, then you too, are deluding yourself. There is something of worth in everything you write. Amongst that crap will be a gem, and if you clean it up it will sparkle.

Once you acknowledge a first draft, warts and all, is an essential part of writing, maybe you’ll face it more philosophically and proficiently. No one is going to read your first draft. It’s for your eyes only, a scribbling of basic ideas.

Force yourself to write.

Striving for the ultimate is an essential part of success, but you really shouldn’t let it get in the way of putting that precious story down. Be hard on yourself. Force yourself to simply write until the draft is complete. When the draft is finished, you can give yourself full-rein to edit. You can be as harsh as you like – in fact, you should be severe. Stories are not written, they are re-written.

Overcoming the problem.

Years ago I had trouble with putting profanities into my work.

I overcame the problem by writing a whole story using the most foul-language I could dream up. I let it flood out; in fact, I overdid the writing. The story was unreadable because of this overuse of swear words, but it cured me.

Maybe you could try something similar with, say, a version of your very own NaNoWriMo. Set your own target then write like mad for a month – forget quality – forget story content – just give yourself permission to complete a novel-full-of-crap within a month.

Expect crap, write crap; be satisfied with crap - but you might be pleasantly surprised. You might even have a story you can use sometime – and you might just be cured.


Saturday, 19 December 2009

Writing - Proper Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance

Tell Me a Story - question
Hello, AJ. I'm having a dilemma. I think it's descriptive power syndrome. I over-describe things (maybe) and get stuck right after writing a great descriptive paragraph and become unable to continue the plot. Every thing I start to write results like that. Please do recommend me methods or tell me tips to overcome my problem. Thanks.
Hello Aiman from Singapore. Thanks for sending this in. Descriptive Power Syndrome, mm.... That's a new one on me, I guess you not only recognize you have a problem, but have named it as well. Perhaps you’re talking about what in the past was called ‘purple prose’.

It seems to me that you almost have the answer in your own hands. Most people don't understand what the obstacles are with their writing and that's where their actual problems lie. Once they KNOW they have a problem, they work on it and polish it away. You seem to understand exactly what is wrong - so let's try to see why you can't get over it.

Edit it away

Most authors simply get on with writing their story and return later to edit away the crap. Don’t imagine that writers produce a beautiful piece of work hot off the press. Stories aren’t written, stories are re-written, several times. Everyone has to edit the rubbish away. The trick is recognizing what the rubbish is. You already seem to understand this.

Let's try a plan

Okay, so maybe the real problem lies in planning. I know I hammer this a lot, but a lot of hiccups in writing come about because of insufficient preparation.

If you make an outline of the story before you start to write, you won’t grind to a halt because any sticking points will be ironed out in the planning stage. A plan doesn’t have to be all-inclusive, it can be as sketchy as you like. Just make one. The worst plan is better than none at all - and the plan can be altered at any time to accomodate new ideas.

Proper Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance

Some writers claim that making an outline inhibits their flow of writing, that their creative juices are stunted. In fact, it can have the opposite effect. Once you know where the story is going, you can write free-flow then wham! Words just fall off the ends of your fingers.

A plan is merely a guide, a map of where you want to go; it isn’t the journey, it isn’t writing. Writing is where you release the juices and the flow of creation comes into it’s own.

Good luck - and let me know how you go on.

Sunday, 6 December 2009

The first few pages of a novel are crucial

Tell Me a Story - advice.

Hello AJ. I wonder if you can help? I have a problem when starting my stories. I never seem to get the beginning right. Is there any advice you can offer?
Hi, Jennifer. Thank you for sending this in. The first chapter, in fact probably the first ten pages, are the most important part of any story. It's the window into your fictional world and unless readers like what they see within this time, they're liable to turn away.

For more information take a look at this Bukisa article BECOMING A WRITER

Hope this helps a little. Don't give up - and good luck.

Who needs writers agents?
Book writing tips - A Perceptive Notebook

Friday, 27 November 2009

Tips for editing your book

Tell Me a Story - writing tips

So your story is written. Your flurry of words is finally down, you've captured all the ideas you wanted to capture. The adventure is complete.

Now comes the hard work.

That amazing manuscript is raw. Raw words should never see the light of day other than by the author. You now have to become your own worst critic. You must put those wonderful words away for a few weeks. Shove them in a drawer. Lock them up. Let them rest for a while.

It's amazing what a few weeks away from your work will do to your perspective. You'll suddenly realize those words aren't so magical after all. But all is not lost.


You need to learn how to polish. You have to put on your editing head and knock that precious book into shape.

How? Take a look at To Write A Story - 20 Ways To Write A Story Better and you'll stand a chance of making it to the other side without screaming.

How To Describe - Mastering Descriptive Writing
7 Cool Ways To Jump-Start The Story Characters In Your Writing
Emotional Writing - 8 Cool Writing Tips To Invoke Emotion

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

The Fulfilling Facet - Emotional Influence

Tell Me a Story

Emotional writing - creating impact

"It is my ambition to say in ten sentences what other men do not say in whole books." - Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzshe
Emotional influence is sometimes the most ignored facet with wannabe writers. Emotion is essential, not only when linked to what characters feel about themselves and others, but more importantly, in the reaction they stir in readers.

Creative writing tips - but what is emotional impact?

Creative writing is worthless without emotion. Creating emotional impact is the only real way to cultivate empathy between readers and your story.
Enjoyment, fury, dread and anguish are the most common human emotions. Each time you find a piece of writing that sticks in your mind, it's usually spiked with one or more of these. If you want your own work to be thought of in this way, you'll have to wrench at those same feelings in your readers.
Emotional writing? So, what is the right way to go about writing a book that has sufficient emotion? How do you create such an elusive element in your readers? Naming it certainly doesn’t produce it. We can declare our protagonists irritated, anxious, broken-hearted or suchlike, but it doesn’t generate the emotion in the reader. How then do we use this intangible feature

Elements of emotional writing.

How do established authors invoke emotion? There are certain elements in creative writing that can be brought into play that have an emotional influence. It must be noted that their whole is greater than the sum of their parts. You should be prepared to include all elements to be sure of capturing this elusive quality.

  • Emotional writing - There must be consequence. The degree of emotive reaction is a direct reflection of the character’s problem and the consequences they face. Will there be incentive if the central character makes it, will there be tragedy if he doesn’t.
  • Emotional writing - There must be a strong theme. The outcome of the story must be important in some way. The story must mean something. If the predicament doesn’t matter one way or another, readers won’t be bothered about the outcome.
  • Emotional writing - There must be struggle. There must not only be consequence in the plot, there must be serious tussle both inner and outer with the character, otherwise no emotion will come from it. No matter how severe the crisis, if it is easily sorted, no one will care; no one will feel anything.
  • Emotional writing - Find that passion. Passion grows from the story’s significance. If the task is meaningless, there will be no feeling, no identity.
  • Emotional writing - Think about the atmosphere. A story should have mood, ambience, atmosphere, call it what you will. Mood comes from all the restrained emotions that arise from the material elements of your story. It’s not enough to set a house in front of your characters; we need to know how they feel about it. Is it scary, or full of love, what does it mean to them; how does it move them?
  • Emotional writing - Use the senses. Characters shouldn’t walk in a vacant space. Tell readers what is around them. Emotions can be constructed from sensory reaction even when there isn’t a problem. It won’t be a strong emotion, but it can exist as an entirety by itself.
  • Emotional writing - Writing with moderation. Never give emotive words too full rein when you’re displaying how a character feels, use moderation, it’s a good maxim. Play down the most moving events. Encounter in itself carries drama, and key sentiments become implicit without description.
  • Emotional writing - Limit your detail. Be cautious of littering scenes with too much detail. It takes only a few well-chosen words to describe a setting. Humans don’t have time to respond to every element around them, and characters should not respond to everything either. Opt for the most valuable details; the reader will fill in the rest.

Emotional writing tips - and so....

So maybe the lesson to be learned from these emotional writing tips, is to write with every single sense, including the sixth, but to write with restraint. Remember, more than enough is too much. Use your descriptive powers with self-control. Make every word count.

Saturday, 31 October 2009

Researching that novel

Tell Me a Story - tips

Does the idea of research throw you into a fluster?

Okay, so you’ve dreamed up a breathtaking idea for a mystery. You've decided you’ll have a young English girl swept off her feet by a French aristocrat whom she bumps into accidentally and who obviously has something to hide. You can’t be bothered with all that crap about planning and plotting, you know exactly where to begin. You’ll get your main characters in conversation right away when they meet on a train from London to Glasgow.

You're in heaven

You rush right in, hot ideas spilling into the word processor. You're filled with utmost assurance. The dialogue will be a cauldron of interesting little snippets that are sure to captivate the readers. You’ll bring in your hero’s French background, how he came to be on the London train, her experience in learning some new job that you’re bound to think of in a few minutes, and every bit of it will be full of interesting detail.

Oh, oh!

At this point, you come to a stop, yet you haven’t typed more than a couple of pages. You become conscious that you don’t know these characters. Their lives are a blank; you know absolutely nothing about them or their lifestyles. Is there even a train from London to Glasgow? If so what times does it run? Someone will pick up on it if you get it wrong.

As empty as an empty can

The whole of your mystery will be just as empty if you don’t know pertinent facts. You must find out all about your characters and their backgrounds before you begin. You must know about their families and friends, you must know their likes and dislikes. Research means no more than that, yet the thought of it can throw beginners into as big a panic as the idea of writing a synopsis.

Even if you’re familiar with a place, a job, a building, you still need to do a little research. Unless you have a super-human memory, you’ll find your knowledge of even quite familiar things will play tricks with you.

Research can be as unpretentious or as convoluted as you care to make it. Just make sure you get out there and do it.

Who needs writers agents?
Book writing tips - A Perceptive Notebook

Friday, 30 October 2009

Identity theft

Tell Me a Story - warning identity theft.

I feel an idiot. Last night I was well and truly hooked by local phishermen.... or in this case someone pretending to be someone I knew.

My identity was briefly stolen - my personna robbed - someone took my place. Some unknown piece of shit stole my name and passed themself off as me. I feel abnormally angry.

Phishing and chips

I'm perhaps one of the lucky ones. No money was involved this time - at least none I'm aware of. My credit cards are intact, my bank balance remains healthy - but my identity was still taken. I am violated.

The cause.... I opened a DM (direct message) on Twitter from a trusted follower, and it advised me to follow a link that I 'just had to see'. That's what ultimately let me down - I was too damn nosey - I had to find out what was going on - so I suppose it was my own fault. That's what these vile shits understand - people's weaknesses. They're expert psychologists.

Identity theft

When I clicked the link I received a message telling me that Twitter was over capacity. Now as all Twitter users will know, this a common enough happening - except this time it also flashed up that I needed to re-enter my Twitter name and password. It wasn't quite the same format as usual but close enough not to ring any warning bells - I entered my password and bingo....

Immediately, some, if not all, of my followers received strange DM's that I can only hope were legal. I pray no one had anything pornographic.

I was lucky enough to have people warn me fairly soon afterwards that something odd was taking place. I followed advice and changed my password - which hopefully put a stop to it - but how much damage was done - to my reputation if nothing else? That's what identity theft does, it robs you of confidence, it makes you question what else in your life has been affected - or damaged.

Reputations take forever to build and can be destroyed in seconds - I'm just keeping my fingers crossed that any collateral is minimal. I hope my friends remain just that - friends. I hope they realise it wasn't me sending out the spam.

So take heed of my circumstance and be warned. Be careful how and when you let your password out - it's frighteningly easy to get trapped. It all seemed so logical, so normal that I was fooled. There are some evil bastards out there..... It could have been much worse than this.

Who needs writers agents?
Book writing tips - A Perceptive Notebook

Friday, 23 October 2009

National Hispanic Awareness Month - Living In Spain

Tell Me a Story

I LOVE living in Spain. As an Ex-pat from England, I'm maybe uniquely placed to comment on what it's like to live in Spain. Sometimes pictures speak better than words. Maureen Sabina has been looking at the photos around Jalon and Moraira and is interested in what my own villa looks like - so here goes -

I've taken a few snaps around the garden and here they are. Hope they meet with your approval - I love the place - but then again I am rather biased.

Thursday, 15 October 2009

National Hispanic Awareness month - Around Moraira

Tell Me a Story

As promised, for those living in the New World here are some more photos to remind them of their origins in the Old World of Spain. This time I've featured Moraira. A picturesque resort close to Jalón - featured in the novel Without Reproach.

National Hispanic Awareness month

Monday, 12 October 2009

National Hispanic Awareness month - Around Jalon

Tell Me a Story - National Hispanic Awareness month

Novels and in fact ANYTHING to do with Spain seem to be in the public interest at the moment.

I've been asked to give an indication of what it's like around Jalon, do I have pictures. A couple of readers wanted to understand where Without Reproach was set and what the scenery was like. So here goes. Here's a flavour of rural Spain - nothing like the high-rise Costas you might be familiar with.

Let your mind go free, live with Eduardo, experience his country understand his rugged domain.

I'll publish some more pictures over the next few blog posts. Hope you got a flavour of this big country for your National Hispanic Awareness month. And for those of you living in the New World, hope you like what you see of the Old.

Who needs writers agents?
Book writing tips - A Perceptive Notebook

Monday, 5 October 2009

Do writers go to college

Tell Me a Story - question time .

AJ, Do writers need to go to college? I mean people who write books. Not technical writers or journalists or anything. I'm talking about the author of a fantasy series, a book full of laughter, a tragedy, a romance, a thriller, whatever. If so, what kind of degree do you need to be one?

Hi Demi. Some universities certainly offer courses on creative writing, but a degree isn't necessary to be a successful writer. I do actually have a degree, but it isn't related to media in any way, so it doesn't count.

All skills have to be learned.
As my interest in writing deepened I realized that I needed to understand the principles involved, so I studied numerous books on creative writing. I also completed a correspondence course on writing.
Very few people are born with the ability to put a coherent story together. Everyone has to learn, either by years of experience and disappointement, or by studying what has gone on before and proved to be successful. Remember, any skill worth it's salt has to be learned. If every man-jack could write, would it really be worthwhile doing?
Artists don't just pick up brushes and paint successfully; they study for years. Sculptors, musicians, dancers and actors are the same. Why should any sane person think it's different for writers?

All artists are craftsmen. Not all craftsmen are artists.
Writing is a craft. Like all crafts it can be learned, but an apprenticeship has to be served. To turn that craft into an art that readers will take seriously takes something extra - and that is what keeps writers striving - the search for that extra dimension. This can only come when you thoroughly understand the principles involved.

Formal tuition.
Admittedly some writers don't go down the path of FORMAL training, instead they 'teach' themselves through years of reading and attempting to write. Don't be fooled by tales of 'overnight' success - generally it involves years of closet writing before the 'magical' discovery.
Formal tuition cuts those years down, you get to understand the why and wherefore of what you're doing, and if you participate in a course, you have a guiding hand too - feedback is a very important element of writing.

A different slant.
If you’re interested in studying, you should at least search for modern books on the writing craft. There are numerous available to choose from. As with everything, it's down to personal preference which book will suit you best, so maybe purchasing one or two will be preferable. I had about three on the go at once, at one time, each taking a different slant and emphasis, but each good in it's own right.

Good luck with it Demi. Hope it all goes your way..

Saturday, 3 October 2009

The forward motion of verbs

Tell Me a Story .

I've just found this quote and I think it sums up a lot about writing style. It neatly encompasses one of my pet rants. In my opinion, a number of published writers would do well to take note.

Forward motion in any piece of writing is carried by verbs.

Verbs are the action words of the language and the most important. Turn to any passage on any page of a successful novel and notice the high percentage of verbs. Beginning writers always use too many adjectives and adverbs and generally use too many dependent clauses. Count your words and words of verbal force (like that word “force” I just used).


next post

Holidays in Alicante - the Hidden Spain
Lens Coating - What Everybody Ought to Know

Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Finding a literary agent

Tell Me a Story - information .

Right guys. If you're a writer, finding a literary agent is probably uppermost in your mind. This seems to be even more true in the USA than the UK ..... so I guess most of you will out there searching....

Search no more..... there's a new service on the market and can be found under Agentbox at WEbook

Agentbox will forward each writer's proposal to an agent selected from the available list. If agents are interested in a writer's work, they'll make contact. Typically for writers, finding the right literary agent in a list of thousands is one of the most challenging steps to getting a book into publication.

At first glance this seems to be a good scenario, someone else doing all the slog ..... If anyone has experience of them let me know...

Holidays in Alicante - the Hidden Spain
Lens Coating - What Everybody Ought to Know

End of post - Finding a Literary agent.

Monday, 28 September 2009

Why do women make love

Tell Me a Story.

Why do women make love?

Poets through the ages have been inspired by it, songs have been sung because of it, thousands of stories have been written, films have become smash hits because of it.... but just WHY do women make love?

Men are simple creatures, men make love because quite frankly.... well it's enjoyable....Sex is nice....

The question has never been asked of women before - but now that it has, the answers are rather intriguing and perhaps just a little bit disappointing - for men at least. It seems that enjoyment plays only a small part - no pun intended - in the female sexual act.

Take a look at this article by Tanya Gold for an insight...

So when I put pen to paper for my next novel, I'll have to scrub out all those scenes where the heroine actually enjoys making love to her partner....

There'll have to be some more altruistic reason for her taking part in such a transient physical activity.... Now let me think.....

Holidays in Alicante - the Hidden Spain
Lens Coating - What Everybody Ought to Know

Sunday, 27 September 2009

Kelly Corrigan - A success story

Tell Me a Story - success

Last year more than 560,000 books were newly put into print in the United States alone. This is a cake of which everyone wants a wedge; a cake that many people seem to think is thickly layered in cream – it isn’t.
  • Writers are required to be business people.
  • Writers are expected to sponsor themselves.
  • Writers are expected to create a household name.
  • Writers are expected to market themselves.
For most of us, this isn’t what we entered the world of literature for. We are creative souls, not entrepreneurs. For most of us, the world of business is anathema.

Publishers will enthusiastically campaign for big names authors of course, but for the majority of authors it's a work-it-out-for-yourself universe of generating book trailers, Web sites, blogs, and social networking.

Just occasionally, someone shrugs off the bands and blazes a trail that everyone else wants to follow. Kelly Corrigan is one such person. Take a look at her incredible journey and take heart.


Holidays in Alicante - the Hidden Spain
Lens Coating - What Everybody Ought to Know

Massage your way to good health

Monday, 21 September 2009

The source of writing

Tell Me a Story - writing ideals.

The source of powerful writing, in fact perhaps the source of all creative writing, is frustration.

Writing is born from an innermost and overwhelming urge to communicate. Writing is a longing to share ideas and concepts, to transform the concealed into the perceived; to express, relate, and in the end fashion new understanding.

Writing realigns our thinking and gives us new ideas. Writing can transport us and make the world of imagination real.

Those lucky enough to share the words, listen to a different part of the same discussion - each of us creates a different world from the same writing. That is the ultimate excitement of books. Each one of us creates a perfect world from those words, a world that exactly fits our own ideals. It can never be bettered.

Long live words. Long live writing.

Next post on Tell Me a Story.


Thursday, 17 September 2009

Dan Brown - The Lost Symbol

Tell Me a Story - opinion.

Like his work or hate it, author Dan Brown simply won’t go away.

The sensational sales of the latest novel from Dan Brown are a real shot in the arm to publisher Knopf Doubleday - and of course booksellers in general. The industry, along with many others, has suffered badly in the financial slump and they've all been sitting with hands clasped and eyes raised.

Booksellers have been nervously looking for a title – ANY title - that will hit the mark with readers and generate the same sort of frenzy that the "Harry Potter" series from author J.K. Rowling, did.

Well, Mr. Bookseller, be nervous no longer - it's happened. The most recent novel from writer Dan Brown, "The Lost Symbol," burst one-day sales records, its publisher and booksellers claimed, and seems to have answered a few prayers.

Booklovers apparently bought over one million hardcover copies across the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom after it was issued on Tuesday, according to publisher, Knopf Doubleday, a division of Random House Inc.

"We are seeing historic, record-breaking sales across all types of our accounts in North America for 'The Lost Symbol," said Sonny Mehta, editor in chief of Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Knopf Doubleday is a division of Random House Inc. called the book from Dan Brown, its best-selling first-day adult fiction title ever.

Ah well, things seem to looking up for some....

Holidays in Alicante - the Hidden Spain
Lens Coating - What Everybody Ought to Know

Conserving Water - Your Must-Know Guide

Audio short story

Tell Me a Story

I'm shy! Book promotion holds all sorts of devils for me.

I hate being the centre of attention, I don't enjoy nook signing, so as you might imagine, so a radio interview is possibly the most painful thing I could do.... But do it I did.

The saving grace is that the radio interviewer went on to read one of my short stories - and she did a good job. See what you think....

Holidays in Alicante - the Hidden Spain
Lens Coating - What Everybody Ought to Know

Conserving Water - Your Must-Know Guide

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Michael Jackson novel

Tell Me a Story - news

New York publishers are apparently making a bid for a work of fiction written by the one and only Michael Jackson according to a source in the industry.

The novel supposedly portrays a rock star at the zenith of his success, who becomes disillusioned with success and instead is fixated with death.

It seems the novel is a reflection of Michael Jackson’s own life - his escalation to stardom and the manifestation of his private demons.

The bid for Michael Jackson's novel is expected to be in the six figures area.

Celebrities taking over

I KNOW he's dead but as far as I'm concerned it's just another case of celebrities taking over the publishing industry.

It pisses me off that authors can't get sales, yet a celebrity already worth millions, will make millions more from book sales ..... I know, I know.... sour grapes - but I can't help it. Most authors struggle to make peanuts..... but you've heard all this before..... I rest my weary tongue.

Holidays in Alicante - the Hidden Spain
Lens Coating - What Everybody Ought to Know

Conserving Water - Your Must-Know Guide

Monday, 14 September 2009


Tell Me a Story - info

If you believe that publishing by vanity press or self-publishing is just one step away from recognition by the recognized publishing industry - think again. If you think that a big publishing house will leap at your book once it's been self-published and they can see it for themselves - think again. I've just uncovered this article by a publisher, who explains what goes on.

It makes you wonder.....

Holidays in Alicante - the Hidden Spain
Lens Coating - What Everybody Ought to Know

Conserving Water - Your Must-Know Guide

Marketing your book

Tell Me a Story - opinion

I'm always on the look out for ways to promote 'Without Reproach'. So, when an article to help with book marketing appears on the web I'm straight in there - what new things can I learn, how else can I get my novel 'out there', how can I make it popular?

Contrary to fashionable belief, books don't sell themselves - unless you're someone like Stephenie Meyer of course. Publishers rarely put much effort into selling your book. Budgets for promotion often aren't available for mere mortals, and even if your publisher DOES provide book promotion, the money will be part of an advance package .... And don't run away with the idea that an advance is some free gift of cash from the 'nice publisher'. An advance it's what it says it is - an advance - an advance against estimated future sales of your book. If sales of your book don't reach the level of the advance, chances are you won't get another contract.....

Most people have a rather grandiose idea that we authors knock out a book then sit back and wait for royalty cheques to roll in ..... NOT SO. I'm afraid that in today's competative world, there are so many new books on the market that chances of sales of your book or my book selling well, are very slim indeed.

Authors need a hell of a lot of luck to get large numbers of their books into the hands of Joe Public .... hence my obsession with finding articles that help with marketing books.

This time I found an article via LinkedIn - a good site to be on by the way. The article is an interview with author Charles S. Weinblatt, and makes good sense, has some good tips and guidelines. Give it a try I'm sure you'll find something of interest in there.

Holidays in Alicante - the Hidden Spain
Lens Coating - What Everybody Ought to Know

Conserving Water - Your Must-Know Guide

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Brooklyn Book Festival

Tell Me a Story - Information

For those of you lucky enough to live within travelling distance of Brooklyn, there’s a real treat in store this weekend.

On Sunday, September 13, the Brooklyn Literary Council and Brooklyn Tourism will host the fourth annual free Brooklyn Book Festival, presenting in excess of 220 writers - and an erudite bazaar of more than 150 booksellers and literary institutes.

Book Readings.

The program will include readings by numerous authors including Paul Auster, Russell Banks, and Francine Prose.

For more information about the Brooklyn Book Festival and sponsors, visit

Holidays in Alicante - the Hidden Spain
Lens Coating - What Everybody Ought to Know

Conserving Water - Your Must-Know Guide

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Why writers should blog

Tell Me a Story - opinion

Anyone who's thinking of writing a book ought to write a blog. Whether you've completed your 'great work' or just thinking of starting, writing a blog is a good idea.

  • But why waste time writing a blog when you could be doing productive work?

Well for starters, any writing is productive. Look on a blog as practice for the real thing. The more you're used to putting words together, the easier it becomes.

Web presence.

However, don't run away with the idea that you'll suddenly have dozens of fans just because you blog. It isn't that you'll even have regular followers at the start, but eventually you'll build up a 'presence' on the web. It's slow, it's time consuming, but over time it starts to happen.

Your name will gradually filter into the 'ether' and hopefully be remembered by some.... and I've read that a book - in fact any artifact - needs to be seen at least seven times before a prospective buyer becomes a firm purchaser.

So start early - your name is what you want sell .... not just a book.

If you DON'T blog.

  1. If you DON'T blog, your name won't be known in the blogosphere.
  2. If you DON'T blog, you can't possibly have a ready-made following.
  3. If you DON'T blog, other writers who are bloggers won't know you exist.

If you DO blog.

  1. If you DO blog, there's a chance that some editor or publisher will notice your work .... Okay, okay, I know it's a remote possiblity, but who'd want to miss an opportunity like that.
  2. If you DO blog, readers will see how professional you are and have a chance to develop a relationship with you
  3. If you DO blog, agents, editors, and publishers appreciate a writer who is ready to promote their own work, and the Internet is far and away the most efficient way to accomplish this.

All in all, I suppose it's rather like a lottery ticket. If you don't purchase you'll never win....

So, get stuck into that blog. At the very worst, a handful of people might start to recognize your name.... and at best - well you could just have a ready made readership waiting for that book.

Holidays in Alicante - the Hidden Spain
Lens Coating - What Everybody Ought to Know

Conserving Water - Your Must-Know Guide

Friday, 4 September 2009

HELP - With Book Promotion

Tell Me a Story - book promotion.

I hate book promotion. I've tried all sorts of things to push my book - to no avail. The market is dominated by big publishing conglomerates.... and it doesn't help if you're a shy person, like me, who dislikes being the centre of attention.

Bog-all book sales.

If you're with an independent publishing house as I was a while ago, or an indie author on Kindle, as I am now,  it's extremely difficult to get a foot in. Result - bog-all book sales despite good feedback and fan-mail from readers all over the world.

The problem is, even with established publishing houses there is no budget for new authors. Like Kindle authors, they have to do all their own book promotion.

Help is at hand.

It's been suggested that the 'tag' system on Amazon be used to help book promotion. The idea is that a growing number of people use those tags to find 'types' of books they want, rather than authors - not simply for genre, but for more specific detail.

As a simple example, there is a tag for Romantic Suspense (along with others) on Without Reproach. Now if someone is interested in novels centred on Romantic Suspense, they might search tags and come up with my book.

Let's play tag.

Amazon actively promote tags on books but place emphasis on those with the highest number of unique ticks on those tags - as they would of course.

Now here's the clever bit. If any kind readers out there, could take it upon themselves to visit Without Reproach and simply click on ANY of the tags to my book, it would cost NO MONEY and it might help my dismal promotion efforts..... PLEEEASE.....

I'm not asking anyone to write a review, just tick boxes they feel like ticking and tick that they've read the book, otherwise it doesn't seem to work (I know its a cheat, but....).

Without Reproach can be found here on or

I really would be grateful for any help you can give.... And for any authors out there, if you fancy a reciprocal agreement for book promotion, please leave a message in the comments.

Thursday, 3 September 2009

Stephenie Meyer and a line in clothes

Tell Me a Story - comment.

It had to happen, didn’t it. Stephenie Meyer is to launch her own line in clothes.

Hobo Skate Company has announced that they've teamed up with writer Stephenie Meyer for a line in clothes from “The Host” - such things as t-shirts and skateboards, available for purchase worldwide on their website starting today..

It pisses me off, but like my old mum used to say, those that have, will have..

I just wish I could find out how her books managed to be so succesful.... I know, I know .....sour grapes.

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Writing qualifications

Tell Me a Story - Guideline.

I've recently had a couple of queries about writing qualifications - are they necessary, what is my experience, what qualification do I have?

Well to answer the last question first - I actually have a university degree, BUT, it bears no relevance to writing, my degree is in science and technology - totally unrelated. My writing qualifications have been acquired through studying numerous books on the craft and taking a distance learning course on creative writing - and several years application of that study.

Limited success

Like most authors, I suffered many rejection slips before finding limited success. My first short story was accepted by a women's magazine way back in 1994. Since then I've been lucky enough to be published regularly in magazines, international newspapers, summer specials, international competitions, anthologies, to have my work read on Prime-time radio and a selection of short stories recorded as audio books. My novel, Without Reproach, was accepted and published by Libros International Publishers.

Need to study

Nothing worthwhile comes easy. If it was easy, everyone would be doing it..... and everyone ain't.
I would never advise anyone to tackle writing without studying at least a couple of books about the craft first. Do artists paint, do musicians play, without studying? Do actors get accepted without studying? NO!

Writing is no different, you need to understand the principles involved before beginning to write .... and after the study comes work. All artforms need dedication and graft. If there ain't no pain, there ain't no gain. If you're serious about writing, it needs doing. Live with it.

Sorry folks. There are no shortcuts .... except in stories ....

Julian Fellowes, and Past Imperfect

Tell Me a Story - review

Julian Fellowes, who landed an Oscar for the screenplay of "Gosford Park" and hit the bestseller lists with his debut novel, "Snobs", based his works on recreating the eccentricity of the British upper crust.

His latest offering, "Past Imperfect", hits the stores in the United States this week. The British author puts his protagonists back amongst earls and baronets, but Julian Fellowes says this time his story is not about class.

"Snobs is a lighter book, an easier read," he said. "….Whereas Past Imperfect is not about class, it's about time and what time does to lives.”

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Quote of the day.

Tell Me a Story - Quote of the day.

Found this, love it, have to share it.

If you had to identify, in one word, the reason why the human race has not achieved, and never will achieve, its full potential, that word would be “meetings”.

- Dave Barry

Friday, 28 August 2009

Book Marketing

Tell Me a Story - opinion.

If you're looking for book marketing tips, try this site. It seems to offer some really good hints and tips.

I've only had a quick look but it looks the tops. I know I'm going to try some of them.....

End of post - Book marketing

Senator Edward Kennedy - children's writer

Tell Me a Story - comment.

Senator Edward Kennedy will probably be recalled as a legislator who was often at the forefront of advancing enlightened causes.
What some may not know, is that Senator Edward Kennedy's love of Portuguese water dogs prompted him to become a children's book author, penning My Senator And Me: A Dog's Eye View Of Washington, D.C., a book on the political process for ages 4-8.

According to Scholastic, Senator Edward Kennedy's book "Not only takes readers through a full day in the Senator's life, but also explains how a bill becomes a law."

Full story from Lori Calabrese
. .
  • Next post on Tell Me a Story.

End of post - Senator Edward Kennedy - children's writer.

Holidays in Alicante - the Hidden Spain
Lens Coating - What Everybody Ought to Know

Conserving Water - Your Must-Know Guide

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Nick Cave - The Death of Bunny Munro

Tell Me a Story - opinion

Nicholas Edward Cave is an Australian musician, songwriter, author, screenwriter, artist, and sometime actor.

Best known for his occupation as frontman of the rock band Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, he also fronted the group The Birthday Party in the early 1980s, a band renowned for its highly dark, challenging lyrics and violent sound influenced by free jazz, blues, and post-punk.

Nick Cave has also turned his hand to writing. His second novel, The Death of Bunny Munro, is due to hit stores on September 8th but given that it’s a book by Nick Cave, the Australian rocker has given special consideration to its audio counterparts. Two audio versions — a digital audio book and an unabridged CD — are due September 8th.

To say it pisses me off is an understatement. Celebrities should stick to what they do best and leave writing to those who can. Bad grapes I know, but his work will sell just because of his name, not because of the quality. It’s a hell of a struggle for writers to get our name's out there – maybe we should sing shit instead….

Holidays in Alicante - the Hidden Spain
Lens Coating - What Everybody Ought to Know

Conserving Water - Your Must-Know Guide

Friday, 21 August 2009

Quote of the day.

Tell Me a Story - quote of the day.

Excess on occasion is exhilarating. It prevents moderation from acquiring the deadening effect of a habit.

- W. Somerset Maugham

Love it.

Holidays in Alicante - the Hidden Spain
Lens Coating - What Everybody Ought to Know

Conserving Water - Your Must-Know Guide

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Quote of the day.

Tell Me a Story - quote of the day.

Just found this little gem - and fell in love with it.

Nothing travels faster than the speed of light with the possible exception of bad news.

- Douglas Adams

Holidays in Alicante - the Hidden Spain
Lens Coating - What Everybody Ought to Know

Conserving Water - Your Must-Know Guide

Sunday, 16 August 2009

Quote - Freddy Mercury

Tell Me a Story - quote of the day.

People are always asking me what my lyrics mean. Well I say what any decent poet would say if you dared ask him to analyse his work: if you see it, darling, then it's there. - Freddie Mercury

  • Next post on Tell Me a Story.
Holidays in Alicante - the Hidden Spain
Lens Coating - What Everybody Ought to Know

Conserving Water - Your Must-Know Guide

next post

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Amy WInehouse musical?

Tell Me a Story - comment.

Who are you kidding?

Amy Winehouse's outlandish lifestyle might just become the topic for a musical! The singer’s brother, Alex Winehouse, says he considers a stage production centred on Amy’s struggles, is a genuine option now she’s getting to grips with her problems.

He said, “Amy is much better. I think one day there could be a musical of Amy’s life. You just don’t ever know how far things can go these days.”

Alex says he thinks the musical should also include her more contented, earlier days as well as the more sensational phase of her life.

Maybe I’m a touch cynical, but this seems to me like Alex has just thought up a way to make a cache of money.

End of post - Amy Winehouse musical.

Book Promotion

Tell Me a Story - promotion

In today's post I'm presenting an extract from 'The Frugal Book Promoter by
Carolyn Howard-Johnson. Carolyn always gives good advice, so read on - enjoy - and learn from the expert.

Exponential Promotional Expansion
New Math Adds Up To FREE Publicity
By Carolyn Howard-Johnson


The new math for free publicity is: E-book + E-gift = Promotion. Oops. Error. Make the
answer FREE promotion!

There are three magical concepts to this e-book formula
1. Accidental
2. Free
3. E-book.

My best promotion ever, a free e-book called COOKING BY THE BOOK, accidentally
fell into my lap and it uses all three. I’ll share more about these three promotional potions
a bit later.

COOKING BY THE BOOK began when more than two dozen authors from several
countries contributed to a book that would be given away free to anyone—as a gift of
appreciation to the support teams it takes to write and market a book and to the legions of
readers who cook but were probably never exposed to our books. Each invited author had
written at least one kitchen scene in his book. Each segment of the cookbook begins with
an excerpt from that scene, the recipe comes next and that is followed by a short blurb
about the author..

This cookbook e-tool is a cross-pollinator. Each contributing author was to publicize it
any way she chose. Participants promised to promote it and not to charge for it. That way
each contributor benefited from the efforts, the lists, and the contacts of the other authors.

We had some superior promoters among us:

�� Most of us set up a page on our websites.
�� Contributor Peggy Hazelwood promoted it in her newsletter for
book lovers.
�� Mary Emma Allen featured it in the columns she writers for New
Hampshire dailies, The Citizen and The Union Leader.
�� David Leonhardt, ( ) author of CLIMB
YOUR STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN, incorporated the cookbook
into a Happiness Game Show he uses in his presentations.
�� We gave away coupons for this book at our signings. Because it
costs nothing, it can be given to everyone, not just those who
purchase a book.
�� I use them as thank yous to people who visit my site.
�� Some include information on these feebies on the back of business
cards and bookmarks.
�� I query site editors whenever I run across another place that seems
as if our CB Book would interest their audience.

Reviewer JayCe Crawford ( said, “For a
foodie-cum-fiction-freak like me, this cookbook is a dream come true.”
That review has
popped up in places we didn’t know existed.

Our most startling success came from sources we had no connection to. It was featured in
Joan Stewart’s The Publicity Hound, in Writer’s Weekly, on, in the
iUniverse newsletter and more. I had the highest rate of interest I’d ever had when I
queried radio stations for interviews and that was in competition with a pitch for THIS IS
THE PLACE just before the 2002 games in Salt Lake City and an intolerance angle on
the same novel right after 9/11.

Wait, we're not through yet. Mother's day invites us to repeat our publicity blitzes every
year, because -- if you haven’t noticed -- mothers tend to do lots of cooking. This book
was so successful I collaborated with Sarah Mankowski on a similar one called
SEASONED GREETINGS for holiday promotional blitzes.

Back to those three magic words:
1. 1. Accidental: I don’t take credit for knowing a good thing when I saw
it. What I learned from this experience is to never dismiss something
that is placed on your desk without careful consideration-- even if it
seems vaguely hokey. I nearly did just that. “E-book indeed,” I said to
myself. I was worried that association with this concept might taint my
literary works. Hubris can be very self-defeating.
2. Free: This charmed word convinced editors to offer our cookbook as a
freebie to their readers. Usually the contributing author who pitched it
was privileged with their own promotional site’s URL being used as a
link but when some editors chose to place the entire cookbook
download on their own sites, we all benefited just the same.
3. E-book: An e-book is easy for readers to obtain. The author need not
budget for postage or processing expenses. In the invitations, queries,
and releases I sent out, I emphasized a no strings attached attack: I
assured everyone that they would not be expected to register to the site,
sign up for a newsletter nor purchase a thing. The E-book concept is
also important because—though it may not be new to you and me—the
media is still infatuated with it.

Here is a fourth magic word. Cookbook. It has universal appeal. You might find
something else that works better for you.. I’ve been thinking of doing something similar
utilizing the subject of genealogy because my novel is based on the stories of my own
ancestors--four generations of them. It is not necessary that the freebie be knitted to your
primary title; you may benefit by a theme that reaches out, draws in those who might not
otherwise be exposed to your work. Your idea may appeal to a narrower audience but
niche markets work, too.

Everyone loves something that is FREE.

COOKING BY THE BOOK and my other e-books are like hospitality gifts. Only better.
That's because they promote not only my work, but that of others. Those who are
interested in how these books work can download samples at Click on the free e-book link.

Carolyn Howard-Johnson is the author of the award-winning This is the Place, Harkening, and
Tracings . She is also the author of the How To Do It Frugally series including The Frugal Book
Promoter: How to Do What Your Publisher Won’t, the winner of USA Book News' Best
Professional Book 2004 and the Irwin Award and the soon-to-be-released The Frugal Editor: Put
Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success. The author was honored by
members of the California Legislature as Woman of the Year in Arts and Entertainment and was
named outstanding woman of the San Gabriel Valley in California for her "literary activism" by the
Pasadena Weekly. Learn more about the author at:

Monday, 10 August 2009

Bookdoggie - a new idea

Tell Me a Story - comment.

For readers and writers alike, here's a catchy new idea for you. Bookdoggie have created a site where instead of searching for an author, you search for book genre.

A new website abroad.

Once your favourite genre is selected, Hey Presto, the site randomly pulls an author with a book in that category. You're taken to the author's website or an online sales site for the book.

Bookdoggie doesn't actually sell direct so has no axe to grind one way or another with author random selection. The only criteria is that authors have to submit their books for them to be considered, and each title is vetted before acceptance.

It might seem an odd idea, but it means readers are introduced to authors who might otherwise not have been considered. It doesn't mean you have purchase, of course - but it does mean you get a glimpse at authors or books which might be great but overlooked.

Give it a try, you might be pleasantly surprised.

End of post - Bookdoggie, a new idea.


Book writing, 20 ways to polish that manuscript
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