Thursday, 30 April 2015

Z is for...Zeal!

Hello and welcome to the final post in the 2015 A to Z blogging challenge! And of course, our special guest today is the letter 'Z'!

Zeal: fervor for a person, cause, or object; eager desire or endeavour; enthusiastic diligence; ardor.


I think it's pretty obvious that most bloggers who have taken part in this year's challenge have shown a lot of zeal, both in their posts and their comments on other blogs. I couldn't be happier that I 1) decided to join this wonderful challenge and 2) actually managed to complete it! It just goes to show that if you put your mind to something, you can do it :).

I'm keeping this post short and sweet as I'm about to crawl into bed and pray that this lurgy I've managed to pick up goes away before the weekend - we're off to a family wedding, and I'd hate to be sniffling all the way through it!

So, just remember to keep showing zeal in your writing - readers can always tell whether or not you're passionate about what you've written, or if you've just thrown something down on the page. We're always teaching the kids in school to show a passion for their learning, and I think the same can definitely be said for authors too!

Thank you so much to everyone who's visited/followed my blog over the past month - I've had a blast, and I'm looking forward to meeting more of you on the A to Z road trip next month! I'll see you in a couple of days for the A to Z reflections post :).

Until then, happy writing everyone!

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Y is for...Yesterday

Today's blog post is brought to you by the letter 'Y'! WE'RE ALMOST THERE!! Can you believe it?!

I was a little stuck about what to write for my 'Y' topic - I could talk about Young Adult books, perceptions/tropes in YA literature...but I wasn't really feeling it. So today I'm going to try my hand at something new, just for fun.

This is a completely off-the-cuff flash fiction story - I hope you like it, but I did try to write this under a time limit, just to see what would happen:

Yesterday I sat in the sunshine with your fingers in my hair; your lips on my lips; your body close to mine. We sat in that summer sun, dizzy and exhilarated with all that life had to offer, with all the foolishness that only young love can bring. We sat in that glorious weather and we felt untouchable.

Today all I have is a memory. The ghost of your lips caressing my cheek; the imprint of your hand upon my arm, the fading of your smile. Today the wind blows and the rain thunders, and yet, even that cannot drown out the howling in my soul.

Today we learnt that no one, not even fools in love, are untouchable.

Happy Wednesday everyone!

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

X is for...Xander

Tonight's blog post is brought to you by the letter 'X'!

I've mentioned my book a couple of times during this challenge, but today, I thought this letter would be the perfect opportunity to introduce you to one of the characters in my novel - Xander.

I've tried to find a picture that best sums him up, but to be honest, purple haired/eyed men are pretty thin on the ground (thanks for nothing google...) - so these pictures are the best I can come up with:


Xander doesn't have long emo hair though - his hair is actually quite short. Next time I do this challenge/a post on Xander, I'll definitely ask a few of my more arty friends to draw a proper picture of him for you.

Anyway, moving on from the aesthetics, Xander is a pretty cool guy. He's Anais' boyfriend and boy, does he have a lot of running around to do when it comes to her! The thing that I like most about Xander is that he allows Anais to grow and be her own person, without trying to impose his views or beliefs on her. He supports her decisions, even when he doesn't totally agree with them. He's not possessive, he doesn't mind if she wants to do her own thing and they don't declare their love for each other after three days - they both realise that they're young, and they're having fun.

Xander has a pretty sarcastic sense of humour, which is great because Anais is equally as snarky (if not more so). He's loyal almost to a fault, and he has strong opinions on what's right and wrong. In fact, he struggles with the concept of the world not being simply black or white - if it were up to him, every choice would either be right or wrong.

Which brings me onto his role in the second book. To be honest, I've been struggling lately with what to do with Xander. He's such a sweet, caring guy and I love that he's always got Anais' back, but here's the thing...nice guys aren't that interesting to read about. I feel like he needs something 'more' to definite him, other than being Anais' boyfriend who also just happens to be good with computers.

The rest of the Synthetica series is going to be dark. I can feel it in my bones. There's no place in these books for a nice guy who's happy to let someone else take the lead. Xander is going to have to grow as a character, and fast. I already have one major plot planned out for him - at first, it absolutely broke my heart but the idea just wouldn't go away, and now I can't wait to get started and write it. Let's just say that after the next book, Xander's perception of right and wrong is going to shift in a major way ;).

Oh, and I think I'm totally going to use the below picture as my inspiration for Xander's motives in the next book. I love Xander and everything, but like I said, I'm looking forward to pushing him (and me) out of his comfort zone, and exploring his dark side:

Kinda cool, don't cha think ;)?

W is for...words, words, words

Hello everyone, welcome back to the A to Z Blogging Challenge. Apologies if I don't manage to get through as many blogs as normal today, as I've somehow managed to kill the Engineer's Macbook, so I'm on the desktop and it's taking me a while to remember how to use it. Don't worry though, I'll definitely visit more bloggers tomorrow :).

So today's post is all about the wonderful, wacky letter 'W'.

This is probably quite an obvious post, but to be honest, the only thing you need to be a writer is...words.

Sounds simple doesn't it? Whack a few thousand words down and BAM! You've got yourself a novel. Well, if we can ignore the endless revisions and editing that finally makes a novel readable, then yes, that is the essence of it. You can't be an author unless you write, and you can't write without words.

About ninety percent of your words will suck, especially in the few stages of your novel. But that's okay - every single writer feels like their novel is rubbish. But you know what? At least you've started on that wonderful journey to becoming an author - you've finally started to use your words to express that idea in your head, no matter how crazy that story might be.

There is a quote floating around somewhere that says once you've finished your first draft, you've written 80,000 words more than you would have done, had you not started that particular novel i.e. you're a writer who's 80,000 words better than the writer you were before (does that make sense? I feel like it makes sense to me, but sorry if I'm not writing it in the best way!).

I love that idea - every time we write, we're improving as authors - no matter how badly our words look on the page. And that idea gives me a lot of hope :).

How about you? Do you find it easy to just 'get the words down'? Do you think you've become a better author than from when you first started? I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Monday, 27 April 2015

V is for....Villains

Time for take two today for the A to Z Challenge! This post is brought to you by the letter 'V'!

I have a confession to make – I'm one of those people who absolutely loves villains. I love reading about them in books, and watching them in films. Here's a snapshot of some of my favourite villains below:

If a story has a good villain in it, I'm sold.

When done well, I feel like villains can really bring out both the good and bad sides of a protagonist. They're there to challenge them and to force them to make decisions that they wouldn't make under normal circumstances; they push the main characters in ways that may not always be comfortable, but that's integral to the MC's journey. In short, they are imperative to any story.

The only thing that I don't like is flat villains. Villains that spell out their plan to the MC for no good reason, except to inform the reader of said plans. Or villains that are meant to be subtle/a plot twist (e.g. the bad guy being the MC's best friend or something) that are actually completely obvious. Or villains that don't do anything 'villainy' at all, and instead just twirl their moustaches and laugh evilly. To me, the very best villains are the ones that you know are evil/fundamentally flawed, and yet, you end up loving them anyway (Game of Thrones anyone??).

I have so much fun with my villains – to be honest, I love writing them more than my good guys. I love exploring their motivations, and trying to understand why they do the things they do. I love making them a challenge for my MC's to figure out. I love to hate them!...although, quite often, I end up just loving them instead ;).

Do you enjoy writing about villains? Why/why not? What kind of villain do you like best? Who's your favourite villain of all-time?

U is for...Understanding the world

Welcome to today's A to Z blog challenge post! I apologise for being a bit behind – I ran out of time to post on Friday, and then I fell ill over the weekend (which made work today super fun...).

Anyway, let's get started! This post is all about the letter 'U'!

I was going to base this post all around the concept of understanding your characters and their motivations, or understanding what you want to get out of writing etc etc; but then something happened at work that really made me stop and think.

I can't go into too much detail, but it really hit home for me about how not everyone sees the world the same way. Some people look on the bright side and manage to see the positive in everything; others may feel like the whole world is against them for no apparent reason; people can interpret actions and words in a hundred different ways from someone else, depending on what mood they're in. And if you suffer from anxiety or depression (like me), or another mental illness, or maybe perhaps you're somewhere on the autistic spectrum; once again your world view will be so different form the people around you. There's no telling how someone will react to a simple greeting or conversation, or a dream they may have had, or a TV show/film they may have watched – you simply don't know what's going on inside someone's head, no matter how close you may be to them. All you can do is try to be there for them, and be as understanding as you can.

I apologise for this post not being strictly about writing and for it being a bit vague, but I guess if you wanted something 'writerly' to take away from this then make sure the reader can understand, not only your character's world, but also the world inside their heads. Every single person sees the world differently – and if you really want to grab a reader's interest, the same should be true for your characters as well.

What do you think? How do you make all your characters see the world around them? Do you find it difficult to show their motivations and beliefs, without simply telling the reader? Have you ever written about a 'diverse' character e.g. someone with a mental disorder, or someone on the autistic spectrum? Let me know your thoughts!

Happy Monday, everyone!

Thursday, 23 April 2015

T is for...Time

Today's blog post is brought to you by the letter 'T'!

I wanted to get a good chunk of my latest WIP detailed synopsis/outline done this week, but it really hasn't happened. I was planning on coming home straight after school and writing until the Engineer got back from work, but here's what my week actually ended up looking like so far:

Monday: invited over to a friend's house for a cup of tea. Got caught in traffic for an hour on the way home due to an accident. Words written: 0

Tuesday: Got home on time, but had to tidy up house from epic building work that took place at the weekend. Words written: 0

Wednesday: Inset evening at school for an hour. Got caught in traffic again. Went shopping. Made supper, but didn't eat until after 8. Words written: 0

Thursday: Got home on time, but had a phone call from a friend I haven't spoken to in about six months. Words written: 0

It's actually quite depressing when I write it out like that, but there were many things this week that were outside my control (I did pre-plan for the phone call today though, and took my laptop to school, but when I went really anti-social working on it in the staffroom so I put it away again!). I have made a couple of little notes on my phone whenever an idea has occurred to me, but I haven't really been able to sit down and work on my WIP properly.

There are going to be some weeks when you simply can't, for whatever reason, sit down and write, however much you want to. Time will run away from you and before you know it, the whole week has passed in a blur and you're not entirely sure how it happened.

I haven't had the time to write this week. But am I going to let it stop me? No. If anything, it's making me even more determined to use my time wisely while the Engineer is away this weekend, and write as much as I can.

So make time to write, but equally, don't beat yourself up if you can't find the time. That's life. Don't let it get you down, or stop you from writing. Sometimes that's just the way it goes :).

Do you plan time to write? What do you do if you can't find the time to write? Do you try and make up the time?

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

S is for...Synthetica

Today's A to Z blog challenge letter is brought to you by the letter S!

Today I thought I'd share an excerpt from Synthetica with you. If you're new to my blog, Synthetica is my debut YA sci-fi novel. Below is the blurb of the novel, for those of you who are new:

"Seventeen-year-old Anais Finch lives in a world where everyone is born beautiful, where every dream is a possibility - and where their every move and every piece of personal information is recorded by an ID picochip inserted behind their right ear. When technology giant, Civitas, finally announces the launch of their highly anticipated Scholarly Learning Programs, which allow people to download and learn any subject instantly, Anais can hardly wait.

But not everyone is pleased with society's progress, and not everyone wants to fit in. When Anais witnesses a brutal murder on an innocent citizen and is implicated in the crime, she becomes determined to uncover the truth, especially when others like it begin to occur all over the city. But it may already be too late for Anais to stop the man who calls himself 'the Hacker' before he commits his most appalling crime yet."

Today's excerpt comes from one of my favourite parts of the book - the Hacker, not content with the way one of underworld contacts has been doing business, finally decides to show his true colours. I've always felt that this is a kind of turning point in the book; we already know the Hacker is unhinged, based on his past actions, but it's only in this scene that we begin to realise that he'll stop at nothing to get what he wants. What makes him so dangerous if that it doesn't matter if you're on his side or not; if he believes you're standing in his way, it's pretty much the end of the line.

Enjoy the excerpt!

"It was only polite, after all, that one informed someone when their services were no longer required.
So it was completely beyond him why Denzel was on his knees, begging and crying. It didn't evoke any sympathy in him; if anything it simply made him more contemptuous.
Or maybe it had something to do with the knife in his hand. Every time Denzel glanced at it, he burst into renewed sobs.
P-please, just give me a chance, give me a chance. You'll have your money from the deal, I wasn't keeping from you, I swear, I swear. An' I sold six more of those chips today and I told 'em that if they had any friends, to send them my way. Word's getting out – I just need a little more time. Just a bit longer. Please, please...” Denzel seemed inconsolable as he dissolved into tears.
His brow creased as he tried to imagine what was going through this pitiful man's head. And then he decided he didn't particularly care.
Get. Up.”
His voice was soft, but he still saw Denzel flinch at the hoarseness of it, at how wrong it sounded. He was used to people recoiling at his voice. He didn't care so long as they still listened to what he had to say. Denzel gave a loud sniff and forced himself to his feet.
He took a step towards Denzel, and Denzel cowered back.
You can keep the money.”
Denzel looked as though he couldn't believe his ears.
This was never about the money. I have no use for it. Keep it.”
Relief washed over Denzel's face and he began to gush in his relief.
Thank you, thank you, I -”
Why are you thanking me?”
Denzel stopped. His gaze kept flicking back to the knife.
I am running out of time. And patience. You told me you could sell. Each and every one. Of those programs within a week. You have not. Lived up to my expectations. You have failed me.”
Denzel remained silent, stealing terrified glances between the knife and the masked face in front of him.
I have no use for failures.”
He lifted up the knife and Denzel squealed, stumbling backwards and falling onto the floor.
No – no! Please! I can still help you! Those programs – they're amazing, I ain't never seen a copy that good before. They're just like the real thing would be. I can sell them, I swear, I swear!”
He paused.
You really. Think they're. That good?” His voice was still as soft as he could make it.
Denzel nodded furiously.
They're real good. They'd pass any test, honest.” Denzel's voice was almost a squeak in his terror.
He looked down at Denzel grovelling on the floor. He was almost tempted to tell Denzel what his programs actually did – how they were so much more than anything Civitas could ever dream of. But then he decided it would be much more fun to show him.

Denzel,” his hoarse voice was quiet but the cruel, amused undertone was unmistakable. “Would you like me show you exactly how my programs work?”"

Hope you liked it!

If you did, make sure you check out Synthetica on Amazon and Goodreads :). 

Happy Wednesday everyone!

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

R is for...Rejection

Welcome to Tuesday's A to Z Challenge post! Today, we're talking about the letter R (obviously the best letter in the alphabet)!

Rejection is something that comes up a lot in writing. Whether you're submitting to agents, or even just finally opening to your family and friends about why you've been locked away in a darkened room for months on end, rejection is something we writers inherently fear. And with good reason - we pour so much of ourselves into our work that it can be terrifying to think that someone may not love it as much as we do. We can't bear the thought of our novel being rejected, because it feels like a part of ourselves is being rejected at the same time (which isn't true, but you can understand why authors think like that).

I have a confession to make. Do you want to know how many times I submitted Synthetica to agents? I'll tell you. The grand total was...twice.

Yup, you read that right. I submitted it to two agents, and it got rejected both times. Contrary to my advice yesterday about not quitting, I did indeed give up submitting to agents.

But why? I hear you cry. Why did you up give up submitting? Well, here's the thing - when I completed Synthetica, I was in a very dark place emotionally and trust me, receiving 100+ rejections would not have done anything to improve my mental state. I simply couldn't bring myself to do it. That, and I'd kind of already made up my mind to give self-publishing a go.

Here's what both agents said to me when they rejected Synthetica:

I don't know much about standard rejection letters but the second rejection letter, strangely, gave me hope. Perhaps if I'd taken my own advice and kept persevering, I would've landed an agent in the end.

But you know what? I'm happy with my decision to give indie publishing a go. It's hard work, but I wouldn't have meet all the wonderful people I have if I'd simply gone down the traditional publishing route. I still hope to be a traditionally published author one day, but for now, I'm having a blast being an indie author. And if my voyage into indie publishing fails miserably, I know I can always start submitting to agents again.

So don't worry if your work is rejected numerous times - just remember J.K. Rowling and the rejections she faced. And if you're really not getting anywhere by submitting to agents, remember that indie publishing is a completely viable (and highly recommended!) option too :).

Have you ever been rejected by an agent? How did you deal with it? How do you deal with other types of rejection in your writing?

Monday, 20 April 2015

Q is for...Quitting

Welcome back to the A to Z Blogging Challenge! I hope you all had a lovely weekend break :)

I'm choosing to talk about something today that I think a lot of writers can relate to - quitting.

There comes a time, whether you've just started outlining a new project, or you're knee deep in revisions for your novel or (and this is where I tend to quit) when you're halfway through your first draft, and you'll simply want to give up. Problems with characters start to become more apparent, you end up hating your MC, you'll have plots and subplots that are so messed up that you don't even know how to untangle them and you'll just want to throw in the towel. I've talked about something similar before in this challenge, and it's not my intention to keep repeating myself - but I can't stress enough how much you shouldn't give up.

So instead, today I'm going to cheer you on. Writing a novel takes time - I constantly have to remind myself that writing is a marathon, not a sprint. I'm the type of person that if I want something done, I'll have wanted it done yesterday (which is why I'm stressing out about the house renovations at the minute - WHY CAN'T IT BE DONE ALREADY?!). But it takes time, and patience and dedication to keep writing.

You can do this. Tomorrow, I'll be talking more about another reason why writers might choose to quit - rejection - but for now, I just want you to remember that every writer, even bestselling authors, go through phases of wanting to quit. But they don't. They keep going. And so should you. If you ever need any support, or a personal cheerleader, you know where I am. Failing that, I can't stress enough how much the Insecure Writer's Support Group helped me to write my book - in fact, I've even credited them in my book's acknowledgements.

So I'm just going to leave you with some quotes I've found helpful to remember whenever I'm in the depths of despair about my own writing. Hopefully this will motivate you into having an awesome writing week! Happy Monday, everyone!

*Special thanks go to Rachel Schieffelbein at Writing on the Wall for the first two quotes!

Sunday, 19 April 2015

P is for...Profanity

Today's A to Z Challenge post is brought to you by the letter P!

YA books can come with a lot of controversies: sex, drugs, violence, murder, war, death...and swearing.

A lot of people don't mind profanity in YA books - it can make them seem more realistic, it can add to a particular scene and it can show you certain parts of a character's personality. However, a lot of readers also don't like swearing in YA books - it can seem ugly and unnecessary, it might not fit with the setting (i.e. are we going to have the same swear words in the future that we do now?) and it might lead younger readers into bad habits.

While I can see both sides of the argument, personally, I don't mind swearing in YA books. Just like some will drink underage and have sex, most teenagers do swear - I know I did. It's their choice. It really pulls me out of a story when I'm reading an emotionally charged scene, and one of the characters suddenly says, 'what the fudge?', or 'I frigging hate you.' I really really dislike it. But that's just my opinion, and I respect anyone who doesn't wish to see bad language in the books they read - again, it's their choice.

I use the same principle in my own writing. My characters swear - not all the time, just whenever they're angry or frustrated - much like I do in real life. I know many readers won't like this aspect of my books, and that's fine, but I'm simply trying to keep it realistic. When I use swearing in my novels, I'm using it for a reason. I choose all my words with care - whether I'm describing a scene, or two characters are having an argument - I'll choose words appropriate to that setting, whether that includes swearing or not.

I might be alienating readers by including swearing in my work, but to be honest, that's just the writer I am. I'm not doing it to deliberately shock, or to be different - I do it because it fits that particular story. I won't add in any profanity if I don't think it'll add anything to a scene or to a character's personality, but equally, I won't shy away from it either.

How about you? What do you think about profanity in YA books? Do you agree/disagree with it? I'm looking forward to hearing your thoughts!

O is for...Originality

Welcome back to my bumper Sunday of A to Z Challenge posts! I missed a couple during the week, so I'm catching up on everything Challenge related now :).

Despite the post name, this probably isn't the most original topic to talk about but I thought I'd throw in my two cents anyway.

Originality is a big issue for authors - or at least, it should be. If you're the kind of writer who's happy to rip off another author's work and claim it as your own then you're not going to last very long in this business, I'm afraid.

Humans have been speaking and writing stories for thousands of years. So it's no surprise that there's very few stories out there that can be said to be truly 'original'. Every author will pick up bits and pieces from other novels that they've read, or films they've seen, or even music that they like to listen to. Undoubtedly, these ideas are going to seep in their writing somehow or other, and that's okay - that's what inspiration is all about.

Writing isn't about stealing other people's ideas - it's about gathering together ideas you've seen/heard and putting them altogether in your own unique way. Sometimes authors are going to slip up (case point: The Hunger Games Mahogany Incident), but in general, readers aren't going to care if you use a well known phrase or situation ( a man running to the airport to stop his true love from leaving? A villain saying 'there's nothing you can do to stop me'? A chosen one who's destined to save the world? You know what I'm talking about...), so long as the bulk of your story is your own. There are a million different ways that you can put your ideas together - really, there's no reason why your story should copy anyone else's.

So don't be discouraged if you want to write a story about a girl who moves to a small town, falls in love with a vampire and eventually becomes a vampire herself - yes, it's been done, but the important thing is that you put your own spin on it, and make it your own. Don't let anyone tell you what you can or can't write - just make sure you're not following someone else's story too closely ;).

How about you? Do you think any story can be truly original?

N is for...Normality

Welcome back to the A to Z blogging challenge! Apologies for my silence over the past couple of days - I've been trying to get back into the swing of work, while juggling getting the renovations sorted on the house. We're getting there - slowly!

So today's post is all about the letter N!

As I've just mentioned, I've been kept busy this week with work, and with trying to get quotes off builders/decorators for the house. I did try to keep up with the Challenge earlier in the week, but something had to give - and it ended up being my writing.

Since deciding to take my writing seriously, I've gradually learnt that there's no such thing as a 'normal' day. Sure, a routine does massively help me to organise my thoughts and shows me what I 'should' be doing - but here's the thing, a little something called life quite often gets in the way. My to-do list (wether writing related or not) quite often gets longer rather than shorter.

As someone who likes being organised and often shows up 10 minutes early to appointments so there's no way I'll miss it, I don't often cope very well if my writing schedule, or normal everyday routine, is interrupted. But that's just something that we've all got to deal with sometimes.

It's okay if you don't get everything done that you wanted to in a day. Don't stress or beat yourself up over it if you can't find the time to write during the week. Just do what you can, but remember - there's no such thing as a 'normal' time to write - when you write, and how much you can fit in, is up to you. And don't forget, we all need to time to relax as well - so make sure you make time for yourself. Don't make writing a chore or something that needs to be done. You'll have far more fun that way :).

How about you? Do you have a 'normal' routine for writing? What do you do if you can't find the time to write?

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

M is for...Making a Mess

Today's blog post is all about the marvellous letter 'M'!

Somedays (actually, most days if I'm completely honest) when I'm writing, I get stuck on a plot point,  or my character suddenly won't do what I want them to do, or I can't think how I want a scene to go, despite having a rough synopsis in front of me.

I know most people would encourage you to power on through, and that's fine, and I completely agree that you should never abandon a WIP just because of a tricky situation. However, sometimes when you're stuck for ideas, it can help to step back for a moment and do something completely different.

I think I've already mentioned that I like to bake to celebrate finishing a draft, but I also love baking as a way to distract myself when the words simply won't come. There's something about clearing your mind and focusing on something completely different that makes the creative juices start flowing again (most of the time...). It's generally when I can't physically write my ideas down, either because I'm elbows deep in dough, or I happen to be driving along a motorway, that I'll have that flash of inspiration that solves whatever writing dilemma I've managed to get myself into.

If I don't want to mess up my kitchen (unlikely), I might go for walk, read, watch a film, or start another creative project (i.e. wedding planning and choosing how to redecorate the house) - anything to take my mind off my writing for a little while. It might take an hour, a day or a week, but eventually, I'll get there in the end.

So if you are stuck for what to do next, or your WIP isn't going the way you want it to, try making your own 'mess' - the messier you get, the more likely you'll solve whatever problem that's been bugging you ;).

How about you? What do you do when you're stuck in your writing?

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

L is for...Love

Today's A to Z Challenge post is focusing on the letter L!

I suck at writing romances. I don't know what it is, but I find it incredibly awkward to write romantic scenes, or even hint at romance between characters. Even if the characters are just sharing a glance, rather than a steamy kiss, I still get embarrassed. And although I don't mind reading about romance, I find writing it a whole different kettle of fish.

Perhaps it's because in some YA, romances tend to get overblown into 'love at first sight', where every glance makes the MC 'shiver' or 'tingle' and heaven forbid they actually touch, or they might just both explode (which would be unfortunate, but quite an original story I think...). I'm happy to try and squeeze every bit of drama out of almost any situation, and yet, romantic relationships doesn't seem to be one of them. I get all awkward and shy because I'm so scared that the reader won't buy into my character's relationship.

But how do you go about changing this? At some point, I might want to write a story where the romance, not the sci-fi or explosions, takes centre stage. How can I expect readers to buy my character's relationship, if I don't even feel comfortable writing it? If my writing is stilted and awkward, the odds are, the character's 'love' for each other will come across like that too.

In all honesty, I still don't have an answer to this question. But I don't mind not knowing how to write realistic romances for the minute, because it's always something I can always find out and it's something that I'm happy to keep improving on. I have an idea for the sequel to Synthetica which will redefine several major romantic relationships, and I simply cannot wait to write it. Perhaps that's what I've been lacking in my other attempts at writing romance - being in love with my characters' love ;)!

So how about you? How do you write your character's romances? Do you find it easy or hard? Do you have any tips for writers like me, that find it difficult to write about love?? I can't wait to hear your thoughts :)!

Monday, 13 April 2015

K is for...Kindness

I have a confession to make - this post as been thrown together today as I forgot to schedule one in, and I've been run off my feet all day at work/meeting with builders/decorators, as well as trying to get the house straight from my two week absence (though the Engineer has done a very good job, I have to say!).

This is just going to be a very short post, and it doesn't really have a whole lot to do with writing, but I'd like to share my thoughts with you anyway.

I don't really have a lot of friends at work. In fact, since my two friends I made last year left, I haven't actually grown close enough to anyone to feel comfortable asking them to hang out. I find it incredibly difficult to put myself out there and make friends. But today, one girl that I chat to at break -times gave me her mobile number so we can meet up sometime - I meant to get it before the holidays, and I mentioned it in passing today (not expecting her to give it to me), but she gave it to me straight away. And another woman said how much she liked my coat just as I was leaving (SEE, YELLOW COATS ARE AWESOME!!). So that's a compliment and a phone number all in one day - I know, I know, I should probably go and have a lie-down to take it all in ;).

But in all seriousness, small acts of kindness do go a long way. It wasn't that long ago that I was in tears most nights because I felt so lonely at work - don't get me wrong, everyone I work with is lovely, it's just that I find it difficult to talk to anyone. I find it hard to make the first move, so I generally just keep to my own company, despite the fact that on the inside I'd love nothing more than to make new friends. So, for this to happen is actually a huge step forward for me.

So, please, just bear in mind that however small your actions, they could have a huge impact on someone else. Whether it's opening a door for someone, complimenting someone's hair or clothes (or their writing!!), or just taking the time to have a small chat with someone you wouldn't normally talk to - all of these small acts of kindness add up to something much bigger :). You never know - you might just be saving someone from themselves.

Happy Monday, everyone :)

Saturday, 11 April 2015

J is for...Jackknifed

Today's post is on the letter J - my, aren't we just speeding through the alphabet!

I've already talked about celebrating your writing, and that it's okay to think your writing is - dare I say it - actually good, but what about those days when you feel like you've jackknifed? You're driving your articulated lorry of a novel quite nicely down an empty motorway, when BAM! You hit a snag in the plot, or a character suddenly won't do whatever it is you're asking of them, or you crash head-on into that nasty vehicle known as 'writer's block'; and suddenly you're going round in circles, doubling back on yourself and twisting yourself up into a nasty metal knot.

What do you do??

I'll tell you.



It's okay. Every writer goes through this - constantly. It's part of the job description. I'd be very suspicious of any writer who didn't go through some kind of emotional turmoil at some point or other while writing their novel. It's just part of the creative process and it's a good thing. It shows that you care enough about your novel to have these kinds of doubts and fears. What's not so good is when you allow these problems to overwhelm you, and maybe ultimately abandon a perfectly good piece of writing.

What's important is that you take a step back and breathe for a moment. Go and make some tea. Or bake/eat cake. Go for a walk and clear your head. Take a bath and/or a hot shower. And when you feel ready, come back and observe your 'car crash' with a new, critical eye. Chances are, it's nowhere near as bad as you feared.

Look - what's this? Under that car door? That scene that that was causing you so much grief could be moved towards the end of the novel, so it flows better with the overall plot. What if you removed that chapter that was having you in fits of despair? Or what if you simply edited it and removed the pretty, but ultimately pointless, bits of prose? With a couple of licks of paint and tweaking some dialogue, that character that was misbehaving might now be ready to do the job you put them there for. Or maybe you're having issues with the actual engine of your novel? Try looking over your notes or (if you're a planner like me) your detailed synopsis and seeing if there are any nuts and bolts that can be tightened, or any characters/scenes that might need an extra bit of grease and oil to get them going again.

Okay, so this post is a tad lighthearted, but you get the picture. No novel is beyond saving. If you're well and truly stuck, there are countless books and blogs and websites out there (the IWSG website for one!) that can help you overcome writer's block, or teach you how to jazz up your characters. My point is - don't give up. If you still have that passion and fire for your novel, keep going - it gets easier, I promise.

Friday, 10 April 2015

I is for...Inspiration

Happy Friday, everyone!

Today's blog post is focusing on the letter I. I know that quite a lot of people will probably have chosen 'Inspiration' for their theme today, but I thought I'd chip in anyway ;).

There are masses of blog posts and books out there which can tell you how to find inspiration for story ideas, and how to channel that inspiration into your writing. But instead of repeating their messages, I thought I'd share with you some of things that provide me with inspiration for my own work.

Firstly, and most obviously, is music. I've written before about how music helped to shape my novel, Synthetica, but I mainly use music to discover new novel/plot ideas. I love going out for a walk, plugging in my headphones, and letting my thoughts wander. Quite often while I'm listening to a certain song, an idea will form in my mind and I'll have to either try to remember it, or quickly finish my walk and run home to jot it down. Strong song lyrics can be particularly effective in sparking ideas - quite often, I'll write song lyrics that jump out at me in my WIP notes, and I can look back at them whenever I'm stuck on a particular chapter or scene. These lyrics quite often embody the feeling or emotion that I'm trying to get across in my writing, and sometimes I just need that little reminder of the direction I'm trying to go in.

My next big source of inspiration is films. I love watching films. I love going out to the cinema and making a big deal of seeing a new release. But the weird thing is, quite often while watching the film, I'll be inspired to write my own novel. A certain scene in How to train your dragon 2 lead me to outline a possible new fantasy series. Insurgent helped to me work out a character's background, despite the fact that I wasn't actively thinking about the character at the time, and my character's background doesn't resemble any of those in the film. It was only after I finished Synthetica that I realised that it had been heavily influenced by The Dark Knight. And while we're on the subject, American Horror Story, lead me to outline a possible collection of my own ghost stories - even though the stories and characters are completely different to what I was watching on screen. I may never get round to writing these stories or novel ideas, but it's useful to jot down any ideas just in case.

And of course, books can influence me too. Although, now that I really think about it, I don't think they influence me any more than music or films do - in fact, I think they have less of an impact on my inspiration, and have more of an impact on my actual writing. And reading a wide range of books is not only a fun way to pass the time, it's helped to improve my writing beyond measure.

It's only looking back now that I can appreciate how much music and films have shaped my writing over the years - my favourite bands and scenes from my favourite films have definitely influenced certain scenes and passages in my work, as well as influencing the overall feeling of my writing.

So how about you? Where do you find inspiration from? Do you get inspiration from any strange, or unusual sources? I'd love to hear your ideas :)!

Thursday, 9 April 2015

H is for...Harry Potter Syndrome

Welcome back! Today's A to Z blog challenge post is all about the letter H!

We've all heard the story. J.K Rowling struggled to get Harry Potter published, being rejected by a dozen publishers before Bloomsbury decided to take a gamble on it. And the rest, as they say, is history. (Although now that I've read through this article, providing the timelines are indeed correct, it doesn't seem to me like it took that long for HP to get published at all - not when I've heard about authors struggling for years and years to get their work recognised).

Anyway, ever since this phenomenon occurred, we're all well aware that publishers continue to try and replicate that success - pushing new releases in reader's face, telling the press that title X is the 'next big thing', or that book Y is 'going to be as big as Harry Potter.' But what about authors? Are they just as guilty of this? Do authors, especially first time authors, have this unrealistic expectation of themselves and their work? Do they just expect to write the one book, sit back and watch the money roll in?

I'm as guilty as anyone when it comes to daydreaming about my books hitting the big time, rolling in the cash, getting a film deal, getting to be a producer on said films and generally just being successful as a writer.

But here's the thing. Realistically, that isn't going to happen. I know that. As much as I'd love it to, for now, I'll be so so happy if only one person reads my book and then leaves me a decent review. That's literally my only goal right now. For now, my dreams of rolling with the big YA authors and attending my own movie premiere will have to wait - and that's okay. It's not admitting defeat, or saying it's never going to happen - it might, but equally, I might win the lottery tomorrow and never have to work again. It's down to chance/fate/luck or whatever you want to call it, and hard work.

Because that's the crucial bit - writing is hard work. Promoting and getting readers to read your book is hard work (especially for indie authors). But here's the other thing - success only comes from hard work. If you're prepared to keep writing, and keep going, then eventually, you'll get to where you want to be. You may very well be that person who gets that movie deal based on your first book - and if you are, congratulations! That's fantastic! Let me know how you did it ;)! But to all first time authors out there - and I'm including myself in this, as a constant reminder to myself - don't fall into the trap of suffering from 'Harry Potter Syndrome' - don't forget that even J.K. Rowling had to suffer from setbacks before all her hard work paid off. Don't be disappointed if your first book isn't a success. Keep writing. Release another book. Write some more. Repeat. If you're determined to succeed, you'll get there in the end.

I'm going to keep working as hard as I can as a writer, and at the end of the day, that's all I can do - make each and every one of my books as good as they can possibly be.

And I'll save those big daydreams for the times when I switch off at work ;).

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

G is for...Game Changers

Today's A to Z blog post is all about the glamourous letter G!

Cliffhanger: dramatic and exciting ending to an episode of a serial, leaving the audience in suspense and anxious not to miss the next episode...a story or event with a strong element of suspense.

Game changer: an event, idea, or procedure that effects a significant shift in the current way of doing or thinking about something.

I read this blog post by Ally Carter a while back, about game changers and cliffhangers in novels, and I really wanted the opportunity to share it with you today. There isn't really a lot more I can say that Ally Carter hasn't said already, but I thought I'd share my thoughts with you all anyway.

Quite often in YA literature, books seem to end on either a cliff hanger or a game changer - especially the first book in a series. And this is fine - otherwise, why would the reader want to keep reading? They are necessary plot devices to keep the reader eager to know more.

Personally, I prefer game changers to cliffhangers. With a cliffhanger, the action stops in mid-flight, which often makes me wonder if the author meant to leave it there, or if I'm missing the last few pages of a book. It jars - the ending often feels inadequate and somewhat rushed, as though the author couldn't think of a satisfactory ending. When done right, however, cliffhangers can indeed leave me wanting to read the next book right now.

But with game changers, the author has much more scope and time to develop the ending of a novel. The reader has some form of closure, but they're still willing to read the rest of the series, because they want to know how the story will eventually end. 

With Synthetica, I could've quite easily have ended the book a few chapters earlier, when Anais gets caught up in 'certain events' (sorry - trying not to reveal any spoilers!) - it would leave the reader wondering if she's alive, if Xander and her parents are alive and what the Hacker is up to next.

But I decided against it. To me, the ending is so much stronger because we get to see the aftermath of these events, and the consequences of both the Hacker's and Anais' actions. And because of these consequences, the reader will hopefully want to read on with the rest of the series to see how the story pans out.

In the end, it's up to you whether you choose to use a cliffhanger or a game changer in your novel - both have their own advantages and disadvantages. It's down to your judgement as whether your novel will benefit from having one or the other...or maybe even both! How's that for a game changer?!

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

F is for...Futurama

Today's post is brought to you by...the letter F!

I love Futurama. Growing up, I used to be a big fan of the Simpsons, but Futurama has so much more scope to be wacky and weird and irrelevant, which is why I love it so much.

But there is a reason why I'm making it the focus of my blog post today (though, do I really need a reason to talk about it?) - there are two specific episodes of the show that I cannot watch. If they come on, I instantly change the channel. Why? Because they make me cry.

I know, I know - it sounds stupid. Crying over a cartoon? Really?? Am I four, or twenty four?

But let me explain. These two particular episodes both feature significant parts of Fry's backstory, and that, I think, is key here. The first episode is called Jurassic Bark, from the fourth season of the show. The second is entitled Game of Tones*, from season seven. In 'Jurassic Bark', Fry wants to clone his old dog, Seymour, from a fossil but later has a change of heart as he believes Seymour lived a long and happy life without him (we later find out that Seymour waited for Fry to come home for years, and he never had another owner - seriously, I'm welling up just writing this). In 'Game of Tones', Fry must enter into a dream in order to find out where a mysterious noise is coming from - in his dream he gets to see his family, although there is not enough time for him to say everything he wants to say to his mother (he later gets the opportunity to enter into his mother's dream and be with her one last time).

It's probably not surprising that I cry at the dog episode - anything to do with dogs or animals dying, or if we're shown their unquestionable loyalty - I turn into a wreck. But why did the episode with his mother affect me so much too?

It's because the scriptwriters did a fantastic job. They made me truly believe in Fry's story, and his background. They made me feel what he was feeling - if he felt sad and dejected, so did I. When he saw his mother again and got to talk to her one last time, I felt a sense of closure too. I felt his connection to his dog, and rooted for them both to pull through. Yes, they used flashbacks in both episodes (and I'd be very VERY wary of using flashbacks in my own writing) - but they were used sparingly, and only because there was genuinely no other way to get the information across to the reader.

And as writers, getting readers to care for our characters is critical. It's only by getting our readers to engage with our characters, that our story can truly become alive. I know Futurama isn't real, and never could be - and yet, just like any good novel, the characters feel real to me. I could go on and on about all the different personalities that make up their weird little friendship group and why it still works, talk about the world building, the romance between Fry and Leela etc, but I'm not going to.

Instead, I'd just like to pinpoint just one idea - make me care about your characters, and I'll care enough about your book to keep reading.

Happy Tuesday, everyone!

Monday, 6 April 2015

E is for...Exceeds Expectations

Welcome back to the A-Z blogging challenge 2015! Hope you all had a lovely day off yesterday :).

Today's post is all about the letter E...

There are a lot of nice words that begins with the letter E. Excellent, exceptional, exemplary, exquisite, egotistical...oh wait.

As a writer, I don't think I've ever written something and then thought 'OMG, this chapter I've just written is EXQUISITE!' Hahahaha, no. It doesn't happen like that. At least, not for me.

But I'm here to tell you a writer (and in everyday life, now that I think about it), I'm generally extremely self-conscious, have very little confidence, and I can be a nervous wreck. There are so many things that I agonise over when I'm writing - am I getting this character's description right? Am I telling rather than showing the reader this important piece of information? Is this character relatable? Is my villain actually a villain, or just a cartoon character with a twirly moustache? Will anyone actually read AND LIKE what I've written??

But here's the thing. You don't have to hate everything you've written.

Sometimes you're going to have days when you want to cry and chuck your computer/notepad in the bin. And other days, you're going to write something and think, 'y'know what? This isn't so bad. I can work with this.' And that's great! So often in life we're forced into thinking that we don't deserve X,Y & Z. We don't deserve to feel good about ourselves (why else would the gym/dieting industry be booming?). But you know what? Quite often, that's just a load of bull.

Suffering from extreme anxiety means I quite often hate what I've written. Or I like it for a while, but then I manage to convince myself it's actually terrible and I have no business being a writer. But that's just my own personal demon that I have to face. I face it everyday, and everyday I keep writing. I keep trying to improve on what I've written. I keep practicing and I keep going. And maybe, just maybe, at the end of the day I'll be able to sit back and think, 'this doesn't totally suck.'

So, what I'm trying to say is - it's okay to love your writing. Hell, if you didn't love and believe in you're writing, I very much doubt you'd be writing a novel or whatever in the first place. It's that belief, and that love for your world and your characters, that keeps you going. If you believe in what you're doing, your readers will too.

So the next time you write something that surprises you, or you manage to exceed your own expectations - go with it. Don't beat yourself up about it. Don't think you're a fake, or a sham. You're not. You're a writer - and you, more than anyone, need to believe in your own words.

Saturday, 4 April 2015

D is for...Deadlines

Today's post is brought to you by...the letter D!

I have always loved deadlines. Yeah, I know, I'm weird like that.

At school, I was the kind of girl who handed in her work BEFORE the deadline, and then enjoyed the feeling of having nothing to do, while others in the class were up until midnight trying to get it done (or not done in some cases). This continued throughout uni, although I'll admit that I did sometimes leave it to the day before to hand things in, instead of being strangely organised and handing it all in a week before. So yeah, I guess I've always been a fairly organised person (unless it's not work related, then I'm the most disorganised person ever).

It wasn't until I realised this, and began to apply deadlines to my own writing, that I actually began to get anything done. I'm still not very good at self-imposed deadlines, because I know they can be moved (i.e. when I haven't bothered to do the work) - but now I get my friends or The Engineer to make up my deadlines for me. The reason I published Synthetica on the 1st April is because I got the Engineer to choose the publishing date for me - if he hadn't chosen it, it would probably still be languishing on my laptop, nowhere near ready for publication. He's also the one who set me the task of writing the first draft of my novel in three weeks. It was painful at times - there were times when I could've cried because I thought it was never going to end - but I did it.

I think with self-publishing especially, deadlines have a special kind of importance. Because you're working at your own pace, sometimes you have to challenge yourself to get certain tasks done by a particular deadline. When you self-publish, the only one responsible for managing your time correctly is you.

But don't take this to mean that you have to set yourself ridiculous deadlines all the time. Only you can know what kind of pace you're capable or comfortable working at; whether that's writing an entire novel in a week, finally finishing that stubborn chapter you've been working on for months, or even just throwing down some ideas for your next book - it's up to you.

I am definitely a deadline person - some people are, and some people aren't, and that's okay. All you have to figure out is what works best for you and your writing.

So how about you? Do you like setting deadlines while you're writing? Why/why not?

Friday, 3 April 2015

C is for...Celebration!

Today's A-Z blog post is brought to you by the letter C!

When you're in the midst of writing your first, or tenth, or even fiftieth book, it can be so easy to get worn down by the whole process. You're slogging away day after day on one particular chapter or scene, nothing you write seems to be going right, your characters simply refuse to do what you're telling them to do...all you want to do is either crawl under the duvet and cry, or scrap the whole thing and take up falconry as a hobby instead.

It can be easy to get overwhelmed by the negatives when writing a novel, but it's so important to focus on the positives, or you'll never make it to the end.

So, I say, make sure you take the time to celebrate your successes, no matter how big or small.

First of all, you've started writing a novel. How many people have you heard say 'oh, I'd like to write a novel one day,' only for them to never get round to it? Well, congratulations! You've already overcome that particular hurdle!

When you finally manage to untangle that beast of a plot, or you have a brainwave about how to finally get that character out of that sticky situation, make sure you celebrate that achievement - because it is an achievement. Every day, you're working hard to make your novel better, and every day you're moving a little bit closer to that first draft becoming an actual, real-life novel.

When you reach the end of a chapter, or a scene, make sure you celebrate. When you realise that, for the first time, your novel actually makes sense time-wise, celebrate.

And, most importantly, when you finish a draft of your novel - any draft, from the first to the final version - celebrate.

I'm not talking about hiring a brass band and throwing a glitzy party every time (I'm pretty sure you're writing to try and make money, not burn it) - you can celebrate however you like. Take a relaxing bath, treat yourself to a new pair of shoes or a new book, organise a day out with your friends (because no doubt they're wondering whether or not you're still alive after you've been sucked into that black hole of writing your novel), catch up with family, go for a walk - however you want to treat yourself to, do it!

Me? I bake. Whenever I need to get away from my manuscript, or whenever I finish a draft, I set myself a baking challenge. This is the cake I made after I finished the first draft of Synthetica:

In hindsight, it was a very big cake. And it took me the best part of four hours to make. But, hey, that's just how I like to celebrate!

So how about you? Do you celebrate your successes while writing? If so, how?

Thursday, 2 April 2015

B is for...Back to Basics

Welcome to day two of the A - Z Blogging Challenge!

Today's post is brought to you by the letter B ;)

I think it's easy to get caught up when writing your book in what I would call 'the big things', e.g. plot, character arcs, character motivations, timeline, formatting, fonts, book cover....I could go on.

But all that work won't mean anything if you don't get the very basics right.

And by basics I mean spelling, grammar and punctuation.

There still seems to be a horrible misconception surrounding indie publishing; most people seem to assume that any book that's self-published is generally going to be full of spelling mistakes and other errors. In the beginning, they may have been right, but over the past few years, indie authors have really upped their game. Indie publishing is no longer thought of as a new form of vanity press, or a quick way to make money. It can (and should) be a serious career for authors.

Which is why authors should treat their self-published books no differently to a book that's been traditionally published. Readers are still going to read your book. Reviewers are still going to review it. Self publishing is no excuse for sloppy writing.

I'm not saying that if you're spelling and grammar is perfect, you'll immediately sell thousands of copies, but it will help. People who read your book will be able to see how much care and attention you've put into it, and will be more likely to buy your other books (providing, y'know, they liked the premise of your first book).

I know how difficult it is to catch every single spelling and grammar mistake. No matter how many times you, or your beta readers, comb through your manuscript, there's bound to be one or two that you miss. And that's acceptable, so long as the rest of your work isn't littered with mistakes. It can really grate on the reader and pull them out of the story if they're constantly having to stop and think about what you're trying to say. I read a book recently that repeated sentences further down the page on at least two separate occasions, if not more. I can honestly say I probably won't read one of their books again - not just because of the repeated sentences, but because of silly spelling mistakes and other errors which constantly grated on me. And this was by a traditionally published author, who had decided to self-publish this particular book.

So, make sure you read through your work for any little mistakes. And then reread it. And then reread it again. And then get someone else to check it for you.

At the very least, there's no excuse nowadays not to use spellcheck!

How about you? Have you ever noticed any mistakes in books that simply shouldn't have happened?

Hvae a grate dai evry1 ;)!

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Happy Synthetica Release Day!!


I still can't believe it! Synthetica goes on sale on Amazon today!! Ahh!!

As you can tell from my IWSG post, I'm still freaking out about this - I've been in a constant state of nervousness since about 7pm last night and I don't think it's doing my heart or mind any good.

So today I've decided to get out of the house. If I stay in, I know I'm just going to drive myself crazy, refreshing my Amazon dashboard every 5 minutes, crying when everyone in the whole world doesn't immediately buy a copy*, and generally driving myself insane. I've made plans with one of my best friends to go out for afternoon tea to celebrate Synthetica's release and I can't wait - not just because I'm celebrating the release of my first book, but also because I haven't seen her since Christmas and I'm looking forward to having a proper girly catch-up.

So, I'm off now; I'm going to go and walk the dog, read, catch up on wedding stuff, get ready for my afternoon out, and generally try not to freak out anymore than I already am. I'll be back later to check out all the awesome A to Z Blog Challenge posts, but until then...have a great day, folks!

Oh, and if you DO fancy checking it out, you can find my book on Amazon, or on Goodreads :). Happy Wednesday!

*But at least I can console myself in the fact that my mum has promised to buy a copy, even if no one else does ;)

A is for...Algorithm

Welcome to the A - Z Blogging Challenge 2015!

The idea of this blogging challenge is that you post every day (except Sundays) throughout April, with each day's post being linked to the corresponding letter of the alphabet. So today's letter is A, tomorrow's will be B, Friday's will be C and so on.

Just a fair word of warning - my blog posts are primarily going to be on writing/self publishing/cake.

So let's get down to it!

A is for...Algorithm

Algorithm: a set of rules for solving a problem in a finite number of steps, as for finding the greatest common divisor.

Since I'm a YA sci-fi writer, I thought I'd geek out a little with this post ;) - originally I was going to do a blog centred around my book's main character, Anais, but then I decided this would be more fun (after all, who doesn't like the word 'algorithm'...?). 

When I first started writing, I thought that there was a magic formula that would miraculously make me write my book in a day (or, even better, one that would write it for me). I thought that if I followed certain steps, or used certain themes in my writing, I'd been sure to bang out the bestsellers in no time at all.

Except, it turns out that there is no magic algorithm or potion that will help you write better, or write more books. At the end of the day, the only person who can do that is...well, you.

Writing a book takes time, hard work and dedication. I know, I know - not exactly the three most inspiring words ever, but it's true. My book, Synthetica, was only born out of my determination to actually finish a book I was writing, and having a burning desire to write Anais' story. 

I will admit, however, that there is one crucial different between me writing this book, and my countless other failed attempts - I bought a book on how to write. It's called 'How to Nail Your Novel' by Roz Morris, and I can honestly say that it turned my process of writing upside down. I probably wouldn't have even finished Synthetica, if I hadn't read that book.

BUT...even with all it's hints and tips, I still didn't end up following the book to the letter. I had to figure out which parts worked for me and which didn't. I adapted some of the processes, and completely threw out others. And some bits of advice I followed to the letter. I still had to figure out what worked best for me and my book.

There is no magical formula to help you write a book (though I find tea x cake x music = a Rachel who's more inclined to write). At the end of the day, it's up to YOU to figure out for your own algorithm to help you write. Whether it's a combination of tea and silence, or writing in a group, or writing at certain times of the day, or only using a certain notebook/pen - it's completely up to you! So go forth, and discover your own writing 'algorithms'!*

So what about you? Do you have any rituals or habits that make it easier for you to write, or keep writing?

Let me know :)!

*Okay okay, fine, I'll stop saying it now....ALGORITHMS!...okay, now I'm done.