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How to self-publish: Active v Passive Voice 

This used to confuse me until I sat down and worked it out. The one thing I found the hardest was why we, as writers are being dictated to as to the best way to write. But it makes such a difference. Just look at these two sentences and the position of the subject in relation to the verb. 

I’m not going to get into the nitty gritty about verbs and subjects. Let’s just say that if the subject acts on the verb it’s active as in Jane singing. 

And the most important of all? 

WHY?

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How to Self Publish: Part Two – Editing (redundant words)

Editing
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‘Substitute damn every time you’re inclined to write very…’ Mark Twain

‘I spent all morning taking out a comma and all afternoon putting it back.’ Oscar Wilde

Editing

Editing is a veritable minefield. a foreign land to writers but one they have to negotiate all the same. Whether you’re thinking of Traditional or Indie as a route for presenting your work to the reader (You, potential agents, future fans) the following applies. As it’s such a large area i’m going to break this section down. I’ll start with redundant words.

What are redundant (or over-used) words?

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Words that may not be necessary to your work and, in fact, words that might hinder the reader’s enjoyment.

Look at these two sentences. they’re nearly the same but which is smoother?

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This list isn’t exhaustive and will change from writer to writer. Know your own personal word demons by taking time to notice which words you repeat. There are programmes that can help you but even by just reading aloud you’ll be able to pick up some of them.

Next time: Passive voice

 

How to self-publish. Series links

Episode one: Writing tips and tricks

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How to self publish: Episode One

New year.

No New Year resolutions but a plan to blog more. It won’t last but while it does here goes…

How to self publish.

It’s never been both easier and harder to be an Indie. Let’s get cracking…


 

Episode One

  1. Write a book. Okay, I make that sound easy but, in truth, it’s not that difficult. There are a raft or people, groups of people, books and courses both online and face-to-face eager to help. The most important thing here is you producing the best words you can.

Whilst these blog posts are all going to be about self-publishing I’m going to start by kicking it off with some tips and tricks on writing. These are strategies I use in my own books. Tricks and tips I’ve learnt along the way from all over the place. No matter what book you read, or which famous best-selling writer you listen to, the same fact has proven true time after time. The best books break the rules but there are some givens. I’ll start with the best piece of advice ever.

Key Tip (1) Start late, leave early.

I don’t know where I heard this first. I’ve heard it many times. Start your book, your chapter in the middle of something. Draw your reader in so they forget everything. Nothing should exist for them except the words on the page. Leave early at the end of a chapter. Make the reader want to carry on with the next part of the story. PTQ (Page Turning Quality)

Key Tip (2) Start your book with a hook.


It’s not good enough to start with a sunrise or someone lying in bed thinking (please don’t contact me with those best sellers that start that way, they are examples, only that). You have 10 seconds or less to hook your reader (for reader substitute Agent, publisher) after that they are going to delete the extract. No, they are going to delete you.

Key Tip (3) The most important key on your computer is the delete one.

Write carefully, edit freely. Most books (adult) are between 50,000 (category romances) to 120,000. You’re writing a book, not a doorstop. How many words are needed to tell your tale? What is the length of comparable novels available? Do your research.

Key Tip (4) Don’t hate the adverb, it has its place.

A book without any (there are some) is a book missing a trick.

‘Show not tell’. How I hate that phrase because, to the new writer it is meaningless drivel. What the hell does it mean anyway? I think in the broadest sense it means that new writers, and not just new ones, are at risk of not using the English language to its fullest capacity. The second most important key on the writer’s computer is the thesaurus. By changing just one word in a sentence you can make half the words obsolete and end up with something amazing. I’d prefer to read a shorter book over a longer one, a book in which the writer has prioritized his word choice over his word count.  I repeat; this is not a post on how to write. Google ‘show not tell’ and ‘adverb use in writing’ for more.

Key Tip (5) Read. Read as much as you can and cross genre.

One famous writer said recently he writes one book a year and reads 300 (it wasn’t me but it could have been).

Next post: Editing. Can you edit your own work. Tips and tricks. Why I now employ an editor.

 

 

 

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My 2017 in pictures

As a writer sometimes, just sometimes, I think that pictures tell more of a story so this year instead of the yearly round up I’m going to share some photos.

I’ll start with books. I haven’t read so many new authors this year as I’ve been ploughing through my own writing journey but there have been reading highlights. Funnily enough these two books are both set in France.


Talking of France leads to holidays and we were lucky to spend part of the summer along the West coast.

We were also lucky enough to nip across to Herm, something we weren’t able to do the year before. How I love this little piece of paradise.

September to November, the dark days of that first term back at school, also heralded months of hard slog what with hubby being temporarily out of action and GCSE prep. I managed to consolidate my writing and took the hit by employing an editor.

There were new books in 2017 and short stories from my pen. Still no agent on the horizon but, in truth, I haven’t tried too hard to shift the status quo. Writing has to be fun and when it’s not, I’ll stop.

December, and year’s end, meant a trip to Wales to see family. We went to the panto in Llandudno and had a couple of lovely days out in both Liverpool and Betws-y-Coed.

Sea swimming, all year round, continues to brighten up the weekends and keep the brain cells sharp and will sontinue into the New Year.

And 2018? A friend asked me a few weeks ago when the follow up to Boy Brainy was coming out. It wasn’t! I had half a story written ages ago but no enthusiasm to finish it. So I’ve picked it up again, changed it from Ireland to Guernsey and am well on the way to finishing it. It’s been a personal challenge to write a book set in my four favourite places – Ireland, Wales, France and Guernsey. And the glue that binds? A Sixth Century monk called St Tugual. There’s also a thriller I’m working on as I shift genre yet again but writing is a fluid process and it’s time for me to move on yet again.

Wishing you all a happy and healthy 2018. I don’t make resolutions but if I did I’d break them all. No regrets…

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Guernsey writers: The Devil’s Claw

Guernsey, for all its past history as an occupied Island during WW2 and it’s more recent one as a financial hub, is also a place for writers. It’s also part of a Bailiwick so it does include the islands of Alderney, Herm, Jethou, Brecqhou and Sark.

A quick Google search via Wiki comes up with this, an interest list. We’ve all heard of Victor Hugo, scribbling away in his Hauteville Garret with views over Castle Cornet. I never met him 😆 but I actually once met a man who knew someone that did… Two others on the list I know well, one actually lives in the same retirement home as a relative. I also had the pleasure of meeting George Torode in person, a raconteur of unprecedented proportions. If you ever come across any of his Donkey books snap them up (a different George to the chef)

But the list isn’t complete…

it includes Guernsey expats as Victor sure wasn’t local…

Where is Elizabeth Goodge and Green Dolphin Country? A fantastic writer, The White Witch still features in my best top ten reads ever.

Where is Betty Neels? Betty who? Okay so I know you’ve never heard of her but just how many writers are mentioned in their readers obituaries? I know it’s morbid but that’s just how much this writer and her books meant to so many people. Betty’s gentle romances, often set in Holland but also set in Guernsey, have been enjoyed and are still being enjoyed and talked about today.

Where is Elizabeth Bereaford? The creator of The Wombles or indeed…where is fellow expat Alderney writer, Rachel Abbott? She’s just signed a two book deal with Headline. There’s also another debut, Jill Watson missing…Alderney doesn’t even appear on Wiki as a writer hub mmm…

What about Mary Ann Schaffer and That Book? Mary wasn’t local. She only stopped off here on a cruise and yet her book has endeared Guernsey to many of her readers.

And of course I’m not there😂…

And then there’s Lara Dearman…

Lara is local but now lives in New York. Her debut novel, The Devil’s Claw is set in Guernsey and is one hell of a thriller.

Book Blurb

Following a traumatic incident in London, Jennifer Dorey has returned to her childhood home in Guernsey, taking a job as a reporter at the local newspaper.

After the discovery of a drowned woman on a beach, she uncovers a pattern of similar deaths that have taken place over the past fifty years.
Together with DCI Michael Gilbert, an officer on the verge of retirement, they follow a dark trail of island myths and folklore to ‘Fritz’, the illegitimate son of a Nazi soldier. His work, painstakingly executed, has so far gone undetected.But with his identity about to be uncovered, the killer now has Jennifer in his sights.
My review,

Well I’m not sure I’ll be visiting The Fairy Ring anytime soon, a little piece of Guernsey history entrappped in folklore. A ring of stones facing Hanois Lighthouse. No one knows exactly how they got there but thousands of island children have stepped around them or tried to – I’ve always fallen off. Now all I see is dead bodies…

it’s actually strange reading a book set so close to home. I walk these streets. I’ve even got the same name as the lead character and I know the Doreys (a well known local name). This is a well-written debut set in an amazing location and full of snippets of local life. Having the lead as a reporter for the local press was genius as any ‘Guern’ will know of our small Island ramblings and political arguments.

It’s always difficult for a new author to make their mark but Lara has done just that. I wish her well and hope to meet up in person when she next visits.

The Devils Claw, published by Trapeze, is available from Amazon here

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Am I an author now? 

The never-ending question. What makes an author?

I’m definitely a writer but aren’t most of us? Whether it’s a shopping list, or a scribbled message on a post-it note, most of us write on a daily basis. But what turns a writer into an author?

I write books, is that it? Anyone can write a book – all it takes is perseverance and an ability not to give up until that last page is penned.

My books are published, is that it? Anyone can get their book published. Amazon is littered with books, of all qualities, genres and designs as the self-published industry exponentially explodes. Not only that. You only have to load Google to find the vanity-publishing sector has stepped up to the plate to get their slice of literary pie. 

I’ve published more than one, is that it? Quantity doesn’t necessarily mean quality. I’m a great believer in less is more. Better to produce something to be proud of. 

I have an editor, is that it? Producing a product that I’m proud of needs the help of others, something I’ve learnt the hard way. An author without an editor faces an uphill struggle – why make it harder than it needs to be?

I’ll never be an author, I’m an Indie, is that it? The publishing houses would probably agree with this statement but then again they are in the business of selling books. Show me a best-selling author and I’ll show you a best-selling Indie that’s been snapped up by one of the Big Six. 

I get fan mail, is that it? Book reviews are a necessary evil and readers opinions matter but letters from strangers… mind blowing

So what turns a writer into an author? 

Producing a book you’re proud of and finding that strangers are of the same opinion. 

My latest book, Englishwoman at Christmas, is published on 31st October. Maybe I’ll try the term author to see if it fits… 

Englishwoman at Christmas 99p from Amazon here 



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Newsletter 

So, after resisting for ages I’ve finally gotten my act together and created a newsletter with accompanying sign-up. I’m not very technical when it comes to coding etc and this is probably one of the shortest newsletters you’ve ever seen but…This is a photo, for the links to work please click here

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Twenty Five Things I Would Tell My Fifteen Year Old Self…

Excellent, I agree with all but two, but then I’m female and my qualification helped

Peter Jones - Author & Public Speaker


One of the characters in My Girlfriend’s Perfect Ex-Boyfriend is Gary. A troubled fifteen year old lad who’s as bright as a button, but in need of a father figure.

I loved writing him. And as the story developed, I, like my protagonist Ade, developed quite a fondness for this fresh faced youngster.

It started me thinking, if it were possible to somehow nip back in time and visit my fifteen year old self – or perhaps just send a message back somehow (maybe a text message – oh hang on, mobile phones hadn’t been invented – still, excellent idea for a plot) – what sage words of wisdom would I give myself?

Well, fans of How To Do Everything And Be Happy won’t be surprised to know that faced with this conundrum, I made a list. Just in case.

Here then is everything that I wish fifteen year old…

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Death in Foxrock: Valerie Keogh

Happy book launch to Valerie Keogh. Death in Foxrock is available to purchase here 

Book blurb

When Garda Sergeant Mike West and his partner, Garda Andrews, are called to a suspicious death they are shocked to find the small body of a child abandoned in a suitcase. Who is she? No child has been reported missing. Their search reaches outside Ireland involving other forces but without success and soon another dead body takes their attention. There is a surfeit of suspects this time but as the case evolves, the two detectives are stunned where it leads . 

Meanwhile, someone is making trouble for Kelly Johnson, and she is forced, eventually, to ask West for help.

Can West sort personal problems and professional cases and restore peace to Foxrock?

My review 

This is the next in the series featuring surprisingly normal Garda West, an Irish cop without any hang ups. In fact he’s normal. What an idea. To depict a policeman in literature that is someone that you might actually like, that you might relate to, that would be as happy with a coffee as a pint…

The cop TROPE is well known from TV shows to thrillers and to break this mould is indeed brave. Jonny Geller, that doyen of literary agents recently said on Twitter that

 ‘Plot is key, but not at the expense of character. We’ll go anywhere with a full character but question every move with a thin one.’

To write a character that is as well rounded as Garda West, but without the usual hooks of this genre needs both talent and guts. There is a plot but not just one. Subsidiary plots abound but with none of the loose ends that can cause a decent book to fail at the last hurdle. I loved the on-off nature of Garda West’s relationship with Kelly but also admired the way Ms Keogh kept a tight rein on the romance. When readers pick up a crime novel that’s what they want – crime. That’s why there’s a romantic suspence genre. I wait to see what’s next from this author…

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New Guernsey kid (writer) on the block: Lara Dearman

It is truth universally acknowledged that writers support other writers…

And if they’re from the same rock it’s a cert… In fact I’ve just spent the last five minutes stalking Lara to see if I recognise her from her photos – Guernsey is so small we all know someone who knows someone. Rest assured, Lara, you’re a stranger and I’m too busy to stalk anyone unless they have chocolate… 

Lara has recently had her debut published by Trapeze, a new imprint of Orion (one of my favourite houses on NetGalley). I haven’t read it yet but it’s on my TBR pile, which is leaning like Pisa. Here’s the blurb and links x


Book blurb

The six drowned girls stared up at them from the photographs. All young. All attractive. All dead. ‘It is a lot of dead girls. And it’s a very small island.’

* * * * *

AN ATMOSPHERIC NEW CRIME SERIES SET IN THE CHANNEL ISLANDS

Following a traumatic incident in London, Jennifer Dorey has returned to her childhood home in Guernsey, taking a job as a reporter at the local newspaper.After the discovery of a drowned woman on a beach, she uncovers a pattern of similar deaths that have taken place over the past fifty years.Together with DCI Michael Gilbert, an officer on the verge of retirement, they follow a dark trail of island myths and folklore to ‘Fritz’, the illegitimate son of a Nazi soldier. His work, painstakingly executed, has so far gone undetected. But with his identity about to be uncovered, the killer now has Jennifer in his sights.

Available from Amazon here