Monthly Archives: August 2010

Working on lots of things!

The Clock Tower, Brighton

Following on from a FaceBook conversation, I thought I’d say something about my working methods and how these methods have to be adapted to suit what’s happening in my writing life.

When writing the first draft of a novel, I used to write a big chunk and then go back and polish it. But when I did the thing I mentioned – wrote 5000 words on Monday and had polished them down to 2000 by Friday – I really felt I was getting nowhere.
So, now, if I’m writing a book or a serial instalment, I try and write a minimum of 1000 words a writing day. It’s often a lot more than that but rarely more than 2000. The next day, I will reread and edit what I wrote the previous day and then crack straight on with the next 1000+ words. Unless I have to make storyline changes, I work through the first draft that way. (Subsequent drafts don’t need the same kind of methodism.)
Writing a first draft isn’t always that straightforward, of course. For example, I wrote 20,000 words of a new book, Love and Freedom, which I had to leave in June to embark on a rewrite of the book that’s due out in November, Want to Know a Secret? Then I went on holiday (to Connecticut), and had two conferences to attend plus another rewrite of Want to Know a Secret? and then do the copy edits (which now, I’m relieved to say, are all done).
So, now I return to Love and Freedom and have to get back into it. As well as wandering through the hundreds of research pix, such as these, that I took in April, I am reading my way through the 20,000 words already written.

The road between Saltdean and Rottingdean

This afternoon, I have spent hours researching US law school, UK rock festivals, handfasting and the autumnal equinox just to work on a couple of pages that are cruicial to the backstory timeline. (My copy editor will be relieved to know I even have a timeline …) I have expanded the scene a little, so the book is a few hundred words longer, but the object of the current exercise is to sink myself back into the story.

When I get to the end of reading and working on the 20,000 words (now nearly 22,000 but who’s counting?) I will return to my first draft process of adding 1000+ per day and only rereading and editing the previous day’s work.
And, to prove that past work is paying off, The Truth About Books has made Starting Over ‘an unmissable read’ and also a reader’s choice for the month. So if you’d like to vote for it (please do!) you can at
Thank you!

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I Love the Internet

This week, I’m hosting a free online seminar, The Trickier Bits of Fiction, at Coffee Time Romance. You can read the posts or sign up to join in here. I’m really enjoying it – and writers from all over the world are responding. And the seminar will be live for ages so don’t feel you’ve missed out if you don’t click immediately.

I love the Internet! And I love Coffee Time Romance.

Another favourite site, The Truth About Books, has made Starting Over one of the ‘unmissable books of the month‘, after a 5-bookworm review that made me happy! It’s also a Readers’ Choice book and you can vote for it here. (Please do …)

I think that online activity does more to promote my books than personal appearances, these days. Although – I add hastily – I had a great evening at the London Writers’ Cafe on Monday. I was on a panel with fellow writers Karen Mahoney and Leigh Russell, along with Blue Door editor, Laura Deacon. The audience was great! Full of pertinent questions and tangible enthusiasm. I left feeling buoyed by their interest. Click here and here for write-ups from Michael Braga and Lucie Wheeler.

But how did I get that gig? Through the Internet and the services of Twitter!

I love the Internet …


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Q “How do I get news of my book ‘out there’?”

My answer:

Book promo – now there’s a large topic!

I tend to promote myself as a writer, first, and promote any individual book second. Book reviews are useful, such as this lovely one, as is guest blogging, maintaining my own blog and building up followings on Twitter and Facebook. I also send out a newsletter whenever I have a reasonable amount of good news to impart (you can read my newsletter by going to and clicking ‘download here’  if you want to see what kind of thing I talk about, or you can fill in the form to subscribe). And I think my own website is a must. I’ve also created my Amazon Author’s Page (for free) and an email sign off that appears every time I send somebody a message.

Although some don’t see the appeal, both Twitter and Facebook have brought me not just new readers but journalist and radio presenter contacts. It takes a while to build up a following but not that much time every day to post updates. And if anybody reading this would like to follow me on Twitter or befriend me on Facebook, please do!

I get my name in the major writing magazines as often and as obviously as possible. I write my own columns but am also quoted in the columns of friends and professional contacts, and I never turn down an opportunity to give such a quote. Whatever and wherever I write, I try and get my books and/or website mentioned – although sometimes I have to work on editors for this free perk!

Yes, it’s all time consuming – all promo is, whether on-line or more traditional, such as a book signings, attending conferences etc

And you’ll all have noticed how I’ve used this post as an opportunity to get people clicking on my various online presences, because I’m a working writer and like nothing more than to make something out of nothing …


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Circalit Writing Competition – Free!

I’ve been asked to mention the Circalit competition.

Circalit, the UK’s premier social networking platform for writers, announced a free short story competition on the theme of “Broken Identities” with Little Episodes, an independent publisher and production company who raise awareness for those suffering from depression and addiction through the arts. The competition is peer reviewed, meaning that the public can read the submissions and vote for their favourites. By making all the submissions public, Little Episodes and Circalit hope to encourage writers to open up about mental health issues. Writers can submit their work by creating a free account at and posting their submissions up online. The deadline for submissions is 15th Sept 2010. Celebrated author and critic, Kasia Boddy, will judge the final winner from a short list of candidates. Kasia Boddy is author of numerous books including The American Short Story Since 1950, and she is currently editing an anthology of the top 25 American short stories of all time for Penguin Classics.

Interested? Contact details:
Robert Tucker
Communications Director
+44 (0)7790 054 721

Good luck!

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Words with Jam

Words with Jam August 2010

I’ve been introduced to a free online magazine for readers and writers:

Words with Jam

As you can see, I am featured along with All That Mullarkey on the August 2010 cover. (What good taste – All That Mullarkey I mean, of course.)

Inside is my article about what I look for when judging competitions – and a whole load of excellent articles by other writers. AND, for you competition junkies, a short story competition with prizes of £300, £100 and £50! I’ll be selecting the winners from the shortlist so click here … and send in your entry by 31 August 2010.

All three winning entries will be published in Words with Jam in December.

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