Take a break and eat cake!

Every writer needs a break from their computers once in a while. Something I’ve found always relaxes me is baking my favourite cake. This is not just any cake. It’s gluten and dairy free and has a few secret ingredients that make it tasty and healthy.

How can a cake with these ingredients be anything but good for you!

Cake Ingredients

Time for a cuppa and a slice of cake.

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5 Rules For Chapter One Of Your Book

It was interesting to have my novel in mind when I read through this blog. It’s great advice to focus on when editing that all important first chapter.

Dan Alatorre - AUTHOR

I... must... read... more! I… must… read… more!

1. Start the story as late as possible

2. Have a grabber opening

3. Make the reader care, usually via the MC

4. What are the stakes? What can be gained or lost?

5. End with a cliffhanger so we go to chapter 2

Need more info? Let’s read on then, shall we?

(Learn more about writing better stories HERE)

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I'm already 45 minutes overdue! I’m already 45 minutes overdue!

Start the story as late as possible

Most authors bury the really interesting stuff a few paragraphs in, or worse, in chapter two or three. What’s the first interesting thing that happens in your story? Start there.

(Learn about tightening your story HERE)

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Have a grabber opening

Holy cow, am I intrigued by this prose! Holy cow, am I intrigued by this prose!

I like a “grabber” opening to a story and especially the opening chapter. Stories that hook a reader right away and keep…

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Proof Read Top 10 Checklist

I’ve just printed out my novel for the final time. As soon as the kids go back to school next week, I shall lock myself in the summerhouse and set about my final proof read. I’ve read lots of articles on proof reading and done plenty of editing over the years to have come up with a checklist that works for me.

  1. Use a hard copy (it’s too easy to skip over errors on the computer)
  2. Read aloud (but make sure the neighbours can’t hear you)
  3. Read it slowly, word by word (at reading pace your brain skips over words it expects to see and doesn’t pick up the errors)
  4. Use a ruler or blank page to highlight the line you’re reading (this ensures you don’t get ahead of yourself)
  5. Keep focused and hydrated by drinking lots of water (this helps keep you awake, and the trips to the toilet provide plenty of short breaks)
  6. Use a colourful pen to highlight the error, mark the sentence in the margin and fold the corner of the page over (triple insurance against the error being missed when updating on the computer)
  7. Avoid all distractions (escape from the phone and the internet)
  8. Keep a notebook handy (make notes of any last minute niggles to sort out)
  9. The editing should already be done at this point so focus on grammar, spelling, punctuation, word choice and spacing errors.
  10. And finally, there’s no harm in resetting the computer spell checker and giving it one last go.

Then it’s ready for the next stage, uploading to Kindle.

Have you got any last minute proof reading tips to share?

Length of #fantasy fiction

A recent blog on fantasy-faction.com got me thinking about the length of fantasy books.

They are usually weighty tomes, which I don’t have a problem with until you start building those into trilogies and series and clocking up thousands of pages.

I believe there should be more standalone novels in fantasy. It’s always sad when a book you’ve loved comes to an end, but isn’t it good to have closure? To know that the next book you pick up will be the start a new adventure with the author. To discover new worlds and find new characters to fall in love with.

I’ve even been put off starting series because the scale of them is just too daunting (Game of Thrones as an example, though I’ve loved the TV series). As an author I’m in awe of the skills involved in holding it all together, but as a reader I just don’t have the time to invest in them.

I intend to challenge the trend by publishing my first novel, Visions of Zarua, as a standalone. At 153k it’s not exactly small, but it’ll be interesting to see what reviewers have to say.

After that, my next project is a duology. And as I begin to tackle the task of editing it, ideas for book three keep surfacing.

What is it with us fantasy authors?

What I love about writing… #writing

Characters have always been the most important factor in fiction for me. It’s good to read a blog post that focuses on this and expresses my views.

Historical Novels and Epic Fantasy

writingpicture from en.wikipedia.org

What do I love about writing most? Well, it’s the same things that made me such an avid reader in the first place.  Books have the ability to transport us to new worlds, or periods of time that are otherwise completely locked away from us.  The immersion can be so deep from a novel that we can imagine every step that any given character makes, and it is bringing those same characters to life that is the greatest joy for me as a writer.

A book needs to be well written and full of descriptive passages, as they play an essential part in setting a scene and giving the writer’s world depth.  But it is the characters within that world, their hopes, wishes, loves, and desires that will make the story come to life.  When constructing a character for a novel, you want to be able to…

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What Do You Have Friends For?

Lots of good advice for those of us starting out in self publishing.

Savvy Writers & e-Books online

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How friends and family can help to improve your Amazon Ranking will be a reminder today, short before the holiday season starts.  They indeed can help you so much – they even don’t need to buy the book (again). Amazon can give a great book a big boost to “be discovered”.  These little features take only a few seconds, but can make a big difference in your Amazon ranking – and subsequently in the success of your book.
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Ask all your acquaintances, friends, family to:.

  • Write a REVIEW of your book.
    Even if the book already has lots of reviews already. As more reviews as better for the author and as more potential buyers can see the popularity of the work. Amazon rules are against family members’ reviews.  So ask only the ones with a different name/address for a review. They need an Amazon account and at…

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What better way to spend a rainy day than making Plumberry Jam.

plumberry ingredients

Blackberries and plums from the garden.

225g cooking apples, 225g plums, 225g blackberries, 3tbsp of water, 2tbsp lemon juice, 600g sugar.

Cook apples and plums for 10min (until soft). Add blackberries and lemon juice and cook until soft. Then add the sugar and stir until dissolved. Boil until a jam consistency is reached.

plumberry results

Tasty results.

Book blurb for Visions of Zarua

I am working on a pre-press release for my upcoming novel and would appreciate any feedback you have to offer.

Coming soon…

Two wizards, 350 years apart. Together they must save Paltria from Zarua’s dark past.

An ancient darkness haunts the realm of Paltria. Apprentice wizard Paddren is plagued by visions of a city on the brink of annihilation. When his master Kalesh dies in mysterious circumstances, the Royal Order of Wizards refuses to investigate. Helped by his childhood friend, the skilled tracker Varnia, and her lover Leyoch, Paddren vows to find the killer. The investigation leads Paddren down a sinister path of assassins, secret sects and creatures conjured by blood magic. But he is guided by a connection with a wizard from centuries ago – a wizard whose history holds the key to the horror at the heart of the abandoned city of Zarua. Can Paddren decipher his visions in time to save the Paltrian people from the dark menace of Zarua’s past?