A blogging break #amwriting instead

Hi everyone. This is just a quick note to say that I am taking a short break from blogging and social media. I feel it’s time to focus all my attention on The Sentinel’s Alliance – book 3 in the Silent Sea Chronicles. I need space away from technology and want to fill my time instead with pen, paper and lots of inspiration. Soon I’m off to Shakespeare country and hope to pick up some of the bard’s vibes.

I will still be popping up on other people’s blogs from time to time and, though I am trying to ban myself from looking at the computer as much as possible I will still reply to all messages, review requests and comments so please keep in touch.

Enjoy the rest of your summer.

See you some time in September!

Guest Post with writer Ari Meghlen #writingtips #amwriting @AriMeghlen

Today I’m really pleased to share a guest post from fellow writer, Ari Meghlen. She has some great tips for keeping your writing projects under control. Read on to find out more…

 

Keeping the Rabble in Line: How to stick to one story

A Writer’s Life

I always knew I was meant to be a writer.  Even in those very early years when I struggled to read and was way behind, regarding reading levels compared to other children my age.  After all, my inability to read well never stopped the ideas from coming.

While I loved to draw and was not bad at it, art never seemed enough to give all these ideas life!  So, writing was the only way to go.

A Rabble of Chattering Ghosts

I have been blessed (and cursed) with always having ideas.  Any time I suffered writers block, it was usually due to mental burn-out or a stubborn plot-hole that just won’t play ball.  It was never due to lack of ideas.

I appreciate that is something I am lucky to have.  However, it does have its downside.  It’s certainly hard to complete a current project when some juicy new idea pops up demanding attention.

I recently discussed the concept of Muses and how to me, my Muses were a rabble of chattering ghosts.  And might I say, they’re a rude, demanding lot too!

Their chatter follows me everywhere – in the car, in the grocery store, in the shower.  I am forever reaching for a pen or grabbing my phone to jot down a note.  It can be anything from a character, a scene or just an abstract concept or question.

It is awesome to have so many ideas.  I love that I have enough ideas to keep me going for years to come.

However, it’s also a bad thing because all this chattering is a deep distraction.  What is the point of having enough ideas for dozens of books, if I never finish any?

Acknowledging Bad Writing Habits

When I was younger, I fell into very bad habits.  The ones where I would drop a working project (no matter how far into it I was) to start another.  I felt as if every time a new idea crept up, I had to seize it!

That entailed abandoning story after story as I chased down whatever my chattering ghosts gave me.

This is a great route for disaster as a writer.  Does it sound familiar?  Have you ever caught yourself doing this?

We do it for many reasons, here are just a few:

  • New and Shiny – I feel like writers are a bit like magpies. We are easily distracted by shiny objects and new ideas are those shiny objects.  They draw our eye and it becomes our focus… until the next shiny appears.
  • FOMO – Fear of Missing Out is a big one for people. Whether you get an idea for a story that is in a trending genre and want to exploit that, to feeling the new idea would be a better, more solid first novel to bring out than your current one.  Sometimes we fear missing the opportunity that might be better for us.
  • Ninja Level Procrastinator – Many writers don’t realise, but story-hopping is a type of procrastination. Some people have a (often unconscious) fear of completing their work so story-hopping allows them to procrastinate and never actually finish while still considering themselves writers.

But as writers, no matter what our reason, it’s not something we should do.  It is more damaging in the long run.

Exorcise the Ghosts with a Brain Dump

So, what do you do if you’re bombarded by ideas all the time?

First, you need to acknowledge the new ideas. 

Don’t try and ignore them as some will slip away, and you might always wonder if it could have been something great.  Others will just bang loudly on the door, constantly demanding entry and stop you from working anyway.

Second, exorcise the ghosts with a good, solid brain dump. 

This is where you just get all the chatter out of your head.  Open a new document, save it in an Ideas folder and then just type.  Whatever they are giving you – character descriptions, scraps of scenes, plot, dialogue, questions.

The idea here is to purge your mind of all the noise but don’t expand on it.  Don’t jot down the basis of a plot and then spend 3 months developing it.  That’s working on the project, whereas what you want to do is just create notes.

All the while remind yourself that your current project is being delayed and you must go back to it.

Third, expect that this brain dump might not be 100% done in one sitting. 

For the few days following, additional pieces of ideas may pop up.  Keep your Idea file open while you’re working on your current WIP and just jump into the document to add the odd nugget as it comes.

This is JUST for the straggler ideas and should not go longer than a few days.  Anything beyond that and you’re working on your new project.  Be firm, give yourself a cut off.

When you’ve gotten the chatter to hush, throw your focus back at your current WIP with vigour and let the idea sit patiently in its folder.  Ideas must be taught to wait their turn.

Be Firm, and Cling to Your Discipline

While writers could possibly do with some drill sergeant keeping us in line, most of us don’t have that so we must rely on our own sense of discipline (terrifying, I know!)

But if you want to be a writer, if you want to complete something and get it published, you need to be firm.

Don’t read the notes you’ve made on your new project.  Don’t keep thinking about it.  Believe me when you come back to those notes eventually, they will still trigger ideas and you can build on it then.

Why an Outline can help keep the Ghosts under control

There is a lot to be said for having an outline of your work.  If you have a strong, detailed outline written for your current work, you will find that the desire to drift off to new projects is somewhat diminished.

This is because often writers will feel a spark with new ideas, especially if they aren’t 100% sure where their current work is going.  So, rather than just sitting staring at a screen and dealing with the plot-hole or up-coming conflict, we drop it and turn to the new project.

An outline is a map, showing you the way.  It reduces the need for staring blankly at a page, trying to figure out where you’re going in the story.

I was a pantser for a long time and my work has suffered because of it.  I have been much better since I (with brutal reluctance) started to do full, detailed outlines.

Those whispered ideas don’t grab me as tightly any more because my focus draws right back to the next scene I need to write in my current WIP.

 

So, do you often find yourself swayed by the siren of new ideas?  How have you managed to stop yourself from dropping one project to start another?

 

A big thanks to Suzanne for letting me be on her blog, much appreciated.

 

About Ari

At the age of 8, Ari Meghlen wanted to be a pirate, because who doesn’t look great in baggy pantaloons and an eyepatch.  However, lacking any access to a ship this dream was relegated along with so many others: Professional Ninja, Best Friend to a Dragon, Palaeontologist.

Yet Ari found that, in stories, she could be anything she wanted and so a great love affair started with the written word.  She mainly writes Preternatural Urban Fantasy as well as more Traditional Fantasy.

When she’s not creating worlds from the screaming, shuddering recesses of her mind, Ari can be found blogging about writing on her website or indulging in other hobbies such as drawing, shooting arrows, watching movies, playing cards badly.

Me-BW

Links

Website/Blog:  https://arimeghlen.co.uk/

Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/writerarimeghlen

Twitter: http://twitter.com/arimeghlen

Instagram: http://instagram.com/ari_meghlen

Spring Update #amwriting #amreading

With Spring here at last, I thought it would be the perfect time for another writing and reading update.

March has been an interesting month for weather in my part of the UK. I’ve tried not to let it interfere with my writing schedule and luckily the kids only had one snow day off school. I’ve been busy polishing The Sentinel’s Reign book 2 in the Silent Sea Chronicles after beta reader feedback, and have booked an April slot with my editor for a proof read / edit. The book is currently with my second wave of beta readers who hopefully won’t find too much wrong (fingers crossed).

I can’t wait to do a cover reveal for The Sentinel’s Reign and announce the pre-order date, but I’m wary of doing this until my editor has cast her professional eye over the manuscript. So for now all I can say is watch this space…

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At the beginning of March I attended a Getting Published Workshop, which was informative but didn’t quite go the way I’d hoped. I will share my thoughts about the day and what I gained from it later in the week.

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As I revealed a couple of weeks ago, I’m still in talks with a publisher regarding the Czech translation of Visions of Zarua. I’ll be sure to spread the word and break out the champagne when the contracts are signed.

I’ve decided to re-read Visions of Zarua. This seems like a mad thing to do because the publishers were obviously happy with the story and I’m bound to want to change minor details that don’t really impact on the reading experience. It’s just the editor in me screaming to be heard. The question is do I give in to the nagging voice, or try to read the book for pleasure as I would any other book. Is that even possible?

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I have been contacting book reviewers in the hopes of building some interest in The Lost Sentinel, which has suffered with lack of marketing whilst I worked on book 2. I really want to start showing the book some love and attention. If you would like to read and review The Lost Sentinel, please contact me.  As always, here’s the universal book link to see what you think on Amazon, or check the dedicated page above.

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Plans for the weeks ahead;

I’m looking forward to continuing work on The Sentinel’s Alliance (Bk 3), which I started during Nanowrimo last year. Skim reading through the draft has filled me with excitement and I can’t wait to lose myself in the story and see what happens next!

I will be submitting Visions of Zarua to agents on my short list, using the knowledge I learnt from the Getting Published day (again I’ll share my views with you in a day or so). I would love to get some more reviews for Visions as well, any takers?

Now, on to what I’ve read…

book cover 111 tips book review

See my review here

Time Travelling with a Hamster – review to follow. It was a fun read, and even though a children’s book, the time travel concept held up perfectly. This was originally recommended to me by my daughter, who devoured the story in a few days.

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(I’ve also read The Lost Sentinel and The Sentinel’s Reign though obviously won’t be reviewing my own books.)

What I am reading.

As mentioned I’m re-reading Visions of Zarua.

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I’m also reading

 

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This is the last book in the trilogy and is filled with action that’s keeping me up far too late at night.

I’ve agreed to read very soon…

The Sand Scuttler by Rosalyn Kelly (Early ARC so no cover to share as yet) and Ninja School Mum by Lizzie Chantree.

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And I have another two trilogies I am desperate to finish The Crown of Stones – Magic-borne by C.L.Schneider and Queen of Fire by Anthony Ryan.

That should keep me going for a while.

Have you any writing or reading goals for the spring?

Until next time…

10 Tips for re-reading your novel after publication #indieauthor #amediting

A few weeks ago I re-read The Lost Sentinel (Book One in the Silent Sea Chronicles). I loved the experience of reading my own book in paperback, and I had the brilliant idea to use post-it notes to highlight things as I went along. These may have been facts I wanted to check in book 2, reminders for planning book 3 and the prequel, spelling or grammar niggles, places where the Astral Plane was mentioned etc.

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I loved the blue post-its matching the cover, but I soon discovered the disadvantages of this method. I didn’t write on every note exactly what I was supposed to be checking. Going through it afterwards, not all the highlights made sense and I couldn’t find any problems with the text. Having suffered this problem, I thought it would be a good idea to share my top tips…

10 TIPS FOR RE-READING YOUR WORK AFTER PUBLICATION

  1. First decide why you are re-reading and what you want to get out of the experience.
  2. Don’t be scared! If, like me, your book has been read and reviewed you have those reviews to fall back on. Perhaps they have flagged up issues you need to address, or maybe you can just read them as a confidence boost.
  3. You have to let go when you re-read. So you’re suddenly not happy with the placement of a comma, or you think a sentence could be rewritten a little better. Ask yourself is it really that big a deal? I’m never satisfied with my writing, so I decided that I had to overlook some of the little niggles or I’d end up rewriting the whole thing! I did make a couple of changes, but this wasn’t an exercise in making The Lost Sentinel better, I wanted to read the sequel straight after to ensure the books worked as a series. (Thankfully they do.)
  4. Have a notebook handy to jot down any facts that need to be checked, or issues to work through.
  5. Post-it notes are great as they allow you to mark a section you have an issue with and let you get on with reading without breaking the flow. BUT make a note of the point you’re highlighting! It saves time later on.
  6. Colour coding the post-its is a quick and easy shortcut. I went back and did this afterwards. I used different colours to represent book 2, 3 and the prequel. A different colour for the scenes that featured the Astral Plane, and finally any changes that needed working through were transcribed into my notebook to work through later.
  7. Be prepared to love and hate your own writing. I had ups and downs re-reading The Lost Sentinel. When I was feeling down, I looked back over those reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. It’s always good to be reminded that others have enjoyed the book and loved your characters.
  8. Don’t forget to celebrate your achievement. Publishing a book is amazing. Enjoy holding it, reading it and savour the whole experience.
  9. Once the re-read is done you have to decide what changes are really necessary. Then you’ll need to update the e-book and paperback files before re-submitting them to your chosen platforms, in my case Amazon and Createspace.
  10. Finally, double-check everything you’ve changed is correct once it has been published. It’s worth taking your time and making sure the book is the best you can make it. Then hopefully future re-reads won’t result in more changes.

 

I will probably go through the above process when I’ve finished writing book 3, and for any future books in the Silent Sea Chronicles. Hopefully next time around it will go more smoothly. And I hope you can take something helpful from this as well.

Have you any tips to share when re-reading your published work?

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Silent Sea Chronicles is a heroic fantasy series set on the magical island of Kalaya.

Book 1 – The Lost Sentinel is available now at Amazon.

Book 2 – The Sentinel’s Reign will soon be sent off to my second wave of Beta readers. And then after a final edit and proof read, I will hopefully be ready to publish by May. Closer to the date I will have a cover reveal – I can’t wait to share the amazing cover with you.

Thanks for reading. I hope you will continue you follow my journey as an indie author.

 

News and writing update #amwriting #nanowrimo

A short update to let you know I’m still around…

Things have been quiet on my blog recently as I try to edit book 2 (The Sentinel’s Reign) and draft book 3 (The Sentinel’s Alliance) during Nanowrimo 2017. It’s been difficult to spread my time between the two projects, along with having a new boiler fitted, a broken phone to sort and now a bout of RSI. Hopefully, that’s it for the bad luck and my wrist sorts itself out soon.

I’m on track to meet the 50k word count, though now I’m starting to panic about where to take the story. Writing without a plan is not easy and although I like the freedom of writing what comes into my head, it’s so hard to shut off my internal editor and just let it all flow without going back and tinkering with it. Much like that last sentence!

I’m very behind on sharing my book reviews, but I have a couple of reviews planned shortly.

The news I’m really excited to share is that I finally have a cover for The Sentinel’s Reign! I’ll do a cover reveal at a later date, but right now I need to focus on finishing the edit/read through so I can pass it to my beta readers. I really hope to publish book 2 early next year, but with Christmas creeping ever closer…

In other news, Visions of Zarua is 2 years old next week. I’ll be running a Goodreads paperback giveaway and an ebook giveaway on the blog, more news of those will follow.

How are you all coping with the demands of Nanowrimo? Have you any tricks to share? And does anyone have any advice for RSI?

Have a great weekend everyone.

#tuesdaybookblog The Writer’s Lexicon by @KathySteinemann #bookreview

The Writer’s Lexicon should be on every writer’s desk! Read on to find out why.

Blurb

You’re a writer. You just read your manuscript and discovered your characters nodding like marionettes in every chapter. When they’re not nodding, they’re rolling their eyes.

Oops.

Time to slash the Pinocchio strings and turn them into real live people. Award-winning author Kathy Steinemann will provide the tools. She cuts through the so-called rules and offers simple solutions.

Too many repetitions of “little”? There’s a cure for that. Do you rely on “very” too often? There’s a cure for that too. You’ll find the remedies in this book’s dispensary.

Should you ever use anything other than “said” to attribute dialogue? Are exclamation points taboo? The answers might surprise you.

Learn how to harness body language, cut hackneyed adjectives, and draw on the environment for ambience. No more wooden characters. You’ll transform them into believable personalities your readers will learn to love. Or hate.

Get in the driver’s seat, relax, and enjoy your journey—with Kathy Steinemann’s book as your GPS.

My Review

The author contacted me about reviewing her book and I’m so pleased she did. When I read the line ‘…characters nodding like marionettes in every chapter’, I knew this was a writing resource book I had to read.

It couldn’t have come at a better time for me as I’m in the process of fine-tuning the second book in my series Silent Sea Chronicles. I know I’m guilty of creating nodding, grinning character who laugh and cry far too much. There are plenty of other examples of words that you may not even realise you are overusing (that being one!), and a multitude of alternatives to try.

Kathy Steinemann uses imaginative examples of how not to write sentences, along with examples of how to improve your work. There are A-Z lists of alternative words, and story prompts throughout. The book gets you thinking about why you have chosen particular words, and she helps you think of ways a few well placed words can bring your story to life. There are also chapters on punctuation, how to include the senses in your writing, and a list of 400 redundant words.

I think it’s a brilliant book for every writer to have on their desk. Unfortunately, I’ve only read The Writer’s Lexicon on kindle (I highly recommend a paperback). I can imagine my paperback copy would have post-it notes stuck all over my favourite chapters. It has certainly got me thinking, and I will be using this as a guide to help me tighten the writing in my books.

5 well deserved stars.

Amazon UK  Amazon US  Goodreads

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Writing Update #amwriting #amediting

I haven’t done an update in a while so in order to clarify things in my own head, I thought I’d share my plans for the rest of 2017.

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Update 14/10/2017 – The giveaway is now over and in total 1831 people entered. The Lost Sentinel is now on over 1000 tbr bookshelves and I have gained close to 30 new followers on Goodreads. All these figures are fantastic, it’s just a shame the person who won is a serial competition entrant who has clocked up a massive 59k book on their to read list. They appear to give those they do win away, so I hope my book will find its way into the hands of someone who wants to read it.

(There are just a few hours left to enter the Goodreads giveaway for The Lost Sentinel – over 1500 people have entered so far. Don’t miss your chance to win a copy before 8am GMT 12/10/17.)

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I’m just a few scenes away from printing The Sentinel’s Reign (Silent Sea Chronicles #2) for what I hope will be a last proof read before I pass it to my beta readers. I love this stage where I find out what works and what doesn’t!

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I’m really excited to be taking part in NaNoWriMo this year where I hope to draft out the major part of The Sentinel’s Alliance (Silent Sea Chronicles #3).

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My hunt for book covers goes on, but I hope to have a cover reveals for book 2 and 3 soon.

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I hope to contact some book reviewers by the end of the year regarding The Lost Sentinel and Visions of Zarua.

However, if you are a book blogger reading this and would like to receive a review copy please get in touch via the comments or my Contact Me form.

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I have several other book ideas to work through including a time slip novel that appeared to me in the summer and is itching to be written.

It looks like I have a busy few months ahead of me.

How is the rest of the year looking for you and have you signed up for NaNoWriMo yet?

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If you want to find our more about my books, please click on the universal Amazon link below where you can read the blurb, check out reviews and download a free sample.

THE LOST SENTINEL COVER The Lost Sentinel

 Visions of Zarua

#Mondayblogs Guest Post with @colleen_m_story #amwriting

Today I am really excited to welcome Colleen Story to my blog for a guest post all about research…

The One Question You Need to Ask When Doing Writing Research

When Suzanne first asked me about the research I did for my newly released non-fiction book, Overwhelmed Writer Rescue, and how it differed from the research I did for my novels, my first thought was, Oh it’s completely different.

But then as I starting looking into it, I thought, Well, maybe not—there actually are a lot of similarities.

In discovering those similarities, I’ve found that no matter what type of writing you’re doing, it’s important to ask one question. The answer will help you determine whether the research will benefit the writing or not.

Health Writing is Researching in its Purest Form

I’ve been researching non-fiction writing for over 20 years. I specialize in health writing. If you’re unfamiliar with what that is, just imagine me writing research papers all day long on things like heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, preventative care, alternative treatments, nutrition, and the like.

Sounds about as fun as a root canal, right?

Well, if you’re interested in what you’re researching, it can be fun, and much of the time, I am. Over the years, I’ve gradually expanded into personal growth, motivation, and creativity, which I particularly enjoy, and for which the research can be extremely intriguing.

I’ve written fiction for about the same period of time, but for years, I didn’t research it at all. Looking back, I think I probably avoided it simply to get away from what to me was my “day job” as a freelance writer. Fiction was my time to play and indulge my creative muse—I certainly didn’t want to bring any dry research into it.

When I started writing novels, though, that had to change, at least somewhat.

Gradually, My Fiction Writing Began to Require Some Research

My first novel was a fantasy, so I researched things that appealed to my imagination, like gargoyles, stone sculptures, and ancient myths and legends—all fun stuff that didn’t really seem like “research.” Instead, I was indulging my own sense of curiosity.

You see, in my mind, research is tough. I’m used to regularly reading challenging material that typically goes something like this:

“Most studies agree that the classical pathological criteria for AD, neuritic plaques and neurofibrillary tangles, can account for 40%–70% of the variance in cognition seen in elderly subjects, with additional pathologies such as cerebrovascular disease (Dolan et al. 2010b) and Lewy body pathology (Schneider et al. 2007) working together with AD pathology to account for an additional 20%–30% of dementia cases. (O’Brien and Wong, Annu Rev Neurosci., 2011)”

Not exactly light reading, and this is one of the simpler ones. After a day of it, you’re ready to move onto something else.

So “researching” my fiction has always been restricted to an “as needed” and “for fun” basis. I really didn’t think of it as a key component in my fiction writing—until the last couple years.

Continue reading

Guest author: Suzanne Rogerson – 5 ways spreadsheets can help writers plan and edit their novels

As promised, here’s the first stop on The Lost Sentinel’s blog tour. Find out why I love spreadsheets as a writing tool.

Sue Vincent's Daily Echo

I’ve always loved using excel spreadsheets, which probably goes back to my office job days (yawn!). But it was only as I recently plotted and planned the second book in my Silent Sea Chronicles, that I wondered if other writers had considered the benefits of using spreadsheets as a writing tool. Excel is great for;

  1. Planning your novel
  • Plan scenes in brief (or detailed if you prefer)

I do a mixture of both on the spreadsheet. Sometimes I plot out the basic scene, but I might add a few bits of dialogue to help me get into the scene when it comes to actually writing it.

  • It’s easy to copy, cut and move scenes around until you find the right place for them in the story.
  • Keep track of viewpoint characters

This is great when you have a cast of characters. I don’t like to leave too long between…

View original post 1,279 more words

Launch day bargain £1.99 for 13 Steps to Evil by @sacha_Black #amwriting #writingtips

I love villains!

I love reading about them and I especially love creating them in my own fantasy books. When I heard Sacha Black was publishing a book dedicated to creating evil characters, I snapped up a copy of 13 Steps to Evil. I can’t wait to read this how to book and my review of it will follow soon.

In the meantime, here’s some information about the book. Why not pick up a copy yourself while it’s on sale at £1.99?

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Book Blurb

Your hero is not the most important character in your book. Your villain is.

Are you fed up of drowning in two-dimensional villains? Frustrated with creating clichés? And failing to get your reader to root for your villain?

In 13 Steps to Evil, you’ll discover:

  • How to develop a villain’s mindset
  • A step-by-step guide to creating your villain from the ground up
  • Why getting to the core of a villain’s personality is essential to make them credible
  • What pitfalls and clichés to avoid as well as the tropes your story needsFinally, there is a comprehensive writing guide to help you create superbad villains.

Whether you’re just starting out or are a seasoned writer, this book will help power up your bad guy and give them that extra edge.These lessons will help you master and control your villainous minions, navigate and gain the perfect balance of good and evil, as well as strengthening your villain to give your story the tension and punch it needs.

If you like dark humour, learning through examples and want to create the best villains you can, then you’ll love Sacha Black’s guide to crafting superbad villains. Read 13 Steps to Evil today and start creating kick-ass villains.

Purchase from: All good retailers, but universal link to all bookstores is here.

Sacha Black Author Bio

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Sacha Black has five obsessions; words, expensive shoes, conspiracy theories, self-improvement, and breaking the rules. She also has the mind of a perpetual sixteen-year-old, only with slightly less drama and slightly more bills.

Sacha writes books about people with magical powers and other books about the art of writing. She lives in Hertfordshire, England, with her wife and genius, giant of a son.

When she’s not writing, she can be found laughing inappropriately loud, blogging, sniffing musty old books, fangirling film and TV soundtracks, or thinking up new ways to break the rules.

Contact Information

General

Email: sachablack@sachablack.co.uk

Non-fiction Website: www.sachablack.co.uk

Fiction Website: www.sachablackbooks.com

Social Media

Twitter: @sacha_Black

Facebook: Sacha Black author page

Pinterest: Pinterest profile

Instagram: Sacha Black profile

Goodreads non-fiction: Sacha Black profile

Goodreads fiction: Sacha de Black profile

Tumblr: Sacha Black profile

Google+: Sacha black profile

Linkedin: Linkedin Profile

Amazon Sacha Black profile