Saturday, 24 December 2011

Could your publisher give your book away free?

The answer sadly in many cases is yes they can. And the real kicker is that they can do it without even telling you.

And you thought your relationship with your publisher was a partnership. At least I did.
Here’s my tale of woe –
I found out through a message board I belong to that two self-help titles I wrote for Need2Know Books on bullying and caring for dogs were being given away free. This was news to me because I had a contract stating how much ebooks would cost and what my royalty percentage was.
Note it wasn’t at the price of zero, royalty zero. Hey, I worked hard on those books. It was my name next to the copyright symbol. It was my hard toil that crafted the words, did the research. And in the case of my bullying book: spilt my guts.

Hey, I even worked hard to get reviews and some press coverage. Worked hard, when I could have been doing something else – like doing paid work to pay my bills that land on my doormat like bricks.

I contacted the Society of Authors and got advice. I was hoping they’d tell me that the publisher had no right to 1, give away my book free and 2, not tell me.
The news wasn’t good. Apparently the clause in most publishing contracts that allows the publisher to set the price of the book also means they can give it away for hee-haw, nae money, feck all, free.
So, what have I learnt from this? Apart from the fact that this publisher showed a complete lack of common courtesy to their authors (I know of at least another dozen of their authors who were not made aware that their books were being given away free, including one who didn’t even agree to their book being turned into an ebook) I can’t stress this point enough -

Get it stipulated in your contract how many books can be given free and under what terms.

Footnote – when I contacted the publisher about what they were doing they claimed giving every one of their books away free was a ‘marketing tool.’ They had no idea how long they would give the books away gratis, but hoped it would boost sales of the traditional paper books.

I disagree with that. Why if people are getting books free will they pay for them? The answer is they won't. Not unless you're an author writing a free book as a taster (say it's a book in a series or a short story featuring series characters like Freaks by Tess Gerritsen, which features Rizzoli and Isles).

Me? I feel like my pocket had been picked and it’s pretty empty these days anyway.

Monday, 12 December 2011

Enemies of the writer

There are so many things that can stand in the way of your writing time. Know what they are and beat 'em.

The Internet
Do you really need to find a present for Aunt Betty online, right this moment? Do you even have an Aunt Betty? If you really, really need to do research online, write a list of the things you need to know and tick them off as you answer them. Then turn the Internet OFF. Unless you do the Internet will eat away at your writing time.

Why is it always a case that when you actually have to sit down and write you suddenly decide to clean out the refrigerator/do the vacuuming/take a duster to the cobwebs that have been at that corner of the ceiling for years?

Perhaps if you’re avoiding writing so often, you should ask yourself if you should be writing at all. A writer is someone who has a compulsion to write.

Reading other writers who make you feel like you don't deserve to kiss their pen.
Hence the reason I'm not reading Stephen King's latest novel. He tells a great story and writes it well. I try to. I try to.

Games computer games, Internet games, card games, games you play in your head.
Do you want to waste time that you could be writing finding hidden objects or getting solitaire out? Yet, we've all been there. Just don't get sucked in. If you must play games do it to give yourself a break after some kick ass writing.

Social networking
Are you genuinely making friends and sharing your writing woes or just killing time? Set yourself a decent amount of time to tweet, Facebook, Google or whatever. DO NOT EXCEED THAT TIME.

Is it really too difficult to get notepads, pens and station them around the house? Too much good writing and too many ideas are lost because you never wrote them down. If you're outside the home make sure you have something to capture your ideas. Many mobile phones have note functions and voice recorders. Use them.

Being a perfectionist
Stop expecting every word you write to be perfect - I have a habit of doing this. Get it down then edit/perfect it later. You can’t expect to get your writing to flow if you keep on stopping every sentence to rewrite and rewrite.

I recently discovered (by accident) that the publisher of two of my self-help books, were giving them away free as ebooks without my knowledge. Whilst I was okay with them giving away e copies with the paperback version, I thought giving them away for heehaw was a step too far. I'm now taking legal advice.

Finding out about my hard work being exploited like that cost me a day's work and a week's worry. Then I realised that I was allowing this publisher to steal my writing time and I put a stop to it by sending off the corresepondance I needed and forgetting about it.

Note – Always make copies of every contract or commission form your received and keep them in a safe place. Also scan copies into your computer. It can be so easy to lose contracts when you move home.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

What Katy did next

I was delighted to be asked over to Katy O’Dowd blog as a guest blogger where I talk about how research for books can put a strain on your relationship.
Katy’s honestly one of those people for whom the phrase ‘I don’t know how she does it’ is made. Mum, journalist and fiction writer, she's so busy I don't know how she does it all.

So far (and I say so far because there’s loads to come), Katy has 3 books coming out in 2012 -
The Lady Astronomer, Doctor Fantastique Books, 2012

The Scarlet Ribbon, The History Press Ireland, 2012 (writing as Derry O’Dowd)

Nasty Snips II, Pendragon Press, 2012 (Co-Editor)

Thanks Heath

I was delighted to be a guest blogger over at Heath Lowrance's Psycho-Noir. Heath is the author of the brilliantly titled The Bastard Hand.

If you fancy a gander at his awesome blog, why not mosie on over to

You won't regret it.

Monday, 5 December 2011

The Point by Gerard Brennan

You know you're in a shed load of trouble when Mad Mickey wants a wee word, and that's the predicament scallywag Paul Morgan finds himself in at the start of The Point. Given a week to get out of Belfast by the 'hippy-gangster,' Morgan gets his brother Brian to flit with him to a place called Warrenpoint, hence the book's title.

He makes one wee mistake: pinching Mad Mickey's van and setting it alight. After he does that you know the Morgan boys are in for some bother.

The Point rattles along a good pace. The characters are well drawn, especially Mad Mickey the 'hippie-gangster' who sits cross legged on a beanbag in the back of a carpeted van, menacing folk under the glow from some lava lamps. And there's ballsy Rachel who's under 'court ordered' counselling for turning a mugger's Stanley Knife on him. Thank ye gods for a kick ass woman in a book who isn't cast in the victim role or as the eye candle.

The dialogue is crisp and realistic and at times you’re chortling away to yourself like an eejit. Like when beleaguered Morgan asks what kind of mood Mickey is in. Go on, you know you want to say it.

Hats off to the writer too for not trying to anglicise/poncify his dialogue. His characters are from Northern Ireland, so why should they sound like they're presenting the news on the BBC?

The Point was an enjoyable read and I look forward to reading more from Mr Brennan.

Note – with its short chapters, The Point is perfect for reading on your Kindle.

The Point is published by Pulp Press both in traditional book form and on Kindle. Available from Amazon.

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Publishing hits rock bottom

As writers we all struggle to get published. We toil all through the night when all sensible people are sleeping.

Our characters tug at our sleeves and lead us on a merry dance when we’re meant to be concentrating on something else: life stuff like paying the bills and taking the rubbish out.

We don’t have leisure time because we’re too busy scribbling away.

We end up with back problems (from sitting hunched over our laptops or notebooks), relationship problems (‘you care more about your writing than you do about me’), drink problems (there’s a reason I’m teetotal) and some of us even end up relying on heavy duty narcotics (I’m not there, yet, but give me time).

Maybe we writers should be sending pictures of our bums to publishers instead of head shots

So nothing sticks in the craw more than reading that the publishing industry, who hand out meagre advances to writers (if they hand out advances at all) can somehow come up with bucket loads of cash to hand to ‘celebrities’ to supposedly write books.

Pippa Middleton is the latest to be given a book deal. According to reports she’s been given a 400k book deal by Michael Joseph, an imprint of Penguin books to tell us how to be the perfect party hostess.  

According to these reports, Pippa who’s never so much as had an article published will write the book herself. It’s up to you whether you believe that or not as most celebs get ghostwriters.  

Ms Middleton is just the latest in a long line of ‘celebrities’ to get huge book deals and she won’t be the last.

Footnote - If you have no idea who Pippa Middleton is, lucky you. She’s the sister of Kate Middleton who married Prince William. She became famous because apparently she has a nice bottom.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Publish and be damned (I was)

Today I learnt something new about myself. I am a racist. It came as a big of a shock because I'd no idea.

At least according to someone who posted a comment on the article I wrote for Shadowlocked, 8 British Shows the Americans couldn’t do.

I didn’t make any racist points. All I did was state that for various reasons there are some British shows that American TV couldn’t make as well, mainly because of things like settings and American TV’s perchance for guns.

But, that’s the thing, once your work is out there – especially out there on the world wide web – you have no control over what people say and in this case what they post.

Does it make you angry and get you upset when you read criticism like that? Of course it does, but like a lot of things in life you just have to get used to it. People will always disagree with you and sometimes that will mean they get personal.

Do I think I’m a racist just because someone wrote it? Hey, if someone wrote I was a millionaire would it make it true?

Thursday, 27 October 2011

What The Walking Dead needs to do to survive

I love zombies and like millions of other people I’ve been enjoying The Walking Dead.

In season 2 the viewing figures are way up on those for last season and there will now be a season 3, but like all good shows I think it could do with some improvements.

For one thing, not enough is being made of some characters - what has Glenn done in the first two episodes?

The zombie quotient could do with upping.

And, what’s with the model perfect Lori Grimes?

I think the show needs some changes made and that’s why I wrote 9 ways to keep us watching The Walking Dead over at Shadowlocked.

Why not check it out and leave your comments?

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Give Me a British TV Classic Any Day

Could the Americans have done it any better?

In the UK we have a habit of knocking everything. We moan about the weather. Complain that the country’s going downhill. Talk about emigrating to warmer safer climes.

Me, I don’t get it. I love the weather. It’s got character and I hate the heat. Living in Scotland I also think I live in one of the most beautiful places in the world.

But the one thing we shouldn’t knock is the great British TV show. We have so many stand out shows that are uniquely British.

Sherlock. Doctor Who. The Office. Could the Americans, even with their big budgets do those shows justice? I don't think so.

That’s why I decided to write a piece on 8 classic British shows America couldn't do

Why not have a wee read and see if you can you think of any more?  

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Deid Bastards (or my descent into madness)

Zombies in Glasgow? It has already happened.

Last night I had an epiphany, a moment when I realised what I needed to do to to get my as yet unfinished zombie book published.

Out goes my title The Waking Dead - not used to get sales off the back of the TV show The Walking Dead - although I wouldn't mind, but so called because experts dub my creatures that because they are literally dying and then waking up.

In comes Deid Bastards.

Well, what else would they call dead - deid - people who come back to life in Glasgow where the book is set?

Am I mad for the name change? Only time will tell.

I'll keep you posted on my progress, or inevitable retreat to a padded cell wearing an I-love-me-jacket with daily injections from Nurse Ratchet.

The secret of a great series character

Stop all the clocks, turn of the telephones, prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone...
the new Arnaldur Indridason book is in my lap and I can’t wait to read it.

I love the Reykavick Mysteries, as his publisher has dubbed them.

The main attraction for me isn't the crimes they solve, but Detective Erlendur whose life is every bit as bleak as the Icelandic landscape. He's a man haunted by the disappearance of his younger brother, torn from his hand in a blizzard, never to be seen again.

It seems inevitable that the boy - who'd now be a grizzly man - is dead, engulfed by the snow, but like Erelendur you can't help clinging to the unspoken belief that he someone survived the blizzard and was taken in by a kindly but secretive family.

And therein lies the secret of a great series character - like Erlendur, he should be every bit as engrossing as the crimes themselves.

What every writer would give to create a character like that.

Some tips on creating a series character with staying power

1. Give them something unresolved - a case they didn't solve, a missing/troubled relative - Erlendur has both.

2. Make them different - a zombie/vampire/werewolf detective, an amputee, a war veteran mentally scarred by the horrors they've seen, a priest turned police detective, a detective in a country under occupation. A detective who sees into the minds of dead victims at crime scenes. Let your imagination run wild.

3. Give them flaws. A perfect human being is boring. An imperfect one with a hump, one leg and loaded with self-doubt. Now you're talking. Jeffrey Deaver struck gold with quadriplegic Lincoln Rhyme.

4. Put an obstacle in their way that's always there to keep them preoccupied. Perhaps they have an ill spouse/child they need to take care of.  Maybe they're diabetic and need to eat regularly or they collapse, or they're addicted to booze or drugs or gambling, or they've got a serious illness no one must know about. Be creative. Think ‘what’s not been done before?’

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Why every writer should have paper plates


If you're a writer, you better get used to the word rejection because it's a fact more people will say no to you than will say yes. Whether it's magazine editors, publishers or agents, you will get a heck of a lot of people saying no. So, if you're going to be a writer you need some coping strategies.

Today I had a piece of work turned down that I had high hopes for. My characters weren't just characters, they were alive and when I put them in perilous situations I worried about them. Like a reader I was eager to know what happened next. Signs that the work was good. At least that’s what I thought.  

Then I got a 'no' from the first publisher I approached and my head's down and I feel like a complete failure; doubting myself and my writing.

Whenever you get a knock back other writers may tell you to soldier on, get on with the writing. Good advice, but only once you've lost your tight grip on despondency that makes you feel like you’re choking, because you need to get it out of your system. You need a break. You've worked hard. You may not have got the result you wanted, but it's not through lack of effort.

Get on with my writing? I felt like throwing my laptop and notepads out of a window and jumping after them. Instead I went to a place out the way and smashed plate. And that's why I buy paper plates because there aren't many ordinary ones left.

There are other strategies to cope with getting a no that I use -
1. Re-read the rejection. Is there anything good you can take from this no? Was there anything positive said about your work? Was it 'well written?' Did the respondent ask to see more of your work - they wouldn't say that if they didn't mean it and your work was only fit for the trash.

2. Take a step away from your writing for at least 24hours. Read a book by your favourite author, watch mindless telly, play a game - hidden object or shoot up games are best. I play Grand Theft Auto and my goal is to go crazy with the flame thrower.

3. Look at past successes. Leaf through your copies of published work. Think back to the day you got that first yes and how it made you feel.

4. Write a blog post like this one to get your feelings out. Hey, it worked for me.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

The thrill of getting it written down

At the moment, I’m completely wired; like I’ve drunk tonnes of cans of Red Bull. I’ve been working into the wee small hours on a piece of work for the past few weeks and finally it’s time to send my baby off into the world.

Before the fear begins as I wait for a response, I’m just so hyper that I’ve got it finished. Exhausted but hyper.

This would seem like a good time to have a rest, get lost in someone else’s books (reading is my favourite leisure activity), but instead I’ll get stuck into writing something else because this is the best time to write: when you’re psyched up by what you believe is work well done and haven’t had a no. Yet.

Leave the writing to a time when it feels like all you’ve been doing is getting doors slammed in your face and told you're not worthy, and it will be like trying to go the wrong way up an escalator.

Monday, 19 September 2011

Why you need to care about your characters

I currently know there's…

A naked man tied to a bed with a ball in his mouth as a femme fatale with murder in her heart struts up and down the room deciding what to do to him.

A detective who thinks he's going nuts because his pal, who's been in a catatonic state since he was stabbed multiple times by a broken bottle, has begun talking to him something which only happens when no one is around.

A woman and her boyfriend who has just got into a car with Britain's first white suicide bomber who's chosen the wrong day: the zombies have arrived.

No, there's no need to call the authorities. These people aren't real; they are characters in novels I'm writing.

Characters they may be but they have become real to me. I care about them. I care what happens to them, which means when I leave them in a precarious situation I want to see what happens to them. I want to see how they get out of the mess I put them in.

If you're starting to think your characters aren't good enough, ask yourself: do I care about them? If the answer is no then maybe it's time to rip them up and start again because if you don't care about your characters why would anyone else?

Friday, 9 September 2011

The dreaded author photograph

The updated version of my bullying book is out and I hate the author picture. I wanted to look authorative, stylish, approachable.

Instead I look like none of those things. My head is so big I look like a Gonk* (a small, furry soft toy).

I read somewhere that readers like authors to look friendly, so you should smile in the picture. I tried that and ended up looking like a grinning buffoon.

I took the smile down a notch and realised I looked like the kind of woman who buried men under her patio. 

Not my author photo
Speaking to other writers I know I’m not alone in dreading that author picture.

The autors who actually seem to like theirs, or, at least feel okay about theirs, have:
  1. Gotten their photo done professionally.
  2. Or been born looking like a model.
How did my photo turn out? Guess you’ll have to buy the book.

But, I will tell you one thing – the picture was taken on a bad day and from my bad side not my good side. And, oh, since it was taken I have morphed into Jennifer Aniston.

To read more about Gonks, visit the Gonk Appreciation Socity on Facebook.

Friday, 26 August 2011

Anger Management

I realised I had an anger management problem when, during a particularly bad week, I tried to throw the telly out the window (without even opening it first). The reason, I couldn’t get the parental lock off the telly and I needed to do my exercise DVD to get fit and de-stress. 

An extreme reaction? You betcha.

After that I told myself I would never get worked up again.

The next day an email brought me more problems. I tried to reply to it. My phone wouldn’t cooperate, so I threw that across the room. Luckily, it wasn’t broken.

These incidents left me realising that I had let things get on top of me. One of the reasons was I was in a hurry to get things done.

Once, I managed to calm down, I made myself a vow - that I'd never let myself get that worked up again. This meant doing a few things -
  1. Not rushing to get things done. The people I was dealing with were taking all the time in the world, so why was I the one doing everything ASAP?
  2. Taking time to sit down and watch some old comedy videos/DVDs. Well, they do say laughter is the best medicine. I howled with laughter through The Office up until the first part of the Christmas special that had me thinking 'is this rally comedy?'
  3. Actually writing something I wanted to write instead of something I needed to. In my case that's The Waking Dead, my zombie novel set in Glasgow.
  4. Chasing my rescue dog Benjy around the room and basically crawling about the floor with him. Ok, I looked stupid when anyone came in, but I had a good time.
  5. Taking my Kalms. They have valerian that acts as a mild sedative.
Whatever you do to relax, remember you earnt it and you need it. Don't let it get to the stage where you're ready to throw a telly out a window that's not even opened.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Noir Nation Call for Submissions

Do you write crime fiction? You may be the writer Noir Nation are looking for you.

They'd love to get some more stories (including graphic stories i.e. comics) from the UK for Issue 2  (Issue 1 will be available Sept 1, 2011). They start reading for issue 2 on Oct 1.

Note - until October 1st, submissions will not be accepted.

This is a paying market.

The contact is Alan 

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Kick-starting Your Writing

Call it writer's block, call it hitting a brick wall. Whatever you call it, it's every writer's nightmare when the words won't come and writing anything is an effort.

We've all been there, but how do you dig yourself out of the hole you're in?

Here are some things I do you might find useful:

1. Stop at a question - is your character pregnant/dead/the killer/in a building that's about to collapse - leave your character on a cliff-hanger and you will want to know how that question is answered.

2. Leave your character in peril. They could be facing a gunman, about to fall down a cliff, be in a stolen car escaping from the cops.

3. Suggest characters are not who or what they seem to be. For example, the police come to protect your family in peril, but it becomes clear they are not the police.  This is a good plot move as it leaves a question - if they're not the police who are they and what's their motive.

4. Follow Stephen King's advice. Think about what should logically happen next. For instance, I have a character who's been manhandled into a van by 2 thugs and taken to a deserted location. She's saved when one of them turns out to be an undercover cop. My character didn't see it coming and to be honest, neither did I.

5. Write something ese. It doesn't matter what it is. This can get you writing again.

6. Watch something funny. You might find laughing inspires you.

7. Do some unusual research. I knew that I wanted my Kirsty character to jump out of a cake but when I tried to write it, it was dreadful. I did the research and it really helped me with the writing.

8. Ban yourself from writing anything at all for one day. There is nothing more guaranteed to make you want to do than telling yourself you can't.

Friday, 5 August 2011

Bullying - A Parent's Guide

Bullying - A Parent's Guide has been updated for 2011 and will be on sale on October 1st 2011, from Amazon, all good book shops and the publisher's website. RRPis £9.99.

The updated book focusses on cyber bullying at greater length and also offers tips on how to keep your child safe online.

I also make the point that even princesses can get bullied as Kate Middleton had to leave her school when she was just 13 because of bullying. Because of that she asked that as a wedding gift, people donated money to her favourite bullying charity.

The best advice I can give to anyone who is being bullied, is to tell someone - I know its difficult (hey, I've been there). Bullies lose most of their power when you tell someone.

I have also created a Facebook Page for the book.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Don’t make your characters stereotypes

Make him real, not a stereotype

I’m a woman, so I must like shopping, shoes and soaps. I must hate football, not know the offside rule and how to fix things. And of course, I abhor bad language as it offends my feminine sensibilities.

In reality, shopping is my idea of hell, I hate shoes and wear trainers all the time because I walk a lot and soaps, well as though I am as susceptible to big storylines as anyone, I can take or leave them.

I don’t just love football, I was a football journalist for years and I am the one who fixes things in our house.

I also (shamefaced) have done quite a bit of swearing in my time. Well, put it this way, if there was a swear box in our house, I’d be putting a heck of a lot more in it than my boyfriend.

Are you a stereotype? Chances are you probably are not. So, why should your characters be?

Make them different. Make them stand out. They can even be a contradiction. For instance, in the Harlan Coben Byron Molitar books his friend Win Lockwood looks like a soft rich boy, but he’s a violent man and a master in various martial arts.

Myron’s business partner Esperanza is a small, pretty Latino lady but she used to be a professional wrestler known as Pocahontas in the Fabulous Ladies of Wrestling.

Whatever you do, DO NOT make them a stereotype; don’t generalise.

Real life people aren’t stereotypes and you want to breathe life into your characters.  

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

If Choke Hold were a movie, Tarantino would direct

Sometimes you start to despair of the way women are portrayed in fiction. Even when they're the police officers in charge of major investigations they tend to be weighed down by child care arrangements and will they or won't they get it on with that colleague? You don't get that with male characters.
At times it seems that women are only defined by two things: motherhood and their relationships.
How refreshing it is therfore to read a book like Choke Hold by Christa Faust where the woman in it, the brilliantly named Angel Dare, is a person in her own right. She's not looking for the man of her dreams or looking to be a baby mamma. She just wants to stay alive and is feisty enough to do all she can, including using violence if need be.
If you think Choke Hold is the book for you, I've reviewed it at Shadowlocked. There's also a link in the review that will direct you to an excerpt so you can try before you buy.
This book is worth the money for the cover alone.
Released on 7th October 2011, priced £7.99

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Time saving devices cost you time

Don’t get me started on modern technology that’s supposed to save you time.

Yesterday, I was out and about when inspiration struck and I thought rather than doing what I normally do and writing in the notepad I carry around with me, that I would use the Notes facility in my Nokia 5800 Xpress Music mobile phone. That way when I got home I could synch it with my laptop as I’d done countless times before.

I tried it and the thing wouldn’t work. So, I went online looking for trouble shooting guides – you know the one the manufacturer didn’t think would be helpful to include with the phone.

Nothing seemed to work.

Five hours later, I’m snapping at my partner who’s only trying to help and have visions of taking a hammer to the phone and smashing it to bits, before setting it on fire.

In the end I did a factory reset and set everything up again from scratch.

Time consuming? Yes.  Did I get any writing done? Nah. I guess these time saving devices aren't as time saving as they claim.

A word to the wise to Nokia and anyone else making electronic devices: if you have a manual it’d better be concise. You know one that actually has a trouble shooting guide on it, instead of space being taken up with things like ‘don’t let your phone overheat’ (do they honestly think I was going to send it to the sauna) and ‘how to switch it on’ (doh, that’s too high tech for me).

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Some useful things every writer should have

A scanner pen
These are ieal for scanning text you need for research purposes and for working out the word count of articles and books. I have an Iris pen, but there are many more on the market.
Tip – make sure it will work on your operating system. For instance the Iris pen I have was bought when I had Windows XP, but it does work with my new Windows 7 laptop (although itv won't scan as much text as it would in XP)

A netbook/ipad
Perfect for those occasions when you want to travel light, but anticipate that you will be doing some writing.

A notepad with a light
Perfect when your OH is asleep and doesn’t want to be awakened by you scribbling down details of how to mutilate one of your characters.
A subscription to a writing magazine
Every single book I have had published (five so far and two on the way, including my first novel) has been down to reading about markets looking for writers in Writers’ News. It’s available on subscription although it comes with Writing Magazine. It’s a UK magazine, but they allow subscribers from abroad. Wherever you live there is bound to be a writing magazine.

Notepads and pens scattered around the house
Where do you get your best ideas: probably when you’re not sitting at your desk actually working? I have notepads and pens scattered around my house, including in the bathroom. There is nothing worse than coming up with a fantastic idea for an article or a scene in your book and not being able ro write it down.

Membership of a writers messageboard
Who else knows what its like to write, to send manuscripts to publishers and magazines and get a no? To have family who don't understand why you write? Other writers that's who. I belong to a site called Talkback and people are so helpful and friendly.

A dead Fred
To get me in the mood for writing crime I have a dead Fred pen holder. Reminds me of the outline of a body at a crime scene.

Some visual aids
To help me know where my characters are at any given time I use B Movie action figures that I bought on Amazon. Childish? Maybe, but when I’m writing about a group of characters I can tell where they all are.
Tip – Other, normal people may use pictures they’ve cut out of magazines and catalogues and say ‘this is what my character Bob looks like.’

A wee, happy dug to chase around the room
Writers can neglect their exercise. Having a dog who likes to be chased around the room at all times of the day and the night is the perfect way to make sure you don’t spend too much time on your fast expanding derriere.


Sunday, 26 June 2011

Don't Let The Bullies Win: How to get your Confidence back

Were you bullied and have you never got over it? Does it still haunt you today?

Do you want to know how to deal with bullying behavior in everyday life?

Then Don't Let the Bullies Win: How to get Your Confidence Back may be the book for you. It offers tips and strategies on  -

• How to stop blaming yourself for what happened
• How to stop bullying and bullying behaviour from ruining your life and your relationships
• Learning how to like yourself
• Standing up for yourself including how to say no to people
• Learning to let go of what happened to you
• Helping yourself to feel better without relying on others
• Facing up to the bully

The book is available in Amazon's Kindle store. You can view a sample before you decide to buy, so if you decide the book is not for you, you won't have lost anything.

Click here for the UK.

Click here for the USA store.

I am also the author of Bullying - A Parent's Guide which is out in paperback and Kindle in the UK and USA and available on Amazon and all good book shops.  

Click on the cover picture to view the paperback on Amazon, RRP £9.99. Note - this was updated in 2011 to cover cyber bullying. The book is also available on Kindle.


You can read excerpts from Bullying - A Parent's Guide by clicking on the topic -

Friday, 24 June 2011

Trouble at Twitter

I’ve been using Twitter for months now and I love the site. Having to say things in 140 characters or less is great practice for a writer. So too is getting to chat to people you would never get to meet on the non-cyber world.

Something happened to shatter my cosy image of Twitter. I got a message the other day.

It was from a direct message from someone I followed, saying that someone was posting nasty things about me on Twitter. There was a link in the DM that was sent straight to my email. I didn’t click it, because I knew something was wrong.

I am posting a copy of the message below (you'll need to click on it to make it bigger - trust me, this is safe) -

Note - I have blanked out the user names.

I looked on Twitter and couldn’t find any evidence of anyone bad mouthing me. Then I checked out the user who had ‘sent’ me the DM and it was clear from their posts that their account had been hacked.

I now believe the DM was an attempt to get me to click on a link that would put a virus on my computer.

Today, I got another one. This one read - “I can’t believe you posted this about me, i am so upset right now.”

Again, notice the inflammatory nature of the message. They want you to think something is up and click on that link without thinking.

How do you deal with this when accounts are being hacked and when on Twitter people post links all the time? I don’t honestly know. Having a good virus checker will help and using in regularly.

Protecting your password and changing it constantly, may also help.

From now on I will be very careful when it comes to Twitter and I hope you will too. Don’t let those spoilers waste it for you.  

Thursday, 16 June 2011

My double life

Okay, I admit it, I live a double life.

Not only am I someone who rambles on about writing a crime novel and other stuff like stiffing it to the man (see post about the power of Twitter), I am also the author of a book I wish had been out when I first became a vegetarian 25 years ago. 

It's called Living Cruelty Free and it does what it says on the tin. It's not just aimed at vegetarians or vegans. It's aimed at anyone who wants to live a kinder life: one that's kinder to people and animals. This can mean anything from not wearing fur, to eating free range and avoiding the cruelest things on the planet like Foie gras (geese and ducks forcefed until their livers swell to many times their natural size).

Here's a sneak preview of the cover of the book that will be published in January 2012, firstly as an ebook. Then later in 2012 as a traditional book.

I blog about the topics in the book at and also tweet as @veggiegirl2011

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

The power of Twitter

If you’re one of these people who underestimated the power of sites like Twitter (like I did), here’s a tale that might make you change your mind.

I changed my existing BT Broadband package to another one. I’d got a better deal than what I’d been paying before (I was paying more than anyone else I knew for my package) and was pretty pleased about it.  Then I got a letter from BT saying that as I had cancelled my contract ‘early’ they were hitting me with a whopping £100 charge.

I was angry about this for a number of reasons –
  1. As far as I was concerned, my contract was already up. BT had not told me any different when I changed my broadband package.
  2. I had NOT been warned about any charged before I switched. Customers should always be made aware of charges BEFORE they change not after.
  3. It wasn’t like I was changing from BT to another supplier.

I was so incensed about what had happened, I emailed BT and then tweeted about it.

Two hours later I got an email saying they had seen my tweet and the charge had been made in error and they would refund me.

I also tweeted about an Amazon order that had failed to arrive and was a week late. Initially, Amazon had told me that I needed to wait another week before I would qualify for a refund. After they responded to my tweet I got a refund within hours.

The thing I have learned from all this is when you feel you are treated unfairly by a company by all means gets angry about it. Scream, shout and then when your anger calms down, tweet about it. You may be pleasantly surprised by the results. I know I am.

P.S. If you want to follow me on Twitter my user name is @jenthom72

DI Duncan Waddell - Detective in a Coma Book 2

Who was Peg Entwistle the Hollywood sign (jump) girl?

I'd heard the story of the actress who's said to have jumped from the H of the Hollywood sign to her death. But until I watch...