Monday, 31 December 2012

My crazy writing year

On the face of it you'd think I'd had a successful writing year. With Living Cruelty Free out in Kindle and paperback, my zombie novel Dead Bastards astounding me by coming out before Christmas (thanks to the remarkable editing skills of my publisher Terry Wright) and Hell to Pay written and in the hands of my publisher (and more Die Hard for Girls books planned), it does sound good.
But, sadly this year has been a complete nightmare and one I'll be glad to see the back of, for a number of reasons -

1. Because of a Facebook page I set up for my bullying book, I found myself being cyber stalked by a crazy person and their family who'd send me harassing messages even when I blocked them.

2. Writing Living Cruelty Free meant looking at horrific images of man's inhumanity to man and animals. Some of those images and research I had to look at gave me nightmares. I sunk into a deep depression it took me months to get out of.

3. I found myself working 15 hours a day to promote/edit my books - yep, even on Christmas Day. I now find it difficult to sleep and my agoraphobia's got worse.

4. Sales of the books my publisher Need2Know decided to give away, free and unlimited (without telling me) for w YEAR have fallen through the floor. Before, one in particular, was selling steadily. No sales mean any royalties. No wonder I have to decide which room to heat. Anyone has this illusion of writers being wealthy should think again.

5. Thanks to the sock puppet scandal, I've had reviews from people who bought my books taken down on Amazon without explanation. The reason - they said in their reviews they were writers too. Like writers don't/can't read? It's hard enough to get reviews at it is without that happening. Ditto people who were bought my book as a gift because they weren't verified purchasers. Well, they wouldn't be - the books were bought by someone else for them.
Not that top authors who’ve already made a name for themselves will be affected; it will just be us little guys who don't have big publishing houses and the might of their publicity budgets behind us.

And, that's just my writing life. Oh, and the year started with a 3 day power cut - in an apartment, with no gas or coal fire.

So, let's raise a glass to 2013, may it bring us all better days.


Friday, 28 December 2012

6 Things every writer should know

I was first published when I was 15 and wrote a piece on superstitions for Jackie magazine. Over the years, though my writing, this is what I’ve learned -
1. Write as much as you can in as many different genres as you can. That way when opportunities present themselves you'll be ready. I know this from experience. In March 2011, I signed a contract to have my first work of fiction published, my novella How Kirsty Gets Her Kicks. For various reason it didn't happen. I also started a follow up book I called Die Hard for Girls. When I saw on Twitter that Sassy Books were looking for submissions, I tweeted the editor. Would she be interested in Die Hard for Girls that I'd since renamed Hell to Pay. She said yes and I submitted it and was offered a good royalty contract just days later.

2. That brings me to my second point - make sure you're on social networking sites so you'll see these opportunities. Without Twitter I'd have two books sitting in my unpublished file. Join great forums like Writer's News Talkback. Network with other writers. See an opportunity for another writer, let them know. They'll alert you to an opportunity you might have missed.

3. That brings me nicely to my third point - help other writers. Don't see them as competitors; see them as comrades in the trenches of writing. Help one another. Commiserate when things go wrong; celebrate their successes. Unless you do it can get lonely.

4.Learn to promote your books. You can't expect your publisher to place ads in the big newspapers. They only do that for the big names. As for you, a listing in their online catalogue is the best you can hope for. The plus side is that because you know your book so well you're the best person to promote it. I have Twitter, Facebook pages and dedicated blogs for Dead Bastards and Living Cruelty Free. The only cost to me was my time. I know doing this has sold books.

5.Don't ever tell yourself "I can't write in that." If a story comes alive in your head, go with it. I never thought I'd write a horror novel. Then this image came into my head of a man turning up at his friend's door looking like he'd been mugged. Only when he comes inside it becomes clear that his guts are spilling out and this is no ordinary mugging. When he dies and then comes back and tries to eat them, they realize that the zombies are here.

I just couldn't get this image out of my head of this guy's guts spilling out onto the floor and this Glasgow couple trying to scoop them up and shove them back in again, so I started scribbling away. And so, Dead Bastards was born.

6.Just because a publisher says no the first time doesn't mean you should give up. TWB Press who published my Glasgow zombie novel originally turned it down when I submitted it as a serial. I really admired the ethos of the company (no non-sense entertainment), so I worked on it some more and what was intended to be a 30k novella ended up a 70k novel (although over 10, 000 words were cut). The publisher Terry Wright liked it and wanted to publish it.


Friday, 14 December 2012

The zombies are on the move...

I was delighted to be invited over to the amazing McDroll's blog to talk about Dead Bastards and why I wrote it.

To read the piece, click here

McDroll's latest book is called Kick It With Conviction and is a collection of short stories. It's available on Amazon UK and USA.

To find out more about McDroll, click here.

Dead Bastards is available now from the following -

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Hell To Pay cover preview

Today, I got a sneak peek of my book Hell To Pay, which will be published by Sassy Books an imprint of JH Publishing next year.

I am so excited. What do you think?

When Nancy Kerr walks in on her parents’ killers, she’s raped and left for dead. Fourteen months later, she wakes up in a psychiatric hospital with no knowledge of how she got there. Slowly her memory starts to return. Released from the institution, she has just one thing on her mind – revenge.
Two men brought hell to her family home. Now they’re in for some hell of their own.
It's the first revenge thriller featuring Nancy Kerr and Tommy McIntyre.

2014 UPDATE  - after one of my worst experiences in publishing with John Hunt Publishing, I won the rights to Hell To Pay back. The book was relaunched with a new cover. 

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Dead Bastards (A Scottish zombie novel) is coming soon

----------Publication date to be announced------
Delighted to announce that my zombie novel set in Glasgow, will be published by TWB Press as an ebook. To find out more, please click on the book cover and while you're at it why not check out the other great books available.
I'm so pleased to be working with Terry Wright, proprieter of TWB Press, author, screenwriter and all round good guy who is one of the most enthusiastic people I've ever met.

Anyone who knows me will know I'm obsessed with zombies. In fact, I even keep one in my closet (okay, he's about 8 inches tall, is made of plastic and is battery operated, but Fester still tries to eat me).
P.S. No, that's not a picture of me on the cover. I'm much zombier looking.

UPDATE - IN December 2014, the book was renamed The Restless Dead and given a brand new cover. Check it out on Amazon. 

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Authors with small publishers to lose out as Amazon takes down reviews by other authors

Bet he doesn't need to worry about getting reviews:)

As an author I like to see reviews anyone has done of my books. I appreciate anyone who takes the time to read my books. Last night, I noticed some reviews had absconded.

I did a bit of checking and I found out that in response to a petition by 400 authors, Amazon had decided to remove any reviews from customers who were registered with Amazon Author Central - anyone who has a book published, whether it's traditionally published or self-published can set up an account so people can click on an author's name and see a list of their books.

I think this unfairly penalises authors like me who are with small publishers and those who are self-published.

This is unfair for a number of reasons -

1. Authors rely on peer reviews from other authors to get reviews. Readers say they'll do reviews, but they don't always find the time.

2.Authors read books too. They also buy books from Amazon. Why shouldn't they be allowed to leave reviews like anyone who's not an author can?

3.The reviews I did for books by the big publishers were left alone. In other words, Amazon operate a two tier system - if you're an author with a big publishing house you appear to be protected from review removal, but if you're not stuff you. Amazon can do what they like. 

At the moment, I don't think the same applies to the UK Amazon, but it's only a matter of time. So, if your reviews start to go missing you know what's happened. You could always complain to Amazon, but I've heard about people who have who've been warned that if they don't shut up and go away they're books will be taken off the site.

Better go now, off to see if Stephen King will endorse Hell To Pay I already have some amazing authors who've read it and agreed to endorse it. Watch this space...

Friday, 2 November 2012

So, you've written the book, here comes the doubt

You've got the publisher, written the book and now it's done.

There's no room for doubt.

You've done it.

You're an author.


You sent it to other authors for endorsements, your finger hovering over the 'send' button, heart beating like a klaxon because you're worried they'll say 'this is utter garbage, please don't write another word, readers need to be protected from your woeful writing.'

Ditto your publisher.

This is perfectly normal. Most writers have doubts.
For a number of reasons -

1. You're too close to your book. You've read it and edited it many, many times, analysed it, dissected it. No wonder you have doubts whether it's any good or not. Imagine if you did that with someone else's book that you were reading. Would you still like it as much?

2. When you read your book, you're reading it as an editor who's close to the work. You don't read it in the same way as you read other people's books or that people will read yours.

3. You're exhausted. All those hours working away into the wee small hours, of thinking about nothing but your book have drained you. You're not thinking straight.

Now you've written that book, take a rest. Read a good book. Relax. Chill out. You've earned it. 

Sunday, 21 October 2012

What's luck got to do with it?

The other day, I discovered I hadn't even been shortlisted in a novel writing competition I'd hoped to win. But, I shouldn't have been surprised.

This isn't the real lilac pen. I'm too superstitious to take a picture of it.

You see, when I recorded my entry in my diary, I didn't write it in my lucky lilac pen.

Let me tell you a little bit about my pen.

Every time I've written things down using that pen I've been lucky.

Lucky strike.1 - A publisher asks to see more of one of my novels.

Lucky strike.2 - Two days after sending my revenge novella Hell To Pay to Sassy Books, I sign a contract. The book will be out in 2013.

Lucky strike.3 - I noted the details of an idea for an article I sent to an editor. I got the commission.

Writers and their superstitions, eh?

I know I'm not the only one who's very superstitious when it comes to my writing. I have a friend who writes in longhand. Whenever he makes a mistake he scrunches up the paper and throws it in the bin then starts again.

Extreme? Maybe. But, we all have our ways.

Now, where's that lucky pen?

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Commissioning Artwork on a Budget by KeriLynn Engel

I'm delighted to welcome KeriLynn Engel to my blog.
In these days of self-publishing, finding someone to do the cover for your book can be a nightmare. That's why KeriLynn's fantastic piece is so topical.

Commissioning Artwork on a Budget

It can often be true that when buying a creative service, you get what you pay for.

An experienced professional who makes a living off their artwork is necessarily going to charge you more than a college student trying to make some cash on the side, and you’re more likely to have a smoother experience and more polished product from the experienced professional than from a part-time noob.

Still, as a writer, you know that countless factors go into determining a price for creative work. Just because someone is “cheap” doesn’t mean their work will be. It could just be they don’t need to make a living from their artwork and enjoy making affordable pieces for people on a budget! You never know.

There are ways to purchase creative services within your budget without sacrificing quality. It might require a little more work on your end, or a willingness to be a bit more flexible, but it definitely can be done.

If you think you’re stuck searching through endless pages of cheap stock photography looking for a model who’s “close enough” to the character you’ve envisioned so clearly in your mind for years, because you’re on too tight a budget to ever afford artwork commissioned just for you — that’s just not true.

I’m going to share with you a few tricks on using the magical power of the interwebs to find artists who will be willing to work with you within your budget to produce custom art you’ll love.

Budgeting & Payment

Firstly, you must have a clear idea of how much you’re able to spend on your art.

Some artists have their prices posted, and with your budget in mind, you’ll know right off the bat whether you can afford them. For the ones that don’t have prices posted, you can tell them exactly how much you’re able to spend. Then they can let you know whether or not they can work with you within your budget.

It might help to set up a savings account specifically for this purpose (or just for your book budget in general). I use for my finances, and they have a feature where you can set up savings goals for specific purposes. It lets you input a target date and amount, and lets you know what you need to do to get there. (I’m not an affiliate, I just really like Mint!)

Most artists accept payment via Paypal. The generally accepted practice is to put down a deposit or the entire payment upfront.

What if you fall in love with an artist outside your budget?

If they’re not TOO much outside your budget,  I would still contact them. Tell them how much you love their work, and be upfront about exactly what your budget is. Let them know you don’t expect a discount for no reason, but you want to know if there’s any way they can work with you. They might consider bartering services for part of the cost, or come up with other ways to accomodate you. Some artists might be insulted at this, but I think it’s worth at least asking as long as you make it clear that you respect their work and time.

Finding an artist


Etsy is known for having lots of sellers with handmade crafts, from the mundane (scarves, jewelry, purses, notecards), to the bizarre (check out for a laugh... some posts are NSFW).

It may surprise you to find out that Etsy has tons of artists and designers on it as well. Some sellers specialize in custom work like painting pet portraits from your photographs, or creating custom digital clip art or even logos.

Etsy used to have a feature called “Alchemy” where you could post a request for a custom item. Unfortunately, they discontinued Alchemy in February 2011, supposedly to revamp it, but there haven’t been any updates yet that I could find. Instead, they encourage you to find an artist you like and contact (“convo” in Etsy lingo) them to request an item.

Searching for an artist on Etsy

Etsy has a tag system for items — it works like tags for blog posts. Sellers can tag their items with any number of keywords, which makes it easier to search for them.

When searching for potential artists for your custom work, you could try searching for “custom art”, but then again you’re limiting yourself to artists who have done custom items in the past, or who have custom items posted. What if there’s an artist out there that perfect for you, but hasn’t done any custom work on Etsy yet?

Instead, try searching for the specific style you’re looking for. Some keywords to consider might be:

1. Oil painting
2. Character illustration
3. Digital art
4. Abstract painting
5. Steampunk art (or whatever genre you write in)
6. Romantic portrait
7. Paper art

Here’s a really cool piece of art I found with the last search: 2 ORIGINAL ARTWORKS Mr & Mrs Giraffe posing- Mixed Media, Hand Painted on 1922 Parisien Magazine 'La Petit Illustration' by Coco De Paris.

On the right side of the page, you can click on the artist’s shop name to see their storefront. Here you can read about them and see if they mention anything about custom work. This artist does paintings and illustrations over antique paper- love it! Doesn’t say anything about custom work, but you can always contact the artist using the “Contact” link on the left. Even if an artist has never thought about doing custom work before, they may be flattered you ask and excited about the prospect, so give it a shot!


Deviantart is a more well-known source for commissioning artwork.

It’s easy to browse or search through artists right from the front page. You can use the search bar on the top if you’re looking for something specific, or choose from categories on the left such as Digital Art or Traditional Art. In each broad category there are tons of subcategories, so it’s easy to get as specific as you’d like. You can sort your results by “Popular” or “Newest”.

Once you find a piece you like, view the artist’s page by clicking on the “More from [artist]” link on the right. From here, you can view their entire gallery of artwork. Contact the artist using the “Send a Note” link on the top-right (you’ll have to login first).

Sometimes the artist will say on their profile page that they do commissions. If not, don’t be afraid to contact them anyway and ask if they would be interested in doing a commissioned piece. You never know, they may have never thought about it before, or are dreaming about making money from their art but just don’t know how to get started! You might be the first one to make their dream come true =)

Other Sources

Even if you’re not quite ready to commission your artwork yet, or are still not 100% sure what you want, it helps to keep your eyes open for artists you like. You never know where you might come across the perfect one!

“I found out about Sarah Ellerton from her web comics. My boyfriend was the one who pointed out that she opened for commissions a few months ago, and when I saw her style, I knew it would be perfect for the book cover.” N. M. Martinez, author of Ruin

“I found the artist that I'm working with Lisa Falzon via an incoming link to my blog. I'd never heard of her before (sorry Lisa if you read this) but followed the link back to a post on another blog where she said in an interview that my blog was one of her favourites. I had a look at her art work after that and was hooked! I also immediately knew that she would be the perfect person to illustrate the cover of my upcoming book.”
Madame Guillotine, author of The Secret Diary of a Princess: a novel of Marie Antoinette

Advice from other writers
“My budget is about nil as I'm a housewife and mother, who fundamentally lives off my husband. However, I knew that having a good cover can really make a book POP and capture attention so was prepared to forgo a few shopping trips to make it happen. It's definitely something that should be done properly so I was prepared to save up and make some sacrifices for it!

“I think my main advice is that covers are very important and definitely worth doing as well as possible. I was lucky in that I found the perfect artist quite by chance, but if I hadn't then I would have asked around friends until I found someone who was right for the commission.”
~ Mme Guillotine

“Know how much you can spend. Make sure that you are very clear with the artist what you are going to do with it and what you want it for. Most of the time the prices artists list on their websites are for personal use only, not commercial use, but you can still get an idea of how much they charge from seeing the pricing on their work.

“Start a DA account and follow artists you think are interesting. I find DA a great place to find artists who do commissions, and it's easy to note them and ask more questions.
Also, pay attention to lesser known artists. Don't be afraid to approach an artist who doesn't have commissions listed. If you know what you want, be clear with the artist and ask if they'd do it for you. Maybe they won't, but maybe they've never thought about it because no one's ever asked them before.” ~ N. M. Martinez, author of Ruin

Your turn

Have you ever commissioned artwork before?
How did you find the artist? What was the process like, and what advice would you give to others?

About the Author
KeriLynn Engel is a writer, artist, knitter, and crazy cat lady with too many hobbies. She blogs about all the kick-ass women the history books left out at Amazing Women In History, and will be using the advice in this post for her upcoming book based on her blog. Follow her on twitter as @womeninhistory!

Monday, 1 October 2012

The Lady Astronomer by Katy O'Dowd

My good friend Katy O'Dowd, who works harder than anyone I know, has a book out.

Called The Lady Astronomer, the YA steampunk book is available in the UK and USA.

Here's the blurb from the publisher Untold Press -

"Lucretia's quiet life as an astronomer and hat-maker is quickly turned on its head by her brother. He is commanded by the king to build the grandest telescope in the land. Unfortunately for Lucretia, she is introduced to his majesty as her brother's assistant. Her nights spent on rooftops gazing at the stars are replaced by adventure and danger. In a race to build the Forty-foot telescope on time for the king, her misfortunes take their toll. When Lucretia finds herself held hostage at the Clockwork Court, the innocent country girl doesn't know who to trust. The lady astronomer finds court life to be more dangerous than she could have ever imagined. Even if her brothers manage to build the telescope on time, she might not live to earn her freedom.
With the help of her brothers, Freddie and Al, and her constant companions Leibniz the Lemur and Orion the Eagle Owl, Lucretia embarks on a journey that could change her life forever. Can she find the strength inside to balance her new life and overcome the obstacles threatening her destiny? Only the stars will tell."

To find out more about the lovely Katy click here to go to her web page.


Thursday, 27 September 2012

The good, bad and the ugly of social networking

These days, it's banged into writers that they need to get stuck into social networking, but it can be a minefield. And it can kill your writing.

Here are the things I've learnt -

The Good
The internet makes the world seem a smaller place. You get to meet people you might not otherwise meet (in the cyber world at least). It's a great place to meet other writers.

Through social networking, I've discovered markets (and competitions) for writers that I wouldn't have otherwise known about. Not just in the UK, but worldwide. This increases opportunities for writers. Now thanks to epublishing you don't need to live in say Australia to be published there.

As long as you set time limits, you don't need to spend hours on social networking. Twitter for instance can take no time at all and you can tweet when you're waiting at a bus stop.

You can join forces with another writer to write a book.

The Bad
Most people you meet on Facebook and Twitter are lovely, but there are some disturbed people out there. You may find yourself being cyber stalked.

Social networking eats into your writing time, big time. Sometimes you just have to pull the plug on your computer.

Having a presence on Facebook, Twitter and other sites can help you raise your profile, but I'm not sure it helps sell books. A blog - in my opinion and a website - is far more effective.

Sites talk big about all the precautions they take to stop bullying and harrassment, but often they are useless when you are targetted.

The downright ugly
There are trolls, or as I like to call them trawls because they trawl sites, especially Facebook and they deliberately set out to upset people.

For example, if you post something about racism they'll post a racist comment or say that black people are too overly sensitive about being called the n word. Note - this is a real example.

There are some seriously weird people online. Old men posting comments on sites aimed at kids. If that's not a paedophile alert I don't know what is. People paid by companies to post comments, who often don't even hide the fact.

Bullying A Parent's Guide is now out in Kindle in the USA and in the UK. Priced at £3.99.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Bullying A Parent's Guide Now out on Kindle

When I wrote Bullying A Parent's Guide, I wanted the book to be available to as many people as possible because I genuinely believed I wrote a book that would help bullied children and their parents.

So, I'm delighted to announce that the book is now available on Kindle in the UK, priced £3.99.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Royalties v flat fee

Today, I was asked by a writer friend, who'd been offered the choice of a percentage of royalties or a flat fee for his book what he should do.

So far I've had six books published, all a mixture of advance and royalties and just flat fees.


Flat fee
The book that has sold the most copies, took 2 weeks to write, but was my own concept. It has sold in the tens of thousands and is still in print over a decade later and still selling.

I was paid one thousand pounds to write it and it's made the publishers many times that amount.

There are days when I regret not pushing more for royalties (the publisher commission most of their books on a flat fee basis), but I estimate that in total, including the fee, I've made three thousand pounds from this book. This extra two grand came from articles I sold to magazines and newspapers on the back of the book.

I was paid an advance of 500 pounds for my second book and given royalties. The book took months to write and was very stressful. The topic gave me nightmares.

So far, I estimate I have made round about 4 thousand pounds from the book. I've had to do a lot to promote it and a huge chunk of that money has come from the PLR and ALCS.

Without that money the reward for so much work would be an insult. Well, at an income of four thousand, I estimate I made less than a pound an hour. Only a writer would work for that!

So, what would my advice be -
If you want a guaranteed fee, opt for the flat fee. But, only if it's FAIR.

I would still always try and get royalties and an advance. Your book might sell well, like my flat fee one did. But, remember, with royalties you will be relying on the publisher to actually sell your book. Of course, you need to be proactive there too.





Friday, 7 September 2012

Great things about being a writer

One of my books, Living Cruelty Free at the Frankfurt Book Fair

Okay, I hold my hands up. There has been some complaining of late from me about how tough it is to be a writer with publishers giving your books away free without telling you and creepy people cyber stalking you.

So, I reckoned it was about time to look at the good stuff.

1. You can look up any website and claim its research. Last night I searched for 'how to kill someone and get away with it.' If the police think I'm up to something, I have a ready-made excuse, 'I'm writing a book' even if I am plotting murder:) Only kidding.

2. You get to develop multiple personalities without ending up on medication.

3. You can sit doing nothing for ages and still say you're working. Well, you can't expect those plot knots to unknot themselves.

4. If you're life is depressing you can create a better one. Become a character you’ve created. Immerse yourself in it. Live in it.

5. You can get revenge on anyone you like by having something awful happen to them in your book, and there's not a thing you can do about it. A dentist who was horrible to me, was eaten by his dogs, penis and all. I did change his name.

6. You will never be alone. You have all those characters to keep you company.

7. You can change the world; mould it into whatever you want. Create happy endings. Make sure the bad guys (or girls) get their comeuppance. Things you don’t get to do in real life.

8. There is no better feeling that a parcel coming containing the books you have lovingly crafted.

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Things I wish they’d told me about being a writer

1-You will see the world in a way that others will find extremely disturbing. To others an ice pick is for breaking up ice, to me, it's a potential weapon for my main character in Hell to Pay to use on the most vulnerable part of her attacker's anatomy.
Sadly, I don't earn as much as this guy. I wish.

2-Non-writers think you earn way much more than you do. That you're in Stephen King's league and if you're not they think your writing can't be that good. Well, it's easy to make money writing. No, sadly it's not.

3-When you try and build a platform for yourself to promote your work, you may attract unwanted attention. See Sinister side of Facebook post.

4-You'll have a deathly pale pallor from all those hours sitting in the near dark, crouched over a laptop/scribbling away. People will keep saying, 'Are you ill?'

5-You'll develop a belly from all that sitting down writing. There's no time for exercise unless it involves walking the dog. Well, he listens to you outlining possible plots (with his ears plugging up his lug holed).

6-People will think you're being rude when you don't acknowledge them, when you're really preoccupied with working out how your character can get away with killing someone.


Monday, 27 August 2012

The sinister side of Facebook

A few months ago, I set up a page for my bullying book, Bullying A Parent's Guide, on Facebook. I did this for two reasons - to help promote the book and two, to stimulate debate about bullying, a subject I feel very passionate about.

I was not prepared for what happened next.

The page started well, with people who had been bullied as I had (that's what inspired me to write a book I really felt would help those being bullied and their families) telling their stories. I thought, 'great, this is why I set up the page.'

Then someone who was a stranger to me, posted about their child being bullied and adults who could and should have helped not helping. Of course, I was sympathetic. I left the post up, as they'd named no names. If they had, it would have been deleted.

There's some creepy people on Facebook

Then all the craziness started.  Another person I didn't know posted and complained about me not deleting the first comment, saying it was aimed at them, which meant they'd named themselves. I ignored it. The person who wrote the first comment had named no names, as far as I was concerned it was a legitimate comment.

The complainer then sent me an aggressive message demanding I take down the comment. I politely told them the person who'd written the comment had named no names, that they'd done it themselves. They could delete their own comment, if they wished.

Then the personal and public slagging match between these two people began with the complainer doing most of it. ON MY PAGE In exasperation, I deleted the comments and blocked the two people. This was difficult to do as from what I could tell the complainer had four different aliases/made up names. At least. I'd block one then more bullying/aggressive messages/comments would turn up.

The last came yesterday, demanding that I block someone from the page (this person was a friend and one of the nicest people I know), despite the fact, they'd done nothing wrong. I deleted the message, as I will with any other nasty messages I get from them.

I've now been forced to ban people who are not friends from posting, because this person's aliases keep turning up, again with comments aimed at an individual who’s child was bullied.

What have I learnt from this whole episode?
Apart from the fact that there are some people in urgent need of psychiatric care on the Internet (I'm not mocking anyone) and that total strangers can have you dreading logging into Facebook, I've discovered that Facebook should really come up with a f**k off button, because there are some people who really do need to be told where to go. Sad, I think, but true.

Note - this is an abbreviated version of what's been going on, as it would take too long to go through it step by step, not to mention bore the pants of you:)

Tips for posting on Facebook
Don't post anything you wouldn't happily let anyone read. If you do, delete it as soon as you can. Don't leave it and bitch about it as though it's someone else's fault YOU posted it.
Don't harass a writer on FB or you may find your way into their next book. The last person who annoyed me, was eaten by his own dogs.

Maybe this is why I write revenge fiction like Hell to Pay and How Kirsty Gets Her Kicks, because in my books the creeps always get their comeuppance.
 Bullying A Parent's Guide is now out in Kindle in the USA and in the UK.



Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Hell to Pay Publication (cue, happy dance:)

If you see this logo, it's a sassy book.

I'm delighted to have signed a contract with Sassy Books today for my revenge thriller Hell to Pay.

Here's a taster of what to expect -

Nancy Kerr refuses to be a victim. She walks in on her parents’ killers and is violently raped and left for dead. Fourteen months later, she wakes up in a psychiatric hospital with no knowledge of how she got there. Slowly her memory starts to return.

Released from the institution, she has just one thing on her mind – revenge.

Two men brought hell to her family home. Now they’re in for some hell of their own.

If I had to describe this brand of fiction, I'd call ir Die Hard for Girls. The novel's aimed at those of us who like our heroines sassy and kick ass.

Hell to Pay will be published in 2013.

Monday, 6 August 2012

www.con – 4 ways to spot a vanity publisher

Don't get your pocket picked by a vanity publisher

1. Their email address is a free one like a yahoo or gmail account.

Reasoning - a legitimate company should own their domain name i.e.
2. There's no phone number or when you call, it rings out and nobody answers it.
Reasoning - reputable companies will always have a phone number you can call, so you can ask them questions. Those that don't aren't to be trusted.

3. They'll mention money. You giving them money. This may be for things like 'photocopying fees,' or 'administration fees.' They may also ask for a 'reading fee.'

Reasoning - Genuine publishers don't ask you for money. Vanity publishers do.

4. They'll say they welcome all submissions and there seems to be no restrictions on what they 'publish.'

Reasoning - Genuine publishers are very picky about what they publish. They have to be to invest their time and money in a particular book.

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

She was wearing a violent jumpsuit...

Yes, really.

The kind of jumpsuit that'd banjo you if it saw you.

Aim a karate chop to your throat.

Kick your head in.

Strike you down.

At least it would have been a violent jumpsuit if I hadn't noticed it during editing my novel.
Watch out, her jumpsuit may be violent.

You see, that's why editing's so essential. Without it, you make mistakes and if a publisher/agent/reader spots that mistake, they will start to doubt every single word they read.

Editing that novel or article can be a lengthy process, but it's a vital one unless you want a woman in a violent jumpsuit instead of a violet one.

Editing Tips

Look out for words you use excessively often. Me, I'm a just gal. With most words, you can delete them or replace them. It may help to use a word cloud or a tool that counts the instances of words.

Speech marks. Decide on single or double and stick to that. Give yourself a style guide and stick to that.

The more descriptive the words the better. For instance, trudge is better than walk, mumble is better than talk quietly. Are there words you can replace for better words?

Do you have speech tags for every, single bit of dialogue? You shouldn't need to say 'he says/she says' all the time. Often you can let people know who's speaking with them doing something. For instance - Sally wheezed. 'I'm giving up the cigarettes.'

Sunday, 3 June 2012

The reality of life as a writer

When people imagine the life of a writer they probably think that you sit under a shady tree on a hot summer’s day thinking about your wonderful purple prose and then go home and write a book in a week that tops the bestseller lists and goes onto earn you JK Rowling style riches.

But here’s the reality for most of us -

People will keep asking you when you will get a ‘proper job.’ This happened to me five minutes ago.

You may find yourself eating spaghetti with gravy for Christmas dinner with a duvet wrapped around yourself to keep warm, because you can’t afford to pay the electricity bill. This happened to me.

You will spend most of your time looking at your writing and seesawing between ‘this is brilliant’ and imagining who will play your brilliant characters in a movie (I want Kevin McKidd to play the suicide bomber Doyle in Deid Bastards), to ‘this sucks.’ Most of the time you will be thinking that it sucks. This is currently happening to me.

You’re partner/husband/wife may leave you because you don’t pay them any attention/won’t make dinner/fix that door/you didn’t pay that final demand and you may not notice for days because you’re too busy finishing that last chapter. This will eventually happen to me.

Your cat or dog may start to nibble on your toes because you haven’t fed him for a week and you may be too busy working on that last chapter to notice. I hope this doesn’t happen to me.  

DI Duncan Waddell - Detective in a Coma Book 2

What to do when your phone is stolen

I've been lucky in that I've never had my phone stolen, at least until last weekend. At first I thought I'd droppe...