book tags · Just For Fun

Hocus Pocus Writing Tag!

IT’S ALMOST HALLOWEEN!

Scorpio season, spooky season, the “excuse to watch Halloween movies every day” season.

In honour of the best Halloween movie, HOCUS POCUS, Kim Chance and Destiny Murtaugh have created the Hocus Pocus Writing Tag! Huzzah!

The tag is filled with questions that are all related to Hocus Pocus, and writing combined!

Let’s get into it, shall we sisters?

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THE QUESTIONS

1. Sarah, Mary, & Winifred Sanderson: Being a witch is hard, but so is writing. If you had magical, witchy powers what aspect of writing or what part of the process would you magically skip over?

The second or third drafts.

Don’t get me wrong I love editing – but it’s the progression of “this might work” – “no wait this might work!” that I don’t get along with. I would much prefer to have the shitty first draft then instantly know how to make it refined, polished, and multi-layered without the time-consuming months of in between.

2. Max and Dani: What relationships tend to be at the core of your books? Friends? Family? Romance?

Friends – found, established, unlikely or otherwise – united by the same mission: whether it’s revenge, truth, secrecy, there’s always a friendship at the heart of it. Sometimes it turns romantic, other times it’s just buddies fighting the good fight.

Also unhealthy friendships. In one or two books I wrote, there was an obsessive quality to two friendships, and I like exploring that.

3. Amuck, Amuck, Amuck!: How do you approach the chaos that is drafting? Are you a plotter, a pantster, or a combo of both?

At first I was a pantser. Now I’m a plotser. I tend to have an outline of what I want to write, but when intuition takes me on a certain road, I tend to obey it. It might not work, but on the occasions it DOES work it opens up a hell of a lot more interesting layers and insights into character.

4. I Put a Spell on You: How do you deal with book ideas that want to pull your focus from your main WIP?

Ah. This happens often. Usually I play around with the idea, write it down, throw a few characters, dialogue scenes, pinterest board. I allow myself a day or weekend to play.

THEN I IGNORE IT.

I can’t focus on more than one idea at a time and do the projects real justice, so I tend to mark it in the shiny box and wait until I have the mental capacity to write it.

5. Thackery Binx: Things aren’t always what they seem–Think back to when you first started writing to where you are now. How has your process transformed from then to now?

I took a lot longer back then. I had so many ideas and crammed them all into the same MS. I used to give up editing about draft two, and then figure that was okay. (it was not okay).

Otherwise the process of ideas and ruminating with them generally remains the same. I get feedback a lot more, and I can see my writing improving with every project.

6. My Lucky Rat Tail: Do you have a writing ritual? If not, what are some of your favourite writing tools?

I don’t have a ritual usually. I normally have a drink, usually it’s tea or coffee, and I light a candle before every writing session but that’s just for atmosphere and good scents ^_^

7. Boooooookkk: Favorite Writing Craft Book?

The Emotion Thesaurus! Full of different ways to show and describe people’s feelings without having to write “X is sad”

8. Another Glorious Morning: Do you enjoy writing in the morning? Or do you prefer the evening, like Winnifred?

Winnifred’s my girl, I prefer evening no doubt. Everything I need is done for the day, I don’t have the worry of not doing housework, or having to do something else. It’s just… me. The dark. And my thoughts.

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9. The Black Flame Candle: What’s one of the biggest mistakes you’ve made so far in your writing journey? OR What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned?

Biggest lesson is to get some trusted CP’s because they are INVALUABLE. Also to read more than I write. Devour everything, no matter what genre, just expand my tastes.

10. Billy Butcherson: What’s a trope that most people hate, but you love and would like to see “come back from the dead”?

I love a good hidden identity trope. Like “he was the prince all along!”. It’s not quite dead, but I really enjoy it when it’s done well.

11. Come Little Children: Songs that give you a “hypnotic” focus when writing? I.e., fav songs on your writing playlist.

Firstly – I adore Come Little Children. It’s got the same tone as Once Upon A December for me.

My playlist changes with each project but currently it’s:

Rauha by Lasse Ennersen
You Had To Go And Spoil It by Steven Price
Kill V Maim by Grimes

WHAT ABOUT YOU?! I TAG ANYONE WHO WANTS TO DO THIS! LINK BACK TO YOUR POSTS IN THE COMMENTS, I WANT TO READ!

Many thanks to Kim Chance and  Destiny Murtaugh for the inspiration!

xox

TBR lists

Update & TBR Tidy Up

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged about anything… at all. I haven’t finished reading a book since the PitchWars picks were announced in August.

THIS WILL CHANGE. I’m 90% through The Hate U Give and I have other lovelies waiting on my TBR. However… I still need to get this stuff down.

So! Back we go, down the TBR hole, clearing out the 266 titles remaining.

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THE RULES

  • Go to your goodreads to-read shelf.
  • Order on ascending date added.
  • Take the first 5 (or 10 if you’re feeling adventurous) books
  • Read the synopses of the books
  • Decide: keep it or should it go?

 

19536990

 

Hmm. Hmmmmmmmm.

This sounds fascinating. It’s got Zimbabwe history, folklore, tourists, murders. I’m hoping to get more diverse reads in next year so

KEEP

 

 

 

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Ok so this cover does NOT reveal it’s about aliens and mind control. From this you’d think it was a nice, magical-realism or contemporary romance or something, but no. It’s aliens. And it’s about Special Characters Who Don’t Conform.

Getting rid.

 

 

 

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Honestly, I’m not sure if I want to absorb a government conspiracy, kamikaze bird novel soon but I can see my friends dig it. So I’m going to

KEEP

 

 

 

 

 

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I’ve heard so many things about this particular book and I’ve heard of the author. Another government thing, maybe I was on a destroy-the-government high when I added the last two books?

KEEP

 

 

 

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Oh my god, assassin girl?! Yes please.

Again with the government thing, though…. still

KEEP

 

 

 

 

I’m not doing a very good job of getting rid of things, am I?

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This is a book 2. Of a series I don’t even read. Why did I put this on?!

NOPE SORRY

 

 

 

 

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Ok so…. this sounds good? It’s set in a graveyard about a girl with powers and her reaper cousins. I like that spooky shit. Nobody I know has read it but I might give it a go if I can find a copy.

KEEP

 

 

 

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As much as I LOVE witchy books I’m not sure that this is something I’ll ever get to.

NOPE

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I’m not convinced. I don’t even know what the premise is. All I know is walled city and coming back changed? That doesn’t tell me anything.

Sorry, NOPE

 

 

 

 

24378570

 

This includes revenge and Australia and it’s historical fiction but I honestly believe I’ll take up other historical fiction before I read this so, sorry but you gotta go.

NOPE

 

 

 

 

OKAY. SO that’s a bit better, got rid of more this time than previous rounds. My New Year’s Resolution is to buy a book a month from a physical store – something an agent on Twitter said would help secure the business if everyone who wrote, edited or agented a book actually did it. I hope to get to some of these!

PitchWars · Writing Advice

#PitchWars Homework & Resources

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I’m not going to lie, being a part of PitchWars 2017 is a freaking amazing experience so far. The camaraderie, the unison, the fact it’s a dedicated hub of writers on the same stage as you… it’s incredible for resourcing, vibing off others, and generally making invaluable friends.

PitchWars is definitely *not* just about making a book shiny before you go in front of agents.

PitchWars is about learning another side to writing – refining your craft and increasing your discipline so you can cope with whatever future editors (or agents) throw at you in a short space of time. It hones your skills of timekeeping, organising, and yes – even stressing.

There are plenty of hints and tips passed around the writing community but it all depends on what works for you – here’s a list of things which could be a good start to search for if you’re struggling with revisions, either in or out of PitchWars;

SAVE THE CAT beat sheet (plus various others)

This is a basic layout of story structure – according to your word count, it advises what beats are hit at numerous points the story and an approximate idea of when to time them. The structure of it is detailed and fits many stories out there, but it’s a great start to see how many stages your MS meets and within what context – whether it’s all in the first 25% (bit bad) or whether you leave it all til the last 10% (also bad)

THE EMOTIONAL CRAFT OF FICTION by Donald Maas

This is a good resource to use if you’re wondering the benefits of showing vs telling and also want some handy examples from literary greats along the way. It poses the opinion that we, as readers, will not care about the characters or feel emotional about them if emotion isn’t evoked during pauses and other devices explained here. Good read!

TIP! – Read the beginning pages of cross-genre category novels

Something I’m doing as part of my homework is to read the first few pages of YA novels, cross-genre so not just Fantasy. See what parts work for me, which ones don’t grab me, and analyse why. It doesn’t have to be fancy but definitely put some thought behind it.

OUTLINE SPREADSHEETS – word counts, chapter-by-chapter, plot points

There’s plenty of resources out there for spreadsheets, and in the mentree group we’re sharing around our own to be of use to various stages. The first stage I’d recommend doing is a play-by-play outline of your novel. You can do it in excel or other, but this is a good tip I found worked for me.

First column, put in your chapter number.

Next column, sum up each chapter in a sentence or two, no need to go into detail.

In the next column write in which POV your chapter is in.

In the next column, write in your word count for that chapter.

This is optional, but effective if you’re using the Save the Cat sheet which calculates your hit-points based on words and chapter. In a fifth column, make a sum (eg =SUM(D5;E4) ) which will total up your word count from all previous chapters.

Here’s an example below!

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These are just a very few, basic things to consider if you’re going through your own revisions and need some guidance to help. I’ll be updating more about PitchWars the more the edits go on!

x

aspiring authors · Writing Advice · Writing Method · writing process

On Writing: Vulnerable or “Quiet” POV

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The best piece of writing advice I got when first starting off in switching up Points of View was to imagine a pair of glasses, – my book’s world would be viewed through those glasses, and POV was basically as though one character had taken those glasses and put them on.

What would you see through those glasses? What would they take in first? How would they feel? Probably not the same as all the others.

If there’s one huge importance in books with Multiple POV, it’s the fact each POV has to  bring something distinctive to the table.

If every single POV is going to be the same type of thought – the same personality, the same opinion on everything, then the reader will get muddled up. The temptation, then, is to make every single character’s POV absolutely larger than life or very much stark contrasts to each other, which in theory can work. But most books benefit from the vulnerable, or ‘quiet’ POV, where the character may not be the most talkative or the boldest, but rather offering a unique perspective.

POV is all about highlighting the nuances of what makes that character valuable to the story and different to the others.

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If you have a major cast with distinct personalities then switching up POV will work absolute wonders. In my recent YA Fantasy I have three POV. The only reason I went with three for mine and not two, was that I knew each of them would bring a totally different opinion and nuance / arc to the major plot.

There’s one who has magic, but doesn’t know how / why, initially quiet after living a sheltered life and very sensitive.

There’s one who knows how to use her magic, a determined force of nature, steel of heart and sarcastic.

And then there’s one who has no magic at all, breaks tension with humour, and is braver than he believes.

Their individual arcs and development shines through each POV – all of them start at one particular part of their personality and end at a totally different, or evolved state of their beliefs.

But what of the quiet POV? The first one, who’s very naive in some ways, contemplative and shrewd, who isn’t aware of the wider world and is a sensitive soul. They see a different part of the world when it’s revealed to them than the others who’ve walked the paths before. Their own view is in contrast to the others – their goal is also naturally different by default, from their position as a quieter person.

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“But quiet characters are boring!” Not so. Rather, they can be the epitome of “it’s the quiet ones you’ve got to watch out for”. There’s a reason strong silent types draw in mystery, and you can have fun with them. What they can witness  while being a strong silent type, or even a nervous silent type, can bring a deeper sense of the situation, things unseen or unnoticed by the brasher characters, which gives the reader even more depth of space in your world.

I really appreciate a sensitive or quiet POV, because when everything is blowing up and you have characters screaming at the sidelines, sometimes you need a port in the storm to catch your breath. A quiet POV can bring that balance, and more importantly that deeper sense of self, which enriches the story you’re trying to create.

So, celebrate the tiny voice! Celebrate the person who prefers to text than talk, or speaks only when they have something to say, rather than to fill a silence. They’ll be someone’s favourite, I guarantee it.

Book Things · positive posts · Random Musings · Writing Advice · Writing Method

Top 3: Tips For Making Your Writing Life Easier.

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Now, a lot of these things will just be general common sense, but I understand as a writer, we can sometimes lose sight of what is reasonable. We put so much pressure on ourselves, even the slightest slip can seem like we’re doomed to failure. So here is my top 3 list of things which has worked so much for me, and which you can use to hopefully feel better about your writing journey.

 

1. Find a routine that works for YOU.

There’s a lot of hoo-haa about having to write every day. It’s true, if I write a little each day it keeps the mental demons at bay, for if I go a few days or longer without putting fingertips to keyboard or pen to paper, I feel like there’s a backlog of words trying to get through. This does not make for a happy Jade, but the second I write again, it’s like someone removed the grey clouds and everything goes back to being normal.

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But writing every day sometimes isn’t plausible, and writers shouldn’t feel guilty if they’re unable to do 500 words or so each afternoon. There’s so much additional stuff to worry about in today’s society, more responsibility which divides our attention, it can be really difficult to maintain a groove which allows for savoured writing time.

While you shouldn’t ignore the hard work which goes in to writing, it’s probably going to work a lot better if you put in that effort at a dedicated time where you know you can manage an uninterrupted hour to focus on your MS. For instance, if you know you generally have a quiet morning on a Wednesday, or that most of your errands take up your Saturday morning, work around it.

Short version: Don’t worry if you can’t make it every day. Do what you can. A stressed writer is not always a good one, so give yourself a break, as long as you keep going afterwards!

2. Create a System for Recording your Ideas.

Now – this can take many forms and it depends on how you get your ideas. Some get them by asking “what if?” scenarios and writing a concept, other writers may just have flashes of inspiration and have to write it on a napkin. Personally, mine can strike any time, without warning, like lightning, and often I’ve had recent ideas in my sleep. But whatever your method, try to figure out how you can record these ideas without losing those inspired tid-bits of story.

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My main advice is, don’t be like me and have 500 separate word documents (okay, maybe an exaggeration, it’s like 100) per project with single paragraphs, sentences, speeches, ideas for scenes, linking passages of time – and then name them something which doesn’t make sense, and worse – don’t put them in a folder all together, meaning you lose hours trying to find that one bit you remember writing months ago.

Ideally, if you write an idea on your phone, put it with the rest of the stuff later. Or create a ideas pile where you can easily flick through to see what your brain told you yesterday. If you have an idea while napping, keep a dream diary.

3. Create REASONABLE Goals.

Unless you are some form of far superior being who turns coffee into words at a rate of 100 per minute, you will not be able to write a cohesive novel of 70,000 words in 5 days.

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That’s why NaNoWriMo gives people a month to do 50k, and even then not everyone makes it.

As mentioned before it’s easy to feel pressure to perform well, and to the best of your ability, or else feel like you’ve failed. So, the only way to keep the demon of self-doubt at bay is to make sure you’re not stretching yourself, and within the routine you’ve already procured, see what you can achieve.

Start small, maybe? A chapter completed in 2 weeks. 100 words before you shut down the computer and go to bed. Then you can see how far increasing it gets you, like 1000 words a week, or something similar.

It’s better if you sort of leave timing out of agenting, editing, etc while you’re writing because there is no guarantee at all how long any of the process afterwards takes place. Focus on what you can control, and that is definitely how much you want to write by such and such a day.

I had the unfortunate thing of moving a deadline for myself, not because I didn’t put the work in when I could, but because Real Life had decided to throw everything at me in one lump sum. So prepare for life’s little surprises by reducing the amount of stress you’re creating for yourself. If you miss a day, you won’t feel like you’re missing “finalize 5 chapters” and have to rush to catch up.

Be kind to yourself!

OH! AND A CHEEKY 3.5

Talk to people. Other writers, ideally. Build up a tribe of like minded individuals who get you, acknowledge your struggles, support you, and support them in return. This is invaluable. What you’ve experienced, you can share your wisdom. Vice versa. Writing careers are solitary only when you’re *actually* writing. The rest of it requires a heck of a lot of patience, and understanding friends to make it bearable.

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The writing community is amazing, supportive, and there for you. Reach out if you need to! ❤

 

 

positive posts · Random Musings · Writing Advice

Productive-Positive Diary.

 What happens when Life™ creeps up on you from behind and waggles a list of responsibilities in front of your face?

Either you smile, and go “oh yes I’ll get right on that!”.

For those who are more stressed, you may go “agh shit right, yeah, in a second”.

Or, if you’re a writer with a deadline, you’ll likely go….

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Social and personal responsibility wouldn’t usually strike me with such fear, but the moment I settle down to write and then look at my diary with “DOCTOR 3.20pm” I instantly remember everything else I was meant to do, such as send letters, emails, pay bills, respond to friends and actually keep my house in some semblance of order.

I’ve tried to start managing with To-Do lists. At first, this only served to make my anxiety worse because it demonstrated just how much I actually hadn’t done in between doing everything else.

My solution? Have-Done lists. Not an exhaustive list of things I feel obligated to do, or the routine things that can sometimes be left til last minute – no. This is a general list of things I HAVE done, which make me feel proud and accomplished, and it’s a good way of feeling like you’ve been productive in some way.

It could be simple self-care, like “took a shower” or “took meds”. Because self-care is important. Notes can be “wrote 250 words” – whether they sucked or not.

But I find the more positive I’m being about what I’ve achieved in the day rather than what I’ve forgotten, the more it boosts my mood and puts a much better spin on it than an imaginary Principal Strickland shouting “Slacker!” at me.

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When I tackled some readings, videos, Critiques and other general bits and pieces, writing them down as completed almost felt like a weight off my shoulders. Much more so than staring at a list with lines through it.

The little I do still matters. And it builds strength enough to tackle the bigger things that might slip by due to tiredness, forgetfulness, or simple avoidance of doing the thing. Almost like a productive-positive diary.

I’m going to (try) and start doing this every week on this blog. Even if it’s “read 100 pages” or something similar, I think it’ll be fun to keep track.

Do people already do this? Does it help others?

Channillo · The Silent Town

New “Silent Town” Chapter

The adult paranormal / supernatural / romantic / weird-crime-thriller story I began on Channillo is set to continue!

After months of being unable to write the second chapter for several reasons, The Silent Town will now have monthly chapter installments – beginning with Chapter Two tomorrow!

In chapter one, we meet Arthur and his brother Mort, who both work at an intelligence agency. Arthur has set his secret-agent brother up with the perfect cover story to infiltrate a notoriously shielded town, crawling with suspicious activity. After Mort gets into trouble just as the mission’s due to start, Arthur goes rogue and takes his place in order to save him.

It’s a story I’ve wanted to tell for so long, and am now so happy that I have both time and energy to do so.

To read the chapter and see what Channillo is all about, click here!

Book Things · jadewritesbooks · Just For Fun · Random Musings · writers · writing

New Year’s Resolutions & 2016 Revelations

2016, as many people have lamented, has been a tough year. Struggles from political angles, personal angles, widespread problems, uprisings, civil unrest, media turning a blind eye to bigger issues – very trying year indeed.

It’s no wonder many of my friends have said they haven’t achieved as much as they wanted to this year. And for me it’s the same.

Except I didn’t want to focus on the terrible things which happened this year. I wanted to focus on the joy. I may have had an operation, I may have had to walk away from a stupid man who caused me upset, I may have had to deal with depression and anxiety diagnosis – but there have been moments of pure joy too.

So here is a list of great things which happened this year which is greatly influencing my 2017 goals:

  1. Had my gallbladder whipped out so I could eat pizza and other normal food again
  2. Ma and I beat the man* and may actually get a break for a bit
  3. We also went to Stratford Upon Avon to visit Ma’s birthplace and found the most giant scones ever.
  4. Dear friend Amanda came back over to Eng-a-lund after 4 years and we finally entered the TARDIS!
  5. Discovered four wonderful new female authors, all of whom have actually spoken to me. I did not pee.
  6. Started dancing with Kiah and made a right fool of myself at Salsa. Still can’t bloody waltz.
  7. Jacqui and Arianna had a cute baby and it’s the first time I’ve been excited over spawn.
  8. Saw the gorgeousnesss which is Jack Savoretti perform.
  9. Met Leigh Bardugo & Rainbow Rowell and wanted to join their gang
  10. Finished writing and editing a book which doesn’t seem to be sucking cause people are interested.
  11. Started writing two more books, neither of which seem to be sucking either (yet).
  12. I discovered Eddie Redmayne and his cuteness.
  13. Girly lunch with the ladies! (2017 needs to be full of those ok?)
  14. Captain America: Civil War didn’t piss me off too much. ❤ Bucky ❤
  15. Realised a lot about myself and how strong I am, but also where my lines are drawn when it comes to other people’s bullshit.

*not literally, though I was tempted

All in all while 2016 was confusing, emotional, disruptive, annoying, and riddled with health concerns, those little moments made it worthwhile and memorable for the right reasons too.

So what do I want to achieve in 2017?

  • I want to read 30+ books. This year I managed 22, and after a definite writing slump previously I am hankering for more books after this busy reading year!
  • Write more. Sounds simple but really isn’t. I want to finish two of the books I started, as well as create more blog posts and continue my fan fiction of Sherlock as well as the Channillo series I unceremoniously abandoned when I became ill.
  • More girly lunches!
  • Start and continue yoga, weekly if not daily. My body needs it.
  • Review every single book.

It seems simple when I put it in bulletpoints, but I know it’s going to be challenging. Life usually gets in the way but I will be fiercely protective over writing days.

A full review of my 2016 in books will be up shortly. In the mean time I’d love to know what others have in store for their own versions of 2017!

Book Things · Twitter · WIPjoy

#WIPjoy – Day 1

You may not have heard of the hashtag #WIPjoy, but it’s a month-long love fest for authors’ Works In Progress, of which there are undoubtedly many and occasionally even more than one per person.

I’ve decided to give it a try this month, simply to remind myself there are good points about my WIP and – perhaps – get to know it a bit better!

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DAY ONE

My WIP as described on Twitter – YA fantasy, based on Bavaria, British Isles & ancient wars. Castles, magic and love, oh my!

To elaborate, it’s based around three POV’s (which I’ve only done once before) and goes back to my third person fantasy roots. It feels so good to get back into the swing of this, and I feel like the entire story has ignited something I can’t quite fend away.

More to the point, I don’t want to!

To quote dear Belle –

“Far off places, daring sword fights, magic spells, a prince in disguise!”

*pets WIP* I like you.

Author Talks · Book Things · Festivals · publishing · Talks · Writing Advice · Writing Method

How To Get Published Talk @ Stoke Literary Festival – PART ONE

EVENT BLURB:

How to Get Published with literary agent Laura Williams of Peters Fraser & Dunlop, Caroline Lea and Misha Herwin hosted by Stewart Collins.

The big question! So many of have a book in us, but how to get it published; how to become the next J K Rowling!? These and many more questions will be answered by leading literary agent Laura Williams of Peters Fraser & Dunlop, Stoke-on-Trent author Misha Urwin and Leamington based author Caroline Lea who has just had her first novel ‘When the sky fell apart’  published.

I admit from the off. I arrived ten minutes late to the talk because the traffic decided to build up just at the moment I had to get somewhere. I managed to snare a seat at the 2nd row and get out my trusty iPhone to record proceedings but they apparently hadn’t got beyond introductions when I finally arrived.

What followed was an hour of absolute gems of information. The audience was encouraged to pose questions and engage with the panel, if only to settle their own minds about what the process entailed.

Continue reading “How To Get Published Talk @ Stoke Literary Festival – PART ONE”