Category Archives: Characterisation

Self Editing: Eveything you need to know

I had planned a post at some point similar to this, but when I read the talented Sharon Zink’s page I decided to share it.

Sharon is an amazing writer and I have had her on my blog. She also does the same job as me in that she offers manuscript appraisals; the same level of detail.

So I decided to share this link because it really is a masterclass in writing and everything on here is exactly the kind of thing I say to clients all the time when I assess their manuscripts…

Take heed fellow scribes!

I am now about to write the homecoming chapter on Pelicans… this is exciting, it’s the final chapter when we reveal the last of the missing pieces… and it’s raining so I am loving the sounds of rain on the roof as I write! The morning goes pitter patter… ❤

Have a wonderful day everyone!

http://sharonzink.com/writing-tips/all-first-drafts-are-sht-so-heres-a-masterclass-on-self-editing/

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Acceptance, Acknowledging who we are and why we write, Back-story, Being a professional editor, being a successful writer, Being a writer, Believe, Change as a function of character, Character Arc, Character development, Character names, Characterisation, Cliches, Conflict, Copy Editing Quick Note Series, Copy Editing Quick Notes, credibility, Critique, Dialogue, Editing, Exposition, Fiction Clinic, Find a Publisher, Find an Agent, Flashback, Flawed characters, Inspiring Others, Learning to be a writer, Literary Fiction, Live your writing dream, Mainstream Fiction, making money from writing, narrative devices, Never Give Up, Novel writing, Passion for life, Passion for writing, Plot, Point of View, principles in writing, Proofing, Publishing, Publishing Contracts, Reach your potential, Reading, Research, Rules in writing, Securing an agent, Self-Publishing, Story, Story Arc, Story Arcs, Story hooks, Story Shape, Story Structure, Structure, Submission, Subplots, Subtext, Succeeding, Success, The Publishing Priocess, thoughts in fiction, Uncategorized

Getting to know your characters …

New cover WNOWW

 

Characterisation is a vital part to process, as you know as a writer, and one of the things that’s really important to make that VITAL connection to your reader. It all ties into voice, so we see, think, hear and root for the character.

Indeed,  I have talked about characterisation here many times in one guise or another.

I challenged myself writing an African-American with Lydia and have been overwhelmed with how much people have loved her. In fact they say they like all the characters in While No One Was Watching and yes they are all likeable because I tried to keep them real, while at the same time not stereotypes — which can be hard. Some might think they are stereotypical. The test is the number of people who want to know what happened to them once the book was over and so far that seems to be what people are saying. And I do hope to use Lydia again 🙂

It’s more of a struggle writing the more flawed character and I have always been aware that Amy in I Am Wolf is both complex and flawed and there are aspects of her the reader might not like. How she treats Mark for a start but I have worked to make the reader see why and warm to her, I hope — and that has been tricky. She has, as they say, a lot of baggage. But how much should the reader like the character? 

Well, it would not feel authentic if all characters were flawless, nor if all characters were evil. It’s about getting the right balance so even the hero has flaws and the evil character has redeeming features. Or at least that’s how I do it. My fiction deals with reality but with a touch of something unusual — or that’s how I describe it. It is grounded in reality, but I do like it if a character is ordinary but feels extraordinary. This was how someone described Lydia and I was chuffed with that.

There have been many challenges with the new novel and characterisation is most definitely one of them. I want Amy to be a victim who wears a mask, but I also want her to feel like a real person and I confess I still struggle with her.  She’s the kind of character who bosses me about and I have to keep her in check! But I think I’m almost there as I approach the end of another edit and hope it’s about ready.

Getting the characters right is so important for that connection I go on and on about (yeah I know!) But they are your vehicle for doing justice to the story. And as Stephen King put its, love before horror. Make the reader care about your character before you put them in peril — if you want the reader to stay for the journey.

And we all love it when we get to know characters and especially, as a writer, it’s great when people say they want to meet the characters again. Of course there are many trilogies and crime series where we do just that. And taking that a step further look at how close we come to feel to, let’s say, soap characters.

I was watching Daybreak this morning when Lorraine made a suggestion that I have been saying for years! I want to see a character in let’s sat Corrie, who pops down to London for a bit or forever, or a character in EastEnders who moves to Manchester (lots have!) make an appearance as the same character in the other soap! Hell — how many EastEnders characters end up in Spain? Maybe one  could pop over to Benidorm for a while! I think the public would love this and I think we should get more liaison between TV production companies to do this to characters?

Writers of the novel do it all the time, in a way when characters have walk on parts in other novels, so why not take that further?

One of the questions Parthian asked me and one I now ask other writers is — and I would love people here to comment — if you could be friends with any FICTIONAL character, you have created or read or watched on TV, movie etc. who would it be and why?

Mine — well here I am talking characters I have created — would be Lydia Collins.

Have a great day everyone!

Indeed!

Indeed!

 

2 Comments

Filed under 50th Anniversary Kennedy Assassination, 50th anniversary of Kennedy Assassination, a book deal, being a successful writer, Being a writer, Believing, Blogging, Character Arc, Character development, Character names, Characterisation, Learning to be a writer, Living the dream, Mainstream Fiction, Novel writing, Passion for writing, Publishing, Reading, Writing

The Glorious City of Bath

Winning the Bath Short Story Award (BSSA) this year has to be one of the big highlights. It knocked my socks off to actually win something and with a story  that had some very personal meaning. It seemed other people got it, it resonated on some level and isn’t that what being a writer is all about? So this is a great feeling when you make that connection. Thanks BSSA for choosing Learning to Fly –– read it here! LINK

Jude, one of the BSSA ladies, also wears another hat, that for Writing Events Bath, so when she knew I work with developing writers and my novel was out this month, she invited me to run a workshop on writing a psychological thriller at the wonderful Mr B’s Bookshop. And I love psychological thrillers, and while While No One Was Watching isn’t exactly that, it is kind of and I call it that if I have to pigeon-hole it and of course it uses many of those devices that tap into the psyche. I  grew up reading and being influenced by such books! So I loved putting this workshop together — a pig in literary mud!

And so last week Mum and I did something we never do, we left Dad in charge of the pooch and took a little trip to Bath, and the Hilton Hotel. And what a treat we had!

This time last week in fact we were  getting ready to set off to the station, although sadly it seems like ages ago now! Want to do it again! Want to do it at lots of hotels and places! Anyone else want to hire me? He he …

The hotel, although not quite as aesthetic to look at as the other Bath buildings, is lovely and central and a very short walk to Mr B’s although we did take a rather convoluted route because the girl at the hotel wasn’t sure! But we found it and around the corner at 3,30 we also found Halls and Woodhouse, the cafe where we were kindly treated to afternoon tea by the lovely ladies from BSSA. So nice to finally put faces to names, I met Jude, Anna and Jane and from Writing Events Bath also Alex.

We had a lovely chat about all things writing and enjoyed the delights of an afternoon tea. Then we relaxed on the sofas before it was time to go to Mr B’s ready for the workshop.

 

Writing Events Bath

Jane (BSSA), Debz (some writer apparently) and Jude (BSSA and Writing Events, Bath)

I had not run this particular workshop before, with a specific genre, but as I pointed out good writing is good writing and many of the things we talked about relate to any genre — good characterisation, motivation for action, sharp narrative etc. However I did focus it on what a psychological thriller is, where it fits in the context of other thrillers and the premise of many of these novels. I will do a blog post about this as I think many would find this interesting.

We had a couple of writing exercises, one writing an opening scene or blurb to see if we could capture the essence of a good psychological thriller. And after the break we wrote a scene with tension, after a discussion of narrative devices.

We finished with a Q&A and I even signed copies of my novel, in fact we ran out of books.

People were lovely and many said it had been very helpful 🙂 I hope that what I showed was that it can be done, we can get published if we work at the craft.

I have sat through many workshops and so I did what I thought I would want from a good workshop, it needs to be two-way, interactive and they needed to know I do know what I’m talking about (most of the time!).  So it helps that I work with lots of writers and I know the common errors! And that my novel was published of course!

I had a lovely time! And am so pleased some of the writers that took part have have found me on Twitter and said they’re enjoying the novel and loved the workshop! Phew!

The following day we did a spot of sightseeing in Bath, the tour bus, the Jane Austen Centre and of course some shopping! Although I bought very little.

A nice meal in the hotel that evening, and  then we relaxed in the room.

The following morning at breakfast, who should walk in but Ade Edmondson, who had been performing with his band in Bath that night. I didn’t disturb his breakfast but I was tempted to ask him if he wanted a copy of my book! I didn’t of course!

So here are some pics guys! I wish I was still there now!

 

Bath Abbey (1)

 

 

Bath Abbey (2)

 

That writer person again, who does she think she is?

That writer person again, who does she think she is?

 

Off to talk to the lovely writing group at Canvey Library this afternoon and you can hear me on Sarah Banham’s show on local radio Saint FM from 7pm, here’s the link: SAINT FM

1 Comment

Filed under 50th Anniversary Kennedy Assassination, 50th anniversary of Kennedy Assassination, a book deal, Acceptance, Bath Short Story Award, Being a professional editor, being a successful writer, Being a writer, Believing, Book Launch, Book Launches, Character Arc, Character development, Characterisation, Conflict in fiction, Conspiracy Novels, Conspiracy Theories, Creating fictional worlds, Critique, Dreaming, ebooks, Editing, Fiction Clinic, finally being signed, Flawed characters, Horror, How to edit opening chapters, I Have A Dream ..., ideas, In the Spotlight, Indentity, JFK50, John F Kennedy, Kennedy, Kennedy Assassination, Learning to be a writer, Living the dream, Loss, Love, MA Creative Writing, Mainstream Fiction, Mentoring, Novel writing, Openings, Pace, Parthian Books, Passion for books, Passion for life, Passion for writing, Plot, principles in writing, Psychological Thriller, Publishing, Publishing Contracts, Reach your potential, Reading, Real events that inspire fiction, Recovering from grief, Rules in writing, Story Arc, Story Arcs, Structure, The Publishing Priocess, The Secret, The Writer's Imagination, time to think, Tone, Truth in Fiction, Truth in Fiction Series, Viewpoint exercises, Voice, While No One Was Watching, Winning, Writing, Writing a Psychological Thriller, writing competitions, Writing Events Bath

The art of story telling — the question a novel asks

Writing is not just about having a good idea.

It’s not just about being clever with words and finding new and interesting ways of combining them,

It’s the whole deal and that’s why it can take a long time to really get that to work, to learn this craft of ours.

And burning at the heart of any good novel needs to be a question, one that  makes the reader want to read that book and then keeps them hooked throughout, even to the last page!

Some stories are what we call high concept, the kind that often end up as movies, a great idea, something that feels like it surely must have been done before and has real universal appeal. I hope While No One Was Watching might be that.  It’s not like something I set out to do, and I am not so sure I Am Wolf does that, but we’ll see!

I was thinking about ideas that hook yesterday when the lovely Roy Noble interviewed me for BBC Radio Wales. It airs on Sunday morning, 10.30 onwards.  We talked a lot about Kennedy and about this idea of what’s happening at the same time, who was Eleanor Boone and why did she disappear? Of course I wasn’t going to answer that exactly. He also asked after all my research who did I think killed Kennedy? Well not sure I can answer that either, only to say I was quite convinced it could not have been a lone assassin. I suspected a cover up, and I tried to evoke many of the ideas and theories in my novel — I would say no more. No spoilers!

Roy did also say the idea of being apart from a child is one that is current and he talked about the film Phil0mena.  I’d like to see that.

Yes I think there are two things that I hope have that universal appeal with While No One Was Watching. One is that it deals with an iconic moment in history where everyone, who is old enough to remember, recalls where they were and what they were doing, as does Edith Boone who was standing on the grassy knoll.  But we take it a step further with her  because she got stuck in that moment forever. Can you imagine turning around, distracted for a moment by the gunshots and the panic (and can you blame her? Does this make her a bad mother?) — and then turning back and the child is GONE.

That in itself is a horror story for any parent, right? But amidst an assassination, a moment anticipated with excitement at seeing the President turns into a murder in front of you  … and not only is your child gone but  she is never found.

So why?  Why does she disappear? Is the story really what it seems? Is the question that beats at its heart (as has to be the case in good story telling) and the hook to add page turnability, what really happened to Kennedy? Or what happened to Eleanor Boone? I think it’s this:  if Kennedy had not been assassinated that day, would Eleanor Boone still have disappeared?

That is the one I set out to answer.

So what about your novels — can you identify a single question?

With the anniversary week approaching and the conspiracy theories rearing their heads  again, there was an interesting programme on Channel 5 last night, although not sure when it came to suggesting an accidental gunshot by a member of the Secret Service, I can buy into that. They glossed over quite a lot and when it came to the key elements of the argument, like that the magic bullet could have been right as Governor Connally has a lower seat than originally suggested there was no real evidence to show this or the trajectories, just a sweeping ‘so the Warren Commission was right after all and the ‘magic bullet’ could have passed through Kennedy and Connally etc.’  And in concluding the final head shot that tore the President’s brain apart was an accident,  the agent in the car behind reaching for his gun and falling onto it and that was the fatal shot made me say — hang on, show the evidence? And why go to such lengths to cover that up when they had one man to blame. Okay one that would cast terrible shame for the US if one of their own secret service agents (Hickey) had fired the fatal shot, but in fairness  a response to a real assassination attempt by Oswald. But really? It could be that simple? And would an agent (even though they did say he was not experienced) have made such a mistake? Hmm …

Not convinced.

What about you?

There is another TV show on tonight ITV 10.35 that I will await eagerly.

I do wonder at this incessant need for conspiracy, but there is little doubt for me with this story that this is what we have and with records remaining sealed until 2029, what do they have to hide?

I think this obsession with conspiracy in any story taps into the same primeval need for a good story. Diane died tragically in a car accident as many do every day, didn’t she? Or something much more sinister? Add a cover-up and you have all the ingredients for a high concept bestseller, right? Do we like to wallow in tragedy?

Maybe as humans who seek pleasure in escapism, be it film, TV, books, plays etc, there is an inherent need to inhabit other lives and for things to be bigger and better and  at the same time far worse and more sinister than they might be. So maybe that’s why we buy into it, who really knows.

All I know is we constantly seek new angles and so I hope that what my novel does, is find a different  angle that makes an old story feel new.

But you will be the judge of that.

Some wonderful reviews coming in! Thank you and if you read it and enjoyed it, please do post a review on Amazon too!

Leave a comment

Filed under 50th Anniversary Kennedy Assassination, 50th anniversary of Kennedy Assassination, a book deal, being a successful writer, Being a writer, Believing, Book Covers, Book Launch, Book Launches, Character Arc, Character development, Characterisation, Conflict, Conflict in fiction, Conspiracy Novels, Conspiracy Theories, finally being signed, First person, Flawed characters, I Have A Dream ..., ideas, In the Spotlight, Indentity, JFK50, John F Kennedy, Kennedy, Kennedy Assassination, Learning to be a writer, Learning to Fly, Living the dream, Mainstream Fiction, Mentor, Mentoring, Novel writing, Openings, Pace, Parthian Books, Passion for books, Passion for life, Passion for writing, Plot, principles in writing, Publishing, Publishing Contracts, Reach your potential, Reading, Real events that inspire fiction, resolution, Review, Self actualisaion, Subplots, Subtext, Success, The Writer's Imagination, Theme, Voice, While No One Was Watching, Winning, Writing, Writing a Psychological Thriller

Making a connection and a Kennedy challenge for you, where were you?

At the heart of good writing is a connection.

That is why I love character narrators so much. I like the reader to hear and feel as the character and not hear the author.

In short stories I like to make that connection quickly so even in 1000, 2000, 3000 words the reader has been in that world for a while and feels for the characters. It takes sharp writing and a keen sense of character to effect that in a short piece. I see the reader as being with the character for a short while, but long enough to care.

In the novel the relationship is allowed to develop and the hope is the reader forms a really strong connection.

I feel as if I had an intimate connection to the characters in my novel for a long time before I let anyone else meet them and now it seems lots of people are meeting them and seem to be liking them. I knew they’d love Lydia! Phew! So it was just the best to hear my mum (yes I know she’s biased!) say she loved the novel so much she was sad it had ended and is now reading it again because she missed the characters! Wow. That was always my hope, but again wow. I hope everyone else feels the same way!

As we begin the countdown to the 50th anniversary of Kennedy’s assassination, I’d like to invite people to send me a short (say no more than 1000 word) non-fiction piece on where they were or where someone they know was when you/they heard Kennedy was assassinated — be honest but be poignant, say what it meant, how you/they felt, what was happening to you or them in your real lives (like the characters in my novel) and I will select the best ones to be posted here on the blog on November 22nd, say three or four during the day and the person who wrote the one I love the most will be awarded a free signed copy of the novel.

As I say in the afterword of the book, the world only stops a couple of times in a lifetime — for me it was when the twin towers fell out of the sky, and perhaps for a short time when Diana died. These moments are pivotal in our lives and while I wasn’t here when Kennedy was assassinated, it has still influenced my writing. And it’s a moment many still remember.

I’ll post about this again, but get thinking. Send the extracts to: writer@debzhobbs-wyatt.co.uk, don’t post them in comments.

Thanks and have a great day!

Kennedy Poster 3

Leave a comment

Filed under 50th anniversary of Kennedy Assassination, a book deal, Acceptance, being a successful writer, Being a writer, Believing, Blogging, Book Launch, Character Arc, Character development, Character names, Characterisation, Conflict, Conflict in fiction, Conspiracy Novels, Conspiracy Theories, Creating fictional worlds, Creative Non-fiction, I Have A Dream ..., ideas, In the Spotlight, Indentity, JFK50, John F Kennedy, Kennedy, Learning to be a writer, Living the dream, Mainstream Fiction, Mentoring, Novel writing, Parthian Books, Passion for books, Passion for life, Passion for writing, Publishing, Publishing Contracts, Reach your potential, Reading, thoughts in fiction, time to think, Tone, Truth in Fiction, Truth in Fiction Series, Voice, While No One Was Watching, Winning, Writing, Writing a Psychological Thriller

Believe in your characters … make them ‘shine’ …

I was watching the revered Stephen King on BBC Breakfast this morning, a rare interview and I have to say he is still the writer I would most like to sit down and  have a coffee with.

One of the things that I always say about his writing is his ability to write believable, yet flawed characters. Their success I think hinges on the fact we are all champions of the underdog, we fall for the characters and root for them. And as I tell my clients this is essential.

This message came across loud and clear in the interview I just watched as he prepares for his sequel to The Shining, Doctor Sleep. He was asked about Kubrik’s interpretation of Jack Torrance and the other characters in the film version of The Shining  and he confessed to not liking the film because it was ‘cold.’ He said there was an emotional detachment to the characters that he had not written in his book. In fact he said you have to ‘make the reader fall in love with the characters’. He wants you to feel warm. And he said, I thought interestingly, if the reader roots for them, they care about their plight and it’s easier to scare them. Or as he puts it so succinctly: Horror comes from love.

Great thought and I had something similar scribbled on the notes I have started making for my workshop in Bath on writing psychological thrillers. I don’t write horror per se but then it very much depends on what you define as horror. Salem’s Lot still sits up there as one of the scariest horror books for me and I don’t know I have the ability to scare in that way. But Dead Zone is my favourite because it taps into the human psyche  in a less overtly horror way and this is something I aspire to. In psychological thrillers it’s about taking the normal and creating around it the worst possible scenario, so the horror is real but more ‘of this world’ — so a missing child, a phobia, kidnapped, waking up not remembering who you are … etc. See what I mean?

I wasn’t going to blog about this today but I decided it warranted discussion while it was still fresh in my mind. As a writer I was very influenced by Stephen King, the way he not only has these memorable plots and great stories, but the reader becomes part of that world, wholly immersed and indeed rooting for his underdogs. I don’t think my characters have the issues many of his have, perhaps less disturbed although if I was asked to name one who most felt like a Stephen King character I would probably say my protagonist in Isle of Pelicans, awaiting a rework once I finish I Am Wolf, previously known as the Reluctant Clairvoyant — ex con, moves to San Francisco and the voices are back. He’s a good guy who got lost along the way.

But then again, aren’t a lot of our characters — doesn’t art not imitate life anyway?

While many might knock Stephen King for not being a ‘literary’ writer I still think he writes great stories, excellently and has the page-turnability I need from a good book. So Doctor Sleep is most certainly on my Christmas list.

I can only hope the characters you’ll all meet in While No One Was Watching are anyway near as good as his — but I have a feeling you will be rooting for them …

To whet the appetite …

 

Gunshots silence the world. Kennedy is assassinated. Fifty years on it’s a moment we all remember, even those of us who weren’t here.

But what if that’s not the moment you remember? What if you watched it all from the grassy knoll but when you turned around you have dropped your child’s hand … and worse, much worse — she’s gone. Now people are shouting and parents lay over their children to protect them. But not you. You were so caught up in the moment you forgot your own child. Does that make you a bad mother? Some point and run up the grassy knoll. Others say the gunshot comes from that big old building they don’t even know the name of … yet. But they will. Of course they will.

But you don’t. You don’t do any of these things because you stand still and you stare into nothingness. Your child is gone. But imagine far worse than even that, than even a dead President — imagine your child is still missing fifty years later. And it all happened while no one was watching.

So when people remember where they were and what they were doing when they those gunshots silenced the world — you remember something else. You remember it as the moment you opened your eyes and the world you knew was gone.

But why is Eleanor Boone still missing? What did she know?

Coming November 1st from @parthianbooks … I have a song composed especially for it to be released next month to go with the book trailer.

And the first edition cover is a special 50th anniversary cover … more on that soon.

Preorder now if you dare … LINK  … when you order King’s latest book …

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under 50th anniversary of Kennedy Assassination, a book deal, Acceptance, Believing, Blogging, Book Launch, Change as a function of character, Character Arc, Character development, Character names, Characterisation, Conflict, Conflict in fiction, Conspiracy Novels, Flawed characters, ideas, Indentity, JFK50, John F Kennedy, Kennedy, Kennedy Assassination, Learning to be a writer, Living the dream, Mainstream Fiction, Novel writing, Parthian Books, Passion for books, Passion for life, Passion for writing, Psychological Thriller, Publishing, Reading, Real events that inspire fiction, Stephen KIng, The Writer's Imagination, thoughts in fiction, time to think, Tone, Truth in Fiction, While No One Was Watching, Winning, Writing

Engage engage engage …

Hope everyone had a great weekend.

I will keep this short and sweet this morning as I have been updating the Paws Website and am pleased to announce that the next Paws Animal Writing Competition for Children is once again open for entries (link at the end of this email).

I was watching something at the weekend where someone was talking about the need to engage. He was in fact talking about radio and segments of time where you need to wholly engage the listener or you lose them.

The same can be applied to your writing. I am always waving my banner for character voice being the key connection you have to your reader. So it’s not you but the character the reader wants to engage with. And so I got to thinking about this whole process of engagement. How many times have you read something and got distracted, laid the book down, gone to make tea? Sometimes this is you, you’re not really in the mood, but if the writing really does have that grip factor and the story is compelling with a burning question the reader has to know the answer to, perhaps tea can wait, that TV show can wait, just let me get to the end of this chapter … etc. You have all been there. So now ask yourself what about that book, that particular one that had you lost in a fictive dream state for hours, what made you like that? What engaged you?

Now it’s hard to say any one thing that does this, right? So how will you know if you  have woven that magic ingredient into your own writing? Indeed  what is this thing you need? Well I think it’s a combination of knowing how to write well so your narrative is strong, exactly the right words in the right place so they flow like velvet. A voice that’s interesting, not generic, quirky, even odd but odd in an intriguing way, characters I want to invest the next few days of my life with (for a novel) and hopefully ones that will stay with me long after I finish the book. So they need to have something at stake I care about. And then page-turnability so tea turns cold on the table, I can’t put it down, marital relations are strained by the one more chapter thing. Right? Not that I want to be responsible for a breakdown in marital harmony — but then again, if it’s because of my book. Why not?!

Engagement is key and the reason why a lot of books fail is down to the weaknesses in the writer in not knowing how to do that. This is why I sometimes talk about narrative devices and technique. And why rejection should fuel the drive to make your work better. Learn what isn’t working. You can learn a lot from your own reading. Look at how scenes and chapters end, and what about that makes you turn to the start of the next chapter, even though you promised your wife one more chapter. I’ll turn out the light at the end of this one, I promise …

You must think about your reader as you write and remember it’s not just about telling a story, it’s how you tell your story, or should I say SHOW your story, because believe me — you film it and create the tension and narrative drive that way, it will start to have that can’t put down yet engagement. And always think active voice, not passive! Telling, too much exposition, clunky phrasing … and they’re making tea or turning out the light. Maybe better for martial harmony — but …

What kind of writer are you?

More tomorrow and if you know children who write, here’s more about the Paws Competition …

 

Leave a comment

Filed under a book deal, Acceptance, Being a professional editor, being a successful writer, Believing, Blogging, Born Free Foundation, Characterisation, Children wriitng, Clunky phrasing in writing, Creating fictional worlds, Critique, Editing, Endings, Exposition, Learning to be a writer, Literary Fiction, Living the dream, Mainstream Fiction, Novel writing, Passion for books, Passion for music, Passion for writing, Paws Animal Writing Competition for Children, principles in writing, Publishing, Reading, Subplots, Subtext, Wild n Free Book, Winning