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Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Shakespeare and Scartlet Letters - My Heroes - Deb Nam Krane

For me, it's all about the delivery. In the modern world, we might call that marketing.

As a senior in high school, I loathed Hamlet. I tried to erase most of those weeks from my mind, but it might have something to do with the fact that we seemed to spend a lot of time talking about blocking. (AP English- what are you going to do?) However, my favorite college class prominently featured Othello. Oh the mental illness! The political conspiracy! The tragedy! Who was Othello? And why does Hell stare out from both Desdemona and Othello's names? I wanted to read everything of Shakespeare's after that, and when someone with an English degree remarked the next year that all of Shakespeare's works were about politics, I was indignant. How come now one had pointed that out to me before?

I had a similar experience with Nathaniel Hawthorne. Even though I spent an entire week out of school and sick my sophomore year of high school, I happily kept up with the assignment to read The Scarlet Letter . In fact, I couldn't put it down. The discussion when I came back about sin, penance and the history of witch burning transfixed me. The English teacher I had that year was one of my favorites out of my entire academic career. However, when I had to read it again the next year with a considerably less skilled teacher, Hester Prynne was delusional, Roger Dimsdale was irredeemably weak and Hawthorne was unbearable. Thankfully, an American history class I had a few years later found me reading a lot of Hawthorne's short stories and made me love him all over again. Again, might have had something to do with the fact that this class was taught by one of the best teachers I had in college who clearly thought Hawthorne was pretty cool.

No, I'm not all Hawthorne and Shakespeare. Possibly my all-time favorite author is Judith Krantz, and I'm not ashamed. There were the sweeping interviews in Vogue, the commercials on television and of course the made-for-tv movies- someone liked her, and why shouldn't they? Her main characters were fascinating women who overcame troubled family histories and some initial bad judgment to not only survive but thrive. And yes, there was a lot of sex and romance- to me, those were bonuses. I think just about every other person who knew her name went out of their way to tell me what trash she was, but I didn't care. If anything, the sneering made me want to read it more.

Is that childish? Probably, but it wasn't the last time someone's disapproval got me going. Why else would a thirteen year old pick up Lolita or twelve year old pick up The Picture of Dorian Gray ? These weren't trash, but at one point they had been considered a little naughty. So imagine my ever-so-slight disappointment when people started telling me how much literary value those works had. Pfft.

My newest writing heroine is Agatha Christie, which is funny because while one of my early goals was to be a private detective, it was never my intention to be a mystery writer (although one of my manuscripts does have a mystery as a subplot). I tried to read one of the Poirots right before I turned fourteen, but it didn't work for me. It's probably only because of the very well-done series on PBS that I tried again this summer. Now I've got a little bit of an addiction going (what am I going to do with myself after I've read all of them?). Wow, was she good- skilled and flexible. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd is a very different book from The Hollow , both of which are in a different style than Evil Under The Sun . If, some day, I could flow from one style to the other as easily as she did, I'd feel like I achieved something.

Who says marketing can't inspire worthy things?     

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Be True To Your Voice - Erin Cawood

As a writer your "voice" is probably the most important tool you'll ever have. Without it you're ... well you're a chocolate teapot or a snowball in hell.

When I was younger, I discovered romance on the pages of a Danielle Steel's novel and between the sheets of Mills & Boon (Harlequin). When I first dreamed of becoming a published author the stories and novellas that I wrote at 14 reflected the voice of a romance writer.

Then I grew up and life got in the way and I lost my passion for writing.

I was a late comer in discovering Chick-Lit, such as Bridget Jone's Diary. Author's like Marian Keyes and Katie Fforde have become favourites of mine but it wasn't until five years ago did I rediscover my passion for writing. I was studying an A-Level in English Language and we had to pick a text and write it for a different audience, in a different genre, whilst keeping the story and the fundamentals the same. I turned a classic novel in the style of Bridget Jones and what I learned was that I was able to immitate writing very well. Soon after I began my first novel and my "voice" was still as it had ever been. But I wasn't feeling it anymore. My "voice" had evolved into the Chick-Lit, sassy, fun, rom-com style of writing.

Recently, as an unpublished author, I entered Mills & Boon's New Voices competition. I had a great plan for a chick-lit I've been working on over the summer and when I learned that New Voices was coming back this year I thought I'd use it. I made a fundamental mistake. I changed my voice to suit the traditional modern romance series. I should have aimed my entry for the new RIVA series which suits my voice and plot better. Within 24 hours of putting my entry in I regretted it. It wasn't me. It wasn't my voice. I couldn't be 1000% happy with what I'd done because I wasn't true to my voice.

You can mix it up, target a different audience, write in a different genre, have a different purpose for your writing but you have to be true to your voice. Its the most important tool you have.


Friday, 14 October 2011

Introducing "My Hero": A Rebel with a Cause - Kim Koning

The hero of my stories is usually an underdog. My heroes are rough-hewn and rough around the edges. They have a rebellious streak and love bucking the system. They usually do not know they are a hero until push comes to shove an they are thrown into the white hot fires of adversity, conflict and tension. Even though they are underdogs, they are no cowards. They also don't have the bounties of life offered to them on a silver platter. They have had to fight for recognition and achievement every step of the way. They succeed through honour, integrity, loyalty and above all perseverance. They believe that if you do not stand for something or stand up for someone in life, you will fall for anything.

I love throwing my hero/oines into conflict and see how they get out of it. They never stand back from a challenge and though they will not create conflict, they will not flinch from it. They are also very strong-willed and stubborn.

For me there is nothing worse than a cookie-cutter hero or heroine. As a writer it is so easy to fall into the trap of making the most of your villain or antagonist. I don't want to read about some angelically perfect hero or heroine who annoyingly always knows the answers and swoops in picking up all the credit. I want a hero or heroine that I can see myself following and admiring and for me those have never been the "top dogs" in society. Rather it is the underdog who becomes the hero that makes the story for me every time.

Heroes should have flaws that they need to overcome and mine always do. You may not start off liking them in the beginning but towards the middle of the journey you are hanging on their every move and word and by the end you will fall in love with them. They will challenge you as the reader as they have challenged me as the writer. They do not like being told what to do or how to do it. They are by nature quite temperamental and they live by the heart. They are spontaneous and impulsive. They love adventure and thrive on living life on a dare. They are people who are not heroes because of their past but they shape themselves into heroes.

As for who are my heroes and heroines from old: Batman would be a favourite in the cartoon/graphic novel world, Zorro is another. Heathcliff, from Wuthering Heights, is one of my favourite heroes. Nobody said the hero has to be all good all the time. I also love the heroes and heroines found in Greek Mythology. They were always reluctant heroes but they believed in honour.

For me I love a hero that changes with the story. I love a hero who struggles against being seen as a hero. My heroes are not chosen they are made through their own mettle and their own wills. They will fight the good fight and even get dirty with the worst villains if that is called for but in the end they will not break their code of honour and integrity. For me, one of the most interesting heroes are the heroes that fight being a hero. But in the end that is what they are. They are the underdogs who will jump into a dogfight to defend another dog even if they are the smallest dog.

My heroes and heroines don't fit the mould of everyday society. They don't follow the rules. They fight for their own place in society and they make their own rules. They are rebels with a good cause and they will do whatever is needed to fight for that cause whether it be rescuing someone or standing up for what they believe in. You will want my heroes and heroines on your side because believe me they are better friends than enemies. You might say my heroes and heroines are heroic rebels.


Kim Koning is a writer, a reader, a blogger and an adventure traveller who always seeks the next horizon. Her first short story, a YA paranormal, was published in an anthology this year. She is currently in the submission process of her first novel, a historical paranormal. She can be found blogging and "Wrestling the Muse" at:    
Other places she can be found online are: website -
facebook -
twitter - @AuthorKimKoning 

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

NaNoWriMo: 1-50k in 30days???

Is it really that time of year again?

The weather here in England has only just turned miserable in the last few days, I think I can be forgiven for not believing we're in the middle of October already! National Novel Writing Month (Nanowrimo) is just around the corner! Eeek! How exciting!

NaNoWriMo is about just sitting down and writing, its about getting the words on the page. Forget all about the fluff and the pomp thats what December is for! 30 days and 30 nights of literary abandonment ... November is just for the pure joy of writing.

So here were are...  Mid October and the start of autumn. The leaves are turning, its started to rain and the wind's picked up. Its a perfect excuse for snuggling in the warmth with pen and paper and start planning for NaNoWriMo. If you're contemplating taking on the challenge this year I'd definately recommend some sort of planning. I completed NaNoWriMo in 09. I planned Devine Intervention down to the smallest of detail and hit 50k in 23 days. In 2010 I decided to write All Night Long just a few days before. There wasn't much planning and I hit 50k 5mins before midnight 30th November. It was like cramming for a really important exam. 

I definately recommend getting an early start. I was getting up 2 hours earlier every day to do my NaNo writing. 1,667 words a day isn't very much. If you can get as many words written as possible to get yourself a head start then you allow for days when you won't be able to write. In 2009, I became a team leader in my 2nd week of NaNo. I was already at 25k before that happened because I knew the extra responsibility was going to affect my time. This year I'm at university and all of my end of module assignments are due in at the end of November. Those obviously get priority. So I'm going to utilise Blackberry Word2Go on my bus ride to and from uni.

Completing NaNo is a wonderful feeling. Its a challenge that you set yourself and knowing that no matter what life throws in your way you've been able complete it, that's worth a smile.


Posts you may have missed:

A Review of NaNoWriMo 2010

NaNoWriMo - Summary

Other NaNoWriMo Posts

Read an extract from Devine Intervention and All Night Long at

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Social Networking:A Whole New World

If you've been following the debate this week then you'll know I've been putting in my two pennies worth. From time saving tips with apps like, marketing ideas such as email footers, advising you to think before you "speak" to achieve maximum effect, and the greatest tool ever invented - scheduling - available on, and another time saving tool

I've had some fantastic responses to the TO BE OR NOT TO BE a writer debate on the subject of Social Networking. This week has been fun for me, as host, to see how people have interacted on the bloggosphere, especially because I've just started studying a degree which specialises in digital communications. Maybe its my fresh new look on the world as a 1st year student but I wanted to open your eyes to the differences between the way we communicate online. It really is a whole new world.

I hear people saying all the time "I don't get twitter" I didn't understand twitter either. It was a free for all and everyone could see everything and the character limit made life very difficult. I did very little tweeting. Then one day someone wrote #amwriting and I replied "what's #amwriting?" my dearest friend from across the pond, Lanetta, replied.  All of a sudden I discovered a whole writing community on twitter that I never knew existed. # Hashtags are the best way to find a topic on twitter.

Professionally, we use social networking as a means for promoting ourselves and our products. I said before to think before you 'speak'. If you're tweeting "lost my car keys" ... why? think need to know basis. If you're trying to sell something then you have to make people understand what it is that there getting for their money. What does "lost car keys" present to the outside world. .... On the other hand ... if said lost car key inspired a fantastic poem, short story or chapter in a novel then capitalise on it.

But how do you draw people in when simply asking doesn't always work in the cyberworld?
Again its a matter of thinking before speaking ... "Learn how I lost my car keys & found a new chapter in latest novel ... ", "Is Romance Dead?....", "Wanted: Honest Feedback ... ",

We weren't born with innate marketing skills or even the ability to communicate digitally, at the end of the day it goes against the grain of everything were ever taught in school about the nature of the English language from spelling and grammar to proper etiquette and manners. But Social Networking is vital in every way possible for an aspiring writer, personally and professionally. Without the friends I have made on twitter I would never have discovered the friends I have in writing communities on Facebook. Without these people I wouldn't have learned half of what I know today.  


Friday, 7 October 2011

Aspiring Writers Need to be Aware of the Demands on Their Time - Shay Fabbro

Writing can be the most rewarding experience, especially for someone who has an idea that just runs away and the book practically writes itself. And then there are the times when one must wrestle with each and every word, fling it face-down on the blank page and give it an elbow jab for good measure.

Writing, like anything else, has its up and downs. Good days and bad days. It’s the drive and passion that keeps people going, no matter what their profession. They deal with the downs because they know that soon, everything will be up again. For people like me who have a day job and write on the side, things can get a bit more complicated. I am a biology professor by day, author by night. Once a writer gets wrapped up in their characters and worlds, everything else gets pushed aside. Many an hour are spent thinking about the characters, letting them have conversations in your head, working out plot twists, getting through writers block. So between the actual writing and the thinking, this doesn’t leave a lot of time for other things. Friends, family, spouses, etc often go by the wayside when an author is in the grip of the muse.

Another aspect to writing is the marketing/promoting, which can be an even bigger time sucker than the writing itself ;) It’s hard to be in the now when you’re spending time on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, websites, and blogs. But these things are necessary for an author to sell books. It can be difficult for family, friends, and/or spouses to understand why the author spends all their free time on the computer. Aspiring writers need to be aware of the demands on their time above and beyond the actual writing process and make an extra effort to put down the computer or pen and spend some quality time with loved ones.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Getting Noticed Offline Is Harder If We DONT Have An Online Presence - Deb Nam-Krane

If an author was well-established in possibly 2002, he or she can probably get away without having a big huge, internet presence. However, that person is going to need at least a minor presence, even if it's only a website listing his or her books. For everyone else- especially those who aren't currently well-established- we need more. It's good to have at least a simple blog, but at the very least, they need to get on over to Twitter and start making some contacts. Social media, whether we're introverted or extroverted in our real lives, is essential for anyone who wants to gain notice for the simple reasons that 1) a lot of people are looking online and 2) getting noticed through offline venues is a lot harder now if we don't have an online presence.

So... no kidding; your four-year-old knows this. Social media is not a yes or no question, but I think all of us are still trying to figure out the best way of going about it. From what I've seen, writers face the same problem everyone else online does: avoiding the echo chamber. Many of the people I know- writers and non-writers- have talked about how much they enjoy finding a group of like-minded people. It's a big wide information super highway- there's someone for everyone, trust me. But when we start hanging out with those people exclusively- and when we're all talking about the same things- the conversations we're in and the knowledge we can generate together becomes stifled. It's the same problem the politicos, vegans, fashionistas and yogis have, but in our case it's a little worse. If we are, to some extent, responsible for recording and discussing the human condition, shouldn't we take all of the opportunities we can to thoroughly study it? What are we learning if we hang out with people who are more like us than not? And, oh yeah, for those who are really online primarily to sell some of their work, it just doesn't seem like selling to other writers almost exclusively is the best strategy, you know?

The only other thing I would say is that all of us- whether we're going the traditional or self-publishing routes- should approach our interactions with some professional decorum. I've seen a lot of things that have made me cringe: whether it's someone who started writing a few years ago bitterly complaining on their blog that they haven't been signed by an agent yet, an agent publicly accusing a publishing company of withholding royalties from a client, an author attacking someone over a negative review or someone on Twitter shilling their book every ten minutes (that is not an exaggeration). Social media- whether it's our blogs, Twitter feeds or Facebook walls- are public, and with very few exceptions, people want to see mature interactions there. Save the rants for your best friend- if you're going to be in business in public, be professional.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Social Networking. The Dos, The Don'ts, and the Huh?s - J M Kelley

Ah, social networking. The key. The golden ticket. Open a Twitter account, shoot out your book’s purchase links, and sit back and watch the money roll in.



Don’t misinterpret me. I think social networking plays a huge role in getting the word out about your writing. If you figure out the fine balance between promotion and spamming, you’ve got it made in the shade.

But it’s not just about sharing purchase links. The online world offers so much more to enrich your experience as a writer. You can connect with your favorite authors, and even have legitimate dialogue with the ones who enjoy interacting with their fan base.

My favorite moment came when I took part in a “twitterview” and not only managed to have people chiming in, but someone bought my book mid-event. Sometimes, I find a plea for purchase tinged with the right amount of snark yields a random book sale. Personal interaction is always key.

Social media, it is a wonderful thing. But there are a lot of hitches I never considered. And a lot of hurdles I can’t always figure out how to clear.

See, the online world has a good side and a bad side. You have so much at your fingertips. You can link. You can blog. You can tweet. You can have a Facebook fan page, your own website. You can wear the letters off your homerow keys with all the ways an author can network online.

But how the heck do you get anybody to listen to you?

Ah, there’s the rub. Talking to the virtual brick wall. Believe me, some days I feel like that’s all I do.

There are so many authors online. It’s great. You can network with thousands of people who feel the same as you about writing and reading. You talk shop. Commiserate about writer’s block. Cheer along as someone makes fantastic progress on their manuscript. Cross your fingers as someone else sends a full manuscript to an agent for review.

It’s a giant online crew of people in the exact same boat you’re in. You love it. You want to hug all the authors surrounding you.

But then a nagging question starts to form: Am I marketing to other marketing authors and that’s it?

And then the next nagging question bullies the first one out of position: How the heck am I supposed to do this and keep my day job?

Sometimes, the despair sets in. I’m a blue collar girl living in an easy-access-to-the-internet world. I don’t have a desk. I don’t have a work computer. I don’t have a system for getting around my duties and getting online during the day. So how do I find a way to get readers to hear me when I can’t always be around to do the self-promotion?

I love social media. But how do I get it to love me ? The question I pose, kind readers, is this: How do you make the internet work for you ? What are the pros and cons you’ve discovered about the fine art of social networking?

J.M. Kelley

J.M. Kelley's debut novel, Drew in Blue , is a contemporary romance available from Lazy Day Publishing. Drew in Blue was nominated for Best Contemporary of 2010 by The Romance Reviews, and is a TRR and Night Owl Reviews Top Pick. Drew is available for download from Amazon, B&N, All Romance, and OmniLit. J.M.'s dabbles next in the paranormal realm with her short erotic romance, Laws of Attraction , included in the Lazy Day Publishing anthology, Indulgence , available on Amazon on October 19th. For information and news, please visit

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

The Social Network Debate ! ! !

This week is dedicated to Social Networking! I had a huge response on this topic alone. On the 5th Join J.M Kelly for the Do's, The Don'ts and the Huh?s  - On the 6th Deb Nam-Krane tells us why Getting Noticed Offline Is Hard If We DONT Have An ONLINE Presence and on the 7th Shay Fabbro warns: Aspring Writers Need To Be Aware of the Demand on Their Time.

A Quick Tip from Erin Cawood:

The world of a writer can be a lonely place sometimes. There are times when you're locked away for hours, days, weeks, months, working on your masterpiece, or you may a have deadlines, or your muse may have abandonned you, or you've read your last manuscript after months or your characters aren't talking back to you. All of a sudden your world doesn't make sense to you anymore. That's when the first of many benefits of the time consuming social networking comes in.

There are thousands of like minded people on the web who understand exactly what you're going through. 

When I first approached guest bloggers on the subject of "To Be or No To Be A Writer" I used social networking as an example of why its great to be a writer and why its not so great to be a writer. Never before have we been able to be in touch with readers, to have instant feedback, to be engaged, interact and connect they way we are able to with sites like Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter and, of course, Blogger. The problem with them is if you're a member to all of them, you would spend all of your life using them. My tip, tweetdeck or hootsuite or some other multi-social network desktop app. I use tweetdeck, it allows me to post to most of my social networks at once (or one at a time) and I only have the one screen open with a feed to notify me of any updates from all networks. 

Saturday, 1 October 2011

My Perfect Hero is Flawed - By Shay Fabbro

I think writing heroes and heroines is the hardest part of writing. I think many (if not most) writers want to create heroes that are everything we’re NOT: perfect. It’s difficult for people to face what’s not perfect about themselves and therefore it’s easy to want to live vicariously through a character without flaws. But let’s be honest!

Readers don’t want to see page after page of ridiculous perfection.

They want characters they can relate to and the only way to do that it to create characters with flaws. But with just enough flaws to be realistic. It’s a tough balancing act, actually. I tend to give my characters flaws that are similar to my own, but exaggerated a little or just a tad different. I also use annoying tendencies I observe in other people. And if the writer REALLY knows what they’re doing, they will have their hero/heroine grow and change over the course of the book.

This is even more important in the case of a series. Nothing is worse than reading three or four books where the characters are exactly the same as they were in the first book. There must be some growth. I think this is particularly important for YA books. JK Rowling was superb in her treatment of the Harry, Ron, and Hermione. Each one grew and matured in their own way and changed over the course of the seven book series.

Shay Fabbro 

Author of the Portals of Destiny series and The Adventures of Alexis Davenport series


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The Legal Bit

All characters have no existence outside the imagination of the author and have no relation to anyone baring the same name. They are not inspired by an individual known or unknown by the author and all incidents are pure invention.

The articles, excerpts, and other written work published under the pseudonym Erin Cawood are copyright protected by the author. Guest articles are published by arrangement and also copyright protected by the guest author.

Images of Erin Cawood are provided by Paul Miguel Photography.

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