Month: December 2014

New Years Resolutions


I have tried on a number of occasions to set lots of objectives for the new year, and generally speaking failed, or taken two years to complete them!

However, I am going to set some resolutions anyway.

1. Read a book a month (trying to read more non-fiction)

2. Give £5 to charity every month. I actually started this in November, donating to Movember, and then to NaNoWriMo in December.

3. Finish a first draft of my novel

4. Spend more quality time with the wife and kid.

5. Get to my goal size… (this is the hardest, chocolate addiction is a hard one to break)

What are your New Years resolutions?

Writespiration #15


I thought I would inspire you with a different kind of post to my usual quote or photo.

A characters name is important. You will write their name countless times, it will help to shape and define their character.

But finding a name is supremely difficult. I constantly struggle to find appropriate names, with appropriate meanings.

There are a dozen name generators out there, but I particularly like this one:

Behind The Name

Because it has names from all kinds of languages, and various options.

Other generators I have seen that you might like are as follows:

Fantasy Names

Steampunk Names

I hope these are of some use

Writing Tips #11 Do a Writing Course


Hope you all had an amazing Christmas Day, filled with over indulgence, gifts and quality time with your family.

I decided some time ago to do a writing course. I had wanted to be a writer for a long time, it just took me a while to figure it out. When I did, I decided I still had motivation issues. I am a planner to my core, so much so I can find it difficult to actually get on with the business of writing.

I searched for a long time for the right course, a course comprehensive enough that I could learn skills for all kinds of writing, from radio scripts to novel writing, short stories and readers letters. But also a course that represented value for money, I do like a bargain!

I can’t recommend enough the benefits of doing a writing course. It has forced me to write, but more importantly to submit my writing to competitions and magazines. The exact thing every writer needs.

As part of the course you get a tutor, mine is Esther Newton, a fabulous tutor with an uncanny eye for grammar and detail (exactly what I need) and a brilliant writer in her own right. She tirelessly answers my questions and provides detailed feedback. Part of the reason I think the course is so beneficial, and why I am recommending it.

If you’re one of those people who wants to be a writer, but hasn’t quite found the motivation – try this course, it might just work.

Writespiration #14



How could I post an inspiration anything but Christmas related given that it’s Christmas Eve?

Well here it is, I won’t be posting tomorrow, I will be drawing in carrot peel roast potatoes and frantically pulling wrapping paper out of baby black’s mouth!

To the picture.

Where is it? Is it in our world? Looks like a fantasy world to me… but don’t take my word for it. Who lives in the houses? What creatures are they? Who is crossing the river under the bridge? What’s the mountain range called? How long does it snow for? Is it always winter? Who is in charge of the village?

Hope you all have a wonderful day tomorrow.

Merry Christmas

SB x

Writing Tips #10 Killing off Characters #2

killing characters

I wrote about killing off characters a few weeks ago here. I unashamedly ranted about Veronica Roth and her blatant distasteful murdering (still bitter) of her main character, Tris. I continued to rant about how you shouldn’t flippantly kill off characters and definitely not main characters. But, after some thought I decided to revise my conclusions. Whilst I stand by my point that you shouldn’t casually kill a character that your readers have spent a 1000 pages getting to know and love, I also think that in order to have some credibility you need to kill some characters off.

The lesson I learnt recently is:

Torture is good!

Torturing your characters at any rate. Make them, no, force them to feel emotions, feel something. Push your characters to their limits and see what happens. That’s what makes an interesting read. It gives your characters depth, and makes for an interesting story. If you can’t kill them off, then make it difficult for your characters at every possible turn, take away that tool, instrument or person they need most, make the situation look as though its impossible to come back from, then at the last minute something unique about them means they can save the day (or whatever).

Do it. Just torture them, even if you don’t want to. In fact, if you don’t, thats even more reason why you should do it. Because if you’re afraid to write it, then it must be good!


Writespiration #13



I love visual inspiration, so I thought I would give you a picture this time.

Where is this? Is it on Earth? In another realm? What type of people or characters inhabit this world? What happens on the stage here? Is it ceremonial? or for fun and plays? Who lives in the buildings around it? What are the buildings around it for? how do you get to it because of all the forest around it?

Writing Tips #9 Short Story vs. Novel Stories

short story versus novel

Here’s the thing, NaNoWriMo was great. It really was, I finally after about two years of claiming to have a dream of writing but not actually putting any words down on the paper other than planning related words (that kept changing) I actually stopped procrastinating and stuck fingers to keys and tapped some 50,000 words in 26 days.

Writing novel length stories is so, so very different to what I had been doing though. As part of my writing course I had been writing short stories. Stories of not more than a couple of thousand words. Whereas NaNo, was all about the long game. A strategically different game all together, different everything. The problem is, after submersing myself in the story, and forgetting any writing skills I might have learnt in order to just bash words out to complete the challenge, I completely forgot how to write a short story.

When it came to trying to sit down and write my next assignment of just 4000 words, I couldn’t do it. I’d forgotten everything. I was trying to tell too much of the story, I had forgotten how to be concise and how to weave a storyline into hardly any words.

My tutor gave me a great piece of advice, to go back and reread some of my short stories I had already written. Which I did, and it helped a bit. But I still felt stuck on how to write a story in so few words. Consequently anything I have written since, I’ve hated! I can’t get it right!

I guess writing is like any other muscle – it needs constant use, and practice, or it forgets how to do what it needs to. My writing certainly forgot at any rate!

So whats the tip?

If you’re intending on writing short stories but want to write a novel – don’t forget to practice the other type of writing in the mean time.

Writespiration #12

disabled fear

Why have they disabled fear? Are there already other pills that can disable other emotions? If there are pills that can disabled emotions are there other ones that can enable emotions? Why did the scientists invent this? Was it a mistake? Who tried the pill first? What happened? Were there any side effects? Are you made to take the pill or is it a choice?

Hope this inspires you.

Spermy, Spermy, Sperms!

more sperm


This is quite possibly the most exciting personal post I have written in a while. The posts about my life and memoirs seem to be getting rarer, but this blog was created originally as a memoir, so I refuse to let go of that side completely, no matter how much it’s evolved, so sorry to all the folk out there who signed up to read all about writing, this ones a memoir.

A long time ago, I was told I probably wouldn’t be able to have children. It’s a long story, but it ended up in me falling pregnant rather quickly and a hasty retreat by the fertility clinic.

Thankfully we managed to get pregnant, and nine extremely long months later, and 3.5 days of excruciating labour, baby Black was born. The best year of my life followed, and a difficult decision about sperm.

The wife and I thus far haven’t really wanted another child. Not for any other reason than, we need to pay off the cost of the first baby, and buy a house to make sure we can provide for him first before having another one.

We have spent a long time discussing whether having another one would suit us, and our family. We bickered a lot to start with, but I guess that’s normal for most couples. As time has gone on we have continued to learn lots of parenting lessons and are continually growing together on our journey.

Deciding whether to save sperm for another child has been a topic of much contention. It’s difficult trying to predict what we might or might not want to do in a few years time.

Of course, even if we didn’t save sperm we could have another child using another donor, but if the option is there to use the same donor, we are both in agreement that we would prefer to use them.

So we came to a cross road… To save or not to save? It’s an extremely costly affair saving sperm. To save enough for three attempts it’s a whopping £1000 for three years, and another £300 every three years to continue to have it stored.

BUT, we decided to save some, just in case. I am not saying we will have any more kids, as at the minute neither of us can see it happening, however, we are trying to protect our options, ensure that we aren’t taking our choices away and making a decision about how we will feel in 5 or 6 years time.

So there we have it… Very exciting news, the Black’s have a bank… a bank of sperm! (can’t help but giggle like a child about this!) But SHHHHH! It’s a secret!


To Edit or Not to Edit? That is the Question



I have a wonderfully rare gift tomorrow. A day off from work, almost entirely child free that I intend to dedicate to writing. Whilst I am acutely aware I now have an overdue assignment, tomorrow is dedicated to my novel. But I have a problem.

I have 50 something thousand words written – that need a heavy edit, I have some major character development needed too, and probably before I carry on. I have also lost a bit of confidence due to the mis-timed feedback and I’m not sure how to get it back. But it has knocked me significantly off track, and now I feel like I need to go back and edit major storylines, sub-stories and character lines.

But here is my question, Should I go back and spend the time I have between life admin editing the 50K? Or do I spend a couple of hours on character development and then soldier on with the story and edit at the end?

Now – before you all charge in and tell me to plough on (because thats what everyone has said without exception)

There are a few caveats –

I need to either raise my confidence with what words I already have down on the page or I am not going to be able to continue, OR someone needs to provide me with an extremely rational logical argument as to why I should continue.

Listen to me. I already know the answer, I am inviting you to tell me to continue, but I am stuck. Stuck wanting to edit, to critique and perfect what I have before carrying on… the urge to edit is overwhelming.

Also now I haven’t looked at my novel since the 26th Nov when I completed NaNo, the usual ‘carry on to keep the flow going’ doesn’t really apply, as I am a bit out of the flow now anyway.

So what do I do???

Answers on a blogpostcard!