10 TOP TIPS For the BETA Reading Stage

Beta Reading Stage

You’ve written ‘THE END’ on your first, second, eighth – or if you’re me it will mostly likely be my third draft. You know it’s not perfect, but you’re happy you have taken your manuscript as far as you can. What next?

Alpha / Beta readers

As I approach the end of my first draft this concept is becoming more than just a twinkle in my eye. It’s quietly growing into the elephant in the corner of the room.

What are beta readers? How do I get one? How long will it take? Will they tear my work to pieces? (more…)

End of Days By Susan Ee – Book Review

End of Days

I’ve been waiting for the release of this book for the best part of a year. End of Days is the last instalment in the Penryn and the End of Days trilogy from Susan Ee. I’ll admit I felt like a kid, but I had to have it on pre-order as soon as it was available, that’s how much I wanted to read it! (more…)

Learn To Read Like A Writer – Read What You NEED

Learn To Read Like A Writer - Read what you NEED

I don’t mind admitting I’m a selfish reader. I’ve always read exactly what I want for no other reason than, I felt like it. So I never paid much attention to whether or not it was useful or beneficial. But now, as a writer, whilst I still need some of that escapism by falling into a good book, I’ve come to realise I also need to read to aid my writing – and I’m not just talking about non fiction books that teach you writing skills. This is part one in a two part series, looking at reading like a writer – reading what you NEED and reading what you WANT. (more…)

Interview With Author Jaq D Hawkins

Jaq D Hawkins

Interview slots are now closed until September 1st, when I am opening the slots up for author book release and promotions (i.e. without the interview).

Today welcomes Jaq D Hawkins. You can find Jaq on her website, her blog, amazon, Facebook or twitter. (more…)

The Minimalists Guide to Storing Interesting Articles

Minimalists Guide to Storing Interesting ArticlesWhat do you do with all those interesting and informative blog posts, or articles you find, want to read again, but haven’t got time right now? I think I may have the solution for you. (more…)

Interview with James Howell – Author of the Disturbed Girl Trilogy

James Howell Author Interview

If you would like to be featured like this on my blog, drop me a line.

I first found ‘A Disturbed Girl’s Guide to Curing Boredom’ in DIVA, a magazine for lesbians. It had the tiniest of blurbs (as all their reviews do) about this little book with a rather intriguing title. I absolutely HAD to read it. So I did, and I was an instant fan. His trilogy is one of my favourites… EVER. So it had to make my ‘books that MADE me write‘ list, because it was just that good. (more…)

Writing Tips #14 Where is your ‘have read’ list?

writing tips 14

I am constantly trying (and failing) to keep a list of all the books I am reading. I lose the scraps of paper, tissue, cardboard – insert anything you can write on- I scribble on. So I figured I would just put it on here. This way I can’t lose it, unless we enter into some kind of apocalyptic internet/bloggisphere destroying armageddon. In which case, we are all stuffed, and I probably won’t care what I read this year anyway!

This isn’t a list of my favourite or recommended books, just a list of what I am reading, which I will keep adding to as I get through things. I was talking to an editor I follow (Jamie Chavez) and she said ‘I read something very recently that said, essentially, good readers should share their personal reading lists publicly—the way Mike Gates does, for example.’

I took it to heart, and given my current ‘Reading like a writer’ series, I thought it was timely to share my list.

What are y’all currently reading?

I intend on adding a couple more pages to my blog over the next few weeks. Including: A list of my favourite/newly found useful words and a list of books in my writing reference section of my bookshelf.

Happy Thursday

The Reading Like A Writer Series #2 Most Inspirational Books Ever

Read Like a Writer #2

Everybody has a list. But for a writer, it’s THE list. You might call your list a number of things but essentially, it’s the list of books that made you a writer. For me it’s a list of the most inspirational, favourite and most irritating books I’ve read. This series will cover the technical aspects of ‘how to read like a writer’ but for now, I thought it would be good to start with what you have read that made you a writer.

For me, but in no particular order:

1. Day of The Triffids by John Wyndham

Blurb: When Bill Masen wakes up blindfolded in hospital there is a bitter irony in his situation. Carefully removing his bandages, he realizes that he is the only person who can see: everyone else, doctors and patients alike, have been blinded by a meteor shower. Now, with civilization in chaos, the triffids – huge, venomous, large-rooted plants able to ‘walk’, feeding on human flesh – can have their day.

Reason for being on the list: This is the book that started it all. When I read it, it ignited an obsession with post apocalyptic stories and a burning need to write one.

2. A Disturbed Girl’s Guide to Curing Boredom by James Howell

Blurb: Hannah Harker is bored. Her tedious job as a local newspaper reporter is grinding her soul to dust and she cannot find anything to interest or excite her. Refusing to accept a life of anonymity, she decides to tear up all the rule books and do everything in her power to find a cure for this boredom. Free from the shackles of social convention and morality, she sets off down a dark and dangerous path that will change her forever. A terrible tragedy of her own making sends her spiralling into meltdown and the lives of countless people get dragged into her twisted world. Embarking on a brutal journey through Asia, she befriends arms dealers in Thailand, gangsters in Hong Kong and terrorists in Malaysia, while breaking the hearts of men and women at every turn. As the clock ticks down to a shattering conclusion, the world can only pray that she self-destructs before creating the most staggering news event in history.

Reason for being on the list: This book happens to be the first in a trilogy. It goes down as possibly my favourite story ever. I discovered it when the author had just 500 fans on Facebook, he now stands at 51K plus. I have to warn you, it is not for the faint of heart, and the further you go into the trilogy the more disturbing it becomes. But it truly is fantastic, and just because he named a character after me in the last book (true story, I am a HUGE fan! but it’s my real name not Sacha!) doesn’t mean I’m biased!

3. The Solitaire Mystery by Jostein Gaarder

Blurb: Twelve-year-old Hans Thomas lives alone with his father, a man who likes to give his son lessons about life and has a penchant for philosophy. Hans Thomas’ mother left when he was four (to `find’ herself) and the story begins when father and son set off on a trip to Greece, where she now lives, to try to persuade her to come home. En route, in Switzerland, Hans Thomas is given a magnifying glass by a dwarf at a petrol station, and the next day he finds a tiny book in his bread roll which can only be read with a magnifying glass. How did the book come to be there? Why does the dwarf keep showing up? It is all very perplexing and Hans Thomas has enough to cope with, with the daunting prospect of seeing his mother. Now his journey has turned into an encounter with the unfathomable…or does it all have a logical explanation?

Reason for being on the list: I can barely remember reading this book, however it is one of the few I read twice. I never read a book more than once. It’s a book I read in my early teens, and it stuck with me. It was the fantasy part of the story that inspired me, I was already long into my journey of writing stories but it opened up the world of fantasy to me, something that has never left me.

4. The Shack By W.M Paul Young

Blurb: Mackenzie Allen Philips’ youngest daughter, Missy, has been abducted during a family vacation and evidence that she may have been brutally murdered is found in an abandoned shack deep in the Oregon wilderness. Four years later in the midst of his great sadness, Mack receives a suspicious note, apparently from God, inviting him back to that shack for a weekend.Against his better judgement he arrives at the shack on a wintry afternoon and walks back into his darkest nightmare. What he finds there will change Mack’s world forever.In a world where religion seems to grow increasingly irrelevant THE SHACK wrestles with the timeless question, ‘Where is God in a world so filled with unspeakable pain?’ The answers Mack gets will astound you and perhaps transform you as much as it did him. You’ll want everyone you know to read this book!

Reason for being on the list: As a self confessed atheist agnostic, I struggle with people who are fervently religious. I have no problem with religion or people being religious. My mother had her confirmation just a couple of years ago, and one of my best friends is a pastors wife. That being said personally I just don’t get it. I need proof. And I love science. That being said, I am also a fan of the truth, and with all the investigations I have been doing of alternative history, my truth might not be the same as yours. Anyway, the book. I adored this book. It made me sob, hysterically. But what I loved, what this guys ability to question his own faith in such a courageous way, and the ending – given that it’s meant to be a true story – is pretty amazing.

5. And This Is True by Emily Mackie

Blurb: Once upon a time there was a boy whose home was a van and whose world was his father. Be warned: this is not a fairytale. Although it does contain love, betrayal, escape, and most important of all, a kiss. But you have to be ready for an unpredictable journey through a realm where nothing is black or white. That, of course, is why you should take the first step. A startling new voice shows us a painful truth: You can’t help who you fall in love with.

Reason for being on the list: This is the first book that ever made me uncomfortable. I don’t just mean a little bit uncomfortable. I mean had to shut the cover, squirm, take a breath, reassess my whole outlook on life, and then continue reading! and for that reason alone it goes on the list. But the other reason is because it made me realise how emotive a book can be, it can change you. I mean really change you. This was the first book that did that to me, and I want to do it for someone else one day too.

6. Divergent Series by Veronica Roth

Blurb – Divergent only: In the world of Divergent, society is divided into five factions and all are forced to choose where they belong. The choice Beatrice Prior makes shocks everyone, including herself. Once decisions are made the new members are forced to undergo extreme initiation tests with devastating consequences. As their experience transforms them, Tris must determine who her friends are – and whether the man who both threatens and protects her is really on her side. Because Tris has a deadly secret. As growing conflict threatens to unravel their seemingly perfect society, this secret might save those Tris loves… or it might destroy her.

 Reason for being on the list: Where do I even start. Divergent is excellent. The world is interesting, comprehensive and the story has great characters. However, Veronica bloody Roth, has to go down as the writer of quite possibly the most dissatisfying ending of a trilogy… ever. I talk moan about this here. This book was the nail in the coffin, the irritation that made me pull my finger out and say NO. I can do better than this! and so began my writing journey ‘proper’.
7. The Dragon Tattoo Series by Stieg Larsson
Blurb: Forty years ago, Harriet Vanger disappeared from a family gathering on the island owned and inhabited by the powerful Vanger clan. Her body was never found, yet her uncle is convinced it was murder – and that the killer is a member of his own tightly knit but dysfunctional family. He employs disgraced financial journalist Mikael Blomkvist and the tattooed, truculent computer hacker Lisbeth Salander to investigate. When the pair link Harriet’s disappearance to a number of grotesque murders from forty years ago, they begin to unravel a dark and appalling family history. But the Vangers are a secretive clan, and Blomkvist and Salander are about to find out just how far they are prepared to go to protect themselves.
 Reason for being on the list: This book is so beautifully complicated. I adored everything about it, the constant mystery, how utterly insane he must have been to be able to keep hold of so many strands in his head. This is the first book I read, reading like a writer. I read utterly amazed at his skill. But what really nailed him to this list, was Lisbeth. His truly wonderful, highly complex main character. She has to go down as one of the best female characters ever written. She will never leave me.
There are of course dozens more books, but they are all ones I just love, like my guilty pleasure the true blood series… ok and the twilight series or Patricia Cornwell’s Kay Scarpetta novels, or the Davinci Code, or Harry Potter or Shakespeare, dozens of plays I’ve read or a thousand other books I could name. But whilst I love them, they didn’t necessary turn me into the writer I am today. I would say it was the above books that changed me, left me different somehow. I would really love to know what books made you a writer?

The Reading Like a Writer Series #1 – Reading Non Fiction

Reading like a writer series

I don’t need to tell you that if you are a writer, you need to be able to read, and read well.

You need to be able to read for the love of it, to glean inspiration from it, to pick out strengths and weaknesses from it, and to critique it in order to learn from it. The other lesson I have learnt is that you need to be able to read both widely across varied genres as well as reading deeply into the genre you write.

This is the start of a set of new series for my blog, this one in particular is on reading like a writer.

This first post is on:

Reading Non Fiction 

I don’t even pretend to be a non fiction reader. Can’t stand it. Much to my father’s – who is a purely non fiction reader- disgust, I am a out and out fiction reader. I have no shame in losing myself in a story, delving into the characters, and disappearing into new worlds. I struggle to read non fiction because quite honestly I find it boring, I hate the lack of story and complete absence of characters.

However, in the last month or so I have come to realise that this way of thinking is a smidgen naive. Here’s why:

I recently developed an interest in space, physics and the concept of ‘alternative history’ more specifically the ancient astronaut theory. Just an interest mind – I haven’t suddenly converted to anything odd!

Anyway, the only way I could find out more was to research online, which I did, but everything I was finding out seemed to lack depth. There were articles, and opinions, and some interesting pictures. But I couldn’t quite get the detailed knowledge I wanted. Cue the search for Non Fiction books. The first two non fictions books I have found and started reading are:

A Brief History of Time‘ by Stephen Hawking


Aliens in Ancient Egypt‘ by Xaviant Haze

Both fascinating and giving me the depth I was seeking. But more importantly I already I have a million ideas for new stories. One of my pledges for this year is to read more, but in particular Non Fiction. I won’t be reading just non fiction because its too heavy and I would fail miserably. I want to read a minimum of 12 books this year, a far cry from the 2 or 3 I could sink a week before baby black was born, but still. If I do at least 12 this year I would be ecstatic.

What have I learnt about starting to read non fiction?

1. Non fiction (can – depending on what you read) provide interesting facts, ideas, new thoughts, new lessons, new concepts, new everything.

2. It can open your mind to completely new… everything. It will lead anyone with half a cell of imagination into world upon world of new ideas, places and characters.

3. You learn from it, and in topics your interested in

4. You build knowledge = building skills = more ideas = better writer

5. You can find new hobbies or interests and even better, build knowledge of those areas

Does anyone out there read non fiction? If so, what types of books/topics? How do you find reading non fiction versus fiction? If you don’t read it, then I hope you try a non fiction book this year, trust me when I tell you slogging through is absolutely worth it, if nothing else, to improve your writing.