Thursday, 22 December 2016

Questions from Readers - December 2016 - Part Two

We're getting closer and closer to the end of 2016, and I think I'm gonna try and get all the rest of the questions answered before Christmas and the end of the year. I also have my goals of 2017 to get to and so without any further ado, here is the final batch of questions for 2016!

What do you do when you get bored of writing? 
Generally I try to work out why I'm bored. If it's because I'm finding a scene difficult to write, then I try to push through. The same if it's the story that I'm writing. However, if it is the story then I try to look at why it's boring me and if that means I need to change my outline. I have deviated from the outline before, recently in fact and I found that it helped me to focus more when I had a better idea of where the story should go rather than where I thought it would go.

Do you have any hobbies outside of writing?
I do! I read a lot. I also sometimes go geocaching, though due to health issues this year I haven't been able to do that as much as I would like. My hope is the new year will bring better health and I'll be able to go out more often.

Do you ever go off your chapter plan/outline? And if so, how do you get back on track?
I have gone off my outline, recently in fact and that was because the story had changed and was no longer a standalone. In that case I didn't need to get back on track, I needed to change my outline and chapter plan. However, I have also gone off my chapter plan a little and then needed to get back on track. My advice would be to work out why you went off track, and then what steps you need to take to get yourself back onto your outline. It could be, like I said, that the story had changed, in which case the outline and chapter plan might need to be changed to accommodate that? There's nothing wrong with that.

As someone who spends a lot of time on bedrest, do you have any tips for people who want to stay productive when they're stuck in bed or in the hospital?
Pace yourself. No seriously, the amount of times I have pushed myself and then paid for it, meaning I have more time stuck in bed and/or the hospital are too many to count. You need to be aware of your limits and you need to be aware that sometimes you can't get that thing done and that's okay! It happens and maybe tomorrow you will, but even then, you're sick and you're allowed to take time to heal and time to be well enough to manage that thing without making yourself sicker. Good luck!

What's your favourite book of yours? Was it a favourite to write or has it just been something that has grown on you since?
Ah, now this one is a hard one because I actually like pretty much all of my books. Some of them were harder to write than others, but I wrote and finished them because I loved them. I know it seems like a cop out answer, but it's the truth. I have just in the past few days finished the last Dying Thoughts book and that was my favourite series, but all cards on the table, right now it's my only series! I think the only one that I held some dislike for was Waiting On You but since it's been out and edited, I actually really like it!

Are you an over-writer or an under-writer? And how do you get down/up to word count? 
Over-writer 10000% I get down to word count by editing the hell outta my books and making sure that every word that's included is there because it's needed! I have a great editor and she works with me to cut unnecessary scenes and all of that. The added bonus of being an indie author is that I kinda have the ability to say whether my book is fine at 100K words or not. I don't have to cut it down to 80K, but having said that, I do do a ton of edits to make sure it gets as close to the limit as possible.

I see a lot of photos on your instagram of cats, what are they called and why do some get tagged #pastacats?
In age order we have Miss Penne, who's the tortoise-shell kitty - she's 13. Then we have Miss Spaghetti, the black and white kitty, she's 9. She's also sometimes called Hetti. Then the tabby twins. Miss Violet and Mr Dash. They're both 8. The reason they're sometimes tagged as #pastacats is because for the whole of my adult life my cats have been named after types on Pasta. It's a quirk of mine :)

Who is your favourite character? And why?
You can't make me choose! That's like asking a mother to choose her favourite child! Seriously though I love all my characters. The one I know best is Tara, obviously, but I also like the characters who are with me for one book, like Harriet and Dot. Angelina and Zack, Lynne and Hope. The list goes on.

When do you write your best? Are you a night owl or an early bird?
I'm more of an afternoon bird. Some days I write better in the morning, but usually I'm fighting fatigue and thinking about a nap, so it generally after midday that I get some writing done.

How long are your chapters? Do you think that they're too long/short compared to the industry standard?
My chapters are generally between four and five pages. From what I've heard from other authors, that's sometimes considering too short. However, I like short chapters and so long as I'm not telling a scene over two chapters I don't think it really matters that much how long they are.

How did you find your editing team? Any advice on what to look for in an editor/proof reader/beta readers?
I was really lucky both times with my editing team. The first was made up of a close friend of mine, and she helped get me on the right track with editing. I had a bad experience with a proofreader that didn't deliver despite being paid, but that was the only bad experience. My current editing team is made up of another friend, who does the edits, and a writer friend who does the proofreading. Both work really well together and both are great at getting where the story is going. As to finding them, my advice would be to advertise on Facebook groups for writers or on Tumblr or other such places. As for beta readers, I'd use the same approach, do a call out for them on Facebook or Tumblr as generally writers flock together.

How much time do you spend on "admin" stuff? Do you have a set time to work on blog posts, videos etc?
Admin stuff gets stuffed into any free time I have. I will usually do the booktube videos the day before or the day before that, and then get them edited and ready to be uploaded. Because I add captions, I always have to set aside a little extra time to do that as depending on the length of the video it can take up to 30 minutes for me to caption. Blog posts and other admin stuff will generally get done as and when I have spare time in my working day. Like right now, I'm answering these questions before I get started on writing properly. I posted a video this morning and captioned in and then went for a nap, and when I got up I checked the captions had synced and published it. It's all about finding some down time really. My evenings are usually spent reading after having written and depending on what I have to do that day depends on how much other stuff I can fit in.

How long does it take you to outline and plan a book? 
It depends on the book. If it's a series book, it usually doesn't take as long as I have the majority of the ground work already laid. However if it's the first in a series or even just a standalone, that obviously takes longer. 

How did you make the connections you have in the indie world? Any tips?
I made the connections through Facebook groups, and other such pages. Tumblr is usually a good place to find other writers as we tend to flock to the same places. On Facebook there are a number of public groups and pages that will give you the chance to make friends and make connections. For example Indie Authors and Book Blogs (IABB) is a great place to make connections.

And that's all I have guys! I hope you all have a wonderful holiday season. Thank you to everyone who sent questions, if you have a question that you'd like me to answer, feel free to email me at

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