28 August 2012


Many authors see marketing as a bind.

I can see how many authors could see marketing as a bind because it does take time away from one’s writing.  In the past, of course, it was much more likely that, other than a few appearances and book signings, the author would be left, undisturbed, to write his or her book(s) while the publisher did the marketing.  Today, however, unless you’re someone like James Patterson, publishers aren’t willing to spend time and money marketing your book(s).  So, whether you’re traditionally published or self published you need to develop an author platform and participate.

Of course, some authors enjoy marketing and the interaction that comes with it while others shrink at the prospect.  Even so, it’s a time consuming activity whether we’re talking social media, book signings or talks to organizations.  Social media particularly can be a trap unless you set yourself limits on time spent there.

But let’s look at the positives.  When has an author ever had the opportunity to advertise his or her book(s) as we are able to do today on all these wonderful web sites, and at no cost?  Goodreads, Twitter, Facebook to name just a few.  And then there is blogging.  Not only is a blog free to set up, but even the most computer illiterate of us can manage to create something unique.  There again, it’s not for everyone but if you do enjoy blogging it enables you to interact with your readers as well as other writers.  And while I don’t think a blog necessarily sells book(s) it will enhance your image as a writer, and be a place you can show your book(s).  And let’s not forget that you also have an opportunity to write articles you may otherwise never have written.

So, my thoughts are that I’m more than happy to do marketing because, though time consuming, there are many positives.  One of these is the people you meet on the way.  And I wouldn’t miss that for the world.

What are your thoughts?

20 August 2012


Following on from Part 2 of this series about Plot, I thought today we would look at settings.

Your settings are one of the most important elements in creating the world your characters inhabit because they show your reader not only the time and place of where your characters are, but using the five senses, and the weather, you will bring those settings to life.

There are four parts to settings, and each determines what type of settings you will have.

The time period.
When is your story set?  The distant past, present day, the future or a mixture.  I’ve just finished reading a book by Posie Graeme-Evans called The Island House.  It's set on an ancient island in Scotland in both modern day and 800AD.

What is the time span of your story?
A few weeks, a year, a century or just a day.

Where is your story set?
My Fitzjohn mystery series is set in Sydney, Australia, but there are many other locations within this.  For example, Fitzjohn’s office, his home, the greenhouse at the end of his garden, not to mention crime scenes and perhaps the morgue.

What are the struggles that your protagonist faces?
These struggles will have bearing on your settings too depending on whether your story is about your protagonist’s inner struggles, relationships with those closer to the protagonist, or external struggles to do with society.

Each of these have an impact on your settings.
Inner struggles will produce scenes to do with the protagonist’s thoughts and feelings.
Struggles with those close to the protagonist will produce dialogue.
External struggles with the outside world will necessitate the need for settings outside the protagonist’s environment.

Give thought to your settings before you paint them with your words!

14 August 2012


by Posie Graeme-Evans

This is the third Posie Graeme-Evans book I have read.  The previous two, The Innocent and The Exiled were both set in the 15th century.  The Island House, however, is different.  It’s set in both present day and 800AD on the ancient Scottish island of Findnar.

It’s the story of Freya Dane, a PhD student in archaeology, and Signy, a Pictish girl.  Their stories are beautifully woven together by the author to create a fascinating read.  Freya searching for what her father did not find in his archaeological work before his death, and Signy trying to survive in a ruthless world of Viking raids, and an unforgiving Christian community of monks.

Freya and Signy’s lives touch over the eons of time as they both find love and deal with loss.  I thoroughly enjoyed this book because it has a little bit of everything I like.  History, mystery and love combined with an eeriness that kept me turning the page.

7 August 2012


I started out this series by comparing painting a picture with writing a story.  Taking your readers on a journey into the world you create with words.  In Part 1 we started off with the elements needed to do this.  And here they are again:-

Engaging characters
Settings in which your story is told
Plot, a sequence of events
Structure, the three acts
Theme, the message it sends to the reader
Conflict, creates the action

And added to this are:-

The five senses - smell, taste, sound, touch, sight
And showing rather than telling your story.

Today we’re going to talk about plot.

Just to be difficult, let’s look at the second question first.  How many plots are there?  Well, needless to say, there’s been endless debate about this.  Some have said there are seven plots, while others say twenty, Aristotle said there were two.  Plots of the body and plots of the mind.  I suppose it depends on how you look at it.  A few that come to mind for me are:-
·         Love
·         Adventure
·         Pursuit
·         Quest
·         Revenge
·         and I’ll put in Puzzle too because mysteries are puzzles that have to be solved

So with just these you can have an infinite number of plot variations producing an infinite number of plots.

Which brings us to the first question.  What is a plot?  Well, basically, it’s what holds your story together.  Not only does it give your story structure; if it’s a good plot, it’ll connect your readers to that story and hold their interest until the end.

The elements of a plot are:-

Introduction - Characters, Settings, Conflict
Complications - Problems arise.
Climax - The turning point when decisions have to be made.
Aftermath - Where everything is tied up.
Outcome - Answers to all the questions.

You might have read this before but I will add it as a short example of a plot.  It’s by E.M. Forster.  “The king died and queen died is the story.”  “The kind died and the queen died of grief is the plot.”

So, whether you write by the seat of your pants, by which I mean you let your words take you, or you’re an outliner who plans your story in advance, by the time you’ve finished your book, it will have a plot and probably a number of sub-plots.