Finding a Fresh Angle, Blogging and Adjusting Your Reading

Well, there’s a nice mixed bag of topics for you.  Plus I will share my top 10 tips for helping the writer in your life.  (Fellow writers, you can always drop a lot of hints to non-writing friends based on my list!).

Facebook – General

When you’ve had a website or a blog for a while, it pays from time to time to go back into your older posts and have another look. I do this a few times a year and inevitably I can think of a fresh angle on the topic I’ve pulled out of the archives to have a look at. Hey presto – a new post!

Some other ways to generate ideas for fresh posts include:-

1. Think about what irks you most about writing and why. Share! You won’t be alone. (My biggest bug bear? Never having as much time to write as I’d like. Answer: Just make the most of the time I do have!). You can share tips about how you overcome these bugbears or how to minimise their impact.

2. Think about why you started writing in the first place. Think about where you are now with your writing. Be encouraged by how far you’ve come but again this topic is great for being able to share what you’ve learned on your own writing journey.

3. Think about your favourite writers and stories and why you love these. Share your thoughts and invite comments. Briefly, I love the works of Terry Pratchett, Jane Austen, and P.G. Wodehouse (now there’s a combo if ever there was one!).

4. Share writing advice that you’ve found helpful and equally that which has not been relevant for you. Other writers will find this really useful.

5. What would you have found most helpful to know when you were starting out as a writer that you only found out much later on? Share!

Above all, have fun writing your posts. My CFT post this week will be Part 2 of Why I Blog. I’ll share the links later in the week but finding out what other writers have to say on a topic is (a) fascinating and (b) you learn so much yourself.

My CFT post this week will be Part 2 of Why I Blog. Many thanks again to all the fab writers for taking part in both parts of this. Lots of interesting insights and proof people really do blog for all kinds of reasons. More on Friday when I’ll put the link up.

Will be reviewing the recent Hursley Park Book Fair soon too. Good fun, lots of footfall, a very promising start to what I hope will be an annual event.

And Swanwick Writers’ Summer School draws ever closer too!


Do you adjust your reading according to the seasons?

The nearest I get to it is that I make sure I read or listen to Terry Pratchett’s Reaper Man around September time and his Hogfather in the run up to Christmas. (I also sneak in either reading or watching A Christmas Carol during December – the Muppet version is my favourite!).

I suppose summer is associated with “light” reading to match the longer, lighter days, but I don’t change my reading much here. I am still reading history (and historical fiction), flash fiction, short stories, novels across the genres etc. What affects my reading choice more is mood.

As for writing, well it’s always a case of “game on” for my flash fiction and blog posts!

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Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

I think every flash story has to contain an element of surprise for it to engage the reader. Okay, you may well see where the author is going but isn’t the fun to be had there in finding out whether you are right or not?

That is what keeps me reading when I think I’ve guessed ahead correctly (and sometimes I’m right, sometimes the author twists the tale again and fools me. I like both of those options!).

Having said all that, it doesn’t mean the surprise has to be a nice one, far from it!

What should come through in your flash fiction pieces above all else is what makes your character tick. There is usually room for 1, maybe 2 characters, at most and their attitude should come through clearly. The attitude doesn’t need to be a “nice” one but it should be one readers can understand and, as they read on, see why the character has developed this.

As ever, it is the telling detail that matters here. For example, in The Outcome, the opening line is “I’m pleased to be wrong about my misgivings”. The attitude here is of a character who is open to the possibility of being wrong and being willing to admit it. Of course you then hopefully want to find out what they were wrong about! But it is that hook, the attitude of the character, which draws you in, I think.

Top ten tips to help the writer in your life:-

1. Buy their books!

2. Review said books. Doesn’t have to be a long review but must be honest.

3. Go to their book events to show support. Trust me, it is appreciated and, as a certain supermarket would say, every little bit helps.

4. Always get them nice notebooks and pens. The idea that any writer could ever have enough of these is just plain wrong! From your point of view, you’ll never be stuck for present ideas for your writer friend ever again. Win, win here.

5. If you are a computer whizz and can act as technical support, fantastic! You’ll save them a small fortune. No doubt your grateful friend will put you in their next book and not as a character to be killed off horribly either.

6. Plentiful supplies of tea/coffee/chocolate/other treats generally go down well with said writer. If it lifts their mood because they’ve got bogged down in Chapter 8, it benefits you. Do away with moody-writer-syndrome. Feed them their favourite treats. You know it makes sense.

7. If you really do feel you can’t get your writer friend any more notebooks and YOU feel like getting them something different, go for book vouchers or vouchers towards a writing course/retreat. Will go down well.

8. Accept said friend will often seem to be in a world of their own. That is because they are! Give them time to come back to earth before engaging in conversation. You’ll get more sense out of them for one thing doing that.

9.Never ask where they get their ideas from. You want to stay friends with them, yes? Just trust me on this one. If you insist on asking, don’t blame me if your friend gives you a long lecture on well this idea led to that one, I was inspired by one paragraph in A Christmas Carol, I thought I’d add a twist here and there, etc etc. Your friend should be able to go on at length as to where they get their ideas from. If you get bored, (and you almost certainly will), you only have yourself to blame here.

10. And last but not least, do spread the word about their books. It all helps.

 Goodreads Author Programme – Blog

What do you have in the way of book accessories?

I love bookmarks and those clear plastic stands for displaying books at signings etc. They make such a difference to your presentation.

I also like nice pens with a book logo on them and had some produced to go with my flash fiction collection when that came out. Likewise, a nice spiral notebook with the cover of the book on also went down well as prizes for my launch.

But the ultimate book accessory for me I think is the hardback and jacket! While nothing will diminish my love of the paperback, I do have some wonderful hardbacks, including a Sherlock Holmes collection, where the book itself is simply beautiful (and the contents brilliant! Got to hand it to Conan Doyle…).

I must admit when I do choose a hardback, I tend to have a quick peep to see if the cover has been reproduced on the book or if it is just on the jacket. A lot of the time it is the latter, all to keep costs down, but I have some where the cover has been reproduced on the book itself. Always looks great.

Even with a “plain” cover, a hardback book can be lovely in the way it has been bound etc.

So while the contents of the book are always the most important thing for me, I do enjoy the aesthetics of a lovely tome as well.

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