Posts Tagged With: guest post

Guest Post: Back to Creative Writing School (Bridget Whelan)

Today we welcome fellow author Bridget Whelan to tell us about her new creative writing how-to book! Take it away, Bridget!

Following Michelle’s excellent example of shameless self-promotion, I jumped at her invitation to guest post about my new ebook BACK TO CREATIVE WRITING SCHOOL and how you can get hold of a free copy.

back-to-creative-writing-schoolWhat’s it about?

It’s about finding ideas and developing them through a programme of 30 practical writing exercises that range from magic for grown ups to humour and horror writing. It’s about playing around with language and injecting a little rhythm into prose. There are lucky dip exercises that fling strange ideas together and formulas for creating characters that will walk off the page and start throwing their weight around. There are story prompts and poetry exercises for writers who do not want to write a poem, alongside exercises that will help you to start a memoir or look more closely at the world you live in.

All the exercises in the book have been tried and tested on real students. I’ve selected the most popular ones that offer an interesting challenge and have the potential to push you in new directions. And the ones that are fun. Writing is hard work: it doesn’t have to be punishment.

I’ve developed these ideas over nine years while I’ve been teaching creative non fiction at university, fiction in adult education and worked as Writer in Residence at a community centre serving the unwaged and low waged. In that period I’ve had one novel published by a mainstream publishing house and won $US4000 in an international short story competition, but no writer knows all the answers. Every time I am in a classroom I learn something new about creative writing. Every time I pick up a pen. Or read a book that grabs my imagination.

However, fair warning, this book will not tell you how to:

Bridget facebook 1 (2)

Bridget Whelan (author)

  • write a bestseller next weekend
  • win competitions
  • become rich and famous as a novelist.

Nor is it a guide to finding an agent or selling a short story. There are other books – good books – that can help with all that (except about being rich and famous, never trust a how-to book on that subject) but BACK TO CREATIVE WRITING SCHOOL is about creating the material that could become a prizewinning short story or the novel you’ve always wanted to write.

And for 24 hours it is free.

Download it from midnight Sunday December 1st (tonight!) to midnight Monday December 2nd (Pacific time) from your most convenient Amazon.


And come over and say hello on facebook. I’d love to see you!


Unrelated link of the day:

The tone matrix! Make beautiful music with no musical experience whatsoever!

Categories: Guest Post | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Amateur Blogging Tip: How NOT to Request a Guest Post

I received a very amusing email a few days ago. I shall now reproduce it here for your enjoyment:

Hello Sir,

I thought I would send a quick email after coming across your website earlier today and I would like to guest post on your site. My idea for the Post is about book publishing,I believe my idea for the Guest Post will suit your website. In return, I would like to have 1 backlink in the post.

Please let me know if my idea for the Guest Post suits you, and also if there are any terms and conditions about Guest Posting.

The post will be around 400-500 words and 100% unique.

Also I would like to know how soon can you publish it?


In the aftermath of this excellent email, I have decided to put together a quick list of tips for requesting guest posts. Actually, these rules don’t have to apply just to requesting a guest post — they really apply to whenever you’re asking anyone for anything. So, I now present to you:

How to request writing an unsolicited guest post without brutally offending the blogger in question

  1. Get their gender right. I know that the name “Michelle” is technically a unisex name (according to, it’s used for boys 0.23% of the time). But still … if you’re going to be gender-specific in your query, take the time to find a bio or picture of the person and figure out if they’re a guy or a girl. Otherwise you run the risk of calling a woman “Sir”, which is just embarrassing for everyone involved. (Pro tip: When in doubt, just address them by name, and forego the “sir” or “madam” entirely!)
  2. Know your audience. This person’s email reads like a hard-core business message. The email is laid out like a contract — “I will do this, in return you will do this. Here are the specifications of my offer, here is my guarantee for originality, what timeline can I expect for our deal to conclude?” And that works really well if you’re emailing, say, Microsoft. But if you’re contacting a part-time blogger whose content quite clearly indicates that they’re writing for fun and to connect with the blogging community, tone down the business-talk a little!
  3. Capitalization Is Annoying. Capitalization is for proper nouns. “Post” and “guest post” are not proper nouns. They are normal, boring, improper nouns. Don’t capitalize them!
  4. Run a spell check. The reasoning for this rule should be self-evident. Spelling and grammar save lives!

In other news, I’m quite excited for my book reading/signing tomorrow evening at local library. I think I convinced a few people to come, but I still suspect I’ll be babbling to a mostly-empty room. On the plus side, I talked my friend into being my “reader wrangler”, so hopefully that will up the attendance a little. Check back in a few days for my victorious/lugubrious report on the book reading!


Unrelated media of the day:

Categories: Blog-related | Tags: , , , , , , | 59 Comments

Guest Post: Reclaiming Right with a Handsome Face on the Side (Beth Madden)

Today we have guest poster Beth Madden from The Doll Thermometer here with us. We both had a lot of fun with this post — she told me to give her a bunch of random nouns, adjectives, verbs, and adverbs, and then she crafted a scene out of the words I supplied. See the result below:


Reclaiming Right with a Handsome Face on the Side

And now, a randomly generated scene for Michelle …

Nouns: poodle, pizza, starship, hot chocolate, bridge, scimitar, magic

Adjectives: fluffy, crazy, awesome, gargantuan, translucent

Verbs: cavort, sprawl, collapse

Adverb: languidly


‘What I wouldn’t give for a bite of pizza.’ Rin’s wistful sigh joined the hum of the swirling wind at the cliff’s edge. Her sinewy body sprawled beneath a gargantuan shrub, she eyed the bridge spanning the strait below.

‘And maybe a hot chocolate chaser,’ Miki joined in Rin’s longing for simple fare. Or any fare, for that matter. The chill in the mist biting on her sun-accustomed skin, Miki was squashed in the shell of a collapsed tree, sheathed scimitar hugged close to her chest.

‘Soon, we can afford both,’ Rin promised. Despite the frequent traffic below – the steel suspension bridge was the only crossing between the mainland and the agricultural island adjacent, and was often thick with fluffy sheep, ten abreast – Rin had been assured her quarry would catch anyone’s eye. And Rin wasn’t just anyone. She was hired power. And she was hungry. Nothing could hone her eyes to a finer edge.

Miki was grateful Rin had asked her along, but had questioned the decision, knowing her abilities wouldn’t be required on this mission.

‘I won’t steal from you,’ she’d said, keen for the offered coins but reluctant to sink lower than she’d already managed. It was a stringent society they’d been forced to join, here.

‘It’s not stealing. You never know when you’ll need a sword master in your pocket.

‘There,’ Rin now breathed. Miki edged from her shelter. Keeping low, she wriggled forward on her belly to have a look, following the point of Rin’s fingers.

‘It’s only an old woman!’ she exclaimed, tasting dirt as Rin shoved her face into the ground.

‘Keep it down.’

Spitting, Miki peered over the cliff again. The woman approached the mainland, and Miki saw her furs were thick, adorned with jewels that glittered like far-distant stars in the translucent sunlight. But her finery was not as conspicuous as the pale purple poodle, fluffier than any sheep Miki had yet seen, trotting at her heels.

‘Lilac fluffball in tow,’ Rin muttered, satisfied she’d found her target.

‘Who is it?’ Miki asked as the poodle cavorted about the woman’s feet. Miki had no use for such creatures, but it certainly was endearing. Nothing like the stately, snobby lapdogs that stalked about town gardens with their equally snobby owners.

‘I don’t know. The deputy mayor’s mother? An old gang lord’s mistress?’

‘You didn’t ask?’

Miki suddenly tasted worse than dirt. She scraped her tongue across the roof of her mouth in distaste. However she abhorred the upper-class that demeaned them, picking off a potential innocent at a distance was hardly fair.

‘This goes against every code I follow,’ Miki grumbled. ‘The warrior’s code, my moral code… what have we become? We have to get off this moon.’

Rin said nothing. Hot magic gathered in her fist; Miki felt as though she lay alongside a pleasant campfire. Though she appreciated the warmth, she fought the urge to pinch her friend and break her focus.

‘Rin…’ she murmured disparagingly. But her stomach ached too badly to protest more.

What was that about not wanting to sink any lower? Miki thought dismally as she began to sweat, the air temperature jumping alarmingly. Rin cocked her weapon, fingers deadly double-barrels and blazing.

‘Almost there,’ she breathed, the epitome of concentration. Miki closed her eyes against guilt, hiding in the hum of the wind and the build up of power in Rin’s well-aimed fingertips.

Hmmmm. Hmmmm.

The hum was suddenly a lot louder. And where had the pale sunlight gone? Miki blinked open her eyes. The entire cliff was cast in shadow, and the air thrummed. Below, the poodle gave a yip and tore from its lead, racing back towards the island. Rin’s target turned about, puffing as she tried to catch her frightened pet.

‘Damn that crazy dog,’ Rin swore, and fired twice in quick succession. The blasts rattled Miki’s eardrums, but a far more pressing concern had just landed at their backs.

‘Rin,’ she whispered, making her furious friend look. Rin stopped cursing straightaway.

A massive starship had taken over the cliff’s edge.

They’d not seen any starships since – well, since the one that had marooned them.

Before the pair could truly accept the awesome sight, a door was sailing open, and a gangway streamed to the stones like a silver glacier. Moments later, a shadowed figure appeared at its head. It strode languidly towards them, its smile revealed to be charming as his features appeared with light and proximity.

Fear dissipating, Miki grinned, sheathing her rapidly-drawn scimitar.

Even had she dinner waiting, she would keep it hanging on for such a handsome face.

‘Do you girls need a lift?’

‘That’d be great,’ Rin recovered before Miki, his words more glorious than any they could have hoped to hear.

‘Where are you headed?’

‘Anywhere, so long as it’s away from here.

‘Still want to lecture me on morality?’ Rin whispered as they brushed over the young man’s questions. No, they didn’t need to fetch anything. They could leave immediately. No one would miss them, and they had nothing to miss.

‘I’ll get right on that,’ Miki murmured back. If their lost sense of right and wrong had given them the chance to escape this thankless moon and reclaim their souls – not to mention this gorgeous being to look at and an upcoming meal in the galley, if they were lucky – Miki considered that a win.


Unrelated media of the day:

In honour of my one year blogging anniversary, I present to you the ultimate milestone-achievement song:

Any else tear up when they hear this song? God. Every time.

Categories: Guest Post | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Guest Post: Evil Protagonists (Audrey Driscoll)

Joining us today is Audrey Driscoll, author of one of my recent favourite ebooks, The Friendship of Mortals (which, incidentally, is currently FREE on Smashwords). Take it away, Audrey!


Evil Protagonists

When it comes to fictional protagonists, how bad is too bad? I’m not talking about villains here, but main characters. Heroes, or more accurately, anti-heroes.

A few of these dubious dudes come readily to mind:  Victor Frankenstein, Steerpike from Mervyn Peake’s first two Gormenghast books, Hannibal Lecter (specifically in Thomas Harris’s book Hannibal), Dexter Morgan, and Herbert West (both H.P. Lovecraft’s original and my version).

What about female evil protagonists, you ask? Well, aside from Medea, I can think of only two — the horrible little girl in The Bad Seed by William March, and another one called Willie who is the main character of Daughter of Darkness by J.R. Lowell, a book I found quite fascinating when I was young and less discriminating. Both of these girls are totally evil.

While this is by no means a complete list, it provides scope for analysis.

Some might argue that Steerpike is not a protagonist, but I believe he is, at least of the first book, Titus Groan. It ends with Titus still as an infant. The opening chapters present Mr. Flay, Swelter (who is undoubtedly a villain) and young Steerpike. It’s natural for the reader to identify with him as he escapes from the chaotic kitchen and its grotesque chef and is hustled through endless corridors by Flay. His harrowing climb over the rooftops and fortuitous meeting with Fuchsia in her secret attic make him seem quite heroic. Throughout the book, Steerpike is the doer of deeds and primary plot mover, which is why I consider him a (if not the) protagonist. He begins as a rebel against the mindless, stultifying traditions of Gormenghast, but once he inveigles himself into a position of influence in the gargantuan edifice, he quickly shows himself to be evil.

Hannibal Lecter appears in four books by Thomas Harris. In Red Dragon, he’s a shadowy figure, emerging more prominently in The Silence of the Lambs, where he plays a complex villain opposite Clarice Starling, who is definitely the protagonist. In Hannibal, Harris squashes Starling into something unrecognizable and turns Lecter into the main character.

Why would a writer want to write a book around someone who is evil? First, to explain how the person got that way. Second, to bring about their well-deserved destruction (in which case a “good” protagonist needs to take over); or, third, to bring about their redemption.

Childhood abuse or trauma is often invoked to explain these characters’ murderous deeds. Sometimes this element is introduced after the fact, when the writer has become invested in the evildoer and needs to explain or legitimize his atrocities. In the third Hannibal Lecter book, Harris creates a grotesque backstory for him, fleshing it out further in the “prequel,” Hannibal Rising. Something similar precipitates Dexter Morgan into his career as a serial vigilante, and by the third book, we find out that he harbours a Dark Passenger.

Steerpike’s precipitating event is the fire he starts in the library of Gormenghast. His intention is to create an opportunity for heroism, but it results in death and madness. A subsequent, unintended fire, which breaks out during an act of murder, scars him for life and turns him into a grotesque, unmistakable villain.

H.P. Lovecraft’s Herbert West has no precipitating event; he is initially amoral rather than evil, driven by cold rationalism and scientific zeal, like Victor Frankenstein and many another mad scientist. By killing a travelling salesman to create a really fresh specimen for his reanimating process, he becomes a murderer.

Justified or not, the evil protagonist must be redeemed or destroyed. Change or die, as the business gurus say. A writer can, by adding attractive characters and interesting plot elements, turn the evildoer into a series or even a franchise, as with Dexter Morgan, Hannibal Lecter and the Re-Animator movies.

If the anti-hero is irredeemable, the plot revolves around his ultimate destruction, in which case another character emerges as the protagonist. This is what happens to Steerpike in Gormenghast, the second book of Peake’s trilogy. Something like that should happen to Hannibal the Cannibal, in my opinion, but he’s not my character. The things he does in Hannibal are just too repulsive to make him worthy of redemption, no matter what happened to him in childhood. It will be interesting to see what Harris and Hollywood do with him.

I’m not a fan of the Dexter books or TV series; in fact, I was annoyed to discover this character, because by then I had morphed my version of Herbert West into Francis Dexter. Yes, it’s a surname rather than given name, but I thought, “Great, now everyone will think I’m plagiarizing Jeff Lindsay.” In any case, it seems that Dexter Morgan undergoes the beginnings of redemption as the series goes on.

So what about Herbert West? In H.P. Lovecraft’s story, his imperfectly reanimated monsters gang up and rip him to shreds. In my trilogy, he is psychologically shredded and undergoes a transformation. Into what? Read the series and find out. Mwahahaha!

Conclusion: as soon as a character becomes interesting, he or she is worth keeping alive, no matter what evils they have perpetrated. But it’s crucial for the writer to maintain a balance between evil and innocence. Characters who are 100% evil are just as uninteresting as those who are 100% good, because they are inevitably one-dimensional and limited. Pits, flaws and irregularities attract attention. A reader wondering whether a character with a record of evil deeds is going to be redeemed, or whether a pure-hearted one can be broken or turned has a reason to keep reading.


Unrelated media of the day:

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Guest Post: (Not) A True Story (Sinead O’Hart)

You guys know the drill by now – May = guest post party! Today we have Sinead O’Hart with us to muse on writing and family and the assorted shenanigans involved there-in.


(Not) A True Story

Phew! Well, I made it across the Atlantic just in time to make my contribution to this fine blog. Thanks so much to Michelle for allowing me to bust into her online home and leave muddy footprints all over the place. I promise I won’t be here long, and I’ll try not to do too much damage.

As writers, we face one constant question. Not ‘what the hell do you actually do every day?’ or ‘Are you sure your slouch pants are appropriate outside-the-house attire?’ but: ‘Where do you get your ideas?’

This is a toughie. It’s a question that, when answered honestly (at least, from my point of view) doesn’t normally meet with a positive, let alone grateful, response. I sometimes think that the questioner wants you to put one conspiratorial arm around their shoulders, slide your eyes from left to right and back to left again, hiss ‘are they following us?’ out of the corner of your mouth, and usher them away down some dark alley to explain, exactly, where the Ideas Guy hangs out and how much he charges.

If only the answer were that simple.

Nobody likes being told ‘I get my ideas out of my head. Where else would I get them?’ People like to think it’s easier than that, and that it involves less work than that. I sometimes think people are surprised when you give them this sort of answer, like they were expecting you to say something like: ‘Oh, my ideas? Well, sure. Every Monday morning I get a big, thick envelope in the post, and it’s stuffed full of juicy plot points, great character profiles, and about three hundred different choices of setting, narrative style, and voice. So, you know, I take what I want out of it, and I send the package on to the next writer on the list. Simple as that, really.’ I also wonder, sometimes, if the questioner is secretly hoping you’ll say something along the lines of ‘Wow – I’m surprised you have to ask. I get my ideas from you, of course! Why would I worry about using my imagination? I just write down everything that happens to you, and I’m all set.’

Well, I mean, sometimes this is true. Very interesting people do exist, and I’m sure those people have relatives who write, and who are constantly on the lookout for story ideas based on their escapades. Also, I do know some marvellously interesting people, and I’m related to several more. But I very rarely base anything I write on anything that actually happens to me – at least, not directly, and not without several ladlefuls of creative refashioning poured on.

There have been times when I’ve written something, be it a story or a blog post or whatever, and I’ve immediately had to start fielding phonecalls from my friends and family, all of whom are anxious to know who I based it on. If I so much as suggest that a husband character in a story is a bit of a nasty man, my own husband will appear, his ‘sad eyes’ on full power, wondering – cutely, I have to admit – whether he’s done something to irritate me. Mostly, he hasn’t (because he’s a sweetheart), but even if he had, I wouldn’t take my revenge through my words. Words last forever; a bad mood is momentary. It seems like overkill, doesn’t it?

Bits and pieces of my work exist in various places on the Interwebs, some of which deal with families or fraught relationships between people, and all the usual fictional fare, and I have been asked some strange, and slightly hurt, questions by dearly loved family members because of these pieces of writing. It can sometimes take me a while to work out what they’re so upset by. In my mind, of course, there’s no connection between what I’ve written and said family member.

Then, there are times when I have drawn on real life for inspiration; I’ve based loving characters on the wonderful traits I see in my own dear ones, and I’ve recreated happy family scenes which echo the contented and joyful upbringing I was lucky enough to have. I’ve written about deeply connected families, and strong parental figures, and giggling children. But nobody seems to care too much who all the happy stuff is based on. All they want to know about is the scandal – who the villain is, when the veneer of story has been stripped away, and whether an unsavoury character could possibly be based on them.

It never is. I’m not that stupid, you know.

Sometimes I wish it was as easy as looking around my family and friends, and stealing all their craziness, and writing about it, but it’s just not like that. I get my ideas out of my odd little head. I’m not constantly taking mental notes when I’m having tea with my aunties, or mining my personal correspondence for ideas for my next story. So, in short, what I’m saying is: feel free to speak freely around me. You’re not going to see a warty, horrible, snaggletoothed version of yourself showing up in any of my stories anytime soon. Because where would the challenge be in that?


Unrelated media of the day:

Amazon reviews for the Hutzler 571 Banana Slicer:

Teehee. Check out more awesome reviews here.

Categories: Guest Post | Tags: , , , , , | 5 Comments

Guest Post: 5 Really Good Reasons You Should Give Up Your Dream of Being an Author (Sahm King)

Today’s guest post is from Sahm King, fellow WordPress blogger and poet extraordinaire. Whilst reading this post, remember that Sahm’s a pretty cool guy, and doesn’t actually want to squash your hopes and dreams under his metal-edged combat boots. (I’m not sure if he actually wears these or not, but they seem fitting.) And now …


5 Really Good Reasons You Should Give Up Your Dream of Being an Author

*Disclaimer – Read at your own risk. If you are prone to summing up what a post is about prior to reading the entire post, it is not a good idea to read this post at all.*

Alone-In-crowded-room-10We all have dreams. Some of us dream of being the next big name in writing. Some of us dream of seeing our book on a bookshelf at our local Barnes&Noble. And still others dream of subjugating the masses, reestablishing the Roman Empire in the New World, thus becoming the sole and absolute authority and god amongst men, ushering in a golden era of peace and prosperity. *Cgh* Excuse me. That last is my dream. My point is, we all have dreams, but we can’t all just live our dreams all willy nilly. Why? Because we have bills to pay and these cute minions – I mean children – to feed.

And you thought this was going to be a motivational piece?

I’m going to enlighten you, people. It’s time for you to wake up to the realities of your lives and get with the program. Dreams are for children. Why? Come close and I will tell you the 5 really good reasons you should give up your dream of being an author!

Reason #1: There Are Already Way Too Many Authors
snl-church-ladySo you want to be an author, eh? Let me ask you a question: what makes you so special? I mean, really? Why should I care that you’re writing a book? What makes you unique? What is it about your book that separates you from the thousands of authors proliferating the market? This is the first reason you should give up your dream of being an author. If you cannot identify why you’re different from all the rest, there’s really no reason for you to try. So you’re writing an epic fantasy novel. Okay, what makes your fantasy novel any different from the Wheel of Time series that Robert Jordan didn’t even finish before he died? Are you going to give me more of the same or are you going to make a statement? If you can’t look at yourself in the mirror, ask yourself the question what makes me different from the rest and answer it, honestly, in my opinion, you’ve already given up. Trash the MS Word document and consign yourself to working that dead-end job of yours for the rest of your life.

Reason #2: Nobody Is Going to Like My Work
This is one thing I’ve heard time and time again from would-be authors. “I just don’t think they’ll like it.” Well, you’re probably right. Let me ask you this? If you don’t think anybody’s going to like what you’re writing, why in the blue hell are you writing it? Why are you even dreaming of being an author? You know what that’s like? That’s like when a lady asks “Does this dress make me look fat?” then getting mad when her man answers “Yes, yes it does make you look fat.” I mean, you’re basically setting yourself up for disappointment from the beginning, so why not just kill the dream off the bat?

Then again, you’re probably right. Nobody’s going to like your work. Trash it. In fact, you should burn it and spread the ashes over the parking lot of your nearest Borders outlet.

Reason #3: You’re Much Too Weak to Handle Rejection
9770ce1d937657dc696184ac708d0b00Let’s face it, it’s not really a Walgreens world. Rejection is one of the harshest realities for an author. That’s one of the best reasons for you to quit. You’re going to come across agents and publishers that believe your work isn’t publishable or marketable. You’re going to come across editors that won’t give you the time of day. It’s going to happen multiple times. Some of you will believe that’s reason enough to shelve your dreams. And why not? You put in all this hard work. For what? To be laughed at and dismissed? You should quit. Take all your rejection letters and emails, plaster them all over your fridge and let the binging on Ben and Jerry’s ice cream begin. Let them serve as a reminder of why you should have never have had a dream in the first place,; because dreams don’t come true.

Reason #4: Time to Be a Grown Up
hook260710145941hook_1Silly rabbit, Trix are for kids and, unfortunately, so are dreams. Remember when you were little and you could be anything you wanted to be? Well, that’s not so true anymore. You can’t be anything you want to be, my friend. I want to be a dictator, but that’s just not going to happen, is it? Nope. And you’re not going to be an author. I mean, not unless that’s what you really, really want to be. Do you really, really want to be an author? Do ya? Punk?

Reason #5: The Status Quo ALWAYS Knows Better
20120208001011Some of my favorite people are the status quo. They know a lot about achieving dreams. They’ll be the first to tell that you the odds are against you. They’re right, you know. And if you listen to them, and believe what they tell you, you’ll quit while you’re ahead. People like J.K. Rowling or E.L. James are statistical anomalies. Disregard the fact that what they did took a lot of hard work. They lucked out and that sort of thing is just not going to happen to you. The status quo would have you believe that you can’t make it. And so long as you believe that the status quo knows what they’re talking about, they will always be right. You can only ever go as far as you believe you can go, so if you believe you can’t, you should just give it up and let the status quo have their day in the Sun. Again.

Never, ever let anybody tell you that you should give up on your dreams. No matter how dark it gets, no matter how long it takes, no matter how lofty your goal seems, keep striving for it. Keep reaching for those stars. You never know; you might just be the next J.K. Rowling. You might just put out the next book that Oprah Winfrey is boasting about. Whatever your goals are, keep striving for them. Never give up.

By Sahm King

Categories: Guest Post | Tags: , , , , , , | 21 Comments

Guest Post: Looking for New Authors? (Chris Graham)

Moving day today! Getting my mom out of the apartment and off on her way to sunny, French-speaking Montreal! Huzzah! But before the moving shenanigans begin, let’s hear from Chris Graham, who has a blog dedicated to promoting awareness of up and coming indie authors!

Looking for New Authors?

Firstly, I’d like to thank Michelle for this opportunity to contribute to her great blog. I hope I can do even half as well with mine.

The Story Reading Ape’s Blog introduces the new (to me) authors whose books I’ve read and enjoyed, covering most genres from Historical Fiction & Poetry to Sci-Fi & Fantasy across all age ranges.

It has really taken off since 4th April 2013 (over 1000 hits and 100 followers on 29th April) with people looking for new authors and books to read and it’s rapidly gaining popularity, judging by the increasing number of followers and return visits.  Due to popular request I have introduced two new pages:

YOUR New Authors, where everyone can share information about THEIR newly found authors and favourite books,

NEWSFLASH, where authors are invited to promote their latest published book FREE for a maximum of 7 days.

As you will see from my ‘About‘ page, to me, an author is a story telling ape who has the overpowering urge to not only tell a story, but write it, publish it, and sweat buckets waiting for other people to say how much they enjoyed it.

For an author, there can be nothing worse than getting no reaction, no feedback, no recognition for the hours, days, weeks, months, or even years they’ve spent on their labour of love, their dream, their baby.  I hope that my blog goes, even a little way, towards giving these story telling apes, the recognition they seek and deserve.

I have already introduced over 20 new (to me) authors, complete with links to their websites, so you can get more details directly from them if you become their fan.

If you follow my blog, you can keep fully up to date by receiving new posts in your email Inbox as they happen.

Why not pay a visit to and decide for yourselves.

I’d be delighted if you leave a comment there, letting me know what you think.

Don’t forget to come back here to Michelle and let her know what you think of it as well.

The Story Reading Ape


Unrelated media of the day:

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Guest Post: First Draft (Madhvi Ramani)

First Draft

Today’s guest post is from writer Madhvi Ramani

ninaWe all know that writing is re-writing, right? By the time my first children’s book Nina and the Travelling Spice Shed was accepted for publication, I had re-written it about fifty times. That’s not an exaggeration; it started out as a story called Charlie and Nina.

So I was pretty sure that my character arc made sense, the plot was tight, and that every word was in order when it went to the publisher’s – but then it came back, covered in notes, question marks, and suggested changes. It was like being back at first draft.

Here’s a key scene from my original manuscript, in which Nina is about to discover that the garden shed that her aunt stores spices in can magically transport you anywhere in the world, followed by the published version.


Chapter Three

Nina walked through Aunt Nishi’s unkempt garden, towards the shed. It was old and crooked and almost completely camouflaged by the tall grass and weeds that surrounded it. Once again, she thought how strange it was that such a ramshackle construction should be paired with such a perfect little key.

When Nina arrived at the shed, she leant forward to unlock the door with the key still hanging from her neck, and decided that Aunt Nishi must have given her the wrong key after all; it didn’t fit.  Nina fumbled around with it a bit more just to be sure, but just as she was ready to give up, the lock clicked open.

She pushed the heavy door open and as soon as she stepped inside, it shut behind her and a light came on automatically.  Along two sides of the shed were rows of shelves stacked with hundreds of glass jars filled with different coloured spices.  Nina spotted the one with yellow powder in it and picked it up, careful not to touch anything else.  When she got to the door, she balanced the jar in one hand with the help of her knee, and attempted to open the door with the other.  But the jar started to wobble and before Nina could get it under control, it fell and smashed.

The yellow powder flew in all directions.


chapter three

Click image to enlarge

As you can see, not only does the published version look prettier – thanks to the wonderful illustrations provided by Erica-Jane Waters – but it reads better. The sentences are slicker, the build-up of tension is greater, details richer, sequence of events clearer, and, as a result, our empathy with the main character is increased.

I’m currently going through the editing process for my second book Nina and the Kung Fu Adventure, due out later this year, and unlike the first time around, I really appreciate the process because I know how valuable it can be!

Madhvi’s book Nina and the Travelling Spice Shed for children 7+ is out now. You can follow her on twitter @madhviramani.


Unrelated link of the day:

15 Tips for Handling Writing Criticism

Unrelated video of the day:

The Ender’s Game trailer is out! View, enjoy, and be awed.


Categories: Guest Post, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Guest Post: My Journey as a New Author (Christina Channelle)

Continuing the guest post series, today I’m pleased to feature Miss Christina Channelle, who will ruminate with us on the wondrous journey of a self-published author. Read on!


My Journey as a New Author

 Hello! Christina Channelle here.

This is my first time doing a guest post so bear with me. Thanks, Michelle for allowing me to share my words today on your blog. 🙂

What I wanted to discuss was my journey since taking the plunge to self-publish my first book. I first discovered my love for reading one summer long, long ago. I was ten years old and bored out of my mind for some reason or another. I decided to open up a book stashed somewhere in my room, yet never had the urge to read until that very moment.

That single action of turning that first page changed my life forever. I realized that words thrown together could create another world unlike my own; with ghosts, vampires, and things that go bump in the night the main attraction. I read every book that I could get my hands on until I practically read every young adult novel in my public library. I was a fiend, let me tell you. Then as I fell asleep at night, or daydreamed while in class, stories would conjure up in my mind that I just had to write down. The first story that I wrote was back in high school and is now my first self-published book, Dahlia. Simply, it’s about a normal girl who realizes she’s not quite so normal.

Here’s the prologue below:

I was five when I knew something was different about me.

My first memory.

I had no recollection of who my parents were or what they even looked like. All I knew was that I was alone at the orphanage, disconnected from the outside world. I picture it even now, almost like an oil painting: the thick bristles of the paintbrush created the bright blue sky as it connected to the shockingly white snow. The snow blanketed everything around me, as if protecting me, the green forest displayed at every angle.

The orphanage was out of place in such a nature-infused environment. A large, two-story building, its windows seemed to cover almost every surface. I remembered the brightness of the sun as it hit my sleepy face through one of those many windows. It would instantly warm my body, greeting me to yet another day.

Vines covered old gray bricks as they coursed over the external surface of the orphanage. I had nightmares about those same vines making their way into my room as I slept. They’d appear ominously as their shadows pounded against the walls, taunting me as a storm brewed on outside. Venturing toward my bed, the vines would slither across my body, trapping me in place. One would wrap around my neck, squeezing tightly, as I struggled for air. Rendered frozen, the feeling of fear would take hold, bubbling up deep inside my chest. And as I felt the burning pain in my throat, a thought would flash through my mind of this moment being my last. It never was, though, as I would instantly wake up.

I always did have a wild imagination.

To chase away the terror, I would stand before my windowpane the morning after. Sighing in relief, my eyes would be drawn to the vast forest off in the distance. It surrounded the orphanage, like a gatekeeper, the leaves of the trees bristling in irritation. The wind blew right through those tall structures, whistling, as my ears picked up the all too familiar sound.

I somehow found myself standing directly in front of that very forest. My memory was hazy on exactly how I got there but I recalled waking up, after one of my many dreams, to the feeling of immense hunger as my body stirred in discomfort.

Then suddenly I was at the foot of the forest.

I would not describe the sensation as simple hunger. I would almost describe it as a feeling of starvation, like there was some essential component my body was missing. Whatever it was, this need was so powerful I was weak in the knees with the pain; my belly contracted and released, contracted and released, continually. Food provided temporary relief for me, but there was always this presence in the corner of my mind as my brain searched for the one thing my body craved.

I ignored that nagging voice in my head, the one whispering for the one thing I needed. It was something unfathomable yet inherent. I paid it no attention and just openly stared at the forest beckoning me. Taking shallow breaths, the cool air blew in and out between my cold, chapped lips.

It was at that exact moment I realized the forest isolated me from everything and everyone outside of its confines—almost like a hungry bird circling its prey. Even young, my instincts picked up on that, immediately telling me something.

Eyes were watching me.

Excerpt from Dahlia (Blood Crave Series, #1) Copyright © 2012

 Dahlia was supposed to be a standalone book, but then the character, Rowan, came to me and, poof, a series was born. More than ten years later, the first two books in the series (along with a novella) are complete. Although I love the story and characters of the Blood Crave Series, I find it difficult when I get other story ideas that I want to focus on instead. So here I am, juggling writing numerous stories at once, going through the editing process, formatting, figuring out marketing strategies … it does get quite overwhelming at times. And then I end up spending my time on everything except writing, the very thing that I love to do. It’s especially hard when, like many indie authors, you’re juggling work and/or school in the process.

Do I find self-publishing hard? Yes.

And no.

The hardest thing for me was learning everything on your own: formatting an ebook, formatting the print book, creating a book cover, marketing, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. Once you do it the first time, creating a book is actually quite simple. I think the hardest thing about writing and self-publishing is making the time to write when you have to do everything on your own.

But I never regret taking this path, not for a second.

My journey as a new author? Well, I’m still travelling. It’s hard at times, there are bumps along the road, but I’m having a blast. I’ve met other great indie authors, discovered awesome reads, and essentially have grown as a writer. This is all a learning experience for me. I don’t know exactly where my journey will lead too but I might as well enjoy the ride. Because that, in itself, will make me happy.

And that’s all everyone wants to be, right?

If you wish to read up on my ramblings as a new author, check out my blog at You can also like me on Facebook at and/or follow me on Twitter @channellewrites.

Thanks for reading!



Unrelated media of the day:

What if Disney villains were young and beautiful?

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Call for guest posts!

Happy Saturday, everyone! Ain’t the weekend grand?

All right, enough frivolity. Down to business. I’m insanely busy and I’m not posting as much as I want. This saddens me. Not to mention I think you guys are all fairly awesome. So this is a call for guest posts. You can write about literally anything you want that’s writing/publishing/reading related (okay, so not literally anything, but very close).

It will be a great opportunity for you to promote your own blog/book/self, not to mention I’ll have one less blog post to worry about. Then I can instead focus on more important things, like doing my laundry so I don’t have to go out dressed in a floral pink peasant shirt, grey sweat capris, stripy blue and black knee socks, and electric blue crocs. Mental image just scar you for life? Exactly.

Anyway, if doing a guest post sounds interesting, hit me up in the comments or via email ( I can post it whenever you want — like I have a blogging schedule! Ha! — so sky’s the limit, friends!

In other news, the IPPY Awards announce their winners on April 30th. Fingers crossed for an imminently dangerous victory!


Unrelated media of the day:

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