About Writing, Life and Writing About Life

Archive for September, 2012

Friday Fictioneers – Jungle Escape

If it’s Friday, it must be time for Friday Fictioneers, the 100-word flash fiction challenge set by Madison Woods each week. This week’s photo prompt is shown below and is copyright Sandra Crook.

If you would like to read the other stories this week, then click on the little blue guy and the links will pop up. For my story, read on.



Water dripped from the dense foliage around her. The oppressive heat was making her dizzy.

She couldn’t think straight. Were they in front of her, or behind? She couldn’t tell. She could only press on.

Surely she’d seen the ruined temple before? She was going in circles. She searched desperately for another way.

A new path! One not noticed before. She stumbled forward. The canopy thinned overhead.

Angie staggered, blinking, into the sunshine. The door of the ‘Rainforest Biome’ greenhouse clunked shut behind her.

In front, her family glowered at her. “At last! Now, can we get an ice cream?”



Be An Author Extract – Getting Started, From Inspiration to Action

Here is the next extract from Be An Author. Previously we have met the contributors and found out how they first got the idea to write a book. Now we are going to take a look at the next step.

“Ideas are one thing; completion of a project is quite another. Even getting started can be a major challenge. So what affects the transition from inspiration to action? What made our authors take that brave first step?

What do you think made the difference between it being an idea and actually doing it?

Wendy : I felt I had to make a big leap – do something in order to forward my work. It put me on a new level to promote myself.
Sallyann : In relation to writing my novel – I was going through a rough patch, and realised that fiction had given me as much help as non-fiction in getting through that. That made me feel that fiction was just as valid as writing self-help books and that seemed to open the floodgates to writing my first published novel.
Linda : Leaving my job and deciding that I was going to work full time on The Hysterectomy Association – one of those ‘now or never’ moments and the thought that I might regret it if I didn’t do it.
Simon : It’s all down to belief. You’ve got to have an idea that enthuses you; that you can make live. One that you carry around with you, that’s never far from your thoughts and that you can’t wait to set down on paper. It may sound odd, but it’s like a relationship. You have to have love for your subject to make it work. And if you do, it’ll love you back.

I took the step from the idea to ‘doing it’ because I had an outside influence – my own life coach. She knew about my dream book and the idea of writing a book – even that it had some relationship to cancer because that was what my mother had died from. So she challenged me to start researching books on cancer – to see what was out there. I well remember the conversation that flipped the switch for me. I said to her “The trouble is that books about cancer are written by people who have survived cancer themselves, or people who work with cancer patients. I don’t have that kind of authority, but I will tell you what I do know. I know what it is like to be a family member – to sit on the sidelines not knowing how to help or who is going to help me!” That was it. As soon as I knew who the book was for, I knew I absolutely had to write it – the passion had arrived.”

Choosing a Print on Demand Company – Distribution

I was asked recently for my thoughts on a particular print on demand company. This company, unlike many, is actually based in the UK. For a UK resident, that would seem to be a really good thing. So I optimistically started to investigate. The brochure I had been forwarded looked super, the packages were priced sensibly (very important in my book), not inviting you to sped thousands that you will have trouble recouping, and you could buy additional services such as editing individually from a menu.
So far, all looking good. Then I applied a simple test to their distribution. I visited the company’s website, found some books they featured, and then looked for them on Amazon. Oh dear. Yes, the books were there, and the print-on-demand company was listed as a seller for the books. But one thing was missing. The all-important ‘in stock’ label for Amazon itself. Not one of the titles I looked up was in stock at Amazon’s warehouse and ready to be shipped. Does this matter, given that they are in stock at the p-o-d company and ready to be shipped by them? You bet it does.
I am an Amazon fan. I use it all the time to buy things. You know where you are with Amazon, and when items you buy will arrive. That’s not to say that I won’t buy from other sellers on the Amazon marketplace, but I am far more likely to buy from Amazon itself, especially as we have subscribed to Amazon Prime which gives you unlimited next day delivery. There are many people just like me, in fact many will never even see the other seller options, just look at the ‘out of stock’ status and move on to another book.
By having your book in stock at Amazon, you dramatically increase the chances of it selling. Most people on the internet are looking for information. This means they are not automatically in buying mode. But on Amazon the reverse is true – most people on the site at any time are looking to buy something. This is an absolute gift to an author. So make it easy for them to buy. Use a print-on-demand company which has an arrangement with Amazon to keep books in stock. Then you won’t ever have to do anything to make sure your book is available now to those people who make it onto your book’s page.
There are several print-on-demand companies which can achieve this for your book. The one I use is lulu.com, and I’ll be writing more about how you can publish your book using their services in my soon-to-be-available free download ‘Publish Your Book on a Shoestring’. Keep an eye out, I’m in the editing stage now and it will be coming out in the next few weeks.

Thought for the week – Dealing with Disappointment

This post follows on from last week’s Diet Disappointment. I thought I would take a broader look about how we deal with disappointments in life. There are many kinds of disappointments – for me it was a lack of results in my attempt to lose weight, but disappointment can operate for anyone at any level: not getting an expected promotion, failing an exam or not getting good enough grades to take the life route you had been planning, entering a competition and not winning or coming fourth in an Olympic race are all examples.
So how do we deal with it? For me, one of the first things to do was to acknowledge that I was disappointed. If I had pretended I didn’t mind then I would not have been recognising my true feelings. I went as far as to express those feelings publicly, and maybe that helped too. Having recognised and expressed my feelings, I was more able to accept them and then let them go (I could write a lot more about letting feelings go, and maybe one day I will).
That’s stage one in dealing with disappointment. The next stage I think is to treat it as feedback. I was helped by a friend who pointed me to further research I could do, and I thought about possible responses to my lack of weight loss. Did I need to change what I was doing to make better progress towards my aim? What else could I try, or how could I alter my actions to get a better result next time? On this occasion, I have decided that it is too early to be sure of my results because of the complication of also adding the exercise programme. I have continued that and slightly reduced my calories on my two low-cal days and will see how this pans out. So there is a process of refinement going on, and I will get further feedback as time goes on.
So I think the most important factors in dealing with disappointment are to acknowledge and express how you feel, then look at your results as feedback and adjust your actions going forward.
Probably less helpful options (especially in my case) would be to carry on feeling sorry for yourself or to give up and eat cake.
How do you deal with disappointment? Are there any other tips you can share with me?

Friday Fictioneers – Party’s Over

Another Friday, another story as part of the Friday Fictioneers experience. To learn more about how it works visit Madison Woods blog. Here is this week’s photo prompt (copyright Lora Mitchell) and below is my flash fiction story inspired by the photo. To see the other stories on this week’s prompt, click on the blue critter and you’ll be taken to the menu of choices.


Party’s Over

“I saw you, Ella! Your foot moved, you’re out. She is, isn’t she Mrs Durrant? Jenny’s the winner.” The breathless voice dropped into the sudden silence from the sidelines.

“Quite right, Rachel.” Mrs Durrant reached for the shiny green parcel which was the prize for Musical Statues.

Jenny’s triumphant smile froze as Mrs Durrant handed the parcel to a bewildered Ella.

“But I won. That’s not fair.”

“No darling, you can’t have the prize when it’s your own party.” Mrs Durrant – Mummy – looked at her sternly.

Life would never seem quite fair to Jenny, from that day on.


Be An Author Extract – Getting Started, The First Idea

Last week I introduced you to the contributors to my new book Be An Author. So now it’s time to start sharing some of the book with you. This section is from the chapter on Getting Started:

“What is not started today is never finished tomorrow”
– Johann Wolfgang Goethe

For many people the idea of writing a book is just that – an idea. You feel you have something to say, and maybe you’ve enjoyed writing some pieces before. But the big one is proving elusive. Maybe you know you want to write a novel, but what genre? Perhaps you are keen on self-help books but worried that everything you know has been said before. So how do you get off the starting block? Let’s turn to our contributing authors to find out how it was for them.

“Where did you first get the idea to write a book?”

Simon : The idea is everything. Mine came when I was talking to a detective about the similarities between the role of journalist and cop – in essence, ask the right questions, read the reactions, get to the hidden truth. From that, came the idea of a TV reporter who covers crimes, and gets so involved in the cases, he ends up helping to solve them.
Wendy : Through working as a life coach and wanting to have a product for clients to take home.
Linda : I’d been thinking about a book to complement the Hysterectomy Association website for some time and it was really the title that came first, 101 Handy Hints for a Happy Hysterectomy – after I got that it took me another two years to actually write it.
Sallyann : I was asked to write booklets as a copywriter, and I was commissioned to write my first book Using Relaxation for Health and Success because it was my area of experience. The publisher only published books from people who were writers and also experienced in their field.
I have written short fiction for years for magazines and in 1995 I wrote my first full-length book. I didn’t continue with it at that time because the idea of being a novelist felt like an indulgence rather than a way of earning a living.

For some the idea comes fully formed, for others it seems to be a progression out of work they are doing already. In my case, I had wanted to write a book for years as a way of generating long-term income while I slept! That idea on its own, though, was never quite enough to get me started.

Diet Disappointment

Well, my first weigh-in 4 weeks after starting on the 5:2 eating plan was an absolute let-down. I hadn’t lost any weight at all – not a single pound. To make things worse, Mr O (my other half) had lost 5 pounds in the same time – hereby showing the disadvantage to doing this with a partner. I had expected him to lose more than me as he had cut down further on calories, but it was galling to say the least. (more…)