How Not To Write A Novel – Poetry, Sketches, and Short Stories

November sketches – study of my daughter’s adorable face

Good morning lovely readers. It’s been a while since I wrote a chatty post, hasn’t it? Months, in fact, so with the year coming to an end, I thought I should crack out the virtual ink and let you all know what I’ve been up to. At first glance, I wasn’t sure I’d managed to do that much, but then I delved a bit deeper and it turns out that 2021 was really quite good.

Continue reading →

Right, Time To Get Things Moving Around Here #WeekendCoffeeShare

So it’s been a while since I wrote a chatty, update post. So long in fact that the original ‘If We Were Having Coffee’ seems to have fizzled into non-existence. But anyway, what have I been up to since August.

Well I’m still working on Shadow Dawn. The draft is now past the 70,000 words mark and I’ve had to go back to the start as I feel like I’ve completely lost track of what I intended to do with the book when I started writing it. On the plus side, I reread a chapter from about half way through and didn’t hate it so there might be hope for this story yet. IMG_0966

For the past week I’ve managed to churn out more poetry than I have done over the last three months. If you follow the site you’ve probably noticed the upturn in the activity and I’m trying to keep things that way. I’ve started posting more flash fiction based on writing prompts from Story Shack and I’m trying to put up something for most, if not all of the Daily Prompts. Part of this is to do with trying to get into a routine of sitting down and writing each evening when I get home. If it becomes habit then I have no excuse for not finishing Shadow Dawn or for leaving this blog untouched for three/four months at a time.

Speaking of poetry, NaPoWriMo and Camp NaNoWriMo are just around the corner. In 2016 I managed to complete NaPoWriMo, but last year I didn’t even manage to complete the first day. For 2018 I’m hoping to not only finish NaPoWriMo but to also hit a few other poetry goals. So far I’ve not been doing too bad. In January I entered my first Poetry Slam, I didn’t get past the first round but I had a lot of fun and got some fantastic feedback from the other poets competing. In February I entered The International Book and Pamphlet Competition hosted by The Poetry Business. This will be the first of the six competitions I’ve challenged myself to submit to this year. I don’t know if I’ll manage to get anywhere with any of them but I won’t know if I don’t try.

As I’m now re-working Shadow Dawn more than writing from scratch, I also want to get back to my Headquarters series, and more specifically the Safe Haven branch that I started writing a couple of years ago. Since I’m also studying for my Level 3 AAT accountancy qualification my target is one update a month for the series. That might become two for March as the first update will be the redraft of part one.

Featured Image -- 4635

Unfortunately I’m not looking to have any Guest Posts this year. I’ve done them in the past and while they are a great way of getting to know fellow bloggers, they take a huge amount of organizing. Finding willing participants is also difficult and time consuming. I am going to try a link-up series in April for fellow NaPoWriMo participants but that will be once a week and be incorporated into a weekly update post about how the challenge is going.

However, I am looking for fellow bloggers who are willing to share their poems and thought this Thursday as part of International Women’s Day. A week or so ago I posted a piece called Legs Eleven about the pressures of people judging you based on how you dress. This Thursday I want to put up a post for anyone to comment on and link to that looks at the biggest challenge they feel they have had to face as a woman, either in life or in the last year. If this is something you’d like to get involved with then you can email me at

Finally, I’ve also started experimenting with audio recordings of my poems. I added one to today’s poem When The Words Fall Out and I’ve also done one for my piece Legs Eleven which is included below. Let me know what you think in the comments below. I’ve tried recording videos of poems before but never liked watching myself very much so this seemed like a nice in between. Do you think they work or is it better to leave to poems as they are and let the readers just read them.

It Took Me Four Long Months, But I Finally Did The Ironing! – How Not To Write A Novel – Weekend Coffee Share

Now I know what you’re probably thinking. What the heck does writing a novel have to do with not getting your ironing done? Well the answer is quite simple. I’ve been avoiding both tasks incredibly skilfully for a similar amount of time. Chapters have become akin to fitted sheets. I know they need doing, I know that once they are done I will bask in pride of having them tucked away all nice and neat, but facing that keyboard, I mean ironing board, has been beyond me. Even this post is two days late.

This weekend has been a clear up weekend for both my fiancée and myself. While most people Spring Clean, I like to have a blitz around this time of year in preparation for the colder months to come. Call it nesting, call it prepping, I like to think of it as ensuring everything is ready so that I can snuggling into a corner when the wind’s howling and not worrying about anything except my mug of hot chocolate and the book in front of me. This has meant that the pile of ironing-to-do which had taken up residence in my reading nook was first in my line of fire.

For the imaginary prize in this imaginary guessing game, guess where I am currently sitting? Yes! You’ve got it. My now ironing free reading [though in this case it’s a writing nook] nook. I’ve not even just hidden the ironing beneath it, I’ve actually ironed it all and packed it away in the respective drawers/wardrobe places that it belongs.

Now, you could say that by doing the ironing I was actually procrastinating from doing my writing, and you would be right once again. Housework has always been a go to for me when it comes to procrastination. It’s more productive than Netflix, and it requires more energy than napping, but it’s still a form of procrastination.

It’s also a form of motivation.

Have you ever had one of those days where everything seem to go your way and you get to tick off all this annoying little jobs that you’ve been meaning to get around to for the past six years? You’ve cleared out the junk in the spare room, sorted through the pile of post threatening to avalanche onto the dog every time it walks past the hallway table, finally eliminated the ecosystem growing at the back of the fridge! These are the days where I always feel like the world is my oyster and I can doing anything I damn well like. They are the days where I want to write.

Mess stresses me out. Clutter stresses me out. When I’m stressed I don’t want to sit down and write. I’m itching to get away from the thing that is stressing me and more often than not, that thing is in the room with me. Having a clear up day lets me purge through that annoyance and get to a headspace where I feel calmer, more focused, and let’s face it, more than a little smug about the lack of ironing cluttering the dinning room.

In between various household tasks I managed to find the time to clear off the whiteboard that had been languishing in my office for the past four months and set to writing up the chapter briefs for the next three chapters of my novel. I mapped out the key points for the plot and highlighted the problem area that I need to fix in order to finish my story. I set up a plan of attack for knocking the second half of Shadow Dawn up-side the head and into shape. I feel ready to get back to writing and getting myself sorted out around the house was an important part of getting back to that place.

Of course if anyone is offering to take all future ironing off my hands I would be more than happy to accept. If it sweetens the deal I’ll even share with you how to fold a fitted sheet neatly! *Gasp* 

The point of my ramble is this. Tomorrow is the start of a new month and the end of the year is already creeping towards us like some grumpy, giant toad already demanding to know what exactly we managed to achieve with those twelve months we were so generously gifted. It doesn’t matter that I hit a slump. It wasn’t the first and it won’t be the last one I find myself in. What matters is that each time I pick myself up and get on with things. I get back to being productive.

I get back to writing that bloody book!


You can check out the leader of the Weekend Coffee Share and all its wonderful followers by click the icon above. It’s a great group of people who gang together once a week to share what’s been going on in their worlds and see what’s been going on in everyone else’s. Why not join the fun.


Anyone spot that I bought a new cup? It has a saucer and spots and it’s huge!!!!!

November: There Might Be Time To Save This Year Yet

If we were having coffee then the first thing I’d be telling you is that this year has not gone to plan, but then again, no year ever goes to plan and I suppose that’s part of the joy of life.

It’s the end of October and with only two months left in 2016, I’m trying to work out what exactly I have achieved for myself over the course of this year. In all honesty, it’s nowhere near as much as I wanted to, especially when it comes down to my book and my blog.

Featured Image -- 4666At the beginning of this year I wanted to revamp Headquarters, but it quickly became apparent that I didn’t have the time to do this without taking time away from my AAT Qualification or my book. So instead I decided to focus on those two things and leave Headquarters for another year.

Then in June I moved house and further delay was added to everything on my to do list as the mania of shifting my life from one property to another took over with all the wonder of solicitors, estate agents and mortgage advisers. My time was spent looking over surveyor’s reports and decoding the cryptic foreign language of contracts. For a few months, there was room for nothing else and the book, my course, and my blog fell by the wayside.Whereas 2015 saw significantly more views and visitors than 2014, it looks like 2016 will only just manage to catch up with the 2015 numbers. Which seems a little strange as I posted over 100 more posts this year compared to last.

All in all, 2016 hasn’t been the year I expected it to be, and moving into 2017 I realised that I won’t be in the position I wanted to be in. I will still have my AAT qualification to complete, Headquarters is still languishing semi-complete, I haven’t had the time for things I wanted on Writing and Works, and there’s that little event called a wedding that I need to plan for 2018. So what am I going to do? I’m going to re-evaluate.


It’s important to set yourself goals with a timeline. They help to propel you forward and give you a finishing line to aim for. But remember, if you suddenly realise that you won’t hit that goal it doesn’t mean the end of the world. You just have to re-evaluate where you are, and how you get to where you want to be.


As I said, Shadow Dawn is not where I wanted it to be by the end of 2016. My motivation has slumped and died with no signs of reviving any time soon. Finishing by the end of the year looked impossible. If I throw myself into blogging every day I could possibly bring the site stats up, but I would burn out and not have time for anything else. No doubt the content would suffer and instead of enjoying writing posts I would stress about them. Along with everything else this dilemma started to send me into a tail spin.

So I took a step back. I asked myself ‘what is the thing I really want to see finished by the end of the year? Why is this not where I want it? What’s holding me up?’

The answer was my novel. The reason it wasn’t where I wanted was because I was still trying to write bits of the story that I didn’t properly understand. I had a beginning and an end but the middle was a sort of mushy mess that didn’t make much sense at all and the ending was more of a wistful hope than a solid finish.

So I closed down the document holding my draft, and I opened a fresh one.

Instead of spooling out another chapter that seemed to be heading towards a cliff of empty, black nothingness, I wrote a synopsis.

Well I say a synopsis. It was my version of one. My 2,000 word, broken, jumpy, question riddled version of one. But it’s done the trick.


Going back to the drawing board can be tough, but remember, without strong foundations the whole house ends up collapsing.

You need foundations, even if they’re made of post-it notes.


I now have a four page document that details my story from beginning to end. It tells me how and when the characters interact, where in the time line they are and how I get from beginning to middle to end.

I’m not going to lie. It wasn’t easy to write. At times I wanted to smash my forehead into the keyboard and give up entirely. But in the end it was done and I had something that I felt proud of. Something I could use to finish Shadow Dawn before 2016 comes to a close.

Which is why I’m doing exactly what I said I wouldn’t do two weeks ago. I’m going to do NaNoWriMo.


You’ve heard the phrase ‘kill your darlings’? Well completing this draft of Shadow Dawn means rewriting most of it and adding in a huge amount of content. At least 50,000 words worth. So NaNoWriMo seems like a great motivational tool for getting that done as forcing myself to write every night for a month is how I got to the end of the last draft.

I’m not going to put off writing until November as I’ve got the first six chapters under my belt already and I want to get chapter seven done this weekend. This will mean that I start NaNoWriMo with about 20,000 words and I’ll then add another 50,000 words on during the month. Those 20,000 words won’t be included in my word count for NaNoWriMo as that would be cheating and I want to prove to myself that I can win NaNoWriMo if I put my mind to it.

Right, now that I’ve said NaNoWriMo so many times that the word no longer holds any meaning, I’ll finish up with this.

2016 has not been the year I expected. It’s been filled with excitement and it’s been filled with sadness as well. However, I have survived and I have got to the end a better person than I started. Even if I don’t hit any of the goals I’m still aiming for, I know that I at least got half way there.

This blog and my book are two things I feel passionately about. The book because it’s part of that dream I’ve had since I was five, and this blog because I’ve been able to explore other styles and forms of writing while meeting amazing, supportive people who inspire and motivate me.

2017 will be a new year with new challenges, but I will be the one who chose how I face it, and I still have time to change how I feel when this year ends.


How Not To Write A Novel: Yes, I’m Still Procrastinating

Hello all you lovely readers, how are we all doing today? Saturday has rolled around yet again and this week I’m actually able to get the my laptop and write this on the day I want to.  So let’s start, ‘if we were having coffee…’

Well, it’s been something of a quieter week this time around, and I’ve procrastinated more than I should have. YouTube seems to be the biggest obstacle between me and productivity and I’ve realised that I need to work out how to turn off the distractions and get out with cranking out chapters. To be honest, my motivation towards Dawn Shadows had been a little lax this week, and while I written out pages of notes and started editing chapter four, I haven’t got as deep as I wanted to into the re-write. Instead, most of my writing has been for this blog.

I did want to have the current redraft of Dawn Shadows out of the way by the end of October, but the only way I can see me achieving that is if I sit down and do a chapter a night four or five days of the week. I did have something of a break through with chapter four this morning and I’m now working on completing the second half of that chapter. If I can get that completed today, I can probably get most of chapter five written before going to bed and then start on chapter six in the morning. Part of the reason I’m actually getting this post out of the way now is so I can spend the rest of the day focusing switching off from the blog and focusing on novel writing.

Top Tip For Fighting Procrastination:

  • Instead of turning to the internet when you get stuck, take a walk or read a chapter from a book. Set yourself another task with distinct goals. This helps to give you a sense of accomplishment but also stops you for ending up going down a rabbit hole of YouTube videos that leave you wondering what happened to your life. It also gets you away from the screen and gives your brain a chance to reboot. Cabin fever is very real and sometimes we need to ground ourselves in order to crack those really difficult plot holes.

This week I also got involved with another one of the Daily Post’s Discovery Prompts. I run a little hot and cold with the Daily Post’s prompt, for example, the current daily prompt which is ‘Sandwich’. I could write a post for that but I would feel like I’m shoehorning the prompt into the story rather than building the story around the prompt.

Anyhow, this week I did get write a piece for the discovery prompt: Superhero, and I was really happy with how it turned out. Despite feeling really chuffed, it looks like it wasn’t a post that many people were interested to read. So far it has received thirty views in the three days that it’s been up.

Now normally this wouldn’t bother me as it is still better than having no one read it at all. However, it knocked me off balance because I’d misjudged the reaction this piece would receive. I scheduled the post to go up at 8am in the morning [GMT], and I’m wondering if this was a mistake. Over the last few weeks I’ve been trying to post at least once a day, if not twice, but I don’t want to be putting up post after post within the same hour slot. It seems that after five years of blogging, I still haven’t cracked the code for working out when to post.

If you would like to read ‘Building Heros From Words and Dust‘ then just click the link and take a look. The comments it has received have been really positive so I don’t think the lack of traffic is due to the quality, but more the time I posted it and the content not relating directly to a writing prompt that’s driving traffic towards my site. For those of you who are interested, here’s a quick extract:

I was thirteen years old when I started writing Shadow Dawn and Tara was the sort of girl I wanted to be. She didn’t need anyone to look after her, she was clever, a good fighter, fierce and independent. She had all the confidence that thirteen year old me didn’t have. This is back when Gabriel was the main character of the story, it was still called Obscurite, and it never got past more than about 5,000 words.

Since then the title has changed, Gabriel has been lost, new characters have been added, the plotline has shifted dramatically and there have been more than a few revamp of character design. What has stayed the same is Tara and her awesomeness.

Building Heros From Words And Dust

That’s about all I have to share with you this week. For those looking for some writing prompts to spur on their creativity I’d like to share two fantastic sites that I’ve been using. The first is Promptuarium which is brimming with cool and interesting prompts to catch your imagination and updates every day with a whole host of new ones. The second is Dragonition who put up a fantastic new prompt every day. The range from scenes, to dialogue, to character descriptions.

If you’re ever stuck for ideas on a post, just hop over and see what they’ve got lurking around. You might have already seen some of my stories on here which stem from their prompts and no doubt, you will see many more to come.

As always, let me know how your weeks have been in the comments below, and until next time I wish you all the best. Happy reading!