Useful Books for Authors

Taking a look at my recent blog posts, I have noticed that most of them relate to my own books. It’s been such a busy time that I’ve neglected to produce the type of blog posts that I used to write. I therefore decided to write a post that other authors and aspiring authors will hopefully find useful. However, if you would like to receive an update regarding my books, you are welcome to subscribe to my mailing list at:  http://eepurl.com/CP6YP and I will send you a copy of my latest newsletter giving details of all my forthcoming new releases in digital and print as well as a price reduction on one of my existing books.

I’ve mentioned the Writers Bureau a few times previously, and I would certainly recommend their course to anybody thinking about writing as a career or as a way to earn extra income. But what if you want to become a writer without committing to a lengthy writing course? That’s when books aimed at writers can be useful. As well as studying with the Writers Bureau I have read several books for writers, which I still refer to either as ongoing reference books or to brush up on techniques. Here are a few I have found useful:

How to Write your First Novel by Sophie King

Sophie King has produced an excellent book here and, although it’s aimed at someone writing their first novel, it’s a good guide for any author. I re-read it to recap on a lot of the techniques I learnt on my writing course. Some of the topics it covers include: finding ideas, voice, plotting, creating characters, viewpoint dialogue, setting, show don’t tell etc. etc.

Writing a Novel and Getting Published by Nigel Watts

This is another good guide covering many of the topics in the previous book. However, the writing style is not as straightforward as that in the Sophie King book. I also found that not all of the chapters appealed to me, especially the one about the Eight-Point Arc as I find this type of novel writing too formulaic. It includes a useful chapter on marketing at the end of the book.

Creating Suspense in Fiction by John Paxton Sheriff

This is a really useful book, which takes you through the various ways in which you can create suspense in your novel including creating atmosphere, building suspense through the prologue and first chapter, foreshadowing, hooks, cliff-hangers, time-limits and much more. I’ve actually begun reading this for a second time, hence the bookmark. When you are immersed in a novel, it can be easy to forget about creating suspense so it’s always useful to have a recap.

Let’s Get Digital by David Gaughran

I read a Kindle version of this book at the start of my independent publishing journey and found it invaluable. It is relatively straightforward to publish online these days and this book provides a starting point to get your book out there. The author has also followed it up with two further books about how to market your book once you have published. It was through reading one of David Gaughran’s books that I learnt how to run a successful promotion on Amazon which, in turn, led to me being spotting by my publisher.

Roget’s Thesaurus (or any good thesaurus)

I remember being told by my English lit teacher back in my sixth form days that Roget’s Thesaurus was the best thesaurus available and a must for anyone studying A level English lit. I therefore invested in a copy and have had one ever since.

This thesaurus should be read in a particular way i.e. by looking up the word in the back and then following the numbered alternative, which best matches the word. For example, ‘enchanted’ is listed with four alternatives, all of which are adjectives: pleased, enamoured, bewitched and magical. If you are using the word to mean enamoured, for example, then you will find number 887 next to the word ‘enamoured’. In the front part of the book you would then go to the number 887 rather than page 887. There you will find a huge list of words that relate to the word ‘enamoured’.

I don’t use Roget’s all the time as I often want just a quick fix alternative word which I can find by either using MS Word or my other thesaurus by Collins. However, there are times when only Roget’s will do and it will often throw up ideas that you haven’t even considered. For anyone who loves words and their use and meanings, I would strongly recommend a copy of Roget’s Thesaurus.

Fowler’s Modern English Usage

I often use Fowler’s when I’m writing and want to check my grammar. It’s an excellent quick reference guide to grammar and invaluable to any writer.

I am sure that there are many more useful books on the market for aspiring or existing novelists but the above are just a few that I have personally found helpful.

 

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Meet my New Characters

After writing two trilogies it has been so exciting to work on a new series of novels and develop a whole new set of characters. The Mark was recently published and, although this book is the first in my new Working Girls series, it can also be read as a standalone. The same applies to all of the books in the series as each novel tells a separate story which, with the exception of The Mark, concentrates on a particular working girl. However, each book in my Working Girls series will have links to the other books in the series and some character overlap.

It is now a few weeks since The Mark was published and books two and three, Ruby and Crystal are already available for pre-order on Amazon. As I am progressing well with books two and three I thought it would be a good time to introduce you to some of the main characters in The Working Girls series.

Maddy

On the surface Maddy has it all – a good job, nice home and lovely daughter. She’s also intelligent, classy and attractive, and has a way with people. But Maddy has a weakness for the opposite sex, and has several failed relationships behind her. In the aftermath of her divorce she still feels vulnerable and tries to bolster her ego by dating men much younger than her. Unfortunately this leads to problems in her life that ultimately threaten to destroy her.

Aaron

Young, good looking and a successful businessman, Aaron seems too good to be true. He uses his charms to woo Maddy and soon starts to dominate her life. But Aaron isn’t all he seems and, as The Mark progresses he reveals more of his sinister side.

Gilly

The ruthless pimp that develops an obsession with Maddy, Gilly is bad through and through. He is skinny and scruffy looking, and is a drug addict who uses his income from prostitution to squander on drugs and alcohol. Gilly is abusive to his partner, Crystal, and refuses to acknowledge the child they have together. People are wary of Gilly because of his nasty streak. As his obsession with Maddy develops we are left wondering what the outcome will be.

Ruby

She is my favourite character since Rita in The Riverhill Trilogy. Standing at almost six foot and with a slim but muscular physique, Ruby is a formidable woman. She is feisty and fierce and won’t stand any nonsense from anybody. She also has a profound mistrust of men due to childhood experiences. But, despite her feisty side, Ruby has a good heart. She is a loyal and caring friend and is always willing to help out when needed.

Crystal

Crystal is a complex character. Although she is basically good at heart, she is driven to desperate acts because of her compulsion for drugs, her love of Gilly and her need to take care of her daughter, Candice. Despite some of the things she does, Crystal has a conscience and tries to only hurt the people who she feels deserve it. She has been through a lot in her life, which has toughened her up even though by nature she is actually quite a sensitive person. When she goes on a revenge mission she targets the men who have treated her badly during her time as a prostitute, and we see her change from submissive to vengeful.

And there’s more:

This post features the main characters in the books that are now available through Amazon. However, although I am currently only contracted for these three books, I have a further two books in mind. I’m not revealing the characters in those books yet because I’m not sure whether I’ll be writing those next or something different. Also, the idea for the fifth book is a bit sketchy at the moment and needs more research in order for me to flesh out the outline a bit more. I’ll keep you up to date as things develop.  

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My First Author Talk

A while back I was invited to do an author talk at a Manchester based writing group and, although the thought of it made me break out in a cold sweat, I agreed. This sort of thing is well out of my comfort zone and I think the last time I did any public speaking was over 25 years ago. However, I realise that, these days in particular, authors need to become more visible and interact with their readers so it was something I was determined to do.

I decided the best way to start would be with friends and family so I asked my children for some tips as they’re both university students who are used to doing this sort of thing. I was pleased to find that they were really helpful and understood my qualms.

Signing some books

Next I decided to get in some practice on family and friends then extend it to larger groups of friends of friends. It was great to get their feedback and I found that each time I gave a talk I was feeling increasingly more confident. As I tend to over breathe when I’m nervous, one of my friends recommended meditation to practice steadying my breathing, and I have found it a great help.

My friends and family have been such a tremendous support as usual in helping me to overcome my fear of public speaking. I would like to thank each and every one of them as I benefited greatly from their input. What also surprised me was that I wasn’t just relieved after my first practice session but I also felt a tremendous buzz knowing that I was well on the way to conquering my fear. Having said that, I conducted the practice sessions from my own home (bribing friends with snacks and alcohol) so I still needed to conduct the talk in a strange environment.

My talk sparked some discussion amongst the audience.

After several practice sessions I went along to the writing group that had requested the talk. It was daunting walking into a room full of strange faces knowing that I would soon be standing in front of them for the next hour giving my talk then answering questions.  However, I tried to keep calm by telling myself that I had already conducted the talk several times before so it was essentially the same talk but to a few more people. Plus, whenever I start getting nervous and out of breath I pause, take a deep breath and continue. It was also good being able to take along my brother and his partner who helped with some of the practicalities as well as giving me moral support.

I’m thrilled to say that it went well. It took till about halfway through the talk before my nerves settled but I’ve watched a video recording and am pleased to say that the nerves don’t show. The video recordings extend to over an hour altogether with roughly half an hour for the talk and another half an hour for questions as well as a short reading afterwards. Unfortunately I’m a bit lacking in the technical department so I’ve not figured out how to upload a video recording of the event on WordPress. Therefore I’m afraid I’ve only got pictures to share. However I managed to upload a short clip to my Facebook page if you want to check that out at: https://www.facebook.com/HeatherBurnsideAuthor.

Signing for a new Heather Burnside reader

I think that so often in life we are held back by our own negative thinking as we convince ourselves that we can’t do the things that feel scary or alien to us. But I’ve just proved to myself that I can do this so I’m determined to continue giving talks in the future. I am really pleased to have already received some positive feedback from the writing group and I have already been invited to speak some more.

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Publication Day for The Mark

Today is launch day for The Mark, book one in my new series, The Working Girls. I’m very excited because this is the first book in a brand new series which will run to four or maybe even five books. If you haven’t already pre-ordered a copy of The Mark, here are all the links:

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07MVJV3Q4
Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07MVJV3Q4
Kobo: http://bit.ly/2BKxbBw 
Google Play: http://bit.ly/2NiphE4 

If you missed my previous posts about the new series, you can find out all about my inspiration for The Working Girls at: The Working Girls – My New Series

The Importance of Reviews

During a recent training session with my publishers, Aria at Head of Zeus, I learnt just how important reviews are to the success of a book. I’m really grateful to everybody who takes the trouble to leave a review on Amazon or any of the other platforms. Not only does it help to contribute to the success of a title but it’s also a great way of letting authors know what you thought of the book. So, if you’ve got a few minutes to spare, please leave a review for The Mark. Big thanks!

Blog Tour

My publishers, Aria at Head of Zeus, have organised a blog tour over two weeks, starting today, with each date featuring a particular blog where you can read reviews or articles relating to The Mark. Here is a list of the blogs and the dates on which The Mark will be featured:

Bye for now. I’m off to celebrate the launch.

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Organising a Book’s Timeline

As I’m coming to the end of writing my eighth book I’m reminded again of the author task that I find the most difficult of all – the dreaded timeline. It seems that no matter how many books I write, I still haven’t mastered an easy way to deal with the timeline issue.

So, what does it involve?

Each time I write a book I draw up a timeline relating to each chapter and scene in the book. It’s important to have a timeline so that you can ensure that everything fits in sequentially. This can avoid situations where, for example, someone gives birth to a full term baby when they have only been pregnant for five months. There are many other howlers that can occur because of the lack of a timeline but I won’t list them all here.

Why is it so difficult?

My problem is that I always produce my timeline at the end of writing a book. This is because I don’t want anything to spoil the continuity while I am writing. I therefore have to do a search of all mentions to weeks, days, months, seasons etc. Other things to watch out for are the clothes that someone is wearing, whether it’s sunny etc. as this can be indicative of the season. I then add the timeline to my list of chapters from the book, indicating if a particular scene came before or after another and, if so, what the time span was between each.

I know this is a long-winded way of doing things and it also means I often have to switch things around to make sure I’m not contradicting myself. Fortunately, I didn’t have to make too many changes in this latest book but I have had previous books where I’ve had to make a lot of changes to make sure everything fits in sequentially.

What’s the solution?

The answer I think is to keep a note of the timeline from the outset so that I can make any necessary changes as I go along. I keep a document, which I call a ‘Sequence of Events’ for each novel anyway. It’s basically just a list of chapters and scenes, which gives a brief description of what happens in each so that I can easily recap each time I return to my work and take a quick overview of how the plot is progressing. I also review my previous days’ work every time I return to my desk. I therefore think it wouldn’t be too much trouble to add an extra column for the date/time in my Sequence of Events and fill it in each time I review my work.

If anybody has any other ideas of how to approach the timeline issue I would love to hear them. Please feel free to post your comments below.

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Touring the Bookshops for Born Bad

I have spent this weekend both celebrating the paperback launch of Born Bad and touring the bookshops to find it on the shelves. It was such a buzz to see it stocked in Waterstones so I couldn’t resist sharing a few pics.

Both pictures were taken at Waterstones in the Arndale Centre, Manchester, but I also visited the Deansgate, Manchester and Stockport branches who haven’t received their copies yet. Neither have WHS Travel at Piccadilly station, Manchester or The Works so I’ll probably be doing a return trip at some point.

My daughter also joined in the fun by having her photo taken with a copy of Born Bad.

I’d like to wish my publishers Aria Fiction at Head of Zeus a huge thanks for working so hard to get my books stocked in bookshops.

Born Bad in Paperback – Blog Tour

I’m thrilled to announce that Born Bad is going into print from tomorrow 4th April and will be stocked by Waterstones, The Works, W H Smith Travel and other independent book shops. Whether the book shops choose to stock my other books in future will depend very much on how Born Bad sells so please spread the word and encourage people to buy a copy.

As part of the launch of the paperback version my publishers, Aria, have organised a wonderful blog tour with lots of lovely bloggers involved. I’ve included details below so you can check them out.

I’ve already received my author copies of the paperback version and they look great. I can’t wait to see them on the shelves of book shops.