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Self-Doubt: 14 Authors Share Their Advice

Today is an exciting days, friends. Today is the day we kick self-doubt where it hurts because today, 14 wonderful authors have come together to talk about how to go to war with it!

If you’ve written for any length of time – or if you’ve put it off because of self-doubt, perhaps? – you’ll know exactly what I mean. Self-doubt is the reason you haven’t hit that ‘publish’ button on KDP yet. Self-doubt is the reason you can’t continue writing your draft because you’re scared no one will like what you do, or worse yet – what if everyone who reads it leaves soul-destroying reviews? It may even be the reason you haven’t started Chapter 1 despite wanting to.

I’m hoping we can convince you to keep writing anyway, and glare right back when self-doubt is glaring at you and shove it back into its dark corner.

Crippling self-doubt is a horrible feeling, but you’re far from alone, friends. Every creative in the existence of ever has had to deal with this, and we’re here today to tell you why you can’t let it defeat you, and how to tackle it to the ground and tie it to a tree so it can’t escape.

Are you ready? TO WAR! *battle cry*

I’m not going to lie and tell you that you won’t receive any negative reviews, because you will. Your book won’t work for everyone; the sooner you come to terms with this, the better. You haven’t enjoyed every book you’ve ever read, either, but the ones you didn’t like still have five-star reviews! You might get reviews so angry you’ll wonder why people have to use Goodreads and Amazon as an outlet for their aggression (and I’ve seen these, friends, they absolutely exist and defy logic), but they don’t cancel out your shining reviews! Ten one-star reviews don’t negate your fifty five-star reviews! The people buying your book don’t have any obligation to like what they paid for, they are allowed to be disappointed. So they didn’t like it; at least they tried it. Other people loved it, and it’s those people you write for (on the days when you feel you can’t write for yourself, anyway – always write for yourself first).

Don’t be discouraged when your first draft is rubbish. That’s what first drafts are there for; the magic happens when you rewrite and edit and overdose on tea. Don’t be discouraged when one person tells you your book didn’t work for them. As we’ve just discussed, your book won’t be right for everyone but this doesn’t make your positive reviews less valid. You still earned those.

And above all, don’t let self-doubt convince you that you’re no good and that everyone will hate your book and that it’d be better if you just gave up now. You’re not alone, we’ve all been there, and if you reach out I promise we’ll convince you otherwise (tea and biscuits will be involved if you come to me).


Eden Sharp, Author of The Breaks

Every year I tell the fledgling first year undergraduates I teach the same thing. Sometimes it takes three years to sink in but it’s really very simple yet crucial advice. You have to give yourself permission to write rubbish initially. All work begins this way. Writing is rewriting. Unfortunately, many beginning writers become so critical of their work in the early stages they either block themselves from writing or give up entirely. All early work is bad no matter who wrote it. Think of it this way. When other artists create stunning work they have to invest in the materials first. A sculptor needs to first purchase a leaden lump of clay which must then be worked hard in order for the beautiful finished piece to emerge. Our tools as writers are words. We need to mine lots of them to begin with. Quantity before quality. They’ll be misshapen and ugly and that’s okay because the more we work the mud the hidden gems within will start to appear and it is these which we will work on until they shine. So you have to give yourself permission to write rubbish without judgement. Don’t be afraid of mining mud to begin with. You’re just gathering your materials. As Stephen King said about the pain that goes with the first draft, just write the damn thing. Polishing comes later. Have faith. With enough work your words will eventually shine I promise.

You can find Eden on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Goodreads, Amazon, and her website.

Nadia L. King, Author of Jenna’s Truth

The magic of writing is contained on the page—it’s when you forget about who you are and everything becomes about the story. That magic is why most writers write.

Prolific American author, Richard Russo once said that self-consciousness is the enemy of art. Self-consciousness is where self-doubt and fear reside—it’s the voices in your head which threaten to sabotage your stories. I’m not sure if the voices ever fall silent but I do know self-discipline can help quieten them. Showing up, sitting in front of your desk, pounding out the words, crossing your fingers that the magic will turn up—that’s what moves you forward and overthrows the voices.

Every writer it seems suffers from crushing darkness of self-doubt. Charles Bukowski once bemoaned that bad writers seem to have self-confidence while the good ones suffer self-doubt.

Elizabeth Gilbert in her book, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear talks about the need to be brave. Gilberts says artists need to get to that place in creative life where curiosity becomes larger than fear.

As writing becomes more habitual hopefully ignoring the voices will become second nature and as a writer you will experience excitement about what the muse will provide. Don’t let fear stop you from connecting with the magic of writing.

You can find Nadia on her blog, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Goodreads, and Amazon.

Rhianne Stephanie, Author of The Collective

The scariest thing to do is share your work, but it can be one of the best things to do as a writer who might be a discouraged. Speaking from personal experience, having a writer friend who you can bounce ideas off and share your writing with is worth it’s weight in gold. When I get stuck I share a few lines of what I’ve just written and a bit of background to one or two friends and they will help me bounce ideas on where to go next, and to think in depth about what my characters are going through. They remind me to think about how they would react and feel instead of focusing on the action.

Another piece of advice I would give to writers is to take a break. Work on something else, watch TV and films, read books. Find a way to re ignite your spark for creativity. It doesn’t have to be long, and you don’t even have to work on something else. I found that on breaks where I focused on self-care that ideas and lines of dialogue just came to me when I was in the shower, or watching a movie in bed with my boyfriend.

Take breaks and ask for help. No writer will turn you away, especially when we have all been in the same boat! But don’t expect results instantly, we have our own work to do too. Best to ask in Facebook groups and get people to let you know when they’re free.

You can find Rhianne on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Goodreads, Amazon, and her website.

Michael Chrobak, Author of Brother Thomas and the Guardians of Zion and Where Angels Dwell

As an artist, discouragement can come in a wide range of flavors. We can get discouraged that our books aren’t getting any attention by publishers or agents. We can get discouraged that our books are selling as fast as we hoped they would. Or we can get discouraged that our muse had taken a vacation, leaving us hauntingly unable to write even a simple birthday card greeting. I’ve even found myself getting discouraged after re-reading my work-in-progress and finding it to be very flat – after completing over 40,000 words! (And yes, I deleted almost 90% of that WIP)

Therefore, I believe the first thing to do is to identify what type of discouragement you are having. When you understand what it is that’s bringing you down, you can more easily identify the solution. I find that reminding myself why I chose to be an author in the first place helps me to identify where my frustrations are. For example, since I became an author for the simple fact that I could no longer quiet the urge to write, if I’m feeling discouraged that I haven’t sold a book in a while, I simply remind myself of why I write. To me, I would rather have a handful of readers who love what I do, then thousands of readers who are ambivalent.

Defining your ‘why’ gives you the understanding and strength to endure any ‘how’. It’s when we don’t know why we do what we do that frustration and disappointment come. Trust me, regardless your goal, if you don’t know why you pursue it, it will always be elusive. Define who you are first, and everything else will fall into place.

You can find Michael on his website, FacebookTwitter, Instagram, Goodreads, and Amazon.

Ellen Read, Author of The Dragon Sleeps

Whether you’re starting out on your writing career or have several books published you will feel discouraged at least some of the time and plain scared at others. The first time you let other people read your words is terrifying. The moments before then you’ll be certain what you’ve written is rubbish.

The main thing is to believe in yourself and your dream. Think of where you want to go, what you want to do, then understand that in any job we have to take little steps in the beginning. We’ll probably make mistakes but use these to help you grow. Ask for and take advice, talk to other writers, but don’t let criticism cripple you. Remember you don’t have to accept all the advice.

You can find Ellen on her blog, website, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, Google+, Goodreads, and Amazon

Liz Meldon, Author of the Lovers and Liars series and the Games We Play series

No matter how much you love writing, I think we can all agree that there are a lot of aspects about the publishing world that can get very disheartening. And that’s okay. It’s okay to have a moment of wanting to rip your hair out and quit. What matters is that you take some time to breathe, recover from your moment, and keep on working at it. Remember that we all get discouraged. Even the most successful authors out there feel exactly like you’re feeling right now. I promise.

There are lots of reasons why a writer might get discouraged, but I’d like to focus on one: feeling as though your market is either oversaturated or too obscure. Let’s use romance as an example. You worry there are too many romance novels out there—so why bother writing yours? Or, on the other side of things, you fear your rather niche subgenre won’t garner interest, so let’s throw in the towel and pump out some silly romance books. That’ll solve everything, right?

Wrong. Write what makes you happy and your readers will see it. Write what makes you passionate. Write what thrills you. Readers know when your enthusiasm for a genre matches theirs, and they gravitate toward it. So don’t panic. Write your novel, even if there are literally millions out there already. Write your obscure, niche genre 10-book series. There is a reader for every writer. Never forget that.

Find Liz on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, her blog and Goodreads.

K. J. Chapman, Author of the EVO Nation series and Thrown to the Blue

I doubt there is an author alive who doesn’t get discouraged from time to time, whether it be a bad review, or just that nagging voice in the back of your head saying you’re not good enough. My ultimate advice for tackling this discouragement is to ask yourself, ‘Why do I write?’ I’m guessing the answer is because you love it, you enjoy it, you just have to. That’s all you need to remember. You are doing something that you love, and no, you’re work may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s yours. Keep striving to do what makes you happy. Write what you want to read. That’s what comes across in the writing.

You can find Kayleigh on her blog, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, PinterestGoodreads, and Amazon.

Becky Wright, Author of The Manningtree Account and Remember to Love Me

I promise you, it’s never been said, that being a writer is easy. We plunge knives through our hearts and bleed through our fingers. We do it because we are tethered to the written word. However, we can all suffer from doubt, those thoughts of ‘why bother?’

It’s at times like these, you should take a step back, evaluate and come up for air. Immersing yourself in those thoughts will only bring you down further. There’s no end of contributing factors, we lead busy lives, maybe it’s shortage of time or the lack of progress on your current writing. A clear idea, a structure, put to paper can be a real lift to your state of mind, to see tangible progression is a great motivator. Allow yourself the luxury of time, even if it’s an hour a day, or a couple of evenings a week, whichever fits your life. But always give yourself goals – aim, achieve, and plot your growth.

To fall back in love with writing is half the battle. Read, soak in the written word, the more you read the easier you will write, and the more focused you will feel.

One of the most valuable lessons I’ve learnt is not to compare. The success of fellow writers, can, if you permit it, hinder your own motivation, it’s never a healthy thought set for your craft. Instead, allow it to drive you forward, aspire, let their success boost you. If in your heart you can’t imagine life without writing, then why stop?

You can find Becky on her website, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Goodreads, and Amazon.

Beverley Lee, Author of the Gabriel Davenport Trilogy

Don’t think that everything has to be perfect the first time around. I fell into this trap for the longest time, and kept wondering why everything just felt clogged up and stilted. The most important thing is getting your ideas on the paper/screen in that first draft.  Everything can be edited. There’s a reason that fledgling draft is called the vomit one! Also, don’t compare yourself to other writers. Just because someone writes for seven hours a day in perfect silence, drinking green tea smoothies, doesn’t mean that you have to copy them. Any word count or planning is making progress on your story. It will unfold in its own time. You need to find your own rhythm and what works for *you*. Try mixing things up a little if you feel stalled – writing by hand works for a lot of people, and you have the added advantage that you can do it anywhere.

Write from the heart. Write what moves you and gives you All The Feels. Don’t be afraid to go where your characters lead you, even if it gets ugly. In truth, trust them, and trust your story.

You can find Beverley on her website, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Goodreads, and Amazon.

R. K. Ryde, Author of the Stella series

It’s funny that I’m writing about advice for discouraged writers – and that’s not funny in a ha ha way, it’s funny in an woo-woo way because that’s exactly how I’ve felt the last month or so – discouraged.

So, how did I pull myself up by my bootstraps and carry on? By remembering that everyone gets discouraged with their writing at some point in time. AND by reading articles and listening to podcasts about encouragement for discouraged writers.

Here are a few gems I gleaned from my own readings and recent experience:

  1. Give yourself a break. I’m lucky enough to be self-published, so the only deadline I have breathing down my neck is my very own self-imposed deadline. Sure, you may have readers expecting your next novel (and that in of itself is a huge boost of encouragement) but in all reality, if readers are eagerly awaiting your next masterpiece, take the pressure off yourself and make it the masterpiece they are wanting. An extra month or so won’t deter the most devoted fan.
  2. Remember, it’s only a first draft. Especially coming off the back of finishing a fully polished and highly edited novel, the first draft of your next book can seem very clunky and imperfect.
  3. Keep at it. Don’t give up. Only by putting one word after another will that book be finally written.
  4. Read! I have found by using my break time (see point one) to read for pleasure, I am inspired by my favourite authors and can’t wait to get back to my laptop to get my own words down.

You can find Rhonda on her website, Facebook, and Instagram, Goodreads, and Amazon.

Melinda Devine, Author of Gina’s Diaries

What advice do I have for discouraged writers? Make sure you always have a supply of wine, chocolate, coffee and ice cream. Oh, and subscribe to Netflix so you can binge watch series during your ‘I can’t do this’ phase.

I become discouraged for a number of reasons. Self-doubt is a huge one. Another is comparing myself to other writers and their methods. There’s also the crappy writing I can do, and the writing I can’t do when the words refuse to flow. I don’t have a University degree stating I’m a professional writer, so that plays havoc with my mind and don’t forget the dreaded one star review.

To overcome all that and continue on your path as a writer, you need to remember one thing; it’s your journey.

It doesn’t matter what anyone says, negative or positive, bottom line is, it’s all up to you. You’re in control of your actions and emotions. You can sit with pen in hand or in front of your computer and do nothing. Or you can choose to get those words down and finish what you started.

So if writing is what you want to do, sure, entertain those discouraging thoughts for a small amount of time. Drink that wine or eat the tub of ice cream while binge watching a season of The Originals but when it’s finished, get back on your chosen path, believe in yourself and write.

You can find Melinda on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Goodreads, and Amazon.

Faith Rivens, Author of Eléonore

I’ll be honest, friends. Ten years into the writing game and I still suffer self-doubt on a daily basis. Some days it’s only a niggling qualm and some days it looms like a supermassive black hole. I fell into a particularly bad rut three years ago and almost walked away from writing for good.

I learned a lot from that experience.

Passion. If you love something deeply enough, it is worth the stumbles and falls. This applies to life in general, not just writing.

One of your greatest allies in this game is realizing that perfection doesn’t exist and so you shouldn’t aim for it. Your focus needs to be writing YOUR best story.

First drafts are supposed to be wonky. Your story will come out in your revisions and edits. Perseverance is key here. Writing YOUR best story requires discipline, but it’s worth it.

Recognize your own strengths. Humility is an important quality to possess, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give yourself credit where credit is due. And never let anyone convince you that your passion is a waste of time. Believe in your abilities. Believe in yourself. Trust yourself too.

Writing might be a personal thing, but it doesn’t have to be a solitary one. Engaging on social media platforms led me to discover a supportive writing community. We encourage each other on our journeys. It’s a good reminder that the struggles we face are not unique to us. We all suffer self-doubt. We all suffer fear. We don’t have to be overwhelmed by it.

Life’s too short to hide away in fear.

You can find Faith on Twitter, Instagram, Goodreads, Amazon, and her blog.

Anna B. Madrise, Author of The Hatter’s Wife

The best advice I have to give to discouraged writers is to remember this one point: “this career choice is a marathon not a sprint.” The decision to go from being a writer to being an author is one that should showcase your passion for the written word through your stories. This is not a way to “get rich quick” but rather a way to see your art come alive and touch others. I have a full-time job on top of writing as much “full-time” as I can. Yes, my goal is to live off of the income that my books bring in but my driving force behind what I do is because I get excited about the worlds I create and the characters I bring to live for my readers. Write because it is your passion and eventually the rest will all fall into place.

You can find Anna on her website, InstagramTwitterFacebook, Goodreads, and Amazon.

James Fahy, Author of the Phoebe Harkness series and The Changeling series

As writers, we are all SUCH control freaks, and SUCH perfectionists, that no matter how many times you draft and redraft, revise, cut and edit, rearrange and review, you are NEVER (no…really…NEVER) going to reach a point where you genuinely, with your whole heart can say to yourself: ‘There. It’s done. It’s perfect. There is no way I could possibly improve this. It can go out to Agents now. Now, finally, I am happy to send it to the publisher.’ We’re good at procrastinating.

Have faith in your work. It should be good enough that you are super-proud of it…of course…but it will NEVER be so good you think it’s perfect. Holding on to that fear and obsessive doubt that either you or your writing is not quite top-grade is one of the first main obstacles to taking the publishing plunge.

The worry ‘everyone won’t love your book’, is also a crippling doubt. The fact is, not everyone will. Some people will love it, some people will cast it aside with a ‘meh’, and others, no matter how much you wish it wasn’t the case, will hate it.

Deal with it.

You cannot write to please everyone, and the important thing to remember is that you shouldn’t TRY to. If you try to, it’s obvious, and it shows, and it stinks of phoney.

I don’t write for other people. I don’t write with a target audience in mind that I’m hoping to ensnare (If you’re writing in any genre, that happens naturally and organically as you pen the story) but even the most loved books in the world will have fanatic fans and sneering detractors in equal measure.

If only a handful of people love your work, that’s NOT a bad thing… that handful of people LOVE YOUR WORK. That’s an amazing compliment. To achieve that kind of connection of minds and ideas through a shared story. That, to me, is the magic of writing, and why we need to confront, rather than ignore, our ‘doubts’.

Doubt shouldn’t ever stop you believing you can make that connection, and you can make it on your own terms, and for all the right reasons.

So stop worrying your writing isn’t perfect. It isn’t. no-ones is. Still write anyway. Singing off key is still music. And stop trying to ‘maximise’ the number of people you can reach and please. You only need to reach one, and your job is done. Any more than that, is just icing on the author cake.

Find James on Twitter, Instagram, FacebookGoodreads, Amazon, and his blog.


How do you tackle self-doubt? If you need more words of encouragement, you can either grab some cookies and a tea and leave a comment below, or you can check out the two previous posts on self-doubt I published here this month. Author Dana Fraedrich talks about it here, and I talk about self-doubt as well as writer’s block on Nadia’s blogsite here.

Or you can do both 🙂

Sign up for my newsletter for updates on my books and recommendations to help you grow as a writer:

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For Cookie Break’s home page, have a look here.

Gif came from Giphy


Self-Doubt and Writer’s Block

It’s self-doubt awareness month on CookieBreak, friends! <3 Tomorrow Dana Fraedrich has a guest post for you, and in two weeks I’ve got a huge collaboration with 14 wonderful authors coming up, but today I’m on Nadia L. King’s blog to talk about self-doubt and writer’s block 🙂

Head on over there and check out the post:

Sign up for my newsletter for updates on my books and recommendations to help you grow as a writer:

For all of my other musings, click me!

For Cookie Break’s home page, have a look here.

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A Chat with Daley Downing


Did January flash by for anyone else? I mean it can’t be February, that’s preposterous oO

Since it is already February despite my protests, it’s time for another author interview! I don’t have that many left by now, so savour them while they last 😉

My guest today is Daley Downing. Daley is a self-published author from upstate New York. She’s also a stay at home mother, dance teacher, and an autism awareness advocate – so, to summarise, she’s Super Woman. Daley currently spends most of her time with her family and the cat. Other than writing, she loves ballet, reading, history, and music.

Hi Daley, and welcome to Cookie Break! Congratulations on publishing the first novel in your series The Order of the Twelve Tribes!


Could you tell us a little about your book? No spoilers, please! 😉

The first book in my contemporary fantasy series is about 3 different families that are all connected to the same secret organization that protects the world from things that go bump in the night – or, basically, monsters. The families each have a different role, and their own internal challenges. In this first instalment, I’m introducing the organization as well as the individuals in the families. It’s a case of “getting to know you” both on a “big picture” scale and in a more intimate way.

Would you mind sharing an excerpt with us, or a favourite quote?

I’ll go with quotes.

“She’ll be fine. We need to get out of here. My wings are about to pop.”

Did he just say wings?

“Aren’t you going to change before we leave for the church?”

“Nah, God won’t care that I showed up in khakis.”

Do you remember what sparked the idea for this novel?

There were a few things. One, I used to watch (way too much) “Supernatural” (an American TV show), and I had such respect and awe for what the main characters went through, to save the world from evil all the time, and I thought, “There should be some underground government agency or something that helps these guys!” So, that was a definite spark in my imagination. Just what would that agency do? How would they defeat the monsters? How might they behave towards the rest of the (unsuspecting) world?

Two, after I read “The Mortal Instruments” (by Cassandra Clare), I was really interested in some of her unusual ideas about angels and demons and approaching how to write about such an ancient topic in a new way.

Three, when I read the “Warriors” series (by Erin Hunter),  I was really impressed by how well thought out the structure of that world was – everything from the hierarchy of the Clans to the Warrior codes and the obvious history the author had developed behind the world-building.

What are you working on right now?

Right now I’m working on the further instalments of this series.

What draws you to the genre you write in? Have you always been drawn to it?

Yes, I’ve always been drawn to fantasy. I’m not completely sure why, but I think a lot of it has to do with the possibility of magic and the chance for anything to happen.

Who/what is your writing inspiration?

Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman have played a huge part in how I think of developing characters, how to reveal plot points, and world building. And Douglas Adams for creative ways to provide necessary background/information (hopefully) without overwhelming the reader.

What do you do if inspiration just won’t come?

Throw a fit. (Am I allowed to admit that?) Not quite. Generally I go away from the work for a while, and re-read a book that previously inspired me, or focus on a different type of writing – for example, I went on a short story binge several months ago when I was really stuck on novelization.

Which part of the writing process is your favourite, and which part do you dread?

My favourite part is probably the creation – there’s something really exciting and invigorating about seeing that first draft appear on paper after only existing in your head. I dread writer’s block. It is just BAD.

What is your number one distraction?

Children. For sure, children. I have two kids that evidently enjoy exploding their world on a regular basis. So that makes it hard to get writing done some days.

Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Definitely a plotter! I don’t necessarily follow outlines or write down a bunch of notes, but there has to be intense planning going on. I might try a number of approaches to reach the same outcome, but it’s never just an impulsive decision.

Often I’ll spend several weeks to months developing an important plot point, as well as character backgrounds, and things that I need to know before the reader does. Once I have those set in stone in my mind, it generally changes very little on the page.

Tea or coffee?

Tea is my favorite and foremost hot beverage. I sometimes have coffee more for caffeine purposes than for enjoyment.

What are the most important three things you’ve learned about writing, editing or publishing (or all of the above!) since you started your journey?

Writing is a different process for everyone. Yeah, there are rules – in terms of linguistics, and great guidelines — for example, on how to plot and reveal certain character traits, in ways that make sense to the reader. But there doesn’t have a hardcore method that every writer must stick to. It depends on what your story is meant to be – and only you can determine that.

Editing also depends on finding a method that you think will produce the best results for what you’re trying to achieve with your book. Some authors really appreciate other people trying to figure out solutions to issues they’re having. Other authors really aren’t sure about that. (That’s me.)

Self-publishing is also a journey. Since I tried for over a year to come up with the funds to “traditionally” self-publish (through or something similar), and still couldn’t get there, I figured that literally doing it all myself – the printing, the promotion, the selling – would have to suffice to get started. At least it gets my work out there, being read, rather than still sitting in my house.

Not that my ultimate plan would work for everyone. But I got really tired of waiting. The fact is, I honestly don’t care if I never hit the bestsellers’ list in the New York Times. I just feel the need to write, to tell these stories, and to share them with others. And I didn’t want to keep waiting for the “perfect” time.

What’s your favourite quote on writing?

“The world always seems brighter when you’ve just made something that wasn’t there before.”

– Neil Gaiman

“If you don’t turn your life into a story, you just become a part of someone else’s story.”

– Terry Pratchett

“I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.”

– Douglas Adams

What is the best piece of advice you’ve received?

To know what the voice of your story is, and to stay true to it.

Where else can we connect with you?

Right now, I have my blog, The Invisible Moth, and I’m available via email with questions about buying novels. (Please everyone subscribe to me and order stuff from me! Ahem. Moment of shameless begging is passing…)

Thanks so much for having me, Sarina!


Thank you for stopping by, Daley! The Order of The Twelve Tribes will be released later this Spring. In the meantime, you can connect with Daley on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.


For all other interviews, take a look here.

For Cookie Break’s home page, have a look here.


Why I Write my Books in Scrivener

Scrivener is one of the best things I’ve done for myself in 2016. If you were already following me earlier this year, when I was knee-deep in the formatting of Rise of the Sparrows, you may remember my love/hate relationship (mostly hate) with OpenOffice and my steady decent into madness.

I wanted to purchase Word but couldn’t afford it, so I turned to Scrivener which came with a free trial and was a bargain when I purchased it!

Scrivener has made writing my novels so. much. easier!

Please note: This post uses affiliate links. If you’re tempted to try Scrivener, won’t you consider buying it through one of the links in this post? It’s no extra hassle to you <3 (in fact, it’s easier since you’re already here!)

Buying Scrivener was one of the best things I did for myself in 2016. Find out which features make writing my WIPs super easy! (did I mention there's a free trial?)

At the time, Scrivener popped up across my feeds rather a lot. I caved and had a look at the incredible tutorials by Kristen Kieffer at She’s Novel. Her whole blogsite is an invaluable resource for writers, so I suggest you click that link regardless of whether you’re interested in Scrivener!

Scrivener looked too good to be true and the trial was free, so I figured Why not?

Now, I know I’m not using Scrivener to its full potential. There are so many awesome things you can do with this program; I recommend you check out Kristen’s website if you want to know what its full potential can offer you. I’m only using the basics – but the basics I adore!

Take a look at my favourite features:

A supporting banner for the post on Scrivener introducing full screen mode.

A screenshot of Scrivener's full screen mode, a customised black background and grey font.

Scrivener’s full screen mode gets rid of all distractions. You’re left with your draft and nothing but your draft – even that small task bar at the bottom disappears unless you hover over it.

If you get distracted easily by social media then this is the tool for you! Don’t worry if grey on black doesn’t work for you. You can customise full screen mode (and just about every other aspect) to suit you.

A supporting banner for the post on Scrivener introducing the programs word count targetsA screenshot of Scrivener's manuscript and session word count target trackers.

This is one of my favourite features. There’s nothing more satisfying than seeing the progress bar turn from red to orange to green!

You can set your overall word count goal for the whole draft, or you can set individual session word counts which you can adjust every day, or even while you write*.

*if you feel like cheating… Go ahead, I don’t judge. We’ve all done it.

A supporting banner for the post on Scrivener introducing the name generator.

A screenshot of Scrivener's name generator, showing ten example names and an overview of the many options.

I don’t use Scrivener’s name generator that often, but it includes some intriguing options such as Ancient Sumarian or Hawaiian. You might not want to spend a lot of time naming a character if it’s just for a quick writing exercise, so this is great for quick suggestions.

And where else would you get Ancient Amazonian names from? Scrivener’s got you covered!

A supporting banner for the post on Scrivener introducing autosaves.

Accidentally closed your WIP without saving first? Don’t worry, Scrivener’s got your back.

Every time you close the program, Scrivener does an automatic backup first so even if you did close your manuscript by accident, you wouldn’t lose anything.

I wouldn’t rely on it, though. It’s never not worked for me, but I’m a paranoid girl and I’m used to saving before I close anything.

A supporting banner for the post on Scrivener introducing eBook conversion.

I haven’t tried this myself, but I bet quite a few of you just looked up! Scrivener can save your file as a .mobi, .ePub, and loads of other formats.

When I uploaded the .pdf of Rise of the Sparrows to KDP, the conversion happened automatically. However, you don’t get a copy, and many reviewers will ask for something other than a .pdf.

A supporting banner for the post on Scrivener introducing the cork board.

A screenshot of Scrivener's cork board with one index card.

I adore Scrivener’s corkboard, especially because it looks like the real thing. It allows you to plan every chapter, and it’s easy to refer back to remind yourself of what needs to happen next.

You can also open the relevant note next to your chapter in full screen mode, so you have your notes right there without needing to leave your chapter.

I use it to plan all of my chapters in advance to avoid getting stuck. If you’re doing NaNo you’ll know that not getting stuck is vital to NaNo success!

A supporting banner for the post on Scrivener introducing its many customisation options.

A screenshot of Scrivener's customisation window.

Scrivener allows you to customise just about every part of it, so you can really make it look the way you want.

Remember what I mentioned when I talked about full screen mode? If you don’t want to write black on white (the standard), you don’t have to. If a pink background with green writing is more your thing*, then you can adjust it.

I’ve set mine to a black background with dark grey writing. This makes a nice change and allows me to see my draft a little differently, too.

Remember the cork board? If the cork board look isn’t doing it for you, you can change it to a couple of other textures or one colour. You can even change the index card edges from pointy to rounded, and the colours!

You can make Scrivener look the way you want, and I’m in love with the options it gives you.

*and doesn’t burn your eyes

Did I mention the best part?

There’s a free trial version you can download, which gives you 30 days of actual use (rather than one month, whether you use it or not) before you need to make your mind up. If you’d prefer to try it first, you can get the free trial here 🙂

Or, if I’ve convinced you, you can buy it here:

Buy Scrivener for Windows (Regular Licence)
Buy Scrivener 3 for macOS (Regular Licence)


Words of warning: If you’re like me, you’ll have several backups of your WIP. I had the original files on my memory stick, but eventually moved the main file to my desktop for one simple reason: Loading it and saving it from my memory stick was slow. Maddeningly, insanely slow.

So, if Scrivener looks like it might be for you, learn from my mistake and use memory sticks only for backups. Keep your main file on your desktop, or else you’ll feel like pulling your hair out. Writing and editing a novel is hard enough as it is, you don’t need to make it worse for yourself.

If I’ve tempted you and you’re wondering about giving the free trial a shot (I’ve mentioned it’s free, haven’t I? It’s free!), you can download it here.

Do you use Scrivener, or do you need a bit more convincing? What are your favourite features? Make a tea, take a break, and talk to me! 🙂

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What Self-Publishing my Debut Novel has Taught me by Beverley Lee


I’m really excited about this month’s guest post, because the wonderful Beverley Lee, author of The Making of Gabriel Davenport, is here today to talk about her experience of being a self-published writer!

For those of you who don’t know her – Beverley is a people watcher, a dreamer, a lover of nature and simple things. She collects feathers, picks up seashells and likes to run her fingers over old stone. There’s history there. Stories just waiting to be discovered.

She knows that the best way to grow is to support other people and she is passionate about helping other writers as they begin their journey – which is exactly what she’s come here to do today!

If you’re into dark tales with dangerous vampires and ancient demons, I highly recommend you check out her book! The title above takes you straight to Goodreads 🙂 It’s one of my favourite reads this year, and all the praise it’s received since its release is very well deserved.



Writing a book is hard. Marketing a book is even harder. That’s one thing I didn’t even consider when I first started out on my writing journey.

Traditional or self-publishing? The most important thing for me was getting The Making of Gabriel Davenport out there. I wanted people to read my story and to connect with my characters. At first I tried going down the traditional publishing route. I entered all of the pitch days on Twitter that I could, honing my book into an impossibly measly 140 characters, and hoping that someone would see the potential. I did get a few nibbles, but after consideration, they didn’t feel *right* and I’m a huge believer in gut instinct. I tried sending off the first three chapters to a host of agents and small presses, all with no success. I became one of those writers with a stack of emails that went unanswered. I’d given myself until the end of 2015 but I think I knew deep down that I’d have to try another way, as I had it professionally edited in December of that year. But I’ll be honest, the thought of actually going down the *other* route scared me silly!

I knew virtually nothing about self-publishing apart from the fact that you could do it through Amazon, so in a nutshell, I had to learn everything. I spent hours going through the pros and cons of buying my own ISBN’s (which I did), which book trim size was best for my genre, costing, what colour page to use. I lost myself in the forest of ‘how to self-publish’ websites. I bugged all of my friends that had done it before for advice and their list of pitfalls.

I learned that having a solid social media platform is incredibly important. I’ve had a pretty consistent Twitter presence since I first started writing Gabriel, and it would probably have never got past the first ten thousand words without the support of my writing challenge group. Having people around you that really understand what you’re going through, who you can rant at when nothing seems to make sense, and share those highs when everything is rolling along beautifully, is worth more than gold. I discovered Instagram in September last year, and through the #bookstagram community quickly found another support network of amazing writers and readers. Here people seemed to get me even more than on Twitter. They were genuinely interested in the progress of my book. As the time drew closer to publication they were the ones who shouted out my book baby, giving me the confidence to push it even further. They are my first readers, my first reviewers, and for that I’ll always be very, very grateful.

Some things I couldn’t do myself. Formatting and I just do not get along. I ended up outsourcing this, partly because I didn’t have the time or the patience to mess around with it myself. I’m a firm believer that even after countless revisions and beta readers’ eagle eyes, that a professional editor is a must. They *see* things you don’t even think about. I thought my finished draft was pretty tight when it went to my editor, but she found places where my enthusiasm for over explaining took the reader out of the story, and after changing what she’d highlighted, I could see the difference. I lost a lot of what I held close in some of these changes, but I learned so much.

It has all been a huge education, and I’m only just scratching the surface of how to market properly. Next time I will give myself more space at the end of the process. It was such a fine line between success and disaster with Gabriel. I didn’t receive my books from Create Space until the day of launch, or my business cards – both because I didn’t appreciate how long it would take to get errors corrected and then sent back. I ended up paying a lot to have both get to me on time, a cost I didn’t have to pocket if I’d allowed myself more leeway. I will make sure to have the book uploaded to Amazon at least two months before my launch date, so I can get the proof copy and look for errors and then get them ironed out, without giving myself a major dose of anxiety.

It’s not enough to have a well written and captivating story. You have to get it in front of the eyes of possible purchasers who won’t scroll through Amazon page after page. They want an immediate impulse buy – something to grab their attention in the 0.2 seconds that they give to each book. Categories. Keywords. Algorithms. Words that Hemingway never had to deal with, but a must for a modern writer to understand.

But if you asked me, would I do it again, the answer is a resounding yes! The sequel to Gabriel, A Shining in the Shadows, is due for release some time in the spring of 2017. The words ‘a glutton for punishment’ come to mind, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.


 If you’d like to connect with Beverley, you can find her on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Goodreads, or you can check out her beautiful new website!

Are you a self-published author, or is it one of your goals for next year? What valuable lessons have you learned along the way, or – if you’re about to self-publish for the first time – is there anything you’d like to ask? Get yourself a tea, make yourself comfortable, and let’s chat!


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For Cookie Break’s home page, have a look here.


Progress Update – Editing, Facebook Changes and NaNo

A Book's Progress 3

Happy Friday, friends! ^-^

I’ve got several things to report this week, so I’ll divide this update into sections. Feel free to skip one or two if you’re not interested in all of them 🙂

Relics of Ar’Zac

Let’s start with the most important bit first! This week, I’ve started editing Relics of Ar’Zac #2 and so far it’s going slowly but well (we’ll get to the whys in a minute). There are so many things I want to add, and I’m really excited about how the story is progressing. I dare say you’re in for one hell of a ride! 😉

There’s a lot of editing to be done, but I’m hoping to be ready for betas around February 🙂 You’ll just have to cross your fingers really hard, is all.

Now, the reason it’s going slowly so far is because madness has overridden common sense, and I’ve decided to do NaNo this year!


NaNo 2016

I’ll be focusing on the first book in my new fantasy series, Soul of the Heart (temp. title), for this. If you’d take a quick look to the right, you’ll see that weekly word counts are back, too 😉 I’m so excited about this series and want to show it to you now, but it’s in no state to be shown to anyone. You know what first drafts are like 😀

I’ve spent a lot of time this week plotting and developing the characters (never mind all these gods that need names), and that’s partly why my edit of the sequel to Rise of the Sparrows is going so slowly right now – I’ve got a lot of NaNo prep to do! Earlier this year I made the last minute decision to do Camp NaNo, and failed miserably. This time I’m going to be much better prepared, since I’ll need to juggle writing 50K next month and editing my second book at the same time. Oh, and being a beta reader myself.



You might remember that I struggled with my Facebook before. I had an author page which was okay, but it didn’t let me do what I wanted to do with it, like join writing groups or post from Instagram directly to my page. I was tempted to just delete my account since there are social media sites out there which I use more often, and which work better for me. I didn’t want to use just my account because that seems unprofessional to me, but my author page wasn’t good enough, either, so I’ve decided on a compromise. I’ll keep my author page but will make it entirely about my books. Anything related to cover reveals, release dates, (progress updates), and things like that will pop onto my author page. I will use my account as myself but still as a writing account, meaning that I won’t upload pictures that aren’t related to my writing or moan about how hot it is in my GP’s waiting room. What you will get are Instagram pictures, book reviews, my bi-weekly writing prompts, my Tuesday posts, and things like that.

You can find my account here, and my author page here.

Do pop in and say hi 🙂 I’m not entirely convinced yet that this is the best way forward, and might still end up deleting my account altogether in the future, but so many writers use Facebook that I wanted to give it another shot.

And that’s it for this week! Have a wonderful weekend, everyone! 🙂

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All content belongs to the author, Sarina Langer.

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How to Handle Negative Reviews

A Writer's Musings

If you’re a writer, self-published or otherwise, sooner or later you will receive your very first negative review (*sigh* It’s a right of passage, all right!) You shouldn’t worry about it, or be discouraged by it, because no matter how great your novel is, it won’t be right for everyone. No novel is.

But it still hurts. It’s still painful to see that someone disliked, maybe even hated, this thing you spent such a long time perfecting! It’s inevitable and you need to accept that, but how do you prepare yourself?

Take a look at this:


This is a review for Rise of the Sparrows. Of course I was disappointed to see it, but it doesn’t invalidate my 5-star reviews! Of course there’s someone out there who doesn’t like my book, and there’ll be a great many others, too. I’m okay with that, because they found my book! They wanted to read my book! It’s unfortunate that they didn’t enjoy it, but they tried it, and it’s not like our readers are under any obligation. If they pay for it, they have a right to be disappointed. The important thing is that they found it, and therefore others will, too. Some of those new readers will agree with the 2-star review, others will disagree.

And let’s just focus on the most important thing here – it’s two stars, not one. They didn’t hate everything.

*ahem* *awkward cough*


Knowing that you’ll get negative reviews and being ready for it, however, are two very different things. So what can you do if your endless mantras of It’s fine, it’s okay, not everyone can like what I do, it’s a big world aren’t enough?

Well, what’s your favourite book? Of all time? Go find it on Goodreads, and have a look through the reviews. Come back when you’re done.

*might as well make tea while I wait*

Are you back? Feels good, doesn’t it? My favourite reads this year – (also ever) – were The Name of the Wind and The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms. You can check out my reviews for them by clicking on the links if you want to see how much I really loved them (or I could spare you the trouble – I loved them a lot). But let’s have a look at what other people thought of them, shall we?



(That’s an impressive amount of hatred right there!)




If people hated those books this much – books that I love so deeply – then isn’t it okay for other people to hate my book, too? Books like Harry Potter get negative reviews, too, and while I don’t in any way want to suggest that my books are similar to J. K’s genius, I want to make this clear, so the negative words don’t hurt you as badly:

Every book gets negative reviews. Every book has someone who hates it so much that they can’t even be bothered to write a full review, and will only say things like “This was terrible. Don’t pay money for this shit, it was that awful.” Every book has a review like that one, and your book won’t be an exception.

That’s fine. No novel, no matter how fantastic and brilliant you thought it was, is immune – and whether we’re talking about your own novel here or marvels like The Name of the Wind or The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms won’t make a difference.


Here’s one other thing you can try: Over time, positive feedback will pile up, too, and you can keep it saved away in one, neat folder, so that you can read over all the reasons people loved your book when the negative reviews come rolling in. This could be feedback from your beta readers or favourite snippets from the 5-Star reviews you’ve received (oh gone on then – save the whole thing!) – it doesn’t matter, as long as you’ve got it handy when you need it.

So, to summarise: Yes, there’ll be negative reviews. Some people will dislike your novel, and some will hate it with an impressive passion. But other people will fall in love with the world you have created, the characters you’ve placed into it, and will eagerly await the sequel or new release – just because you‘ve written it. Negative reviews can ruin your day, but don’t forget that they aren’t all you’ve got.

It’s fine for people to hate your book. Others will love it, and will shout your name from the rooftops. And if that’s not enough-

Head on over to Goodreads, and look up your favourite books ever written. Their own negative reviews might help.

How do you cope with negative reviews? Make some tea, get a cookie, and share your methods in the comments! If you’re not sure how you’ll cope with receiving 1- and 2-Star reviews, get that cookie and stick around anyway – perhaps someone shares a tip that helps!


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My Experience of Being a Self-Published Writer

A Writer's MusingsA few weeks ago, my little blog turned one year old – which also marks the one year anniversary of me taking this writing thing seriously!

It’s hard to believe that one full year has passed already – and it’s even crazier to think how much has happened since then! While I don’t have the experience of long-time accomplished authors with agents, publishers, balloons and champagne behind them (…wait, there are balloons, right?), I would have loved the insight I have now a year ago. While I’ve thoroughly enjoyed learning as I went, there are a few things which I wouldn’t have minded to know before I’ve started – and I’m sure some of you brand new writers feel the same way.

This isn’t a professional how-to guide, but perhaps it can make this journey a little less intimidating for you if you’re at the beginning of your writing career.

Your cover will take a while

When I contacted my saint of a cover designer, I expected him to say “Sure, we can fit you in next week! It’ll take roughly a month, but it’ll probably get done faster than that.” HA! Foolish, naive girl that I was. The earliest slot that was available at the time was three months away, and then we got delayed a tiny bit. And then we got delayed again when my cover designer fell ill. Things like that can’t be helped, and you should be prepared for them. Don’t contact someone a month before your set release date. It’s not going to happen, and it won’t be their fault when it doesn’t.

ParksAndRec12But why should you pay someone professional to do it for you, professionally? Well, have you never picked up a book because the cover smiled at you from across the room? There you go. Your book’s cover is your introduction to a potential reader. The first three seconds. You wouldn’t turn up to a job interview in sweat pants, and that’s precisely what the first three seconds of someone seeing your book’s shiny cover is – a job interview. Make sure it’s dressed the part.

Beta readers are vital

I can’t stress enough how fantastic my beta readers have been. You need someone else to go over your document for you, and there’s no one better suited for this than someone you don’t know personally. Someone who enjoys the genre your writing. Your friends are biased and might not be honest if they don’t like it, and your mum is definitely biased. If you have friends who can be brutal, great, but don’t count on it and don’t use it as an excuse not to get actual beta readers. I know it’s terrifying to have someone you don’t know pick your novel to pieces and tell you everything that needs fixing, but that’s what betas are there for!

My betas have changed my document in so many amazing ways and spotted mistakes you’d think I’d have seen myself, but didn’t. For example, one of the horses changed gender part-way through – I can’t explain how it slipped past me but it did, and if I missed something as obvious as that chances are you’re missing smaller, more subtle issues, too.

You need want betas. Your fellow writers will love to help you out- all you need to do is ask!

You want an editor

I know a lot of self-published writers opt out of getting an editor because they cost money, but have you considered that it’s money extremely well spent? Yes, editors are costly, but they have the know-how to whip your document into shape! If you want to take this writing business seriously and have at least a small shot at being successful, there’s no way around it. Yes, I know even traditionally books have some spelling mistakes. Editors are heroes but not superhuman, they can’t spot everything. Would you rather publish a book that has one hundred mistakes, or three?

editingIf you’re not sure what type of edit your document would most profit from, check out my post here where my editor Briana Morgan talks you through the different options.

People love a map

A map does so many good things for your novel. Not only does it look really pretty at the front of your book, but it also gives your readers a chance to see where your characters are. It makes it more real. And it tells people that you’ve really thought your world through! Plus it’s fun to draw the thing. But get a cartographer to pretty it up a little, maybe. A good cartographer can tell you about things you’ve drawn in that don’t make sense, either, like upwards flowing rivers. If it’s something specific to your world and intentional then you’re good, but if it’s a mistake it’s better to know about it when you can still fix it than when a disgruntled reader calls you out on your nonsense.

Just look at this pretty thing at the front of my book! <3 Even my Sellybean was impressed!

If you’re not sure what a cartographer can add to your book, take a look at my post here where my cartographer explains everything you need to know.

The writing community is here for you

Social Media is good for two huge things. The first one being that the writing community is the friendliest, most welcoming and supportive community I’ve found online. They’ll pull you up when you need it, inspire you on off days and cheer you on whether you need them to or not. Have you had a bad day staring at your document without progress? We’ve got you covered! Received an overly negative review? There’s a cat gif for that! Or maybe you just generally need a bit of motivation to get that writing sprint started? We can do that, too! (Honestly, we fix a lot with cat gifs)

motivational catSocial Media = Exposure

This is the second huge thing the writing community is good for. Exposure. If you start your blog, a twitter account and maybe a facebook/instagram/pinterest/whatever your addiction before your book’s first draft is completed, you’ll already have a few curious people awaiting the release of your novel. Beats having no one know about you and your baby, right? On top of that, if you have wonderful followers like I do they’ll shout your book’s name (and yours) from the rooftops of twitter and instagram, which is free advertising! Just because they loved your book!

Did I mention you’ll make some wonderful writing buddies along the way? There’s no reason not to join the social media hype.

It’s a good idea to give your book away. For free.

Assuming that you’re giving it to someone who will write a review for you, that is. You don’t want to give it away to everyone who asks-presumably you do want to make some money-but if the person asking you can write a nice, positive review in return? Reviews sell books, you know! The more reviews you get the better, and giving your book away for free to a reviewer is a great way of getting some reviews and, therefore, exposure.

free booksWriter’s Block is a lie.

This is going to be a wee bit controversial, but personally I don’t believe in writer’s block. Some days it’s easy to write, and other days it feels like you’re trying to draw enough blood from a stone to summon a small army of demons. Writing isn’t always easy, and there will be days when you’ll feel like the words just won’t come. But they will, if you keep at it.

Don’t forget that there are other ways to work on your novel besides writing the words- you could draw your map, name that one character you’ve referred to as Wizard 2 until now, or figure out how the religious beliefs in Country C work exactly. While you’re doing that, you may not be writing but your mind is still focused on it. You can easily make a lot of progress without actually writing!

maya angelou quoteBreaks are good for you.

There’s a lot of pressure on self-employed people to work constantly without breaks, but that’s a good way of damaging your sanity permanently. Burn-out is one hell of a nasty thing, and you don’t want to drive yourself into it. You’re not a machine. You’re human (or whatever you want to classify yourself as). You need breaks, or you’ll destroy yourself. I know it can be difficult to take just five minutes to yourself, but go ahead- take an hour. Or you know what? Take a whole day off! You’d get breaks in every other job, so why not in this one? Relax, and have some fun. Believe me, you’ve earned it.

Reward Yourself!

It doesn’t matter how small the accomplishment – if you’ve just ticked something off your ever-growing to-do list, treat yourself! Have a cookie, relax for a bit, watch one more episode of your favourite TV Show, go for a walk – whatever you fancy doing, do it. Writing can be a solitary job, and we don’t have a manager looking over our shoulders to praise us when we’ve done something well (not that this happens in most jobs, anyway) so we may as well do it ourselves. So what if it’s only small progress? It’s progress! Celebrate!

treatYoSelf3Don’t be too hard on yourself

By all means, set deadlines, but please be realistic. Publishing your book in three months from now might sound wonderful, but can you do it without killing yourself? If you haven’t published a book yourself before, allow more time rather than less to allow for things to go wrong (I’m looking at you, OpenOffice formatting!!). Once you’ve set your publication date, stick to it, even if you’re technically ready to publish sooner. You build momentum in the months and weeks before release, and if you turn around and say ‘sorry, you can have it now’ you lose all that momentum.

For Rise of the Sparrows I set myself some rather strict deadlines. A couple of which I reached early, but it was still a little close. I got the work done, but I was exhausted by the end! So, my promise to myself for the next release is to take it a little easier, and be a wee bit more forgiving. Remember that burn-out devil I mentioned? We don’t want that. Writing a book is hard enough without you turning against yourself.

What’s the most important thing you’ve learned since you started writing? Treat yourself to a cookie since you’ve definitely earned it, and let’s have a chat!


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… and Then the MC Died. The End.

A Writer's Musings

I recently read a review about a series where the Main Character died at the end – and the reviewer was not a happy kitten.

I admit that I’d be pretty upset if the main character I spent three, four, five, maybe more books rooting for died at the very end, and I’m sure you feel the same way.

But is that really such a bad thing? When I read a book, I want there to be a chance that the main character doesn’t survive it. If I can count on the main character being alive at the end, I know a pretty important part of the final struggle before I even start, and can stop worrying about the main character’s safety. They may get hurt, possibly badly, but they won’t die.

Of course I want them to survive, but that doesn’t mean that they have to just to appease the reader.

When I realised that there were more books in the Sword of Truth series than I’d known about I ordered the remaining four books. The author himself warned readers that, if we wanted a happy ending, we shouldn’t read past Book 11. I was prepared for the main characters to die – and it made the read far more exciting! I’d made peace with the main character dying at the end, and was prepared for it. I came to terms with my favourite characters probably not making it – but I didn’t know for sure, and that made it so much more thrilling to read on!

I don’t think killing your main character should be frowned upon. Of course readers will hope that they survive, but if there’s no chance of him or her dying at all I already know how it ends. I do read books for the journey, but I want some uncertainty about the destination, too.

If you’re a writer yourself you probably understand that sometimes, people have to die. It makes more sense for them to die than to live. In Rise of the Sparrows I tried to save a character, but ultimately let them die because it wouldn’t have made sense for them to be the only exception. Death in fiction has to be justified – characters shouldn’t just die because we feel like it – but their lives need to be justified as well. If there’s simply no way a character can survive something then they shouldn’t. Even if we’re talking about the main character.

But enough from me! What are your thoughts on this? Do you think that the main character should always live, no matter the odds? Or do you think it’s acceptable to kill your main character, if it’s justified? Get yourself a cookie and some tea, and let’s chat!


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Human Sacrifice, Ancient Gods and Lady Fern

One of my favourite things about the writing process is the research I do. There is so much intriguing/stunning/horrifying information out there, and writing let’s me delve into things I probably wouldn’t have touched otherwise.

Here are a few of my favourite discoveries:

Lady Fern

lady fern

My parents love gardening (meaning they revere it religiously), and I wanted to be a witch when I was younger (as we all do, non?) so I knew – to a very small extend – how useful herbs and plants can be before I started my research. Sage, for example, can be used for just about everything. It can be used to treat a wound, to stop a wound from becoming infected, it can be used as a painkiller, and has many more uses I would not have known about if it wasn’t for my writing.

In Rise of the Sparrows I refer to lady fern, which has very similar uses to sage. If you roll it up between your palms to form a rough mash, you can use the juices to ease stinging nettle burns, minor cuts and any other stings or burns. That’s precisely what it’s used for in my book – Cale treats Cephy’s burnt and blistered hands with a paste he’s made from lady fern.

Human Sacrifice

I won’t lie – I was excited to research this. The traditions of human sacrifice aren’t something you hear about often, but thanks to my books having a rather dark side I got to do a bit of research.

evil laugh

The Incas were kinder than expected. They sacrificed mostly children to prevent natural disasters, such as volcanic eruptions, earthquakes and floods, and believed that the sacrificed children would go on to a better afterlife. While they also sacrificed prisoners, they raised children specifically for the task. Those children were treated extremely well before they were killed, had feasts in their honour and they got to meet the emperor. Between that and the promise of a better afterlife, they probably thought they were doing the kids a favour.

The Hawaiians, on the other hand, have a much darker history than I ever knew. They sacrificed captives, often chiefs from other tribes, by hanging them upside down from wooden racks and anointed a priest with the sweat from the sacrifices. They then beat them until smooth (imagine tenderising your cut of beef before you cook it), eviscerated them, and finally cooked the flesh to be eaten by the priest and tribe chief. At times they ate them raw, too.

And then there were the aztecs, the carthaginians, the etruscans,… But I’ll leave you to do your own research if you’d like to know more – it’s a fascinating subject 😉

Japanese Mythology

I was quite excited to delve into this one, too. One of the countries in my trilogy, Midoka, is very loosely based on Japan, and to do it justice I thought I’d research their mythology and came across a very interesting creation myth. I won’t bore you with the details here if that’s not your thing, but if you like you can read more about the one here.

While reading up on Japanese myths I got sidetracked by a few other creation myths as well. Did you know that it’s a very common belief across many religions that one day the world will be reborn? (you’ll have to excuse me if everyone but me knew this already, I’m not very religious)

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got research to do 😉 (regarding the end of the universe, as well as theories around multiple universes and parallel worlds)

What’s the most interesting research you’ve done? What’s the strangest? Grab a cookie and let’s chat!


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