Blog 64: Book Covers, Taglines and Blurbs.

If you write and publish books for a living then you probably groaned when you read the title of this blog. It can take many months (6 months minimum) between finishing your book and all of its edits, to it finally being published. Many authors begin writing their next book whilst simultaneously working on the finishing touches for their last book, and by finishing touches, I mean final edits, book covers, taglines and blurbs. It can be a bit of a headache, especially if you’re like me and you’d rather forget your previous work and focus solely on your new book idea instead. However, the title of this blog has been purposefully selected, as many authors and non-authors alike tend to overlook the importance of book covers, taglines and blurbs.

Let’s start from the top, as frustrating as it can be to look at your book and think ‘I have no idea what cover it should have or where to even begin’, getting a good book cover is incredibly important. The ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’ may hold true in a lot of cases, but everyone knows that people do judge books by their covers. It can be the difference between someone picking up your book or just passing a glance over it.

If you read a lot of books then you have probably noticed that certain types of book covers tend read more »

Blog 63: 5 Nuggets of Advice for New Spoken Word Performers – Jen Hughes

I’ve been performing my poems for about three years. I started out performing at open mics in local pubs and as part of women’s poetry group Wummin’s Words, before performing at a festival on the Largs coast and in FreshAyr’s poetry events. Around this time, I found a treasure trove of spoken words events in Glasgow, which I couldn’t go to that regularly until I moved there late last year. In 2018, I made it a new year’s resolution to perform at these events more regularly, and I’m now a regular at a long-running spoken word open mic in Glasgow called Words and Music (or Tinhut Tuesdays, as it’s lovingly nicknamed). So, I thought I would share with you some wisdom that I acquired over the many gigs I’ve performed.

  1. Know your set-list

read more »

Blog 62: Why The Blue Curtains Probably Do Reflect Sadness.

I’ve written it before and you’ve probably heard it before, the English teacher exclaiming that the colour of an inanimate object is a clever tool used by the author to convey and deepen an emotion. I mentioned this briefly in Blog 37: On The Importance of Words but I didn’t explain why the author chose blue curtains and why your English teacher was probably right in saying that they did reflect sadness.

In the end it all comes down to psychology and how we associate certain feelings with certain words. There are certain word which we dislike and involuntarily shrink away from, this is called word-aversion, and there are some words which we like and are instantly drawn to. Different experiences and circumstances may affect which words you like and which words you don’t like, for instance I have a friend who hates the word ‘blood’ and seeing ‘blood’ for that matter, yet this word does not affect me. This can be very useful when building characters in a book and it can add an emotional human quality to your characters. read more »

Blog 61: Dreaming About Owning a Bookshop? Read This Book…

Although I’ve been busy writing away in a vampire-style, hermit fashion, I have read one book recently that made me chuckle and say ‘this sounds familiar’. Why familiar? Well it’s because this book gives an honest insider’s view of my part-time job, and that book is Shaun Bythell’s ‘Diary Of A Bookseller’.

       If you haven’t guessed by now or read my other blogs, I’m currently working part-time in a large second hand bookshop. It’s got two floors and over seventy thousand books, with genres ranging from fiction, sci-fi, classic fiction and children’s to history, science and art. Seventy thousand is a big number, and as John Green mentioned in his vlog on Tuesday, humans tend to be pretty bad when it comes to visualising big numbers. So think of it this way, imagine your average small retail shop and then times it by six or eight, that’s about the size of the bookshop I work in. You may be wondering why I’m trying to get you to visualise the scale here, but scale is important. Shaun Bythell, the author of the ‘Diary Of A Bookseller’, runs The Bookshop in Wigtown in the Dumfries and Galloway region in Scotland, which has one hundred thousand books. read more »

Blog 60: Why You Should Add Reading to your New Years Resolutions Goals (Especially if you write) – Jen Hughes


“If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.”

                                                                                                                                       Steven King


“Read a lot. Read anything you can get your hands on.”

                                                                                                                                                    JK Rowling


“Read a thousand books and your words will flow like a river.”

                                                                                                                                       Virginia Woolf


If you’ve clicked on the link and read up to this sentence, you are already some of the way there. This point has been driven home by so many writers already, it has become a cliché. To be a good writer, you should read regularly. (Maybe not as much as a thousand, but it’s a goal? At this point, you may either say, “Duh, what’s new?” or “But I can’t concentrate on reading while I’m writing.”. read more »

Blog 59: Thoughts On Science-Fiction

It seems that almost everyday my newsfeeds pops up with some article claiming that an alien artefact or lifeform may have been discovered, even The Guardian posted an article last month with the title ‘Is ‘Oumuamua an alien spacecraft? Initial scans show no signs of technology.’  For those of you who have more important things going on in your lives, Oumuamua has been classified as an unusually shaped asteroid. You’re probably wondering why this interests me and why my blog is about aliens and not my New Year’s resolutions. Well I’m interested for two reasons; one because despite the fact that humans have found no evidence of alien life many people still believe there is alien life out there (myself included), and second, because I’m writing  a science-fiction novel with aliens right at this very moment.

The classic argument as to whether or not aliens exist is; well if they did exist then surely we would have found real solid evidence of their existence by now. Seems logical right? read more »

Blog 58: Writing Something For Christmas – Jen Hughes

Image result for christmas readingBelated Happy holidays. Holly, jolly holiday season. It was that time of year again. The Christmas adverts were out, Christmas films were back-to-back on the TV, we had Christmas snow (or, in the case of my hometown, a slippery slick of sugar-coated sheet ice), the same five Christmas songs were on a loop in all the shops, tinsel and fairy lights drenched everywhere, and people shopped like the world was about to end. The more acceptable time of the year to have a Christmas tree is coming to an end, Christmas holidays, Christmas, Christmas and now we’re all stuffed from eating lots of food and socially exhausted from spending time with our family and friends. It’s also the time of year where poor students have been busy cramming for preliminary or end-of-semester exams and pulling all-nighters for essays or other deadlines. If you’re a performer, you’re probably silently relieved that Christmas has finally passed and you’re not now limited to just the festive playlist, which of course had to be about Christmas or you would have appeared as though you had crawled out from under a rock.

I learned this the hard way two years ago. read more »

Blog 57: Why I Will Fail NaNoWriMo (For Real) This Year – Jen Hughes

National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo for short) is a movement where, for 30 days in November, any writer can attempt to write a 50,000 word novel. It is the writer’s equivalent of a run and a community of fellow runners to cheer you on. Last year, I dared to participate for the first time. It was a great motivational tool to write a rough draft of my novel, The Dormant Queen.

I was in a pretty good position to participate in NaNoWriMo too. For one thing, I had the time to write every day, which is something a lot of writers struggle with.  I had been working 10 hours a week in a primary school in my area, so I wrote every day before and after work, as well as on weekends. There was rarely a day went by that I wasn’t working on the novel. I added my word count onto my account on their website diligently, and even had time for a quick (albeit terribly written) blog post letting all 10 of my followers know how I was doing. read more »

Blog 56: Christmas Book Recommendations.

It’s the run up to Christmas and you’re looking for the perfect present that isn’t plastic toys, socks or alcohol? Well, maybe I can help. When it comes to books that are being read by the people around me, particularly those closest to me, I like to keep my ears and eyes open. So the last few months I’ve done just that, I’ve watched what people have been reading and what customers have been buying at the large bookshop where I work part-time. I’ve got book recommendations from myself, friends, family, bookshop owners and complete strangers, so without further ado, here are my book recommendations this Christmas… read more »

Blog 55: Artists and Authors.

You might not think that authors are often artists too, but it seems to be true that creative people like to explore lots of different creative avenues even if their efforts are purely for pleasure and never taken seriously. With the recent opening of the British Library’s ‘Harry Potter – A History Of Magic’, I was surprised to stumble across blogs and articles claiming that J.K. Rowling herself has drawn pictures of her characters, though it is unclear as to whether or not any of these drawings are actually on display at the British Library. But if you’re dying to have a look at Rowling’s artwork, you should be able to find her drawings with a quick google search or a visit to her Harry Potter website Pottermore. read more »