Blog 54: My First Collaboration and What I’ve Learned From It – Jen Hughes.

In life, you have groups you work well in, and ones you don’t. It applies just as much to writing collaboratively as it does to everything else. I conveniently forgot about the horrible experiences I’ve had working with others when I eagerly signed up to contribute to an online magazine in August last year.

I found an opportunity on one of the many Facebook writers groups out there. The website was run by a Dutch guy looking for extra writers for his website. From the get-go, you could see it was his brainchild and his artistic vision. It had parts of his complex novels and his stories on it. There is only so much content, however, that one man- even to the imaginative powerhouse such as he- could produce.

So this is where I came in. read more »

Blog 53: One Year In A Book Shop.

Image result for writer

So it’s the one-year anniversary of when I finally moved out on my own and started volunteering part-time in a book shop, and it has been an amazing and rewarding year, both for my general confidence and my writing. I’ve learnt more about the world through direct experience and talking to people in one year, than I ever did at school or university, and I feel that that is a really important thing to note. I’m not saying that traditional education doesn’t have it’s uses, it does, but it’s becoming more and more apparent that our educational systems are somewhat lacking in life skills. But enough about that, education is a topic I could talk about for forever and I want to share with you what I’ve learnt in the last year. read more »

Blog 52: Stage Fright – Jen Hughes.

I was a bit worried. Not overly worried, just a little. My little brother was having a party. (I can’t call him my “little” brother anymore, seeing as he’s 6 ft and I’m 4’11” but oh well). He wanted me out of the house, not because he hated my company or anything but because it was a teenage party. Full of spotty youths being drunk and falling over. Not really my kind of thing, but it does dent your ego a touch when the dog is more likely to get invited to a party than you are.

Luckily for me, I had something else to do that night. Stage Fright was on. I hopped on the number 6 bus to the little café at Queens Court, Ayr which is run by local cultural movement Freshayr. For those who don’t know, Ayr is a town on the west coast of Scotland and is best known as being the hometown of our national poet, Robert Burns.

Robert Burns is most famous for New Year’s Eve favourite Auld Lang Syne, however he has written many poems and songs adored throughout the world such as Tam O Shanter, Tae A Moose (where Steinbeck’s novel ‘Of Mice and Men’ got its title) and My Love is Like A Red, Red Rose to name just a few. Not surprisingly, Ayr has milked tourist revenue to ridiculous proportions, with countless Burns themed pubs, restaurants, festivals, statues, you name it, it’s got a Burns reference somewhere. Yet it has little to offer to actual poets who live in Ayr, which is why Freshayr came into being. read more »

Blog 51: What Writing A Novel Looks Like.

When I tell people that I’m an author and that I write YA fiction, I am often met with looks of wonder and awe. Most people seem to think that writing a book is an amazing feat, something that ordinary people just cannot do. It is flattering to say the least, and as much as it does take a certain type of person with a good imagination and determination, a lot of it actually just comes down to hard work and perseverance. These looks of wonder and awe are often followed by questions about my work and life. Questions which I struggle to answer adequately on the spot, so here is a picture instead.

This is a conservative picture of what my work and life looks like when I’m working on a novel. I say conservative because this picture is minus the caffeine, sleepless hours, hundreds of binned crumpled notes, dozens of typed draft versions, culling of characters, the rewrites, and the final edit. This picture is just part of what it takes for me to write a story, a story I’m not sure anyone is going to read or like at the end of the day, and as for sales, well, I hope so!

People often ask me how do I write a book and what is it like? read more »

Blog 49: Four Twitter Micro-Stories

I’ve written several micro-stories for Twitter, but inevitably tweets are drowned and lost in the thousands of tweets posted every second, which on average is actually 6,000 tweets per second. So I thought I would share my Twitter micro-stories for you here, just in case you missed them. Writing a micro-story for Twitter is no small feat if you ever want to try it yourself, you have 140 characters to play around with and that includes all your spaces and punctuation too. Here are four of my micro-story tweets and I shall explain my thoughts and ideas behind the writing for these pieces.

For this micro-story I was actually daydreaming about characters, more specifically creating characters and how our ancestors gifted certain circumstances and natural objects to human-like deities. read more »

Blog 46: An Interview With Young Writers’ Short Story Competition, 2017 Winner, Holly Kybett Smith.

  1. I loved “Laboratory Angel” and the exploration of science ethics in your ideas. Science is obviously something that interests you. Do you have a science background at all?

To be honest, I don’t. I’ve got GCSEs in physics, chemistry and biology but that’s about as far as my background certifiably extends. My interest in science – biology especially – has always had a strong influence over my writing, though. A lot of what I read is science fiction, and when I was studying biology at school I had a very enthusiastic teacher; she taught my class way more than what was on the syllabus and all of it with this crazy-excited gleam in her eyes. These days I think any background I have in science can be classed as hobby-work. I like reading and learning about it when I have the time.

  1. What are your thoughts on AI and the growing trend for creating intelligent robots?

I love this question. The whole concept of AI – specifically robots mimicking human cognitive functions – seemed like absolute fiction when I was growing up, and it astounds me to think that that wasn’t even very long ago, considering how far scientists have come since then. Personally I’m both excited by the prospect and terrified. While I would love to see where we could go with these sorts of technologies, I’m worried about how we as humans will play it. I don’t want things turning out the way they did in Laboratory Angel, for example! read more »

Blog 43: Notes On Book Marketing.

The idea of marketing your book can be overwhelming, especially if you’re an indie author and you’re just starting out. Below are some of the thoughts and suggestions from a marketing friend of mine who has been looking at the most effective promotional tools for authors. From branding, to online and offline marketing, here is everything you need to know to get started…

read more »

Blog 41: Total Originality Is Probably Impossible.

A friend once told me that they had an idea for a book that they wanted to write. When I asked why they weren’t writing it, they listed a number of excuses, but one stuck out to me in particular. They wanted their idea to be completely new and original, and they didn’t want to write something that wasn’t. Now I was puzzled by this, the idea of creating a completely original story is something that I think many authors would love to and dream about achieving, but I don’t feel that this is a realistic possibility. read more »

Blog 40: Why You Should Invest In An Editor.

“The funny thing about writing is that whether you’re doing it well or you’re doing it poorly, it looks the exact same. That is actually one of the main ways that writing is different from ballet dancing.” – John Green

If you’re an indie author and either have, or are considering self-publishing, then let me borrow a few minutes of your time to tell you why I think investing in a good editor is important.

I’ve read many books over the years and I’m by no means an expert in the field of writing, but I have noticed reoccurring patterns and feelings. Particularly feelings of disappointment and confusion when a book I’ve been reading has fallen flat or the characters have just acted bizarrely for no apparent reason, and yes I have fallen into this trap too.

As a writer and author, I know how difficult it is to come up with compelling, yet realistic ideas that make sense for your story. When I was writing my first published book Anomaly, which I rewrote dozens of times with the help of a couple of editors, I found that in later rewrites my mind had become so saturated with my story that I could no longer decide whether my writing and ideas were good, or if they were just plain terrible. I experienced feelings of panic and anxiety for weeks and months, even after I finished the book and it went off for publication. In fact, the earliest versions of Anomaly bear very little resemblance to what I eventually wrote and published in 2016. read more »

Blog 38: On the ‘Heart Of Darkness’ by Joseph Conrad.

Image result for Heart of darkness

At the beginning of this year I set myself the task of reading more books considered ‘classics’ in order to widen my literary knowledge and improve my writing skills. After asking a friend and colleague for book recommendations, I have made it to and finished the modern classic and short story, ‘Heart of Darkness’ by Joseph Conrad. Previously, I had never heard of Joseph Conrad, so I decided to do some research about the author.

Joseph Conrad was born in December 1857, he was a Polish-British writer who was granted British nationality in 1886. Many of his works feature nautical settings which is not surprising considering Conrad expressed a desire to go to sea and spent time working on French merchant vessels before joining a British ship as an apprentice.

The ‘Heart of Darkness’ explores the effects of European imperialism and colonialism in Africa, both for the African people who lived there and the Europeans who were sent there as part of the now, illegal, ivory trade. Conrad writes from read more »