Monday, 22 October 2018

Book review: The Emotion Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi

⭐⭐ out of 5

Good in theory, but unfortunately it's another disappointment in reality.

Fluff for most of the book, table of contents at the back yet again and only a few pages of emotions.  The first page of emotions lulled me into a false hope that there would be loads of pages of emotion names, like with the Positive traits book, but I was wrong... unfortunately it's more like the negative traits book.

If you're looking for a book that gives you loads of names of emotions, like I was, then you will be disappointed.  If you want to teach your granny how to suck eggs then this might help.  The positive traits was the most helpful book of the three for what I wanted.


Book review: Negative Trait Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi

⭐⭐ out of 5

This is a really short book that has very few negative traits in it.  Useful if you really can't think of any negative traits, but there are only a few and it's all back to front with most of it telling your granny how to suck eggs and very little useful information unfortunately.

The table of contents is at the back again and I went straight there this time and there were only maybe 3 or 4 pages of negative traits at the back and a load of padding over the first three quarters.

It's good to have it in one place, but there are more negative emotions than are in this book.  The positive traits book had several pages of emotion compared to the handful in this one.

Useful at a stretch, but could be a lot better and more useful to writers if there was more negative trait names and less fluff at the start... would be good if the table of contents was in the right place too!


Book review: Positive Trait Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi

⭐⭐⭐ out of 5

This is a useful book for writers but, IMO, it's all back-to-front... I had to go 95% of the way through it to find a list of personality traits because the first quarter goes on and on about character traits, the second quarter gave loads of details about each trait, the third quarter was a list grouped into various ways you would use each trait and the final quarter is the table of contents.

If it had been written from back to front then it would have got the full 5 stars, but it's all topsey-turvey and confusing.

If you are looking for a book that will give you a list of positive personality traits, get this book but read it backwards to how it's presented.  If you are hoping to read it front to back, you'll get frustrated and confused.  


Sunday, 21 October 2018

Started adding details to the new software...

I'm only up to E in the first book so I've got a looooong way to go but I'm hoping to have finished the first book's details by bedtime tomorrow, then start on the details from the second book for the software on Tuesday!

This software will be for members only and you won't need the current software to make it run... they are two totally separate bits of software!

Apply now so that you can get your hands on it as soon as I release it!!

Another, small, update for the writing software

Just added a few more first names to the writing software.  Nobody has bought it yet and there is going to be another software programme dooberry soon that I'll put in the shop... go and get the current software while it's still such a good price!  😀

Saturday, 20 October 2018

Opinions please!

This is the current start to my query email for Keep Out! and I'm after some opinions on how it sounds please?!

I am submitting my novel, Keep Out!, for your consideration.  The story is a realistic Middle Grade novel about a mixed race family who are all racially bullied.  Jools, Emma and Jason become inseparable friends.  They go shopping for their CornerRidge Secondary School uniforms together and while Zion (Jools’ older sister) passes her uniform onto Emma to save money, Logan (Jools’ younger brother) throws a strop about not getting anything out of the shopping trip, even though he hasn’t grown out of his current uniform and he’ll be able to go on a shopping trip of his own when he starts at CornerRidge in two years’ time too. 

Keep Out! is a 50,000 word novel for readers aged 9-12 and would appeal to those who have enjoyed Billionaire Boy by David Walliams plus the angst of having a sibling as described in Jacqueline Wilson’s Double Act.

Thoughts please?

Book review: Double Act by Jacqueline Wilson

⭐⭐⭐ out of 5

This is a good book for tweens, but after the author's popularity around her books, I was left a little disappointed.

I also got very confused about which twin was talking and writing because the only tell-tale switch between them is the use of the authors italics.  If a different font or different colour or even just the name of the twin followed by a colon immediately before the account entry then it would have been better, but I very quickly got confused about which twin was writing which bit.

It's a good book if you've got a good memory and can put some work into closely following which character is writing in italics but I just found it too hard to keep up with which twin was saying what.

I wish I could give this book more than 3 stars, considering how popular the author is, but I'm left feeling disappointed at the end of it.


Friday, 19 October 2018

Learnt something new this evening!

Apparently what I was missing last night was something called "x meets y" and only needs to be a single sentence rather than the paragraph I was thinking!

Maybe "this manuscript is a British 11 by 12 meets Billionaire Boy" instead of going into why they are similiar!  I'm gonna read the 2 Kindle books I bought yesterday then try and come up with the correct x meets y thingy by the time I go to bed tomorrow.

I can so do this now and it's all thanks to SCBWI-BI!!

Book review: Billionaire Boy by David Walliams

 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ out of 5

A fantastic friend recommended this book because I'd asked for books for tweens that heavily featured bullying.

I was initially suspicious because David Walliams is so well-known - surely he's not that good, right?  He must have paid for all the positive publicity or something?

I was wrong. 

So wrong. 

So very wrong.

This is a truly fantastic book for tweens and the author has got everything sooooo right... the language, the humour, the gross bits... Mr Walliams is waaaay up there alongside Enid Blyton for me now!  He returned me to the feeling of being engrossed by a book and wanting it to never end!

Book review: 11 before 12 by Lisa Greenwald

⭐⭐⭐ out of 5

Just finished reading this book and it's not as good as the other reviewers make it out to be unfortunately.  It's slow to start and doesn't really pick up the pace or excitement.  There's very little reason for British tweens to keep turning the pages and there are too many reasons for putting the book down and never picking it up again.

I'm proud of the author for putting her work out across the Atlantic and maybe American tweens would find it more interesting, but I can't give it above 3 stars unfortunately.


Saturday, 13 October 2018

Book review: Deputy Paws and the Puppy Mill Cause

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ out of 5

I'm very rarely speechless about books but this one has to be read to be believed!

It raises the issue of puppy mill dogs and their health in an incredibly sensitive way for youngsters.  It shows that dogs who are bred and survive in puppy mills are incredibly unhappy pups and that they are either euthanised or handed in to shelters with seemingly no thought.

Our pup is a rescue pup so it's a very important cause to me.  The author has raised a very important reason to avoid pet shops and go to rescue/rehoming centres instead.  The author is reaching out to the next generation who will hopefully put up a fight against puppy mills in the future.

A must-read for everyone!

WTG Peggy!

Thursday, 11 October 2018

Just been rejected by an agent

At this time last year I'd have been ready to throw in the towel at the rejection, taken it as a personal attack on me or whatever.

Not any more though.

I realise that my manuscript just wasn't right for them right now and I'm gonna get straight on with subbing to the next agent.

The rejection still hurts, but I'm not gonna give up, I'm gonna put todays date into me spreadsheet along with their comments and click on the URL for the next agent on the list!

Ho hum.  😞

Get creative!

Wednesday, 10 October 2018

Competition for UK children's writers

I've just found out about a competition for writers of children's fiction here and wanted to let you all know about it as soon as I could.

It's judged by children and the prizes sound awesome.  There's a £25 entry fee per novel you submit but there are no limit to the amount you can enter so if you enter one novel it would cost £25 but if you enter 5 then the price would be £125.

Apparently there have been authors taken on from this competition even though they've been rejected by the same agent that takes them on, so it's worth entering!

Good luck and don't forget where you heard about it if you're awarded a multi million pound contract with one of the agencies judging it!

Book review: Children's writers and artists yearbook 2019

⭐⭐⭐ out of 5

This is a must-have for every children's writer or illustrator, but most of this years book seems to cover other countries and stuff.  For such a huge volume there are only maybe 50 pages of agents and publishers in the UK which is OK if you are looking for contacts around the rest of the world and by the time it was published most of the information was out of date.

In previous years I'd got a lot more UK agents and publishers on my spreadsheet, but only about 10 entries *combined* out of this one.  It's good that they cover the world's agents and publishers, but it seems to be at the expense of the UK unfortunately.

I've never got this every year (last year I bought this was the 2016 yearbook in 2015) and have always valued it covering every agent and publisher of children's books in the UK but seemingly not any more.

If you've never bought the yearbook before, or you want to find worldwide agents and publishers then this yearbook will hopefully help you, but if you've bought it in the last few years, save your money on this one because more things have been taken out of the UK part than put in!

And another update to the software this morning!

I added another 20-odd names to the software and uploaded it this morning... for the first time since it's creation, I did it all meself this morning without any help from the in-house geek who programmed it for me!

Just about to review the Yearbook too - unfortunately it only gets 3 stars from me this year  😞

Tuesday, 9 October 2018

Another update to the writing software

Just uploaded 50-odd additions to one of the parts of the writing app.   Now would be a good time to become a member and buy the software because while the free version will always be free, there is unlimited access to the paid for non-members version, but only members get free updates as they are uploaded for their entire membership!


Learn from my mistake

I published a book with Author House back in 2013.

I spent literally tens of thousands of pounds when I was originally told that it'd be less than $750.

I've made a grand total of £17.62 since then and I've had nothing but problems from them, trying to force me to pay thousands more for things that just won't happen.

Now they want me to pay tax on my earnings this year.  I've opted out now so I'll have to pay 30% tax.  Fine by me 'cos 30% of nothing is nothing!  It'll cost them more to work it out and send me the letter/email than it will in the money I'll have to pay back. 

I know that right now you want to be published.  That's totally understandable.  That's why I went with Author House in the first place and it'd be less than £500 to get the book published and I'd be getting thousands a month, right?


I spent getting on for £25,000 and I've had a total return of £17.62 in the last 5 years.

Learn from my mistake and run for the hills instead of going to Author House!

Monday, 8 October 2018

Book review: What Is Me? by Brett Coon

⭐⭐ out of 5

The author seems very confused about who his audience is and how long the book should be.

He's said that it's a picture book and it's got pictures in, but it's only got 11 pages instead of 28, covers issues of gender and sexuality that would confuse a 4 year old that would be better placed in a Young Adult novel for teens instead of a small child.  In the age bit on Amazon apparently for "8-18 year olds" so why is a picture book (which is the age range of birth to five years old) aimed at such a huge 10 year gap in the market?

Even Middle Grade readers (9-12 year olds) would struggle with the ideas presented in this book, so you're looking at teens (Young Adult) who wouldn't pick up your book because it's too short and immature for them.

It's also been put in the "crime, thriller and mystery > thrillers" section yet there is absolutely nothing in it that fits anywhere in that category at all!

Sorry Brett, this needs a lot of work and thought about who it's aimed at then re-written and expanded for that audience.  I'm in a good mood this morning so I'm giving you 2 stars because of the rhyming for a book that would usually struggle to get a single star.


Friday, 28 September 2018

Just added something for my 2 members!

Just uploaded an updated page to the member's bit so log in and have a look!

I'm not going to say what it is here on the blog or on the site, it's one of the benefits of being a member of the site to get to know about these secret things as soon as I do!

Might be worth becoming a member now while the prices are low!

Monday, 24 September 2018

If you're interested in the writing software...

Me again!

Just added 40 surnames to the members version of the software.  I'm working on a huge update to it with surnames as well as other things within the software like theme's and random words and chapter ideas and things like that.

It will be a huge update so the price will go up, but only members will have access to it... the 45 day and full version will stay the same as it already is, that won't change, only members get the updates I add to it on top of other things I find online like competitions and open submission windows and things like that.

The two members that have already joined will get every update I make at no extra cost - why not be my next member and download it before the price increases?

Just trying to save you money is all  😄

Software updated

Got about half of the update done alone, but I needed Steve to talk me through using the repos thingy to move the file into the software then rebuild it in Visual Studio.

It'll take a few tries 'cos it's all totally new (as in less than 24 hours including the time I was asleep) to me, but I'll get there in the end!

Struggling to name your characters?

Just seen this on Facebook - mainly female names but a few (like Kim or Chris) are gender neutral names.  I'm gonna add them to the member's version of the software now, hopefully without asking Steve for help!

Saturday, 22 September 2018

Just seen this on SCBWI-BI

I'm a member of SCBWI-BI and this was posted there this afternoon.

According to this image, my WIP is an UFO that is pretty much NESTY let alone a PHD and WITHWIT!  😜

Tuesday, 18 September 2018

We've now got two members!

Thank you so much to both of you for your interest and support... you just need to accept the invitation I sent you both so that you don't need to constantly refresh the members area constantly... it's where I'll post information that is only open to you members. 

I promise I'm not a spammer and will never sell your information to anyone... the only exception to that is if I'm required to by law. 

Nobody else gets your information from me. 

Hand on heart promise.

Thank you both so much for your support in this!  I really appreciate your confidence in me and wanting to grow with the site too!

😃 👍

Wednesday, 12 September 2018

Scheduling a chat with me

I've just put up a scheduling dooberry that you can schedule a chat with me on a calendar in the help bit of the site.  It's available to both visitors and my member... don't schedule a member chat if you're not a member 'cos I'll check the database of members each time I get a member chat request and cancel your chat if you're not a member!

You get 30 minutes with me as a visitor or 45 minutes with me as a member.  Could you put in a brief description of what you want to discuss in your slot so that we can get straight down to it instead of you having to spend the first five minutes explaining what you want to discuss pretty please?

Thank you so much.

Saturday, 8 September 2018

Guest post by Danielle James

Before I start, I want to thank Amanda for so kindly allowing me to write a guest blog for her wonderful site.

I have always been an avid reader - now, at aged (AHEM … *CLEARS THROAT*)  I am literally never without a book in my hand.  I read everything I can get my hands on (including the backs of cereal boxes - trust me, you can learn a lot from them) and treasure all my books (my favourite is over 120 years old and is in bad condition - it was like that when I was given it).

I often work with children and they roll their eyes when I tell them off for desecrating their books - turning the corners over damages them.  Who knows, maybe your favourite book will become a collector’s item one day.  

Who are your favourite authors?  Do you like any of the classics and - more to the point, what makes a classic?   I love Enid Blyton even at my age - in fact, it was one of her books (The Little House At The Corner) which revealed my path to me.  The minute I read that book, I knew I was going to be an author (which is a dream I have fulfilled).

I remember one of the first books I ever fell in love with - sadly I can’t remember the title but the subject and cover remain firmly lodged in my head.  It was about an astronaut and the training he went through (fiction but based on fact) and, bizarrely had a black and pink cover.  Why do I recall that book with so much affection?  Because I went through a phase of copying the stories out by hand - this was the first one I did it with.

Now, before you adults shout ‘PLAGIARISM’ at me, let me explain.  I never intended to publish and pretend it was my own.  The aim was to learn my craft and - even from a young age - I knew that there is a connection between the brain and hand.  

I learned about sentence structure and length - if you write a poem, it is fine to have, say five words to every sentence but it becomes monotonous if you try to do it in everyday writing.

I also discovered the importance of choosing JUST the right words.  Without that, the scene can be black and white - not even any contrast.

Imagine someone who is tired.  They may be described as yawning or rubbing their eyes … that tells you nothing about HOW tired they are.  However, what if they COLLAPSED into a chair with a heavy sigh of relief and wiped the sweat off their face?  Now you get a completely different picture of how they feel - it is more realistic.

I think that’s one reason I love Enid Blyton so much - she brings a scene to life.  The characters sing and dance off the page - she also has the gift for making you laugh with her descriptions.  Check out the Five Findouters (which are available in huge books, each containing a trilogy) and I challenge you not to laugh when Freddy is disguised as the author herself. 

Sure, she is classed as ‘old fashioned’ and no book is above criticism (even my own).  Her writing style is third person omniscient (also known as head hopping).  Now that is out of favour at the moment but I don’t see why.  She goes so far as to tell us what Kiki the Parrot is thinking in one story … OK, so maybe that IS going a little too far but she’s still immensely popular today and a little known series of her books have been found recently - as a result, she appears to be having something of a resurgence.  

So, am I saying that she’s the only writer worth reading?  NO!

As a writer, I’m forced to keep up with current trends (oh, what a tiresome job it is, too - NOT!) so I have to read books by modern authors too.

Today’s books are very different to those I grew up with.  Back in the 1970’s we had titles such as Mrs Pepperpot, Milly Molly Mandy, The Five Children and It and the Swish of the Curtain.  Fast forward to modern times and the trends have changed dramatically - very few books have survived the test of time.  Now David Williams and Tom Gates have the top spot, along with Michael Morpego and JK Rowling.

I think what I like about these books is that the stories may well be silly and laugh out loud (certainly in the case of David Walliams) but they usually raise some very important issues (such as prejudging people in the case of Mr Stink; and what life would really be like if you had billions of pounds - not as much fun as you might expect as Joe from the Billionaire Boy discovers).  I am delighted to see a few classics have stood the test of time such as Stig of the Dump, I am David, Anne of Green Gables and the wonderful Heidi.  Sadly most books do not remain popular for long enough to become a classic.  

Today’s reader is required to think more than their ancestors (now I am showing my age, using that word).  When I was young, most of the stories were just that - fictional, exciting tales.  We would read them and play games based on their adventures.  However, these days, books seem to be focussed on messages.  I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with this - just that I miss the days of reading for pure pleasure. 

I guess that’s why I write the way I do … but even I have been forced to conform if I want my work traditionally published.  My stories, I now realise DO contain messages of hope but I hope I don’t ram it down the throats of the readers.  I hope they are fun and make people laugh - only you, the reader, can judge.  In this paragraph I have committed the cardinal sin of repeating the word hope close together several times - but that is done for effect).

One book that did surprise me was Chris Colfer’s The Land of Forgotten Stories.  I love the premise of this (which has become a running theme recently).  In this series (I believe we are up to book 6 now …) which make me laugh and cry off the page (quite the achievement, believe me!) the author asks what happened AFTER the fairy story ended.  Did Snow White and her stepmother bury the hatchet?  What happened to Red Riding Hood?  And WHO is the Frog Prince?  These and other stories are explored in depth, with the twist being that the famous Fairy Godmother actually has two grandchildren from our world - both of whom fall into a huge book and find themselves in their land (somehow I love the frog prince best).  I expected it to be silly but it’s so easy to engage with the characters and you, the reader, delight in the joy of rediscovering old friends - the only one I don’t think he’s brought into it is Beauty and the Beast (sad, as that’s my all time favourite fairy tale).  

Just like Enid Blyton, Chris Colfer writes in third person omniscient and pulls it off.  Personally, I don’t like first person (which is the current trend) - it’s rare that I find a book it works in.  For me, the problem is I cannot suspend disbelief.  I’m really not riding into the sunset towards Cinderella’s castle with wolves baying at my back … OK, I’m mixing my stories but you get the idea.

Many children have asked why I love reading and writing - well my answer will always be the same, regardless of the activity.

ESCAPISM.  Remember, you can never be lonely when you are a reader because the characters will keep you company.

Even Disney have started adding messages to their books and films - that’s a subject for another blog if I’m ever invited back! **HINT!  HINT**

I’m on a personal drive to make reading fun for children.  Let me know in the comments which your favourite books are and why.  You never know, I may be inspired to read one of them and perhaps they may even become a favourite.

Friday, 7 September 2018

That's the trilogy sorted ready for Friday!

Three days of constant editing and the trilogy is done and dusted now!

Means I can have three days off and an early night on Sunday so that I can make sure I'm up in time to have me hair cut on Monday!

Thursday, 6 September 2018

7 hours

Edited the second novel in the trilogy today, so just got one more to do tomorrow then I'm gonna work my way through all the others slowly but surely.

Wish me luck!  👍

Wednesday, 5 September 2018

Oh. My. Goddess!

My very first member has just paid and been added to the members area!

What an awesome feeling!

Welcome along, W. B!

The thing with becoming a member is...

Someone paid to become a member of the site this afternoon... totally awesome feeling to have the first member, except that they haven't filled in the application form so other than their email address used on PayPal, I know precisely nothing about them so can't add them as a member!!

I've emailed them at the address on the payment confirmation letting them know that they need to apply too, so that their details are added to the database and I can let them into the members area, but without the form I've got no way of doing it manually when all I know is their PayPal address!

If you are the person who paid for the membership, please fill in the application form using your PayPal address so that I know you don't need to pay again, then I'll get you added!

Thank you so so much for wanting to be my first member!

Spent the day editing the first in the trilogy, so...

I'm gonna submit to an agent next Friday after a personal recommendation so I want to be sure the Toni trilogy is sparkling by then!

One down, two to go lol

Tuesday, 4 September 2018

That's the chat installed too, so...

After an incredibly productive day today, I'm gonna give myself the evening off... go and take a look at the new pages and schedule your free 15 minutes with me!

What a productive day!

Just updated the About Amanda page with my LinkedIn profile and the Facebook group, created the Help page and put my calendar up too... remember to hit Ctrl+F5 if you're using Chrome or FireFox as your browser each time you visit the site so that you get the most up-to-date version of each page!

Both shops are online now!!

Who's going to be the first person to buy something?

I haven't got any members yet but the visitors shop is live and waiting for you to buy something!

If you become a member you get discounts on things in the shop as well as member exclusives so it's well worth signing up!

One shop done and dusted, one to go!

The visitors shop is now, officially...


Gonna work on the member's one now... it's amazing what a night's sleep can do for shop design! lol

Working on the shops today

Found somewhere to create the visitor and member shops last night so I'm gonna work on those today... wish me luck that I can get them sorted easily!

Monday, 3 September 2018

That's the headings sorted, so now I just need...

Just added some headings to the front page and rearranged parts of it, but I still need those meta tags!

If you're not comfortable leaving your suggestions publicly, that's totally OK and totally respect that, just email your suggestions to me here instead and I'll use your suggestions but keep your identity totally to myself!

Book review: To Laugh Well: A Novel by JC Alaimo

 ⭐⭐⭐ out of 5

It's a good book, but aimed at the older end of young adult rather than the younger end.

There's a lot of swearing, drunkenness, drug taking and sex so it's really not suitable until the reader has left school due to it's maturity.

It starts off with an immature main character leaving for college/university and follows his drunken first term with his three roommates.

There is swearing and drug-taking throughout it on top of the pretty much constant drinking of alcohol.

The author takes you on a journey with the main character but doesn't seem to understand that his younger readers might use the constant drinking, drug-taking, swearing and sex might influence his younger readers to try it because it happens so much in the book.

In short, it's a good but irresponsible read for the older teen readers and anyone below 16 should avoid it.

Gonna work on the site this evening/tomorrow

Thank you to the 3 people who regularly read this blog... I really appreciate your support.

I'm gonna be reading and reviewing a YA book until either this evening or tomorrow morning, then I'm gonna work on getting the site further up in the search engines but I need your help.

Imagine you are looking for something to do with stories for children. What would you search for (the exact words you'd use in the search engine including quotation marks if you'd use them) and what headings would you expect to find on the pages please?

To get good position in a search engine apparently you need headings (which I haven't got any of atm) and meta tags that people search for (that I've got a few of).

You don't have to give me your name unless you want to, just the first initial or even a totally made up name is totally cool and groovy... it's your feedback I'm after!

Any help on this would be fantastic! Thank you so much!

Saturday, 1 September 2018

Day 30 of 30 - launch day at last!!

The virus scan is 66% done so I'm thinking it's not going to be finished until I'm in bed, fast asleep, kicking out the zzz's so I'll wait until first thing tomorrow then bang it all out before taking the pup for her walk.

Thank you so much for your support over the last couple of days and putting up with over 30 posts in 2.25 days too - I really appreciate it!

I'd love to get your feedback on my thoughts that I've put in the last 30 posts - either as comments on the appropriate post or email me using one of the links I've put in the last 30 posts.  I'm only human and I don't bite (unless you're tempting me with chocolate) so feel free to be honest with me but don't get too personal or I'll be glum for aaaages! 😔

Just to finish off the 30 days book, an Amish proverb:  "If at first you succeed - try not to look too astonished."

Thank you for sticking with me over the last couple of days and feel free to hold me to the things I've promised to do just in case I forget!  It's better not to send me a hugely long email with the things I've forgotten, buried deep within the paragraphs, just a quick "you promised to do these things on your blog and I was just wondering how you were getting on with them?" then list in pointed lists what I said I was going to do but haven't yet.  If there's loads of them, send multiple emails with 5 things for me to do in each email so that I don't get too lost or downhearted about it all.

Thank you for reading all these posts, now go out and spread the word about the site, blog and my plans/promises!  lol

Day 29 of 30 - Nearly time to launch! Yaaaay!

OK, update on Day 27's idea of free membership for the first 10 applicants who refer on... the first 10 will still be free, the next 10 will be half price then it will go back to full price... but only until the end of September!  Whaddya reckon to the updated idea?  Honest thoughts please!

Aksherley, scratch that idea.  The first 10 people to apply to be members before the end of September *and* refer me to 10 others (with the names and email addresses/urls of the 10 they've recommended me to) get a free, full version of the writing ideas software.  Because they are now members they will get free updates to the software through the members area too.

I will Beta Read/crit/review members manuscripts/books before anyone else too, which, to me, is worth joining for on it's own!

Members will also be the first to find out about open submission windows as soon as I find out too... when you become a member, you become part of my team who will find out information as soon as I find out!

Day 28 of 30 - Selling even before it's ready

I'm gonna put an email sign-up box on the site when I've got my internet connection back - free for everyone to join but not nearly as good as becoming a member but it's free and I'm not a spammer so what can go wrong?! 

Day 27 of 30 - social media

I'm thinking of offering free membership to the first 10 people to apply and refer 10 others who then apply... what do you think?  Would you apply if I posted that to Facebook or Twitter or would you be more likely to pay for membership if a friend encouraged you to pay to become a member?  I'm honestly interested in your answers... it would just be a single Facebook message or Tweet from me so I wouldn't constantly be advertising it every hour of every day and it would only be the first 10 people to apply that would be free - is that enough though?

Day 26 of 30 - Word of mouth referrals

If you like what you see and you want to help but don't know how and you can't afford to pay for anything, just spread the word to your friends and family... ideally in the stories for children field, but if not I still want your referrals to friends, family and organisations that have anything at all to do with children - parents of children, school-gate people who are desperate for something to keep their child occupied that doesn't eat into the child's screen time, schools and playgroups and nurseries would all find the information useful!

Look at your personal situation... where are children involved?  Maybe you could refer the site and this blog to those people too?

Day 25 of 30 - Going viral

First step to going viral is to "Make it good".  That's what I always try to do, but what do you, my valued visitors, honestly think?  I honestly want to know so that I can improve it!  What's good?  Not so good?  Downright awful?  What could I do to encourage you to not only come back every day but to recommend this blog and the site to your friends?  What would encourage you to become a member?  Please let me know... it's all been what *I've* wanted to put on the site up to now, but since realising yesterday how selfish that was, I genuinely want to know what *you* want me to put on the blog and site!!

Second step is to "Make it relevant/useful" which is, again, what I'm trying to do, but I want feedback from you... what are you struggling to find online that I could offer you?

Step 3 is to "Make it clear".  Is this blog and the site simple and clear enough?  If not, why not and how can I improve it?  I'm just little ole me and I want to make it all as user-friendly as possible for you!

Step 4:  "Make it specific".  What were you expecting to find the first time you clicked onto the site and into the blog?  Has the content met that expectation?  Exceeded it?  What can I do to improve it for you?

Fifth step is to "Make it fresh".  What is missing from the site?  What information would improve it?  I'm genuinely after your opinions!

Sixth step is to "Make a statement".  Going just by what you've already seen and read, what do you honestly think the statement I'm trying to get across is?

Step 7:  "Make it timely".  What do you consider to be the hottest topics in children's and young adults stories right now?  Do you fancy writing a guest post about it for me to put on the site?  Please??  I want to get my visitors involved in the site so if something I've said has inspired you to become involved, get it written and send to me along with how you want me to credit you and I'll put it up on the site!

Step 8:  "Make it personal" - what do you want to know about me?  Where do you want me to put the information?  I know I'm asking a lot of questions but I honestly want to know your thoughts and opinions about how I can improve the site and blog!

Step 9:  "Make it quick to infect" - this is ideal for you illustrators out there... come up with something that encourages visitors to not only come to the site and blog, but encourages their interest in your talents too!

You retain full copyright of your image, just like the authors retain copyright of their flash fiction - you created it, I'm just borrowing it to help you to get what you want to achieve.

Tenth step is to "Make it easy and fun to share" - AFAIK I already have on both the blog and site, but if you've got other ideas just let me know!

If you are an illustrator and you want to help to spread the word, maybe come up with some small images I can use?  You will, of course, retain full copyright of your image, you're just helping me to share the site and hopefully increasing interest in your illustrations too!

Day 24 of 30 - money, money, money!

I've already done 2 of the first 4 things this book is suggesting to make money - offering a downloadable product (the writing ideas software) and selling services to consumers (the membership to the site) lol.  I'd like to sell it to businesses (editors, publishers and agents) too, but I'm still in the starting blocks.  When I've finished the book I'm gonna start emailing and Tweeting and posting in guestbooks though!

Members of the site get unlimited access to me, but visitors only get what they pay for in the shop, so how would you, my visiting non-member, feel if I put a PayPal button on the site so that you could buy an hour of my time and in that hour I would do whatever you wanted (proof-reading, critting, reviewing etc) for the entire 60 minutes. 

I would close all the other programmes like my email and blogs and websites and devote that hour to you alone.  If you like what I do in that hour, you can pay for the full product in the shop. 

My members needs will always come first so it's worth becoming a member if you want me to provide multiple services because you will come above the visitors and you have unlimited (as long as you let me sleep lol) access to me for as long as you're a member!

Day 23 of 30 - selling my ideas to the world

OK, so take the flash fiction story you did and sell it to me in a title of less than five words and a description of less than thirty-five words.  Even if you don't want me to put your story on the site, I still need to know what your story is about and those 35 words of a 500 word story is good practise for writing a longer synopsis of a longer manuscript!

What are you waiting for?  Get that flash fiction piece written then open up a new email, put the 5 word title in the subject line then the 35 word description in the body of your email.  Attach your piece as a Word document and send it off to me.  Your subject line needs to interest me enough to open the email and the description needs to interest me enough to open the attachment to code and put on the site if you want me to!

Ready for your next task?  Take your flash fiction title and description and condense it even further so that it will fit into a Tweet of less than 280 characters so that I can copy and paste it into a Tweet to all my followers.  If you don't want me to do that, just let me know and I won't.  I totally respect your decisions about your own work, but you need to be 100% sure you want me to publicise it 'cos I won't be able to take it down after it's been posted/coded/Tweeted, but that piece of yours could get you what you want and might inspire you to make it into a longer piece too!

Day 22 of 30 - Hustling

Another reason I haven't got any members yet - I haven't been under everyone's skin about what a great member's area there is and how much they will benefit from joining up and what I can do to help them... I've just created the content, waited and hoped!

 Not any more though!

As soon as the virus scan has finished and I've backed up my hard drive I'm gonna go out and *find* people who would benefit from being a member of the site - they don't even know that this blog and the stories site exist so how are they going to find me if I don't go looking for them?? As soon as I can I'm going to go looking for visitors, hopefully today but tomorrow morning at the very latest.

Oooh!  I'm gonna add a live chat window on the site too so that I can answer questions as they come up too!  Apparently there's a site you can go to that gives you code to put on your site and they do all the behind the scenes work for you!  It's a great way to set up an FAQ as well!

There's a list of things to do "today" that I'm gonna work through as soon as the virus scan has finished and I've backed everything up... I'm starting to feel really motivated and like I can really make a go of it now!

First on the list is to clear my diary for the next 8 days so that I can work on everything.  That's already done.

Second is to send loads of emails to encourage people to visit the site... need to find the email addresses first though!  lol

Next is to install the chat window - might have to get Steve (my in-house-geek) to help with that.

Then I need to reach out to an leader in the field - SCBWI is gonna be my expert with all things writing and Steve will be my expert for anything technical

Then reach out to people who can help to promote the site and blog - scary stuff!

Next up is interviewing someone who inspires me.. I'm thinking of separating it into authors, illustrators, editors, publishers and agents so that my visitors can read the interviews that interest them the most.  What questions do *you* want me to ask editors, publishers and agents... I'm already set for the questions for authors and illustrators but haven't had the guts to come up with any for business people - until now!

August's flash fiction

I've literally just come up with the idea to do a flash fiction thingy every now and then.

You've got the next two weeks to come up with a children's story of no more than 500 words that has a definite start, middle and end and editing is NOT allowed - just write it and send it to me exactly as it comes to you.

They won't be judged or critted or anything like that, they are just an opportunity for you to come up with something without any kind of worrying about what you normally worry about.

It's just your very first micro-blocking session.

No editing is allowed.

I want to see all those mistakes.

Just get it out of your head and onto screen then send it to me and I'll display it on the site.

Let me know how you want to be credited - if you want to remain anonymous then let me know and I'll just use your first initial but if you want proper credit for it, that's totally OK too - just let me know how you want to be credited and your email address or URL or whatever.

Be proud of it.

It prolly won't be the best you've ever written, but you'll have something on display that you can go back to at the end of the month and edit into a better story.

Just get it out of your head and onto the screen.  What happens to it isn't important right now - just get it written and sent to me!

Copyright remains with the author of course - the idea is just to get something out of your head that you can edit as necessary when the time is right!

You can do this!

Can't wait to read it!

Friday, 31 August 2018

Day 21 of 30 - Week 3 check-in

This'll be the last one of the day 'cos me pills are kicking in and it seems like as good a time as any to read just one more day then finish off the last 9 days tomorrow.

Day 20 of 30 - Do I need to pivot or keep trying?

Another wasted day... it started off so well and they've wasted 2 days out of 3 unfortunately  😟

Day 19 of 30 - getting traction

OK - your feedback about this blog and the Stories 4 Children site is needed.

Forget about what is already up there and what my future plans might be... this is all about you - what do *you* want to see most of all?  What's missing?  What's overdone that I'm just repeating needlessly and boringly?

I genuinely want to know what you think and how I can improve your visit and turn you into a repeat visitor and then into a member of the site.

I can't do this without you - I've been too selfish and got it totally wrong, from now on this is all for you but I don't know what you want!

I've got a Twitter account with the timeline thingy available but I don't have a Facebook page for the site yet... do you want me to work out how to create one?  If I do, should I put it on the visitors pages or the members area pages?

What about my LinkedIn page that I've barely looked at... want me to put that on the site too?  Which part of the site?

Please let me know what you want to read and experience... this blog and site is about you, my visitors and members!

Do any of you use ScheduleOnce?  If you do, would it be worth me signing up for an account with them and marking out half hour intervals for you to talk me through your ideas once a month or anything like that?

Day 18 of 30 - Feedback

Basically a few wasted pages here unfortunately... a day spent saying pretty much nothing  😞

The only disappointing day so far though so the book is definitely still worth a read, just don't expect to learn much on Day 18.  Sorry.

Day 17 of 30 - website creation

BTDT already lol

Still, it'll be interesting to read what they have to say about it!

Yup, it encourages you to quickly build your own site in the days 20 minute micro-block thingy so I've already completed Day 17 years before I found the book at the library!

Day 16 of 30 - Perfectionism

That's such a great thing to remember!  If you've got the book in front of you, I can't wait for you to read the first part of Day 16 'cos it says "When Top Dog growls, just sing out, 'Don't worry, be crappy!'" and that's an awesome way to remind your writers block or mid-manuscript slump that it's OK to be unsure in the first draft - just write *something* and you can change it when you get to the editing stage!

I've got a challenge for you.  Write something, anything, and send it to me, totally unedited.  I won't publish it on this blog or the site unless you are sure that you want me to, the challenge is to get something done and out there, totally unpolished then start on your next one, send that to me too... editing is NOT allowed for these, they are purely your practise pieces.  If you want me to publish them, lemme know if you want it on here, on the general visitor bit of the site or for only members to read and how you want me to credit you with it... it can be as simple as the first initial of your name or full copyright credit with a link to your email address or website - just let me know and I'll totally respect that decision.  The important thing is to get the imperfect version out there on the web where others can read it.

Day 15 of 30 - how do you deal with the inevitable slump in wanting to write or illustrate?

Not writers block, just the occassional off day where you just can't be bothered to open up Word let alone yWriter... that's what today will hopefully be about!

I was wrong, it's the mid-WIP bit where the excitement of starting your novel has worn off and the end is too far into the distance to really see right now (even if it's all planned out).

This is usually where I put a major bust up... not just a little argument, but a huge "you're not worth it you little cowbag!" type argument involving the main character and their biggest enemy/bully in the whole manuscript.  This is where the tension explodes into all kinds of fire and explosions so that you can keep writing until the last chapter, but also to keep your readers turning the pages too!

Day 14 of 30 - week 2 check-in

Not bad going for 2 days of reading, blog posting and a single Tweet yesterday afternoon/evening.

The virus scan will be finished tomorrow so I can post these then and reboot.  This book is really useful so far and I definitely recommend having a read of it if these blog posts have whetted your appetite!

Day 13 of 30 - don't try to please everybody, every time

What's my superniche?  Books for children and young adults... not just books or books for children but for teenagers too.  It's something I've got experience of, in an area I enjoy (books and children) and it's something that I'm personally involved in right now too, so understand the difficulties many people in the superniche may be feeling!

Day 12 of 30 - Quantity produces quality?

I'd say that practice produces quality, not necessarily quantity.  Something I only learnt at the start of this year (2018) was that even my best pieces of writing needed oneheckuva lot of editing instead of just sending off the first draft.  That's why I was so quickly rejected... I had wrongly thought that my first, totally unedited or even looked at since writing it, draft was perfect.

Those first rejections really hurt, but I can totally see why they were rejected now and totally agree with the rejections I went through now.  Editing should be your friend instead of your enemy!  Finish that first draft, write the synopsis then forget about it totally for at least 3 months before you edit it for the first time.  You're not allowed to even glimpse at it for those 3 months, you've got to totally forget everything you wrote, then that first day of editing will throw up all kinds of hidden errors that you had unintentionally overlooked while you were writing it.  It might be a misplaced full stop (period for my American readers) or comma but it could be a huge gap in the middle that you know happened in your head but it never made it onto the screen.  Things like that get you (and me) rejected but is easily fixed with a bit of editing.

According to the book I borrowed from the library, Ray Bradbury advised authors to "write a short story every week.  It's not possible to write 52 bad short stories in a row" and I kinda agree.  Steve (the hubby and in-house-geek) chuckled and said "I'd give it a go!" and while he said it as a joke, he's just summed it up perfectly... write something every week and with practise you'll come out at the end of the year with 52 stories that can be whipped into shape either almost straight away (if you're a PB writer) or edited to wonderfulness and hopefully being accepted by the publisher or agent of your dreams!

Apparently Richard Branson (of the Virgin Group of businesses) was (and possibly still is) a real blagger.  I'm starting to become like that... what about you?

Day 11 of 30 - playing to your inner genius

This is gonna be a tough day to complete 'cos I've gotta write down five of my natural strengths... bear with me and please don't think I'm being big-headed, it's a genuine task to do on Day 11 in the book!!

OK, lets see:

1)  I care about most things and people.  It takes a lot to get me to dislike someone or something but it does happen occasionally.  Take it as read that I will always see the good in everyone and everything until or unless they do something to make me realise I was wrong.

2)  I'm stubborn like you wouldn't believe.  I never give up on anything until the last tiny atom of belief has been squelched out of me.  I believe in you and your talents and will always do my best for you, no matter what.  Same with the things I do, no matter what, I put my all into everything and the simpleist thing like one person reading a new blog post or a retweet or comment or something that takes seconds to do, mean the world to me and makes me fight even harder.

3)  I'm passionate and will defend the people and things that I care about for as long as I possibly can. 

4)  I will support you to the best of my ability as long as you are willing to accept my no-nonsense, straight talking personality.  I'm not saying that we'll always agree, but I won't say what I don't genuinely believe at the time I say it.

5)  I'm incredibly nosey.  If you give me a hint at something, then I want to know everything.  At the same time though, everything you say will remain confidential until you and only you tell me I can blab about it.

Oh boy... another five things that I've got to write five things about each of... this is gonna be a loooooong post!

OK, so the first of the five new items I've got to list is five things I find easy.  OK, that seems easy enough.

1)  I find it easy to love people and want the best for that person right from the start.

2)  I find it easy to type... I'm a touch typist so I can pretty much keep up with typing up a conversation as it happens, which really helps when it comes to NaNo and JanNo 'cos I can type faster than a lot of creative people so while other people might struggle to write 2,000 on a totally free day I could easily more than double that.

3)  I find it easy to lose myself in a good book and will often find more positives than negatives in the books I read.  If I'm critting a book I try and offer suggestions on how to improve this, that or the other rather than saying that it stinks of poo.

4)  I find it easy to listen to people, it's just the remembering that I have issues with right now because of my brain damage and my advice isn't always what people want or need to hear, but I will always listen whenever anyone needs to talk.

5)  I find easy to look after our pup.  She's an old lady now, but those yawns and kisses and wagging tail and genuine love from her makes even the grossest jobs (clearing up her poo from walks or the back yard) make it all worthwhile!

Next up is 5 things that I could easily teach someone.

1)  I could teach someone the basics of using yWriter to plan out their next novel and because it's free it's so much the better too.

2)  I could teach someone how to read food labels so that they could work out what is healthiest, what is suitable for vegetarians and which is the biggest ingredient in the food.

3)  I could teach someone how to use a TENS machine to get rid of their pain.

4)  I could teach someoneone the basics of writing for children and what age group each different type of book is for.

5)  I could teach someone how to start and write a blog post just like I'm doing now.

Next up is 5 things I have a deep understanding of:

1)  Mental illness has been in my life since I was 10 years old.  First as SAD then as reactive depression then as psychotic depression.

2)  Physical disability has been in my life for the last 15 years.  I look 'normal' when I'm sitting down, but I can't easily stand up or move on my own.

3)  Chocolate - I'm a self-proclaimed chocaholic but that didn't start until my last year at secondary school!  Before that I craved the natural sweetness in fruit... honest!

4)  Children - I'm qualified to work with children aged 12 months to 7 years 11 months but my favourite age group to work with is definitely toddlers.

5)  Bullying has been a huge part of my life from the age of about 5 years old all the way through to modern-day life as an adult unfortunately.

The last one is any unusual skills or traits I've picked up.  Hmmm, let's see what I can think of.  I used to know Teeline shorthand and I'm an audio touch typist who loves children, philosophy, children's psychology, writing books for children and Take That!  How's that?  lol

Now I've got to write about my genius spots.  Children is definitely a huge genius spot for me, whether it's writing for them, caring for them or learning about them.  According to the book, I'm already giving myself an 'unfair advantage' with this blog, the site and writing manuscripts for them... I just need to be taken on now!

Day 10 of 30 - becoming successful

My GENIUS is that I'm passionate about children's books and especially equal opportunities within those books.

If you've written a children's book that you want me to review for you then I'm more than happy to do that for you, like I said on the 30th, but if you tackle some kind of inequality in your book, you'll really pique my interest to keep reading what you've written!

Same with critting your manuscript - I'll crit anything for the right price, but if you tackle some kind of equal opportunity within it then I'll be well away.

Day 9 of 30 - Value is vital

WIIFM aka What's In It For Me - that's where I've been going wrong the whole time I've had this blog and site - I've been totally selfish and concentrated on *me* not you... I had this awesome idea about how it was going to be the best site in the world and I'd be inundated with applications from the first week with more money from my visitors than I knew what to do with... same with my books - I'd be a best-selling, popular author who had success coming out of her ears without even trying.

That obviously hasn't happened though.


Because I've been too selfish.

I've thought of what *I* could achieve rather than what *you*, my blog and site visitors want.

So, over to you, what can I do to help you to get what you want/need out of this blog and site?

I want your honest feedback... please?

Day 8 of 30 - nothing is unique any more

Because we're now in the twenty-first century, there's nothing that hasn't been done before, so the way to create something new is to pinch ideas from several different places, mash 'em up together and come up with something new.

Make sure you credit the people who created the original piece of work you are re-designing though otherwise it's plagiarism and illegal which could get you into all kinds of trouble which, I don't know about you, but I can't afford even basic legal advice and you'll be taken to court by someone who has way more money and support than you and I have.

I'm not saying that you can't use things that have already been created, just get permission FIRST then credit them with the original idea... nowt wrong with that at all!

Day 7 of 30 - review time!

Act and Reflect:

I only started it yesterday morning so it's still too early to see how things are going, but I'm into the routine of mindblocking now... as long as my internet connection stays up (it's gone down again for some reason) lol

I haven't done the daily tick sheet or the rest day 'cos I've only been doing this for 30-odd hours, including me being asleep overnight lol

I can pat myself on the back for swallowing my fear and making my first post to Twitter about this blog and the site... within half an hour of that post I'd had 2 views which is awesome!

What have I enjoyed the most and least?  I've enjoyed being able to really get into the book and make a blog post about what I learnt with each day as I went through it.  I didn't enjoy swallowing the fear and making that blog post but I'm proud of myself for doing it and I've just got to keep on swallowing the fear and doing it anyway... I learnt from those first rejections and continued submitting which has forced me into growing a much thicker skin and increasing my belief in myself.

I haven't had any feedback yet, but those 2 readers after I made the Tweet really boosted my confidence!

I can so do this!

Adapt:  I need to make more Tweets about my site to build interest in what I'm putting out there and hopefully start getting paying members.  People are following me for a reason, after all!

When I get my internet connection back I'll come up with a contract with myself.  Every day I will set aside a few hours to do something creative - either work on this blog or my site or even write another chapter.  I'm going to be a lot more creative and really work on what needs to be done... even if it's only for 20 minutes then that's more than I've been doing recently!

I'm hoping to spend the morning reading emails and stuff then as soon as it hits lunchtime I'm going to be creative for at least 20 minutes every day.

It's not the internet connection or even Blogger that is the problem, it's that I'm running the virus scan again.  Maybe I need to spend all of Friday being creative and not using the internet at all when the scan puts a stop to it?

Just rebooted, so I'm gonna post this then not use the internet until the virus scan has finished.  It's a pain in the bum but ho hum!

Day 6 of 30 - Act, Reflect, Adapt

This is a good writing day too:

Act: write that manuscript and submit it
Reflect: get rejected/taken on and drown your sorrows/celebrate with drinking chocolate
Adapt: double check that query letter and manuscript are exactly what has been asked for by the next agent/publisher, edit if necessary then submit to the next one.

You can do it... it just has to be the right manuscript to the right agent/publisher at the right time is all!

I'm at the Act stage with two agents and a publisher with two MG manuscripts atm, what about you?

Day 5 of 30 - playing doesn't have to be perfect

This one sounds like a good chapter about not having to be perfect first time.  Yeah, but by the same token most things need to be edited and maybe re-written before it's publishable too!

That's what I'm offering... a way for you to have a totally independent person that you don't know being honest with you about what works and what doesn't.  I've never been taught how to be gentle and my brain damage means that I have to say something immediately so that I don't forget it.

You will be getting my immediate thoughts and feelings about your manuscript with no kind of sugar-coating at all.  I do it with your best interests at heart though.  Always.

That's the tweet written and posted... hello to those who've just seen it - thank you for joining me!

Thursday, 30 August 2018

Day 4 of 30 - last one of today!

Apparently this part is about setting up my headquarters for this, which is pretty much already done I reckon.  It'll be interesting to see what the book says what else I need in my HQ though!

Already learnt something... Evernote will hopefully become my best friend over the next few days now that I've pinned it to my taskbar!

Day 3 of 30 - going where the buyers are

There are some useful sites in this book as long as you've got something physical to sell.

I haven't.

All my stuff is creative driven but if you want a book reviewed or manuscript feedback or anything like that, just email me here and we can discuss prices.  Members get discounted things, obviously, as well as free updates to the software, but until I've got members I'm charging 1p per word of any children's manuscript right now.

I can't guarantee publication or representation or anything, but I can give you an honest opinion of your pride and joy as long as you're happy for me to rip it to pieces if it needs it!

Already published but want a review?  No problem.  Email me with the length of your book and the synopsis of it and if I agree to review it, we can discuss prices.  When you've paid, send me a .pdf of it and I'll put my review on Amazon, this blog and the site.

My in-house-geek is in the process of coming up with a shop for these kinda things so it'll hopefully be easier soon, but while we're waiting, just email me and let me know what you want me to do and how much you're willing to pay and we can then discuss it  😀