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!