Did you know that having a blog on your website can increase traffic to your site by boosting search engine optimisation? Fresh content is how Google thrives, and the more new content you put on your website, the higher you’ll find yourself in the rankings. A blog is the easiest way to ensure that you have new daily, weekly, or monthly information on your site – and using outbound links (as well as backlinks to your own content) will boost you even more.
But it’s not just about the search engines. Having a blog is a great way to develop relationships between you and your potential and current customers. It offers them an insight into how you work, allows them to comment and get involved, and blog posts are ideal for sharing on social media, which gets your name out there and pushes it further than it might otherwise be able to go. If your blog is full of helpful, interesting information then that’s where people will visit first, and each person who visits the blog is a potential customer.
And if a blog is something that you think might be of interest (or if you have any other copy writing requirements), please don’t hesitate to get in touch or check out my website (www.lisamarielamb.co.uk) for more information.
I like writing about all sorts of things; flash fiction, poetry, short stories, novels… And these pieces of writing are in various genres; horror, romance, children’s, literary fiction, mystery… With over one hundred different projects, either completed or in process, I like to think that I’ve managed not to repeat myself when it comes to plot and characters.
I try not to anyway.
But there is one thing that I do mention a lot, and I’m completely aware of it. It’s not always intentional (although at times it is integral to the plot), but whether I mean it to be there at the start of a story or not, ‘the woods’ often pops up.
What do I mean? I mean actual, literal woods. Deep, dark places full of trees and animals and scary things. Or peaceful places full of beauty and clearings of dappled sunlight and twinkling, tinkling streams that lead on to adventure.
I love to write about them too. Sometimes my stories are set within the trees. My recently completed novel, a children’s horror entitled The Waldgeist of Wanderal Woods, focuses the entire story in the magical world below a lush, green, leafy canopy. Another of my short stories is called “The Woods Today”, and is about a rather nasty teddy bears picnic. And another, “Miles To Go” details the shock and confusion of a man who awakes naked in a snowy wood.
Equally, some of my stories just touch on the woods. In “Fairy Lights” the protagonists camp by the edge of a wood, not daring to enter. “One Man and His Dog” has the eponymous man looking towards the woods, but eventually going in the other direction. “Careful of the Castle” involves a woman sitting on a hot, sandy beach; but she wishes she was wandering through the shaded woods of her home town.
There is something so fascinating, so elemental, so mysterious and exciting about woods, inside or out, that I find myself drawn to them. Of course, it helps that I’ve lived near one for almost all of my life. Or rather, near a few of them. The very first house I can remember backed onto woodland. I have a distinct memory of playing in the garden, sitting on a swing that my dad made and which hung from a big old apple tree, and staring, hard, hard, harder, over the back fence and into the woods. I wanted to see something move. I never did, unless wind-waving leaves counted.
A few years later we moved, and this time the garden was bigger, and at the bottom of this one was a large meadow on which horses roamed. That was nice. That was fine. But it was what was beyond the meadow, just on the horizon, that delighted me – a patch of trees that I was happy to call a wood. I even climbed over the back fence on a few occasions and ran across the field, dodging manure, to reach the trees. But fear of what (or whom?) I would find forced my back home. I never did go in.
The house after that, the one in which I spent my teenage years, had an even bigger garden, and this time woods came with the land. Just a little bit, but my excitement was at intense proportions, and I spent a lot of time at the bottom of the garden, just inside the woodland, daring myself to go further.
I still dare myself. My parents still live in the house. Every time I visit, I think about it. Maybe one day I’ll venture in.
When I married, we moved to a pretty little end of terrace in a village. And yes, right outside our front door, was a patch of woodland. It was beautiful, but we outgrew the house and had to move. I now live in an old cottage in the countryside and all around me is farmland. But just down the road are the woods. The real deep, dark woods.
Will I go in? Or will I leave it up to my intrepid characters, as I usually do? Maybe that’s why I write about the places so much – my stories let me do the one thing I’ve always wanted to do, but been afraid to actually go through with.
I am a ghost writer. And it’s not actually as spooky as it sounds (although, to be fair, my favourite genre is horror).
It’s one of many services that I provide as a professional freelancer, but what exactly does it mean, and how could it help you?
Ghost writing is the name given to the act of writing articles, blog posts, social media posts, books, stories, or anything else which is to be published under someone else’s name. I’ve produced hundreds of ghost written blog posts for various clients – many on an ongoing monthly basis – and it is their name that is seen when any reader clicks on the author link. Once I’ve written the piece (and, more often than not, posted it using the log in details I have been given), any ownership I might have had is gone; it all belongs to the site owner.
I have also ghost written a number of novels, as well as writing my own. One of these is about to be published, but it won’t be my name on the cover – it will be my client’s.
So what are the advantages to you of hiring a freelance ghost writer?
Running a business is time consuming – there are many day to day elements that need to be considered and dealt with, and writing a regular blog might not be high up on the list, even though it is incredibly important. Hiring a ghost writer means that your web rankings can grow but you don’t have to lose your own precious time making it happen.
Once someone else is running your blog, the pressure is off you.
You Are In Control
Even though someone else is writing the content for you, you as the client are entirely in control of what that content is and how it is used. The writer puts it together for you, but you are the one who uses it to your advantage. This can be cost effective if you choose to re-use the blog post or article in a newsletter or brochure, for example.
Your skills lie in your business – whatever the niche, service or product you are selling, that’s where your talent can be found. You might not necessarily also have the talent to craft an interesting, readable, thought provoking, shareable blog post as well. A ghost writer will.
And when it comes to novels and stories, the same is true – you the client could have the most wonderful plot, fully formed characters, but trying to put them all together might prove difficult for you if writing isn’t your ‘thing’. Or you simply might not have the time to sit down and craft an entire novel.A ghost writer is the perfect solution.
If you feel that a ghost writer would be the ideal way to grow your blog and website, to publish an article, or to write that novel you’ve always known you’ve got in you, then please get in touch.
Perhaps the question should actually be: would a writer ever want to retire?
I don’t know. Currently, I can’t imagine ever not writing. What would I do with myself? Even if I’m not writing for clients (a rare event, granted, but sometimes my evening and weekends allow a little me time), I’m writing for myself. Novels, short stories, the occasional poem, even the odd blog post now and then (yes, it happens!)… It’s what I love to do the most.
Writing is a strange thing. As the old saying goes, even when a writer isn’t actually writing, they’re thinking about writing. They want to be writing.
So is there really any such things as a former writer? Someone who used to write for a living and now just doesn’t. And if these people do exist, how have they filled the void that used to be all about the words? Writing is, for many, a part of themselves. It’s not just a job, it’s a calling. And to give that up for something else, or to give that up for nothing at all, it just doesn’t seem possible.
One of my favourite authors, Stephen King, retired once. Guess what he did during his retirement from writing? He wrote. And then he was published. And then he wasn’t retired anymore (not that he ever had been, in my opinion). He just couldn’t help himself, and I, for one, am grateful for that.
But then, what about Shakespeare? In 1613 he just stopped. No more plays, no more sonnets. Of course, for some this is more proof of the astonishing, fascinating, and almost believable conspiracy theory that Shakespeare never actually existed in the first place (more on that in a later blog).
Charles Dickens carried out what can only be described as a ‘farewell tour’, travelling the country and reading his last novel, Our Mutual Friend. Only it wasn’t his last novel because when he died in 1870, he was halfway through writing The Mystery of Edwin Drood. Strangely, and rather wonderfully, this novel (half novel) was actually published in its unfinished state.
Let me know – could you retire? Would you retire? Do you know someone who has and are they any happier for it? Or do they still dip their pens into the ink every now and then when they think no one is looking? I am not sure that someone who used to write would be able to wake up one day and say, “No more. Today is the day I will not type a single word. And I never will again either.”
And what about other careers – are any of them really so easy to step away from? Contact me or leave a comment and tell me what you think!
You pedal and you pedal and you pedal… maybe you pedal some more, perhaps a little more after that. But eventually, finally, you get tired. You have to stop. Of course you do. It’s wearing and wearying and it takes up all your energy.
If you’re not getting anywhere, that is.
If you’re going nowhere after all that pedalling, it’s not only tiring, it’s frustrating and it’s saddening and it feels like a waste of time.
It can put you off pedalling completely.
You’ll sit on that bike, push one foot down with a sigh that hurts, and wonder why you’re bothering. Then you’ll stop and it’ll feel good. Really good. It’ll feel so good that you won’t want to start again, and you’ll continue your life without any pedalling at all, and you won’t mind.
Ever feel like that?
I do. Stories stick and chapters freeze, and when they do I keep writing because I feel guilty if I don’t. I keep typing one word after another, and it’s wearing and wearying and I know I’m not getting anywhere. I know I’ll just delete the words and replace them with fresh ones, or I’ll forget about it all together and consign it to the story graveyard of my hard drive. Not a great feeling, but a familiar one.
And it feels good to give up sometimes. It’s better for you, and for the story. Sometimes stories are just no good, and that’s okay because we’re not perfect, and not everything we do is brilliant or worthy of publication.
Not everything we do is going to be our best work. It doesn’t work like that – after all, how can you have best if you don’t have worst? There has to be something to compare it to!
Leave it long enough, though, and I have a feeling you’ll get back on that bike, and you’ll pedal again. Leave it long enough, and I have a feeling you’ll get somewhere.
Don’t push your writing – it’s no good for anyone. Enjoy it, and the words will flourish.
Lisamarie Lamb| 5th April 2016 0
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Please contact me using the information below; I’d love to hear from you.
A blog is an essential tool in ensuring your website is seen. I can create regular blog posts that will move you up the rankings and give you a better placement within your industry.
Have you ever wanted to write a novel, memoir or short story but don’t have the time? Do you have the ideas, but the words don’t flow? I can help. Contact me for a confidential chat.
I am happy to carry out research, conduct interviews, and write/edit articles of any length. Contact me for more information about my rates and services.
From your home page to your about me details and everything in between, you want a website that has snappy, interesting, high quality content. Let me create it for you.
If you have a product that you want others to know about, you need a sales letter that is going to get attention – and keep it. I can write that letter for you.
Are you thinking of starting an email campaign but don’t know what to include? Or perhaps you want to send a special email to that special someone, but you can’t think of the right words. Contact me and we can discuss exactly what I can do to help.
Selling products online can be an excellent way of making a business, but if your products sound boring and your descriptions are dull, no one will want them. I’ve written thousands of products descriptions, and I can make your products shine.
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Have you written something that needs that extra level of checking? With my years of experience I can proofread or copy edit your work so that it’s the best it can be.
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Getting your digital marketing and social media strategy right is essential. I can provide and implement a social media marketing plan that works for you. Contact me to find out more.
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Excellent work by Lisamarie, on time, great quality and constant communication. Would not hesitate to recommend and in fact use again as soon as opportunity arises.
Lisamarie was great to work with - she did a fantastic job that completely met the brief and was delivered before the deadline.
Quick and brilliant, nailed the brief! Will work with her all the time 🙂
Fantastic work A++++
It was a pleasure to work with Lisamarie, she adjusted to our workflow and process with ease and completed work quickly and effectively.
Lisamarie is a very good writer and is very easy to work with. She reacted well to my guidance and provided me with content I'm very happy to use. I look forward to working with her again soon.
Great work from Lisamarie, articles are exactly what we wanted
Brilliant work from Lisamarie. I would definitely retain her again and recommend her to others.
HELLO, I'M LISAMARIE.
I started writing in my late teens but it was only with the birth of my daughter that I decided to write more seriously, with the aim of publication. Since that decision in 2010, I have had over 40 short stories published in anthologies and magazines.
It may seem like this particular question had a fairly obvious answer. Why do writers write? Because they want to. But I think it’s a little more complicated than that.
Firstly, let me clarify what I mean by ‘writer’. I’m not talking about full-time freelancers (like me); that’s a job and, despite it being enjoyable and flexible, is – when you get right down to it – about having an income. I’m talking about those who write for pleasure (not necessarily authors; authors are those who make a career out of writing their own thoughts, whereas writers could be tapping away at a keyboard without any need or want to be published – they just want to write). It could be fiction, it could be non-fiction, it might even be poetry. Short stories, novels, biographies, you name it. These are the writers I’m asking my question about.
Why do these writers write?
Most writers don’t make too much money from their creative projects. Unless you’re Stephen King, J.K. Rowling or the like, it’s a little bit of change every now and then. But if you have a passion for writing, then you do it. Runner’s have what is known as a ‘runner’s high’ when they are competing or even just practicing. Writers get the same kind of high from their creative endeavours. Endorphins are released, and endorphins make you feel great. So you keep doing whatever it is that makes you feel so good. And if that’s writing, then you write.
A whopping 30 percent of the author market is written to help others in positive ways. Having a book out there that offers insights into living a better, more fulfilling life is something that excites a large number of writers, and this is the fuel behind their writing.
If a large number of writers like to write in order to help others, an even larger number like to write just to entertain them. I say ‘just’, but being entertained is actually a big thing; think of all the times during the day when you would have been bored had their not been something (book, internet, TV, theatre) to entertain you. What would life be like without something to keep your mind busy? It doesn’t bear thinking about.
For some, writing is the ultimate release. They can write anything they want, anything that comes to mind, and even if no one ever reads it (sometimes especially if no one ever reads it), the act of writing itself is what keep them writing. It’s a great form of therapy, and for those with too much going on inside their heads it’s the ideal way of letting some of it out in a controlled, even enjoyable way.
Writing is fun. Not for everyone, of course, but for those with the creative brain to do it, it’s hugely enjoyable. Everyone needs a hobby, don’t they, and if writing is the one someone chooses, that’s great. Others may not understand it, but then if you enjoy football or fishing or running or rock climbing not everyone will understand that either. Each to their own.
With October seeing the return of National Home Security Month, Don Shulsinger from Blinkforhome, the video home security and monitoring system, gives tips and advice for keeping your family, home, and possessions safe.
Leave exterior lights on all night and when you’re out
When there are bright lights around a home’s exterior, burglars are less likely to target it. Schedule lights to come on at set times if you are away or on holiday.
Lock doors when you’re home alone
It’s not unusual for a burglary to occur while there’s someone in the house. It’s just as important to keep your doors locked when you’re at home so no one can break in. The most common time to be burgled is between 10:00am and 3:00 pm when thieves think people will most likely be out at work.
Don’t open the door to a stranger
Even if they say they’re from the council, the water board or the police you should be cautious about opening the door. A good idea is a peephole in the front door so you can screen visitors before opening the door.
Be smart about social media
Resist the urge to tweet or post that you’re on holiday or out at a concert or party and that your home is empty. Don’t give people insight into your goings-on. It’s best to update afterwards.
Get a dog or gravel
A dog can help you feel more secure and scare off intruders. A “beware of the dog” sign may help too. If you have a front garden or a car parking space, it’s worth thinking of putting gravel down as the noise can deter an intruder, or alert your dog if you have one.
Securely hide spare keys
Doormats, flowerpots and fake rocks are not fooling anyone who’s determined enough to break in. Hide them securely or keep them with a friend, neighbour or family member.
Install smart home technology
A good idea is to install a home security camera. There are many devices available that are motion activated and will record people entering your home, such as Blink. Ideal for alerting you to a break-in, and recording an incident if all other measures fail! Blink lets you keep a watchful eye on your home via your smartphone. It’s stylish, easy to install, wireless, and uses innovative HD video technology to let you know what’s going on when you are not there. www.blinkforhome.co.uk
In the second of Gabriel Eziorobo’s guest blogs, he talks about what he needs to do before writing – perhaps these ideas might be useful for you too.
Read before you write: This is it! Reading has a vital role to play in the life of a writer. Every writer has to read books, articles or any readable thing in order to write a good piece. You can tell the difference between Tony who loves reading and Sandra who is not keen on reading. Tony has gathered wider knowledge to write while Sandra will be limited to her imagination when writing. Reading widens the minds of writers, it improves their writing skills to write on every angle and make them outstanding among other writers.
Be in the mood: You have to get in the mood of writing. When you are the mood to write, writers’ block will not be your problem. It is only when we are ready we can be able to rest our minds, imagine well and the pen will do the talking with no blockage.
Write on topics in which you have an interest: You have to be in love with the things you write about. Be it fiction, non-fiction, comedy, tragedy, music, or poetry. Your interest has to be there whenever you pick a topic to write, so you can be able to free yourself and you can be able to talk more on it. I love to talk about illusion and the type of leaders we have in my country in every one of my poems because I have the interest for both topics. You can’t impress your readers if you don’t have interest for the theme you have chosen. It is your interest and the love you have for any niche that will broaden your brain to think and to write.
Eat before you write: This is funny, but I have to feed my stomach before I can jot something down. I feel tired and sleepy whenever I am hungry. It only when I have eaten I can be able to read, to meditate and to write.
Imagine before you write: This is a mental picture in your mind before writing. It allows you to create your own world and the way you will transform it into reality is what make you a creative thinker and a writer. People want to read something different so you have to imagine in order to give them what they want. Because they are the benefactors of your written work.
I started writing when I read a love poem. It was the poem that inspired me to start writing. I was meant to understand that writing is an art that needs to be done in your own way. You don’t have to write like other writers before you can call yourself a writer, you don’t have to do the things writers have been doing before you can call yourself a writer or get a degree in English before you can call yourself a writer. This doesn’t make you a writer, but a copywriter. This is a funny thought but that is it. You just have to be yourself and not someone else.
Let me show you the three things that tells you writing is an art and not a tradition. These needs to be followed and then you can become the writer you want to be.
Uniqueness: Everyone is looking for something different. Just imagine how many writers we have in the world today and how many are yet to be born. Too many to count. Yet few are noticed. The ones that are noticed are people who have done it their own way. You can know them by the things they have done in the writing industry because they are unique. You can be among these writers by doing something unique for everyone to follow. People won’t say anything about your writing if you are doing the things they already know. You just have to make a change and not to be in the midst of writers, you just have to do it the way you can and not the way you will be stuck, you just have to say this is your style of writing and not the other way round for the world to know who you are and the things you are made of.
Creativity: Writing is an art in which you have to imagine wide. This means creating your own world through your imagination, taking it beyond the earth’s surface and making something extraordinary out of it. The secret behind creativity is imagination. You can go far as a writer if you can take your time to imagine vividly and come up with a new idea in the writing industry. There are no two ways about it, imagine it, take a step and it will work for you.
How you interact with your readers: Not every reader loves reading books that end with unhappy moments. They don’t all enjoy a scary book. You have to understand who your readers are, what are those topics they love to read and how you can get their attention to the end of your story.
These are the list of things you should consider before writing on any topic:I) Theme: Your theme should relate
i) Theme: Your theme should relate to your readers. You should tell them everything they need to know about the theme and how it can be of help to them.
ii) Suspense: This is a way you can get your readers to read your story to the end. Let there be a suspense in your writing for people to read because if there is no suspense readers may lose interest and may call that piece of writing boring.
iii) Rhetorical questions: You should involve your readers in your writing by asking questions that are meant for them to answer. This can also get their attention in answering those questions and keep reading to know the answers behind those questions you have asked them.
In many professions competition is the norm. It is a fight to the top, and sometimes people get trampled. But with writers it’s different. Or at least it should be. With writers, there is enough space out there for everyone.
I’m not talking about copywriters or freelance writers exactly – everyone of them (me included) fights for the jobs that pay well or seem interesting. Heck, we even fight for the ones that don’t pay well and have us writing about things we have no interest in at all; the bills need to be paid.
But indie (independent) authors are a particular breed of writer. And it is in this profession that there is room for everyone to do whatever it is they want to do. Especially now that there is the option for self publishing. These are the ones who have no need to compete with one another; there are so many different stories that can be written, and so many genres (and sub-genres… and sub-sub-genres, come to that!) that the variety really is infinite.
It is because of this infinite variety that indie authors really should – and generally do – help one another out. Working together is important; it enables everyone to move further forward, and to find different markets that they might otherwise never have come into contact with. It will take time, but it is always worth doing – networking, offering advice, working on a ‘give and take’ ideal… it all goes to the greater good, because when one indie author succeeds, it gives hope and opportunity to all the others.
There are a few different ways to collaborate with other authors. One is link swapping. That could be posting or sending out alerts when a new competition or writing opportunity presents itself, or it could simply be placing the links of other writers on your Facebook page, your Twitter feed, your blog… If you link to theirs, they can link to yours, and both of your audiences will grow. It’s a fantastic way to find new readers for your work, and it’s immediate exposure too, meaning immediate income. It might not be much, but it’s something, and that’s how we all need to start.
Brainstorming is another great way to use the expertise of other writers, and to put forward some ideas of your own. Join in with (or create, if you can’t find one already) a monthly online meeting using Skype or Google Hangouts or Slack or Whatsapp. There are many different options. You could even set up a secret Facebook group and use that. As long as there is an online space where everyone – whoever you invite, really – can discuss their writing, how they’re marketing it, any plans for the future or questions they might have and so on. It’s a great way to swap ideas and discover new things.
Libraries are such useful commodities, and so indie authors may as well use them too. Note down the ISBN of the books written by authors in your network, and ask your local library to order the book in for you. If your entire network does the same for everyone, that will give all of your books a nice borrowing boost. It can be embarrassing to ask for your own book to be brought into a library, but asking for someone else’s is much easier, and more likely to get done and yield results.
Apart from actually writing, the thing that takes up most of an indie author’s time is the research. This is research into how to market the books when they are complete, who to use as an editor, where the best value cover designers are, as well as the content itself. It can take an age, when all you really want to do is get it done and have your book out there for all to see – and hopefully read. This is where the knowledge of others can really save you time. Ask your questions on a forum and get answers – indie authors love to share! And who knows, you may be able to pay it forward and answer someone else’s questions while you’re at it.
Basically, when indie authors pull together so much more can get done – and so many more will see you.
Julia stopped card reading on her thirty-fifth birthday. It used to be a favourite past time of hers, to leave the hectic stream of the high street and enter the bright, warm, orange infused glow of the greetings card shop, her glasses instantly misting and then clearing as she started to make her way to the ‘with sympathy’ section. She’d always start there; she felt it grounded her, reminded her that she was mortal, made her appreciate the life she was living. She tried to remember those cards when she was frustrated, or angry, or just generally having a bad day. It sometimes even worked.
After her sobering start, she moved to the anniversary cards. She had no one to buy one for, but it didn’t stop her looking. Pastel colours or bright, bright reds and pinks, hearts, flowers, teddy bears… Soppy and silly, but so beautiful in their charming, clichéd way.
Other sections received a brief glance, and special occasions, such as Valentine’s or Christmas, necessitated a much longer rest stop in the shop, since it was often busier inside than out. But no matter what, the birthday cards were never ignored. This was what she came for. This was what she adored, and this is what she wanted. She spent long minutes, if not hours, searching for just the right card. Sometimes she came away with nothing. Usually she came away with nothing. So far, from her hundreds of visits to the shop, she had bought just seventeen cards. She only wanted one more.
She never bought her eighteenth card.
It was twenty years before that she went to the psychic to ask her one, specific question; When will I have a baby?
Before you are thirty-five, was the answer. Certain. Definite.
It never occurred to Julia that finding a man should be her priority if she was to achieve this goal. She didn’t think of that at all; instead she planned everything else, bought everything, painted and decorated a nursery, bought a stock of nappies and clothing in different sizes, opened up a savings account for her child’s education. She had so many toys she had to store most of them in the loft, in cardboard boxes, labelled ‘Baby’.
On her thirty-fifth birthday, Julia stopped card reading. She sat, silent tears of a lost life dripping onto the seventeen birthday cards she had so carefully picked out for her child. The eighteenth would stay in the shop. Someone else could have it.
Just as with many professions – musicians, sports players, even medical professionals and plenty more – writers have a variety of weird and wonderful writing superstitions that are as unique to each writer as their own writing style.
Writers, however, seem to have more than anyone else.
Whether that is because good luck and excellent timing can – by some – be seen to be the way to gain success in the fiction industry, or whether it is because the muse does not always deign to make an appearance when we want (or rather need) her to, who can say? The point is, writers have superstitions that offer them peace of mind. And a peaceful mind is often the first step in creating something beautiful.
The Weirdest Superstitions…
Edith Sitwell was a British poet, and she certainly enjoyed having a clear mind. However, the only way for her to clear that mind was to lie in an open coffin before beginning work.
Truman Capote would never, ever start or finish a piece of writing on a Friday. And neither would he write sitting down; he always had to lie down to get anything done.
John Steinbeck wrote all of his first drafts in pencil. Perhaps not so strange. But he did always make sure he had 12 sharpened pencils on his desk at all times.
Alexandre Dumas used colour in his superstitious ideas. Fiction had to be written on blue paper, articles on pink paper, and poetry on yellow paper.
Friedrich Schiller had to have the smell of rotten apples around him if he was to get anything worthwhile down on paper. Therefore, to ensure he could always write, he kept rotten apples in his desk drawer. Every now and then he would open the drawer and inhale the scent, boosting his creativity (so he said).
Isabel Allende writes about magical realism. She always starts a new novel on 8th January.
More Common Superstitions
Of course, there are some more common superstitions that many writers believe in – or rather, don’t want to not believe in, just in case. This includes the idea of not having 13 pages in a chapter, or not only including 13 chapters in a book. This might be why some books don’t end when it feels that they should! Other writers don’t like to end a book (or chapter) on an even page. More don’t like odd pages.
Some writers only ever think of the title of a book once it is complete (J.K. Rowling does this), but for others, there must be a title before any work can be done (this is how I work, as it happens).
Using a specific notebook, pen, typewriter or computer are also common superstitions. Or wearing a certain piece of clothing that brings luck (or at least words).
Whether or not these superstitions actually work is the matter of some debate. Those who cling to them will insist that they do, whilst others who don’t understand will say that they don’t.
But either way, what harm does it do? The writer enjoys their work, safe in the knowledge that they have carried out all the checks and balances that need to be done for inspiration to strike and the words to flow. And the sceptics… well, they can simply enjoy the finished product, can’t they?
It’s been a while since I had a new short story collection out. Short stories, however, are my favourite thing to write. There is something fun, fast, and a little bit frantic about trying to get a million ideas (or perhaps just one big idea) into a condensed form. I try to keep my short stories in the 3,000 to 6,000 word realm, but sometimes the story takes over a little bit and ends up much longer.
Of course, the opposite is true too. Sometimes a story is over and done with in 1,000 words. Sometimes fewer. It all depends. I don’t really like to work to word counts when it comes to fiction – although when blogging and writing features and articles, it’s an essential skill to have. Maybe that’s why I enjoy writing fiction so much; I get a chance to really let my imagination take flight, and I’m not restricted. It’s a good way of unwinding in the evenings after spending a whole day writing much more formal, much more corporate, much more SEO-based pieces.
My latest collection, Cold Calling, consists of 19 chilling short stories that all have one thing in common; greed. Sometimes good, usually bad, greed is the essence of this collection and, some would say, of life.
Perfect for garden parties, long summer evenings and other staple events in the summer social calendar, Newby’s teas and tisanes preserve the fruits’ natural sugars and make a luxurious iced brew which can be drunk without added sweetener, making them the perfect iced-tea recipe.
From Newby’s popular Classic Tea Bag Collection comes a healthy, delicious and refreshing alternative for the discerning customer who wishes to avoid artificially-sugared summer drinks: Iced Summer Berries and Iced Green Lemon.
Summer Berries combines a rich berry taste with notes of hibiscus and vanilla. Green Lemon is light yellow-green, with a delicate citrus taste and a tangy finish.
Each luxury tea and tisane is presented in a Newby sachet, sealed the Newby way, a proprietary system which preserves the freshness and aroma of the tea, keeping it safe from adulterates.
Gwen Hustwit, General Manager Creative & Marketing at Newby Teas said:
“All you need to do to make our summer iced teas is brew, cool and add ice. Use one teabag per person, add boiling water, then brew for 3-5 minutes. Alternatively, for green tea, you can use our specially-developed recipe.”
“At Newby Teas, we are dedicated to reintroducing quality and uncompromising flavour to every one of our products. Our teas are fresh and full of flavour and character, and our tisanes retain the fruits’ natural sugars, offering the perfect sweet indulgence, which can be served sugar free without calories, making it the perfect summer refreshment.
“From weekend garden parties to warm summer nights, this year’s Newby iced teas are the ultimate luxury treat.”
Newby Teas Classic Tea Bag Collection was relaunched earlier this year with a series of unique designs created to celebrate craftsmanship. Newby Teas, is substantially owned by the N Sethia Foundation, which supports, among other good causes, the Chitra Sethia Centre for Robotics and Minimal Access Surgery at UCH, the Chitra Sethia Autism Centre in Cambridge.
Green Lemon and Summer Berries cost £5.50 per 25 bag packet and are available online at (www.newbyteas.co.uk).
Newby’s ‘Green Mojitea’ iced-tea recipe
4-6 Newby Green Lemon Tea Bags
3 Tablespoons of Sugar
600ml Sparkling Water
3 Unwaxed Lemons
In a large heat proof jug, brew 4-6 Newby Green Lemon tea bags using 400ml of water just below boiling (80°C). Steep for 3-5 minutes then remove tea bags. Stir in 3 tablespoons of sugar (adjust to taste) and allow the tea to cool before adding the juice of 2 lemons and 600ml of sparkling water. Serve with ice, and fresh lemon (fresh mint optional).
Newby’s ‘Strawberry MarTEAni’ recipe
6 x Newby Strawberry & Mango Black Tea
Juice of 2 unwaxed lemons
2-3 tablespoons of sugar (optional)
Fresh mango (optional)
In a large pitcher, brew the sachets in 400ml of boiling water and infuse for 4-5 minutes. Remove tea bags and stir in sugar (adjust to taste). Add 600 ml of cold water and the juice of 2 fresh lemons. Top up with plenty of ice, a handful of fresh mint and some fresh strawberries. Lovely served in martini glasses for a special occasion.
There are many theories in this world that support the idea that what you think determines the outcome of your life. The mind is a marvellous, untapped resource that is potentially infinite in its influence over what you do and how things turn out. The Law of Attraction is just one of these theories, and it is a fascinating read.
Even if you don’t believe in how it works exactly, there is no doubt that having a positive outlook affects how you perceive things, and how you are perceived. So it is important to think positively whenever possible.
If things have been going badly with regards to your work or writing – or any other creative pursuit – then could it possibly be your thoughts and feeling about it all that is causing the problems? Could it be that you are sabotaging yourself? Let’s take a look at how you might be, without even realising that you are.
Making It A Competition
If you are constantly looking around you at what other people are doing, you’ll never be able to fully focus on what you are doing – and that can spell disaster for your current creative project. That is one of the best ways of sabotaging yourself. Comparing yourself to others can sometimes work in terms of allowing you to set yourself a goal, but doing it all the time is distracting, and can push you off course from that goal very easily.
It is always better to be looking ahead, towards your next goal, and ignore what other people are doing. Creativity is not a race. It’s not a competition. It is a personal journey. That may sound a bit ‘new age-y’ but think about it; it’s completely true.
Allowing yourself to get angry about things is another excellent way of halting the creative process and sabotaging yourself. If something has irritated you – it could be anything, from a Facebook post by a fellow writer, artist, poet etc, to hearing about someone’s success in the same genre that you work in – the important question to ask is ‘why?’. Why are you angry about this? And what is that anger doing to harm your creative process (hint: it’s another way of sabotaging yourself)?
Is your anger about being envious? Is it that you have a particularly deep competitive streak? Does the news make you feel less secure about your place in the creative world?
Whatever it is, remember that your own thoughts are taking you on a journey, and if you want that journey to be a fulfilling and successful one, then you need to dispense with all the superfluous feelings of anger and just get on with working your way towards happiness. Another artist’s success will not diminish your own. There is no need to be envious as your time will come as long as you work towards it and acknowledge that fact.
Complaining All The Time
Complaining to yourself is a waste of time. Complaining to other people… well, that all depends on the complaint. A valid complaint should often be aired – in a well-thought out and calm kind of way. That is how things can done, that is how problems get solved. A general gripe about the state of things, about a tweet that you didn’t appreciate, about someone else’s success or writing ability… that’s usually less productive. Plus this kind of pointless complaining has a knock-on effect. Firstly, it takes up a lot of time when, you guessed it, you could be writing or painting or doing whatever it is that makes you feel complete.
Secondly, empty complaining puts you in a negative frame of mind. One small niggle and suddenly everything is less rosy. Unsure about that? Think of it the other way around – when you see something that makes you happy, or you get some good news, doesn’t your day iimmediately seem better? Brighter? Altogether happier? It’s true, and the same goes for negative things. Your day (if you let it) will go downhill. Don’t let it. Keep positive, and things will improve. That’s just how it works.