Writing circles are important for goal achieving and encouragement

There’s nothing like setting a deadline to get your work done, right? Writing is hard, and once the initial few chapters have been completed, finding the stamina to keep going can often become a nightmare. There are chores to do, work to go to, real lives to lead.  So, we set ourselves goals and targets to work towards. There’s NaNoWriMo, forum threads to add to every day to say ‘hey guys, I got 1K done today‘, and it does help. There’s nothing quite like a public announcement to put the pressure on. But, if you really want to keep going, you need perseverance and the help of friends.

Once you’ve published a book or two, the pressure starts to mount even more. With two books of my Inside Evil series out, there’s a rising need to write the third. I want Spirit of the Middlelands out in March. It’ll mean I’ve published five books in a year, and it’ll ensure that fans of the series actually get a new read fairly quickly.  But I’m a procrastinator, it takes a while for me to sit down and open that .doc file. Not anymore, however, because I’ve found New Year, New Book.

nynbThis fantastic little community of writers, some of whom I know already and some who are becoming new friends, encourage each other along with tweets, emails and a visual little stats counter. As I said, there’s nothing like a public challenge to throw down the gauntlet, but all too often NaNoWriMo and those forum threads can become just as impersonal as if you were simply looking at a goal Post-it above your laptop. With New Year, New Book, each time we write, we check in with Twitter hashtags and our little stats bar zips towards our goal. I’m three days into February and I’ve already written 6.5K. It’s going great guns!

Writing can be an extremely lonely experience, and though I’m quite happy being a hermit for most of the time, a few encouraging tweets and the joy of applauding for others is quite welcome in my day. If you want to find out more about New Year, New Book head over to the page and see if you want to get involved. I’m writing more now than I ever have done.

The Next Project Begins

The Tower of Souls is done and has now been given to my proofer for a final once over. All being well, it’ll be on shelves in the next few weeks, furthering Roberta and the residents of Ridgewood’s stories. So, with the manuscript completed, my mind is already moving to new things.

My next project will be a slight departure from Ridgewood as I complete the science fiction novel that has been lurking behind the scenes for many years. It’s already at 80K, and will probably end up at about 110K overall. I’m not very good at writing stand-a-lone stories as I get far too involved in my characters, and so I’m expecting this science fiction story to become quite epic.

With the title still TBC, my new project follows John Carlody; a widower who finds himself with one of the rarest golden tickets on the planet, the chance to get onto the world’s latest fad – cryogenics. The shy and retiring John finds himself thrust into the limelight, filled with mixed emotions over saying goodbye to those he loves and thrown into a future unrecognisable to the one that he left.

I’m excited to get back into this book and rediscover the characters who have been in my mind for so long. I’m aiming to have an Oct/Nov release, after which I’ll be back with the Ridgewood residents for the third in their series.

Top five soundtracks to enjoy whilst writing fantasy, science fiction or paranormal novels

I don’t know about you, but when I write I’m normally listening to some kind of music. I can’t have anything with actual words in because, before you know it, I’m singing along and not writing at all. However, I do find that soundtracks help immerse me into my novel, and help conjure the right ambiance to start setting out scenes.

Here are my top five writing tracks of right now:

Harry Potter

Whether you love him or hate him, Harry Potter has provided some great thrills over the year. I have all of the film soundtracks and have listened to them so much that I know the exact scene for each track. They’re great for putting you in a ‘magical’ mood.


In my personal opinion, Alien remains one of the most thrilling and scariest science fiction horrors of all time. The suspenseful and iconic score is a joy to listen to, and if you’re ever in the need for some inspiring outer space and horrifying ambiance, then this score is ideal for you.

The Descent

My all time favourite British horror movie, The Descent has confirmed my fear of caving and if there’s one thing I’m happy to never do in my life, it’s descend underground and crawl through minuscule rock cavities. But, this soundtrack is yet another fantastic score to enjoy if you want to give yourself an isolated ambiance with scary undertones.

28 Days Later

Ok, I lied, 28 Days Later actually tops The Descent in my favourite Brit horror flick. It’s score gives me goose pimples and there’s one scene in particular that I wrote in Inside Evil with the theme of this movie going around in my head – in my opinion, it’s the scariest scene in the book.

Jon Hopkins

OK, technically this isn’t a soundtrack, but Jon Hopkins has graced so many soundtracks that I’m bending this blog post’s rules slightly. This musician is one of my favourite artists to enjoy when I’m writing, and has a range of tracks for any occasion. If I need something uplifting, hopeful or romantic, I turn to Jon Hopkins. Here’s one of my favourite tracks, Cerulean.

Writing books on smartphones and gadgets

When it comes to writing, I’m one of the world’s greatest procrastinators. Rather than simply sitting down at my computer, I like to first get all of my client writing work out of the way. I like to schedule my day and work out when I can write blogs, clean the dishes, feed the cats; anything but actually sit down and actually work. I will be thinking about writing, formulating scenes and chapters in my mind, but I can often put off the actual process of writing for an extraordinarily long length of time. Sometimes, it’s just that I don’t want to sit down at my computer.

Something that’s got me producing more work and words every day is writing whilst I’m on the move. Though I’m a PC boy, I have fallen into the Apple cart, quite literally, and the iPhone has literally changed my life in the past two years that I’ve had it. However, it is in more recent weeks that the ‘Notes’ app (right) has been proving a huge benefit.

You may not think that writing a novel on your iPhone is the smartest way to go about producing work, but if you can actually get words written, then anything is a bonus. Think how fast you type messages and emails on your smartphone. If you can transfer this speed to your ‘Notes’ app, then surely you’re onto a winner. A benefit with the app is that there’s an integrated email function. When I’m home I can simply cut and paste the words into my main manuscript. Yes, there’s some formatting that needs to be done, but highlighting the text and adding line spacing, indents and changing the font takes mere seconds. As for correcting comma and quotation fonts; well I can easily do that in the final edit.

In the past few weeks I’ve managed to get a lot of words written using this method. Any free moment, whether it’s a coffee break or even an advert break when I’m watching the television, I can jot things down. Yes, you can take notepads, netbooks or laptops wherever you go if you wish, but there’s one thing that’s almost certainly always going to be to hand, and that’s your phone.

Of course, this isn’t a replacement for your PC or Mac, but it sure helps churn out those important thoughts and words when you have a few spare minutes. It also seems like less work than sitting down at your computer. And, for the ultimate procrastinator like me, emailing across the document, integrating it into the manuscript and suddenly realising you’ve written 5k by utilising otherwise wasted time is wonderful. I’m not sure whether other smartphone systems have similar applications as this. But, if you have an iPhone and you sometimes struggle with sitting down to concentrate on writing, utilising the Notes app may just provide the extra incentive to keep going.