Having an Online Presence Isn’t so Scary!

Treat for my writing buddy T-Rex who is always supporting me in my writing, so here’s some hopefully helpful thoughts on getting online.

Blogging and staying active on social media to promote your brand is time-consuming and overwhelming when you have a million and one other things to do, but if you want to make it in this world, you have to market yourself. I’m going to breakdown some tips for organising and connecting your apps to make things that bit easier. 

Let’s start with a blog and website. 

I strongly recommend a full-package hosting platform for your website. They make design and management so much more easy. Platforms like WordPress are designed for blogs as well as full websites, but there are others out there. 

I can’t rave enough about WordPress, so here are some of the many things I love about WordPress.

  • Easy and versatile editing for your posts and pages. You can choose preset layouts or add your own widgets like an image gallery, quotes, files… the list goes on. 
  • You can use your own images (copyright depending) or use the built-in Pexels.com search with automatic attribution. It’s important to attribute artists especially when they’re offering great images for free.
  • Connectivity to various apps. If you’re reading this post in its full form as opposed to WordPress Reader, you’ll see my Instagram and Goodreads to the right or below. Plus, you can automatically publish new posts to Twitter and Facebook (if you create a page). There’s also Mailchimp connection. You can even link to your Google photos for easy image upload. 
  • See your stats and traffic and where they’re coming from to help with marketing.
  • Lots of themes to choose from on the free version, and even more on the paid versions.
  • You can personalise your site address even with the free version if you don’t mind the wordpress.com at the end. Or you can upgrade and have your own domain. Plans start at around $50 per year, but I recommend Premium around $100 per year. 
  • Add hashtags and categories to help people find your latest posts and pages on WordPress and Facebook.
  • Built-in scheduling to time your posts just right for your readers.
  • Readers and bloggers can use the WordPress app for easy viewing and quick posting or editing on the go. 

Social Media

Whether you like social media or not, it’s essential to get your name out there in this busy modern age. I’m still very much growing a following, but the moment I became active on social media, my blog traffic tripled. Here are my favourite aspects of the platforms I use.


You can’t share links on Instagram, but you can use something like linktree which I’ll talk about in a moment.

  • The filters make basic quality photos from your mobile look more professional and creative. 
  • It’s quick and easy to scroll through and all about the images. Long text is generally not used, and if it is, it’s very hidden behind a “see more” option.
  • Most people I follow publish daily, but not more than two or three posts like many on Twitter.
  • I can follow people and hashtags and find new writers or bookworms to follow for a great community.
  • There’s also a group chat option. 
  • You can go live and get great conversations going.


  • Unlike Instagram, you can post links (like from your blog) with an automatic snippet from the page.
  • Groups are more versatile than Instagram and work a bit like a private page for people to post to and respond to similar to a forum. 
  • It feels like it has more information, which I don’t always have the brain capacity for, but when I do, I find it entertaining to keep up with my favourite writers and musicians. 


Personally, I’m not a huge fan of Twitter. I tried but didn’t get on with it. But it’s good for quick posts and limited word count. Plus, you can share links on there.

Staying Organised

  • I recommend keeping multiple blog posts in the same document/s based on time spans or themes. I keep my writing ranting posts separate from my reading ranting posts. Each one has two months’ of posts.
  • Using Google Docs or OneNotes is great because you can work on your computer or your phone. Then you can copy into your desired app when it’s ready.
  • Scheduling posts is another great way to keep your social media more organised and balance your life and social media. Set aside time each week to write and prepare your posts, then sit back and watch the magical world of digital media do its thing. As I mentioned, WordPress has this option for blog posts. Facebook has a business management app for free with scheduling. Or, you can use Planoly to publish on Instagram. There’s a setting on Instagram to automatically post to Facebook so you don’t have to post twice.
  • Keep lists of hashtags in a handy document such as your blog document or a OneNotes page for quick copying to whatever your posting. 
  • Keep all your links in one place. I use Link Tree for a one-stop-shop for social media and any new links I want to share, which I can use on Instagram since they don’t allow links in the posts. Just add the link in your link tree and tell readers to go to your bio link. 

It all sounds like a lot, but once you get the hang of it, it’s actually much easier than you think. With blog posts sending to Facebook, and Planoly sending to both Instagram and Facebook, you really only need to focus on these for scheduled posting. 

I’m sure I’ve missed something, but that’s the gist of it all.

Image by Paul Stachowiak from Pixabay 

Harsh Critiques!

I’ve had mixed experiences with giving and receiving critiques. I try to be honest and encouraging and have many great writing buddies do the same for me. But one thing that bothers me is when people I don’t know critique my work with zero encouragement or when others talk about wanting “harsh” crits or “tear my chapter apart”.

Firstly, let’s look at the word “harsh”.

Cambridge Dictionary says… unpleasant, unkind, cruel, or more severe than is necessary:

Merriam Webster defines it as… unpleasant and difficult to accept or experience

Then there’s “tear it apart” or “rip it to shreds”. I mean, who asks for something like that? 

What these people should be saying is “Be honest. Feel free to nit pick. Point out any and every issue you find that leaves my manuscript lacking.” This is what a “real” critique is all about.

Critters can’t control if a writer is going to be sensitive to negative comments or not, but you don’t have to sugarcoat it either to be constructive. You don’t have to lie or give false praise in order to be encouraging. Honesty and a little tact on any issues go an incredibly long way. There’s also a sever lack of encouragement for new writers. We’re all learning and growing and want to be part of a community that inspires us to be better rather than discouraging us. There should be balance in a good critique.

Critiques should be helpful, productive and exciting to see the potential in your work even if you have a long way to go. For me, that’s part of the fun, taking a draft and polishing it into something I can be proud of and grateful for my writing buddies for getting me there.

However, I get to the point with my writing buddies where we can be blunt without offending one another. I’ve had a couple who apologise for bluntness if they picked on something a lot in a particular chapter, and I was fine with it. That’s a little different because I know them and trust that they’re not saying it to be harsh. They’re saying it because they’re familiar enough with my work to know what I’m capable of.

So stop asking for harsh critiques and start asking for honest ones.

Image by Steve Johnson from Pixabay 

Unravelling Writing Advice – When to Hire and Editor!

Another installment from Unravelling Writing Advice series.

I’ve never hired an editor, and there’s a reason for that. Let me explain…

When it comes to hiring editors, I’ve discovered there are three types of writer.

  1. The writer who gets an editor before they’ve finished their WIP or pays an editor even though they plan to traditionally publish their work.
  2. The writer who thinks critique partners and beta readers substitute a professional editor.
  3. The writer who does all they can through CPs and beta readers before hiring an editor or waits for an agent/publishing house to arrange that for them.

Let’s look at number one. Hiring an editor too soon is a waste of money, if you ask me. Sure, you might get frustrated with feedback from fellow writers and want a professional opinion on your WIP. But I’d do as much as you can with your CPs and beta readers before shelling precious money. 

If your heart is still set on getting professional input, a developmental editor would be your best bet. They’re there to help with plot holes, character arcs, common prose fails, and other big picture issues. Think about what this would do short term and long term. Do you think one editor can do a better job than multiple CPs on your WIP? I’m not saying don’t hire one if you’re struggling. I’m saying consider carefully if it’s worth the cost. Multiple CPs can pick out a lot of big-picture issues between them, and it’s free. 

On the other hand, I would never suggest anyone skip a professional editor in favour of using CPs as editors. Not all writers have great editing skills and vice versa. Editor is its own profession for a reason. Whether you self-publish or go via an agent or publisher, you should always have at least a copy editor go through your work for spelling and grammar mistakes before you finalise your printable book.

In my opinion, the best time to hire an editor is when you’ve done all you can based on your skills and feedback. Either hire an editor yourself if you self-publish or let your agent/publisher handle this for you. Ideally, editing is the absolute last stage as far as writing your manuscript before it gets made into a pretty little book or ebook. 

The reason why I haven’t hired an editor is because I had great CPs and beta readers to develop my story. I also hope to traditionally publish my book, so I’m not going to pay for something when a possible agent will organise it and foot the bill for me. If I get rejected, then I’ll pay an editor to do a final polish of my MS before it’s publishable.

Money doesn’t grow on trees, so don’t spend it until you actually need that professional editing service. But you WILL need it to give your book a more professional look.

Image by Lorenzo Cafaro from Pixabay

Unravelling Writing Advice – How Often To Write!

Introducing my new series Unravelling Writing Advice where I explain how the advice works and adapts for every writer.

Most of the advice I’ve seen talks about weekly goals and daily writing schedules. It helps keep you organised and motivated. Without regular goals, your writing time can get lost in the haze that is the rest if your life. Many writers do it as a second job or as a very serious pastime. Either way, writing is our passion, our drive, our outlet.

I’m lucky in that I don’t work particularly long hours, so I write most days around the same time. That’s because my creativity is at its best during my morning coffee or in the evening after dinner. I live alone, apart from my very adorable cats, and I have little else to do before and after my day job.

Not everyone has this luxury. Whether it’s finding the time or the brain power, you should be realistic about your writing goals. Make them, by all means, but bear in mind that missing goals can feel discouraging. Ask yourself when is the best time to write and how often. There’s no point in planning daily writing sprints or X amount of words if you can’t reach them. 

It didn’t take much trial and error to find the best schedule for me. But there are those difficult times when life gets in the way and the writer’s block hits. It’s okay to pause the goals and let yourself deal with life so you can come back with a fresh mind. It’s also good to take regular breaks from daily writing.

Writing is my passion, one I spend just about every day on. That doesn’t mean I type away in my document for all that time. There are also various things that are part of writing without actually writing. Outlining, brainstorming, research, chatting with other writers. These all add to your writing experience as well as help build a great story.

Make a writing schedule that suits you, adapt when it doesn’t work, but don’t let lapsed goals get you down.

Image by Devanath from Pixabay 

Epilogues Are NOT the Same as a Final Chapter!

I recently did a post on prologues, and a writing friend (check her out here) asked about epilogues. So here are my thoughts…

Epilogues are no different than prologues, just at the end. They need to serve a purpose outside the main story otherwise they might as well be the final chapter. Like my prologues, I don’t write epilogues for the sake of it.

I recently read a super long epilogue that should have been the final chapter. It followed directly on from the previous scene with all the usual characters. So why did the author feel like it needed to be an epilogue? To be fair, there was something new for the MC, but it didn’t mean anything new for the story since the reader already knew of its general existence. 

One of the best reasons for an epilogue is when we see the MC months or years after the main story. They’re settled in a new life, good or bad, and maybe have some thoughts on how they feel about what happened to them. This works best with a few pages, a sneak peek rather than a lengthy chapter.

Flipping to a random POV is also a good one if it’s done well. It gives the reader a new perspective on the MC and what they’ve been through. They might even know a little secret to entertain readers, something the MC couldn’t figure out in the main story. 

I like teaser epilogues in sagas and series. Books in a series still need to be independent stories but leave enough open so the reader wants more. Whatever you tease the reader with, make sure you drop it into early chapters of the next book. 

If the final chapter ends abruptly but isn’t a cliffhanger (I hate cliffhangers), an epilogue might work to show the characters a few days later. This needs to be short and sweet so it doesn’t look more like a final chapter.

Your final chapter should tie up your story in a neat little bow. Your epilogue should either tie it tighter in a standalone or loosen it in a series. 

If you want to rant about writing with others, contact me about my writing group on Discord @LoveFantasy#0367.

Image by S. Hermann & F. Richter from Pixabay 

Writing Outside your Wheelhouse!

Do it. Seriously, put yourself in someone else’s shoes and see how deeply you can dig. It doesn’t have to be a whole novel. It could be a short story or an occasional POV in a bigger story. 

This is NOT about sensitivity or political correctness. This is about tolerance and understanding beyond what we’ve experienced. One of my own CPs mentioned they were worried about how it would look writing a character of colour and dealing with racism in the book. I get it. It’s a sensitive issue. But it’s all a very real issue that needs representing in fiction just like LGBTQ+, mental illness, disabilities… the list goes on. 

Even in fantasy or sci-fi, there are aliens and magical beings that represent the diversity in life and the prejudices that go along with them. It’s probably easier with fantastical characters because the writer gets to create whatever prejudice they want against that character. But let’s face it, we all know it comes from very real issues.

As a once-aspiring actress, I had to put myself in many characters’ shoes. Their troubles and obstacles boiled down to one thing. How do I overcome them? Each character has their own answer, but if you look hard enough, there is some semblance of reliability.

I do NOT mean to say everyone can fully understand every hardship others go through for whatever reason. 

My point is… why should we be punished for trying? Why is it such a taboo to imagine our skin is another colour, or we have a disability, or our minds are more complex than most? Why are we not allowed to write from a perspective far beyond our own when we’re only trying to bridge the gap?

There is such a thing as a “sensitivity reader” who will offer deeper insight and their reliability to the POV character. These sensitivity readers are there to help writers get their story across while being authentic and mindful that it’s outside our experience.

Write what you know, right? But there’s nothing to say that someone can’t share what they know to help you write what you don’t know. And then you’ll know.  

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Good Things Come to Those Who Wait!

In writing, waiting can be good or bad depending on what point you’re at.

If you’re waiting for that perfect idea to strike or for the “right” time to start writing that novel you keep talking about, then ask yourself if writing is really your thing. Sure, story ideas don’t magically come to everyone, but as someone who has literally given away ideas because I have too many, I can’t imagine a writer without at least half a dozen story ideas ready to outline and start writing the moment they’re finished with their current WIP. Or even ideas they could come up with given the time.

Let me show you how my imagination works with some quick and rough novel ideas.

  • A career-driven woman in her mid-thirties is on her way to the top of the company when it suddenly closes down. In an unpredictable job market, she’s forced to take an entry level office position where her boss is ten years younger than her. Proving herself is hard when she knows she’s better than the role she’s now stuck in. But once she gets over herself, she finds her junior colleagues help open up a side of her she never got the chance to unleash at their age.
  • A sea captain hunts for a treasure only an entitled few know of. When he reaches the treasure, she is not what he expected. An ancient curse traps an immortal siren in a cavern that’s drying up and constantly suffocating her. Having discovered a much greater treasure than he imagined, the sea captain fights across oceans for the siren’s freedom and the love they both share for one another.
  • A future where wormholes are the norm, and travel to distant worlds is but a blink away. A traveller seeks to learn just how far she can reach and steals a wormhole device to find out. At the edge of the known universe, she discovers the price of the wormhole technology. A desiccated planet holds truths that would curdle most stomachs. But the traveller does not stop until she proves to everyone how they are so blissfully able to bend space and leap from one world to another.
  • Death is only a mild inconvenience when a ghost hunter is sent into limbo. While he uses every trick he knows to keep in contact with his girlfriend, she finds a spell and makes a demonic deal to bring him back to life. But he’s not the only one she brings back. Now, the ghost hunters must battle an ancient demonic power while doing everything they can to send it back to limbo.
  • On her way home from a wild night out, she witnesses a gruesome murder. She stays quiet, thinking nobody will believe her considering her intoxicated state. But when she comes home from work to find her apartment ransacked, her only option is to go to the police. As she thought, they think it’s a coincidence until one of the detectives checks in on her and witnesses an attempted attack on her. Still unable to prove the connection, the detective offers her protection in exchange for her full story, no matter how drunk she was the night of the murder. She soon discovers his motives go beyond finding a killer and ends up in a decade-old feud between the detective and the person he thinks is responsible for his sister’s murder. Is she safer with the detective, or should she run and pretend nothing happened?

That took me ten minutes. Yes, they might be done already, or full of cliches, but… ten minutes. Imagine what I could do in an hour or longer to come up with a novel synopsis that I could later turn into a detailed outline. 

Sometimes, I get an idea and spend five minutes jotting down my initial thoughts. The next time I have a spare five minutes, I jot down more, and more, and more, until it resembles a story. Some stay that way for future projects, but some get more attention as I work on a rough outline, character sheets, world-building. And soon enough, I have enough to start my first chapter. This may change completely once I’m done with the outline, but at least I got some of the story down.

I had a wild dream the other week, and started plotting a novel based on it. Within a few days, I’d built a decent synopsis, started outlining the story, created several character sheets with images, character goals, backgrounds and story input. I’d also come up with the backstory for the main group of characters, which involved various physical characteristics and ability based on their heritage.

Stories start with your imagination. The planning is just putting your imaginative thoughts in order.

But it is okay to wait sometimes. 

You’ve drafted act one. Good job. But you’re still not sold on your own ideas. This is a perfectly good time to wait and let the ideas settle. Don’t wait too long in case you risk losing the story from your head. This length of time is subjective, though. If you write daily, like I mostly do, letting your ideas settle for a few days might be enough. But taking a week or so might suit you better.

You have an outline and part of a draft. Don’t force it beyond that unless your fingers just keep spilling those lovely words. In which case, what are you waiting for?

Another good time to wait is during or just after your WIP is with beta readers. Depending on the format you’re sharing your beta version, you might not get anything back until each reader has read the entire thing. This is a forced break, which you should take advantage of. Let it go for a while. Make notes in a separate document by all means. Never ignore ideas. But don’t touch the story itself until all the feedback is in.

I had the luxury of sharing my beta version in bulks of chapters, so I got feedback on three or four chapters every week/two weeks. This was really helpful since I could read through the feedback for act one together, then two and three together. It all made sense as I took it in, but apart from a new chapter one, I didn’t change anything beyond minor wording to spare the next reader commenting on silly errors. 

I waited, and eventually, I got some amazing results. Yes, I can improve on them, and I will. But my patience paid off. Now I’m in one last revision with the help of some new and speedy crit partners, and I hope to query next month.

If you have even a semblance of a novel idea, don’t wait for anything to get something down and flesh out a chapter or two at least. Otherwise, you’re just a dreamer with no outlet.


A little poem from my random Bursts of Words collection.

I once had a collection of pearls in an iridescent shell. Each one contained a piece of my heart. Some I wore on a necklace when I needed them while others were safe away from the cruel world.

They shimmered in the sunlight and brought me strength when I doubted myself. With so many, I occasionally gifted one to the people I cared deeply for. Sometimes, they gifted one back.

One day, a man came into my life and shared his heart’s pearls with me, so I shared mine with him. A woman soon joined us, and our pearls glimmered as if from the same shell. They were beautiful together.

That was until I stumbled, and my pearls rolled away. My friends did not reach out to catch them. Instead, they stomped and crushed them to dust until my heart had no joy, no laughter, only emptiness. Once there were no more pearls, the pair left me to pick up the pieces.

I collected all the dust I could and placed it back in the shell. For weeks, months, I stared at that shell with my broken heart, occasionally peeking at the destruction inside. 

Each time I did, I cried until I was out of tears for the day. Begging my friends did nothing, only left more anger and pain within me.

Those who broke my pearls did not take responsibility but blamed me until I blamed myself. 

Eventually, I stopped looking in the shell, but the memory of the cracking pearls haunted my days and nights. I was adrift in this fog with no strength or solace. 

I ached with more pain than I could handle. It drained me, stole the last of my hope. Days, weeks, months passed as my heart remained pearlescent dust. I wandered aimlessly in a fog, going through the motions as one does when they have little to live for.

I cannot recall what made me look in the shell one day. A speck of hope or desperation. But when I looked, a pearl had reformed, and a piece of my heart along with it. 

Now, I open the shell to find more reformed pearls. 

They do not shine the way they once did, but the pieces of my heart come back one by one. 

Image by Myriams-Fotos at Pixabay.com