Aimee Horton

#WriteThinking Rebecca Pugh

Jan
25

Rebecca L 3This week I am so excited that the GORGEOUS Rebecca Pugh has written her top five writing tips for #WriteThinking. Not only is Rebecca a super talented writer (I mean, seriously, check her books out), but she is a total bookworm and can be found reviewing books left right and centre over at her blog – Becca’s Books.

 


 

Five Tips from Becca

    1. DO NOT – I repeat – DO NOT COMPARE your writing journey to anyone else’s. It was actually my partner who taught me this lovely little slice, and just when I needed it too. He said to me, “Becca, your journey is completely different to anyone else’s, and theirs to yours, too.” It’s hard not to compare sometimes. Perhaps it’s just me, perhaps it isn’t. But if you ever find yourself watching other authors/writers, marvelling at how they steam ahead or seem to whack out word counts at lightning speed, don’t think that should be what you’re doing too. Everyone is different, and you’ll see this proven through the way people plan, plot, set goals… You are your own writer, and as you progress, you’ll realise that you’ll begin to become confident in how you do things. It’s an exciting path to tread, but very rarely is it the same path as someone else. Focus on you.
    2. Be confident in what you do and how you do it. This is one that I’m definitely still trying to get to grips with, but I think I’m slowly getting there. Don’t shy away from what you’re about. If you write gripping thrillers, stand tall about it. If you write whimsical romance (like me), be proud! If you write space dramas set on Mars with aliens and aircrafts, good on you! It’s true that not everyone will enjoy your novel, but for those who will, make sure they know you’re there. Be proud, be sure, and be happy with it too. Don’t ever lose your love for what you write, that’s where the passion comes from.
    3. Fall in love with your characters. Get to know them inside out. Find out their likes and dislikes. Ask them questions and imagine how they’d answer in your mind. Then go even further – imagine their voice! If they took a trip to a theme park, which ride would they race to first? Why? Imagine them in all manner of scenarios and nail down those characteristics that you want to shine from them. These are just ideas of course, but once you and your characters are best friends, time spent with them will be an absolute treat! How do they smile? How do they laugh? What word would come shooting out of their mouth if they stubbed their toe on the bedside table? Not only is it completely beneficial for your story, but it’s fun too!
    4. Listen to music. This is an odd one, and I know not everyone will agree that this helps when writing, perhaps preferring silence, but whenever I’m at a particularly emotional or sexy scene, music is the best thing there is to help set the mood in your mind. I love doing this, closing my eyes for a few moments, imagining the different ways in which things could happen for my characters. I stick my headphones in and shut out the world, and step into my fictional one for a while instead.
    5. Remember, the reader doesn’t know what you know. I have moments of doubt, we all do, and this is one that I always love to remember. When I’m reading back through my work, and perhaps worrying that it’s not good enough, I have to remind myself that this is the 573573th time I’ve read it. For the reader, it’s the first. You know every twist, turn and surprise that’s about to come because you wrote it. The reader doesn’t. For them, they’re stepping into a completely new story with no idea where you’ll take them. This always boosts me up a bit, gets me excited about the fact that I’m in control of this story. I love that feeling!

 

Rebecca’s latest book – A Home In Sunset Bay, is out on 9th Feb 2016 and you can pre-order it by clicking here.

You can also follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

How do you deal with bad reviews?

Dec
15

What if everyone hates it?” is  one of the most frequently wondered questions that goes on in an authors brain when the book is written, and sent to beta readers/agents/publishers/editors, and then on the shelves. It’s often followed with lots of stomping about, deep breathing, self loathing and deep breaths – well, unless that’s just me?

Odds are on that not everyone is going to hate it, but somebody will. After all, you can’t please everyone, and with the shield of the internet we all know that people are a little bit forthright with their opinions. By forthright, I’d say they forget that the review their writing isn’t just to help people decide not to buy the book they dislike so angrily, and don’t realise that their words are just about to ensure that the authors kids have fish fingers and chips in front of Netflix while their mum weeps into the gin bottle and a family sized bag of bacon flavoured crisps. 

There are lots of types of negative reviews, honest and constructive (which while is a punch in the stomach is good for learning – YES IT IS YES IT IS YES IT IS), deliberately picky, disparaging and condescending are just a few. I won’t focus on the specifics of each, but there is one I feel we should get out of the way now. 

You see, any review that includes a phrase along the lines of “I hated this book, but then I don’t like any books in this genre” – should be dismissed completely. These are automatically not one star reviews of your work, but of the genre as a whole. Ignore it and dismiss the fact that it drags your star rating down a little bit.

But what do you do when it really does happen? When somebody gives you two stars, along with a less than complimentary commentary.

You could dwell on it of course, cry and get drunk. Before vowing to hunt down whoever would be so mean as to say something negative about something you’ve poured your heart and soul into.

But what’s that really going to achieve? Except giving yourself a headache, and a worse feeling of self-loathing and disappointment the next day. Not that I’ve done that.

You could reply – and I don’t mean hunt them out on twitter and corner them, that could be considered a little stalker-like. Amazon give you a chance to reply or comment on reviews, you could defend your work. Tell them that you have it wrong, that those two stars weren’t warranted; they must not have the concept. After all, THIS IS YOUR BREAD AND BUTTER MAN! DON’T YOU KNOW THAT?!!

That might make you feel better, but only briefly. Kind of like when you reply to an email in rage, the instant feeling of satisfaction soon dies down with your hot-headedness. Plus you know, people are entitled to their opinions aren’t they? Urgh.

Or you could close your eyes, count to ten, and read some of your good reviews. You could slip into the mindset, that you haven’t made it, until you’ve got a bad review, and every review counts, and for every bad review, the good ones are more credible. After all who wants 500 five star reviews? (ME I DO!)

Then you could forget about it, and not think about asking your mum to set up multiple amazon accounts so she can counter review anybody who dares say anything negative.

I haven’t done that – I love my mum but she is dangerous enough with one amazon account.

Writing Bubble

A day in the life of me writing a book.

Dec
01

 

RIGHT. COME ON AIMEE. LET’S DO THIS.

That’s what I tell myself every day when I sit down at my computer and open my latest manuscript – which by the way, I think makes me sound a mixture of grown up and wanky.

I may also keep chanting it to myself as I type it into a message to my friend, skim through social media, and check my reviews.

Shit, there’s a new one. If it’s a good one I can have a biscuit with my cup of tea, if it’s not…

 I’m not going to open it; instead I go to one of my other books – EEK I HAVE MORE THAN ONE YOU KNOW! I read a few reviews, the ones that fill me with motivational joy, that make me clap my hands and jump up and down. Then I go back to Dottie, who is sitting there waiting patiently for me to make her funny. Or that’s what I feel like sometimes. When I’m being a bit of a tool, I forget how to just write, and I stare at my screen worrying that Dottie isn’t funny anymore. Or more importantly, I’m not funny anymore.

I could spin a story, about Dottie staring at me, her wild curly hair and slightly frazzled blue eyes staring at me, waiting for me to tell her what to do next.

But that would sound even more wanky.

The truth is, I look at the screen, I read what I have written and it goes one of two ways. I will nod my head, turn on my music and set myself a target of 1k words then it’s time for a brew and a biscuit – and I was always going to have that biscuit.

Or, I read what I’ve written, groan, and go to my happy place, looking at Instagram. I might even go and photograph the cat, but the look of condemnation and pity on her face causes me to close my filters down and go back to my desk.

COME ON AIMEE. IT’S JUST ONE THOUSAND WORDS. THEN YOU CAN HAVE A TREAT.

 I aim for 2k words a day. That’s all I need to do. So TECHNICALLY I should achieve that in a school day, and still have time to do some ironing/ food shopping/clean the house. Or more realistically piss about on social media and ASOS while watching Netflix pretending that it’s research. Of course, you could argue that How To Get Away With Murder isn’t research for comedy books, but you know what, I’m sure it teaches me how to plot.

Back at my desk, or in my bedroom, or the lounge or the kitchen – wherever I’ve decided I am going to get the most work done that day, I attempt to focus.

THIS IS MY DREAM. I LOVE TO WRITE.

I nod. I press play on my playlist and I start to write.

I should just pop some washing in the machine.

 While I’m there I empty the dishwasher, and think about what I’ve just written. It’s rubbish, I know that, Dottie knows that. I go back, I delete it and start again.

I wonder what that review said.

It doesn’t matter. Keep writing.

I make it to about the five hundred mark, before I cave – WHAT? It’s half way through! I make Mr Aimee read it while I walk around the house pretending not to see the dried cheerios that have somehow made it upstairs – we haven’t had cheerios for weeks. After about FIFTY MILLION YEARS (because he’s selfishly been doing some work) my phone buzzes, I take a deep breath and read what he says.

It’s ok!

I read it; I spend a bit of time pissing about on social media before knocking out another 1,500 words.

I AM ON FIRE.

In fact, I’m doing so well I just keep going, only pausing to go for a wee. That’s when I hear a buzzing from the kitchen. It’s my emergency “don’t forget the kids” alarm which, erm, I obviously had again.

Luckily I set it to allow me the grace to pack swimming bags/get snacks/press snooze about five times. By the time I’m at the school gates my head is in a bit of a daze, not really thinking about real life, but what I was just writing. But it’s quickly forgotten by two loud voices demanding the snacks, which I left by the front door.

From the rest of the day, instead of switching the laptop or computer off like I always say I will, I grab snatched moments – while I’m cooking dinner, while they’re not eating their dinner, while they’re in the shower.

And it’s only when they’re in bed, that I realise the laundry never made it from the washing machine to the dryer, and there is no actual food – but luckily there’s gin – and I vow to be more organised tomorrow, even writing a list.

But we all know, if I’m going to focus fast, I’ll just have go to our local costa instead – where the teacakes are good, and the wifi is pants. In fact, I may dedicate my next book to them.