Text: 30 Days of Nano – Your word count is not a goal or a figure to be envious of others. It’s not even a marker of how “well” nano is going for you. Nano is a chance to write your heart out into a story. The words matter, not the word count. Forget how many words you have to do in total, think about the next words, what they will say, how will they convey the scene you want to express.
Think on the words, not how many of them you have. EJDawson.com

When you hear the terms of Nano it’s becomes a math game;


30 days in November

1666 words per day

Easy, right? Here is a small achievable goal you can manage every day. It sounds very reasonable, until you have a few days in a row where commitments don’t let you get to your computer, you can’t find the writing time and so when it comes to trying to play catch up you can feel hopelessly overwhelmed!


You don’t *have* to write every day. You have to pick a way that works for you. You can do it in chunks.

I said I’d give you 30 tips for November but today I’m doing a bunch of them. There’s two up there, we’re on the six day of November here – I am going to do future Ejay a favour and build up a couple more for the next few days.

If you need convincing to sit and write when you have the time and don’t want to, I can’t stress enough how having an honest conversation with yourself (no, not one of those creepy, in the mirror, serial killer monologue vibes- look, fine, if that’s what works for you), can hep convince yourself to do it now. Do it because you know you’re going to have more days like that and you don’t want to feel like this later in the month. If at all again. It’s a horrible guilt trip.

So how to get past it.

You’ve got the time and energy so here is a blog post I wrote a few ways back that can be summed up as thus;

  1. Writing Sprints; time yourself and do nothing but write in that time slot
  2. Name Generators; use these beauties to find a name you can change later
  3. Description; put an X or [ description ] and move on!
  4. Don’t edit; I mean it. You’ll have time for that later
  5. Write; yeah, a cop out, but you do just have to sit and write

And you might be stroking your chin in cunning supposition and think; which tip are we up to? Did she just cheat and slide in 5 more tips?

*gasps* Did I?

Yeah you bet your writers butt I did.

When I first started doing Nano it infuriated me when people cheated. They started early, they used chunks of already existing scripts, they were using it to finish a novel they started months ago! And it was all, when you got right down to it, perfectly reasonable.

Nano is about challenging yourself. About writing as much as you can. Getting into good writing habits, and finishing that story. It doesn’t matter the path, only that you do walk it.

While we’re getting all philosophical, and not worry about how many words we’ve written, just like we aren’t worry about how many tips I’m up to. Because all that really matters is getting the words down.

So now you are thusly armed, go write, and wreck havoc on those novels!

30 Days of Nano

Text: 30 Days of Nano; 30 Tips on How to Finish Your Story

Nano is here and if you don’t know what it is, its basically a competition against yourself to write fifty thousand words on a new book.

Many people use this as a chance to just finish a novel, get one started, developing great writing habits, and you can do all of those things. This year I’m not competing but I am writing for the whole months of November and I’m sharing 30 tips on writing in mini blog posts.

Today’s post is about name generators. Name generators are great for finding placeholders for names when you come stuck. A lot of writers haven’t done much planning and getting stuck looking for a name can suck up valuable writing time. I have a list of all my favourite generators here, but if you have others you like, feel free to post in the comments!

The best thing about them is you can quickly look up an appropriate prop name, which will make find and replace so much easier later, when you’ve got more time to think about something a little more in suiting with your script.

Good luck with it, and remember this isn’t about a final goal, is all about developing good writing habits!

Behind the Veil is RELEASED!

Behind the Veil; Creepy, dark, sinister and I loved it.” Netgalley Reviewer

Today is publication day and Behind the Veil is live and available!

This has been a long journey three years in the making.

From a random idea inspired by dark gifts and Penny Dreadful – to a book on the shelf.

I couldn’t have done this without the help of so many, most importantly is Sharon from Literary Wanderlust. My wonderful editor has poured over these pages with me to make this story everything I wanted it to be and couldn’t have done it without her.

To Hart, the lady who in her very quiet voice that rings with thunder that this was not a short story. Her gentle encouragement and flat out no nonsense has guided me many a time.

And to my mother, who read aloud to us from infants to teenagers, who’s voice I still hear whenever I read Lord of the Rings, and who never denied us a single book.

You can find Behind the Veil on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Book Depository, and through Literary Wanderlust.

Come join us – in an hour I’ll be meeting with Veronica Patton for a talk and a few secrets too!

Can she keep the secrets of her past to rescue a girl tormented by a ghost?

In 1920s Los Angeles, Letitia Hawking reads the veil between life and death. A scrying bowl allows her to experience the final moments of the deceased. She brings closure to grief-stricken war widows and mourning families.
For Letitia, it is a penance. She knows no such peace.

For Alasdair Driscoll, it may be the only way to save his niece, Finola, from her growing night terrors. But when Letitia sees a shadowy figure attached to the household, it rouses old fears of her unspeakable past in England.

When a man comes to her about his missing daughter, the third girl to go missing in as many months, Letitia can’t help him when she can’t see who’s taken them.

As a darkness haunts Letitia’s vision, she may not be given a choice in helping the determined Mr Driscoll, or stop herself falling in love with him. But to do so risks a part of herself she locked away, and to release it may cost Letitia her sanity and her heart.

Virtual Book Launch!

Text: E.J.Dawson Book Launch! October 1st 7pm (EDT NY USA GMT-4), October 2nd 9am (AEST, VIC, AUS (GMT+10), with book cover for Behind the Veil and author photograph.


Kindly hosted by the lovely V. E. Patton, I’m inviting you to an online event to come meet me, talk about Behind the Veil, but also get this exceptional swag pack for one lucky winner! Click here to sign up for an invitation.

Minus the champagne – it will still be a bit early for that in Australia – but a chance for both those of you who’ve been on this crazy journey since the start, and for those of you I am meeting for the first time to come hear about how this book came to be.

We may be lucky and have my darling editor there too to share some insights about the book and how it came to be in the hands of Literary Wanderlust. I look forward to seeing you and celebrating the launch of my Behind the Veil!

Behind the Veil – Kirkus Review

Text; “An old fashioned ghost story told with inventiveness and style.” Kirkus Reviews. Behind the Veil, out October 1 2021, ejdawson.dom, background image a hand and vague shape of a face.

“A tormented medium takes on a difficult case in this supernatural novel.

In 1920s Los Angeles, the spiritualist movement is in full swing. Parents and widows of soldiers who died in World War I are still looking for closure, and medium Letitia Hawking is there to deliver it. Letitia uses her “scrying bowl” to view the deathbed moments of the deceased, offering accounts of their final thoughts to the bereaved and bringing them the peace she cannot find for herself. She wears a black veil during her readings to increase the sense of mystery—and to hide her identity from anyone who might recognize her from her past in London. When she’s approached by the wealthy lawyer Alasdair Driscoll about a case involving his still living young niece, Finola, the medium initially declines. Driscoll wants Letitia to sign a confidentiality agreement before they begin, and she can sense a shadow looming behind him. “She didn’t need the Driscolls’ ghosts,” she thinks. “She had enough of her own.” Then Letitia learns just what’s wrong with Finola: The girl is haunted by phantoms, and if she isn’t helped, she will end up in an asylum. Letitia takes pity on the girl—whose condition has much in common with the medium’s own—and begins to have feelings for Driscoll as well. But can Letitia help the living without someone ending up dead? Dawson’s prose is measured and suspenseful as she slowly unspools the tale: “Finola’s breathing was labored, her eyes twitching beneath her lids and forehead clammy, with threads of auburn hair sticking to her skin….There was no darkness attached to the girl, though the room’s low light gave too many shadows for Letitia’s liking. Ever wary of self-protection, she took hesitant footsteps closer.” The author is adept at selling not only the novel’s supernatural elements, but the historical era as well. She takes her time building the characters and the world around them, which pays dividends once the really spooky stuff starts to happen. Like all good ghost stories, the true horrors aren’t entirely spectral: The characters are haunted by personal traumas and secrets as frightening as any spirit. An old-fashioned ghost story told with inventiveness and style.” – Kirkus Reviews

I spent months dreading this review, and couldn’t be more delighted how wrong my fears were. Of waiting with nail biting terror for what Kirkus would say about my book. On a day to day basis we shouldn’t care what other people think about us, but this was so different. I wanted my book to be well received. On a deep level I knew I’d written a good story – but I can’t change someone else’s opinion. I was so stunned by their review I asked several professionals if I was reading it correctly and then promptly burst into the happiest of tears.

This Kirkus review is why I’m glad I’m a writer. But so are all the other reviews I’ve been receiving on Goodreads and Netgalley, and I’m thrilled to be able to share them with you;

“This has me hooked from the first page! It literally jumps in with a haunting tale.” – Goodreads Reviewer, 5 stars

“I had a ton of fun reading this. The writing was atmospheric and gothic and I really loved our main character. The cover caught my eye scrolling through Netgalley, and after reading the synopsis thought to give it a try and I’m SO GLAD I did.” – Netgalley Reviewer, 4 stars

“I ADORED this. My favourite books are typically fantasy or sci-fi, but I was thrilled with Behind the Veil for everything it is. As a work of historical fiction it was insightful, the setting felt real and immersive, but it was Mr Driscoll and Ms Hawking’s growing affections that kept me glued to the pages.” – Goodreads Reviewer, 5 stars

“If you do like supernatural horror and hadn’t seen a well done spirit/medium horror novel in a while, this one is for you!” – Netgalley Reviewer, 5 stars

“Suspense, mystery, thrills, horror, supernatural. The writing is wonderfully gothic and atmospheric, drawing the reader in instantly. It’s a beautiful tale of darkness and exactly what I wanted for this time of year. 4.5 chilling stars!” – Netgalley Reviewer, 4 stars

This story…..wow. I really enjoyed the story. Such intricacy with the characters, the descriptions of, not only the settings but what was happening “behind the veil.” Letitia herself is a complex person with flaws and insecurities, about her past and her abilities. Alasdair starts out a rude and seemingly demanding man, yet over the chapters turns out to be more than that.” – Goodreads Reviewer, 5 stars

“The story… take(s) the reader on a terrifying journey to the other side to catch a villainous murderer while our physic’s life is always in great jeopardy. This was a really good book. It was much more involved then I thought it would be and kept me reading until the late hours. Strongly recommend to anyone who is interested in Spiritualism, psychic mediums or just likes a really good ghost story. 5 stars!” – Goodreads Reviewer, 5 stars

“As a horror story, the book does very well and balances atmosphere with action, and is suitable for newbie horror readers. The author didn’t opt for explicit gore even though she could have done it. I appreciate this move and it made the book a better read.” – Netgalley Reviewer, 4 stars.

There are many more I could add but mostly I want to say thank you. I was not expecting so many people stating this was the kind of horror story they were longing for, that they loved the characters, and they got what they wanted out of the story. That it gave them everything I wanted to give to the readers.

If you’d like to get your hands on it, we still have a few weeks to the launch but you can find your preferred reviewing service or bookshop through my website, so please pre-order a copy today!

Journeying Pains

Blog title Journeying Pains, with blog post quote; The story will never be perfect. And that’s OK, it’s why you need editors, betas, readers, reviews, and experience. But most of all to keep writing, and keep trying. There are vines on the edges.

Journeying Pain

Most writes say that their writing life is a journey and that it’s different for every writer. Ups and downs, versions of success, what they’re writing and how its published. So many different paths to take. But we have one thing in common: the doubt. The “what if” thoughts that are never or rarely optimistic, and if they are, many contain an overwhelming chunk of inevitable disappointment.

I remember the first time I decided I was going to be serious about an author.

I needed to write a book. To have a plan.

Cue the inevitable – what if I can’t finish? What if I’m not able to write a cohesive book?

A great weight fell on me, and few things could negate it. How could I sit and write a book I planned to sell, how good of a story did it need to be? I tried, kept writing, and knew I’d needed guidance. I had something complete. It was a full story. I was kind of happy with it.

Then I realized with dread the next biggest hurdle was finding someone to edit it.

But I was paying them, so surely that was OK, right? They’d help.

I found an editor, who, with mostly carrot and some stick, guided me edits on my first novella. The editing process was a learning phase I wasn’t ready for. Nice and caring as my editor was, they were very clear on the work I still needed to do.

It hollowed me out. There was so much work. I didn’t know at times whether it was worth it, but I’d paid for it, I had to finish it. I couldn’t quit when I’d just started. And then I finished it, it was done, I could finally… give… it… to people. To read. Other people. People I didn’t know. Who didn’t know me.

I don’t even remember hitting the publish button on Amazon the first time. I just remember having it all set up, the absolute terror I’d stuffed something up, and hoping a good friend would get it and check it for me, because I couldn’t see the mistakes, I was making any more.

So, I released it, hoped for the best, but prepared for the worst, and waited for reviews that came back and said… this is good.


I wrote another novella with high hopes and sent that off to my editor. I had some teething issues but managed to get it done. I knew how to do this, how to write, how to get there. But every time I wrote a book there was something I hadn’t done. Some new problem with my writing to tackle, some flaws I needed to smooth out. Until I learned, over time, a very hard lesson.

The story will never be perfect.

And that’s Ok, it’s why you need editors, betas, readers, reviews, and experience. But most of all to keep writing and keep trying. I came to accept that there would always be a flaw with my writing. Some of the hollowness went away.

Then I held a new kind of hollow. Because my world changed. I could no longer afford the necessary funds to self-publish, and I began querying. I’d have to let other people assess if my story was worth publishing.

In the past I’d never had to deal with that emotion. The less polite term is gatekeeping. The idea of someone else deciding if my words were worth the greater world’s attention. But at the time, the only other choice was to quit.

This was a step beyond what I was ready for. The self-assurance of past success wasn’t good enough. I needed to write better, to learn how to create well crafted stories. I read so many popular books trying to break down their components, understood what made stories tick, why this book and not that one, even sometimes when I loved it, and other times when I didn’t.

The hollowness within grew. Because I fed it.

I scanned reviews, I searched similar authors, I began planning what was next for me. What was there for me after self-publishing? A small press, and I signed on with the wonderful Literary Wanderlust in a random sequence of events that left me unequivocally delighted.

Yet the hollowness grew. I wanted to be part of something more, I wanted the next step. The stages in publishing were clearly laid out, self-pub, small press, agent, trad press.

Like publishing was some linear achievement and this was all like a game but with my spare time and whole heart.

My mind needed instructions, it accepts the rules of a situation because I need rules. I need the guidelines; I was asking myself now “What next?” instead of “what if” and all it did was making the hollowness grow. A great sucking vacuum some of you will call with cynical humor the “querying trenches.”

Where did that leave me? Ever trying to find out what mysterious story components were needed to create something greater than I could envisage. To find out what I was “missing.”

I had to come up with an original story idea, didn’t I? That’s what Neil Gaiman says.

I needed to make sure I stuck with traditional concepts twisted as something new, didn’t I? That’s what many tutorials said.

I needed to make sure my story followed a specific arc, didn’t I? That’s what Save the Cat said.

But it wasn’t just these people saying what was needed, it was EVERYONE who agreed with them.

It was all the people who in pitch events and mentorship programs asked for the books of our hearts, but still there were these invisible rules I couldn’t read, didn’t understand, wasn’t reaching.

The hollowness consumed everything.

What was I, if I couldn’t achieve these things? What would happen to me, if I could never make the next steps? If it was too far out of my reach…

I’d like to tell you this has a happy ending; it doesn’t. There are days I still feel like a wall blocks me from those next steps. That there is some next level, like publishing is a straight line and not a ball a of wool more tangled than my own perspective of this industry. That bitter kittens haven’t clawed the wool to complete shit, that the hypocrites and gatekeepers calling for what publishing “should” be, and no one knows what to do because there is something “wrong” with trad publishing. Yet everyone still treats self-pub like the author had no other options to spout their hopeless drivel and they should’ve kept it on an abandoned blog from the noughties.

There are days the darkness of doubt within is so vast I can’t breathe.


Because… I wouldn’t be me if I wasn’t a writer.

Because… I love writing stories; my happiest moments are when a plan comes together.

Because… I can’t imagine doing anything else with my time that would bring me such joy as starting a new story, finishing an old one, editing enough to make it polished so that one day, one dark, depressing day, I can open up my inbox and see a message from someone looking to buy a signed copy of my book. A book they’ve already read and loved, and they want a physical copy with my signature for their shelf.

Not a family member. Not a friend. Not someone from social media I was acquainted with.

A complete stranger.

You could say this is about validation, and you’d be right. There is no point lying about feeling validated in this industry. Or that whenever I get a five-star review, and I do, that each one chips away at the hollowness. But here’s the thing; I’m sending one of the copies of my book to that stranger via international post at my own expense. The five-star reviews coming in for Behind the Veil are all on platforms I’ve arranged to get ARC reviews from, and all I want is for people to enjoy the tales that I tell, and then my happiness is twofold; I write the stories I love, and people love them too.

Writing stories should always be about the story, never where it ends up, because some stories will never go further than your heart, and others will end up in the arms of a stranger who loves them just as much as you do.

Both stories are valid, loved, and why the hollowness will never ever stop me writing the next story.

If you’d like an advanced copy of my book, sign up to my newsletter, check out my Twitter and Facebook posts, I’m giving away copies in advance, if you’d like to find a story you might love.



If you want to be seen as a writer, you need to build an author platform, a brand if you like. Yes, you can most certainly do this before your book is published, or even written. What is an author platform? An author platform is simply a writer’s presence on the internet.

Movies have trailers for a reason. To generate interest and excitement around their upcoming release. Why should books be any different? Make yourself known in the writing community. Wave your freak flag if you need to, but whatever you do, jump up and down waving your arms and say, ‘Hey, here I am.’ They say most writers are introverts, but this is no time to be shy.

Just because you are not yet published, doesn’t mean you are not an author. I hate hearing people refer to themselves as aspiring authors. If you write, you are an author. You don’t hear people say, ‘I’m only an aspiring fire fighter, as I am yet to save someone from a burning building.’

The writing community is very active on all platforms of social media. Are you already on Facebook? Create an author page linked to your account. Remember to only post writing related things on your author page, as you are building your brand after all. Keep it separate from your personal profile.

If using Twitter, use trending hashtags. Some of the most commonly used include, #Writing #AmWriting, and #WritingCommunity. Using hashtags will help other writers find you, so you can build a following, and start to engage with others.

I must admit, I struggle using Instagram as an author, but I am still active on the platform. Every social media outlet is an opportunity to be seen. I post things such as my book covers, covers of books I’ve read, and photos of me working on my current work in progress.

Try to ensure you are active on all platforms, post regularly, and most importantly, engage with others. Nobody likes someone who only posts to promote themselves. The writing community as a whole, is an engaging and supportive one, so come and join the party. I’ll bring the wine.

Think about an author website. You can have a free website, or pay for one with your own domain. Having your own domain helps with being taken seriously as an author, but a free website is still a good option if funds are tight. It’s a bit like ice-cream. Vanilla is good, but vanilla choc-chip is that little bit better.

My author site has a blog that contains excerpts from my upcoming books, book reviews, interviews, and insights into my writing journey. A website is also a great place to promote your books once published. The great thing about a website is, you can make it your own. Let your personality shine through.

Ensure your website has a sign up or subscribe button. This will help you gather a list of readers email addresses, with their permission of course, so you can send out email campaigns, and have people notified if you post on your blog.

Whether it’s on your website or on social media, let people know what genre you write, to help you connect with other authors of that genre. Your potential readers are their readers. Maybe write a guest post and invite others to do the same on your site. Try not to contact someone unless you have had meaningful engagement with them in some capacity first. Don’t be the creepy stalker who sidles up to a bedroom window uninvited.

Remember earlier, I said this is no time to be shy? Here’s why. Podcasts, radio interviews and YouTube are also great ways to get your name and brand out there.

Well, that covers the basics of building your author platform. So, what are you waiting for!

Hayley is an Australian author of light hearted fiction. Hayley was born and bred in Sydney, and lives in Far western Sydney with her partner and two young stepsons. She love animals (don’t all writers), is a coffee addict, and has a wicked sense of humour. Hayley’s sense of humour is brought to life in her story telling. She loves to make people laugh, by writing fun stories they can relate to. You can find her on Twitter and Facebook.

The Other Side

Cartoon of people with books, an increasing pile of books, and a rainbow over a book, with the title “The Other Side.”

I’ve spent some time querying, so when I started with Literary Wanderlust as an intern I was not prepared for how subjective the experience was going to be on the other side. I vividly remember the first few queries addressed to me with an absolute thrill that someone wanted me to look after their work. I read through them carefully, and there were brilliant stories there.

But some of them weren’t for me. And I loathe that expression.

“It’s just not for me.”

I love all stories.

There are very few books I just DNF (do not finish), and its because stories are an amazing journey. Fantasy, scifi, paranormal and horror are my home ground. I love these magical worlds that stretch the imagination to their limit.

They are no less or greater than the stories of home. Contemporary tales of the heart. Literary pieces about the human condition. They teach you about other people, how they feel, and what they experience.

As someone on the autism spectrum I’m always enraptured at these tales. I get to learn about other people and how they think, and the author does it such a way I can understand. My bookshelf is wide and varied and my writing is too because of it.

But that’s who I am as a reader.

So no, you won’t find many stories that aren’t for me as a reader. I will generally only stop if the writing needs a lot of work and there are a lot of inconsistencies. It’s why I review books honestly because being honest about that part of a writer’s work is sometimes the only way they get feedback.

Feedback is valuable to a writer, it builds their toolbox of skills when the time comes to write more. The way to learn to be a better writer is from this feedback, and it comes in many varied forms that requires more and more work.

With work like beta reading, you spend the time reading as a reader, but intuitively aware you’re there to ensure it is smooth. To not change much at all, maybe point out the odd typo, or that a character has something they didn’t have a scene ago. All of it just smoothing edges.

Before this, the script would have been with a CP, (critique partner), who will go over it much more thoroughly. Point out telling scenes and info dumping, make sure the story arc is natural and characters develop along with the plot.

A developmental editor may ask for much more beyond these things; moving whole scenes, redirecting story arcs, rewriting endings and overhauling characteristics. Getting beyond the text of the story to the nature of what is truly being written about. What you envisaged rather than what twenty six letters containing your imagination.

All of which is work. A lot of work.

I have spent months editing other people’s work. It’s taken six months of editing almost nonstop to get a book of my own up to scratch and I’m still tweaking it. And this is something I do outside of my day job. It takes time away from what I love most; writing.

I am always grateful to people who want to work on my stories because their love of what I’m doing isn’t just confined to wanting to work with me, its also about loving the story enough to commit to that level of work. Sometimes that’s what it takes to say yes; to be prepared for that level of commitment to a story that isn’t your own.

I think for some writers it takes a long time to write the story, but for me, the editing process is twice, three, four times as long. Perhaps the fault lies within me as I write quickly and need to edit a lot more later. Maybe you’ve experienced it the other way around depending on how meticulous you’ve been.

But stories that you want to go on to be published still require that work. There are still things that need doing from plot restructure to copy edits and punctuation. There is so much more detail that goes into polishing a book for publication than you’d ever know unless you’ve done it. More than once.

Which is why I can now appreciate what agents and editors experience with hundreds of queries coming in; they have to pick the stories that resonate with them. When you walk into a bookstore you don’t buy the entire stock, you buy the book you couldn’t put down, that reminded you why you read. It doesn’t mean you hated all the other books; they just weren’t the ones for the you right now. Or maybe never will be.

You can’t dictate what they do and do not accept anymore than you can force someone to fall in love.

Maybe that means not every book finds “the one.” Maybe that means some novels get trunked (saved in a filed to be forgotten). Maybe it means the heart wrenching process of letting go of your dream story. Maybe it means going back to the drawing board and starting again. That hurts.

But I never see these works as wasted. I see them as not right now. I see them as a possibility I’ve saved for later, because every novel you finish is the one you as a writer were ready and meant to finish. Every book has its place, and sometimes its not about where the book ends up, but who you are when you finish it.

Love that book, keep loving it, and write on.

One day I had to set aside my heart project. The one that made me become a writer. I was sad but I was finally free to do something wild. Daring. Like I hadn’t ever let myself do before. From the dusty book tomes of my mother’s romantic suspense, and my own obsession with the darkness within death, Behind the Veil came to me as a single scene. It splurged out of me as though it was always there, lurking in the shadows, waiting for its chance.

When I handed it over to my good friend Hart, in a moment of doubt, I wondered if I even had something. Something worth writing about and maybe for more than myself.

Encouraged by her words, it was as though the story had permission to be written, that it needed to come out and did so in a matter of twenty five days. When I was done, I had no idea what to do with it, until friends who’d read it said I should pitch it. And a publisher liked that tweet. A few flurried months later Sharon at Literary Wanderlust wanted it, and I wanted to give it to her.

After several grueling years of covid and other disasters, I’m so pleased to announce that it is now here and available for preorder!

You can find it on Amazon and if you need it now it’s available on Netgalley for review. Not enough? Hang out and sign up to my news letter for secret info on how you can win eARCs and in the coming months paper copies and special surprises!

I hope you fall in love with this dark and gothic world, of grief and sacrifice, those left behind, and those who aren’t meant to walk this earth. Of gentle manners and hard hearts. Of the brashness of bravado and the quietness of courage. I hope you love Letitia and Alasdair as much as I do.

Social Media Monster

Social media is not a monster. No, listen, keep reading, hear me out. I know you’re an introverted writer. I know that we’ll use any excuse to stay indoors (ok, but I’m in Melbourne and lockdown 4 does suck but so does covid so be safe). But if you are going to be a writer, readers need a way to find you, and that’s why your author brand is so important.

When agents and publishers ask for this information, what they’re looking for is whether you are active and want to engage with readers. Think about some of your favourite authors and what they do. Go looking for them. Some of them may do very little social media (maybe none at all), or they may be rather prolific.

But most of them are one thing: Using platforms they are comfortable with, posting content they are comfortable with, at times that work for them. Social media shouldn’t be a chore, but if you don’t like it, it can feel that way. However, there are a lot of ways out there to reach readers, and lots of programs to help you put out a social media presence. Hootsuite allows you to post at chosen times of peak engagement. Canva allows you to create engaging images without having to take selfies, or even book promo material.

Find where your readers are, and look to other authors and how they are engaging their reader base. Here is a list of the most common, but by no means only social media platforms, with a short snippet on my experiences with them.


Content: Words, pictures, and videos.

Timing Guide: Once a week – Once a day

This social media platform has the bonus of creating different kinds of accounts depending on your level of comfort with social media. You can just use a personal page but with family and friends there may be people you want to connect with that aren’t about your writer’s life and so it becomes secondary to the purpose of using that social media. You can create a Facebook page, or even a group for your author profile. A page allows you to post what you want, and people can interact with it. A group tends to be more involved because you’ll need to grant members permission to post things that may not always be about you as an author and does require more interaction.


Content: Blog like posts with images and videos

Timing Guide: Once a month to once a week

BONUS: Patreon requires that followers pay a fee of your choosing to follow you

This requires possibly the most amount of attention. The followers of Patreon are expecting regular exclusive content and building a loyal dedicated fan base is about your dedication to those willing to pay a small amount of money for the content you provide. Many authors with excellent reputations use this to subsidize their author income. I follow Gareth Powell, who posts about his work and paintings, but also interactive posts about writing tips, and asking if he can help writers. It requires regular posting monthly if not more often, but it does allow exclusive content to loyal fans.


Content: Pictures and videos, word limit of 280 characters

Timing: Once every day or so – multiple times a day

I’ll be completely biased; this is my home ground. As someone who is ND, I initially found twitter overwhelming. There are SO many conversations, topics, hashtags, trends. But do you know what else there is? A very big and vibrant writing community. From indie to trad, self-pub to vanity, writers of all kinds abound. I found the best way to handle it was follow and learn from authors I admire, find other authors at my level. Follow editors and agents for great tips and connect with people. I have agents who’ve rejected me that now follow me back. I owe my contract to Literary Wanderlust because during a pitch event Sharon Salonen liked my tweet (an invitation to submit to the publishing company where she is an editor). If you don’t know what these things are, or you find them confusing, just ask. Twitter is incredibly friendly to newcomers and there are many who are happy to help explain. To be considered reasonably active, you’d post here twice a day or so at peak times, or once every second day at least, but I find engaging with tweets the best way to network.


Content: Videos

Timing: Once a week – multiple times a day

A platform that allows you to put a short video up. Which to the technologically challenged can be very intimidating (me; it intimidates me). But it does allow for a lot of clear vocal communication about topics that matter to writers. Book launches, snippets, new book box openings. The uses are limitless. I’ve seen people do mock videos of writer situations with their spouse, re-enactments of their books. The only limit is your imagination. And no; you do not have to be a “pretty” person to use this social media. As long as what you are saying is contextually specific to your author brand, that’s all that matters. So – I guess I’ll be shortly posting writer tips with the dog chewing my hair because that’s the only way I can film myself.


Content: Videos & animated pictures

Timing: daily – multiple times a day (snapchat deletes images after 24 hours)

I am going to go out on a limb here and say that I do not know a lot about this social media platform except that it appears many of its users have moved on to Tiktok or stayed on Instagram. This platform has its dedicated presence and like any platform its about connecting to your fan base/readership group. The downside here is that the images disappear after 24 hours so you do need to be posting and often.


Content: Videos

Timing: Once a week – Once a month

YouTube is where I go for music and to find “how to” videos and explain stuff that Wikipedia isn’t articulating correctly for me. But its also an excellent source of writer’s articles and you can contribute! There are a lot of great writing channels, booktubers who do reviews and a host of informative information about tropes, cliches, and… criticism. Like any social media platform, YouTube has its fair share of those who will happily criticize writing, and like all social media platforms, it’s a good idea to do some research as to what you watch for advice, and how experienced that person is in their field.


Content: Pictures and videos

Timing: Once a week – daily

There are many who are moving from other platforms (Twitter), to Instagram for more engagement with a younger reader base, but there is a lot of scrutiny on physical appearance which is what intimidates me, but here is the thing; you don’t have to post selfies. There are many users who post pictures of food, books, coffee and tea, and other things. We’re writers, not models, and we shouldn’t be intimidated by physical appearances because in the end that’s not what we do; we’re writers. Post who you are, become familiar with your brand, and notice all the other writers doing the same. One great advantage of Instagram is the ability to post the same text and the link to the Instagram picture onto your Facebook and Twitter account.


Content: pictures, videos, posts, blogs

Timing: Once every few days – once every few months

This I have to stress is the MOST important thing you can do. Even if its just a static page, something you host on a free website with a premade template. Why? Lemme tell you about the time I first started investigating social media and all you found when you looked up E J Dawson was a basketballer. I didn’t even make the first page. Now I’m the first thing that turns up (or maybe that’s googles algorithms). Either way there is a lot that turns up for both of us now, and I’m hoping the sports guy keeps going because he looks dedicated as hell, just like I plan to be. But make it easy for a reader to find you. To find your other work. Because if they love it enough to look you up they want more, and they can use your website to sign up to newsletters and find out more about the writing you love and about you.

There are a host of other platforms; Tumbler, Reddit, LinkedIn, Pinterest, but the most important thing about any of them is two things; find out where your demographic is and be comfortable using that platform. You may be surprised where your readers actually spends their time, and the best thing you can do is be where it is, as long as you be yourself.  That’s what your author brand is, and that’s what you should focus on. Don’t be scared to look up other authors, check out what they are posting and how, find something that fits you. You want to be sincere on social media to further your engagement, and the best person to be is yourself.

Cover of Wendy, Darling, with illustrated figures of three people, two holding hands, flying upwards from a London cityscape

I’ve loved the story of Peter and Wendy since I was a little girl, and it took this story with its unique perspective to remember how much I truly hated the original.

How the boys went to war, and Wendy was relegated to tying false bandages on false wounds, making dinners made of nothing, and being a mother to boys who never want to grow up.

As though a girl can never really be a girl.

But Wendy is no ordinary girl now. She’s a woman. She went home after Neverland and was never the same – and it’s Peter’s fault.

From the heart thundering start when Wendy senses Peter’s return, to the awful moment he mistake’s Wendy’s daughter Jane for Wendy herself, this book’s genteel horror caught me in a net. Ensnaring, playful, threaded with half truths and lies, it’s a cleverly woven telling of what came after when Wendy grew up.

This book explores the tale from Wendy’s perspective, alternating between her quest to retrieve her daughter, and the awfulness of her return from Neverland. That no one believed her, until her brother had no choice but to have her committed.

We then see the island of Neverland not quite like it was before with Jane, and her adventures with Peter and the Lost Boys. Except the boys are truly lost, Jane doesn’t remember her own name, and Peter is ever there, ready for another game that makes no sense and the rules always change.

Between the two, glimpses of dread start to emerge, a far starker and grim fate for those who once populated the island, but there are other horrors to come. Neverland has a secret, a darkness at it’s heart and Wendy must face it to save Jane.

Wise’s prose is phenomenal – it drags you into a visceral world you can feel, emerges you in sensations with aching moments of almost prose like writing that’s simply put, gorgeous. I fell into these moments, forgot where I was or what I was doing, and in that I think is possibly my only criticism. Sometimes I’d forgotten where in the story we were up to when we returned, or that the memory or moment had a purpose. Dropped back into the story, it wasn’t disjointed so much as disorientating, and that may have been the intent.

For much of the story we spend with Wendy in the asylum where no one believes her, to Jane who’s so influenced by Peter she forgets her own name, struggles to remember that she’s not really Wendy, it’s a delicate mental balance beautifully written. The pair and their view of one another, and what it means to be a mother, what it means to be a woman in a place and time where they are little more than objects, was so well told it hurt.

I’ll never see Peter in quite the same light again, and I feel all the more powerful for it thanks to this book.

Dead zone

Picture of a dying flower, with the text DEAD ZONE ejdawson.com

I woke up this morning at 6am, got out of bed, and hit the desk with a furor and if you think this is how I normally operate you’d be dead wrong.

I’m an out of bed by about 8:30, maybe 9am on a Saturday, because it’s the morning I get to sleep in with the dog. Right now, he’s sulking in the cat’s bed. Staring at me. I broke the routine. Bad dog mum.

What’s got me here?

The opposite of my last few weeks.

I hit what I like to refer to as dead zones.

My drive to write, create, encourage was there, under the surface an intent I wanted. But most evenings when I normally focus on these things, I wasn’t doing it.

Was it because my day job was going through a huge and important upskill? Or that I was coping with getting serious feedback on my first neurodiverse book? Even preparing to start querying that book next week?

Maybe it was all of it, but my brain just said ‘no’ every time I wanted to get behind the keyboard and do some serious work. To sit and hyper focus, to just let the words come, beta read projects, polish short stories, fix big ones.

It took me a little while this morning that while my intent to do all these things was still there, and I wanted too, I’d taken a mental vacation from “work” because that’s exactly what it was, work.

I have a choice about what I do, how hard I drive myself, but that includes what I do with my spare time, and when ninety percent of it is writing in one form or another, it doesn’t leave a lot of time for mental break.

What triggered it?

I’d read a tweet about a guy who worked so hard his brain broke.

A wriggling fear and source of procrastination crept up on me. I’d written the other week about people who quit writing, and underneath it was a horrible dread that one day I’d be that person too. That either my brain would snap from all the demands, or one day, one little defeat would be one too many, and I’d just… stop.

I recently finished an almost yearlong demand list of scheduled work that needed doing, just a few weeks ago, so while had my own mental schedule, there were no editors or people I had specific dates to return projects to. There were no competitions or mentorship projects with deadlines. There was nothing but what I needed to do, when I thought I needed it done by.

My brain just very quietly disengaged. I spent a bit of time playing games, reading a few old books for fun and not for reviewing. I mentally distanced myself from my work.

Without thought of procrastination, or even being aware that was exactly what I was doing, I just took a mental step away from “work”.

So, this morning when I work up that drive returned. Nothing in particular triggered it except my subconscious thought that it was time to “get back to work.” That thought stilled me in my tracks, halfway across the kitchen, coffee cup in hand, ready to start work at six am on a Saturday morning.

It wasn’t just a declaration of being ready to work, but mentally ready to start the grueling process of querying again, but this time with a script that has whole sections of my soul. It was to embark on new challenges including a course on developmental editing.

There is a deep sense of urgency in writing, a perception it has to be all now and that we have to keep trying every single day to get our one script, or many, out a proverbial door. Like sending kids to school, handing in a work project, finishing a season of sport.

And if you don’t “do it” in time, you’re going to miss some form of lucky boat. That if you don’t do it now, the opportunity might escape. You’ll be left wondering if that big break could have been you if you’d just sent that email a single day earlier. That you wrote a book so similar to one that’s big and only if you’d thought and written it sooner.

Telling yourself this is the kind of pressure I wanted to escape. The idea that my chance was wholly dependent on working myself into a mental breakdown. And I’ve been doing this long enough to know, subconsciously or not, when I need to take a break, to step away mentally for a few weeks.

To breathe.

And it feels good. So, give yourself the space, if you’re pushing yourself and finding it hard, maybe you do need some down time. Putting a hold an email for a couple of weeks isn’t going to rob you of anything; its going to save you from an inevitable break. There are still those chances out there and I believe if they are meant for you then they’ll still be there when you’re ready to come back to it.

Because if this process can take years, decades, then you can afford to sit down, have a cup of tea, and reread the book you’ve read a million times, that isn’t perfect, but you still love it. I know I do. Even when it’s my own.

Too Tired to Write

Text “EJDawson Blog Post” and a puppy asleep on carpet

I’ve seen several long time twitter accounts deactivate over the last few months, and a friend I thought I’d got back has just vanished entirely. Another person I know blocked me on twitter because no one was taking their script. They wouldn’t try/couldn’t bring themselves to write another, and when I tried to console them and explain that this process takes time, they got very angry with me for no other reason than I said it can take years.

So, if you’ve been with me a little while, if you’re getting very tired let me point out a couple of things to you.


We’ve been battling this for over a year, we’re getting the vaccine, but the world has changed. And this isn’t just a habit change. A habit change takes twelve weeks to adjust to in your mind, and that’s something like not putting salt on your food, or not drinking soda, or exercising.

I don’t have to tell you its trying, you know, everyone you know knows. You’re over it.

But we wont ever be quite the same as we were before. Normal is a place we may never be able to revisit. I saw someone say they just wanted to have dinner with a friend.

It might not be possible, but in some countries, you can start doing these things. You can meet just one friend nearby for coffee. Maybe you can’t travel but when was the last time you did something touristy in your hometown? It might be years, it might be boring, but right now not only could those places use the business, but it’s a nice visit down memory lane to things you haven’t done in years, if at all.

The pandemic isn’t over, but neither is the world. Being fatigued by that doesn’t make you less of a writer, just exhausted by all this, and it’s more okay than you’re probably giving yourself credit for. The fact you’re still here is amazing.

Now that’s out of the way, lets talk about writing journeys.

When you do it a long time, it gets tiring. And we’re tired already.

It’s recently enamored me of what I’ve seen called a “positivity” pass. As a writer, I’m used to assessing constant critique of my work; from dev editors, to beta readers, to readers themselves. Taking it all and learning and growing from it is fine, and no you don’t want someone to tell you an imperfect script is perfect (it will never be perfect, there are always things that can improve). But having a complete person just enjoy and point out strong points in a script are important to give you the drive to keep going.

I call them cookies when I talk about the assessment I give to manuscripts when beta reading/critiquing. I both love giving them and receiving them. It’s just a minor comment by the assessor to say; Oh wow, I love this bit!

Sometimes that’s all you need to keep going…

… because I’ve had people who’ve just stopped.

People I thought would be on this journey with me for years have thrown in the towel and meant it, and a lot of the time they never said a word. They just checked twitter every other day. We stopped DMing each other in giddy excitement over the latest story.

Because they knew, like me, that for all their excitement there is a mountain of work that would need to be done to query, submit, selfpublish, whatever their journey is, to make it good enough for a reader. And after a first, third, fourth book… you know the work beyond the joy of writing that’s in store for you so why start!

Those friends/acquaintances of mine that’ve vanished over the years have been replaced by others. Friends come and go, and so do people’s ability to endure the trials of the journey to publishing.

And that’s never to say they aren’t writers. They may come back to it, they may never return, but they are still writers.

My endurance for this industry has forced me to reassess my focus, and to that end I’m going to start writing and subbing short stories as something fun to do. And I am going to make it fun because I need to be able to weather the constant up and down hill journey of my writing career.

To make those long stretches of writing, editing, and polishing novels have upbeat moments of folly.

To enjoy not just crafting a great novel, but to fling myself at a different challenge I haven’t faced before that won’t impact me as strongly because its not a whole year’s worth of work.

Just one small story.

This might not be for you, but if you are tired of your writing journey, and a positivity pass or short stories aren’t going to cut it then what is?

How about offering to beta read a stranger’s book?

How about joining a writer’s group to find likeminded people?

How about stopping writing, and not starting again until you’ve read ten, fifty a HUNDRED books?

Whatever it takes to make you the you I knew before, the me who started this journey with no idea of how truly hard this would all become, but you wanted to do the hard work. To reinvigorate yourself for the writer that was always within you. Because, just like you, I don’t want to fade away, and I don’t want you to either.

Hard Lessons Learnt

As an ND person we’re used to doing stuff wrong and it’s a long journey but I wanted to share a blog post about things outside of writing that are still a big part of the writing journey. I’ve spoken before about meltdowns and editing as an ND author but there are other aspects that don’t get as much attention, and some will be a reiteration of those blog posts but I’m doing it because it’s important.

Because as an ND writer, there is stuff we see and here a thousand times and just don’t get.

That magical ‘click’ in our brain when we understand something that is almost and auditory sense for me has been amazing. Then there is some stuff I’ve done for years I still don’t entirely understand.

I’m sharing what I’ve learnt that if you’re ND you might like to know/be reassured of, and for those who aren’t ND a little glimpse as to what is going through the mind of your ND writerly friends.

  1. Not all Demons

Lets just start with the fact that within a lot of ND writers (but not all) is a host of ideas. Many ND authors I talk to have periods like any writer where they go through a void of idealessness, but many of the others I’ve met, and myself included, have so many ideas its hard to focus on ONE idea.

And that’s not a bad thing, despite the inherent frustrations. Which one should get the revisions and focus and editing done on it? Which one to query or publish? You could ask someone else, send out a few first chapters and get feedback is one way to start with a trusted CP, its how I got Behind the Veil in my first trad publishing story. But most of all go with your gut. The story that’s the most enjoyable to write, no matter the content, is the best use of your time, you’ll put more of yourself into it, and I think that’s a good thing.

  • Bad feed back

I’ve spoken about this one as part of my editing blog, but I wanted to come back to it. I’ve really struggled on how to take editing on my feedback since writing my first open ND book.

I’ve had an extraordinarily patient and understanding CP on that one, but I want to talk more specifically about the feedback in itself.

“I don’t get this”

Reading that particular piece of feedback is super hard when you know what you mean but you’re not able to rethink it over. You can walk away from the script and come back to it, but sometimes, your intent and meaning isn’t clear, no matter that it’s something you DO get and you love.

But if you intend on sharing with others, sometimes you do need to edit out that part, rewrite it, or even read it aloud to someone to describe what you are seeing or feeling about the text. There is usually a lightbulb moment of understanding with an NT person once you can open a discourse about it, so don’t be afraid to do that.

Also be used to being wrong. We all make mistakes. Its OK in this sphere to make a mistake. Go tell yourself that. Put it on the wall. Say it in the mirror. It’s OK to have mistakes.

  • Hyperfocus

It’s cool. It can be used to write thousands of words in a day. I think my best was 20k in one day. It wrung me dry for the next couple of days so I know my limit is 10k a day, but I love that I’m able to do it with relative ease. I love that we ND folk geared towards writing can make that happen.

It’s a two edged sword though.

I’ve met a few writers, myself included, who hyperfocus on one script. It’s our baby, our love, and the story we know is the one. The one that’ll get published, get acknowledged, get the awards, get on the NYT, everyone will love it, if they just knew how good it is!

I’m sorry, but no. No one script is going to do that. Your heart project may be too far out for a lot of agents. Chances are its also your first book so it may not be the best writing you can do. And that fucking hurts.

I’ve thought I’d written the best book ever and have people say its unpublishable garbage.

Please be ready for this, but please know that some of your best work may come from that same place but not be of it, or it can be revised into something submittable. But it is not all that defines who you are and what you can do.

  • Communication

I’ve edited this piece after a conversation today with a fellow ND author. We talk a lot about how ND authors struggle to communicate without talking about what that means on a social media platform.

I’ve deleted/misspoken on social media and some of its lashed back in my face really badly. I try not to delete tweets but I’ve found I’d rather do that than have someone misunderstand what I meant.

We can feel very viscerally strong about subjects/hills we will die on and for us it’s not just a statement, we feel the intent behind those words, those hard to hold feelings can rise within us without being overwhelming to the point we lash out. We can be angry, we can be sad, we can be vicious.

I don’t have a solution to these feelings, they’re true to who I am. But I try to stick to kindness or well meaning snark on social media because much of the world doesn’t want our rage or sadness, and sometimes I don’t want to share. Sometimes I do. The point is that you have to pick your moments for when they matter most, and be aware its not what everyone wants to hear. And they’ll let you know in no uncertain terms that you are wrong.

Every time you see those responses please be aware that those opinions are just that. Opinions. These people shouldn’t live inside your head rent free because you pay for it with guilt. You choose who you spend your emotional effort on, and it shouldn’t be on people who hurt you. When you find yourself feeling like this, ask yourself; what purpose does feeling like this help me? Can I change what was said or done?

Chances are the answer is no. So don’t. Easier said than done I know, but tell yourself, say it out loud. Or if you need someone to boss you around, ask yourself this; what would Ejay say if I tear myself apart in guilt from some random internet troll?

Not to do it? You fucking bet.

  • Other writers

ND authors… you ever get the feeling that all the NT writers know something you don’t?

Like there’s an unspoken manual that you never got a copy of and if you just read it things would make a lot more sense?

Yeah, it’s in the same place as the manual on life.

You’re only every going to find it through experience, stuff will still be missing, and coming to terms with that is hard. I remember being among a group of writers, and someone said something and everyone just nodded. I sat there and nodded too, gave a half smile of understanding.

I still to this day have no idea what the writer meant. To the point I don’t even remember exactly what it was that she said anymore. I go home and ask my husband and he’s usually a good grounding voice for stuff that’s off vs me just being paranoid. But this is going to be a lot like life in general.

We don’t get stuff, and that’s Ok.

I still haven’t got that click moment with the difference between “its” and “it’s” and nobody explain it to me because I’ve had just about every editor explain it to me and I don’t get it. I haven’t got a “click” moment. It is so minor, so small, such a little thing.


I’ll get it, maybe, one day. They’ll be a moment. And I’ve come to learn during my writing journey that it’s a lot like a life journey. I let autocorrect take it, try to do my best, and hope I get that click but I don’t let it become the focus of the whole sentence or script.

This isn’t easy, we put a lot of ourselves out there for questioning without ever knowing what parts are tangled in our neurodiversity, and we should edit out because nobody wants that.

I’m here to tell you I want that. That you will always have that part of you that you think might be wrong, and you may be wrong, but making mistakes shouldn’t be about erasing yourself. That its OK that not all of this makes sense to you. There are things I’ve yet to experience I know I’m going to get wrong. That’s OK too. So are you – and I need you to know that. I need you to believe it, because some of the most amazing stories I’ve read are from minds that aren’t wired like anyone else.

I just want to read, and write, more from the twisted labyrinth of ND minds, even when we make mistakes.

Neurodiverse editing

Those not on the social platform Twitter will have missed the enlightening conversations happening around neurodiverse authors and their writing being policed. I say this knowing full well that I myself have struggled with the idea of what it is to be an ND author.

That writing our own unique story telling voices are breaking traditional rules of writing. I want to address the specifics of what I’ve uncovered in my battle to separate my ND voice from poor writing, and I hope if you are ND that you can see those in your own writing.

  • Agency

A lot of the comments I get on overall beta and dev editing in characters that have a lot of myself in them is this; your character needs more agency. I’ve begun seeing other ND authors struggling with the same thing.

What is agency?

Agency is defined as a proactive protagonist. The ability to make decisions and act on them, rather than let the story happen to the character.

Why is this a problem for ND authors?

Because we are so often in the wrong, we learn to sit back and wait. To let things happen, wait for information/outside events to dictate our actions. We mask ourselves, our thoughts and language, push the parts of us that are different down so hard, that when we come to self expression, which writing is all about… we write what we do.

Go back and look at other characters you weren’t so invested in, characters that weren’t the MC who were driving the plot for your character. I bet they have a lot of agency. See, our writing doesn’t lack agency, but our characters do because we’re waiting for all the information before we make an action, because this is how we behave in the real world.

How as an ND author do I get around it?

Write how your character feels/give them internal thoughts on what’s happening. I know it might be odd but if you explain your internal thoughts or reactions a bit more, but you can also have them participate non-verbally with actions too, even if that action is as small as fidgeting, tugging clothes, subtle ones designed to go unnoticed but display the feelings of the ND character. Even what action they’d like to take but why they didn’t take it.

We’re used to asking ourselves that age old question; what if we’re wrong?

You shouldn’t forget that nobody knows that’s what you might be asking yourself, the thoughts and doubts inside your own mind, and so having your character do it for you can be helpful.

  • Disappearing

There is a big difference between someone who is silent and someone who isn’t there because the writer is focused on pushing the plot along.

A comment I got during my CP rounds of my first ND script is: where is Islae in this scene. Characters can often be quiet, thoughtless, a piece of background furniture, much like an ND person can feel, as described above.

Here is where I want to differentiate from the first point; I have a lot of thoughts on many subjects. ND’s but those with Aspergers like myself will be aware of the hamster wheel of info and processing that goes on behind the scenes, but that doesn’t make good reading text. So I drop in what would actually go through my mind I write what I’d like the character to say but doesn’t because they dont feel their opinions are valid, or they make an opinion and question it because they dont have all the info. If they have all the info then even the occasional text block of reaction/thoughts, and then edit the garbage words out in order to streamline it as much as possible to be friendlier to NT audiences.

I often go to say something, and someone will change the conversation so I remain silent. I have a perpetual need to finish a story/anecdote I was telling, or to pass along an experience or piece of information. These are very awkward moments socially, but while it can be triggering (and is, please know fellow NDs I got very triggered writing my ND self into my books doing this), it does demonstrate your character’s presence, and add to agency.

  • Visual scenes

A poor writer will often under or over describe a backdrop.

An ND writer will often block out an overwhelming backdrop/over analyze an interesting scene.

How do you balance the two different experiences out? I will often get an image from pintrest that’s similar to what I want, and use it as a base template, so that I can better picture this for my reader.

Alternatively, I’ll use the read aloud function to work out where I’ve been overly repetitive in my language/thoughts on a scene, and cut those out to better streamline the writing.

Also keep in mind this is a general writing thing; readers can and will automatically “paint” a scene as long as you give them a template to work from. The ticking clock in a library, the scent of incense in a temple, the harsh lights of the doctor’s office; remember the other senses you may purposefully shut out because it can be triggering might be good props not only to describe scenes, but also to demonstrate what its like to be triggered by these things for NT readers.

You are sharing more than your story, you are sharing your experience as an ND. If these things make you too uncomfortable don’t do them. I can’t dictate what you do and don’t write, I can only give you the examples I’ve used myself, whilst informing you that these can be triggering too.

  • Feedback

This one is a doozy.

I can copy edit fine, beta other peoples work no problem.

I fucking hate dev edits.

It will take me months to fix dev edits. And part of it is that its dev edits, but the BIG part of it is that someone has effectively said; you missed this spot here.

When we take pride in our true selves, our attention to detail, we’re presenting our work for someone else to review, and the last thing we want to be told now that we’ve put ourselves out there is that we did something wrong.

I don’t know, but I think we can feel those comments, like negative reviews, more keenly because we’re more sensitive to negativity. I always went to extraordinary lengths when beta reading to soften my comments but be clear in why I was criticizing something, and you don’t always get betas or CPs who do that.

It is one of the harder lessons, along with taking good feed back, for an ND writer to acknowledge.

I often remind myself of it as such; when a beta/cp points out something, its because there was a mistake big enough they fell out of the story.

And we all make mistakes and can be corrected for consistency, smoothness, but above all, enjoy ability by the reader. We don’t want them to fall out of the story.

So take a deep breath and acknowledge you made a mistake, and move on, but when you are ready to do so, because sometimes if you force the issue you end up putting yourself in a lot of anxiety. There is a difference between mental processing time, and just procrastination.

  • Detail

I am resisting (like fighting against Darth Vadar levels of negativity) the thoughts wanting to call one of my best betas a liar.

She waxed on about how much she loved my ND books and the reasons why and she got really specific about it… because I was specific.

ND folk notice details, pay attention to things others don’t, have odd quirks and mannerisms that appear in our writing. The compliment in question was about a small facet of cleanliness that I was hyper aware of (but completely unknown to her was a red herring for future story stuff, hashtag not sorry).

We don’t always do it on purpose, but we do notice the details and its where our writing can stand out. I tend to focus a lot on what a character I’m attracted to is wearing, can be attracted to them because of what they are wearing. Stuff like that stays with me so I try to ensure it serves a purpose. For example, my ND character has conflicting emotions about a dress, not just because its sexy or makes her feel uncomfortable, but the material of the dress is actually soft and she likes it.

Look to your details, where you are being quite precise, and see if you can’t add why for the NT audience. demonstrating emotions through actions can be done a multitude of ways; fidgeting/stimming is a sign of nerves but it isn’t the only one. For example you could sweat, gaze dart, walk out of a room, queasy stomach. I can also recommend the Emotion Thesaurus to avoid cliché expressions.

Clearly defining the traits that make us the way we are might be misconstrued as eliminating my own perspective and voice. Erasing my identity from the pages in an effort to please neurotypicals. After being told all my life how to think, to be, to exist, I think I can do some telling back. I can tell you when I’m sad, angry, proud, or when I disagree. I am not changing my writing to conform to NT, I am explaining to an NT how an ND views the world, and there is nothing wrong with that.

Writing wrong

Just writing the title of this blog post is sending my skin crawling. It’s a physical effort to type.

But I can’t not. I can’t not say something about being neurodiverse now while its fresh, clear and concise in my head, even if this blog post might not be – not if you’re neurotypical.

On Friday night I had a meltdown.

I’ve spoken about having a meltdown before but I need you, if you are neurotypical, to understand something.

We talk about it like its some sort of toddler fit, like infantizing our reactions is helpful. How difficult it is to control extreme anxiety, depression, and feeling wholly overwhelmed is something we have a choice about. We don’t. Even as adults.

If you’re ND, please be careful, this may be triggering. I’ve marked the section with two astericks.


I could sense it behind the walls, it had to get out, and it was made of more than a good crying session or pacified with TLC, junk food and wine. It wasn’t going to go away. It was going to be big and ugly and I’ve learned over years to see those coming.

I knew from experience exactly what I needed to do to weather the storm about to be unleashed by my own mind.  That for a little while… I’d have no control.

I grabbed my headphones, I put on Flume’s ‘Never Be Like You’ I grabbed the teddy bear I’ve had since I was three, went into the bedroom, closed the door and screamed my heart out into its little soft stomach.

The one constant since I was a toddler was that bear. I cried and screamed until I blacked out.


Shame is trying to stay my hand but I need you to understand what is like as an ND person how hard this is, but also as an adult. Because after everything was over I tried to do what a toddler can not.

Why did I just have a meltdown?

As an adult you can identify the cause and triggers, and try avoiding it in future, or put the emotional distance you need between you and the thing that’s going to set you off. Because a meltdown on that scale is mentally and physically exhausting. As a kid people do care for you; they make sure you eat and sleep and hopefully put them in an environment that’s supportive. As an adult you don’t always self care like that. You have to figure out what caused it so it doesn’t happen again in a space that isn’t in your control, because I’ve had meltdowns in public and its extraordinary debilitating.

We can’t afford to do it; we can lose jobs, alienate people, and cause irreparable damage.

What triggered my meltdown?

Nobody liked my pitch for pitmad.

Before you wonder at how vain and stupid it was to have a meltdown over whether or not an agent liked the pitch of my book, let me tell you about it.





Up for execution

Islae’s life is worth space garbage

But not to Moira

Islae can hack code into VR worlds where she can do anything until Moira’s enemies turn VR into reality, a nightmare Islae must face to save Moira’s life

#Pitmad #A #SF #ND

Why would I be terrified or stress myself out so much over acceptance for something so small as a single tweet?

Because it wasn’t just a tweet to me.

This is my first ND book, openly and unapologetic. I’ve hidden that part of myself, masked who I was, how I feel, to fit in, because that’s what all ND people do, especially before their diagnosis.

In the last two years on Twitter and in some social circles recently I’ve become confident enough in my thoughts and expressions to tell people that I’m on the autism spectrum. I’ve learned so much about my diagnosis from the courage of others.

I thought, just for a while, I could be that brave.

Except bravery doesn’t come without fear, and as ND all I do is fear rejection.

Fear what I’m doing is wrong.

I’ve put off doing the needed developmental work on this ND script because I’d been questioning it. Not just the story, whether or not someone would want gods in space, or hackers creating virtual realities that became real. Whether I was just a crap writer who wasn’t expressing themselves and trying hard enough to make this writing as polished as it could be.

Those thoughts were true; I am a crap writer who’s work needs polishing but so are most authors. We all draft a story that needs various stages of polishing and critique to make it really shine and be a story others can read without falling over inconsistencies, plot holes, char development, the works. As writers, we all need that feedback to improve the story because writing a draft is full of errors.

What was the difference?

As ND you are used to being wrong.

As a writer you are used to needing your work corrected and polished.

I lost the difference between what was my ND voice and what was just flawed writing. I can’t tell because I’m so used to being wrong that its all wrong, both the ND parts of me and the writing, and I can’t change that in my head. It wasn’t just the feedback from my wonderful and sympathetic CP who understands disability. It wasn’t just the betas who weren’t ND, but were sympathetic to an ND character. But trying to relate to an NT audience without realizing all the things you do as an ND person may just come across as simply being wrong writing.

When an ND person is listening to others, in a new social circumstances, we can feel anxious or nervous but do you know what else is there? A blank slate.

We’re waiting for someone else to give us the social cue and insert the appropriate social response.

We’re holding back what we feel because we spend all our lives waiting for others emotions to fit in.

We’re masking what we’d instinctively feel because after years of hiding, we don’t know how not to.

Identifying what behavior was ND, and what was poor writing, has driven me to an idea that the single tweet I put out that didn’t get liked wasn’t just about the world not wanting my weird ND self.

It was about putting the person I’d hidden away all my life out there.

Our sense of identity, who we are, what we think, how we react, when we’re being true to ourselves, comes with more than thoughts. It’s what we wear, what we look like, who we love and how we hate all the parts of ourselves we’ll never be able to be accept because nobody else does.

We write from the heart of ourselves and then we try to do what everyone does when they’ve written a book. You polish away the mistakes. Except who you are is the mistake. The soul of yourself is in more than the pages, its down to the fragments of what you do or don’t do or why you’ve reacted the way you have.

How are we supposed to market all that to an agent who isn’t ND?

We’re supposed to present a true an accurate account of ourselves to make it as original as possible to our true voices but how do we separate that from writing… wrong?

From having genuine reactions and thoughts that simply aren’t giving the reader enough to connect with if they aren’t ND?

To having a story, a fabrication of gods in space, alongside a story of self-acceptance?

I started erasing myself from the story. I returned and put it back in and then explained what I was doing for the NT audience. I’m navigating Islae’s fat, bi, ND story of self acceptance against gods in space, aware that every word change is me questioning whether anyone will see her, see me, in the end.

That tweet that didn’t get any likes wasn’t just about pitching my story, it was about putting all of my wrongness out there for someone, maybe, to think that such a story, my story, might not be wrong.

And I’m going to keep doing it. I’m going to keep having meltdowns. I’m going to keep questioning every nuance of this story’s “wrongness” until it gets an agent, until it’s published and in book form, because one of the key elements about it’s lesson is that this won’t change until we change what we think about ourselves.

And that we can’t do this alone. That what others think matter, because when we’ve spent our whole lives trying to ensure we aren’t wrong, to put that wrongness forward for someone else to judge is a terrifying, debilitating journey of freedom of self expression I refuse to give up.

I wont ever not be ‘wrong’. This story will never not be ‘wrong’. Islae will never not be ‘wrong’.

The story about self acceptance isn’t just that we’re ND. It’s that what people define as wrong isn’t right. It’s that in the end Islae isn’t wrong, in fact her wrongness is what makes the world right again.

And that maybe, one day, someone who’s struggled being ND, will be Ok being who they are, even if it’s wrong. Maybe, one day, I will be too.

I’m so excited to announce that book 3 in the Queen of Spades Trilogy will be released on April 17! My #scifi #romance is complete, and each #ebook #99c! If you love soft scifi, slowburn romance, and cliffhangers then this now complete series is for you!

I’ve often spoken of the challenges of self publishing but writing and publishing a trilogy in a year wasn’t something I was ready for amid a pandemic. The launch of this trilogy began on the shakiest grounds as the world was swept into chaos.

Having Ayla be my own person hero who’d get through whatever it takes has driven me to finish this series no matter what else is going on with my life. She’s proof that things can be as awful and you can still get through them. That the demons of our past don’t control our futures.

I love her and this series and I can’t wait to show you the final book, please go make my little heart happy and get it, and I promise a fun, fast paced escape from the world with a side of slow burn romance, and what happens when you hurt someone who knows when you are going to die.

Prepped Review


There’s being prepared for the end of the world, and then there’s being prepared for the end of your world.

Becca’s cynical resistance to her parents brainwashing doomsday philosophy strolls right past parental resentment into a full blown secret plan to flee to college on a scholarship and leave it all behind. But she can’t. Not when her Dad has an accident that leaves him in a coma, her mother doesn’t seem to care, and her little sister Katie starts to believe in the fear.

Becca’s plans for the future wither away all alongside Roy, a boy she’s been genetically matched to marry and continue the line of preppers. But a part of Becca’s assumption comes completely undone when the dopey boy next door turns out he doesn’t believe, and he truly loves her.

Discovering allies in each other, they’ll fight not only for their freedom, but each other’s happiness. But when the doomsday prepper community already has their lives planned out, how on earth will they escape?

I loved Becca’s constant pragmatism and resourcefulness, and not because it was how she was raised, but who she was as a person. Evading core beliefs around family is hard and this story felt very much like Becca was in a cult, but they didn’t have a conventional god, their god is fear. It doesn’t stop her grit, determination, or power to do what must be done.

Sling along side it Roy, the guy Becca’s pretending to love, except not only is he lying to everyone about his disbelief, including Becca, he’s not lying when he says he loves her. When the two start to realize neither of them want to be doomsdayers, its tainted by the fact that Roy loves Becca, but she doesn’t love him back.

This story tugged on my heart strings, as much as we want to say we’re prepared for the future sometimes we just aren’t. Sometimes it takes ingenuity, resourcefulness, and determination just to get through a day, let alone the struggles that life can bring. I thoroughly admired these characters and the small window into their constricted lives, Mangle makes their journey emotional, touching, and laugh out loud funny, even when things are looking at their grimmest.

Screams from the Void Review

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Scary in space has always spoken to me as being like Alien in terms of suspense; there is a monster in the dark, and you know its coming.

Tibbets places you on the page with an ominous whisper in you ear; its already here. It’s behind you.

There is no hesitation, no stopping, and no escape aboard the freighter Demeter. The gradual introduction of the crew while unknown havoc explodes (literally) across the ship promises a story of high stakes, and with more than one element of horror.

The main protagonist, Ensign Reina, speaks to many of us as putting up with an awful situation for the “job” until enough is enough. From a boss who constantly degrades her to make up for his own ineptitude (who hasn’t been there?), to a sexy ex who’s bad boy side is way badder than any of us wants, Reina’s got her hands full. But her patience is running out quicker than the crew has members left.

Alongside Reina’s struggle is chief science officer Pollux who’s drive for constant improvement allowed dangerous cargo aboard. Something that’s hidden among the greenery of her collection of alien plant life to bring back to Earth. And when it bursts out of those early pages of the book, I wondered for the briefest moments if this fluffy critter wasn’t totally misunderstood.

Cue gore.

There are visceral moments of this book I won’t be able to scrub off my mind imagining. I’m not a big fan of bloody scenes, my empathy/imagination can’t hack it, but while the body count triggered my gross meter, it wasn’t the only vileness on the ship.


There is an alien on board. Its going to kill them all, and have I mentioned yet, that laser fire can’t kill it? Forget running out of ammo, throwing it out the airlock, or just plain wrestling it to death, lets start with the fact its invisible. You can’t see the damn thing. Pollux bought an invisible death machine on board and now she’s got to get rid of it.

Pollux’s zero BS attitude and Reina’s adaptability on a very dysfunctional ship give a hope that vanishes as quickly as the pace advances. Separated early on, the two differing viewpoints each add their own aspect of terror. Reina, side by side with her abusive ex, and Pollux, fighting off a debilitating rash that’s slowly stealing her thoughts.

For all their ingenuity, their struggle paints a horrible picture of how very f***ed they all are. And this was my one contention with the book. There were a couple of scenes were there was an over emphasis of the fact they had zero chance, but once that was done, I got on with seeing exactly how they were going to get out of it.

Because as much as you’re wondering what they’re going to do about this creature, it was only a part of the stakes. Reina’s ex Morven isn’t so much her ex as the guy from her past she can’t escape; from falling in love with, from still loving despite all he’s done, let alone what he’s about to do.

The two intertwining threads of Reina’s personal demons vs the actual one roaming the ship weave a tangled terrified stream through the story. How you can be mentally trapped, as well as physically, and the emotional turmoil trying to extract from that situation. Reina spoke to a part of me that has cringed when a man raises his voice.

Tibbets proves there’s more than one way to scare a reader and I’m not ashamed to say I kept the lights on and watched Disney after finishing this book. Thoroughly recommend for the well balanced characters you can empathize with in their weakness, the science fiction elements made believable, and the kind of horror that leaves you terrified of the void. When science advances far enough for intergalactic travel, nobody sign me up for space botany.

Butterfly to a Snake

There’s things no one tells you about writing your first novel.

Forget technique or story or genre. Forget characters, plot, or moral. Forget whether you’re fifteen writing fanfic, in your twenties with that book that cries to be written, or older, greyer, cynicism a streak you can’t always replace with kindness.

Writing a whole novel, an honest over 70k full and complete manuscript, tears out your soul.

You start with an intent to finish, maybe you abandon it, you come back, keep plugging away, you work at it. Because you want it all there. You tell your friends and your family and the ones who don’t laugh or mock you become your rocks (and they stay your rocks, never forget those ones).

You climb along the branches of your own life to borrow experiences made up of leaves of emotion you chew and chew and chew. Each bite holds its own bitter sweetness or sweet bitterness. And you swallow every mouthful and spit it back out. Build until the book worm is fat, until it is full, until its not a worm but a caterpillar ready to utter the phrase THE END.

And you write those words… and a little, or a big, piece of you… dies.

But its not dead in a way that a caterpillar isn’t dead.

It turns to goo, to mush, to a few cells simmering in a fabricated pod made up of “this is a complete book.”

What do you do with that book? What goals did you have? What colours of the infinite rainbow of possibility did you imagine when you started out? What wings were you going to unfurl from that pod? What possible dreams lie in store for you?

I’m telling you now, that shouldn’t matter as much as what you’ve already done. You wrote a book.

The wet tendrils of multifaceted cells can unfurl. You wrote a book.

The pages are there, written, complete. You wrote a book.

You can leap off that branch and fly.

No one can take that book away from you, no one can say you didn’t finish. You saw your goal, you saw it through, and then you’re left with the tenuous question… what now?

You could query, or self pub, and all the research is needed for both but there begs a different question once it’s done.

Do you want to write another?

The posts that come after break my hear but they are there;

That’s it, this is the book I have in me. I’m done.

I can’t do this again, it hurts too much.

I don’t care what happens now, I did what I came here to do.

Nobody will ever want to read my book.

That last one tho…

I’ve seen talented writers who’s work I loved walk away for that reason alone. So hollowed by self doubt that when the chrysalis of their caterpillar’s cocoon split open there was nothing left inside. Just the shell. Just a book they’ll never give to anyone.

Because what writers who’ve weathered more than one book don’t tell you is that you aren’t a butterfly.

And you don’t know this until you’ve burst from that first shell that cocooned your story.

You’re a reptile. A lizard, a snake, a gecko. You shed your skin of one book, new and improved a better writer than before, and you do it again. You learn from it, and know that some scars of the book’s world still linger on your scales but you keep going, shedding, building. You grow bigger and braver, so much stronger than you’ll have ever realized.

This path is different for everyone, but the more you write, the more you improve, the more you show that you can hunt in the night, eat readers with delight, and sagely say to yourself that while you can doubt your writing, you don’t doubt that you are, in fact, a writer.

Wings of Ebony Review

Writers always wonder if they’ll ever make it, if their story matters enough for people to want to read it.

None could be so phenomenal as watching J. Elle bring Wings of Ebony to us all.

Cover of Wings of Ebony – black girl in a hoodie with gold cuffs.

I met Elle a few years back over Twitter, a fellow author, she was querying a book I was later to learn she’d revised NINETEEN TIMES. I couldn’t imagine being that dedicated to one story – but Elle picked up an agent and I was delighted for her. The story was important, she believed in it, and I congratulated her along with the rest.

This was the step; an agent taking your book seriously as you did was an opening door, but there are others behind it you don’t really see quite as often. The submission to editors to get the book picked up is even harder on the nerves than the search for agent, or so I’ve read, I’m not sure, but Elle did it with the panache and positivity of everything she does.

She believed in her story.

When the book was picked up, I along many were thrilled, sent her congratulatory messages and then… Wings of Ebony began to take off. With astounding dedication and diligence, I watched in wonder at this new book. I wanted to know what it was about. I’d seen the years in the making to get to this point, from way back in 2018 when we followed each other on Twitter, right up until this moment.

I preordered the book, waited for its release, sat down and… was enraptured.

Nothing can prepare you for this book, whether you’re a stranger to American culture, the undercurrent of racism, or its familiar as your own back yard. Elle takes the plot from the first line and creates a world that was familiar but altogether foreign for me. I could not put it down. There is such a sense of rawness within the pages, threaded through this magical world and Rue, who’s power is breathtaking, so much more than just the magic she wields. The lines with the book are pure poetry at times, whilst completely shattering emotionally. Its worth reading, even if YA urban fantasy is not your thing, because Rue’s story is a story of so many black girls being told who they are and should be, and Rue’s not here for it, and proves that beyond a shadow of doubt. A fantastic read, and should be required reading.

I cried when I finished the book, not because I was saddened, but because I was amazed.

When someone presents a story with their whole heart, and so much dedication, I was amazed and honoured to have watched this incredible journey Elle made. In some regards it struck me that its’ not unlike Rue herself, and the importance of such stories was brought home for me with Elle’s writing.

I urge you to pick up this book if you believe in the strength of a writing journey like Elle’s. I insist as a reader that you get this book for the epic journey of black girl magic. Most of all, read it for the voice, the power within the pages in unputdownable, and Elle does it all with heart racing pace that leaves you breathless.

Writer Resources

Every writer has their toolkit of stuff they use for a host of things that never occur to you starting out. Books, webpages, resources that help with everything from finding the name of a bar, to working out how to rephrase letting go of a breath you didn’t know you were holding.

We’re all guilty of this one, don’t even pretend you’re not.

People will occasionally talk about their resources or what worked for them, so before I launch into what worked for me, this comes with a warning for all the advice I give. Find out what works for you. Not every tip/trick/harebrained font change is going to work out well for you or your writing. Trust your gut, and go with that, and you’ll make the right decision.


So you want to write/you’ve written a book, and now its time for the next big thing. Except… wow what an effort. Where do you even start? I mean the age brackets of children, middle grade, young adult, new adult, adult is just the tip of the iceberg. Then you’ve got genre, word count, lots of figuring out and you haven’t even got to the good bits!! (names and mood boards – we all know they’re the good bits).

When I’m feeling too much pressure to write a particular thing, or have a couple of different projects on, I’ll go to the genre blender and use it to either push me towards one project, or try something new. It might last half an hour, or I might come away with a brilliant idea. There are a lot of different generators on this list so have a play, it could be fun!

PLOT vs PANSTER – Save the Cat Writes a Novel

There are two ways (no there aren’t, there are many ways, these are typical), to write a book. You can plot it all out, in great detail, until everything is certain, or you can just start writing and not stop until you type the end. Both are valid. Both are not defined by those traits alone, it is the stereotypical joke of writers.

Plotting is good because you can end up saving yourself from things like predictability, pacing issues, and plot holes. I’ve adopted the Save the Cat Novel Writing methodology, which was useful to me after finding some soggy middle stuff in recent scripts.

That’s not to say I don’t pants, I do, most of my ideas are sparked by just pantsing. But once I’m sure I love the story, and kinda know where it’s heading, I use the beat sheets to help navigate. Like the writer,  Jessica Brody, demonstrates in the book, you don’t have to stick to a plot. You may find it goes slightly off beat and that may be a good thing.

WHATS IN A NAME? – Behind the Name

Ok, super secret time. When I come up with a main characters name, its always what they represent to me. Ayla, from my Queen of Spades series, came about as a variation of a name that means Tree of Life. A kind of secret I kept to myself throughout the books (which I can now talk about because book two is out, and what do you mean you haven’t read it? Don’t shout spoilers at me, you can buy book two here.).

I have a few different generators I like to do this, but my favourite will always be Behind the Name.

They have a huge variety, can do different countries of origin, full names, different mythology. There is a lot to take away from their name generators.

HASHTAG MOOD – Pintrest & Collage

A key thing a lot of authors are doing, and even some agents are asking for these days are mood boards. They help build and set tone, add a few key lines to create interest on social media, and can keep you goals focused. I created mine for Raven Lady, a scifi opera about hacking and virtual reality, as per the bellow.

Most have fewer elements than this, they have usually 9 pictures all evenly spaced in three lines of three images. These allow for a great social media post, very attention grabbing and creates an interest in the story, which might indicate which fellow writers might like to beta read the script once its done!


Yes, dear reader, it is. But it gets easier with time, daily habits, preparation and writing springs.

Carry a notebook around with you/use notes on your phone, so that if you are somewhere awkward you can’t get to your story, and you think of a cool fix for that plot hole, you can write it down.

Make a plan to write a set amount per day/week/month. Nobody gets to dictate these to you but you, but once you work out something that suits, you’re the one that has to commit to making those goals.

Speaking of – don’t start out stating you’ll Stephen King this and write 2k a day when you aren’t used to writing ten words. 2k is hard. Start soft and grow your goals as you would any other new learning curve. Start small, and adjust as you go.

Writing sprints are a fun way to commit to the time, by telling yourself a simple rule; I will only write for this time period. Every time you alt tab you smack your own damn hand, and go back to writing. At first this can be hard, so like with writing goals, you make the time period smaller. I started out at 100 words in 15 minutes, and can now write nearly 3k in an hour. Some of them are garbage, but I’ve got some gold nuggets out of those sprints.

With all these things to get yourself started, it wouldn’t be fair not to talk about the end. There is a long road of work ahead of you, no matter your goals. Remember that whatever you intend, trad, self, indie published, or just to hang onto it, there are ups and downs there too.

But nothing will ever change that you did it. You wrote a book. These are just spring boards to help you along the way though, the rest, is up to you.

An Older Autistic

An Older Autistic - The hurtful way you are receiving an older autistic's diagnosis #autistic #mentalhealth #older #diagnosis #aspergers

You ask any older autistic person, and they’ll have THE line.

The line everyone says when told that the autistic person is autistic;

“I didn’t know/you don’t look/is that’s whats odd about you?”

Do you know why that might be? And why what you’re saying is the most harmful and degrading thing you can possibly offer, that actually makes that person feel a hundred times worse?

Because they’re not just masking their inner selves from you, they’ve done it for decades. They’ve spent their whole lives, many undiagnosed, in a confusing world that chafed their sides and left parts of them raw, scarred, and hard. It left them vulnerable afraid, but able and adaptable to do whatever it takes to fit in, not be judged, and to try to find their place in a conflictive and chaotic world.

Let me use a completely different story/analogy for this to make sense which coincides with my writerly audience.

There is a story that’s gone around about how a guy went to his therapist, to complain he wasn’t good at writing. When the therapist asks how long he’s been a writer, the guys says three years. The therapist then asks him; do you expect a three-year-old to be an artist? The answer is of course not, they’re just a child. Then why lay the same expectations at the feet of himself when he’s only been trying three years?

Its meant to be encouraging for younger writers, no matter their age, that you are only just starting to learn how to do something.

A child’s autism can be seen as much more obvious because we are more aware of the signs and are better clued into the mental health of younger generations, than those who were born earlier.

Do you know what people with aspergers and autism have done their whole lives before such awareness was more commonplace, or those that still do it because they dont have access to a health system that recognizes why they are struggling?




From the time we are children and join schools and start social interaction something is… wrong.

There is an undefinable sense beyond childhood embarrassing awkwardness that tells us we aren’t like everyone else. From needing down time struggles to stimming being taken as fidgeting, we aren’t okay. But we’re made to play in a loud group of noisy unaware children who aren’t like us. We’re told we’re drama queens, unnecessarily sensitive and emotional yet in a handspan of heartbeats are chastised for lacking empathy and compassion.

So we do what we’re told; because many of us, especially women, should only do as they are told.

Don’t make waves. Make friends. Be interested in other people. Nobody is interested in you. Remember all that information. Don’t talk about those fascinating things. Find a hobby. Don’t become obsessed. Fix yourself to fit in with everyone else.

Many of us went undiagnosed, and many still do. Why? Because we did what we were told.

We’re good at it. We’re so good, women aren’t usually diagnosed until late twenties, early thirties, and many not until years later, if at all. And those are the ones who are seeking therapy, trying to find answers beyond; you’re stressed out/depressed, take these tablets and get out of my office.

We’re very good at covering up who we are. We’ve had years of practice listening to people tell us we are wrong.  We build on it, learn to hold our tongues, take a step back, so by the time we’re old enough, confident enough to say; this is more than just the way I am, we’re shattered to find out the world lied to us. All those years, all that time, all that chaffing, and scratchiness, and WRONGNESS was not our fault.

We made mistakes, but we are also not at fault.

The comfort in my diagnoses didn’t give me the strength to come forward. Other people with Aspergers gave me the strength to say to people, at a time I was comfortable, my diagnosis.

And when I did, people hurt me by disregarding or pointing out my flawed nature. My wrongness.

You dont look autistic.

It’s because you taught me not to be myself in front of you. Every one of you. That if my mental health problems were invisible to you then it suited you better. And it insulted every single person on the spectrum, visible or not. It teaches everyone who can hide what they are to do so, and its still happening.

The next person I tell that I have aspergers and they say that to me, I’m going to tell them what they’re saying is harmful. If you’re strong enough, tell them its hurtful. Because there are so many people out there who aren’t confident in their diagnosis/suspected diagnosis to come forward about being autistic, let alone asking for the space they need to survive.

The Wall

Every writer I know keeps a space for the things to put on the wall. Or at least an e-corkboard of some description. Notes, images, inspiration, and accomplishments. Of failures too.

I have a wall. In 2020, it held a secret, one I didn’t see coming.

It’s a blue wall, it’s the only coloured wall in the room. It’s a dusky sea blue.

In the middle I hung a white board, and on it is the poem I wrote that started this writing journey. The Last Prophecy. It has the books that match the parts of the poem written beside it. It isn’t a guilt trip because I’m not currently working on that series (but I will be in 2021). Its encouragement and purpose for why I began in the first place.

Above, below, and to either side is pages upon pages of A4 paper. All covered in black texter.

Above is a single A4 piece of paper. It has my two contracts signed to Literary Wanderlust.

Underneath is a list of all my projects, and I put a tick next to the complete ones.

On the left, directly above my desk, as a reminder to keep doubt away, I put the year’s accomplishments. Not goals, just stuff I did. Like publishing Queen of Spades I & II. That a dev editor loved Echo of the Evercry, and Meg will never know how much her words still make me shake.

On the right is a single line of four quotes.

Never give up on a dream you aren’t willing to let die. ~ E. J. Dawson

Value yourself, so the world will value you. ~ Unknown

No one but you is allowed to dictate what you are worth. ~Anne with an E

There are no heroes in history. Only villains who told their story first. ~ E. J. Dawson

Above it is the goals. But they aren’t things I necessarily intend to succeed at. Just marking the attempt. I put books I query up there, competitions I enter, people in the industry I approach. Above those quotes I put building blocks of my progress. An ever increasing tower of possible success.

But towers crumble. Not every one is built to last.

Under the quotes are all my failures. When I think enough time is passed, two lines strike through, with a short note about what happened or what I think happened.

There are more A4 pages beneath the quotes than anywhere else on the wall.

Why, Ejay, why would you keep all those failures? Why remind yourself of all the times you didn’t succeed?

Because success is not made of what you think you accomplish or fail, its made of trying and not giving up.

THAT is what the A4 notes represent to me. So when I put the good things on the left side I feel accomplished. That when I look back at it I can say to myself I tried. I did my best, I followed my dreams.

And at the end of every year, I take them all down. The successes that aren’t beyond that year get filed away to pull out when I’m miserable, a reminder of the good things. Unfinished goals get retired to the failure or success pile depending on how far I got with them. The failures get moved down to make room for more failures. But they stay up there. They represent years of trying. There are… a lot of them.

Except… except…

When I pulled down the wall to prepare for 2021, one of them wasn’t a failure. It was an entry to a short story competition for a story previously rejected by a few magazines and competitions. But when I read the attempt, saw the two slashes to mark a failure, and noted the comment “no response” I realized with a delightful surge of giddiness I was wrong.

It took months to find out, and it wasn’t quite important to anyone, but I was a finalist in that competition. I got invited to submit other stories. They liked my voice and wanted more of it.

That failure was a success I hadn’t know at the time.

Imagine… for a moment, you feel like a failure. Imagine… for a moment, you were wrong.

That crumbling brick was forged anew. Solid, sturdy, something to stand on while I kept this inevitable climb. I reason to keep trying in 2021. This is why I keep the failures. This is why I don’t give up on people who say no to me. This is why I have a wall of my failures so when I look back I can see EVERY SINGLE TIME ANYONE SAID NO TO ME AND ALL I EVER OVERCAME.

Keep writing. You never know when that failure might be a success.

Zero expectations

The words on everyone’s lips right now is that 2020 was hard. For many people they weren’t sure they could endure.

I had my own problems, my NYE celebration was under a red sky of an alien planet as we waited for evacuation orders due to Australian bushfires. We were the last car to be allowed passage from the greater area, the police closing the road behind us as the way forward became dangerous. We got home, and after just a week back at work I realized my life needed to change, and started looking for another job. But the replacement fell through just as I’d terminated my existing employment, because of covid. For a brief period I nervously called myself a full time writer while we relied on one income and savings. I spent four months not getting as much work done as I wanted, before a new job came around. Our shower broke… it seems so inconsequential, but I haven’t had a shower in 9 months because of covid and lockdown and not wishing to put anyone in a difficult position. The daily mental strain of not having that small convenience was so hard. But everyone’s 2020 was hard. There were personal emotional struggles at home, and with my books, but the one thing that I got out of the year was boundaries.

I know what I can and cannot do anymore and I’ve amended my website to reflect that. I’m not offering author interviews or book features as separate pages, I’m going to make it a part of my blog. I’m not going to review here, I’m going to confine my searching to Netgalley, recommendations, and ARC requests to review on Netgalley, Amazon and Goodreads.

One of the most important things to me that I am stepping away from is beta reading. I got so many requests this year I overpromised on many of them and shouldn’t have. You are still more than welcome to submit to me, I will still look at 5k samples and may take on more work, but it will depend upon demands of 2021 and there promise to be quite a few.

Most of all, I am not walking into 2021 with any expectations. There is always the NYE promise, and I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s 2020 was blown out of the proverbial water. I am moving forward with hope, or at least a positive outlook that I’ll do the best that I can.

With the promise of helping the many writers journeying with me. With the joy of seeing my work into paperback form. With more stories, and one that has ripped me to shreds over the last few months, but I’m proudly announcing my ND self to the greater world.

2020 wasn’t a fire we walked through, not an inferno we buckled under. 2020 was a time where climate change caused disasters, centuries of inequality broke forth in riots against long held traditions of racism, and the changes in our behaviour and attitude to health were thoroughly re-examined under the wave of a plague. It forced us all to re-examine our lives, and purpose in the world. How every day mattered even as they all bled into one another as we stared at the same four walls for months on end.

I’m sorry if your year was rough, not a blanket statement to everyone, just to you, because I don’t know what you went through, but that you’re here, reading this, matters. That you didn’t quit, or even if you did, that you still went on, matters. If you kept writing, hobbies, dreams, lives, afloat this year I’m proud of you.

I want the best of 2020 for you, hope its brighter and full of laughter, and if not I’ll still be here for you.

So you Failed Nano? Me too

I get it. The pressure, the time, 2020, its not like you need to give me your excuse.

Because you don’t need one. Even typing that word, “excuse”, makes me cringe.

Looking at 2020 and everything that I’ve managed to do, there is a very simple reason Nano didn’t get done; I didn’t have time.

But I sure watched a lot of Trublood, played games for more than a few hours, took a week off work for writing projects.

I’ve done Nano for the last 7 years but this 8th year I was too busy finishing off the edits for the last book in the Queen of Spades, and do you know what? I was sorry. I’m not anymore.

I didn’t fail Nano, I chose to do other things with my time.

That streak proves to me that I know where my priorities lie. That I know where in my writing career I need to knuckle down and focus and if that means starting a new project I have zero emotional investment in needs to be dropped then so be it.

Joining Nano is about creating daily healthy writing habits. Its about sitting down and finally committing the time to the story that you love and have always wanted to write. Its about getting a whole novel down and actually finishing the fucking thing.

Maybe you didn’t do any of those things and there wasn’t a real reason, it just didn’t happen. You know what? It’s a personal commitment. You aren’t competing against anyone else but yourself.

If you think you were just lazy and you need to do better, you can commit to yourself to right 50k words any month you damn well please.

Nano is a chance for us to do it all together. You can do this anytime you like.

Go on, finish your novel, you’ve got 26 days until this year is over. 2020 has rattled your cage, put you down, beat you up, and ripped away so much happiness. Write about hate, revenge, rage, despair… turn it into kindness, protection, love. Wrap the words around your heart and pour them onto the page.

The only person stopping you, is you.

Removing the Mask

Yesterday at the dentist I had a breakdown.

A full on public display of my autism.

He was putting a needle in the roof of my mouth for root canal work, and I was breathing slowly and painfully through it. He told me to keep breathing, to breath with him, and I did but he went too fast.

I lost it.

The mask slipped through my fingers, my tenacious grip failing as I slowed down my breath again to let him finish. When he was done I sat up, and began flapping my hands, rocking, and crying. Apologizing that I had Asperger’s and I just needed a minute.

And after a couple of minutes I lay back down, and let him finish his work for another hour. I walked home, put on the kettle, checked my dogs hadn’t destroyed our back yard, got a glass of water because tea felt it might be too hot, and cried.

I cried my heart out.

I’m a thirty seven year old woman and I’d just openly broke down in my dentist’s office.

But that wasn’t what I was crying about.

It hit me like a brick, a car, a freight train of thought clear and sudden as a shaft of sunlight in a storm.

I wasn’t ashamed.

I was crying because I’d had my melt down in front of strangers and it was okay.

For the last ten months I’d been alone. I spent four months unemployed due to the covid crisis and a new job falling through, writing while applying for jobs before I found one where I could work from home.

I live in Victoria Australia and our premier put us in harsh lock down restrictions to stop covid. I’ve rarely seen other faces that weren’t over the web, twice I’ve seen my husband’s family, and once two friends visited us. No co-workers, no family, nobody else.

But I did spend the last year coming to terms with my Aspergers in a better way than I had in the seven years since I first found out about it. I remember the big click for me was reading Asper Girls after my therapists’ diagnosis and thinking; yes. This is me.

Not everyone took the news well or with much understanding. Many refused to think that it mattered because I was mostly normal, or normal enough as long as I kept my mouth shut. What happened after my diagnosis was a few years of spiraling into a depression that nearly cost me my life. Nobody but my husband and family saw it as a real issue.

Because I was an adult you see; I had a job and could function normally.

No one saw me stim because I’d do it in private or in acceptable manners; clicking pens was a favourite, swinging an office chair from side to side rather than rocking. Any meltdowns were in the car driving home from work screaming until my throat was raw. Staying up too late, listening to the same song over and over at 2am and crying in the dark. I’d get up the next morning and go to work like none of it ever happened. Things I’d done to mask who I was all my life because they were habits already and provided I acted like an ‘adult’.

I wasn’t very good at it. At work in one place they called me “Wikipedia” for all my useless knowledge. I struggled to make friends and still only have a handful from university. I hate social situations and often drank through them just to stop feeling so fucking out of place all the time. It’s taken years to unlearn how to do this, how to undo so much of the behavior that was self-destructive and hurtful.

Then 2020 hit and I was alone.

And I’ve honestly never been happier.

I openly stim at home, have had more meltdowns this year, asked for compression hugs and become so familiar with my own boundaries in the safety of my home I can go outside without a mask (and for the Aspie inside I’ll clarify that the only mask I’m wearing now is the one on the outside of my face because covid).

I tell people new people I know that I have Aspergers, including for the first time my employer.

But having a minor meltdown at the dentist was the first time in public with strangers I didn’t know. Everyone was cool about it, the dentist left for a minute to let me breath, the nurse stuck around and got me water and tissues (she was so lovely about it), and they just accommodated me.

That won’t always happen. People will probably get unsettled, distance themselves, or refuse to take me serious or think I warrant the space. I’ll find myself leaving situations where I don’t feel safe; I know all this.

I’m holding onto my mask, but I’m choosing now when to put it on. It’s not sitting under my skin as the default lie I’ve lived my whole life. I’m not hiding who I am or what I think or how it affects the world around me.

That’s why I cried; because for the first time in my life I could be 100% me and not be ashamed of my behavior.

I can’t promise I’ll always feel like this, but if you do please know that you are not alone.

There are things we do to fit our amorphous shapes into the proverbial square holes, and much of it makes us extraordinarily unhappy.

This isn’t perfect, and it may not last, but its freeing in his own way. For the first time I feel like the person inside is okay I can work on the person outside, and my health and fitness, without being made to feel ashamed for being clumsy or unathletic. I don’t fit into boxes and wasn’t picked for teams but I know who I am and what I can and can’t do and for once, just this once, its OK.

I wanted to finish this blog post by saying; I get it if you can’t.

It’d be easy to gloss this over with some positive bullshit about “you be you” but it doesn’t always work like that and I know. I’ve been there, I’ll probably be there again one day. But I can tell you that coming to terms with it, to accept myself for who I am, was freeing.

If you can try, if you can’t… one day I hope you can let go, to have the space to be yourself. I’m wishing that so hard for you right now.

I wasn’t easy, or without trauma, but I do feel like a part of me for once has unclenched. I can just sit here, without a mask, and be me.

Stages of Nano

Madness! How can you do it? How are you even CONSIDERING jumping into the world of Nanowrimo? In this economy? With 2020 in flames around us? All the stress and pressure? The desperate, urgent need to pour a story out in a matter of days in a caffeinated slew of tropes mashed together from secret perverse fanfiction! The desire to grab the characters by their shirt fronts and fall into the abyss of words with a wine glass in one hand and a random name generator in the other! Madness! Madness, I say!!

… yeah, sounds like fun, doesn’t it?

GIF: Alice falling down the rabbit hole, waving goodbye

Nano is something I’ve done every year since about 2014, and I find that I win, and often its because I used the first few times to train myself to write, some of the tips of course being somewhat hairbrained (which is straight on brand). But amongst this fiasco month of friends, writing sprints, advice and dread, you can actually come out the other side with something salvageable. Often tear marked, but still!

GIF: Alice, girl in a blue dress, sitting in a jar, floating in water, saying “Oh I wish I hadn’t cried so much!”


With one week left to go until Nanowrimo starts, even a panster is going to be jerking their collar from their neck, fanning away the precursor sweat,  and at least have a starting point for the project. A dream, a poem, an image, a line in a book, a limerick, something!

GIF: Shrek, orgre from the movie of the same name, shrugging

Whatever you’ve got, run with it. Head for the hills like a vagabond wanted by the law. Escape convention with clichés, like a cat burglar in the night. Steal it like a forbidden kiss and take it somewhere secluded to ravish.

Chances are that it may need a bit of help, and at this point cheating is totally acceptable. Generators can be your friend but don’t be afraid to stick something simple to remember, and later on use the Control+F find and replace on most word friendly docs. This is a life saver, and you can come back to stuff later.


You did it! You wrote for like a day! It’s a whole five pages, that’s what I call progress for one day, that’s a lot of words, that’s-


GIF: man pushing computer off table

Okay, so that’s probably your first mistake. Don’t look at the word total. Yes, I know its important to update Nanowrimo’s website but if its putting too much pressure on you, don’t! Leave it for a couple of days, you don’t have to update it every day. I’d get to the latter part of Nano and just save updating for when I was done. By then I was usually so invested in the story the word count simply didn’t matter. I’d storm through it between writing sprints and just having a lark.

Also don’t put pressure to reach the 50k – just aim to write a little every day! Stephen King writes 2k a day, but with nano you only have to write just over 1666. Such an evil number. Coincidence? I think not!


Checklist and counting, we have a strong genre, nice settings, characters and their shenanigans; ha ha, what cute little devils! Now… where was it we were going with this? You don’t know? What do you mean you don’t know?! Well don’t look at me, I don’t know either, why didn’t you stop and ask for directions!?!! … that’s why you’re here, yep, my bad, I’m on it.

I’m a pantser, I’ve confessed to this before and I’ve written various blogs about doing it, dodging writer’s block to run away with the story. But sometimes you just can’t. The story is a trash fire and you have no idea what the characters are doing; two are making inappropriate lovey dovey eyes, one’s straight up a sarcastic shit (you know which one), and then there are some other wallflowers who were supposed to be robust characters but just fell… flat.

GIF: Eeyore, a stuffed toy donkey, bouncing through the air with a disappointed expression

For all the genuine tips of where you think the story is going, sometimes you need to step back, and let the characters show you. This creation is just a spark, it’s the hand held fizz stick that’s creeping down to your fingertips. You know you’re running out of time, its burning away just like the sparkles. Stop looking at how much is left, start looking at the light. That’s when it becomes a firework.

GIF: Katy Perry, woman in pale dress, with fireworks coming out of her chest, and going off in the background.


Write. Write like your life depends on it, write like the wind, write like the gobblegook of your 2am keyboard smashing is the prose of the celestials and all you need to do is write another goddamn word. JUST. ONE. MORE. Do it, do it, do it!!!

There is a sudden rush, once all the obstacles have passed, once we can’t kid ourselves any longer, and the twentieth day of the month has passed, and that’s really only a week left, and lets do the math that’s-

…wait, that’s nearly two weeks this year, that’s HEAPS of time!

GIF: Woman stating that everything is fine, whilst acting very anxiously.

Don’t do this to yourself. You’re only going to end up feeling like you need to do it in a huge rush in the final few days, stress yourself the fuck out, or feel like a huge failure when you can’t make your goal.

I mean, you can if you WANT to, you little masochist you…


There’s a reason agents dread December. It’s a tidal wave of caffeinated zombies holding sheafs of paper to their bodies, as close as a beloved child, weaving between the poles of Query tracker, muttering under their breaths that no one understands the great burden they carry, the gold they could give…

There is only so much glitter you can put on a turd.

GIF: Man, Jeff Goldblum, standing before a large pile of dung.


Go away. Decaffeinate. Lie down. Get more than four hours sleep. Have a nutritious meal with no sugar. Take a long hot shower. Read two books on the TBR pile. Have a valium- I mean a tic tac. No, really. Take two. Here’s a glass of water, you need to stay hydrated too!

You’ve got a script, and that’s good, and maybe it needs a bit of work… or to be completely rewritten.

There is a lot that goes into polishing a script to make it ready to submit or publish. There are critic partners and beta readers. They offer very helpful advice on where you might have completely missed in the story how much of a mess you’ve got left over in the post traumatic wake of Nanowrimo.

But that’s OK.

Because if they are a beta reader/critic partner worth their salt, they’ll help you down this rocky road towards publishing. Take some time off, leave the script until the next year, and then begin the processing of polishing it for those friends who will help you get there.

This is not a short journey. Take a deep breath, but above all take your time.

There is no one putting pressure on you but you. There is no one who cares more, which is why the only dictator on your timeline is you. Forget what you want to be, just start with what you need to do, one word, one day at a time. You can do it, I believe in you.

Beta Readers Beginnings

Sometimes it takes another person to tell you that your story… is simply wonderful.

Sometimes it takes another person to tell you that your story… is bloody awful.

But what is it that a Beta Reader does, how do they do it, and what really is the difference between them and the host of other people who can read your script?

After you’ve written a book, the first thing to do is for someone else to go over it – these are normally critic partners. They’re sometimes called alpha readers, as a reader before beta readers. They will go over the script in minute detail for you, to help with specific character goals and arcs, the plot to assist with any holes. They can break down the stories elements as far as developmental editors in order to assist getting it right.

A beta readers duties can be similar, can come later or earlier, but generally its later, after the majority of the work on the story itself has been done. They are there to immerse themselves as readers, and point out where they may fall out of the story to help eliminate any small errors.

The best value I’ve both given and received as a beta reader is to let my instincts guide me. I’ve worked on developing my skills as a beta reader in order to become a good critique partner. But if you haven’t tried it before then you can start with the following, and know that this is a learning process, it takes time, and can be instrumental in helping with your own writing.

  1. Use Comments

First impressions matter and its not just the opening sentence of the novel. Its how you tackle what is wrong. The best way to do that is to use the comments section in word as a preferred method. Or the same function in Google docs. Whatever program your text file is in, adding comments is the best way to put in feedback.

Picture: Snapshot of Word Ribbon Menu with a red box around “Review” & “New Comment”

Go to the review section of Word, and find the comments function. You can also find track changes here, but I don’t generally make changes to the text, I’m not there to edit. Some people will edit it for you, just be sure they know to track the changes so you can agree to them or not.

You may not know how to fix what is tripping up that particular problem in the script but you can present what the problem is using this function with the most amount of ease. It also gives the opportunity for the original writer to look objectively at your note alongside the exact sentence you’ve highlighted with the comment section. Form there you’re better able to display why the section might not be quite right.

2. What to Say

Most people don’t want to hear the BAD stuff. Learning to phrase the comments so they can add to the writer’s experience is important. You’re helping them fix it, not just pointing out where their script may be flawed.

But how to do that?

I take what triggered me to stop being emersed in the story and remember that I’m here to help the writer reach out to the reader.

Asking these questions both of yourself and the writer is integral to helping in fixing these errors.

Should the character have this reaction? When previously they’ve acted like X. Perhaps have them say something more in the vein of Y, to better suit their previous persona. For example, they can pull this face, or say instead this sentence…

I thought before that the plot was doing Z? If we add this here then it needs to be amended before to make sure to include the new facets of Z’s information. Or maybe you could Y, because Y ties in nicely with the other part of character’s development.

Have you thought about the consequences of A’s actions to B’s character? A was pretty awful to them, I don’t know if I was B if I’d let A say something like that, or get away with it. If B just accepts what A’s done then they’re pretty much a doormat and I didn’t get that from their personality before.

A way to present the critique isn’t just about being harsh or complimentary, its about phrasing it I such a way that gives the write a chance to build from there. To find the answer that suits their goals for the story.

3. How to get Beta Readers

I’ve found quite a few people willing to read my work through Twitter, but its by no means the only source. You can go to writing forums, facebook groups, writing groups, discord channels. It’s a scary thing to reach out to someone, but being willing to reciprocate by offering up your work for critique is a good way to start.

Most people will start by talking about what genre they are writing, what age group, and the general themes of their story. They will move on to maybe a one line pitch, or short blurb about what the story is about to gauge both your interest in their work, and then you’ll need to reciprocate to ensure they want to read yours.

After that you can look at swapping one or two chapters, and its important at this point that a friendly dialogue has been built upon to be sure that you aren’t giving away your ideas or thoughts to someone who may try to steal your work.

Please be aware that some people will want disclaimers or have precursors to sharing. Swapping just the first chapter demonstrates what they will offer your script, and the chance to show them how you can help them too. But above all you need to be sure you trust the person you are giving your work to, which is why its good to become friends with them first.

4. When it’s too much

Giving detailed feedback is hard, especially when books are so long.

A good way in order to lessen the expectation on someone to read your work is to offer to read the first few chapters. Both of you make comments, and then give them back. This can become difficult based on where you are working at different stages of your learning how to be a good beta reader. If you’re with a veteran writer you can learn a lot. If you are a beginner yourself, you can try and emulate them.

But as new writers, regardless of where you are at in your journey, sometimes it may not be a great use of your time. I often found if I was adding more than ten comments a page that I couldn’t do it to the whole script, what they needed was closer to a developmental edit, or critic partner. I’d just offer my feedback on the first 5k words or so and show them some of the tones they could apply to the whole script to help them. Some writers can learn a lot from just that and apply it.

It’s when you are presented or expected to read a whole book when the writer is not only new to the craft, but either thinks their work doesn’t need any improving, or is unwilling to do the work you need to ask yourself if moving forward with the beta reading relationship will be worth your investment. It can be unpleasant when this happens, both to you and by you, and the best thing to do is be kind, polite, but above all professional.

Don’t forget, you are probably spending time you could use on your own work, and if the relationship isn’t mutual and working well together you may want to reconsider whether you keep moving forward.

5. The MOST important thing

Find where a writer does well and POINT IT OUT.

We all live with such soul crushing doubt of our abilities, its never more critical to add genuine reactions in the comments section. To squeal with excitement at first kisses, to cuss in the sidelines when the nemesis comes along. To swoon over beautiful settings and turns of phrases.

There is something incredible about walking through a beta readers feedback and finding these comments. I like to think of them as cookies, and explain that to people I am beta reading for.

This also helps them take on the more negative or critical aspects of your commentary, allowing you both to move forward with the story and to see it to its end. I remember the first time I started working with a developmental editor, counting how many developmental comments he made in total. It was a complete bummer when it was hundreds of things that needed improving.

Once I started tackling it, finding times he was completely wrapt up in the text and loving it was the motivation I needed to move forward.

Remember that you are reviewing someone’s love. A piece of themselves they have fought to have time to spend on, only to get stuck, retry, come back, delete, rewrite, and antagonize over. They have poured parts of themselves into these pages and they are trusting you to take care of them.

Be gentle, be kind, be helpful, but know that the most important thing you can do is be honest. No one develops or grows from feedback that is nothing but compliments. As hard as it may be that’s the trust they are giving you, that you will be honest, and help them make their story the bet it can be.

Ah… advertising. What a hideous beast of fallibility that eats nothing but money and occasionally defecates a spike in sales. How on earth are you supposed to wrangle such a creature?

Honestly, take tentative steps until you find something that works for you.

I’ve spoken before about the basics of advertising but it never ceases to amaze me how many people don’t do these things. Start there because it helps prepare you for the next phase, where you will need to start paying a bit more, and this is where it can really hurt your wallet but also your expectations. It can be a daunting task when you’re self publishing so I recommend a quick stop here to ascertain if its for you.

Are we good? You’ve got a grasp on the fundamentals. Now what?

After all the other fees associated with publishing a good book, the forefront of which is usually editing for those of us self publishing, (and no less important), it’s a bit of an ask to then state; pay MORE money.

… except you don’t always have to. There are sites out there that will advertise your books for free, provided the books are free. I am not listing them here because there are many, and they are very genre specific. Instead I’ll stick to paid sources for the time being.

  1. Where you can advertise

The source, the actual link, the places where most bloggers hint at concrete links and then… poof. Nothing.

If you google “advertising ebook” you come up with a hundred thousand million trillion sites offering to advertise your book to thousands of social media follows that consistently begs the question; “is it worth it?”

You have to figure that out for yourself but here are the ones I’ve used in the past with mixed success;

Butterfly Books – I did not feel like I got my money’s worth here, but I got a deal based on a few recommendations from fellow self publishers.

Fussy Librarian – The last time I used them was a couple of years ago but I plan to use them again because it was very good.

Ask David – Very good last time, but its changed a bit since I last used it.

Books Go Social – I cannot recommend these guys enough, they have a variety of advertising options, including NetGalley deals which is a GREAT way to start getting reviews. They have a range of packages and a very professional attitude.

SOOP – I’ve had mixed success with these guys in the past.

Bookbub – I haven’t done one of these yet, and I do plan to, but they are VERY pricey. The consensus is that they are worth it but after you have a stack of reviews on your book.

Facebook Ads – Mixed success. For my first books series for fantasy/steampunk I did fine, but for a recent ad series for QoS it was very… meh.

Amazon Ads – I have yet to do this, but I seriously recommend you take some of the many free courses floating around on how to do it because with all Amazons little rules it can trip you up, and its done it to me in the past too.

Using these services usually requires discounted or free books but it’s a good way to get the numbers up on your sales, and also to see if you can’t get some reviews too. Many sites will demand you have reviews a well – and to a certain level of quality too. This can be hard but finding people to review your work isn’t impossible.

2. Other sources

I’ve waxed on about the Alliance of Independent Authors being a damn amazing place, but they have a book of resources that speak for themselves, not just on how to find advertisers, but how to find EVERYTHING you need to self publish;

This book is absolute chock full of really good resources I have trusted and used before, and they’re held up to the standards of ALLI meaning you know you can trust them too. If anything goes astray its worth telling ALLI about it as well.

3. Patience – and a book every six months

Damn – after those other two points was this supposed to be the miracle one, isn’t it??

Well it fucking is, and this is how many of the authors swanning around twitter will tell you they can write full time. Its how many erotic authors do the same thing. They write a niche, they release regularly, they keep feeding the voracious appetites of their readers.

See, there is a broad and wide chasm of writing styles and tone. No, I’m not talking about editing which fixes words, or dev editing which fixes plots. Just regular writing.

You have quite a indepth series of prose on a book about a woman finding herself in an emotional journey of self healing after the death of her spouse. It can be deep. Intense. Soul searching and heart wrenching.

But on the flip side you have your light romances, your bodice rippers as my mother calls them, but I’ll stick in my own generations obsession with paranormal romance. I’m not there to be dragged into epic prose. I’m there for witty banter, high stakes and hot couples.

In fantasy you can have epic sweeping tales that go into lavish detail of world building, landscape, history, tone and feeling.

…or you could just pick up a Terry Pratchett and laugh yourself sick while learning a deep lesson.

The tone of books is about WHAT you want to write, which is vastly different from person to person. You certainly do not have to write and publish a book every six months if you don’t want to. Even a year works for many people. But that’s still a long time to make it a full time career.

You need to decide what you want to get out of it, first and foremost. And the only person who can decide that is you.

The only advice I can give you is this – don’t put in more than you can afford. Time, money, energy, slivers of your soul. Ask yourself what giving them away to the void is going to cost you before you let go. Because there are no guarantees in this industry, no magic bullet, special sword, or potential potion you can take. There is just the ever present hope that someone enjoys the tales you tell.

Lies & book trailers

I don’t like promoting myself.

Let’s not kid ourselves.

We’re asking someone, probably a stranger, to buy our stuff. Like us cause of this shiny thing here.

I have this SWEET new book trailer for Queen of Spades!

Awakening is on sale for 99 cents, & its on KDP!!

Darkening comes out next week, and soon, VERY SOON, I will have hard copies!!!

Why is it so hard to promote ourselves then when there is so much to be proud of?

I want the results of promoting; people to buy my book. But its a very different step between putting your book out there and putting yourself out there. Crossing those hurdles is hard and I keep lying to myself about why I don’t do it. Why is that? When we are so proud is it so hard to say; hey, buy my book, its kind of awesome.

If you needed a taste of it, here it is on Netgalley as well. There are already a few very nice five star reviews. Cool right?

Even people on Goodreads think its pretty good!

Why is it so freaking difficult to be pleased with myself at this point in time? To say to you, a stranger, that you might like this book I wrote and right now its super cheap.

Because we care too much about the results and the fear of failure isn’t just about having accomplished all of this, but that it goes nowhere. We all want books finished, with agents, published, mass buying, film deals, someone to call me darling and peel my grapes.

But what we mostly want to be told is we did good. We are filled with so much self doubt as we wade the murky waters of what success looks like, and how we value both ourselves and our work. Most of us who’ve been in this industry a while realize that the best thing you can get out of a book is that someone enjoyed it. We know not everyone will like it, maybe for very good reasons or very dumb reasons but its the inherent fear of why try asking for someone to buy it when we could fail.

How that defines us as people and what we place of self value, not on good or bad reviews but on… nothing. It’d be better to hear the faults than have no response at all. That’s what we fear. That it’s not just a potentially bad review – but that it just dies a slow death of indifference.

When the concept of a sliver of our souls might be ignored, its hard to say to someone these simple words;

I wrote this book. It’s a part of me. Could you read the first bit – tell me if you like it if you have the time too, but its cool if you don’t. I just hope you can check it out, and if you do that you enjoy your time.


That was really hard. But if you have the time, I’d appreciate it if you got my book.

There I said it.

So… have you read it yet?

My Fictional Oasis

Book Details

Format: E-Book, 252 pages
Publication: October 1, 2021 by Literary Wanderlust
Synopsis: Can she keep the secrets of her past to rescue a girl tormented by a ghost?
In 1920s Los Angeles, Letitia Hawking reads the veil between life and death. A scrying bowl allows her to experience the final moments of the deceased. She brings closure to grief-stricken war widows and mourning families.
For Letitia, it is a penance. She knows no such peace.
For Alasdair Driscoll, it may be the only way to save his niece, Finola, from her growing night terrors. But when Letitia sees a shadowy figure attached to the household, it rouses old fears of her unspeakable past in England.
When a man comes to her about his missing daughter, the third girl to go missing in as many months, Letitia can’t help him when she can’t see who’s taken…

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A stunning and heartwarming review of Behind the Veil!

Cover to Cover

Find book blitz info and participants with all the wonderful reviews and content HERE

58445984._sy475_Can she keep the secrets of her past to rescue a girl tormented by a ghost?

In 1920s Los Angeles, Letitia Hawking reads the veil between life and death. A scrying bowl allows her to experience the final moments of the deceased. She brings closure to grief-stricken war widows and mourning families.
For Letitia, it is a penance. She knows no such peace.

For Alasdair Driscoll, it may be the only way to save his niece, Finola, from her growing night terrors. But when Letitia sees a shadowy figure attached to the household, it rouses old fears of her unspeakable past in England.

When a man comes to her about his missing daughter, the third girl to go missing in as many months, Letitia can’t help him when she can’t see who’s taken them.

As a…

View original post 1,214 more words

Meghan's Haunted House of Books

Behind the Veil
Can she keep the secrets of her past to rescue a girl tormented by a ghost?

In 1920s Los Angeles, Letitia Hawking reads the veil between life and death. A scrying bowl allows her to experience the final moments of the deceased. She brings closure to grief-stricken war widows and mourning families.
For Letitia, it is a penance. She knows no such peace.

For Alasdair Driscoll, it may be the only way to save his niece, Finola, from her growing night terrors. But when Letitia sees a shadowy figure attached to the household, it rouses old fears of her unspeakable past in England.

When a man comes to her about his missing daughter, the third girl to go missing in as many months, Letitia can’t help him when she can’t see who’s taken them.

As a darkness haunts Letitia’s vision, she may not be given a…

View original post 181 more words

Visiting Meghan’s Haunted blog today for the launch of Behind the Veil!

Meghan's Haunted House of Books

Behind the Veil
Chapter 3

It was cold when they kicked him out of the pub. Joseph only wanted to buy a bottle to take home. They hadn’t sold it to him after he vomited in the gentlemen’s. But tonight, of all nights, he needed it.

Just like every other night, really.

The rain drenched him, but he didn’t care.

All he wanted was a drink.

He didn’t want to see his family, sitting around the table praising his brother John for the promotion at the bank. Declining the inner invitation, Joseph had made excuses before John’s mocking laughter caught him at the door.

“Let him go, mother, he’s tight already.”

Joseph had proven to himself that his level of sobriety was nigh on angelic then, compared to what he was now. The world swam, and he struggled even to see in the dreary night.

He was lost.

The streets…

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