Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Getting your teeth into Sara Dobie Bauer

This is the wonderful cover of Bite Somebody and here is the interview with the author, Sara Dobie Bauer:

1. When writing, do you prefer seclusion, or a packed house?
Seclusion and silence. I know writers who can work while listening to music. That’s just insane to me. Oh, and I talk to myself when I write—a lot. It would be super weird for me to write in public, having long conversations with myself while using different voices.

2. What author, and their work, influenced you to become a writer?
Since I’ve been writing since elementary school, I guess we need to go pretty far back. I’d say RL Stine. I loved the conflict, adventure, and terror of his books. Sometimes, he’d even sneak a bit of teenage romance in there. I lived in his books. I spent a lot of time in my own imagination, as well. Fusing the two probably created the creative monster I’ve become, hidden away in my second floor office window where I quietly stalk my neighbors.

3. Besides stare at Benjamin Cumberbatch, what do you like to do when not writing?
I spend a lot of time staring at Cumberbatch. I also stare at my husband, but he gets weirded out after awhile. When I’m not writing, I’m probably reading, singing, or watching scary movies. (I love scary movies.) I also love singing the blues. Years of cigarettes and booze have given me a wonderful little rasp.

4. How much of what you write came from a real life experience? Example?
Well, Bite Somebody is very real to me because it’s based on a real place. Every year, my aunt and I take “the pilgrimage” to Longboat Key, Florida. When not baking on the beach, we drink cheap beer at a smoky bar called The Drift Inn—a locale that plays an important role in Bite Somebody. Other than setting (I’ve used both Charleston and Phoenix in stories ad infinitum because I lived in both those places), there isn’t too much real-life stuff in my work. I have a very, very active imagination. It’s very loud in my brain.

5. Who is your favorite book character? One from your books, and one from someone else’s book.
The love interest in Bite Somebody, Ian Hasselback, is one of the favorite characters I’ve ever written because he’s just so blissfully sweet, innocent, and sexy. A favorite character from someone else’s book would be The Book Thief’s Liesel Meminger. A little girl who saves books from being burnt in Nazi Germany? That’s my kind of girl.

6. I need a Bite Somebody character for each, preferably different ones, If real, what character would you:
Have a drink with? Imogene, because she’s a bad ass.
Sleep with?
Ian, because he’s gorgeous and very, very good in bed.
Push off a balcony? Dr. Savage, because she’s snooty … although she’d live because she’s a vampire.

Here is a little bit about the author:
Sara Dobie Bauer is a writer, model, and mental health advocate with a creative writing degree from Ohio University. She spends most days at home in her pajamas as a book nerd and sex-pert for Her short story, “Don’t Ball the Boss,” was nominated for the 2015 Pushcart Prize, inspired by her shameless crush on Benedict Cumberbatch. She lives with her hottie husband and two precious pups in Northeast Ohio, although she would really like to live in a Tim Burton film. She is the author of Life without Harry, Forever Dead, and Wolf Among Sheep. World Weaver Press will publish her novel, BITE SOMEBODY, summer of 2016. Read more at

And a little something about Bite Somebody:
“Do you want to be perfect?”

That’s what Danny asked Celia the night he turned her into a vampire. Three months have passed since, and immortality didn’t transform her into the glamorous, sexy vamp she was expecting but left her awkward, lonely, and working at a Florida gas station. On top of that, she’s a giant screw-up of an immortal, because the only blood she consumes is from illegally obtained hospital blood bags.

What she needs to do–according to her moody vampire friend Imogene–is just … bite somebody. But Celia wants her first bite to be special, and she has yet to meet Mr. Right Bite. Then, Ian moves in next door. His scent creeps through her kitchen wall and makes her nose tingle, but insecure Celia can’t bring herself to meet the guy face-to-face.

When she finally gets a look at Ian’s cyclist physique, curly black hair, and sun-kissed skin, other parts of Celia tingle, as well. Could he be the first bite she’s been waiting for to complete her vampire transformation? His kisses certainly have a way of making her fangs throb.

Just when Celia starts to believe Ian may be the fairy tale ending she always wanted, her jerk of a creator returns to town, which spells nothing but trouble for everyone involved.

Yours Sinceriously,

Chris Smolinski


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Wednesday, 24 February 2016

A Drifter comes to town: Tales of a Receding Hairline by K.W. Peery - Review

Acoustic guitar.  Check.  Harmonica, bottle neck and scotch on the rocks.  Check.  Tall stool centre stage, dimmed lights and a thin layer of smoke drifting before the stage – lean into the microphone “check one two”, clear the throat.  And so we begin.

K.W. Peery’s Tales of a Receding Hairline has a very unique feel to it.  This collection isn’t the classic idea of poetry, there is an atmosphere to the book similar to that you would find in a blues bar somewhere in America’s Deep South.  It is a collection written in the hand of experience, and definitely betrays his long relationship with music.  In short, if I didn’t already know through my research that Peery is a prolific lyricist and music producer, I would have guessed after the first couple of poems.  So let us set something straight.

If you are looking for classic literary devices, if you are the sort of poetry fan who is interested in form, enjambment, and recognised poetic techniques, then you will be looking in the wrong place. But let us not mistake this for bad poetry.  For a minute let us all suspend our expectations of what a poem looks like.  For a little while, forget how high-brow poetry enthusiasts tell you a poem should read.  Just get to your drinks cabinet and pour yourself a Jack on the rocks and enjoy.

Peery has smashed the tropes of the genre.  Deliberately forgoing contemporary use of punctuation to control the pace, and reverted back to the classical idea of capitalising the beginnings of lines.  You won’t be more than two pieces into the collection before you recognise the concept.  This is a set of lyrics, taken from the mouth of a musician.  This is the lessons learned on the road, the drugs, the booze, the women.  Peery gives us a drifter with a guitar telling us his life, and although at first glance you may question his form, it won’t take you long to realise that this concept is very clever.

His use of repetition and stanza length are reminiscent of a 12 bar blues loop, from his first poem ‘Alone’ to ‘Hunted’ and many more, you realise the benefit of not having the pace controlled by over use of grammar.  You can listen to these poems at your own chugging pace.  The soft idiolect used through the piece, you will only think of a husky American singer breathing his tales into a silver microphone.  There isn’t a collection like this, and it may be a long time before you read one again.

It isn’t clear exactly who this poetry collection would be for.  I can imagine it raising a few eyebrows in some literary circles, and perhaps as poetry, some people would doubt its literary value.  I think for the first time in a while, this is a collection that is accessible to everyone, and us perhaps more aimed at lovers of music, as opposed to lovers of literature.  The more I read it, the more I wonder if my parents would like it.  Neither of them poetry fans, but both of them appreciate American music.  So I have come to that conclusion.  Peery has released an album, just in literary form.

And so…

Sit back, watch the drifter pick his beaten old six string and sling it across his knee.  There is poetry about to happen.  There is music between these covers.

Or you could just by Tales of a Receding Hairline  on Amazon.

Yours tapping his feet

Adam Ward

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Tuesday, 8 December 2015

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

Mark Twain’s, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, looks at the racial and moral world through the eyes of the protagonist Huck, exploring the relationship between Huck and Jim and their journey to freedom along the Mississippi River. T. S. Eliot opens his 'Critical Essay' on Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by declaring that it 'is the only one of Mark Twain's various books which can be called a masterpiece'.

T. S. Eliot marks ‘the Boy and the River’ as the most significant features of Huckleberry Finn within his essay, ‘An Introduction to Huckleberry Finn’. He states that these two elements, which when treated with ‘sensibility and his [Twain’s] experience formed a great book.’ The boy is used to narrate the story, with the unfolding events presented through his eyes, and by doing so Twain does not force Huck’s thoughts and opinions onto the reader, Huck simply observes the world and accepts the world for what it is and what it inflicts. The River holds great significance over the novel and has the power to control the journey of Huck and Jim. The River has the power to deter Jim from his freedom in Cairo and to separate Huck and Jim before reuniting them later in the novel. The River signifies the power of nature and the weakness of man. 

Mark Twain: 30th November 1835 - 21st April 1910

Eliot discusses how ‘It is Huck, who gives the book style’ by presenting the book through Huck’s eyes. Twain creates a narrative that discusses the events with a natural, boyish flow that comes only with a character that is aware, reflective and true to themselves. Without the placement of Huck as the narrator and main character the story would be a great deal less effective and the underlying themes of the novel would be lost. Eliot characterises the role of the boy, Huck, in the adventure, as the boy that Mark Twain still was, unlike Tom Sawyer who was the boy that Mark Twain had been. (Eliot, Introduction p. 329) Eliot describes Huck as being an ‘impassive observer’ who ‘does not interfere, and […] does not judge.’ (Eliot, Introduction p. 330) This makes for a change in narrative as previously the narrator had some sway within the text.

The relationship that exists between Jim and Huck is a key theme throughout the novel as both characters are victims of an unjust society and relate to one another as outsiders. The relationship between the two is viewed by Eliot as one of co-dependency. Eliot states that ‘Huck in fact would be incomplete without Jim […] they are equal in dignity.’ (Eliot, Introduction p. 331) Huck is not allowed to act as a boy would and find joy within his practical joke on Jim but has to bear the responsibility of a man. At a time when Jim would be considered less than an animal, this shows the intensity of the relationship between Jim and Huck. Huck presents a more evolved child character as he is more aware of the world around him, allowing for a more grown up perspective of the real world, a world which Jim has experienced and been personally victimised by. This creates a deeper understanding between the two companions and highlights the problematic society of the time. 

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Mark Twain
The significance of the landscape through which these figures journey is that the River actually manipulates and controls every situation. It is the River that decides where Huck and Jim shall go and it is the River that leads Huck on his adventure. Additionally, as Eliot states, Huck is ‘also the spirit of the River.’ (Eliot, Introduction p. 333) He seems to have no beginning or end, and he, like the River is experienced by the reader than just viewed or acquainted with. ‘It is Huck who gives the book style. The River gives the book its form.’ Elliot makes it clear that there is an obvious connection between the River and the landscape, with the River being a strong influence over the progression of Huck’s and Jim’s journey. The natural influences determine where the companions end up as it can often be unpredictable and unruly. ‘The River is never wholly chartable: it changes pace, it shifts its channel, unaccountably; it may suddenly efface a sandbar and throw up another bar where before was navigable water.’ The River is the determiner of their success and strays them on a course unknown.

With modern readings focusing solely on the issues of race and slavery within this novel, it is easy to dismiss the importance of the other aspects such as close relationship with Jim and Huck, where the former acts as a paternal figure to the latter. Issues of race are closely intertwined with the relationship between the pair however this soon progresses into something more, something held closely to humanity rather than a difference in appearance. Additionally, the importance of the River may also be lost on the reader, if the sole focus is placed upon race, however with close reading and analysis it is clear how all of these aspects link with one another in order to combine the tropes of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

Yours adventurously,
Sadia Parveen.

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Taking a final bow

The first time I walked into the Labour Cub in Northampton I thought I’d been taken to the wrong place. I thought it was derelict. It turns out it wasn’t. It was tatty, it was unloved, but it brimmed with insanity, creativity and warmth. This was my first open mic night. I had spoken in front of hundreds of people from large stages, but tonight it was me and my writing, performing for a polite and giving audience. Somehow I got something right because I made one of the hosts, Justin Thyme, laugh so much he knocked over his beer. This was not going to be a one night stand.

I came back month after month. The second, or third time, I attended we went to Delapre Abbey and spoke poetry around afire and then under the stars. I had had a really tough day, but that warmth, appreciation and friendship moved me. I had found another way to express myself and to learn.

Tonight (Wednesday 2nd December 2015) ‘Raising the Awen’ looks like it is coming to an end. So many people have shared their words from the stage, bathed in psychedelic lights, swamped in applause, drowned in alcohol fuelled anarchy and in those moments found clarity, found purpose, shared pain, love, laughter and confusion and in the past 18 months or so it is a place that I have always felt at home. I am not a bohemian, a tree hugger, a socialist or a schizophrenic. My politics differ from many. My ambitions don’t gel with some, but here is where we all find our family.

The love of words. The expressions of love. Of hate. Of frustration. Of hope. Of wonder. Where the shy become the confident and where the confident question their logic. We write and we spout, we swear and we curse. We have eaten together, drank together, smoked together. Hugged together and we have found the most intense comradeship together.

Tonight we will stand on the stage and express as we always have done. From our hearts. From the depth of our soul and we will celebrate the most intense form of love for each other in the sharing of our words. Ernest Hemingway said it best when he said “Writing is easy. You sit at a typewriter and bleed.”

The technology may have changed, but that desire to spill words from our hearts into others minds remains powerful and necessary. We conquer our fears by climbing the stage and speaking into a microphone. We risk rejection and yet always climb back down the steps with applause in our ears and passion in our hearts.

Wherever you may be, speaking at open mics across the country, think of us tonight (or when you read this) as the final curtain comes down and we evolve into something more powerful, but with less love. We become the wandering minstrels, the chosen ones of the word, the givers of poetry and spoken word. The lovers of free speech, of liberty, of laughter, of love. The Awen may not be raised again, but we were raised within it.

Yours passionately

Andy Gibney

Saturday, 28 November 2015

Crushed by Denise Greenwood: Interview

I was lucky enough to be able to interview Denise Greenwood about her latest novel, Crushed. She was kind enough to let me interrogate her with a heap of questions, so many thanks! Full details of Denise Greenwood and Crushed are available down below. Crushed is already out in Ireland and will be released as an e-Book via Kindle, Nook and Kobo etc. It is due for release in the UK during early 2016.

Denise Greenwood
Can you tell me a little about yourself and your background?

I was born and raised in Blackpool but then lived and worked in Manchester for a number of years where I was drawn to the theatre, comedy clubs and culture scene. I now live with my husband Jerry and son Rees in a hamlet in Littleborough. It is on the fringe of an old Lancashire mill-town at the western slopes of the South Pennines. After a long career as a Policy Development Manager for a major UK retailer I turned my skills from technical material to writing fiction in 2010. I use my unconventional life experiences and love of psychology to create characters and stories to push the boundaries of fiction. My first two books Temptation and Star Keeper are contemporary literature which attracted full page features in Northern Life and Style Magazines but after writing my first two books I was drawn to my darker side and wrote a dark and chilling thriller. Although it was initially an exploration I now find it is where I belong so I am currently working on my next novel.

What were you like at school? Did you always plan on becoming an author?

When we first moved to Manchester I offered to sing a song in front of the class. My Irish roots taught me that bursting into song was second- nature. I later penned and presented a short play and chose two of my friends to act in it with me. I also remember as a small child sitting on a window ledge and reading a book which I became lost in. I still remember my wish - that one day I could write something that would make others feel as I did at that exact moment. When I was an adult I occasionally thought about my wish but it was merely a pipe-dream. Then, in 2009 while sat on a church pew, I was struck with an idea which I couldn’t shake off for weeks. In an effort to get the idea out of my head and onto paper I unleashed a hidden side of me that I’d forgotten about. I became that small child once again and I knew that wishes, no matter how old they are, mustn’t be ignored. I jokingly refer to that year as my “mid-life crisis.”

What types of books do you tend to read?

I have eclectic tastes and it depends on my mood. My first passion is the English Classics. I want to become lost in the world of yesteryear and the lives of characters that face adversity. I also enjoy lighter, more modern reading, particularly the tales of people who move abroad and then become immersed in a new way of life. I have a system – I read something heavy then move onto light.

Which writers inspire you?

Hardy, Dickens and Brontë because they bring together characters whose strengths are often hidden until they are challenged. Their individual stories become part of a bigger picture. Robert M Pirsig because he delves deep into the psyche then entices the reader to join him in his quest to answer life’s big questions. Often, the writer’s life interests me – what made them take up a pen.

What is your favourite quote?

“Tell me what company thou keepest, and I’ll tell thee what thou art” – Don Quixote PY11 Ch23 – Cervantes.

How would you describe your personal writing style?

Visual – I vividly visualise my characters and the scenes they are in. I carry them around in my head for months before I begin to write and it is almost like replaying a film. The words I use are like paint on an artist’s brush and I try to use them to convey the scene I have in my head.

What are your ambitions for Crushed?

I hope that my characters will stay with readers so that they find themselves thinking about them long after they have finished reading. As I visualised my book so strongly I know that Crushed would also make a good TV or film adaptation.

Crushed is unlike any other book that I have read previously, where did you get the inspiration to write it?

I was watching a TV programme, Once Upon a Time, and it was Robert Carlyle, who was playing Rumpelstiltskin, in a unique way. At that moment I remembered running along a street as fast as I could. I was seven years old and returning from my first school play. Rumpel had frightened me. As I watched the TV I wondered what had made Rumpel such a twisted character and although the TV programme tried to explain it, it wasn’t enough for me. What if there didn’t have to be a traumatic event to change a person? What if just the experience of one moment of weird emotion connected the person to unnatural inclinations? I then thought of a boy who had lived near me. He had been my friend briefly before he’d moved away. He was an odd and sometimes scary boy. I wondered what he would have been like if I’d known him as a teen and then an adult. My two memories gave birth to my protagonist.

Are there any true elements within Crushed? Maybe characters that bear similarities to people who you may know or maybe even the setting?

The setting is in Halifax, a short train journey from where I live. All the scenes in my book are based on places I have been to but I make them bigger than life and adapt them for my characters. I’m a keen observer and people-watch so many of my characters contain small elements of something I’ve observed in a person, whether I know them or not. I like small details such as a way of walking or a brief facial expression as they often betray an inner emotion.

Crushed - Denise Greenwood
How long did it take for you to complete Crushed?

I nurtured my ideas and imagined possible outcomes for a long while before putting together an outline based on the images I saw. Often being in a new place triggered something and so I returned to that place and took photos, notes and spoke to people before I began my research. It took roughly six months to get Crushed into my head clearly before I began writing and then it took just three to write it. However, Crushed wasn’t complete until I had gone through it for re-writes and finalised its flow and order. This took another three.

Did you ever feel like giving up whilst writing this book? If so, what pushed you to continue?

I never lost heart. Crushed was a part of me and I was driven to write it. My characters pushed me to continue. Writing Crushed was one of the most pleasurable but disturbing experiences of my life.

Was there a personal reason that you chose the colour red as the hair of the girls? Of course there are many connotations of red with blood and love but did you have a specific reason yourself for choosing it?

In the days of black and white movies female roles were easy to fathom – blondes were good and sweet, brunettes were often the villains or not to be trusted. When colour was introduced, the red-heads were sirens and feisty. On a more personal note, I have natural black hair but sometimes in bright sunshine one copper-red hair stands out. People have plucked one from my head and marvelled. I put it down to my Irish roots. I knew that my female protagonist had to have a hair colour that would make her instantly stand out from a crowd.

I’m strangely drawn towards Barrington. Did you intend for his character to become a Byronic hero of sorts?

It is the moody, weird and sometimes scary people that we remember most. I deliberately didn’t want to explain why Barrington was unique, it was down to the reader to decide but, I also wanted the reader to question what they thought of him. When he meets his perfect victim he is totally unprepared for what he experiences. It is foreign to him. Romance is not a word I would use for what develops as it is too strange for that description. A unique relationship is forged between two unique characters. Barrington appeals to the darker side and the journey into it should be taken lightly. I still question myself about him and his appeal – magnetic or weird?

What inspired the character of Judith, your antagonist?

Judith is an amalgamation of all the people I've met who take up a job or cause then corrupt it. She also has a perspective often seen in attention-seekers. They thrive on drama and twist their interpretations of what they see and hear then interject their opinions or selves with the assumption that they're doing good.

Did you have to conduct a lot of research when writing Crushed?

Research was part of my six-month process before I began writing. Not only did I research places thoroughly, I also asked medical experts about some of the scenes I had planned so that I could confirm the information I’d researched online. Small details also take time to research, such as the simple experiment of freezing Brazil nuts then cracking them so that the sound they make is similar to that of a small bone breaking.

The ending is not something that I would have imagined. How did you decide upon it?

When I’ve created my characters in my head then their story often presents itself to me. I see the ending first then I work backwards. Often when I’ve nearly completed a book I realise that the ending I’d first envisaged is not the true ending at all. As the characters and the story evolved I’m led to an extended conclusion. I always knew how I wanted Crushed to end but I do not like parcels that are neatly tied with a bow at the end. Just as when I watched an actor playing Rumpel on TV, I wanted more than a simple conclusion as life is not like that so I didn’t succumb to simplicity.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Write from the heart and forget the fact that someone else will read your work. You began writing for a reason, what was that reason? What part of you does writing reach or expose? Your instincts will tell you when you have finished. Then, go out to meet the professionals who are the gatekeepers to the publishing industry and listen to what they have to say.

Describe your story in one sentence.

A chance encounter with a young woman challenges a killer’s patience, rigid perspective and strict lifestyle as he struggles to maintain his façade but, is his perfect victim all what she seems?

Do you have anything to add about your writing process, Crushed, or anything in general that I have not asked?

At first writing was a personal experiment to see if I could do it but once I began, it released a Kraken. I realised that the “extraordinary” is to be found in every aspect of one’s life. I am constantly amazed by people who live ordinary lives and yet have strange perspectives. During recent years I’ve seen people create drama in their lives as a form of compensation for being so ordinary and as a writer it is manna from heaven.

Contact information for Denise Greenwood:

Twitter: @DeniseGauthor

Yours weekly,
Sadia Parveen.

Crushed by Denise Greenwood: Review

Crushed is the third novel written by author Denise Greenwood. As a thriller, Crushed is a shift away from Denise Greenwood’s first two books Temptation and Star Keeper which are contemporary fiction. Denise Greenwood stated, ‘After writing my first two books I was drawn to my darker side and although it was initially an exploration I now find it is where I belong.’ She is currently working on a new novel as well as promoting the release of Crushed.

Crushed is available in Ireland, however it will be released in the UK early into 2016. Nonetheless, it will become available as an e-Book for Kindle, Nook, Kobo etc. over the coming few weeks. When I was given the opportunity to read Crushed for review, I jumped at the chance to delve into this psychological thriller. I was not disappointed either, this novel was a delight to read and I found it to be a welcoming change from the usual university readings that I have to do. Usually, I do not have much time to read anything else however I was determined to read Crushed.

The novel begins by introducing the protagonist, Barrington, who seems unlike many typical fictional characters. The novel progresses from Barrington’s childhood into adulthood, however right from the start we can sense that something is not right with him. He shocks his teacher and classmates with his actions, however we can put down his behaviour to his dysfunctional family life. His mother is more concerned about appearances, his father is concerned with his work and other women. Small instances such as viewing his father’s infidelity add to the instability of Barrington. 

Crushed - Denise Greenwood
Right from birth, Barrington has been isolated, but spoiled. The one place he finds his solace is in his treehouse where his repressed desires and emotions come to light. He is consumed by his new compulsion, to hear fragile bones being crushed. Elspeth, the girl with the red hair, becomes his first human victim.

After fourteen years, he encounters another girl, Caprice, who also has red hair. She brings back countless emotions and memories that Barrington had repressed. However, instead of acting upon his desires and making her another of his victims, something shocking happens. He takes her to his home. Caprice challenges Barrington in ways that are unthinkable. She pushes his boundaries, defies his rigid routines, strict perspective and limited patience. Barrington’s break to his schedule leads to resurfacing memories and we learn more about the past fourteen years. Caprice is running from a tormentor, however Barrington is unaware of this.

Although Barrington is a complicated ‘hero’ to say the least, the main antagonist of the novel, Judith, is someone actually loathe. Barrington may have committed some unspeakable acts, however Judith is the real life villain that everyone has encountered. She is a carer next door to Barrington, at a nursing home. Not only that, she’s a massive busy-body! She watches Barrington and comes to unsettling conclusions about him. She’s bitter, nosey and spiteful. She even goes to extreme lengths of following Caprice and pretending to know Barrington, in order to learn more about him.

However, through Caprice, Barrington manages to perceive himself the way others do and learns to control his actions and emotions. Is she the one to save him? What is Caprice’s secret? If you want answers, you know what to do! I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and I can guarantee you will too  especially the ending! I also interviewed Denise Greenwood so why not check that out!

Contact information for Denise Greenwood:

Twitter: @DeniseGauthor

Yours weekly,

Sadia Parveen.


Wednesday, 25 November 2015

The Curse Known As Writers Block

Don’t you hate it when people tell you writer’s block doesn’t exist? Because frankly it makes me want to scream. If those people have never experienced the complete mental block when you sit down to write, then good for them, but don’t invalidate somebody else’s struggles. So if you’ve ever met someone who’s said something like that to you, then ignore them, because it is a thing and you shouldn’t feel bad for experiencing it. 

I can’t tell you the amount of times this has happened to me. Most of us have been through it, even those of us who aren't writers and are just trying to write an essay. It’s something we torture ourselves with.

You can be so determined to get something down on the page, then you either end up writing a massive amount of horse crap and deleting it all. Or you continually stare at the screen as if expecting it to write something for you and then you get pissed off when it doesn't.

Come on. Admit it. You've done that one before.

If you ever feel like you have writers block and no solution is coming to mind, then here are my tips for getting through it:
1. Refreshments

·        The important thing to remember while you're pulling your hair from its roots is to look after yourself. You're no good to anyone, let alone your writing if you don’t.

·        Make sure you have some sort of station around you where you can get refreshments. Whether that's your kitchen or a coffee shop or even an asda.

·        Whatever your go to drink is, mine is a good old cup of tea, because let's face it, tea is life. I know the minute I have a cup of tea by me I can relax more and get down to work.

·        Figure out what your "motivational" drink is and make sure it’s on hand during your writing process.


2. Work space

·        There is nothing worse than sitting in a crowded room, full of people talking or screaming or just you know, generally breathing in your direction. At least for me that’s the worst thing.

·        It's important to find the best place for you to work. Mine is in my armchair at home. If somebody’s in the room and I can’t have complete silence I put my headphones on and block out the world with some music while I write.

·        A writer once told me he does most of his writing on the train as it’s impossible to do it at home with his kids. If that works for you, then great, but it needs to be somewhere you’re entirely comfortable and a place you feel you can block out the rest of the world while you write.


3. Breaks

·        I cannot stress this point enough. Breaks are essential to life. Ever heard the human brain can only concentrate for 20 minutes? Whether or not you believe this, I think to some extent this is true. It doesn’t have to be 20 minutes, it could be 60, or 90, but eventually your brain will be getting distracted.

·        There's no point sitting at your desk, slamming your head against the table for 10 hours because you can't think of anything to write. That's not going help anyone, and let's face it, you'll go to bed with a massive headache.

·        Even if you give yourself a half an hour break every few hours, this is guaranteed to help you feel a million times better. Your motivation gets restored and you return to your work with a clearer mind.

·        Sometimes even a power nap can help and if you're like me and can't sleep in the day, then even just lying in bed and closing your eyes for half an hour can work wonders…just…set an alarm to be sure you don’t fall asleep for the next 12 hours.


4. Ideas

·        This is the problem most people will have. Sometimes an idea for a story or poem will pop into your mind and you’ll write furiously for hours. And sometimes nothing comes to you at all.

·        So here’s what you do to get your creative juices flowing. First: create a characters backstory. Ask yourself 20 seemingly unimportant questions and answer them as your character. You may just discover something interesting about them.

·        Second: words

·        Look at your surroundings. Pick an object, or a person, or a colour, anything.

·        Write a paragraph about it. 99% of the time it will be utter rubbish, but that 1% could be the start of a great story.

·        And if not, then at least you will have been exercising that creative brain of yours. Not everything you write has to be publishing standard. That's what editing’s for!


5. Distance

·        Sometimes the problem isn't just getting something on the page but perhaps you’re struggling adding to a story or poem you've already been writing. Sometimes what you add a day after that burst of inspiration can seem like crap compared. If what you’re writing doesn’t seem to work then stop. Stop trying to add to it, because it just might not be your day.

·        Distance yourself from that piece and move onto something else. I'd say a good week or two before you even consider returning to it, because a fresh and clear mind is always a better one.

·        There’s no point adding to a good story with a crap ending. Wait until the inspiration comes to you and then milk it for all its worth before it disappears again.

·        You're in the business of writing now. You’ve got to learn when to fight and write and when you need to let it go.


6. Stick to your roots

·        Sometimes, when the ideas just aren't flowing, it can help by going back to your roots. Instead of trying to write a novel set in the nineteenth century, focus on something more contemporary. Where are you from? I'm sure that place has an accent you can exaggerate.

·        For me, as I am from Wirral, we are often associated with people from Liverpool. I like to call some of us the "wannabe scousers" the really over the top girls with the fake tan so fake they can blend into my garden fence. This is something I love to play with. I pick people I knew in the past, who were like this and I really exaggerate their personality.

·        This has helped me to write some of the best stories I've ever written and I've enjoyed it so much more because I know it so well. I've lived with people like this my whole life, so it’s more familiar to me than anything else.

·        So remember, stick to your roots, because there are things you know about your town, and the people in it, that other writers will probably never know.


Yours lovingly,
Jennie Byrne

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