A Letter to Writers

Dear Writer,

I don’t know why I am only just realising this, as it seems so very obvious, but I think that writing may be the most difficult art to make a living from. I’m not saying this to put you off of writing, or becoming an author. And I’m certainly not saying this to be negative for the sake of it. Let me explain.

Writing is the most difficult of all the arts to have genius recognised in. Because in order to recognise the genius of a piece of writing, one must actually sit, concentrate and read the words. Which might take thirty minutes or several hours or even days or weeks.

Whereas a song can be recognised as genius in three minutes. A movie in two hours. A painting in seconds. A dance in a few minutes or more.

But writing demands time. And in this world of constant information overload, time is of short supply. Or so it would appear. And so if someone takes the time to read your words, it is truly an honour, because they are saying – your words are worth more to me than several movies or several hours of social media.

As a writer, it is harder to be ‘discovered’. To have that magic moment when someone spots your genius and tells the world about it. You can’t go on a talent show or do a video that goes viral on YouTube.

All you can do is keep writing, and keep hoping that your words will hit the spot for enough people that the word will spread that your words are worth the time and effort they take to consume.

Of course, you will still always hope that one day you will reach that tipping point where every time you hit publish, you sell several thousand copies straight off the bat, and not just a handful. But until then, you keep writing, because you were not born to be a singer or dancer or a movie star.

You were born to be a writer.

So fall in love with the difficulty, the struggle and the stress that comes with this work. Because I promise you, it will be worth it in the end.

Much love,

A writer.

Image – James Pond (Unsplash)

Digital Immortality

Life on Earth was intended to be fleeting.

Our journeys from birth to death, and the transitions through many stages and ages, were to be experienced then discarded and forgotten. We are eternal beings. Our mission here on Earth was to experience the finite nature of humanity.

But the birth of the internet changed all of that.

No longer are the tiny minutiae of our daily lives simply experienced and discarded, by only ourselves and those who are physically present. Now they are recorded, shared, stored and kept (possibly in a country-sized bunker somewhere) for all of time.

The photo of you at seven years old with paint on your face will live in a cloud forever. The ex you dumped ten years ago can still follow your life as if they were still in it. The drunken tweet you posted can cost you the job you really want, even fifteen years after the posting.

Human beings hunger for immortality. To live forever is the ultimate goal. But we’ve forgotten that we do live forever.

Just not in this particular body the whole time.

But the actions, thoughts, meals and nights out that we have experienced in this body may well live forever.

 

Is digital immortality really what we want? To be known forever for the pictures of things we ate, books we read or songs we like? Is it not enough to just share the moment with the people right in front of us, or even just with ourselves?

Would it not be better to be known for an act of kindness, a job well done or a long, healing hug? Or for writing a book that has moved people? Helped them?

 

Part of my need to write books is to be remembered. To leave a legacy of some kind when my soul leaves this body and moves onto the next adventure. The idea that a photo of my gluten-free vegan meal might be remembered more than my novels hurts me. So you can expect less banality and more creativity from me from this point onward. Because I came here to write.

And that is what I intend to do.

Comparison – The Thief

Roosevelt said that comparison is the thief of joy, and I have to say, I quite agree.

It’s a completely different world for authors right now, to just a mere ten years ago, and now, it feels like we should be producing at least ten books a year, to keep up with reader demand. Gone are the days where you could take several years to write a book and hope to do well.

Since I began publishing properly in 2011, I have published at least 2 books a year, and I now have 16 books available. Quite an awesome accomplishment, but instead of revelling in the joy of what I have created, I find myself looking at authors who have published 50 or 60 books in that same amount of time, and wondering why I have been so lazy in comparison.

Then I saw the posts about the latest plagiarism scandal. It seems that a bestselling author in Brazil has been taking chunks of other authors’ work, and giving it to ghostwriters on Fiverr and then publishing what they’ve cobbled together and making a mint from it. She has a large list of books available, and it would seem that none of her material belonged to her.

Which made me wonder, how many of the authors with massive output are actually writing it all themselves? Or even using original material?

And somehow, this made me stop comparing myself to them. Because I know that I write every word of my books. And I know that I only write books that turn up and annoy me until I write them. And that it’s actually quite realistic to write and publish two or three books a year, when you take into account the editing and proofreading, publishing and marketing.

So although I am quite upset for these authors who have had their work ripped to bits and made into bad books that have made thieves a lot of money, I am also grateful to now have been released from this comparison game, and I plan to revel in the joy of each creation, knowing that I am producing work that I am proud of, and that readers will love, and that is wholly my own.

Do you compare yourself or your creativity or your life to others? Do you think that you should be further along, or richer, or better, because you look at what other people are doing?

Let me know in the comments.

Cover Reveal for Book 10

I promised to reveal the cover for book 10 soon, and here it is! The book is now finally finished, and it is being edited at the moment, which is cutting it a bit fine to make the 1st July publishing date, but I promise I will not be letting you down! I finished writing it nine years and a day after I finished writing The Earth Angel Training Academy, and I will be publishing book 10 on the 7th Anniversary of the publishing of book 1. I like a bit of symmetry!

Book 10 is the last book in the Earth Angel Series for the foreseeable future. If the story for book 11 arrives, I will of course write it, but I feel that this book brings all the stories full circle, and as sad as I am to say goodbye to my characters, I have so many more book projects awaiting, I am excited to be able to expand the Visionary Collection and to finish writing my children’s series too.

I cannot wait to see what my readers think of book 10. I have been calling it the marmite of the series, because I think it will either be loved or hated… I really enjoyed writing it (despite the resulting RSI!) and I hope you agree it’s the perfect ending to rather a wild adventure we have been on for the last 7 years. (9 years for me!)

How do the covers make you feel? The US cover came from a design I originally considered for book 9, but I loved the circle of fire, and the feeling of completion it gives. Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

 

US Edition Cover

UK Edition Cover

Connections

Earlier this year, in March, I was pleased to be filmed for a short film called Connections, with William Bloom. Mike and Jim of FilmTank came to the woods to film me in one of my favourite writing places and talking about how I connect when I write my books.

The film features six very different people, and shows how each of them connect to something greater than themselves, and I think it’s beautifully filmed. The film was produced by the Spiritual Companions Trust.

Watch the film below, and please do comment with your thoughts!

Happy Samhain!

I love today. I know it has become commercialised, and more about silly costumes and getting sweets, but for me, Samhain is about being able to more easily speak with those who have crossed over.

It is said that the veils between the worlds/dimensions is thinnest at this time of year, and traditionally, people would have put a lit candle in their window to guide spirits. I believe that the ones we love are with us always, but that honouring them on this day is a great way to celebrate Samhain, and it’s better for your teeth too!

So perhaps tonight, in between answering the door to trick or treaters, you might light a candle, and have a chat with the spirits of the people you love. Or maybe even write them a letter. I’m sure they would love to hear your voice call their name.

Be sure to ask the angels to protect you and keep out any lower energies and spirits while you reach out to your loved ones. And be careful and safe with lit candles, don’t leave them unattended.

If you enjoy novels about spirits, you might quite enjoy I’m Here.

samhain

Underwhelmed and Overwhelmed

I have so many blog posts I want to write. I have a huge list of books I want to write. I have craft projects I desperately want to dive into. I have online classes to create. I have books I want to read, movies I want to see, projects I want to work on, friends I want to visit, places I want to explore, and so much I want to discover.

It’s overwhelming. Just my to-do list alone is a mind map of madness. Just picking one thing and getting it done is difficult. The only reason I’m getting this blog post written is because it’s nearly midnight and I’m doing the 30 day blog challenge and I want to win it! But otherwise, choosing a task, then seeing it through, is overwhelming. What to choose first? I often ending up choosing the easy stuff, the fun stuff, but that doesn’t always really get me anywhere.

While visiting New York City this summer on my book tour, we saw a lot of awesome street art, but though this was one of the simplest ones, it struck a chord:

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Right now, that is exactly where I am. As overwhelmed as I am with what I want to do, I am equally as underwhelmed with the motivation to do it! It’s not because I’m not doing things I love, because I am. It’s not because I don’t want to do these things, because I do. But sometimes, I just want to stay in bed and do absolutely nothing, because I haven’t got the oomph to give anything my all. But despite being an adult who could actually stay in bed all day and no one would tell me off or tell me I couldn’t, I instead get up and keep going, keep chipping away at the endless to-do list, and getting stuff done.

But sometimes, a period of non-action and non-doing is exactly what is needed. To retreat from the world, go within, and have a deep rest. Without feeling guilty or lazy!

I often wait until I am ill or injured before I allow myself to chill out and relax, and it’s quite ridiculous. In fact, I trapped a nerve in my back yesterday, and was in a lot of pain. Did I stop? Nope! It’s been better today, but incredibly sore, but I still haven’t stopped. Even with little motivation to get things done, I haven’t stopped.

I have no idea what the point of this blog post is, not really sure where I got the idea that every blog post had to have a point, actually. I guess I just wanted to say, if you feel overwhelmed by everything you need to do, and underwhelmed with the motivation to do it – you’re not alone. Cut yourself some slack. If you want to stay in bed for a day, go ahead and do it! Don’t wait until you’re hurting or ill to allow yourself to rest.

On that note, time to sleep.

To be a Writer…

Last week I bought a copy of The Big Leap on my Kindle, by Gay Hendricks. The book set off a stream of ‘aha’ moments and huge realisations, most of which I still haven’t quite figured out what to do with yet!

There are so many amazing parts to the book, to try to describe them here wouldn’t work, I recommend grabbing yourself a copy and seeing for yourself. But there is one thing that I wanted to share, that I realised from reading the book, because it may well help other writers out there.

Hendricks talks about the four zones that exist, which are the Zone of Incompetence, the Zone of Competence, the Zone of Excellence and the Zone of Genius. He said that a lot of us spend most of our lives in the first three zones, and that it takes a big leap to get into the Zone of Genius. I realised that I have spent most of my life in the Zone of Competence, doing work that anyone could do, but that I was okay at too. I think my Zone of Excellence is when I am helping others with their publishing and social media, or indeed when I am publishing my own work, but it occurred to me that my Zone of Genius is when I write. And not just write anything, when I am writing my novels.

There were three sentences to complete, to really nail down what your Zone of Genius is, and these were my answers:

I’m at my best when… I’m writing.

When I’m at my best, the exact thing I’m doing is… going with the flow and creating.

When I’m doing that, the thing I love most about it is … the magical alchemy of turning words into worlds.

Yes. When those words flowed out of my pen onto the page, a massive grin spread across my face and it hit me squarely in the chest. That was it. My Zone of Genius. I am not a writer, not an author – I am an Alchemist. I take simple, ordinary words, and create entire worlds, people, events and objects. All of which live inside the mind of the reader when they read the books. And one day, will hopefully be portrayed on a big screen.

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It was a revelation to me, that what I really loved about writing was not the actual act of it, but the deliciousness of the creation. With just a few taps of the keyboard, I can create life, and I can take it away. I can make someone happy, or make them cry.

I also realised that I had been spending much more time in my Zones of Competence and Incompetence (still terrible at marketing!) than I had in my Zone of Genius. I have so many stories flying around in my mind all shouting to be told, that it seems crazy not to be spending more time in that Zone, doing what I know I do best.

On that note, I am off to write some more of my new book. The Twin Flame Resurrection is in beta reading mode and the cover is being created too, which I am very excited about! Will post the cover reveal very soon. Let me know if you read the big leap, and if you discover your Zone of Genius!

 

Just keep writing… Just keep writing…

I love Dory. I have a memory just like her, and I’m excited about her new movie coming out – Finding Dory. But don’t worry this post isn’t about a forgetful blue fish.

Two weeks ago I finished writing my last novel, called The Twin Flame Resurrection, and have since been doing the basic first edit ready to send it out to my beta readers and get feedback before the first main edit. I plan to get it published by October, which is quite a tight deadline, but completely possible.

The Twin Flame Resurrection

But just to make things interesting, I have decided to keep writing, and start the next Twin Flame book in the series, tomorrow. I did the same thing last year – within two weeks of finishing The Twin Flame Reunion, I wrote The Twin Flame Retreat, and I wrote it in a crazy two weeks.

After reading a very interesting post by Russell Blake on how to sell loads of books, I was interested to see that his 6th point was to do 25% marketing, and 75% writing. I would say that currently, I have been doing the exact opposite. I market a lot more than I write. And I have decided to change this around.

Also, my numbers for the Earth Angel series have changed. I am now thinking that there is likely to be thirteen books in the series in total, and if I were to stick to my current formula of publishing one Earth Angel book per year, I figure it will be 2023 before the final book is released.

That is just too far away!

So, the only way to increase the number I publish each year and get the series out faster is to write more than I market (and procrastinate). I am also desperate to get writing another trilogy I have in mind and more books in the Visionary Collection. In which case, I really do need to just keep writing.

So there may be a few less blog posts over the coming month again, as I throw myself fully into another novel. I have to admit, I haven’t got a clue what will be happening in this one, which characters will appear, what dramas will unfold or who might not make it to the final page, but I’m excited to be jumping back into that world so quickly, because everything seems to flow so much better when there isn’t too much of a gap in between books.

If you are a fan of the Earth Angel series, and there a character you would like to see featured in the next book, comment below or on Facebook or Twitter. I will see what I can do!

 

 

 

 

Nanowrimo Winner 2014!

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Was thrilled last night to reach 50,000 words and become a Nanowrimo winner! I decided to do a little video on my experience with Nano over the last five years since I first discovered it. You can watch the video below. High fives to everyone who took part this year, you are amazing!