Thursday, 29 May 2014

Want to be a writer? Go for it! Tips and thoughts...

I get a fair bit of mail from teenagers who have read my books and tell me that they are thinking of writing something similar. So I thought it might be useful if I posted a few thoughts I have on what you should do if you are one of them.

Firstly, I don't have a publisher. I publish direct to Amazon, to googleplay and to Smashwords (who distribute to ibooks, B&N etc on my behalf). I know we all dream of seeing our books in a bricks and mortar bookshop, of picking up our very own paperback and seeing other people reading it on the train, but the times are changing. These days it isn't a single publisher who decides if your book is worthy, it's the readers. With the invention of e-reading devices you can now get your work out to the entire globe with a few clicks and it is the readers themselves who decide if your book swims or sinks straight out of sight. And you know what? I think there's something very right about that...

So where do you start? You need to write the book. Just write it. Write it as a short story and watch it unfold, or write a plot outline and fill it in, or write one chapter at a time one evening a week and you have a book before you know it. Just write it. It doesn't matter if it's a mess, you can tackle that later, but get the words down. That's the hardest, most time-consuming bit of all, I promise. I could write a whole post on how to do that bit, but that's a different story, and to be honest, a different process for every single writer out there (though I would be happy to share my own process if you are particularly interested).

So you have a first draft? Now what?

1) Start editing. re-read and rewrite over and over.
2) Find Beta readers. Use your family and friends if you feel you can. But I don't, I prefer strangers on the Internet who will give me a more honest critique. There are loads of websites where you can find people who might be interested in reading your work and giving an opinion.
3) Don't take everything the Beta's say too much to heart. Try to extract any practical advice and don't lose your voice if you make more changes based on their opinions.
4) Get a professional proof reader. This is crucial! I've deleted so many self published books I started reading simply because of spelling and grammar errors! It is extremely unprofessional, and although even the best proofreader in the world won't catch everything, they are worth their weight in gold. Yes - you do have to pay for them, but your auntie or your friend next door will not do the same job. If you want some recommendations, I am happy to provide them.
5) Buy a great cover. Before you invest serious money in a custom made cover, really check out the pre-made sites. There are thousands of amazing covers out there that you can pick up from $25 - $60 if you buy a pre-made. You just chose one and then email the designer. They add in your title and your name (plus tag-lines if you want) and it is good to go, yay.

You should now have a book and a cover. That's all you need to publish...

Okay, I know that a lot my readers are too young to have accounts and be in a position to set up payments, so I'll very briefly cover that before moving on: If you are under 18 in the UK (I'm not sure what the age is elsewhere) then you can not publish and get paid. It sucks, but that's the reality. So, your options are to either get your parents to publish for you, or to release your book for free. There are only so many places that will take it for free. Certainly not Amazon. But don't be disheartened! This is a great marketing opportunity for you. Start off on the free sites, places like Wattpad, and build a fan-base. That way, the moment you are old enough, you can release on the paid sites and already have buyers waiting for your next great novel. Set up an email address and have fans email you to sign up for your mailing list. You can then email them all direct the moment you release a new book and keep building that base, then one day you can email them and say "my new book is now available on Amazon for x $," and you have sales right out the gate!

The other advantage of this route is that publishers and film makers and all kinds of useful people may very well see your work and you have a massive head start. You may even find your book being picked up to become a movie before you are even old enough to go and see it... Don't laugh, it has happened!

For those of you that are old enough to set up a publisher account. Spend some serious man hours getting familiar with the process of loading up a book and filling in the relevant forms. It is worth it. You only have to do it once and from then on you are set to release book after book.

The ins and outs of publishing are too numerous to fit into a blog post. But if you have done all the steps above then you are ready and I would personally be more than happy to guide you on that road. I don't think you will need me to, but I'm here if you do have any questions.

There is nothing I like better than seeing a new writer succeed in this amazing new world of e-books, and to see them having their books singled out by the people that actually read them. So with that in mind, I am going to take a big leap of faith (after all, you must be serious about it to have read this far) and give you my personal email address. If you would like further information and advice then just ask me.

And lastly (and very importantly) Good Luck!

Search for books by Stella Wilkinson at all good online retailers, or pick up her first book FREE here:

Sunday, 4 May 2014

Reviews of Juliet Blackwells Witchcraft Mysteries

As I'm currently writing my own Magic & Mayhem witchy series, (Book #1 FREE on Amazon I have been reading, no devouring, similar style books and have fallen in love with Juliet Blackwell's Witchcraft Mysteries. They are a little more mature than my own, which are aimed at young adults, but they are written with great humor, some characters that literally jump off the page, and Juliet has captured some men that make my heart thump :-) They are the story of 'born witch' Lily Ivory. Here are the covers:

The best pictures of Lily are of course off the covers of the books, but she is just a cartoon, if I had to pick a real life person who best sums up how I imagine her to look, then I would chose Jennifer Love Hewitt in her cute 1950's style outfits when she played Melinda in Ghost Whisperer.

There are five books in the series already and I'm going to review all of them! Basically because as soon as I finished one, I had to read the next one. And as each one arrived I was like this

I'm not going to type out the plot of each book, but here's the official blurb from the first one to give you an idea:

Secondhand Spirits

#1 of the Witchcraft Mystery Series

Lily Ivory is not your average witch. Her spell-casting powers tend to draw mischievous spirits while keeping normal humans at a distance. But now her vintage clothing store could give her a chance to make friends in San Francisco....
Lily hopes for a normal life when she opens Aunt Cora's Closet. With her magical knack for vintage fashion -she can sense vibrations of the past from clothing and jewelry—her store becomes a big hit.
But when a client is murdered and children start disappearing from the Bay Area, Lily may be the only one who can unravel the crime. She tries to keep her identity a secret while investigating, but it's not easy—especially under the spells of sexy "mythbuster" Max Carmichael and powerful witch Aidan Rhodes. Will Lily's witchy ways be forced out of the closet?

Each book is a murder mystery, and contains a host of well rounded characters. Bronwen and Maya, who work in the shop are great, as is Inspector Romero, and Oscar, her Familiar, needs an entire review of his own, even the clothes are detailed so vividly that you want to find her outfits and buy them, but it's the men in Lily's life that really jump off the page. So I've trawled the internet trying to find pictures that do them justice, lol!

Max Carmichael: A Myth Buster. He and Lily are attracted to each other from the start, but their personal beliefs just can't gel. I could search the internet for days, but I'd never find someone better to play Max than Sam Worthington, he really is the epitome of strong male role, he's all man this one!

Aidan Rhodes, Male witch is described as blond and unnaturally attractive with boyish blue eyes. He and Lily have some rather explosive sexual chemistry, but she's extremely wary of him. His face was hard to find, but I think this Ralph Lauren model has pretty much nailed Aidan's looks and style as I envision them -

And lastly there's Sailor. Is it possible to lust after a fictional character from a book? I certainly think so. He's the ultimate bad boy, dark, brooding and gorgeous.  Sailor is so wrong and so right for Lily. I wanted to see them together from the moment he appeared, though it took another couple of books before there was a hint. But Lily isn't the type to have a smooth love life. I think Sailor is going to give her a nice bit of rough before the smooth ;-)

So there they are. I hope you like my choices for the cast?

Now the really exciting news!

The new book in the series is due for release next month!! I'm so excited! The cover has been revealed:

 I hope you love them as much as I did. Juliet Blackwell is such a fabulous writer, so go and get these books!! (And if you like them, then you should like mine too, wink wink!)
If you would like to be kept informed my new releases then sign up to my mailing list here:  I never spam, I will only email you with my new releases and promotions. Plus the occasional freebie!