inspiration august

Last month’s Inspiration Game was a lot of fun! I came up with a fun (and very random) short story, and it was so interesting to see all the different ways everyone was inspired by the same word.

I thought we could try it again! The Inspiration Game is now a monthly event to get everyone writing.

Remember: there are no rules. It’s not a competition. It’s to get you writing, pure and simple. It might be something you develop further, or it might just be something to get you started.

All you need to do is set an alarm for five minutes, and start writing without self-editing or doubting yourself. Just let the words flow, and then if you like, you can share your story in the comments. At the end of the month, I’ll share my story and if you include yours in the comments, I’ll share the links to yours as well. If you prefer to share them privately, feel free to email me (you can find my contact details here).

Since it’s October, obviously I had to go with a Halloween-y theme! So this month’s inspiration word is:


So set your clocks, and get writing!

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Now you’ve got your story edited and nicely polished, it’s time to get it ready for publishing.

The first thing to do is to format it. This will be mostly the same whatever bookseller you’re using, but be sure to check before you publish!

You can do the formatting yourself if you’re somewhat computer savvy (and patient!). Alternatively, you can pay someone to do it for you.

If you’re doing it yourself, a great resource to use is the FREE guide to eBook formatting from Guido Henkel. It’s absolutely invaluable. And if you’re publishing with Smashwords, make sure to check out the Smashwords Style Guide. While this is written specifically for them, it’s full of great advice for formatting, period.

The main things to remember are:

  • There should be no spaces between paragraphs
  • Indent the first line of your paragraph
  • Use an easy-to-read font. A serif font is usually easier for most people to read (eg Times New Roman)
  • Don’t forget the front matter (title page, copyright page)
  • And don’t forget back matter (things like where your readers can find you elsewhere online)

If you prefer to pay someone to do it for you, there are plenty of options out there. I’ve only ever done my own formatting so I don’t have any to recommend. As with any service like this, make sure to check out feedback.

The next step is to choose a cover. If you know what you’re doing, you can go ahead and do it yourself, BUT remember that your cover is the single most important piece of marketing for your book. If your cover looks amateur, it doesn’t matter how great your writing is, people aren’t going to pick it up.

For a low-cost, high-quality cover, may I suggest The Book Cover Store? That’s my own site, so yes, that’s a blatant bit of marketing for me 😀 There’s a wide variety of pre-made covers on there to choose from, and if you can’t find what you want, you can order a custom cover.

If you prefer to do your own cover, remember to try and make it look as professional as possible. Your cover really is so important. If you’re wanting to keep costs down, you can use free image editors like and GIMP. Free fonts can be found at dafont and Font Squirrel. If you’re wanting an image on your cover, cheap stock photos can be found on Can Stock and Shutterstock, and you can even find free stock images on morgueFile. However, with all of these, fonts and photos, be very careful to read the licensing, to make sure that you can use them for commercial use. Some may require that you include a link to their websites; some might be free use. Just make sure you have the rights to use them in the way you’re planning, as otherwise you might find yourself in legal hot water.

And that’s it! Congratulations, now you’re ready to publish!

You can breathe a sigh of relief… Until you remember that now you have to market your book.  The work of a self-published writer is never done.

Seriously – you’ve done an awesome job, and you should be proud of yourself. Good luck!

I have a confession to make: I’m seriously obsessed with nail polish. I have about 150 of them, in pretty much every colour and every kind of top coat.

I have another confession: I’ve bought some of them because of the name (I have a character called Amber so of course I bought In Awe of Amber), or because they reminded me of something (like this Model’s Own polish made me think of Loki).

Since coffee is pretty much writer fuel, I need French Roast by Cirque Polish.

french roast nail polish

Photo by Chalkboard Nails.

Illamasqua has amazing make-up, with similarly amazing names. Considering what I write for a living, I had to choose Phallic for this list (though there was some stiff competition, nudge nudge wink wink!).phallic nail polish

I love dragons (my favourite being either Temeraire or Toothless). Dragon from A-England is divine.

dragon nail polish

Photo by Scrangie.

We all need our Muse, and Zoya is here to provide.

muse nail polish

The whole Literary Lacquers range is inspired by books. Shadows Between Us is based on Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier, and it’s absolutely gorgeous.

shadows between us nail polish

Photo by Cosmetic Sanctuary.

Will They Won’t They. A hook to keep ’em reading, and a lovely nail polish from Rescue Beauty Lounge.

will they won't they nail polish

Inspired by James Bond: On Her Majesty’s Secret Service from OPI.

james bond nail polish

Photo by Scrangie.

Royal Navy by Butter London, for all you fans of uniform.

royal navy nail polish

I’ve not yet written any shifter stories, but if I do I might wear Shifters by Sephora as I type.

shifters nail polish

Every good story needs a Nemesis. This one is from piCture pOlish.

nemesis nail polish

Photo by Very Emily.

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Being a full-time writer means that I don’t always wear make-up, eg the days when I’m stuck in the flat, typing, or at least staring at the wall waiting to be inspired. Maybe I should look for inspiration in eyeshadows and lipsticks with awesome and/or bookish names.

I could easily write a story using the names of the shadows in the Naked palette.

naked palette

Portland Black Lipstick Company has both awesome names and awesome colours: Irony is my favourite.
(For some swatches check out Hello Pretty Bird)

portland black lipstick irony

A Sherlock inspired eyeshadow called The Game is On? Yasssss.

The Game is On eyeshadow

And a lipgloss called The Red Wedding. Blood red, unsurprisingly.

The Red Wedding lipgloss

There are bunches of Lord of the Rings inspired make up out there, but I love the shimmer on Samwise the Brave.

samwise the brave eyeshadow

On the Road perfume oil. Both literary and sounds amazing.

on the road perfume

I need Desecration.

Desecration eyeshadow

Bird? Plane? No, it’s a stunning blue eyeshadow!

geeky Bird? Plane? eyeshadow

*Sigh*. I say that multiple times a day, and now I can wear it for extra emphasis.

*Sigh* lip colour

Just the name Strangeling fills me with ideas, and it’s a gorgeous eyeshadow too.

Strangeling eyeshadow

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I’ve mentioned before when I first started out writing full-time, the freedom went to my head a bit. For a few weeks I ended up with a work day from 9pm-3am. Even for a night owl, that’s not great. I’m slowly starting to turn that around, so that I’m working from around 11am-6pm.

The way I’m dealing with that is to get my head in the I’m at work now mindset. This isn’t just for writers by any means. Anyone who’s self-employed, studying, or doing any kind of work from home can benefit from this. Here are some of the ways that worked for me.

* As much as possible, have a set-ish working time. For me, that’s between lunch and dinner.

* Get dressed for work! I don’t necessarily mean a suit and tie (but if that works for you, go for it!). Just not yoga pants and a baggy t-shirt (I totally fell into that habit). Usually for me that means a pretty dress (this one is my favourite), but it can be anything you feel comfortable, but productive, in.

* Habit-stacking! This means that you have one particular thing that you always do, which sets off a chain reaction of productivity. For example, I usually start by picking a random word, setting a timer, and writing a snippet of story about that word for five minutes. It really helps flex my creative muscles. I then automatically move on to the next task, which is getting out my keyboard and opening my current document. The point is that once you’ve started with your first habit, the next will automatically follow.

* Have a specific place to work. For me, that’s a desk in my bedroom. Sure, your couch is comfy, but you remember, you want to get into the working mindset. Having a set place to work really helps. Also? A proper desk and chair is way better for your back.

* If you well and truly can’t get into the zone, try leaving the house. Get a bit of fresh air, or even go somewhere else to get your work done. For me, if I really can’t focus at home, taking my iPad to a coffeeshop works perfectly.

* Have a separate work computer. I know that’s not going to be possible for everyone. Heck, I sure can’t afford a second computer. But I already had an iPad mini as well as my laptop, so I bought a cheap bluetooth keyboard for it (it was less than £20). Now, whenever I get the keyboard out, I’m instantly in work mode.

* This one’s a toughie, but turn off that internet! I know that’s not always possible, but when I’m writing, the internet goes off. At the very least, just have one single browser window open, with just one tab. You don’t want anything to distract you. If you get to a point in the story where you need to do some research, try making a note to look it up later and move onto the next bit.

* Listen to music when you’re working. Just make sure it doesn’t have lyrics (or at least not many of them). I like to listen to soundtracks for videogames (Dragon Age, Assassin’s Creed, Journey) or movies (Interstellar, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, The Social Network). The whole idea of soundtracks is that they are background music to help you focus, and you can choose one that fits the story you’re writing. Epic Fantasy? Try Game of Thrones. A sci-fi story? Maybe Daft Punk’s awesome Tron: Legcy soundtrack can help get you in the right mood. I also like writing to post-rock (Sigur Rós, Hammock, God is an Astronaut) and minimal music (Steve Reich, Philip Glass).

And finally…

* Drink lots of water! That one’s a bit of a no-brainer but it works sooo well for me. If I find I can’t concentrate, a big glass of water can help blow the cobwebs away.

There we have it! A selection of things I use to get myself into the working mindset. Do you use any of these, or any others?

Today’s theme is book and writing related clothes. I’m not gonna lie – I’m a sucker for things like this. My wardrobe isn’t bursting at the seams like it was a few years ago, but I definitely have to hold myself back from hitting ‘Add to Cart’ several times a week.

I love this t-shirt (and it’s very true).

 geeky writer reading books t-shirt

This dress is only writing-related because of the name – the Freelance Writer dress – but it’s adorable and a definite Do Want.freelance writer dress books

A delightfully dark Poe inspired dress.

geeky book dress

A book bag of a different kind.

geeky book bag for writers

This bright comicbook print dress. Pow!

geeky comic book superhero dress

A lovely bookish lolita skirt.

book lolita skirt

Who wouldn’t want an awesome Lord of the Rings scarf?

geeky lord of the rings scarf

Another comic book print, but this skirt is too cute to ignore.

geeky comic skirt

I need a typewriter tote bag and I need it now.

typewriter tote for writers

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inspiration july

Let’s have a bit of writing inspiration!

Sometimes it’s hard to know what to write about. You can be sitting there are your computer with the best of intentions, but sometimes the words just won’t come. It’s pretty frustrating. No, scratch that. It’s extremely frustrating. Even worse when you have the idea in your head, but it refuses to be tamed by words.

When writer’s block gets in my way, one thing that I like to do to overcome it is choose a word – any random word – and write about that for five minutes. No planning or preparation, no self-editing, no doubts getting in my way. Just write anything for five minutes.

So here’s what I’m going to do. I’ve chosen a random word, and at the end of the month I’m going to share my story. If you want to join in, I would be absolutely delighted to read what you come up with! Either type it into the comment box, or share a link. At the end of September I’ll share everyone’s writing so we’re all inspired!

This month’s inspiration is:


Just write for five minutes on Featherweight – anything at all that word inspires you to write.

Have fun!

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day in the life

This year, I became a full-time writer after twelve or so years of working in an office. Lemme tell you, that’s pretty darn exciting. It’s the only career I’ve ever really wanted, ever since I was a little girl – well, that and an artist. I remember writing stories on rainbow-coloured paper, and then drawing a cover for it with Crayola pencils. I still do my own covers sometimes, so I guess things haven’t changed that much.

Now that I’ve been officially self-employed for six months, I want to talk about one of the things that I’ve found hardest: scheduling. This is something we all have to deal with, whether we’re a student, work for a company or work for ourselves, but the thing with being self-employed is that you have a lot more freedom. And when I started out, I totally let that freedom get the better of me.

I oscillate between being a mega-planner and totally winging it. Sometimes I’ll spend ages planning out my day, but then I’ll feel constricted by the schedule I’ve set myself and either do something completely different or spend the whole day procrastinating. Not good!

To give an example of one of these way-too-strict schedules:

10am: Wake up (I’m a total night owl, so earlier than this isn’t going to happen)
10-10:30am: Breakfast
10:30-11am: Check emails
11am-12pm: Check social media
12-1pm: Lunch, watch TV
1-4pm: Write
4-6pm: Writing related stuff (this could be plotting, editing, designing covers)
6-7pm: Meditation and exercise (yoga, usually)
7-8:30pm: Dinner, TV
8:30-10pm: Work-related learning (studying a course, reading writer’s websites)
10-12pm: Time for fun! (Endless tumblr scrolling, running around getting lost in Dragon Age)
12-1am: Planning the following day, finishing up any small tasks
1-2am: Reading, then bed

Wow. Pretty prescriptive, right? And that doesn’t work for me. What I’m finding much easier is just having a to-do list for the day, which might say something like:

Write chapter 2 of (insert title here)
Edit short story
Finish coursework

Yep, I put things like ‘Lunch’ on there, because it makes me feel productive when I get to cross it out. A to-do list like that is much better for me, as it means I can do what I want when I want. I try to work roughly between lunch and dinner, but being less strict means that I’m not going to get frustrated or feel that my whole day is messed up if I get out of bed late, or end up watching a second episode of The X-Files at lunchtime (oh Netflix, you temptress).

Another thing I find important is to write the to-do list at the end of the previous day, so that as soon as I wake up I know how busy my day’s going to be, and what exactly I have to do.

Maybe this will change later; I’ve seen interviews where writers early in their career have said that they work whenever the muse takes them, but a few years later they’ve said that they have gotten much stricter with themselves and work 9-5. It’ll be interesting to see what I think in a few years!

What about you? Are you Team 9-5 or Team When Inspiration Strikes?

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Most of this blog is mostly about writing and books, but I also love stuff. This is a weekly post dedicated to awesome writing-related and -inspired stuff around the internet that I Do Want, and maybe you will too.

This week’s theme is based around something that writers hold dear to their heart: stationery. For all that I use my laptop and iPad when writing, I can’t get enough of cute notepads. My collection is slightly out of control.

This Moon journal is dreamy.

writer's moon notebook

This notebook with an embroidered peacock cover is something that I need immediately.

peacock notebook

I’m a sucker for inspirational quotes, and therefore a sucker for this notepad.

writer's quote notebook

What I just said about inspirational quotes? Yeah, I need these notecards too.

inspirational quote notecards

Pens that give you an ego boost? Sign me up!

ego boost pen for writers

I don’t know about you but I love planning out my week. This planner should help.

weekly planner

You can never have enough sticky notes. Fact.

sticky notes

I love cute and kitschy notebooks, but a classic Moleskine is hard to beat.

moleskine notebook for writers

Erasers in the shape of city skylines. I choose London!

geeky city erasers

Blue is my favourite colour, and that makes this stationery set the best ever.
(the site sells EVERYTHING in the same shade, including office furniture. NEED!)

matching blue stationery

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shaky foundations - gay romance story

Title: Shaky Foundations

Summary: Jonathan has accidentally hired the most infuriating man in the world to renovate his office. Will is lazy, he’s arrogant – and he’s also drop-dead gorgeous. When Jonathan gets to know him a little, he finds that maybe – just maybe – he’s not so bad after all.

A sweet, sexy, gay romance short story of 6800 words. 18+


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“I envy your confidence,” Jonathan says. “I have doubts about my career choice at least twice a week.”

“You shouldn’t. You’re a brilliant designer and you clearly love it,” Will says seriously. “Never doubt your passion.”

Jonathan feels heat creep into his cheeks and he looks down at his beer. Will is so earnest – he means it. Even though Jonathan has done nothing but act like a prick since they met, he’s being so nice.

“I really am sorry for the way I’ve been acting,” he says, his blush deepening as he speaks.

“I told you, I don’t think you’ve been that much of a jerk. Still, I appreciate the apology.”

“Can we start from the top?”

“Sure. Let’s pretend we’re two mates having a drink. Maybe by the end of the night we won’t be pretending any more.”

Will’s words turn out to be prophetic. A few beers later they’re talking animatedly about Mid-Century Modern design, and Jonathan’s having the best time he’s had in weeks.

They order another beer, and Will cocks his head, gazing thoughtfully at Jonathan. “So what else did Mickey tell you about me?”

Jonathan’s cheeks heat up again. “He was pretty fixated on telling me how good you are in bed.”

Barking a laugh, Will grins. “Did he now? Mickey’s a good mate. Always putting a good word in.

Jonathan leans forward and narrows his eyes suspiciously. “Did you ask him to tell me that?”

“‘Course not. But for the record, I’m glad he did, if that’s what convinced you to come out with me. Not every day I get a date with a gorgeous bloke like you.”

Jonathan raises an eyebrow, and not just at the date bit. He knows he’s not bad looking: curly black hair, long eyelashes, dimples that appear on the rare occasions that he smiles. But Will is on another level entirely. He’s got the bad-boy male model look down pat: strong arms and shoulders; tattoos peeking out from beneath the sleeves of his t-shirt. Square jaw, sculpted lips and blue eyes twinkling in the neon beer signs behind the bar. “Have you looked at yourself lately? And you think I’m hot?”

“Fucking hell, mate,” Will says, swallowing. “The way you’re looking at me–”

“I’d like to look at more of you. All of you, in fact,” Jonathan says, making a snap decision. He isn’t expecting Will to laugh at him.

“I know I don’t seem like much of a gentleman, but I’m not going to take advantage of someone who’s obviously drunk. Let’s call you a taxi.”

“What? You’re turning me down?” Jonathan asks indignantly.

“I’m saying let’s talk about it tomorrow, yeah?”


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