Random Musings: How not to write a book review

I read a lot of book reviews. As well as checking out books I may want to read, or finding out what other readers think of books I have already read, I am eager to observe styles of writing and learn from them in order to improve my own review writing.

Sometimes, however, I read a book review and cringe. One that I read last week prompted me to add this to my Twitter feed.

Avoiding spoilers is a basic rule of good review writing, but what else should be avoided? At the request of a fellow writer I have pulled together my thoughts.

How not to write a book review

Every book will have a blurb created by the publisher. Don’t just repeat this – it is already available for the reader to check out. A book blurb is a marketing tool, not a review.

Following on from the above, don’t just summarise the plot or subject matter. Potential readers will want to know what the book is about, perhaps where and when it is set, but they will be most interested in how satisfying the reading experience is. Knowing what types of books they are likely to enjoy, readers will be looking for a match to their preferences.

Publicists love to promote a book as ‘The next [insert bestselling title]’. If a book reminds you of another title in style or content by all means mention this in your review but explain how or why. What elements brought a previous work to mind? Does this work in the wider context of the book being reviewed?

A review is not a set of notes to enable a literature student to pass an exam. Neither is it a detailed critique of the entire text. Both of these serve a purpose and can be of interest but most potential readers simply want an indication if this book could be for them.

Be honest about what you liked and disliked about: the writing style and structure; the pace and accessibility; your lingering impressions. An aspect that you didn’t enjoy may be exactly what another reader is looking for.

Quotes can provide a useful indication of writing style but don’t overuse them. You are not providing a condensed version of the text.

Don’t be afraid to say how the book made you feel. Some readers will want happy ever after stories while others prefer to be educated, challenged or even angered. If emotions are triggered mention this. If a book is bland consider why and explain.

A review is about a book, not an author. It is fine to refer to their other work but don’t criticise them as a person. Some fine literature has been created by reprobates.

If you are writing a review then you are a writer and should be taking care with your craft. Spelling, grammar and punctuation matter as do content, structure and flow. Read your review aloud and rework any sections that jar. Ensure your review says something – adds value – although don’t stress if it is not of the quality you aspire to. We can all improve with practice.

Don’t be put off writing a review by the quality of other reviews you may have read. Potential readers are interested in a variety of opinions. A review is, after all, just one reader’s opinion.

Beyond NaNoWriMo

This article was written for, and was first published by, Writers & Artists in October 2015.

2013-Winner-Square-Button

“Everyone has a book in them, but in most cases that’s where it should stay”

Truth or creation killing put-down? Where would we book lovers be if authors did not have the courage to follow their dreams?

My fiction writing started in earnest two years ago. I had been writing opinion pieces on my personal blog for some time but had not yet delved into fantasy. Like so many readers, I harboured a vague notion that one day I would like to write a novel. I had plot ideas, and had even jotted down a few opening chapters, but had taken it no further. NaNoWriMo offered me the tantalising opportunity to see if I could produce a full script with a beginning, a middle and an end; to see if I had the skills required to create a story that others might choose to read.

That first NaNoWriMo experience was a total buzz. I dived eagerly into the challenge and completed my 50,000 words in just under three weeks. I discovered along the way that I loved writing fiction, that it gave me an outlet for so much internalised anger and pain. I produced as crappy a piece of writing as you are ever likely to read and it will never see the light of day. You can thank me for that.

Still though, I had enjoyed myself to an unexpected degree and wished to continue. To avoid losing the readers of my existing blog, who had not signed up to read make believe stories, I decided to set up a second blog. I named it ‘Dreams and Demons’, the roots of my ideas.

I experimented with flash fiction, stories of under 1000 words, and submitted to several online sites. I became a regular contributor to a weekly challenge hosted by Tipsy Lit, and received positive feedback from readers. Buoyed by this I put my stories up elsewhere: Readwave, Wattpad and Flash Fiction Magazine. Those who took the time to read commented that they enjoyed my plot development, the unexpected twists and dark themes. I rode high on their praise and the buzz remained.

When Tipsy Lit changed direction I sought out another home and found Yeah Write. I wrote micro and flash fiction pieces, winning a few of their weekly awards. My success encouraged me to explore further. At 99Fiction I won my first ever cash prize, which remains the only money I have ever gained from writing.

And then Yeah Write introduced moderation. Their volunteer editors checked each submission and would only accept those deemed worthy. It turned out that I had issues with punctuation and grammar.

I bought the Penguin Writer’s manual and studied its wisdom, but the fun had been taken away. Those well-meaning words of constructive criticism crushed my creative spirit. I continued to try, I wanted to improve. Grammar matters, and authors must be strong enough to accept critiques. It seemed that I could not.

NaNoWriMo came around again and I decided to see if it would work its magic as it had before. I sat at my desk and banged out those 50,000 words. This time I knew as I went along that what I was writing was below par. I had some good ideas. I could craft a story but it was nothing special. The longer form didn’t suit me and, after a year of creativity, even my short stories were running short on innovation.

At this stage I had been a book blogger for six months. I was reading and reviewing some fabulous works, many from little known authors who deserved wider recognition. I recognised that I was not, and never could be, one of them.

I am grateful to the editors at Yeah Write. They have saved me so much time trying to be something I am not. They have saved readers the effort of reading yet another poorly written tome.

I believe that my fiction writing has helped me to become a better book reviewer. I understand the skill and sheer hard work that is required to produce a well written, compelling and polished novel. I understand how hurtful it can be when readers criticise, the buzz that positive feedback generates.

I will still occasionally write a short story, just for the fun of being creative, but I no longer aspire to anything further. I will not be taking part in NaNoWriMo this year.

.
Jackie Law is a wife, mother, hen keeper and writer. Born and raised in Belfast during the height of The Troubles, she is now enjoying the peace of rural life in Wiltshire. She posts book reviews and other musings on her personal blog. You can follow her on Twitter here. Her dreams and demons continue to make her what she is.

Reviewing fictional sex

As a reviewer I will always try to be fair in my critiques but what I write is still personal opinion. I can say what aspects of a book I enjoyed or disliked but these are feelings: enjoyment, dislike. They are a reaction that I have had to the prose, coming to it armed with the baggage of my own unique life experiences.

Part of this baggage is a strong antipathy towards sex scenes. Digressions into sex are too often voyeuristic rather than key to plot development. If sex does drive a character’s actions then I would see that is a weakness which could be more effectively portrayed by suggestion rather than detail.

In films I am turned off by those soft lit, naked romps where sheets are artfully twisted to hide male body parts whilst showing female curves being slowly caressed. I watch awkwardly and wish we could get on with the story. Don’t get me wrong, when Mr Darcy emerged from the lake in his wet shirt and encountered Lizzie in the BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice I was as taken by this portrayal of a new, more gentle aspect of his character as the next woman (and some men of course). I still regret that the series ended with a public kiss. Even at a wedding such behaviour struck me as inappropriate for the characters depicted.

In my own writing I have been criticised for rarely describing the outward appearance of my protagonists preferring to allow the reader to form their own mental image. I view how a character acts as more important than how they look. When I am reading a book I do not wish one character to be linked to another because of satisfying sex but rather because they make each other laugh, or admire each other’s talents or intellects. I want them to be interesting people rather than sex toys.

If one character is drawn to another by outward beauty the attraction is shallow, if by sex it is selfish. I realise that I am bringing my real life prejudices into my book preferences, but I struggle to get behind or empathise with a ‘good’ character when they display what I see as feeble tendencies.

Since the runaway success of Fifty Shades of Grey (which I have not read) it has become obvious that there are plenty of people who enjoy reading about sex. I therefore face a quandary each time I am turned off a book by a sex scene. I do not wish to decry the tale because of a personal dislike that others may not share, yet what is the point of a review if it is not honest?

Book reviews are written as an aid for other readers. To be useful, I cannot allow my personal prejudices to entirely colour my judgement. It is important to step back, to look critically at the quality and style of writing, coherence of character development and plot, at how compelling the story is. Once all of these have been considered though it is generally expected that a personal view will be shared. Perhaps I need to include a caveat when reviewing certain books. Perhaps that is what this is.

Random Musings: The fiction writer

It started with NaNoWriMo. Write a book in a month they said, so I did. It was rough, incomplete in places, and in need of a ruthless edit throughout; but it was a 55,000 word story with a decent enough plot and some interesting characters. It had a beginning, a middle and an end. More to the point, I realised that I loved writing fiction.

That story will never see the light of day, but it served its purpose as my launch pad. I may use some of the ideas, develop a few of the personalities, but I will not attempt to turn it into a book. What winning NaNoWriMo showed me was that I get a buzz from writing fiction, that it is a worthwhile pursuit in its own right.

From there I moved on. From there I started to think about writing stories for others to read.

I had been blogging for about a year and had picked up a following that I was unconvinced would welcome my foray into fiction. I decided to create a new blog for my stories. Inspired by a Bring Me The Horizon song, Can You Feel My Heart, I called it Dreams and Demons. I have learned the hard way over many years that I cannot drown my demons, but my writing now helps me to let them swim alongside.

Having created my fiction blog I wished to find readers. I looked around the internet for sites that publish other’s work and found Tipsy Lit. They liked the story that I submitted for their consideration and my career as a writer of fiction was born. Although a few of my stories have been published on other sites by submission, most have been written for open challenge grids. For several months I took part in the weekly Tipsy Lit Prompted (now sadly no more) and then the Yeah Write Speakeasy. When Yeah Write introduced the Gargleblaster (42 word fiction) I discovered that I enjoyed crafting micro fiction and joined 99fiction.com. My success in all of these has been mixed, but in putting myself out there I have found readers.

The internet is full of advice for writers and I wanted to continue to improve. I enrolled in an on line Creative Writing course where I got my first slap down from a critic who objected to the structure of a story and my use of commas. Despite my best efforts with Google I have never quite grasped the finer details of comma usage. Structure though? My writing style is my own and I had no wish to conform to someone else’s ideal.

I wonder now if that was arrogant of me. The Yeah Write site introduced moderation and my submissions were rejected. I got a note explaining that one had significant grammar issues, the other was rejected without comment. It would seem that the moderator has the same views of my writing as the critic on my course.

Grammar matters and, as a result of this feedback, I have ordered a writer’s handbook recommended by a lovely author friend who runs writing courses for young people so knows her stuff. I will do what I can to overcome my comma usage blindness. In the meantime, the wind has been taken out of my creative sails.

Writing is always going to contain ups and downs, positive comments from some readers and rejection by others. We each come to a piece of writing coloured by our individual experiences, looking for something different.

On line communities ebb and flow. It can be hard to walk away from one that I respect and felt a small part of, but if I am unable to be what they want then I believe it is best to bow out. I find that I can be more honest in my writing than in any other aspect of my life. I do not wish to compromise the therapeutic value of that, even if it would make me appear ‘better’ in some people’s eyes.

How boring it would be if all writers were the same. As a book blogger I am presented with a plethora of works from a wide variety of authors. I do my best to be eclectic in the genres I request to review as I want to be exposed to different writing styles, to appreciate and to learn from them.

Perhaps the biggest issue with my own writing is my sensitivity. My stories are my babies and, when they go out into the world, I want them to be loved. If the cool kids will not accept us then it may not be necessary to radically change, but I suspect we will be happier finding somewhere else to hang out.

.

CoolKids

 

 

Not good enough

grammar

Grammar matters. The rules of writing are there for a reason and should be adhered to. Just as with the law, lack of knowledge is not a valid defence. Grammatical errors grate like a nail on a blackboard when encountered by those in the know. By definition, good writing does not contain bad grammar.

I am not an English scholar. My primary degree is in Computer Science, a discipline that also requires attention to detail. Programmers need to be careful, methodical and stick to a strictly defined language and structure. I never was much good at programming.

Where I excelled was in analysis and design. I could come up with ideas and communicate them to the staff who used the systems. I understood that experts speak different languages, and that these differ more radically than just commonly used jargon or acronyms. What one considers intuitive another will need to have explained from first principles. I was a bridge between departments, writing clear proposals that the users could understand and detailed specifications that the programmers could work with. Creating precise documents for others to refer to was a big part of my job.

Where does fiction writing fit into all of this? I have so many ideas for the stories that I create over on my Dreams and Demons blog but am being pulled up on my execution, on my grammar. Readers are kind enough to give me positive feedback on the micro and flash fiction that I write, but under new moderation rules at one of the sites that I submit to it is being rejected for falling foul of language rules.

This site is known for the quality of its writing. If standards are to be maintained then somebody has to weed out the submissions that are not good enough, the participants who have no idea what a comma splice is and who play fast and loose with their comma usage in general. Contributors know from the clearly stated rules that this can happen.

For me it is not about rushing a piece or neglecting to proof read. I read and reread my work until I can barely see the words. I Google the rules and try to understand, run my work through on line grammar checkers in the hope that they can help. Still it seems those pesky errors slip through. My lack of knowledge is no excuse, but I am at a loss as to what to do next.

Do I seek out another fiction site to play at? Do I keep submitting entries in the hope that one week my random scattering of commas will pass muster, that my sentence structure will improve? To those of you who feel irritated that I don’t just go away and learn the rules, I have been trying to do that all my life.

This week I was rejected by the two grids (micro and flash fiction) that I tried to enter. I won’t pretend that this didn’t hurt, although I appreciate why it was done. If you would like to read the submissions that passed muster check out The Speakeasy for flash fiction and yeah write weekly writing challenge for micro-stories and non-fiction. If you read all the entries on a grid then you can vote for your favourites. These writers are good.

 

My writing process

ideas

I write a lot of blog posts in my head, especially when I am lying in bed at night snuggled down under my duvet and just about to drop off to sleep. These blog posts are amazing. The subject matter is interesting and amusing, I find the exact words to convey the desired meaning without effort. They flow perfectly, effortlessly from start to finish and would leave the reader with a wry smile of satisfaction and empathy; if they ever got written that is, because of course they don’t. I fall asleep and, by next morning, can rarely recall even the subject of this textual masterpiece.

Sometimes I decide that the idea is just too good to allow to slip. I crawl out of bed in the dark, find pen and paper, and note down a few salient points that will ensure that this post can be created the next day. Having disturbed my tired body on the cusp of a beautiful sleep I will lie for the next hour tossing and turning, persuading myself that lost rest is a small price to pay for the wonderful prose that I will soon create. I wonder if I should just get up and produce the thing, but my need for that elusive sleep, and my husband’s habit of complaining if I try to stay up overnight (he has experience of the grumpiness that would ensue) keeps my head on the pillow.

The next morning I will eagerly seek out an opportunity to write; fetch coffee, my computer and consult the notes that will prompt all those fabulous words to flow. I read the line or two jotted down by torchlight in the wee small hours and perplexedly ponder their significance. Whatever magic they possessed is gone forever, as if it were a dream. I write something else entirely, and publish with the knowledge that it is a poor shadow of that lost prequel.

My best posts are always created at the most inopportune moments. I could be driving my car, cooking a meal or enjoying a long, country walk. Unless I can hold those thoughts and get a few paragraphs down they are entirely lost, unwritten and forgotten. Although I always carry a notebook and pen, a few sentences are not enough to capture the flow of my inner mind. Even when I start to write I find the ideas going off at tangents I had not anticipated. My posts rarely finish as conceived, my writing method is volatile and unpredictable.

I am happiest starting with a simple prompt, a blank page and no preconceptions. I am not always satisfied with what is produced, but value the creative practice. The feedback I receive rarely reflects my view on the quality of the words. Any piece of writing will be interpreted by the reader based on their life and experience, something that cannot be anticipated. I put my thoughts out for my own benefit, although I do nurse a fragile hope that they will touch a chord with someone, anyone else out there in cyberspace.

I am never short of ideas, even if these do rarely turn out as anticipated. My planning consists of deciding on a publishing platform and allowing for subsequent deadlines. As a hobby writer I do not let others down if I fail to produce a piece of work. I do feel personal disappointment, but recognise that what I write truly matters only to me.

Sometimes I think that I should carry a recording device and capture my thoughts when they are fresh. Would this work though, or would ordering the imagined words sterilise their fluid beauty? I may feel a certain sadness that I cannot capture the posts that I create in my head, but the vagueness of my writing process generally works for me. With enough practice I hope to move even a fraction closer to that distant perfection of my dreams.

“I think there are two types of writers, the architects and the gardeners. The architects plan everything ahead of time, like an architect building a house. They know how many rooms are going to be in the house, what kind of roof they’re going to have, where the wires are going to run, what kind of plumbing there’s going to be. They have the whole thing designed and blueprinted out before they even nail the first board up. The gardeners dig a hole, drop in a seed and water it. They kind of know what seed it is, they know if they planted a fantasy seed or mystery seed or whatever. But as the plant comes up and they water it, they don’t know how many branches it’s going to have, they find out as it grows.”  (George R.R. Martin)

 

 

 

 

Not an island

A simple opinion knocked me for six this weekend when, after a busy day, my fifteen year old son informed me that I do not manage my time well; and his Dad promptly agreed with him. I am still trying to gather the scattered thoughts that this has generated. They are churning around inside me, refusing to be tied down in any meaningful way.

I tried to talk it through with them at the time. I remained calm and rational, but the result was not positive. My husband gleefully warned his son that women are bundles of hormones to be treated with caution. This made me want to lash out at him, an act that would only have served to reinforce his point.

I wonder if this is how toddlers feel when they throw a tantrum. The small world that they inhabit does something that they feel is grossly unfair and they do not know how to deal with it. They scream and kick and cry because they know of no other way to handle what is going on inside their heads.

It can be hard to find the words to adequately convey the multitude of emotions that conspire to overwhelm when a flippant or critical remark hits a nerve. I do not fully understand why I was so hurt by what was said. I have been judged by my son’s standards and found wanting before, yet been able to shake it off. Timing is crucial.

I found it hard when my children started judging me. For so many years they looked up to me for love and guidance, believing the answers that I gave to the many questions that they asked. As they grew older they came to realise that there are people in the world who do not hold the same point of view, that their parents may not always be right. As they learned to think for themselves, to question what they had been told, they started to pass judgement.

Teenagers can come across as abrupt, appearing to believe that the opinions they have formed are always correct, and those who disagree are wrong. Some adults of my acquaintance have never grown out of this stage, but most gain life experience and recognise that few issues are black and whit; they understand the varying shades of grey. This is a lesson that I try to pass on to my children, that they need to listen and try to empathise even if they do not agree.

Perhaps I have expected too much empathy. What is important to me, how I choose to spend my time, appears incomprehensible to my son; and also, it would now seem, to my husband.

I felt angry that I was not being granted the autonomy to decide for myself how I would spend each day. Of course, there are tasks that I must complete; as housewife and mother I have certain responsibilities. Beyond this though I had assumed that I was free to choose for myself.

Perhaps the real hurt came because what I had been doing revolved around my writing. I had believed that they realised how important this activity has become for me, and accepted that it is a time consuming process. They do not need to share my passion for it to be valid.

I spent much of Sunday off line, working hard in the garden in an attempt to drive the demons out of my head through sheer exhaustion. It did not succeed, although at least I now have a tidier garden.

As time passes the issue fades into the background, superceded by other, more pertinent matters. What is left is my disappointment that I do not have the support that I had taken for granted. This hurts, that in their eyes my personal enjoyment and satisfaction are not justification enough.

A part of me wants to ignore what they think but I cannot deny that their perception of me matters. It is hard to be considered foolish by those we love.

I suspect that they would prefer me to spend less time writing and more time doing the things that they see as worthwhile. Changing my behaviour to please others in this way goes against so much of what I encourage my children to do, to be themselves.

I have a busy week ahead so time management will matter. Do I compromise, capitulate; or do I ignore their views? I wish to live peacefully with them, but also with myself.

writer_woman_beach

So what do I do all day?

As a stay at home mum there are plenty out there who love to comment on my lifestyle, choices and use of time. There is the obvious and predictable ‘So what do you do all day?’ To be honest though, most people are more subtle.

Some share such unasked for nuggets of thought as ‘I would get bored at home all day’ or ‘Have you thought of going back to work?’

Others point out opportunities that they seem to feel I am missing out on such as volunteer positions in areas of interest, or clubs and societies that they believe I would benefit from joining.

They mean well. They sincerely wish to help. These are friendly, caring people who have my best interests at heart.

The only problem with all of these well intentioned comments is that they suggest I have too much time on my hands. Please allow me to make an announcement people: I do not have nearly enough time to achieve all of the things that I wish to do. If you could arrange it for me, another half dozen hours each day would be great thanks. If you can’t manage that then I need to be more efficient with all that I already try to do in order to fit it all in.

I know that I am in the fortunate position of being able to choose how I spend a large chunk of my week. Once I get the food, cleaning, tidying and laundry sorted each day I can tackle my ‘to do’ list. There are ongoing jobs in the house and garden to see to, my hens to keep happy and a running list of tasks to complete for family members. After that I move onto the things that I choose to do for me, and it is here that I never have enough time.

I want to visit the gym, go for walks, swim, meet up with friends, read books, watch films and write. I cannot get all of these done in the time available.

Take this week as an example. I wanted to write three short stories for three challenges. So far I have written two, one of which I was pleased with and one which I felt I had to rush, but which I will submit for the useful feedback. I still hope to find time to write the third but I am not sure when I will be able to squeeze this in.

In order to participate in one of the challenges I was required to read over thirty short stories, so that has been my reading this week. I haven’t had time to open a book since the weekend, and I have been leant one that I really want to read. I need to clear this as I have agreed to do a book review for another on line site, so when my copy of that arrives it will take priority.

On two mornings this week I met up with friends for walks, getting rather wet in the process given our recent weather. It was great to catch up with these lovely ladies, but in choosing to walk I have not been able to find time to visit the gym or swim. I miss my relaxing swims as they give me an opportunity to think about and plan my stories.

I am sitting here writing again when I should really be prepping dinner, thus my early evening will be spent on that task. It all fits so long as I do not plan any relaxation time, so no films until the weekend.

Now of course, I could just not write. I am not required to read or exercise. So long as I keep the house ticking over most of the things that I do are for me. I am well aware that there are many people who do not have my freedom of choice, who have to go out to earn a living or who have young and demanding children to care for. I am well aware of the privileges that I enjoy.

My point is that I do not need more to fill my time, I already try to squeeze too much into each day. I have no idea how my friends find the time to go to their clubs and societies, I guess they just give these higher priority than some other things they may also consider doing.

That is what it comes down to after all, priorities. I have hobbies and interests that eat time. I derive satisfaction from creating stories, maintaining this blog, joining in with discussions on the writer’s communities on line to which I subscribe. I do what feels right for me, whereas others do what feels right for them.

So what do I do all day? As much as I can squeeze into the few short hours between when I get up in the morning and when I go to bed at night. At the end of each day, if I have created a new piece of writing with which I am pleased then I feel that I have achieved something. Perhaps tomorrow I will find time for that workout and swim.

However you choose to fill whatever free time you have, I hope that you derive enjoyment from it. Such time is never wasted.

writeratwork

Blowing my own trumpet

Last year I completed the NaNoWriMo challenge, an exercise that not only gave me a (very) rough draft of a novel that I was rather pleased with but also gave me more confidence in my ability to write fiction. Despite having spent much of my life making up stories in my head, even going so far as to write a few down, I had never been willing to talk much about my creations, nor to let anyone else read those that I committed to paper or hard drive.

The main lessons that I learnt from taking part in NaNoWriMo were that I find writing fiction great fun, a welcome escape and a stress release. When I came to the end of my draft novel I wanted to set it aside for a time before I returned for the first rewrite, but I knew for sure that I didn’t want to stop writing. It was at around this time that I came across Tipsy Lit and their Prompted challenges.

Not only does this reader’s and writer’s community publish a wide variety of fiction and non fiction pieces, run an online book club and host discussions on everything from books to booze; it also invites entries for a weekly competition. It was these Prompted challenges that drew me to get involved.

Each Monday a prompt is released and writers are invited to create a work of flash fiction (a story of around 500 words) which they link to a Prompted post on the following Friday. All entries are then included in a poll set up on the following day and readers have 24 hours to vote for their favourite entry. The story that attracts the largest number of votes will be published on the front page of the site on Sunday.

Up until this point the only writing that I had published were the posts on my own blog. I wrote a post inspired by a Tipsy Lit weekly prompt before realising that they were looking for works of fiction (note to self, read the instructions before you start). Undeterred I decided that I would write a short story as well, and what fun I had doing so. I knew that I had discovered a style of writing that I wished to explore further.

Why do people follow blogs? I can see no reason other than they like the writing style and content of what is published. Having gained a following for this blog I did not, therefore, wish to radically change it by starting to include the short works of  fiction that I now wished to offer for others to read. I decided to set up a second blog for my stories, thereby creating Dreams and Demons.

I have yet to win a Prompted challenge, not least because on each week I have entered I have been up against an author named Duncan Swallow from nobodysreadingme (if ever a blog name did not reflect the content then this is it). Week after week he just keeps attracting more votes than anyone else. Read some of his stories to find out why (he also publishes on ReadWave and Wattpad, as do I, but to keep up with his work it is best to follow him on Twitter where his handle is @duncanswallow1).

As well as Duncan though, I have also been up against quite a number of other impressive entries and normally manage to gain a few votes which is pleasing. More importantly, I am offered useful feedback and am enjoying the creative process and practice.

As a result of entering my work I was invited by the welcoming and friendly lady who envisaged and created Tipsy Lit, Ericka Clay, to submit a story that I had not published elsewhere for consideration. I was quite delighted when it was accepted for publication and thus, today, one of my short stories has been published on the Tipsy Lit front page.

Do go across to read Repercussions and let me know what you think. While you are there, check out the rest of the site, there is a lot of good content.

I know that I have a long way to go in my writing adventure so to have someone else believe that I am worth publishing is delightful. I still feel something of an imposter describing myself as a writer. The encouragement that I have received from this inclusive and friendly community gives me hope that, if I keep practising, perhaps one day I will get there.

1496466_1404179256490734_1863451325_o