My Brand NEW Novel

I am so proud of this, my first full novel.

This week my first ever YA mystery novel comes out and I am so excited. Following on from the short novella, ‘The Fathers, the Sons and the Anxious Ghost,’ which tested out my writing skills, I am delighted to see this passion project finally come to fruition.

Since writing this book I have established my little blog and so am shamelessly promoting my story here. Why ever not? I hope that you will check out the sample and consider pre-ordering my novel. If it is not your cup of tea, then perhaps I could ask you to drop a cheeky blog comment instead.

Here goes: An Extract From ‘Being Watched’.

“We’re off to Uni mate,” he said, breaking the silent reflection.

“I know. I need to double check the results as I still can’t believe I got an A in English.”

“Wonder how everyone else did.” Max continued.

“We will have to keep our eye on their statuses. I do hope Siobhan got what she had to get in order to make it to UCL.”

“I’ve just seen Martha’s status and she didn’t quite get what she wanted but is happy with her second choice of Uni,” said Max as he scrolled through timelines and checked a multitude of social media sites.

“I have texted Siobhan but she hasn’t got round to replying yet. She might even still be in bed,” I said, knowing that we had both been up later last night and she was well known for liking a good lay in.

Max changed the subject. He had become quite fixated on one of the pictures on the wall. It hung just above the bar area and I had never noticed it before. Perhaps it just hadn’t caught my eye up until now. But it sure as hell had caught Max’s.

“That picture is creepy. I mean it just looks so dark. All the other ones are bright and colourful but that one is murky and weird. What do you think?”

I turned around and tried to focus on it, but it took a while as it seemed misty and sort of out of focus itself. I gasped as I realised that the dark building surrounded by fields and trees had that familiar shape. Those strange pointed bits on the roof meant that I immediately recognised it. I quickly found myself walking over to it for closer examination. It was odd that it seemed to bend and muddle as I approached it. It was definitely a large house in the country, but had I misread it? I took a much closer look at the driveway and was taken aback to see that two people were standing there, with their bikes strewn nearby.

“That picture is of me and Siobhan. It’s that same messed up house. It is an aerial photo of us when we went round to pick up Siob’s scarf. Come and have a look!”

Max sped over and confirmed that it did look like it could be us. We were small in the photo but the bikes looked like ours and I was clearly wearing my blue coat while Siobhan had her red jacket and she was definitely picking up the bright blue scarf at the exact moment that the photo was taken.

I saw the owner, Lilly, coming past and called out to her.

“Hey, how long have you had this picture?” I asked politely.

“Oh. This old thing. Someone donated it recently when they saw that we had a hook with no picture on. It filled a gap, that’s for sure,” she replied with her usual lovely manner.

“Do you know what it is a picture of?” Max asked.

“No idea. Just think it looks interesting and unique.”

“Kind of creepy though, don’t you reckon?” I continued.

“We like quirky. The girl who brought it in was lovely but a little peculiar. I just felt it added to the character of the place. Quite a few people have commented on how mysterious it is.”

I decided I might as well ask more about the girl.

“You didn’t know the girl? Did she have a tattoo on the back of her hand?”

“Not sure really. I just remember she had jet black hair flowing behind her back. I remember wishing my hair looked that good.”

“Thanks anyway,” Max said, tugging at me to stop interrogating the busy lady any longer.

“You’re welcome. And I trust your exams went well, given the feisty meal you just ate.”

“Yes! Brilliant!” I said as I returned to the table and finished off the potatoes, thinking carefully about the significance of what just happened. Max looked at me with frustration.

“What does all this mean? I mean this is getting out of control.”













AD – How ‘Influencers’ Are Making An Impact

Sponsored Post – All opinions are my own in this article where I outline the rise of influencers.

Influencers can be supported on their journey by finding relevant partnerships.

When I first heard the term ‘influencer’ I wondered whether or not it was a joke. The idea that people can change their minds about something due to a blogger’s endorsement sounded unlikely. But I now realise just how valuable influencers can be when trying to negotiate choices and find products that suit me.

The rise of influencers is a really positive thing, in my view, because it opens up careers for talented people who have a knack for making good choices and explaining the benefits and downfalls of commercial products and services. People are making meal choices, product selections and deciding which destinations to visit on holidays, largely influenced by trusted social media creators.

Shining Stars

Joe Wicks (The Body Coach) is a UK lifestyle and fitness influencer that a friend told me about years ago and he came into the spotlight during the pandemic by providing daily PE lessons for children (and adults) who were learning from home. As his site covers all sorts of health related posts, he has become a much relied upon influencer and a trusted source.

Similarly Mrs Hinch, who started to share home cleaning tips, has become a massive source of inspiration, initially on Instagram and then more widely. My aunty first led me to her due to her advice on cleaning kitchen sinks and I soon discovered that lots of my friends were taking notice of her recommendations. Some of her ideas are really handy and time-saving.

Looking more internationally, a whole bunch of brilliant influencers have emerged in the lifestyle niche. You can find out more about a shining example, Mae Alexis, who created a book called, ‘28 Days of Sunshine’ as a way of promoting self-care through an attitude of loving yourself and finding positive ways to live your life. I follow quite a few bloggers and Instagram creators like Mae who promote positive living and do their best to tackle material that engages with mental health issues.

Influencing My Own Niche

When I established my blog properly, almost a year ago, I was keen to expand my reviews of books by also writing posts about other elements of lifestyle, such as health and wellbeing. I have enjoyed exploring other wonderful blogs and finding my own way into this community of bloggers who are widely respected. The whole process has been enjoyable and I feel grateful to get the chance to share my thoughts on everything from books to ecofriendly living.

Along the way I came across supportive bigger bloggers within the community of lifestyle influencers and they gave me plenty of food for thought. As a reader, you begin to trust a blogger when you read consistently high quality articles and reviews and start to try some of the products that they write about.

I have recently discovered a gut health drink which was recommended on a favourite blog of mine. It has already made me feel more energised and increased my trust for that particular blogger. Similarly, I have bought and read many books which were written about favourably by brilliant book bloggers who I follow.

Joining influencer networks was something I aspired to do but I was uncertain exactly how to do it and what was the best route. Recently I connected with Intellifluence who have a welcoming website and encourage new influencers to find their feet and go for it! Making connections with brands that are in line with your niche is a good way to integrate your website and consolidate your personal ‘influence’.

Building a brand is something we all aim to do as providers of online content. Finding the right partners and getting the most out of your niche is tricky and there are plenty of places to seek out support with this. If you are looking for more information, have a look at the Social Media Courses suggested in this useful post.

Make Your Mark!

So many people reading this will be influenced by good content creators in many different niches. But have you considered becoming an expert in your particular field?

Is there something that you feel passionate enough about to create a blog or Instagram account in that niche? Are you already creating content and wanting to expand your influence or link to relevant brands? Hopefully my article has got you thinking or even inspired you to join an influencer network too.

How to Write a Short Story.

writer working on typewriter in office

Have you ever wanted to write a short story? Maybe you plan to release a collection of short stories on Kindle? Or do you simple enjoy writing short fiction for pleasure? Here is my ‘How To’ that will give you some simple tips to help you along the way.

In my experience, writing short stories can be a very satisfying way of exploring the writing process. Not only is it fun, but it trains your mind to think more carefully about structuring fiction and starts you thinking about the stories that you read more analytically. Take a look at my steps to success and let me know what you think.

  1. Set a seed

    Every story starts with a little nugget of information; an idea. For the purposes of this article, let’s refer to it as a seed. Unlike with a novel, you only really need one fully formed seed to develop a brilliant short story. This can be an event, such as an accident on the way to work, a chance encounter between two potential lovers or a family day out to the zoo.

  2. Add a little compost

    A short story can require some planning, although that’s not always the case. It can still be organic as long as you have certain things in mind. Without all of the extra padding of a larger novel, you are not quite so restricted in fitting into a complex web of plot, setting and character development. You do need some compost though to root that original idea firmly into the ground and enable it to grow.

    A short story still needs one or more of the following:
    * A purpose (to simply make the reader smile or to point to a moral)
    * To have a strong voice (whether written in the first or third person) which is consistent and relatable.
    * An emotional tug (something to involve the reader and draw upon their empathy, thus sustaining their interest).

  3. Watch it grow

    ‘A watched kettle never boils’ they say, but a neglected story never finds an audience either. You need to review your writing regularly and be open to making changes as you go along. Reading it aloud can help you to uncover any parts that might sound too clunky. After all, if it doesn’t read well out loud, it probably won’t hold your audience’s attention for very long.

    Having said that, taking some time away from your writing to do other things can enable you to examine it with fresh eyes and pick out bits that you want to develop or need cutting completely. Editing is a harsh business but you just have to be confident in your own abilities and snip off some of those dead leaves.

  4. Keep it out in the open

    Sometimes you may be tempted to shelve a project quite early on. You may have that initial inspiration for a story and then life takes over and you file it away in a folder on your computer and before long, it’s just a distant memory.

    My advice would be don’t shy away from it. Keep coming back to it, even if only to add a sentence or two. Think about what you like about it so far and what else it really needs to tie up loose ends and bring it to a suitable ending.

  5. Water it

    The most important aspect of writing is editing, especially when you have a first draft. Sometimes the best way to begin with this is to share it with a trusted friend. Pick someone who will take it seriously and give it due consideration. Ask them to discuss it with you or even persuade them to listen to you reading it aloud. Once you have got a feeling for their reaction to it, hopefully they will be able to talk about what they enjoyed the most. Sometimes, without the need for negativity, just being aware of the most appealing sections can help you a great deal with a final edit.

    When somebody else shares the highlights with you, it can be easy to focus on those and make sure they are drawn attention to, sometimes by contracting other content or sidelining it altogether. It makes sense to embellish the good stuff but also make sure the overall story stays true to the message that you want to give. It is your story and you should feel comfortable with the direction it moves in. If you feel concerned that other people are changing that initial seed then hold your horses and stick to your guns.

  6. Put it in the window box for all to see

    The last stage of writing a captivating short story is letting it go. By this, I’m not referring to Frozen, but I’m saying simply put it out there in the big wide world. Short stories may be written for you alone and that’s fine. But if you do want to share your work then go for it. Pop it on your blog or include it in a website that allows you to publish your own work for free, such as Wattpad. Shout about it on social media, perhaps utilising one of the #writerslift opportunities on Twitter or shameless self promo threads.

    Be proud of what you’ve achieved and celebrate your accomplishment (perhaps even open a bottle of bubbly).

    All writing is challenging and takes a lot of effort to complete. So if you have spent time putting together a short work of fiction and have made sure to follow the above steps, you will definitely deserve to celebrate your achievement. I hope that you will begin to love the writing process as much as a I have. You can see some of my favourite short books here:

    If you found this helpful, please drop a comment below and perhaps consider following my blog for similar content.

writer working on typewriter in office
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