Welcome to my author's passions

This blog, is what I am passionate about, where I can share with you. Reviews, tips, hints, real help if I can, where you can share what you are passionate about!

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Journey of learning to write

Well as a few of you will know from following this blog, I have been having an eventful year but through it all I have met some wonderful people in the writing world. I say meet them I mean through Twitter, Facebook, email, writing blogs etc. We have never met in the physical sence.

I can honestly say Joanne at The Creative Penn, Gary at Bubblecow and of course Nick Daws (who without his courses and support none of this would have been possible) have truly been there with hits and tips and just the right amount of motivation to lead to the success of finally having my first ebook published. It is now with Smashwords.com at  http://bit,ly/aAgHV . Take Control Of your Pain is an ebook to help the reader be in charge of thier pain.

Copyblogger is another inspiration to continue to blog and learn the alien world (to me) of SEO. I have not mastered it yet. I know amongst the emails, the blogs and twitter updates find time to learn on a constant basis. The skills of writing, connecting with you the reader and the technical side of things. Producing a webpage, converting a word document to a pdf or a jpeg file ( that you need for a cover for your book).

These are all new skills to me, and in many ways a forgien language, one I feel I am at best currently a little better schooldays pigeon French! The big thing I am prepared to learn, I sometimes feel overwhelmed by it but don't we all when learning something new. It can be scary, outside our comfort zone from learning to drive to our first day at a new job. Just as you have a teacher at school, at tutor at universecity, a driving instrutor to teach you how to move a ton of metal from a to b, your parents encouraging your first steps and speech, we are constantly learning from the day we are born to the day we leave this planet. If we stop learning, stretching ourselves, we do not develop.

We all fell numerous times when learning to walk and our parents where there to guide us and pick us up. Just as I have met along my journey new people who have helped me and guided me even when they did not know it.
The writing world is like that, we may type at home alone but we have our support network, not just our friends and family who have supported me. Yes my biggest champion is my husband and he was the one who master the book cover I struggled with.

I am throughly happy with my third career, I have support now, never dreamed of from my previous careers. From real people I may never meet who just want you to succeed. That to me is priceless.

Friday, 29 October 2010

Welcome to my new Friday blog no 1

Welcome to my New Friday Blog which will be centred around health news ans tips.

Blog number 1 Why I choose my 1st ebook in this format.

Back in the late 70's everyone it seemed wanted to be a nurse. So the top schools of nursing as they were called then were able to pick and choose. I even enquired via the military route only to be told "get qualified in civvy street and then come back as our waiting list is too long".

I would go for interviews and dread the one question they would all ask, " Why do you want to be a nurse"? I never had a straight and sleek answer it was something I felt not an answer written down and rehearsed. It was not until I reached Bradford Royal Infirmary and the matron interviewing at the time fully understood immediately how I felt. It was instinct, it was something inside, so strong it was something you had to do!

Since then I have wanted to learn and pass on my knowledge. I now feel the same about my writing and whilst working on bigger projects of novels, I wanted to pass on my knowledge in an easy format. The modern way to pass on information quickly is through blogs, social media and ebooks.

Hence my 1st ebook Take control of your Pain evolved. A desire to get across to many people as would be interested the tips and teachings I use devery day with my patients.

Nobody likes to be in pain, it can be very miserable, depressive even. Ever had toothache, earache that no matter what you tried, you really did not feel the benefit. In the military there was a saying " any pain fix with tubigrip and Ibrufen" If that did not fix it then maybe physiotherapy, failure there too or little improvement and you have someone who is very fed up with his pain and the system. Sadly for too often the waiting lists for therapy are too long and often a shortage of therapists.

Many doctors as general practitioners or M.D.s have the similar conditioning to treating pain.
They do an excellent role but they must be jack of all trades and only truly master a few through experience.

What is needed is empowerment of the individual to learn how to control his/her own pain. Give him simple tools and exercises, show him/her there are alternatives. Build a better relationship with your health professional. Work with the health professional that suits you best, it may not be your doctor.

Pain control is only the start, I intend to release more ebooks, based on stress, cholesterol, Diabetes, How to beat the bloat and many more.
If you would like to sign up for my newsletter coming soon, Please either leave your contacts below or email me at info@takecontrolofyourpain.sloanwriter.com.
Look forward to hearing from you.

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Writing your book is only the first step!

Having a book, either printed form via a traditional route of a publisher, being self published or producing  a new ebook as I have is only the 1st step.My book was completed some time ago but I decided to publish it on Smashwords, this needs then to be completely reformatted but if you follow their guide you will succeed.Next I needed to produce a sales page to promote it and sell through clickbank, who needs a sales page or pitch page they call it and a thank you page.  You need to follow their guidance carefully and being no webmaster this took time.
I have been successful and now have copies of my book at both Smashwords and clickbank; I also promote it through my personal webpage and its own sales page.I am now utilising my previous experience of marketing and sales to promote, promote.
 Some interesting facts I have picked up, there are approx 65 billion people in the world, only 1.5 billion currently use the internet.  45 million users of the internet in the UK approx 70% of the population; which means 30% of the population have no access to my book if I purely at internet sales.
So with Kindle, IPAD’s Iphones, Ereaders etc on the increase, do I need to look at other methods of getting my message across.According to Business link SW 88 billion was spent on online sales last year and currently looking at 121 billion this year.
 So the book is written, published, it has a webpage, what else can I do? 
Social media and blogs.
The figures I am quoting again come from a business link workshop but Facebook were at 550 million users, it now thought to have surpassed 100 million.  Twitter over 160 million users, My space 110 million, LinkedIn 75 million all are approx as growing every day.
However YouTube is the 2nd highest most searched site on the internet.  Not sure if I am ready for it but I might brave a video of me talking about my book, watch this space!
Next I am looking at a newsletter but must think carefully as to the content etc but again watch this space!I have registered my sites with Google, Yahoo and Bing and in-between all this promotion, I need to write, like I need to breathe, it has become part of me.
So I blog, write articles and plan new books.  I am currently working on two projects, one health related subject and one for children of all ages including adults.
So to conclude I am now considering instead of fitting in blogs when I can, having a regular Wednesday blog as today on my journey of writing and having a Friday blog as a health related topic.
Let me know your thoughts, would love to hear from you.  Either leave a comment below or a message on my webpage of guest page.
Your choice, will gladly respond to all.

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

1st book published

Well we are here at last!!

Where is here you ask, well in case you did not get the memo, Lesley aka sloanwriter first ebook is now published. So far it is on Smashwords.com and hopefully soon on Clickbank.

On Smashwords, your book goes through the affectionally known process as the meatgrinder. You need to format your book in a way, you may otherwise not for a PDF for example. The plus side is that the meatgrinder makes it avaialbe to any downloadable format. Kindle, IPad, Epub, etc, the downside is that you can't have any text boxes or tables. If you only want to sell your book as you intended then opt just for Clickbank not Smashwords. However if you do not have  text boxes ( mine was for a drawing) or tables as in a novel, they are excellant if you follow thier guidelines for formatting.

For those of you who have not heard, my first ebook is about pain management. Take Control of your Pain.

Is a how to guide to enable anyone to gain a better understanding of thier pain, put them in charge and not let them feel overwhelmed by it. Simple tools to use on a daily basis whether you have a pounding headache, back ache, joint pain or even cancer pain. You can show your pain who is boss and develop a better relationship with your medical practitioner or health professional. In effect you can talk their language.

Anyone can benefit from this book, if you suffer from a painful condition or just a nagging headache, this can help you take control.

If I have whetted your appetite or you are one of the many asking when it was to be published, I have a 50% off promotion, all I ask in return is that once you have read it, please leave a review. To gain your 50% discount you need to add this coupon code at checkout. HX32N this is valid currently for a short promotional time only, so hurry, buy, read and review soon.

Many thanks to all for your patience

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Life as a writer and an Army wife

I have been asked to write a blog on life as a military wife.

Well I am not just a military wife but a military mum.

My husband is currently serving in his 24th year of service and my son is in his 8th year. The feelings they both evoke are like chalk and cheese but the ultimate one is always of worry.

My son is in the Royal Navy of which he enjoys his time away, I tend not to worry too much as long as I know he is OK mentally and physically but most of all safe. As a mum I have only asked and tried to support my children to be safe and happy. I know realistically this is not possible at all times, they both ride motorbikes and both have had accidents. They have both experienced heartbreak but I would like to think I am here for them both no matter what life throw at them to give them the strength to fight back (metaphorically of course). No I do not worry too much about my son and his choice of career unless I do not hear from him, so I guess the key to that is communication. Can be a tricky one sons don't always want to ring home as much as Mum's would like. I tend to worry more when he is at home than away, maybe it is what I don't see I don't worry about.

My husband on the other hand has one of those dangerous jobs even when he is floating a desk as they say. he is my all action hero and loves to be busy. Although we miss each other terribly when he is deployed, i know he is really in his element as it is what he is trained for. He is known as Mr Safety in a very dangerous environment, I feel comforted he will not take unnecessary risks but will get the job done. Many soldiers both above and below in rank have learned much from his experience.

I have told him repeatedly I do not want more medals but for him to come home safe and so far, we have kept to that deal.

How do I cope with the separation whilst he is on deployment, communication, communication. I can't stress that enough, we are very fortunate that now we have wifi spots in theatre, we also have a brilliant system called ebluey's. What is an ebluey, well I can type an email via the site before I go to bed and I generally know by the time I wake up in the morning. My husband has had my email printed and sealed as a letter and delivered to him and most certainly read by him. That gives me as a wife and in particular an army wife, a feeling that is hard to express even as a writer.

Phone call are secondary as although fantastic to hear each others voice it is not something you can rely on, as you can imagine their are thousands of troops wanting to ring home and never enough lines free. The worst feeling is missing a call and waiting for the next one.

I said before communication is the key to coping as is trust and the patience to school yourself that if you do not hear from your loved one, you have to teach yourself the mantra, "No News is Good News" I will confess I am not always the best at this but I have to believe it as do all other wives, girlfriends, Mum's, boyfriends, husbands, sisters and brothers.  Sadly we have lost friends, too many friends, and they are sorely missed but the system works if the worst were to happen, you are notified as quickly as humanly possible with today's super fast technology to assist.

So although being a military wife and mum is not the easiest position in the world, it is one I do with pride and as much love and support I can muster.

As a writer it does not matter the odd hours we sometimes keep, or if we move from place to place ( we have had 3 address in the last six years).I can write anywhere but I do need peace and quiet!!

Maybe another key is being flexible, as most military families can concur it is easy to be caught up in the big machine of service life.  I see it as not a career choice after all its not mine, I did not choose a military life, I choose my husband. I believe it is not a career choice but a way of life. It can be a rich and rewarding life with the many friends we have made along the way.

It is a journey, one where we have laughed, cried, toasted friends in too much port lost but never forgotten.
We are now planning our life, post the Army, for me that will still be supporting my husband in his new adventures and probably writing about it along the way.

Monday, 30 August 2010

Goals, pledges to self, good tools for writers! 1st book!

Last week I made myself the goal and a pledge to you my readers that I would complete my ebook and have it ready to publish by the 1st September.

The Good news is that not only did this work and spur me on but I have finally written, edited and rewritten, formatted and converted into a PDF file my first ebook.

I am now working on sales and thank you page as well as gearing up the publicity for said book.

Sales and thank you page giving me a few gray hairs even with Nick Daws The 10 day ebook course as guidance. Still when I have mastered this it will make it so much easrier for the second, third and beyond. Please note I am being positive here I will write more books and it will be easier.
Well best I give you the title of new book, it is a how to book, how to control your pain and guess what book title is Take Control of your pain.

A guide to assist you the reader to take control of your pain, be that a headache to back pain, arthritic pain to cancer pain. I strongly believe there is no such thing as uncontrollable pain just you do not have the tools to deal with them.

The book aims to give you the tools to be in control and not feel helpless against your painful condition.
I strongly believe with "knowledge comes power" you should be able to feel empowered to take control, develop a better relationship with your doctor or health professional.

It looks at alternative therapists and how each of them can help you.

Well I will tell you more once I finally have sales page etc written so If I have whetted your appetite, you may decide to buy!

The big point here is if I can do it so can you if you so want. There are loads of information out there and sometimes you need to filter but as well as Nick Daws, there are others who have helped along this journey. Gary @bubblecow and Joanna @creative penn, business link here in the UK have been very helpful regarding the practical stuff, how you set yourself up as self employed etc. Websites and how to promote through Twitter and Facebook all things I have learned along the journey.

If any budding writers/authors out there want to know more please do not hesitate to get intouch.

Once book available will let you know how to get your hands on it and for those who buy through the blog a discount will be available so get in quick!

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Writer's routine

So it hit me this morning, in the shower of all places, I was actually starting to get back a good routine. This was reminscent of the days I rushed out each morning either in uniform to the hospital or in suits to the high powered, high energy and at times high stress sales career!

For those of you who read my earlier blog this week, you will know of the pledge I made to myself to complete my ebook and have it ready to publish by 1st September. Yes I do mean this year!!

So far it is working, i was able to sit and write, edit and rewrite nearly half of the book yesterday. Although a quick review of the second half, might take a little longer.

So my epithany this morning, Do other writers have a routine? Yesterday I felt able and comfortable not doing any housework. I did manage to retrieve some meat from the freezer to defrost for the making's of the evening meal. No I did not manage to make it, have it lovinly prepared and on the table for when husband came home.
Was he bothered, no he was pleased as I had achieved a good writing day and it gave him the opportunity to fetch the cookery books. He used to enjoy cooking, which we shared when I worked full time but since turning my back on the long hours driving to working from home; he has had less opportunity.
He has already decided on a Jamie Oliver recipe for tonight, my input required, some nice fresh baked bread to go with his culiarny delight. So the bread is in the bread maker, the coffee pot has been refilled ready to start my writing day.

The routine I had set myself in order to discipline and focus my efforts on my writing, set me thinking what do other writers do?
We work from home, we set our own hours but do you have a set routine or do you wing it?
Do you have a favourite pen?
A particular mug for your brew? Mine's a mug I treated myself to from the Literary company " Go away I'm writing". When I bought it, I thought it was sending a message to the family, not to distrate me but the truth is I believe it is a message for me to focus on my writing.

If I want to focus this as my third career, I need to treat it as such. So feeling confident with freshly blow dried hair and even a bit of lippy on I am ready. I may not wear the suits anymore but if I treat my new career casually, how can I expect anyone else to take it seriously?

So I ask the writers/authors out there, what's your routine?
How do you focus and separate home from our work, our writing?

Love to hear your thoughts, Please leave a comment below or find me on Facebook or twitter as Sloanwriter.
Thanks for stopping by.

Monday, 23 August 2010

Focus on writing time!!

I am sure it happens to us all, it seems to happen to me all the time.

I try to make TO DO lists and neatly cross them off as each completed but the list seems to get longer and I seem no nearer to completing a my list and b and most important my writing tasks of the day.

I Twitter and check Facebook, promise myself not to read every blog or listing that catches my eye and I am getting better at that, pat on the back!

The distractions start with a phonecall, the doorbell, the workmen who fail to turn up when arranged, then before you know its hunger, so you stop to eat, vacuum left in middle of the floor from when you answered the phone and have not yet got back to finish it. Worse you think I will multi task hahaha! I will eat lunch and check emails, Twitter and Facebook and you look up, food has gone cold as well as coffee, need to make a fresh one and it is 3pm and the day is racing away.

Congratulations are in order if I somehow manage to write my blog, at the moment this seems a huge task after not writing at all for over 3 months. If you have read previous blogs, you will have seen I doubted my ability ever to write again, yet here I am.
So why am I struggling to get that first ebook finished and published I lack focus and do not place it as a high enough priority thats the underlying problem.

The excuses I find are endless, housework, washing, drying, walk the dogs or just check Twitter again in I missed something, then an alert pops up from Facebook, so must check that and the hours whizz by.

The promises I have made to myself and failed to keep, I never fail in a promise to others so why do I do it to myself?

Well today a pledge I write to you is that once this post is published to retrieve the paper version of my ebook, and edit away, tomorrrow type revisions, send to my mentor and work on Sales page. I am going to give myself and everyone the deadline of 1st September to have it ready for publishing.

According to a fun article posted my Nick Daws, we both write like Dan Brown well if I am ever to reap any rewards a firm kick up the butt is required. Today I read another blog stating how much writers make, well this is not to be a part time hobby but a full time career.  I am extremely lucky to be supported whilst writing by my loving husband but that does not mean I can't more than supplement our income.
So as I reminded self, dust will always be there long after I am gone to worry about it; the family will not starve if meal  is not on the table but I will have regrets if I do not achieve my writing aims and goals.

One thing noted today is that Penquin have opened thier doors for new submissions, well I have a synopsis of a novel or two and I am going to dig them out brush them up and send at least one off. 
I have outlined a series of ebooks but they will be out of date if I don't pull my finger out or fingers across the keyboard. On top of that I have 3 novels in outline, synopsis stage. So if you don't see me on Twitter or Facebook fear not I have not died but starting to focus, starting right now!!

I will keep you posted!!

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Funerals, one certainty in life, my top ten of how to make it easier!!

As many of you will knw we have been hit by multiple breavements this year, no this is not me talking of my struggle as a writer but more to pass on my tips on how to manage them the best you can.

It seems we can talk about anything and everything in life but not death and how it effects those left behind.

1/ If it is at all possible talk to your family about it, your parents, your siblings, your children, your partner. Do you know what they want? Do you know what you want and have you told them?

2/ Have the conversation with them if you haven't already, talk as if you had died yesterday or they had,( don't tempt fate) do they know what you want and are you clear on how they would like thier funeral.

3/ Do the want a creamation? Or a Burial? Is there a burail plot? Where do they want there ashes to go if creamated. A religous cermonary? A wake? Hymmns?? A favourite song? Flowers or a charity collection.

4/ Remember you are not being morbid, This is the one certainty in life, we are all going to die at some point. Nothing else in life is a (excuse the pun) dead certain than death.

5/ Take the fear out of it, for example what do you want to wear in your coffin, if you do not provide clothing for your departed loved one, they will probably end up in a frilly shroud! Is that what you want, is that what they would want?  My husband has decided he wants to go in his winter wetsuit, he rather likes the idea of the struggle the funeral staff would have with that one! He even told one firm recently and they laughed and said they would start collecting the jars of Vaseline now! I want to go in one of my glamourous ball gowns, made up to the nines looking my best. How about you?

6/ Having never arranged a funeral before we floundered a little, this blog if you take it on board is so you do not have to. What notice do you want to put in the paper? Do you want to put the announcement in the paper? Well traditionally most of us do and it is a good way of informing some extended friends or ex colleagues you may have lost touch with. We found it a good way to cover the bases, as you can never be sure you have informed everyone and would you know everyone to inform of your loved ones departure.

7/ Be aware of the costs involved, sadly even dying has its expence. To place an announcement in a paper will cost an average £100 to 200 plus depending on how much you want to say. We thought we had kept it brief but including children, grandchildren and great grandchildren cost £175.00. This has to paid on placing the annoucement. Papers do not wait until an estate has been settled.

8/ You will probably need to pay at least 25% of the cost of the funeral before it takes place, could be more for a burial. This could be at least a £1000.00 An easier way around this can be if your loved one had purchased a funeral bond, it is certainly something we will be looking into. A funeral bond means purchasing at todays prices and you can even express how you want you funeral to take place but please discuss it with your loved ones. Recently attending a funeral of a family friend, he had expressed he wanted it quick and simple, you might say we all do but we did not realise, he meant no vicar, no religous cermonary, no hymnns, no euogoly nothing, just a piece of music chosen by himself played before, a few minutes silence to say goodbye and more music of the same tune to file out to. Personaly I think this was awful, it might have been his wishes but he did not discuss it with his family. A funeral is your loved ones time to say goodbye but it is also time for your family and friends to say goodbye and remember the good memories. People want to pay thier respects, they need time for this, so remember this when discussing yours with your family.

9/ You may think a life assurance policy is the way to go, remember these can take time to pay out, maybe held up by Probate in England and Wales or Confirmation of Estate in Scotland. If you want to go this way, go small, just enough to pay for your funeral and immediate bills. Including copies of multiple death certificates at current rates of £9.00 each, bank accounts, polices, investments all want to see an orginal copy of a death certificate. Very few places accept a certified copy of even a photocopy.
A larger policy usually anything over £20000 has to go through the court for Probate or Confirmation. So if you have a larger one maybe to leave something behind or pay off your mortgage, consider a smaller one separetly or look at the Funeral bond previously mentioned.

10/ A wake or not to have a wake, I have been to both and personally prefer a small wake. Just a chance to take it all in, have a bite to eat and drink, no it does not need to be a massive party  but if you want one then please provide for it, don't expect your breaved loved ones to find the extra cash.

Lastly a good tip I can pass on, if you are invited back to the breaved persons home, be supportive but don't outstay your welcome, they are going to be exhausted and need sometime to themselves.

I hope you have not found this post morbid just something I have had a more experience than most of recently and wanted to share some tips, to make what can be very stressful and distressing time a little less so.

Russell Brooks: The Official Website

Russell Brooks: The Official Website

Russell Brooks is publishing his first ebook, he is a Canadian thriller author with his debut novel, Pandora's Succession, the short story.

Have a look, you might enjoy and you never know he might return the favour sometime.

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Writers Block!!

This blog has been quiet since May with good reason.

I had a severe case of writers block, some will say no such thing, some will say distract yourself and the ideas will flow. Unfortunately I have had too much distraction. As a writer nobody could have prepared me for mind numbing feeling that comes from breavement. Sadly this past year we have been affected by too many, some of them friends and servicemen but since May my husband's parents passed away within 24 days of each other. Since then three more, lifelong family friends and sadly another serviceman.

Nothing can prepare you for how death in a family effects you, we are all different, to me as a writer my voice in my head might as well died with them. I thought it temporary and it was in the scheme of things 3 months is temporary.  It was  going from a head that woke each day bursting with new ideas, not always good ones but always something buzzing in my head to silence. It felt a deadly silence!!

At first I described it as a head full of cotton wool, it was as if my head was at saturation with everything else going on, helping to organise funerals, managing our grief we were a team, my husband and I but many expected us to support them in thier grief too.

They describe it was one of the most stressful things we as humans go through, up there with moving house and divorce. Believe me I have been through divorce ( twice and both painful) and house moves too many to mention, price of being married to the service life. Breavement of this magitude makes the previous experiences seem like a walk in the park and believe me; neither was ever a breeze.

On bad days I thought I would never write again but every now and again I would get a glimmer of an idea, it would never last long. I truly thought I would have to job hunt again and go back to stress mill of sales again.
Well slap me down for such lack of faith in myself, I just needed to give myself time, be kind to myself. So if you are ever affected by writers block, don't ignore it, maybe it is your brain just looking for a rest, maybe you are just a little overloaded.
My advice, step back, listen to yourself, if you truly can't hear anything, then do something else for me recently it has been baking. I started on Sunday and today baked some more, bread of all things maybe kneading the dough was therapy for the brain but at least it allowed me to sit and write this blog.

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Motivation for a writer or anyone self employed

The figures are that there are 4 million self employed in the UK employing some 12million people.
That is not usually the case for us the writer/ author, we tend to be sole traders.
We are I am told though as self emplyed we are very good for the economy. 

Motivation usually comes in the form of income, we need to work to earn a living and when I have been self employed before, this was no obstacle as I was also the sole breadwinner. Fortunately for me my husband can support us. Although I want to earn my own income again, I want to fund a better pension for us.  I find on days like this when inspiration and motivation are out of the window, it is hard to kick myself up the rear to do what needs to be done.

Would love to hear from others, apart from income what is your motivation?
What do you do when you feel you need a kick to get going in the right direction for your goals.
It is easy to get distracted, the advice is to Tweet and have a Fan page on Facebook, a website and a blog. I know tick all of those boxes but it seems a bit pointless if I haven't completed my first book.

I have written emails, tweeted, checked out some extra sites, even purchased a book on Freelance writing to see if there was anything I was missing. Yes you have it, clients and that 1st project completed.
Submitted a further article to Factoids, I have a guest blog to complete but drive is out the window.
Have I lost my get up and go for writing or is today just a bad day?
Have decided laptop is not being turned on tomorrow until I have handwritten my book, will then switch off the internet so not distracted by twitter, Facebook updates, or worse still shop on Ebay.

So as the creative flow is not flowing that well today, I am going to walk the dogs, now that they have recovered from thier bugs, bless them. I am then going to look at my hosting to prepare sales page, maybe if I prepare that it will motivate me to get going and complete it. Who knows??
One thing I have not subjected myself to as yet is day time TV, then I will know all is lost.

Lastly it has hit me I need to revisit my SMART goals, have a picture of that new house, we want to retire to on the coast, a picture of the sports van to take all of husbands toys (sorry sports equipment). Kayaks, buggies and kites, wetsuits etc. Husband enjoys paddling by means of Surk kayaking, even runs The British Army team, so a van fitted out with all the mod cons would come in handy. I need to visulise these goals, make them real, maybe even have a goal of being interviewed on my first book, who knows the sky is the limit.

Well now I am in the flow, I think it will be a shorter walk than planned as the brain is fired and the creative juices are flowing Yeah! A little motivation and the action is following, stand by!!

Monday, 17 May 2010

Life, Death, Breavement and how we deal with it!

Death is a part life.

 To some of us, we can't talk about it, it is almost a taboo subject.
It is the one certainty in life, we all share, in a very uncetain world; at some point we are going to die.

 STOP being morbid, some would say, others celebrate death as a new beginning.

Personally I accept death as part and parcel of life as we know it, regardless of beliefs.
Having lost a family member recently, it has been interesting observing as a writer, how others react to us as a family and deal with the loss themselves.
Being in a military family, we have lost friends in the war against terrorism. Suddenly losing a military friend hits us harder than losing an older member of the family whose death is expected due to illness.

We all grieve in different ways, but there are steps we all share and experience at some point. Usually the first is Denial, then there is Guilt, Anger, Acceptance but lastly as we move on but not forget, a time of forgiveness.We do not forget our loved nor our friends but we live our lives without the huge burden of pain than can overwhelme us, when first experiencing loss. Now we will not all experience all of these feeling in order. Sometimes we may even feel a combination of two or three together. Remember death is a part of life so we should all be comfortable talking about it.
Have you written your will? Most of us do not like to think about it, let alone do something constructive like a will and many will leave things very uncertain for the loved ones they leave behind.
On recent experience, it shows you need to talk about it. What are you going to wear? Sounds daft I know but it does matter to your relatives later. My husband joked, he would like to see the undertaker dress him in a full length winter wetsuit and booties! The mind boggles at the thought! I thought of one of my ball gowns and full make up,going out in style!

If being cremated, as the majority of us are these days unless you have the family burial plot, Where do you want your ashes to go?
In an urn on the mantlpiece, scattered to the wind over your favourite place. Just make sure whoever is doing the scattering, they know to place themselves upwind!! Otherwise not nice!
I heard of what seemed a beautiful way to me, to be placed in tubes along the sea bed to become part of living coral. There would be a small plaque on the outside, so relatives could dive to visit you. Not heard that it has reached the UK as yet but who knows, sounds good to me.
Above all, don't be afraid to talk about death, dying and the arrangements you would like, there no complaining about it after your gone!!

Saturday, 15 May 2010

Setting goals

Many of you will have heard and no doubt groaned when your employer has brought someone in to talk about setting goals. The setting of realistic achievable goals.
Achievable, or Actionable
Recordable or Realistic and most of all Review
Time Specific Targetted.

I have been there, more in the sales enviroment than in my health career, sometimes they worked but many times they did not, reason, I was doing it for the wrong reasons. I was only doing it for my boss, it was another chore I did not need in my already extremely busy life. We are all jugglers, some are better than others, I do not mean literally but metaphorically, we juggle our work/ life balance, our home life, children, parents, siblings, friends, social life, where does it end? Now they want us to write goals too?
That used to be my thoughts, I am organised enough, my time management is great, everything gets done one way or another, so whats the problem.
Why am I telling you this and what has it got to do with my new writing career? Hey why are you interested after all?
It is very easy as writers to procrasinate, we can sit staring at our notebook or pc screen awaiting inspiration but wouldn't it be great if when you started your day, you already knew what you were going to do, what you were going to write. Yeah! inspiration can hit us at any time and we have our notebook at the ready to write it down before its gone but if you have your to do list made up from and linked to your smart goals, how much better would you feel.
I thought I was being smart, I tried to set a goal of having my website up and running by the end of April. In reality I used my old method of not really following it through. Purchased my domain name and hosting, so I would be motivated to set it going. Well end of April came and went and guess what no website but I found a free one in which to practise, it was free so I could do it but not the one I had paid good money for, madness!
I also set myself the goal and target of 1st draft of 1st Ebook by end of April, this did not happen. I thought I could write it easily when away for 10 days in North Devon. Unfortunately I had not counted on the variables or what could go wrong, what my own strengths and weaknesses are.
In reality it was lovely sunny weather but no Surf and the main purpose of the visit was the Army Surf  Kayak competition. With a distinct lack of surf, which meant much of the team, hanging around the site debating the lack of surf and where they could find better waves.
It is a lesson I have learned, I need peace and quiet. I can write almost anywhere but not if there are too many distractions or like a butterfly I will flit from one thing to another.
Today I am enjoying the sunshine sitting in our car, whilst waiting for my husband whilst he sees his Osteopath for his strained back.
These quiet times offer the perfect opportunity for me to write. I have now rewritten my goals and although book not quite finished, website is up and running at http://www.sloanwriter.com/ .

It is only 8 degrees outside the car, however with the sun shining through it feels quite toasty; I even have the window half open, so I can hear the birds outside. I love writing in these circumstances, the words just flow across the page. does this mean I am a fair weather writer only, I sincerely hope not.

Where do you write best? If not a writer, in what circumstances do you shine best in your work and home?
Take these into account when you write your goals.

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Three little words

One the writing tips that I have learned from Nick Daws course "write any book in 28 days" is to take three random words and come up with a short story with them.

This was my attempt the other day: The words were: Diary   Fish  Moon.

So here goes:

We keep a few tropical FISH at home and last weekend we finally had a free DIARY so decided to venture out to the local aquarium. The aim of this last minute was to buy some new fish to add to the tank. We also desparetly needed to purchase something to eat the many snails happily muliplying in the tank.

We were advised on a humbug fish, ( we were probably told the technical name but as usual I forgot) as a bottom dweller. We were informed it would clean the tank of algae, a good point and most of all it would eat the many snails.

My husband was over the MOON with his new fish and humbug wasted no time at all in performing his duty.
The next day we noticed the tank appeared much cleaner and clear of snails; fantastic we thought!
We were about to praise little humbug, but he could not be found, Boris ( see pic on Blog) however seemed to be eating something off the floor.

When we checked, the humbug had apparently eaten so many snails it decided to commit suicide!! It had jumped, ( if fish can jump) out of the tank and Boris knows anything on the floor is fair game for him to eat.

We could not believe it, a suicidal fish!!

Thankfully considering this fish had a nasty sharp spine, no ill effects were seen on Boris although, he did not like the taste of his tongue for quite a while, the vets visit was not needed!

So you can see, three words as you will be surprised what you can write. I hope you enjoyed this light hearted piece of writing, would love to hear your feedback or if there is any topic, you would like me to write about.

Saturday, 1 May 2010

The writing habit!!

I have now picked up the habit!!

I take a notebook with me wherever I go, so if I am waiting for anything, out comes the notebook and pen and writing here I come.

Maybe, as a thought, I need to bring a few topics or questions from my latest book or novel to work on. With all the waiting we do, would soon have it completed.

Today I am waiting in a Dr's surgery; not mine or my husbands but one that has a visiting Osteopath. Husband injured his back last week and as a very active man, Kitebugging, Surf Kayaking, Hill Climbing as well as a member of her majesty's armed forces. He is not used to inactivity and hates taking the many pain killers he needs at the moment. he will agree with me, he is not the best patient; hence I made an appointment for today in the hope he would gain some relief.

Yesterday I wrote while waiting in the council offices, waiting for an appointment with my business advisor from businesslinksw. Well if you have not tried them then I would strongly recommend them and most of all it is free.
They are a national organisation here in the UK, so there will be one close by to you. My advisor answered all my questions, re the Taxman, when I should inform them, he clarified the national insurance, of class 2 and class 4. I dream of the day when I will be paying class 4 again! In case you do not know what that means, it means I will be earning in excess of 40K, so yes that day would be good.
The differences of Sole trader and Ltd company, they are completely unbiased and leave you to make your decisions after giving you the facts. How are they supported, if there service is free to the self employed, it is a government initative, so the taxpayer pays for this service and as we all pay our taxes, we are all paying for this wonderful service.
They have a website, http://www.businesslink.co.uk/  check it out; you may feel its not for you or you may find some great nuggets of information and support.
I lack the confidence to set up my website but it something I know I need to do, so guess what, they have an IT expert; who is going to ring me, answer those tricky questions I have and help give me the confidence to get Sloanwriter website up and running. Will let you know how I get on.

Thursday, 29 April 2010

What business advice do we need when setting up as a freelance writer/author

I was paying for my car tax online through the government portal Direct Gov. If you have not used it, it seems to have many links to cover most things that we the average Joe seem to want answers to.
The website is huge, no wonder they call it a portal. I am also due to send in my tax return for the last financial year and since deciding to step up my writing to a professional level from just a hobby.

I have been careful to document my expenditure and no the income is not yet flooding in but as any business, you would not really expect it to.

So with all this in mind, I find myself today in my local council offices, waiting to see a business advisor from businesslinksw.
I have questions to which I hope he will have the answers. When to inform the tax man, what about national insurance when currently I have no income. More questions on my website, best way to set it up, promoting myself as a freelance writer. Am I doing enough?? As writers we need to promote ourselves, even successful authors that have huge publishing companies behind them, still promote themselves through thier websites etc.

I have looked at many blogs and websites and the advice out there for new writers is vast and  at times confusing. I am trying to keep things simple and not fall into the confusion trap. I have this blog, my facebook fan page which is growing and soon my website. So we all need self promotion.

One form of self promotion many traditional business use is to have thier name, business name and phone number on thier vehicule. How much business this creates I have no idea, nor do I think I could do this to our family Passat.

However a word of caution, if you do participate in this kind of self promotion,  I would advise you do not cut up another vehicule when driving.

An example of this was, my husband, he was following me last week  on route to North Devon, (I was towing our caravan), when a traditional white van man abrubtly cut inbetween us, causing my husband to violently brake. Did he consume with road rage; no! He had a legal handsfree set and dialled the number clearly displayed infront of him, carefully witholding his number first.
The call was diverted to a mobile. It was answered by no less than the driver of the white van, answering in his business name. " Can I help you?" "yes " replied my husband, " if you are going to cut in front of other drivers abruptly; it might pay not to have your number displayed on your vehicule".
The offending driver was mortified and apoligised profusely!

So maybe next time when using self promotion we should all be careful how we portray ourselves.

Well my business advisor has arrived, so tomorrow, will let you know the answers I am seeking.

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Time for reflection with career changes

Some of you may have noted writing is not my first career but my third.
My CV to some would make quite interesting reading, confusing to others who did not understand but it all made sence to me at the time.
It started in the late seventies with a strong desire to be a nurse, unfortunately for me it would seem everyone wanted to be a nurse back then. So achieving acceptance was difficult, only the determined succeeded.
There was no University training, that came with project 2000, it was the old Schools of Nursing and you needed to apply individually to the schools that matched your qualifications. Having run out of options locally, I ended up over 350 miles from home. That distance then was huge as it could take 13 hours on the train, so popping home quickly was out of the question.
After nursing for 20 plus years, managing short breaks around children and a few years in sales as a single mother; when nursing could not pay for childcare and a living wage. I became very frustrated and tired of cuts and lack of resources yet trying to deliver the same high level of care.
Looked around at what I could do, I loved nursing but also the buzz of Sales; having multiple sales in one day, could have you feeling like you were walking on air. To combine my skills seemed the obvious choice, again not an easy option but the rewards were worth it.
Medical Sales beckoned and for five wonderful years, loved it until injury made driving too painful and the stress too much.
So I took the brave step, resigned from the large salary and company benefits; took twelve months out to look at what next.
From feeling like you have a book or two inside you to starting on your first course.
My writing career was born, it is in it's infancy as well as being an upward learning curve but then I always did enjoy a challenge. To combine my life's experience of a successful career in nursing, a mother, a wife, a very successful second career in sales in my writing would be the icing on the cake.
Onward and upwards!!

Monday, 12 April 2010

What do you do inbetween your short bursts of creative writing?

It struck me the other day, what do other writers do??

My mentor Nick Daws of "write any book in 28 days" and more recently the "10 day Ebook" advises writing in five minute bursts of free writing. This is after you have outlined and blueprinted your book or even article. Well it works for me but what do you do inbetween?
For me it varies, according to what I have on my To Do list, drafted the night before.
Yesterday it was to sew another badge on husband's uniform which can take five to ten minutes, I can then get back to my next question or section in my blueprint and freewrite again.
Other days I might alternate between non fiction work to working on my novel. You need to be disciplined though and go back to your ongoing project and not get distracted but hey so far its working for me.

This morning it also hit me, do you have a routine??
I need one, maybe it harks back to the working discipline of nursing or my sales career but I was finding until I established a routine, I could drift. I could look at the pile of washing or baking needing to be done and it was more appealing then getting pen to papper or tapping the keys on my laptop. I would feel guilty if the house wasn't just so, even if my very supportive husband said leave it till later, I couldn't.
Now however I have set up a new plan of action for me and so far its working, I will probably need to be flexible as it goes on but that the point isn't it, I can be!
Getting up early with husband, walking the dogs, sharing breakfast, seeing him off ( something I could not do when working in previous careers as often left before him, and boy does it feel good).
 As the kitchen gets cleared and whatever chores  on my list are to be done but by ten am; I stop having completed chores, pour a coffee and head for laptop to start my writing day.

So now with my blog done for today its back to free write my next section of my book!

Saturday, 10 April 2010

Reflection on a sunny day

Well I don't know about you but the recent sunshine certainly gives a much pleasanter feel to writing.

Sitting outdoors on the deck, cool refreshment at hand of course, has certainly helped the creative juices flow.
Just last night we were sat out enjoying a cold one after husband had cut the grass for its first haircut of the year. Reviewing the day's writing when a birds nest caught our eye. Yesterday the branches appeared bare, yet today the buds are starting to erupt, not fully open but enough that the birds nest is partially absured. We know its there but if we were looking today for the first time we might have missed it.

It struck me, this is what we work for, whether nine to five, shift work or the joys of working from home as a freelance writer, soon to be author. Having time to enjoy the good things, taking time to smell the roses so to speak.
No roses are out yet but witnessed the first summer blossom today; it's like when you see your first spring lanb, Daffodil, Primrose; these are welcome sights after a long hard winter we have had.

So it may not be roses we smell, it could be the birdsong in the trees but inbetween tapping the keyboard or freewriting our chapters it's good to take time to take it all in.

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

10 things you don't know about me!

Nick Daws sent me this recently from his blog and suggested I do the same so here goes. Some may know a few of these but hopefully I will surprise you.

1/ Despite what my family might think or believe, I love the outdoors, the Countryside and the sea. Wether it is walking along a beach with our dogs Boris and Flora or scrambling through the wild heather of  Scotland and the wild scenery of Dartmoor

2/ We have a Caravan we named Ernie after an Great Uncle left me a small legacy and we put it towards the purchase.

3/ I had the confidence to get into a wetsuit for the 1st time last year, may not seem much to some but I had the fear of being a beached whale so would not do it. It felt great and I was told no whales in sight!

4/ I love being creative, wether it is outlining my next article, my book, a story, baking or sewing.

5/ Sometimes I can write with noise and distractions and other times I feel I have to be as Stephen Fry admitted to on his blog, completely cutoff, no distractions such as the freshly baked bread just alarming for my attention right now!

6/ I love taking recipes and seeing how I can make it healthier or my version of it to suit our tastes. I even wrote an articule on this and may even do a book if there is any interest.

7/ Fallen in love with Scotland not to live but to visit, and my husband encourage me to walk up my first mountain last year Glenmore. Although it was not a Munro but a Graham it was still a mountain to me.

8/ Love the thrill of learning something new and how I can make a success out of it, obviously currently that is writing.

9/ I used to imagine as a child that I was floating, often in the playground, until the school bell rang when of course I would float back down again often with a bump!!

10/ Ok I can't count on first version of this blog only wrote 9 things not 10 until it was nicely picked up by my husband . Note to self check and check before publishing. So here is number 10: I simply love healthy debate not arguements but debating a subject with friends and if it can be washed down with a glass of red I am in heaven.

Sunday, 4 April 2010

So you feel you have a book inside you, What next??

Like many of you I feel like I have an idea for a book, well at least I did before I started now; I have loads of ideas!!

So where do you start, they say everyone has at least one book inside them, now I have started I feel I have quite a few.

So where do you go from here??

Like a lot of folk I looked at a Creative writing course, puchased one, a very good one and was fired with loads of enthusiaism, so why have I not finished it??

Partly like many as I have discovered along the way, it is not the right path for them, they get to assigment 2 or 4 and stop, maybe because this usually focuses on magazines and you came into this as you wanted to write a book didn't you?? I did and hence I got bogged down with research into magazines etc and did not have the confindence to either return my assignments or to complete an article and send it off.

I was extremely lucky to come across my mentor Nick Daws and his courses of which he has designed many and written many books.

He breaks it down, makes it simple, gives you the confidence that anyone can do it.

So if you have bought or started a creative writing course and you feeling bogged down or lost your way, don't lose heart, search out another to give you inspiration and what works for you.

It is not going to do the work for you but give you inspiration and confidence to go for it. It worked for me.

Answering an advert on a Sunday thinking I did not have a chance but had nothing to lose by Monday morning I had been accepted and was writing my first articule.

Guess what woke up Tuesday morning and found it was published, my first articule not returned for editing, not rejected but published, I floating on that fantastic cloud all day, so much so that I easily wrote and submitted three more articules.

Woke up Wednesday morning to emails confirming I now had three more published on the net, even did something I had never done before and Googled myself and there I was, complete with short bio.

So what I am saying is, if I can do it so can you if you really want to.

I would have never had the confidence to have my own blog without it and I am now looking to have my own website and ebooks and novels to follow.

My advice GO FOR IT!!

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Life as a Newbie writer

It is easy to be overwhelmed with the information out there when looking to start a new venture or career!

I have recently been reminded of the statisics I was taught when stating my last career as a newbie medical sales representative. Doctors would need an average 28 hours in the day to read and assimulate all the information that comes there way on a daily basis and that is without seeing patients.

They therefore filter information as they need to keep up to date but use the internet, journals and medical representatives to have bite size chunks of information.

So Sloanwriter has been overloaded with new information and an upward learning curve.

So what are my tips if you find yourself in this situation and do not know where to start first, filter, take your info in bite size chunks.
Make a To do list and strike off as you complete, feels very rewarding.
Take regular breaks, Mine are with my dogs and some fresh air.
Find yourself a mentor.  Mine is Nick Daws as I am following a few of his courses.
"write any book in 28 days" for example without which I would not be here.
Lastly remind yourself "Rome was not built in a day" your first career as mine did took several years to train and complete and was constantly updating.
So my new writing career is going to be an upward learning curve and hopefully I can show you through this blog, if I can do it, so can you.