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Writing to Be Your Own Hero

When I was younger, I often felt like life was happening to me, instead of ‘me’ happening to life. I was the sidekick in someone else’s story. It’s a pretty disempowering feeling, the idea that all around you people are making things happen, forging on with their journeys and experiences, and meanwhile you’re stuck, really only there to provide support to the main character, to be their shoulder to cry on and kooky best friend.

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We are ALL the main characters in our own life, and we ALL have stories to tell. I’ve been working on exploring how The Hero’s Journey, a sort of template for adventure stories, can help people in their search for wholeness. We explore who we are as a hero, what magical elixir we’re searching for (our life goal/aim) and who we encounter on the journey (mentors, demons, tricksters).

When we start to look at our lives through the archetypes and metaphors, it’s easier to notice patterns. It’s easy to see that the kindly older person we constantly seek advice from is our mentor, and that often much of our problems on the path are self-imposed by our shadow selves, by doubt and fear and anger.

I’m currently working on creating a program using The Hero’s Journey to help those on a journey of wellness and health, so if you’ve had problems with self-image, EDs or are struggling to reach your fitness goals with a positive outlook, get in touch to find out more about the study I’ll be doing this year.

In the meantime, if you’re interested in The Hero’s Journey, I’d suggest looking into The Writer’s Journey.

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New Goal, New Dream, New Year.

I’m a dreamer. I’m a planner. And I’m not the only one.

As a writer and someone interested in the therapeutic benefits, I can tell you this: writing down your goals makes them real. However, spending time THINKING about these goals is more important. Pick something that means something to you. Something that will change your life, that will stretch you but not break you.

I have a terrible habit of picking a hundred things I want to do. Or I pick a goal, but don’t plan HOW I’m going to get there. Achieving our dreams is a process that includes planning, thinking, visualising and DOING.

For example, I’m sitting here thinking: I want to have four more books out next year. That’s entirely possible. But I’m sitting here thinking about that instead of editing the book that would be the first out of those four. There is a time for dreaming and a time for doing.

Use these next couple of days wisely- think about what you want from 2015, but more than that, think about what you can do TODAY to make those dreams possible! Every journey starts with a step, yes, but it also is continued by steps every day, and there’s usually a map and a general sense of direction! Get together your tool kit for 2015, what’s going to help you on your journey?

My aims for 2015:

-To have four new novels out

-To get to grips with vlogging, podcasts and other active forms of social media

-To continue on my healthy journey, and explore how creativity can promote health

-To make more money from the work that I do, working smart instead of just working hard

-To find adventures and explore every day

 

Some of these are personal, some are professional, but all can be achieved with a plan and a little time each day to consider whether what I’m doing is taking me towards where I want to be. In my toolkit, I’ll need motivation, the support of friends and family, a work ethic, a dozen reminders of my goals, and an understanding of what my success will look like.

How will you know if you’ve achieved your goals? How can you tell what your doing is working? Think of a plane’s trajectory- the smallest change in direction at the beginning of a journey can be all the difference at the end of it.

Go slow, go steady, and get excited.

Wishing you a creative and fruitful New Year.

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Why Big Breaks are Bullshit, and other tales from the Writer’s Life

My housemate is a lovely person. She tends to talk me up to people. When she was explaining what I do for a living, and that I’m an author, her work colleagues asked, ‘that’s great. Is she just waiting for her Big Break now then?’

Big Breaks are a myth. There is no one defining moment in a writer’s life that means they’ve ‘Made It’. Often, we think getting an agent, or getting a publishing deal, or finishing a body of work is the Big Break. But I’m a firm believer in the fact that even though those rituals are recognised (and really exciting) they are only one more step on the journey.

We don’t wait around for breaks, we make them. By writing the book, by talking to authors and bloggers and reviewers, by blogging and connecting and entering competitions and continuing to have belief in our goals, no matter what.

The goal posts are constantly shifting for authors. First it’s agent, then publishing house, then bestseller, then multi-book deals, then royalty percentage. Then what about the movie deal? And is it really any good? Maybe you’ve got all these things, but people still think you’re waiting to ‘make it’ because they haven’t heard your name, or haven’t seen you on the cover of Hello Magazine.

We confuse success with fame, and we confuse creative lives with lives of ease. When you do something as a job, it involves dedication and hard work, regardless of whether you love it or not.

The writers who ARE sitting around waiting for their big breaks, well, I don’t classify them as writers. I consider them to be Writers-in-Waiting. If you don’t have the confidence or commitment to chase after your dreams, even in the face of derision or judgement, well, you’re in waiting. And there’s nothing wrong with that. But it’s the nature of the game that no-one is going to come along and drop a multi-billion pound book deal in your lap if you’re not doing all the groundwork.

Ways to Make your Own Breaks:

Write. Every day. Find your pattern. Find your story. Make it happen.

Talk to people, but more importantly, LISTEN to people. Out of interest, not just about how they’re of interest to you.

Enter competitions, blog, tweet.

Build a brand based on who you really are. Spend some time navel gazing. Think about what you want to write about, what kind of writer you want to be, and where you want to go.

Think about how you define success for you. When will you feel like you’ve achieved what you wanted? What are your goals? What are you working towards?

Keep doing this every day, every week, every month, and regardless of whether you even think you’re any good, I guarantee someone else will. Baby steps. Not one big break, but many little ones.

 

 

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5 Reasons to come to our Marketing for Writers Workshop

People are always trying to sell you something, right? And I don’t like doing that. I’m running a workshop in collaboration with Steven Sparling that’s focused on getting authors to create a marketing plan, so their books can get the recognition they deserve. And I bloody hate having to try to flog stuff. So I’m just going to tell you straight:

1-  I have been through this whole process, with independent publishers, with big publishers, and working with self-publishing authors. I had to learn everything first hand through trial and error with absolutely no idea what I was meant to do. You can come and learn it from us and not have to feel that panic!

2- We’re creative business experts. Steven and I met whilst we were both doing a Masters degree in Creative Entrepreneurship, working on our individual ideas of how to define and ensure success in creative fields. I mostly just work with writers now, but Steven has gone on to do a PhD and work with every creative genre, from actors to singers to journalists to…anyone! He knows his stuff.

3- Creating a community. Meeting other writers and meeting other creative people is a big part of the writing and marketing experience. It’s all too easy to sit in your writing room, reply to blog comments and never truly interact. You’ll meet some great people who have different experiences to you, and that’ll be useful.

4- It’s a day out of your life. You will leave with a complete plan of how you can go about sorting out your marketing, a step-by-step, personalised plan. So you won’t leave panicked. You’ll leave with purpose. And with Christmas coming up, it means you’ve got just enough time to start that stocking-filler promo!

5- Tickets are on sale for £49!!! Come on, now! Where else will you get a whole day of personalised planning and advice from professionals, PLUS a Q and A with a London Publisher for ONLY £49?! It’s madness!

 

And they’re selling out fast. If you want more info about me and Steven and the workshop we have planned, click here. It’s 27th September in Central London. Don’t miss out. It’s going to be amazing!

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6 Weird Things that Only Writers Would Say

 

1) ‘Be proud of me, I have checked my Amazon Central/Novel Rank for over an hour!’

2) ‘I’m not going to get upset over a bad review…but she criticised my grammar and couldn’t even spell the word “review” properly!’

3) ‘This Blog Tour planning is making my head explode.’

4) ‘I think I’m walking the thin line between enthusiasm and spam. I hope my friends don’t hate me.’

5) ‘DEADLINE DEADLINE DEADLINE. WHY WON’T YOU WORK BRAIN, WHY?’ (this one also applies to students)

6) ‘I don’t want to be difficult, but…’ (Cover changes, title changes, storyline changes etc)

If this sounds familiar, add your own in the comment box! Also, if you don’t know about blog tours, Novel Rank, or any of that stuff above, why not join me at a Marketing for Writers workshop with creative business entrepreneur Steven Sparling? It’s in Central London on 27th September, and is currently only £49! For a whole day of tips, tricks and plans to get your book promoted properly. Plus a guest Q and A from a publisher! Click HERE for more info!

BootcampWritersSale

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Without You To Hold- Christmas Novel Update!

So, incase I haven’t harped on about this enough, Carina UK asked me to write them a Christmas Novel to be released in November. Originally, I was stumped. My mum had watched enough crappy Christmas movies on the ‘christmas movie channel’ this year for me to know what had to be involved, but how do you do it without tinsel covered cliches?

Well, I focused on food and booze (because, duh, Christmas) and just focused on the idea that whatever is normally pretty dramatic and difficult, at Christmas time it’s multiplied by a hundred.

So the book is called Without You to Hold, and yes, there’s a lot of Elvis references! I’m currently editing it before sending it off, but if you want to get a taste for it, you can check out my Pinterest Inspiration board here.

 

And here’s the blurb!

Megan McAllister hasn’t been back home since getting pregnant at 17, and getting the hell out of dodge. Now she’s back, ten years later for Christmas, along with her daughter Skye. Reconnecting with her parents is going to be difficult enough, but when her childhood sweetheart turns out to be still living in town and looking for answers, everything gets a little more complicated!

 
In the meantime, don’t forget you can get hold of The Last Word on Amazon, Nook, Kobo, Sainsburys and many more! 

 

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What a fictional character can teach you about being a creative entrepreneur.

 

In my latest novel, my main character, Tabitha Riley, is a terrible example of what it takes to survive as a writer. She lost her job at a main newspaper following an injunction issue, and tries to make ends meet as a freelancer.

 

Is it possible to survive as a freelancer? Sure, with lots of hard work. You have to be out there promoting yourself, making contacts, writing non-stop, taking contracts. And even then you usually have to have another job. Perhaps, if you’ve been working at a major newspaper, you’ll get some regular magazine work, but those cheques aren’t particularly inspiring. 

 

So Tabby relies on her mother, as a twenty-six year old writer. I’m not saying you shouldn’t accept help, a lot of us do, but when you depend on a parental figure for your ‘allowance’, you never quite get the independence that freelancing embodies.

 

But what does Tabby do right?

 

-She knows what she’s worth, and when given an opportunity, refuses to work for nothing. Interning can be powerful if you want to learn a new skill, or get the inside scoop on a market you’re interested in cornering. Working for free doing what you’ve been doing for years? No way.

 

-She knows where her value lies- her audience. Tabby writes a ridiculously popular blog called ‘Miss Twisted Thinks’ where she rants about things. For some reason, this becomes a hit, and a newspaper wants to give her a column. She knows, and the paper knows, that it’s her reach that they’re interested in gaining. Don’t be precious about why people want you, the point is that they do.

 

 

  • She uses social media to create relationships. It’s easy to follow people and never interact with them. It’s easy to feel out of the loop- but twitter allows for those one off ‘favourites’ and comments that you’d feel awkward giving in real life. Bugging your friends on facebook to like your page is a standard way to interact. Remember what Forster said: ‘only connect’.

 

If you want to hear more from Tabby, here’s my novel The Last Word

Or if you’re still not sure, you can read some reviews here

 

@almichael

 

www.almichael.com

 
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Writing Your Perfect Man- Lessons from a Chick Lit Writer

I’ve written some dreamboats in my books, and the reason I started in the first place was because no man really seemed to be like the ones you read about in books. Which is fine, we live in reality, we don’t expect Prince Charming. But here’s a few things I’ve noticed about the dreamy male characters in books, and maybe they’ll give our real life counterparts some ideas.

 

 

  • They’re capable of explaining how they feel.

 

It’s usually way after something silly has happened, but these guys have enough self knowledge to explain why they’ve done something. That’s always nice, instead of sitting there in confusion, like a real person.

 

  • Some shit happened, but they’re over it.

 

There was a crazy ex, a business deal gone wrong, parental issues. We always meet our leading men at the right time, when they’re done with all that stuff and can move on. In real life, we meet people when we meet them, and we’re usually dealing with our own stuff too. Which is where the understanding that real people aren’t perfect comes in.

 

  • Organisation

 

I think people often mistake what power means. I personally didn’t find Christian Gray a decent male character, he didn’t make me swoon. Neither did that soppy vampire. People were attracted to their power over their women, and in Gray’s case, his money. It’s easy enough to say ‘Oh, he flew her about in a private jet’ or whatever, but the truth of power is the ability to arrange things. To book dinner, to make plans. Whether that’s a private jet, or a private booth at Burger King.

 

  • Surprises

 

Even control freaks like myself want a little surprise every now and then! My male leads are able to make sweet gestures that aren’t so over the top you want to vomit, but make a difference. Who doesn’t love a surprise?

 

  1. Understanding their girl.

 

Your dreamboat male knows what’s going on in his love’s head. Not always, that would be boring and unbelievable. But he knows enough about her history, her quirks, her story to figure out why she’s suddenly freaking out, or why she’s not happy. Understanding goes a long way.

 

  • They Give and Receive.

 

No, I’m not being dirty. A working relationship with a fictional dreamboat involves give and take. Your main man can’t come in and solve all her problems. Why, you ask? Because then she has no purpose. If she can’t offer something, if she’s not what he needs back, then there’s no point. Again, back to Fifty Shades of Shit, she’s poor, he’s rich, she’s innocent, he’s experienced. She likes nice things, and he likes beating the shit out of a willing sex partner. 

Also, I refuse to let my leading man sweep in to solve my leading lady’s problems- I write strong, kickass women who can save themselves. They sometimes need some help figuring out how to be vulnerable, but they don’t need a man on a white horse.

 

  • Faults

 

That leads me nicely to number seven- they have to have something wrong with them! You know how boring it is to be with someone perfect? Tends to give your self esteem a bit of a knock too. Whether he leaves biscuit crumbs in the bed, or has a tendency to flirt, he has to be human.

 

  • He sees her.

 

This is a really simple trope that real life men could learn from. Notice something about your partner and identify that you are paying attention. It could be as simple as Julia Stile’s ‘hey, your eyes have a little green in them’ in Ten Things I Hate About You. It could be Harry’s list of things he knows and loves about Sally in When Harry Met Sally (‘The little crinkle in your forehead when you’re looking at me like I’m nuts!’ Aw) but noticing goes a long way. It shows your male is smitten and your leading lady is worth watching.

 

 

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A Type Exclusive: An interview with our new reporter Tabitha Riley

 

Tabby is a new writer for our little online paper, and she’ll be continuing her very popular column, Miss Twisted Thinks. Tabby, thanks for joining us today. 

 

How did you get into writing?

Well, I’d always wanted to be a writer. I studied in Brighton, writing for the student newspaper. Then I got an internship, then another, and I ended up at the Guardian…well, since then I’ve been working freelance, working on my blog, and now I’m here.

 

Tell us more about your blog, Miss Twisted Thinks.

Well, it’s a mixture of confusion and rage, really. A mixture of reviews, thoughts on feminism, and, well…cake.

 

How do you spend your time when you’re not writing?

Well, I spend a lot of time hanging out with my housemate, Rhi, and my best friend Chandra. Chandra’s into trying out cocktail bars in London, and Rhi’s more about old man pubs. Once a month, we make sure we have a Nothing Day, where we completely disconnect, and just veg out on the sofa, watching boxsets and drinking wine. It’s fabulous.

 

How are you finding the transition from freelance to The Type?

Well, everyone’s been very supportive. My editor is really good at identifying all the problems in my work and seems to enjoy throwing them in my face. (I’m also very good at identifying your excellent work- Ed.) But I’m having a great time.

 

Any big plans over the summer?

Well, I’m heading up to my mother’s wedding in an Essex Manor House over the summer. It should be…quite the affair. Especially seeing as she’s marrying a guy who was two years above me at school. 

 

Sounds interesting! Thanks for answering our questions, Tabby, and welcome to The Type team!

 

If you like the sound of Tabby, why not find out more about her in The Last Word?

 

 

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Creating for You versus Creating for Them : How Having a Publisher Makes a Difference

 

I had a creative meltdown a few weeks ago. I was boiling under the pressure of a deadline, a new book coming out, an essay deadline, and the possibility of starting another new novel. I’m ashamed to say I freaked out. I fell into every writerly cliche possible- I’m no good, I’m terrible, I need to get a nine-to-five, why would anyone publish me?

 

The book wasn’t working, the pacing was off, the characters were sketchy. I stalled. And I realised the issue was this: my first two novels, I wrote for fun. I wrote them for me. Either because I had something that needed to be said, or because I enjoyed the process.

When you write for someone else (a publisher/an agent), no matter how lovely and understanding they are, there’s a fear of judgement. The fear that they’ve taken a chance on you, and it’s no good. A chance you were a one hit wonder and they’ll let you down easy.

 

After some advice from a good friend (who’s both a writer and a publisher) I realised the truth was there all along- I needed to do it for fun. If I stop writing at the end of the day and feel satisfied, with both the word count and the fun time I’ve had, then I’m probably good. It’s the opposite to almost every other work experience I’ve had, where usually I know I’m doing well if my brain hurts.

 

So who do you write for? What do you write for? To feel good, to feel important, as play? To make money, to impress people, to have a finished article? I’m currently studying the importance of creative writing as a therapeutic process, and that’s the point I was missing- sometimes, if you focus on the process, the outcome will work itself out.

 

With that said, I’m off to write!