Category Archives: Novel

Characters have lives of their own


Today is 20 years since the first Harry Potter book was released…happy anniversary to JK Rowling and Harry.

My writing brain stays on almost constantly and can set me challenges I may want to  ignore at 5am!!

I have been known to come up with a plot twist whilst cleaning my teeth or in dreams and basics for articles for my clients can pop in to my head at the weirdest times. This is no 9-5 job! But that’s what I love about writing. Anytime, anywhere unexpected guests and developments arrive.

With fiction you aren’t so much in control of the work as the characters…I’m the ringmaster-lion tamer so the characters don’t run away with themselves but sometimes they write themselves slightly differently from the “plan.”

I may have spent time outlining the plot etc. and they go and rewrite it organically as if my imagination wasn’t the creator of both!!! Sam in Heads or Tails/Love Will Find a Way was originally intended to be sarcastic-cheeky but he wrote himself as a devious immoral b*****d. This made him stronger. A former neighbour proved to be the unconscious inspiration for the main character’s mother. This made her a lot more ridiculous and everyone knows someone like her.

The plot twist subsequently re-twisted. I liked that. An outline is good as a springboard but few of my fiction books have stuck to my plan…the characters got together and mutinied!

Some writers cry when they kill off their characters, they can say through them what they’d never dare say in real life, work through issues, and they can celebrate with their characters when they achieve their victories, large and small. This doesn’t mean we’re insane…we’re invested!

(The book I wrote when I was suffering from serious depression will never see the light of day…it’s pretty bleak.)

For me, after these good, bad and background characters form the centre of the world through the writing-editing and on to publishing, I let them go…toddling off in to the world to make their way to the readers imagination…and every reader will perceive them slightly differently thanks to their attitudes, perspectives and history. These guys are chameleons.

Hopefully, luckily, happily, a whole new set of characters, a plot and a new butterfly storm of ideas will happen in the most inconvenient but perfect ways…Writing is hard work but fabulous!

Love Will Find A Way: Scandal And Historical Romance by [Hayle, Joanne] 

Heads or Tails is the paperback version of the e-book Love Will Find a Way. Both available from Amazon. 





Don’t you just love relaxing Sunday’s?

I stayed in bed until 9, had a slow brunch, wrote a poem and this blog, read other fave blogs on here and now I plan to be absorbed in the Lucinda Riley novel I bought yesterday. Bliss. 

Hmm, I might have to squeeze chocolate in to my day too…oh, the hardship.

Tomorrow I shall be a diligent and hopefully inspired writer, refreshed and ready to write like a ninja about the aristocracy.

Now all I have to do is persuade my O.C.D. brain to chillax with me:-)


I hope you like this acrostic poem.


History of self is meticulously written each day

Indelible marks etched on a heart in myriad ways

Sometimes mercy dealt or received, whatever the cost

Tortured soul, a once consuming love discarded or lost

Ordinary to astounding, questioning reality and dream

Reminders of you, good or bad, what might have been 

You are the keeper of your past by others unseen.


Enjoy the rest of your weekend.









Grab the reader!


I’ve spent a lot of this week looking at markets, marketing and the business related aspects of being a writer.

Books won’t sell themselves (boo) and not everyone is a born sales guru.

Although in a previous life I was a travel agent selling “your dream two weeks in the sun” that requires a slightly different approach to book sales even though you can still work with a features and benefits base. e.g. This hotel is on the beach so you’ll only have a couple of minutes walk to get there or this book was written by a travel agent so you can be sure that you are receiving expert advice.

It’s interesting to learn about how certain phrases/writing devices/cover designs can affect how someone responds to your book.

I read something that is both obvious and yet often forgotten so it resonated with me: Don’t use passive language.


I posted a blog is an active sentence. 

A blog was posted by me is a passive sentence.

The writer won an award is active.

An award was won by a writer is passive.

It makes sense to grab people’s attention if you want/need them to say “Wow, this looks like a great book, I’d love to read it,” rather than “blah, blah, blah,…oh, this other book looks much more interesting.”

I was reminded that no one is obliged to read a word that you or I have written, no matter how much blood, sweat and tears we’ve poured in to producing the work our precious books need as much help as they can get.

I shall edit even more carefully from now on!

I’ve been planning projects for 2015, which led to an odd train of thought…OCD – you gotta love it! – I was thinking of ideas for fiction and non fiction books when this ran through my mind. What if I run out of ideas? What will I do? Nice bit of OCD scaremongering, don’t you think?!

My answer – when I’d stopped “oh no, that would be awful-ling”…the world is full of stories, people, subjects, news, memories, anniversaries, inspirational events and inventors.

The list of things to write about should therefore be endless, not that my OCD liked that answer, it’s a bit of a doom and gloom monster so it forecasts that the end of the world will have to occur the same day that I don’t have fresh inspiration!

Besides, if I place pressure on myself to come up with a ton of ideas on the spot I can still only write one at a time so why not go with the flow instead and allow my mind to be open to inspiration as I amble along?

It’s a tough lesson but I’m sure that my brain will agree with me one day.

I saw a fantastic observation on writers block the other day…nurses don’t get nurses block, surgeons don’t get surgeons block, pianists don’t get pianists block…so why do writers sometimes cling to the myth of writers block? A great point!

Have a fabulous weekend.

Jo Penguin

It started me thinking…


It’s odd but sometimes ideas or suggestions seem to throw themselves at you until you notice and act on them.

I’ve had a bit of that this week.

My new tablet has the app for Google Play/Google Books preloaded on it. I also had to set up my mum’s new tablet…so I had the app staring me in the face the next day too…In recent months I’ve been Amazoning 100% but I took a look at Google via their app.

Two days later I was reading a 2014 published book which told authors that they’d found that diversifying had worked for them and that increasing the number of marketplaces had been a beneficial step.

Google Play and Google Books appeared as suggested markets (among others) and this made me investigate as this was the third day in a row that I’d seen the words!

I now have placed one of my novels on Google Books and Play and a German site, Xinxii, as well as my normal outlet, Amazon, to see how it performs in all these areas.

I find that reading other writers guides and helpful advice can be a fantastic way to get me out of a particular train of thought or encourage me to keep going along a particular course of action.

They can also illustrate why certain activities or approaches can prove time consuming for little return when tested.

Prompted by a theory I read month or so ago I placed an advert for my books on a free UK online advertising/selling site.

I’d read that customers find clicking from an ad (third party) site to the book retailer site a pain…and I can tell you that after a week my ad had been viewed over 1500 times and clicked on for more info 65 times.

So, it could just be me, I could be ridiculously hopeless at pricing, marketing etc. (hope not!!) but from my sales stats I can conclude that whilst It wasn’t a lost cause to place the ad it also wasn’t a hugely productive promotion activity.

Who knows? Someone out there could have found it a wonderful exercise to increase sales. Maybe. At least I’ve tested the theory.

It started me thinking that many books advise to do all the online and social networking that you can, to throw yourself in to the public eye and be noticed and there are others that state that online outlets will promote you insite and that the product will still sell if you do no third party advertising.

It’s too simple and limiting to say A is correct, B is incorrect.

I read other writers and publishers books to learn – what to do, what not to do, to challenge their findings, to acknowledge that they’re right and that in some cases what works for one writer might not suit another.

I think that it’s important NEVER to think that you know all that you need to know or assume that nothing changes.

It does, all the time, whether it’s market share, new outlets, styles, management, publishers, agents…the list goes on and on.

Whether in the world of writing or any other business sphere there is always something new to learn, Always.

It pays to keep your knowledge base topped up so that you can make wise business decisions that can aid creativity and productivity.

Happy Thanksgiving to those who are celebrating today and Happy Day to everyone.


Rosalind Frontcover

So far, so good!


It’s been a few months now since I started to write professionally and without tempting fate…so far, so good.

I must think, and have thought, that I have the ability to be a writer and yet whenever a piece of work gets placed or an editor is kind enough to say that a story doesn’t require much editing or they take time to explain how something could be made stronger before they hopefully accept it, I am genuinely amazed.

I wasn’t born arrogant and so I don’t assume that editors will be bound to accept my work, I am not naive enough to think that they are sat there waiting for my story/article/verse to land on their desks to proclaim it a masterpiece and for every single yes there are a ton of no’s, as most writers know.

It’s not an easy business to be in, but the love of writing can move mountains.

So, I am a very grateful person, I am pushing ahead, working hard and making the dream a reality…with a lot of miracles and help from above.

Whatever you aspire to do, take a deep breath and try to do it…It’s really rewarding to your soul!!

Trust me, this comes from someone who had 0% confidence a year ago.



Where did the last hour go??!!


The great thing about researching is that a world of information (and nonsense!) is available online.

Books can be viewed online, authorities e-mailed and advice sought and given without moving from your desk..or the garden where you might be working in the sun! (A perk of the job;-))

The downside…the internet on my laptop has an off switch but apparently it needs me to switch it off…who knew?

It is so easy to just think you’ll spend about ten minutes on something and an hour or two later realise that time has vanished in to the ether or rather, that precious WRITING TIME has been given to the internet.

I went online about an hour and a half ago to look something up, I found an e-mail rejecting a short story so I did a bit of extra market research before submitting to the next publication.
I also sent my OCD “homework” update to my therapist.
So far, so good. Little Miss Productive gets a gold star! 🙂

And then…somehow I ended up flicking into Amazon, and I spent a merry twenty or so minutes there, that reminded me of a conversation that I was having about a celebrity, you know, the “are they still alive question?”…this celebrity is. YAY!

That reminded me of the book that I’m reading about WW2, which in turn got me curious about what the historical figures around D-Day looked like and that made me think of war poetry which led me to post one on my poems on Forward Poetry Social.

And now I intend to post this and then ban myself from going online again until something creatively wonderful has tipped out of my now trivia filled head and on to the sun kissed laptop!!

Have a great weekend.


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As 1900 begins Victoria Fordham finds herself in an unenviable situation and the new century offers her a devastating choice, to salvage her reputation or to hope that it might be saved through inaction over time.

Her mother Eugenie is preoccupied with social position.
Her father is kind and pragmatic but careworn.
Her brother Jack is often a staunch ally and also a harsh critic.
Cordelia Blake is an intriguing guiding light to Victoria but will she hear Cordelia’s timely advice?
Sam Blake, Leo Trewinn and Matthew Peel prey on her mind for different and dramatic reasons.

Her grandmother introduced her to the idea of flipping a coin to make choices.
Heads or tails has a fifty/fifty chance of giving Victoria a chance of happiness.
Can she abide by the coin’s decisions?
Heads Or Tails is a spellbinding tale of family, duty, love, reputation and sacrifice.

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Time Flies!


It is becoming a bit of a joke around here.

I say that I will probably stop writing in say, a couple of hours time, and then four, five (or longer) hours later I actually do stop.

It is miraculous when inspiration hits and like on Monday I sat down and over 5000 words later I finished work for the day and to me time had flown by.

It wasn’t work, it was a visit to another world, meeting new people, seeing what stories they had to tell. My characters often grow much more than my basic framework, they have their own voices and in the editing process I have to make sure that they speak with their voices but with me in charge!!

I look at the page and I am genuinely stunned – how did all those words get there????

Sometimes I have to switch the OCD nagging doubts voice off before the creativity flows freely, and sometimes I am sure that I start off writing absolute rubbish so that my brain is forced to click in to writer mode but the processes are wonderful.

I hope the inspiration keeps on coming and I am thankful for the words that do appear – even if it’s a tough day in the imagination and I seem to spend a lot of time writing bits and pieces.

I love my job!!!


A Writer From Day One.

As a child, I used to annoy my big sister when she helped me with my reading aloud because I would read what I wanted to be there and not the actual words, so “the cat sat on the mat” might become “the cat sat down on the mat.”
I have been blessed with a really active imagination too, my inner writer!

When I was 10 I won a poetry competition, which shocked me as I knew the other contender for 1st place and I was convinced that I was the runner up, so convinced that as the guy started the intro for the runner up I was half way to standing before I realised that my name hadn’t been called and that I was the winner…it was my first attempt and it was a 13 verse Halloween poem. Of course, they might have given me 1st place because after 13 verses the judges had lost the will to live!!

I continued to write short stories and poems throughout my teen years and I was pleased when my English teacher said that if I kept working on it I could possibly maybe perhaps get something published one day…he’s a poet as well as a teacher and was probably just being diplomatically encouraging!

Then the weirdest thing happened.
When I was about twenty two/twenty three a little voice inside my head said “Stop writing for a few years. Get a bit more life experience.”
The idea made sense. I was beginning the rehash old ideas and although I loved, and love, writing I was not producing great work.

I stopped writing in earnest until I was thirty.
I just came back to it, no conscious decision, I simply started to write and the words flowed and I’d seen more of life so I could tell stories that my twenty something self wouldn’t have been able to with conviction. That was how my first novel came to be.

Life works in mysterious ways.
Hope you are having a great day.