The most important skill you’ll need as a career author

All career authors need to know how to write. Well, der, you didn’t pay good money to hear me say that. But wait, let’s look more closely. You need to know how to speak in public. You need to know how to work a Twitter account or a Facebook account or an Insta account or…

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Why NaNoWriMo Would Never Work For Me

  I run a private Facebook group for aspiring authors and illustrators. You might have heard of it (ahem). It’s called The Duck Pond. Hop on my mailing list if you’d like to join. I also run a private Facebook group for those who are doing my online course, Scribbles. I love both groups equally…

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Why I was rubbish at writing for adults

News flash Some people think I’m arrogant. They think, where does she get off, dishin’ out all this advice about creative writing? She doesn’t know everything. Shocking, I know. But it’s probably true.  There is a slim chance I don’t know everything. Not every little thing But I can tell you when it comes to creative writing there’s not much…

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Want to be a writer? Six reasons you should stop reading

Okay. I’m in badass mode. Advice to aspiring authors, 101: Read, read, read! Over and over, that’s what I hear published authors hollering. They say read voraciously, read widely, read like your life depends on it. Great advice. Fantastic advice. Up to a point. If you’re an aspiring author, I would add, please, please, please, don’t…

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Here’s why minor characters are important

I remember reading one time, that the difference between secondary characters and minor characters  is  that minor characters don’t speak. Sometimes they don’t even have names. This definition confused me. All my stories have minor characters who speak. Sometimes they have quite a lot to say. Does that make them secondary characters? Is that how they…

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The Key to Writing Great Stories

  People are always asking me, Jen, how do I make my writing shine? Jen, what will make my manuscript pop? Jen, what’s the one, single, best, top of the charts, CRACKERJACK thing that will make my stories sparkle? Weeeeell… Maybe it’s voice. Maybe it’s character. Maybe it’s originality, verve, heart. The list is like…

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Want readers to sigh over your work? Try this

Universalities. Those little pearls of wisdom… In literature, universalities are statements that apply to everyone or to the human condition. Sometimes they’re accurate, insightful and give readers, young and old, a lovely ah-ha moment. Sometimes they’re grossly inaccurate. Famous universalities in literature include: It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a…

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Who said what? The importance of tagging dialogue in kid lit

I’ve read loads of manuscripts that start out funny or entertaining or full of potential. Then the dialogue kicks in and, quite frankly, it’s a birdy’s breakfast. Nothing will baffle an editor faster than poorly tagged dialogue. Do not overlook this if you want your manuscript to win friends and influence people. If you want editors and publishers…

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How Point of View can save your story (Part One of two posts)

If your story isn’t taking off, maybe you’re telling it from the wrong perspective. The wrong point of view. I’ve been known to go on about this. But it’s important. I’ve grappled with it so often it’s become a fallback for when things are going badly. If my story is dragging its feet, I reassess. I think, okay, can…

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One cool way to help readers remember your story

  Sometime ago, I was staying in a hotel in Sydney. It was a busy morning and there was a queue to get into the dining room for breakfast. I was glad I had an apple. Dum de dum. In front of me was a young family. Mum, Dad and two little kids.  Primary school age. Waiting,…

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