Writing The Opposite Gender (rehashed in a rage)

Do you remember the time I published a post about Writing the Opposite Gender? I’ll summarise it for you. Just write a person. People are unique, regardless of gender. That sounds about right. We can leave it at that.

Women aren’t pandas. Neither are men. That’s all you need to know.

But we can’t! Your writing is going to be read (we hope). It will be read by people who think about gender. If you’re unlucky, it will be read by someone who thinks about gender while they read (a very dangerous sport).

You may remember that earlier post, but do you remember the time I wrote a crime novella? Not to worry if you don’t. I’ve since unpublished it as part of an effort to get serious with my writing. It was a silly thing I wrote on a bet. A bet made largely with myself.

“I bet I can write a crime novella in a couple of weeks.”

“What? Why would you do that? It seems kind of pointless if that’s not even the genre you -”

“Challenge accepted!”

Continue reading “Writing The Opposite Gender (rehashed in a rage)”

The End Of The Road

End of road

The end of the road is in sight. There are now only about five chapters of Servants of Infamy (formerly White Rose) left to complete. Then there will be a process of updating the first three parts (as my writing has changed a lot since I started this novel), editing and trying to design a cover (before giving up and selecting a stock photo, most likely).

With all of that in mind, I will give a tentative release date of some time in February or the beginning of March. However, this could vary so keep an eye out for more updates!

What happens after self-publishing the novel? The picture above explains it quite well. While writing, you follow a road. It’s a set path from start to finish, if not always a straight one. Once you reach the end of the road, you’re out in the wilderness. There’s some marketing, promotion and feedback.

Continue reading “The End Of The Road”

Going It Alone #2: Precision Reading (makes you a better author)

Lone Wolf Alfred Kowalski
Lone Wolf by Alfred Kowalski

This is a narrative of my experiences starting out as a writer, but it isn’t a chronological account. I made this decision because the order in which I did things isn’t the order you should adopt. Due to going it alone, I unfortunately missed out some crucial steps.

In the last post we looked at coming up with an idea for your writing. Now that question has been answered, how do you get on with putting pen to paper? How do you go from 0 to author?

The answer lies in the pages of every work of fiction or non-fiction you have ever read, each TV series or film you watched, and every picture you looked at. You already know what a novel looks like from front to back. Stop there. Do you know it inside out?

Continue reading “Going It Alone #2: Precision Reading (makes you a better author)”

Going It Alone #1: “What Should I Write?”

Lone Wolf Alfred Kowalski
Lone Wolf by Alfred Kowalski

I’m beginning this series of posts in the Writing Tips category, but it differs in an important way from my other writing advice. This isn’t a series about how to write fiction or non-fiction. It’s a narrative of my experiences as a writer, with some helpful insights along the way.

When I started writing I made a crucial decision, motivated largely by stubbornness, to “go it alone”. I didn’t ask friends or family to buy my books and review them, or subscribe to my blog. I didn’t seek out editing help, professional or otherwise. I didn’t use my personal social media accounts to advertise my writing.

My marketing strategy

Continue reading “Going It Alone #1: “What Should I Write?””

Writing Tips Index

Now those are useful tips!
Now those are useful tips!

45 writing tips have now made their way onto this blog. A wealth of information at your fingertips. Or are they? You might find it hard to define endless scrolling as being “at your fingertips”.

With that in mind, here is an index of every writing tip from the Useless Book Club, 1-45. If you know of a good way to work an index into the blog’s layout, please leave a comment!

  1. The Prologue
  2. The Process
  3. Writing Faux Pas – Debunked
  4. A Useful App For Writers
  5. Writing The Main Plot
  6. Endings
  7. Writing Historical Fiction And Fantasy
  8. Character Pitfalls
  9. Past Inspiration
  10. Barnstorming For Beginners
  11. How To Write A Story About Anything
  12. How To Get More Readers
  13. Write A Bad Story
  14. Gambling Tip For Writers
  15. Character Development In 3 Steps
  16. Writing Minor Plots
  17. Write Like Shakespeare
  18. Write For Money
  19. Keep Up With The Times
  20. Planning Your Novel In 3 Steps (for NaNoWriMo)
  21. Value Your Work
  22. All About Chapters
  23. Critiquing Your Novel
  24. Writing A Catastrophe
  25. Writing For The 21st Century
  26. Characters Who Do Bad Things
  27. No Good Deed
  28. Know Your Enemy
  29. Sourcing Images For Your Blog
  30. Characters In Conflict
  31. Blogging For Beginners
  32. Understanding The Misunderstood Author
  33. Writing The Opposite Gender
  34. How To Write Fiction (step-by-step)
  35. Writing Evil
  36. Fear And Courage In Fiction
  37. How To Choose A Name For Your Character
  38. How To Write In The First Person
  39. Writing A Realistic Narrative
  40. Hindsight and Self-improvement
  41. Creating Escapism By Genre
  42. And Then This Happened…
  43. “That”
  44. Criticism, Feedback And Commentary
  45. Making A Video Trailer

Wow, there’s enough up there to fill a book!

Past Inspiration: Walk Like An Egyptian


Back to the British Museum for another tour of the past. Today we’ll be meeting some exceptional characters from Ancient Egypt. Our first is my favourite…



This lovely and somewhat fierce feline is a mystery. She may come from Saqqara, the necropolis of Memphis (Egypt’s one-time capital). One quirk of hers has only been discovered recently. Analysis revealed she was initially painted with a stripy tail.


Another interesting character, with an unusually familiar name. Meet “Roy”, a Theban high-priest of the god Amun-Ra. What makes him stand out from the countless other statues of Egyptian men sitting with folded arms? For me, it was Roy’s stern expression. You can imagine he had a severe reputation in his time as high-priest.



We all enjoy the sight of a good sphinx. Woman’s face, bird’s wings, lion’s body. This is a superb example, which came to Egypt via Greece. You can see the Classical Greek influences in her face and hairstyle. Perhaps the dead wife of a Greek trader, her likeness preserved in the two immortal figures which guard his tomb.


This charming pair are the purrfect embodiment of how the Ancient Egyptians saw their spiritual world. The divine is intertwined with the natural. However, not being fond of subtlety, our Nile-dwelling friends opted to affix a cat’s head to their deities as a demonstration of this union. Let’s see if we can find something a little more subtle…


No. Not even close. Down, kitty.


This is exactly what I was looking for, walking through the BM in search of inspiration. Subtle, human, real. An honest person pulled out from another era. The simple style of the artist and look of intense concentration he creates. King Nectanebo I, his name alone deserves a story.


Who is this figure who bids us farewell as our journey comes to an end? He’s not from Ancient Egypt, but belongs to its close neighbour. The Ethiopian Empire was both incredibly important in history and long-lived. But few people are aware of it, one of the last African nations to resist colonialism. A topic I wish to explore further and hope you feel the same.

The best inspiration comes from unexpected sources.

Tip #45: Making A Video Trailer

Inspiration made a call today, care of ihelenblog. It’s all about making a video trailer for your book, to post on YouTube or wherever else. More exposure and reaching a wider audience.

This is something I’ve been aware of in the past as a potential marketing tool. But it’s too much effort. Too costly. A fool’s errand, surely?

Here’s what I managed to knock together in about an hour after inspiration struck:

Still a work-in-progress, but I thought I’d share it here to give you an idea. As I said, this video fell together in about an hour and cost nothing.

Step 1: clips

You’ll see that I’ve used a combination of dodgy MS Paint captions and public domain images relevant to the Vikingr story as a backdrop. You could also experiment with royalty-free video clips, or video and pictures you took yourself. If you’re an artist, then lucky you! Design some backdrops.

Put all of your clips into a folder and give each a number, in the order you want them to appear.

Step 2: sound

I’ve used “Epic” from Bensound, a royalty-free music repository. The only requirement was that I mention the source at the end of the video. Pick a piece which fits the tone of your story.

Step 3: assembly

You may not be expecting this, but assembling your video is actually the simplest part. I used Windows Movie Maker (which wasn’t installed on my laptop, but only took a minute or so to download). Put in your clips, drag and drop to the correct order, upload the soundtrack and you’re pretty much finished!

One thing you may have to tinker with is the timing of your clips. I’ve heard that a video trailer should be 1 minute 30 seconds or less.

Give it a go yourself!