Nelson Mandela’s words inspire writers

Hope that our blog post of inspirational quotes for writers taken from the incredibly wise words of Nelson Mandela encouraged you to keep on writing. The only way to write your book is simple, ‘Bottoms on chairs. Fingers on keyboards,’

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Sometimes though your writing comes up against a virtually solid brick wall and your work grinds to a halt. There is nothing worse than that feeling of helplessness, not knowing which way to turn to get the flow going again.


Here are some simple but effective techniques that will help you through your writer’s block. First of all don’t get out of the habit of writing – don’t let your emotions get the better of you and start to panic. Once that takes hold you will find that your subconscious will find ways to stop you working. There will suddenly be a million and one things that you just HAVE to do other than write.


  • Even if you do nothing more than let your fingers type out reams of gobbledegook don’t let yourself not spend at least some time writing.


  • Try to disconnect your mind from the story line and get into the character’s head. ‘See’ the story from their point of view and you will often discover the answer to the problem you are having with the plot.


  • Experiment – have fun with your characters, throw them curved balls and introduce problems that you would never have considered coming into their world.


  • Simplify. Focus. Combine characters. Hop over detours. You’ll feel like you’re losing valuable stuff but it sets you free.


  • Come up with your ending before you figure out the middle. Endings are hard, get yours working up front.


  • Keep your characters for trying to achieve rather than attaining successes.


  • Trying for theme is important, but you won’t see what the story is actually about until you’re at the end of it. Then you can re-write.


  • What is your character good at, comfortable with? Throw the polar opposite at them. Challenge them. How do they deal with problems?


  • When you’re stuck, make a list of what WOULDN’T happen next. Lots of times the material to get you unstuck will show up.


  • Pull apart the stories you like to read. Recognize what it is and then re-use it.


  • Putting it on paper lets you start fixing it. If it stays in your head,  even if it is a perfect idea, you’ll never share it with anyone.


  • Discount the first solution that comes to mind. And the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th – get the obvious out of the way. Challenge yourself.


  • Give your characters opinions. What might seem likable to you as you write, will be poison to your audience.


  • Why must you tell THIS story? What’s the belief burning within you that your story feeds off of? That’s the heart of it.


  • If you were your character, in this situation, how would you feel? Honesty lends credibility to unbelievable situations.


  • What are the stakes? Give the reader a reason to root for the character. What happens if they don’t succeed? Stack the odds against winning?


  • Coincidences to get characters into trouble are great; coincidences to get them out of it are cheating.


  • It is very important for your confidence as a writer to remember than no work is ever wasted. If it’s not working, let go and move on – it’ll come back around to be useful later.


Nelson Mandela quotes inspire writers


nelson mandela quote

Nelson Mandela, former president of South Africa, anti-apartheid icon and Nobel Peace Prize winner, died last week aged 95. Mandela was an inspiration to so many, never before in history was one human being so universally acknowledged in his lifetime as the embodiment of magnanimity and reconciliation as he was.


Nelson Mandela has left his mark on the world in a way that few others have done. His life was not blameless, but any transgressions are dwarfed by his achievements. His peer group includes those from many ethnicities and religions who shared the vision, persistence, leadership and personal sacrifice to make our world a better place.


His 1955 Freedom Charter stated that “The People Shall Govern” – with black and white together as equals. In 1994, in the land of his birth – and against impossible odds – he made that ambition a reality.


Long ago, Mandela entered the public’s consciousness as a man of grace and determination. His lifelong struggle for equality in South Africa shows us that, with tenacity and endurance, good will triumph in the end.

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Mandela was, to some extent, born to lead. He came from a family of significant influence, and was groomed for high office within his community from an early age. His destiny, however, would be far beyond that which his family could have foreseen. His rage against the injustice that permeated his country at the time led him to study obsessively to improve himself. Eventually, he set up the first black African law firm in South Africa with Oliver Tambo, and – from that vantage point – pursued relentlessly the awful reality of apartheid.


He became a human rights lawyer, a political activist, and was a constant thorn in the side of the authorities.  He was imprisoned for political activism in 1962 and endured enforced labour in a lime pit. All those serving terms were divided depending on their skin colour, with the black-skinned given the smallest food rations. Political prisoners were held separately and were allowed to enjoy the minimum of benefits. As a D-Group convict, N. Mandela had the right to one visit and one letter in six months. When in prison, Mandela studied by correspondence at London University and was subsequently granted the Bachelor of Law.


He was freed in 1990 to worldwide acclaim. But even then, few would have believed that – less than four years later – apartheid would be gone and Nelson Mandela would be voted into office as president of a new, multi-racial South Africa. But even then, few would have believed that – less than four years later – apartheid would be gone and Nelson Mandela would be voted into office as president of a new, multi-racial South Africa.

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The source of his magic was the sheer moral force that clung to him as a result of all he had endured throughout his years of imprisonment – and the lack of bitterness with which he had emerged from it. In government, he proved to be wise and even-handed. He inherited high unemployment and social deprivation, yet – despite being politically to the Left – did not shrink from using capitalist methods to fight them. He said famously: “Money won’t create success, the freedom to make it will.”


This was a man of great courage and empathy, who stood up for what he believed – and won. He had an enormous personal presence, but it was not created by power or position; it was created by the sheer force of his character, which – far from being ground down during his 27 years’ imprisonment – emerged untouched, even enhanced.


Mandela set aside the bitterness of enduring 27 years in apartheid prisons — and the weight of centuries of colonial division, subjugation and repression — to personify the spirit and practice of  human kindness. He perfectly understood that people are dependent on other people in order for individuals and society to prosper.


In government, he proved to be wise and even-handed. He inherited high unemployment and social deprivation, yet – despite being politically to the Left – did not shrink from using capitalist methods to fight them. He said famously: “Money won’t create success, the freedom to make it will.” It was a truism any Conservative might have uttered.


He was a man of great courage and empathy, who stood up for what he believed – and won. He had an enormous personal presence, but it was not created by power or position; it was created by the sheer force of his character, which – far from being ground down during his 27 years’ imprisonment – emerged untouched, even enhanced.


Nelson Mandela died as he had lived: with humility, dignity and grace. A remarkable man has gone, and an extraordinary life has ended. South Africa – and the world – will mourn him. But his legacy will live on for ever.


During his long life, Mandela inspired countless individuals, which should inspire us all to live better lives. I find some of his quotes are relevant to a author’s struggle to write and be published.


Here are a collection of quotes that personify that spirit:


  • “Difficulties break some men but make others. No axe is sharp enough to cut the soul of a sinner who keeps on trying, one armed with the hope that he will rise even in the end.”


  • “It always seems impossible until it’s done.”


  • “If I had my time over I would do the same again.


  • “I like friends who have independent minds because they tend to make you see problems from all angles.”





  • “Everyone can rise above their circumstances and achieve success if they are dedicated to and passionate about what they do.”


  • “Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.”


  • “Lead from the back — and let others believe they are in front.”


  • “A good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination.”


And my personal favourite “Do not judge me by my successes, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.”





Authors donate royalties to Philippines appeal

There can’t be anyone who hasn’t heard about the deadly storm which devastated the Philippines. The official death toll for Typhoon Haiyan has exceeded 5,200, confirming that the devastating storm was one of the Philippines’s deadliest ever recorded.

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More than 4 million people were displaced from their homes, losing livelihoods as well as family members. Many are now living in emergency shelters like schools, government offices and the Tacloban City Convention Centre.

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Funds are urgently needed for a reconstruction and medical needs. Three authors published by Lavender and White Equestrian Publishing are donating book royalties to the aid appeal. Nicky Newsome’s Phoenix Rising, Alicia Locke’s A Pony for Free and Theresa Odendaal’s A Horse Named Majestic are all available on the Lavender and White Equestrian Publishing website The books are all below £4.00, so the download fee won’t break anyone’s bank but the money is desperately needed for this terrible disaster.

A man walks through smoke from fires in a part of Tolosa devastated by Typhoon Haiyan

Please like our Facebook page Lavender and White Equestrian Publishing to keep up to date with our progress. We would be very grateful if everyone would please share this post with anyone and everyone and ask that they please download a book to contribute to this much needed appeal.



Hard At Work On A Fantastic New Book

Everywhere around us the world is preparing for Christmas, but we are already looking forward to spring. We are so excited about a book which is currently in production ‘Equine Biomechanics – The Secret to Competition Success’ by British author Bradley Whale

We’ve just had another set of proofs back from our cover designer and while the cover is looking good, it still isn’t quite right. We will keep playing around with colours and fonts until we achieve the perfection this book deserves.

Ibooks 1t will be a magical day when the book finally comes to fruition. Bradley is a wonderful author; he has a vast knowledge which he is keen to share. The book is the result of years of research and exploring the many different equine therapies that are available. Bradley has been working with us for much of the last year. He’s been a delight to work with, so utterly keen to share his knowledge and yet so humble about his tremendous writing skill, working hard with Sarah, letting her guide his writing under her skilled editing. It is wonderful to see the culmination of both of their work coming together into the finished manuscript.


Something that every publisher loves is the news that the author is already working hard on the follow up book and has another in the pipeline. We are sure that Bradley is heading for a successful second string to his already thriving equine therapy business.

There is a little more work to do on the text, Sarah feels the book needs a slightly different conclusion and then it will be ready to go to the printers. First of course we have to perfect the cover, but we will keep playing around with it until we get that eureka moment, that wonderful ‘YES’!! when we all know that the cover is ‘right.’

Can’t wait to share this wonderful book with the big following this promising young author has.







Thank you…

Thank you so much to everyone who took the time to voice an opinion on the setting for Camilla Cavendish’s new crime novel. At the moment the odds seem to be 4 – 1 towards setting the book in Ireland.

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We are going to let this run over the weekend – and pick the final country on Monday.


Why is the setting so important to your book?


Most stories follow similar patterns, girls meets horse, girl almost loses horse, girl and horse win competition or otherwise conquer some huge obstacle, physical or emotional. However, a novel set in rural England would be very different to one set in a New York suburb. Apart from the physical differences in the surroundings the challenges which the protagonist, or hero/heroine would face would be very different. People would have very different attitudes and lifestyles in different environments.


With any kind of creative writing it is important to write about what you know about. If you lived in a tent on a desert island it would certainly be more convincing if you set your novel there, rather than say in a busy city – unless of course you have experience of city living too.


That said – the bulk of a writer’s job takes place in their imagination and especially now the world has become so much smaller with the internet, google maps and images, it is perfectly feasible to research a setting well and write convincingly about it.


How do you pick a setting?


Some stories you work on might not come with their settings magically imprinted into your head, alternatively you might find it helpful to have something to base your setting on.


1. Flickr (or other photo-storage sites) – you can find some gorgeous photos of scenes  which will inspire you.


2. City Websites. Want to set your story in a city or part of the world you’ve never visited? Visit that city’s website to get a feel for their building style, any landmarks you should be aware of. You can use google maps to ‘walk’ through the city.


3. Relevant movies/television. You can learn a lot about places you’ve never been to by watching movies or television shows that were actually filmed there.


The Structure of The Setting When Writing a Novel


When writing a novel, the Setting of a story is split into four distinct elements:


Period:- the story’s place in time


When writing a novel, ask yourself, “Where in time does my story take place?” It could be in the near past, the present day, or of course the distant past or future. The Period of your story will define certain elements of your character’s world. A book written about the Second World War would not have mobile phones for example!




Duration:- the story’s length through time.


Ask yourself, “When does my story begin and end?” You will find that the narrative of the story will dictate the answer to this question. The story may take in one day, one year or span over generations. However, it is important that you know the novel’s duration and how this impacts on the period.


Location:- the story’s place in space.


When writing a novel, ask yourself, “Where does my story take place?” As mentioned previously, different locations will have different impacts on the action, just as the time period will.  Location will give you the description and feel for a story. Location remains important in giving you character a physical world to inhabit. You can have great fun browsing through property web sites and downloading the brochures of glamorous equestrian centres and properties to base your book in. Draw a map of your imaginary location – where the house is, a floor plan of the house, where the stables are and where the fields are. Go further and plan where the local town is  and where the characters will ride their horses. You can have great fun with this, making a storyboard to put up above where you write will make the characters seem even more real.


Conflict: -the position of your story in relation to the protagonist’s struggles.


Ask yourself, “What obstacles does my main character need to overcome?”


There are three levels of conflict:-


Inner: The protagonist’s internal thoughts, feelings and belief system.

Personal: Relationships with friends and family.

Extra-personal: The surrounding Society as a whole.


These will all impact on the plot and the characters actions and re-actions.


When writing a novel, considering the Setting in depth is an important step towards producing, not only a believable and convincing world, but also to creating characters that act and behave in a manner that will engage the reader and just as importantly – will keep you – as the writer enthralled watching the action play out in your imagination.



Answers on social networks please

Happy Monday! It’s almost Christmas – the shops are already echoing to the sounds of  Christmas cheer  and ringing cash registers.  A time we like even better than Christmas is  New Year, time to make all of those wonderful resolutions – this year I will write a bestseller.

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Funny how the new year sounds like a more positive time to start writing a book when actually the best time to start is NOW! Doesn’t matter whether it’s Monday, Tuesday or 3 am on a Saturday morning – just start. The hardest thing to do then is to keep at it, even when things are going badly, bottoms on seats, fingers on keyboards, there really is no magic to it.

One author who knows all about finishing a novel is the latest one to join Lavender and White Equestrian Publishing. With a string of novels to her name already she now wants to launch a new series of crime/detective novels which are being written under the pseudonym Camilla Cavendish. The idea being that her new novels are something very different from what t her current readership would expect and hence launching the titles under a new brand.

This is a very exciting time for us – and a real change of direction for us to work with such a professional and experienced writer, since our original mission was to work with new and unpublished authors. But since Camilla Cavendish is an unknown brand we still have the challenge of launching her new career.

One of the wonders of social media is that it puts us right in touch with people who are interested in what we do, readers and writers from all over the world. When Camilla Cavendish first approached us with the idea for a series of crime novels, her main creative challenge was where to set the stories. She had the main character already formed, along with her sidekick and back story, but where should our heroine live and work? In which country should she solve her crimes? Camilla knew that the background for the series would be the horse world, but where? England, America, Ireland, Europe or somewhere utterly exotic.

Going on the old adage of writing which is to write what you know about Camilla was drawn to two countries, Ireland and England since she has spent equal parts of her life living in both. Unable to make a definite decision she asked for our advice. Making a decision was so hard, Ireland and England – so similar, yet so very different, both with huge possibilities for making a wonderful backdrop for the setting to Camilla’s new novels.

Our answer, after much thought and pencil chewing, was simple – to let Camilla’s potential audience make the decision for her. So, last week we launched the question in to cyberspace, posting on Facebook, Twitter and the other social networking sites we use.  Thank you so much for all of the kind comments we have received and to everyone who took the time to reply. However, at the moment the voting is so close that we have just made the decision to post the question again this week and hope that we will get a clearer winner. So please – if you haven’t already done so – please let us know which country you think Camilla’s detective should work in – Ireland or England.

An interview with South African author Theresa Odendaal

Theresa Odendaal on A Horse Named Majestic – A Journey of Self Discovery.

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First and foremost, I guess I should say that unlike what the title may imply, it is not a children’s book. Yes, it can and has been read and enjoyed by readers as young as 12, as it has a good, easy-to-read story-line, but the real essence of the book is much, much deeper than the superficial story. The other assumption that can be made from the title is that it can only be read and enjoyed by people with an interest in horses – horsey people as we call them. Again, not so. I have had many, probably a good half of my readers, who have no interest in horses – non-horsey people as we call them – who have read and enjoyed the book.


Initially when I wrote and published the book, I simply named it A Horse Named Majestic, but when I saw the amount of confusion this caused (when the umpteenth mother wanted to buy it for her eight-year-old), I added – A Journey of Self Discovery to the title when I re-issued it. To me that brought what the book is all about home in a much more definite way.


I would classify A Horse Named Majestic – A Journey of Self Discovery as spiritual fiction. Although the surface story is about a horse, set in an equestrian environment, the central theme is universal. Majestic is each and every single one of us. Like all of us, he has flaws that lead him down the wrong path and eventually lead him to his own downfall, but, again like all of us, he is filled with greatness and in the end it is this greatness that triumphs. Jung suggested that we all have a shadow-self, which is constantly trying to trip us up. This shadow-self is nothing more than one’s own ego. It is only once one can overcome this ego that one can be truly freed to become great.


In the book, Majestic’s mother tells him that we all have a star within ourselves and that one should search for this star in order to become truly great. Majestic misunderstands this completely and presumes this to mean that this star-power, as he calls it, is what will make him a great race horse. As it turns out, this single-minded determination serves him well and he does become a great racehorse, but unfortunately, as is often the case, with great success, also came vanity, a sense of superiority and entitlement. He becomes critical of others, judges without foundation and extremely wrapped up in himself. He flies high on the wave of success, but like Icarus, he discovers that when one gets too close to the sun, one’s wings tend to melt.


It is only once everything is ripped away from him, even almost his life that he discovers what his mother had meant; that this star has nothing to do with earthly riches or success, but that it is one’s own spirituality, that little spark of God that resides in all of us. In the most terrible of circumstances, he meets up with his own personal saviour, a poor, starving donkey, who has nothing, but who has so much to give. For the first time he understands that only love and forgiveness are important. Without that, one is nothing, no matter how rich or successful one may be…


I used a horse as the main character for more than one reason. Firstly there is the obvious one: I absolutely love horses and live for them and my very own horse, the real Majestic was a great inspiration in the writing of this book. But secondly, and probably more importantly, I don’t think that anyone can deny that there is a certain spiritual quality associated with a horse. Even people who have never physically touched a horse in their lives, are somehow awed by the “mystery and majesty” of the horse. I think the donkey is also pretty obvious; few animals have been associated as much with humility as the poor donkey and to have him rise above this and stand out as the messenger of love, peace and goodwill, I think speaks for itself.


In one book review, A Horse Named Majestic – A Journey of Self Discovery was described as a modern-day Black Beauty. I was flattered and honoured and hope that Majestic will become as well-loved a character as Anna Sewell’s Black Beauty. However, where Anna Sewell’s message was one pertaining mostly to her time – the awful plight of the working horse in the nineteenth century, my message is one that can pertain to any day and age – the search for one’s own spirituality.


I have had people say to me after reading the book that they will never look at their horses in the same way again and feel extremely bad about how they have treated them before, or now wonder about reactions and behaviours of their horses in the past that they had not understood a the time. I even had a mother telling me that while her daughter was reading the book, she suddenly noticed that she was starting to take better care of her own horse… I have had non-horsey people saying to me that they were scared they would not understand or enjoy the book, purely because it was about horses, but that it made not the slightest bit of difference and that they loved it.


These are all wonderful comments to hear. But I remember someone buying the book from me once, only to call me up a few days later, extremely surprised and excited, saying, “I thought I was getting a jolly good horsey read, but goodness me, you have made me review my whole life and I don’t think I will ever be the same again!” I don’t think any other comment about the book has made me feel quite as warm and fuzzy inside as that one, as that was exactly what I had intended!


One question I am always asked, is: “How long did it take you to write the book?” This is probably one of the most difficult questions to answer, as I am also an artist and no work of art according to the artist is ever complete. Whenever I showed some of my old paintings to people, there would inevitably be patches of wet paint, as when I took them out, I discovered things I wanted to “quickly” change… Every time I sit with the manuscript in front of me, I want to add or change something. At some point, I said now or never and had it published. But prior to re-releasing it, I think I added about another 5000 words and changed bits and pieces. So the short answer is, one can probably sit and write a book like this in about three to four weeks, if you have the plot secure in your mind, but then the chopping, changing, editing etc starts and this could take a lifetime… I believe that this is why many people never get around to publishing a book they have been working on their whole lifetime, simply because they never think that it is finished. I find it much easier to write magazine articles, as there is a deadline and at some stage, one just HAS to finish.  It is probably the same way with authors who are commissioned to write a book by a publisher, but I haven’t been in that situation yet. I think if one planted me in front of a computer with the manuscript now, I would start chopping and changing again.


A Majestic New Book from Lavender and White Equestrian Publishing

We are very proud to announce  the release of  a new fiction e-book titled  A Horse Named Majestic by South African author Theresa Odendaal.

Theresa Odendaal  was born in 1967 in Pretoria, South Africa, and has lived there all of her life. She has had a life- long love affair with horses. Theresa’s other passion is books – everything to do with them – reading them and writing them; As she says “I love the feel of them and the smell of them. I love the written word – prose, poetry, sketches and heavy, intellectual works. I love the feel of a pen in my hand, I have even grown to love the sound of a computer key-board. I love stringing words together and making sentences, turning those into experiences and emotions. In short, if I am not busy with horses, I am busy with books – or at least with words.”

Copy of cover2OPTION10 colour adjust new bckground cropA Horse Named Majestic was inspired by her own wonderful horse, Majestic. Theresa believes Majestic came into her life for a reason. She explains, “I firmly believe angels walk among us and that some have four legs and wear fur coats! Majestic was one of those – an angel-horse. We shared almost 20 years and I cannot thank him enough for sharing his earthly life with me. He crossed the rainbow bridge in 2013, I miss him so much, but his soul lives on in A Horse Named Majestic.”

Majestic is a horse.  His mother told him that the stars in the sky are the souls of the horses that die and for that star to shine brightly, one needs to spend one’s whole life trying to find this star deep inside.  Majestic becomes a famous racehorse and later a top show jumper, believing that this is how his star is supposed to shine. It is only once his life takes a terrible turn that he truly understands what his mother meant.  A poor starving donkey teaches him the meaning of true greatness and how to find his inner star through love and forgiveness.

A Horse Named Majestic is a story on two levels.  It is the story of a horse’s life, his rise to stardom, his fall into abuse and how he eventually overcomes this. It is also the story of the search for one’s own spirituality.  A sensitive and touching story told by Majestic himself, offering a fresh glimpse of society through a horse’s eyes, it leaves the reader wondering just a little about what is truly important in life…

A Horse Named Majestic compels the reader to draw parallels with his own human experience, seeing the pitfalls and obstacles every soul experiences during its human existence, mapping the path forward and to rise above circumstance.

If you have not read the hard copy yet, A Horse Named Majestic – A Journey of Self Discovery is now available to download on our website.





Should I write a book?

We hear that refrain so often, even from experienced writers. Usually they are looking for validation that the book will be worthwhile them spending hours and hours slaving over a keyboard.


Some people who have magical stories to tell will keep asking others if they think the story is good enough to be written down, with the net result that often nothing is ever written. What a shame. Don’t ask for permission to tell your story. You don’t need anyone to tell you that it is worthy of being written. Just start writing and get it out of your soul and into reality. Whether anyone else will ever read it is a sales problem not a writing problem.

As the brilliant Bruce Springsteen says “If you write for yourself, you’ll always have an audience.”

It will take months, even years to write a book, so if you are intending on spending such a large chunk of your life in such a solitary occupation you had better find it interesting and fun.

Don’t wait for permission from anyone else, asking for everyone’s approval is just a way of procrastinating, putting off the actual moment of making the idea a reality. Just make a start and see where it takes you – there’s nothing at stake, you aren’t learning how to save lives.
No one has to see the book but you – why be afraid of yourself? Your idea is good enough – because it’s yours. Who cares about grammar and structure that’s just nuts and bolts. Just write!

It’s only through effort that we learn what a good idea really is and if our passion for it will last or if it will fizzle out. There is no shame in failure – everyone who tries will fail at some stage. But it’s hard to respect someone who never tries, even once, to do something with a good idea that is always on their mind. If you’re worried about how good your idea is, you’re worrying about the wrong thing. Stop worrying and start writing.

Ideas can pop into our minds at any time, once you are open to them inspiration will strike at any time. It’s only in the act of making an idea real that we can pin ideas down long enough to discover what they will be of any use to us. Many will crumble. Some will disappoint. Some might need to linger for weeks or years. The wonderful thing about ideas is that there are always more. You lose nothing by making an attempt at turning them into reality. If your idea fades there will be others.

If in the end if only one other person enjoys reading what you have written, that alone justifies your efforts. That person might be a close friend, a distant stranger, or possibly even yourself, years later, when you rediscover the fabulous story you have told. Your book idea is good because it’s yours.


Regardless of what the story is about you are the only person in the world capable of telling it in the way you have it in your imagination. Maybe it’s not terribly original, but what the hell – the last 2000 or so years of literature have been retelling the writings of Sophocles and Shakespeare

The only way to know if an idea for a book is any good is to do something with it. If you write it and others don’t like it; you’re in good company. There isn’t a writer in existence who has written something everyone likes.

Make a start. It’s the only way. You may fail – but who knows – you might also succeed.

How to decide what to write

How to decide what to write about.
It is said that everyone has a book in them. However some people have the problem that they have too many books in their imagination and don’t know where to start; the plot for a brilliant book springs to mind and then before this is written another equally fabulous outline is conjured up. While this may sound a wonderful affliction, it can lead to writer’s block. How do you know which way to turn when there are so many options? Time is then wasted writing outlines and starting books which are then abandoned when the next ‘big’ thing comes along.
The answer to this problem is in careful planning and a disciplined approach. Not all stories make good books and not every writer can create a good book even with the best idea in the world.
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The worst job in the world!
The reality of writing is that it is a lonely, hard slog, often with little or no reward at the end. Books are hard to write, there is an awful lot of planning and revision involved before and after the actual 60,000 plus words which go to make up the story. It’s a process that can be frustrating, torturous, or so time-consuming that you’ll want to give up. Writing a book is also emotionally taxing, you are exposing an awful lot of yourself, of your knowledge, the quality of your ideas, your writing skills, and your personality in your book, putting yourself out there in a way, which you may not want to do.
When the darn book is written the problem is not over. Books do not sell themselves. After writing the book, there is publishing, promoting, and selling all has to be done. That process can be heart rendering the book might not sell, it might be ignored completely, or get dreadful reviews.
All things considered it is important to write a book that at least has a chance of being successful, which means writing about something you understand. Watching a sci-fi movie at the weekend with the kids might have given you an idea for a wonderful story, but the reality is that without the barest knowledge of the sci-fi world your book will just not resonate with your audience.
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Too many plots spoil the writer
The first step in deciding what kind of book you should write is to consider what kind of book you like to read. If you love thrillers, or romances that might be a good genre for you to start with. There are no bad genres, just bad writers.
If you have too many plot ideas and don’t know which to start writing begin by listing all of the ideas you have in a good notebook. Keep this, regardless of which book you decide to start on first. A clippings and ideas book is essential for writers. Keep jotting down ideas and things that inspire you – not all of these will go on to become books, but some will have potential.
Once you have the ideas listed, go through them again and write a brief synopsis for each. This will give you an idea of which ideas will actually have the potential to become a book. It is no good having a brilliant start to a plot line, if you can’t ‘see’ how the story develops.
Once you have the synopsis down for each book see if the story has the key elements necessary to make a gripping novel. The story needs to have characters who will engage the reader and a plot that will keep them enthralled, the rest of the essentials, pace, time, setting etc can be worked on, but without the first two elements the book doesn’t stand any chance of becoming a reality. You will come up against problem after problem and give up which will waste vital time.
Get tough with those random ideas
Once you have your list of prospective storylines these can be gone through carefully to see which has the best potential to become a book. The reality of the publishing world is that sometimes even the best books just don’t resonate with readers – and equally, those who are thought to be sheer trash will sell in millions. An author therefore not only has to have bucket loads of determination, a hide like a rhino, but they also have to have great foresight to be able to predict what the book buying public will want to buy. The reason? In reality it’s going to take you a few years to write and edit the book and what is selling like hot cakes now will be so in a couple of years’ time.
Looking at what books are selling now is no help at all. Thrillers and romances will always account for a huge chunk of the market. The book you write should be the kind you like to read, but it should also be one that you can write knowledgeably about, or one that you can (and want to) research well enough to write knowledgeably about.
Write about what you love
Don’t write for the market; write for yourself. If you are writing for the market it’s because you want to sell a million copies, become rich and famous. But if you write for yourself it’s because there’s a story you need to tell. You want to write the kind of book you’d enjoy reading, and you want to share a bit of your soul with the rest of the world. So write from your heart, rewrite like the toughest critic, and be sure to tie up all your loose ends.
If you haven’t been put off the idea of writing completely – then write the sort of book you like to read, then at least you will enjoy the experience!