The Writer's Cookbook

Writing, productivity, publishing.

Type Like You Mean it: How to Type Faster

One thing I never really thought about when I first started working on Productivity for Writers is just how fast I can type.

The fastest I’ve ever typed is about 1,000 words in 10 minutes.

I don’t do that often, but I can if I focus and know exactly what I want to write.

In most cases, it takes me about half an hour to write that much. I type about 120wpm.

There are people out there who type even faster (gamers and computer programmers, usually).

My WPM gets me to my word count fairly quickly, so I’m happy.

If you’re interested in how to type faster, here are some tips:

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Should you go indie or publish your book traditionally? Here's some of the differences.

Indie Publishing vs. Traditional Publishing

There comes a point in an author’s life where they have to make a decision. It’s a decision that we barely had five years ago, and ten years ago didn’t exist at all. But, just as iTunes and Spotify changed the music industry, the likes of Kindle and Kobo have changed the publishing industry forever.

Self publishing (sometimes called indie publishing, although some people insist they’re different things) cuts out the agent and the publisher. Most of the profits go to the author. With the case of Kindle, that’s 35% (if you charge less than £1.99), or 70% (if you charge more than that). The rest goes to Amazon.

When you compare that to how much authors get from traditional publishing—an advance of a few thousand, and royalty payments of as little as 7.5%—self publishing is tempting.

But is it worth it?

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What Happens in London is out now!

After months of hard work and preparation, What Happens in London is finally here!

You can find it on Kindle and Kindle Unlimited, and paperback.

I plan to publish it on Kobo and Nook soon, but as I’m entering it into Kindle Storyteller, digital rights have to remain exclusively with Amazon for now.

What is Kindle Storyteller?

If you’re unaware what Kindle Storyteller is, this is how Amazon describes it:

The Kindle Storyteller prize is open to submissions of new English Language books from all authors and genres. Titles must be previously unpublished, a minimum of 5,000 words with no upper word limit and be available as an eBook and in print via Kindle Direct Publishing or CreateSpace (print edition only).


As a small indie author with little to no profile, my odds of getting anywhere are slim.

However, we don’t know unless we try, right?

How you can help

The more people that download it (especially on the same day), the higher it ranks, and the more other people who don’t know who I am are likely to find it.

What’s What Happens in London about?

Starting your own business isn’t easy, but this time, Hollie’s determined to succeed. She’s got the drive, she’s got the moral support, and she’s making an outfit for a global superstar. But chasing your dreams comes with obstacles. Will she overcome them, or will her depression and anxiety take over?

Since Fayth returned from New York as a pseudo-celebrity, the family pub is firmly in the black. And, as far as her dad’s concerned, that makes it the perfect time to sell. Her sister isn’t happy. Fayth is. With the pub sold and her divorce finalised, for the first time in her life, she can do whatever she wants. Just as soon as she figures out what that is.

Everything’s looking up until someone they love is injured in a life-changing accident. Will things ever be the same again?

Just some of the themes covered in What Happens in London include: Fame. Fashion. Friendship. Love. Loss. Entrepreneurship. Disability. Depression. Anxiety. Death. Grief. Gossip. Fortitude.

The journey to publication

Whenever I think back to this time last year, it amazes me how much things have changed.

Not only did I approach publishing and marketing What Happens in London completely differently, but things outside of my writing life have changed, too.

I’ll write more about how things have changed in a future blog post, but for now, let’s just say that a lot can change in just a year.

I look back at the writing I did a year, two years, three years ago, and it amazes me how much my writing has changed.

I’m really looking forwards to seeing how things change as I continue to write more and share my journey with you!

Advanced readers say…

A great contemporary read that gives you romance, drama and action all packed into a believable story that takes you from cover to cover before you know it. Two books in now and I’m feeling impatient for the third!


I read What Happens In London in a couple of days, and couldn’t wait to find out what happened to Hollie and Fayth, Liam and Astin. The twists and turns of the story go beyond the expected and the characters are so relatable, even in surprising circumstances. Hollie’s personal and professional battles make WHIL a captivating read, and Fayth’s down to earth nature ensures that they both keep their feet firmly on the ground in the face of adversity, which is something all young women can aspire to. The book series really is a breath of fresh air!

See for yourself—get your copy of What Happens in London today!

An update on What Happens in New York

I made a lot of mistakes while working on What Happens in New York.

I learnt a lot, too.

I’m going to get the same proofreader that went through What Happens in London to go through What Happens in New York and check for anything else I missed (because there’s always something when you go through your own work).

Then I want to publish it to a wider audience on platforms such as Kobo and Nook.

I’d love to do an audiobook version, but that’s just not viable right now because of how much it would cost to produce.

If you have any other platforms you’d like to see it on, please do let me know in the comments!

And of course…

Don’t forget to download your copy of What Happens in London!

Does Exercise Really Affect Productivity? Part Two

A few weeks ago now, I embarked on a (totally unscientific) experiment to find out if exercising more affected my productivity.

There are a few gaps this time as I keep forgetting to write updates (and make notes of what songs I listen to, which I’m sure you’re gutted about), but I’m still exercising most days and finding it to be beneficial.

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Looking for a great editor? Here's 7 ways to find the one for you.

7 Signs of a Great Editor

In the two decades that I’ve been writing, I’ve worked with editors of fiction, newspapers, blogs, and even poetry. I’ve met some great editors, and some not-so-great editors. Sometimes the differences are subtle, sometimes they’re stark.

Many writers believe that because they can write, they can edit, too. However, writing and editing are two very different skills. The longer you stay in one mode, the more difficult it becomes to switch back to the other.

When writing, it’s important to get an objective point of view on your work. No matter how objective we think we are, at the end of the day, it’s a piece of writing that we’ve invested our time and maybe a little bit of our soul into, too. That’s why editing our own work is so difficult. And why getting a separate editor is so important.

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Does Exercise Really Affect Your Productivity Levels? I’m About to Find Out…

Everyone always harks on about how great exercise is.

It helps you sleep better, it improves your memory, it stops you from ageing as quickly, and it increases productivity.

Or so they say.

I’ve heard all these claims and always felt inclined to exercise more, but the truth is, I just don’t enjoy it.

Exercise is also one of the main things that triggers my asthma, so that just puts me off further.

I was fairly fit as a child, dancing and swimming regularly, but when I hit my teenage years and suffered from nasty period pains, I stopped going.

(Yes, I know it’s good for them, but when you’re a teenager and no painkillers help, are you going to choose exercise or bed?)

With the exception of a few brief stints of gym-going, I’ve been pretty unfit for the last ten years or so.

This wasn’t such a big deal when I was in my early twenties, but as I get older, I can feel my body starting to protest.

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EXCLUSIVE: Read the First Chapter of What Happens in London!

There’s less than a month to go until What Happens in London is published!

I’m so excited to share it with you!

Since I’m so excited, I shared the opening chapter with members of my fiction mailing list (you won’t have gotten it if you signed up for the free fiction-writing checklist, but you will have if you signed up for Liam’s short story) at the weekend.

If you missed out, never fear!

You can read the opening chapter of What Happens in London below!

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Discover how to write sarcasm.

How to Write Sarcasm

Ignore what they say—sarcasm isn’t the lowest form of wit. It’s also not the highest form of intelligence (sorry). But it is fun. It doesn’t always translate well into writing, though.

My characters use sarcasm A LOT. Why? Because they take after my friends and I. Some of us use it occasionally while others use it hourly.

And, since we’re millennials, most of our communication is done digitally. That means that understanding when the person is being sarcastic and when they’re being sincere is crucial. Some of this comes from being friends and having known each other a long time, but not always.

In the digital age emojis can make it easier to get the right tone across, but how do you write sarcasm that comes across as sarcasm and not you being an arse without using emojis?

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The Different Types of Fiction in a Way That Won’t Make Your Head Explode

When we think of fiction, we often think of novels. But just what is a novel?

Categorising fiction between short stories, novels, and novellas is about so much more than just the number of words. It’s also about genre, the story’s complexity, and character development.

Word counts vary depending on whom you ask, but the general consensus is that a novel is over 50,000 words, a short story under 20,000, and a novella anything in between.

However, this can be broken down further. And, to make matters complicated, some things overlap.

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How to Write About Grief

Death. It comes to us as much as it comes to our characters. With it being a ubiquitous part of life that everyone will experience at some point, it’s important to write about it sympathetically and realistically.

Throughout the course of What Happens in New York, Fayth deals with the loss of her mum and older sister. Even though it’s been almost six months since their deaths, she hasn’t dealt with it because she bottles up her emotions.

This was a topic I’d never written about in-depth before, and hadn’t experienced at the time. I had to do a lot of research into death, the stages of grief, and the different ways in which people cope with loss. It helped to ask people who had been through such things and were willing to share their stories. They also gave me some pointers to make Fayth’s grieving more realistic.

According to Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, the five stages of grief are denial, anger, depression, bargaining, and acceptance. How long it takes to go through these stages—and how long each stage lasts—varies from person to person.

Whether your reader has experienced the death of a loved one or not, they should still be able to empathise with your character after their loss. The deeper you can get into how your character feels about the loss, the more of a connection it will create.

Here are just a few ways you can do that.

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