Social Media and Networking Tips


This the 8th and final post in the Indie Block Party, and the theme as the crate says is Social Media & Network Tips.

When I became a writer, as opposed to a retired journalist, I was led to believe that building my social platform was crucial. So I dutifully created this website/blog, a dedicated writing Facebook page and a Twitter account. I knew that there was a stage two that required signing up to other social media, but I never reached that point.

Each day I dutifully checked my emails on my personal and writing accounts, then my two Facebook feeds, and finally Twitter. I read all the articles that seemed relevant but it all impacted on my writing. Social media took over at the expense of being creative.

Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...

Now I attempt to prioritise what I do. I check the emails and Facebook but I have to admit that I gave up reading everything on Twitter as so much of it seemed repetitive and self-promoting. I find it far easier to subscribe to blogs that I feel are worthwhile, once I have read a few good posts.

I try to share these posts on Facebook, but I’m not sure if many people read them. We’re all too busy anyway.

The groups that I find most useful on Facebook tend to be ones for British writers rather than more international, although they are not exclusively so. If you befriend me on I can recommend you to them. Or simply Like my Roland Clarke Writer page.

Facebook logo Español: Logotipo de Facebook Fr...

In terms of major DOs and DON’Ts for the social media world, I would say DO socialise and relate to people, but DON’T hard sell them, bombarding them with sales promotions.

Can I end by quoting some excellent Tips from Janice Hardy:

Social media tips:

  • Social media is about connecting and being social, not spamming “buy my stuff”
  • Be yourself, be professional, and be nice
  • If you wouldn’t say it to someone’s face, don’t say it online. The internet is forever
  • It can take time to figure out which social media site fits your personality and style and how to be effective on it
  • Use your author’s name. “WriterJay” might fit my personality, but it’s not going to help me get my name out there or build my author brand

For the full articles:


Normal Blog service will resume next week, although with less information blackouts, I hope. This Indie Block Party has got me thinking…

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Writing Tips


For Post 7 in the Indie Block Party the topic is: Share your most helpful writing tips and advice. What do you know now that you wished you had known when you started writing?

I always say that I wish that I had known that completing my first novel overnight wasn’t guaranteed or required. It’s been 13+ years and publication is just a few months away.

So for all you wannabe writers out there, with that one book crying out to be written, I need to say that it can take a lot of sweat and patience, plus discarded ideas and words, especially if all criticism is taken on board. But it’s all worth it. There are amazing moments especially when words flow and visions come to life on the page. Just give yourself time and don’t rush the creative process.

Tip 1: Learn the craft well. Writing is a craft that we all spend years perfecting, in fact for a lifetime. As wiser people than I have said, the best writers are always learning and consciously improving. Never stop studying your craft.

Tip 2: Be There. These words are posted beside my computer to remind me to live in my writing. Feel your surroundings as your characters do. Immerse yourself in the same way that you want the reader to be captivated. Leave the objective, critical, internal nit-picker locked away until the editing stage. Starve him somehow so he’ll work harder later.

Tip 3: Why? Posted on my wall under ‘Be There’. As a journalist I was often told to use the five Ws in the first sentence of the newspaper story, even if it was an outdated technique by then.  Who, What, When, Where and Why i.e. who is it about? What happened? When did it take place? Where did it take place? Why did it happen?

For me this has been simplified to Why? – in the sense of Why is this happening? Why is the character doing this? Why am I changing scenes? Why am I using these words. Not all the questions but the best ones start with ‘why’.

Image courtesy of

Image courtesy of

Tip 4: As they say in acting – Is your character always in character? Is your character always in the moment? Best explained at:

Tip 5: Write that first draft as fast and furiously as the inner muse unleashes the words that she wants to inspire you with. Again don’t let the internal editor hold you back.

Tip 6: Take regular breaks, walk around the house… or in my case wheel myself around. When we move to our bespoke home it will be far easier to go outside, without changing wheelchairs and lifting them around corners. So my advice is mix writing with gardening perhaps, anything to move around as well as write.

Tip 7. Rewards: Not exactly the last one but the point at which the experts move into the wings. I could only add that beyond my writing I know that I will be rewarded with something I enjoy. For some of you that might be coffee, a muffin, chocolate or a shower, but for me it is escaping into another world playing some MMORPG.


Have I done enough to go now, please?

Okay, guess not.

Here a few links to interesting articles that I have read in the last few days.

There are various sites I use including:

And as a crime writer:

Finally a site that I have just discovered and started subscribing to:

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One Book to Fuel them all…


Another reading theme for Post 6 in the Indie Block Party: What are the top 5 books you absolutely love?

This is harder, perhaps, than listing my Top 5 Movies, games/MMORPGS, and even music. Immediately reminds me of BBC Radio Four’s Desert Island Discs where celebrity ‘castaways’ name their top eight record choices, plus a book and a luxury, as well as The Complete Works of William Shakespeare and The Bible (or similar text). Except here it is just books, I’m no celebrity – yet – but I can pretend to be a castaway.

So what five absolutely loved books would I take to this desert island… where my Kindle won’t be charged for more than a few chapters. Need to be paperbacks or hardbacks then.

1.   J R R Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings: this has always headed my list of favourite books and it is nowadays classed as a classic. Other options of that ilk, Classics, would include Great Expectations, Heart of Darkness, 1984 and others, but this is the one I re-read every few years. It has always inspired me whether I need to escape into another world or in my writing. Is that the same thing? And I have been able to see my vision of Middle Earth on screen plus been there in a gaming world. That is also echoed now in the Professor’s words. (As is the Blog title). I also have the hardback set that I read in my late teens back in the late 1970’s.


2.   Charles de Lint’s Greenmantle: staying on the fantasy theme although de Lint is the master of blending genres, in this case fantasy and crime. Of course John Buchan had already used the title and I remember following Richard Hannay through thrilling adventures, when I was in my teens. But de Lint’s Greenmantle is both magical and gritty. Urban fantasy at its very best. And I re-read it a few months ago.


3.    Linwood Barclay’s No Time for Goodbye: to me this is a crime-thriller novel that I can re-read, even if I vaguely remember the circuitous complexities of the plot, which is so well woven. Barclay is a master of the art of leading you astray and yet it all fits logically, when you reach the end. My crime novel of choice would have been Agatha Christie’s Murder of Roger Ackroyd, but I’ve read it too many times to get lost in its cleverness. So now I choose Barclay. Would a series count as one book?


4.   Anne McCaffrey’s The White Dragon: once I discovered McCaffrey’s Pern series about dragons, Thread and so much more, I was hooked. Of all her Pern books this is the one with the best characters, best plot, and best surprises – especially if you’ve read all the books before this one. Sadly lost my copies of the Pern books so must go online and order at least this one before I leave for the island.


5.   Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist:  such a small book and yet vast in its depth. The Alchemist is gold dust… magical fairy dust from a true artist, poet, and alchemist. If you haven’t read it – why not? If you have, then re-read, or try his other masterpieces. It opened my mind in the same way that Antoine de St Exupery’s The Little Prince did.


Well that’s it, folks… or is it:

6.   Douglas Adam’s The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: I know this is more than five but I’m using the Infinite Improbability Drive. Plus there has to be humor and for me this was a laugh that I could re-live over and over again without the joke getting stale. And bonus this is the beginning of “a trilogy in five parts”. (Another review at:


Okay I’ll stick by the Catch 22 rules, forget I had a cat called Oliver, and head for Casterbridge, all to avoid another War and Peace.

Feel another Blog creeping up on me – Lord of the Lists. What Lists should I have? Movies, MMORPGs, music, maybe even poems.

What do you suggest?

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And for my reading pleasure…


This is Post 5 in the Indie Block Party and today the topic is: What are you currently reading?

So this is my current situation, when I haven’t even updated my Goodreads page to reflect the last five centuries or so of reading.

Oracle OFFICIAL Cover

1.   Anyway I’ve just finished an excellent thriller, ‘Oracle’ by J C Martin, which I recommend to all who enjoy a good crime, mystery or thriller. ‘Oracle’ has a great plot, well-rounded characters with human frailties, and the novel is realistically set in a London that I was familiar with… and in the underbelly that few of us have ever seen. I’m keen to read J C’s next books as soon as they are available.

Further details: OR 


As the countdown begins, the body count rises.
With London gearing up to host the Olympics, the city doesn’t need a serial killer stalking the streets. They’ve got one anyway.
Leaving a trail of brutal and bizarre murders, the police are no closer to finding their latest murderer than Detective Inspector Kurt Lancer is in finding a solution for his daughter’s disability.
Thrust into the pressure cooker of a high profile case, the struggling single parent is wound tight as he tries to balance care of his own family with the safety of a growing population of potential next victims.
One of whom could be his own daughter.
Fingers point in every direction as the public relations nightmare grows, and Lancer’s only answer comes in the form of a single oak leaf left at each crime scene.”

Cover of "The Chronicles of Amber: "...

2.   I’ve been re-reading Roger Zelazny’s “The Chronicles of Amber”, as a chunky paperback. Finished the first book ‘Nine Princes in Amber’ and well into No 2 ‘The Guns of Avalon’. Eight more in the series so lots of reading left. I read the Amber series in my teens and I wanted to revisit the world as the series were among my all-time Fantasy favourites. Zelazny’s masterpieces were published in the early 1970’s but are still available.

Further details: OR


“Amber is the one real world, casting infinite reflections of itself – shadow worlds, which can be manipulated by those of royal Amberite blood. But the royal family is torn apart by jealousies and suspicion; the disappearance of the patriarch Oberon has intensified the internal conflict by leaving the throne apparently up for grabs; and amnesia has robbed Corwin, Crown Prince of Amber his memory – even the fact that he is the rightful heir to the throne.”

Shaman's Drum

3.   On Kindle, I’m reading Ailsa Abraham’s “Shaman’s Drum”, to which there is a prequel due out in the future. Ailsa comes from a ‘long line of Scottish witches’ and knows first-hand about shamanism, which shows in the novel. I am still learning how to use my Kindle so I am reading this one very slowly, but I keep wanting to know more. It might be a fantasy setting or rather future England, but at its core is a tale of love.

Further details: AND


England in the near future. 
Mainstream religions have been outlawed, and the old gods rule again.
Iamo has been a priest of the Great Mother and is sworn to celibacy, but his love for Riga, a Black Shaman, a magical assassin, caused him to break his vows. After being imprisoned apart from each other for three years, Iamo accepts an offer to earn them both a pardon and the possibility of marriage. If they survive.
Iamo and Riga must discover why demons are breaking through from the other side. Which of the cults are renegades who allow the demons through? Who can they trust? 
Combining their powers, they face the ordeal with the help of a band of eclectic pagans, spirit creatures, Riga’s Black Shaman brothers, an undercover Christian granny, and three unusually energetic Goths. 
It’s a tough assignment, but the hope of a life together keeps them fighting.”



Copyright: J M Clarke

Sadly I have a growing list of books that I want to read in paperback or tree-form as some call it, and also on Kindle, which some claim is more green. Still love the feel of turning pages of a paper book, and seeing them around.

I also need to read more in the way of research – e.g: Don Bamford & Paul Carroll’s ‘Four Years on the Great Lakes, 1813-1816’ , as above under my Kindle, and vital for my proposed ‘Seeking A Knife’ novel, which is merely a vague outline. Plus there are dozens I want to buy and those are on my growing Wish List. But I just don’t read very fast, especially on the Kindle.

What should I do? Paper or Kindle? Read more and write less? Abandon sleep?

More on my Reading habits here on Writing Wings tomorrow.

but until then

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How to commit the perfect murder to paper: Advice from David Thomas, aka Tom Cain

As a wannabe crime writer I had to reblog this one as excellent advice

Tyson Adams

I’m not a fan of The Daily Fail. They really do seem to swim in the shallow end of the wading pool of intelligence. That said, today they featured an article from a very good novelist, someone with whom I’ve had some interesting conversations: David Thomas / Tom Cain. So like any good blogger, I’ve stolen the article and reposted it here. Enjoy!

All over the world, on countless flights, heading to an infinite number of sun-loungers people are burying their heads in stories about secret agents, serial killers, ace detectives, evil villains and sexy heroines.

Thrillers are a huge business. They make up about a third of all books sold, and 60 per cent of them are bought by women.

For the very top writers, the rewards are astonishing. In 2009, James Patterson signed a four-year, 17-book deal worth almost £100 million. At the peak of Da Vinci Code mania, Dan…

View original post 1,565 more words

Millie Burns: Dragon Writer


For my 4th Post in the Indy Block Party, it is my pleasure to interview Millie Burns, author of ‘Return of the Crown’ and currently working on its sequel, ‘Zelera’s Revenge’. She has to be a Dragon Writer as she would surely find a place among the riders & harpers in Anna McCaffrey’s Pern series.  Enough of my musings, on to the interview.

1.   When did your love of Dragons begin?

I’ve been a lover of fantasy type stories for as long as I can remember.  A couple of my favorite dragons come from both movies and novels.  I fell in love with Scarlet the dragon in the Sword of Truth series by Terry Goodkind.  I loved Draco from the movie Dragonheart, voiced by Sean Connery.  Both those dragons are noble but also have a great sense of humor.  I also have a special place in my heart for the Luck Dragon in the Neverending Story.  I think I’m a little like Hagrid, if I met someone down at the pub, who had an egg…well, let’s just say I’d need to fireproof my house!

2.  Dragons have had bad press ever since St George claimed to be the hero. Some of us suspect that the truth was perverted. Your dragons are a noble breed. What is their version of the truth?

Ena teases that she’d like to eat some of my human characters, but really she loves sheep!  She’ll settle for a cow or a couple goats, but roasted leg of lamb is snout licking delish to her!  She tries very hard not to take too much from any single farmer, and occasionally feels a little guilt at stealing from them.  Her anger with humankind stems from people killing dragons for their skins, their blood, and their hearts.  All the parts of the dragon have very magical properties.  I can’t blame her for being suspicious of humans, and Zelera did steal one of her eggs.

3.   Do you plot your books or are they quests as they unfold?                        

I start with a rough outline.  A beginning, a few things I want to happen in the middle, and an end.  But here’s the deal.  While my story will look similar to the outline when I’m finished, it tends to be a half-step off to the side in places.  Which is delightful.  Most times when I divert from course, it’s a huge improvement from where I started.  I still have about 20,000 words left in my WIP (at least that’s what I think I have left) and I’d like to say I know where I’m going with it, but those darn characters often rebel, and, well, I guess I’m a pushover as an author, ’cause I let them take the wheel at times. 


4.   How do you find your inspiration?

I think all my writing is just an extension of the world around me.  (Shh, don’t tell anyone, but I do actually have a dragon).  Just joshing.  I have always had an overactive imagination, or maybe for me, it is just the right amount of energy with a sense of wonder.  “What if” is a favorite question of mine.    


5.   World creation is an essential part of fantasy. What is your approach to making your world believable as well as fantastical?

I want people to be able to see the world, so they can partake in the adventure.  So I make much of my world filled with scenery that is common to ours.  I use creatures common in our mythology (and when I say ours, I mean it, the whole world’s.  I’m not picky!)  I may take liberties with said characters and their abilities, but I try to base them on available folklore : )  Then I try to paint out my magical elements in a way that they can be seen, felt, smelt and tasted (very sensory driven). 


6.   What’s the BEST writing advice you have ever received?           

Write every single day.  Some days I wonder though, doesn’t signing your name on a credit card slip or the bottom of a check count?  Sigh, no?  Life can get in the way once in a while, but I just keep chugging along!

7.   What are your aim and ambition in writing?

I think knowing my story really entertained someone, that’s the greatest feeling in the world.  I have a neighbor girl, who showed up on my doorstep one afternoon.  She held my book out towards me in trembling hands, she couldn’t even find her voice to ask for an autograph.  It made my heart melt! 

I also sponsored a writing contest at my daughter’s elementary school last year, and chose a winner from each grade level.  Every child’s story was published in an anthology I put together.  This year, a mom came up to me, just thanking me profusely for inspiring her daughter.  Her daughter wrote an article for the little neighborhood newspaper, and has begun an outline for a book series (she’s in fourth grade this year).  So, outside of pleasing the characters in my head that have stories they want to share, I hope that I can continue helping foster a love of creative writing in the next generation!

So, my aim and ambition are to keep getting better, and keep having fun writing, so I can share my joy of fantasy and adventure with others. 

I’d like to give a big thank you to Roland, for stepping up to interview me, as my next door neighbor seems to be AWOL. 


It has been my pleasure Millie to learn about your writing world. Many thanks for taking time out to talk with everyone.

Further Author information at:


Further Book information at:



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