Category Archives: Writing Tips

30 WRITING COMPETITIONS with Amazing Prizes

Every few months, I like to collate a bucket load of writing competitions and plonk them in a post for you to peruse and enter at your leisure.

I say it all the time, but writing is a muscle. If you don’t exercise it, you’re guna lose it and that doesn’t mean always writing long novel-like prose.

Short stories are like the caffeine of writing. They give your muse a jump start shot of adrenaline and get your brain working in ways you never imagined. Why not make it your goal to enter a comp a month this year?

I’ve only listed first prize winnings this time to save time and as always PLEASE CHECK THE RULES for any competition you enter. There are always details and nuances that you have to adhere to, I have not included them here.

Here’s a list of 30 competitions with big prizes. Clearly enter the first one immediately :p Continue reading

4 Ways Not to F*** Up Your Novel’s Tenses

I’m in the home stretch, for both my books, the glorious finish line is in sight… like the marathon runner entering the stadium I am high, the lactic acid burn is intense but like an addict, I love it. Things are going well…and then I realise…I’ve messed up, BIG time. Ballsed up like a big pile of chunky vomit, covered in word poops and a distinct time distorted tense cock up.

Now, I am tense. Tense, because I fudged up my fuckling manuscript. I’m trying not to throw my toys out the pram, because this is supposed to be the last edit, and it is, kinda. It’s just a chuff ton bigger than I thought it was going to be.

Here’s what happened: I gave my manuscript to beta readers they provided some delightful and useful feedback, I processed said feedback and then I put it down whilst I finished off 13 Steps to Evil my non-fiction writing craft book that teaches writers how to craft better villains. Three months elapsed and when I came to do the final edit of Keepers. I started writing, and could not for the life of me understand why I couldn’t get it right.

Something was off, something intangible, a murky jelly-like substance that was just out of reach. I knew the problem was there I just didn’t know what it was. It wasn’t until I shared the paragraph with a friend who asked me why I’d switched tense that I realised the ALMIGHTY cock up.

Because of such a significant time  gap, I’d started editing in a completely different tense. It wouldn’t have been a problem, except I preferred the new tense to the old one, which means a total rewrite.

CUNDYFUNKINGBALLSACKS

*Takes deep breath*

“Do I really need to do a full tense rewrite for my whole manuscript?”

“Yes, Sacha, yes you do.”

&)@£%$*$7″$£$^””%$

Be smart, don’t do me and balls up your whole manuscript 2 meters from the finish line here is how… Continue reading

13 Steps to Evil – How to Craft Superbad Villains – Cover Reveal

Today is a big day, for a lot of reasons… I’m still breathing for one, that’s always an achievement. But the real reason is because today is the day I reveal the cover of 13 Steps to Evil – How to Craft Superbad Villains.

I know cover reveals are a big and exciting moment for anyone, but frankly, I am a little terrified!

The first reason it’s daunting is because this is my first book…Okay, technically, it’s my second, but it’s the first one being published. Which means this is the first time I’ve done a cover reveal.

The second reason is because until now, I’ve been able to back out. I might have said I was writing a book, but there was no proof! Other than me being supremely antisocial and hiding away behind a laptop screen for months, who was to say I was doing anything? Maybe I was scouring the internet for the best small arms deals, or for Darth Vader lego sculptures made by the hands of the real Santa.

Book? What book? Phsst.

There was no evidence of book related projects, until now…..  Continue reading

6 Writing Tools You Can’t Live Without in 2017

Last year saw me complete and edit no less than two manuscripts. That’s good, but it’s not enough to get me writing full-time. So this year, I’m even more ambitious. In 2017, I want to publish not one, but five books. Yes, I know, my sphincter tightened saying it too.

Given I am a mum to a toddler and I work full-time, it’s ambitious, utterly mindfudgingly insane. But YOLO bitches, if I don’t start publishing a lot of books soon I’ll spend another year watching my glorious dream disappear in a vat of sludgey self-loathing and word-turds. I’d rather cut out my left ovary and eat it than go another year without publishing (and that is saying something I have been a vegetarian for 28 years).

BUT, publishing five books in one year is not going to be easy. Over the past six months, I’ve been building up a set of resources to help me be super efficient. Besides, everyone knows I love to share my process, and what better way, than being totally transparent with all the tools I use.

So here is my list of 6 recommended tools to help you be as productive and efficient as you can in 2017. Continue reading

4 Things That Develop As You Write More Books

I finished my second book (kinda). Yay, go me. By kinda, I mean it’s all but on it’s way to beta readers, which means it’s had a big edit and a proof from me and Mr Grammarly, the cover is done (cover reveal coming soon) and the blurb is looming like a nasty plague eyeing my self-doubt hungrily in the corner.

I thought, given it’s my second book, and it feels like a milestone, I’d do some reflection. I’ve done a couple of these posts, one when I finished my first book (9 Secrets Successfully Completing That First Draft), and another after all the editing and completing the second draft (13 Things I learnt From Completing Draft Two)

This post is entirely selfish and just my observations about the development of my writing process, maybe you’ll find it useful, or maybe you can have a good chuckle at my incompetence.

The book I finished is 13 Steps to Evil, my non-fiction writing craft book that will teach you how to craft Superbad villains. Continue reading

Authors – Find Your Book’s Inner Truth & Hook Readers For Life

Once in awhile, you read a book that changes everything.

For me, it’s usually the ones that make me grip the kitchen counter because I need a minute to get a grip of the quivering and bug-eyed daze I’m in. In those seconds, I have a literary, emotional or philosophical ‘O’. A synchronizing of minds with my Muse, its heart beat, pumping in time with mine, pouring inspiration, epiphanies, and unadulterated universal clarity into my consciousness.

Sometimes I just smile, because the epiphany I had, is a small emotional win. Like the fact that when you can’t heal from something in your past, it’s because you haven’t let it go. If you want a scab to heal, you have to stop picking it.

Other times, the revelation is much more significant. I physically pause for thought because the story has just reiterated how inconsequentially small my life is in relation to the infinite enormity of the universe.

I like to think of these moments of pause as reaffirming moments of philosophy and truth. When it happens, that book stays with me forever. That author has single-handedly changed a part of me. Forget meditative yoga retreats and six-week long vows of silence. All you need is a bloody good book, with a bloody good book truth buried inside it and that’s enough to open someone’s mind, shove a whisk in it and jingle jangle their brain cells into a new alignment.

I want my books to have a book truth because I want to give somebody else that moment of clarity and change the way they view the world. If everybody could change just one person, maybe the world would be a better place. What I do know is, whenever an author has done that to me, I’ve read everything they’ve ever written. Isn’t that every author’s dream? So here’s a few lessons I’ve learned about book truths.

Continue reading

2016 Books of The Year

2015 saw me read a disgraceful three books. There was no way in literary heaven I was going to read just three books in 2016.

So this year I decided to set myself a challenge. The Goodreads challenge. I have a small child more commonly known as the Terror Tot, so I knew reading time would be limited. I figured reading one book a month would be better than just three over the year. So that’s what I set my challenge as.

12 books, 12 months.

But I’m pleased to say I smashed that goal into teeny tiny words like smithereens. I read 32 books.

So here’s my summary of the best books of 2016, including recommendations, my challenge for 2017 and the number of books are set myself to read next year. Continue reading

New Website Launch – Sacha Black Books – Coming Soon #MondayBlogs

img_0441I’m doing something exciting… At least I think it’s exciting. So much so I’m liable to wee my pants.

I’m launching a new website. A new blog. See, I made a bit of a school boy error when I started this blog, I focused solely on non-fiction, and I swore, a lot.

Now, that’s great, if you read non-fiction or are a writer, or have dark sense of humour like me. But not so good for  if you’re trying to attract fiction readers of a very specific genre.

DEEP SIGH. 

So here is me, warming you up to the fact that come January I’ll also be blogging somewhere else… That doesn’t mean this blog will go. Oh no. This blog-badger is here to stay. I’m just going to make my life supremely difficult and have two sites!  Continue reading

How To Be A Smart Author in 2017 – 3 Simple Tools

smartThere’s enough bull shit and hot air on the web to fill an army of hot air balloons. It’s confusing. It’s irritating and frankly it’s totally overwhelming.

But here’s the thing, if you’re an indie author, then the only thing that matters is what you want, what you think, and what you decide.

It’s almost mind-boggling. There aren’t many decisions that are just ours any more. Sometimes I swear societies need for control has gone insane, it’s like their trying to control every single breath we take.

But not as indies. We stick our fingers up and give the corporate conglomerates a big fuck you. Our writing is the product of our minds and our minds only. It’s yours, and no one else can have it, or tell you what to do with it.

But that also means you’re on my own. Where you take your stories is up to you, as is the marketing, the business, the strategy, and the publication.

I’ve said this before, but next year is big for me. I’ll be publishing my first and second, and hopefully third and fourth books. It’s been an excruciatingly slow road to get there and I don’t want to fuck it up now I’m this close. I don’t want to go into to next year disorganised, unplanned and not knowing what I’m doing.

So cut through the crap, and make 2017 you stop listening to everyone else and do it your way. If you do anything, then use these three simple tools and make 2017 your year. Continue reading

7 Description Tactics – The Art of Writing – Deconstructing Lauren Oliver

descriptionsI’ve been Indulging in a binge festival of guilty pleasure reading. Tactical reading. That’s what I’ve been doing.

When I finished my novel and handed it over to beta readers. I knew there was still a lot a fucking legion of stuff I needed to work on. Including the need to develop some skills that much to my annoyance STILL weren’t honed properly. Like my powers of description. Give me non-fiction or blog posts and I can whip out my bad word baps, and filth-filled metaphors with the best of them. But put a fuckitbucket in a YA book and you’re going to regret it. So I started bingeing on popular YA books hoping I’d absorb some of their skills.

Right now, I’m reading Delirium by Lauren Oliver. Her description is borderline excessive (in my humblest crumbliest opinion), but I quickly dropped into the rhythm of her sentences and now I kinda think it’s beautiful. So I thought I’d spend this post deconstructing her sentences to see what I could learn about description.

Here’s 7 tactics for creating the perfect story descriptions. Continue reading