Posts Tagged ‘writing tips’

Fantasy Trilogy, The Morrow Secrets, like Tolkien’s Middle Earth: Dark and Supernatural

May 16th, 2015


 Bone Room 1-0015 Stars! A Great Story!

Tallitha Mouldson dreams of escaping her domineering Great Aunt and the confines of the east wing of Winderling Spires, a huge sprawling house in a land called Wycham Elva. She longs to explore the rest of the weird old house and uncover its secrets.

Then circumstances give her the chance, not only explore the house, but to go on a quest through dark mysterious places that will test her resolve to its limits.

I loved reading this story, loved Winderling Spires and its cast of dark characters.I also enjoyed the journey to the even darker Hellstone Tors. The plot is good, the characters are great. The world that Susan McNally has created is comparable to Tolkien’s Middle Earth in its depth and imagination. In fact this could well be Susan McNally’s ‘Hobbit’ that I can see leading on to much larger works. Five stars for this book. You will not want to put this book down and you will not want it to end.

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More 5* for Fantasy Trilogy, The Morrow Secrets

January 5th, 2015

5* for The Shadow of the Swarm, book 2 in The Morrow Secrets Trilogy

The Shadow of the Swarm CoverWith more twists and turns than the River Ganges, 4 Jan 2015

I read this with a degree of cynicism. Could Susan McNally really do it again? My scepticism was misplaced because YES, absolutely, this work represents a seamless transition from the first fantastic installment in this riveting tale !!!!


Aside from Susan’s wonderful imagination and the strange lands and characters she has somehow made accessible to the reader, she has also (in Tallitha) created a protagonist adept in viewing the malignancy of the ‘swarm’ with childlike innocence.

Tallitha personifies all that we strove to be as children; driven, caring, resolute and with lodestars to ensure that justice prevails. It is her capacity to take the reader back to their own childhood and idealistic principles which is in my opinion Susan’s greatest success.

Roll on the concluding chapter of this fantastic trilogy!


Caedryl, Lapis & Muprid5.0 out of 5 stars

The Shadow of the Swarm – Brilliant!

The Shadow of the Swarm begins just where The Morrow Secrets ends and Tallitha learns what her fate will be. There are more character introductions in this book, some nice some not so nice but all play an important part in the story. We discover many more Morrow Secrets and throughout this book things start slotting into place. I think Tallitha is a very brave girl and she is an amazing character.


Susan McNally has penned a fantastic read, I enjoyed it even more than the first book in the series.


There are still loose ends to tie up and I really want to know what happens next. I am looking forward to returning to this series when book three is released.

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You Tube Video & Radio Broadcast about Writing “The Morrow Secrets”

August 23rd, 2012


You Tube Video & Radio Broadcast about Writing “The Morrow Secrets”

The Old Dark House of Secrets at Winderling Spires


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Posted in Being An Author, Best Children's Fiction, books for 9-14 year olds, Creative Writing Process, Fantasy Trilogy, Gothic Fiction, How to Write a Children's Novel | Comments (0)

Create a Great Children’s Novel with Gothic Illustrations

August 8th, 2012
The rambling house of Winderling Spires
The Black Hound from Ragging Brows Forest
Marlin on the dark stairs

These are some of the illustrations from The Morrow Secrets

Marlin, the shrove on the dark stairs in Winderling Spires
The terrifying Black Hound, from the pack in Ragging Brows Forest
The cover of The Morrow Secrets depicting the spooky, rambling old house of Winderling Spires
I found, that when writing the story, I wanted illustrations to depict some of the main characters. These drawings capture the essence of the characters.
The wicked shrove and perhaps one of the most frightening scenes with the black hounds in the forest….

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Posted in Best Children's Fiction, Gothic Fiction, Gothic Influences, Self Publishing, Supernatural, The Morrow Secrets | Comments (0)

How to Create Great Characters in Your Book

August 7th, 2012

I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again. You have to write the book you want to read otherwise it won’t be fun and will feel like very hard work. So choose the subject you’re really interested in, that grabs you each morning and makes you want to get at that computer and begin typing. For me it was writing an exciting children’s fantasy adventure story, with strong female characters and a wealth of strange creatures. I had to create my own mythical world where some very odd things happen. A beguiling mystery with secrets to be unearthed. It’s only when you find your genre, the one you want to inhabit and have to inhabit that your characters come alive.

The Morrow Sisters, Edwina & Sybilla experimenting with their perfumes.
The Weird Morrow Sisters, Edwina & Sybilla

These characters begin to inhabit your mind… You can imagine them and their reactions in many different circumstances and how they will react. I know what Marlin, the sly old shrove will do in any situation and I know how Ruker the brave Skink will react.

I believe once you really know these characters, the dialogue flows easily between them. That’s not to say that you don’t need to re-read your scenes time after time, because you do. I can always improve a passage by re-reading it, often speaking aloud and listening to how the dialogue sounds. Is it natural? Is it too verbose? If it is then cut it.
Character continuity is very important. If Neeps (one of the Skinks) has blond hair when he is first introduced into the story… he can’t have brown hair later on ( unless he’s dyed it!) Keep cards with all your characters idiosyncracies, then you don’t have to keep going back to find them in your book. The colour of their eyes, the way they walk and their mannerisms are all recorded on your index cards. ( XYBS5SCSVMWU)

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Ten Rules for Writing Fiction!

August 1st, 2012

I had a gap between finishing The Morrow Secrets and starting the second book in my trilogy… about a week! Then I got caught up in my website, how to do a blog, self -publishing and all the other things you have to do by yourself to be an indie-writer! I didn’t know there was so much stuff to do apart from write my books. Now of course I know differently and try to divide my time between actually writing book two in the series and publicising book one… and that’s hard.

So now book two is underway, which tips would I like to remind myself of? Here are some of my favourite ones.

* Sometimes you have to kill off your favourite children… that means at times you may have to write a character out of the story because he/she doesn’t work anymore.

* Don’t give up writing, even when you’ve had a bad day just keep going and it will come right… write more, not less!

* Read books all the time in your genre and outside of it. Observe what writers do – how they write dialogue; build tension and create great characters that leap off the page

* Good dialogue flows from knowing your characters inside out, how they will react in any situation. You don’t really know them until they begin to inhabit your head space !

* Continuity is key. You don’t have to remember every one of your character’s idiosyncracies … keep note cards on each character, different themes, any activity that is repeated ( for me it was Tallitha’s trances) and key events that you refer to in the plot.

* This is a good one. Take no notice of the criticism people you don’t respect. But take notice of the criticism from people you do respect. Have a thick skin, you’ll need it.

* Defend your work. You know best how it was meant to be. It’s your story, your characters, just love them! That’s why self publishing is so good – no one can tell you to change a character’s name.

* Most importantly – write the book you want to read. If you don’t love the story, no one else will.

* Writing is never a quick win. It takes a lot of time and patience. If patience doesn’t come easily …try and acquire some.

* Characters will grow and evolve as you write the book.. be prepared to change them!

Most of all, enjoy yourself! When the writing really flows being an author is the best ever.. it transports you to a magical world all of your own creation. Treasure it…


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Posted in Being An Author, books for 9-14 year olds, Fantasy Trilogy, How to Write a Children's Novel, Magical Adventure, Self Publishing Tips, Writing | Comments (0)

Gothic Cemeteries and Gothic Book Research

July 31st, 2012

Last week I went to the Western section of Highgate Cemetary in leafy North London  to do research for the next book in The Morrow Secrets series. Oh what a fantastic gothic haven! The cemetary is packed with ideas – the amazing Egyptian Avenue filled with family vaults leading to the a circle of gothic catacombs.

The Egyptian Avenue


Many famous people are buried there: three women authors, George Eliot ( “Middlemarch”) d.1880; Radclyffe-Hall d.1943 who wrote “The Well of Loneliness” and Stella Webb d. 1989 better known as Stella Gibbons who wrote “Cold Comfort Farm” –

On the tour we heard about supernatural writers and films. Dracula has been filmed there and A Picture of Dorian Gray with Colin Firth.

As a writer I always take a camera and something to jot down ideas. In the late Victorian era families would often visit their dearly departed and take tea with them in the vaults!

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Posted in Being An Author, Gothic Influences, How to Write a Children's Novel, Magical Adventure, New Children's Adventure Story, Research, The Morrow Secrets | Comments (0)

Writing Tips!

July 23rd, 2012

Sitting here on a sunny day trying to work out how to manage my time to write the second book in “The Morrow Secrets” series and do all the marketing stuff  which is endless!

I guess if I had a regular publisher they would do it for me. Or would they? Anyway I’m not going down that road. So to be a writer I must carve out time to write Book 2. So far have written about 10,000 words and have some good plot lines throbbing away.

I always carry a notebook with me. Today as I was waiting for someone a great idea came to me about Book 2. Keeping the continuity going is a jig-saw of ideas. I have to remember that I “see” everything as the author but other characters don’t and be able to use that device properly. For Book 2 that just occurred to me!

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How to Write a Novel: Magical Gothic Adventure Story

June 19th, 2012

The Old House of Secrets at Winderling Spires

I wish someone had told me some of these writing tips before I started to write my trilogy. Here are some of the lessons I’ve learned along the way and maybe they can help you in your writing adventure!

* If you think you have a book inside you, just begin, it doesn’t matter if you change it later, at least you’ve started.

* There are no rules about when to write…. only the ones that suit you.

* Write the book you want to write, anything else is too much like hard work – Writing must be fun!

* There are many books on how to write fiction but two that helped me are :

Sol Stein “Stein on Writing”    Strategies/dp/0312254210/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1345134804&sr=8-1

Celia Brayfield “Bestseller: Secrets of Successful Writing”

* Always stop when you have more ideas in the “creative pot”, then coming back to the work will be easier.

* Keep reading lots and lots of books! Look at how writers write their books, their use of dialogue and plotting. Watching movies is an excellent way to learn your craft. Screen writers have to get an idea over very quickly, they may only have 90 minutes to tell the whole story so observe their techniques – their spare use of words, how the actors communicate with one another, how tension is built. This “intense watching” of a movie will make you more critical and you will begin to see when a plot line works and when it doesn’t. It’s the same with writing, once you lose the reader they’re gone, they’ve stopped believing in your make-believe. So keep it real, reduce the number of words you use and imagine yourself as the reader… would you be hooked on this character or this scene? If not change it or cut it.

* Don’t give up, even when you’ve had a bad day, remember how good you feel when the writing just flows from your brain… you and only you have created that!

* Never be satisfied with the first draft!

* If something jars with you then it will jar with your readers. Listen to your gut instincts and cut it out!

* When you get an idea, sit with it and let it brew inside you like a delicious potion, until it is time to experiment and write it down.


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