Dawn Brookes Publishing

Publishing Topics by author Dawn Brookes

Category: Book publishing

Writing a Great Book Outline

Writing a Great Book Outline and Writing to Target

I have recently finished my very first debut novel so don’t consider myself an expert on this but I was greatly helped by using a system for writing the book. This system kept me to time and was just what I needed. The system I used I have adapted from one I learned from a course on Udemy called Reverse Engineer Riveting Fiction

The first thing I need to say is that I did veer off but not hugely and you will see what I mean when I explain it.

Storyline

Obviously before you can develop a plan there needs to be a story in your head. My story evolved but I had the basics of the plot before I started writing.

I had a main character (initially it was 2), sub-characters important to the plot, a scene (set on a cruise ship), a theme – murder mystery (initially thriller but turned out to be cosy as I don’t do graphic), a beginning, a middle and an end (I had two in mind).

Word Count

The next thing was to decide on a rough word count. There is some debate over words needed but in general they are as follows:

Word Counts are not written in stone

Depending on what you read there are different opinions on how long a book should be so I have gathered a few together but they are just guides. Publishers will have minimum and maximum word counts for different books and generally frown on shorter novels and those that are too long.

  • Novel 40,000 words or over (generally 60,000 for mystery, 90,000+ for non-series novel). Some authors and publishers recommend 50,000+ with a maximum of 120,000 but Harry Potter and the order of the Phoenix is over 250,000 words!
  • Young Adult 40,000 to 80,000 words
  • Biography & general non-fiction 50,000 to 120,000 words
  • Memoir & self-help 40,000 to 90,000 words
  • Novella 17,500 to 39,999
  • Novellette 7,500 to 17,499
  • Chapter books for children start at 16,000
  • Short story under 7,500
  • Flash fiction 500 to 1,000 words
  • Children’s picture books 400 to 800 words (some of mine are 1,200)

Splitting the Story

Splitting the word count to write the book

In my case I opted for 56,000 words (it has ended up being nearer the 60,000). As this was my first novel and I wanted to keep to time, I decided to aim for the same number of words per chapter using a table system.

The book had to have a beginning, a middle and an end and I wanted tension to build until the climax so this had to be factored in.

The grid or table includes the number of chapters split into one quarter for the beginning, one half for the middle and one quarter for the end. These quarters are then divided into 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and so on, depending on how long the book will be and how many chapters you want to include.

So for example for a 60,000 word book using a 6 grid system 6 x 4 or 24 chapters.

60,000/24 = 2,500 words per chapter (guide only, can be flexible)

There would need to be 6 chapters in section 1, 12 in section 2 and 6 in section 3

In this example there will need to be at least 24 chapters of 2,500 words each split into sections.

I outlined each of the chapters with points that would be included in each, building on the story and adding tension as the story developed. By the halfway stage the tension was building and by three quarters it was higher with no resolution in sight. The final quarter then built on that tension but arrived at resolution.

Writing in this way kept me to time 

I used 56,000 with the 5 grid system 5 x 4 or 20 chapters 

56,000/20 = 2,800 words per chapter.

Writing the outline for each of those chapters helped me meet the target of writing the 2,800 per day. I didn’t stick to 20 chapters and have ended up with over 30 but that didn’t matter. The system helped me write the required number of words per day because I knew what I wanted to include in each of those grids.

Writing at a slower pace or writing more words

If you want to write at a slower pace you can write half the amount per day e.g. 1,400

If you want to write a much higher word count you will want to choose a higher number of grids resulting in more chapters. For example:

9 grid system 9 x 4 = 36

100,000/36 = 2,778 (give or take) words per day or half if you want to write slower

Conclusion

This is a system that has helped me and I hope that it helps you. If you want to learn more about this system check out Reverse Engineer Riveting Fiction by Geoff Shaw where he explains it much better and outlines plot building within the system.

Cosy Mysteries

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Literature Festivals

Literature Festivals

For years people have been saying that we are living in a post-literate society and many people claim that Donald Trump is the first post-literate president. The argument is supported by the amount of television people are reported to watch. A recent article in the Mail Online suggests that the average Brit watches 24 hours television per week which equates to ten years of adult life in front of the box!

Reading Declines during Secondary School

The BBC reported that a recent survey by the National Literacy Trust found that after leaving primary school, enjoyment of reading declines- particularly among boys but also among girls.

Having said that, they also found in a survey conducted in 2016 that reading for pleasure was gradually increasing among 8-16 year olds. Girls read a bit more than boys but, for the first time, reading does not appear to be influenced by social background according the report. White children are less likely to enjoy reading than black or mixed ethnic backgrounds and Asian children are the most likely group to enjoy reading.

Why Literature Festivals

When Derby introduced a literature festival a few years ago, I was excited and it has proved to be a very popular yearly event engaging people from all over Derbyshire and further afield. Literature festivals raise the profile of books and reading and the popularity of the Derby festival can only be seen as positive in that respect.

My only reservation is that it tends to be aimed at main-stream publishing and can work out to be quite expensive. Having said that, I am delighted that it is thriving as it raises the profile of books as well as being good for Derby. The festival is held in June each year and attracts a host of famous authors. Tickets tend to be over £12 each making it difficult for an average family to visit more than one event.

Indie authors, to date, have not been invited to participate in any way. Indie authors who are self-published now form a large part of the marketplace, particularly in relation to ebook sales and have become much more professional in approach over the past ten years thanks to organisations such as the Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi). Initially there may have been some authors who did not pay due diligence to their text and editing but anyone trying to publish sub-standard books learns a harsh lesson very quickly. Mainstream publishing still turns it’s nose up at Indies’ but readers less so. If I want to read a good book, I don’t look to see if the publisher is mainstream. I read the description on the back or online if I am purchasing an ebook. If the book turns out to be poor quality inside (be it mainstream or indie) I will not read a book by that author again! So indie or non-indie, I want a good book that is well formatted and not littered with mistakes as do the majority so personally, I don’t care whether a book is traditionally published or self published.

Oakwood Literature Festival

At the turn of the year I began thinking about hosting a literature festival in my local area to engage local people with authors and reading. I asked about this on the ALLi forum and discovered that many of my fellow Indies were doing just that. Although the majority were charging and therefore paying authors to attend which is perfectly reasonable, I wanted to provide an event free of charge. One of the leading lights of ALLi, Debbie Young does just this at the Hawkesbury Upton Literature Festival which has been running for five years and has grown exponentially. I have decided to follow this model and the first Oakwood Literature Festival will be held on Saturday 12th May 2018 in the Community Centre in Oakwood!

I am delighted that, although this is on a very small scale for the first event (as the money is initially coming out of my pocket!) I have managed to engage some excellent authors who are all willing to give their time for free!

Activities on the day

As well as four talks by panels of authors and author readings in the main hall, there will be a bookshop cafe, a prize raffle and tombola. The cafe will be a Narnia themed cafe as I feel I am stepping through a wardrobe into an unknown land!

Authors Attending

The authors attending come from a variety of backgrounds and write in various genres including historical fiction, women’s fiction, thrillers, fantasy fiction, non-fiction and children’s fiction so there is something for everyone.

You will be able to find out more about each author attending on the main website but for the first year we have:

Debbie Young who will be launching the first festival and chairing a couple of panels. Debbie writes cosy mysteries, short stories and non-fiction

Myself, Dawn Brookes and I write nurse memoirs, children’s books and will shortly be launching my own murder mystery novel

AA Abbott who writes suspense thrillers and dyslexia friendly books

Celia Boyd who was born in Derby and writes historical fiction

David Ebsworth who writes historical fiction

Kate Frost who writes women’s fiction and YA fiction

Paul Gaskill who is a Derby author and writes YA fantasy fiction

John Lynch who writes historical fiction and is a ghostwriter

David Robertson who writes children’s books

Conclusion

All being well, the Oakwood Literature Festival will become an annual event and will grow. My vision is that it will be able to support itself through sponsorship and the cafe and I would love it to become a yearly, family friendly event held annually in Oakwood across all of the main venues that we have within a half mile radius of each other. For this year though, space is limited but we hope to put on a great day free at the point of entry like the NHS that I loved and worked for for over thirty-nine years!

Image at top of page courtesy of Pixabay under Creative Commons License

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Happy New Year!

Starting a New Year 2018

It is always exciting to start a New Year and reflect on the one that has passed. Last year was my first full year as an author and I enjoyed every minute of it. The learning curve has been huge and I still have so much to learn, particularly around book marketing which is really not my favourite activity!

2017 was very exciting and I can’t believe that I published eight books including a second in my series of memoirs around my nurse training. Hurry up Nurse 2 is proving popular.

Bestsellers

My first memoir ‘Hurry up Nurse: memoirs of nurse training in the 1970s‘ is my bestselling book and it reached ‘Bestseller’ status on Amazon US last year. I am thrilled today to see that it has now received that all important ‘Bestseller’ ribbon on Amazon UK. What a great start to the New Year! I guess people are enjoying some reading time and spending their book and kindle vouchers that they had for Christmas!

My second bestselling book is the second of the Hurry up Nurse series and I am pleased with reviews for both books.

Plans for this year

I am in the process of writing my first novel which is set on a cruise ship. I have been on a number of cruise holidays and thoroughly enjoyed all of them so I wanted to write novels that are set around cruise ships. I haven’t got a title for this one yet as it is still evolving!

I will be publishing a third in the children’s Ava & Oliver series in the spring. This will be Ava & Oliver’s London Adventure.

My third memoir will be around my midwifery days and I hope to publish this in the late spring or early summer! It will be called Hurry up Midwife.

Ambitious plans then for 2018, I would love to hear what yours are.

Reading Challenge

I want to read a lot more this year too. I used to read a lot but when working in the health service it was hard to fit in leisure reading except during the holidays because I had so many text books and professional journals to read in order to keep up-to-date.

Do you like to review?

I am looking for experienced reviewers, book bloggers and journalists who would be happy to receive Advanced Reader Copies (ARCs) of books in each of my series of books. If you are interested in providing genuine and honest reviews and willing to commit yourself to reading an ARC, please contact me via the Contact Form on this website.

I would also love book bloggers and journalists to review any of my published books. Please let me know which book and format you would like to receive via the contact form.

 

 

Hurry up Nurse 2

Early Readers

Ava & Oliver Series

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Writing: Lessons I Learned from Writing My Memoirs – A Case Study

Writing: Lessons I Learned from Writing My Memoirs – A Case Study

Dawn Brookes, British nurse, shares what she’s learned from writing two memoirs
photo of Dawn Brookes

Thinking of writing and self-publishing a memoir? Get off to a flying start by reading this case study by ALLi author member Dawn Brookes, who shares the benefit of her experience gained from her two self-published memoirs containing stories from her early nursing career.

 

Why I Wrote My Nursing Memoirs

I started the first memoir while working full time as a community matron in Derbyshire. Initially I was writing for myself and for future generations who might want to explore family history. I became determined as I remembered the patients from those early days, I wanted their brave stories to be told, and I was remembering the fun and camaraderie of nursing in the 1970s.

Progress was slow going as I had hardly any spare time.

Set Back by Lost Work

In 2014 my computer crashed, and the hard drive was irreparably damaged. I lost the majority of the memoir. At that point, I gave up. Work was too busy and I began to doubt the value of writing it. I had major things going on in my life, as I was about to semi-retire and work part-time. I forgot about the book.

Broken Bones

As published in Alli blog

Hurry Up Nurse – the first instalment

Fate conspired to remind me about the memoir when, following a fall, I broke my foot in three places and ended up in plaster. I was confined to the house and bored out of my brains – when I remembered!

I was able to concentrate on one thing, in one place and I completed the work in seven weeks.

The most challenging part for me was developing patients’ stories without identifying them due to confidentiality.

I had to change things around a bit and mix up details while remaining true to the facts.

Mistakes Made & Lessons Learned

cover of book 2

And the first sequel (More are in the pipeline)

I made a whole load of mistakes in August 2016.

The biggest mistake was not having the manuscript proofread, although I had read it numerous times and   asked a few friends to read it, we were all too wrapped up in the story and missed the numerous grammatical errors.

The next mistake I made was joining the Amazon Advantage programme. I ordered 200 books. The pricing of memoirs is relatively low at £7.99. I had sensibly had the book cover designed by a graphic designer, and the Kindle book formatted and converted by a professional. I published the book on Kindle.

The orders were coming in from Amazon Advantage, but I was posting books to their warehouses all around the UK, wasting time at the post office.

It was costing more money than I was making!

The next major faux pas was when I read the book and noticed an error on the second page. I was learning a harsh lesson. In spite of this, complete strangers were reviewing the book favourably – even on Goodreads it was getting three stars! This encouraged me that the content was at least readable. I found ALLi’s Debbie Young via a blog post, and she kindly agreed to read the book. Debbie was encouraging about the content and gentle with her advice.

I bit the bullet and hired a proofreader which was the best thing I could have done.

Corrections

I was able to correct the mistakes for the Kindle version, but the print book was more difficult. I had sold about 90 books when I decided it was time to cut my losses and do a reprint.

I realised that the Advantage programme was not right, and I moved the book to Createspace after a few emails to Amazon Advantage.

Change, Change, Change

The beauty of spending decades working in the NHS is that constant change requires flexibility which is vital, and I applied those skills to publishing.

The second memoir flowed better because my writing had improved.

Also,

  • I found it easier to mix up events and personalities to protect confidentiality.
  • The whole publishing process was much simpler.
  • I learned how to format books for kindle and epub and for print too, which saved me money.
  • This money was spent on proofing and editing the second memoir.
  • I saved a fortune by using print on demand.

More Memoirs to Follow

With lessons learned and readers requesting more, there is likely to be another memoir or two in the future. I still have around eighty print copies of my first book if anyone wants one – as long as they don’t mention the grammar!

Newspaper cutting

Celebrated as a success story in Derby local paper.

OVER TO YOU If you’ve learned lessons from writing a memoir, do you have top tips to add to Dawn’s list? We’d love to hear them!

As published on Alliance of Independent Authors blog   26/10/2017

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Bible stories for kids

Bible stories for kids

Jesus feeds a big crowd

Are you one of those parents who find it difficult to get your kids interested in the Bible. We live in an age of super-fast technology and media bombardment – it’s difficult to compete with that isn’t it? The Bible can seem like a book from ancient history to young and old alike in this modern world and yet it remains so relevant for those who have eyes to see and ears to hear.

One of the ways to help is to present biblical stories in ways that children find interesting and challenging, rather than quaint and irrelevant. The difficulty is being relevant without watering down the content of what Christians truly believe.

Relevance

One of my favourite children’s book authors was Patricia StJohn who wrote some great books for pre and post teens. I did find though, that there was perhaps a bit too much death and tragedy in some of the books at times.

Of course there the Narnia Chronicles by C.S. Lewis maintain a relevance today because of the theology that comes through these fantasy novels. The films have helped too. My personal favourite which helped me a lot in understanding how God deals with each person differently is ‘The horse and his boy’.

For younger children there are many picture books out there but what I found lacking when I was trying to teach children in Sunday school were books that brought the Bible stories to life in a modern age. I ended up, as I’m sure many parents do, improvising and experimenting with presenting the stories as if I lived at that time so that I could see and understand what was happening through modern eyes. Patricia StJohn also did this in some of her books.

Why I started the Miracles of Jesus series

I started the series for some of the reasons mentioned above but also because that is how I read the Bible myself. I like to immerse myself and find relevance to now because I believe that there is so much relevance to what is happening in the world today. The challenges that parents and children are facing today are all to be found through the pages of both the old and new testaments. We have the same human frailty now that we had then. We argue with God in the same way that many did back then and yet when we need help, we still find that ‘underneath are the everlasting arms’.

It has almost become an embarrassment to say that you are a Christian in the modern world but it was too for the early christians. Remember they were persecuted for their faith, far more than we are today – we might be ridiculed but we are not yet burnt at the stake! We do children a disservice if we make out it is easy to maintain christian values in the twenty-first century because it is not. My belief though is rather to teach about God’s love rather than his judgement because children need to know that love. There are far too many problems in the world caused by a lack of love and charity. At least if we try to love others in the same way that God loves us, our consciences remain clear but we also have the harsh reminder that though Jesus was the most perfect man who ever walked the earth, he was brutally tortured and killed for being so.   He challenged the status quo and was accepted by those in need but not by those who thought they knew better than God. Does this sound familiar?

Let’s therefore teach children about the love of God and help them to face the harsh realities that they may face in the future for standing up for what they believe in. Jesus was non-violent and so were the disciples and I personally believe that violence has no place in the name of religion.

Jesus loves children

It is not a mistake that Jesus encouraged adults to become like little children in their approach to his teaching. Children often understand right and wrong far more readily than adults and have a simplicity of understanding and response. In every encounter with children throughout the New Testament, he came across as gentle and kind. Children sensed the good in him and ran to him, often following him everywhere. He was not rich and so didn’t often give material things but he gave love and healing which so many needed then and continue to need today.

In the first book I wrote I describe the feeding of the five thousand through the eyes of the boy who provided Jesus with the loaves and fishes that he used to feed the hungry crowd. The miracle came because the boy saw in Jesus something that even the disciples couldn’t see.

In my second book I describe the healing of a man who couldn’t walk. When he was healed, Jesus told him his sins were forgiven, and so I tell the story from the man’s perspective and how he ended up in the state he was in through youthful rebellion.

Both stories are fictional but I have tried to remain true to the essence of the biblical accounts. I hope that they will prove helpful to Sunday school teachers, schools and parents but most of all to any children that may end up reading them.

I am writing this post because I have just re-released the first book in the series, having had it re-illustrated. It is currently with ACX and will soon be available as an audiobook. Here is a sample lasting just over a minute as it stands at present.

I have just made it into an MP4 picture video which I hope to release via my website very soon.

The first version of the first book is still available which is illustrated in more of a modern comic-book way if that is your preference.

Comments & reviews welcome!

Image of child at top of page used under Creative Commons license thanks to Pixabay

 

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