Dawn Brookes Publishing

Publishing Topics by author Dawn Brookes

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.


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


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


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


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.


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


Looking for that last minute Christmas Present?

Books always well received at Christmas!

I don’t know about you but I am always happy to receive books at Christmas time. In fact I am happy to receive books at anytime of year! Although my ‘to read’ list is forever growing and I have a stack of books waiting to be read on my bookshelves both physical and digital, I still can’t resist adding more. I have almost worked my way through the physical ones and have enjoyed a new cosy mystery series this year.

Classic books as well?

There are a large number of classics that I still have to read – I have just about finished all of Charles Dickens’ works and long ago read the complete works of Oscar Wilde. I managed to work my way through War and Peace a few years ago and it was worth the effort. C.S. Lewis is another favourite and the Narnia Chronicles can be read at any age. I have also enjoyed reading John Bunyan’s Pilgrims Progress in spite of the old fashioned language. I have of course read Jane Austen’s collections – who wouldn’t love these. George Eliot is next on my list although I did read Middlemarch some years ago, and I want to finish the works of Elizabeth Gaskell as she is a favourite of mine. The list is endless but it is an enjoyable journey.

New Books?

I tend to read more non-fiction than fiction but do enjoy a good ‘escape’ book too and light chick lit always goes down a treat. Other books on the fiction side – I have to say that I am a fan of Stella Rimington and Dee Henderson and have recently enjoyed Debbie Young’s new series.

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    In the biographies section I am working my way through nursing memoirs other than my own as I enjoyed writing mine so much. It brought back so many memories and these come to life in books by other nurse and medical authors.

    I also bought a couple of tennis biographies this year that I have yet to read so I am looking forward to copying up after Christmas lunch with a good book!

    I have only mentioned a few genres but there are so many more that I could mention, there is something for everyone in books and reading is very good for the brain.

    Investment Books

    If you are thinking about investing for your future there are a number of interesting books to take a look at. I have written a few around property investment and there are other useful books on the subject for those who want to put their money into the property market.

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      There are also other ways to invest. There is the stock market and for those with a strong constitution and speculative money there is the whole new world of cryptocurrencies – the most well-know being Bitcoin.


      I hope this small list helps a little, they are just my ramblings really and later on today I will remember many more books that I have loved or would love to read. If you’re really stuck there are always the old faithfuls like the Guinnes Book of Records and the diet books that we will all be needing come the New Year!

      This will be my last blog post before Christmas so I wish you all a very happy Christmas! If you read this post all the way to the bottom there is a fun happy Christmas video.

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              Amazon Bestsellers

              You can take a look at the Amazon bestsellers in books here.



              Christmas Nativity

              Christmas Nativity

              I found this video recently and as I am about to publish a children’s Christmas Nativity adventure, it seemed rather apt, albeit nothing like my book! I thought it would be fun to share.

              An angel came to see Mary. She was doing the laundry and then the angel appeared and she was really scared. So, Gabriel was like, “Mary, you’re gonna have a baby…I, uh…You’re gonna have a baby and you will call him Jesus. And then Mary like, “I’m not gonna have a baby yet, I’m only a teenager and I’m not married.”

              Then the angel Gabriel told Joseph that, “Mary was not lying.” She..you..are having a baby. And so they met up. They went to Bethlehem, which was in Joseph’s old town. They ride a donkey. “This donkey’s fast.” They tried to go to a hotel and they asked the inn keeper for a place to stay.

              And the keeper said, “We have no rooms…literally, no rooms.” So Mary and Joseph walked away sadly but then he said, “The only place here in Bethlehem that you can stay is a stable” and then he just pointed the way and they followed.

              While the shepherds were taking care of the sheep, they saw an angel. The angel said, “A new baby is getting born…who is king of the Jews!” The angels were singing, “Glo…oh…ohoo…ooo oooo…oooo…ooooo…rius.” And then the shepherds said, “I think we should go and meet ’em.” Second, I think said, “I agree with you.” And the other said [Sigh], “Yeah, me too.” They had to walk through a bunch of grass and bushes. Maybe had to camp out a night.

              And then the wise men heard about it… and then a star appeared. “We should probably follow that star. It’s pointing down to that barn.” “So, maybe we should follow it.

              Maybe..” So, the wise men went to Jesus They gave them gifts… A stuffed animal…like a hippo one. I have at home… some nappies, and some wipes, and some milk. Gold, Frankenstein, and myrrh. And I don’t know how I would survive in that barn… too stinky too crowded. Thank you for coming.

              He’s adorable! He’s going to be our best friend. I love you…and…you are the best baby I have ever seen. There, I said it. The new baby is going to change the world….

              I thought it would be a bit of fun to share this video and script with you as it made me smile.

              As found on Youtube

              Ava & Oliver’s Christmas Nativity Adventure


              Ava & Oliver’s Christmas Nativity Adventure will be the second book in the Ava & Oliver adventure series for kids.

              This time the children are preparing for a very special Nativity play with some very unusual castings. They are hoping that all will go well on Christmas Eve when they perform but animals are unpredictable!

              The first book, Ava & Oliver’s Bonfire Night Adventure is available on Amazon in kindle and paperback.

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