Monday, 23 March 2015

5 little ways to find more time to write

I recently spoke at a motivational workshop and a common question was on finding more time to write. We're not all Stephen King or Marian Keyes and have the luxury of being able to write full time. Most of us hold full time or part time jobs and struggle to finish the novel we're working on.

Before we move on you might like to do this little self assessment:  

How much time do I currently spend writing?

How much time would I like to spend writing?

______ hours per week

______ hours per week

How much time do I spend doing non-writing activities?

What are some of these non-writing activities?




______ hours per week


If you want more time to write, you'll need to come up with some strategies, such as these:


“I will write at 8pm for one hour every weeknight.”
Sticking to a writing plan really helps. You form a habit and others see you forming a habit. Plus, the more you write the better and faster you get at it. You might place a limit of one hour or 1,000 words. Turn off social media.

“I won’t go shopping at lunch, I’ll write 500 words instead.”
If you write 500 words for five days you will have 2,500 words. That’s half a short story or quarter of a chapter EACH WEEK. Do that 52 weeks and you will have written 130,000 words. That’s two 60,000 word novels, five 26,000 word novellas, 26 short stories or poems.  Be careful not to edit as you go. Get it written down first, then begin the edits.
"I will get to work 30 minutes earlier or stay later and write 500 words.”
Often, because writing is done at home people think we’re physically there for them. But if you are not in the house, interruptions may be reduced. Also, writing away from home can sometimes provide the focus you need to form that ‘write every day’ habit.

“I’ll take a notebook with me everywhere I go and if I find myself with spare time, I’ll write.”
Doctor waiting rooms, bus trips, getting your hair done, travelling for work, flights and hotels...these are all down time opportunities that can be put to good use but of course, if you need the down time, take it. A key to resilience is looking after the writing machine you'll become.
"I'll skip that TV show I don't really like and write instead."
I enjoy watching certain TV shows (Supernatural being my favourite at the moment), and can't stand others (mainly reality TV). So instead of complaining about there being nothing on TV, I get up and go into my study and write until a show I want to watch comes on.
So these tips are pretty manageable. But if you're still not convinced how important it is to write a goal and stick to it, then here's another way to look at finding time to write:

Think of someone who is studying for a Bachelor of Arts. How do people react when they say they can’t go to dinner because they have an assignment due?
Think of someone who’s on a diet. How do people react when they say no to birthday cake in the office?
The answer is that they usually help push the person studying to reach their goal, and try to pull the dieter away from theirs.
Good luck with your writing. And please let me know if you have any tips to share.

About the author:

Not one to accept being put into a box, D L Richardson writes speculative fiction for anyone who likes a twist in their tale. She now has six books published and is working on an apocalyptic series and a dystopian novel.
You can check out her more about books at her website




Saturday, 7 March 2015

Writing reviews that help readers find books

As an author, I understand the value of reviews. I need them to help readers find out if other readers enjoyed my book. I often read through reviews of other books I'm interested in. Am I swayed by bad reviews or good reviews? Not really. My mind will be made up by the book description, and sometimes, though not always, by the number of reviews.

Readers are consumers. Writers are consumers. As a reader I need to know that I'm going to invest my time wisely. As a writer, I need to know you feel comfortable telling me that you enjoyed it without having to feel the need to write an essay.

So I'm going to dispel a few myths about what writers are looking for in a review.

Myth number one:

A review is a critique.

BUSTED: I don't want a reader to have to agonize over whether the author captured the notion of belonging, or the character arc, or the three act structure was followed. If you have time to write a critical review, then by all means do so. But if this is what is preventing you from giving a review of a book, then one line or one paragraph is perfectly adequate. it's more than adequate. Anything you have to say is so helpful for authors and readers. Your review doesn't have to be an essay.

This is an actual review received via email from a fan for my spy adventure novel Feedback:

....i thought feedback was so good such an interesting concept and i have to say something i have actually thought about fantastic read fantastic !!!!


Myth number two:

3 or 4 stars is a good rating.

CONFIRMED: If you check the Goodreads ranking scale, 3 stars means you liked it, 4 stars means you really liked it and 5 stars means it was amazing.

We all want 5 star reviews. But with so many 5 star reviews being handed out they are losing their value. Next we'll need to introduce a 6 or 7 star system so we can rate the books we really do love higher than 5.

I'll give an example. My favourite books are The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins, Robocalypse by Daniel H Wilson, and To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee. these are the books which all books must now be compared to. So why would I give a book I thought was good, or worse just okay, a 5 star rating?

It isn't necessary to pander to an author's ego. In fact, pandering to my ego and telling me everything is great is counter-productive. I received 3.5 stars for The Bird With The Broken Wing from Night Owl Reviews and it's an honest review. I'm over the moon about an honest review, so please feel free to give them, even if the author is your friend.

Myth number three:

A review is your opportunity to take your angst out on the world.

BUSTED: If you hated a book, then you should still make your review professional. If you can't do that then a simple, "I did not like this book and I will not be reading anything else this author writes" will suffice. I have read a few nasty reviews on Amazon, (none or any of my books, thankfully) and I only end up thinking that whoever wrote that review is a tool. Be professional.

Some examples of well-written 1 star reviews:

Could not get into this book.
Very slow and repetitive.

Example of reviews not to write:

I didn't even read it wanted to try another book so skipped to the end of the book thank you

I'm staggered to understand why someone would even leave a review for a book they didn't read. Didn't finish, perhaps, but didn't read???

These are just a few myths busted. If I think of anymore I shall be sure to let you know. How do you go at writing reviews? do you give them verbally to your friends, or do you write them on Goodreads and Amazon and other online sites.

About the author:

Not one to accept being put into a box, D L Richardson writes speculative fiction for anyone who likes a twist in their tale. She now has six books published and is working on an apocalyptic series and a dystopian novel.
You can check out her more about books at her website

Monday, 23 February 2015

Writer workshop Canberra Australia, Sunday March 15, 2015

Get Motivated to Write with a Little INK-couragement with Debbie Richardson

11:30am–1:30pm Sunday 15 March

To succeed takes patience, persistence, and passion. But how do we stay patient, persistent, and passionate throughout our long and often lonely writing journey?

Today's author needs to be mentally prepared to battle through the multitude of writers that are appearing daily on the scene. I'll share with you helpful lessons I've learned throughout my writing career, plus you'll take home tips that will keep you fuelled to keep writing, keep writing, and keep writing.

This seminar will cover:
  • How to find more time to write by saying no (and not feel guilty about saying no)
  • How to turn rejection from a red light into a green light
  • How to find your inner determination to keep writing
  • How publishers and editors are thinking, and why you should think that way, too
  • How to apply everyday situations to improve your mental stamina
Debbie Richardson writes speculative fiction as D L Richardson. She began writing in 1996 at a time when Stephen King, Dean Koontz, and Anne Rice were her influences. Many of her earlier works remain unpublished but she never gave up doing what she loved. Her first short story was published in 2005, and she has had four more short stories published, four novels, one short story anthology, and a novella. She is currently working on a four book series.

Cost: $25 members, $40 non-members
Venue: ACT Writers Centre workshop room
Bookings: You can book by phone on 6262 9191, online or at the office. Payment is required at time of booking.

Thursday, 19 February 2015

50 Shades vs Sex and the City

One of my favourite TV shows is Sex and the City. I have all the DVDs, the TV shows, the movies, I adore this show. I even have an etched SATC cosmopolitan glass with from when I worked at Paramount Pictures and it was used as marketing material.

So, considering how much I love Sex and the City, you'd think that I'd like 50 Shades of Grey. But I don't. The difference between the two is vast.

I cared about what happened to Charlotte, Carrie, Samantha, and Miranda. Sometimes they were selfish. Sometimes they were reckless. Sometimes I couldn't understand how it could be so difficult to find Mr Right. The thing is, I cared about what happened to them. I laughed with them. I cried with them. I wanted them to find the love of their life. I hated it when they fought and didn't talk to one another. And I freely admit I loved Big.

I didn't finish reading 50 Shades of Grey. And it had nothing to do with the writing. I just couldn't connect with either character and I didn't care what happened to them. They could have slipped off a cliff and I would have said, "Meh. Fish will get a feed tonight."

Both stories are uber-successful. Both writers are uber-successful. (Sex and the City is based in part on a book of the same name by Candice Bushnell). Both writers have the type of success all writers dream of.

When 50 Shades first came out, my husband asked why I didn't write something like that.

I don't begrudge E L James her success. Often, these mass widespread successes are driven by the market, not the publisher or marketing campaigns. In my opinion, this book came at a time when adults were fleeing the YA market (Twilight saga by Stephenie Meyer) and these women wanted something to distance themselves from teenagers. What is more distant to a coming of age vampire novel than bondage. 

The market i.e the readers made 50 Shades the success it is. There's no point yelling at E L James. She wrote a book. It went supernova. Every writer on the planet wants their book to go supernova. But this does open up the question of whether a writer would write something they don't particularly care for if it sold books and made them money.

I don't even bother contemplating writing a book like 50 Shades. It's not what I write. It's not why I write. I much prefer the interaction between the SATC girls and their men than I do the interaction between Ana and Christian.

So would I be E L James for the money? Much to my husband's disappointment, the answer is no. Much like in love where there is a line that can be crossed where we settle for less than we want, I can't trade money for my conscience. Pity. I'd like a new house, new clothes, to give up work, new furniture...

Friday, 13 February 2015

At what point should you give up writing?

I started writing in 1996. I didn't know what I was doing and I've come a long way, yet I still consider everything up until now to be training. I now have six books published and I should be saying, yah for me, dream come true, that hard work has paid off, good on me for following my dreams. But instead, I stand at the crossroads wondering if I will ever find success.

I don't sell a lot of books. I advertise. Nothing. I promote. Nothing. I do blog tours. Nothing. The best success I've had selling books is in person at work or at the local markets. But this method of selling makes for a very long, hard slog if I am to sell twenty-five million copies. I'd need to be Katy Perry just to have one tenth of that number in the one room. And it would take a billion hours to personally talk to every single person.

So, should I give up? Should I give myself a deadline? Should I say, okay I'll finish the series I'm currently writing and then say, if I haven't sold a million copies, then I give up?

We've all heard the phrase never give up on your dreams. We've also heard how hard work pays off. We've read the success stories. Here's a great article on 9 famous people who will inspire you to never give up

Stephen King was so poor he didn't have a telephone and he received 60 rejections before selling his short story for $35. J. K. Rowling was a single mother on government aid and had to manually type up her manuscripts to send to publishers.

Yet, many successful people are still the exceptions. There are thousands more writers who continue to submit manuscripts, continue to publish, and continue to face a hard slog selling their books. So is it better to fail, than to quit?

Michael Jordon once said, "I have missed 9,000 shots in my career. I have lost almost 300 games. On 26 occasions I have been entrusted to take the game winning shot, and I missed. I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed."

I saw the movie Wild the other week. It stars Reese Witherspoon and is based on the book by Cheryl Strayed and is a story of a woman who needed to get her head together so she walked a thousand miles in 94 days. She considered giving up a lot of times. Who wouldn't? At all points in this sort of journey there is a way out. And at some point there is also the road of no return - you've come so far you might as well keep going.

I think there's a huge difference between considering giving up and actually giving up. We should be asking ourselves if what we're doing is worth it? And if we walk away and say "yes it is", then we know not to give up.

Christopher Reeve, whom I loved as Superman, became a quadriplegic. He took a moment every day to  acknowledge his situation. "In the morning, I need twenty minutes to cry," he said. "To wake up and make that shift, you know, and just to say, 'This really sucks' to really allow yourself the feeling of loss." And then he would  say, "And now forward," and move on with his day. He didn't allow his situation to stop him. He took what he had and tried his best to help others. He never gave up. But then, super heroes don't.

Australian crime thriller author, Michael Robotham made a really great point when I saw him speak at the Sydney writers Festival last year. On writing and giving up he said, "If they banned writing and you hid in a basement to write while people overhead stomped around in the search of writers, then you should keep writing."

And so shall I. I don't begrudge people questioning my commitment. Do it! Bring it on! I dare you to motivate me. By questioning me, you help me to pause and reflect and realise that what I'm doing is worth it TO ME. I have a dream. I have a vision. I have a goal. And I will fail a thousand times rather than give up.

And so I will leave you with this piece of advice. Whatever dream you have, do it as if you are the only person who has the zombie cure and you won't rest until you have saved humanity or died trying.


About the author:

Not one to accept being put into a box, D L Richardson writes speculative fiction for anyone who likes a twist in their tale. She now has six books published and is working on an apocalyptic series and a dystopian novel.
You can check out her more about books at her website

Monday, 2 February 2015

Why writers should meet their readers in person

Writers like to live in their towers and conjure up stories of ogres and maidens, robots and renegades, damsels and scoundrels, killers and victims. The perfect image in my mind of a writer's haven in a quiet villa in the south of France or Tuscany or Greece or Spain. Isolation is key. But isolation can lead us down a dangerous path toward boring writing. We are writing about people's lives, people's adventures, and yet we're content to stay hidden in our tower. What are we afraid of?
writer's tower

Recently I decided to set up a stall at the local markets to sell some author stock and to get me out of my comfort zone or getting "out there" as I refer to it. Here's what happened:

I set up the stall and put up signs that read:

(I shared a stall with another writer to reduce costs)

My books covered most of the table and Mirren's book was to the side of mine. One customer stood in front of my pile of The Bird with The Broken Wing and asked who the author was. I jumped up and said me. She shook my hand! (I was pleasantly surprised). She asked if I'd sign a book if she bought one and I said of course I would. I sign every book I personally sell (haven't met a person yet who bought a book from me without getting an autograph) and so she bought a copy. Then she took a photo of me and said she'd put it on Facebook. Wow, by now I'm feeling like I'm a famous author.

famous author Stephenie Meyer

Maybe a buyer shopping on line might have a similar reaction when buying my books (I can dream) but I'd never get to see their happy face. 

Another customer admired the books but said he owned a Kindle now., so I handed him a bookmark with my website address as all my books are on ebook. Maybe he'll buy a book. Maybe not. But I've connected with him and that is an important part of selling books.

The most fascinating part of the day was when a teenage girl stopped at the stall and asked me if I remembered her. Yes, I did.

We met two years ago and she told me about a green parrot she had called Elf. I told her I loved that name and one day I'd put him in a book. So  while she was standing at the stall I picked up Little Red Gem and told her Elf was a character. You should have seen the way her entire body lit up.
depiction of whole body lighting up
She ran to her parents to get some more money to buy the book. So there are effectively two points to this particular part of the story. The first being that if I hadn't taken the time to speak to her in the first place I would have created a character, perhaps a dog, and every book has dogs, not many have pet parrots. And the second point is that if I had not have gone to the markets  that day I would not have run into her to tell her about Elf being immortalised in fiction. It's safe to say that Little Red Gem is now going to be her favourite book of all time. It's what I'd do.

And after that came another customer who admired the books and then left. She returned ten minutes later saying "I have to support local writers". My sign SUPPORT LOCAL WITERS had worked on a subconscious level and was the deciding factor for her purchase. If I had not been there she would have gone home or bought from another stall. Yet, by meeting the reader face to face, I made the connection and thus the sale.

So if you write about people's lives and adventures, then you should think about getting "out there" , get out of the tower and into the real world to meet these people whose lives and adventures you are writing about. Real people add real details to a story that we might overlook or consider of no significance (I still love that I have a parrot called Elf as a character). And getting "out there" has bolstered my confidence levels so that I can chase up workshops, manuscript submissions, book stores for book signings, all the other types of promotion that are can be done from a writer's tower but not as effectively.

About the author:

Not one to accept being put into a box, D L Richardson writes speculative fiction for anyone who likes a twist in their tale. She now has six books published and is working on an apocalyptic series and a dystopian novel.
You can check out her more about books at her website

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

The lost art of letter writing

Remember when we used to write letters? And I don't mean the cover letter for a job application or the complaint letter to the newspaper. I mean a heartfelt letter to someone we haven't seen for a while or may never see again. Perhaps a love letter, or a breakup letter. A letter to a soldier with news from back home, or from a soldier with news from the front. A letter to a long lost aunt about an orphaned child.

There is a beauty to be found in a personal letter that cannot be found in today's email. I'll show you some examples of what I mean.

Example of a letter from a gentlemen to a lady confessing a change of sentiment:

Your note has opened my eyes to the fully and wrong of the course I have pursued of late. All night I have been pacing my floor, trying to decide what course it was my duty to pursue, and I have decided to answer you as frankly as you desire. I will not attempt to excuse myself, for I deserve your anger, but I will only say that I was myself deceived in my own feelings. When I asked you to marry me, I believed that we were congenial, and that I could make you happy. I was not rich, but had sufficient, as I thought, for comfort, and thinking you would be content with a moderate competency, I invited you to share mine. Closer intimacy has proved my error. Your extravagant wishes are utterly beyond my means, and your bitter and sarcastic remarks upon those of your friends who are not wealthy prove that you covet a life of luxury.

To be honest, growing up I rarely wrote letters. I never had a pen pal because I never went anywhere to find one. I walked to school with my friends and we'd talk along the way. I wrote a few letters though. One to my father whom I didn't see that often and I wanted to update him on what was happening in my life (he didn't have a phone). One  letter I wrote to him never got posted.  It was about getting my first novel published and my new house on the coast. and spoke of how I wished we weren't so estranged. Sadly, I never posted this letter. It held a lot more emotion than the letter I did post, which is perhaps why I never posted it. When it comes to letter writing, I'm very secretive. What if someone read it?

This is the language we use now:

Hey, just checking that you’re free on the weekend for a catch up. I’m thinking either dinner or morning tea. Haven’t seen you for ages and I’ve got good news to share. Hope you can make it. Let me know. Love you and take care. Bye.

There is a vast difference between the tone and language of the two examples. Is it because technology provides us with the notion that 140 characters is all we are allowed to use to express ourselves? Or has our diamond (the verbose  and colourful language we used to partake in) been honed down so much that is resembles a pebble (catchya, LOL, BTW)?

It makes me wonder if we're happier now that the emotion is stripped out of the message. I used to panic that people would read my deepest thoughts and feelings. And judge me. Are we so afraid of people passing our letters around to others and mocking us? Are we so worried that these letters will be used as examples in future posts?

Are we missing out on connecting with our friends by leaving out the heartfelt emotion, whether it is anger or hurt or love? Are we denying our friends the opportunity to sit under a sunny sky and read a letter from afar? There are so many questions and nobody I can write to. in order to express my confusion, not like in the old days where I could have asked a long lost aunt.

We no longer talk. We text. So it's not the writing form of communication that we're revolting against. Perhaps it's the emotion. So what happened to the letter writing? And will it ever make a comeback? Perhaps they have been replaced with novels. I know there is no shortage of people wanting to share a story.

What was the last letter you ever wrote and how did you write it to? I'd love to hear from you. Please leave a comment.

About the author:

Not one to accept being put into a box, D L Richardson writes speculative fiction for anyone who likes a twist in their tale. She now has six books published and is working on an apocalyptic series and a dystopian novel.