Writing is meant to be fun

I have recently been reading Julia Cameron’s book ‘The Right to Write’. It is an excellent book and there is a lot to take from it. If you have never read it I strongly urge you to invest in a copy.


One of the things Julia reminded me of as I read her book is that writing is meant to be fun. Somewhere along the road from writer to published writer to authorpreneur I forgot the fun bit. Writing had become targets and deadlines, pressure and stress.

Rediscovering the joy in my writing is one of my resolutions for 2018.

Fun by Lotzman Katzman courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons licensed by CC BY 2.0 https://flic.kr/p/dNjwvd https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

I could not have reconnected with this fundamental piece of advice at a better time. Following the publication of one of my short stories in a women’s magazine towards the end of last year, the editor of another women’s magazine emailed me with a proposal – how would I feel about writing a three-part serial for her publication. She wanted a romantic mystery that ran to 3,500 words with a cliffhanger after 1,000 words (the first edition), a second cliffhanger after 2,000 (the second edition) and all tied up neatly in the final 1,500 (the third edition).

With the mantra that ‘writing is fun’ running through my mind, I set to work. What came out of it was Midnight at Moon Bay, the first part of which is published in Yours Magazine in the UK this week and is on sale now.

I thoroughly enjoyed writing Midnight and I hope, if you get the chance, you’ll enjoy reading it.


It’s the Hook not the Book

I promised an update on my recent submission to the literary agent I met at Winchester last summer. She emailed to say she would like a chat over the phone. We subsequently spoke for about 30 minutes. She did not want to take the novel I had submitted to her. She felt it did not hit all the beats of a crime novel and whilst she had enjoyed it and thought the pacing, structure, characterisation and plot were all great, it was not stand out enough to be a break out novel in commercial fiction.

She said if I wanted to write an out and out crime novel she was certain I could do it she just wasn’t sure I wanted to which was very perceptive of her. I love writing about relationships. I particularly like writing about relationships when people from very different walks of life meet and sparks fly. I do not want to shift my focus away from that to hit the beats of a narrower brief.

Narrow by Claus Zurbig courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons licensed by CC BY-SA 2.0 https://flic.kr/p/SBBD51 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

Whilst I was initially disappointed I quickly bounced back (you have to in this game!). Her words, however, got me thinking. In the trad world it is all about the hook and not the book. If the hook is strong enough that the marketing people can run with it you’re in and anything that does not hit that sweet spot is out, labelled as too much work. It’s all about the hook. A great hook can carry weaker writing across the line. That’s a fact of life in this modern world.

Hook by Jasleen Kaur courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons licensed by CC BY-SA 2.0 https://flic.kr/p/8zqogr https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

Which leaves writers with a dilemma. It’s a choice artists have always had to make – do you chase the money or do you follow your love of your craft. It’s why Hollywood actors do one big picture for the studios and two independent films for themselves.

The competitive part of me wants to write the hell out of a crime novel now just to prove I can do it but crucially my heart wouldn’t really be in it. I write what I like and I wouldn’t want that to change that.

If you are lucky enough to write what you like and it also hits the sweet spot with the marketing people congratulations. You’ve hit the motherlode.

For the rest of us, I am pleased to say there is a silver lining to this tale. Indie publishing. Indie loves books that have hooks as much as trad publishing does but indie isn’t so narrow minded – cross genre, mash up or niche, indie welcomes them all and if you can devise a half decent marketing plan you might even find an audience as has been the case for me.

Indie gave me a home when no one else would and still does. Indie continues to cherish and reward me. Best of all, indie allows me to be myself and write what I want to write. Who can really ask for more?

book heart
Heart by Kate Ter Haar courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons licensed by CC BY 2.0 https://flic.kr/p/7AZpB6 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/




Writing, as we all know, can be a lonely path. Often frustrating and filled with self-doubt, so it is particularly gratifying when something comes along which is completely unexpected and gives you a boost.

I was lucky enough to experience that feeling just before Christmas when I discovered first of all that my novel White Lies had been nominated for the best romance book of 2017 by the Rosie Amber Book Review Team and then to find out that I had won.

#RBRT Review Team

white lies
White Lies by Ellie Holmes http://Author.to/EllieHolmes

Given the large number of romance books this dedicated team reads over the course of 12 months I was stunned and delighted to have even made it into the nominations so to win was totally extra icing on the cake and a wonderful lift to my confidence.

Whether it be a lovely review, a compliment from a reader or winning an award, to have your hard work recognised and appreciated is a tremendous feeling and one to hang on to and remember when the going gets tough.

Here’s to 2018 and all of the successes and the failures that are to come.

As Kipling said:-

‘If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster,

And treat those two impostors just the same;’



White Lies Romance Finalist

I was delighted to discover that White Lies has been named a finalist in the romance category of the Rosie Amber Review Team book awards. I’d love it if you would vote for me.  Click on the link and scroll down to the Romance section.


You can vote for White Lies until Friday 15th Dec. Many thanks. Ellie xx

White Lies


White Lies Romance Finalist

I was delighted to discover that White Lies has been named a finalist in the romance category of the Rosie Amber Review Team book awards. I’d love it if you would vote for me.  Click on the link and scroll down to the Romance section.


You can vote for White Lies until Friday 15th Dec. Many thanks. Ellie xx

White Lies


Hold Your Nerve

A few years ago, I had an agent but when I expressed the wish to indie publish my agent and I parted ways. Since then I have indie published two novels and one novella and have sold two novellas to traditional publishers as well as finding success in the field of writing stories for women’s magazine. I went from not published at all to indie+trad published in one year and became a hybrid author.

Fast forward to 2017. I have completed my first crime novel. It’s a bit of a departure from the romantic fiction I have been known for to date and a world away from the light romances I write for the magazines. I have enjoyed the process and thoroughly embraced my dark side. Just as well I’m a Gemini and can write both genres even though they are poles apart.

I think it’s the best thing I’ve ever written but then I’m biased.

Submission Hell

I could very easily have taken the decision to indie publish my crime novel and that may well be the path I end up taking. However, having met with enthusiastic and knowledgeable people at the Winchester Writers’ Festival in the summer I have decided to follow up on the contacts I made there and have sent my freshly polished manuscript off to one of the agents I met.

It is a long while since I have languished in submission hell. I had quite forgot how gruelling it can be. I am luckier than most because I gave the agent exclusivity for a limited period and she has promised to respond by my deadline, I at least know when, roughly, I will hear from her.

That, however, is only part of the pain of submission as authors who have trodden this path so many times before will know. It is the agony of the outcome that awaits, that holds me firmly on its tenterhooks, dancing first one way and then the other as my mood takes me.

Hook by Thomas Sturm courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons licensed by CC BY-ND 2.0 https://flic.kr/p/RyP7Rc https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/

Imagination is a vital asset for a writer to have. It becomes less than an asset in situations like these when my mind spirals away into various scenarios, very few, if any of which are likely to come true.

The Fearlessness of Youth

As is so often the case, I can usually find an analogy for life through sport. In the tennis or ice skating worlds you often find a precocious youngster, brimming with talent and utterly fearless, throwing themselves with abandon into their chosen sport, often vying for the highest prizes imaginable without losing their nerve.

Ice Skating
Ice Skating by Fabricio Zuardi courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons licensed by CC BY 2.0 https://flic.kr/p/5uhDnD https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Contrast them to the older, wiser, competitors. They have seen it all before, perhaps were once a precocious youngster themselves, but now the years have passed, they have amassed titles and fortunes and yet they still crave more. Now when they compete they cannot mirror the fearlessness of their young competitors, they know only too well the pain of failure, the soul searching questions that accompany it, the sands of time slowly running in the wrong direction.

I am not as young as I once was. I have known my fair share of failure. It is time, once again, to hold my nerve.

The Flower Seller by Ellie Holmes http://Author.to/EllieHolmes



Reboot your Reading List

reading list
Reading List by Kurtis Garbutt courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons licensed by CC BY 2.0 https://flic.kr/p/9fv65v https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

We all have a favourite stable of authors we return to again and again. We either devour their new books or we re-read their old books, embracing their familiarity. It is a comforting and enjoyable way to pass the time.

When searching for something new to read, we either try a writer who is recommended as similar to one of the authors on our favourites list or we pick something from within the genres we are most comfortable with.

We never stray too far away from what we know.

That is not necessarily a good thing however for a reader or an author.

Into the unknown
Into the Unknown by Paul Hudson courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons licensed by CC BY 2.0 https://flic.kr/p/VVe7jg https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Out of My Comfort Zone

A few years ago I was seriously ill. A friend of mine arranged a delivery of books to my house to see me through my months of treatment. There were five or six books in all. None were the kind of books I would have picked for myself. Some were literary reads, others historicals, outside my go to periods of history, some were futuristic but not sci-fi.

I read them all over the months I was laid low. Firstly, because having read the blurbs of each I was intrigued by then and secondly because they had been a present and I would have felt a little mean if I had not read any of them.

My friend had told me that if any of the books did not appeal to me that I could swap them for others, she wouldn’t mind but I didn’t want to do that. It would somehow have cheapened what was a wonderful and thoughtful gift.

Imagine my surprise when whole new worlds I would never have inhabited opened up before me, sucking me in and holding me in their sway.

British library
The British Library by Steve Cadman courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons licensed by CC BY-SA 2.0 https://flic.kr/p/JYedk https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

Try Something New

There is definitely something to be said from stepping away from the familiar and reading something new. So next time you are searching for something to read try something from a genre you’ve never read before or, better yet, walk into a book shop and pick up the first book your eyes alight upon.

Reboot your reading list and you’ll be rewarded by discovering new worlds and new writers you would never otherwise have met just like I was.

white lies
White Lies by Ellie Holmes http://Author.to/EllieHolmes