Author: Nicole Simms

Setting Self-Doubt on Fire – AuthorTube – Learn How to Describe Emotion

Setting Self-Doubt on Fire –  Improve Your Writing Skills with AuthorTube – Learn How to Describe Emotion

Hi all, it’s been some time since my last post, but today I want to introduce you to my new Setting Self-Doubt on Fire miniseries. 


During my writing journey, there have been many things that have caused the terrible Mr Self Doubt to make an unwelcome appearance. And one of those things was fearing I didn’t know enough to be a good writer.


So, did I give up and allow Mr Self Doubt to celebrate? Hell no! I knew there were storytelling tips and techniques I needed to know, so I did the sensible thing and found ways to learn the writing craft. And one of those was (and still is) watching videos on YouTube.


So I present to you my new miniseries: Improve Your Writing Skills with AuthorTube.


What’s AuthorTube? Well, it’s just writers (published and unpublished) on YouTube. These writers share their writing journey (the good and the bad), share their experiences and share their writing knowledge.


The purpose of this miniseries is to show you that you can beat self-doubt by learning the writing craft and improving your writing skills. And you can do this by watching AuthorTube videos.


So, let’s start with the first video: Describe Emotion without Being Melodramatic or Cliché by Ellen Brock, see video below. 



Ellen Brock is a professional freelance editor, writing coach, plot consultant and YouTuber. On her channel, you’ll find advice on how to write great characters, outline your story, find your author voice, plot your novel and write your novel. 


In her short video, Ellen explains how best to convey character emotions. It can be difficult to convey your characters’ emotions without relying on clichés, melodrama or too much showing or telling. She reveals that introspection is the solution. And in the video, she explains how to use introspection to show characters’ emotions.


I’ve always struggled to show the characters’ emotions. And I find that my characters do a lot of banging their fists against something, rubbing their heads, throwing something, twiddling their hair, snarling, etc. But thanks to this video, I finally understand how to convey emotions without making my characters appear overemotional when they aren’t supposed to be. 


So, if like me, you struggle to show what the characters are feeling, you should watch the video above. 

Oh, before I go, if you struggle with self-doubt and you want to be part of a group where writers can share their fears, motivate each other and offer support, then join my ‘Setting Self-Doubt on Fire Squad’ group. 

Okay, that’s all I have for you today. Stay safe, everyone. And I’ll speak to you again soon.


‘I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better.’ — Maya Angelou

Setting Self Doubt on Fire: How Can Online Groups Help Writers?

Happy New Year! Yeah, I know, we’re already three months into 2020 (nearly four), but hey, this is my first Setting Self-Doubt on Fire post for 2020. 

I hope you’ve had a good start to 2020. If not, you’re not the only one.

So, what do I have for you today? Well, I want to talk about how online groups can help you with your writing journey.

As you may remember, I was unwell last year, which resulted in me having to put my plans on hold. Now, I’m feeling better, but I’m still not as well as I used to be: I’m easily overwhelmed, my concentration is poor, I can’t spend too long on the computer, and it takes me longer to do things. All of this has made me doubt whether I’m able to reach my goals, especially when I have Mr Self-Doubt reminding me of my fears. 

When you’re struggling with self-doubt, you can feel alone and lost. But the one thing I’ve found that helps is being part of a writing group and talking to other writers. 

If you have other writers to talk to it can help you to push doubt aside so you can continue to work towards your writing goals. This is why I started these ‘Setting Self-Doubt on Fire’ posts and why I joined my writing group.

But what if you can’t join a writing group? Well, there’s a solution: you can join an online group.

An online group allows you to interact with people without having to leave your home — this is a perfect solution for many of us at the moment, especially with us having to stay at home due to Covid-19. 

My writing group has had to become an online group for the time being. We already had a private Facebook group, so we could keep in touch. But since we’ve been put on lockdown, we are now using Facebook chat and video calling to continue our meetings. 

My writing group isn’t my only experience of an online writing group. Last year I created a Facebook group called ‘NaNoWriMo for Self-Doubters’. This group was for those writers who wanted to do NaNo differently or for my fellow self-doubters. Now this group didn’t have many members, but it still helped to motivate me to reach my NaNo goal, and it also helped the other members. 

Are you still not sure whether you should join an online writing group? Here are more ways an online group can help you:

  • You can speak to writers from all around the world.
  • It allows you to interact with people when you are too ill to leave your home.
  • You have people to talk to when you’re struggling at various times through your writing journey.
  • You have people who can challenge the negative things Mr Self Doubt tells you.
  • You have people who understand the challenges a writer goes through.
  • You have people who can celebrate your achievements with you, even the small achievements — some people don’t see selling one book as an achievement, but a writer knows that selling one is better than nothing.
  • You have people who can give you advice and feedback when you doubt or struggle with your work, as long as the group is private.
  • You have people who can encourage you to get back up and try again when faced with rejection.
  • You feel less alone. 


So, as you can see, an online group has many benefits. The main one for me was being able to keep in touch with people even when I was too unwell to leave the house. And this is why I decided to create a support group for writers. 

Even though I have the NaNo group, I wanted a group that could offer support for my fellow self-doubters all year round. And this is why I created a new Facebook group called ‘The Setting Self-Doubt on Fire Squad’.

The Setting Self-Doubt on Fire Squad is a support group for all writers who struggle with self-doubt. It’s a group where writers can share their fears, offer support and motivate each other to achieve our writing goals. So, if this sounds like the group for you, please join the ‘Setting Self-Doubt on Fire Squad’. And together we will defeat Mr Self Doubt.

Okay, that’s all I have for you today. Stay safe, everyone. And I’ll speak to you again soon.

Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.’ — Helen Keller


Setting Self Doubt on Fire: Do NaNoWriMo Differently This Year

Hi everyone, I’m back with some more self-doubt fighting-advice. It’s October, and you know what that means—no, I’m not talking about my birthday. October is the month before NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month).


Yes, it’s nearly NaNo time already—I can’t believe it. For those who don’t know, NaNoWriMo is where writers from around the world pledge to write 50,000 words of their novel in November. It’s a great way to motivate you to start writing your novel.


I had planned to do NaNoWriMo again this year—it would be my first attempt since 2014—but due to ill health, trying to write 50,000 words in a month would put too much pressure on my struggling brain.


But I still wanted to take part in NaNo, so this got me thinking. Why do I have to aim to write 50,000 words? Yes, that is the purpose of NaNo, but it wouldn’t be the first time I’ve done it differently. I have done NaNoEdMo (National Novel Editing Month) instead of NaNoWriMo, and instead of working on a novel, I worked on a novella and some short stories.


So I decided to do NaNoWriMo differently. Instead of aiming to write 50,000 words, I plan to write 10,000 words of a novella, but even if I don’t reach that goal, I still plan to celebrate any achievement I make, see my ‘My NaNoWriMo 2019 Goal’ post to find out more.


For many of you, the challenge of writing 50,000 words in a month is too much for you to attempt. It could be because of your health, lack of time, responsibilities or fear. And trying NaNo will do nothing but add extra stress to an already stressful life. So you decide not to take part at all.


Well, this isn’t the only option. If you still want to take part in the NaNo fun, there is no reason why you can’t tweak it to make it more suitable for you. You could reduce the word count (as I am doing), do NaNoEdMo instead if you have a novel to edit rather than to write or write something other than a novel, such as a short story collection or a novella. The choice is yours. So instead of missing out this year, do NaNo differently instead and join the fun. And if you don’t reach your goal, don’t beat yourself up, be proud of the work you have done so far.


If you decide to do NaNo, then read my other NaNo posts for more tips and advice:



And, if you do decide to take part in NaNo, I have created a Facebook group called NaNoWriMo for Self-Doubters. This group is for writers who suffer from self-doubt but want to take part in NaNo or anyone doing NaNo differently. So, if that’s you, then do join please join the group and let’s support each other.


That’s all I have for you today.


‘It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.’—Confucius




Setting Self Doubt on Fire: Beat the Fear of Self-Publishing

Hey, everyone, the self-doubt-fighting writer is back! Where have I been? Well, fairies abducted me and brought me to their Pinkfey Kingdom, and because I’m so pinkalicious, they begged me to become their Queen Pinky — the original queen fell down a well and turned into something resembling that chick from the film The Ring.

So for months, I ruled their Pinkfey Kingdom, and… okay, okay, that’s a load of crap. But, the real reason just isn’t as interesting. The truth is I was unwell, but I won’t bore you with all the details here — I explain all on my blog. But now I’m recovering it’s time to return to my self-doubt fighting ways.

So, what do I have for you today? I am going to talk about how you can beat the fear of self-publishing.

Self-doubt makes you feel like you’re not good enough, so the thought of self-publishing your own stories (or poetry) will terrify you — I know it terrifies me. For some of us, the submission process is a test of our abilities. If you make it through and an editor or publisher accepts your work, then your work must be good enough.

With self-publishing, you don’t have that test. And, the only way you know if your work is good enough is if readers read and review your work — yep, scary thought, right? The thought alone will fill your mind with so many questions: Will people hate my story? Did I publish too soon? Will people buy a book from me again? With these questions swirling around your head, self-publishing will no longer look like a good idea.

Well, we can’t have you giving up now. I have recently experienced self-publishing for the first time. And, I put fear aside (it wasn’t easy, but I did it) and allowed the world to judge my baby (I’m referring to my book. I don’t have a real baby). How can you do the same? Well, my fellow self-doubters, I have some tips for you:

  1. Start small. If fear often cripples you, it might not be a good idea to jump into self-publishing a novel-length piece — diving into the deep end might work for some, but others (like me) might benefit more from paddling in the shallow end first.


So, if you’re like me, I suggest you try publishing short stories (or flash fictions) on your blog or story sharing websites like Wattpad. Then you can see what people say and take on board any feedback to help future projects. Believe it or not, there are some people out there who will give feedback to help you improve and not to tear you down. Sharing your stories this way might even help you find a readership.

Then from there you can try publishing a short story collection e-book and work your       way up to a novel.

  1. Find beta readers to check your work before you publish it. If you’re part of a writing group, you can ask the members to be your beta readers. This will help you to spot any issues before your book ends up in the hands of your readers. You’ll also get valuable feedback, and any positive feedback will be a boost to your confidence.



If you’re not part of a writing group, you can find writers online, or you might know people who love reading. What’s important is that you get honest feedback.


There’s also an option of hiring an editor to edit your work for you. Having your book professionally edited will be good for your book, but it’s not something that we can all afford to do.


  1. Fear of something can often be reduced by gaining knowledge of what you fear. So, find out as much information as possible about the self-publishing process. This will allow you to find out how to avoid mistakes and how to make the process easier. You can also read about other author’s experiences of self-publishing, and this will allow you to see that you’re not alone in your fears.


  1. Seek support. Sometimes all you need is someone to listen to your concerns. And once you have got your fears off your chest, you’ll find yourself feeling more positive. So, if you do need to talk, then reach out to your loved ones or a writer buddy, either off or online.


  1. Just do it. Like I mentioned in my ‘Let’s Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway in 2019’ post, sometimes the best way to overcome fear is to do what scares you. So edit that book, format it correctly and press on that publish button — of course, don’t forget to give it to your beta readers first.


When it came down to publishing my e-book, I kept checking all the details I had entered, even though I knew I had entered everything correctly — I was trying to avoid pushing the publish button. But, I knew I had to just do it. So, I pushed the button and threw my book into the pool of hungry readers. I have to admit it was a huge relief when I finally did it.

So, there are my tips. I hope they help you to beat the fear of self-publishing and share your amazing stories with the world. If you have any tips of your own, please comment below. I’d love to hear how you push fear aside.

For those of you who are interested, my e-book, The Book of Drabbles, is available to download for FREE from Smashwords and any other e-book retailer.

“What would life be if we had no courage to attempt anything?”– Vincent Van Gogh


WIHM: Setting Self Doubt on Fire: The Female Horror Author Reading Challenge

Setting Self Doubt on Fire: The Female Horror Author Reading Challenge


Hi everyone! I’m back, and you didn’t have to wait a year for another post. So, it’s February (I know, scary, right? What happened to January?), and that means it’s Women in Horror Month. I know February is nearly over, but hey, we still have some time left.

So to celebrate this month, I want to move away from my normal self-doubt-busting posts and encourage you all to take part in the female horror author reading challenge.

In February 2017 I wrote a post titled ‘Female Horror Writer and Proud’ for the Horror Tree, and it was while writing this post that I realised I hadn’t read many female horror authors. I was shocked. How could a female horror writer not have read many female horror authors? So, from that day I decided to do a female horror author reading challenge.

For the challenge, I created a list of ten female horror authors that I hadn’t read before and vowed to read their books. It was an interesting challenge, and I even found new authors to add to my list of favourites — you can read all about my reading challenge on my website.

So, this month I want you to do the same. I want you to create a reading list of ten female horror authors you have never read before and read their books. How do you find these authors? Well, you can use the list I made on my website (see link above), or you can do a search on Google. There are many blogs and websites that list female horror authors, such as this post titled ‘11 Women Horror Writers You Need to Read’.

Now, you don’t need to buy their books because I didn’t. Instead, you can make use of your library (Oh, where would we be without our libraries). I wrote a list of authors to look for, and I then checked to see if the libraries in my area had any of their books. I was then able to complete my reading list. Of course, you could buy their books, but to save yourself from ending up with a book you don’t like, I think it’s better to borrow them.

I may have finished my challenge, but I am still looking for more female horror authors. So, if you have any suggestions, feel free to comment below. Also, let me know if you take part in the challenge, especially if you read any of the books I did. I would love to hear your views.

So, that’s it, folks, let’s get reading.

To end this post, here is another inspirational quote:

 “One of the most courageous things you can do is identify yourself, know who you are, what you believe in and where you want to go.”– Sheila Murray Bethel


Please be sure to Tweet us your suggestions using the link below!

Setting Self Doubt on Fire: Let’s Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway in 2019

Happy New Year! I’m back. Yes, I know it’s been a long time since my last post. Where did I go? Don’t worry, Mr Self Doubt didn’t kidnap me and hold me hostage. I simply struggled to find the time, and every time I wanted to write a post, something else needed doing. But, fear not, for I am back, and I’m ready to battle with Mr Self Doubt.

In 2017, I read a book written by Susan Jeffers titled Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway — the Oldbury Writing Group leader and my friend, Angela, had recommended the book to me. Over the years, fear often stopped me from doing what I wanted to do, especially with my writing, so this book was what I needed. It showed me that the only way to conquer fear is to face it head-on. Do what you want to do, even though the prospect might be terrifying.

Well, this year I have decided to do just that. I will feel the fear and do it anyway. And, I want you all to join me on this quest for happiness and writing success.

How do you do that? It’s simple. All you have to do is step out of your comfort zone and take any opportunity that comes your way, or do something that you’ve been too scared to do.

For example, you could do the following:

  • Join a writing group.
  • Start a new writing project, e.g. a novel, a novella, a story collection, etc.
  • Submit your work.
  • Try self-publishing.
  • Read your work out to an audience.
  • Do a course.
  • Join a writer’s programme.

Okay, I know stepping out of your comfort zone isn’t easy, but you will never know what you are capable of doing until you do it. So, come on, folks, let’s make 2019 our year for writing success.

I will be sharing my fear-busting adventures on here and on my website, so stay tuned.

Keep writing, folks!

To end this post, here is another inspirational quote:

“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” – Nelson Mandela

Setting Self Doubt on Fire: 5 Tips on How to Ignore the Negative Voices

Hi All, I’m back with some more self-doubt fighting words. I know, it’s been a long time since my last post, but I’ve been busy with finishing the third draft of my novel, which took longer to finish than planned, but the third draft is now completed.

So, what do I have for you today? Well, three years ago, I wrote a post titled, ‘The Doubts of Others’. In this post, I talked about how, for some of us writers, there are people out there who feel that we are wasting our time in trying to achieve this dream. Well, that was three years ago, and since then I have had more short stories published and won competitions, but still, there are people out there who belittle my achievements and see my writing as a joke. As I mentioned in the last post, it’s hard enough fighting your own negative thoughts without having to deal with other people’s negative opinions because this only releases Mr Self Doubt. So, today, I want to tell you (and myself) that it’s time to ignore the negative voices.

How do you ignore the negative voices, you ask? Well, I have my famous five tips for you:

  1. Remember, you don’t need anyone’s permission to write – this is an important point because many of us will feel that we need people’s approval to write, and so when we don’t get it we stop writing. The only permission you need to write is your own. If writing makes you happy, if it’s your dream to get published and see your book in a bookshop window, then go for it, and don’t let anyone stop you. It’s your life. You need to do what makes you happy.
  2. Call yourself a writer – no one will believe that you are a writer if you don’t believe it yourself. If you tell people that you do this ‘writing thing’ then you will only encourage them to not take your writing seriously. And even though your writing isn’t important to them it is still important to you, so don’t trivialise what you do. Stand up and tell people, ‘I’m a writer, and I’m proud of that.’ I’m glad to say that I finally call myself a writer because that’s what I do. I’m not a published novelist, yet, but I am a writer.
  3. Don’t waste your energy with anger – it’s understandable that you would want to rip out people’s throats for mocking what you do, but anger only hurts you. So don’t waste your time being angry and thinking about all the terrible things you can do to that person (some of us are horror writers for a reason lol). Instead, accept that these people don’t believe that you will succeed, but don’t let them make you quit.
  4. Focus on the positive voices – you may have people who think you’re wasting your time and not take your writing seriously, but there will be people out there who do. So, don’t focus on the negative people, instead focus on the people who go to your writing events, who celebrate when you are published, and who tell you that you can do this when you feel like you can’t. And if you don’t have anyone like that then you can always find them via writing groups or online. I’m lucky because I have more people in my life who believe in me than I do who don’t believe in me. They see and know that I’m working hard, and it’s those people that I plan to focus on, and you should do the same, even if there’s only one person in your life who believes in you.
  5. Keep writing – yes, this is what you should definitely do. Actually, this should be point one, but I thought it would be a nice way to end the post. You will never achieve your dreams if you stop writing, so don’t listen to the negative voices. Instead, focus on your path and continue with it. And hey, you can always use those negative people to inspire a villain (or victim) in your stories – just make sure that they won’t recognise that it’s them. And when you do have a novel published, you should send them a signed copy of your book.

So there you have it, five tips on how to ignore the negative voices, and none of them involved any violence. There are many reasons why people will put you down for following your dreams, one of the reasons is jealousy because unlike them, you have the courage and determination to pursue your dream. So don’t waste your time with those negative people, instead focus on what truly matters.

Keep writing folks!

To end this post, here is another inspirational quote:

“Stop letting people who do so little for you control so much of your mind, feelings and emotions” – Will Smith


Setting Self Doubt on Fire: Hey! Where’s My Book Reading Audience

Hi All, I’m back with some more self-doubt fighting words.

You may have noticed that I haven’t been around for a while. Well, that’s because my writing group’s World War Two anthology titled From Sunrise to Sunset has finally been published and is now out on sale, which means we’ve been busy promoting our book and starting our book tour. Now, I wish I could say the book tour has been a huge success, but sadly, things haven’t gone exactly to plan. On some of our book readings, we’ve had one problem – no audience. Now, even though our book tour hasn’t gone to plan, we haven’t given up. Instead, we are focusing on the positives, no matter how small: we had three people come to one of our book readings, and we managed to sell a book (yay us!), and we have decided to rethink our book tour, so our future events will have a better turnout.

Having a low turnout or no audience at all does happen to writers, especially the unknown ones. I went to a writing festival in May, and one of the authors (Alex Wheatle) told us that he once had only two women and a dog turn up to one of his book readings. This showed us that perseverance is key because I doubt Alex Wheatle still has this problem.

It can be disappointing to have no one turn up to a book reading, And it also isn’t great for those suffering from crippling self-doubt.


So after having this experience I’ve decided to share some tips on how you can deal with an invisible audience at a book reading event.


  1. Focus on the positives – you may have only had one person in the audience, but it’s better to have one interested person than several uninterested people. And that one person knows people, so who’s to say they won’t mention your book to someone else.
  2. Think about your advertising – there are many ways you can promote your book tour. You have Facebook events, websites that list events in your area, posters, your website/blog, leaflets, newspapers, other social media sites, radio, television, and family and friends (word of mouth is still the best way). So, if you haven’t tried all the different types of advertising, then go back to the ones you haven’t tried. And remember to advertise as early as possible. Putting up a poster a week before an event is unlikely going to get you a packed out event.
  3. Rethink your venues – libraries are good places to do book readings, but what I’ve found out is that having a book reading at a quiet library isn’t a good idea. It’s best to go to a venue that has a readymade audience. That way, you might even catch the attention of people who’ve not heard about you or your book. Also, ask to take part in events. There was a 1940s event that my writing group took part in because our book is based during the war, so it was a perfect fit. You might be able to have a little space where you can set up your books and do a reading.
  4. Network – the more people who know you, then the more people who will be willing to put the word out about your events. However, remember that if you want people to advertise your events, then you have to be prepared to return the favour. Also, if you know people, they might be able to tell you about events that you can take part in, or recommend you to people. This is where it’s great to be part of a writing group.
  5. Change the times and days of your book readings – sometimes people would love to come to your book reading, but you’ve chosen a day they can’t come. So, if you have an event on a Saturday afternoon, but no one turns up, then try a different day and different time of day. I have seen many book reading events that take place in the evening.
  6. Stop being hard on yourself – we all have to start at the bottom. We may love to read our book out to hundreds of people, but realistically, you’ll be lucky to get ten if you’re a new author. So sometimes it doesn’t matter how hard you have publicised your book tour you might find that not many people turn up, and that’s okay because one day they will.

It can be disheartening to make a huge effort to organise an event and have no one turn up, but you need to remember that with enough hard work, determination, and perseverance, one day you will have the audience that you desire. So don’t give up.

To end this post, here is another inspirational quote:

“Failures are finger posts on the road to achievement.” – C.S. Lewis