10 steps to start writing a book

So many books and so many writers in this world. What defines their success and how can they become actually read authors? The truth is that they started from where everyone starts, a blank page and probably multiple ideas flowing in their mind. The hard part of writing a book isn’t getting published but writing it. This is a process which can take a short or long time and that usually happens in three stages. Beginning, not giving up and finishing.

In the beginning, you have to start writing something. This may seem obvious, but it also may be an overlooked step along the way. You write a book by deciding first what and how you are going to write. Once you start writing, staying motivated and not giving up it is crucial. You will face self-doubt and you will feel overwhelmed. Knowing before this situation can help you prepare for it. Finishing is the last step, and no one cares about a book you almost finished. Be sure you actually do it. What makes you a writer is the ability to complete a project.

However, writing is a big process and here are 10 steps to make it easier to achieve your final result of reaching “The End.”

  1. Decide what the book is about

Writing is always about something. If you need help in fleshing your idea out, one method is to start by the concept of the book in a sentence, stretch that out to a paragraph and then to a one-page outline. After, write a table of content to help guide you in your story. Break each chapter into sections and think about the beginning, middle, and end. These are important tips for you not to get lost.

  1. Daily word goal

Think the task is daunting? Writing a page per day will mean you have a full length novel within a year. Hopefully, time and creativity will allow you to jump past that even quicker. Make yourself write each day and set daily goals to yourself. A page a day is only about 300 words. Set realistic goals though. Write often, not necessary a lot.

  1. Set the time to work on the book

People normally have more things to do besides writing a book. Even if you can afford to be a professional writer, you might have children or other duties. Don’t expect horse racing results, because you are just human. Consistency though, makes creativity easier and it will appear with a daily basis process. Schedule the time of the week you are going to write, according to your other responsibilities.

  1. Write in the same place

Make your writing location a special and unique place, wither if it is a kitchen table or a library. It is important to distinguish your tasks and writing should be apart from the others. When you enter that space, you are committed to your goal.

  1. Set a total word count

Begin already with the end in your mind. Once you start, think about the total word count for your book. Break each chapter into equal lengths and think in terms of 10-thousand increments. A short e-book has 20,000 words, a standard non-fiction book has between 40.000 to 60.000. From this number further, all will fit the category of a long book.

  1. Get feedback once in a while

Let someone look at it and listen to people’s opinions. You are writing for people so make sure you let a few of your trust read before you need to rewrite the book. You can show it to friends, editors or family. Find someone who is honest and will make sure you are heading in the right direction.

  1. Weekly goals

Besides the daily goals, weekly goals are also a must. Always be honest to yourself about how much you still have left and celebrate your progress. Deadlines followed strictly are the way to get your work done. Make a plan for your tasks and go for it.

  1. Commit to delivering it

No one really knows when a book is finished. However, after writing all you think you needed to write, there are still a few things to do. First, deliver the book and never close it in your drawer. Send it to a publisher, check some online competitions for new writers, release it on your social media. Present it to people, no matter how. The worst thing that you can do to yourself and your project is to give up when the book is written. Remember your initial goal and the hard process of making it. Don’t go backward now.

  1. Failure is normal

Be okay with failing, give yourself grace and embrace it. As soon as you approach the end of the book, know that it will be hard. Determination to continue is what will sustain you.

  1. Think about the next book

The majority of the authors are embarrassed about their first books. However, without that first one, no more can come. The first book is a lesson, either if you fail or succeed. Practicing is getting better each day and for that, you must keep writing. Every great author started somewhere, somehow.

The reason for a lot of books never have seen the daylight is behind the attitude of the authors: they gave up. Remember how many times Stephen King and J.K. Rowling were denied? Nevertheless, remember: before you can launch a bestseller, you have to write one!


Ines Marinho

5 Unorthodox (And Spooky) Places To Find Inspiration

We get it: sometimes the muse just doesn’t want to come, no matter how earnestly you’re trying to bribe it. So, instead, you’ve turned to writing prompts, which aren’t working. You’ve devoured every single book in your genre (and outside of it). You’ve gone on ten-mile walks, hoping that an idea will strike you around the five-mile mark.


When all of these tried-and-true methods for writing inspiration have failed, it might be time to turn to some more, well, unusual methods. Here are five unorthodox places that you can go to find writing inspiration. Warning: they might just turn out to be the spooky jolt that you need!


1. An art gallery

A surprising number of writers counted themselves as painters. Sylvia Plath drew in order to inspire her to write poetry. John Updike, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and Flannery O’Connor were cartoonists. True to form, Jack Kerouac painted using only spontaneous brushstrokes. Throughout history, visual art and literature has gone hand in hand, inspiring authors onwards.


If you’ve never dabbled in art yourself, you can simply drop by the nearest art gallery to view it. Overlooked by many a passerby, an art gallery is nevertheless a place that practically teems with stimulus. Walk into your local one and situate yourself in front of one of the paintings. Try and come up with a backstory to explain what’s happening in it. Or perhaps observe your fellow spectators in the gallery and create character profiles for them.


Spookify it: Specifically go in search of some of the eerier works of art out there. Perhaps tack on a museum with a creepy exhibit to your local art gallery tour. Do any museums nearby, for instance, happen to have mummies on display? Perfect. 


2. The swimming pool

This one is for you if you find that you often get “Aha!” moments in the shower. For many people, the simple spray of shower water goes a long towards churning their creative gears, so why not go and find more water in which to submerge yourself? Bian Li, author of the The Hungry Lab, reports that she solves all of her problems underwater in a pool: “No phone. No internet. No talking. No noise pollution. Just the sound of breathing through my regulator, the calming lull of the ocean and my thoughts.”


Don’t fret if you don’t live near a swimming pool — simply get a humongous bath tub, as Dame Agatha Christie did. When she was renovating her mansion, she only had two demands. She told the architect, “I want a big bath, and I need a ledge because I like to eat apples.”


Spookify it: Swim (safely) into the deep end of the pool. Then dive as deep as you can go, until the water turns dark-blue and the light above the water at the top is dim. Imagine that you’re not in a recreational pool, but an ocean. What monsters might lurk around you here? 


3. The airport

As Benjamin H. Bratton wrote in The Stack: On Software and Sovereignty, “Airports are not simulations of cities; rather cities are simulations of airports.” (And, as Love Actually testifies, you won’t be able to find anywhere else that provides as many heartfelt embraces.) When you walk into an airport, you enter a space where people are just about to step on a plane and begin a new chapter of their lives — and what better inspiration is there than that? There’s a story behind every departure and arrival: it’s just up to you to imagine it and fill in the blanks.


Spookify it: Visit the Denver Airport in particular. It has some eerie rumors floating about it, and the conspiracy theories about its strange oddities certainly don’t help its case.


4. The graveyard

Even if you don’t kill off your characters at the same rate as George R.R. Martin does, a graveyard can be an unexpected source of inspiration. Whether it’s an engraving on a tombstone or the thought that you’re walking amongst history and people who had led rich lives, it might be just the sort of thing that will get you thinking.


Incidentally, a graveyard is also a powerful creative wellspring when it comes to character naming. If you find that a character name generator isn’t working out for you, do what other famous authors have done and step into your local graveyard. It’s said that J.K. Rowling came up with the names for Alastor “Mad Eye” Moody and Minerva McGonagall in graveyards. Meanwhile, Charles Dickens was visiting a cemetery in Edinburgh when he came across the name ‘Ebenezer Scroggie.’ He turned it into the now iconic ‘Ebenezer Scrooge’ — a character from the classic A Christmas Carol.


Spookify it: Go at night. If you want to make it extra unsettling, bring a flashlight and a horror book to read while you sit against a tombstone.


5. An empty room

By “empty,” we mean completely bare. No desk. No phone. Only bring yourself, your mind, and the few select items that you absolutely wouldn’t be able to write without. Without any distractions, your mind is free to roam and make its own connections between ideas.


This is, by the way, Maya Angelou’s strategy when it comes to writing inspiration. She writes in complete isolation in a hotel room, even requesting that the walls be stripped of adornments. Only yellow pads, a dictionary, a thesaurus, a Bible, and the occasional sherry could be brought into the room. These were measures that she took in order to ensure that she wouldn’t be sidetracked, for inspiration, in the end, comes straight from your brain — not your surroundings.


Spookify it: Extra points if, instead of a hotel room, you walk into a house nearby — that has a reputation for being haunted.



Emmanuel Nataf

Emmanuel Nataf is the founder and CEO of Reedsy, a marketplace that connects authors and publishers with the world’s best editors, designers and marketers. Emmanuel dedicates most of his time to building Reedsy’s product and is interested in how technology can transform cultural industries.

WIHM: Honey, I Teleported the President

Honey, I Teleported the President Or When Trump Changed: The Feminist Science Fiction Justice League Quashes The Orange Outrage Pussy Grabber Fights Horror Fiction With Horror Fiction

By: Marleen S. Barr


            Once upon a time the president of the United States bragged about pussy grabbing. It used to be logical to read this sentence as a feminist horror story’s opening line.  This particular horror story, as we are all aware, has become real. Trump habitually simultaneously turns what was categorized as fiction into reality and lies to distort reality. He routinely disturbs the space-time continuum which formerly defined the demarcation between fiction and reality. Since his discourse disruption is stranger than fiction, realistic literature does not provide the most useful method to counter it. Doing so is a job for science fiction. The science fiction subgenre I have defined as “Trumppunk” provides the best means to diffuse the prevarication which profusely emanates from what Stephen Colbert calls Trump’s “mouth hole.”  With this point in mind, I wrote When Trump Changed: The Feminist Science Fiction Justice League Quashes The Orange Outrage Pussy Grabber, the first single-authored Trump-focused short story collection. My intention was to fight his misogynistic horror fiction with satirical feminist horror fiction.

            When doing so, I tried to translate the ridicule Mel Brooks brandished in The Producers into feminist Baby Boomer mode. The fact that I hail from Forest Hills, Queens– a neighborhood located a stone’s throw away from Trump’s Jamaica Estates emanation point– facilitates my translation efforts in that I speak with his identical “New Yawk” outer borough cadence.  What his mouth hole throws out, I can immediately echo back.  Or, in Brent Stephens’ more august words, “in an era in which the president is constantly trying to impose his fictions on reality, it’s incumbent on the rest of us to keep the two separate. Understanding what fiction is, and all the ways Trump seems to spring from it, is a good place to start” (New York Times, December 28, 2018).  As someone who has dedicated her professional life to being a feminist science fiction scholar, I understand what feminist science fiction is, all the ways Trump’s discourse springs from horror fiction, and how feminist science fiction provides cognitive estrangement to becoming inured to Trump’s lies. When Trump Changed uses exaggeration to separate his horror fiction from women’s reality.  

            I take what Trump really says and turn it into fake news which is unreal to the extent that it could never be actualized. For example, after Trump used the phrase “the local milk people,” I wrote “Trump Uses ‘The Local Milk People’ To Lure Pussies Out Of the White House Basement,” a “trouble with tribbles” scenario in which feminist extraterrestrials from the planet Mammary deliver milk to the White House to control the pussy plethora (I refer to baby domestic felines) inhabiting the building’s basement. And in “Just The Two Of Us Or Trump Comes On to Comey,” I imagine that after Trump actually sexually propositions Comey, Bella Abzug and Ethel Merman, New York women whose mouths are louder than Trump’s mouth, save the former F.B. I. director’s honor. “Springtime For Trump Or Feminist Extraterrestrials Eventually Produce A Woman President” is self-explanatory.

            Okay, Trump bring on your misogynistic horror fiction. Anything you can make fake I can make faker. I can make anything faker than you. Yes I can. Yes I can. Yes I can. Feminist science fiction, which functions as horror fiction from your perspective, can teleport you to a galaxy far far away.           


Marleen S. Barr

Marleen S. Barr is known for her pioneering work in feminist science fiction and teaches English at the City University of New York. She has won the Science Fiction Research Association Pilgrim Award for lifetime achievement in science fiction criticism. Barr is the author of Alien to Femininity: Speculative Fiction and Feminist TheoryLost in Space: Probing Feminist Science Fiction and Beyond, Feminist Fabulation: Space/Postmodern Fiction, and Genre Fission: A New Discourse Practice for Cultural Studies. Barr has edited many anthologies and co-edited the  science fiction issue of PMLA. She has published the novels Oy Pioneer! and Oy Feminist Planets: A Fake Memoir.  Her When Trump Changed: The Feminist Science Fiction Justice League Quashes the Orange Outrage Pussy Grabber is the first single-authored Trump short story collection.

Link to the book’s web page which contains a picture of the book:

WIHM: Contemporary Dystopias; Women, Bodies, Horror

Contemporary Dystopias; Women, Bodies, Horror

Tracy Fahey


As I work on my third collection, ‘I Spit Myself Out,’ I’m dealing with body horror; terrors both physical and mental that come from within. And as I do so I’m contemplating the female experience, women’s writing, and the perspectives on body horror that emerge from this amalgam. Contemporary female horror writers write in many wonderful ways on the subject, from visceral bizarro and splatterpunk to nightmarish magic realism to quiet, literary horror. We are diverse, and therefore so are the voices on the subject – here I’m just going to focus on just a few themes that seem to keep resurfacing; bodies in dystopian settings, anxieties of dissolution, and acute physical fears.

Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale (1985) is enjoying a deserved resurrection, partly due to its wonderful TV adaptation, but also because it reflects real, current fears about reproductive rights, bodily autonomy and control. Atwood’s vision of a future where female fertility is tightly controlled and women’s bodies are at the mercy of a patriarchal government now looks disturbingly like a viable reality. Issues of body ownership are debated across the world, with increasing legislation curtailing women’s rights. And stemming from this we have contemporary novels like Aliya Whitely’s The Beauty (2014) where women die out, only to return as strange plant hybrids, and also powerful narratives of resistance, like Naomi Alderman’s The Power (2016) which sees the female body become a weapon.

Stemming from this are fears of dissolution. Christina Dalcher’s Vox (2016) imagines a future where women are silenced; forbidden to read, their conversation curtailed to under a hundred words a day. Their very silence begins to erode their identities; Dalcher’s dystopian vision is peopled with obedient wives and observant daughters. Likewise, the strange girls of Gwendolyn Kiste’s The Rust Maidens (2018) literally start to come apart, their disintegrating bodies mimicking the decay of their home town.

These fears stem not only from a patriarchal society, but a society where the abuse, murder and rape of women are endemic. Female writers of body horror echo the real anxiety of occupying vulnerable bodies. In an earlier WiHM post for The Horror Tree, ‘Men Use Saws, Women Use Scalpels’, JD Blackrose discusses the emotive fears inherent in the maternal body; of pregnancy, birth and infant helplessness. But there’s also the entire domestic noir genre which focuses on fears that are born in violent homes; BA Paris’ Behind Closed Doors (2016) and Paula Hawkins’ The Girl On The Train both detail the abuse inflicted on the female protagonists. Karin Slaughter’s novels offer horrific scenarios where women are tortured, raped and mutilated; most notably in Triptych (2006).

When we read these accounts of female body horror, there is a rawness there, a sense of urgency, an anger behind these voices that is mesmerising.

It’s horror. It’s reality. But we’re writing it out.

Tracy Fahey

Tracy Fahey is an Irish writer of Gothic fiction.  In 2017, her debut collection The Unheimlich Manoeuvre was shortlisted for a British Fantasy Award. Two of her short stories were long listed by Ellen Datlow for Honourable Mentions in The Best Horror of the Year Volume 8. She is published in over twenty Irish, US and UK anthologies and her work has been reviewed in the Times Literary Supplement. Her first novel, ‘The Girl in the Fort’, was released in 2017. Her second collection of Irish folk horror, ‘New Music For Old Rituals’ was released in 2018 by Black Shuck Books. She is currently working on her third collection, ‘I Spit Myself Out.’ 

More information available on her website at https://www.tracyfahey.com   

Tweet her @tracyfahey

Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/tracyfaheyauthor

Amazon author page https://www.amazon.com/Tracy-Fahey/e/B00JTVZJ8Y

WIHM: Why Horror Poetry?

Why Horror Poetry?

Written by S P Oldham

I have a special fondness for poetry. I am aware that I am not well-versed (pardon the pun) in the technical aspects, that I know next to nothing about metre and so forth. I simply enjoy the flow of words, the pleasing alliteration, the enigmatic metaphors and fluid rhythms. I don’t for one moment, therefore, dare to call myself ‘a poet.’

But I don’t let that put me off dabbling in the art, so to speak, from time to time. I write and enjoy many kinds of poetry with many different themes, yet I have to say that there is something especially alluring about Dark Poetry.

I think this is in part due to the brevity of a poem in comparison to a short story or a novel, for one thing. You can get your fix of horror and chills in one brief read, when there is not time to sit and devour a longer piece. That is only one factor, though

I think that the very form lends itself quite beautifully to horror. You can evoke a genre merely by choosing the form. Short, choppy words, even a list poem, might lend itself quite nicely to a slasher/killer theme, for example:

Handle, slick, knife, blade

Run, quick, slip, slayed

Hack, chop, cut, gash

Sharp, sever, rip, slash


Carefully crafted, intriguing sentences might be just the thing for creating a creepy atmosphere, a frightening ambience, something like this:

There was a light, out in the hall; its flame burned bright, burned bold and tall

That light beguiled, that sweet flame beckoned, and so I answered to its call

Yet when I stepped upon the stair, that amber glow receded, died

As the darkness wrapped its cloak about me, I understood that light had lied

Lengthier verses might perhaps be perfect for telling a haunting story.

They talk, the people, of a place

They speak of it in whispered tones

They nudge and look, that glance a warning

Stay away! Don’t go near! Always knowing

That to a stranger, such a prohibition

Is as good as invitation


They spoke, the people, to the man

They whispered it in waiting ears

He heard and shook, took in their glances

Went anyway. Hid his fear. Never knowing

They would be the very last to see him

That goodbye a requiem


Like I said, a long way from perfect, not technically correct in any way, I just wanted to provide an example. As I said, I am not a poet in the true sense of the word. Why not have a go yourself, see what happens.

That is another thing I love about poetry. You can get away with rich language and flamboyant phrasing; just as you can in prose, I think. In a story there is not such licence for heavily descriptive language. Too much description, too much ‘floweriness’ puts the reader off and distracts from the plotline. Not that you can go too crazy in poetry either, but there is certainly more room for it in that medium.

Another thing I love about writing poetry is the opportunity to be a bit clever. Not too much so – no one wants to have to work that hard when they are reading a poem. This is the perfect time to introduce something just slightly cryptic, to make the reader pause and think, only for a moment or two, before they get that ‘Eureka!’ moment and realise they get it; they understand what the author means here. That, hopefully, they can identify with, too.

The flip-side of this reader-realisation is yet another aspect of poetry I truly enjoy and that I find supremely interesting. The reader may or may not pick up on what the poet was alluding to, but they do come up with an interpretation all of their own. Something completely different and far removed for the original meaning, that is nonetheless valid for all that. I have had some interesting conversations, even debates, with authors and readers alike on this subject. It is amazing how many scenarios and meanings can be derived from just one well-crafted or compelling sentence, and how an individual’s experiences, backgrounds, expectations etc… can inform how they read a poem. Fascinating!

But why horror poetry in particular? The answer for me, is that I find the combination of the lilting, sometimes deceptively gentle medium of poetry, coupled with the sinister, half-hidden, shadowed world of dark writing is nothing less than completely seductive. When combined, the two can result in a piece of writing that you find yourself mulling over time and again, perhaps even reciting a line or two aloud or in your head. It is deeply alluring, and it can also be shocking. It carries impact, as much as any other form of writing in the horror genre.

It is a personal thing, and another aspect of poetry I have had many interesting conversations about over the years, but I see no reason why horror poetry cannot also be rhyming poetry. I like both rhyming and non-rhyming, whatever the subject may be. Yet I have known people who are adamant that rhyming verse does not belong in horror. I have also known people who insist that rhyming poetry is a thing of the past, and only non-rhyming verse deserves to be called poetry. Each to their own but I have to say, I disagree with both. Who knew poetry could be so controversial?!

I will finish with a spooky little poem of my own. I hope you enjoy it. Feel free to drop in on me on any of my social media platforms, or on my website, if you happen to like what you read. Thank you and have a great Women in Horror Month!


In the depths of the woods, where nothing good goes
A twisted tree, gnarled and ancient, grows
Its spindly boughs reach out, like arms
To bear the weight of its eerie charms

For the rotten limbs of this forsaken tree
Are the purpose of the Suspendery;
Here hang things that twirl and spin
That rock and twist; that spit and grin

Here a bloodied horse tail whips
Frowning beneath, a brace of lips
See over there: that shred of lace?
That mourning veil still hides a face

A withered nerve rotates an eyeball
Like some gory Christmas bauble
And over there, a wreath of hands
Makes signs that no one understands

Bunting, made from blackened hide,
Strings tinsel-like all round the side
Whilst down the trunk in dark, wet trails
Blood oozes like the slime of snails

There is a fence of teeth and bones
A gate of skulls, a bell of moans
A ‘Welcome’ sign, with the ‘L’ scratched out
A warning to the wise? Or word to the devout?

Yet no one knows who visits this spot
Who hangs the offerings; who leaves to rot
The flesh of the dead, the parts of the defiled;
Who glories in what should be reviled

All you will discover, should you be fool enough to go
Are words clawed into the bark, many moons ago:
“You are come to the Suspendery; weary traveller, bear in mind;
That ere you go from this place, you leave part of you behind…”


S P Oldham



S P Oldham

S P Oldham lives in the beautiful Sirhowy Valley in South Wales. She has always enjoyed writing and has recently ventured into self-publishing, Although she writes mainly horror and dark fiction, she likes to dabble in other genres from time to time. She is also an avid reader. 

S P Oldham currently has five horror fiction books available on Amazon. Three of these make up The Mindless Trilogy – The Zombie Apocalypse: Where a Little Knowledge is a Dangerous Thing.

The other two books are short story collections. Hag’s Breath: A Collection Witchcraft and Wickedness, and Wakeful Children: A Collection of Horror and Supernatural Tales. Wakeful Children is also available in paperback.


You can find me on the following platforms:

On my website, So Lost in Words: https://solostinwords.com/

My Amazon book page: https://www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B01N2LSUMX

On Facebook:

S P Oldham https://www.facebook.com/solostinwords/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15116823.S_P_Oldham

Twitter: @dogskidssmiles

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