About the author

by James Batchelor

While taking a brief and mildly egotistical browse through Amazon, I noticed that my name under the listing for my writing group’s anthology linked to some other James Batchelor that writes books.

Now obviously my name’s not unique enough for me to expect to be the only James Batchelor with published fiction – particularly not in a world where absolutely anyone can release an e-book. But I’ll be damned if I’m letting this other Batchelor take credit for my work (to be fair, he may not want a children’s anthology associated with his adult historical fiction series).

So, I’ve just set up my own Amazon author page. All you have to do is go to AuthorCentral.amazon.co.uk and follow the various steps, including associating any books you’ve already published with your account. If you already have an Amazon account for shopping (and nowadays who doesn’t?), you can sign up with that, meaning you don’t have to worry about remembering yet another username and password.

It’s dead easy – suspiciously easy, in fact. I couldn’t help but wonder if I could just take credit for anyone’s books just by claiming I have the same name (why, yes, I’m almost Tom Clancy. How did you know, Amazon?). I’ve now correctly attributed the anthology to me, added a brief biography and a photo, and now I have a place to showcase all my published fiction to my adoring fans. Whenever I acquire them, of course.

It may seem a trivial, almost presumptuous step to do, but if I’m going to get books published, I should ensure there’s no one waiting in the wings to take credit. At the very least, there will be two more Writebulb anthologies on my page by this time next year and, who knows, maybe an e-book of my own.

Obviously, I’ll need to come up with a better headshot, write a more professional biography and, y’know, publish some work, but it’s hopefully laying a foundation.

It’s also a source of motivation. As with writing, if you’ve got a blank page, it’s impossible to resist filling it.

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The Problems of A Pantser

by Hellen Riebold

As we all know there are two types of writers, the careful, methodical ‘planner’ who knows who all their characters are, what’s going to happen to them and how the book is going to end. Then there are the ‘pantsers’ who live a life of fear, not knowing from one word to the next what their characters are going to say. I am most definitely a pantser.

It took me a long time to discover I was a pantser, or even that they existed, mostly because people who write ‘how to’ books can’t make much money from saying ‘just write’ so only publish books for planners. The truth didn’t dawn on me until I read a protracted interview given by a multi-million selling author who spoke about being a pantser, about just writing and using the editing process to work on the kinks. This information freed me completely and has allowed me to complete three books in eighteen months.

This past month, however, while writing my fourth, I came across a big problem. A married couple in my book had an argument and the wife ran off into the woods to sulk and didn’t decide to go home until it was getting dark. That was a problem because she had been in the area for less than 24 hours so she would have no way to know her way home and she couldn’t just find a road because they are being sought by the authorities. How on earth was I going to get her out of the woods?

For two weeks I was stuck. I couldn’t think of a single way to get her out and my friend, who is also a pantser, really wasn’t as helpful as she had hoped when she told me about a time she had two characters stuck on a beach for ten years while she tried to think of a way off for them. Actually it made me panic slightly. This book couldn’t wait ten years, it was a sequel and I have people waiting for it.

For days I sat staring at the last sentence on the page, then, one wonderful day, it came to me. It wasn’t actually dark, it was getting dark, therefore my character could see where the sun was setting, which meant she could work out east from west. If I also made her remember seeing the sun rise in the living room of the bungalow, looking out onto the road, then she’d know which way to head. Bingo. She was free. Hooray! Phew.

So will this experience make me more of a planner? No, it’s just not in me, but it does make me marvel at the problem solving power of the brain. If I had planned out every detail of my story then I wouldn’t have had the joy of realising I’d finally worked it out, and I wouldn’t have missed that feeling for the world.

No, a pantser I am and a pantser I’ll stay.