Guest Post: How To Start Writing a Book, by Savannah

I’m super excited about today’s post, because it’s written by Savannah over at The Book Prophet!  I absolutely adore her blog, because it’s so full of great reviews and posts and literally everything.  Plus, she’s great to talk to!  So if you’re looking for an awesome new blog to follow, head over and check her out.  Starting to write a book is SO FREAKIN HARD and so Savannah’s post will surely come in handy for lots of us bloggers who want to take the next step to becoming a writer.  Make sure you let her know how much you appreciate the help by commenting!

How to Start Writing a Book

Hello everyone! My name is Savannah and I blog over at The Book Prophet. Joce gave me this great opportunity to write a post on her blog and I decided that I would talk to y’all about the fundamentals of writing a book.

Besides being an avid reader myself, I am also a writer, as many of you probably are as well. Reading and writing kind of go hand-in-hand. If you like reading books, there’s a big chance you love writing them as well! Only, reading a book and writing a book are two very different things.

When you read a book, you’re being carried away to another land, while when you write a book you’re the one to carry people away.

Sounds more difficult, right?

Well, it is.

I’m here to give you that extra push to start writing the book you’ve been imagining in your head since the beginning of time. You might not know where to start, you might be too afraid, or you just might think you can’t do it.

I mean, those are all valid excuses, but they’re stupid excuses too.

I’m here to remedy those doubts because I used to have those doubts.

TBH I still do.

Side note: There’s no particular order to do these steps in.

Choose your project

All projects start with an idea. Once you have an idea, then you can expand that idea and start thinking about what characters would fit into that idea, create a structure for your story, a world, etc.

You might also be wondering how you know if the idea you have is THE idea. Well, little grasshopper, when you find the right project to start you get a tingly feeling in your stomach and you can’t stop thinking about your characters and story!

With the book I’m currently writing, I am always thinking about how my characters would feel in a certain situation, plot points to add or delete, etc. These characters and the story I want to tell is flowing through my veins and when you’re passionate about something, you will write it.

Create your characters

Creating characters that are unique and three dimensional is so hard! Besides world building, creating characters has to be one of the most difficult parts of writing. What helped me create my characters is by filling out a character form (

Filling out all the entire form forced me to learn about my characters from every angle and point of view possible. You never know when you’ll need to tap into your character’s past or delve into their passions and emotions!

These forms not only help you learn about your character, but it also helps remind you of who your character is. I think we all sometimes forget vital aspects to our characters. I for some reason can’t ever remember their birthdays.

Create your setting

Whether your book takes place in a fictional world or a real-life location, you have to have a mental picture of what that world looks like. When you already know what it looks like – and even smells like – then when you get around to describing it in your book, you’ll be both consistent and less stressed.

Having a world where your characters live and thrive and die in is something that’s way more important than you’d think. Depending on where your character lives can change aspects of your character.

For example, if your character lives on a pirate ship they’ll probably know how to fight and will automatically know how to swim! And life on a pirate ship would make anybody kick butt with a sword.

Outline your plot

Outlining isn’t necessary, but it helps a lot once you actually start writing your book. If you don’t have an outline it can feel like you’re walking through a desert with no map or any direction to – anywhere, really. I’ve only outlined one of my books and it’s the book I’ve had the least trouble writing AND the most fun writing! Although outlining isn’t necessary – I’ve heard loads of successful, published authors don’t outline – it does help you from getting writer’s block and from feeling lost in your own book.

I hope this post helped you figure out how to start writing your book! Now go and let the words flow because there’s no better time than today.

Or tomorrow, if you’re a procrastinator like me.

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Did you adore Savannah’s post? Wasn’t it GREAT advice for starting your book? What’s your current WIP? Are you a procrastinator too? Do you love Savannah as much as I do? 

Check Savannah out: Website | Twitter


Author Interview: AJ Aalto (Super Fun Psycho Thriller + Sci-Fi Author)

A month or so ago now, I was approached to do an interview with AJ, and I lept at the idea, because… well… I love interviews.  But this one had something special, because AJ was in the process of releasing Closet Full of Bones, a psycho-thriller that sounds absolutely WONDERFUL (I’ll share more details after the interview).  Right away, my interview with AJ was awesome, and it certainly didn’t let me down.  Her sense of humor, wittiness, and honest answers made her super fun to talk to, and so make sure you read the interview and then find out more about her book!!

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Q: Hi AJ! Thank you so much for spending your time answering questions for us.  How would you describe Closet Full of Bones in your own words?

AJ: The book started germinating years ago when a person very close to me was being stalked by an ex. The trauma spread throughout this person’s family and friends. Even coworkers were affected by the strain. There wasn’t a single part of this person’s life that didn’t become tainted. When I had my own stalking incident, the book became a way or purging all those negative feelings onto the page.

Q: In Closet Full of Bones, the main character’s dream has been to open an “artists’ retreat”.  Is this a personal dream that you have had? Also, have you ever been to one before, because it seems pretty neat!

AJ: I’m not sure I’d be up for hosting a B&B full of writers or painters, because that would mean I had to make so much coffee and tea and not drink it all myself, and that just seems unfair, but I have entertained the occasional thought of doing some kind of workshop thing once I get over a crippling case of impostor syndrome.

Q: Imposter syndrome!! As someone who desperately wants to write a book, I find it hard to believe that anyone ACTUALLY PUBLISHED, MULTIPLE TIMES, would feel that way.  When you were in the process of writing and querying, and even now, how do you deal with that sense of doubt?

AJ: I…don’t deal with it. LOL. I cram it in a box in my head and let it fester there until the fetid gasses build up and explode, and I have a momentary meltdown. Then I need some cake and the cycle begins again.

Q: Your latest book is a much different genre than you wrote before.  Why did you decide to change genres?

AJ: I like keeping things fresh, and, after all of the emotional heavy lifting of the last couple of Marnie Baranuik Files stories, stepping into something entirely separate gave me a chance to be free of all the world-building I’d done, and challenge myself in a genre I’ve enjoyed reading for years and years.

Q: Your overall review ratings on Amazon are AMAZINGLY HIGH.  What is your reaction when you read rave reviews?

AJ: I hyperventilate and ask my husband or my editor to read it to make sure they’re actually saying nice things, and not being mean and sneaky in a way I’m too wound up to notice. Once that’s been ruled out, I grab my cat and boogie around my office, shaking my booty and mortifying my children.

Q: Hahaha that’s such a perfect reaction 🙂 Have your kids read any of your work?

AJ: No way, man. There’s dirty stuff.

Q: Where do you get inspiration for your writing?

AJ: A lot of the things in CLOSET FULL OF BONES were inspired by real-life events I’ve experienced either first hand or through my friends and family. The thing with the bear trap is mostly wishful thinking, because people keep cutting through my garden.

Q: Are there any authors that you look up to, or try to model your work after?

AJ: I’m pretty short so I look up to everybody. As for authors, I admire Ann Rule, both Kellermans, Stephen King, Patricia Cornwell, and Barbara Michaels.

Q: What does a typical “day in the life” look like?

AJ: Alarm goes off at 4 AM. I swat at it like a cat on quaaludes until my husband shoves me out of bed so he can go back to sleep. I slouch upstairs to make some tea, mutter blackly at whatever manuscript I’ve got going on for a little while, get my kids ready for school, do some research and/or homework (since I’m in school myself pursuing a degree in criminal psychology & behaviour), and harangue my long-suffering editor until it’s time to start making dinner. Afterwards, I might frag some noobs in World of Warcraft, read for pleasure, fail at Sudoku puzzles, or watch TV.

Q: Omg I love Sudoku! I went through a phase where all I got for my birthday were Sudoku puzzles and I would finish them all in a few days…

AJ: I sometimes do NOT finish them, and then I cheat and look at the answers in the back.

Q: Do you think your criminal psychology background helped you to write Closet Full of Bones?

AJ: No, I haven’t been in school long enough for it to affect the book. I wrote Closet Full Of Bones in November 2016, and started school in May 2017. But I’ve always been interested in certain pathologies and I read a lot of True Crime; that likely helped.

Q: When you are writing about character’s emotions during a “scary scene” is it hard to get the wording just right, or does it feel natural how your characters will react?

AJ: I’m a highly paranoid and anxious person, so reaching down to explore fear is never a problem.

Q: How old were you when you took an interest in writing?

AJ: I was a wee little sprout, but the first time I tried writing my own story was at the age of 13.

Q: Do you need to be in a specific mindset to write, or does it come out anywhere?

AJ: I can make myself write in just about any mood, but some of them are a lot more productive than others when it comes to word count or revisions.

Q: Pretend you could never write again.  Obviously, it would be devastating for you and all of your readers, but what would you decide to do (either as a career or a hobby) instead?

AJ: I could totally be a farmer or a serial killer or maybe a trophy wife.

Q: To clarify, though, you’re going to try out the serial killer life before trying to be a trophy wife 😉

AJ: Well, I’d probably have to go shopping for nice clothes to be a trophy wife, but serial killers can get away with yoga pants, right? So I’m all set. But I’ll try farming first. I dig a nice, fresh zucchini.

Q: If you could give one piece of advice to aspiring writers, what would it be?

AJ: Get in a routine, and stick with it. I hate waking up at 4 in the morning, but I have my most productive stretches when I get my butt in the chair every day, and the routine builds on itself.

Thank you so much for doing this interview! I loved talking to you, and now I want to read your book more than ever! (and be friends because you seem awesome)

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Closet Full of BonesEver since they were children, Gillian Hearth has been her sister Frankie’s guardian, her sounding board, and her best friend. Together, the Hearth sisters quietly bury their secrets and form a formidable team during any crisis. Purchasing the old Blymhill house with the hopes of turning it into an artists’ retreat, the sisters are finally living their dream. But when Frankie’s stable ground is rattled by a vengeful ex-boyfriend, an unstable friend from the past shows up unannounced with delusions of intimacy, and a cold case cop starts sniffing around their door, the sisters are forced to wonder how far they will go to keep their secrets safe.
Gillian discovers that, this time, her fight is about to land her in the crosshairs of a dangerous predator who will use any means necessary to remove her from the equation. With everything she holds dear under threat, Gillian battles to keep her head above water and her skeletons in the closet.

Buy on Amazon | Add on Goodreads

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Author AJ Aalto.jpg

AJ Aalto is the author of the paranormal mystery series The Marnie Baranuik Files. Aalto

is an unrepentant liar and a writer of  blathering nonsense offset by factual gore. When not working on her novels, you can find her singing Monty Python songs in the shower, eavesdropping on perfect strangers, stalking her eye doctor, or failing at one of her fruitless hobbies. Generally a fan of anyone with a passion for the ridiculous, she has a weak spot for smug pseudo-intellectuals and narcissistic jerks; readers will find her work littered with flawed monsters and oodles of snark.

AJ cannot say no to a Snickers bar and has been known to swallow her gum.

Author Website | Amazon Profile | Goodreads Profile

I hope you enjoyed reading this interview as much as I did, and don’t hesitate to read Closet Full of Bones (which came out May 30th) or any of her other previously published books!! I think CFoB is free with Kindle Unlimited!!!!!

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Did you enjoy this interview? Would you read CFoB?  Would you rather be a trophy wife or a serial killer? 


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~ Now Venture out and Change the World ~

Author Interview: Khaled Talib (His Book Comes Out Today!!)

Last week, I had the pleasure of interviewing Khaled Talib about his new book, Incognito, which is coming out today!! I really enjoyed hearing more about what the book is going to be about, and getting a little insight into who Khaled is as a person.  Hopefully you find it interesting too!!

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Me: Hi Khaled!  Thank you so much for joining me today on the blog!! I’m so excited to have a chance to talk to you and hear more about both your writing and you in general.  Can you tell us a little bit about what your new book, Incognito, is about?

Khaled: Incognito is a thriller about three mysterious specialists who are officially dead. They include a former SAS soldier, an ex-French female military officer and an American fugitive.

These people have been additionally trained by The League of Invisible Knights, a covert division of Anonymous that aims to bring about the triumph of good over evil. Their mission: find the Pope who is missing.

The bulk of the story takes place in Switzerland and Italy with smaller scenes in neighboring countries.

Me: That sounds really exciting!! How did you get your inspiration for the story?

Khaled: I’ve been reading some of the Pope’s statements about Islam. I started doing some research into Catholicism. Interestingly, I discovered that the Vatican considers Muslims and Jews as members of the “brotherly faith.”

This sense of affinity is a far cry from the days of the Crusades. The reason is because the Vatican made changes to its doctrines between the late 1950s and early 1960s during the Vatican II. During this time, the Catholic religous leaders met and discussed revisions to their religion.

This discovery encourage me further to write a novel with a focus on Islamophobia. But while I was inspired by the Pope’s statements, I wasn’t sure how and where to start until a chance encounter with a strange woman one night in Geneva.

I saw her through the window of my hotel room. Tall and wearing black, she stood under a street lamp. She just stood there staring into the blankness. Later, I left my room to go downstairs. I saw the same woman at the empty foyer. She gave me a cold, hard stare. I ran back up the stairs and locked myself in the room.

You need a password to open the hotel’s door entrance. How did she get it? She reminded me so much of Mrs. Baylock, the character from The Omen. I realized there and then I had a story.  I even gave her a nickname.

During another visit, I trekked a Swiss mountain. A woman started talking to me. She was friendly in the beginning, but she got worked up all of a sudden and pointed to the direction of Italy. She told me the Vatican was responsible for many of  Europe’s problems. I began to read more about the Vatican, from news clippings to blog articles. And that was how Incognito was born.

Me: Wow, that’s crazy.  It’s almost like your real life experiences could just be made into a book!! You talked a lot about islamophobia and the Vatican in your description.  Do you feel Incognito will be controversial, or did you aim for a more neutral standpoint?

Khaled: I won’t divulge this aspect of the story as it forms part of the mystery. But I do hint that the media has failed to act responsibly in managing the news.

Me: Ooooh that sounds exciting!!! One of my biggest problems when I try to write fiction is that I copy people who I know in real life. Do you find that you take inspiration from close friends and family in your piece? Would any of them recognise themselves?

Khaled: You know something? I’ve never taken inspiration from anyone close to me. I tend to observe people in passing. I think it’s because when you meet someone for the first time, you’ll start to build an impression. But if you’ve known someone for a while, you’re not really observing them. There is no mystery. Nothing to surprise you.

Me: That’s a good way to look at it, and I love all of your talk of mystery.  So, what does a typical “day in the life” look like? 

Khaled: I spent about fourteen hours a day writing and rewriting my manuscript. That doesn’t leave me much time for a social life. But I do go out sometimes, otherwise you’ll go crazy being a recluse. I don’t have a choice. This is the life of a writer. You have to be ruthless with your time. I do jog every alternate day because sitting down all the time is not healthy.

I also spent a lot of time on social media promoting my books. I don’t consider it part of work as I enjoy spending time talking to fellow writers and readers.  Anyway, the weather in Singapore is humid and the whole island is crowded. It’s a chore to go out. You have to get in line everywhere you go whether it’s the post office or a cafe. I actually avoid going to the post office on certain days because I know there’ll be a crazy queue. Who needs that? I’d rather sit down and do some writing.

I worked on two manuscripts since last year. Just today, I received an offer to publish my romantic thriller, Gun Kiss, by Imajin Books, a publishing house in Canada owned by bestselling author, Cheryl Tardif.

The story is about an A-list Hollywood movie star who gets kidnapped by an obsessed drug lord.

Me: That’s awesome!! 14 hours a day writing is insane, I don’t know how you have that motivation.  You live in Singapore?  That’s definitely a very different experience than in the United States.  What’s one country in the world you would want to visit, if you could?

Khaled: Only one? So many places I haven’t visited, but the one place would be Greece. I’m a big fan of Greek food, and I honestly don’t care who created baklavas, whether it was the Greeks or Turks. I’m neutral to the debate. Baklavas are a popular dessert in the Middle East too.

I have to visit Mykonos and Santorini and some of the exotic islands. Everyone raves about these places, and I haven’t had the pleasure of visiting them. I have to. I must.

As I understand, there’s also a plan to rebuild the Colossus of Rhodes. I hope it’s ready by the time I visit, but I can’t wait. Might visit earlier.

Me: That’s really really cool. It sounds like you’re very into history as well?

Khaled: Yes, I’m a big fan of history. I was pretty excited to have visited Turkey. I booked a tour to Troy and spent a day there with two other tourists. There were broken Roman relics scattered all over the place, and we even saw remnants of the Trojan palace.

The place was breezy and cloudy, and there was something haunting about the whole experience. I thought how ironical that after so much hype on Troy from the movies, all that’s left of the place were a bunch of rocks and like more than thirty cats roaming the place.

You know, I used to live in Egypt where I worked as a writer for a magazine.  I must’ve seen the pyramids like a gazillion times. After a while you get jaded seeing it. But now I missed it. I mean, you come to the place and stand before their grandness. For a moment, it might mean nothing to you because it’s right there in your time and space. But you have to realize these monuments were built thousands of years ago. They were created at a different time, by a people who no longer exist. Their history is so powerful that even holy scriptures talk about it.

I supposed if I could go back in time, I’d like to check out some countries and talk to some famous people. Like Bill and Ted. Maybe even bring them back!

Me: Jaded from seeing the pyramids!?!?! That’s such a unique life experience that I will probably never relate to. *sobs internally* You said there were tons of cats and that got me thinking– are you a cat person or a dog person?

Khaled: I’m a cat person, but I’m not anti dog. Do you know that I have saved the lives of several cats? For some strange reason I always find lost cats. They come rushing up to me, and I know immediately they are lost. In every case, I managed to find their owners. I have also arranged for cats to migrate to new forever homes, and I checked on them. Let’s just say they’re having a great, bum life, which is good.

Me: That’s so sweet, it’s amazing to have the opportunity to rescue an animal. Do you own any cats of your own?

Khaled: I used to, but not anymore. It’s a sad story. But there’s a cat in my thriller, and it’s based on one of my cats, a black and white. I used his real name in the novel. 😊

Me: Awww that’s such an amazing tribute to your cat!!!  Okay, last question: what advice would you want to give other aspiring writers?

Khaled: Don’t give up. Don’t be stubborn. Listen to your editors. It’s always good to be cool and keep an open mind. Expect to slog. And after all that, you’re going to get rejected, and it’s going to make you feel low and worthless. There will be people who will doubt your abilities. You have to trust your inner voice. Are you a writer or not? You know who you really are.

Me: That’s great advice!!  Thank you so much for doing the interview, I loved talking with you 🙂

Khaled: Thank you, Joce. Drop by anytime. 😊

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Incognito 453x680Pope Gregoire XVII was last seen waving to the crowd at Saint Peter’s square from the famous Apostolic Palace window. Despite several layers of tight security, neither the Gendarmerie nor The Entity (the Vatican’s secret service) or the Swiss Guards claim to know anything about his sudden mysterious disappearance.

As the world mourns for the pope, a frantic search begins in Italy and beyond its borders amid speculation that the Holy See may know more than they are telling.

Ayden Tanner, a former British SAS commando officer — who is officially dead — is dispatched with two other crew members to find the Supreme Pontiff by The League of Invisible Knights, a covert division of Anonymous that aims to bring about the triumph of good over evil.

A secret arrangement is made for Ayden to meet Rafael Rabolini, the Papacy’s press secretary, in Geneva, who might be able to tell him more. But trouble unexpectedly starts from the moment Ayden arrives in the city that winter day…

The story unfolds to reveal an insidious plot by Willem Van Der Haas, a ruthless Dutch senator who has aligned himself with a world power bent on its own global ambitions.

In a gasping chase that races from the snowy mountains of Switzerland to the secret passages under Saint Peter’s Basilica to the hilly terrains of Istanbul to the harsh desert air of Egypt, Ayden and his crew are forced to match wits with lethal assassins as they struggle on a desperate quest to prevent a terrifying tomorrow.

A tumult of intrigue, action, suspense from the author of Smokescreen.

Buy on Amazon | Buy on Kobo

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Khaled Talib_Author Photo

Khaled Talib is a former magazine journalist and public relations practitioner.  His articles have been published and syndicated to newspapers worldwide, and his short stories have appeared in literary journals and magazines. He is also the author of the thriller Smokescreen, and Incognito. Khaled is a member of the International Thriller Writers and Crime Writers Association.

Author’s Official Website:



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I hope you all enjoyed the interview!! I love supporting authors, and it’s especially special that I get to post this on his publishing day.  Please support and check Khaled out on Twitter, his website, or just plain buy the book.

Where would you want to travel in the world? Are you a cat person or a dog person? Did you enjoy the interview? Have you read Smokescreen? Would you read Incognito? Are you bored of all of these questions? Let’s Talk!