Building Believable Characters

One of the hardest elements for new writers to try and overcome is how to develop realistic, relatable characters, so, I thought I’d talk a little bit about how I overcome this particular hurdle.

When I was a teenager, I found inspiration for storylines by listening to music. (Groundbreaking, I know. Quick, write that down!) I would play my favourite, most dramatic emo songs, and imagine exciting scenes that would go along with them. This was obviously back in the days where we didn’t have iPads to watch during long car rides, so making movies in my head was the best way to pass the long trip through London traffic to glamorous holidays in Sunny Grimsby. I say this with no bitterness, it was one of my favourite things to do and honestly it’s the reason why I enjoy long journeys so much even now. Though, now that I’m the driver, I get frowned upon for disappearing into fantasy worlds while on the motorway. There’s just no room for magic in todays world…

Anyway, as a result of this, coming up with storylines was easy for me; I would just stitch together my imaginary music videos and they would make the premise for my story. Where I struggled was in filling the gaps with conversations and believable characters. I tended to lean on personalities that I enjoyed reading about. Needless to say, the main protagonist was usually some kind of sassy, feminist badass working alongside a handsome anti-hero, tormented vampire-esque chap. Basically, just my deluded image of myself and my future boyfriend. (The real-life me was an awkward arty-type shovelling ice cream in her mouth while cranking to Twilight for the billionth time…)

Aaaaanyway… the premise was fine, but the characters were all inevitably 2D because I was basing them on characters I had already read about. Truthfully, I think this is something most artists do to some extent, including me, because we create what inspires us. It’s okay to base your characters on the types of heroes you’ve had in the past, but what takes them from stick-men with pointy teeth to actual, real life people?

Get ready to get that pen back out people…

Base them on people you know in real life!

Okay, okay…again, not groundbreaking. But hear me out!

Basing a character on someone you know personally is more complicated than you might initially think. If it’s not done right, they can end up as 2D as any knock-off fictional character.

For example, I had a best friend as a teen who was pretty much exactly the kind of female protagonist I could only dream of being. She was beautiful, funny, sassy and alternative. She wore punky clothes, make up, face piercings, and pulled it all off without looking like an attention-seeking emo kid. Mostly.

But, what I’ve just described is literally all there was to her. On the surface, she should have been an easy character to write, but there was nothing deeper for me to draw from that would make her a relatable character. For the record, she wasn’t a bad person, just kinda shallow. But hey, she was getting laid and I wasn’t so, she was obviously getting something right.

On the other hand, I spent a few years living with my Irish Grandmother. On the surface, just your average Nan, elderly, caring, had unnecessarily hard furniture… not very interesting. But, she had more depth and quirks than pretty much anyone I know. Something I only realised when I would tell stories about her to my friends. Nan had so much that defined her; she had beautiful hands despite her age, but when she whacked you for eating your third KitKat in one sitting, it was like being hit with a plank of wood. She would sit forward and crook her finger at me to beckon me closer, even if I was sat next to her, because she didn’t want God to hear her gossiping. She would watch the window instead of the TV because if she caught that ‘ole bastard’ parking in her neighbours spot again she was going out there. She loved animals so much that she once ‘adopted’ a cat from our neighbour because she didn’t think they were treating it right. The fact that I’m allergic to cats was apparently a non-issue.

(I did sneak the cat back into it’s garden but he kept coming back to our house so I figured by then that maybe my Nan was on to something.)

My point is, to make a character believable, you need to dig much deeper than the surface characteristics. Don’t just look at the people in your life for the standard traits. What makes them special? Or strange? Or, in some cases, a little loose with the laws of animal abduction?

When you see these people in your minds eye, what stands out in your memory about them? That is what will make them memorable to your readers.

Boom. Pen drop.

Take care,


Dealing with Delays

Has anyone ever noticed how we are surrounded by media that promotes us making our dreams come true? I keep hearing the theme song for the new(er) Pokémon, series ‘Journey starts today…’ playing around in my head.

Hmm, actually maybe it’s not all media, just what my son consumes…

Anyway, when we’re working towards a goal, or a dream for us romantics, it can quickly become all consuming. To the point where we can begin to feel guilty and like failures when we aren’t able to dedicate as much time as usual to achieving that goal. This is kind of where I am at the moment; I’ve mentioned regularly about my new job and the training, blah, blah, blah… and though I’ve had a few moments of inspiration and managed to release one story this year, I find myself getting anxious because I fear my dream is sliding through my fingers like sand.

I can’t get off the train I’m on, it’s the source of my financial stability. As the crippling cost of living rises, I’m not afforded the luxury of turning down opportunities to make more money. However, I feel frustrated because I genuinely (perhaps delusion-ally) believe my books will make a living income if I can just get enough of them out. But the time I need to dedicate to get them there would leave me with a huge gap of time where I got no muneh. I’d love to be a fly on the wall for the child services conversation where my son explains, ‘It’s okay, Mummy is going to start buying food again as soon as she’s famous for writing her sex books.’

But here’s what I’ve started to realise; slowing down does not mean stopping. Yes, my traction is slower, but this is only for a year. I can’t allow my frustration to develop into defeat, I’m not done.

Delays are inevitable, but if we allow ourselves as writers or dreamers to give up when life slows us down, the only guarantee we have is that we really won’t make it. We have to try not to get to caught up in the moment and remember that this is all part of the journey. (Which, according to Ash and his pals, starts today-ay.) There will be good years and bad years, and they’ll all make compelling stories for when I’m so highly regarded I’ll be asked to do a Ted Talk on what it takes to be smut writer. Watch this space.

Myley Cyrus famously sang, ‘Ain’t about how fast I get there, ain’t about what’s waiting on the other side. It’s the climb.’

I don’t know how appropriate it is for me to make a ‘it’s the cli-MAX’ joke here, but I’ll leave it with you all to play with at your leisure…

Take care,


Happy Mother’s Day!

I just wanted to wish all the wonderful Mothers out there a very happy Mothers Day.

We have an idea that all the mothers in the UK today will be opening presents, sipping mimosas and going for Sunday Roast with their smiling and adoring children around their legs.

But there are some mothers out there who don’t have anyone to buy a card on behalf of their kids. Who are now sitting on the sofa with baby vomit in their hair, still awake since 3am this morning. No one is going to make them tea or breakfast in bed, and they won’t be going for dinner for a good few years.

So, this message is especially for you. The unsung mothers. You’re all hero’s, and you are all the sun itself to these relentless screaming creatures in your arms. They love you, and though they can’t say it for themselves yet, they are lucky to have you.

On behalf of all children, ‘Thank you, Mum. You’re doing great.’

Lure of the Lake Monster

I like it as a title, it’s more subtle than what I usually go for. Besides, Mr Strange vetoed ‘Lake Flaccid,’ ‘The Legend of Booby Creak,’ and ‘It Came in the Lake.’

Hello, readers!

Welcome to another post where I talk shamelessly about my latest story release. Get ready for a rollercoaster ride of fun, puns and plugs! (Plugs for my story, not like, the anal kind.)

So, I decided to explore a few different tropes that I could stretch my writing muscles with in this story, and I hope they all translate well. First, I’ve set the story in the mid-nineties, a time where everything was about slashers and horrors and cliches. I enjoyed this because, even though it’s subtle, I had to find particular nuances to make it work, and there were pitfalls I needed to avoid too. You have no idea how hard it is to remember that your characters can’t just update their Facebook status to #sadtho every time one of their friends dies, since they didn’t all have mobile phones.

Speaking of cliches, if you read my story you’ll hopefully enjoy the very obvious ones I’ve threaded in. The characters are meant to be a parody of the horror films that debuted at that time, so they’re very blatant in their roles.

Okay, on to the good stuff: the alien-monster sex. So, yeah, this is was new for me. I ended up doing a lot of research about aquatic mythological monsters, popular representations of similar figures, even a little about alien races and theories behind where they are, where they’ve come from etc. I always do this when I write a story because I just feel more secure in the idea that things just make more sense if there is some factual foundations in there.

I also read a lot about kinks surrounding monsters, merfolk, aliens etc and tried to portray the allure with as much understanding as possible. I hope it comes across.

I actually had Mr Strange read the paragraph where I describe the monsters cock and then draw it based on my description so I could see if it looked like what I had pictured.

It did not. So, I went back over this a few times, trying to ensure it sounded strange but still attractive. I think I got there after a few tweaks.

Get it? It just took a little tweaking of the monster dick to get where it needed to be? This is exactly why Mr Strange gets to veto my titles. And won’t play Pictionary with me anymore.

The long and the short of it (honestly, I don’t even do this on purpose!) is my new story is now available on Amazon on a free promotion for five days. If you download it I’d love a review so I can get your take on it!

While chasing the famed whale, Ishmael said, ‘To produce a mighty book, you must choose a mighty theme. No great and enduring volume can ever be written on the flea, though many there be who have tried it.’

Well, what did he know? That guy was nuts!

Take care,


P.S. Can anyone spot the cameo of one of my other main characters hidden in this story? 😉

Writing Erotica: A few things I’ve learned so far…

Okay, so I’ve been at this gig for a while now and, since I started out, I’ve learned some helpful tips that I thought I’d share. I should point out that these are about independent, self-published books, so may not be relevant to everyone.

I’d also like to preface this by saying that, though I trained in writing at University, it was a very broad course covering all kinds of writing, not just strictly creative. So, I am in no way an expert, and I’m sure there will be things in this list that some of you will respond with, ‘Show, don’t tell? That’s amazing- write that down for me Strange!’ Before promptly slapping me in the face with your notebook.

With that said, here are my top (amateur) tips for writing erotica:

1) Show, don’t tell.

Just kidding! Though seriously, that shit is pure gold. Can you believe I only heard that phrase about a year ago? If you’re new to writing and haven’t been introduced to that concept, look it up, it’ll change your life.

1) Write what you know.

Sounds obvious, sure. But, if you’re anything like me, you’ll get through a few chapters of writing before you realise you actually don’t know as much as you may have thought. I’m not saying anyone here isn’t very intelligent, I’m sure you all are. But what if, for example, you decide to write a sexy story based in some incredibly exotic location, then you start describing the setting only to remember you’ve never actually been to Brazil and you can’t really draw enough information from the penultimate Twilight film to describe the setting.

With that in mind, write what you know. If you want to set a story in a really exciting location, try and draw on things that you’ve experienced in places you have been. Don’t limit yourself by needing specific details, build a story around the specifics that you have experienced and would want to experience again. Went for a great meal in your home town? Describe it as if you were explaining it to someone from another country who had never tried it. In love with the view from a local landmark? Write about it a if it’s the most unique and exotic thing in the world.

2) Research what you don’t.

Again, seems obvious. And, if we were talking about most genres of fiction, I would say it was. But I know when I started writing erotica I relied heavily on things I had already experienced as the broad basis for my stories. I mean, you’ve either had sex or you haven’t, right? It didn’t occur to me straight away that it was a good tool in my box (mind out of the gutter people. I’m tryin’ to be academic here!) to get some research to empower my stories further. For example, when I wrote the last instalment of Beast of Backar – The Hunt – I ended up doing loads of research about the Russian Revolution, stolen artefacts etc, and it didn’t even take me that long. But it gave the story so much more depth and the erotic parts were all the more enjoyable for it.

3) Literally everyone always judges books by their covers. Always.

Come on, be honest; we all do it. Before you publish anything, look at what books that are selling well have on the cover. What makes them stand out? Take notes, it definitely makes a difference. Also, think about what you look for when choosing a book. Would you pick up an erotic story if it had a picture of a giant penis on the front? Well, then don’t put one on your cover!

3) Brush up on your skiiiiiiiiiiills.

Not everyone who writes has had the money to attend loads of courses. That’s okay, but there are endless free resources these days that you can access for free to help you up skill yourself. I follow loads of blogs and vlogs from established and starter writers to learn as much as I can about my craft so that I’m always improving. This also comes back to the cover design- if you don’t know how to create a professional and appealing cover, look it up. I promise these things will be well worth your time.

4) Manage your expectations

So, you’ve researched your story, you’ve got well rounded characters and exciting settings. The sex scenes are hot and steamy. You’re ready to start your new life as an erotic author. Goodbye, grind! Goodbye office friends I never really liked that much!

Yeeeeaaaaah. Don’t print your letter of resignation just yet. I hoped I would be making enough money from my stories within about six months for me to quit work and write full time from home.

Stupid girl!

I made a grand total of £8 in the first month and the money just kept trickling in. Two years later, well…let’s just say I’m not living it up like E L James. There are several reasons for this in my case. (The writings fine, by the way. 🤨) BUT – first of all; who da hell are you? You’ve got to work up and build a name for yourself. Once you’ve had a fair few titles out that have done well, people start looking out for you, but that takes time. Also, if you publish through Amazon like I do, the percentage they take is, frankly, outrageous. But I console myself with the knowledge that at least my work is being read, where if I went through traditional means, it quite possibly wouldn’t. That’s not to say you shouldn’t use traditional publishing, you gotta do you after all.

5) Stick with it!

Following on from the last point, don’t give up!What separates the writers who can write full time and the ones that can’t (other than actual ability in some cases) is that they stuck it out. At first you’ll be like, well duh. I can write forever! But when you actually publish all those ideas that had been burning in your brain for years, that’s when the real work starts. Finding new inspiration, investigating what’s selling, keeping up the standards. Yeah, your hobby is now your job, and that changes things. This is when you’ll know if it’s really what you want to do. Me? I’m just now at the point where I’m making about three figures a month even when I don’t release anything, which I’m very proud of. And yeah, it’s hard, but I’m sticking with it until the AI’s price me out of the industry.

6) Try not to take reviews to heart.

Unless they’re good. Then let them inflate your ego to totally disproportionate expanses!

Seriously though, I’ve had a few reviews that stung. I’m not pretending that I’m the best writer in the world. I’m not saying my books will change your life. I had an idea and I just put it out there in case someone else might enjoy it. Problem is, if you put something into the public sphere, you have to accept that people are going to comment and may be quite harsh: it just comes with the territory. If you can’t handle the heat, best you get out of the kitchen. Also, there have been times when I’ve learned something from my less than glowing reviews, and I take that as a positive.

Well, I think that’s pretty much it from me at the moment. All in all, I love what I do because I get to be creative and saucy all in one outlet. I hope this has been even a little bit helpful for some of you.

Check back again soon for more ground-breaking revelations from a somewhat established indie sex-writer.

Take care,


In The Defence of Winter

Disclaimer: this post is neither funny nor about writing. It’s actually just my thoughts on a subject. Just a heads up. 🙂

I make no secret of the fact that I am an Autumn/Winter girl at heart. But if I’m completely honest, Autumn is my favourite of the two seasons. I’m something of a spiritual person and nature is definitely my church. To me, Autumn is the time when the world is growing quieter, yet magic and mystery are more alive than ever, blazing like fire in darkening evenings. Waiting in the shadows like playful spooks. It’s fun and exciting.

Then the winter comes along. It gently sprinkles its own subtle magic over everything it touches. You can see the world glittering, turning as delicate as glass at the fluttering brush of Winter’s cold fingertips. It smiles soothingly, chuckling at the irony of the misconceptions that surround it. Winter does not bring death, just much needed sleep.

Society today gets quickly swept up in the excitement of seasonal celebrations, so we enjoy the winter for those reasons. We embrace warm jumpers, fluffy blankets, hot chocolates, large dinners, gift giving etc. But it is all over too quickly, and before long, it is January.

And then the wait begins. We sit and pine for the sun, eager for Spring to hurry and save us from the seemingly endless wasteland of winter.

I get it, sometimes I feel the same way. But I try to remind myself to be grateful for these slower months. To take time to just be inside with the ones I love, without the need for a tree laden with pretty boxes. Still cuddle up and stay warm together, talk to each other, listen to each other.

Yes, winter is quiet, slow and cold. But it is also so beautiful just as it is. It forces us to accept what is utterly beyond our control, and therefore to be grateful for what we have. Try not to wish it away, but instead, embrace it, revel in the gift of these moments of peace.

Take care,


My view of a stunning Winter sunrise from the train to work

Creative Explosion!

Hello, readers!

This is more of a quick update than anything else, but I’m finally in a headspace for writing again and I’m so excited that I needed to share!

Since starting my new job role in the later part of last year, I’ve been a lot busier at work. This is something that I’ve been wrestling with; I never expected to progress in that job, I mostly just show up so I can support my family and pay for a house to write smut in.

Secretly though, I am passionate about certain aspects about my job, and I was offered an opportunity to have an impact in an area I really care about, so I took it. I’ve mentioned before that the role comes with longer hours, extra responsibility and a Masters level training course. As a result, my stress levels have been through the roof and my writing capabilities have been almost zero.

This weekend though, I submitted my first assignment, and it’s like my brain was suddenly freed of a massive weight. I had a clear direction for my story, and banged out 1,000 words in less than half hour. I’m now really excited about the way it’s going.

I also designed my entire kitchen remodel, new garden landscape, loft conversion and created a state-of-the-art Pokemon Zoo with Playmobil for my son. The last one was the most impressive.

What about you, dear readers? How are your ventures coming along?

Joseph Chiltern Pearce said, ‘To live a creative life, we must lose our fear of being wrong.’

Never been an issue, JCP.

Take care,


Happy New Year, Everyone!

Just a quick note to say I wish all of you out there a very happy new year!

My Grandparents were from Glasgow, so I have an endearing relationship with Scottish New Years traditions, particularly the loud, passionate chorus of ‘Auld Lang Syne,’ at midnight. As closely as we can translate it, ‘Auld Lang Syne’ means something like, ‘For old times sake.’ I love that song, as do so many of us.

That been said, I’m very much up for whatever new times are waiting ahead. May 2023 bring each and every one of you new, and gloriously sexy adventures!

(Which you can then tell me about so I can market them.)

See you all next year, and as the famous song goes, ‘we’ll tak’ a cup o’ kindness yet, for auld lang syne.’

Ah, the Scottish brogue. As clear today as it was in 1788.

Take care,


Merry Christmas Everyone!

I just wanted to wish anyone out there reading this a very Merry Christmas.

There can be alot of pressure at this time of year to be deliriously happy and get swept up in the spirit. For most of us, that’s fine, wonderful even, but for others, Christmas can be anything to moderately annoying to severely painful, depending on what you’re going through at the time.

To those of you out there who know what I’m talking about, I get it, I’ve been there. Trying to grind out a smile while it feels like your world is collapsing. To you, I wish you love, compassion, warmth and friendship.

Remember, keep your head up and keep believing. As Grandsanta said in Arthur Christmas, ‘They used to say it was impossible to teach women to read.’

Take care,


How to Balance Everything and Look Flawless Doing It…


Hello again, Readers!

It feels like it gets longer and longer between posts at the moment, but that’s largely because I’m moving slower with my writing too.

I’ve mentioned before that I’ve got a new job which actually comes with a massive training course alongside it, so I’m pretty damn busy at the moment.

And let’s not forget that we have officially entered the craziest time of the year: Holiday Season! My family celebrates Christmas and I’m sure we all know just how much that gets in the way of everything else. Have I done any writing today? Nope; I’ve been busy wrapping presents for neighbours I don’t know and relatives I don’t like. Ho, ho, ho!

To be honest, I’m so charmed by the season since I became a Mum that none of the annoying aspects of it bother me at all anymore. I was even blasting the Christmas radio station (oh yeah, that’s a thing) in my car the other day. When I see my boy writing letters, looking out for reindeer, decorating a tree, baking cookies…frankly, you’d be hard pushed to sour my eggnog.

Anyway, back to writing. Because I’ve had to slow down in pretty much every aspect of my life to balance it all, I’ve actually had to look a lot more closely at my writing to make sure I’m using my time effectively. As such, I’ve found another weird niche that I’m quite good at; erotic horror/sci-fi. I’ve done a few stories in this genre before, mostly because the occasion (Halloween) called for it.

But having this time constraint has meant I’ve had to write what comes the most naturally to me, and it seems that the weird stuff is just pouring out of me uncontrollably. It’s my first high school party all over again!

So, I’m currently working on my new Erotic short, tentatively named, ‘Slime Lake.’ Though the title may yet change. It’s an erotic horror and a loving homage to the films I loved in the 90’s. It’s a little tongue in cheek, and a little tongue in anus.

Sorry, I’m in that kind of a mood.

On that note, I leave you with a quote from a British politician who absolutely would not have ended up starring on I’m A Celebritity…

‘Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.’ – Winston Churchill

It should be noted, he was a big drinker, and ‘failure’ may have been code for ‘pub.’

Take care,