Book of the Month: Morale Boosters for Busy Writers

If your energy and enthusiasm for writing, blogging and marketing has left you drained, these quick-read ebooks will help. They are also priced as low as Amazon allows. Books are available in pdf or epub from Cate or from Amazon Kindle. Click on the underlined links for ordering information.

PR3DPhoenix Rising: Conquering the Stresses of the Writer’s Life, addresses the challenges and frustrations of writers in the digital age. It has been written for all genres of writers and all forms of publication. It has been written as a quick-read writer’s companion, with chapter topics that don’t require reading in any set order.

If your creative energy is low, your word count flagging or the downsides of being a writer are taking away your joy, this book will give you new strength and hope with which to spread your wings and find new freedom.

I chose the image and title of the phoenix rising from the ashes in response to the battles writers face. I personally relate to the need to choose to rise upwards: away from the fire and into a clear sky to start again.

Topics include but are not limited to:

  • Measuring the Value of Your Work in a Digital Age
  • Healing Creative Injuries
  • Bomb Proofing Your Writer’s Ego
  • Balancing the Blogging Load
  • Writers and Depression: Debunking the Stereotypes
  • Boosting Your Productivity



3dpthriveIf you buy a copy of this book, you will also receive a free copy of “Phoenix Thriving: Conquering Stress and Burnout in the Blogging Life.”

I frequently hear complaints and pleas for help from highly stressed bloggers. As a coach and fellow writer, I have been doing my best to assist people, then decided to write a helpful ebook. “Phoenix Thriving: Conquering Stress and Burnout in the Blogging Life,” will help to ease the burden of writing, marketing, social media and the annoyances that fly in the faces of online writers.

Some of the topics covered include:

  • Creative myth busting;
  • Placing value on yourself as a writer, despite your level of success;
  • Dealing with writer’s burn out and social media demands;
  • Search Engine Optimisation versus originality;
  • A balanced approach to writing challenges online;
  • Marketing and people connections: the plus side and
  • When is it time to keep or ditch your blog?

To claim your free copy, inside the book, next to the CommuniCATE Resources for Writers blog link, there is a code. Buy the book, find the code (it’s easy, it’s in the first few pages) and email me. I will send you a copy of the new book by email. Your email address will never be sold, compiled for mailing lists, or used in any other manner. So far it is not available on Amazon.




This article / blog post is Copyright Cate Russell-Cole 2014. All rights are reserved Internationally. You may not reproduce it in any form, in part of whole, without Cate’s prior written permission. That includes images and text usage in forms such as print, audio and digital imaging including pdf, jpg, png etc. A fee may be requested for re-using her work if it is for a commercial venture. 

Link sharing and Pinterest pins are most welcome as long as Cate is the attributed Author.

Cate's books for writers.

Cate’s books for writers.

Getting Your Characters Help! The Character Therapist

BLOG BUTTONThis is one of the most original writer’s resource blogs I have discovered, and it’s a goldmine of information on many topics including:

  • romantic scenes, break ups and all the soppy stuff
  • amnesia
  • mental illnesses of all kinds, including some you’ve never heard of
  • attachment
  • character archetypes
  • body image
  • backstory
  • character flaws and criminology
  • comic relief
  • conflict, defence mechanisms etc
  • social issues such as domestic violence, cults,
  • physical illnesses including autism, Down’s Syndrome and many things
  • dialogue and character inconsistency
  • emotional revolution
  • marital issues

… and if those haven’t piqued your interest, go look up Fascination by Mystique, countertransference, the Cotard Delusion, Nazism and Paris Syndrome. Plus, it is Christian friendly.


The blog and accompanying services are run by Jeannie Campbell, who is a licensed and highly experienced marriage and family therapist. She has turned her skills into a helpful resource where she “diagnoses make-believe people” to assist novelists. Jeannie also has a newsletter you can sign up for.

Need more help?

“Creating and Resolving Conflict in Fiction,” dissects conflict into its component parts; looks at how it works and helps you generate conflict plot-lines and themes which will add richness and realism to your work. The principles apply to any kind of fiction, regardless of the length, characters or genre.

CRCF4DimCover3lowresThis book is not a “how to write” text. It is a user-friendly, introductory reference on the topics covered, which will enable you to write about them effectively. You don’t have to read it from cover to cover, it can be used as needed.

Some of the topics covered include:

  • How to Fuel Conflicts and Misunderstandings
  • What Character Traits Go With What Type of Person?
  • Human Behaviour Is All About Patterns
  • Using Power Dynamics
  • Making or Breaking Character Relationships

Available in Kindle and pdf formats from this site:


This article / blog post is Copyright Cate Russell-Cole 2014. All rights are reserved Internationally. You may not reproduce it in any form, in part of whole, without Cate’s prior written permission. That includes usage in forms such as print, audio and digital imaging including pdf, jpg, png etc. A fee may be requested for re-using her work if it is for a commercial venture. 

Link sharing and Pinterest pins are most welcome as long as Cate is the attributed Author.


Inspiring Spaces Blog Hop: Share What Ignites Your Creativity

IMG_1194Writers have to write anywhere and anyhow, to get anything done! Few of us enjoy a proper office, some don’t even have the sole ownership of a desk. I write from the corner of my bedroom. It may not be fancy, but it works (kind of… most of the time). So when I visit blog’s like No Wasted Ink, I drool over the wonderful desks and rooms that Wendy Van Camp shares.

Drooling is often as good as it gets, but it doesn’t mean that I hate my space, or that it inhibits my creativity. I keep objects I love and need close by, including books which I can’t live without. I have my leather bridle and a pile of horse books for novel research; a fake Claymore sword is tucked away where it doesn’t scare the lady who helps me clean the place… a piece of Irish Connemara marble sits on a shelf (as I keep meaning to use it in The Dragon Tree and keep forgetting); I love many coloured pens and pencils so they have to be there and just now, I need the videos I am swatting over, to fix my solar system building problems. Alright, I have a whole heap of sentimental junk too. (Of course that’s the Millennium Falcon. You even had to ask me that?)

Authors who must be present include Natalie Goldberg (Writing Down the Bones); Julia Cameron (The Right to Write and The Sound of Paper); Stephen King’s On Writing; The Idiot’s Guide to Writing Well (fast reference); my Horderns Home Dictionary which some of you have met in olde word posts; books of quotations which are brilliant for kick starting short stories; The Writing Book, by Australian author Kate Grenville; NaNoWriMo’s book, Ready Set Novel; Fiction Writer’s Workshop by Josip Novakovich and Elements of the Writing Craft by Robert Olmstead.

I’m curious, what do you have in your writing space? What do you need to have around you to get into the creative groove?

This is a blog hop. Any of you can grab the logo and kick off from your own blog as well. I am picking ten of my writing buddies (below), pick five or ten of your own and ask them:

~ where do they work and

~ what can’t they write without?

Inspire each other! Use photo, video, any medium desired, which will show off your muse’s playground. The purpose is to discover something in another blogger’s space that inspires you and to share the love around, so blogs are being seen by a new audience. Oh and please mention that the blog hop started here. (Thank you.) Happy hopping!



Tima Maria Lacoba, Jade Reyner, Ciara Ballintyne, Lauralynn Elliott, Shan Jeniah Burton, Kathy Owen, Judy Feather Stone, Karen McFarland, Ruth Nestvold and Skye Fairwin, tag, you’re it!

#Ebook Readability and White Space ~ Thoughts to Ponder

2014-06-09_13-48-28When readers are deciding whether or not to buy a book, it may not just be the cover which puts them off. Stephen King made a great point in “On Writing:” you can tell how hard a book will be to read, by how close together the text is set. Heavy duty stories are crammed in, lighter novels appear more airy. The white space (blank parts of the page), paragraph spacing and layout are telling.

Complex literary works or in-depth fantasy novels, can be almost as painful to wade through as a phone book. I’ve placed books back on the shelf for that reason. I have flicked through, gone cross-eyed and said, “too hard and too heavy.” With ebook example pages, your reader can reject your work the same way. However, there are tricks which make even long books appealing to a reader’s eyes. First let me show you a few examples of what I mean.

Exhibit A: short paragraphs on an A4 computer page, appear as long blocks in an epub or mobi novel.
There is little white space to give your eyes a break. I’ve started saving my files as epub and double checking readability to avoid this problem. A two space indent may not be enough. Shorter paragraphs can also assist.

Don’t forget, reading from a backlit device is different than reading a paper novel. The affects on your eyesight need to be taken into account. A headache means a book will be put down. You can change size, background colour and font in e-readers, but that won’t help you digest big blocks of text.



Exhibit B: An easier to read page, though, some readers may consider this style to be choppy. I have no trouble reading it and it’s a relief to my ageing eyes.


Which layout appeals to you more?
Which gives you a chance to raid the fridge, then re-find the spot where you left off?

Can you believe that both books are by the same author? Publishing Houses don’t necessarily ensure that each ebook is formatted the same way, not even within the same author’s catalogue. That gives us room to move with formatting, as we don’t need to fret about accepted styles. As long as your layout is clean and consistent, you should be able to adapt your own ebook style for practicality. (Though frankly, some sort of set standards would be helpful!)

Experiment as much as you can before you send your book into the Smashwords meatgrinder or upload your document to Amazon. I know you can’t control everything, but if you set your styles right in your document, you have a fighting chance at getting what you want in the final book.

Creative Commons License
This work, created and Copyright Cate Russell-Cole 2014 is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Hunting for the Right “Elements” ~ #Research and #Fantasy


Professor Simon Woodward, from Periodic Videos, discovers that if you drop a few ml of Trimethylaluminium from a syringe onto a glass plate, this is what happens the second it touches normal air!

Have you discovered that you cannot publish book one in a series, until book two is written and all the details are formed coherently? Or is is just me who writes back to front, then has to go back to book one to fix mistakes, multiple times? For some of you, this post may be a cautionary tale on research and book publication expectations.

Lisa Kohn asked me to write a post on my writing process and I was honoured, but declined. It wouldn’t be much of a post. It would simply contain these words: “I binge write and then spend months fixing my boo boos, as I didn’t complete all the background research by the time the story gushed forth. I hope to streamline this chaos in the future.”

It is incredibly easy to paint myself into corners with plot and character arcs. It’s even easier when I am world building. I can spend a great deal of time researching, researching, researching and still miss that one sliver of information which will trip me up. (I’m sure historical novelists grapple with this too.) Though, there is still so much to be discovered scientifically, maybe, in the future, I will be the one who was right? Who knows?

I have been trying to make a planet glow with a soft, golden hue. So I took Saturn as a model and exchanged its ice rings for rock rings, which have small chunks of gold embedded in them. The sun hits the rings, the gold reflects onto the surface. It’s simple, right? All the gold on Earth comes from meteorite strikes on the planet. Gold is not naturally produced on Earth. Just leave the gold in it’s rocky celestial homes, it glitters and I’m done. Easy!

I checked the astronomy and it seemed fine… then I got distracted by the Periodic Videos on Youtube and discovered a major flaw in my plan. The gold in meteorites or astroids is not found in chunks big enough to create a glow. Rocks only contain tiny trace fragments of gold, which to make matters worse, are also far more likely to be embedded inside, not sticking out. In other words, no self-respecting meteorite trails gold dust through space. It’s tacky to flaunt your wealth. I can only make my plan work if I make it far more subtle and use a fair whack of poetic licence. The guesswork is, how much licence is too much?


Dr Sheldon Cooper would be disgusted with me. Being called derivative would be the least of the issues he’d expound upon. ;-)

I have studied astronomy and geology, never in my wildest dreams did I think to double check any of my science with chemistry! I didn’t take that subject at school and I am clueless. Once I add chemistry in, writing gets much more complex. I had also built in a layer of gas in the planet’s atmosphere to stop the gold hue being blinding, then watched the Trimethylaluminium video (image above) and realised that if I didn’t get the gas choice right, my pretty sky with gold flecks peeking through the blue, was more likely to become “come on baby, light my fire,” KABOOM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Darn it! That layer was eliminated before it took out the planet. At least I saved lives.

Many areas of astronomy are theories, even though the science is presented as fact. You have to dig to find out what is substantiated and what isn’t. There is room for invention: at least until they can set their theories in stone. (Pun not intended!) I had no idea that they can make anti-matter in the form of molecules. I thought that was just Star Trek, but it’s real. I’m learning. I know that if I get the science close enough, the work should be sufficiently plausible to be acceptable to most readers. The best I can do is try and research across as many scientific disciplines and sources as I can, which is great as it means that I will also come up with more ideas (or problems). However it also means, my publication process time is significantly expanded and I need to learn to deal with that and be patient.

So for those of you who have shown interest in when The Dragon Tree is coming out, the answer is, I have no idea. I have to sort out book two or I am sunk! At the moment I have to find an easily harvestable energy source which is eco-friendly. Setting aside the saga of the Hindenberg, I know from astronomy that hydrogen is the most plentiful element in the cosmos, so I am exploring that. Just keep the hydrogen away from flames and oxygen and secure it properly. How hard can it be? After the gold discovery, I am betting it is harder than I think. Imagine the reaction below on a mass scale, plus the saga of hydrogen storage…

So, what do you do to stop your writing from painting you into a corner and leading to horrendous book reviews? I’d love to hear about your adventures in the comments.


This article / blog post is Copyright Cate Russell-Cole 2014. All rights are reserved Internationally. You may not reproduce it in any form, in part of whole, without Cate’s prior written permission. That includes images and text usage in forms such as print, audio and digital imaging including pdf, jpg, png etc. A fee may be requested for re-using her work if it is for a commercial venture. 

Link sharing and Pinterest pins are most welcome as long as Cate is the attributed Author.

Taking Descriptions A Step Further: Metaphorically Speaking

I  wrote myself off as a lousy fiction writer for years, because I struggle with descriptions. I love to read epic fantasy with settings so vivid, you can smell the air the characters are breathing. However, I am discovering that that kind of writing is not representational of my voice.

Kristen Lamb recently wrote an excellent post which is very helpful for those of us who can’t write like the greatest descriptive writers. She discusses using the character’s point of view, to weave descriptions into your work and how much is enough. Please check it out here then be inspired by this video!

Your First Novel Will Stink! True or False?

Dragon Tree Cover5aaMonths ago I wrote a post talking about why I deliberately stayed away from how-to-write advice, until I got the first draft of my novel written. It was an advantageous decision, as I was able to write without doubts, shoulds and too much technique being stuck in my head. Since then, I have been reading the advice which is available and it’s been a buzzkill.

It’s incredibly hard to finish the last edits on The Dragon Tree, with people yelling “first novels always stink, shelve them and forget it.” Isn’t it funny how you never notice advice like that, until you are in the position where it may apply to you? Then the words appear to be attacking you from all directions.

As much as I love these coaches, I am surprised that I am being told that I’ll be useless at mastering the craft of fiction, until I’ve written a million words, or a few more books. Of course our writing improves over time. Authors should not presume that they will be perfect on their first trip around the sun. However, there is no written rule that first time novelists are inevitably destined to be utter failures, or mediocre shelf-fillers. Leave us with some sense of hope!

I’ve conceived ten books, seven courses, many appalling pieces of poetry, a number of short stories and many articles. I’ve been published and plagiarised all over the globe. Does that count? Apparently not. They are non-fiction. This will be my first novel. The words are jammed in my head. #1 novel = garbage!

Being me, I decided to rebel and look at the other side of the argument. There are many successful first novels which are best sellers, Pulitzer Prize winners and have been made into movies. Here’s a short list:

  • Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights
  • Ian Caldwell and Dustin Thomason’s The Rule of Four.
  • Agatha Christie’s The Mysterious Affair at Styles
  • Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man
  • Janet Fitch’s White Oleander
  • F. Scott Fitzgerald’s This Side of Paradise
  • Fannie Flagg’s Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistlestop Cafe
  • Charles Frazier’s Cold Mountain
  • Do I bother or not?

    To bother or not to bother? That is my question.

    David Guterson’s Snow Fall on Cedars

  • Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
  • Melinda Hayes’s Mother of Pearl
  • Marjorie Kellogg’s Tell Me That You Love Me, Junie Moon
  • Sue Monk Kidd’s The Secret Life of Bees
  • Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Interpreter of Maladies
  • Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird
  • Jay McInernay’s Bright Lights, Big City
  • Brad Meltzer’s The Tenth Justice
  • Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind
  • Laurie Notaro’s Idiot Girls Action Adventure Club
  • Boris Pasternak’s Dr. Zhivago
  • Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar
  • Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things
  • Alice Sebold’s The Lovely Bones
  • Anna Sewell’s Black Beauty
  • Curtis Sittenfeld’s Prep
  • Nicholas Sparks’s The Notebook
  • John Kennedy Toole’s A Confederacy of Dunces
  • Lauren Weisberger’s The Devil Wears Prada
  • Rebecca Well’s Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood
  • Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray
  • To Kill A Mockingbird
  • Catcher in the Rye
  • Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone
  • Gone with the Wind
  • Sense and Sensibility
  • Doctor Zhivago
  • Wuthering Heights
  • The Help
  • The Devil Wears Prada

So what’s your stand on the issue? What success did you have with your first novel? I’d like to hear your answers.


The book lists in this post come from several sources, including Book and Stylist Magazine.

This article / blog post is Copyright Cate Russell-Cole 2014. All rights are reserved Internationally. You may not reproduce it in any form, in part of whole, without Cate’s prior written permission. That includes images and text usage in forms such as print, audio and digital imaging including pdf, jpg, png etc. A fee may be requested for re-using her work if it is for a commercial venture. 

Link sharing and Pinterest pins are most welcome as long as Cate is the attributed Author.