Tag Archives: writers

Collaborator and Writer, First Steps in Doing it Together


Collaborator with colleagueBy temperament, I’m one of nature’s collaborators. Show me a team and I’m spitting on my hands and doing my bit. With enthusiasm.

In my various day jobs, I’ve loved the sense of shared enterprise. OK, I could get a bit testy when we had meetings about meetings. But mostly interaction with other people buoyed me up when I was tired, focused me when I was floundering and made laugh a lot.

And I work a whole lot better than I do on my own.

…or Loner?

No collaborator? Cold, lonely and possibly lostBut long before I had any sort of day job — heck, before I went to school — I was a writer.

Writing came straight out of my head onto the page. Nobody else had any input. How could they?

No planning sessions, no critical path analysis or team update meetings, nor any project evaluation group, either.

It never occurred to me that there was any other way to do it. I was all on my own.

Sometimes it felt cold, foggy and very lonely.

First Time Collaborator

Elizabeth Hawksley, my collaborator

Elizabeth Hawksley
(photo: Sally Greenhill)

Then my very good friend, author Elizabeth Hawksley, who teaches creative writing, said that her classes badly needed a plain book on punctuation. Two generations had missed out on grammar and style at school. They needed a guide book that took that into account. We could write one.


I admit, I didn’t see how it could work. But Elizabeth, who had worked in (AND written plays for) small scale theatre, was made of sterner stuff. We’d just sit together, discuss and then write it down and see what it looked like, she said.

What, both of us?

One would type, she conceded. But the point is there would be two voices behind the words.


Collaborators Haddon & Hawksley, Designer Harriet BuckleyIt sounded completely loopy to me. But I respected Elizabeth, trusted her judgement, and if she said it could work…
I closed my eyes and jumped.

For several months Elizabeth and I met a couple of times a week. The thing evolved. We consulted  authorities. All the time, we talked to people who might use the book — there were more than either of us had imagined! We argued a lot.

Novelists both, we knew where we wanted to end up. In this case, it was a book that would help people write clear and effective prose, be that letters, articles, essays, or even three volume novels. And we didn’t have a proper plan until we had a first draft.

Collaborator Issues

coffee to fuel collaboratorI’m not going to say it was all plain sailing. For one thing, we talked, tweaked, talked again and read it aloud. Wrote it down and came back to it next time. It was slow.

For another, our body clocks are very different. I’m at peak performance before the streets are aired. Elizabeth is much more civilised. She hits her stride after the first coffee.

When stuff got really difficult, we took it away and worked on our own versions alone and brought them back for discussion. A couple of things were highly individual. Elizabeth’s inspired Train To Edinburgh, on how to organise a piece of factual writing, was like that. In those cases, one of us would write the whole and the other was effectively beta reader/editor.

Collaborator Benefits

collaborator team workWe kept each other going.

From time to time, we each lost belief that we could complete the project (not to mention concentration). That’s when the other would just carry on climbing and then hold out a helping hand, if necessary.

We laughed a lot.

I learned more than I would have believed possible, particularly:

  • it’s a serious high when two people share a successful chapter
  • re-read on Day 2 and you can always tighten the ‘final’ version
  • how to organise a piece of factual writing
  • stop before you’re exhausted
  • muddle is creative; you just have to treat it right and not be ashamed of it.


Getting the Point has been useful to lots of people, not just creative writers, and they laughed along the way, as we hoped they would. That’s been a real buzz. It’s out of print now (second hand prices are sometimes eye-watering!) and Elizabeth and I are looking at a revised edition.

happy for collaborator to see the messI became much more relaxed about letting other people see what a horlicks I made of my stories in the throes of composition.

I really enjoyed myself. Indeed, so much, that, now I’d done it once, I was, very cautiously, willing to look at doing it again…


to be continued  


dedicated to the one I love

Dedicating to the One You Love – or Are You?


Trumpets dedicating

Dedicating a book to someone is powerful. It’s an announcement with trumpets.

We’ve all read the thanks that go on for several pages. They embrace everyone from the author’s family, agent and editor, to anyone who gave them help with research or did the typing.

Justified? Probably. Sincere? Mostly. But a dedication? No. Continue reading

Be My Valentine? I Don’t Think So

old laptop with valentineWhen email was new and spam was something you found in school lunches, I once got a message on my hefty laptop headed “Be My Valentine?”

I deleted it, unopened.

With a shudder. And I’d never even heard of viruses then. I just didn’t want to go there. Continue reading

The Reader Writer Connection: Guest Blog by Sue Moorcroft

reader writer connection with Sue Moorcroft

Today, our guest blogger is Sue Moorcroft, an award-winning author and writing tutor who sets the gold standard for the rest of us in the art of making the reader writer connection.

At Liberta’s request — we imagine we’re not the only ones who are looking for hints to improve our links with readers — Sue’s blogging about how she interacts with her readers.

Over to Sue…

Sue Moorcroft Connects with Readers

It’s always a good day when I receive a message from a reader.

Partly because I’m lucky enough to receive a lot of nice messages, which gives me a warm glow (you may prefer to call this ego-feeding!), but mostly because it proves my work’s being read and enjoyed.

reader writer connection


Continue reading

How Smell Evokes Memory and Emotion

smell evokes memory with oranges and fire

When I was a child, Christmas was the smell of oranges and cigars and the Christmas tree, resinous and strange.  Put any two of them together and it still bounces me right back into the past, bringing with it firelight, the bustle of friendly company, a sense of holding my breath in excitement. Smell is the first route by which I recall emotion.

Why smell evokes memory : the science bit

There is a reason for this, I find. Olfactory neurones in the upper part of the nose generate an impulse which signals the limbic system, that part of the brain which controls not only memory but also emotion, mood and behaviour.  Supposedly, this is one of the most primitive parts of the brain.

Smell — the fallen angel of senses?

Apparently, Helen Keller called smell “the fallen angel of the human senses” because we don’t use it any more to tell us there’s a tiger in the area. And I agree that we live in an intensely visual age, with more communication illustrated than ever before.

smell evokes memory when couples kissBut we do still smell food that has gone off.

And, even more important to the romantic novelist, smell is an important part of sexual attraction. Continue reading

The Writer’s Dog : Guest Blog by Anne Gracie

Anne Gracie writer's dog

Anne Gracie

Libertà’s very first guest blog comes from much-loved Australian author Anne Gracie whose captivating stories have won her fans all over the world.

Anne Gracie started her first novel while backpacking solo around the world, writing by hand in notebooks. Now published by Berkley USA and Penguin Australia, her Regency-era romances have been translated into more than eighteen languages — including Japanese manga (which she thinks is very cool).

A life-long advocate of universal literacy, Anne also writes books for adults just learning to read.


Move over TK, the Writer’s Cat. Make room for…

Anne Gracie and Milly, the Writer’s Dog

I grew up with animals, all kinds of animals, and a house without at least one animal seems empty to me. I’ve had a variety of pets, including cats, but the one animal that’s a constant in my life is a dog, and my current companion is Milly.

writer's dog Milly 1
She’s a rescue dog and came to me half grown, after I saw her on a dog rescue website, and brought her home, all gangly and uncoordinated.  She’s a little kelpie/cross (about 55cm, almost 2 ft.)

I sometimes tell people who ask about breeds that she’s a Baluchistan Hound. (And if you don’t know what a Baluchistan Hound is, you need to read Georgette Heyer’s Frederica.) Continue reading

Is your Blurb boring? Add visual impact

visual impact for blurbs


When potential readers look at your book on Amazon, does the blurb have impact?

Or do they ignore it because it looks boring?

If so, this is the blog for you — how to fill out that description box on KDP to give your blurb visual impact.

 Your Blurb Text

This guide is not about how to write your blurb text. You’re a writer. It’s what you do, isn’t it?

“True,” you reply, grimacing, “but I write novels, not 80-word blurbs. Blurb-writing is hell on wheels.”  Most writers would sympathise, so here’s a link to an excellent blog about writing back cover blurb by K J Charles who is both an accomplished writer and a professional editor.

For this blog, I’m concentrating on how to give your wonderful blurb visual impact.

Among other advice in the K J Charles blog is: “keep it short”. When potential buyers see your book on Amazon, they normally see only the start of your blurb. Unless your opening lines have visual impact, readers may not click to read the rest. And if they don’t read your blurb, they probably won’t buy your book, either.

Visual impact catches readers eye

Catching the reader’s eye matters

Adding Visual Impact with HTML Codes : A Worked Example

For a How To guide like this, we need a real-life example. Continue reading

Janus, god of beginnings, middles, endings


Janus, god of beginnings, middles, endings, looking both ways

If the Libertà hive ever needs a household god, we may well plump for the Roman Janus, god of beginnings and transitions. Janus usually appears with two heads. That means he not only tells you where you are, he can tell you where you’ve been, too.

Janus opens doors to all directions

Janus is also the god of gates, doorways, passages and endings, the sort of god who is useful for showing you, and us, the way.

So here we have a god of beginnings, middles, endings. Readers like all of those, and they’re pretty useful for writers as well. At Libertà, we’ve come to think that Janus is probably our guy.  Continue reading