booooomstrawberries asked: Kind of a two parter here... How long do you think it should take a person to write a book? I mean, I'm sure part of the answer is "as long as it takes." But for a story that doesn't require much research, what do you think? And do you have stories on hold, of which you're still waiting for missing pieces?

I wrote my shortest book in 6 weeks. My longest took 10 years. So somewhere between the two. Unless you’re a fast writer, or it takes you longer than ten years.

And yes.


she2january-deactivated20140407 asked: I would like to ask about what your life was like before you “made it.” (In case you’ve answered this before, sorry, I have'nt seen it) I mean, what do you when you start life without any money, and no one to go to? I heard that it took you a while to start getting published (as in, not right after leaving school), so what did you do between moving out of your family’s house and doing well on your own? Tumblr only lets me type so much, so I'll just say I'm at a point where I have to quit school.

It was fun, but scary. I was certain of my own brilliance and ability on, looking back on it, no evidence whatsoever, which must have given me an awkward sort of confidence.

I moved out very early on, after selling my first couple of interviews.

I went to stay in Edgware, because I could just about afford it and still have an “01” London phone number. I had no money, but I was selling enough articles from the go to cover the £25 a week rent in Edgware and my tube or bus fare into London. And food (I learned that you could improvise a casserole with pasta, a tin of tuna and a tin of baked beans, which would last for several days).  When I did my first book deal, and was paid the first third of a £2000 advance for the Duran Duran book, I bought an electric typewriter to replace the manual one I had been using.

Mostly, I wrote, I read (I was book reviewing, first for the British Fantasy Society Journal, and then for people who paid me, but I loved the books most), I talked to people, I tried to figure out how the world worked.


For any writer who’s feeling down/stressed/overwhelmed, watch this.

From my Nerdist podcast interview…

Support, and Partners, and Writing

I write, my husband used to, but rarely has time to delve into what I create. I understand this! But some folk in my life seem to think that, unless a partner is telling me 24/7 that my work is brilliant, I am not being supported. I think this is so much malarkey, the day -anyone- says everything I do is perfect is the day I stop asking their opinion. I’m curious to hear your thoughts though, as you’re married to someone creative. How does the feedback run?

I really like some of her songs and decisions and don’t like others. We talk. She really likes some of my stories and decisions and doesn’t like others. We talk. I love Amanda’s opinion but she’s one among dozens of people whose opinions I value. And neither of us is going to change the other one’s mind about anything (unless we do).

And (with the exception of THE OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE, which I kind of did write for her) Amanda doesn’t get to see things until they’re done, and she mostly doesn’t play me songs until they’re done. (And she won’t play me songs she thinks I won’t like.)

I’m  not writing my stories for her (unless I’m actually writing a story or poem for her) and she’s not writing her songs for me (unless she writes a song or a poem for me). We’re writing for ourselves and for the people who might like what we make.

Writing feedback is a good thing, but it’s not what I have a partner for, or what Amanda has me for. There are lots of people who can give us that. There’s nobody else who can love and entertain and delight me like Amanda.


Illustrated my favourite Neil Gaiman quote for writers. :-) (and thanks to Neil for his permission)

It’s as true now as when I first said it…


Illustrated my favourite Neil Gaiman quote for writers. :-) (and thanks to Neil for his permission)

It’s as true now as when I first said it…


The Litreactor site is worth its weight in rare metals…

In every industry there are amazing people who are full of passion, dedication and honesty.

And then there are scumbags looking to prey on your hopes and dreams so that they can separate you from your wallet.

For our purposes, I want to talk about the Nigerian 419 scammers of the publishing industry—the vanity presses, the fake literary agents, and the scam contests—all designed to inflate your ego just enough so you don’t notice their hand in your pocket.

With just a little caution, research and common sense, you can protect yourself. Here are the three most common types of scams, and how to avoid them.


For all the people who ask me for writing advice…

Neil Gaiman

1 Write.

2 Put one word after another. Find the right word, put it down.

3 Finish what you’re writing. Whatever you have to do to finish it, finish it.

4 Put it aside. Read it pretending you’ve never read it before. Show it to friends whose opinion you respect and who like the kind of thing that this is.

Remember: when people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong.

6 Fix it. Remember that, sooner or later, before it ever reaches perfection, you will have to let it go and move on and start to write the next thing. Perfection is like chasing the horizon. Keep moving.

7 Laugh at your own jokes.

8 The main rule of writing is that if you do it with enough assurance and confidence, you’re allowed to do whatever you like. (That may be a rule for life as well as for writing. But it’s definitely true for writing.) So write your story as it needs to be written. Write it ­honestly, and tell it as best you can. I’m not sure that there are any other rules. Not ones that matter.

Read the whole article. It’s filled with great advice from wonderful writers…

As requested, a rebloggable version. (Dear Tumblr, How hard would it be to make ask replies rebloggable?)

How should an aspiring writer know that she has talent? Where is the best place to find a judge of such things?

On the page.

And, possibly, in your heart.

(I was convinced I was a great writer when I was in my late teens, and even wrote some stories. When I was in my forties I found the binder I had written them in, and read them, expecting to be blown away by my youthful brilliance, and instead found myself reading things that, if the author had handed them to me and said “Do I have a career in writing waiting for me?” I probably would have said “Er, probably not. DO you have any other skills?”

Fortunately, I had no other skills, and I was convinced I could be good, and  being a journalist and writing for my living, day in and day out, taught me enough that, when I returned to fiction, I was a lot better. Or perhaps I’d just got the bad writing out of my system.)

I tell aspiring writers that they should write. It’s the only real advice I have. If you think you have talent, then write. You’ll find out if you’re any good. And you’ll also find out that it takes a lot more than just talent to be a writer. You have to be willing to write on the days you don’t feel like writing, for a start. And you have to learn to finish things, and to start the next thing.

And if you’re going to be a writer, don’t ask someone else if you have talent, or if something’s any good. What do they know?

(Another anecdote: I buried a story for 20 years because the two people I showed it to, when I’d just finished it and was proud as Punch of this clever thing I’d made, didn’t like it. They were both professional editors and people whose opinions I respected. So I simply put it in a drawer. Didn’t even show it to anyone, or send it out. When, twenty years after it was written, I pulled it out and dusted it off, it won the LOCUS award for Best Short Story of the year. And I felt a bit silly for having listened to two people twenty years earlier who simply didn’t like it, or get it, or like that sort of thing.)

How to Write a Novel.
And you know, this is pretty much everything you need to know. The rest is detail, most of which is irrelevant…

(Stolen from

How to Write a Novel.

And you know, this is pretty much everything you need to know. The rest is detail, most of which is irrelevant…

(Stolen from