Running on empty


A simple title, but one containing much truth. How many time have you sat and started to write, or at least tried to scribble out some rudimentary sentences, when your energy is not there?

No, this is NOT a post about writer’s block.

This is a post about being drained. Being drained mentally, physically, intellectually, when even the most basic concepts evade simple thought. All of which can be emotionally exhausting.

I know. I have been there, as I suspect have you.

This is the bane, the curse of a writer’s life. This is our penance for shutting ourselves away for hours upon hours, for living our lives with one foot in the fantasy world of fiction, of sharing our days, even our dreams, with fictitious characters, those illusory, invisibles who inhabit our secret worlds, worlds which we never divulge to the others, at least, not until we are certain that they are ready to be revealed.

Considering this, it comes as no surprise that stress and anxiety often effect our temperament. We are, after all, artists and creatives. As such, why should our general disposition be any different to that of the most prima-donna of actors, or a highly volatile chef?

What is more, unlike the actor or chef, who have a surrounding cast or brigade onto whom they can cast their wrath and vent their spleen, we, the solitary, the secluded and oft isolated writer only have our keyboards and, maybe, a cat or dog. Neither of which deserve to suffer the brunt of our derision.

Now, that brings me to where my head is today, to what stimulated me to start writing on this particular topic.


Yes, you.

Of course I am using that term as a general. What I mean is that I am ‘connected’, my social media is up and running, notifications, messages, hangouts, emails, chat and whatsupps and talktomes and haveyouseens are flashing and popping up every Nano-second, calling out my name, vying for my attention, from just about every social media platform that has been created.

Like you, as an author, an independent, self-published writer, I want to sell my books (hint!). Not having millions of pounds in my bank account means I do not have the wherewithal to pay for Saatchi & Saatchi to advertise and market my books. I do not have the distribution power of WH Smiths, Barnes & Nobel, Waterstones or indeed Walmart and Amazon.

I am one man, not a corporate host of many. As such my reach and capabilities are somewhat limited to what is physically possible. I have limits I cannot exceed alone.

To try and combat this disproportion, my being of David to the conglomerates Goliath, I have spread myself widely over this wonderful, glorious and most obnoxious of modern invention, the internet. I have, often with much reserve, spread myself over the world wide web by way of social media platforms in an attempt to attract at least one person who will purchase at least one of my books, who will read my words, share my fantasy and, hopefully, enjoy that netherworld I created.

Perhaps they may even return, buy another one of my books and re-join my journey? Maybe.

Yet to get to that point, where someone may actually want to own a copy of your work, a copy of that book you have spent all your spare time writing, for the past two years, means that you have to talk and communicate with thousands. You have to build relationships, acquaintances and associations. You have to make connexions and affiliations, create rapport, bonds and liaisons.

For the greater part this works fine. There may be the odd and occasional idiot you come in contact with, but that is no different to the ‘real world’, the meat space that we inhabit in natural form. At rare times you might encounter some who take pleasure in belittling others purely because they derive some sick pleasure from doing so. But you can turn a blind eye to these, block, delete, report and so on. Again this is only a digital interpretation of today’s world. One only has to watch a single new bulletin to make that simple comparison.

Yet it is those you choose to communicate with, those you classify as ‘friends’ who can flick that switch and send you plummeting into the deep pit of depression. A simple word, a throw away sentence, a wrongly worded, or indeed wrongly interpreted text, can combine with the isolation, the frustrations and become that final once of pressure that sends you spiralling into darkness, or rage or both.

This is where things get bad!






Once you are there, at the base of that gloomy depression of despondency, it all becomes a vicious circle of seemingly hopeless misery. Each time you type out a word it is wrong, you have nothing to say, nothing to add, you cannot think of anything to write, nothing at all. The last chapter you wrote is crap, I mean total, pathetic, amateur crap with a capitol ‘c’.

What on earth were you thinking about. Best scrap it, delete it…in fact why not delete everything? It’s all crap anyway and you know it. You will never make it as a writer. You are pathetic, your writing is woeful, ridiculous and nobody will ever want to read it anyway, so you are just wasting your time.

Now you have ‘writers block’ on top of everything.

Have you been there?

I have.

You sit and stare at the keyboard, the walls, the window. Your head is pounding, not with a headache, not yet anyway, but with frustration. You are trying to think, inspiration, a plot, nothing works, nothings coming. That is what hurts. You can’t even read Facebook. Your eyes wont focus on the screen.

Your teeth are clenched. Those words keep flashing in your mind.  How dare she say that. What a senseless dickhead he really is. How come so many liked my cartoon of the dog and the Vicar, but all I got for that insight was one like and a truck full of insults and derision.

The truth is that YOU are making too much of it all.

You have taken your exhaustion and converted it to emotions…not the shrewdest move you could have made.

All the mental, physical, creative and intellectual output has drained you. Each and every event surrounding you seems enhanced, seems far greater than it is. You need to rest from writing, let your mind relax a little, slow it down…schuush….rest.

We lone writers do not have a gauge to tell us when we are getting low on that energy. We do not have an entourage to bounce our frustrations off. We do not have a colleague to share annoyances or vexations with.

We just have us (and, possibly, that cat or dog!)

But we need to learn how charged we are, we need to know when we have used our stock of vigour and are eating into pure emotion.

We need to know when we are running on empty.


Thank you for reading.

Please visit my author page and take a look at my books.



Something very Special has arrived.

2015 - 1

Occasionally, very occasionally something out of the ordinary comes along, something that breaks the mold, breaks with tradition, something that stands out, head and shoulders, above the crowd.

Paul White’s new book, the illustrated hardback, special edition of Teardrops & White Doves does precisely this.

Firstly, is the size. This is a large book, a full A4 tome.

The cover design is simply stunning, both front and rear. It would look amazing on your coffee table at home, or on your office desk.

Inside the quality continues, as do the amazing eye-catching images, photographs and paintings, all printed to the highest quality on heavy 250gsm high gloss paper.

Of course, all this wonderful artwork and quality is solely in support of the main reason that Teardrops & White Doves exists, that is to bring you some of Paul White’s most distinctive and defining poetry.

The poems in Teardrops and White Doves are poignant, often disquieting and always emotionally charged. Once you have read Paul’s words they will stay with you…forever.

Teardrops and White Doves is the new classic ‘must have’, an objet d’art, a collector’s volume and a wonderful, never to be repeated limited edition book.

It is ‘the’ stand out piece to have on you book shelf or coffee table, but will also make that special, unexpected and most thoughtful of gifts for a family member, a friend or lover on their birthday, anniversary, or indeed as a most wonderful present this Christmas.


Teardrops & White Doves is ONLY available directly from the author, Paul White.

You can order your exclusive limited edition NOW by clicking




Honeysuckle Lane, a review.

Honeysuckle Lane

Honeysuckle Lane by Squid McFinnigan


I have sat and thought hard about what I am to say regarding Honeysuckle Lane.
You see, even though this is Squid McFinnigan’s debut novel, I am not new to his writings. I was already a fan of Squid’s short stories before I opened the first page; so reading a novel from the man seemed nothing more than a natural progression.

Many people have written here, in this review section, about the nine houses on Honeysuckle Lane, the characters who live in them, the troubles, trials and tribulations that concern them and, of course, how their lives entwine in this story. So I shall not bother with any of that.

What I shall say is that Squid has a natural and most wonderful narrative voice. Maybe it’s his Irish blood, the ‘gift of the gab’? Whatever it is, his storytelling pulls you in, capturing you with its easy flowing style.

The plot is excellent, occasionally ludicrous, but that is how it is meant to be, funny and serious and entertaining all at the same time. The pace is never slow, there is always something happening, often so quickly you go back and re-read a sentence or paragraph just to make sure you have taken it all in! The action ‘scenes’ are like those from a thrilling movie.

Honeysuckle Lane has a good beginning, is highly entertaining all the way through and has a ‘proper’ ending, although there are a few things unsolved…but that is how it is meant to be!
I have to give Squid five stars for Honeysuckle Lane simply because it has been the best book I have read this year.

View all my reviews

Happy Writer

Building a professional looking book

Happy Writer

Sorry about the amazing and captivating tittle of this post!

I tried a few others, tried to get those creative juices flowing, some were subtle, some vague, some oblique; but they did not say what I wanted, so you got this…the premise of the blog as today’s title.

This post is NOT about formatting your book, there are loads of blogs, sites & people which offer that advice or service and many publishing sites that have some kind of template to help the unsure and uncertain.

This post is about understanding the construction of a book, its ‘parts’, the ones often overlooked or misunderstood by the author and, if I am honest, by many small publishers too. Now, I am not knocking small publishers, not the true professional ones anyway…if you get my drift.

So, to move on.

Without delving into the annals of history or being too historically accurate, books developed from ‘pamphlets’ which were originally hand scribed notelets produced to spread a message to the public. In the later part of the fifteenth century along came the first printing presses and mass production, well…larger volume production…of these pamphlets became possible.

This enabled many people the ability to produce their own works in large(ish) numbers and compete with the traditional and expensive hand written and illustrated tomes of the time. (Digital self-publishing of the age?).

Anyway, as these printers, or publishers became established they began to create certain conventions on how a ‘book’ should be constructed.

The first and foremost goal was to identify the ‘parts’ of said publications and name those elements. Once done it became easier to produce new works because it was simple to fit these elements together in a certain order.

Clearly there are many types of book and not all the books will have all the said parts, but by selecting the elements that were needed for each type, the production process was simplified by a form of standardisation.

This is still true of modern publishing, even digital e-books. But do not just take my word:

“Many publishers have been guided by the history and traditions of print publishing even as they have moved toward electronic publishing … including the logical order of elements in a printed work.” Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition


<<< >>>

- flickr / Creative Commons

Major Divisions of a Book


Books are generally divided into three parts: The frontmatter, the body of the book, and the backmatter.

Each contains specific elements and those elements should appear in a specific order.

Certainly authors who know and understand these divisions may well have aesthetic or organizational motives to stray from these conventions, but usually they have a good reason to do so.

Deviation for no reason does not help your book.

Keep in mind that there is no book that has all of these parts. Use this list instead to make sure you have the right content in the right category, and that elements of your book appear in the sequence in which they are expected.

For ease of explanation and assimilation, let’s start at the beginning of a book and work through to the end.

Frontmatter. (The stuff at the front of a book!)

(That’s the pages at the beginning, before the body of the book. These pages are traditionally numbered with lowercase roman numerals.)


Half title; also called the Bastard title:

This page contains only the title of the book and is typically the first page you see when opening the cover. This page and its verso (the back, or left-hand reverse of the page) are often eliminated in an attempt to control the length of the finished book.



An illustration on the verso facing the title page.


Title page:

Announces the title, subtitle, author and publisher of the book. Other information may be found on the title page can include the publisher’s location, the year of publication, descriptive text about the book. Illustrations are also common on title pages.


Copyright page:

Usually the verso of the title page. This page carries the copyright notice, edition information, publication information, printing history, cataloging data, legal notices, the books ISBN and/or identification number.

In addition, rows of numbers are sometimes printed at the bottom of the page to indicate the year and number of the printing. Credits for design, production, editing and illustration are also commonly listed on the copyright page.



Not every book carries a dedication but, for those that do, it follows the copyright page.



An author may wish to include an epigraph—a quotation—near the front of the book. The epigraph may also appear facing the Table of Contents, or facing the first page of text.

Epigraphs can also be used at the heads of each chapter.


Table of Contents:

Also known as the Contents page: this page lists all the major divisions of the book including parts, if used, and chapters.

Depending on the length of the book, a greater level of detail may be provided to help the reader navigate the book.

History records that the Table of Contents was invented by Quintus Valerius Soranus before 82 bc.


List of Figures:

In books with numerous figures (or illustrations) it can be helpful to include a list of all figures, their titles and the page numbers on which they occur.


List of Tables:

Similar to the List of Figures’ A list of tables occurring in the book may be helpful for readers.



Usually a short piece written by someone other than the author, the Foreword may provide a context for the main work.

Remember that the Foreword is always signed, usually with the author’s name (that’s the author of the Forward, not the book!), place and date.



Written by the author, the Preface often tells how the book came into being and is often signed with the name, place and date, (although this is not always the case.)



Where the author expresses their gratitude for help in the creation of the book.



The author explains the purposes and the goals of the work. They may also place the work in a context, as well as spell out the organization and scope of the book.



In a work of fiction, the Prologue sets the scene for the story and is told in the voice of a character from the book, not the author’s voice.


Second Half Title:

If the frontmatter is particularly extensive, a second half title identical to the first, can be added before the beginning of the text.

The page following is usually blank but may contain an illustration or an epigraph.

When the book design calls for double-page chapter opening spreads, the second half title can be used to force the chapter opening to a left-hand page.


OK, so you have got all that? Do not worry too much! As I said above not ALL of these elements are applicable to ALL books.

The trick is to select the ones appropriate to YOUR book.

The next PART is the BODY. This is the main portion of the book and one that we, as writers, are and should be, most familiar with.


Part Opening page:

Both fiction and nonfiction books are often divided into parts when there is a large conceptual, historical or structural logic that suggests these divisions, and the belief that reader will benefit from a meta-organization.


Chapter Opening page:

Most fiction and, almost all nonfiction books, are divided into chapters for the sake of organizing the material to be covered.

Chapter Opening pages and Part Opening pages may be a single right-hand page, or in some cases a spread consisting of a left- and right-hand page, (or a verso and a recto).

Statistically, if a spread opening is used, half the chapters (or parts) will generate a blank right hand page. This is not desirable, so the author and/or publisher will have to work with the book designer and formatter to decide how to resolve these right-hand page blanks.



An ending piece, either in the voice of the author or as a continuation of the main narrative, meant to bring closure of some kind to the work.



May be written by the author or another, and might deal with the origin of the book or seek to situate the work in some wider context.



A brief summary of the salient arguments of the main work that attempts to give a sense of completeness to the work.

Well now, that was simple wasn’t it? So now let’s move on to something possibly less familiar!

Yep, all that stuff at the BACK of the book! The various citations, notes and ancillary material are that is gathered together into the backmatter.





From the Latin post scriptum, “after the writing”. 

Meaning anything added as an addition or afterthought to the main body of the work.


Appendix or Addendum:

A supplement of some kind to the main work.

An Appendix might include source documents cited in the text, material that arose too late to be included in the main body of the work, or any of a number of other insertions.



In some works, particularly histories, a chronological list of events may be helpful for the reader.

It may appear as an appendix, but can also appear in the frontmatter if the author considers it critical to the reader’s understanding of the work.



Endnotes come after any appendices and before the bibliography or list of references.

 The notes are typically divided by chapter to make them easier to locate.



An alphabetical list of terms and their definitions, usually restricted to some specific area.



A systematic list of books or other works such as articles in periodicals, usually used as a list of works that have been cited in the main body of the work, although not necessarily limited to those works.


List of Contributors:

A work by many authors may demand a list of contributors, which should appear immediately before the index, although it is sometimes moved to the frontmatter.

Contributor’s names should be listed alphabetically by last name, but appear in the form “First Name Last Name.”

Information about each contributor may include brief biographical notes, academic affiliations, or previous publications.



An alphabetical listing of people, places, events, concepts, and works cited along with page numbers indicating where they can be found within the main body of the work.



A notice from the publisher of an error in the book, usually caused in the production process.



A brief notice at the end of a book usually describing the text typography, identifying the typeface by name along with a brief history.

It may also credit the book’s designer and other persons or companies involved in its physical production.

Now you know what all those unread and unloved pages, in all those books you have read, are doing there and what their reasons for being are, don’t you feel just that little bit guilty about skipping by them all?

From a cynical point of view they all go towards your ‘page count’ and, I’m afraid, your production costs. But it is possible to tweak them slightly, combine one or two onto a single page, if you wish to risk the wrath of the book fairies?

On the other hand, if your work has been on a forced diet, possibly prescribed by your editor, then adding as many of the elements from both the frontmatter and backmatter could significantly beef up you work.

I hope you have found this post informative and, dare I say, helpful?

For those of you who regularly enjoy Rambling from a Writers Mind, I apologise that this one not as free flowing or humorous as I general. But I had an awful lot of information that needed to be shared.



I promise I will try and be a little more satirical next time!

Oh, if you have not yet ‘followed’ or ‘subscribed’ (or whatever it’s called) to this blog, please do.



You could also visit my website, by my books, read my magazine and join Sneak Peek and…..Oh, just go and look at my website for heavens sake…go on…go…what are you waiting for….scamoosh….


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View original post 29 more words

That is not VERY clever.



It is, however, the way to announce to world that you are an amateur writer, that you have not honed your skills, that you are not a master of your craft.

It is something, I suggest, you would want to do and yet, I have an inkling, that it maybe something you are doing right now.

WHAT IS? I hear you ask!

Simple. It is to use the most useless word in the English dictionary in your writing.

That word is ‘very’.

Honestly, if you are using this word in your novels, your stories or essays you are making a rather large error.

Mark twain once said “Substitute ‘damn’ every time you’re inclined to write ‘very;’ your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.”

Florence King is quoted as saying that “’Very’ is the most useless word in the English language (see, I told you so!) and can always come out. More than useless, it is treacherous because it invariably weakens what it is intended to strengthen.”

“Avoid using the word ‘very’ because it is lazy. A man is not very tired, he is exhausted. Don’t use very sad, use morose. Language was invented for one reason, boys – to woo women – and, in that endeavour, laziness will not do. It also won’t do in your essays.” Or so say’s N.H. Kleinbaum.

Which brings me to confess, I have, among many other bad habits, deleted so many ‘very’s’ in my work I lost count long ago. Read through’s, edits, re-writes; somehow those pesky little ‘very’s’ sneak themselves into sentences.

When I read some of my older works I could cringe, even those I have re-edited, even re-written in the past; but I guess that is how we all earn.

I am not as bad as I used to be. In fact, I am learning to write without using a single one, or at least that’s the aim. But it is not very easy!

The object of this post is to highlight the mistakes I have made, in an attempt to save you from making those very same errors!

Look back over your current Work in Progress, read through and find all those ‘very’s’ lurking amongst the other words.

Now, you have three options, the first is to simply delete them because you do not need them, they serve absolutely no purpose whatsoever, except to confirm your status as an amateur writer.

The second choice, is to follow Mark Twain’s advice as above!

The third and my preferred choice, is to change them totally. Delete the words associated and replace them with ones that are far more descriptive, evocative or eloquent.

In some, but very few circumstances ‘very’ can be permitted. BUT these occasions are rare. One such time ‘very’ may be used is in a characters ‘speech’. The word can be used to indicate a character of lower education, or a young person, a child who has not accrued a wider vocabulary.

Below is a crib sheet I have cobbled together as an aid. I hope that you find it useful in your quest to extradite those ‘very’ words from your authors lexicon.

The first column is word you have pe-fixed with ‘very’, the second, a suggested alternative…you get the idea!


Since I originally posted this, I have been inundated with more words NOT to use and further suggestions for alternatives. I am not adding this image as I think it is the most comprehensive. Its from Proofreading 

Not Very

Thank you for reading ‘Ramblings from a Writers Mind‘, maybe you will also like my short story blog ‘A Little more Fiction‘ Go take a peek now :-) 

Yogurt Tasting.



We often talk of how important punctuation and grammar are when writing. I think this is also true of the spoken word, oration and pronunciation should be a foremost concern.

NOT, I hasten to add, for everyday conversation where colloquialisms, dialects and vernaculars colour our conversations and lives, but when the spoken word is transmitted by mainstream media.

Then, I believe, broadcasters have a duty to society to articulate, to use elocution and enunciation to the highest standard and, by doing so, enable our young to learn the wonders of well-versed dialogue, gain the ability of constructive discourse and communication.

How can we expect our young to learn to speak clearly and precisely, to acquire the ability to explain, to communicate effectively, if the denizens of our communications industry cannot do so themselves?

Personally, I do not think ‘dumbing down’ standards to accommodate those considered, in politically correct terms to be ‘less fortunate’ is the answer. This only has the effect of decreasing the overall standards, suggesting that the lowering of general values are acceptable. Which, of course, they are not.

I fear for the future.

Today, I found myself disappointed by such a badly enunciated sentence.

“…blah, blah, blah…27 year-old Emma, a Yogurt taster from Essex…. blah, blah, blah…”

Now…I have, as many of you do, a ‘writers’ mind. This is a strange and oft uncontrollable beast. One which will pick-up on tid-bits and oddities that would, for the greater part, pass most people by without causing a ripple in their lives.

But those of us who are cursed, or blessed with such a mind, will know that once this beast has focused on its intended target, once it has its victim firmly caught, there is little we can do until it has satisfied its hunger, or passions, or whatever desires need stating.

This was my situation earlier today. As soon as that sentence had been spoken my muse went into overdrive.

A quick and personal excuse (Disclaimer!): I was not watching or listening to the programme being broadcast, it was just ‘on’. My wife had switched the TV on earlier and it was playing away in the background.

So, where was I? Oh, yes my muse awakening, giving me a jolt.

Questions started to flood my head, ‘Yogurt taster’ what kind of a job was that? Was it a flavour tasting position or simply one to ensure the product was of a certain quality? Maybe this was a taste panel for R&D, for new products, new lines?

How did one get a job like that? Could I get a job like that? What qualifications, besides liking yogurt, did one need?

My muse was excited; could this be part of a plot? A Poisoning?  Mass poisoning…holding corporations to ransom? Maybe the start of strange happenings in a small town… Zombie like conditions…Mmmm? My mind continued to race uncontrollably. 

However, I love that word so I’ll say it again!

However! somewhere, beside my overly stimulated muse, lay a nagging doubt such a position, a job as a Yogurt taster, actually existed. Food taster, yes. But I could not believe anyone could be employed solely as a Yogurt taster.

No, I convinced myself, something was wrong. (Much to the annoyance of my muse!).

Thanks to modern technology, satellite, cable, digi-boxes etc. we are able to do so many things with ‘live’ and ‘on-air’ television which have previously been impossible. One of these is instant ‘re-wind’.

This is what I used to take the programme back to the point where the ‘voice-over’ presenter stated that Emma was a ‘Yogurt taster’ from Essex.

This time I would actually be watching and listening to the broadcast, rather than have it grumbling away in the background where only my subconscious was taking note.

Sitting too close and staring at the screen, like a six-year-old child, I pressed ‘play’. The images began to move and the narrator started to speak.


I played this section of the programme over and again, four times in total, until I was absolutely certain this version was the correct one.

“…blah, blah, blah…27 year-old Emma, a Yoga teacher from Essex…. blah, blah, blah…”

Emma was a yoga teacher and not a yogurt taster, as I had first thought.

This was not my fault, not simply me miss-hearing, it was clearly a case of shameful presentation.

I must say, in some ways I was more than a little disappointed!

I am sure, in the world of yogurt, tasters are required? although I am uncertain of what the progression of seniority may be in such a profession. Perhaps one starts with the ‘own label’ products, progressing to ‘natural’ before moving to thick ‘Greek-style’ yogurts. Maybe, an alternative route would be to delve into the technical realm of flavours, or the scientific corridor of ‘low-fat’ and ‘healthy’ options.

I guess I shall never know.

A divergent track that leads me, by some circuitous route, back to where I began this post; which is where I stated my belief that major broadcasters and, in many respects, our respective Governments, should take responsibility for the clarity and precision of language when transmitting programmes to the masses.

The above is a prime example of bad annunciation and elocution, the equivalent in my book, (note the pun!), of bad grammar and punctuation in writing.

Besides, my restless muse was unnecessarily disturbed.

Now I have to find an excuse NOT to write a novel about a wicked dairy farmer, one who decides to get his revenge on the local townsfolk by plying them with infected yogurt, thus turning them into pliable and malleable zombie-like humanoids who forever more will do the farmers bidding. Of course, as with all good pulp-fiction, there is always one young girl who hates all milk type products, regardless of flavour and consistancy. Perhaps it is she who can fight back against the forces of evil and bovine product manipulation to save the earth…or at least the local town?

That is all I am going to say on that matter!

So, until next time, enjoy your writing, even if your inspiration has been stimulated by a miss-print or badly spoken presenter. But please, please take care with your grammar. You never know when someone may read your work live on air, they may even be an ex yogurt taster venturing into a new career!

Thank you for reading, Paul.


You may like to visit my website and see what else I am writing?