Why consistency is better than originality

The title might be a little misleading, I guess it should read “why consistency is just as good as originality”. But when it comes to your writing and publishing career, especially if you’re an indie author, then consistency really is king.

For readers, a book that gives them a completely new perspective and a fresh take on the genre is amazing. But they might love it just as much as that other book that features all their favourite tropes and feels like a warm hug every time they reread it.

And which one can you write more quickly and easily, and publish more often? I’d say for most of us its the consistent book rather than the original book.

Consistency makes a publishing career

As an author, you might have a few truly original books inside you, and I absolutely encourage you to write them! But they can take years to finish because you need the right inspiration, the right headspace, and let’s be honest, we’re much more particular about these special books-of-our-hearts – the weird little WIPs we’re nervous to share in case nobody else likes them – than we are about the ones we know people will love because we’ve put the old, tried-and-true tropes to work.

Your readers love your writing, your voice, your world-building and storytelling. And their absolute favourite thing? When you bring out a new book. So give them what they want and consistently write and publish, don’t keep them waiting because your shiny, original story isn’t quite perfect yet. Get it perfect in the moments of inspiration and flow, when the muse is kind and the sun shines on your soul project.

But in the gaps between, write that comfort book. Employ all of your favourite tropes. Fan of friends-to-lovers? Write it. Secret royalty? Give it to us. And don’t feel bad if it’s not the most original, earth-shattering, mould-breaking story you’ve ever told. We all need those books that feel like coming home and putting on our oldest, cosiest sweater.

Original is overrated

You’ve probably heard that there’s nothing original left in this world, and it’s not far wrong. The rare book that comes out and shakes up the industry, turning everything that’s gone before it on its head, is all the more exciting because it’s just that – rare.

Humans love familiarity. We love comfort. Our brains are really stressed out by the new and different. There’s a reason why tropes are a thing, why so many stories follow the same old patterns and yet are still told centuries, if not millennia, later. It’s because we love them, they make us feel safe, they give us an experience we crave, which is to know how it’s going to end, how the story will turn out, and where the twists and turns will come.

Storytelling is the oldest method of spreading news, warnings and information. Hearing the same story, told in different ways, over and over again, is how we learn. So don’t shy away from retelling, tropes, and even prequels, sequels and tie-in series that fans of your other books will love.

It might be fan-service, but at the end of the day, we’re here to serve our fans, so why not give the people what they want?



Podcasts for writers and readers

Hi friends! Well, I’m back with some more podcast recommendations, because I can’t not listen to podcasts all day, every day.

On a side note, if you’re a big podcast fan too, and you enjoy true crime, audio books and dark young adult stories, then you definitely need to listen to Sadie by Courtney Summers! It’s a bestselling novel that follows dual POVs – Sadie’s POV, as well as a podcast host who is investigating a missing person case for a podcast called The Girls. It’s incredible. Head to Audible (or your fave audio book provider) and download it right now! Or read my review to see if it’s your cup of tea.

OK, back to the actual real life podcasts. Here we go…

The Author Accountability Podcast

Hosted by Donna and Rhianne, The Author Accountability podcast is a writing craft resource that all writers and authors should know about.

With episodes discussing everything from word counts and writing software, to author interviews highlighting the various journeys writers take towards publication, and beyond, there’s something for every stage of the writer’s life.

Back in January 2021, I recorded an episode with Rhianne as a guest co-host while Donna was on maternity leave. We chatted about our current WIPs, what we were reading and watching at the time, and how we come up with our character names. And then in July 2021, I recorded another episode with Rhianne, this time being interviewed as an author!

Listen to my guest co-host episode here!

Listen to my author interview episode here!

Follow the pod on Instagram

Unstoppable Authors

Every week, Angeline, Holly and Julia share their wealth of knowledge and experience on all things writing and publishing.

With over 100 episodes of insightful chats and interviews with some of your fave indie authors, there’s plenty of excellent content for you to binge on your daily walk or while you do the dishes (or is that just me?).

In August, I joined Julia to talk about my experience of collaborating with other indie authors on anthologies. Have a listen if you’re interested in working with your fellow authors and wondered how to get involved.

Listen to my episode here!

Follow the pod on Instagram

Through the Portal podcast

Through the Portal is a book club style podcast focusing on second world fantasy and sci fi, hosted by Chi Obasi and Alyssa Markins. Each month, they read a different book and interview the author, with a special section at the end for spoilers for those who’ve already read it. Then a second episode is released with the hosts chatting about the book and answering listener questions. It’s a really great way to have a deeper discussion about a book you’ve read and enjoyed with other readers, without having to leave your home!

Last month, I recorded an episode with Chi and Alyssa about my debut novel, The Fair Queen. It was so much fun to discuss the story in depth and share some sneak peeks about book two, as well as sharing behind the scenes info from my edits, such as how the story changed from the first draft to the published version.

Listen to my episode here!

Follow the pod on Instagram

The Writing Sparrow

Sarina interviews a different author each week and shares their insights on everything from writing and publishing to marketing for indie authors. Ever wondered how you could use TikTok to market your books? There’s an episode for that. Dreaming of writing a ten book series? There’s also an episode for that!

I’ll be recording an episode on marketing for indie authors with Sarina soon, so keep your eyes peeled for my episode going live!

Follow the pod on Instagram

88 Cups of Tea

And finally, if you’re a writer or reader who loves podcasts and you haven’t come across 88 Cups of Tea yet, then you must have been living under a troll bridge.

More than just a collection of incredible interviews with your favourite traditionally published authors and storytellers from the TV and big screen, 88Cups has become a huge community of incredible, like-minded readers and writers who love to hear and share great stories.

The top most downloaded episodes include Sarah J. Maas, Victoria Schwab and Samantha Shannon, plus there’s interviews with Holly Black, Cassandra Clare, Maggie Stiefvater, Marissa Meyer, Leigh Bardugo, Stephanie Garber, Tomi Adeyemi, Roshani Chokshi… the list goes on. And there are tons of interviews with literary agents who share their #MSWL (that’s manuscript wishlist to you and me) so you can brush up your query letter game and make sure you’re targeting the right agents.

Not only that, but the amazing host, Yin Chang, and her girlfriend Moonlynn Tsai, who is a chef, decided to start a charitable initiative to combat the rising xenophobia against the Asian community as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic by delivering free, culturally-thoughtful meals to those in need in their hometown of NYC. Heart of Dinner is an incredibly beautiful movement and something we should all be supporting and emulating in our own communities right now.

I hope you picked up a couple of new podcast recommendations and enjoyed listening to me chatting to some of the hosts about The Fair Queen and my writing journey.

Happy listening!



Interview: debut fantasy author Elena Carter

Another month is almost over and we’re now much closer to next Christmas than last. That’s right I used the C word in July! Speaking of which, have you seen any of the “Christmas in July” bookish events going on around the internet? @SheShedStudios on Twitter is hosting a feature with some fab free books (she included The Fair Queen when it was free a couple of weeks ago), and Jennifer Kropf, author of the Winter Souls series, is throwing a huge book tour across the internet for her festive, family-friendly fantasy series in celebration of book two being out this November and available to preorder now!

OK, that’s enough talk of Christmas, back to the height of summer. Next week is my birthday! I’m hosting a Facebook Hop between 5 and 7 Aug to celebrate, with prizes for both UK and international winners. One UK winner will get a signed hardcover of The Fair Queen and a signed (by both me and my fellow author Alice Ivinya) paperback of Enchanted Waters, and one US/international winner will get a whole bundle of fantasy ebooks and a $10 Amazon giftcard! So head over to the FB group and join to take part next week.

On to the interview! I was so excited to chat to Elena Carter this week and find out all about her debut novel, Follow the Hummingbird, which comes out 30 July and is the first book in a new series, The Dream Tamer Chronicles. Read on to find out what we talked about…

Thanks so much for chatting with me, Elena! Can you tell us a little about yourself?

My name is Elena. I am originally from Almaty, Kazakhstan, but in 2013 I moved to Varna, Bulgaria to live by the sea. Growing up in a city surrounded by mountains, I have always been dreaming of big water (which is ironic because I am not much of a swimmer, yet I can’t live without water.) 

For the last decade or so I’ve been making gemstone jewelry — after exploring all kinds of career paths, including administering a high school exchange program, working in an embassy as a political and human rights assistant, working as an assistant to an attorney, and many other totally unrelated things too. All while secretly dreaming of being a writer.

I have a husband and two sons, a teenager and a toddler. We also have a cavalier king charles spaniel and possibly the naughtiest cat in the world.

Wow, what a fascinating and varied life you’ve led so far! I bet you’re not short of inspiration when it comes to writing stories, you’ve got so many experiences to draw from. When did you start writing and what inspired you/who encouraged you?

I have always wanted to be a writer, but I guess I never had enough courage and self-belief. Until 2020, when my husband (a professional writer and screenwriter himself) finally convinced me to give it a try, after countless nudges that I used to skillfully dodge. And I’m so grateful for his persistence.

I used to say “If I ever do try, certainly it won’t be in English, because it’s my second language, and I’ll never be good enough.” 

But here I am, releasing my debut novel in English, and I am so happy I found the courage to go ahead and do it. 

I was 41 when I wrote my first book. It’s never too late to start.

That’s incredible that you’re writing your debut in a language other than you’re native one, I studied Spanish at University but I can’t imagine writing an entire novel in Spanish. You’re so inspiring! Do you have a favourite book or genre?

I have always loved reading. I started reading early, about 4 years old, and when I was 10 or 12, I started consuming everything I could find in our (very extensive) home library. I have always been fascinated by our bookshelves covering the entire walls, from floor to ceiling.

I read pretty much everything, I don’t like to limit myself to a certain genre. But fantasy has always been my favorite. I discovered Tolkien in my early university years I think, and it totally blew my mind. 

There are also some Russian fantasy authors that I have always enjoyed reading. 

Basically, I like to believe that magic exists, and the world around is not at all what we believe it is.

Excuse me, you had me at “floor to ceiling bookshelves”. I’m so jealous, it sounds like a book lovers’ dream. Tell us about your upcoming debut novel.

My debut novel, Follow the Hummingbird, is coming out on July 30, 2021. It’s about a young woman discovering the world of her dreams after she’s been trying to find ways to cope with grief having lost her husband in a car accident. She learns about the existence of multiple different worlds that are ready to open their doors to her, and, most importantly, give her hope and strength to go on.

That’s a really beautiful message, it sounds wonderful. Where did you find the inspiration for your story?

Dreams have always been a very important part of my life. They’ve always been vivid and fascinating, leaving me with a feeling that they are much more than what we think they are. 

A lot of the dream sequences in my book have been inspired by the dreams I’ve had, including some I had many years ago. It’s strange, I can easily forget what I’ve been doing last week or month (let alone the names of my former colleagues or high school teachers), but the memories of some of my childhood dreams are bright and clear in my mind.

That’s so cool, I love when story ideas come in dreams! Would you say you’re a plotter, pantser or plantser?

Plantser. When I started working on Follow the Hummingbird, I had a rough outline of the idea that I quickly put down in the notes on my phone. For the rest, the story itself was leading me, new characters were appearing and asking me to write about them, fascinating worlds were revealing themselves to me, and it was a beautiful and exciting journey. 

I’m the same, I need a map to follow to where the story is headed, but I like to leave a little room to take the scenic route. So, what are you working on right now?

In the beginning of the year, while still working on edits for my novel, I started writing a collection of short stories. They’re all separate stories and totally unrelated, except the one thing they have in common – they’re all happening in the same town. A very ordinary little town, at first glance. But when you look and listen closer, you might learn that it’s not that ordinary after all. There’s all kinds of wonderful and amazing and magical things happening to its inhabitants and guests.

I am also starting to work on the next book in The Dream Tamer Chronicles, telling a story of one of the characters in Follow the Hummingbird.

I love short story collections! I’m writing one myself at the moment, set in the same world as my main series, The Fair Chronicles. What one piece of advice would you give aspiring authors?

Don’t fear. Don’t doubt yourself. And never — NEVER — give up. There’ll be good days and bad days, there’ll be ups and downs, it’s all a crazy roller coaster sometimes (okay, let’s be honest, most of the time), but just stay consistent and stay on track no matter what.

Also, you have to believe in your writing in the first place. If you don’t, no one else will.

That is such great advice, it’s so important to believe in yourself first, and be your own biggest cheerleader. Thank you so much for chatting with me today, it’s been lovely! Before you go, how can we find out more about you and your books?

Website:  https://elenacarterauthor.com/  

Newsletter signup: http://eepurl.com/hwgca1

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/elena_carter_author/

Facebook page/group:  https://www.facebook.com/Author-Elena-Carter-112309984416068/

Check out Follow the Hummingbird of Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B097F4RYN7/

And add it to your Goodreads shelf: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/58421874-follow-the-hummingbird

I hope all of you fellow writers listen to Elena’s advice – believe in yourself and never give up! And if you like the sound of Follow the Hummingbird, it comes out on 30 July so there’s not long to wait now.

Happy Christmas in July guys!