Guest post: E. Rachael Hardcastle (Author of Finding Pandora)

6016f2_1e64bbd333624e3da9900739929e2dbc-mv2_d_1280_1214_s_2.pngToday we’re delighted to welcome supernatural fantasy novelist and West Yorkshire lass E. Rachael Hardcastle to the ideas4writers blog. Her box set Finding Pandora – The Complete Collection (Books 1 – 4) is out this week.

Naturally, we wanted to know all about her, her ideas, and her writing and publishing experiences, and to see if she had any useful tips to share. Here’s what she had to say:

How do you find and evaluate ideas for characters, plots, dialogue, etc?

It’s an overused response but ideas just come to me. Sometimes after watching TV or reading a book I wonder what new swing I could put on that premise, so I’ll write it down and explore it later on. I never base characters on real people – I like to let the characters develop into who they need to be and usually fill in a profile sheet (as seen on my blog) to make sure I cover everything.

How did you get your latest idea? What made it good enough to write about?

My latest idea came to me after watching Jurassic Park and reading a book called The Great Zoo of China. I wanted to explore the theme park idea further, where the guests have to escape for some reason. I know the idea is popular because the movies do well, and to the best of my knowledge the books have done well too, so I thought I’d note it down and brainstorm some ideas. I haven’t started writing yet, but I know it’s a golden nugget because it crosses my mind every day.

How did you expand the idea?

  • Use brainstorming and mind mapping ideas

  • Use story beats to note everything down and build a story/characters

  • Note down the cliches I wanted to avoid and why

  • Watched the movies, read the books etc for research and to see how I can make my story unique

How do you do your research?

I prefer to use reference books rather than the internet, though I do often mix the two. I write fantasy, so some of my research is on myth, legends, signs and symbols, etc, which is fun, so I don’t actually mind this part of the process. I then keep notes in a ‘story beats’ outline document in OpenOffice, which I refer to whenever it is needed. I tried Scrivener but haven’t yet made friends with it.

Would you be willing to share with us some of the ideas you’ve rejected?

I very rarely reject ideas, I just note them down for use in a future project. I think my advice would be not to reject anything because even if it has been used before, there’s always a new way to approach it. They say there are no new ideas and I believe this is true to some extent – it’s what you do with them that counts.

Which book marketing ideas would you recommend?

I offer free content to prove I am trustworthy and helpful. I think marketing can be creepy when you’re posting ‘buy my book’ on social media. Your posts will be ignored and you might lose followers by doing this. Post free content on your blog, helpful notes and resources, and then offer your book at the end. For example, you could advertise your book at the end of a YouTube video that is free and offers the viewer a solution to a problem.

How did you get published?

I self-published my work after coming close to traditional publishing and turning down two offers. I decided I wanted to be in control and give it a shot myself. That way, I could learn the ins and outs and possibly turn hybrid later.

Have you had any really bad/bizarre rejections or reviews?

I once received a postal rejection (with my manuscript enclosed) and on the title page was the comment ‘We don’t publish poetry’. I had submitted my 50,000+ word high fantasy novel…

How do you find the time to write?

I think I steal the time to write after work and between chores at home. If you want to be a writer, you should write, and those who are serious will make the time.

Where do you write?

I have a home office. I keep all my reference books, tools and notes in that room so I can access anything I need quickly and easily.

Can you recommend any software or apps that help with your writing?

And finally, where can we find out more about you and your books?

My website is at

Thank you! Good luck with the box set and for your future writing success.

Thank you!

Members’ News – June 2013

We’re featuring the work of two members today – and I’ve met both of them in the bar at the Winchester Writers’ Conference (though it was a year apart as far as I can remember).

First up is Dr Ellis Silver, an American environmentalist and ecologist who (when I first met him) was in the UK acting as an adviser to a TV show. He was interested in writing books, so I quickly signed him up as a member of ideas4writers and sold him a copy of The Fastest Way to Write Your Book (2nd edition coming out in August). In the bar we ended up chatting about how humans might not have originated on Earth. Then he disappeared for about 5 years because the marine research park he runs in Texas with his uncle was smashed to bits by Hurricane Ike and they had to rebuild it.

But now he’s back, and I was astonished to learn that he’s turned our semi-drunken conversation into a book – and a good one too! As a special favour I reopened our publishing division (i4w2) and published it on Kindle for him. (I also edited it, designed the cover, and double-checked his research – which all seems surprisingly sound and convincing.)


Humans are not from Earth: a scientific evaluation of the evidence for and (mostly) against Man’s evolution on Planet Earth. The book includes an evaluation of the thirteen leading hypotheses, and discusses seventeen factors which suggest we are not from Earth. It also provides answers to questions such as: How did we get here? When did we get here? What is our home planet like? The most likely stars our home planet orbits. If the aliens are out there why can’t we detect them? and Are we the aliens? All the answers are based on current evidence and thinking in the scientific community and elsewhere.

Despite all the hard science (and that’s “hard” as in quantifiable, not as in difficult) the book is easy and hugely enjoyable to read, and can be read in a single morning/afternoon/evening. (Although if you start following up the information in the recommended reading list, as I did, you’ll probably lose several days – it’s intriguing stuff!)

Humans are not from Earth is available on Kindle from or (or any of the other Amazons – you’ll find it in the Kindle store).


Regular blog readers (and ideas4writers forum members) will be familiar with Geoff Nelder’s work.

A new edition of his novel Escaping Reality has just been published on Kindle, with a brand new cover (and some re-editing). Geoff describes it as “The Fugitive meets The 39 Steps with a dash of humour thrown in.” I can confirm that it is most definitely a fun read – some parts of it reminded me of the late Tom Sharpe’s novels. (R.I.P. Tom.)

Escaping Reality is available on Kindle from or


And Geoff would like you to know that part two of his science fiction trilogy ARIA is also now available. ARIA: Returning Left Luggage continues the story of ARIA: Left Luggage. A highly infectious alien virus is devastating Earth’s population by causing retrograde amnesia. You forget how to do your job, where you work, where you live, and eventually even how to feed yourself. Services fail as no one knows how to run them any more, and the bodies are starting to pile up. Whatever will happen next?

In part two of the series we finally meet the aliens. Unlike most science fiction aliens, they ignore the remaining humans or make use of them for labour. They don’t bargain on encountering the psychotic Dr Antonio Menzies, and when he discovers how to use their telepathic-controlled gadgets, odd things happen. Meanwhile Ryder’s isolation group are in the South Pacific facing invasion problems of another kind. That, along with trouble in the French Alps and a runaway exotic weed, makes this a sequel you will not want to miss!

ARIA: Returning Left Luggage is available on Kindle from or

How to Win Short Story Competitions

And finally a quick reminder that the book I co-wrote with Geoff, How to Win Short Story Competitions, is still available and getting 5-star reviews.

How to Win Short Story Competitions is available on Kindle from or

Don’t have a Kindle?

All of the books featured today are available in Kindle format only. If you don’t have a Kindle ebook reader you can still read the books. You just need to install the free Kindle app from Amazon’s website. It’s available for Windows PCs, Macs, and most smartphones and tablets.
Click here to find out more.

Members’ News

ideas4writers member Dave Samson has a new short story collection available:

. . .  and the man who loved cats

is a collection of nine haunting stories: a woman is stalked by a caller; a young couple move into a house besieged by cats; a commuter is uplifted; a family man with dubious motivation aids an attractive neighbour; a backpacker vets prisoners’ letters; a jilted man becomes suicidal; a woman kills her husband and uses acid to dispose his body; a man worries about his wife’s fidelity; a blinded neo-Nazi discovers a new life.

Freebie alert!
Dave is giving away Kindle versions of three of his stories (CSR, Solitary and Skin) to anyone who will write a review and post it on Amazon.

Click here to request your copies.

Members’ News

Long-term member Geoff Nelder‘s new novel ARIA: Left Luggage is now available in paperback and on Kindle from and

Published by LL-Publications, this intriguing science fiction novel is the first part of a trilogy, and it has a unique premise: infectious amnesia.

Here’s the blurb:

Today, Jack caught a bug at work. He catches a bus home. By the time he disembarks in the desert town of Rosamond, all the other passengers and the driver have fuzzy heads. Jack had caught an amnesia bug, and it’s infectious.

Imagine the ramifications:

The passengers arrive home infecting family; some shop en route infecting everyone they meet. The bus driver receives more passengers giving them change for last week’s prices and today’s amnesia.  Some passengers just started work at the power plant, the water treatment works, the hospital, fire station.  All to shut in weeks.

Ryder realizes what’s going on but can he persuade friends to barricade themselves in a secluded valley, hiding from the amnesia bug?

It’s fascinating stuff – and the video trailer is also worth watching:


You might also be interested in the book I co-wrote with Geoff: How to Win Short Story Competitions. Available on Kindle from and or as a PDF ebook from the ideas4writers website.

Members’ News

Our regular correspondent Wendy Green has another book out: 50 Things You Can do Today To Manage Stress, published by Summersdale.

Wendy has now written ten books in the series on a variety of topics, including Menopause, Migraine, IBS and Eczema. Excerpts have featured in the Mail on Sunday and the Daily Express and most of the books have been translated into other languages including Greek, Italian, Serbian, Indonesian & Portuguese.

Wendy has also recently completed an ebook entitled Defeat Depression – your holistic guide to healing your mind and reconnecting with happiness. This was a joint venture with SuperLiving Online Pharmacy and is available in PDF and Kindle formats.

All of Wendy’s books offer easy-to-follow up-to-date information, as well as a wealth of practical advice and a holistic approach to managing common health problems.

How does she manage to write so many books? 

Wendy answers: ‘Whenever I’m writing a book I always flick through The Fastest Way To Write Your Book as I find the ideas and tips really helpful and motivational.’

Great answer!

Members’ News – February 2011

What have our members been up to this month?

Geoff Nelder’s thriller Hot Air was recently published by Wuacademia in the Netherlands after winning 3 awards in their unpublished novels competition. The prize included publication – though it took rather a long time to appear in print!

Hot Air won the Special Prize in 2007, the Silver Prize in 2008, and an Award d’Or in 2009.

A feisty young woman celebrates her birthday by taking her boyfriend in a hot air balloon. They witness an unsavoury crime in a Bristol suburb but the gang need to stop them. The action takes the reader to Mallorca, the south of France and London.

Find out more at Geoff’s blog – which also features a video trailer:

Prize-winning author Meg Kingston’s first non-fiction book The MonSter and the Rainbow: Memoir of a Disability has been published by Jay Walker Writing and is available to order from:

It’s the perfect guide for the newly disabled, their friends and family; anyone who meets disabled people, and especially those whose job involves working with them.

This is no whinging autobiography, no misery memoir and certainly not a textbook on political correctness! Instead, it’s an open, honest view of the world from wheelchair height. Without fuss, Meg shows the reader how some people won’t shake hands with her and how shop assistants speak slowly to make sure she understands. She talks about discrimination in the workplace, local restaurants and even over the internet. With a dry wit, she addresses issues as diverse as Disability Etiquette, Daytime TV and Other Terrors and Doctors – the Manual.

Paul Kane’s short story collections Alone (In the Dark) and Touching the Flame will be reissued by Mansion House Books on 11th March as a special 10th Anniversary limited edition entitled Shadow Writer.

Shadow Writer contains all of the stories from the original publications together with three uncollected short stories, uncollected poetry, copies of edited manuscript pages, comprehensive author notes, and a new introduction by bestselling author Simon Clark. It also features stunning artwork by David Magitis.

More details at Paul’s website:


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Members’ News – November 2010

What have our members been up to this month?

Geoff Nelder and Bec Zugor each have a story in M is for Monster.

This 250-page alphabetical anthology of abominations contains 26 monster stories, one for each letter of the alphabet, and is available from:


Wendy Green has released a new, fully updated and revised edition of her book The Greatest Guide to Slimming & Healthy Living. It includes extra material that incorporates the latest research on weight loss, nutrition and healthy living and also features a Jargon Buster. It explains how you don’t need to go to the gym, or follow strict dietary or exercise regimes, to become fitter and healthier; small behavioural, dietary and lifestyle changes can result in big changes in your shape, health and fitness.

It’s published by  Greatest Guides and is available from bookstores and

Paul Kane‘s new book Arrowland has just been released. It’s the third instalment of his post-apocalyptic Robin Hood trilogy (following on from Arrowhead and Broken Arrow).

It’s published by Abaddon Books as part of their series The Afterblight Chronicles, and is available from all good bookstores and Amazon.

Paul’s website is at



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