Developmental Editing & Proofreading Services

Developmental Editing Services

Developmental editing is generally the first step of editing to seek out once you have a completed draft of your manuscript. After submitting your manuscript, you will receive a summary highlighting all the story issues I’ve come across. Since this could result in a series of rewrites, it is best this phase comes before any proofreading or fine-tuning. However, every author has their own process.

This manuscript critique addresses various story element issues like plot holes, poor character development, character arcs, pacing, action sequences, point of view, narration, tenses, story flow, dialogue, language use, and any other elements that arise in your manuscript that relate to creative writing.

At a minimum, you will receive back three points that I liked about your story, things that worked well; and three points of constructive advice, and these are the points to work on or didn’t make sense. I will use examples and explain any issues that arise, so you can understand the suggestions.

I charge a flat rate of $17 per 1000 words, for English written manuscripts.

No editing service shall be commenced before payment in full has been made.

Proofreading Services

spelling and word choice confusionsConfusions between homophones (e.g. there/they’re/their). Misuse of definite and indefinite articles (the/a/an)Misuse of prepositions
Misplaced punctuationMissing or misused commas. Confusion between hyphens, em dashes and en dashes. Incorrect use of apostrophes
Stylistic inconsistencySwitching between UK and US conventions. Inconsistent capitalization of terms or titles. Inconsistent treatment of numbers
Formatting issuesIncorrect formatting of quotations and citations. Inconsistent paragraph indentation and spacing. Missing or misplaced page numbers, headers and footers

I charge a flat rate of $0.012 per word, for English written manuscripts. (Delivery 5-7 days).
Alternatively, I charge an express flat rate of $0.02 per word. (Delivery 24-48 hours).

No editing service shall be commenced before payment in full has been made.

To inquire about Developmental Editing or Proofreading Services, please contact me directly through the contact tab.

My Proudest Accomplishment as an Author…

I am so very excited to announce that the I Heart Africa Project book was released on March 10, 2022. The responses I am getting from those who have read it already are amazing. The book is taking readers on multiple journeys throughout Africa that have truly opened their eyes, inspired them, and shed a light on Africa that many people would not have seen outside of the negative press Africa gets in the Western world. I am so proud of bringing this book to life, and it was all made possible by the incredible individuals that I interviewed, and that shared their stories.

The book is available on Amazon (all territories) in Kindle, Paperback & Hardback editions.

Meet Africa, a vast and beautiful continent. Africa is the heart of the world, the cradle of life, a continent teeming with breath-taking landscapes, cultures, histories, wildlife, adversities, and people. Where tradition and culture converge and are deeply threaded throughout modern-day Africa.

In the pages of I Heart Africa Project meet the incredible individuals whose souls have been touched by Africa: from residents, wildlife heroes, conservationists, documentary hosts, photographers, rangers, veterinarians, wildlife ecologists, guides, tourists, and many more, who all share their experiences, journeys, and love of the Dark Continent.

Filled with authentic stories and stunning photographs, I Heart Africa Project offers advice from those who have journeyed across these ancient lands, enlightens you as to the efforts and struggles of conservation, and sheds light on the warmth, beauty, and incredible experiences one can possibly have in Africa.

Writing Exercises: Three Sentences Rewrite

Sentence 1: Marie hurried down the steps.

As she stepped out her front door, the icy cold wind slapped her in the face, her breathe smoked like she was having a cigarette, and her eyes became glassy in the bitterness of the weather. How could she have forgotten the Turkey for Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow, Marie thought to herself with her cheeks flushed red in embarrassment as she hurried down the rattling four flights of steps to her newly purchased red hatchback car. She only had twenty minutes to fight the Thanksgiving crowds and traffic to get to Coles before it closed. She prayed as she drove, hoping there would still be a Turkey left.

Sentence 2: I went up the tree-lined driveway.

So many thoughts scrambling through my head right now. All my fears, hopes, dreams, and heartache of this moment were now going to become a reality. I had wanted and waited for this moment to happen for so long. Walking up the tree-lined driveway, each step closer getting heavier, I had to focus on putting one foot in front of the other. The silence walking between and under the towering trees that shadowed me was unsettling, a little eerie, like the silence before a storm, making me even more nervous and apprehensive. The excitement of this long awaited moment was overrun with the fear of being unloved, she was my biological mother after all, surely she felt some love towards me.

Sentence 3: Kevin and Angela fought.

Standing in line waiting for their turn, Angela and Kevin fought between themselves laughing as to who was going to go first down the water slide. They became so engrossed in who was going to go first, they had forgotten the platform they were standing on was wet and slippery. Angela poked out her tongue and pushed Kevin. He grabbed her forearm to stop himself from falling over, but they both slipped over and landed on their bottoms with a gigantic thud. Embarrassed with flushed red cheeks, they couldn’t do anything but laugh.

Author Interview: Curse of Stone by Nikki Lockwood

Interview with Nikki Lockwood – The Author of the ‘Curse of Stone’.

What inspired you to write this book?

This idea actually came to me in a dream that was persistent over several weeks. It was Gabriel’s character that was in the dream, and his brothers. Their curse and existence were intriguing and complex, and then when the girl came into the picture (in my dream) I knew there was a story to be told here.

Can you tell me about the book?

When a strange man starts following her, and weird things start occurring, she turns to her best friend, Jamie, who is secretly a werewolf and knows more than he is telling her.  

When the great-aunt appears, things start to spiral further into danger. Danielle doesn’t know that she is being hunted by an ancient demon, and minions of evil are coming for her.

Enter Gabriel. A cursed man – and a gargoyle, he is searching for his healer – the one human female destined to break his curse. He must find her before evil does.

It’s really the old tale of good versus evil, but they are racing against the clock.

What does the title mean?

Curse of Stone has a complex meaning. It relates to an actual curse that becomes known in the book. The curse is about three stones, hence curse of stone. Three stones, one of blood, one of light, and one bound. The one of blood is the healer or the main character, Danielle. The one of light is a precious gem (stone) not of earth’s realm and is the necklace mentioned in the book. The one bound that relates to the man cursed in stone – and the second male character, Gabriel, who is a gargoyle. To understand how they interrelate you’ll need to read the book.

Were the characters inspired by real people?

Yes and no. To be honest, the character of Jamie is based on a person I once knew (obviously not with the same name). But his personality is based on several people.

Gabriel is not based on a real person, but his mannerism and the way he carries himself was inspired by a real person.

The character of Radu is inspired by a legendary folk tale from an Eastern European country. Researching that legend was incredibly fascinating and brining him to life in a different way from his legends was extremely rewarding.

Do you have a favourite character in the book?

From the perspective of writing the characters, at the start it was Gabriel. However, after developing the characters in-depth, Jamie was my favourite character to write.

How many hours a day do you write?

On weekdays, I write on average between 6-9 hours a day. On the weekends is when I try to do my editing, reflection, proofreads, plotting, and character or storyline research.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

That I know my characters inside and out before they even get to the page. But from a technical viewpoint, when I am writing I cannot hold a conversation with anyone because my mind is so in the zone that I cannot focus on anything but the story in which I am telling.

What do you think comes first, the plot or characters?

It depends on whether you are writing a character-driven story or a plot-driven story. For me I would say even when a story idea strikes, I tend to focus on who the characters are that are carrying/telling the story, then I will plot out what I want to happen – however the characters can take the story away from the original plot as well, which isn’t a bad thing.

How do you develop your characters?

I love developing my characters, it is so much fun. For ‘Curse of Stone’ I created a character book that has each character’s biography, background, quirks, and storylines in it, as well as drawings or photos of physical features that I wanted for each. The book is about 100 pages long as it has characters in it that weren’t in the first book but will be arriving in either book 2 or 3.

My methods for character development are intense. I can tell you everything about them, most of which never hits the page. I do this because I want to have my characters authentically respond and react to situations, with language specific to them. I’m not going to give away all my secrets here.

How much world building did you do before writing this book?

Because it is set in a city, there wasn’t much world building to do. However, I did have to think about the layout and complexity of getting around the city to each location in the book. So, I guess I did a bit.

What was the hardest scene to write?

This is an interesting question. If I were answering this generically, it would be any intimate or lovey-dovey scenes because I get squeamish writing them. However, the hardest scene to write was the funeral scene and then the final chapters.

What surprised you the most while writing this book?

The character of Velkan. Originally, he was going to be the main character’s main love interest and then would form a love triangle with another, but as Jamie’s character voice became stronger and more complex, Velkan’s character became not what I had originally planned and that surprised me.

If your book was turned into a movie, what celebrities would play your characters?

To be honest, I have given this a bit of thought already – not saying that it would ever happen, but it’s fun to think about. If it were to be made into a movie, I wouldn’t want any well-known actors or actresses to portray my characters – unless it was a background character.

I have set people in mind for the main characters and even the additional characters. I won’t say anything more except that I saw them on Instagram.

Writing can be an emotionally draining and stressful pursuit. Any tips for aspiring writers?

When you are in the nitty gritty of writing your story, you are extremely focused, and it is mentally exhausting. Some days, when I have been writing since dawn, I am exhausted by three or five in the afternoon and literally cannot do anything else that would stimulate my brain. So, I watch a movie – one that I have seen before so I am not as interested.

I guess it’s important to keep good health, take moments to breath and take in your surroundings, eat good food, stay away from negative stimuli, believe in your story, practice your craft, and get a good night’s sleep – however that last one I cannot claim I do, as I suffer from insomnia and barely get 1-3 hours’ sleep a night.

Yes, so eat well, live well, take breaks, and sleep, because being mentally exhausted is just as taxing on the body as being physically exhausted.

How do you deal with reviews, do you read them?

I love reviews – good and bad. Critical reviews make writers better at their craft and I know that may not be a common opinion but who else can give you brutally honest feedback than a disgruntled reader. I haven’t received any negative feedback about ‘Curse of Stone’ yet but have received complimentary reviews so far.

What can we expect in book two of this series? Any snippets you can share about the future of the characters?

I have an array of wonderfully crafted new creatures to introduce. More plots twists. In book two, the readers will get to know Gabriel’s story more, as well as some of the other werewolves.

There will just be more explanation and the ‘why’ of certain characters.

The second book takes the characters out of the city of Estermoore and into different realms, so the world building for the second and third books is more elaborate.

I know those who have read the book are wondering what happens to Jamie, well, I have something lined up for his character – but I am not willing to give out any details yet.

What are you working on right now? Could you share any details with readers?

I have just finished the editing and publishing of an anthology of works by our local writers’ group. I have my non-fiction book coming out shortly about Africa, which I have been working on for the past five years.

I have finished a new standalone novel that is really cool, and I have several other manuscripts on the go.

Are you on social media and can your readers interact with you?

I am on Instagram @nikkinzwriter; Twitter @nikkinzwriter; Facebook @nikkilockwoodnz; and I also have a website and blog www.nikkilockwood.com. And yes, I will respond to legitimate comments and questions, not spam or irrelevant nonsense.

Curse of Stone‘ is available in paperback and e-book formats on Amazon.com.

Writers Block

I actually touched on writer’s block in my post ‘What makes you a writer? Self doubt and writing’, about how a blank page wasn’t a bad thing, but an opportunity.

Writers block is an interesting one for me, because I would say I am never sparse in ideas. I have to keep a journal because my ideas come at the weirdest times, and especially in my dreams. My dreams, about 2-3 times a week, are the most bizarre things ever, from waking up in cold sweats, scared, to my heart pounding in my chest at the happiness – it is utter madness. But in that respect, I never have writers block starting a new piece of writing because I turn back to my journals and expand on ideas. It’s a wonderful and kept very close to me – a great source of inspiration.

The part where I suffer writers block from is when getting into the nitty-gritty of a manuscript, and I have all the action scenes planned out, but those are what I call the ‘boring bits’ – the link scenes, I find my mind goes a wash with a blankness. It is like trying to find a pin in a haystack, near damn impossible. But I normally stare at my screen, scratch my head, check my phone, make some lunch/dinner, pay a bill, buy something online, then sit back down again. If that doesn’t work, I pause it all, leave my screen open where I stopped and do something else, normally read a story or watch a movie that gives me inspiration or ideas pop out from. Not the ideas from the film, but it might a line or the colour of a jacket, or a set of eyes, that triggers my brain back into gear.

If I am really stuck, I leave it for a few days, weeks, even months, until I can plan it out. Otherwise depending on my mood and other projects on the go (yes, I do always have several writing projects on the go), I may tackle it head on and brainstorm what it needs to lead to or what I want to happen, and that helps gives me slightly more direction. Sometimes I discover exactly what I was missing, the missing link.

Writers block can be both good and bad. One, it gives a writer the chance to reset or refresh – by the time they take from stepping away from a project and then coming back to it with a fresh mindset. Two, it can be very maddening because sometimes we have an idea but either don’t know how to convey it from our minds onto paper, or we don’t know where to start. Either way, don’t become angry or annoyed with yourself if your mind is blank or the words fail to pour from you – it is natural and not every artist is struck with brilliance every second of every day.

Comparative Poetry Analysis: Five Poems by different poets with the theme of ‘vampire’.

In 1897, poet Rudyard Kipling diversified the genre of romantic poetry by addressing the subject of vampirism. Kipling’s poem ‘The Vampire’,was inspired by a painting of a woman depicted as a vampire with teeth bared, and while it was mildly erotic, she was predatory.

Kipling talked about the relationship between the fool and the woman, constantly referring to “she will never understand,” that her unscrupulous exploitation of him left him dead inside but still walking. He used ‘vampire’ as an allegory for her nature and tried to get sympathy for men by persuading readers that females of any species are more deadly than the male.

It is written narratively as if Kipling was a bystander. He used rhythm to control the enthusiasm and intensity, breaking it up with exclamation marks and italics, giving it a light-hearted lyrical tone.

It is a short poem – only six stanzas. His rhyme scheme is unusual but controlled – in stanza one the rhyme scheme is ABCACB, stanza two – DEFFE. Each stanza has its own rhyme.

The depiction of a vampiric woman was common in early poetry. Henry Thomas Liddell, a British poet published ‘The Vampire Bride (I am come – I am come!)’ in 1833.

A tale of a female vampire married by “nuptial pledge,” to a human man, preparing his body for an eternal undead life with her, draining the “warm life-blood” from him. Reaffirmed by line, “to-morrow be laid on a colder bed – Albert! that bed will be mine!” This highlights inequality of the sexes through property ownership. Prior to the Reform Act 1832, a rare number of female property owners had permission to vote. However, when the Act passed, women in Britain were officially banned from voting.

Alternate lines are indented for line continuation and to amplify the rhyme, pace, and feeling of the poem. Liddell, like Kipling, used many exclamation marks, creating an excited flow.

While not free verse, it is structured by a rhyme scheme in line two, eleven and twelve. Within the lines, lexical repetitions are found, emphasizing the imagery – ‘I’, ‘she’, ‘and’.

I liked the imagery of the word ‘shround’, and how it relates to the man lying on a bed, “like a corpse”. The word is miss-spelt, as ‘shrouds’ are the cloths wrapped around a person for burial.

Shrouds are also mentioned in ‘Oil and Blood’, by William Butler Yeats. Written in 1927, the imagery is vivid, “Their shrouds are bloody and their lips are wet.”

Yeats used vampire to describe the subjects, but used “tombs of old and lapis lazuli,” to paint a different image. Liddell and Kipling depicted life-sucking women, but Yeats talked of men and women surrounded by lapis lazuli – a deep, celestial blue stone, which remains the symbol of royalty, gods and honour.

With a singular stanza consisting of six lines, there is no rhyme scheme or rhythm, and appears to be free verse.

Poet, Madison Julius Cawein, was opposed to free verse, adhering to strict poetic structures. In 1896, Cawein published an iambic tetrameter sonnet, ‘The Vampire’. Sonnets typically are about love, but Cawein talks of beauty, mortality or lack thereof. Almost love in reversal – the abuse of love by power. Reiterated by the female vampire preying on men.

Middle-class men during this era sought the services of prostitutes. Prostitutes were labelled as ‘problems’ – men blamed them for ‘infecting’ the male population with sexually transmitted diseases. In 1860, the Contagious Diseases Act passed, which forced ‘infected’ women into asylums.

The poem was published in 1896, interestingly, the same time when suffragettes protested to change the law-enabled male exploitation of women. Some men brushed it off, H. G. Wells said, “the vote for women was an isolated fad and…an epidemic madness that would…pass.”

The strict alternative rima rhyme scheme used in this poem is ABAB in each stanza.

His imagery of her dark features and pale skin are vivid, and “of hell may smile…witch-words…the spell binds me to a fiend,” symbolizes her power over him.

“She rose among us…darkness shot across the sky…with mouth so sweet, so poisonous…blood-red moon…burning eyes…to thin the blood along our veins…possess me secretly…and darkness fell…” – such vivid imagery and portrayal of a woman preying on a man. Conrad Aiken’s “The Vampire,” in 1914, is chilling and beautiful.

Leading up to World War One, suffragettes were referred to as militants, used violence, alongside protesting, saying “they were at war with the British Government.”

With the makings of a ballad, it is a long poem of fourteen octave stanza’s – made up of two quatrains mostly. It’s about a beautiful female vampire using her beauty to lead men to their doom.

During this era women were only supposed to have sex with their husband. If she had sexual contact with another man, she was considered ‘ruined’.

The language used conveys intense and defined images, “basilisk eyes…skies grown red with rending flames.”

The rhyme scheme is aaabcccb for the octave stanzas. In the seven lined stanzas the rhyme scheme is ggghiih.

Literary device – anaphora, has been used at the beginning of successive lines, i.e. “she,” “and,” “with,” “we,” and is repeated throughout for artistic effect and to persuade emotions of readers.

Of all the poems my favourite was ‘The Vampire’ by Conrad Aiken, because of the language used to create sinister and vivid images.

Word count 786 (excluding quotes).

Reference List

Czaja, K. (2012). The vampire: poetry Friday. Retrieved fromhttps://www.katyaczaja.com/posts/pf34/

Kipling, R. (1987). The vampire. Retrieved from https://www.bartleby.com/364/121.html

Liddell, H.T. (1833). The vampire bride (I am come-I am come!). Retrieved from https://poets.org/poem/vampire-bride-i-am-come-i-am-come

Yeats, W.B. (1927). William Butler Yeats. Retrieved from https://www.poemhunter.com/poem/oil-and-blood/

Crystal Vaults. (2009). Lapis lazuli meanings and uses. Retrieved from https://www.crystalvaults.com/crystal-encyclopedia/lapis

Cawein, M.J. (1896). The vampire. Retrieved from https://theyearofhalloween.com/2011/10/18/the-vampire/

Aiken, C. (1914). The vampire. Retrieved from https://poets.org/poem/vampire

Wikipedia. (2019). Women’s suffrage in the United Kingdom. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women%27s_suffrage_in_the_United_Kingdom

Wikipedia. (2019). Women in the Victorian era.  Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women_in_the_Victorian_era#Sexuality

Neale, R.S. (1967). Working-class women and women’s suffrage. Labour history, volume 12, pp. 16. Retrieved from https://www.jstor.org/stable/27507859?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents

Winsor, M. (1914). The militant suffrage movement. The annals of the American academy of political and social science, volume 56, pp. 134. Retrieved from https://www.jstor.org/stable/1011988?seq=1#metadata_info_tab_contents

Hughes, K. (2014). Gender roles in the 19th century. Retrieved from https://www.bl.uk/romantics-and-victorians/articles/gender-roles-in-the-19th-century

Wallis, J. (2012). Looking back: this fascinating and fatal disease. The British psychological society, volume 25, pp. 790-791. Retrieved from https://thepsychologist.bps.org.uk/volume-25/edition-10/looking-back-fascinating-and-fatal-disease

O’Brien, C. (2004). Looking at the female of the species. Retrieved from https://www.jiscmail.ac.uk/cgi-bin/webadmin?A2=rudyard-kipling;6f3cfbea.0405

Author Interview: Curse of Stone by Nikki Lockwood

Interview with Nikki Lockwood – The Author of the ‘Curse of Stone’.

What inspired you to write this book?

This idea actually came to me in a dream that was persistent over several weeks. It was Gabriel’s character that was in the dream, and his brothers. Their curse and existence were intriguing and complex, and then when the girl came into the picture (in my dream) I knew there was a story to be told here.

Can you tell me about the book?

When a strange man starts following her, and weird things start occurring, she turns to her best friend, Jamie, who is secretly a werewolf and knows more than he is telling her.  

When the great-aunt appears, things start to spiral further into danger. Danielle doesn’t know that she is being hunted by an ancient demon, and minions of evil are coming for her.

Enter Gabriel. A cursed man – and a gargoyle, he is searching for his healer – the one human female destined to break his curse. He must find her before evil does.

It’s really the old tale of good versus evil, but they are racing against the clock.

What does the title mean?

Curse of Stone has a complex meaning. It relates to an actual curse that becomes known in the book. The curse is about three stones, hence curse of stone. Three stones, one of blood, one of light, and one bound. The one of blood is the healer or the main character, Danielle. The one of light is a precious gem (stone) not of earth’s realm and is the necklace mentioned in the book. The one bound that relates to the man cursed in stone – and the second male character, Gabriel, who is a gargoyle. To understand how they interrelate you’ll need to read the book.

Were the characters inspired by real people?

Yes and no. To be honest, the character of Jamie is based on a person I once knew (obviously not with the same name). But his personality is based on several people.

Gabriel is not based on a real person, but his mannerism and the way he carries himself was inspired by a real person.

The character of Radu is inspired by a legendary folk tale from an Eastern European country. Researching that legend was incredibly fascinating and brining him to life in a different way from his legends was extremely rewarding.

Do you have a favourite character in the book?

From the perspective of writing the characters, at the start it was Gabriel. However, after developing the characters in-depth, Jamie was my favourite character to write.

How many hours a day do you write?

On weekdays, I write on average between 6-9 hours a day. On the weekends is when I try to do my editing, reflection, proofreads, plotting, and character or storyline research.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

That I know my characters inside and out before they even get to the page. But from a technical viewpoint, when I am writing I cannot hold a conversation with anyone because my mind is so in the zone that I cannot focus on anything but the story in which I am telling.

What do you think comes first, the plot or characters?

It depends on whether you are writing a character-driven story or a plot-driven story. For me I would say even when a story idea strikes, I tend to focus on who the characters are that are carrying/telling the story, then I will plot out what I want to happen – however the characters can take the story away from the original plot as well, which isn’t a bad thing.

How do you develop your characters?

I love developing my characters, it is so much fun. For ‘Curse of Stone’ I created a character book that has each character’s biography, background, quirks, and storylines in it, as well as drawings or photos of physical features that I wanted for each. The book is about 100 pages long as it has characters in it that weren’t in the first book but will be arriving in either book 2 or 3.

My methods for character development are intense. I can tell you everything about them, most of which never hits the page. I do this because I want to have my characters authentically respond and react to situations, with language specific to them. I’m not going to give away all my secrets here.

How much world building did you do before writing this book?

Because it is set in a city, there wasn’t much world building to do. However, I did have to think about the layout and complexity of getting around the city to each location in the book. So, I guess I did a bit.

What was the hardest scene to write?

This is an interesting question. If I were answering this generically, it would be any intimate or lovey-dovey scenes because I get squeamish writing them. However, the hardest scene to write was the funeral scene and then the final chapters.

What surprised you the most while writing this book?

The character of Velkan. Originally, he was going to be the main character’s main love interest and then would form a love triangle with another, but as Jamie’s character voice became stronger and more complex, Velkan’s character became not what I had originally planned and that surprised me.

If your book was turned into a movie, what celebrities would play your characters?

To be honest, I have given this a bit of thought already – not saying that it would ever happen, but it’s fun to think about. If it were to be made into a movie, I wouldn’t want any well-known actors or actresses to portray my characters – unless it was a background character.

I have set people in mind for the main characters and even the additional characters. I won’t say anything more except that I saw them on Instagram.

Writing can be an emotionally draining and stressful pursuit. Any tips for aspiring writers?

When you are in the nitty gritty of writing your story, you are extremely focused, and it is mentally exhausting. Some days, when I have been writing since dawn, I am exhausted by three or five in the afternoon and literally cannot do anything else that would stimulate my brain. So, I watch a movie – one that I have seen before so I am not as interested.

I guess it’s important to keep good health, take moments to breath and take in your surroundings, eat good food, stay away from negative stimuli, believe in your story, practice your craft, and get a good night’s sleep – however that last one I cannot claim I do, as I suffer from insomnia and barely get 1-3 hours’ sleep a night.

Yes, so eat well, live well, take breaks, and sleep, because being mentally exhausted is just as taxing on the body as being physically exhausted.

How do you deal with reviews, do you read them?

I love reviews – good and bad. Critical reviews make writers better at their craft and I know that may not be a common opinion but who else can give you brutally honest feedback than a disgruntled reader. I haven’t received any negative feedback about ‘Curse of Stone’ yet but have received complimentary reviews so far.

What can we expect in book two of this series? Any snippets you can share about the future of the characters?

I have an array of wonderfully crafted new creatures to introduce. More plots twists. In book two, the readers will get to know Gabriel’s story more, as well as some of the other werewolves.

There will just be more explanation and the ‘why’ of certain characters.

The second book takes the characters out of the city of Estermoore and into different realms, so the world building for the second and third books is more elaborate.

I know those who have read the book are wondering what happens to Jamie, well, I have something lined up for his character – but I am not willing to give out any details yet.

What are you working on right now? Could you share any details with readers?

I have just finished the editing and publishing of an anthology of works by our local writers’ group. I have my non-fiction book coming out shortly about Africa, which I have been working on for the past five years.

I have finished a new standalone novel that is really cool, and I have several other manuscripts on the go.

Are you on social media and can your readers interact with you?

I am on Instagram @nikkinzwriter; Twitter @nikkinzwriter; Facebook @nikkilockwoodnz; and I also have a website and blog www.nikkilockwood.com. And yes, I will respond to legitimate comments and questions, not spam or irrelevant nonsense.

Curse of Stone‘ is available in paperback and e-book formats on Amazon.com.

Authors and Social Media Platforms: Stephen King

The use of social media is not one that is alien to people of today posting pictures of their kids, what they ate for breakfast, etc., so it comes as no surprise that the King of horror, Stephen King, is active on social media promoting his work, projects and waffling on about his dogs. But only the King of horror could get close to 80k likes on a photo of his sleeping dog and still retain his 1.1Million followers on Instagram.

Stephen Edwin King dubbed the King of Horror by critics and fans alike, was born in 1947 in the United States. His career includes 58 published novels, has sold over 350 million copies, and many of his books have been adapted into movies. This American author writes horror, supernatural fiction, suspense, science fiction, and fantasy.

Stephen King has a presence on many social media sites, but especially Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

Instagram is a social media platform that is image-based, allowing for a small comment section underneath. Stephen King established his presence on this platform in October 2013. Since then he has only posted 92 times and recently the posts are down to 1-3 posts per month. Given his fame, as an author, it is not surprising that he has 1.1million followers on this platform and retains them, no matter how little he posts. Even with minimal posts, his personality shines through on his comments on his posts. He is quite a character with a quirky sense of humour, it feels like he is the type of person who laughs at his own jokes and doesn’t care.

His Instagram posts consist of mainly of pictures of his dogs, his friends, himself and what he is up to, his books, snippets of audio books, his characters that have been made into novelty items i.e. Pennywise cereal, snippets of new short stories he is writing, magazine covers. While his Instagram is eventful, it is used as a mixture of self-promotion and author promotion. He gives us glimpses into his home/personal life and then the next post will be about his books or a movie that is an adaption of his book. There is a little pattern between his posts on Instagram, it’s like work, work, home, work, home, home, work. I don’t think this pattern is intentional, but I noticed it.

It is quite clever how he balances his posts between home and work life, but as he is an already established and well-known author, those posts about his dogs does not affect his presence.

On Instagram, you cannot post any hyperlink text or website links in the comments below each post, as it simply won’t hyperlink. Stephen King combats this by having a business account, which has been verified as truly being him by the small verified tick and placing his hyperlinked website address in his bio space. He gets anywhere between 70k-160k likes per post and between 351-3,200 comments per post. That is high engagement with his audience by Instagram influencer standards.

I think Instagram is a great platform, but it is clearly not King’s main social media platform because if I look at his Facebook page where he has over 5million followers, he posts 1-2 times every 2-3 days. This, of course, is unless he has something on his mind, like his wife being insulted by a recent article.

Facebook is a social networking website that users can join for free and share pictures, comments, videos, and post links. It also has the feature of being able to do a live chat, private messaging, and you can buy goods and services on Facebook.

On King’s page in the about section, he has a hyperlink website address to his website. There is a message me button placed under his profile picture, and I suspect that while yes you can send the page a private message, like most celebrities, it is not read or answered by the person the page is about. If you do receive a response it is most likely from a manager, agent or other assigned employee of that celebrity.

The content of King’s posts are links to other Facebook page’s dedicated to his adapted films, his books, or critics reviews. He shares movie trailers that have been adapted from his books, and what audiences and critics reactions are to those movie trailers. He shares videos and pictures of projects he is currently working on, links to talks he has done, nominations for awards, short stories he has read and what his critique is on them or suggestions to the author. I like that he also shares his random peculiar thoughts with his followers, it makes him a very interesting character to follow.

I found that while his Facebook posts get anywhere between 2,000-50k likes, 50-10k comments, and 30-20K shares, per post, there is a lot of repetition of posts. King will share the same movie trailer or audiobook sample 3-4 times over a few weeks. I didn’t like the repetition, but it is an effective marketing tool, as those who didn’t see the first post, may see it on a new post two days later. His posting is consistent to the once or twice every 2-3 days.

Facebook is an incredible marketing platform for King, as each post has a ripple effect, making his post reach further than just the people who follow him. If one post is shared say 20,000 times, each of those 20,000 people has followers that will see this post on their newsfeed, giving them the potential to share it on further. The reach is unlimited on Facebook and that makes it incredibly powerful for marketing and promotion, especially to someone established like Stephen King.

The consistency and reach of King’s posts on Facebook could make you think that this is his main social media presence but in fact, there is one better in engagement for King. Twitter, the online news and social networking site where people communicate in short messages called tweets, like microblogging but with a restriction of 280 characters per tweet.

It is on this platform that King has 5.1million followers, and posts between 1-3 times, every 1-2 days, making this his most used platform.

King uses Twitter as his platform to voice his opinions on political issues, especially Trump, and other issues he feels strongly about. He doesn’t do this on his other platforms, which is quite curious to me. He tweets about the best short stories he has read, small excerpts from his books, issues with writing and editors, book reviews, to tell jokes occasionally and talk about his thoughts and ideas. The idea of an author tweeting strongly about political issues and their stance on it is something I find taboo, however as an American, this is something very publicly discussed, and King doesn’t lose engagement or audience over it.

King also uses the platform to retweet reviews about his books by others, film reviews, and film trailers. He also likes to use hashtags on Twitter, where he does do that at all on Instagram. The other thing he does on Twitter that he doesn’t do on Instagram is tag people using the @ symbol, this tags them in his post and will send them a notification of him doing so. By tagging someone in his post and using hashtags he is furthering his audience reach because anyone searching by hashtag will come across his tweet and the audience of the tagged person will also see the tweet.

King has a hyperlink to his website in his bio section, as he does not post hyperlinked text or website addresses within his tweet. Doing this is clever because a follower must click into his tweet, follow it back to his Twitter account and then click onto his website link. It creates traffic to his page and website, and anyone who knows anything about marketing knows that generating traffic to website and accounts is a valuable tool.

Whatever King tweets about he is generating a huge amount of engagement with his audience. Each post can get anywhere between 140-15K comments, 200-120K likes, and 200-5k retweets. This is huge engagement on each post and that makes this platform the most valuable to King in the promotion of not only himself but his work as well.

After analysing each social media platform Stephen King is active on, there is on clear thing I picked up on. It doesn’t matter whether he posts about his books, his dogs having a sleep, his anti-Trump opinions, or his random thoughts, whatever he posts is gold.  Whether he posts once a month or once a day he attracts high engagement and his followers grow.

I don’t personally follow Stephen King on any platform because I do not like horror genre anything, but after reading each post on his Instagram, this would be the account I would follow. This is because his posts are humorous, his quirky personality shines through in his comments and it made me laugh. I really got a feel for his personality, I liked it and found it relatable.

I think for anyone that is not Stephen King you have to be cautious posting your personal opinions about things like politics on your social media accounts if you use them for the promotion of your writing and work. There is a fine line between preaching and opinionated, and I don’t like to be preached to. That is my opinion on that little thing.

I do like that on his Facebook and Twitter accounts, he gives critique to novels and short stories he has read, offering the authors perhaps valuable insight to their writing or where they have used a filler. It is quite interesting to read his take on these books and then to read them myself and see if I pick up on them. I like that he isn’t harsh with his words, but his words are helpful. 

It seems no matter what he posts or where he goes Stephen King has sway, an audience of magnitude follows him. He keeps the appearance and layout of his accounts professional and I think he approaches social media with a minimal is the best approach, especially for Facebook and Instagram. With the number of followers, he has, I think he can afford to be minimalistic on his posting. He makes practical use of his accounts and each one has a different feel to it.

Writing Analysis: Subplots – The Awakening by L.J. Smith (The Vampire Diaries series)

The Awakening is the first book in The Vampire Dairies series, and it follows the story of Elena Gilbert who is a doppelganger for a centuries old vampire who caused romantic havoc between a pair of brothers, Stefan and Damon. The book follows Elena’s readjustment to normal life after losing her parents in an accident, facing ex-boyfriends, navigating high-school, and her attraction to the mysterious hot new boy, Stefan.

What I liked about this was the subplot, see although the plot is as above, the subplot also follows Elena, and her encounters with a black crow, not knowing that it is Stefan’s brother Damon stalking her. The crow appears at the most harrowing times and causes unease in Elena. This leaves me as the reader, unsettled slightly, as I believe something wicked is lurking.

The subplot is crucial to moving the story forward because it lays the foundation for the entrance of Stefan’s brother Damon and shows us without knowing that his personality is darker, and more dangerous than that of Stefan’s. It also leads to Damon’s fascination with Elena.