Stephanie Wood's Blog

February 15, 2018

Life is the greatest book you'll ever write!

I’m not a movie star. I’m not a member of royalty. I’m not a celebrity. I’m not even a best-selling author (yet!). That doesn’t mean I don’t have a life – and quite an interesting life at that. It wouldn’t be the choice of many people and to be honest it wasn’t my choice either, but it’s the life I’ve been given and it has recently changed the way I see the world in a multitude of ways.

I had expected my next few years to be full of research and writing, edits and rewrites, promotion and communication. That was supposed to give me the basis of a successful writing career with a more organised schedule and things were going according to plan when life suddenly got in the way.

It is a well-known fact that many authors prefer solitude and peace while writing but this doesn’t mean they live like hermits. They still have family and friends, but these people usually accept that they must fall down the list of priorities as the deadline for a piece of writing approaches. Until the worst happens.

When someone you love develops health issues and requires much more of your time, you think nothing of dropping everything to be at their side and help in any way you can. This is just as true for authors, despite their usual avoidance behaviour. It may not be easy to leave a half-finished project, but it pales into insignificance when life throws a curve ball and makes you see what is more important.

Last year life threw that curve ball at me and my writing stopped instantaneously.

In the darkest times, when I didn’t know what I was dealing with or how to get the right kind of help, I thought life was cruel and so exhausting that I was never going to see the light at the end of the tunnel. My life in those days was like living in a bubble of stress and frustration while the huge padlock made sure I was trapped in that routine without hope of returning to the life I thought I should be living.

Happily, I have now learned to reduce the stress and get extra help to overcome the frustration. I am no longer trapped in that bubble and I am starting to see that distant light which assures me I will soon be back in the saddle doing the job that I love.

When I look back at those early days of confusion, I no longer see the despair and devastation which I experienced on the surface. I can now appreciate the emotional upheaval from another perspective and recognise how those events gave me a greater understanding of devotion, determination and durability.

I will be happy to slowly but surely find my way back to writing and publishing more stories, but I will do so knowing that my understanding of the human psyche has grown in such a way that I may phrase comments slightly differently and with more depth. A broken leg makes a person realise that they will have to walk gently, a broken heart makes a person realise that they must tread gently with other peoples’ feelings.

I thought my life was heading in a certain direction and I swept aside many diversions to stay on that path, until I was handed an obligation that couldn’t be ignored. Instead of feeling that my dream had been destroyed and there was nothing but a dark hole devouring me, I can see that the experiences I endured have changed my view on the world and I feel much stronger with a more compassionate understanding of society.

If someone had asked me to write about a devastating and life-changing experience a couple of years ago I would have found it a very difficult assignment. Now I know that the ups and downs of life are not just something to be endured, they are something to appreciate, learn from and live alongside on a day to day basis.

I will carry my experiences into my writing with a new appreciation of how life can change in an instant. It has to be the best prompt for writing there is and that’s why I believe it will give me the most perfect situations for the greatest book I could ever write – life!

Stephanie xx
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Published on February 15, 2018 07:23

April 21, 2017

There’s a reason you picked up that book…

What is it about a particular book that makes you want to dive straight in? Are you swayed by the colours in the image, or the phrasing of the title, or simply the author’s name? Does the genre or the location make an impact? If the book claims to be similar to another author’s work, does that ensure a purchase or send you running for the hills?

Recently, I’ve seen a trend in people listing their reasons for wanting to read a book – and also for NOT wanting to read a book. I can understand most of the reasons for their emotional reactions, but I don’t necessarily feel the same way, so I’ve decided to create my own list of five things that make me want / not want to read a book.

I want to read a book if:

The cover displays an image (real or illustrated) which draws me in and makes me feel that I could be enjoying that view as the story unfolds.

It is set in Greece. No explanation required!

It has a short and effective blurb, focusing on one character and the dilemma they are facing.

There is a good range of ranking in reviews and not 100% 5 star comments. It’s not possible for every single person to love the book and it just looks false.

The author is one of my favourites: James Patterson, Paulo Coelho, Jodi Picoult. Between the three of them all my reading requirements are fulfilled.

I do not want to read a book if:

It is over 400 pages long. I am currently only able to read in short bursts so by the time I reach page 350 I often don’t care about the story anymore and just want it to end.

There is bad grammar or punctuation in the blurb or the ‘look inside’ section. This shouldn’t even be a thing, but it happens more often than I can bear.

The subject matter contains horror/fantasy/pre-twentieth century/vampires/death. I know each of these subjects has a massive following, but they’re just not for me.

The main character has to endure heart-wrenching scenarios, even if they succeed in the end. A little confusion or jeopardy is acceptable, but I don’t want to suffer while I’m reading.

The blurb is littered with too much praise from other authors. I just want to read a concise description of the storyline – I’ll make up my own mind, thank you.

So, I can imagine some of you nodding to my suggestions and others are screaming at me with indignation. I’m sorry if I offended anyone, but I’m not saying everyone should feel this way; it’s purely personal. There are quite a few more things which stop me from picking up a book, but I’ve limited myself to five for now so I may come back to those in a later post.

If you agree / disagree with some of my points I’d be happy to hear about it and - who knows - if I visit this subject again in another year, maybe my list will be completely different by then anyway. This blog just marks a specific moment in time and my approach to reading right now so it really would be fun if I find a stunning book which breaks some of these rules…

Please don’t let my comments stop you from recommending books you feel I should be aware of; when I get your notifications I read each and every one in the hope of discovering something new and fascinating to add to my shelves.

With that in mind let me wish you, as always, happy reading xx
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Published on April 21, 2017 09:20

February 19, 2017

Wowzers! The books that gave me a hangover…

On my Goodreads shelves I have rated thirty-five books (to date) as a 5 star read. These books struck a chord with me because of their plot, characterisation, exceptional descriptions or talented writing.

Nine of these books have been singled out and categorised as ‘wowzers’ because they stimulated an emotion within me which could not be defined.

Only one of these is non-fiction, (Quiet by Susan Cain) which challenged my perception of my own psychological behaviour. I had always recognised, understood and accepted the way I behaved, even when it didn’t fit with traditional society, but giving it a name – introversion – made it so much easier to believe that I could succeed with my life plans instead of having to disguise them.

The other books are all fiction, although some are based on true incidents, so it is surprising that I still feel a psychological influence within the emotions aroused by the stories they tell. These are the books I have shelved:
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas (John Boyne)
Room (Emma Donoghue)
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (Mark Haddon)
The Island (Victoria Hislop)
The Storyteller (Jodi Picoult)
The Zahir (Paulo Coelho)
11/22/63 (Stephen King)
Before I Go to Sleep (SJ Watson)

Immediately you can see that each book is completely different from the others but they all had a profound effect on me as I read them. I’ve only had a book hangover (the inability to move on from a book) a few times in my life and these books were responsible for those periods. Even now, when I see one of these titles, or hear of someone reading one of these books, I remember how each one made me feel and how it affected my view on the world for some time afterwards.

I appreciate that not everyone will react in the same way I did and these books would never appear on the reading list for some people, but that just makes me love them even more. It’s because I feel they spoke to me in a specific way and changed how I was feeling that marks them out as special and exactly what I needed to read at that moment in time to enrich my mind and my emotions.

I know from experience that we all enjoy different genres and the prose which has one person elated will leave another flat (which is why The Girl on the Train did nothing for me!) but I welcome those differences and I’m glad that there are plenty of books out there to fulfil each predilection. I still refuse to rate a book as 1, 2 or 3 star for this specific reason, preferring to shelve them as ‘not for me’ or ‘average’ if people really want to discover my response.

I would be interested to know if any of you have any ‘wowzers’ of your own that you would like to share. I often receive book recommendations from my friends here on Goodreads, which I am grateful for, but I’d really like to know about those books which gave you a hangover and have left their mark on you in some way.

I look forward to hearing your views but, for now, happy reading xx
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Published on February 19, 2017 02:07

December 9, 2016

When Inspiration Strikes!

I’ve often wondered where other authors find their inspiration and, more importantly, when it strikes them.
Do they sit and meditate (aka having a cup of tea and a muffin!) until they experience that flash of brilliance which sets them off on a new path? Do they suddenly notice their muse making suggestions as they do their daily chores? Do they hear a revelation whilst queuing at the supermarket which delivers a new plot line for their main character? Could it be that inspiration only strikes when an author has done enough research to feel comfortable with planning a story around any given subject?

I suppose that all the above could be true for individual authors and, possibly, each author could have experienced each separate situation at different times in their lives and for different story lines.

For me, my writing life usually follows a given routine, but that is mainly due to my personal responsibilities during the day. I’m not in a position to stop what I’m doing to write down a good idea for a character or scene, so I try to avoid that part of my life while I am busy. I have found that this allows me to focus more intently during the time I have available and, happily, the ideas flow quite readily.

I usually find that inspiration strikes in the morning as I am preparing for the day. I can be in the shower, or brushing my teeth or relaxing over breakfast and the characters I have got to know so well seem to present themselves with a suggestion of a new journey they would like to take. Usually it’s quite an understandable step as I’m constantly aware of their ongoing story line, but sometimes I’m taken by surprise and realise that the idea began in my subconscious and only had time to develop because I stepped away from it and gave it space to breathe.

At this stage I quickly jot down the basic information in my notebook as previous ideas have been lost in the hustle and bustle of the day, but I don’t act on it immediately. It may be the only inspiration I have that week but, if I’m lucky, there will be several other ideas kicking around at the same time and I prefer to assess them all together.

When I get a free evening with a cuppa on the sofa, I take out the notebook and review the outlines I’ve imagined, choosing the ones which excite me the most. This is when I write out - by hand – a detailed synopsis for that scene or chapter or, sometimes, a character’s role in a complete book! If any phrasing or dialogue makes itself clear at that stage I will make a note as I go along, but mostly I focus on the character and how their emotions lead their actions. I use these notes, which are often quite extensive, as the basis of my writing so that I have a clear plan of what the issues are and how they will unfold. That gives me a relatively relaxed way to enjoy the actual writing process, where I have the information I need to create believable dialogue and can introduce any unusual situations with confidence.

I never read any “how to” books about writing and I’ve taken professional advice as a suggestion rather than an instruction. This doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate the effort put into the guidance they can provide, but I wouldn’t be comfortable changing the way I write to conform to usual expectations. My inspiration occurs naturally and I trust that my writing reads the same way. I hope I will continue to be motivated to create stories around the characters I love and I sincerely hope people will enjoy reading them, regardless of how the ideas originated.

Whatever the future brings, I always wake with optimism that some amazing thought will introduce itself to me as I prepare for the chores ahead. It’s a great start to the day!

I hope you will have an inspirational day too.
Happy reading x
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Published on December 09, 2016 02:51

August 27, 2016

Celebrating Christmas in the summertime!

As August draws to a close I frequently hear people telling their friends not to mention the ‘C’ word. They refuse to accept that the festive season is only four months away because it’s still warm and sunny and any thoughts of dark winter mornings need to be pushed back until at least Halloween.

As a fan of balmy beach days in the sun I can see their point but, for some of us, it isn’t that simple.

As an author of books which comprise a summer series and a Christmas series, I usually find I am writing about one whilst appreciating the reality of the other. It is no longer unusual for me to be planning Christmas activities in the midst of a heat wave, even if it is only on behalf of my characters! Conversely, I am just as likely to be researching water sports and boat trips in Greece while sipping egg nog and wrapping presents!

Far from being annoying and materialistic, it is quite liberating to get two bites of the cherry, so to speak. Of course, I can enjoy all the calmness of a day at the beach in summer and the excitement of an afternoon doing Christmas shopping when the season allows, but I can actually experience these things at any other time of the year, just by putting pen to paper. Sometimes the season itself passes by so quickly that it’s nice to have another chance to relive the traditional activities of that moment at my own pace.

In actual fact, I have a twitter account to promote the Christmas series where I only tweet and retweet posts about the festive season, so it’s Christmas every day there!

So now I find myself with a small window of time where I am saying goodbye to the Christmas writing as the books become available for pre-order on Amazon. In around a month’s time I will be starting book ten in the Aegean Sun series which is scheduled for release next summer and I will be using all my senses to create a hot and summery beach read, just as the season is coming to an end.

It sounds as though it should be confusing to write about one season whilst experiencing another, but as I stroll through the scenes with my characters I’m totally focused on their reality until that part of the story is done. Then I look around my own surroundings and come back to my reality, to enjoy whatever joys of the season that may bring.

I expect this will continue for a few years as I develop both series, but it really would throw a spanner in the works if I found myself celebrating Christmas in Australia through their summer!

For now, whether your books are summer or winter based…

Happy reading x
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Published on August 27, 2016 12:39

July 24, 2016

I don’t write like other writers, but it’s all write!

I have recently realised that I don’t write like other writers. It’s not a good thing, or a bad thing, it’s just a statement of truth that hits me when I read a paragraph of prose which beats a different rhythm to the one in my head.

Maybe it’s because I haven’t been trained in the traditional way, but I don’t have any desire to make the description of a tear rolling down a cheek ramble on for three or four paragraphs. In my world she cries, it leaves a salty residue on her lips, she wipes it away and gets on with her life.
There is a genre encompassing family sagas, featuring long drawn out stories spanning the generations to which this form of writing is probably more suited. However, I write for modern kindle readers who expect a selection of different genres, to include fast paced shorter stories which get to the point more quickly and constantly have some action in the mix.
There will always be a market for sagas and descriptive prose, but that doesn’t mean it is the only way to write. It certainly doesn’t mean it has to be the way to write. I think we can all agree that there needs to be a good selection - not only of genre, but of different styles of writing too - and I am just one part of all that.
Like many authors I write the kind of book I would want to read and, by doing that, I write with honesty and avoid the usual laws of traditional publishing. Some say ‘show and don’t tell’ while others advise the opposite; I simply do whatever feels natural in that particular scene as though I am the character carrying out the actions.
Personally I prefer novellas and modern tales, so that is how I form the story of the idea which sparked it into life. I have read other genres, depending on my mood and lifestyle for that particular period in my life, but I don’t change genre often. Therefore, I totally understand that a reader of the saga genre wouldn’t want to read my book as it doesn’t fit that mould.
That is why there are as many different styles of writing as there are different types of personality. Some people enjoy reading a mixture of genres, while some prefer to stick to a tried and trusted favourite.
Book clubs are great places to discover several different opinions about the same book, proving that reading tastes vary from person to person. There are lots of authors writing in different genres with different styles but, luckily, there is room for everyone and I’m glad to be a part of this diverse business!

Happy Reading x
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Published on July 24, 2016 01:44

June 18, 2016


Yes, it’s GIVEAWAY time again! I am offering a chance to win one of two paperback copies of AEGEAN SUN: ROOM 101 to Goodreads members. The giveaway will run between 18th June and 2nd July and is available in several countries.

This would be the ideal opportunity to get to know how the series started and to meet some of the regular characters for the first time. Each year is made up of a trilogy of books which work together, sometimes looking at the same event from different viewpoints. Year 3 has just begun and the second in this trilogy will be published soon.

As a reminder of the series so far, these are the titles making up the series:
Year 1: Room 101, The After Effects, The Diaries.
Year 2: Room 102, The Office, The Wedding.
Year 3: Rooms and Revelations, The High Street, The Airport.

If you haven’t yet had the chance to get to know the Aegean Sun characters, this would be the ideal time to find out about them and I would love to know who your own personal favourite is…

Over the past two years I have truly appreciated my warm welcome to the Goodreads family and now I’d love to welcome you to the Aegean Sun family who, I’m sure, will fill your summer reading with fun and amusement!

Happy Reading x
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Published on June 18, 2016 01:54

May 21, 2016

Amusing holiday anecdotes? Yes, please!

This month is very exciting for me as it marks the publication of book seven in the Aegean Sun series – Rooms and Revelations.

There are two more to follow this summer, forming a trilogy of books for Year 3, as was the case in Year 1 (2014) and Year 2 (2015). I’m having an amazing time writing these books and I’m currently outlining book 10 which I will write in the autumn.

I’ve had some wonderful comments and encouraging feedback from readers of the series so far, and I hope I have managed to incorporate some of their observations successfully into the forthcoming books. If you have experienced any amusing situations on holiday which you think should be included in future books, I would love to hear from you on twitter or facebook:

If you would like to know more about the books themselves, or be advised of new releases and discounted offers, you can subscribe to my newsletter for more information:

Hopefully, now that summer is just around the corner, I will have more time to read some of the recently released holiday books which are building up on my kindle. Let’s just hope that some of that literary sunshine makes its way into our real lives too! I’ve been receiving lots of book recommendations here on Goodreads, so please feel free to let me know if you’ve found a particularly happy and fun summer read :)

Happy reading xx
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Published on May 21, 2016 09:45

April 17, 2016

Where did I find the inspiration to start writing?

This week I was fortunate enough to be interviewed by Greek author Effrosyni Moschoudi on her website about the inspiration behind the Aegean Sun series.

Effrosyni is so amiable that she totally put me at ease and I had a lot of fun answering her questions about the books, but also about some of my personal interests and how I spend my time when I'm not writing.

There are a few photos of my time in Greece which are linked to my comments, so please take a look at my interview and from there you can check out many other author interviews posted by Effrosyni, along with lots of other interesting links.

My interview can be found here:
and I look forward to answering any questions you might have there!

Happy reading x
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Published on April 17, 2016 04:02

March 17, 2016

Will the forthcoming bad weather change my protagonist’s mood?

Today the sun is shining and I’m happily writing a lovely romantic scene between two people who have grown to love each other very deeply. They are gazing into each other’s eyes and promising that their love will last forever, whatever life may throw their way.

I am happy for them and hope they mean what they say because tomorrow the weather is likely to change to a cooler, cloudier day with the risk of some drizzle and I’m not sure my mood will allow the happy couple to continue with their carefree declarations.
I will probably feel a little more sluggish and less enthusiastic than I currently do and I could be tempted to take out my frustration through an unexpected argument I would create for the pair. Naturally, they are made for each other and no doubt, by the end of the book, they will be once again swearing undying love to each other under the warming glow of a summer sun, but the sudden change in my weather forecast will mean that the characters are also likely to suffer from a stormy interlude.

Of course, the British weather does not guide my whole writing process, or there would be lots of arguments and difficulties - possibly even murders - resulting from our damp climate. I always have a beginning, middle and end plotted out, but sometimes the characters surprise me through their actions and conversations and don’t always take the most obvious route to the finish line. I can only presume that these deviations occur according to my changing mood, which is heavily influenced by the weather. It can be a little unsettling, but it strengthens the excitement of writing when I’m never really certain what my characters will get up to that day.
Luckily, I have many photographs of beautiful, sunny locations which I have collected over several years of travelling, so I never struggle to brighten up with a stunning view when a particularly joyful scene is required in the middle of a dark and dreary December day.

Hopefully, the part of my personality which responds to our ever-changing weather is being used productively to reflect the diverse scenarios my characters experience, livening up the story and creating some mystery as to how things will develop.
If that is the case, I will be happy to delay my long-awaited dream of living in a tropical location and continue to use these weather-based mood-swings as a source of inspiration!

So, whether the weather is fair or foul, I will wish myself some happy writing, just as I wish you some happy reading x
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Published on March 17, 2016 11:02