Monday 10 January 2011


Yes, the Crabbit Old Bat is two years old today, or at least her blogging incarnation is. I suppose this means I'm entitled to some toddler tantrums. Actually, I do fancy going into a shoe-shop and lying on the floor, screaming and waving my arms and legs in the air.

A year ago today, I wrote a post which attracted 194 comments. (Do go read, as I would change nothing I said there.) We had a blog party, which enabled you all to plug your own blogs. We will do that again but I'd like to add something a little different. Also, this evening I'm doing a talk to the Edinburgh Writers' Club, which consists of aspiring and published writers. So, how about we combine the two?

So, in the comments section, I invite you to do two things:
  1. Plug your blog or website or book in NO MORE THAN TWENTY WORDS. If you use more than that you will go to the Crabbit Old Bat's doghouse. Your URL counts as one word.
  2. Give ONE favourite piece of writing advice. It can be your own advice or it can be something you've heard someone else say. It can even, if you really want to butter me up, be something you've heard me say. It can be aimed at anyone from the beginner to the multi-published.
I'll start you off with my piece of advice, which is my own:

If you’re not good enough, work hard; if you’re good enough, work harder. By which I mean: we're never as good as we could be; writing is not supposed to be easy; and if you really want to succeed you must learn how much has to be done and want to do it better and better and better. And the more you learn, the more you realise that this writing thing is worth doing as well as possible.

And a <20 word plug for my blog? If you don't want the truth about writing and publishing, the Crabbit Old Bat says bugger off.

Happy birthday, blog, and happy reading to all of you!


Talli Roland said...

Happy second blog birthday! Thank you for all the wonderful advice you've given me and many others -- it's been invaluable.

Most valuable piece of writing advice (I heard you say!): Persistence is not always enough. You need to learn and study the craft, too. This was really helpful for me as I pretty much kept making the same mistakes over and over until I started reading books and blogs on writing.

My blog plug: I drink coffee. I write. Then I have wine.

Thank you again!

Jane Smith said...

Blimey. This means I've been putting up with you for two whole years now.

It's been a joy.

The most valuable bit of writing advice I've seen? There are loads. But perhaps the most important is to get those words down. No matter how good you are, you'll not get published unless you actually write and finish something.

Happy birthday, Crabbit one.

Unknown said...

Happy Birthday Crabbit Old Bat. Writing advice from Bruce Coville: Garbage in, garbage out, so fill your brain with good stuff. A wanderer's journey from occasional scribbler to driven children's writer. Detours include photos, book reviews and recipes.

Phoenix Sullivan said...

Happy Blogiversary and congrats for making it two years, Nicola! Cheers!

Advice: Don't just listen to criticism; learn how to filter it.

Plug: Ready to throw your query under the knife? I do in-depth query and synopsis crits. In public. For free!

Unknown said...

Happy Blog Birthday! Is there a MVP award going, if so you should win it.

I blog about books, writing, family and whatever else takes my humph.

Best advice comes courtesy of Stephen King - read a lot, write a lot.

Cheers! You can find me at

Miriam Drori said...

Happy birthday - 2 today! I have 2 say that your advice has been most helpful, and full of humour, 2. It's a pleasure 2 read.

I'm sure I heard this first from you: You have to write the right book. That's the most important thing - before the cover letter, synopsis and everything else.

One day, everyone will know and understand about social anxiety. And you'll have read about it first on:

Rebecca Brown said...

Happy blog birthday! Do you want birthday cake & balloons or champagne & caviar? :)

My best writing advice (for what it's worth): nothing's ever wasted! Every experience, emotion and argument can be used somewhere. Oh, and never cross a Crabbit.

My blog plug - writing about my life, the universe and everything at

Nicolette said...

Writer of horror

Fave piece of advice?

"Apply bum to chair and write. Write, write and write some more."

Unknown said...

Happy Birthday, oh Crabbit One - and here's to many more!

Advice: Love what you do, write because you can’t do otherwise. Focus, persevere, believe in yourself. And keep submitting!

Plugging the Crabbit One: Insightful, knowledgeable and tough as old boots – the Crabbit One knows that of which she speaks. Pay attention!

Absolute Vanilla - creative witterings and warblings about writing, books, authors, life, the universe and everything – you may, occasionally, laugh.

catdownunder said...

Happy Birthday blog and many happy returns. I have grown very fond of the COB.

Most valuable piece of writing advice: Read widely and well. (Judith Wright - Australian poet and conservationist.)

Blog: A careful arrangement of many coloured cat hairs with a twist to the tale.

Leela Soma said...

Happy 2nd blog birthday. Is it going to be the terrible two's Nicola? I've taken your writing tips seriously, laughed at your Crabbit jokes and had fun these two years.Thanks.

My writing advice 'Read, Write, Edit' and socialise/ network. Great fun when you meet writerly people.

My blog: Very eclectic

Enjoy the day!

Quinny said...

Happy 2nd Birthday! I'm really more of a quiet reader and eat up your advice with every post but keep myself to the background a bit when it comes to commenting!

Writing advice: Catch them with the first word and then the sentence, keep them tumbling from word to word, on and on until The End.

I'm Quinny, you can find me at An Englishwoman living in Ireland. Fun and hijinks follow!

Catherine Hughes said...

My blog?

What I read, what I write, what I learn along the way. It's not all about writing, though!

Best piece of advice? Well, it's probably the piece of advice that got me writing novels in the first place and it came from my seventeen year old daughter (who was much younger at the time). She bullied me into doing NaNoWriMo for the first time by saying (amongst other things like 'and what else have you got to do?' - I was recuperating from major surgery at the time) that I couldn't know what I was capable of until I actually tried.

So I say this: never assume that you can't. Always assume that you can, and then decide that you will.

Thank you Nicola for all the invaluable advice you've offered here and for your friendship and support otherwise. It is more appreciated than you know!

Cat x

Dan Holloway said...

Happy blogday! I wish I'd been following you for all of ose 24 months, but the fact I haven't means I get to roam through your back catalogue at leisure and always have something new and interesting to read.

Writing advice:
"Maybe there is no way to leave the world a better place, and all we can do is tell the truth" (Cody James). The very best fiction starts and ends with the whole truth in all its complexity and awkwardness.

If you like no holds barred poetry please come and hear me read some time I'll buy you coffee

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday Crabbit. May you have many more.

My favourite quote is:

I was working on the proof of one of my poems all the morning and took out a comma. In the afternoon, I put it back in.' Oscar Wilde.

I have days like this all the time!

My blog plug: My mind is blank. I blog. I write.

Unknown said...

Two years old? You don't look a day over one. Happy birthday, Nicola's blog!

My advice to writers is simply: finish what you start. You can learn an amazing amount just by pushing through to the end.

I talk about all kinds of writing topics over at my blog Not Enough Words (

Rhiannon Lassiter said...

Happy bloggiversary!

1. plug yourself in 20 words
Rhiannon Lassiter was established in 1977 and has been making things up ever since. She was born on a Wednesday.

2. Writing advice
Think about what you're writing and the shape of the evolving narrative. What is the text doing here? Is it a beginning bit, an action bit, a descriptive bit? Encourage your to narrative to flow from scene to scene. It should read as perfectly natural and easy, even if it was arduous to write.

Cat Clarke said...

Happy birthday! Look forward to seeing what the Terrible Twos have in store for the COB.

Best piece of writing advice? Don't wait for inspiration to strike before you sit down at your computer. If you want to be a writer, you're going to have to write when you have less than zero inspiration and you can't think of anything you'd rather do less. Get used to it!

Plug: My book ENTANGLED has much teen angst and includes the word 'malarkey'.

Mary Hoffman said...

2 years? My word, they've gone fast for me as a consumer of your always perceptive blogly advice.

I blog too at
about books (mainly YA), writing and the UK publishing industry. I also rant about libraries etc.

My advice for fiction writers can be summed up in one word: consequences.

Janet O'Kane said...

Happy blog birthday, Nicola! Your advice has been invaluable in the year or so since I discovered you. I shall, though, quote an established crime writer I met recently. She counselled me that ‘in order to write interesting books one needs to live an interesting life’. This excellent advice is especially useful when telling my husband about my latest idea or escapade.

I read and write crime fiction, but my blog is often hijacked by unruly chickens and other joys of Scottish rural life.

Juliette said...

Happy second blog birthday! I only discovered this blog recently and am looking forward to many more years of advice and inspiration!

Writing advice: I'm only just starting writing, but my all-time favourite writing advice is from CS Lewis - write what you want to read.

Blog plug: Reviews of Greek and Roman (and Egyptian and Mesopotamian) stuff in popular culture, often irreverent, frequently quite random:

Lorna F said...

Happy blog birthday, Nicola! I love the way that you, Jane Smith and Sally Zigmond tell it like it is.

One of my favourite writing quotes is 'I have to start to write to have ideas' (Francoise Sagan) - so many would-be writers sit around waiting for the muse to descend. Long wait. Get writing - in the process, inspiration and new notions come along.

My blog: the business of books and the writing life, plus support for writers.

Delia Lloyd said...

Happy Birthday, Nicola! So glad you have reached toddlerhood!

My writing advice: Read it out loud before you publish.

My website explores what it means to "find yourself" in adulthood.

Delia Lloyd

Old Kitty said...


Take care

Nick Cross said...

Many happy returns!

The Plug: is a place where I write stuff. About writing. Sometimes funny, always worth reading.

The advice (courtesy of E. L. Doctorow):
Writing is like driving a car at night. You never see further than your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.


Jim Murdoch said...

The Truth About Lies: Book reviews and literary articles in a Scottish accent – sometimes.

Writing advice: Say what you have to say and get off the page.

Happy birthday.

Theresa Milstein said...

Happy 2nd blog birthday! Last year's blog birthday made me so many blog friends, and that's when my blog took off. Thank you.

My writing advice:
Writing “The End” isn’t the end. You must keep editing. Know your grammar. Find critique buddies. Don’t submit until you have a polished piece. And if that manuscript doesn't sell, write another one.

My blog plug:
I write about the saga of substitute teaching and the woes/wonders of writing. And life.

Sally Zigmond said...

Is it really two years? Happy Blog-Birthday, Nicola, Thank you for your advice, your friendship and your all-round crabbitness.

My plug. I blog at I write short stories and r my first novel HOPE AGAINST HOPE was published in 2010.

My writing advice? Listen and learn and strive to write better. But there's so much conflicting advice out there so only listen to those who know what they're talking about; published writers and industry professionals with a track-record. And if you only listen to one person, make that person Nicola Morgan.

Catherine Hughes said...

Um, I don't think my link is working. I'm here: Ooops!

Ali said...

Happy 2nd Blog Birthday. My writing is academic- for journals, writing up research and I'm about to start a PhD.

The best advice I have been given is from a PhD supervisor- don't wait for inspiration to come to you; you have to write until you feel inspired. I find my blog invaluable for that- it helps me work out ideas, and if my academic writing really isn't coming, writing my blog can give it a nudge. on reading children's fantasy fiction.

Thank you!

sheilamcperry said...

Happy 2nd birthday to your blog - a great source of wisdom and fun.
I have a piece of homespun writing advice which is that when you think you've finished editing, there is still room for more editing to remove some of the 'probablies'.
Or maybe that's just me!

I have 3 blogs but this is my favourite because I can act a part in it:

Whirlochre said...

Congratulations on becoming a bona fide blog toddler.

Off the rusks and into the ball pool.

My blog can be found here, and at time of commenting my latest post concerns the irritating nature of plot giraffes.

Writing advice?
When you're setting out on a new project, accept all offers. To each idea or phrase say, "yes, and..." The noes will come later when they can work their own particular magic.

Here's to another year of crabbitude.

Steve said...

Birfday bestest to the (slightly older) bat.

Advice: If you don't try you'll never know.

Plug: A picture's worth a thousand words (supposedly)

Anne Whitaker said...

“I’ve never known any piece of writing to get anything other than better by the removal of 25 per cent of its wording...." said to me by a crabbit old newspaper editor as he handed back my Spring Brides feature article "How I was left on the shelf and found true happiness" for revision....

My blog is coming up for its third birthday! "Writing from the Twelfth House" it's called - celebrating reading, writing, mystery, meaning, pattern, purpose. Sense of humour test on Home Page....

Happy 2nd Birthday!

Colette Martin said...

Happy Birthday Nicola! Oh definitley go buy some shoes!

Plug: At I share allergen-free food solutions, advice, news, and recipes for busy families with multiple food allergies.

My advice: Don't be afraid to finish.

IanBontems said...

Happy Birthday Crabbit Blog!

In reverse order:

Advice - Just sIt down, and write. Social networking doesn't count as writing and will not finish your book for you (even if it IS interesting). Oh, how I wish I followed my own advice.

Blog - Visit here: to read my scattershot witterings on various writing topics.

Nik Perring said...

No plugging really - just wanted to wish the blog a happy birthday - and many happy returns of it, and to say thanks for doing it.

Nik x

David John Griffin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
David John Griffin said...

Happy blogday birthday! You've helped focus my mind on so many aspects of writing over the last couple of years Nicola, a huge thank you.

Writing advice: when writing the first draft, never look back! Plough on till the end. Only then edit/add/delete/amend/correct for your subsequent drafts.

My blog is

I tend to write about myself lately, (but I'm not egocentric, honest!) Please drop by.


JO said...

Happy birthday - I only found this a couple of months ago, but am hooked. And I don't feel qualified to offer writing advice - I need all the help I can get.

my blog - - about my wanderings around the world, which isn't about writing but I did an OU writing course before i went to make sure it was as literate as possible! So I hope it's reasonable travel writing.

Here's to the next 2 years!

K M Kelly said...

Happy Birthday from a long time follower!

The best bit of writing advice which I think I either read here or on Jane's blog:

While your novel is out on submission get on with writing a better one.

Me? The Scribbling SeaSerpent Newly agented children's writer just setting out on the adventure.

Nicola Slade said...

Happy Birthday, Crabbit One.

Advice: aim to write 50 words a day. Yes, that's right, 50. Some days it will only just be possible, others you'll fly and do 5,000, but you won't have that sinking feeling of failure that you get if you aim (and miss) at a higher number.

My new book plug: 'Murder Fortissimo' awash with blackmail, blood and brass instruments, and possibly some alcohol. See

Juliet Boyd said...

Happy Blog Birthday!

My advice: If you never send anything out, you won't get published.

My plug: My Doctor Who short story is out in May!

Gary Ludlam said...

Happy Birthday from a relatively new reader.

Advice: The best advice I have read, and I have seen it from many sources, is "Don't write because you want to get published or you want to get rich. Write because you can't not write."

My blog: thoughts on Catholic family life from a father, writer, engineer, former scientist, and aspiring mystic.

Melinda Szymanik said...

Happy second birthday and here's to many happy returns!!! :)

Advice? I'll cheat and give you two - The first is 'Trust your instincts' and the second is 'If in doubt, take it out.' Both have led to many improvements in my writing.

The Plug? Follow me ( as I try figuring out how this writing business works and how I managed to get published.

Kath McGurl said...

Happy Birthday, dear Crabby Blog!

Best piece of writing advice: There's a word for a writer who never gives up - Published.

My blog is and focuses on writing for women's magazines. All welcome!

Liz A. said...

Happy Blog Birthday. Woo-hoo!

The best writing advice I ever got was (I'm paraphrasing): write a page of something every day.

My blog is mostly about the things that happen to me at my day job (substitute teaching):

Suzie F. said...

Happy Birthday to You, Ms. C. Bat!
Thank you for your sharing your wisdom, experience, and exquisite taste in boots.

My Blog Recipe:
Writing, add a healthy amount of real life, a dash of humor and a pinch of nostalgia.

Writing Advice:
Read in your genre and don't compare your writing journey with everyone else's.

Shauna said...

Happy blogday from the land of the long white cloud (New Zealand). I've been a longtime lurker, love the humour and great advice.

Writing advice I keep mumbling to myself. Real writers finish things.

My blog on writing and things I've learned since having my first novel published last year is

Anonymous said...

Happy Blog Birthday! Your insight and advice have been extremely valuable. I'm looking forward to many more years of crabbit old bat wisdom.

1. I blog about the Edinburgh Literary scene, authors, writing, books and tea. Author interviews a speciality.

2. The only way to get it done is to do it.

JaneF said...

Happy Blog Birthday!

Re writing advice - I think it's all here in your blog. But if I had to pick one thing, it would be to always try to put yourself in the reader's shoes. (As long as they're wearing nice ones of course!)

I can't tell you how much your blog has helped me improve my writing - thank you!

Tamlyn said...

Happy 2nd Blogday ^^

I don't blog, I just lurk at other people's blogs - silently, usually. But I wanted to pop out and say hello. (Hello!)

Writing advice? Don't throw anything out/delete it. You might come back and realise it's a better segment than you realised.

(I hope using smilies isn't a hangable offense on a writing/publishing blog)

Marion Gropen said...

Happy Birthday!

My blog: Listen in as I give (small and self-) publishers financial and management advice.

Writing advice:
Every book has competition. Know your book's and why readers like the successful books better than the "wannabe"s. Your last draft should not only be the best writing you can manage, but also deliver more of what your readers want.

Krista D. Ball said...

Best writing advice: Finish something.

I see lots of folks posting about their 5000 words daily writing, yet never finish anything. FINISH!

My blog is I talk about writing, life, and zombies. This year, I'm putting my history degree to work and sharing information about daily life in different periods and places.

SF said...

Happy blog birthday, Nicola. I've been following for nearly all of it, and still reckon this is one of the most useful blogs around on writing better and getting published better!

Fav writing advice, from Kingsley Amis: 'The art of writing is the art of applying the seat of one's trousers to the seat of one's chair.'

Advice I'll be trying to follow this year, writing at least 100 words a day.

adele said...

Very happy birthday, Crabbit Old Bat. The blog goes from strength to strength. I don't have a blog but I like all this advice I've been reading.
My advice is I think from Chekhov. "Write without hope and without despair."
I'm also fond of Beckett's 'Fail again. Fail better.'

But the Doctorow is brilliant and particularly applicable to me at the moment!

Tara Maya said...

1. Start writing.
2. Keep writing day after day, word after word.
3. Finish what you write.

Tara Maya
500 Words - Come post an excerpt of your book

Carolb said...

Happy 2nd blog Birthday Nicola.

Advice: You won't get your work published unless you send it out, so send it.

Plug: the blog on my writing, inspirations and literature related news combined with photos and fun.

Stroppy Author said...

Happy Birthday, crabbit one! I missed last year's birthday party as it was only day 2 of heartbreak hell, so have some extra birthday wishes to make up for that.

My blog tells you all the shit no-one else tells you:

My tip: read your words aloud. You might sound like a twat, but that's better than looking like a twat when you send it in without spotting all the mistakes.

Anonymous said...

On my first visit here I am so glad to have arrived on your blog-birthday!

Best bits of advice: "Write! Just do it! Don't give up." ~Donna Fox

"Read a lot and write a lot!" ~Stephen King

Most Inspiring Advice:

Follow me as I learn and practice my craft by writing about what I know! All constructive critism welcome!

Thank you and congratulations on the birthday!!!

Ev said...

Happy Blog Birthday, long may you rabbit on.

Most valuable writing advice: - Read, read more. Write. Read again and again. Write. Read outside your comfort zone. Write , rewrite, rewrite. Enjoy.


You might enjoy it!


K Rutherford said...

Happy Birthday, Crabby Old Bat!

My blog is only 2 weeks old. Check out my amateur reviews of things I've been reading/doing.

Advice: No one is perfect, be open to advice. Then share it with others.

E.Maree said...

Happy blogging birthday!

My advice: Support writers around you. There's a lot of competitiveness in this industry, but we're all in the same boat and we need to support one another.

I wrote and published a book aged 13. Now older and wiser, I’m trying it all again.

Deniz Bevan said...

Happy second blog birthday!
My blog explores my historical romance writing adventures and love of reading:
My favourite advice comes from Diana Gabaldon: Read. Write. Don't Stop.

Anonymous said...

Advice? I'm not handing out any advice!

And my blog is the best (sorry Crabbit), so the rest of you can just forget about blogging.

Helen V. said...

Happy blog birthday. I only discovered your blog recently and I'm so glad I did.

My most useful writing advice - old but so true for me - write and keep writing. You'll never improve unless you do.

I'm Helen Venn. My blog, Imagine Me At Clarion South, on life, writing and whatever interests me, is at

Helen V. said...

Love your blog.

Writing advice from us: listen to your critiquers. If one person comments unfavourably there may be something wrong but listen to your own intuition as to whether to keep it. If two don't like it look at it very carefully before deciding to keep it. If three or more don't get it you probably need a rewrite.

Our blog plug: Egoboo WA - five writers from Perth, Western Australia, who blog on all things writerly at Come and meet us.

Anonymous said...

Happy 2nd blogiversary!

Plug: Join the evolution —

Advice: "Says Who?"

Sam Pennington said...

Nothing like stumbling across a party once all the champagne's been drunk and everyone else is on their way home!

Happy blog-birthday, Crabbit Old Bat!

My best writing advice is 'get on with it!' And the blog is self-explanatory, a mash of fiction and fact known as


Harry Nicholson said...

Just found you - but happy birthday, anyway.

Advice: Read the great poets. Go deep, and deeper still. Be awake to the voice within.


A place for images in words and glass.

Harry Nicholson

Editor Cassandra said...

Happy second blog birthday Nicola! <3, where tea, writing, reading, freelance editing, and lit agent interning are nothing compared to my love for my dog. (20 exactly)

My best advice? Read more books. And take dogs for walks.

Martha said...

Happy blog birthday!

Advice: If it's worth doing, it's worth doing badly. You can get better later, but not if you won't start.

Perfume and semi-personal ramblings. Or click to My Other Blog for fiction, gardening and chicken.

jonathan pinnock said...

Just seen this (been away this week), so belated happy blog birthday from a regular reader! Loads of great advice here - keep up the good work!

I blog here. It's mainly about me and my writing. I've got a book coming out in September, you know.

Chemist Ken said...

Great blog!

My advice: Once you start writing, do not stop to fix little problems you might notice along the way. It will kill your momentum. You can always come back and fix those problems later.

My blog is My Hogwarts Sabbatical and it chronicles a chemist's journey into fiction writing.