Blog Tour: Guest post by Helen Phifer, author of The Girls in the Woods


As many of you will know, from a previous blog post, I’m starting university this month (yesterday in fact!) so while I was very keen to read this book I knew I would be too busy to fit it in.  However, I am able to bring you a guest post from Helen about how she started writing.  I love the sound of this book and am definitely adding it to my tbr pile and I hope you will feel the same once you’ve read this post.

Guest post: So You Want to Write a Book

Since I’ve been writing I’ve had a few people ask me how to write a book and I wish I could give them the magic answer, but it’s not that easy.

Writers often say to write what you know which is good advice. I wanted to write a story for me and I didn’t particularly know much about ghosts or serial killers. I love a good spooky story, but I couldn’t find the type of novel that I was looking for, despite spending hours browsing through the books in Waterstones and WH Smith. Which were the two biggest book shops where I live, this was in the days before Amazon. So I decided that I was going to write one for myself. I knew exactly what I loved reading and once I’d started to write it I realised that there must be plenty of other people who would also enjoy reading this kind of story.

If you have an idea for a story like I did with my debut novel The Ghost House then write down your ideas, everything about it that makes you think I have to tell this story. I’ve always written bits and pieces over the years, but I had no idea where to start writing a full length novel. I think that you have to be in love with reading in order to write a book. I know that if I hadn’t been such a voracious reader, I wouldn’t have had the slightest clue where to start with chapters and plotting. It helped me enormously when it actually came down to writing my story.

I sat down with a notepad and wrote out a list of my main characters, who was the story about, what was going to happen, why was it going to happen, who was my leading character or protagonist, who was my baddie, my killer, my antagonist and why was he my killer, what had happened to him to make him want to murder girls in such a horrific way? I ended up with quite a few sheets of A4 paper.

Then I began writing out a rough outline/plot of what I wanted it to be, it wasn’t very detailed because I didn’t know exactly what was going to happen, but it had the basics on it. Some people can just sit down and write a novel without a single page of plotting and that’s brilliant, in fact I tried this myself for my next book The Good Sisters which is due out in October.

However I prefer to plot, I love post it notes and have them colour co-ordinated stuck on the wall above my desk with a couple of sentences for each chapter. It keeps me going when I get to the middle and things start to get a bit tough, some days the words flow without having to even think about them and some days they don’t. Make the most of the days that they do, write down as much as you can. I find if I’m stuck the best thing to do is to sit and think about what I have so far and what needs to happen next. Sometimes it can take a couple of days for me to come up with what I need, so don’t put pressure on yourself and don’t stress about it. I’ve been stuck and woke up in the middle of the night with the perfect ending and had to get up and write it all down before I forgot on a couple of occasions.

The Ghost House took me eight years to write, edit and feel confident enough to send off to agents and publishers. I did however have five young children, so writing for me was something that I had to squeeze in whenever I had a spare moment and this wasn’t very often. At the time I was writing it I never felt rushed or stressed out about it because this was my story that I was writing for my only reader which was me.

So get the first draft of your story written, it doesn’t matter how long it takes you. The main thing is to never give up on it, keep plodding away and before you know it you’ll reach twenty, thirty, fifty, eighty thousand words. The main thing is to get it all down and don’t worry about spelling or punctuation. You can go back and fix that on your second draft. You might be desperate to be published, but unless you have actually written your novel it’s not going to happen.

Good luck and trust me if I can write then so can you, I’d love to hear about your experiences or if you have any questions you can find me on.



Or over at my website

Helen x



Blurb: Don’t go into the woods. Because you’re in for a big surprise…

In an old album there is a beautiful Victorian photo that captures three young sisters, staring silently at one another. Only the trained eye can see the truth hiding in plain view. One of the sisters is already dead.

Annie Ashworth is currently off duty. With her baby bump growing fast, she is under strict instructions to stay away from police work and look after herself, especially as she has a history of leading danger right to her door. So when her police officer husband, Will, is called to the discovery of a skeleton buried out in the local woods, Annie tries to keep out of the investigation. But as another body is discovered and her own niece suddenly goes missing, staying away just isn’t an option.

As Annie is soon to discover, a picture really does tell a thousand stories. But which one leads to a killer?

The gripping new detective thriller that will haunt you



Amazon UK:



About the author:

Helen lives in a small town called Barrow-in-Furness with her husband and five children and has done since she was born. It gets some bad press, but really is a lovely place to live. Surrounded by coastline and not far from the beautiful Lake District. She has always loved writing and reading, she loves reading books which make the hair on the back of her neck stand on end. Unable to find enough scary stories to read she decided to write her own.

Her debut novel ‘The Ghost House’ was published by Carina UK in October 2013 and went on to become a best seller along with the rest of the Annie Graham series. The Secrets of the Shadows, The Forgotten Cottage, The Lake House and The Girls in the Woods. Her next book The Good Sisters which is a stand alone, ghost story is released on the 13th October 2016.

Author links:




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