Blood, Sweat and Tyres by Ellen Renner

I am delighted to welcome Ellen Renner to my blog today for my stop on the Storm Witch Blog Tour talking about the determination and perseverance it takes to achieve what you want in life…

Ellen Renner
Being a writer is not about having an easy life: let’s just accept that and get it out of the way. We tend to be obsessive perfectionists.

I’ve always been a story-teller: I can’t remember when I didn’t make up stories to amuse myself or others. But a writer is a ‘made’ thing, created from years of hard work with little external validation.

When I’m not writing, I’m often on a motorcycle. And I’ve realised that I ride for all the same reasons that I write: adventure; an element of risk-taking; to constantly test and improve skills. In additon, I’m happy in my own company and, most important of all, I’m stubborn.

Nothing in life has scared me so much as the decision to try to get published – to risk failing at the thing that meant the most to me by beginning to submit my work. I had spent years learning my craft, writing and rewriting. I joined writing groups and learned to learn from criticism. But I still put off submitting to publishers, until I had one of those ‘mirror moments’ where I realised if I didn’t get on with it and risk being told I wasn’t good enough, I would guarantee the worst kind of failure: being too cowardly to try.

Nothing has scared me that much . . . except learning to ride a motorcycle. I have some talent when it comes to writing – a facility with language and the gift of a vivid imagination – but I am not a natural when it comes to motorcycles.

I failed my test three times. And even after I passed, riding on a road without a metal cage around me was terrifying for the first few months. But I loved the act of riding: I was determined to improve. Not become brilliant, mind, but improve.

Writing helped me learn to ride a motorcycle. Both activities require constant improvement of a challenging skill-set; both have an element of risk; both require absolute concentration and a stubborn determination to succeed. And perhaps most important of all: acceptance of failure as part of the process.


I’m now pretty competent on a motorcycle, am a two-time RSoPA Silver pass holder and former CBT instructor. I love track days! I’ll never be the fastest on track, but I’m now technically pretty good and getting faster all the time. What skill I have on a bike is due to sheer determination to improve at something I love, despite not being naturally gifted. It’s all about accepting, even welcoming, your mistakes.

We only learn from trying and failing and then trying again. The message for young people, or for anyone who wants to write (or ride!) and is scared that they won’t be good enough is clear: dare to dream. And then start with the sweat and tears. And never give up.

Thank you so much for taking the time to share your experiences. Daring to dream is definitely scary, but it’s worth all of the sweat and tears when you achieve your dream.

And what a dream Storm Witch is! One of my standout reads of this year, it’s beautifully written, emotionally intelligent and with a powerful, pacey plot, that twists and turns like a tornado, Storm Witch is a spellbinding fantasy that draws you into the world of Yanlin and entwines you with it’s characters.

Look out for my full review on ReadingZone.


Storm Witch by Ellen Renner was published on 6thSeptember by Nosy Crow in paperback priced £6.99. You can read the first chapter over on the Nosy Crow website.

Huge thanks to Nosy Crow and Siân at Ed PR for inviting me to take part in the blog tour. Do make sure you check out all of the other stops.




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