Guest Post: Rebecca Howie on Overcoming Writer’s Block

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Today, I have the pleasure of welcoming the author of The Game Begins, Rebecca Howie, to Writerly Bookish Stuff.  Rebecca is here to talk about the dreaded writer’s block and how to overcome it.

Over to you, Rebecca…


Overcoming Writer’s Block

Let’s be honest: being a writer isn’t easy. From bad reviews, nit-picking beta readers who make you feel like a wanna-be sham, and spending hours formatting your shiny new novel for Createspace only to have it rejected because of the margin sizes, it’s easy to see why some people decide to pack it up and keep on at their day job.

But before you reach the final stage, before you hit PUBLISH and send your book baby out into the world to fend for itself, you’ve got to write that first draft. And while you’re at it, you’re probably going to come across writer’s block.

I was lucky enough when writing my first novel to avoid it, but that was only because I didn’t actually know I was writing a novel until I was halfway through and thought ‘Screw it, I’m going to publish it’. But on my second visit into Sam’s world, it hit me, and for almost half a year, I couldn’t get anything written.

I knew I wanted to write a second book; I knew I wanted it to be a sequel to The Game Begins. And I knew that I wanted it to touch on the previous book’s events instead of pretending like nothing bad had happened. But could I write it?

(That answer is obvious if you make a visit to my blog and see my lack of writing updates, and that up until October, had the release date for my second book as ‘Coming Soon’.)

So, how do you overcome writer’s block? What possible solution can there be when you haven’t written a single word in almost a year?

Here are some of the things I try, and sometimes find helpful.

Take a Break

Accepting that you’re stuck isn’t actually the be-all and end-all of your WIP. Taking a break, even for just a few hours, might be all you need to get focussed on your story and the scene that’s trying to derail you.

Consult Your Notes

Keeping a note of the ideas that come to you at three in the morning is a great idea for finding inspiration, and if you already have a few notebooks filled with your sleep-deprived ramblings, now might be a good time to take a look.

Who knows? Maybe the next NYT bestseller is in there somewhere.

Read/ Watch TV

This might be the only time procrastinating isn’t a bad idea, but reading someone else’s book is a great way of getting your creative juices flowing. It can help you with pacing your novel, character development, and even when to end a chapter (which I struggled with a bit at the start of this new book).

Watching TV, on the other hand, is another great way to get ideas for your story. And when I was writing a particularly tricky scene in A Woman Scorned, I turned to ABC’s Castle for help with portraying the symptoms of PTSD, because I knew that one of its characters had gone through something similar to my own.

Rewrite

I know the last thing you want to hear is ‘rewrite’, but taking a second run at the WIP that’s trying to psyche you out might just be the thing you need to work out the plot hole that’s been bugging you, or changing the tone or pace or point-of-view to turn the story into the one you’ve actually been wanting to write from the beginning.

Stop

If all else fails, stop. Don’t justify forcing yourself to write, or making yourself sick with the stress of it. I lost count of how many false starts I made while trying to write AWS, and although I have a folder filled with character notes and defunct plot points, I’m happier with the characters now than I was when I started all those earlier attempts, so moving on to a different plot or story might just be the thing which gets you back on track.


Rebecca Howie is a procrastinating writer from Scotland, who prefers spending her time in fictional worlds rather than the real one.

She self-published her first novel, The Game Begins, at 18, and it reached 2nd in the Teen and Young Adult Detective category on Amazon after its release in February 2016.

Where to find Rebecca Howie and her book:

Amazon

Twitter

Instagram

Goodreads


For use of the content in this post, permission must be sought from the author, Rebecca Howie.

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ARC Review: Heralding by Faith Rivens

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Heralding by Faith Rivens 5/5.

6tag_201117-052007Life was simple for Eléonore when her biggest concerns were hunting demons, stacking shelves, and pulling off the single mother gig.

But that was before the night at the Citadelle two months ago. The night when she killed an Elder sorcerer. The night she discovered her own destructive powers.

Now Eléonore’s life is defined by questions of will…

Will her dangerous powers and Iníonaofa heritage ever be explained to her?
Will her son’s father make a reappearance in her life?
Will her son discover the terrible truth of her nighttime hunts?
Will the demon who offered her protection come for her due?

With chaos brewing in Daemoniar—the demon realm—and a tyrannical group on the rise, one thing is for certain…

Eléonore’s about to stumble into a whole new hellhole of trouble.

My thanks goes to the author for sending me a free ARC copy of this book.

Review:

I always worry that I’ll be disappointed when I read the sequel to a book I really enjoyed, but those worries were unfounded in regards to Heralding. Eleonore is back with just as much sass, demon ass-kicking skills, and mothering as in book one. The story progressed beautifully from the end of book one, and yet again, Rivens’ writing is brilliant.

I found the growth of Etienne was mastered effortlessly. He is witty, humourous, and mature, but still holds that innocent, naive heart of a child. That is all thanks to Eleonore’s protection of him. As I said in my review of book one, Eleonore really speaks to me as a mother, and I found myself anxiously sitting on the edge of my seat and getting appropriately angry when anything or anyone so much as spoke of Etienne in a way I didn’t like. It is rare to find a book with a demon hunting protag who is also a fully involved parent.

The cast of sub characters are all well rounded with distinctive voices and play vital roles in the progression of the narrative whether big or small. I enjoyed the blurring of the line between good and evil as it allowed for some shock twists and relationship dynamics.

If you haven’t jumped on this series, I recommend you get your hands on book one, Eleonore, and pre-order Heralding right now.


The opinions expressed here are those of K.J.Chapman and no other parties

All books reviewed on this blog have been read by K.J.Chapman

K.J.Chapman has not been paid for this review

 

5 in 1 Review: Christmas Stories

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 A Beginner’s Guide to Christmas by Jennifer Joyce 3/5

21078618A quick, christmassy read with humour and relatable characters. The christmas rules that kept popping up (pretty much after Ruth made mistakes or bad calls) were a hilarious touch. I didn’t understand the purpose of Gideon or why she was dating him, but the other characters made for a dynamic family.

Stories for Christmas by Various Authors 3/5

51WNG1NQZRL._SY346_This book is advertised as a free sampler of Christmas stories, but I was shocked to find them imcomplete. It was just a marketing ploy to get the readers to buy the complete story which felt a little cheap. The stories were well written, but there wasn’t a huge Christmassy vibe about them. I won’t be buying the full stories.

Twelve Days at Bleakly Manor by Michelle Griep 4/5

61l23Qxe-ML._SY346_An intriguing Christmas, romance mystery. The concept is well conceived and written, and you find yourself sucked into the story/era. There is a definite Dickens and Christie vibe to this story.

 

Santa Baby, I Want a Bad Boy for Christmas by Justine Elvira 3/5

51-Xss1A6EL.jpgGunnar’s character stole the show in this book. I would have liked the book to have been from his POV. There are steamy scenes, but as for narrative, I wanted a little more believability. I don’t mind insta-love if done well, but a few nights together, and then declaring feelings felt forced.

A White Hot Christmas by Adrianne James 3/5

5103uATGDmL._SY346_You can’t go wrong with a Christmas read that involves a hunky fire-fighter. This story was a quick, steamy read, but that abrupt ending didn’t offer much in the way of a conclusion. Could have done with being longer.

 


The opinions expressed here are those of K.J.Chapman and no other parties

All books reviewed on this blog have been read by K.J.Chapman

K.J.Chapman has not been paid for this review

Guest Post: Brianna West on The Importance of a Book Cover

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Guess who’s back on Writerly Bookish Stuff? Brianna West. Brianna previously guest posted back in March on Character Development. She is back today to chat about the importance of a book cover.

Over to you, Brianna…


Love at First Cover

Someone once told you not to judge a book by its cover. Then again, someone also told you never to swim forty-five minutes after eating, and we’ve all broken that rule, am I right? Okay, so not the same thing, but my point is this—how much does a cover impact your readership?

Well, that depends. Like us authors who prioritize certain aspects of our writing, our readers also prioritize certain aspects to their reading. And, as much as we might maintain we’re ‘not all about that life’ when it comes to martyring ourselves (and our bank account) in order to appease the masses, in the end, we all want our work to be read.

So, does that start with a good cover? In my opinion, which is always right and never wrong (or so my husband maintains), yes. Especially if you write romance.

So, here’s why:

Like any blind date, you only have so many things to judge whether or not the person—aka, book—you’re about to spend the next few hours with is either going to humor you, bore you, confuse you, or murder you.

And like the judgmental person you are, you’re going to decide whether or not you’re going to bother sitting down (or come out from around the corner you’re hiding) based on what you see first.

  1. The 99c Store Cover—essentially, these covers either have no real intrigue at all or look cheap, cheap, cheap. In any case, these covers look basic, thoughtless, and forgettable. When I see these covers, like the judgmental person I am, I automatically believe that it’ll be poorly written and edited too, despite knowing this more often this is NOT the case.
  2. The Grade-School Art Project Cover—these covers are put together by someone who only just started to use Canva or Photoshop. Essentially, they look handmade. Which, depending on what you’re going for, could be either good or bad. Personally, these covers give me the same reaction as the one above, but not as strongly. I give points for effort because I am a benevolent queen.
  3. The Cliché Cover—these covers are sort of nostalgic for a lot of us romance readers and, even though I’d never admit this out loud, they’re sort of a drug to look at. You guessed it! I’m talking Fabio with his perfectly silky hair a-blowin’ in the wind with the cute, petite, half-fainted woman curled into his arms. These covers, even though totally outdated, still make me want to read. Of course, some readers aren’t so nostalgic and will click their tongues and pass right over them.
  4. The Clone Cover—these are the covers that, especially in the romance genre, are becoming the new Fabio and half-fainting princess. There are abs. There are pecs. There’s water—is it raining or is that just pure, sweet man-sweat? And, of course, everything is just short of being something you can’t put on public shelves. These I have opinions about. While these are the covers that sell and, let’s face it, we likey all that delicious man-meat, they don’t really tell a story. Or THE story. They are purely eye-candy. And sometimes, if an author chooses to show the models face, the reader might not enjoy that sort of aesthetic and pass it over. Plus, with so many covers that look like this, your book will hardly stand out against the masses. So, tread carefully with these covers. As much as they may appeal, they may also NOT appeal.
  5. The Super Symbolic Cover—these covers are the ones that are usually fairly basic in appearance, containing one symbolic element of the story and putting it on the cover. Authors who choose these covers don’t want their readers to have the characters ‘decided’ for them; instead, these covers are offering the reader to truly build their own images. These are popular as well, and I’ve heard it go both ways as to whether or not they are effective covers. Personally, I like me some eye-candy on my cover. It’s what I go after. However, I’ve spoken to readers that don’t like an ‘image’ of the character being put into their head when they see the cover, especially if the image doesn’t match the author’s description. So again, tread carefully with this one.
  6. The Storybook Cover—these covers are the ones that tell a story. Like a painting, they intrigue a reader with images that hint at the contents inside the cover. Personally, these are by far my favorites. I love looking at these covers, because often, it makes me wonder what they have to do with the story that’s been written. And therefore, I think these are very effective for grabbing readers, especially if they are of quality and run seamlessly with their back covers. From everything to font, color scheme, and blending choices, these covers make you stop and look. Which, in my personal opinion, is the entire purpose of a cover.

There are more versions of covers, but I feel like these are the main ones I see, at least in romance. Paired with an incredible blurb and perhaps a few choice teasers, you can ensnare a reader with very little effort. But, like with everything, not every author is made the same. Not every reader is going to weigh heavily on the cover alone. It requires many elements sometimes to intrigue a reader to taking a gander. But it’s my belief that the cover is one of the first impressions you have to ensnare them.


71zctz9teal-_ux250_Brianna West lives in beautiful Northern California with her wonderful husband and four adorable children. She writes funny, real stories that are accompanied by an overabundance of action and supernatural elements. First published in October 2015, Brianna has gone on to add several books to her main series and spin-off series since then.

Her stories feature sassy, strong heroines; hunky, supernatural heroes; a sordid amount of action; enough humor to leave you laughing all the way through; and a world that will fill you with an overwhelming desire to be a part of it.

Find Brianna and her books here:

Facebook

Goodreads

Twitter

Amazon


Permission to use content featured in this post must be sought from Brianna West.

Update 06/11/17

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I’ve had a much more productive month than the last two. Not everything I missed last month got finished this month, but I’m happy with where I am at.

EVO Ghost

I finished what turned out to be a MAMMOTH, structural edit. Wow, that really was one of the hardest edits I’ve ever done. I’m blaming it on Ghost being the third in the trilogy. Everything has to play out, tie up, and have a grand finale feel about it. I put the pressure on myself big style.

I still have pages of notes to implement from the read through of books one and two, and notes I jotted down during the first edit, but I can see light at the end of the tunnel.

Guest Posts

Another two fabulous authors guest posted on Writerly Bookish Stuff this month. Don’t worry if you missed them, here are the links:

Katie Masters: Creating Well Rounded Antagonists.

Sarina Langer: Bullet Journals.

NaNoWriMo

I was adamant that I wasn’t going to participate in NaNo, but I was struck by sudden inspiration and characters who kept pestering me. I told myself that even if I don’t get to 50k words in a month, I will be further than I would have been if I left the story unwritten. I’m trying to hit my daily targets in the mornings, so I’m free to get back to the EVO Ghost edits in the evenings.

What’s Next?

First and foremost, the EVO Ghost edits will continue. I would like to have sent the manuscript to my proofreader by the end of the year. NaNoWriMo has to come second to this, but that doesn’t mean I won’t try my hardest to hit that 50k.

Guest posts

November brings with it another two fabulous authors to Writerly Bookish Stuff:

Nov 10th: Brianna West on The Importance of a Book Cover.

Nov 24th: Rebecca Howie on Overcoming Writer’s Block.

Zombie Playlist Paperback

I’ve swiped all previous goals for the completion of the paperback. It’s almost ready, but if you haven’t realised it yet, I do everything arse about face. It’ll get done… eventually.


Content belongs to K.J. Chapman

Review: Finn by Liz Meldon

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Finn by Liz Meldon 5/5

6tag_031117-053309Skye Summers: Museum Studies grad, yoga enthusiast, sushi fanatic, self-proclaimed cat lady…

Sugar baby hopelessly falling for her sugar daddy.

Unfortunately for Skye, internet security billionaire Cole Daniels, professional workaholic, has always been more like a best friend. When they were paired through an online sugar daddy service in Skye’s most desperate hour, Cole rescued her from financial ruin and a stress-induced breakdown. In return, she has kept the press off his back by posing as his girlfriend for the last four years.

But Skye wants more. Not money or fame, but more of him. Cole: sweet, funny, and ceaselessly charming. At times, even he seems to crave a shift in their relationship to something a little messier—before swiftly pulling right back into the friend zone.

Things take a turn for the scandalous, however, when the latest gift from her sugar daddy arrives: a new dress. He’s taking Skye to a swanky soiree that evening, and the accompanying note has a titillating aside:

PS: Wear something underneath that makes you feel sexy.

Thrilled, Skye obliges with her most daring lingerie. But when Cole’s ulterior motives for the night surface, she’s forced to swallow her disappointment and seek out her own fun—which arrives in the form of the sinfully handsome heir to a chocolate empire, Finn Rai.

Review:

A well written, steamy, erotic romance that can be read in one sitting. If you enjoy an erotic romance with a solid narrative and interesting relationship dynamics, then I highly recommend you read this novella.

This short read was fun and light hearted despite the tangle of relationships between Skye, Finn, and Cole. Skye’s mix of feelings toward her sugar daddy doesn’t stop her having fun with a stranger, but Cole’s mixed messages and stand offish nature makes me keen to read book two in the trilogy, Cole.

Meldon manages to make the reader like all three characters. I’m still not sure who I think would be good for Skye in the long run, if any. I am interested to see where the author takes this narrative for the rest of the series.


The opinions expressed here are those of K.J.Chapman and no other parties

All books reviewed on this blog have been read by K.J.Chapman

K.J.Chapman has not been paid for this review

October Reads Round Up

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Nightmare Waiting & Other Stories by Glenn McGoldrick

34363048Not reviewed on my blog.

I gave this book 2/5. Not my cup of the tea. The stories, although original, lacked conclusion.

After Dark by Mikey Campling

34463271Full Review: After Dark.

I gave this book 3/5. This book had an interesting concept. I enjoyed the various POVs and how they linked up at the end of the narrative. It’s not often that you get the POV of an animal. I can’t say I found the story particularly scary.

Three Men and a Maybe by Katie Lovell

32934016Full Review: Three Men and a Maybe.

I gave this book 4/5. An enjoyable, sweet read. Three proposals, three backstories, and one decision. The narrative had a satisfying, believable ending.

The Apple Orchard by Veronica Henry

34792318Full Review: Apple Orchard.

I gave this book 3.5/5. A bittersweet story that makes you think about the value of life and who is really rich in this world. The ending felt a little abrupt, but the story is thought provoking.

Out of the Shadows by Dana Fraedrich

6tag_011017-072256Full Review: Out of the Shadows.

I gave this book 4.5/5. The worldbuilding in this steampunk dystopia is extensive and thorough. The characters are well developed, and the sub plots run smoothly alongside Lenore’s story. I enjoyed the way the line between right and wrong is blurred in regards to fighting the ‘good fight’. Rook was a favourite of mine.

Wardens of Archos by Sarina Langer

6tag_081017-065905Full Review: Wardens of Archos.

I gave this book 4.5/5. This book carries on effortlessly from book one. The relationship dynamics are fresh and raw, and new characters have me intrigued. That plot twist was a ‘why didn’t I see that coming?’ moment, and has left me desperate for book three.

Hawaiian Heartbreak by Libby Cole

6tag_251017-060703Full Review: Hawaiian Heartbreak.

I gave this book 3.5/5. A blossoming romance, steamy scenes, and relatable characters. The ending was a little abrupt and had no conclusion for my taste. However, I enjoyed this short read, and look forward to reading the rest in the series.

The Manningtree Account by Becky Wright

6tag_291017-044708Full Review: The Manningtree Account.

I gave this book 4.5/5. A well written blend of past and present. The creepy supernatural element of this book draws on the historical facts of the witch burnings. A quick, halloween read that certainly throws a curve ball ending.

Rising by Brian Rella

6tag_301017-055309Full Review: Rising.

I gave this book 3/5. Perfect for Halloween with lots of gore and violence. Some unbelievable character choices, but this may have been to progress the narrative in a short period of time. More explanation and slower pacing would have helped the believability.

 


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Review: Rising by Brian Rella

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Rising (Second Death Novella 0.5) by Brian Rella 3/5.

6tag_301017-055309When fourteen-year-old Jessie steals a book from the eclectic book shop in her sleepy home town of Beauchamp, Louisiana, she unleashes one of the Fallen, Arraziel, and takes revenge on her tormentors.

But Jessie also awakened an ancient evil imprisoned in the Realm of the Second Death. Now a group of supernatural guardians must stop her and the bloodthirsty creature she has awakened before it can return.

Review:

This prequel can be read in one sitting and takes the reader on an intense, supernatural journey via various POVs. The pacing is fast, and where this is important for building suspense, it needed to slow down a little at the end.

I wasn’t so much scared as I was freaked out by the intense level of gore and violence. I liked Jessie’s character to begin with, and her home life made sense with how she was feeling, but the mild tempered, bullied girl has a one hundred and eighty degree personality twist without full explanation. I would have liked the influence over her to be explained a little more to make the narrative a little more believable.

Baring in mind that this is a prequel to a larger series, I am intrigued to see what characters and narrative the author has carried forward, and hopefully garner a little more insight into Arraziel.

A gory, Halloween read that is not for the squeamish.


The opinions expressed here are those of K.J.Chapman and no other parties

All books reviewed on this blog have been read by K.J.Chapman

K.J.Chapman has not been paid for this review

Review: The Manningtree Account by Becky Wright

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The Manningtree Account by Becky Wright 4.5/5.

6tag_291017-0447081646 – A time of English Civil War, when life is cheap, death common and superstition consumes the hearts of God-fearing folk. The life of a healer is precarious, dwelling in the shadows of normal society. Ostracised, their time running out as the self-appointed Witchfinder General scours the countryside for the Devil’s whores…

2016 – One dark night, one sleepy town, one family gripped by terror. The EAPI paranormal team are called to investigate dark poltergeist activity. But, as the eternal night finally loosens its grip, it seems that some evil deeds are never forgotten, reaching out from beyond the grave to exact their revenge…

Review:

I’m glad I picked this novella as my Halloween read. I was equally creeped out and intrigued by this ghost story that draws on the historical facts of the witch burnings. Knowing the truth of Matthew Hopkins – the Witchfinder General –  makes this tale all the more chilling.

The flitting between past and present is well written, and the suspense built in intensity over the course of the novella. That ending was something of a curve ball that had me thinking a little more about the characters, especially the outcome for Alex.

Try this novella if you are after a quick, chilling read that blends historical truths with the supernatural.


The opinions expressed here are those of K.J.Chapman and no other parties

All books reviewed on this blog have been read by K.J.Chapman

K.J.Chapman has not been paid for this review

Review: Hawaiian Heartbreak by Libby Cole

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Hawaiian Heartbreak by Libby Cole 3.5/5

6tag_251017-060703.jpgWhen do you admit a holiday fling is so much more?

Kayla’s always been scared to push her boundaries and take a risk. But it turns out all she needed was a scumbag ex-boyfriend to send her running to Hawaii, hoping to pull the shattered pieces of her heart back together while sunning herself on a white sand beach.

What she hadn’t planned on was falling for someone new. Especially someone tall, tanned, and distractingly sexy. Soon sparks and puns are flying, and Kayla is introduced to a whole new way of appreciating Hawaii’s beautiful scenery. But what starts out as a fun holiday romance turns into a full-blown love affair, with neither wanting to admit the clock is ticking until Kayla has to return home.

Review:

Kayla holidays solo to fulfil her ambition of embracing life after her break up with her long term boyfriend. Little did she know she’d fall into the arms of a handsome tour guide.

This is my type of romance read: blossoming romance, steamy scenes, and characters to root for. Both Kayla and Jay are relatable, and as the fling turns into something more, you can’t shake that pang in your chest for the moment the holiday is over. I was a little apprehensive to reach the conclusion. Will it end when Kayla has to go home?

My only niggle was the abrupt ending and lack of conclusion. I’m all for cliffhangers, but this felt like neither cliffhanger nor a conclusion of some sort. It just left the reader in the middle of an unresolved row. Readers have to read the next in the series to get a conclusion for book one.

If you like swept off your feet, holiday romances, and don’t mind explicit sex scenes, then I highly recommend this novella.


The opinions expressed here are those of K.J.Chapman and no other parties

All books reviewed on this blog have been read by K.J.Chapman

K.J.Chapman has not been paid for this review