Book Reviews

2 in 1 Book Review

How to Survive a Pandemic by John Hudson 3/5

If you want some straight forward facts about Covid 19 without forced opinions, then try this book. I wouldn’t say that this book had much that wasn’t common knowledge, but maybe it can help you build a little on coping strategies if you are suffering from anxiety due to this pandemic.

Minimalism by Jens Boje 3/5

If you are a total beginner to minimalism, then this book may be helpful to you. I am not new to this concept, so I feel that it didn’t offer much more than I already knew, but it does offer some reasoning in what minimalism means to different people and how it isn’t a one size fits all process.


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.


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Writing Routine (Author Tool Box Blog Hop)

I have decided to write a post on writing routines because I don’t currently have one. Yep, nada. I guess I should have titled this post ‘No Writing Routine’.

I understand the benefits of writing routines and training the brain to know ‘this is writing time’, but sometimes, it’s just not possible. I have 2 children (one is 2), so my main priority is them and writing is something I fit in around them.

It is easy to say, ‘get up a little earlier’ or ‘go bed a little later’. My children have me up at 5.30am, and some nights, I am falling asleep on the sofa after I have put them to bed. Real life and being a mama wins every time because that is how I prioritise.

I used to beat myself up about not having a routine, but now, I realise that writing when I can and as often as I can is enough. As long as words are getting written, I can grab that 30 minutes when the toddler naps, or sit in the garden for 15 minutes when the kids are playing nicely together. I never know when these little pockets of time will arise, but as long as I make the most of them, I won’t have the guilt of not writing.

I guess this post is actually a ‘don’t be hard on yourself and write when you can’ post. You’re doing great whether you have a routine or you don’t.


You can check out the other #authortoolboxbloghop participants and their posts here.



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Book Reviews

2 in 1 Book Review

Allotment Gardening by Jez Abbott 3/5

An easy read with some useful tidbits. I wanted a little more detail on certain areas, but a great book to start with.

The Allotment Book by Andi Clevely 4/5

This book was exactly what I was looking for. A lot more information that is specifically useful for me and my veggie patch. I especially appreciate that this book is a little more detailed and in depth than some others I have purchased.


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.


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Book Reviews

3 in 1 Book Review

Wedding Hells by Jennifer Gilby Roberts 3/5

Always the bridesmaid never the bride. Melanie’s younger sister is getting married before her and the family make sure she knows it. I’m not entirely sure if this is a comedy as I feel awful for Melanie all the way through and the ending isn’t much better. At least there is Will.

Before the Garden on Holly Street by Megan Attley 3/5

An introduction to the series, but no real stories with conclusions. I do want stories (even introductions) to have some kind of narrative and conclusion.

However, Attley offers good insight into the various characters and their lifestyles. The rest of the series promises to be good.

Nikola Tesla by Sean Patrick 2/5

I found this a little like a rambling self help book with some biographical content in regards to Nikola Tesla. The majority of the book is about ‘what it takes to be a genius’ rather than about Nikola Tesla.


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.


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Top Tips for Developing a Title (Author Toolbox Blog Hop

The amount of authors I know that struggle with titling (myself included) is incredible. I believe partly, we put too much pressure on ourselves. We have slogged hours and hours, pouring out our guts into our work and we don’t want to let it down with a crummy title. We want the title to be the cherry on the cake.

Over the years, I have developed some strategies to help me develop a title:

  • Leave the WIP untitled until you have finished writing it. I find most titles pop out when we least expect them. Finishing your work will give you a better understanding of the theme, feel and tone of your book, and that will help decide an appropriate title.
  • Ask your critique partners / beta readers for advice. Throw a few titles at them and ask which ones, if any, they like and believe fit your story.
  • Research titles in your genre. Seriously, genres have titles that work with readers and those that don’t. This also links in with the above point about asking critique partners for advice. Readers know what they expect from a genre, and believe it or not, that includes titles.
  • Of course, there are no right or wrong titles, but there are certainly titles that stand out to us and feel right. Trusting your gut instinct is my last tip. You know your work best. If it feels right, it probably is.

Do you have any processes for titling your work? Do you find it easy or hard to find the perfect title?


You can check out the other #authortoolboxbloghop participants and their posts here.


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Author Toolbox Blog Hop

Making Free Promo Graphics (Author Toolbox Blog Hop)

If you are on the look out for ways to create free promo graphics for your books, then I have a few free sites for you to use for finding templates and free stock images.

Canva

My go to app is Canva. You can use the website on your desktop or download the app on your phone. (I much prefer to use my phone.) There are many free templates and images to use on Canva, and some premium images and templates that you can purchase if you wish.

I use Canva for everything from book covers and social media headings to promo graphics. It really is an easy to use site that you should check out for free.

Here are some graphics I made on Canva:

Note: any promotions featured in these images are now void.

Free Stock Images

As I mentioned, Canva does offer some free stock images, but if you need a larger range of free images that are not copyrighted, head over to Pixabay. Simply enter the image / theme you require and search their thousands of images.

Another site with free stock images is Pexels. WordPress use a lot of Pexels images in their media library. It is worth checking out the free images before opting to buy.

Stock Images (Not Free)

If you are still unable to find the perfect image, there are other stock photo sites to use that have a much wider range of images at a small cost:

Tips to remember when making your own graphics:

  • You mustn’t use copyrighted images without permission.
  • Research other promo graphic ideas in your genre to get a feel for what works.
  • Do not mislead your audience. Trading standards still apply.

You can check out the other #authortoolboxbloghop participants and their posts here.


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A Little Proving Time (Author Toolbox Blog Hop)

You’ve finished that mammoth, first draft, and now what? If you’re anything like me, you’re on a high and want to dive straight in with the edits, however, this may not be the best process for you just as it isn’t for me. I do my best editing when my work has been left for a few weeks. I call this the proving period.

I work best when I can detach from my WIP for a few weeks, but I am not here to tell you what you are doing is right or wrong, just to offer my two pence on what works for me.

Pros of a Proving Period

  • You can come back to your WIP and start editing with an objective set of eyes. It can be easy to skirt over errors when your brain knows what the sentence ‘should’ say.
  • A break will help prevent burn out. We all need a chance to recoup, and writing really can be a draining process.
  • You have the opportunity to focus on something else. This allows those creative juices to keep flowing on another project.

Cons of a Proving Period

  • You may prefer to have your storyline fresh in your mind as you head into the edits.
  • It makes the whole process longer. Writing is not a short process anyway, so a proving period certainly doesn’t help speed up editing.
  • If you are easily distracted, a long proving process could see you heading into other projects and not wanting to return to the dreaded edits.

I definitely benefit from a proving period. I prefer to dip into other projects before I edit my work. The objectivity is also a big plus for me.


Do you leave your WIP to prove before you edit? Do you have any tips and tricks for improving the editing process?


You can check out the other #authortoolboxbloghop participants and their posts here.


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Book Reviews

3 in 1 Book Review

Dare by Lucia Jordan 3/5

An erotic short story that hints at sex clubs, extreme initiations etc. It doesn’t quite get to that point (I guess the next book is for that), but worth a read if you like that kind of thing. I found the protagonists sudden dramatic change in confidence a little jarring, but overall, a quick read that is currently free from Amazon.

I Don’t Have a Bucket List, but My Fuck It List is a Mile Long by Ruby Rey 3/5

As you can tell from the title I have written, this cover is just a clean version of the real title.

It’s a quick, pleasant read. I enjoyed the way the author recounts personal experiences and how they have shaped her, but I wasn’t overly blown away by the humour.

This is labelled a self help book, and I can see how Ruby Rey has improved her own life and way of thinking, but it doesn’t feel so much a self help book as it is an evaluation of the authors life.

The Lamplighter’s Love by Delphine Dryden 4/5

Lamplighter’s are basically human computers in charge of controlling and directing London’s traffic in an intriguing steampunk world.

Nicholas is portrayed as an old soul despite his young age of twenty nine due to the toll the job takes on the person. Mary is naive and works as Nicholas’ apprentice. This is the perfect set up for a sexy, steampunk romance.

This book is free from Amazon at the time of this review, and if you are a steampunk lover, then definitely give this a go.


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.


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Using Music to Help Set Tone (Author Toolbox Blog Hop)

Are you someone who needs silence to write, or are you like me and need a little ambience to break up the quiet? I firmly believe that listening to different styles of music helps me set the tone of a chapter, sometimes, the whole story.

There is a chapter in the third Book of my EVO Nation trilogy, EVO Ghost, that reiterates this for me. I listened to one song on repeat whilst I wrote the entire chapter. I think I drove my husband crazy, but the music stirred a tone/feeling in me that I wanted to capture in the chapter, and I am proud to say I think I accomplished it.

Certain scientific research shows that music is rooted more deeply in our primitive brain in regards to emotions etc than language. So, when I say music creates a feeling, that feeling runs deeper than the words to describe it. The fun part is translating that tone/ feeling into your work.

You can find more on how music affects the brain in this article on psychcentral.com: Music and How It Impacts the Brain

Why not create a playlist for when you are writing? You can listen to it before or during your writing process and see how it affects your tone and style.


You can check out the other #authortoolboxbloghop participants and their posts here.


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Book Reviews

Book Review: The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black

The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black 3/5

Faeries. Knights. Princes. True love. Think you know how the story goes? Think again…

Near the little town of Fairfold, in the darkest part of the forest, lies a glass casket. Inside the casket lies a sleeping faerie prince that none can rouse. He’s the most fascinating thing Hazel and her brother Ben have ever seen. They dream of waking him – but what happens when dreams come true? In the darkest part of the forest, you must be careful what you wish for…

Review:

A creepy fairytale vibe that I enjoyed, but was not love-struck with.

I love a good fantasy and this book had it in abundance. I can’t quite pinpoint why I wasn’t enthralled with this book, but it took me a good few attempts of picking it up and putting it down over the course of a few weeks to finally read the story in length.

The characters were well rounded. I especially liked Jack, the changeling. Hazel, the MC, was suitably flawed, and that was important for this story due to the fairytale premise.

It was the world building that clawed this book back for me. Black definitely has the imagination and storytelling ability for this type of fantasy.


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


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