My Most Important Tool As A Writer

This is another Friday Fun post. I might make these posts a habit for a Friday morning. Feel free to join in!

What is my most important tool as a writer?

Of course, I could say notebooks, paper, pens, blah blah blah, but I wanted to share with you a naming book I have had for many years- Dictionary of First Names by Geddes & Grosset. I purchased this book in a charity shop for fifty pence many moons ago, long before I had my daughter.

It has always been my tool for picking character names and understanding the meanings behind them. It was bizarre to actually use it to pick out a name for a real life human. In case you are wondering, I named my daughter Sophie. She just didn’t suit Princess Consuela Banana Hammock (if you get this reference let’s be ‘Friends’).

Here is my treasured baby/ character name book:

As you can see it is a tad tatty, and some pages are loose, but it has been lovingly adorned with Frozen stickers by my daughter. (I think she put Hans on there to represent Team Antagonist). It is also full to bursting with post-it notes. Each one is for a name that took my fancy. I use post-its for easy reference, and because I have an obsession with stationery.

If I ever have to dispose of this book it will be a solemn day indeed. I feel a little sick at the thought of it. I’ve had it for many years, and although it seems crazy to say it, it holds sentiment.

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Playlist: My Muse-ic For Book One

I listened to A LOT of music when writing EVO Nation, but the following are the songs that made it to my ‘official writing playlist’. Just a mere eighteen, however, they were my go to songs, and got me through that epic first draft stage.

  1. You ~ Keaton Henson (see video)
  2. Sail ~ Awolnation (see video)
  3. Demons ~ Imagine Dragons (see video)
  4. The Logical Song ~ Supertramp (see video)
  5. Breathe Me ~ Sia (see video)
  6. Run To The Hills ~ Iron Maiden (see video)
  7. Things We Lost In The Fire ~ Bastille (see video)
  8. Empty ~ Ray Lamontagne (see video)
  9. Black Hole Sun ~ Soundgarden (see video)
  10. King ~ Years & Years (see video)
  11. Desire ~ Years & Years (see video)
  12. Pretender ~ Foo Fighters (see video)
  13. Losing Sleep ~ John Newman (see video)
  14. Heroes ~ Alesso (see video)
  15. Hold Back The River ~ James Bay (see video)
  16. Scars ~ James Bay (see video)
  17. We Might Be Dead By Tomorrow ~ Soko (see video)
  18. Stop Crying Your Heart Out ~ Oasis (see video)

I’m slowly creating my playlist for book two in the EVO Nation Series… it’s all part of the fun, right? Do you have a writing playlist? What are your go to songs? I’m curious…

Find my eBook: EVO Nation

For more on why I have a playlist, check out my blog post : The Power of the Playlist

Book One Inspiration: Sudden Light

Sudden Light ~ Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828 – 1882)

I have been here before,

But when or how I cannot tell:

I know the grass beyond the door,

The sweet keen smell,

The sighing sound, the lights around the shore.

*

You have been mine before,

How long ago I may not know:

But just when at that swallow’s soar

Your neck turned so,

Some veil did fall – I knew it all of yore.

*

Has this been thus before?

And shall not thus time’s eddying flight

Still with our lives our love restore

In death’s despite,

And day and night yield one delight once more?

I understood immediately that Rossetti was articulating an experience of Deja Vu. Stanza two describes the catalyst of his experience, and this inspired the chapter in my novel in which after having memory manipulation, my protagonist’s love interest finally remembers her and their relationship.

The ‘Sisterhood of the World’ Bloggers Award

sisterhood-award

I received this award on a wet and windy day in Cornwall, England and it cheered my morning up. I owe my thanks to An Artsy Appetite. I appreciate you thinking of me when you received your own award. You should all check out her blog. If you have an interest in art and food, hit that follow button.

The rules of this award:

  • Thank and link the blogger who awarded you.
  • Answer the questions the blogger has provided.
  • Award 10 other bloggers.
  • Create 10 questions and notify your chosen bloggers of their award.

Here are my answers:

1. What is your favourite colour for clothes/dresses/outfits?

My favourite colour is green, but when it comes to clothes, I like patterns.

2. Favourite inspirational quote?

‘To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.’ ~ Oscar Wilde.

3. Fine dining or take out?

Take out.

4. Which one would you see, Sci-Fi movie or Thriller?

Sci-Fi all the way! I watch, read, and write Sci-Fi and Fantasy.

5. Why do you blog?

I blog to share my experiences as a self-published author, to build a platform, and to share in other blogger’s experiences.

6. Do you have any plans for your blog?

As my blog is still in its infancy, I hope to reach out to more followers.

7. What would be your favourite holiday destination? Why?

I would love to go to Lapland at Christmas time. My daughter wants to see Santa’s grotto, and I want a shot at seeing the Northern Lights.

8. Paper books or Kindle?

Both. I love the smell of books, and have a vast collection, but I also appreciate Kindle, and self-published my own book on Amazon Kindle.

9. What do you enjoy cooking the most?

Roast dinners. I love a good roast potato.

10. Who is your favourite person? Why?

I have two- my daughter and my partner. They are my world.

I award the ‘Sisterhood of the World’ Bloggers Award to  the following:

Here are my 10 questions for you:

  1. What is your most prized possession?
  2. Where is your favourite place in the world?
  3. What actress would you pick to play you in a film of your life?
  4. What film title sums up your life?
  5. What is your go to karaoke song?
  6. What is your favourite aspect of blogging?
  7. Do you have a phobia? If so, what is it?
  8. What is your favourite book?
  9. Tell me something that annoys you.
  10. Tell me something that inspires you.

Congratulations to you all.

You do not have to participate, but it is a great way to promote and honour our sister bloggers!

Cutting The Dead Weight

For the last week I have been in a writing lull. I’m working on book two in the EVO Nation series, and barely scraped together eight thousand words in the last seven days.

It is unlike me to get stuck in a writing/ plot rut, but it happened, and I couldn’t see a way out. I generally don’t outline, and the narrative comes naturally, but the tangent I followed took me down a dull path. The narrative wasn’t heading in an interesting direction, the pace was not in keeping with book one, and if I was feeling a bit ‘blah’ at the thought of digging my way out of the black hole my story was sinking into, how could I expect the readers to not feel ‘blah’ about my whole book? I could have cried.

So, I finally admitted to myself that something needed to give.  I spent the whole day on Saturday at my Nana’s house with my daughter, seeing family, and just doing our usual ‘mother’s meeting’ as the men in the family call it. It was nice knowing that I wasn’t supposed to be writing. I told myself that evening would be the turn around. I was going to try and pin point the chapter where I last felt enthusiastic about book two, and see what went wrong.

I did just that. Only, the chapter I last thoroughly enjoyed writing was four thousand words ago. Again, I could have cried. I had to take it back, and cut those four thousand words. There was nothing else to be done.

I hit delete, and do you know what? It was liberating. Once I had come to terms with the fact that I was now behind schedule, but being behind schedule was okay if it meant my story was back on track, I clung to another plot tangent and hit the ground running.

I’m now back on top form, and working at full capacity again… (deep breath). The narrative is progressing much better, and my enthusiasm has returned. So, the moral of the story is- ‘Don’t be afraid to take it back. Cut the dead weight.’ It can be daunting, but suck it up and hit delete for the sake of your novel, oh, and your sanity.

Quotes of the Week July 27th 2015

blog man

Last week I chose female empowerment quotes, and as an empowered female it wouldn’t feel right if I didn’t give the men a mention. So, this week I have picked two male empowerment quotes.

‘A successful man is one who can lay a firm foundation with the bricks others have thrown at him.’ ~ David Brinkley.

No matter what life throws at you, pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and move forward. It is exactly as they say- ‘When life gives you lemons, make lemonade’.

‘The successful warrior is the average man with a laser- like focus.’ ~Bruce Lee.

With strong determination and inner strength you can be anything you set out to be. Set your mind to something and keep your laser-like focus…Why? Because Bruce Lee says so.

Happy Monday.

My Cures For Writer’s Block

Writer’s block, the dreaded two words that no writer wants to utter, but we have all been there, right?

Here are my tried and tested tips to bust the block, and burst the dam of creativity.

Long Term Suggestions:

1. Dream Journal- Keeping a notebook and pen beside your bed is a great idea for jotting down all those thoughts that come to you just before you’re about to fall asleep, or to write down that fascinating dream before you forget the details. Once you have a dream journal in place, whenever you need a little inspiration you will have a book full to bursting.

2. Muse Notebook- It is worth investing in a small notebook that you can keep in your pocket or bag. This is particularly important when you are out and about and need to write down a snippet of dialogue or a quote you’ve overheard. A particular song lyric that inspires or holds resonance with you might be forgotten if you wait until you get home to jot it down.

This notebook can be called upon when writer’s block kicks in. Things that inspired you in the first instance, could hold a completely different meaning when you revisit them.

3. Pinterest Set up a Pinterest account and create an inspiration board. Any images, quotes, and lyrics you find inspiring can be pinned to your board for future use. You can even peruse other pinner’s inspiration boards for ideas. Check out my post, A Passion For Pinterest, for ways to use Pinterest to your advantage.

Short Term Suggestions/ Quick Fixes:

1. Listen to music- Music stirs emotions in us all. Pick a song, really listen to the lyrics, and picture the story behind them.

2. Change of scenery- Go for a walk, or try writing in a different location such as your local library.

3. Read a newspaper or magazine- Real life stories can be interesting and spur the ‘what if’ questions.

4. Pick a song title- Pick a song title and write a paragraph based on that title.

5. Writing prompts- Find writing prompts online and expand on the prompt. See where your creativity takes you. I have created prompts in another of my blog posts, Narrative Prompts.

6. Interview family or friends- It doesn’t have to be a formal interview. Casually chat about their past experiences, phobias, dreams. Take a concept and expand on it from your own imagination.

7. Childhood photographs- Browse photos from your past/ childhood. Does anything strike you funny or curious? Is there a mysterious woman in the background of a shot who would make an interesting character?

8. Visit a graveyard- This might seem a morbid suggestion, but graveyards can offer a wealth of inspiration; names, tragedy, and spook value. Try to imagine lives for the deceased. What did they do for a living? Did they die from an act of bravery, stupidity, or a broken heart?

9. Partake in some fun- What better way to recharge your batteries, gain experiences, mingle with others, and de-stress? Let you hair down, and come back to writing with a relaxed, fresh head.

10. Browse a baby name book- Name books that include the name meanings are fantastic for inspiration. Name a character, and then develop their personality based on the meaning behind their name.

Children’s Summer Reading Challenge 2015 – Record Breakers

summer read blog

Just a quick post this Saturday morning to promote the Children’s Summer Reading Challenge 2015.

Quote taken from The Reading Agency webpage:

‘The Summer Reading Challenge in libraries is the UK’s leading reading for pleasure programme for primary school aged children; it runs in 98% of local authorities in England, Wales and Scotland every summer and in 2014 returned to Northern Ireland. 2014 was a record year involving 839,622 children, with 81,908 children joining the library as new members. The 2015 Summer Reading Challenge is called Record Breakers, delivered in partnership with Guinness World Records.’

This is my daughters first year ‘officially’ partaking in the challenge. The children get little activities/ gifts through out the challenge, and will receive a certificate and medal on completion.

Get your children, nieces, nephews, friend’s children signed up for the summer holidays. Just head to your local library.

My daughter (four years old) has selected her six books to read (for Mummy and Daddy to read to her).

1. Whizz Bang Winnie by Laura Owen & Korky Paul

2. Petal’s Story by Battersea Dogs and Cats home

3. The Railway Rabbits (Wisher and the Runaway Piglet) by Georgie Adams

4. Hello Kitty: The beach Holiday – A HarperCollins Book (author not stated)

5. Hello Kitty:The Magazine Mix- Up- A HarperCollins Book (author not stated)

6. My Hamster is a Detective by Dave Lowe

At the end of her challenge I will do a post of her reviews for each book, and my own ‘Mummy review’. We will also do a review of the challenge as a whole.

Find out more about the Summer Reading Challenge

Things I have Done Once…And Will Not Do Again!

Over the next few months I plan on adding some personal blog posts in amongst my writing blog posts. A little insight into the life and experiences of K.J.

This post is a bit of fun. I have chosen five experiences from my life that I can tick off my checklist, but I will most definitely NOT be doing again.

Rock Climbing/ Cliff Climbing

I’m not sure of the exact name of this activity, but it involved a cliff face, an obstacle course built into the cliff face, a rope threaded over and under said obstacles, and me attached to the end of it. I went into this activity full of confidence after having a blast on a zip wire that stretched from one cliff face to another. The cliff course, however, got the better of me.

My legs turned to jelly, and I had never realised how exhausting it is being physically petrified. Half way up the course I froze for at least two minutes. Other climbers had made it to the top in less than one minute. Then, once I had finally got myself going again, I slipped and ended up with bloody elbows, and the poor instructor had to pull my dead weight up the cliff face. When I asked him what my time was, he simply replied, “I have no idea, Sweetheart. I stopped the timer after seven minutes”…oops.

Paintballing

When I say I will never do paintballing again, I must clarify that I mean I will never do ‘Free For All’ paintballing again.

I was a bad shot and a lousy hider, so I pretty much sucked at paintballing, and I was left with a lot of ammo at the end of the game. The martials suggested we use up what ammo we had left in a ‘free for all’ match. Each man/woman for themselves, and no rules apply (except no deliberate head shots).

My naïve self, a paintball virgin before that day, joined in. I was shot at point blank range in the back of my thigh and ankle. Wow- the pain was unreal. I literally crawled, ‘Saving Private Ryan’ style behind a barrel and stayed there until the final klaxon.

It wasn’t until I got in the shower that I noticed the biggest bruise I have ever had. This was eight years ago, and I have still not topped that bruise. I’m not exaggerating when I say it was the size of a side plate, with a perfect circle in the middle of it. It took weeks for it to fade.

Smoking

As all teens do (or at least did when I was at school), I tried my first cigarette. One word to describe the experience- vile. I didn’t inhale properly, more like swallowed the smoke, which resulted in me gagging my guts up.

Even brushing my teeth after didn’t take the ash tray taste away. I can remember thinking to myself, ‘Scientists say it takes more than one cigarette to get someone addicted. Why are people forcing themselves to endure more than one of these disgusting things?’

I still don’t understand it.

PanoraMagique Balloon Experience- Disney Land.

Yes, I mean the air balloon on an electric winch. I can tell you right now that a real one is out of the question!

Again, I thought I’d enjoy it, so I gave it a bash, but no, it was terrifying. I spent the whole time clinging so tightly to the side that my knuckles turned white. My other half got some cracking pictures of Disney land, but otherwise, I was traumatised.

Do It Yourself Eye Brow Waxing

When I was fourteen I decided that it was time to shape my eyebrows properly. To be honest they did look like they were about to crawl off my face, but I was young and stupid, and thought waxing my own eyebrows would be a piece of cake.

Back in 2000… (cough). It seemed to be the rage for teenage girls to shape their eyebrows into thin lines with a rounded bit where they meet the nose. I call it the sperm effect eyebrow because that is basically what they looked like.

For reasons I can not fathom now, I too wanted that eyebrow style. So, I bought a wax set and set about it. The more I waxed one eyebrow the more I had to do the other to make it match. It was a vicious circle. I was left with insanely thin, sperm effect eyebrows and a constant look of surprise.

My advice to anyone looking to wax their own eyebrows- GO PRO!

I’d be interested to hear other blogger’s top five experiences they’ll never repeat again…

EVO Nation Series

In this post I shall introduce my debut novel, EVO Nation, the first book in the EVO Nation Series. I am currently writing book two, and I’m sure to create blog posts regarding my current journey writing the sequel, so I thought I’d give some background on book one.

EVO Nation is a young adult, science fiction and fantasy novel. A particular favourite genre of mine to read, and evidently to write. The process from starting the first draft to self- publishing on Amazon Kindle took about nine months.

Here is the link to EVO Nation on Amazon Kindle (check out the ‘look inside’ feature to read the first few chapters and get a feel for the story.) Find EVO Nation by K.J. Chapman

The blurb:

The government tortures her, her own kind uses her, and she is learning the true meaning of ulterior motives. Teddie Leason has been dragged into the festering underbelly of the secretive world of EVO. A world about to be blown wide apart.

Now, the reclusive teenager who couldn’t get upset without her unruly ability causing destruction has to somehow embrace her gift to save her new friends and her new love.

Will the actions of one man fuel a suppressed, supremacist society’s thirst for war and vengeance, or will Teddie be strong enough to stop him?

EVO Nation is set within current society, and pushes the limits of human and social morality. I have read a mountain of dystopian novels that are currently on the market and I enjoy them immensely, but I decided to write a world within our current world to hopefully appeal to readers searching for a realistic, present day take on the science fiction genre in today’s young adult market.

I’m a stickler for habit and write all my novels in my tried and tested method that involves as little planning/ outlining as possible…(gasps). However, I do have a concept, character ideas, and plot twists whirling around in my head for a few weeks before I sit down to write. In my opinion, I work better without detailed outlines, and I like discovering the journey my characters take me on.

Check out my blog post, Writing and Me, for my writing habits and peculiarities.

Here are some of the rules I did set myself when I first embarked on EVO Nation’s first draft:

1. Teddie Leason was not going to be a damsel in distress…(barf). Feminism has happened folks! I wanted her to be human, real, flawed, but not weak. I hope reader’s think I rose to the challenge on this one.

2. I wanted well rounded characters who had their own minds. This meant that when it came to writing their stories, I had to let them talk to me and not the other way around. I wanted their reactions, dialogue, actions, to be in keeping with their personalities.

3. There was always going to be a plot twist- I left certain areas of the story open to develop a plot twist later on. I didn’t pre-plan my plot twist, it developed over the course of my first draft. It felt more natural to allow it to develop and unravel on its own accord.

4. I wanted Teddie to have a love interest. This is purely because I wanted a sub-plot to run alongside, and interweave with the main plot, and more importantly… I’m a sucker for a good romance.

It was incredibly nerve wracking when I first self-published EVO Nation on Amazon Kindle. More nerve wracking knowing my book, my baby, was out in the world for criticism.

However, I have received great feedback from readers. My most recent feedback/ review was posted to my Facebook page: K.J.Chapman on Facebook (all new likers welcome).

Latest review for EVO Nation:

Seriously what an amazing book. Right away you’re sucked into a roller-coaster storyline filled with characters you can’t help but relate to and love.. But also one you love to hate and can’t wait to see them get a damn good comeuppance! And oh what fantastically satisfying comeuppances K, Chapman dishes out!!
Evo nation is the sort of book that makes you want to abandon every day life in favour of a comfy chair and silence (and the book of course!) , the kind of book that makes you read till your eyes feel like they’re going to shrivel up!
A sassy, addictive read! Can’t wait for the sequel! If you haven’t already read it, get on with it!

Knowing that readers are appreciating my story and characters gives me an immense sense of achievement. If people enjoy reading EVO Nation as much as I enjoyed writing it, then I’m doing something right.

I aim to have book two of the EVO Nation Series (title yet to be confirmed) published on Amazon Kindle by the end of 2015. Between now and then, I shall create update posts on my sequel writing journey.

Happy Thursday