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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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.

Guest Post: Sarina Langer on Bullet Journals

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Guess who’s back on my blog today? Yep, fantasy author, Sarina Langer. Sarina has taken time out of her busy release week for her new book, Wardens of Archos, to guest post on Writerly Bookish Stuff.

Sarina is a bullet journal (BuJo) advocate, and is here today to explain what a bullet journal is, why she benefits from using one, and how you can get started on your own. I’m all ears for this post. Over to you, Sarina!


Bullet Journals

Chances are you’ve at least heard of the bullet journal, even if you’re not sure what it is, exactly. It’s grown in popularity over the last few years, and sites like Instagram and Pinterest are full of beautiful examples. The bullet journal is a way of organising anything you want, in a way that suits you. I recommend you check out the original website, too.

What I love the most about my bullet journal is the flexibility, the creativity, and the ability to plan and organise everything the way I want. You can imagine it like a planner that does exactly what you need, without limitations. When you buy a basic planner or a diary, you have a page for each day or a two-page spread for each week, but sometimes you just want something… more.

 

If a week is going to be quiet, you can use as little space for it as you think is necessary. If you know one week is going to be busy and one page won’t do, you can spread it out over as many pages as you need.

But there is one downside, and it’s why many people eventually give up on it. Your bullet journal takes time. Why draw a spread for every month when a regular planner already comes with twelve? Why set aside time every Monday morning to write down every day that week and date it, when any planner you can buy already has that? I get your apprehension. There are days when I’m not sure I can be bothered, and it’s on those days that I look to more basic spreads. I’m not artistically creative. If you told me right now to draw a hedgehog, I’d need a reference picture and it still wouldn’t be pretty. I’ve seen some incredibly beautiful bullet journals on Pinterest (my board right here is full of them!), and I assure you mine looks nothing like that.

Our days are busy, sometimes chaotic, and time is precious. I understand not wanting to waste a lot of time on something you can buy with no effort in most shops for little money, and if that’s what you want to do, go for it! But I hope I can show you today that your Bullet Journal doesn’t need to take a lot of time and still look pretty(ish).

These are my basics:

The Key

Your key is usually found at the front (if you want to make it harder on yourself and stick it on page 97, go for it – as I said, you can do anything you want in this thing), and it’s a short, easy summary of how you’ll use your bullet journal.

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The basics are your code – the signage you use for completed tasks, started-but-unfinished tasks, priorities, and so on. You can include anything you like in this, such as appointments, important meetings, or research you want to do; your bullet journal is flexible!

I recommend just sticking to the basics if you’re starting your first journal, and leave a bit of room in your key to add to it as you go. Your preferences will likely change as you go, and you can adjust, add, and cut as you need to.

My own preferences have changed quite a bit in my current bullet journal (BuJo #2), so I’ve included an updated version of the key partway through it. I’ve also marked the page with washi tape so I can find it again easily should I need to.

Yearly Spread

Don’t you just love it when a new year starts, and you have all the options? What will you do that year? Which goals will you set? What are your priorities going to be?

I love planning, friends, and your yearly spread is a good place to do that on a large scale.

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For 2017, I did something a little more ‘extravagant’ than I usually do. (writing out all those numbers took time, you know!) I have plenty of space for monthly goals and appointments, which I love. What I don’t have is a page dedicated to my goals this year, so when the time comes to create next year’s spread, I’ll include space for that. I do have two double spreads with goals (colour-coded and categorised, naturally) and ideas on how to achieve them, but really I just want a list where I can tick of goals as I hit them.

So, 2018’s calendar is going to be more basic with a year-long list of goals.

Monthly Spread

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I tried so many different designs for this before I found one that works for me. My monthly calendar is on one side, and my to-do list for each month is on the other. That way I can pencil in important meetings and release dates and things like that, and have everything I want to achieve on the same spread. I’ve experimented with various levels of intricacy and detail, but in the end this minimalistic spread works best. It saves me time, and it has everything I need at one glance.

Weekly Spread

I’ve tried even more layouts here – my bullet journal is a mess of failed spreads, and that’s mostly the weekly spread’s fault. I’ve tried everything from having all the info on one, crammed page (which didn’t leave me anywhere near enough space) to having a double spread, to using four full pages for my weekly goals. Minimalism won again.

 

While layouts with individually drawn boxes and leafs and clouds and little kittens look great, I don’t have the time to draw all that (and, as we’ve already established, I don’t have the skills, either). A bit of washi tape (which I’m addicted to, by the way) and a basic layout is all I need.

My Bookshelf

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This was one of the first things I added. My first list was just that, a list, but my second attempt is a little prettier. Every book I buy (books I don’t own yet don’t make it onto this spread) goes on here, and every book I’ve read I colour in.

My tbr is a mess and I’m sure you’re quite aware yourself that it can feel overwhelming, but thanks to this spread I have a good idea of how many books I actually have. Outside the bullet journal, my tbr exists in two places: my actual shelf, and my kindle where the books are in no useful order whatsoever. If it wasn’t for this spread I’d have no idea how many unread books I currently own.

Blog Posts & Guest Posts

This is becoming even more relevant to me now that I’ve started building my freelance writing business. Previously, I’ve used my bullet journal to plan future blog post ideas, make a note of whether I’d written the first draft, whether they were ready and scheduled, which day they’d publish, and so forth. But now I’m also using it to keep track of all my freelance writing jobs and opportunities (like this one!) by writing down who the post is for, what my word count limit is, and when my deadline is.

This way I can see at one glance what I’m doing for whom and when they want it by. Yay for organisation!

Here are some more ideas of what you can do:

Habit tracker

Dream journal

List of films you want to watch

Places you want to visit

Savings tracker

A list of home improvements

Birthdays

Passwords

Gift ideas for your loved ones

Blog post planner

Social Media Exposure Tracker

Content Calendar

Full disclosure: I actually use some of these myself but they’re not in any state to be shown off anywhere! As I said, I’m artistically challenged.

There are so many things you can try and adjust that my main advice is to start small, with the basics, and add to it as you learn what you need from your bullet journal. If you want to be creative and intricate, go ahead, and if you want to keep it simple, like I do, go ahead with that, too. You can try a bit of both, if you like! That’s the beauty of your bullet journal – it’s yours, in every way.

And if you realise fifty pages in that you no longer want to use a specific spread, or try a different layout, good news: you can!

Happy journaling and organising, people!


Author Picture.jpgSarina is the author of the Relics of Ar’Zac trilogy. The first book in the series, Rise of the Sparrows, was released in late May 2016. She’s currently working on the sequel and a new fantasy duology.

She’s obsessed with books and all things stationery, has a proud collection of over twenty notebooks, and squees every time she buys a new notebook, pens (hmmm, fountain pens ❤ ) or highlighters.

In her free time she reads fantasy and sci-fi novels, plays video games, and researches human sacrifice traditions and the end of the universe.

Where to find Sarina & her books:

Website & Blog

Twitter

Instagram

Facebook

LinkedIn

Goodreads

Pinterest

Newsletter


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

Update 03/10/17

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Last month, I was relieved to be able to get back to editing after an unproductive summer. This month, I’ve been lazy. I am literally a writing sloth at the moment. In fact, I’m just a sloth in every aspect of life. You know what? I’m not even ashamed.

EVO Ghost

I’m about 60% through the structural edit. I wanted to be finished with this edit, well into the line edits, and much closer to finalising a release date. If I release this year, I’ll be surprised… extremely surprised.

However, here’s what I have been listening to when I have sat my bum down to edit. This song could have been written as the EVO Nation theme song!

Zombie Playlist Paperback

The end of September goal would have been realistic if I did any formatting. In truth, I haven’t even opened the file this month. There’s always October.

On a different note, Zombie Playlist is on a price promotion from the 5th until the 12th. Get your ecopy for 99p.

Social Media

You know those months where you can’t be assed with the internet? I had that month. Instagram in particular was annoying me. I gave up on my September reading challenges because it felt like it was becoming a chore. I have over ten tags to catch up on, and other than blog related posts, I haven’t been actively posting like I normally do. I’m sure a break from daily posting will help. I’m quite happy to sit back and peruse everyone else’s posts.

Blog Guest Posts

The guest posts are the highlight of my September. Did you catch the posts by Dana Fraedrich and Faith Rivens? If you need advice on world building or beating procrastination, then follow these links:

Dana Fraedrich on World Building.

Faith Rivens on Beating Procrastination.

Katie Masters is stopping by on Friday to offer some tips on creating well rounded antagonists, and Sarina Langer is joining me on Friday 22nd to educate us in all things bullet journals. Keep your eyes peeled.

What’s Next?

Next, I do everything I didn’t do last month… or at least attempt to. There’s a lot going on at the moment, and juggling everything is hard. Even finding reading time is proving difficult. Who knows? Maybe I’ll have a sudden surge of motivation.

I hope you all have a productive month whatever your goals may be.


Content belongs to K.J.Chapman

Cover Reveal: Zombie Playlist

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Some of you may know that I have been slogging away over my Zombie novella, Zombie Playlist, since the end of 2016. I am a huge fan of anything zombie, so it was a natural progression for me to write something in the genre. The idea for Zombie Playlist popped into my head when I was making a playlist for my last book, Thrown to The Blue. I wanted to write a book where the playlist was an important part of the narrative, and this idea lent itself well to my Zombie narrative idea.

I have completed the first draft and shall tuck into some editing soon, but first, I wanted to show off the cover. It is a bit quirky, a little funky, a tad pretty awesome, and it sums up the whole tone of the novella…

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Keep your eyes peeled for the blurb reveal tomorrow.


Content belongs to K.J.Chapman

EVO Ghost Update 01/06/17

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In my last update, I had hoped to have finished the remainder of my EVO Ghost draft by June. I fell a little short, but I’m close- real close. I hadn’t bargained on the read-throughs of EVO Nation and EVO Shift taking as long as they did. The read-throughs were important, and I have notes upon notes to keep in mind when drafting/ editing book three.

Another distraction, but an exciting one, was sorting the paperback version of Thrown to The Blue. The full cover was completed, and I gave the document a final check before submitting it for review. Keep your eyes peeled for the paperback release.

A few days ago, I had a break from all things EVO. My mind was being consumed day and night by Teddie’s story, so I took a day off to concentrate on Zombie Playlist. I easily fell back into Dagger’s mindset, and even sorted at least four definite tracks to add to her playlist. Whoop.

What have I been listening to?

Seeing as I have only written on my Zombie Playlist WIP this last week, I shall include one song from the playlist. This is an exclusive, because I NEVER divulge the playlist songs. I tend to keep them secret because each song is a chapter title and compliments the narrative. Are you ready for a sneak peek…

What’s Next?

There is only one thing on my agenda: Finish the first draft of EVO Ghost. Once that is done and dusted, I can have a break from it for a few weeks, and get the cover and blurb reveals out of the way.

I hope to finish the first draft of Zombie Playlist before I dive into the redraft of EVO Ghost. That way, both WIPs get a rest before I go over them with a fine tooth comb. Although, Zombie Playlist is a novella and may be ready for publication before EVO Ghost.

Excerpts:

These are short and sweet. No spoilers.

EVO Ghost:

“Where’d you get it,” I say, holding my numb lip up with my fingers.

“It was in the pocket of a coat that I claimed from the laundry when I first arrived. It may have been through the washer, but its wrapper is still intact. I shoved it in a drawer and forgot about it. I wouldn’t be putting it anywhere near my mouth if it has been through the wash with people’s smalls.”

Zombie Playlist:

If you haven’t eaten Marshmallow Fluff out of the jar using a Curly Wurly, you haven’t lived. Open packets litter the floor around us, and an empty bourbon bottle rolls around on the uneven floor boards. That was the extent of the alcohol supply, but one bottle of bourbon between two light-weights after months on the dry was more than ample.


Content belongs to K.J.Chapman

Guest Post: Brianna West on Character Development

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Joining us today for a humour packed guest post on the importance of character develoment is the wonderfully talented author, Brianna West.


The Joys of Authorhood: Raising Fully Developed Characters

Hello all aspiring and current authors desperate to figure out how to fully raise your characters into complex, well-developed, functioning-in-plot characters! I’ve come here because I was once like you: scared, unsure, slightly crazier than normal people and talking to all the voices in my head. The characters whose names you need to figure out, whose personalities aren’t complex enough, aren’t realistic enough to be featured in your current or maybe not even your future work.

Don’t be discouraged! I’ve come to give you my experience with how to raise fully functioning, story-ready characters and how to develop them over the course of your work in progress.

First things first, whether you plot your story out, outlining every detail, or you just write where your characters lead you, guiding when need be, characters that aren’t fully developed can sometimes cause a story not to feel real or read as well as one that has characters fully realized.

  1. Aw, he’s got your morbid sense of humor—get to know what their personality is. This is something I tend to do when I’m “imagining” how I want interactions to go. Whether or not the two characters would fit together with certain aspects of their personality. It’s a good time to figure out what characteristics you might want from them. Are they quirky, broody, moody, playful, quiet, and so on so forth. It’s important to get to know them and figure out where their personality needs improvement or adjustment.
  2. Playdates are fun until someone’s kid gets killed—there’s been a time or two where I’ve been unable to fully grasp an interaction between two, mostly because I haven’t really written them before or it’s been a while. So, giving them a test run in a small written interaction might help tighten up some of the aspects you were hoping to achieve or where they could change when dealing with other characters.
  3. Scarred for life—backstory is something you can get away with not knowing much of to begin with, having it develop over the course of a story and getting to know their history as the story unfolds. But it’s a good idea to have some sort of idea where you want your character to have come from, even if just that their daddy was a drunk and their mommy a drug-dealer.
  4. Growing up sucks, but it’s great for plot—the most important is the growing and changing of a character over the course of a story or series. Seeing them change as it goes along, reacting and transforming due to encounters, other characters etc., it gives the reader a sense of knowing them and real-time movement that builds a relationship with the readers that all the above doesn’t build in such an intense way.

These are just a few things to think about when dealing with character development, but in the course of my authorhood, the most important. Hopefully these help you raise well-developed, happy characters and not angry, superficial serial killer characters that spend their life blaming their author (unless that’s what you were going for).

Happy Writing!

Brianna West.


71zctz9tEAL._UX250_.jpgBrianna West lives in beautiful Northern California with her wonderful husband and four adorable children. She writes funny, real stories that are accompanied by humor and supernatural elements. Recently published in October 2015, Brianna has gone on to add several books to her main series and spin-off series since then.

Week One: Fictional Flashback February 2017

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This month, I am taking part in #FictFBFeb17 hosted by Faith Rivens. You can find Faith and this challenge on Twitter and Instagram~ @faith_therivens.

This challenge allows us to take an indepth look at our characters, and offers readers insight into their stories. I have chosen to feature Teddie Leason from the EVO Nation series, and Dagger, the protagonist from a novella I am currently working on, Zombie Playlist. Each day is a different theme, so for the next month, keep your eyes peeled for my contributions.

I shall do a weekly summary of my posts on my blog, so if you miss my Twitter/ Insta posts, you can always find them here.

Day #1: Introduce your characters

Day #2: First

Day #3: Fire

Day #4: Fix

Day #5: Fair

Day #6: Fade

Day #7: Finally


Content belongs to K.J. Chapman

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10 Weeks, 10 Prompts, 10 Minutes #8 (Prompt Me Special)

The purpose of these writing exercises is to take a prompt a week for ten weeks and allow myself ten minutes to expand on it. All the prompts are taken from my writing prompt eBook: Prompt Me.

To check out my list of ten prompts, and maybe have a go yourself, follow this link.  Go with the flow, take the prompt literally, or just allow elements to inspire a totally different story. It is up to you. Link back to me, so I can have a read of your creations.

The Prompt:

They said that I was insane and that I never had a sister. They even went as far as to edit her out of my photographs. I know they did because they missed one- the one I keep in my locket.

They hold us in some kind of secure facility with hundreds of others. We aren’t treated badly, but we aren’t free either. Words such as cure, hope, and future are continuously brandished about, as if words can persuade us to cooperate. If you take away a person’s freedom, you take away their basic human right. Once that’s gone, then it’s a one way street- we’re prisoners and they’re our captors. Cure, hope, and future, feel very very far away.

Every day I ask for Georgina. Every day they say the same thing- ‘she is a figmant of your imagination. An imaginary friend you created as a way to get through the fifteen months you spent on the outside without another soul to talk to.’ Georgina is real. She is not my friend. She is my older sister, and they know more than they’re letting on. Why are these people trying to make me believe I’m crazy?

Jenson, the big boss, enters in his full military get-up; combat clothes, black shiny boots, and cap. He glances around us all like we’re nothing more than rats in his elaborate test, and then he waves his hand to beckon someone into our tent. A teenage boy, similar in age to me, steps into the tent. His hair looks filthy, he has cuts on his knuckles, and his eyes are sunken.

“Tent 98, this is your newest occupant- Harry Mave.” Jenson pushes Harry further into the tent, before leaving without so much as a goodbye.

Harry grips his rucksack to his chest and glances around all of our faces. This isn’t the friendliest tent, and the majority of the occupants are middle aged and have an adversion to kids and teenagers. Finally, after eyeing every inch of him, I call him over to me. The bunk above mine is empty, and hell, it’ll be nice to have someone my age to talk to.

“I’m Nell,” I say, holding out my hand. He looks at it, but doesn’t shake it. “You can have the top bunk.”

“I’m not staying,” he mumbles. “Where are the showers?”

I came in with the same fighting spirit, but that was quickly sucked out of me. “The shower tent is directly behind here. If you have anything of value take it with you.”

Gregory, our resident kleptomaniac growls at me. I just glare back, inviting him to say something. Go on, you scummy thief, so I can make a scene and search your collection for my shoelaces and hair scrunchie.

“I’d stay away from ‘Crazy Baby’ if you want to fit in here,” Gregory warns Harry. The tent gave me that nickname because of Georgina. “Sees things. Hears voices. Fucking nutjob.”

I give Gregory the bird in response. Harry grunts in acknowledgement and heads straight out of the tent. Not missing a beat, I follow him.

“This place is a fortress. You won’t get out,” I call after him. Harry doesn’t even turn back. “I should know. I tried…and tried…and tried.”

“I have people on the outside who need me. Staying here isn’t an option.”

“If they left people behind when they picked you up, it’s because they are infected.”

Now, he spins to face me, anger written all over his face. “Bullshit! My sister was not infected, and they still left her behind. We’re here because we have something they need.”

My heart pangs at the mention of his sister. “What do we have?” I ask.

He shrugs. “Something… I don’t know. Something so important that they tell me that Hannah isn’t real. They’re trying to make me think I’m crazy.”

“They said it to you too?” I grasp my locket, stepping away instinctively.

An arm encloses around my shoulders. “Nell, are you pestering the new boy?” asks Jenson. “Harry, you were placed in the wrong tent- clerical error. Bring your stuff and I’ll take you to Tent 23. It’s the other side of the camp.”

“Away from me you mean?” I ask Jenson. His eyes bore into my soul. “Harry, she’s real. Hannah’s real.” Jenson lifts me from my feet, but I fight with every ounce of my being. “She’s real, Harry. Don’t let them make you forget! Never forget!”

Jenson’s hand encloses over my mouth. “You see why her tent call her ‘Crazy Baby’?” He half laughs, squeezing the air out of my lungs as I kick and wiggle against his torso. “Stop this, Nell. Have you been taking your meds?” More military staff race over, helping Jenson to restrain me. I’m pinned to the floor and injected in the neck with a sedative. Instantly, my body feels heavy.

As Harry is escorted away, he looks over his shoulder at me. “Don’t forget,” I mouth before my eyes close.

***

Someone shakes me awake. My mouth is dry, and my limbs feel stuffed with lead weights. From the musky, body odour stench, I know I’m back in my tent. Gregory snores in the bunk beside mine, and someone farts.

“Nell, wake up,” whispers Harry. I jump fully awake in shock. He covers my mouth with his hand and shakes his head. “Stay quiet.”

I can’t move; the sedation hasn’t fully worn off yet. Harry stuffs my few belongings into my tatty rucksack and swings it onto his shoulder with his own. Then, taking me under the thighs and arms, he lifts me.

The air outside is bitterly cold, and it brings me to my senses a little. Harry skims around the side of the tent, coming to a stop behind our shower tent, and lowers me onto the damp ground. It is a dark night without moonlight, and my eyes have to adjust to see his face in front of mine.

“How?” I ask.

“I’m good at what I do.” He pulls me to sitting, and brushes my tangled hair out of my face. “They call you ‘Crazy Baby’ because Jenson has made you look crazy?”

I nod. “And they’ll do the same to you if you’re not careful.”

“How can I be sure that you’re not just crazy?”

“Why’d you come and steal me from my bed if you thought I was making it up?”

He rolls his eyes. “I need something, Nell. Before I risk my life to get us both out of here, you need to give me something to believe in.”

Pulling my pendant from under my t-shirt, I hold it in my clenched fist. “They edited her out of my photographs. They didn’t just destroy them. I suppose that would make it look like they had something to hide. This way, they can make it look like I just made her up. I didn’t make her up, Harry.”

“Who?”

Taking off my necklace, I hold it out to him. “Everyone thinks this is a pendant, but it’s a locket. They never thought to check it.” Harry feels around for the minute clasp, and opens the delicate locket. He shines his torch over the small picture inside of me and Georgina. “That’s my sister. Her name is–”

“Georgina,” he interrupts. My heart skips a beat. “You are the one I’m here for. Can you walk? We have to get to the back fence by 3am.”

“Wait? What? You know my sister?”

He smiles at me. “You could say that. Georgie is my boss- the leader of the resistance- and we’re getting you out of here.”

“What about your sister? Hannah?”

Harry takes my face in his hands. “I’m an only child. I needed to make sure you were who I thought you were. This is all for you, Helena.” My breath catches in my throat at his use of my full name; a name not even Jenson knows. “Georgie says, ‘sorry she took so long.'”

 


Content belongs to K.J. Chapman

 

 

Thrown to The Blue Update

Book Review(2)

This past week, I have been on a one woman editing mission! My proof reader has already got the first half of my manuscript, and is almost ready for the second half, and my Betas are currently reading as I type this. I’m getting fantastic feedback, and some brilliantly constructive suggestions. I’m excited now, really excited.

So, what does this mean? It means that I have a release date *drum roll please*…

Copy of Foretellings have no place for goodness, only greatness. Princess Ezrahli is far from good, but she is a great woman in a conventional Kingdom followed by whispers and scorn. However, across the waters is un-co-2.png

Keep an eye out for my promo ads.

I shall be sending out ARCs from October 11th. If you would like to be an ARC reader, please comment below.

I have some amendments to make, so it’s back to the editing grindstone for me.


Content belongs to KJ.Chapman