Author Toolbox Blog Hop

Finding Routine After a Hiatus (Author Toolbox Blog Hop)

As you know, I have taken a long hiatus from writing, partly due to being a full time Mum, and partly because I let other things get in the way of my writing time i.e setting myself too much work for this blog and social media.

Now, I have set my priorities straight for 2020 and want to dive back in with editing my novella, Zombies and Budgie Smugglers. However, I am finding it harder than I thought I would.

I have now set myself some rules to get back into a writing routine and wanted to share them with you.

Chose a time of day and stick to it.

The mornings are best for me. My kids are early risers, so getting in a writing session when they’re eating breakfast and watching TV is best for me. If I get it done and dusted, then the rest of my day is free and I don’t feel guilty for not having written or for writing instead of family time etc.

Set low word count goals for the first few weeks.

I work best by hitting word counts rather than time limits. Ideally, 500 words a day would be perfect, but it is a daunting number coming back after a break, so I am setting small word count goals for a while of just 150 words a day. The sense of accomplishment motivates me each day.

Accountability is important.

Having someone ask ,what was your word count this morning?’ or ‘did you sit down and edit today?’ really helps me stay on track. Let people know what your plans and goals are and ask them to encourage you to stay on track every once in a while. My 9 year is best at this as she enjoys writing herself.

Mini deadlines over big ones.

When I was a mother of 1 school age child, I would happily set deadlines for editing and publication etc. Now, I have a toddler with me 24/7 a deadline seems scary. Deadlines used to motivate me, so I enjoy a mini deadline without the big stress of looming dates. For example, getting 15 pages edited in 5 days is doable and an extra push.


Do you have any tips to help me jump back on the writing wagon?


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


Content belongs to K.J Chapman

Find me on:

Instagram

Facebook

Twitter

Amazon

Goodreads

Sharing Sundays

Sharing Sundays

Today’s Sharing Sunday is a shout out to a blog that I wanted to share with the writers amongst you.

Sarina Langer is an author and editor, and she has a blog, Cookie Break, dedicated to the world of self publishing and indie authors. You can find posts on setting goals, writing tools, and self publishing tips etc.


Find Sarina:

Instagram

Twitter

Facebook


Do you have any writerly or bookish blogs that you would like to share with me? I’d love to hear them and check them out.

Do you have a blog that may be useful/ informative for other writers?


Content belongs to K.J.Chapman

Find me on:

Instagram

Facebook

Twitter

Amazon

Goodread

Blogmas

Blogmas Day 11

Slow Cooker Hot Chocolate

When I saw this recipe on Delish.com, I just had to have a go. My slow cooker is a vital part of my cooking. I love the dump and run idea behind them. I’ll hold my hands up and say that I’m not the best cook, and slow cookers disguise that fact.

I wanted to make this recipe on the night our local Christmas lights were turned on. The lights turn on starts the Christmas season in my household, so topping it off with scrummy hot chocolate was a must.

Ingredients:

1/4 cup cocoa powder

1 1/2 cups choc chips

1/2 cup sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup heavy cream

6 cups whole milk

Mini marshmallows

Combine ingredients in the slow cooker and stir well. Cook for 2 hrs on low.

The recipe calls for the marshmallows to be added 10 mins before serving to allow them to melt a little. I am not a marshmallow fan, so I skipped this bit and simply garnished my husband’s and daughter’s drinks at the end.

Family verdict… O.M.G. It was delicious. I implore everyone to have a go at this recipe (see link above). It was so easy to prep and the result was nommy.

A great way to end a festive night.


Content belongs to K.J.Chapman

updates

Update 30/11/18

I have had a productive month. I bet you didn’t think I’d kick of this post with that. I’m just as shocked myself. Lots of stuff got done, not all the stuff I had planned, but lots all the same.

Writing

It happened, not the amount I had hoped for, but more than previous months. Knowing the feel of the narrative and characters has made a huge difference.

I won’t share a teaser this month as everything I have written is spoilerific. Maybe next month.

I have also been having a serious think about my 2019 writing plans. This year was a big year personally, so I finished writing zero books. Next year, achievable but challenging goals are a must. I want at least to complete the first draft of my zombie novella, and to get my Indigo Flame book 2 well underway.

Blogging

I have been a busy bee, scheduling posts, organising 2019’s series ideas, and wait for it… planning Blogmas.

Blogmas day 1 starts tomorrow, and I hope you enjoy this festive series. There will be a Christmas related post every day until Christmas day. Whether you want help to find the perfect, bookish gift, no bake treat ideas, or recipes to use up leftover turkey, then Blogmas on Writerly Bookish Stuff is a must.

I will announce my new series for 2019 in the New Year.

Reading

I have read one short story. This is definitely where I underachieved this month. With my daughter’s birthday party, playdates, and my blog post scheduling, reading fell to the bottom of the list.

Find the review for Our Frozen Wings by Becky Wicks here.


I’m not going to do a ‘What’s next?’ section this month as I have explained a little bit about my plans above. A more extensive 2019 plan list is coming in January.

Please come back tomorrow for Blogmas day 1!


Content belongs to K.J.Chapman

Guest Post

Guest Post: Phil Price on How to Pen Darkness

book review(2)

Today’s guest post comes from horror author, Phil Price. Phil has joined me today to discuss all things horror. Give yourselves five minutes with a cup of tea, and join us for some tried and tested tips on penning horror stories. Perhaps don’t turn off the lights…

Over to you, Phil.


How to Pen Darkness

Of all the various genres out there, horror is the one that excites me the most. As a reader, you want to be able to connect with the author’s story, hoping that the words conveyed spark your imagination. Other genres do this too. A good romance may bring a tear to your eye, or a fantasy yarn may ignite your imagination. However, horror is a genre that preys on your senses. To lie in bed at night, pulling the duvet up to your neck, checking the window for unseen ghouls, is not an easy feat. Plus, there are many types of horror out there. Serial killers, men in masks, vampires, demons, and ghosts, are but a few of the things that lurk in our imaginations as horror.

So, how do you write it? Tough question. I have written three horror books, centred on vampires. The market is flooded with these mysterious creatures at the moment, as it should be. Nothing should get the horror juices flowing like a good, old fashioned vampire. From Count Dracula, to Mr Barlow, for me, that is what horror is all about. Conveying that subject onto a page is the tricky part. Words on a page are just that, words. Turning the words into a scene that will draw the reader in, is no mean feat.

Many of my readers have given me different feedback. Some, said the stories terrified them. Others said they were not scary in the shocking, jump-out-of-your-seat scary sense. More of a creeping dread that settles over you whilst reading. I, like many horror authors, have taken their inspiration from the great Mr King. He has cornered the market on what scares you. Vampires, killer clowns, haunted hotels, apocalyptic worlds – King has done it all. And many of these stories have come from his own experiences. With this in mind, that is what I try to do, weave a tale from what scares me, what excites me, and what will make readers want to indulge themselves into my world.

Setting the scene is always the most important part. It’s very easy to type, “The killer came around the corner and his knife was big and menacing.” Great. There is a killer out there with a big knife, looking to harm us. Does it ignite your senses? Hell no! The environment needs to be just right to convey the fear that the reader yearns for.

So, if you said:

‘The corridor was a darkened funnel, littered with boxes and bodies. A fluorescent bulb, flickered sporadically, throwing shadows along the low-slung space. An over-powering stench coated Tim’s throat, thick and cloying, making him want to wretch. Making him want to run. A noise in the darkness raised gooseflesh on his arms, the hairs on the back of his neck prickling to attention as the noise came again. Far off, a low shuffle of heavy feet, drifted towards him, the edges of the corridor seeming to darken further. A silhouette appeared around the far corner, dark and brooding. As the light pulsed once more, it caught the edge of the object in the figures hand. Shimmering briefly as it ran along the serrated edges of the blood stained knife.’

Now, many readers might not find that scary. However, some may. It should pull the reader in further, almost placing them in the corridor with the next victim. And that’s what I would say to anyone about to start their own horror story. The person reading your book, needs to be in your book. When they are at work, or at the shops, they need to be thinking about the next chapter, hurrying back home to get the next slice of the pie.

I would also say, be brave, be creative. Don’t hold back at all. Think about what scared you as a kid and spill those emotions into your work. Others will identify with it. I hope this has been insightful. I hope above all, that you are reaching for your laptop, inspired to get cracking on the next big thing….

Good luck.


20479607_10155653386104703_7123091821070616518_nPhil Price was born in Sutton Coldfield in 1974. He lived in various places until his family settled in Rednal, Birmingham in 1979. Growing up with and older brother and sister he always flirted with reading as there were always books lying on shelves around the house. Then in 1997 he embarked on a travel expedition that took him from Greece to Thailand, via East and Southern Africa. Sitting in dusty bus stations in Kenya, Tanzania, and Malawi gave him the opportunity to ignite his imagination fully. Since those far-off days, he has never been without a book to read.

He toyed with the idea of writing a book in 2009. After writing a few short stories he caught a whiff of an idea in his head. It grew and grew in 2010 until he had enough to begin. Marriage and two children came along, with the story being moved to the back burner for periods of time. However, during those periods of writing inactivity, the story continued to evolve until it just needed to be written down.

The book was littered with places that had influenced Phil’s life. From the Lickey Hills in Birmingham, to the Amatola Mountains in South Africa with other locations, in-between and far beyond. The book was finished sometime in 2014 and was left on his computer, until a chance conversation with an author friend made Phil take the bold step to publish his story, Unknown. Unknown was re-published in 2017, as part of The Forsaken Series. The Turning is to follow on from Unknown, with a third book currently in post-production.

Where to find Phil and his books:

Facebook Author Page

Facebook Street Team

Twitter

Unknown Book One

The Turning Book Two


For use of content featured in this post, contact the author, Phil Price.

Guest Post

Guest Post: Rebecca Howie on Overcoming Writer’s Block

book review.png

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.

Save

Guest Post

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

book review(3)

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.