Book Reviews, Uncategorized

Book Review: Loyal Creatures by Morris Gleitzman

Loyal Creatures by Morris Gleitzman 5/5

Loyal Creatures is the deeply moving story of war horse Daisy and her 16-year-old owner Will, sent from the Australian outback to the gruelling Middle Eastern campaign of the First World War. Their skill in finding water is vital to their regiment in the desert, but their devotion to each other is what keeps them alive in an overwhelmingly hostile environment. Is their unwavering loyalty enough to determine their destiny?

Review:

A powerful tale about the Australian Lighthorse Brigade in World War One. Frank is just a boy when he signs up with his Dad and Daisy, his trusty horse. This is a story of friendship and loyalty between men and animals.

Although the writing style makes this an easy, quick read, I can’t believe this is a middle grade book as the ending was so gut wrenching and sob inducing for me. Loyal creatures indeed, and such a tragic end for them.

I appreciate the honesty in this story and how there really is no happy ending in war.


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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Author Toolbox Blog Hop

Write for You (Author Toolbox Blog Hop)

This post is more of a motivational, encouraging pick-me-up for anyone who needs it. I wanted to share the one thing that I have learnt in my time as a self published author, and that is to write for you.

Why did you start writing? Passion, a creative outlet? Has that changed over the course of your journey and are you asking yourself ‘what is the popular genre of the moment? Do people want to read this? Should I change something I like because statistics say my target audience won’t buy it?’

I’m here to tell you that the only person you need to impress is you. Yes, it is great to get sales and amazing reviews, but at the end of the day, you need to be happy with your process and your work.

I believe that your best writing comes when you stay true to yourself, your beliefs, and your style.

I just wanted to put this thought out there today, and if you are writing today, remember to make yourself happy.


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


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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.


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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:

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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?


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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.


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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!


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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.