Brewhaha Book Cafe

For Writers, Readers & Tea-drinkers


August 2016

Friday Countdown

Ahh, I almost forgot!! But hey, it is still Friday, at least over here in the States! So here’s the August 12th countdown!!

The day Mez and I are supposed to exchange manuscripts is


days away

The day our Writing Retreat begins is


days away

And finally, Novel in November is


days away

Time sure does fly!


Great summer reads for kids (of all ages): The Dream Snatcher by Abi Elphinstone

The Dream Snatcher

By Abi Elphinstone   Dream Snatcher

The life of a Romany gypsy kid is pretty great for Moll Pecksniff–climbing trees, collecting nature’s treasures, getting into all manner of mischief with her best friend Siddy, even running wild with her own wildcat-slash-sidekick Gryff! It’s the life every kid dreams about, until… Moll’s dreams become haunted by sinister, masked figures and memories of her parents’ mysterious deaths. And it’s no coincidence. The Shadowmasks responsible for killing her parents are now bent on destroying Moll and Gryff, the only two living things prophesied to put an end to their dark schemes to strengthen their evil powers and overthrow all that is good in the forest…or maybe even the world?

Will Moll and her friends be able to discover the Amulets of Truth and fulfill the bone murmur’s prophesy before it’s too late? Or will the Dream Snatch prove too strong for one gypsy girl and her wild pet?

This book takes the gypsy-wanna-be on an adventure that is both wild and magical, dark but often funny, and reminds the reader of the profound power of friendship against the forces of evil that be.

This is the sort of book to read hidden away in a homemade din or up a tree in summer months to let the gypsy magic have its full effect. Note well! This is the first installment of a trilogy. Once you enter Moll’s wild world, you will be hooked for two more books. Check out Abi Elphinstone’s website for news on the final installment!

Genre: Middle Grade Adventure, Fantasy

Recommended Tea: Forest Berries or Nettle

Wednesday Writers’ Cafe: rebel or rule-lover?

Raise your hand if you’ve ever read a book or blog titled something like “The Rules of Writing”.

Alright. Hands down. Now raise your hand if you religiously follow those rules you’ve read about (if you raised your hand previously).

You needn’t look far for “guidance” on what is and isn’t permissible in today’s publishing arena. In fact, if you start searching in earnest, you will soon find yourself inundated with an inexhaustible list of no-nos that will land your manuscript straight in the slush pile!

Thing is, whilst many of the “rules” of writing make sense and  come from the hard-earned experience of those seasoned in the industry, other rules just sound so arbitrary… faddish, even. For example, “don’t write any long sentences”, or “don’t over describe your setting like Tolkien did.. nobody has the attention span for description anymore,” or “whatever you do after, you must start your book with short, punchy, edgy paragraphs or you’ll lose your audience…better yet, you’ll never have an audience, because no agent will touch it if it’s not edgy enough for 21st century readers”… Really? 

And I’m pretty sure I’ve read some rule breakers that aren’t suffering too badly for it. I mean, G.R.R. Martin has more POVs in one novel than I can count, his descriptions make Tolkien’s sounds like haikus, and he describes the sunrise as “the fingers of dawn”(apparently a notorious no-no in the literary world). Has rule-breaking inhibited his career? Well, as my grandad used to say, ‘I’ll bet he cries all the way to the bank.’

But then, for those of us not so well-established in the publishing world, it’s tricky, isn’t it? We want to prove we’ve done our homework.. we want to tick the right boxes for our would-be agents… whilst somehow remaining “original”.  So here’s my question for you, dear writers:

Are you a writing-rule-keeper, or a total rebel? Which rules do you consider to be “musts”… & which are “really more like guidelines”?

Let the conversation begin!

*Want to read more on this subject? Check out this article by writer Andrew Toy.

Novel In November

November may seem like a lifetime away, but it will be here before we know it! And why do we care? Because November is National Novel Writing Month of course! The one month of the year writers from all over come together (er…lock themselves in their rooms alone) to try to write a novel during the month of the November.

First, I have to ask…why didn’t ‘they’ decide to make national writing month during a month with 31 days, not 30?? That extra 24 hours could be crucial!

Anyways, the goal is to write 50,000 words in 30 days, or 1,667 words a day. 50,000 sounds like a lot, but 1,667 a day sounds more manageable, doesn’t it? There is a website,, where you can sign up to track your progress, get pep talks, and join other writers in their journey. You can even earn ‘badges’ as your word count rises and ‘win’ by completing your novel and posting it there. It also has some writing resources, so check it out!

Mez and I have decided to embark on this quest this year for the first time and we are inviting all of you along with us. It’s a scary task ahead of us, but we can do it!


We’ve created an event you can sign up to, Novel in November, and receive daily emails during the month of November with tid bit of inspiration to keep you going. Just a little, because we should all be writing, not blogging! We will also update you on our progress…or, you know, lack of progress. We hope to hear how your novels are also progressing during the month!

That’s a ways off. However, the countdown to November has begun and we will start preparing for it soon here, on the blog, to help us and you make the most of those 30 short days in November. There will be some writing book recommendations, tips to make time for writing, and general reminders that November is approaching. I’m looking forward to it!

And the Countdown Begins!

Did you know, it is exactly 150 days until New Years? This year has flown by and the closer we get to the end of the year, the faster it seems to go! We’ve decided to start a countdown to a couple of events coming up.

First, the day Mez and I exchange the first drafts of the stories we are currently working on for each other to read and edit. Why are we announcing this? All of you are to hold us accountable! I figure if we tell everyone, we will be more likely to finish! That’s the theory anyway. That date is September 15th, or

days away

That time is going to fly. I’ve gotta get writing!

The next countdown is to our Writing Retreat. I will be heading to England and Mez and I will get so see each other in person for the first time in…nine months? So looking forward to it! All of you are invited along with us, joining us here on this blog. We will be posting lots of things, from favorite bookshops and writing spots, to reviews of each other’s manuscripts, to pictures of beautiful England. Stay tuned for more details of where we are going and what we are planning! I will be arriving in England on September 27th.


days away

And lastly, we are beginning a countdown to Novel in November. We will go into detail about this next week, what exactly it is and what we will be doing. We are both very excited to do this for the first time this year. More to come! November is


days away

So here begins our weekly countdown! So much to do, so little time, but hopefully this countdown will motivate us all. Have a good weekend everyone!

Wednesday Writers’ Cafe: To blog, or not to blog? That is the question.

We like blogs. Obviously. They serve a pretty great purpose along with lots of other social media platforms: creating a network of like-minded, kindred spirits… knitting us into a community where we can learn from and support each other in our otherwise lonely creative endeavors.

BUT, there is a dark side to the blog & social media world, and I’ve certainly felt its force. I’ll bet you’ve felt it too. The effect  goes something like this:

“I could work on that sticky scene of my book I’ve been putting off… OR, I could just quickly hop onto my blog and check the stats. Oh, and while I’m at it, I’ll just sneak a quick peak at facebook in case a few more “likes” have come in. And come to think of it, I haven’t uploaded any new images to Instagram in days now, so…”

And at the end of the day, when you finally look at your blank story page through screen-blearied eyes, you despondently ask yourself, “Where did the day go?” Then, drained of creative energy, you shut it down & wait for another, more inspired opportunity. Again.

Are you familiar with this vicious cycle? Have you felt the power of the Dark Side of Blogging/ Social Media? and if you have wrestled with it, have you found a healthy balance between blogging & actually writing your book?

If so, PLEASE SHARE! This is one time we could all make the most of the Light Side of the our social networks to help one another in the fight to write better. Let’s get chatting!

And just for fun, here’s a little video clip about the addictive POWER of social media over your brain (ie. your most important writing instrument!):


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