Brewhaha Book Cafe

For Writers, Readers & Tea-drinkers


October 2016

Wednesday Writers’ Cafe: getting into your character’s shoes

Happy Wednesday, my writing companions of the world wide web! And welcome, as always, to the Writers’ Cafe!

I just had a moment. I looked down at my watch to check the date & experienced a just a teensy bit of a conniption when it dawned on me that Novel in November kicks off in a mere 19 days! But of course it was mostly a conniption of joy… obviously.

So Bri & I are making it our aim to distill all the hoards of writing exercises out there to bring you only the best, the most useful & inspiring to get the gears going on churning out your story in November. In fact, we feel a bit like Bilbo hunting the Arkenstone amidst the hoards of gems in Erebor! Only we haven’t got a dragon to reckon with… just a ticking clock, which is nearly as vicious

Anyway, earlier this week, Bri posted about starting points – ie. some stories begin with a character, others with a setting or a scenario or even a “what if?”. But wherever you begin your story, you want to set your rudder early on to writing the story that’s going to grab the attention & maybe even the hearts of your readers. And in order to do that, you must work hard at one crucial ingredient: your POV (point of view) character.

Why is the main character so critical? Because, fact is, readers (& most writers) are human. And the way we connect with a story is via shared experience & empathy with the the human or human-like character the story revolves around. Simple enough.

But creating that character that is both believable & interesting enough to get under your readers’ skin… not so simple.

But fear not! It is doable with effort. And here’s an exercise that’s going to help you out tremendously! Quick advisory note: If you’ve not yet filled out Bri’s character check-point list, you might want to do that first to set the foundations. Now for your assignment:

Spend 15-20 minutes  either 1) writing a journal entry as your main character, or 2) interview your main character.

You may wish to set the journal entry/ interview just before or after the inciting incident in your story (if you know what it is yet, of course… don’t worry if you don’t!).

When you’ve finished, read it back. Did anything surprise you about your character? Are there any little quirks you might build on in the story? Any shining character qualities you could build a scene around?

Now think about POV. If your character has a strong or interesting voice, maybe it’s worth considering writing in 1st person…?

Now off you go, and remember to ENJOY the exercise. You get to make a new friend of your very own creation. It’s like having an imaginary friend again!

And please, PLEASE let us know how it goes in the comments below. We’d love to meet your characters too!


Where Do You Start?

stirling-castle-202103_1280Okay, fellow writers, I started writing this post a week ago while still in England, therefore it is a little out of date, but still applicable! Basically, this was before we officially started our Novel in November work.

Mez and I have been talking about our stories for Novel in November; we plan on starting Write Your Novel in a Month by Jeff Gerke this afternoon. Wish us luck because technology is against us today!

Mez was reading it through on the train and we started talking about ways people start their stories. We both tend to start with characters or a very general story idea; it’s a bit of a shock to think other people start in other ways. My story idea came about because I wondered what a girl named Blue would be like. Mez was playing make believe in a 16th century house and met a precocious little German girl with her German shepherd. That girl and the make believe play became the basis for her story idea.

How about you? Do you have your starting point? Is it a character, like me, or a snippet of an idea like Mez? A setting, an era, even just a genre? Maybe a picture, like the castle above, is your inspiration. Do you have a plot? Hopefully if you want to write a book, you have an idea of what kind of book you want to write or who you want to write about.

Now to figure out what you know and what you need to know! I enjoy making my own fantasy worlds so I can do the least amount of research, though this time I will be looking into cryptozoology, which will be fun! (And, as it turns out, cars. Took over two hours to find the perfect car for my male lead: blue 1969 Ford mustang boss 302. Check it out, it is beautiful!) Mez will soon be researching the 16th century, specifically, the relationship between Germany and England and their nobility.

What research do you have to do? If you are basing your story on a setting (like the Amazon or New York City) or an era (World War II or the Victorian era) you will need to do a lot of research, to know your topic through and through. Mez and I hope to get all of our research done before November so it doesn’t take up time.

Back to present time. Mez and I have a tentative timetable for October (Mez, correct me if I’m wrong on anything!). So we will continue having Monday blogs with general tips for how we plan on getting through November and actually meeting our deadline. Wednesday will be writing prompts, and Friday updates on our own progress and suggestions on your pre-work (is that a word??).

Here are some of our earlier blogs you might find helpful, as well as some others.

The Writer’s Bogeyman: THE S.T.A.R.T….duh duh duh

How do I…

Part II: The Art of Observation~ how to seek & find Inspiration

In The Beginning There Was A Goat Named Blue

NaNoWriMo: Finding the Motivation to Write

#NaNoPrep Week 1: Don’t Panic

Good luck, writers! Don’t forget, the time will fly and November will be here soon. No procrastinating allowed! (Says the girl awake at midnight before a really busy day…:) Night!



Novel in November Pre-Work: Characters

Mez and I have started working through Write Your Novel in a Month by Jeff Gerke. We’ve been working on our characters, filling out bios and putting them through personality tests. Just learning who they are and why we should tell a story about them.

My main character is a girl named Blue. She is seventeen, light blonde hair, pale skin, tiny build, and big, bright blue eyes. She wants to be a cryptozoologist when she grows up. Feisty, loyal, brave, stubborn and can be a little insensitive when she gets riled up.

I also ‘profiled’ her boyfriend-to-be, Diego. His mom named him after the tiger in Ice Age. He is steadier than Blue, already working as a mechanic, a good one. He is also seventeen, tall, brown hair and brown eyes. Logical, empathic, and controlled, he makes a nice counterpoint to the vivacious, impulsive Blue.

How about you? Who is your main character for your Novel in November? Do you have him all planned out, or is he still a mystery to you? Let us know in the comments below!

If you don’t know where to start, I still suggest Write Your Novel in a Month by Jeff Gerke or Book in a Month by Victoria Lynn Schmidt. If you can’t get hold of a book to help you, look up some personality tests online and answer them as if you were your character, then read about that personality type to get a better handle on your protagonist. If you don’t know your character well enough to do the test, you can start with a bio.

  • Gender
  • Age
  • Ethnicity
  • Height, Weight, and Body Type
  • Description
  • Any tattoos, piercings, jewelry
  • Clothes
  • Home Life
  • Occupation
  • Any quirks, gifts, goals,
  • Any anxieties or traumas
  • Also, how they feel about these things. Do they enjoy their home and job? Do they like the way they look?

Don’t forget, unless you plan on never letting anyone read your novel, you need your readers to engage with your main character. Whether it be because she/he is funny, charming, heroic, an underdog, or a bad guy with a good heart, the reader has to care about what happens to them. If we don’t like them, we won’t read about them. Simple as that. And as complicated! Have fun with it.

We will continue updating you on our progress through our novel pre-work. Mez is working on getting the videos we shot edited and uploaded, but her computer was still rebelling against her the last I heard. Wish her luck and I wish all of you luck in your novel pre-work!

Writing Retreat

First of all, if you are reading this somewhere other than our actual blog, I encourage you to check out our new and improved look! We did it at 3:00 in the morning…trust me, that is an interesting time to struggle through blog customization. We’d get one aspect the way we wanted, then change something else and ruin the whole thing. We are still fiddling a bit, but we currently like the look.

On to our writing retreat! I cannot believe the event I waited over six months for has come and gone. We actually did some work, but it is clear to us we actually get more work done when we are apart-imagine that! But it was incredibly fun and the weather was perfect both in London and in Lyme.

Lyme is beautiful. Hilly, but beautiful! My calves were killing me after the second day, but the views while we hiked were worth it. Of course, the first thing we did after the train and bus ride was have tea and do some more editing.


We stayed in a little cabin in a woman named Sally’s backyard. She brought us a marvelous full English breakfast each morning…so full we could never finish it! Then we’d wander down to the Cobb and through Lyme. Little tip for foreign visitors (aka Americans who are used to grabbing fast food at midnight) almost everything shuts down by five with the exception of one or two grocery stores. We would have a late lunch, then have a beggar’s feast around nine or so. Check out our locally grown, ground, and baked bread shaped like a fish!



As I posted earlier, we did in fact finish editing each other’s manuscripts. Basically, both need a lot of work but also have a lot of potential. They have both been moved to the back burner as we focus on Novel in November, but we will continue to work on them. Once November is over, we will set new deadlines for us to strive for. And just so ya’ll know, if I ever meet a deadline, I will be ecstatic with joy.

Back to Lyme. Check out this picture.


See the rainbow? Love rainbows. And the ocean. And clouds. I am in love.

Not the point. My point it, see that little bowl of land under the rainbow? Mez and I hiked all over that bowl! Our goal is to one day hike to the peak of that second hill: the Golden Cap. We got to late a start in the date and I didn’t have the best shoes to hike it (not to mention the afore mentioned calves that are not used to traipsing uphill for miles).

I took these pictures from that hike.

Nice weather, not too hot, not too cold. Beautiful scenery. Chocolate. Ocean and sun. And my writing buddy, of course. Perfect day!

Or was it??


Yes, fellow writers, that is my writing notebook, full of info on my current story, Fey. I put a bottle of water into my purse and obviously didn’t close it right. Soaked my purse and washed away much of my writing. Literally. The first page is still legible, but on several pages, half the ink is washed away. Not. Cool. I’m still a bit horrified.

But beyond that, it was a wonderful Writing Retreat.

Here we have a wall outside of a bookshop. There was also a tiny little shop called The Writing Shop. I don’t have any pictures, but Mez has video of it. It had journals, folders, some quill pens, stamps, and some awesome colored pencils that looked like sticimg_1819
ks. All a bit pricey, but fun to browse through. The cafe next to it had an amazing chai latte and some good tea called Lyme Fog (I think). Then one more shop down is a travel agency with some incredible globes in the window, and the next shop was full of fossils and gems. Basically, if you like window shopping (or are rich, either way), this is the place!

So that is our Writing Retreat in a nutshell. Tomorrow I will update you on our Novel in November pre-work progress. Hopefully Mez will reconcile with her computer and they can together bring us the videos of our fun times. Night everyone!



“Wednesday” Writers’ Cafe: the best novel ever written

Friends, Countrymen, Fellow Writers…

I must beg your pardon on posting your Wednesday Writing prompt so late (so much so that we’re already greeting Thursday  here in the UK!). My feeble excuse is that my dear old laptop is at last showing its age this week. Wouldn’t you know it would kick in during our Annual Writing Retreat? Ah well… builds character, right?

But before it can act up again, here is a prompt that caught my eye whilst skimming the Jeff Gerke guide we’ve recommended to all you Novel in November participants, Write Your Novel in a Month. This one’s brilliant if you’re still searching for that spark of an idea that gives you tummy flutters of excitement & makes your fingers just itch to start typing. But even if you’re not quite ready to take the plunge of a month-long challenge, this exercise will get you dreaming about that perfect novel you hope to write…some day.

Hey, it all starts with a spark! So here it is:

Imagine you are given the key to the Room of Wonders and allowed to retrieve 10 items that you believe belong in the best novel ever written. What items will you collect?

Now go wild! Close your eyes and look around that Room. Then write down the 10 items that caught your mind’s eye & hang on to the list! It might just be the beginnings of your next awesome novel!

Oh yea, & need I mention we would LOVE to hear about your lists in the comments below? You know how nosy we are by now. 😉

Greetings from Lyme!!

Happy Sunday everyone!! Sorry for the lack of updates; Mez’s computer is sick. We have lots of pics and videos to share, but can’t upload them!! So I’m doing this on my phone, so please forgive any typos.


Lyme is incredible. The weather is perfect, sunny and just warm enough to carry a rain jacket instead of wearing it (but can’t leave it; rain appears quickly and enough to soak you in a minute).
Mez and I went over our manuscripts, a tough but necessary process. She needs to smooth out her plot, I need to work on getting into my characters’ heads and adding description…as well as finishing!


Today we are doing some hiking, working on future blogs, and thinking about our Novel in November projects. Yes, it is that time for everyone to start seriously thinking about that. Where has the time gone??

That’s our plan! I hope everyone has a restful and productive Sunday. See ya!

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