Brewhaha Book Cafe

For Writers, Readers & Tea-drinkers


November 2016

Finish Lines and Heads-Ups

Well it’s the 28th of November (nearly the 29th where I sit in London!!!). For those of you, our comrades in Novel in November, still pressing on towards the finish line, I say


And for those super-heroes among you who have ALREADY FINISHED your 50,ooo… I feel no envy, only respect for you. If I were wearing a hat, I’d take it off to you right now. You inspire us all with the reminder that the impossible can be done!

But for all of us, this is not the end!

Novel in November or NaNoWriMo is just the launching phase of your journey (to borrow NaNo’s space theme for the year). And isn’t a heck of a launch! You’re part of a world-wide writing community who shares your hopes and struggles. The buzz and camaraderie of thousands of other writers out there eggs you onward…

And then you wake up on December 1st. You scratch your head, look at the long hours of the day stretching vacant out in front of you, and you ask, “Now what?”

Well first things first, you’re gonna celebrate, right? In fact, if you’ve not yet pinned down a brilliant reward for your job-well-done, then think about it (hey, there’s always that free minute to day-dream in the loo…I’m just sayin’).

And then, once the party has piped down, it’s time to think about your baby… that is, the novel you’ve just brought into existence. The thing is born. Now it needs nurturing, aka. REVISING!

Did that word make you want to fling the computer from your hands and run screaming into the night? That’s the effect it seems to have on many of us creative sorts. We enjoy creating. What we do not enjoy is critiquing, assessing, re-jigging, etc.. And the main problem we have is this BIG, frightening question of “Where do I start?”

That brings me to the Heads-up part of this post…

The revision phase of your novel need not be daunted, and it need not be lonely. We will be spending the month of December talking about how to revise – where to begin, and the step-by-step process thereafter. Because after all, we’ll be in the boat with you, and I can promise you, our manuscripts are going to need some major revision!

So think of it as something to look forward to. You’ve devoted so much to this novel. It deserves to be nurtured into the best story it can be! And then who knows, maybe it’ll be ready to meet the world!

So keep up that good work, friends…We’ll see you in December!


p.s. – when you’ve got a minute, check out this brilliant, totally Brewhaha-friendly article on The Best Kinds of Tea for Writers!


Novel in November Update: Day 26

Okay, I was supposed to update on day 25, but I forgot…please forgive me!

My word count is just sad. Really sad. 24,032. I haven’t even hit halfway yet, and there’s only six days! I guess I’ll just continue into December. Thanksgiving with family was fun, but definitely didn’t help the count! My story has become more like a tangle of yarn than a straight line… I think I might just start writing scenes even if they aren’t connected to each other, because I am at a bit of a loss. Oh well!

A yarn’s rendition of the current state of my story


Mez is going much better: 33,147. I can’t wait to read it!! Keep going, Mez!

So that’s our update. I hope those of you out there participating are going better than we are! The end is in sight, so write on!

Operation Bunny (by Sally Gardner)

When Emily Vole’s adopted mother finally has triplets of her own, Emily’s life goes from bad – being an orphan adopted by two witless, disinterested parents – to worse – being demoted from unloved adopted child to unpaid servant (aka. slave!). Thankfully, Emily is rescued from complete misery by eccentric neighbours, Miss String and her cat Fidget who is human-sized and speaks English with a distinct twinge of cheek. Miss String and Fidget educate Emily in all subjects, and most important in the history of Faerie.

Emily is happy for the first time until a bizarre set of keys select her for their new Keeper, tragedy strikes and a vengeful witch turns up on the hunt for the magic keys. Now Emily is in over her head and must rely on her friends in the World of Faerie if she is save the faeries from destruction at the hands of Harpella the witch who ruthlessly turns anyone in her way into a pink or purple bunny!

This adventure is only the first for Emily Vole and her faerie detective team, Wings & Co.. Sally Gardner is a master of writing folklore with a modern twists. Operation Bunny is full of whimsy and bizarre characters, and rings of Roald Dahl as a fantastical tale with a good deal of heart.

Genre: Middle Grade fantasy/ detective

Tea: Rose hip

Rough Drafts Are Rough!

Okay, let’s face it. First drafts, especially rushed, Novel-in-November-ones, are bad. Even if you are an extreme planner, rough drafts are just that, rough.


Very. Rough.

So far, in my rough draft,

  • I created a character I no longer need and therefore needs to be edited out
  • None of my descriptions match up (I’m pretty sure a cotton field magically becomes a forest)
  • I can’t seem to get my pacing down
  • A character I need the reader to care for has had no ‘screen’ time
  • My main character keeps acting out of character (not shy girl acting shy)
  • I can’t figure out if my characters are friends before the novel starts or were just classmates
  • Lots and lots and lots of other stuff.

Basically, it’s awful. Maybe it will be better when I reread it, but I don’t think so!

Maybe you’re like me and you are cringing as you write and the sidebar of your document is littered with comments and questions. The characters are weird, the plot is a maze, there are things missing, there are too many things, on and on.

But that’s the beauty of rough drafts. The great thing about writing. It can all be fixed. It might be hard and time consuming and mentally draining, but you can fix it. No matter how bad the rough draft is, the next draft will be better. And the next will be better still.


Isn’t that awesome?

I love knowing what I am currently writing can be fixed. It really takes the pressure off. If you can’t find just the right word, or whether the car should be blue or red, or if your character is realistic, you can just make a note and move in. It’ll wait for you to get back to it! It doesn’t have to be perfect the first time

I repeat: The first draft does not have to be perfect.

So as you write this November, don’t get discouraged if you’re rough draft is so messy it’s unrecognizable as a coherent story. It can be fixed. What can’t be fixed are blank pages. So keep writing!

Good writing and happy Thanksgiving, fellow writers!

Novel in November Update: Day 18


Confession time: I’m still behind. After a disappointing writing day which ended up being an everything-else day, I’m clocking in at only 21,116.

My weekend is gone before it begins, and then next week is the Thanksgiving rush, BUT I’m still holding out hope. With a double dose of discipline and a bit of strategy, I might just be able to pull this thing out!

Stay tuned…


this is totally how i feel – bri


Almost twinsies! I’m at 21,437, below what it should be, but I am managing not to let the gap widen too terribly much. I just finished writing, and it was rough. I kept putting in my word count to the NaNoWriMo site, using it to see how many words I’ve written for the day.

First time I put it in?


Okay, keep going. Almost there.


So close. Can’t I stop? Then I remember I have to admit my word count to all of you. Push on?

Finish at 1,776 for the day.

So I thank all of you for being there and forcing me to keep writing. Hopefully the unseen but fully felt peer pressure of admitting my word count to the world (at least the part of the world that reads this) will get me moving faster to that 50k goal.

13 Days Left!!


Let’s all make them count! It will be hard, but I believe in all of us! Just keep writing, no matter if you think it is rubbish, no matter how far behind you fall, no matter how many ways you try to convince yourself to give up. DON’T LISTEN TO YOURSELF!

Unless your self is telling you to write. Then listen.

Enough of that craziness. Depending on when you read this, either good night or happy writing!

Book Review: Starflight

By Melissa Landers

Solara Brooks needs a ride on the last spaceship to the outer planets, but with no money, her only hope is for someone to take her on as an indentured servant for the trip. The last person she expected to hire her was her rich, spoiled, bully of a classmate, Doran Spaulding. Desperate, she accepts, knowStarflight.jpging he was going to make her life miserable. But when he tries to ditch her halfway through the trip, Solara takes matters into her own hands, stealing his credit and convincing the crew of the Banshee, their new ride, that Doran is the servant.

Forced into close confines, Solara and Doran slowly become friends with each other and with the eccentric crew of the Banshee. When Doran is framed for conspiracy, suddenly both he and Solara find themselves in the same spot: broke and on the run. Trusting only each other and dependent on the Banshee crew, Solara and Doran fight to survive, whether it’s pirates or police or possibly even a traitor among the crew.

Starflight is a fantastic sci-fi romance, a mix of Firefly and Academy 7. Be warned however, while the ending is great and it is a standalone book, there is the possibility of a sequel.

Genre:Young Adult, Science Fiction

Recommended Tea: Spice Chai

Novel in November tip – Stimulus & Response

Here we are, Novelteers. For better or for worse, we’ve reached the midpoint of our climb to the top of 50,000 words! Congrats for making it this far!

But let’s get real. This is the phase of the journey when those middle-section blues are known to kick in. So here’s a rather simple little tip to help you strike back & take back control (with baby steps), should you become infected…

Don’t forget the law of Stimulus & Response! 

Sound a bit too much like stating the obvious? Thinking, “Hello, Mez! I’m a fiction writer. I kinda get that stuff has to happen in response to other stuff in my story. That’s why I spent all those nail-biting hours working out my character’s background and motivation!”

I hear you. But first, let me clarify that by Stimulus & Response, I mean something different to background & motivation. Background gives us context while motivation provides the goal your character is driving at. But Stimulus & Response is more immediate, more nitty gritty that those broad (but necessary) ingredients. And it might just stop your tires spinning in the mud.

Here’s how it works:

First of all, it’s externalWe’re not talking about internal monologues or random whims. Stimuli need to be concrete & external for the response to be believable.

So, within a given scene, your character interacts with another character (or perhaps a setting). Wherever you’ve gotten up to in your story (*Don’t go back to correct – we’re moving forward, people!), pick up the action there, and let it play out simply on the logic of stimulus & response.

What will your character’s response be to A’s suggestion.On stage. Right now.

How will your character react to a sudden clapping thunderstorm. On stage. Right now. Think ping pong!


You are the theatre director here. Start the scene & let that ball ping-pong. It may sound painfully obvious, but you’d be surprised just how easy & how common it is for us writers to pass over the nitty gritty Stimulus & Response action because we are so caught up with the Big Picture plot. 

So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed with the vast, complicated mess that is the rest of your story, narrowing your attention to Stimulus & Response will help you take the next small step to moving forward. Also, it’ll bring your characters to life if they’re getting just a little blasé.

This principle applies to story telling on page or on stage. As I once heard the legend Alan Rickman tell an interviewer when asked his secret to acting,

“I watch what the other actor is doing. Then I respond.”

The beauty is in the simplicity. Now go & do likewise!

#NaNoWriMo Stage 2 + GIFs

Novel in November-Day 11


Day 11 did you say? Alright, very funny. Who stole the other days in November? I swear it was October two days ago!

The calendars beg to differ, and yet I’m not despairing! My word count today is 10,789. Sure, well below the target, but for once I’m refusing to kick myself. This November has been about learning to roll with unexpected punches, and I’ve had a couple (namely some seriously yucky flu bug!). The usual All-or-Nothing mentality in me would tell me to give up now. After all, I’ll probably hit more glitches in the days remaining. If I can’t catch up, why bother trying?


I’m pressing on, setting daily goals and celebrating little victories. And you know what? With that attitude, I’ve already decreased by catch up rate by half! So who knows, I may make it by 30 November yet. But even if I don’t, I will be much closer to finishing my book then I would be if I just gave up now.

So all you All-or-Nothing folks out there, take it from me: One of the greatest victories you can take home from this Novel in November is to become a Do-your-Bester… oh you know what I mean!



I also cannot believe the date! Do you realize we are over a third done?!

My word count is almost the same as Mez’s: 10,895. Well below the 18k it is supposed to be, but my goal is just to not fall any more behind. If I finish November with 40k words, it still be a huge improvement than over a blank page.

That said, I really really want to have 50k by the end!

And, yay, my story is moving again! I feel as if it’s been dragging its feet; NOTHING IS HAPPENING! Hopefully that is just in my head. Still, I’m 10k words in and not even a tenth of the way through all that’s supposed to happen. We’ll see how it goes!

So if you are behind, join the club! And keep writing. Don’t give up!

And if you are on target, good for you!

Please share your secret.


Begging you.

Well, I suppose since I am a procrastinator, any secret probably wouldn’t help me. This is hard, but a lot of fun. I’ve never seen my word count go up so fast. And I’m not even on target!

Anyway, 19 days left! Good luck everyone and keep up the good work!


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