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Brewhaha Book Cafe

For Writers, Readers & Tea-drinkers

Novel in November Update: Day 15!

Greetings, Friends!

I don’t know about where you are, but here in West Berkshire, it is most definitely mid-November! The sky is Charlie Brown grey (if you’re a Peanuts aficionado, you know what I mean), my garden grass has disappeared beneath a blanket of brown leaves, and it’s proper chai-tea-sipping cold out!

But what’s more, we are HALFWAY through National Novel Writing Month!!

Are you finding your groove? Feeling stressed? We’re here to celebrate with you and to commiserate with your stress, so leave a comment & exult or vent all you like. Either way, I promise you, you’re not alone.

And that brings me to business: My own NaNoWriMo update (drum roll…..)

Learning curves + new publishing tools

In case you’re not up-to-speed with these updates, I (Mez) decided to use this November not to write a brand new manuscript, but to launch the novel I wrote last year for N in N.

It’s been a bumpy road with many a sharp learning curve, but…

I’m loving it!

Here’s where I’ve got up to so far this month:

  1. Completed developmental edit to smooth out story glitches
  2. Have been (& still am) working with a cover designer, & I’m SO excited about his concept drawings. One this is certain, this is going to be a beautiful book!
  3. Am just finishing up formatting the ebook & print versions to send them off to my Proofreader (last polish!!)
  4. I’ve gathered an awesome launch team & polled them on potential title options. The winner? Katie Watson and the Painter’s Plot. 

What I still need to do:

  1. Create an audiobook version (any tips? Please share below!!)
  2. ORDER print copies from IngramSpark
  3. Market, market & market some more!

**I’m always on the lookout for willing & able reviewers. Do you review Middle-Grade books? Please get in touch– I’d love to send you a copy!

Like I said, indie publishing is a new world for me, and I’m learning tons at a crash-course pace as I race to Launch Day (10 December). I couldn’t have got this far without a few tricks of the trade, so of course I’m going to let you in on these little secrets…

Trade secrets/ tools that have been game-changers for publishing your book:

Scrivener is my new best friend — how did I ever write without it?! If you’ve not tried it out, you can trial the software for FREE. But honestly, it’s the best $40 I’ve spent this year!

Reedsy.com is an awesome online publishing market where you can link up with vetted professionals (these people work for the big time publishing houses!) & hire them for your book — editors, cover designers, formatters, you name it!

Vellum is a book formatting software, and my goodness, it’s amazing! Formatting has been the one thing I’ve most dreaded. I’m not super techy, and I’ve heard this can take even experienced authors days upon days. But Vellum does all the hard work for you! It’s actually fun to use! Not exactly cheap, but definitely a good investment if you plan on publishing in ebook or print!

So there you have it! My November journey has been an exciting one. Watch this space — I’ll be sharing links to get your FREE ebook copy of my novel very very soon!

*And next week, more from Bri! I can’t wait to read her TWO Novels. I know she’s behind in one, & a lot behind in the other, but still, she’s written a TON of words which are sure to be brilliant!

Happy writing (or publishing!) this week!

Mez

Novel in November Update

It’s November 8th! How are all of you doing on your Novel in November going? On schedule? Is your book a mess or making it’s way in a logical way? Hopefully you aren’t looking at a blank page, but even if you are, don’t give up! Still 22 days left and you can get a lot down in that time. Let us know how you’re doing in the comments!

As for me, I am miraculously on schedule, meeting my personal goal of 2000 words for each of my stories a day. I may have had to have a bit of a marathon writing session yesterday to catch up, but I’m there. That’s 14,000 words each, totaling 28,000 words in 7 days.

What on earth do I usually do with my time??

Seriously, though, I’ve found if things are going well and I really focus, I can write about 3000 words in 90 minutes. But that’s only when things come easily! So it hasn’t been terribly hard to meet my goals.

The hard part is actually switching from story to story. I have two very different character and two very different tones in the story. Cassie is confident, couldn’t care less that the town has ostracized her, and makes fast friends with Billie. On the other hand, I’m channeling every bit of my social anxiety into Anni, poor girl. She’s terrified of strangers and new situations and she’s surrounded by both.

I’ve found what helps the most to make sure I’m writing the right character and tone with the right story is background music. For Cassie, it’s Evanescence while Anni gets Bethany Dillon. Click on the names for youtube vidoes of their music! They go very well with the tones of the stories.

So hopefully I can keep up with the schedule! Stay tuned for Mez’s update next Wednesday and good luck to everyone writing away this month.

Novel in November – Day 1!

I had a crisis yesterday (31 October). I’m probably not the only one — maybe some of you went into melt-down mode when faced with the knowledge that NaNo was but one day away!
But my crisis wasn’t caused by dread or fear of NaNoWriMo. In fact, I’ve been almost like a kid waiting for Christmas these past months, I’ve so been looking forward to spinning a fresh yarn alongside tens of thousands of my fellow story-spinners!
Then my plans went a little topsy-turvy … for a good cause! I have the opportunity to publish last year’s NaNo novel in December. But to make it happen, I have at last admitted to my more ambitious slightly insane self who forgets about the need to sleep, I will need to WORK HARD all November, editing, finalising cover design choice, formatting and marketing. So while I shed a tear for my lost NaNo novel, I do nevertheless have a writing goal this month, AND it’s an exciting one. So — to make it official– for my Novel in November, I will be launching my next novel! Lots more juicy details about my journey to publication to come!

Book Review: The Forgetting by Sharon Cameron

In Nadia’s world, there is the Forgetting every twelve years. Everyone’s memory in the entire city is wiped out. The only way anyone knows who they are, who they love, and what’s going on is from reading the books tied to their wrists and waists. Everyone has one and it is their lifeline.

Only Nadia is the exception. She remembers her life before the last forgetting and she remembers the horror of the weeks leading up to it. The next Forgetting is approaching and already the city is breaking down. Because if everyone is going to forget, there are no consequences. And if you don’t like who you are, you just have to write a new book.

Nadia is also the only one who slips over the city walls and explore the forest surrounding it.  The city has secrets, and no one notices quiet Nadia. Or do they? One day, as she climbs back over the wall, she is seen by Gray, the glassblower’s son. Now she reluctantly has a partner in crime, just as she begins to discover the secret to the Forgetting and the true evil of the city.

This book was AMAZING! I loved Nadia. She was curious, rebellious without being obvious about it, smart, and had to be reminded to talk. And Gray was a great counterpart and romantic partner for her. He was charismatic, charming, and head over heels for her. Which utterly confused her. So great romance without it being the main point of the book. The rest of the characters were also very realistic and interesting, from her family to Gray’s family to the leaders of the city.

The plot was also engaging and had plenty of twists and turns to keep me guessing. I think the author, Sharon Cameron, really thought through all the ramifications of a whole city that forgets. About what happens to people with no books, about how the truth can be manipulated, and about what a terrible power remembering when everyone else forgets can be. It’s fascinating how people have adapted to what is to them a natural part of life. And everything gets explained with very good explanations.

Basically, read this book if you like awesome characters, a fascinating story, and a good romance. Seriously, read it.

Recommended Tea: Chocolate Pu-erh

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Science Fiction, Romance

 

 

Announcing Novel in November 2017!

It’s that time. Can you believe it?

Camp NaNoWriMo is next month!

Which means that right now, all across the globe, tens of thousands of aspiring & already successful authors are getting in gear to write 50,000 word draft of their novels in the 30 days of November!

Bri & I absolutely Love this time of year. Like so many of you out there, we have become Camp NaNo junkies & true believers in the magic that happens when you have add a strict deadline & a sense of camaraderie to writing your novel. In fact, we love it SO much, we started our own spinoff called Novel in November last year.

This year, for Novel in November, our aim is to help you not only win at Camp NaNo (winning, by the way, simply means completing the challenge, not competing against other writers) but to wind up with 50,000 words you can be proud of… maybe even 50,000 words that you can brush up & send off to agents, publishers, or publish yourself in December!

But to do that, you’re going to need to do some preparation over the next 20 days…

Now is the time to GET READY!

To help you get yourself geared up & ready for success, we’ve put together a list of some of the best NaNo advice out there — from writers we admire & some from our own experience. Don’t get overwhelmed! It’s all about the baby steps. Aim to follow these, one step at a time, over the next week.

  1. Get intentional! Bri’s article Where Do You Start? will help you literally set yourself, your schedule & your space up for success.

2. Capture your idea & LOVE IT! Here are some exercises to help you with that.

3. Outline your story’s plot. Trust us on this. If you want to save yourself grief during NaNo and produce a coherent story you won’t spend months editing, a little planning goes a long way.

Not sure how to structure a story? Here are some great resources:

Joanna Penn at The Creative Penn shares 7 tips for writing your novel, including how to use classic story structure. She also explains the Snowflake Method of building your story’s structure scene-by-scene. And so many more goodies besides!

Nick Stephenson of Your First 10K Readers is co-hosting a webinar on story structure this Saturday. I highly recommend signing up to his email list for more details!

If it’s books you’re looking for, here are the two we recommend & why.

Finally, if you’d like to join us on this journey, you can sign up for Novel in November & get emails with our top tips & updates!

Happy Prepping, everybody!

Mez & Bri

 

 

 

 

 

Book Review: Dreamwood by Heather Mackey

Lucy Darrington loves helping her father in his work as a ghost clearer, traveling across America investigating supernatural phenomenon—and then he suddenly leaves her alone at Miss Bentley’s School for Young Ladies. There she is forced to stay while he travels to Saarthe, a logging town where the trees are dying from a mysterious blight. Stifled by the strict rules of the school and feeling a bit betrayed by her beloved father, Lucy takes matters into her own hands and runs away, determined to meet her father in Saarthe But when she arrives, she learns her father is missing after traveling to the Devil’s Thumb in search of Dreamwood, a potential cure for the blight. And no one comes back from the Devil’s Thumb.

Confident her father is alive and she can reach him, Lucy sets out for the Devil’s Thumb with the frustrating Pete Knightley, whose family stands to lose everything because of the blight. And all that stands in their way are sea serpents, the Lupine people, starvation, and a forest that causes horrific nightmares. As they travel, Lucy’s confidence begins to fade. Even if she survives the Devils Thumb and finds the Dreamwood, will she find her father?

Despite my less than stellar review (this book is incredibly full of plot, hard to pick what needs to be in the summary), this book was pretty good. It took me a while to get into it, simply because Lucy annoyed me with her overconfidence, bordering on snobbery at some points. She acts uppity even while she is (and I am) disgusted with herself for acting that way. Fortunately, this is actually a main point of the book, Lucy learning she doesn’t know everything. It just takes her a very long time to learn it, and it frustrated me. A lot.

The plot is fast paced and full of fantastical creatures and magic. While it starts out light-hearted, the book turns very dark by the end (think the beginning of the Harry Potter series compared to the end of the series). However, I think the second half is much better than the first. Overall, a good book if you can get past Lucy’s annoying personality. This is one of the very few times I have found the plot of a book to make up for an annoying character.

Genre: Middle Grade, Fantasy

Tea: Soothing Caramel Bedtime Tea

Summer Reading

Hi guys! Long time no blog! So sorry 😦 Apparently when Mez and I are in the same country, we get nothing done online. But we did read over each other’s manuscripts, and that was fun!

Can you believe summer is ending this Friday? At least here in the Northern Hemisphere. We had some cool temps two weeks ago, but we are back into the summer heat. I love the heat, but I’m a ready for fall with its cooler weather (the better to drink tea with!), the changing of the leaves, and of course, the holidays.

But before all of that, I wanted to share my summer reading. My awesome grandparents took all of us (as in their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, 40 in total) on a cruise. It was a ton of fun, but me being me, I had to escape into a book from all the people. I read 7 books over the 5 day cruise. Best vacation!

I’ll review all the books in separate blog posts, but for now, here they are!

If you are looking for a new book to read, I highly recommend any of these (ok, I don’t highly recommend Juliet Immortal. It was interesting, but I didn’t really like it). Except for Dreamwood, which is Middle Grade, they are all Young Adult and range from a science fiction to fantasy to a very strange psychological ghost story.  Stay tuned for a summary and review of each, and let me know what you read over the summer!

What’s the deal with Wattpad?

I’m writing with a pressing question for all you readers, writers & bloggers out there:

What do you think of Wattpad?

If you haven’t got a clue what Wattpad is to begin with, it is (as I understand it) a social network aimed solely at sharing stories. So virtually, anyone can write anything & gain a following on the merit of their writing. For writers, this sort of networking has an edge on platforms like Twitter  & Facebook because, rather than trying to gain readers with 140 characters or fewer, you can actually connect with readers who have read your work & are hungry for more! Sounds pretty catchy, no?

As I venture into the mirky waters of online platforms, I know this one thing: my readers are out there & I want to find them, connect with them, & offer them the best stories I can magic up. I’m hoping Wattpad will prove a good avenue for doing just that (although its largest audience demographic is 13-18, which is a bit beyond my gamut. Then again, I’m nearly 30 & still love a good Middle Grade adventure, so you never know!). If you’re a teen fiction writer (hint hint, Bri), I’d think Wattpad would be a no-brainer for connecting with your audience.

So there are a few musings from me. I’m in experimental mode with Wattpad at the moment, publishing chapters of my historical fiction murder mystery (with a twist of magic), Manor of Mystery serially. If you’re a Wattpad veteran, or would fancy joining me on this venture, you can find the book (& my Wattpad profile) here: https://www.wattpad.com/user/mezba4

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Now over to you! Any experience with Wattpad, either as a reader or writer (aspiring author)? As the newbie here, I’m all ears for tips & advice for how best to connect with readers, so do please bring it on!

Yours gratefully,

Mez

Dear Brewhaha Book Cafe Subscribers,

Mez here, after a long, silent summer. I do hope the summer months have been filled with all manner of Story reading & writing delights… not to mention tea (because it’s never too hot for a cuppa, I say!).

A little summer update from us: I made the voyage from England to sunny Georgia for a five week visit, which meant that Bri & I actually had the chance to catch up face to face, drink lots of tea together, review each others’ latest manuscripts (in HARD COPY!), and talk about the future of this blog.

And while we’re on that subject, we do apologise for leaving you in a lurch for so many weeks without hide nor hair of us. BUT, cross our hearts, we didn’t forget you. In fact, we have some exciting news to share about some changes on the horizon…

As lots you know, Bri & I are both working independently on our professional writing careers, & things have been coming along to the point that we feel it’s time we both host our own author pages (as Bri’s audience is mostly YA enthusiasts while mine is more Middle Grade).

What does that mean for Brewhaha? The good news: the cafe is not going anywhere! We will still be bringing you the best of our YA & Middle Grade book adventures, + news updates on our own work, + links to my new writing course (coming soon!) & our new author pages!

So thanks for sticking it out with us over the summer months. We’ve missed you, & we’re excited about getting back to sharing the wonderful world of Story with YOU!

We’d love to hear about your summer — any  book recommendations for us? Bring them on!

Yours truly,

Mez

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