Brewhaha Book Cafe

For Writers, Readers & Tea-drinkers


Novel in November

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






How do you know when it’s time to enlist a second reader?

Can you believe we’re already halfway through December? I feel as if Novel in November – remember that epic journey we did last month? – is already yonks away in the distant past. Thoughts of Christmas and this busy season have set my dear little novel on a back burner this month, and I must say, I really miss it!

But of course I should be spending regular revising it as it’s our revision month! But boy is it difficult to stick to task when there’s no ticking clock & world-wide community keeping you accountable… am I right? Oh the blessing/curse of deadlines!

If you’re finding yourself in a similar slump – wanting to get that manuscript pressed & polished for the new year but failing to find the drive, then maybe… just maybe it’s time to enlist a Second Reader. Dun dun dun…

Now don’t flip out just yet! I did say maybe. And it might not be that time. For instance, if you know your novel is in bits & pieces that won’t stand a chance of being understood coherently, then work out the big issues before handing it over. OR, as Bri recommended in her revision post last week, if you feel you’re just too fragile at this particular moment to weather criticism & the inevitable of others not loving your book as much as you’d hoped, then maybe it’s not the time. Yet. 

But let me encourage you to dare to share. Here’s when it might just be a good idea:
  • Your story is more or less in place chronologically, but you’ve lost objectivity & need a 2nd pair of eyes to tell you if it all makes sense? It’s time to share! Amazingly, thanks to pre-planning, I don’t need to do any huge plot revision… I don’t think. I just need to know that what made sense in my head actually comes across on the page to the reader.
  • Your story has a target readership that’s not you? Test it out! My own novel is aimed at 9-12 year olds (mostly girls). I happen to be blessed with five nieces & several friends around that age bracket who are excellent readers. So I’m sending off a copy to them all on 16 December. See what I’ve done there? I’ve got a deadline to get my engine revving up again! I mean, who wants to break a promise to a bunch of eager 9-12 year old girl??!!
  • Your story contains specialist topics or lingo? Get in an expert! The main character of my story is an equestrian. I am not. Sure, I did a bit of research to get the basic terminology down. I even visited the Royal Horse Guard at St James’ Palace so I could experience period stable culture. But I’m still no expert. I want the horse language in my novel to be believable to my equestrian readers but still accessible to those less versed. So, I’ve asked my literary equestrian friend to be a second reader! Bingo! Don’t have a friend who’s an expert? Consider emailing a teaching assistant or grad student at a local college, for instance. They like showing off what they know;-)

It can be truly earth shattering to hand out something so personal and so precarious as a DRAFT of your novel. But overcoming the fear of criticism is essential to becoming a writer. We write for our own sakes, sure. But story is a craft meant to be shared with others.

So dare to share! Here a couple more tips to help you take the plunge:
  • Choose your second readers carefully! Don’t only give your novel to your mum or your spouse (though by all means share with them if they can be objective!). But preferably go with folks who know the genre you’re writing, or who understand the craft of writing themselves. They will have a critical eye, but hopefully a gentle approach as well!
  • Ask specific questions. I recommend putting together a review questionnaire for your second readers. Especially if they are young readers, ie. my nieces & young friends. They may have great feedback, yet if you only ask them “So, how did you like the book?” They’ll likely not know where to begin and just tell you, “Yea, it was good.” Not so helpful. So ask specifics! What did you like about this character? How would you describe the villain? Were you surprised when you discovered who the murderer was? … You get the drift.
  • Brace yourself, and consider comments carefully. Novels are subjective pieces of art. They won’t resonate with every reader equally, but that doesn’t comment on their objective value (or yours as the writer!). Take every comment into consideration, but don’t be too hasty to make changes. You as the author must still love what you’ve written at the end of the day. And if you love it, chances are, there’s a readership out there who will really love it too.


So how’s editing going for you? Have you dared to share? Share your experience with us & the Brewhaha community in the comments below!

Happy Editing!!!

Novel in November 2016 now open for registration!

Dear writers & aspiring ones,

For today’s Wednesday Writers’ Cafe, we are at last popping the cork on the long-awaited bottle of joy that is Novel in November. As of today, registration is OPEN for this year’s event (only just over 1 month away now!). Bri & I want to gently but exuberantly implore you to sign up right away. Success in finishing 50,000 words in a month will take commitment and a fair bit of pre-planning, so we recommend giving yourself a head-start to plan, muse, & get yourself mentally into gear. (Need help knowing where to start? Check out Bri’s top tips for setting yourself up for success before November here!)

So how do I register, you ask?

Registering for the event is a great way of nailing your colours to the mast; of announicng to yourself & the world (ie. us) I AM gonna write that novel, by golly, and ain’t nothin’ gonna stop me! Ready? Just head over to our Novel in November page or use this link to get on our special N in N mailing list. Fear not! We won’t overburden you with long-winded, newsy emails because, after all, we expect you’ll be busy WRITING in November. But here’s what you can expect from us:

  • Throughout Oct., Wednesday Writers’ Cafe will offer weekly writing exercises to get the creative juices flowing & help you think about all the aspects of your story.
  • Throughout Nov., the blog will become a forum for Novel in November – a place where we share our progress (and our frustrations) & invite you to do the same.
  • For email subscribers only: you’ll receive a bi-weekly “care package” in your inbox filled with select tips, resources and bits of inspiration to help you meet your goal.

If you’re thinking “Woe is me! How can I choose between Novel in November & Camp NaNoWriMo?” we say, do both! You can’t have too many resources… as long as those resources don’t cheekily become the means of procrastinating from actually writing…

Now without further ado, hop on over to registration, mark your diaries (or calendars, if you’re in the US) and drink a long drought of confidence. You CAN write a novel this November. Dreams do come true with a heap of hard work and friends to cheer you on.

So consider Bri & me your very own writing fairy godmothers, here to set you up with a coach and team of fast horses that will whisk you off to novel writing success before the clock strikes 12 on 30 November! Bon Voyage!


Wednesday Writers’ Cafe: the art of ‘No’

You may have read Bri’s tips for success in Novel in November earlier this week. They mostly involve carving out time, ’cause let’s face it: Time is one ingredient every writer requires. No novel has ever been written without it. But if you’re like me, Time is something of a slippery friend. Next to impossible to pin down.

Hence Bri’s top tips for carving out time in November!

But I got to thinking about this problem, universal to all writers, of making time. I think it’s where rubber hits the road for us — it means sacrificing other opportunities. It means saying ‘No’ to people and things that inhibit our commitment to our craft. And it’s particularly hard to say ‘No’ when writing isn’t your full-time, income-earning job (yet!). Few people understand that an inspiring writer IS WORKING even if he/she hasn’t landed a publishing deal just yet. Many such misinformed folk will expect you to drop your ‘hobby’ at any and every request or invitation.

This is where the art of ‘NO’ becomes a vital weapon. It is possible to be polite and forceful, but it takes practice! And most of all, it takes confidence in the work you’re doing – belief that it’s worth the sacrifices you’re making.

So I thought today, as we ready for Novel in November, I’d open up the floor to your thoughts and experiences in this challenging area.

What sacrifices have you made for the sake of your dream of being a writer? How have managed other people’s expectations, & learned to say ‘no’ when your writing time is under threat?

We’d love to hear about your struggles and your victories in making time. Share in the comments below – let’s get talking, & as always, KEEP WRITING! 🙂

Friday Countdown

It’s Mez here. Yes, that’s right. Separated across the Atlantic though Bri & I be, I’m here counting down in England as well. And I must say, this countdown has been an excellent exercise in meeting deadlines (one of the few ‘downsides’ of becoming a published author…so I’m told). Unfortunately, I must confess that I too am REALLY stretched to make this deadline… ie. I may have to pull some all-nighters ‘ere long. I haven’t done that since University! Things could get a little ugly…

But before I work myself into a right tizz, let’s stay calm and remember… there is yet time! To be precise, until our manuscript swap, we still have exactly: drum roll….

19 days!

On a much more celebratory note, Bri will be making her way here to my wet English turf for our annual writing retreat (stay tuned for the big location reveal coming up next week!) in a mere:

32 days!!

And last, but by no means least, I hope a great many of you out there have marked your diaries to join us for the story-spinning adventure that awaits in Novel in November. Can you believe it? It’s now only:

65 DAYS!!!

So much to look forward to! And we look forward to sharing it with you, our dear posse of readers, writers & tea drinkers… oh yes, there shall be abundant consumption of tea, as is the rule when Bri & I get together.

So, dear friends, prepare to write, drink & be merry!



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