Tuesday 19 March 2013

How ChaBooCha Helped Me Grow As a Writer by Kelly McDonald

How ChaBooCha Helped Me Grow As a Writer
by Kelly McDonald

I had told stories all my life…it’s my job as an entertainer! But it was always picture books. Then, while living in Europe, I had an idea for a story. I started to write. Then I saw a competition for the text prize. It gave me a deadline, and I worked hard towards it…and finished my first YA novel! I smiled for days, walked on clouds, I couldn’t believe I had started and finished a story!

The following year, I had a dream. It was a nightmare actually. I woke up in a sweat, but knew that the dream I just had would make a fantastic story. So I wrote that too! Again, I was given the blissful feeling of accomplishment and smiled to myself for days.

Then I joined the 12x12 in 2012 picture book challenge, and through that met Becky. I saw her chapter book challenge. Why not I thought... 10,000 words… I shall give it a try, and see which age group I like to write for best! Cause you don’t know unless you tried, right?

So I madly began to think of themes/plots/storylines, and when March arrived I had an idea. About three chapters in, my characters took over my story and the plot changed. I wrote the HOLLOW, which I am so proud of. I am sure it is the best work I have ever done. I finished the challenge, and then wrote part 2. Then part 3. And have almost finished part 4.

I sent a few chapters in to a competition and received a commendation award for it. Then the organizer approached me (someone I highly respected and whose judgment I completely trusted) and asked if I would like a mentorship. Gasp, cry, fall over and get back up to the computer...yes yes yes yes please!

So my journey continued, and the amount I have learnt is unbelievable. The Hollow went from a 10,000 word story to a 35,000, possibly more, MG novel. I still get lost in the story as I revise and rewrite. The first chapter was rewritten about 5 times before the voice of the main character was right.

I have had so many opportunities come my way, each one making me a better writer, and stepping a little closer to success. It will happen, I just know it. And everyday, I ask the powers that be to please get Mr. Peter Jackson, to turn my story into the next blockbuster movie. I’m aiming for the stars people, and challenges like this, they help us get there, one step at a time, each step making us better at our craft.

Kelly has generously offered a prize for Chapter Book Challenge members. Kelly is an artist and photo-manipulator. She creates beautiful digital backdrops, photos manipulated into beautiful fairy art, book covers and personalized stories. The photos above are some examples of her book cover work. for more examples of Kelly's art, go to her Garden Babies Facebook page and have a look around.

Kelly is offering you all the chance to win a mock/concept cover for your story using photo manipulation or digital artwork. It won't be for commercial use, just for personal use only, but it might help you get an idea of what your cover would/could look like. She's also happy for the winner to supply images to use in this cover. All you have to do to enter in the drawing for it, if you are already a signed-up member of ChaBooCha, is to comment on this post by noon GMT on March 26th.

I think this sounds like something really fun!


  1. Thanks for a great post, Kelly! So very inspiring, and I can't wait to read The Hollow. :) (Love the title, btw.) Thanks also for the chance to win your digital art for my book!

  2. It's hard to know where to comment but wouldn't that be wonderful to see a cover for Sofia and Tall Trees

  3. Great post. I know ChaBooCha has helped me in a similar way. It's been great getting to know you through the challenge too :)

  4. Fantastic post - I love this challenge, so great to be able to focus on one book! Contemplating the 12 x 12 next year, will see what happens!!!

  5. It's exciting to see your progress, and all that has happened with "Hollow" Hopefully someday you will get that call from Peter Jackson! Thanks for the post...you have encouraged me to press on, Kelly!