Wednesday 30 September 2015

Last Day for ChaBooCha Lite Writing #ChaBooChaLite

Today is the last day for the challenge. How has everyone done?

For those of you who succeeded in writing their stories, well done! It's a wonderful accomplishment! Now you need to get down to the oh-so-important editing and revising part of creating your book.

For those of you who used this Lite challenge to edit or finish your previous book, again, well done! I hope to see your book on Amazon or in book stores someday soon!

For those of you who didn't complete your book, I'm still going to tell you, "Well done." You planned your book, and/or wrote some of it, That's more than you had before the month started, right?

The thing about these challenges, and the main purpose of them, is to get you to sit down and spend time on your story. It's important that you get your story out into the world, because someone somewhere is going to love it.

I hope you enjoyed this "light" version of the challenge and managed to spend some time on your book this month.

So, tell me in the comments how you did this month.

Everyone signed up for this challenge will be entered into a drawing for a $5 (USD) Amazon gift card. All the drawings will be done tomorrow, so check back late tomorrow and see if you won anything this month.


Also Friday, we will be posting the possible covers to choose from for Teapot Tales: Volume 3, so please come back and vote on your favourite. If you would like to submit a cover for the anthology, please send it by 9:00am tomorrow morning (GMT).

We are still accepting story submissions and art submissions for the anthology through this weekend.

Sunday 27 September 2015

Perfection Isn't Necessary: Why Your Story Needs to Be Published #ChaBooChaLite

My daughter's book: Dark Unicorn
I have a confession to make. I have written over six full length novels, but only the first drafts. I have written over 36 picture books, completing the revisions and editing on six of them already, but have never sent any of them out to publishers. I have written three full first drafts of chapter books, but not completed the editing on them (and I'm writing another one now).

Why am I continuing to write without continuing to edit and revise? Why am I not sending out anything to publishers or self-publishing my novels? What is holding me back?

Perfection is what holds me back, or, more accurately, the desire to attain perfection. I am so worried about my stories not being good enough that I play it safe. If I never put my stories out there, no one can ever tell me how badly written they think they are, right? It's a fear that keeps me from finishing them; it keeps me from ever putting my work out there for the world to read and judge.

I admit that I do have short stories out in several anthologies, some published by my own indie publishing company and some by others. But I think what makes it easier is that I know that whether or not someone likes a story is, in part, subjective. And in an anthology, there are a lot of stories written not just by me but by others as well. A reader will like some stories more than others and that's okay. That's normal. So I feel like I'm achieving something with my writing without having to fully put myself out there.

Why am I confessing this now? Because I think, if some of you are finding yourselves doing the same thing, then maybe finding out you are not the only ones might help. Also, I've recently given myself a kick up the pants to FINISH my editing and revising and to get some of my work published - on its own.

The kick up the pants that I needed has to do with the book I published for my nine year old daughter (she's ten now). It's called "Dark Unicorn," and, although it is a sweet story, for those of us who are used to looking at books critically, it is easy to tell that the story was written by a child. But the story is written for children, not for editors or parents or even other writers. And I published her book for her because I wanted her to have confidence in her writing, and I knew it was written well enough, with enough of a story, that children would enjoy it.

And you know what? They do.

Here's a recent post I made to my Facebook profile:

"There's a sweet little girl at Cameron's school who always wants to hold my hand when we're walking to the other children's school. Her grandma picks her up from school.
A couple of days ago, I gave her a copy of Isabella's book "Dark Unicorn." Her first words when she saw it were, "I LOVE unicorns!"
Today, I ran into her and her grandma again. She immediately said, "I don't know where my book is!" Her grandma said, "Yes, you do. It's at home on the couch." 
Then her grandma told me how much she loves the book. It's become her favourite book and she's read it dozens of times already, carrying it around with her everywhere in the house. 
So this very sweet little girl then said, "It's TEN WHOLE CHAPTERS! And I read it all by myself!" 
I can't wait to tell Isabella. She will be so pleased to hear how much this little six year old loves her book."

My nine year old daughter's book is another child's FAVOURITE book! Even if that is the only child who finds this book the best story ever, that's enough. That's why we write.

Your story doesn't have to be perfect. It just has to touch someone's emotions or even just give them some momentary pleasure while they read it. In all honesty, you can write the world's best book, and it still won't be perfect. Perfection is an illusion. And, as long as you write the best book you are capable of writing, whether or not someone else will love your book is completely subjective; everyone's tastes differ.

But if you never get your story out there, if you keep it hidden in a drawer, unfinished, you will never reach anyone with your story. Somewhere there is one child, a little girl or a little boy, who is waiting for your book, who will love your book and carry it around with them and read it over and over just for the pleasure of it.

So don't just write your book - finish it!

My other daughter's book, "Grabbed by the Shadows"
Today's prize is in keeping with today's topic. Comment on this post and your name will be put into a drawing. If you win, I will create an e-book cover for you. but there's a catch - it has to be an e-book cover for a short story you've written, something over 2,000 words. It doesn't have to be for children; it can be a short story for adults. And you have to be willing to publish your short story to Kindle through KDP. You can use the cover for your story. (If you don't know how to publish through KDP, we can chat and I'll show you how.)

Monday 21 September 2015

Getting through the middle of your story #ChaBooChaLite

By now, you might be reaching the middle of your book. This is where, if you let it, your story might begin to sag. But there are ways to avoid writing a saggy middle to your story.

1. Use your outline. Not knowing how to get from the beginning of your story to the end can cause many authors to flounder in the middle, but that is why you are supposed to have written an outline, with a synopsis for each chapter. The outline should tell you what you need to achieve in these middle chapters and give you direction.

2. View each chapter as a scene. If this scene were a short story, how would it begin and how would it end? What can you do to keep your readers interest all the way through? Giving your story the same focus on each chapter as you would for a new scene or a short story will help you keep it interesting for your readers.

3. Increase the stakes. If the stakes go up in the middle of the story, your readers interest will remain hooked. Maybe your protagonist now has even more to lose if she doesn't overcome her problem, or something happens to make overcoming the problem less likely.

4. Introduce a new character. This won't work for every storyline, but if the character can fit in within the context of the plot, sometimes this can cause renewed interest by readers, especially if this new person is a mystery, causes a new conflict, increases the conflict in some way or provides some much needed advice for the protagonist. Don't just throw any new character into the story. He has to be integral to the plot and cause a change in some way.
5. Work on your subplot and use it to increase the tension in the main plot. Tie the subplot into the main plot. Spend some time developing it, while subtly increasing the tension of the main plot.

6. Create a setback. Maybe your character has almost overcome the obstacles by now, but you are only half-way through the book. You will need a setback to keep form ending your story early and so that the story can start moving forward again.

7. Use your characters' interactions with each other to move the story forward.Dialogue between characters, even the unspoken body language between them, can create tension and pull the reader in closer.

8. Ask a question. If your story gets to the middle and, instead of answers, your protagonist now has even more questions, readers will continue to read because they want to find out what the answers to those questions are. This also increases the tension in the story.

9. Reveal a secret. Is there something about your protagonist or antagonist that your readers don't know yet? Use the middle of the story to reveal it.

10. Create a twist. Has your story been leading your readers to a false conclusion? Perhaps the middle of the story is a good time to reveal that. As long as it isn't giving away the end of your story, creating a twist can be a good way to keep your story's middle strong.
Every signed-up member who comments on this post will be entered into a prize drawing for a $5 USD gift certificate from The drawing will be done at the end of this month. Winners of all prizes will be announced in a blog post and will have two weeks from the announcement to claim their prizes.

Thursday 17 September 2015

Writer's Block or Procrastination? by Jarm Del Boccio #ChaBooChaLite

I've been struggling these past few months. Struggling to put words on paper. Is that you, too?

Funny thing is, I have no problems with posts on Facebook. They flow like water. So, what's the deal?

What I thought was writer's block is probably better named as procrastination. I know I need to write, but what do I do instead?

- The laundry (I have nothing to wear. . .)
- Dishes (really?)
- Bake (it's an escape)
- Mend clothes (I hate looking at the growing pile)
- Purchase mentor texts on Amazon
- Continue one of my writer's courses
- Submit a manuscript.

I tell myself that these things really do need to get done. And, c'mon, the last three apply to writing. Am I not correct?

Correct, but Wrong. Huh?

The point is, I'm NOT WRITING.

So, I figure I need some motivation. Right now, being part of ChaBooCha is the BEST thing to get me going. Challenges ALWAYS get me going. I wouldn't have much written if I didn't accept the challenges:

Wow: NonFicPic/Week of Writing

And the list could go on. Some months, I go from one challenge to another. My manuscripts are nothing to write home about, but hey, I have something on paper to edit when the time comes.

But, as I push ahead, I have found a few other resources to entice and inspire me. Even when I am not writing. Even when it's true writer's block, and not procrastination. Maybe these will help you, too:

A Writer's Guide to Persistence by Jordan Rosenfeld (good help with focus for the writing life)

Second Sight: An Editor's Talks on Writing, Revising & Publishing Books for Children and Young Adults by Cheryl B. Klein (she's given me super editing and revising hints when I’m stuck with character and plot)

Children's Book-A-Day Almanac by Anita Silvey (helpful for story ideas)

The Sound of Paper by Julia Cameron (great for motivation)

Award-winning author Candace Fleming  (I consider her a friend) has advice for getting 'unstuck':

- Write one to three pages of anything on your mind. It could be thoughts on your manuscript, or just fleshing out the events of the day. Julia Cameron calls them "morning pages" because they are written first thing in the morning to get you writing.

- Any time you get stuck as you are writing a story, whether it's with a name, location, descriptive word, etc, just fill the space with a "—", and decide what to use later. Then your writing will not come to a halt, as it has for me many times!

Here’s help from Writer’s Digest: A 12 Day Plan of Simple Writing Exercises

The Character Traits Thesaurus is a helpful tool when you are stuck with ideas. Check it out HERE.

Don’t know how to begin a story? This blogpost gives you some ideas.

Ever thought of writing a Fractured Fairytale? Tara Lazar shows you how. Her how-to video is a riot!

Now that I'm an empty nester, I find I have more time to write, but less self-control. As I've mentioned above, I find tons of things to do instead of writing. So, I schedule myself. I carve out a piece of the day that is totally free, and I concentrate on writing or revising. I also take time to read books on writing, look for agents or publishers to submit to, or take a class online. At one point, I thought of choosing one writing 'task' each day. For instance, Monday would be my submission day, Tuesday, revision day, Wednesday . . .well, you get my meaning. But so far, that hasn't worked.

A good app that reminds me of my tasks for the day/week/month is They have updated it, and I highly recommend it for reminding yourself of the contest or pitchfest you are going to take part in, or any other writerly tasks you need to accomplish. Make sure you include the name and location of the event as well, so you can find the details when you need them. The app is available for laptops, iPhones and iPads.

Julie Cameron also suggested 'Walks' and 'Artist's Dates' with yourself. Go for a walk in the neighborhood. Or choose a safe forest preserve or park on your way to the shopping mall. And take yourself out on a date to a museum, unexplored neighborhood, or bookshop that is new to you. You'd be amazed at how refreshed and more creative you feel!

If all of the above fails, just sit yourself down in a quiet, distraction free place, open your notebook  or computer program/app of your choice and WRITE!


-  Your favorite childhood experience
- Your worst childhood experience
- A day in the life of your dog/cat or other pet
- Your life on a deserted island: what would you take?
- If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be, and why?
- If you could make up any world, what would it be like?
- Pick a color and write about what it means to you. What word pictures does it bring to mind?
- If you have a list of titles/ideas for a picture/chapter book, pick one and just start writing.
- Get your thinking cap on and write a pitch or jacket flap text for a WIP. It's amazing how that assignment will clarify the plot and characters of your story.

Well, I hope I have given you some ideas to jump start your writing and get the creative juices flowing. So. . .WRITE ON!!


Jarm (‘J’ pronounced as a 'Y') Del Boccio has come to the writing world later in life. After home educating her two teens, and now living in an (almost) empty nest, she is ready to get down to business in earnest. Jarm has written over 30 PBs, two chapter books, (with an MG novel in progress) but only a half-dozen or so are polished and ready to submit. As she focuses on Biblical fiction and real life stories, Jarm's passion is to make Scripture and history come alive for her readers. Although she is not represented at this time, she trusts it will become a reality soon, along with her first book contract! Each year she moves closer to her goal. In the meantime, Jarm has published articles in "Thriving Family", "The Old Schoolhouse" and online in "A Mother's Heart" magazine.

Jarm finds her inspiration in everyday life, but in particular, when she travels the globe, observing the quirky things that happen along the way. You can learn about those experiences in her blog, Making the Write Connections, or connect with her on Twitter, Goodreads or Pinterest. Jarm is content with the journey God has placed her on, and lives with her husband and son and daughter (when they are not at college), and two Ragdoll cats in a tree-lined suburb of Chicago.


If you are a signed-up member of this challenge, comment on this post and at the end of the month, you will be entered into a drawing. The winner will get a ebook cover created by Rebecca Fyfe  (using photo-manipulation). You can use it either for your ChaBooCha novel or for a short story. 

Friday 11 September 2015

How to Write More – Tips and Tricks for a Quick First Draft by author Jo Hart #ChaBooChaLite

How to Write More - Tips & Tricks 
for a Quick First Draft
by Jo Hart

Committing to write a certain word count within a short period of time can be daunting. You start the first week or so with high motivation and the words spill out onto the page. However, after the first or second week, your motivation starts to lag and the words don’t flow quite as easily.

From my years participating in NaNoWriMo and ChaBooCha, I’ve learned a few tips and tricks to help get out decent chunks of words in a short amount of time. This has been especially vital for me as I’ve always had to fit my writing into small spaces of time due to kids and work.

1. Start With an Outline. This one is a bit too late for this round of ChaBooCha, but something to keep in mind for future writing challenges. Having an outline, even if it is as simple as having a beginning, problem and ending worked out, will help you keep momentum going. Knowing in advance how you want the story to end means, even if you veer off on different tangents while you are writing, you always know where you are going and have something to write towards. This helps a lot with staving off writer’s block.

2. Turn Off All Distractions. Turn off your phone or put it away. Close your internet browser. It’s so easy to ‘just check Facebook’ and find yourself pulled into the rabbit hole of the internet. Choose writing over TV. Sometimes I grab my old school notebook and pen and go sit outside to write. P.S. Writing outside is a good way to write when you have kids. They’re happy playing while you can watch them easily and write at the same time.

3. Write or Die. If you haven’t heard of this you need to check it out: Basically you set yourself a goal (eg: 200 words in 30 minutes) and set a punishment. If you stop writing for too long the punishment comes into effect. The punishment might be as gentle as a reminder to keep writing or as severe as erasing your words! It’s a great motivator and a great way to churn out those words in a short amount of time or push past writer’s block.

4. Just Write. Don’t worry about fixing typos as you go, or wondering if that dialogue sounds right, or going onto Google to research how people dressed in the 15th Century. That’s the sort of stuff that can wait until you go back to do revisions. If you’re not sure if something is accurate (eg: 15th century clothing or modern day forensics) just write what you think, for now, and highlight it or put some kind of place marker so you can research it later during revisions. When you stop to fix or research, you derail the flow of your writing. The aim for your first draft is to keep getting words down on the page until you get to the end.

5. Raise the Stakes. If you’re struggling to get through writing a scene in your manuscript because it’s tedious, raise the stakes! Chances are if you’re finding it boring to write, your reader will find it boring to read. Make it exciting. Add conflict.

6. Reward Yourself. Give yourself incentive for reaching goals, eg: hit 10,000 words, buy that new book you’ve been eyeing off. Alternatively, you could make deals with yourself, eg: you can only crack open that double choc fudge ice-cream if you hit 1500 words today, or you can only watch that movie on TV tonight if you hit 2000 words.


Jo Hart is an Australian author with stories published in a variety of anthologies and online. Her writing blog (which contains a multitude of articles and links for writers) is currently celebrating its 6th blogiversary. As part of the celebrations. Jo is running a COMPETITION where you can WIN an advanced copy of her soon-to-be-released short story collection Beautiful & Deadly. Also among the prizes is a chance to have an in-depth critique of your story (up to 10,000 words). Visit to enter the draw!

You can find Jo on Facebook at and on Twitter at

Wednesday 9 September 2015

Research for your Novel #ChaBooChaLite

Research is something that, with most books, you will have no choice but to do at some point during your writing. If you are writing a fiction novel, than you will need to research a variety of things for your book?

Some things you might need to research when writing a fiction novel:

When is your story set? If it's in the past, what did people wear? How did they speak? What buildings were already built in that era? How were women treated? What occupations were prevalent? How did people travel? How was food prepared? As you can see, the list of things you will need to know if you story is set in the past is a long one, much longer than the questions asked here. And you will need to do thorough research on the topic in order to write a story that won't ask people to suspend their belief more than they should have to. Local museums, libraries and, if you have one, your local historical society are good places to start your research. Elderly relatives can also be true fonts of information about the past.

If your story is set in the future, it's important that you portray a future that is believable. What types of technology are being invented today? How do you think they will change by the time period your story is set in? Science and technology magazine could be a good source for finding out how some things are already set to change in the near future.

If you story is set in the present, your research won't have to be as intensive, unless your setting is somewhere that you are not familiar with.


Where are you setting your story? How is the setting important to the story and the events within the story? Have you done enough research on your setting to be able to write about it? Is your story going to be in a different world? If so, what do you need to research in order to accurately portray this mythical world?

Some authors who have a book set in the present day world use the need to research their chosen location for their setting as an excuse to travel. Some authors keep their stories located somewhere that they already know very well, but even then, there is research that might need to be done about the location. If the setting is local but in the past, local museums can be a great help in your research. For local stories set in the present, see if your town or city has a visitor's welcome center.

If your protagonist or antagonist are using weaponry of any kind, you will need to research the type of weapon and how it is used. for example, different guns have different weights and caliber of bullets. Some guns and rifles take longer to reload than others ans some guns and rifles shoot faster than others. Some shoot more bullets before needing to be reloaded than others do. You have automatic weapons and semi-automatic weapons. Which will your character be using? And, taking a moment to look back at setting, which weapons are legal or illegal to carry in your story's location? What about licensing regulations within the chosen location for your story? 

Archery also contains differences that need to be researched. There are long bows and short bows, as well as cross bows and compound bows. Do you know what makes each of them different? And what about the way they feel when you use each one? Does one take more strength to pull back than another does? How fast can each type shoot arrows? What types of arrows do they use? Did you know that the compound bow was created in such a way that it reduces the holding weight when it reach full draw position? Or that the recurve bow is the only bow style allowed at the Olympics?

There are several other weapons that your characters might make use of; a few examples are swords, throwing knives and poison darts. An extra step for your research would be to take a class that teaches you how to use the weapon. One class might be enough to give you an idea of the level of skill and difficulty and how each movement feels for the person wielding the weapon.

And a whole lot more:
The types of research you will need to do will depend on what or who your novel is about, where it is set and many other factors. Each novel is unique and so is the research that it will need in order for it to be written well.

What have you needed to research for your novels?


Everyone who is signed up for ChaBooCha Lite and comments on this post will be entered into a drawing for the cat charm book mark (similar to the one shown above). The drawing will occur at the end of the month and the winner will be announced in a blog post.

Saturday 5 September 2015

Word Counts, Timers and Chapters by Melissa Gijsbers #ChaBoochaLite

ChaBooCha Lite has started and, unlike NaNoWriMo, we all have different goals. Some of us are editing, some of us are writing a 5,000 word chapter book, and some of us are writing a 20,000 middle grade novel.

 How do we make sure we keep on track so we’re not trying to do it all in the last week?

Here are few methods for you to try:

Word count

If your goal is to write a set amount of words, this method could work well.
Divide your target words by the number of days and you will know how many words you need to write a day.

For example, if you are writing a 20,000 word middle grade novel, divide 20,000 by 30 and you will get 667 words a day (I know it’s actually 666.667, but I’ve rounded up). To keep up with your target, aim to write at least 667 words a day.

If you know you are going to have days off and will only be able to write for 20 days of the month, divide your goal by that many days. Tick off the days and word count as you go to keep on track.

If you are editing, you could also set a word count to edit each day. Be careful with this as you could lose track of the words as you add and delete words in your manuscript.

Number of Chapters

Work out how many chapters you want your book to be and how many words will be in each chapter. Based on this, work out how many chapters you will need to write each day to reach your goal.

For example, if you set a goal of 10 chapters at 500 words each, you could aim to write two chapters a day and get your draft done in 5 days. Once your manuscript is done, you would have time to write a second book.

If you are editing, you could set yourself a number of chapters to edit each day of the challenge to reach your goal.

This is the method I use during the Chapter Book Challenge each March. I aim to write at least 10 chapters of at least 750 words each. The extra days are set aside for planning and research.

Set a Timer

Depending on how you write or edit, setting a timer each day could be helpful.
Set aside an amount of time, for example half an hour, and just write or edit as much as you can in that time. Depending on what else is happening in your day, you could set aside more than one period of time a day to work on the challenge.

Your timer could be anything from a timer on your phone to the length of kids activities or even the length of a TV show!

This can also be a useful method when you have a family as you can tell them you need uninterrupted time for half an hour (or whatever the time is) and can answer their questions and do things for them when the time is up.

For me, I’ve found this works well when I’m editing.

These methods can help as you can check in every day and let the others in the group know you have achieved your daily goal and you will be able to track how you are going.

What methods do you use to keep track of your goals during a challenge?

Melissa Gijsbers is an Australian author and blogger. Her first children’s book, "Swallow Me, NOW!" published in 2014, was written during the Chapter Book Challenge in 2013.  When she’s not writing or coming up with ideas for stories, she’s running around after two active boys and working in the family business. You can find her online at or on Facebook at


All signedoup members of the challenge who comment on this post will be entered into a drawing at the end of the month for a $5 (USD) Amazon gift certificate.

Tuesday 1 September 2015

Welcome to ChaBooCha Lite 2015! #ChaBooChaLite

It's time for ChaBooCha Lite! It starts today!

For those of you who did not participate in ChaBooCha Lite last year and are wondering what it is, ChaBooCha Lite is a "light" version of the Chapter Book Challenge. ChaBooCha Lite is another chance to write an early reader, chapter book, middle grade book or YA novel within a month. The premise is the same as the premise of March's Chapter Book Challenge. (The Lite challenge will have less prizes and less guest blog posts.) You will still be trying to wr
ite your book during the 30 days of the month, but instead of running in March, ChaBooCha Lite runs in September. It's also completely acceptable for you to finish a book previously begun or to edit one you have already written, as long as you complete the work in September.

Feel free to peruse previous blog posts from a variety of published authors and agents. Here's a list of a selection of posts:

Getting Through the First Draft by author Wendy Orr

Editing your First Draft by author Tamora Pierce

Interview with author Darren Shan

Do It Yourself Publicity by author Harold Underdown

The Ten 'R's of Revision author Lee Wardlaw 

What to Do When You Hate What You've Written by author Adam Wallace

Choose your Mentor Texts by author Nancy I. Sanders 

Outlining and You by author Patti Larsen

Your Query is Not a Blurb: Query Tips from Freelance Editor Victoria Boulton 

On Editing by author Karen Pokras Toz

On Writing Badly and Redefining Failure by author Becca Puglisi

Magical Realism - Turning Ordinary into Extraordinary by author Kimberly Griffiths Little

How to Reach Kidlit Readers: Hone in on Power & Control by author Angel Ackerman

Series Writing 101 by author Emma Walton Hamilton

The Education Market and Chapter Books by author George Ivanoff

Ten Things to Remember when Submitting your Work to an Agent by Carole Blake

There are many, many more posts than just the ones I have listed above. We either have a post for every question you could have, or, if not, let us know and we will address the topic in a future post.

And grab yourself a participant badge from below to use on your blog or Facebook page or other social media.

And you can also have this handy banner.

(click to see in full size)