Friday 30 September 2016

Final Day of ChaBooCha Lite 2016! #ChaBooChaLite

Today is the final day of the ChaBoocha Lite challenge. And this means I now get to announce the winners of all of the prizes from the challenge! Yay!

So read below to see if you won one of the prizes:

  • The winner of the homemade charm bookmark is:  Cecilia Clark
  • The winner of the custom designed book cover is:  saputnam 
  • The winner of the $5 (USD) Amazon gift certificate is:  Ashley Willoughby
  • The winner of the interior formatting for paperback books and Kindle books on Amazon and Createspace is:  Melissa Stoller

Contact me either through Facebook or through my e-mail within two weeks in order to claim your prize.

Wednesday 28 September 2016

Week Four! Final days of #ChaBooChaLite

Today, we've hit the four week mark in our writing during ChaBooCha Lite. Are you almost finished writing the first draft of your story?

If you are almost done, yay! Great going! Keep it up!

If you feel like you are not anywhere close to where you need to be right now, keep at it! You will never know how far you can get unless you keep trying!

Besides, completing the challenge is only one measure of success. If you've been able to fully flesh-out your plot, your characters, or your background for the story, those are all different measures of success and more than you might have had when you began the challenge. If you managed to write a chapter or two, or even just a few paragraphs, if it's more than you had when you began, I'd call it a success!


Today's prize is another one I can make. I do interior formatting for paperback books and Kindle books on Amazon and Createspace. I'm offering one person a prize of interior formatting for their story. (If the story is not your complete novel but rather just a short story that you want to put up on Amazon to give people a taste of your writing, then I will include a cover image for your story as well.)

Today is too close to the final day of the challenge to require anyone to comment in order to be entered to win a prize, so what I've decided is that everyone who is signed up for ChaBooCha Lite will be entered into the drawing for today's prize.

Wednesday 21 September 2016

Week Three! Almost there! #ChaBooChaLite #ChaBooCha

We have now entered the third week of the challenge. There are only nine days left to go! I hope everyone is busy writing!

If you're struggling with your story right now, there are some ways to help reignite your muse. Maybe taking a look back at our previous post "Getting through the middle of your story" will help.

What kind of story are you writing? I'm always curious about what genre each of us chooses for our individual stories. My chapter book and middle grade stories tend to fall in the paranormal and fantasy genres, with my YA skewing, more specifically, towards urban fantasy most often. But I know we have a wide variety of authors in this challenge (with almost 400 members at the moment), and this means there will be a wide variety of story genres represented within our challenge.

That's just one of the questions an agent will want to know, if you are going to send your book out into the world in the hopes that someone in the publishing industry will fall in love with it. Some other questions will be: What age are you aiming at for your story? Is it a chapter book, a middle grade book or a YA novel? What about comparable books; is there a book out there that you would be willing to say your book can compare with? (The question about a comparable book is my least favourite question to try and answer, because, of course, all of our stories are unique. Right? And yet, still, a publisher will want to know the answer to this question.)

You are getting close to the completion of your book. These, and other questions will be things to start thinking about when you are done.

Comment below to be entered into a drawing for a $5 (USD) Amazon gift certificate. (Signed-up members only.) The drawing will be done on the last day of the challenge (September 30th, 2016).

Wednesday 14 September 2016

The Second Week #ChaBooChaLite #ChaBooCha

We've already reached the second week of the Lite challenge. How are you all doing with your stories?

The second week can often be difficult, because the first rush of the idea and your opening scene are done now and you have to start getting from one point in your story to the next. If you've outlined your story ahead of time, you might find this stage easier, but for those of you who, like me, create the story as you write it, you might find the writing comes to you a little bit more slowly now. You'll have to think about the story and where it is going before you write these next scenes.

Feel free to browse through previous posts here in the blog if you need some help or inspiration. ChaBooCha guest authors have covered a lot of topics during past challenges.


And now for this week's prize:

Some of you might know that I, occasionally, create book covers: some for books I publish and some for clients. Here, you can see some examples of the covers I have created in the past. I am, by no means, the best at cover creation, but my covers do appeal to readers.

I'm offering, for this week's prize, to create a *book cover for one winner. You need to comment on this post to enter. The winner will be drawn by a random number generator drawn from signed-up members who comment below. The winner will be announced on September 30th.

*I work with photo-manipulation. My style might not be right for the book you are creating, but you are under no obligation, if you are the winner, to use the cover I create. I will do my best to come up with something that reflects the title and theme of your book. 

Wednesday 7 September 2016

The First Week #ChaBooChaLite

The first week of writing for ChaBooCha Lite has passed. How is everyone doing?

There are a lot of places on-line to use if you would like to keep a ticker showing your progress as you write your story for the challenge.

Here's a link to one that you might find useful (as well as an example of how it will look):

Critique Circle meter builder

Let me know in the comments how you are doing and you will be entered into a drawing to be done at the end of the challenge for one of my homemade charm bookmarks. (An example of one of my homemade bookmarks is pictured below. The actual one made and sent out may use different charms.)

Thursday 1 September 2016

Welcome to ChaBooCha Lite 2016 #ChaBooChaLite

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 write 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.

It's another chance to challenge yourself, and to give yourself a deadline for writing your book. Want to join us? Sign up here.

There will be some prizes during the challenge, mostly hand-made ones.

Grab a badge form below and feel free to share it on your blog or website! (Different sizes provided.)

Friday 12 August 2016

The References: A Superhero Tale by Mark Dennion #Superheroes

My friend Mark Dennion has a new book out for kids that I am happy to introduce you to. Some of you might have already read his short story "The Abacus" in SuperHERo Tales: A Collection of Female Superhero Stories (Volume Two).

The References by Mark Dennion


Richard Shanary isn’t the best student. In fact, when it comes to English, he’s struggling for that “C” average his karate scholarship requires. 

On a stormy night in the bowels of the library, a freak lightning strike sends a jolt of electricity—and magic—into the hard line of the old desktop computer. Richard is injected with enough voltage to fry eggs—not to mention download the entire contents of the web dictionary he’s currently scrolling. Every word from A to Z is seared into his brain forever. 
By the time he wakes, Richard has gained the superhuman ability of instant recall on any definition in the English language, and even a few in French, Spanish, Portuguese, and German. Richard Shanary has become the Human Dictionary. A superhero bound to uphold the laws of society and grammar with his immense martial arts abilities and his power of instantly recalling the definition of the last word someone speaks to him. Not a single slang term or crooked criminal is safe. 

But Human Dictionary isn’t the only one with a gift. 

A scientist turned T Rex. A mapmaker with route recall better than any GPS. And an evil villain with an affinity for spandex intent on destroying them all and ruling the city herself. But she’ll have to take it from the meanest slang-slinging gang this city’s underbelly has ever seen. 

What we need is a hero. Or three. And so, a new era of superheroes begins… 


Mark Dennion is a graduate of Rutgers Camden and is a middle school Reading/Language Arts teacher who has been a fan of comics and heroes for as long as he can remember. He got the idea of The References from a project that he assigned his students after watching an episode of South Park. The References is his debut novel, but he hopes it to be the start of a long career. He lives in New Jersey with his beautiful wife and their "squirrel" in their small river cottage.

List of Links: 

Amazon Link:

Author’s Website:



Friday 29 July 2016

Teapot Tales: Volume 4 - Now taking submissions #TeapotTales #ChaBooCha

Teapot Tales: A Collection of Extraordinary Fairy Tales (Teapot Tales: Volume 4)

Do you like to write fairy tales?

Every year we bring out a new volume of our Teapot Tales anthologies with proceeds to benefit the Chapter Book Challenge. This will be the third volume and the theme is returning to fairy tales.

The stories are flash fiction (minimum word count 300 words/maximum word count 1,000 words) and are to either be a new take on an old fairy tale (sometimes called twisted fairy tales or fractured fairy tales) or completely new fairy tales.

Submissions are only open to Chapter Book Challenge members (it's free to join and the sign-up sheet is on the ChaBooCha blog). Previous Teapot Tales anthologies are "Teapot Tales: A Collection of Unique Fairy Tales" (Teapot Tales: Volume 1), "Teapot Tales: Pirates, Mermaids and Monsters of the Sea" (Teapot Tales: Volume 2), and Teapot Tales: A Collection of Unusual Fairy Tales (Teapot Tales: Volume 4). The anthologies are sold through Amazon, but will be expanding to other retail outlets. All authors retain the copyrights to their stories to publish in their own collections or on their own websites. Up to three stories may be submitted. Artwork (line drawings) is also accepted.

All work must be your own.

Please include a one-paragraph, third-person author bio with your submission. Website links to your sites are allowed within reason.

Deadline for story submissions (and artwork): August 31st, 2016

Thursday 31 March 2016

Final day of the Chapter Book Challenge #ChaBooCha

Today is the final day of the Chapter Book Challenge. If you managed to write an entire first draft of a chapter book, middle grade book or YA novel, from start to finish, during the month of March, then e-mail me at Rebecca (at) Fyfe (dot) net and I will send you a jpeg of the winner's badge.  Whether you won or lost, I hope you managed to get further along in your story during this challenge, and I hope you realize that any progress is a personal "win."

I did manage to finish a first draft of a chapter book during this year's challenge, but it's so truly awful that I'm not sure I will ever take the time to edit and revise it into something usable. (It all depends on how long it takes me to polish up previous projects.) Still, it helped to get the story written because the idea for it would continue to pester at me and niggle at the back of my mind, causing all kinds of distraction for me while working on other projects and, now that it's written, I can safely go back to working on those other projects, knowing that this one won't keep interrupting and pushing its way into my thoughts, for now at least.

This is the fun part of the challenge. I get to announce all of the winner's of the prizes this year. Just to warn you all, I am anything but timely when it comes to getting the prizes sent out, but you will eventually get your prizes. You have two weeks from the date of this post to contact me with your mailing address and accept the prize. If you don't contact me within two weeks, you forfeit the prize and your prize will be set aside and become part of next year's prizes.

Read below to see the list of prizes and the winners of those prizes, all selected through a random number generator.

Jen Garrett


The winner of the $5 USD Amazon gift certificate is:


The winner of The Indie Author's Guide to: Building a Great Book by Jo Michaels is:

Robyn Campbell


The winner of the Bullyland badger figurine is:

Dot Day






 by C. Hope Clark is:

Ashley Howland


The winner of Orison by Daniel Swensen is: 

Joanne Roberts




The winner of the e-book copy of Swallow Me, Now! by Melissa Gijsbers is:

Kelly Vavala!

The winner of the Kindle Fire 7" is:

Anne Bielby

Be sure to contact me soon if you are one of the winners! And I hope you got some benefit other than just the prizes from participating in this challenge.

Wednesday 30 March 2016

One day left to finish your book! #ChaBooCha

Everyone, you have one day left to finish your ChaBooCha novel! How far along have you gotten in this challenge? Any progress is better than no progress, but, if you are in it to win it, you have just one more day.

We have heard from some amazing guest authors during this challenge and, I hope, you have learned some new ways of approaching different elements of your story and, also, the editing process. But what's important is that you have devoted some time towards writing your novel, whether or not you're going to "win" the challenge.

Use today to get some more words written of your story. Your the only one who can write your story, so we need you to write it.

Good luck!

Tuesday 29 March 2016

Researching your Novel by Melissa Gijsbers #ChaBooCha

Researching your Novel
by Melissa Gijsbers

For many of us, ideas come from our imaginations, however there may be parts of our stories we need to research so we get the facts right.

Some of us will do our research before we start writing, during the planning process. Some of us will research as we go, and some of us will mark our manuscript so we can research some facts and then come back and fill in the gaps when our draft has been completed.

Regardless of when you do your research, there are a number of sources you can use to research the facts for your story. These include:

Internet Search
For most of us, this is our go to option. We bring up our favourite search engine, type in search terms and then wade through the hundreds or thousands of results to find the information we are looking for. There are times we will strike gold, and other times we don't. If this doesn't work, then...

Talk to your Librarian
Did you know that libraries have access to a large number of online databases as well as a large reference library? Not to mention they are great people for authors to talk to. Talk to your local librarian about what you are researching. You never know, they may know about your topic or have access to a database or resource you haven't thought of yet that can provide you with the facts you are looking for.

Talk to an expert
Experts are often happy to share their knowledge with authors. Find an expert in the field you are researching and contact them to see if they would be happy to answer some questions. They are often busy people, so make an appointment or talk to them via email to get the information you need for your story. Don't forget to acknowledge them when you publish your book.

Read a book or two or three
Depending on what you are researching, there are likely to be books you can buy or borrow to help you. They may be non-fiction books on your topic, or fiction books that deal with the issue you are writing about. Reading other books on your topics may also help you see how other authors deal with your topic.

Listen to a Podcast or watch a Video
There are Podcasts and Videos on just about any subject. Do a search in iTunes or YouTube or even your favourite search engine to see what talks and videos are available. While you are listening or watching, take notes to help with your research.

As you are doing your research, keep a record of the books, websites, and other sources you have used so you can refer back to them and include a bibliography in your book if necessary.


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. She is due to release her second book, also written during the Chapter Book Challenge, around May this year.  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


Melissa Gijsbers has generously offered, as today's give-away, an e-book copy of her middle grade book Swallow Me, Now! If you are a signed-up member of ChaBooCha, all you need to do to be entered into the drawing for this book is comment on this blog post. Winners will be selected from a random number generator on March 31st at noon (GMT).

Monday 28 March 2016

Adding Paranormal Into Your Story by Rose Pressey #ChaBooCha

Adding Paranormal Into Your Story
by Rose Pressey

Adding paranormal into your story can open up all new worlds to you and your readers. There are many ways to weave the paranormal into your writing. It all starts with how much supernatural you want to include. If you just want a hint of the paranormal, and the main topic of your book doesn’t really deal with this subject, then you could just add a spooky setting or mention paranormal events that your characters experienced in the past.

Have your characters talk about paranormal events in their lives. They can recount ghost stories, unexplained mysteries, or maybe a sixth sense. Not too much of this method though. You want to avoid ‘telling’ and have more ‘showing’ in your story. There are many books on this subject.
If you want more paranormal elements, then you can add actual ghost sightings, visits from vampires, werewolves, etc. Let your imagination run wild. Make up your own world and paranormal elements. It also depends on what type of paranormal world you want to create. Supernatural beings require more world building, but you can weave this into the everyday life of your characters.

Is your main character a paranormal being or have paranormal powers? Show your readers the paranormal effects your characters deal with on a daily basis. Do they have to make special accommodations to avoid the paranormal? Or do they use paranormal powers for daily tasks or to help solve problems? Maybe they have special tricks or ways to deal with their paranormal abilities.
Other ways to show paranormal might be subtle scenes added to your story, like your character walking under streetlights and having the lights go off at that exact moment. Maybe they read people’s minds and have to keep what they discover a secret, yet they always finish the other person’s sentences.

I also like to allow my characters to help me figure out where the paranormal should be in the story. Spend time developing your characters and they’ll have an easier time taking to you on the page.
There are many ways to add paranormal to a story. So here are just a few bullet points to help you. 
·         Subtle hints of the paranormal throughout the story.
·         Main characters with paranormal skills or beings.
·         Paranormal settings like haunted houses or other supernatural settings.
·         Make sure paranormal elements fit your story.
·         Paranormal abilities with day-to-day life.

I hope this helps you add to or enhance your paranormal world.  


Rose Pressey is a USA TODAY bestselling author. She enjoys writing quirky and fun novels with a paranormal twist. The paranormal has always captured her interest. The thought of finding answers to the unexplained fascinates her. When she's not writing about werewolves, vampires and every other supernatural creature, she loves eating cupcakes with sprinkles, reading, spending time with family, and listening to oldies from the fifties. Rose lives in the beautiful commonwealth of Kentucky with her husband, son and three sassy Chihuahuas.

Today's prize is Writing the Paranormal Novel: Techniques and Exercises for Weaving Supernatural Elements Into Your Story by Steven Harper. If you are a signed-up member of ChaBooCha, all you need to do to be entered into the drawing for this book is comment on this blog post. Winners will be selected from a random number generator on March 31st at noon (GMT).

Saturday 26 March 2016

The Big Questions: Tips on Building a Fantasy World by Daniel Swensen #ChaBooCha

The Big Questions: Tips on Building a Fantasy World
by Daniel Swensen

Escaping to other times and places is one of the great appeals of fantasy. Fiction allows us to imagine and embrace the impossible, to dwell in worlds that defy reality and flaunt physical laws. As readers, we can lose ourselves in fictional history and immerse ourselves in nonexistent cultures. But as authors, creating a fantasy world from scratch can be an intimidating (and time-consuming) task. Where do you begin -- and where does it all end?

I don’t pretend to have all the answers, because I don’t think there’s any One True Way to build a fantasy world. The secret lies in finding an approach that works for you, experimenting with it, and not being afraid to change things up when you hit a wall. (Actually, I think that’s the secret to solving most writing ills, and it’s not much of a secret because that’s what I tell anyone whenever they ask).

Still, I’ve learned a few things in my twenty-plus years of building fantasy worlds for gaming and fiction. Here are a few tips to get you started on building a great, original fantasy world.

Ask the Big Questions

In my experience, the best first question to ask yourself when world-building is: how does this world differ from ours? If you’re creating a fantasy world that’s familiar but unlike our own (such as the pseudo-European-medieval setting that characterizes most epic fantasy), ask yourself how this world differs from those everyone has seen before.

This will inform many of the decisions that follow, and help you focus on the things that matter. No one really cares about how your world is the same. The appeal lies in the big differences and the little details.

You might  start with the broad strokes:

     A world like ours, but vampires and werewolves are real (Twilight, a whole lot of urban fantasy)
     A fantasy world with elves, dwarves, and dragons (Lord of the Rings, a whole lot of traditional fantasy)
     A faraway galaxy populated with aliens, galactic empires and advanced technology (space opera a la Star Wars)

Your question could also take the form of a “what if:”

     What if magic was real but hidden from the public? (Harry Potter)
     What if the universe was ruled by indifferent alien gods? (H.P. Lovecraft’s mythos)

The next big question might be: how do the differences affect the characters? The answer will vary depending on your chosen setting. A single big “what if” question can fuel an entire book or series. A world where magic is a hidden secret might not affect the majority of the population; a world where water is nearly nonexistent, or where people mysteriously float into space when they fall asleep, will affect everybody in big, impossible-to-ignore ways.

The bigger the “what ifs” (and the more of them you have), the more ambitious your world-building will be. The answers to these questions will likely shape the culture and history of your world.

Choose Your Approach

Now that you’ve picked a direction, it’s time to decide which way you want to build your world: from the top down, or from the bottom up.

A top-down approach means you build all the big questions and answers into your world-building on the macro scale. With this approach, you might write up history, outline major events of the past, draw maps, create figures of history and legend, and detail their lives. You’ll do this before you even get to your main characters and their story.

The background you create may never explicitly come into play in your prose, but it can inform character and narrative in rich, subtle ways. A great example of this is Lord of the Rings, the gold standard for detailed, voluminous history. You can read and enjoy The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings without knowing the details of The Silmarillion or the copious appendices -- but it deepens the experience if you do.

     You’ll have lots of rich, detailed history to draw on (once you’re finished)
     Material you don’t use can fuel future books or side projects.
     It can be a rewarding pastime on its own.

     It’s a lot of work (and a lot of time spent not writing your book).
     You may create material you’ll never use.
     The temptation to bloat your prose with historical details you spent so much time on can be huge.

A bottom-up approach starts with the characters and events you’re writing about right now. With this approach, you don’t write the history of the world and details about events happening far away. You only build as much world as you need, and you create the world as it becomes necessary. Faraway lands and past events can remain mysterious and undefined until you need them. This approach works best for stories that focus on character, or for what-if questions that are specific and localized.

     It’s faster than the top-down approach.
     Only build as much world as you need.
     This approach lets you stay focused on character and story.

     You’ll have to take good notes to avoid inconsistencies and contradictions.
     You might have more work to do in revisions (depending on how good you were at taking notes).
     Flaws and weaknesses in your fantasy world might reveal themselves as you write (this is not necessarily a bad thing).

Get Inspired (and Steal from the Best) 

Building up a fantasy world can be a blast -- but it can also be a lot of work, and (just as with writing prose), it’s possible to hit a wall and lose your inspiration. Don’t worry when this happens -- there’s a bottomless well of inspiration for you to draw from.

Here are a few things you can try if you’re feeling uninspired:

     Look at other fictional worlds (I like the Dictionary of Imaginary Places).
     Read creation myths, or brush up on your myths and legends.
     Fire up Google Earth and look at the architecture and geography of faraway places.
     Watch a good historical documentary (these can be great for generating what-if questions)
     Feast your eyes on some great fantasy art (Pinterest is a great place to begin).

Most of all, have a good time building your world -- if you find it fascinating and fun to build, chances are your readers will have a great time exploring it.


Daniel Swensen is a career freelance writer and fantasy author who lives in Montana with his wife and two spoiled cats. Orison, his first novel, was published by Nine Muse Press in 2014.


Today's give-away is a copy of the book Orison by Daniel Swensen. If you are a signed-up member of ChaBooCha, all you need to do to be entered into the drawing for this book is comment on this blog post. Winners will be selected from a random number generator on March 31st at noon (GMT).