Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Final Day and some prize winner announcements! #ChaBooChaLite

Today is the last day of ChaBooCha Lite! How have you done? Did you get your story written? Did you end up writing something completely different than you started out writing, or did you have an outline and stick to it?

Even if all you did was write 500 words more this month than you would have without the challenge, or even if you wrote nothing but learned a lot and gained ideas for when you do start writing, that counts as a personal win. The main point of these challenges is to get you to do more and learn more and gain more momentum towards your goal of writing that story.

I hope you have enjoyed this Lite challenge and have learned a thing or two to take you into the next story you start to write.

Now, we have some prize winners to announce!


The person who won his or her choice of an inspirational magnet from this section of my shop (the magnet pictured above is just one example) is:

Mary T. Kincaid

Congratulations, Mary! E-mail me with the address where you would like it sent. Be sure to look at all of the inspirational magnets and choose which one you like (they all have a number or you can save the link).


The winner of the handmade fairy charm bookmark is:

Nancy Kotkin

Congratulations, Nancy! E-mail me with the address where you would like it sent.


The winner of the cat-themed charm bookmark is:


Congratulations, McMarshall! E-mail me with the address where you would like it sent.


One person has won a custom fairy creation using their own photo The winner is:


Congratulations, Ashley! Instructions on how to take the photo for me to use will be sent to you. The fairy photo manipulation can be of you, your child, you and your child or even of more than one child, if they are in the photo together

Congratulations to all of the prize winners and to everyone who reached a personal goal this month!

Monday, 29 September 2014

Crafting appealing cover art - guest post by Julia Stilchen #ChaBooChaLite

Cover Design for "SuperHERo Tales" created by Julia Stilchen
Crafting Appealing Cover Art for your Chapter Book

The book cover designing process can be exciting and an easy process if you understand what to look for and plan out the concept.

Before you get started, it is best that you have done your research and have defined your target audience and age range. There are generally two types of chapter books: early readers (6-8 years) and older chapter books (7-9 years).

Chapter book covers are often depicted with a main character especially if it is a character driven series. 

Things you should consider for a concept:

  • Think about what message you want to portray with the main character. The message needs to stay consistent with the main theme of the story.
  • Does the typography of the title match with the theme? Is it legible? Script fonts are to be avoided in most situations because they can get lost or they just don’t have much readability as a clean and bold type would.
  • Are you using elements that are also consistent with the theme?
  • Choice of color palette - colorful, dark and mysterious, etc.
  • The layout and composition. Do not depict characters standing idle in a stick position. Have them in the middle of an action. This is far more engaging and appears more natural. Keep in mind things like spacing and contrast, so that both the title and the cover art stand-out but do not conflict with the other.
  • Genre/tone. If your book has a lot of humor, then showing the main character in a humorous moment is ideal and consistent to the tone of the book. Same goes with other genres.
  • Visual metaphors that evoke an emotion or intrigue in the viewer.
  • Think about the type of art style you want to use. If your book has comic book elements, the cover art style should have that also.

A book cover should be attention grabbing. Its goal is to generate interest. It is a marketing tool. You want kids to stop and beg their parents to buy your book, and the cover is the first thing the viewer will see. First impressions are important to gain interest and help increase sales.

With the amount of books published today, you want to put forth the best design possible. So a cut and paste design really doesn't stand up against its competitors especially if they are professionally designed.

Research and study other chapter book covers. What appeals to you most likely has appeal to kids too. Observe products that are sold in stores, packaged for children. Having a graphic design background, it helped me to understand the emotion behind a design. Does it evoke intrigue? Excitement? Humor? Adventure?

Design several concepts as rough drafts. Compare and choose one that contains the best potential while keeping the above elements in mind. But keep things simple. Do not overload the cover with unnecessary clutter, or else the typography and visual message you are portraying will get lost. The saying “Less is More” holds a lot of truth. Kids these days have shorter attention spans, so narrow the art down to focus the theme/message of the story without it being overwhelming to view it.

Have fun with it, and the more you practice, the more familiar the entire process becomes in designing appealing book covers!


Julia Stilchen loves writing stories for all ages. She works from her bat cave, mischievously plotting mishaps for her characters as they embark on fantastical adventures in otherworldly places to confront dangerous and daunting villains! Muhahahah! When she is not plotting or daydreaming, she spends time with her husband and two children where they create adventures of their own. She created the book cover for "SupeHero Tales: A Collection of Female Superhero Stories" and also puts together wonderful book trailers. To learn more and see current developments, visit online at http://www.juliastilchen.com.


Alas, there are no more prizes to offer this month, but I hope you will leave a comment anyway. 

Sunday, 28 September 2014

On Procrastination - guest post by Cecilia Clark (plus a giveaway!) #ChaBooChaLite

I was going to write about procrastination but I put it off until

Over the years I have worked in a number of different fields. I have worked in hospitality, disability care, foster care, teaching and education support, farming and many volunteer positions.

 In each job, whether it was paid or voluntary, there was always a set starting time and finish time. In some of my jobs there had been clear break times such as lunch and morning tea. The expectation is that I would start a few minutes before the official log on time and be willing to stay late if the job required it. I attended meetings regularly and professional development training on a regular basis to improve and upgrade my skills.

I would have set tasks to complete in set times and have performance reviews.

 As a chef I would start an hour before the opening time to prepare foods before the customers started arriving. Peeling, chopping and storing. Making garnishes, inspecting deliveries, filling out paperwork and a hundred other tasks that would make the evening run smoothly. Every job has its process.

When I decided that my writing was to become my new career I had to shift my thinking from hobby to work. I have always written but I have never looked at it like it was a job. A poem here, a letter there, a story outline or two or forty, I even studied writing and editing part time over six or eight years and always wished I could become a full time writer. It stayed a vague dream with no solid substance behind it.

So early in 2013 I made that solid decision. I looked for opportunities to send my writing into the world but I had a whole tool box of procrastination practices to overcome. The extra cuppa, elevenses, second breakfast, morning tea, afternoon tea, high tea, a phone call, reading that magazine, helping the neighbour, answering the door, going for a coffee at the café with a friend, in fact anything that could distract me did distract me.

 I was still working in a set time job and writing in the evenings but as I drove home one day I realized I was still treating my writing as a hobby and a pie in the sky dream. Something had to change if I had any hope of making my writing a career. I joined writing and art organisations and challenges and began to meet writers and artists but there was another big step I had to take.
Daily practice.

I began to write 500 words a day and then in April I wrote 57000 words in the month which is 1900 words a day and by November of the same year in which I wrote 104000 words, I was writing 3467 words a day.

To beat procrastination I had to learn the following things:

  • Writing/Art is the job. Treat it like a job. A fabulous creative wonderful job but a job nonetheless. Set hours, regular work practices, evaluation and training.
  • WRITE every day, MAKE ART every day. 
  • Say NO – practice this in the mirror and then on family, then friends, then everyone. NO
  • WRITE every day, MAKE ART every day. 
  • Find a space away from the kitchen and TV and make it a work place. Emphasis on the word WORK. Go there daily and lock the world out.
  • Tell people you are a writer NOT I am a babysitter and I write too, NOT I am a chef but I write occasionally. People will respond to how you describe yourself. Practice saying I AM A WRITER or I AM AN ARTIST.(or both)
  • WRITE every day, MAKE ART every day. 
  • Stop making excuses*
  • WRITE every day, MAKE ART every day. On the margin of your school book, on a serviette at work, on the pizza box, JUST do it. Five minutes a day if that is all the time you have.Tell people I AM A WRITER but I have to work in a day job until my first contract. I AM AN ARTIST but I have to pay the rent working in real estate until my exhibition. The day job needs to be your secondary income generator. Your creativity is your first love.
  • Stop giving myself a hard time. If I miss a day then I start again the next day.
  • CREATE every day.
  • Stay focussed on the goal, don’t give up, surround yourself with people who encourage not discourage and create every day.

*I made a LOT of excuses. I had a bad childhood(I sure did and it will make a gruelling read when I write it), I had cancer (four lots of surgery with a flat line and then waking up mid cutting and then BP crash and and I recovered and they got it all and it will make an interesting tale when I write it), I had a car crash (three), I had a dying child (several times) I had no money (I am not yet JKR), no one will really want my stories or art (Yes they do), who do I think I am (I am a writer/artist), I am a single mum (and doing an awesome job of it), I have to rush my sick child to hospital (where I sat for five hours twiddling my thumbs while the professionals did their job so why did I not write about the experience and my feelings?) I am fat (getting fitter), I am ugly (shut up- I am becoming my own best friend), I am stupid (oh no I am not), I am disorganised (get a book on how to change this) I have no time (I quit the day job)… and so many more.

Successful people do not make excuses. Successful people look at the difficulties in their life and they PROBLEM SOLVE.

Since February 2013, I now have stories and art in more than 30 anthologies. I have written two complete novels. I have art work in two other writers’ stories and I am being approached by people who have seen my art.

If you really want it, you will make it happen. When the time is right for you, you will embrace your inner creative and turn it into your career.

I am a writer. I am an artist. I am successful.


Cecilia Clark is an Australian writer. Her short stories and flash fiction feature in a number of anthologies and e-zines. She lives on the south west coast of Victoria in the lovely seaside town of Warrnambool. You can find her on her website at http://ceciliaaclark.blogspot.com.au. She contributed an illustration to this anthology.



One person who comments on this post (and is signed up for the challenge) will win a custom fairy creation using their photo (instructions on how to take the photo for my use will be sent to the winner). The fairy photo manipulation can be of you, your child, you and your child or even of more than one child, if they are in the photo together.

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Just Keep Writing - guest post by Dani Duck (plus give-away) #ChaBooChaLite



I've been wracking my brain for days now trying to figure out what to write about. It has to be something amazing and wonderful at this point. Some guru advice that you'll take to heart. At this point I'll be happy if one of you remember this post. Instead of big sage advice I'm going to tell you here what I tell everyone: Just keep writing!

When you do an event like ChaBooCha it's easy to become overwhelmed. There is so much to write and so little time to write! It's not just that you want a certain number of words on the page, but you want to have a complete first draft. It doesn't have to be perfect but you probably want to have a beginning, a middle, and (here's the shocker) an end to your story! And somehow through it all it has to make sense. I'll say yes, you do want a beginning, middle and end. As for the sense, we'll leave that for later.

Your only goal this month is to put your story down on paper. You need to open your story, have a climax and then get the heck out of dodge as fast as your legs can carry you. This is not the time to edit your story!

Here's some non-editing questions no one asked me, but I'm going to answer anyway:

“But what about spelling errors?” No! Let them be. If you called Frieda, Fred by mistake write it down on the notepad beside you (chances are you will make the mistake again) and keep writing. Also, shame on you for forgetting her name!

“What about plot holes?” If you can fix them later in the story or if you can write more to fix them then do so. Otherwise leave them for the cleanup crew (ie: you, when you edit the work).

“But ____ isn't perfect.” It's called a first draft for a reason, people! You have a month to finish this draft, so you don't have time to make it perfect.

“None of this makes sense!” The mind has an amazing way of sorting things out. If you think that things aren't making sense, first go to the doctor and see if something's wrong there. Otherwise, just let your story be a bit nonsensical. Your unconscious mind probably knows what it's doing, so worry about that in editing (or not. I love nonsense!)

“I've written enough words to finish the story. I'm all done for the month!” Get your tush back in front of the screen, fluffy, and keep writing. When you edit your story it will be far too short. Keep writing until your fingers crack and bleed or the end of the month comes (you know whatever comes first). If it's the bleeding thing, then bandage your fingers and get back to writing!

And that's all I can say about that.


Dani Duck has been writing for more years than humanly possible. Her current feat is living through her 3.5 year old's reign of terror. She lives somewhere southish of Vancouver. Dani has also been married longer than she has been born, so tough luck to you! Website: http://www.daniduck.com/ Blog: www.daniduckart.com



I have made another charm bookmark (cat-themed) and one person who's is signed up for the challenge and comments on this post will be chosen by a random number generator to win it! The winner will be announced on September 30th, 2014.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Writing Snippets - Guest post by Melissa Gijsbers (plus a giveaway)! #ChaBooChaLite

My 10 year old son is a budding composer. He loves how different notes sound on the piano and putting them together to make a piece of music. He has an amazing ability to tell a story using music.

A couple of months ago, I sat and watched him with his piano teacher as they told the story of a train leaving the platform and a man who missed that train because he was caught in the toilet!

Most recently, he’s been playing around with Garage Band, an app on my iPad that helps with composing music. Right now, he’s working on a piece about feeling sick and recording snippets of music he plays on the piano ready to mix later. Often, he’ll hear them back and think they’re rubbish, but his piano teacher told him to never delete them. You never know when they’ll be perfect to put into a composition.

What does this have to do with writing chapter books? I hear you ask. Hang in there, it will become clear.

I find that there are some days I sit down to write and will write a snippet of a story. It may be a scene, or a paragraph or a single line. Sometimes I look at this snippet and think it’s rubbish and should be thrown away, but I keep it.

I’ve found that every now and again, I’ll stumble on that snippet and find it’s the basis for a story or will fit perfectly into something I’m already writing. That character name I jotted down on the back of a receipt while I was driving might be the perfect name for my next villain, or the paragraph I wrote as part of an exercise at writers group might be the perfect opening to a new story. That silly line I wrote while waiting to pick up kids from after school activities might even fit to help me get over a major bout of writer’s block.

Believe it or not, a snippet written while waiting for school pick-up formed the basis of Swallow Me, NOW! the manuscript I wrote during the March 2013 Chapter Book Challenge and is now due for release next month.

Hold on to those snippets of writing, just as my son holds on to his snippets of composition. You never know when they may be just the line of text you are looking for.

Melissa Gijsbers is an Australian author and blogger. She has had flash fiction stories feature in a number of anthologies and her first children’s book, Swallow Me, NOW! is due for release in October 2014. 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 MelissaGijsbers.com or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/melissagijsbers.

LINK: Swallow Me, NOW!   


One person who comments on this post (and is signed-up for the challenge) will win a handmade charm bookmark made by me (Becky). Winner will be selected by a random number generator and announced on September 30th, 2014.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Inspiration from a ‘when I can' writer - guest post by Kelly McDonald #ChaBooChaLite

So you want to be a writer hey? Me too…

Oh, I mean… I AM a writer. But does that mean you have to write everyday. Well, my mentor says I should. All the how-to books say, of course, and every second reader out there will say DEFINITELY!

But me, I say no! I am a writer. I write very well thank you! I love writing. It’s something I need to do, it is something I love to do, I even have a few things published… but you know what? Sometimes life gets in my way.

I have work, school kids, babies, a new business, an old business, a husband, a house to clean, a life… but you know that  in any case, every chance I get free, you will find me…asleep!

Yep. Snoring! Sometimes at 8 pm, as soon as the big kids asleep. (Hopefully, the little kid is already in dream land.)

But sometimes, maybe every few days, or every other week, I get to write.

I, me, Kelly, steps aside, and my characters come out to play. My fingers whirl across the keyboard. My heart races, as my belly clenches in fear at what dangers lurk ahead for my hero and heroines.

And I do it. I write. And all is well in my world for a day or two, or three, or a week, until I can ride away once more on an adventure in my written work.

And then, there are those nights, when just before you go to sleep, a new character pops up and wakes you up! You just have to write something out before you forget what your new character was telling you.

In the morning, on the back page of the book you were reading, or your hubby’s head, or your pillow case, is scrawled a couple of barely legible lines of what some may call writing.

In a day, or two, or three, maybe a week… you sit before an empty page and try to recreate what that character, now a distant memory, was trying to tell you.

Don’t give up, life had its moments, and yours, (and mine) will come. You are a writer. Write when you can. It will come together in the end. I have faith in you!
Let’s do it together!

Sometimes life gets in the way, but YOU ARE a writer. DO it when you can. Think of it when you cant, join challenges, like ChaBooCha to keep you going and give you deadlines and challenges to meet. But don’t fret. You are a writer. And we are here for you!

Kelly McDonald has been entertaining with stories and magic for more than 15 years as the Magical Faerie Crystall. She is married with two beautiful children and spends as much time on her writing and art as possible. She has been involved in many challenges and groups, including 12x12, Chapter Book Challenge and WOWnonfiction. Kelly has been awarded a first and third in the Australian CYA conference, and has numerous Commended and Highly Commended awards for her writing. Her fantasy art can be found at www.facebook.com/gardenbabies or http://www.gardenbabyfaeries.webs.com and her author page is www.facebook.com/kelly.mcd.author.illustrator.



If you are signed up for ChaBooCha Lite, comment on this post and you will be entered to win your choice of an inspirational magnet from this section of my shop. (The magnet pictured above is just one example.) Winner will be drawn by a random number generator  and announced on September 30th.

Monday, 15 September 2014

"Teapot Tales: Pirates, Mermaids and Monsters of the Sea" Book Blast and Giveaway!

“I'm no longer a child and I still want to be, to live with the pirates. Because I want to live forever in wonder. The difference between me as a child and me as an adult is this and only this: when I was a child, I longed to travel into, to live in wonder. Now, I know, as much as I can know anything, that to travel into wonder is to be wonder. So it matters little whether I travel by plane, by rowboat, or by book. Or, by dream. I do not see, for there is no I to see. That is what the pirates know. There is only seeing and, in order to go to see, one must be a pirate.” ~Kathy Acker

"Teapot Tales: Pirates, Mermaids and Monsters of the Sea" is having its very own book blast and giveaway in honor of "Talk Like a Pirate Day" which falls on September 19th this year.

About the anthology:
In the spirit of “Teapot Tales: A Collection of Unique Fairy Tales” is this wonderful second volume of short stories to enjoy! With stories to enchant readers of all ages, this collection of pirate and mermaid stories will open your eyes to the magic that can be found under the sea. Let yourself be pulled into the magical worlds found within these stories. From pirates and sea monsters to kind-hearted mermaids and flesh-eating sirens, let these charming ocean tales sweep you away into the realm of fantasy. With twenty-six stories, including four poems, written by seventeen different authors from around the world, “Teapot Tales: Pirates, Mermaids and Monsters of the Sea” is a wonderful collection of short stories, each story just long enough to enjoy with a cup of tea.
The proceeds from this anthology go exclusively towards providing for the Chapter Book Challenge, and the stories in this anthology were written and illustrated entirely by ChaBooCha members.

There are two separate versions of the book, both in kindle and paperback, a version with US spellings and a UK edition with UK spellings and language.

This is the second volume of the Teapot Tales anthologies. The first one was published in 2013, and it was called "Teapot Tales: A Collection of Unique Fairy Tales."

“Darwin may have been quite correct in his theory that man descended from the apes of the forest, but surely woman rose from the frothy sea, as resplendent as Aphrodite on her scalloped chariot.” ~Margot Datz, "A Survival Guide for Landlocked Mermaids"

Other Book Blast Participants:(Go check out their blogs!)

Julia Stilchen

Melissa Gijsbers

Ashley Howland

Imagine! Create! Write!

Melissa Writes

Melusine Muse Press

Jo Hart

Now that you know all about this wonderful anthology, it's time to let you know what the you might win by filling in the Rafflecopter for this giveaway.

mini poster print

Teapot Tales Volume 1 and Volume 2

- a print copy of "Teapot Tales" (Volume 2)

- a kindle copy of "Teapot Tales" (Volume 2)

 - a mermaid-themed bookmark (with charms)


- a magnet with the "Teapot Tales" (Volume 2) cover on it

- a mini poster print of the "Teapot Tales" (Volume 2) book cover

- an e-book copy of "Swallow Me, Now" by Melissa Gijsbers

To enter for a chance to win one of the above prizes listed above, fill in the Rafflecopter. Come back and check in as new prizes will be added and new ways to earn points. The winners will be chosen and announced on September 25th.

How to Avoid Writer's Block and Get Your Story Written #ChaBooChaLite

In my third year participating in NaNoWriMo, I set a goal of writing 10,000 words every three days until I reached 50,000 words, and I beat that goal by reaching a word count of 50,020 words within the first two weeks. The following year during National Novel Writing Month, I wrote 100,126 words within the 30 days of the challenge. These are some of the strategies I used while writing my novel for NaNoWriMo. (This is reposted from Blog Your Book in 30 Days.)

This is the half-way point in your writing, and for many, this is the point, when writing, that writer's block can sneak up on you or you might start feeling a lack of enthusiasm for your story. It's also possible that you have continued writing daily until this point, but you don't feel that you are getting the word count you were hoping for. Here are some tips that will help you to avoid writer's block and produce a high word count over the next two weeks.

1. Split your focus between different parts of the story-line. By writing different parts of your book at different times, whenever you feel stuck on what you are writing or just need a break from it, you will be able to switch to a different story to write about. This can work when writing a one-story novel or a non-fcition book as well. When you get stuck on a certain part of the book or just need a break from what you are writing, start on a different scene within the story or a different chapter within your non-fiction book. You can always go back to finish the one you started with and when you do, you will feel refreshed and full of new ideas.

2. Set aside as much time as you can spare for writing. You may find that you can sneak more writing time into your day than you originally thought was possible. If you're a parent, you can write when your kids are at school, when your youngest takes a nap, or when all of the children go to bed. Maybe you will stay up late to write. Take a notebook with you everywhere and write while on the bus or while waiting at the doctor's office. Wake up early to write before everyone else is up or before you have to leave for work.

3. Get rid of distractions during your writing time. Many things constitute distractions. Children can be very distracting, so write when they were in bed or at school. The TV is distracting, so make sure it is off when you are writing. Facebook and Twitter are distracting, so tell yourself that you will reach a specific word count before allowing yourself time on either site.

4. Challenge yourself. Try and beat your best record for word count in a day. Or look at how your friends are doing and try to beat their word count. Think of a daily word count that seems slightly out of reach for you and then challenge yourself to find a way to reach it that day.

5. Believe in yourself. No matter what obstacles seem to be in the way of you reaching your word count goal, believe that you will overcome them. Because you can.

6. Make writing a priority. There may be a lot of things that have to be priorities in your life, but if you are reading this, then there is at least a part of you that wants to make writing a priority too. So do it. Make writing something you will not allow yourself to set aside.

7. Get rid of your internal editor. Just write without looking back. When you finish your novel, you can go back and edit what you have written, but just let it go while you are in the middle of writing. You can't edit writing that hasn't been written.

8. When you are not writing your novel, talk about it with others. Not only is this helpful in coming up with new ideas or ways for you to think about your plot, but also, just the act of talking about it will help you to come up with new ideas on your own.

9. Give yourself a break from writing every now and then. Sometimes a change of scenery is all it takes to give yourself fresh ideas and keep the writing flowing.

10. And the one thing that is the most important is to have fun with your story! Enjoy every second of the world you are creating!


And now to announce the winners of the first two prizes!

The winner of the journal is:

Melissa Khalinsky

Congratulations, Melissa!


The winner of the mock book cover is

Kelly Vavala!

Congratulations, Kelly! (Please e-mail me with your book title and any ideas you have for the cover.)