Friday, 14 April 2017

Day 14 - Tips for Creating Fantasy Creatures #BYBin30

J. K. Rowling is very skilled at creating unique magical creatures, from dementors to nifflers. The creatures she has created have, in many cases, become a part of the larger mythology in the world.

Much of my writing is in the fantasy and urban fantasy genres. This means that, on many occasions, I need to create some fantasy creatures. I can also use creatures from legend and myth, such as unicorns and griffins, but sometimes, I need to create a creature that is completely unique and unheard of before.

In doing this, I've come up with some tips which might help you create your own fantasy creatures, if you ever get stuck for ideas.

1. Research creatures from available mythology. Looking through the creatures that are already a part of legend and myth can help inspire new ideas for creatures.

2. Take creatures from legend and myth and add something or take something away from them to make them unique. A unicorn covered in scales with dragon wings is very different from a traditional unicorn. A unique attribute can set your creature apart.

3. Take normal every day animals and give them unique attributes. A golden retriever with wings might make local ducks nervous, but if your ducks have sharp razor-like teeth and as large as a horse, they might not be as easy for the retrievers to prey upon.

3. Give your creatures unique abilities. Your creature might look like a typical horse, but the difference is that it breathes fire and can turn invisible. Sometimes you need something other than a change in appearance to make your creature different.

4.  Use your imagination and create something completely from scratch. This can be the more difficult option for creating your creature but also the most rewarding. Stretch your imaginative limits.

5. Name your character something that is easy to pronounce. You don't want your reader to be tripping over how to say the name of your creature every time they read the word.

Hope these tips help!


Today's give-away is a copy of Writing Monsters: How to Create Believably Terrifying Creatures to Enhance your Horror, Fantasy and Science Fiction by Philip Athans. If you are a signed-up member of the challenge, then leave a comment on this post and you will be entered into the drawing. Winner will be chosen by a random number generator on April 30th.

Friday, 7 April 2017

Day 7 - Story Trope: The Chosen One #BYBin30

Stories, TV and films often rely on certain story tropes, such as the alien invasion and the hero that fights for all of humanity. They often tend to be tied quite strongly to genre. For example, while the trope of the Chosen One can originally be seen as closely tied in with high fantasy stories, such as you see with Frodo in J.R.R. Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings," it is currently seen quite often in YA novels.

For some well-known examples, there is the character Katniss Everdeen in Suzanne Collins' "The Hunger Games" series, the character Tris in Veronica Roth's "Divergent" series, the character Clary Fray of Cassandra Clare's "The Mortal instruments" series, or the character Buffy in Joss Whedon's "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," amongst a host of others.

The Chosen One is special. She or he is the only one who can do a certain thing; whether that is opening a special lock, finding a specific treasure or performing a type of magic, it usually ties in with saving the world. In most cases, she or he is the only one who can save the world.

I admit that I enjoy reading about Chosen Ones and I often write them as leads in my stories. Do you have any chosen ones in your stories? Let me know in the comments.



Today's give-away is a copy of "Writing Magic: Creating Stories that Fly" by Gail Carson Levine. If you are a signed up member of this challenge, then all you need to do to be entered into the drawing is comment on this post. The winner will be selected by a random number generator on April 30th.

Sunday, 2 April 2017

Day 2 - How a working book cover can help your muse #BYBin30

The above picture is of a working book cover I made for the novel I was writing last year during Blog Your Book in 30 Days and Camp NaNoWriMo.  It is not the official cover for the book. The final book cover will probably look nothing like the above image. But it was fun to make and having an image to have in place for the book cover gave me a bit of a kick in the pants to keep writing.

During Camp NaNoWriMo, members are encouraged to create a book cover to use as a thumbnail image for their project. Having a working cover is an inspirational tool to use. Your story is calling to you to write it and now it has ammunition in the form of an image to call to you with.

Another trick, if you don't want to make a simple image for your book cover, or you don't have the necessary skills to do so, is to look up images of people who look like the vision you have for your characters.

Below are some random images of men and women, found easily on royalty-free image sites such as

 And here are some "working" images I made for some of my children's NaNoWriMo stories last year (two of whom used the covers for their published books):

Just make sure that you don't spend so much time on this that you don't get your writing done. It can be a fun and inspirational tool to use during your writing, but, used incorrectly, it can also become another distraction that keeps you from writing.


There will be a giveaway of random things on the posts on the 7th, the 14th and the 28th of this month.

Saturday, 1 April 2017

Welcome to Blog Your Book in 30 Days 2017! #BYBin30

Today is the first day of the Blog Your Book in 30 Days 2016 challenge! We have our own badge, if you'd like to use it.

First, for those of you who are new, here's a bit of information about the challenge (which you can also find by clicking on some of the links at the top of the page).

About the challenge:

Blog Your Book in 30 Days is a challenge to write the first draft of your book by posting one chapter a day for an entire month. During the month of the challenge, helpful blog posts will be shared on the website.

The challenge is here to help you write the book you have always wanted to write but have never written. Whether you want to write a memoir, a fiction novel, a comic book, a children's chapter book or middle grade novel or a non-fiction book, this challenge is going to help you get it done.

Every day, you are going to do any research that is needed for the day's writing and your are going to post a blog post of one chapter of your book. By the end of the month, you should have 30 chapters and a completed first draft.

This way of writing your books works best if you are planning to self-publish your book, but there are some instances where blogs have garnered the attention of agents and publishers and resulted in book deals. Those instances are the exception though, not the rule.

But the rules are much more flexible than they may seem by reading the "about" section, so here are the rules (which can also be found by clicking on one of the links at the top of the page).

The rules of the challenge:

Sign up. You will not be entered into the prize drawings unless you are signed up.  Sign up here.

You have from the first of the month until the 30th of the month to complete the first draft of your book. No starting early, unless it is only research and outline you are working on beforehand.

On the 7th, 14th, 21st, 28th and 30th of the month, you will do a quick comment on that day's blog post posted on this blog about that week stating how the week has gone for you and anything you have learned or achieved from the challenge that week. Your comment might be quoted in the Blog Your Book in 30 Days book when it comes out or later in the blog itself and, by commenting, you are giving permission for your quote to be used. (You will be named with the quote.)

Each day, you are to write one chapter and then copy and paste it into your day's blog post. By the end of the challenge, you should have a final word count. On the 30th, your comment will include your final word count and whether or not you have finished your first draft. Everyone who completes their first draft will be entered into a prize drawing. (The prize this year is a collection of different, mostly home-made things, and the items will be pictured on the blog as we go through the challenge, one thing at a time.) Every time you leave a comment on (one comment per post) a blog post, you will earn one more entry into the drawing. Your comments on the 7th, 14th, 21st, 28th and 30th will earn you two entries into the drawing, and my favourite comment from each of those five days will earn an extra entry. 

This challenge is self-driven and monitored. It is a way to keep yourself accountable as you write.

There are some optional ways of following this challenge for those who plan on having their books published traditionally rather than self-published.

1. Write your one chapter every day, but only post on your blog about the writing, such as how much you wrote, what part of the story you were working on, what was easy about it, what was difficult about it, whether it stayed on plan or strayed from the original plot idea, etc. (Have you made a book cover for your book, even just a working cover? Share that too!)

2. Write your one chapter every day, but only post a small (one paragraph) excerpt from that day's writing as your blog post for the day.

3. Blog your book as per the original plan, but leave out important chapters, which will only be seen in the finished product. (This is mostly a good idea for those who plan on self-publishing, but not so much if you plan on submitting your book elsewhere. But it's still an option if you are certain you can build up a large following for your book as a publisher will take that into account.)

4. Use this challenge to edit a previously written book and make notes on the blog about the editing process as you work through the different issues in your book.

The main point of this challenge is to get your book written and to build up a following for it before it comes out. 

Good luck!

Go ahead and grab a badge from below:

The first time I ran this challenge, I wrote a daily blog post on different topics having to do with writing. Feel free to read through previous posts. My posts might not be as informative during this challenge in 2017, but I intend to make sure you will have at least one informative post to learn from each week.

Friday, 17 June 2016

Human 76: Fragments of a Fractured World - a post-apocalyptic anthology #Human76

“Quiet, you fool! You’re safe now!” Rough hands gripped Ghabrie. A kestrel swooped but Ghabrie could not hear its call. She could hear only Nahria’s shriek. Ghabrie strained to glimpse her little sister through the mass of rebellion warriors and Prometheans. The two sides were withdrawing, both claiming their spoils and retreating. Ghabrie thrashed: kicking, biting, struggling against strong arms that restrained her. “Nahria, I’ll come for you!” The butt of a rifle thumped the side of her head as her words still echoed across the barren landscape. Ghabrie slipped into an oblivion brought by the hands of her liberators. Fourteen authors take you on an unprecedented post-apocalyptic journey.

It's here! The post-apocalyptic anthology written by fourteen authors, including me, is available for purchase. While each story is separate, they all connect in some way and are all a part of the same world. I've read the stories by the other authors and I can assure you that you will love the stories within this anthology.

My story is called "The Oasis" and is about a young girl, born after the Blast, named Mags who has some special abilities.

The book is free in e-book form for a limited time, so grab your copy soon!

And the really special thing abut the book is that proceeds from sales of the book will be put towards the Water is Life charity, global charity that provides clean drinking water, sanitation and hygiene education programs to schools and villages in desperate need worldwide. Our book is about those displaced and struggling to survive in a dangerous world and this charity fits perfectly with our stories. So when you buy the book you will be helping those in need.

Here are some links to check out:

Go here for the paperback.

Go here for the e-book.

Go here to find out how the idea for this anthology came about.

Go here for more information about how the e-book was put together.

Go here to follow the Human 76 Facebook page.

And go here to find out more about the Water is Life charity.

Saturday, 30 April 2016

Last day of the Blog Your Book in 30 Days 2016 challenge #BYBin30

Today is the last day of the challenge. I hope everyone had managed to complete the challenge! If not, I hope you have done more than you would have done without the challenge.

It's time to announce the winner of all of those prizes mentioned during the challenge.

The winner is:

Melissa Gijsbers

Congratulations, Melissa!

Thursday, 28 April 2016

Getting your blogged content ready for publication #BYBin30

So you've been blogging your book, and you think you have enough content now to put together into a book for publication. What's next? today's focus will be on what is next for those of you who have been blogging a non-fiction book.

There are several steps you need to take before you will have a quality book ready to publish.

1. You need to comb through all of your blogged content and select the posts that you want to use in your book. If you've been blogging about the craft of writing but some of your posts are more personal, such as a post about something cute your daughter said when she was a toddler, then you need to make sure that all inappropriate content or off-topic posts are eliminated from your selection.

2. You need to edit the content you have chosen. This type of editing is more than just proofreading and checking your content for inconsistency. While you need to edit your content in the usual ways, you also need to be altering it based on the fact that, when you first write it, you were writing with your blog audience in mind. Although you intend to carry over some of that audience, there will be differences in your book audience, and there will be differences in how your content is presented.

3. You need to choose the order for your blog topics in your book. Which blog posts will fit better early on in the book and which ones need to be at the end? If you are writing about weight loss and dieting, you might want the posts about starting our on a new weight loss regime to be at the beginning of your book and the posts about maintaining your weight loss to be towards the end of the book. 

4. You need to write a foreword. Your foreword is to be an introduction to your book topic. You can include a lot of information in this foreword, including your reasons for writing the book. Why will your readers want to continue reading? Let them know in the foreword exactly why they will want to read the rest of the book.

If your book has been picked up by a publisher, then chances are good that your publisher will do the rest of this list for you. If you are self-publishing, then you will need to complete the rest of this list yourself.

5. You need to format your book (if you don't already have a publisher who will do this and the rest of the work on this list for you). You can pay someone to do this or do it yourself. Your book's format should work in both an e-book and a paperback book version, if you plan on publishing it in both formats. (When writing a non-fiction book, especially a how-to book, I recommend publishing in both formats. While a lot of people are turning towards e-books for their reading, many people using a non-fiction book for information and learning will want to be able to make written notes as they read and paperback is their preferred format).

6. You need critique partners. Let your critique partners read your book and give you their feedback, then take the feedback from them that you agree with on board and go back to edit your book again.

7. You need your book professionally edited. Even if you edit for a living, an unbiased set of eyes from someone else who is used to editing books for publication can be enormously helpful in helping you to see where you might have gone wrong with your book or in which areas it can be improved upon.

8. You need beta readers. Once your book is fully edited and revised, and it is formatted perfectly, send it out to beta readers for an initial response. Beta readers can inform you if something isn't working for them, and they can also let you know when your book is ready for the wider world to see it. Make sure they are people who are interested in your topic. Bonus points if some of your beta readers are already knowledgeable in the topic you have written about.

9. You need to write a blurb and a one sentence tag line. Not all books have tag lines, but those tag lines can be helpful in drawing in your readers and you need a blurb for the back of your paperback book and to use in your book's description on the sites you will be selling it on.

10. You need an ISBN. If you are self-publishing your book, then you need an ISBN for your book. These can be bought and vary in price depending on what country you are in and how many ISBNs you buy at a time. If you are going to publish through CreateSpace or a similar company, they can provide you with a free ISBN, but then that company is the one that will, officially, be the publisher of your book. If you buy your own ISBN, either you or the company name you use when you buy the ISBN will be listed as the publisher on official records.

11. You need a book cover. You need an eye-catching book cover for both e-book and paperback formats. It needs to look professional and it needs to draw your readers to it. You want your reader to take one look at your book cover and think, "That's a book I'd like to read."

12. You need a street team and/or a group of bloggers to help you spread the word about your book. You need a plan in place to promote your book and inform people that your book is being launched. you need to be letting people on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn and several other social media platforms know about your book, but you need to do this in a way that isn't pushy or spammy. You need to get people engaged with your content.

13. You need reviews. This can often be the most difficult part of publishing a book. Paid reviews are frowned upon and Amazon has been known for removing reviews from people they suspect an author knows already (so friends and family). You need to get people reading your book and for those readers to leave reviews. Maybe you can use incentives for reviews such as prize drawings and such for people who leave reviews.


This is just one of the prizes that you might win at the end of the challenge. One of these will be added to the collection of prizes that one signed up member will win during the drawing on April 30th.