How to get into the head of “one VERY unlikable character”

Award-winning author Liberty Henwick

Here’s the premise of award-winning writer Liberty Henwick’s novel-in-progress, P.S.: Agony aunt and magazine journalist Jennifer Pendergast inadvertently uncovers a crime ring in Johannesburg, leading her into the dangerous world of game poaching. As she follows the trail, she soon realises that everything she loves will be at stake, and she must fight not to become a victim herself.

Sound exciting? That’s because it is! And what follows is an excerpt that the author considers very important.

“It’s a pivotal moment in the story,” Liberty told me when I asked her to choose her favorite part. “It has been interesting and challenging trying to get into the heads of one unlikable character, and one very unlikable character.”

Smit leant forward and stared at me, his eyes small and cold in his pale freckled face. I felt the hot tightness from my stomach spread up through my chest. He stood up from behind his desk and came around to where I stood, coming up close to my ear, he dropped his voice. “I think you like the money we have been giving you but now it’s gone, and you are in a bit of trouble, no?”

I turned sharply to look at him and swallowed, my mouth was dry, my fists bunched but he continued.

“And the only way we will give it back to you is if you give us a little help.”

I stared down at my shoes, sweat prickled my forehead. “Who…? Sorry Baas, I don’t understand.”

He hissed between his teeth, little drops of his spit hit my cheek and ear. “You see Sam, I need you to work for us to find those rhino on our night raids, before the other boys do. I need you to keep the other boys from spotting my men from Mozambique before they take the horn. That horn is making me some good money. And now you too, and if you don’t help me,” he paused and looked towards the door to listen for a second, “I will tell the cops that you are just another kaffir taking illegal money from the poachers and helping them.”

It felt as if I’d been slapped in the face.

P.S. won the “Fan Favorite” award this year, and is currently the #1 book on ChapterBuzz.

Stop by and be a part of Liberty’s journey!


You’ll never go into the woods again after reading this

The prologue grabs you:

Noli Meyers just wanted a cigarette. She had gone down the road a bit so her dad wouldn’t catch her lighting up. She was too young to buy them for herself, her friend Angela had gotten this pack.

She’d been smoking for a few years now since she’d turned thirteen. It was a dare at first to see who, between her and her friends, would steal a pack from the market. She had been the one to get them, almost getting caught by Jim Rivers, the owner.

When she had gone back outside to her friends, they screamed with delight and ran for the cemetery.

So begins Cynthia Jensen’s thriller-in-progress, The Girl in the Woods, about a couple that finds a girl in the woods, hurt and unable to communicate.

And after tapping out over 11,000 words during October’s 10K Social Writing Challenge, it gets even more exciting from there.

Have a read and help Cynthia move up to that #1 spot on the chart!

Spy craft training: “Use it like your life depends on it”

Tier IV Author and retired Lieutenant Colonel Lazarus Thompson

During the month of October, writers like Lazarus Thompson were hard at work at ChapterBuzz, intent on making 10,000 words’ worth of progress on their novels.

And this month I’d like to introduce you to some of the most determined of those writers, like Lazarus, who brings a wide-ranging military background to his novel-in-progress, Team Fail-Safe: Thirty Seconds to Critical Mass.

Team Fail-Safe is about an eight-person Army Intelligence/Spy team assigned to bring down an unscrupulous and corrupt North Korean General, who manages to stay two steps ahead of them—while supplying Eastern Fundamentalists with small nuclear tactical arms that they could use to bring down the United States.

Asked to choose his favorite passage, Lazarus sent me the following. “I wanted to immediately introduce tension in the chapter,” he told me. “I wanted the reader to know ‘what happens next’ at the beginning instead of using a cliff hanger at the end of the chapter.”

Have a read:

“Bring your spy craft training to your mind. Use it like your life depends on it.”

Staying in character as a Kenyan General with two Russian bodyguards, they walked with Cowboy in front, Mungo in the middle, and Dude following.

They entered the dining car […] their eyes, now super critical, scanned, saw, and interpreted every nuance of every facial tic.

Their rational minds catalogued and compared against their spy craft every bodily movement […] and cataloged each scanned person as “possibly unfriendly” or “definitely unfriendly.” They saw no “neutrals” and no “friendlies” in the crowd, no one they could reach out to, if need be, for help.

Some of the diners in the railcar […] looked at them once, dismissed their presence, and looked away to continue with their meals.

Others, however, who had been instructed to neutralize the trio, did not look away. They gave away their intentions by ever so small tells: The widening of their eyes […] an ever so slight pause in movement […] an open-faced malevolent glare of recognition […] cool glances of appraisal of the trio’s abilities to do harm.

The casual study of the trio by one General Jagwi did not escape their notice.

Intrigued? Have any comments or suggestions for the author? Check out Team Fail-Safe on ChapterBuzz!

Cuckoo clocks, roosters, and Slavic Pagan beliefs. Here’s a book that covers all three

Tier IV Author Patricia Robin Woodruff

Writers, I’m back! Miss me?

I spent October over at ChapterBuzz, organizing the semi-annual 10K Social Writing Challenge. Novelists were given 31 days to write 10,000 words—some starting from 0, others halfway done.

And I’m telling you, some seriously good books are taking shape.

Patricia Robin Woodruff is writing one of those books, The Roots of Slavic Magic: Finding Our Way Back to Balance. During the Challenge month alone, she wrote 20,000 words!

Even though The Roots of Slavic Magic is more of a non-fiction research tome than a novel, the subject matter in Patricia’s book is endlessly intriguing.

Here’s the premise:

What does the cuckoo clock have to do with the Slavic goddess of water? Why are roosters on weathervanes? What do Slavic Pagan beliefs have to do with the Philadelphia Mummers Parade? These fascinating questions are answered in depth in this reevaluation of the Slavic Pantheon that gets to the heart of this religion and its deep magic. By unearthing ancient petroglyphs and archeological sites, and analyzing secret traditions carried on for millennia, we discover anew the balanced energies and magic of the Slavic peoples.

According to Patricia, this passage from the book’s introduction “forms the essence of who I am, what I believe and why I do what I do.” Have a read:

I sat down as usual and started writing whatever came into my head … but this morning it was different. As I wrote, it was almost as if a vision unfolded before me. I could see to the beginnings of the universe. Everything condensed into one single point, which exploded outward, filling the emptiness with matter. All the matter/energy of the universe, forming and coalescing into suns and planets. Our tiny planet spinning and transforming. The energy solidifying into matter, becoming water and land and living things. Single-celled creatures mutating and transforming into more and more complex forms. Complex living things in the ocean, moving onto land, transforming and changing … The words flowed out of my pen so swiftly, sentences had no time to form completely.

We are all made of “star stuff.” We are matter. We are energy. We are continuing the process of creation by the will of the Creator. We imagine things and then we turn that energy … into art, relationships, writing or inventions.

Check out The Roots of Slavic Magic and help Patricia climb the ChapterBuzz charts!

No more excuses, my novelist friend. Last chance to enter this Writing Challenge!

Learn more about TimSunday, Sunday, Sunday!

The biggest writing event this side of NaNoWriMo kicks off October 1st, and we don’t want to leave you in the proverbial dust, so be sure to get on board now!

And when I say “biggest,” I mean possibly the most significant step you’ll take as an up-and-coming novelist—opportunities to meet fellow authors, get feedback on your work, and start growing your fan base abound.

Not to mention…

You could win an award for your novel-in-progress. Think about that: you could be an award-winning writer by next month!

Hurry, we’re peelin’ outta here Sunday morning!

Are you joining us for this Challenge? Our pens are at the ready

Learn more about TimWriter, there’s still time!

Time to hop on board as we all get ready to journey through October on a coffee-fueled, will-testing writing marathon to advance our literary careers by 10,000 words and a burgeoning fan base.

It’s the ChapterBuzz 10K Social Writing Challenge!

In case you’ve been living under a rock and haven’t heard, the Challenge is your chance to:

  • Write 10,000 words
  • Start building a fan base
  • Get valuable feedback
  • Meet your fellow authors
  • Be in the running for a book award

Are you in? You look like the kind of person who is.

But hurry—this ship sails in 2 days!

Sign up today:

You’re an aspiring novelist. Let’s remove the ‘aspiring’ part

Aspire no more! Your dream is about to get a whole lot closer to reality.

This is what the ChapterBuzz 10K Social Writing Challenge is all about: spending the month of October writing, becoming a part of our writers’ community, and getting a 10,000-word headstart on your novel.

You may be thinking, “But 10,000 words is not an entire novel!”

You’re absolutely right. But I’d rather see you produce 10,000 quality words—that you can fine-tune with help from our community—than just write for the sake of filling up space and meeting a HUGE word count quota.

Can you do it? It takes focus, but at less than 350 words a day, it’s manageable. It’s also worth it: we had some amazing books emerge from the last Challenge.

You’ve always wanted to write a novel. This is your chance! Sign up today