1, 4 or 5 Stars: Why to Review Right Now

BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog

You can do something for me today. For every author you know. For even the authors you don’t. An act of literary citizenship that takes 7-10 minutes. Sure, you can spend time and/or money to be a literary citizen—hosting events, blogging, editing or reading for a journal—or contribute gently to your community by giving thoughtful feedback in your own writing group. But to actually help authors sell books, for free, right now:

Write a review.

Not “pitch a review to a literary publication,” although that’s great, too. Not “write a 900-word blog post balancing serious critique with just enough praise.” Not “read the book twice for fairness and highlight quotes and eventually put something up in a couple of months.” Just write and post a short review, right away.

  • Write a review of 3-10 sentences. Maybe quote one line you really liked.
  • Post to Amazon, where you can usually review…

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Updating my CV

I spent the better part of the day updating my CV. It’s a lot of work! I had to check when certain things were published, etc.

Then I read online about the cover letter, how it’s supposed to be like a marketing tool to help you get that dream job. For someone who struggles to promote herself it has been a nightmare. Either I come across as too prideful or too modest. I can never quite find that middle ground.

However, the good thing about updating my CV is that, at a time when I feel quite down because of Covid, it demonstrated that I have achieved a great deal. I had quite a few poems published in magazines and anthologies.

The cherry on the cake for me is the publication of a seminal work ‘Culture and the Liberation Struggle in South Africa: from colonialism to post-apartheid’. I was a contributing editor and it makes me proud to be part of such an important book.

Looking for beta readers


I’ve finished the second draft of my novel and I’m looking for 5 beta readers to give me feedback before attempting the third rewrite. My project is a historical novel of just over 70 000 words which takes place in the 18th Century during slavery at the Cape of Good Hope.

The Buried Chameleon is a literary work told in third person with multiple viewpoints. It has a historical and a contemporary component. The historical story is about the 11-year-old slave, AMBERIKE from Abyssinia. The Dutch school teacher EGBERT falls in love with her; the COOK, an exile from Indonesia, tries to protect her. KLAAS, a soldier from Ambon Island, and the overseer or mandoor, ARIE de Boer de Grood are also interested in Amberike. With so many suitors it is difficult to find the perpetrator when she becomes pregnant after a rape.

The narrative is set in 1713 during the smallpox epidemic. Amberike contracts it, and loses the baby. This changes her from a submissive girl to a woman. The Cook writes a shadow play, which is an ancient Javanese form of cultural expression, about Amberike’s rape. The play encapsulates dominant themes in the novel and, when it is rediscovered in post-apartheid South Africa by the contemporary protagonist, KATY, it is also the link between the past and the present.

The contemporary plot centers on Katy. She is independent, strong-willed, and in a troubled relationship with her husband; NORMAN, who has been retrenched. Their ten-year-old daughter, AMY, is diagnosed with a rare genetic disease. Katy explores her past and discovers that Amberike may be her ancestor.

NB. Due to misuse the contact form has been removed.

Signing with a small publisher? Here’s what to look for. #WritingCommunity #WritingTips

It helps to be careful

Alison Williams Writing

Re-posting some previous posts that followers have told me they found most helpful. Today’s post was written after I had to re-edit, proofread and generally sort out a manuscript that had been published by a vanity press purporting to be a legitimate small press, who had charged the client in question thousands of pounds. In my subsequent ‘nosing about’, I discovered some authors that had been badly let done by small presses. That said, I do appreciate that there are lots of fabulous small presses out there that work incredibly hard for their authors.

I recently wrote a bit of a rant about the quality control of some small presses whose books I had read.

If you are thinking of signing with a small publisher, then do bear a few things in mind.

Do your homework – start off by Googling the publisher. You might find threads on writing sites…

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Three signs that your novel has too many main characters – and what to do

My supervisor told me I have too many characters in my WIP and I came across this post. I like the idea of combining some of my characters. Thus far I have only looked at deleting them and somehow it didn’t work.

Nail Your Novel

5310002921_d790cd7161_bThis is another interesting question from my postbag:

I’m writing an adventure story that takes place over a journey, and we meet many characters. I’ve been told my novel has too many, but when I look at comparison titles, big casts are de rigeur. Kidnapped has 15 named characters, though some are very minor. Treasure Island has six main characters and 15 or more minor named characters. The Silver Sword has six main characters and the same number of minor. The Hobbit has even more. How many should I have?

It’s true that journey stories tend to have large casts. In that respect they’re like the family saga, which begins with a core of characters and gathers and loses key players along the way. The constant flux of personnel is one of the pleasures of the genre. Who’s going to join? Who might leave – or even, die?

But it…

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When You See Who I Am: On Writing Personal Essays

I plan to write personal essays in the coming here.

BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog

By Trish Cantillon

‘Writing the Personal Essay’ was the first formal writing class I’d taken since college. It was also the first nonfiction writing I’d done outside my diary. At the end of the first session, in an effort to provide inspiration for future essays, the instructor gave us ten minutes to write about anything we wanted. No prompt, just a free-write to see what developed.

Without much thought, I jotted down broad strokes of a personal story. It wasn’t anything that had been burning inside me to tell, it just appeared, and I let it out. When the timer went off, he asked who wanted to share. Many hands shot up, including mine. I had shared my fiction writing in workshops over the years and I liked reading my work aloud. I was excited to introduce myself in this way to my fellow writers. The instructor signaled for me…

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