#SoCS July 31, 2021 – Last Click

Hello Peeps! It’s been a long while, but I thought i’d get back on the SoCS horse, so to speak, since I am on summer break!

Linda’s prompt this week:

Your Friday prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday is “the last photo you took.” Take the last photo you snapped. What’s the first word that comes to mind when you look at it? That word is your prompt. Enjoy!

This is the last picture I took, on my phone, and the word that came to mind was ‘Finally!

Above, you see a large grin on my face, as I stand outside our new house with my parents, Pops and Mum, as they finally got to come over to see the house, and finally, I got to see them after nearly a year, due to the pandemic,lockdown, and restrictions!

I’m sure you can imagine the tight hugs, taht have been exchanged many times, the tears of joy at finally being together, and the sheer amount of lovely food that has been consumed, as Mum goes into feed my family overdrive

Gosh, I missed that 🙂

Right, I’m off, again, to go and sit with them, and chat, since they go back tomorrow. What a blissful few days.

8 Steps to Side Characters by @sacha_black #BookReview #PubDay

Today, I have the pleasure of being a part of a very special release day!

Our very own, Sacha Black, has done it again with another cracker of a non fiction release, following on from her gems, 13 Steps To Evil, 10 Steps to Hero, and an absolute favourite of mine, The Anatomy of Prose.

This time we welcome 8 Steps to Side Characters!

Now, Sacha has guided us, in her inimitable way, through how to create the most evil kind of villains and those flawed, yet strong heroes, so it stands to reason that we need some guidance about how to handle all those other characters that make up the bones of our books… so here we have it!

Wanna know more about what it’s all about? Here’s the blurb:

Do your characters fail to bring your story to life? Are they flat, boring or have no depth? Is your story lacking a little cohesion or sparkle?
In 8 Steps to Side Characters, you’ll discover:

+ A step-by-step guide for creating side characters that bring your story alive
+ The main types of side characters and what you should do with them
+ The key to crafting character depth that hooks readers
+ How to harness your character’s voice to deepen your reader’s experience
+ Tips and tricks for using details to enhance characterization
+ Methods for killing characters that will help deepen plot, theme and story
+ Dozens of ideas for creating conflict with your side characters
+ Tactics for differentiating characters and making them feel real to your reader
+ Character archetypes and functions
+ The most common pitfalls and mistakes to avoid

8 Steps to Side Characters is a comprehensive writing guide that will help you create the side characters your story needs. This book is packed with tips and tricks for polishing characters for writers at any level.

If you want to power up your characters, eliminate dull and lifeless archetypes, and perfect your characterization, this is the book for you. By the end of this book, you’ll know how to strengthen your characters to give your story, prose and plot the extra something special it needs to capture a readers and fans for life.

If you like dark humor, learning through examples and want to create better side characters, then you’ll love Sacha Black’s guide to crafting supporting roles with intention, purpose, and power. Read 8 Steps to Side Characters today and start creating kick-ass stories. 

After I read my ebook arc, I was quick to get in there with my request for a signed hard copy of this beaut, too and it will be well thumbed, I can promise you!

My Review

8 steps to Side Characters: How to Craft Supporting Roles with Intention, Purpose, and Power by Sacha Black
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Some authors, you just know you are going to read and enjoy.
And one of those, for me, Sacha Black, has done it again with her next writing craft special, 8 Steps To Side Characters. I’ve loved her previous guides to writing Villains, and Heroes, and the Anatomy of Prose was just ENLIGHTENING!
You know you’re reading a real (Sacha) Black beauty when the first chapter in the book is called F*ck The Rules! Her colourful language embodies all that is Sacha, ensuring a read full of laughs, snorts, and ‘A-ha!’ moments!
There is so much in the book to help you craft your side characters into solid people that readers will understand, and how to use them to push the story forward.
Side characters are fantastic literary devices, but you really do need to know the nuances of how to use them, and also, it’s important to know what kind of side character you are writing… yup, there are several types. Sacha has it all covered!
What a fantastic resource that had me questioning all my side characters, past and present – in a good way. You can always count on Sacha for a dose of ‘Real-talk’ writing advice.
And one of my favourite lines, which I can just hear her saying… (I listen to Sacha’s podcast, so her wonderful British lilt is ingrained in my mind!) “Don’t be an @sshole – they’re full of sh!t rather than words”.
I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

And… she doesn’t just have the Textbook available, as always there is an acompanying Workbook, too. She’s a whip-wielding task master, that Sacha…! But, honestly, if you want to hone your craft, what better way than to work through the exercises designed to strengthen your craft?

Universal purchase link textbook: books2read.com/sidecharacters 

Universal purchase link workbook: books2read.com/sideworkbook

What are you waiting for? Get yourselves out there!

Oh, and if you want more, check out Sacha’s Social Media. There are a whole host of mini tip videos that have been posted over the last few days, and for the next few days, Sacha has some fantastic interviews lined up.

As part of the launch week, I’ll be interviewing nine authors all about their side characters, their favorite side characters from books and films as well as their tips for creating better characters. And I’ll be doing that all LIVE on instagram every night at 8pm from the 30th July to the 8th August.

Sacha Black
  • Friday 30th July – Mark Lefebvre from Stark Reflections on Writing and Publishing Podcast
  • Saturday 31st July Jeff Adams from Big Gay Fiction podcast
  • Sunday 1st August Katlyn Duncan YouTuber and author
  • Monday 2nd August Daniel Willcocks, my Next Level Authors cohost, book coach and horror authors
  • Tuesday 3rd August Crys Cain, host of Write Away, cohost of TASM and author
  • Wednesday 4th August Kristina Stanley, CEO of Fictionary.co
  • Thursday 5th Helen Scheuerer author of fantasy
  • Friday 6th Miranda Bridges romance author
  • Saturday 7th Elaine Bateman urban fantasy author and staff writer at Indie Author Magazine
  • Sunday 8th August – if I haven’t collapsed, will be a solo show from me.

Find Sacha on the following channels:

Facebook: @sachablackauthor

Instagram: @sachablackauthor

Website: http://www.sachablack.co.uk

Chai And A Chat #145 #ChaiAndAChat

Boy am I glad to say this… I am finally on holiday!

Still, an eventful week, as always. Is your drink ready? Mine is, and for once I can drink it while it’s still hot!

  • If we were having chai I’d start by updating you on the final week of school. Wow. Seriously, what a week. It was our last week with our current class, and the emotions ran high, the whole week! We started, on Monday, with a transition day for the children, where they go and meet their prospective teachers for the next year, and spend the day in their soon-to-be classrooms. Usually, I would have the children we will be teaching in, in reception for the morning, too, but this year, being the way it is, we couldn’t do that. Instead, the day was filled with phonecalls to the new pupils parents, introducing ourselves to them, and answering any questions. All I can say is that next week will be very interesting! On Tuesday, another bubble burst in school. This time the Year six classes, which was so sad, as that meant these children were to miss the last ever week of their primary school. The chance to say goodbyes, taken away… it was so sad. That was a class I had from Reception, so I was especially gutted not to have been able to say goodbye to them. We had a mini graduation for our little lovelies, too, which was precious. They all wore a little mortar board had, and had their graduation scrolls created for them, and a photo taken too. We made Little Bags Of Happiness with them, too, as a gifts for them to take home from us, filled with little significant goodies, and a poem attached. They had a film afternoon, and plenty of fun activities, followed by a class dance party before the final day ended. IF you read my Spidey post from yesterday, you will know just how emotional everythig was, and we were spoilt rotten by the parents, I’ll be honest. There were tears but laughter, too!
  • If we were having chai I’d tell you that my head teacher took the leadership team out for a meal on Friday night. That was my first meal out since the pandemic started. It was such a lovely evening, too, with everyone who was able to come, fully relaxed, and happy. And I am pleased to announce, that you are reading the words of the new, permanent EYFS Phase Leader! This year was a trial run, as I wasn’t sure I would cope, but you know what, though I miss the time I can’t be with the children, I have loved having ateam to manage and look after. And to be honest, they are the best team ever. We all gel so well – long may it last. Yes, the responsibilities are huge, but the rewards are just as great… just dreading the thread of OFSTED now, which is due to happen next year!
  • If we were having chai I’d say that outside of school, I have cricketed every night, pretty much this week. We had three lots of training sessions for the North West Kent District team that he has been selected for, as well as two lots of training with the adult teams in his club. Then, well, I am such a proud cricket mum right now. On Saturday, he played with one of the adult teams, and he was just on fire, and even received recognition for his performance! He got five wickets for eight runs in five overs. The lad hasn’t wiped the grim off his face since Saturday!
He may just be there, at the top of the performance board, for both adults and children! in the whole club!
  • If we were having chai I’d sigh and, with a smile on my face, say that finally I am on my break. I have high hopes for rest, writing, etc, but who knows what the next four weeks will bring… I did open my Scrivener project, the other day, to make myself feel writerly, again… and my furry muse sat with me! We all need our personal cheerleader, and this one is mine!
Bitmoji Image

This week, it is still filled with cricket, with a three day tournament with the District team, followed by cricket week at the club, the week after, but forget taht. My most exciting news is taht Pops and Mum are coming down to stay! I haven’t seen them in nearly a year and I can’t contain my excitement, seriously!

And while you’re here, did you sign up for my mailing list? I am in the middle of writing an exclusive Chickpea Curry Lit story for my subscribers, and there will be news, tips and even recipes! You know you want to join… go on! Click the pic below to sign up!

Spidey’s Serene Sunday – Part 333 – Appreciation

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“It’s the little things, that matter.”

Ritu Bhathal

Today, Spidey and I decided to have a little chat about appreciation…

Friday marked the end of one of the most surreal school years in my career, and indeed, the career of many other educators. Last year was weird enough with the whole term long lockdown, but, dare I say it, it was easier, in many respects, because there were no real expectations, besides getting through. We did what we could to help our children, and hoped for the best, after all, none of us had been through a situation like this before.

This academic year, however, put fresh pressure on the whole sector, because, all of a sudden, we were meant to, overnight, become experts in remote learning; with no training or guidance, drop our usual techniques, and set learning in a whole new format. We were to, at the ping of an email or text, down tools and disappear home, if our bubbles burst, and embark upon that remote learning process, just hoping our pupils were able to access everything they needed.

We ushered in another lockdown and almost big term of full remote learning for all. There was the constant threat of OFSTED still planning drop in visits… Seriously? Maybe they would have been more welcome, had they been visits of encouragement, and thanks for doing all you are doing?

We were tirelessly trying to teach new things, as well as ‘catch up’ on lost learning time, to bring this generation of lockdown learning kids up to speed.

All this, coupled with, for me and my team at least, coming to grips with being a Phase Leader, managing a team of seven, and implementing a new framework for our Early Years department, as early adopters.

It was tough.

But we made it.

There were many up sides to the year too, though, and I can’t forget that. This year, the relationships we developed with the parents, were unrivalled, compared to other years. During lockdown, we spoke to our parents weekly, if not more, allowing them to be open about any worries or concerns they had about their children.

I’m not saying that we don’t have these conversations usually, it’s just that the lockdown ensured a more one to one personal connection, regularly, as we wanted to make sure our children were accessing their learning. In a typical year, we will see parents daily at drop off and pick up, and there will be snatched conversations, if needed, with the parents evening chats, too. Unless there was a specific reason to speak to the parents, outside of this, that was it.

This year it was so different.

They shared so much with us, meaning teachers sometimes became councillors for the parents, as well as educators for their children. I have walked through this year, virtually holding the hands of people who have been going through relationship troubles, those coming to terms with their children having severe Special Educational Needs, losses in their families, including miscarriage, having to relocate somewhere, meaning they won’t be with us next year… Dare I say it, they were almost friends…

And this end of year, as I hugged each child on their final way out of my classroom, (yes, I hugged them. They were a part of me, this year…) I was greeted with a round of applause by the collected parents. My already moistened eyes brimmed full of tears.

Some parents hung back, until my little classroom, one they had never been able to see inside this year, was empty.

One approached me, with her own eyes watering. “Mrs Bhathal, can I please give you a hug, if you don’t mind?” Me? Queen of hugs? Well as that is one of the biggest things I missed during this pandemic, threw my arms around her. She whispered the sweet nothings every teacher wants to hear in my ear. “Thank you so much for everything you have done for my child, and me. We will all miss you so much!” This was followed by several other parents stepping up wanting to do the same.

By now, my tear dam was fit to burst. And it did, once I got back home, that night.

These parents had been so generous with gifts, to top it off, as well as my wonderful colleagues. I read the accompanying cards, and the words touched me, deeply. (I’d not be lying if I confessed that as I type this, there are tears, rolling down my cheeks.)

All this, after reading something on a Facebook Group, I am a member of, as well as on Twitter, about certain people who were ranting about why teachers should even get a thank you card, seeing as they had barely worked this year! (Come, live a week in my shoes during term time, then try saying that to my face!)

I’m an exhausted, emotional mess, right now, and looking forward to switching off from school for a couple of weeks, at least, but I am feeling so, so appreciated, right now. Below is what I posted on Facebook, and the overly generous gifts that I received.

If you swipe the picture, there is more!

So… tell me, has a shower of appreciation ever brought you to tears?

I’m attempting something today, with a voice recording of my post. It isn’t highly edited, but I’d love to know if you enjoyed hearing it, as well as, or instead of reading it!

namaste

Wishing you a wonderfully peaceful Sunday, Peeps!

The Mother Fault by @katemildenhall #BlogTour #TheMotherFault @fictionpubteam @harperfiction

Are you a fan of Dystopian fiction? Fancy a bit of Antipodean adventure?

Well, come join me as I start off the blog tour for Kate Mildenhall’s newest release, published by Harper Fiction, The Mother Fault.

The Mother Fault

The Blurb

Mim’s husband is missing. No one knows where Ben is, but everyone wants to find him – especially The Department. And they should know, the all-seeing government body has fitted the entire population with a universal tracking chip to keep them ‘safe’.

But suddenly Ben can’t be tracked. And Mim is questioned, made to surrender her passport and threatened with the unthinkable – her two children being taken into care at the notorious BestLife.

Cornered, Mim risks everything to go on the run to find her husband – and a part of herself, long gone, that is brave enough to tackle the journey ahead.

From the stark backroads of the Australian outback to a terrifying sea voyage, Mim is forced to shuck off who she was – mother, daughter, wife, sister – and become the woman she needs to be to save her family and herself.

My Review

The Mother Fault by Kate Mildenhall
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’m not sure what I was expecting when I requested this book, but when I began reading I realised it was very different to my usual reading genre.
Dystopian fiction is not really my thing, However, when you couple an unknown genre with a topic I love, which is motherhood, and family, and the lengths said mother would go to for hers, then you get a pretty good read. I was intrigued from the off, and seeing the development of Mim’s character, as she tries to save her family, made for a great read.
Many thanks to NetGalley and Harper Collins for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

About the author:

Kate Mildenhall is a writer and teacher, who lives on the outskirts of Melbourne with her young family. She has taught in schools, at RMIT University and State Library Victoria, and volunteered with Teachers Across Borders in Cambodia. Her debut novel, SKYLARKING, was published in Australia by Black Inc. in 2016 and in the UK by Legend Press in 2017. Skylarking was longlisted for the Voss Literary Prize 2017 and the Indie Book Awards 2017.

Kate has received residencies at Varuna, the Writers House and at Bundanon.

With friend and author Katherine Collette, Kate co-hosts The First Time podcast, a podcast about the first time you publish a book.

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