Published: “Beneath the Wax” by Nthato Morakabi


In October, I was thrilled to publish Beneath the Wax, the first novella in Nthato Morakabi’s sci-fi horror series! With the latter half of 2018 proving to be a very busy year, the publication of this book ranks as one of my highlights!

Beneath the Wax 03 Kindle Cover 01

With a gorgeous cover design by Nico Venter (who is currently working on the artwork for Jozi Flash 2018 – YAY!), and exceptional story-telling by Nthato, Beneath the Wax is a perfect Christmas gift for fans of horror and sci-fi.


1723: Constantine Bourgeois is a man of many secrets. Artisan by day, killer by night, he turns his victims into wax figures for his shop.
2045: Richard Baines works for the renowned Anthony Garfield Historical Museum. His mundane existence is a stark counterpoint to his fascination with serial killers and science fiction.
Constantine’s nightmares drive him to undertake a journey to uncover a long-forgotten secret. Richard’s research uncovers a company secret and the mystery of Madame Bourgeois.
Two men, two timelines, and truths that will only be revealed when they look Beneath the Wax

Purchase the novel on Amazon* today, or if you’re a book blogger and would like to review the novella, please leave a comment below and I’ll get in touch with you ASAP.

*I would like to state that Chasing Dreams Publishing operates as an independent publisher, and 100% of royalties earned from the sale of Beneath the Wax go to the author. If you would like to make his Christmas that much more festive, please consider supporting him by purchasing a copy. If you’d like to make it doubly festive, an honest review on Amazon would be even more appreciated!



Monday Writing Prompt – 27 November 2017

27 November 2017


The prompt should be included in your story which can be any genre. Word limit is a maximum, there is no minimum.

Stories can be posted directly in the comments, or with a link to the post on your own blog. If you’re using the latter method, please include the title of your story.

Deadline for submission is Friday, 1 December 2017 at midnight, GMT+2. Winning stories will be announced on the following Monday. Bragging rights to the winners.

Have fun!

Monday Writing Prompt – 20 November 2017



20 November 2017


The prompt should be included in your story which can be any genre. Word limit is a maximum, there is no minimum.

Stories can be posted directly in the comments, or with a link to the post on your own blog. If you’re using the latter method, please include the title of your story.

Deadline for submission is Friday, 24 November 2017 at midnight, GMT+2. Winning stories will be announced on the following Monday. Bragging rights to the winners.

Have fun!

#FindJoziFlash17 Winner, #200WT & Monday Writing Prompt!

I’m so thrilled to announce that the winner of the #FindJoziFlash17 was drawn just after midnight last night, and it was none other than Faye Kirwin over at Writerology!

Winners FindJoziFlash17

I’m also thrilled to let you know that because of his AMAZING support of both the competition, and Faye’s #storycrafter sessions on Twitter, we decided John Cordial needed some sort of runner’s up prize. Luckily, Faye has just released her #StoryCrafter Collection workbook and she very kindly agreed to send John a copy! (I’m going to be working through the collection in the next couple weeks, as I work on my NaNoWriMo project, so stay tuned for daily reviews of how it’s going!)

The support and encouragement from everyone across all our social media platforms has been absolutely incredible and I cannot thank you all enough!

For those who couldn’t enter the competition, we’re sorry you missed out, but don’t worry! Jozi Flash 2017 will be releasing soon, and it’s a free download!

Jozi Flash 2017 web

It’s not quite the Gummi Bears, but it certainly bounces around a lot.

Jozi Flash 2017 combines the talents of ten brilliant authors with one gifted artist, to bring you a collection of 80 flash fiction stories across eight different genres.

From a children’s story about the folly of summoning dragons, to the horrors held in deliciously treacherous ice cream, the authors take you on journeys that weave fantasy and folklore together alongside practical detectives and everyday tragedy.

With stunning artwork prompts by Nico Venter, these South African authors have created an anthology that will leave you breathless.

I’m also excited to let you know that a few of the Jozi Flash 2017 authors have teamed up with Musae Mosaic to contribute to their #200WT this month! This is the perfect opportunity for you to get a sneak peak at the talent that awaits you in the anthology!

Now, without further ado, here is this week’s writing prompt:

6 November 2017

Hopefully we’ll see a host of entries this week!

Editing Tips Tuesday – Editing plot based on a synopsis + a free printable!

This week, I want to look at editing plot. Making assumptions (again), I’m looking at completed first drafts. This will apply to any form of writing that requires a plot – flash fiction, short stories and novels.

Once you have your completed first draft, you should be able to create a synopsis. This is if you haven’t done that in your planning process, because – hands up – not all of us are planners. If you already have a synopsis, I commend (and secretly envy) your planning skills.

Flash fiction may not necessarily require a synopsis – let’s face it, it’s redundant in stories that short. However, it’s still vitally important that the story have a plot.

What is a synopsis?

  • It is a summary of all the events in your story.
  • It introduces all the important characters in the order they appear in the story.
  • It describes the main actions they take or events that happen to them.
  • It’s a giant spoiler of the entire plot.

What isn’t a synopsis?

  • It is not the story itself.
  • It is not the interactions between characters.
  • It doesn’t provide POV details about the actions or events.
  • It doesn’t spoil the experience of reading the final story.

Now that you know what it is and isn’t, it’s time to take your completed story and create the synopsis. For each chapter, or scene if you’re working with a shorter story, write a couple of sentences about what happens.

Once you’ve got the whole story in your written synopsis, it’s time to summarise it into bullet points. (I like bullet points because they’re quick and easy to refer to.)

Once that’s done, you’ll want to go back to your first draft and as you read, check off the bullet points of your synopsis. If important plot points don’t appear in your novel, you’ll need to decide whether you want to include them or if the story works better without them. Likewise, if plot points appear in your story, but not in the synopsis, you’ll need to decide whether to keep them or take them out.

As you’re checking your list, make a note about whether the plot point gets tied up at the end of the story, or if it remains a loose end. Unless you’re writing a series, you’ll generally want to ensure all loose ends are tied up once the story is finished.

Remember that this doesn’t have to happen all at once. Take time to rest between tasks or chapters. If you’re not a planner, this can feel overwhelming, and it’s easy to lose interest if you don’t give yourself permission to take a break when you start feeling your attention wandering.

Below is a printable that you can complete as you work through your draft:

Plot Edits Sheet

Have you got a tried and true method of editing plot? Do you write your story synopsis before or after the first draft? 

Crafting Incredible Characters – An incredible resource from Kristen Kieffer at Well-Storied!

I had intended to post a downloadable character creation template today… But then I received an email from Kristen over at Well-Storied, and I knew I had to share it with you instead.

really love what Well-Storied stands for – creating and sharing brilliant resources for writers based on a “pay-what-you-can” principle.

I understand that writing for a living is a difficult process, that putting time and energy into creating resources that benefit others has to result in some sort of benefit for the creator. We can’t all be starving artists, and let’s face it – our muses tend to go on strike when they’re hangry.

But! I also believe quite strongly in the principle that money isn’t everything. It’s the principle I founded Chasing Dreams on, it’s the principle I live my life by, and even though I recognise the importance of an even exchange taking place – that exchange needn’t be based solely on money.

I downloaded the Crafting Incredible Characters resource without making a financial donation because I simply can’t afford to at this time. What I can afford to do, is to share it with you, tell you that it’s a gorgeous in-depth template for creating characters that fit the tips I posted on my TTT this week, and that I highly recommend downloading it if you’re taking part in Plotober and NaNoWriMo.

We all have amazing stories to tell – it’s what drives us to write – but more than that, we have the ability to support and encourage the people who help us tell them while sharing their own.

Let’s not waste it.


Editing Tips Tuesday – Editing Dialogue

Today we’re going to look at editing dialogue. I’m making the assumption that you already know how to write dialogue, have written a fair amount of it, and now need to edit it.

Let’s first look at some common mistakes people make while writing dialogue:

  1. Assuming that every character is going to speak in the same way. We’ve all done it. Monotonous dialogue happens when you write it as though it is still the narrator speaking. If you can remove the dialogue tags and it sounds like a single person having a conversation with himself, you’ll need to edit this.
  2. Using dialogue tags instead of the dialogue itself to express the character’s emotions. Telling readers that a character is angry is far less effective than allowing them a few expletives in their dialogue.
  3. Talking heads. There are instances where reading dialogue is like watching a tennis match. You bounce back and forth between the characters talking, but at some point they lose who they are and become a pair of talking heads.Talking Heads
  4. No dialogue at all. Zip. Nada. Zilch. Unless it’s a flash fiction story or some scary experimental novel where no one talks, you ideally should have dialogue. It breaks up the big blocks of text and brings your characters to life.

There are plenty of others, but today I want to deal with how to edit for these particular mistakes.

  1. Define your characters. Know how they speak, why they speak that way and then change the dialogue to reflect their personalities. A teenager won’t use the same words as their grandparents for example. Their dialogue should reflect their age and culture. Be careful that you don’t overdo it though – one or two “dudes” in a sentence is more effective than incomprehensible abbreviations and acronyms.Misrepresented Dialogue
  2. If you have a lot of dialogue tags, try to replace them with actions/dialogue that expresses the emotion. For example:

“I’m so mad right now.” She said to him.

Can become:

“Screw you!” she balled her hands into fists, resisting the urge to punch the smirk off his face.

Bear in mind that the above example needs to reflect the personality of the characters as defined in point 1. It doesn’t help to have a character described as timid and placid if she’s running around getting violent with other characters.

  1. I’ve written short stories completely in dialogue. Some of them have been extremely effective. Others have been complete flops. A novel that has pages of dialogue without tags or exposition, needs to be edited. If you can delete dialogue without losing the story, you don’t need it and could probably replace it with exposition.
  2. This mistake most commonly occurs because people are scared of dialogue and is the reverse of point 3. It’s a tricky thing for a lot of writers, but is an essential skill to cultivate. When you have endless exposition, check whether some of it involves dialogue without actual dialogue. In other words you’re looking for something like this:

John told Mary that he’d had a really long day at work and didn’t really want to go to dinner with their friends Jenny and Chris. Mary sighed and thought to herself that it was always going to be this way. He would never want to do anything with her friends.

This can be changed to dialogue very easily:

“Work was exhausting.” John put his briefcase down and leaned over to kiss Mary where she sat at the table. “Janice made a complete mess of the accounts and I spent all day trying to fix it.”

“I don’t know why you don’t just fire her. She’s always making mistakes which you have to fix.”

“I feel bad. She’s going through a hard time with her divorce.”

“I guess.” Mary hesitated. “You haven’t forgotten about our dinner with Jenny and Chris?”

“Is that tonight?” he sighed. “I suppose it’s too late to cancel? You can go by yourself, can’t you? They really only want to see you anyway.”

“That’s not true. They want to see both of us.” She looked at his tired face and felt a pang of sympathy. “I guess I can go alone, if you want to get an early night.”

“You’re the best. I’m gonna go shower.” He left the room, and Mary picked up her phone to let Jenny know they’d be a party of three. Again.

Remember when you’re writing dialogue, you’re giving your characters an opportunity to express their feelings about the story you’re telling. Have fun with it – after all, you speak to people every day. Why shouldn’t your characters?

How do you feel about dialogue? Do you enjoy writing it, or is it a nightmare exercise? Do you find editing it easier than the initial writing process?

Plotober is upon us! Day 1 of Plantsing for NaNoWriMo

Writing a Blurb

Plotober is upon us! It crept up quickly and left me just a little bit startled by its sudden appearance.

But now that it’s Monday, I’m in the present and ready to go with the first activity on the schedule for the next thirty days of planning for the mania that is NaNoWriMo.

I’ve got a vague outline of the novel I want to work on this year, but haven’t done any concrete planning, so I hope you’ll join me as I try to mend my pantser ways (not that I don’t love being a pantser, but there’s something to be said for plantsing, too.)

Onwards then, with the first step in the journey – creating a blurb.

Why a blurb?

A blurb is one of the most important aspects of a completed novel, but it’s also a great starting point for planning your story because:

  • A blurb introduces your main characters.
  • It provides a setting for the story.
  • It introduces the main source of conflict.
  • It poses questions about the ending.

With those points in mind, we’re trying to avoid the following in the blurb:

  • Clichés – Opening phrases and character descriptions that are overdone will kill your interest in the story before you’ve even started writing it.
  • TMI – We’re writing the blurb here, not the entire novel.
  • Chapter summaries – keep these for the synopsis, not the blurb.

Now for the fun stuff – actually writing the blurb. You’ll need to note the following:

  • Names/genders of your MCs. Try to limit this to two or three. Names aren’t essential at this point, but could be useful.
  • The main setting. This could be a world, a city, a town or a street. Make sure to note anything that’s different about it.
  • The reason for the story. In other words, the conflict. Is your MC dying, madly in love, kidnapped, a shape-shifting fairy-eating dragon allergic to pixie dust?
  • Ask a question about the end. Is there a happily ever after? Does everyone die? Are any of these questions ever answered?

Once you’ve got all those down, put them into a pretty paragraph of five or six sentences, max. Keep the sentences short – it’s a blurb, not an essay. Remember, this is the planning draft of your novel, so the blurb doesn’t need to be word perfect. It’s a guideline to the rest of the awesomeness that will make up your story, so don’t stress too much if it reads a oddly. It will be refined at a later point anyway.

Some possible formats of your blurb could be:

  • Introduce your MCs, the setting and then the conflict.
  • Set the scene, introduce MCs and then bring in conflict.
  • Start with the conflict, bring in the MCs and add the setting.

Tell me how you’re spending Plotober? Do you plan or pants your way through NaNoWriMo? How do you feel about blurb writing?

Kristian’s War – Peter Wisan

I was recently given the opportunity to beta read Kristian’s War, a novel by Peter Wisan. He has now published the story, and it is available for purchase on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. 

A modern take on an age-old spiritual journey, what I truly enjoyed about this story is the universal message that salvation is found within, not without. Congratulations on publishing Peter, and I look forward to seeing more in the Searcher Series.

KDP Cover (2)

Kristian Anders, a dirt-poor farmer, lives in a dark land where evil forces take the form of men. The sins of his past weigh heavily on his mind. When a stranger directs him to take a new path, Kris begins the journey of a lifetime towards a distant King who is rumored to solve all problems. But then a ruthless soldier is dispatched by the ruler of the dark land to capture or kill Kris. Everything leads to one final fight, where Kristian must defeat the demons of his past or die.

Marine Corps veteran Peter Wisan delivers a gripping, tactical take on the spiritual journey in a blend of heart-stopping action and heart-rending loss.



The Invisible Crown Blog Tour

Once again, I’ve teamed up with Royal James Publishing on their blog tour of The Invisible Crown by Charlie Cottrell.

I’ve always enjoyed a good detective story, and The Invisible Crown, book one in the Hazzard Pay series, proved to be an amusing addition to the genre, with a few sci-fi elements thrown in for good measure.

While at first glance the novel appears to fall into the classic noir genre, it detours a little from the norm. Today, I’d like to take a look at the top ten characteristics that distinguish noir from hard-boiled detective stories.

  • Deep 1st person narrative. Traditionally, the noir genre takes you deep into the mind of the character, with a narrative told from their often quite twisted perspective. Eddie Hazzard, the narrator of The Invisible Crown, fulfils this criterion splendidly, with a voice that’s mildly annoying, often ironic, but never dull.
  • Doom and gloom. Noir is not about happy endings. Or middles, or even beginnings. More often than not, things go from bad to worse, and then end up in hell in a bucket. Needless to say, check this one off the list for Cottrell’s story as well!
  • Morals, or lack thereof. The characters in a classic noir novel, have few to no morals. They won’t hesitate to lie, steal or kill to get their way, and their actions shove them over the edge of doom – ensuring the happily never after ending. In The Invisible Crown, Eddie Hazzard doesn’t quite manage this, making him a strangely endearing anti-hero.
  • According to Otto Penzler, “pretty much everyone in a noir story (or film) is driven by greed, lust, jealousy or alienation…” Check another one off for Cottrell. The characters in the novel are twisted and strange, not just because of their genetic modifications (which are fantastic to imagine), but because of their motivations. As for the gen-mod descriptions they’re woven into the narrative so well, that for a while I kept walking around expecting to meet a talking gorilla.
  • Self-destruction of the narrator. Because it’s not enough that the world hates you and you’re doomed to eternal misery; you also need to try and destroy yourself – slowly. Eddie Hazzard meets this criterion with an often annoying aptitude. His hangovers, while entertaining at first, soon became tedious – a sad distraction from his other charms which could have been avoided had Cottrell given the reader slightly more insight into his addiction. Of course, bordering on noir, Hazzard doesn’t need a reason to drink – he just has to live with it.
  • A corrupted system. Check, and double check. The layers in this novel just sink deeper and deeper into rot. The sense that there was, quite literally, no completely innocent person in the entire city of Arcadia, was created so perfectly by Cottrell, I needed a shower to wash off the stench of corruption.
  • Frank descriptions of violence and sex. Tick this one off. While there were no erotic scenes in The Invisible Crown, Eddie Hazzard certainly has an eye for the ladies, and there was no shortage of violence and death.
  • The femme fatale. Enter Vera Stewart. Rich, sexy, dangerous. Just how dangerous, depends on how far Hazzard is prepared to go to solve the case she brings to him.
  • A hyper-localised setting. The city of Arcadia may be vast, but we only ever see a few settings throughout the whole novel. The descriptions of these settings are vivid and emotive, evoking a surreal clarity of the environment Hazzard operates in.
  • In noir, the protagonist is the victim, suspect or perpetrator. This puts The Invisible Crown firmly into the hard-boiled category, as Eddie Hazzard is not only a raging alcoholic, but the PI hired to solve a mystery.

All in all, while The Invisible Crown doesn’t quite fit into the noir genre, it certainly makes it into the hard-boiled detective category and does so exceedingly well. I look forward to what the rest of the series holds in store for us.