Friday, 23 June 2017

Interview with Debbie Manber Kufar and review of P.A.W.S

I'm happy to be welcoming Debbie Manber Kufar to the blog today for both an interview and a review of her book - P.A.W.S - now let's find out a little about Debbie.

Debbie Manber Kupfer grew up in the London. She has lived in Israel, New York and North Carolina and somehow ended up in St. Louis, where she works as a writer and a freelance puzzle constructor of word puzzles and logic problems. She lives with her husband, two children and a very opinionated feline. She is the author of the young adult fantasy series, P.A.W.S. which features a secret institute of shapeshifters hidden deep beneath the Jewel Box in Forest Park, St. Louis. In addition she has stories in several anthologies including Fauxpocalypse, Stardust, Always, Winter Wishes, and Sins of The Past. She has also published a book of puzzles, Paws 4 Logic, with her son Joey. She believes that with enough tea and dark chocolate you can achieve anything!

Now onto the interview!

What made you want to be a writer?
I’ve always wanted to be a writer. I wrote my first story when I was around eight years old. It was about turning into a ladybird. (See even back then I wrote about shapeshifters.) I sent that story to the Puffin Post and was so excited when I got a mention in the magazine. I knew right then that someday I wanted to write a novel.

what kind of books do you read for pleasure?
I read all sorts, but recently find myself being drawn to urban fantasy. My current read is Blood Debt by E.A. Copen. Highly recommended.

What kind of writer are you: plan or not?
I’m mostly a discovery writer. I have a strong idea where my story is leading but only a vague notion of how I’ll get there. But I’m definitely enjoying the journey.

what character of yours is your favourite?
Definitely my wild Welsh warlock (try saying that fast), Gromer the Green. He lives in a rugged, but homely cave in Snowdonia (which he calls his castle) and has a fondness for tea and pea soup. He is also supposed to be the only one who knows the whereabouts of the elusive wizzlewoop.

What attracted you to your chosen genre?
I adore writing fantasy, because anything can happen. But I also prefer fantasy that’s set in our world, rather than a separate magical kingdom as I like to believe that it’s possible, that the magic is out there. It’s just that we non-magical folk can’t see it.

Do you have any hobbies?
Not exactly a hobby, but rather my other hat! When I’m not writing fiction I write puzzles for magazines and my website Paws 4 Puzzles. I also spend rather a lot of time reading and solving puzzles.

Would you ever like to branch out to a different genre?
I already do. In between writing my P.A.W.S. novels I also like to write short stories. P.A.W.S. is young adult fantasy, but in my shorts I’ve written for adults and children and so far experimented in science fiction, horror, and humor, with a little poetry thrown in for good measure.

When Miri receives a silver cat charm from her omama, Celia, on the night before Celia dies she has no idea that the charm holds a secret, a powerful magic that saved her omama’s life and is about to make Miri’s a whole lot more interesting.

Join Miri on a mysterious and supernatural journey with her new friends, members of an underground St. Louis society known as the Partnership for Animagi, Werewolves, and Shapeshifters, better known as P.A.W.S.

My Review: 5 stars
This is a wonderful book that starts with tragedy and carries on the story of a new generation. Miri receives a cat charm the night before her Omama dies, the morning of her tenth birthday. Sent to live with her uncle and aunt, neither of whom want her or any child, she's faced with life alone with no friends or family. And sent off to boarding school. There she is tormented and teased by the other students until one day the cat charm allows her to transform, which opens up a whole new world to her. Rescued and re-homed at P.A.W.S, Miri has a new start with people just like her who also have similar abilities. The story is delightful, packed with twists and turns that allow you to travel through Miri's adventures and come out the other side wanting more. I loved it. A nice quick read and one I will be sharing with my niece! Highly recommended.
You can follow Debbie here on Facebook, Twitter or Amazon.

Join Joey here on the blog on Fridays for interviews, reviews and guest bloggers. If you'd be interested in doing any of those, you can contact Joey here.

Thursday, 22 June 2017

From Joey's Instagram

And the heatwave finally cooled down! I can get some more work done today with seven chapters to go before I finish both books! #beingawriter #joeywrites #indieauthor #writerlife #authorsofinstagram #authorslife #joeyisanauthor #awesome #youngadultbooks #amwriting #jowrimogo #bonuschapters #writersofinstagram #writesofig #authosofig #ilovewriting #booksinprogress

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Do Monthly Goals Work? [CC]


Tuesday, 20 June 2017

From Joey's Instagram

Follow me on Twitter! #beingawriter #joeywrites #indieauthor #writerlife #authorsofinstagram #authorslife #joeyisanauthor #awesome #youngadultbooks #mysterybooks #paranormalbooks #readersofinstagram #reading #writesofig #authosofig #ilovewriting #writersofinstagram

Monday, 19 June 2017

From Joey's Instagram

I has a Conk puppy on my bed! He's looking out the window enjoying the view and the cool fan. #MrConk #dogsofinstagram #puppy

On Mental Health - The Creative Process


In the run up to my eleventh book being released, and approaching the end of both my seventeenth and eighteenth books I'm aware that I'm not really feeling how I would usually. Those who know me know that up until this year, I was quite happy releasing one book a year, but being picked to do my first signing in October 2017, I felt like I should try at least and see if I could manage two books a year. And I'm happy to say that I have. On June 30th, It's Not Always Rainbows will be released in both Kindle and paperback. On top of that, I'm writing daily, or almost daily and managing to speed my way towards the end of both the second in the Lights Out trilogy and the first book in a brand new series called Cramping Chronicles. So why am I struggling? Why am I not out there happy and cheering and all the rest that goes with that?

It's not something I talk too much about, or go into much detail about because I like keeping my personal life personal and my public life doesn't need to be bogged down by the lows of my health. That said, I do include a section in my Life Of Joey videos every month where I give you guys a brief overview of my health. And even that, I've been told by some, is too much. There are a few reasons I do this and I'll break them down for you here:

1. I am disabled and my conditions are nothing to be ashamed of.
2. I know that there are many aspiring authors as well as professional authors I admire who also have similar conditions.
3. I see no reason to omit a huge part of my life, and productivity from that video.
4. I'm a young adult author, so I know there are other teens and young adults who are also disabled and not hiding the conditions allows them to know that they have representation in me.

To break down my conditions, since I'd be here a long time if I listed them all. I have a lung condition as well as several other chronic physical and mental conditions. The ones I'm going to talk about the mental health conditions. I've had depression and anxiety for the majority of my life. They, like my physical conditions go up and down and I have both good days and bad. Right now, because of ongoing health issues and waiting for a new drug to finally get started, my mental health is on the bad side Normally when this happens, I power through, see my therapist and talk to friends and go from there. I plan to do that, I am doing that. Yet because this drug could be started from anywhere from next week to next month and beyond, my feeling is that this bad time is going to be here for the moment.

Now I know some people will say: But Joey, you're always so happy on your videos! Or: But Joey, it might not be so bad, look on the bright side. To the first I say, yeah being depressed doesn't mean you never smile, never laugh and never have fun. And to the second I don't have an appropriate response that's suitable for a blog. You can probably imagine it, it's two words. I get that people want to help and I get that if you've never had depression it's hard to imagine what that's like, but for me losing myself in my writing and talking to friends, losing myself in a good book, all of these help me.

So why not just do that? Why am I bitching and moaning here? I guess because I am very aware that if I have days when I feel like writing is not enough, then there are other people who might feel the same. I know I did a piece a few weeks back about when you want to give up writing (found here) and this is not a repeat of that. This is more a post to explain that while I am very positive and happy in my videos, in my posts and in general. I do have depression and I do have anxiety and I do work very hard to maintain that positive and happy side of myself.

And yet, right now I am struggling. I would usually have a writing advice piece on the blog today, but today I decided that instead, I would give you a glimpse behind the mask I wear. If nothing else, it might make someone out there know that they're not alone. It helps me to know that. As much as I wish that no one else had days like I'm having right now, I know there are. And for those people, I just wanna say, yeah I hear you.

So today, take a moment, take a breath and remind yourself that, even though it's a platitude, you have made it through 100% of your worst days so far, you got this one down too. I hope you have a happy day today and if not, then tomorrow. Keep going. Keep breathing and keep writing. I know I will.

Follow Joey here on her blog, or on Facebook or Tumblr to be kept up to date with the latest news regarding Joey and her books. You can also sign up to her newsletter here.

Saturday, 17 June 2017

From Joey's Instagram

You know it's hot when it's back to back nebs all afternoon. Trying to write too since I have things to do. #beingawriter #joeywrites #indieauthor #writerlife #authorsofinstagram #authorslife #joeyisanauthor #awesome #youngadultbooks #amwriting #jowrimogo #bonuschapters #writersofinstagram #writesofig #authosofig #ilovewriting #chronicillnessproblems #chronicillness #brittleasthma #oxygenuser #spoonie

Friday, 16 June 2017

From Joey's Instagram

So here's a snippet for you guys. Today is a #LightsOut day and I'm on chapter 57 of 62, so very close to the end. Things are not going well, and it's starting to show the cracks. A good writing day though! #beingawriter #joeywrites #joeyisanauthor #indieauthor #authorslife #authorsofinstagram #authorsofig #writerslife #writersofig #writersofinstagram #booksinprogress #jowrimogo #bonuschapters #youngadultbooks #amwriting #dystopianfiction #lightsouttrilogy #ilovewriting #ilovemyjob #worksinprogress #wordnerd

From Joey's Instagram

My kinda book! Got it for Aunty Joey Day last month! Time to write! #beingawriter #joeywrites #indieauthor #writerlife #authorsofinstagram #authorslife #joeyisanauthor #awesome #youngadultbooks #amwriting #jowrimogo #bonuschapters #writersofinstagram #writesofig #authosofig #ilovewriting

Interview with Danny Bell and review of Empty Threat

I am delighted to be joined on the blog today by young adult author, Danny Bell. I'm also doing a review of his book, Empty Threat. But first, here's a little bit about Danny.

Danny Bell writes The Black Pages. He has been to New York multiple times and on each visit has joked about looking for Spider-Man, but he was secretly seriously looking for Spider-Man. Given the chance he would own a pet squirrel. He can probably pronounce Tuatha Dé Danann correctly, but understands if he's getting it wrong. Danny Bell is a weirdo who is trying his best.

And onto the interview!

What made you want to be a writer?
When I was a kid I had a very rough childhood with no real safe space to speak of. I was also a fairly bright kid who absolutely devoured whatever book I could get my hands on. A huge thing for me was comic books. I would spend hours writing what was essentially fan fiction. Marvel was my jam, so I would smash together heroes and villains on paper with crayons the way some people played with action figures.

The sad truth is that life was already horrifying enough, so reading everything I could get my hands on made time move a little quicker. But the more I read, the more I wanted to contribute. I always loved the idea that when you write, there's no one to blame for a bad story except yourself. There are no limits to what you're allowed to say. You get to choose any combination of words you'd like, and whatever you choose represents you. That is the most exciting thing I can imagine.

What kind of books do you read for pleasure?
Anything from cheesy sci fi to books on mythology to history texts. Anything that can tell a story is what I want to read. I'm not so big on biographies, or autobiographies.

What kind of writer are you: plan or not?
If there was a spectrum for plan or not, my needle would break the gauge for the plan side. In my series, The Black Pages, I plotted out the first five books before I finished the first. I wrote the ending of the series and put it in an envelope, and I have no idea how many books will come out. More than five for sure. I developed an entire comic book universe to play with and creating over forty characters, many of whom might not ever see the page. I know what happens in every chapter of the book by the time I start. Sometimes things might change a little bit here and there as I go, but I have a road map. Whether it's a 5,000 word short story or a novel, I plan it out completely.

How does your average writing time go?
I am someone who believes that writing is more than typing. Reading is also writing. Saying the story out loud is writing. Outlining is writing. Thinking is writing. So when I am in writing mode, I can be doing just about anything as long as I am aware that whatever it is I am doing is for the benefit of the story. I’ve taken long car rides to nowhere just to be able to tell my story out loud. I pretend I am telling someone else a story, and do that repeatedly until I hear the thing that sounds right to me.

By the time I sit down to type I know what I want to say and I’m focused.

What book/character of yours is your favourtie?
A series that I absolutely love right now has to the be the Felix Castor series by Mike Carey. It draws some comparison to The Dresden Files, but what fantasy series doesn't these days? I'm sure my series will as well.

That said, my favorite characters are always the ones who are easy to underestimate but cam solve a problem by being brave, clever, and thoughtful. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is a great, recent example of this. Newt is a great protagonist, but my favorite character was Queenie. I could read an entire series about her. When you meet her initially you're supposed to get the impression that she's not too bright. It couldn't be for her from the truth. In one of the most magic filled worlds, her biggest spell was for making dinner. Outside of that she accomplished everything by thinking it through, and she was willing to jump into battle if need be.

What attracted you to your chosen genre?
It was important for me to be able to tell a story that would influence people at a critical stage on their lives. When I first thought of the concept for my story, it had the very real potential to be a dark, adult tale. I chose to write to the young adult/new adult crowd because that's who needs the guidance that can come from story telling more than anyone.

The moral of my story is that everyone is equally important, not just who seems to be the coolest or who gets the most attention. You are the only one who can live your life, make your own choices, and the rest of the world needs you. It's a fine lesson for anyone, but for high school kids? Even college kids? That is when people are at their most vulnerable and they need to hear that they matter.

How have other writers influenced your own writing?
I'm a huge literary nerd, so in my experience after a while reading something by a particular author comes across as just another way of someone speaking. And in the same way that you can sound like any given friend of you spend too much time with them, writers can do the same thing to you. I make it a point to read far more than I write, but I try to take bits and pieces from their patterns, just enough to let it enhance my voice rather than becoming a parrot for whoever I was reading at the time.

Do you have a writing playlist? Or do you prefer silence?
Depends on the scene. I will listen to synth pop one minute, indie folk music the next, and then forest sounds and pan flutes the minute after that. Silence doesn't work for me, it just gives me a reason to get distracted.

What's your favourite kind of scene to write?
Dialogue. Any kind of conversation. Trying to put yourself in the place of two or more people at a time takes a bit of thinking, but when you are honest and thoughtful with how everyone would act and react in a situation, some of your best work can come out of that.

Book one of The Black Pages Elana Black has the power to make herself fictional. But when she decides to start saving all the people in books and TV shows who die just for the sake of advancing the plot, she quickly learns that she's not the only one with her powers. All Elana wants to do is save people. But these others don't want the stories to change, and they'll do everything they can to stop her. If you had the power to change fate... to create a happy ending where there wasn't one before... would you do it if it meant risking your own?

My Review: 5 stars
I love the synopsis of this book and was delighted to pick up a copy. It starteed brilliantly and pulled me in almost instantly. The story starts with Elana trying to avoid socialising by using her talent to jump into a fictional world. It's only when she wakes up in the real world that she realises that this time was different. The book was brilliant and I loved the whole idea. I loved the way the story was told and how it seemed to join up with various clues sprinkled in the pages. It was amazing and an excellent start to what looks to be a brilliant series. I will be watching this author for more books! Highly recommended!

You can follow Danny on Facebook.

Join Joey here on the blog on Fridays for interviews, reviews and guest bloggers. If you'd be interested in doing any of those, you can contact Joey here.