Friday, 7 August 2020

Review of The Friar's Lantern by Greg Hickey

You may win $1,000,000.

You will judge a man of murder.

An eccentric scientist tells you he can read your mind and offers to prove it in a high-stakes wager. A respected college professor exacts impassioned, heat-of-the-moment revenge on his wife's killer—a week after her death—and you're on the jury.

Take a Turing test with a twist, discover how your future choices might influence the past, and try your luck at Three Card Monte. And while you weigh chance, superstition, destiny, intuition and logic in making your decisions, ask yourself: are you responsible for your actions at all?

So choose wisely—if you can.

My Review: 5 STARS
I picked this up having enjoyed the choose your own adventure books in the past. I loved the idea of solving a murder and also winning the money, and was happy to settle in and go along for the ride. I loved that the character was likeable, that the choices were easy enough to choose between and even though there were some when I thought I might choose differently, going back and forth, I adored the set up and the read through. Very much an exciting story and one that I would read again. Recommended to all those who love choosing their own adventures and crime fiction as well!

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.

Tuesday, 4 August 2020


Jessie has a plan to help Meera with her pain...

[ID: A graphic with a red background and the header of Cramping Chronicles: The First Twinge and underneath the words: Coming October 13th 2020. The excerpt reads:

“What?” Gray said, sounding confused. “What are you talking about?”
I opened my eyes. “I'm talking about fixing the pain. If I solve the root of it, the cause, then Meera never has to know, right? That way she won't be hurting and neither will I. It's a genius idea, Gray, trust you to come up with it.”
“I didn't come up with that!” he protested.
“Well, it's a genius idea anyway.”

At the bottom is Joey Paul, her website of and the logo of a green and purple bug in the far right corner.


Monday, 3 August 2020

Cramping Chronicles: The First Twinge - Writing Jessie & Meera


I am super excited about the release of the first book in my new Urban Fantasy series, Cramping Chronicles: The First Twinge, and part of that excitement is getting to revisit the characters and remember how it felt writing them, their dynamics and everything in between. Today I'm gonna focus on the main character Jessie, and her love interest and the source of her pain, Meera.

Now if you don't know, the series is about newly disabled Jessie Oliver, who's 15, and in a wheelchair with chronic conditions while also having discovered that she has the ability to feel other people's pain. She's an empath and while to begin with she's not all that sold on it meaning anything, she soon finds out that it has a big meaning in both her life, and the world around her.

So starting with Jessie, let's talking writing characters.

Jessie is a character that I've wanted to write for such a long time. I always knew her name, and I always knew that she, like me, would have both M.E and Fibromyalgia, but I didn't really know her story. It was only when I had the idea for an empath and the world around her, that she really came to shape in my mind, and on the page.  Jessie was a joy to write, I always felt like I could easily channel her thoughts and feelings without really needing to think about it too much. And the idea of being an empath while also having her own pain gave a new level to the story that I think really made it work so well.

I knew from that start of the book that I wanted Jessie to have a love interest, I haven't tagged it as romance because it's only the first book, and while their relationship grows, I also wanted to take my time with it, being that I'm someone who does the same in my own romantic relationships. There was, of course, always the possibility that Meera didn't start to let Jessie in, because as you may know, a lot of my writing time is spent being driven by the characters on the page, rather than me always knowing what lies ahead.

I will say that ending to this book was completely different to what happened in the first draft, but I adore what I came up with, and I'm super happy with how it's come together in edits. Jessie is an amazing character and one that's very close to my heart because of her name. I lost a friend in 2008 who I'd known as Jessie Oliver, but I won't give you her real name. Anyway, that's why Jessie is named for her, and given the way my Jessie acted, she'd be very happy to have lived on in the pages of one of my books, though the similarities end there. It's just a name, not a whole personality.

Meera was a hard one to get a read on, a lot of what happens in the book didn't really come to a conclusion until I'd gone through revisions and editing. I knew that Meera had her own problems, had her own secrets, and was, of course, a source of pain for Jessie, not just because Meera seems to hate her for no reason. Meera is snarky, a little bitter and while she mellows the more she hangs out with Jessie and her friends, there's a good reason for her hard exterior.

At the end of everything, Meera finally happier in her life and surrounded by friends that she hadn't seen coming, she and Jessie make a cute couple, and I loved writing the bits and pieces that brought it to that conclusion.

Overall, I adored writing both, and keep an eye out for the other characters in the coming weeks! You can pre-order Cramping Chronicles: The First Twinge here, or sign up to be an ARC reader here.

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Friday, 31 July 2020

Review of One Final Vinyl by Savy Leiser


At 18 years old, Emma Pelican is pretty sure she's already experiencing a midlife crisis. She's spent the summer after her senior year listening to her depressing vinyl record collection and isolating herself from her friends, so it's not much of a surprise when no one shows up to the graduation party Emma throws the night before leaving for college; no one but Daisy Lycroft, a ninety-year-old stranger with mild Alzheimer's who escaped from her retirement home in the middle of the night.

When Emma leaves to drive Daisy home, the two end up on an unexpected all-night road trip, complete with Canadian whiskey, Billy Joel mixtapes, romantic interludes, near-death experiences, and lots of impromptu dancing, causing them to find some much-needed companionship in each other, and revealing that they have a closer connection than they ever could have expected.
My review: 5 STARS
I picked this up because I adore Savy’s writing and couldn’t wait to dig into the story. Emma is an amazing character and one I loved from the first line of the book. I was pulled into the story, along with Daisy and couldn’t put it down, I just wanted to read and read, and find out how this road trip ended. It was a delightful read, and tugged at the heartstrings, I loved the glimpses back into Emma’s life, getting to see how she came to the point she’s at now. Overall, an amazing book from this author, who is one to watch! Highly recommended!

You can follow Savy on Twitter, Instagram and Youtube!

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.

Tuesday, 28 July 2020


Jessie just wanted to help, and she got snapped at in return

[ID: A graphic with a red background and the header of Cramping Chronicles: The First Twinge and underneath the words: Coming October 13th 2020. The excerpt reads:

She turned back to look at me. “Yes, and you're Jessie,” she said.
It didn't sound friendly or welcoming. She actually gave the impression of being quite cold and distant.
“I mean no offence, Jessie, but I'm actually trying to look for a book here. I have an essay due and unlike some people, I can't wait for someone to do it for me.”
“What's that supposed to me?!” I said, losing my temper a little.

At the bottom is Joey Paul, her website of and the logo of a green and purple bug in the far right corner.


Monday, 27 July 2020

Juggling Two Projects - The Creative Process


It's been a long time since I talked about writing two projects at once (piece found here), but I thought that I would broach the subject again because it's something I do a little differently now that I've been doing it for as long as I have. At the end of the day, I'm not a rare unicorn, a lot of writers will juggle projects, and they'll do it better than me, but I also now have, usually, two other projects on the periphery that I haven't talked about before.

So, the long and short of it is, that I used to be a one project writer. I couldn't think of how to write two and my focus was all over the place. It wasn't until I was writing Waiting On You, that I got a severe case of writer's block and found myself stuck. At that point in time, I had the idea for the fourth Dying Thoughts book, but I didn't want to dump the project I was working on to start it. Making a deal with myself, I would write up to the same amount of chapters with the new idea, and then reassess where this stood. At the end of that, I was hooked on writing both stories, and I've not really looked back since.

You all know all of that, so what are the two other projects that I have going on? Well, usually while writing the two first drafts, I'm also revising a project that's due to go into edits at some point soon. So on the days when I'm not writing, I'll be working on revisions and getting those chapters written and all the rest. Since I also have stuck to the schedule to release two books every year, I also usually have a book at some point in the editing trenches. So right now for example, I have my two first drafts, revisions for Lights Off, and line edits for Cramping Chronicles: The First Twinge. And while the edits for Twinge will end in September, I'll have a couple of months before the process starts again for Lights Off.

People are probably wondering why I'm telling you this, and what it has to do with juggling the two writing projects, and the answer is simple, the reason I'm able to juggle all of that, is because of how I plan my time. It's about being organised, being strict with myself, and knowing ahead of time what will be doing what when. So do I have any tips? Yes! Glad you asked!

I say it like that because the reason I'm able to juggle all of this is because I am highly aware of my limits. I know what I can achieve and how long it'll take me. I'm acutely aware of just how much is too much for me to manage, and I make sure that when taking on a project, be it revisions or edits or a brand new book, that I know how I'm going to manage it with both my health, and my writing, and other commitments as well.

Following NaNo 2019, I stopped doing 24 chapters a month as standard. It was, to begin with, a way for me to slow down after such a heavy month. But now over six months later and I've only done one month that was also 24 chapters and that was planned in advance to give myself the best possible outcome. I stick to the 20 chapters because I know, unless something catastrophic happens, I can easily manage that and still take time to recharge and time off and all the rest. So this is a big big tip, you have to know your limits.


This is also a big one for me, because if I didn't have my planner and didn't make sure I knew when I was supposed to be doing what, I think I'd get really overwhelmed pretty quickly. Part of having a lot of big goals and tasks, is breaking them down into smaller chunks and part of that is knowing what you need to do by when to be able to fit it all in. I know that planning comes, somewhat, naturally to me, and it doesn't for everyone, but this was a huge thing in helping me get to the point where I am now.

If you can't plan meticulously, then just make sure that every working day (because you should have breaks and days off) you plan to get just one thing done from one project. Whether that's a chapter, or a word goal, page goal, whatever, just have that one thing in mind, and then go from there. It's how I started out, setting myself one thing I knew I could do and then moving up to other things when I got better at knowing my limits, and planning my time.

This one involves you being honest with yourself about what you can manage, and also being strict with how you spend your time. If you know that you'll spend all day on social media and waste the time and get nothing done, then get an app that stops you from doing that, or learn to have self-control during your writing/working time.  No one else is going to be there to tell you what to do, you have to be the one to do that, and if you can't be strict and stick to your schedule then it's only really setting yourself up to fail.

I will add a caveat here. Being strict with yourself does not mean working at the expense of your health, it means making sure that when you are able to work, you do so, and do what's on the schedule for the day. It doesn't mean beating yourself up, or pushing yourself too breaking point because you've had something else going on, flares, illness, stressful time, etc, whatever that is, you need to be able to take the time you need to rest if nothing else.

So those are my three big tips when it comes to juggling two, or more, projects. I will say that it's only really been the last year or so that I've been able to juggle all of this. Last year I tried to release three books, and I managed it, but everything that could go wrong, went wrong and so this year I'm trying to be kinder to myself, trying to make sure that I'm aware of what I need, whether that's breaking off early to nap, or working first thing in the morning to ease the stress, whatever it is, I listen to my body, and you should too.

So any questions or tips? Lemme know down in the comments!

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

Friday, 24 July 2020

Guest Blog: What Indie Authors Should Know About Book Design - Desiree Villena

What Indie Authors Need to Know About Book Design

As an indie author, you’ll know you’re not just a writer. You’ve got to handle all sides of designing, producing, and marketing your book yourself — which is why you need to understand the basics of exterior and interior book design.

In an ideal world, readers wouldn’t care about what’s on the cover of your book, or how your text is formatted; they’d concentrate exclusively on the prose. But book appearance does matter because it can act as a magnet for new readers. That’s not to say that a beautiful book without substance would succeed on the basis of appearance alone. Still, if you’ve written a great book and paid little attention to the design, you may be doing yourself a disservice.

As manager of your own author brand, there are two sides to book design you need to be aware of. We’ll start with the first thing readers will see: your book cover design.

Book Cover Design

Your cover is super important! It doesn’t just make your book aesthetically pleasing — it contains a lot of implicit but crucial information about what kind of story a reader can expect.

Ideally, you want your cover to clearly communicate your genre. This can be done through typography (like a serif/sans serif font or hand-drawn lettering by a professional), the cover art itself, and the “copy” on the cover in other words, the promotional blurbs.

To test the effectiveness of your cover, you can show it to acquaintances who don’t know what the book is about and ask them to take an honest guess about the genre and story. They don’t have to pick up on every single detail. But if you’ve written a romance novel and they think it’s a crime thriller, you’ll know you need to make some serious cover adjustments.

The best place to start brainstorming about cover design is, of course, the Internet. Look up authors writing in your genre and take some notes about the appearance of their covers — you’re trying to appeal to the same audience, so you can take inspiration from how another professional has attracted readers. Depending on whether you’re planning to sell print copies of your book or ebooks only, you’ll also need to look into the different dimensions demanded by your chosen format.

No matter which decisions you make, remember to aim for a balance between a sparse and a hectically busy cover. Not every bit of blank space has to be filled. Similarly, unless you’re going for a purposefully minimalist look, your cover should include something beyond the title and your name.

I know, design concerns are a lot to take in. If you can afford to, the best thing you can do is consult or hire a professional designer, who will ensure that your book looks professional enough to compete with well-established authors. (They’ll also take charge of various important practical matters, e.g. the cover’s file format and resolution, as well as color requirements for printing).

Finally, remember that the exterior of your book isn’t just the front cover: you’ll have to factor in the spine and back of the book as well. The back cover is an excellent place to curate reviews along with a quick synopsis. This shouldn’t give too much away, and its tone should reflect that of your story. You’re a writer, so use your craft to make this copy pitch-perfect!

Interior Design

Of course, it’s not all about the cover. Book design, when done well, should maintain a consistent level of professionalism on both the outside and the inside of your book.

Make sure nothing distracts your reader from the words on the page. Unlike on the cover, the focus with your interior designer falls on the text itself. You don’t want your audience to be squinting at a loopy Monotype Corsiva font, or wondering why there’s so much empty space between words.

To achieve that, you’ll want a clean font and a professional-level typesetting software (something better than Microsoft Word) to ensure that your font, spacing, margins and pagination are all flawlessly in place. A professional typesetter can also help with this, but for most authors, research and a solid piece of DIY software will suffice — and if you only have the budget for a pro cover designer or a pro interior designer, you should choose the former.

There’s nothing more satisfying than holding a flawlessly designed book and knowing that your hard work paid off. Now that you understand book design a little better, your project will open up to so many new possibilities! Assuming you’re finished editing the prose, your next focus in the process of publishing your book should be marketing it to the best of your abilities. Do that, and you’ll be on your way to becoming a successful author in no time!

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.