Friday, 21 July 2017

Interview with Mackenzie Flohr and review of The Rite of Wands

I am delighted to be welcoming Mackenzie Fohlr to the blog today for both an interview and review of her book - The Rite of Wands. Here's a little about Mackenzie.

Mackenzie is the author of The Rite of Wands, a young adult fantasy series. Her debut novel was released on March 10, 2017, and has already gathered hype and received some incredible reviews. Mackenzie Flohr grew up in Ohio, chasing leprechauns and rainbows and dreaming of angels. Her parents nurtured a love of fantasy and make-believe by introducing her at a very young age to the artistic and cultural opportunities that the state of Ohio had to offer. She wanted to write a fantasy of her own, one that could inspire imagination in others and lead them into a magical world of their own making. Wherever we live and wherever we come from is our individual heartland. Anything is possible and everything can happen. Pure imagination is in all of us—we only need to discover it, and sometimes story telling helps.

And onto the interview!

What made you want to be a writer?
I have had interest in writing ever since I was young, but honestly never thought of it as a career. Growing up, my best friend and I would create our own stories and critique each other’s work. In my teen years, I attended the Beck Center for the Cultural Arts in Lakewood, Ohio. There, I studied about the entire process behind a production including the writing, casting, building, lighting, directing, etc. It was then when I started to realize I was meant to be a writer.

What kind of writer are you: plan or not?
I’m a little bit of both. I originally did have an outline written out for The Rite of Wands, but I had to make many adjustments due to my MC being a discovery character. There were many times in the story where he went his own way and I had to compensate for that!

If you had the chance to write anywhere, where would you choose?
Preferably, outside, where it’s warm near some palm trees, and there’s the sound of the ocean nearby. Where I live there’s none of that.

Do you prefer to type or hand write?
I type everything I write. I’ve tried handwriting before, but it just seems like my mind gets all jumbled when I do that and I end up crossing out majority of what I’ve written

Do you have a writing playlist? Or do you prefer silence?
I do! I actually created a playlist for The Rite of Wands, which can be found on my blog, and can be listened to on Spotify :-)

Do you have any hobbies?
I collect comic books (specifically The Walking Dead, Back To The Future, Doctor Who, Outcast), and when I do have time to myself, which is very rare these days, I like to play video games

What does your writing space look like?
I think it would be better for me to show you all a picture than try to describe it!

One boy…one Rite… And a world of deadly secrets that could change the course of history—forever

And so begins the tale of Mierta McKinnon. When a horrible fate reveals itself during his Rite of Wands ceremony, he must find a way to change not only his destiny but also the land of Iverna’s.

Forbidden from revealing the future he foresees to anyone, he is granted a wand and his magical powers, but still must master the realm of magic in order to save himself and those he loves.

But Mierta is not the only one with secrets…especially when it’s impossible to know who to trust

My review: 5 stars
I had been wanting to read this book since I first heard about it, and was so glad when it came across my path. The story starts with the rite of wands, a ceremony that Mierta, and every witch or warlock, has to go through to be given their wand and allowed to practice magic. During the ceremony, there is a scene of what could be Mierta's destiny, and he is desperate to change it. The story is engaging from the first page and beautifully told. An amazing debut novel. I loved the book and the description that went into the scenery. I also loved Orlynd and the way his story unfolded. Overall an excellent start to what looks to be an engaging and exciting series. Highly recommended!

You can follow Mackenzie on Facebook, Goodreads and her website.

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, 20 July 2017

Book Release: It's Not Always Rainbows [CC]


Wednesday, 19 July 2017

From Joey's Instagram

Lookie what arrived! My very own copy of #INAR! Now my shelf is complete! #beingawriter #joeywrites #indieauthor #writerlife #authorsofinstagram #authorslife #joeyisanauthor #awesome #youngadultbooks #amreading #bookstagram #bookboost #newrelease #readersofinstagram #reading #writesofig #authosofig #ilovewriting

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

From Joey's Instagram

TFW you're back in a schedule but day after you finish antibiotics your fever spikes again. Awaiting a call back to see what needs to be done. Gonna try and finish this chapter first. #beingawriter #joeywrites #indieauthor #writerlife #authorsofinstagram #authorslife #joeyisanauthor #awesome #youngadultbooks #amwriting #jowrimogo #bonuschapters #writersofinstagram #writesofig #authosofig #ilovewriting #booksinprogress #chronicillnessproblems #chronicillness #spoonie #oxygenuser #brittleasthma #fibromyalgia #chronicpain #flare

Monday, 17 July 2017

Challenge Accepted: 30 questions about me for #Darker2017

Fellow Darker signing author, Paula Acton, challenged all of the DarkerSideOfFction2017 authors to answer these thirty questions. You can find her responses here. And grab tickets for Darker here. And you can join the Facebook group here.

What did you want to be when you were a kid?
I always wanted, from a very young age, to be a doctor. It's what helped me choose my options at secondary school and then onto my one term at college. I never did A-levels and only recently got my degree finally. But I was going to be a paediatrician, it never happened because I got sick and that dream had to die.

Which Friends character do you relate to most? Why?
Either Monica or Phoebe. I loved Friends, but I also found it hard to be just one character. I relate to Monica for her strict organisation rules and feelings of being insecure. I relate to Phoebe for her mostly - give no fucks - attitude which I've been known to have.

Do you like your name? Why?

Now, see Joey is actually my legal name, but I prefer it to my proper name. I don't hate Joanne, but I feel like Joey is better for me. It's been what people call me for so very long that it's weird at hospital and such to be called Joanne!

Are you messy or neat?
I'm mostly neat, everything has it's place and all, but I do occasionally let things just live where they fall. I usually then get frustrated and go tidy it all up!

How tall are you?
5ft 4/5 I think. It's been a while since I was measured. I spend a lot of my life in my wheelchair so it's hard to garner height from that.

How tall were you when you were ten?
I think about 4ft 10, I was so desperate to be 5ft something though because I felt like I was too short.

What is your guilty pleasure?
Reading bad fanfic for the fandoms I'm a member of. I know it's bad, but it just makes me laugh.

What are you saving money for now?

Darker of course, but also a few other things like paying off a vet bill and lowering the debt on my credit cards. Money always too little of it!

How many Pringles can you eat at once?

Now, if it's just my Pringles, a whole can, but if I'm supposed to share less than that! I can fit about three in my mouth at once though!

Tea or coffee?
Tea, always tea. I'm actually allergic to coffee so it's always gonna be tea for me!

Are you an introvert or extrovert?

A bit of both. I know the word is Ambivert but I don't really meet that either. I don't mind talking on the phone or with people I know, but when it comes to meeting new people and/or being in a crowd, I tend to shrink back until I get more confident with them.

What will be your Hallowe’en costume this year?
I haven't thought that far in advance to be honest! I don't really do much with Hallowe'en. B (my carer and best friend and cover artist) will usually dress up with her daughter who'll be 13 this time round, but I generally stay home and hand out the sweets.

Sweet or salty?
Sweet, but sometimes I do crave some salty goodness.

Favourite social media?
I think it's a tie between Tumblr and Instagram. I love both, though I'm generally more active on Tumblr or Facebook.

Who is the last person you kissed?
I...actually can't remember, it's been that long! LOL

What is your favourite breakfast?

I was gonna say full English, but I am very happy with American pancakes, bacon and maple syrup. And I get it so very rarely!

When is your birthday?
January 6th, so twelve days after Christmas and all over at one end of the year.

When did you start your blog?
Oh back in January 2011 I think.

What is your opinion on the Kardashians?
I don't really have one, they matter that little to me.

How would you describe your style?
I don't really have one to be honest. I wear a lot of comfy clothes and do my hair so it looks less messy, but overall I don't have a style.

What colour is your hair?

Purple right now with a few brown roots, planning to get it done again just before the convention in my purple pixie cut!

What colour socks are you wearing?
I don't have any, nor do I normally wear them.

What is your dream job?
I'm doing it right now. Being a published author is living the dream for me!

Dogs or cats?
Both. I grew up with a Nan with the cats and a Nan with the dogs, and my family had both. However, as an adult I've only had cats. We have four right now. Mr. Dash and Miss Violet who are B's cats and Miss Penne and Miss Spaghetti who are mine. And yes they are named after pasta.

What makes you weird?
Lots of things! I have webbed toes on both feet, is just one example.

Celebrity crush?
Hmm...I was talking about this to a friend the other day, and I don't really have one, or at least one that is well known. So gonna go with Matt Willis from Busted.

Opinion on cigarettes?
I'm gonna admit here that I did smoke for a number of years. Yes, even with my health conditions. I quit in 2014 but I don't really have a big problem with them, apart from when I'm on oxygen and that's more a safety thing.

Do you want/have any children?
I don't have bio children, but I am the guardian, along with her mother, B, to a twelve year old. I've been there since the day she was born, and I'm her Aunty Joey. B and I have been best friends since we were thirteen and live together as friends.

Three favourite boy’s names.
Zack, Jack & Gray

Three favourite girl’s names.
Jessie, Rowena, Jasmine

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.

Sunday, 16 July 2017

From Joey's Instagram

#Repost @hourglassevents (@get_repost) ・・・ 🖤Summer Mayhem Competition 🖤 Do you want to win an Amazon Gift Card?! This is our last offer before the Darker Side of Fiction Event on the 7th October!! So we KNOW you love reading crime, horror, fantasy, thriller, sci-fi , paranormal and dystopian books which means you'll want to win the £15 Amazon voucher we are giving away!!! All you need to do is buy your Darker ticket before midnight on Tuesday 29th August and be entered into this fabulous prize draw. You know there's always room for a few more signed books 😈 Just click the Ticket Link #darker2017 #booksigning #eventplanning #TeamHourglass #authorsofinstagram #bookblogger #readersofinstagram #peterborough

Friday, 14 July 2017

Interview with Laura Frances and review of Slave

I am delighted to be welcoming Laura Frances to the blog today for an interview and a review of her book - Slave. Let's find out a little about Laura.

I grew up a shy thing, my head too full of daydreams. Now I'm a thirty-year-old wife and mother of two, living in Japan and teaching the English language. Slave (Book One) is my debut novel.

And onto the interview!

 What made you want to be a writer?
I have always had a big problem with daydreaming. I see something happening in real life, and my mind goes wild, shaping it into something over the top and ridiculous. (There's a reason The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is one of my favorite movies!) And in highschool, I loved creative writing assignments. When others were groaning, I was already crafting the whole thing in my head. So I guess creating stories is a built in part of me. I also find writing to be an outlet. I can express myself clearly and freely, in a way that I'm not always comfortable doing when talking. 

What kind of books do you read for pleasure?
All kinds! I love Tolkien, Austen, and C.S. Lewis, but I also love to read YA Dystopian (my current genre of choice), fantasy, historical fiction, clean romance... really anything that captures me. I'm really into characters. Obviously a solid, interesting plotline is important. But my favorite stories are the ones that make me feel like the characters are real and make me experience all of their emotions.

What kind of writer are you: plan or not?
I want to be a plotter, but I can never seem to do it. I write very much by the seat of my pants. I do have several notebooks that have random notes, diagrams, lists, timelines, ect from moments when I was working something specific out, but as for plotting out the whole book in advance...never happens.

How does your average writing time go?
A lot of listening to music and staring at the wall. I try to write in a cinematic way, so music helps me visualize the scenes as they might play out in a movie. Music also helps me feel the characters' emotions, so I always begin with my headphones on. Once the story starts coming out, I prefer dim lighting, a quiet corner, and a tall glass of water or matcha to sip.

What book/character of yours is your favourtie?
Hannah, my main protagonist, is easily my favorite. I suppose that's in part because I spent so much time shaping her. I tried to create a character who is brave, but also flawed and damaged. She's been fear-conditioned through the process of her childhood, so I aimed to make that feel realistic. In the end, I find she is someone I want to be like; she sees the courage in others and does the hard things, because if she doesn't she knows someone else will have to.

If you had the chance to write anywhere, where would you choose?
A cottage on the coast of Maine in the dead of winter. Weirdly specific, I know. But it's nostalgic for me. I only lived in those exact conditions for a short time, but I loved ever minute as a child.

What attracted you to your chosen genre?
I love the process of watching a person/character scramble out of the dark, dim life they've always known and into freedom, whether that be physical, emotional, whatever. It's the process that I'm obsessed with. And also that great moment of realization when everything suddenly makes sense, their eyes are clear, and their entire world shifts. I love the build up to that moment and tend to get emotional when they reach it.

How have other writers influenced your own writing?
The first YA Dystopian books I ever read were Suzanne Collins' Hunger Games series, followed by Veronica Roth's Divergent series. Their first person narratives, especially Roth's, really impacted the way I tell stories. I was completely absorbed, reading them from the protagonists' minds.
Another writer I love is Julianne Donaldson, who writes in a completely different genre from me. But she creates such vivid characters. I can see them clearly and get a real sense of their personalities, and that makes for a vibrant reading experience.

Do you have a writing playlist?
Or do you prefer silence? I do have a playlist. Lots of Sia. Some Amber Run. A couple songs by Fleurie... But it changes often depending on the scene I'm working on.

Do you have any hobbies?
I live in Japan, so my biggest hobby right now is learning to speak Japanese. It's hard!

What's your favourite kind of scene to write?
Any scene that deals with intense emotions. Scenes of overwhelming joy, devastation, fear, anticipation... Those tend to come the easiest and are kind of cathartic for me, because as an introvert/socially anxious type individual I tend to internalize a lot of my own (much less intense) emotions.
There is no sun. There is no moon. There is only gray—the smog belched from coal-fueled factories. The Workers silently shuffle to their assigned posts. The Outcasts watch from the alley walls. On every corner, a Watcher stands stone-faced, a rifle in hand. This is the only life that exists. Beyond the mountains is a dream. But dreams are foolish in a place like this.

Hannah has spent nineteen years dodging Watchers and doing as she is told.

Do not look Watchers in the eye. Don't give them a reason to notice you.

But when she wakes to the valley exploding in revolution, Hannah is forced onto a dangerous path, where nothing is what she believed. Suddenly freedom is in her grasp, and the way there requires working with the men she fears most

My review: 5 stars
I love me a good dystopian fiction and this is definitely one of the good ones. As a début novel it is brilliant. I loved the way the story was introduced and told from the first page. It was engaging and intriguing for how it worked. It didn't fall into tropes and it was original and told in a way that made it exciting and new. I loved Hannah and her story. Living in a world where a worker never questions or even makes eye contact with the watchers, it was an excellent story with many twists and turns that kept you turning the pages and going along for the ride. Highly recommended!

You can follow Laura on Facebook or Twitter.

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, 13 July 2017

Life Of Joey - July 2017 [CC]


Wednesday, 12 July 2017

From Joey's Instagram

And I'm up and about having started antibiotics. Hoping this fever finally breaks and I can get some writing done! #beingawriter #joeywrites #indieauthor #writerlife #authorsofinstagram #authorslife #joeyisanauthor #awesome #youngadultbooks #amwriting #jowrimogo #bonuschapters #writersofinstagram #writesofig #authosofig #ilovewriting #booksinprogress #chronicillnessproblems #chronicillness #spoonie #oxygenuser #brittleasthma #flare

Monday, 10 July 2017

Tales From My Sick Bed: Writing Must Go On


So, as I'm sure you'll be aware, I've not been around the past week other than to post my vlogs and other blog stuff. I've been sick, and it's had a big impact on my social media presence and my writing life. To give you a little background, I have several chronic conditions, the biggest one being a lung condition. Last Tuesday I woke up feeling pretty bad so headed to the local hospital where after a long day I was diagnosed with pleurisy and told to take it easy. I have been working pretty hard at both writing and editing and releases and all of that, and my doctor feels that I need to take some time off.

Of course, when you're an indie author, there's only so much time you can take off without having it make a big impact on your life. To begin with, he was adamant that I not write or do anything strenuous, having spend the last two months working really hard with few days off, my body has finally said: Nope. So we came to an agreement, I would work a few hours every day and spend the rest of my time resting and doing everything that went with it. It's been hard because I've gotten to that point where not writing feels just plain weird. But I don't want to get sicker, so I've following his rules.

For the next six weeks, I will be spending the majority of my time in bed, and yet I didn't want to leave my blog blank on the Monday's advice pieces but at the same time, I'm just not well enough to be doing a whole heap of work. So I came up with the idea of doing a few pieces about what it's like to write and be chronically ill. I've touched on some of these topics in the Spoonie Writer series, but I've never really had the chance to discuss it in detail beyond that. So today I decided to branch out and see what I could come up with.

One thing I have learnt from the early days of being sick was that I was limited in just how much work I could do from bed. These were back in the days before tablets and wifi and so everything that was written was either done by hand or typed into a laptop/computer. Since then technology has moved forward and I have the ultimate set up. I have a lovely purple husband pillow (we affectionately call him Jack), as well as a bed desk. I have a nice tablet, with a nice bluetooth keyboard. I have an oxygen machine upstairs because I spend so much time I'm spending in bed. So I'm set. I have my chapter plan and my character notes, and I can write.

Another thing I've learned from being sick is that if you can find a way to do something, you'll do it. So even though I feel pretty crap right now, I am still writing. It's the natural way for me to spend my time and losing that time can actually make me feel worse. Don't get me wrong, I am obeying my doctor - I don't want to get sicker or risk admission right now - but I'm still managing to get some work down during my up hours, and again during my down hours. It's nowhere near the level it was before, but for now I'll take it.

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.