Friday, 14 June 2019

Interview with Michael J Moore and review of After The Change


I an delighted to be joined by Michael J Moore on the blog for both an interview and my review of his book: After The Change. Here's a little about Michael.

Michael J. Moore lives in Seattle with his partner in life, and in literacy.  His spare time is spent searching the darkest corners of his mind for whatever horrors, oddities or fascinations have found their way in, begging expression in his unique literary voice. He writes because the stories haunt him if he doesn't. He is the author of Bronte's Ride, and the young adult series, After the Change.

And onto the interview!

In your own writing, which character of yours do you relate to most?
I relate most to Gabriela Urieta, from Ninja Girl. (set to be released this year by Rainier Publishing House).  I've written the first two books in her series, and both times I've been able to connect with her on a very personal level.

Do you read your own genre? Is it a favourite?
Of course my own genre is my favourite. I write in two genres, horror and young adult. I don't read books in these genres because it's what I write, though. I write the books because it's what I would like to read.

If you had to describe your style in three words, what would they be?
Fun. Character-based. Psychological.

What was the first story you ever told?
Wow. That goes back, actually, to my earliest memory. I must've been four at the time, sitting on my bedroom floor playing with my action figures. I never could settle for a simple battle. There always had to be some elaborate storyline that built up the action. It usually consisted of WWF wrestlers versus Ninja Turtles. Obviously the turtles had to win (aside from a casualty or two).

Was writing always your dream choice of career?
No. It was when I was very young. I remember writing a short thriller in the fourth grade, and the school librarian was so impressed that she encouraged me to enter into some young authors contest. I never did, but I wrote periodically after that. All my English teachers pushed me to pursue it and in the back of my mind, I always planned to. It wasn't until a few years ago, though, that I realized that writing wasn't just something I was good at, but what I needed to be doing.

Do you have a writing space? Pictures or descriptions!
Yes! It's the most bland, little room you could imagine, with white walls and a tiny wooden desk--two feet, by two feet. It keeps me from becoming distracted during the long hours I spend in it, and allows me to retreat into my real writing space, which is the part of my mind where the stories get stuck after having found their way in.

Playlists? Yes or no? And why?
No playlist. It's loud enough in my head already.

Which social media do you see as a must for writers?
I think they're all valuable for keeping your readers connected. I prefer Facebook, mostly because I've grown used to it over the years.

Where do you hang out most online?
I hang out mostly on Facebook or Twitter.

Do you have a favourite app for writing?
No, actually I don’t, unless you consider Microsoft Word.

Organised or not?
No. Unfortunately, organisation is not among my talents. I write everything longhand first, then edit and revise before I start typing up my next draft. I recently had to go through a stack of papers and throw away everything that's been typed, published, or accepted somewhere because the mess was becoming unmanageable.

What's your favourite book you've read?
I’m a huge fan of Stephen King.  So my favourite book is one of his called “Joyland”.

Morning or evening writer?
When I'm working on a novel, I like to finish at least 2500 words a day. If I can, I try to get the bulk of this done in the mornings when my mind is fresh. I usually end up having to do some catching up in the evening, though.

If you had a hashtag for your books, what would it be?
#michaeljmoorewriting






Diego Conner was at school when his world changed. As soon as his classmates started killing each other, he ran. Then, when he got home, his parents tried to eat him. They weren’t zombies though. They were alive and could be killed like any other living thing. He chose to simply call them “the changed”.
The only people he knew who didn’t turn were his friends, Sheena and Wes. With their families gone, the fifteen year olds are forced to look out for each another, constantly moving and hiding in the shadows. Eventually, though, they decided to search for survivors and colonize a local prison. Along the way, they quickly learn that the brainless, flesh-eating monsters that roam the streets are the least of their worries after the change.
My review: 5 stars
I picked this up because of the blurb. It looked to be an interesting book and I was not disappointed by what I read. Diego and his friends survived the change, bu they're running for their lives. Alone, lost and without any idea of what to do next, they're looking to just survive and find some way to live with this new world and new normal. The story is engaging from the first chapter, you find yourself rooting for the characters and everything they go through. You will get drawn into the story and find yourself reading it in one go. It is amazingly written and I adored it. Recommended!

You can follow Michael on Facebook and his 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

Tuesday, 11 June 2019

#TEASER TUESDAY


Lana sees no point is Lock admitting her part, but can Lock live with that?

PRE-ORDER HERE: http://www.books2read.com/LOUT

PRE-ORDER SWAG SIGN UP: https://forms.gle/frPAVR8JZycXjozm8


[ID: A graphic for a teaser from Lights out. The background is a light bulb burning out with the title of the book and release date of July 10th 2019. The excerpt reads:
“But if…,” I started to say.
“Yeah, if, if she wasn’t lying, if she really was thirty-five, if her chip was faulty, if her ID wasn’t a fake, all these ifs and we’re talking about your life here, Lock. She’s gone, nothing is going to bring her back and as far as we know, no error was made. If it turns out that there was, then just chalk it up to experience. Don’t make the same mistake again, but also, don’t throw your life away just in case.”

END ID]

Monday, 10 June 2019

Writing The End - The Creative Process


WRITING THE END

I've wanted to do a piece on this for a while. It's simply been that I've never gotten a space in the writing ideas at the same times as I'm close to, or have recently finished something. I plan to go into what comes after the end next week, but for now I'm focusing on the actual act of finishing the book and getting that lovely rush that you finally managed to write a whole story from beginning to end.

A lot of people talk about how hard it is to write a book, and they're right. It's not an easy task. It's not something that just anyone can do. I mean a lot of people try and they never quite manage to get from beginning to middle to end. The amount of time it takes doesn't matter. I've written first drafts in everything from 10 days to 16 years. So it can take a while, and I'm known for saying that it does take as long as it takes and that's okay.

But you've finally gotten to that point where you've tied up your loose ends, you've delivered on your climax, you've decided who's going to go on to do what and you've written those words. Now I personally stick to four hashtags as the mark the book is finished, but a lot of writers will use those two works as their sign off. And it can be a massive adrenaline rush to finally reach that point. It's not the end of the work by a long stretch, but it signifies something that a lot of people will never do in their lives: finish a book.

So what can you do to celebrate? It might seem silly to celebrate when, like I said, you still have a ton of work ahead of you, but I feel like it's worth treating yourself to a mini party if nothing else. Usually when I finish a first draft, my friends will cheer with me, and we'll have something nice for dessert after dinner, but it doesn't go beyond that. It's enough for me to acknowledge the work I've done, the work ahead of me and that I've made it this far.

When it comes to bigger things like releases, that's when the big celebrations happen, but for me recently I've finished a series which took me over two years from start to finish. The first book of which comes out in 2020. Finishing a series, or a trilogy, any set of books that has been a lot more work than just the normal standalone brings with it. There's the making sure that all the threads go through each book and join up at the end. The character growth that needs to happen so that the people we meet at the start of book one grow by the end of the final book. It's a lot to track and a lot of work, and ending a series can be both exhilarating and bitter sweet at the same time.

I say this, not just because it's something I've done recently, but also because I'm in the process of publishing the final book in the Dying Thoughts series. A series that took me nearly 15 years from start to finish and even then has taken even longer to get it ready to send out into the world. And now that it's finally here, and it's almost done, it feels a little wrong to be finally saying goodbye to Tara for good. She's been a part of my writing world for so long that closing the door and allowing her to have her adventures without me feels off somehow. But yet I do see it as a great achievement as I should.

The long and short of it is, there's nothing quite like finishing a book, whether that's the first draft of the revision process, or the editing process or even the final steps towards publication, it's a rush that can fill me up for days. So if you're nearing the end, just remember to buckle down and keep writing, you will get there!


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, 7 June 2019

Interview with Joy Jones


I am delighted to welcome Joy Jones to the blog for an interview! Here's a little about Joy:

Performance poetry, training workshops, storytelling, classroom teaching - Joy Jones has addressed countless audiences. She is the director the of performance poetry group, The Spoken Word and founder of the multigenerational double Dutch team, DC Retro Jumpers. Jones is the author of several books including Private Lessons: A Book of Meditations for Teachers. and Tambourine Moon, which was selected as one of the best books for children by the black caucus of the ALA and featured on the Bernie Mac show. Fearless Public Speaking debuts Spring, 2019. Visit her at www.joyjonesOnline.com.

And onto the interview!

Do you read in your own genre?
Yes, I read Young Adult titles, both fiction and nonfiction. But that’s because I read everything and anything. Fearless Public Speaking is my first book for teens. I've also written a picture book, Tambourine Moon. Generally speaking, novels and biographies are my favorite genres whether for adults or children. I especially like books where the protagonist makes a180-degree change in thinking. Liberal to conservative. Lawmaker to outlaw. Believer to atheist. Victim to victor. It doesn't matter in which direction they travel. I'm fascinated by the transformation.

If you had to describe your style in 3 words, what would they be?
The main word that comes to mind is promiscuous - because I shamelessly love it all. Writing stories, telling stories, poetry, prose, plays, picture books, articles, op-eds, novels, newspapers, on and on and on...

What was the first story you ever told?
I can’t remember the first story I ever told but I can remember the first story I ever read. It was called Tip and it was about a dog. I was in first grade and that was the reader we used. It was the first book where I knew every word. I can still see myself reading the story aloud to my daddy. Over and over. (Poor man!) I could read a whole book! How wonderful was that!

Was writing always your dream choice of career?
Yes. I knew I wanted to tell stories since early childhood. Everyday in every way. On the page and on the stage. My daily deed and sacred creed is to feed the need to read. All things literary are very necessary. Okay, I’ll stop now.     

Do you have a writing space? Pictures or descriptions?
My favorite place to write is propped in bed. That’s where first drafts happen. Creativity and clutter are literally my bedfellows. Then I go to the computer. More creativity and clutter ensue.

Where do you hang out most online?
The main place I hang out online currently is Instagram. Come on over and say hi to me at #Joyjones1433. I like to post items about the creative process.

Organised or not   
Organized? Ha-ha-ha-ha...                                                                                                 

Morning or Evening writer?
I’m at my best in the morning. But given that I’m not organized and even when I am organized, life doesn’t bend itself to my desire or direction, I write whenever I can snatch the opportunity. Lately, I’ve been doing my most writing whenever it’s quiet at work. Fearless Public Speaking was a little different. It got its start at The Millay Colony, a secluded wooded retreat for artists in New York state. The revisions, however, were done lounging in my bed or in stolen moments at the job.

You can follow Joy on Instagram and 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

Tuesday, 4 June 2019

#Teaser Tuesday

It all begins with Martha Connors. Is she lying or is she being sent to her death too soon?

.

Pre-order here: http://www.books2read.comLOUT


[ID: A graphic of a light bulb burning out. The heading LIGHTS OUT and the release date below it of July 10th 2019. The excerpt reads:

“Yes, sorry, I didn’t mean to leave you waiting,” I replied. “Can I have your ID please?”
“I came, but I didn’t think I should, but I’m here like the email said,” she rambled as she handed over her ID. I placed it on the scanner and checked the name.
“Martha Connors?”
“Yes, that’s me, but you see there must be some mistake,” she said. “I mean, I’m only thirty-five, but I got the email and I didn’t want to ignore it in case I got in trouble.”
I paused for a moment. “Thirty-five?” I asked, grabbing her ID off the scanner before it could finish. I checked it over and sure enough, her date of birth matched with what she was saying. “When did you get the email?”

END ID]

Monday, 3 June 2019

Spoonie Writer: Juggling Illness & Writing


SPOONIE WRITER: JUGGLING ILLNESS & WRITING

I've done pieces recently about the burnout I suffered at the tail end of 2018 and into 2019. (Piece found here) I wanted to touch on this again as a spoonie writer because I feel like it's something that applies to both me as an author and me as a spoonie and it might be something that can help others in the same situation. Just to clarify, I am doing better from the burnout. I took time for myself, allowed some self-care and gave myself the space to refill my creative well. On top of that I have been dealing with new symptoms which I've talked about on my Authortube channel and will briefly go into here.

For the past three months I have had what seems to be an allergy rash. We've treated it long term with steroids and a new anti-histamine, but there is the very real possibility that I have developed another condition to go with my others. Everything is up in the air, but it's looking to be auto-immune and could be anything from Lupus to arthritis to even just my body being the butt it is from time to time. I mention it because for a period they were concerned that it was simply brought about by the stress of working myself too hard, and that's a very real problem when you're a spoonie and trying to hold down a job of some sorts, especially a creative one that requires a lot of active planning and brain power.

When I talk about juggling illness and writing, I am usually talking about a long term illness. I do get colds and such from time to time, everybody does, but generally they don't hang around for long and you're, usually, able to take time off your working life until you recover. The same can not be said for a long term illness. I don't work a conventional job, and some days I don't work at all, but when I'm having to work through a flare or a hiccup in my health, I'm usually on deadline and having to do so because of the people and timing depending on me.

Like right now, I am in the midst of my second book release of the year. I also have a third planned, so have been juggling editing, proof-reading, promo, cover reveals, ARC readers and the like since the beginning of the year and it's not about to stop any time soon. Now of course, I could, as an indie author, choose to change the release dates, but I have put time and energy into making sure these releases go off without a hitch on the time frame I have promised. That means a lot of pressure on me to make sure I keep up with things.

So how do I cope with all of that while also keeping myself as healthy as I can be? Glad you asked, because I'm gonna tell you five things that I do to make sure I stay on deadline, but also don't make myself sick or sicker depending on the day of the week.

#1 - HAVE A PLAN
I've always been someone who's organised, and that's the same when it comes to my writing and releases and such. I know what needs to be done by when and having that gives me some breathing room and helps manage my anxiety. If I have a day when I'm not able to work, then I can look at my plan and know that I'm on track. For me it's always been sticky notes, I'd show you them but they have spoilers right now! But whatever works for you is the best option.

#2 - MAKE TIME TO REST

I have been doing a lot of resting these past few months. It means that I am over thirty books ahead on my Goodreads challenge because for me, nothing says rest like a good book to read. I have days when I'll be writing and that means setting aside time in the evening to wind down, read and catch my breath as it were. I also have days when I have nothing to do but small pieces of admin, like writing blog posts or vlog scripts. These are my days off, even though people tell me that since I'm still doing something related to work they don't count, but they do for me. I also have complete days off, these are days I plan to do nothing related to my author platform. They are sacred and important because they allow me to take a step back and recharge.

#3 - ALLOW FOR CATCH UP DAYS
If you're on deadline, during something like a a release or edits or something like that, then you need to be sure you have days that allow for some breathing room. These will be a lifesaver for you because they will give you a chance to reassess what you need to do, and know whether or not things need to be changed. I personally have dates that I already know will be the limit, but have plans to get things done before those dates so that if I have to push things back, I'm not going to miss the deadline. It helps me with my anxiety and it also allows for other issues outside of my control.

#4 - REMEMBER THAT SOME THINGS ARE OUT OF YOUR CONTROL
I'm talking about waiting on other people, like for my first release of the year, I ran into issues with my editor getting behind because of her own work schedule. I couldn't do anything about that and so getting the book ready for release and off to the proof-reader and from there to ARC readers were a massive headache for me, but it was helped by having friends around who could remind me that it could be done. And it was done, because of those catch up days and because of having set those deadlines, I was able to meet the goals set with minimal stress to me and my health.

And finally, #5 - GIVE YOURSELF SOME GRACE
I say this as someone who is usually hard on themselves. Especially when I'm on a deadline. I expect to give 110% to my work and to get it all done, but I'm not superwoman and neither are you. Allow yourself the time to heal if you need it, be careful with yourself because you are only human and you will make mistakes and that's okay. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off and get back to it. You're allowed to need time off and you're allowed to need space. It's all part of the process.

So those are my five tips when it comes to juggling your illness and your writing. I know that I've mostly focused on releases, but these can all be applied to other facets of the writing life. I have gone easy on myself these past few months and I plan to continue it going forward as well. You have to take care of yourself because that's how you keep writing and keep creating.


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, 31 May 2019

Guest Blog - Zarina Macha - 10 Awesome Characters In Literature


10 Awesome Characters in Literature

I believe that the best stories are the ones in which the characters drive the plot. Through their eyes we’re absorbed into the depth of the world they inhabit, filled with colour in every shade. Not all protagonists need to be likeable, merely fascinating and insightful enough to realistically draw us into their tale. Here are ten I think are fabulous.

Tyrion Lannister from ‘A Song of Ice and Fire.’

Tyrion has got to be one of my most favourite characters in the history of anything. He is intelligent, kind, witty, and most of all, an underdog. He constantly gets accused of crimes yet the only thing he is guilty of is being a dwarf. Few recognise his talents, least of all his cruel and emotionally abusive father and sister. My hope is he will live to rule over those who mocked him.

Hermione Granger from ‘Harry Potter.’

Hermione is a character I related to a lot growing up. She was my curly-haired geeky soul-sister, fiercely loyal to Harry and Ron while retaining her code of ethics. Cut from the films is her work through S.P.E.W, an organisation dedicated to helping house-elves gain fairer rights. While she can be irritatingly self-righteous at times, it adds more depth to her character and shows her strengths and flaws.

Eleanor Oliphant from ‘Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine.’
This amazing novel wouldn’t stand without its unusual heroine. Eleanor is hilarious to read about, and yet we ache for the sadness she carries due to her heinous upbringing. At the start its unsure what to make of her, but by the end we love and root for all she has endured. She represents someone who strives to change and make the best of their life, despite horrible circumstances. I think that is very admirable and lovely to read about.

Steven Stelfox from ‘Kill Your Friends.’

Okay, first nasty character on this list. Steven is one of the vilest characters I’ve come across in fiction. He’s a racist, homophobic, misogynistic, entitled, self-absorbed psychopath and I absolutely ADORE reading about him. He is very well fleshed-out and it’s fabulous reading his awful scheming thoughts in John Niven’s books that feature this anti-hero we love to hate.

The Loser’s Club from ‘It’

I don’t want to saturate this list with Stephen King characters (as he is one of my favourite authors) so am just going to pick the best seven. Bev, Richie, Ben, Bill, Mike, Stan and Eddie are some of the most wonderful, courageous, brilliant people ever. Spending over a thousand pages with them all isn’t enough; the story of how they band together to triumph against evil is beautiful and heart-breaking all at once.

Piggy from ‘Lord of the Flies’
Piggy is wonderful; his fate is tragic, and I loved reading about him when I read this book. He’s another ‘underdog’ character who is under-estimated by the pack, and yet is the most rational, clever and sensitive person who ends up suffering due to the cruel indifference of his peers.

Kate Reddy from ‘I Don’t Know How She Does It’

Kate is one of my favourite realistic heroines (the book version, not the dreadful movie version – sorry Sarah Jessica Parker, I loved you as Carrie but not as a middle-class British fund manager). Her story is both hilarious and sad; seeing her struggle to juggle a high-powered job and a family shows the problems of trying to ‘have it all’ as a modern woman. The pressures of feminism are highlighted as Pearson shows us that women need to be realistic about what we can do without compromising our physical and emotional health. Having a fulfilling career is amazing, but so is being a loving wife and stay-at-home mother.

Sephy Hadley from ‘Noughts and Crosses’

A tough, empathetic woman trapped in a society that says black and white people can’t be together (sound familiar?) Malorie Blackman turns the tables in this series; Sephy is a wealthy black Cross whose father works in the government, and Callum is a poor white Nought whose family can barely get by. The two friends-turned-lovers grow up together in a world that tries to tear them apart. Despite it all, Sephy remains resilient throughout the series, and watching her grow and raise her child inspires hope.

Atticus Finch from ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’

Another story about racial tension, this time rooted in reality. I love Atticus because he is kind, intelligent, loyal and sees the good in people. He fights to defend an innocent man on trial and teaches his children to be loving and brave. (Reminds me of Ned Stark; the archetypal caring and wise father figure). Atticus takes a stand where others do not, and his lessons rub off on Scout.

Christopher from ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time’

Like Eleanor Oliphant, he is an unusual protagonist we can’t help but love. The ending is beautiful and almost brings tears to my eyes, thinking about this autistic boy who views the world through such an innocent and questioning lens. His journey is amazing and written in a clever yet simple style.

And so those are ten characters from literature whom I think are awesome! Thanks to the wonderful Joey Paul for letting me appear as a guest on her blog to share these fictional beauties with you. Who are some characters you enjoy? Let me know!

Zarina Macha is an author, blogger and musician. Her novel ‘Anne’ will be out June 3rd. Check out her blog, website and social media for links to her work:

http://www.thezarinamachablog.co.uk


http://www.zarinamacha.co.uk

http://www.facebook.com/zarinawriter

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