Tuesday 1 October 2013

Questions from Readers - Part Five

A few weeks ago, Joey asked on her Facebook page for anyone with questions to email her about her books, being a writer, being disabled and anything else. This is the second batch of answers, feel free to send your own questions to Joey via email to bugbooks@virginmedia.com and she'll include them in the next post she does.
How much planning do you put into one book? How much research do you do?
It really does depend on each book. Some plots are ones that I can work out with little research needed. Others are outside of my own comfort zone and I rely a lot on information from people, websites and books. I like to be as accurate as I can be, but I also don't want to info dump into a book when it's not needed so I have to be careful not to add too much information than necessary. For the DYING THOUGHTS books, I am usually only using information that I already know. There is some research needed, but not all that much. For other books, such as my seventh which is due out next year, I had to do a bit more research and planning to make sure that I had all the information I needed. As far as planning goes, I am a meticulous planner. I make sure I have chapter plans and character note cards (for every character, even very minor ones) so that I can look back and make sure that as I write the book there are no continuity errors. Of course, sometimes they do happen, but I have a great editor who is good at not only spotting them, but also knowing what I meant to happen.

Who's your favourite character to write?
That's a hard one. By far, Tara is the character that I write about the most. I'm working on the sixth book in the series right now and it feels like I have grown up with her in regards to my writing career. However, I do like and love some of the characters I have created for standalone books. I don't think I've ever really written a character that I don't feel a connection with as a write. I also love the secondary characters, such as Kaolin or Tara's Dad. I guess though, that because of the amount of time I have spent with her, I do have a bias towards Tara. She's been there since almost the beginning and she's still there now.

What do you prefer, writer or author?
In terms of what I call myself,  I will prefer to use the term "writer", but I would class my job title as "author" so I don't really have that much of a preference. I figure they both mean the same thing, except that author is usually only used for people who have been published. I would say that the term author denotes more a profession than a pastime, but personally, I like both and I use them interchangeably. 

Why do you write so many books in advance? Why not just release all the ones you have finished straight away?

When I started writing, I was full of ideas and never really wanted to wait for a publisher to sign me up before I wrote another book or two. I also was very aware of my health conditions and the limitations they had over my life. Although I am now an indie author and have a lot more control over when and how often I publish, I do prefer to keep some books "in reserve" so to speak. I like the idea that I am able to wait and then if I do not finish another book as quickly as I would have liked, I still have one ready to be published. It would take a lot of work for both myself, my graphic artist and my editor to get all the books I've written out and published ASAP. It could be done, but I do not work well under pressure and do not want to be worried about how long it takes me to finish a book, or how long the editing and after process takes. My way works for me and I'm happy with it.

How easy is it to be an indie writer?
That really does depend on how you look at it. As I have said in the past, there are pros and cons of both routes. When you are signed on by a traditional publisher, you have a lot of the behind the scenes work done for you. They will help you with editing, cover design, promotion and all those things that you don't realise you'll need until you're faced with doing it yourself. That said, being an indie author is not that hard. With the age of e-books upon us, it is low cost to publish under your own label or with a smaller publishing house. There are sites like Amazon, and Smashwords that will take care of the distribution of your books and other sites like Createspace that do that for hard copies. However, you need to find a proof reader or if you want a more detailed breakdown, an editor. There are lots of them out there who are independent and who work only with indie authors. I follow more than a few on my Facebook page. Alongside that, you need to find someone, or have the skills yourself, to design a cover and any promotional graphics. You need a Facebook page and you need to get it noticed - again, not as hard as it may seem when you use some of the pages dedicated to helping indie authors. You need to have some idea about where to start, when to run promotions or coupons and how to market your book, and yourself to the general public. It's hard work and it's not all free. You need to set a budget and be realistic about it. You can't just expect other people to work for free and you can't expect to press "publish" and then have the royalties roll in. If people don't know that your book is out there, how are you going to make money? It's not easy, but it's also not impossible, there are an abundance of resources for indie authors and you need to find some connections to make the most of those resources. I've been under the Bug Books label since 2005 and I'm still learning the ropes!

Do you ever get confused whilst writing two books at once? 

A lot of people ask me this, but what I do is not something that's unusual for many writers. I am by no means the first or the last writer that has more than one project going at once. I may be in the minority of writers who write full length novels at once, but it's not as strange as it may sound. I plan a lot and I always go through the previous two chapters before checking my chapter plan and carrying on with the story. I can honestly say that I have never gotten confused. I think it's because usually I'm writing both a standalone and a DYING THOUGHTS book, so they are both very different. 

Do you ever feel like writing more than two chapters of one book and not switch to the other? 

Sometimes, if I'm fully in the plot and know that I'm about to do a big reveal and then end the chapter and switch over to the other book I do feel like just carrying on. I don't because if I did that, I would probably never get the other book done! I have never been so stuck with one that I have given up and written more of the other. I like setting things up in previous chapters and then coming back and thinking "Oh yes, now I get to tell/show the reader this!" and it excites me and off I go.

How long have you been disabled?

That depends on how you define "disabled". If you mean how long have I been sick, most of my life. If you mean how long have I used a wheelchair, since I was twenty.

Do you ever get so stuck with a book that you stop writing it and leave it unfinished? 

Yes, a couple of times I have started a book, written a couple of chapters and realised that I am just not able to finish it. Both times I have come back at a later date, switched a few things around - like the whole plot, but keeping the characters - and started again. One of those times was with the original story of LYNNE & HOPE I had planned for Hope to be disabled, but I didn't plan for Lynne to be her sister, or even alive. She was going to be a ghost that haunted Hope's house and wanted her to solve her murder. The second time, I changed everything but the religious aspect and that has turned into one of the books I'm writing now.

Have you ever based a character on yourself?
I think in a way, a little part of me ends up in every character I write. Whether it's my use of sarcasm or the my view on certain things. I infuse myself into every character. However, I have not based any characters completely on myself. People don't want to read about one person over and over, they want new people and so I try to keep the characters unique and as unlike me as possible.

Do you have any pets?

I do, I have two cats. Miss Penne, who's a black, white and ginger cat and Miss Spaghetti (also called Hetti) who's a black and white cat. I named them both after types of pasta. It's a tradition that started with a kitten I was given when I was fifteen. My mum wanted me to call her something "different" and since my favourite dish at the time was Macaroni Cheese, she was called Macaroni, after her came Tagliatelle and now the two I have at the moment.

Why did you choose to write in the young adult genre?

When I started writing my first book, I was part of the young adult genre. I was nineteen and I felt it was easier to write for people my own age. Since then I have found that I prefer to write for young adults because you can get away with things like psychic powers and seeing ghosts.

Do you ever intend to write books for adults?

I have no plans to at the moment, but that's not to say that I won't ever write for adults. I read mostly adult crime fiction as well as some "chick lit" and romance, but I can't imagine myself being able to write stories that would appeal to older people. Having said that, I do know that there are some older readers of my books, but I don't see myself writing about Tara when she reaches her twenties.

Where do you get the ideas for your titles? 

Usually the same place that I get the ideas for the stories. They just come to me. Sometimes they arrive before the book idea does, other times they don't become clear until I've already started the book. 

Do you ever intend to release your books as paperbacks? 

I do, I am waiting on the new front covers from my graphic artist so that they can be released with the updated covers. Once that is done, she'll make them into a book format and the books currently released will come out as paperbacks too.

Do you play any musical instruments? 

I do, I play both the Ukulele and the Oboe. I actually sing in a band called "The Rocking Dodars". I write the songs and my band mates do the music and then I add a vocal track. 

What do you do to relax and have fun?

I read, I watch TV, I play online and I play Ukulele. I don't have as much spare time as I used to with university and such, but I try to have a few hours in the evening to unwind and do something fun.

If you could spend a day with anyone living or dead, who would it be and why?
If it had to be someone I knew personally, I was spend it with a friend of mine who died in 2008. her name was Lynn Gilderdale, but I knew her as Jessie Oliver. I would talk to her, catch up and just spend time being with her. If it was someone I didn't know then it would probably be someone like Harlan Coben or Sue Grafton who are both writers that I admire greatly.

What are you studying at uni?

I am a few days from starting my fifth and final year for a BA/BSc (Hons) in Health and Social Care. 

Follow Joey on her Facebook page or here on her blog to be kept up to date with everything Joey related. If you have a question for Joey, you can email her at bugbooks@virginmedia.com.