Tuesday 29 July 2014

WAITING ON YOU had been released :D

WAITING ON YOU has been released! You can find it here on the Amazon UK site, and here on the Amazon US site.

There have already been two reviews posted on Goodreads, which you can see here. Please do add it to your to-be-read pile and leave a review!

Friday 18 July 2014

Spoonie Writer: When You're Too Sick To Write

Spoonie Writer: When You're Too Sick To Write

One thing you quickly learn when you're a "spoonie" and chronically ill is that you have to choose how to spend your "spoons" wisely. Just as you have to learn how to say no (a piece about this is found here) and you have to learn how to write whilst actively having a flare or an attack (a piece about this is found here), you also have to learn that sometimes you're simply just too sick to do any writing - no matter how much you wish you could.

In my thirteen years of both being a writer and being chronically ill, I have learnt a few tricks for what can be done when you want to write, but are just too sick to do it. These things can be done alongside an ongoing project, or as a way to keep your creative juices flowing. They may not work for everyone, but they have, over the years, worked well for me.

When I started going to college back in 2005, I was given a Dictaphone as part of my Disabled Student Allowance. The idea was that if I was too sick to attend a class, I could give it to someone and they could record all that was said. That would then give me the chance to go through the tape at a later date when I was more able to make notes. These days, there's an app for everything and most smart phones will have a note taking system that allows you to talk inside of type. I use this a lot when I'm stuck in bed to talk about an idea I have, or a writing piece I want to do. This piece was thought up during a recent overnight hospital trip and I was able to use my phone to record eveything I wanted to cover.

Now that I'm feeling able to sit at my computer, I can play it back and listen. Some of what is said is purely ideas that will go nowhere. Other pieces are bits I can use in my current works in progress as well as in this very writing piece. My advice to anyone who finds themselves unable to write on their phone or on a pad of paper, is to look into a free app (or use the phone's default if it has one) and play around with it until you get what you're looking for. It is also really useful for those late night thoughts. (I covered this idea in this piece here).

While the mind is not always reliable when it comes to recalling things at a later date, especially if you're overtired, in pain or struggling to breathe, it can be a useful tool when you want to plan something or write something that your conditions are preventing you from actually doing. Sometimes, slipping away from the reality of being sick can be a great blessing and a way for you to plot out the next chapter, or think about a blog piece you've been meaning to write. I find that when I am too sick to leave my bed, or stuck in hospital and too sick to write on my tablet, I can spend a good few hours just thinking about plot devices, blog pieces, character traits, anything to keep my mind off the pain or how crap I feel. You may not be able to look back upon a record of it later, but it can help you work out some problems with the plot or direction of your story that you possibly wouldn't have thought of, or might have spent time fighting with during an attack of writer's block instead. When you're sick, sometimes you need to have an escape and sometimes that escape can be just a mental visit to the set of your novel.


I am the kind of person who likes to plan and discuss plot lines with a few trusted friends. Sometimes I'll have an idea but nowhere to take it. Other times I'll have some semblance of a plot but no idea how to begin or flesh it out. It's times like these that I find that talking with my best friend about it, and discussing everything that could happen really fills the hours we spend at hospitals and with me stuck in bed. She's helped me craft some of my best ideas - and talked me out of some of my worst ones! So, if you're not up to writing, but you are able to talk, then this is a way to keep the flow of ideas going by discussing it with a friend, or another writer that you trust.

Although I may not be well enough at times to delve into my plot head-first and start to create, there are other aspects of writing that I am well enough to do. One of those is making notes about a new project, or planning a chapter or two. I can also do some light research or catch up on some emails. I can plan blog pieces and even write out an outline of what I want to do and where I want things to go. I can contact a few places for a review. Or I can read a book or two to give me some ideas that might work for my own novels. As discussed in the reading piece I did (found here), it's a great tool for any aspiring or published author. It allows you to see how others are doing things and work out how you would deal with the same situation.

So, those are my tips, and things I do when I'm too sick to actually sit at the keyboard and bang out a chapter or two. Everyone is different and every condition is different, so these might not all apply to you. In fact some of them may even just not work for your situation. So, if you have any of your own tips, please feel free to add them in the comments below!

Follow Joey on Facebook or here on her blog to be kept up to date with the latest news regarding Joey and her books.

Thursday 17 July 2014

Links, Guest Posts and other updates

Hi Readers!

Since I've been doing a lot of writing (just one chapter left to write of book twelve!) and going through the drug trial (half way now!) I realised that there have been a lot of guest blog posts and such that I haven't brought to your attention, unless you're following my Facebook and if not, why not?! So, to make it easier, here's a list of all that's happened since April/May time!

I did a guest blog piece for the wonderful, Brenda Perlin entitled "Writing The Dying Thoughts Series" which can be found here.

I also did a piece about called "Writing Whilst Disabled", for the ever lovely Laurie Boris found here.

I was also lucky enough to be part of Angie Martin's "Feature Friday", where I let Tara take the keyboard and write her own piece. This can be found below:


Hi everybody, my name is Joey Paul and I'm an indie author. I have published six books, and almost finished writing my eleventh and twelfth ones. Normally when I do these kinds of pieces, I write about myself, but I figured you've all heard enough about me, so here's an introduction to my favourite, longest-running character - Tara Leverton. Before I hand her the keyboard, I'd just like to explain that she's the main character in my Dying Thoughts Series. She'll tell you the rest.

*hands keyboard to Tara*

Hi! I'm Tara and I'm not used to these kinds of things so you'll have to excuse me if I ramble a bit. I'm sixteen and although Joey's further along in my story than the rest of you, I'll do my best not to spoil you.

You see, I never thought that anyone would want to write a single book about me, let alone a series of more than three! I wondered whether Joey would do my story justice or if she'd just get bored and stop writing (which she has done at times), but mostly she's stuck with me and my world. You may be wondering what's so important and awesome about me that someone would want to write a whole series about my life? Yeah, I would've wondered the same thing too.

I have a... well... umm... gift. I see the last moments of someone's life when I touch something that used to belong to them. I know, I know, it's dumb, right? It's also super annoying and for the first nine years of being, well, gifted, I didn't know why it had happened or what it meant and my dad wasn't exactly forthcoming about it all. You may have heard of my dad, he was a big pop star when I was a kid. His name is Colin Leverton. If you've heard of him, you'll know what happened to my mum too. But if not, here's a little catch-up.

When I was six and oblivious to all things supernatural, and my mum was alive, we all lived happily together. Anyway, it turned out that Mum had the same gift as me. She'd gotten it from her grandmother when she died and she ended up working with the police to solve crimes. Cool, huh? I knew nothing about this though, and then things got a little, well, shitty. Dad was stalked by a crazed fan, who believed that I was really her daughter (I told you she was nuts) and she ended up stabbing my mum. Mum died, Siobhan (the stalker) was sent away and locked up, and then it was just Dad and me. He retired from the music business and devoted his life to making sure I was safe, loved and cared for. I don't really think he knew in the beginning that my mother's death had triggered the ability she'd passed on to me. I don't know for sure if he was even aware that I used to touch stuff on her dresser so that I could see her again (as well as her gruesome death, but for me that didn't really matter).

Yeah, I was messed up. I'd never really been one who was in touch with her feelings, and even now, a decade later, my father still gets teary eyed when we talk about Mum. I think when he realised I had the same gift, that's when his over-protectiveness came into play. See, when I'm having visions, to an onlooker it looks like I'm having a seizure and I often got dragged to the hospital where I was under the care of this really cool doctor. He knew I wasn't faking, despite what other people were saying, but there was nothing physically wrong with me. I didn't have epilepsy and I didn't know anything about my gift at that point, so I was just as confused as everyone else. I didn't tell them what I saw (for obvious reasons) and I never really confronted my dad although I know that on some level, he must (well he *did*), know what was actually happening to me.

Enter my best friend, Kaolin! When I got caught up in solving her father's murder and then got questioned by a police officer who I'm now really good friends with, Dad came clean and told me that yeah, he'd known what it was and that he'd only been trying to "protect" me. He said it was what my mum would have wanted. I was beyond pissed because he'd outright lied to me! He'd let me believe I was nuts! I mean, wouldn't you have felt the same way? I was so very very angry with him and it took me a while to forgive him for that.

Life moves on though, and the outcome of it all was that I got to follow in my mum's footprints and start using my gift to help people. That's pretty cool, and it means my life became interesting enough to be written about. So yeah, that's me, Tara, and that's why I have books written about me. Thanks for reading, I have to go and get on with a case coz... oops... I said no spoilers, so I'll leave it there!

*Joey takes back the keyboard*

You can read about Tara's adventures in the Dying Thoughts Series starting with Dying Thoughts - First Touch. They can be found on Amazon, Smashwords, iBook, Kobo, Barnes & Noble and many other e-book stores. You can also follow me on my blog or on Facebook and join in the fun as we count down to my seventh release and beyond!


I was also asked to write about the moment I knew I had "made it" as an author, Jenny Milchman, which can also be found below.


I was nineteen when I was diagnosed with both M.E and Fibromyalgia, on top of a few other chronic conditions, and I was in a wheelchair by the time I was twenty. I'd been told that I would probably never work again when I was medically retired from working life. Faced with a life of doing nothing, I turned to something I had loved as a teenager – writing - and with that, a career was born.

By the time I had two books under my belt, I started to approach traditional publishers and told myself that to "make it" I would have to have my book on someone else's bookshelf, that the only way to do that was to be published by one of the big names. I sent off my second book and got rejection after rejection. Sometimes, slipped in with the standard letters, were notes telling me that they loved my book, that it showed great promise, but that they were unable to publish it at that time.

It wasn't until 2005 when I was going through even more medical problems that I told myself it was okay to start looking elsewhere. So I decided to self-publish through AuthorHouse and got to see my book, Blackout, in print. It was the best moment of my life at that point. However, I didn't see it ever going past that. I couldn't afford to continue to pay AuthorHouse and although I continued to write, and had nearly completed five books, I felt disheartened as I got back into the sending off my book, receiving rejection letter cycle.

Fast forward to 2011, when I realised that with the rise of e-books and places such as Amazon and Smashwords, I would be able to turn my writing into something more. My dream was to see my books being read by other people, and after re-publishing Blackout, I started to release the next few books under the label "Bug Books". It was a full time job being an indie author. I had to do a lot of networking and a lot of it was an uphill struggle, but it was worth it.

Today, I have six books available to buy and my seventh book is due out in July. I am working on both my eleventh and twelfth books and have the next two planned. I employ an editor and an artist for the cover designs and I'm doing something I like with my life. I feel like I'm living the dream, because although it wasn't the path I had expected to go down - both in life and in career - I'm so happy doing it. I love creating, I love writing. I love thinking up new ways to fulfil plots and I love being an indie author. My dream was to see my books being read and I've more than accomplished it!


Now onto more updates! I have announced that WAITING ON YOU will be released on JULY 26TH on Amazon Kindle exclusively! There is an event on Facebook where you stand to win a host of prizes including copies of other young adult books, mostly those within the romance genre, as well as swag and Amazon giftcards!

On top of that DYING THOUGHTS - THIRD WISH is now available from Smashwords and will be trickling down to the other sites soon!

In other news, I have added the Ask The Author tab on my Goodreads profile, so be sure to go over there if you fancy asking me anything!

And that's it! I have some writing to do, and new projects to start soon! I hope to be announcing more fun things soon, so watch this space!

Tuesday 15 July 2014

Spoonie Writer: Learning To Say No

Spoonie Writer: Learning To Say No
When you're first diagnosed as having a chronic illness and you face the prospect of having  to live your life counting spoons, you quickly realise that there are going to be some things that you just can't do no matter how much you want to. When you add in a job like being an indie author into the mix, you'll find yourself running into problems as you try to achieve all the things you need to do. What do you do when your career needs you to do something, but your body is saying "nope!"?

The first thing to do is to face the fact that you will probably never go back to the person you were before you got sick, and realise that if you're going to accomplish things on both your good and bad days, you'll need to have some idea of just how far you can push yourself before it all comes back to bite you in the arse. For me, it was a big thing to accept that despite how much I wanted to take part in a blog tour or convention, I just couldn't do it all. I had to learn to listen to my body and I had to learn that I could say No.

If you're anything like me, you'll know that saying No to someone can feel like a bad thing. It can feel like saying no is telling that person or that opportunity that you never want their help again. I know in reality it isn't like that, but it's taken me a long time to get to this point. Before, saying no just wasn't something I felt comfortable doing. It felt like I was being rude, like I wasn't grateful for the opportunity being offered to me. But of course, it's not that at all, it's about knowing that if I do this thing or this promotion or push myself to write those chapters, in a few hours I will pay for it dearly.

My body will rebel and I will end up spending precious time either in bed, or worse, in hospital where I'm too unwell to do anything. The feeling of wasted time, for me at least, is worse than the feeling of saying no. So over the past few years, I have learnt that sometimes you just have to bite the bullet and tell someone that it was great to be thought of, but you just can't commit to that event. It's not a bad thing, it doesn't mean that you've let someone down and it's all part of being a spoonie.

There will be some people who won't see it that way, and honestly, those people are not worth the worry and anxiety. Those who understand will see that you need to have time to rest, to take some time away and that you are unable to commit to something that may make your condition worse, cause a flare or land you in the hospital. No one else can tell you how you feel, it's your body and your conditions and you will get to know them oh-so-well, and it's about learning to read the signs and know that although you are desperate to do a book tour or a book signing or a guest blog, you just can't at that moment in time. As someone more insightful than me said, the people who matter won't mind and those who mind...they don't matter!

Follow Joey on Facebook or here on her blog to be kept up to date with the latest news regarding Joey and her books.

Tuesday 8 July 2014

The Trials Of A Crime Writer: How Violent Is Too Violent?

The Trials Of A Crime Writer: How Violent Is Too Violent?

As a young adult author, I sometimes find myself asking how violent is too violent? I mean, with adult books you can go into gory detail of what you do to a character and how badly they were injured, maimed or killed. You can describe the flow of blood and each individual cut you make to their body to drive home just how horrific their injuries or death are. However, when you're writing for a younger audience, there must be a line somewhere that states that the description of cutting someone's fingers off or burning them in acid are too much, right?

I don't always agree that that's true. After all, young adults probably see more violent things in video games and on the big screen than are written in some books. But I was doing a scene in one of my current works in progress the other day and it revolved around torture. While I wanted to hammer home just how bad the pain would have been for my characters, as well as how deranged my killer was, I was struck with the thought that maybe it was a tad too violent.

The same can be said with some of the DYING THOUGHTS books. Tara's gift allows her to watch someone die over and over. The whole idea is that she is able to see things that the police may have missed because they didn't get to witness the death and despite their best efforts, they can not talk to the dead. I have dealt with the murder of children, people being raped and abused, tortured and killed in the most violent of ways and sometimes as I write, I find myself wondering if it's too much. My editor is great and is of the same belief as me, that sometimes you need to show that gore and violence to really give the reader the feeling that they are watching and experiencing it as well.

I guess the difficulty is for me that while some things would be seen as too little in an adult crime book, they can be seen as too much in a young adult book. It's about finding the balance between the two because young adults are generally within the ages of thirteen and twenty-five, and at the higher end of the scale they can see eighteen rated films and see violence in the media. So, why shouldn't they be able to see it in books? I get that for some people they are of the belief that children and young adults should be shielded from the violence out in the world, but by toning down the scenes in my books,  I'm not giving them the full story.

So, yes, sometimes there is a line between how much violence and description to use when dealing with these matters, but at other times, it's the job of the writer to cross over these lines and show the reader the realities of life. When Tara is dealing with a grisly case, I try to make sure that I don't write things that will give the readers nightmares, but at the same time I want it to be as honest as possible, which means including some forms of violence. It's just about knowing where to draw the line, but that seems to be the case with the majority of writing. You need to know the rules so that when you break them, you know you're doing so in good faith. It's all a learning curve and I know I, for one, have a lot more learning to do.

Follow Joey on Facebook or here on her blog to be kept up to date with the latest news regarding Joey and her books.

Saturday 5 July 2014

Spoonie Writer: Writing During Attacks

Spoonie Writer: Writing During Attacks

One thing you have to get used to when you're chronically ill, is that sometimes you'll need to do things, like write, when you really don't feel well. Such as when you're having a flare or an attack from one (or more) of your conditions. For instance, right now, I'm working on a chapter whilst sucking away on my nebuliser. It comes with the territory and it's not something that you ever really get used to.

A friend of mine asked me once how I managed to be so social when I wasn't well. Their reasoning was that when they felt crap, they didn't feel up to talking with or doing anything work related. My reply was simple - when you feel like crap all the time, you have no choice but to keep doing stuff, to keep talking to people, or you'd live in a hole and never do anything or see anyone. I'm not trying to be a martyr here, quite the opposite. I'm trying to say that when your "normal" state is one of ill health, you learn that the new normal is to keep ploughing through even though you may not feel up to it.

There are of course, times when that's just not possible, and I'll discuss the majority of that in another piece, but for now I'll just focus on the fact that life does not stop, the world does not stop, just because your pain level is through the roof and you only got two hours sleep last night. For some people, it is easier than for others and while I am not here to make judgement, nor do I suggest that you pass judgement on others either, sometimes you just have to keep going. Sometimes what may seem as really sick to an healthy person may just seem to you as a bit of an annoyance.

So, as a spoonie writer, I have learnt that in addition to making sure I take the right things along with me for hospital stays, I sometimes have to work through my sickness and ill health to make sure that I meet my own self set goals. As I've mentioned before, I set myself four chapters a fortnight and generally I meet that goal. Other times I'll go beyond it and sometimes I won't manage it at all. The fact of the matter is that I have been told by many health professionals in my years as a spoonie that pacing is a big thing for people who are chronically ill. Their argument is that when you have a good day, if you attempt to do nine things off of your constantly growing to-do list and push yourself, then you'll have a string of bad days where nothing gets done and the list grows longer. The answer, I'm told, is to pace yourself. Do only three or four of those things and then manage to do a little more the next day. The idea is that you don't overdo it and end up with more manageable and good days than the bad and bed-bound ones.

I have experimented with this over the years and have found that as long as I am not stuck in bed and completely unable to work on my computer (a piece about that will be coming soon), I can usually do some work towards my writing. Whether it's a paragraph to a chapter or a small blog piece, an email answered or a review request sent, all these things add up to be part of my livelihood and that allows me to do about the same every day, sometimes a little more when I'm feeling up to it and other times a little less. I have yet to find the exact balance, and that's after nearly thirteen years. I'm sure the words "balancing act" in a piece like this do not surprise you, but you'd be amazed how much of my work and life is just that. Finding the sweet spot takes time, but when I get there, I'll let you all know!

Follow Joey on Facebook or here on her blog to be kept up to date with the latest news regarding Joey and her books