Friday 19 December 2014

Spoonie Writer: When Your Meds Interfere

Spoonie Writer: When Your Meds Interfere

Have you ever tried to write when you've got a large dose of painkillers in you? Or when you've just taken a sleeping tablet? Or maybe when you're in the midst of taking a nebuliser? If you have, then you know what I'm talking about, and if not, then let me explain. When you have chronic illnesses, you usually have to rely on some form of medication to keep yourself stable, out of a flare and somewhat functional. For me, that includes two of the above. I use a patch to control my pain, and use nebulisers daily to make sure I keep breathing, since my lungs seem to think it's optional. Now, if you've never had a strong pain killer, you're probably not aware that at times, it can make you feel like your brain is ten minutes behind the rest of your body. It's not the best time to do anything that requires too much thinking, but when you're on doses of strong painkillers the majority of the time, there doesn't really seem to be much of a choice. After all, writing when you're in a lot of pain isn't the best time to do it either.

Having had a chronic pain condition for the majority of my adult life, and all of my writing career, I can tell you that sometimes the meds I take to make me functional leave me feeling anything but. There are times, like right now, when my pain levels are not conducive to a good nights sleep and I find myself sat here at 1:45am with nothing else to do but write; hence why the majority of these posts are tagged with "late night musings". When you're chronically ill and want to write, you have to find ways to work around the problems you're faced with regarding your health. One of those is working around both the side effects of your medication and the actual effects of your medication. Sometimes you're never sure which one is which.

I usually employ a few tactics to make sure that what I write when I'm on painkillers, or when I've done a run of nebulisers back to back, makes sense and isn't actually the ramblings of a drug induced stupor. One of these tactics is that every blog post I make, whenever it's written, is then checked by my carer to make sure that I haven't left any sentences hanging and that I actually get across the point I'm trying to make. It's one of the reasons I have so many left ready to post, because I usually write them in bulk, to then be read through and posted at a later date. It's the one way I can be sure that I always have content for my blog, other than postings about giveaways and upcoming book releases.

Another tactic is to read it to myself out loud when I'm not feeling as bad as I was when I sat down and wrote it. This usually helps me to work out if what I've written is worth saving or if it should just be cut and forgotten about. You may be wondering why I bother to write if I'm feeling that bad; sometimes it's because I believe as a writer that you need to write something every day and that means that sometimes I have to write when I feel completely awful, and other times it's because when it's the middle of the night, there are only so many noise friendly ways to entertain yourself. It also gives me a chance to catch up on the admin parts of being an indie author that I may not have gotten to during the day when I've been banging away at the keyboard getting chapters written.

Despite this, sometimes I'll write a chapter and when I go through to edit it before it goes off to my editor, I'll find myself wondering how on earth it made it into the book in the first place. Other times, it will be my editor who'll be doing the wondering. I know that I can't be the only spoonie who finds that when they're under the influence of meds, they do, say or write something that they would never have done/said/written otherwise. So it pays to have some kind of control measures in place to make sure that your late night musings whilst desperate for sleep, or in the midst of a painkiller's side effects, never make it out there to the public. While it is pretty impossible to catch everything, you still need to be sure that you caught most things. On that note, I think it's time to sleep!

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 4 December 2014

Livin' The Indie Life Round-up for December 3rd 2014

#livintheindielife Round-up for December 3rd 2014

As an experiment yesterday I did a day in the life of an indie author on Twitter, Instagram and my Facebook. The idea was to use the tag #livintheindielife and do updates as to what I was doing. It worked quite well and I got some positive feedback. I'm hoping to do it again at some point and may even pair up with some other indie authors so we can all tweet, blog and all the rest on the same day to give our readers an idea of what it's like being an Indie Author.

Below is the roundup of each tweet, the two instagram posts and the one Facebook status I made. If you're interested in taking part in this in the future, you can as always email me at

09:34 bit of an earlier start than planned, but Miss D is at school and I'm doing my morning stuff before writing #livintheindielife

10:40 had some tea, now time to catch up with @tumblr then I plan to do some #writing #livintheindielife

10:53 need to do some #research for a blog post so will be foregoing the start of #writing to get that done! #livintheindielife

11:44 still doing #research but getting ready to #write #livintheindielife #wordnerd #whyiwrite #beingawriter

12:17 I'm almost to the point where I can start #writing and doing more with my chapters. #livintheindielife

12:18 Just a reminder that I'm doing a day in the life of an indie author today on Twitter, Instagram and here. Keep an eye on the tag #livintheindielife to see how it goes!

And for an update, managed to get some research done, plan to get a blog post up soon and then go on with some review emails as well as trying to get my chapters done!

12:43 Biting down my anxiety and emailing three book blogs for reviews. I've been putting it off for too long #livintheindielife

13:13 Review emails have been sent, as well as a couple of requests for author spotlights. The work never ends! #livingtheindielife

13:14 With the admin work done though, I can now focus on #writing. I plan to finish this chapter before getting Miss D #livintheindielife

13:53 One chapter down and another in the works. Gonna have to take a break soon to do the school run, oh bother! #livintheindielife

14:17 laying the groundwork for Tara's first case in this book. Trying to stay out of the "zone" so I can leave soon #livintheindielife

14:25 Taking a break since I have to get Miss D soon, so looking for new books to add to my TBR list #livintheindielife #readingisgreat

15:35 Home for a bit after school run, but off out w/ Miss D for dinner in town so a break from #writing #livintheindielife

15:58 Off out to McD's for dinner w/ Miss D, after which I'll have all evening to do more #writing #livintheindielife

15:59 I want to try and finish this chapter and then tomorrow I can start bonus chapters! #livintheindielife


16:27 dinner out with Miss D means time away from the books but so worth it #selfie #livintheindielife #writing #whyiwrite

17:16 Just getting a blog post queued up ready and then back to #writing my chapter. Time to hit the zone #livintheindielife #amwriting

18:22 A full day of work time to relax, read and have a catch up w/ a friend #livintheindielife

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

Wednesday 3 December 2014

The Trials Of An Indie Author: Getting Reviews & Promotions

The Trials Of An Indie Author: Getting Reviews & Promotions
One of the big disadvantages of being an indie author rather than being with a traditional publishing house is that the majority of the promotion you get is driven by how much work you're willing to put into things. Sure, you can pay to have someone do the majority of it for you, and I cover that in the piece about outsourcing (found here),  but if you're low on funds, or even just new to the indie author crowd, you'll have to work out how best to promote yourself before you can find people to help you.

Of course, once your book is ready to be published, you'll have something to promote, but before that point, you really don't have much to offer potential readers and you'll find that a lot of your time is spent making good connections for once your book is available (a piece can be found here). I know that when I first started out under the Bug Books label, I was completely unaware of how best to proceed to get sales. It was never a massive thing for me, I enjoy writing and I love the idea of other people enjoying my work, so while I do like it when I make sales, for the first year or so I pretty much did nothing.

A big part of promotion is getting people to review your books and you can approach this a number of ways. You can let people come across it, buy it and review if they so choose, which works up to a point, but the majority of people buying books or anything on Amazon or other sites don't tend to go back to review unless they really really loved it, or really didn't like it. Think about the last time you went out of your way and reviewed something. It doesn't happen that often. The exception, of course, is for people who review things for a job, who are pretty much paid to review things.

Now, you can join groups on Facebook that exist for the sole purpose of connecting indie authors with other authors and aid in the process of swapping books, or even just offer to review someone else's work. There are a few words of caution though. If you are ever told that they'll give you a five star review without having looked at the book or even the synopsis or sample, so long as you pay them a certain amount, run away and do not look back. It may be something that some companies do with their products, but even traditionally published authors do not usually pay for their reviews. If you want an honest review, you need to be ready to take whatever criticism you may receive. It's hard, but it's a great way to learn what your strengths and weaknesses are in your story. It's hard when you've poured your heart and soul into your work to be then told that it's not something one particular person enjoyed, but it's part of putting your book out there to be read by the general public. Besides which, one person may hate it, but another person may love it and having a wide array of reviews helps to draw in readers.

The reviews are not there to puff up your own ego, and while that may be a side effect, reviews are primarily there to help other readers decide if they want to part with their money in exchange for a good story. I know that when you're starting out and planning on carving out a name for yourself, it can be tempting to contact the reviewer to ask why they didn't like your book or why they gave it three starts instead of five, but it is never a good idea to respond to reviews, no matter how much you want to know more. There are authors, both indie and traditional, that have done so and it has not worked out well for them.

In addition to reviews, there are other ways to promote your work. I've discussed getting involved in giveaways and events (found here) but sometimes it can be as simple as joining a group whose main goal is to get everyone's name out into the writing world. You can do this through blog posts, through Facebook, Tumblr or Google+. There are always like-minded individuals who want to promote themselves, but who also have space to help you on your writing journey as well. The indie author world is full of interesting people and some of my best supporters and writing friends have come into my life through groups such as these. It's always a good idea to make connections and to have reciprocal relationships with other authors, and as long as you remember to both give and receive promotions and reviews, you'll be off to a good start.

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

Monday 1 December 2014

Guest Blogger - Armen Pogharian

Hi everyone!
I'd like to welcome Armen Pogharian to my blog. He's a young adult author and his books are fantastic! Here's a little bit about him!

Unlike many authors, Armen was not an early reader.  He can honestly say he didn’t voluntarily read a book until he finished The Hobbit in sixth grade.  He earned a BS in Electrical Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, where he was an Honorable-Mention All-American swimmer.  As a USAF officer, he worked on ‘Area 51’ projects – he never saw a single alien (dead or alive).  He later earned an MBA from the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill and spent more than a decade in the high tech and biotech industries. His stories mix elements of science and history with a healthy dose of fantasy.  When not writing he enjoys swimming, reading, and the outdoors.  He lives in Pittsford, NY with his wife and three children. You can find him on Facebook here or follow his blog for more information.

I've read three of his books and will include my reviews of them, but first he's written a piece on where he gets his ideas from.

As a writer, I’m often asked, where do I get ideas for my stories?  As much as I’d like to lay claim to some form of creative genius, the sad truth is mine is a rather convoluted and muddled path, which reminds me of an old television program.  Back in the 1980s, when US cable TV was still relatively young, hungry for content, and the History channel hadn’t discovered reality programming, my channel surfing helped me discover James Burke’s Connections.  It’s a wonderfully different way of looking at how seemingly unrelated events, technologies, and societal trends impact the modern world.  One episode connects the concept of credit to sending a man to the moon.  Along the way the program examines military tactics, Napoleon, canned food, and refrigeration.  Taking a page from Mr. Burke (admittedly a much smaller page), here’s my attempt at making some interesting connections to some of my own writing.

As a young child the television show Sesame Street (for those outside the states it’s a public television program famous as the original home of the Muppets) had a huge impact on me.  It debuted when I was four and quickly became my first must-see-TV show.  It taught me my ABCs, how to count to ten, and lots of other great stuff.  Besides Oscar the Grouch, who lived in the coolest garbage can, my favourite characters were Ernie and Bert.  Their banter and antics were to pre-schoolers what Laurel & Hardy or Abbott & Costello were for the previous generation of adults.  Like the great vaudeville comedic teams the simple Ernie consistently gets the best of the sceptical Bert, albeit in a very kid-friendly manner.

While the creators say it’s a mere coincidence, there’s a popular rumour that the two were named for the cab driver and policeman from the movie It’s a Wonderful Life.  Even if that’s not true, the two characters have inspired use of their names in other media.  Bert and Ernie Moon from the British show EastEnders were named after the famous Muppets, as were a pair of suspected extra-galactic neutrinos detected by the IceCube Neutrino Observatory at the South Pole.  The observatory’s location and detection mechanism may allow it to provide the first experimental proof of the extra-dimensions predicted by String Theory.

Okay, so what’s the connection?  Misaligned is a contemporary YA fantasy series that began as my attempt to answer the question:  What happens at the intersection of String Theory and the Welsh origins of Arthurian myth?  A wandering mind is often a wondering mind.

Eighth grader Penny Preston unknowingly creates a trans-dimensional rift, which causes a food fight. Instead of being suspended, she discovers that she exists in more than three dimensions; she is misaligned. In training, she learns that she is the key to preventing higher-dimensional beings from entering our universe with god-like powers. Together with her multi-dimensional cat, Penny struggles to save her relationship with her best friend, protect her universe, and uncover her connection to Celtic myth.

My review: 
5/5 - Highly Recommended!

Meet Penny, born with one eye a different colour from the other. She's slowly realising that she's a little different from her peers but before she can explore it fully, she's thrust into life as someone who is misaligned - that is, someone who can see other dimensions and travel between them. The only problem is, there's some power that's desperate to harness what she can do to open their own portal to another dimension. This book is downright AWESOME. I was a little unsure as to whether I'd enjoy it and I'm very pleased to say that I was completely wrong! I found myself reluctant to stop when nighttime came, saying "just one more chapter". When it ended, I was desperate to read more of Penny's adventures and so I've brought the other two in the series which I'll also be reviewing. Armen Pogharian is an excellent writer who knows how to pull you into the story, leave you hanging, desperate for more and keep you reading page after page. I expect great things from the sequels and I am completely sure that I will not be disappointed, nor will you if you give this series a read! HIGHLY recommended!


Why is an ancient Celtic spirit plaguing Piper Falls with a rash of pranks and what's it got to do with the discovery of a mythical Seneca scepter? Learn the answers with Penny, her best friend Duncan, her cat Simon, and her two other-worldly teachers as they unravel the mystery of the Silver Scepter. 

My review:

5/5 - A Must Read

Having devoured the first book in a few days, I was desperate to read the sequel and managed it in just two days of solid reading at bedtime. Once again, all is not right in Piper Falls and it seems that there is more to the history of the known world than we thought. Penny and Duncan are both working hard to make sure that Penny's status as misaligned is not known to anyone other than the core group. When an artefact is carbon dated as over 6K years old, it seems that there's more at work than first thought. Once again Pogharian has overdone themselves with this book. It's fast paced and I drank it up as if it were my life blood. A cast of new characters fill in the gaps between the lessons from Penny's trainer and Master Poe, and Penny herself finds that she's learning more and more about what being misaligned actually means and what she can do with it. I loved the first book and I adored the sequel. My hope is to move onto the third (and last book so far) today and finish it asap. My only problem is that that will mean I have to wait for Armen to write more, and I have never been that patient when it comes to a series of books that are as gripping as these. Recommended to all those who love mystery without crime and dead bodies, and love the paranormal as well as learning something new about Welsh and Celtic folklore. An excellent read from start to finish and I highly recommend this series to readers young and old!

Something is attacking the structure of the multiverse and releasing higher-dimensional energy into Piper Falls, NY. The increased power emboldens the reenergized Bodach to wreak havoc on the small town. It also draws more terrifying entities to the town, including a former Bodach commander seeking to avenge her defeat at the hands of King Arthur, a mysterious shape-shifter known as the Newiddyn, and a destructive Celtic spirit. Penny and her allies must defeat the Bodach, restore the integrity of the dimensional fabrics and prevent the new entities from unleashing the apocalypse of The Darkest Day.

My review:

5/5 - Everyone should read this!

I found myself looking for extra time to read so that I could finish this book. It's the third in the Misaligned series and I feel saddened that now I have to wait for the next one (if there is one) to be written as I have found myself falling in love with this series. It is so excellently written and the past and present are intertwined whilst still remaining believable. Once again Armen Pogharian has written a nail-biting book where you find yourself going back and forth in time to discover the answers to the present day problem. The characters are lovingly crafted with just the right amount of reality intertwined in the fictional world of Piper Falls. I am happy to call myself a fan of this series and can recommend it to those young and old alike. If you have an interest in early Welsh and Celtic history, then this is the series for you! Highly recommended and I will be counting down the days to the next book!

If you are interested in doing a guest blog with Joey, you can contact her on this email: