Saturday 28 May 2016

Inside The Author: Where My Inspiration Comes From


A lot of writers get asked this, no matter whether they write screen plays, novels, short stories, or anything in between. It seems that when you write in the land of fiction, people want to know where you get your ideas from, what inspires you and how you turn that inspiration into the words on the page. I've seen writers sigh and groan when asked this question and I've seen them ponder on how to answer it. It's different for every writer, of course, and it all depends on how they view the term "inspiration" and how they use that to write.

For some people, inspiration comes from other writers, famous people or just people they know. For others, it's the work of other people, or true life crime, or many other events that happen in the world. For me, it's simple. Life inspires me. I am inspired by the world surrounding me. I look at people living their lives and I see plot lines, I see characters and I see a whole story to be written. I'm sure it's the same for other writers too. And it's not just other people's lives that inspire me, but my own life too. In BLACKOUT, one of the characters has the same condition as I do. In LYNNE & HOPE, Hope is disabled just as I am. In DESTINATION: UNKNOWN, a character has both M.E and Fibromyalgia, both conditions I know all too well.

The inspiration doesn't stop there, life throws things at you that you have no idea how to cope with. I choose to use some of them in my writing. I'm not saying that I have a psychic gift that allows me to see the last moments of someone's life, nor have I ever dreamed my life whilst in a coma. But, along with other lives that happen around me, lives that I read about or hear about or even think about get turned into plots and characters. There is also an element of imagination in there too. My parents would probably say that I have always had an over-active imagination, and I'd agree with them. A flair for the dramatic, as it were, but it’s having that flair that allows me to dream up plot lines and people that I have never met or experienced.

Life is full of little things that can make you sit back and think "Huh, wonder how that would look in a book", but the imagination is a powerful tool and essential when you're a fiction writer of any kind. You need to be able to take the impossible and make it real. Go further than you have before and fit the pieces of the puzzle together to allow the reader to see the big picture. That takes a lot of imagination, as well as life experiences inspiring you. I have never yet written fantasy, and although I've thought about it, I often think about how awesome it would be to create a whole new world, with different rules, religions, people, animals and all of that. I am in awe of those who have done so, people like J. K. Rowling, Susanne Collins and Phillip Pullman. All of them have kept some semblance of our world, but added to it and breathed life into their words.

So, when I say that life inspires me, it's not as simple as it seems. It can have both a wide reach and a small one. One event can inspire a whole new world, and one world can inspire one event. Being a writer is about knowing which events create which and using them to tell your story. I only hope that I have done those events justice.

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

Sunday 22 May 2016

Inside The Author: How I Write


Every writer has their process and I'm no different. In other aspects of my life, I'm very organised. I always have been. I like things to be planned out and although I can be spontaneous, I do prefer to know where I'm going, what's expected of me and what I'm going to do when I get there. I'm the same with my writing. I plan to the point where it seems ridiculous, but it works for me and like I said, it's part of my process.

So, where do I start? Well, with the idea. Once I have an idea, I think about it for a few days and then start to flesh it out in my mind. With a few of my works, the idea has hit so strongly, I immediately start to take notes. When I have the idea fleshed out a little, I start the research. For some of my works, I've needed to do very little research, while for others, I have been drowning in research media. I like to have hard copies of information to go through and highlight, so that while I'm writing, I can fact check quickly without interrupting the flow.

With one of the books I've written in the past, I also wanted to get first hand knowledge of what it was like for the people actually living the lives I was writing about. Although I had some knowledge from my own life, I am but just one person and everyone experiences things differently. I also had to delve into religion and how each one dealt with the subject matter. I had to look at what it was like to be a first generation British person and the different cultures and traditions that would have come from their parents. It all adds up to a lot of work, but it's worth it in the end.

Once I'm ready to start writing the book, I need to create the characters. In the beginning, when I was first writing BLACKOUT, all the information was put on A4 paper and that was all I thought I would need. The same applies to when I first started the DYING THOUGHTS series. However, as time moved on and I fleshed out my characters more and more, as I started to plan them more and more, I realised I needed more space and more order to the whole process.

As you can imagine, when writing a series, you need to be careful about continuity, so I transferred all the information onto note cards and from then on, I did the same with any new work I started. WAITING ON YOU was no different, as I started with a handful of characters, the cards would grow as I fleshed out Zack's family and Angelina's classmates. I made sure that I had a physical description of each character along with any other traits that I needed to remember. With the DYING THOUGHTS books, I also made a note of every case Tara worked on, partly to be sure that I wasn't repeating myself too much and partly so that I'd know what the case would be before I had to write about it. I'm not kidding when I say I think up ways to kill people for a living!

Once the characters are created on paper, I start to decide what I'm going to do with them and over what time frame it's going to happen. I make a chapter plan with a short synopsis of what's supposed to happen in each part; usually only three or five words. I then make a note of what day each of these chapters is supposed to happen on. I add an extra note when I've surpassed a week, then two, and so on. I don't usually spread the books out over too long a period, but at the same time, it can't all happen within two days. I try to ensure that there won't be more happening in one day than is physically possible. Sometimes, I don't recognise that I've done that until it comes to writing that chapter, in which case I'll change it as I'm writing.

After I've done all of that, I get to write the book. While I'm writing, I make a note of the page each chapter starts on, the page it finishes on and the final word count. These are only for my benefit as no one else really needs to know whether or not the chapter had 2000 or 3000 words, but it does help in the long run when I need to print a hard copy of a certain chapter, or when I'm editing and can't remember the page a chapter starts or finishes on. While I'm writing, I also print out each chapter as it's finished. I like to have a hard copy for my own records so that should something happen to my computer, or the external hard drive it's backed up on, I have a copy of it to work from.

Although a lot of thought goes into the chapter plan, it's not written in stone and while I'm writing, I usually find that the story, the characters or just my own sense of what's happening changes and I end up going in a different direction. Sometimes, I'll switch a chapter around so that it happens before or after it was planned to. I like the fact that it's very flexible because sometimes when you're beginning to plan you don't see something as clearly as when you're actually writing it.

I don't have a solid plan for the actual writing though. I'm not someone who needs total silence all the time, nor am I someone who only writes between certain hours. I am flexible with my writing because of my chronic illnesses, and also because I write when I am inspired (and sometimes when I'm not!) and although I'm a planner, I'm not too strict with myself, at least not all of the time. The only thing I really need to write is a fresh cup of tea, but once I get started and enter the zone, then I'm usually fine to keep going. I don't approach writing as something I have to do, it may be my career, but not allowing myself to get under too much pressure allows my creative juices to flow better. I write because I want to, and because it fills me with joy. I write because I have stories to tell and I will keep writing until I don't. Writing is good for me, and you've got to have something good in your life because otherwise how do you keep smiling?

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

Monday 16 May 2016

From Joey's Instagram

[IMAGE DESCRIPTION: Photo of Joey Paul (me), a white, cis female with short bob of brown hair. She is wearing wire-rimmed glasses and has an oxygen nasal cannula on. She is wearing a purple hoodie and smiling. The caption reads: "So I can't sleep because of pain issues so might as well do some work! #beingawriter #joeywrites #indieauthor #amwriting #authorsofinstgrams #wheelchairuser #oxygenuser #writerslife #insomnia #lifeofanauthor".]

[IMAGE DESCRIPTION: Photo of Joey Paul (me) a white, cis, female with a short bob of brown hair. She is wearing wire-rimmed glasses and an oxygen nasal cannula. She is smiling. There are cartoon ginger cat ears on her head and a white and pink cat nose on her nose. The caption reads: "Getting a little silly at 2am!" #beingawriter #joeywrites #indieauthor #amwriting #authorsofinstgrams #wheelchairuser #oxygenuser #writerslife #insomnia #lifeofanauthor"]

Saturday 14 May 2016

Inside The Author: Why An Indie Author?


After I finished BLACKOUT in 2002, I started to approach agents and publishers. I got rejection letter after rejection letter and after a while, I gave up. What was the point in writing all this if no one was ever going to read it? As some of you who follow my blog will know, it wasn't until late 2004/early 2005 that I was approached by the self publishing company AuthorHouse who were offering me the chance to publish BLACKOUT through them for a price. I don't regret that decision, it was the right one for me at the time and it pushed me into the writing world head first and I was determined that I wouldn't sink.

About six months after BLACKOUT was released in August 2005, I was again approached with the possibility of becoming an indie author. It took me a long time to get to a point where I could make that decision and implement it and it wasn't until 2011 that BLACKOUT was released as an e-book on Amazon through an independent label, Bug Books. When my second and third book were released the following year, I found myself once again being flung head first into the indie author pool and this time, I had a lot more control.

By control, I mean the ability to set my own prices, to choose release dates and to work with an editor whose opinion and work ethic I admired. I was also able to work alongside my best friend and carer, B, with her designing my book covers. She'd done the same with my first book before it was released, but this time I was able to pay both her and my editor a percentage of what I earned in royalties. Now that I am more established as an indie author, they both get a flat rate sum depending on the level of work they have to do. This is something I wasn't able to do when I was reliant on what is basically a vanity publishing house. They gave me a set choice of prices and although I chose the lowest one, it was still a huge amount to expect someone to pay for a paperback from an author they had never heard of before.

It wasn't an easy start, and it wasn't any easier once I got started. Being an indie author is hard work. Not that working with a traditional publishing house is a walk in the park, but an indie author doesn't have as much back-up as those authors have. I am 100% responsible for a number of things. I have to promote myself, run my Facebook page, work out how much tax I have to pay and so on. It's not easy and it's not cheap. Due to the fact that Bug Books is my own indie label, I am on my own. Other indie authors go through independent publishers and that works for them as they are able to share some of the tasks out through the company. However, you'll find that even then, a lot of the promotion and every day admin tasks still fall on the author themselves.

There is also the problem of the backlash from traditionally published authors, as well as the misconception readers may have that because your work is not published through the big six publishing houses then it must not be any good, or that you don't edit and just publish the first draft, which in my circle of author friends who are indie, is not true. I pay for an editor, but I also have beta readers and proof readers who help to double check that my work is as correct and to make sure that mistakes won't make it into the final draft. B works hard on my covers, and is redoing all the older ones at the moment to make them look that much better.

Juggling all of that alongside being chronically ill, and also being a part time university student, is hard work. I have emails to reply to, and blog posts to write. I have to make sure that I get the rest I need so that I don't overdo it and get sick just when I can't afford to take time off. In the future, I plan to hire an assistant, but for now, it's just me, my editor, Antonia, my proof-reader, Natalie, and my cover artist, B.

Having said all of that, I love being an indie author. I love working for myself and creating my stories. I don't like having to edit, but not everybody likes every aspect of their job. I became an indie author because I believed, and still do, that I had stories to tell and I wanted people to be able to read them. I write because it's something I love to do and being an indie author and not tied to a contract allows me to do that. It's hard work, but seeing a review from someone who brought, read and enjoyed my books means the world to me and I wouldn't stop doing it for anything.

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

Saturday 7 May 2016

Inside The Author: Why The Paranormal Genre?


When I started the DYING THOUGHTS series, I didn't even consider what genre they would fit into. All I wanted was for them to be aimed at young adults and have a crime and mystery theme. It wasn't until they started to get published that I had to seriously think about what genre they fitted into. That's when I realised that Tara's gift ensured they fell squarely into the paranormal and supernatural genre. I know it sounds silly, but I just hadn't realised it before then. Now, I embrace it and have written another book or two that would also be considered as part of that genre.

You see, with the other genres I've written about, I've had a certain fondness for them myself. Either growing up or in my adult reading life, I'd come across authors who did them well and I found myself enjoying them. However, I wasn't too fond of what would be considered paranormal. I'm not a huge fan of vampires or werewolves, yet I loved watching Buffy and I adored the Harry Potter books, but when I would look for books to read and see the paranormal or supernatural label, I would find myself shying away from them. I still do it today.

Don't get me wrong, I'll read the blurb on the back and I'll see if it's something that I'd like to try, and when mixed with a crime and mystery plot line, I'll probably read it and enjoy it. Yet, I still wouldn't call myself someone who enjoys paranormal fiction. There's nothing wrong with it, I just like to have some of the fiction I read based in some kind of reality. So, I hear you ask, why would I then write the books I've written that have used aspects of things that aren't considered reality? To be honest, my answer would be that I never planned or realised that they were. Sounds silly, doesn't it? Well, have you ever looked for something and given up because you can't find it and then have it pointed out to you? You're like "Oh, yeah!" and then you feel a little bit stupid because you couldn't see what was right in front of you?

That's what I'm talking about. It wasn't that I went out of my way to give Tara the gift she has, or to write the books with that particular genre in mind, it just seemed to have ended up like that. Even now, nearly thirteen years after I put pen to paper and brought her to life, I still wonder how I got into the genre in the first place. I mean, everyone has either read or at least heard of J. K. Rowling and her sucess with the Harry Potter books. Moving on to a more recent TV reference, Supernatural is also a big show - and one I've recently started to watch and enjoy - but somehow, I managed to end up in this genre and not really know how I got there in the first place.

I love writing Tara and even got to the point when after finishing the fifth book, I decided to extend the serious to at least seven and I can see myself carry it on a few more books after that. So, I do enjoy writing in the paranormal genre, I just don't really know how I ended up in it. Maybe I took a wrong turn somewhere!

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

Friday 6 May 2016

From Joey's Instagram

[IMAGE DESCRIPTION: A picture of Joey Paul (me), a woman with short bobbed brown hair, wire-rimmed glasses, and a round face. She is wearing a nasal oxygen cannula, which joins under her chin. You can see her office in the background and she is wearing a white tank top, though only the straps are visible. The caption of the photograph reads: A difficult day, but doing okay now. The sun is shining, it's nice and warm and I got my writing to do! #beingawriter #writing #writerlife #joeywrites #indieauthor #amwriting #authorsofinstagram #goals #chronicllness #spoonie #oxygenuser #wheelchairuser]

Tuesday 3 May 2016

April #JoWriMoGo final tally!

April's #JoWriMoGo tally stands at 93 pages written, 45,952 words written and 20 chapters written! A new personal record!! The plan now is to keep the momentum going into May!