Friday 29 July 2016

Inside The Author: Fifteen Years As A Writer: Where Next?


When I think back to how it all began, to the day I sat down against my bed and pulled out THE FRIENDSHIP TRIANGLE (or rather, what it was in 2001 before I took it apart for the last time and made it an actual book), I can't really see how I got from there - nineteen, sick and being told I was "retired" and would probably never work a conventional job again - to here - thirty-four, sicker, and writing books having completed a university degree, with my ninth book about to be published.

I don't mean that I don't know how I got here, I do. Lots of time, energy, blood, sweat, tears, foul language and hard work. I mean that when I was that person whose world had just broken in front of them, I never saw it ending up like this. I had no idea that I would've written almost sixteen books and having released my ninth and I know that sounds stupid, or like I'm being falsely modest, but honestly, I'm not. Looking back, I can see that scared teenager in my mind's eye. Scared that she had finally found a job she loved (the job I was retired from), and was finally doing well, even excelling at something and then M.E came along and pulled the rug out from under her. I'd never been a well and healthy person, but suddenly going from the person I was before to the person I was after scared the hell out of me.

I never expected that the book I wrote as a thirteen year old, huddled in my school library, would end up on shelves and have people reading it. Oh, I dreamed and I dreamed big. I dreamed of being signed by a big publishing house and making enough money to spend holidays in the Maldives with my family and my friends' families, but I knew that it wasn't likely to happen. And it still really hasn't happened quite that way. I don't make a huge amount, I am certainly not making enough to pay for thirty people to spend two weeks on a sunny, isolated island, but I'm happy with what I do. I love what I do and I enjoy what I do, so I guess that's the main thing, right?

So, what's my next stop? Well, I plan to continue to write two books at a time, usually averaging a finishing time of about eighteen months from first word to last. I plan to continue to release one book a year until I run out of my backlog and then I plan to release as often as I'm able to. Hopefully that won't happen for a while yet though. I'd also like to be nominated for an award - winning one would be awesome and beyond my wildest dreams, but to be nominated would be enough for me right now. I'd also love to take the Bug Books label and launch it properly, opening it up to other authors looking for an indie publisher that will help them realise their dream of seeing their book on Amazon. Both of those are really long term goals though. 

Another long term goal is to finish the DYING THOUGHTS series and possibly start another string of books. One of my next projects is a book that may end up being a two-parter, or possibly even a trilogy. It really depends on length and plot. I know that left to my own devices I could write about it for a few hundred thousand words and while 150K is not unheard of for a YA book, I wouldn't like to push it too much over that, but I also don't want to risk cutting out parts of the story that need to be told. So, I'm waiting until I finish planning the book to see where it goes and how that pans out. I'd like to explore some other genres as well as sticking with my old favourites and I'd like to possibly branch out and explore other aspects of life for teenagers. I would love to write about more disabled characters because I feel that there is a lack of representation in the media for young disabled adults and teens to relate to; the same goes for those with chronic illnesses.

I guess I have a lot of plans and it wasn't until I sat down to write this piece that I realised exactly how many I did have! Mostly though, I want to continue to write as much as my health and life allows. I love telling stories and I love getting feedback from people - both readers and those in the field, so for now, my main goal is to keep doing what I love.

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

Thursday 21 July 2016

Inside The Author: Why Don't I Release All The Ones I've Written?


For those of you who have been following either my blog, or this book blog tour, you'll have realised that I'm working on books that are further ahead than the number I've released. For example, DYING THOUGHTS - FOURTH WEEK is my eighth book and at the time of writing, I'm working on the first chapters of books fifteen and sixteen. I have had a number of people ask me why I haven't just done a mass release as I've obviously finished the books and if I just got them all edited and ready, I would have a bigger arsenal to my name.

There are a number of reasons why I don't do that. One of these is that when I was first published through AuthorHouse, I couldn't afford to get more than one book published, yet I kept writing. This led to me accumulating a "backlog", so to speak. When I started as an indie author under the Bug Books label, I did release a number of books at once. My first four were all released within the space of a few months. I then followed six months later with my fifth, LYNNE & HOPE and since then have done one a year. I did initially plan to release one in the summer and another the following winter and continue on that pattern, but the amount of time, effort and energy spent getting a book ready meant that I couldn't keep up with it, and neither could my editor.

I am chronically ill and my energy is closely guarded. I wanted to keep writing, and I am also terrified of getting to the point where I'm working on the book that is the next to be released. I know that everyone has to work to some kind of deadline, but since I got sick, I don't do well with them. I was the same with my uni work - I got ahead of the schedule so that when not feeling 100%, I could take time off without the added stress of falling behind and having to catch up. I spend a lot of time in the hospital and also in bed resting, as well as time spent when I am just too ill to even think about writing.

I work around it in some ways by having a tablet which I can use to write with when I'm in the hospital, or when I'm just stuck in bed. I'm usually well enough to at least sit in my wheelchair at my desk, but sometimes I just can't cope with the energy spent typing and thinking. I know it sounds weird to people who have no experience of this kind of chronic illness, but for me, it's a fact of life.

So, I choose to avoid the stress and worry of disappointing readers because I have not yet finished the latest book by having a backlog of books. It's another reason why I write two at once, not just because it works for me, but because when (and it will happen eventually) I get to the point where I am working on my latest release, I will hopefully also be working on the one that comes after it.

Another reason is the sheer amount of energy it takes for me to read through my first draft and get it ready to send to my editor. I also like to let my work sit and rest for a while before going back to it with fresh eyes and reading it through. It helps me to be more objective about what needs to be in the story and what doesn't and it means that I can read it as if I were a reader and not the author. I found that when I read and edit my first draft so soon after writing, I'm still in the whole "it's my baby and perfect, don't criticise" mindset, which some writers get after they've slaved away at a keyboard for a year or so.

On top of that, it allows me time to work out what design I want for the front cover, and gives my artist time to work on that. Both my cover designer and editor have other life commitments that mean it is not their full time job and while they both work very hard to bring their A game to the table, life sometimes gets in the way. Overall, it gives us all a bit of breathing space to make sure that when the book is released, it's the best it can be, with the best cover it can have and tells the story in the best way possible. So, while it may seem that it's a bit backward, it's the way I found allows for any ill health and also keeps me steadily releasing a book a year and still finding the time (and energy) to write more!

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

Thursday 14 July 2016

Inside The Author: How Long Will I Write For?


I don't think any writer really ever plans how long their career will last. As I've said before, it all depends on how long they can keep the ideas going in addition to other real life commitments. Of course, many writers would prefer that their day job was writing, but it's not always possible for that to happen. Life has a way of getting in the way of the best laid plans, but I always had some idea as to how my writing career would go.

When I was first published, I planned to write ten books; five of the DYING THOUGHTS series and five standalones. It was only a year or so ago when I was writing the last words to my ninth and tenth books that I realised I still had more writing to do. I had plans for my next two books and so I decided I would aim for fifteen books, with the option of going to twenty if I ever hit that target. As it stands now, I have nearly finished my eleventh and twelfth books - in fact by the time this is published, I think I'll be in the beginning chapters of the next two - and I already have more than a small plan for the main plots of my next projects.

I've always said that I will write until I run out of ideas or until someone tells me to stop, and I think that even if someone did say that to me, I wouldn't actually be able to. I've been writing as a job now for the past thirteen years, published for almost ten years, and I'm nowhere near running out of steam. I figure that as long as my health allows it, then I will continue to write, because it's not just a job for me now, it's something I live and breathe for. It's my passion. I get my inspiration from everything and see ideas, characters and plot twists in everyday life, as I'm sure many other writers do. I feel like I still have a number of stories left to tell, a number of characters left to create and breathe life into, and until I get to the point where I'm no longer getting light bulb moments, I plan to keep going.

Of course, that doesn't mean that I'll be continuing the DYING THOUGHTS series forever. As it stands, I thought five  books would be enough to tell Tara's story, but it's turned into eight. All good things must come to an end and although Tara and Kaolin have been with me almost since the beginning of my career, there will come a time when I have to say that they have told all there is to tell and I must close the book on their lives and let them be. I have the idea that it'll be when Tara is in the police force as a paid and trained officer, but even then, I'm not too sure if I'll get to that point.

As for my others books, well I have plans and ideas and one of the projects I will start on soon has the potential to become a two book series or a trilogy. I don't want the book to be a brick, but at the same time I don't want to end it before it's ready, so I'll spend some serious time thinking about whether or not it can be told in one shot or if it needs to be spread out over two or three parts. I won't really know until I start writing and get some idea of how long it will be. That's another part that I really do like about the job, you don't know what's going to happen every day. You can plan and think ahead but sometimes it's not until you're knee deep in a scene that you realise things aren't going to go to plan and you have to take a left turn. It's constantly surprising me and while it continues to do that, I'll continue to write.

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.

Tuesday 12 July 2016

From Joey's Instagram

[IMAGE DESCRIPTION: A square photo of a white door with a small rectangle sign hung on the door. It's held up with string and is white, with a page from book placed in the middle. On top of the page are the words "I'm not sleeping, I'm plottting!" The caption reads: Because a #writer never sleeps!]

[IMAGE DESCRIPTION: A square photo of a black phone screen. In the middle if the front cover for Destination: Unknown, which has two train tickets, one is orange and green and reads: "Destination: Unknown" while the other, underneath the right hand corner of the first is brown with "1910" on the edges as well as the words "Joey Paul" in the centre. On the edge of the screen is another cover for a book, though it is not clear what book. The caption reads: Happy Release Day!! Destination: Unknown is live on Amazon!]

[IMAGE DESCRIPTION: A square photo of Joey Paul (me) a cis, female white woman sat up in bed against a rose coloured headboard. She has short brown hair, wire rimmed glasses and is smiling. The caption reads: So I'm on the writing train lately and feeling good about it. I feel like I'm actually an author today which is a feeling that comes and goes, but to celebrate the good here's a selfie of me after a hard day's work resting in bed with my tablet. Back to work tomorrow!]

As always,  I am just starting out with image descriptions, so please do jump in if I've made an error!

Thursday 7 July 2016

Inside The Author: Writing Waiting On You


I started writing WAITING ON YOU in the spring of 2007, I had finished my last book and the idea for a new one was fresh in my mind. I was in a long distance relationship and with the success of the internet, it was becoming commonplace for people to meet online, date and even end up married. I wanted to write a book about two teenagers who came from different walks of life and met online. I wanted it to be my first foray into the world of romance fiction and although I had always stuck with crime plots, it was something I wanted to at least try.

Angelina lived in Keswick in Cumbria, her family were not as loving as they could have been, she had a difficult time with both her sisters and her mother. She also struggled with friends at school and they never had the money for her to do much of anything. She finds her solace and rescue in the form of a computer and internet connection from her Aunt who lives miles away. It's intended to just be a tool to help her with her school work, but it opens up a new world for her - a world of friends and the possibility of escaping her life.

In contrast, Zack is one of six children, living in London, with parents who are at work more than they're home. He has a mountain of responsibility on his shoulders, but has always been afforded the luxury of never worrying whether he will eat. He is surrounded by a loving family and has friends at school as well. He's sixteen, compared to Angelina's fourteen, and is well known in the chat room that they both use and ultimately end up meeting in. Zack takes a shine to Angelina, and eventually they get close and start to date. It's a whirlwind romance and all Zack wants to do is rescue Angelina from her horrific life. Only it's not as easy as it seems and despite his want and need to do the right thing, it doesn't all work out the way he planned.

It was while writing this book that I started to write a second book alongside, a practice I have since adopted as a way that works for me. I found that while I had a lot of ideas about how things could go with the book, getting them down on paper was harder than I had first realised. It did all come together (with a few breaks from writing here and there) and I finally finished the book in the Autumn of 2009. Looking back at the way my own long distance relationship worked out, I'm glad to say that although that relationship ended badly, the one between Angelina and Zack was not affected by that and has a somewhat happier ending... though maybe not the one they both hoped for.

Overall, I did enjoy getting to know both Angelina and Zack and seeing the world through their eyes. It was my first time writing from the point of view of a sixteen year old boy and while I may not have first-hand experience in that, I feel like I did a good job moulding Zack and giving him a voice. The same applies to Angelina. I may not have had the experience of a home life like hers, but I have been fourteen and feeling like the world is caving in around me and that no one would care if I wasn't there. I have also had the joy and relief that comes when you realise that someone does actually care and does want good things for you. For me, it was a friend, for Angelina is was Zack. I hope that in writing their story, I'm able to show that sometimes what you wish for can come true, but it doesn't always happen the way you thought it would. In other words, life gets better and it goes on getting better, you just have to hang on through the tough parts and hold on to people around you who care about you. There is always someone who cares, you may just not have met them yet.

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.