Tuesday, 23 July 2019

#TeaserTuesday


Tara is adjusting to life with a loving boyfriend and a father who needs her home. But that doesn't mean that there's not time for dates, right?



And don't forget the Pre-order SWAG: https://forms.gle/5tundLE6FUTGjAF67

[ID: A background of a waterfall with the heading Dying Thoughts -Eighth Ending and the release date as October 9th 2019. The excerpt reads:

 “Yes, teachers, they seem to think we should stay for the whole lesson,” he joked. I chuckled and my grin got wider. “We going back to yours?”
“I er… I dunno. I think my dad has another agent to interview, so it might be all clear or he might be doing it at home.”
“And we do have a date later,” he said.
“We do. I believe someone suggested dinner and a movie?”
“He did. So what time?”
“Shall we say about six? Dad’s gotten a bit weird about me being out too late, so dinner might have to be the drive-thru at McD’s.”


END ID]

Monday, 22 July 2019

Authortube: Growing Your Channel


AUTHORTUBE: GROWING YOUR CHANNEL

I've been on Authortube now for a little under three years. I'm not someone to turn to when it comes to advice about making it big, but to be honest, I haven't. I have just over 300 subs and even then I don't get a ton of interaction. I've talked about authortube before and the pieces for that are found here, here and here.

However, I can tell you the ways in which I've learned since starting about how to grow your channel. I'm just being upfront that it takes time and that if you go about it the wrong way, you can end up shooting yourself in the foot. Youtube is not for everyone and growing an author platform can be an arduous task. I've been doing this for over a decade and I'm still very much a small fish simply because I either made mistakes early on, or I took too long to correct those mistakes once I started to get noticed.

I'm telling you this because I feel like being transparent about where I'm coming from is a very good idea. It's no good me telling you that doing x and y works because I'm still very new to this myself. It would feel like a bad thing to do and doesn't help you at all. And that's not what I'm about. My Monday advice pieces have always been about my experience and in that regard, so is this one. So, what are my tips when it comes to growing your authortube channel?

#1 INTERACT WITH OTHER AUTHORTUBERS
This is a big one because a lot of the time, it's word of mouth that will get you in front of new viewers. Don't do what I did, and make the videos, upload them and then sit and wait for people to roll in and watch because that doesn't happen. Not only will you make friends and writer buddies but you'll also get an idea of what content works and how to tailor your own to spread your message to authortube.

#2 TAGS, TAGS AND MORE TAGS
This is part of number one in that you want to be taking part in tags. Whether that's the newbie tags, which are a great way to introduce yourself to the world of Authortube, or other tags that you've seen and decided to do yourself. It's even a good idea to use those friendships from point one and create your own unique tags that then go around the community. It's a way to get yourself noticed and a way to find your own little niche of Authortube as a whole.

#3 MAKE YOUR OWN MARK WITH YOUR CONTENT

There are certain types of videos that do well. Whether that's advice videos, or writing vlogs, or even tags, you're going to find that there are a lot of ideas out there, but as to whether or not you decide to follow the trend or try and make your own is up to you. Personally, I shied away from a lot of the general advice topics and stuck to things about my own writing process and titbits of advice that I personally knew a lot about, such as writing disabled characters or writing crime scenes, or dealing with that self-esteem gremlin. I didn't stick to just plain old writing advice, and it's okay if you choose to do that, it can be very popular, but you might find it hard to be heard over the crowds of people already doing just that.

#4 GO WITH THE CROWD... SOMEWHAT

By this I mean that if you find something that works and that you do well, then by all means go with it. I don't mean taking someone else's topic each week and doing it the same, especially if it's something you don't know a lot about and find yourself mirroring their talking points. That's not going to help you grow your channel, it's just gonna make you look bad. So by all means, do all the tags and give out advice, just do it in your own style and personal way.

And finally, #5 BE PATIENT

I put this here simply because it takes a lot of time, energy and videos to get a huge following. I've heard that once you hit 1K, things seem to snowball from there, but I'm nowhere near that point and I know other channels that aren't either. It takes time. Just keep putting your videos out there, interacting, being polite and genuine and you'll find yourself growing bit by bit. It's worth it in the end, I promise.

So those are my tips when it comes to growing your channel. I'm still navigating the pathways and I don't know if or when I'll get to a point where I have a huge audience. I do know that I love making the videos and I am grateful for the few commenter and watchers that I have. I've found Authortube to be wholly positive and while we have our drama from time to time, the more people I meet, the more at home I feel.

So good luck, and remember that final point. It will take time, and that's okay!


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

Friday, 19 July 2019

Interview with Zarina Macha & Review of Anne


I am delighted to welcome Zarina Macha to the blog for both an interview and my review of her newest release - Anne. Here's a little about Zarina!

Zarina Macha is an author, blogger and musician born and raised in London, UK. She studied Songwriting and Creative Artistry at The Academy of Contemporary Music in Guildford. She regularly writes a social comment blog titled 'The Zarina Macha Blog.' In her spare time she loves reading and fan-girling over Game of Thrones.

She has published three books; 'Every Last Psycho', a YA compilation of two novellas, 'Art is a Waste of Time', a collection of her poetry, and ‘Anne’, a YA coming-of-age novel. For more information about her please visit www.zarinamacha.co.uk.


And onto the interview

In your own writing, which character of yours do you relate to most?
I don’t directly base characters on myself, however I do embed elements of my own life into the characters. My fiction is based around troubled teenage girls going through external and internal hardships, which of course is personal to me but relatable to most of the population.

In my novel ‘Anne’, the character I relate to the most is Simone, who befriends Anne when they are at Lakeland Boarding School together. Simone is very similar to me; talkative, smart, upbeat, musical and good-hearted. She also struggles with depression and an alcohol problem, as does Tess in ‘Every Last Thought’, which is pretty close to home.

Do you read your own genre? Is it a favourite?
I write contemporary Young Adult fiction which I read a lot of growing up (it’s not that long ago that I was a teenager). I read many of the popular YA authors; Meg Cabot, Sarah Manning, Sarah Dessen, Cathy Hopkins, Cathy Cassiday, and the dreaded Stephanie Meyer. (Loved Twilight back then, hate it now).

Don’t tend to read much YA now, but an author I’ve grown to love these past few years who is branded YA is Louise O’Neill; I’ve read all four of her published books and eagerly await her next ones! I love her stories because she breaks down clich├ęs and explores heavy themes for young women that we don’t see enough of. I often found a lot of happily-ever-after/all-girls-stick-together themes in the YA books I read, and wanted to write about the gritty realism of being a young person and how painful growing up can be.

If you had to describe your style in three words, what would they be?
Intense, character-driven, candid.

Was writing always your dream choice of career?
Yes, yes, and yes. Have been writing since I was a little kid. It’s branched out into various forms; fictional prose, poetry, song lyrics; creative non-fiction. Words are my passion.

Which social media do you see as a must for writers?
Facebook has been very useful to me due to the networking I’ve achieved through contacting fellow bloggers and authors (like you). There are loads of support groups for writers which contain useful information about blog tours, beta readers, ARC reviews, where to get a good editor/cover designer, and loads more. FB networking has been hugely helpful to me.

Organised or not?
I’m very organised! I’m someone who works better with things being neatly ordered and filed and listed. In my ‘Documents’ folder I have three folders; one for stories and author stuff, one for general documents, and one containing other people’s works I may be reading/editing.

Then I have separate folders for all my stories, and folders within the folders e.g. I have a folder for ‘Anne’ within ‘Stories and Author Stuff’, and then folders for each draft, and then for the final edition a folder containing all the covers….

What's your favourite book you've read?
Oh God, that’s too big a question. I’m currently reading All the Light We Cannot See, a beautiful story I’m reading incredibly slowly due to being so busy re-arranging my folders. I usually say my all-time favourite is On Beauty by Zadie Smith, which I read when I was twelve. I love the simplicity of the storyline and the richness of the prose.

Actually, I recently re-read Maya Running, one of my favourite childhood books, which is about this Indian girl raised in Canada who is having an identity crises and prays to her cousin’s magic statue of Ganesh to make her life better. Of course, the wishes come true, she realises what a terrible mistake she’s made and it goes back to normal. But it’s honestly a beautiful story and the writing is amazing – I read it so many times growing up and the magic is still there.

If you had a hashtag for your books, what would it be?
#ZariBooks




‘Are you okay, Mummy? Did Daddy hurt you again?’

Anne Mason’s childhood in Richmond emulates suburban bliss, with a wealthy father and a loving mother. But behind the polished windows, Anne’s father terrorizes her mother, shattering their utopian home life with beatings and beer. Home-schooled on a diet of books and museums, knowledge becomes Anne’s only saviour.

One night her dad comes home with the news that her mother has left them forever. Unable to care for his daughter, Anne is sent to live with her kindly aunt and uncle. Struggling to settle into day school, Anne enrolls in Lakeland Boarding School. She meets and falls for gentle Karen, whose friends torment Anne and her troubled roommate Simone.

Forced to confront her traumatic upbringing, Anne learns the horrors of the past and present. Will love, hope, and inner strength prevail?

My review: 5 stars
I picked this up as it caught my eye and the blurb sounded very interesting. It pulled me in from the first page, going back through Anne's short life, the trouble she'd faced and the way her life had changed. I adored the character, the way she stood up for herself even when presented with difficult choices, and the way she stayed true to herself. Beautifully written and heartbreaking in places, an amazing story and one that touches very much on mental health and the importance of taking care of yourself and others. I very much recommend it!

You can follow Zarina on her website, her blog, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

Join Joey here on the blog on Fridays for interviews, reviews and guest bloggers. If you'd be interested in doing any of those, you can contact Joey here

Tuesday, 16 July 2019

#TeaserTuesday


Lock knows there's a file missing, but she can't work out how, or why, or who. Something is amiss.


BUY NOW: http://www.books2read.com/LOUT


[ID: A graphic of a burnt out light bulb with the title of Lights Out and just below the words: Out Now in paperback and ebook. The excerpt reads:

I knew that he wouldn’t be able to just tell me to me to let it go. If it wasn’t down at the wire, we might have been able to leave it for the day, but with the notices due to go out in four hours, we couldn’t risk someone not getting their due process.
“Are you sure it wasn’t a mistake?” he asked, checking each file as he went down the list.
“You tell me, you said fifteen, which is why you wanted Lana to double up with me,” I said. “I could’ve sworn there were fifteen names yesterday when I left for work and now after the server crash…”


END ID]

Monday, 15 July 2019

5 Facts About My Current WIP: I'll See You Thru


5 FACTS ABOUT MY CURRENT WIP: I'LL SEE YOU THRU

Last week I talked about my other WIP (piece found here) and this week I promised to delve deep into I'll See You Thru, so without further ado, here we go!

I'll See You Thru is a young adult paranormal romance. It tells the story of seventeen year old, Ayla who wakes up one morning to find herself completely translucent. She can't touch or grip things easily and with her first year of A-level exams coming up in a couple of weeks, she's desperate to find the cause and undo it somehow. Unable to confide in her friends, she keeps it mostly to herself. Until she spots a girl she's seen around school, but never really gotten to know. Freya. And the thing that catches Ayla's eyes is that Freya is translucent too.

This book is definitely a standalone and I am loving getting to explore a new world and new characters along the way, so I know you're desperate to know, but here's five facts about I'll See You Thru!

#1 AYLA STRUGGLES TO BALANCE THINGS WITH HER FRIENDS

When she wakes up and realises her life has changed completely, the first thing on her mind is what to tell her parents. It's only when she realises they can't see her translucent state that she starts to calm down a little. She barely gets a chance to think about what it means before she's at school, acting a little spaced out. Her friends, Jin and Dani, obviously notice and want to know what's wrong. Ayla tells them the first lie she can think of, but it soon becomes clear that they don't believe her. She doesn't really know what to do about that and finds herself telling more lies which come back to bite her in the arse. She finds herself distanced from her friends and unsure how to deal with that.

#2 FREYA ISN'T ALL SHE SEEMS

While Ayla has noticed Freya over the years at school, she never really spent time getting to know her. Because of that it takes her a while to break through the protective barriers Freya has. Having been used to being a loner, Freya isn't unfriendly, she's just not sure what she can do to help Ayla beyond telling her what she knows and hoping Ayla won't judge her for it. Along the way, Ayla learns a lot about Freya and finds herself falling in love with her, but she's not sure if Freya has been completely open with her.

#3 NAVIGATING THE PARANORMAL WORLD ISN'T EASY

Ayla never really believed there was a paranormal world before all this dropped in her lap. It's especially hard to process when everything else going on around her continues as normal. She knows what happened to her is real, but even with Freya's help she feels like she's completely out of her depth. Going against people she has no idea about and struggling to save herself, but also not lose Freya in the process.

#4 THE EXAMS ARE FAST APPROACHING

Ayla has never been someone who did well with pressure. Especially when it came in the guise of an exam. She struggled through her GCSEs but now with AS exams, she can't help but feel like she's going to explode from it all. She can't ignore her translucent state and she's not going to abandon Freya when she needs her most, but there feels like there's no end in sight and it's all getting worse with every day that passes. On top of that, her parents are starting to notice just how little studying she does. She's trying to juggle her normal life with the abnormal changes and something has to give.

#5 THERE'S ONLY ONE SOLUTION AYLA WILL USE
Out of everything going on, there's only one solution that Ayla will accept. She wants her life back, but she doesn't want to sell Freya out to get that. She's sure of a lot of things, and that is one of them. The only ending she will be happy with is one that sees them both changed back, the curse lifted and the chance to explore their romance as regular people. Of course the easiest answer is the wrong one, and Ayla will fight tooth and nail for the one she sees as right.

So there we have it, five facts about my other current WIP. Like I said above, I'm loving getting to explore this new world and I'm hopeful that it will all go well. What are five facts about your current WIP? Share them in the comments below!


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

Friday, 12 July 2019

Guest Blog - Sandra Robinson



Recently I paid a visit to Claire House on the Wirral.


Claire House Children’s Hospice helps seriously and terminally ill children live life to the full by creating wonderful experiences and bringing back a sense of normality to family life.



This is done by providing specialist nursing care and emotional support they help families smile again when life couldn’t get any tougher.


This is their very welcoming entrance to the hospice.







Claire House has a team of trained professionals who are as passionate about what they do as they are talented at doing it. Their staff includes nurses, physiotherapists, play specialists, counsellors and they also have four dedicated doctors who visit the hospice.












Creating magical memories


But Claire House is about far more than just care. It is a place for children to relax and enjoy themselves, whatever their age. They can have fun in the multi-sensory room, art room, hydrotherapy pool and jacuzzi. There is a separate wing complete with bar, sound system and Xbox for teenagers and young adults.











Whilst their children are having fun, mums and dads get the chance to enjoy some much-needed time off together or the opportunity to spend time with their other children.



Care when and where you need it


Not all families want to come to the hospice, so their team goes out to visit them in their homes and they put on regular trips for brothers and sisters to ensure they don’t miss out on having fun.


Claire House is also there for parents during the toughest of times. Whether they are spent at home or in the hospice, they ensure a child’s final days are memorable and special. They don’t just help with the practical issues of registering a child’s death and arranging their funeral – they provide dedicated round-the-clock support and specialist counselling.


As one family put it: “The best thing about Claire House is knowing that they are always there. From the minute you meet them for as long as you need them.”


Now I have had quite a bit of experience with children's hospices as before I became an author and an event organiser I worked as a children's nurse and Health Visitor. The children that I cared for often visited the local hospice and were always very excited to do so. They would proudly tell me they were off to the hospice for the weekend and that they would be having fun. This generally could include getting their hair done, nails painted and listening to music with their peers.






This is because they enjoyed their visits there. A hospice is for life and for living. making every moment count and making memories. Memories for parents, grandparents, siblings and friends.


The care that children and families receive via either the outreach services or services at the various sites is second to none.



Let me tell you a little more

I spent an entire day visiting the Wirral and was impressed by all that I saw. Everyone wore great big smiley faces. From the staff and families to the children that I met. To be a health professional in these circumstance requires a certain kind of person. The very best kind of person.










When Claire House Children's Hospice opened in December 1998, they were only looking after ten families. Now they support over four hundred! Yet, from research, they are aware, that for every child they reach in their catchment area there is one they do not. Therefore they need help, and funding is the way for us to help them reach more





The history of Claire House

When Claire House Children's Hospice opened in December 1998, as I already said, they were only looking after ten families. Now they support over four hundred!











As the team has grown, they have increased their fundraising activities so that they can look after more children and they now have twenty-five shops throughout Wirral, Merseyside, North Wales and Chester.




Claire's Story




The story of Claire House Children’s Hospice is the story of one special little girl named Claire.


Claire Louise Cain was five years old when she moved with mum Christine, dad Bobby and big sister Tracey from Liverpool to the Wirral in 1985. Life was normal; Claire and Tracey, seven, both settled into their new schools and enjoyed going to Brownies together and in October there was another addition to the family when Jennifer was born.


Two years later, with Christine expecting the Cains’ fourth child, Claire suddenly became seriously ill and was diagnosed as having a malignant tumour behind her nose and eye.


The family’s routine now included regular hospital visits, with Claire refusing to complain despite undergoing months of chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatment.




A very brave girl

Even when she lost the sight in one eye, her hair and most of her teeth, Claire kept on smiling and laughing and was happy and positive throughout. When Kevin was born in February 1988 Claire was a very proud big sister, enjoying pushing him in his pram and taking her new baby brother to the hospital to show him off to her friends.


Two months later, at Easter, scans showed that Claire’s tumour had grown and despite undergoing a new type of chemotherapy, Claire died in hospital in July 1989, just a couple of weeks before her 10th birthday, with her mum and dad at her side.


Claire’s final hours led directly to the hospice we know today. With Claire in hospital, the whole family could not be together, as they would have wished; taking Claire home would have meant sacrificing the support they received at the hospital.





The start of a big idea

The determination of the Cain’s, and other local families such as Ann and Stephen Robarts and Olwen and Ron Jones, that families of children with serious or terminal illnesses would not face the same impossible decisions led them to set up the first Claire House committee. Their aim was to raise funds to build a much-needed children’s hospice for the Wirral.


Bobby and Tracey started the fundraising with a car boot sale which raised £96, the family topping it up to £100 and opening the first Claire House bank account.

In the years that followed, Claire’s family and friends organised and took part in fundraising events and dealt with many individuals and groups in the local community from the Brownies to large businesses.


The family’s house was filled with merchandise, raffle prizes and anything else that could be used to raise money, and the fundraising team grew to include one paid fundraiser and a clerical worker, who was supported by an expanding team of volunteers inspired by Claire’s story.



A lasting legacy

Ten years after Claire’s diagnosis, and after many years of planning, committee meetings, fundraising events and location hunting, Claire House opened its doors in December 1998, complete with a bronze plaque designed by Tracey, Jennifer and Kevin.


It is a combination of some of the things that made Claire happy and played a part in her life; music, funny hats, the Mersey Ferry (the last record she bought was Ferry Cross the Mersey), a bucket and spade, Mickey Mouse and much more.


A lasting reminder of Claire, it takes pride of place in the entrance at Claire House and reads “made with love for our sister Claire by Tracey, Jennifer and Kevin”.


The last word, though, must go to Christine and Bobby. They say: “This special place gives families a choice, the choice that we never had when our daughter was ill.


“Claire would be very proud to know that her name and her family have spearheaded the campaign that raised the funds to build the first children’s hospice in our area. She was an inspiration to all of us who had the honour of knowing her.”



Back to happenings for Claire House today

After touring the original hospice on the Wirral I travelled across to the newest addition close to Alder Hey Hospital in Liverpool with one of the fundraising team, Cora. 


The location the newest acquisition for the charity is brilliant as it is only a ten-minute walk from Alder Hey itself. An ideal location. It is also a very beautiful old building set in amazing grounds. 










The setting is a former monastery in Liverpool as you can see from the above video and the photos it will prove to be a great asset. See more video footage from the Liverpool Echo here.
















Claire House signed an exclusivity agreement with the
Carmelite Order of Nuns – a silent order – who wanted to leave their monastery
to a good cause.




Tucked away
down a side road that actually runs underneath part of the nearby Cardinal Heenan Catholic High School. It opened in 1905 and
was at one time home to up to 100 nuns. The final six nuns moved out four years
ago. It is still full of fascinating artefacts from its long and secret
history, including many religious signs and an ancient printing press which the
nuns used to print their hymn sheets.

As Claire House fundraiser Dan Halliday said: “Liverpool is like nowhere else because its people take ownership of things – and this place will belong to them. We want Liverpool people and Liverpool businesses to be a part of what we are doing here now and where we are heading.”






















Also hard at work at the new site is Bruce Dodd, head of estates and facilities.


From the majestic rooms and the fabulous artwork, there is no doubt in my mind about the need to support this amazing charity.


We are hoping to have some representatives of the charity with us at our Liverpool signing with merchandise for everyone to buy, in order to further support them.











Join the Facebook group to learn more or show your support by buying tickets for the event on the link on this blog. 




To learn more about Claire house this is their website



Join Joey here on the blog on Fridays for interviews, reviews and guest bloggers. If you'd be interested in doing any of those, you can contact Joey here