Tuesday, 29 October 2019


Tara isn't sure what to make of the new girl, she's never been one to have friends...

[IMAGE DESCRIPTION: A yellow background with the title of Dying Thoughts - First Touch and just above that: out now in paperback and ebook. The Excerpt reads:

 Maybe if I hadn’t have been so angry with Dad I wouldn’t have had to spend any more time with Kaolin. She called round after school to see how I was. I didn’t even stop and think about how she got hold of my address. I just flung the door open when she knocked and glared at her.
“Umm…hi…I…just umm…wondered umm…how you were,” she spluttered when she saw me. She was fiddling with her necklace again – that must be her nervous habit.
“I’m fine,” I snapped.
“Okay…umm…well,” she said. What did she want? My full medical history?


Monday, 28 October 2019

Sticky Notes & How They Work For Me - The Creavtive Process


As I've talked about a whole bunch before (pieces here and here) I use the Sticky Notes function on Windows to plot and plan out my time better. I've been doing this for a number of years now and when the latest update messed with them, I had a bit of a panic to be honest because I'm not sure I'd do better with a different kind of system. I did look into planners, but they didn't have what I needed to be sure I could plan the month, and by week as well.

Now I thought that since it's been a while, and since I have changed things around a little. It used to be that I restricted myself to one thing a day and while that's still, mostly, true, I have gotten better at seeing the month ahead without yet planning it out on my sticky notes. As you can see from the graphic above, this is my layout for the end of September 2019 going into October 2019. I also use sticky notes for the order of Authortube videos, blog posts, Friday posts, my big long-term goals and book deadlines, but since they have some spoilers, I didn't share those.

But let's break down the image above and how it helps me stay on track. I have things colour-coded. Pink is an Opaque day, purple is an I'll See You Thru day, white is a complete day off, yellow is for days when I do vlogs, or other admin stuff, blue are editing days and the green you can't see is for things like post orders and such.

I obviously can plan quite a lot given the size of the notes and the size of my screen, but the reason I wanted to share this was because a lot of people have asked how they keep me motivated when I obviously struggle with other things. And the simple answer, I think, is that I'm a very list-orientated person. I like being able to check off what I've done. I love being able to delete something and then at the end of the work day get rid of the note altogether because I managed it, I did the thing guys! I adulted right!

But in all seriousness, it took me a long time to work out a system that worked for me. I am pretty visual, and I've been asked before about a bullet journal. The only reason I say no is because I have zero artistic talent and my hands don't work right for a lot of hand written stuff. It's part of the Fibro and it means that I rarely write my hand, which was another reason I hope that Sticky Notes don't go away, because they help me have so much control and don't rely on me using a pen to do it.

A lot of the time, as I spoke about last week, (piece found here) I struggle with the image I have projected. I know people see me as super organised, and I am, but they also see me as super productive, and it's had a knock on effect to my mental health. The idea that I have to achieve more or the same than I did last month to be valid. It's a hard thing to break free of because of course you want to meet your goals, that's why you set them, but you also want to be able to keep pushing yourself, and for a long time, that became the norm.

When I went through that burnout at the beginning of the year, I was terrified that I would lose control of the organisational tools and be unable to get back to where I was, but in fact I found that the best thing to do was to focus on making sure I didn't borrow from tomorrow. So whereas before, if my sticky note tasks were done quickly, I would move onto the next day. Now I don't, I stay within the day's limit and I make sure that I take down time because that's important too.

So whichever way you do it, whether through a bullet journal or through sticky notes or some other method, being organised isn't a bad thing, but you do need to remember that you don't have to do all the things in on day, if you're feeling overwhelmed, take a step back and move forward at your own pace. We all have time. It takes as long as it takes 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, 25 October 2019

Review of Forged Purity by Louise Rachel Mahli

If they're always watching, how can you hide?

Every aspect of Adele Jones’ life is broadcasted to the public. Being an ordinary teenager is tough in a city owned by Media UK, an oppressive administration that puts everyone’s life on display for entertainment. Nobody escapes being filmed, whether you like it or not. And to retaliate, risks your very existence.

But ordinary ends for Adele when her boyfriend mysteriously vanishes; propelling her into more unwelcome fame than she’s ever experienced. How is his disappearance and this increased attention related? Things just aren’t adding up.

To get answers, Adele must find a way to uncover Media UK’s true agenda, away from the city’s watchful eyes. There is only one option. To involve herself with Jason Highbridge, a guy with dark secrets more powerful than the administration itself. The only person who can’t be filmed.

Through disobeying the rules with the most dangerous man in Waleslee, will Adele survive long enough to succeed in exposing Media UK’s real intentions?

My Review: 4 stars
I picked this up because of the blurb and the cover and was intrigued by the whole story. I found it started a little confusingly, but once I got into it, I couldn't put it down. I adored Adele, even if there were times I was shaking my head at her choices. The idea of the media controlling so much of the world and what Adele does to circumvent that, it was intriguing and a well written story. I also adored Jason, his innocence and his view on life and what's happening to him. Overall, a delightful read and one I very much enjoyed.

You can follow Louise on Instagram and her 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.

Tuesday, 22 October 2019


Lock can't help but feel that something more is going on than what she's being told...

[ID A burnt out lightbulb with the header of Lights Out and a seal for the New Apple book awards official selection with the smaller header of out now in paperback and ebook. Excerpt reads:

“Hey, Lana, did you find that fifteenth name?” I asked.
I could hear a loud squeak on her end and wondered what she was doing.
“Name? I told you, I didn’t…,” she said, sounding far away.
“Is it possible the mainframe found her when it went back online?” I asked.
“What’s the name and I can check?”
“Martha Connors, her file says she’s received all three prompts and due process has gone through.”
“Well, the server must have found her then, because I didn’t,” Lana said. “I suppose that’s one crisis averted. You should let Chris know we found her.”


Monday, 21 October 2019

Days Off That Matter - The Creative Process


This is a topic that I've been putting off for a while. I have talked about it before, (piece found here) but it felt like a good time to bring it back. As you all know, one of my yearly goals for 2019 was to take at least one day off completely every month. It's something I've always struggled with doing, and something that I still do struggle with. I recently did a tag on my Authortube channel about struggles while writing, and this sparked the idea to do a blog post too. (Video found here.)

At the beginning of 2019, I was in the throes of a flare from my chronic conditions and also really struggling to get a good nights sleep. It started at the tail end of 2018, which was one of the reasons I made that goal, and have continued to make it throughout my bi-monthly goals on Youtube. I was also severely burned out. I've worked myself hard over 2018, and I was struggling to keep going, and to keep on top of what I saw as my must-do things.

Things like writing over 50K every month and doing all the things I had set out in my monthly goals which are hosted on a private blog. I felt like I had to be doing everything to be considered valid both as a writer, an author and as a person. I know a lot of that is tied up in the ableist belief that productivity determines your worth. I'm disabled and have been for the majority of my life. I'm a full-time wheelchair user and my conditions do have an impact on my life. I try to work with them rather than against them, but that doesn't always work out. Hence the days off.

I told myself that just one day a month wasn't the end of the world, and it hasn't been. In fact it's really helped me get my head on straight and led to other days off. I never count my day of Mepo as a day off because it's a stressful day and I usually feel pretty crappy afterwards, so it can't really be a rest day. My days off are days when I don't have to do anything writing related, whether that's writing itself or doing blogs or vlogs or anything like that. And they matter to me, because they are one of the ways I make sure that I don't get burned out again.

I've talked before about ways to relax, but one thing I've always really found hard is turning my writing brain off. I read a whole ton and that's something that's always been a way for me to unwind and just do nothing but get lost in the pages. But when I was trying to refill my creative well, and come back from being burned out, I realised that a lot of the time, I'm reading books as a way to help other authors, and technically, that's also work. So now I have a set list of books to read, the ones that are purely for fun, and the ones that are for when I'm not feeling too drained by writing.

Because days off, and time off, it matters, and it counts. You're still being productive because you're allowing yourself time and space to breathe. There's nothing that will stifle you more than the pressure and overwhelming feeling of there never being any time to do anything else but work on writing. I know there are some writers and successful authors who work all the hours they can, and that's great since it works for them. I am not them. It took me a long time to be okay with that, and I'm basically writing this post to remind you that everyone is carrying their own load. What I achieve, what anyone else achieves in a specific amount of time doesn't need to be what you achieve.

I've always said this since it was pointed out to me and I'm gonna say it again: it takes as long as it takes, and that's okay.

Keep writing, but don't forget to rest, you are important, and for your story to go anywhere, you have to take care of yourself. Have the days off, enjoy them, do whatever you want with them, and come back to writing later refreshed and ready to tackle that to-do list.

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, 18 October 2019

Review of Blind Date: Never Go Home With A Stranger by Nick Clausen

Never Go Home With a Stranger

Lily agrees to go on a date at a restaurant with Jake, whom she's never met. He turns out to be fun, sweet and kind of mysterious. Against her own better judgement, she decides to go home with him—and that turns out to be the biggest mistake of her life.

Jake's parents are out of town, so they have the whole, impressive mansion to themselves. Jake makes Lily a drink, goes upstairs but doesn't come back down. Lily waits patiently for several minutes. Still, no Jake. Finally, she goes upstairs to look for him. And that's when the horror begins ...

My Review: 5 stars
I picked this up because it looked to be a quick read and the blurb intrigues me. I was trying to guess the twist once the story started, but didn't get it right. Overall it was a thrilling read and made me curious about some of the author's other books. The story was engaging and well-written and the twist was one that I didn't see coming. An amazing short story and one I adored.

You can follow Nick on his 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.

Tuesday, 15 October 2019


Lock knows there's something going on, but she doesn't know what...

[ID: A graphic with a fading lightbulb and the title Lights Out with just below it: Out now in paperback & 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…”


Monday, 14 October 2019

The Trials Of A Crime Writer: Research Matters


I've talked about research before as a crime writer (piece found here) but I wanted to touch on it again because it's something that I think bears repeating, and it's been a while since I wrote that piece and the way I approach things has changed slightly. So settle in and let me tell you a few things I've learned about research and why it matters to the crime writer.

I've read a lot of crime books over the years and one thing that has rung true about all of them, is that they needed facts that might not have been available from just Googling the info. I personally have a couple of people I know in the UK police force that I can go to, just to make sure that what I'm writing has a hint of realism to it. That's not just for my crime books, but for any book that involves an air of mystery. For example, in the Cramping Chronicles series, I needed to know more up to date stuff and different things than I did for the Dying Thoughts series. One heavily used the police force, the other doesn't really have much contact with them. But in both cases, I talked to my contacts and made sure that the facts I was using, were correct, and would stand up to the plot.

This can be applied to a lot of things, writing rules included, but for the purpose of this piece, I'm talking about the actual rules that apply to things like collecting evidence, or moving a body, or what order the officers arrive in, or how cases are divided up. You get the picture. If you need a certain thing to happen in a certain order, then you need to be doing the research to know if there's a reason that can or can't happen. And if it can't, you might be able to work out a way it can, but just be careful with how far off procedure you go because readers will notice that.


This isn't just about research, but it's also a good idea to have a backup plan just in case you find out that your original idea doesn't hold water, or doesn't execute the way you expected it to. This can be having an alternative way for the evidence to lead them to the killer, or it can be a different motive for the crime, whatever you can think of that keeps your story intact but also allows for some wriggle room. I know that when I was writing Dying Thoughts - Eighth Ending, I didn't have a backup plan for the way things went down, and as it turned out in edits, that was a huge mistake as things had to be rewritten and rechecked through my contacts to make sure it would end up working.

When it comes to research, you want to be making sure you're making the most of what you have at your disposal. Whether that's Google, or books, talking to people in the field, or making connections with other crime writers, or Facebook groups that deal with checking facts. I have used all of these as tools to make sure that I have what I need, and I can help other people when it comes to checking their own facts. You need to be sure that you have good contacts and that the utilise all the tools you have, otherwise you might find your story falling short and no one wants that.

I can't tell you the amount of times that I've gone to write something, that I know from past experience is right, to only look or ask and find out that I'm wrong, or the information I was given is only part of the story. So even if you've got a really good contact and you're really sure that everything is correct, always just double check it. It's better to spend a little time doing that, than to find yourself with only part of the truth, or worse, out of date information especially for the time period of your story. It's saved me a number of times, and I know it could save you.

So there you have it, my five tips on why research matters and how to make sure that the research you do is up to date, is correct, and allows you for a little artistic license. Research is a vital part of the crime writing process, but it's also awesome in other types of fiction. Overall, the best thing to do is be diligent and make sure that you have what you need.

Lemme know in the comments your tips on research and the best places you've found for research!

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, 11 October 2019

Interview With Krysten Lindsay Hager

I am delighted to be welcoming Krysten Lindsay Hager on the blog for an interview! She's been here before, but since the questions have changed I wanted to interview her again. Here's a bio about here:

Krysten Lindsay Hager writes about friendship, self-esteem, fitting in, frenemies, crushes, fame, first loves, and values. She is the author of True Colors, Best Friends...Forever?, Next Door to a Star,  Landry in Like, Competing with the Star, Dating the It Guy,  Can Dreams Come True, and In Over Her Head: Lights, Camera, Anxiety. True Colors, won the Readers Favorite award for best preteen book and the Dayton Book Expo Bestseller Award for children/teens. Best Friends…Forever won the Readers’ Favorite Silver Medal. Competing with the Star is a Readers' Favorite Book Award Finalist. Landry in Like is a Literary Classics Gold Medal recipient.

Krysten's work has been featured in USA Today, The Flint Journal, the Grand Haven Tribune, the Beavercreek Current, the Bellbrook Times, Springfield News-Sun, Grand Blanc View, Dayton Daily News and on Living Dayton.

And onto the interview!

In your own writing, which character of yours do you relate to most?
Cecily is a lot like me in terms of our sense of humor and how we look at the world. She’s a lot more organized and worried about schoolwork than I ever was though! Landry was a lot like me in middle school and Emme is a lot like me in high school.

Do you read your own genre? Is it a favourite?

I love reading YA. I tend to reread YA books a lot, too. I also love mysteries and biographies.

If you had to describe your style in three words, what would they be?
My books always contain humor, hope, and make you feel like the storyline could really happen even if it involves a dating a rock star! I got a review once that called my writing, “funny, lively, and very real,” and that’s become my tagline.

What was the first story you ever told?

When I was a kid, I used to watch soap opera dramas and I would get frustrated with the cliffhangers, so I would go and get my Barbie dolls and act out how I wanted the storyline to go. That’s how I got started writing stories in the first place.

Was writing always your dream choice of career?

I always loved making up stories as a kid. I also thought about being a screenwriter. I did work as a journalist for a while, but writing was always my first love.

Do you have a writing space? Pictures or descriptions!
I have an office and the back wall has my bookcases. That’s big for me because we moved around a lot and in the last house, I just had a desk in the great room and my books had no permanent home. I love having bookcases so much! I organize my books by genre. I think it’s cute when people do it by color, but that wouldn’t work for me as I like to know where everything is in case I need it fast. I have a desk in the middle of the room and a big table under the windows that I have been using to work through my plots. There are notebooks everywhere.

Playlists? Yes or no? And why?

Love playlists because they’re soundtracks to the books. I make one for each book I write because there’s always a song inspiring me and my writing. The fact the Cecily Taylor Series deals with her dating a musician really brings music into the story as she fell for Andrew as a singer/songwriter way before she ever met him. She feels like he understands her through his lyrics and that’s how I felt about certain songwriters growing up.

Organised or not?

To give you an idea, there’s a pile of notebooks and papers stacked so high on my desk that I had to move them to see the screen. I recently got a new table in my office because my desk isn’t big enough and now my piles of paper have grown—haha!

What's your favourite book you've read?

I loved The Great Gatsby, but not until I read it as an adult. We were assigned it in 7th grade and again in 9th and I couldn’t relate to it then. I read The Bell Jar for the first time in high school and liked it a lot. I like Edith Wharton a lot, too. My favorite YA book is Good-bye Glamour Girl by Erika Tamar.

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

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.