Friday, 17 January 2020

Review of Hood by MC Frank

“We are probably going to die today,” said John.
“I’m aware,” Robin replied. “But then again, we’re constantly going to die.”
“So what you’re saying is,” Alis hissed behind them, “that you’re used to being about to die.”
“More or less,” Will Scarlet replied, rare laughter in his voice. “The excitement is gone.”


Meet Robin Hood's band of outlaws. Their story starts with Christmas, a lost love, a hungry town and a robbery.
In this Outlaws novella, Robin Loxley is a tortured young man mourning the loss of his title, his lands and his first love. Tonight, with the help of his close friends, he will get a new name that will live in history, a cat that could care less that Robin happens to be the most brilliant archer in medieval England, and a chance to prove himself by rescuing a lady from a fire.
But this is no ordinary lady...
And that is no ordinary fire...

HOOD is a prequel novella to the beloved bestselling Outlaws series by M.C. Frank. 

My Review: 5 STARS
I adore Frank's earlier works and I loved the first book in this series, so I had to pick this one up on pre-order and devoured it in one sitting. The memories that Robin has are so vividly painted in the words. The characters that you know and love are all there in their glory. Frank is an exceptional writer, and has a way of painting scenes and stories with a flourish of words. I very much enjoyed this book and am looking forward to more from this author. Highly recommended.


You can follow MC Frank on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, her website, and The Book Robin Hoods.

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, 14 January 2020

#TeaserTuesday


Lock knows that something dodgy is going on with the events, but could she have played a part in helping them kill a woman before her time?



[ID: A fading lightbulb background with the header of Lights Out and a smaller header that reads: out now in paperback & ebook. There is a award seal to the right from New Apple literary awards. The excerpt reads:

Connors didn't meet that criteria, at least she didn't from what I'd read. However, she had, supposedly, been working on exposing people who circumvented the sixty year law. Wouldn't that make her a threat? Someone who was working against the change these people were trying to exact?
Looking at it dispassionately, which I think was the only way I could look at it, you could see Connors as a threat that needed to be silenced. It wasn't right by any means it was, plain and simple, murder and to know I played a part in that almost made me lose my breakfast. 


END ID]

Monday, 13 January 2020

Drafting Fun - The Creative Process


DRAFTING FUN

I have to say that drafting is my favourite part of the writing process. I know I've talked about why I hate editing, (piece found here) but I've never really gone into why I find drafting so much easier, and more fun. Right now I'm working on two semi-new projects in that I've only been writing them a couple of months, and it just awoke that part of me that loves doing this for a living.

Drafting is only the start of the process, you have to have a first draft to be able to move onto the next step, revisions and more drafts before editing starts. I do have to say that because I edit as I go, a lot of the time, my first draft is more like a second one, or somewhere between the two. And while I love that first foray into writing a new idea, I'm not too keen on revisions, which is another step that has to be done, and I usually grit my teeth and get on with it!

So why do I love drafting so much? I'm going to give you my reasons and break down why I've chosen them! So stick around and find out!

#1 I LOVE DISCOVERING THE STORY
I'm pretty much a pantser when it comes to the drafting stage. I do have a minimal outline, but it's two pieces of paper with all of my chapters, and about four words max next to each of them. When I outline, I think up plot points that need to happen and mix them in with other things that might happen, and then I give myself permission to go into the draft knowing that some of these things either won't come to fruition or they'll be moved earlier or later down the timeline.

Basically, I'm a discovery writer, in that I find out the story as I'm telling it. There are some moments when I'll go back to edit and find out I was already foreshadowing an event that I didn't think I'd thought of, so obviously somewhere my brain knows what should happen, even if it happens later than planned!

#2 I LOVE GETTING TO KNOW THE CHARACTERS

Usually, I will have some idea of who the main character is, and a few other people that surround them. Sometimes, depending on the genre, I'll know who the antagonist is, but other times I'll find myself working it out as I write. When it's a crime/mystery book, I generally have a good plan for the bad guy, but when drafting the Invisible series, I had an antagonist planned and he never ever ended up in the series. It just didn't make sense with how the story was going, so he was dropped entirely.

However, even if I don't know much about the characters, I do love getting to know them during the drafting phase. One of the reasons I wrote the Lights Out trilogy was because the inital idea was for a standalone and yet when I got to know Lock, I realised she'd never act the way I'd planned, and the trilogy was born!

#3 I LOVE THINKING ON MY FEET

It's something that when it comes to writing, I'm pretty good at, other ways I kinda suck at it, but writing a story? I'm blowing it outta the water with ideas and such that I can use to keep it moving forward and get from point A to point B and have it make the most sense. It gives me a chance to use my brain to think up a situation that will fit the narrative and while you could say the same happens in outlining, I'm just not a writer who can work with, and stick to, a massive outline. It's never been my style and I don't see that changing any time soon.

And finally, #4 I LOVE THE STORIES I CAN TELL
This might seem like an ego thing, same as the last point, but to be honest, it's not really. I read a whole ton, and I also write a lot, but when the two come together, when I'm drafting and reading this story that came from my own mind, I really find myself enjoying them. I adore what I've written and being able to see that while it's not perfect, it is something to be proud of. It's something that has always been enjoyable to me. I still have bouts of low self-esteem, but when I look at the books on my shelf, the ones I wrote, I couldn't be prouder for what I've managed.

So there we have it, the four things that make drafting fun for me. I'm really very much a writer who adores the initial exploring of the idea, of telling it and enjoying it, and not one that enjoys what comes afterwards. While all of those steps need to be done, it's usual for a writer to have a favourite part of the process, and for me that will always be those first words, chapters and pages of a fresh draft.


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Friday, 10 January 2020

Interview with Savy Leiser & reveiw of Sculpt Yourself



I'm delighted to welcome Savy Leiser to the blog today for an interview and my review of her book - Sculpt Yourself - here's a little about Savy:

SAVY is a Chicago author, journalist, filmmaker, and small business owner. She's the founder of the Furever Home Friends, a series of children's books and stuffed animals based on real rescue dogs, which was named one of 2018's Top 4 Most Purposeful Startups in Chicago. She's also the author of Sculpt Yourself, a new-adult ownvoices LGBTQ+ speculative novel. SAVY first started making book trailers to advertise her own Furever Home Friends books and products, and then branched into becoming a full-on booktuber and authortuber over at the YouTube channel SAVY Writes Books. SAVY enjoys dressing like it's still the early 90s and talking to her dog like he's a human child. When she's not acting obnoxious on YouTube, she works as a music journalist and kids' creative writing teacher, and spends her spare time getting into petty arguments about Star Trek fan theories on Twitter.

And onto the interview!

In your own writing, which character of yours do you relate to most?
In Sculpt Yourself, I'd say I relate to each of the three main characters in a different way. I'm a lot like Amber because I'm loud, I love putting various sauces on my nachos, and I'm an obnoxious feminist who still loves listening to Eminem. I'm like Kelly because I love art and drawing, I do my work around my pets, and because people sometimes think I'm cooler than I actually am. Finally, I relate to Judie because I'm extroverted, I drink too much (coffee and alcohol), and I hate my body.

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

YES! I write in contemporary YA, some soft sci-fi, and children's picture books. And I love to read all of those as well!

If you had to describe your style in three words, what would they be?
That 90s Bitch.

What was the first story you ever told?

When I was four, my dog, Sam, ate a candy cane that was attached to someone's present under the Christmas tree. I thought it was so funny that I wrote a story about it and stuck it in a binder. I love having that memory because now the majority of my career is writing books about dogs-- and in one of my Furever Home Friends books, Sam makes an appearance!

Was writing always your dream choice of career?
Yes, from the very beginning. I bounced around a bit in terms of what kind of writing I'd do specifically. For most of my late teens and early 20s, I was working hard toward becoming a screenwriter. So far, though, I've found that independent films have a bigger financial barrier to entry than independent books. So I've put that goal on hold for a bit, but I'm hoping to come back to it once I'm more established.

Do you have a writing space? Pictures or descriptions!

I have a home office where I run all operations for the Furever Home Friends. It consists of two rooms: a spare bedroom that I turned into an office with my desktop computer setup (that's also where I film my authortube videos) and an adjacent dining room where I store all my book and stuffed animal stock and package up orders. In terms of where I do my writing itself, that's everywhere. I write in my office, but I also write on the couch, in my bed, on the toilet, on the bus/train, everywhere. In coffee shops, at McDonald's, on the floors of public bathrooms (well, I did that one more when I was a "quirky" teenager).

Playlists? Yes or no? And why?

Yes! Especially in my upcoming YA novel, One Final Vinyl (which will be releasing May 15, 2020!), music is a major influence in my work. I think that's because I played music for so many years. I work as a music journalist on top of writing my books, so music has remained a huge part of my life. To me, it's natural to figure out characters' emotions and bring them to life through music.

Which social media do you see as a must for writers?

Twitter! I love Twitter, even though it's a dumpster fire. I'm not sure if YouTube is a must, but I've found an amazing community there.

Where do you hang out most online?

Definitely YouTube. I love AuthorTube and BookTube, and I love making videos. Find me on the channel SAVY Writes Books!

Do you have a favourite app for writing?

Google Docs. It's helpful because I can access my writing on my desktop computer or on my phone, which is useful when I'm on the move so much.

Organised or not?

I'd say my life is organized, but my physical space is not. I'm known for eating junk food and leaving trash all throughout my office and living room. I also used to have a major hoarding problem, which I've only begun to address in recent years. It's getting a lot better. But in terms of my goals, project timelines, and to-do lists, I'm VERY organized. I use a five-year planner to break down my goals year by year and month by month. Then I use Google Calendar to break down my weekly goals and obligations. Finally, I make daily to-do lists. I'm very productive, and my time management skills are a major point of pride for me. So I guess I'd say, YES, I'm organized, even though I don't look like it from the outside!

What's your favourite book you've read?

that's way too hard, haha, i'm skipping this one ;)

Morning or evening writer?
Both -- just NOT an afternoon writer!

If you had a hashtag for your books, what would it be?
#FureverHomeFriends, #SculptYourself, #BeautyKing, #SavvyBusinessOwner


Lipamorph is a drug that lets you sculpt yourself. It's how so many female celebrities in the mid-2010s remained so thin while having such large butts. It loosens up the fat in your body, allowing you to choose your proportions. And it's just been legalized for sale in Chicago.

Amber is a 24-year-old tech support worker by day, gay feminist blogger (and bad-sitcom aficionado) by night. She's been vocal about her disapproval of Lipamorph from the beginning, seeing it as another tool to reinforce patriarchal beauty standards; but as Lipamorph becomes more common, Amber's dissenting voice starts to matter less and less.

Judie is Amber's younger sister, and seemingly her complete opposite; she loves pop music, pretty latte art, and dating men. After struggling with hating her body for most of her life, Judie has become borderline reliant on Lipamorph for self-confidence, much to Amber's dismay.

Kelly is an artist currently working for the marketing firm on the floor above Amber's office. She's whip-smart, proudly bisexual, and strikingly beautiful ... and she's the woman Amber's fallen in love with.

Told from these three women's points of view, Sculpt Yourself tackles body image, LGBT+ topics, and what it means to be a feminist in the 21st century.

My Review: 5 STARS
I picked this up having heard good things, and I was not disappointed. Told from three different points of view, the author has a way of making you feel like you're watching it play out in front of you while also keeping you invested in the story. I read it all n one sitting and adored the writing style. Amber was just how I imagined a lot of people her age are facing the situations she is, and having the additional POV of Judie and Kelly just added to the enjoyment. I adored the book,. the growth of the characters and everything else that went into it. Overall an amazing read and one that I highly recommend!

You can follow Savy on Twitter, Instagram and Youtube!

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, 7 January 2020

#TeaserTuesday


Hayley knows what she has to do, and she's not going to let anyone stop her...


COMING IN MAY 2020


[ID:
A graphic with a dust cloud and the header of Lights On, with a smaller header reading Coming May 2020. The excerpt reads:

For the past seven days, since her escape from the base on Raildown, Hayley Lightson had been on a mission. She’d always had a plan to escape, ready for the day they came for her. Her contacts had gotten her as far as the border to Evendown, and it seemed that her ruse had worked.
END ID]

Monday, 6 January 2020

Writer's Block Revisited - The Craetive Process


WRITER'S BLOCK REVISITED

This was one of the first topics I visited when I started doing advice pieces on my blog. You can find the original here. I wanted to touch on it again for a number of reasons. One being that times have changed and my whole writing process has changed along with it. When I first wrote that piece back in 2013, I wasn't as productive as I am now, I didn't have my writing process honed down to the level I do now and I wasn't writing full time either. I was busy juggling uni and still trying to get books written.

Another reason is that since I've grown as a writer and become more confident in both myself and my abilities, I've learned ways around writer's block. I know that a lot of people will say that it exists and that there are some sure fire ways to get rid of it, but I'm just gonna say this: what works for one person may not work for another, and when you have your process in that sweet spot of planning and allotting time for your writing, you may find that writer's block becomes a thing of the past.

I'm not saying that it doesn't exist, it does, for a lot of writers, it's the bane of their creativity. But for others, not being able to write past something is a bigger sign of other problems. Like you're pantsing something and you're not really a pantser, or you're a plotter, but haven't done the level of planning you personally need. Or you've written yourself into a corner and need to brainstorm. Or you're burnt out, or you're getting hit with imposter syndrome. Any number of things.

And while I can't claim to have the sure fire answer, because as I said above, it's not a one size fits all kinda thing, I can give you some tips to try and diagnose your writer's block and work out what it actually is, and how you can work around it, through it, or avoid it all together. As always your mileage may vary and this is just what's worked for me in the past. I'm not you, you're the only one who can decide if this is something that will ultimately work for you.

#1 HOW ARE YOU FEELING?

This is a big thing for me, if I'm not feeling good, then yeah, my writing is going to be like pulling teeth. If I'm super stressed or just not well, then I'm gonna find it harder and harder to get the words on the page. It doesn't have to be something huge either, it can be a fight with a friend, or nerves about something, and it can throw you through the wringer and slow those creative juices from flowing.

#2 DO YOU KNOW WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?

I ask this simply because if you do, and you can't get the words out, then it can be a number of things. You could be too focused on making the words perfect and that's what's blocking you. Or you could be too wrapped up in other things to focus. But if you don't know what happens next and you can't think of anything, maybe this is the time to go back and work on your outline, either expanding it, or redoing it and brainstorming to see what works for your story.

#3 CORNER STUCK? REWIND

I often found times when I would write myself into a corner and then have no idea what to do next. I've since learned how not to do that, and through that I've also accepted that sometimes you have to rewind. That means cutting, but keeping, where you got stuck and starting a new direction, it might be that you get stuck again, in which case it might be better to do point two, but if not, you might find a way to use some of what you wrote in the draft at some point, which is why you shouldn't delete completely when drafting!

#4 EDITING LOOP

Another thing that I've found causes writer's block is when people start to edit before the draft is finished. I mean, I'm someone who can do that, but it's not always possible. People get so focused on making the words perfect that they find they can't move forward. All that happens there is you end up with several drafts of the first few chapters, and the rest of the book never happens. It can also be a way to kill a project because you just lose hope and passion for it after so many times writing those first few scenes.

#5 IMPOSTER SYNDROME
This is tied into point four slightly in that the idea is that when you draft, your book should be as perfect as a finished, polished book, and that's simply not the case. It can lead to you re-reading your work and thinking you're an imposter in the writing world, which is something a lot of people go through. It's not easy creating for your job, and part of being a writer is knowing that those first words in that very first draft, don't have to be perfect, but it's a hard cycle to break.

So that's where I stand on writer's block. Do you have any other tips on what to do to avoid it? How you work out what thing it is that's blocking you? Lemme know down in the comments!


P.S It's my birthday today! I'm 38!

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, 3 January 2020

Review of Ice Mermaid by MC Frank

“Darius.” It came out choking from his chapped lips, and his head jerked as he tried to look up into her face.
“What now?”
“‘S my name. Darius. Thank you.”
Of all the humans drowning around her, she had to be stuck with the one who bothered to mind his manners as he was dying. She bit back a laugh. “Well, good to know. Stay alive, Darius.”
“Death feels so warm,” he whispered, those brown eyes hooded as they looked into hers. “Didn’t know there were mermaids in heaven. Ice mermaids…So beautiful. Jewels for eyes, pearls for hair.”
Behind them, the great ship that had the words "Titanic" painted on its bow was cracking as it tilted into the freezing waters of the ocean.

Lorelei gave a frustrated sigh and tightened her hold on him.
...

Ice Mermaid is a Salt for Air novella about a mermaid who witnesses the sinking of the Titanic. It's not necessary to read it before Salt for Air in order to understand the series, but it definitely adds to it.

My Review: 5 stars
I picked this up because I adore the author's work. Having read Salt For Air, I wanted to read the novella that goes before it. The story starts with a mermaid hanging around the area where the Titanic sank, forbidden from being seen, and not too bothered with humans anyway, Lorelai is trying to keep out of their way and then  a dying man tries to save her, and everything changes. The story was beautifully written, I felt like I could feel the chill of the ice water, I adored the characters, as I always do with a MC Frank book, and the whole thing took me about thirty minutes to read, but a wonderful thirty minutes it was, leaving me wanting more. I highly recommend it!


You can follow MC Frank on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, her website, and The Book Robin Hoods.

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.