Monday, 17 February 2020

The Trials Of A Crime Writer: Retaining The Mystery


When I was a kid, one thing that drew me to crime books was that there was always this hint of mystery around them. There were always clues in the text, but a lot of the time, it wasn't something you picked up on until you knew the whole story. They needed the right context to make you jump to that conclusion. Having almost written thirty books, with a lot of them staying in the crime/mystery genre, it something that I've prided myself on being able to do well.

But how do you do that? How do you know if you've foreshadowing enough, and not just dumping huge clues that's going to have people aware of the villain way before you're ready for them to? I'm glad you asked, because I'm gonna give you my tips on how to retain the mystery when it comes to writing crime novels.

It doesn't have to be a killer, can just be a garden variety bad guy, but with mystery books, it's usually a killer. I'm not someone who really plans out my books, as you'll have heard me talk about, I'm a planster in that I do minimal planning and will, mostly, fly by the seat of my pants when it comes to that first draft. However, I do, generally, have some idea who the bad guy is gonna be, why they're committing the crime and how they plan to go about making sure that no one catches them. I do this because it helps to them be able to drop in little clues when it comes to foreshadowing. You want to know, if you can, in advance, because it's easier then to know what to say when writing scenes with that character or just with the main people investigating.

I want to empathise the small here. You can't be having a stalker who is the only one who has access to the main character, because that's pretty damn obvious, and while you can write it that way if the main character takes a while to work it out, they do seem pretty oblivious if they don't make the connection, given that the stalker is the only one able to do these things. You want to sprinkle rather than dump, because this way you can have little clues here and there, and know that the majority of the time, the reader won't think anything of it until they have the full story and the context within it.

These basically refer to having someone else seem like they're the baddie and then it all turning out to be someone else entirely. This can be done well. You can have readers thinking they're sure it's so-and-so and having all these reasons why, but then when the big reveal comes, they're completely surprised. I did this a lot in my novels, where I've had people set up to completely be obviously the bad guy and then they're actually just not, and it's a great way to build the suspense, especially if we're following the main character as they try to solve this crime.

I left this one until last because like I said above, I'm not a huge planner, but I am someone who likes to edit as I go, meaning that if something massive changes and I'm not solid on how the foreshadowing and clues are going, I will go back through my draft and change things here and there to make sure it all flows to the right person, along with the scapegoat I've slipped in there along the way.

Now if you do plan, then that's something that you can do in the planning stages. It means that you can make sure that your book follows the right structure, that you've hit all the beats along the way and that it will all come nicely together in a cohesive way. I do want to add a caveat here, if it doesn't work out, there's always revisions and the plus side of those is that you know the story backwards and forwards now, so you know what needs to be where. So don't lose hope if you're not a planner, or someone who's not managed to get it right in that first draft, revisions save you every time.

So there we have it, my four tips on retaining the mystery when it comes to writing a crime or mystery novel. I would love to hear your thoughts on any tips you might have, and please do let me know in the comments! It's always good to get new tips along the way, no matter where you are on your writing journey!

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

Sunday, 16 February 2020

Author Tag: New Years Writing Tag [CC]


Fireworks: The colorful explosion is a sign of celebration. What character has the most cause to celebrate in your world?
Auld Lang Syne: The song we still really don’t know how to sing from but it means “long days gone by.” What is an important memory for your characters?
Good Luck: There are traditions all over the world for welcoming in good luck in the new year.  What are symbols of good luck in your WIP OR who has the best luck in your WIP?
Black eyed Peas: A traditional dish to bring new year prosperity in the American South—what is a unique food in your WIP?
Noisemaker: It’s not New Years without making some noise! Who is your character that cannot be silenced?
Confetti: Throw some joy around! Confetti makes the scene! What is your favorite setting in your WIP?
Toast: Give yourself a toast! What are you most proud of in your writing?
Resolution: The New Year is the time to make new goals! What are your goals for the new year?




Friday, 14 February 2020

Review of Death Warden by CJ Stilling

A teenage assassin. An impossible choice. The fate of everything hangs in the balance…

Sixteen-year-old Reen swore she’d never take another life. Divinely selected to assassinate a few in order to save many, she learned to jump from shadow to shadow and claim her victims without question… until she was ordered to kill the boy she loved. But when an ancient plague returns threatening to infect everyone she knows, she is forced to resume her deadly duties.

Battling a disease that turns people into nightmarish monsters, Reen must track down and terminate those responsible before the city falls, and the evil spreads beyond its borders. But the closer she gets to the source, the more she uncovers sinister secrets that will shake the foundations of her world and everything she believes.

Can Reen defend her realm without losing her soul? 


My Review: 5 STARS
I picked this up because of both the cover and the blurb. I went into it knowing that it would be an interesting read and I wasn't disappointed. Reen was an amazing character and as the story moved from past to present, you got a very rounded view of what had brought her to that point in her life. Chosen to be a death warden, forced to kill even though she doesn't want to, Reen is given a choice when she finally finds a way to end the visions, a tale of life, loss, love and more, and an overwhelmingly brilliantly crafted story. I very much recommend it!

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.

Wednesday, 12 February 2020

Award Announcement!

Lights Out was among the 25 titles chosen by In The Margins for their 2020 Fiction Titles

You can see the other titles chosen here.

I am beyond honoured and proud of my work!

Tuesday, 11 February 2020


Lock and Lana can never agree on the events, but the least Lana could is not ask Lock to lie for her....

A graphic with a fading lightbulb, the header reads: LIGHTS OUT, with a small header underneath reading: out now in paperback & ebook. To the right of those is a New Apple award seal. The excerpt reads:

She whipped her head round to glare at me. “Wow, that’s your advice? Suck it up? You realise why I don’t like these things, don’t you?”
I resisted the urge to roll my eyes. How long was she going to beat this horse?
“I know, you don’t like to watch them, you don’t agree with them, but Lana, it’s your job. It’s not like this is a new thing, you knew it was part of the job when you were hired, so it’s not like it’s some new thing that’s been sprung on you. I get it, you think everyone should die of old age, but that’s just not how the world works! You want to find the answer to how we achieve that without all starving to death, you’re more than welcome to try, but I can’t cover for you when it’s something like this. You know that, and you know that Chris is more than aware that I’m lying to him. I hate lying!”


Monday, 10 February 2020

Building Your Audience - The After Process


This is something that I've talked about in other pieces, about growing your social media platforms (found here, and here), and while I could do another piece about this, it feels like the wrong thing to do. Today I'm gonna be talking about not just your platform growth, but actually building a reading audience, and all my tips that I can give you to manage that.

An author platform, for those who aren't aware, is basically a social media, website, blog, etc, presence that shows people where to find you and interact with you, and learn more about your works. A reading audience can be those same people, but it's also about getting people who don't yet know who you are, interested in your works. It's something where I'm still learning, so I am not going to claim to be an expert on this. I am going to say that after fourteen years in publishing on the self-published/indie side of things, I have picked up a few things that help you along the way.

So what are those things? And how can you get them to work for you? Glad you asked, because I'm going to share them with you now!

This might seem like an obvious point. After all, why would you promote a fantasy book with no romantic sub-plot to romance readers, right? That part is obvious, but I'd also want to point out that sometimes it's not as easy to know your genre, or the sub-categories of that genre that your book falls into. Ideally you want at least two when you're promoting, so like with the Dying Thoughts series, it was both paranormal, and mystery/crime. Therefore I promote it to people who love both of those genres.

However, when it comes to choosing a genre, you'll be aware that there are some overlaps. For example, my upcoming new release, Cramping Chronicles: The First Twinge could fall into paranormal OR urban fantasy. Because it's a series, I've decided to look at the overarching plot rather than the books one by one for the MAIN genre, and in this case it slots into Urban Fantasy. Now you can have sub-genres, and they are useful when you're promoting, but for the point of this piece, I would say stick to your MAIN genre(s). You want to be sure that you're reaching out to the right people to read your work, otherwise everyone is just gonna be disappointed and that won't reflect well on you.

I know that this sounds like another obvious one, because again, why would you promote a Middle-Grade or Young Adult book to adults? Or vice versa? It's true that a lot of the readers of YA are adults, but the idea isn't to market to them, because while they may buy and enjoy your book, they're not the target audience. If you want to write books for adults, then you need to be making sure you do that.

It's pretty simple to work out the intended audience when it comes to age-range. MG is between 10 and 13, YA between 13 and up to 25 in some places, and adult is over 18. However, there are some cross-overs and even then it's better to know which audience you are trying to reach to make sure that your marketing is hitting the right spots. If you're writing YA, then you're going to want to target social media that most young adults use, like Twitter, Tumblr, and Instagram. You want to make sure that libraries are aware, and able, to stock your books should someone request it. All of this goes into building your audience, so be sure of who you're trying to attract to your works.

I know you've heard this. Hell, it's something that a lot of people talk about, but it's also true. Reviews are the best way for you to spread the word either by people seeing them on Bookstagram, or seeing a Tweet about your book, if there's a review attached then people are able to judge whether it's something they might enjoy. Reviews help readers decide, and they help authors build their audience, so if you have the chance to contact reviewers, be they bloggers, or bookstagramers or just other authors who do reviews, then take advantage of it. This is a big way that you can build your audience, and just be aware that not all the reviews will be 5 star and that's okay. Liking something is subjective, and one reader might choose to read your book because of the reasons another reviewer listed for why they didn't like it!

And finally, #4. EVENTS HELP
I know that it's not always possibly for people to attend in-person events. Whether it's a case of time, money or just not being in the right part of the world, I get that. I will say that these kinds of events don't always have to be in-person, there are Facebook groups that will hold takeovers, there are ways to go live and read a part of your book, or just chat with the people there. All of these work. And they can be a big way to build your audience.

As far as in-person events go, those are awesome. They don't have to be massive multi-author signings, they can be doing a talk at a school, or a library, or a signing at a local book store. All of these are ways to get your face in front of readers and have them be interested in talking to you, and getting to know more about your books. I've done four multi-author signings and they've always been great! I've also been asked to go to secondary schools and talk about being an author, and those have gone amazing too. It's all about putting yourself out there and seeing people.

So there we have it, my four tips on building your audience. If you have any tips for people, then please do lemme know in the comments, and share them with us all!

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, 7 February 2020

Review of Slated by Christina Lanier

A young girl's life is turned upside down when a research experiment throws the world into apocalyptic turmoil. Separated from their parents, Hannah, along with her two younger sisters, must brave Earth's transformed population in an effort to reunite their family. With danger at every turn, survival becomes her sole focus. Struggling to determine whether each person she meets is good or evil, she must also discover how she herself has been slated.

My Review: 5 STARS
I picked this up thinking it would be an interesting read and I wasn't disappointed. It started off with everyday life and then the action kicked in pretty quick. I was tugged along on Hannah's journey, on the sacrifices she made, on the twists and turns of the plot, her emotions was so raw and real that you couldn't help but feel the same. Overall an amazing read, and one I'd recommend. I'd be interested in more by this author!

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, 4 February 2020


Lana doesn't want to accept that it's over, and she'll stop at nothing to get Lock back...

#LightsOn Coming May 2020

[ID: A graphic with a smoky grey background and the header of: Lights On, with a small header underneath that reads: Coming May 2020. The excerpt reads:

Lana rolled over and switched off her alarm, glancing at the space next to her. Empty. It was still strange to wake up and Lock not be there. Of course, that would change. Lock would realise what she’d given up, and she would come back. She had to.

At the bottom is Joey Paul, her website of and the logo of a green and purple bug in the far right corner.


Monday, 3 February 2020

Inspiration: How Does It Work? - The Creative Process


I wrote a piece about inspiration, but it was a very long time ago, I think like 2013, (piece found here) and I felt like it was a good idea to revisit the subject. I know that it's something that I get asked a lot when I do questions from readers, though I usually direct them to my blog because as I said, I've talked about it before. But every writer works differently, so I thought it would be a good idea for me to explain how inspiration works for me, what steps I go through and how I get a finished draft at the end of the process.

Usually this will be something that hits me right at the wrong time. I'll be mid-draft of another book, and then get hit with something that I really want to write right now. If that's the case I'll thought dump into a document and leave it to brew for a while. If I'm super passionate about the idea, then it'll get moved up the list for what I write next. At the moment I have about six projects that are vying for my attention and I've not yet decided what two to work on next.


As I've talked about before, I don't do much planning. I will write a chapter plan and on it has very few points that I'm planning to include. My chapter plan is more to keep track of words, the timeline, and the pages the chapters take up. I will also do character cards for the main characters and some secondary ones that I'm already aware of. This doesn't take me long, usually a few hours and from there I can move onto the next step!


This obviously takes the most time, several months actually, and during this time the inspiration waxes and wanes. I will usually write in blocks of four days, a chapter a day and work myself through both of my current projects. I don't write every day simply because I can't push myself to write all day every day. Sure it'd be nice to get more done, but I also have a life outside of writing. I have things to do for my author platform, and they all take time.

On top of that, I do love the drafting phase of a project (piece found here) and it's something that I very much enjoy, so I will take my time through the process, editing as I go to make sure the draft is as clean as it can be once I'm done.

I included this step simply because in a piece about inspiration, you need to include the fact that sometimes, that inspiration flitters away and there's really not much you can do about it. So what do I do when I lose inspiration for a project? I keep going, which sounds like a glib, but it's a hard lesson to learn whether you're a new writer or an older one, there will be some projects that you find you don't want to continue once that inspiration goes, but there will be others that spark joy and you want to continue even without that illustrious inspiration, and what you have to do is keep going, finding new and different ways to keep writing the story that you're wanting to write. I did a piece recently about writer's block which you can find here.


The end of all these steps is that I finally reach the end of the draft. When I do that, I'll put it to one side before I start editing. I've talked about my editing process before, but it might be something that I revisit this year. I have an older piece here. I do celebrate writing the final words, usually a nice treat!

So how do you deal with inspiration? Do you find it influences what you write? Lemme know down 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