Monday 30 November 2020

Writing Every Day Revisited - The Creative Process



On the last day of NaNo, I just wanted to touch again on the subject of writing every day. I did a piece about it way way back when I was first starting out on my blog (piece found here), and now it seems prudent to come back to it, especially after the piece a few weeks ago about self-care (found here).

NaNoWriMo is an amazing challenge to get through and whether you will be ending it with your goal met, the 50K written, or not, you should still feel proud for all that you've accomplished. At the end of the day, you showed up, and wrote words that you didn't have before. There are really no losers here. Personally, I'm hoping that I managed to write my 24 chapters and 50K, but I won't know until I get there since I write these pieces in advance.

However, there is one nagging worry in the back of my head when it comes to NaNo, and it's not the level of energy expended, but the mantra that you must write every day. I know that as a spoonie, I can't do that, and I also know that a lot of people out there would, and have, found it impossible or too much pressure, and maybe they've felt that doesn't make them a "real writer", and I don't want anyone to feel like that.

Here's a not-so secret secret. I have drafted over 30 books, I have 18 published with my next two gearing up to be published in 2021. People call me prolific, and organised, and author goals, and how productive I am. I always say that it's just the fact that I get to do this full time, that the organisation and all of that is a part of my personality and just sheer luck after years of trial and error. But I don't write every day. I never have.

Why? Because I'm human, I need breaks, I need to have time in the planner to be able to say: okay today is not a writing day. I work most days sure, but the level of work depends just what needs to be done that day. I posted a weekly writing vlog on my authortube channel (found here) and I showed that I do work every day, but I don't write every single day. And you don't have to either.

I know that people think that allowances are made because I achieve so much in the time I do write, but that's just practice, and again all that trial and error and finally finding something that works for me. You don't have to be super organised, or type fast, or write fast, to be valid as a writer. You are valid so long as you write. And it doesn't have to be every single day. You can take breaks, in fact I advocate for them!

While doing something like NaNo, it can be a nice community thing to write every day and hit those 1,667 words you need, but what you need to take from it, is that routine you've created, not the idea that you need to keep going every single day because you will burn out, and it won't be pretty. I've been there, this time last year I was going hard at NaNo so that I could write 32 chapters, and I paid for it in December. And I don't want that to happen to anyone else.

So be gentle with yourself, remember you don't have to be writing every moment of down time you have, take breaks, self-care, and breathe. You're valid, you are a writer, and it's okay if you take your time. It takes as long as it takes, and that's okay.

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Friday 27 November 2020

Review of Power Up by Aella Black


Out of the frying pan into the fire…

Xander Aldrich’s life has been upended in ways he never could have imagined. Tossed in prison. Then thrown in another one. Falling for a girl he’s known his entire life. 

Well, that’s not exactly new. 

What is new is Lansing’s warden, along with the unquestionably barbaric game she’s playing. Xander has no idea what the objective is, but he has no intention of letting her win.

Though Xander still sees most of the friends he’s made behind bars, he often doesn’t see the one person he wants:  Phoebe.

She’s made friends at the new prison, and one, in particular, gets under Xander’s skin. Whether it’s due to the guy’s close proximity to her, or their increasingly close relationship, Xander has yet another reason for them to escape captivity.

Good thing he’s always up for a challenge.

Phoebe Atkinson’s ability has made her a target since she first entered the supernatural prison system. Her arrival at Lansing ensures the target on her back is now bigger.

With new inmates to contend with and a complicated new warden, Phoebe tries to find her way without the help of many of her friends. One, in particular, she misses more than the others:  Xander

They may be trapped in the same building, but she’s never felt further apart. In a place where it’s often every man for himself, not having him near is even harder.

But there’s been a void in Phoebe’s life for the past year, and it has nothing to do with Xander. 

That doesn’t mean he can’t help her try to fill it.


My Review: 5 STARS

I read the first book, and was desperate to dive into the second. From the first page, I was hooked on the story, wanting to know how Phoebe and Xander would manage. The story is engaging, enthralling and takes you along for a hell of a ride. Black has a way with words that paints a vivid picture and you don’t want to ever look away. I ended up flying through this book in one sitting, desperate to know what happened next, and leaving off with the ending, I am desperate to read book three and find out how this series ends! Overall, an amazing read and one that I recommend!

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 24 November 2020



The last thing Jessie wants to do is make things worse for Meera, but no matter what she does it seems to have the wrong effect...

[ID: A graphic with a red background and the header of Cramping Chronicles: The First Twinge and underneath the words: Coming October 13th 2020. The excerpt reads:
“I’m sorry, the last thing I wanted to do was make things harder for you,” I said, sheepishly. “Is there any chance they’ll let you stick to the study group?”
Meera glared at me. “For now, they’re buying it, but they are demanding that I stop messaging anything that’s not school related, and since we know they have access to my phone, I can’t just reach out any more,” she leaned back against the wall, sighing angrily. “You can’t just be texting me, I can’t risk this happening again! Not unless it’s actually school related.”

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



Monday 23 November 2020

Reading Revisited - The Creative Process



I've talked about this before (piece found here) but I thought that since I am now in a year where I will, most likely, read over 300 books, it was a good time to revisit the subject, talk about why reading matters as a writer, and also just discuss the ways that reading helps, and also why it's not the end of your writing career if you don't read as much as I do. So let's go through those now!


You'll have heard this talked about I'm sure, most writers start out as people who love stories and then grow up and want to write them. It's also a big thing that if you don't read, how do you know what kind of stories there are out there? But at the end of the day, reading matters because it's a way to feed your creative well. I know that everyone is born with an imagination, some great, some spectacular, some not, but at the end of it all, if you don't read as a writer, then you're doing yourself a disservice.

Reading matters for a number of reasons, it helps you learn how stories are told, helps spark those seeds of ideas and allows you to grow both as a reader, but also as a writer. You'll find yourself getting lost in other authors' worlds and from there you can find your own ideas, can see what works, what you like, what you don't and all of that. At the end of the day, you can discover these ideas from other forms of media, like film and TV, art and music, but you'll also end up finding out the hard way that if you don't read as a writer, it's harder to work out what genre, what category, who your target audience is, and what other books they may have enjoyed.

Speaking as someone who has always been an avid reader, I grew up on Enid Blyton and Roald Dahl, and Jacqueline Wilson and I lived and breathed stories, all of which helped me come into my writing shoes as a child and then later on in life. Reading has made me the writer I am today, as have writing books, but the point is, I read so much because I live for finding new things to devour. And that is a big part of how and why I tell the stories I tell.

I usually, bar the last two years, read 150 books a year, which is always a massive amount, but then this year, and last year, I found myself jumping into so many stories that I ended up having to extend my goal, and for that reason, I'm not almost at 300 books read. Does that mean that you have to be reading in the hundreds every year? No, not at all.

Everyone writes differently, and the same can be said for reading. I read, almost exclusively, on my Kindle, so that I'm able to take it with me and always have enough books to read. When I read paperbacks and such, I read so much slower because of the pain from holding the book open. That's why the Kindle has opened so many doors for me. But you don't have to be reading a hundred plus books a year to grow as an author. You can read ten, or twenty, or even smaller than that. I know some of my friends on Goodeads who go for one a month, and that's completely okay and valid.

You dictate the pace you read, but don't shoot yourself in the foot because you're not reading massive amounts, a book read is still a step forward in your writing, no matter how you consume that, be it audiobooks, or screenreaders, or ebook or paperback, the point is to read, everything else is irrelevant.

So how do you feel about the whole reading as a writer subject? Lemme know in the comments below!

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Friday 20 November 2020

Review of Reign Of Angels 1: Revelation by LG Castillo


Graduation is meant to be a new beginning. For me, it might be the end.

Sneaking off to Vegas was supposed to be fun and exciting. Nothing more than a getaway with my best friend to celebrate surviving high school.

But I can’t shake the feeling someone’s watching.

Determined to enjoy my newfound freedom, we hit the strip and meet Tristan, a wildly popular magician who’s worshipped by adoring fans.

Burned by guys like him before, I resist his advances. Yet, his smoldering blue eyes compel me, and I can’t help falling under his spell.

When the world erupts in chaos, and Tristan’s magic act turns out to be more than just an illusion, my entire life changes.

Suddenly, I’m catapulted into a world where angels walk among us, and Tristan is one of them.

Some are out to destroy us.
Some will protect us.
The real question is, which side is Tristan on?


My Review:  5 STARS

I picked this up because the whole idea of the world ending with angels appealed to me. I loved it from the first chapter, an explosive start, a thrilling ride, and then that ending almost killed me! The story was beautifully told, engaging and a rollercoaster of a ride. I loved Jo and Kareena and I adored their friendship, adored their values and the way they both responded to what happened. The world building was amazing, slipping in cultures and histories so naturally in the words. Overall an amazing read and one that I very much enjoyed! Highly recommended!

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 17 November 2020



Jessie may be new to being an empath but she's surrounded by friends who get it...

[ID: A graphic with a red background and the header of Cramping Chronicles: The First Twinge and underneath the words: Coming October 13th 2020. The excerpt reads:
How did you find out? R x.
Gray, take it away! J x.
Jessie was seeing things in my life when I was going through some stuff. The first time it was my grandfather dying. She knew about it but she also saw scenes that I didn't know about. When it happened the second time, well I didn't tell her I just waited to see if she'd know. And she did. That's when we worked out it was people she cared about. G x.
So before now it's just been Gray? R x.
Yeah, and my parents. My mum gets migraines and those always lay me out. J x.
Then why Meera? R x.

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



Monday 16 November 2020

Working With Editors - The After Process



Over the years of writing, I have worked with a handful of editors, and while I have done pieces on the editing process before (found here, here and here) I thought that I would talk to you a little today about what it's like to work with an editor. A lot of people will tell you about the types of editors, and what they do, but they don't go into too much detail of what that editing relationship is like, and since I've been with the same editors for long periods, it felt like I could give you that insider look.

For the purpose of the piece, I'm gonna be talking about working with Kim (developmental/content editor), B (line editor), and Natalie (proofreader) just so that everyone knows who's who. I might also talk about Toni (former line and content editor) but since I haven't worked with her for a number of years, I probably will focus more on my current line up.

The big thing people tell you when looking for an editor is to make sure you click, and the reason for this is that during that editing process, you're gonna be working with them a whole lot. And if you don't get on, if you clash personality wise, then you're in for a not nice time, and that's never fun. The editing process itself is already difficult to go through, without adding in personal issues as well.

Working with Kim has been a lot of trial and error when we first started working together. To begin with we used Word, she would take the book and make corrections in comments and then send it back to me when she was done, or in big chunks. This worked somewhat, but it meant that if there were, what we call cascading failures, it would be a headache for the both of us.

Now we use Google docs and we'll go through chapter by chapter and make the changes. She'll change grammar and such like that without needing to mark it, because I trust her grasp and style. If it's content stuff, she'll mark it and then I'll make the changes, mark it and she'll either call it done, or we might end up discussing ways to make it work better. At the end of the day, it's my book, so I get final say, and if these changes have a knock on effect over the remainder of the document then I'll go through and try and catch and make all those changes so that it makes things smoother.

Kim and I have been friends for over ten years, and she and I, usually, share a vision for how the book should go. At the end of the day, it's down to me to say whether this change is gonna stay in the book or now. Working with her over the past five books or so using Google docs has been easier than using a word document and because of that, it's the same way I go through edits with B and Natalie because it's just so much easier to have it all in one place.

B and I have been friends for over twenty years and she's pretty good at knowing how the story should go, and also pointing out anything that might've been missed by Kim and I. As a line editor, she's gonna get nit-picky about some of the phrasing and such. That's literally her job, going through things on a line by line basis and deciding if it matches the story, the voice and so on. Like with Kim, I can discuss changes with her without having to use the chat function, and it means that the process goes a lot quicker and is a lot smoother.

And finally Natalie and I have been working together for a number of books, I actually forget how many, maybe ten? Anyway, unlike B and Kim, she can't make changes to the document itself, she has to mark everything and I'll go and make the changes. This is simply so that I can make sure that formatting and such stay the same since it's the final check before it goes out to ARC readers and gets published.

I've made no secret of the fact that I am not fond of the editing process, but it's nothing to do with the people I work with, and everything to do with the process itself, but working with these three does make it slightly easier because at the end of the day we have a shared goal, and we're all working hard to get the book to the point where it can be published.

Do you have any questions about working with editors? Lemme know in the comments below!

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Friday 13 November 2020

Review of Lock Down by Aella Black


My superpower? I can't die. You can imagine how much it hurts when they test that out...

Phoebe Atkinson has always felt different, but in the typical angsty way most teenagers do. She had no idea just how different until that fateful day she died—and then came back to life.

It appears that sort of thing is frowned upon, because Phoebe awakens to find herself locked up in Leavenworth, a notorious prison that now holds teens with supernatural abilities.

Behind bars, some are welcoming and others are… not. One group in particular seems determined to make the lives of Phoebe and her new friends as miserable as possible.

Although Phoebe’s life before being imprisoned was far from perfect, she wants it back. And she will… if they don’t find a way to kill her first.

Regardless, she’s no longer going to stand by and be the rule-follower she’s always been.

Look where that got her.


My Review: 5 STARS

I picked this up because the cover and blurb called out to me. The idea of a superpower where you can’t die, and then being forced to stay locked up and segregated from her friends, family and anyone else who doesn’t want to study her for the science. The story pulled me in from the first word, the first chapter, and I flew through the book before diving into book two. Black has a way with words that makes you hooked on the story and everything else disappears into the background. I would’ve finished this in one sitting had there not been silly things like sleep that needed to happen. Very much recommend and will be following this series to the end!

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 10 November 2020



The things Jessie sees tell her she has to help Meera...

[ID: A graphic with a red background and the header of Cramping Chronicles: The First Twinge and underneath the words: Coming October 13th 2020. The excerpt reads:
“Sai, they're threatening our daughter! You’ve no choice. If you don't do this, then Meera will pay the price,” the woman pleaded. “You can't go to the police, but you can't risk our child, Sai! Listen to reason please!”
“And what happens to Meera when her father is arrested? What happens to you? What happens to us?” Sai said.

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



Monday 9 November 2020

Why Self-Care Matters As A Writer - The Creative Process



With it now being the second week of November and NaNoWriMo is now upon us, I wanted to talk today about why self-care matters, especially now because we're all working towards some massive goal that long term wise, isn't usually sustainable nor what the majority of participants are doing every month. Personally I am aiming for 24 chapters, and knowing that I will, most likely, hit that target at some point during the month of 50K words.

Let's talk a little about 2020, and why it's been a pretty tough year, I know people are sick of hearing that, but it's honestly the truth. We have the wildfires in Australia and the US, we have the global pandemic and the mess up of how certain governments are handling it, and we're, some of us anyway, still in lockdown. Here in the UK, the area that I live in is not yet in lockdown, but as someone who's extremely vulnerable to the virus, I'm planning to spend the next few months as we ride out the second wave, inside and only leaving for emergencies or things that can't be avoided, like Mepo and my port flush.

This wasn't a chance for me to whine at you, but to simply say that when you take NaNo AND 2020 and bundle them up together, it's no surprise that a lot of writers are gonna need some time to relax and recharged their creative well. And that's why I'm writing this piece because too many times you'll hear about writing every day during NaNo, about hitting that 1,667 words that you need to finish on time, and while it's a challenge and I might just not be taking it in the spirits it's intended, I did feel like I needed to make a post that talked about self-care and why it is so so very important to engage in some as both a creative person and a human.

I'm not going to give you ideas for self-care, everyone is different and as someone who wheels more than they walk, my version of what works for me won't necessarily be something most people are wanting or able to do. So no tips on the activity itself, but the reasons why you need to take a moment to breath and just allow some time for yourself to recharge.

It took me a long time to get to the point [pause while Miss Tortellini chases her tail on my shoulder, it's cute!] Anyway, it took me a long time to get to the point where I understood self-care. It wasn't that I'm an idiot or that I didn't think I should, it was more than a lot of what people said about self-care was just the activities they engaged in and my first thought was: well I can't do that, so maybe it's not for me. So I'm telling you this so you know, it is for you! You find a way to recharge because all humans need a break and there's no shame in taking that break. Whatever that activity might be, it allows your brain to shut off from creating and recharge and no matter who you hard, you need that!


I've talking about burnout recently (piece found here) and I'll be honest, last NaNo I went full hog and ended up writing 32 chapters and over 80K words, and I was really proud of myself, but then I got to December 1st and I knew I was on the path to burn out if I tried to do my usual (at the time) 24 chapters in a month. So I cut back, and have stayed, bar once in May and of course this November, at 20 chapters. I don't think I'll go back to 24 regularly because I find it easier to take time off, I spend less time anxious and worked up, and my chapters come to me with less stress, so why do that to myself?

If you don't take time off, you will burn yourself out. You don't have to do less like I do, but you do need to take those breaks so that you can be sure that you're gonna stay creative and get through your work at the speed you want.

And finally, #3 IT'S ACTUALLY FUN
Like I said above, it took my a long time to get to the point where I understood self-care. I thought it was doing certain activities as described by various people I didn't know. None of them were ones I either wanted to do, or could do, and so it felt like I wasn't ever going to get to the point where I was happy doing it. But when I had that lightbulb moment that I could do things that I chose for self-care, I found it to be a lot of fun. Like going for a wheel to the park (obviously not through COVID times) or playing a game on my phone, or chatting with a friend, or reading a book and all of that, these were things I enjoyed and would happily do.

So if you don't find it fun, maybe you haven't found the right activity for you, just keep trying new things, and allow yourself the room to breathe, relax and enjoy yourself!

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Friday 6 November 2020

Review of He Called Me Beautiful by Annabeth Chatwin


Tyler: It’s 1998. Matthew Shepard was just murdered. I’m a skinny skater boy and low in the high school food chain already— no way am I coming out. But at a masked Halloween party, the cutest guy in school (and the only one who’s out) doesn’t recognize me. We dance together and he kisses me before I bolt. Now he’s desperate to discover who I am. If he does, he and his preppy friends hate me so much he’ll freak.

I want to tell him the truth, but I can’t.

Sutton: It’s 1998. Will & Grace is on TV, Ellen’s come out, and I’m the token gay prep everyone loves as long as I wear the right clothes and hate the right people. A mystery boy kisses me at my Halloween party, and I need to find him. My friends worry he might be a loser. I don’t care if he is. When I tell them that, they flip out… and suddenly the cool gay kid isn’t so cool anymore.

I have to find this guy, if only so I’m not alone.


My Review: 5 STARS 

I picked this up because the blurb and titled called to me, the idea of a glimpse into the past with two young boys, both from different backgrounds falling in love. Sutton is out, Tyler isn’t, and the story just flowed on the page. I was rooting for them both, hoping that they’d find each other and end up living happily. The story was told beautifully, with just enough of that romantic suspense and tension, and I adored the characters and the story. A quick read, and one that I would recommend.

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 3 November 2020



 Trying to help Meera is hard when she won't let Jessie help...

[ID: A graphic with a red background and the header of Cramping Chronicles: The First Twinge and underneath the words: Coming October 13th 2020. The excerpt reads:
This had to be my worst idea ever. Yes, I needed to keep working on a way to solve Meera's family problems, that wasn't the bad idea. The bad idea had been listening to Gray, and not thinking more about how to approach the subject. Now I stood the chance of losing the only two friends I had at this school, along with having to put up with Miss Trigger Point.
At the bottom is Joey Paul, her website of and the logo of a green and purple bug in the far right corner.



Monday 2 November 2020

The Trials Of An Indie Author: Taking Care Of Yourself



Last week I did a piece about deadlines and being a spoonie writer (found here), and a lot of it was about self-care when it comes to dealing with a deadline and trying not to freak out. This week I thought that it would be a good idea to kinda continue that idea, but have the scope be as an indie author. For those not aware, I've been published for 15 years as an indie author, I have several chronic conditions and am disabled, a full-time wheelchair user, and also need supplemental oxygen. Oh, and I've published 18 books! So I feel like when it comes to this topic, I'm a little bit of an expert, maybe not expert, I hesitate to call myself an expert at anything, but let's say that I have a lot of experience in the area.

When I talk about self-care, I have to admit that I wasn't, in the start of my career, any good at it. I pushed myself to breaking point time and time again, and got the point where I just didn't want to write, didn't want to publish, was just sick to death of the whole thing. It took me a long time to come back from that, to be at a point where I could finally enjoy writing and wanted to do it again.

I've talked a little bit about burnout before (piece found here), but what I wanted to do today is not just educate you on it, but also show you ways that you can take care of yourself, because as an indie author, usually, you're wearing a lot of hats. You're the big boss, the one in charge, and everyone that works with you and for you is looking to you to pay them, instruct them, and make sure the whole process works smoothly. And sometimes that's a lot of pressure to have on any one person.

So self-care can take many different forms. I use chatting with friends, or reading a book or two, or even playing games on my phone. In times when there's not a plague outside, I'll go out for a wheel, or hunt for a geocache or two. It's all such a subjective personal thing that someone telling you what they do for self-care and how you should do the exact same thing is only going to lead to frustration.

For example, I find it hard to binge a Netflix show because usually when I'm at my lowest energy wise, I can't concentrate enough to follow along with it. Does that mean it's not a self-care for me at other times? No, I do binge from time to time, but it's not my go-to. Yoga, long walks, all of those forms of exercise are also something I just can't do. The majority of the time I'm unable to walk more than a few steps, so trying out running or yoga is just not gonna cut it for me.

But you do need to find something that works for you, something that helps lessen your load, and helps you start to chill out and come down from all the stress on you shoulders. With NaNoWriMo upon us, we all need to remember that the most important thing of all of this, is to breathe, take a moment, and make sure you don't end up burning out. The last thing you want is to push yourself so hard that by the time December comes, you're a husk of who you normally are, and you don't want to even look at what you wrote during NaNo.

So breathe, take a moment, and look after you, that's the important thing to remember. And if you have any self-care go tos, lemme know in the comments!

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