Tuesday, 31 August 2021

#TeaserTuesday

 

Tally has no idea what happened to her, but she's going to find out...

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

 [ID: A dark blue background with the title BLACKOUT at the top and Out now in ebook and paperback just below it. The except reads:

“She could be suffering from amnesia,” one doctor said. Well done, mate, I’m no doctor and I could have told you that!
“Okay. Any ideas as to which type?” There are types of amnesia? I never knew that.
“Hysterical,” another doctor said. Did he think this was funny or something?
“And this means?”
“That the patient has suffered such a traumatic experience that brain has blocked the experience from her. It is viewed, by some, as a psychosomatic form of amnesia. She may or may not remember what happened to her after time.”
Huh? I’d prepared myself for rounds I’ve watched ER, but hysterical amnesia?! Psychosomatic? Are they saying I’m going mad?

At the bottom is Joey Paul and just below that the website www.joeypaulonline.com, in the bottom left corner is a Readers' Favorite 5 star review seal, and in the bottom right corner is the logo for Bug Books. END ID]

 

Monday, 30 August 2021

Beta & Alpha Readers - The After Process

BETA & ALPHA READERS

I've talked about beta readers before, but that was a very long time ago, and I wanted to delve into the topic again with fresh eyes. So you've written a book, and whether you're going the traditional route or the indie route, you're going to want to have some feedback after revision, or before, or whatnot, and you're going to want it to be people whose opinions you can trust. This is where beta and alpha readers come in.

A lot of the time, people in the indie space only really talk about beta readers, or critique partners, and while an alpha reader can be a CP, there is a difference between the alpha and beta kind. As the names kinda suggest, the alpha reader comes first, and the beta readers will come after, but what's the difference between the two? Glad you asked because I'm gonna give you a beak down!

ALPHA READERS
-> These are usually someone close to the writer, a loved one, a partner, a good friend, who reads the book as it's being written, before it's finished and before any kind of revision has been done. This is where it has some similarities with the CP because they'll do the same, but an alpha reader isn't always another writer. It might just be someone who wants to support the author, and/or likes the kind of fiction they're writing.

-> While, because of the closeness to the writer, you can't always assume that their feedback will be as honest as it needs to be, it's a perfectly valid way of sharing your work before you start to revise it. I've used both alpha and CP's at this stage, and while I don't use alpha's anymore, they can be useful for getting that initial impact of where the story is going. Remember that as a planster it can be a way for me to pick up on any themes or threads that I've missed, giving me a chance to make notes for revisions later down the line.

-> Alpha readers are not considered a necessary part of the publishing process. Unlike CPs, they're not really something that every single writer does, but that doesn't mean that you can't use them. If you're just starting out as a writer or an author, it can be a way to work out if you're going in the right direction. While I wouldn't recommend you use them instead of a CP or betas, they can be used in conjunction with them, and it's a great way to share the buzz with your friends and family.

BETA READERS
-> Beta readers are readers within your target audience who read the work after completion and some revision, and offer feedback on the work itself. They can point out things like typos, but their main concentration is on whether the pacing works, that the story flows, any plot holes and the like that they've picked up on. There are usually a wide circle of betas, and you usually go through more than one round with them, using different betas each time to make sure you get a clear picture of what needs work and any changes made.

-> They are usually recruited by the author, whether that's other writers, or friends and family, is up to the author, but the main difference here is that there are many of them. Their feedback will allow the author to go back and make changes before going into a new round, with new betas, and seeing if the fixes make things work. Their feedback, because they're removed from the author, is usually a lot more honest, and genuine critique. While you might get the odd one or two who don't want to say anything bad, they're not always that helpful when you're asking for what doesn't work.

-> Beta readers are, usually, readers first and while you may, as I said, get some who are also writers, the distinction is that they are readers of that genre and category and have read other works, know the tropes and the like and approach the matter as a reader and not as a writer.

-> Betas are, depending on who you ask, considered a necessary part of the publishing process, especially if you're indie. They are the people who'll you go to before you start the professional edit. The process of going through round after round varies from book to book, but it's very much something that's needed along the way.

So there we go, the differences between beta and alpha readers. Like I said, I've used both, but I generally use CPs now rather than alpha readers, and I do, personally, think the beta reading process is necessary before the professional edit.

What are you thoughts? Lemme know in the comments below! 

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

Friday, 27 August 2021

Review of In It Together by Emily Bourne

 Unforgivable regrets. Unity over isolation. Can two sisters undo the mistakes of the past and finally find happiness?

Studying at university and excluding herself from the social scene, Brittany lacks meaning in her life. Will her struggle to choose a path cause her to surrender to the mental torture in her head?

Globetrotting and casually dating, Charli soaks up life experience. But when the isolation she cocooned herself in causes past trauma to resurface, can she resist the urge to medicate with self-destructive habits?

Desperate to unite, and burying years of hostility, can they remain loyal to their sisterhood? Pledging to fight their inner demons together, can the sisters find peace and their true paths to happiness? 

Amazon

My Review: 5 STARS

I picked this up having read the first two books and desperate to know more in the story. I adored the way the characters were coming into themselves, starting to grow and become the people they are at the end of the book. Brittany and Charli have been through so much and for the next chapter of their lives it’s going to be amazing and I can’t wait to read more. Bourne has a way with words, a way of weaving the emotions, the beats and the plot all together. An author to watch and a series that I highly 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.

Monday, 23 August 2021

Planning Your Time - The Creative Process

PLANNING YOUR TIME

If you ask a lot of my friends, they'll tell you that I'm organised. I have a set plan for when I do things, and I, generally, stick to it bar any major setbacks. I have my planner, and before that I had sticky notes, and I would make sure that I knew what I was supposed to be doing and when. I would fairly agree with that sentiment, I have always been someone who likes to plan things out, except when it comes to planning novels, on that I lean more the other way.

So many people have asked how I got into planning my time, and for me it was a little bit of luck, a little bit of boredom, and a little bit of just finding a new program on my computer that I could use for fun. I'd always admired people who did lovely spreads in a bullet journal, but that was never going to be me. I needed some kind of setup for me to manage things in a planner. Of course then I found the perfect planner for me, and from there it kinda all snowballed.

But way back when, I started small, it's something I've talked about before, people always think you can jumpstart with a full spread of what you're doing and when, and I've found that is so not the case! I started off with a to-do list, and it would be for the week. I would lay out all that I needed to get done, and then go from there as to when it would get done. At the time I was still getting my degree so that was always priority number one. Writing kinda fell by the wayside.

Of course, then when I finished my degree, I kinda drifted through writing stuff. Some weeks I'd get everything done, some weeks I'd get nothing done. This was a mixture of being lazy, and also because I didn't have the structure that I needed. I would have all these things, but I didn't have a writing routine, and it was mostly, a when I feel like it kinda thing. If you haven't guessed, I'm not really that kind of person. The weekly to-do became fortnightly, then monthly, and then I started to get serious with myself. I found sticky notes and I told myself that I would work out on what days I would do what.

My point isn't to say that you have to be strict with yourself, you know your life better, you know how your minds works best, but for me, that was the only way I was going to get everything done. I still use a monthly to-do list, but whereas before it would have four chapters for each book and two bonus ones, now it's at six for each book and four bonus ones. I increased it gradually when I realised that I was exceeding my goals every single month without fail.

So when it comes to sitting down to make your own plan, start small. Don't overload your plate and think that you're going to be able to knock everything off your list. Unless you're someone who works extremely well under pressure, then you will fail and it'll knock you back. I did this with the weekly to-do list, I put everything on it and expected myself to go from hardly ever writing, to always writing, and it did not work like that. It took me a number of years to get to the point where I was crossing things off consistently, and there's no shame in that. If you need to start small and take your time to build up in it, that's okay, not everyone will slot into a new routine instantly.

I have friends who have started on one small portion of their life, getting that routine down, and then branching out to start on another small portion, taking it on slowly so that they can learn how to juggle it all together, and this is a great way of doing it. It allows you to work out the kinks before you start trying to do it in all areas of your life. So start small, don't bite off more than you can chew, and be ready for it to take time.

Any thoughts? Lemme know in the comments below!

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

Friday, 20 August 2021

Review of Out Of My League by Sarah Sutton

 

FAKE DATING THE CAPTAIN OF THE BASEBALL TEAM IS ALL FUN AND GAMES UNTIL SOMEONE CATCHES FEELINGS.

I’m honestly convinced my life is over when my high school cuts the journalism program. Without the elective, I lose my chance to intern at the biggest newspaper company and the county, and why?

All because the baseball team needs more funding.

To make matters worse, when my boyfriend dumps me at a party, the the captain of the baseball team and the most popular guy at Bayview High, Walsh Hunter, decides to make a spectacle of my mortification. He jumps in, throws his arm around me, and declares his undying love for me. In front of everyone.

Except I’m the only one who realizes he’s faking it.

And suddenly, I’m thrown into a world of fake relationships and undercover journalism, and way, way out of my league.

At least I’ve got the team captain to teach me how to play.

But faced with choosing between saving my journalism class or these strange new feelings for Walsh, will I strike out or hit a home run?
 

My Review: 5 STARS

I read the first book in this series and had to read the next one. I adored Sophia and Walsh, love the way they clicked together, their story, the highs and the lows. It was a rollercoaster ride of the best kind and I just adored the whole premise and the story itself. The plot was super engaging, relatable and overall amazing. I am loving seeing how Sutton had grown as a writer since that first book and will be reading the rest in the series. Highly, highly recommended to anyone who loves fake dating and a good romance!

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.

Monday, 16 August 2021

Growing As A Writer - The Creative Process

GROWING AS A WRITER

One of the biggest questions I get asked is this: how do you grow as a writer? I've talked about it on my Authortube channel (found here) and I've talked about it on the blog before, but I wanted to touch on it again, because it seems to be the big thing that people, especially writers, are always thinking about. How do you grow? And are you always growing? And how do you know you're growing? Is it quantifiable? Can you personally see it? And if you do think you are, are you really, or is your brain just tricking you?

Oh boy, all the questions, and all of them valid, because at the end of the day, isn't all art, and writing is included in that, subjective? I mean yes we have the greats, the ones that most people will sit and say: this is the best thing ever, but even then there are those who struggle to find what someone else likes about it. Writing is one of those beasts where if you keep doing it, you're probably growing as a writer. If you keep doing it, if you keep exercising that muscle, if you keep getting critique, whether through betas, or a critique partner, or through the professional edit, then you will grow.

But is it something that you can really see? Are you able to be objective enough about your work to spot anything that might show signs of growth? I did a piece on being objective a few weeks back (found here) and the short answer is: it depends. I've read some authors who with every new book, you see them grow and come along in leaps and bounds. I've read some that seem to get worse with the bigger they get, it's all subjective and I'm not about to give you a surefire answer to this question, because really, no one can.

Part of growing is learning, it's adapting, it's becoming better than you were before. For some writers this happens rapidly from day to day, for others, it takes months, or years, or many many books. I look back at Blackout, which was my d├ębut and written around 2001, and then I look at the Lights Out trilogy, and I think yeah, I have very much grown since those days. But that might not be a fair comparison because different genres and skill sets, so from Dying Thoughts - First Touch to the final book, again, I see growth, I see a marked difference in the way I approached the story, and that series took me almost 15 years to write. You would expect to see some growth over that time period, especially as I kept writing, I kept flexing that muscle.

Of course, the problem for a lot of writers is that they want quick results, or they're overly critical of what they write. That's not a bad thing, being able to see the flaws in your work is a good tool to have, and some would argue those who are more critical of what they do, are more able to see growth. The way I see it becoming a bad thing is when you can't see any good in anything you've written. When you're constantly tearing your work apart to the point where you don't even see the original story idea in there any more. That's when critical becomes destructive and becomes a detriment of the writing process.

By the same token, loving everything you write to the point where you think it's perfect and beyond reproach, is going to have the same effect. You won't see the flaws, so you won't engage in edits and the like, and because of that you won't see the parts that need work, or the parts that don't quite live up to what you have in your head. You stunt your own growth because your ego is telling you that everyone who's critical of it is just a hater and you're some perfect master of fiction.

So where do you draw the line? How do you make sure that you don't go to either of these extremes? I mean, it's easy to think, well I like some of what I write and I work on getting feedback on the parts I don't, and I keep practising so maybe I'm not the worst ever? And that's a good point. It's all about that balancing act that I've talked about before. It's about making sure that you're not buying completely into either camp. You're not tearing down and hating every word, but you're also not preciously protecting every single one either. You know there's room for improvement, there is always room for improvement, and from there, you do the work, you show up and write and edit and revise and work, and you get to the point where that growth happens. Word by word, line by line, it slowly starts to become something that has showcased your growth.

So how do you know if you're growing as a writer? You're writing, that's how. You keep going, you keep that ego in check, and also the gremlin that tells you everything is garbage too, and you just keep going. You will grow, it'll take time, but it'll happen, I guarantee it.

Any thoughts? Lemme know in the comments below!

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

Friday, 13 August 2021

Review of In The Haze by Emily Bourne

 A tragedy reunites the sisters, turning their lives upside-down. Can they claw their way out of the darkness before it consumes them?

After months away, Charli returns home. A piece of herself has died, and she yearns to rid the pain. Finding a joint presents a perfect solution. Unable to cope after a tragic accident, Charli masks her demons with drugs. Can she claw her way out of the darkness before her family finds out and disowns her for good?

Brittany has her sister back but is lonelier than ever. The accident snatched away the identity she spent a year building. Unable to recognise herself, how can she face school when her friends view her as an outcast? Even worse, what if it causes her boyfriend to dump her? If Brittany can’t salvage her reputation, will her anxiety cripple her into the nobody she fought so hard to kill?

Amazon

My Review: 5 STARS

I read the first book in the series when it came out and was desperate for a chance to pick up this book. I have adored watching Emily’s journey, watching her go from one book to the next and going along for the ride as a reader. Picking up kinda where the last book left off, this one starts with a lot of normality, or the new normal for the girls. I was hooked by the first chapter and desperate to know more, the journey was filled with twists and turns, and had me bawling and laughing at the same time. I adore Brittany and Charli and I can’t wait to see where the next book takes them. Overall, very much 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.

Monday, 9 August 2021

The Trials Of A Crime Writer: The Dark Side

THE TRIALS OF A CRIME WRITER: THE DARK SIDE

I've always been someone who likes reading about the dark side of humanity, and that's carried over into my writing. Of course you might be thinking that makes me someone who's kinda dark in reality, and that couldn't be further from the truth. I'm a pretty positive person online, and while I have a cynical side, it rarely is shown in what I write and such. But when it comes to thinking up dastardly plots for my characters to get through, then my mind does, and always has, lend itself to the darker side of fiction.

I once got told at a con that because I write young adult, I shouldn't write about dark stuff, because otherwise I would be leading them astray. It made me laugh because I have a young adult in my life, they don't need any help in seeing the dark side of life, they can see it fine without any influence from me. On top of that, I was a young adult (though it was many moons ago now) and when I first started writing, it was those kinds of stories that drew me in as a reader, so saw that it would be a good idea to do the same as a writer.

If I draw my mind back to when I first started writing Blackout, I got told that because the plot used drugs, which isn't a spoiler, don't worry, that it wouldn't be publishable because kids would go out and do the same. Again, it made me laugh because while the internet back then wasn't the beast it is now, it was easy enough to find that kind of information and I couldn't see how a work of fiction would influence this massive amount of teens to suddenly go to do the same drugs as used in the book.

Bear in mind that I had been reading young adult, as it was back then, for the majority of my teen years. I devoured books, I loved reading, and didn't just stick to YA either, I was well known at our local library and was even the kind of teen to pick up some adult crime thrillers and lose myself in those for a long while. I don't think it's something that influenced me to the point of making me want to go out and commit murder, so why would any other book do the same?

Of course, both of these examples were people who hadn't even read my books, they just didn't agree that YA should have a crime/thriller section, and while I've always embraced the dark side of fiction in my own work, it wasn't always as common place as it is now. Going back to when I was a teen, YA was fairly new, it was something that we had, but it wasn't a huge section of the library or book store, not like it is now. I would have to skip over the really young books, and try and find my little slice of heaven in the few shelves that stocked what I'd like.

When it came time for me to cross properly into adult, I was overwhelmed with how many books I had, all these genres, and all this stuff that had kinda been closed off to me before was now wide open. While I have never really ever stopped reading YA, I did, for a time, have that feeling that it was too young for me, that I was a proper grown up now. I got over that in a few months and was back to searching that area of the book shop so that I could find something new to read.

As an adult and a writer, I can't help but feel that if we try and close off that dark side of fiction, and life, from young adults, that we're doing them a disservice. After all, the world isn't all sunshine and butterflies, there will be situations they're put in that don't match up to the majority of their peers. It was authors like Jacqueline Wilson who got me through some of the darker times in my teenagehood, because she didn't shy away from any of it. She embraced it, she made it so that children could read about divorce, and abuse, and children's homes and drug use, and all of those scary things that too many people think we need to never let the kids know about.

But they already do know, some of them live it, some of them just want to know more, and some of them need to feel seen, so I will keep writing the dark side, and my readers will keep reading them. It's part of growing up, and I don't, for one moment, believe that I am contributing to their downfall. I think I'm helping them see that I see them, that they're not alone, that while some elements of my books are out of the realm of this world, other parts help them realise that being drawn to the dark side doesn't make them a bad person.

Your mileage may, of course, vary, but those are my thoughts. Do you have any? Lemme know in the comments below!

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

Friday, 6 August 2021

Review of What Are Friends For by Sarah Sutton

 

FALLING IN LOVE ISN'T COMPLICATED...UNLESS IT'S WITH YOUR BEST FRIEND.

I've got a problem.

A big one.

It involves a blindfolded kissing game at a party. I was supposed to be kissing my crush, Jeremy, the totally hot baseball player I've been crushing on. And the kiss...it's amazing. Makes me forget all about my overbearing mother, my next-door neighbor's drama, and the probability of failing my senior year.

But that's not the big problem.

The big problem is that once my blindfold falls off, I realize that heart-stopping, toe-curling, world-changing kiss wasn't with my crush.

It was with Elijah Greybeck, my best friend since the third grade.

And even once I realize it's him, why...why do I want to keep kissing him?
 

My Review: 5 STARS

I picked this up because I was in the mood for a good light hearted romance, and I wasn’t disappointed in the slightest. Having watched Sarah Sutton’s youtube for over a year, I’ve seen her grow as a writer, and wanted to delve into her books as well. Remi and Elijah were the perfect start to this series. The way they came together, the twists and turns along the way. It all just makes you feel gooey and happy about teens in love. I adored the writing style, the characters, and all of the plot twists along the way. Overall an amazing debut novel and a series that I will be continuing!

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 August 2021

#TeaserTuesday

 

Lock is standing up and doing what's asked of her...

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

 [ID: A dark forest background with the title LIGHTS OFF at the top and Out now in ebook and paperback just below it. The except reads:

“That's my point!” he said, jabbing his finger towards me. “They see you as someone who has done something! Sanna’s a name known to older people, and to the people here, she's been dead for five years!”
I swallowed down my nerves. I'd wanted an active role, but I couldn't help but think that Kit had it wrong. People would just dismiss me, I was nineteen and not from Evendown, add my obvious disability, and the people here wouldn't stand behind me, maybe back home, or in Cardown, but here? I couldn't see it working. I also couldn't see Sanna being okay with it.
“Will you do it?” he asked.
I nodded.

At the bottom is Joey Paul and just below that the website www.joeypaulonline.com and in the bottom right corner is the logo for Bug Books. END ID]

 

Monday, 2 August 2021

The Trials Of An Indie Author: Juggling Time & Money

THE TRIALS OF AN INDIE AUTHOR: JUGGLING TIME & MONEY

One thing you learn quickly as an indie author is that you have several things to keep track of, and when going into the publishing world, you have two big things in your back pocket that will help you. One is your time, like how much you can do yourself, how much time you have to dedicate to promotion and marketing, and all the like, and the other, is money. I don't really need to explain that the amount of money you have as disposable income will dictate how you do things.

So how do you work out which is which? I mean if you have a lot of disposable income, you can afford to pay for the more expensive editors, and cover design. You can afford to hire someone to format, and promote your work. And it, usually, ends up paying you back in sales. Though of course that's not a guarantee. If you're someone like me, who doesn't have a lot of spare cash, then you're going to be finding that a lot of the time, the choice is to decide what you want to spend that money on, and what you're going to attempt to do yourself. It doesn't mean that those with more money will do better sales wise, but it does have an impact on how you manage your indie author life.

I learned to juggle the two of these pretty early on. It's one of the reasons that I don't do rapid release, and why I don't just have all the books I've written already edited and out in the public. Part of that is also time, I like to spend a good chunk of time revising and perfecting those drafts and if I was pushing to do it quickly, that just wouldn't be possible. However, there's also a money aspect. I don't have the kind of money it would take to rapid release, going through edits, and covers, and all of that, for about eighteen books all at once. To be fair, I don't think many indie authors do, but mine is the rather extreme example.

There are some things that you can do yourself, and there are others that you need to put the money into, for example, I can format using a template, but I can't edit a book professionally myself, neither can I make my own covers. I have zero artistic skill and they would look terrible if I did that. On top of which, it's just not something I want to risk as far as the editing goes. I've read books that need a good editor, and they do not sit well with me. I also know that I'm not always able to see the forest for the trees, even with beta readers and the like. Sometimes I get all the way to the professional edit, and my editor will say: hey you realise this doesn't make sense? And I'm like: bugger, I missed that, and you're right. Or even she'll point out this ongoing plot point that flew over my head.

I will say that I am getting better at spotting those though, but that comes from experience, and I still wouldn't skip the professional edit, my grammar and such is appalling in my first drafts and I don't want to subject my reader's to that. So when it comes to juggling my time and money, I make sure that the things I know aren't skippable, are the ones that come first in the budget. I have some idea of how much it'll cost to do a developmental editing cycle, I can generally work it out for line edits and proof reading. I know what my cover designer charges, I know what the cost of certain perks for pre-orders cost. I know all of this, and I will factor that into the cost of publishing a book, especially if it's one that I know is upcoming.

And yet there comes the big ole marketing beast. I don't generally have a lot of funds at the end of all of that, so I rely on free, or cheaper, marketing plans. I try to use my platform to spread the word, I try to make sure that I take advantage of any offers and the like, but at the end of the day, there's only so much money I have.

Every year when it comes to a new release, I tell myself to look into the marketing packages for release build up, and every year I do, and realise I can't make it work. That's not to say that therefore that's why I'm not a big name or something, or even to invoke pity, it's to point out that when you're an indie author and the buck stops with you, you have to make some sacrifices and you have to keep juggling those balls in the air, and eventually one or two are gonna fall by the wayside. It happens, and you get better are working out which ones are falling.

So part of being an indie author is working out what matters to you, and what doesn't. You can chose to forgo a release for a year or however long it takes you to save up for that big splash, but at the end of the day, eventually the money runs out, and books are a never ending thing. You are always promoting them, you are always looking to get them in front of new readers, and that never changes. So you choose which balls are going to stay up and which ones are going to end up in the gutter for a while.

Any questions? 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