Friday 19 July 2024

Review of Why The Sparrows Cry by Hope Bolinger

Harper hates crowds and has a strong distaste for humanity in general. A summer spent in the bustling city of London was not on her bucket list—especially not tagging along behind her nagging mother.

But when a teen from the Greek Dark Ages mysteriously appears in the very crowded British Museum, Harper decides to rescue the boy who’s even more out of place—and time—than she is. With the help of her uncle, they’ll need to keep Homer away from the British authorities, evade a tomb-robbing ex-archeologist, and figure out how to get this Palikari man back to his own time before he’s captured.

As they escape near-kidnappings, terrible yogurt drinks, and Harper's mother's lectures, Harper finds herself warming up to Homer. Something that hasn't happened with anyone since the incident with her father back in Arizona.

Will she learn to love again? Or will an ex-archeologist snag the historical find of the millennium—and the only person she’s felt safe around in years?


My Review: 5 STARS

I picked this up because of the cover and blurb. It was a delightful read with mystery, intrigue, and a little bit of romance in there too. I adored Harper, she was so relatable and just so real. Homie was such an engaging character and the way things all came together at the end had me on the edge of my seat. Bolinger has a way of pulling you into her stories and making you want to live in them for as long as possible. This was a read I managed in one sitting and I adored it from start to finish. It’s definitely one that I very much 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 16 July 2024


Tara will do anything to save Mike


[ID: A waterfall background with the title DYING THOUGHTS - EIGHTH ENDING at the top and out now in ebook & paperback just below the title The except reads:

My hand went to his stomach, trying to find where he was hurt, if he was. I could see smears of blood on the knife so I knew it had hit the mark somewhere.
“Mike? Mike, hang on, help’s coming!” I said, trying to keep myself from openly crying. I reached for my bag and got my phone, ignoring the blood spots falling on the screen as I called for an ambulance.
“Tara…,” he said, softly, struggling to get the words out.
“I’m here, Mike and help’s coming.”

At the bottom is Joey Paul and just below that the website, in the top right corner is the Readers' Favorite review seal, and in the bottom right corner is the logo for Bug Books. END ID]



Monday 15 July 2024

Uncovering The Story - The After Process


As someone who has written a lot of first drafts, and someone who's also come back to those first drafts and had to change and rewrite a lot, I thought that today I would talk a little about what goes into discovering the underlying story during revisions and editing. Now I want to be clear that I do not think that you're not already aware of what story you've told. You go into drafting (as either a planner or not) knowing what story you want to tell, but sometimes that is not the only thing that ends up on the page.

For example, I went into writing the first Lights Out book with a completely different story in mind. I don't mean everything was wildly different, but I do mean that it was only going to be a standalone at the start. It wasn't until later, having written about two thirds of it, that I became aware of a deeper story buried underneath, and from that the trilogy was born.

The same can happen when you come back to revise or edit after having had some time away from your project. You're looking at it with fresh eyes and you're realising that there are maybe themes you didn't see before, or there's a subplot that you hadn't realised was there, and you can start to see the broader strokes, and also the tiny ones beneath the surface that might have passed you by while you were drafting.

It took me a long time of being a writer to be able to pick up on those finer points. While I was very aware of the plot, or the subplots and also of what story I was telling, sometimes there would be hints of something more, and then you have to make that conscious decision whether to lean into it more. One of my past editors was very good at letting me know when I'd hit a theme or a subplot that might work for the book overall and how to bring it all to the surface.

Not seeing themes doesn't mean you don't know your own work. Sometimes they are easy to see, sometimes they aren't, and other times, because you wrote the book, those themes won't have the same meaning to you as they might to a reader down the line.

So how do you go about doing it?


By this I mean things like tropes that might be subverted, or things like when a character is going through something that broadens their scope. For example in Lights Out, Lock is sure of one thing at the start, but as she grows and changes, as I uncovered more of her story, more of her sense of self, I realised that there was a theme of her standing up for what was right, no matter the consequences to her.

With Jessie, in Cramping Chronicles, there's a lot of talk about how she's not anything more than a teenager with an ability that puts her in the spotlight a lot. She has so many thoughts and feelings about what she's doing and how she does it, that she loses sight almost of all the good she does, because everything is wrapped up in pain for her.

So when it comes to your own story, search for those common themes, whether they be tropes that sound and seem like they're going to go one way, and actually go another, and lean into them. Whether that's making a character's voice stronger, or whether that's making different choices for them, it's completely up to you.


I've been told over the years that my belief that my characters have more control over where my story goes than I do, is silly because they're not real. I agree they're not real, but that doesn't mean they're not shaped into a being and because of that, because of the time you spend writing them, you start to see that they, as a person, as a well formed character, would make completely different choices maybe than the ones you planned for them to make.

For me, I've been very big on making sure my characters are as fully fleshed out as possible. The story is about them. It's about what they're going through and how they react to any given thing. So for me it matters greatly if a character is telling me they wouldn't do this thing, because that means I've done my job well.

So keep in mind how any given character would react, and if you can, let them lead you through the story and out the other side. You might find that you learn something new, and your work can be all the better for it.

So there we go, two tips to get you started. As always, good luck, and if you have 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.   

Friday 12 July 2024

Review of Smoke And Light by Kristin Ardis

A kingdom at war.
A search for missing memories.
And a tangled web of love, loss, loyalty, and lies.

After months of recovery, Khara Laveya is desperate to leave the medical wing and restore the memories she lost in a brutal rebel attack. Her responsibility to her kingdom as future Sovereigna is a looming distraction from reclaiming them.

Torn between duty and desperation, Khara is haunted by a mysterious grove that calls to her in her dreams. Finding the grove may lead to her missing memories, but venturing beyond the city walls is an act of treason. Worse, it risks another encounter with the ruthless rebel forces.

To enter the forest could mean death … or something far more sinister.

The secrets lurking in the shadows could destroy the life Khara has sacrificed so much to rebuild and unravel the kingdom itself.
My Review: 5 STARS

I picked this up even with fantasy not being a favourite of mine and this book blew me away. The missing memories, the doting partner, the whole set up was exceptionally crafted and it had me hooked from page one right through to the end. I loved Khara, loved Hayden and Ramsey and the way their characters were so very real and relatable. It was like we were there solving the mysteries along with Khara. I adored the whole book and it was an explosive start to a series that promises to leave you wanting more. 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 9 July 2024


Lock believes in what she does, no matter how much trouble it might get here into...


[ID: A dirty blue background with the title LIGHTS OUT at the top and out now in ebook, paperback & audiobook just below the title The except reads:

"You honestly don't see what they do... what you do as violence? You take the citizens of this cityship and you inject poison into their veins and stand idly by waiting for them to die. That, in our book, is murder plain and simple."
"I don't make the laws," I said, my arms sore from the iron grip of the people holding me.
"No, but you do carry them out and I bet you're one of those who fully believes in the system. For the good of the country and all that," she said, in a mocking tone.

At the bottom is Joey Paul and just below that the website, in the top left corner is the Readers' Favorite review seal, in the top right corner is the New Apple Award seal, and in the bottom right corner is the logo for Bug Books. END ID]


Monday 8 July 2024

Working With Deadlines - The Creative Process


I've been publishing for almost nineteen years now and in that time I've drafted almost fifty first drafts. I have also revised and edited over twenty of them. I'm now in the run up to my next release, and I thought that today I would talk about what it's like to work with deadlines as a writer because once you start writing, and releasing, whether that's indie or trad, you will have deadlines, and you will need to find a way that works, for you, so that you can keep going with them hanging over you.

As someone who also has several chronic conditions, and someone who doesn't handle stress all that well, I've found a lot of ways to deal with deadlines over the years. Some of them weren't particularly healthy and so I won't be passing those on, but others have helped to keep me focused, and on target and allowed me to get the work done, without sacrificing my own mental, or physical, health.


A lot of the time for me, because I have such an extensive backlog of books, I'm not dealing with drafting to a deadline, but I could see how I'd manage to do it because I am, usually, dealing with revising and editing to one. While I'm aware that I'm exceptionally lucky to be in a position where I can juggle more than one project at a time, for a lot of writers, that's not the case. They can't be doing drafting, and editing, and revising, without finding themselves getting burnt out exceptionally fast. So I'm not going to tell you that you should do that, unless it's something you're already doing and know works for you.

Instead I'm going to say that you should be clear with what you need to do, as in revise a book in time for a deadline, or do editing passes for a deadline, and so on, and make sure you have a plan of attack. Whether that's telling yourself you will do one chapter a day for x amount of days. Or whether that's making sure that you leave yourself enough time to fit in some rest days as well as days when you might need some wiggle room because things did not go to plan.

Just to be clear, there should be both the rest days (because we are human and we need downtime) AND the days to catch up if things go awry. They should not be doing the job of both in that rest days don't have to be earned, and you will need that time to recharge.


If you're someone like me who does really well with being organised, then this one is for you. I have multiple lists on my tablet of things that need to happen and how I'm going to go about doing it. As in I break down every step, and then set myself a mini deadline for when that needs to happen. This allows me to see, at a glance, where I am in the process and also what lies ahead.

Like if I know that I need to get the developmental edits done by a certain date, then I know exactly how to go about doing it, how to parcel out each part of the task, and then get my butt in my chair and get it done. Of course that can apply to any number of things, but when I have multiple deadlines, I have multiple lists, making sure that I can see what needs to happen when and how long I have left to get it done.

It's the way my mind works, but it has been a lifesaver for me more than once, just being able to quiet the anxiety in my mind and work it all out on the page so that I know I'm not going to be stressed about missing a deadline. It's been the thing that's kept me on track for a number of years, and when you find a way that works for you, you tend to use it again and again.

So there we go, those are my two top tips when it comes to deadlines. I know that for me, as an indie author, a lot of my deadlines are self-set, but that doesn't mean that they are therefore ignorable. After all, when it comes to edits and the like, it's not a deadline that impacts only me, but also the people who I've booked to do the next stage. So keep that in mind when making your plans, and good luck with whatever you're doing.

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.  

Friday 5 July 2024

Review of Savage Seas by Monica Boothe

An attack by a mythical sea monster leaves a young woman and a brooding pirate stranded on a lonely island and fighting for their survival.

Prim, Puritan-raised Eleanor set out on this voyage to reunite with the love of her life. What she got instead was a pirate attack followed by near devouring by an enormous kraken. Now, stranded with Julien, a surly French pirate boy—one of the very ruffians who, just hours before, threatened her life—Eleanor must learn to overcome her prejudices. But Julien has secrets of his own, and Eleanor comes to suspect that it may not be coincidence that led the two of them to this island together.

Can Eleanor and Julien work together to not only survive the wilds of the Caribbean but to find their way home?


My Review: 5 STARS

I read the first book in this series and so when this one came up on my radar I had to dig in. I ended up reading it all in one sitting and was caught up in Eleanor and Julien’s story. I adored the characters, the backstory, the twists and turns throughout and of course the way the two of them came together. It was beautifully written, some twists you won’t see coming and beautiful imagery that just makes you feel like you’re right there with the characters watching it all play out. This is a series to continue and 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

Tuesday 2 July 2024


Tara always thought she could rely on Mike, even if she had no one else...


[ID: A bright blue background with the title DYING THOUGHTS - SEVENTH DEATH at the top and out now in ebook & paperback just below the title The except reads:

“A car driven by someone ran that bus off the road. I am as sure of that as I am that today is Thursday and that tomorrow will be Friday. As sure as I am that it will probably still be raining when I leave. Is that sure enough for you?”
“I didn’t mean that I didn’t believe you-,” Mike started to say, but I had already made my decision. I grabbed my phone out of the plug beneath Mike’s desk, pulled on my still damp coat and headed for his office door. “Tara, you know I would never doubt you.”
“And yet,” I said, turning around slightly. “You do.”

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


Monday 1 July 2024

Six Month Check In With Goals - The Creative Process


I always set myself goals for the year on my Authortube channel in December. I then, usually, will review the goals come June/July and will see how things are going. I'm hoping to stay on track and doing it this way gives me the nudge if I've forgotten about something along the way!

So here's my fifteen goals and how they're going!


This book has been through developmental edits and is now with the line editor. The cover reveal is this month, so I'll be releasing the release date soon enough. I'm gonna say that bar anything catastrophic happening, this one is very much going to be done!


I've been revising this since the start of the year. It's been to the sensitivity readers and right now I'm still working in their feedback. I plan to sent it to my editor on November 1st and that's been booked and everything, so I think this one is also gonna be done!


I've not started this and won't until about November time just because that's when I'll have Third Ache completely finished and I'll also be able to send Translucent to the dev editor and focus solely on this. So it's hopefully going to happen as planned.

I finished both of these in January and so this is very much done already!

I started both of these in February and finished them in June, so this is also very much done!


This one is still up in the air. I'm due to start the revision/rewriting process in July, so today, and I'm hoping that it all goes well, but it'll be a long path and might have to wait until the end of the year to really call this done.


So far this year I've managed to keep up with it. I also plan to use it to record any rewrites that happen with the above projects.


I have done this every month. My most days off was in May when I had four! Otherwise I've had at least two days off every single month this year!


This one has been completed up to now. I've not missed an upload, and have even started posting shorts on Sundays which had been well received.

This is another one where I've completed up until now. I've posted an advice piece every Monday and reviews on Friday, and I can't see that changing before the end of the year.

11. READ 350 BOOKS

This one is progressing. I've managed just under 200 books so far this year, so I'm pretty sure that I'll be about to hit my goal before the end of the year!

Another one that's ongoing, I've managed to send 7 newsletters so far, including the one that went out today! I send them on the 1st of every month and while my list is small, I do enjoy writing them out.


Another ongoing on, but also one that I don't foresee having any problems with. I love doing my spreads, and even though I just started a new planner, I don't see me not continuing with this!


Instagram has quickly become a favourite social media for me. I love posting there every day and along with my photos, I've also started doing reels (which I then use as shorts on YouTube) and they've all been well received, so I can't see myself stopping with this.

So the secret has been out for a bit now. This goal was about my audiobooks and at the time of writing, I have two out, along with about nine in production, so I can see myself hitting this goal so long as nothing goes wrong between now and the end of the year.

So there we go, I think I'm on track for a lot of my goals. Some I've managed, a lot of them need the rest of the year to really say either way. I shall review them all properly on my Authortube channel in December!

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.