Justine who? Yeah, I’ve forgotten too. . .

6 months of the year already over and I’m feeling even more detached from this beautiful book world. When I took on my Master’s Degree last October I had no idea how much it would consume every aspect of my life, I thought I was the Queen of multi-tasking and organisation. And even though I haven’t stopped writing, I haven’t necessarily been able to write the projects I’ve got lined up for my author biz. I know, it seems daft. My inner monologue goes something like this. . . “How can you write all these words and still not have anything ready to publish?!” I’ve even driven myself insane by imposing deadlines on my work and having to push them back All. The. Time. because just when I think I have a handle on all the work. . . BAM! New pile. More deadlines to crunch. But I’m LOVING this degree. My mind is pop-pop-popping with brand new ideas and information.

Back at the beginning of the year, I said I’d do a vlog answering all of your burning questions, and funnily enough you all seemed to have the same two questions, so I’m going to quickly sum them up here.
1. Where the hell have I been?
2. What’s next dammit?!

Amongst the really hard work, I recently ventured out and did something I’ve wanted to do since I was little.
I drove a Ferrari.
AND AN ASTON MARTIN…
Around a race track! Undoubtedly, it was the BEST day ever! I had the widest, cheesiest grin on my face all day, and was so focused on pushing the cars around the bends Top Gear-style I completely forgot I had a camera pointed at me the entire time. There’s video evidence, but for now I’ll stick to a couple of photos.

 

And this past weekend I headed over to Swansea Bay for the annual Wales Airshow which I absolutely enjoy every year, especially now that I have my Canon EOS to play around with. Can’t go wrong with an Airshow on the beach in the sunshine.

 

As for what’s next from me, that’s more of a tricky question. For more than a year I’ve had several projects on the go, some closer to finishing than others. You might recall me mentioning a holiday-themed Nature’s Destiny short story book – I can tell you that I have every intention of releasing that during the remaining months of the year. I’m really close to the end. SO CLOSE. It’s like saying goodbye to Luna and Riley all over again. (That’s probably why it’s taking me so long to complete, I can’t say bye-bye again.)

Finally, the biggest news I have to share is that I’ll be attending Chapter Con 2017 at the end of August (25th-26th) in Teddington, London. What does that mean? During this two-day event I’ll be talking on one of the five panels set up, whilst also having a table with my books to sell and swag to give away with a ton of other awesome authors from around the globe. Come meet me, ask me anything, take some selfies. For some more in-depth information, click here.

 

Tickets are available here with many different options. Friday only. Saturday only. Both days including the evening ball. Whatever takes your fancy and budget.

This is the first indie book conference of its kind in the UK, adopted from Nashville’s UtopiaCon which has now, sadly, ended its annual event. But, as one page ends, a new chapter begins. And I’m ridiculously excited to meet you and talk about the things we love most. BOOKS!

To spread the love for this event, I’m giving away 3 tickets to the Saturday Signing (26th August – either morning or afternoon). To enter, head here to the rafflecopter giveaway.

 

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Happy New Year

justine-winter2

I do desire we may be better strangers.
William Shakespeare

Happy New Year, Wolves!
I know, doesn’t that seem strange reading those words so late in January? But I’m sure you’ve noticed a considerable amount of silent treatment on my end the last few months. Sometimes, life has a funny way of creeping up and consuming you. Even in my absence I didn’t stop thinking of you, and I’ve been writing. I’m constantly writing, it’s just not what I always want to write. I’m looking at you, Uni assignments. However, my intentions and goals for this year are pretty humongous – both personal and professional.So, why am I quoting Shakespeare today? Well, it’s pretty simple. I’m well overdue a new Vlog – that’s a video blog btw, you know, in case you’re not down with the kids. (I can hear my younger self tutting and shaking her head in disapproval at that. When did I get old? Scratch that question, I don’t think I’d like the answer, it’ll probably have something to do with grey hairs. Yes, I have them. A LOT OF THEM. Gone are the days of snipping one or two. Anyway, I’ve digressed…)

The last time I created a video I’d only just started out in this Author ShowBiz back in 2014. Everything was all new back then! If you haven’t seen it, please cringe along with me here. But now, I’m ready to dive back into the swing of things, and that means keeping in touch with you about words I’m finally going to publish this year. Want to know more? Then ask me. That’s right. I want to know what you want to know from me – sorry, this isn’t supposed to be some riddle you have to solve before you get the prize. Basically, I’m going to answer all your questions in a video. Whether they’re about my books, what I’m working on, what I’m currently doing with my weird life or even who my favourite superhero is. Actually, no, please don’t ask me that. I don’t have an answer! What I’m suggesting is you have carte blanche. Go crazy! All you have to do is comment below with your question. And what’s more, one lucky inquisitor will win a mystery prize. Game on?

Let’s do this!
Speak soon,
Alpha J – XO

The Vlog Has Arrived! (Finally)

Happy  Monday!  And,  for  a  change,  what  a  happy  Monday  it  is!  Why?  Because  I’ve  finally  created  the  Q&A  vlog  I  said  I’d  do  months  ago.  So,  without  further  ado,  I  give  you  my  face,  and  voice…  Enjoy! On  a  sidenote,  forgive  the  noisy  interruptions,  no  matter  how  many  times  I  did  the  video  something  always  came  up.  Ah,  such  is  life.  😉

Blogging Vs Vlogging

Happy  Sunday,  Everybody!

Today,  I  have  an  exciting  proposal  to  make  that  I  hope  sounds  just  as  fun  for  you  as  it  is  for  me.  I’ve  been  wanting  to  try  something  different  other  than  blogging  for  a  while  now,  and  I  think  I’ve  decided  on  an  idea.  I  absolutely  love  blogging  and  there’s no  way  I’ll  be  stopping  anytime  soon.  But  wouldn’t  it  be  cool  if  I  came  to  you  on  another  awesome  platform,  too?

What  is  this  awesome  idea  I  have  rattling  around  my  mind?  Well,  I’ll  tell  you . . .

YouTube  Videos,  otherwise  known  as  Vlogging.

And  because  you  guys  are  the  whole  reason  I’m  doing  this,  the  first  video  is  basically  a  Q&A  with  me.  You  can  ask  me  anything  about  the  books  or  even  what’s  to  come  in  the  series/new  ideas,  my  writing,  me.  ANYTHING.  All  you  have  to  do  is  e-mail (justinewinter@hotmail.co.uk)  your  question,   leave  a  comment  on  this  post  or  ask  me  on  twitter/facebook,  and  I’ll  make  sure  to  include  it  in  the  video.

I’m  so  excited  about  this  new  venture  that  I’m  offering  up  a  giveaway,  too.  Everyone  that  asks  a  question  will  have  their  name  entered  to  win  an  eBook  copy  of  Nature’s  Destiny  and  Sapphire’s Divinity  through  Smashwords (you can choose which format you prefer then).  Phew!  I’ll  announce  the  winner  on  the  vlog.

The  video  will  be  posted  in  the  next  couple  of  weeks,  so  until  then  I  hope  you  have  a  great  week!

My Writing Process; Blog Hop

When  a  writing  opportunity  comes  my  way,  I’d  be  foolish  to  turn  it  down.  So,  when  my  twitter  lit  up  with  a  message  from  Roger,  asking  me  to  be  a  part  of  this  tour,  I  agreed  immediately.  After  all,  it’s  pretty  exciting  to  talk  about  writing  in  any  capacity.  But,  before  I  take  over  the  limelight  let’s  talk  about  the  wonderful  Roger.  He’s  a  writer  of  horror  and  the  geekiest  guy  on  the  block.  Seriously,  don’t  ever  confuse  Star  Wars  with  Star  Trek  because  you’ll  end  up  feeling  like  Penny  in  a  room  with  Sheldon,  Leonard,  Howard  and  Raj.  Oh  yeah,  I’m  Super  proud  of  my  Big  Bang  Theory  metaphor  there.  I  also  realise   my  coolness  factor  just  dropped  astronomically.  (If  you  watch  the  show,  you’ll  notice  the  puns.)  You  can  read  his  writing  process  here,  and  I  also  urge  you  to  read  his  short  story  pieces  too.  He comes  with  an  abundance  of  creativity  and  his  #FridayPhrases  captivate  quite  the  audience.

I’m  truly  grateful  to  be  a  part  of  this  hop,  and  I  thank  you,  Roger,  for  thinking  of  me.

Now,  on  to  the  Spanish  Inquisition,  uh,  I  mean,  insightful  questions…

What  am  I  working  on?

Here’s  the  part  where  I  jump  up and  down  with  excitement  to  share  some  new  information  with  you  all.  If  you  follow  me  on  twitter  or  stalk  me  on  facebook  then  you’ll  know  I’ve  started  writing  Nature’s  Destiny  2,  and  while  that  is  still  very  much  a  part  of  me,  I  have  something  brand  new  in  the  works.  Sometimes  an  idea  won’t  quit  no matter  how  much  you  write  down,  and  that’s  exactly  what  happened  with  my  current  WIP.  It’s  a  New  Adult  MC  Romance,  and  for  those  that  don’t  know  what  MC  stands  for,  its  Motorcycle  Club.  That’s  right,  I’m  writing  a  hot,  steamy,  gritty  biker  book  that  focuses  on  two  viewpoints.  Yup,  I’m  dabbling  with  dual  POV’s  this  time,  and  it’s  definitely  intended  for  a  mature  audience  (17/18+).  As  I’m  still  in  the  early  word  count  stages  of  this  novel,  I  don’t  want  to  reveal  too  much.  But,  stay  tuned  for  more  details  in  the  next  month  or  so.  Oh,  and  if  you’re  a  little  curious  and  want   to  get  a  little  taste  as  to  the  ‘feel’  of  the  novel,  you  can  check  out  my  Spotify  playlist  titled  MC, (actual  title  to  be  chosen.)

How  does  my  work  differ  from  others  of  its  genre?

You  know,  when  I  first  read  this  I  was  going  to  answer  by  saying  it’s  because  of  my  style.  Every  writer  has  their  own  imprint,  just  like  the  unique  DNA  cast  in  the  grooves  of  our  fingers.  But,  that’s  when  I  realised  I  had  a  correlation  of  themes  in  the  novels  I’m  writing.  Basically,  it  all  boils  down  to  family.  If  you’ve  read  Nature’s  Destiny,  you’ll  know  what  I’m  talking  about.  It’s  okay,  I  won’t  divulge  any  spoilers  here.  I  guess  you’ll  have  to  read  it  for  yourself  to  find  out.

Why  do  I  write  what  I  do?

It’s  simple  really,  I  just  love  to  write.  With  Nature’s  Destiny,  I  love  to  explore  and  create  the  things  that  don’t  exist.   I  was  recently  asked  a  few  similar  questions,  which  you  can read  here,  and  ultimately  it  returns  to  that  feeling  of   free  reign.  I  have  been  obsessed  with  the  paranormal  since  I sat   down  and  watched  Buffy  the  Vampire  Slayer  with  my  best  bud  when  we  were  in  primary  school.  Angel  became  the  first  vampire  I  fell  in  love  with,  Oz  was  my  first  taste  at  a  werewolf,  and  Buffy,  the  first  strong  female  character  I  truly  admired.  I  was  so  caught  up  in  Joss  Whedon’s  Buffyverse  I  wanted  to  be  her.  The  supernatural  are  fascinating,  to  exist  with  a  power  that  saves  mankind  on  a  daily  basis  without   all  the  glory?  Firstly,  sign  me  up,  and  secondly,  let  me  capture  that  in  my  writing.  As  the  years  have  gone  by,  the  paranormal  community  has  kept  my  addiction  going  from  episodes  of  True  Blood,  to  films  such  as  Underworld.  And  on  another  note,  I’m  pretty  sure  I  have  a  ghost  in  my  house,  but  we’ll  get  to  those  stories  another  day.

What  I’m  currently  working  on  isn’t  paranormal,  but  it’s  still  romance.  And  that’s  the  main  genre  of  my  novels.  Not  everything  in  life  is  fair  or  easy,  and  sometimes  the  bad  things  win  too  many  times,  but  writing  what  I  do,  I  want  to  create  an  escape  for  someone  else.  I  want  to  be  able  to  provide  some  happiness  for  someone  that  needs  a  break  from  the  real  drama.  And,  if  I  can  do  that  for  them  by  providing  a  Happily  Ever  After,  then  my  goal  as  a  writer  has  been  met.

How  does  your  writing  process  work?

My  process  is  simple.  I  write  the  entire  first  draft,  then  I  rewrite,  and  finish  by  editing.  There’s  a  lot  of  stuff  that  happens  after  that  like  beta  readers,  but  those  three  steps  are what  I  do  alone  first.  I  have  a  big  whiteboard  on  my  wall,  seriously  it’s  like  the  size  they  use  in  schools,  and  I  use  it  to  plot.  Then  I  dab  post-it  notes,  pictures,  lyrics,  anything  that  inspires  the  storyline  around  it  too.  Honestly,  when  I  wrote  Nature’s  Destiny,  the  entire  wall  looked  like  it  had  been  redecorated  with  all  the  pieces  of  paper  I’d  blu-tacked  to  it.  The  whole  idea,  isn’t  that  I’ve  gone  absolutely  insane,  but  it’s  the  fact  I see  it  when  I  go  to  bed,  and  it’s  the  first  thing  I  see  when  I  wake.  It  becomes  embedded  so  deeply  in  my  subconscious,  that  when  I’m  not  actively  thinking  of  it  my  mind  will  throw  an  idea  that  could  help  me  solve  whatever  writing  struggle  I’m  having.  I  stick  to  writing  goals;  2000  words  a  day,  and  if  I  don’t  succeed  that  day  I’ll  add  it  on  to  the  next.  Why  do  I  put  that  pressure  on  myself?  Discipline.  If  I  didn’t,  I’d  never  get  anything  done.  And  with  every  milestone  I  achieve, I  do   a  little  celebratory  dance,  like,  YAY  I  finished  the  first  draft,  YAY  I  finished  rewrites  etc.  Every  step  is  worth  a  pat  on  the  back  because  it’s  another  step  closer  to  publishing.  Don’t  play  it   down,  it’s  a  great  feat  to  have  conquered.

So,  with  my  writing  process  mumblings  out  of  the  way,  I  guess  you’re  wondering  who’s  up  next.  And,  boy,  have  I  got  a  line-up  for  you,  which  I’m  so  grateful  they  accepted!  I  can’t  wait  to  read  what  they  have  to  say…

Heather  Hildenbrand

33-2

Heather  is  an  acclaimed  indie  author  of  over  10  YA  &  NA  titles  including  her  bestselling  Dirty  Blood  series  which  can  be  found  at  her  blog.  She’s  also  the  founder  of  Phoenix:  Author  Ink  where  she  coaches  authors  from  plotting  to  publishing,  and  most  recently  co-founder  of  Elephantine  Publishing.

Loubelle  Bree

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Loubelle’s  blog  holds  written  pieces  inspired  by  her  life.  From  a  series  she  dedicates  as  letters  to  her  dad,  to  the  struggles  and  joys  she  finds  during  the  creation  of  her  WIP.  Oh,  and  a  love  for  avacado’s  too.

Erica  Alex

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Besides  the  many  names  Alex likes  to  pen,  her  blog  is  filled  with  writerly  musings,  and  a  regular  story-telling  posted   as  Finally  Friday.  She  also  holds  updates  on  her  current  WIP  titled,  The  Final  Chapter  of  Rain,  which  in  turn  is  the  first  instalment  of  the  Zodiac  series.

That’s  it  from  me  for   now.  Thanks  again,  Roger.

Have  a  great  week  all!

Self-Publishing; Why?

It’s  been  a  while  since  I’ve  posted  anything  of  worth  lately,  but  a  topic  came  to  mind  today  that  I  couldn’t  stop  thinking  about,  and  the  question,  simply  put,  is  why?

Why  did  I  choose  to  self-publish?

My  honest  answer  is  this;  I  didn’t  even  think  of  publishing  any  other  way.

Let  me  explain  a  little,  it  wasn’t  that  I  didn’t  know  about  other  opportunities  but  it  was  more  to  do  with  the  fact  that  I  knew  self-publishing  was  the  way  for  me.  It  was  only  a  year  ago  when  I  read  my  very  first  indie-published  book.  I’d  fallen  prejudice  to  the  stigma  that  self-publishing  imposed,  but  I’d  used  the  funds  I’d  set  aside  for  my  reading  addiction  that  month on  brand  new,  traditionally  published  novels.  It  was  gone,  but  my  cravings  for  a  new  fix  wasn’t.  I  had  to  ‘buy’  a  free  book  in  order  to  sedate  my  obsession,  and  what  better  way  was  there  than  searching  the  kindle  database  on  Amazon.  I was  fixated  by  the  plethora  of  books  I  could  read  for  minimum  cost.  Once  I  started,  I  couldn’t  stop.  The  very  first  book  I  read  squashed  every  perception  I’d  encountered.  It  was  good,  brilliant  even,  and  I  dare  say  a  darn  sight  better  than  some  traditionally  published  titles  I’d  read.

Shockingly  so,  I’ve  read  more  books  in  the  past  year  thanks  to  many  talented  indie  authors,  than  I  have  my  entire  life  with  traditionally  published  books.  I  will  admit  this  has  mostly  been  due  to  the  cost;  it’s  quite  expensive  to  keep  a  hunger  for  reading  well-fed.

Self-published  books  opened  a  window  I  didn’t  know  I was  seeking.

Here’s  the  blatant  truth;  I  didn’t  even  query  my  debut  novel,  Nature’s  Destiny,  to  any  publishing  houses  or  agents.  It  wasn’t  because  I  didn’t  think  I  was  good  enough,  or  that  I  was  too  scared,  but  because  it  wasn’t  what  I  wanted.  Some  might  say  I  was  foolish  for  not  even  considering  it,  to  not  seek  some  professional  feedback  from  the  people  in  the  know.  Others  might  think  I’ve  shot  myself  in  the  foot  by  not  thinking  of  the  exposure  I  could  have  had  if  by  some  crazy  reasoning  a  publisher  had  chosen  me.  Besides  the many  ifs,  I  still  stand  by  my  decision.

Why?  Because  I  like  the  freedom.

I  like  to  write  whatever  I  fancy  at  the  time  and  not  have  to  worry  if  it  conforms  with  a  publishing  house’s  guidelines.  I  like  to  work  hard  on  what  I  love  most  and  see  the  rewards  afterwards  knowing  I  did  it  by  myself.  More  importantly,  I  like  to  be  challenged,  and  self-publishing  has  been  just  that.  I’m  a  sucker  for  control.  I  love  finding  my  own  cover  designer  to  work  with,  and  having  the  final  decision  on  everything.  It’s  my  book  after  all.  Mostly,  I  like  knowing  that  if  anything  did  go  wrong,  I’m  the  only  one  to  blame.  It’s  down  to  me  to  create  as  much  exposure  as  I  can,  and  that’s  a  risk  I’m  willing  to  take.

There’s  a  certain  phrase  that’s  been  on  my mind  a  lot  lately,  and  I  heard  it  from  one  of  the  many  talented  indie  authors  I’m  always  aspiring  towards.  She  wisely  says,  ‘Be  a  Collaborator,  and  not a  Competitor.’  For  me,  that  explains  the  community  of  indie  authors.  We’re  always  striving  to  help  each  other  out,  to  Pay  It  Forward.  Why  wouldn’t  I  want  to  be  a  part  of  that  too?

There’s  nothing  easy  about  self-publishing,  and  it  really  isn’t  the  easy  way  out  or  the  last  resort.  It   was  my  first  resort,  and  I’m  so  happy  it  was.

It  wasn’t  until  I  clicked  ‘publish’  that  I  truly  began  to  feel  scared.  I’d  left  myself  open  for  criticism  on a  public  platform,  and  there  was  no  going  back  now.  When  I   wrote,  I  didn’t  have  the  time  to  think  of  that,  I  didn’t  make  time  for   it.  I  had  to  be  brave,  I  had  to  think  positively  that  it  wouldn’t  go  any  other  way  than  forward.  I  was  optimistic,  because  positive  thinking  had  a  greater  chance  at  a  positive  outcome.

There  are  days  I  question  whether  I  should’ve  taken  longer  on  my  novel,  comparing  myself  with  other  authors.  I  even  stop  in  the  middle  of  writing  and  think,  ‘Oh  God,  what  have  I  gotten  myself  into!’  And,  I  wonder  if  choosing  to  go  it  alone  was  really  smart.

The  reality  is  this;  I’m  an  individual,  I’m  different.  This  is  what  works  for  me,  whether  you  think  it’s  right  or  wrong.  My  magic  ingredient  will  be  different  to  yours,  but  the  spell  remains  the  same;  exposure,  readers,  connections,  relationships.

It’s  a  fabulous  journey.

Courage  is  resistance  to  fear,  mastery  of  fear  – not  absence  of  fear
–  Mark  Twain


 

Disclaimer:  This  post  is  about  my  journey  through  self-publishing,  I  have  absolutely  no  issue  against  traditional  publishing  or  any  other   form  for  that  matter.