Why do you write?

Oftentimes, the conscious act of writing is personal. Our minds can become heavily trafficked by every day problems and life:

* Something you did didn’t go to plan and you start fretting.
* Someone else’s stress starts affecting you.
* Marital issues become unbearable.
* Lack of money and an increase in bills have you panicking.
* Your boss dumps a huge pile of work on your desk at 3pm on a Friday, expecting it to be done by Monday, yet you have plans to take the kids away to a theme park.

Daily struggles have a way of consuming our thoughts with loud chatter, and as humans we often need an outlet, a medium to voice the craziness in order to clear the clutter. For many, the choice is to sit with a cuppa and vent, let it out to those closest to you. For others, they choose to write it down. Whether somebody else sees it is irrelevant, the aim is to empty the mind.

This is why writing is often personal; it’s a kind of therapy. 
You bare all your darkest secrets, desires and fears on the page because you know it won’t judge you. There’s no reply. No criticism. It’s your sanctuary to explore your current journey.

Sometimes, you write to understand what you’re thinking. It’s a logical thought process that enables to get you from A to B in order to find the solution.

“The written word, in all its forms, holds tremendous power.”
Hrvoje Butkovic

However, I write to quieten the madness inside me, to give structure and purpose to my every day musings. It’s there I’m most objective; I see what’s going on around me as if through a filter lens.

“I write to give myself strength.
I write to be the characters that I am not.
I write to explore all the things I’m afraid of.”

Joss Whedon

I write to mould words into life, to give credence to what I observe. It isn’t easy to write coherently, to have readers sympathise with your characters, but the joy of fitting sentences together like the pieces of a jigsaw is undeniably satisfactory. Yes, it’s a long, lonely road filled with a constant battle between doubt and glee, but the gratification of a completed project makes it worthwhile. Your efforts will be rewarded eventually.

“The true alchemists do not change lead into gold;
they change the world into words.”
William H. Gass

I made a deliberate decision to write publicly:

* To open myself up to new opinions and thoughts in order to grow.
* To view the Universe through another’s eyes.
* To learn.

I will never know enough about this craft to honestly profess I need not study anymore. Writing evolves every day, making it more exciting and challenging, forcing me to work harder.

I might never reach the status of Writing Queen. But that doesn’t stop me from trying. When passion, determination and ambition collide, magic happens. Don’t let fear get in the way of your dreams; you deserve what you’re willing to work for.

“You can make anything by writing.”
C. S. Lewis


Struggling with being a writer in the age of social media? Check this article out. You’re not alone.


Finally, last call to submit your questions to me in my open Q&A session. All entries must be given in by the end of Saturday 4th February 2017. The giveaway is also open internationally. Read this short post for more information.

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

Sacrifice

remembrance-day

 

Empty shells dress the ground at my feet,
Echoing in my mind as I blast each lethal sweet.
My targets they wait, hiding down below,
Cowering behind ruins as they run out of ammo.

My breathing remains even despite my pounding chest,
I inch forward slowly, testing my armoured vest.
Bullets hurtle all around, terrified shouts fill the air,
Red pools soak the ground; a poignant outcome of warfare.

My comrades take cover at the howl of a grenade,
We wait out the blast, gearing up to invade.
Sweat trickles down my neck, the burning heat sears my soul,
Yet I trundle ahead, towards the emerging black hole.

I wish for my home, for the strength of my wife,
For the press of her lips as she gives me new life.
But as we scout out the zone, danger sparks up anew,
At this moment I know, I won’t make our rendezvous.

Slowly, I fall, time disappears from me completely,
I ignore all the pain, taking my enemy with me.
My army brothers lean down as I pat my left pocket,
A goodbye to my love with her favourite sonnet.

Though it is day, darkness closes on my eyes,
I take my last breath, envisioning the sunrise.
As my essence drifts away, I have only one regret,
There’ll be no more ‘I love you’, and too much upset.

Lest We Forget.

r-day

Secret Project? Tell me more. . .

Happy  1st  July! And  what  a  great  Friday  it’s  going  to  be  because  I  have  a  treat  for  you.  Since  finishing  the  Nature’s  Destiny  series  I’ve  been  asked  what  I’m  working  on  next  and  when  the  bloody  hell  am  I  going  to  release  said  book?

Well,  how  do  we  feel  about  a  first  chapter  reveal  of  my  secret  project  coming  Autumn  2016?

I  don’t  fancy  giving  too  much  away  just  yet  as  I’m  still  in  first  draft  mode,  but  it’s  the  start  of  a  new   paranormal  romance  trilogy  with  the  added  bonus  of  creatures  I  haven’t  written  about  before,  plus  a  leading  lady  who  is  incredibly  important.  Of  course.  And  although  I  have  a  title  already  decided,  I’m  going  to  save  it  for the  next  coming  weeks,  when  I  have  some  more  to  share.

For  now,  I  hope  this  first  chapter  whets  your  appetite.  Enjoy!

*First draft. Content subject to change. Unedited.*

1 – BROKEN

“Are  you  ready,  Tiss?  Just  like  the  book  says.  Straight  down  the  mountain,  one  full  turn,  and  back  up.  Sounds  simple  enough.  Just  gotta  try  and  see  through  the  thick  layer  of  fog  first,”  I  add. 

He  ‘hmphs’  at  me,  blowing  smoke  out  of  his  nostrils.  I  leap  onto  his  back,  sitting  as  comfortably  as  I  can  between  the  large  red  spikes  adorning  his  spine.

“And  whatever  you  do,  don’t  drop  me!”  I  wouldn’t  die,  but  it  sure  would  hurt  like  hell.

Fortissimus  jumps  off  of  the  top  of  the  highest  mountain  in  Terra  Regnum,  gliding  through  clouds  of  mist  at  a  fast  pace.  We  fly  as  one  being  as  I  entrust  my  faith  wholeheartedly  in  my  dearest  friend.  

Even  with  my  heightened  vision,  I  struggle  to  see  through  the  dense  precipitation  as  the  wind  pushes  against  my  face,  forcing  me  to  lean  backwards.

Tiss  spreads  his  large  wings,  gaining  speed  as  the  ground  draws  near.  He  flaps  harder,  pushing  the  limits.

“Tiss. . .”  I  warn,  seeing  the  speckles  of  rubble  a  short  distance  ahead. 

He  doesn’t  slow  down.

We’re  getting  closer.

Closer.

“TISS!” 

He  turns,  changes  direction,  and  heads  back  up  the  mountain  as  I  try  to  swallow  my  heart.  My  fingers  cramp,  realising  I’ve  been  gripping  on  to  him  with  more  force  than  I thought. 

Bloody  rascal,  tormenting  me.

“Let’s  go  home.  We’ll  talk  about  your  disobedience  then,”  I  scorn,  sitting  back  a  little  more  relaxed. 

We  fly  by  many  snow  covered  mountains,  all  quiet  of  life.  It’s  peaceful,  tranquil  as  the  sun  peeks  through  the  clouds that  are  soon  to  bring  nightfall.

The  temperature  continues  to  drop  though  it  doesn’t  affect  me,  and  frost  covers  the  woodland  near  my  home. 

Tiss  takes  one  large  sweep  around  the  dungeon,  landing  gently  on  the  snow.  I  slide  down,  my  dress  falls  to  my  feet  and  trails  across  the  white  ground  as  I  turn  my  attention  to  my  naughty  dragon.

He  bows  his  head  the  second  we  come  face  to  face,  drooping  his  eyes  as  if  in  apology.  It’s  almost  enough  to  make  me  melt  with  forgiveness.

I  sigh.  “Listen,  you  know  I  like  to  have  fun  too,  but  we  need  to  keep  our  training  on  top  form.”  I  run  my  hand  over  his  scarred  lip,  knowing  it’s  identical  to  mine.  Over  time  it’s  faded,  but  I  still  remember  the  slicing  of  the  blade  cutting  from  the  right  of  my  top  lip  to  my  chin.  Fortissimus  had  been  struck  by  the  same  blow.  “We  can’t  slip  up  again.”

Though  he  cannot  talk  I  know  he  understands,  I  can  sense  his  essence  within  me.  He  is,  and  always  has  been,  a  part  of  me.  In  many  ways  we  are  connected.

His  large  tongue  licks  my  face,  catching  me  unawares.  “Tiss!  That’s  disgusting,”  I  groan,  using  my  dress  to  wipe  the  slobber  dripping  off  of  me.  His  tail  thumps  loudly  on  the  ground,  and  he  snorts  almost  as  if  he’s  laughing  at  me.

“Oh,  so  that’s  how  it’s  gonna  be,  huh?”  I  tickle  his  neck,  back,  legs  and  tail,  moving  fast  enough  until  it  drives  him  crazy.  “Do  you  concede?”  I  cross  my  arms.

He  blows  a  puff  of  smoke  in  my  face.

“I  thought  so,”  I  smirk,  turning  towards  my  home.  As  the  only  vampire/werewolf  hybrid  in  all  of  Imperium  I  live  alone  in  the  dungeon  I  carved  deep  into  the  mountains  with  my  dragon.  Over  the  eons  I’ve  embellished  on  its  natural  formation,  though  fire  is  my  only  light  source.  I  prefer  it  that  way.  Darkness  will  always  be  my  ally.

Tiss  follows  in  behind  me,  pushing  his  ever-growing  size  through  the  fire-lit  doorway.  “Is  your  bum  getting  too  big,  Tiss?”

He  nudges  me  forward  with  his  nose,  grumbling  to  himself  when  the  mountain  begins  to  shake.  The  ground  vibrates  rapidly  beneath  my  feet.  Dust  falls  from  the  crevices  above.  The  flame  torches  burn  out.

Tiss  pulls  me  into  him  with  his  large  claws,  protecting  me  just  as  I  unsheathe  my  sword  in  preparation.  The  cavernous  walls  tremble  erratically. 

My  body  hums  with  electricity  as  though  the  vibrations  are  passing  through  me.  My  skin  tingles  with  awareness  as  two  white  balls  glow  up  ahead.  What  is that?

They  hover  in  the  darkness,  moving  towards  us.  I  take  my  stance,  sword  forward.  I  feel  Tiss  tense  behind  me.  He’s  ready,  too.

The  circles  of  light  stop,  expanding  into  two  large  doorways  where  the  holograms  of  two  male  faces  appear.

I  relax  my  sword,  realising  this  isn’t  a  threat,  it’s  a  calling.

To  my  left,  a  man  sits  on  his  underwater  throne,  his  long  black  hair  flowing  around  him.  His  head  is  adorned  with  a  gold  crown,  and  his  ironically  sun-kissed  skin  gleams.

To  my  right,  crimson  eyes  glare  at  me.  He  stands  tall  in  his  usual  unnecessary  armour  that  covers  fine,  ebony  skin.  A  crown  of  rubies  adorns  his  black  and  white  dreadlocked  hair  whilst  he  holds  a  staff.  Also  unnecessary. 

They  are  King  Asa,  and  King  Zuriel,  ruler  of  Mare  Regnum  and  Terra  Regnum  respectively.

“Why  am  I  being  summonsed?”  I  project  my  voice,  enforcing  my  power.

“Our  law  has  been  broken.  Rebel  creatures  are  fleeing  Imperium. . .”

“We  cannot  risk  the  humans  on  Earth  knowing  about  us.  The  barrier  between  our  worlds  is  far  too  fragile  to  endure  this,” King  Asa,  the  hologram  to  my  left,  finishes  King  Zuriel’s  sentence.

“Our  worlds  cannot  co-exist.  You  know  this  more  than  anyone.  The  humans  are  unforgiving  to  our  kind.”  Zuriel  continues,  “We’ve  tried  keeping  the  peace,  but  our  kingdoms  are  becoming  rowdy.”

I  listen  to  their  speeches,  plainly  seeing  their  desperation. 

“If  we’re  to  reign  in  those  who  remain  under  our  authority,  then  it’s  time  for  real  action.”

I  nod,  understanding.

“We’ve  broken  the  necessary  seals.  The  veil  separating  us  will  release.  Do  you  accept  your  duty,  Oxsana?”  King  Asa  asks,  crossing  his  large  arms  across  his  bare,  muscular  chest.

Tiss  pounds  his  claws  behind  me,  acknowledging  our  fate.

“I  do.”

“Find  the  rebel  creatures  on  Earth,”  Zuriel  demands.

“Imperium  needs  you,  Dragonman  of  War.”

Read an Ebook Week 2016

From today until March 13 at midnight, Smashwords are holding a ginormous sale to encourage reading. Which is fantastic! Check out their site and fill your e-reader up!

For the first time since its release, Wicked Sunshine my romantic comedy novel is enlisted in the sale at 50% off. Half price. Instead of $4 get it for $2. All you have to do is follow this link, add Wicked Sunshine to your basket, and make sure you input the code RAE50 when you go through checkout for your discount.
Simples.

e2ac6-teaser2b11

Nature’s Destiny and Alpha Wanted:Part 1 are both FREE too!

Bargains, bargains everywhere!

Alpha Wanted 1 OTHER SITES  Nature's Destiny

P.S. I’m working hard behind the scenes. Stay tuned for some announcements soon – keep up to date with me on facebook and Instagram. Pretty pictures are coming. . .

Cliffhanger Controversy

Cliffhangers. They’re a lot like Marmite, aren’t they? Some people love them, others hate them. And then you get the odd marbles who love to hate them, and hate to love them. Which one of these lovely specimens are you?

I’m somewhere in between the likability spectrum.  You see, it all depends on the genre. Cliffhangers can’t work with every book. Can you imagine how infuriating it would be reading an entire novel full of crimes, only to get to the last page and not find out who the perpetrator is? You’ve been guessing all along only to realise you have to buy the sequel to get your answers.

That doesn’t work – it’s the key aspect of the plot. It’s also a bit of a con.

However, a paranormal read with a new twist at the end of the already-solved plot works. It’s a teaser of what’s going to come next. It gets you thinking, makes you excited, and fills you with anticipation. That’s what a cliffhanger should do.

The problem, of course, lies in the self-publishing revolution. We’ve been spoiled. No one has the patience to wait a year anymore, not unless it’s being traditionally published. We’ve become the generation that expects things instantly. It’s the disease that’s come with the internet.

Instant gratification.

But here’s the thing. A great cliffhanger is supposed to make you impatient not greedy – don’t expect the next book to land in your lap with a click of your fingers. Excellent writing takes a lot of time and energy.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t want to scoff the next book down like it’s chocolate cake day after a week of dieting.  You should totally inhale those words as if they’re your last hit of oxygen for the day.

From a business perspective, if a well-written book ends on a cliffhanger, it’s no doubt a ploy to get the reader to buy the next. Fundamentally, that is it’s basic function. But it has to fit the story. There’s no point killing off a character for the sheer sake of it. There has to be a reason behind it or you’re gonna lose interest from your readers. They’ll think you’ve literally lost the plot. Logically, even in your fantasy land it won’t make sense.

What bothers me most nowadays is that authors (particularly self-published authors from what I’ve seen) are writing *WARNING* signs in their book’s description because it has a cliffhanger. Since when did the use of a cliffhanger become relevant in the decision of which novel you’re going to read next?

Are we really suggesting that a cliffhanger is a make or break decision on what could potentially be a fantastic read?

It’s like the author is apologising for writing what they wanted to; which is very sad. You shouldn’t be saying sorry for what you believe in. It’s your work.

So I want to know:

Where do you stand on the Cliffhanger Controversy? Are you for or against the movement?

Remembering Beauty

spitfire_poppy_fields_by_stephenjohnsmith-d8vyicj

I  hear  the  alarm,
Howling  around  the  hangar.
As  I  rush  for  my  gear,
It  ignites  my  anger.

My  baby  she  waits,
With  wounds  to  tell,
Of  a  sortie  with  victories,
Painted  on  her  tail.

I  sit  in  her  cockpit,
Roaring  to  go.
We  take  to  the  sky,
And  give  them  their  show.

Their  fighters  are  fast,
But  my  spitfire  is  cunning.
Along  with  my  wingmen,
We’ll  just  keep  on  hunting.

The  night  raids  continue,
Orange  blasts  fill  the  sky.
As  debris  hits  the  ground,
Another  shall  die.

My  baby  she  flies,
With  more  stories  of  horror.
A  congratulations  of  triumphs,
She’ll  be  branded  a  warrior.

I  keep  losing  my  friends,
In  the  war  that  rages  on.
We  fight  for  our  country,
We  protect  the  dawn.

There’s  an  emptiness  inside,
As  I  fly  over  Dover.
I’ve  been  shot  to  the  torso,
I’m  bleeding  all  over.

I  take  in  the  scene,
Of  the  red  rising  sun,
Kiss  my  baby  goodbye,
It’s  my  time.  I’m  done.

I  fought  for  Great  Britain,
To  honour  my  duty.
I’ve  run  out  of  chances,
To  tuck  in  this  Beauty.

I  shan’t  be  alone,
My  lost  brothers  will  find  me.
They’ll  bring  whiskey  and  laughter,
For  death  has  no  enemy.

I’ll  salute  no  regrets,
And  bid  the  world  adieu.
Herein  please  remember,
What  I  sacrificed  for  you.

maxresdefault