Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Morally Complicated YA - or the supposed lack of...

I haven't been around online much lately - mainly because I've been busy applying for new jobs and trying to do bits and pieces to the house when I can. Also, since the clocks went back, it's pretty much dark when I get home from work, so all I want to do is curl up in a blanket and read/sleep (which is what's mainly been happening if I'm completely honest). The lovely Murees Dupe sent me some great articles about using social media the other night, and they said about how you shouldn't feel forced to post something to social media - it should be something you enjoy, and you should only post when you've got something to share/say. Which is the principle I've been trying to live by (it's not just me being lazy, oh no...ahem...)

However, tonight I have something to say.

I saw this hashtag on Twitter yesterday: #MorallyComplicatedYA - at first, I didn't pay much attention as I was busy making supper, so I made a mental note to check it out later and then promptly forgot. However, when I got back from work today I decided to check out Twitter and the hashtag popped up again, this time with a photo:

(Thanks go to Diana Urban for taking this screenshot)

I read the excerpt in the photo (because I'm one of those people that'll look at every photo on Twitter, no matter what) and then I realised I needed to do some more digging. What was this book? Did I miss something? Well, actually, yes, it turns out I did.

I won't bore you with the whole details of what I found out (i.e. I Twitter-stalked a lot of YA authors until I found the cause of the problem - no, I'm not weird, honest...cough cough...) but here's the Publisher's Weekly article I finally found, which is the one that everyone was referencing in their increasingly angry tweets:

I'm fuming. Normally, I try to steer clear of Twitter arguments and I'll just seethe quietly in a corner until I get over it. But I don't know if maybe I'm just tired from work and I don't have the patience to deal with any more bullshit or what, but tonight, reading this news just made me so angry, that I had to write about it. 

I don't know if I've ever read such a condescending load of crap. 'The morality of the book is more complicated than a lot of YA so I wanted to try doing it on my own' - my eyebrows nearly shot off my forehead when I read that line. I'm not saying that YA doesn't have it's problems, or that there are YA books that aren't up to scratch - every genre has books like that. Are there YA books I don't like because of the main character, or a weak plot or weak writing? Of course! Just like there are are chick-lit books that I both like and dislike, or fantasy books that I love or hate. But equally there are hundreds of YA books that I absolutely adore - and if it wasn't for YA, I sure as hell wouldn't be an author right now. I just cannot believe that this guy is taking the liberty of tarring every YA book with the same brush - not every YA book is Twilight, or the Hunger Games, or Divergent. The depth and breadth of YA out there is simply breathtaking - no matter what your tastes, you're pretty much guaranteed to find a YA book to suit you. And yet, Bergstrom is strutting around like he's invented the wheel. Um, I think you'll find there's literally hundreds, if not thousands, of 'morally complicated YA' books out there long before you came along, my friend (Flowers in the Attic, anyone?)

My other favourite quote is this one: 'Kicking butt to save your dad is actually a lot easier for me to swallow than kids killing kids in The Hunger Games.' Ahh yes, because kids killing kids isn't morally complicated at all. It's not like The Hunger Games kickstarted a massive debate about our modern day culture of watching reality TV, and how much we can really be desensitised to the idea of war. All violence, no matter what the situation, or in what medium we read or learn about it, is going to be morally complicated in some shape or form. To dismiss all other YA books as being somehow less important than his own book is incredibly insulting. 

And yet, you know what really angers me? The fact that if you read the sample chapter of his work, it's so glaringly obvious that he's never bothered to research his target audience once. It's almost like he's heard that YA books 'must include X,Y, Z' in order to be successful and so he's crammed as many of those tropes into his work as possible. Where's the originality? Where's his unique writing style? There's absolutely nothing that I've read in his work that makes him stand out - to me at any rate. I don't know - maybe because I'm a YA author, I clearly have no clue what I'm talking about? You know, seeing as how YA authors can't possibly understand how complicated the issue of morality can be (I'm looking at you, Suzanne Collins).

Shame of Bergstrom for thinking he's a million times better than all of the other amazing YA authors out there. But even more, shame on the publishers for accepting it. There's so many talented YA authors out there, whether they've self-published or posted their work on Wattpad or on their blogs, that deserved to be recognised for all their hard work and dedication to the genre. These are the authors who can only dream of the success that Bergstrom has acheived  - and yet, mainstream publishers seem to think that if they stick to what they know, they'll make far more money than taking a chance on authors that actually have an original voice. It just makes me sad. 

Publishers - you have the power to change things like this. The future of YA is literally in your hands - take a chance on authors who DO write 'morally complicated YA' (i.e. a very large majority of them). Readers - you deserve so much more than this drivel to read. If you want recommendations for actual 'morally complicated YA', I strongly recommend you search for the hashtag on Twitter - there's hundreds of fabulous recommendations that I simply can't list all on here. And my dear fellow authors - keep doing what you're doing, and don't let condescending people hold you down. I love you all, but also, remember - don't write a book in a specific genre and then shit all over the genre you're supposedly writing for. It's just not cool.

What do you think of the #MorallyComplicatedYA debate? Is everyone overreacting? What do you think about the selection of YA books available?

Friday, 13 November 2015

Fridays are PJ Days...

Today I got to go to work in my pyjamas, in honour of Children in Need. I don't think I've ever spent a whole day in pyjamas before (when I'm not ill that is), so it was a bit weird waking up, having a shower then getting back into my (clean) PJs. But I have to say, it grew on me. I can now see why some authors would choose to stay in their PJS all day...if I ever reach the point where I can write full time for living, I'm totally going to make Fridays my 'PJ day' and write in my pyjamas all day.

Anyway, I haven't managed to do a lot of writing this week, as I've been concentrating on blogging/setting up Wattpad. But I'm hoping that I'll manage to find some time to write this weekend while the Engineer tidies up the last of his car bits. The sequel to Synthetica is currently standing at 15,000 words, so that's a positive. I'm hoping to add at least a few more thousand words to that word count by the end of the weekend.

The next part of Synthetica is now up on Wattpad - so do go and check it out if you like sci-fi/serialised books :).

Tonight, I'm planning on staying in my pyjamas and ordering a pizza for supper. Sounds like a good night to me!

Happy Friday, everyone!

How do you feel about staying in your pyjamas all day? What are your writing plans for the weekend?

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

What pad? Wattpad!

I've finally taken the plunge and signed up for Wattpad.

For those of you who don't know, Wattpad is a free community site where you can upload your story/novel in parts. The idea is that you can upload your stories for free, as well as read other people's work and leave comments on it/vote if you like it. I'm a little late to the party (as always) - Wattpad currently has 40 million users, and it looks as though it's only going from strength to strength.

I'm still trying to find my way around the site and figure out how it all works, but I'm having fun so far. There's A LOT of sci-fi/fantasy stories on there, but I've already bookmarked a couple to read over the weekend.

At the moment, I'm currently in the process of serialising Synthetica on there - why? Because I want to give people an introduction to who I am and what my work is like. I'll be working on something exclusively for Wattpad in the near future - I've got a couple of ideas, but nothing concrete yet. But I'd like to have something original on there by Christmas.

If you'd like to check out the first couple of chapters of Synthetica, you can find them on my Wattpad profile here. At the moment, I'm aiming to upload a new part every Wednesday and Friday (although it won't let me upload a part right now, which is super irritating, but I'll keep trying - hopefully I'll have another new chapter up tonight).

So that's it! Hopefully I'll see you guys over there :)! And don't forget to check out my work ;)!

Are you on Wattpad? What do you think of it? Do you have any favourite stories that you've discovered on Wattpad?

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

30 Seconds by Chrys Fey: Book sale!

99 CENT SALE on 30 SECONDS by Chrys Fey!

Sale ends Nov. 20th so take advantage now!


When Officer Blake Herro agreed to go undercover in the Mob, he thought he understood the risks. But he's made mistakes and now an innocent woman has become their target. He's determined to protect her at all costs.

The Mob's death threat turns Dr. Dani Hart's life upside down, but there is one danger she doesn’t anticipate. As she's dodging bullets, she's falling in love with Blake. With danger all around them, will she and Blake survive and have a happy ending, or will the Mob make good on their threat?


She had no time to react when a strong force bowled her through the doorway of her apartment, and a large hand plastered over her mouth. The man she had bumped into on the stairs had a firm grip on her as he kicked the door closed behind them. She struggled to get free, but his hold kept her back pressed against his chest.

“It’s okay. I’m a cop. My name is Blake Herro.” He hauled her into the living room. “There are six armed men coming up the stairs. We need to hide. Where can we hide?”

Her mind went blank, she even forgot about the ice cream.

“Where?” he demanded with a quick shake.

She pointed to the six-foot long, three-foot high handcrafted cedar chest she used for a coffee table. Officer Herro pulled her to it and flung open the lid.

“Get in,” he ordered.

The Wild Rose Press / NOOK / KOBO / Amazon US / Amazon UK

Don't forget 30 Seconds is on sale for 99 cents now, so grab your copy while you can!

Monday, 9 November 2015

To vlog or not to vlog, that is the question...

Over the weekend I've been thinking about my website, and my author 'brand' and all that jazz. While going over my marketing plan and ticking off the things I'd done on my 'to-do' list, I discovered that I'd written down the word 'vlog' with a huge question mark next to it.

I don't tend to use YouTube that much. In fact, my dad knows how to use YouTube better than I do - the only time I ever go on it, is if someone links to a cute animal video on Facebook.

But apparently book vlogs are becoming more of a big thing now. I've seen on Twitter a couple of people doing a video of their book reviews and I've watched a couple of author interviews on Goodreads, but I only really know of one author who posts videos to his website. In them, he discusses his books, his upcoming projects, his mental health issues and being transgender - they're really interesting videos, but then again, he is a NYT bestselling author. If I posted a video up, would anyone even bother to watch it?

Yeah, I could discuss the things I already write about on my blog, such as self-publishing, and review a few books and talk about my writing (or lack of), but would people actually find that interesting? I'm just not sure. I think I'd have to come up with a certain angle for my videos, but if I'm completely honest, between blogging, using Twitter/Tumblr/Wattpad, as well as actually writing my next book, I just don't know if I'd have the time to commit to vlogging as well.

The topic of social media is a source of never-ending fascination to me. I find it incredible how people can make an actual career out of making videos on YouTube or posting photos on Instagram. Yes, I'd absolutely love to reach more readers and have a conversation with them, but it sounds like it would take up an incredible amount of time to set up. Plus, I hate the way I sound/look on video.

So, what I'd like to know is:

Do any of you vlog? If so, how do you find it?

Do you think vlogging is becoming more of a thing for authors? 

Do you watch vlogs by other authors? (Please, do link to their videos in the comments, I'd love to check them out)

Do you think authors vlogging is a good thing or a bad thing?

Seriously, I'd love to hear your thoughts on this! If you have any info on vlogging, please share it in the comments below :)

Have a great Monday, everyone!

Friday, 6 November 2015

Getting that Friday Feeling

It's finally the end of the week! Time to party:

Or if you're like me, time to get in your PJs, drink tea and eat pizza while watching films.

I feel like this week has simultaneously gone at a snail's pace, and yet, passed in the blink of an eye...maybe it's because I've been working at my day job and then coming home and putting in several hours every night at my second job that I do for love, not money (or, as you all know it, writing).

Honestly, it's been exhausting coming home, having a quick cup of tea and then jumping on the computer for a good few hours before I have to go and make supper/reassure my fiancĂ© that I'm still alive. But I have really enjoyed it. I love the sense that my writing is in my control - I can either sit and complain about my day job driving me crazy, while grumbling that I'm not getting any writing done and oh yeah, did I mention the house is still an absolute tip from when the builders came in? - or I can do something about it.

I want to make writing my full time career. I want to be able to work for myself, not someone else. I want to do a job that I love every day. So I'm damn well going to make it happen.

Is it exhausting? Yes. Do I wish I could sit down the moment I come home from work and just chill all night? Yes. But hey, there's nothing in the rulebook that says I can't have a night off now and then, right?

This weekend, I was torn between sitting down and getting some writing done, or focussing on the house and finally getting some of the decorating out of the way. The Engineer has a uni friend coming to stay with us this weekend, so they can go and work on his car together - which means I've got an unexpected extended period of time in which to do as I please (normally at the weekends, I'm the one that gets dragged into helping him hoist out the engine or changing the brake pads). Do I get cracking on the decorating, as the house is driving me mad in the state it's in? Or do I get some serious writing done?

I think I've managed to convince myself over the right choice, just by writing this blog post. Although I've started to develop a serious eye twitch every time I look at the state of our ceilings, the fact is, writing is more important to me right now. I want to make a career out of it - and I can't do that if I don't actually do any writing.

So this weekend I'm planning on waking up early, psyching myself up, and then writing until my heart's content. As a treat, I may even stock up on cake beforehand, as a motivation to keep going. Whatever keeps me at the computer...

Have a great weekend!

Do you juggle writing with a full time job? How do you make the time to write? What are your writing plans this weekend?

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

IWSG November: Marketing Madness

Welcome to November's Insecure Writer's Support Group! We're a friendly bunch of writers that get together on the first Wednesday of every month to post about our writing insecurities, as well as offer encouragement to others. The IWSG was set up by the awesome Alex J. Cavanaugh - if it sounds like your cup of tea, then you can check out the official IWSG website here, or their Facebook page here.

So what's been eating me up this month? Well, I've barely done any writing since mid-way through October, but that's not what's bothering me - I'll write in my own time, once I've done something about my huge to-do list that's somehow appeared from nowhere. No, the thing that's taking up most of my time at the moment is the bane of every introverted writer's life - marketing.

The wonderful Murees Dupe recommended a book about marketing for writers to me, and although it's got my super-psyched to start and promote my work, at the same time, I am finding the thought of starting rather daunting. What if it doesn't work? What if all my ideas are horrible? What if I end up losing readers?

But before I get myself sucked into the void of paranoia, and 'what ifs', I have to remember one thing - just trying something, anything, is better than not trying at all. If I'd let my fears conquer me, I would've never have written my book, and I certainly wouldn't be here blogging today. All I can do is try. And if one thing fails, well then, I can simply move onto the next idea that's on my marketing plan (which, by the way, I LOVED doing - anyone else out there enjoy writing and colour-coding lists? No? Just me then).

I just thought I'd share with you the most crucial piece of information I got from this book - that marketing your book should always be about the reader, and you've got to treat your writing as a business not a hobby. This is a remarkably simple idea, but I never would've thought of it on my own. And it's with this mindset - that my writing is a business, not a reflection on me personally - that has given me the guts to create my own marketing plan for my writing. No doubt I'll be sharing my marketing successes and failures with you over the coming months, so stay tuned!

Do you have a dedicated marketing plan for your writing/book? Do you see your writing as a business or a hobby? What are your fears this month?

Monday, 2 November 2015

My (not-so) Dreamy Office Space...

As I mentioned in my previous post, today was my first day back at work after a week and a half off. It didn't go as badly as I was expecting, but I can honestly say it hurt getting up at 6.30am again. One thing that I did decide to do on my time off is to try and become more serious about my writing - I'm not just talking about writing novels, I talking about freelance writing too. And today it just really hit home for me how much I would simply love to work from home and write all day for a living. But what's the one thing an aspiring writer/author/freelancer needs in order to be super-duper productive? A nice snuggly/jazzy/comfy home office of course!

At the moment, we're currently halfway through renovating our house (it sucks - trust me on this, if you're having building work done, go and see if you can kip on a friend's sofa for a few days - the dust alone will drive you mad) - we've got the stairs in, new kitchen lights and we've plastered over all of our horrible artex ceilings. So it's coming along, however, the one area that is being seriously neglected is our spare room.

I'm almost too embarrassed to show you a photo, but here it is in all it's glory:


Mmm, don't you just love the sight of brown, unpainted ceilings? As you can tell, my spare room is currently a dumping ground for everything we don't actually have a proper place for yet.

However, it's now my mission to ensure that my spare room will be transformed into a place of beauty, calm and serenity (unless of course, I'm listening to classic rock or something on Spotify). So here's a kind of mood board of what my ideal home office space would look like, if I had a) the room and b) when I have the time/motivation to do up the spare room:

First of all I'd LOVE to line one of the walls with bookshelves - obviously so I could go and browse my collection for inspiration, not just procrastination...I also love the colour scheme used in this office - I'm a sucker for pale pastel/country colours and this blue would make a really relaxing workspace. The sofa would also be amazing to have, if I needed a break from the computer screen, without having to go downstairs and resist the temptation of TV. 

Again, I primarily chose this photo for the colours. It looks beautifully calming - and the table for the teapot and cakes is a must for any writer too. I especially love how this office is clearly outside. If I had the money, I'd definitely build my own separate office cabin (or buy a shepherd's hut) at the bottom of the garden, so I could look out over the fields as I write. Although my budget sadly won't allow for that, I do like the white desk and the desk lamp, so perhaps I can incorporate some of this design into my own office after all.

I adore Cath Kidston, and this whole set-up just reminded me of her designs, and I knew I had to include it. I'm still in two minds about what colour to paint the spare room, but I am strongly leaning towards a pale pink - I don't tend to wear pink much at all, but I find it to be an incredibly calming colour on walls. I love this wallpaper and how the desk lamp matches in with the decor. The bookcase is a must-have, as are the storage boxes (for the stack of notes/notepads I've accumulated over the years), and I particularly like the fancy pin board, where I could plan out my latest novel in all it's glory. 

Okay, so I don't actually like all the filing cabinets in this particular office, but I do like the colours - I like how calming (are you noticing a theme here? Writers need to remain calm AT ALL TIMES) the white is, but the pops of bold colour really make it personal.

And finally, I'd love to have a swinging bubble chair just casually hanging from my office ceiling (for guests to sit on obviously, not just so I can take a nap...), and I absolutely adore the brightly coloured rug in the second photo - I think it really makes it stand out. So if all else fails and I have no space to build my bookcases, maybe I'll just paint the whole room white and get a really bright rug instead. Sorted!

Overall, I guess I'd just love my office space to be calm (there's that key word again), but also a place that'll encourage creativity, be full of light and most of all, make you want to stay there and work. After all, that's the key to being a good writer - actually staying at your desk and writing.

This blog post was inspired by the fab people over at WeWork, a community of shared office spaces across the world. If you're looking for a space outside of your own home, feel free to check out WeWork to see if they're in your area. They've got shared office space locations all over the world and offer all sorts of amenities, benefits and discounts to freelancers, startups, remote teams, and more. You can read more about WeWork and their mission here

Do you have a home office? What's it like? Do you enjoy working there? What would your ideal home office space look like?

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Happy NaNoWriMo day!

Today is the 1st November, which means not only is Christmas (and my birthday) now only mere weeks away, it's also the start of NaNoWriMo!

For those of you who are new to writing, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month, and the idea is that by midnight of the 30th November, you'll have written 50,000 words. Its a tough task, but definitely achievable. If you're just getting started with your writing, I would highly recommend giving it a go - it's invaluable in terms of teaching you about vital it is to write every day (or at least, getting into the habit of writing regularly), as well as giving you the opportunity to reach out and connect with fellow writers all over the world. If you'd like to know more, check out the NaNoWriMo website here.

Although I love the concept behind NaNoWriMo, this year I've decided not to officially participate. However, I will be there in spirit if not in person - I'm going to attempt to get the bulk of my latest WIP down on paper, as well as maybe try and get another project off the ground, but we'll see how my WIP goes first.

Also, I just thought I'd give you all a heads up - I'll be making a few changes to my blog/other social media sites over the coming week, one of which being (provided it all goes to plan and I don't mess it up) my blog URL will be changing. At some point over the next couple of days, it'll be changing to So this is just a warning in case your can't get onto my blog for a day or two (because knowing me, it'll go wrong somehow) - but fingers crossed everything will be up and running by IWSG on Wednesday!

So that's it! At the moment I'm just trying to tackle my huge to-do list that I wrote while on holiday last week, as well as mentally preparing myself to go back to work tomorrow after a week and a half off.

Happy Sunday everyone!

Are you taking part in NaNowriMo this year? Why/why not? Do you use a custom domain name, and did you find it easy to set up? Let me know!