How are we all feeling? What’s the situation where you are?
I hope June was kind to you, for me it was much the same. In the UK everything is slowly starting to open back up but I still very rarely go anywhere. To me everything seems so strange and alien, and I doubt we will get back to ‘normal’ any time soon. There is even talk of my local area being at risk of returning to a lockdown situation, so I’m just going to continue as I have been and keep our family as protected as possible.
I didn’t do any writing during July, not new material anyway. As promised, I have been working on organising my projects better. I still have a way to go but, by looking through my old story bibles and updating all of the information, I have come up with an idea for the future that I think some of you will love. All I can say for now is, watch this space.
I did manage to do a few little jobs around the house, one of which was updating my desk with some self adhesive film. It was originally white but had turned a nasty yellow colour from the sun and was peeling badly in places. I really started to hate sitting there, but now I love it and I jump at any opportunity to work at my computer. What do you think?
For those that are interested, it didn’t cost a lot of money, I think I bought it from B&M. It also wasn’t very difficult, it just required a lot of patience.
Now we are into July, what plans do you have? Do you have any goals or a burning desire to learn something new?
For me, July brings with it another round of Camp NaNoWriMo. I often call this the laid back relative of National Novel Writing Month, where I get to choose my own goals but still have the support and camaraderie of other writers and creatives cheering each other on.
With the characters of Sorceress of Flame seeming to be hiding out in their own lockdown, I’ve decided to turn my attention to another project for now, the Don of Avery.
This is a working cover and title but, as you can tell, it is a very different story and setting to the Divine Prophecy series.
The thing is, I’ve already written the first draft but there are a few extra scenes and chapters that I want to add before it goes through any major edits.
Unfortunately this won’t be released until after Sorceress of Flame, and Tory’s story has reached a conclusion, but I wanted to give you a heads up that there is still a lot more to come from me.
So, July I aim to complete 7,000 words, as well as finish a book I just started, and write a review for another I’ve recently finished. Home wise, I’m not pressuring myself to do anything other than get through each day with my sanity intact. I have just started the Zombie Run equivalent of Couch to 5k, I managed my second run today, so I also want to try and complete that and cut down on the cakes. I was enjoying all the baking to pass the time, my waistline not so much.
As a side note, I’m gradually trying to get my butt in order to start a regular newsletter. When I say regular I mean maybe once a month, I promise I’m not organised enough to do it any more often than that, so you won’t be inundated. I’m not sure when it will start yet but, please sign up below and you will receive all of my news straight to your inbox.
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Anyway, I think I’ve probably gone on too long now, so I’d better leave you to get on with the rest of your day.
Our June Q&A is with author, Julia Scott. I’ve been a follower of Julia’s on Instagram for a couple of years now, since I became more active on the platform. Her feed always looks so organised and pretty, you really should take a look.
I’ve had her novel, The Mirror Souls, in my TBR pile for a while and finally got around to it during lock-down. Take a look at my review here. Julia is multi talented as she also has a formatting and logo creation business. I would highly recommend these services as, if you’ve taken a look inside my own book (Sorceress of Truth) you will see her handiwork first hand. She really has a way of bringing the pages to life.
Anyway, back to the Q&A, and here’s a little bio.
Julia Scott is a British author, whose goal is to take you out of ‘regular life’ and teleport you to new worlds and alternate futures through her writing. The Mirror Souls is her debut novel, and like many sci-fi and fantasy books, it started off as a dream.
In her ‘other’ life, Julia lives in Essex, England with her husband and two children. She spends her time mum-ing, writing, prettifying books (via Evenstar Books), graphic designing, singing, and digging or planting stuff up in the garden without really knowing what she’s doing.
Getting to Know You
What motivated you to become an indie author? I spent lots of time at the beginning of my journey researching whether or not I wanted to walk the path of traditional publishing or not. Ultimately, I decided to become an indie author right now, because I was impatient and didn’t want to wait years for my book to make its way to print! I also wanted more creative control over my book. That’s not to say I’d never consider traditional publishing in the future. You never know what’s going to happen…
When you’re not writing, how do you spend your time? I’m a mum, so all of the things that come along with that take up a fair amount of my time! I love to sing, plant pretty things in the garden, game, and read of course. I’ve recently discovered audiobooks and doing diamond art at the same time as a fun pastime; it really pulls me out of the real world for a while.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you? It’s probably the response from readers. Not from an egotistical point of view, but just knowing when my stories have brought someone joy, or made them think, or just given them some time out of the stress of life – it’s a great feeling.
The Writing Process
What is your writing process? When I wrote The Mirror Souls, I generally had no clue what I was doing. I just wrote and wrote and wrote without any kind of direction. It worked out pretty well, even if I did need to change some (many!) things afterwards! However, with the second and third book in the trilogy, things are having to be pulled together in a much more structured way. I usually plot in sections though, rather than a whole book at once, because the ideas come to me as I go along. Or just before I’m about to go to sleep!
How do you get inspired to write? Us writers can’t help but be inspired to come up with new story ideas. A book outside of The Mirror Souls trilogy that I’m looking forward to writing is a sci-fi, and came from the question ‘what if’? And The Mirror Souls came from that exact same question. I love ‘what ifs’, and I encourage other writers to think about them as much as possible, not just in their writing but also in the business of publishing books. Dream big!
What’s your advice for aspiring writers? Take every piece of ‘writing advice’ with a pinch of salt. Not every method will suit everyone. Listen to those who are successful and learn from them, but ultimately, everyone’s journey will look different. Just be you.
What are your five favorite books, and why? Don’t make me choose just five! That’s so harsh! I’m a fan of series so they’ll be chosen as a bunch of books rather than just one. I don’t care if that’s cheating or not… (Don’t worry Julia, I would do exactly the same! – Jodie)
Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling (all books) – these books got me back into reading as a teenager, during a time where I was very stressed with school and health issues. They took me out of the real world and showed me a hidden one that was full of fun and adventure. They’ll always hold a special place in my heart.
A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas (all three books, not the novella, haha!) – not many books can make me burst into tears but these books managed to several times. There are things I don’t love about this series, but they were trumped by the things I did love.
Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor – this book was outside of my comfort zone, but I’m so glad I gave it a go. Not only was it addictive reading, it was beautifully written.
Matched (the trilogy) by Ally Condie – this is a dystopian trilogy that really stuck with me over the years, one that I think back on and want to re-read again.
The Dark Wood by Sydney Mann – this is a book I found from a fellow indie author, and I absolutely loved it! I’m a sucker for a love triangle!
As a side note, I really wanted to pick the Divergent trilogy by Veronica Roth, but I hated the third book with a passion, haha! So I had to sideline it.
How do you discover the books you read? At the moment, I mostly pick up ideas for my next reads from Instagram, especially since becoming an indie author! Other than that, I’ll trawl the YA shelves in the library to see what jumps out at me.
What books are on your reading list this year? Crescent City by Sarah J. Maas is top of the list! I want to read Aurora Rising by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff. I have a HUGE amount of books on my TBR list by indie authors, so I need to get reading!
The Mirror Souls
Like the rest of the Gaian race, Alana’s life is ruled by the Avalon, the superior race who once created Earth and returned to reclaim it after humanity brought it to the brink of destruction. Because of the Avalon, every Gaian faces the risk of being moved from Region to Region, over and over, with no warning. Alana has no place to call home.
Fearing that she may be resigned to this life of control forever, the opportunity to explore the world outside of her Region is literally dropped into Alana’s pocket in the form of a small silver device. Taking a leap of faith and teleporting to the unknown, Alana must discover who is pulling the strings in her life and why. But in her quest for answers and freedom, she’s thrown headfirst into a hidden battle for humanity alongside a boy whose life was destined to be entwined with hers from the start.
With the secret of who she really is starting to unravel and abilities she didn’t know she had rising to the surface, she becomes a commodity to whatever faction can keep her in one place.
But others around her are carrying secrets, too, and Alana must decide who to trust before she can change the fate of all the races.
What inspired you to write The Mirror Souls? The plot for The Mirror Souls came from a dream I had about two soul mates who didn’t know about each other, and one was given a teleportation device so that they could travel across the world to find them. And of course the dream had a ‘bad guy’ which was the alien race who had reclaimed earth who were trying to stop them getting together. But that was about it, I had to fill the rest of the detail in! I sent a text message to a friend saying I’d had this dream that would make a great story for a book or movie, and she told me to get writing!
Is there going to be a follow up to The Mirror Souls? My plan for The Mirror Souls is for it to be a trilogy. Book two is in progress and will likely be published around October/November 2020.
The Mirror Souls had been on my book shelf for a while. I’ve always loved the cover, that’s one of the things that drew me in, that and the fact it is written by Julia Scott. Julia was the formatter for my own book and she is a genuinely lovely person, so I wanted to support her any way I could. I admit, sci-fi isn’t my thing, nor is dystopian fiction if I’m honest, but something kept telling me that this was different, and boy was I right!
If I say sci-fi and the first image that springs to mind is laser guns and men in white plastic suits, then think again. Same for the dystopian setting, it’s not all about burning buildings and sparse landscapes. The Mirror Souls is in fact set hundreds of years after Earth’s downfall. It’s had time to recover from the damage that human’s imparted on the great planet, but we are no longer trusted with the keys to this wagon.
Ruled by a consortium of other races, which you would call aliens, we join the main character, Alana, and her family in an area that appears to be a part of the UK. Earth has been divided into regions and areas that have corresponding numbers so, while Julia drops in the occasional name of a country that we know, she does an amazing job of setting the scene so there is no doubt which part of the world we are in. And, whats more, she does it so subtly. All elements of world building are drip fed throughout the book so you never feel overwhelmed with new information, or left confused because you don’t know enough.
What I really loved were the characters themselves. You really get a feel for who these people are – their opinions, their struggles – and you find yourself feeling every rise, and fall, and reveal as they might. There are plenty of mysteries to be uncovered along the way, with some surprising outcomes.
There is something so heartwarming and comforting about The Mirror Souls, it’s hard to put your finger on. For me, I think part of that is the story revolves around the people and their relationships, rather than the other way around. I’d also say, being set in the YA/NA bracket has really complimented the novel too. It’s an easy read, the language isn’t overly complicated, and you’ll find yourself drawn in to the point where hours pass without you noticing. I had a really hard time putting it down.
It’s safe to say that I am hooked on The Mirror Souls and can’t wait for the second installment. I suffered with a serious book hangover when I got to the end, staring at the last page for a good amount of time with thoughts of ‘what the hell?’, ‘that can’t be the end!’, ‘where’s the rest of it?’ and ‘Julia can’t do this to me!’.
Now I’m over the initial slump, I do find myself on occasion thinking back over the book and daydreaming about what may happen next. All I know is that a mysterious Dray features quite heavily in my version.
A great, easy read that will leave you wanting so much more!
For your copy of The Mirror Souls, head to Amazon and keep up with Julia Scott on Instagram.
It’s safe to say my creativity has taken a nose dive and I’m struggling to find the motivation, and time, to sit down and write. To be fair, I can’t just blame it on our current situation. I often struggle to write at this time of the year as I have so many other things pulling for my attention, like making the house and garden clean, tidy, and an enjoyable place to be. The hot weather doesn’t help either.
Surely I can’t be the only writer to think that writing is more of an Autumn/Winter activity? Those moments when you lock yourself in your office, or bedroom, or anywhere remotely cosy, with a cup of your favourite hot drink and a blanket over your legs as you hide from the wind and rain. Or, when you are all wrapped up and find yourself in a dark corner of a coffee shop where you can be alone and let your mind wander. Those are the stolen hours and minutes when I am at my best as a writer.
From my target of 15,000 words towards Sorceress of Flame, I managed just over 5,000. I had to stop. The words just weren’t coming, my characters had abandoned me. They too had gone into their own lock down, so I stepped away and didn’t attempt to write for a few weeks, and then something happened.
Years ago, as a teen, I had written the beginnings of a story based around the Formula 1 community. I’d come across it recently when checking through some old memory sticks and, wow, what was I thinking? It was terrible! I can say, hand on heart, that my writing is a million times better, but the idea of an F1 based story kept gnawing at me. Then, like a phoenix from the ashes or, perhaps more accurately, a leviathan from the drain water of the shower I was taking, a whole new story line came to me.
Within a few days I had worked out some back story, and had enough of a clue as to where these characters were going, that I had an itch that needed to be scratched. If you’ve never been a creative, and in particular a writer, it’s hard to put into words. You have this burning desire to sit down and get the words out, either by hand or on a computer. Your hands almost twitch to just get on with it, and all these scenes and conversations keep running through your mind, stretching the seams and bursting to get out.
Anyway, I ended up writing the first 2,500 words. It’s not a lot, but it was enough just to calm the beast. I really don’t want another project. If you saw everything I was working on, I’m sure a lot of you would slam the door and run far, far away. I have a separate 3 book series in progress, along with an accompanying novella, a children’s book, a fantasy, a thriller, a murder mystery, and now this F1 based romance (to name but a few) all at different stages. For some reason this seems to suit my chaotic way of working, but I really need to have words with myself and finish something soon.
So what does this mean for June? Well, firstly I’m going to try and organise myself and my research a bit better. I want to try and make sure that everything tied to each novel is together. Ideally I would love to finish the first draft of Sorceress of Flame, but I know that’s asking a lot in the current climate. For now, I think my best course of action is to just take it as it comes. If I feel like writing, I’ll write. If I feel like reading, or painting, or baking, or gardening, then I’ll do those.
Now isn’t the time to get angry and frustrated with myself, and that goes for you too. We are dealing with so much already, let’s try not to pressure ourselves. Enjoy each day as it comes. Spend time with our family, and be thankful that they are safe. If you have the capacity to help and give to others, then do so, but remember that you are important too.