TODAY ON THE BLOG I welcome Jennifer Joyce and her luscious new book The Mince Pie Mix-Up. I am delighted to have her here and hopefully her tale of success will motivate and inspire other writers (as well as me). So, here goes...
Hi Jennifer, thanks for agreeing to be interviewed on my blog! It’s great to have you here.
Hello and thank you for having me!
We first ‘met’ on Twitter last year and I have been delighted to follow your progression from self-published author to your recent deal with Carina (Congratulations, by the way!). I was going to do a piece on you as a ‘spotlight on a self-published author’ but as you are now a fully-fledged traditionally published writer, I will have to change the title! As someone who has been involved with both publishing routes, your experiences will be of interest to many of us writers. Shall we start from the beginning and work our way to The Mince Pie Mix-Up?
Thank you! And yes, that sounds like a good plan to me.
Can you tell me when you started writing?
I’ve always made up stories, scribbling them down on bits of paper and filling up notebooks when I was younger. When I was around ten, a teacher took us to our local library where a children’s author was doing a talk and I remember sitting there thinking this is what I want to do when I’m older. It hadn’t occurred to me before that I could write actual books.
You have self-published two novels, A Beginner’s Guide To Salad and Everything Changes But You.Tell me a little about the experience with those two books. Did you seek a traditional publisher or did you fancy going it alone from the beginning?
I’ve always wanted to go down the traditionally published route and I’d never planned to self-publish. But when I wrote and submitted A Beginner’s Guide To Salad to agents and received rejections (some were lovely, encouraging rejections but rejections all the same), I knew I couldn’t give up on it. I loved writing the book and I adore my main character, Ruth. I couldn’t shelve her so that’s when I decided to look into self-publishing. Ruth was going out into the world one way or another! As I’d already self-published my first novel, I did the same with Everything Changes But You.
I know you designed your own covers, how have you found doing everything yourself? What lessons have you learned and what have you enjoyed most about it?
I’ve had to learn everything from scratch as I had no idea how to design a cover. There was quite a bit of head-scratching when I first opened the program as it looks so complicated. Even the ‘helpful’ guide had me baffled! So I decided to jump in feet first and learn as I go. It seems that every time I open the program (I use Gimp, a free program that’s a lot like Photoshop) I learn something new! Although it can be frustrating at times when I can’t figure out how to get what’s in my head on the screen, I loved making the covers and even make them for the short stories I write for fun on my blog. I love playing around with images, colours and fonts until I find the one that fits.
Do you have any other books in your top drawer awaiting rescue or were these your first two book babies?
I’m not sure I want to even think about the monstrosities I wrote (and submitted) before A Beginner’s Guide To Salad. They were awful and won’t be seeing the light of day as they are far beyond rescue!
I see you have some short stories on your website, did these come before the books or were they something that you did later?
I wrote my first short story for my blog for Christmas 2011, when I was still writing and submitting to agents. It was just for fun but pressing submit on that first one was nerve-wracking! I like to put short stories on my blog at Halloween and Christmas as I love these times of year so it’s great to write about them.
Can you give me 5 bullet point tips for self-published writers?
How did the deal with Carina come about? You must be absolutely delighted!
I am stupidly delighted! I started writing The Mince Pie Mix-Up last November and was planning to self-publish it as I had with A Beginner’s Guide To Salad and Everything Changes But You but decided to take a chance and submit it to Carina as you don’t need to have an agent. I was stunned when I was offered a two-book deal with them.
Can you tell us a little about the book, without any spoilers of course!
The Mince Pie Mix-Up is a bit like a festive Freaky Friday. Judy and Calvin both think their other half has an easier life. Calvin works full-time for a mean-spirited boss who is constantly breathing down his neck while Judy ‘only’ works part-time at the local village tearoom. Judy bears the brunt of the childcare and wishes Calvin would help out more around the house. One night, they’re given the opportunity to swap lives over the festive period and they take it!
So, what’s next??
Carina will be publishing another romantic comedy early(ish) next year. The story revolves around Delilah James as she tries to find a date to take her oldest friend’s wedding.
Thanks Jennifer. The best of luck with all your books and I am looking forward to seeing what happens next!
Thank you so much for having me on your blog!
Jennifer has a lovely website over at www.jenniferjoycewrites.co.uk where you will find details of all her books and her Facebook and other sites. I follow her on Twitter via @Writer_Jenn.
Book Reviews: The Case of the Exploding Loo & The Case of the Exploding Brains by Rachel Hamilton
First up is The Case of the Exploding Loo, the first book in a developing series starring twelve year old Noelle Hawkins and her unusual family. You can probably tell by the title and the cover that this is a children's book and one that promises to be full of quirkiness and humour. The plot is centred around the apparent death of Noelle's wacky scientist father, who the police believe self-combusted whilst visiting a portaloo. But Noelle isn't convinced and sets about trying to uncover the truth about her father and the mysterious 'brain ray' he had been working on before the explosion.
This book moves at an engaging pace and I found it refreshing to read something which was pure fun, with pieces of science thrown in to add an extra layer of interest. It is written in a hugely entertaining style and the characterisation is extremely strong. Humorous illustrations complement the text and there is a series of 'clue boxes' which set out various important aspects of the investigation and help the reader to follow a plot which turns out to be more meaty than I expected. In my opinion, this is a terrific read for children. I know I would have absolutely adored it thirty years ago and it still gave me much pleasure now.
The Case of the Exploding Brains is the second book by Rachel Hamilton and follows on from The Case of the Exploding Loo, reviewed above. Once again Noelle Hawkins has a mystery to solve. This time it involves the seemingly impossible theft of a moon rock from the museum. But nothing is that straightforward for Noelle. It turns out that the moon rock isn't quite what it seems and needs to be recovered before it affects the brains of everyone who comes into contact with it. As if that wasn't enough, Noelle strongly suspects that her father is once again at the heart of the puzzle as his behaviour becomes increasingly bizarre.
As with its predecessor, this book is paced beautifully and engaged me from the start. If anything, I enjoyed it slightly more than the first one as the characters were familiar and had come together to form a team. This mystery involved more clues, more red-herrings and lots of fun. There is teamwork, deduction, humour and slap-stick comedy. What's not to like? I'm very much looking forward to the next installment and can only applaud Rachel for coming up with such off-the-wall, clever and well thought out stories. Great stuff.
I love most types of fiction - crime, mystery, fantasy. Oh, and historical fiction of course and middle-grade books and, well, you get the picture.
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