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The Masks We Wear (and how I co-wrote a story with 174 other writers!)

Hello lovely readers! Spring is just around the corner; the lighter evenings are definitely lifting my mood! The snow here in the East Midlands of England went as soon as it came, but no matter. At least we had a little bit!

In today’s post, I’ll be explaining a little more about my most recent publishing endeavour: The Masks We Wear! What makes this book particularly special is that it was a worldwide collaborative project that incorporated 175 writers, writing one page each, until one beautiful story came out of it!

It’s a lovely thing to be able to hold books with your words in them!

As for the how:

Sometime in 2020, I was followed on my Twitter by an account called The Next Page Book project. Intrigued by this peculiar name, I had a little snoop through the account, and eventually stumbled upon their website. There, they outlined their premise: one story, co-written by over 100 writers, each contributing a page. All they needed from me at that point was an email address and a short bio. I didn’t give it too much of a thought before I submitted: I knew I needed to be a part of this!

Not too long afterwards, I was contacted by a young woman named Samantha Pearlman, the creator of The Next Page Book project. She graciously accepted me as part of this amazing project!

Once Samantha had accepted enough writers to the project, she sent out more correspondence as to how this project would work. She, as the primary author and publisher of the book, wrote the first page of the story. Once she was finished, she sent the page to the next writer, who read through the page and added the next page. These two pages were sent to the next writer, and so on and so forth. I was number eight in the list, so when it was my turn to contribute a page, I had seven prior pages to read before adding my own.

I was quite fortunate being so early on in the list and only having to read seven pages. My memory’s so bad, I fear that if I was much further down the list, I would have forgotten key points of the story so far! Maybe the writers at the other end kept notes, haha..

I finished page eight back in 2020, so this book has been three years in the making! And now, it is finally finished and available to buy! I love how much the story has progressed from my page!

The Next Page Book was renamed The Masks We Wear. In this story, we follow Sid, a teenager going back to school after a year of isolation in the midst of COVID 19. Soon, she meets a girl called Ruby, not knowing of the shocking and convoluted threads that bind them together. This is a story that tackles identity, mental health, love, family, as well as challenging both the physical and mental masks we wear.

As a contributor to this project, I was able to read the story ahead of it’s publication. It’s such a beautiful story, and actually thought provoking at times. I’m so, so honoured to have been able to lend some of my words to make such a wonderful story!

Many thanks to Samantha for letting me be a part of this. Every publication, no matter how small, no matter how many people it reaches, means so much to me! Good luck to anything else you have planned for the future, and the same to my fellow Next Page Book writers!

The Masks We Wear: The Next Page Book Project is available on Amazon. I hope you consider giving this beautiful story a chance! And as always, remember to rate and review to help spread the word.

That’s all from me today. I hope you’re as intrigued by The Next Page Book project as I was. Writing for this project was such a pleasure!

Sophie, signing off!

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Crow Calls Volume V releases! (and other general updates)

Hello lovely readers! It’s been far too long since I last posted. I hope you all had a wonderful time over the holiday season, and that winter isn’t being too harsh on you. But don’t fret! Spring is just around the corner!

My first bit of news I’d love to share with you is the publication of Crow Calls Volume Five. Yes, once again I am beyond thrilled to announce that I’ve had more poems published by the wonderful Quill and Crow Publishing House!

Very proud me with my copy!

As always, these are available to buy through Quill and Crow’s website, or through Amazon. Be sure to rate and review, it really helps small presses!

In other writing news, more of my writing is being published at the beginning of March, and this time, it’s prose instead of poetry! But more of that when the time draws closer.. (although if you follow my socials, you probably know what it is anyway, haha..)

Back to poetry. Now, if you’ve had a thorough gander through my little site, then you might have read some of my Overwatch Odes (over on the Poetry page if you’re interested). Originally I gave myself a passion project of completing a poem for every single character from Overwatch. However, it has been quite a while since I last wrote one, and I did wonder whether or not the spark would come back for them…

Not too long ago, I was sent a very interesting email by a young man called Ryan. For privacy’s sake, I won’t divulge what our correspondence entailed, but I will say that I was left feeling extremely validated as a poet, and it’s made me want to carry on my Overwatch Odes! So hopefully I’ll have a new one finished for you soon!

Big shout out to Ryan for this confidence boost; stay awesome, and best of luck in your endeavours!

Oh, and I’m also on Instagram now! My handle is soph_brookes if you want to follow me there.

That about wraps everything I wanted to share with you for now. More publishing news to come soon, and hopefully another Overwatch Ode.

Sophie, signing off!

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Haunted: A Crow Showcase releases! (and Dear Hypnos update)

Hello lovely people! It’s been a while since I last posted, I do apologise. Life is still pretty hectic for me, most days I feel like I just don’t have much time for writing. Maybe it will calm down eventually? Who knows..

Anyway, a small update from me.

Firstly, I’m very happy to announce that I am once again a published poet! The wonderful Quill & Crow Publishing House have recently released another collective endeavour, called Haunted: A Crow Showcase! This anthology is slightly different from the Crow Calls volumes, as instead of just being poetry, it also features short stories!

Many of the beloved Crows returned to lend their talent to this anthology. Amidst the stories and poems, you’ll also find Haunted By You, a poem by yours truly!

As always, I want to thank Quill & Crow for featuring my work. Every poem out into the world is a literal dream come true for me. Always honoured, and always grateful!

Be sure to check out Haunted: A Crow Showcase! And remember to rate and review, as these helps our precious indie books get further out into the world!

And now, for an update on Dear Hypnos.

…yeah.

So, with how busy life seems at the minute, I really can’t guarantee a release date. I had hoped to get it released last winter, but then I decided to move out into my own place, and that took up all my energy and time. I’m still quite adamant about self publishing, but, I’m becoming more and more open to querying now. The more help I can get with this, the better. So..if you happen to know any indie presses looking for insomnia-based poetry…hit me up?

So, that’s that. It’s still very much coming out at some point..I just don’t know when. If any of you are still interested in reading, I honestly thank you for your patience. Dear Hypnos WILL come..I just don’t know when.

That’s all for now. Hopefully, I won’t leave it this long before having some more writing news for you.

Sophie, signing off!

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Dear Hypnos: Latest Progress

Hello lovely people! It’s been a fair while since I last posted, I hope all is well. It’s been a hectic year for myself and my partner, and we’re currently in the process of FINALLY moving in together. Because of this, writing has been virtually non-existent. However, what little free time I’ve managed to grasp, I’ve been using wisely..

If you’re following my writing journey, then you’ll recall that I have a poetry collection that I hope to release in the winter. Dear Hypnos follows my struggles with insomnia.

After a few failed attempts at designing a cover for Dear Hypnos, I was planning on leaving it in the capable hands of a cover artist. This turned out not to really work out for me. Also, with a lot of my income going into house/moving stuff, I couldn’t say for certain if I’d have the money spare to hire someone. I decided to give it another go.

I finally settled on something I fell in love with. My previous attempts weren’t quite capturing what the collection as a whole represented, but I’ve now remedied that. Hopefully, you’ll think so too!

I’m still navigating the foreign waters of KDP, so I can’t say for certain when a full cover reveal for Dear Hypnos will be here. I want to at least have a better understanding of the publishing side of things before I reveal too much!

That’s all for now, I hope the sneaky peek intrigues you!

Sophie, signing off!

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Crow Calls Volume Three Releases!

Hello lovely readers! A small update to let you know that Crow Calls Volume Three is now available! Two more of my poems are now out in the wild, I hope you enjoy them!

..that being said, there are currently some issues regarding international paperbacks. Our lovely Mother of Crows, Cassandra, is currently working with Amazon to try and get this fixed. So, if you’re outside the US, it’s eBook only for now, hopefully not for much longer!

Volume Three!

Regardless of the issues, I do hope you pick up Crow Calls Volume Three soon! If you do, please consider leaving a review on Amazon and Goodreads, it makes a world of difference to small presses such as Quill & Crow, and helps get our books further afield!

That’s all for now. Sophie signing off!

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Continuing Dear Hypnos (Hiatus End)

Hello, lovely people! It’s been a while, but I’m back with a little update on Dear Hypnos:

(This is just a copy and paste job from a Tweet thread I shared on Twitter, so if you follow me, you may have already seen this! Still, I wanted to update any blog-goers who may be passing by..)

Some of you already know this, but I’ll repeat myself for those who don’t. For most of this year, I’ve been working on my debut poetry collection, exploring my struggle with insomnia. I finished editing it a month ago.

However, I have yet to do anything with it since.

I found that, the longer I left it, the less I actually wanted to publish it. It was causing me so much stress, just fueling my anxiety and depression further. So I ignored it.

Until now.

I’ve decided I’ve had enough of feeling sad and sorry for myself. I will pull myself out of this rut, and I’ll publish this damn poetry collection.

I just want to thank everyone for being patient with me. I’m grateful that so many of you have shown interest in my work. So hopefully, soon, Dear Hypnos will get a cover reveal, and then a release date. Just please be patient a while longer. I love you all.

That’s all now. Sophie, signing off!

Publishing Anxiety (My WIP Update)

Hello lovely people! It’s been a while, how are you? I hope the warmer weather isn’t being too harsh on you!

So, as you may be aware if you follow either my site or my Twitter, I’ve been writing a poetry collection centred around my struggle with insomnia, which I have named Dear Hypnos. I am pleased to announce that I have reached my 50 poem quota! Editing aside, Dear Hypnos is complete!

..I thought I would be more excited about the next stage of the process. Once editing is done, I’ll begin research as to how one actually self-publishes a book. And..to be completely honest, the more I think about it, the less I actually want to do it.

It’s not that I think it’ll be hard. I know and am acquainted with many indie authors now, so I’m starting to familiarise myself with the process. I have two fears for this next step, and they’re contradicting themselves.

Basically, I’m terrified of putting myself out there, but at the same time, I’m worried about what happens AFTER I put myself out there..

I’m going to be honest. I’m not built for this. Whoring myself out on social media when I don’t like it, desperately drip-feeding information about Dear Hypnos to keep everyone interested, constantly reminding everyone that I exist and that I have a book coming out.

But then..what is my other choice? If I don’t keep up with all this, then I don’t get engagement, and then my book won’t sell.

This is all sounds very negative and one-sided, and that I only go on Twitter for future consumers. This isn’t true at all. That’s just one side of it. I adore the genuine connections I have made on Twitter, like the found family I have with the Dark Poet Society. Those engagements I have no trouble with, I enjoy talking with my fellow Crows. It’s just the marketing side of it. It’s exhausting.

And then my other fear. Say I get over my social anxiety enough to publish Dear Hypnos and get it out there. There is literally no guarantee that anyone is going to like it. This could be the worse poetry ever written, and people are going to tell me that. Am I going to be able to handle that? No, I hate criticism, even though it’s integral to the indie author!

I realise I will never please everyone with Dear Hypnos, I’m not even trying to. But..the idea that it might actually be a pile of rubbish is making me not want to publish.

It’s still in the stewing process. Who knows, I might get to the editing part and realise that all these worries are just my anxiety being horrible to me, and that, actually, Dear Hypnos is good. And different! So many people have commented on how insomnia-cased poetry sounds interesting!

So..there you go. Will I end up publishing? If I don’t, nobody else will, and isn’t that what I’ve been working towards since I was eight years old? I’ve got to be brave, I guess. Take the next step.

That’s all I have for you today. I apologise that it’s been somewhat ranty and negative, but I needed to get this out there. Perhaps some of you have any advice for me? I’d love to hear it!

I’ll see you soon. Sophie, signing off!

Crow Calls Volume Two Releases!

Hello lovely people! Just popping on to say that Crow Calls Volume Two is now available!

I am now officially a twice-published poet, and I’m so very grateful to have been given such an opportunity. My gratitude towards Quill & Crow is unending!

Volume Two saw the addition of ten new poets to our Dark Poet Society, here’s a snap of us altogether!

Dark Poet Society..the crows!

It was rather gratifying being able to add yet another thing to my Books page..my portfolio is slowly growing! All evidence and validation that I am indeed a good writer, and believe me, sometimes I need it. Be gone, anxiety!

Anyway, that’s all I have for you today. Please check out Crow Calls Volume Two! Your support means the world to indie authors such as myself, and small publishing presses like Quill & Crow!

See you soon. Sophie signing off!

Crow Calls (How I Became Validated As A Poet)

Hello, lovely readers! With Crow Calls Volume Two dropping in a few days, I thought I’d take the opportunity to go into more detail Crow Calls Volume One, and how I came to be a part of it!

I’m going to level with you. Poetry was not something I ever envisioned being part of my writing career. Whenever I daydreamed of making it as an author, it was always a full-length novel I held aloft in my hands. It was always a hefty paperback I was being asked to sign. But writing poetry? Only five months ago, writing poetry was alien to me.

And..to be honest, it still is! I don’t really know what I’m doing with poetry. I don’t follow forms, I don’t follow metre, and most of the time, I don’t even rhyme. I’m now aware that what I write is free verse. Since getting into poetry, however, I have read lots of poetry theory, and have started experimenting with different types. I’m actually quite smitten with the sestina, I’ve written quite a few of those now!

..I realise I’ve digressed. So yes, poetry was completely alien to me. What changed?

If you’re a writer on Twitter, then you may be aware of #vss, which stands for Very Short Story. Every day there is a word prompt, and you have to write a story, within the 280 character limit, using that prompt. I had seen a few of my mutuals taking part in this, and when I asked them about it, they told me it was great for promoting inspiration and productivity. So, I decided that for my New Year’s resolution for 2021, I would do a VSS post every single day. 

Taking part in #vss led me to stumble upon a similar concept, this time with the hashtag #crowcalls. This time, it was for dark, gothic themed poetry, hosted by Quill & Crow Publishing House. Well, that was just perfect. A short story every day, but now gothic? Yes please!

So I ended up adding a crowcalls post alongside my VSS post. I adored doing them, still do! Some days, they’re all that give me joy. This went on for a few weeks, and then, out of the blue, I got a DM from Quill & Crow. They explained that they were compiling a poetry anthology from #crowcalls posts across social media, and asked if I would be interested.

This..this was a true pinch me moment. An actual publishing house..liked my poems?? I was actually doing something right?? So, of course I accepted! And have not stopped thanking them since!

Eventually, this led to me meeting my fellow crow calls poets, now known as the Dark Poet Society. Now that I know them all a little better, and have seen more examples of their talent..I’m honestly flawed that I’m part of the Crow Family. These wonderful people are just so so amazing, I’m so honoured to be among their ranks!

Crow Calls Volume One came out, and I’m still riding the high of my first publication. This poetry collection meant so much to me..I was worthy to call myself a writer, a poet!

And now, as quickly as Crow Calls Volume One was established, there is also Volume Two. In the space of but a few months, I have achieved my ultimate goal of being published before I’m 30..twice!

So, once again, thank you so so much to Quill & Crow Publishing House for this opportunity, you helped this small town girl’s big dream of making it as an author. Also thank you to all the poets in the Dark Poet Society, I am so very blessed to know such talented, beautiful souls.

Alrighty, after that feels fest, I’m going to go. I hope you enjoyed reading, and I shall see you soon!

Sophie signing off!

My Insomnia Work In Progress (And Why I’m Struggling To Name It!)

So..I actually have a lot of works in progress. Will I divulge just how many? Hmm..maybe someday. Today, however, I’m focusing on the work in progress I am actually working on.

The idea of an insomnia-centred poetry collection came to me when, surprise surprise, I was struggling to sleep one night. If you’re familiar with my poetry, or indeed just my writing in general, then you know it’s quite emotion heavy. I tap into myself and bleed words onto the page until I feel better. Naturally, on the nights where my insomnia is particularly bad, my emotions are so stark and turbulent. I needed an outlet..so why not write poetry about it?

I actually had a working title in mind before I started writing the collection. For a while I listened to nature sounds to try and wind down, but it was something I only resorted to if it got to about five or six in the morning and I still wasn’t asleep. Listening to forest sounds one morning, my head latched onto this phrase: Forest Sounds At Six. Bam! I had myself a title!

…or did I??

I was so sure about Forest Sounds At Six, I’ve even designed the book cover! However, as I began writing the poems, a phrase and a concept kept popping up. It’s in the starting poem, it’s in the ending poem, and it appears in some other poems in the collection too. Dear Hypnos. I was imploring with the Greek god of sleep to help me, to please let me sleep..

Yeah. So I have two working titles. And two different covers..

And I honestly can’t choose between them! Forest Sounds At Six sounds like a peppy podcast, like something you’d listen to at six in the morning when you can’t sleep. But then there’s Dear Hypnos. That definitely sounds like it’s related to sleep, unlike the former.

So yeah. I’m about halfway through my insomnia collection, and I still don’t know which one I’ll choose in the end.

Either way, it’s coming along nicely. So keep your eye out for either Forest Sounds At Six or Dear Hypnos having a cover reveal soon!

That’s all from me for now. Sophie signing off!