Monday 30 November 2015

The Z Files: Joanne Phillips ~ Aries

Astrology ~ a bit of fun, a load of rubbish, or something to take seriously?

I invited around 70 writers/bloggers to write a piece about how typical they are of their sign, and how its traits affect their writing life ~ if at all...

Has your favourite writer been featured yet?  Links to all previous posts at the end of this one :)

Today I'm delighted to welcome someone I've known online since shortly after I started this self-publishing lark, and whose huge success is well deserved ~ Aries light romance, contemporary fiction and cosy mystery writer, Joanne PhillipsJo's not only popular with the reading public but is also extremely helpful to other writers, sharing advice and her experiences on the self-publishing section of her site, on which you can also read about her Writers Workshop ~ it's all HEREHer very first novel, back in 2012, was the widely read Can't Live Without, and her latest, touching emotional drama Keeping Sam, has just been published.

Greetings, Jo, and please tell us about your Aries self!
Jo and Aquarius husband, Jez ~ more later!


Determined, a leader, strong, honest, straightforward, ready to voice opinion and a champion of the underdog... but can also be brusque, impatient, prejudiced, arrogant. 

"I grew up with an acute awareness of zodiac signs, and I’ve often wondered how many of my Aries qualities are innate and how many were influenced by the wonderful Linda Goodman books I absorbed as a teenager and young adult. Either way, I know that I am all the things listed above and many more - good and bad; every one of us has light and shade in our personalities."

"My determination has shown itself through the drive to self-publish six books since 2012, sacrificing nothing in quality along the way, absolutely adamant I would produce books that looked and felt the same as traditional ‘bookshop’ quality books. I go my own way, however, and wouldn’t dream of imposing these values onto other people. In the Aries profile above, the description ‘champion of the underdog’ is one I relate to - I am always ready to jump on a cause if I feel people are being treated unfairly. In the indie world, for example, there are regular attempts to ‘police’ self-publishing output (usually by those with their own books or products to sell), but I have argued against this in the past, even while striving for excellence in my own work. This apparent contradiction is quite typical for an Aries - it’s all very much “Be independent; don’t follow the crowd.” Everyone has the right to do their own thing - I’ve been known to argue for the principle of something, even when I don’t actually agree with it. I guess I just like a good argument! 

Sometimes an independent spirit can be quite isolating; I’m not a sociable person by nature, and I’m not sure how typical this is of an Aries woman. As it says in the description above, I am strong, and I can’t help but be honest - primarily with myself. I am tactful and sensitive too, however: my honesty is not the bracing, hurtful kind, which is a common misconception about honest people, I think. The worst kind of liars are the kind that believe their own lies. I can always tell if I’m not being 100% authentic in my life as I start to feel physically sick, and then I have to do something about it quickly!"

"Now for the negatives! Brusqueness comes from being impatient, and I’m certainly more impatient than most :) Arrogance isn’t a great quality, but I guess it is possible to come over this way occasionally when you appear to be confident in your own knowledge and abilities. As for prejudiced, I guess I do have a tendency to pre-judge situations - I think it’s the writer in me, in that I use my imagination to pre-think what a situation might be like. I never pre-judge people, though. I have become more humble as I’ve grown older and wiser - I think my Aries characteristics are softened now, whereas they were more brash and overt in my twenties and thirties."

"One Aries characteristic that isn’t mentioned very often is innocence. We are the babies of the zodiac. Everything is new to us, every experience seen with wide-eyed wonder. I’m often caught out by how cruel and calculating some people can be; with me what you see is what you get, and while I can be outspoken, I would never intentionally hurt someone. We Aries may be strong but we are also vulnerable - never more so than when we lay ourselves open to betrayal by those we trust. These wounds cut deep, and it’s taken me many years to learn not to be so trusting. In the self-publishing world I’ve been happy to give help and advice to many writers, and so far I’ve only been stabbed in the back once. Once was enough, though. It’s made me wary."

"I’ll finish by saying that my husband, who is a scientist and doesn’t believe in the zodiac at all, is a typical Aquarius, and that our partnership - Aries woman/Aquarius man - is everything Linda Goodman promised me it would be in her excellent book Love Signs all those years ago. I had been searching for him my whole life. I don’t think anyone else could put up with me, or bring out the best in me, the way he does. And whenever I get down, or feel overwhelmed, I remind myself of those positive Aries qualities I used to read about when I was a teenager and I remember why I wanted to emulate them as I grew into the woman I am today. Or did I already have them? I guess I’ll never know."

Jo, I love this piece!  I am sending it to my Aries sister to read as soon as it comes out, as she's been in a happy relationship with an Aquarius man for some years.  I love that you mentioned the 'childlike' thing - one of my favourite Ariens is Steven Tyler of Aerosmith; at the age of 68 he still displays that childlike wonder of which you spoke.  The babies of the zodiac, yes; I believe each sign represents an age of man.  Leo is your average 18 year old ~ stepping out in the world and enjoying everything on offer (yee-hah!).  And Aquarius is the 11th sign ~ of very old age and wisdom, when you've done everything and been everywhere you're ever likely to do.  Perhaps they keep Aries calm :)  Really makes me laugh about Linda Goodman's Love Signs, too - I had that book in my teens!

You can see all Jo's books HERE, and follow her on Twitter HERE.

Now.... two famous ram writers to go with Jo....

... the first one I've chosen is chick lit goddess Trisha Ashley ~ who actually appeared on The Z Files a few weeks ago!  You can read her piece HERE 

... and perhaps she's a bit childlike too ~ 
American Harper Teen bestseller, Sara Shepard


Sunday 29 November 2015

The Z Files: The New Romantics ~ Pisces, Cancer and Sagittarius/Ophiucus

Astrology ~ a bit of fun, a load of rubbish, or something to take seriously?

I invited around 70 writers/bloggers to write a piece about how typical they are of their sign, and how its traits affect their writing life ~ if at all...

Has your favourite writer been featured yet?  Links to all previous posts at the end of this one :)

A special three-in-one today!  Three romance writers, Lizzie, June and Adrienne, who, collectively, (with their friend Mags Cullingford) are known as The New Romantics.  You can find them all together at homeHERE and on Twitter HERE.

Now, let us meet them individually ~

First, the Pisces lady with her heart in the Highlands, Lizzie Lamb.  She's the author of lighthearted romcoms, the latest of which is Scotch on the Rocks.  You can read more of what she gets up to on her blog, and follow her on Twitter.

Now, please swim out of that loch and tell us about your Pisces self, Lizzie!

"When I'm a #good fish I am artistic, idealistic, imaginative, a dreamer, romantic (definitely!), and at times visionary.  As an indie author and self-publisher, I have learned to be adapatable and multi-talented - proofreading, editing, promoting of my novels on social media and always thinking of the next novel.  I hope I am popular; but when I want to pursue a course of action to its conclusion I can be as my grandmother described - a 'persistent little bugger', chipping away at peoples' resistance until I get what I want.  Or, as I see it, charming them into submission.  The heroine most like me in these circumstances is Charlee Montague in Boot Camp Bride.

When I'm a #bad fish I can appear remote, spaced out, living in my characters' world and holding imaginary conversations with them.  This leaves me feeling vague, other worldly, as if I've just woken up from a beautiful dreamI hate being dragged out of my writing to complete mundane tasks like cooking and cleaning.  However, conversely, I can't work if I'm surrounded by chaos and disorder - those two fish swimming in opposite directions, remember?  Although I am pretty goal orientated, I find it hard to make decisions.  In this mode, the heroine most like me is Ishabel Stuart in Scotch on the Rocks."

Luckily for me, the perfect match for a Pisces woman is a Virgo man - rooted, practical and loyal. Pisces is Virgo's opposite sign and, like moth to flame, Virgo men can't help but feel fascinated by the seemingly elusive fish.  My Virgo husband and I have been married for forty-four years, so it must be true that opposites do attract."

A more typical fish you couldn't find!  Who else could I choose for Lizzie's Piscean writing partner than wonderful Jilly Cooper, to whose work Lizzie's is sometimes likened?  For me, Jilly was the person who started the whole modern light romance/chick lit genre, in the 1970s.  My favourite was 'Prudence', and I know Lizzie's was 'Emily' ~ set in the Highlands! 

Next, a big hello to June Kearns, born under the sign of Cancer.  June writes light historical romance, and is currently working on a book set in 1960s London and California.  Her first publication was described as 'Jane Austen meets Zane Grey': The English Woman's Guide to the Cowboy; for the second she celebrated the flapper era in The 20s Girl, the Ghost, and all that Jazz.  All June's book news can be found HERE, and she scuttles out of her shell on a regular basis to appear on Twitter!

Please walk this way, June... sideways, if you must...

"I'm a Cancerian - and pretty much true to type!  Favourite postition: behind the shell, peering out (taking notes?).  A voyeur!  Helpful for a writer...

Family orientated?  Well, I married into a big Irish family and now have quite a sizeable one myself.  My Pisces husband (Terry's note: both water signs, great match!) calls the above picture of me, taken last month staring out over East bay, 'I left my heart in San Francisco'.  When our eldest son when there to work 10 years ago, that Tony Bennett record kept me boohooing for weeksI've a bit of a penchant for aunts and odd family eccentrics (fraught-in-plus-fours) in my stories, too.

Teacher:  I taught for a while BC (before children) and did supply AD (after subsequent financial dip).  Telling other people what to do, though, was knocked out of me a long time ago!"

"Self-obsessed?  Oh dear.  P'raps a bit.  It can be a nasty trait in an only child.  All those years spent contemplating your navel and thinking how to fulfil yourself in life.  Thankfully, marrying into a large family knocked that out of me.  It's pointless going away somewhere to sulk, if it takes hours before people realise you're missing and can be bothered to try and find you.  

Need too much reassurance?  Yes, yes, yes.  But this is not good!  Smacks of self-obsession again. I've been using horoscopes in my current WIP, and other bits of my own profile have seemed eerily accurate.

Ruled by an emotional, ever changing moon.  Yes!

My issues: cliquishness, cheapness, cattiness.  Oh, I say!  

Female friends are my life blood:  Ooh, they certainly are!  Adrienne and Lizzie for starters."

A famous writing partner for June?  I've chosen one of my all time favourites, Cancerian historical and theological novelist, Susan Howatch.

And finally....

....bringing up the New Romantic rear with oodles of fire sign glamour, here's Adrienne Vaughan, who welcomes you to her world of romance and adventure HERE, and on Twitter HERE She's the author of contemporary romances The Heartfelt Series, and is an adventurous Sagittarius! But that's not all....

Adrienne isn't just a centaur; she also sits within the 13th sign of OphiucusLet her tell you about it...  

"Many years ago I interviewed a jewellery designer who made custom pieces for rock bands and superstars.  Working on a collection of precious pendants featuring signs of the zodiac, he asked me my birthday and promptly decreed me Ophiucus, the 13th sign, a constellation which sits inside Sagittarius over a few days in late November.  Represented by a serpent snaking round a sword, it's the sign of the Wounded Healer and is still used today by the medial profession.

Fascinated as I was by this revelation, I like to think I exhibit traits of both Ophiucus and SagittariusOphiucus is a seeker of peace and harmony, reaching for the stars figuratively and literally and is reknowned as a healer.  I practice Reiki and, having learned how to treat humans, went on to work with horses, so maybe that's the centaur in me!

Sagittarians are - allegedly - frank, courageous and generous, enjoy intellectual pursuits, and love travel.  I can identify with these traits; I love to travel and totally infazed if a plane I'm to catch is delayed, thoroughly enjoying the experience of sitting in an airport writing for hours on end.

I once had to write the Horoscople column for a magazine I worked on, or the space would have been empty with many disgruntled readers.  I quickly invested in Linda Goodman's Sun Signs and linked traits to family and friends.  Some still say they were the most accurate horoscopes they ever read!  Resourceful?  Another trait, methinks!"

I saved a lady from the Top Table of light romance authors for Adrienne - super Sagittarius, Sophie Kinsella!

Many thanks to Lizzie, June and Adrienne! 

Coming next?   
Must be something about the sign ~ another bestselling Aries!

Previous posts (click on the name for the article)
Leo and Aries: Terry Tyler and Julia Proofreader
LeoRose Edmunds, Alex Johnson, Anne Goodwin
AriesTrisha Ashley, Cynthia Harrison
GeminiNorah Colvin, Haydn Lee, John Privilege, Jerome Dumont,  
Shelley Wilson,
AquariusCathy Ryan, Lynda Renham
CapricornAnnie Lyons, Wendy Janes, Steffany R
Aquarius and Capricorn: Nicky Black
SagittariusRachel Amphlett, Wendy Lennox, Katrina Mountfort
CancerSarah Boucher, Katie Oliver, Mark Barry,
VirgoElizabeth Ducie, Louise Marley, Barb Taub
PiscesJulie Haiselden, Maria Savva, Sacha Black
TaurusValerie-Anne Baglietto Val Poore
ScorpioStacey Garrity, Catherine Hokin, Robert Leigh, Gemma Lawrence, Jenny Twist,
LibraJoanne B, Jen Ammoscato