Happy Holidays

Happy Holidays

Everyone is celebrating something different…for me it is Christmas.

I have continued to struggle to put a little Christ into the celebration each year without much success.

We have a nativity scene and we discuss the story of Christmas but my mother is recently atheist – turned to atheism, or is it turned away from Christianity or simply no longer believes – whichever way you say it, it makes for interesting dinner conversation over the turkey.

We have reduced the stress of Christmas by simplifying gifts (this year we have a total practicality theme – although I’m sure some of the kids gifts fall a little outside of this), simple food and relaxed fun. It makes the day far more enjoyable.

Over the Christmas period I am taking a little time away from blogging – I’m still writing but focusing on drafting and editing. It is only a couple of weeks and I’ll be back on Monday, January 5.

Wishing you the very best for whatever you are celebrating and a safe holiday…see you in the New Year.

When Christmas lunch gets too much remember that the crazy aunt you had to sit next to could help you create a fantastic character for your next work…

 

And my gift to you for the holiday season – Stuffed Frogs and Spinning Teacups is free this week.

I’m published!

Stuffed Frogs CoverAfter all the procrastinating I have finally pulled myself together and self-published my first short story.

It is a strange mix of excitement, fear and relief to see the book finished and available for readers.

The experience wasn’t quite what I thought it would be…

What I learnt

Beta readers are essential. This story was tested repeatedly on my writing group and is certainly much stronger for it.

It took a lot more time than I thought to format and create a cover. It is relatively easy to find information and various options to do this on line. I also spent more time than was needed downloading conversion software. When it came to uploading the book into Amazon I could upload it as a word file and Amazon did the conversion. Of course this may be different for print versions (not offered with this book) or other platforms (more learning required).

Ease aside, it was useful to see the book in the right format to ensure it worked before I got to the point of uploading it.

Setting up the account on Amazon itself also took hours but now I’m set up it will only take a few minutes to upload the next one.

I spent a lot of time trying to create a cover and the artwork/images were more expensive than I thought they could be. I still have a lot to learn in this regard. I did create the cover in word, which was relatively easy and then converted the file to an image so that I could upload it.

I wanted to offer the book for free but with Amazon’s direct publishing that wasn’t possible. So I have made it as cheap as I can. It will be available for free over the Christmas week (22-26 December) as my Christmas present to you.


What I might do differently

The cover seemed to be an area of concern as it isn’t really my area. Next time I will start work on the cover sooner. Or call in some professional help.

Allow more time for the formatting. It is something I would like to start sooner but unfortunately can’t be done until the story is finished. Yet I might work on some templates to make the process earlier.

 

Will I do it again?

Yes – no doubt. Despite the learning curve it was actually easier than I thought it would be.

I am currently working on a publishing plan for next year. There are more books to come…including my first novel.

It was a little more involved than I first imagined. But now that I know how it works it should be easier next time, although I am more aware of the time taken to get it ready.

 

I started this with Stuffed Frogs and Spinning Teacups because it is one of my favourites. I hope you enjoy it too.

 

 

My November

keyboard flat

My unofficial attempt at NaNoWriMo did not quite go as well as I expected. I started out strong but as other commitments and a crazy workload at the day job pushed in on me it became harder and harder to meet the target.

At the end of November I had 23,000 words. A reasonable attempt and nearly half way.

 

How the month progressed

I started super confident because I had produced so many words for this draft since the end of August. Some parts are currently not flowing so well and I am at the point where I am writing all over the place. I recently heard this referred to as “jigsawing”. I write scenes in no particular order and then put them into my file where they are meant to go.

Over the last few weeks I have been doing more of this by focusing on particular groups of characters, or minor individuals and writing scenes for their storyline that will fit in with the main story. Sometimes during the writing of one scene I get an idea for another unrelated scene and then write that. This way of writing works for me and although I have tried to change my writing practice somewhat my crazy writing order just doesn’t seem to be changeable.

 

Would I NaNoWriMo again?

Possibly. Part of me thinks it depends on the project I’m working on at this time next year. But I wouldn’t rule it out after a not so stellar try.

 

What did I learn?

That I need to ensure I have that hour a day quarantined for my writing. In that focused hour I can achieve a lot. This reinforces what I have been discussing lately; in that setting time aside and planning what to do with that time is useful.

It also means that when things come up that guilt is not useful. In the middle of November when my day job was crazy and I was crawling home exhausted, and sleeping through my alarm the next day, guilt about not getting an hour of writing done was not going to make any difference to meeting my writing commitments.

I realised that I haven’t been recording all of my writing in the same way, particularly my blogging work. Over the month I discovered that blogging takes more time than I had previously thought it did.

Did you try NaNoWriMo – officially or otherwise – and what did you learn from the experience?

Finding writing time in the holiday season

adventAs our days begin to fill with concerts, school events, Christmas parties and social catch-ups it becomes harder and harder to maintain our writing time. And then there is all the organising for the festive season and present buying (for those of us who didn’t get in early).

Time with family and friends is important yet with this increase in social commitments you may notice it is harder to get the writing done that you would like. Last week I talked about goal setting and maintaining your momentum through to the end of the year, the festive season can make that difficult.

It is possible to enjoy the festive season and continue with your writing goals:

 

Make the time to write

With the shift in commitments it may be that the time you have available to write shifts as well. Available time might disappear or it may move to a different time of the day.

Re-evaluate your available time – when writing time could open up and how much. Can you create a little extra time?

 

Revisit and reset goals

Now that you have a clear idea of how much time you have available consider what you want to get done in that time.

  • What is most important on your goal list?
  • What would make the most impact?
  • What would give you the most joy?
  • What could you get finished?

Reprioritise your goals and focus on one goal first; you don’t have to give up everything.

 

Planning time in detail

It is not enough to have a list of what you want to achieve, link it with the time available by clearly planning out your writing sessions.

For each block of time write a plan for what you want to achieve. Make it clear and detailed so that when you sit down to work you know what you need to be doing. I find this helps greatly to use the time wisely. For example: a set hour during the lunch break – draft blog on Christmas impact on writing time. That would be enough to get me started. Or it may be: continue drafting scene with sisters for book 2.

Not everyone works in the same way, but I have found that with limited time the clearer my goals for a writing session the quicker I am able to settle into the writing flow and hence achieve more.

 

Guard your time

Let people know what you are doing, this includes family and friends.

If you reduce activities that readers are waiting on consider putting a notice out to your readers; for example, if you have a blog put a notice up that you are on leave or having a break and when you will be back. If you do this make sure you are ready for the return date, don’t leave your readers hanging.

 

I love this time of year, the hope and joy that Christmas brings. The family time and excuse to catch up with friends for a drink all in the name of Christmas cheer. But it can be busy, very busy and if, like me, you don’t want to put your writing life or goals on hold, there are options.

What do you do with your writing over the festive period and what tips do you have to keep the ink flowing?

Image courtesy of Anders Ruff Custom Designs, Flikr