2016 First Quarter Goal Check

2015 quarterly goal check

We are already a quarter of the way through the year. I can’t believe how fast that has flown by. Every year I plan more and seem to have less time to achieve any of it.

 

My writing goals for the first quarter of 2016 were:

  • Have Iski Flare Episode 2 almost ready for publication
  • Raven Crown book first edit close to completion
  • Regular blog post produced (weekly)
  • Regular newsletter produced (monthly)
  • Regular reading

 

What I have achieved

A few things are a bit behind.

Iski Flare – is nearly there, but not quite as polished as I was hoping by this point. The publication date has been pushed out to the end of April but it is looking good. And as I wrote it I had loads of ideas for Episodes Three, Four and Five so he will continue on for a while.

The Flow of Ink – other than one week, I have posted every week and the newsletter is going out monthly.

Reading – I am reading a lot more. I’m trying to read every night. I got a kindle for Christmas which I love and if I have forgotten it, I can link into my current reading on my phone. It is so much easier than carrying a book around with me. Part of my reading is connected to reviewing more too. Although I’m a bit over committed on that front just at the moment. So many books, so little time!

 

What I haven’t achieved

Raven Crown is disappointingly well behind schedule. Part of this is due to the edit being more work than I expected. There are some major holes, some small plot problems and a lot of reordering required. And I tend to get distracted looking ahead into the following books; initially with the idea of checking something but then I start reading and before I know it I am lost in the story and not editing anything.

And I was sick, so there were weeks where I didn’t get near it at all.

 

What I have learnt

I may have (not admitting failure here) planned a little too tightly and I’m not spending as much time writing each day as I thought I would. I had easily thought two hours a day at a minimum. But if things get busy I’m lucky to get half an hour some days.

Prioritising projects is important. So on those days when I can’t do much I focus on what needs to be done first or work through more of one thing; such as drafting three or four blog posts at once instead of just one at a time.

I am not always using my early morning writing time effectively. I’ve been doing some more research, email and social media during that time, rather than writing and editing. Even some course work. All writing world related but not directly writing.

 

Where to from here

I need to refocus a little.

Go back to planning my writing time, sticking to set tasks during that time. And then if I get extra time, or extra done, it’s a bonus.

I need to review my diary every morning, not at the end of the day.

Pick my priorities, spend most of my time on them, or split major projects over the day (Iski in am, RC in pm)

 

Even though I am behind a little, I’ll still get Iski Episode 2 out in the month I planned. Some dedicated time I could bring RC closer to where I want it and I’m trying hard to think ahead about the website and blog. Even trying some different things, like the story last week.

I love to hear from you. How are you going with your writing goals so far? Are you on the path you want to be on? What might you need to change?

Hit reply and share your stories.

The Rabbit

As Easter is not far away I thought I would share a little story as my Easter gift to you. What better than a short, short Iski Flare adventure?

courtneybrims-hare3Iski and the Rabbit

Iski ran his hand over the bark of the tree and breathed in the sweet scent of the forest. He would never tire of the smell. Never. Iski had seen a number of strange things in forests, but the splash of colour he noticed at the base of the next tree caught him by surprise. The pale orange was a stark contrast to the dark bark it rested against. It seemed a strange place for an animal to leave an egg and he reached out a tentative hand to run it over the patterned surface. It was cool to the touch and he closed his fingers around it. A rough zigzag pattern had been painted around the shell as though painted by a child and yet there was something safe in the weight of it.

He smiled as he put it in his pocket and then, along the track, he spied another. More blue than green he found himself rushing forward to collect it.

‘It is beautiful,’ Flare whispered in his ear. He nodded as he put it in his pocket and then a small hand was in his tugging at his fingers and he stared at the strange creature looking up at him.

‘Those are for the children,’ he said, jumping up and taking the egg from his hand, which he placed back in the little space between the roots of the tree.

‘What children?’ Iski asked his hand on his pocket as the creature extended his hand again. When Iski didn’t move, the creature indicated with a slight movement of his paw that Iski hand it over. With a sigh he reached into his pocket and retrieved the egg.

‘The children of the village,’ the creature said.

‘Are you a rabbit?’ Iski asked, suddenly tempted to squat down and study him.

‘Are you the man that wanders the world talking to someone that isn’t there?’

Iski looked down at the ground. ‘He’s a rabbit,’ Flare whispered.

‘Tell me about the eggs,’ Iski asked.

‘A little ritual,’ the rabbit whispered.

‘To celebrate a god that doesn’t believe in you,’ Iski shot back and Flare coughed her disappointment.

‘I’m sure you have seen many a thing you didn’t believe in before you were faced with them. Have you faced your god yet?’

Iski shook his head.

‘Witches and wolves, giants and faeries,’ the rabbit muttered, counting off along his paw. ‘I wonder what else is to come.’

Iski smiled at the little man, for the more he studied him the more like a man he looked. Was nothing as it seemed?

‘Maybe not,’ the rabbit muttered holding the pale egg that Iski first picked up. He hopped back toward the tree Iski had found it under.

Shaking his head, Iski followed. ‘Do you really think that the children should be out in the woods this far from the village?’ he asked.

He stopped then and looked around. Lifting himself up, his body still, he twitched his nose, causing the little whiskers to swish about. Iski watched in wonder as his formerly, long floppy ears, stretched up and twisted as though listening for something. He leaned closer to the tree and rested his ear against the bark. ‘Maybe,’ he muttered.

‘Leave,’ Flare whispered.

‘He’s a rabbit,’ Iski said. ‘And a small one. What harm could he pose?’

The rabbit collected the egg up again and it disappeared amongst his nut coloured fur. And then he took off at full speed, racing through the trees, leaping over logs, and roots. Iski was not far behind him but as much as they ran, the rabbit was always just ahead. As they ran through the trees Iski saw no sign of anyone else. No children. No villages.

Iski lost the rabbit in the undergrowth. He looked around for any sign of him and when none was found he sat on a fallen log, disappointed that he hadn’t had the opportunity to ask more questions. So much had changed in the years since he discovered the stories of the witch were true. How many years he had wandered the world? Despite the possible dangers he always felt safest in the trees, beneath the canopy, with the smell of the living around him.

He leaned back and looked up at the pale sky beyond the green branches. Maybe he needed a little more sunshine, maybe he needed some more time in the open. When he sat back up the rabbit sat before him. He turned his head to the side and an egg appeared in his paw, smaller than the others, but a brilliant red. The colour was somewhere between Flare’s hair and cape of the Reds.

‘Thank you,’ Iski said holding out his hand and the egg was very carefully placed within it.

‘I see you Iski Flare,’ the rabbit said. ‘She might not be as far away as you think. She may not be as close.’ He gave a little bow and then disappeared again.

‘Happy Easter,’ Iski muttered, turning the egg in his hand and he found that it wasn’t an egg, but an egg shaped rock. Red and solid. He slipped it into his satchel, removed his hat, wiped his brow and then replaced the hat. He stood slowly and stretched. Who was close enough to need him now?

‘Children from the village,’ he muttered. ‘There must be a village.’ He lifted his axe over his shoulder and headed in the same direction the rabbit headed. After a little while he found a path, not very worn, but a path. He couldn’t hear any indication of a village but followed it all the same.

When Iski walked into the cobblestone square of the town, the golden colour of the stone buildings shining in the sun, he could only smile. He walked around the fountain, so much grander than that of Muteguard, and stopped. The quietness of the world took him by surprise and then he realised that there were no children. If they, as children, had such a fountain on a sunny day they would have been splashing in it.

Maybe the little rabbit man was confused about the children, or Iski was about the village. And where was Flare?

 

 

The first episode of The Legend of Iski Flare is available on Amazon, Kobo and iBooks.

The second episode is not far away…

Illustration by Courtney Brims, image courtesy of bloodyloud! (www.bloodyloud.com)

What they don’t tell you about being an indie author

self publishingI was determined to self publish and I am not regretting that decision for a moment. Well, maybe a couple of moments. I understood that there would be a lot of work that I would have to do myself but I didn’t realise just how much time that would take, or skills that I don’t necessarily have.

 

There are a number of aspects you will need to think about:

Cover Design – which I did get help with from some very talented friends and so it hasn’t cost me very much as yet. I tried to do this myself early on and the covers I produced aren’t fantastic and they took me several hours to complete.

There is help out there if you want to do this yourself. And if you have skills with Photoshop then you have a good head start on me. But be aware that this will take time and the less skill you have the more time it will take.

 

Editing and Proofreading – I am reasonably good at editing my own work. I go over every word countless times. But there is always something that you miss. I like to have others look over my writing to be sure that all the little errors are picked up. I employed a proof reader for The Mark of Oldra just to be sure that it was smooth. I have heard suggested that you can do this yourself by reading over the work backwards. But we warned any read throughs for errors needs to be focused and will take time.

 

Website Design – this isn’t quite as important to the book itself but it is your base to sell and connect with readers. My website is not quite where I want it to be, but I can’t afford to pay a developer and so I’m doing the best I can with what I have. And what I have serves the purpose at the moment. Any changes or updates will take time, and again, it depends on the level of skill you have as to how long this will take you.

 

Marketing is harder than I thought. I don’t want to be ramming my books down your throat every time you get an email, or check my website or receive a tweet.

But I do need to work on this. That includes getting reviews and advertising.

This is one of those items that make me wish I had a publisher behind me. But I’ve recently discovered that publishers only market/advertise for a short time and it is the writer’s job to keep people interested. So either way it is something writers need to develop.

 

What I am doing about it:

I am researching as much as I can about design options and tools for writers.

I like to try things out, so occasionally I’ll have a play at making a cover, designing an advert, or working out how to improve my website.

I like to study, so I look for webinars and courses based on my problem areas – such as marketing and list building (I’m currently doing a course with Australian Writers Centre on Platform building).

I’m trying to connect with and learn from as many other self publishers as I can find.

 

Despite it seeming like a lot to do on top of writing, these things are all possible. I’m doing it and so are lots of others. It is worth noting that it will take as much time as writing, if not more. And it is ongoing.

I have noticed, as I’m sure many readers have, that some self published works are better than others. If you are going to spend on anything, I would strongly suggest an editor/proof reader and cover designer.

Helpful links:

28 Resources, Tools and Tips for Self-Publishing Your Next Book

The Australian Writers Centre

The Australian Writers Centre courses

 

 

What to do when you’re not writing

When not writing begets not writing
Poor Orange Snoopy was too unwell to write too

Over the last few weeks I’ve been a bit worn out, to the point that my writing slowed right down and I spent far too much time beating myself up. Then I became so ill I was trapped in my bed for a week and there was nothing I could do about it.

It is really hard when you can’t write. Particularly when all you want to do is write.

Sometimes we need to take a break. And I can tell you I’m feeling much better for it, even if it was a forced break, despite being well behind in all my projects and even unable to post last week.

 

So, when I couldn’t write, what was I doing?

Firstly, I was sleeping because when you are sickly and run down that is the best way to recharge the batteries.

Secondly, when I could, I was reading. Not as much as I would have liked but more than I have had the chance to over the last few months. You can learn a lot from other people’s writing, not just entertainment and escapism (which are the main reasons I read).

Asking questions about what I have read helps to strengthen my own writing:

  • Why did I enjoy the book?
  • What was it about the characters that hooked me?
  • Why didn’t I like it?
  • Why did that scene/character/event frustrate/annoy/elate me?

In understanding what works or what doesn’t in other’s writing can only help.

I have also been reading more indie published books to see what others are doing and how well that appears to work.

 

When not doing sleeping or reading I was stretched out on the couch watching (binging on) a range of series and movies.

I love TV as it gives a very different story telling experience. Obviously it is much more visual. The setting jumps from the screen and slightest inflections by characters are very effective. I love these little visual clues and it is important to remember to include the details when writing.

One series I watched was based in China during the late 1700’s. The setting was amazing and I got a few ideas from the society and palace design for future stories.

 

I am more or less back to normal now, whatever normal might be. I’m watching my energy levels closely to ensure I don’t go downhill again. But the time out has given me the confidence that as frustrating as it was that I couldn’t write I was still able to feed my creative side and the muse continued to work away.