Crazy planning continues in 2020

I have become a planning machine, because I like things to go to plan, not that they do, but I like to pretend it is a possibility.

Recently I shared my review of 2019, where I talked about what a great year 2019 turned out to be.

This year is going to be even bigger. Firstly I have a significant birthday and I’m not hiding from it for the first time ever – although it ends in a 5 rather than a 0 so it isn’t quite so scary. Secondly, this is the year I hope to finally start making some money from my writing and be able to take the time to write more – because there are so many stories in my head, and not enough time to write them.

Here is the plan for 2020:

  • Publish the remaining episodes of the Iski Flare Series – that is 8, 9 and 10 and put out a second box set.
  • Publish The Heart of Oldra (The Mark of Oldra, Book 2) which has been a very long time in the thinking.
  • Finish drafting and publish the first three books of the new series (and draft the next couple of books ready for 2021).
  • Plan (I mean - get a clear idea of what I would like to do, before the characters take over) the next couple of series (which are linked to each other, maybe, if I don’t come up with another idea in the meantime). I did mention that I get lots of ideas, didn’t I?
  • I will continue with the regular newsletters (two a month).
  • I would like to interact more with people on social media – I’m going to start by posting more frequently.
  • And I have upped my reading challenge for this year. I got a bit lazy last year and could have read far more than I did (again, too much Korean drama).

These plans are all marked out on the calendar – what I’m writing or editing on any given day, along with set dates to send to the editor, and publishing dates. I have a scheduled the covers for a couple of months before release dates so that I can share them sooner and get the pre-orders up as soon as possible.

If I could do it in 2019, I can do it again. All I need is for Iski to behave. You would think a faery tale hero would be a bit easier to get along with – who knew?!

The first release for 2020 will be The Heart of Oldra in February. I will share the cover and brief excerpt on my blog later this month. If there is something particular you would like me to share, put it in the comments, or send an email to georgina[at]theflowofink.com

2019 in Review

I tend to write these posts for myself, to take the time and put down in writing what I have achieved and to assess what I can do for next year. That is, what I can do better and what I can do less of to fit in more writing. Sharing that information helps me and I hope in some ways it will help you too.

I reminded my daughter just recently of a great quote by Dwayne Johnson (yes, that Dwayne Johnson) – “Be the hardest working person in the room”.

I love this quote, it doesn’t mean you have to be the best, but it does mean that you have to put your all into what you do. So that if you don’t win the prize or someone gets a better mark, makes more money etc, you can’t say that you didn’t try. That if you had put some extra effort in, it might have been you. They might be better on the day, but if you continue to do all you can, then next time, it might be you that wins.

I have been trying harder this year to be that person. Even though I usually write on my own, alone in my room, or in a café, or even with my office door shut of a lunch time. I set myself some crazy goals this year and I managed to meet most of them. There were some other things that came up, some of which I decided to step away from and others I have tried to add in. And some things didn’t quite come to plan – Iski Flare being one of them.

Here is a reminder of my goals for the year:

  • I will finalise the Iski Flare Series by publishing ep 8-10
  • I will draft new HP Series and publish all 3 by Christmas 2019
  • I will draft Oldra sequel
  • I will continue to produce a monthly newsletter and blog occasionally
  • I will grow my readership
  • I will consider next series and start planning and outlining those stories

When I started the Iski Flare Series I had the idea of publishing all ten episodes over two years. Yet in the last couple of years I have only published two episodes, bringing the series to a total of seven episodes. There were lots of reasons for this, partly because I wasn’t sure how it was going to end. I have a good idea of where it is going, but Iski and I have fought a bit over the years, and I was worried he might go and do something unexpected.

Most of my characters do that. For my last series, The Magics of Rei-Een, I had a very clear idea of the series and where it was going. Unfortunately, early in book 1 it was clear that neither Lis or Remi or anyone else for that matter, were going to do what I wanted them to. But that said, during 2019 I managed to write and publish all three books. Along with finishing the Raven Crown Series, that meant 2019 was the year of 4 published novels!

I have learnt a lot this year, including I don’t need to watch so much Korean tv (as much as I love it) but a weekend lost to binge watching a series, could have been a complete read-through of one of my own novels, or a good chunk of editing, or even 10,000 or more new words written.

I have recently turned to short sprints to try and increase my output, and this has worked well. I average anywhere from 1500-3000 words an hour, with my average around 2400 words an hour. Which means when I put the time in, I am getting the stories out.

In terms of drafting, I started life as a pantser (writing by the seat of your pants), and everyone told me that was a bad idea. I have tried outlining, but the characters don’t stick to the plan (see above). Now, I am trying something in between and so far it is working well. I watched a talk on “writing into the dark” which is a bit like reading a book, you don’t know what is going to happen next (pantsing really).

I am not strictly sticking to this. I have an idea of the world, the characters, an idea of what I might like to happen, or what I think the major conflict is and then I just start writing.

Using this method I have written The Mark of Oldra Sequel – The Heart of Oldra – which will be available early next year. And as I work through the editing it needs a little work, but overall, I’m happy with the story.

I have also started drafting a whole new series. This is a bigger world and I’m part way through book 1 and so far so good. I will draft the first three books before I start editing and I plan five or six books for the series, but that of course is dependent on the characters and where they want to go.

In anticipation of another great year I have booked the editor for the first few projects for 2020 and the covers for the whole year. If I can do it once, I’m hoping to do it again. The plan for next year involves publishing four novels and finishing the Iski Flare Series. I have a plan already mapped out and the work I’m doing now will feed into those plans.

And of course my mind is already looking further out into other new worlds and more characters and so there are a lot more stories to come.

I usually try to take a break over the Christmas/New Year period, but I’m writing through this year and my newsletter will continue to go out on the 14th and 28th of each month. I’ll let you know just what I have planned for 2020 in the New Year.

Happy Holidays

If you would like to leave a Christmas gift for an author – give the gift of a review.

2019 Third Quarter Review

It has been a busy year and we have just entered the final quarter and spring has hit Tasmania, finally. I used to be great at reviewing where I was at, or at least sharing it with you. Although I seem to be constantly reviewing how my writing is progressing, I’m currently not so good at sharing.

September is usually the point where I start planning for the following year, buying my diary, setting up my spreadsheets, determining just how many books I think I can write…this year hasn’t quite gone to plan.

For my latest series I found the third book wasn’t quite as easy to write as I expected, and it stopped the progress of everything else. And it was only luck that I couldn’t get into my editor until later than I planned, that I was able to meet the deadline at all. So now that it is with the editor, and I have a little breathing room to start the next project, I have had the chance to start planning for 2020 and finally buy next year’s diary.

In fact, I have planned out the next couple of years. That is because it is time to start getting serious about this writing business. As well as planning out future projects, I have been considering planning and thinking time (I know you are all thinking about Iski right about now, but I will come back to him). At this stage, I have two new series planned – and they will be longer ones, although they aren’t as well planned as I had hoped. But I learnt with the last series that the story rarely goes to plan.

I have an idea of the characters and the world they live in. I kind of have the main conflict in mind, and how it ends. The rest I am going to see how it unwinds as I write. I recently heard this referred to as “writing into the dark” and I’m really very excited about it.

So how am I going so far this year?

Pretty well, actually.

This is what I have achieved:

  • Published the final episode of The Raven Crown Series – The Raven’s Edge
  • Published books 1 and 2 of The Magics of Rei-Een series – and book 3 is due for release on November 15 and on track.
  • Started drafting the sequel to The Mark of Oldra – no idea at this stage what it will be called. And I have already booked the editor and cover.
  • Planned out the key points for the new series. Toyed with some ideas for names and backgrounds.

What has fallen through the cracks:

  • Iski Flare

  • So my plans for the rest of the year are:

    • Finish and publish Book 3 of The Magics of Rei-Een
    • The Mark of Oldra sequel – written and edited and ready for editor early next year
    • Start drafting the new series – no names at all for this one and it is in my spreadsheets as “new series”
    • Find Iski Flare and get to writing. Originally Iski was going to be finalised early this year and I’m not quite sure what happened, but it just didn’t happen. Episode 8 is more or less drafted, the covers are all booked. I just need to put some time aside and focus. At this stage he isn’t part of the plan for next year, as I would like to get him finished this year.

    At the end of the year I will update you on how the year finished, and let you know what I’m planning for next year.

    For my latest book, and future release dates, go to my book page.

    2019 Writing Retreat

    I have already been back from my retreat for almost as long as I was on it. Usually I’m super keen to tell you how my time away went. This year it was a little more difficult. My story wasn’t working like I wanted it to, I couldn’t picture the end, and this is the end of a series, so the pressure was on. I came back exhausted and although I had a tonne of work to do, I didn’t.

    I caught up on all the tv I missed over the week. And what seemed like far too much washing for one child for one week. My mum watched the child, cats and house and despite keeping everything running, and organising to get the wallpaper up that we have talked about the last 12 months – I had a room filled with piles of books and I couldn’t seem to get comfortable in my own home.

    What should have been an invigorating, enthusiasm building and restorative retreat ended up nearly wiping me out creatively.

    So instead of racing to tell you what I’ve done, I hid away for a bit.  I struggled through a painful read through of my novel, where I wrote rude messages to myself, highlighted problem sections and groaned (a lot). Feeling all was lost I finally started the editing process. And part way through page 1 I found myself again.

    First morning

    Last morning

    This was salvageable. It wasn’t too bad, just needs a bit of rearranging, and pulling together. After stressing myself out completely, I’m actually feeling okay about it now. I still haven’t got the ending pulled together, but as of this morning I’m only on Chapter 3. And I know now that it will come as the characters and I settle into a story we are all happy with.

    The good news about the retreat –I slept really well, ate badly but enjoyed every sugary mouthful, drank a bit much, walked in the sunshine, watched the birds play in the bottlebrush, practiced my Chinese and wrote just over 50, 000 words. They were like wringing blood from a stone, but they were words non-the-less. I even managed to wash some clothes and we didn’t burn through too much wood (like we usually do).

    This year we started on a Sunday, when we usually go away midweek and return midweek. There is not very much open on a Sunday morning, so things were a little different. But we managed the same shopping routine, had a nice lunch and stocked up on sugar and wine before we reached the cottage. I also played a bit with my camera (phone) as you can see from some of the photos attached.

    We even watched a couple of movies this year, just to rest the brain.

    I worry that I’m not going to make the deadlines I have set myself, but if I can get this to the editor on time, and continue to write, I might be able to get back to where I thought I would be.

    I kind of got a bit carried away this year as I decided it was time to focus on this writing business properly. I have actually mapped out a pretty tough schedule that covered not only this year but the next 2 years as well.

    So now that I’m feeling a little calmer about the book, it is back to the writing, and I only hope I can keep the books coming as rapidly as I would like. And I haven’t forgotten about Iski – he will be back. He is just not as close to the top of the pile at the moment.

    First 2019 Writing Update

    I set myself some pretty hefty writing goals this year on top of everything else I’m trying to do, and a pretty busy day job.

    Add to that the idea that my writing group is running a book fair for indie authors this year, with no real experience and no idea just how much work was going to be involved, including an interview on the radio!

    I have been much better at reviewing where I’m at in previous years; the time got away from me this year, partly because I have been busy writing. After a bit of a panic recently about exactly how much I am trying to do, I realised that it was time to take stock.

    For this first part of the year I had aimed to do the following:

    • Draft all three books of my new series
    • Get the next Iski Flare episode out to readers and ready for publication
    • Keep in regular touch with my readers – via my newsletter and social media and even blog a little.
    • Some planning for The Mark of Oldra sequel and the next series.

    Not too much really.

    The New Series:

    I have been trying writing sprints, where I just write and don’t pay attention to the typos to get as many words on the page as I can. And this has worked reasonably well. My problem came when my characters decided that they weren’t going to go along with my plan. They appeared to have definite plans of their own and it made me very nervous.

    I am not quite where I want to be but I have achieved the following:

    • Books 1 and 2 fully drafted
    • Books 1 and 2 read through and marked up for problems, inconsistencies, plot changes etc Book 1 I am actually very happy with, book 2 will need some work.
    • Book 3 is moving slower and I only have 12, 000 words. Those words have helped fill in some plot holes and I now have a better idea of where it is going. I plan to continue to draft this one while I start on the editing of book 1 – it will be slower but I think it will help it become the strong finish the series needs.

    Iski Flare:

    Iski Flare Episode Eight kind of fell by the wayside. I have half of it drafted, and it is much stronger than my usual first draft. But it is a long way from being ready for readers. I want to spend some time this month and get things back on track. I want to finalise the Iski Flare series and get all books out this year.

    Upcoming books:

    No planning for The Mark of Oldra sequel other than a brief think about it. The new series has been the hardest as I had two ideas I was playing with and I wasn’t sure which I wanted to work on first. At the beginning of the year I had an idea for yet another series, and I think I want to tackle that first. I have made some very rough notes, some character sketches and considering a longer series (4 to 6 books). All just plans at this point. I won’t start anything concrete until the end of the year.

    Readers:

    I have struggled with social media this year, working in fits and starts. Partly because I don’t want to get lost on Facebook when I could be writing. I created a plan, but I’m not really sticking with it. I am considering expanding what I do with Facebook, but I’m delaying ideas over writing at the moment. I’ll confirm when I can.

    I am managing to continue to get my newsletter out to readers monthly. And try to include information on other writers as well. 

    My blogging has off as well, but I find sharing what I’m planning and how I am going meeting my writing targets helps me as much as it keeps you informed. If you want to hear about other aspects of my writing or have a question you would like answered, please contact me.

    Where to next:

    I have realised as I go this year that I can complete more than I had thought, but I need to put the time in and sometimes I’m not doing that. Partly due to other commitments, partly because I’ve run out of energy to get them done.

    Amongst all of this writing I am also trying to fit in reading, learning and training courses around writing and marketing, and trying to look after myself. And of course my daughter, who entering her teenage years is more willing to leave me alone to write while she does teenager stuff.

    There is a group of us working on the Bookfair which helps share the load, but it certainly has taken more time than I anticipated. I am gathering my promotional material together and have just submitted an order for books. I am learning a lot from this process, including what other indie authors in my local community are looking for. I think there will be a lot more come from this.

    My writing plans for the next three months:

    • Finish book 3 of new series
    • Edit and revise book 1 of new series and get it to my editor
    • Iski Flare Episode Eight – finalised and published
    • Iski flare Episode Nine – would like to get it written and then published, but it may be that it just gets to readers.
    • Planning for new works
    • Regular Newsletters
    • Regular updates on social media

    Lots to do, but I’m loving it.

    Happy Reading.

    2019 and another crazy goal list

    Every year I think I can do more than I did the year before. Usually after I have reviewed just how little I have done over the year. There is so much that I would like to do that I forget all the other things that could slow down this process – such as illness, children, the day job, the cat laying across the keyboard…the list is endless.

    Nevertheless, I have I developed another ambitious list of what I would like to achieve in 2019. I’ve scribbled over a calendar, added up hours available, determined the number of words and pages I can type or edit inset period of time. To help facilitate this insanity, I have also booked all my covers for next year.

    Ok, you are already starting to think that I can’t do this, given my own language use of “crazy” and “insane”, and you haven’t even made it to the goal list yet. Despite the language, I am oddly confident that I can do this.

    So, let’s get to my writing goals for 2019:

    • Raven Crown Series Book 3 – Raven’s Edge – Publish in February 
    • Raven Crown Series Box Set – Publish in March
    • New series – The Hidden Princess (working title)– Publish all three books before the end of the year. 
    • The Mark of Oldra sequel (no name yet) – Ready for readers by the end of the year.
    • The Legend of Iski Flare series – complete and publish remainder of series (episodes eight, nine and ten) before the end of the year.
    • Next series (undecided as to which this will be) start drafting at least first book before end of the year.
    • Continue monthly newsletter
    • Blog occasionally (at least once a quarter)

    There is a lot there. Some of this is ready to go and some of the new work has more defined deadlines set, but the timelines are tight and I’m not ready to share yet.

    I have at least 2 more series ideas that have been rattling around for a while, but I’m not sure which one to start next. I’m hoping to make this decision before I get to the point I want to start writing. 

    This is a lot and I’ve got some clear plans for when I’m working on each. Each year I’m more determined to reach my ultimate goal – to write full time. I’m still a long way from that, but the more books I have out in the world, the closer I am to that goal.