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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    2018 in Review


    Another year is coming to a close and again I haven’t achieved all I wanted to.

    I started the year out strong, with great plans, only to find that I had overwhelmed myself in the first couple of months with too much. I started a new series, had a short story to complete for an anthology and I was still working on the Raven Crown and Iski Flare series. I just couldn’t keep up.

    So, the new series stopped. I was still thinking about it, but not writing. I focused on the deadlines imposed by others (the anthology)and the series that were still unfinished.

    Iski and I continued to struggle and my planned output went out the window. To the point I was only able to get a boxset out early in the year. Episode Seven is very nearly here – and I’m trying hard to get it out before Christmas.

    The Raven Crown Series moved slower than I hoped as well. The Caged Raven (book2) finally appeared in June and I had hoped that book 3 would be published before Christmas. I have had some delays with my usual proof reader, namely that I didn’t book her soon enough, and now I’m looking at publishing early next year. This is on track for 1 February release. I’m excited that this is so close to finished although a little sad too. I’ve really enjoyed this series and I might write something else in this world in the future.

    I have continued to plan out the new series and I’ve thought about other projects that I would like to work on next. And there are so many stories…

    I have continued to send out a regular newsletter and recently surveyed readers to find what else they might like to see. This is a work in progress and will change from time to time, depending on what I’m working on and the giveaways and promotions I am able to include.

    My blog posts have dropped off. Previously this was taking a lot of time from my fiction writing and I decided to allow it to drop off. Although I had hoped to still post something semi-regularly. This is like my social media presence which has also dropped away. I’m certainly spending too much time on social media, particularly Facebook Groups – learning from and connecting with other indie authors – but posting very little myself.

    I have looked at the time I’ve spent writing and how I can use that time more efficiently. From this my plans for next year are probably even more ambitious than they were for this year. I have so many stories trying to get out, that I really need to try harder to get them out there. I’ll share these crazy plans with you in the New Year.

    If you want to keep up to date with what I’m doing and how my writing project are going, sign up for my newsletter. You’ll also get freebies, promotions and advanced notice of sales.

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    Quarterly Review

    My daughter has started playing Christmas carols in the car. A sure sign that the end of the year is upon us and, to be honest, it scares me. It means that we have entered the final quarter of the year, that I haven’t achieved anything close to what I wanted to and I have such huge plans for next year (again).

    You may remember that I kind of over planned for this year and then took on some extra writing opportunities and by mid-January I had hit complete panic. I didn’t get close to what I wanted to write this year, but there is still 3 months left, I can make a good dent.

    I have taken a week off the day job. Partly due to school holidays and wanting to spend some quite time with my daughter and partly because I needed the break. I am crazy busy with the day job at the moment and it is zapping my creative energy, but I’m still answering emails most days so not really a true break.

    So, I have spent a few days sitting on the couch doing nothing but watching tv shows, getting lost in a new Chinese drama and catching up on some housework. Now that I’m feeling a bit more refreshed and the house is sort of back in order, it is time to refocus on my writing.

    I am slowly working through the edit for Iski Flare episode seven. I had hoped to have up to episode nine out this year, but not sure if I can get there. I have revamped the series by getting new covers and they look fantastic.

    The Raven Crown Series is almost at an end with the final book just back from betareaders. I had hoped this would be out before Christmas but I’ve had some delays with my usual proofreader and it will now be the end of January. Initially I was disappointed, another book not delivered on time, another blowout that will impact on next year’s plans. But you will get a better story for the extra time and that is what is most important.

    The new series I had hoped to start this year stalled early on. The first book is underway and I’m outlining the remaining ones but otherwise I’m leaving it until next year. I have spent some time planning for next year, but I’ll give you an idea of what I would like to achieve closer to the end of 2018. I’m hoping it is a good year and in anticipation of getting done what I hope, I have already booked the cover designer.

    Amongst the writing and planning, I have also started a new course on self publishing and joined a new critique group in the hope of learning from others and improving my writing.

    In the coming weeks I will send out a survey to my email list about what they see in the monthly newsletter and what they might like changed. I’m curious around my blog posts as well, particularly as I don’t post very often any more.

    Please let me know what you think in this short survey and I’ll try to adjust accordingly.