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.

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.

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.

2018 Writing Retreat

It has been some time since I’ve posted on the blog. I discovered that no matter what I try I just don’t have the time to do it all. And I want to, but I can’t. So my fiction writing had to come first.

It is that time of year again, when my writing buddy and I head off on our annual writing retreat. Last year was a great success at 6 nights so we repeated that this year in the hope of similar success. We nearly fell at the first hurdle when someone else had booked our usual time. But the writing gods were with us, or poor planning on their part, and they cancelled and we were in. Every year I say we need to book earlier.

We did our usual drive down together, the little car piled high with bags and computers and a whiteboard. We stopped along the way to shop (for lots of food we then had to pack up and bring home again) and a solid lunch. I left my handbag in the café (for the first time ever) and complete panic set in once I realised but they had put it away somewhere safe, and the older gentleman at the table next to ours was very quick to tell me it was ok when I came barrelling back into the shop.

Supplies purchased, good meal in our bellies and with too much wine packed we were off.

We kept the fire stoked and my writing buddy had her first roasted marshmallow experience. It rained nearly the entire time which was fine but a part of us hoped for snow.

After razzing my writing buddy for leaving the cottage last year, I decided that some exercise and fresh air would be needed. I wasn’t quite as dedicated as her but I did join her for 2 walks and even practiced some of my tap dancing (still a long way to go). I ate far too much sugar and maybe drank a little too much wine.

I’m sure you are wondering about the writing and yes, I did some, in fact I did a lot. I worked through my novel, Raven’s Edge 4 times. One really focused edit, where I added lots, changed lots, chopped bits and rearranged whole sections. Then I read through to make sure those changes all worked, made some more and added notes.

For the third read through I only focused on my added notes – where I had marked where something didn’t work. So it was a little quicker as I wasn’t reading the entire work. Then I went through one more time, reading every word and making sure it all worked. I tweaked some sentences, moved some chapters or parts of and fixed a couple of little bits that still didn’t sit quite right.

Overall I am pretty happy with the story and my brain was tired. I couldn’t look over it again and the next step it to send it out to beta-readers to see what they say. And it just may be that there is a lot more work to do.

That was the main focus of the trip this year, and I spent some time looking over the blurb again – but I must admit that is something I really struggle with. I did a little planning for the rest of Iski’s story and some general writing life planning too.

I did get lots of sleep and despite the amount of brain draining work I do feel pretty good for it. I took a spare laptop as I worried about my old faithful and ended up swapping over on the first full day after repeated warnings and alerts. Last year I managed to get quite a lot of reading done too. This year I only read three or four chapters and a short non-fiction book. I’m feeling excited about this book, and what is to come and I’m hoping I can ride the enthusiasm of the writing retreat for at least the next few months.

2018 is going to be huge!

Welcome to a new year and as excited as I am, I think I might have already over committed. There is so much that I want to achieve this year and I seem to be trying to squeeze much of it into January.

I am looking for new beta readers, so I’ve joined a Facebook group, and signed up to beta read for two authors. I would like to give something back to other writers before I start asking for myself.

I’m always looking for reviews and I try to review everything I read, but I have downloaded two books recently to review in the coming month. At least I’m already half way through one. I have also started an advanced reader group to get some reviews of my own. If you would like to be a part of this group, I have attached a link at the end of this post.

I’m working on editing two Raven Crown Books – although I’m focused on book 2, I am doing some work on book 3. Both will be published during 2018.

I am starting a new series this year, I’m planning to draft all three in the first quarter and get book 1 out to the world before Christmas. At least the outlining is already done, so the writing should be relatively smooth.

I opted in on a new fantasy anthology and need to have a completed story by the end of February. I also have a solid outline for this and the drafting so far is going well but it is a short turn around.

I was pleased with the short story I used as part of the launch for Raven’s Dawn and I’d like to create a new short story for the launch of each new novel. Some of these might be very short, but I have already included them in the planning for each book.

Iski and I had some serious communication problems last year, but I think things are back on track for us and I plan to complete and publish episodes seven to nine this year, and have episode ten ready to publish early in 2019.

Talking of 2019, there are so many stories already trying to get my attention and be written as soon as possible. I am planning a sequel to the Mark of Oldra and there are a couple of other trilogies swirling around the back of my mind. I would like to get these outlined over 2018, to be started in 2019.

As you can see, 2018 is shaping up to be a big year. Did I mention that I’m also hoping to read more?

I hope your 2018 is just as fantastic.

If you are interested is free books, check out my promotions page to see the giveaways I’m currently involved in. If you would like to get the chance to read my books before everyone else in return for an honest review, sign up to my advanced reader group.