2017 in Review

2017 was supposed to be all about writing and maybe some marketing. It turned out to be a lot more about marketing and not so much writing.

I had some huge plans and I hate to admit that I have done the same for next year, but let’s just focus on this year for now.

My main goals for this year were:

  • Read at least 20 books.
  • Publish the Legend of Iski Flare Episodes 5 to 8 (including a box set).
  • Continue to work on my trilogy, The Raven Crown Series and publish books 1 and 2.
  • Plan and outline the next trilogy idea.
  • Continue to produce a monthly newsletter and regular blog post.

 

How did 2017 end up?

I did read more than 20 books. And I could have read a lot more so I’m already revising my goal for next year, but not too crazy.

Iski and I struggled this year. I published episode 5 later than I had planned and I’m still hoping that Episode Six will be released before Christmas. I didn’t get the box set out and not nearly as many episodes as I hoped.

Only published book 1 of the Raven Crown Series, but book 2 will hopefully be out early next year.

I have been working on the plan and outline for the next trilogy and it is better in some places than others, but I will start drafting in January.

I have produced a monthly newsletter but the blog fell away.

I usually end up taking a break from my writing over Christmas, whether I plan to or not. This year I’m going to continue writing to try and get a good start on 2018.

 

I know that I didn’t use my time as well as I could have this year. I spent a lot of time that I should have been writing, researching marketing and trying out different marketing ideas.

I’m trying something new with my planning and outlining processes and I hope that it means I can produce a better first draft faster.

 

Plans for 2018

Next year is already looking a bit ambitious but I’m quietly confident I can get close to achieving everything on the list.

And the list? You will have to wait until the new year to see my plans for 2018.

In the meantime, I’ve been adjusting my website a little. Let me know what you think of the changes.

 

Have a happy and safe holiday season.

 

Planning for next year

Usually by September I am well into planning next year. That isn’t going as well this year. I have overloaded myself, again, and Iski isn’t working as well as I would like and I never seemed to be doing what I want …

 

We have entered the last quarter of the year and I worry I’m not going to achieve what I wanted to this year.

 

It isn’t all bad:

I have recently released a new book and I’m working on all that goes with a new release. I’m editing book 3 while I wait for book 2 to come back from the beta readers, which is starting to trickle in now and I think I have some serious work ahead of me.

I’m thinking about future projects (maybe too often) and Iski is well behind schedule but will come back together, I hope.

I also had a moment after seeing the wondrous things my cover designer for Raven Crown series could do and I have commissioned them to rework The Mark of Oldra cover. Can’t wait to see what they produce! So stay tuned for a re-launch.

I’ve also had some viral bug working on my system and sucking my energy so I’m not getting up as early (and daylight savings threw me out of whack and I’m struggling to get to bed).

 

Still crazy:

I have a crazy list of what to do before Christmas to ensure next year (as rough as it is) will work.

I have bought myself a fancy diary and set up an excel spreadsheet that covers every day next year and what I might get done (this really only served to freak me out).

There are too many stories forming in my mind and not enough time to write them down, well at least not yet. And I’d like to try some different things. I have an urban fantasy idea along with a dystopian one…and then there are the short stories related to the current world I’m working on (Raven Crown) that I’m using for back story and side story and for readers on my email list. That doesn’t include the stories I’m outlining that I hope to start next year.

 

So I am closer than I thought but not as ready as I’d like to be. One of my main concerns for next year is getting stories to my readers on a regular basis. Along with the Raven Crown Series, I will be starting a new trilogy next year and really want to be able to get book 1 of that series out to readers by the end of the year. I’m not sure how realistic that goal is yet.

At the end of the year I will post how many of my 2017 goals I reached and exactly what I’m planning for 2018.

If you have an idea of what you would like to see/read in a short story, please let me know and I may be able to use your idea for a launch story or extra bonus for my readers.

 

Midyear Goal Check 2017

This year is slipping by so fast and I have moments when I think it is all coming together and others when I realise I’m not getting nearly enough done. I did make some serious changes to how I work part way into the year (just after my last review) and they seem to be helping greatly. I have also added a monitor to my laptop which has made a world of difference to my neck and shoulders.

So let’s go back a step and see where I wanted to be by midyear:

  • To grow my list of subscribers/followers
  • Plan out the whole (10 book) Legend of Iski Flare series, publish episode five and have good bones for episode six
  • Refine the whole series story line for the Raven Crown series and have book one with the proof reader
  • Have the start of a plan/outline for a new series and The Mark of Oldra sequel
  • And finally, for The Flow of Ink a monthly newsletter and semi regular blog posts.

 

Clearly the last one isn’t going so well. I did step away from the blog to spend more time on my fiction but I had thought I would get at least one post a month done. I am getting out monthly newsletters to my subscribers and occasionally an extra email a month with new release or giveaway information.

My subscriber list is growing, in fact I have already reached the goal I set for the year and I’m thrilled that so many readers are interested in my stories and writing process. But I am spending more time working on advertising and mail outs and giveaways. All of these are important but I need to set some clear guidelines for myself as to when I can and can’t work on the business side of writing.

I have shifted my sleeping pattern to get up earlier everyday to write (and that is everyday – weekends included). I have a good two hour block and when used appropriately it has been fantastic. I just need to stop checking sales figures, setting up mail outs and the like during that time. It can be difficult working full time to make the time. The aim for the next half of the year to ensure I quarantine my writing time and determine the best time for the business side of writing.

In terms of writing:

The Legend of Iski Flare Episode Five (my favourite by the way) was emotionally hard going to write but was released in June. Episode six is underway, although not quite as far along as I would like.  I do have the stories up to Episode Ten mapped out (although briefly) but I’m not sure where it will go from there.

Raven’s Dawn is actually very close. Not quite ready for the proof reader, but it will be this month and planned for release in August. I’m so excited by this one. The second book in the series, The Caged Raven, needs a lot of attention but I’m hoping will be released before Christmas. I’m trying not to think about the third one yet, but as I work on the others ideas keep sparking on ways to finish it.

Amongst all of this I have also completed a short story for a fantasy anthology, which will hopefully be released this month. The Silence is based on a legend from the Raven Crown Series and I had lots of fun writing it. I have been working on the plans for new stories as well, these are still very brief and by the end of the year I’m hoping to have a scenes list for both projects.

I have more and more ideas every day for stories I want to write but time is limited. I have discovered recently that what I would really like is more time to write, like whole days. This has just confirmed for me that I want to write full time and I continue to work toward that.

In the mean time we have our annual retreat coming up in August and I’ll have six whole uninterrupted days of writing. Can’t wait.

 

If you want regular updates on my writing projects, releases and giveaways sign up for my newsletter and receive a free short story!

What I have learnt from 2016

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I have learnt far more than I was expecting to this year. Not all of it was easy to learn, but is was useful now I know. Here is a round up of what I have learnt looking back over 2016.

 

I don’t put in as much time as I think I do on my writing

I’m still tracking my time but I go through stretches where I’m really good, other times I’m not.

 

I need to look after myself

If I’m too knackered to write, don’t beat myself up but rest and regroup. Found this out the hard way when I really crashed in February this year. And working around day job and children means there will be time when there isn’t the energy to write.

 

Life happens – go with it

And that isn’t always easy. From crazy dance schedules to losing a friend, life will interrupt the writing. But then writing can help deal with life at times. There will be times when writing can’t happen and you just have to go with it. The key is to ensure you write when you can.

 

Be realistic in planning

I try to do this all the time, but this year I really didn’t allow appropriate time for several stages of a project and it threw me out completely. I have adjusted for this for 2017 and spent lots of time double checking and then allowing extra time – just in case. I just need to ensure I’m where I want to be at the end of December.

 

I am still enjoying the writing process

Sometimes it all seems too hard to rework a story or fix a plot point; but when it comes down to it I would rather be writing than doing anything else. I still enjoy the flow of words across the page (when they flow) and the stories that develop as I write. I have a developed a few more ideas this year that I’m not going to be able to do anything with yet, but they are little seeds growing into story ideas all the same.

 

Outsourcing is great

I’m not always very good at this, but I have reached outside of my comfort zone to employ cover designers and a proofreader this year. The relationships with both worked really well and will continue it into next year and other projects.

 

Changes for 2017

There aren’t many – in fact there is only one. I found as the year continued that meeting my blogging schedule in my limited writing time was becoming harder. I would like to continue to blog but not as often. So it will be more of an irregular blogging schedule and more when I have something specific to talk about.

I will continue to release a monthly newsletter and will maintain the website.

I have big plans for books next year and leading into 2018!

Stay tuned, I’ll release my plans for next year in January.

11 Tips to Get You Reading More

11 tips to reading more

I recently realised that I’m not reading as much as I would like. It was a sad realisation that I had taken nearly two weeks with my current book and I wasn’t even near the middle yet.

I have been focused on my own writing projects of late and then falling into bed. But I miss other people’s writing and tv doesn’t count.

So after some research in how to find more reading time, or at least make some, I have come up with the following list:

 

  1. Book a regular reading time

Block it out in your diary or plan to read the same time every day, like 15 min before bed.

 

  1. Read what you want to read and not what you think you should.

There is a whole world of classics that everyone says you should read but if you aren’t enjoying the book the whole process is slowed down (part of my current reading problem). There are too many books and not enough time. If you aren’t enjoying it, put it down, pick up another.

 

  1. Try a book group or club

This way you need to finish a book by the deadline to discuss it. A little pressure can help sometimes. If you don’t like the idea of meeting up with a group of strangers pull a group of your friends together and create your own.

 

  1. Join a review group

Similarly to point #3, deadlines help. The pressure of promising a review can ensure you make the time to read.

 

  1. Read more than one book at a time

I don’t like this idea unless you were reading fiction/non fiction. Maybe reading different books at different times – fiction before bed, non-fiction on the trip to work

 

  1. Read across digital devices

I love this; that my phone will remember where I left off on my kindle last night. And then when I snuggle into bed with the Kindle, it picks up where I left off on my phone.

 

  1. Set a reading goal

Set yourself a challenge. You can use Goodreads to track how you are going. This is something I use to do but haven’t in a while and when I signed up to Goodreads I was too scared to pick a number. Time to add some pressure.

 

  1. Squeeze in two minutes

Lunch time, morning tea, advert breaks on the tv ( I did this recently when I switched from Netflix back to live tv and forgot just how long the ad breaks were!). Using digital devices can help with this (point #6). I often catch up on a chapter while waiting for my travelling buddy when heading to off-site meetings.

 

  1. Catch the bus or train to work.

Long journeys are a great opportunity to read. If public transport is out, take a long drive and let someone else do the driving.

 

  1. For those driving try Audio books.

Or while you are doing the ironing. I haven’t tried this yet, but mostly because I would love to listen in the car and I’m sure my daughter would talk through it or switch it off. I’m also looking into this option for future publishing options.

 

  1. Have fun!

This is the most important one on the list – enjoy the opportunity to disappear into another world.

 

Managing my writing time

When I returned to work this week, to beginning of year requirements, end of year reporting and two weeks to catch up on; panic followed
Image via www.katharine-writes.com

My recent holiday was lovely but I didn’t get any writing done; or at least not enough to really talk about. So when I returned to work this week, to beginning of year requirements, end of year reporting and two weeks to catch up on; panic followed.

I was getting behind on my deadlines, I was still searching for a title for Iski Flare episode 3 and I haven’t passed that on to my cover designer. And only a week to the release date I still don’t have a cover.

I did receive my draft cover for the first in the fantasy trilogy, Raven Crown Series, that I’ve been talking about for years. It looks fantastic. But I’m still only part way through the second edit.

In fear of going crazy and not getting anywhere with anything, I took a deep breath and went back to my writing plan. I have an hour in the morning which I have booked out for Iski and then I spend an hour of an evening with Raven’s Dawn (the first in the Raven Crown Series).

So far so good. I’m not getting near Twitter or Facebook, but I am spending at least half an hour while we watch the telly after dinner, checking and responding to emails. As soon as my daughter is in bed the telly goes off and the work begins.

It is amazing how quickly we can lose the practice of writing every day. And once it slows down it is hard to pick it up. There have been nights when I’m too tired, but I still sit down at the computer and before long I’m lost in the process.

I usually talk about time management in conjunction with energy management, but at the moment I’m not allowing my energy levels to come into it. I’m sitting down to write at my allotted times, even if I think I’m falling asleep. And so far it is working. I’m writing (well editing) loads. I might crash next week, but so far so good. I’m a little like Dory – I just keep writing, no matter what.

 

Just keep writing:

  • Write every day – working the writing muscles keeps them strong
  • Turn off the TV (I’m recording the important stuff to watch later; and then there’s Netflix; write first, watch second)
  • Set writing times/appointments and keep them, no matter what.
  • Talk to the family/loved ones/cats about your need to write – on weekends I spend some time with my daughter and then I get writing time, and I can alternate that, with a little housework, over the day.

 

PS I know cats don’t listen, well they do, but they don’t care. Mine only want a cuddle when I sit at the computer and as long as they aren’t lying across the keyboard, or chasing the mouse, I don’t mind.

 

I would love to hear what you do to keep writing even when you think you can’t. Click reply and share.