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.

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.

 

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

phone-1163

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.

Do you review the books you read?

Do you reviewI have tried recently to review everything I read.

Although given my recent writing commitments that hasn’t been very much.

 

What do reviews mean for authors?

Reviews help sell books. The more reviews, the more likely people are going to consider a book. They don’t all have to be brilliant, but needless to say repeated bad reviews aren’t going to help.

For independent authors this is very useful to help draw readers to their books.

They also help the right readers find your books. I have read a number of reviews that said something along the lines of “this wasn’t what I thought it would be” and can help you, as a reader, filter out the books you might have bought that aren’t what you are interested in. This might not sound useful for the author, but it will help the author ensure they are clear on the genre and market their books appropriately.

Reviews can help motivate the author – when they get good ones.

 

Who is a review for?

You might have picked up from above that reviews aren’t actually for the writer, but for fellow readers.

They are designed to inform other readers as to whether they may enjoy the book or not. They are a recommendation to buy, or not.

 

What to include in a review:

Firstly, a little about the book without giving the plot away.

Secondly, what you thought of it and why.

 

Example of a good review: (one I made up)

“The Hill” – a romance

I loved it!

Jake and Jill meet under the worst of circumstances and soon realise that they don’t like each other very much. But then they keep ending up at the same events and when Jill appears to be the new associate in Jake’s office it looks like their only choice is to work together.

I was able to connect to the characters and it had a happy, realistic ending (as all good romances should). This is a well written, engaging story which not only shows how people grow within relationships but how we can’t always see our own behaviour clearly. A great read. Strongly recommended.

 

What not to put in a review:

The spoilers or twists – because giving the plot away will stop others reading it even if you loved the way it was done.

Personal attacks on the author – you are reviewing the book not the writer; who they are as a person, or who you think they are does nothing for your review nor would it influence other readers.

Simply stating it is ‘bad’ or ‘crap’ or similar comes across as trolling. You don’t have to like it but tell us why you don’t like it. For example, the characters didn’t jump off the page, the plot was predictable.

The same goes for ‘Great’ – which every author loves by the way, but again, tell us why.

It doesn’t have to be an essay – a couple of lines or a paragraph. As someone searching for a book to read I’m not going to scroll through pages of a review to get the details. And I have seen reviews like this – that spell out every pro and con of the novella they just read, the review almost as long as the book!

 

The key here for writers is that although reviews do benefit the author, they aren’t meant for you. They are a conversation between readers.

So don’t get caught up in them and don’t respond. They do help you sell more books but commenting on a review will only stop people reviewing your work in the future and, worse, stop them from buying your books.

 

How you can write faster

How you can write faster

Following on from last week’s post, one of my current focuses is getting as many words as possible on the page in the shortest time. Sometimes I write early morning, sometimes at lunch time and I might only have half an hour or an hour at most to try and get as many words down as possible.

I am getting better at this and I do track all my writing. On a good day I can pump out around 2,500 words an hour; an average day is anywhere between 1500 and 2000 an hour. If I break my writing sessions into half hour blocks I tend to be more productive, or at least produces more words than I do if I sat down for a full hour. Not always but mostly.

Compared to some other writers this isn’t very fast.

A little while back I looked at Johnny B Truant and Sean Platt’s new book and referred to their earlier book about writing – Write, Publish, Repeat. Johnny pumps out a crazy number of words per hour, but he isn’t alone.

So following on from last week I thought I would share what others are talking about in terms of writing faster – that is, writing more per writing session.

I think it is worth starting with Johnny B Truant and here are two of his articles based around writing fast and his book Write Publish Repeat:

Write, Publish, Repeat on The Creative Penn

14 tips for writing a book in 29 days and then doing it again the next month

Both are a great read and very useful in showing just how much is possible if we put our minds to it.

ReallyRosie has some great tips on what is important about increasing your writing speed and why you would or wouldn’t want to do that. Check out her article here: Word Count Fatigue

Michael Pollok has provided 12 Tips on How to Become a Faster Writer which include some very sensible ideas. It is good to remember that you aren’t going to suddenly be writing 3000 words an hour if you currently write at a rate of 300 words an hour.

Roy Peter Clark’s article on Poynter similarly offers 12 tips but aimed at the non-fiction writer. There are still some tips there that fiction writers could use, including making a plan of what you want to write about.

And I’m sure that there are many more out there, and some good books too.

Work out what you want from your writing and why you might want to increase your writing speed before deciding on a course of action. But if this all seems too much, start with Write, Publish, Repeat.