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.

2016 Third Quarter Goal Check

2016-third-quarter-checkI recently had a bit of a panic attack about what I was doing with my writing and where it was going. I was stressing about my deadlines. Because I had read or heard in one of my courses, that I should try to produce as much as possible. But I was worried that I was sacrificing quality for quantity and so I took some time to reassess.

Way back at the beginning of the year my writing goals included:

  • Reading every day
  • Continuing with the Legend of Iski Flare novella series with episodes 2, 3 and 4 planned for release this year
  • The Raven Crown series books 1 and 2 planned for release this year. (Book 3 in 2017)
  • The Mark of Oldra (formerly known as Snow) will be released at the beginning of February
  • The Flow of Ink will continue to blog every week and produce a monthly newsletter. I am changing the posting day to Sunday.
  • Improve my marketing skills to boost readership of my books and blog
  • There will be some ideas generating for next year, including expansions on some of the larger works I’m putting out this year and a new series that has started bubbling away.

At my last goal check, at the end of June, things were looking pretty good.

Here is where I am at the three quarter mark of 2016:

 

Reading

I am almost reading every night and trying to work my way through the bedside pile. Kindle is my problem here as I keep seeing and buying and not getting to the physical books on the bedside table.

I joined a review group but find that I’m feeling pressured to read and when my editing is intense I’m not getting the chance. I also wasn’t getting many reviews in return for all the reading I was doing and so I’ve pulled out of the group to focus on my own writing first.

I do still review everything I read because I understand how important those reviews are.

 

The Legend of Iski Flare

I have now published three episodes of Iski’s adventures and I’m really pleased with how he is going. I am currently working on Episode 4 due for release on October 31.

I have reworked these so that they are all formatted the same way and as I go, I am inserting a sample of each episode in the previous one. Episode 5 is brewing away and I will start outlining at the end of the year.

 

The Raven Crown Series

The first in this series is coming together. Partly because I started putting in the work required to get it done. I have a fantastic cover designed.

This is the book that pushed me over the edge. Partly because I hadn’t shared any of it before and the varied responses from beta readers threw me for a spin. Although it was to be expected, I had only given myself a week to rework the manuscript before sending it to the proofreader. So after taking some deep breathes to get the oxygen back to my brain, I rescheduled the proofreader and gave myself some decent time to sort out the issues raised.

I also gave myself some extra time to make sure it was uploaded and ready for print at the same time (or they will be close) before the launch date. I would much rather you had a good story to read than just promising it comes out sooner.

I was working my way through the edit for book two but that is taking a back seat to book 1 at the moment.

 

The Mark of Oldra

I reported last time that The Mark of Oldra was published earlier this year and now I have finally organizing a print version. This is available as print on demand Amazon.com only at this point) and I’m selling off the side of my desk (literally). I’m working on the advertising for the print copy and I’m planning a Goodreads giveaway for October.

Still too scared to shop it around just yet, but I will get there.

 

The Flow of Ink

I am managing to maintain my weekly blog post. And I am somewhat more organized and scheduling ahead of time. I continue to fiddle with little bits of the site, including using a new program to put in lead pages and buttons that connect readers to my newsletter and a free book.

[insert button here]

 

Marketing and Social Media

As I reported last time, I am still learning. I wonder if I will ever learn it all. I struggled with Hootsuite and switched to Tweetdeck. Then I got carried away with scheduling posts only to discover the same ones were appearing on my timeline repeatedly. I’ve eased off a bit and gone back to just tweeting what is happening at the time, whether writing or life or writing life related.

I am working my way through a Facebook Advertising Course for Authors which is really interesting and I’m learning a lot. Although I’ve only run a couple of ads so far (the cost worries me) but the second one did reasonably well. I completed a marketing course for gaining readers and how now signed up for a more comprehensive course with Nick Stephenson.

 

Next Project

Despite all my stress of late, I have played with a few ideas over the last couple of months for writing projects, everything from erotica to memoirs. But I am passionate about my fantasy writing and so I’m sticking with that.

I have an idea forming for another trilogy. It is fantasy but quite different to what I’m currently doing. I’ll let you know more when I have a better idea of what it is. And there are some short stories swimming around in there too.

 

Summary

Overall I am very pleased with how I’m going this year, despite having to rethink my major project’s time lines. I had more than a few moments of doubt this quarter as to whether I could deliver what I wanted to.

And other than lawns and painting and dance exams (and maybe Star Trek on Netflix) I’m actually doing pretty well. So there will be a novel delivered this year, and another Iski Flare adventure.

I won’t deliver what I thought I would at the beginning of the year. At times I forget just how much I have to squeeze into my life: working full time, being a single parent, all the house work, yard work and occasionally sleeping.

I have used this current restructuring to look at next year and what I can seriously deliver, in a reasonable time frame. I’m still looking at a couple of projects at a time but it will be a good year. I will refine this as I get closer to the end of the year and I’ll fill you in around Christmas time, or early next year when I release my goals for 2017. And I hope it doesn’t scare you if I mention I’m thinking about what that will mean for 2018 as well.

My Drafting Process

My Drafting ProcessI have talked previously about my editing process, but as I’m currently drafting a new Iski Flare story I thought you might be interested in my processes around drafting.

I started out as a pantser and deep down I still kind of go with the flow. But now I would describe myself as a bit more of a planning pantser.

There are lots of articles and books out there with a range of opinions on how to outline and plan your story, and the level of detail you need before you start writing.

I use a combination of processes to outline each Iski Flare story but it seems to work best for me, at this stage. I start with the idea and the fairytale I’m basing my story on. I try to pull my idea down into a single sentence but at this early point it is more the idea of the story.

Then I use some tips from Holly Lisle to pull the main characters, the main conflict, twists and setting together.

I use this as the base to start the Snowflake Method. I don’t use all of this process as I think it gets too detailed. But I follow the steps through, summarising the story as a paragraph and then expanding that out to a page with all the main story points.

KM Weiland is brilliant when it comes to structure and plotting, and she has written several really good books on the subject. I have a summary page I created with a structure outline with all the main stage needed for a good story structure.

I then put my page long summary into the structure sheet to create my outline. I think for some of my larger works I need to develop that a bit further to include some more detailed beats. But for Iski it is enough.

For each Iski episode I aim for around 20,000 words. So I also add to the outline roughly how many words I want in each section.

Then it’s time to write.

I make the time and using the notes as a starting point away I go.

I don’t worry about spelling, I don’t read back over what I have written, unless it is the beginning of the next writing session and I might need a little reminder. I just type. I don’t worry if it is any good, I don’t worry if I’ve forgotten a name, or haven’t got a name yet.

For this first draft I am only worried about getting the story down. The bones of it onto the page.

It is the editing process that will look at the details and make sure that it all flows together, that there is consistency, and that everyone has a name and a clear voice.

The first draft is getting a feel for the story. For me it is Iski letting me know what he wants, or discovering it with him as he works his way through the issues with Flare, those he meets and his ongoing battle to prove himself a man. Sometimes he gets whiny, or frustrating but I have to let that go, let him talk it out or punch it out sometimes, and then we can revisit on the next round.

To Iterate and Optimize

To Iterate and Optimize

I have recently been making an effort to review every book I read. I don’t usually share those here, but you can find some on Goodreads.

 

A couple of years ago I read Write, Publish, Repeat by Johnny B Truant and Sean Platt (you can see that review here) and I have signed up to all sorts of goodies that these boys do. And I try to read their books – because along with everything else they are great writers. Not only great writers but inspiring writers – I so want to be them when I grow up!

Iterate and Optimize is the follow up in their writing processes to Write, Publish, Repeat. And before you jump into this brilliant book read the first one. Seriously, you must read it first.

So now that you are pumped from the first one, the second is not only well written and explains how well these guys have iterated and optimized their writing; but it is also entertaining and engaging.

 

The book’s sections are:

Part 1 – Know thyself (and thine outcomes)

Part II – What we iterated and optimized, why we did it, and what we learned.

Part III – Steps you can take to start iterating and optimizing right now

Part IV – Iteration and optimization success stories

 

What kind of things they cover:

Everything you could possibly want or need to know (even if you didn’t know you needed to know before you opened this book) is covered. And covered well. Not all of these tips will work for all writers, and they tell us that. Iterate and Optimize shares what these authors have tried, what worked for them and also what didn’t and they explain why that is.

The honesty of this work shows that writing isn’t an overnight success. It is a lot of hard work, but it is possible.

The key point I got from this book is that I’m not quite ready for it. I don’t have enough books out there, so I’m going back to focusing on the producing stage (book 1). But this was full of great ideas and options for when I am ready for them. And some of them I’m trying now. And Part III has lots of tips to start making my writing better now, as I work at producing more.

They have a great group of support around them and have connected with some other great authors too. They include links to other useful books which I loved.

 

This book gave me new hope, even though it showed me that there is a lot of work involved and a lot more to come. It has helped me refocus on producing rather than trying to do it all for one book (like I talked about last week). Much of what I have read here I will revisit as I need it and the rest can ruminate for the next year or so until I’m ready.

If you want to take your writing to the next level then this is the book for you.

Dangers of the Soft Deadline

The Danger of Soft Deadlines

I have recently discovered that I’m not as good at meeting my own deadlines as I previously thought. And it is somewhat disappointing.

I had really hoped that I would be announcing the release of my next book but I’m not quite ready. Part of the reason is that I didn’t think to factor in other work I needed to reach the deadline, such as cover design. I only started discussions with the designer in the last week or so.

I also had a freak out about the story as a whole and sent it out to beta-readers. Thankfully they got back to me in a reasonable time but all of these activities impact on when I will be finished.

I haven’t been as strict with myself as I should have been either. My writing times have slipped and I’m a little distracted with other things, such as Christmas and end of year activities and catch-ups.

My plan for the future is to set a firm deadline with clear milestones and factor in some wiggle room. I have reworked my plans for next year to include some practices earlier in the process, such as cover design so that they are ready long before I need them.

I haven’t reached all my writing goals this year and that is simply down to me not completing work on time, or at all. I want to start treating this as a business, in that I take it seriously but I’m not sure that I’ve been taking myself seriously as a writer.

It is clear that the only thing holding me back is me.

I have changed the way I do some things over the course of the last year. Something that has dropped away is my weekly to do list. First on my list for this week is to create a list; capture everything I need to do and then make a clear plan. Too often in the last few weeks I have just moved items from one day to the next without thinking of the bigger picture.

If I am going to achieve what I plan to next year, I am going to have to make some changes to my thinking.

 

Stay tuned– there will be a new release coming shortly:

The Legend Begins, Episode 1 of The Legend of Iski Flare Series

 

The strangest thing I’ve learnt from my writing

The strangest thing I've learnt from my writing

I have recently run a series of articles around what we can learn from writing. These included two great guest posts about language and learning from writing and then my own take on practice. I’m sure there are lots more than we discussed and everyone is going to learn all sorts of different things; whether strange or wonderful will also vary.

In relation to this I thought I would share the strangest thing I’ve learnt from my writing.

There are a lot of strange things I have learnt from my writing but top of the list is the life the characters develop; how real they can be and how demanding. I find that they tend to tell their own story and I’m just a medium between the character and the page. Sometimes they aren’t that clear and other times I have actually stopped typing and thought: “Wow! Where did that come from? Why did you say that? Is that why you have been behaving the way you have? or What do you know that I don’t?”

Most of my characters are far more intuitive and observant than I am.

Some of them are able to solve plot problems when I’m not, others create them. They live a life of their own.

It is a wonder where they come from. Whether my own imagination, my subconscious or my muse they seem to be separate entities from me. I may have created them, or given them life but they live that life how they like. More often than not they live how they see fit and not how I want them to. It’s like being a parent and hoping you kids grow up to be clever, useful sort of people in healthy relationships but they don’t. They do their own thing, experiment, get into fights, pick the wrong men, or miss out on the good ones.

The best way to deal with this? I’m not sure I’ve found it yet. I let them go their own way and see what happens. If they drag the story too far from where I think it should be I try to reign them in. More often than not they know better than me what they’re doing and it’s better to wait it out and see where they are going.