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.

Refocusing my writing life

refocusing my writing lifeRecently I had a bit of a rant about self publishing and all the extras that go into it.

It may have come across as a bit of a whinge. But it wasn’t meant as such. I just wanted you to be aware, like I wasn’t fully, that there really is a lot you need to consider when self publishing.

Another thing to consider is online, print or a combination of both and then marketing. I’ve mentioned marketing before. It scares me, honestly, but then it is something I will have to work through.

I have had all sorts of advice recently about how to best sell my books and what format they should be in. There was also a conversation about giving back to the local community, supporting my independent bookstore type thing, by asking them to sell my book.

Anyway, I can get a bit obsessive, maybe, and I tend to take an idea and run with it. So after such a conversation I was researching local stores, finding key contacts, scanning shelves for other indie published books in said stores (only found two by the way in fiction) and contacted my cover designer about turning my ebook cover into a wraparound paperback cover. I even thought about a stall (with banners) at the local market!

All of this took time and energy and I waxed and waned between super excited by the possibilities and physically sick thinking of all I had to do. I even reformatted a version of the book for print.

Ok, now it certainly sounds like I’m ranting. What I wanted to say today was that firstly, I have calmed down. Truly, I’m much more relaxed. Secondly, I’m reverting to the original plan.

The original plan: write and get my stories out there.

I was spending too much energy on all the little bits, and so I have refocused on the writing part. The production part. The more books I get out the better. The better quality the story is the better.

Yes, I need to look at marketing and platforms and the like but I have felt like I’m rushing things. Just to get the one book in a shop window. It would be nice, but it is not the reason I write.

And that is what pulled me back into line. Someone asked why I’m doing this. And the simple answer is writing. I love to write. I love to read the story as it unfolds across the screen before me. I love to watch my characters grow and despite my frustrations at their misbehaviour, I love to find out what they are up to and where they think they are going.

I also want to share those stories, in their best possible telling, for others to enjoy as much as I do. So editing and proofreading and covers are important too.

I read a post recently (Nicola Alter) about whether books or movies make you cry. Now, like Nicola, I cry at most things. I sobbed through the end of Home (the animated movie) while my daughter patted my hand and whispered that it would all be fine, even though I was sure it wouldn’t be (she’s good like that). And I sobbed so much during the “red wedding” scene that I couldn’t finish reading the scene until I had calmed down and blotted my eyes a bit (and that took quite a while). But I laugh out loud when I read my own work sometimes, and I’ve cried a lot too, when my characters are in a difficult situation and when I’ve killed one off.

So amongst all of this sharing you are probably wondering if I have a point. Yes. I do. Honestly.

I’m writing. I’m self publishing but not stressing about all the countless options for self publishers (at least trying not to). I like electronic publishing and it may be that I add print on demand as an option with these and later look at branching out. But for now, I have a whole cast of characters in a range of worlds vying for my attention and I think they deserve it. Iski has countless adventures to write down, before he gets too far ahead of me. I have the Raven Crown Series that wakes me in the night, but not necessarily from the book I’m currently working on so I need to rustle them into the pages. And just because my head isn’t full enough of people that only exist for me, I have a new character shouting at me; living in a world I haven’t quite reconciled yet. And although she’s dragging me to Pinterest far too often, I’m trying to ignore her because Iski and Meg and a few others need to come first.

And if you ask me if there is a follow up to The Mark of Oldra coming, I might cry. But I may have some ideas there too…

If you are interested in reading any of my writing before it hits the shelves, send me an email saying you would like to be a reviewer or beta reader. If you want to know when all of these books are likely to make it to the world outside my head, sign up for the newsletter (on the upper right). I waffle a bit more there, but I also share how close stories are to release.

Why do you write?

My Number One Tip to Beat Writers Block

beating writers block

A couple of years ago I struggled with long periods of writers block. This impacted on everything I was trying to write at the time, including my Masters. It was hard going. What was worse, just when I thought I had moved through it, I was hit with another period of inability to write.

One of the keys to moving through a writing block is to work out what causes it in the first place. For me, writers block hits when I am overwhelmed by what I have to do. It may be that it is too much; or the deadlines are scary; or there is a lot of pressure behind the writing work, such as my Masters; or a combination of all of these things.

Strangely, the magic relief to these periods of writers block was to work between several projects.

I have heard others say that this is not a good idea; that you can’t be focused when multi-tasking. Switching between multiple projects is not multi-tasking. It is working on different projects, one at a time.

Let me clarify with some examples. I will work on an Iski Flare manuscript until I need a break from it; then I’ll draft a couple of blog posts. I might spend some time editing another story or playing with ideas for a new story.

I am not trying to work on several projects at the same stage at the same time; that is, I’m not trying to draft two stories at the same time. That wouldn’t work at all for me. That would be one of those crazy ideas that would lead to becoming overwhelmed at the state of two different stories and so lead to a major stumbling block.

I usually have one project in draft, one in edit and one in final production stage. This means that if I become overwhelmed by one, or tired, I can switch to something else. I love drafting. I find that easiest of all my writing tasks. But then I love to nurture that into something stronger. So, I can work my writing tasks in around my energy levels and keep the momentum going.

Given my timetable for this year there is a little more overlap in stages of projects than I would like but it generally works. It may be that if I’m editing two works, I focus on one for a week and then the other and they would be at different edits. If I have a deadline looming then it might be that I can’t concentrate on anything other than what I have to get done.

The mind works in strange ways and I have found a few ways to work with mine to get the most out of it. Keeping busy keeps me writing. The key is to find the right balance of busy writing without tipping into Overwhelmed World, where there is so much to do that no writing gets done at all.

 

How do you like working?

Is it large chunks of time or little? Can you follow one project through from start to finish without getting distracted, or blocked or burnt out; or do you have to think about something else at times?

I would love to hear your stories and tips on beating writers block – hit reply to this post and share them with me.

What is my writing focus?

piles of writing

There seems to be so much to think about this week that my brain has kind of stalled. Maybe it is more bunny hopping as it has moments of clarity before it all gets too much. This is because I move later this week and my brain is trying to ensure I have everything done, organising all the little bits involved in moving (including when I can buy the milk so that I can maintain my tea levels whilst directing movers away from my crisp white walls – See? I’m ranting).

OK and breath.

Right, so on top of the craziness of moving I have been thinking about where I am going with my writing and what I really want to achieve.

I currently have three projects (outside of the website) on the go – one at planning, one at drafting and one at editing. None of which has progressed very far in the last week or so.

On top of that a friend and I decided we wanted to write together. We have talked about for years but done nothing about. So after much discussion and working out what sort of thing we want to do we are starting to plan a series of novellas.

I’m sure once I am in my new, crisp writing space it will all seem a little easier. The ideas are flowing for all projects (moving included) and my hope is that they don’t become too muddled in my head (although it all feels quite muddled as the moment).

Around all the writing and craziness of moving I have been playing with ideas for making money from my writing – copyediting, proofreading, copywriting etc. – but it all distracts from writing fiction which is where I really want to be. It might help me earn some more funds towards supporting my writing but really I need to focus on what is important.

So even though I am literally up to the eyebrows with writing projects it is what I love. And I know that I can settle and focus and start getting some more writing out there. Trying to start a “writing business” on the side when I already have a day job is just a distraction from what I want. I do need to think about marketing and growing my audience to be able to sell more fiction. In some ways this is part of my business, particularly as I am currently self publishing. This has been part of the learning curve to work out what business of writing I am in and what I need to do to make that a success.

It certainly helps to write things down. Getting the ideas out of my head and onto paper, just like a first draft, helps to clarify my goals and wants. Once I am settled into my new house I plan to take the time to look over my writing goals for this year, how they are going and what may have changed.

It might be that I write about writing and finding time to write and other gems of knowledge I discover along the journey and I’m ok with that. And I hope along the way it helps you on your writing journey (whatever shape that takes).

Ensuring the flow of ink continues across the page…

The Flow of Ink
The Flow of Ink

I have stressed a little over the last couple of weeks about my drafting processes and the progress of my current work. The stress threatened to halt the writing process altogether but I was determined not to let it.

The key is to focus on the fact that this is drafting and it doesn’t have to be perfect at this point. I just need to get the story down and sort out the problems in the next draft or revision process. The majority of what I have so far is following my outline and I have even drafted (most of) it in chronological order.

But now I am seeing the gaps and losing characters and…stressing.

To prevent the onset of writer’s block and keep the work flowing this is what I am trying:

Write. It doesn’t matter how, or whether the scenes are in order or even if the scene is in my outline. Just getting the story down however it comes to me. Previously I have written out of sequence and so I am allowing myself to write anywhere over the three books when I need to. When I get stuck, I read through the last scene I wrote and then go from there.

Any idea could be a good idea. I am exploring new ideas as they form. Given that this is a first draft they may not survive the next one but a new idea could spark a better, stronger story.

No stressing about where characters are or what they are doing when I’m not writing them directly. They are important and I should spend some time thinking about them, and I do, but not worry during the writing process as to where they were before they walked into the room. If I am relaxed about it, the more likely they are to tell me where they have been. Giving my characters space to tell their story is important. I’ll let them tell me what they think they want and I can rein them in during the next draft if required. Sometimes they surprise me in a great way and I don’t want to lose that.

Using Scrivener to arrange my scenes. I took every scene and put it into a separate document in a Scrivener binder. I have kept all three books together so that I can clearly see what I have got. As I have started writing out of order it is easy to put the scene into the right place. And with each scene listed I can see what is missing, where my gaps are and who’s POV might have slipped a bit.

Reminding myself that this is the first draft (or the Blah draft as a friend calls it). It certainly is not perfect nor should it be. It is to get the story down and test the plot and the characters and learn about them as they develop on the page. It is ok if it is crap. That is what revision is for, to clear out the exposition and better define characters and setting.

 

Focusing on things like the number of words still to go, or the number of hours needed until it is readable just slows the creative process down and, as it did recently, threaten to halt it. I am pleased that the words are still flowing, sometimes fast and furious and sometimes at a snail’s pace but they flow non-the-less.

Are your words flowing?