Mayday! Mayday! (AKA May Update Day)

Hi all! Today’s the last Friday in May, and that means that it’s time for another update for my monthly blogfest. 

For those of you who are new to my blog, Beth Fred and I host a blogfest where the participants list their goals, then post monthly updates on progress. We then go around and cheer each other on or commiserate. Whichever works best. You’re more than welcome to join if you have a huge, hugely important or just plain crazy goal. You can click here for more information and to see who else is participating. 
And now… My progress report. 
Remember when I said that May was just going to be a nice calm month for me? 
Well… Turns out it wasn’t. Because I realized that I’m very very close to publishing two of my books. Which means that I’ve now set a release date for both: 31 June.
I set this goal on 1 May, which is why it didn’t make it into my previous goal post, but it’s had a huge effect. See, I thought that I’m close to finished with the stories, so I should be able to get the final, formatted versions done in no time at all. 
Which was good in theory, but I’m still editing. Why? Because my business is popping back somewhat like a mushroom at the same time. 
Having learned from the great shoe disaster of 2014, I’m trying to keep the growth controlled so that my mother and I (we’re business partners) can maintain a hold on the business without it taking over everything in our lives. 
The thing is, this takes effort too. 
Add to all this a flu that keeps leeching my energy levels and we have a perfect storm. 
Anyway, these are the goals I set, along with what I achieved or didn’t achieve in May:

My Goals for May:

Writing:

1) Write, edit and/or rewrite something every weekday.

There were 21 weekdays in the month, and I wrote and/or edited something on 18 days (although I did put in extra hours and some weekends to stay more or less caught up.)
2) Continuity edits between Wo6C1 and 2.

Just so we’re on the same page, these are The Vanished Knight and The Heir’s Choice. I’m through TVK, but have only just started with THC.

3) Copy edits for BvB1

I sent the version out for critiques yet again, but I’m thinking I’ll just not work on this until I’m done with TVK and THC.

4) Revisions/Edits for ES1 and the Untethered Realms Anthology story I submitted.

Did Untethered Realms Anthology. ES1…no.

5) Finish rewrites to O1.

No.

6) Flesh out concepts for P and my Science Fiction story idea.

Nope

I did, however, also achieve a whole slew of related things that I’ll mention under the Social Media heading. And I finished and posted two back cover blurbs for publishing. Oh AND I sorted out a few mess-ups about my ISBNs.

Reading

1) Read King Lear.

Still haven’t gotten to this.

2) Read something by one of my blogging buddies.

Three words: Mark. Of. Nexus. I’ll hopefully be reading the last book in the series this weekend.

3) See how close I can get to reading 10 books this month.

Currently at 5 books, with me maybe reading the sixth by Sunday. I’m planning to have a lazy(ish) weekend in bed in an attempt to kill this flu bug.

Social Media

This is assuming that Internet and/or my country’s electricity provider actually work like they should…

1) Catch up on blog visits.

This I managed.

2) Catch up on Wattpad Critiques I’ve promised.

This I didn’t.

I did, however, also do the following: 

1) Sort out my author page(s) on Amazon. 
2) Expand my Wattpad readership
3) Start a tumblr blog (mishagerrick.tumblr.com in case you’re interested)
4) Add both the new version of TVK and the first edition of THC to Goodreads. 
5) Reach C in my blog sort out (Yep, still ongoing) and took part in a blogfest that’s not my own. 
6) Post much more regularly on both this and my lifestyle blog than I’ve done in almost a year. 
7) Basically I’ve confirmed most of my blog tour and cover reveal running up to the book releases. 

Life

1) Mainly, my goal is to get back to my happy place this month. (Other than my continuing goal of getting my business back off the ground.)

Happy place mostly achieved, partly because the business seems to be hovering off the ground and ready to fly.

2) Do something artistic or crafty that isn’t writing related every weekend.

Eh…I’ve been driving around a lot to meetings in the week, so I crocheted in the car a lot. So weekends ended up being when I caught up on edits.

Still with me? Awesome. Have a cookie. Don’t worry, my June goals will be quick:

Basically: Yesterday, I realized that I might be going to Europe in June for work, which might make June one heck of a complicated month for me.

As such, I’m going to go the simple route.

Writing:

1) For TVK and THC: Finish everything that needs to get finished for the final formatted submissions by mid-June.

2) Send out review copies by mid-June. (Or a week after that if I must.)

Reading:

Read enough to keep sane, but other than that, no set goal.

Social Media:

1) Get started on the materials needed for the blog tour.
2) Continue with the stuff I’ve been doing because it seems to be working.

Life

Basically to keep growing my business and not go insane while I’m putting myself through a publishing hell of my own creation. Which might mean letting off steam with other crafts.

How are you doing on your goals? Think I’m going to make it or are you finding seats for the possibly inevitable fireworks of disaster?

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Nick Wilford on Joining Writers’ Networks Online

Hi all! Today, I’m welcoming one of my oldest blogging friends as part of his blog tour. Take it away, Nick!

Thanks, Misha! As writers and bloggers, we all know it can be hard to push ourselves and our stories out there in the social media world, but the rewards can be immense. I don’t think it’s like we imagine before starting either – at least, not for me. Today I want to talk a little about how we take those baby steps into declaring ourselves as a writer online and what motivates us.

My collection features four short stories and one flash piece alongside my novella A Change of Mind. Four of these saw their first outing some five years ago now, on the critique website ABC Tales.

I actually came across this site by accident. I’d just written my first novel over a two and a half year period and I had sent it to an editor to have a look at. During this time I had not done a jot of social networking in terms of calling myself a writer – I was on Facebook, but barely, so I wasn’t really socially active online at all. I was a classic lurker – every now and then I would Google “writers’ websites”, come across a few forums, skim a few posts, shut them down again and that was it. My sister just happened to have a connection to an editor in London and told me she was willing to have a look at my book. So I sent it, but it would be a year before the reply came. So I brainstormed and wrote a lot of short stories – at least I’d done this before, unlike a novel.

I never gave a thought to anyone critiquing my stories. I didn’t have anything to lose, I just thought I’d write them and submit to places, but I had quite high hopes. Naïve, just a bit? I did many searches for magazines and websites and had already submitted to some when I came across a listing for ABC Tales, which said anyone could publish there just by uploading their story. Well, that sounded good to me. I clicked across and found pages where each story constituted a thread with comments underneath from the community. Ah – there was more to this than met the eye. Perhaps it might just be a good idea to get a little bit of feedback!

The standard of the postings was overall very high, and I felt a little intimidated. Nonetheless, I left a few tentative comments and suggestions on stories before posting my own. Again, with no expectations, but I was pleasantly surprised by the responses because I wasn’t sure my stories were up to much at all. For the first time, I saw the value of making writerly connections online, and I thank those kind contributors. I would still recommend ABC Tales to anyone.

Six months later, I got my first true publication, in Writer’s Muse magazine, but it would still be another year before I started my blog. This was after I had received the feedback from the novel editor, which advised my book would need an incredible amount of work. Yes, all helpful, but I was wringing my hands over this deconstruction of my baby after I’d received favourable responses to my shorter work. I wondered if I was meant to write novels at all. Eventually I started another one, and shortly after that I started my blog in order that I could talk to people about it. And I’m still here talking to you about it today.

What was your route into your writerly networking life? What was your motivation for doing so, and have those motivations changed at all?


Title: A Change of Mind and Other Stories
Author: Nick Wilford
Genre: Speculative fiction
Format: Ebook only
Page/word count: 107 pages, approx. 32,000 words
Release date: 25th May 2015
Publisher: Superstar Peanut Publishing

Blurb:

A Change of Mind and Other Stories consists of a novella, four short stories and one flash fiction piece. This collection puts the extremes of human behaviour under the microscope with the help of lashings of dark humour, and includes four pieces previously published in Writer’s Muse magazine. 

In A Change of Mind, Reuben is an office worker so meek and mild he puts up with daily bullying from his boorish male colleagues as if it’s just a normal part of his day. But when a stranger points him in the direction of a surgeon offering a revolutionary new procedure, he can’t pass up the chance to turn his life around.  But this isn’t your average surgeon. For a start, he operates alone in a small room above a mechanic’s. And he promises to alter his patients’ personality so they can be anything they want to be…  

In Marissa, a man who is determined to find evidence of his girlfriend’s infidelity ends up wondering if he should have left well alone. 

The Dog God finds a chink in the armour of a man with a megalomaniacal desire to take over the world.  

In The Insomniac, a man who leads an obsessively regimented lifestyle on one hour’s sleep a night finds a disruption to his routine doesn’t work for him.  

Hole In One sees a dedicated golfer achieving a lifelong ambition.  

The Loner ends the collection on a note of hope as two family members try to rebuild their lives after they are torn apart by jealousy.

Purchase Links:


Meet the author:


Nick Wilford is a writer and stay-at-home dad. Once a journalist, he now makes use of those rare times when the house is quiet to explore the realms of fiction, with a little freelance editing and formatting thrown in. When not working he can usually be found spending time with his family or cleaning something. He has four short stories published in Writer’s Muse magazine. Nick is also the editor of Overcoming Adversity: An Anthology for Andrew. Visit him at his blog or connect with him on Twitter or Goodreads.

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The Muse Party Blogfest

Hi all! Just because I felt like doing something a bit different, today, I decided to take part in Sarah Foster’s Muse Party Blogfest.

Basically, it’s a virtual party where writer’s and muses go. Or characters, if it comes to that. I’m dragging a character along, because he’s been veeeeery vocal while I’ve been editing the book he’s in. (If you’d like to join in or to see who else is at the party, click here.) Now without further ado, time to get going.

Misha: *Checks outside while she finishes getting dressed. Stifles a laugh because Darrion’s scowling while leaning against her car.*
Darrion: *Tugs at his collar, so not into this casual-not-taking-weapons-with outfit, but Callan and Kaela both insisted, so…*
Misha: *Heads out as soon as she’s done.*
Darrion: *Brightens slightly.* We can still skip the party.
Misha: What? No. I said we’re going and just not arriving is rude. Besides. I didn’t get dressed for nothing.
Darrion: *Looks her up and down* Well…you do look nice.
Misha: …Thanks.
Darrion: And I do so appreciate you not trying to make your dress match my shirt.
Misha: *squints, trying to figure out if he’s being sarcastic. Goes with… not.* Yeah. Not the matchy matchy type. *Gets into the car.*
Darrion: *mutters* Thank God. *Takes two bottles off the car’s hood and gets in as well.*
Misha: Says the guy who spends more than three quarters of his life in uniform.
Darrion: *Sing song* Not the same.
Misha: *Little shake of her head. Just drives.*
Darrion: Are you sure you have time for this? I mean–
Misha: Do not bring up all the editing I have to do. It’ll get done.
Darrion: *Tiiiiiny smile. Secretly loves winding her up.*
Misha: I should have invited my muse. *Glances his way.*
Darrion: Now why would you say that?
Misha: Or maybe I should have brought Gawain. He’s always a hit at parties.
Darrion: *Peeved* I can be a hit at parties too, you know. We’re friends for a reason.
Misha: Okay… What are we going to sing for karaoke?
Darrion: *Scowls*
Misha: See? You’re too uptight for strange parties.
Darrion: And yet, I’m a great conversationalist.
Misha: If you can resist hitting someone. *Groans* You’re not going to hit someone.
Darrion: *Scowls* Why am I coming with you again?
Misha: Because you won’t leave me alone, remember? You follow me around everywhere.
Darrion: Right. *Crosses his arms, making his shirt strain at his shoulders.*
Misha: What party game are we going to suggest?
Darrion: Is Quin coming? We can maybe tie him up and–
Misha: Don’t…
Darrion: *Grins* We only need to stop somewhere for sticks.
Misha: Gaaaaaaaah you’re incorrigible!
Darrion: *Chuckles* You love me for it. *Seriously thinks about a game that’s actually safe for everyone to play*
Misha: Musical Chairs it is.
Darrion:
Misha: *Explains*
Darrion: Oh…kay?
Misha: It’ll be fun.
Darrion: If you say so.
Misha: What’s in the bottles?
Darrion: Mulnich for me and… since you definitely can’t handle mulnich, liquid chocolate for you.
Misha: *Grins* Enough to share?
Darrion: *Nods*
Misha: *Grin widens* And that is why I love you.
Darrion: *Little smile back.*
Misha: *Sighs when they arrive at the party.*
Darrion: *Frowns at the entrance where people are milling around.* No one’s seen us yet. We can still escape.
Misha: Oh for the love of — *Gets out of the car.*
Darrion: *Follows* Can’t blame me for trying. You know I don’t generally do well with crowds.
Misha: Nonsense. You’re charming. You’re good looking. You’ll be the heart and soul of the party as soon as you smile.
Darrion: Exactly what I’m not looking forward to.
Misha: …You realize becoming King means you’ll deal with crowds for the rest of your life, right?
Darrion: Worth it.
Misha: *Can’t argue with that* Well…if you really don’t want to go… I’ll just go alone. Just…try and stay out of trouble, okay? *Heads in.*
Darrion: …*Sighs and catches up to her at the door, hooking her arm through his.* This is worth it too.
Misha: *Beams and kisses his cheek, then looks around for people she knows.*

How to Work on Multiple Projects

Every time I update on my goals and people see how much I actually want to get done in a month, there’s at least one person who says that he/she doesn’t understand how I can work on so many projects at one time.

So I thought some of you might find it interesting if I explain.

At one stage, I used to work on only one project at a time, but even then, never quite. If I was working on one project and another idea came up, I’d postpone that idea until I finished the rough draft of my main project. In other words, I’ve pretty much worked on at least two ideas since half way through Doorways. (In case you missed it, Doorways was split into two halves for a publishing deal and I generally refer to either half by their individual titles.)

I’ve never worked on only one project from conception to final edits. I guess my brain just doesn’t work that way. Usually I’d take a few weeks off from one project before starting to edit it. In that time, about a month or so in, I’d start another project. Only rarely, though, would I work on another project while drafting another.

NaNoWriMo 2012 made me reconsider this. That year, I’d written an entire rough draft in two weeks, but it came short of 50k words. And because I hadn’t had time to think about something else to write and had only two weeks left, I had to give up.

Then in 2013, I started to think of how much writing time I actually lose because of the time I take before starting that second project. Worse still, I’m prone to writer’s block while drafting and in those times, I’d take weeks without writing anything while my mind figured out whatever was keeping me from continuing a story.

When November came, I decided to work on three projects: One main project and two others that I can skip to in case I wrote myself into a corner with one. It worked a dream. In fact, I think I almost hit 60k words in that time, and finished the rough drafts by the end of December.

Then came my five year goal, and I decided to push myself out of my comfort zone by running writing and editing projects concurrently. That, as it turned out, works even better for me.
How do I do it?

I always work on different genres to separate the stories in my mind. 
E.G. I have an epic fantasy, an urban fantasy, a contemporary romance, and a dystopian pipelined for rough drafts. For edits, I have the first two books in the same epic fantasy series as the one I’m drafting, a historical romance and a mythology retelling. Very little chance of confusion for me because everything looks and feels different from everything else.

Everything has a priority list.
I’ll pick one rough draft, one rewrite and one edit at a time and then I don’t work on anything else unless it’s done or I get stuck.

In case of getting stuck, I’ll pick something else to work on until I get unstuck. 
It usually happens without much conscious thought from my side.

I never shelve anything indefinitely.
If something doesn’t work and I can’t figure out why, I might move it down the priority list, but I never remove something from it. This prevents me from having a ton of unfinished projects in my wake.

Speaking of which, I write down any shiny new ideas I might have and add it to the priority list.
And then I go right back to what I’m actually busy with.

I use spreadsheets to keep track of how many words I’ve written, rewritten and/or edited in a day, month and year by project.
I also have a spreadsheet calendar where I outline each of the goals I set for the month, so that I can see if I’ve been neglecting anything when I shouldn’t.

On any given day, I pick what I want to focus on.
Sometimes, it’s to edit, or to write a chapter, or to rewrite. I never move onto another project unless I’ve finished that task (or get stuck).

I wouldn’t be able to work on the projects the way that I do unless I had that priority list and a way to track my progress. Without them I probably would just end up going back to working on one or two projects at a time.

Now you know my secret.

Do you work on multiple projects? If so, how do you go about it? 

A to Z of Things Writers Should Know About Writing: Objectives

Hi all! Before I get started on today’s post: 

As you might know, I’m currently looking for people to help spread the word about my books’ impending book releases and reviewers. If you’d like to help me out, please feel free to sign up for any and/or all of the three lists I have up for the purpose. 

Right, and now today’s shameless plug is over and I can get started on today’s topic. 

Objectives

Today I’m sharing one of the big secrets on how I actually finished the books I’m publishing done. Ready? Brace yourself: 
I got my objectives right. 
See, once upon a time, I made the same mistake as a lot of writers out there. I said: “I want to be a writer!” 
Which is great, but really, I became a writer the day I decided to sit down every day and write a few words. (Really, that’s all it takes. Being a writer and being anything else aren’t mutually exclusive. All it takes is to have a regular writing schedule and sticking to it.) 
That did not mean that any books were getting done, though. 
Because no, writing every day doesn’t guarantee finishing a book. I’ve already written about it elsewhere in the series, so I’m not going to go into it again. 
The point is that it takes commitment and dedication to finish a story. Not to becoming a writer. 
To finishing the story you’re working on. 
That’s the objective you should be concerned with. After that, your next objective should be to finish edits. After that, to take some sort of action toward publishing your book. (Be it self publishing or finding an agent/publisher.) 
Et voila! You’re a writer anyway.
But now you’re a writer with a book to sell too. 
All because you put your focus in the right place. 
How do you approach your writing career? Do you set short term goals? What’s your goal at the moment?  

To Newsletter or Not to Newsletter

This is probably going to get quite a few people upset. You know…in the same order of upset as “I don’t think hard selling on Twitter sells books.” 

The thing is just… 
Well. 
I don’t like newsletters. 
At all. 
Not even a little. 
In fact, even if I once upon a time subscribed to them, getting one in my inbox immediately spikes my blood pressure. 
Which is why I’ve now taken to not signing up to them anymore. Sorry to everyone who’s asked, but when it comes to newsletters, I’m definitely not your target audience. 
And yet it seems like everyone swears by them. 
And just when I get sold on the idea, I get one of those danged things in my inbox and there goes all the convincing. 
So here are the reasons why I don’t like the idea of a newsletter: 
1) If I’ve created an online place where someone could just go to check out for updates (which I now do), why must I send a newsletter? 
2) Given that I have blogs and/or writing gigs for: writers, readers, spec fic readers, women, people who like reading about someone taking charge of their lives, AND interior freaking decorating (yes, really), I honestly don’t see what the heck a newsletter would add. More than that, I don’t know what I’d even put in the newsletter. Other than HEY! By the way… I have a new book out. 
3) And if “HEY! I HAVE A BOOK OUT!” is all I have to ever say in a newsletter, that’s pretty much equal to (in my mind at least) hard selling on Twitter. 
4) Given the sheer volume of people now swearing to newsletters, I’m really wondering if my newsletter would even make a dent? 
BUT! 
That said, I know that sometimes, it’s not just about what I like. Marketing is about doing things the market likes. 
Except: Does the market even really like newsletters? 
So please do let me know your thoughts. And your reasoning if you are using newsletters. 

Just a quick check-in.

I was going to post something I’d written a while back about how I actually work on multiple goals at a time, but I haven’t had a chance to visit any blogs since Wednesday, so I don’t think it would be fair to subject people to a long(ish) post.

And although it’s only 8:30 pm at the moment, I’m exhausted.

It hasn’t actually been a really tough week, but I think the change of season has caught up with me with a cold or something draining my energy.

I’m thinking that going to sleep now and sleeping in will probably help me get over the slump. On the other hand, this will be yet another day where I haven’t continued final proofreading for The Vanished Knight. 

Or any of the other writing, critique, publishing and/or editing related things I’m supposed to do. And today is half way through this month.

How strange. I thought May was supposed to be my month off.

Anyway. I’m a bit frustrated at the moment. I want to get The Heir’s Choice online for pre-orders too. Because until I do, I’m a bit hampered in my marketing efforts. (Hard to point people anywhere when I don’t have anywhere for them to go to.)

And my problem is that I’m not getting the blurb the way I want. It’s seriously frustrating, because I’m great at helping other people with their blurbs.

My own, on the other hand, are constantly kicking my ass.

So I’m thinking I should just go sleep and start again when I’m refreshed. No point to trying to edit while sleepy.

How are you doing? Do you also have trouble with your own blurbs?