Update Day (Leap Year Edition)

I can’t believe that yet another month has passed for this year. It’s a bit shocking to think, but we’re going into the last month of the first quarter. Today is the last Friday of the month, which means it’s time for another Update Day.

For those of you who don’t know, Beth Fredand I host a monthly bloghop. We’re currently fourteen writers who set big/crazy/important goals and then update once a month on our progress toward those goals.

You can click here for more information and more detail on the rules. As for the rest of the people taking part in the bloghop…

http://www.simply-linked.com/listwidget.aspx?l=FF64F07D-7C24-4F9D-9F74-B5AFA89E3BCC





So… let’s see how I did on my goals for last month:




Writing: 


1) 60k written, 60 hours edited or a combination of the two.
I’m REALLY close at the moment. Between rewrites and edits, I racked up 59k words. I want to write some more before the end of the month, but we’ll see. Since I’m moving house at the moment.

2) Finish Wo6C3 rewrites.
Funny story. The rewrites have been finished for months now without me realizing it.

3) Finish Endless edits and formatting. 
Done.

4) Revise ES1
Didn’t get to this, but all my critiques are in.

5) Resume writing BvB2
Didn’t get to this either.

6) Start rough revisions to O1
Nor this.

7) Prep DM1 rewrite
*Cough* I uh… *cough cough* Wrote 37k words for the rewrite. *Cough hack cough*

8) Work on CdW concept.
Didn’t get to this.

9) Rough draft StW.
Didn’t get to this.

Reading:


Read 6 books.
Not a single book this month. Work, writing and life conspired to make reading impossible to me.

Networking & Marketing:


1) Finish arranging blog tour. 
Pretty much done.

2) Send out e-arcs to reviewers. 
Not yet, but I’m basically just waiting for a reliable internet connection so I can send the books out.

3) Start A to Z Challenge Posts.
Nope.

4) Start prepping for blog tour.
I’ve started here and there, but I’ll make more progress this month.

5) Finish Endless paperback cover.
Done. And I love it.

6) Maintain current blogging activity.
Meh… I had to pull back this week because I just didn’t have the time I wanted to use on social networking.

7) Become more active on one more social network. 
This neither. I’m hoping things will be settling down this month so I can get stuck in properly.

Life: 


1) Get into a regular work/life/writing schedule.
This month was taken over by work and all other available time went into writing and publishing.

2) Maintain diet change.
I did this as far as possible, but with moving house, healthy eating has pretty much become impossible for the short term.

3) Keep singing.
Done.

4) Find new exercise/sport activity.
Not done.

Overall, I think I actually did pretty well on the important stuff, but my work schedule and life at the moment has basically made it impossible for me to achieve more, no matter how much I’d wanted it.

Now…

My goals for March:


Writing:


1) 60000 words written or 60 hours edited or some combination of the two.
2) Revisions to Wo6C3
3) Rough edits to ES1
4) Rough draft BvB2
5) Finish rewrite to DM1
6) Prep rewrite for SS1
7) Work on concept for CdW
8) Rough draft for StW
9) Edits for The Thing That Turned Me and Ghosts of Fire.

Reading:


Read 6 books
Read at least a few chapters of Les Trois Mousquetaires.

Networking and Marketing:


1) Send out e-arcs if not done by end February.
2) Send out posts and information to everyone involved with the Endless blog tour.
3) Get back into a regular blogging schedule.
4) More involvement in one more social network.
5) Update Amazon’s Author Profiles.
6) Plan and create A to Z Challenge posts.

Life:


1) Create balance for work/writing/life
2) Get back into healthy eating habit.
3) Continue with vocal training.
4) Unpack house.
5) Find new sporting/exercise activity. (Yes, this one will keep appearing every month until I actually get this done.)


That’s me for now. How are your goals going so far? 
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I’m moving again.

Yep. I kid you not.

It’s actually a good thing, because I’ll be moving closer to where I work at the moment.

But it does mean that for most of this week, I’m probably not going to have time to blog. Luckily for me, the only thing I’ve got booked is my bloghop’s update day on Friday.

So. I’m going to just take most of this week off and get all this moving stuff done.

Hopefully by next week, I should be back in the swing of things.

Honestly, this really wasn’t what I’d wanted to do, but I feel like I’ve got too much going on right now for me to put the extra pressure of blogging deadlines on myself as well.

In short: See you on Friday.

RIP Harper Lee

I was really sad when I saw news about Harper Lee’s death today. But what really made me sad was the article about her in the New York Times.

The thought of her hopes and dreams and optimism on the back of her success, followed by decades of not producing a new story.

Part of me wants to think that there were other stories that she wrote and just didn’t share.

But whatever the truth of this might be, I’m grateful for the fact that she shared a beautiful book like To Kill a Mockingbird with the world. (I haven’t read Go Set a Watchman yet.)

May she rest in peace.

Annalisa Crawford on Reasons to Enter Writing Competitions

Hi everyone! Today, I’m welcoming Annalisa Crawford to my blog to tell us a bit more about entering writing competitions. Also, I want to congratulate her again for placing third in the Costa Awards. I’m so proud of you!

Reasons to Enter Writing Competitions 

by Annalisa Crawford

I love entering competitions – I like the idea of having my stories out in the world without having to do very much market research, and I like the anticipation when the long- or short-lists are released, followed closely by the winners. And, occasionally, I win… which I also like. Okay, I lose, as well; it’s a bit of a lottery. But that’s not a reason not to enter.
There are several regular comments people repeat when I talk to them about competitions. It’s too expensive. It’s a waste of time, you’ll never win. Contests are scams.
You might have your own reasons for avoiding them, but I’ll take the ones above one by one, and answer any others in the comments.
1.      It’s too expensive.
oYes, some of them are. I’ve actually paid £17 for a single entry before. I don’t pay that much often, but I weight up the prestige of the competition, the overall judge, and the prize money – and then I decide whether I have a story/can write a story that is worth £17.
oSome are completely free – such as the Costa Short Story Award. But you have to bear in mind how many people will enter a free competition, which will make your odds of winning reduce.
oMost of the competitions I enter are between £5 and £10.
2.      It’s a waste of time.
oI tend to enter stories that I have hanging around, those that I don’t know what to do with or have been rejected by a couple of magazines. Competitions usually have a looser idea of the type of story they are looking for – whereas a magazine will have a definite style.
oThe story can be tied up for several months, but as long as you build this into your submission plan, it won’t be a problem.
oThe discipline of writing a story, refreshing it, submitting it to a deadline is important. It gives you something to work towards.
3.      You’ll never win.
oWell, firstly, someone has to – why not you?
oOn the other hand, you probably won’t. You’ll be frustrated and angry, but you’ll get over it, and you’ll write something else. If you’re sensible, you’ll try to work out why that story didn’t work but the 1st/2nd/3rd place entries did. You’ll learn without even trying.
oA lot of the larger competitions these days are being judged by literary agents and publishers. They are not just judging the competition, they are looking out for good writers. Even if you don’t win, they might see your name, and they might be interested in you.
oYears ago, when I was just starting out, I’d see the same names on the long-lists and short-lists, then I’d see them placing 1st, 2nd or 3rd. Then I’d see them publishing their first novels. One name I remember seeing was Helen Dunmore.
4.      Contests are scams.
oI haven’t heard British writers complaining about this quite so much as US writers. But, if in doubt, don’t enter – or spend some time researching.
oRead the terms and conditions – I know most people don’t, but in this case it’s very important. You need to make sure you are following the rules so you won’t get disqualified, but you also need to know what happens to your story if you win – do you retain copyright, will the story be published. The terms will also flag up areas where it feels scam-like, in which case, don’t enter!


How about you? Do you enter? Have you won? Do you have doubts that I haven’t covered above?

Annalisa Crawford lives in Cornwall UK, with a good supply of moorland and beaches to keep her inspired. She lives with her husband, two sons, a dog and a cat.
She writes dark contemporary, character-driven stories, and has been winning competitions and publishing short stories in small press journals for many years. She recently won 3rd Place in the Costa Short Story Award 2015.

Just keep going

I’ve been griping a lot about my currently available amount of time lately. (Ask anyone who’s volunteered to host me for my blog tour.)

And just to make sure that everyone understands what I’m talking about:

Since the beginning of January, I have been working full days and then some, and then spent the remainder in a place with no Internet. Which means that my usual schedule of doing my work and finishing and then going over into writing has pretty much fallen by the way-side.

I’m hoping that this will change in the near future as we fall into more of a routine. (And we no longer have to rent a place with no internet reception.) But in the meantime, I think my expected writing time has been reduced by two thirds.

No, I’m not kidding.

BUT!

I’m still getting stuff done. A lot of stuff. Two weeks into February and I’ve written and/or edited the equivalent of almost 40k words. I probably would have been there already but for a work function that kept me up until midnight on Thursday, but anyway.

I think this rate of output, given the amount of time I’ve had available, is impressive enough for me to sound like I know where I’m coming from.

Because I bet there are quite a few of you who are thinking: How in the heck is she managing that?!

My answer comes down to something like this.

Just keep writing.

I mean, I could have been going into a blind panic about my entire schedule changing, but instead, I wrote. I could have complained about my lack of internet at night.

I wrote instead.

I could have worried about the fact that I have less time to get things done… But… you know… I got things done.

I’m not going to say it’s easy. I’ve basically given up on my reading until I’ve 1) finished formatting Endless and 2) finished the rewrite I’m currently working on.

I’ve also swapped my whole writing routine around so that I can write at night and an hour every morning instead of in the late afternoon and early evening as I’m used to.

But write, I am writing. And apparently at an amazing rate.

So if you’re in the same boat where you’re struggling to find your usual writing time, don’t give up. 

If you can find five minutes every day, write for five minutes. If you can find twenty minutes, write for twenty minutes. No, it might not be the hour you believe you need, but it adds up to a whole lot more than nothing if you keep waiting for that perfect hour to show up.

And there you have it. My secret to writing a lot of words.

How much time in a day do you usually use to write? Have you ever needed to swap your routine around to fit your writing in? 


News Day

Hey everyone! Sorry I missed last week. I was supposed to gather some news pieces to share, but I literally had no time available to spend on the internet until this past weekend.

So for those of you who are unclear about what News Day is about: I’m running a (supposedly) regular weekly feature on Tuesdays where I share news from around our Writing Community. This news can be anything from an interesting blog-post to publishing news and everything in between. You’re welcome to send me something you’d like to share. Just contact me at mishagericke(AT)gmail(DOT)com with “News Day” in the subject line.

From This Blog

Endless Blog Tour


Just wanted to say a huge thank you to everyone who’ve signed up to help with the blog tour. You guys are all awesome. 
Last Week’s Thursday Feature

Obviously, since I didn’t do a news post, I didn’t get a chance to let everyone know about last Thursday’s Interview. M Pepper Langlinais stopped by for a fun interview about everything from edits, critiques and her new book. I’d love if you go check it out
Coming up this week: 

Annalisa Crawford, who recently did very well at the Costa Awards, is stopping by on this Thursday to talk about entering writing competitions. Definitely well worth a read, so don’t forget.

Looking for people to feature

For those of you who missed the announcement, I’m running a regular feature on Thursdays for people within the writing community. You don’t have to be published, and I’m willing to post guest posts, character interviews and author interviews.

If you’d like to take part (you’ll be my hero if you volunteer for next Thursday), please mail me at mishagericke(AT)gmail(DOT)com. Use “Thursday Feature” in your subject line. 

Book Releases

Mark of Noba

Displaying NOBA.jpg
Sterling Wayfairer has one goal for his senior year: make his mark. He’s been slipping into the background his whole high school career—distracted by his mother’s mental health, unsettled by the vivid dreams that haunt him at night, and overshadowed by the athletic accomplishments of his popular best friends. But this year is going to be different. He’s going to break a few rules, have some fun, and maybe even work up the nerve to ask his crush out on a date. 
But things don’t go exactly as planned. Students are disappearing, Sterling starts losing time, and it all seems to center around Tetra, a girl no one else seems to notice but him. When he finally tracks her down for answers, they aren’t what he expects: He and Tetra hail from a world called Noba, and they’re being hunted by a Naga, a malevolent shapeshifter that’s marked them for destruction. 
Tetra and Sterling have distinct abilities that can help them fight back, but their power depends heavily on the strength of their bond, a connection that transcends friendship, transcends romance. Years apart have left their bond weak. Jumpstarting it will require Sterling to open his heart and his mind and put his full trust in the mysterious Tetra. 
If he doesn’t, neither of them will survive.
Now on Promotion. Buy on Amazon for $0.99

Blog Post Worth Reading

This morning, I read this post by Hugh Howie about making a success of our writing careers, and I thought it makes an excellent point. (Although that might be because I’m following a similar approach.) 
That’s it from me for today. Think you have a piece of news I should share? Don’t forget to mail me!

The Muse Party Blogfest

Hey everyone. Today me and one of my characters/muses will be heading to a muse party for a blogfest.

The rules are simple: 
I have to bring a muse/character to an (Anti-) Valentine’s Day party. It can be the same one as before (last year), but it doesn’t have to be. 
And then we have to answer the following questions: 

1. Who did you bring to the party? Is he/she your Valentine or anti-Valentine?
2. Which one of you is the more romantic person?
3. What gift are you giving to your (anti) Valentine?
4. Are you guys wearing red or pink (or black…)?
5. Did you bring any Valentine’s Day treats?
6. Name a song for our Love Playlist or Anti-Love Playlist (or both)!
7. Got a great anti/Valentine party game?
8. Feeling the love or just feeling nauseous? How will you have fun at the party?
9. Has your muse been a good Valentine?

To see who else is taking part and to sign up, please click here.

So those are the rules, but I’m going to make the thing my own a bit.

Misha: *Pacing as she waits. A little nervous because she arranged with Nick at the last possible moment.*
Nick: *Stops his car next to her and gets out, running his hand through his slightly disheveled blond hair.* Sorry I’m late. Had to get these… *Ducks in and pulls out a bouquet of roses.*
Misha: *Grins and takes them.* Thanks so much for stepping up.
Nick: No problem. You owe me a packet of-
Misha: *Takes a box of Cuban Cigars out of her purse.*
Nick: I love you.
Misha: *laughs as she hands it over.* Hey! You put on red. Didn’t think you would.
Nick: *Glances at his shirt* Yeah… not a fan of the color, but hey, I’m supposed to be above politics. *Looks her over, his blue eyes dancing with mirth.* Darrion will kick himself if he finds out you wore a pink dress.
Misha: Yep. And it’s unlikely that anyone will see me in it again. Being Valentines and all. Usually I just avoid these things.
Nick: So what’s his problem anyway?
Misha: Oh, you know. The usual “You should be prioritizing my story”… thing.
Nick: Ah. Shall we? *Guides her around the car and opens the door for her.*
Misha: *Little smile at the old-world chivalry. Settles in while he gets behind the wheel.* Who do you think is more romantic between the two of us?
Nick: *Driving them to the party* You.
Misha: No… I think it’s you.
Nick: Misha. You’re the one who writes romances.
Misha: And you’re the one who’ve been in love with one woman for about 500 years.
Nick: *scowls* Not the same.
Misha: Oh?
Nick: Nothing romantic about that. Trust me.
Misha: Okay… *Sensing that this probably isn’t the best topic to continue on.* We’re supposed to pick a Valentines Day game.
Nick: Spin the bottle.
Misha: *Laughs!* No. Too awkward.
Nick: *Sing-song voice* I brought vodka…
Misha: Yum. But… no. *Can just imagine the party sinking into chaos thanks to vodka and spin the bottle.*
Nick: We’ll leave it as an option.
Misha: *Laughs and just shakes her head.* Okay… You dance, right?
Nick: *Snorts* Better than most mortals. Got plenty of practice.
Misha: You got a song for us to dance on?
Nick: Nah you decide. Pick a song you write those romance scenes to.
Misha: Okay… Flightless Bird, American Mouth. It makes me think of you.
Nick: *Long-suffering sigh* What are you bringing to the party?
Misha: You brought the ingredients I asked for?
Nick: Yep. In the back.
Misha: We’re going a bit early so I can make us chocolate fondants. Nothing more Valentine’s Day than that.
Nick: *grins* Sexy.
Misha: *gives his head a playful shove.* Stop.
Nick: But it’s true! Trust me, when you spend most of your life hungry, watching someone cook is amazing.
Misha: *chortles* You better behave.
Nick: *rolls his eyes* Of course. I’ll be the best behaved Valentine you’ve ever had.

Oh dear. Somehow, I’m not feeling all that reassured. Think he’ll be a good Valentine or will all the romance bring out the little devil in him?