New Year, New Plans

January 21, 2024  •  No Comments

Like everyone, I get distracted by the holiday whirl leading up to the main event, but every year I spend a delicious few days post-feast surviving off leftovers and planning the writing year ahead. Some of the items that make it to the to-do list are practical (do I have all the right vendors listed on my website?) and some are more strategic. Very few are quick wins because, if they were, I’d have done them already.

Still, I was able to plan the coming year with more confidence than I’ve had for a while. Part of this is due to having some books already written—while I’ve not been releasing as much lately due to personal life chaos, I have been working ahead.

That said, it’s not just the book in front of my nose I need to think, but the two following ones as well. What needs to be done in terms of promotion each month? How much prep time is required? What can I outsource, and what do I need to manage on my own? What will it all cost?

To this end, I had approximately 5,678,341 pieces of paper with bright ideas stuffed into an assortment of folders. I spent quite some time sorting and distilling all that into a series of tasks lists. Research, release plans, blog, social media, newsletter, paid advertising, administrative upkeep, upskilling, etc. The awkward aspect of all this is that they are interconnected and can’t be treated in isolation. They are also mostly timebound items with a best-before date when applied to a specific book. However, I came away with a calendarized workplan to test out.

The first and probably the most important realization is that this isn’t just about add-on activities to check off a notepad. These streams of activity (blog, research, social media, and so on) are like the infrastructure of the house where my creative output lives. If I don’t fix the roof or ensure the heat is working, it’s not a good shelter and my creative output can’t thrive. These activities are more than a necessary evil. They are an extension of the works themselves and deserve as much imagination and interest for their own sake. That’s a mind shift!

Some takeaways:

* In order to treat my creative infrastructure well, I need to set aside dedicated time to attend to it. I’m still playing catch-up, but I’m thinking 1 day a week for maintenance-level activities once the catch-up is done.
* The time to start assembling promotional material is the instant I start Chapter 1.
* Content marketing is 1,000 times more interesting to me than advertising. This is the “here’s my research” approach rather than “buy my book”
* I’m building places for our collective imaginations to hang out. This isn’t about individual products but entire story worlds, so the focus has to be broad.

I’ve set some steep goals, but I do have specific ideas on how to achieve them, which is something. Let’s see what works and what doesn’t.

Weekend Coffee was well earned

February 23, 2020  •  No Comments

Weekend CoffeeWeekend coffee was well earned this time. These were catch-up days after doing a hard sprint of editing. Lots of email, answering questions from graphic artists, paying bills, cooking, and scheduling the release of a new series. Plus, lightly plotting the next project, which is a bit like flirting with pen and paper. The characters and I are doing a dance, but it’s not too serious yet.

At this moment, my desk looks almost sane.  I know it won’t last, but I’ll enjoy the clean surface for today.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the level of administrative detail involved in being a writer. I spent an entire afternoon filling out copyright info on four books, which isn’t hard but does take time. I’m caught up filing applications for now, but too many of those jobs on a long list can give me brain freeze. I’ve been picking them off one by one in a bid for sanity, but I have a long way to go before my halo is sparkling.

Actual writing is more fun. Feedback from my alpha readers is arriving in my inbox, and that means more work before the book goes to a developmental editor. That’s tomorrow’s problem–tonight I’m making a birthday dinner. And eating a doughnut with my weekend coffee treat, because one has to grab the small pleasures as well as the big goals. That’s toffee-pecan icing, BTW. Check out Empire Donuts.

Author Activity Roundup Spring 2017

March 30, 2017  •  No Comments

What do authors actually do with their time? Some of it involves staring at the ceiling and some playing fetch with the cat (I do most of the fetching) but there are occasions when words actually get written. I’m trying to get into the habit of giving readers a regular project roundup, so here goes:

  1. Award news—for anyone who missed my squeals of delight, ENCHANTED WARRIOR (Camelot, Book 1) received a RITA nomination for paranormal romance. The RITA contest has thousands of entries and is like the Oscars for romance fiction, so I am VERY pleased, especially since this is the second year in a row for one of my Nocturnes. Maybe this time I’ll win a friend for my golden lady!
  2. ROYAL ENCHANTMENT (Camelot, Book 3) starring Arthur and Guinevere will be available this July.
  3. ENCHANTER REDEEMED (Camelot, Book 4) is under construction. This is Merlin’s adventure.
  4. KISS IN THE DARK (Corsair’s Cove series) is part of a continuity series of indie novellas. I’m in the first round editing phase. The cover is scrumptious. Pub date October.
  5. Self-pubbing project – have covers, waiting for time to perform final edit pass. Targeting autumn.
  6. Sekrit Projects – these are Holloway products. One with agent, one awaiting revisions. These are FUN FUN FUN so I am anxious for these to move up the to-do list.

So . . . yes, I do have a few things on the go. Though it seems like a lot, this is actually fairly normal because in the writing cycle there are always four stages:

  • Ideas/research/proposal,
  • writing,
  • editing, and
  • release and publicity.

If you’re a working writer, chances are you’ll have something at each stage. I’m finding that, as I work toward being a hybrid author and have more than one author name anyway, I have multiple sets of works on the go. Scheduling has always been my friend, and now it’s my BFF!

Drawing breath

February 6, 2017  •  No Comments

It’s been snowing like crazy, which isn’t usual for February in Victoria. I don’t mind the weather shaking it up. The unexpected makes one look up and take notice of the world, even if it’s just the snow globe beauty of this morning, or the specter of shoveling my way around a corner lot.

tree in snow It’s a timely departure from my usual rut. I’m in that pause between writing books, if only for a few days. Last week I turned in the final edits on Royal Enchantment, and I have the next thing, a novella, already loaded and ready to hit the page. I need a breather to check the to-do list, shop groceries, make a few social calls, etcetera. More importantly, I need to erase my mental chalkboard and rearrange the furniture inside my head. One set of characters have left, and I need to vacuum before the next arrive.

But I can’t stay away from the keyboard long – I’m wired to work. February is dedicated to drafting the novella, which I expect to be around 25,000 words or basically 10 or 11 chapters. It’s part of a group project, the 4th of a set of 4 pieces. I don’t do these often, mostly because I’ve learned the hard way to look before I leap. This project is different and better, with hand-picked writers and a LOT of discussion and coordination. Which means, I suppose, that I should get started!