Sunday 27 December 2015

Looking back on 2015!

This time last year, I set myself some goals for 2015 and before I do the same for the coming year, I thought I would go over what I planned to achieve. Here's the goals from last year:

->Time sensitive ones<-
1. Release Blackout, Lynne & Hope & Waiting On You in paperback in Jan/Feb of 2015. - Done, but later than planned. They were released in November 2015.
2. Release Dying Thoughts - Fourth Week as both an ebook and a paperback in the summer of 2015 - Half done, the book was released in August as an ebook, but a problem with the cover meant that the paperback has been put on hold until the new year.
3. Have new covers completed for Dying Thoughts - First Touch, Dying Thoughts - Second Sight & The Friendship Triangle by the summer of 2015. - A third done, the new cover for Dying Thoughts - Second Sight was  released by the summer of 2015.
4. Release the Dying Thoughts series in paperback by the summer of 2015. - Half done - two of the books are now in paperback, but again it was November 2015.
5. Release The Friendship Triangle in paperback by the autumn of 2015. - Not done, the book is ready for release in paperback once it has an updated cover.
6. Do an online release party for Dying Thoughts - Fourth Week - Done, the cover reveal was done at the end of July and the book released in August and both have excellent release parties.
7. Do a book blog tour for Waiting On You sometime after the paperback release, but before the autumn of 2015. - Not done. It's something I plan to do in 2016, and has been on my to-do list for a while.
8. Start editing Destination: Unknown by October 2015. - Not started yet, but a change of editors means that I will be able to start the editing process in the new year.
9. Finish both Walk A Mile & Dying Thoughts - Seventh Death by Christmas 2015. - Not done, but I am closer to the end of both.
10. End the year with covers finished or at least started for Dying Thoughts - Fifth Secret & It's Not Always Rainbows. - Nowhere near done.

->General Ones<-
1. Have one hundred reviews on Goodreads for all books combined. - Half done, I have 48 reviews (as of today) on Goodreads for all of my books combined and over 80 ratings. So closer to my goal.
2. Contact and get at least ten book bloggers to review a book - Done, and I recieved my first review by a book blogger. It can be found here. I also contacted a lot of them, but am still waiting on reviews.
3. Set up and do at least two events for the "Livin' the Indie Life" tag on Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr and Facebook. - Not done. I started to do that, but with my health taking a turn for the worst, I was unable to follow through.
4. Make sure every book released has at least TEN reviews on Goodreads and Amazon. - Half done, the majority of my books have more than 3 reviews, with some going over it.
5. Take part in at least five events over the course of the year. - Half done, I did one event in June and along with my cover reveal and release, that brings me to three out of the five.
6. Design and get more SWAG for The Friendship Triangle & updated SWAG for Waiting On You - Done, I was able to get more SWAG designed and some printed, and have plans for them to help promote.
7. Do at least three more sessions of "Questions for Joey" on the blog. - Not done. I have no reason for this other than being sick.
8. Start to plan books fifteen and sixteen. - Not done, but I have ideas.
9. Write often and keep up with the writing logs. - Done! I have another years worth of writing logs and it's great to look back.
10. Try to make new contacts in the YA indie field and keep up with the ones I already have. - Done, it's a great thing to have contacts and to make new ones.

Looking back on the year I can see that I faced challenges with my health, but still managed to keep up with some of them. While plans have gone array because of needing surgery and the recovery periods I did manage to do a lot this year that I hadn't thought about in 2014.

1. I took part in NaNoWriMo, and managed to write a page a day totally over 23K in words.
2. I brought it forward into December and started JoWriMoGo, planning at least a page a day through the whole month.
3. I managed to get my books released in paperback, which I am extremely proud of. It was a huge overtaking and while it hasn't ended with all eight books available in that format, I have managed five and the final three should be out in the early starts on 2016.
4. I changed editor and proofreader teams, and managed to find myself an excellent editor who works well with me, as well as an awesome proofreader who is also good at what she does.
5. I have managed to design new SWAG and in doing so, have opened up new promotional avenues which I hope to take advantage of in the new year.
6. I have, despite three surgeries, kept up with writing. 
7. I have ideas for the final book in the Dying Thoughts series.

Keep an eye out for the upcoming goals for 2016. I hope that some of these will bring me closer to having all eight books available in paperback, as well as my ninth book being published in the summer months. I hope that the new year brings us all what we wish for!

Saturday 19 December 2015

Juggling Responsibilities & Staying On Track - The Creative Process

Juggling Responsibilities & Staying On Track

In my last blog post, found here, I talked about the dead zone and keeping motivated whilst not losing your spark during writing. Today I'm going to talk about something similar, which can be seen as a companion piece to that. 

One thing I learnt early on in my writing career, was that if I was going to get my work done and also have a life, I needed to stay on target. I also needed to be sure to maintain a good balance between working, and not working. I've spoken about that in numerous pieces, which can be found here, here, & here. My routine is pretty much dictated by how well I'm doing on any given day, along with a healthy balance of fun activities and not so fun responsibilities. For example, these could be the days which I put aside to do geocaching, or the days in the past that were all for my uni work, as well as the school run, which I do pretty much every week twice a day. These are all things that are important enough for me that I make time for them, although the school run is kinda mandatory! When you add in the disruption that come from living with several chronic conditions, you realise that sometimes it can be hard to stick to any proper schedule. While I'd love to say that I go geocaching twice a week, every week, sometimes it doesn't happen at all. The same goes for my writing, which while being my job, is also something I consider to be fun.

So, how do I juggle my time, along with my other responsibilities, to make sure that I stay on track with my writing? As you are all aware, I like to try and release one book a year, while also writing two at once. I know it's been a source of a lot of questions in the past as to why I don't just release all the written books as they are finished. I have my own reasons for that, but it mostly boils down to the fact that I can't guarantee when I will finish a work and therefore prefer to have books on standby, ready to go without the added pressure of a rigid deadline. It's one of the reasons I find so much of my writing time to be enjoyable, because I don't have the pressure of having to write a certain amount by an exact date, otherwise I'll have angry readers. It's not always something that works for everyone, but it does for me. I digress, anyway, I like to stay on target by planning a lot, and organising my work week around any other duties that may come up.

As a spoonie, I usually have at least one hospital appointment on the horizon, and on top of that I also have parenting duties that need to be met. I find the best way for me to organise my time is to do what started out as a weekly to-do list, became a fortnightly to-do list, and is now (for the time being at least), a monthly one. I set myself four chapters - two of each book - alone with a list of bonus items should I find myself having some spare time, and usually in that list there are four more chapters. Right now, I seem to be just about managing the basic four chapters, but my hope is that as time progresses and I recover from the recent bouts of ill health and surgery, I will be hitting the bonus list more and more. We'll see how things go.

Every time I manage something - because EVERYTHING goes on that list - I cross it off. It's a nice way for me to apply a little gentle pressure to myself, since I'm indie and don't have a deadline for the two novels I'm working on now, without it turning into too much pressure and causing me to work myself into a case of writer's block or worse, a health flare. I've been doing it this way for a good couple of years and in the years past when I was still a student, there wasn't much time for writing. However, having graduated last year with my BA Honours, I feel like I can devote more time to writing and other admin duties. That also leaves more time for fun things, which is always a good way to prevent becoming too burnt out by life.

Now, with health as fragile as mine, there are some weeks when no writing gets done. How do I keep myself on track when it feels like I'm blocked beyond belief or worse, in the dead zone that I spoke about last time? It's not as simple as just opening a word document and trying to force yourself to type. Sometimes it can be remedied by writing a blog post, or catching up with a friend on Skype or through email. Or even doing, as I said last time, something different with my characters to see if I can persuade them to actually do what I'm asking of them. The idea for me at least, is to keep the end goal in sight while not focusing on it too much. The best laid plans and all, and being somewhat flexible in the outcome means that I have something to work with when going down one path doesn't seem to provide much in the way of words.

So, my way of juggling responsibilities and staying on track with my writing is pretty simple. I write to-do lists, I allow myself some time to relax - even a whole week if needed - and I'm flexible with my planning. That's something I've learnt as a spoonie for the past fourteen years of my life, but it can be true for anyone. If you focus too much on one goal as the only acceptable outcome, you can burn yourself out, you can miss other paths that take you somewhere just as good, if not better, and you can find yourself getting very frustrated with your work. While I don't enjoy every aspect of being an indie author, I do like the writing part and I think for as long as that is true, it's going to be what I do with my life and my time. I hope the same can be said for you and your own work.

Follow Joey on Facebook or here on her blog to be kept up to date with the latest news regarding Joey and her books.

Saturday 12 December 2015

Keeping Motivated & Avoiding Losing Your Spark - The Creative Process

Keeping Motivated & Avoiding Losing Your Spark

When you make up stories for a living, it's hard sometimes to find the inspiration to keep going. There's always something else that needs doing and sometimes it's hard to set yourself some time just for writing. I have a lovely sign on my office door which tells people to keep away when I'm writing, but unfortunately life doesn't always obey. One of the many things I've talked about before is making sure you balance your real life responsibilities alongside those in your writing world. Today, I'm just gonna talk about how to stay motivated when writer's block hits and how to avoid losing your spark when you hit the dead zone.

I know I've written a piece about the mysterious "zone" that many writers and other artists have talked about. It can be found here. The good thing about the zone itself is while it's hard to enter at times, it's always there in the distance as something to aim for. The problem is, how do you stay motivated when all you keep hitting is not the zone itself, but the bit that comes before it - the dead zone.

What is the dead zone, you ask? It's the place where writer's block comes from and ideas go to die. It's that place where so many writers find themselves stuck, with no idea how to get out of it and into the actual zone itself. I've hit it a fair few times myself, both in my youth and in my writing career. It's not fun, because unlike plain old regular writer's block, it comes with a little voice that drains you of all enthusiasm for your work. It's not unlike having a gremlin (pieces on mine can be found here & here.) The problem is finding a way to stay motivated about your project to the point where it will lift you out of the dead zone and help you move forward in your work.

There are numerous ways to do this. Like many excellent writers have said, you should try to write something every day (piece can be found here). You should also be sure to keep your project new and exciting. While I do plan things to a point, I like allowing my characters a little freedom when it comes to how they would react in certain situations. People always say that original characters don't always do as they're told and a good way to try and get past that dead zone is to just allow them to wander from the plot a little. It doesn't have to make it into the final draft; hell, sometimes I do an interview with each one to see if I can find something in their responses that will show me some avenue I've not yet explored. Whatever works, right? ;-)

One thing that is always good for me is to talk to my best friend, and my editor, who both know the stories I write and the characters almost as well as I do. They can help me see a point I'd overlooked and they can help me get back on track, motivated and zooming into the zone without a second thought. Another way is to take a step back, read a book of your chosen genre, spend some time relaxing for as long as time constraints allow and try not to put too much pressure on yourself to write a chapter or two right then. Sometimes we all get a little burnt-out, and the last thing you want to do is make the pressure so high that you just don't want to continue with the work.

Overall, whatever path you choose to climb out of the dead zone, try to stay focused on the end game. You will get over this hump and you will get to a point where you are entering the zone so much that you forget that there was any other way of writing. Be kind to yourself, and allow yourself some breathing room. Writing a novel takes time and you can't rush it, no matter how much you wish you could, something I have learnt a lot recently. Novels come along at their own pace, and after all the work that goes into them, you can understand why. So keep writing, don't give up and you'll get there in the end!

Follow Joey on Facebook or here on her blog to be kept up to date with the latests news regarding Joey and her books.

Wednesday 2 December 2015

#NaNoWriMo Final Count & More

Hey Guys!

Yes, it's true! I managed a total of fifty-four pages and over 23k words during the month of November! Considering I planned to write at least a page a day, I think it's really great I almost doubled it. In total, I managed to write twelve chapters - six of each book - and I feel well and truly out of the slump and on my way to getting these books finished!

It was in the middle of #NaNoWriMo that I realised I could aim for the same in the coming months. It was really hard to find something to start each page with, but once I got into it, I found the words flowed a lot easier. So, I plan to do #JoWriMoGo - Joey's Writing Monthly Goal - through to the new year and see if I can beat my current score with sixty pages. Keep checking on Facebook and other places to stay up to date with how I'm doing!

I hope that 2016 will bring with it the remaining three books in paperback, and I plan to do a give away or two that will give you all the chance to grab a signed paperback copy of one of my books. Make sure you follow me on Facebook or here on the blog so you don't miss out!