2023 Second Quarter Check In

You can see the initial goals I set for 2023 by checking out my January post: https://allyaldridge.com/2023-goals/

I love doing these posts. I always feel like I’ve not done much, then I look back at the last three months and realise I have a lot to celebrate.

Publishing

Sky Heart: Book 2 in the Soul Heart Series

My editor had a health emergency that delayed her being able to return the Copy Edit. She is a Trooper, and once she was better and rested she still did it. She returned it on 4 June 2023.

I had an important event to prepare for in June, so didn’t really deep dive into my final edits until the end of the month, finishing it by 1 July 2023.

So, this technically falls into the Third Quatre of the year but I’m too excited to keep it to myself. Once I finished editing, I sent my manuscript to my Formatter to make it pretty. I then realised she needs front & back matter too, so I wrote this and sent it over by 3 July.

Due to the editing delays, I lost my Formatting slot but will get slotted in soon. Once back I’ll be able to look for ARC readers.

Seeing my publishing plan, I noticed I missed a step. Now trying to see if I Cassidy has time to proofread for me, because she’s got a good eye. When she ARC read Ocean Heart, she spotted some minor typos that got missed despite all the edits, and I was able to change those before it went on sale to the public. Fingers crossed she can help me again.

Summer Heart: Prequel of Soul Heart series

I added a little more. It’s not going to be 85k. I’ve no idea why I set that as the word count target! It’s currently at 36.5k words, and some of that is notes. It is nearing the end of the story, so it’s not going to get much longer.

  • A YA Low Fantasy prequel from The Soul Heart series. Set in the early 00s, a summer romance turns into a teen pregnancy. With a fortune telling meddling witch, Denny moves to Felixstowe believing she’s doing the right thing for her baby.

Dark Heart: Another Soul Heart spin off/sequel

I’ve had this story bubbling in my head for a few years. I tried to write it before but got too scared. This time it felt less scary, and the words poured out of me. This story is at 21k words and almost finished. It will be another novella.

  • A YA LGBTQ Fantasy spin off from The Soul Heart series. It was supposed to be a horror inspired by slender man myths and Orochimaru from Naruto, but it’s turned into a coming out story, and not as dark as I expected. It’s been fun to write.

Public Appearances: I attended both my author events.

May: Herts Book Festival

This was so much fun. I sold books. I took part on a Fantasy panel with other fantasy authors, and I met and made author friends.

June: Felixstowe Book Festival.

I have wanted to be part of this event for a long time! I was part of the Children’s events. My event was called Let’s Talk Fantasy, and it was me and a local avid reader. It created a great dynamic. Afterwards, I sold and signed some books, and enjoyed more of the festivals events.

I forgot to take pictures and videos, until after the event. I only got a photo of my signing table, and fortunately Phoebe’s mum took some pictures she was willing to let me use on Social Media.

Aug: Booked to attend Legends Comic Con on 6 Aug 2023

I have updated my website’s Events page with details. I will be three with three other local authors I have gotten to know via Instagram, including Rachel Churcher who had the stall next to me at Herts Book Festival.

Reading

12 out of 18 books: I set my Goodreads goal at 16 books and have read 12 books so far.

Reviews: All the books have a Goodreads review. I have been so busy, I’ve not posted reviews as frequently to my blog. I posted three more book reviews on my YouTube channel channel.

Social Media [UPDATE]

Felixstowe Magazine: I have fallen behind with submitting articles for Felixstowe Magazine. I’ve been so busy with my kids, my new job, and festivals, that the weeks have flown by. This is a reminder, I need to get back on that as it’s a really good opportunity.

Website: I’ve been good about updating my websites Event page with what I’m up to. I’ve not updated my book titles. I need to update Sky Heart’s progress, rename New Moon as Summer Heart, and add Dark Heart.

I’m also not happy with my current host provider, Hostinger. I paid for 2 years, so I’m stuck with them for another year but in the autumn I need to check out other providers and prepare for a migration.

Ko-Fi: I haven’t posted as frequently. Everything dropped up during chicken pox season, and busy with book festivals. I’ve started posting quick updates on my progress, and my YouTube videos. Nobody is there so it feels like I’m talking to a brick wall.

[kofi]

YouTube: i usually record when I’m off work on a Friday, but due to bank holidays and sick kids, I’ve worked a lot of Fridays and this has impacted my ability to record anything. I have made a few shorts in Canva. I’m proud of my long form Vlog video of going to Herts Book Festival.

Consistently Post: To keep the algorithm happy, I set the following schedule and included how I got on sticking to it:

  • Blog: Mon – This has definitely dropped in consistency. I usually have a few posts scheduled but right now I have loads of drafts written, waiting for the images.
  • IG: Wed (more if I feel like it) – It’s been sporadic but has met the at least once a week quota. Also, posting to Lemon8.
  • Ko-Fi: Thu – This has become so sporadic, I forgot the goal was to post on a Thursday.
  • Twitter: Sun – I rarely post intentionally to Twitter. It updates on my reading progress, and I’ve been sharing my Lemon8 posts.
  • YT: Tue (fortnightly) – No. This has trailed off since May. I will try to get back on track.
  • Newsletter: Every other month – That’s a relief. I thought I needed to send it monthly and had dropped off, but I have done this.

Followers: Eek, I was okay with no growth, but to lose followers was a shock. It’s so slight, I hadn’t even noticed. I wasn’t surprised that my TikTok count dropped as I deleted the app for a bit – I’m just not a fan and don’t trust them to respect my privacy.

I’m chuffed I have already beat my YouTube annual goal. This is encouraging as I am still trying to figure things out.

It’s good to see I am connecting with readers. I was surprised by this as I don’t always remember to post to BookBub & Litsy.

The Author Diaries: The authors that agreed to do The Author Diaries collab with me are still up for it but we still haven’t set down a time. I’m starting to worry we might never do it.

Reviews: I’ve heard from people that bought Ocean Heart tell me they are loving it, but no new reviews.

Personal

Skincare routine: Got a new face wash which I love, by Auriella Probiotics. I got a new foundation, eyebrow pencil, and lip and cheek tint.

Visit Jimmy’s Farm: I was worried with the kids keep getting ill, my hubby working weekends, and my festivals, that we wouldn’t get to go. We did.

I was having an awful weekend where the kids were driving me barmy and decided I wanted to change it. So, I took them to Jimmy’s Farm to burn their energy and we all had a great time.

Date Nights: No more date nights, but we took the day off for Sports Day and got to have lunch, just my hubby and I, on the seafront.

We almost booked a spa day at Riverhills for our wedding anniversary. We got the time off work but we were so distracted by life we never booked it. Just as well, because the night before we would have gone, the spa burned down.

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This weekend is Herts Book Festival!

A lot goes into attending an event, and as this is my first appearance at a book festival, it was a little more work.

The HERTS BOOK FESTIVAL will be at Herts Castle. You can find me at my author stall from 10am to 3pm, although I will be popping off to be on the Fantasy Panel to chat about the baddies between 2pm and 2:50pm.

I have written a post on Ko-Fi covering some of the things I’ve done to prepare for the event. It’s worth a read if you are an author going to an event, or just interested in knowing more. https://ko-fi.com/post/This-weekend-is-Herts-Book-Fest-N4N5L40D9

Something I didn’t mention in the post was that I wanted to do book reviews on YouTube of some of the authors I know will be attending. This proved more challenging than I expected because I didn’t get much time in April to record anything!

Here are the book reviews for my author friends that I’m excited to be meeting up with this weekend at Herts Book Festival.

Roxy Eloise

If it wasn’t for Roxy, I probably wouldn’t be doing this event. I met her via Instagram when she was launching her debut novel Discovering Puracordis, the first book the The Guidal series.

She’s become a good friend ever since, and inspired me to get in-front of the camera and try YouTube again.

Here’s my review of her debut novel, and I recently finished book two Unearthing Secrets, so I need to find time to record a book tube of that.

April Grace

I originally met April on Wattpad, and posted on Instagram that I was going to YALC. She was going to so we met up. She encouraged me to query agents, and supported me when I decided to self publish.

April also is a BookTuber and encouraged me to try again. She’s been in my corner for a while now. I’m looking forward to her upcoming releases and sharing a stand with her at Herts Book Festival.

J D Groom

I love Jodie’s writing. I met her via Wattpad and my early days on Instagram. She got me involved in World Indie Warriors. Networking with indies opened my eyes to the possibilities of self publishing.

Jodie had shared her self publishing journey on Instagram and her website. I learnt a lot from her, and highly value her advice. As a result, we have used the same editor, Formatter, and cover designer. Without Jodie, I don’t know if I would have had the confidence to say yes to myself, and self publish.

Jodie currently has a free prequel available on her website for news letter subscribers. I wanted to do a BookTube review of this but didn’t have time. However, Jodie’s debut novel Sorceress of Truth was one of my first YouTube video reviews, and she participated in my YouTube livestream launch party when my debut novel launched during lockdown.

Cassidy Reyne

I met Cassidy through World Indie Warriors. She has the biggest heart, and makes everyone feel included and valued. She has shared a lot with me about her self publishing that has helped shape my journey.

I had the pleasure of meeting Jodie and Cassidy at the Milton Keynes book festival where we had a tour of the Ingram Sparks book printing factory. Cassidy was actively involved in helping me promote my debut novel, doing a proof read, writing a review, and taking part in live streams.

I ARC read her book AGENT:Undone but this is just one of the many books she has released.

Come join us

Come join us at Herts Book Festival. I’m looking forward to making more author friends and meeting lots of readers.

I will be signing copies of Ocean Heart, and I will have a leaflet with details on how to join my Sky Heart ARC.

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[kofi]

2023 First Quarter Check In

You can see the initial goals I set for 2023 by checking out my January post.

Today’s post is to look at what I have achieved during the first three months of the year (January to March) 2023.

Publishing

Sky Heart: Book 2 in the Soul Heart Series

It took me until end of March to finish the Developmental Edit which is longer than I had hoped but still good progress.

I have also finalised the cover for Sky Heart and waiting for Sky Heart to be closer to publishing to do a cover reveal.

Summer Heart: Prequel of Soul Heart series

I haven’t worked much on this during Quarter One. I have been distracted by a shiny new idea. I’m not too worried as Sky Heart was always the priority but I’d like to finish this at some point this year.

Public Appearances: I have booked two events.

May: Herts Book Festival. I will be there selling signed copies of Sky Heart.

June: Felixstowe Book Festival. I will be taking part on a panel for the Children’s events.

Other Stories: I gave some examples of some plot bunnies bouncing around in my head. However, none of these were the shiny new story I started writing during quarter one.

  • A YA LGBTQ Fantasy spin off from The Soul Heart series. It was supposed to be a horror inspired by slender man myths and Orochimaru from Naruto, but it’s not coming out as dark as I expected. It’s been fun to write.

Reading

6 out of 18 books: I set my Goodreads goal at 16 books and have read 6 books so far. I bought some ear pods and tried audio books again. I’m having more success, but, I still prefer the written word to the verbal word.

Reviews: All the books have a Goodreads review. I have posted reviews on my YouTube channel for four books so far and plan to do more.

Social Media [UPDATE]

Felixstowe Magazine: I have been fortunate enough to write for Felixstowe Magazine throughout 2022 and will continue in 2023. Check out my News page to discover the articles.

Website: I need to make sure my pages stay up-to-date. For example, whilst writing this I’ve found that “New Moon” is listed on my books page but hasn’t updated to the new title “Summer Heart”. This isn’t a biggie as I’m not marketing it yet, but I mustn’t lose sight of it.

I’m also not happy with my current host provider, Hostinger. I paid for 2 years, so I’m stuck with them for another year but in the autumn I need to check out other providers and prepare for a migration.

Ko-Fi: I have been posting more often to Ko-Fi and trying to post some content that can’t only be seen there by more followers. I am finding it hard to think of content to post each day.

[kofi]

YouTube: Despite the challenges affecting my life during the first quarter, I have managed to record, edit, and lost fortnightly to YouTube. This schedule is challenging for me but still achievable so I will keep this schedule.

Consistently Post: To keep the algorithm happy, I set the following schedule and included how I got on sticking to it:

  • Blog: Mon – This has been most Mon but I tend to forget something for the end of the month.
  • IG: Wed (more if I feel like it) – It’s been sporadic but has met the at least once a week quota.
  • Ko-Fi: Thu – I have posted each week, usually on a Thursday.
  • Twitter: Sun – I had a clear out of Followers on Twitters which improved my feed, but I don’t think I have posted intentionally to Twitter.
  • YT: Tue (fortnightly) – Yes. This has be challenging at time as I’ve had tech challenges like my video not uploading but I have persevered and kept up with it.
  • Newsletter: Every other month – Yes. I sent a newsletter in Jan, but not in Feb, and then again in Mar. I thought I’d messed up on this goal so it’s good I achieved it.

Followers: Eek, I was okay with no growth, but to lose followers was a shock. It’s so slight, I hadn’t even noticed. I wasn’t surprised that my TikTok count dropped as I deleted the app for a bit – I’m just not a fan and don’t trust them to respect my privacy.

I’m chuffed I have already beat my YouTube annual goal. This is encouraging as I am still trying to figure things out.

It’s good to see I am connecting with readers. I was surprised by this as I don’t always remember to post to BookBub & Litsy.

The authors that agreed to do The Author Diaries collab with me are still up for it but we still haven’t set down a time. In the meantime, I have been creating fortnightly content for my YouTube channel.

Reviews: Although I’ve had two people tell me they read and loved Ocean Heart, the review count has not increased.

Personal

Skincare routine: I got in a good routine and then got lazy again. I also treated myself to some Korean makeup. I used to love Korean makeup before I went organic. I got a cute foundation, highlighter, and bronzer.

Visit Jimmy’s Farm: I’m so disappointed that we haven’t been. It hasn’t been the best weather, cold and rainy. When it has been nice my husband had either been working or someone has a bad cold. Hopefully we will get to go during Q2.

Date Nights: My hubby’s best mate baby Sat so we could go watch Avatar together. This was right before I lost my job. Once I was unemployed my hubby and I went to lunch a few times when we was on his rest days.

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2023 Goals!

I didn’t really set any goals last year and it left me feeling like I didn’t achieve everything I wanted to. Having no milestones left me unaccountable.

After reflecting on this, and learning from it, I must set goals for 2023! I went back to my Jan 2021 post to use as a goal setting template.

Publishing

Sky Heart: Book 2 in the Soul Heart Series

I wanted to publish this by the end of 2021. The goal rolled into 2022, and it’s still outstanding! This is my top priority for 2023. I am halfway through the developmental feedback. Completing this step by the end of Jan is doable.

For accountability, I will post my feedback on Ko-Fi & share to Twitter.

Summer Heart: Prequel of Soul Heart series

Originally this was titled New Moon (or Denny’s Story) and it was going to be a short novella that I would offer out as a readers magnet, but… I’m not good at short stories. This is fast becoming a full length novel.

Public Appearances: I would really love to do another face to face event. They are scary but I think they are important to be seen as an author. I’m not sure what though.

Other Stories: I would like to start a new novel. I have ideas for some stand alone novels. As I struggle for time to work on my main projects, these get pushed aside. When I want a change, I will work on:

  • A YA Paranormal Fantasy Horror set in a made up town- Paranormal YouTubers crossed with Blaire Witch Project
  • A YA Sci-Fi Romance set in Rendlesham Forest, Suffolk – The UKs equivalent of the USAs Roswell.
  • A Historical YA Fantasy set in Woolpit, Suffolk inspired by the local Green Children Legend.
  • A Vampire Fantasy Romance set at Birmingham university (location may change to London, Liverpool, or Ipswich) – Exploring addiction.
  • A Sci-fi Action story set at Landguard Fort, Felixstowe, Suffolk/Sealand – Drunk teens find a naked girl on the beach that has escaped a research facility, and now they are on the run. Inspired by Stranger Things and Hunted on Ch4.
  • And many more. I have tons of plot bunnies but not enough time to write. One day… one day…

Reading

12 – 24 Books: When I am working on my writing, I tend not to read. It depends on how productive I am towards my publishing goals. The last two years, I’ve doubled it but my progress in other areas were reduced.

Reviews: I wish to continue posting reviews on my blog, and Goodreads. If it’s on Litsy or BookBub, I will post it there too. In addition, I’d like to review books on my YouTube channel.

Social Media

Felixstowe Magazine: I have been fortunate enough to write for Felixstowe Magazine throughout 2022 and will continue in 2023. Check out my News page to discover the articles.

Website: I need to make sure my pages stay up-to-date. For example, whilst writing this I’ve found that “New Moon” is listed on my books page but hasn’t updated to the new title “Summer Heart”. This isn’t a biggie as I’m not marketing it yet, but I mustn’t lose sight of it.

I’m also not happy with my current host provider, Hostinger. I paid for 2 years, so I’m stuck with them for another year but in the autumn I need to check out other providers and prepare for a migration.

Ko-Fi: I joined last year, and really enjoy this site. It is now my shops home as it’s so easy to use. I need to update this more often and encourage people to follow me there.

[kofi]

YouTube: I really want to grow my YouTube channel. It’s hard because I need quiet to make videos. I also don’t want you to see my messy home, so I must tidy first (recently we had a leak in the kitchen that spread to the dining room – this is an ongoing nightmare). Then once recorded I need to edit, and my laptop is on the way out. There are lots of obstacles but this is a goal I’m not giving up on!

Consistently Post: I know this is important to keep the algorithm happy, but during 2022 I just lost my enthusiasm to post. I think it was burn out. However, this is what I will aim for:

  • Blog: Mon
  • IG: Wed (more if I feel like it)
  • Ko-Fi: Thu
  • Twitter: Sun
  • YT: Tue (fortnightly)
  • Newsletter: Every other month

Followers: I’m not too worried about building up my following as I’d rather have people I’m engaging with than big numbers. I’ve set my goal to increase by 10%, especially as I haven’t really tracked it for two years.

I barely sent out any news letters during 2022. To send one every other month would be an increase. It would be nice to get more subscribers but I won’t be pushing this.

I don’t like Facebook, so I’m going to drop this off completely.

I recently returned to Twitter. I stopped using Twitter because there was so much hate and preaching American Democrats. It pushed me to check out Parler. Parler was very American Republican and nothing else. Since Elon has taken over Twitter, it feels less political, and there is more rounded discussion. I’m enjoying Twitter again.

TikTok is an app I feel I should use more as people make book sales there, but it terrifies me. I’m not going to force myself to do it, if I feel inspired to post there I will but I’m not too bothered about my growth.

I had an idea to do a collab feature on YouTube called The Author Diaries. We found it challenging to find a time we were all free but I am still interested in doing this. In the meantime, I will create content for my YouTube channel on writing a book reviews.

BookBub, Goodreads, and Litsy are social apps for readers. I’m not very active on these except to post reviews. I can’t see that changing.

Reviews: Reviews are really important for a books visibility, so I will be tracking how many I have and – eek – remind my readers to leave reviews.

Personal

Skincare routine: I haven’t really bothered with my skincare or makeup products during 2022 as I tried to save money. It could be aging or my lack of care but my skin is in need of some attention. For 2023, I will invest in some nice products and look after my skin better.

Visit Jimmy’s Farm: My mum treated me to an annual pass so we can go whenever we like. We will be making the most of that. The pass also includes discounts at other places so we could check them out too.

Date Nights: My hubby and I are both busy working, looking after the kids, keeping up appearances with friends & family that we barely have quality time together. When we are together we are often exhausted. My hubby and I have agreed that we will try harder this year to make time for each other.

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Book Review: Shadows of the Circus by J D Groom

This post contains affiliate links. Please check out my affiliate disclosure page for more information.

About the book

This book is a prequel to the Sorceress of Truth series by J.D. Groom.

Blackpool, 1894, and a deadly creature lurks in the shadows…

Shadows of the Circus by J.D. Groom

My thoughts

This is my first Historical Fantasy. The story is set in Blackpool, 1894, and tells the story of vampire Kylan.

Kylan is working at Blackpool Tower in construction and getting things ready for the grand opening of the famous landmark. He is struggling with managing his vampire urges.

Then he meets Mary, a well established vampire who takes him under her wing and gives him a crash course in control. When Kylan finds Mary in a dangerous situation, the fangs come out and everything is ruined.

Although this novel is a prequel to Sorceress of Truth (YA Contemporary Fantasy), this has a different feel with a male voice, more adult themes, spicy scenes and violence. There is a glossary of Victorian slang at the end, I particularly liked the words for idiot.

Read it for vampires, historical settings, and a little spice and gore.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

You can get this book from:

This book is currently only availabile for free direct from the authors website by joining her newsletter: https://jdgroom.com

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[kofi]