I joined Maci Dierking’s Instagram challenge with a mermaid bookish theme. Her Instagram is thebrightsidegirl and I felt the prompts were fun and would encourage me to post more.
The plan is to read as many mermaid books as you can for the challenge. As a slow reader I knew I wouldn’t achieve much in that perspective, but it was an opportunity to connect with other readers that love mermaids and discover more books.
Creature on the cover
Ocean on the cover
Looking forward to sharing week two’s content and telling you about the new books I discovered from my new mermaid reading friends.
I invite you to join in on my all the twos challenge. Read the second book in a series, or a second book by an author you’ve only read once. I thought this would be a fun way to celebrate Sky Heart (hopefully) releasing this year!
This project is set in the same low fantasy world of The Soul Heart Series. In fact, for readers of Ocean Heart they may recognise the main character, Denny.
This story is a prequel. It’s set in the 90s, back when Denny was a teen herself. It will cover how she became friends with Gwyn, started her Sparkle Cake business, and the highs and lows as a new mum.
I feel more prepared now I have created a title, cover, and blurb. Of course these are all just a work in progress, so could change but it helps me feel more focused.
I’ve started writing an outline. I intended for this to be a novella but I already have a sneaky suspicion this could become a full length novel.
I’ve also made a spreadsheet to help me track my word count. If this works successfully, I will look at making a version available to my followers on Ko-Fi.
I’m going to aim for the big Five-O (50,000 words). If I don’t make it, I will still have made progress, but if I do, it’d make me so happy.
I’ve been struggling with motivation because Sky Heartis on hold until I can afford the professional services I need to move it forward. I’ve also been bummed out with all the germs (sick kids) ruining September, and fracturing my ankle ruining October.
I really want to get back into the habit of writing again. My ultimate goal for November is this: To write!
Are you doing NaNoWriMo? What’s your project, goal, and how do you prepare?
I joined the Mighty Network back in 2019 and Elzevera helped me with self editing, Ocean Heart.
It inspired me to want to create my own Mighty Network and I set this as a goal at the start of 2020.
I have been exploring creating a Mighty Network. It is a social site for creatives. I’m currently a member of a Mighty Network by Willow Editing. I have been Beta Testing a self-editing course by Elzevera of Willow Editing.
I am considering the network as a potential way to share extra bits with my readers. I am also exploring it as a space to share writing resources as many of my followers are fellow writers.
But, I’d also decided to self publish Ocean Heart, and this was my priority and keeping me very busy. I didn’t have time to build my own Mighty Network. I ended up abandoning the goal to focus on my debut novel.
Early this year, I stepped back from my volunteer role with World Indie Warriors. I created their indie books brochure and eZine. Collecting all the info and publishing four times a year was taking over too much of my free time. When I started a new job, I didn’t have the energy to continue with both. It was hard to let go but I’m still very close with the members and support them however I can.
Now I’ve settled into my new role, I have more energy again. When I saw Elzevera call for help on Instagram, it sounded like a perfect new fresh challenge for me.
I applied to help, and we had a little chat about what she’d need me to do. From October, I shall be Elzevera’s new co-host. I’m excited to take on this new role.
Under the Willow is inline with my original Mighty Network goal. Elzevera’s created her network to empower writers to have the tools they need to self edit their work, and improve their writing craft in a supportive community.
If you want to join a supportive group of writers and improve your craft, please do come join us on Mighty Networks in Under the Willow
We discussed what the week is all about and those involved. We talked about how we became indie, our experience, and tips for those considering it, and to help those already with books out.
Were there any bloopers?
Going live is terrifying as there’s a fear something will go wrong. But, it builds skills in handling these. Here is what happened:
Kids: I had a few issues getting the kids to bed, so I was cutting it fine when I logged on. I used Stream Yard several times last year for my book launch without issues so I wasn’t too worried as I know it’s super simple. But…
Camera & Mic undetected: I logged on and Stream Yard couldn’t detect my camera or microphone- WTF! This is not what you want when you are about to host a live event. I switched browsers and it still wasn’t happening. It must be my laptop, because when I tried my mobile, it worked!
Unprepared: I wasn’t prepared to go live using my mobile. I had my event notes on my phone – eek! I also didn’t have a stand ready. Although my hubby snuck one over to me a few minutes in when he realised I was struggling to keep it steady. I think I did a good job of keeping the questions going without my notes.
No Link/On screen text: Next up, one of my guests hadn’t got the link to attend. It was in our group chat but for some reason was hidden from her. I accidentally added her cry for help to the screen for everyone to see. I didn’t realise until way into the stream, so you can see it for most of the live.
Lagging & Crashing: Cassidy’s iPad kept lagging making it hard for her to keep up with the chat, and we were rabbiting on. It also kept dropping her. She switched to her laptop and then it was much better.
Here are my Instagram pics introducing each of my guests:
When I decided to self publish I knew I would need an editor. As much as I love writing and creating stories, English language was never my best subject at school.
I wasn’t the worst but I wasn’t top of the class either. Even if I’d been good at English I’d still need an editor, because people miss their own mistakes.
Once ready for an editor, I was over whelmed by how many different types of editors there are. For Ocean Heart, I used many rounds of Beta Readers, and two rounds of professional edits, and used a professional formatter.
The two terms are often used interchangeably as they are similar and it’s important to check what your editor means so you can ensure what you are paying for is what you expect.
CopyEdit: Unsually involves checking SPAG, readability, and clarity. They may highlight where it’s not flowing right.
Line Edit: Usually focuses on the content and use of language. They highlight inconsistent style, where pacing is too fast/slow, if you’ve overused a word (or repeating yourself).
If you can afford both, do it. Traditionally published books will have a copy edit, then a line edit. If you can’t afford both, don’t skip the copy edit. Your spellchecker is not enough.
How I chose my Copy Editor
Avery was at the top of my list as I’d already had such a good experience with her, but I did consider letting another pair of eyes run over my manuscript.
Budget: This was a big deciding factor. I had a limited budget and had to operate within my means.
Recommendation: Connecting with other indie authors gave me a good source of recommendations, many are listed in the World Indie Warriors brochure.
Expertise: All of them had experience as an editor. One was new, but had already built a portfolio and I’d attended a workshop she did which helped build trust. But, Avery was the only one that specialised in YA.
I went with Avery as she ticked all my boxes and was already familiar with my book. As she does writing workshops with teens, she also has a close relationship with my target audience.
I paid Avery for a copy edit. But, it definitely over lapped into a line edit. For example, she highlighted a scene where the emotional impact needed work, and another scene where my character came off rude towards her friend.
Through Avery’s comments I learnt a lot about my writing. Once I’d actioned her feedback, my novel was definitely better.
I wish I could have afforded a line edit but my budget was maxed out. Avery didn’t get to see it again, as I went ahead with my next step – formatting. Once formatted, I sent it off to my ARC readers.
One of my ARC readers was author Cassidy Reyne. She did an unofficial proofread for me. I didn’t ask her to do it, she’s just sweet like that.
As I’d already paid Ingram to publish Ocean Heart (it was on preorder) there was a fee to amend the files. I paid it because I wanted my book to be as perfect as possible. I’m so thankful to Cassidy for letting me know.
For my next book, I will seek out Cassidy’s eagle eyes – if she has time. If not, I will consider getting a professional proofreader.
This year, I’ve really struggled with creating my goals. The problem is there’s so much I want to do but where to start?
I know if I have too many plates spinning, they’ll all crash. As I’m writing this it’s January 1st and I’m finally choosing my goals after agonizing over them for two weeks. And… I may still tweak them before this post goes live.
Skincare routine: Over the years, I’ve tried loads countless products and I’m constantly changing my routine. During 2021, I plan to finalise my skincare products which I think will benefit my skin.
I hate waste so I need to use up products I already have, and it also depends on money too. I’ve already decided on the products and look forward to sharing these with you as I buy them.
Visit Hollowtree Farm: Fear of the virus and lockdowns reduced the number of places we visited. We even had a gift voucher for a fun day at the farm and never got to go. They’ve said it doesn’t expire so this is a priority for 2021!
Selfcare: I never have time to indulge in things like doing my nails or a face mask. So, I’m planning to reward myself with products to support this when I hit my other goals.
Sky Heart: This is the BIG one. I want to finish book 2 in the Soul Heart series. But… there are many steps to a published book so this will likely take me all year.
For accountability, I’m going to tweet my progress every Sunday.
Novella1: I’m working on two novella’s but I want to finish “Denny’s story” first. I’m thinking of using it as a readers magnet.
Novella2: This project will be on standby and only worked on if I’m waiting on stuff for the other writing projects. This is ”Luna’s story”. I’m still working on the titles of my novellas.
Ocean Heart: I have ideas to do something special in Mer-May. But, I can’t say more until I’ve figured out the details.
10 Books: Yes, it sounds low but when I’m busy on a writing project I only read a chapter or two a night making my progress very slow. 2020 I only just hit my goal of 12 books. 😂
I do only record fiction books but I also read a few non-fiction books on writing. I’m hoping to review these on my YouTube channel this year, as well as other bookish content.
I will keep posting my reviews to my blog, Goodreads, Amazon, Book Bub, Litsy, if able to. I will track my reading goal on Goodreads.
Goodreads/Litsy/Book Bub/Book Sniffer: I’ve used Goodreads for a few years but never been very active. I hope to improve that and get better at using the other reading social apps. Which brings me on nicely to my next goal…
Website update: I’m going to quarterly review my website content to check it is up to date. And, update during that month.
Shop: Okay, it’s not social media but it is connected to my website. I’m trying to create a shop on my website but struggling. I will master it! I mastered moving my website during my book launch.
Trial Canva Pro: I love Canva and been tempted to pay for the pro version. But now there’s a scheduled too. It would be incredible to have everything in one place.
I bought Planoly during my book launch so I could schedule videos and carousels on IG. There’s been a few occasions it hasn’t posted, so I’m tempted to try other schedulers.
Consistently Post: This went really well this year for my blog and Instagram. I want to continue it and add YouTube and Twitter to my goals.
Blog: Mon, & Thurs
IG: Mon, Weds, & Fri
YT: Tue (fortnightly)
Newsletter: end of month (was every other month)
Followers/Reviews: I’ve seen people track their followers growth. I’ve never done this but it’s a good idea. I will aim for a 20% increase over all platforms.
I’d love to reach 10k on Instagram as it opens up certain features but it feels still too far out of reach. Until I worked out what 20% was, I was thinking of aiming for 5k by June. I think 4687 is more realistic and although social media helps with marketing my passion is writing.
My Facebook page has been around longer than my group. The Soul Heart Readers group was created in October to help with Ocean Heart’s release. I’m hoping members will stick around for Sky Heart – I’ll need BETA and ARC readers later this year.
I use Parler the same way I use Twitter, and really like the platform. My numbers grew fast when I first joined but has now slowed down. It’ll be interesting to see which of the two platforms has more growth in 2021.
My YouTube channel is very new, I’m not sure how fast it will grow. I’ll also be posting to Odysee to try out the new platform – I’ve not used it yet. Over the Christmas break, I created a new Intro & Outro which I’m looking forward to using.
Reviews: I have a page on my website where I’ve collected my favourite reviews of Ocean Heart, and directed readers to where the original can be found.
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.
Listing my goals for only this month looks like a lot. Eek 😬
Record unboxing of Naturismo box (then start using products)
Sky Heart: Write 5k per week – track progress on Google sheet. Share progress on Twitter/Parler for accountability
Set annual reading goal on Goodreads
Finish reading Cinderella is Dead (paperback) – track progress on Goodreads
Finish reading Winter Trials (eBook) – track progress on Goodreads
Update website content
Add shop to website
Blog & IG: Create January content & make a start on February content (aim to always be two weeks ahead)
Record, edit, schedule two YouTube/Odysee videos
Try out Canva pro – if scheduler is good, cancel Planoly
Hello my fellow Wrimos, how have you been? Are you hitting your word count goals? Are you enjoying your project?
The last question is the most important. Writing shouldn’t feel forced or like a chore. You’ll write best when you are enjoying your project.
This NaNo, I feel like I’m cheating. I’m not working on a brand new novel. You see, now Ocean Heart has been published (more details here), I want to get Book 2 out. And, it needs to be finished. But when I went to work on the ending of Sky Heart, I didn’t like what was already written. During NaNo, I’ve reworked, rewrote and written new parts. But, I’m working with chapters not an outline.
On top of this, I have three other novels I’m adding to when I get stuck on Sky Heart. Two are set in the same world and another is a sparkly brand new idea which I shouldn’t let distract me.
Word Count Progress (15 days)
Here’s a charts showing my progress over that past 15 days:
The red line is the number of words I need to achieve everyday to hit 50k by the end of the month. The yellow line is my personal daily goal. It’s more than the NaNo goal because I have taken into account taking days off for my book launch and birthdays. The blue bars are number of words written. Although, I am behind on my personal goal, I am still really pleased with where I am at.
You can see that I got off to a great start. I was so ready to write. I think it helped that I’d had a week off and enjoyed lots of family time.
Then, I got headache that lasted a few days. All my energy went into work. The anxiety about my book launch caught up with me & I struggled with sleep. It sucked my creativity dry.
World Indie Warriors were doing live sprints on Instagram. Attending one got me motivated again. We did a few sprints and I was back into my project again.
These are the things that have taken me away from my writing and aren’t necessarily bad things, but have all impacted my goals.
This was not planned. But after having a nappy flung at me and my naked child squealing wee wee, it was easy to see she was interested in using a toilet. Often I write on my phone but it’s hard to get in the flow when any second you’re little declares they need to Go! Go! Go!
November is full of birthdays making it a difficult writing month. The first half of the month includes my son’s birthday and mine. Despite lockdown we tried to make the day a little more special. I did get to write for my birthday but Noah’s day was about Noah.
The book I am enjoying at the moment is If The Broom Fits by Sarah Sutton.
I’ve also just discovered Litsy. The app is a little like Instagram but all about books. I’ve spent a bit of time trying to figure out using the site but I’m starting to get the hand of it. I was a bit confused my ‘blurb’ which is just a post about anything, not a book blurb.
I went live on YouTube with author H.B. Lyne. I always get nervous leading up to the event but afterwards I’m energised. So, I headed over to Instagram to hear Elexis Bell do a live reading of her new book A Heart of Salt & Silver. I’ve pre-ordered it but it’s taking ages to come. I want it now! Wah! I then headed over to World Indie Warriors who were hosting a live writing sprint on Instagram.
At the start of the month was the Ocean Heart Book Blitz. I tried to retweet or share posts by everyone that took part. I didn’t have to but I really value those that support my launch. It meant a lot to me that they took an interest in my book.
Well… I have not one, not two, but THREE projects for November. And, I still probably won’t make the 50k goal.
That’s not me being a defeatist. I’m not quitting before I start. In fact, despite the odds, I’m still going to try. And, you should too!
November is always a busy month. It’s my son’s & I’s birthdays, and the birthday of lots of other loved ones. On top of that, I’m launching Ocean Heart. There’s a lot going on. Plus, someone always gets ill in November – I’m hoping the social distancing is going to help avoid that this year.
Realistically, November is not the best month for me to write. However, the NaNo challenge encourages me to be more focussed and accountable. Because of this, I write more because I took part. And, I love the community spirit, writing with us.
Project 1 – Sky Heart
This is the main project. Sky Heart is book 2 in The Soul Heart Series. Getting this published will be my 2021 big goal. So, I need to get it written.
Kiely got dumped for Christmas. Heartbroken she makes rash decisions to get over her ex-boyfriend, starting with a blindfold and a mystery kisser.
Kiely’s new wild lifestyle places her in the wrong place at the wrong time. Now she must stay alive, as she’s drawn into an ancient shifter war with werewolves and reapers.
Kiely’s battle to overcome her ex is about to take her to new heights.
Project 2 – Prequel
This will be a short novella. I may give it away as a readers magnet for newsletter signups. It’ll be a Historical Fantasy, but not set a long time ago. It’ll be in the 90s.
Project 3 – Luna
My werewolf villain wants me to tell her story. I’m not sure if it will be written just for me so I know her better or to share her with the world.
Luna’s story is also to be a Historical Fantasy. This will be going back to medieval times. It’s anticipated to be a novella.
What about you?
Are you doing NaNo this year? And, what do you think of my projects?
I usually focus on just one but I’m really feeling all three of these right now and just want my creativity to flow.
I’m planning on attending a few live write ins with World Indie Warriors on Instagram.
I’m doing the challenge with World IndieWarriors and set my goals as follows:
Write the ending of Sky Heart (book 2) – estimated 20k words
Finish reading my two current reads (Agent Undone by Cassidy Reyne, and Sea Witch by Sarah Henning)
Complete Storyseller Academy course
About Sky Heart
I’ve barely started! So, at the end of June I was sending Ocean Heart (book 1) to my editor but fear struck. It was ready a week early but I kept reading it through, checking it, worrying whether it is good enough. When I was still doing this is July, I realised what I was doing and hit send… at almost midnight.
So, I started a day late. When I looked at chapter 24 of Sky Heart (book 2) I couldn’t remember what was going on. It dawned on me that it’s been too long, I need to reread it all to get my hear back in the story. I may not get to write this month 😢.
I was introduced to a website called Art Breeder. OMG this website is addictive! At first my ‘breeds’ were not quite right but the more I played the better I got.
Today, I’ve been working on blog posts and reading (a little). Blog posts weren’t part of my NaNo goal but reading was. Finally started on Camp NaNo 😂.
I think if it wasn’t Camp NaNo, I would have taken a break this month to reflect on finishing Ocean Heart.
I’m nervous about what is next and still have a lot to learn and publishing it is my annual priority goal.
You’ll notice I’ll be more laid back about my goals this month. As always, any progress is good but I’m more interested in the social aspect of the challenge.
It’s a great way to connect with other writers. If I can encourage another creative towards achieving their goals, that’s still a win. And once I’ve rejuvenated I’ll come back stronger.