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
It’s been a tough year for high street shops due to the pandemic. Many spent months closed as they weren’t deemed essential. I know, who said books aren’t essential?
Ocean Heart released on 1 Dec and the country was in lockdown. The book signing event I’d always dreamed of was looking bleak. Boris said no!
I reached out to Stillwater Books with my proposed idea, a work around solution for a book signing during lockdown. I literally happy danced when they said yes.
I promptly got to work on promoting the event. The manager was patient with me as I figured out details, how to order books, write an invoice, and all the other brand new tasks I was doing for the first time.
I signed the ordered books and brought them into the shop. I made a little video for YouTube. Customers who had preordered, then either collected from the store or arranged for local delivery.
I certainly hadn’t imagined a non-contact book signing before, but Stillwater Books worked with me to make it happen. I will always be thankful to them for helping make my dream come true.
It’s really important to shop at your local independent bookshop. In doing so, you are supporting your high street, local jobs, a small business, and treating yourself to a new read.
That’s why I love being an affiliate with Bookshop.org. Redfae Bookshop.org is my affiliate store giving recommendations on books you should buy. It connects you with a local independent bookshop for your purchase. In return you support them with your custom and I get a small commission.
Here’s my Camp NaNo writers diary for the second half of Camp NaNo.
Thursday, 15 April
I wrote the scene I have been struggling with – the big fight scene. It was 1,422 words. It’s not The End yet as I’ve realised there is one more scene needed to join this to the end that I wrote. But, The End is in sight.
Friday, 16 April
This morning, I had a one-to-one chat with Pagan it was an Author Breakthrough Session. I had no idea what to expect but afterwards I felt more focussed and empowered. I’ll be writing a full blog post on the experience.
My 2y old was in a creative mood today. We did painting, we did slime, and puzzles. My mum popped over and I showed her what I’d done with her Cricut Maker I borrowed. Later, my son helped me at the vets and food shopping.
Tonight, I wrote 812 words and finished my first draft of Sky Heart. The End
The final word count is 76,763 words. Usually during my first self edit this number increases as I discover where I need to add more detail.
Saturday, 17 April
I managed to escape the kids for a writing sprint on Facebook. As Sky Heart is finished, I worked on a novel I may offer as a readers magnet or sell as a prequel.
I also attempted to make a book trailer for Ocean Heart. As it’s my first attempt at this, I’m still not sure.
Sunday, 18 April
Today we went into town to get sandwiches and cake. We then went for a walk in the woodlands and had a picnic. We were so full we saved the cake for home.
I fiddled a little more with the trailer, especially with tweaking the sound affects. It’s very tricky trying to achieve precision on a mobile phone. I’m happy with the outcome. I guess I ought to make Sky Heart one.
Monday, 19 April
Today was meant to be my marketing Monday but Pagan would not been impressed because I didn’t do it. I was really into my secret project and wanted to work on it. I’ll do Marketing tomorrow…
Tuesday, 20 April
I lied. I didn’t do Marketing today either. I had a little anxiety about tomorrow so had an early night with my husband.
Wednesday, 21 April
Tonight was my Live with World Indie Warriors. We had so much fun chatting we were on for 2hs.
Today was my long work day. After work I chilled out and had some me time. I ran a bath and read The Rookery.
Friday, 23 April
I published Ocean Heart using Ingram Spark for both the paperback and eBook. It never went live on Google Play, or Apple Books. I was busy with my launch so left it. Once Christmas was out the way I queried what happened with IS.
IS confirmed it should be on Apple and would look into what happened. It turned out my files were too big. But, things got busy at work so I left it.
Today has been a busy day working on how to resolve it. I uploaded it to Google Play – this was pretty straight forward and I now have to wait to be approved. But Apple has been a complete nightmare with their iTunes Connect page displaying an error 401.
Saturday, 24 April
I had a busy morning clearing out the garden. It actually looks worse now but it is because I am preparing rubbish that needs to go to the tip.
I played with my kids and didn’t get to write or read. They were excited by treasures I found in the shed like a remote control car & keyboard. I think they ended up there because they are noisy.
iTunes Connect replied to apologise for the current issues and they are working on resolving this as quickly as possible, but there was no indication of how long it’ll take.
In the evening my hubby & I finished watching a film and started the new Shadow & Bone series on Netflix.
Sunday, 25 April
Today, is the day I work on my social media. I write blog posts and prepare my Instagram posts. As the end of the month draws near, I also worked on my newsletter.
I uploaded a free digital download to Ko-Fi for people to use to track their books.
I’d like to do a MerMay Giveaway to celebrate Ocean Heart being 6 months old but my ideas keep getting ruined.
I wanted to create a personalised National Book Token but that’s temporarily unavailable. I wanted to offer Ocean Heart for Free to celebrate it now being on Google Play but it takes 12 days to get approved, and Apples website isn’t loading the page for new authors to join so I’m waiting for tech support to resolve it.
I also thought it’d be nice to donate to an Ocean type charity but don’t have a ton of money and worry people will judge me for it not being enough.
I’m still figuring out what to do for MerMay and time is running out as I want to announce it in my newsletter going out on 30 April!
Monday, 26 April
Today, I read Rookery. Ideally I want to finish it before the end of the month because of the MerMay readathon.
I posted a few pics to Litsy, talking about my writing resource books.
I sold my first signed copy of Ocean Heart from my Ko-Fi shop. 💛
Once the kids were in bed, I still didn’t do any Marketing. Eek – my check in with Pagan will be embarrassing. Instead I had a bath and watched Shadow & Bone.
Tuesday, 27 April
Today was my long day working.
In my lunch break I organised the P&P for my Ko-Fi customer and researched KDP. Apple emailed to encourage me to contact their development team about the issue as the technical team can’t resolve it.
After work, and once the kids were in bed, I signed a copy of Ocean Heart, packaged it up, and set it off to my first Ko-Fi customer.
Wednesday, 28 April
I booked a day off work – yay!
Today, I went into town to get the parcel delivered but I misheard the girl at the desk and paid way more for p&p than I wanted. I was cross, but she’d printed the labels so I just paid it. 🙁
I tried to confirm the amount Google Play paid into my account to verify and prove its my bank account but Google said I’m wrong and to guess again. I’m going to wait and see if they pay another amount in and try again in a few days.
I also looked at creating my Amazon affiliate account for UK/US. And, started developing a webpage disclosing my affiliate accounts.
I also did a lot of work on my newsletter. I add to it throughout the month but it needs pics and tidying up. I only have the related social media posts left to do now.
In the evening, I caught the WIW Live with guest Julia Scott. She’s author of Mirror Souls and a formatter. In fact, she was my formatter.
Thursday, 29 April
Today was my long day at work, and I didn’t sleep well last night. I think I need an early night. That’s if Aria lets me – she’s playing up tonight and refusing to go to bed. Which is odd because she was crying and begging to go to bed before her milk was ready.
I did the finishing touches to my newsletter ready to send tomorrow. Relaxed by reading the Rookery, and then watched some Shadow & Bone.
Friday, 30 April
Today, I sent my newsletter. I hope I’ve made the right choice with my Giveaway.
As you can see I’ve taken a break from writing now Sky Heart is written. But, after this weekend I will start the self editing process.
Discover more about Sky Heart by visiting my Sky Heart page. Sky Heart is book 2 in the Soul Heart series.
Discover more about Ocean Heart by visitingmy Ocean Heart page. Ocean Heart is book 1 in the Soul Heart series.
Here’s my Camp NaNo writers diary for the first half of Camp NaNo.
This post contains a few bookshop.org affiliatelinks.
Weds, 31 March
Camp NaNo Eve I attended the first of World Indie Warriors IG Lives. J D Groom & Cassidy Reyne are the hosts and introduced their own Camp NaNo projects.
WIW are also doing snippet challenge on IG to give people an excuse to share her the projects they are writing.
Each week there is a prompt, and you post a snippet from your WIP on that theme. I’m a rebel and posting on different days. But, I’m determined to do them all within April.
Thurs, 1 April
I caught a Writing Sprint on Facebook hosted by @unstoppableauthors . It helped me make a good start on my goals, achieving 1k words. I’m going to look out for this sprint next week.
The sprint was hosted by Urban Fantasy author H B Lyne and dystopian author Angeline Trevena. Both also have published writing resource books.
Friday, 2 April
Busy day today. I took my son to play in the garden of a friends house. It was really cold and we couldn’t go inside due to the pandemic rules.
My husband found my long lost Kindle. It needs charging but I’m so happy to have it back.
I managed to write 500 words today. I am so close to the end now but took a break as I’m struggling to picture the big fight scene.
I finished reading A Heart of Salt & Silver. Look out for my full review next week. A short version is already on Goodreads, Litsy, and Amazon.
Saturday, 3 April
Spent the evening going through the list of people I follow but don’t follow me back to decide if I want to unfollow them.
Sunday, 4 April
I went to Homebase to get paint for some redecorating we’ve been talking about for ages.
Didn’t feel well so I went to bed early. Good news was my Kindle is charged, so I watched The Wilds on Prime.
Monday, 5 April
I cleared out my son’s bedroom and did masking tape. His room was the first we decorated when we moved in. At age 5, he peeled off the animal stickers as he said they were to babyish, and we promoted to redecorate… 2y later, we are doing it.
My son is a bit nervous about not sleeping in his room. He doesn’t like change. But, he’s excited to see his new grown up room tomorrow.
Still not feeling great, so had another early night. I didn’t write but I did a lot of research and practicing a new skill, that I’m hoping to sell one day. I was creative, but not with Sky Heart.
Tuesday, 6 April
Noah loves his new room. #Win
I had work all day today but managed to write 500 words for Sky Heart. I have roughly three major scenes to go but these are big ones and pretty tough. I’ll admit I feel intimidated.
I’ve done some brain storming for the big battle but still can’t see it clear in my head. I can however see the ending, so I may jump ahead to that.
Wednesday, 7 April
I worked more on my secret project. I also worked on prepping images for my IG feed.
This evening I watched the WIW Live with guest author Kara S Weaver. They chatted about editing, the different types, and why it’s important.
Thursday, 8 April
Today has been pretty chilled out other than my phone screen cracking.
I won a free call with Pagan Malcolm, who coaches authors to take their careers to the next level. I’m booked in next week, early Friday morning (although for her, I think it’s late). I’m not sure what to expect – should I get her to help with my battle, public speaking, or my secret project. Whatever we get up to, I’ll probably blog my experience.
I watched the replay of a masterclass I recently attended on how to write a 5 star ending. Then I watched a live author chat from the fantasy writers festival, QuaranCon2021.
Once the kids were in bed, I used an app to animate my characters created in Art Breeder, to sing. Author procrastination at its finest.
Then, I attended a writing chat and Sprint by Unstoppable Authors hosted by H B Lyne and Angelina Trevena, and wrote 478 words.
Friday, 9 April
This was a bad day. First, my 2 year old threw my mobile phone and the screen cracked. I use my mobile for everything but can’t afford to fix it, so I’ll have to carry on and hope it doesn’t get worse.
Then, I received news that my daughter isn’t getting a place at our chosen nursery. She was on a waiting list for morning sessions which fit around my work & childcare availability but they only have afternoon sessions. To accommodate that, I’d have to cut my working hours in half and not only is my employer unlikely to agree to that as it’d make travelling to my appointments within the time very challenging, but I also can’t afford to reduce my hours. I now need to find another nursery or quit my job. There aren’t many nursery’s nearby as most closed permanently during the pandemic for various reasons.
When I’m stressing about a problem I can’t write. I opened my manuscript and stared at the blank page before closing it and trying something creative. I worked on my secret project.
Saturday, 10 April
We decided that I’m no stressed enough, so we painted part if the front room. Every chance my 2y old got, she was “help painting”. It was exhausting keeping her away all day, and the house was freezing as we kept the windows open.
I did not write. My head is not in the right place.
Sunday, 11 April
So, my 2y old didn’t sleep. She was up at 3am. By 5am I gave up and she attempted to “Help painting.” I’m pretty sure I’m running on empty.
I did make progress on some blog posts and have drafted two Behind the Book posts that I now just need to proofread and schedule. I probably won’t get to this until next weekend.
I also helped my 7y old son to create a cute Woodland scene for school. We borrowed my mum’s Cricut Maker and he created his die cuts in Canva, and I helped him add them to Cricut. I then helped with sticking them down where he told me, while he painted. We spent over two hours on it.
I’m so frustrated. I want to write the fight scene for Sky Heart but it’s not coming to me. I didn’t want to waste my time, so I worked on my secret project.
Monday, 12 April
I’ve found two nurseries that might be able to take Aria. Fingers crossed I can sort this out so I can feel more settled.
I spent most my day playing with Aria, and tidying up. I also completed most of the application form for one of the nurseries.
I accidentally forgot to charge my laptop so it was taking ages to come on even with the charger in. I decided to watch some TV with my hubby.
Tuesday, 13 April
I worked all day today.
Then, in the evening I wrote 192 words. It doesn’t sound like much but I finally had a breakthrough with the difficult scene and can see it now!
Wednesday, 14 April
I worked today, and by the time the kids were in bed, it was already 9pm. I attended the World Indie Warriors IG Live. Today the guest speaker was Michelle Raab, chatting marketing, writing dystopia, and psychology.
Have you seen that advert of a mum working from home? She is lying on the floor cooing at her baby and typing on her laptop. I bet you know the one I mean.
Well, I’m embarrassed to admit I believed this could be my life. My dream has always been to be a Novelist and I also longed to be a mother, so this image was singing to my heart, ”you can have it all!”
I’ve been writing stories ever since I could put a sentence together but for many reasons I put off seriously trying to get published until the prospect of children was on the horizon.
As soon as I got engaged in September 2009, I came off the contraceptive pill. I wanted it out of my system so I could get pregnant as fast as possible once married. We married in June 2011 but different factors got in the way of motherhood.
During that time I wrote Hunted, Instinct and Drift (now published as Ocean Heart). I edited Drift, queried it, got some requests… but never an offer.
Late 2013, I had my son. He took over my life in the most glorious way, but it was obvious how unrealistic that image in my head was. My working hours were reduced but it didn’t enable any extra time for writing. If anything, I had less time. I was juggling a job and my parental responsibilities. Most evenings I was too shattered to do anything.
Once my son turned three, we decided we were ready to grow our family. Fortunately, I didn’t fall pregnant quickly because a few months later the company I was employed at went into administration. Expanding our family was put on hold until we got financial stabile again.
To my relief, almost a year later, we decided to try again and I fell pregnant straight away. My daughter joined us in the summer of 2018.
During this time I’d continued to edit and query Drift. I realised that I have to just make my situation work if I wanted my dream. That meant, I often wrote in the evenings when my kids slept. Sometimes they have worn me out in the day and I have to be okay with letting myself take a break.
I focus on celebrating what I have achieved and that I’m still making progress, instead of being frustrated I can’t do it as fast as others. I blog and schedule content on my mobile whilst my kids play. I make my social media posts on my phone often using Canva. In the smallest pocket of time, I can still work towards my goals.
Due to my new can do attitude, I’m now a published author. That’s right, in December 2021, I said yes to myself, and published Ocean Heart, book 1 in The Soul Heart series. If I’d waited for my ideal writers life, I’d still be waiting.
During lockdown, I’ve lost my childcare for my youngest . And, whenever the schools close, I’m homeschooling for my oldest. My employer has been pretty supportive and when I’ve been most impacted by the pandemic, I have been placed on Furlough.
These days I have even less time to write! But, I’m writing. Maybe not everyday, but I am getting there.
My message to you is, do what you can now because every little bit will add up. There’s nothing to lose. Worst case scenario, you have a fabulous novel all to yourself.
The first step to publishing a novel is often to write the first draft. This is the same whether you wish to traditionally or self publish. There are some exceptions to this rule.
If you’ve have an interesting story to tell from your real life or an expert in your field, a publisher or agent might reach out and request you write a book if there is a market in demand.
Some people prefer to hire a ghost writer to write for them. In this case you’re not the one physically writing your book and this post is not for you because today I’m covering writing the draft version.
Step 1 – Draft a Novel
Here is a handy info graphic of what I’m going to cover in this post.
You can save this to your Pinterest board.
If you’re writing a full length novel it’s useful to start with a plan. I don’t consider myself a plotter but I still write an outline. It helps me get from A to B, and a few check points along the way.
Some writers want a more detailed plan. They might want to design their characters, do some Worldbuilding and draw maps, or even need to research information.
This is obviously the most important part. If you don’t write the book there won’t be a book. However, don’t get hung up on making it perfect. You will not publish your first draft – in fact nobody has to see that monstrosity if you don’t want them to.
Writing a novel is a big task. It can help to break it down into smaller more manageable tasks. Many writers find it useful to set word count goals. Writing sprints can be useful to focus time on writing in quick bursts.
Some writers edit as they write – this does slow the process down but afterwards your manuscript is in a better shape. Other writers spew the words onto the page and tidy up the mess afterwards.
It doesn’t matter how you do it but you’ll want to give it an edit before letting anyone else read it. It’s easy to make mistakes whilst you are in the moment.
You don’t need to limit the number of self edits. Edit it as many times as you need to. Some people break the task into different focusses. For example, you might do a read through and look for inconsistencies, or focus on SPAG, or receptiveness, or pacing.
Not everybody uses an Alpha. They are often someone you are close to and you show them an early draft to get feedback. Sometimes Alphas are used before a book is finished to assess whether the story has any merit before investing a load of time in it.
Whenever you get feedback on your book you should reflect on it. Did your Alpha share some ideas to help you improve your book?
Don’t worry if they didn’t. Many Alphas are already your personal cheerleaders (like your spouse, mum, best friend, etc). They might not have the skills to critique but when you’re battling self doubt, they are the ones picking you up and cheering you on.
They may also have raised issues or ideas you hadn’t thought about. Often when trying to get someone to understand your idea, you discover the plot holes or where things aren’t clear enough.
These people read a draft you’ve worked on improving. You can even find paid Betas who have skills to highlight where you can improve your novel further.
Yes! You will get feedback from your Betas on how to improve your book. It’s best to have a few Betas and they may even have conflicting views. Allow yourself time to reflect on their advice.
Remember it is your novel at the end of the day and if their ideas are changing the vision you had, you don’t have to apply them. However, if several readers pointed out the same thing, they most likely have a point you should pay attention to.
You may even want to ask your Betas questions. For example, is this sex scene too much for teen readers? Um… yes, I’m working on a story where my Betas will be asked this. 😂
Get a Professional Edit…
The next post in my series is about getting your manuscript professionally edited…
I think we can all agree that this year has been unexpected. I started the year with concerns over a new flu virus threatening to sweep the world and feeling a bit silly for being so worried about it. But, by the end of February, the rest of the country had caught up with my fears, and we were on lockdown.
As a result, it has made me more open to conspiracy theories. The things I saw at the start of the year that caused my concerns were of people being chained in their homes to prevent the spread, Wuhan the hospitals being overwhelmed, and people dropping dead in the streets. Thankfully, we’ve not had it that severe here. In fact, I suspect those early videos weren’t real. Luckily we don’t know anyone personally that has had Covid. I’m over being worried.
I’m following a few Court Cases: Johnny Depp vs Amber Heard, Ghislaine Maxwell (and Epstein) vs the trafficked girls (and boys, if any come forward), and Trump vs Election Fraud.
Adapting to the new normal
My husband and I are now predominantly working from home. We even had a short spell of home schooling our son – which was quite challenging but we did it. My little girl has adapted to having us both home. It has brought us closer together as we get to spend more time together as a family.
All this staying home has been great for the environment. I hope when we come out of this, people do think more about whether they need to travel.
What we’ve missed
Play groups is something I feel I’ve missed the most. Aria was enjoying playing with other kids and using different toys, and I appreciated meeting up with other mums. Noah has just hit that age where he wants to play at his friend’s homes, and found not having a party for his birthday tough. My hubby has missed the freedom of going out, like having the option to just visit someone.
We missed days out. Even when the lockdown relaxed we didn’t go out like we used to. For example, this summer, the local beach was heaving with people so we avoided it. We also didn’t go to the local farms. We did manage to go to the zoo and had a lovely day out.
What I’m thankful for
Mostly, I’ve been in the minority that has enjoyed lockdown. I like not having the commute to work, there’s no wear and tear on my car, or cost of car parking, and petrol. I enjoy not having any social pressures to go out, meet up, dress nice, or attend any special occasions.
I liked my stay at home birthday, minimum fuss, and collection dinner from the Dooley (local pub). I’m looking forward to a quiet cosy Christmas with just my husband and kids. It feels like life has slowed down so we can enjoy moments and value what is important.
Something we’ve all come to value is out health and wellbeing. We will continue to take care of ourselves and each other.
I am so chuffed I hit my goal of publishing Ocean Heart. Originally I wanted to publish it in May but it was a lot more work than I anticipated and I ended up putting the date back to 1 Dec.
The launch was another big achievement. I pushed myself out of my comfort zone and did things I would never have done before. I started a YouTube channel, and did a few live streams, including my launch party. I did two press release interviews, and I did a radio interview that was played live twice. And, I managed to arrange a book signing in a pandemic!
What a way to end the year! I must admit, I do feel exhausted, but I am eager to get writing that next book.
Thank you for be part of my 2020. I have been blown away by the support of so many this year which has been a real highlight. I want to wish you a Happy Christmas – however, you chose to celebrate the holidays.
I hope you are able to find things to be thankful for, and are surrounded by loved ones. I hope you have a good book to help you escape the madness this year has been.
Wishing you all the best for 2021
My next post won’t be until 2021 as I am spending the rest of this year setting my goals and developing a plan to achieve them.
On that note, I wish you a happy new year too, and I hope 2021 is full of joy.