Camp NaNo April 2021 Project

Sky Heart Coming Soon
Sky Heart by Ally Aldridge

Camp NaNo April 2021 Goal

My goal for Camp Nano will be to finish Sky Heart. I think there’s only 15k words left. It should be doable, but I have really been struggling with the ending.

If I do manage to get it done quickly, I will work on the prequel. It will be a novella in length and about told from Denny’s POV, about how she came to be friends with Gwyn.

Camp NaNo Story Snippets

@worldindiewarriors on Instagram have come up with some prompts to encourage people to share a snippet of their WIPs during April. They are a relaxed friendly bunch, so don’t worry if you can’t post for every prompt, or if you don’t post on Saturdays. The idea is to support each other and connect with others taking part. I’m going to try to do these challenges but I don’t post on Saturdays so… I’ll be posting when I can.

Follow #WIWSnippetSaturday

Wednesday Instagram Lives

Every Wednesday at 9pm UK, @worldindiewarriors will be hosting IG Lives to keep everyone motivated towards their goal. In addition, they will have a guest join them to discuss a topic of the week.

On 21 April, I will be their guest chatting about self publishing. If you have any questions or just want to join us, we’ll be happy to see you there.

[kofi]

If you have enjoyed this content, you’ll like:

Why I love World Indie Warriors

The World Indie Warriors Brochure

Why I have chosen to Self Publish

Don’t put off writing your novel!

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!”

If I’d waited for my ideal writers life, I’d still be waiting.

Ally Aldridge

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.

Our Wedding in Mauritius

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.

Redfae Bookshop is my Affiliate Bookshop.org Shop Link.

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.

[kofi]

If you enjoyed this, you will like:

The Process of Publishing a Novel – 1 of 3

12 Tips for Self Editing

Notebooks of Story Ideas

How to Beat Writers Block

Behind the Book: The Ugly Truth by C L Waters

For some reason I wasn’t aware book 2 was out and the crazy thing is, it was out first!

Am I right in thinking this book was originally published as a standalone, and was your first indie book?

Yes! The Ugly Truth started as a stand alone and was my first indie book. The problem was, I was never happy with the ending. It felt trite and over-simplified and I couldn’t seem to figure out how to fix it. It wasn’t until two years later that I decided to finish the series and I started on Swimming Sideways. When that book was finished, I realized I’d written them out of order and they were connected. It allowed me to go back to The Ugly Truth and write the ending which finally worked.

I notice there is a theme of truth and lies in your series, was this intentional?

I don’t know that I made a conscious decision to explore truth and lies initially, but one of the big character flaws of Seth was that he was hiding his truth in lies. Abby faces the same thing. Gabe isn’t lying so much as just hiding. So perhaps the broader theme is how we hide our true selves and the means we do that because we’re afraid or insecure or whatever reason creates that need to hide.

Which character do you relate to most?

Each of them, I think, in some ways. Abby’s “good girl” position; Seth’s need to project he’s got it all together when he doesn’t; Gabe’s sensitivity. I think the one I aspire to be like is the secondary character Dale in Gabe’s, The Bones of Who We Are. I think our stories reflect lots of pieces of us.

Tell me about the main character Seth?

Seth is a “it” guy at his high school, but he knows he doesn’t deserve it. He’s done some awful things to people including his once best friend, Gabe, by instigating “the Freak Challenge” even if he didn’t know it would blow up like it did. Worse yet, he doesn’t come forward to fix it because he’s too afraid. And that’s always been his problem: he’s afraid. At home, where no one knows, his family faces the rage of an alcoholic father, and Seth often bears the brunt of that anger. This story, however, is told through Seth’s memories, because he’s woken up as a spirit outside of his body which is lying in a coma in a hospital bed, and he doesn’t remember how he got there.

Where did the idea for this novel come from.

When I first started writing this story 15 plus years ago, it was a paranormal story. Abby and Seth were Earth guardians and Gabe was a Fallen Angel. It was initially inspired by Twilight because I was so upset with how Meyers had treated the characters. About the time I finished the first installment and began the query process, the book Fallen by Lauren Kate came out and then Hush Hush and suddenly the market was saturated. At the end of that first book, I’d ended it with Seth being dragged into a hell-like place by a demon named Amaros but I’d put the series away because I couldn’t find an agent, but Seth kept talking to me. “You’ve left me down here,” he’d say. “You’ve left me in hell.” So in 2015 I decided to approach his book as a stand alone and changed it to a YA Contemporary with speculative fiction elements. But as I mentioned earlier, I couldn’t get that ending to work! 

How did you come up with your publishing name – Mixed Plate Press?

In Hawaiʻi, where I live and write, a mixed plate (also called a plate lunch) is a little bit of everything —meat, rice, salad—and all of it represents the “local flavor” of the islands. When I came up with the name for my independent imprint business, I wanted to go for that idea of a Mixed Plate Press title being representative of “many flavors” and something for everyone. That more than just the mainstream voices could be represented as a part of the publishing platform even if they’re niche.

Can you share a snippet of the book?

Definitely!

Here’s the first chapter of The Ugly Truth:

The Truth of Being Alive… Well, Kind of…

When I become conscious of myself, the way I am now, it isn’t like the idea of waking. I’m stretched thin, not exactly in the physical world or in the spiritual one, but somehow in between. My physical body is locked, but my spirit, what I guess I am now, moves beyond the confines of my bone, muscle and skin. I hover like a breeze in the flutter of a curtain. I dart back and forth between people and follow them while my physical body remains where it is, a shell that once housed me. I don’t know how I got here.

Time doesn’t function like it once did. This in-between layer seems to have collapsed into the slow motion of time lapse. I don’t know how long I’ve been here, but the longer I am, bits and pieces flash like images spliced together and sound bites in vignettes.

Darkness.

The wail of the siren.

Words: “Stay with us, Seth.”

The wail of a woman (I think she is my mother).

Bright lights.

Beeps and blips of equipment speaking.

Drip.

“Swelling.”

“Induced coma.”

Doctors.

Whir.

Now.

I don’t think it has been very long. If I use the emotion of the woman I think is my mother’s gusts of grief as a measure, this seems recent.

A man appears in the doorway of the room. A haze of familiarity lingers in my consciousness. I think he is my father. Clues: he isn’t dressed like a doctor or a nurse and instead is in worn jeans and a button-up flannel over a white t-shirt. Add to that his hesitation at the door when he sees my body. His face is drawn, pale and heavy with the burden of emotion. I watch him take in the scene from the doorway and imagine how he might see the space from my corner of the room.

It’s a plain room, clean and sterile, a blanket the color of the sky over my physical body. My dark hair looks strange against the pillow, a stark contrast to the whiteness of the bed. The paleness of my face that seems to blend into everything else aside from the beautiful blue and purple bruises, blooming flowers, on my face and the dark cuts that crisscross my forehead. A tube protrudes from my mouth, tubes from my arms, and the loud click and whir of the machine causes my chest to rise and fall with a regular rhythm like a ticking clock.

The woman, her back to the man, holds my hand. “Seth. Honey. Momma’s here,” she says through tears.

That’s a first.

This is a thought which shocks me, a reflexive one that is as natural as breathing but like a punch to the gut. Bitterness tastes like something old and stale, and I want to rinse my mouth, wash the bitterness that dispels fermented hostility like the color of putrid yellow-green staining the atmosphere.

The man walks into the room from the doorway, the sound of his footsteps announcing his arrival. As he crosses the room, I shrink away from him. My mother’s back straightens, rigid while the essence of me tightens up and folds in on itself until it’s so small it can’t be folded anymore. It’s a reaction I don’t understand. I retreat into the upper corner of the room as far I can without passing through the wall. Again, I’m struck with this visceral response that isn’t connecting. I don’t remember. This inexplicable feeling is confounding. Add it to the confusion of being disconnected from my body and fear has planted several seeds.

The man puts his hand on my mom’s shoulder. She shrugs away from his touch as though burned. “Kate?” He asks, and this exchange solidifies he is my father. His voice sounds different than what my unreliable memory insists is characteristic of him: it’s too shallow and lacks thunder.

The man puts his hand on my mom’s shoulder. She shrugs away from his touch as though burned. “Kate?” He asks, and this exchange solidifies he is my father. His voice sounds different than what my unreliable memory insists is characteristic of him: it’s too shallow and lacks thunder.

Something in my psyche reacts to this interaction though I can’t quite name what it is I feel. I know it doesn’t feel quite right. It’s like putting on a new shoe that isn’t formed to the foot yet. Her minuscule rebellion and his muted tone are unfamiliar. I search for what seems more familiar and imagine her acquiescence in his unrelenting storm.

“I won’t speak in anger in front of Seth,” she says. It’s more of a whisper really. “He can hear. The doctor thinks so.”

“I understand you’re angry. I’m angry too.”

She swivels in her chair with acute force and levels a stare that makes him step backward. “You’re angry?” she asks through clenched teeth, the sound more like a hiss.

I stretch in my corner of the hospital room, toward them, revelation like an electric shock moves through me. My father has seen something in my mother’s look that stays him. His face says it all, the stupefaction, the denial, and then the pain. He turns away, unable to hold himself up under her gaze and leaves the room.

I follow him, curious. There is something different about this man – it’s foreign, frightening and strangely freeing. He’s shoved his hands into the pockets of his jeans and shuffles down the hallway. This father isn’t recognizable but is broken like a car that needs a new spark plug.

He enters a waiting room filled with people. Emotion rushes at me in a variety of colors: blue, red, orange, green, yellow, purple, brown, black and shades in between. Each person in the room exudes color, some with multiple hues. I don’t know what the shades mean, but I sift through the spectrum to find where the feelings emanate. As I scan the room, I freeze on one face. I know this one: Abby. She is surrounded by an aura of light-blue tinged with darker flecks of blue and gold.

My form is filled with warmth and then chased by regret. I remember her smile and her laugh. I remember the way she made me feel: safe. I reach for a memory that causes the cooling grief, but there is only blackness. “Abby. I have to tell you something,” I say but my memory stalls not able to grasp what I thought I needed to tell her. She doesn’t indicate she’s heard me. “Abby,” I try again anyway.

“She can’t hear you,” a voice from an invisible entity says.

I whirl around the room. The origin remains hidden and the voice silent, so I return to Abby.

I’m in front of her, hovering as though standing on my own two feet. I study her, free to do so. Her brown eyes are rimmed red. She’s been crying and her brown face is pale, her inner-light diminished. She’s crossed her arms over herself as though holding something in. “Abby?” I try again, but she doesn’t hear me.

An awareness I don’t want to recognize dances on the peripheral of my being. I want to turn away from it, but I can’t. It’s like an angry jester dancing within me flashing a terrible smile. Looking at Abby, anguish wraps its arms around me and panic infiltrates my life force. I know I don’t want to be like this – in between. “Abby! Help me!” I yell.

She shivers as if she is affected by my cries but looks right through me.

Someone next to her – a young man – puts his arms around her. When I’m able to focus on him through the soft light reaching toward me, I recognize him: Gabe. A flare of anger rushes through me, fire and hot, that angry jester taunting me with his awful dance again – instinctual. When I focus on my former friend, I see he’s been crying, his eyes defined by sadness. I notice the bruising on his face and my spirit cracks open. A cool-blue washes me and the red steams away. My own perception of things isn’t ringing true, a little flat, like the note needs adjustment. I’m missing something.

“You!” The word is like a shot startling me. It sounds like a curse.

Abby looks up.

I swivel around.

My father exudes black and red. I remember this man. One of his dragons appears ready to burn his intended victim with its internal fire. He’s pointing at me, but I realize he can’t see me. He sees Abby. “This is all your fault,” he yells and takes three menacing steps toward me – her. “You changed him!” He stalks through me approaching Abby with purpose.

A man I don’t remember but seems familiar moves in front of Abby. “Hey now,” he says. At the same time another man dressed in a black suit and a cleric collar appears at my father’s elbow.

“Jack,” one of them says. I don’t know which. “You’re hurting.”

The words break a dam. My father folds in on himself, shrinks as though the impending storm is cut up by a downdraft. The other two men help him to a seat near the window.

Shaken by what I’ve witnessed, I return to my body.

My mother is still there, holding my hand and humming a quiet lullaby through her tears:

When the traveler in the dark…

Thanks you for your tiny spark…

The world around me begins to spin, as though someone has swiped at a table-top globe. The room rotates on an axis and the colors rush together in a blur. I’m compressed and suffocating and though I work to focus on my mother’s song, I can’t find a focal point. This place where I’m in between isn’t freedom. It’s a trap, a prison, and I’m stuck.

Wake up! Wake up! I think. I squeeze myself shut attempting to disappear in order to reappear in the awake world. But nothing happens. The spinning slows. The space around me coming back into focus. I still hover in the room listening to the quiet hum of my mother’s voice who’s accompanied by the percussion of the life support.

Drip.

He could not see which way to go.

Drip.

If you did not twinkle so.

Whir.

Twinkle, twinkle little star.

Whir.

How I wonder what you are.

Chapter 1 – The Ugly Truth by C L Watersx

Redfae Bookshop is my Affiliate Bookshop.org Shop Link.

Where can we go to discover more about you and your books?

If you aren’t interested in my website, www.clwalters.net then I’m active on Instagram @cl.walters

[kofi]

If you enjoyed this, you will like:

Behind the Book: Swimming Sideways by C. L. Waters

Book Review: And The Stars Were Burning Brightly

Behind the Book: Stuck on Vacation with Ryan Rupert by P A Malcolm

Behind the Book: 2020 Collection

Why you need a Copy Editor

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.

I chose to use Avery McDougall as my copy editor. 

Developmental Editor

Avery McDougall was my Developmental Editor. I wrote a blog post about my experience and included her comments in my Behind the Character series.

Why You Need A Developmental Editor

What is copy/line editing?

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.

Copy Edit: 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.

My experience

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.

Unofficial Proofreader

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.

Redfae Bookshop is my Affiliate Bookshop.org Shop Link.

[kofi]

If you enjoyed this, you will like:

12 Tips For Self Editing

Behind the Character – Mariah

Book Review: Agent Undone – Cassidy Reyne

The Making of the Blurb – Ocean Heart

The Process of Publishing a Novel – 1 of 3

Check out the collection for all parts.

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.

Plan

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.

Write

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.

Here’s a handy post on beating writers block.

Self Edit

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.

Here is a post with some tips on how to self edit.

Alpha Reader

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.

Self Edit

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.

Beta Readers

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.

Here is a post that compares Beta and ARC readers (and touches on Alpha readers).

Self Edit

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…

Redfae Bookshop is my Affiliate Bookshop.org Shop Link.

[kofi]

If you enjoyed this post, you will like:

Check out my Live Stream Team

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2021 Goals!

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.

Personal

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!

Self care: 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.

Writing

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.

Publishing a Novel To Do List

For accountability, I’m going to tweet my progress every Sunday.

Novella 1: 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.

Novella 2: 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.

Reading

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…

Social Media

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)
  • Twitter: Sun
  • 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.

2021 Followers Count

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.

January Goals

Listing my goals for only this month looks like a lot. Eek 😬

Personal

  • Record unboxing of Naturismo box (then start using products)

Writing

  • Sky Heart: Write 5k per week – track progress on Google sheet. Share progress on Twitter/Parler for accountability

Reading

  • 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

Social Media

  • 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
  • Weekly Twitter/Parler accountability post

[kofi]

If you enjoyed this you will like:

About Ocean Heart

My 2020 Book Reviews

Looking back at 2020

My Links Page

NaNoWriMo Outcome

Spoiler alter! I didn’t reach 50k. I knew I wouldn’t because November is a busy month, mainly with birthdays galore, but add to that everything that goes with launching a book and it’s pretty impressive I wrote anything.

Maybe I should have passed this year’s NaNo but I just can’t help myself. I love the NaNo community.

Planning

The goal for NaNoWriMo is to write 50k words in 30 days. This works out to roughly 1,667 words per day.

But, what if you can’t write every day. What if you know on certain days it will be near impossible to write? And, 30 days is a long month if never allow yourself a single break.

I made a calendar in Excel and put Y or N depending on if I could write or not. I think counted the Y, and worked out I could write on 18 days of the month. This meant on my writing days, I needed to achieve 2778 words.

How It Went…

Week 1, went well. I had planned for a day off for for going live with Holly but joined a World Indie Warriors writing sprint afterwards. I also planned a day off for my birthday but decided to celebrate by writing This put me ahead of target. I needed to hit 13,890 words and had 16,306 words.

Week 2, I allowed one day off for my son’s birthday so it didn’t impact my goal. But, I also skipped two planned writing days, and that put me behind. I needed to hit 30,558, but I only had 26,725. This is why in my mid point check in I said I was behind, even though I had more words than NaNo participants that were on target, because I knew I had less days than them to write.

Week 3, was not good. I had planned a day off for going live with Nicola. But, I agreed to an unplanned live with Lyndell. Then, I decided to sell my house and had to tidy up (everywhere) for the Estate Agent (and then we decided not to sell). Then our boiler broke and spent a whole evening trying to create a bath warm & deep enough to bathe. This resulted in my not writing on four days I planned to – not good. I needed to hit 47,226 words, and I had only reached 31,473 words.

Week 4, was getting close to my release date and I wanted to give it my full attention. I only planned to write on one day and I did. This week involved pre-recording a radio interview. I also attempted to migrate my website myself from one server to another, and transfer my domain to the new location. It wasn’t smooth sailing. I also attended a full online writing festival, Indie Fire. I needed to reach 50,000 words but only had 38,643. I could have written some evenings but I didn’t want to burn out.

Week 5, is just the last two days of the month.

Was It A Success?

I didn’t get 50k words, so I failed NaNoWriMo. But…

My big goal for this year was to publish Ocean Heart, and I wasn’t going to let NaNo ruin that. If NaNo had distracted me from my launch then it would have been an epic fail.

When I set out to do NaNo this year, I just wanted to get back into Sky Heart. I achieved that. To me, personally, that makes this NaNo a success.

What’s Next?

I’m going to enjoy my book release week as I need to recharge and revel in this long awaited moment.

I will continuing working on finishing Sky Heart, book 2 in The Soul Heart Series. I’m hoping the first draft will be ready for Betas by the end of January.

Book 2 in The Soul Heart Series

I’ve created a work in progress cover, to visualise achieving my goal. Do you like it?

I’m also working on two Novellas. I’m hoping with these being shorter they’ll be quicker to get out & help with the wait for Sky Heart. I’ll announce those once I have a title.

All Author Cover Contest

Ocean Heart is currently entered in the All Author December 2020 Cover Contest. If you like the cover of Ocean Heart please vote for it.

[kofi]

If you enjoyed this, you will like:

NaNoWriMo Mid Point Check in – Nov 2020

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.

Distractions

These are the things that have taken me away from my writing and aren’t necessarily bad things, but have all impacted my goals.

Potty Training

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!

Birthdays

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.

Reading

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.

YouTube

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.

Book Blitz

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.

Redfae Bookshop is my Affiliate Bookshop.org shop link.

If you liked this, you’ll enjoy:

My NaNoWriMo Project

How to beat writers block

What’s happening this month!

Camp NaNo Progress (mid July 2020)

My NaNoWriMo Project

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.

[kofi]

If you enjoyed this you will like:

Camp NaNo July 2020

NaNoWriMo 2017 — Ally Aldridge

Now you can PreOrder Ocean Heart!

Behind the Character: Kiely

What is #Preptober ?

Preptober

A popular event in November is NaNoWriMo. During the month if November participants of the event take on the challenge to write 50k words.

So, what’s this go today with what preptober is?

Writing 50k words is a big task. As a result, people started preparing during October for NaNoWriMo in November. And, this activity got the name #Preptober.

NaNoWriMo Project

Sky Heart is book 2 in The Soul Heart series. It was almost finished but I struggle with endings. In April, I tried to write the ending (for Camp NaNo) but when I revisited the manuscript… it was awful.

For NaNo, I’m going to start over. I’m going to re-plot, develop my characters more deeply, focus on my world building, and organise my research.

What I’ve done so far…

Got Dabble

Dabble is online writing software. I love Dabble and I went to buy it, but found out there was a trial for NaNo. What’s more, my dabble manuscript will auto update my NaNo word count. How awesome is that?

And, Dabble now is mobile friendly. I’ve saved the site as an icon on my mobile so I can write on my phone. Yay!

Character Development

To work on improving my skills, I treated myself to two new books.

10 STEPS TO HERO by Sacha Black

CREATING COMPELLING CHARACTERS FROM THE INSIDE OUT by L.M. Lilly

View this post on Instagram

How’s your #preptober going? I’m doing the #wiwpreptober challenge but most evenings been so tired I’ve gone straight to bed and done no prepping. But it’s important to listen to your body and relax when you need to. 💛 Day 4: Plotter/Pantser: I’m somewhere in the middle #plantser . I have a vague plan but mostly make it up as I go. I’m more of of pantser but #savethecat has helped me improve my plotting and it’s something I want to improve as I think it’ll speed up finishing my novels. Yesterday, my new books arrived (top of the pile). I’m focussing on improving my character development. The one with no text on the spine is Rayne Hall’s The Word Loss Diet. Have you read any of these? 💛 Day 5: #worldteachersday My favourite teacher was Mr Macy, my English teacher. He gave me extra notebooks for my story writing – the way to a writers heart. Another top teacher was my primary school teacher who taught me what an author is and set my dream in motion. She was either called Miss Fancy of Miss Twinkle – I’ll have to ask my mum. 💛 Day 6: Setting? Book 2, Sky Heart, will start off in my home town Felixstowe but mostly set in the Isle of Skye (Scotland), and a short stopover in Birmingham. The images are from Unsplash by artist Massimiliano Morosinotto (@therawhunter ). 💛 #writingbooks #writingresources #writingtools #theemotionthesaurus #pocketguidetopublishing #thewordlossdiet #takeoffyourpants #theelementsofstyle #creatingcompellingcharacters #10stepstohero #raynehall #sashablack #inspirational #inspirationalteachers #authordreams #setting #writinggoals #isleofsky #isleofskyescotland #skyheart #writingyafiction #yafantasyseries #thesoulheartseries #plotter #pantser

A post shared by Author Ally Aldridge (@redfae) on

Book Bible Workshop

To help get all my story development organised, I attended a free workshop provided by World Indie Warriors and delivered by author J D Groom (who I’m a big fan of). If you’re a WIW member you can catch the replay via their website.

Doing #WIWPreptober

On Instagram World Indie Warriors are doing a photo challenge to keep writers motivated preparing for NaNo, and it’s an opportunity to get to know others better. I don’t take part everyday but here are my posts so far:

View this post on Instagram

How’s your #preptober going? I’m doing the #wiwpreptober challenge but most evenings been so tired I’ve gone straight to bed and done no prepping. But it’s important to listen to your body and relax when you need to. 💛 Day 4: Plotter/Pantser: I’m somewhere in the middle #plantser . I have a vague plan but mostly make it up as I go. I’m more of of pantser but #savethecat has helped me improve my plotting and it’s something I want to improve as I think it’ll speed up finishing my novels. Yesterday, my new books arrived (top of the pile). I’m focussing on improving my character development. The one with no text on the spine is Rayne Hall’s The Word Loss Diet. Have you read any of these? 💛 Day 5: #worldteachersday My favourite teacher was Mr Macy, my English teacher. He gave me extra notebooks for my story writing – the way to a writers heart. Another top teacher was my primary school teacher who taught me what an author is and set my dream in motion. She was either called Miss Fancy of Miss Twinkle – I’ll have to ask my mum. 💛 Day 6: Setting? Book 2, Sky Heart, will start off in my home town Felixstowe but mostly set in the Isle of Skye (Scotland), and a short stopover in Birmingham. The images are from Unsplash by artist Massimiliano Morosinotto (@therawhunter ). 💛 #writingbooks #writingresources #writingtools #theemotionthesaurus #pocketguidetopublishing #thewordlossdiet #takeoffyourpants #theelementsofstyle #creatingcompellingcharacters #10stepstohero #raynehall #sashablack #inspirational #inspirationalteachers #authordreams #setting #writinggoals #isleofsky #isleofskyescotland #skyheart #writingyafiction #yafantasyseries #thesoulheartseries #plotter #pantser

A post shared by Author Ally Aldridge (@redfae) on

October Blog Posts

All my blog posts for October are written, with pics and scheduled.

What I still need to do…

Plot Outline

I want to re-outline my story using Save The Cat. I’ve learnt a lot working on book 1 and want to use this to improve book 2.

BuJu

I’d love to get into bullet journalling. I’ll try and create a reward page to track my progress during the event.

October Newsletter

I need to write this. It’ll go out end of the month and I’m hoping it will contain details of my Preorder Giveaway.

November Blog Posts & Instagram

I’d like to have most of these written before I start NaNo so they don’t interrupt my progress. But, I’ll likely post on how I’m getting on and that can’t be written ahead of time.

If you enjoyed this, you will like:

Camp NaNo July 2020

NaNoWriMo 2017 — Ally Aldridge

Soul Heart Readers – Street Team

Books