For a few months now I’ve been working on creating my first newsletter. I’ve been working on it a bit at a time, a combination of planning and technical issues, but it’s finally ready.
And it’s certainly been a learning experience!
Like my blog, the newsletter will be sent out once a month. I’ll talk about my latest news, research articles, books, film, and television. And of course, there will be spooky stories of the paranormal, mysteries, and the unexplained. 😉
If you subscribe to my newsletter, you will also receive an exclusive flash fiction. Just visit my Newsletter page.
Now that my newsletter is finally up and running, I look forward to getting back into doing some writing. 🙂
This time last year, I entered my first RWA short story competition. Although my entry didn’t place, I managed to step out of my comfort zone. That story, along with one other, would later go on to become ‘First Christmas’, my first foray into the world of sweet paranormal romance. Even though I had fun writing both those stories, when my book was published in November, I felt happy to go ‘home’.
And where is that, exactly?
They say ‘home is where the heart is’, and for me that place is a spooky old mansion, full of dark shadows and forbidden secrets. My home, my real home, is among the darkness. Like many journeys we take, we sometimes need to spread our wings, but we always return to our roots.
In her book ‘Dear Writer, You Need to Quit’ (which I recommend for all you writers out there), Becca Syme says that we need to quit focusing on our weaknesses. Instead, we should focus on our strengths. Once we know what they are, development is the next step.
I recently finished reading Stephen King’s ‘Full Dark, No Stars’, and one of the things he had to say in the afterword resonated with me. ‘When it comes to fiction, the writer’s only responsibility is to look for the truth inside his own heart’.
Yes, I’m a bit of a hopeless romantic, but the dark side is my comfort zone. I have always been drawn to the horrors of what human beings are capable of, as well as the supernatural. I have come to accept it and learned to embrace it.
As we head into 2021, my path leads me into the shadows. I hope you’ll join me.
Where is your natural ‘home’ as a writer? Do you plan on writing in a different genre this year? Have you experimented with other genres, only to return where you’re the most comfortable?
This year has been a tough one for many of us, myself included, although I have been more fortunate than others. As a result, my writing has pulled me in different directions and there have been times (including just recently) when I wondered if I should give it up completely. This also included blogging.
I have been blogging for eleven years (that’s some milestone right there!) and throughout that time, I have met some lovely people around the world, built up a small community, and continue even now, to get followers.
With other forms of social media (and people can sometimes forget that blogging is a form of social media), there is only so much that can be said. As a writer, blogging is a form of creative expression and outside of writing my stories, blogging gives me the freedom to express myself to others. I feel comfortable doing it and I enjoy it. So, in the end, I have decided to stick with it.
When I began blogging, I had set out to make it part of my writing journey. It helped me write to deadlines, focus on my topic, and meet other writers. Lately, I’ve been hearing that blogging is ‘dead’, but that has been said for many years now, and yet blogging continues. Without blogs, I would never have read articles that would help me with my craft and learn how to be an indie author. I would also never have known about online courses and seminars that I have learned so much from. Without blogging, I may never have progressed as far as I have done. Without blogging, I may never have had author interviews or receive book reviews. I owe blogging and the blogging community so much!
Having said that, for some time, I was against the idea of doing a newsletter. It sounded so much like blogging and would only be another thing to add to my ‘to do’ list. However, after learning more about newsletters, I have recently caved. I am currently working on creating a newsletter and plan to have my sign up form up and running in January 2021. I’ll keep you posted!
As a result, this blog will be an extension of the newsletter and vice versa. Also, I will be blogging less – about once a month, although there may be other posts appearing from time to time.
This is just another step in my writing journey. I hope you’ll come with me! 😉
May I take this opportunity to wish you all a Merry Christmas and best wishes for the new year. Let’s hope that 2021 has better things in store for all of us. Stay safe!
And don’t forget, First Christmas is available on Amazon. What’s a shameless plug between friends? 😉
My recent book of short stories, ‘First Christmas’ is out! In fact, with all the goings-on around its release, I failed to mention it on the blog. I think that officially puts me on the naughty list!
‘First Christmas’ has been out for three weeks now and I’d like to thank those of you who pre-ordered or have bought a copy since. I really do appreciate it.
Shortly after its release, and out of curiosity, I snuck a peek at the US Amazon site. ‘First Christmas’ made the Top 100 in the ’30-minute Romance Short Reads’ Category. I had no idea such a thing existed, but I’ll take it! It certainly looked out of place among all those ‘naughty housewives’ though! 😉
Here’s the blurb: –
Christmas spirit comes in the most unexpected ways.
In 1916, young newlywed, Caroline Owens spends her first Christmas alone. Or is she?
Shy nurse, Linda Graham, struggles with a tragic loss. Can a ghost help restore her broken heart?
November is an important month for me, but this year, it is even more special. This month marks my one-year anniversary of being self-published!
It’s hard to believe a year has gone by already, and what a year it’s been (hello, 2020). When I first hit that ‘publish’ button, I thought I knew what I was in for. I had spent years reading up on self-publishing, but it wasn’t until I actually began my journey that I found there was still so much to learn. The best way to learn about anything is by doing!
Here are the biggest take-aways I have learned these past twelve months: –
Learn from our mistakes and be prepared to experiment
In some respects, I’m fortunate that I began self-publishing without a big bang. There have been plenty of highs and lows, and yes, I’ve made some mistakes, but we learn from them and try to do things better. It also helps to keep a bit of an open mind and experiment. It’s a matter of learning what works and what doesn’t.
Keep Finding Your Audience
Not everyone is going to like what you do, and that’s okay. We all have different tastes. We just need to find ways of locating our audience – they’re out there somewhere! You just need to keep rolling up your sleeves and put in the work.
Do What is Right for YOU
There is a lot of advice out there about the ‘best’ way to self-publish, but what works for one author won’t necessarily work for you. Some authors can do a ‘rapid release’ and produce quality work, but some may be like me and be in the ‘slow and steady’ camp. Neither one is right or wrong, you just need to do what fits with your personality.
Everyone’s journey is different
Having said that, it’s so easy to compare yourself to others. I’ve been doing this long before I hit that publish button and it still hasn’t changed. Whenever I compare myself to others, I take a step back and focus on my own writing and genre. I look at what I have accomplished so far and what I need to do to achieve my next goal. The writing journey is a marathon, not a sprint. Just keep moving forward one day at a time.
Love Your Network
I don’t think I would have got this far without my existing network. Apart from my husband, my support team has been entirely on-line. The writing community has been wonderful in their support, both for craft and morally. They have provided publicity for me, so I can reach readers that I would never have had access to, nor even considered. Cherish these people and reciprocate!
Fellow writers, what have you learned this year on your writing journey? If you’re self-published, what was your biggest take-away during your first year? Has COVID-19 made you reassess your outlook and/or your goals?
Hi everyone! I’ve had another author interview, this time with a Halloween theme.
This week I speak to fellow RWA member, and author/blogger Davina Stone. It’s a short, fun interview, with myself and two other authors of paranormal romance. I talk about my inspiration, my upcoming release, and a Halloween party guest of honour. Many thanks to Davina for letting me be a guest on her blog!
I have been writing for years, and it wasn’t until late 2019 that I became an indie author. Despite this, I did not really see myself as a working writer until only a few short months ago.
I could never understand those television shows where authors go about solving crimes, yet somehow manage to write books and be successful authors. To me, the term ‘working writer’ is someone glued to their chair doing a lot of writing with an assortment of pens and papers scattered around their desk. What I like to call ‘an organised mess’.
To me, a working writer is also someone who takes their writing seriously, are prepared to be in it for the long haul, learn new things (as well as from their mistakes), and adapt to change. Sometimes we can be doing all these things, but what is really required is a shift in our mindset.
When I released my two books of short stories in 2019, I put them out into the world with little fanfare. These were stories I had been holding onto for a number of years, so when I pressed ‘publish’, it was with a great deal of relief (and a lot of trepidation) that the job was finally done.
Recently, as I have been working on the release of my next book, my mindset has changed. Within the first six months as an indie author, I managed to learn more about the business – don’t we learn more by doing? I have learned from past mistakes and this time I am trying a different approach, and I’m sure I will try different ways of doing things with each book.
Looking back, despite having some knowledge of indie publishing, I was a bit naïve. I need to work harder and smarter if I want to be successful in this business, and I do! With that shift in mindset, I now see myself as a working writer.
This is something you will never see on these shows because it makes for boring television! 😉
Do you see yourself as a working writer? What do you think it looks like? Have you had a change in mindset and how has it worked for you? Are you an aspiring author or a hobbyist?
The purpose of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group is to share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds.
Recently, I was prompted to revisit the film ‘Seven’. I have not watched the film in years, so had therefore forgotten how good it is.
After the opening credits with a nod to Nine Inch Nails, we are quickly introduced to the jaded Lieutenant Somerset (Morgan Freeman) and ambitious Detective Miller (Brad Pitt). The film is set in an unknown city, a place where Miller wanted to transfer to, surprising Somerset and perhaps also, the audience. The city is portrayed as a dark, miserable place full of crime and drug users. Miller and his wife (Gwyneth Paltrow) having recently moved to the city, live in an apartment where trains pass and rattle their living quarters whenever they go by. The local library is seen as the only redeeming feature within the city, a place where Somerset is a frequent visitor.
The film is certainly gruesome as the killer works his way through the seven deadly sins; gluttony and sloth, in particular. It is not just the imagery of the victims themselves, but also what we learn the killer does to them, that adds to the horror and the tension.
I don’t want to give anything away in case anyone has not seen the film, but the killer (Kevin Spacey) is patient and methodical, and as Somerset points out ‘he’s not the devil, he’s just a man.’
In the final scene, where we really get to see the killer, known as John Doe, we are taken out of the city to a remote desert location. It is here, where both detectives and the viewer are transported into the unknown, that culminates into a memorable gut-wrenching scene, making John Doe a notorious on-screen villain.
What I’ve been watching this past month: –
John Wayne Gacy: Killer Clown’s Revenge (Foxtel)
I’ve always been fascinated by serial killers and John Wayne Gacy has always been high on my list. This show is in four parts, covering his childhood all the way to his arrest. It was interesting to hear tape extracts of Gacy’s interviews, as well as hearing from detectives on the case. Although the narrator’s voice and the occasional ‘clown laugh’ irritated me, I found this compelling viewing.
The Dark Crystal – Age of Resistance (Netflix)
I admit to having watched this show before; in fact, this is my third viewing. I enjoy the plot, the characters, and the little snippets of humour. I never tire of the sheer magic of the puppetry and set designs, that there are moments I get so caught up in it, I forget I’m watching puppets. I’m really looking forward to the second season (and hope there will continue to be one).
What have you been watching? Have you been preparing yourself for Halloween? Have you revisited some favourites lately?
This week is the second part of the list of songs I’ve compiled that we listened to in 1984. If you’re interested in seeing the Top 10 songs, you can find them at Rolling Stone.
In 1984, Red Hot Chili Peppers made their debut, Michael Jackson received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and Madonna sparked controversy with her performance of ‘Like a Virgin’ onstage during the MTV Music Video Awards.
Relax – Frankie Goes to Hollywood
Controversial on its release, it went on to top the UK singles chart, selling 2 million copies in the UK alone. It became one of the most commercially successful songs of the decade.
Footloose – Kenny Loggins
This was one of many movie soundtracks released during 1984. Kevin Bacon looks so cute, and his VW beetle looks eerily familiar to my very first car. 😉
Take on Me – A-ha
This song became an international No.1 hit, and the music video was ahead of its time, winning six awards at the MTV video awards in 1986. It is considered to be the band’s signature song.
When the Doves Cry – Prince
It would be remiss of me to compile a list of songs of 1984, without mentioning the No.1 song of the year. It featured in the film ‘Purple Rain’ and in later years would go on to enter The Rock and Roll’s Hall of Fame.
Thriller – Michael Jackson
I wasn’t a big fan of Michael Jackson, but he sure knew how to dance as shown in this video. The man was practically liquid! Although a long clip (this is the shorter version), it showcased his many talents. I think it was also one of his best songs, and with a cemetery, zombies, and the wonderful Vincent Price, what’s not to love? 😉
What song/songs define the 1980s to you? Do you enjoy listening to movie soundtracks? Was there a song/artist from the 80s you didn’t like, but you’ve since changed your mind?