What is Your Word for 2023?

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I’m not usually one for coming up with a word that describes my plans for the year ahead, but before Christmas last year, I encountered one that I felt was very appropriate.

I’m a big lover of music, and as I was searching through Youtube, I encountered Adieu, the latest release from Rammstein. The video is amazing, and after a couple of listens, it quickly became an earworm. I read the English translation of the lyrics, and the song is really quite sad. I interpret the video to be about new beginnings; that in order to move forward, we must let go of the past. It has gone on to become one of my favourites of theirs (and yes, I’m finding myself going down a rabbit hole).

In 2023, I’m bidding adieu to my Marsden Hall series of novellas, (the final book, House of Echoes, will be released on 22 February). I will also be bidding adieu to a couple of writing projects I have been sitting on for a while, but this will also be a new beginning of sorts, too (so it works both ways). I’ll be saying adieu to a few personal issues as well, that have been holding me back for years, as I feel now is the time to move on.

I believe that some things happen in our lives at exactly the right time, and I feel the timing of this song is one of them. It’s given me momentum to keep moving forward. After the events of the past twelve months, I’m feeling more hopeful of the future. I’m looking forward to new beginnings.

Do you have a word you use to describe your plans for 2023? Is listening to music a motivator for your writing? Are you letting go of something that’s holding you back?

Celebrating Three Years as an Indie Author.

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Happy new year! I hope you’re well rested and making plans for 2023.

I admit 2022 was not one of my best years. I had ongoing health issues which hampered my writing efforts. Despite that, though, it gave me time to reflect on what I considered important in my life; writing being one of them.

Before I self-published three years ago, I read that once I hit that “publish” button, my life would change. In some respects, it did. I had more work to do, and like blogging, I had readers to satisfy. The trouble was, I managed to get caught in the belief that to be successful, I needed to write fast. Add on the “fear of missing out,” and worrying about things out of my control, what once gave me pleasure, I soon began to dread. I even considered chucking it all in.

Thankfully, I managed to persevere, believing that my health issues were an opportunity for me to slow down (the slow and steady route has always been my preferred  option, anyway). I continued to take a step back from all the noise of social media and have come to realise the three most important things when it comes to indie publishing: –

  1. Focus on your product
  2. Do what is comfortable for you, and
  3. Enjoy the process.

Indie publishing is a lot of work, and we can get so caught up in all the rush we forget why we’re doing this in the first place. Sometimes we need to reassess and take the time to appreciate how far we’ve come.

My husband recently told me to think about my personal satisfaction. Knowing I have created something I am proud of, and that readers enjoy, makes it all worth-while.

If you’re an indie author, have you been overwhelmed, or do you prefer to do it your own way? If you’re not published, which option are you considering – traditional, indie, or both?

Do You Fall Behind Or Catch Up on Your Writing Goals Over Christmas?

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We’ve made it to December, and it’s the final post for the IWSG for the year.

The question for this month is quite poignant. Usually, over Christmas, I fall behind, but I’ve been behind in my writing goals all year. I have been suffering from chronic pain and fatigue since late 2021, which threw my writing goals into disarray. Then, in the middle of NaNoWriMo, I had to abandon the challenge, as my town was hit by the recent floods, and my father-in-law’s house was affected (thankfully, he’s okay and is back home). Basically, it has been almost impossible to make plans for anything, let alone, writing.

So, this Christmas, I’ll be playing catch up with my writing goals. It’s a good thing I already adhere to the ‘slow and steady’ approach!

I have a few seasons of ‘Supernatural’ to catch up on as well. 😉

The final novella in my Marsden Hall series, House of Echoes, is with my editor, which means I can now start work on something new – only I’m still trying to figure out exactly what that will be (yep, squirrel). 😉

Christmas is also a time to reassess my writing goals and figure out what I’m comfortable with when it comes to both writing and marketing. If these past twelve months have taught me anything, it’s to go at my own pace; I’m in this for the long haul.

Happy Christmas everyone and best wishes for the new year. Wishing you lots of writing successes in 2023!

Do you fall behind or catch up on your writing goals over Christmas? Are you happy to go at your own pace when it comes to writing?

Writers: Have You Ever Participated in NaNoWriMo?

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Recently, I had been working on the edits for a couple of projects and planning what to write next when this month’s question for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group appeared. It was certainly good timing, and I thank the group for the question, because I had forgotten all about NaNoWriMo. In fact, when I visited the site, I was shocked to discover I hadn’t participated in six years!

I’ve participated in NaNoWriMo about three times in the past, making it over the finish line of 50k twice. I can honestly say that both times, those ‘successes’ were both steaming excrements, and I have not revisited either of them. Having said that though, they were both learning experiences. I learned that for me, at least, when it comes to writing novels (or even novellas for that matter), I need to have an outline.

So, why has it been so long since I participated?

I’m not sure if it is just me, but each time I participated in NaNoWriMo, I would get bad headaches. Maybe it was the stress of pushing myself to reach a certain word count every day, or other factors, like the computer screen, or needing to get my eyes tested. This time, though, I’m prepared: I have a new computer with a bigger screen, and I’ve been wearing reading glasses for some years now (the joys of getting older). I’m devoting the entire month of November towards this project, as well as trying to meet a deadline for my editor. At least now, I have an excuse to binge on Netflix! 😉

In the past, I always worked on something new, but this time I’ll be doing something different by writing a new draft of an existing project. Don’t worry, I won’t be cheating, as this project is in dire need of a re-write (it hasn’t been touched for some years). But by doing this, my outline is already there after a few tweaks, and my world and characters are a bit more fleshed out. I usually work linear as well, but in NaNoWriMo you don’t have to, which is a great help in getting those words down. Because this project has been bubbling away for some time, I’m keen to get started.

If you’re participating this year, let me know, the more the merrier. I wish you the best of luck! Let’s cheer each other on!

Are you participating in NaNoWriMo this month? Have you worked on your novel after NaNoWriMo? Are you a plotter or a panster, or somewhere in-between?

Writing with Chronic Pain.

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When it comes to my writing this year, I began with optimism; I had another novella to write, and I was full of new ideas. Of-course, life doesn’t always go according to plan, and as the year went on, I found myself facing my biggest challenge yet.

The previous year (2021), I had taken a couple of falls, landing on alternate knees, causing injury, but thankfully no broken bones. Normally a healthy person, this was frustrating, but I managed. However, it was not until the end of the year that another health problem arose.

As the months passed, pain in my legs and lower back intensified. I had trouble sleeping and went to ‘bed’ on the lounge. To make matters worse, our family doctor of twenty years eventually retired, leaving me anxious and receiving three different diagnoses from three different doctors. Eventually, when at my lowest ebb, things worked out and in early July, I finally received my diagnosis. Sacroiliac joint pain – inflammation in my lower back, pelvis, and thighs. Yep, when I get sick, I make sure I do it properly!

Although I could go the quicker route to recovery by having a cortisone injection in my back, I’ve decided to go the slower route (an injection some months earlier in my left hip left me with a bad experience and I swore I’d never go through it again). Now, I have the right dosage with my medication, I am regularly seeing a chiropractor, and having regular acupuncture and massage. Some days are better than others, and after sleeping on the lounge for three months, I am now back in my bed again! 🙂

Throughout all of this, I naturally backed away a bit from social media, and as you’d expect, my writing has been seriously impacted. I have always been a slow writer, and living with chronic pain has made me accept that it’s part of my writing process.

I’m normally not one to talk about such personal issues, but I mention it to demonstrate that setbacks do happen; nobody knows what’s going on behind the scenes in a writer’s life. Not everyone can write fast, whether it’s through circumstances and/or their genetic makeup. You shouldn’t have to feel like a ‘failure’ if you don’t (and I’ve been there too many times to count). If you can write fast, that’s great, too! Everyone is different. It’s okay to write at your own pace, you shouldn’t have to feel shame either way.

Right now I’m on the slow road to recovery, and that also means the slow road when it comes to writing. We all have our own paths. Unfortunately, it can sometimes take dramatic changes in our lives to come to terms with it.

Has 2022 turned out differently to what you had planned? Have you come to accept your own writing process? Have you ever felt pressured to write faster?

Creating Your own Writing Retreat.

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Recently, I spent several days in the Blue Mountains, a location that inspires some of my stories. Rather than splash out at attending writing retreats specifically tailored for writers, I create my own.

I’ve been doing this for some years now, which initially started with me going it alone, but these days, now that the kids are older, it’s whenever my husband and I go away. I’m now in the habit of packing my laptop and writing notes with me, so I can continue writing and gaze out the window admiring the different scenery.

The past three trips away, I’ve worked on the first two novellas in my Marsden Hall series in their various incarnations. I’ve thought about plot outlines while soaking in an outdoors hot tub, edited by the beach, as well as editing while being snowed in in a log cabin.

This is not to say that I won’t knock back the opportunity to go on a writing retreat to meet other writers if ever I get the chance (I was lucky to have been chosen to participate in one back in 2009), but it’s having that control of where and when I choose to write. Being alone or with one other person, also allows me to focus and not be too distracted by others.

New places and experiences are always great fodder for stories. We may look forward to a bit of R&R, but then, a writer never truly switches off! 😉

*And the good news is, the first draft of Marsden Hall 3 is done!! Watch this space!*

Do you create your own writing retreats, or have you ever been on a professional one? Have you found them beneficial? What’s your idea of an ideal writing retreat?

Silence is Golden.

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Seeing in a new year always brings with it a clean slate and endless possibilities. For 2022, I’ve been making plans for my next writing projects, as well as my publishing plans for the year. So far, I feel as if I am starting from scratch and therefore, willing to try something new.

Last year, I wrote about the struggles I was experiencing and how persistence matters when it comes to writing. I had reached a point where I gave serious consideration to giving up writing altogether, as I was no longer getting any pleasure from it. I was in a dark place, but then, given the nature of what I write, I needed to be. While writing my novella, The Stranger Within, I needed to stay there.

A beta reader once told me to ‘go darker.’ I can do that!

I wanted the novella published before the end of 2021, so I had a deadline to meet as well. I made it, but by the end, I was mentally and physically exhausted. That year, I had two falls, causing injury to both knees, as well as the anxiety over COVID-19 and going through lockdowns. I had also lost my spark for writing and needed to find it again. What I needed was a break!

For 2022, I have made the decision to spend less time on social media, specifically Facebook and Instagram. For me, this is where a large part of the ‘comparisonitis’ comes from (and I’m sure you’ve all heard the stories the effects these networks can have on young girls, especially). Besides, being an introvert, I am much more comfortable blogging and writing newsletters.

It’s only early days, but so far, I believe I have made the right decision. I have taken the time to relax, read, plan my writing projects for the year, and come up with a business plan. I’ve even given my desk a long overdue clean out!

Perhaps this may lead to a more permanent arrangement. 😉

What plans do you have for 2022? What changes are you making to help reach your goals this year?

Goodbye 2021 – A Year I’d Rather Forget.

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Another year is almost over and it’s beginning to look like we’re stuck in a perpetual time loop. It’s been another crap year with lockdowns, COVID-19 in its various incarnations, and I’ve had two falls injuring both knees, which I am only now slowly beginning to recover from. After all this, it’s not easy to end the year on a cheerful note and stop being a ‘Debbie Downer!’

To be honest with you, I’ve become physically and emotionally drained, and I’m sure I’m not the only one! 2021 has been a very long, exhausting year, a year where I have really had to push myself to get any writing done, finding my motivation somewhat lacking (and that’s another post in itself). But having said that, I did manage to publish two novellas, so it’s not all bad! 😉

If nothing else, COVID-19 has revealed what’s important in life, which for me is my health, family, and writing. After having read The Relaxed Author by Joanna Penn and Mark Leslie Lefebvre, I believe that as an indie author, the writing is the main thing, and that there is nothing wrong with taking the slow and steady approach.

I feel this way every time I publish!

It’s also been a time to take a step back, analyse, and enjoy the little things. Going out to be amongst nature can be beneficial both physically and mentally. Ever since I was a kid, this has always been my ‘escape,’ and the opportunity to let my imagination run wild.

The epidemic, so far, has taught me not to take anything for granted and to take one day at a time. The future is unpredictable, but it has always been that way. We learn to adapt. The new year brings with it new opportunities and a chance to start afresh.

I hope you have a happy Christmas, and a safe and healthy new year! Here’s to new beginnings!

What things have you done to cope during 2021? Do you have any big plans for the new year, or do you intend to take things one day at a time?

The Writing Journey: Persistence Matters.

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In November of 2019, I self-published my first short story. Since then, I have published two more short stories and recently published my first novella, the first in a series. I have learned a few things along the way, and being an author is an occupation where you are always learning. But I think one of the biggest things I’ve learnt is that indie publishing is not for the faint of heart.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m one of the most determined and obstinate people you will ever find (just ask my husband), but one of my biggest weaknesses is comparing myself to others. I’ve been telling myself (and you here on this blog), that everyone’s writing journey is different, and this is my way to remind myself of this reality. In her book Dear Writer, You Need to Quit, Becca Syme has an entire chapter on the subject – ‘Quit Trying to Be Like Everyone Else.’ It’s good to know that there are other people out there who feel the same way I do. Even though my husband has been telling me this for years, I guess I needed to also hear it from others.

However, back in September 2020, things started to fall down around me. Despite being in a network of other writers, I felt alone. Even though they are lovely people whom I’m happy to have as writing friends, it began to dawn on me that they were not my ‘tribe.’ What I write does not necessarily gel with theirs. I started to pull away and even though I published another book of short stories a couple of months later, I began to go through one of the longest bouts of depression I have ever experienced.

Throughout this period and into a new year, I spent months setting up and sending out newsletters, and preparing my first Gothic novella for publication. I wondered what the point was because nobody cared, no-one was interested. I felt like a complete failure, but I persisted. As recently as April, a month before publication, my husband told me that if I wasn’t enjoying it anymore, then don’t do it. Do something else. I couldn’t stop because writing is all I’ve ever wanted to do. ‘This is me,’ I told him. ‘This is who I am.’ He just didn’t get it.

I like to keep this quote on my desk as a constant reminder.

It was also around this time, that something started to happen, a kind of shift. A fellow writer put me onto David Gaughran’s course ‘Starting from Zero.’ As I prepared my next book for its release, I began to use what he taught me. Shortly after release, a Facebook friend sent me a request to join a group for indie horror writers. From that group, I was asked to participate in a competition for Gothic writers, as well as join a group for Gothic readers (which also included writers). I had finally found my ‘tribe.’

Together, these two incidents, helped make the launch of The Curse of Marsden Hall, my most successful. It reached as high as No.4 in one of its categories on Amazon Australia and was one of its ‘hot new releases.’ This then helped one of my other short stories, First Christmas, reach No.2 (yes, you read that right) in one of its categories on Amazon Australia.

A rare moment of seeing two of my books side by side in the Top 20.

Of-course such a high is short lived and it was a good couple of weeks while it lasted, but it gives me hope that maybe – just maybe – things might be starting to change on my writing journey.

For eight months I struggled with self-doubt and depression, but it was also a journey of self-discovery. I’ve learned who I am as a writer, both in my genre and my process. I’ve come to the conclusion, that although I may not become a big name, what’s important for me is the writing itself, and making my readers happy. Who knows, I might become an ‘overnight success’ by the time I’ve published my 20th book! 😉

Yes, I’ll continue to doubt myself and make mistakes along the way, but I’ve managed to overcome this hurdle. Persistence (and a healthy dose of stubbornness) pays off.

Being an indie author is hard work but there’s no point in worrying about things out of your control. Keep showing up and put yourself out there. Have fun, and love what you do!

It’s been some months since I last posted about writing and my writing journey (and reading this post, you’ll understand why). This hasn’t been an easy post for me to write, but I do so because I prefer to be honest with you and maybe help others who are struggling with their own writing journey.

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‘The Curse of Marsden Hall’ is Now Available!

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The day has finally arrived! My novella, The Curse of Marsden Hall, is now available!

Many thanks to those of you who pre-ordered a copy. I really appreciate it! 🙂 Your support means so much to me. It’s nerve-wracking releasing a book into the world, but knowing that my stories are being read (and enjoyed) is what keeps me going.

Here is the blurb:-

Some things are better left alone.

Australia, 1875.

Successful businessman, Richard Marsden, is going to marry his sweetheart and has built the house of his dreams. Despite the scenic location, Richard’s house in the Wolfrose Mountains sits on land with a chequered past, one full of violence, witchcraft, and murder. He does not believe in curses or superstition.

When something unexpected happens, he wonders if the land he built on is indeed cursed and begins to question his own sanity.

Meanwhile, someone or something is watching… waiting.

Get your copy here!

It is available through Amazon for only $1.20AU ($0.93US).

Thank you for your support and have a lovely weekend! xx

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