IWSG, This Writer's Life, Writing Process

IWSG: Writing in Obscurity.

Last year, I finally ventured into the world of indie publishing. I had read that writers should make the most of their time before publication and this worried me, for I am not comfortable with change. The biggest change has been the need for a shift in mindset, for now, I am running a business, which is a steep learning curve. Otherwise, I remain a small fish in a big pond.

It is now six months since I took that giant leap. My sales may be low, and although disappointing, I am not overly concerned. I never expected anything different. Right now, I am being realistic, knowing that I am only getting started and that I have a long road ahead of me. I am in this game for the long haul.

Of course, one hears stories of debut authors ‘making waves’, which is great as it gives the rest of us hope, but it also gives us pause for thought. We need to keep in mind that when it comes to writing, everyone’s road is different.

Keeping with that analogy, I haven’t made a ‘big splash’, but I am truly grateful for it. I continue to work in small steps, building up a body of work as well as my platform. I still feel, very much, within my comfort zone, knowing that some things take time. Like writing in general, being an indie author is a learning experience. I’m planning to make the most of it.

This is not to say that some good, and quite unexpected changes haven’t happened. 😉

In February, I decided to try the Kindle Unlimited program. My biggest takeaway from the entire ninety days? My short story, The Ghost at Willow Creek, made the Amazon Top 10 Bestseller list in Australia.

Last month after an awful lot of apprehension, I stepped out of my comfort zone once more and created a Facebook author page. I felt like a pretentious fraud. After all, who am I, and why would anyone be interested? I was pleasantly surprised to watch the numbers go up as people began to like and follow my page, and in a matter of weeks, I have come close to one hundred followers.

It was around this time that I received another pleasant surprise, which completely floored me. I received a request from a fellow blogger for an interview. Soon, I will be having my very first author interview, so watch this space!

I have been experiencing a lot of insecurities these past few months. Stepping out of our comfort zones is not without its challenges, but it also comes with some satisfying results.

Are you happy being a small fish in a big pond as an indie author? Have you had some pleasant surprises when you began self-publishing? What insecurities have you been experiencing lately?

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.

Main image courtesy Pixabay

Legacy & Other Short Stories, This Writer's Life

Calling Yourself a Writer & Book News.

Sometimes, when I peruse social media, I encounter people who call themselves ‘aspiring’ writers. I have never referred to myself as an ‘aspiring’ writer. If you write, you simply are a writer.

But I get it though because it was only in recent years that I called myself a writer. I’m finally admitting to myself and to others that I write. It’s taken a long time to own up to it. It was just that I was too insecure to admit it. After years of being mocked or derided for creating stories (yeah, let’s not go there), I quickly learned to keep quiet about it and keep it all to myself. It was safer that way, ensuring that my dreams and my stories remained intact.

Perhaps, what these fellow writers really mean when they say ‘aspiring’ is calling themselves author. Now, that, I can understand. Sometimes, I feel I don’t wish to call myself an author until I have a published novel, as I guess it sounds more ‘authentic’ that way. Maybe it’s a matter of whatever term we feel comfortable with. And that’s what really matters. 😉

* * * * *

Speaking of being comfortable, I was recently thrown out of my comfort zone in a very unexpected way. This was such a surreal moment I couldn’t believe it happened!

My short story The Ghost at Willow Creek made it into the Top Ten Best Seller List on Amazon in Australia over the weekend.

*picks self up off the floor*

Good thing I decided to take a screenshot for prosperity! 😉

Does this make me a ‘best-selling author’ now? 😉

In other news, Legacy and Other Short Stories is now available as an eBook through Kindle Unlimited. It will be available for FREE from 10-14 February 2020 in Australia, as well as other countries, including the United States and the United Kingdom.

Jonathan befriends the new boy in class, but Jonathan has something sinister in mind.

A young boy tests his skills to continue his father’s legacy; a young woman goes to great lengths after a betrayal; a woman confronts her stalker. These stories, along with those of obsession and revenge, explore the dark side of human nature.

‘Quirky tales that will stay with you after you’ve closed the book.’
– Amazon review.

* * * * *

When did you call yourself a writer or are you still struggling to call yourself that? Do you prefer to call yourself an author or you don’t think either term really matters?

Main image courtesy of Unsplash

This Writer's Life, Writing

2019: Stepping Out of the Comfort Zone.

Usually, at this time of year, I look back at the year that was and think about all the things I could have done differently; namely, getting published. This year, however, I look back at 2019 a bit differently. 2019 was a year I decided to step out of my comfort zone and finally swallow some of those insecurities.

This is what I did: –

  • I had my short stories professionally edited. My editor loved my stories, saying she would be happy to work with me again and wants to know if I’m writing any novels. 😊
  • Re-joined the Insecure Writer’s Support Group.
  • Prepared short stories for publication, including contacting professional cover designers, and setting up an account with Amazon.
  • Attended a local readers and writer’s festival.
  • Entered a short story competition with the Romance Writers of Australia. Although I didn’t win, I did get some great feedback.
  • Enrolled in five – yes, five! – online writing courses.
  • I became an indie author, by publishing a short story and a collection of short stories.

Yes, that last one makes me look back at the year and I feel happy knowing that I finally did it!

Pressing that ‘publish’ button for the first time was more difficult that pressing it for the second time, but I’m feeling greatly relieved at having accomplished that. Now, however, is the ongoing battle of ‘discoverability’ and marketing, but that’s a whole lot of new insecurities and a completely different post right there! 😉

I’ve already made plans and begun working on, my upcoming projects for the new year, so there’s plenty to write and re-write!

Yep, all year round!

Of-course, I wouldn’t have got this far without the continual love and support from my husband and the online writing community. I can’t thank you all enough!

I’ll be taking a break from blogging over the next few weeks and return on 8 January 2020, posting for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group.

I wish you all a Happy Christmas and best wishes for the New Year. Stay safe!

Did you step out of your comfort zone in 2019? Is there anything you would have done differently this year? Do you have any big plans for 2020?

Main image courtesy Pixabay

IWSG, This Writer's Life

IWSG: Attending a Writers Festival.

Back in April, I mentioned that I could not afford to attend this year’s RWA conference in Melbourne. In retrospect, this turned out to be the right decision, as I had not attended a writer function in at least three years, so I needed to start with something on a much smaller scale.

Over the weekend, I attended a local writers festival, organised by my local library. There were five authors who came to speak about their books and writing, one of whom I had met ten years ago. In 2009, I was one of six successful candidates to attend the Write Around the Murray Festival, including a writer’s workshop with author and Associate Professor at the University of Technology, Debra Adelaide.

I introduced myself and our talk was brief under the circumstances. She told me my hair was a different colour to what it was back then, which I found to be an interesting anecdote. I mean, she didn’t remember my dazzling prose?!

It wasn’t until lunchtime, when I had mingled with other people, trying to make conversation, where I really began to feel insecure. After having been locked away in my writing cave for some years, with only social media my ‘go-to’ when it comes to socialising, I was definitely out of my comfort zone. I sat there, alone, wondering why I was there, but the answer was all around me. I was there to meet and listen to other writers and be with other people with the same or similar interests.

So, what did I learn from attending my first writers festival in three years?

• After ten years, I am still writing; it is something that I cannot be without.
• I believe my writing is better than it was ten years ago, even though back then it was good enough for me to win a competition.
• My passion for writing is what helped me to get out of my comfort zone, despite my insecurities.
• Mixing with other writers has given me the confidence to keep going and believe in my capabilities.
• Self-publishing/indie-publishing is the right path for me to take.
• When it comes to meeting other writers, I really need to get out more!
• Maybe I shouldn’t change my hair colour quite so often. 😉

What have you done recently to get out of your ‘writing cave’? Do you feel awkward in social situations? When was the last time you attended a writers festival?

Side Note: In the next few months I’ll be spending less time blogging to spend more time writing. As well as getting more writing projects done, I will also be focusing my efforts on self-publishing. I will continue to post for the IWSG, but otherwise, posts may be on a fortnightly basis. Thanks for your understanding and I hope you will stick with me. 🙂

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.

Main image courtesy of Unsplash

IWSG, Writing Process

IWSG: Working With an Editor.

This month for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, I thought I’d talk about doing something I have been putting off for a long time because of my doubts and fears.

This year, in an effort to step out of my comfort zone, I am looking at self-publishing. It’s a huge undertaking, but I’m gradually working my way towards that ultimate goal (I guess you could say I’m being overly cautious). One of those steps I undertook recently was working with an editor.

The first thing I needed to do was to find one and this demonstrated one of the advantages of social media. I asked for recommendations on Facebook and I received a number of replies, including both recommendations and others offering their services. I went through them all and eventually settled on one once I received a sample edit and seeing that their price was reasonable.

Giving my work out to a professional editor made me nervous for a number of reasons: – I was allowing someone other than my beta readers to read my work, and a professional may confirm my belief that I might not be very good at this.

As they are short stories, she emailed each one back to me once she had finished and I was pleasantly surprised with some of the comments I received. Such comments included ‘I liked this one’, ‘you have such a knack for horror’ and ‘what a beautiful story – loved it’. High praise from a well-known Australian romance author, so yeah, I’ll take it! 😉 She said she loved my work and would be happy to work with me again. She also hoped that I was writing a long book and encouraged me to keep writing.

I discovered that editors are there to help you to improve your own editing skills and make your writing stronger, even though it may take some time to find the right one. It also goes to show that sometimes our fears can be misguided, that the old saying is true:- ‘there is nothing to fear but fear itself’.

Have you been fortunate with your choice of editor? Did it take you a while to find one? Are you looking at self-publishing? Do you have any big plans for your writing this year?

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.

Main image courtesy of Pixabay

IWSG, This Writer's Life

IWSG: Withdrawing from a Conference.

This post is my first in a return to the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. It’s been a while, but I look forward to reacquainting myself with some old friends and making new ones. 🙂

The Romance Writers of Australia (RWA) hold a conference every year and this year it will be held in Melbourne. In my efforts to make 2019 a year to step out of my comfort zone, I made arrangements to attend my first ever RWA conference. I had the accommodation all booked and when the programme came out, I looked to see what seminars held the most appeal. The only trouble was I hit a snag.

I want to make it clear that this is not in any way being critical of RWA; I have been a member for almost a year now and they have been one of the best organisations I have encountered. The problem was mine; the more I learned about the conference, the more I realised I could not afford to go.

I guess you could say I’m a struggling writer; that person living frugally as they pen their works. I have read a few blog articles from different sources of late that suggests this scenario is just a myth. I don’t know how they came up with that idea, but speaking from experience, the struggling writer still exists. Being a one income family and raising two kids, it’s not exactly easy.

When telling some fellow writers that I have had to withdraw from attending the conference, they have been very helpful and understanding. It was suggested that I could attend local author talks or other conferences closer to home. These don’t have to be in my genre, just as long as I’m immersed in the joy of writing. Also setting myself another writing goal would be beneficial. It was a good reminder that there are plenty of other writing opportunities I could focus on.

I have stewed over my decision for weeks. I came close, but unfortunately, it is not to be. After having come this far and then having to cancel, I feel as though I have let myself down as well as others. I have met some lovely people online through RWA and I was really looking forward to actually meeting them, but unfortunately, it is not going to happen.

Stepping out of my comfort zone this year will not involve the RWA Conference. Instead, I will have to remain focused on my other goal, which is self-publishing. And that is my biggest challenge of all.

Have you ever had to back out of something you said you would do? How did that make you feel? Do you have plans to try something different this year? Have you stepped out of your comfort zone recently?

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.

Main image courtesy of Pixabay

Life Lessons, This Writer's Life

A Slow Start to 2019.

Happy New Year everyone! I hope you all had a good Christmas and relaxing break. I know mine has been so relaxing, I’m finding it difficult to get back into my writing (including blogging). 😉

Just before Christmas, my household had no internet (I know, great timing), and we went without it for about sixteen days. The kids weren’t quite climbing the walls, as they were aware of the issues. They managed to survive alright though! This is where I managed to relax and catch up on podcasts and watch some DVDs.

Just when I thought I could get back into writing once again, the temperatures began to rise, and I began to get sick. After a few days of abdominal pain, I spent some time in hospital, was told I was very dehydrated and had undergone a variety of tests. My health improved about a week later after taking some antibiotics.

The main take away from this experience was that sometimes life throws us some unexpected curve balls. We have to learn to adjust and be flexible (and in this case, I had to be more careful with my health). I had all my plans for the year worked out and ready to go, but I needed to take a step back for a little while. Now I’m getting back into it, slowly but surely. Which is also a very good reminder that when it comes to writing, it is a marathon, not a sprint.

I’ve tried to lower my expectations a bit this year, but as usual, I can’t resist making some big plans, such as losing weight, attending the RWA Australia conference in Melbourne and self-publishing. Sometimes having big plans can not only help us to stay motivated to achieve our goals, but also help us to get out of our comfort zones.

It’s hard to believe we are half way through January already! Let’s get moving! 🙂

Did you have a relaxing Christmas/New Year break? What are your plans for 2019?

Main image courtesy of Unsplash

Writing, Writing Process

5 Lessons Learned from Writing a Novel.

For some months now I have been busy re-writing an old novel I had written during NaNoWriMo back in 2015. The good news is I have finally finished writing it and at around 80k has become one of the longest pieces of writing I have ever done. It has certainly been a struggle for this short story writer!

During this entire process, there have been a few things that I have learned along the way.

1. Have a plan/outline

Previous experience has taught me that in order to finish a long writing project I need to have some kind of outline before I start. At the beginning of each chapter, I therefore wrote what I wanted to happen within that chapter in order to maintain my focus. It does not have to be a detailed outline for many pages that some writers are known to do; you may only need a couple of lines in order to get some sense of direction to move forward.

2. Listen to of your characters

Despite having some kind of plot outline, my characters would say and do things a little bit ‘off script’, sometimes making things better than I had originally imagined. This was great when it came to building my word count or to write again when I needed to take a break, however, this would also take me down the path of panster once again, meaning that I may never finish. When this happens, you may need to reassess what you want with what your character wants and take another look at your plot.

3. Use a timer and have a quota

Ever since I tried NaNoWriMo, I have been using a timer to help get the words written, otherwise my internal editor or perfectionist self can sneak in and it can take too long to get the words written down. Start with a quota that you find doable and gradually challenge yourself to go that little bit further. I began with a daily quota of 1,000 words and used a timer in order to get the words down faster. I would set a timer for 15 minutes and would average 500 words each session. As my 1000 word limit would be reached within half an hour, I then doubled my daily quota so that I wrote 2000 words in one hour. I then increased that to 4000 words a day, broken up into two separate hourly slots.

4. Aim to strike while the iron is hot

I returned to this old NaNoWriMo project because the idea still resonated with me. The more I thought about my characters and plot, the bigger the project had become. Sometimes new ideas may have to be placed on the back-burner if we are currently working on something, but the best time to begin writing a new project is while we are still brimming with enthusiasm, so make the most of such opportunities whenever possible.

5. Have a deadline and word limit.

Because my novel was becoming longer than I had anticipated, I needed to create some kind of deadline as well as consider my word limit, otherwise I would never finish. I had read that the average word limit for debut novels these days tend to be around 80k, so that’s what I aimed for (as well as taking my genre into account). Also I began to feel that the longer it took, my enthusiasm began to wane and I therefore needed a break. With a deadline and word limit in mind, it certainly helped to get the words written down faster.

One of my goals for this year was to step out of my comfort zone and by writing an 80k novel, I think I can safely say I’ve achieved that! It certainly has been a learning experience. 😉

Have you written your first novel and what advice would you give? How are you progressing with your writing goals? Have you stepped out of your comfort zone this year with your writing? Are you a plotter or a panster or somewhere in-between? Have you revisited an old NaNoWriMo project?

Main image courtesy of Unsplash

Life Lessons, Up Close & Personal, Writing

Are You Hiding Your Ambition?

hidden door

In another life, I spent close to ten years doing office work. Of-course looking back on it now it was more for the social aspect, rather than the work itself that I miss (the downside of the writers’ life is that it can be a lonely profession).

I was good at my job and within my first year at work, my supervisor saw my potential and I had progressed from typist to admin assistant. In later years I would go on to be head hunted by two managers and rather than accept the chance of promotion, I turned them both down. I was afraid of change and quite happy to stay in my ‘comfort zone’. When later asked what I wanted to do job wise within the office, I had no real answer.

One co-worker said something to me once that I have never forgotten: ‘You’re wasted in this place’. It wasn’t that I did not have the opportunities to progress; it’s just that I didn’t want to. I had no ambition to work my way up the corporate ladder. I had no intention of spending the rest of my life in an office job. And that’s exactly what it was – a job. I brought home some money every fortnight, which was great, but I was stuck doing something I didn’t want to do.

Office Motivation

It is the fortunate ones that manage to be in a job that they love. I have to admit that in the beginning of my employment years, I really enjoyed my job. I was learning something new all the time, yet in those last few years, things had become stale. I was bored; I wanted out.

One of the things that kept me sane was that throughout those years, I continued to write. On really slow days in the office, I would even bring some of my writing to work with me and work on a piece there (well, I guess technically speaking, I was working on something). I remained being creative for I was drawing as well as writing. I would share such pieces with close co-workers – one piece was read before I submitted it to a women’s magazine (and when I didn’t hear anything, I guess it was my first rejection).

Certainly back then I was much younger and had made mistakes, however, looking back on it all now, I managed to learn the following things:-

  1. Sometimes you really need to push yourself out of your comfort zone, and
  2. I wanted to be a writer above everything else.

Those years were not entirely wasted; I was practising my craft, doing writing courses via correspondence (those prehistoric days before the internet), and experimenting with writing in different genres. Back then, I clearly wasn’t ready to send my work out into the world, yet I knew that to have my work published was the ultimate goal. Sometimes what we long for can take a bit of time – after all, they do say good things come to those who wait.

Are you working towards your ‘dream job’ while working in another? Are you stuck in a job you don’t like? What do you do to get out of your ‘comfort zone’? Are you making the most of your time as a ‘pre-published’ author?

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