Life Lessons, This Writer's Life, Up Close & Personal, Writing

The Writing Journey: Persistence Matters.

Image courtesy of Pixabay.

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.

Looking for spooky stories? Subscribe to my newsletter for regular updates and receive an exclusive flash fiction. I’d love it if you could join the discussion! 🙂

Book Promotion, Writing Process

My Newsletter is Here!

Image courtesy kaboompics on Pixabay.

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.

Receive a copy of ‘Forever Autumn’ when you subscribe to my newsletter.

Now that my newsletter is finally up and running, I look forward to getting back into doing some writing. 🙂

Have a great weekend, everyone!

 

First Christmas, My Books

‘First Christmas’ is Here!

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?

FIRST CHRISTMAS is now available on Amazon.

Many thanks go out once again to fellow blogger and author, Priscilla Bettis, for her lovely review. 🙂

If you’re looking for a quick read this weekend, these two short stories of love and loss will help you get into the Christmas spirit.

This Writer's Life, Writing Process

Celebrating One Year of Self-Publishing.

Image courtesy Social.Cut on Unsplash.

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!

I love this quote! And I love getting creative with Canva & Book Brush too. 😉

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?

First Christmas, My Books

‘First Christmas’ Cover Reveal & Pre-Order.

Here it is, everyone! The moment has finally arrived!

My next book of short stories, FIRST CHRISTMAS, will be available 20 November 2020.

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?

FIRST CHRISTMAS is now available for pre-order at Amazon for 99c!

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

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: Becoming an Indie Author.

This month, for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, my insecurity is on high alert. No, let’s be realistic. Make that extreme! My insecurity this month is on an all-time high because this month I become an indie author.

It’s going to take some time to get used to calling myself that. Despite blogging and being on other forms of social media, I’ve become used to being a writer with no real deadlines to meet or any form of expectations from others. Pressing that ‘publish’ button now changes things, taking it to a whole new level. Now that I’ve committed, I’m in it for the long haul.

And it’s being committed for the long haul that I know is something I can do. Pursuing a writing career has been my goal since I was ten and I’ve done everything I can to get to this point in time. It’s just the perfectionist in me that is having a bit of a struggle. 😉

When I take a step back and really give the situation some thought, what frightens me the most is what other people will think of my writing. Will they like it or not? This then evokes imposter syndrome. Having spent a lifetime surrounded by negativity, this is what I seem to be struggling with the most. Realistically, I know that what I write is not going to be to everyone’s taste and that’s okay; these people are not my ‘tribe’. The trouble is, I am worrying about something that is out of my control. When I stop thinking about that, everything seems fine.

Of-course I’ve thought about the marketing aspect of indie-publishing, but for now, I’ll be sticking with the ‘soft launch’. During this early stage, I’m still learning and there will be some trial and error while I continue to work on my current projects. Over the years, I’ve experimented with different social networks and have now come to stick with the ones I feel the most comfortable with. And this is what I’ve decided I need to do. Do what I feel comfortable doing and take things one day at a time.

My daughter has now finished school, so that marks the end of our school lives. Our household is now entering a new phase. It’s therefore, the perfect time to make the leap into indie-publishing. I’m experiencing a lot of different emotions – nervous anxiety mixed with excitement and relief. I guess I could be feeling like this for some time yet! 😉

There comes a time when one must bite the bullet and say enough is enough. That time for me has finally arrived.

Okay, when I’m not stressing, this is me!

My short story, The Ghost at Willow Creek, will be available soon as an eBook through Amazon. I will be posting shortly with further details.

If you are indie published, how did you work through your insecurities? When it comes to writing, do you worry about things out of your control? Do you tend to stick with what you are comfortable with?

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, This Writer's Life

IWSG: Are Your Fears Preventing You from Meeting Deadlines?

In August, my daughter and I were sick with the flu for some weeks and it wasn’t until I began to feel better that I began thinking of deadlines. The trouble is, despite my desire to self-publish, my fear has been preventing me from moving forward.

As someone who plans on self/indie publishing I have the luxury of setting my own deadlines. If truth be told, I have changed my deadline to self-publish a number of times now. I have been telling myself this entire year that I will self-publish this year and not later. I don’t want to put it off any longer. I have also been blogging about the prospect of self-publishing for a while now, so I don’t wish to come across as someone who says they will publish, but never do. I don’t want to be someone who is all talk and no action and sounding like a complete fraud.

To be perfectly honest, I’m afraid of pushing the ‘publish’ button and exposing myself to the world.

When I thought about deadlines, it also got me thinking about how much do we tell our readers? Mainly, is it better for self-publishers to give them a release date or announce our book’s release once it is actually up and running? If we give our readers a release date that we can no longer meet due to circumstances beyond our control, it could create problems. I would love to hear your thoughts on this matter if you are self-published.

Now that we’re in September (how did that happen?) and the year is coming to an end, I’ve decided upon a date (birthdays are always a good time aren’t they? 😉 ). Now it’s just a matter of sticking with it. The time for procrastination is over, and besides, I’m not getting any younger!

Does fear prevent you from meeting deadlines? If you’re self-published, do you prefer to give your readers a release date or give them a pleasant surprise? How do you deal with deadlines when life throws you a curveball?

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, Writing

IWSG: Creativity is in Your Control.

For the past few weeks I’ve been feeling a bit like a rabbit caught in the headlights; I’d like to move forward with my writing, but fear keeps me in place. I’m planning on self-publishing this year and with every small step forward I tend to come to an abrupt halt. Lately, I began to worry about things that were out of my control.

Once our work is out there, there are a lot of expectations that go along with it. With all the pressure on writers to maintain a regular output, I worry that I may not be able to meet that expectation of others. Once I press that ‘publish’ button (which is my greatest fear of all), I fear I will be proven correct that I’m not as good at this writing gig as I think I might be.

It was fortunate then, that I made a few recent discoveries. I read a recent article on JA Konrath’s blog on why your book marketing plan won’t work. I found it an interesting read from someone who has made a success from self-publishing and there are plenty of things to consider. Not only did I get some good advice, but one of the big takeaways I got from it was to stop worrying about what was out of your control.

The other discovery was while I listened to an interview with author Jane Harper on the podcast, So You Want to be a Writer? (yeah, it was a while ago, but I’ve been a bit behind 😉). She mentioned a talk she had given where she gives advice to other creatives. I’ve found her advice helpful and have included the video of it below. She, too, advises to concentrate on the things you can control.

As recently as last week, it took me about fifteen minutes to write an short email of a few lines to my editor, asking for an endorsement for one of my short stories. Yes, I agonised over every word, but I sent it anyway, coming to the decision that there was no harm in asking. I received a reply that same day, saying simply ‘Of-course!’ (Happy Dance! 😊)

Fear has held me back my entire life and I tend to agonise over many things, yet I have found over the years that sometimes when I ignore the fear and do it anyway, things are not half as bad as I thought they would be. The saying is true that ‘there is nothing to fear but fear itself’.

We can’t control if other people will like our writing or not and if they don’t, then perhaps, they’re not our audience. Focusing on what we can control, that is our writing, makes for a less stressful and more enjoyable journey.

Do you worry about things out of your control? Have you found that ‘there is nothing to fear but fear itself’? Have you found advice recently that has helped you to move forward?

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