Participants: Chris Towndrow, Rik Lonsdale, Karen Heenan, Beth Hudson, Maria Johnson, Gerald Hornsby, Marian Thorpe, Sandy Stuckless, Eva Seyler, Andy Roberts, Cheryl Whiting, Marianne Scott, Iza Forestspirit, Odessa Rose, Kathleen Marple-Kalb, Bailey Boone, Deborah Klée
Please introduce yourself and tell us something new you experienced in the past year. It doesn’t have to be about writing.
Deborah: Deborah host of Friday Salon. Hi everyone, I am hosting my first fundraising event next week in aid of a homeless charity. A bit out of my comfort zone but it is fun.
Beth: Hi, I’m Beth Hudson, fantasy author from the American Midwest! In the past year, I have enthusiastically sampled my youngest son’s experimentation into all sorts of odd Japanese food (not as restaurants, but packages from the store).
Marian: Hi, I’m Marian. This was a tough question – these past years have not been full of new things! The best I can come up with is learning to use zoom.
Chris: Hi all, Chris from the London ‘burbs. Something new? I started riding a bike again for the first time in 30+ years. Loving it.
Odessa: Hello, I’m Odessa Rose. Our son who has autism started riding the regular bus home from work because the mobility bus was taking too long to pick him up. Family to friends volunteered to secretly ride on the bus with him to make sure he was safe and to ease our minds.
Gerald: Hi Deborah! I’m Gerald, currently living in North-East Essex. In the past year, I’ve learned / experienced some finer points of filming, and video and audio production.
Maria: Hi! I’m Maria and I write historical fiction and fantasy. Something new for me this year was moving to a new house! The hubs and I moved elsewhere in the Greater Manchester area back in April. Also writing wise – having two narrators in my novel (both 1st POV).
Rik: Hi, I’m Rik in Dorset, UK. Something new I experienced in the past year? Rejection from Lit Agents.
Deborah: Hi Rik. Rejections from agents are a rite of passage.
Gerald: We’ve all been there, Rik. You need to keep going. I can’t remember who this was now, but I thought it was impressive.
Book 1: 53 queries 0 requests
Book 2 43 queries 1 request
Book 3 54 queries 15 requests
Book 4 80 queries 20 requests. 3 offers.
Sandy: Hello all! I’m Sandy. Something new… I’ve taken on some new responsibilities at the day job. While it has been a bit overwhelming to start, it’s nice to be learning new skills and handling different parts of the business. It’s sparked a bit of creativity again.
Andy: Hi, I’m Andy, and I finished university this year. But feel cheated out of a lot of it by the pandemic.
Cheryl: I’m Cheryl – writing nonfiction. This year I have learned to roll with the punches as early 2020 was very discombobulating. I’ve taken more of an interest in the garden and learning all about growing plants, flowers and food!
Marianne: I am in the final edit of my most recent novel. I will finish that WIP and make a decision on how to publish. Would love to go the traditional route but that is a hard road to take.
Kathleen: Hi! It’s Kathleen from the US, joining late — actually from a meeting on social media strategy, which is one of the things I had to learn in the last year!
Bailey: I’m Bailey! Something new I have experienced this year is having an agent! And it is the best!
What are your writing goals for the next 6-9 months? Just writing as the questions will cover other aspects of life.
Eva: Primary goal for the rest of this year is to get #UntitledPatagonianThing edited (and, uh, titled…) so I can get it to @thejayneshow for recording! I’m also going to submit a MG book to PitchWars.
Rik: Real answer: I have to decide which of three possible novel ideas to prioritise. I’m pushing forward with study; a third person joins our in-depth weekly event shortly. I intend (dare I say this) to complete a first draft of a new work by the end of March.
Beth: Writing goals (which I probably won’t complete 😉 Finish and publish Runedance (Re) send-off short stories Complete more short stories Continue my flash pieces for my Patreon Keep on doing daily micro fiction
Chris: Aside from querying my #histfic, I’ve got a cozy mystery coming out in November, a #scifi sequel pencilled for release around Easter, but my headline project is a dystopian drama which should be the next thing I query.
Marian: Writing goals for the next 6 to 9 months are to get the first draft of Empress and Soldier written. It’s a story in the same world and some same characters as my others but it’s not directly in line in the series.
Sandy: I have three novels that are completed, but need editing. That’ll be my focus in the immediate future, I think. I don’t want to devote all of my time to editing because I feel stifled, so I’ll probably be drafting something new as well.
Gerald: Creating, writing and publishing a new novel every 3 months in a new series. Creating and launching the online @EfficientNovels course. Finally get round to publishing a collection of Christmas flash fiction that’s been sitting round for a while. So, not much.
Cheryl: My goal is to finish my 1st draft by Xmas, but the day job keeps getting in the way. I also want to get rolling with my website and be out there loud and proud as an author by June 2022!
Maria: Finishing my 1st draft of my 4th novel in my historical fiction series. Hopefully getting most of the 1st stage of edits done too. Also hoping my 3rd historical fiction novel will be out by then (process of publication at the moment). Maybe working other stuff/nano too.
Karen: Main goal is finishing My Sister’s Child, my 1930s novel. I finally figured out what was wrong with it, so now it’s just rewrites and edits. Also continuing to market my first two Tudor books and prepare for the release of the third in April 2022.
Andy: Well, I’ve got an ongoing ghost-writing project and might be getting more work out of that. I also want to more widely publish a book I wrote for a university assignment while writing the next stories.
Iza: That’s a tough one. I’ve now completed the final edit of all seven stories from my fantasy anthology. They’re currently free to read on my website. My dream is to some get them published as an eBook. So, I’ll start looking into publishing options next I guess. izaforestspritstories.com
Kathleen: I have two trad pub books coming in the spring, and I suspect that’s going to devour my life. I’m hoping to at least keep working on short fiction and ideas for whatever happens afterward.
Bailey: Finishing this draft and getting this project out on submission, and researching and writing…whatever the next thing is. I haven’t decided yet.
Odessa: To publish my third novel, Kizmic’s Journey.
What are your marketing goals for the next 6-9 months?
Maria: I relate! I market mine as historical fiction but some reviewers have said it reads like historical fantasy. So, I’m wondering how I might tap into that market. Especially as some historical fiction readers might not have bought because it felt more like fantasy, dunno!
Marian: Your books remind me of Rosemary Sutcliffe’s in their feel. Maybe look at the categories her books are in?
Chris: I’m going to look at alternative ways to ‘pitch’ Tow Away Zone on social media – create better hooks, plus try FB ads. I’ll also revisit book bloggers – the first time around 75% didn’t even bother to reply.
Gerald: You could use a company that organised the blog tour for you. I think it costs around £80 to set up. Takes that hassle away.
Deborah: I had two very successful blog tours organised through Rachel’s Random Resources. They resulted in lots of reviews and great social media coverage.
Rik: Good question. This is a space I need to engage with, so I guess a goal would be to develop a plan should the darn book ever see the light of day.
Gerald: There’s a rumour someone’s putting a bid in for a full “MARKETING FOR INDEPENDENT (and TRADITIONAL) AUTHORS” specialist course for #Swanwick2022, so there’s that…
Maria: Not really sure at the moment, to be honest! I’m still at the stage where people tell me in doing all the right things but not sure how to bridge the gap between people interested and people buying.
Andy: Depends on how the story is published. It’s being considered by an American magazine, but I’ll do the KDP route if it falls through. I might arrange a blog tour. I have some contacts about that.
Eva: I guess I will keep yelling into the void. Marketing is not my strength.
Karen: Aside from doing _actual_ marketing, figuring out how to get better at it. I don’t completely know what I’m doing, but do any of us? I’d like to get A Wider World in front of more readers, because it doesn’t have the audience Songbird had, and it’s a better book.
Beth: Just keep putting Goldsong out there (sigh, I’m so bad at this) and keep sending out short stories to magazines (most of them eventually find magazine homes, so it’s a matter of persistence).
Marianne: Marketing is something that is difficult in Covid times. In the past I’ve had good sales at writer events and craft shows. That leaves Amazon and social media which I find are not good marketing tools.
Karen: I’ve got a completely unrelated-to-writing outdoor craft show tomorrow. I’m bringing copies of both books, some bookmarks, and hopefully enough attention span to sell crafts and talk books at the same time. Hopefully.
Sandy: This is where I am such a useless twit. I market my work like I fly airplanes. Which is to say, I don’t. I seriously need to sit down and work out a plan going forward, because I feel I do have enough work out there to make it worth it.
Bailey: I have no idea! Hopefully, my novel that’s out on submission will be picked up by then and I’ll be marketing that but…
What are your spiritual/emotional/mental aspirations to help you achieve your goals? How might this impact on your writing life/ behaviour?
Maria: I like my exercise bike for zoning out for a bit. My dog Chewie is excellent therapy too, both cuddles and walks. My Christian faith brings me a lot of comfort, hope and balance.
Chris: My biggest challenge is finding out what the ‘new normal’ looks like for my work schedule and our family logistics. This impacts how much I write, but not what I write or how passionate and determined I am to find a genre/formula that works.
Cheryl: I’m with you, since I now do a lot of teaching online, I find it hard to set boundaries and switch between activities. Today I have spent the day lecture planning – easier to continue and focus on one thing when a mix of lecture prep and writing would have been more satisfying.
Kathleen: Logistics have become a major issue for me, too, with the return to the office and spotty train service. I have to be much more organized than I ever used to be!
Rik: This links to my answer to Q2. One of my novel options is significantly deeper, with a much closer emotional feel than the others. Planning is about who feels what than what is actually happening plot wise. 2nd option is story driven, but has depth, The 3rd is fluff.
Marian: Like my protagonist Lena, I need healthy doses of space and silence and nature to keep me balanced and functional. I’m just on my way home from a mini vacation where I hiked and bird watched and took photos and did very little of anything and it was wonderful.
Beth: Music helps me do everything, and listening to it means I’m in a good place. Reading is tremendously helpful in recharging. I play RPGs twice a week, which helps my creativity. Getting things accomplished other than writing also helps me feel more at ease.
Gerald: I’m afraid I don’t really have any. Telling stories for a living is a delight and a dream come true, but my feet are grounded by the need to pay bills and buy food (and wine!). So my drivers are very practical, but the desire to tell stories never diminishes.
Cheryl: I have found other people are beginning to talk to me about other people’s books. There seems to be a lot of back-biting and criticism that comes with the territory and trying to prepare myself for this, through self-love!
Andy: I have found other people are beginning to talk to me about other people’s books. There seems to be a lot of back-biting and criticism that comes with the territory and trying to prepare myself for this, through self-love!
Sandy: I guess, one mental aspiration I have is to eventually overcome this sense of self-doubt and get the hell out of my own way. I am my own worst enemy sometimes.
Karen: I’m trying to get back into walking more, because not only do I need exercise (too much desk time), but it clears my head and helps me write better. Also, since I dictate, walking really seems to shake the words loose.
Kathleen: Family time is what renews me. As long as I get some quiet time with my husband and son at some point during any given week, I can handle anything!
Bailey: I want to keep in mind that even though writing is important to me and something I genuinely love to do, it isn’t the ONLY thing I love to do. I want to make time for other hobbies, too, especially when writing becomes overwhelming, at times.
Odessa: My spiritual goals are to continue to worship God and to ask for his guidance, and to help our family and church heal after the loss of my uncle/Bishop. This will help me to have the strength to finish Kizmic’s Journey, part of which my uncle read before he passed.
Are you planning to learn or experience anything new in the coming months (apart from writing) Maybe a new class or adventure?
Marian: I’m going to be investigating audiobook production. I’m hoping I can read the books myself, but we’ll see. It’s a big-time commitment with six books in the series at a seventh on the way.
Gerald: Wow. Well done! It’s a huge investment in time. youtube.com/channel/UCHHf1… is great for hints and tips and gear reviews. I started reading my flash fiction pieces, with an intention to release them via Patreon or something. Still thinking about it.
Sandy: Now, there’s an idea worth looking into. I’ve been trying to think of ways to monetize my website. A Patreon for readings of my work would be a good place to start.
Marian: Someone else I know does that, she has a YouTube channel where she does narration of flash fiction and spoken word poetry.
Maria: We are experiencing a new season at church at the moment which is exciting- both as my hubs is their new vicar and as we move out of these strange times and start doing things again
Rik: I’ve a hunch I’m about to be roped into the village pantomime. And don’t, please, give me ‘oh no you’re not’.
Cheryl: I am keen to have a go at creative writing. I have never written a story; people say I write very entertaining letters and tell a good tale! I would try my talents at something other than academic/journalistic writing.
Karen: after almost 2 years (Dec. 2019), I’ve started doing craft shows again, and I’m trying to find a way to enjoy them – it’s just too much peopling after all this time to myself, which it turns out has been a positive aspect of the pandemic for me. Since in-person and online sales are a large part of my income, I need to find a way to enjoy it or it will start to resemble my better-paid cubicle life, which I never want to repeat.
Kathleen: I’m the mother of a sixth-grader. Every day is an adventure! (I suspect I’ll be drawn into the Imp’s newest project!)
Sandy: Been thinking about picking up a new hobby, just to change it up a bit. I played guitar a little in high school, but haven’t touched it decades. Maybe I’ll give that a go again.
Marianne: I usually take a writing course of some type. It renews me and starts me thinking in new creative ways.
Andy: I haven’t decided yet. I’ll go wherever the wind blows with that one.
Beth: I am! I am the fan guest of honor at ICON 46 (Iowa’s oldest sci-fi convention). I’ve been doing programming book, opening ceremonies skit, and other random things for it so long that I guess they actually noticed.
Bailey: Well, I’m really, really, really hoping to go on vacation. I want to go to Dallas (the setting of my first book.)
Odessa: I’m trying to convince my family to rent an RV and go camping for the day. They won’t stay overnight
What is your Sankalpa for the coming year? A positive intention to set your direction. Can you write it in one tweet?
Eva: For several years it’s been just one word: persist
Rik: Sankalpa For me it has to be about continuing the journey of honing my craft. There are different aspects of it, #freewriting daily, accountable study and writing goals, commitment to supporting other writers. There’s more but…
Beth: Sankalpa: I want to focus on doing more writing, being more productive, and not worrying about rejections. I especially want to get the critical voice in my head to be silent.
Odessa: The Firedrake (Beth) stole my answer Every word. Wow.
Karen: (to Beth) Strangely enough, the more I write/the more productive I am, the quieter that voice gets. I think I drown it out with other words. (It’s still there, but it rides in the back seat and doesn’t get any say about what’s on the radio).
Karen: I would like to continue to stay out of my own way so that I can focus on the work. I have learned that I am the biggest obstruction in my own forward movement. “Get out of your own way” is pinned up over my desk.
Marian: Learn to say No. I wrote it big letters in my day book a few days ago.
Sandy: Not sure it’s a positive intention, but I’ve got to be forceful in saying ‘no’. So much of my time belongs to other people… It needs to stop.
Kathryn: Embrace change, let go of the old and let in the new