Exactly one year ago I found myself in a bit of a slump. I took stock, looked at where I was at, and decided it wasn’t where I wanted to be. I was spending all my time writing, it’s true, but that writing was entirely work-related.
This time last year it was months since I’d done any serious work on my fiction and my career as an author was seriously suffering for it. Serious action was needed.
My solution was to adopt a strategy that utilised the ‘little and often’ approach rather than the ‘lets spend a whole month doing nothing but write’ approach that has been my habit in the past. Whether it was due to an obsession with a particular story that compelled me to write day in, day out, for months on end (how Chasing Azrael came about), or participation in National Novel Writing Month, which saw me trying to write a whole novel in a single month (how Twisted Sister and several others ended up being half finished), my approach to writing has always been the same as my approach to life in general.
All or nothing.
It became clear that spending months on end with no time to write was not going to work. I need to write. For the sake of my own sanity, if nothing else, I need that time to get the worlds and characters and insanity in my head down on paper (or rather, Scrivener). And so a year ago today I set myself a challenge: Write one scene a day. Every day.
I have tweaked this slightly over the last year. There have been days when I’ve really not been feeling it, days when I’ve been ill, and a few days when I decided I really needed a day to totally unplug from everything. I also had to expand the parameters of the challenge fairly quickly when I realised that if I was writing every day I would very soon have shit that needed editing, and trying to both write and edit each day was pushing it. So, I would write or edit one scene a day. Every day. Additional things soon got added to this list: story planning, research, reading books on the craft (of writing not, you know, witchcraft…those fall under research!), blogging, and of course the unending task of building my author profile and author platform.
This is what I’ve achieved in the last year, simply by devoting one small(ish) chunk of time a day to writing:
By far the greatest achievement of the last twelve months is the completion of my novel, Death Becomes Me, the follow up to Chasing Azrael. This book has been a joy to write yet simultaneously heartbreaking. It has also been profoundly difficult, due in part to the complexity of the plot, and in part to the personal demons the subject matter inevitably unleashes. It’s a book I needed to write, a story I needed to tell, but more than that I believe it is a story a lot of people will LOVE.
As I pen this blog the book is awaiting editing and publication, and the Kickstarter I’m running to fund the project is chugging along nicely! Chapter one is available to read for free so be sure to check that out here!
Coming in at a very close second is the very first product of the Scene Daily challenge, a little novella by the name of Bleizgeist that was released at the end of last year. This was the first thing I wrote for the challenge, as I was finding it very difficult to crack Death Becomes Me at the time and though that writing something totally different would help relax the writing muscles – I was right! In addition to helping me ease back into writing regularly, this little project gave me several characters and a world I’ve come to love. For those of you who have been asking, there is a full length novel in the works!
Another book to roll out at the end of last year, The Uber Author Planner is my first non-fiction title, released through my freelance business, The Bookshine Bandit. Knowing how difficult it is to get yourself organised when you’re an author, writer, or blogger of any kind, I created the planner to help writers just like me get productive and see some real results!
One major mile stone for me last year, which came directly from placing my attention on writing posts and articles for other sites and outlets, was getting published on The Huffinton Post. I now have a regular blog spot on there, with new articles coming out every few weeks.
The most recent coup for lil’ old me was being named an Editor on Sci-Fi Fantasy Network, and placed in charge of the Vampires and General Darkness section of the site! My first post in the new position, looking at Vampire novels over the last 150 years, will be published on the 25th May. Keep an eye out for that, and weekly posts to the site from me thereafter!
Another piece that came out recently was a profile on me published on Career Shifters. A website dedicated to helping people find fulfillment in their work and careers the site often features articles of people who have changed from one career to something totally different. In my case, they were looking at my shift from Archaeologist and University Lecturer to full-time Writer and Publisher.
100+ Blog Posts
In the last 12 months I’ve penned enough blog posts to get me into triple figures, and then some. I was intending to give you the exact number, but to be honest I lost count somewhere between 117 and 121 and I really couldn’t be bothered recounting! If you’re sat there thinking, “Wait a minute, there’s NO WAY this blog has had that many posts on it!” you’d be right. These are posts spread out across this blog, The Bipolar Bear, The Bookshine Bandit, The Huffington Post, and several other guest posts I’ve had published on sites like The Muffin and Wild Goose. It also includes a myriad that have yet to be published, or are currently on submission to other sites.
Short Stories & Books With Bite Free Guides
In addition to all of this I’ve penned three short stories over the last twelve months, one of which is currently on submission to a competition. The other two are awaiting editing and proofreading. I’ve also started a brand new series of TOTALLY FREE guides, entitled Books With Bite. The first of these is on Vampire novels and includes 62 awesome Vampire series and standalone novels. You can get that FOR FREE now here! Upcoming guides in the series include further guides to novels featuring Werewolves, Demons, Witches and LOTS MORE!
Photography & Crafting
As well as writing I’ve had a delightful time getting back into photography over the last few months, beginning with the cover shoot for Chasing Azrael in November, and continuing with a self-portrait shoot (images to come) that I shot a few weeks ago in Wales. I’m loving being back behind a camera, but I’m also loving playing around making the props for the shoots, like this rather awesome Dragon Egg! I’m in need of some serious practice, as I’ve not been able to take any pictures since I lost my old camera in the fire (2011). Luckily for me, Dexter has no issue posing for pictures and giving me plenty to shoot!