Lazy Sunday Vlog #2

 

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Resolutions 2018

The start of a new year means one thing! Yes, it is time to make a load of resolutions that I will fail at during the year! To be fair last year we a strange year and though I failed to meet my goals for the year I did learn a lot about myself, I also learnt not to dwell on the failures so rather than rounding up last year I shall focus on the positives, things like I did my first book signing and I became a grandma, those two things meant more to me than anything else that happened last year so let’s get straight on with our new goals and look to the future.

1.  Release Queen Of Ages Book Two; Reawakening

I have already begun work on this book and am hoping to get it finished quickly, I did get distracted at the end of last year by the arrival of my grandson but now I need to focus on getting back into a set writing routine and meet my aim of three books per year, I am really excited to get this series out there especially after the reviews and feedback I have been getting from the first book.

2.  Lose four stone in weight

I know I said this last year and while I did not lose weight last year I didn’t put any more on. I need to start doing this not for how I look but for my health I am getting older and obviously the more weight you carry the greater the strain on your bones and organs, I am aiming to take it slowly and yes, I need to lose more than the four I have stated but I want to do it at a rate where not only does it have a better chance of staying off but it also reduces the risk of ending up with baggy skin after. Plus I bought some awesome suits   in the next couple of sizes down that I want to be able to get some wear out of 😀

3.  Blog at least four times a week consistantly

I tend to either blog every day or not blog at all so for this next year I am going to take the pressure off myself a little, Mondays will still be book/audiobook/dvd reviews, I hope to get back to throwing some author interviews in there as well once more. Tuesdays will be the posts about events and my experiences with the writing/publishing experiences, these will also include my personal feelings about my writing journey. Wednesdays will be WIP in progress and my book promotion days, I will share reviews on the books I have already published as well as discussing the books I am working on and my ideas for future works. Fridays will still be vlog day though I am looking to make changes there as will be discussed later. Sundays will be lazy sunday posts where I will just chat with you fill you in on my week and a little more or my personal life, of course if you want to know more of my day to day goings on my Faceook page or Instagram are probably the best places to keep up with me.

4.  Release Queen of Ages Book Three: Redemption

As with the first resolution I am determined to up my output this year and get into a pattern of two to three releases each year, this year I am aiming to get the remaining parts of this trilogy out and possibly look into a hard back ominbus edition for the festive period next year however that ties in with other resolutions so it remains to be seen what the options are.

5.  Walk 50k steps per week

Previously I had the target of 10k steps a day totalling 70k for a week however I am now being more realisitic, I struggle on work days to fit in all my steps at times so by giving myself more leeway I believe that this goal is more achievable I am also determined to use the apps on my phone, xbox and my cross trainer more to increase the amount of exercise I am doing and try to add in doing one of my dance/exercise videos once a week.

6.  Publish four Quarterly newsletters

I swapped from monthly to quarterly because I was struggling to get the content worth sending out, now I have changed to quarlerly I just need to iron out the timing for the newsletters in terms of tying in with live events which I may wish to utilise in terns of the giveaways be that either collecting things to put in the prizes or offering chances to win tickets.

7.  Release Dragon’s Mark, Book One of the Raven Seer Chronicles

This would be the third release of the year and to be fair it is a quarter done already. I had initially intended to do this as a stand alone book however as I worked on it I realied the potiential for this to be an on going fantasy series.

8.  Vlog once a week

Like the blogging I have been hit and miss with the vlogs so my goal is this year to not only produce one a week but to also include more footage from my week and make them more interesting, not just me sat talking at a screen for five minutes unprepared. I also want to increase the production quality of the vlogs and make them more exciting for those who supoprt me by watching them.

9.  Write 1k fiction every day

This year I attempted NanoWriMo and failed miserably, yes there were other things which affected my writing time but if I want to make this my living then I need to focus and make it happen. By writing just 1k per day I could easily write three books a year, the only person stopping me is me.

10.  Fix Office hours for my writing and stick to them

I tend to get distracted, I turn FB on or stop to get up and go do other things so the answer is simple I need to set up my office hours and stick to them, now to be fair they cannot be the same every day as I work different shifts and have other commitments, and once my daughter goes back to work I will also have extra childcare considerations but I have a timer I use which uses the Pomodoro method, work thirty minutes on and then a fifteen minute break so when I have blocks of time I can sit at the computer I will use the timer and only look at FB etc during the fifteen minute breaks, I will also use that time as well to get up from my desk and move around trying to fit in a few extra steps each hour.

11.  Work on reducing the minus balance in my accounts

Right now if I were trying to exist purely on my writing as a business I would be bancrupt, thankfully the day job is still there to pay the bills but I need now to step up my writing game. As I increase the number of signing events I wish to attended the greater the expense so it becomes all the more important to start making them pay, this means more books to sell, more swag for sale and working out better ways to do giveaways and swag etc. I am realistic enough to know this does not happen over night, I am just over a year into a five year plan, I might not be in as good a shape as I would like but I have learnt lessons and am working on it, I am still positive my long term goal is possible.

12.  Set up Ravens Rest Press

Using Createspace has many positive and negative points, one of the harder pills to swallow is the cost of shipping books from the US I have no idea why they cannot print them in the UK as they print the books bought via amazon here on demand, the main thing about using other outlets is the fact you buy your own ISBN numbers  which means you can set up your own print imprint and get your books into libraries and book shops easier. You can also get expanded distribution networks for the books you have with them, I believe there is also the possibility of hardback issues which I would love to be able to do for the trilogy and maybe special editions of other books.

13.  Update all published works edits and biograhies regularly

I have got into the habit of updating all my social media posts to match, what I have failed to do is go back and update the also by this other sections of my previous books, alter the odd typo that I find and update the images in the books, this is something that I need to get into the habit of doing more often so that when I have a new book come out I know that the others will only require the minimum of alteration.

14.  Meet someone special

So this one is one I cannot actually make come true, and at the minute I am not really in a position to actively seek someone but rather this is more about allowing myself to be open to the idea of meeting someone, to not send out negative vibes when approached and to be open to the idea that a relationship does not have to be negative. I finally feel like I have shed the emotional baggage from my previous relationship, and while it will still take someone very special to make me invest my emotions in them I am not totally averse to that idea any longer, for me that is already a huge step.

Read And Relax – The Book Lovers Subscription

A few weeks ago I told you about taking a chance and reaching out to a book subscription service, well now in a few days next months box launches including swag from yours truly!

So what is Read and Relax, well the best way to explain is to share their ethos from their own website…

Read and Relax is a new subscription site dedicated to keeping second-hand books alive.

The idea for Read And Relax came to me one afternoon whilst I was browsing the internet. I, probably much like yourself, was looking for a monthly book subscription. What I found were expensive offers (which contained more useless merchandise then books). If my book came with anything I would want it to be useful – I hoard enough as it is! As a teacher, I don’t have countless disposable income and therefore I began to reach the stage where I was going to give up – I just couldn’t get myself to part with that much money! That is when Read And Relax was born.

My vision  is to not only provide budget-friendly monthly boxes but to also save second-hand books from the tip hence  supporting a wide range of charities at the same time. As a thank you from me to you, parcels will also include a treat: sometimes this might be something to eat, other times it may be a delicious smelling candle, perhaps a mug to harvest that well deserved tea at the end of the day… to name just a few. Whatever it is, I promise that it will be useful and relaxing.

Alas, on such a budget, I cannot provide the latest book to my customers: but what I can do is hand-pick them novels from charity stores which match their genre preferences. Since starting this service my weekends, and quite happily, have been used to browse shops, read reviews and purchase literature for my followers. I, so far, have received a number of great reviews and just hope that this service is not only what I was looking for, but what you were looking for too. 

Together we can do three things: support charities, revive books and read!

So why does this project excite me, I want to sell my books? Simple, the reason I started writing was I love reading, I love stories and I love books, and now as a self-published author I strive to share my work with people who I think will love it. When you join this subscription service you get to choose the genres you would like to receive books in, maybe you chose the safe options you know you will like and risk the odd book you may have already read or you take a chance, chose an unknown genre. I think of this service a little like trusting a friend to pick your next book for you, and if you get a book you don’t like, you have only spent the same as you might have buying a new book but have the feel-good factor of knowing these books have been purchased from charity shops.

So what have I popped in the boxes, basically, if you subscribe and choose the targeted genres you will receive a swag bag from me similar to those I give away with purchases. However, I know not everyone always has the spare cash to take advantages of these orders  at that minute so what I am willing to do is if you subscribe at any point, either in the next couple of days, or during December, and would like to receive a belated swag pack for your next box if you contact Read and Relax I will make sure that I send extra bags to make sure everyone gets one.

So if you are interested in this great subscription service head over to Read and Relax or follow them on Instagram  

And just remember if you don’t want this subscription for yourself then maybe it could be the perfect gift for the book lover in your family. I am so excited to be working alongside this company and hope to get the opportunity to do so again at a later date.

Lazy Sunday #48

Afternoon, you wonderful people.

I am sat here at my desk right now coffee in hand attempting to defrost.

You know I had to get the selfie from Snapchat after all we all love unicorns. Today has been a busy day, I went down to my daughters to bleach her hair ready to attempt a colour tomorrow then when we left there the monster and I headed to a local park Pokemon hunting. First, let me say that the reason he is only just on the Pokemon Go app is that it was not available for my Windows phone so the minute I got a new android phone it was one of the first things he asked me to do. Secondly, let me point out that while this may be a fun thing to do in the Summer chasing imaginary creatures round a park in the cold is not so much fun. My journeys to work and back now involve my being logged into the game to get distance to hatch eggs and to spin discs every time I pass certain buildings to get him balls to catch these creatures with, I don’t really mind that much because it is not as if I have to go out of my way but it is annoying that it is a drain on my battery and I can’t listen to my podcasts at the same time. The good thing is of course that it gets kids outside and exercising and in our case, by default, it means more exercise for me especially on a Sunday when I am prone to be a little sedate. It is also something we can do together though I can only name a handful of the creatures we have caught.

 

It is now evening I am afraid I got distracted chatting to a friend. My #NanoWriMo stats have not changed since last week, a combination of overtime and illness on top of normal work had a detrimental effect on my focus and I now need to write around 2.5k a day to hit target. It is still possible, I have a week off work at the end of the month so I can make up some words there hopefully.

I have quite a few different things going on in my head at the minute to deal with as well as writing so I am struggling to keep my focus on sitting and getting the right thoughts down. Right now writing wise things are going well, but I think sometimes when one aspect of your life is improving it does make you look at other areas that maybe are not doing quite as well, there are aspects of my life I would like to change but for now they will have to wait, I have far too much going on in other areas that I am excited about.

Lest We Forget.

Today at 11am the store I was working in fell silent except for one or two people, one packing a bag one I could hear still opening and closing freezer doors. My initial reaction is anger at the fact the ignored the silence but the I remember those we are taking the time to think of died so people had the freedom to choose their own actions. When I was younger I would get annoyed at people who would say I fought for you, I still do! You see I don’t believe they fought for me, or the person next to me, they fought for themselves and their loved ones, because after all is that not the catalyst that drives people to want to make the world a better place, they do not do it for the faceless masses they do it for their loved ones, for the children they have or long for. I have grandparents who fought in wars and those who stayed behind working in the mines but the eleventh hour of the eleventh day for me will always be about remembering one person.

My dad didn’t want me to look into his family tree he thought there was some dark secret. What I founfwas a tragic tale of a man who went to war and never came back leaving a wife and seven children behind. My grandad never knew his father, my dad recalls only ever once seeing a photo of a tall man, that when he asked who it was he was told it was his grandad, a blond haired, haired blue-eyed Irishman, the photo disappeared and was never seen again. I will never know the answer to why a miner who had no need to fight decided to go to the front, one can only speculate that it was for a better life for him and his children, sadly like so many others he never returned home.

Last year as part of the Somme memorials I got the chance to get the War Diaries for his regiment, and everything became real. You see before he was a name in a list of names but reading these diaries, learning where he travelled and where his life ended made him as real to me as my own grandad had been. The chances are even if he had lived through the war he would have passed away long before I was born but my grandad would have known him, my dad would probably have known him, we would know our lineage and ancestry not just that his parents came from County Galway, a fact scribbled on a census record.

More than that I read the day he died. He died on the 6th there are no casulaties listed for that day but then I realised that it was likely he died at somepoint during the night before and it would not be until the following morning by daylight that the dead and missing would be counted. He was a mere Private, his passing warrented no mention of his name, a number in a tally chart was his diary entry. I want to share with you the day he passed.

Almost every family if they delve deep enough will find someone who went and did not return, regardless of the rights and wrongs of modern politics and wars, we remember those who sacrificed their lives so their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren could have to freedom to live lives they could never have even dreamed of.

#Darker Reflections – Part Two

The alarm goes off at half six and it feels like I have barely slept, I am not sure which emotion dominates, excitement or fear. I get my make-up on and get dressed, I had debated staying in bed longer and doing my hair and make-up after breakfast but I was glad I chose the order I did, partly as I was awake anyway but also because it allowed longer chatting over breakfast with the authors and bloggers I had met the previous night. It was reassuring to know that I was not the only one feeling nervous, even authors who had done these events before got nervous.

After returning to my room to grab my stuff I headed to the room to get my first look at it and to set up. It was suddenly very real and I have to confess I felt a little sick.

I found my table, due to someone else not being able to attend I found myself with a full table instead of half which although I loved having a full table was a little daunting, I had not brought much with me in terms of table decorations because I had not expected to have as much space so I spread the stuff out I had as best I could and put out a few extra bits. I was set up early enough to allow me to wander around, pick up my pre-orders and say hello to authors I had not met the night before, I regret to say I did not meet everyone but I do look forward to putting this right at later events, I would hope that many will be at Leeds and Darker next year, though of course at this time I have no idea if I will be attending as an author or a reader.

It was almost time for the doors to open and nerves got the better of me and I had to run to the loo, that was a slight mistake as it meant I saw the queues of people waiting to go in which did nothing to quiet my fears.

Back at the table the doors opened and I sat waiting, and waiting, and waiting. It seemed like forever even though it was not that long. The layout of the room meant that I was on what would be classed as the return leg, but the reality was people were also doing exactly what I had done myself, heading to get their pre-orders first.

Rachel and Jo had done an amazing job of organising everything, each author had found a goodie bag at their table and now the people entering were receiving theirs but they were also receiving a laminated sheet, the idea behind this was that they then got all the authors to sign it to be entered into a draw, it meant as the day went by more and more people stopped by the table some to just get a signature but most stopped to chat and to find out more about me and my books. They did not buy books but as I had put the Kindle version of Ascension up for free for the weekend it seemed quite a few went away and grabbed themselves a free copy, hopefully including the bloggers and book reviewers I met.

These types of events are not really geared towards sales especially for new authors, it really is more about networking, making contacts with other authors and readers as well as meeting people who run book blogs and review groups. These people are priceless for an author because if they like you and respect you they will share you everywhere, and the provide something that you can’t buy, genuine good will and support.

After a break for lunch we were off again and the day really did fly by, I want to give a special thank you to a lovely author called Helen Bright, I reviewed one of her books a few weeks ago, she was on the table next to me and was huge support during the day, I think if it hadn’t been for her I might have been tempted to just make a run for it before the doors opened.

One thing that really did surprise me was how hard it was to get people to take things, I really thought people would be grabbing handfuls of swag but instead I was constantly having to point it out to people and encourage them to take it, I also had far more left at the end of the day than I expected.

I have to say though at the end of the afternoon as I packed up I was struggling to contain the smile on my face, it really did make me realise just how much I want to make this my career and to be able to attend these things far more. I hauled my case packed with left over swag unsold books and my own purchases upstairs, realising I seemed to be going home with more than I had come with and wondering how I was going to get it all home, but that would have to wait for later I had an hour and a half to have a shower and get ready for the Ball.

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#Darker Reflections – Part One

I debated writing this post last week but decided I wanted to take the time to reflect upon all my experiences regarding #Darker and my first signing.

First, I have to say I had an amazing time, it was better than I could ever have imagined but I know you want to know a lot more than that so let’s start with a couple of days to go.

I message my friend Deb that is due to go with me checking what time we are meeting on Friday, she is upset, her boss has decided he needs her to fly to the Isle of Man on the Saturday for a big meeting, she goes into the office the next day but can’t change anything. I am gutted, it is too late to get anyone else to come so I put my ball ticket up for grabs on the Darker page, it gets snapped up straight away, I breathe a sigh of relief, at least I will have someone sat with me at the Ball, the relief only lasts twenty-four hours until it turns out she cannot attend either, everyone else either has plans or their own ticket. I am a little worried but don’t want my friend to worry, this was out of her control, and maybe it is like being thrown in at the deep end, after all there might not always be people available to come to these things with me every time.

I repack, originally, I had stuff in two cases but decide it will be easier to handle a case plus a holdall, it was a good job as you will find out shortly, though I do intend to get a bigger case with four wheels rather than the one I have. I will need to look into alternative travel options for future events, whether that is looking into paying someone to drive me or shipping things ahead of time, of course the best solution will be eventually to get a car.

I meet Deb for lunch and have the most ridiculous burger ever, I can’t even begin to get my mouth round it so attack it with a knife and fork, a good catch up later and we get my train tickets and Deb helps me to the train, it is rammed. They have cut the number of trains to Leeds and it seems the number of carriages, every seat is booked and there is barely room to stand and getting on with my luggage is tough but I just about manage, though after she has helped me there is not even room to turn round and wave. I get to Leeds and get the Peterborough train, I am lucky that I was there early and grab a seat but once again the train fill, thankfully the journey is shorter than I expected.

I jump in a taxi and we head out of the city centre and to the hotel. As I check in I see the first familiar face, I meet more people attending the event as I struggle to get my electronic door key to work, apparently there is a knack, I miss proper keys in hotels.

Once in the room I do a live FB video showing my accommodation for the weekend, my daughter points out to me afterwards that I say ermmm a lot during this, lesson learnt, I am okay filming a vlog where I have control over what I am going to say and know I can edit it but not so good at live off the cuff, this is something I need to work on.

I unpack and decide, that given the schedule for the day after, I will iron my clothes now before I go downstairs, it also allows for more chance of people arriving and there being someone I will know downstairs.

I eventually go downstairs around six and head into the bar, relief is overwhelming as I spot a couple of people I know straight away and join them, we spend the next hour chatting as more people join us until we decide to give the poor girls behind the bar orders for about twenty of us eating, dinner was okay nice but nothing special, I think that is the general consensus with one or two issues that are dealt with. Then Rachel and Jo arrive and come over to say hello, they briefly catch up with us we all discuss our journeys to the venue and then they disappear to start working on the room. The rest of us loiter in the bar area chatting and getting to know each other until around 10pm when we call it a night knowing tomorrow will be a long day.

It was so nerve racking meeting people you have only chatted to online but thankfully everyone turned out to be every bit as lovely as they seem in the virtual world.

I climb into bed with a smile on my face exhausted but excitement means that it is a rather restless night.