Writerly Round-Up: February 2019
They say time seems to speed up as we get older, and I certainly concur; the days appear to be on fast forward and even the weeks are gone at an alarming speed! It’s hard to believe we’re already two months into 2019. But the fact there are faint streaks of light on the horizon when I head out for the gym at 6.15am, and the weather forecasters are talking about unseasonably warm temperatures, is a welcome sign that winter is nearly over. Mind you, this time last year, we were heading straight towards The Beast From The East, so I’m not going to pack up all my winter woollies just yet.
Looking back through the diary, February has been a month of treats. We had lunch with an old college friend we’d not seen for thirty years, met his new wife, and heard all about their new adventure half a world away. We spent Valentine’s Day in a little town in Somerset, trying out a Michelin-starred gastro-pub for the first time. I travelled to Birmingham for lunch with some old school friends. And we spent a wonderful day with Bini Ludlow of Sweet Cumin learning how to cook authentic Indian curries. So I guess, with everything else going on, it’s hardly surprising the writing has been a little sparse. But, enough about my eating habits; let’s get on with this month’s Writerly Round-Up.
Writing In February
Last month, there was enough news to split this section into fiction and non-fiction; this time, I’m combining them. It feels like I’ve written very little recently, although my word count for the year to date (and yes, I am that sad) is around 20K. I’ve been playing around with an old short story (of which I have a whole stock looking for homes) and intend to make a foray into the women’s magazine market at some point soon. I’ve also done some more work on The Business of Writing Part 4 Independent Publishing. I’d got stuck on a particular section, so took a step back and re-evaluated the whole thing, comparing what I was doing, with my original outline plan. Now I’m back on track and hoping to finish the first draft this week.
Sales and Marketing
I’m continuing to work my way through the training modules on the Ads for Authors course from Mark Dawson’s Self Publishing Formula. Just the other day, I took another tentative step into Facebook advertising. I’ve tried it previously with little success, but this time, I have a clearer idea of what I should be doing. I’ve also finished the module on using Instagram as a marketing tool; I now realise that, as is often the case, quantity is preferable to quality and will be taking a close look at both my followers and those I follow. I’m even considering splitting out into two accounts, one for fiction and one for non-fiction, but that’s not definite yet.
I finally got my thrillers up on the Kobo platform directly, as opposed to via a distribution site. It was a straightforward process, and I’m going to be putting most of my other books up there fairly soon. At the moment, I only have one book in KDP Select, and I’m using that to practice using Amazon’s marketing tools.
My year of research in preparation for writing the next novel seems to be flying by. I am currently steeping myself in the history of the Romanovs (where the sexual exploits seem to take up more time than the politics), reading some of the classic Russian novels, and reacquainting myself with the mechanics of time slips. All great fun – and I love the fact that I can sit with a book in front of the fire and swear I am working. When I was studying screenwriting during the MA course, I was able to watch movies during the day without feeling guilty – and this is just the same.
Out and About
I’ve not done any outside gigs this month, although there are a couple of interesting ones coming up in the near future. However, I have been visiting in the ether. Friend and fellow Swanwicker, Val Penny, played host to me on her Book Review blog, where I answered her five writing questions. And I forgot to mention last month that I visited Anne Cater’s wonderfully titled Random Things Through My Letterbox to talk about my writing day.
Planning for Chudleigh Literary Festival, on Wednesday 10th July, continues apace. Our second guest speaker will be Devon-based historical author, Michael Jecks. I’ve heard Michael speak before and know it’s going to be a great evening. Hopefully by this time next month, the programme will be up on the website and I will be able to share the link with you all.
The dates for the Exeter Literary Festival have been confirmed as 7th to 10th November. I am the official fundraiser for this year’s event, so if I go quiet at some point, you will find me buried under a pile of grant application forms or over on the crowd funding site.
One final reminder about the Exeter Writers’ Short Story Competition which closes this Thursday, 28th February. There’s a new first prize of £700; prizes of £250 and £100 for second and third place; plus an extra £100 for the highest placed Devon writer
Writers Are Readers Too
I mentioned earlier on that I am reading time-slips novels at the moment. And this month’s recommended read is one such. I came across Canadian Steve Moretti via a joint promotion he was taking part in with Georgia Rose from UK and US author, Kathryn Wise and I was immediately drawn to this sumptuous cover.
I read Song for a Lost Kingdom (Book 1) in just over a day and loved every word of it. It tells the story of twenty-first century musician, Adeena Stuart, and eighteenth century noblewoman, Katharine Carnegie, two women connected by the antique Duncan Cello and a mysterious piece of music. Each time Adeena plays the piece, she is drawn back into Katharine’s world. Gradually she realises there is a major wrong she must put right.
The book is well researched. I would hazard a guess that Moretti has a musical background, which allows him to include just the right level of technical detail in the orchestral sections. His descriptions of Scotland in the 1740s and the lead up to the Battle of Culloden are effective and enthralling. I can’t wait to read the rest of the series.