It feels like 2013 has been a wild ride, as far as my writing is concerned. I’ve taken several writing classes this year and I can tell my story telling has improved considerably. I’ve settled into blogging twice per week, on Monday and Friday. That rhythm works for me and I don’t feel like I’m spamming my followers. So here’s how I did.
As far as I can tell I wrote a Flash Fiction Friday story every week and updated my Blog and Facebook Fan page (both titled ConniesRandomThoughts) weekly. I added a monthly blog post for the Forward Motion site called Merry-Go-Round blog. My post is the 18th of every month. I missed one of those as well.
I started the Y2N class (2 Year Novel) with Lazette Gifford and kept up the weekly lessons until November when the National Novel Writing Month and then the holidays knocked me off track. I’m behind about 8 lessons right now so it’s still possible for me to catch up.
I outlined short stories for May Story A Day challenge. The challenge for this year was to write ten short stories. I managed six last year. I finished the May Story a Day challenge with 12 stories. Not every one of them was a gem but I’ve set them aside to fix them up and publish them. On short stories, I’ve been writing them all year in addition to the Flash Fictions and novels.
In addition, I began revising my November 2012 NaNo story, TriPoint Station. I had to rename it: Gulliver Station, Hard Choices and began outlining the first book in the series, Gulliver Station: A New Start, in Scrivener. The series continues with The Challenge, drafted in July and Revolution, drafted in November.
I struggled with Scrivener. I’m still a beginner and am pretty sure I’m not using a fraction of the tools available to me in the program. Other programs I’ve learned this year are Gimp and SketchUp. The last two I use to make my own book covers. Thank goodness my husband loves to take pictures. His pictures are used on my covers.
I also wrote, How To Design an ebook Cover. That became my Vision submission for August. My submission in December to Vision was, Gerunds, the -ing words. Funny story. The Gerund article came about through a short story critique. One critiquer mentioned that I used too many gerunds. High School English class was a long time ago. The research I did to fix that problem became the article. Thanks to the critique, my writing is now stronger.
My goal for 2013 was to publish 4 books. I epublished, A Trio of Animal Tales in January. Recall revision was finished in February! I decided to self publish. I published it May 27th. I continued to revise stories for a collection I called Halloween Tales and wrote a fifth one so there would be 5 stories in the book. Release was the 30th of September. I released Christmas Tales November 17th. It was a little stressful, releasing a book in the middle of NaNo but I managed to get it done.
My story After The Storm was rejected by Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show magazine so I submitted it to Asmiov’s Science Fiction and Fantasy magazine, where it was rejected also. I entered a Scribophile contest with Generation Bug and was not selected as the winner but I had enough confidence in the story to enter it in the Writers of the World contest for the 3rd quarter. I did not win. I sent Where the Brown Things Are to WotF (World of the Future: a science fiction magazine that has a quarterly contest to select the best stories for the mag.) I wasn’t supposed to find out until January if I won but they worked fast and I found out I was not accepted in December. Sigh. I’ll try and write something to submit in January. I submitted a story, The Reunion, to a contest held by the Southwest Authors. I found out in October that I did not win that one either. I still haven’t heard back from the Tucson Festival of Books (The Reunion) or the Arizona ONE-BOOKAZ Goes Digital eBook Writing Competitions (Generation Bug) on my submissions. I’m going to cross my fingers. I also have Someone Else is Living Here out to the Writer’s Digest Short Short Story Competition. I’ll hear from them in February 2014.
On a positive note, I submitted a short story, Dogs and Cats, to the Forward Motion site, http://www.fmwriters.com/zoomfm/, for their 2013 Anthology, Cats Eyes. The story was accepted and came out in September. https://authorcentral.amazon.com/gp/books/book-detail-page?ie=UTF8&bookASIN=1493638475&index=default
My story, Just Add Copper, was submitted to the How To Think Sideways Anthology, The Adventure of Creation, and accepted in June. The anthology was published in mid-August. Some great short stories in various genre’s by some great authors. http://www.amazon.com/Adventure-Creation-Foreword-Sideways-Anthology/dp/3956810007/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1378051491&sr=1-1&keywords=The+Adventure+of+Creation
I participated in the April Camp NaNo and wrote the first draft of Gulliver Station: A New Start. I’ve signed up on a different site, http://julnowrimo.com/ for my July efforts. Several of my Forward Motion friends love the site so I thought I’d try it out for the next book in the Gulliver series. The big news in November, was of course, National Novel Writing Month (NaNo for short). I drafted out the last of the Gulliver Station series, Revolution.
I signed up for and completed a Holly Lisle Flash Fiction course. That generated 5 flash fiction stories for May Story a Day. Lazette Gifford’s SciFi Class was not announced, so that goal was deleted. I listened to a webinar with Guy Kawasaki, hosted by CreateSpace. The seminar, How to Sell More Books with Social Media ran 1hour and 13 minutes. It’s on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=135KGCLqC6Q The third class of the year was, Mugging the Muse by Holly Lisle, https://howtothinksideways.com/. I learned a lot about myself and how to write better. If you’re a new writer or an experienced author, check out her courses. Some are even free! The fourth class was on marketing for my books. I looked at some free training video’s by Jeff Walker, recommended by Holly Lisle. I was not able to take his course. But, based on the free information he published, Holly put together an author-centric, free, self-monitored course on marketing. Which resulted in a Holly Lisle class she calls, The Ugly Baby Workshop, a marketing type course. One of the items in that challenge is to release a book. My Christmas book was that project. The course is about how to do a new product launch, so the book and the below domain name are part of that launch.
I joined the July promotion on Smashwords.com with my book, Recall. It was a month long promotion, free to download. It was downloaded a lot, which was encouraging. The hope was they’ll like the book enough to come back and buy one of my other books. At the end of December, I haven’t seen that happen. Something to consider for 2014.
Using the Guy Kawasaki information from July, I began a marketing campaign to post regularly, twice per day on Twitter (@ConnieCockrell) and Google+. That’s been going well. I find something fun or interesting or cute or about my book(s) or someone else’s book coming out and post. In December I began making a late night post, 9 or 10pm that may reach the Asian market. Who knows if getting my name out there will generate sales, but a Google+ and a tweet only take a minute or two. I’ll see over the next few months if anyone from the Asian region begins following my blog or Facebook page.
Based on the marketing classes I took some steps to improve my professional presence. I took the plunge and bought a domain name and set up my own publishing house: 2ndWindPress.com. What was exciting was filling out the on-line form. It asked for my organization and my position. I, with more than a bit of a thrill, typed in 2ndWindPress and Publisher. I know, I’m easily entertained, but my heart actually beat faster.
I went to the local Chamber of Commerce and got my Doing Business As (DBA) form. How did this affect me? I have a nifty logo and publishing house name to add to the spine of my books. It sets me up as a professional. It confirms that I’m serious about my writing and getting my books published.
I made quite a few changes to my blog as part of my new marketing plans. I changed the background color from boring gray to a more festive Autumn color. I added some new links to friend’s blogs and a sign up for a newsletter for my fans. Followers get first dibs on any promotions, book announcements, and other information. They can go to the button on the right side of the blog or go to my Newsletter tab to sign up. To make that happen I had to sign up for Mail Chimp. I also updated my Google+ page and my Twitter account. If you aren’t a follower or friend on those sites I’m looking to build my communities there as well.
Late in November I took on a Chuck Wendig challenge on his blog, www.terribleminds.com. Participants write a 200 word section of a story each week. The first week you create your own 200 word beginning and post it. The next week one or more participants pick a beginning not their own and add another 200 words. By the end of week 5, each participant will have worked on 5 different stories in 200 word increments, making a 1000 word finished story. I participated each week. I posted each story on my blog in the Friday Flash Fiction spot. I plan on going back to the Chuck Wendig site and find the completed stories I contributed to and post them on my blog in January.
This has been a long post. I’m actually surprised at the number of classes I’ve taken (5) and stories and books written and released. (1 novel and 3 collections published and over 96 stories and novels written). It’s been a full and fruitful year. I hope yours was too.
I wish you all a very happy, productive New Year!
Don’t forget to sign up for my newsletter where you’ll get first dibs on any promotions, book announcements, and other information. Go to the button on the right side of the blog or go to my Newsletter tab to sign up. http://conniesrandomthoughts.us7.list-manage.com/subscribe?u=8c24bb15bdf9245512f722298&id=0a097feea0
I have an in depth interview on my Smashwords Author page. You can read it here: https://www.smashwords.com/interview/conniecockrell Don’t see information about me you’d like to know? Leave me your question in my comments and I’ll try to answer it.
Links to Christmas Tales and which will lead you to my author page on each site where my other published work is available:
Apple: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/christmas-tales/id761282885?mt=11Kobo: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/christmas-tales-3
Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/christmas-tales-connie-cockrell/1117497310?ean=9781494200572