Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Personal Goals for 2019

1. I want to finish my second draft of “Follow Me: Tattered Veils.”  I hesitate to announce this because every time I wish something for my novel, it feels like I stop working on it, but I want a 2020 publication, more than I can say.  I have the whole marketing campaign laid out in my head.

                 - Launch book early/late Jan, when the book begins in real world time, further connecting my urban fantasy to a sense of real world time and place.
                - Post blog/deleted material supplements along with the real passage of time during the first year of sale.  Continuing to reinforce that sense of Roxi and the other characters existing in our world and also providing some nice shorts/extra material for people who like the book.
                -Have a huge sale/set of giveaways in Sept leading into October book climax and have a ton of blog/deleted scenes going into the mega holiday.
               -Work more on sequel,  “Follow Me: the Realms of Gods and Monsters,” because I’m super hyped for that book

2.  I want to maintain my blogging habit, but I am rolling back the intensity of posting.  I really focused July-Dec on getting the NAWG blog up and running and returning to this more introspective blog.  There were great results.  I feel more established as a writer in a community.   This has led to more positive feelings regarding my work, it’s helped me become more organized, and it’s driven me to feel more connection to my projects and goals.  Creatively, I’ve had the chance to pitch small ideas and little quips on Twitter.  Marketing wise: I’ve increased my audience and with the time/tools at my disposal, I think I’ve maximized growth.

All this focus meant: little creative writing could happen and this year I want to tear through “Follow Me” and launch it, so the blog work has to step back.

3. Reconnect with esoteric magic and folklore.  My wellspring for creativity comes from melding the fantastic with the mundane.  And I haven’t been keeping my store of “fantastic” elements full.  I spent a few hours looking up ancient Roman festivals and from a few readings I have five new ideas for stories.  Better, I “took a break from research” and edited 3 chapters in “Follow Me”.

4.  Stop making more goals.  Last year, I had a whole spreadsheet of goals. It was awesome, because no matter what direction I went in, I was moving toward success.  This year I want to zero in on specifics, keep my eye on one goal.  It might mean I don’t feel as successful all the time, but I’m hoping it leads me to seeing my novel completed this year and on the road to publication.

Monday, January 7, 2019

Monday Metrics

image from by GDJ

If you are new, today is all about the numbers, not about my plans.   See the action plans I’m using to earn these numbers in previous posts.  My plan and reflects are on 16 Week Review!  and the steps I’m taking are on 6 Steps for Twitter.

Twitter Analytics

I’ve been active on Twitter for 141 days. In the last 28 days I’ve had 171 posts, 525 profile visits, 64 mentions, and 56 new follows.  

Conversion based on profile views is 11%.  A week off Twitter hit my metrics hard, but I needed the time.  

My engagement is 1.8%. Again, there were no posts from the 24th-1st.  I expect drops in all my metrics.

 post about 6 times a day.  My goal is to sit between 6-10 posts a day, so success!

I received views when I wasn’t posting, but they were under 1,000.  This past week, my daily view count is under 2,000 views a day.  I received 171 eyes per post last week. 

Blog Stats

I got 44 views last week spread across 10 posts and 4 pages.  Currently, I’m catching up on my blog work.  My scheduled posts went out without any photos, so I’ve been adding those.  I’m also adding the new posts to my “Best of Jess” page and I’m reading through pre-written posts I wasn’t sure I wanted to post.  

Three posts a week at this blog and a post at NAWG blog may be too much for me.

The North Alabama Writers’ Group blog has 31 views this past week.  Wish I could take credit for these views but it seems like people are stumbling across the blog and checking it out on their own.  I hope to see repeat traffic.

So talk to me!  What are your numbers?  What’s your social media strategy?  Are you counting anything else in your life and what does success look like?

Still need a number fix?  Compare this week to past weeks Dec 24thDec 17thDec 11th,  Dec 3rdNov 12thNov 5thOct 22nd, Oct 9thOct 1st Sept 24th, Sept17th, or Sept 10th.  

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Finding the Right time Postdating and Predating Blogs

image from by JayNick

For the unaware, you can schedule blogs to post in the future, the present, and in the past.  Scheduling blogs to drop automatically is convenient because I can write everything at once, proofread it, gather the images, and set up on the blog all together.  It lets me keep a stack of planned content at all times, and once written, I can forget about it (excluding promoting it).  

Posting content as soon as it’s complete, is what most people assume is the norm.  I haven‘t polled any bloggers, so I don’t know if people usually schedule content out or if they add it each day.  I used to post my “Monday Metrics” blogs same day, but my work schedule no longer allows for this and I have to write them ahead of time.  

The least intuitive of these three schedulers is to predate blogs.  An unscrupulous person may predate a blog so they can say they “posted” first they can claim their blog has been around longer than it‘s been up and running.  I don’t care for either of these uses.  

Still, I like to predate blogs sometimes.  My “Writers’ Blogs” and “Company Blogs” were both post dated for Jan 1st 2018.  I created both posts in October and I update them as needed.  Why are they posted in the past?  Simple: when I created lists of blogs I follow, they were small and I didn’t want the lists to take up the front page.  I thought of these posts as “reference” posts which would become relevant as time went on but held little value in the present.  Once I had more suggested bloggers, once I had a larger following, these posts would matter, but as things stand, I don’t believe they add value.  One can find them under the “Resources” page and readers I hope to gain will one day find these posts helpful.

Why not just keep the content as a draft and publish when it has more value?  First, I have a hard time finding floating drafts. It’s easier to set a date for publication and I don’t know when these lists would be welcome.   Second, I hold the slim hope that some people find suggested blogs to read helpful now.  Even if the list is small, it may help people connect to other bloggers that hold like goals.  Plus, having a published page creates a place for readers and fellow bloggers to recommend more resources I can check out and this may increase my list.  

I may create a list of books I read in 2017, and I would post date the list to 2017, even though I’m creating the list now (using Goodreads for reference).  

If I ever wanted to create a post defining literary terms, if I wanted to write a list of helpful descriptive words for taste/smell/touch, and so on these kinds of posts would become post dated and exist for me to reference, not showcase at the top release of my blogs. If I ever wanted to create a blog post response for Twitter hashtag conversations, I would date the blogs to the day they asked, not the date I answered the question.  

The common factor with all these posts they are references, not featured content.  While they may hold helpful information, it‘s as an aside, not a main article.  I create them more to build interwoven links within my blog than to be the main feature.

Talk to me!  Do you blog and if so do you schedule posts?  How many interconnected links do you create within posts?  Do you go back to older posts and add links when more recent posts may also relate? 

Monday, December 24, 2018

Monday Metrics

image from by oksmith

If you are new, today is all about the numbers, not about my plans.   See the action plans I’m using to earn these numbers in previous posts.  My plan and reflects are on 16 week Review!  and the steps I’m taking are on 6 Steps for Twitter.

Twitter Analytics

I’ve been active on Twitter for 126 days. In the last 28 days I’ve had 256 posts, 720 profile visits, 89 mentions, and 112 new follows.  

Conversion based on profile views is 15%.

My engagement is 3.7%

 post about 9 times a day.  My goal is to sit between 6-10 posts a day, so success!

My daily view count has lowered to just under 2,000 views a day.  I received 153 eyes per post last week.  I haven‘t used hashtags often and Ive been straight retweeting, instead of adding comments.  Work is grueling this time of year, but I plan to do better.

Blog Stats

I got 37 views last week spread across 8 posts and 3 pages.  I can’t infer much from these numbers because the holiday times may either help boost or hinder my numbers regardless of content.

The North Alabama Writers’ Group blog has 22 views this past week.  The detail break out suggests shows people may be searchingauthors pages this week.

So talk to me!  What are your numbers?  What’s your social media strategy?  Are you counting anything else in your life and what does success look like?

Still need a number fix?  Compare this week to last week Dec 17thDec 11th,  Dec 3rdNov 12thNov 5thOct 22nd, Oct 9thOct 1st Sept 24th, Sept17th, or Sept 10th.  

Saturday, December 22, 2018

The Top 3 Worst Critiques I Get from Beta Readers

Disclaimer: I appreciate all feedback, and there are known pitfalls for me.  My grammar is lacking, I use adverbs, and passive voice too much.  I expect this feedback and it never bothers/surprises me.  Below, I’m listing the three issues common in my writing that somehow surprise/stump me when I’m reminded of them.

Too much telling and not enough showing.

This one only bothers me when I thought I was showing.  I need to hear it since I tell readers what‘s happening announcer style instead of being the camera for the game all the time. What can I say, I like prose and it‘s easier to use them when telling and far harder while showing.  

Not enough action.”  

I hate this feedback because I don’t know how to fix it.  I come up with characters, but I don’t see myself as a writer who comes up with great plots. A lot of my characters reject standard narratives.  Would person x and y fight?  No, I think they’d have a dialogue, realize everything was a misunderstanding, and move on.  A better world than ours, but not one that entertains.  Is that house haunted?  Most of my character would either come prepared to the home OR they would never step foot in the home.    

This problem relates to “telling instead of showing problem.”  My characters are all in their heads, I write a lot of thoughts and feelings down, since I told you those things, I don‘t always bother to have the conflict that shows.  And yeah, I bet readers prefer to read a conflict, but the writer in me seems to prefer to ramble.

The writing is excellent, I just don’t care.” 

That one cuts deep, but I’ve learned to work past the blood to ask “why aren‘t you invested?”  Hearing this is damning because it acknowledges my strengths and weaknesses as a storyteller in one swoop.  I think creating prose in just the right way will MAKE someone as invested as me.  It’s never true, but I keep falling into that way of thinking anyhow.

**BONUS! ** 

I don’t connect with Roxi/don’t like Roxi.” 

I’m painfully aware my main character is polarizing and may lack a certain something.  Trouble is: damned if I know what that something is.  As I work through my second draft, I have to have more care and thought on who she is and where she‘s going than I‘ve put in to any character to date.

Talk to me.  What the worst/hardest feedback you‘re received?  How do you handle feedback?  

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Books Read in 2018: A Review

image from by j4p4n

Followed By Frost”  by Charlie N. Holmberg.  I had 20 pages left to this book when the calendar year changed.  It counts as 2018 but.  I enjoyed this book.  Unknown, I read “Magic Bitter, Magic Sweet” in late 2017 and was captivated by the same lyrical, fairy tale magic in her first story.  Both books link to traditional fairy tale lore while telling their own unique story.  Both stories incorporate romance without making the works feel like a traditional romance and both stories have action and stakes without gratuitous violence or action scenes.  Holmberg’s style and connection to “Deep Magic” got me interested in their publication, that I read this past summer.

Chris from writers’ group wrote an "The Works of the Apprentice" which features alchemy and is published here.  It inspired me to think of what kind of urban fantasy I could take with alchemy in the mix.  This prompted research, and that lead to reading many books on essential oils.  I thought, “if anything in this world could turn into gold if mixed, it would be these essential oils.”  

Essential oils, for those who don’t know, already make a TON of fantastic claims, and it seems one of the few “new agey” remedies that spark scientific interest. I delved into the lore and science of the oils.  Through this I read: 
Essential Oils For Weightloss,” 
"Essential Oils Natural Remedies: The Complete A-Z Reference of Essential Oils for Health and Healing,” 
"Aromatherapy for Natural Living: The A-Z Reference of Essential Oils Remedies for Health, Beauty, and the Home,” 
"The Essential Oil Diffuser Recipes Book: Over 200 Diffuser Recipes for Health, Mood, and Home (Essential Oils Reference Book 1),”
 "Surviving When Modern Medicine Fails,”
 "Surviving When Modern Medicine Fails: A Definitive Guide to Essential Oils That Could Save Your Life During a Crisis,”
 "Winter Collection: Over 150 Lessons To Stay Warm, Happy & Healthy During The Cold Months,” 
"Baking Soda Power! Frugal and Natural: Health, Cleaning, and Hygiene Secrets of,” 
"EPSOM SALT: 50 Miraculous Benefits, Uses & Natural Remedies for Your Health, Body & Home (Home Remedies, DIY Recipes, Pain Relief, Detox, Natural Beauty, Gardening, Weight Loss).”

My opinions on these books like my thoughts on essential oils is mixed.  Do I still think there’s a wonderful urban fantasy story involving aromatherapy?  Yes, but I need even more research to see where this kind of story would/should go.  Do I want to feature a botanist who grows the plants in just the right way or a distiller or a perfumist who has a natural talent that greater than she understands or an actual skilled alchemist potion expert whose main ingredients are these essential oils?  Who would the antagonist be?  What’s the goal?  

Rounding off my “researchy” 2018 book reads, I read plant based pagan books for the more straight magical system elements of plants.  I read "A Green Witch’s Cupboard” and Martin’s earlier book "Triple Duty Spice Rack.”  I enjoyed both reads.  They gave practical information on how to keep dried herbs and spices and they spoke towards the magic/healing that can come from cooking/eating the right foods at the right time.  This appeals spiritually and intellectually as we know the complex interplay of food we eat determines how we absorb vitamins and minerals and whether our body can use them.  I enjoy melding folklore and traditional uses of cooking ingredients with modern research on the two and these books were more about the folklore portion that inspires my creative cooking and storytelling perspective.  

 My reading also included diet and nutrition books.  This January my husband and I went on the Ketogenic diet.  After I’d looked through tons of internet sites for information and recipes, I turned to books.  Health related reads included: 
"The Keto Diet: The Complete Guide to a High-Fat Diet, with 
More Than 125 Delectable Recipes and 5 Meal Plans to Shed Weight, Heal Your Body, and Regain Confidence,” 
"Fruit Infused Water: 98 Delicious Recipes for Your Fruit Infuser Water Pitcher,” 
"The Wicked Good Ketogenic Diet Cookbook: Easy, Whole Food Keto Recipes for Any Budget,” 
"The Easy 5-Ingredient Ketogenic Diet Cookbook: Low-Carb, High-Fat Recipes for Busy People on the Keto Diet,” 
 "33 Easy DIY Deodorant Recipes: for Staying Dry, Feeling Cool and Smelling Fresh.” 

 My feeling on these readings were mixed.  Leanne Vogel‘s book changed everything I ate and how I considered eating.  While I haven‘t wholesale adopted every detail she recommends, I found her willingness to explore how a person feels and who that relates to a diet very impactful and created a more introspective look at my food choices.  The other recipe books provided inspiration and groundwork for me creating my own meals, but I still can‘t keep to a recipe for long.  

Fruit infused water was a fun, casual read.  I drink about 20-40oz of fruit infused water as part of my new year‘s resolution to drink more water.  The book was a passing curiosity.  

Using more natural products in my life and becoming more waste free was a 2018 goal.  I considered making natural deodorants, but this book combined with online research turned me off from that idea.  Instead, I buy Tom’s brand.

Health-wise I also read “Mindfulness: An Eight-Week Plan for Finding Peace in a Frantic World,” and I did the eight-week plan.  The book was a retread of known information but a wonderful refresh course.  I’m also reading “The Highly Sensitive Person.”  No way I will finish this book this year but it’s been a thought provoking and healing read so far.

Most of these books are chosen from the Kindle Unlimited selection.  Nonfiction Kindle books are a strange phenomena because they are often self published and it makes me wonder about the credentials of those who publish the information.  What doesn't help are the links to blogs and websites.  No matter how professional the blog: it's not a scientific study.  I did not care for how many of the same graphics these authors sourced.  On the other side, it did teach me about how a nonfiction book might be used to build a person's name recognition, "personal brand", and sense of authority.  Interesting and scary.

I read and enjoyed “The Book of the Unnamed Midwife” and “The Book of Etta.”  I prefer Etta to the unnamed midwife.  And I will go into further detail in my “Kindle Unlimited” series during 2019.

 “Dragon Ridden” is a wonderful series.  I wrote a post in my “Kindle Unlimited” series that details what I loved and I left detailed reviews for each book on Goodreads.  I’m looking forward to a 2019 release of a fourth book.  Also a cool thing to note: T.A. White writes three series at once and I love how she works multiple projects at the same time successfully.  Since I prefer to work this way, it gives me hope for victory in my writing practice.

I read Sarah Fine’s “Reliquaryseries and while it was a wild addicting ride, I also found the books ridiculous and terrible.  My reviews go into further often spoiler-y detail.  That said, Sara Fine has such a great style in her writing and compelling book summaries I have two of her books in my queue to be read 2019.  At some point, I‘d like to do a deep dive into both what makes her work compelling and what turned me off so much in this series.

I love Annette Marie’s “Red Winter” trilogy I read last year.  This year I read her “Steel & Stoneseries and her “Spell Weaver” series with a more mixed reception.  The first three Steel & Stones are great, but they fell apart after book 3.  There were occasional moments of “Hurrah!” and long patches of missed marks.  I read through “Spell Weaver” because I liked Lyre so much in “Steel & Stone” but this series is a weak step-child in an otherwise much loved universe.  

Marie re-introduced me to the split world urban fantasy.  While I‘ve no intention to write one of these soon, it was interesting to see her take, and it got me thinking about future possibilities.  I appreciate how Marie introduces her fantasy to the modern world across her three series and look forward to scenarios she writes.  

Next, we have “Traitorborn” a follow up read from 2017’s “Secondborn.”  Loved this series and think it may be one of the young adult works for adults to read this year (and next when the third comes out).  Check out my “Kindle Unlimited” write up.  

Continuing in the 2018 trend for series, I finished “The Tree of Ages” series I‘d started in 2017.  One thing I love about Kindle Unlimited is that many authors using this service turn our series books in a fast pace.  I’m never left waiting so long for the next installment so I don‘t have to reread the first book.  I covered this series through my “Kindle Unlimited” posts and it was a welcome addition to my 2018 reading list.  

Cards of Chaos,” is the first book I read because someone recommended it via Twitter.  And it’s an amazing read.  I can not promote this work enough.  It has stunning cover art and complex, deep writing to match.  It’s a shame this work only have 12 ratings on Goodreads with four reviews.  If you like a fantasy with folklore elements please consider picking this one up.  

Jasmin Silvera wrote a sequel to “Death’s Dancer” called “Dancer’s Flame” and it was ok.  I loved “Death’s Dancer” and recommend urban fantasy writers and writers looking to combine magic and motion read the first book because Silvera executes these ideas almost perfectly.  “Dancer‘s Flame” isn‘t as strong as the first book, but it‘s still a good read.  I recommend both as wonderful fantasy escapes.

Matchmaking for Beginners” was a book I read with my mom, and like most books she suggests, it‘s a funny light romp.  I’m surprised I enjoyed it (and I don’t know why since this always happens ^_^). I classify the work as an idea beach read and as a great introduction to fantastic elements seen in more hard fantasy works.

The Last Necromancer” is a book with a lot of promise it doesn‘t deliver on.  I don’t want to go into too much detail here.  Check out my review on Goodreads, or most readers take on the work.

I raced through “Angelfall” and it‘s my favorite book series of 2018 hands down.  I’m looking forward to great things from Susan Ee.  

Elf Killers” is the second book I chose based on a Twitter post and I did not care for it. There is a second book from this author in my queue and I plan to check it out to see if it‘s just the way she went about building a world in this book I didn’t care for or if this is an overall style skip for me.  I can‘t recommend this book, but it has an audience who will enjoy reading it.

I gave up on “Lost in Arcadia” this year and I don’t have a lot to say about that either.  As my review states there‘s too, many characters introduced in rapid succession that don’t seem to have defining traits.  Add to that a slow start, and I couldn‘t make myself care.  

That‘s it, my 2018 reading list.  What did you read this year?  Did you meet your reading goal?  Did you read more fiction or nonfiction this year?  Did you like most of what you read?  Do you have a favorite and a least favorite?  If you could suggest one book for me to read in 2019, what is it and why?

Monday, December 17, 2018

Monday Metrics

If you are new, today is all about the numbers, not about my plans.   See the action plans I’m using to earn these numbers in previous posts.  My plan and reflects are on 16 week Review!  and the steps I’m taking are on 6 Steps for Twitter.

Twitter Analytics

I’ve been active on Twitter for 119 days. In the last 28 days I’ve had 255 posts, 788 profile visits, 104 mentions, and 114 new follows.  

Conversion based on profile views is 14%.

My engagement is 3.9%

 post about 9 times a day.  My goal is to sit between 6-10 posts a day, so success!

My daily view count has lowered to just under 2,000 views a day.  I received 164 eyes last week.  This week, I got into the weeds in a conversation about other’s favorite flowers.  A lot of engagements but not a lot of eyes.

Blog Stats

I got 71 views last week spread across 6 post.  An improvement from last week, but I’m uncertain if it relates to content or promotion of my posts.  I posted three times this week, and plan to post three times this week too.  I hope to replicate the results.

The North Alabama Writers’ Group blog has 26 views this past week.  The detail break out suggests that all my back links are kicking in.  Someone goes to the December Call for Submissions and ends up clicking on our Ongoing Call For Submissions

So talk to me!  What are your numbers?  What’s your social media strategy?  Are you counting anything else in your life and what does success look like?

Still need a number fix?  Compare this week to last week Dec 11th,  Dec 3rdNov 12thNov 5thOct 22nd, Oct 9thOct 1st Sept 24th, Sept17th, or Sept 10th.  

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Reflections of a Writer: Softwares I've Used to Write a Novel

image from by bf5man

I’ve written four and a half novels in my time.  None of them published, but that‘s not the point of today’s post.  Today I want to talk about the different softwares I wrote with.

The first book was one document in Microsoft Word.  I was on an old school Windows 3.1, outdated even then (but ran well and was a perfect distraction free writing tool), and I transferred the novel to our updated computer for printing with a floppy disc.  All my technology nostalgia comes from writing.  Kept a hard copy of my book in a binder and I was the proudest 16yr old you’d ever met.

Microsoft Word was not an ideal writing platform.  It was hard for me to go back to specific parts in my book to edit.  My dyslexia/visual tracking issues are the stars of this gripe.  Going line by line, chapter by chapter, trying to match the hard copy with where ever I am in the electronic document was torture.  Sometimes I think I hate editing because it was so hard to scroll through this massive document, and not because the process is otherwise arduous.

Worse, a massive Microsoft document made it hard for me to copy paste portions to forums, journals, and emails.  I was sharing this first novel because it was the first in a series.  Sharing the work was time consuming.

There are no places in the same Word document to write notes, an outline, or research. Unable to keep all the work together in a single format, I had a separate binder with research, notes, outlines, and journalling regarding my process.   It was yet another syncing issue I had between the enormous wall of text on the computer and the pages in my binder.

 I write my storiesout of order, but Microsoft Word made piece mailing the work together tricky.  At first, I tried using page breaks to section off the story flow from scenes I wrote that needed in between chapters to connect, but this was lengthy and confusing.  I couldn’t scroll to the bottom of the document to return to where I “left off” writing.  Instead, I had to creep through each page, searching for all the breaks.  Frustrated, I reverted to paper and pen.  Here, I’d write chapters or scenes by hand and hold on to them until I’d got to the part in my story where I could copy them into the master document.

Next time I wrote a novel, I wrote each chapter as a separate document and kept it in a book folder.  This improved almost everything and I recommend another using a standard editor keep all the chapters as separate documents under a book title folder.  The single issue I ran into was that the folder is default organized by title or by last updated or whatever, and I wanted my files organized with the first chapter on top and all the other chapters in descending order.  Took me a good year to realize I could force the alphabetical order to do this if I labeled “1 chapter” “2 chapter”.  The sort is by numerical order.  Some difficulties arose because I write out of order and I don’t know what chapter I’m writing all the time.

It was inconvenient when every time I wanted to read from one chapter to the next; I had to open another document.  For a time, I would keep each chapter separate and have a “master copy” with the whole work, but it was too hard to keep both sets of documents synced.  Inevitably I would add edits to the master copy, not copy paste over to the separate chapter file, and then read the separate chapter file and make major changes over there.  Too much going on.

Next, I went to Nimble.  This seemed to solve all problems.  A single document that let me skip to specific chapters.  And bonus, areas for notes and outlining!  I’d long since given up hope on that.  But, I had a new problem: no spelling or grammar check.  Now I had to paste each chapter from the original document into LangaugeTool online.  LangaugeTool should have connected into Nimble, but my tech savvy husband and I could never make that work.  After LangaugeTool, I pasted the work into Grammarly.  Then I had to take the chapter and bring it back to Nimble.  And when the whole novel completed, I bring it all one chapter at a time to Word. @_@. The software said it would transfer over to Word, but I never made that element of it work and had to give up and copy paste by hand.

  On one side, it was lovely to write distraction free.  On the other side, my typing needs extreme help.  During the revisions, I felt like I was reading the work of a third grader.  It made me question whether I could be a writer.  I’d never questioned whether I was good enough to write and publish before then.  It was a dark time in my career where I faced the extent of my difficulties with the technicalities of writing.

From here, I moved on to Novel Factory.  I LOVE the structure and use Novel Factory for even short stories.  The format of Novel Factory pleases me more than Scrivener did.  Novel Factory has a basic spellcheck that keeps me from being overwhelmed by all my terrible spelling all at once. I still have to bring all my chapters over to the web editor on ProWritingAid, but I’m less overwhelmed.

Like Nimble, Novel Factory has space for character profiles and places in my fictional work, but it goes further and allows me to write out an entire story arc and attach pictures to characters/places.  Novel Factory also has space for multiple drafts of the same work, and I can compare two very different edits for some time without losing either.  There‘s also a place to track submissions within the software.

My main gripe is that the italics in Novel Factory do not carry over to Word, ProWritingAid, or Google Docs.  I have to run back through every copy and look for what I meant to italic.  *sigh* Nothing is hassle free for a writer.  At least it‘s simpler to adapt than handwritten manuscripts?

Talk to me!  What software do you use to write your stories?  What do you like about the software?  Is there anything you’d like to change regarding your current technique?

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

16 Week Update

image from by bocian

It’s been sixteen weeks since I started my: “Jess Donegan is Here” Campaign.  Time to see where I hit the mark and where I need to adjust.  Check out my weekly updates starting with 12/10 numbers, 12/3 numbers,  11/19 numbers, 11/12 numbers, 11/5 numbers, 10/22 numbers, 10/15 numbers, 10/9 numbers, 10/1 numbers,  9/24 numbers, 9/17 numbers9/10 numbers9/4 numbers/evaluation, 8/29 numbers/evaluation, and 8/21 numbers/evaluation.

I enjoy my Monday Metrics post.  The format is a copy/paste each week where I update numbers and the “featured posts."  One thing I have to do now that my day job is busier, is I will have to prepare “Monday Metrics” in advance.  The numbers won‘t be as accurate, but I won’t miss a week as I have in the past.  

This December I’m going to run a test on #TellAllTuesday.  This is a blog/twitter idea I had that fizzled early.  I want to bring back a featured post each Tuesday with this # that either shares an element of my plans in detail or reveals something I’m not moving on.

Overall growth on Twitter is good.  I wrote an updated 6 step plan that more aligns with my actions I’m experimenting with audience building through less intense work on the platform.  In October I had 358 Tweets with 70K views and 102 new follows.  In November I had 248 Tweets with 54.9K views, and 88 new follows.  While my views and follows dropped, it wasn‘t proportional.  For every October post I had 195 views and “earned” .28 of a follow.  In November each post recieved 221 views and “earned” .35 of a follower.  I’m spending less time on the platform and increasing views.  Now, I might have needed the rapid heavy involvement in the first two-and-a-half months to bring my “following” high enough I can step back.  Now my goal is to have 3-5 meaningful conversations in the Twitter world every two days (about 9-15 convos a week), to stick to my current post schedule and include one blog link a day, to follow about 5-15 new interesting people a week, and to earn about 20 new follows a week.  I want to do this while only putting in only 25min a day.

This Blog 

1. Added a featured post to highlight what showcases the blog.  This way when people land on my blog during a Metrics Post or an experimental post, they can see other “guaranteed” quality content.
2. Added a “Best of” page at the top of the page and organized all my posts across the blogs into categories from the most interesting to least interesting and I keep it up to date.  This helps viewers find posts on topics that interest them but it also helps me find posts to retweet more.
3. Created an "Ongoing Submissions" page organized by the kind of submission the venue is looking for.
4. Created a "Resources" page it currently links to a list of other writing/publishing bloggers I follow.  In the future there will be more resources.
5. Started a few series in this blog and at NAWG that interest me and I feel will generate conversation long term.
6. I’m more curious and have more ideas than ever to explore and expand blog traffic.
7. I have consistent traffic and it’s a larger audience than I expected

Needs Improvement:
1. Traffic.  Seeing the increase in traffic lets me know I could further push my traffic.  I read an article that suggests “rapid growth” daily bloggers see comes from their ability to reach 100 posts quickly.  I can‘t increase my post rate and I can’t merge my two blogging homes to one, but I can know it will take at least 100 posts with sources, links, pics, and promotion before I see my full growth potential.  We are speaking of   another 60-ish posts to this blog and  60 to my other blog.  I have a year before I see true gains.
2. Self promotion.  I headed in the right direction by increasing links to Twitter, posting to Google+, and sharing on Facebook, but I need to do this more AND I need to interact on some Facebook Groups and Google+ groups.  This will be a slow process.  Twitter time has to come down and then I can explore one of these outlets.
3.  Actual writing.  I have a HUGE list of blog topics.  This update for example, is about 6 weeks overdue I wanted a 10 week update, but ideas and scheduling just keep getting the way.  On one side, it‘s comforting to know I have a mountain of content to cover.  On the other side, it‘s discouraging I have more stuff to pile on and write than I know what to do with.

What I’m Doing:
1. Going through my list of blogging topics and writing them. Special focus on keeping my series alive this includes “Best of Kindle Unlimited”, “Bells and Whistles”, “Be Bold”(only has three installments, two are written and scheduled), “Monday Metrics”, “Tell All Tuesday”,  and “Let’s Get Organized” (Series I haven‘t even started).  I’m looking to touch base with each of these projects once a month until the series reach their natural conclusion.  
2. I’m mapping a series called “Writing Cliches” or “Writing Sins” I want to look at it both from a writing and reading perspective.  Why do these things exist, when do they work, when they don’t work, and what to do instead?  The series would tie in with #writetip and #HorribleWriteTip on Twitter.  
3. Playing with a “Story Time” or “Reflections" style post where I write about different writing tools, phases, and so on I went through.  My Niche Blogging post falls into this category and I wrote a “what softwares I‘ve used to write a novel” that fits here too.  I’m just considering what else I‘d share in this series/title and if it has cross over potential to the NAWG blog.
3. Have shorter posts.  Blogs should be 300-1,000 words.  I fail at this and need to break posts up.  

The North Alabama Writer’s Group blog 

1. Our October flashes were huge successes. please see "The Ghost Strikes at Midnight" and "Halloween Spirit"
2. Getting Chris to take part more on the blog is going well, and he‘s sharing our work. His audience appears more interactive than mine so we‘re gaining more views.
3. My goal with the blog this year was to post once a week.  I managed this goal for 8 of 12 months.  If I can post on my own through December (and I have posts stacked through the 22nd) then I can write all next year.
4. Our audience is more consistent.  Where we would go days without views, most days the blog gets 3ish views.  That’s huge from where it started.

Needs Improvement:
1. More group stories.  Oct’s flash success shows me we need more group writing exercises on our page.  Imagine what a bi-weekly group story could do for our traffic.  Or even imagine if I’d had one more Halloween Flash to share?
2. Group participation.  While I’ve got Chris on board, I want to reel in two more group members.  
3. Sharing, I want to see if I can get our members to send out our blog on their media and in real life when it applies.  I’ve taken first steps (which I am enhancing) but I need more group support/consistency.  

What I’m Doing: 
1. Nagging the group and doing my best to remember what they do is outside my immediate sphere of influence.
2. Posting more on social media
3. Continuing to pump out quality content.  A lot of it evergreen in nature. 

Creative Writing

 I am working on edits to my novel “Follow Me: Tattered Veils”.  I am frustrated because I would like more feedback as I go through this process and no one seems to want to help me.  In pursuit of this feedback, I took a writing class, but it didn‘t work.  

At my writing group‘s request, I’ve posted Chapters 1-3 but only Ashley reads.  Ashley has been thoughtful and intentional in her feedback, but I am looking to poll the audience and there‘s no audience to poll.  Feeling a little jilted here both with where the editing process stands and with the response I’m getting from my writing resources.  I want to consider a beta reader, even if I have to pay for the service, but I’m not far enough along in edits for me to feel like I could produce as fast as they would read.

I’m discouarged because I feel more like a blogger than a creative writer right now.  The need to balance the two kinds of writing is strong, but I don’t see how I can stop writing the blogs and remain consistent.  Maybe as I write more posts, my speed will increase and I’ll be able to make room for both?

Talk to me.  Tell me about your own plans, how are they going?  Is there something key I’ve forgotten or HAVE to try?  What’s the most important part of your routine?  Do you have success on a social media platform I’m not using/considering right now?

Monday, December 10, 2018

Monday Metics

If you are new, today is all about the numbers, not about my plans.   See the action plans I’m using to earn these numbers in previous posts.  My plan and reflects are on week Review!  and the steps I’m taking are on 6 Steps for Twitter.

Twitter Analytics
I’ve been active on Twitter for 112 days. In the last 28 days I’ve had 236 posts, 517 profile visits, 83 mentions, and 129 new follows.  

Conversion based on profile views is 25%. I got included in a Follow Friday post by one of my Twitter friends and this saw a HUUUGE boost in follows.  We’ll have tosee if I can keep these follows in the upcoming days.

My engagement is 3.9%. My change in strategy: tweet less and respond/interact more, should continue to see increases in engagement.  It was a huge surprise to go from 2.1% to 3.9%, dropping off the weeks with a different style of interaction makes a huge different.

 post about 8 times a day.  My goal is to sit between 6-10 posts a day, so success!

My daily view count has lowered to just under 2,000 views a day.  Proportionately I receive 210 eyes per post.  Slight dip from the 216 eyes last week, but I held prolongedconversation on some tweets, the longer you go back and forth, the lesspeople see your tweets, but the higher your engagement is and the more you’re getting to know one or two people, instead of introducing yourself to a group of people.  This is a balance I’m working on.

Blog Stats

I got 41 views last week spread across 8 posts and 1 pages.  I’m trying to stay the course in overall blog promotion.  I’m noticing that I’m heavy in visits on the front half of the week and fall flat in the back half.  That ties back to general exhaustion from work and me quitting to promote my posts.  I don’t know if I can improve weekly consistency, but it‘sgood to know

The North Alabama Writers’ Group blog has 5 views this past week.  The last week of November I tried my hand at writing a more critical work called “Why I Stopped Reading Daily Science Fiction” and it seems that there is no interest from the community for why I might not enjoy the writing on the site. I am trying to evaluatewhether critical feedback has a place in my style.  It‘sa personal issue I’m touching onmore in a later post. 

  My December Open Calls for Submissions didnt bring in interested writers, but it may pick up as the month goes on.  Most open calls are for the end of the month.  

I’m hoping my second post on “How to pick a publisher” may have more traction.   I have some great topics scheduled for the NAWG blog and I’m hoping to see an increase as more discussion and interesting topics pop up.  

So talkto me!  What are your numbers?  What’s your social media strategy?  Are you counting anything else in your life and what does success look like?

Still need a number fix?  Compare this week to last week Dec 3rdNov 12thNov 5thOct 22nd, Oct 9thOct 1st Sept 24th, Sept17th, or Sept 10th.