Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Last minute messages and a very Merry Christmas to everyone!

Thank you to everyone for your lovely Happy Birthday messages - I had a fantastic weekend celebrating both with my husband and my family. On Saturday, me and the Engineer went out for a festive afternoon tea, using a voucher we got for our wedding, and it was amazing!

Needless to say, we didn't eat for the rest of the day!

Birthday cake...mmm...

Then on Sunday, I invited round the whole family (e.g. my aunt and uncle + my parents, sister and my sister's boyfriend) and the Engineer and I cooked a roast dinner for everyone. Originally, the plan was to go out for a meal, but after thinking about it, I realised there was no point in spending extra cash when we're trying so hard to save. So I cancelled that, and invited everyone over instead. I meant to take a photo of us all at the table, but I was so frazzled from cooking (and hungry), I forgot. But it was a lovely meal and it was nice to catch up with everyone - plus, it was a practice run for Christmas Day, because guess who's on cooking duty this weekend too! (In all fairness, I did volunteer for the part...not too sure why now though...)

My birthday book haul - my family know me so well

Anyway, this is going to be my last blog post of 2016. I'm off work for a week next week, but with going to see family and wanting to relax over the Christmas break, I've decided not to blog again until next year.

It's funny - last year, I had this really strong sense that 2016 was going to be my year. I don't know why I felt this way - perhaps subconsciously I already knew it was going to be an action-packed year because we were getting married. But this year we also moved up back up to Cumbria, got new jobs and generally started thinking about the future. I feel like a lot of good things have happened, and I'm so incredibly grateful to everyone who made this year so great. Looking ahead to 2017 though...I don't have the same strong urge that next year will be good, like I did this time last year. That's not to say it won't be - instead, I have this feeling that I'm just going to have to wait and see what happens. I guess I'm just curious to see how it will turn out - who knows what's around the corner? But in all honesty, I'm super excited to see what the future holds.

My last announcement of the day is a bit of a surprise one - I am taking a break from Twitter until the end of March 2017.

I've been thinking for a while that something isn't quite right with my social media. It hasn't been bringing me the satisfaction it once did - I still can't quite put my finger on it, but I think I'm getting closer to figuring out what's bothering me. Once I figure it out, I'll let you know. As for the reason why I'm taking a break until March? I don't know - that date just popped into my head. And if there's one thing I'm swiftly learning as I grow older, it's to trust my instincts. So that's exactly what I'm going to do.

I will still be blogging, but I'm also thinking about taking my blog in a slightly new direction for the new year. So although you may not see me as often on Twitter, I will still be here, writing and taking part in IWSG, and commenting on other blogs etc. I won't have fallen off the face of the earth completely (for now).

That's it from me! Off to stuff my face with all the chocolates and sausage rolls that are filling the office now.

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! See you in 2017!

Thursday, 15 December 2016

Writer's Academy Webinar

I don't think I've ever been so low on Christmas cheer as I am this year. Am I the only one who's just not feeling it? I think personal circumstances, being sick, coupled with an argument with my parents over my birthday (which will be on Monday) means I'd rather not be forced to be happy and cheerful right now.

Anyway, a few updates since I've been AWOL for a while:

First things first - I didn't 'win' NaNoWriMo. But I did write 30,000 words, and to me, that's a win in itself - there's no way I would've written that much in a normal month, so I'm happy. And although my book is still all over the place, I do have more of an idea of where I'm going with it. So that's a plus.

I also attended a Higher Education marketing conference last week - I enjoyed my journey down to Manchester, and although I wish the conference had been writing related (the joys of my day job!), it was actually very useful, and I learnt a couple of things that I think might be applicable to how writers can market themselves as well. I'll try and write a post next week on it in more detail.

But for now, my most recent news is that I attended a webinar run by The Writers' Academy on Monday night. It was called 'Behind the Bestseller' and it featured Jocasta Hamilton, Publishing Director at Hutchinson. There were some really good questions begin asked - and two of mine got chosen! I'm going to share them both with you below, as I found her tips really helpful and they inspired me to start writing again.

The first question I asked was, 'is it essential for authors to have their own website/social media pages before they have been published?'

A: Not really. Think about how you're trying to represent yourself and your book online, and the angle you are going for. If you enjoy it, or you have some kind of experience related to your book and it could be useful to market your work, such as you've been travelling and you're a travel writer, then yes, it could give your publicist something to say/give them them an angle to work with. But it's not essential. If it comes naturally to you and you can, do it, but if not, it doesn't matter.

My second question (and the one they saved for last!) was, 'what advice would you give to a writer who's been writing for years but keeps getting rejected?'

A: It depends on the feedback you're getting. Listen to the feedback you're receiving and keep going. Do it because you get something out of it. Are you sending it to the right people? Check your first pages are really great, and make sure your book is telling a story. Can you sum it up in one line? Can you sum it up in four? Publishing is a matchmaking game, and eventually, you'll find the perfect fit for your work. So if you love it, keep doing it, and remember to listen to the feedback you're getting.

I really enjoyed attending the webinar, and it was so useful to hear an editor saying what they're looking for in a book/author. Plus, I feel less guilty now about not updating my blog/Twitter as often as I should!

Anyway, that's it from me for now - I might try and write one more post before Christmas, but with birthday celebrations happening this weekend, I might not, we'll see!

Did anyone else attend the webinar? Would you attend a similar webinar in future?