July in review

July has been such a busy month! All through 2017, I’ve been getting that feeling that time is flying by, passing too quickly. July has been different. It’s the last day of the month now and the first day feels like it was forever ago.

This month, I had three major missions. The first was Camp NaNoWriMo. This is the second time I’ve taken part and I really enjoyed it. I now also have the first draft of my next novella, Car Thieves, and am looking forward to starting to edit it.

The second major mission was launching my first novella (written during April’s Camp NaNoWriMo), Stone Flowers Grow In Cold Places. This was a pretty scary thing to do, but over 200 people have read it in the last couple of days which is really exciting for an unknown author publishing their first book through their own little website and two online publishing platforms they’ve only been using for a few months! I’ve had some really positive feedback, both for the book itself and for finally publishing a thing, and it’s been trending on Tablo since a couple of hours after I posted it, which feels incredible.

The third big thing was launching my Patreon.  This was scarier than launching the book and even though I’m still very much at he beginning of my Patreon journey, I’m super excited that I’ve had some monthly pledges already. David, Peter, Spitfire, David and Roberta – thank you, you lovely, supportive people!

This month, I posted two things here on my blog that I was really nervous about posting. The first was ME and me: Living with Myalgic Encephalomyelitis and the second was Five things I learned from living with a chronic illness. The reason for the nervousness was that I don’t talk about this stuff in detail online very often so it felt huge to open up about something that affects every area of my everyday life. The response to both of those posts was amazing and I am endlessly grateful to everyone who commented and shared the links on social media. As unnerving as it is to know that literally thousands of people had seen those very personal posts, it also feels really good to know that I’ve helped people to learn about an illness they either hadn’t heard of before or didn’t know very much about.

I also shared a second vlog on my YouTube channel, thanks to my wonderful friend Nicole who loaned me a camcorder so I don’t have to use the front-facing camera on my phone to make videos! I haven’t done much on YouTube since launching the channel a couple of months back, but I do intend to make more videos, hopefully when I don’t look completely exhausted and am talking a bit more coherently than I’ve managed in the two I’ve uploaded so far.

Final July thing – our back garden is almost finished! I take basically no credit for this because it’s all been my husband’s hard work, although I did do lots of driving around with a car full of wood and turf. All the raised flowerbeds are built, the lawn is an actual lawn rather than a patch of grass and a patch of mud, and we’ve started thinking about what plants we’re going to get. My strawberry plants finally got to move out of their pot on the bedroom windowsill and into their new outdoor home (see photo above). When my friend Robin gave me those plants, they were tiny stems with a couple of leaves, but they’ve grown up beautifully and I’m so excited about being able to eat my own strawberries grown in our garden.

The last day of the month feels like a new beginning. Yesterday, I was hit with a big blast of meh, the kind that happens when you finish a bunch of stuff you’ve been working on. This morning, the meh had mostly lifted and I felt excited and happy again. I spent some extra time at my altar this morning then smoke cleansed the entire flat and garden. As soon as I’d finished smoke cleansing, it rained for about five minutes – the perfect thing to wash away the last of the meh (and help the new turf bed in).

I’m looking forward to what August brings, beginning to edit Car Thieves, finding out more about how to promote my Patreon and enjoying the rest of the summer. I hope you’re having a wonderful summer (or winter, for my friends in the southern hemisphere) ❤


You can visit my Patreon here. If you’d like to make a one-off payment without a monthly commitment, or add a bonus on top of your existing monthly Patreon pledge, you can do that simply and securely through PayPal.

You can now support my writing on Patreon

With Patreon, you have the power to change the face of publishing by directly supporting creators and forging meaningful, personal connections with writers whose words inspire you.

Visit my page >>HERE<<  to find out more, including all about the awesome rewards you can get for becoming my Patron.

Why Patreon?

Anyone can read my books and short stories for free on any device. I’d like to keep it that way because I believe the joy of reading is for everyone and should never have fences built around it. It’s deeply important to me that my work is consistently accessible to people who can’t afford to buy books (I’ve been there) and that people can discover my writing without having to make an up-front payment before they know if they’ll get a kick out of my words.

Patreon allows readers who enjoy my work, would like to contribute financially and are able to do so, to support me as a writer. Viewing everyone I connect with as a sale-in-the-making and constantly bombarding people with repetitive selling messages on social media doesn’t sit well with me as a creator. Neither does begging people to read my work just so they can leave a review on Amazon or Goodreads so I can sell more things. With Patreon, I have the potential to earn an income without sacrificing my personal values, and without being that person whose endless “buy my book” posts turn your Twitter feed into one long, horrible advert. That’s not who I want to be and I’m pretty sure it’s not what you want to see.

How you can support me

There are two ways in which you can support me as a writer, detailed below. You are welcome to choose the one that suits you best, or use both in combination if you prefer. Patreon’s FAQ does a really great job of explaining how pledges work. You can read the section specially for Patrons here, so definitely check that out if you have any questions.

Become my Patron
If you don’t speak fluent Patreon yet, a Patron is something who pledges to support a creator while they create – much like any patron of the arts! Monthly pledges allow me to have a regular, reliable income while I write for you. By pledging a monthly amount, you can enjoy all the lovely things listed in the Rewards section (a bigger pledge means even more awesome rewards!) and bask in the warm, fuzzy glow of knowing that you’re directly supporting the creator of stories you love. To make a pledge, just follow these simple instructions, provided by Patreon to make the process super easy!

Make a one-off payment
If you’d like to pay for a short story, collection or book you’ve read without making a monthly commitment, or would like to add a one-time bonus on top of your existing monthly pledge, you can do that simply and securely through PayPal.

What do you get in return?

Depending on how much you pledge, you can get access to updates about current and future work, your name listed on my website and in books I publish, character profiles and other behind the scenes stuff that isn’t published anywhere else, exclusive question and answer sessions, early access to new work and even the opportunity to influence future writing projects!

Through Patreon, I invite you to join my community and share this creative adventure with me! ❤

Read online or download my latest book for free

My latest novella, Stone Flowers Grow In Cold Places, is out now. Read online or download to read on any device – all completely free!

When a robbery takes an unexpected turn, part-time criminal Andie Valentine is forced to make a difficult choice: dive deeper into a dangerous but lucrative world or escape to a new beginning, abandoning her home in Edinburgh and her last connection to the girl who changed her life and shattered her heart.

Read online for free on Tablo or Wattpad

Read on Tablo >>HERE<< | Read on Wattpad >>HERE<<

  • You can read on Tablo and Wattpad in any browser on any device.
  • Wattpad also has a fully-featured, completely free, Android and iOS app.
  • Tablo has a fully-featured iOS app and a more basic Android reader app. Both are completely free.

Download for free to read on any device

Download your choice of ebook file >>HERE<<

Simply click the link above to visit Ge.tt, a safe and secure file hosting service, and choose which file type best suits your reading app or device.

 

You can visit my Patreon here. If you’d like to make a one-off payment without a monthly commitment, or add a bonus on top of your existing monthly Patreon pledge, you can do that simply and securely through PayPal.

Keep scrolling for my latest blog posts! ❤

Camp NaNoWriMo winner: I did the thing!

Today, I validated my July Camp NaNoWriMo project. For those of you who don’t speak fluent NaNo, that means I copied my novella draft into a little box on the Camp website and it checked my word count to make sure it was the same as, or more than, the goal I’d set myself for the month.

If you hit, or beat, you goal, you’re considered to be a winner. As I talked about when I finished my April Camp NaNo project, that terminology struck me as strange to begin with because it’s not a competition. But it is an achievement. It is a thing you work your ass off to do. Sometimes, it’s a battle with writer’s block. So when you complete it and hit your target, damn right you won!

I’m ridiculously excited to announce that the first draft of Car Thieves has a total of 20,092 words. Editing will begin within the next month or so, once I get Stone Flowers Grow In Cold Places published and launch my Patreon (within the next two weeks, for reals!).

I’m seriously considering doing NaNoWriMo in November. It scares the crap out of me because it’s 50k words, but I have this rule where if something terrifies me, I should at least try to do it. I have a concept in mind already (I know, shut up). In its current form in the back of my brain, it’s somewhere between a novel and an anthology, with chapters as a collection of connected-but-could-also-stand-alone short stories. That’s as much as I’m saying about it for now because it really is only a tiny little seed of an idea, but it’s growing 🙂

Inspired Escapism, a flash fiction collection now on Tablo and Wattpad

Inspired Escapism, a collection of flash fiction on the theme of self-discovery and exploration, is now available to read for free on Tablo and Wattpad. It includes the following stories…

Heartbled And Soulrisen
At an airport
“She may have armed her horsemen but no-one burns bridges like I do, so I raise a silent toast to her apocalypse and hope she spends her thirty pieces of silver on something that matters more to her than I ever did.”

The Mariana Trench And Everest
On a boat
“They say you aren’t supposed to be able to die in dreams, but I did. Every night I drowned in my dreams and every day I drowned in reality.”

What Did You Expect From Drugs and Holidays?
In the middle of nowhere
“I witnessed this shift from one world to another through tears and tinted lenses, wishing I was beyond my burdens and imagining them trailing by a rope behind the car and breaking into pieces on the road.”

Amazon, Smashwords, art and health

For no reason, here is a picture of some ducks.

Cause I’m planning to publish Stone Flowers Grow In Cold Places (the novella I wrote during April’s Camp NaNoWriMo) in the next few weeks, I’ve been reviewing the available tools for doing that and something struck me that hadn’t struck me before. It’s not possible to publish an always-free book on Amazon’s Kindle platform. I mean, this makes sense cause Amazon are about selling things so they’d have absolutely no reason to host books that people are giving away. And I know it’s possible to make things free on Amazon for a specific amount of time. But that’s not what I want to do.

Obviously there are a lot of positive reasons to sell books through Amazon’s own platform but the more I thought about those reasons, the more they felt like reasons to spend a lot of time jumping through the hoops required to be even remotely visible on Amazon’s platform and that’s just not where I’m at. Right now, I don’t want to focus on chasing reviews. I don’t want to focus on getting people to read my books specifically so they’ll write those all-important reviews.

My current art-for-art’s-sake idealism might wane somewhat after a while (it also might not), but at the moment I want to write because I love writing and I want people to read my stuff because they love reading. I want to let people know where they can get their hands on my books because I’m excited about having written them and I hope people who follow me online and enjoy my short stories and poetry will be excited about reading my longer works too. Aside from Patreon (also launching in the next few weeks!) and PayPal available as means for readers to offer financial support if they want to, and are able to, I have a deep, heart-felt desire to keep this pure for as long as I can.

I know indie publishing is a business like anything else and I’m not suggesting for a moment that I don’t understand the necessity for promotion, publicity and marketing, but it sits better with me to focus those efforts on a) letting people know where to find my books, and b) letting people know about my Patreon, rather than diving into the Amazon machine. I’m also not suggesting that people who sell through Amazon and focus their efforts in that direction are doing anything wrong – it’s just not the path that feels right for me to be on at the moment. So I’m planning to publish through Smashwords (which offers downloads in a number of formats, including those used by Kindle!), Tablo and Wattpad only, for the time being.

Something I don’t talk about a huge amount on this blog, apart from mentions here and there where it’s relevant, and in a few pieces of life writing, is that I live with a chronic illness that currently (and, to be honest, probably forever-ly or at least very-long-term-ly) prevents me from participating in the “work this many hours and/or creating this thing by this deadline to determine your financial worth” system. Believe me, if I could be doing a part time job and writing on the side, I would be. It would be SO much easier! But it is literally impossible. And I do mean literally. I am simply not physically able to do the thing, no matter how much I might want or try to. I know this because I’ve been doing it for years and hit my limit a thousand times over.

The reality is that I’ve spent the last decade and a half struggling to work, repeatedly destroying myself to earn a steady income, getting sicker and sicker because I had literally no other choice. Right now, I am fortuntate enough that I don’t need to do that. My husband and I don’t have much money but we can get by without me skimming along rock bottom. A side-effect of living in a constant state of cannot-but-have-to is that it makes me fucking crazy, so I’ve ended up with some pretty rotten mental health issues as a result of my physical health not being good enough to allow me to do the things I had to do. It’s been tough. Like “I would be suicidal if I had the energy to commit suicide” tough.

I don’t want to get into a bazillion details here, partly because it would take forever and partly because I’m trying this thing where I don’t justify my health or my life to anyone anymore. If I say I can’t do something, it means I can’t do something and that’s how it is – I don’t need suggestions, ‘advice’ or demands for evidence. It is what it is and it’s taken me a long time to reach the point where I can express that in words and mean it.

Honestly, where I’m at with writing is that I’ve found something I love, something I have time for and can physically do (I’m going to be very sensible about Patreon rewards to make sure I keep being physically able to do it) and, equally as importantly, something that does not pulverise the sanity that I’m still working hard to regain. I’m not saying there will never be a day when I’ll feel like “Yeah! I want to treat this totally as a business and focus on shifting units, requesting reviews and plotting my potential income on a graph because graphs are awesome”, but it’s not today.

Today, it’s “I love writing and hopefully I can make some money doing it without destroying my physical and mental health again”. Today it’s “I’m excited about Camp NaNoWriMo and about publishing my novella and launching my Patreon”. It’s “I’m passionate about connecting with other writers and readers, and being happy that those are often the same people” and “I enjoy social media and it’s important that I can be myself while marketing my work”.

Today is good. Today is manageable. And I’d like to keep it that way.

Camp NaNoWriMo starts tomorrow!

It’s Camp NaNoWriMo time again! I had so much fun during April’s camp, and it was such an amazing way to obsessively get stuck into a project, that I’m doing it all over again in July.

If you’ve never heard of Camp NaNoWriMo, it’s basically a more flexible version of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). For Camp NaNo, you can set your own goal – words, pages, hours etc – and your project can be anything, rather than having to be specifically a 50k word novel. It runs twice a year, in April and July, and the main NaNoWriMo event runs in November. You can find out more at CampNaNoWriMo.org and NaNoWriMo.org

April’s project, a novella called Stone Flowers Grow In Cold Places, is now fully complete and ready to publish so it’ll be finding its way onto the internet in ebook form, as well as on Tablo and Wattpad, very soon. And I mean very soon. Providing my brain isn’t totally melted from Camp NaNo, I’m aiming to publish Stone Flowers within the next couple of months!

July’s Camp NaNo project is another novella (cause I love writing things that can be read in a few hours), Car Thieves. It’s been in my head for about a decade and although I know the characters pretty well by now, I’ve chosen to write the first draft with only a vague outline. This is totally different from my approach to Stone Flowers and, to be honest, totally different from my approach to everything. I’m a compulsive planner. I like to create detailed frameworks for everything I do before I start doing it. My comfort zone is a very organised place. That’s why I want to challenge myself this month by writing without having my own set of pre-determined instructions to follow. It’s kind of scary but I keep reminding myself it’s only a first draft so if I end up not really getting into this method of writing, it’s not the end of the world and at least I’ll have a draft to work with.

If you want to find out more about the project and meet the characters, I’ve posted the prologue and selections from character profiles on Car Thieves’ Camp NaNoWriMo project page. I don’t usually share character profiles and other background info, but I figured this would be good practice for launching my Patreon (also within the next couple of months) where I’ll be sharing lots of stuff related to projects I’m working on.

I’ll be hyping, panicking and hopefully celebrating live on Twitter and Instagram Stories, as well as updating you all on my progress here, and on Ello, Tumblr and Facebook. It all begins on 1st July!