New Year, Same Insecurities – An IWSG Post

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So it’s the first Wednesday of the year, and hmm…seems like I’m still pretty insecure, so I guess I’ll keep making Insecure Writers Support Group posts.

I already wrote a Goals and Aspirations for 2017 post the other day, so I won’t repeat everything that I’ve said about my writing goals, but given what kind of post this is I will tell you how insecure I’m feeling about the whole thing.

For one thing, when I was going through all my numbers for 2016, I realized that despite actually putting forth some real, major effort (at least in the first half of the year), I actually wrote over 25,000 words fewer than I wrote in 2015. And this is in addition to the fact that I all but quite blogging in the second half of the year specifically so that I’d have more time and energy to focus on writing fiction. That is a worrying trend for me and it makes me wonder if – at this point in my life – I’m even capable of turning it around and moving in the other direction. Or will I just keep dwindling and dwindling until I’m basically writing nothing at all? It’s a thought that definitely troubles me.

Additionally we’ve got the whole self-promotion thing. I’ve never been good at it, but I seem to be getting worse, not to mention running out of methods to try. Changing the cover to “Nowhere to Hide” seemed to help a bit, for a short while, but that influx has long since died off and we’re back to being lucky to sell a book a month. I’ve tried giveaways, I’ve tried contacting reviewers, I’ve tried ads…none of them really did much of anything except for an extremely tiny boost during the actual event and then nothing afterwards. I’ve even sent books off to fellow YouTubers (which was more of a present thing than a self-promo thing, if I’m honest), but while their unboxing videos gave us a spike in subs to the YouTube channel, they did nothing for book sales.

I get that zombies aren’t for everyone, so you’re definitely going to get a lot of people who might look at the book and then just go, “Nah, not my bag,” but I have to be honest, I truly believed that I’d sell at least a few books a month instead of having stretches of months at a time of absolutely nothing, and it’s getting really old. I put a lot of effort into that book, I genuinely believe that it’s good, and I’ve had numerous people who don’t even like horror and zombies tell me that they enjoyed it.

But I just can’t get people to buy it. And it’s infuriating. And, justifiably, makes me pretty damn insecure.

I’ve considered sending it off for the Self-Published Book Awards (by Writer’s Digest) again, but I don’t think I want to waste the money. The last time my $75 entry fee got me a pathetic, four-sentence “feedback” e-mail that basically told me that my cover and summary were crap and didn’t really say a damn thing about the book itself at all. I’ve changed both the cover and summary since then, but the overall lameness of what they consider to be “feedback” doesn’t really put me in a mind to waste more money on them.

And so I sit here, thinking and frowning to myself and wondering what else there is I can try that’s not going to cost me money, because so far almost everything I’ve done has cost me money and I haven’t seen a return on it at all.

Also, just as a final note, I don’t know if this has even occurred to anyone who is reading this post, but if my thought process seems horribly disjointed, half-complete, and generally unfocused, I can confirm that it is, in fact, all of those things, because nothing has changed from 2016 and I’m still always doing fifteen things at once. While writing this post I’m also eating breakfast and trying to slam a bunch of coffee into me since I didn’t sleep well last night, chatting online with a friend who lives on the other side of the country so there’s only a few hours a day we can really catch each other, sending messages back and forth with a fellow YouTuber asking his advice on some things, and obsessing over the fact that I haven’t put away any of the Christmas stuff or cleaned up the basement to make way for all the videos we’re super behind on.

And people wonder why I’m insecure. 😛

July 2015 Goals in Review

amonthinreviewAnother month has come and gone, and frankly I’m a little shocked. Where did the time go? My summer (such as it is) is half gone! Well, some of the month went to parties and other celebrations, some to shopping trips and errands, and a large chunk of it to the day job that is slowly, slowly devouring my immortal soul. July disappeared on me in the blink of an eye – and a fair share of alcoholic beverages – but what about my goals? How did they fare?

Goal #1: Take care of myself more.

There are a lot of considerations to take into this month. First, the month started out in the second week of my last work shift, and it was a bit of a rough one. Between the smoke from the fires in Saskatchewan and a few days of rain that turned the Alberta dirt into a slippery mud deathtrap, I didn’t get out for any runs for the remainder of that shift. I was also eating pretty poorly because, dammit, I shouldn’t even have to defend myself when it comes to Wapasu camp food. Google “Wapasu” and you’ll probably find at least ALL OF THE PEOPLE complaining about the food.

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Then I went home, and things didn’t really get any better because they were some of my busiest days home in ages. In twelve days I drove to my hometown for an all-night bachelorette party, drove home the next morning to celebrate our anniversary with my husband and some friends, spent almost three full days in Halifax shopping and visiting friends, and spent two more days back in the hometown to celebrate the mother-in-law’s fiftieth birthday. And that’s not taking into consideration that I was trying to spend time with my daughter, filming and editing YouTube videos, trying to squeeze in writing and blogging time, and doing all that good constant stuff like cooking and cleaning and errands. So, basically, my days off were a whirlwind of alcohol, fast food, and stress (albeit, most of it the good kind of stress).

It wasn’t until I got back to work that things started to work themselves out a little bit. The weather cooperated for my first week, so I managed to get several good runs in before the monsoons started up again, and according to my FitBit I was successful in averaging 10,000 steps per day throughout the shift. I can’t say much about eating well because there’s only so good you can eat at Wapasu (seriously…ask around), but I did manage to go the entire two weeks drinking only water and the occasional tea. That’s a pretty big deal for me since I usually drown myself in pop while I’m on shift.

So basically the month finished off strong, and now the key is to take those good habits home with me. Wish me luck!

Goal #2. Continue to build my readership/viewership.

July was not a good month for this goal because of the never-ending streaks of busy that I previously mentioned. It was difficult enough as it was to get my blog posts written and my YouTube videos shot without also worrying about tweeting and ‘graming and remembering to post stuff on my Facebook page. Basically the whole social media system just shut down on me this month: I’m even still catching up on replying to blog and video comments because they just piled up so high on me.

But despite my disorganization and inability to add extra hours to the day, my numbers are still rising. It’s a slow rise, but I regularly get notifications for new followers on all fronts. About the only numbers that have remained stagnant are book sales, which is admittedly depressing, but unsurprising.

Goal #3: Write. Write a lot.

With the previous two goals filled with “oh my god I was so busy”-ness, you’re probably expecting me to say that it was a bad month for this goal. Oh, my dear readers, you know me so well.

Except that I’m happy to prove you wrong with this bomb: July was actually my best month of 2015 so far!

I’m not entirely sure when or how it happened, but somewhere along the line I managed to write 24233 words, and over half of those words were fiction in the form of new and revised scenes for Book One of “The Other World”. Because of this truly spectacular (and unexpected) month, I am very close to finishing the second draft of my manuscript, which means that I can ship it off to my beta-reader and get to work on Book Two! That’s big progress for me, and I’m genuinely proud of myself, which doesn’t happen very often and this is totally awesome.

So all in all, thought it had its share of bumps and seemed to have gone by in a blink, I’m going to go ahead and call July a win! Here’s to extending that trend in August!

How was your July? Did you get anything accomplished? Do anything fun? Please share!

June 2015 – Goals in Review

amonthinreviewLast month I talked about how I got all turned around in May as a result of the month having felt a long longer than a month. This time I’m going in the opposite direction and doing a double-take, wondering where in the seven hells June went on me. Between building the playhouse for my daughter at home, dealing with a truly unbelievable amount of paperwork at work, and all the other little things that happened in June, it feels like I blinked and it disappeared on me. So let’s get this Goals in Review post over with before I blink again and it becomes August.

Goal #1. Take care of myself more.

Though there were some good points through the month, I feel I should come right out and say that I failed this goal for June. The month didn’t start off too badly, with a couple of good runs during the end of my last shift, but things got iffy when I went home for my days off. My husband and I were pretty busy with a few things going on, so I got no further runs in and we ate pretty poorly for most of the two weeks. I’d say that about half of the days I was home we had fast food or the next closest thing to it. I did spend two days outside working like a dog to get my daughter’s playhouse built, but in the progress I got a wicked sunburn which didn’t do me any favors.

Returning to work didn’t really help either. The first couple of days it was raining, and as I mentioned before there’s no sense in trying to kill myself by running in Alberta mud. The next couple of days were decent running days, though hot, but then the past four days we’ve been drowning in smoke from the forest fires blowing in from Saskatchewan, which isn’t exactly creating the best conditions for my asthmatic self. Couple that with the fact that work has been running me ragged this past week, and I’m positively exhausted these days, and we can definitely say that June did not end on a healthy note.

Goal #2. Continue to build my readership/viewership.

Again I have to admit right from the get-go that this goal didn’t go so well in June. One reason is that I was just so busy the past few weeks that I didn’t even think about promoting myself. Many days I didn’t even remember to share my blog posts on Facebook, and not once did I think to share snapshots of my YouTube videos on Instagram. I just was not in the game at all.

But the month wasn’t a total loss. I did surpass 200 subscribers on YouTube, which is pretty amazing to me since I’ve been doing these videos for less than a year and I just do them for fun at that. Additionally, despite my complete lack of self-promotion, I have been steadily gaining a blog follower here, a Twitter follower there, and it’s always nice to see those numbers rise, even if slowly. Finally, Nowhere to Hide scored another great review on Goodreads, which never fails to make me smile!

Goal #3: Write. Write a lot.

I was hoping that June would be an excellent month for this goal, but you’ve probably already guessed that there was just too much going on to get a ton of writing done. Regardless, I did actually still do pretty well on this goal for June, so that’s one in the plus column! While down from last month, my word count was still a respectable 15,763 words, which I think is pretty damn good considering the complete lack of spare time I’ve had as of late.

My only concern with the results of this goal for June is the fact that most of those words were blog posts. Now, I have started doing Flash Fiction Fridays and Memoir Mondays as a way to bring more writing into this writer’s blog, but the numbers are still a little disconcerting, so for the month of July I’m going to try my damnedest to make certain that at least half of what I write is fiction, preferably toward my work-in-progress, The Other World. Wish me luck!

So that’s it for me! How was your June? Did you get anything accomplished? Do anything fun? Succeed in grinding any goals into the ground? Please share!

May 2015 – Goals in Review

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The first few months of this year I was suprised at how quickly the month seemed to go by. Strangely, this month it feels as though it’s been ages since I wrote one of these goal review posts. I’m not sure what the difference was, exactly, but for a moment I actually got confused and thought that I somehow missed the last post.

But I guess I’m just kinda losing my mind because we’re totally on track. I’m a few days late because I didn’t want to disrupt “Super-Sale Excerpts” week, but other than that, totally on track. Stop second-guessing yourself, Tracey. Geez.

Goal #1. Take care of myself more.

There were a few ups and downs with this goal during the month of May. On the exercise side of things I spent a good bit of time running around with my daughter outside while I was home, and I’ve gone from a desk job to a field job these past two weeks, so I’ve been easily hitting 10,000 steps a day without even trying. I also bought myself a nice new pair of running shoes, but unfortunately I haven’t had many chances to try them out just yet. The first half of my work shift was strangely cold and rainy, and since rain turns Alberta dirt into the messiest, most slippery mud you’ve ever seen, I haven’t been willing to risk it. I did get a few excellent runs in this past week, but that’s part of June so it doesn’t count for the purpose of this post.

My eating habits have not improved – in fact, I’ve been positively ravenous the past few weeks so I’ve been eating everything in sight. But I did discover that eating strawberries daily is really good for my stomach, so that’s cool.

Finally, the last week of May was a bit stressful because of the job change, and a lot of my time at home was spent digging through the house for junk to throw out for heavy trash pickup, but I did manage to have some relaxing days as well. One particular day we took the little missy and her cousin to the circus and it was an excellent day. Two thumbs up for that one.

Goal #2: Continue to build my readership/viewership.

This has been another up and down kind of goal for the month of May. On the one hand I’ve gained several new followers on Twitter and Instagram, and my YouTube subscribers have been steadily increasing, which is humorous to me since I do those videos just for fun. On the other hand my blog has been pretty dead for the past month. I partially understand why, because I did take it easy on the blog through May as a way to gain some relaxation time, but I’m still a little confused. According to the WordPress stats I have 374 WordPress followers and over 100 email followers, but I’m only getting an average of about 30 views per day on the days that I post. That’s pretty piddly. By comparison, my “Enormous Funko Haul” YouTube video has gotten an average of 100 hits a day, every day, for the past five months.

I’ve been trying to think of ways to make the blog more interesting, but the truth is that anything I could do would require time that I don’t really have. But if anyone has any suggestions, I’d be happy to hear them.

Another good thing? “Nowhere to Hide” has been getting excellent reviews. Between the various Amazon sites and GoodReads, the book now has ten unique reviews – in addition to the two blogger reviews it got a while back – and so far no one has given it less than 4 stars. That’s a pretty decent record so far. The bad news? No one is actually buying the book anymore. Throughout April and May I didn’t have a single sale – hard copy or e-book – and although I reduced the price of the e-book to 99 cents recently to entice buyers, I have only had one sale of it as of the writing of this post. I won’t lie; this is extremely discouraging. I don’t ever expect “Nowhere to Hide” to be a money-maker, but I honestly expected to get a sale at least every couple of weeks. I didn’t think I would go for periods of months at a time without any sales at all. The answer, as many other writers would tell me, is to have more books published and available, but we all know that such a plan is not exactly a quick process.

Goal #3. Write. Write a lot.

Well the first thing to mention is that May definitely beat out April, and by about 9000 words, which is pretty awesome. All together, between blog posts, working on “The Other World”, and other random stuff, I wrote 21,657 words throughout May. That’s a big improvement over previous months, and a bit of a surprise since I didn’t realize I’d been writing that much. The job change I mentioned means that I can’t randomly scribble as much as I used to, and I took a bit of a hiatus from writing while I was home in May, so it was definitely a pleasant surprise to find out that May was actually my best month so far this year.

So that’s pretty much it for me for the month of May. How was your month? Did you get anything accomplished? Do anything fun? Please share!

January 2015: Goals in Review

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I really can’t believe that January is over already. Guys, seriously…where the hell did the month go? I’d almost swear that I was just taking the Christmas decorations down, and here I am coming at you with my first monthly goals update. It’s insanity, I’m tellin’ ya.

So how was the month? Let’s take a look.

Goal #1: Take care of myself more.

Well, right off the bat, I can’t in good conscience claim that I ate well or forced myself to do any kind of exercise, but of course those things aren’t really the staples of this particular goal. I said I was going to relax and take care of myself a little more, and so far I’ve been doing okay. I’ve been getting stuff done that needs doing, but I’ve also been taking the time to play games and watch shows, and I’ve been taking tons of baths because they’re so relaxing. I’ve also been taking a little time to play with beauty products and cosmetics simply because it’s fun and makes me feel like I glow a little, and just today I attended a “tea party” (think “Tupperware” party, but for loose-leaf tea) which is actually unusual for me because I don’t usually leap toward social events. So yeah, I guess you could say that it’s been a pretty decent month for “taking care of myself”.

Goal #2: Continue to build my readership/viewership.

I’ve been pretty busy with other things this month, so I haven’t been working on this particular goal as much as I probably should have, but things aren’t all bad. I’ve noticed a handful of new followers on Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, and the blog, so that’s all great. Book sales, however, may as well be considered dead in the water for the past two months. To help rectify this I’ve set up a “Kindle Countdown Deal” for the second week of February, so if you haven’t read “Nowhere to Hide” yet, you might want to check it out then. I’ll post more info on that closer to the start of the deal. 🙂

Goal #3: Write. Write a lot.

On the writing front I’m a bit disappointed in myself because I have done little-to-no fiction writing this entire month. I did write a small piece for the Writer’s Digest Short-Short Story Contest, but that was only responsible for 1500 words. I had hoped to get some work done on “The Other World”, but I had so many handwritten pages that had to be transcribed that I never got around to writing anything new (luckily that’s finished now, so I can get to the good stuff). Instead, all my new writing for the month of January was comprised from blog posts and a couple of interviews that I did for other sites. That said, the total word count was nothing to scoff at. I ended up writing 20,846 words, which works out to an average of 672 words per day. Not too shabby at all, I think, but I’m hoping to bump that total by at least 100 words a day in February. Think I can do it? Come back at the end of February and find out!

Who Needs Sleep?

Didn’t I promise an update after my all-day traveling-across-the-country write-a-thon. I think I did. What happened to that?

What happened to that is that my days have become so jam-packed with work and writing that I haven’t been able to find the flippin’ time! Oh NaNo, how I love/loathe you.

So here’s the update:

– During my write-a-thon on Tuesday I wrote 1162 words while waiting in the Halifax Airport, 828 words during the flight from Halifax to Toronto, 3728 words on the flight from Toronto to Calgary, and 2111 words while riding in the bus on the way to camp, for a grand total of 7829 words in one day. Woo! That would have felt twice as good had I not been more than 7000 words behind at the time, thus all that effort was just to break even. o.O

– I am currently just managing to reach my word count goal every day. Reasonable, though I was really hoping to get ahead at some point so I can relax a little. Either way, the NaNo goal for the 9th of November is 15000 words and I just hit 15065.

And now, because I’m so nice, here’s a quick excerpt from what I’ve written so far. It’s unrefined, of course, because editing is for December, dammit. 🙂

“What is your name?” Tori asked. Her voice was wavering, but if the other noticed he didn’t acknowledge.

“Jacob,” he replied quickly. “Jacob Ravendale.”

“Jacob,” Tori echoed as she pulled herself to her feet. “I have a very important question for you, Jacob, and I need you to answer honestly and quickly, okay?” She set Jacob with a look that accepted no argument. He nodded. Tori raised her arm, and with one finger outstretched she pointed directly at the rising sun peaking up over the trees. With her voice continuing to betray her emotions with every word, she asked her question: “Which direction is that?”

Jacob looked confused and unsure at first, but when he saw the look on her face he sputtered out his answer quickly. “That’s West…your majesty.”

“West,” Tori whispered, her arm dropping. “The sun rises in the West.”

Jacob blinked several times. “O-of course?”

That was when Tori burst into laughter. It was not a laughter full of humor or amusement. It was a laughter filled with madness. Jacob stared nervously and took a step back as she cried out to the sky, looking for all the world like someone who had just lost the last bit of their mind.