2015: Dreaming Big, Setting Goals

ID-100298534Hello my lovelies!

I hope you are having a wonderful winter holiday.

In addition to eating chocolate and spending time with family, I’ve been chucking stuff out in preparation for the new year. There is something about the dead time between Christmas and January 1st which gets my ‘clear the decks’ head on and I’ve filled several bin bags.

I also love the chance to take stock of what I’ve achieved, to think about what I want to do next and – my favourite activity – set some goals!

Some of these are largely out of my control and, as such, fall into the ‘dream big’ category. I’m hoping, of course, that my latest book finds an amazing publishing home and that I have happy book deal news to tell you all soon.

And, if any passing film producer wants to snap up the rights to The Language of Spells or The Secrets of Ghosts, that would also be sweet!

However, in terms of stuff I can actually control…

My main goal for 2015 is to write a new novel but, after reading Joanna Penn’s Business For Authors and doing a lot of thinking during December, I have a few other goals to add to that:

Update this blog regularly. I didn’t do too badly this year, but I would like to consistently update once a week during 2015.

Overhaul my website. I’m moving to self-hosted and I also want to tweak the design.

Send out my first newsletter (and a couple more throughout the year).

Try another format for blogging/connecting with readers. I adore listening to podcasts and would really like to try making one of my own.

Write lots and lots. I’m stealing my friend Keris’s 2014 strategy and am aiming for a yearly total of 150,000 words (her total was much larger – hush now). This works out at 15,000 a month for ten months (giving myself two months off for holidays/fallow periods).

15,000 a month can be further broken down into 3750 per week or, 750 words each work day. That sounds pretty reasonable, but I shall update throughout the year to let you know whether it’s working.

So, how about you guys? Are you setting goals or making resolutions?

 

 

 

2014: The Greatest Hits

Hello my lovelies!

Christmas is almost here and I’m winding down for the holiday (yay!). Before I head off* I thought it would be nice to look back on 2014. This is a completely selfish exercise as, while I’m pretty great at setting goals, I’m AWFUL at recognising or remembering my own achievements and I’m hoping writing them down will help…

So, 2014 has been a good year writing-wise. Most importantly, I managed to finish the Book of My Heart. The latest version is with my agent and, hopefully, she’ll think it’s ready to send out to publishers in the new year.

Whatever happens next, right now I’m so pleased to have completed it. I was scared to attempt the story (frightened it was too ambitious, too emotional) and I’m excited about (hopefully) getting to share it with you guys in 2015.

wintertales

I also had a few lovely ‘real writer’ moments, such as being asked to contribute to the Winter Tales short story anthology (sold in aid of The Cystic Fibrosis Trust and The Teenage Cancer Trust) and meeting Agent Fabulous and my lovely Carina editor for lunch in London.

Also, and I know more experienced authors will be rolling their eyes at my excitement over this, but I was asked to provide a blurb for a debut novel (Arcana by Jessica Leake – go check it out!).

I wanted to help a fellow writer (and was thrilled to be asked), but I began reading the ARC with trepidation: What if I didn’t like it and I had to say ‘no, sorry? Thankfully, I loved it and merrily sent off my mini-review.

Not only was Jessica classy enough to thank me personally, but I got a lovely hardback copy of the book in the post and – look – my blurb!

backcoverblurb

I’ve spent my life scanning the back-covers of books, reading blurbs and recommendations, and seeing  ‘Sarah Painter, author of The Language of Spells’ printed on the dust jacket was truly breathtaking. I can only imagine how I’ll react when (if!) I ever get to hold my own hardback book.

The Secrets of Ghosts coverSpeaking of my own books, my second novel, The Secrets of Ghosts, came out in February, and gathered some lovely reviews like this one from Amazon.com. Meep!

‘I’d been really looking forward to reading this after Sarah Painter’s debut, ‘The Language of Spells’ was released last year. And I wasn’t disappointed. There was the same building of an eery and mystical world around a family blessed (or sometimes cursed) with magical gifts; the same clever building of suspense; and the same deft character building that makes Painter’s protagonists likeable and intriguing. What differed is that our focus is now on the next generation gifted with a much darker magic, and the ghostly rite of passage that the discovery of the power leads to. Painter has plainly done her research well, and I felt I learnt things about the world of magic and witchcraft, as well as just having an enjoyable read. The book reminded me of works such as ‘Her fearful Symmetry’ by Audrey Niffenegger. A great follow-up to a great debut.’ Amy, Amazon.com

As I’ve mentioned before, one of the best things about this writing life is the amazing support from readers, bloggers, reviewers and fellow authors, and the new relationships I’ve forged. Book people truly are the best people. Getting comments like the one above is beyond my wildest imaginings and I’m so incredibly grateful.

Thank you readers!

Right, that’s enough of my waffle. Thank you for indulging me and, as ever, for visiting my corner of the internet.

I wish you a happy winter holiday/merry Christmas, and will be back in the new year with my ‘goals for 2015’ post.

 

*To my sofa. With a glass of wine and a bumper-size tin of chocolate.

Books, Books, Books!

Having finished the latest (maybe final?!) rewrite on the WIP, I’m now free to catch up on my reading. Yay!

Here are the books I’ve been gazing at longingly for the last few weeks…

N.B. This list doesn’t include the books I’ve put on my Christmas wish-list or the pile I have out from the library. Yes, I am a bookaholic, but you guys knew that, right?

mynotoriouslifeMy Notorious Life by Kate Manning. This was featured on Catherine Newman’s blog (I love her writing and have followed several of her book – and board game! – recommendations with great success). Plus, it sounds amazing. Here’s Emma Donoghue’s blurb:

Not just a splendidly page-turning story of an angry orphan clawing her way up in the world, but a gripping docu-drama about women’s business (in several senses) in nineteenth-century America. My Notorious Life gives midwifery its full dues: the glories and the miseries, the feminism and the money, the literally bloody ethical dilemmas. Unflinchingly memorable (Emma Donoghue, author of Room)

provincial The Diary of a Provincial Lady by E.M. Delafield. I think I heard about this book from Sara Manning on Twitter and, as my obsession with the 1930s continues unabated, I grabbed a second-hand copy with both hands.

 

 

goodomensGood Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. The fabulous news about the Radio 4 adaptation of this book reminded me that I’m long overdue a re-read.

 

 

 

businessforauthors Business For Authors by Joanna Penn. I’ve been freelance for many years and have even run my own company, but I haven’t quite made the psychological switch to treating my fiction writing as a business. I really want to build a career/continue doing this full-time, though, so I’ve downloaded this manual to kick-start my business-planning for 2015.

 

minitaurist

 

The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton. I missed reading this with my book club because of deadline-hell, but everybody loved it so I’m keen to give it a whirl.

Progress Update: Includes Stickers!

Just a quick check-in today, my lovelies, but I thought I’d let you know how my November mini challenge worked out.

As I’ve long suspected, the secret to getting anything done lies in stationery…

I wanted to re-establish my morning writing routine during November, so I gave myself a cute shiny star sticker for every time I wrote as soon as I woke up.
progress

As you can see, it worked a treat. I’d set the bar nice and low (twenty minutes of writing at a time of day that really suits me) and, once I had a nice line of stickers, I didn’t want to break my streak.

Plus, I was reminded of just how much I can get done in a short time. Even on those mornings when the kids needed me/the new kitten wouldn’t stop jumping on my hands, and I literally wrote for twenty minutes ONLY, I still got at least 250 words down. That doesn’t sound like much, but it all adds up, and it kept the story live and kicking in my mind.

My other goal for the month was to write (at least) 15,000 words. I’m not certain of my final tally (I had to switch back to my official WIP halfway through and that involved lots of deleting/rewriting as well as new words) but it’s in the region of 16,000, so I’m delighted.

How about you? Did you take part in NaNoWriMo or something similar?