Leo Tolstoy once wrote that ‘spring is the time of plans and projects,’ but actually, so is January.
I’ve spent the first weeks of the new year easing myself back into writing, and making plans for the year ahead. After a low spell at the end of 2021, I’m entering the new year feeling creative and focused. Much of this was fostered by a social media blackout over the Christmas holidays – a consequence I’m trying to bear in mind as I switch my social media back on. I shared my thoughts on social media and my author work in this blog, and in a more personal sense, in this post on Instagram. I find myself happiest when I’m creating and curating – and allowing the time and attention those things require.
So, for now, I plan to focus more on the things that feel really creative for me – my books, short stories, poems, articles, this website – and a bit less on social media.
And with that in mind, onto those plans for 2022.
Much of the early part of the year for me will be about doubling down on work I’ve already done – my two books and a smaller project which should come to fruition before the summer. In terms of my existing novels, that will be about promotion and distribution – tasks aimed at widening the audience for my books. To date, my novels have only been available through local outlets and on Amazon, but in future I hope to broaden that to include libraries, as well as bookshops in other areas. That will involve doing some work to enable distribution via places like Ingram Sparks, and wholesalers who sell to bookstores. Resources like Mark Dawson’s Self Publishing Formula and Joanna Penn’s Creative Penn website have proved valuable in getting to grips with this. If you know of any other useful resources for independent authors, do let me know!
In terms of new books, I have two projects I could (re)turn to – a half-written coming of age tale, and a place-driven memoir based around a period of poor health a few years ago. I’m not sure that either of these will be completed this year, but once I finish work on a couple of other things (more on that in a moment), I plan to go back to my daily practice of writing on a book project for up to an hour a day using the Pomodoro technique (explained further in this post). Which of these projects I’ll choose remains open for now (do let me know if you think either sounds intriguing). The good news is, I already have 35,000 untended written words out there, which feels comforting.
Or at least, much less difficult than starting from a blank page.
SHORT STORIES, POEMS, MAGAZINES, COMPETITIONS & BOOK CLUBS
At the moment I’m writing a short story for a competition. This feels good to me, as it’s the first time I’ve created something new for quite some time. The end of last year was tied up with the mechanics of book editing and production, which led to me feeling a little weighed down and lacking in imagination. I’m enjoying writing something new and different, and hope to identify more writing competitions to enter as the year goes on.
I’m also planning out pitches to magazines, and hope to submit at least a couple of articles for consideration before the springtime. I’d also like to write more poetry (having not written any since the publication of this poem). In addition, I’d like to connect with book clubs who might be interested in reading my novels (do let me know if you are a book group interested in YA folklore-themed fiction). As a side project, I’ve also agreed to be a beta-reader for a first-time author – so I will be doing a bit of extra reading of my own.
PODCASTS, EVENTS AND SPEAKING
This year, I’d love to appear on a podcast talking about my novels, and the folklore behind them. Part of this is about gathering experience – the other is about engaging with new audiences to promote the books I write. I already have one speaking engagement lined up for the spring, and hope to be involved in this year’s John O’Groats Book Festival (and other events which emerge as the year progresses).
If you are involved in a podcast or other event that involves authors, do feel free to get in touch.
SCOTLAND’S YEAR OF STORIES
Naturally, I can’t wait to be involved in Scotland’s themed Year of Stories. Helpfully, my books fit in quite well with this – at their roots, Castles of Steel and Thunder and Pieces of Sky and Stone are about the power of stories in our lives. Plans are afoot in Caithness to showcase the rich storytelling tradition of which we are so proud – I hope to be a part of it as more detail emerges.
Stories were the things of memory and future. Stories were the things that told her who she was.Gail Anthea Brown, Pieces of Sky and Stone
Finally for this year, I hope to focus more closely on my newsletter. One of the things I learned from my recent book launch is that while posting on social media is great, it’s subject to all sorts of influences like algorithms, timing, and post reach.
I mentioned last time that I hadn’t quite secured an engaged audience on my newsletters. This was a disappointment to me – I’d obviously like to think that the people who sign up to my newsletter feel invested in my writing – people who look forward to my articles and books. Going forward, I want to make sure my newsletter feels valuable (rather than me just saying ‘here’s my new book’, which I may previously have been guilty of). So, over the coming months I plan to develop my newsletter into more of a readers’ club, where I share news on my life as an author, details of my books, writing and reading inspiration, and snippets of life here in Caithness.
If you’d like to sign up, you’ll receive a FREE short story, written by me, on the theme of a lost teddy I spotted on a walk once. Just fill in the boxes at the end of this post, hit subscribe, and you’ll receive the story right away.
So for now, those are my plans and my projects.
Now tell me, what are your plans and your projects for 2022?