Friday, November 30, 2012

Is My Blog a Success?

Thank you Misha for giving me the opportunity to take over your blog for the day. When I was first thought about the topic Keeping Track, I wasn’t quite sure which direction this post was going to take. I had several options: keeping track of my writing, keeping track of my schedule or perhaps keeping track of my life in general (to overwhelming at the moment to put into actual words).

A couple of weeks ago, I was looking to sign up to be a host on a blog tour. In the sign up process, they asked me the following questions:

· How many blog followers do you have?

· How many views does your blog get per day?

· How many Twitter Followers do I have?

· How many Facebook Friends do I have?

I felt kind of defeated because I didn’t want the worthiness of my blog to be based on the amount of people who actually saw it every day. I mean I put a lot of work into this thing. Doesn’t that count.

Well, unfortunately, for some, it doesn’t. For some, a successful blog is a blog with a 10,000 hits per day and 10,000 new followers every month.

I figured I didn’t have enough of any of them to be included on the blog tour or be a marketing benefit for any new book release. So, I shut down the questionnaire and went to check out what was happening on Twitter.

I am not in the habit of comparing myself to others. I like to think of myself as an individual, but not in a cooler then others kind of way. But, when asked to give my numbers my insecurities got the best of me, no way would I measure up.

Now, before you fill up the comments with encouragement and motivation, no worries I get it now. My thought process was ridiculous and way off.

There are millions of blogs on the web (not sure if that’s accurate, but I am trying to make a point here). In terms of views and followers, my blog has started slow, but my followers increase every week. My post schedule is consistent and I have a few weekly features people seem to like.

My twitter following is good and was built with persistence. I reluctantly created a Facebook profile, which I now love (FB Group are the best) and a Pinterest account. I don’t understand the purpose for that one, but am having a blast utilizing it for my own entertainment. BTW, if you want to comment on something, feel free to comment on the point of Pinterest. 

The time and work I put into my online profile is worth the effort and I am proud of it.

But, most importantly, I ‘ve met some great people since starting my blog. Real people (not little computer friends as my boss calls them) who read my posts religiously. Or at least skim my post religiously. They read my rants, raves and reviews and agree and/or disagree, but, always with an encouraging tone. At least that’s how I read it.

No matter the numbers, I am a successful blogger.

So, I decided not worry about keeping track of how I’m doing compare to others. I’ll continue on in my blog journey with my blog friends and the rest will take care of itself.

I went back and completed the blog tour host questionnaire and my numbers were more than adequate. I liked to give credit to my quality content and not because they didn’t have enough people signed up in the first place.

How do you define a successful blog? How do you measure up?


Twitter: @sydliyah

Facebook: Sydney Aaliyah

Pinterest: Sydney Aaliyah

Happiness, Passion, Love & Faith

Friday, November 23, 2012

Time Management: Keeping Track

When Misha mentioned that her theme this month was keeping track, I immediately thought of time management.

Most writers are not blessed with being able to write full time. We have to balance work and family with that writing time.

And if you're self-publishing (like I chose to do) time-management becomes an even bigger issue. There's no editor or agent to give you deadlines or reminders to keep working. You're on your own.

So how do you make the best use of your time? Here's my list of suggestions. I wrote them specifically for writers, but you can expand this to apply to most activities.

1. Commit

The very, very first step to improve time management is to make a mental commitment to your new schedule. If you don't want to improve your time management, you probably won't.

So start by listing your goals. Perhaps you want to set aside time to write for one hour every day (that's my usual time goal). Maybe you want to focus on reading more. Whatever it is, list your goals, and make a promise to yourself to commit. 

2. Keep the goals realistic

I am so guilty of this, especially around New Year's. I make all these crazy resolutions, like I'll go running for an hour every day, or I'll cook dinner every evening (yeah, right).

Figure out what is realistic for you. Once again, if it's a big change, you're less likely to follow through. Start with one small change (like setting aside 30 minutes a day for writing), and then build up to something bigger.

3. Figure out your most productive hours

I am definitely an early bird. My most productive time of day is 6 AM, when I have the first mug of coffee in my hands.

But I know not everyone is like that. Honestly assess yourself and decide when during the day you're most productive. Maybe inspiration hits during your lunch break. Maybe your best ideas coming after dinner. Make sure you're setting up your block of writing time to coincide with when you do your best work. 

4. Write it down. 

There's nothing like seeing your schedule in black in white (or on the computer screen, as the case may be).

Personally, I am a Google Calendar addict. When I'm not writing, I'm tutoring, so I use Google Calendar to keep my schedule straight. 

I set up a block most mornings to write. The nice thing about Google Calendars is that it will sync up to my phone, so I can always keep track of my schedule.

The other nice thing is that you can leave event notes. For my writing blocks, I'll leave a note with how many words I wrote that day. It helps me to track my progress and keep me motivated toward my goal. 

5. Find a way to enforce your deadlines

It can be hard to hold ourselves accountable, so find a way to set some kind of enforcement for your deadlines.

For my first book, 'Bright Star', I was having trouble keeping myself motivated through the editing phase. To keep myself on track, I booked a freelance editor about 8 weeks in advance. My deadline then became getting through all of my corrections and rewrites BEFORE I sent my work off to my editor. Having another person to be accountable to makes a world of difference.

Don't have an editor? Then set up a deadline with a friend or relative. You can agree to show them a draft of your work X weeks out. Knowing that another person is counting on your work definitely helps motivation. 


This is my favorite step. If you meet your goals (i.e. -- writing for an hour every day for a month, or getting your draft ready before your deadline), treat yourself to something! You've earned it. Whether it be a nice dinner out, a bottle of wine, or some cheesecake (oh, yum, cheesecake), giving yourself a little pat on the back makes it easier to stay motivated to make the best use of your time.


You can find Nickie Anderson on her blog.

Her first book, 'Bright Star', was released November 9th. It is available at the following retailers:

It's bad enough that Sadira Pascal's father doesn't make it home to celebrate her fifteenth birthday. He might be a busy hovership engineer pulling overtime on a new design, but he's always been home for the important things. It's worse when she discovers her father decided to ride on the maiden voyage of his newest ship, the CAS Bright Star, without even telling her. But things really fall apart during Sadira's field trip with her class to observe the hovership launch. Instead of a successful flight, she watches the Bright Star fall out of the sky. 

The Central government confirms her father's death, leaving Sadira to pick up the pieces of her former life. While she struggles with her loss, Private Baruj Haddad tries to convince her that her father and the rest of the Bright Star crew are still alive. At first, Sadira doesn't believe there's any hope. But then she stumbles across a message that makes her think maybe, just maybe, her father is still alive. As she digs deeper into the Bright Star's crash, Sadira uncovers secrets about her father's work, secrets that put her and everyone she loves in danger.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Since it's already Thursday here

Just want to wish all my U.S. blogging friends a happy Thanksgiving. Have a wonderful time with your families.


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Puzzled musings of a writing rebel

I wonder what it is about NaNo that makes people think that drafts have to be 50 000 words long. I mean, I announced my completing a story draft, wanting to share my joy with others who would understand. 

... Uhm... seems I made a slight wrong assumption on that count. Although you ladies and gents who read my blogs are overwhelmingly supportive, twitter and NaNo wasn't as much. 

It's odd. 

Not that the people there were mean or anything, but they keep commenting on my 18k shortfall. Or saying I should do whatever I can to pad the story and win. 

All I want to know is why? NaNo is about writing a rough draft that can be worked into something more. So if I got to that point at 10k, I would have made the same announcement. Or any other number. If I hadn't found the right formula, I would have kept going to 50k. But no. My lucky number for this story was 32k. It's done. 

Why will I mess around with backstory and all sorts of nonsense in search of 18k I don't need? It's a waste of time, if I'm honest. 

It just puzzles me in the same way the issue's cousin has me scratching my head. Why do some writers thing their way is the only way to write? 

It's the best way for them, yes. But why would that give them a reason to look down their noses at every single other method out there. And trust me. There are as many methods as there are writers. 

Why must everyone conform to a single way of doing things? Doesn't that defeat the object of artistic expression? 


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

I will be continuing with NaNo after all...

As I mentioned last night, I finished a draft in 16 days. Which is, if I say so myself, a marvelous achievement.

But... There are still 18k words left before I can win NaNoWriMo and when I woke up, I started thinking. What would it matter if I started on another story? 50k is 50k, right?

So yeah, I'm going to dust off a story I put on the shelf long ago.

Unlike before, though, I won't be pushing as hard, because I can feel something lurking that I don't like.

Fatigue. I'm feeling tired, even though I want to continue writing, so I'll just go on at a somewhat relaxed pace and see how far I get. Especially since this story isn't nearly as ripe in my mind as the one I finished had been. This might be much slower going, but hey, I'll have more than I did before.

Do you also slow down when you feel fatigue coming on?

Monday, November 19, 2012

So it happened again...

It happened again. I'm stopping NaNoWriMo short of winning.


Not because it isn't working right. It's just that...

Well... even when I take years to write drafts, I finish my rough drafts.... unfinished.

There are many reasons for this. Mainly, it's because of the way I write. My process looks like this:

Step 1: Rough draft. Mess around. Meet characters. Find the ones you like. Get a feel for the story. Keep going until the whole idea solidifies in my head.

Step 2: Rewrite. On computer. Creating a plan based on what I learnt during the rough draft. What did I like about the plot? What deserved more attention? Etc. All that gets taken into account. Then I write the whole thing again, remembering the main aspects, but only referring to the story every now and then. Point being to write a better version of the same story.

Step 3: Revisions and edits. Improving the story without markedly changing the plot. Some emphasis shifting can be done.

Step 4: Finishing up. The final polishes before seeing the story as finished.

Of course, these steps are usually subdivided further, but you get the gist.

Point is, I've now reached the point in my rough draft where I've learnt what I can learn. I'm still 18k away from my NaNoWriMo win, but after futilely trying for three days to churn out words, I realized that anything past the point I'd finished on then would be a waste of my time.

Thus, the title refers to me once again having missed the completion of my rough draft, exactly the same way I did with Doorways. 

Oh well.

Anyone else leave their rough drafts unfinished and focus on rewrites, edits and so on?

And just so you know, I finished a rough draft in 16 days. Which is a tiny fraction of time compared to what it took me to finish the same amount of words for Doorways. Excuse me while I go dance. ;-)

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

When the going got tough, I kept going. And it worked!

Just a short message from my NaNo process I thought I'd share.

Remember when I said I had a hard time because the story and characters kept fighting me? Well... it took a week of writing through wool.

It was painful. It was difficult. It was a constant battle trying to find words and knowing what happens next.

Then it was week 2. THAT week. The one where things become more difficult because the story really needs to start going places by now.

I was in a panic about that, because unlike most WriMo's, I didn't even have the advantage of the beginner's thrill. That I'd lost by day 3.

Still, after some encouragement from two ladies I met for a write-in, I decided to keep trying. It was even harder and I started to foresee the onset of Saggy Middle Syndrome. You know the one. Where you have no idea where the story is going any more, so it sags right where it's supposed to be growing in excitement.

I despaired of my hopes to ever win a NaNo, but on the evening of day 8, something wonderful happened.

My female main character decided to take a new course of action. It changed everything. Set up the conflicts, stakes, everything. It was as if the gates of writerly heaven swung open and I could just keep going.

That feeling is still there. I'm so excited to keep going.

I think... Dare I say it?

I think I'll make it.

How are things going for you - NaNo or no?

Missing you all! X

Friday, November 9, 2012

Keeping Track

Keeping Track

Well, to be honest, I’m still fairly new to the whole blogging world… (though I don’t know how much longer I can continue to consider myself a new blogger. Haha)

So, bear with me and hopefully this post will be helpful in some way!

The theme is Keeping Track…and this is so broad and vague I could go many ways with it. I suppose though, I’ll mention what is the best thing for me about keeping track of things.

See, not only am I a book blogger, but I'm an aspiring author, much like our wonderful host, Misha. In my long journey over the last 3 years, I think the best thing is being able to track my progress. I started out writing my first novel only because I thought the idea was finally good enough. I have a ton of ideas, but before that time, I just threw them away, never fully developing them into something more.

But when I came up with the idea for POWER, I thought- This is good!

So I started writing. But I don’t have much time. I have to find time and make time specifically for my writing. Anyways, it took me 2 years to finish the first rough draft of Power. At that time, it was called The Descendant and totaled 50,000 words

Then I strengthened the idea, added more conflict. Had 2 beta readers (plus my mom) read it and critique it. And I added more. I added more love and more character depth. It was 65,000 words.

Then I thought it was done. Until I realized it was still missing something, but I couldn’t figure out what. I knew the ending was sorta anti-climactic… but I didn’t know how to fix it.

Until I realized. I needed MORE tension. I needed something MORE that she would be fighting for, so I added the impending Apocalypse.

Now its done, (at 78,000 words) and I'm almost done with the rough draft of HOPE (the Descendant Trilogy #2)

I think the best thing of keeping track of all this, is to see my progress. Where I came from, and where I'm going!

What about you? What is the best part of keeping track of something for YOU?


Thousands of years after the battle between the angels, when Lucifer was defeated by Michael in the Heavens, the war is still being fought on Earth by the humans who have their Power, the Angel’s Power.
Allison Stevens is a 21 year old single mother who gets thrown into the middle of this battle when Damien, the Leader of the Rising, decides to hunt her down and kill her because he fears she is the descendant prophesied to save the world.

David, a member of the Order, takes Allison under his wing in order to show her the ropes, and hopefully groom her into being the one they have been waiting for. The only problem is that they start to grow more attached than a teacher/student relationship should allow.

But that isn’t all. Damien wants to open the Seven Seals and bring about the apocalypse and it’s up to Allison to not only save herself and her family, but save the world, all while trying to keep her heart from breaking.

No problem… right?

Theresa M Jones is just a regular small town, Texas girl. When she isn't at work at a local Medical Equipment provider,you can find her at home with her husband and two beautiful (and rambunctious) kiddos.

In her spare time- as if there ever was such a thing as "spare time" - she reads and reviews books on her book blog, and writes paranormal romance novels.

POWER (The Descendant Trilogy #1) is her debut New Adult (Mature YA) Paranormal Romance novel.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

A quick proof of life.

Hi just to let you know, week 1 of NaNo has been somewhat of a pain in the neck to get through, which is why I was so silent the past few days. Hopefully I'll either find my stride or quit this coming week, so that I can at least get to some sort of routine that can include blogging again.

What's news on your end? Any NaNo'ers? How are you getting along? And what the heck are you doing here?! Go write!

Monday, November 5, 2012

NaNo doubts

Sorry if today's post comes out reading and feeling a tad... lumpy. I'm currently super focused on my NaNo project, so any other writing is going to suffer.

This could have been my IWSG post, but since I have a bigger writerly concern as well, I figured I could write about this today.

You see... I have sort of started to doubt if I'll be able to get as far with my NaNo project as I did last year. 2011 saw me writing 25k in about ten days before I froze up and shelved the WiP. But right up to 25k, it was frighteningly easy to write.

This year, though, my story took me by surprise. I thought it would be just a nice run-of-the-mill we-will-prevail sort of dystopian.

Should have known my muse wouldn't be this easy on me. No. I somehow managed to stumble onto a psychological pea soup. Day one went well, but after that, it feels like I'm writing through wool.

It isn't the same feeling as I get while blocking, though. I know what has to happen next and every successive scene comes to me easily. It's just that when I start writing, things are hard.

I think it's because my female main character has grown up in more shit than I originally thought and her mind's workings keep making it hard for me to write her thoughts. Hard... It's actually more like I'm bashing my head against a wall.

My male main character isn't much better. He's not quite the idealist I thought he was, so his approach to revolution is sort of... unnerving.

All this adds up to probably the most difficult book I've ever attempted. Including Doorways.

Not sure if I can do this, but I have to try.

Have you ever written a story that fought you all the way? Did you make it through to the end or did you give up?

Friday, November 2, 2012

Oh Fudge.

Sigh... Sorry about this guys! I'm so disappointed right now. I never got today's post, which sucks, because I had two other offers for today and declined.

Still, I know the person supposed to do today has been having some health issues, so I just hope she's okay.

Have a great weekend, all!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

I chose my NaNo Project like this.

Yesterday, I did quite a few writerly things.

I finished the final edits.

I rewrote my query. It's now resting on my computer, waiting for me to edit it.

I also finally decided what I'd be writing about for NaNoWriMo. It's the original draft and not the rewrite. The reason: I can stay in draft mode longer.

If I did the rewrite, my plan would look like this:

1) Rewrite WiP3
2) Draft WiP5 while 3 rests.
3) Revise 3 while 5 rests.
4) Rewrite 5 while 3 rests.
5) Edit 3 while 5 rests.
Problem: The fact that I'd have to hop between edit and draft modes in steps 2-5, which, if you're familiar with me, you'd know is something I hardly ever manage well. In fact, WiP2 and 3 have gone untouched for a YEAR because I was busy editing Doorways. 

But I've now decided to do things like this. Of course Doorways querying etc. will continue on top of all this.

1) Draft WiP5
2) Rewrite WiP3 while 5 rests.
3) Rewrite 5 while 3 rests.
4) Revise 3 while 5 rests.
5) Revise 5 while 3 rests.
6) Alternate edits to 3 and 5 as needed.

See? Everything follows nicely so that I don't have to hop between edit mode and draft mode. So I can lock up my inner editor for months, potentially, except of course if I have to tweak Doorways a little.

So yeah, a distinctively dispassionate way to chose projects, but by yesterday, I still hadn't had a clue as to what I wanted to write more.

Have you ever used logic to work out which project you should be working on? Did you obey it in the end?