100 Book Challenge

This page is a record of my quest to publish 100 novels. The plan is to self-publish and record how I am doing. This is mainly to keep me accountable and hopefully also as a useful tool for anyone else who might be looking into publishing their work. I will update the page regularly on my progress.

All my blogs on writing can be found on the front page, and by clicking on the links below:

The Shaggy Dog Story

Story Engineering & what I write about

100 Book Challenge April 15th Update

The 100 Book Challenge

How I Became a Writer

An Unexpected Outcome

The story so far:

31/07/17

I’ve been away on holiday hence the lack of updates, but I’ve been busy writing all the same. I’ve joined a Facebook group for writers with particular goals to achieve which will be great to keep me on track and for mutual support.

I’ve gone back and worked on the structure of Sanctuary. I’ve been going through more books on plotting, and a couple of ‘how to write romance’ books to see where this is going wrong. I like the story but it isn’t strong enough and am trying to fix that.

I got my first beta reader. She’s never done this before so I’ve pulled together some guidance notes that I can send out to her and future beta readers. Being part of a number of writing Facebook groups is paying off; I’m on a waiting list for a potential new editor. This is the start to commissioning an editor for my books.

I’ve been exploring gothic fiction and one of the best ways of doing that is to run a course. There’s nothing like delivering training to help consolidate your own knowledge. I’m aiming to produce a book on how to write gothic fiction at the same time. If you’re curious, the link to the course is here. It will be happening over the Halloween weekend as a bit of fun and as a way to get people ready for NaNoWriMo in November.

I carried out another interview for How to Save the World book and set up a couple more interviews.

For a bit of fun, I uploaded a shaggy dog story to the website.

10/7/ 2017

A quiet week, in part because I’ve been showing one of my best friends round London. I managed to complete my sci-fi novella first edit, reviewed the structure of the story, and have a few bits to tighten up. I now need to come up with a title, which is my nemesis. Anyone with helpful hints on how to do good titles please let me know.

Met some interesting people in the sustainability sector and have arranged interviews for How to Save the World and Create your Own Job at the Same Time.

Had another fun and useful meeting with the Writers of the Triangle which is great for goal setting.

03/07/17

I’m working my way through Your First 10 000 readers by Nick Stephenson. It’s packed full of useful information and although the cost terrified me at the start I’m relieved to say it’s worth it. It will be a great resource for when I launch.

I’m still working on Sanctuary, I made quite a few changes but it doesn’t feel quite right. I may need to give it to a couple of people to read and give me some unbiased feedback. I bought two new pieces of software to help with my editing, Hemingway Editor and Grammarly. I like Hemingway, I disagree with Grammarly fairly often and worry it’s standardising my style but I will keep trying it for a while.

I have started working on editing a science fiction novella, which is part one of a series. The concept revolves around a group of incredibly powerful human beings that have essentially been enslaved by ordinary humans. They work for humanity and are controlled by the state and a police department called the Powers Division. The Earth is badly degraded as a result of a genetic blight so humanity is planning a flight to a distant planet in an attempt to make a new life for themselves. I’m putting the first draft through the story structure template to see how it looks and how I can strengthen the storyline.

How to save the planet and create your own job, is making good progress, with another two interviews over the week. It’s fascinating and heartening to hear about all the different ways people go about creating work that is meaningful for them.

26/06/17

It was a busy week for the #100bookchallenge so lots to report on. I finally finished Story Engineering by Larry Brooks. It’s an annoying book to plough through due to the repetition, haranguing of pantsing  (organic writing) authors (I am one), and overuse of analogy. Still, the book is very useful and I have distilled it down to twelve pages of notes which will help my storytelling immensely. At first, I felt profoundly depressed as I read Larry’s strict rules and his insistence that you have to plan everything out ahead of time. He goes on and on about how planning is far superior to pantsing, devoting a couple of chapters and paragraphs in almost every chapter to that theme and I won’t argue with the case he makes that planners can write novels more quickly than pantsters, I’m sure they can. But I enjoy my writing and my slow exploration of where I am going, and the thought of planning everything out just made me feel depressed, and that something I enjoy was being taken away from me. Then it dawned on me (just before Larry said it himself), that my initial draft is my planning session and once I’ve written the whole thing I can apply the story structure rules to it. Larry thinks this is a terrible, time wasting thing that forces you to go back and cut out thousand of words and rewrite reams of a manuscript, but that’s fine by me. I like my characters, I enjoy revisiting them, and if I get to do better by them with a second round that’s fine too. So I will be applying Larry’s structure, and I’ll probably always have them in my head when I’m writing something new. Which will probably be a help (I’ll see), it has helped my writing, but I suspect I’ll always be a pantster because I simply can’t see beyond the first couple of scenes till I’ve written them. I know, I know Larry, I need to work on my concept!

Now that I’ve finished Larry Brook’s book, I am tackling Sanctuary again. I’ve worked out where I went wrong, I didn’t have my hero behaving heroically enough in the last quarter of the book, so I’m in the throes of reworking the end.

I did a lot of work on How to Save the World and Create your Own Job (the new working title – I need something snappier and shorter. I’m starting to get into the details for this book. Funnily enough, I planned this out minutely with all my chapters and section headings worked out ahead of time and now I’m filling them in.

I started on a new non-fiction book for the Kingston Biodiversity Network called 101 things to do to improve nature in Kingston. Once it’s complete for them I’ll tweak it to be relevant to all urban areas in the UK and beyond.

Finally, I signed up for a great course for self-publishers called, Your First 10 000 readers by Nick Stephenson. It’s the first time I’ve ever signed on to an expensive, online course, but I am impressed with the great information I’m getting through the videos and handouts. It should help me improve my marketing strategies immensely.

19/06/17

I’m still working my way through Story Engineering by Larry Brooks, there is a lot of good information but it’s hard work. Teachers and marketers tell us it takes 7 repetitions for a message to sink in and Brooks seems to have taken that message to heart. The majority of my writing week has been taken up by my non-fiction writing. I’ve settled on the title, How to Help Save the World and Create Work you Love.

The majority of my writing week has been taken up by my non-fiction writing. I’ve settled on the title, How to Help Save the World and Create Work you Love and have been typing away like crazy. I prefer the creative writing, but even non-fiction has its rewards.

I’ve also signed up for an on-line course, Your First 10,000 readers, it looks very good so far and I’m looking forward to putting the training into practice.

05/06/17

I’ve written a blog on the last couple of weeks of development see Story Engineering & what I write about. I’ve also continued interviewing indie greens for my book on creating a career for yourself in sustainability and conservation.

15/05/17

Research and interviews continuing on ‘How to make your own job in sustainability and conservation’. One of the major challenges is actually making money. I’m finding that a lot of people do their conservation on the side with a better paid job to support themselves which has got me thinking about how we properly finance people to do conservation.

I realised I needed to work on something shorter for my first publication to get the hang of publishing and also because a shorter book will be cheaper to edit. So I have shelved Clan for a while and switched to a novella. I’m terrible with titles so at the moment the book is provisionally called Sanctuary. I’ve edited the whole thing and found a few plot holes that I want to tighten up but I think I can get this book out fairly soon.

08/05/17

I’ve switched to Monday updates as I’ve started volunteering at a local food market on Saturdays. I’ve finally reached the halfway mark editing Clan, it feels like quite a milestone as I’ve found editing takes so much more concentration than writing. My interviews for the non-fiction book are going really well, I’m meeting such great people. Working title: How to create a job in sustainability or conservation, and help save the planet. Let me know what you think.

02/05/2017

Bank Holiday over and time for the update. A good week as I started interviewing sustainability and environmental freelancers for the non-fiction book on freelancing in the sector. I’ve interviewed four people so far, learned a lot and discovered how warm, welcoming and helpful people in this sector are. Thanks for being so generous with your time everyone.  On the fiction front, the editing continues!

24/04/2017

A slightly belated update as I went off to Exmouth, partly on holiday and partly to spend some time with my lovely web developer to fine tune SEES Jobs. In between, I spent my time contacting all the freelancers I know and set up interviews for the research bit of my non-fiction book. It’s provisionally titled How to Work for Yourself and Save the Planet at the Same Time. Not catchy but I’m working on it.

15/04/2017

My birthday update. It turned out to be so long I made it a blog which you can read here.

08/04/2017

Another week of editing. I’ve discovered that editing when you’ve well and truly decided to publish is different to the editing I did when I was merely writing for my own pleasure. I’m being more rigorous and paying more attention to the detail than I have before. It means it’s slow but hopefully will be a better work to hand over to an editor once I’m finally happy with it.

I have joined the Alliance of Independent Authors, they have fantastic resources and a helpful Facebook forum for asking for advice and sharing tips. I would recommend it to any indie writer.

Finally, I set up a lunchtime gathering for the Writers of the Triangle Facebook group. Six people turned up which was more than I expected as I foolishly arranged it in the middle of school holidays. It was a lovely meeting and so interesting to hear about people’s projects and experiences. Once of the writers said he’d be happy to be a beta reader for me which was great, now I have 2 offers, just another 4 beta readers needed.

01/04/2017

I’ve reread  Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Browne and King. Still useful after all these years. I read it about seven or eight years ago and did a lot of work on my novels at that point and I’ve picked up new hints and tips this second time around. I find editing hard going. I can only work on a chapter at a time (I write short chapters) after that my concentration lapses and I start to let things slide. Not ideal when editing. I’ve picked a sci-fi story as the first one I’d like to publish. It’s provisionally called Clan, I am terrible at coming up with good book titles, any suggestions on how to improve will be gratefully received.

To get around my inability to work all day on editing, I’m carrying on with a work in progress, provisionally called Knockers. It’s a detective story set in modern day London where magical beings, fairies, dwarves, trolls etc that I have lumped together as ephemerals, have recently come out and become a visible part of human culture. My hero is a knocker. Knockers are underground ephemerals who live in a mine and warn miners if they are heading into danger.

Finally, I’ve set up a Hootsuite account so that I can be more efficient with my social media work and am figuring out how to use it. It isn’t half as intuitive as I would like it to be.

Does anyone else have suggestions for resources for writers? I’m especially looking at self-editing support so that I can get my books into as good a shape as possible before sending it to a proper editor.

24/03/2017

I have 33 complete stories, 17 on the go and 3 which are nearing completion. Not all of these are publishable. My earlier work is not up to scratch and will not be seeing the light of day. After 20 years of writing, I’m glad to say I can see a definite improvement.

I have been doing a lot of on-line research on the best ways to self publish and my guru is Joanna Penn of The Creative Penn a successful self publisher of both fiction and non-fiction. Her advice is easy to read and absorb and very very helpful.

I have set up a writing group on Facebook – Writers of the Triangle. which will hopefully provide some virtual and in person friendship and support and I have arranged a meet up through that.

Although I have written a lot of books I am in desperate need of a group of beta readers, a concept I learned about from Joanna Penn, and after that an editor. At the same time, I am going through my novels and deciding which are worth pushing forward to publication and trying to work out which genres they fit into (harder than it might sound for some of them).

I’m also looking at all of them to decide which I could turn into series. Apparently series work well in terms of building a loyal following. I’m not a huge fan of series and have found it impossible so far to write more than two books revolving around the same character so this may be a challenge for me.

And finally – I have revamped my website to reflect this new project.

If you want to keep up to date on the 100 books challenge, sign up to my newsletter, check out my new Facebook page, follow me on Twitter (I will see how well that goes, so far I have not managed to wrap my head around Twitter) or just pop back here regularly and leave me a comment. I would love to hear from you, especially if you are also on a quest, are venturing into publishing yourself, or have already self published.

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