I’m not making the usual resolutions this year. You know—eat right, lose weight, save money, blah, blah, blah. Why should I? I never keep them.
I’m making one big resolution for 2021—to get more serious about writing. I’m going to blog regularly. I will put new books out when I say I will.
I’m going to put more effort into parts of the story that I really don’t want to write. That includes doing more research, because to be honest, I sometimes just leave stuff out rather than learn more on a subject.
I probably shouldn’t admit to that last thing, but I’m guessing some of my readers have figured that out.
It’s not the first time I’ve resolved to get serious about writing. It’s just that this time, I mean it. I plan to treat writing like it’s my main source of income, which I expect it to be at some point in the future.
In 2020, I spent months revising a book that I put online two years ago. I just wasn’t satisfied with it. (Based on a two-star rating I got, readers probably weren’t too impressed either!) If revising a two-year-old book doesn’t show I’m dedicated to being serious about writing, nothing will.
The three books that I have finished are now about as decent as I can make them. So it’s time to move on. Actually, it’s well past time.
I’ve got two very rough drafts sitting around collecting dust. I’m going to finish them up and get them online before the end of 2021.
I do want to lose weight, exercise, save money and do other great things in 2021. Still, I’m not overly committed.
When I sit down to write, I like a huge pile of junk food within reach. That might help with the writing goal, but it puts a huge kink in the plan to eat right and lose weight.
It’s been a while since I’ve done any real writing. I sit down with my laptop and put forth an effort to write, but nothing much is happening.
My muse has gone missing. Haven’t heard a peep from her in months. Maybe she’s in self-isolation.
The lack of inspiration is rather inconvenient because I have two mostly-written books that I want to finish and get online.
I’m also supposed to be working on a comic strip that features two of my characters, Floyd and Essie Watson. I don’t have even one panel drawn for the strip. I can’t decide where I want to start with their story.
I’ve pretty much given up on sticking with a release date for my upcoming e-books. I keep listing dates for releases only to have to change them. I have a rough draft for both e-books, but I’m not satisfied with them. Rather than rush and put them online, I’m going to wait until I get them like I want them.
The struggle to finish the books is making me question my sanity. I mean, why did I ever think I could write books? Some authors make it look easy. It’s not easy for me. There has got to be a better way to spend my free time than trying to tell fun stories about Lizzie Chandler and the Watsons.
I could go back to sitting on my couch watching Spongebob or horror movies. With the dreams I’ve been having after watching those scary flicks, writing Once Haunted, Twice Shy should be a breeze – even with a missing muse.
Yesterday while I was writing, I got off task and Googled myself. I should’ve known better. I read somewhere years ago that you should never do that. Too bad I didn’t follow that advice, because the results of my search were mildly horrifying.
I found my name, date of birth and address on one site. I also found my home number. (I know—the fact that I still have a home phone is a whole other issue.) My home phone is not even in my name, but somehow it is listed for me on the internet. I was not so pleased with that.
The site even listed my mother’s name, age and address.
That’s a whole lot of information out there about me. And it’s not on one of those sites where you pay. It’s free to the public. Some non-law abiding citizen can steal my identity with very little effort.
In spite of my extreme annoyance at finding that information online, here’s the thing that really bothered me: The site listed my vehicle’s make, model and year. Why would that information be online? It’s ridiculous.
I work with criminals for a living. It’s not very comforting to know that they can whip out their cell phones and get my address and phone number. If they come to my apartment complex, it should be easy enough for them to figure out which unit I live in. After all, they’ll also know what vehicle I drive.
I’ve gone to pretty good lengths to not put personal information out there. I don’t use my real name on any web sites. I don’t post personal pictures. My cell phone is prepaid, which I think means it’s not linked to me. I don’t own a smart TV.
Not very happy to learn that all my effort to protect my privacy was for nothing. I’ve always known that Big Brother was watching, but apparently, he’s not the only one!
From now on, when I don’t feel like writing, I’ll find some other way to amuse myself because looking up myself online is bad for my peace of mind.
I’ve got plans—big plans.
I plan to work on this website to make it as good as I can possibly get it. I also plan to create a comic strip to go on my home page. I’m going to finish my current e-book and get it online by October.
While I’m working on those things, I plan to revise two—maybe all three—of the e-books I have on Amazon and find new improved ways to promote them.
That all sounds pretty reasonable, right? It would be, if I had a longer time frame in mind and didn’t have a full-time job. I want all of this done in just over four months.
I’m absolutely positive I can turn my writing into a profitable, fun business.
Where do I get that confidence about my success? I’ve been studying about how we create the lives we want. It’s all based on Biblical principles that tell us we can have what we want out of life. A lot of people call it law of attraction, but I prefer to think of it in more spiritual terms.
Even with my faith and determination, this will be a challenge.
I’m not tech savvy and have to watch a lot of YouTube videos to figure out ways to improve my website. All that info gathering will be worth it in the end, but right now, my brain is seriously overloaded.
It’s not just new technical info floating around up there in my gray matter. I’ve also watched at ton of videos on how to draw. Yes, I’ve decided to start a comic strip when I don’t know how to draw. A little odd, I know, but it’s not out of character for me to try and do something I know nothing about.
The comic strip will be based on two of my characters, Essie and Floyd Watson. I love the characters and want to tell stories about them in a fun way. Hopefully by July, I will have gained enough drawing skills to put a simple weekly comic strip on my home page.
With all that to get done, I’m also going to finish one book and revise a few others. If I didn’t know better, I’d think I was losing it because I’m being overly ambitious.
In spite of having big goals, and there being only twenty-four hours in a day, I plan to get all that stuff done on time—and without pulling my hair out.
The e-book I’m working on, A Most Unusual Hexplanation, is a great read. It has a little of everything—humor, love, family drama, the paranormal. Including all that good stuff has led to the book being longer than I want it to be.
I’ve decided to limit Hexplanation to 60,000 words. The first draft is already at 62,000 words, and there are some scenes to flesh out, so this will be a challenging task.
Where did I get my 60,000 word plan? Blame it on being on lockdown for the corona virus. I have way too much free time. When my mind is idle, it tends to wander to strange places.
But I didn’t come up with this plan entirely on my own. For the past week or so, I’ve been watching a lot of YouTube videos, and not just of baby pandas (but mostly of baby pandas!).
I’ve watched one video after another where writers give tips on making books more interesting. The writers talk about deleting unnecessary scenes and words.
And so I’m working to follow that advice because I want to make Hexplanation best seller quality—even if it never reaches best seller status. I want people who buy my book to feel like they’ve gotten their money’s worth. I’ve been cramming the YouTubers’ writing advice into my brain to the point where I feel like it’s about to explode from excess information.
I didn’t do nearly this much info gathering for my first two books. In fact, I didn’t do any. I just started typing and kept going until I ran out of words to add to the stories.
But now, I’m a serious writer, and I want to do things the right way. That means getting rid of unnecessary scenes and words. I’d like to believe every word—heck, every comma—is absolutely essential. Still, I’m going to bite the bullet and cut some stuff from my baby.
I’ve changed the release date of Hexplanation many, many times. At the moment, I’m looking at getting it online in July or August. It’s going to be the most amazing book ever. Well, the most amazing book ever written by Zanna Johns.
By the way, please tell me that you guys know what the image at the beginning of this post is. If you don’t know, I’m going to feel very, very old!
Blogging is not my strong point. That may seem like a strange thing to read on anyone’s blog, but it’s true. I enjoy releasing my inner silliness anonymously, so creating articles is not the issue. However, setting up the basic elements of a blog is proving to be a challenge, to put it very mildly.
I’ve had this site for years, and last week I realized it was missing an essential feature: a way for readers to contact me. You’d think that I would’ve had that in place before my page went public, or at least two or three years in. But nope, not me.
I went along my merry way, creating posts while doing nothing to promote them. That approach has been less than successful, as I get few visitors. I’m going to work on that issue—as soon as I get all the necessary pieces in place for a good blog.
I think I’ve set up the contact page correctly. It took a couple days to do it. Seems like it wouldn’t be so hard, right? I tried a plugin to create my contact page, but for some reason, it wouldn’t work. I deleted the plugin and tried another one. Then another…and another…and another…
Finally, I figured out what was wrong. The confirmations were going to an email address that I never use. In fact, I don’t know if I ever finished setting up the account for that email address. After a couple days of frustration, I got the contact page working right.
That project completed, I began a new one – coming up with a way to notify readers of new posts. This turned out to be just as much fun as creating the contact page, but I got it done, and I finally had things properly set up on here. Or so I thought.
A few days ago, it dawned on me that my page had no footer. How did I miss that?
I haven’t been nearly as dedicated to fixing that problem as I was with the contact and subscription issues. After all, how many readers care about what’s at the bottom of a web page? I’m counting on that number being zero, because the footer I added is a work in progress and leaves much to be desired.
I did it!
I looked at the beta reader feedback for my two-star shame (known on Amazon as Undead of Night) and lived to write a blog post about it. I was a bit hesitant to read the information, even though I’d paid for it. I was worried that I’d become unglued over the slightest criticism about my baby.
I only used two readers. I sent out requests to three workers on Fiverr, but one person did not respond until six days later. By then, I had the info I wanted. Two beta readers are probably all my fragile writer’s ego can handle right now anyway.
The ladies who read my work said they liked the stories overall. That led to a surprising issue: I questioned their motives for saying good things. Did they only pretend to like the stories because they wanted bonuses? Or maybe because they want me to hire them to beta read future books?
I know I’m seriously overthinking this. I do believe the stories in Undead of Night are pretty good, so I shouldn’t be surprised the ladies said positive things about them. If I thought the stories were bad, I never would’ve put them online.
Some of the weaknesses the beta readers mentioned were issues that I was already aware of. So I’ll take the attitude that the ladies were honest with their feedback. I’m going to use it to polish Undead of Night to the best of my ability.
I’m going to move that two-star rating up to a solid three!