Friday, October 28, 2016

Up-boo! Day

Today is the last Friday of October, which means it's time for another Update Day. In case you're wondering what it is: Beth Fred and I host a blog hop, where we set crazy or crazy important goals. The idea is for everyone to chase down their goals, and on the last Friday of each month, we share updates on our progress.

You're welcome to join at any time, so if you'd like to sign up, or to see who else is taking part, please click here.

I have to admit, it's currently 9:30 p.m, so I'm cutting it close with my own blog hop. In fact, I almost considered cutting it even closer, because I have a deadline looming (more on that in a few), but I needed a break. So I thought: what better way is there to relax than to do a post mortem on the past month?



Oh okay fine. I'll just get to it.

In cased you missed last month's post, I've hit reset on my 5-year goal and I decided to take this being-a-writer thing full-time. 

To make that happen, I'm setting monthly writing goals, along with writing business goals. The former deals with my activities in producing more stories. The latter deals mostly with marketing, and my ability to earn revenues from writing, and writing related activities. Just to clarify, if the money I earn relates in any way to me using my writing skills or knowledge, I'm counting it as revenues for my writing business. 

So, if I were to monetize this blog (which I won't do) and this blog generated an income, it'd show up in my analyses. But if I win the lottery, or suddenly become a millionaire doing something else... Nope. 

Basically, this whole exercise is to see exactly how hard or how easy it is to start almost from scratch and become a full-time writer. So I started last September with a budget of $10, and started working. 

Every month, then, I set a goal for Writing and a goal for Generated Revenue. 

So how did I do in October? 

Before I show the graphs, I should point out one thing: If I had to give October one theme, I would call it The Agony and the Ecstasy. 

Especially the week I just had. Life and other work (yeah, remember how I said I'm still doing other work too because it gives me so much time? BAHAHAHAHAHA *sob*) just went into full-blown hell mode. 

In fact, when I wrote my friend Connie about it, I couldn't even put a word to it. A day later, and it's finally occurred to me: 


I'm not even kidding. This was a week I will not want to experience ever again. I'll get around to talking about it, as soon as I've really recovered. 

It's not all bad, though. This same hell-week also turned out to have something really good in it too. (And that doesn't count the fact that I've finally tasted (and fell in love with (even more passionately than I adore parentheses)) macaroons.) In fact, this exact same hell-week was nothing short of miraculous. (Again, more on this when I've recovered.) 

In short, the overall results of October were mixed. 


One of my major writing goals I have at the moment is to finish Book 3 of The War of Six Crowns before the end of this year. 

Basically, doing so means I have to write about 50,000 words every month, including October. 

Did I manage it? 


In fact, I've managed a slight bit under half of what I wanted to do. In my defense, pretty much every one of those plateaus coincided with some crappiness from the rest of my life spilling into my writing time. 

And sadly, most of the words added here were courtesy of my Insecure Writers' Support Group short story, but I did submit that, so that was one writing goal achieved.

As for my third writing goal (reformatting my books for updates to the content and covers), I've so far managed to start on The Vanished Knight. It's basically done, but I want to do yet another proofread. Not because I think I'll find anything, but I've found that Word does funny things to documents, changing formatting without permission, making words and phrases vanish... That sort of thing. Call me paranoid, but I'd rather be sure everything is where it should be. 

If you're wondering, if the hell-week is over, why I haven't started writing... I have a very good reason. More on this on a bit.

Goals for November: 

1) NANOWRIMO! Yes, I'm a glutton for punishment, but I'll be rebelling and trying to add 50k words to Book 3. In case you want to buddy up with me, my username on the NaNoWriMo website is iceangel. 

2) Published books. I have a lot to do here: 
2.1) Take my paperbacks out of Amazon's expanded distribution, so I can prepare to publish them directly through Ingram Spark. 
2.2) Finish formatting and proofreading all three of my books so I can do the updates I want to do. 
2.3) Plan something around the reveal of the updated covers. 

3) Post Ryan on Patreon. Ryan is a short-story from the same world as Endless. I want to share it with my patrons, and had planned to start this month already, but I just couldn't get to it. 

Generated Revenue

Every month, I'm setting a monthly revenue target. Then, I'm counting all of the month's revenue, which means I count revenue the moment it's generated (which I usually call future income or income generated in the month) and money that were actually generated in previous months. 

So, if I sell a book on Amazon and I get $5 in royalties, it will only really be in my account later. So, in order to show people where my income is coming from, I'll show the money in the month I first earned it, and then again once it's in my account. (It's all just to make the graphs make sense. I actually studied accounting and am aware that this is not how normal people count money. But I'm not normal.) 

Also, I have a few rules I've set for myself: 

The first one is: I set the target, and the target doesn't move until after I've reached it once. 
The second one is: The target for current and future generated income is equal to the monthly target minus accrued income. (So if I set a goal of $10 and that $5 royalty is paid into my account, I have $5 left to generate for this month, or for future months.) 
The third one is: If I hit the target, I have to raise the bar. 

And... well... I'm going to have to raise the bar quite a bit. 

See, in September, I set a $100 target for the month, and then came in under. But this month... this month I annihilated it.

That's right. I generated more than double my target revenue. In fact, I hit the $100 goal on the 14th. Which was part of the reason why I haven't been able to write today. Because I'm getting this income from Upwork, and I still have a deadline. 

On the positive side, I made enough to get Upwork to pay money into my Payoneer account, which also means I'll be able to withdraw my money. Which means I can pay for Photoshop etc. 

Goals for November

1) Boost book sales. Don't get me wrong. I really like when my target graphs look like this, but honestly, I need to see more book sales. Amazon was completely dead this month (except when they paid out a few royalties.) And really, my overall goal is to get my written works to pay my way, so I really need to make that bar graph a bit more colorful. Mainly, though, I know I didn't enough to get sales this month. I did more in September, to obvious results. 

2) Hit my next revenue target. Deciding on the target is a bit tricky, because most of the money I made on Upwork this month will be accrued income in November. So, if I set a $200 goal, it will basically only be $100 to go after. Instead, I'm lifting the goal to $300. 

That's it from me. How did your October go? Are you doing NaNoWriMo?

Friday, October 21, 2016

Sorry for being so quiet!

This week was a rough one.

Mostly, a lot of developments in my business-life (as supposed to writing-life or... well. life-life) meant that I had zero time for any writing or even social networking.

I'm not complaining. Any movement in the business is good, so I rather spend more time a day and get things dealt with than drag things out. Now we're basically back to the waiting part, which means I should have more time to write.

I have sooooo much writing to do, though. It's kinda starting to give me a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. It's not a guilt thing. It's a stress thing. If I'm in stressful situations, writing helps me blow of steam, but when I'm too tired to write... I don't, and the stress keeps building.

You'd think that would mean the words just come rushing out as soon as I sit down, but you'd be wrong.

Cause the more stress builds, the harder it becomes for me to find my words. Which adds to my stress, which makes writing more difficult, which adds to my stress.


Not fun.

And I'd like to say I'll write this weekend, but I'm days behind on my editing goals as well. So now I don't know what I should do first.

I'll just have to figure it out over the weekend.

How are you doing? 

Monday, October 17, 2016

My Short Story is Out With CPs

I'm happy to say I managed to finish writing my IWSG short story in time to send it to the awesome people who'd volunteered to give it a read-over.

Most of them already sent back feedback. (I mean seriously. How's that for speed?)

So now, I'm planning to sit down and do the critiques I owe them.

I have to say, though, I love my story. The character has been sticking in my head ever since I edited The Heir's Choice, so I was happy to get a chance to write something for her. Fingers crossed that the judges also enjoy the story.

How are you doing? Sending in a short story for the IWSG competition too? 

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Before and After: Teaser Graphic for Ryan

Hey everyone! Since you all seem to be enjoying my before and afters so much, I thought I'd share another one. Before I start, though, I just want to remind you to check out Monday's post if you're looking for a CP for your Insecure Writer's Support Group short story.


I've seen people making double exposure images using Photoshop, and thought the result could work really well for a short story I'd written, called Ryan. 

Ryan is an immortal with a dark past, and he remembers the turning point in his life which set him on the course to become a doctor in modern-day New York City.

I really wanted to show that contradiction of old versus modern, while also wanting to give a sense of how much Ryan doesn't really like himself.

So to do this, I went looking on Pixabay for an image with a man's profile. Usually, double exposure images are done with nude faces and torso, but I liked the hoodie and I thought I could make it work. I'm actually glad with it, because the hoodie details I kept helped to ground the image and give it a bit more of a gritty texture.

Next, I went digging through Wikimedia Commons for an image of the London Blitz (mainly because the turning point happened during one such attack). It's really tricky to use London, though, so I settled for this image from Sheffield. The images from London that I could find all had some sort of focus on St Paul's. And although these images no longer have copyright on them, St Paul's itself doesn't allow the use of its image for commercial purposes without them getting some sort of fee. (Seriously, you don't understand how aggro certain landmarks are when it comes to commercial use of images.) Even assuming that I could pay said amount, it sounds like a huge amount of red tape to get through just for an image teaser. So some building in Sheffield it was.

I went through the process of doing the double exposure, but found that keeping a plain sort of background as is fashionable didn't really hit home the contradiction aspect for me, so I went in search of a New York City skyline and found this one on Pixabay (again).

The Result?


If you think Ryan sounds interesting and you'd like to give it a read, it's currently part of the Ghosts of Fire Anthology, and I'll also soon be pasting it week-by-week for my Patreon patrons. 

What do you think about this image? Want to see even more of my graphic design exploits as I find my way around Photoshop? 

Monday, October 10, 2016

Looking for Critique Partners for the IWSG Competition

Even though I despaired of ever writing anything related to The War of Six Crowns in fewer than ten thousand words, I've managed it.

This weekend, I finished the rough draft of The One Who Would Wield the Sword in about 5000 words, although I'll probably be adding a thousand more in edits. (I'm the consummate adder-inner. You know... the kind of writer who adds in words while editing. As supposed to the bodily organs of a snake. That would be weird.)

Wow. Let me rein myself in and get back onto the topic before I digress way too far (as happens when I blog this close to my bed time.)



I'm going to do rewrites and edits this week, but I would ideally be looking for some extra pairs of eyes on my works (metaphorically.) before I submit my entry to the competition.

Which made me think I probably wouldn't be the only one.

So if you're looking for someone to trade short stories with, get in touch with me at mishagerrick(AT)gmail(DOT)com. I'll make the exchange on a first-come, first serve basis.

And, if you don't have time to read my short story but still want me to critique your story, I'm currently doing full critiques of short stories for $5 (and a service review) per story on Fiverr. It's a sale I have going to build up my track-record there. Fiverr accepts PayPal, and you can change the price into your own currency.

To qualify for the sale, you have to be one of my first 100 customers there (which is a distinct possibility.) and PM me from the site I linked you to. (There's a big green button that says "Contact me.")

Anyone entering the IWSG competition? Looking for critiques for your work? 

Friday, October 7, 2016

On Word Targets

It's the strangest thing how psychological this writing game is. 

People (and by this, I mean non-writers) always assume that writing is such an easy thing. After all, they write hundreds of words every day with e-mails and texts, right? 

Sure. The thing is... It's easy to just jot a few words with no particular word-count goal in mind. Ten words here. Twenty words there. 


But get told to write a 1500 word article. Or a 3000 word to 6000 word short story. Or just think and realize that the novel you're working on needs 150,000 words to get finished. 

Suddenly, a task that seems simple becomes much more complicated. Especially when you're starting out and wondering if the thing you're writing will actually hit the word-count target. 

Last night, I wrote an article, and about 700 words in, I couldn't imagine where I would find the remaining 800. 

When I started drafting my story for the Insecure Writer's Support Group competition, I liked the idea, but I just felt like the word-limit was this insurmountable mountain to climb. 

Odd to think it, but I find the 150k goal less intimidating, because if I come in under that, it's not like there will be repercussions. And that is actually the reason why I don't like setting a target for the length of any story I write. It just adds extra pressure I don't like feeling. I mean, I already give myself some steep deadlines to chase. 

The challenge is good for me, though. It's nice to know that, yes, I could actually write to demand and actually hit those targets. 

And you know the funny thing about my short story? I'm at 3500 words now, and wondering if I'll be able to wrap the story up in 1500 words or less. 

So that just goes to show you the importance of just writing. Even if we feel like we'll never make a word-count target, we can always surprise ourselves if we try. 

Are you writing a story for IWSG competition? How's it going?

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Insecure Writers' Support Group: Like a circle within a circle...

Goodness! I've been so busy lately, I almost lost track of time! Today is actually the first Wednesday of October, which means it's time for my Insecure Writer's Support Group post. For those of you who are familiar with IWSG, it's a monthly bloghop hosted by Alex J. Cavanaugh, where we share our writing insecurities and encouragements with each other.

For more information or to sign up (you're more than welcome!), please click here.

Also, if you'd rather read this post on Wordpress, please click here.

My Insecurity

My biggest insecurity this month is one I've been able to push aside for the most part, but once I've started looking at it, it's actually a big one. 

See, recently I decided to take this writing gig full-time. (Long story, but don't worry. I didn't quit the day-job either.) The biggest difference that this decision has made is that I'm actually devoting most of my day to either writing or marketing in an attempt to bring in money. 

The thing is that I started doing this with $100 in the bank, which is currently stuck there because Payoneer has a $200 pay-out limit. 

So. Paid marketing platforms are out for me at the moment. As is basically anything I want to do to my books until my money is out (because I need to pay for my Adobe programs.)

And while my advertising for beta-reading, mentoring etc on Fiverr by far gets the most clicks, I think people might be scared of booking me when I have no reviews. (Annoying, because I've done six years' worth of critiques for my blogging buddies already, so I have the experience.) 

Which means that right now, I'm pretty much stuck. I want to refresh two of my three books to get more readers for those... But... I either have to pay a formatter (which I can't.) or use at least Adobe Acrobat. (Which I can't.) 

I have $4 stuck in Fiver at the moment (because they have a $50 pay-out limit) and I can get $1 more to try out a $5 marketing spree (I can use the $4 as credit). But there's little point to doing that until my books are updated. I need every dollar to go to maximum effect. So I can't just spend $5 on something I don't think will make a difference until I have everything in place that I need in place. 

So it's a vicious circle. Because without effective marketing, I'm not going to sell more books, which means I won't be getting $100 anytime soon. 

And EVEN if I make $100 in book sales, it'll take at least two months before I get the royalties. 


Right now, the quickest way for me to get that $100 would be to make it on Fiverr, or if people pledged support on Patreon. (Because that would take until the end of the month.) Both will take time building up, though.

So yeah. It's a vicious circle. 

Now for the IWSG Question...

When do you know the story is ready? 

Depends on what the story is supposed to be ready for. 

I know a story is ready to be written when I know the climax and ending. 
I know it's ready for editing when I no longer feel as if every word in the draft is precious and needs to be protected at every cost. 
I know it's ready for publishing when I spend an hour moving a single comma around. (Or some such.) 

What about you? When do you know a story is ready? Thoughts on a way for me to break my vicious circle?

Monday, October 3, 2016


Hey everyone! Just a heads-up that I won't be posting today. My internet dropped on me on Friday night and it only got back to a semi-working state a few hours ago.

And now I'm so way behind on everything that I'm still trying to catch up. >_<

Anyway. I'll be back on Wednesday!

Friday, September 30, 2016

Update Day: Hitting the Reset Button

Hey everyone! Today is the last Friday of the month, which means it's time for another Update Day!

I thought I'd do things a bit differently, which means...


Vlog post.

To sum up for those of you who haven't the time to watch the vid:

This month, I decided to stop moping around and approach my writing career as if it's already my full-time job. My thinking is that I'm a business person anyway, so I might as well turn this writing thing into a business.

Making this work meant I had to rethink the way I'm going about this.



I'm hitting reset on my goal. 

My five-year goal is still $7500 a month, but now it can be from any writing related activity, whether it's me actually writing, or me using my writing expertise in some way.

I'm starting over. 

This is actually year three, but the change is so major and the mind-shift so big that I decided to start again. So September 2016 is month one of Year One. I basically did this, because I want to track my growth. And since my income basically flatlined for the past three months, I thought it would be a good thing to start since this major change got brought in.

I've been keeping track since 6th (which was when I decided to kick things up a notch), so that's enough for me to actually get some stats in.

Speaking of stats...

I'm also going to change the way I report on my progress. 

I might get back to the to-do list eventually, but I can't help feeling that people really don't care about those all that much.

A lot of people have been asking me how I'm actually doing with my five year goal, so I will be reporting on my money coming in and going out, since this full-time-writer-with-almost-no-money-to-start-with thing is probably something that might interest a lot of people.

Which means that I'll be posting monthly stats for the year. Two, in fact, but I'll explain more in a minute.

So how did I do? 

Basically, this full-time thing has two components: Me selling stories and services I already have, and me creating more stories. For ease of reference, I will call these Marketing and Writing. 


Since my marketing results can only be measured in terms of income, I'm keeping track of that instead of the hours I'm putting in. 

My income basically gets divided into three groups: Income from previous months (since there's up to a 3 month delay on royalties etc), income earned within the month and income generated for the future (so I'm keeping track of books I sold today so I know how much I'll get in three months.) 

I set my goal for Total Income Generated. Which means that if I say $100 is my goal, I'll see that goal as achieved even if $100 came in only from previous months sales etc. 

Since I'm also concerned about my income's growth, I'll be keeping track of how much income I generate within a month and for future months, separately. So there will be a separate graph, where the goal line is calculated by subtracting my Income Generated Goal from the amount that came in from previous months. 



So first, let me look at income generated in past months vs income generated within this month and for future months.

Basically, the income accrued in previous months is money from Patreon (which is currently around $10). 

As you can see, most of my money generated this month was for current or future earnings. Let's see how those look. 

So since starting this whole exercise, I've critiqued one short-story on Fiverr, and actually sold some books on Amazon (which is definitely an uptick, because my book sales have basically been dead lately.) The Patreon income is basically the $10 from patrons who'd signed up before and $1 from a new sign-up. It will show up again next month as income accrued from previous months, since every month's subscriptions only actually hit my account in the following month.

Goal for October: 

It's such a nice, round number, so for now, I'm keeping to $100 as my goal. Fingers crossed that I actually hit the line next time. 


This month I basically set writing goals as I went along, which is why my goal line keeps jumping up as I hit my targets. 

I basically only started writing on 11 September, and then only sporadically. Then, on 24 September, I started timing my writing and trying to write every day. The effect on my daily word counts are quite staggering....

Let me put that into words real quick. I wrote over 16k words this month. 10k of those were written last week.

Goals for October: 

I have three big ones: 

1) I want to finish this draft of Book 3 of The War of Six Crowns before the end of the year, which means I'll basically be chasing NaNo targets every month for three months. Thanks to timing myself, I know I can type 2k words in 80 minutes. 
2) I want to write the story I have in mind for the Insecure Writers' Support Group competition. 
3) I want to re-format and update my currently published books, specifically The War of Six Crowns to prepare for the new covers I made for them. 

There are, of course, more goals (we're talking about me, here), but these are my priorities. 

How did your goals go? What do you think of this new format for my Update Day posts? Are you interested in the outcome of this experiment of mine?