Amazon Academy

Yesterday I took a day off of paid work to attend the Amazon Academy in Edinburgh. Hosted by Darren Hardy, the head of KDP in the UK we had a day of sessions with several UK authors:

Steven McKay – Historial Fiction
Harriet Smart – Historical Crime
Paul Teague – Non-Fiction and Science Fiction (who also represented the Alliance of Independent Authors)
Murray McDonald – Action Thrillers
Linda Gillard – Romance

Sessions included:

Making a book
How to write a bestseller
Marketing your book
Making it happen: The business of being an author

I’ve hesitated about attending author events like this in the past. I’m not yet selling enough books to justify taking a whole day off work, but Amazon are my biggest source of sales and I wondered whether I might “bump” into an agent or publisher.

If you, like me, are a lone(ly) author, struggling to make yourself known and learn how to market yourself, then I can only recommend getting yourself to one of these events!

It was a huge boost to my morale.

Amazon were a fantastic host. The event was well run and lunch was five star.

The authors on the panel were worth listening to, honest about their journey and full of helpful advice.

And…

It was great to meet up with other authors who are also going through similar journeys to myself and talk to people who understood what it is like to write, edit and market your books.

I’ve typed up my notes from the day, but the rough draft is over 800 words and I don’t have time to edit it tonight (when I’m writing this post) so will share them in a few days time.

[Update: you can now view the detail here: http://www.dragonlake.co.uk/2017/05/amazon-academy-the-detail/]

If you are working on a long term project on your own, make time to meet with others in the same line of work, to find out what is going on in your field of interest and be inspired.

Burying my head in the sand

Was sharing yesterday’s blog post on Twitter when a Channel 4 video started playing.

I probably should have scrolled on, but was left like a deer watching approaching headlights.

Manchester.

22 dead.

“Terror” attack.

Despite having written a novel describing in some detail the ultimate “terrorist” attack on the UK, I find myself reluctant to share Fallen Warriors with that angle.

If the purpose of terrorism is to cause terror, then in that cause Channel 4 News, the BBC, Sky and undoubtedly most news organisations do the most to cause terror.

I replied to @Channel4News: “A horrific event. What evidence is there this may have been a “terrorist” attack?”

Perhaps I should have done more research before tweeting, but terrorism is a trigger word for me. I feel strongly that the media encourage terrorism through their reporting of it.

Someone responded, accusing me of burying my head in the sand.

I’ll ignore the insults and libel that followed that initial response and instead ask: is it healthy to fill our minds with fear all day, every day?

George Orwell warned of a world where the government kept us in perpetual war in 1984. A world where the population was kept in control through fear.

We have created a world where the smallest atrocity is beamed into our faces 24 hours a day whenever we pull out our smartphone.

In stark contrast to the media’s message is the message of Jesus: “Perfect love casts out fear.”

When I focus on the words of Jesus, on God’s word, I receive hope.

Hope for a future free of terror, a world free from fear. Now that is a message Channel 4 should proclaim!

All of my…

As I start writing this post, I’ve yet to write up a formal plan for how I’m going to complete this goal of writing 100 words a day for 100 days.

I feel it will be important to set milestones and at each milestone, review where I’m at. This will give me a shorter timeframe to focus on which will make it easier to keep going. Rather than focusing on the big, impossible 100 day target, I just need to focus on the smaller goal.

25 days may be a good milestone. Breaks the target into four manageable chunks.

Also, I’m already starting to think in terms of weeks. I’m considering making every Friday Flash Fiction Friday. Every Sunday I plan to post about Jesus and faith.

I’ve already realised that I need to be writing two posts on Saturday – one for Sunday and one for Monday so I can take a day off each week.

Yet with all this thinking around planning…

On Sunday we worshipped using a Robin Mark song: Jesus, All For Jesus.

The words always give me pause. My ambitions. My hopes. My plans. Can I really surrender these? Have I really surrendered them to God?

Who am I blogging for?

I confess that I blog mainly for myself. I write mainly for myself. I am ambitious mainly for myself.

I suspect I will always battle with an inner desire to do for myself.

Yet, may my focus turn outward. May I look to serve Jesus through my writing. I suspect this is what I was made for, that I will only find freedom and purpose by living for Jesus.

Day One Dread

It does get easier, but it is often hard to imagine that as your first day approaches.

I can understand why some people never even make it into their first day at a new job. Fear of change, fear of commitment, fear of the unknown, of not being up to the task – all of these can contribute to a temptation to quit before even starting.

Yet I know from experience that the act of turning up makes a lot of that fear fade away. Day two is always easier than day one. Day three becomes a little better. Every day you turn up, the fear evaporates a little until turning up becomes the new normal.

And in some situations you can cheat… which is what I’m doing here 🙂

I wrote this post early and indeed am planning to write every day’s post the day before or even earlier if I can. My commitment is to writing 100 words every day. That doesn’t mean I can’t get a drop on tomorrow if I have the chance.

If you are feeling an increasing sense of dread at the thought of taking on a new challenge, it is normal. Hang in there! Every time you face that fear and overcome it, you build a strength to help you overcome the next fear you might face.

Today is day one of my self imposed challenge to write 100 words a day for 100 days. Or at least it will be, when today finally arrives… 😉

100 words: Reap the harvest

100 words
written daily
for 100 days
will leave you
10,000 words richer.
10,000 words that would not have been written
unless you persevered
daily,
writing
consistently,
and with determination,
to complete
the task before you.
Jesus said,
some seeds fall on good soil
producing a crop:
100, 60 or 30 times
what was sown.
Yet if you don’t sow
you will never reap
that harvest of a completed goal:
a life saved,
a finished book,
a race that has been run,
a project completed.
How dreadful
to give up
while still able.
Set your goal.
Start work each day.
Measure your progress
and reap that harvest!

© Mark Anderson Smith 2017

100 words – A transformation

The goal I set myself
to write 100 words
a day
for 100 days
is one I share with you.
The power
of daily progress
cannot
be overestimated.
Brick by brick
the house is built.
Drop by drop
a lake is drained.
Small steps
towards your goal
will take you there.
Small steps
will train you,
will build discipline,
will give you a sense
of satisfaction,
will allow you
to gradually
take longer steps,
walk further each day,
run faster,
jump higher,
until…
Not only has your goal been achieved
but you as a person
are transformed.
Will you join me
today?

© Mark Anderson Smith 2017

Why do I want to blog?

Why do I want to blog?

Initially (back in 2009) it seemed like a good idea. Then I lost my way. Thinking about restarting the My 100 Goals blog requires I ask this question.

Fact is, I miss blogging. I find writing to be therapeutic. I feel better when I write my thoughts down. If I’m not writing, I get cranky.

But I can write in private. Why write in public?

Well, my life goal has always been to become a writer. I’ve been a writer my entire adult life, but blogging has helped focus my attention on the underlying desire – to have people read my stories, to make money from my writing.

I made no money from my initial blog, but am wondering about including advertising on this new platform.

But I don’t want my entire focus to be on making money…

I want to blog for Jesus. For this blog to be part of living for Jesus. Back in 2009 I wrote down my thirty first goal as: “To be and do all that God wants of me”

A web blog is an opportunity to hold myself publically accountable to that standard. Am I being and doing all that God wants of me?

Also, I want to encourage you to complete your goals. I’ve never been entirely comfortable with the “My” 100 Goals… I tried this tag line for a while: My 100 Goals, Your 100 Goals – Together we can make a difference.

I want this blog to be more outward looking, while still having 100 goals as a focus, use that to encourage you to go on to achieve your goals. To discover your purpose in life.

So, what will this blog be about?

  1. I will use it to be and do all that God wants of me.
  2. I will use this blog to encourage others to achieve their goals.
  3. This blog will be used to help others find their purpose and calling in life.
  4. I will use this blog to sell my books and to make money.
  5. I will also use this blog to help others through book reviews and sharing what others are doing.

If you think I’ve missed out something important or am on completely the wrong track – let me know!

Seth Godin

A few months ago I finally took some advice and started following Seth Godin’s blog. Almost every day he shares something short and pithy. Some insight or challenge. Usually his posts are short. Very short. Like this one: Empathy is the hard part

40 words. Plus the title.

I tend to waffle.

I have a tendency to want to maintain consistency. If I write longer posts, I want to keep writing longer posts – even when I’m not able to. Even when a shorter post would be more effective.

I need to learn to write less. Write to target…

How about you?

Setting a limit

Yesterday I started exploring using the 100 words, 100 days challenge as a method for completing a short book – no more than 10,000 words.

It raised the question, should I limit myself to only writing 100 words a day during the challenge?

While it makes the challenge much tighter in terms of constraints, 100 words is not a lot when trying to explore a complex theme.

Yet, brevity is a skill. Being able to condense what is important into as few words as possible is valuable.

Tweets, Haiku, headlines – they are all short and must be short and powerful to work.

What do you think?

10,000

One of the immediate thoughts I had after setting a goal of writing 100 words a day over 100 days was that this would make a great method for completing two non-fiction books I’ve had on the backburner for a few years.

On my previous blog I started writing 100 Crazy Ideas to Fix the Economy. I stalled after 30 posts, not because I was out of ideas – I had almost 100 crazy ideas written down, but because I didn’t know how to tackle some of the most controversial issues I posted about. When I got bad feedback – I mean, really bad feedback – I ended up abandoning the blog completely. For over two years!

I still intend to complete 100 Crazy Ideas. I still need to work out how controversial I want to be. I still need to decide how to go about releasing it… How to market it…

But, I’m fairly sure that what I need to do next is finish the book. Complete what I want to say before I make any other decisions. Once I have a full and complete first draft, then I can decide what and whether to edit and make decisions about publishing (for free on this blog and for sale elsewhere) and marketing.

It occurred to me that I need to have each chapter sharp and snappy. committing to a 100 word chapter may help me find that focus. 100 X 100 words is 10,000 words. Not a great length for a book, but maybe a very easy read. Something that anyone can quickly get through. Of course, looking at my word count for this post I’m already up to 250 words… Can I and should I limit myself to only 100 words a day for my challenge?

More about that tomorrow…