New Year, New Decade, So What’s The Plan? #WeekendCoffeeShare

A few years ago I decided that I wasn’t going to bother making New Year’s resolutions anymore. The fact was that whatever I ‘resolved’ to do, I always ended up feeling like I’d failed by year end. So instead I set myself a number of goals that I wanted to achieve at some point in the year, and then periodically I would sit down and review my progress towards those goals.

CoverThis year I had a few things that I really wanted to achieve, number one on that list was publishing my poetry collection ‘It’s All In The Blood’. The collection launched in November and is now available to purchase through Amazon, so I’m counting that as goal achieved.

It’s even had it’s first review:

Quietly powerful, heartbreaking and uplifting at the same time

I’m quite chuffed with that as far as reviews go.

My other main goal for the year was to complete my AAT exams, and on the 19th December I found out I’d achieved 87% on my Personal Tax exam which means that I’ve passed all my level four assessments! Now I’m just waiting for my work experience submission to be reviewed as part of my application for full membership to the AAT.

So what now?

The next step on from AAT will be CIMA (Chartered Institute of Management Accountants) but I’ve decided to hold off for a few months and focus on my writing and my drawing. The last couple of years I’ve been trying to juggle study, writing, and a social life with varying success. For a couple of months I want to work on finishing the draft of my novel, improving my sketching skills, and writing some new poems. At the start of December I decided to have a go at a few of the DoodleWash December Prompts and I’ve been pretty happy with how most of them have turned out. I’ll admit that I didn’t draw ever day but I’ve been drawing a lot more than I was so that’s the main thing.

A new year also means a new monthly speculative prompt. Some of you might have noticed that there wasn’t one for December. The official reason was ‘a Christmas break’ the unofficial reason is ‘oops, I forgot.’ However, the January prompt is now up and ready for you all to take part.

To Self-Publish Or Not To Self-Publish? That Is The Sleep Depriving Question #WeekendCoffeeShare

About five years ago I self-published a collection of poetry through lulu.

I made exactly nothing despite apparently selling at least one book through amazon (according to the less that encouraging review posted), and in the end I retired the project.

The experience taught me a number of important things.


  1. Lulu is not the way to go if you want to sell a physical book on Amazon and make any margin.
  2. I am not a good enough editor. I need to outsource this element to avoid the number of typos and mistakes that were in the last book.
  3. Reading poems you wrote five or more years ago can be a painful experience. Especially when you realise the bad review hit the nail directly on the head.

So why am I about to give self-publishing another shot?

Well clearly I’m a glutton for punishment.

When I published ‘Before The Words Run Out’ there were thirty-two poems, a series of haiku, and some pieces of flash fiction (all of which can be found somewhere in the depths of this blog). For ‘It’s All In The Blood’ I wanted to create a collection of just poems, and ensure that the majority of them were not poems I’d already published to Writing and Works. Some have appeared elsewhere, such as on Ink Sweat and Tears, but for the most part the collection will be new pieces with a few favourites from the site sprinkled in.

The unfinished draft is sitting at forty-seven poems (it was forty-eight but I axed a poem which I didn’t feel was good enough). I was aiming to cut the collection off at fifty poems (because I like round numbers) but the final number is likely to be higher now as my recent dive back into the local poetry communities means I’m writing a lot of stuff and I’m actually really happy with most of the work I’m producing.

I am editing as I’m writing. As this is not a novel, I’m free to go back and amend, rewrite, obliterate poems as I see fit without changing the entire plot or flow of the book. This back and forth between writing and editing also means that I don’t get snow blind with my poems. It’s very easy to write something, go over it straight away and be like ‘Yeah, that’s good enough’.

No. No it is not.

I’ve got a couple of friends who are helping me with the next round of editing. Both are writers themselves, one of which has done some work in editing. Both are brutally honest and of the opinion that if they don’t say it someone else will, so it’s better coming from them.

There is a small part of me who wants to find the guy who gave me the bad review on my last collection and show him the new one. I want the chance for him to say ‘you’ve improved, well done’. (But that would be bowing to my need for approval and I’m trying very hard to shake that particular dog-turd off my shoe.)

I have been considering traditional publishing but quite honestly, I feel like I need to prove to myself that I can conquer self-publishing. This is unlikely to be my last poetry collection, I’m only twenty-five and it’s not even my first attempt. Even if this bites the dust then I will still come away with more experience that if I’d not tried at all.

IMG_1745The aim is to have the collection finished and ready to publish by autumn. (I will not specify when in autumn because ‘wiggle-room’). The title has been picked, I’m making tentative enquiries about possible cover designs with arty friends, and I’ve settled on using the Amazon self-publishing platform to produce and sell the book. It almost looks like I have a book and a plan. Almost.

A little further down the line (i.e when the book is done) I’ll be looking to do some sort of book blog tour but that is only a very small flicker on the enormous fairy-light display in my brain at the moment. For the most part I am focused on the writing and the torture that is rewrites.

In the meantime feel free to bombard me with any of your own experiences self-publishing, traditionally publishing, or just poetry writing in general. How do you balance writing poetry for a blog v poetry for a collection/competitions. Let me know in the comments below.


#WeekendCoffeeShare -Happy Poems Are Still Not My Thing

It’s Sunday already and so far this morning I’ve managed to procrastinate and avoid doing any sort of constructive work. To be fair there’s quite a bit that I could be getting on with. I have an exam on Thursday and another the following Tuesday, there’s a submission deadline for Barren Magazin. today that I wanted to have something written for, and I still have a number of poems that I wanted to go over and redraft. Instead of doing that though, I’ve decided to write this post and fetch myself another brew to see if I can kick my brain into some sort of functioning gear.

This week life has gone back to its normal routines. This has meant that my evenings were a little busier than usual and I didn’t get the chance to post as much to my blog as I wanted to. This year I’m trying not to get myself down about that. I know it means that I don’t get the same rate of stats on the site but I’m also aware that I have a pretty good core readership so a lot of my views are return readers. I’m not necessarily reaching more people by posting daily, the same people are just coming back more often, and I don’t want to be the person spamming my readers with post after post after post. Not posting every day also means I can be more strict with the quality of what I’m putting up on this site and really that’s what will drive readership in the long run.

Despite being busier this week I’ve managed to write some poetry that I’m really proud of. I now have twenty of the sixty poems that I wanted to put into a collection and the majority of them are pieces that haven’t been published on this blog. I did worry that I’d struggle to write the poems for this collection but I’ve found since deciding to pull it together I’ve been writing poems that have been mulling around my brain for years. It’s a little like a dam has been knocked down and I’ve managed to work out how to tell the stories I’ve been holding onto.

I’ve also discovered that happy poems are still not my forte. I’ve been writing about my grandmother breaking off her engagement at eighteen to leave Ireland, my mother sending my sister away to her mother-in-law’s during the first lambing season after my sister was born, and dealing with the death of friends. I have one poem which I am calling ‘The Token Happy Poem’ which I’ve thrown in just to make the collection seem a little less depressing.

I’ve also been jotting down lists of submission windows for poetry magazines to try and get some of my poems published during 2019. I don’t want to self-publish so I need to create a CV of publications where my work has been accepted in order to gain enough traction to and convince a published that they should take on my work. It will also give me something to update my ‘about‘ page with as at the moment the features on their are three or four years old at least. wordswag_15073188796611453091488 (1)

That’s about it for me week. If you are working on submitting pieces for publication this year I’d love to hear from you in the comments below. How are you finding it? Did you pick up any useful tips along the way? Do you mostly write poems for submission (poems based on prompts/competitions) or do you write poems and then consider submitting them afterwards? If you’re willing to share I’d love to listen.

Thanks for reading. Make sure to check out the host of this wonderful weekly blog event Eclectic Ali and the other bloggers who join in to share their stories. You can find them by clicking the badge above.


If We Were Having Coffee: Novel Redrafts And Flash Fiction Competition #amwriting

It’s been a while since I’ve written a Weekend Coffee Share post, months in fact, but I’m currently supposed to writing an entry for the NYC Midnight Flash Fiction Competition so this seemed like the perfect way to procrastinate.

Project StatsI signed up late for Camp NaNoWriMo this month. At the start of the month I was debating whether or not I was going to have a crack at it and decided not to because I tend to find that writing purely for word-count goals make it even harder for me to get myself into the right frame of mind for writing. That said, having  a goal in mind does help drive me forward on projects so when I started rewriting my Shadow Dawn novel around the 10th July, I decided that I’d set myself a 30,000 word goal for the month and use Camp NaNoWriMo to help me hit that target. I’ve got more time to focus on my writing this month as  I’m still waiting for the result of my last AAT Level 3 exam which means I haven’t got any studying to do. However, other social engagements are taking up most of my weekends so my current progress has been limited to what I can write during my lunch hour at work. Hence the pitiful looking bar chart above.

As I mentioned at the start of this post, I’m also taking part in the NYC Midnight’s Flash Fiction competition. The deadline for round one is 4am (GMT) so I’ve got the rest of this afternoon to sort out my 1,000 words story and submit it, even if the heat is making it almost impossible for me to get on with anything. I’d rather melt than write at the moment so I’m hoping hammering out a post might encourage me to hammer out a thousand words of fiction in a few minutes time. I can easily write a thousand words in a hour so a first draft should be straight forward, I just wish the weekend wouldn’t slip past me so quickly.

*Note: It’s now almost five in the evening as I’ve been procrastinating from writing this post as well. I really need to learn to just get on with things.*


Tomorrow will mark DVerse Poets Pub coming back off their two week break, something I’ve been looking forward to since their first day of absence. For the last fortnight I’ve been desperate for poetry prompt so I can’t wait until Monday’s Quadrille night.

I’m also trying to work out how to take my poetry to the next level on this poem. When going through the stats on this site I realize that I only reach about fifty views per post most of the while so I’d really like to start bumping that number up. I suppose the upside to that total is that my view total stays quite close to my likes total so I can see that most people who read the poems, go on to liking them. I just need to find a way of getting more people reading them.

Other than that there isn’t much going on this weekend. I hope yours have been slightly more productive than mine and I will now go off and get this flash fiction piece written for NYC Midnight before I find a way to procrastinate right up to the deadline. All the best for the next week and thanks for reading.


If We Were Having Coffee: A Quarterly Review – Muddling Through 2018

IMG_1745The end of March is closing in and the first quarter of the year is almost done, so now seems about as good a time as any to take a look back over the last three months and see if I’ve managed to get any closer to completing my 2018 goals. Even if you don’t make new years resolutions, we each have targets that we want to see ourselves achieve. Some are small such as finally sorting through that box of pens that moved back home with you from uni, some are larger, like completing the next stage of your accountancy qualifications. Either way, it is important to acknowledge whether or not we achieve them, and if we haven’t, what progress we’ve made and what we need to do to reach that goal.

Writing Goals: 2018

Each year, for the last six years, I’ve told myself that I will finish writing that novel. That novel is still unfinished, but it’s certainly closer to being complete than it’s ever been. This month I managed to write out a chapter by chapter breakdown of the plot and for once I haven’t got an ending that doesn’t feel much like an ending. If that doesn’t make much sense, then what I mean is the last part of previous drafts tended to feel like they just petered out. This time I think that I might have got it right. Of course I still need to get on and re-write the draft.

Aside from finishing my novel, this year’s writing goals include me trying to submit more entries into competitions. In the past I’ve entered one of two competitions a year, for 2018 I set myself the goal of entering at least three writing competitions. So far I’ve submitted to the following:

  • The 2017/2018 International Book & Pamphlet Competition
  • The Laureates Prize (Automatic entry for this is included with the above)
  • The Alpine Fellowship Writing Prize

Technically that hits the goal I set myself for the year, so I decided to move the finishing line. Seeing as we’re a quarter of the way through the year I thought it was only right that I multiply that goal by four. Instead of aiming to enter three competitions in 2018, I’m now aiming for twelve. I’ve got a month by month lists of the up-coming deadlines for writing competitions and I’m picking and choosing which ones I want to submit to. Two that I’m set on are the NYC Screen Writing Competition, and The Birdport Prize Novel Competition. Screen writing is not a completely new genre for me but it’s one that I’ve only dabbled in so the challenge should be a fun one. The novel competition will be just the first 5,000 words of my book but it’s a good motivator to get those 5,000 words to a place where I’m happy to show them to the world.

The end of March also brings the start of April and that means three things.

  • NaPoWriMologo-napowrimo
  • Camp NaNoWriMo
  • The A-Z Blogging Challenge

The next redraft of my book will include a lot of writing from scratch as I realized a lot of the current draft is fluff that will probably need cutting. The aim is to use Camp NaNoWriMo to get a rough draft of those chapters down on paper before the start of May so then my focus can really move to editing rather than writing.

National Poetry Writing Month is my favorite challenge of the year and in 2016 I smashed it! Last year not so much, so I need to prove to myself that I can do it again and it will also be a great challenge to get me writing lots of poetry that I can perhaps use for some of those competitions that I want to enter.

Lastly we have the A-Z Blogging Challenge, this is one that I’ve not before. I almost took part last year and then didn’t really write for the whole of April. I’m sure I can work the concept into my daily blogs though and it’s very much a community based challenge like NaPoWriMo and Camp NaNoWriMo which I love.

Blog Goals

Now a lot of my blog goals co-inside with my writing goals, and if you read this blog regularly you will have seen my 2018 goals listed in previous goals. So far I haven’t managed to hit any of them. I was doing quite well at the start of March, I’d picked myself up out of a slump and was posting pretty much every day. Then we hit mid-month and that fell out of sync.


As you can see from the stats above. I’ve not been very good about posting in the second half of March and that was something I told myself I was going tackle this year. I have to say though, my house looks fantastic! Two weeks of spring cleaning instead of writing has really got the place looking good.

However, back to the matter at hand. Getting onto a blogging schedule seems to be the problem for me, so the following goals are the ones that I want to have achieved by the middle of the year in the hopes of fixing that problem.

  1. Find a schedule that I can stick to with my blog with at least one piece of flash fiction a week, two/three pieces of poetry, and a chatty blog post about my writing outside of this blog.
  2. Increase my daily traffic so I can finally beat that ‘Best Ever’ view count from October 6th 2015. Yes that’s right, that view count is from almost three years ago and it’s simply laziness that’s kept me from getting close to it again.
  3. Write the second installment for the ‘Case One: The Missing Boy‘. This went up on March 11th and the aim is to write the sequel by April 11th. There have also been a few calls to write a follow up to ‘The Curse Of The Ex-Wife’ but that one is very much on the back-burner for now.


So, that’s it for the first quarter of the year. You’ve seen my triumphs and my failures so far in and hopefully I’ve given you a little encouragement to have a look at what you want for yourself this year and achieve it. Let me know in the comments below what you’re aiming for this year and if you’ve managed to achieve any of those goals yet? Perhaps you have some advice for me on keeping up with a blogging schedule, or perhaps you just fancy a chat. Either way, you know where that comment section is and I can’t wait to hear from you.

Thanks for reading and happy writing.