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Happy New Year!

This holiday season has looked very different to any that have gone before, and was very different for everyone depending on where they were in the world. Wherever you are, whatever degree of restrictions you are currently subject to, I hope that your holiday period was as enjoyable as humanly possible.

I was very quiet on the blog front for the second half of last year, as I was deep in the writing and publishing process of two brand new supernatural short stories, Bedouin Boy and Grave Bargains. My blogging efforts have been inconsistent at best in recent times, so I have set myself a blogging goal for 2021 which I feel will be more achievable.

I post much more regularly on my socials, so if you would like a daily injection of writing, reading and general inspiration (and beach sunset photos), be sure to follow @katekelsenauthor and like my Facebook author page.

On New Year’s Day, I made myself a pot of my favourite black tea and sat on my balcony with my new diary and brainstormed a masterplan for 2021, including absolutely everything I wanted to do this year. This plan includes study goals, writing, publishing and marketing goals, and also some personal and spiritual goals for good measure.

I divided my year up into four quarters of 90-day periods, and made plans for what I want to achieve in those periods. I am going to start off each of these 90 day periods with a blog post to share with you what I am up to, including my progress from the previous three months and what I have planned for the following three months. If time permits, I will try and post an update on here once a month. I intend to eventually turn these updates into a newsletter, when I get around to setting up my author newsletter. For now, I will work with what I have, which is this blog. If you’d like to see more frequent updates on what I’m up to, and receive more regular injections of inspiration, be sure to follow me on Facebook and Instagram.

My publishing theme for 2021, at least for the first half of the year, is ‘Nothing New’.

This year is very much going to be about the completion of projects that have been in the works over the past 12-24 months. Most of my previously published titles are now available as eBooks, and in 2021 I will be focusing on completing my book distribution with the print versions. By January 2021, I want all of my previously published books to be available in both print and eBook, so that in the New Year I can shift my focus completely to new writing and publishing projects.

2021 marks ten years since the publishing of my first book, The Wilted Rose. I am aiming to re-release the print version of The Wilted Rose in March, and publish the long-awaited sequel in October in time for Mental Health Week. I have some exciting plans to celebrate this ten-year anniversary and the new release in the coming months- watch this space!

I will also be diving back into book marketing and promotion, something that has been basically non-existent for me and my books in 2020. Last year, everyone was extremely distracted, and for the most part book marketing and promotion felt like a bit if a waste of time. In order to deal with what was going on, I focused on reconnecting with the pure joy of writing, which was the fuel I needed to face the challenges of the pandemic, and a much-needed escape and distraction. In 2021, I aim to get my head back into this marketing and promotion space, and hopefully start selling some books! Make sure you keep an eye on this blog and my socials for book promotions and giveaways.

As for writing, for NaNoWriMo 2020, I started the first draft for the sequel to The Wilted Rose, which I am continuing to work on in these early months of 2021. I am hoping to have this first draft completed by the end of March, and well on the way to completion by June.

I am also continuing to collect stories for Wander Woman, my upcoming collection of women’s travel stories, and start a travel blog to which this book will be connected, and where I will also share my past travel experiences. If you are a woman with a unique travel experience, please get in touch. I am not looking for trips to Bali with the girls- I am looking for stories from women who have traveled off the beaten track, or who have overcome some adversity in order to travel, e.g. disability or hardship. If you know someone who has a story that might be suitable, please pass this information onto them. I have already received some incredibly inspiring stories, which I cannot wait to share in this book.

My professional study goals include finishing my Certificate 3 in Business, and start my Certificate 3 in Fitness. My personal study goals include completing The Artist’s Way.

Last year was so full of fear. Fear of uncertainty, of the unknown. Last year I gave away so much of my time, energy and mental space to the fear. In 2021, I am giving COVID the absolute bare minimum attention required. I will be sensible and safe of course. I am not in denial of reality. But this year, my blinkers are on, and I am focusing on my goals. I hope you will join me on this journey, and that my example can be of inspiration to you. I love communicating with my community, so if you would like to reach out, please do. If I can be of any assistance to your creative journey in 2021, please let me know.

Your creativity is a source of strength during these challenging times, and I implore you to draw on it in 2021. When times are tough it can be hard to motivate yourself and find the mental, emotional and physical energy to be creative. But creativity is a source of energy in itself, and sometimes we have to put the proverbial horse before the cart and be creative in order to replenish our energy levels. Sometimes we just need to show up, for ourselves and our creative endeavours, and do the thing even when we don’t feel like it, and we will be delighted to discover how inspired we feel as a result. And, of course, let ourselves rest when we need to.

We all knew that January 1st, 2021 wasn’t going to be the magical day when everything went back to ‘normal’. To the contrary, this year is already presenting new, unique challenges. But if we can take this New Year off its pedestal of expectations, and let it be what it will be, we will be much more content as a result. This can be a great year, if we choose to make it so.

Let’s do this!

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Daily Writing Inspiration

I love hearing about people’s dreams and goals, but I must admit over the years I have grown weary of hearing about people’s goals but never seeing results. I know that things change for people- what I’m talking about the constant ‘dreamers’, those with shiny object syndrome, who always have fantastic new ideas but never follow through. Those who talk about what they’re ‘gunna’ do, but never seem willing to put in the work to get there. Those who give up at the first sign of hard work.

One of my strong personal values is integrity. I like to see people sticking to their word, and doing what they say they’re going to do. Being committed to your goals means being willing to do the hard, boring bits too.

So, what ACTION are you going to take toward achieving your goals this week?

 

Plot

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Letting Go

Last week I discovered the libraries here on the Gold Coast hold an event called ‘Writing Fridays’, a structured day of writing using the Pomodoro Technique. Writing Fridays have been on hold since the libraries closed, but they recently announced that Gold Coast writers could now join free virtual Writing Fridays sessions every Friday from 10am to 4pm. So Friday has officially become my writing day. No publishing, just writing. Today I’ll be working on the second draft of my upcoming short story ‘Bedouin Boy’.

Like many other creatives, 2020 has been challenging for me. For the most part I think I’ve done alright, and I’ve been using the extra time at home to move through my writing and publishing goals. I have been working hard to keep in touch with my writing and publishing goals throughout the pandemic, but every now and then, I’m hit with an overwhelming sense of hopelessness, and I ask myself if there is any point to any of it. I ask myself why I am bothering to pursue any of these goals at all, especially the publishing ones.

But the pandemic is not the first time my writing and publishing goals have been seriously shaken up. It is not the first time on this journey that I have been moved to re-examine my writing and publishing dream, and challenge the picture of success I had conceived in my head.

I started taking my writing seriously around the age of eighteen. I completed a correspondence writing course that I had begun in high school, and became a member of the Queensland Writers Centre. It was around this time that I started working on my first book, a novella titled ‘The Wilted Rose’. I was also writing lots of short stories and submitting them to competitions around Australia, and getting a few wins here and there.

I decided to self publish The Wilted Rose when I was 21. I hadn’t tried very hard with the traditional publishing avenue at that stage, but I figured that I could self publish whilst also sending the book out to trad publishers. For many years I struggled to decide which channel I wanted to focus my attention on, all the while clinging to the vision of becoming the next J. K. Rowling. I read lots of articles about whether to choose trad or self publishing. Most discouraged the self publishing path and encouraged authors to try and find success in the traditional publishing world first. I was so conflicted.

Self publishing has become much more widely accessible, affordable and accepted in recent years. This certainly excited me, and I was delighted at the benefits of retaining so much more control over the publishing process. However I was still clinging to that picture of success I had conceived at the start of my writing and publishing journey. Deep down I didn’t want to completely let go of the dream of traditional success.

Then came the pandemic, and like so many other creatives I have struggled to keep my writing and publishing dreams alive. Wondering how this event has changed my ability to achieve my writing and publishing goals, in the short and long term.

Once again, I have been forced to take a long hard look at my writing and publishing dreams and goals, and to review them against the current events. I shifted my focus to setting up my eBook distribution, and put off setting up my paperbacks until the restrictions began to ease and the delivery of physical books could resume.

It has not been so much the need to review and adjust my goals in response to the pandemic that has been confronting to me. I felt like I had just gotten to the stage where I could detach emotionally from my long-held publishing dreams and goals, and to allow myself to consider new, better options. Now, even those options, and any kind of success with them, seem threatened by the pandemic.

What this pandemic has shown me is not how important my writing is to other people, but how important it is to me, and how vital it is to my mental health and emotional well-being. It has helped me detach from my ideals of success, and reconnect even more with the simple act of writing. Writing, not for anyone else, but for me.

In moments of weakness and hopelessness, I have slipped back into negative thought patterns, and wondered what relevance my books and the stories they contained have in the current state of things. People are distracted, emotionally and mentally drained. But in these moments of weakness, when the cloud of hopelessness lifts, I come back to the same truth every time. At the core, my writing is for me, and no-one else. And if in the process I can inspire others just by doing what’s right for me in this moment, then I’m glad.

No matter how my publishing goals change throughout this global shift, one thing has stayed consistent for me, and that is the act of writing itself. As always, writing has served as a source of strength inspiration to me. A way to lift my spirits, a place to escape when the real world becomes too much. I have had to let go of so much in regards to my publishing experience and what I thought that would look like, but my writing experience remains untouched. No matter what happens in the external world, as long as I have the use of my right hand and my mind, I will always have the simple, joyful act of writing.