2017: The Year That Was

Before I forge on into this New Year, I had one more task I wanted to do here on the blog. I thought it would be interesting to examine my stats (helpfully supplied by WordPress) on how I am doing here.

It’s a bit humbling, to be honest, but ho hum. The truth hurts! The good news is the number of views per post is finally starting to go up a bit.I’ve had a few posts get over 100 views this year, so that’s a nice change.

Unknown-1

Here’s the details, in unforgiving black and white:

  1. Most popular post on the blog – the post that has been viewed the most (239 times) is my review of “The Last Kingdom”, the Netflix miniseries about the Dark Age warrior Uthred,  based on the Saxon books by Bernard Cornwall. This appeared on the blog in 2016, so it doesn’t count as the most popular of 2017, but it’s tops over all, so I thought I should mention it.
  2. Most popular post in 2017 – my recent post on Kings and Queens of Anglo-Saxon England got the most views in 2017, with  196 views. That was up on the blog in December and was my last post this year on Anglo-Saxon people and culture. I’m glad to see this topic resonating with readers.
  3. Second and third most popular in 2017 – those go to Penda: King of Mercia (165 views, from February) and What They Wore: Clothing in the 7th Century (110 views, from August). Again, I’m happy that these posts are generating some interest.
  4. Least favourite from 2017  – the dubious honour for this goes to my Year of Fun Reading: Wrap Up (10 views). But that’s probably because that was only a week ago and it was posted in the week between Christmas and New Year. So I’m not sure the lack of views means that people weren’t interested.

It’s interesting to have a look at the numbers, but I find it hard to do any kind of useful analysis on them. It’s probably (hopefully) not true to say that a post is no good judging by the amount of views it gets. Lots of other variables factor in, including time of day you post, and how many people share the post (thank you SO much to those who have done this!). But in general I will say a few things strike me as I look at these stats.

  • The number of views are generally increasing. So, I will take that as a positive.
  • People are liking the posts on Early Middle Ages people and culture. These tend to be the most popular posts on the blog.
  • Book reviews, such as my “Year of” reading challenges and other reviews, are fairly popular, and posts about writing, are slightly less popular that those. And less popular than both those are the posts with my original fiction. That’s not so great for this aspiring writer!

I have tried to do a better job of promoting my blog on social media, mainly via Twitter. I have used Hootsuite to schedule posts so that there is more from me on Twitter but this is something I could definitely improve upon. So I will try to be a little more intentional about that this year and see if I can get my readership continuing to grow.

Unknown-2

The whole spectre of marketing my work is a huge area that I know I can improve upon. There is reams of advice out there for bloggers on how to do that, so I will take some time to work on this in 2018.

However, there is a delicate balance here that I find tricky. I really enjoy writing here on the blog, and I try to do a decent job of crafting interesting posts. Each post probably takes from two to four hours to write. Depending on the topic and the amount of research I have to do, it might be longer.

But I’m also trying to get a novel published. Definitely my writing here detracts from that, just because time spent here is time I’m not spending on my book.  I really enjoy posting here, and the connections I have made through my blog are wonderful, so I don’t want to give it up. And I can see that WHEN I get my book published, it will be good to have this space as a place to connect with readers. So I have to be careful with time management for it all to work.

Last year I developed a writing schedule that I managed to stick to fairly well, but I will spend some time this month revisiting that. I find that setting goals really helps me. I really want to be able to publish in 2018, so I need to get my ducks in a row. And I need to do some serious work on figuring out strategies for effective book launches, and marketing of said book, etc.

There’s lots to look forward to in 2018! Thank you to all my faithful readers, and double thanks to those who take the time to comment or share my posts. You all are a great encouragement and blessing to me, and I look forward to continuing to connect with you here on The Traveller’s Path in the year to come.

Onward and upward!!


Feature photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash

Advertisements

Seeds: What’s Next?

It’s springtime here in Alberta, and that means planting. I have been doing my part to make the earth fruitful, in my small little plot of land that is my yard. Some bedding plants, some perennials, and a few tomatoes and an couple of pumpkins. That’s as far as I got.

In previous years I have had a more extensive garden, including carrots, and peas, and potatoes, and other various vegetables which generally meant a whole lot of work without not much yield, due to the craziness of trying to grow vegetables when there is a possibility of snow or freezing pretty much any month of the year here. Hence my lack of enthusiasm this year!

It’s always fun to plant the seeds, though, and watch the garden grow. This year I may not have planted any physical seeds, but there are a few seeds rattling around in my brain all the same; seeds of book plans, future blog posts, and  future writing endeavours.

I thought I would share these here, just to help keep myself accountable!

  1. THE BOOK/S (1? 2? 3?)

a) Revisions

I spent some time doing some planning the other day, and mapped out how many more chapters of revision I have to do and made myself a time-line, just so I have something to shoot at. Turns out if I can do about 6 chapters a week, I should be finished revision by the end of August, even with the holidays we have planned over the summer.

I am hoping to get the revised MS to beta readers in September. If any of you are interested in being a beta reader, I would be happy to take you up on it. And for those of you who have read the earlier draft and want to see the more polished version, I’d love to get your feedback as well. It will be the whole kit and caboodle, as they say, not just the first of the trilogy that you have read before, just to sweeten the deal.

b) Next steps?

After revisions are done, I will have to take the feedback from the beta readers and look at the whole MS and make some decisions. Will it be one book? Or maybe two? What is the best way forward? Does some of the things I took out need to come back?

I have to get a book launch plan in place, and a cover, and marketing plans, etc. I plan to do this over October and November. I will also do the final edits in October. I’m toying with sending it out again for a professional edit, but I’m not sure. We’ll see.

c) Launch?

Keeping in mind all of the above, and depending on how the revisions and feedback from readers goes, I’m looking at a launch sometime in the first half of the New Year. Which totally terrifies me. Watch this space!

 

Unknown

2. FUTURE BLOG POSTS

I am settling into a bit of a rhythm here on the blog, and so far it’s working pretty well for me this year. I don’t know if you have noticed, but generally the months are structured like this:

First week – something about the Dark Ages. Might be a focus on a person from that time, or  something about the culture, or whatever strikes my fancy. As my book is set in this era, I like to keep that focus to hopefully gain interest on my book, both before and after publication.

Second week – something random, maybe a book or movie review, or another Dark Ages post, or an interview with another writer, or whatever. Once in awhile I’ll throw in some writing-related topics, like my recent one on tropes.

Third week – this is where I hope to have my Fiction Feature, where I share original short stories, like last week’s story, and this one I put up a couple of months ago.

Fourth week – my review of the book I read for my Year of Fun Reading.

I”m not exactly tied to this structure with bonds of steel. My first and last posts of the month will generally be as I have outlined here, but I have a little more flexibility with the middle two. Probably I won’t get a story up every month, but I’m aiming to get one up every two months for sure.

At the beginning of the month I try to fill in the topics for each week, just to avoid the weekly panic of what to write about. A little planning goes a long way. (I should remember that, to curb my “pantsing” tendencies…)

Unknown-2

3. FUTURE WRITING ENDEAVOURS

a) Professional market?

The last couple of years I have had a goal to get published in a professional paying short story market. There are two reasons for this, first of all these markets generally pay better, but more importantly, I want to see if I can get accepted into the markets where the big boys play. I’ve had no success so far, but I have had at least one publication tell me to send them something else, so that’s inching forward, at any rate.

Unknown-1

Er, yes. It can take a looonnggg time to hear back…..

It’s hard, though. I’m naturally more of a novel writer than a short story writer. But it’s good practice for me to write shorter pieces, it helps me with my book writing.

So, this is still a goal but I find with being caught up in the book revisions I don’t have as much time to write short stories. That is one of the reasons I decided to put more stories on my blog, it forces me to write them! But then I also have to write some for publication, as generally editors don’t want anything previously published, and having a story on a blog (on any other online venue) is considered previously published. It all comes down to time, and priorities. I have to put the book first, so story-writing often gets pushed aside.

b) Professional development

I hope to schedule more time for growth as a writer. That means more writing, as explained above, but workshops, conferences, etc are good, too. Unfortunately I will miss the wonderful When Words Collide festival in Calgary, I will be out of province then. But there are many opportunities for writers these days, just looking online you can find myriad opportunities for writers who want to work on their craft. And I’ve got lots of “how to” books I can work through as well. So I don’t have any excuse.

Unknown-3

In October I’m treating myself to a marvellous experience called Hutchmoot, in Nashville. This is the brainchild of the folks over at The Rabbit Room, which is pretty much my favourite place on the web. It’s not a writing workshop per se, but it will be a great place for my artistic soul to get refreshed and filled. And I’m hoping to meet some fellow writers and get some encouragement (and give some, too!).

I hope your spring and summer season is full of fruitful seeds, as well. Thank you so much for stopping by here, and reading my words. It is appreciated more than you know.

And if you have any suggestions for what YOU would like to see me do here, please let me know in the comments.

 


Feature image from D Sharon Pruitt, on flickr

A Difficult Generosity: A reblog

I’ve been away, watching the wild waves pound the shore and spending lovely alone time with my hubby as we explored magnificent Vancouver Island. I’m back now, but sadly behind on my posting schedule for this blog. And obviously I hadn’t organized myself enough to have two posts written to cover the Fridays I was gone a-holidaying. Hmm. Maybe that organized person will be me, someday.  In the meantime, I thought I would share with you a post I read recently, by the talented Sarah Clarkson. It encapsulates so well my own thoughts about writing that I thought I would let her speak for me today, as she says it so much better than I could.  Enjoy…and I’ll be back with my own gift of words on Friday as I bring you my thoughts on The Screwtape Letters, one of my Year of Reading Lewis posts.

Enjoy, and leave a comment if you like!

http://www.thoroughlyalive.com/2014/06/a-difficult-generosity

Photo: https://www.flickr.com/photos/transforminggenerosity/13924533105

Seeds

It’s springtime, and my thoughts are starting to turn towards the garden, and flowers, and seeds. Spring is my favourite season. I love the slow turning from brown to green, the warmer temps, the longer days. It’s a time of renewal and hope after the long, dark winter.

April was a crazy month for me. But it is starting to calm down a bit, although I’m still in catch-up mode. My writing life is slowly reawakening, thankfully, and I’m looking forward to getting back to a regular rhythm of writing. But I’m behind, and especially here on the blog I feel my lack of attention. I started with a whole bunch of ideas, and had about four posts written before I launched back in January. Sadly, those pre-written posts are all used up, and I’m feeling the pressure of sitting down on a Thursday and knowing I want to have something up the next day.

However, I do have some “seeds” – ideas for future posts. So, in a bit of a cheat, I’m going to share these with you here. Eventually these seeds will bloom into full-blown posts, or maybe not, if I get feedback that one or another has zero interest.

Anyway, here they are:

  • “Religion is what you do with your solitude” – Archbishop William Temple. I love this quote. It resonates with me on many levels, but especially as it relates to the monks at Lindisfarne, back in the 7th century. It’s a great opening to a post on the everyday lives of the monks, how they structured their days, and why.
  • Aidan of Lindisfarne. The fun thing about writing historical fiction is that you get to learn about people and places you have never encountered before. Aidan was one of these figures. He has a major part in my books, as he was the Bishop/Abbot of Lindisfarne when my main character, Thomas, arrives there. Bede, although certainly disagreeing with the Celtic flavour of the Christianity Aidan and the rest of the Irish monks practiced, had nothing but admiration for Aidan. His story is worthy of a blog post, I think.
  • Elves in story and imagination. Why are they so fascinating? These mysterious beings are a major part of my story world, known in my novels by one of their alternate names, the Fey. There are so many different cultures that have “elves” as part of their mythologies. I thought I might share with you some of the history of the elves that I dug up in my research.
  • My publishing journey. I don’t want to make this blog too “writer”-centered, and, really, there are so many more blogs out there with helpful tips on writing and publishing. But perhaps you all would like updates now and then on what I am doing to get my books published.
  • Book reviews – I have several books that I am either currently reading, have read, or that are on my “to read” list, which I would like to review. They include:
    • The King in the North: The Life and Times of Oswald of Northumbria, by Max Adams. I’m halfway through this one, hope to finish it soon.
    • A Stitch of Honor, by K.M. Carroll. A novella by one of my internet writing buds, combining knitting and sci-fi. Needless to say, I can’t wait to read it.
    • The Discovery of Middle Earth: Mapping the Lost World of the Celts, by Graham Robb. My kids got me this one for Mother’s Day. Itching to get into this one too!
    • The Hum and the Shiver (Tufa #1), by Alex Bledscoe. Hands down one of the best titles of a book I have ever seen. And it’s about the Fey, as well, with a similar but different take on them to the one I bring in my book. Read this one about a year ago, but I would like to review it here soon.
    • The Wool Trilogy, by Hugh Howey. One of the first self-published books to really take off. Again, knitting themes (at least in the titles), so I couldn’t resist.
    • The Name of the Wind, by Patrick Rothfuss. Not much left to say about this huge fantasy blockbuster but I would like to throw my feeble offering into the pile of myriad reviews that this series has generated.
    • The Serpent’s Sword: The Bernicia Chronicles, Book One, by Matthew Harfly. I connected with Matthew over Twitter as he is writing about the same era, people, and places as myself. His first book in his series has just been released, and I’m looking forward to reading it. It’s a straight historical, though, no fantasy elements. From all accounts lots of clashing swords and action.

That’s about it for now. I am going to continue with my Year of Reading Lewis series, and the occasional Saturday Short, featuring some of my short stories. I would also like to add some author interviews and guest posts, to spice things up a bit.  But if you all have any thoughts about any of these or ideas on what YOU would like me to include in this blog, please let me know!

Photo: D Sharon Pruitt, on flickr