Winter is coming – plans for the rest of 2015

Autumn colours on the drive at Inzievar

Autumn colours on the drive at Inzievar

I love September. It’s been a while since I was studying anything but it still feels like a time of new beginnings, of fresh opportunities, of renewed energy. A time for pencil-sharpening and planning and setting goals. It’s also when those of us who live in Scotland can stop pretending that we’re getting a summer and pack away our sandals and linen trousers, digging out our faithful boots and cardigans and returning to a state of warm feet and less ironing.

It’s also a time for reflecting on the year so far and this has been a good year on the whole. I set myself a target of Easter for finishing my first novel and I managed to hit that and then spent a couple of months polishing it and querying agents before the summer holidays and our fantastic, four-week trip to San Francisco. Our house is completely finished now and the renovations of the Fife cottage are complete and our new tenants settled in so we can start looking for the next project.

So what are the plans for rest of this year?

Work-wise, I want to get on top of all my paperwork, including getting the annual accounts to our long-suffering accountant in plenty of time so that we/he don’t have a last-minute panic to get them submitted by the end of December.

Also on a work theme, the last quarter of the year is when we sell the most Glenogle and Bell subscriptions as they’re such perfect gifts, so I need to spend plenty of time marketing G&B to make sure that everyone knows that we can solve all their present-buying conundrums and in a way that means that every single month the recipient will be reminded of their thoughtfulness and excellent taste.

Fidra Books has been taking a backseat lately and needs some attention. So many publishers have rediscovered the value in their authors out of print titles over the last few years; something we and other small publishers have been doing for a decade (is it really that long? Crikey). With the increase in ebook sales and the cheapness with which books can be digitised by out-sourcing, it’s now possible for them to keep titles in print indefinitely, selling mainly ebooks and a few print-on-demand copies. That means fewer titles that we want to publish are available and costs have risen while book prices haven’t. I’ll blog about this subject more in the future. I love our books and our authors and our readers but we do need to have a good think about the future. We have a new book due in early November but we do need to spend some of this quarter developing a long term strategy.

Writing-wise, I’ve had some fantastic feedback about The Novel all saying that while my writing is good and I do have talent, the plot isn’t strong enough. Which is fine as I kind of suspected that. So, the plot I had in mind for Book 2 and which is much better is being tweaked and I’m going to rewrite The Novel, using that. I like to think that I might be able to use of the best bits of the first attempt but I fear that won’t work. I have a 12k word outline and the next step is to turn that into a plan in Scrivener and get cracking. By New Year I hope, no, plan, to have a first draft finished.

On a personal level, I want to get fitter. I have a gammy knee – look after your knees kids, you’ll miss them when they’re gone – and I know that it is less troublesome and painful when I’m fitter. So I’m planning to get a Fitbit and start clocking up the steps as well as finding a new Pilates class. I’m not a gym bunny – I don’t mind the exercise and quite like the fact that I can get it all done by 9am but I feel out of place and it feeds my insecurities so why pay a monthly sub for that? Pilates and lots of walking will make a big difference.

We’re also going to start looking for our next dog. We lost Teaga, our much-loved and much-missed Leonberger a couple of years ago and it’s now time to fill the dog-shaped whole in the household. Teaga was rehomed to us and although she had her issues – very needy, couldn’t bear to be left alone at all and didn’t even know how to play ‘fetch’ such was the sadness of her first year – she turned out fine. We’re going to contact the breed rescue and see if there’s another Leo that needs lots of love. And walks and grooming and food and almost certainly training but mostly love.

And I’m going to blog more. I know I’ve said that before but I’ve been told by two agents that I should because my blog used to be popular back in the day when people blogged because they were passionate about something and where no-one used words like ‘monetization’ and ‘brand’. I’ll be mostly talking about books and how my writing is going and bookshops and the booktrade and interviewing authors and other book industry types but there will also be some more random posts about travel or yarn or exhibitions or cooking and the like because although I know that these days bloggers are supposed to ‘stay on brand’, I’ve never been that type of blogger and I’ve been doing this since 2006 and feel a little as though that entitles me to write what I like. Hopefully some of my old readers will come back and some new ones will stop by and we’ll all potter on together talking about books and so many interesting things.

So that’s a rather longer than intended romp through what my plans are for the rest of the year, what are you hoping to achieve by Hogmanay?

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