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Reading Challenge Update

Reading Challenge Update

At the start of the year, I made a plan to read 75 books in 2024. It started off very well, but lately I’ve been struggling a bit and I had to sit down and think about whether this was really something I could do, or, more precisely, whether I should do it.

Here’s the thing: I love to read, but I am starting up a business and that takes a lot of time. When I sat down and worked it out, reading 75 books a year would take about an hour and a half of reading every day. Longer, if I wanted to listen to audiobooks as part of that. That’s around 10% of my total waking time spent reading, more if you take out the essential things that I have to do every day, whether or not I want to. Then it’s more like 70% of the time I have on any given day.

I’m not quite ready to give up on the goal, but it’s looking less doable now, because some of the time I have remaining after doing all the things I need to do each day might be better spent on things that could directly benefit my business, like writing a blog post, and fixing up my website.

75 books in a year was always an ambitious target for me. Currently, I am on track to read more like 52 books, which is still a book a week and much better than I managed in the last few years.

Testing KDP Select

Testing KDP Select

One of the advantages of having a lot of books for sale is that it’s possible to try out new things and see what works. Although I have had all my books available wide for a long time now, with the launch of The Long Winter, I have decided to test KDP Select.

I am not sure what I am hoping for from the experiment. The book is a standalone post-apocalyptic thriller and I don’t know how well those sell in the marketplace. It’s worth a try though as for the foreseeable future I am going to be releasing Galdorland books. Ideally I would like those to be wide releases, but if there is a significant boost from Kindle Unlimited, I may be tempted to put them up there for the first 90 days before releasing wide.

The Long Winter is going to be available for pre-order soon with the release of 5th February.

Cultural Refugee

Cultural Refugee

I wasn’t born into this world of fast media and constant connection. The world I grew up in was one with four television channels and a home computer that could just about manage word processing. Now I have high speed internet in my pocket and instant access to millions of hours of television and films. It’s not a world that I am equipped to handle.

Few of us are.

Even people raised in such a world are about to have the rug pulled out from under them with the mainstreaming of virtual and augmented reality. We can barely handle the internet on our phones, which we at least have to take out of our pockets to look at. How are we going to manage when it’s right in front of our faces, all day.

The turnaround for cultural change is getting shorter and shorter. We had the internet at home when I was at college. Then I got a computer with internet access in my room a few years later. So I would guess there is about twenty years when things were similar. Now, the changes are coming quicker than ever, I would be surprised if there are five years.

The systems that I was taught were designed for a world where you weren’t constantly fighting to keep your attention on things. If I want to continue living in the culture of the modern world, then I need to find new ways of handling things. But that is a question, not a certainty. There is always the option of not trying to live in a modern media landscape.

Lessons Learned from the first draft of Symphony of Shadows

Lessons Learned from the first draft of Symphony of Shadows

This week was my first week back at writing after a couple of weeks off for Christmas and the new year and it takes me a week or so to get back up to speed. Rather than do that speeding up on a big project, I decided to write a short story. This morning I finished writing Symphony of Shadows.

The story has to go through editing before I release it, but should end up around 5,000 words long. It’s set in the world of Galdorland and follows an investigative reporter who receives a mysterious package which contains something terrible. It was good fun to write and let me dip my toes back into the world.

I changed some parts of my process with this short story, some of those changes didn’t work out, but I am fairly settled on the following improvements:

  1. Writing a set word count: in the past I have worked to an amount of time, and that was starting to get tough for me. I always enjoyed the writing, but staring down the barrel of a two hour writing session is kind of intimidating. So for this project I decided to work to a word count each day and it made a massive difference. Even though I probably wrote for the same amount of time, I never once found myself looking at the clock.
  2. Writing on my iPad: I would love to have a separate space purely for first draft writing, with a separate computer that I only ever used for that. Unfortunately that’s not going to happen anytime soon. So for this project I decided to try writing on my iPad using a Magic Keyboard, which is a setup I don’t use for any other type of work. It went very well and I’m planning to keep that system up as I move into writing the first Jessica book.

It feels pretty good to have a story written so early in the year. I don’t have a gap in my editing schedule to work on it for a while yet, but I’m glad I am off the starting block now.

Reading Challenge for 2024

Reading Challenge for 2024

I haven’t set a reading goal before but over the last few years I have been struggling to read as much as I would like. There always seems to be other things I should be doing instead. Consequently, the number of books I have read has decreased year on year.

  • 2015: 76
  • 2016: 60
  • 2018: 49
  • 2019: 72
  • 2020: 60
  • 2021: 41
  • 2022: 37
  • 2023: 36

There are a number of reasons for that. Some of it was due to things happening in my life that left me with little mindspace to read. Some of it is due to the fact I read the first three Stormlight Archive books last year and each of those is over 1,000 pages long.

Regardless of the reasons, I decided that this year I want to read more. The goal I have set myself for it is 75 books. That’s the simple goal.

It gets more complicated though, because some books are long (Stormlight Archive) and some books are not so long and I don’t want to be able to manipulate the results by reading shorter books.

I figured that 100,000 words is a good length to make an average and worked off that number. I read both on my Kindle and audiobooks so a rough guess is that I average about 200 words a minute across those. So all I did then was work out how long it would take me to read 75 books and then broke that down to a daily goal of 1 hour and 45 minutes. If that ends up being more or less than 75 books it doesn’t matter, I will be happy having read that amount each day.

That was the plan. The start of the year didn’t work out quite how I planned and I am only now catching up to have an average of 1 hour and 45 minutes per day.

The goal is to read more and in order to hit that amount of time, I am having to read at times I didn’t used to. Times when I would have been on Reddit or wasting my time on something else. So this challenge is having an added benefit in making me spend less time on social media.

As of this morning, I have finished three books this year:

  1. A Deadly Education – Naomi Novik (2024-01-04 Thursday)
  2. How To Be A Stoic – Massimo Pigliucci (2024-01-08 Monday)
  3. The Last Graduate – Naomi Novik (2024-01-11 Thursday)

I am starting the last Deadly Education book now. If you haven’t read it yet, I highly recomend it. It’s very good.

What is Galdorland?

What is Galdorland?

In my post yesterday I threw in the term Galdorland and you might be wondering what that’s all about. Simply put, it’s the umbrella term for all the books set in a world I have created. Think of it like Discworld, or the Marvel Cinematic Universe, or Star Wars.

Galdorland is a world that is very similar to our world. So similar, in fact, that the term Galdorland is really only something I will use to refer to the universe. As far as anyone living in that world is concerned, it is still called Earth.

The big difference between our world and the world of Galdorland is that magic and monsters that we think of as myths and legends, are very real there.

I published the first books set in Galdorland about ten years ago. Since then, the possibilities for the universe I created have kept coming back to me and every now and again I sit down and try to write them. Outside of the main books I have published a couple more “side books” and a few short stories.

The trouble with publishing more, was that I was never quite sure how that world worked and it has taken me until now to make firm plans. That means there is going to be a lot of changes.

As you may know if you’ve read some of my other posts, I am currently in the process of going back through old titles and tidying them up. What I am calling “Remasters” for want of a better term. Unfortunately, a fresh round of edits and a new cover isn’t going to be enough to fix the original Galdorland books and bring them into continuity with what I am writing now. Instead, they are going to need a bit more work.

That means I will be removing the original books from sale to do the work. The new editions will be available again in the middle of the year.

I am really excited about this project. These are books and ideas that have been with me since I started writing professionally and it now seems that I am in a position to do them justice.