Long term thinking and believing in yourself

Behind the Scenes, Children's Fiction, creativity, Depression & Anxiety, Thoughts & Ramblings

And following on from Monday’s little rant / big lesson… I was listening to Joanna Penn’s podcast the other day (which I haven’t been listening to as much as I used to), and it was an episode about author mindset. I think it was just after she’d released her book on that topic.

Anyway, she was being interviewed and she talked about one of the ‘problems’ that many indie authors have is not thinking long-term. When I finished The Caretaker of Imagination (TCOI), my intention was to keep publishing books in a loose series (which I have), at a rate of 3-4 per year (which I haven’t). She emphasised that if you stick with it, you’ll have a backlist in no time, and that’s the best thing you can do for your career.

Helen Wadsworth (whom I now work for) introducing my books at my first launch party.

Originally, my vision was that by my 31st birthday, in January 2020, I would have a backlist of about 20 books. This would be a solid platform for myself as an author.

So what went wrong? When writing TCOI, I was a bit nervous about my lack of writing experience, but confident that with constructive criticism, lots of editing, and my love of children’s literature I would be able to produce an acceptable book. I did, and then I wrote another one, Lucy’s Story: The End of the World, which I was actually really happy with (see video below).

And then I hit a snag. I received some very un-constructive criticism, and I started comparing my work unfavourably against others. I was told the way things were done, and they weren’t always what I was doing. I started taking any feedback that was given and using it to reinforce the belief that I sucked at writing. I started listening to the rules and becoming scared of breaking them. I wasn’t making a profit, and I took that as meaning I was a failure.

Because I’m stubborn, I dragged myself through a couple more books, but they took a long time, and I was dealing with the voice of self-doubt on a constant basis. I wasn’t as proud of them as I was of TCOI or of Lucy’s Story, because the criticism and rules of other people were always in the background, ready to speak up at the hint of any praise.

What comes to mind is that old adage – the best time to plant a tree is ten years ago; the next best time is today. If I’d stuck with my original schedule, I’d have about ten books in the series by now. I have four – not even halfway.

I don’t regret the non-fiction books I’ve published in the meantime, I love that I made time for painting, and for playing with zines. Both I Am A Writer and I Am An Artist were fun to write, helpful to other people (both children and adults, surprisingly), and it was a great opportunity to work with people whom I admire. But my day job is part time, and I only started studying this year. If it hadn’t let the criticism get to me, there’s no reason why I couldn’t have done both the fiction and non-fiction books.

Four of the artists from ‘I am an Artist’: Zee, Anna, Jane & Megan (photo credit: L. Simpson)

So this is me committing to myself. I know my books have value, and I know there are readers who love my weirdness. There are many, many more stories I want to tell, so I’m going to plant that tree today to grow my backlist, build a career that I am proud of, and contribute my unique voice to the literary landscape.

The Caretaker’s Colouring Book Update [gallery]

Art, Behind the Scenes

This week, I started work on a colouring book (for children and adults, as my other books are) based around scenes and characters in The Caretaker of Imagination.

The first image is of Captain Simon Peabody, with some fanciful dreadlocks and a nautical background. The second is in Edgar’s treehouse (featured on the front cover of the limited edition of the book) with two teacups, a whistling kettle, and surrounded by tea, chamomile and peppermint leaves.

X marks the spot

A to Z Challenge, The Caretaker of Imagination

Happiness and balance is something that’s often a part of my decision-making, and in The Caretaker of Imagination, it was very much a part of John’s decisions.

X marks the spot, but sometimes the spot doesn’t hide a treasure chest of cursed gold or blood-red rubies. Sometimes, the spot is that fine balance between what we want to do and what we need to do.

We’ve all been through it, no matter how old we are or what experiences life has thrown at us, and after many years John realises that all he really ‘needs’ to do is what he wants to do – enjoy life!

For my birthday this year, my brother bought me the card pictured below. I think it sums up perfectly John’s lesson in The Caretaker of Imagination.


Male Perspective, Female Writer

A to Z Challenge, On Writing, The Caretaker of Imagination

Before I started writing this book, I wasn’t sure if I could pull off the male perspective. The male and female genders are different, right? I’m not overly feminine by any means, but I’m certainly not masculine!

Early in the writing process, I was doing some research at the library. I’d pulled out all the how-to books on writing, and there was one in particular that had information most relevant for me – How to write for children and get published by Louise Jordan.

This book made an excellent point – you don’t have to think any differently! Sure, male and females have quite different attitudes sometimes, but for the most part, we’re all just people 🙂

Interested? Get your copy here.

“A great read that never leaves you bored” – Mark, Goodreads

Reviews, The Caretaker of Imagination

Coming from someone who hasn’t read a book for leisure in a few years the best way to describe this book in a word is: adventure.

Truly funny, witty, sad and happy The Caretaker of Imagination proves to be a great read that never leaves you bored and always wondering what happens next while enjoying what is happening at the time.

If you’re interested in The Caretaker of Imagination, you can purchase it from one of the links below: