J.S. Watts's Blog

March 26, 2020

Things I Wish I'd Known: The Final Instalment

Over on Meier Writers, J.S. has a new guest blog post out. It's the last in the series, Things I Wish I'd Known, and reflects on the experience, as well as things J.S. still doesn't know

Here's the opening of the post:




When I started writing this series of guest blog posts, back in the distant mists of 2019, I wish I’d known how many posts I was going to write. Maybe I’d have structured things better, but I didn’t, so I didn’t. I just put pen to paper (yes, I write first drafts longhand. Is that an issue?) and kept on writing.

About what has subsequently turned out to be half way through, I developed a fixation on getting to seven posts. I have a memory of seven being the magic number for U.S. TV series, as in a show got syndicated after seven series. Does that still happen? But what the syndication rights of television programmes have to do with an indefinite series of blog posts, I still don’t know.

Then the publication of my next novel, Old Light, was unavoidably and unexpectedly delayed (see the sixth post in this series: Getting Published Can Take a Long, Long Time) until about the time of the seventh post and I felt I shouldn’t end things just as the book was coming out because it would look as if I had planned it that way as a marketing ploy (no planning was involved in the writing of this series, let me reassure you, and even less marketing – see the seventh post for that). So, I kept on writing...


To finish reading the post or to read the post in its entirety, please go to https://www.meier-writers.com/post/gu...
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Published on March 26, 2020 02:57 Tags: blog, blog-post, endings, guest-post, j-s-watts, mark-meier, old-light, things-i-wish-i-d-known, writing

February 29, 2020

Old Light is Published

J.S. Watts’ impatiently awaited new novel, Old Light, is officially launched today! It's the second book in the popular Witchlight series (as published by Strange Fictions Press, an imprint of Vagabondage Press) and carries forward the story of magic and witchcraft started in Witchlight.

Holly has had a year to deal with the family-sized portion of Old Magic she has inherited. Her focus is on the future, but when both The Coven and the past come calling, the future she has imagined seems to be slipping form her grasp.

If the past is truly a different country, it turns out it is a dark and bloody one that shares a border with the present – a border that is frequently crossed.

Holly needs to right a past wrong and lay some old ghosts, without becoming one herself, if she is to come to terms with her present and claim her future.

The novel is available in paperback and e-book formats and is available from all the usual outlets, including online via Amazon.

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Published on February 29, 2020 03:52 Tags: fantasy, j-s-watts, magic, old-light, paranormal, witchlight

February 27, 2020

Things I Wish I'd Known: No One Really Knows What Marketing Works

Over on Meier Writers, J.S. has a new guest blog post out. It's the penultimate in the series, Things I Wish I'd Known, and takes a somewhat cynical view of the marketing process.

Whether such a viewpoint is sensible this close to the 29th February launch of her new novel, Old Light, remains to be seen.

Here's the opening of the post:


My new novel will be available in paperback and e-book formats on Saturday, 29th February (Old Light, Vagabondage Press, February 2020). It’s all about magic and witchcraft and how to live with an extra large portion of it in the modern world, despite someone or something being out to get you.

I’m excited. The drive to promote and market the book is strong. I’m fired up. My publisher is fired up. I’ve read all the guidance notes on marketing I can get my hands on. I’ve watched all the videos sent to me by my publisher about how to promote and market my new book and...

And I’m feeling guilty and something of a marketing failure because I can’t do it all. I don’t have the time or resources to do it all, and if I did I’d be a professional marketeer, not a writer.

So, before I beat myself up any further, I’m going to remind myself of something I’ve learned during the publication of my six previous books and wish I’d known from the outset: marketing is an art, not a science. Despite a multiplicity of marketing guides and gurus stating that you must do this and have to do that to guarantee book sales, there are no guarantees. Even the big, big publishers with their super-large marketing budgets (for selected books, at least) don’t really know why some books sell and some books don’t. If they did, every book they published would be a best seller and there would be no remaindered books.

Marketing, to me, feels like a big mud fight, only instead of mud there’s magic, glitter and fairy dust. Nevertheless, you chuck handfuls of the stuff at everything and anything and hope that some of it sticks.




To read the conclusion of the blog post, or to read it in full, please go to https://www.meier-writers.com/post/th...
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Published on February 27, 2020 05:36 Tags: blog, blog-post, guest-post, j-s-watts, mark-meier, marketing, old-light, things-i-wish-i-d-known, writing

February 13, 2020

Old Light Cover Reveal!

I have been doing the dance of the seven veils over on Facebook and my photoblog, Random Acts of Would-be Photography, in order to reveal the cover of my new novel, Old Light, and now it's time to share the cover with you.

Old Light is out at the end of this month, 29th February to be precise, from Vagabondage Press. It's the second book in the Witchlight series and carries forward the story of magic and witchcraft started in Witchlight.

Holly has had a year to deal with the family-sized portion of Old Magic she has inherited. Her focus is on the future, but when both The Coven and the past come calling, the future she has imagined seems to be slipping form her grasp.

If the past is truly a different country, it turns out it is a dark and bloody one that shares a border with the present – a border that is frequently crossed.

Holly needs to right a past wrong and lay some old ghosts, without becoming one herself, if she is to come to terms with her present and claim her future.

The novel is available in paperback and e-book formats, ISBN 978-1-946050-20-5 and is available to pre-order over at Amazon

So,


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Published on February 13, 2020 03:48 Tags: book-cover, j-s-watts, novel, old-light, paranormal, witches, witchlight

January 23, 2020

Things I Wish I'd Known: Getting Published Can Take a Long, Long Time

My latest novel, "Old Light", is due out from Vagabondage Press at the end of February. It has been a long time in the making.

This month's guest blog post over on Meier Writers takes a look at just how long publication can sometimes take. Here's a sample:




It’s taken me six posts into this Things I Wish I’d Known series to get around to acknowledging the length of time it can take to get a book published, which is apposite – it can take a very long time.

When I say it takes a long time, I don’t meant the process of writing, submitting, getting rejected, re-submitting, getting rejected again, re-submitting again and eventually (hopefully) getting your MS accepted by a literary agent (in which case, time-consuming submissions to publishers will then follow) or a publisher. No, I am referring to the process that starts when your MS is accepted by a publisher and ends with you holding a copy of your long awaited book in your eager, clutching hands.

I have always known, in theory, that big publishers take their own sweet time, sometimes upwards of two years or more, to get a book into print, but my poetry and novels have always been published by indie publishers and, as a result, I’ve been spoiled and lulled into a false sense of comfort regarding publishing timescales. I don’t think any of my first six published books took more than a year to come to fruition and many were printed and published far more swiftly than that. Then I embarked on my paranormal Witchlight trilogy.

The first book, the eponymous Witchlight, was published in 2015. To be honest, I’d initially written it as a stand-alone story about Holly Jepps and her belated discovery, at the ripe age of thirty-eight, that she is a witch and now has to come to terms with the uncertainties of an alarmingly magic-fueled world where nothing is necessarily as it seems, but it had potential to be developed. So, when my publisher enquired in 2016 if I was thinking of writing any more stories about Holly, I’d had so much fun writing the magical Witchlight that I said, of course.

To be fair, the first chunk of time eaten up in the creation of the trilogy was down to me...

To read the whole blog post please go to https://www.meier-writers.com/home/gu...
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Published on January 23, 2020 04:05 Tags: blog, blog-post, getting-published, guest-post, j-s-watts, mark-meier, things-i-wish-i-d-known, writing

December 19, 2019

Things I Wish I'd Known: The Timing of Christmas is Complicated

As previously stated, I am writing a monthly series of guest blog posts called "Things I Wish I'd Known". Post number five, "The Timing of Christmas is Complicated", is seasonally themed and is now available to read on the Meier Writers site. Here's a flavour of it:




By the timing of Christmas I don’t mean Christmas day itself. In most Western cultures, that falls reliably on 25th December. Even I know that. What flummoxes me about Christmas is the timing of the writing and publication of Christmas themed words, especially stories and poems (because, apart from novels, they’re what I mostly write). So that is what I will be contemplating in this, the fifth post in the series of “Things I Wish I’d Known”.

I have a number of poems and stories that belong, however loosely, in the category of “Christmas themed”. With one exception, I don’t think any of them were written around Christmastime. The exception is the poem “Christmas Lights, Ware – January Third” from my poetry collection “Years Ago You Coloured Me”. This poem was genuinely written on 3rd and 4th January a few years ago, following a drive home through the Hertfordshire town of Ware. As you might gather, therefore, I don’t have an issue with writing Christmassy pieces at any time of year, including midsummer if the urge so takes me. My confusion relates to when I should submit the stories or poems so that they are accepted for Christmas or winter themed publications.

I’m not a total Scrooge, but, personally, I normally don’t choose to acknowledge the approach of Christmas until December has clawed its way to the top page of my calendar. By then, however, it’s inevitably too late to submit a Christmassy piece for publication before Christmas.

Inspired by the lingering mellow glow of Yuletide indulgence, I have been known to...



The conclusion of this post and the seasonal poem that accompanies it can be read at https://www.meier-writers.com/home/gu...
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November 20, 2019

Things I Wish I'd Known: Writing is Not As Sedentary An Activity As You Might Think

As previously noted, I have embarked on a monthly series of guest blog posts called "Things I Wish I'd Known". Post number four, "Writing is Not As Sedentary An Activity As You Might Think", is now available to read on the Meier Writers site. Check back here, or on the Meier Writers blog, for the next post - round about this time next month, or maybe a little earlier because, after all, Christmas will be coming. For this month, though, here's a flavour of post number 4:



With Mark Meier’s indulgence and support, I’m writing a blog post series called “Things I Wish I’d Known.” This is the fourth post in the series and I recognise I may need to provide some background and explanation to this post’s rather lengthy title.

I acknowledge that writing can be unhealthily sedentary: I have stiffness across my shoulders as I am typing this. Sure, I occasionally stride across the back fields composing lines or plot developments in my head, but mostly I sit hunched at my desk, or slouched on my settee, over a keyboard or sheet of paper, pulling words out of my head and onto the page. As a result I get a stiff neck, a pain across my shoulders, back ache or, more healthily, an uncontrollable urge to go for a long walk somewhere - anywhere. If I ignore the latter urge, you can guarantee I’m going to experience the former, big time. And yet...

The other week I managed to damage the ball of my right foot (don’t ask, but it involved bare feet and a twisted metal and bristle doormat). For days my foot was swollen and colourfully decorated in shades of purple, blue and red (and then, increasingly, a less than fetching shade of yellow). It felt as if I was constantly walking on a golf ball. I decided to put my injury to good use, remain seated and focus on my writing.

At first things worked out fine. I sat sensibly at my desk with my foot elevated and engulfed in ice packs. In that position I could type, write and think. Then I needed to get up in order to retrieve my printing from the printer. Ouch!

Job stoically done, I sat down again, raised my sore right foot, replaced the current ice pack and carried on writing. It was then I found I had to...

The concluding section of this post and, indeed, the post in its pain-filled entirety, can be read at https://www.meier-writers.com/home/gu...
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Published on November 20, 2019 08:41 Tags: blog, blog-post, guest-blog-post, mark-meiers, things-i-wish-i-d-known, writing

October 24, 2019

Things I Wish I'd Known: The Future

As previously noted, I have embarked on a monthly series of guest blog posts called "Things I Wish I'd Known". Post number three, "The Future", is now available to read on the Meier Writers site. Check back here, or on the Meier Writers blog, for the next post - round about this time next month. In the meantime, here's a flavour of post number 3:



With Mark Meier's indulgence and support, I’m writing a blog post series called “Things I Wish I’d Known.” This is the third post in the series and today I’m wishing I’d had an accurate crystal ball when I first started writing seriously. Let me explain.

When my words first began to be published, the thing I craved most was to publish a book. Just one: I wasn’t greedy. Life and non-writing work, however, got in the way and it was many years before my first poetry collection was published. In the meantime I craved – oh how I craved...

The concluding section of this post and, indeed, the post in its brief entirety, can be read at https://www.meier-writers.com/home/gu...
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September 26, 2019

Things I Wish I'd Known: Getting Rejected

As previously noted, I have embarked on a new series of guest blog posts called "Things I Wish I'd Known". Post number two, "Getting Rejected", is now available to read on the Meier Writers site.

From hereon in, posts in the "Things I Wish I'd Known" series will be appearing approximately monthly, so check back here, or on the Meier Writers blog, for the next post - round about this time next month. In the meantime, here's the opening of post number 2:



With Mark Meier’s indulgence and support, I’m embarking on a new blog post series called “Things I Wish I’d Known.” This is the second post in the series. The first was by way of an introduction and explanation. In this post I’m going to share my thoughts on an integral part of being a writer: getting rejected - repeatedly.

When I first started submitting my work for publication I can remember being told that if you want your writing to be published, but don’t choose to go down the self-publishing route, you will have your work rejected – over and over again. Whether it is a single poem, a short story or an entire novel, and regardless of the quality of your writing, you are going to receive a huge number of rejections. Even successful, big name authors have had them. Fine, I thought. Forewarned is forearmed: I’m prepared. Except I wasn’t.

I have had to learn the hard way that however many rejections you think you’ll get, you’ll actually receive more, way more. The sheer volume of rejections is potentially soul-crushing and more than sufficient to decorate the walls of a large family house.

I’ve also had to learn that getting your work published doesn’t result in a decrease in the quantity of rejections. I used to think that once I’d had some poems or short stories published, the rejections would decrease. They didn’t. Then I used to tell myself that when I’d had a book published the number of rejections would decrease. They didn’t. To date I’ve had six books and pamphlets published, have been regularly anthologised and have had some competition successes (though nothing big and shiny, competition wise), but the rejections keep on rolling in....

To read the post in its entirety, or even just its conclusion, please go to https://www.meier-writers.com/home/gu...
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Published on September 26, 2019 03:02 Tags: blog, blog-post, getting-rejected, guest-post, j-s-watts, mark-meier, rejections, things-i-wish-i-d-known, writing

September 19, 2019

100 Posts Today!

I actually signed in to Goodreads with the intention of telling you about a new series of blog posts that I have recently and rather rashly embarked upon, but then I noticed that this would be my 100th Goodreads blog post. I obviously had to say something about that.

So yay to 100 blog posts!! And just to prove that I am not resting on my laurels, here is a taste of the introductory post to my new series of blog posts: Things I Wish I'd Known.



A while back, I wrote a series of posts for this blog called “Questions I Don’t Like Answering”. Now, with Mark Meier’s continued indulgence, I’m about to embark on another series, this time called “Things I Wish I’d Known.” I’m intending these new posts to be (relatively) short pieces about things I wish I’d known earlier in my writing experience (I’m loath to write “writing career” because I’m no longer sure how possible it is for most writers to have a career, in the truest sense of the word, but this will be one of the things I’ll be exploring at some stage in the series). I’m intending that the posts will consider the writing and publishing process in particular and life in general, but as I haven’t written them yet, who knows where they will end up.

I should probably explain that when I say (or write - this is a blog post) “know”, I don’t just mean know factually or intellectually, but truly know, understand or grasp at a gut or bone-deep level. Many of the things I wish I’d known when I started out as a writer I did in fact “know”, i.e. someone had told me or I’d read it somewhere (possibly in a blog post like this one). Knowing the facts, however, isn’t always the same as understanding something...

To read the post in its entirety please go to https://www.meier-writers.com/home/gu...
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Published on September 19, 2019 07:59 Tags: blog, blog-post, guest-post, j-s-watts, mark-meier, things-i-wish-i-d-known, witchlight, writing