Ready or Not! Here Comes 2022!

Hello, everybody!

Long time, no blog! There have been so many new subscribers lately - welcome to all!

I don't know if you feel the same way, but it seems my bandwidth has really reached a limit over the past couple of years - not to mention 2021! In the past, I usually replied to emails within 24 hours of having received them, but now I find that it takes me a good two to three days, simply because emails and notifications just keep piling in! No matter how often I set aside time to organize my email inbox with labels or comb through my computer files to delete old things I no longer need - I probably spend at least as much time trying new applications or services that result in more stuff to clutter up my inbox and my bandwidth!

[Here's an unmitigated fan sidebar, by the way: Jane Friedman's newsletter is the ONLY newsletter I receive each week that I eagerly await and always look through carefully. Now that's saying a lot about who Jane is, because few newsletters with the frequency of Jane's can maintain that level of value! But yep, every week, the newsletter is chock full of information and resources and always comes with a personal note from Jane as well.]

But I digress. Where was I? Aha - feeling overwhelmed. If that's how you are feeling, join the club and be nice to yourself. It seems there are so many demands on our time and attention that writing - creating - really seems to take a back seat. But when we see our writing as a luxury or something unnecessary, then we deprive our souls of one of the few things in life that are truly restorative and fulfilling- the act of creating.

“Write it. Shoot it. Publish it. Crochet it, sauté it, whatever. MAKE.”
Joss Whedon

I have been listening to podcasts quite a lot lately. (I tend to switch back and forth from podcasts to audiobooks.) My recent listening choices were inspired by editing several manuscripts set in the 1960s and 70s. (It's interesting that trends that I see in my clientele!) Thusly, I ripped through In Plain Sight: Lady Bird Johnson, Nixon at War, The Whistleblower (about Daniel Ellsburg and the Pentagon Papers), Slow Burn: Watergate, and LBJ's War. Talk about a binge! Not satisfied to stop there, I listened to This Land, which I cannot recommend enough. It's a podcast series about the civil rights of indigenous people in the United States. For some ideas to kickstart your podcast binge, check out this link!

After a long day of editing manuscripts and trying to squeeze in time to swim or take a walk - or to stretch! - I find listening to podcasts really relaxing. And this is what I create while listening to podcasts: amigurumi chickens! Well, that's my latest amigurumi obsession; I have been known to make zombies, mermaids, and octopuses as well. I put lots of pictures of my creations and of my dearest Gidon Lev and the lovely things we see and do on Instagram.

I recently audited a class about why, when, or if writers really need editors - I wanted to make sure that what I do when I edit is valuable! Turns out that it is, but there were a couple of things in the talk that I really didn't agree with. One was that an excellent editor is likely booked out for months in advance. That one bothered me because, yes, experience matters (there are a lot of new editors lately!) but how readily available an editor is may not be a reliable indicator of how good they are! So many variables can be at play, ranging from clients who have dropped out last minute to working with short stories or smaller projects to being ill or busy. I don't think the scarcity model is that's a fair way to judge the professionalism of a good editor. I just so happen to be very booked right now and trust me, I'm pleased about that - but you never know, I might get a few free days and take something on just because I love the project. A "red flag" that was pointed out was if an editor says they can work with ALL genres- that bothered me too, not because I think working with an editor who specializes in a particular genre is not a great thing, but because an experienced editor has definitely worked with almost every genre - because we have to. Editors couldn't possibly make a living if we only read one or two genres. Not possible. Not reasonable. I really disagree with that one. The other topic that I really have mixed feelings about is the idea of needing sensitivity readers. I know that's a hot button topic in a hot button climate, but I am ambivalent about it.

In independent publishing news, my book The True Adventures of Gidon Lev has been selling very well on Amazon, mainly since my Tiktok account went viral. )Should you use the Tiktok platform for your book? Stay tuned to Jane's newsletter in 2022; I'll be writing all about it!)

I'm still working on the audiobook version of The True Adventures - oh, what a process that has been. I recorded the narration about a year ago in a recording studio in Tel Aviv, and then the editing began - with fits and starts and pauses that made the whole project a red hot mess of audio files and comments and lost emails. I can say with confidence how not to manage a project like this! I have learned a lot about music licensing, sound design, and project management! I'm super excited for the book to come out, though; it will be a very different experience from the book. (Should you invest in an audio version of your book? Stay tuned to my blog, I'll be writing all about it!)

In other news related to my book, I signed up for ScribeCount to figure out how many copies are actually selling, where, and when! I find ScribeCount to be really intuitive and so helpful! After all, we writers need to know what is selling our books - was it this podcast interview or that Facebook ad? Was it putting the Kindle version on sale for 4 weeks or that Tiktok post last week? I have found that the KDP dashboard, when it comes to sales tracking is really lacking and I don't even want to talk about Lightning Source!

Here's some housekeeping advice that nobody wants to hear but writers - empower yourselves! This is a good time of year to clean out your email inbox (lest you wind up like me!) Organize your desktop and get rid of the junk that has accumulated. Are you backing up your files on a cloud server? Check for money leaks: how many cloud servers are you paying for space on? Do you need that much space? Have you changed your passwords lately?

If I had to characterize 2021 for myself, I'd say that it has been a year of adjusting, evolving, and learning. I really believe in empowering ourselves with knowledge, experience, and information. In particular, technology offers many more solutions and conveniences than it does headaches, and we writers are not exempt from needing to keep up with things. There are more opportunities than ever for writers to not just write - but to create and express themselves with the help of technology. You don't have to be 25 years old, and you don't have to be a techno-wiz. You just need to be resourceful. Suffice to say, you can learn to do just about anything on Youtube. Honestly. So here's to a busy and fulfilling new year in 2022, as we writers continue to live and to grow and to express ourselves.


By the way, here are some of the apps, platforms, or tools that make my life so much easier. Some of these are new to me, and some I have been using for a long time. (Links are not included; please use le Google.)

Adobe Sign: I have looked so hard for a good document signing app - this is IT!

Calendly: I just started using Calendly a few months ago, and it's been a game-changer for scheduling meetings quickly and easily!

Canva: An absolute MUST have for the design of most anything you'd need!

Dashlane: Password generator and organizer. I love it.

Grammarly: Because of course!!

Headspace: Don't think meditation is for you? I didn't either. But give this app a try.

Inshot Video Editor: Really easy to learn how to use!

Otter: This quick and easy voice transcription app is another game-changer if you need to get notes or conversations transcribed. I use it for Tiktok videos.

Trello: I adore this platform and have used it for years! I put everything on Trello! The great thing is that you can share your Trello boards with others.

Upwork: I hired a great content creator to help me with my Tiktok here; I really recommend this platform.

Zoom: Because of course. (Wow have I learned how to put my Zoom face on, with the help of Calendly!) If you want to schedule a free 30-minute Zoom with me, by the way, click here!

A stylus for my smartphone: Yeah, I know this last one sounds pretty goofy! It never occurred to me not to use my big ol' clumsy hands, but when I upgraded my smartphone recently, I decided to try it out. Spoiler: SO much easier to use!

[Last sidebar, I promise! Are you really taking advantage of your smartphone? Are your apps updated? Do you need to do some uninstalling? Do you know how to use the camera on your smartphone, and all the bells and whistles it comes with these days? Do it and you too can add silly pictures like this:]