Welcome to 2021. It’s hard to think of anything that could be relentlessly worse than 2020, but here’s hoping it has plenty of good points.

This is my Insecure Writers Support Group post, in which we share our successes and failures as writers, our insecurities, in fact. Anyone can join in, just sign up at the IWSG Sign-up page, write a blog post on the first Wednesday of the month, and go back to that sign up page to link with everyone else–or a goodly sample. Our host is Alex J Cavanaugh, and cohosting this month are:

I’ll get to the question of the month below, but first some thoughts I’ve been storing up through the latter part of last year.

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New and old ideas for 2021


First off, I read this lovely post in September, about how your author website is both your greatest strength and your greatest weakness. There are several great tips in it, particularly about outdated styles. I have already set about some decluttering, as you may have noticed.

Now my target is to remove old and outdated posts. There really is no point in having special offers for 2016 still on the blog. This may also mean some of the images cluttering up my database can go. Many older flash fictions will go too. They’ll be in the Collections and available as ebooks online. Some are just excruciatingly bad! I don’t need examples of early work on my blog unless they are good. I have left excerpts from the Princelings and Viridian series, and related posts like backstory, though.


Thanks to another regular blogger, I’m going to spend some time working on my keywords. Derek Haines gives great tips for authors, for all aspects of publishing. I don’t understand how these 50 character keywords work, though. Whenever I try to enter keywords, KDP limits to 50 characters overall. I’ll find out and let you know.

While I’m doing keywords, I’ll also smarten up my Amazon Buy pages, as suggested in the #IWSG newsletter.


I’m moving this blog onto the Block editor, which may mean nothing to you, but it is the mobile-friendly development brought in by WordPress last spring. I started doing the Princelings website in it some time ago, and I think it works for most things I want. I just need to work out how to do ‘special symbols’ like copyright signs and em-dashes. A reusable block for the copyright line (which I use at least once a week) would be great, but not sure whether em-dashes will appear if I double-hyphen. Let’s see– Hmm, no. Or is that an en-dash?

Deadlines for new output

I’m scheduling my new releases for the year. I seem to get these out if I set a deadline, or an advance release date far enough ahead for me to get my act together. I might even tell you what they are next month, but it includes the Dylan & Co Collection, Menagerie Miscellany (working title), and another collection of flash fiction (Treasure Trove, perhaps).

And then there’s Zanzibar’s Rings. It worries me that I always add that third Viridian Series book as an afterthought. It needs to move to priority in my brain–it’s been far too long since the second in the series.

So that’s what I’m doing in 2021. What about you?

Question of the month

Being a writer, when you’re reading someone else’s work, what stops you from finishing a book/throws you out of the story/frustrates you the most about other people’s books?  

Not finishing a book: losing the plot or the characters, or just Really Bad writing

Throws you out of the story: typos, bad grammar, especially impossibilities (I’ll always remember the princess who sat drinking coffee, smoothing her hair while she pointed at someone–something that needed three hands, anyway)

Frustrates me the most: typos or bad formatting–or too much information, as with Old Kurt that I ended up skimming last month.

#IWSG January 2021 – A Whole New Year
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11 thoughts on “#IWSG January 2021 – A Whole New Year

  • 6 January, 2021 at 12:06 pm

    Hi and Happy New Year!
    I used the block editor from WordPress. I like it but I must admit it took some time to get used to it. In fact, I’m still discovering things I don’t know. But it is good and I won’t go back to the classic editor.
    Wishing you all the best for 2021.

    Shalom aleichem,
    Pat G @ EverythingMustChange

  • 6 January, 2021 at 1:51 pm

    Sounds like you have some great goals for the new year. I’ve been working on updating my blog too. I just revised all the pages since Casey is no longer on the blog. My next goal is to get some help so I have a header where I can easily change out book covers and getting rid of dead links on my right sidebar. Hope you accomplish your goals this year.

  • 6 January, 2021 at 6:48 pm

    I will have to check out those links as my website may need some housekeeping. I have a loose plan for writing and publishing this year that I hope my chronic health issues won’t throw too big of wrenches in. Fingers crossed we both have a good year.

  • 6 January, 2021 at 7:19 pm

    I think my NY resolution needs to be to switch over the blog to WP and in the process clean it up a LOT. Like you, I have a lot of old content that may not be worthwhile, or show me at my best.

  • 7 January, 2021 at 12:29 am

    I’ve not been able to adapt to block editor because I can’t figure out how to get my pics in. It converts to block when it’s posted though.
    When it comes to putting down a book, it’s almost always really bad writing- stilted, unrealistic dialogue, an unconvincing plot, and information dumps.

    • 8 January, 2021 at 7:18 pm

      I think management of images is improving. When it first came out it was very clunky. If you click on the black square at the right of an empty block, it offers you blocks to convert to… the straight I made is there, and ‘more’ gives you tiles and grids etc. Doing an inset image is another block option, but I’m going for the centralised image now for the modern style. They is a special right sidebar for resizing an image block, and other controls for groups, on the right.
      I don’t think these options were there six months ago.
      Re the writing… you did a lot last year. Get the stuff out you can, then you can edit it later!

  • 7 January, 2021 at 4:54 am

    Maybe the princess was pointing with her coffee? Ha ha ha. No really, that’s actually a great example of why an editor matters. The Grammar tools aren’t going to catch that. A Beta or CP might.

    © — I don’t know what you’re using to type. But there’s a Windows key and period on my keyboard, and if I press them at the same time, I can insert emojis or symbols almost everywhere. Does that help?

    I hope your New Year is going well. I only read and reviewed 23 books last year, but my goal for this year is 30. My other goals are to publish another fiction book in 2021, do the Blogging from A to Z Challenge in April, and increase the number of authors helped by Operation Awesome.

    • 7 January, 2021 at 10:06 pm

      I use Mac, so no obvious sign of a (c) sign. In Pages it will automatically convert, so if I remember to do that, fine. But I have already copied in a proper copyright sign into a WordPress editing block and saved it as a ‘reusable block’ – which is something easy to do, and now I’ll be able to use that block every time I have to type my copyright after a story.

  • 7 January, 2021 at 12:59 pm

    Hi Jemima – all the best for you and your stories this coming year. I agree all the usual culprits that put one off reading a book, or getting fed up with it … I am not happy when a book I’ve enjoyed fades out at the end … the storyline ends weakly … and is unsatisfying – puts me off the author too. Have a happy year down south … take care – Hilary

  • 7 January, 2021 at 5:02 pm

    You have to love the three-handed characters, don’t you? Thanks for the great post, Jemima. I’m going to explore those links you shared today.

    Happy New Year.

  • 8 January, 2021 at 4:17 pm

    “(I’ll always remember the princess who sat drinking coffee, smoothing her hair while she pointed at someone–something that needed three hands, anyway)” LOL thanks for the laugh! Sometimes people try to hard 😉
    Happy New Year!

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