Recovering from a hack

So all the old data has gone – well, I know where it is stored on certain distributor websites and how to access much of the information via Google’s cache. I may even recreate most of it.

So what happened? The page template I used for the blog allowed someone to hack the whole blog. To be fair, this happened to 200,000 other blogs, so it was not personal, just the kind of mindless vandalism found both on the internet and off it. However, the hack didn’t just trash the website, but also all the online backups. Needless to say, a certain company which provided the template will not have my business in future. They could have easily communicated there was a problem and knew about it in advance, but did not bother to communicate it.

So, the next steps are to start rebuilding and restructuring the blog. It’s going to take a few weeks to make it all shipshape again. The first stage will be to recover the content. Later, I’ll experiment with different templates and find one I’m happy with.

Overall, it’s irritating but not a complete disaster. I’ll also be returning to my old practice of storing backups offline.

January Review 2020

The January review has shown me this month has been my most successful month ever for sales.   I have to credit Mark Dawson and his ideas for this improvement, which has meant I’ve been a lot more focused on marketing. This improved approach is quite exciting as more of my books are getting out in front of a greater number of people.

With the new higher targets or the New Year, I’ve been able to increase the amount I’m writing every day. I ambitiously increased my daily writing goal from 300 to 410 words per day. In total, I’m aiming for 150,000 words this year. In any one train journey, this daily total is all I can manage on the journey into work in the morning. Of course, some mornings, the average is a bit higher, especially when I get stuck into a scene. I only nearly missed my station once in January, looking up at the last minute, to see the sign on the platform outside the window. Most of my writing is done during this time as I rarely have the energy in the evening. This heavy workload is one of the side-effects of being a teacher at this time of year.  Yes, there’s the holidays, but the term time workload more than balances out that advantage. At this time of year, there’s a lot of focus on underperforming pupils, data and reporting.  So, unfortunately, the writing suffers.

So how did I get on with the word counts?

January Review – word counts

I averaged 411 words a day across January with a total of 12,742. There were eight days in the month I failed to write anything. I’m surprised I made the target. Over February I’ll try to write more consistently, as eight days off is quite a few more than I intended. However, to hit such a reasonable total, outside of my holidays, is satisfying.

Editing during January utterly stalled. It’s another thing I need to prioritise as I’ve got some releases queued up and I don’t want them delaying due to this.

January Review – writing projects underway

  • ‘Dead Handler’, Book 6 of the Royal Zombie Corps series still needs editing and proof-reading. I have the initial cover concepts from the cover artist, and they are good
  • The relaunch of the cover for Blood, Mud and Corpses is imminent. The initial concepts are in, and with a few minor changes, the new cover should be ready very soon. I have also been delighted with the progress of the book since it has taken off permafree. It appears it is being read much more often, even if fewer people are downloading it
  • Book 2 of the Butcher’s Funeral is still awaiting editing
  • Book 7 of the Royal Zombie Corps series, is almost complete. I had hoped to finish it early in January, but have about 1,000 words left to write. The first draft will be in the region of 43,000 words. I’m not quite sure what to call this story, but ‘War’s End’ is an idea I’m playing with
  • Tigers on the Western Front work on the final proof-reading has stalled this month, but it’s still the top one to get done. I’d love to get this finished by the end of February

January Review – other projects

I’ve not messaged the Readers’ Club in January. I’ve been holding off so I can announce the new cover to Blood, Mud and Corpses. I’ve also not engaged in any significant campaign to add to the Readers’ Club in January. I had initially intended to, but this got swept away with all the other non-creative work.

I’ve spent a little of my limited non-creative time on marketing via Amazon. This marketing has been quite effective and is something I want to move forward with over the next few weeks. The effort has had a noticeable impact on my sales figures, and I nearly achieved my aspirational monthly sales level, for 2020, in the first month.

Due to the success of the new covers, Stuart Bache has been making for me, I’ve booked another few slots. I will probably use one of them for a new cover for an older book and then two more for new books.

Publishing schedule

  • February 2020 – the new cover for Blood, Mud and Corpses will be released. I’ll also be releasing a paperback version of this book for the first time
  • March 2020 – ‘Dead Handler’, book 6 of the Royal Zombie Corps series. The date is provisional as I may want to give the ARC team a little more time to get through this book
  • Spring 2020 2nd edition of Tigers on the Western Front, with the old cover for now
  • March/April/May 2020 – Butcher’s Funeral book two titled ‘Butcher’s Fire’. Again, I may roll this date back as I start working with the ARC team
  • May/June 2020 – Butcher’s Funeral new cover and 2nd edition
  • May/June 2020 – book 7 of the Royal Zombie Corps series, also rolled back to ensure the ARC team get a good look

Plans for February

  • Continue to maintain the daily writing average of at least 410 words
  • Release the new cover for Blood, Mud and Corpses 
  • Develop research for the new series I’m hoping to write
  • Write a couple of short stories to refresh me before moving on to a third Butcher’s Funeral book
  • Try to spend more time on the non-creative side of the business, especially editing and proof-reading
  • Set up an ARC team
  • Continue to learn about publishing and writing, specifically working through one of the Mark Dawson SPF courses
  • Continue to develop the AMS marketing campaign

2019 Review

So the year has ended. What does the 2019 review look like? How did my writing progress over twelve months? It was great to get a new book out, the first for several years. I also stepped up a gear in terms of words written, and I’ve now got several other new books nearly ready to go.

2019 Review – word counts

December was slower than planned due to several hundred exam papers which needed marking for the day job. These demands, unfortunately, ate into the time I would usually spend writing.

Consequently, December only reached 5,731 new words, less than the 9,000 I was aiming for. However, across the course of the whole year, the picture is much better. I exceeded my annual goal of 110,000 words in September. The entire year total was 128,500 words, a daily average of 351. Compared to 2018, this was a vast improvement. During the whole of the preceding year, I only wrote 36,678 words. 2019 was also the first year I exceeded 100,000 annual words.

Possibly the most critical factor during the year has been my use of public transport to get to work. This quiet time allows me a good 30 minutes every day to focus on writing before other demands step in. While it is not ideal to be writing on a train early every morning, it is satisfying to start the working day knowing I’ve achieved my primary writing goal at the start. Unfortunately, the return trip after ten-twelve hours of work is less conducive to writing, especially when there are no seats.

Another critical factor in 2019 was the improved use of my holidays to get some writing done. These extra days have not been consistently used every holiday, and as a teacher, I earn a few additional weeks. Still, the summer made a noticeable difference to the totals achieved, and August saw an average daily word count of just under 900 words. The holiday factor goes some way towards not being able to get much new writing done at weekends as teaching requires me to spend several hours every weekend in preparation and marking.

2019 Review – releases

November 2019 saw the release of Outbreak London, book 5 of the  Royal Zombie Corps series. This was the first book I’ve released in several years. At 40,000 words, it was longer than the earlier books in the series and has also had a far better initial edit. It also boasted an excellent cover by Stuart Bache. With a significant marketing effort, it’s also been my most successful launch to date.

The short story ‘On discovering a zombie’ was also made available to the Readers’ Club and is downloadable only by signing up via the homepage of this blog. It’s a short story set around one of the side characters in the Royal Zombie Corps series.

2019 Review – writing projects underway

  • ‘Dead Handler’, Book 6 of the Royal Zombie Corps series, was on hold during December due to work commitments. It’s ready for editing and proof-reading but has been on hold while I’ve been prioritising workload
  • The new cover of Blood, Mud and Corpses is likely to be launched in January or February. I decided to get this done urgently as the old cover is poor. Advancing this cover up the schedule does mean a delay in publishing new work
  • Book 2 of the Butcher’s Funeral series is still on hold while I finish other things. It’s ready for the whole editing process
  • Book 7 of the Royal Zombie Corps series is on schedule for the completion of the first draft in January 2020. Thirty-one thousand words were written, and the aim is to have around 40,000 by the end of the first draft. This book is where the majority of my writing efforts have been during December, part of my habit of writing every day I possibly can
  • Tigers on the Western Front is currently being re-edited and is ready for a final proof-reading. The 2nd edition will then be launched, and the book will be recovered later

2019 Review – other projects

  • A significant effort was made to build up the Readers’ Club, primarily using Facebook during the last quarter of the year. This work was successful and helped launch Outbreak London
  • I’ve started to use Amazon Marketing Services for adverts on Amazon. It’s early days, and I still need to work quite a bit on getting this right
  • During 2019, I’ve spent quite a lot of time working through various Self Publishing Formula courses to help me market my books
  • Blood, Mud and Corpses has also been removed from permafree, resulting in a few more sales overall

2020 Publishing schedule

Entering 2020 with three books almost ready to go is a good feeling. I had wanted to get them out earlier, but have held back through a combination of taking more time over editing and spacing out cover work.

  • January 2020 – new cover for Blood, Mud and Corpses 
  • February/March 2020 – ‘Dead Handler’, book 6 of the Royal Zombie Corps series. Dropped back again as I get a better idea of the timescales involved in the final pieces of work
  • March/April 2020 – Butcher’s Funeral book two, probably going to be titled ‘Butcher’s Fire.’
  • March/April 2020 – book 7 of the Royal Zombie Corps series will be the final book of the Great War era
  • Releases later in the year to be confirmed, but hopefully, another two will happen, bringing the total books published in 2020 to five

Plans for 2020

  • I’m increasing my daily writing average target to at least 400 words a day. I’ve been pleased with the productivity over 2019, but it has been patchy with several excellent months making up for a handful of weaker months. The new target will be for 150,000 words over the year, requiring a daily quota of 410. If successful, this will exceed 2019 as my best year for writing new words
  • Complete first drafts of at least three books, to publish two during 2020. These are likely to include a third ‘Butchers’ book and a new crime series to be set in the 18th century
  • Release the three books which are almost ready to go
  • Continue the re-covering process for all my older books
  • Develop learning about publishing and writing, specifically working through one of the Mark Dawson SPF courses
  • Continue to develop the AMS marketing campaign
  • Extend the work on building the Readers’ Club via Facebook

November Review 2019

After a busy month, it’s time for the November Review.

November was dominated by the release of Outbreak London, with the book going live on Amazon one day earlier than expected, just scraping in at the end of the month.  I’m really excited about Outbreak London, as it’s the first new book for several years, it’s got a great new cover by an excellent artist, and it’s twice the length of the other Royal Zombie Corps books.

November Review – word counts

After the slow writing of October, I really needed to up the pace during November.  This was successfully achieved with 10,248 new words added to various projects, an average of 342 words a day.  This is slightly better than my plan of 300 words a day at the start of the year.  My total word count for this year now exceeds 120,000.

As October was heavily dominated by editing, I kept track of the numbers of words I edited over November.  Each piece of work gets multiple edits, some faster than others, but I was surprised the totals added up to just over 32,000 words.

November Review – works in progress

  • ‘On discovering a zombie’, a short story set in the Royal Zombie Corps series, was finally delivered to the mailing list and can be downloaded only by signing up on the homepage of this blog
  • Outbreak London‘, book 5 of the  Royal Zombie Corps series, is now published on Amazon
  • ‘Dead Handler’, Book 6 of the Royal Zombie Corps series, is still awaiting my attention. It needs completion of the editing and proof-reading.  I am going to hold on this book a little as I want to relaunch the cover of Blood, Mud and Corpses
  • Book 2 of the Butcher’s Funeral series is on hold while I finish other things
  • Book 7 of the Royal Zombie Corps series, is still the current writing project.  I’m planning to finish the first draft in early January
  • Tigers on the Western Front is currently being re-edited and is now on the second sweep through.

November Review – other projects

I’m reaching the end of a major campaign to add to the Readers’ Club, which has been running on Facebook.  I’ll begin another campaign at the start of next year.

As part of the launch of Outbreak London, I’ve also begun my first Amazon marketing campaign.

The short story, On Discovering A Zombie, has been released to the Readers’ Club.  This free story cannot be purchased and is only downloadable to subscribers.

Publishing schedule

Outbreak London launched slightly early, at the very end of November.  This was due to Amazon checks taking less time than expected.

  • December 2019/January 2020 – I’m squeezing in a new cover for Blood, Mud and Corpses as the old cover needs replacing as I’m promoting the series.  This was the first book in the Royal Zombie Corps series and things have moved along greatly since then
  • January 2020 – ‘Dead Handler’, book 6 of the Royal Zombie Corps series.  I’ve dropped this title back as I’m wanting to relaunch Blood, Mud and Corpses first with a new cover
  • February 2020 – Butcher’s Funeral book two, probably going to be titled ‘Butcher’s Fire’.  This has been dropped back
  • March 2020 – book 7 of the Royal Zombie Corps series.  This has been dropped back

Plans for December

  • Continue to maintain the daily writing average of at least 300 words.
  • Begin the cover process for the replacement cover for Blood, Mud and Corpses
  • Continue to learn about publishing and writing, specifically working through one of the Mark Dawson SPF courses
  • Continue to develop the AMS marketing campaign

Outbreak London: released

Get Outbreak London, released on Amazon now.

1918, London.  The unthinkable has happened, zombies are loose in the city.

Away from the trenches and assigned to a training unit, can the leading British zombie expert prevail against the zombie outbreak?  Already questioning his abilities, will Alfie Marsh be able to survive his leave in London?

Outbreak London is the fifth book in the Royal Zombie Corps series is a unique addition to the zombie and alternative history genres. 

If you like action, history and zombies, you won’t be able to put down C. M. Harald’s Outbreak London.

Outbreak London: Release Date & Cover

Outbreak London: Release date

I’m delighted to announce the release date for the upcoming Outbreak London, book 5 in the Royal Zombie Corps series.  On Sunday 1st December, the book will launch on Amazon.

London, early 1918.  Zombies have arrived.  Will London survive?  Can Alfie Marsh restore order or will Britain be knocked out of the war?

This will be the first book in the Royal Zombie Corps series to be published since 2017.  The book is also the first to feature the cover art of the amazing Stuart Bache, who has created many excellent covers for writers including Stephen King, Mark Dawson and John le Carré.  

At over 40,000 words long, this new story is longer than the first four books in the series.  It continues the themes of zombies during World War One, but for the first time, the zombies are well away from the front lines.

October Review 2019

Already it is time for the October Review.  The month was a much quieter month than usual. The day job continued to consume, but there was light at the end of the tunnel with a week off, much of it spent on Menorca. The Mediterranean heat was very welcome, just as the UK was getting colder. I’m certainly feeling the cold on the way into work at the moment. As usual, the morning commute has been the focus of my writing efforts, with the return journey in the afternoon also contributing, when I can get a seat.

October Review – word counts

It was not my intention to focus almost exclusively on editing at the start of October. Still, I needed to redistribute my time so that I could complete the edit of Outbreak London. This took much longer than anticipated, and as a result, my new writing dropped right off. There were quite a few days when I wrote no words, breaking what has become a daily habit for me. I, therefore, managed only 2,448 new words, my slowest month this year. However, this was still better than the 1,300 of the previous October. The good news is I’m already back on track and will comfortably beat this level of output in November.

October Review – works in progress

  • ‘On discovering a zombie’, a short story set in the Royal Zombie Corps series, is now being edited. I’m about halfway through this task and expect to have it finished in another week. The mailing list has been set up ready to deliver this short via BookFunnel. I still need to source an appropriate cover for this short
  • ‘Outbreak London’, book 5 of the  Royal Zombie Corps series, has now been wholly proof-read. This took a sizeable chunk of time in October. The initial concepts for the cover have been delivered, and I’m delighted with them. The new cover will be vastly better than the covers of the rest of the series, and I will have to get them recovered at some point. Only the covers and the Amazon page need to be finished. A short pre-release marketing effort also awaits, with the possibility of a discount for mailing list subscribers before the launch
  • ‘Dead Handler’, Book 6 of the Royal Zombie Corps series, is awaiting my attention. It needs editing and proof-reading. I expect to get to this during November
  • Book 2 of the Butcher’s Funeral series is also pending an edit and proof-read
  • Book 7 of the Royal Zombie Corps series, is the current writing project. Having completed next to nothing on this during October, I’m working on it again

October Review – other projects

The mailing list has been extensively updated, and I’m currently engaged in a campaign to add subscribers in advance of the release of ‘Outbreak London’.
I have also been working through one of the Mark Dawson courses, making sure I cover all the essential bases when publishing.

Publishing schedule

This remains unchanged, but I am concerned ‘Outbreak London’ may slip to early December.  Should this happen, there will be a knock-on effect with the other books.

Plans for November

  • I aim to get my new writing daily average back up to something reasonable. In October it was 79 words a day. I want at least 300 in November (as I complete this blog, the average is standing at 297 so far in November)
  • Finally, proof-read the short story which has been sitting waiting for a very long time. This will be going on my blog and is entirely different from anything I have previously written
  • Release the new Royal Zombie Corps short story to the mailing list
  • Finalise the cover of ‘Outbreak London’ and set up the release process
  • Begin the cover process for ‘Dead Handler’
  • Continue to learn about publishing and writing, specifically working through one of the Mark Dawson SPF courses

September Review 2019

The September review is already here. The month has passed quickly. To be honest, September is a month during which I am totally consumed with my day job. Being a new academic year and seeing how I have several responsibilities at work, I either find the time slipping away with workload or exhaust myself, so I am of little use in the evenings. The photo shows one of my more engaging lessons at this time of year, a modern adaptation of the classic Mark Pullen Schools History Project lesson.  Nevertheless, I still got a reasonable number of things done, mainly due to the space given by the morning commute.
September Review – word counts

Unlike July and August, I’ve not had a prolific month in terms of word counts. Instead, I’ve spent quite a bit of time on the editing process. For the first couple of weeks, I wrote at about half the daily pace of the previous months. For the second half of the month, I concentrated on editing. This means I fell short of my optimistic target of 1,000 words a day, and also my realistic target of 500 words a day. In total, I wrote 5,967 words, leaving me just 165 words short of my goal of 110,000 words for the year. However, it has been worth the distraction as my back catalogue needs tidying up.
September Review – works in progress

A short story set in the Royal Zombie Corps series. The title is provisionally ‘On discovering a zombie’. I’ve now finished a thorough edit of this, but have to proof-read it yet.  Once it is released, it will only be available for people signing up to my mailing list
Book 5 of the  Royal Zombie Corps series, titled ‘Outbreak London’ has had a thorough edit. I’m now halfway through proof-reading this. The cover brief was submitted on the last day of the month, and I’m looking forward to working to seeing the first drafts during October
Book 6 of the Royal Zombie Corps series, is awaiting my attention.  It needs editing and proof-reading
Book 2 of the Butcher’s Funeral series is also awaiting an edit and proof-read
Book 7 of the Royal Zombie Corps series, is the current writing project. This has been put on hold so I can meet my upcoming deadlines

September Review – other projects

My first zombie book, Blood, Mud and Corpses, has now been wholly reedited and proof-read. It was uploaded to most channels early in September.
Publishing schedule

This remains unchanged, due to a reallocation of my time.

November 2019 – Outbreak London, book 5 of the Royal Zombie Corps series
December 2019 – book 6 of the Royal Zombie Corps series
January 2020 – Butcher’s Funeral book two
February 2020 – book 7 of the Royal Zombie Corps series

Plans for October

I am going to aim for a low average of 2-300 words a day of new writing. I have limited time at the moment and need to focus on the editing process
Publish a short story on the blog. This has been on the list for a while. I wrote the story a couple of years ago. I really need to get it done.  An edit has been completed, but I still need to give it another proof-read. Realistically, this will not happen in October
Release the new Royal Zombie Corps short story to the mailing list and advertise it on Facebook. The editing was completed in September.
Finish the proof-reading of Outbreak London and work with the cover artist on the finalisation of the cover
Continue to learn about publishing and writing, specifically working through one of the Mark Dawson SPF courses

August Review 2019

So here is the August review.  Why is there a picture of Nutella biscuits, you ask?  I first came across these scrummy biscuits in Malta last October.  I am not usually a Nutella fan, but these biscuits are confectionary cocaine.  I scoffed the lot and then found out only a limited supply had been made available.  They are not available in the UK, and the Malta supply was some sort of stunt or market research.  My children have never forgiven me for not saving them any.  During August, on a day trip to Bruges, we stopped in the supermarket on the edge of Calais and found box after box of these biscuits.  The shelves were also packed with them.  They have been available in France for a few months now.  Needless to say, I stocked up on these addictive biscuits and finally gave some to my children.  We were probably the only British people in the supermarket without a trolley full of wine and beer.  We had biscuits instead.

August is the best time of year for me to write.  As a teacher, it is the month when I have the least schoolwork to do.  That doesn’t mean there’s no schoolwork, but less than normal.  As usual, this August has been better than all the other months so far this year.  However, this August has also been the best August I have had since I started writing.

August Review – word counts

So, July was my previous best-ever month for new words of fiction.  August beat it.  Aiming at is just over 9000 words, I managed to write 27,707 words.

Freed from the daily commute, I was quickly able to put in time most mornings to get some writing done.  The pushed up my daily average from 718 words a day in July, to 894 words a day in August.  I have also been experimenting with using Dragon Anywhere, a piece of dictation software. By dictating the text, I can write quite a bit quicker, although it does mean I have spent quite a bit more time correcting the manuscript.  This gives me a chance to review and improve the story.  It also makes it is quicker to get down key ideas, so I do not rush my typing when I want to get to a critical point.

The other key milestone in August was that I cleared 100,000 words written so far this year.  As I started the year aiming only to write 110,000 words, I am pleased that I should achieve my annual goal at some point in September.

August Review – works in progress

  • A short story set in the Royal Zombie Corps series.  I am yet to decide a title for this but have written the first draft of this short story.  It is a prequel, set just before the first book, telling the story of Dr Hudson’s early involvement in zombie research
  • Book 6 of the Royal Zombie Corps series, titled either Duel or Dead Handler.  As expected, I finished this at the start of August
  • Book 7 of the Royal Zombie Corps series, as yet unnamed.  I started this during the second half of August and am now 9000 words in.

August Review – other projects

The two main thrusts of my work in August have been in marketing and re-editing.  I have continued to re-edit and format Blood, Mud and Corpses, and am nearly finished on this.  I have also completed a relatively significant redesign of the blog site while revamping the mailing list.  A top cover artist has been commissioned for several new covers, some of which will be to replace the old covers of already published books.

During August, I incorporated the publishing process as Harvey and Harvey Publishing Ltd.  There was a fair bit of paperwork around this, but it should help organise my writing moving forward.

Publishing schedule

Plans for September

  • Maintain an average daily word count of 1000 new words – this will be quite a challenge as it is hard to find the time each day to maintain this level alongside my full-time job.  500 words would probably be a more appropriate target and may become the default
  • Publish a short story on the blog. This is almost ready but needs an edit. I had planned to do this during August, but it didn’t happen
  • Edit through the new Royal Zombie Corps short story and then make available via at the mailing list and advertise on Facebook
  • Complete the re-edit of Blood, Mud and Corpses and publish this new edition
  • Edit Outbreak London, something that was on my August list, but was not started
  • Continue to learn about publishing and writing

New Blog about writing fiction by C.M. Harald

Writing about writing – New Blog

Well, this is the fifth blog I’ve written over the years.  The first was while I was working as postgraduate in the late 90s; the most successful was kept going for eight years and was for a business I used to run; then there have been a couple of smaller and badly maintained projects.  So I’ve no idea how this will go.

It’s my aim, at the moment, to use this blog as a way of updating readers on the latest progress with my writing.  I’m also thinking about uploading the odd short fiction story as well.  We’ll see how it goes as I’m currently putting more time into writing than ever before.

Currently, I have two projects in progress.  I’m finishing up ‘The Butcher’s Funeral‘ series of short stories, editing the last two parts of this Medieval story – hopefully, there will be an update on this soon.  The Butcher’s Funeral will also be published in a single volume.  I’m also in the middle of a writing a story on zombies and World War One.

My full range of published writing can be found on Amazon – C. M. Harald books.