Archive for the ‘New Year’ Tag

Year in Review: 2019

Another year has gone by, and it’s time to look back at the goals I set at the end of 2018 and see how well I did.

With regard to the exercise and healthy eating, that has gone reasonably well. I am still doing my personal training session, 25 minutes once a week. I still don’t enjoy it, but I do it, and I am now seeing the benefits. I have more strength in my upper body, my arthritic knee doesn’t hurt as much, and I have more flexibility in my body generally. I am also still doing the swimming, and I can now swim 40 lengths (which is 1km) in 30 minutes. I’ve never been a big fan of exercise, but I am starting 2020 fitter than I’ve ever been before.

I’ve been following Weight Watchers since June last year. Progress is slow. The system has changed again, and although it is slightly easier to follow, it’s a lot harder to lose weight now I’m older than it used to be. The last time I was on Weight Watchers, I was back into the size 12 clothes after six months. I am not anywhere near getting into the size 12s now, although the size 14s fit a bit better than they did when I started.

Of course I haven’t weighed myself for about three weeks now, with all of the Christmas chocolate and such around. On Monday I have to go back to the Weight Watchers meeting and face up to just how many pounds I’ve gained over the Christmas period.

I also pledged to keep in touch with friends. I haven’t done as well on this as I was hoping. There are still people I wanted to see last year that I didn’t. But there were some that I did, and most I have at least made contact with, so this is a work in progress.

I have not done so well on the writing either. I made a start on the sequel to OUTPOST H311, but I didn’t plot it first. I got about 15,000 words in, realised what I had wasn’t working and gave up. That will teach me not to plot. But I haven’t managed to get a handle on the plotting either, so that book has gone nowhere.

The fourth Shara Summers novel sits on my laptop, about 35,000 words into the first draft. The third Shara Summers novel does not currently have a publisher, so I stopped writing that series to work on OUTPOST H311, which does have a publisher. But since I’m struggling with the sequel, maybe I should just go back to the Shara series. Just to be writing something.

So, here are my goals for 2020:

1. Get back to a regular writing routine, aiming for 3000 words a week. What I write isn’t important, as long as I’m writing something.

2. Keep up the exercise routine. Aim to have improved my personal best of swimming 1km in 30 minutes by the end of the year. It would also be nice to fit into those size 12 clothes by the end of the year as well, but those menopausal hormones do keep making it very difficult to lose weight.

3. Aim to declutter. I have a house full of stuff, everywhere, and I never throw anything away. This year I want to go through things, bit by bit, to tidy up my personal space. And if I can learn to organise my brain as well (which is also full of stuff, flitting from one thing to another at record speed), all the better.

It seems appropriate to finish with an image from the table-top game Cyberpunk, which we played a lot of in the early 1990s and which was set in 2020. Let’s hope it doesn’t turn out to be too prophetic.

Happy New Year, everyone. Hope you achieve your goals for the year.

End of a Decade

There’s a thing going around social media at the moment inviting people to summarise what they’ve achieved in the last 10 years, as we approach the end of the 2010s and get ready to move into the 2020s.

When I thought about this I decided it warranted a blog post, as it’s actually too big a topic for a

Misty & Misha – 1996-2012/13

tweet.

So, here we go. Here are the things that have happened in my life since 2010.

 
  1. We said goodbye to our two cats Misty and Misha, and took on two rescue kitties Alia and Cassie. Three of those four were named after characters in various D&D campaigns.
  2. I became a published novelist. This is actually a huge deal, as it achieves a goal I set my sights on in childhood. In the last 10 years I have had five novels (three horror, two crime) and one short story collection published. I feel very confident that as far as achievements go, this decade of my life will always come out on top. And because I can’t let this moment go without a blatant plug, here are the Amazon links to my books (UK and US).
  3. I started learning to play the bass guitar.
  4. We met a lot of role players. Hubby and I met playing D&D and it’s always been a big part of our life, but for quite a long time we were gaming with the same crowd. We now have three different groups on the go. Hubby runs the game for all of the groups, and I am a player in them all. Two of the groups have more women than men. Two of the groups consist of players around our age, and one of them consists entirely of people under the age of 35. We try and play once a month with each group, so we do a lot of gaming these days, but each game has a different atmosphere and we always have a lot of fun. And it’s good to have met so many new friends through gaming.
  5. We moved house once, from a three-bedroom 1970s terraced house to a 100-year-old four-bedroom semi detached house. I have to admit I am totally in love with this house. We have spent a lot of money on improvements since moving in, seven years ago. Every time I walk through the door it makes me happy, and it feels like home.
  6. Another one of my life ambitions since childhood has been to travel. We have taken some amazing holidays in the last ten years. Places we have travelled to include: Fiji; Berlin; Borneo; Vietnam; Bali; Mauritius; Guam; New York; Thailand; Cambodia.
  7. On a sadder note, two close family members have passed away: my father-in-law, and my stepfather. We have also had to grieve a couple of friends.
  8. I started the decade a size 12, after following a weight loss plan. I finish it a size 14, once more following a weight loss plan. The whole weight loss thing has been a lifelong struggle, to be honest. I am far too fond of sugary treats, and harbour a dislike of healthy food and exercise. I have spent most of my adult life trying to lose weight, only to have it all come back again. However, thanks to a personal trainer (who I have now been seeing for a year) and a regular swimming routine, I feel I am finishing this decade fitter than I’ve ever been, despite the weight loss struggle, and despite the fact that when one gets older, it becomes much harder to lose weight.
Alia and Cassie at 12 weeks old – June 2013
Guam, March 2019

Since I was born at the end of a decade, as each one ends I celebrate a Big Birthday. Hence, this year has marked the end of my being a 40-something, and I move into the 2020s as a 50-something. Sometimes when I think about that it seems painfully old. But one can’t stop the passage of time, and writing this blog post has made me look at the achievements of the past decade, and realise there was a lot to celebrate.

None of us know what the future holds, but I am hopeful that at the end of the next decade I will still be here to highlight more things to celebrate.

Halong Bay, Vietnam – 2011
Bali – 2014

 

Year in Review: 2018

(Cross-posted on the WriteClub blog)

This year hasn’t been a particularly good year for me, for various reasons. At the beginning of February I had to have surgery for a vaginal prolapse, and although this is a fairly minor operation, the recovery time took far longer than I was anticipating. It was two months, really, before I felt fully recovered and I had underestimated how much the recovery process would take out of me.

Then, in June, I was hit by a bombshell when I found out I was to lose my job. Having been with the same organisation for nearly 13 years, the prospect of having to go back out into the job market was daunting, to say the least.

The worst part of it all is that since that day in June, when I was faced with this news I haven’t written a single word. Not one.

Initially, all my energy was going into getting my CV up to date and applying for jobs, a process I hadn’t had to do for so long I had forgotten how time consuming it can be. Fortunately I found another job fairly quickly, but after having been so long in one organisation, having to be the ‘new girl’ again and learn everything from the ground up was quite exhausting. And then by the time I’d settled into the new job and felt comfortable in it, I had just been too long away from the writing routine to get back into it.

Hence, my resolution from last year of completing another novel by the end of 2018 remains depressingly unfulfilled.

So all in all, I will be glad to see the back of 2018. 2019 is a New Year, and I am in a new job, but it’s an uncertain time in British politics and I am also acutely aware of the fact that nobody’s job is guaranteed in this day and age.

The wider picture is too overwhelming, so I am starting the new year with a few personal goals to focus on.

  1. Get back into a healthy diet and exercise routine. I always say this every year, but I am currently facing the depressing fact that I can’t fit into half my wardrobe these days. I have already made a start on the exercise routine, because I’ve just commenced sessions with a personal trainer. But I need to stick with it, and I need to be more disciplined with the eating regime. More fruit and veg, less chocolate. Realistically this is not going to start until all the Christmas chocolate is gone.
  2. Make more time for friends. Social media makes it easier to stay in touch with people we don’t see very often, but it doesn’t match face to face contact with friends. There are people in my life I consider good friends, and I haven’t seen nearly enough of them this year (in some cases, not at all). That has to change next year.
  3. And finally, and most importantly, I need to get back into the writing routine. Back to the early-morning writing sessions in a coffee shop before work. Back to regularly scheduled writing time. I am not going to set a goal of finishing a particular manuscript this year, because at the moment that seems too overwhelming. I just need to get back to writing.

So these are the resolutions I am making as we head into 2019.

Happy New Year to all. What are your goals for the forthcoming year?

Year in Review: 2017

(Cross-published on the WriteClub blog)

Well here we are at the start of 2018. This is a time to make resolutions to change things in the forthcoming year, and review how things went in the last one.

This time last year, I resolved to have two finished WIPs by the end of 2017. Well, I got halfway there. I finished the latest horror novel in mid-December. The novel is called OUTPOST H311 and it will be published by KGHH Publishing some time this year. Stay tuned for more info on this.

The other WIP – the fourth Shara Summers novel – remains unfinished. I am at present trying to make up my mind whether to continue with this series. The third novel is still without a publication date. Although it was accepted by MuseItUp Publishing some 18 months ago, health and personal issues affecting both my editor and my publisher there have delayed publishing schedules.

I enjoy writing the Shara series, and the few reviews that I’ve received for the first two books in the series have been positive, but they really aren’t selling, and I’m finding this very discouraging. What’s the point of writing books that no one seems interested in reading?

Since I finished OUTPOST H311 I’ve taken a bit of break from writing while I think about what to work on next. I have got a couple of vague ideas, but nothing concrete yet.

This year, I resolve to have at least one WIP finished by the end of the year. I just haven’t made up my mind which one yet.

Happy New Year one and all, and hope 2018 brings success and happiness.

Happy New Year 2017

So here we are at the start of another year – a time to reflect on the year that’s past and look at what one might want to change for the new one. And when you put your New Years’ Resolutions into a blog post, you can’t really ignore them.

I resolved to finish the two novels I was working on in 2016. One of them was SPOTLIGHT ON DEATH, the third Shara Summers novel, which happily was finished, and submitted, and at this point in time it is scheduled for release by MuseItUp Publishing some time in Autumn 2017.

The second was an as-yet-unnamed horror novel. Unfortunately I ended up shelving this project. I got about 20,000 words in and decided it really wasn’t working, all the characters were cardboard cut-outs and the plot was too thin.

I’ve spent some time over the Christmas period plotting the outline of a new idea. It’s very early days yet, but this one I am rather more excited by, and I hope to have the plot outline finished over the next few days, and then I can start writing it. Just as well, since I’m contracted to Kensington Gore (which is now officially known as KGHH Publishing) to release another horror novel in 2017.

So, as at the beginning of 2016 I am once more resolving to have two new novels finished by the end of the year: one is the aforementioned horror novel, and the second is the fourth book in the Shara Summers series. Which is already nearly 30,000 words into the first draft, so good progress has been made thus far. It would be good to be able to have the fourth book done by the time the third book comes out.

And that’s pretty much the only resolution I’m making for 2017. Connected to that is the need to be way more disciplined in the writing. I whinge about having to get up early to fit the writing in around the day job, but most writers have to juggle the writing around other things so I am not in a unique position. We all have the same number of hours in a day. What we choose to do with those hours is up to us.

I am going to endeavour to pay more attention to this blog, which has been somewhat neglected over the last couple of months, but I made the same resolution last year. I am going to carry on with my ‘Monday’s Friend’ feature, which is open to writers of any genre, so if anyone wants a slot, get in touch.

I’m not going to spend time discussing the things going on in the wider world. I don’t have any control over any of it, and I am making a point of trying to be less stressed about the things beyond my control. The only things I can control are the decisions I make that directly affect my life, and the way I organise my time. So this is what I will focus on for 2017. The universe will unfold itself the way it sees fit, whether I like it or not.

I wish you all a happy and productive 2017, and I wish you luck in achieving your goals for the year, whatever they may be.

New Year Reflections

The start of the year is a time to reflect on what’s past, on where you find yourself at the present, and where you want to be going in the future.

We are now a couple of weeks into 2016 and I find myself, on the whole, to be in a pretty good place. I have several publications under my belt including three novels and another coming soon (SUFFER THE CHILDREN, my first novel, due for re-release from MuseItUp Publishing later this year). I’ve got two more novels in progress, and ideas for a few more. The day job is going well, and I’ve seen significant improvements in my health since taking the decision to drop twenty pounds in 2015.

However, my life is also pretty packed. The day job pays well but works me hard, and I spend not only eight hours a day five days a week there, but three hours a day commuting to and from London. I have my bass guitar lesson once a week and am doing regular open mic gigs with Hubby. I am trying to develop a regular exercise routine, we play Dungeons and Dragons twice a month, I run the T Party writers’ group which meets once a month, and this is before we start talking about fitting in the writing, the promotion, the conventions, and holidays.

Don’t get me wrong – this is not a whine. I am where I am in my life because I chose to be there, and I do not regret anything. However, there is always room for improvement, and the start of the year seems to be a good time to look at what I  can do better.

First of all, this blog has been neglected for the last couple of years, and I am going to endeavour to change that this year. Monday will still be the guest blog feature Monday’s Friends, as it has been for some years now. Wednesdays will be a writing-related post, cross-posted on the WriteClub blog. I hope to pick up the Ten Commandments of Writing feature, which rather tailed off halfway through last year. Friday Fears will feature with more regularity, and I would welcome contributions of two-sentence horror stories from anyone who feels inclined to send me one – credited, of course.

In addition, I’d like to feature other posts on the blog, about more general subjects. I can’t promise this will be weekly – it’s more likely to be once or twice a month. But when I started the blog, I was talking about commuting and London and weather and travelling and all the things that I deal with in my everyday life. And because I don’t want to be the kind of writer that only comes online to say ‘buy my book’, I’d like to get back to this again.

So, that’s one resolution: more regular blog posts. A second, more personal one, relates to the aforementioned weight loss. This was something that I didn’t really discuss on the blog, but those who follow me on Twitter will be aware of it, since I was Tweeting about my weekly weigh-ins.

This was something that came about when I went on a short holiday to France in June and couldn’t get the zip of my favourite summer dress done up. Coming at a time when I’d lost several family members and friends to cancer within a fairly short period, I was more mindful of needing to look after my health and decided the time had come to get a bit healthier. The weight loss was all about trying to shed bad habits, as well as a few pounds. I hate the gym, I hate vegetables and I love all things sweet and sugary. But sometimes you have to do things that are good for you, whether you want to or not. I aimed to get back to ten and a half stone (that’s 147 lbs for the Americans amongst you), which is what I was when I last lost weight, in 2009. The intervening years had apparently seen a gain of over twenty pounds, which I wanted to lose again. I managed to hit my goal just before Christmas, but then came all the eating and drinking and not moving from the couch for two weeks that accompanied the holiday season, and I’m now a few pounds above that goal again.

However, I resolved at the beginning of this year to try and go back to the good habits I’d adopted at the end of last year: regular exercise, more fruit & veg, fewer sugary treats, fewer takeaways, less red meat. I’ve ridden this whole weight-loss roundabout before. The weight comes off, I go back to eating what I like to eat, it comes back on again. This year, I want to try and keep the weight off – especially since Hubby bought me several new dresses in my new smaller size for Christmas, and I want to be able to keep on wearing them.

It can be quite difficult as a writer to stay fit, since writing generally involves sitting on a chair for hours at a time, moving only to get more tea and another couple of biscuits (favourite food of The Muse, apparently). And I am inherently quite lazy. I have no trouble getting up early to write, especially when my early morning writing sessions involve a yummy breakfast muffin at the coffee shop I set up in, but I am much less inclined to get up early to go for an early-morning swim.

There, then, is Resolution Number 2. And then there are the writing resolutions, which I discussed in the December round-up post. I have two novels to finish. I have to crack on with them.

There’s an additional resolution that comes in to help me with all the others, and that’s to be more organised. I’ve got a rather anally retentive personality anyway, and I love lists. Lists are the key to staying organised. I have to do lists for every week, involving both writing and non-writing related goals, and they get dutifully ticked off as I complete the tasks. Finding time to write, or to exercise, equally involves noting appointments in my diary and making sure I turn up when I say I will – even if not doing so lets down no one else but myself.

It’s always dangerous to declare one’s intentions in a public forum, since you have a lot of people to answer to if you fail to fulfil them. But it also provides a good motivation to sticking to your resolutions.

Hence, I start the year full of good intentions. I guess we need to come back here at the end of the year and see how well – or otherwise – I’ve managed to do!

Whatever you wish for this year, I hope 2016 delivers.

Monthly Round-Up: December 2015

(Cross-posted on the WriteClub blog)

As we come to the end of another year, it’s an appropriate time for me to look back on what I achieved in my writing in 2015.

OUT NOW

It has, on the whole, been a good year for me regarding publications. My horror novel THE WHISPERING DEATH was released by Kensington Gore Publishing in the summer.

There were also two anthologies released this year with stories from me: FORMER HEROES, released by Far Horizons Publishing in July, includes my story “The Unending Scream”; and my story “The Haunted Dolls’ House” appeared in FEMME FATALE, published by Kensington Gore in September.

In addition, I also contributed to a short book featuring writing tips from romance and mystery writers, released by Gardener Publishing in April.

PUBLICITY

I was aiming to have an online guest slot every month of 2015. I almost got there – there was nothing in May or December, but I managed to get spots in every other month of the year. The publicity game for writers is hard work, especially for those of us who have to make time around the day job to fit it in, along with the writing, and I fear the blog has suffered as a result, since I posted a lot less often this year.

All of my online guest blog posts and interviews for 2015 are now listed and linked on my website. I hope to keep up the momentum next year, but I also plan on paying more attention to the blog as well. I just need to create more hours in the day first.

WORK IN PROGRESS

I was pleased to be able to get to the end of the first draft of the third Shara Summers book, SPOTLIGHT ON DEATH, earlier this year. Well technically it’s draft 2.5, since I’ve restarted this manuscript three times before actually getting to the end. I hope to have it finished and ready to submit in the first quarter of 2016.

I have also started work on a new horror novel, as yet untitled. This one I am also aiming to complete in 2016.

So, some lofty goals there, and I am in for another busy writing year. But I think it’s good to aim high. You never know what you are capable of until you push yourself.

I wish everyone a happy and productive 2016, and may you succeed in whatever you set out to do.

2013 in Blogging

So I’ve had a summary of activity on my blog in 2013.  And it got 2,300 views – not too shabby!

There’s no doubt that having guest bloggers attracts more traffic to my blog, so I won’t be stopping that feature any time soon.  The most commented-on posts have been from guest bloggers.

Except on 10 September, when nothing in particular was going on, the blog was viewed 53 times and apparently the post with the most hits was the Fashion Fix post from four years ago.  Not quite sure what was going on there.

Anyway, if you’re interested in more stats regarding Imaginary Friends, the link is below.

Click here to see the complete report.

Here’s to more blog activity in 2014!

Happy New Year

(Cross-posted on the WriteClub blog)

As 2014 dawns, it’s time to take stock of the writing goals I set myself for 2013 and assess how I did.

In summary, I had two goals last year – to finish both DEAD COOL and the horror novel and get them out on sub.  Happily, I can report that I have achieved both of these goals.  In addition, DEAD COOL has been accepted and will be published this year.  The horror novel, THE WHISPERING DEATH is out on sub, but I am optimistic that I can find a publisher for it this year.

I feel I did not do so well on the self-promotion last year.  I found it a bit hard to get into pimping mode without a forthcoming release, and it is sometimes difficult to stay positive in the face of rejection.  However, with another book coming out, it’s time to get back on the horse, as it were.

I also made good progress in 2013 with the current work in progress – the 1960s crime thriller I am working on with Hubby.

With this in mind, these are my goals for 2014:

1. Find a publisher for THE WHISPERING DEATH
2.  Have at least one promotional event per month in 2014
3.  Get to the final draft of the current WIP
4.  Start the first draft of a new WIP

I begin 2014 feeling fairly positive about the writing.  Let’s hope it continues.

I wish you a Happy New Year, and whatever your own goals are for 2014, I hope you achieve them.

2012 Writing Goals in Review

(Cross-posted on the WriteClub blog)

It’s time to revisit the writing goals I set for myself this time last year, and see how I did with them.

2012 has been a very good year, writing-wise. Not only did it seen publication of my first short story collection SOUL SCREAMS (and a launch at the BFS Open Night in June), but I also contributed to the anthology SIBLINGS, which was launched at FantasyCon. So two publications and two launches – not too shabby.

How did I do on the goals I set for myself last December? I wanted to finish DEAD COOL – the second book in the Shara Summers series – and get it out on submission. I failed dismally on this one. I had a critique session for this manuscript at the end of December 2012, and I got somewhat discouraged by the feedback. So much so, in fact, I haven’t touched it since. But on reflection I’m not yet ready to abandon this manuscript. I enjoy writing about Shara, and I’d like to finish this book.

However, I have been more successful with the horror WIP, which I wanted to completed to beta reader stage. Ordinarily beta reader stage, for me, is draft 2. For this MS I’ve added an extra draft, but draft 3 is almost finished and I expect to have it out to beta readers early in the New Year.

My third goal was to step up promotion and increase sales of the published work. Well, I did my best to boost my internet presence, but it still feels like at this stage I’m a very small fish in a very large and crowded pond. Let’s just say I’m still a long way from being able to give up the day job.

As for my goals for 2013, it may be being a tad ambitious, but I’d like to get both WIPs done. So these are my writing goals for 2013.

1. Complete DEAD COOL and have it out on submission by the end of the year.
2. Complete the horror WIP and have it out on submission by the end of the year.

I wish you a happy and successful 2013, and may you all reach your own writing goals, whatever they may be.