Archive for the ‘New Year’ Tag

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.

Advertisements

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.

New Year Musings

I know a lot of people who will be glad to see the back of 2009. For me, however, it was a really good year. This was largely due to my publishing contract – well, that’s just the best thing ever, and it really doesn’t get much better than that.

Turning 40 was also a highlight of the year. Not only was the party awesome, but I end the year with a new sense of confidence, and security in who I am and where I’m going. Yes, there are a few more grey hairs and wrinkles, more saggy bits, and the older I get the harder it is to lose weight and not find it again. But I am happy to accept it all, and there’s no way I would want to be 18 again. I am 40, and I am proud.

Perhaps the day has not yet come when I can quit the day job and write full time, but I finish the year in gainful employment, at a time when a lot of people have been made redundant or face uncertainty in the job market.

So what will 2010 bring? It will bring the publication of SUFFER THE CHILDREN, which is fantastic. I’ve also decided it’s time to get going on the next book. I plan to return to my urban fantasy, and kick it out the second-draft slump it currently finds itself in. After all, with the publication of one book, I need to have another one ready to go, and since the first book is horror, it’s probably best for me not to stray too far away from that genre, at least for the time being.

2009 was a bad year for many, but it was a good one for me. I look forward to seeing what the new decade will bring.

Happy New Year, everyone. May 2010 be good to you all.