Last week saw the publication of my newest novel, The List. This blog post, rather than being a shameless promotion, is more of a celebration of the last year - where I was somehow able to get two books out, one of which was the most emotionally exhausting story I have ever written.
Yes, I am talking about The List.
But don't let that put you off.
It turns out that writing about a fictional relationship can be as exhausting as navigating a real one. Part of the fatigue (and writing is tiring, regardless) is attempting to attain a delicate balance. Big issues come between our fictional couple, but learning to tread lightly, to create something that the readers can love and not feel depressed by, is something that an author has to learn. Whether I have been successful, I'll leave to the reviewers to decide.
I found Rebecca and Reece's journey (literal in their road trip, as well as in their relationship) touching and refreshing and I hope you do too.
There is a stage of plotting and planning that I just love. It is a little, but potent, word called 'Research.' Not all the novels I have written have needed a lot of research. In fact, The Taverton Tales series required hardly any, as I drew on my own experiences of the area and my job experience in a bookshop.
The Things We Regret and 6 Caledon Street were another matter entirely. With dual timelines in each and being set in far flung decades such as the early 1900's and the 1940s, research was essential for authenticity and to dull the slight hysterical panic of the author (me) at the thought of writing something out of the comfort zone.
So, fast forward to a 'lingering on the horizon' work in progress that does require a little research (although not as much as the two forementioned books), and combine it with a family holiday to the very place this WIP is set in (thank goodness for that), and we have the reason for the title of this blog post. Ta da.
More seriously though, it was a complicated week where there were many moving parts, sad family news as well as joyful celebrations. Relationships are a thing to treasure, no matter what mud gets thrown at them. In the midst of it all came the occasional nugget of beauty, reflection and immersion into the surroundings. If nothing else, they will aid the planning phase of this future novel, and I'll happily take that.
Back home again and the WIP looms pleasantly on the horizon while I finish the final edits of a stand-alone novel (set for publication in November). I also have the third Taverton Tales book to write, which means the rest of this year and next will be a busy and creative time. Cheers to that.
Two years ago when I was writing and editing Where Our Paths Meet I had little idea (actually none) that I was embarking on the first in a series. Imagine my surprise when I reach THE END and thought "hang on, there's more I want to do with these characters."
And that's what I love about the frustrating, exhausting, spaghetti noodle experience that the brain goes through when it engages 'creative mode.' AI has nothing on the human brain, it really doesn't.
Last week the second in the series, In The Half-Light, was published. Now drops the realisation that I need to write the next one. As this year is meant to be a pause for writing, but in reality has become a three-concurrent-writing-ideas-sitting-on-my-laptop-gathering-dust situation, I promise I'll try to be quick-ish in writing the third.
But for now you can check out the first two at these links:
I don't know about you, but somewhere between February and late March I begin to feel the thrill of the season leech out of my weather sodden shoes, joining the thin layer of almost constant frost on the ground.
At this point it would be tempting to howl at the steel grey sky and daydream of sandy beaches. However, that will not make the last (hopefully few) weeks of winter disappear any faster.
Instead, sadly abandoning my daily walks for thrice weekly, I have retreated to 'office mode' and spend my days creating book ads, promotions, and finishing off the prep for the next novel. Which is all rather good and productive. So winter, perhaps, has its advantages.
Of course, no cold season would be complete without the obligatory... well, cold. This one has been a banger; almost ten days of headaches, sinus pain and constant blowing my nose into a tissue.
I wish I had something else to report. A luxurious weekend away. A wine infused writers retreat. A sneaky trip into the capital for a fun night out.
No, all I've got is germs and feeling chilly.
Oh, and a handful of new ads to share.
Roll on spring.
I don't know what it is like where you live, but it would be a fair assessment to call the county I live in a mud bowl this time of year. Or perhaps not a bowl, as it's pretty flat... Will have to think about that one for a bit.
I love getting out into nature. But in the cold and grey of January that can prove challenging and throw clay like mud into the mix and it becomes more than a gentle workout and more like a bootcamp montage from a military film.
However, inbetween the desperate search for fresh air and wrestling through ankle deep goop I have managed to be quite productive this week.
Two big things stand out.
Both of which are linked below.
I love reaching this stage in the book creation process. It's the first visible hint that a new book's publication day is approaching and all those months of hard work have been worth it. Sometimes in the editing zone it's impossible to believe that day will come. But it will and it does. The whole thing is a bit like walking through mud actually.
In The Half-Light will be released on the 27th April 2023 and can be pre-ordered by clicking the button at the bottom of this post.
Evelyn Storford owns an independent bookshop in the sleepy Suffolk town of Taverton. When charming and mysterious crime writer Matthew Prince relocates to the area, Evelyn is forced to deal with the memories of her failed marriage and her growing attraction to the new arrival. Struggling to re-establish her life and move out from the family home, Matthew's presence becomes an intoxicating distraction.
Ethan Storford, Evelyn's father, discovers that his own past has once again reared its head, as an unwanted visitor settles into town life, uncomfortably close to the widower's daily routine.
In the Half-Light is the second novel in the Taverton Tales Series, a cosy read about family, friendship, grief and love.
One of the things you quickly learn as an author, and one that seems to always come as a shock, is the need to market and advertise your work. Perhaps there is something in the stereotypical introvert template of an author that makes this reality the stuff of nightmares, or perhaps, as with anything in life, EVERYTHING requires more effort and time than first thought.
Either way, I am eight years into a slow and steady learning process, one that changes between each selling platform, year on year, facing those dreaded algorithms (argh!) and technical difficulties. Chuck in a lack of time and resources and you eventually realise that the author life is a long game of 'slowly, slowly, catch a monkey.'
With this in mind, I decided to kick off 2023 signing up to two marketing courses. I have no advice whether this was a smart decision or not, but 'spinning plates' can succinctly sum up my last two weeks. However, at the risk of sounding like I am a having a big old moan, this blog post is actually a celebration.
Because, in just two weeks of learning, and with a free promotion running as part of that process, one of my novels 6 Caledon Street has scored its highest ranking ever! No 1 in Contemporary Literary Fiction, no less.
Honestly, I don't share this to brag. This is sheer relief and joy that hard work does indeed pay off. The world of publishing is not for the faint hearted. The average author (traditionally published and indie combined) earned an average of £7000 last year. Many can still only dream of that amount.
Next week my rankings may have returned to normal (rapid reverse out of the top 100 at least), and the next round of learning to sell will begin, so I am taking this win and hopefully it'll be an encouragement to any of you who are working toward something.
But before I leave you to get back to it, if you'd like your own Kindle copy of 6 Caledon Street, simply click on either image above and you'll be taken straight to the Amazon book page.
Also, if you would like to leave a comment, please do so below.
I might be nine days late, but (or is it just me?) that first week of January tends to be a little foggy, a little stodgy (blame the left over mince pies) and a little bit... dull, and that's not just due to the lack of daylight.
So, hopefully my tardiness is now forgiven and my Happy New Year still stands. And with the start of 2023, a brand new year, arrives this brand new blog. I aim to post weekly and hopefully I won't digress into random mutterings, in which case the posts could disappear again for a while. I'll call this 'Author Introvert Syndrome' if it happens, where the appeal of a blank page and instant access to the internet, amid working from home facing the same four walls, may be too irresistible a temptation.
So, at the risk of kicking off with Author Introvert Syndrome right from the beginning, I'll keep this first post short.
2023... what will it involve? What are the plans?
For me here at author desk headquarters it'll look a little like this:
April 2023: The release of In The Half-Light, the second in the Taverton Tales Series.
Oct/Nov 2023: The release of a new stand-alone novel.
Throughout the year there will be cover reveals, publication parties, title reveals etc, as well as these blog posts and perhaps even the long delayed Newsletter that I keep forgetting about.
The biggest difference for me this year is that I am not planning any organised writing. As in, no new novel, unless for fun. With two books coming out already, I want to instead use those 20+ hours a week (bare minimum) usually spent writing to focus on marketing and promotion, networking and most importantly connecting. These four walls can't stop me!
Of course, the itch to write persists. Already a whopping nine days into 2023 and I'm jotting ideas into my notebook. So all best laid plans may prove futile.
Either way, this year will look a little different to the daily routine. More time to market effectively, increase freelance work and networking opportunities, maybe even finally have time to soak in the bath, who knows?
But enough about me for now... Happy 2023 to you all and a blessed year ahead.