As is usual with me at the end of a year, although a little later than normal, I am reflecting on the last twelve months. On what went well and what didn’t, and tomorrow I will look forward to the next twelve months.
As writing is always my main focus, and the reason I work for myself rather than ‘the man’, I will start with novels and stories written and published in 2019:
As always, my reality never caught up to my ambition, and a huge disappointment for me last year was not finishing and publishing Joe Coffin Season Five.
I did write and publish a Joe Coffin short story, Looking for Walter Newhouse.
Set in 1970, it is an expanded version of the story told by Danny ‘The Butcher’ Hanrahan in Joe Coffin Season Two, and I am really pleased with how it turned out.
Planet of the Dinosaurs Book Two: The Journey North was my first full length novel of 2019.
In the summer I returned to writing romance for My Weekly, and rapidly wrote two novels back to back: Surfing into Danger, and a haunted murder mystery romance which has been accepted but not published yet.
I was also commissioned to write a short story with a group of secondary school students, which was published as part of an anthology: After Summer and Other Stories.
Trying to create a story from the ideas of others was quite a challenge for me, but the story FallDeep was received well and I’ve been asked to work with another group of school students in the spring for a second anthology.
I struggled to write Joe Coffin Season Five, I edited Season One again, finally gave in designing my own covers and started working with professionals, and started a Ko-fi page.
Towards the end of 2019 I decided to get serious with my self-published romance books. For a long time these have been sitting on Amazon doing nothing at all as I continued to ignore them. I have repackaged and republished them with updated keywords and a small promotional campaign. The first two are out now with more to come, one a month for the next six months at least.
At the start of 2019 I set myself the ridiculous challenge of writing a million words. Did I succeed?
208,481, which is double the previous year, so I am still pleased with that.
In 2019 I finally took the plunge and signed up to Mark Dawson’s Ads for Authors course. I have run some Facebook ads, which are starting to show a little success, and I dabbled with Bookbub and Amazon ads with no success at all.
In other news, I joined a Speaker’s Club. We meet every two weeks, and this has been a fantastic benefit to me in improving my public speaking skills.
The highlights of my speaking year were the National Writers Conference, where I spoke to the Spark Young Writers and presented them with certificates, and the Birmingham Literature Festival where I talked about my involvement with the anthology project.
I’m still running writing clubs and courses.
The Kidderminster Spark Young Writers group is the highlight of my month. I’m telling you now, there are some teenagers in that group who are going to be the writers of tomorrow. They are amazing.
I also run an after-school club, which is great too (although that one can be a little riotous, but they are still brilliant), and I am still running a long-standing adult group at Kingswinford Library which is now at capacity in terms of numbers.
I also ran two standalone writing courses.
And finally, I visited the University of London and spoke to the students of the MA Creative Writing and Publishing course, I ran three mini creative writing workshops at Newman College, spoke as part of a panel at Worcester University, and ran workshops at an alternative provision school for SEMH students in South London.
In the summer I trained to be an Arts Adviser, but I haven’t put this into action yet and is something I need to look at in 2020.
So 2019 has been a mixed bag really. I suffered with a lack of focus last year, particularly with the writing. Part of this was the result of constantly looking for a quick fix, and not investing in being consistent. This is something I began to work on towards the end of the year, and I will be scheduling blocks of time for writing much more consistently in 2020.
Oh yes, 2020! Come back tomorrow and I will tell you my plans for the next twelve months.