Looking back on 2023

For some reason, I didn’t do a review and a forward plan last year. I can only think I was reviewing the purpose of blogs and newsletters and so on. There was some discussion that blogs are fairly self-indulgent, and only serve the person writing it.

The same applies to vlogs and YouTube videos, too. I’m watching vids which point out “no one cares about you, no one’s interested in your life.” And I can get onboard with that, a little.


Probably a good question. And the answer? I want to record what I’m doing, how I’m thinking, what has been good – and bad – about 2023, and what I should be looking forward to in 2024.


My long-promised new series called Witford Market Mysteries still hasn’t begun. I’ve been writing and part-writing this series for a couple of years now. My last published work of fiction was in June 2022 (The Body Box Set – three novels in the Jerry Sanders Mystery series – https://mybook.to/BodyBoxSet ) and that was a box set. My last new fiction novel (Body Under The Pier – https://mybook.to/BodyUnderThePier ) was published in June 2021.

So that’s not good, is it?

One thing I did publish this year was a collection of dark Christmas short stories – something I’ve been planning to do for some time – https://mybook.to/DarkChristmas 


Things are looking a little better on the non-fic front. I’ve written books specifically for Swanwick Writers’ Summer School where, for the past two years, I’ve run a live self-publishing demonstration. The idea being that Anita and I deliver a self-publishing workshop, and then I go live on Amazon’s KDP platform, and publish a book I’ve written. In 2022, I published an ebook following a successful workshop delivered to the Jericho Writers group https://jerichowriters.com/ which described the process of creating an author website – why you should, why you shouldn’t, and various options for creation and some discussion on content. It’s here: https://mybook.to/AuthorWebsites 

In 2023, I’ve done a similar thing – I used the Swanwick workshop as the impetus for me updating my (bestselling!) Scrivener Pure & Simple book, and I wrote Scrivener 3 – Pure & Simple https://mybook.to/Scrivener3 


I was contacted late on this year by a friend on Twitter, asking for help with the marketing of his two self-published books. He was disappointed by sales, and asked what he could do. After passing on some ideas, he then agreed to pay me for a full report on the steps he could take to improve sales. And thus was born a new service: https://gerald-hornsby.com/self-marketing-insights/ 

As part of a Arts Council-funded project, we offered to publish any book which was written as a result of the project. Some initial consultancy work has been done on this, and the actual design and publishing process will carry over into 2024.

I did some formatting work for Deborah Klée on her latest novel: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Last-Act-mystery-romance-theatrical-ebook/dp/B0C284D3C4/ 

I helped Anita with a project for https://www.frintonliteraryfestival.co.uk/ where we created a “Hero’s Journey” story creation workshop – children moving from table to table, working on their hero, the villain, the location and so on. We had many participants, and everyone seemed to enjoy it.

I also helped Anita with various aspects of another Arts Council-funded project, this time aimed at using writing for wellbeing, aimed at adults working in a school environment – teachers and administrative staff.

In summary: lots of small pieces of work, which were enjoyable and largely financially beneficial, and related in some way to My Writing Life.


Lots of thoughts this year. As part of NaNoWriMo, I did a regular video update, which some people enjoyed. I do like working with video, and improving and extending my skills. One problem is the amount of time it takes to edit videos, and then upload them to YouTube. As with publishing, it’s not just about uploading a file, it’s also about filling in the various boxes for title and subtitles, categories and keywords, thumbnail and title and so on. It’s something which currently remains very much in the background, but in which I have a keen interest.


FAIL! 2023 was the first year I’ve not been able to complete NaNoWriMo for over a dozen years. I had a good plan, and the writing was going well, but I did something to my lower back early in the month – first hinted at in this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J8s9aPwLWZ0 and I announced my abandonment in this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ogo2tNAvig8 I’m not upset over it – it is what it is. It’s a shame the 2nd Witford Mystery didn’t get written during November, but I was able to get a good start, which I should pick up in the New year.


Nothing happened this year.


Since August 2022, I have been Chair of the School. I was encouraged to volunteer by so-called “friends” (lol) and I was nominated unopposed. 

It’s been a ride.

It’s an unpaid position, which is an issue because it takes me away from My Writing Life. In the first year’s School (2023), I found standing on stage and hosting events uncomfortable. So, there’s that.


2023 has been a ‘bitsa’ year for me. Bitsa this, bitsa that. Writing this summary has been good for me, because I’ve been able to list this things I HAVE done, rather than the things I HAVEN’T done.

I’m looking forward to the LOOKING FORWARD post, which I shall write after this, and post a day or so later.


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