This is the year the Witford Market Mysteries gets released! Oh yes! Book One is in first edit, Book Two (part-written for NaNoWriMo last year) is about quarter written, Book Three is planned, and Book Four might be the Christmas episode I’ve written and abandoned several times. The problem has been that I want the Christmas episode to come out just before… Christmas. I know. Crazy, huh? So the Christmas story has been the first, then the second, then the first again, and now it’s going to be 3rd or 4th. The problem is that in the first book, you are introducing your characters for the first time. So there’s more back story exposition, the relationships between the characters is different, and the conflict and tensions are different. So yeah.

I’ve emptied the well of short fiction I have, and I’m unlikely to write sufficient quantities to make another collection anytime soon.

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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.

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NaNoWriMo – how did it go?

The short answer is: not well. After a good start, and being well on course to write 70,000 words for the month (which would have seen another successful NaNo for me), I injured my back.

Not doing something heroic. Oh no. Not skiing down a glacier, or climbing a great peak. No, I injured my back… feeding ducks.

As a result, I could stand, I could lie down, but sitting was too painful for more than 10-15 minutes. I kept going, I tried to stay on track, but I began to fall further and further behind, and ended on the 24th November with just 17,629 words in the project.

If you want to see some of the update videos, I have made a playlist. I tried not to moan too much about my back! LINK HERE: [ NaNo23 Playlist ]

Am I downcast? Maybe a little. Not for spoiling my run of “wins” (my winning streak was up to 14 before 2023). For me, NaNoWriMo is about what it does for me and my writing goals, rather than being an end in itself.

I shall pick up the project again early next year.


NANOWRIMO – the planning (2)

At the end of the last post, I detailed the story beats thus:

Act 1 – opening before investigation, setup, initial enquiries, decision to progress

Act 2A – maybe side story (love interest?), detailed investigation, first obstacle, 

Act 2B – the investigation gets more difficult, MC suffers biggest obstacle, things look bad, oh – hang on…

Act 3 – new impetus, new ideas, closing in on the culprit, knocking red herrings aside, final disclosure, rounding up, return to normality

At this point, I’m eyeing up one of my favourite processes, which is 100% the key to all of my novel writing in the past five years – maybe longer.

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NANOWRIMO – the planning (1)

Over the years, I have listened to many authors speaking on their process. It’s always interesting to hear how “the professionals” do it. I remember one author (whose name I have genuinely forgotten) who told a group of aspiring writers that during the editing process, he rewrote his completed manuscripts at least 10 times.

I thought I had misheard.

But no – he wrote, and rewrote, his whole manuscript for each novel at least 10 times.

At the time, I hadn’t published any novels, and I was keen to hear other people’s methodologies. But ten complete rewrites sounded completely bonkers to me. Surely, there was a better, more time-efficient, way?

Indeed there was.

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It’s NANOWRIMO time, and I have no choice

NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month, comes around at the end of October each year. From a local challenge in San Francisco in 1999, with just 21 participants, it has grown to a global event, with hundreds of thousands of writers joining each year.

As you might expect, with a name like National Novel Writing Month, the idea is to write “a novel” in a single month – the 30 days of November. The actual size of the “novel” is determined as 50,000 words, which means participants need to write an average of 1,667 words per day to be successful in the challenge.

I first heard about this challenge in 2003, and it sounded like fun, so I signed up. And I “won” – the prize being a downloadable certificate and the self-satisfaction of having written a whole bunch of words in a single month.

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What to do, what to do

Here’s a confession. I have written no fiction for several months.

No, it’s not writers’ block, or me being lazy. Being a full-time author means, for the most part, making a living from other, writing-related pursuits. Contract work for other authors is one thing; running courses and workshops for other authors is another. But you can’t just turn up for a course without doing some preparation. The prep for a course sometimes takes many times the work required to actually run the course.

I’m not complaining. I’m very fortunate to be able to sustain myself (with a little help from small, occupational pensions, and being a partner to another full-time author).

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Does fast writing really work?

On May 1st 2022, I’m launching my course: The Efficient Novelist. It shows, in detail, and with many supporting resources, how I create, write and publish four novels a year.

Why do I do that?

There are two reasons:

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You may have questions about The Efficient Novelist

Do you want to become a full-time author?

Are you interested in progressing your writing career, attracting more readers and increasing your royalties?

If I told you that I had developed a process to create and publish a new commercial fiction novel every 3 months, which gains me readership and increases my sales, would you be interested? Do you have any questions which might stop you signing up?

Here are a few I’ve been asked already.

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Dreams of becoming a full-time author

Do you want to become a full-time author?

Do you dream of sitting in your study, looking out on a beautiful landscape, crafting wonderful novels which sell in their thousands to sustain your comfortable lifestyle?

I know I’ve had this pipedream for many years. I know a lot of us do, and although the second sentence is, for most of us, a flight of fancy, it IS possible to give up your full-time job and write for a living.

But the question is: how much are you prepared to do to make that dream a reality? Are you prepared to take a long, hard look at what you write, and how you write? If you could make a few small changes to your writing life, would it be worth doing it to have a shot at becoming that full-time author you’ve always wanted to be?

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