Yes, I know this year has been … different. That ancient philosopher who said “may you live in interesting times” needs to just shut up now. The ‘featured image’ sums up what a lot of people think about the year just gone.

But that doesn’t stop me from doing my annual roundup – a look back to last New Year at what I said I was going to try and do during 2020, and what I actually have done.

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End of year – 2018

Look back on 2018

This was an interesting year, for sure.
I looked back on my goals for 2018, written around this time last year.
2018 was going to be The Year Of Publishing Dangerously.
I was going to publish at least 4 (count ‘em) novels this last year. I was also going to publish two collections of short fiction, too.
Hmm. That didn’t quite happen.
One of the problems with a huge store of Works-In-Progress is that it’s difficult to decide what you should concentrate on. Which will have the most beneficial effect on my writing career? Which do I want to publish first?
It’s like the donkey in the desert scenario. A sad tale, for those who don’t know, but it describes a donkey walking through a desert, hungry and thirsty. He comes across a bucket of food (whatever it is that donkeys eat) and a bucket of water. He can’t decide whether he’s more hungry than thirsty, or vice versa. He stands in the middle of the two buckets, indecisive, and eventually dies.
Yes, I know it’s a sad tale, and it’s not even true, but there is a dilemma when faced with a decision between choices when all have equal merit.
I went on a writing retreat with my lovely critiquing group (Frinton Writing Group) and presented the multitude of options to them. Having analysed what I’d written, and where I’d reached in the writing, they advised me to concentrate on my crime fiction.
I have two major threads to my novelling – crime (police procedural, with a series main character) and thrillers, mostly concerned with the end of the world as we know it. I call it ‘pre-apocalyptic fiction’.
So I worked on my crime fiction, and I worked on my thrillers. But, alas, none of them are at the ‘publish’ stage yet.
So, I suppose, you could call me a failure. And I’m okay with that.

Away from writing, there have been other developments too.
I am working with two writing friends to set up The Novel Makers http://thenovelmakers.com – a service which will expand upon the work we’ve been doing as part of Frinton Writing Group. We will work with authors writing novels, whether they’re just beginning, whether they’ve begun and are now stuck, or whether they’ve completed their manuscript and are unsure of what to do next. We will be offering online courses, one-to-one mentoring, manuscript appraisals and writing workshops and retreats.
And I personally have set up Writer.Support http://writer.support, a service which begins the work of The Novel Makers, but extends the services sideways, into help with writing short fiction, ghost writing, author websites, and podcasting / vlogging.
Tomorrow, I shall be posting my goals for 2019. Yes. Ever the optimist, me.


End of year 2017


Hello, faithful reader (who am I kidding?) As you may know, if you’ve ever been near this blog before, at the end of the year I analyse what I’ve done, writing-wise, during the year. And I use last year’s writing goals as the yardstick by which I measure my success over the year.
So, without further ado, let’s look at how I measured up.

1) Write one short story a week for the Bradbury Challenge 2017. I can definitely do this. I have far too many ideas for me to stop writing them now.
Okay. Let’s start with this. FAIL! To be fair, there wasn’t actually an ‘official’ Bradbury Challenge 2017. We thought about it, talked about it, but it never actually got off the ground. I’ve written a number of c. 500-word stories during the year. But no Bradbury Challenge. No story per week, although there are about eighteen or so pieces of flash fiction. So they can be smartened up, polished until they’re as bright as a new pin, and packaged into … something.

2) Complete the 100kwords100days challenge.
FAIL! Hahahaha! To be fair, I got to 77,000, which was about 5k behind at that time, but then I seemed to stop. Yeah. Sounds about right. But the two cozy novellas I was writing when I started got completed, so that’s good! I had a bash at the July one, too, and only got to 26k.

3) Novels. (i.e. write some)
FAIL! Not doing very well, am I? Another year where stories have been started, and not finished. Which, to be honest, is becoming a bit of a habit for me.
Let’s be clear about this. I don’t feel bad about not achieving my goals. Maybe that’s the problem. Maybe I need to feel bad about it, to give me more impetus into achieving them. Maybe if I was starving, I’d be more inclined to write, complete and publish.

One area of success this year has been publishing – I have managed to self-publish three short non-fiction writer support books. One was a short guide to Scrivener, the writing software I use, and two were books about NaNoWriMo – how to complete the challenge, and how to self-publish your novel when you’d completed it. So 2017 was an unqualified success! Haha!
Seriously, I enjoyed publishing again, and the Scrivener and NaNoWriMo books were ones I’d wanted to write for some time. Generally, they were well-received.

We did also keep the Literary Roadhouse podcast going. Logistical difficulties, arranging four people to be on the end of a viable internet connection, in four different time zones, is not the easiest thing. Also, the time needed to edit and prepare the audio for podcast takes a toll, and I’m hoping that when things settle down a little after the Christmas break, I’ll be able to help out a bit on that score.

And I did finish NaNoWriMo 2017, for my 13th ‘win’. As is becoming a habit for me, I tried something different for 2017, and that was to write a short-ish story which blends the romance and crime genres. It was a challenge, and my writing always tends towards the dark, so trying to keep at least half of the focus on a romance story was challenging. It won’t be until I look at it again early in 2018 that I’ll be able to tell if it works.