New year, same goals…

At least I’m getting in with the new year’s goals post quicker than I did last year! I won’t get into whether it’s a new decade or not because people will start squabbling, so let’s move along.

Here’s a recap of last year’s goals:

  • Work smarter, not harder 
  • Try some new things 
  • Get fitter 

2019 was a pretty good year, book-wise. Paula Harmon and I co-wrote two more books together, The Case of the Fateful Legacy and The Case of the Crystal Kisses, to finish off the Caster & Fleet series. That brought mixed emotions – sadness that we were saying goodbye to Katherine and Connie, at least for now, but also pleasure that we’d been able to wind up the series in a way that pleased us both, and could draw a line under it.

I was also pleased and relieved to edit and publish a book which I’d had sitting in draft for a year: In Sherlock’s Shadow, the sequel to A House of Mirrors. I’d been putting it off for ages (and it was easy to put it off with so many other things going on), a bit scared at what I might find when I opened the file and began reading. However, once I got on with it, the edit was fine. Long (well, it was a 91,000-word draft), but fine. I’m hoping to write book 3 this year – and not to leave the edit so long this time!

I wrote another Pippa Parker book, The QWERTY Murders, and managed to edit and publish it relatively quickly, pausing between the draft and the edit to try something new and work smarter…

I dictated a whole book, while walking.

I’ve written about the process of drafting All At Sea, the first book in my new series, in various blog posts (here’s one), so I won’t go into depth here, but what I will say is that dictating the draft helped me to get the words down quicker, left me less tired, and helped me get some exercise in. When I’d finished All At Sea I used the same technique for NaNoWriMo to write book 2, Off The Map, and I’ll be doing the same for book 3, Gone To Ground, in January. Previously I’ve ended the year in a scramble to get everything done, whereas this year I published 7 books (not counting box sets), got out a couple of projects that had been waiting for a while, started a new series, and still feel fairly well-rested!

Other new things this year:

  • I published my first children’s book, A Christmas Carrot, which was a joint venture with Zoe Harmon. Given that it was my first go, and marketing a kids’ book is quite different, I was pleased with how it did, and I would definitely consider publishing more of them, armed with the knowledge I’ve gained.
  • With two author friends, I hosted an event at a local library. We sold lots of tickets, got great feedback, and have been invited to do more.
  • I began working with a publisher, which was completely unexpected. They’ve taken on the marketing for my Sherlock & Jack series, on a royalty-share basis, and I must admit that it is a great relief to have one series off my hands! Once we review the figures I may well hand over some more series, but it’s early days yet.

Oh, and I got fitter. I finally started running again, and while I won’t break any speed records, it has been really nice to pick it back up. Most weeks I’ve been running once or twice with a friend, as well as going out solo, and that combined with all the dictation walking has helped me shed a few pounds. We’ve also been trying to eat less red meat and add in some vegetarian meals, which we’ve actually enjoyed.

So I did quite well with my goals this year. However, there’s always room for improvement, so I’m going to keep the same goals.

  • Work smarter, not harder – carry on using dictation, but also make some decisions about existing series. I have one series coming up to 3 books and another coming up to 6 books – do I continue past that point with them, or not? Partly that’s a story question, but it’s a business question too. A further point for me is to streamline and speed up the publishing processQWERTY and All At Sea have shown me that it is possible, and being able to set pre-orders up to a year in advance makes series visibility much better.
  • Try some new things – I’ve done some paid editing this year, and enjoyed it, so this is a line of work I’d like to develop. I’m still tutoring, and enjoying it, but editing has more flexibility so I’d like to do it alongside the tutoring work. I’d also like to explore different ways of writing, so I’ve been looking at online courses about poetry and screenwriting, and plan to engage with those during 2020 as a bit of CPD. I also got a bookbinding starter kit for Christmas, so I have a new book-related hobby to go at!
  • Get fitter – continue with the walking and running, and also work on the healthy eating (once I’ve finished the Christmas cake, that is).

So that’s the plan for 2020. No doubt I’ll get thrown some curveballs along the way, but I intend to keep going. What are your plans for the coming year? Let me know in a comment!

The featured image is Calendar* by Dafne Cholet, and it is shared under Creative Commons license 2.0. No changes were made.

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