2019 – well that came around quickly!

It’s become a ‘thing’ – every year we say that we don’t know where the year has gone and already here we are at the start of another new one – but it’s so true, isn’t it? Seriously, what happened to 2018? It flew by!

I’m not a fan of New Years Resolutions. How often we make a little list of ways we intend to improve or change or extend ourselves, only to give up by the middle of January, and then we spend the rest of the month feeling bad. I’m not going to do that. I mean, I’m very aware that I need to get fitter and lose weight – I think most of us have to do that. I need to be more productive, procrastinate less and be more disciplined. My garden looks like a patch of waste ground. And my kitchen is a mess. I need to clean more, though that’s not exactly an aspiration, more harsh reality. I also need to be a bit less of a hoarder (though it doesn’t count if you’re talking about books – that’s not hoarding, that’s saving books to enhance the future of humankind if all the other libraries and stores in the world burn down) so I need to have a bit of a clear out and declutter. Charities, please put some donation sacks through my door, I guarantee they will be full in no time.

I’ve already made a good start. Got myself a desk calendar to plan my workload efficiently. AND I’ve started filling it in! Got myself two shiny new project notebooks. No, don’t laugh, that counts as ‘planning’, and absolutely not ‘splurging’. I’ve got to that stage of a book series where I keep thinking, ‘What did I say in book 2 about…?’ So I’ve decided to develop a series bible to keep track of stuff like hair colour and living room descriptions etc. See! I’m being a grown-up. Reluctantly.

I actually love the new start feel of January. This is a new year. Anything could happen. It has all the potential to be an unbelievably wonderful year. I hope everyone who reads this will have an amazing 2019. Let’s do this!

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Janus, or the art of looking both ways at once

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Janus is the Roman god who has two faces, enabling him to look forward and backward at the same time. It is often (possibly erroneously) supposed the month January is named after him, poised as it is at the beginning of the new year yet with the old year still very much alive in our memories.

Once Christmas is over and the new year begins to beckon, we are seemingly in both places at once. 2016 (what an awful year, in so many ways) still dominates our thoughts and yet, here it comes, 2017, looming on the horizon, bright, shiny and new, full of possibilities, an unwritten page.

So we look forward and back at the same time, for the moment torn in our thoughts and plans, divided in our dreams, not yet able to completely commit to the new, the undiscovered, and still holding onto all that has happened during the twelve months of 2016.

We long for a fresh start. If 2016 is the experienced adult, bent by experience, then 2017 is the innocent child.The joyous optimism of leaving the past behind and reaching forward to something new and good is irresistible. And so we plan and and resolve to make changes in our lives. I am keeping my list of resolutions simple this year. I am going to write more, read more and enjoy life more. Good riddance, 2016. Thank God you’re here, 2017!

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The Year Of Writing Dangerously – or my promise to me

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I think I stole this phrase from someone, it just came to me in a flash the other night as I was drifting off to sleep and I felt it encapsulated everything I’m feeling right now. Usually when that happens it’s my subconscious nabbing something I’ve heard or seen before and bringing it to the fore. (It’s  my character Ben Sherman all over again) So I apologise wholeheartedly if this is your phrase and I’ve nicked it. It just seems the perfect expression of my mood.
2014, as I’ve said a number of times, was a difficult year to love. Yes, there were highs but for me and probably everyone else as well, there were also some lows. As I look ahead to 2015 I feel that sense of excitement at the prospect of a clean, fresh New Year, and so I’ve made a few promises to myself; resolutions, if you will, as most of us do. As usual I’ve promised to lose weight and get fitter. I ended the year lighter/healthier than I began it so I’m starting from a position of strength! There are other things too, important to me but not to others.
Mostly, in the New Year, I plan to write my socks off. I’ve got a nice little collection of memes now. They say encouraging things such as ‘write like no one is watching’ and ‘only you can write your book’. So true.
But this year I want to write something else, I want to write something different. Mainly though, I just want to write. To achieve that, I can’t afford to waste time sitting around waiting for some fickle muse of creativity to smile on me, I’ve got to grab her by her coat front and force that smile from her. This year I’m going to be dangerous. You can too.

Time for a recap – and plan ahead

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It’s that time of year. TV is full of programmes that round up the highlights of their Best Of lists, counting down from 100, or 50 or 30 or 20, to the mythical eminence of the number one spot – ta-da – the winner, the best…

You probably know by now that like a lot of writers, I’m a bit of an introvert, and rather self-absorbed. I constantly reassess myself throughout the year, not just here, at the year’s-end. In fact I’m notorious, at home anyway, for overthinking everything.

This year I’ve benefitted hugely by the amount of information, how-tos and research that is available on the Internet, and it has helped me to do a number of things I couldn’t before, so thank you to everyone who shares and publishes their knowledge ‘out there’ in the ether. I’ve learned how to link social media bits together to avoid having to put the same content out there numerous times, I’ve learned how to develop my contacts and connections and build my platform (ongoing project though!). I’ve learned that when people say ‘Do what ever you want’ they really mean ‘Do whatever I tell you to do’. I’ve improved my cover-designing skills, found new resources, built my freelancing profile, (earned some actual money!) I’ve become more organised. I’ve achieved some goals. I’ve missed some by a mile. And one thing I’ve learned, especially in this last two months is that it’s okay to have fun, to stop striving and enjoy life. I’ve ‘met’ some wonderful people and had some great conversations.

I didn’t finish the first draft of the third book of my Posh Hits trilogy. I’m maybe halfway through – not really, I’m actually only about a third of the way through. It should have been written, revised, revised and revised by now. It should be ready for publication. But no. Am I stressed about it? Not any more. I was, a while back, when the harsh reality of stuffing up my schedule began to dawn on me, then I decided that publication dates are arbitrary and if it’s not ready, it’s just not ready. I never usually miss a deadline, so this one time I have given myself permission to do so, and I think, I fervently hope, it will be worth the wait. So that’s still on my to-do list and will be making an appearance a little later than scheduled, some time next year.

And because of that not being finished, other projects have got pushed back too. But again, I feel it’s all going to be okay. Better to put out a good product late than a shonky product on time, I feel. So Miss Burkett will probably miss her May-promised (but only to myself) deadline. But I know she will arrive at some point.

But I’ve kept my blog going, more or less adding new material at least once a week, which has been a major leap forward for me, and one I hope to continue in the New Year. And on Facebook, my Monday Haiku has been going out weekly pretty well for a couple of months now, again, a new more disciplined approach for me.

Next year, Check Mate will, God willing, finally be out, as will the first of my Miss Burkett cosy mysteries. I also hope to publish a novel, Easy Living, which is something of a paranormal-type-kind-of mystery. There may also be another novel, as yet undecided. 2014 has been a year of drafting and consolidation. I believe 2015 will be a year of fruitfulness and fulfillment. I hope to continue the blog, the Haiku, to go on and on and on about books and cats and chocolate and deadlines.

So as this year closes, I want to remember the good days, and say goodbye to the bad, heaving a sigh of relief at the advent of a New Year, with new hopes, a new plan of action, fresh ideas and projects, and to say a huge Thank You to all those wonderful people who have followed this blog, tolerated my rants and self-absorption, encouraged and fed my desire to write, and shared their wonderful gifts of writing, painting and friendship with me. Thanks, folks. Have a good one. See you on the other side.

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