Officially, it’s spring. Unofficially, well, it’s anyone’s guess. I think even poor old Mother Nature is getting a bit confused. One day it’s thick snow and freezing cold, the next it’s blue skies, sunshine and I’m turning the heating down (much to the relief of the gas company, I’m sure. Were we really in danger of running out of gas? Scary thought!)
So, since the first quarter of the year has passed already, I thought I’d look back on what’s been happening in my life during the last three months.
January: The year started with some great news. I was awarded an Amazon All-Star Author bonus due to high sales and downloads during December. I was absolutely stunned but so grateful to everyone who had read my books – and not just in December, obviously!
The bad news was, I was struck by the dreaded lurgy, and boy, did it linger. DH was poorly with it all over Christmas but I thought I’d escaped it. Nope. It was just lulling me into a false sense of security. And, to add insult to injury, it waited until I had booked two weeks off work to catch up with the writing before striking. I spent almost the entire fortnight feeling absolutely awful, too exhausted to even read, never mind write. So much for catching up!
I dragged myself back to work for a week before admitting defeat and going on sick for a further week. I was coughing non-stop, feeling dizzy, headachey, my throat was hurting, and I was soooo tired! I went back to work but I didn’t really get back to normal for nearly another fortnight. When this thing strikes, it really strikes. Loads of my family and workmates were suffering, too. And almost everyone on social media seemed to be going through the same thing, so I certainly never felt alone in my misery. 🙂
The result of this, however, was that my writing took a very definite back seat and my work-in-progress no longer progressed. This put me well behind schedule, with the result that the book I had hoped to release at the end of February/beginning of March will now be released in April. Stressing about getting behind with my writing made me think again about juggling my writing career with the day job. I’ve struggled for a while with trying to fit in everything I need to do professionally, while also seeing my family and friends. It was beginning to feel like an impossible situation.
DH and I had gone away for a hotel break in Thirsk while I was on my holidays, but I was too ill to go sightseeing and spent most of my time in our hotel room, feeling tired and fed up. I didn’t even get to explore Thirsk! One afternoon, I mustered the energy and we went to one of our favourite places – Masham.
Whenever we visit there, we always go for a walk around the churchyard, which may sound odd but it really is the most soothing place and the perfect location to sit and think. I told DH I really felt that I needed to make a decision about leaving the day job. Luckily for me, he is very supportive and was delighted that I was seriously thinking about making the break. On the way back to the hotel, we stopped at a shop and I bought a notebook and spent the evening working out finances and whether it was “do-able”. Gulp!
February: Having made the decision, I went back to work after my fortnight off, and gave them my resignation. I gave them eight weeks’ notice, rather than the usual four, because I wanted to give them time to find a replacement. It’s a very busy and pressured environment, and I didn’t want to add to their stresses, if possible! Decision made, there was no going back. Funnily enough, once I’d done the deed, the fear went, although I did start to look around the office with sudden fondness…
Also that month, The Doctor’s Daughter (the original version of New Doctor at Chestnut House) was published by Ulverscroft as part of their Linford Romance Library. It should be in libraries up and down the country, which is a dream come true for me. It joins All Because of Baxter (the original version of Baxter’s Christmas Wish). Later that month, I was delighted and honoured when Resisting Mr Rochester was awarded a Chill with a Book Readers’ Award. They are hard to come by, so it meant an awful lot to me to receive this. I then got notification that I had received my second Amazon All-Star bonus for January. Amazing!
And so to March, which was a mixed month. I was supposed to be attending a social media marketing course, but the weather put paid to that, so I will be going later this month instead. I’m on countdown to getting my third Bramblewick novel released – later than planned, as I mentioned. It’s called Fresh Starts at Folly Farm. It tells the story of the new practice nurse at the surgery, and also features characters from New Doctor at Chestnut House and Christmas at the Country Practice. Look out, also, for guest appearances from a couple of Kearton Bay characters! It’s due for release on April 10th, so not long now. Here’s the cover:
I’ve also been working on my next “big book” publication – the as yet untitled follow-up to This Other Eden.
Of course, it’s Easter, so I’ve been stockpiling Easter eggs – not for me, you understand. I do have a lot of children to buy for. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. The worst part was that I’d ordered them online, but the shopping delivery was cancelled as the van couldn’t get through the snow, so DH and I had to go in person to the supermarket for the first time in ages, and I had to shove six Easter eggs in my trolley. I felt like hanging a sign around my neck stating “They’re not for me”!
On Thursday (29th March) it was my last day at the day job. I can’t tell you how emotional that was, and how much I’m going to miss my lovely colleagues at the medical centre where I worked. They gave me a wonderful send-off with cards and gifts galore, flowers, a buffet, and lots of hugs and tears. They’ve been very supportive of my writing, and they’ll never know how much I appreciated that. I know it’s the right thing for me to do at this point in time, and I’m not scared about leaving. I don’t think I’ll miss the actual job. Having done it for so long, it was feeling stale and I was ready for a change. What I will miss are the lovely workmates who have given me so much encouragement, laughed with me, helped me through bad times, cheered me up when I was down, and been generally fantastic to work with. I will miss the camaraderie so much. I really hope we manage to stay in touch.
I now have no real excuse not to crack on with the writing, have I? It’s three years since There Must Be an Angel was published. I know! I can’t believe it either! To celebrate, I’m giving my Kearton Bay books a complete makeover, with gorgeous new covers designed by the multi-talented Mark Heslington. The new Kindle versions should be available now (hopefully), with paperbacks following in the near future. This Other Eden will also be getting a new cover to coincide with the publication of the second Skimmerdale novel – but more of that later. Here are the new covers for Kearton Bay:
So that’s my spring catch-up. What a busy three months it’s been! Before I go, I must also tell you about another anniversary. As regular followers of this blog will know, April 1st is the date, five years ago, that my lovely writing family The Write Romantics got together. We couldn’t let that pass without doing something to mark the occasion. Yesterday on this blog, I posted a special “getting to know” feature, where I mercilessly grilled all my WR sisters on such gripping topics as is a Jaffa Cake a cake or biscuit? And is it Sc-own or Sconn? (I can hear Julie H saying sconn as I write this!) On the Write Romantics blog today there’s the first in a short series of posts to celebrate our anniversary, so if you’d like to pop over and read it, just click on the link. Enjoy!
Have a wonderful Easter.