I meant to publish this post before the weekend but, typically, I was laid low with the dreaded lurgy: three days with practically no voice at all (my husband loved it!) a pounding headache and a soundtrack of sneezes and coughs. I suppose it made a change from Christmas songs. At least, today, I seem to be on the mend. My voice is almost back to normal and my headache has gone – touch wood. I’m still a bit woozy, though, so if this blog post starts to meander I can only apologise. I’ll try to keep it as short and snappy as possible – though, given I’ve got twelve months to get through, that will be a Herculean task. Here goes:
Winter: Awards, Rewards and Big Decisions!
January and February lulled me into a false sense of security as, for two months running, I received Amazon KDP All-Star bonuses. Downloads of my books to Kindle Unlimited readers were evidently high, and I was absolutely delighted and amazed! I was also thrilled to receive a Chill with a Book Readers’ Award for Resisting Mr Rochester. To celebrate, DH and I headed off to Thirsk for a short break. It didn’t go quite to plan as I was absolutely full of cold (again!) and we only managed to leave the hotel for one afternoon. However, a momentous decision was made that day, as we sat contemplating the future on a cold but sunny day in the churchyard at Masham …
Spring: new beginnings and fresh starts!
March was a huge month for me. On the last working day before Easter I left my day job and became a full-time writer. Upon my return from Thirsk, I’d handed in my notice and taken the leap of faith. I was so sad to leave all my lovely workmates, but I knew that writing was what I wanted to do more than anything. They threw me a smashing leaving party and I got so many cards and gifts I was overwhelmed – not to mention this beautiful bouquet of flowers. The photo definitely doesn’t do it justice. Also in March, my Kearton Bay novels were given a fresh new look by Mark Heslington, with gorgeous summery covers.
In April, I published the first of four releases for 2018 – the third installment of my Bramblewick series, Fresh Starts at Folly Farm. I was so pleased when it received an Amazon bestseller flag. Later that month, my friend Jessica Redland and I attended a social media course in York, run by the very talented Anita Chapman. We made some lovely new friends there and had a great time – so much so that we’ve signed up for the second part of the course in 2019.
May also brought another trip to York to a bloggers’ and writers’ lunch organised by book blogger Anne Williams. It was a brilliant afternoon, and again I got to meet some wonderful new people and finally got to talk to several “friends” from social media. What was also exciting about May was that both A Kiss from a Rose and There Must Be an Angel received little orange bestseller flags on Amazon – three years on from their release date. The new covers had evidently done the trick!
Summer: Holidays and Jolly Days!
Late May and early June saw DH and I on a boat on the Norfolk Broads, along with our eldest son, his wife and two daughters. We had a wonderful week, with mostly sunny weather. There was a lot to see and do, and it was all smiles, right up until the last day. That’s when, most unexpectedly, it all went a bit pear-shaped. We still love Norfolk, but might not venture onto the Broads again … You can read more about that here.
In July I attended my first ever Romantic Novelists’ Association annual conference. It was held in Leeds so wasn’t hard to get to, and Jessica and I shared a taxi from the station to the university where we were staying. It was a little overwhelming for someone as socially anxious as I am, but overall I did enjoy myself. I attended some very interesting lectures, met a lot of authors I’d previously only seen on social media, and had a really good laugh along the way. I caught up with my Write Romantics’ chum Jackie Ladbury, and finally got to meet another WR pal, Mills & Boon author Rachael Thomas, who was every bit as lovely as I’d expected her to be.
Autumn: Sheep, Tea and Yorkshire Roses!
September brought the culmination of almost eighteen months’ work, on and off, as I published Being Emerald – the second in my Skimmerdale series. Being Emerald is a big book and took an awful lot of work. At times I felt like giving up on it, but I loved my characters so much I couldn’t turn my back on them. Truthfully, I’m not sure that it pays to spend so much time on one book. Big books don’t seem to sell as well – at least, not for me. People seem to prefer their novels shorter these days. Even so, Being Emerald remains one of the books I’m most proud of. It was very difficult and time-consuming to write, but I think it’s a good story and I’m glad I wrote it.
Also in September, Jessica and I attended the annual Romantic Novelists’ Association York Tea, organised by Lynda Stacey. It was a wonderful afternoon. The food was absolutely scrummy, we had a fabulous talk from guest speaker Jean Fullerton, and the room was crammed full with lovely, friendly writers who were great company. What a brilliant way to spend an afternoon!
After all that excitement, DH and I headed off to the Yorkshire Dales for a week and I immersed myself in the Skimmerdale vibe, visiting the amazing Masham Sheep Fair and taking trips to beautiful Yorkshire locations such as Grassington, Muker, Thwaite, Hebden Bridge and Knaresborough. I love Yorkshire so much, and while I was away I was making notes, taking photos and formulating lots of ideas …
In October I published the fourth Bramblewick novel. A Merry Bramblewick Christmas has done very well, getting its little orange bestseller flag almost immediately. The Bramblewick series seems to be very popular, I’m glad to say. I’m very fond of the series myself and there will be another two books coming in 2019.
November rolled around and brought with it the exciting launch of a new project. Jessica Redland and myself became the Yorkshire Rose Writers, publishing a brand new website/blog, starting our Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook pages and joining forces to promote ourselves and our books to all fans of Yorkshire-based contemporary fiction. We are great friends and have a shared passion for our home county. We also write books in the same genre, and it made sense to join forces for promotion. We got the idea from the lovely Anita Chapman back in May at the social media course. Promoting ourselves doesn’t come easily to either of us, so having a “partner in crime” is a comfort. It’s always good to have back-up!
December: Christmas, witches, audio and more plans.
December saw the publication of Belle, Book and Christmas Candle. This was a new departure for me as it was my first venture into witch lit. Although I’ve read a few “witchy” novels in the past, and have always had an interest in this type of fiction, I’d never thought about writing a book in the genre, until a visit to Knaresborough a few years ago sowed a seed in my imagination. I’ve had to wait a good long while to write it as I was so busy with my other books, but when I had a short gap after Bramblewick 4, I decided to take the plunge. The result is this book and I have to admit, I really loved writing it. So much so that there will now be a series of them instead of just one. I seem to make a habit of this …
I’m also delighted to announce that both Resisting Mr Rochester and There Must Be an Angel will be available as audio books early next year and are already available for pre-order here and here. The audio rights were sold to W F Howes and I’ve heard a snippet from both books narrated by Larner Wallace-Taylor. It’s very strange to hear your words read out by someone else, and quite uncomfortable, too. I’m not sure I’ll be able to listen to them but I really hope you will! The audio books market is a growing one, and I’m looking into getting other books into that format, too.
Throughout the course of the year, I was very privileged to have guests sharing their Five Photos with me on this blog. This feature proved surprisingly popular, and I was touched that so many writers and bloggers were willing to show me their precious pictures and tell me about the stories and memories that went with them. After running the feature for over a year, though, it felt as if the idea had run its course and so I ended it in December. Anyone wishing to look at past posts (and they really are wonderful!) can find the links here.
Moving forward into 2019 I’ll be working on getting my Kearton Bay books back into paperback. My Bramblewick series is already available in paperback as large print thanks to Ulverscroft’s Linford Romance Library, but I’m hoping to publish them in ordinary paperback, too. Perhaps as two-in-one editions as they’re a bit shorter than my other books. I also plan to “bundle” all the books in each of my series together as collections for Kindle at some point.
Writing wise, I’m ploughing on with the Witches of Castle Clair series, plus I have the fourth and final Kearton Bay book to write and the last two Bramblewick novels. I also have an idea for a completely different book. Or two. Or three. Let’s face it, I’m never going to write all the books I want to write in a year, but at least I’ve got plenty to keep me going!
So there you have it!
That’s my look back at 2018. I’d like to thank each and every one of you for reading this post, for buying my books, for following me on social media. However you support me, it’s greatly appreciated.