- I completely overhauled my website, streamlining it, simplifying it, and making the landing page much more user-friendly. I’ve combined my website writer’s diary with my writer’s blog – they are now one and the same. I use the diary to draw people to my website, but if anyone wants to follow me, there is a link to my Wordpress blog (there is no way to follow my diary/blog on my website) so they are now properly joined.
- I created a brand. All I did was take a picture I really like that I thought would represent me and my writing and have used it everywhere: my website, my blog, my email signature, my business card (oh, yes, I designed a business card too!).
- I wrote the first draft of the second novel in my new fantasy series. This was probably the most fun piece of writing I’ve done all year, something I really enjoyed.
- I tackled an Exodus Sequence novella at the start of the year which had run aground a year before. The end result was hugely satisfying and I published it as a standalone novella. It will be the first Exodus Sequence story in a propose second volume. The novella is called SHATTERED.
- I tackled another Exodus Sequence short story which began very strongly and then died a sudden death. With much effort and exertion, I finally completed it and was really happy with it. This short story is called SHOT (it underwent several title changes) and has not yet been published.
- By far the most gruelling task I did this year was completely overhaul all my novels and short stories. Every single item I have published (many on three different platforms) were edited to death. I decided to do this when I discovered that Google Docs does a brilliant grammar check. Every novel, novella and short story was checked. Twice. Because I also discovered that MS Word 2016, or whatever it is I’ve got now, is vastly improved. It managed to uncover mistakes that Google didn’t. Between the two, I ended up with fantastically well-polished works. I also standardised the way they look: they all have the same end-pages, fonts etc etc, as well as double-checked links in the ebooks to my website, social media, the next in the series, and so on. This was tremendously time-consuming but hugely worth it.
- Once all this was done, I then had to republish everything. Hit a sticky note on Amazon KDP as I had shortened the title of my short story collection. This constituted a title change which meant unpublishing the paperback, then republishing it. But it was worth it. The Exodus Sequence: a collection of connected science fiction novelettes was changed to The Exodus Sequence: a collection of connected short stories.
- Nearly all the new editions had new covers too. I had a terrible moment when KDP “lost” the original cover to one of my short stories. Fortunately, they managed to retrieve the file. The problem came with the fact that KDP Cover Creator no longer has one of the main fonts I used on the short story collection. I wasted a lot of time trying to work out what to do, but finally stuck with the old design but changed all the images (except for the one that had to be retrieved) and the colouring. I found almost all the images on Pexels and made sure I thanked the photographer in every single book (this is just polite). The covers for the short stories are now vastly improved. Had another bad moment when an old cover was not accepted for the new edition of one of my Fleet novels. I couldn’t redo the cover as it had been made on Createspace, which no longer exists. I then realised that all I had to do was decrease the font in the book and then the old cover would fit. Had to fight with Amazon to get that cover back though, as it had by then been “deleted”. I convinced them they still had a file (after all, it was still available on the Amazon website!) and they finally reset it for me. God, I have REALLY battled with The Big Amazon this year. And won!
- But even more exciting on the cover adventure is that I bought new covers for major works. This cost me a wee bit but I had budgeted for it. SHATTERED got a pre-made cover from The Cover Collection. I looked at a LOT of covers and websites and in the end liked their rich colours the best. THE EXODUS SEQUENCE also got a pre-made cover. My first ever published novel, A DOORWAY INTO ULTRA, got its own commissioned cover. I had a very long, hard look at covers, researching the genre, deciding what to go for, what image, the colouring, the font – EVERYTHING – before contacting The Cover Collection. The final cover was more fantastic than I could ever have dreamed of and I was utterly thrilled. So it’s been really worth it.
- Other things I’ve done this year is re-invent myself on Instagram (apparently this is the place to go these days now that Facebook is a dead duck). I approached about a million agents for my fantasy novel (first in the series). I had a short story published (unpaid) in a digital magazine. I made notes for several new short stories. I posted many blog entries.
- I also offered one of my Exodus Sequence short stories free, SPOOKED, and it “sold” almost 1500 copies. Astounding! I’m sure it’s because of the fantastic new cover!! I really hope I get a few good reviews out of it…..
- And then, at the end of the year, I decided to write a brand-new story, which would be the third of the short stories connected to my fantasy series. Turned out to be quite a challenge but the story itself was worth telling and I slaved over it until the day before Christmas, when, at last, I managed to finish that nth draft. It still needs work but the hardest part is done: it’s actually WRITTEN.
And that is the life of a writer. Is it any wonder, then, that a week before Christmas I contracted the most horrible, virulent flu, scared my daughter (home from uni) half to death by collapsing in the middle of the night, and then being unable to sleep properly for 10 days?! Frankly, I’m ending this year feeling more than exhausted, yet looking forward to more challenges in the new year!
If I ever, ever, feel guilty that being a writer is just “sitting around not doing much”, I’m going to reread this blog. Because, shit, it was quite a busy year, wasn’t it?