It’s that time of year for making resolutions and looking back at achievements and in general I’m not in favour of doing either. Resolutions are all too easily broken, mostly because the ones you chose are too ambitious and unachievable, as for looking back, perhaps this is one of my greatest weaknesses because once I’ve done something I tend to forget about it and get on with the next project.
While laudable this means that on those dark dismal days when I slip into the despond of wondering whether anyone ever reads my books, or despair about the lack of reviews, or my own inability to manipulate social media successfully, I have nothing tangible to tell me that actually things are not as bad as they seem.
So: a look back at 2019.
This was a year that began with flu and ended with a horrible hacking cough, which cut short the amount of time I could spend writing, editing and marketing. Also we moved my mum into sheltered accommodation and supported her through her cataract operation both of which meant a lot of travelling to and from Bristol. On the plus side, I had time to spend with her and Lucy, Jay and the grandkids, the flat is brilliant and she’s much happier there and now she can see so much better and has a new hearing aid life is looking up.
On a personal level then, lots of good things.
As for writing. First there was the publication of “Bridge of Lies” the second of the adventures of Letty Parker. I love writing about Letty, her associates and her world of an alternative Bristol. I’ve had good feedback too and book three, “Island of Fear” is well on the way to being ready for 2020.
I also finished collating and editing Mum’s memoir “We Were Lucky.” This was a long project which spanned a couple of years and not the six months I thought it would take. Although it was aimed mainly for the family, it’s been heartening to see how many other people have bought and enjoyed reading Mum’s account of her childhood in a part of Poland which no longer exists, her experiences during WW2 and how she had to adjust to being an immigrant in post war Britain. For me it has truly been a labour of love and one which has deepened my understanding, respect and love for both my parents.
Peter Coleborn and Jan Edwards of Penkull Press did a great job of helping me put it all together and I can highly recommend their expertise to anyone embarking on a memoir.
I would also say that if this is something you are considering doing, don’t leave it too late. Although Mum’s mind is sharp as a pin, I’m sure there would have been more if we’d had more time to talk and shift through photographs.
Another surprising achievement was taking part in the Stoke-on-Trent Libraries and The Writing Kiln Potteries Prize for Flash Fiction and being Highly Commended for my story “Brief Encounter.” Given that flash fiction is not something I write, I was more than delighted and it’s spurred me on to write more.
As well as writing, I was invited to do a workshop at Moorside High School for World Book Day. Thanks Kate Lindsey. It’s a while since I’ve worked with secondary school pupils and the groups I had were delightful. I based the workshops on “City of Secrets” the first of the adventures of Letty Parker and worked on the theme of secrets, good and bad, positive and malign. It was a thoroughly enjoyable morning and I’d love to do more work in schools in 2020.
6×6 the Reading Café that Jan and I run in Hanley Library has also gone from strength to strength. We had our usual four sessions and as well as our regulars we attracted a number of very talented writers who submitted for the first time. The Reading Café is always a great evening and we hope that whatever lies in store for the library we’ll be able to go one doing it for as long as there is a demand from writers who want to showcase their work and readers who want to come and listen to it.
I also ran a workshop for Renegade Writers on how to perform your work. Increasingly this is part of a writer’s remit and most of us don’t have the skills. A two hour tutorial at one of our meetings proved very useful and it was good to see people putting in practice what they had learned at our annual “Ghosts at the Gladstone.” This afternoon of ghost stories at the Gladstone Pottery Museum was one of our best and we’ll be back again with spine tingling chillers next year.
Much of the year was taken up with “Belvedere Crescent” my new time slip novel due out in February 2020. It’s a book I’ve wanted to write for a long time and it’s taken a lot of hard work to get it right. Thanks again to Jan Edwards for rigorous and no-holds-barred editing, which was just what the ms needed.
As a taster, here’s the blurb: Abandoned as babies, twins Sadie and Thea have been brought up by Great-Aunt Jane and when she dies, they inherit her house in Belvedere Crescent. They plan to sell the only home they have ever known, but the house and its past will not let Thea go.
Haunted by the woman with the red-hair she is drawn into half understood secrets and the more she probes the greater the danger.
As everything fractures around her, she slips back in time where she finds herself alone and fighting for her very existence.
To save herself she must come to terms with her family history and let go of the person she loves most in world.
A novel about losing what you most love to find yourself and the bond between sisters that not even time or tragedy can break.
And this is where I’m going to end. Plans for 2020 to follow.