I began the year with a trip to a yoga retreat in Alicante. It sounds blissful (and it was) but it was actually just a thinly disguised research jaunt for the book that I was about to start, THE LAST PIECE, which will be published in July 2020. The fictitious retreat in the book is actually in Kefalonia not Spain so I had to use my imagination a bit but it wasn’t too much of a challenge.
Also in January I did a course learning how to read Tarot cards (more research.) It was absolutely fascinating but in the end I decided that this wasn’t quite right for my character and so I didn’t use my newly-found knowledge. Maybe next time . . .
Also this month I completed the proof read for WHERE THE STORY STARTS which was due to be published in June.
By February I was well into writing THE LAST PIECE and was throughly enjoying myself. I was also thinking ahead though and came up with rough ideas for three new books. My translator finished the German translation of POSTCARDS FROM A STRANGER this month too and I also reached 100,000 sales which was a fabulous milestone and resulted in bubbles being imbibed.
THE THING ABOUT CLARE, which had come out the month before, was still getting lots of PR and I was thrilled to find this piece on the magazine shelves.
March is all about London Book Fair and I spent a few days there attending events and parties and generally having a lovely time. Having visited the year before when I didn’t know a soul, it felt considerably easier second time around and I caught up with lots of fellow authors that I’d met online – so much nicer to actually meet face to face! Plus, my books were on the Amazon Publishing stand at Olympia – this was very cool!
Whilst I was in London I had a wander up to Finsbury Park to do some location hunting for a scene in the new book. I lived there for a while as a student in the 1980s and was slightly disconcerted by how little I remembered of the place when I had thought I knew my way around.
At the end of the month I typed ‘The End’ on THE LAST PIECE and I sent it off to my editor Victoria at my publishers for her verdict. I then waited nervously for her feedback.
In April I took a couple of weeks off from writing and went on a trip to do some walking in Majorca. I have never visited the island in springtime before and was completely blown away by the extraordinary beauty and zinging colours of the flowers, oranges and lemons. It was the perfect tonic to three months of hard writing.
When I got back from Majorca I cracked on with my novella POSTCARDS AT CHRISTMAS and my books hit the Top 100 of the kindle chart in the US for the first time. Also, POSTCARDS FROM A STRANGER reached 100,000 sales which was marked by my publisher sending me a lovely commemorative framed copy as a gift.
In May, having completed two books already this year, I took some time off writing and focused instead on the business side of being an author. I worked on my website and on promotions for WHERE THE STORY STARTS which was due to launch in June.
This month my second daughter was 21 and so we had lots of family celebrations. I also took a trip to Kew Gardens to meet a friend. It was the wettest day imaginable ( after weeks of glorious sunshine) but we had a lovely time, weather notwithstanding. Here I am, about to be eaten by a gigantic glass monster. I also went to Chelsea Flower Show. I’m no gardener but I love to dream!
June saw the launch of WHERE THE STORY STARTS. I marked the occasion with a lovely party for family and friends in a bar in Ilkley. The very clever lady at Popalicious Cakepops made these cake pops for me. Just look at the tiny little book covers!
Also In June I had fabulous news. My editor loved both the manuscripts that I had submitted and as a result my publishers Lake Union offered me a four book deal. They are so inspiring to work with and I was thrilled to get the chance to continue producing books with them for a few more years.
I also did the editing of POSTCARDS AT CHRISTMAS this month and started writing a secret project just for fun. I didn’t get very far with it because my Lake Union work interrupted me but the idea is still buzzing around in my head. I plan to get back to it when time allows.
On the 9th my first book in German WENN DEINE ZEILEN MICH BERÜHREN was published. By the 16th it was number 1 in the German kindle charts and it stayed there for 29 days. It was also the top of the BILD.de bestseller’s list for two weeks.
An unexpected treat this month was this lovely cup and saucer that arrived to mark THE THING ABOUT CLARE reaching 50,000 sales.
This month I started writing the next book under my contract (working title of MISS MOUNTCASTLE’S DIARY until I come up with something better!) I started off feeling my way a little but by the time I got to the end of the month I was well under way with it and enjoying myself very much.
Also in August my translator began her work on the German version of THE THING ABOUT CLARE and I took a holiday with my family where I continued to write but also made a serious dent in my To Be Read pile.
In September I went to Southwold in Suffolk as it’s the setting of the MOUNTCASTLE book. It really is a beautiful town, especially out of season, and I always love being by the sea. I managed to find all the locations that I needed and took plenty of photos so that I didn’t forget anything. This terrace just perfect for Miss Mountcastle’s house. It wasn’t quite where I had imagined her to live so a little bit of judicious rewriting followed but I think the house I chose is just right.
Also this month WHERE THE STORY STARTS reached 50,000 sales less than three months after it was published and it also hit number 1 in the UK kindle store, making it a three out of three track record for my books. Needless to say, I was delighted! The German translation also hit 50,000 sales this month too.
This month my sequel novella POSTCARDS AT CHRISTMAS was published in ebook with the audiobook version following in November. I also finished the first draft of the MOUNTCASTLE book and sent it to my editor for her comments.
Then I went on a trip to Dublin which was my first visit to Ireland.The highlight of my trip was the Book of Kells and was completely transfixed by it. So old and so very, very beautiful.
In November I was mainly editing THE LAST PIECE but I also started making plans for the next book which I hope to start writing in February 2020. Having had just the merest glimmer of an idea, I began to flesh out the characters which makes it all feel a little less daunting, although there is still a long way to go before I can put fingers to keyboard.
Also this month WHERE THE STORY STARTS hit 100,000 sales and I finally managed to get my website looking something like I wanted and so was able to start blogging again. I love my blog, especially as that’s where my writing started back in 2008. There are posts going all the way back to the beginning still on the site if you want to investigate.
Finally, I went to London to see an exhibition of William Blake’s illustrations which were both beautiful and also a little disturbing.
This month I got some feedback from my editor on the first draft of MOUNTCASTLE and so I have a few tweeks to make before I deliver it to the publisher at the end of January. Then I will start on the next one, working title, THE GANG OF FOUR.
I also received the cover for the German version of THE THING ABOUT CLARE which will be published next April. It’s so interesting how the publishers position the books for the various markets. This cover couldn’t be more different from its English equivalent.
And finally, as I type this a few days before Christmas I have just sold my 400,000th book. You won’t be surprised to hear that I have to pinch myself . . . often!
2019 in a nutshell
So, there you have it – my 2019 as a writer. Obviously lots of other things happened too. I have travelled a lot, my family has been involved in two very successful stage shows, my eldest graduated, got her dream job and moved to London and we also had a fabulous set of GCSE results to celebrate too.
I have read 85 books, (so far – there’s still a week or so to go) have been to the cinema 32 times and the theatre too. I have written around a quarter of a million words. I have laughed and cried and been excited and anxious and basically run the whole gamut of human emotions just like everyone els – lots of it in public on my various social media channels! If you’re interested in my news as it happens instead of in a huge pile like this then you can sign up for MY NEWSLETTER by filling in the box on the right of this page and you’ll get it in monthly chunks! Also, have a look for me on Facebook and Instagram using the links below.
when i sat down . . .
this time last year to write my goals for the coming year, I had no idea what was waiting for me. It’s been such an exciting twelve months and I don’t think I’ve stopped smiling for more than ten minutes all year. And I want to say THANK YOU to you for sticking with me, for buying, reading and reviewing my books and for listening to me fizz with excitement without rolling your eyes too much.
And now I’ll wish you a very happy 2020. I hope that it brings you all you could wish for.