I started this blog post on Dec 29, with the intention of updating before the end of the year, but then time got away from me, and now it's January 2! lol Better late than never though, right?
I started blogging again in June with the aim of updating once a month, and I'm thrilled to have kept to that. Six update might not seem that much to some people, but with family life, work, writing and everything else going on, to me it's a good achievement.
Good achievements are actually what I want to focus on in this post, and as I go into the New Year.
So, let's dive in...
Achievements and Goals: Writing
I don't believe in doing New Year's Resolutions. I have things I want to achieve this year, which I will try my hardest to do, but I also know shit happens, and setting resolutions leads to a sense of failure if you can't meet them. You should just ALWAYS try to be a better person.
Before I get to my 2018 goals, though, here are the things I achieved in 2017 that I'm proud of.
I published All It Takes. Publishing a book is something I often wondered would it ever happen. I have about four shelved novels, and countless undeveloped ideas stored away on my hard-drive. Every time I put a project aside, I worried I'd never write something and see it through to publication. Then I decided to stop worrying about publishing. I wrote and serialised All It Takes in 2016 simply for the fun of it, not even expecting people to read it. People did read it, and loved it. So once the serialisation was complete, I revised and edited it, and then officially published it via Snowy Wings Publishing in Feb 2017. It sold well, and on the whole has received positive feedback. I just did a free sale for the holidays, and it got 350 downloads, leading it to rank at number 25 for Teen & Young-Adult books on the Kindle store. This is more than I ever expected or hoped for when I began writing original fiction back in 2010, and I couldn't be happier or more proud of myself. Thank you to everyone who has supported me along the way.
I wrote and published I Want You To Want Me. Back in April I took part in a charity anthology in aid of Cluster Headaches. I wrote an LGBT romance short-story about a young woman who realises she's bisexual when she starts having feelings for her housemate. When we got the rights back to the short-stories towards the end of September, I decided to publish it on Amazon, Wattpad, FictionPress and Smashwords for free (stupid Amazon STILL hasn't lowered the price) and to my surprise, without much promotion, it's selling well. I've only gotten a couple of reviews, but they're positive, so that's enough for me. Publishing an LGBT story also led me to being publicly open about my sexuality. Me coming out as bisexual in a monogamous relationship with a man was received well by my friends and family. "Coming out" wasn't really something I planned, but it's great that I can be one-hundred percent my true self without having to worry. Many people in the LGBT community aren't that lucky, and I realise how privileged I am.
I started to serialise and completed writing Every Moment With You. In November 2016 I started an age-gap romance, which I continued to write in 2017 and then in June 2017 I began serialising it on Wattpad and FictionPress. While not as successful as All It Takes, Every Moment With You has still been received well, with regular readers, and at the point of writing this, I have posted 21 out of the 32 chapters. During NaNoNoWriMo 17, I completed EMWY and my goal now is to complete the serialisation of it, before publishing it as a complete novel on Amazon.
I began co-writing a novel with Kyra Lennon. Co-writing a novel is something Kyra and I have talked about doing for years, but for one reason or another it never happened. Until November. At the end of October, Kyra came up to visit me, and we saw Fozzy together. The following day, knowing NaNoWriMo was right around the corner, we sat down and planned a novel together, with the aim of writing at least 50k of it in November. The plan worked brilliantly. Being accountable to someone else kept us both writing, and we've already written 58k words. We took a break in December, as we were both burnt-out from NanoWriMo, but we aim to get back to it in January. Kyra is coming up to visit again in March, and our aim is to complete the first draft by then, so we can discuss revisions etc. in person when she visits.
I wrote a short-story for the Snowy Wings Fairy Tale Anthology. This is something that happened that wasn't planned for earlier on in the year. Around summertime SWP announced they were doing a YA fairy tale retelling anthology, and I signed up to write a retelling of The Nutcracker Prince. I used my non-co-writing days during NaNoWriMo to work on this, and I have almost completed it (about 2k left to write). I plan on completing it and then revising it in the New Year, ready for the March 31 deadline.
Looking back on everything now, it's inspiring to see what I achieved, and any projects I had plans for earlier on in the year, but that got pushed to the back-burner as time went on, don't matter any more. Now I'm looking forward to 2018 and the things I want to do.
Goals for 2018.
Complete co-written novel with Kyra Lennon. As I mentioned above, we want to have the first draft done by March. I think we'll do it. Being accountable to someone else is a great motivational tool, so I'm sure once we get back into it in January, we'll be writing out butts off, so as to not let the other person down.
Complete, revise and submit SWP story. This is another one with a deadline. As I mentioned above, I only have about 2k left to write, and as this is for an anthology, and not just something for myself, I will push myself to complete it, so I don't let others down.
Finish Serialising and Publish Every Moment With You. I've been a little slack updating EMWY because of NaNoWriMo, the holidays and my editor (Hubby) being busy with work. But in the New Year I plan on updating again every week, with the aim to complete serialising the story by the end of March (lol why are all my deadlines March?!). I will then revise the complete story, and send it to be professionally edited, before publishing it on Amazon, hopefully around summertime.
Begin work on new project. I don't want to go into too much detail on this one, as I'm afraid of jinxing things, but I have a new project I'm dying to get to work on in the New Year, and my aim is by the end of 2018 to have it either ready to self-publish or ready to query, depending on what route I decide to take. I'll keep you posted on how I go with that.
Achievements and Goals: Personal
There are also things I'm proud of achieving in 2017 that aren't writing related, and things I want to work towards in 2018.
Weight Loss. In January 2017 I started the ketogenic diet, and after 12 months I've lost around 30 pounds. Admittedly it could have been more. I didn't diet for the week we were on holiday in the summer, and since then I have been getting more and more relaxed with what I do and don't eat, especially over the holiday period. But I'm proud of the weight I have lost, and also the lifestyle adjustments I've made. I've discovered, on the whole, I can live a happy, fulfilled life without carbs and sugar.
In the New Year, I plan on going back onto the ketogenic diet and being strict about it, so no more visits to Starbucks etc. I also want to take up jogging, and Hubby and I have plans to start running on mornings after dropping Youngest at school. Eventually, I'd love to be able to take part in one of those 5k charity races.
I know circumstances chance etc. but by the end of 2018, I hope to lose another 30 pounds, and be able to jog 5k. I'll keep you updated on my progress.
Work. 2017 saw me remain with CQ as we went through many staff and procedure changes. Some aspects of working there have gotten easier, some have become more challenging. But I'm proud to be able to say that not only have I been in steady employment for almost five years (before then I was unemployed while raising the boys, and before having kids, I drifted from job to job, and changed collage courses every few months.)
I'm also proud of the fact I'm one of the longest remaining and dependable members of the team. Authors know that I'm available Mon-Fri, 9am - 9pm, and I'll do my best to answer their questions, resolve their problems, or contact the team member who can.
But that said, I am thinking about new challenges and the possibility of moving on. I wonder if I want to move away from book marketing/PR and find more writing-related work, either in the form of article writing, ghost writing, or other creative writing opportunities.
I plan on updating and sending out my resume in the New Year, so we'll see what comes of it.
Spirituality. 2017 was the year I got more in touch with my spirituality, and I started reading about witchcraft and Wicca, and practising witchcraft a little. I'm not sure I'd quite call myself a witch yet, but I've identified with my spirituality more in 2017 than I have previously, and in 2018 I hope to learn and grow more.
Podcasting. In 2017 I started co-hosting the I Literary Can't Even podcast with Kyra Lennon and Paula Grabow. We're currently on hiatus due to the holidays, and unsure of when to start back up, as both Kyra and I are busy with writing and work, plus technical issues have effected out last two episodes, meaning we've had to pull them, which is pretty disheartening after spending time recording. I'm not sure where we're going from here, but no matter what happens, I know I want to continue doing something, be it the ILCE podcast, YouTube videos, or something similar. It's something I've been interested in for some time, and hosting ILCE in 2017 has shown me I can do it!
Christmas and New Year's
Despite some hiccups (our oven breaking on Christmas Eve and costing £160 to be repaired), Christmas and New Year's was great. We all received lots of gifts we loved, and spent quality time together as a family. We event went to see Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Me, Hubby and Oldest loved it, and though it was a great continuation of the series. Youngest seemed more interested in the reclining chairs! lol Though he did fall in love with the Porgs, and we got him a Porg stuffed toy for Christmas.
I also visited my sister in her new house, which was great, as we hadn't seen each other since her wedding in May! It's a shame we live so far apart, especially as she's wanting to have children soon - I want to be there to cuddle my niece/ nephew!
We visited Mum's a few days after Christmas, and it was lovely to have a meal with her and my step-dad, who is still recovering from hip surgery in late September.
The holiday break, while all our favourite TV shows are on hiatus, also allowed Hubby and I to binge-watch The Punisher and Stranger Things season two on Netflix. Both were terrific, and I think Punisher now ties with Luke Cage as my favourite Marvel/ Netflix TV series (also, I think I'm slightly in love with Ben Barnes! lol).
New Year's Eve was spent pigging out on carbs and sugar before getting back to the keto diet the following day. Dear God, ASDA's New York style cheesecake is divine. I also learned, I don't really care for getting drunk anymore. It's nice to have a couple of drinks, but after a while it just sort of made me tired. By half-ten, we'd stopped drinking, and settled down with a mug of (decafe) coffee to watch another episode of Stranger Things.
And Now it's January...
So, a new year is here, and I'm trying to get back into the swing of things after taking it easy during the holidays. With the exception of spending an hour playing Minecraft with the family earlier, I have actually been pretty productive today. I imagine that will get easier when the boys go back to school - tomorrow for Youngest, and Thursday for Oldest.
Hopefully when I update towards the end of this month/ early next month, I will have lots of good progress on various things to talk about.
Thoughts, feelings and random updates from romance author Clare Dugmore.