My 2023 Goals

It’s New Years Eve and a fresh new year is almost upon us so that means its time for me to set my goals for the year ahead. I’ve been doing this for a while now – setting my goals and then checking them against the reality at the end of the year. In 2022 I did really well, surprising myself by achieving 9 and of 10 goals and writing way more than I had planned to. 2022 seemed to be the year I let myself write multiple first draft manuscripts so that must mean 2023 will be the year I polish them all up one by one. That is exciting but won’t leave much time for fresh new writing! Anyway, here they are. Everything I hope to achieve in 2023.

  1. Start releasing The Day The Earth Turned series – As I plan to release each book with the season it occurs in, the first book Summer will be released in May or June 2023. Apart from one final read through, all four books are totally ready to go and have been edited and proofread and sent out to beta readers. I am currently waiting for covers from my designer and one of the first things I need to do in the New Year is plan my launch for this series. I really want to put the effort in and I plan to spend some money on advertising, set up ARC’s and put together a blog tour for book one. Let’s see what happens!
  2. Finish At Night They Played In The Road (working title, I still can’t quite decide) and send to editor – I think this is achievable. This is the book I am currently working on as it occurs next in The Boy With The Thorn In His Side universe. In 2022 I wrote the rough first draft of this spin-off book, where two characters I introduced in book 5 of The Boy series, got their own book. Writing this was a long slog as it currently stands at over 170,000 words but I enjoyed it immensely. So much, that by the time I got to the end I had another idea for another book set in this universe. Instead of starting the second draft of the spin-off, I couldn’t resist jumping straight into the new book idea, which was essentially a crossover book, using characters from several of my novels. It only took six weeks to write and was totally addictive! That then set me off on another tangent as Leon from The Mess Of Me appears in this crossover book, so I needed to finally finish The Mess Of Us in order to set up his part in the crossover book. Sorry if this is confusing! Anyway, as I have already said, 2022 was the year I wrote four books in first draft so 2023 is the year I have to get them all scrubbed up to release! I am nearly at the end of the second draft already, which has really been more of a read through to remind myself of what I’ve done. Draft three will commence immediately after and will involve more serious editing, revising and cutting the word count down! I am not sure this book will get released in 2023 but I at least plan to get it finished and sent to my editor!
  3. Publish Days End, the third book in the Fortune’s Well trilogy – Sim Sansford and I have already released the first two books in this mysterious YA trilogy (Hangman’s Revenge and Project Pandora) Book three has a cover and is pretty much ready to go. It is with our editor at the moment so at some point soon we will have her edits and feedback to work through and then we can plan a release!
  4. Keep adding to my new short story and poetry collection – It doesn’t have a name yet, but after publishing The Old Friend in 2022, I carried on writing poems and little bits of flash fiction and short stories, mainly in response to my monthly request for writing prompts on my Facebook page! I don’t think this will be ready for release for another year or so but I will just keep adding little bits to it when they come to me. I think this will be really good for me in 2023 as I won’t get much chance to write anything new with all the second drafts I have to dive into!
  5. Launch Chasing Driftwood Books – in 2021 the community interest company (Chasing Driftwood Writing Group) I run with Sim released an anthology called Stay Home – A Year of Writing Through Lockdown. A multitude of talented writers and bloggers, including people who attend our writing clubs and workshops contributed to the collection. We published the book under Chasing Driftwood Books and we also published the first two books in our co-written trilogy under the same name. Towards the end of 2022 we had a meeting where we laid out our plans for this company. Essentially, we plan to create an indie collective of like-minded authors of various genres. There are four of us so far but in 2023 we hope to launch it fully and encourage more to join. As indies, we have struggled to get sales and reviews and we know from talking to others that we are not alone. If we join up and help each other, we can achieve more. Our aim is to set up an indie publishing collective with a website, newsletter and social media pages, all aimed at lifting ourselves and our fellow authors up. I’ll obviously explain this in better detail when we are ready to go!
  6. Keep improving my vegetable plot and self-sufficiency in general – Always on the list because a garden is a project that will never be done! At the moment, my vegetable plot is a in a right state, covered in weeds and leaves and saturated with rainwater, but there is still plenty growing there! I can’t wait for warmer days to get out there and clean it up and get planting again. I need a new greenhouse or two and for Christmas I got plenty more seeds to plant. It keeps me going. I can’t express enough how soothing and therapeutic gardening in. It makes me so happy.
  7. Keep Up with dog training – I’ve never put this on my list before because training my dogs can be a bit sporadic over the year. Obviously I do a lot of training when they are puppies and teenagers and then when they’re a pretty good dog I tend to let it slip. At the moment, Ada is coming up 5 months and has completed a Life Skills course. She is so smart and picks things up so quickly, that I’ve built training into our daily routine on walks and at home. It’s so much fun and really improves the bond between us. Jesse enjoys scentwork and tracking and hoopers but I haven’t booked him into anything for a while, though we do bits and bobs at home to get him thinking. Tinks is a bit old and tired for it all but sometimes she joins in so I let her! I love my dogs so much. They make me so happy and the happier they are the happier I am.
  8. Get fitter and stronger – Last year I started getting into Pilates again after a very long break. I just follow some videos on YouTube and try to fit it in three times a week. This doesn’t always happen and life being what it is, I sometimes fall out of the habit and let a few weeks pass by before getting back into it again. So, this year I hope to keep trying to get fitter and stronger. I want my body to be strong as possible I head into middle-age.

Well that’s it because I can’t think of any more, which is probably a good thing! I’ll check back on these a year from now and see how I did! Are you setting any goals for 2023? Or just taking it as it comes? Please feel free to comment! And have a happy new year!!

My 2022 Goals Vs The Reality

It’s that time of year again!! It’s time to look back on the goals I set for myself in 2022 and see how well I did. Every year in January I write down a list of goals for the year ahead and every year in December I reflect back and see how many I achieved. So, here goes!

Goal 1: Publish my new short story and poetry collection: The Old Friend.

Achieved: This was an easy one to achieve, to be fair, as the book was all ready to go. After a final edit/proofread, it was released in April!

Goal 2: Do a rewrite of The Day The Earth Turned Series. All four books are finished and at the same fourth draft stage. I am now going back to the start to rewrite them all, one by one.

Achieved: I had to go back over each one, adding new bits, developing characters a bit more and so on. I made this my priority in 2022 and since then they have all been edited and proofread. At the moment, they are awaiting book covers and I need to plan the launch of book one.

Goal 3: Finalise book one of the Fortune’s Well series I’ve co-written with Sim Sansford. By finalise I mean finish our final edits, send to the proofreader, contact designer for a front cover, make the final, final edits and plan a launch.

Achieved: Not only did we finish and release book one, Hangman’s Revenge, but we finished and released book two, Project Pandora as well! We plan to release book three in the New Year!

Goal 4: Continue to write chapters for the spin-off book to The Boy With The Thorn In His Side series. The spin-off idea arrived a few years back and a year ago I couldn’t resist making notes for it, which soon evolved into chapters. I wrote these up a few months ago and continued writing up to chapter 22. I have to prioritise The Day The earth Turned and the Fortune’s Well series this year as they are both finished and ready to polish up and publish, but I always need to be writing something fresh and new too so this is the one I will work on when I can. It has a working title of At Night They Played In The Road.

Achieved: I finished the first draft of this book in 2022! So, I actually did more than I thought I would. I will be starting the second draft very soon, once I have finished the universe timeline for all my connected books.

Goal 5: Continue to add to all my other book ideas. I need to add my zombie apocalypse idea to my upcoming books page. I have almost filled a notepad with longhand entries to this diary style book but I haven’t written any in a few weeks now. I will continue to carry it around and add to it when I feel the urge. There are two other writing projects I need to add to the upcoming books page. One is another YA series, this time with a supernatural theme and one is an adult family mystery. It will be many years before I get to either but I must continue to make notes when I get ideas!

Achieved: Wow, again, I did more than I set myself. I have written a bit more of the zombie book but it’s resting at the moment. The family mystery has really grown and now has its own ideas book full of character bios and plot ideas. I won’t start writing it for some time but I add to the book whenever anything pops into my head. And as for the YA supernatural series, I wrote it! This was all thanks to a long power cut and WiFi disconnection that meant I couldn’t use my laptop, so to keep busy I started writing Black Hare Valley, a book I had lots of notes and plans for. I got so addicted I filled five notepads and finished it in longhand! I won’t write it up into the second draft for a while but I still can’t believe I wrote it and got it out of my head!

Goal 6: Be more active. During the lockdowns I was very active in my garden and just in general but whenever things went back to normal I fell back into the trap of being tired from work and not keeping up outdoor activities. I really want to get stronger and fitter again in 2022 so I aim to be outside as much as I can.

Achieved: I took up pilates in 2022 and though I don’t get as much time as I’d like to do it, I am pleased with what I have managed to fit in. My vegetable patch did really well and kept me busy outdoors too so I do feel stronger and fitter!

Goal 7: Do better in the veg plot. I didn’t do too badly last year but every year I hope to improve so this has to go on the list again. I got a voucher for Xmas from my sister for plant plugs and have ordered a lovely selection to start me off on the right track. My mother-in-law also bought me a huge bag of vegetable and herb seeds, as well as wooden labels, bee bombs and bird food. I am so excited and can’t wait to get stuck into gardening again!

Achieved: Though not without its failures, I am overall very happy with my plot this year. For one thing. I have kept it going through autumn and winter! I’ve still got leeks, kale and brassicas growing out there and I’ve planted my garlic and onions. I even grew a few small cauliflowers for the first time ever!

Goal 8: Launch a second community writing project with Chasing Driftwood Writing Group. In 2021 we finally released our first anthology – Stay Home: A Year of Writing Through Lockdown. The anthology is a mixture of personal essays, short stories and poetry on the lockdown experience. Sales have been good and are helping to fund our next project – The World You Gave Us. We hope to collect essays, short stories and poetry from young writers only this time and eventually publish another anthology.

Achieved: To some extent! The book is on the go but has been neglected lately. We really need to focus on this next year but we did launch it, so goal achieved to a certain extent!

Goal 9: Get better at marketing my books. Haha, this one is always up there! I will endeavour to try harder though! I have been getting better at blogging regularly and posting on social media. It’s my newsletter I need to get more consistent with and getting reviews!

Failed: Yeah, I can’t lie. Not much has changed. The blogs have continued to be pretty regular and I’ve done well with the quotes and graphics and general sharing on social media but I haven’t posted a newsletter in over a year now!! My sales have remained the same and reviews are painstakingly slow to gather. But I do have more solid plans for 2023!

Goal 10: Be happy, don’t worry! I intend to be as happy as I can be. I aim to strive to always see the positive. I will try as hard as I can to leave the world better than I found it, be aware and informed, but not allow myself to become drenched in cynicism or dragged down by useless worrying. I must remind myself daily that I only have one short life and it’s up to me what I do with it. I must remind myself that worrying never achieves anything, that most people are good and the world is worth saving. I will continue to do whatever I can to give back to nature and do whatever I can to keep a smile on my face.

Achieved: I’d say that overall my 2022 has been a happy one. The world has continued to go to shit but in my own little world, all is well. I now have two daughters doing very well at university, a son doing well in his GCSE year and another son just being his own adorable funny self. We’re all healthy. My writing clubs are all full and I am earning more than ever which does fill me with pride.

Wow, I can’t believe I achieved 9 out of 10! I definitely wrote more books than I ever imagined this year. As well as writing the first draft of At Night We Played In The Road, and Black Hare Valley, I also wrote a first draft of The Mess of Us (sequel to The Mess of Me) and a book called The Dark Finds You which is a crossover book. My goals for 2023 are obviously going to be second drafts of all these as well as finally releasing The Day The Earth Turned series. I have even started another poetry and short story collection.

It’s been a good year in reflection and now that I’ve checked my goals versus the reality I feel quite proud of myself.

Look out for my 2023 goals post, coming soon!

Ways To Beat January Gloom

I’ve always hated January. To me, it’s the Monday morning of all the months. And that first Monday back to work and school in January has always been something I’ve dreaded. I love the festive period and it always seems to arrive just when we need it most. The Autumn has stretched into Winter, Summer seems like it never happened, and the days are short, dark and cold. We are all tired and grumpy and need a break and Christmas arrives just in time to provide just that. This Christmas was just how I wanted it. My eldest came back from University (the first time we have seen her since September!) and I had two weeks off from all my writing clubs. I made sure everything was ticked off my endless to-do-list just before school broke up, and that meant I could totally relax over the two week holiday. It was everything I hoped it would be. Slow, lazy, snuggly and warm. We shared lazy days lounging around, snuggling under blankets or drinking hot chocolate in front of a roaring fire. We had the most beautiful Christmas tree and by Christmas Eve, there was an exciting mountain of gifts piled up under it. It all went smoothly, including the dinner with my mum, and visiting various relatives. But at the back of my mind was always the grumbling dread that January was on its way.

It’s just such a bleak and depressing month. Spring feels a million miles away, Summer a distant dream. There is little to look forward to apart from dark mornings and worsening weather. I always get that intense ‘back-to-school’ feeling towards the end of December. Don’t get me wrong, I love my job. I am very fortunate to have a writing-related job and I come out of each of my writing clubs smiling, because it really is a joy. But life is pretty hectic and enjoying a break is something I am loathe to say goodbye to. Our normal lives consist of so much driving around in order to get everyone to their job, school or college, and then picked up again, not to mention other activities such as Beavers. Monday to Wednesday is crazy with no time to breathe, but I am lucky enough to have Thursdays and Fridays free. It gives me two days to catch up on all the admin and preparation that goes with my job and maybe fit in some gardening or writing if I am really organised!

This year, I decided to try and pre-empt my usual January depression. I don’t like wishing time away and I hate the feeling that everything is flat and bleak. I decided to rail against it and started thinking of ways I could enter January with a more positive mind-set. It’s not been easy but here is a list of the things I am trying to focus on to get through this Monday of a month!

Image by Moni Mckein from Pixabay
  • Plan my goals for 2022 – I do this every year and it really helps me feel a bit more excited about January. I write a list of ten writing and non-writing related goals and then at the end of the year I read them again and write another post about how the reality panned out. It’s quite exciting to get them written down and gives me a kick up the backside to get going!
  • Sort out my seed tin – Another little thing that just cheers me up once the Christmas tree has come down. I sort out my seed tin, add any new packets, label envelopes and so on. It reminds me that I can start planting a few things now and that always cheers me up!
  • Start planting what I can – so far I have planted garlic, leeks and onions. There is plenty more to do and I will try and get a bit done throughout the month. This always feels like quiet rebellion. Sod you, January, I am making plans for Summer! It gives me hope to plant new things. It makes me smile.
  • Tidy up the vegetable patch – It gets a bit neglected in the winter months, but I made myself go out there the other day and I was surprised that so much is still going. I picked some onions, leeks and spring onions and noticed kale, carrots and cabbages all still thriving! I was quite delighted to realise I had kept the patch going through the winter! I weeded a fair bit and tidied up, but there is plenty more to do and I aim to get out there as much as I can this month.
  • Embrace the beauty of Winter – I don’t hate Winter, I just hate January. So I try to remind myself how lucky I am to experience the change of seasons. I enjoy watching the same landscapes alter throughout the year and right now everything is cold, hard and coated in sparkling frost. The birds are singing though and daffodils are pushing up through the frozen ground. Even the bare trees have a certain stark beauty at this time of year. I just need to remind myself to appreciate it before it all changes and softens for Spring.
  • Embrace the slower rhythm of short, dark days – Everyone loves the summer with its long, hazy days and the added freedom this brings. Winter forces us all inside and its dark when we wake up and dark before dinner time. In the summer, we run around more, we pack more in, we go out more and have trips and activities. There is less of this in the Winter but that’s not a bad thing. I’m going to enjoy the slower pace, curl up under a blanket and read more books. I’ve devoured so many over Christmas, it’s been wonderful. Winter is a time for hunkering down, keeping warm and slowing down.
  • Book a holiday – We last had a family holiday in October 2020. It was a holiday postponed from April 2020 when we were in lockdown. We had hoped to book something else for the summer or even for the October of 2021, but prices were sky high! Instead, we filled our summer with free and cheap days out. However, prices for the kind of holidays we can afford (Haven caravan parks around the UK!) have gone down again and as we received some money for Christmas, we decided to book something for the summer holiday. The very last week in August, which feels like an eternity away, but it will soon be here. I booked it just a few days after Christmas and it really cheered me up.
  • Nature watching – me and my youngest are quite into bird watching lately. I’m glad he shares my joy when we spot something unusual or observe the playful habits of native birds. We also look out for deer, foxes, weasels, stoats and herons and are lucky enough to see most each week where we live. It reminds me that life goes on, and January is just a word I really shouldn’t give much power to!
  • Plan for next Christmas – This is something that cheers me up too. I normally start my Christmas shopping in January. I start a new list in my Christmas notepad and write down everyone’s names and start thinking about next year. I’ll pick up odd things or order something if I get a good idea and it keeps me smiling.

After all that, I really do feel better about facing January. There is lots to look forward to and before I know it, it will soon be February!

How do you feel about January? Is it a month you dread or welcome? What do you do to cheer yourself up when Christmas is over and Summer is so far away? Feel free to comment and share!

My 2022 Goals

It’s time to set my goals for the year ahead! This is a little tradition for me now, with me setting out goals in January of each year and then analysing the reality of them each December. I set myself ten goals last year and achieved eight, so that’s going to be tough to beat! But here we go, my goals for the year ahead.

  1. Publish my new short story and poetry collection: The Old Friend and Other Stories and Poems. This book is ready to go! I am just waiting for the front cover to be finalised and once that’s done I will choose a date and organise a two month launch plan. Totally doable!
  2. Do a rewrite of The Day The Earth Turned Series. All four books are finished and at the same fourth draft stage. I am now going back to the start to rewrite them all, one by one. I have new chapters to add, some characters to develop further and I am planning to try changing the tense to present. I think this will give it the extra kick it needs, but we will see! This will be a time consuming goal but one I really must prioritise.
  3. Finalise book one of the Fortune’s Well series I’ve co-written with Sim Sansford. By finalise I mean finish our final edits, send to the proofreader, contact designer for a front cover, make the final, final edits and plan a launch.
  4. Continue to write chapters for the spin-off book to The Boy With The Thorn In His Side series. The spin-off idea arrived a few years back and a year ago I couldn’t resist making notes for it, which soon evolved into chapters. I wrote these up a few months ago and continued writing up to chapter 22. I have to prioritise The Day The earth Turned and the Fortune’s Well series this year as they are both finished and ready to polish up and publish, but I always need to be writing something fresh and new too so this is the one I will work on when I can. It has a working title of At Night They Played In The Road.
  5. Continue to add to all my other book ideas. I need to add my zombie apocalypse idea to my upcoming books page. I have almost filled a notepad with longhand entries to this diary style book but I haven’t written any in a few weeks now. I will continue to carry it around and add to it when I feel the urge. There are two other writing projects I need to add to the upcoming books page. One is another YA series, this time with a supernatural theme and one is an adult family mystery. It will be many years before I get to either but I must continue to make notes when I get ideas!
  6. Be more active. During the lockdowns I was very active in my garden and just in general but whenever things went back to normal I fell back into the trap of being tired from work and not keeping up outdoor activities. I really want to get stronger and fitter again in 2022 so I aim to be outside as much as I can. I have even ordered a campfire tripod and dutch oven so we can try cooking outside more often. I just want to be as active and outdoorsy as I possibly can!
  7. Do better in the veg plot. I didn’t do too badly last year but every year I hope to improve so this has to go on the list again. I got a voucher for Xmas from my sister for plant plugs and have ordered a lovely selection to start me off on the right track. My mother-in-law also bought me a huge bag of vegetable and herb seeds, as well as wooden labels, bee bombs and bird food. I am so excited and can’t wait to get stuck into gardening again!
  8. Launch a second community writing project with Chasing Driftwood Writing Group. In 2021 we finally released our first anthology – Stay Home: A Year of Writing Through Lockdown. The anthology is a mixture of personal essays, short stories and poetry on the lockdown experience. Sales have been good and are helping to fund our next project – The World You Gave Us. We hope to collect essays, short stories and poetry from young writers only this time and eventually publish another anthology.
  9. Get better at marketing my books. Haha, this one is always up there! I will endeavour to try harder though! I have been getting better at blogging regularly and posting on social media. It’s my newsletter I need to get more consistent with and getting reviews!
  10. Be happy, don’t worry! I intend to be as happy as I can be. I aim to strive to always see the positive. I will try as hard as I can to leave the world better than I found it, be aware and informed, but not allow myself to become drenched in cynicism or dragged down by useless worrying. I must remind myself daily that I only have one short life and it’s up to me what I do with it. I must remind myself that worrying never achieves anything, that most people are good and the world is worth saving. I will continue to do whatever I can to give back to nature and do whatever I can to keep a smile on my face.

So, that’s it, my goals for the year ahead. Let’s hope it’s a good one. Let’s hope we see some positive changes, some hope, some kindness. Let’s hope things get better out there, not worse! Are you setting any goals for the year ahead? Feel free to comment and share! Thank you for following my blog and reading my posts. Its means a lot to me to know you are there. I wish all of you a very happy New Year!