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Happy New Year!

Jessica reflects on writing across 2017 and looks ahead to 2018


Happy New Year!

I hope you’ve had a happy and healthy Christmas and that Santa was good to you. When asked by hubby what I’d like for Christmas, my answer was the same as always: Time and, more specifically time to write. Short of winning the lottery so I can leave the day job (which is never going to happen given that we never buy a ticket), time will always remain illusive. Nonetheless, I still got some lovely gifts and will just have to make a New Year’s Resolution to try and be even more organised with how I spend my time, trying to get that difficult balance between work, Masters studies and writing.

As it’s the New Year, I thought I’d have a quick look back over 2017 and a look ahead to 2018’s plans.

January – March 2017

The big news for me was starting the New Year as an indie writer. I’d parted company with my publisher in November and needed to get new covers designed before I could re-launch the three books and the novella I’d released through my publisher. Searching for Steven and Getting over Gary were ready for release in December but the final part of the trilogy, Dreaming about Daran, and my novella, Raving about Rhys, weren’t ready until January. In the meantime, I was busy writing my first completely-indie novel, Bear With Me.

April – June 2017

The quarter started in an unusual way for me when I delivered a writing talk. That in itself wasn’t unusual, but the venue was: a café called The Seastrand in Scarborough, situated at the bottom of a cliff lift. I’d delivered a few library talks and was quite excited about being part of a full-day programme of writer talks from somewhere a bit different, and reaching some new potential readers. Only it didn’t quite go to plan.  You can read about it here.

In late April, I released Bear With Me. I was a bit nervous about this as it was a departure from the cast of characters I’d lived with for the previous ten years whilst writing my trilogy. I’d also written from two perspectives for the first time, and one of these was a male. You can read about my nerves here. I absolutely love the story of Bear With Me although, disappointingly, it’s sold the fewest copies out of everything I’ve written so I feel very sorry for Jemma and Sam, my protagonists, as theirs really is a beautiful love story. Hopefully it’s just slow-burn for them.

I ended the quarter with something unusual too, when I was a contestant on ITV’s The Chase. I’d filmed it last November but it aired in June. You can read all about my experiences here.

July – September 2017

The summer saw me working on a Christmas novella but I struggled with writing it at first because I had a huge crisis of confidence. My books weren’t selling and, when they were, we were talking in really small numbers like one or two. It seemed that all my writing friends were doing really well and I was bottom of the class. I described it in a very honest blog post here.

At the end of the quarter, I attended a RNA event; an afternoon tea in New York with my lovely writing friend, Sharon. There were loads of incredibly successful writers there but there were also those on the New Writers’ Scheme which was a good reminder as to how far I’ve come since my days in the NWS. Even though my books were barely selling, I had five titles out there and some amazing reviews, which was a long way from my starting point of trying to write my first novel.

October – December 2017

The Christmas novella – Charlee and the Chocolate Shop – I was working on ended up being a novel … and I also wrote another one, Christmas at Carly’s Cupcakes! I released them both a week apart in October and they did really well at first. I thought I’d finally broken my no-sales slump. I anticipated that sales would increase as Christmas approached, but they dipped off instead. On the positive side, I have 100% 5-star reviews, which I’m thrilled about. I just wish the sales were amazing as the reviews!

The trilogy and novella had another make-over, courtesy of my husband, and I absolutely love their new look.

In other exciting news, I started working on a Masters in Creative Writing through Open University. Already struggling for time, I realised something had to give so I left my position as Brown Owl after 7.5 years on my perch. I was thrilled with a distinction on my first submission for my fiction module.

And for 2018…

I currently have four works in progress (WIPs) and a very clear idea on what to do for a fifth. However, I keep changing my mind on which to work on next and, as a result, I’m not getting much done on anything but I do want to go for a spring release on one of them so I’d best get my backside in gear!

I have a deadline in February for submission of my next Masters assignment. This is for the screenwriting module so I’m not quite as confident for this one. Still aiming for a distinction, though.

And hoping that this is the year when I finally have some success with sales although probably best not to hold my breath on that one.

Wishing you all the best for 2018

Jessica xx

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