A rounding up of the events that took place in 2023
As I remove the 2023 wall planner, I notice the amount of different coloured stickers, each signifying a virtual or physical event that I took part in throughout the year. I see lines that demarcate entire weeks dedicated to researching, writing and learning. Highlighted are the family holidays, the birthdays and the occasional date night with the hubby.
It’s fair to say 2023 has been busy. And in a good way. It’s been quite a few years since I’ve been able to focus solely on my writing career, for one reason or another and honestly? I have enjoyed every single event. It’s been great to get out from behind my desk and meet readers, fellow writers and to even organise my own event.
What next? It’s set to be more of the same (Universe, are you listening?)
I already have local library events in the calendar along with a first time visit to The London Book Fair and… what was that other thing??? Oh yes, the launch of BOOK 4….
As I write this, 19th December 2023 I have completed the first draft. I have to basically write it again and get it to my editor by the end of January so I will be taking a break over Christmas but it will be back to business on 3rd January 2024. When I’ve done the re-write I’ll hopefully have an idea of publication date but I usually announce it too early and then put huge amounts of pressure on myself to get it out there so I’m waiting until at least my editor has seen it before I say anything.
I do, however, have a title but you will have to read the blog post to the end to see what it is!
So, enjoy this 2023 roundup and I wish you and yours all the very best for a happy, peaceful holiday season.
January – Final edits for When We Deceive
The year started with an unexpected trip to South West France, housesitting. This was as a result of answering a Facebook post in an author group that I’m part of. Completely impromptu but an utter delight. For a whole week my husband and I were holed up in a beautiful gite, in the French countryside with nothing but log burners, and breath taking views. It did, of course, give me a chance to work on When We Deceive, and over the course of the week I edited around 20k words – far more than I would have done at home!
What a way to start a New Year.
February – Odd Jobs and DIY
Spring was very slowly creeping in, and it was wonderful to watch the bulbs that I had planted in October start to poke their heads above ground. I always think Spring is a time for reflection, to see how far above the ground we have grown since the Spring before, how hard have we fought, despite the conditions to raise ourselves above the ground and meet the pale, golden light. It’s also the chance for me to start planning and planting my garden for the months ahead. It’s a hobby I’ve only really fallen in love with in the last couple of years but I find it so therapeutic. I stick my headphones in, listen to 80’s pop or maybe a podcast (true crime, obvs) and I can lose myself for hours just pottering around. When We Deceive was with Rebecca so I enjoyed some downtime as I knew I would have to hit the ground running ahead of launch!
March – Bay Tales 2023
This was an event I was absolutely over the moon to be part of. Set up by Vic and Simon, it’s supported by Ann Cleeves and promotes the amazing talent that lies in the North of England. I had attended the year before as a reader so to be invited along as an author to read an extract of When We Deceive ahead of launch was a honour. There may have been a few pints sunk in the Crab and Waltzer after the reading but not so many. The husband and myself had a fabulous time, we met up with other author friends too.
April – Launch of When We Deceive (and it very nearly didn’t happen)
April was quite simply spent creating all the social images, organising the blog tour and ARC readers. As a self-published author I am responsible for every aspect of my book – and that includes the cover. It was all systems go, I’d uploaded the copy to Goodreads and Amazon and was just waiting to press ‘PUBLISH’ when…. Amazon told me they wouldn’t be publishing it as the cover went against their guidelines. The original showed a body on an autopsy table, and as a result it breached one of their conditions. Thankfully, I work with a wonderful designer – Book Covers Art – and he was able to turn it round. Which meant doing everything again! Hey ho, these things are sent to try us. Launch night was so much fun. I kept it online, with the usual Facebook party.
And the most amazing thing happened. We reached the much coveted #1 spot on Amazon Kindle charts – an absolute dream come true and my thanks will always remain with the readers (you) that made it happen. I finally went to bed with the BIGGEST grin on my face 😀
Wow, wow, wow. It was a breath taking month. Fresh from the launch of When We Deceive, I was hotfooting it down to Bristol to take part in CrimeFest 2023. I was on the Independent author panel on Sunday morning but after looking at the other panels I decided to book for the whole event. It was great to catch up with readers and authors that I had met the previous year and I also made a whole load of new friends too. You can read more about the event in this blog post. Good times with good friends.
An event that’s run every year by the Crime Writers Association, this year I wanted to make the most of it by bringing an event to Wakefield. I put a call out to a few of my author friends, and was overwhelmed by the response. I contacted Wakefield Library, who were totally onboard with the idea and made the whole organising process easy. You can read about the full day in this blog post, but if you live near Wakefield, keep your diary free for June as we will be doing it all again!
(On a side note, I would like to express my deepest sympathy to the family of Dale Brendan-Hyde, a Wakefield author who appeared at this event who unfortunately lost his battle with cancer in October.)
I was delighted to be approached by the lovely people over at Books and Beverages for their ‘alternative’ crime event in July. My third panel event of the year, and thoroughly enjoyable. You can watch a replay here, and read the blog post here.
We had the best time in Dorset for our family holiday. I threw myself into horse riding, body boarding and walked everyone’s legs off! All the while, unbeknown to the fam, I was plotting murder and mayhem! The idea for Book 4 (Title tbc) had been growing in my head (and notebook) for a while. I knew I wanted to set it in 1989 (the year I left school). I knew I wanted it to be around the rave scene and I took it from there. One of the things I have to have when I’m creating a new story is an absolute passion for it, for the theme, the premise and the characters. I know they are going to stay with me for a long time and I will have to live with it for always so it’s important I don’t get bored. I know that if I do, then the readers will and that’s just not acceptable!
Because I can’t hold my own water (meaning I’m rubbish at keeping secrets) somewhat ambitiously I announced a new series without really having a full understanding of exactly what that looked like. I know, I know. Those planners among you will be shrieking in fright, but if something grabs me and lights me up inside then I tend to run with it. Still, planner or panster I will reveal more later on. Aside from all this, I was delighted to find out that When We Deceive was nominated for an award in the Crime Fiction Lovers Awards – Best Indie Thriller. I didn’t win but I was overwhelmed to even have been nominated.
At the end of October, I caught up with friends and family, ensured all hospital, dental and doctors appointments had been met and declared that I was taking part in NaNoWriMo. If you’re not familiar with it, then the idea is to write a novel in a month. I have never had a chance to take part as I’ve been too busy, and haven’t made it a priority but as I was behind with book 4, I fully committed. It was great! I was turning out between 2k – 5k words per day (I don’t write on weekends) and the idea was just flowing. If I needed to research a point I just filled it with XYZ and by the end of the month I had my first draft – phew. I finally knew how it would end!
Also in November I did my first solo library event. These things are always nerve wracking as they rely on people leaving their homes and heading out in the depths of winter. And for someone who they probably haven’t heard of! I was delighted with the turn out – 15 people booked, and they all turned up! It was a cost chat, and felt like coffee with friends. It boosted my confidence no end, and from the positive feedback I’ve been booked to do more events in 2024!
And that brings me to a close. What an amazing year. On a personal front, I’ve also had my first tattoo (followed by 3 more!), walked miles with my grandpup Milo, completed a 6k walk for Alzheimer’s, taken on 2 more cats (don’t ask!) as well as met up with old school friends and found a crowd of likeminded sisters in Once Upon A Crime tribe.
I never set New Years Resolutions, instead I chose a word that I will try to live by throughout the year. This year I chose ‘Prosper’ and said that I would be a YES for everything. I feel I’ve lived this out and a lot more besides.
However we’ve interacted this year, in face or via socials perhaps my newsletter What Cat Did Next, you’ve allowed me to achieve my dreams and I am eternally thankful for your support.
All that is left for me to do is to wish you and yours a wonderful holiday season and very best wishes for 2024.
Oh, the new book title?
Kill Me Once, Catch Me Twice!
(Let me know what you think in comments!)