Posted in Events, Family, Personal life, Writing

My Past Writing Year

Before sharing my goals for 2023, I’ve been looking back on what I achieved in 2022 – which was rather more than I expected! 

At the turn of the year, when I sat down to set my writing goals for 2023 – more on those in next week’s post – I decided first to list my writing-related achievements in 2022, on the principle that writing a “what I did today” list always makes my next day’s to-do list look less daunting.

Here’s what I came up with (I’ve typed the numbers in figures rather than words to make it easier to follow):

  • started working with my new agent, Ethan Ellenberg, who kindly offered to represent me late 2021
  • saw the first 3 Sophie Sayers audiobooks published by Saga Egmont, to whom I’ve licensed audio rights for the first 7, a deal negotiated by Ethan
  • again via Ethan and his team, won 1 German translation deal from DP Verlag for the first 3 Sophie Sayers Village Mysteries
  • was approached out of the blue by the award-winning publisher Boldwood Books, offering me a 13-book contract for my 2 series of novels, 9 in my back catalogue, plus 4 new ones to be written over the next two years (a contract Ethan then negotiated for me)
  • wrote the first 2 of those new novels, Wicked Whispers at St Bride’s (published November 2022) and Murder in the Highlands (to be published March 2023)
  • ran 4 events for the Hawkesbury Upton Literature Festival (HULF Talks):
    Romantic Fiction (February), Holiday Reads (June), The World at War (October) and a Christmas Special (November)
  • taught 2 x 10-week Simply Self-Publish courses for Jericho Writers and gave several one-off talks for them
  • wrote 10 “Young By Name” columns for the Tetbury Advertiser (also posted on this blog)
  • wrote 12 columns for the Hawkesbury Parish News (also posted on this blog)
  • wrote 4 articles for Romance Matters, the Romantic Novelists’ Association‘s membership magazine
  • wrote 2 articles for Mslexia magazine, the last in a series of 8 over 2 years
  • ran bookstalls at 4 live events
  • gave 1 live bookshop talk at the Cotswold Book Room in Wotton-under-Edge
  • opened 1 village fete in Kingswood, Gloucestershire, as a local celebrity author

If I’d written those items down as objectives at the start of 2022, I’d have found the list impossibly daunting,

But looking at the list in  hindsight makes me more confident about setting my goals for 2023.

What Helps Me Achieve

Friends and relations might describe me as driven, a self-starter, resilient, hard-working, and curious. These are all qualities I inherited or learned from my parents and grandparents, who are the best role models.

Another advantage is my strong support network. I’m no Thomas Chatterton, scribbling romantically, hopelessly, in his cold lonely garret.

Photo of portrait of The Death of Chatterton by Henry Wallis
The Death of Chatterton by Henry Wallis (Public domain)

I’m lucky to have my parents, brother, sister and nephews within half an hour’s drive away, and a supportive husband and daughter at home.

I have a terrific network of friends all over the world, including wonderful author friends in the Alliance of Independent Authors, the Romantic Novelists’ Association, and the Society of Authors, plus fellow authors published by Boldwood Books.

Closer to home, I live in a vibrant, pretty but not posh or elitist Cotswold village, where I’m able to play a very active role in community life.

I’m very lucky to be relatively secure financially, having paid off my mortgage (and yes, I do realise what a privilege it is to have been able to take out a mortgage to buy my own home). I’m not rich, but for the most part I’m able to live by Mr Micawber’s maxim:


drawing of Mr Micawber by Phiz
Mr Micawber from Charles Dickens’ David Copperfield, drawn by Phiz (Public domain)

“”Annual income 20 pounds, annual expenditure 19 [pounds] 19 [shillings] and six [pence], result happiness. Annual income 20 pounds, annual expenditure 20 pounds ought and six, result misery” – Mr Micawber in David Copperfield

(I confess I also subscribe to his optimistic catchphrase: “Something will turn up“.)

Other things that help keep my spirits buoyant is an estalished set of hobbies that I love, including:

  • singing with our village choir
  • bell ringing in our parish church of St Mary’s Hawkesbury
  • knitting, crochet and other needlework
  • reading (at least one book a week, fiction and non-fiction)

These activities provide plenty of thinking time and allow my creative mind to wander. They “fill the creative well“, as the saying goes, providing ideas for new stories. I’ve lost count of the number of ways my bell-ringing chums have told me you can murder someone with a bell!

This is not to say I leave a charmed life. I have significant chronic health conditions, including asthma and rheumatoid arthritis, which reduce my energy. I can no longer use a conventional keyboard. But it’s in my nature to light a candle rather than curse the darkness, and I’m thankful for ergonomic keyboards and voice recognition software.

I’m sharing these thoughts not to show off, but to encourage you when setting your goals for 2023. Aim high. Believe in yourself. Give yourself the chances you deserve.

Whatever you plan to do in 2023, I wish you a happy, safe and fulfilled new year. Next week I’ll be telling you how I plan to spend mine. 


Cover of Murder in the HIghalands
The eighth Sophie Sayers Cozy Mystery is due to launch on 15th March 2023 and is now available to pre-order
  • My eighth Sophie Sayers Village Mystery, Murder in the Highlands, is now in production and due to be published on 15th March by Boldwood Books.
  • I’ve just finished planning my fourth Gemma Lamb Cozy Mystery, Beastly Business at St Bride’s, which will be published by Boldwood Books later this year.
  • Last night I submitted a new Sophie Sayers short story, Nowhere to Hide, for a charity anthology, The Little Shop of Murders, edited by Iain Grant and Heide Goody, to be published on 14th February. (More news on that soon.)
  • Boldwood Books launches its new editions of Sophie’s fifth and sixth adventures, Springtime for Murder and Murder at the Mill (previously Murder Your Darlings) on 28th January, and the seventh, Murder Lost and Found, on 15th February – which means all my back catalogue will once more be on the market, not only in ebook and paperback as before, but also in audiobook, large print and hardback.


As I set this post up the night before it is due to go live, I’ve just discovered my latest book, Wicked Whispers at St Bride’s, the third in my Gemma Lamb Cozy Mystery series, is currently an Amazon bestseller, at #264 in the UK Kindle charts. The first in that series, Dastardly Deeds at St Bride’s, is also currently sporting a bestseller sticker. Not a bad way to start my new writing year!


English author of warm, witty cosy mystery novels including the popular Sophie Sayers Village Mysteries and the Gemma Lamb/St Bride's School series. Novels published by Boldwood Books, all other books by Hawkesbury Press. Represented by Ethan Ellenberg Literary Agents. Founder and director of the Hawkesbury Upton Literature Festival. Course tutor for Jericho Writers. UK Ambassador for the Alliance of Independent Authors. Lives and writes in her Victorian cottage in the heart of the beautiful Cotswold countryside.

4 thoughts on “My Past Writing Year

    1. Thank you very much, Shay! Happy new year to you and best of luck with your continuing studies – you are working so hard and with such dedication, and you deserve every bit of success!

Leave a Reply