In last week’s post, I shared a summary of my writing year in 2022. This week, I’m declaring my writing goals for 2023, on the basis that publicly declaring intentions makes them more likely to turn into reality.
New Short Stories
I’m pleased to say I’ve already written one new short story in 2023 – helped by a deadline of 31st December 2022! (I thrive on deadlines and have a sign above my desk saying “Nothing makes me more productive than the last minute”.)
This first short story was for a new charity anthology called Little Shop of Murders, edited by Iain Grant and Heide Goody, in which all the stories feature high street shops. Mine is called Nowhere to Hide, and is set in Wendlebury Barrow High Street, home to Sophie Sayers and friends. The action is centred in and around the village shop, the Hector’s House bookshop, and the telephone box as it is converted into a Little Free Library. All of the profits will go to three wonderful charities. I’m really looking forward to sharing this story, which was great fun to write, and also to reading the other contributors’ tales to see their take on the topic. A fun way to start my writing year! More news on this project nearer the launch date, which will be late February.
I’m also planning to write several new Sophie Sayers short stories set at Christmas, to compile with others already written, to create a Sophie Sayers Christmas Compendium in time for Christmas 2023. I had hoped to write them over the Christmas holidays, but ended up relaxing and taking an actual holiday instead!
My 13-book contract with Boldwood Books requires me to write two new books for them this year – the fourth Gemma Lamb mystery, Beastly Business at St Bride’s, which is my current work-in-progress, and the ninth Sophie Sayers adventure – working title: Driven to Murder. In the meantime, yesterday I signed off the final proof of the eighth Sophie Sayers novel, Murder in the Highlands, which will be published on 15th March.
I have two other novels that I’d like to write this year, the first of which will be a second-chance romantic novel, similar in vein to my recent novella Mrs Morris Changes Lanes, but set in Cornwall. I’m keeping the title under wraps just now, but I’m planning to start writing it as soon as I’ve finished my current manuscript. The second will be a shorter book, aimed at children, about a little girl and her grandma. Again, I’m keeping that title a secret until I’m a bit further along with it.
Other Writing-Related Goals
Last year I became a course tutor for the internationallly renowned organisation Jericho Writers, and I taught two online ten-week courses called “Simply Self-publish” – a little ironic, as this was in the year that I gained three trade-publishing contracts, but I’m still committed to the indie author cause, and I have a great deal of knowledge and experience that I’m happy to share (and to monetise!) Already two of my pupils have self-published terrific novels, The West Rises by SM Davies, and The Paths of Guilt by Max Haven, and and the third has won agency representation, and I couldn’t be prouder of them. If you’re interested in taking the course, you can find more details here:
I’ll also be giving short one-off talks, both for Jericho Writers and other organisations. I’m looking forward to being a guest speaker at the Romantic Novelists’ Association annual conference in London in August – more details to follow once bookings have opened and the full programme has been announced.
- Hawkesbury Upton Literature Festival (HULF) Events
I’ve continued to evolve the lit fest I founded for my Cotswold village in 2015, and for 2023 I’m reshaping it yet again. There will be two full-day events, each in a single venue. The first will be a “Festival of Words” celebrating different aspects of language, to be held at our parish church of St Mary’s Hawkesbury. The second will be at the village’s Bethesda Chapel in the autumn and will focus on writers’ research methods and findings. There’ll also be a Christmas Special for an afternoon late November or early December. Full details have yet to be decided, but visit the HULF website www.hulitfest.com for the latest information at any time. (Sorry, I haven’t added any 2023 data there yet, but will soon!)
- Competition Judging
John Holland, organiser of the Stroud Short Stories spoken word event, has kindly invited me to be co-judge with him of its autumn spoken word event, which involves reading about 100 short stories and choosing 10 for their authors to read at a public event as part of the Stroud Book Festival. This will be the fourth time (I think!) that I’ve co-judged with John, and it’s always terrific fun, and a privilege to get first sight of so many wonderful stories by Gloucestershire and South Gloucestershire authors. Find out more at www.stroudshortstories.blogspot.com
I’m cutting back a bit on journalism this year as although I enjoy it and can write articles quite quickly, there are still only so many hours in the day, and as you can imagine from (1) above, I need to keep most of my writing time for my fiction. Therefore I’m committing only to writing a quarterly article for Romance Matters, the membership magazine of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, and these articles are based on interview questions, so to be honest, the author I’m interviewing does most of the hard work! Oh, plus of course I’ll still be contributing my usual monthly columns to the two local community magazines that I’ve been writing for since 2010 – the Tetbury Advertiser and the Hawkesbury Parish News. If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you’ll know that I also repurpose those pieces (as the writers’ jargon goes) by turning them into posts on this blog each month.
- My Writing Life Blog
And speaking of my blog, I timed out towards the end of 2022 and ended up posting very little in November and December. But I always have plenty of ideas for new posts, so this year I’m committing to posting every Wednesday at 2pm UK time. Thus each month there’ll be two posts that started life as my magazine columns, and two or three original posts, depending on how many Wednesdays there are in the month. There will be the occasional posts interviewing other authors or other interesting people (I have a couple of such posts already in the pipeline), but they’ll all be written by me.
- Social Media
And finally, because all authors need to keep a presence on social media these days – many of their readers expect it of them – I’ll be posting daily, if I can manage it, on my Facebook author page, a few times a week on Instagram, and a couple of times a week on Twitter at @DebbieYoungBN.
As I noted in last week’s post, I’m lucky to have a good support network of family and friends that make it easier to lead this writing life. I also have interesting, active hobbies, such as bell ringing and singing in our local choir, to take me away from my desk and recharge my batteries. I’d also like to do a bit more travelling this year.
Last year I was enjoyed three short breaks – a long weekend in Berlin with my daughter, a week in Cornwall with my sister and daughter, and a week in Scotland with my husband and daughter. That seemed like a lot of travel after the restrictions of Covid lockdowns, but now I’m getting itchy feet, and would like to take more short trips, even if some are just a day away, to keep me fresh.
I’m already looking forward to a week in Marazion, Cornwall, in March with six writer friends for a writing retreat in a Victorian house opposite St Michael’s Mount, and to a weekend in London in August for the Romantic Novelists’ Association. I’m hoping for a mini-break to Copenhagen with my daughter during her university summer vacation, but I’d also like to travel to some places closer to home, including Hay-on-Wye (England’s National Book Town) and Wigtown (Scotland’s National Book Town). Does that sound like a busman’s holiday? That’s fine by me!
FOR YEAR-ROUND BOOK NEWS
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