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Thoughts on the past year

Hi everyone, as it’s that time of year when many people take a moment of reflection on the past year and think about the future, I thought I’d take a moment to do the same.

Last year was a mix of good and bad. On the personal side, I had a long bout of depression and autistic burnout, had frequent meltdowns and shutdowns, and suffered from intense imposter syndrome regarding my work. But I also learnt a lot about my neurology, began implementing coping strategies to reduce meltdowns and shutdowns (like using ear defenders, sunglasses and fidget toys to help with sensory overload and not doing too many tasks in one day) and celebrated a year and a half with my partner and, in November, actually moved in with him.

I also realised that I’ve achieved an awful lot with my writing, too:

  • I did my first edit of my YA sci-fi, Unsung.
  • I put together my short story collection, When The Bard Came Visiting, which comes out this February.
  • I re-edited my Half-Wizard Thordric trilogy to catch all the continuity errors that had slipped through.
  • I wrote a middle grade fantasy involving time travel.
  • I edited two poetry collections and submitted them to my publisher.
  • I did my first author visit at a school.
  • I did another edit on Unsung, and prepared a query and synopsis for submission to literary agents.
  • I put together a poetry pamphlet and a children’s poetry collection for submission to an independent press.
  • I wrote (and illustrated) a bespoke story that the client had won at a local school fair.

Writing it all down in a list like this gives it a lot of substance that I can’t ignore, because it wasn’t until I started writing this post that it fully hit me how much work I completed. When I think about how unmotivated I felt for most of the year, it’s incredible that I managed to do so much. I suppose it does make sense though, because no matter how hard writing can be, it’s the one thing I’ve always known I’ve wanted to do, and is the way in which I express myself best. I know a lot of the poetry I wrote released a lot of frustration and helped me to accept who I am, and writing fiction let me live an adventure I’d otherwise never know.

For this year, I haven’t made any strict resolutions. I simply intend to keep the same goals I always have: to keep writing, appreciate the small things and (this one is slightly newer) ask for help when I need it. I’m sure there will be times when I get distracted, overwhelmed and stubborn, but as long as it’s not too often, I know that’s all okay.

So, here’s to a new year full of self-care, appreciation for those who support us, and determination for whatever it is that we wish to achieve.

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Unofficial Detective’s 2nd book birthday!

If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter, then you probably already know this, but Unofficial Detective, the first book in my Half-Wizard Thordric trilogy, has been out for two years today. And looking back, things have been a little crazy since then.

These past two years have been full of personal struggles, but one thing that’s been a constant throughout, despite lack of time, depression and overall burnout, has been my writing.

[Side note: I’ve written at least one book every year since 2011, and though I had so many manuscripts, I only found my first publisher in 2017.]

Since Unofficial Detective has been out, nearly every book I wrote before then has either been released or is currently under contract for release next year. And the books I’ve written since its release (3 novels, 3 picture book manuscripts, 3 poetry collections – including A Book For Pandora, which came out in February this year) are either awaiting editing/being edited or on submission. Add that to the fact I blog every day at the moment, and even I have to admit it’s a lot of work.

Now, I often forget the sheer amount of effort I’ve put into a project as soon as I move onto the next, and as my focus is usually on what I’m currently working on, it’s been a long time since I’ve looked back and appreciated how far I’ve come. But today I stopped to think about it, and it left me both overwhelmed and immensely proud.

Being a writer has been my dream since I was a little girl, and while it’s true I earn very little from it – for me, earning money from writing has never been the point – I can genuinely say I’ve achieved my dream and will continue living it.

So, I think the note I want to end with is that for any aspiring writers out there wondering if getting published really is attainable, just stick with it. Yes, it probably will be hard and you will feel like quitting completely at some points, but if it’s what you really want, then no one can stop you. And that remains true regardless of whether you’re looking into traditional publishing or self publishing.

books_mine

Lastly, a list of all my published works to date:

Half-Wizard Thordric trilogy

Unofficial Detective

Accidental Archaeologist

Unseasoned Adventurer

 

Stand alone books

The Door Between Worlds

The Origin Stone

 

Poetry

A Book For Pandora

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I finished my WIP!

Well, by finished, I mean I have a complete first draft that still needs a lot of work, but I’m still pleased with how the ending turned out, even if I completely broke down in tears. There must be some part of me that secretly loves to add sad touches to endings. It’s like I can’t help it. However, given that this WIP involves time travel, I guess I can let myself off, as it was inevitable for the plot.

Anyway, it’s late and I used up the last of my energy trying to type the final words through the rivers of water running from my eyes.

But at least I can say I’m finished (at least for a while, until I’ve decided I’ve left it long enough to go over it with fresh eyes). Hooray!

 

Poetry

Low fuel

Let’s not confuse the sad with the empty,

though the expressions may be the same.

Tie labels around each toe

with notes on how well the footprints smile.

Are they real, or just so creatively painted on

that you’re mesmerised and can’t see the raw skin

blistering from so much neglect?

Gold stars for getting up in the morning,

lifting up the weighted chains

entwining every limb.

Poetry

Finish line

It struck me as rain from a light cloud

hit by the silvery rays of the moon.

A month later, it had solidified

to become blocks of crystal

that I neatly began shaping into

the foundations of a wall.

Three months after that, the wall

stood the same height as me.

Then it overtook me,

and grew into a cliff

I was struggling to climb.

The more I tried,

the further I slipped.

But determination is a strong summon,

and when I took a moment

to combine it with time,

the cliff melted

and showed me the shining words within.

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End of year thoughts

I’m not one for New Year’s resolutions, because I have many long term goals that I’m simply going to keep working towards, so I thought I’d take a look back at the good things that have happened in 2017 instead.

I started out this year determined to be published before I was 27 (my actual words to everyone were ‘by the end of my 26th year’. Perhaps it sounded more achievable if I spoke about it like a prophecy). I had two ways to achieve this: find a literary agent and get a publishing contract VERY soon after, or approach a smaller publisher directly. Because I was impatient, and running out of time – this was a goal I’d set myself some years ago – I did both. For my older manuscripts, I sent them to small publishers, and for my newer ones, I sent them out to literary agents. While I had some interest from agents, none have taken it further so far, but as I recently finished editing one of my latest manuscripts, I can still query with that one. I did, however, have an offer from a small publisher for my middle-grade book, Unofficial Detective, with interest in its sequels, and that was published in late August. As my 27th birthday was in September, I just about achieved my goal of getting published before I reached that age. And I’m quite proud of that, even though it’s only the beginning!

I also really wanted to start a blog this year, and keep it up by posting regularly. Initially, I was going to write posts purely on writing and about my journey to publication – so detailing the query trenches, my work methods and habits – but the process of querying takes so long that it can be months before hearing back, meaning my posts on that subject would be few and downright boring. I decided to share some of my short stories and old, highly questionable poetry to fill space. Yet I soon ran out. So I had to write something new, and that’s when I discovered my love for writing poetry, which if you’ve been following this blog for a while, is probably what you see most of. As I tend to post everyday, I consider this particular goal fully achieved.

Starting a YouTube channel wasn’t something I’d planned to do from the beginning of the year, but in an attempt to increase my author platform, and because I love watching Booktube videos, I thought I’d try it out. What surprised me is how much I like doing it. It’s just nice to talk about books and express my enthusiasm. I don’t really get to do that otherwise (though my husband has recently got heavily into reading, so now we rave to each other about different books. Yay!).

On a non-book related topic, my husband and I moved and now have our own flat. It’s fantastic to finally have a space for just the two of us (four if you count our feathered family members). And it’s so peaceful. Considering we’d been living with my parents since getting hitched in 2013, this was a long time coming and very much overdue. My mood has increased dramatically, and I feel good about the future.

Which brings me to my final note of saying that over the last few days, my book has been doing rather well, reaching some of the highest rankings on Amazon that it’s had so far. Also, book two has been accepted by my publisher and the manuscript has been proofed, and I’ve been asked for ideas on what I want to feature on the cover. Which means that the book itself should be released early next year, hopefully around February or March, if all goes well.

So next year, I’m going to keep writing, keep blogging and keep striving to find a literary agent so I can get published by ‘the big guys’. More work, but work that I want to do, and I honestly wouldn’t dream of doing anything else.

Kat out.

Poetry

A slight roll.

Heads on shoulders:

pebbles atop broken

rocks,

half-carved into

torsos, arms, necks.

They roll down the ravine.

Suicide, you would think.

It’s not.

Instead – life.

A chip here,

a dent there.

They reach the bottom

battered.

Some unrecognizable.

They reach the bottom.

No longer caring

to go back to the top.