What I Wrote and Had Published in 2019

In 2017, I wrote 146,000 words. Then, in 2018, I wrote an entirely different 146,000 words.

2019, however, I upped my game by twenty-thousand to arrive at a grand total of 166,000 words!

That’s across twenty-three poems, fifty blog posts, essays, reports, memoir, short stories, flash fiction, drabbles, fan fiction, and novel work.

I completed a novel in 2019 – the second in my trilogy – and I wrote a little towards book three. I wrote a children’s picture book. I finished off three fanfic works in progress that had been left abandoned for way too long, and wrote an entirely new fanfic from start to finish at a total of 28,000 words. That’s pretty much a novella.

I shared my children’s book with actual children at an event Liz Weir MBE was doing at the freshly opened Mo Mowlam Park, part of Libraries NI’s Big Summer Read. I read at events part of the Armagh Food & Cider Festival,  Belfast Culture Day, and the C.S. Lewis Festival. And I facilitated a short story showcase at Books, Paper, Scissors.

I was one of the recipients of a Kit de Waal Flash Fiction Bursary for the 2019 Bridport Prize.

I won a Margaret Carey Scholarship to attend the 2019 annual SCBWI conference.

I had one poem published in a book, and four poems published in online journals.

I had two short stories published online, with one of them also due to come out in print format later this year.

As I look back on 2019, I could very easily focus on the fact that I didn’t get an agent or a publishing deal for my novel. But just look at all the things I did achieve! It wasn’t the most perfect writing year ever, but I think it might just be my best one yet.

I am feeling good for all that is ahead 🙂

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2019: A Year in Review

I started 2019 by telling myself I would get up early and do all of my work each day in a routine. Naturally, I had all the best intentions in the world. And, somewhat unsurprisingly, it didn’t last long at all. Later, I would discover that the problems I’ve always had with sleep and fatigue were actual medical conditions, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

In February, my husband and I celebrated our second wedding anniversary and in March I turned thirty.

April saw me finishing the first draft of my second novel, as funded by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland.

I also cut way back on my voluntary work (again) and ‘Kon Mari’-ed our house.

In May, I visited Dublin for a publishing conference and in June I attended a different publishing conference here in Belfast.

July was CampNaNoWriMo, in which I wrote 25,000 words, and most of August, for me, was spent editing a novel for a client. Then, in September, I finally – at long, long last – went back to school (/college) and started studying again.

Oh, and I also wrote a children’s picture book in there somewhere, but I will come back and talk about writerly things in a separate post.

In October, I returned to Dublin for DeptCon5: Ireland’s Biggest Young Adult Convention, which was a super fun (if somewhat tiring) weekend. THEN, at the very start of November, I was off to England for SCBWI’s 2019 conference. Coming back from that, I got stuck into NaNoWriMo proper.

I was sick for a week before the England trip and for about a week after. Then I was sick for two days around the middle of the month. And, finally, as December hit and we headed towards Christmas: lo and behold, I got sick again.

It’s fair to say things have been manic, but they’re kind of always manic. It’s the nature of life. Or, at least, my life. (Click here to read my review of 2018, for comparison, if you want.)

What do I hope for 2020? Well… wait and see. I have a separate post on that very topic planned, too 🙂

Thank you to everyone who’s been following me along so far!

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A Year of Unexpected Things

I like to wait until the very last week in December before sharing review posts like this because, if you’re not at the absolute end of the year, who knows what still might happen? Prime example: two days after Christmas last year, my husband and I acquired a dog. This was completely unplanned, to the degree that if you had asked us thirty minutes prior to it happening if we were getting another pet we would have looked at you funny and wondered where you got such an idea.

Following on this theme of life throwing unexpected curve balls, at the end of 2017 I shared a post in which I said I had a new teaching job lined up for 2018 and had been put in charge of organising Women Aloud NI’s 2018 ‘in-train’ recital for International Women’s Day. Well, right off the bat, I was hit with the unforeseen circumstance of getting ill. I had to cancel my first class and the recital didn’t happen thanks to the train selling out all its tickets to eager rugby fans within a couple of hours of them going online.

January rolled into February, then on into March and I was still sick, facing minor surgery, but also on the verge of finishing my novel. Then, during CampNaNo in April, I took the final step and actually did finish it, which left me in the great position of having a writing mentor look over it in May. My husband and I travelled to Derry and I met with Felicity McCall who gave me really encouraging feedback.

I had applied to teach a second term at the Crescent Arts Centre and been given the go-ahead only for it to end up cancelled at the last minute due to not enough people signing up. I taught a one-off, day-long workshop and didn’t put in a proposal for a third term.

During this time, I also had my very first fertility appointment and began trying to lose weightContinue reading

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What I Wrote in 2017

It took me some time, but I now have a typed record of everything I wrote last year, and I can tell you it all totals one-hundred-and-forty-six-thousand (146,000) words (rounded figure). That equates to a decent sized novel.

For context and comparison, it’s quite a bit more than Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, and a bit less than Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (which are 107,253 and 168,923 words, respectively – source for that info. here).

On average, it’s 400 words per day, which is just shy of the 500 words per day that Ernest Hemingway wrote during his life (source).

So, this blog post can be summarized by me saying I’m basically the Ernest Hemingway of Harry Potter. Except, you know, nothing like that at all.

A lot of the words I wrote were towards my novel, but most of them were scattered across a lot of other projects, including 42 blog posts, 80 poems, 20 pieces of flash fiction, a hefty amount of fan fiction (as always), and non-fiction (reports and memoir).

All of the blog posts made it into the world (most of them here on this very website), the fan fiction was all published, and some of the flash fiction got shared online, too, while most of the poems form the second micropoetry collection I’m working on.

I had a poem published in print as part of an Arlen House anthology, had two-and-a-half short stories published in anthologies by Belfast Writers’ Group, a poem published on the website of the Imagine Festival, a short story in an anthology by A New Ulster, and another one published by ANU in their regular journal. (Full list of publishing credits for all years here).

I’d say that’s pretty good output for a year that threw me more than a few curve balls. We’ll have to wait and see how the rest of 2018 pans out for comparison.

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Reviewing 2017 & Making 2018 Resolutions

There is so much I could say in this post, about lots of good and bad and trying things that have happened this year, but I’ve already spoken about many of those things in lots of different other places, both as they happened and after the fact – yes, I’m a serial reflector, I confess! – and I’m going to cover what I wrote and what I had published in a separate blog post in the new year, so let’s talk resolutions. I started 2017 with six of them:

  • Get married
  • Read 50 books
  • Join the Society of Authors
  • Get a literary agent
  • and a cat
  • Take an official proofreading course

Getting Married – I did that. It was awesome! Probably enough said 🙂

In terms of books – my Goodreads goal for 2017 was 50 and (as of an hour ago, when I finished a collection of stories by Dr Suess) my total is 57. Of that, there was the usual mix of genres and formats. Audible tells me I listened to 12,760 minutes of audiobooks this year, and my most active day for listening were Sundays, apparently. My reading goal for 2018 is 52.

I didn’t join the Society of Authors or get a literary agent, so those goals have moved to 2018. But I did get a cat and (as a complete surprise to me as well as you), I ended up getting a dog as well! Giles (pictured above; bottom right) has been with us less than a week and having the time of his little life.

The proofreading course I mentioned is something I keep changing my mind about. Part of me wants to do it, but then there are other things that would be of more use to me that I want to do more, so it’s nothing I’ve followed up on thus far. It would be nice to have, but if I never complete it I won’t exactly feel sad.

Things of a higher priority on my ‘to do’ list currently are getting my driver’s license and eating a bit more healthily. I’m not intending to go on a diet, exactly, but I do want to take better care of my body.

Those are pretty much my plans for the new year. I guess we’ll see how it goes!

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A Long, Long Year

I want to write an update on life and writing and everything quite literally in between, but I’m having trouble knowing where to start…

Flicking through past blog posts, I can see that NaNoWriMo last year didn’t quite go to plan for me. After that, in December 2016, I tried to take a break. That didn’t quite work out either. I’d been so heavily involved in client work, I’d built up a ton of momentum and found the sudden stop incredibly jarring.

Next, the come-down happened. Burn out from doing too much for too long hit me once I finally stopped and took a breath. I think I allowed myself three whole breaths before New Year hit and I was right back to expecting the world from myself.

I wanted to hit 2017 running but found that I couldn’t go straight back into top gear having stopped the engine for a bit. So I beat myself up for a while, wrote a couple of stirring blog posts about how I was determined to do better. And then I got married, which of course was wonderful but also a bit of a whirlwind that left my head spinning. Months of building up to a single event can kind of have that effect.

Home from honeymoon, I told myself ‘this is it, time to be serious now, get back to work for real.’ So I threw myself into the Women Aloud NI events in March. I had a birthday, and then a little bit of a breakdown in which I admitted to the world just how sick my new husband was/is and how burnt out I was still feeling.

I carried on caring for him, and battling the government on his behalf, and trying to keep up the level of client work I’d been doing before, and trying to write and everything else. And the writing was pushed to the side because I didn’t have the time or the energy, and I felt worse and worse about that. (Writing keeps me sane, I swear. When I can’t do it, I really come apart at the seams.)

During that time – May until like September – client work became increasingly stressful and time-consuming to the point where I snapped and couldn’t do it anymore. I had pushed aside practically all of my clients to work on one main contract and it became too much, so I quit, leaving myself with no income from my business.

I actually stopped operating as a business somewhere along the line, knowing that I needed to focus on my craft as an artist.

The lead singer of my favourite band died during this time, too. A big part of the band that had got me through my teenage years without killing myself killed himself. It hit me like a ton of bricks. I could barely think, much less write.

Then a big relief came when my husband won his welfare appeals, and we finally were able to get the pet we’ve always wanted.

And then I got swept up in launching Belfast Writers’ Group’s two new short story anthologies.

And now I’m here, about to start NaNoWriMo 2017. I had hoped that I would be going into this year’s writing challenge with the backing of the Arts Council, but I have just gotten word that they have turned down my application for funding.

So, I’m going to redraft my novel anyway; not doing much client work or taking a wage besides. I am going to write and relax and try not to traverse any further into burn out territory.

Not gonna lie, I’m exhausted before I even begin this next leg of my journey. Please, please wish me luck.

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End of Year Reading and Writing Audit 2016

Before I let myself get too carried away with excitement for the new year, I thought I should wrap up the one that’s coming to a close. For context and comparison, here is my ‘year in review’ post from 2015.

Earlier in 2016, you might remember I carried out what I called a “literary audit.” Since then, I’ve been keeping much better track of what I write. It’s been good to look back and it certainly makes posts like this a heck of a lot easier! Anyway, without further ado…

This month I wrote 4,000 words. During the entire year, I wrote over 100,000 – can’t say exactly because, like I said, I only started taking note part way through the year (it was 95,000 words total, April – December). I do know I wrote 55,000 words of fanfic (January – December) and a hell of a lot of poetry.

December saw me devouring four audiobooks, a Kindle short, and a novel-length fanfic, leaving my books read for the year at 54 (off a goal of 45). Goodreads have laid all my stats out in a handy chart, here.

Personal Highlights for Twenty Sixteen:

Finally, 2017 Goals:

  • Get married
  • Read 50 books
  • Join the Society of Authors
  • Get a literary agent
  • and a cat
  • Take an official proofreading course

Also: In a bid to catch up on my ‘to be read’ pile, I’ve decided to not buy any new books for the first six months of 2017. I can still loan out books from the library, however, and I’m allowing myself to continue getting one audiobook a month during this time.

I am so excited for this!

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2015: A Year in Review

Engagement RingSince re-launching this website way back in January, I have written forty-seven blog posts (including this one). That’s way more than I’ve written, across the three separate blogs I used to run, in the last few years combined.

Also this year, I’ve written just over ninety thousand words of fan fiction, and a totally unknown amount of other words in poetry, and novels, short stories etc (the fanfic word count is a lot easier to keep track of).

With regards reading, my final stats for the year sit at a total of forty-six books read off a forty-book target.

In the month of December, I listened to one audiobook (You’re Never Weird on the Internet… Almost, by Felicia Day), read two novel-length fanfics, finished a third, finished The Horologicon, and read Where She Went cover to cover.

In 2015, I re-released Wake as a second edition, released Four Season Summer and Season’s End in a combined paperback edition, had a book launch for that paperback, received awards for my fan fiction, entered writing competitions, re-launched my YouTube channel, took part in April’s CampNaNoWriMo, July’s Camp NaNo, and the official National Novel Writing month in November.

Meanwhile, in my personal life, I took a few more trips to England, met the love of my life, and got engaged. All that considered, I think it’s been a pretty great year. Roll on 2016!

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