It’s that time of year when I’ve bought a new paper diary and start thinking about goals for next year. I’m looking backwards as well as forwards, peeling back the layers with the benefit of hindsight to work out where I should go next.
When the Covid pandemic arrived in the UK in March 2020, I was writing my third literary fiction novel. It had a dark theme about motherhood and was difficult to write in a year that included pandemic worries, lockdowns, homeschooling our children and our house being a building site. That literary fiction novel is still on my desktop.
In April 2021, I decided that I needed to switch gear and focus on something lighter. I wanted to write something where the heroine is saving the world, not just surviving it. I registered my Hanora Sky Press imprint in May 2021, and over the next 19 months I published my first Paranormal Women’s Fiction series, Druid Heir: Midlife Dawn, Book 1 (Oct 2021), Midlife Tremors, Book 2 (Nov 2021), Midlife News, Book 3 (Dec 2021), Midlife Drift, Book 4 (Mar 2022), Midlife Portals, Book 5 (Jun 2022), Midlife Eclipse, Book 6 (Aug 2022), Midlife Battle, Book 7 (Nov 2022). Additionally, I published two short stories and a bonus epilogue in the Druid Heir world.
In this period in which I’ve written more quickly and been more ambitious with my writing than ever before, what have I learned?
A good team makes things easier. This is the first time I’ve published under my own imprint. It was a steep learning curve managing the creativity, production, as well as business side. I couldn’t have done without the cheerleading of my husband or without Jeni Chappelle, my editor. Other key members of my team were my cover artist Maria Spada and my beta team, especially Debbie and Sherry. There are still elements of my process I am still learning – hello, ads! Or that I would like in place in the future like doing audiobooks and having a virtual assistant. All in good time.
Setting myself a challenge is important, but so is knowing my limits. While I am not a new novelist, my previous books were standalones. Druid Heir is my first series. At seven novels, it’s also a long one, with a big cast to manage. I wanted an intellectual challenge and that learning was taking place across all aspects of the business. Which creative elements resonate? Which business levers can I pull? My production schedule was fast and I found myself working evenings and weekends often. I need to minimise that in the future. Burn out is a real risk and everyone needs to replenish the well.
Book friends are brilliant. PWF is such a welcoming genre. I can’t tell you how much I’ve appreciated the authors and readers I have met along the way. Interaction with author friends choosing this path and with readers excited about my characters is uplifting.
Relax and receive. I haven’t looked up at the sky that much this year. I’ve been too busy squirrelling away and yearning for the series to find its audience. We chase goals thinking they will make us happy, but really, it’s the sense of being valued that we crave. That means I need a mindset shift. I’m proud of what I achieved. I would love to find even more readers. I believe if I put in the work, that will come. A friend said she now tries to focus less on goals and more on the question of what she wants her life to look like. That’s really important to hold onto.
So those are my lessons learned this year. What’s next from me, you might ask? I’m going to continue to focus on Paranormal Women’s Fiction as my primary genre. I am signed up to the Sweetly Spellbound anthology with an amazing line up of PWF and cozy authors and this will include a story from my new series. You can preorder here. I also plan to polish and finish the Literary Fiction novel on my drive. If you are interested in that darker strand of my work, set in the real world, you can sign up for infrequent news here.
The children break up from school today. We have a beta reader gift to take to the post office and then I’ll be snuggling up under a duvet with a notebook, my new diary, a set of colourful pens, and maybe do a little dream-boarding.
I hope as we enter the holiday season, when all is rushed and we put our energy into making the season special for others, that you carve out some time for joy for you, whether it’s reading or napping or family duvet days with cocoa.
Be well and write me a note with a lesson learned this year if you fancy it. I love hearing from you.