2020 has to go down in recent history as one of the worst years, for reasons we all know. Despite all the doom and gloom in the world, the endless months of hardship and uncertainty, people got inventive. They found new ways to work and socialise. Some took the opportunity to learn a new skill or hobby, or to revisit long forgotten ones. For me, it was a time to pull myself together and not let the depression sink in. After all, my main sources of income had been snatched away and I was left with the sinking feeling that I would never be able to make ends meet.
Though it is by no means a main source of income for me (at the moment) writing seems to take up the majority of my time. At least it did in 2020. With no choir to run, no singing students and no gigs, I found myself constantly at my laptop, either writing or editing. Needless to say, the year went by in a frenzy of words, typos, documents, editing, files, folders and submissions.
By the end of the year, I had self-published a book I'd previously written in my pen name, Rosa Temple (Dear...Anybody? came out in digital format in the spring), had finished editing the next Rosa Temple book and had written a women's fiction novel in my own name. Also by the end of the year I managed to get back the copyright of my debut novel, Holding Paradise. After an edit of that book, it is now with my agent who hopes to submit it to publishers this year. Then there are the two manuscripts I submitted to independent publishers. One submission was a novella and the other a full length novel - both written a few years ago.
That's an awful lot of irons in the fire.
I do have high hopes for my writing going forward in 2021. I'm of the opinion that things are only going to get better and I that I should be hoping for and expecting a brighter year.
Next on the agenda, I plan to re-visit another novel I wrote back in 2015. That in itself will be a huge undertaking. I envisage myself 'killing my darlings' for the next few months and hoping I have an improved novel as a result.
My hope for my writing in 2021 is that I have success; submissions accepted, amazing book sales, even a best seller!
I'm dreaming big for 2021, sending out the positive vibes and knuckling down to some more writing.
Wishing you all a Happy New Year!
The Lamplighters by Emma Stonex
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This is probably my top read for 2020! I was carried away by the intrigue surrounding this story, the way in which the author developed her characters and the way it was paced. The settings and drama were so compelling, at times I felt a chill when reading and was absorbed by the narrative from start to finish. I absolutely recommend this novel to anyone who likes twists, a great use of descriptive language and a story that will stay with you for a long time after the closing lines.
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Two firsts for me; listening to my first audio book and discovering the writing talent of Stella Oni!
In Deadly Sacrifice, Oni creates a world of intrigue, crime and ritual sacrifice. And if that isn't thrilling enough, how about discovering traditional Nigerian customs and delving into the world of human trafficking.
The protagonist, DC Toks Ade, a British-Nigerian woman stops at nothing to unravel the truth when a child's severed hand is found and we learn that a young child has been reported missing.
I found this a chilling and well paced debut. We follow Ade's investigations and begin to learn more about her as person. The supporting characters, such as her partner and author friend, also have stories that weave into the main narrative and add the mystery.
As debuts go, I found this well written and absorbing. All of Oni's characters have depth and completely jump off the page at you. Because I listened to this on audio I had to focus, because a lot happens and I didn't want to miss a beat. I like to try to guess 'whodunnit' when I'm reading a crime novel, but this one certainly had me guessing until the end.
A highly recommended read and I'll be looking out for the follow up!
A long time ago, I read something about positive affirmations. The book I was reading was all about detoxing, but it wasn't one of those crazy fad diet books that everyone was into at one point. You know the ones I mean? Cabbage diets, cucumber diets, apple diets. Crazy stuff that people stick to for about a morning and then get bored and give up. This book took an holistic approach to detoxing because it encouraged you to detox your mind as well as your body.
That might be a little far-fetched and crazy to some, at first, but if you continue reading, I'll tell you why it wasn't. At least, not for me.
When I first started taking my writing, made the mistake of telling people I was writing a book and automatically gave myself pressure I didn't need. So, I was writing a book? Who cares? No one, until the book is written and you need to prove to yourself that this book is a significant piece of work and that it matters.
The only way I knew of making my book matter was to get it published. Writing a novel isn't a selfish act. As writers we want to get our stories out there. In the beginning, for me, the publishing industry was scary, it was vast and, at times, unfathomable. I researched my socks off and found various directions I could take; get an agent, submit to publishing houses, self- publish (a minefield in itself).
As I began the process I faltered many times. I backed out of writing query letters, I made lists of agents and then cast them aside, I read success stories and yet I still felt lost and uncertain. I was convinced that editors and agents would laugh my query letter into the nearest bin and that someone would click DELETE after reading the first line of my novel. I was so insecure about my writing you wouldn't believe.
Then I remembered that book. Especially the section that spoke of positive affirmations and self-belief. Without self-belief and positive thinking how was I going to convince anyone to take me seriously?
The book spoke of positive affirmations. And if you don't know what they are, a positive affirmation is a statement or phrase that affirms a positive message, eliminating negative doubts. For example: I am a good writer who has a good story to tell. Now fill in your own positive affirmation. It doesn't have to be about writing, of course. Positive thinking can be applied to most situations in you life.
We all have doubts and we're human, they will come up again and again in our lives. In order for me to overcome them I look at the things that are blocking my way forward; the negative doubts, and I form a statement that blurs them and takes them away.
Of course affirmations are not magic. They won't win you the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction but how will you come anywhere close if you don't believe in yourself?
It is a rare person who starts an artistic project and keeps on going until they know they have completed their work. I say this because I like to think I'm in the majority, that I am one of these people who tend to procrastinate n the middle of a project, lose my way or lose confidence. Please tell me I'm not alone!
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