December 2023 Blog post.
December for me was always going to be about Christmas, getting ready, hanging up the decorations, parties, Carol Services and the Nativity, meeting up with family and knowing there will always be an empty chair at my table. But that’s life, so instead of recalling what my last four weeks have been like, I thought it only right to look back at 2023 and what it meant for me. I won’t talk about domesticity: the cooking, cleaning, washing, ironing, dog walking, gardening — makes me tired just thinking about it, so let’s have a look at my world of books and how I have improved my lot.
In January I made a decision to write Romance using the pen name: Emma Carney. I thought it would be fun to write some pornographic stuff and sell thousands of books. It didn’t take me long to realise I couldn’t do it. After about five pages of writing sexy stuff, I binned it. I’ve always believed in the mantra: Write as you can, not as you can’t, which meant porn was off the table for me. But the crazy thing was I managed to write three cozy Romance novels in five months. It usually takes me about a year to write a book, so three in five months was really pulling out all the stops. If you like heart-warming stories, you won’t be disappointed in the three titles: Happy Lies The Heart; The Girl With No Name and Chapel Acre. I thought at this point that I would write No.4, but for some inexplicable reason, I lost the momentum. It kind of saddened me in a way because I thought I was on a roll, but I hadn’t lost the desire to write; it was just a case of waiting for something to turn up.
Shortly after finishing the third book, I went up to London for the Self-Publishing Live Show at the South Bank. It’s a two day event with a party on the first evening at the Mad Hatter Pub. Naturally the pub was packed. I bumped into a young writer who I’d met the year before. Her name was Kay, ex-Army, and she had to use a crutch to get round. Bit difficult when your trying to mingle in a crowd and hold on to your beer at the same time. There were about 800 authors at the show from all over the world. I was even recognised by one of the show’s organisers when I walked through the doors. That put a smile on my face.
Although inspiration can come from listening to how some of the presenters at the show obtained the success they were enjoying, it’s like trying to catch lightning in a bottle if you think you can emulate them. But you can pick up some useful ideas and attempt to follow them through. I came back from London with Covid, so no inspiration for me!
The middle part of 2023 was flat for me with regard to my book world, but there were other small avenues to explore; not least the ‘Fun Day’ on the green here at Mill Farm. I had a table with my books, met a lot of lovely people and managed to sell about twenty five books; most of which were my Emma Carney Romances. I’ve done several book events before, most of them before I lost my lovely Pat, and it was nice to be back out there again. I’ve signed up for next year’s Fun Day as well.
As summer came in with all that heat, I took myself off to Lincolnshire to spend a couple of days with one of our friends from Spain: Pauline. Pat and I first met Pauline and her husband, Brian, about twenty five years ago. Brian died shortly after Pat. I brought Pauline and her little Chihuahua, Daisy, down here for a week or so, and then took her home. On the way back I got caught speeding in some little village and ended up having to attend a Speed Awareness Course here in Bognor Regis. That was fun. Oh, 34 mph in a 30 mph zone by the way.
And then I got inspired and began thinking about writing a book set in Occupied Paris in 1940. I started researching and bought a couple of second hand books, and I also renewed my library ticket for another book. I found the whole thing fascinating, particularly a book about the SOE heroines, many of whom gave their lives for us, murdered by the Nazis in the most horrific way. In fact, I’m going to the Minerva Theatre in Chichester next month to watch a talk on these women. It will be given by the local, well-known author, Kate Mosse.
I got on reasonably well with the book and completed about 17000 words before having to set it aside as other events began encroaching upon my free time. One of which was the Turkey and Tinsel holiday in Weymouth at the end of November. It was organised by one of our residents, Graham, and was for five days. I think I was the only single man on the bus. I know there were fourteen single rooms booked, so I presume all the others were ladies. I think I must have met all of them during the week. It was nice to get to know new people, see new faces and learn other people’s names, which makes you feel you are a little bit closer to being part of the community.
Back to my world of books and the hard part of promotion and marketing. I made the decision to put more effort into this; something I’ve always been rubbish at. My book sales on Amazon have virtually flat-lined for most of the year, meaning I really had to try harder. To that end, I started two campaigns: one under the guidance of Mark Dawson (SPF Live Show gaffer) through his excellent ‘Launchpad’ course. I didn’t have to pay for it because I’ve been with Mark for about six years now — a fully paid up member. The other campaign came about in a completely unexpected way: something I’ve always studiously avoided because of the cost. It is run by a small team of professionals and is expensive. However, both campaigns were started about the middle of November. Since then I have sold about 150 books in six weeks. Considering I’d done nothing for so long, this is a real uptick for me and gives me hope for 2024. All I have to do is keep the balls in the air and not let them drop.
So as I look ahead to next year, I hope to finish my next book, which will be called Shadow Over Paris, and also see myself make real, positive inroads into the world of books.
Wish me luck!
Happy New Year! xx