Reading, Writing & Blogging in 2021 PLUS January’s Books of the Month from @alison_morton @Beathhigh @PeterAlanRoss @CarrieElks #writing #reading #crimefiction #romanticfiction #nonfiction #motivation

Staying motivated in spite of everything

Welcome back to the blog and to my first post of 2021 – and I’d like to start by wishing all my readers A Happy and Healthy New Year.

So new year, new plans. But if 2020 taught us anything it’s probably that plans are just that. They are dreams, aims and intentions we set for the future. But they do not come with any form of guarantee of fulfilment.

However, that doesn’t mean we should stop dreaming, hoping and planning. After all, we humans are nothing if not adaptable. The last year has certainly taught us that. It has also shown that we can be amazingly resilient, self-reliant and compassionate. So, let’s keep all of that in mind as we set off into our still rather uncertain futures.

And most of all let’s try and remember that that compassion we know we’re capable of is extended first and foremost to ourselves. It’s like the oxygen mask principle – you have to ensure your own wellbeing before you can help others or indeed yourself.

So when making plans cut your self some slack. If life gets in the way of renovating the house, taking that course, seeking that promotion, losing that weight, – em, writing that novel 😊 – DO NOT BEAT YOURSELF UP! Adapt the aims, change the timescale, reset the focus and set off again.

Now, full disclosure, all of the above advice is something I’m not very good at taking on board. If beating yourself up was an Olympic sport I’d have a gold medal in it. But my takeaway from all of the past year’s challenges is I need to let go of the tablet of stone approach and embrace the sheet of paper that can be torn up and thrown away. Do you like that metaphor by the way? Can you guess I’m a writer? 😊

Yes, there was slippage in my writing schedule last year. I did get my fifth novel out but as far as getting down to the next one, my concentration was pathetic for several months. In the end I had to allow myself to step away from it all for a bit and to go back when I was ready. And that’s what I’ve done.

And now I’ve found a new and much more productive way of approaching my work. I’ve set myself publication targets that are completely flexible, with lots of possible timeout built in, and I’m prepared to re-set them if necessary. Instead of a daily word count I’ve set aside a time target – anything from three hours to half an hour. If it goes on beyond the time set, great, but if not I’ll still have achieved something – even if it was only turning up. This doesn’t mean I do nothing else the rest of the time. I might be planning a chapter or taking care of the business side of writing and publishing, or indeed writing a blog post.

And you know what? It’s working. Not only am I cracking on with the novel, I’m also writing a novellla, and in time away from the desk I’m getting my daily walk (ice and snow permitting), keeping in virtual touch with friends and family , and doing some childcare looking after one of my grandchildren while her parents work.

So, so far so good for 2021.

Another element of the ‘new writing me’ is that I’ve decided to reduce my blogging frequency to once a month rather than once a week – in order to free up some time for my other projects. So from now on I’ll post on the last Monday of every month and the post will include my favourite reads of that month.

January’s Books of the Month

I’ve set an intention to read more widely this year, to get out of my romantic comfort zone more often and read more thrillers, crime novels and non-fiction. I’m also hoping to reread some old faithfuls.

I think I’ve got of to a good start and January has included a variety of reading genres. Here are my favourites for this month:


West Wind by Ian Rankin

It always starts with a small lie. That’s how you stop noticing the bigger ones.

After his friend suspects something strange going on at the launch facility where they both work – and then goes missing – Martin Hepton doesn’t believe the official line of “long-term sick leave”…

Refusing to stop asking questions, he leaves his old life behind, aware that someone is shadowing his every move.

The only hope he has is his ex-girlfriend Jill Watson – the only journalist who will believe his story.

But neither of them can believe the puzzle they’re piecing together – or just how shocking the secret is that everybody wants to stay hidden…

A gripping, page-turning suspense masterclass – available in print for the first time in nearly thirty years.


A Tomb With a View by Peter Ross

Enter a grave new world of fascination and delight as award-winning writer Peter Ross uncovers the stories and glories of graveyards. Who are London’s outcast dead and why is David Bowie their guardian angel? What is the remarkable truth about Phoebe Hessel, who disguised herself as a man to fight alongside her sweetheart, and went on to live in the reigns of five monarchs? Why is a Bristol cemetery the perfect wedding venue for goths?

All of these sorrowful mysteries – and many more – are answered in A Tomb With A View, a book for anyone who has ever wandered through a field of crooked headstones and wondered about the lives and deaths of those who lie beneath.

So push open the rusting gate, push back the ivy, and take a look inside…


Double Identity by Alison Morton

Deeply in love, a chic Parisian lifestyle before her. Now she’s facing prison for murder.

It’s three days since Mel des Pittones threw in her job as an intelligence analyst with the French special forces to marry financial trader Gérard Rohlbert. But her dream turns to nightmare when she wakes to find him dead in bed beside her.

Her horror deepens when she’s accused of his murder. Met Police detective Jeff McCracken wants to pin Gérard’s death on her. Mel must track down the real killer, even if that means being forced to work with the obnoxious McCracken.

But as she unpicks her fiancé’s past, she discovers his shocking secret life. To get to the truth, she has to go undercover—and finds almost everybody around her is hiding a second self.

Mel can trust nobody. Can she uncover the real killer before they stop her?


Baby I’m Yours by Carrie Elks

Two tiny lines will change everything…

Doctor James Tanner is gorgeous, successful and decisively single.
He’s also a widower with a broken heart.
So when he meets a beautiful woman on a fateful night out, their chemistry shocks him to the core.

Harper Hayes is irresistible.
With her pink-tipped hair and tantalizing smile, she makes him forget all his pain.

One night together won’t hurt, will it?
One night to get her out of his system.
Then he’ll leave in the morning without a backward glance.

But actions have consequences, and this one will change both their lives forever.
And when Harper sees those two little lines she knows exactly what that means.
Now she just needs to find the man who left her alone in bed after their one night together.

What a shame she doesn’t even know his name…

And that’s it for January. What have been your favourite reads this month? How are you finding 2021 so far? Have you made any plans? If so what? Are you managing to stay motivated?

Please do share any comments/responses below.

Till next time, stay safe, stay sane and stay in touch.

13 thoughts on “Reading, Writing & Blogging in 2021 PLUS January’s Books of the Month from @alison_morton @Beathhigh @PeterAlanRoss @CarrieElks #writing #reading #crimefiction #romanticfiction #nonfiction #motivation

  1. Thanks for this uplifting post. I wish you all the best in 2021. We have to take it as it is. The blogging community saved me last year as it was the only socializing I did. Take care and stay safe my friend.

  2. Hi Anne, your post tells an oh so familiar story for many in the writing world. I always read a lot of non-fiction and re-read Georgette Heyer’s Regency World by jennifer Koestler last year when I was re-reading the fiction. At the moment I have a book about Orkney archeology on the go and Alison Lurie’s book about the language of clothes. Last thing, I’m re-reading Jane Austen – currently in Mansefield Park. Anne

  3. A good, heartening post, Anne. And thank you for making Double Identity one of your January favourites. I hadn’t heard of Ian Rankin’s Westwind, so another thank you. I’ve just ordered it.

  4. Hi Anne, What an inspiring post. I’m glad you found a way to make your writing schedule go a little easier. Time management is so difficult. Congratulations on getting so many books published. You have done it all – read and reviewed and written, written, written. The pandemic got me back into blogging and I feel more relaxed and enjoy it a lot more. I have a monthly feature called Story Chat I’d love to have you write a short story- 500-1,000 words for May. After I publish an author’s original story, I summarize the comments and publish a second post about the story. It’s been a lot of fun. Check it out. Thanks for the great post here. 🙂 Have a great February.

    • Hi Marsha, thank you so much for your lovely comments. Your short story feature looks great and I’d be delighted to take part in May. If you could send me an email via the contact form here on my website and that will let me have your contact details and we can take it from there. You have a good February too.

  5. Good advice, Anne. I’ve found writing in longhand gets my brain in gear and I don’t care about making mistakes/writing rubbish that way – it can be sorted when I type it up.

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