New Month, New Season, New Beginnings: A look forward and back #writing #reading @AngelaBritnell @portybelle

I like September. Here in the northern hemisphere it marks the start of autumn and autumn is most definitely my favourite time of year. I always enjoying going for a walk but autumn walks are the best.  I love the autumn colours of the leaves, the soft light, the cooler air. And who can resist tramping through those piles of falling leaves as if you were five years old again?

Writing News

I also find that a new month and a new season help me to focus on my writing plans as I tend to sketch out my aims and targets on a monthly and quarterly basis. It’s also a good time to reflect on what I achieved in my previous planning period(s).

Looking back

The looking back part has been particularly rewarding at this point as I achieved two things at the writing desk that I’m proud of.

Newsletter all set up

The first of those was getting my author newsletter set up – something that was a lot of hard work, a steep learning curve and something I’d wanted to do for a long time. So, isn’t this blog enough? I hear you ask. Why have a newsletter? Good questions. Responses below.

Well, firstly, no, the blog isn’t enough – much as I love it. It’s enough as far as fulfilling my aims in setting up. Those aims being to write about my recent reading and writing experiences and to share my reflections on those and occasionally other matters too. I see the blog as a sort of collection of magazine type articles and a chronicle of my life as a reader and writer.

Secondly, an author newsletter is a different thing. It is more specific and it is more tightly focussed. The audience consists of the readers of my books. The content is based on my books – the ones already published, the one I’m currently working on, and my future writing plans. Recipients of the newsletter get a free book on signing up, as well as ongoing occasional special offers, giveaways, sneak peeks into my work-in-progress. It’s a chance for me to get to know the readers of my contemporary romances and for them to get to know a bit more about me.

The newsletter is already proving to be a rewarding thing to do. It’s so good to have this direct link with my loyal audience and my only regret is that I didn’t do it sooner.

If you haven’t signed up to get my monthly letter in your inbox and you’d like to, just click HERE and yes, you will be rewarded for doing so with a free book – a collection of some of my short romantic stories.

New Book

The second thing I’m proud of achieving recently is of course the publication of my latest romance novel, Baby Steps. It was my most successful launch to date, sales have been good and the feedback I’ve received has been great. Yeah! You can read what it’s about HERE and you can buy it HERE

You can also read a guest post I did on the wonderful Portybelle’s book blog HERE about how this latest novel took me surprise and wasn’t at all what I planned to write.

Looking Forward

New book, new series, lots of planning

I’m now busy writing the next book. As it’s the first in a completely new series set in the Scottish Borders, there’s been a lot of planning to do. I’ve had to map out a fictional farm, village and town. I’ve had to think about who will be the main characters in subsequent books in the series and there’s also been a fair bit of research to do as well.

But with that all done, I can now crack on with Happiness Cottage and to tell the story of Lori and Aidan.

Reading

As usual I’ve done a lot of reading in the last month – mostly romances and mostly very good reads. So as always it was difficult to choose one as book of the month. But I did it. No surprises that it was a romance novel. It was a perfect summer read.

Summer at Seaspray Cottage by Angela Britnell

What would you do if you inherited a Cornish cottage by the sea?
If you’re Thea Armitage, sell it as soon as possible. Whilst there’s no denying that Seaspray Cottage has its charm, it just holds too many bad memories for Thea to consider keeping it – although at least spending the summer preparing it for sale gives her a distraction from troubles back home in Tennessee.
What Thea didn’t count on was her worst Cornish memory moving in right next door. Local bad boy Harry Venton played no small part in Thea’s decision never to return to Cornwall twenty years before – and now he’s her neighbour! Could things get any worse?
Except Harry isn’t the boy he was, and as Thea comes to realise that her opinion of him was built on lies and misunderstandings, perhaps things will start looking up for her summer at Seaspray Cottage …

Reflecting

In a world that can sometimes seem rather bleak thank goodness for the escape provided by books. Happy reading everyone!

Your comments are welcome below. Feel free to share your own reading and writing reflections and to share this post.

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:

THRILLER

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.

NON-FICTION

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…

CRIME

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?

ROMANCE

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.