|With Sir Tim Rice and Wendy Clarke|
In January, I joined the Council of the SWWJ and agreed to re-vamp their Manuscript Appraisal service, and I have now taken on the role of competitions co-ordinator too! As a long-term member, I have always enjoyed attending SWWJ events, and being on Council now gives me more input in the planning and something to actually do (apart from chatting and eating) while I am there! During 2015, thanks to my new role, I have had drinks on the House of Commons terrace, attended a wonderful lunch party at the National Liberal Club, and had tea with Sir Tim Rice. Lovely!
As a member of the Romantic Novelists Association’s New Writers Scheme, I have enjoyed some lively social events and interesting talks too, and in the Autumn I received my best ever ‘reader’s report’ for my most recently completed novel, which was described as already reading just like a published book. Shame that the first publisher I then sent it to didn’t seem to agree! Still, it’s early days and that novel has already been submitted elsewhere.
Short story successes have continued to come in, with stories appearing in The People’s Friend and Woman’s Weekly, and my first appearance in a My Weekly annual (2016 edition, but published a few months ago). And I still write regularly for Practical Pre-School magazine on my specialist subject of working and reading with young children, with at least one, and often two or three, articles in each monthly issue.
I also started my new crossword venture this year. Having loved doing cryptic crosswords for many years and seeing my book selling so well (despite a problem with lost royalties which the publisher still hasn’t managed to sort out after many months of trying), I thought it was time I started compiling some of my own. Since making that decision, I have seen my writing themed crosswords in print in the SWWJ in-house magazine and online at Kishboo magazine, and have compiled several personalised crosswords for clients as birthday and Christmas gifts for their friends and family. I intend to do a lot more of that in 2016.
I have continued to make new writer and reader friends throughout 2015, both in person at writerly events, and through facebook and twitter, and this year I launched my own facebook author page to try to separate the writing stuff from the personal. It gained over 100 likes in only four days, which I was very happy about, and I will continue to update the page whenever I have writing news.
The highlight of the year though, in writing terms at least, was when literary agent Hannah Ferguson offered to represent me and my novel 'After I Leave Her', and the excitement of seeing the novel being sent out to, and talked about by, lots of the top publishing houses in the UK. We had a great meeting with an editor who showed every sign of being about to ‘take me on’, until her finance and marketing colleagues decided not to go ahead. That has to rank as the greatest disappointment of the year… from high to absolute low in one easy step!
On a more personal note, 2015 saw one daughter graduate with a merit in her Masters degree (lovely ceremony at Westminster Hall), while the other started a new nursing job and a Masters degree of her own. My oldest schoolfriend celebrated her ruby wedding anniversary, although the celebrations were marred by the unexpected death of her aunt who was travelling from America for the party and died en-route. And Paul and I, more than a year after our wedding, finally found a house we both liked enough to rush to the estate agents and start the ball rolling for a house move early in 2016.
But the best thing that happened this year, or in just about any year, was the birth of my first grandchild – the adorable Penny. Watching her grow and develop, and listening to her little giggle is a real joy, and spending time with her is the only thing I will willingly leave the laptop for.
|Penny meets Santa!|
Wishing everybody - writers, readers, family and friends - a very Merry Christmas and a happy and prosperous 2016.