My Writing Year – 2021

Most of my time over the past couple of years has been spent in fictional worlds, which might sound peculiar but has for me, been a blessing. As an author I’ve found it easier than many people to accept national and international travel restrictions. Late in the year I fitted in trips up to Scotland and across to Amsterdam. In both cases I witnessed a different real world from before Covid 19.

I started my writing year as usual, with targets. Four new titles was always going to be ambitious, but without ambition, there’s little point in setting goals. Next Steps: and other stories, Sylvia: Beyond the Apocalypse, Codename: Foxglove, and Crusader were all in the line-up. Of those, only Crusader remains a Work in Progress.

What else filled my time?

A challenge I’d set myself was to produce my mainstream titles in paperback, which created a lot of work. The task was accomplished. A secondary job was to publish my short stories in paperback but not include tales from my anthologies which had been submitted by guest authors.

To cut a long story short, if you’ll pardon the pun, I had eighty tales which I mixed to produce four volumes of twenty short stories. My aim here was multi-faceted:

– produce books which were value for money for readers.

– an approximately equal word count.

– a mix of genre but without erotica.

– all my own work.

Did I maintain any other author interests?

As always, I filled in many hours reading, reviewing, beta-reading for fellow members of the IASD, and mentoring a couple of aspiring authors.

Apart from those things I offered my services to my pseudonym — Katya Cumming. For her part, she produced five new titles. Her books are slightly shorter than mine but have plenty of action, albeit for a different taste. Five may sound like a lot, but they are written over a longer time period because most are based on notes and short story ideas from over the years.

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Do I believe I’ve had a productive writing year?

Yes, I do, and as we all look forward to 2022, I’m content with the titles I have planned. One of next year’s stories is Selena: Sea Nymph, my first attempt at sci-fi paranormal fantasy. The first five chapters are available for reading and comments in my Work in Progress menu.

Not to be outdone, Katya also has more titles lined up.

I already know how most of my author’s year will be spent in 2022, and 2023, so I’ll drop a hint with my New Writing Year blog in January 2022.

Comments and suggestions are welcome as always, and thank you for taking the time to read my blog.

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Work in Progress

WIP on a ferry.

“It’s a Work in Progress,” a person says, but what do they mean?

For the handyman, it might be the new light fitting, which is presently hanging, disconnected from a wall.

For the gardener, it might be the new vegetable patch which is presently an oblong of overturned earth in a corner.

It is many things to different people, but none, in my opinion can utilise that phrase quite like an author. Of course, I’m biased—I’m an author, so the manipulation of words and the reader’s thought process are my craft. Let’s look at my ‘Work in Progress’.

Codename: Foxglove. This is presently in excess of 60k words and going well. It is a crime thriller which will see the conclusion of the Beyond The Law trilogy and spinoffs.

Crusader. Another crime thriller, introducing a new protagonist who starts the story as a police detective. The first chapter is written and the second is a group of passages which are not yet joined.

Constance. This is where artistic licence comes in. Unusually, this will be a sequel to a story not yet written. It is to be the follow-up to Crusader. In this case I have passages ready to create the first chapter.

Selena: Sea Nymph. My first attempt at sci-if/paranormal/fantasy, and therefore, I’m pleased that the first chapter is presently in three passages. They’re not yet set in the best sequence and that can prove challenging.

Enough? Not by a long way. I may have ceased producing erotica under my own name, but using my pen-name, Katya Cumming, there are six titles in the wings. A novel, an anthology and four novellas.

Why have so much on the go?

Two words—stress reduction.

When an idea comes to mind, I’m sure many authors continue with their latest story, (the primary Work in Progress), but at the back of their mind they might have the occasional distracting thought about another idea.

It was when this first happened to me several years ago that I sat with a coffee staring at my machine contemplating how to conquer the irritation. “Start them as they come to mind,” I told myself aloud. I never have ‘writer’s block’, and knowing that I have a wide range of projects ready to be addressed isn’t frustrating—I relax in the knowledge that I can go from one ‘world’ to the next on a day to day basis if I wish.

And now, dear reader, you know why I believe that authors can stretch that phrase better than most … after all, whatever the project, it is still a Work in Progress.

Thank you for taking the time to check out my thought. Comments are welcome.

Tom