New year, new… lots of things!

Last year turned out to be not at all the year I thought it would be. Lots of decisions & changes, and often when it came to those decisions I ultimately took the opposite path from what I would have predicted a few months earlier…

‘Year of the House’ at Lindsey Towers.

We had hoped, at the start of the year, that 2019 would be the year we got back on top of the gardening jobs so we don’t feel quite so much like we’re flailing about trying to catch up all the time. Yeah… didn’t happen.

Looking at the roof in late Feb / early March, we realised it *really* couldn’t be put off any longer – we ended up getting the front and the gable end re-done over the course of about a month, accompanied by lots of stress and worry and the scaffolding of course stayed up for a week or two longer than it needed to, because everything takes longer than it needs.

Then in August we discovered the flat roof over the utility room was leaking, so we had to get the roofer back out again to re-do that. This year we need to get the back of the main roof re-done, as well as the chimney, and then we should be ok for the next couple of decades.

Oh, and in October we realised the cooker needed replacing which led to the decision to completely strip out & re-do our kitchen. We started that later November and we’re now onto the fiddly finishing off jobs to complete ‘phase 1’ (yay!).


August 2019 saw us taking our first holiday abroad since we went to Berlin in 2015. After a fair bit of deliberation and half-hearted suggestions (because what we’d both really like to do is a rail journey through Europe but I don’t want to ask someone else to look after the chickens for that long), I said “What about Helsinki?” and, oh wow, it was just perfect. Expensive, but I’ve never felt more at home in a foreign country.

I also had a week away on my own at the start of October – I booked myself a holiday cottage near Bristol and spent the week writing. I can’t remember the exact figure, but it was somewhere around 30-40,000 words I got down that week. More importantly, dedicating that time to focusing on my writing allowed me to find my own rhythm and what works for me in terms of time allowances. A lot of writers recommend aiming for 300-500 words per day, but that week taught me to stop worrying that I can never seem to manage that: for me, it’s better to aim for one single block of time, 2-3 hours per week, and I’ll get 1500-3000 words down during that time.

Manifold Press & Monty Lit Fest

I joined both of the above in 2018 – both invitations to join the team were completely unexpected, and happened around the same time. Unfortunately, since there are only 24 hours in each day, and I did also have other commitments (including my dayjob) prior to joining these lovely teams of book-loving people, I spent a lot of early 2019 feeling like I was constantly failing to do as good a job as I wanted to, and after a lot of thinking and self-examination, I stepped down from the Manifold Press team in September.

That feels like a bit of a sad note to end on, which I didn’t intend to have happen. I really enjoyed my time at Manifold Press, and feel very honoured to have been involved with some wonderful books. If you’ve not ever read a Manifold Press book, you should definitely go check them out!

In conclusion…

And so now it’s 2020 and nearly the end of January already! Dayjob is very busy right now – we’ve got a new website & major internal systems revamp which has been in the works for literal years so that’s going to be a bit of a drain on my energy the next couple of months, but now the kitchen is much closer to finished, I’ve at least got the brain space to get back to writing properly again. In October & November I drafted the sequel to Under Leaden Skies, so I’ve got a bunch more reading & research to do now and then I can get stuck into editing. After that I’m hoping to get onto drafting Cheeks’s story. Yay!

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