Autumn: 5 ways that I ease into the new season

looking up through the branches of an autumn leaved tree - blue sky

Autumn has arrived. The heat of summer has given way to an altogether more mellow climate. Like spring, autumn heralds a turn in the year, a handing over from the long, temperate days of summer to winter evenings that wrap us in cosy darkness.

I like autumn and all the changes it brings. What I’ve learned over the years though is that it does take a little thought and preparation for me to ease into this new season. Here’s how I get ready.

Wrap up so I can get out

The new season begins on the autumn equinox, which generally falls around the 22nd or 23rd September in the UK. One day it’s summer, the next it’s autumn. The British weather, on the other hand, isn’t so easy to pin down. I may wake up to blue skies but that doesn’t guarantee a day that’s dry enough for washing on the line. It does make for some vibrant rainbows across the fields though.

I guard against the chance of being caught out by the weather by re-assessing my wardrobe at this time of the year. Don’t get me wrong, I’m no fashionista. It’s more a case of:

  • Are these shoes waterproof if it rains?
  • Will I get too hot in this coat, whether it rains or not?
  • How many layers can I fit under this jacket before I can’t move my arms?

Things like that.

I have a dog to walk, and I hate to spend the whole day at my home desk. So it’s important that I get out of the house a couple of times each day, even if it’s raining.

Get the garden ready

I’ll leave the gardening advice to the experts. They can explain that side of things much better than I ever could. Having said that, I know enough to maintain a garden that suits my family and gives me joy.

When autumn arrives, here’s what I tick off my to-do list:

  • I harvest the last of the herbs that can be salvaged and freeze them. This year’s garden herb harvest included sage, rosemary, lemon balm, basil, and thyme. Then I trim back all the herbs, including the lavender, so they can save as much energy as possible during the colder months.
  • I bring in the house plants that have spent summer on the table in the garden. The first frost is probably months away, but I don’t want them to be blown away by the stronger autumn winds.
  • I take photos of the all the flower beds. No, this isn’t to safeguard against thieves. Instead, it’s a chance to record which plants are where and what condition they’re in. I change things around each year and that means experimenting a little. Fingers crossed, most of the plants will survive the colder months but if not, I’ll know what perished come the spring.
  • Finally, it’s time to tidy up the garden. Get rid of dead leaves. Take any rubbish to the tip. Secure the dog’s football. Move planters if they’re likely to get blown over. Shelter tender plants. Put covers on the table and barbecue. Store errant tools in the shed.

Look for the colour

Rainier days can discourage people from spending time outdoors and appreciating what’s out there. At this time of year, there is still so much colour to see. From the reds of the berries, the oranges of the dying leaves, the final vibrant flowers, and the sunny shower rainbows, the world is still alive with colour.

When I venture out with my dog, I make an effort to notice all of that colour and even take a few photos.

Embrace the magic

One of the biggest autumn celebrations is of course Hallowe’en or Samhain. For me, that day is all about remembering loved ones who have passed. Hands up, I do keep a stock of sweets for trick or treaters but now that my ‘kids’ are grown-up, I don’t feel that I have to buy into the costumes and pumpkin slaughtering shenanigans.

Having said that, I do embrace the magic of Hallowe’en and enjoy the spooky tales that are everywhere in the run-up and on the day too. Hallowe’en provides an excellent excuse to read scary books and watch terrifying films, especially those of the ghostly variety.

Look back, celebrate, and start again

Autumn begins roughly three quarters of the way into the year, but it always feels like a beginning to me. Maybe it’s because that’s when the school and university years begin. Or it could be because I’m a child of change and always have been. I use that beginning as a chance to:

  • look back at what I’ve accomplished over the year and what could have gone better
  • celebrate the wins and learn from the fails
  • re-assess where I want to head from here
  • put together a new plan
  • set off again

Autumn is my gateway to the next six months.

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The days are drawing in as autumn beckons us towards the end of the year. Before the raucous festive celebrations begin, autumn offers us a quieter, cosier few weeks that are perfect for preparation, self-care, and plenty of reading. Enjoy.  

The rewards of writing a fiction series

I’ve blogged before about the challenges of writing book two and those challenges haven’t diminished as I work on the third book of the Haven Chronicles. What I haven’t written about is the rewards of writing a fiction series.

Writing a series isn’t easy, but it can be incredibly satisfying. It’s certainly given me a sense of accomplishment, but it’s also helped me to grow as a writer.

So in this blog post, I want to share with you some of the rewards that I’ve enjoyed while writing my series. These aren’t the only rewards, of course, but they are some of the most important ones for me.

Exploring the world of the Haven Chronicles

When I wrote Haven Wakes, I fell in love with both the futuristic and magical aspects of Caercester and Darkacre. In Magic Bound, I got the chance to extend that world beyond the city limits and dive deeper into the magical culture.

 Building a world that has elements of both fantasy and sci fi is an absolute joy. I have the chance to play with robots and technology that is being developed in our world right now or is only theorised about at the moment. I can also indulge my love of all things folklore and magic, including characters from the mythological tales I devoured as a child.

Writing a series allows me to wend my way through that world, further and further afield with each book, and explore the intricacies of both the magical and workaday** cultures. With each new instalment, I can return there and share those locations with my readers.

Revisiting the characters of the Haven Chronicles

It’s not only the world of the Haven Chronicles that I can revisit; there’s the characters too. Writing a series allows me to follow the journeys of Steve, Hartley, Blessing, and the darkling, plus some well-loved side characters like James and Frobisher too. With each new book, I can explore their development, their relationships with each other, and how their views of the world change over time.

What’s more, I can create companion stories that feature those characters too. Hartley Keg and Frobisher turn up in my short stories, The Hidden Knowing and A Shadow Falls in Darkacre. And I’ve plans to write a novel about Hartley’s adventures long before he meets Steve in Haven Wakes.

Serving the readers of the Haven Chronicles

Before my novels were published, I always worried about how they’d be received. Would readers like them and want more? Or would they post horrendous 1* reviews and my books die a literary death? Thankfully, the feedback I’ve received from beta and ARC readers, bloggers, and book reviewers has been encouraging.

And instead of simply accepting the praise, I’ve done my best to listen to what readers want to see in future books too. More action. More future tech. The most common question from readers has been ‘where are Steve’s parents?’. I’ll answer that in the third book in the series.

Challenging myself as a writer

Writing a series has meant continuing an overarching storyline and making sure that my characters are consistent but also develop with each new adventure. It’s also meant:

  • planning ahead for the entire series, not just one novel
  • learning how to keep my characters acting like themselves but changing over time too
  • planting seeds that will reach fruition in future books
  • keeping the plot of each novel relevant to the overall story arc of the series
  • making each book bigger than the one before
  • keeping track of what’s happened in previous books so I don’t make continuity mistakes

It’s a completely different skillset to writing one stand-alone story but it’s a challenge I’m enjoying immensely.

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Writing a series has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life as a writer. I’ve loved exploring the world and the characters of the Haven Chronicles, serving my readers and listening to their feedback, and challenging myself to grow and improve as a writer. I can’t wait to share the third book in the series with you.

** a term used to describe non magical people in my novels

What are beta and ARC readers? Unveiling the enchanting heroes behind your favourite books

You’ve probably heard me talk about beta and ARC readers, but I don’t think I’ve ever explained who these marvellous people are and why you might want to be one. Beta and ARC readers play a crucial role in shaping the stories I tell and the tales I love to read. They are the generous souls who give up their time to make our authorly lives easier. Let me explain.

Beta readers: trusted companions in the writing journey

Picture a group of loyal companions, standing side by side with the author on their literary path; these are the beta readers. These fantastic individuals arrive on the writerly scene early on, lending their invaluable perspectives to the author’s manuscript before it’s polished and published. They are like those childhood friends I used to act out stories and plays with, only this time round, they’re helping me to write my books.

Beta readers are the wizards who provide constructive feedback, helping authors like me to identify the hidden gems in my stories and the quagmires that need a little extra enchantment. They’re the people who spot plot weaknesses, character inconsistencies, and ensure that the entire story works.

But what’s truly magical about beta readers is that they’re a willing audience for our imagined adventures, helping to bring our stories to life and making sure that they captivate readers like you.

ARC readers: champions of unreleased tales

As an author, there’s nothing quite like the moment when you catch a glimpse of your treasured novel resting on a bookshelf – be that in a book shop or in your own home. While my books may not be in physical bookstores just yet, holding a real, tangible copy of my creation is incredibly satisfying and yes, a little awe inspiring too.

ARC readers are the heroes who receive advance copies of books right before they hit the world stage. Imagine being one of the first to step into a mesmerising world of fantasy. ARC readers get to experience that magic before anyone else.

But they don’t keep that enchanting experience to themselves. ARC readers eagerly share their book reviews, igniting excitement and anticipation among potential readers. Their word-of-mouth magic spreads like wildfire, making sure that those books are embraced and cherished by readers like you.

Becoming a beta or ARC reader: the heroic opportunity

Here comes the exciting part – you, dear reader, have the chance to be one of those heroes. If you’re eager to step into the enchanting world of beta and ARC reading, why not sign up for my monthly Author News? By doing so, you’ll stay up-to-date with beta and ARC reader opportunities for my novels, becoming an integral part of the storytelling process.

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It’s thanks to the wonderful support of beta and ARC readers that our tales come alive and reach a wider audience. These marvellous people, who shape and celebrate the art of storytelling, are the unsung heroes behind the magic of your favourite books.

Lost down a rabbit hole: What I researched for Book 3 of the Haven Chronicles

I’m one of those authors who likes to prepare as much as possible before I begin to work on a new novel. One aspect of that preparation is plenty of research. You might think that because I write fantasy stories, the whole concept will be born from my imagination but I’m a firm believer in the value of grounding a story – even a fantasy story – in reality and possibilities that are believable to the reader.

Before I started on the third book in my YA futuristic fantasy series, I spent a lot of time on research so that I wouldn’t have to stop mid-way through to find out what was scientifically possible or historically correct.  Here’s what I researched.

Haven Wakes and Magic Bound

Haven Wakes and Magic Bound book covers and the words Magic and robots and a boy searching for the truth

Yes, I know I wrote both books, but over time the edges of your creations begin to blur. So I needed to check certain facts from the first two books to make sure I got it right in book three. Facts like:

  • what the travelling door in Hartley’s kitchen looks like
  • the layout of Darkacre
  • the entrance to the magical council controlled area, the Confluence (including golems)
  • Kiri Ema’s and the dancer Mariana’s appearances

and much much more.

Flying cities

Magic Bound was predominantly set in the magical portion of Steve’s world so I wanted to feature much more of the workaday (non-magical and futuristic) portion in book three. One expression of that high tech culture is a flying city. Research unearthed several possibilities:

  • aerostatic lift, involving lighter-than-air gases to provide buoyancy and lift
  • aerodynamic lift, with aerodynamic features that generate lift
  • anti-gravity, using technology that manipulates gravitational forces
  • tethered aerostat, a lighter-than-air structure anchored to the ground
  • static lift structure, generating enough buoyancy to keep the city afloat without a tether

It’s all very exciting and the technology I’ve chosen has definitely influenced the design of the city. And no, I’m not telling you what it’s called yet – you’ll have to wait and see.

Ostriches pulling carriages

Yes, that’s a real thing – look. I can’t include an image in this blog post for copyright reasons, but there are so many vintage images of ostriches pulling carts, traps, and carriages out there.

Now, there are no ostriches pulling a carriage in book three but there is something similar to an ostrich. That’s as much as I’m going to say. Again, read book three.

Cruise ships

Fi Phillips standing in a Norwegian setting with the cruise ship Iona in the background

This was a lovely topic to return to after my cruise of the Norwegian fjords last year, but I was especially interested in vintage cruise ships like Queen Mary 1 and 2, the RMS Aquitania, and yes, even the Titanic. It was the sumptuous interiors that piqued my interest.

Venice

I’ve been promising to feature Venice in my novels since I finished writing Haven Wakes and it finally makes an appearance in book three. This was one of my favourite research topics to dive into.

I’ve visited Venice several times and it’s a city that I still find fascinating and mysterious, so I’m taking Steve and co there this time round. Having said that, it may not quite be the Venice we all know.

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So yes, those were the rabbit holes that I disappeared into last year. I have to say that I loved researching all of these topics. In fact, I probably spent way too much time down these rabbit holes because, well, shiny things and all that. Once book three is finished, I’ll be straight into research for book four and I already know that’ll include… Hang on. That’s a completely different blog post.

Sharing my flash fiction

Since the beginning of 2023, I’ve been taking part in a monthly write-athon on Twitter called #7DayTale. Write a tale in seven tweets, one tweet each day for a week, around a provided theme. I’ve immensely enjoyed the challenge of creating such short pieces within the confines of the Twitter 280 character limit because it’s forced me to approach storytelling in a completely different way.

I’m quite proud of my resulting flash fiction tales so I thought I’d share one of them with you. The title of my story is the theme we were given that month. Hands up, I have polished the tale a little since I posted it on Twitter.

The Mysterious Library

The world went away a long time ago. That’s how it feels anyway. Harry always joked we should’ve had kids so they could look after us in our old age.

The key has left an imprint in the pages of the book that has imprisoned it for who knows how long.

I turn my wedding ring around my finger. It long ago left its mark on my skin. Harry was the same. He left his mark on my heart.

I put the key aside and examine the book. The battered leather cover sags loose from the pages. The title on the spine is worn away. I open the book.

Harry called himself a collector. I think hoarder was a better word. He filled the spare bedroom, the attic, the garage, even the shed with boxes of books, scrolls, and small tins that rattled.

Inside, I find the title of the book – The History of the Travelling Library.

Harry also called himself a seeker. He said I’d understand one day. I loved that man more than I’ve ever loved anyone, which is why I put up with his nonsense and boxes. He died last week. He was 84. We were together for over 50 years. It wasn’t enough.

Open on the floorboards, the book is thick with text. Each page is so full of words that they blur into slabs of grey as I turn the pages. Or maybe that’s just my tears.

My knees complain as I raise myself from the floor in the attic. The light is bad, provided by just one light bulb hanging from the rafters. I squint as I see it for the first time.

The key is warm in my hand as I pull back the curtain that veils a corner of the attic. This room was Harry’s domain which is probably why I’d never noticed the curtain or the tall wooden door that it hides. But that’s impossible. There’s nothing on the other side of that wall. Only air and a steep drop to the ground.

Here goes nothing, Harry would have said. The key fits perfectly into the door’s lock and with a little force, it turns. I open the door just a bit, enough to see through but not so much that I can’t slam it shut. There’s a floor beyond and a warm, steady light. I open the door wide and step through. It takes me a moment to realise that I’m in a library filled with bookcases that skim the ceiling.

“You took your time.” A familiar face. He sits at a desk in the middle of the space. I’ve got so much to show you,” Harry says. “Welcome to the Travelling Library.”

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If you’d like to try your hand at penning a monthly flash fiction yourself, you can find the write-athon by searching for #7DayTale on Twitter.

A catch up in April

cup of tea and a bunch of daffodils

It’s been a while since I wrote a catch-up blog, so I thought April was the ideal month to let you know what’s been going on in the Life of Fi. 2023 has been hectic so far – generally in a good way – but that hasn’t stopped me from working on my novel or taking on new creative challenges.

Writing book 3 (and 4)

I began writing the third book in my YA futuristic fantasy series last year. I mapped the whole book out before I made a start and even back then, it did seem a lot to fit into 300 odd pages. Having written a generous portion of book three, I now realise that what I’d mapped out was not one book, but two. My challenge now is to decide where I can satisfactorily end book three (with a big, exciting finish) and begin book four.

What this means for you as a reader of course, is that there should be less time between the release of the two books. Hopefully.

Book 5 of the Haven Chronicles

Since I finished writing Haven Wakes, I’ve known exactly how I wanted to end the series. Clues have been dropped in books one and two and there’ll be more clues in books three and four. Book five will be the end of one journey but will leave plenty of doors open for more adventures elsewhere. Sorry to sound vague and mysterious but, you know, spoilers.

Creative Fi

2022 was a brilliant year in so many ways, but it was also a year that demanded I spend a lot of time at my desk, head down writing and planning in an attempt to keep ahead of my schedule as a copywriter and an author. There was little time for side projects. So I decided that this year would be all about new creative outlets that are fun.

First, I came across a flash fiction write-athon on Twitter called #7DayTale. Write a story in seven tweets, one each day for a week, on a provided theme. It’s a monthly event that I discovered thanks to the wonderful poet and author Lily Lawson.

The second new creative outlet for 2023 is my craft business. I used to make semi-precious jewellery for a living and while I gave that up several years ago, I’ve always wanted to return to working with beads and charms. As I’m an author and all about books, you probably won’t be surprised to discover that I’ve started a business making bookmarks. It’s called Bookmarks and Charms by Fi.

Finally, I’ve returned to a platform I first discovered about a decade ago – Tumblr. I’m not sure exactly how I’m going to use my new author account – Magical Possibilities – but it’ll probably include:

  • work in progress news and snippets
  • requests for beta and ARC readers
  • book reviews (not my books)
  • flash fiction and small stones
  • book cover reveals
  • news from other speculative fiction authors and my publisher
  • thoughts and musings
  • photos from the Life of Fi

If you’re a Tumblr user, then I’d love to connect over there.

Final Words

I’ll finish this catch up with a snippet from my work in practice, book three of the Haven Chronicles. This scene happens in Darkacre just when Steve desperately needs to be cheered up.

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“It really smells rounds here.” Steve covered his nose as a sweet, pungent stink wafted through the air. “What is that?”

“It’s not me,” said James. “I’ve washed today. Maybe Widow Wefan has been using goat manure on her garden plot again.”

There was a ‘ping’ and a scrabbling of claws as a squirrel materialised in the air in front of Steve’s face and then dropped to the cobbled road.

“Squirrel mail,” said Steve.

“Blimey,” said James.

With a chirp, the squirrel ran up Steve’s trouser leg, circled his torso, and came to rest on his shoulder. With a flourish, the squirrel pulled a note out of the air and gave a quick bark.

“I think it’s for you,” said James with a grin.

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Introducing The Great Big Demon Hunting Agency by Peter Oxley

book cover of The Great Big Demon Hunting Agency by Peter Oxley

Today is launch day for a brilliant novel, The Great Big Demon Hunting Agency by Peter Oxley. There’s demons and Victoriana and so much more but rather than prattle on myself, why don’t I share the book blurb with you instead?

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London, 1868. The streets are haunted by thieves, murderers… and demons from beyond the Aether.

Spencer and Bart are the city’s most incompetent crooks, and they are in deep trouble. Hunted by both police and their fellow criminals, they are forced to consider the unthinkable —going straight.

Forming The Great Big Demon Hunting Agency, they think their troubles are behind them, but they soon find themselves caught up in a web far more dangerous than they could ever imagine, pitched against demons, criminals and evil magicians.

The Great Big Demon Hunting Agency is the new novel from Peter Oxley, the author of the Infernal Aether series. If you like dark gothic adventures with a light-hearted twist, then you’ll love The Great Big Demon Hunting Agency.

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If the author’s name sounds familiar that’s because he’s one of the co-creators of Burning Chair Publishing and I’ve interviewed him on this blog before. Peter kindly let me read an ARC of his latest novel and I have to say it’s a keeper – exciting, funny, and scary too. You can find my book review over on Instagram.

So to mark the publication of The Great Big Demon Hunting Agency, I had a wee chat with Peter. Here’s what we talked about.

Congratulations on the release of your latest novel, Peter. How does it feel to have the Great Big Demon Hunting Agency published and out in the big wide world?

Really great – mainly because it’s taken waaay too long for me to get this book out! It’s been a long time in the writing, mainly because I’ve been so focused over the past few years on editing and producing other authors’ books in our Burning Chair stable. So this book has been like a neglected child – always sat there, half-finished, giving me doe eyes while I spent all my time on all of the other stuff I had to do. While working on other peoples’ stuff is really rewarding, it’s been tough – as you’ll know, us writers don’t just want to write, we NEED to write. So I made a decision last year to be a bit more selfish with my time and actually follow through on all these stories that have been backing up in my own head. So it’s even more of a relief than usual to get back in the saddle and chuck something of my own out there for the first time in years!

I’m sure it’s been worth the wait but for readers of your previous novels, how does GBDHA link to your Infernal Aether series?

The book was born out of the original Infernal Aether series and in particular two very minor characters who dipped in and out of the stories – London’s least competent criminals, Spencer and Bart. I had a lot of fun writing them at the time, but had to pare back their involvement in those books as they were too much of a distraction to the main storylines. So I cut them out of much of my original books, but they kept niggling at me until I gave in and wrote them their own story. It’s set in the same universe and after the events of the Infernal Aether – so we’re plunged into a Victorian London which is overrun with demons, golems and evil magicians. But GBDHA is very much its own story and is intentionally a lot lighter in tone than the darker and more gothic Infernal Aether series. But it’s fully intended to standalone as a story, so you don’t need to have read the Infernal Aether books to enjoy this one!

Will there be more GBDHA novels? What are you working on next?

100% yes – advance reader feedback’s been really great, and I’ve got plenty of ideas for where to take these characters next. I’m determined to not leave it so long until the next ones come out! So I’m already working on book 2 in the series, aiming to get that one out on the shelves later this year. The next story takes them out of London and the plan is to see them chasing demons around the Victorian countryside – I say that’s the plan, even though it’s plotted and I’ve started writing, as my books tend take on a life of their own as I write them, so who knows what the final story will be like!

Exciting stuff! I’ll keep an eye out for book 2. Thanks for talking to me, Peter and good luck with your book launch.

If you’re interested in buying The Great Big Demon Hunting Agency or finding out more about its author, here are all the links:

What I love about being an author: the top 3

I’m an author. That phrase makes me smile. If you look for me online, you’ll find me described as a copywriter as well as an author. Or to put it another way, I get to do something I love (writing) for a career. How good is that?

Being an author isn’t always easy and there’s been a ton load of learning along the way, but I wouldn’t swap this path for any other. So I thought I’d share with you what I love most about being an author.

Sharing my stories and their worlds with my readers

When I was a child, I would act out plays and stories with my mismatched collection of dolls and teddy bears. Eventually, that turned into writing those stories down. As a pupil at school, I took great delight in sharing my stories in English classes. I mean, what’s not to like? I got free advice on what to improve and I had the chance to show the tales, characters, and worlds of my imagination to a willing audience.

When I finally left education, suddenly I didn’t have an outlet for sharing my stories anymore. I could show my parents, but they had a busy life. My friends were more interested in night outs and finding love. My then boyfriend thought writing stories was a waste of time.

Locally, there were a handful of writing classes but more often than not I found them a vehicle for the teacher’s taste in writing, rather than a place to share and talk about the stories we wanted to write.

As time went on, the internet widened our view of the world, social media was born, and online forums popped up on all kinds of topics. I gradually found online places where I could share my writing. I even had a few short stories published in magazines – both paper and online – over the years. I wanted to write novels though, and finding a home for those stories was a challenge. It was also a path that generally led to rejection. It felt like I was writing those stories only for myself and while I enjoyed that process, I wanted more.

Skip several years to now and thanks to the wonderful people at Burning Chair Publishing, my stories have found a home. I get to share my novels with an audience of readers who – according to the book reviews and kind words you leave on social media – enjoy reading my stories as much as I loved writing them.

Seeing my books on bookshelves (including my own)

I doubt there’s an author in the world who hasn’t felt a little joyful skip of the heart when they see their beloved novel on a bookshelf, even if that bookshelf is their own.

My novels haven’t made it into a physical bookstore yet, but seeing and holding actual copies of my books is a wonderful experience. It makes me feel like a ‘proper’ author, whatever that is. I think that’s why unboxing videos are so popular with authors and readers alike. And yes, there are copies of my novels on my own bookshelves.

I have even more reasons to read other people’s books

I’ve always been an avid reader but as an author, it’s important that I keep an eye on other novels in my genre (fantasy and sci fi) and broaden my literary horizons by reading other genres too. There’s so much to learn from other authors and how they tell their own stories, plus of course, I immensely enjoy reading. Hence why I have a precariously towering to-be-read pile.

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There are plenty more things that I love about being an author but these are my top three. With Haven Wakes and Magic Bound already out in the big wide world, working on the third novel in the series is just one more reason to feel incredibly lucky and grateful to be an author.

What you can expect from me in 2023

Sh! I’m still on festive break officially but I thought I’d take advantage of the lull before I return to my desk to say ‘hi’. 2022 was a good, if exhausting year. I saw my latest novel published, got a wonderful new cover and relaunch for my debut novel, and even went off on a Norwegian fjord cruise with my other half.

2023, however, is a clean page that I’m keen to get scribbling on. Just in case you wanted to know, here’s what you can expect from me over the next twelve months.

Writing Book 3 of the Haven Chronicles

Last year, I started to write the third book in my YA futuristic fantasy series and there’ll be more of that in 2023. One question that many of my readers and reviewers have asked after reading Haven Wakes and Magic Bound is, ‘where are Steve’s parents?’. That question will finally be answered in book 3.

There’ll be new places to go, old and new foes to outsmart, and plenty more revelations about Steve and his family.

The festive break brought a new epiphany about the path of this series but that’s something to share once book 3 is published.

Social Media for Authors

My book of social media advice for authors remains in the hands of Burning Chair. Fingers crossed, it will be published this year.

In the meantime, if you’re an author looking for social media advice, head on over to my copywriter blog.

Subscriber treats

In December, subscribers to my Author News received the links and passwords to my fantasy novella, A Shadow Falls in Darkacre. The plan is to release at least one short story or novella in 2023 too.

By the way, if you’re not subscribed yet, you can sign up here. New subscribers receive a free short story set in the same world as my novels.

Book reviews

Writers are readers too and I’ll be attacking my to-be-read pile with the usual enthusiasm. I didn’t read as many books last year as I’d have liked to (only nine) so fingers crossed, I can do better this year. The target is twelve.

Here’s a taste of the first nine books I’ll be reading.

book covers of Prisoner of Paradise by Rob Samborn, Babes in the Woods by Mark Stay, Ghosts: Being the experiences of Flaxman Low, Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman, Exiles by Daniel Blythe, The Shepherds Crown by Terry Pratchett, Blackbirch 1 by K M Allan, Master and Apprentice by Susan Mansbridge, All the White Spaces by Ally Wilkes

As usual, you can find all of my book reviews over on Instagram.

My search for a literary agent

With two novels published and a third in the works, I feel that it’s time to find a literary agent. In 2023, I’ll be sending out submissions to UK literary agents who are interested in YA fantasy. I don’t have much more to say about that other than, wish me luck.

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And that’s it – my authorly plan for 2023. Fingers crossed.

Merry Christmas from this household to yours

festive book and hot chocolate by Andreea Radu on Unsplash

It’s Christmas Eve and time to switch off until the new year. Looking back, it’s been a wonderful year with the birth of Magic Bound (plus a magical new book cover for Haven Wakes) and the continued support of readers like you.

So before I dive into the excitement and busy-ness of the big day, I’d just like to say, ‘thank you’ and wish you the most fabulous, festive break. Here’s to the kind of new year that brings out the best in and for us all.

Photo by Andreea Radu on Unsplash