Looking back over 2023

2023 over a bookish background

November has rolled around so quickly, and the end of another year is in sight. So it’s time to look back at how 2023 has treated me.  Here’s my yearly review.

Book 3 of the Haven Chronicles

I greatly admire those authors who can write novels quickly, but I’m afraid I’m not one of them. I like to set up a roadmap for each novel before I begin, and research the hell out of locations and technology that will play a part in the story. That burns through a couple of months, which means that I didn’t start writing the third book in the series until autumn 2022.

2023 has seen my novel develop into an international adventure that takes Steve and friends on land, sea, and air journeys to fresh horizons. They’ve made new friends, encountered old foes, and discovered a little bit more about each other too. The end of book 3 is very close now. I just have an escape to plan, a sacrifice (for one of my characters) to make, and a final encounter to describe.

I’m a reader too

While I didn’t meet my target of reading 12 books in 2023, I did finish:

I reviewed all of these delights over on Instagram.

Blog, blog, blog

I publish a new blog post every month. In 2023, these were my personal favourites:

And I treated you to a three-part short story for Halloween: Four old ladies walk into a pub.

Three lovely bloggers and fellow authors interviewed me this year too. First up was the Big Bearded Bookseller, followed by author Karen King, and finally the folks at What We Reading.

A new way of writing

This year, I discovered the #7DayTale write-athon on Twitter/X. Write a piece of flash fiction, or a poem, or whatever you want really, to that month’s theme in one daily tweet for seven days. I blogged one of my tales in May.

While I won’t revisit some of my tales, I’ll definitely turn a number of them into full short stories. I’ve enjoyed the challenge of the reduced character count and the camaraderie of writing my tale alongside other storytellers.

Life of Fi

Away from writerly stuff, 2023 has been all about just getting on with things. It hasn’t been a bad year, but it definitely hasn’t been restful either. It’s totally my own fault as I gave myself more writing to do (#7DayTale and a few short stories) and a new craft business to run (you’ll find plenty of bookmark and charm pictures over on my Instagram).

I’d like to say I got a rest when we went on holiday but with four adults in a cruise ship cabin, one of whom suffers from sea sickness, it was a fun but eventful trip. We even discovered our new favourite place to visit as a family, Lisbon in Portugal. And yes, that is a bus travelling down a river. We were in the bus floating behind.


So that’s it, my hectic 2023. I’ve fitted a lot into it and there’s even more to get done before 2024 shines over the horizon. And to be honest, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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.”


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.


“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.