Category Archives: a new start

2013 and all that…

This post has been delayed a few days due to a busy work period. It wasn’t quite finished ready for new year’s eve, and being the fastidious sod that I am, I wasn’t prepared to post it without doing my usual final checks (proofreading is everything, you know!) Still, better late than never…

It’s that time of the year when tradition dictates that we look back over the past twelve months and sum up what the year has meant to us. Last year, I had fun revisiting 2012’s highlights (and there were many) but I have felt less inclined to do so this year.

There are many words I could use to describe 2013, and not all of them are positive. I think many people have found it a challenging year for many reasons, and it has been the same for me and my family.

The passing of William’s wife, Sheila in March knocked the wind from our sails and made it very difficult for me to find the energy to continue with the Cypress Branches project. The launch of It Never Was You went ahead, albeit on a much smaller and quieter scale than I had hoped. A launch party seemed inappropriate, and with the momentum gone, I decided to leave the books alone for a short while and wait for the bug to bite again.

That short while turned into several months, and not much has happened in the intervening period since the launch. Happily, both Pegasus Falling and It Never Was You are still selling, with a handful of print and ebooks being plucked from the shelves each month. Hardly best-seller figures, but it’s something. It’s heartening to know that the books are being discovered by more readers, even without any real effort from me, and it gives me encouragement to up my efforts next year.

2013 really has felt like a transition year, but the changes that have taken place have been hard-fought and the road difficult to navigate at times. On a personal level, I have not only been settling into a new home, but also looking to start a new career, with most of my spare time this year taken up by updating CVs, applying for jobs, attending interviews and assessments and worrying about said interviews and assessments. All this has left me with little time or energy to devote to working on part three of the trilogy.

But happily, I can say with some confidence that things are looking up. A new chapter in my own life begins on 6th January when I begin training for a new, permanent, full time job (oddly enough, my very first permanent job, having been a freelancer all my working life so far!) For the first time in many years, I’ll have a steady income, a set number of hours (with the choice of whether or not I work overtime, rather than it being expected of me – and I’ll get paid for it!), plenty of spare time and consequently, plenty of resources (financial, mental, temporal) to finish the trilogy and promote it. It’s one of those odd paradoxes in life. I’ve not worked full time for over two years now, and have struggled to keep momentum going with the books. Now I’m looking forward to going back into full time employment so that I can spend more time on the project.

Having taken a break from the trilogy, obviously there is a backlog of work still to be done. Work is yet to begin on Part Three (and it still doesn’t have a name!) But I plan on starting that work as soon as I’m settled into my new role…probably late February.

I’ve already set out my plans for the blog (read the post here). I fully intend to put that plan into action, with new blog content, the website spring clean (which has turned into more of a reboot!) and exploring new ways to build the audience. The list of jobs is growing, and I’m looking forward to tackling them.

I know there are a lot of you out there who are waiting very patiently for the third part of the trilogy, and I know I keep saying that you’ll just have to be patient a little longer. I’d love to get it out there by the end of 2014, but I must be realistic and won’t promise anything, sorry. What I will promise is that work will begin again very soon. I will most likely go quiet again now for another month while I complete my training (three weeks of what looks like very intense learning!) but don’t panic, I will be back, then it’ll be all hands to the pump to get part three published (and named!)

I’ll sign off with a huge thank you to all of you who have supported and encouraged me during the past year. It really does mean a lot to know that you guys are out there, spurring me on and above all, enjoying the fruits of the Cypress Branches project. To all my family, friends, the readers, reviewers, bloggers, authors, colleagues and more…I wish you all a very happy, prosperous and fulfilling 2014.

It promises to be an exciting year, and I’m going to do everything I can to make sure it is.

A new start

Greetings, Bloggerland!
How have you been? I know, it’s been a long time, hasn’t it. Sorry about that. Had some time off to think things over and work out what to do next…
You see, 2012 and 2013 have been quite eventful, emotional and trying at times. The excitement of publishing the Cypress Branches trilogy, and learning my way around the self-publishing world, has been tempered by some very sad and difficult events.
William’s wife, my grandmother, passed away earlier this year, just before we released It Never Was You. With the family’s blessing, I decided to go ahead with a low-key launch and the blog tour. But to be honest, it took it out of me, and I decided that I’d have to take a break.
And I’m glad I did. I’d been concentrating on publishing the books pretty much constantly for about 18 months, and the strain was beginning to show. I just wasn’t enjoying it any more, and when you stop enjoying something, that’s when you need to take a step back.

But the trilogy has rarely been far from my thoughts, and I’ve used the last few months to have a really good think about what direction I want to take the project from here on in. I think I have a plan nailed, and once again I’m pretty excited about it, which is great. There are going to be changes, but all for the good, I think.

So, where to begin?

Online spring clean

Well, for a start, the main website ( is having a makeover to bring it right into the 21st century. With the new format, it will now work just as well on mobile and tablet devices as it did on PCs, rather than being re-formatted into a poor HTML version, which has always been a bugbear of mine. I’m also making it a bit more streamlined and user-friendly, both for the reader and for me making updates!

There will also be changes around this blog. I’m going to do a spring clean as soon as the website is up and running, then I’ll start to pen some posts I’ve been planning for a long time now, but have never managed to get round to…

New blog content

Earlier in the year, I pledged to blog more often. Alas, events overtook that resolution, and the extra content never materialised. But it’s never too late to make a start, and hopefully soon, there will be more opportunities to create some really interesting content.

One of the things I’ve realised since taking my sabbatical is that I’ve never done any really meaty research into Gramps’s past. This really is a rich seam to explore, what with his career as a paratrooper, merchant seaman, engineer and university lab technician. I’d love to get in touch with others who might know of a parent or grandparent who may have served with William during the war, or at sea. I want to find out more about what his life would have been like back then, and get a better understanding of where his ideas for the book came from.

And there’s all the posts around the books themselves that I’d like to do. They are set against the backdrop of some incredible moments in the history of the 20th century, and I’d love to explore them more. In Pegasus Falling alone, we take in the ill-fated Operation Market Garden at Arnhem, the concentration camps, the refugee crisis in Germany after the war, the Jewish settlers trying to reach Palestine, and the whole Middle East situation flaring up. All of these are fascinating aspects of history that I’d love to read more about. As I do, I’ll be documenting my research here.

I’m teeming with ideas, and can’t wait to get stuck in.

Building the audience

The key aim all along has been to get the books into the hands of the audience William’s work deserves, and for the first 18 months of this project I was searching out readers right across the globe. Drunk on the possibilities that ebook publishing offers, I cast the net wide hoping to build an audience wherever I could. That tactic had some success, but not enough to warrant continuing down that road. Because our readers are scattered across the continents, building momentum has been difficult, and I feel that now a bit of consolidation closer to home is what’s needed.

For the time being I’ll be concentrating on building an audience on this side of the Atlantic. Whilst the US market offers a huge number of readers, and I have managed to find a few out there (thanks guys!), I really should be doing more in the UK first. (Don’t worry, international readers, I’m not forsaking you totally, and the books will continue to be available around the world wherever possible, so if you’re in the States (or Australia, Spain, Portugal, or anywhere else the books have sold) and you know your friends will love the books as much as you have, go tell them to buy them – they’re still there in the Kindle Store.

Building a bigger fan base closer to home over the coming months makes a lot of sense for several reasons. For a start, although we now live in a global marketplace, and Facebook and Twitter have transformed how word of mouth is spread, I think it still makes sense to start small. I suspect that building excitement around the books will be easier to do in a small area to begin with. I can visit places in the UK, bringing that personal touch. Plus, with the second and third books being set primarily in the UK, there are places here that I can (and will!) target, and that’s my next step (watch out, Liverpool!)

…But what about the books themselves?!

And then, of course, there’s the small matter of publishing part three of the trilogy. Work hasn’t begun on it yet, which I know will dismay many readers eagerly awaiting its release. But I can assure you, work will begin soon. The first job is to re-read the manuscript – something I haven’t done since putting together the hardback. I can’t wait to get stuck in!

So, that’s the plan. What the next 18 months actually holds in store, who knows. But I’m looking forward to getting started.

Watch this space!