New year status report 2023

This is my tenth year of writing up the status of my writing – see 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021, and 2022.

Ten years of writing these updates! I do sometimes wonder why I bother when there’s so little to report (and when these posts get readers in single figures), but it gives me something to look back on. I’ve long since given up on writing for other people, so there’s nothing wrong with writing these blog posts for myself, too.

This year saw the publication of my science fiction short story Call of the Void in the Severed Souls anthology from Space Cat Press. This is the second time I’ve had a story in a Space Cat anthology, and I was particularly happy that this year saw the print release of both the new anthology and the previous one (which was originally ebook-only due to COVID). Not least because that meant I could send copies to my Mum.

Severed Souls and Uncharted Constellations - paperback copies

I took part in the Severed Souls ebook launch (in prerecorded video form on YouTube), discussing alien life, and the double Severed Souls and Uncharted Constellations print launch (in physical human form) performing a reading from my short story Always Carry a Spare.

Me reading my story at the Space Cat Press double book launch.

My Scottish historical children’s novels, The Wreck of the Argyll and The Beast on the Broch, are still out there and ticking over in small numbers. If they were software, they’d be “deprecated” if not actually “end-of-life” quite yet.

In terms of new writing, I didn’t manage any more short stories this year. But! I wrote a novel! For the first time in the five years since I became disillusioned with children’s books, I found the necessary enthusiasm to sit down at Scrivener and produce the first draft of a new novel over the course of three months this summer. My tenth completed novel, if anyone is counting.

Lykaon paperback first draft proof

It’s not children’s fiction. Not sure what it is, exactly – apart from being 70,000 words of Iliad fan-fiction. There’s a current market for retellings of Greek mythology, but specifically feminist retellings, which this book isn’t. It’s not anti-feminist in any way, but the focus is elsewhere – on a young man battered by fate trying to determine his destiny. Recently I read Frontier Wolf by Rosemary Sutcliff, one of her Roman historical novels, and it possibly fits the same audience. I’m just not sure that’s an audience that still exists in the marketing plans of publishers.

But I wrote Lykaon for myself. Ancient history and mythology have fascinated me for as long as I can remember, all the way back to the first book I remember reading (as documented in my blog post Origin story) and I did do that degree in Classics, so maybe it was inevitable that I’d turn to Greek mythology at some point.

So what now? My beta readers (my partner Sandra, and my old friend Colin) have gone through my manuscript and provided their feedback. I’ve produced a second draft based on their comments and now… dunno. I’m in no hurry to go through the agent merry-go-round again, and I lack the marketing ability to make self-publication worthwhile. But! I wrote a novel! So I’m counting that as a win.