The year began with the completion of The Ravage Trilogy, releasing part three Beneath the Exile in February. It was honestly a very difficult thing to say goodbye to that body of work. I still feel like Beneath the Exile is one of the best books I may ever write. I took myself to depths I didn’t like to make that book possible. It’s not really genre-specific or definable, The Ravage Trilogy, it is simply three books about how a small band of heroes might try to save the world after a viral outbreak. It’s about friendships and ass-kicking. It’s mostly about one woman, who started out life not well but triumphed, found herself in an extraordinary set of circumstances and was forced to become the person she was meant to be. We writers all feel we know our characters; they will always remain old friends, vital spirits that become immortalised in print. It was so difficult to say goodbye to Seraph, Ryken, Camille, Eve, Mara, Nathan, Connie… et al

But, I finished that book and moved straight onto the one that had been brewing in my head – A Fine Profession (called The Chambermaid to begin with).

Lottie’s story was one I had straight in my head before I began writing. She was promiscuous for a reason, not even promiscuous – I guess more like searching for something. On a journey to a place she wanted to get to but just couldn’t quite make it. It some ways the book is more character study than romance. Her story complete, there were things to be considered. Did Noah warrant a story of his own? Of course he did. So I had to make a few snips in A Fine Profession, a few tweaks here and there, to make A Fine Pursuit possible. His story was one I felt should be told with brutal honesty because after all, Lottie herself was brutally honest too.

So, the trilogy added to the Chambermaid series (A Fine Profession, A Fine Pursuit, Bedtime Confessions) equals 642,000 words. Also, when I was a journalist, sometimes I used to pump out as much as 4,000 a day. So seven years of that… go figure. Me and words have a big thing going on here and it has taken over my life, as you can probably tell. I hardly have time to breathe sometimes. I have a child and a husband, a life, so there’s little time for social networking and blogging etc. Which is difficult, because you need to be able to do those things to get your books out there.

The latest book Angel Avenue, a mere 100K (ha ha, that’s like what 742K now) spilled out very quickly. Why? Well, it was already in my head too. I am working through a backlog of stories here and it’s finally cleared, for now (I guess) until the next voices start speaking to me. So… Angel Avenue, is just a story fuelled by something I notice going on around me quite a lot. A while ago I was asked to write a short story about bullying for a charity thing and I had the basics down (but I knew it should be a novel). So those tendrils were there and it was just a matter of getting it out.

One thing that became evident to me when writing Angel Avenue is that a standalone novel is much harder to write than a duo or a trilogy or a collection of short stories. Not harder in terms of skill or craftsmanship; more difficult in the sense that once it’s done, that is it. You’re done. Forever. You have to get everything out there about those characters and know that you’re done, within one book. Not two or three. There can be no going back then. I edited and edited and edited this book, Angel Avenue. The editing was intense and it produced something I feel immensely proud of. It’s one singular unit and it comes full circle and in my mind, I feel happy about what I created, what I achieved. I also feel very sad because the Jules and Warrick of Angel Avenue live on, but not with me, with all the people who will read it. I gave them a story that means you can decide for yourself what happens next. I have learnt to write so that people will be left wanting more (and unfortunately it leaves me wanting more too but that is the price I must pay).

I am also making headway in becoming an editor. We need editors. They are the bedrock of publishing. Now I have been on both sides, I can tell you. An editor can be the third person and look down on a work without emotional attachment and make decisions that you as the writer might otherwise find difficult. An editor can tell you where things can be pulled and still, the book makes as much of a point as you wanted it to. I have made some calls on other people’s books this year which have made me more confident in crafting my own work.

Five amazing things about this year:

– I got people reading erotica who never would have done before.

– I have reached Australia, Florida, Nevada, California and so many other countries, it’s unreal. I’ve also met some other amazing writers both here and elsewhere.

– People are telling me that they are going back to the start of the catalogue after discovering one of my books.

– I discovered that it pays to have confidence in what you’re doing.

– Trying out new things can pay dividends.

I have written hundreds of thousands, probably millions, of words. I am still learning, all the time. How do I do this? Why do I do this? Read Angel Avenue. This is why I do this. Simply and truthfully, this is a true love, one I found many years ago. One that will always be here for me. The books I write will always be there for people’s enjoyment. My skill will always be at my fingertips. It’s been a good year. I am an extremely lucky, if emotionally wrecked, writer. Writing is not something I do, it is something I am. Because I have to do it, I make time for it. But with the backlog cleared, it’s time to rest and recoup. *and breathe*

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