Where has the year gone?

DSC_3358At a time when every sensible writer is reviewing their last year’s writing/marketing strategies and planning new ones for the coming year, I must confess writing and the latest novel are the last things on my mind. For the last month, everything has been put on hold.

I must confess, my plans to write and publish the next Fiona Mason Mystery within the year had slipped a little (there was a hectic period in the summer that I mentioned in my August blog) but when we went on holiday at the end of November, I fully expected that I’d be able to have it available as an eBook by January at the latest. However, things rarely go to plan!

The day after we got back from Turkey, I had an email from a Cruise company offering me two back-to-back cruises to Central America as a port lecture. Fantastic! The catch was it was leaving in mid-January. There was no way I could prepare 15 port presentations plus a bridge talk going through the Panama Canal in six weeks – (each port takes roughly 30 to 50 hours) especially with Christmas with all that entails looming fast. Although I have been on several cruises talking about aspects of writing, this will be my first port-lecturing cruise. I’ve prepared a couple of port lectures as part of my training, but as a novice, but not only does it take me longer to prepare, a great deal more is riding on this cruise than for established port lecturers who have already proved their worth.

After a whole week of toing-and-froing, it was finally agreed that I would do the second cruise. Even with the extra two weeks, eight port presentations and a bridge talk was a big ask. Although I have been to Mexico and Costa Rica on land tours, I had never been to any of the ports concerned or been through the canal. Just to add to the pressure, I’ve also volunteered to give a general interest lecture on my writing. It’s too good a marketing opportunity to ignore!

Needless to say, for the whole of December and January, Fiona Mason and ‘Blood Hits the Wall’ will not get a look in. Nor will it until, I get back in mid-February. Never has a book been so aptly named, although that wasn’t what I had in mind when I chose the title.

I began writing ‘Blood Hits the Wall’ on the 1st of January 2015. True I’d had the idea floating around for a while before. It seemed a good omen. In last year’s January blog, I wrote about my writing resolutions and, what seemed then, my realistic goals. For the first few months, things went well. I exceeded targets and even managed to take out two weeks on a fabulous holiday to Japan in the Spring without any danger of slipping behind. True the mid-novel hiatus had a major impact and caused things to fall behind, but still the first draft was finished by the end of September. A major rewrite after my first editor suggested changes also got done but I still want to do a full read through before sending it to my beta readers let alone to the proof-reader.

Scripting port talks means that my writing skills are by no means put in abeyance. There are constantly being tested. I need to ensure that the history and geography of eight different countries and the descriptions of the immediate environs of the port itself plus the major sights and the various excursions that the ship has on offer, are not just factual but entertaining. The book may be side-lined, but I’m getting vital writing practice. I know that as a novelist, I need to have an ideal reader in mind as I write. To be honest, I write to please me. As a cruise lecturer, you can never lose sight of your audience in your preparation. Their needs, their expectations are always to the front. I wonder if that focus will impact on my writing when I return to the novel.

With another port cruise in April to prepare when I get back, the chances of writing and publishing another Fiona Mason within the year are pretty slim, but hey-ho, life’s never boring.

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