Another weird one: done! But I’m going to set all that aside and focus on my writing for a minute. I’ve hit another bunch of firsts; started, progressed, and finished some stories; met some fantastic people; and connected with more amazing readers! You can check out my 2020 recap first, or scroll on down to see a bit of what I’ve been up to in 2021…
Completed my gay romcom novella series
What began life as as one-pager short story in early 2020, grew and grew into a novella trilogy, and that’s where we’ll leave our boys Arthur and Gabriel, at least for now. Who knows what might happen in the future?
Published Over and Out (Rise and Shine #3)
I had great fun writing Arthur and Gabriel’s third instalment, Over and Out, which was released in February. After spending two books throwing out random story threads without a thought, it was a satisfying challenge bringing it all back together. But I was determined to give the boys the send-off they deserved!
New cover designs for books 1 and 2
I updated my first two book covers because they didn’t communicate well what they were about. I realised I needed to make them more genre-appropriate to better signal to potential readers what they might find inside. Both Duck and Dive and Slip and Slide got facelifts, so everyone would know what they’re in for at a glance i.e. a light-hearted, contemporary tale with gays, romance, and comedy. The recently released Over and Out had already been designed with the new scheme in mind, so no changes were necessary.
Published series in paperback
After a couple of rounds of preparing paperback files, ordering proof copies, and making adjustments, I released all three Rise and Shine books in paperback format.
In July I discussed the possibility of releasing my books as paperbacks, then prepared and ordered proof copies of Duck and Dive which arrived in mid September. I identified a few adjustments I wanted to make and used what I’d learnt to prepare a second round of proofs, pulling through the changes to all three books. These arrived in the post in mid October, and I was very happy with how they turned out. So, I hit publish, and the paperbacks were available to the public for the first time in late October.
Published series on Kobo and Apple
In my campaign to make my books more widely available and accessible in different formats, I also started pushing out onto other platforms.
3 new short stories
In 2021 I released three new pieces of short fiction. I had fun experimenting with these stories, each one quite different to the last.
Works in progress
The Pirate and the Baker (working title)
In 2021 I completed the second and third major edits for The Pirate and the Baker (working title) – my YA historical fantasy adventure novel. The second draft comprised the story edit (AKA developmental or structural edit), and I completed this in April.
During that draft I identified many, many changes that needed to be made. So my third draft – nominally a line edit but in truth effectively a top-to-toe rewrite – took months to complete, finally wrapping up in late October, just in time for NaNoWriMo.
This draft is now with my beta readers, and I can’t wait to hear what they think!
The Milverton Mysteries – Book 1 (untitled)
The moment I sent off the previous novel to my beta readers, I announced I’d be attempted NaNoWriMo for the very first time with a brand new book – there’s nothing quite like a public declaration for committing to something!
If you don’t know about NaNoWriMo, or want to find out how it went for me, I pulled together my daily updates into one blog post at the end of November.
Now, I reached the 50,000 word target by 30 November, but the story still wasn’t finished! It took another 9 days and 9,000 words at the start of December to finish the thing off. Then, the very next day I chatted with Mark Stay of the Bestseller Experiment podcast about how I survived NaNoWriMo during a special Deep Dive episode – talk about fresh off the press!
I have set this very rough first draft aside with the intention of leaving it for 4-6 weeks to gain some distance and objectivity, then I’ll get stuck into the edits.
It’s been great to see people discovering me and my writing throughout the year, so I thought I’d summarise roughly where I’m finding readers / where readers have found me. The following numbers are approximate, comparing where things stood at the end of 2020 versus right now (the end of 2021)…
My mailing list has gone from 20 subscribers (i.e. some very gracious family and friends, thank you) and shot up to about 860 active subscribers!
I often highlight my mailing list because it’s the most reliable way for me to get news out, so I’m glad to see it getting traction!
Now, by ‘active’ I mean readers regularly open and engage with my emails. I’ve done a couple of clean ups throughout the year by removing those who had joined then disengaged for whatever reason. I understand this is an important part of maintaining a healthy mailing list to avoid emails being dumped into junk folders where nobody can find them!
My website (www.gbralph.com)
My website’s blog follower count has gone from around 30 to 100 this year. I don’t actively point people to follow my blog as it’s more a place where I can jot down thoughts and keep a record of what’s going on with me and my writing in a nice, easily searchable space. It’s great for posts like this 2021 recap, for example!
On a related note, my website’s total pageviews have gone from around 950 during 2020 to over 3600 during 2021.
I’m mostly active on Twitter and have enjoyed a lot of engagement this year. I’m on Instagram and Facebook too, but to a lesser extent. Feel free to find me on any or all of the socials:
What’s next in 2022?
So many things! But, I think that’s plenty enough for today. I’ll restrict this post to a reflection on the trials and tribulations of 2021, and next time we’ll get into looking forward.
If you want to be sure not to miss it, jump on my free mailing list – you’ll get a couple of exclusive short stories right away, then I drop it back to one or two emails a month only. I hope to see you there!