This time last year I had just set up the writers' group Writebulb with my friends Stuart, Brigid and Jane and we were looking forward to our first meeting. Throughout my life I'd always written but never thought I'd ever be published; I'd let very few people read my writing, I'd barely heard of a Kindle and although I used the internet I knew nothing about social networking.
The turning point came when Stuart asked Penelope Fletcher to speak to the Writebulb group about her work. I can honestly say that until that point I'd never even heard the phrase 'indie author'! I still have an image of me sitting there, listening to her speak, scribbling down everything she said about putting your work on the web - what an inspiration she was (and still is) to me! I remember thinking 'I can do that'. So I did. I rushed home, dug out a story I'd written some years ago for my son, worked hard on it and then self published.
I'm now on the point of publishing my third Burly and Grum book. The second book, The Secret City, has been downloaded over 22,000 times just in the month of December from amazon.com. I haven't made any money so far but I have to say that I've learnt an incredible amount!
I have surprised myself on so many levels. I bought a Kindle (love it just as much as I love 'real' books!), created this blog when I'd never even read a blog before, cursed and sweated as I set up the Burly & Grum website and Facebook page. I'd never understood Twitter but set up an account and have started tweeting and I've also given interviews (BBC Radio Essex and the GMTA literary community). I have published my books on Smashwords and personally, I can't say enough good things about Mark Coker who heads it up, he really leads the way for us indie authors. I've also self published on Amazon, found out about ITIN numbers, visited the US Embassy and I'm just about to put my books into print - it's been quite a journey!
Every single one one of those statements above could start with the words "I surprised myself by...."
But the biggest single surprise this year has been how supportive and wonderful people are. So many people have given me their help without asking anything in return - Rob (the incredibly talented artist who has brought Burly and Grum to life), Stuart, who has helped me in my struggles with technology, Richard Farr who is helping with the design of the book covers, Linda Palmer who has just put her hand up and said she'll do the editing, Kitty Bullard from the Great Minds Literary Community (thank you for the great reviews Kitty!), Penelope Fletcher who is so inspiring, Mark from Witherbys done so much scanning for me, Joanne from the Born Free Foundation and all my family and friends - Angus my son (who has been very patient), Dawn and Eddie, Carol, Anna, Gemma, Heather - everyone has been so supportive. Thank you all and one day I hope I'll be able to surprise you all by being able to pay you back with more than just a cup of coffee!
As 2011 ends I feel as though I've accomplished a huge amount and if you've managed to read through this far, it will come as no surprise to you that in 2012 I'll be working just hard to learn, improve and make the Burly & Grum books as good as they can be!
Wishing you all a most wonderful New Year!