January kicked off the way I hoped the year would, with an explosion of work.  After a mentally tough year of levelling up as a writer in 2016, I want 2017 to be a much more productive year (not that 2016 wasn’t productive, it was just slower than previous years).
I kicked off (re)working on a new Shade Knight book.  Book #2 (whose name I’m still mulling) had 60,000 words written in December 2015 whilst I awaited feedback on Black As Knight.  So most of this month has been spent going over old work, rewriting and getting it to a stage where I can get to totally new chapters.
It’s been a mix of rewriting and editing, which was pretty much what I was doing last year, and I can already tell I’m over the hump I suffered in 2016 as I’ve nearly got through all the existing chapters and am still enjoying the process.
My plan is to try and get this draft done by early March and then leave it whilst whatever needs doing with Black As Knight gets done. I can feel the book really coming together.
I only started recording the number of words I wrote on the 22nd, but between then and the 1st February I managed nearly 30k.  I’m pleased with that and reckon the total for the month must be closer to 60k.  It’s meant a few late nights, but I’m aware how much better it will be to have a solid draft of book 2 in the bag before things start happening with book 1.
I was due comments on the latest rewrite on Black As Knight mid-end January and whilst nothing was fixed (my agent said she had a lot of work on) and I have plenty to get on with, I’m checking every email like my life depends on it.  Whether the book’s ready or it needs another rewrite I’m feeling very upbeat.  So different to last year.  I’m so glad I (hopefully) got the self-doubt out my system before things get serious.
With that in mind, I’ve gone on a bit of a positivity kick.  Given recent events in world news, I probably couldn’t have picked a worse month to do it… but hey… I like a challenge.  My mental health was thankfully pretty good, but there was a lot of doubt and frustration in 2016.  Being more positive focused in 2017, I can already feel the benefits.
I’ve also been playing a bit with social media.  After discussion with friends and experts I’m more convinced than ever that authors need to be able to market themselves as a brand in 2017.  But marketing has always been a weak point of mine, so I’ve taken on the challenge this year to learn (if for no other reason so I can make all my mistakes now when it doesn’t matter so much).  I was quite afraid of really putting myself out there like they suggest until I realised that whilst I’m as capable of being as much of a dick as the next person, it’s not like I have any skeletons in the closet that could turn people off.
For that reason, and because I got some really good advice, I’ve started blogging my day-to-day.  Called The Climb, it’s really a writing-centric journal of my day-to-day.  I have no idea if it’ll succeed or not, but I’m starting to see some interesting things with it and I’m pretty convinced that years down the line it will serve as a “making of” style blogumentary of the writing of my books.
The biggest take away so far, is that I need to learn a few more facial expressions in photos.  As I said, it’s all a learning curve.  I’m now pretty good with Instagram but need to work on my Snapchat.
I booked for Eastercon but I’ve not actively chased any panels this year.  I’ll do them if offered to me but I’m content to just sit in the bar and catch up with people.
I’ve also been helping a couple of writer friends.  I helped one with their agent query, another getting their butt working on their novel and another I tore their first 3 chapters apart (at their request). I find I work best helping people by going deep on one small piece of writing rather than a general overview.
In non-writing news, I had a big hospital visit last month.  Looks like they’ve diagnosed at least one other condition that whilst not serious (I’ve had it for years) might explain for some of the weird things my body does (massive gains and losses in weight).  They wanted a lot of urgent tests done that threw me a little.  Diet is going well although the focus has changed a little from weight loss to fill out some of my ‘baggy areas’ with muscle
My swordfighting is also going through a bit of an offensive this year.  I’ve changed my fighting style which whilst it will mean a bit of a backward step for a number of months should prove beneficial in the long term.  I’m also teaching and very much enjoying it.
The one thing I’ve not done that I wish I’d found time for is some short stories.  I wanted to write one a month and whilst I have an idea for one knocking round in my head, I’ve not organised myself well enough to make the time for it.  I also want to read more short stories.  I was going to read one a day as a challenge to myself but so far I’ve found the time to read exactly zero.
So all-in-all, January has been a solid start to the year.  There’s lots I want to accomplish in February.  First and foremost, I’d like to be close to completing this draft of Book 2 by 1st March.  I reckon the book will weigh in around 150k words so that’s possibly doable although I suspect I might slip into mid-March.  I’d also like to grow my Snapchat and Instagram.  I also promised my agent details on all my other books this time last year.  Most have synopsises written and 1st 3 chapters edited, but I’d like to get a few writer friends to go over them for me first.