Wednesday 31 December 2014


2014 – The year so many things changed


Maybe my New Year’s resolution should be to blog some more, but I don’t believe in New Year’s resolutions. You see I’m already good at feeling guilty for things I haven’t done, so adding failing to achieve my resolution isn’t something I want to do. Therefore, I hope I will put some of my thoughts down more often, but maybe I won’t.

This year has brought major changes in my life. After being made redundant because my school, where I’d worked for 28 years, was being closed, I applied for early retirement because my arthritis made many things impossible. My old school had worked around me, but I argued, successfully, that another school wouldn’t want to be so generous to an old and expensive history teacher, no matter how good her references. To begin with my application was refused, but many things changed for me in March. As well as my retirement, I also was offered a contract for my first novel by Totally Bound Publishers.

Sporting Chance, the story of teacher, Iestyn Jones and out, gay, rugby player, Dan Morgan, came out in November and has done reasonably well, hitting the top 100 in gay romance in the UK and Australia. Looking back, I’m amazed the publisher took on such a raw manuscript. I’ve learnt a heck of a lot since then about editing and, indeed, writing. Reviews of my fanfiction had told me I could tell a tale, but I’ve discovered there’s so much more to this writing lark than the story, and my admiration for writers has grown immensely. I’ve read over 150 books this year, mostly mm romance to find out how other authors do it. Now, instead of just reading the story, I look at how the story is told, even down to the placing of commas.

In March, buoyed by the success my first contract, I submitted another story, Rainbow Connection, the tale of Mick Flanagan, a social outcast and Ceri Llewellyn, his knight in not so shining armour, who persuades him to step out into the world, to MLR Press. They turned it down, but suggested some revisions, so I did as they asked and sent it back and heard nothing. Then, out of the blue, I received an e-mail offering me a contract. More editing and several months later, the novella comes out next February.

Since then, I’ve written a short story for Goodreads, and discovered the no-no of adultery in mm stories, and had another short story rejected for an anthology. My experience of editing has taught me why, and I’ve rewritten the story intending to submit it again somewhere as a ‘light bite’ story. I’ve finished writing the sequel to Sporting Chance about Aron, Dan’s first boyfriend, which is called Comfort Zone, and written another story about two older men, entitled No Place Like Home. I’m hoping someone will take a chance on John and Jamie’s story of finding love after over thirty years apart, as they deserve to have their story told, and older people need love too.

I have other ideas waiting to be made into stories; Emlyn Williams is particularly keen to tell me about himself, usually at around five in the morning. His story will be the third, after Comfort Zone, and already has the provisional title Half Full, because he’s that sort of a guy. In the meantime, I have another Scottish story to finish, but it’s been tough going.

All of this hasn’t been achieved without the help of others. My friends and family have put up with me going on about the men in my head. They’ve listened to and read my words and not batted an eyelid at my choice of genre. My online friends, both authors and in fandom, have also given me invaluable encouragement and advice. My editors have done the same. It’s been a real team effort.

So, that was 2014. My arthritis has good and bad days, and so does my writing. It's funny, when I was young I used to walk home from school day dreaming about what life would be like in the year 2000; now, we’re fifteen years into the new century. One thing I never dreamed was that I’d be able to call myself an author, but, finally, in 2015 I can give myself that description. 2014 was indeed a year of changes. I wonder what 2015 will bring.