So it’s a year since I hit publish on Kenneth’s Queen! Actually it’s been a year and a week, but on the anniversary I was in medieval Suffolk (well, almost medieval – very old house, no WIFI, candles lighting the way to bed etc.) and since then I’ve been getting on with my latest book and supervising Easter egg hunts. However the children are back at school today and I’m feeling too distracted by the shock General Election announcement to immerse myself in the politics of 1000 years ago, so I can finally say
Happy Birthday Women of the Dark Ages!
The Women of the Dark Ages was a somewhat unexpected birth. When I started writing Kenneth’s Queen the series was meant to be ‘Queens of Scotland’. But during writing I realised I did not want to go more modern than the Mac Alpin dynasty and so while I would certainly like to revisit Scotland in this series it will not be with the Canmores, Bruces and Stewarts, but with the Picts, Gaels and Vikings.
So, it’s been quite a year. Two more books followed Kenneth’s Queen and I discovered some wonderful historical characters I had never previously encountered. A huge thank you to everyone who has bought a copy. I don’t know many of your names – I wish I did! Thank you to those who have taken the time to leave reviews or to get in touch via Facebook and Goodreads. I well remember the excitement of that first sale just hours after the book went live. Even though I now see sales almost every time I check I still feel that same excitement and gratitude for each and every sale. I hope that never changes – the day I start taking readers for granted is the day I should stop writing.
One of the things I first discovered upon publication was that I had no idea of how to promote my work. I had also completly underestimated how vulnerable publication would make me feel. For months characters live only in my head and only belong to me. Then I hit publish and the characters I have come to love so much go out into the world for anyone to meet. So thank you to everyone who has encouraged me. A few special mentions are deserved here.
Firstly to my second son, Jono, always a sounding board for questions like ‘how many named characters is it ok to kill off?’ when I became concerned by the mounting death toll of Kenneth’s Queen! He also gave up several days of his Easter holiday last year to help me with the cover, heroically coping when I announced the blonde model needed to be a red head!
Thank you also to friends Paul and Kirsty who were the recipients of my first panicked message to please like my Facebook Page. Bless them, they not only did that but splashed it all over Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc. while I hid away on an internet blackout – every introverted author needs friends like this!
Another thank you to everyone who has shared posts, retweeted promos, or featured my books on their blog. I am lucky that there are too many to mention, but every share, retweet and mention is truly appreciated.
Writing can be a crazy pass time, so a supportive community is always a big help. People who understand the highs and lows of the process and don’t think you’re a lunatic for crying over the death of one of your characters! For anyone in the same boat I can strongly recommend Facebook group Writer’s Assembled. Members there range from people who write the occasional poem or short story to those with full publishing deals, so whatever your ability or ambition you are welcome.
It is often a bit of a cliche to thank someone with the words ‘without them this book could not have been written’. But in my case this is quite literally true. I never forget that there were real people who lived through and often suffered through the events of the stories. So to Cinaed Mac Alpin, his unknown wife and all the others who suffered the devastating Norse attacks; To the Island Girl, Wehha, Radigis and all who suffered in the famines and plagues caused by that far away volcanic explosion; And to Judith the Beautiful and Wise a child bride, who lived through accusations, loss, imprisonment and a desperate journey as a fugitive. Thank you – it has been a privilege to tell your stories.
I do feel I should have done something momentous to mark this first year. A new release would have been good or at least a cover reveal, but unfortunately I’m not organised enough for that. But I shall at least reveal the (currently provisional) title.
Coming soon – The Saxon Marriage
Until then, here’s the family so far!