2018 in review – (better late than never)

2018 has been an amazing year, and yet, as I think back over it, I struggle to remember all the small details that added up to make it feel so good. Even, I confess, I struggle to remember what books I wrote/published and when they all came out. This, no doubt, is because I had much of December 2018 away from the keyboard (apart from an editing job I had to do) following on from the exhaustion of nailing a ‘quite large’ word count during NaNoWriMo (or November for those not yet inducted into the world of National Novel Writing Month (The word count was bigger than the 50K NaNo suggests, but I’m not bragging about it:))).

But, perhaps, NaNoWriMo is a good place to start, because, I hope, NaNoWriMo2017 brought forth my first release of 2018. Wait. Wait! I tell a lie. NaNoWriMo2017 was a fantasy project. Sigh. Ask me about events 1000 years ago, and I’m fine. Ask me about last January and I utterly fail!

So, again.

Right, 2018 began with the release of The First Queen of England Part 2 on 24th December 2017. My next project, perhaps unsurprisingly, was The First Queen of England Part 3, released in April 2018, and the final title in The First Queen of England Trilogy, although not the last I wrote about Queen Elfrida.

With the trilogy finished, I turned my attention back to a slightly abandoned project, The Earls of Mercia. Quite frankly, I was a bit terrified. I’d not written an Earls book for some time – allowing myself to be swept along by Queen Elfrida, Lady Ælfwynn, a fantasy book and no doubt other things I now can’t remember. What made the return to the Earls all the more terrifying, is that I’d long moved on from the time period I’d studied for my dissertation, and was getting to what I would term, ‘the more complicated bit’ of the eleventh century. Even my ‘timeline’ had run out – filled only with the sporadic accounts of people’s births and deaths and little else. This is the time period (1035 onwards) which many people think they ‘know’ but which was still filled with huge potential for Leofric and his son.

In the end, I thoroughly enjoyed my return to Leofric, and Book 7 was released in July 2018. By now I’d made a monumental ‘life’ decision, and given up the ‘day job’ to turn my hand to full-time writing. This, I confess, worried the hell out of me for the first few weeks – when effectively, I wrote a book in 3 weeks flat – so desperate to prove I had the motivation and desire to succeed without the dislike of the ‘day job’ to drive me ever onwards with my writing goals.

The result was, a somewhat unexpected, return to the world of Queen Elfrida, and The King’s Mother. Purposefully designed to be a little ‘harsher’ in outlook, to give Queen Elfrida the ‘savvy’ she needed to succeed, I thoroughly enjoyed writing The King’s Mother.

So what next? In true style, I didn’t opt for the ‘easier’ option of writing the next book in The King’s Mother Trilogy but instead returned to the world of The Earls of Mercia, and The Earl’s King was released on 24th December 2018.

I’ve taught myself a few tricks when writing sequels. I used to, back in the day, immediately write a draft beginning and end for the next book when I’d finished the previous book, now, I make copious notes on the final edit, and then make even more notes on what I think should happen next – it’s normally a long list of questions and a few character names but I rely on it when I return to old projects to get the ‘feel’ right for the next book. I’ve also started ‘character’ and ‘plot’ summaries for each character. I have a little book for The Earls of Mercia, filled with characters and descriptions, and I’m not sharing it!

But that wasn’t the end of my writing. So to NaNoWriMo2018, and I gave myself (I know, how devilish) a month away from historical fiction (just about), and a month to write fantasy (my first love). I had half a novel from NaNoWriMo2017 which needed finishing, and also another idea that was making my head hurt with its desire to be written. As a back-up, I also had the sequel to The King’s Mother should my fantasy projects crash and burn.

In the end, I wrote a huge amount of words – and have two good first drafts to edit for both my fantasy projects and a small beginning on the historical fiction novel, which will be finished in February this year.

Aside from writing, I went to two author events, (daunting stuff), and met some great people, and had my work assessed by an agent at one of the events, and a publisher at another. While neither moved forward with the project, the feedback was excellent – perhaps if I didn’t write in such a ‘niche’ time-period I would fare better with publishers/agents – but hey, don’t call Anglo-Saxon England and the Viking era ‘niche’!

I also met some lovely authors at the events – all of us just about as awkward as we can be – authors, they don’t get out much you know.

As for book sales throughout 2018 – I must thank each and every reader who chose one of my titles and enjoyed it. Sales have increased, and not just because of ‘new releases’ and I step into 2019 confident that I ‘might’ (just about) finally know what I’m about and how I can achieve it – both with historical fiction and fantasy. I’m still teaming with ideas and have made no firm plans for my writing after the end of February – otherwise, I’ll be stubborn and rebel against it!

I also have a new, far flashier, website thanks to ‘tech-support’ teenager. (I would recommend that all author’s get a ‘tech-support’ teenager – although they are quite an expensive investment.)


So, here’s to an exciting 2018, and hopefully, an even more thrilling 2019.

(I’m going to do a year review of books I recommend next.)




Author: M J Porter, author

I'm a writer of historical fiction (Early England/Viking and the British Isles as a whole before 1066, as well as two 20th century mysteries).

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