30th December

The Book of 2012!

I can’t believe 2012 is almost here – where did 2011 go? I remember, as a child, my mum saying how time flew as you got older.  It seems such a bizarre concept when you’re young, that the speed of time could vary according to your age.  Those six week summers seemed more like six months than six weeks.  Each day felt like a week, and in my memory they were always long sunny days where we played in the garden from dawn until dusk.  No matter how little money we had, mum and dad always made sure we had a holiday, and it was nearly always a place where there was sand and sea.  It’s funny how things like this stick.  I still find myself longing for the sea.

Buttercup Magic: A Mystery for Megan

I’m not big on planning in my day to day life and tend to avoid it as much as possible, but with the end of one year and the beginning of another, I think it’s inevitable that we think about what has been and what we would like for the future.  And sometimes, if the current year has been a baddie, what we would like the new year NOT to be like!  There’s normally something in our minds, the most important thing that we want, that we hope for in the year to come.  Sometimes this can be an abstract thing, such as happiness, health, the well-being of the people we love, but quite often there is something more specific.  You could compare this to the main plot in a novel.  Then there are the other, less important things, the sub-plots if you like.  We have ideas for these but they are not as important.  My main plot in The Book of 2012 is to find an agent, a good agent.  Having made next to no effort to find an agent in the past, preferring to approach publishers direct, I now find myself latching on to this idea as if it’s one that I have just invented.  The manuscripts are written… approaches are to be made.

Then the subplots… The Book of ‘2012’ wouldn’t be very interesting without them.  Buttercup Magic: A Mystery for Megan, (for 6-9 year olds), comes out in paperback in April with Piccadilly Press.  I have a launch to plan, and, obviously, I want the book to do well.  I want to hold it in my hands and read it.  I want to see it on bookshelves and in libraries.  These things are all part of ‘the dream’, part of The Book of ‘2012’.

Derbyshire has its wonderful literary festival in May and I have four slots to fill.  I missed the last festival (I was still nervously peeping out of my writers’ shell at that point) so, even though I’ve done school and library visits before, I’m still a bit nervous about it.  I’ve now written the 2nd book in the Buttercup Magic series.  It was interesting to see how the story moved in a different way to the first.  I don’t know whether it will be published.  There’s no certainty in these things.  A 2nd book depends so much on overseas interest and how well the 1st book has done, which makes it a bit of an unknown at the moment.

My plot planner, the first one I have ever done, for my YA novel currently known as

TSP Plot Planner

TSP (not TCP which is that vile anti-bacterial stuff we were made to gargle as kids when we had a sore throat) sits beside me on the floor as I write.  Two days before Christmas I completed this – at least, it is as finished as it can be for the moment.  I am eager now to write the book.  The first 1/4 of the book was written in the Autumn and then put to one side while I worked on the rest of the plot planner (more about plot planning, making and using a planner in next week’s Blog post.)

Crab on pebble beach

My Book of 2012 wouldn’t be complete without a holiday.  As I said earlier, I crave the sea!   In 2010 we went to Caernarfon in Wales.  I have three particular memories of this holiday that I am sure will last for ever.  The private beach five minutes from the converted barn we were staying in, and the subject of my poem, Traeth Cerrig, (click here to read the poem), the run away sheep who we tried to rescue, and the village of Beddgelert, approached by a windy road running through the most astonishing mountain scenery I have ever experienced.

Last year, we went to Anglesey and stayed in the most stunning old mill house on a hill

A boat trip for the hound

overlooking a valley, the sea just visible on two sides.  The approach was through woodland and fields of sheep – a walk I made numerous times a day with our greyhound.  We had a fantastic time running along nearly deserted beaches  and crab fishing in the rock pools.  Our hound had her first boat trip during a visit to Puffin Island, an event which inspired a book I have written for 6-9 year olds, and which I hope will find a publisher soon.  This year, we’ll be going back! We didn’t get to visit the RSPB place at South Stack last time, and would love to do that.  Also, the West of the island is only a stone’s throw from Dublin.  My great grandma, who I never knew, was Irish, and despite attempts to track down more details about her on the internet, I haven’t been able to.  I’d like to hop over to the main records office in Dublin and see if I can find anything out about her there.  This will also become part of another writing project I hope to work on for The Book of 2012.

It strikes me, as I write this, how much of the future is a pulling together of the past, how much of what we hope for is affected by what has been.  Life really is like a book – it’s our story.  We can plan it, but it can branch off in unknown directions, just like the plots in our stories.  You can only know what is in your mind to do, you cannot know the path it will take.

Last, but not least, some Thank yous!

A big thank you to all Tweeps who follow me and to those I follow, for making me feel so at home on Twitter after only 6 months, for brightening my days and making the spaces between writing so worth while.  Special thanks to The Awfully Big Blog @AwfullyBigBlog for welcoming me into the fold and to Jenny Alexander @jennyalexander4, We Love This Book @welovethisbook and Women Writers, Women Books @WomenWriters, for inviting me to guest blog for them this year.  Thanks also to everyone who has reviewed Grub’s Pubs, to everyone who takes the time to read these posts and to those of you who leave your comments – always appreciated, and like rose petals showing me the way.  Thank you xxx

Do you make plans with the start of a new year? Or do you prefer to go with the flow?

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About Abi Burlingham

I write children's books and paint pictures inspired by nature, animals, trees etc, mostly in acrylics. I am a crisp addict.
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23 Responses to 30th December

  1. Wow, you’re good. Still blogging between Christmas and New Year? Phew. I’m having a break – service is resumed after Jan 1st. Still, it’s always a pleasure to read your blog and I hope 2012 brings you everything you hope for – good luck with ‘A Mystery for Megan’ and I’ll keep my fingers crossed that you find a good agent.

  2. Thanks Dan – I have a lump the size of a golf ball in my throat now! Lots of luck for you in 2012 too, and keep writing your lovely funny blog posts.

  3. Great goals and plans for 2012! I still need to do this too… because like you, I’m definitely a planner, especially as time does seem to go faster and faster. I am so looking forward to reading A Mystery for Megan and the rest of your story of 2012. My goals are to finish the editing of my current WIP and find an agent (maybe a publisher!) and to finish writing WIP#2, a mystery, about 1/3 complete. Plus, I’m looking forward to continuing the wonderful Twitter and blogger friendships I started in 2011!

  4. They’re fab goals Julia – very focussed! It is good to have these targets isn’t it? I can’t wait to send you a copy of Buttercup Magic and really hope you like it. Here’s to 2012 and finished WIPs, finding agents AND getting published!

  5. Jenny Alexander says:

    I love this post! I always get together with a group of friends in January to discuss last year’s challenges and set new ones for the year to come. Most people do have one major goal and a couple of smaller ones, like your main-plot, sub-plots idea. I always make a collage afterwards to set my intentions and provide a physical reminder throughout the year. My friend and astro-life-coach has blogged a great New Year goal-setting exercise http://astrolifecoach.wordpress.com/ I’m even newer than you to twitter and blogging, and you’re one of my ‘finds’ Abi – your guest post on my blog is brilliant

  6. Ah, thank you so much, Jenny. What a great, positive way to start the year! I love the idea of a collage – what a wonderful record to have as the years go by too. I shall check out the astrolife blogsite. So pleased you liked the guest post – I loved doing it, and it was my first ‘airing’ of Buttercup Magic!

  7. Jo Carroll says:

    I’ve drafted a post on this very topic – it will be out on Monday, if I can get organised by then. I’m not good at organisation. (Though I do have flights to Nepal booked for the end of March. No idea what I’m doing when I get there – just know I’m going. That’s enough planning for now!)

  8. We’re in sync Jo! Planning my writing is definitely something that hasn’t come naturally to me. You’re going to Nepal – wow! I think that is all the planning you need Jo. Happy new year and I hope you have an amazing time.

  9. Martin Day says:

    Enjoyed your blog again, Abi. It’s good to set objectives and good to review (which is rarer). It can sometimes be interesting to note the goals that were hit with out even having aimed at them! For me there is a big question mark over 2012 as this is the year that the money runs out. I’m enjoying what I am doing but the rent must get paid, so working unpaid for two charities doesn’t quite do it.

    On the writing front, I have a musical to press on with and a secret script that I am working on with a friend (don’t tell anyone). So, like I’ve mentioned before, I’m not really a writer and have no immediate plans to write another book but dabble in all sorts of areas.

    Like you I’m happily influenced by family holidays. Of my Animal Parables, ‘The Crab’ and ‘The Mackerel’ are inspired by exploring at the beach.

    All the best with your plans for 2012

  10. Martin, you’ve been such a consistent commentor and reader of my posts, so I must first thank you for that. You always give me something to think about too, which I really like! In this case, it’s your comment about goals being hit when not necessarily aimed at – yes! I’m not religious so to speak, but am a big believer in karma, and I think this is karma’s way of rewarding you for the downs and disappointments in your life. I must read your parables – I have a bit of an obsession with photographing single objects of beaches – my photos would go perfectly with your parables. Loads of luck in 2012 with your future projects and I hope you get to keep on doing what you’re doing now.

  11. I have also just finished reflecting on the past year and looking forward to the next. I like your analogy that it is much like a book with plots and sub-plots. Now I look at my own I can see which they are.

    I wish you so much luck with finding and agent and getting book two out there. I will be following your great blog to keep updated. It’s a rollercoaster of a trip this writing lark isn’t it? At least with Twitter and blogs, we know we aren’t alone.

    Have a great 2012!

  12. Rebecca, you have hit the proverbial nail on the proverbial head in so many ways! Loads of luck to you too – it helps so much having each other! Will check out your post too. Happy New Year!

  13. Emma Pass says:

    I have got everything crossed for you in 2012, Abi. You have been such a great friend to me (on Twitter and in real life) and I will be over the moon to see you get an agent and get Buttercup 2 published, as well as having success with all your other writing projects, especially TSP. Because you WILL do all these things – I feel it in my bones! Happy New Year. xx

  14. Ahhh, thank you Emma *sniffs and wipes eyes*. Let’s hope it’s a good writing year for us both, and a good one in all other ways too! Happy New Year to you too x

  15. Ann says:

    Congratulations on your new book! Your picture of the TSP plot planner is very interesting. I’ve never seen anything like it (I’m not a writer) I’d love to see an explanation of that and I’m excited to see that post!

    I’ve actually made some goals this year – I usually go with the flow. I have been mentally circling them, but I’m just about ready to write them down. They are blogging goals – more of what I want to accomplish on the business end rather than the cooking end. I’ve also starting a list of what I want to make in 2012…THAT’S a long list!

  16. Hi Ann, thank you for that. Hopefully all will be explained on the plot planer in next week’s post, although, like the novel, it is in itself very much a work in progress. I think it’s great to set some blogging goals. I really should set some cooking goals – I set one last year, to make some pies – I failed miserably! Happy New Year Ann.

  17. MC Rogerson says:

    All the best with the ongoing story, Abi. I’m certain that you will find your agent and succeed with your writing projects. ‘m a bit of a planner so have lots of goals for 2012, but my main aim is to enjoy the moment next year. So pleased to have met you both on and offline in 2011. Wishing you a very Happy New Year!

  18. Lari Don says:

    Good luck with all those sub-plots! I hope 2012 goes to plan for you, but that it surprises you in good ways too (just like a book only comes to life when you write it, however much you’ve planned it). I’ve struggled to come up with a New Year’s Resolution this year, that isn’t just: TRY TO COPE! But I think I probably need to get to grips with new technology like ebooks. Rather than seeing it as an enemy of my writing, see it as another way to get stories to readers. Anyway, look forward to reading more of your blogs and your books next year!

    • Hi Lari, thanks for that. Yes, you are right, the surprises are part of the fun of it all. I’m with you on the ebooks thing – my attitude towards them, as a lover of the printer book, is a tad negative at the moment – I suspect that may need to change. Happy New Year Lari!

  19. Hope you get everything you wish for in 2012, Abi. It’s been great making friends with you!

  20. Thank you Marnie, you too 🙂

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