It only feels like a few days ago that I was sitting down to write my update for January, and yet somehow, here we are again. February might be a couple of days shorter than the other months, but it feels even shorter than that. So how has so much managed to happen in the past four weeks?

Some of that, of course, I mean globally. But some of it I mean personally as well.

A Few Good Things:

Perhaps the most exciting development this month has been getting my agent’s feedback on the manuscript for my second novel.

I like to think I’m fairly hardy in terms of feedback – I’ve been part of enough workshops and writing groups over the years to be well adjusted to hearing people talk about my work. But it can still be incredibly nerve-wracking, waiting to hear whether a piece of writing is working for someone. With something as long as a novel, the time investment is so much more than, say, a poem, that nerve-wracking can quickly become terrifying. What if it falls flat? What if the idea is hopeless, and the conclusion is you have no choice but to scrap it and start over? However much confidence I have in a piece of writing, these thoughts will often flash through my head.

Luckily, the feedback was far more positive than that. In fact, I think it was my favourite kind of feedback: lots of positives, with some good solid editing suggestions to work on in the next draft. So that’s how I’m going to be spending my March: with my head buried in my manuscript, working gradually through my list of edits.

‘Marie first became obsessed with digging things up the week they buried her dad…’

But it isn’t all about work-in-progress. After the slew of successes in January, February has felt much lighter on the publishing front – although I still had a short story published in Joyland.

The story was written (and is largely set) in 2020, during the first lockdown, and features a mystery grey cat who appears as if from nowhere.

And speaking of published work, I’ve also been out and about signing copies of My Name is Monster over the past few weeks. The Abbey Kitchen cafe in Shap has a stack of them, as does Sam Read Bookseller in Grasmere (also available online here).

The Month in Books:

Not as many books as last month, thanks to a number of things which have cropped up over the past few weeks – not least having to sit down and re-read my own manuscript, to remind myself what happens in it before I approach the edits. But that saying about quality not quantity definitely rings true, because this month’s reading was excellent. A couple of proofs for books due out later this year, plus the second novel about medieval nuns I’ve read recently.

  • there are more things, by Yara Rodrigues Fowler
  • Matrix, by Lauren Groff
  • The Seawomen, by Chloe Timms

I keep waiting to read a bad book, but so far this year has been superb! Now looking forward to diving back into my TBR pile for March.

The Month in Pictures: