2020 Year Roundup

Personal
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So, 2020. The cursed year is finally over. This has been a year unlike any other and one that we’re not likely to forget anytime soon.

It started promising, and then the Coronavirus struck. Not many people have lived through a global pandemic, and the Coronavirus has changed our daily lives for good or ill. Many of us were forced into lockdowns in order to quarantine to protect ourselves and loved ones. In the UK, I went into lockdown in March of 2020 and have yet to come out. I am immensely lucky that my day allowed me to work from home and had the infrastructure necessary to make it a possibility. As such, my daily life hadn’t changed much. I worked all throughout 2020 with the odd break here and there, but even with those breaks, I’ve spent 2020 inside. No visits to the shops besides essential purchases, no visits to my favourite zoo or pub, no hair cuts – my hair has never been longer! I had plans to attend conventions with my debut book, Sand Dancer, but all of those conventions were cancelled or brought online.

These problems are all minor compared to the many who have suffered and died because of this pandemic. It is no sacrifice for me to do the bare minimum to keep people safe; by staying inside, wearing a mask when outside etc. My heart goes to those who have lost their jobs, their loved ones, and their lives. I am also immensely grateful that I and my family have stayed safe, though I know many more people who have been affected by the pandemic.

This year from hell may be over, but the pandemic isn’t. I’ll be entering 2021 with personal plans to keep on caring for my own health and write books, but always with the intent to keep on doing what I can in the pandemic. I don’t expect things to return to normal yet, but we’ve got to hope.

It has been difficult to remain productive this year, and I’ve wrestled my own demons throughout, but I’ve also managed to force myself kicking and screaming into some normalcy. So this is what I’ve been reading, writing, and playing in 2020:

What I’ve Written in 2020

This year was meant to be the launch of Fire Walker, the sequel to my YA Fantasy Sand Dancer which released in July 2019. I started off the year behind on my own schedule because the initial drafts of Fire Walker were so big, I needed to cut it in half and rewrite it. And then when the pandemic happened, I found myself fall behind even further. I rushed to get this book finished in time for a September launch, and boy did I grind down to the bone to meet this deadline, but then my publisher realised that a September launch wouldn’t be feasible. Everyone and their cat was releasing a book in September. Mine would be completely drowned out. So instead, we pushed back Fire Walker to February 2021.

It sucks, because it meant there would be a massive gap between Sand Dancer and Fire Walker, but I agreed with the decision. I’m not the only author who has been caught in a similar net. Many authors have had a rough time this year, especially those debuting in 2020. Without conventions to sell books, it has been hard to survive.

However, splitting Fire Walker in half means that the third book in the series is now finished! So you won’t have to wait long for that in 2021.

For National Novel Writing Month this year, I also wrote a completely new project; an adult historical fantasy with steampunk vibes. The first draft of that has been finished, and I’m hoping to publish that in 2021 as well. Exciting times are coming!

My Favourite Books of 2020

I’ve actually met my Goodreads challenge of 24 books this year! 2020 was the year I embraces the philosophy of Stoicism and read quite a few books on the subject. I also read a lot of fantasy books, some indie, and more adult fantasy.

This was the year I discovered Leigh Bardugo and R. F. Kuang. I absolutely fell in love with the Grishaverse and The Poppy War, and will now count these among my favourite books.

My absolutely favourite book this year was Leigh Bardugo’s Ninth House which you can find on Goodreads. I know it came out in 2019 and I’m late to the party, but I loved this world and characters. It’s miles ahead of Bardugo’s YA series (even though I love those too!) in terms of plot, pacing, character development and just pure sophistication, and I desperately need more.

I also fell in love with Radio by J. Rushing, a unique historical fantasy/sci-fi tale of gods and technology set in 1920’s Paris. Radio isn’t normally the fantasy I go for, but it was so weird and wonderful it has completely changed my outlook on the types of books I want to read and write. This was my indie read of the year and you can find it on Goodreads.

It has been a great year for books and I can’t wait to read more fantasy and more indie in 2021.

My Favourite Video Games of 2020

So I played quite a few games in 2020 in order to distract myself from the hell, especially in the first half of the year when the pandemic first hit and I needed the distraction.

At the same time as I entered quarantine, I bought myself s PS4; specifically for the Final Fantasy VII Remake, but my console came with a copy of Death Stranding and I absolutely fell in love with that game. Death Stranding is one of those Marmite games where you either see it as a boring walking simulator with no gameplay, or you fall in deep with the nuance of the world and praise it as a cult classic. It’s a dark and strange game, and that’s why I loved it. The world building, the plot, the characters were all next level to me. I regularly describe it as the most terrifying and relaxing game I’ve ever played!

Death Stranding is also a great metaphor for the pandemic. In this world, America has been shattered and is overrun by an enemy you can’t see and that can kill you with a touch. You play the role of a porter delivering essential supplies between communities who are forced to isolate for their own survival. Sound familiar?

As well as loving Death Stranding and FFVII, I also passed my quarantine time playing Animal Crossing on the Switch and getting into Skyrim modding again. As I entered the second half of the year, I became too busy with writing to spend much time on games. The less said about Cyberpunk 2077 the better, but I must give a shout out to Hades, my favourite indie game of 2020!

I’m hoping to play more indie games in the coming year!

What’s Happening in 2021?

2020 may be over, but we’ve still got a long way to go before the pandemic ends. We can’t get complacent yet. We still need to support and help each other.

That said, I have GRAND PLANS for 2021! The sequel to Sand Dancer will be launching early next year so please join me on February 23rd to welcome FIRE WALKER into the world!

In 2021, I aim to be productive and prolific by publishing the third book in the Sand Dancer series and writing the fourth. The fourth book is set in the wintery wonderland of Hartnor, so I’m hoping you’ll get to read that in Winter 2021. I’m also aiming to publish my new adult fantasy in 2021 as well.

I hope you also have a fantastic 2021 ahead! Things can only get better.

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