Taking Stock of 2015

The end of my debut year is here! It’s been an incredible twelve months: I’ve made tons of new friends, gone to amazing events all over the country, and got to know some incredible writers. So here’s some of the amazing things I’ve done over the last year.

The Good:

Writing

I wrote a new novel called The Loneliest Girl in the Universe, finishing it the day before I turned 23. It’s my third, and definitely the one I’m most proud of, for lots of reasons (most of which I shouldn’t talk about just yet, as it’s still unannounced…).

Hopefully there’ll be more news on this front in 2016, but for now –

Publication

TNTOG_anim4bMy first novel was released in the UK, Australia and New Zealand! Obviously this is the best thing to happen …. ever.  There were lots of amazing things related to this, but some of the highlights were being featured in the Australian subscription box the YA Chronicles, becoming a #1 Bestseller on Amazon in the sci fi category for the last month, and being mentioned in Marie Claire, The Bookseller and The Sunday Express! (I feel like that’s more of an achievement of my publicist, who is pretty excellent, than myself personally, but I’m including it anyway). People also made fanart and
fanfiction and gifsets about something I created, which is just . . . wow.

I was awarded a writing grant from Arts Council England, supported by the National Lottery. To be chosen was really touching and I’m so grateful.

yashotI participated in my first author events, including a book launch (!), school workshops and bookshop events. I even got to chair a panel at YA Shot! At my first event at Nine Worlds Con I was very, very nervous, but to my surprise, I’ve quickly got the hang of public speaking. I don’t get too worried before events any more. Getting so much practice at public speaking this year is one of the things I’m proudest of – I’ve done nearly 20 events all on my own! Some other highlights were UKYA Extravaganza, my visits to the Uni of Notts, my old sixth form and Kenilworth Books, YALC and a blogging panel at Waterstones Birmingham.

I also had a professional photoshoot with Pete Bedwell, which was very surreal and fun.

I got to blurb Catherine Doyle’s second book Inferno (out this week, and amazing!).

Non-fiction writing

tumblr_nruh84k7Tw1qa24muo1_500I wrote some non-fiction for the first time. I wrote an article for The Guardian called ‘Scientific inaccuracies your favourite historical characters definitely believed’. I also wrote a humorous scientific essay for The Toast called ‘The Hogwarts Houses of the Periodic Elements: A Critical Analysis’, achieving one of my personal goals for the year – to write a freelance article for my favourite website.

I did a huge amount of publicity for The Next Together, including writing a whole series of extras for the book including a Buzzfeed quiz, playlists, moodboards and short stories. It was a lot (lot) of work that I doubt I’ll do to that level for a book release again – I spent so much time working for free this year! – but I’m really glad I gave my debut the best possible start I could.

 

alice

My favourite video with Alice Oseman!

I was also lucky enough to be invited to film lots of vlog interviews with book bloggers like Lucy Powrie and Two Paper Girls, which was so much fun. 

 

I interviewed a series of publishing professionals, lots of whom personally worked on The Next Together. It took a lot of organisation but I learnt loads about the publishing industry, and I think it’s a great resource. My favourites are with my German translators and cover designer.

Personal

I visited Venice and Wales, both for the first time! I swam with a seal. I saw the NYE fireworks from the banks of the Thames. I went to lots of plays and concerts, including Wicked, The Decemberists, Fall Out Boy, Halsey,  Bakkhai and Measure for Measure.

I got to be very proud of my brother, who wrote a dissertation, graduated, turned 21, got recruited into the police and passed his driving test – all within the space of about three weeks. My best and oldest friend moved back home with her two kids, and got a kitten, providing me with a year’s worth of playtime.

I made lots of new friends in the UKYA community, who I feel like I’ve known for years. Shoutout to Katie Webber, Kate Ormand, GracieActually and Arianne! I started a book club with fellow authors Alice Oseman, Catherine Doyle, Sara Barnard and Louise O’Neill (which we really need to start up again soon!).

The bad:

By far the worst thing to happen this year was losing my American publishing deal in January when Egmont US closed down. It was a big blow, and it’s been a massive cause of stress for me. I’m very lucky to have found a new home for The Next Together in the US (more on that soon, hopefully! For now I’m sworn to secrecy…). However, publication has shifted from the original date of Autumn 2015, to coincide with UK release, to Spring 2017. I think it’ll be worth the wait, though (if only because it’ll be a fancy American hardback *drools*).

tumblr_inline_n7119uUK0u1rbvse2.gifI took my driving test! ….. and I failed. I’m taking it again next week, so second time lucky I guess?

I got very anxious about book-related stresses this year, especially when approaching release day, and let it make me ill. My main New year’s resolution for 2016 is to just chill out about stuff a little more. Worrying, for the most part, does nothing to help a situation. (This also may be while I failed my driving test….)

tumblr_mit2qd8h7G1rmvzs8o1_500

This, basically. (By Deep Dark Fears)

I struggled a lot with reading this year, because I was reading purely contemporary YA in an attempt to keep up with hype on twitter and the blogging community. It took me a long time to realise that this is something I’ve never enjoyed, and that it was making me dislike reading. I’ve since banned contemporary YA almost completely from my reading list, and I’ve started enjoying reading again.

For related reasons, my relationship with Twitter has got… complicated. I’m still working on this. I might write a blog post about it. It’s tough.

Overall rating for 2015:

tumblr_ntltj3V4Th1ry0jmro1_540

New year’s resolutions:

  1. Worry less. Chill more.
  2. Stop googling my book (this will probably, you know, help with #1 a little bit….)
  3. Write a screenplay.
  4. Pass! my! driving! test!

Happy new year, everyone! I hope you have an amazing 2016, and stay tuned over the next twelve months for the publication of The Last Beginning and TNT in translation (into four languages!).

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3 thoughts on “Taking Stock of 2015

  1. Laura Lam

    What a year! *applause*

    As someone approaching book 3’s release, I can say that for me, I’m still very anxious, but now I know more what to expect, and that really helps. And unexpected publishing stuff sucks. Glad you found another US home!

    AND YES, stop Googling (or name searching on social media). I’d gotten so bad about it and have just gone off it again. I asked a friend to google my name for me instead and she’ll send through the nice reviews, so I don’t even have to feel like I’m missing out on things.

    Good luck with the driving test and the screenplay!

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    Reply
    1. Lauren James Post author

      Thank you, Laura! I’m sorry you still find it pretty difficult. I guess it’s something that never goes away – there are always new things to worry about. Hopefully the difficult parts are behind both of us now. ❤

      I might ask my friend to do that for me too, that's a good idea. Knowing I'm not missing stuff will definitely give me the step back I need.

      Thank you! Happy new year! xx

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      Reply
  2. Pingback: Taking Stock of 2016 – Lauren James

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