Everyone else is doing their “2013 – The Very Best of,” compilation album blog posts, so I thought I’d join in. The one thing the world needs right now (besides a good hard kick up the arse) is to know what my favourite reads were and why I had bugger all releases this year. Apart from the time I gritted my teeth and squeezed that pimple that popped up in a very interesting place.

Kevin T Craig (I suspect the T stands for ‘the'; link takes you to his Twitter page) introduced me to The Great Gatsby. Well, I’d known for a while that it was his talisman novel, and the one by which he measures all other writings, especially his own. But I’d never gotten around to reading it before. Years back I took months to get through Tender is the Night, which was, quite frankly, tortuous. It had the potential to put me off F. Scott Fitzgerald for life and were it not for the release of the Leonardo Di Caprio movie, and Kevin the Craig’s recommendations, I probably would have spent the rest of my life studiously avoiding Gatsby.

But I’m glad I didn’t. I spent 77p on the Kindle version, and loved the book so much I went out and bought it in print, and read it again within a week. How much did I love that book? Enough to buy the movie cover print edition, that’s how much! (And of course, the DVD the very day it came out.)

I can definitely see me reading The Great Gatsby again in 2014, at least once, probably more.

Tender is the Night is still shite, though.

What other books did I read and enjoy enough to recommend? Tiffany Reisz’s The Prince and The Mistress. Such recommendations are appearing all over the intertubes at this time of year and no wonder as the books are great. Probably no chance of my voice rising above all the others, but if anyone reads Tiffany’s books on my recommendation, then good.

Quite a few of my favourite reads this year were re-reads. A Taste of Blood Wine by Freda Warrington (now back in print, which I haven’t had to wait for as I still have the 1992 edition I bought when I was 16), Rhonda Byrne’s The Secret, Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go (and yes, I refuse to see the film because eww, Keira Knightley), and Renegades by Shaun Hutson which I must have first read around 20 years ago and huzzah, it’s now been re-issued in Kindle format.

This is why I’m such an ebook whore – the rights to so many books I loved years ago are now returning to their authors and being re-issued in ebook format.

I discovered Laini Taylor in Daughter of Smoke and Bone. Also Ken Follett in World Without End, inspired by the TV mini-series starring the delectable Blake Ritson, om nom nom. I normally avoid reading sequels before the prequels and watching the TV series or film before reading the book. In this instance, I broke both those rules.

I enjoyed Susan Cain’s Quiet so much I blogged about it here.

So far I’ve read 135 books this year; my original target was 150 so I’m not doing too badly. Same target for 2014.

But what of my own books? No releases, only one sale and that for a re-issue. 2013 was a bust when it comes to productivity. Writing-related productivity that is. There have been changes, though. Three of my books are no longer available – A Little Death, which is being re-released by Totally Bound next year and Long Time Coming and Plus One, which were my first two  published books. I recently got the rights to these two novels back, and they’ll revert to me fully at the end of January. I’ve still to decide what to do with them, but I have a couple of online buddies trying to persuade me to self-publish. However, if I sent them to another epublisher, given their lengths, they’d eventually be eligible for print, so…I’m unsure. Self-publishing would mean I get to keep a larger chunk of the profits, but sending them to a publisher would mean holding the print editions in my hands.

And getting swanky new cover art provided for me, which would be a relief in Plus One‘s case. Lydia has bright pink hair and Spencer has an unusual tattoo in an easily-visible place, so ‘specialist’ cover art may be required. There are a lot of ready-made covers available online, but none which I’ve seen that quite suit, and I’m not that great with Photoshop, so…

Yeah. Still to be decided.

I also have a writing schedule written up for the first quarter of 2014. By the end of March, all being well, I should have a finished novel and four finished novellas. That sounds like a metric fuckton of wordage and I guess it is; just over 100k words. But I only have roughly 12k to go on the novel according to my MS Excel outline, and I’m aiming for 25k words each on the novellas. Broken down like that it sounds more doable.

What will I be getting up to in 2014 blogwise? Well…I’ll be resuming my Tudors blog posts as I’ve had requests to get back into them. I say requests. I mean one or two people briefly commenting “They were fun, you should get back to them.” But ‘requests’ makes it sound like people are clamouring for my opinion on Jonathan Rhys Meyers’ acting ability and the historical accuracy of the aforementioned historical drama.

This year I’ve donated 100s of books and several items of furniture to charity. Hoping to continue getting my personal library down to a level where it’s no longer taking over my home, and scouting shops for various bits and pieces I’d like to use to make said home more comfortable and more ‘me’, if that doesn’t sound too pretentious and wanky.

But all in all, the priority is to write more. And to continue watching comedy DVDs in my downtime, because laughter is the best medicine, and Bottom and Father Ted fucking rock.

So there!