Happy New Year!
To make sure this year is a productive year, I’ve made a detailed production plan, and I’m sharing my goals for 2017.
There is no denying that my writing and publishing plans during the last two years have not gone to plan. I am not going to lament over the frustrations and the wobbles of confidence. I am just going to put it all behind me and start 2017 full of optimism and new determination.
As part of that plan, I am setting out my goals for the year so that you know what to look forward to and so I can hold myself accountable for achieving those goals.
Women Codebreakers – The Story of Margaret Rock, Mavis Lever and Joan Clarke
This project is where I feel the slap of failure most but it also where I feel the intoxicated with excitement. I planned to release it two years ago in line with The Imitation Game film. Due to other unavoidable demands on my time I had to set it aside for about eighteen months. Exhausted and low that I couldn’t focus my attention where I wanted to, any attempt to pick up where I’d left off with Women Codebreakers failed.
Since the Autumn I have been feeling more like myself, especially when, at the end of November 2016, I made another discovery of Joan Clarke papers, which – oh my goodness – blows the Joan Clarke (later Murray) story wide open. After six hours of scanning and photographing, I have all the material I need to fill the gaps in Joan’s story and finally finish her part of the Women Codebreakers series. I am sharing some of the items I photographed in a post on Friday.
The Joan Clarke story has grown into a standalone title. Finishing it is the most important of my goals for 2017. I have created a ‘rigid’ timetable for January to weave the new material into the existing narrative. By rigid, I mean I-will-not-waver-from-my schedule-even-a-teeny-bit. I imagine I will be saying no to a lot during this period.
Women Codebreakers will become a 3-part series, starting with The Untold Story of Joan Clarke. I had already planned to release the Joan Clarke part of the book as a standalone ebook because I knew so many people wanted that part of the book as soon as possible. Now her story warrants a print and ebook.
That doesn’t mean that I am setting aside the Margaret Rock and Mavis Lever (later Batey) stories. They will follow with Margaret in March and Mavis in May 2017). Then, the three parts of the Women Codebreakers series will be available as a bundle at last.
Figuring It Out at Bletchley Park 1939 – 1945
The reissue of this resource book has been on the cards for a couple of years now. A PDF copy of the book is still for sale on Scribd. I will also make it available to buy on the Bletchley Park Research website during January 2017.
The text in the revised edition includes more background on each department, Hut and building on the Bletchley Park site to go with the numerical data charting the growth of Bletchley Park between 1939 and 1945. There is also about fifty new tables covering merchant shipping and Bomber Command.
Bletchley Park Family History
I get a lot of requests to help people find out more about their Bletchley Park relatives. I fail horribly at dealing with all the requests as my time is so limited. I love helping people discover more about their ancestor so I hate that I can’t do the research for all the requests.
I’ve considered offering my services as a paid consultant, but that solution doesn’t solve the time-is-limited issue. Besides, why should I have all the fun?
Anyone who has carried out family history research knows how much fun and addictive it is. The key is knowing what resources are available and where to find them. To help, I’ve decided to share my knowledge in a series of instructional videos and a workbook guiding you through the process of finding your Bletchley Park relative.
Hey presto! I can help everyone without time being an issue, and you get to join in the research fun too.
While the target audience for video series is anyone with a Bletchley Park relative, the skills I teach are transferable so you can use them to learn more about other ancestors as well.
I will write about this again towards the end of January and will include an online survey with questions to help me tailor the video content to suit your needs. There will also be a link to a BP family history Facebook group so we can share stories, tips and encouragement.
You can email me now if you would like me to send you a link to the survey or Facebook group as soon as it’s reading finding out about your Bletchley Park relative.
Website Revamp and Book Reviews
I plan to revamp the Bletchley Park Research website. The main difference will be the front page, which will hold direct links to areas of the website.
These areas will include the blog, a new section dedicated to books and book reviews, a section of family history resources, existing and new research articles, podcast (see below) and videos. I will post a new blog post once a week, sharing more of my research finds.
Podcast & Research Videos
Podcast – I have a collection of audio interviews that I have done for the official Bletchley Park Podcast and other interviews for my research. I will be creating a dedicated section on the website to share the podcast episodes I have contributed to and those I upload to my RetroResearcher page on Audioboom. I will make the episodes available on iTunes just as soon as I know how.
Videos – I will be making some documentary style videos starting with The Untold Story of Joan Clarke, which will go with the book. I have video recordings that need a home, including one with author Michael Smith which has been dormant on my hard drive for several years. It’s time to share these research gems. After all, the aim of Bletchley Park Research is to share my research!
I have two novels that are within polishing distance and beta reading of releasing into the world. The Milliner’s Spy is another long overdue project. Set in a hat shop in London during the Second World War, The Milliner’s Spy is an espionage romance. Love at Victory Teas Café is a modern romance set in a fictional village and has a Bletchley Park in wartime back story. Both books are delicious indulgences into my imagination and just need a little push of confidence to get them over the start line.
Women of Bletchley Park Event
Charlotte (Betty) Webb, MBE
Some of you know that I am good friends with Bletchley Park veteran Charlotte (Betty) Webb. We live about 10 miles apart and see each other regularly. Our friendship developed during the many interviews we did in preparation for her book Secret Postings: Bletchley Park to the Pentagon.
Over Christmas, we have hatched a plan to deliver two public talks together in the Worcestershire area. I will talk about Joan Clarke then Betty, as the star attraction, will share her memories of life at Bletchley Park.
We’re still in the planning phase, so I will keep you posted about the plans, venue and prices. Sign up to the Bletchley Park Research email list to make sure to receive the news as soon as it is announced.
I have scheduled each project on the calendar to accomplish these goals. It looks ambitious, but most of the projects listed in progress and they need dedicated blocks of time to get them finished. To get the projects to the finish line, I’ve created a rigid schedule that creates routine into my working week. Let me explain why.
Last year I started running (in my case plodding) one morning every week with a couch to 5k program at the local sports centre. I still go out at the same time even though the program has ended. Running has become a habit that I do whatever the weather and whatever my mood.
The running routine has led to a light bulb moment. I just need to stop writing around the edges of life and use the same unwavering routine I have for my running in my writing life. Hence, I’ve created an annual plan and broken that down into a detailed schedule for each month, week, and day.
By the end of year, I will review my goals for 2017 to see what worked and what didn’t. I hope you join me in January 2018 as I share the results of that review here.
Thanks to everyone who has cheered me on with understanding and words of encouragement.
Have you set any goals for 2017?