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  • Writer's pictureMaximilian Sam

A Year In Review

Another busy year with the Stray Army and some turtles

As we come towards the end of 2023, we decided to have a look back and remind ourselves that it's been another pretty impressive year. 2022 brought the first books and several awards. 2023 has been different, but there's still been a huge amount going on.

Stories Of A Stray came out in May. It's a series of short stories covering a range of fictional topics. In it you meet a range of characters from a spy to a chef, from a rugby player to a man called Dave. You win and lose the lottery, survive a global lockdown, sink a boat, and say an emotional farewell to an old friend. It's available to buy from Amazon and all good bookshops.

Things then took a slight detour from the books. We launched the Stray Army brand over the summer. You can now purchase everything from mugs to t-shirts, from baseball caps to lunchboxes. All are adorned with the Stray Army logo amid a variety of designs.

Things weren't getting any quieter. In November the MaxSam Group expanded even further. We now have MaxSam Communications as part of our stable. Not only can you now buy books and merchandise, but we have a full marketing service available too. It doesn't matter if you're a small business or a multi-national, we're here to help.

Finally, we've used our excellent relationship with to bring you a free calendar for 2024 featuring photos of the real life Stray Army. You can either print it off in any size you want, or download individual months to keep on your desktop. It's a good way to remember the animals every day in 2024.

Some Major Highlights

The year wouldn't be complete if we hadn't won at least one award. We were never going to repeat the success of 2022, and never made any effort to. We did however receive an award from the amazing Tweetables (more on them later). It was a moment that lit up the summer.

Image Of The Tweetables Page Turner Award
Tweetables Page Turner Award

We've also had plenty of interviews and media coverage this year. We even turned our hand to our first love and became freelance journalists for a while. Here's a few of the articles and interviews we've appeared in this year. (click on the images to read the articles).

We were asked to put together an article for Voices Newspaper on our local village and beach. It's been a huge success, leading to many more visitors over the summer. In hindsight, maybe we should have kept our little piece of paradise a little quieter. The article had greater significance, as it brought back the love of all things media and PR which had waned a little in recent times.

Tinker also got in on the act with an exclusive, and expansive, interview with Snapshot! magazine. It's an excellent read so do click on the image to have a read if you haven't already.

There are many occassions where social media can be a beacon of hope with good things happening. A post on Twitter (or whatever it's called this week) gave us the chance to prove we suffer from a lifelong affliction. We're Watford fans. There is no cure. It's a difficult affliction as it comes with the occassional amazing high, but the majority of the time it involves raving like a loony on a podcast somewhere! DNSYE were looking for contributors for their blog. We have far too many years history in the area (it is where our heart lies after all). We've now done a few articles comparing the past with the present. It's great fun working with Peter, Justin, and Carlos.

We also broke new ground this year. It's A Stray Dog's Life was the subject of an academic review in a Turkish University journal. It felt incredibly special having the book reviewed by a foreign university, even if we're not sure we understood it all as there were some very long words!

We're proud to have been featured in this award winning blog in the past. As it hit its 18 month birthday we were invited along again to give an update on everything that had happened since our first interview. As always, it was great fun answering Jane's questions. It's well worth subscribing as she'll introduce you to some amazing authors.

We were also invited to be a guest on a podcast with Daisy Lane Publishing to talk about all things marketing. It was great fun and could have carried on for several days. It was fantastic to meet up with people and discuss how to market our books. We've tried to keep my face, and voice, out of most things, but we're sure you'll survive!

Local newspapers are something that we feel are hugely important and often overlooked. Lucy at The Ege Eye allowed us to write an article all about the turtles that hatched on our beach this summer. It was a crazy time as 229 little babies hatched between the two nests. It helped bring a community together in a way only Mother Nature can.

The highlight of the summer was the article on the children from our local beach who'd done so much to help with the turtles. They received certificates and gained a few minutes of fame. It was the least they deserved.

There were more highlights throughout the year, but it's probably best to leave them to another day.

It's been a strange year on a personal level. I've certainly ended up spending even more time with the stray animals (if it were possible), but also ended up making some amazing new friends. Who'd have thought I'd spend a couple of weeks over the summer with our new neighbours talking about Saudi Arabia. They also, very kindly, bought me a fountain pen for my birthday. Their daughter has also become the biggest fan of the books. They made it an extra special summer.

Our 2023 Book Recommendations

We've read many books this year, but 3 independently published ones really caught our eye. We can highly recommend each of them. If you click on the images it will take you to each author's website. In no particular order, here they are.

Jackie's escapades driving around Europe in The Beast with 4 dogs and her husband are an absolute delight. You'll feel as though you've been transported to the places they've visited and have plenty of laughs along the way.

This is our favourite fiction book of the year. It's clever, sad, and funny. Gary does an amazing job of taking you on a journey where one decision can change so many lives.

You may have seen our 5 star review of Sue's first book, Lucky Jack, about her grandfather. This time she uses letters and stories about her mother to bring an amazing person to life for all of us. The emotions and amusing scrapes involved in moving to the other side of the world after World War 2 are incredible and resonate with strays like us.

Obviously, Stories From A Stray would be in there, but it seems a tad unfair to shout about our own book!

Coming in 2024

2024 promises to be another busy year. There will be a business advice book under my real name of C.J. Evans, more from the Stray Army, and a memoir about our travels around the world. We'll also be keeping up to date with the regular blog including hints and tips on marketing. There's are bound to be a few surprises too. Who knows, there might even be some more turtles!

Until then, don't forget to download your free 2024 Stray Army Calendar.

We wish you all happy holidays and a wonderful and successful 2024.

See you on the other side,

MaxS and The Stray Army

P.S. Don't forget you can join our ranks by purchasing books, merchandise, and downloads from the website. You can also subscribe, so you're first to know any news. There will never be a charge for subscribing to the site. We will try to give a few exclusive giveaways to our subscribers and members too.


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