And now for something complete different (so far)… and yes, this one really is about duality and how things are different.
Firstly, can I say, Elden Ring has to be one of the most frustrating games I’ve ever played. EVER. I died 20 times (not including the grave spider at the beginning) in the tutorial alone. I like playing the game, it’s ok. I’ll probably keep slogging away at it, but the best bit about it? Watching the boys play.
My boys – Tempus and the boi
Until just before lockdown ended, there were four adults living in our house. My son and daughter (that’d be the Boi, and Artenapan), and Tempus. The Boi has recently moved up to a new job, so we had him down this weekend, and we spent a lot of time watching both him and Tempus taking on creatures, getting knocked on their butts, and laughing away.
Elden Round table?
Between the feelings of Hieronymus Bosch style artwork, and the very… round table feel to it all (literally in one place), so it’s really brilliant to watch and play. It’s so enjoyable to watch.
And with screenshots like this…
can you blame me?
I’ll complete it in my own time, but for now I’m just enjoying laughing at dying in game, and the boys is funny. Even if I feel terrible because I can’t play well.
So, I thought for this year’s AtoZ, I’d take it back to basics and talk a little about me, and if I got posts that were the same letter, I’d share them the next day, and maybe even share some of the posts I’m reading throughout the month.
Today, I thought I’d go for a general update. I’ve spent the last few weeks trying to recover from Covid. I say ‘trying’ because it’s been hard work to even get motivated, let alone write and work. But I’ve been thinking, which I tend to do when I’m sick. And enjoying my beautiful four poster bed, which isn’t quite finished yet, but is nevertheless, one of the most gorgeous things I’ve ever agonised over buying.
We’ve been thinking really hard, as a family, about the best ways for all of us to enact self-care. My partner and I have hobbies, such as Ludosport (I’ll explain more at L for Ludosport, or at least, more fully, cause I’ve talked about it before!), and gaming that we take part in, and we’re very careful to try and maintain a good work-life balance, but one of the nicest things about our new bed is I’m happy to just… read for a little while. We’ve got this gorgeous net canopy that looks like clouds.
Every night, we curl up and I read for a bit, but I feel cozy and safe in there, even though it’s basically a big box frame around me. I’ll be adding flowers and lights eventually, but for now, I just like waking up underneath clouds. It’s weird, I know. I’m trying to address my work/life balance too, by not answering messages or emails before 9am or after 10pm unless it’s an emergency, and ignoring requests for work that aren’t completed on the correct places. Slowly, but surely, things are getting easier, but, it’s meant a lot of work on boundaries, and even more time dealing with the fallout, but, it’s just one of those things. Beyond that, today is the first day of #Kaiatus, and my darling boi (eldest) is coming to visit. Life is good, I’m alive, and I’m grateful for it all.
Oh, and it’s the first day of Camp Nanowrimo 2022 (April) edition, and I’m doing International Poetry month over at [email protected] :). I’m working on some of my novellas for Shula for Nano. 🙂
So I did my retrospective. And I don’t do resolutions, mostly because if I did, I’d get into even more trouble than I’m in already. But, I do sorta, do plans for the year ahead. I’ve split them into personal and professional, then split appropriately from there. That said, I’ll forget something, I always do. And it’s not exhaustive. There’s stuff I cannot post yet, like the planned visits to production and filming, if we do it this year. But here’s what’s on my current lists.
My professional splits down into three areas. Business and service which covers all of my formatting, hosting, coding and other stuff. Passive income and professional writing, which is where I blog for my own blogs, or other companies and make money from it and Books.
Business and services
This one is a bit complex, cause anything I commit to has to also go through my business partner, but she and I are planning:
Hosting for writers and PhoneixFormatting online and running a booking calendar. HFW runs hosting and code design, wordpress management and more, while PF is where we format pretty books. 😉 Like, really pretty, you could fall in love with them, books. Which is great, cause that’s what every author wants.
AOK and IT up and running. These are keyworded projects, because we’re still sorting them out. They should feature lots of indie stuff.
Stuff for writers and my marketing/tutorials site back online and feeding to various places, in both my professional commitments and my own sites.
Having a solid plan for everything we’re doing going forward that’s reasonable and meetable. Both of us have health challenges, so it’s one of those…. “gotta do it, but HOW” conversations.
Teach at least six classes and have two masterclasses running happily by year end
Passive income/pro writing
Again, this is a bit of a hard one. I’m managing editor on one site, so I’m responsible for rounding up the writers. 😉
All commitments to story prompts and other stuff met and optimised. No deadlines missed. Currently that’s just Ladies Of Horror, but I want to add more to my list
Set up and run Indie Author Group (I’m managing editor there, so it’s really set up new guidelines, write up content and import what isn’t exclusive) and start my new column for Horror Tree. I’d really like to have 100 exclusively written articles not on my own sites by the end of the year, which is basically one every three and a half days or so, or two a week. I can do that.
Set up a few blogs for help with specific topics and long tail the crap out of it all.
12 submissions a month from Duotrope. Poetry, prose and articles beyond what I’m committed to.
Substack and Medium up and running and perfect.
classes – taught for a cost.
Totally not complex this one, but always seems to be the biggest set of problems. From people messing with my account to delays of my own making I guess this one is the one that worries me, professionally at least, the most. But is also the most important to me. I love being an author.
My WHOLE backlist reissued. My current count seems to be 31, with about another 12 books cancelled from last year, and probably another few that I could set up from books I’ve scrapped and need reworked. I’m calling it 30, cause some are giveaways too. So, 30 backlist. There’s also a set of … 15 I think short stories that I was doing over Nanowrimo that are ready to go, I just need to format them.
12 short stories OR novellas issued. There’s a group for this project, or should be.
3 series continued, one of which has to be Darkness and Elliot.
6 n/f books written and published or close to published by year’s end, OR with a contract.
Signed with my agent.
My personal goals are a lot more ephemeral and don’t really break down into anything approaching organised.
More Ludosport – I don’t know how long a form takes to graduate from, but I’d like to be all the way to finishing form 1, and getting into Form 2. I want to be less afraid there too.
Body FX training too strengthen my core and have a bit of fun doing it
Enjoy more movies and games, and complete a few of them.
Read (or listen to, cause we use Audible too, but I only count it if I actually listen to the book and am awake for it as it also runs at night so we’ve got some form of white noise going on) 150 books (Goodreads challenge)
20th year Nanowrimo, both Camp Nanowrimos and 2 million words total in writing (that is sorta a professional goal too).
Declutter and organise the house better
Set up the office the way I want it to be set up
Say yes to good things more often rather than think ‘I can’t’ because I’m exhausted, so rest up and get ready for some fun!
Again there are others. We’d like to travel again, but only if it’s safe. I’d love to do Steelcon again, and I’d love to go to a Games Day too. I’d also love to have a baby with my beloved but they’re pretty much aspirational and up in the air based on how the world continues to behave over the coming year. Covid and it’s vaccines aside, I do have to wonder if the radical changes people don’t like are as bad as they believe. I’m struggling with some of them, sure, but if it’s to keep others safe, cool.
And that’s my final one. Keep myself, my communities, my family and friends and others safe, keep paying it forward, and keep swimming and lifting others where I can. And continue working on my therapy, as it’s gotten me a long way last year and I’m sure that’ll continue.
Next post, in a few days, will be about the actual places I’m working/writing and announcing everything. Calendars need set up and discussions with my amazing business partner, Brianna Hawthorne, need to take place before then, but we’ve got a lot planned. We just need to work out what we’re doing and how, and finish planning.
What was that whoosh? Oh, it was November. Wow, ok. So, here’s the roundup, I guess.
So, normally, the big news in November would be my birthday, or Nanowrimo. But, actually, this year, the big excitement is Ludosport! My beloved and I (yeah, that’d be the guy in ‘a Nanowrimo love story‘) started learning Ludosport, aka Lightsaber duelling. Already though, I know it’s more than that. It’s a whole culture of support, care and honesty, and a really good workout. But it’s accessible too. I’m managing almost as well as the rest of the people training, and that’s even with my numb leg and nerve damage on the left side, it’s been great! I did a trial event in October, and we started in November, just after my birthday. My uniform and lightsaber blade is here, which I shared on my Instagram.
I’m sure I’ll be talking about this a lot more in the next few months, but I’m pretty certain that it’ll mostly be on a new blog, called Run Girl, Run. It’s not *quite* live yet, but I’m going to be talking mental health, recovery, and growing physically and mentally as a person. It’ll be about how I find my feet, how I find my way back into the world, and we may even get to talk about extending our family, though, right now, it’s about making *me* whole. Holistically, I think that’s important, but I also think that it’s equally important to talk about it, and share what I can. Mostly because though we feel like we’re alone, we’re really not.
I completed my 19th Nanowrimo, just shy of 85k. We ran the online only project again this year, at the request of HQ, and my region stepped up. They were awesome. Next year, for my 20th year, I’m looking forward to doing something special.
I’ve got Glass Block and several of my short stories back, so I’ll be working on them, and I’ve got copy and client work coming up, so I’m excited. Plus we’re getting ready for Yule, keeping an eye on the various variants in the UK, and hoping we’re getting to go home.
I’m not sure if people have much of an idea of my history with Nanowrimo, but I’ve been writing every November since 2003. Every November, I write 50,000 or more words. The only time, to date, that this wasn’t the case was 2004.
It started in 2002 actually…
In 2002, while I was writing after breaking off ties with someone I’d been working with, and working on some pretty difficult stuff, someone told me about Nanowrimo. At the time, my ex and I were still together, and though everyone thought we were ok – I mean, my daughter was a year old, we had a three year old son. But he was pretty convinced that I shouldn’t be allowed to write, that if I was going to manage it, I’d have written that bestseller. Already. He wasn’t a bad man – we have two amazing children, but neither he nor I were not good for one another. Between 2002 and 2003, we seperated.
Fast forward to 2003
Single, unhappy and lonely, I decided that I would take my mum up on her offer, and I vollunteered to run as an ML…for the whole of Scotland as it happened then. We all met in a very loud pub, I made lots of friends, and discovered a gaming club called GEAS. 2003’s Nano was also Glass Block. And Elliot Peters firmly entrenched himself in my life. Elliot is Glass Block. Eventually, when the library of posts comes back online, that’ll make more sense, but he’s one of my backlist books. Tomorrow, he goes to an editor for update before we re-release him, thanks to my beloved’s help. In 2003 though, I hadn’t even met him. Instead, I had Elliot, waking me up at 4am and telling me stories. Y’see, Elliot thinks of me as a confessor of sorts. And Internal Affairs as he’s a cop. As I live with psychosis of several kinds, this is completely normal to me, but I know some people find it uncomfortable that my characters are *really* real. Others aren’t. It’s ok. I was seven months from my other ‘leading man’, Farran. Five or so from Tempus. And I quite honestly had a ball during Nano. Honorable mentions at this point to John, James, Gregor, and everyone else I met during those months of writing. You all made my Nanowrimo so much fun, and in fact, that was true for the whole time I helped out and ran Scotland as the ML.
I did promise you a love story, didn’t I?
Well, the truth of the matter is, and it’s a story I’ve told several times, without Nano, I wouldn’t have gone to GEAS, and in all likleyhood, Tempus and I wouldn’t have met. I can’t actually say that for sure, because I might have taken it into my head to look into D&D again, but… I’d given in on that having my kids. Tempus and I have been together 17 and a half years. We origonally just decided we wanted to hang out and have a bit of fun, but…a year in, when it came down to actually thinking about the future, neither of us could actually picture a time without one another. By 2006, we’d moved to where we are based now for his work, as he’d graduated in 2005. 2007-2011, Uni for me. It’s not all happily ever after. My mental health is a challenge we meet with varying success, but he and I share many interests (newest one, solving our arguments with lightsabers, aka we’re both going to train and learn Ludosport.). It’s no secret we’re both gamers, and we’re both super geeky, but we do have enough divergent interests that we can be together or apart. But, I truly believe I was lucky, and that Nanowrimo plays a huge part in that for me.
Our love story isn’t over. I don’t believe it ever will be while either of us are here, but it’d be nice to think that we’ll have a child together and live long, happy lives together. I really do love him, and without Nanowrimo, who knows if I’d have had this chance.
You’ll note, I don’t refer to him other than ‘Tempus’. It’s because he’s not keen on talking about himself online. There are a very few pictures of us together, and I’ve added on to the bottom of this post, but I do know one thing. My life is a very good one, and I love that it’s with him.
This is me and him, 2018, in the Dominican Republic. The full length shot of me with a boogie board was taken about an hour before, for those that know it.
He’s my bad idea bear, my beloved, my companion, my gaming and sparring partner. We talk books, games, movies. We tell each other jokes and pass on research from cyber security and infosec, and have a date night every Saturday. We go exploring good places to eat, we giggle at one another playing Fallout 76. We have our friends over for Gloomhaven. We’ve raised two wonderful young adults together since the 20 year old (@artenapan) was about 2 1/2, and her older brother too (he’s just as private as Tempus in many ways, so you’ll see him referred to as ‘Wonderboy’, or Titanboi. He’s in his 20’s too, and a wonderful man, and all of us are gamers of one sort or another. But Tempus… He’s the best person in the world, and I’m so blessed.
And, one final, bonus fact. He’s the reason I have most of my pen name. He encouraged me to stay as Kai when I explained why I’d changed my name, and I did. In late 2004, after we’d been together for a few months, I asked him if I could use his last name so that when we get married, I didn’t need to rebrand. He didn’t even blink. Like I said, he’s an awesome guy. And that’s my Nanowrimo Love Story 🙂