So, Glass Block will be out on Friday the 20th, and in the countdown to it, I’ll be sharing some stuff. Tomorrow, I’ll be talking about why it’s even related, in a way to my non-fiction, but front and centre, I wanted to share my dedications. Not everyone that supports me is specifically name-checked here, for various reasons, but I’ve covered, I hope, everyone important.
Dear reader. Most of these names won’t mean a thing to you, unless you’re one of the people listed. You are welcome to skip them, but if you know me, online or off, you might not wanna 😉
First up though. I want to put a special dedication into the book for the Nanowrimo. Without it, the book, the series, the universe would never have been written. So, if you’re at a bit of a loose end in November (or April/July for Camp Nanowrimo), wanna meet some people just as crazy about writing as you or want to support up and coming writers, then head on over to http://nanowrimo.org. A portion of every sale of EVERY book I’ve written or will later publish goes to Nanowrimo.
To my beloved, David – without your unwavering belief, clever ideas, encouragement and comfort when it all went pear-shaped, this book would be gathering digital dust. Without your love, I’d be a completely different person, and I hope every day coming is as good as the last – together. To Katie-Anne – love you, big sis. Thanks for being my unwavering cheerleader – even when I was being an angsty dumbass. I miss you so very much, and wish you were with us still.
To my children – there’s two of you right now, though there may be more in the future. Love you loads. Thanks for putting up with your mom’s crazy need to write everything down and take photos of stupid stuff 😉 You’ve grown into two of the most amazing people ever, and I’m so grateful I got to be your mum, and still get to be. To Keith – People are lucky to have one best friend. I’ve got four, and you’re one of em. Thank you so much for sending the notes and the part I thought I’d lost. Thanks for talking to me about forensics, and not dying laughing when I said the dumb stuff™. Get your book written sunshine ;), you’ve proved you can write other stuff, and kicked ass at it in the process. To Mary Ann – founder of #chartermemberofteamkai, patient, intelligent and funny. I think you, of all people on this list, have been waiting the longest for this book. Tada! To Brianna – I’m really looking forward to all the mischief we’re planning, and I’m hoping you are too! Thanks for being there to chat every day (just about!) To Valerie, Quinn and everyone else that kept me going – Thanks for all you do! To all my other writing community friends and cheerleaders – I’m not sure that to say other than #writingcommunity on Twitter is awesome! The Facebook communities are awesome, from IAG (which I helped co-found), to the others I take part in are awesome too! To my mother – I dunno what to say, other than thanks. Without everything you did for me as a child, I’d never have loved books enough to want to write one, and without your patient tutelage, I wouldn’t have nearly as much fun with learning, nor be so obsessed with continuing as an adult. To my family and my family-in-law – thank you for your unwavering patience, support and funny conversations. And thank you for not looking at me as if I am completely insane when I went hunting for a pen and paper, or said completely random things that made you stop and ask me to repeat myself. I never did without explaining what I’d been thinking, but still, I’m grateful for the kindness, love and support – and occasional books handed over when you realized what I was trying to work out. To all my Nanowrimo participants – thank you for letting me ML and thank you for cheering me on when I hit crazy word-counts. Here’s to many more years of that. And to Nanowrimo HQ itself. Office of Letters and Light will receive 5% of all sales, of all books from now on, as they have. This year has been rough, I know, but I’m hoping that it’ll get easier. To Troy, Simon, Zoe, Jack, the lecturers at Gloucester University and all of my classmates – Thank you. You know what for but thank you. My voice only got louder once I did that degree – best four years of my life! I’ve continued to grow since then, and I’m on my second degree now! And to my newest friends at Ludosport Bristol (And beyond in the Ludosport community)– THANK YOU. You don’t know what you gave me back, and how much I enjoy training, nor how happy I am to be allowed to. What an awesome sport! And if you’re not included above…to all my friends and fans online – Social media is a blast, sure, but it really does get in the way of writing. Thank you for being the distraction I needed to get the story straight in my head ;). Love you loads – thanks for your support, crazy about you all!
As is probably clear, I’m quite the geek. I’ll be talking about how more hobbies cross into geekery in the real world, but I’m a HUGE gaming fan. I’ve spent all of my life, since I was a young child, enjoying fantasy novels and I’ve gamed since I was about 9. From Heroquest, to D&D, I was a huge gamer until I had my children. After I left their father, I joined another gaming club and as I’ve talked about, a bit in ‘A Nanowrimo love story‘, I’m marrying a gamer and we met at a convention.
I thought for this post though, I’d share some of my favourite games, and aa few secrets about stories I’m writing right now. I’ll also share where I’m visiting today on the list for AtoZ (because I published this a bit later than I meant to. (G&H are shared for the visits, so I’ll do five on each, but from here on in, I’ll be doing around ten a day with luck. I hope to visit everyone though!). I’m also going to talk about why gaming seems to be considered a bit of a ‘duality’ even now for those of us that play.
My favourite games…
I gotta be honest, I love all games. I’ve already talked computer for Elden Ring, though I also play others. I’ve got a few games on my phone too, including Hearthstone, and we’re all currently playing our way through Elden Ring bar Artenapan. I’ve got a soft spot for simulation and worldbuilding games too, so I play a lot of things like Kingdoms and Castles, Suviving Mars, Terraforming Mars and the Tropico series, to name a few.
Boardgames and tabletop games feature heavily in my favorite things to do and play too though. Pre-pandemic (which is now over two years ago) we’d started playing Gloomhaven, and we’re hoping to pick that up again soon, but we’ve also got plans to join other people’s games and we’ve spent the last couple of date nights playing Terraforming Mars (the boardgame as well as the computer game), and Wingspan (ditto) and we’re looking forward to having a good explore at the UK Games Expo, later in the year.
And the secret?
I guess the biggest ‘secret’ is one of my main story series’ comes from a character and background I wrote for a game. We stopped less than six months into her story arc, it seemed like a waste, so Shula got set lose on the world. Or, will be. I mentioned her in B for books, but we’re in the process of setting everything up so we can run preorders and more. And on Monday, mine and other indie books (up to 60, the thread was really popular!) should feature in I for Indies 🙂 But Shula and some other characters are either people I’ve played in games or my partner (who is my self-confessed “bad idea bear” ala Avenue Q) has given me. Which is always fun. What I do know is Gaming is another storytelling outlet that I really miss, and I’ll be glad to get back to it fully 🙂
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.
A- D for the Blogging AtoZ challenge will be up in the next 24 hours or so, and I’ll be hopping around all of the blogs and hopefully meeting some new, neat people. We’ve got family visiting this weekend though, so, I’m prioritising the visit and a belated Mother’s Day celebration 🙂
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.
Hi there guys. Normally, doing these, I do really try to get them up either as we’re travelling home on the21st December, but as everyone saw, I posted something else instead. So, I’ll do the retrospective today, and tomorrow we’ll do the ‘coming in 2022’.
I got nothing done…
I think the first thing to acknowledge is that personal goals wise, I’m not further visibly forward, but I did a lot of…I guess it’s ‘behind the scenes’ work. I did have a quieter, calmer year in some ways. Supporting the kids, supporting my partner, and trying to plan for what comes next. I think that though I did very little, overtly, there were a tonne of really great conversations that eventually led myself and my business partner to something we’re working on now, which we’ve tagged ‘AOK’. Goals wise, too, I didn’t published a dammed thing last year, and only really rebooted this blog about three months ago. I’m still working through how best to handle all of that, if I’m honest, but what I do know is that I’m a lot happier now with most of the things I write, when I write them. I did start a Substack. But, because I got ‘nothing’ done, I spent a lot of time with my family. I have regulated my sleep schedule a lot better, though I do sometimes need to switch to LA time to do some stuff, it’s not frequently expected of me. I’m sure next year may change that, but it’s ok. Mostly I’m just grateful for the space to think and spend time with my partner, son and daughter. We bought a Cricut so my daughter and I are still into doing crafty things, we all go out to get photos of stuff, we got to do the UK Games Expo this year…it’s all been really good and really comforting in many ways. None of us have gotten really sick, nor have we caught CV19, but we’re all fully boosted now, and flu shots to boot. We’ve been *very* lucky.
I did lots for clients….
So, I’ve said ‘I got nothing done’ but equally, it’s been an ok year for getting work done for clients. From tomorrow, I’m developing something that cuts back on the clutter for one client so it ‘just works’ and building sites for two others. It’s all looking really solid. I learned Divi a lot more, I’ve been upskilling both for my business and for my uni stuff and I’ve had a lot of fun along the way. I love coding, but I love solving puzzles more.
I (started to) heal a bit…
I think it’s fair to say this year I got on with the rather hard work of starting to heal. I’ve not had an exactly bad life, but I’ve been through a fair few really bad scrapes and my mental and physical health are kinda dented for it. I do totally think I’m dealing with some form of adrenal issue right now, though I’m also quite worried I’m anaemic again, but most of what I did was read, learn, sleep, and just accept that I can’t do everything, or work on starting to accept that. I laid foundations though for this year too – knowing what to do and when to do it hasn’t been the easiest thing for me, but I’m working in advance with a lot of my stuff now and though I sometimes bounce off deadlines, I’ve met quite a few too. in July, I was discharged from therapy. I’ve done everything I could with them, my therapist was moving on, and instead of getting used to another stranger, given the current pandemic based restrictions, we decided that it was best just to close my file and move on. I can go back if I need to.
And I took up more exercise
Last year, I was just starting Mount Fuji. I completed that and went on to do Giza, Petra, Everest and started The Great Wall of China. In total, I walked about 540km, based on my Fitbit tracking. I started walking outside by myself too. Didn’t last long, but will be coming back. In November, I went for a Ludosport Discovery session, fell in love with the sport and have now completed enough form 1 training that I can duel, and did for our closing session of the year, winning my team three points. I was rather shocked I managed it. I think everyone else was too, as I often refuse to duel, or withdraw when afraid. I am dealing with a lot more panic attacks though, but we know why and we’re working on that too.
I read… A LOT
Because I didn’t get to do very much in the way of travelling, I’ve mostly adventured through my books. Which, if I’m honest, has mostly involved serial killers, thrillers and murder mysteries. My Goodreads year in review isn’t *everything* I read (cause I’ve got books I read through Netgalley that haven’t or won’t log yet) but it’s close. If you want to see my year, it’s here, but seriously, a lot of it is basically true crime. 😉 Some of it was also audiobooks, which I count. I think the two books that stayed with me this year though were The Book of Accidents by Chuck Wendig and we’re currently finishing off Leviathan Falls, which is the final book of the Expanse. And finishing the show too.
I completed both Camp Nanowrimos and Nanowrimo proper this year, and in the end, it turned out that though it felt like I was pulling teeth, I wrote close to half a million in 4thewords, and another 750k in my various files. Not bad going but next year is going to be a bigger challenge. I didn’t publish anything that wasn’t someone else’s to take from me and put out there though.
And yeah, then there was the ‘also watched’
We watched so many good things this year but I watched less in some ways than my family. And more in others. I had more true rime on in the background during the day, but I’ve watched far fewer programs, and have promised I’ll watch a few of the pertinent ones when we’re back at our usual spaces next week. Outstanding for me though had to be Loki, Scrubs (which we binged to the last season then pretended that one didn’t exist), Elementary, which we’re catching up on, The Expanse…you get the picture. We’ve started watching Titans season 3, The Witcher Season 2, and The Expanse season 6, and we’re looking forward to The book of Boba Fett, Obi Wan and more.
Gaming this year has mostly been about my Switch and our PS5. We’re both having a blast, no pun intended, playing through Fallout 76, though each of us can’t play with each other as it’s not cross-platform. Been playing games on the Switch too, but there’s nothing of note that I’ve played, really. I enjoy Surviving Mars, but a lot of what I do is just play through stuff for a little bit, get listless, put it down. So a lot of my time has just been spent mindlessly shooting things, which I’m kinda good at.
Meditating, self care, religion, oh my
I always leave this bit to last, so if people want to skip, they can. I meditated almost as much as I walked this year. I’ve found Headspace to be an excellent way of dealing with my sleep issues and the sleepscapes and I have become best buddies during the Pandemic. But we already knew that from listening to the stories Calm put out last year. I decided to stick with Headspace, not Calm in the end, simply because I got on better with Headspace.
I’ve been home to my temple twice this year (which means I’ve been home to family twice this year) and moved my ‘I have to go do something, let’s go to my quiet spot) to a place nearer our current home. It’s not perfect, but it meets most of the needs of what my rules are. I’ve also enacted some pretty radical self-care, but that, and some other stuff will be in the books, in the new Year.
I’m sure I’ve missed tonnes, but I’ll be honest, I’m still not sure this year was actually a full year if that makes sense. Time isn’t right still, not since the interminable but necessary lockdowns, and we’ve been working through as much of being present and grateful as we can, but I’ll also be real about this, a bit of me is still sobbing away in the corner that something so horrible is ongoing. I may write on that later, but I’m healthy, I’m here, I’ve picked up some new skills and hobbies and though I lost my gran, as a family, we’ve been far more blessed than we could have expected, so really, I can’t complain.