Wednesday 28th December, 2016

It’s here again, the end of the year post. I hope those who celebrate had a good Christmas and wish you all a Happy New Year for Saturday night / Sunday morning. And, of course, Happy Hanukkah as I believe that continues until Monday.

What I Learnt About Writing in 2016

Well, time again for that annual tradition that was first inspired by Foxie [External Link]. Here’s my stats for this year with last year for comparison:

  • Submissions = 0 (6, 2015)
  • Total pieces in circulation = 8 (6, 2015)
  • New pieces in circulation = 2 (1, 2015)
  • Rewrites = 1 (0, 2015)
  • Acceptances = 1 (3, 2015)
  • Published = 3 (4, 2015)

NOTE: These numbers are a combination of Duotrope figures and some notes for submissions to non-listed destinations but do not include stories written for the website or published here. Attempts to rehome stories published here and elsewhere have been included.

I think in wordage terms, I’ve been as productive as last year. However, I haven’t been working (so much) on short stories so things are staying in the “working on” queue a little longer and there’s no sign of submissions. Elkie hasn’t quite made the published numbers this year as her third outing, Fool If You Think It’s Over, is due out in January – although she was accepted in 2016. I never included European Monsters or African Monsters in my figures and I had to step down from co-editing duties this year for Asian Monsters (and the remaining works in the series). My excellent partner in crime, Margrét Helgadóttir [External Link], has picked up the slack marvellously.

I’m in a much more regular job this year but I find it a very mentally absorbing in an enjoyable way. When combined with a number of issues (I still have a house 70-odd miles away and the hormonal influence of my implant finally became too much to bear), it means I’ve been spending more spare time soaking in books and movies rather than creating new work.

Writer, Editor, General Dogsbody

So, here are the plans are for the immediate future of my writing and editing career:

The work I long work I started first draft of in 2015, A Fistful Of Feathers, is now looking for a new home. Actually, it’s currently being used to help me find an agent who may then find it a new home. More news when I have something to share.

ASIDE: This is not because of any issues between myself and Fox Spirit Books [External Link], and there may be further Fur-Skins related news from them for 2017 or 2018 but it’s a small press and the lovely Auntie Fox (Adele Wearing) is a very busy lady.

My main work from 2016 was an attempt to craft a folk-tale that mimicked (but wasn’t identical to) existing stories. Redraft should begin fairly soon and I’ve apparently enjoyed it enough that the first draft I recently started is another one. I have a suspicion that I’ll end up writing – or starting – several before I get this out of my system.

The adventures continue.

The Ink Plan

I’ll be looking at my book numbers soon and making a donation to the NAS [External Link]. “Soon” probably translates as end of January / beginning of February.

What I Learnt About The Rest of Life

Dora continues to be the source of adventure. She’s attempting to take over the role of Grand Dame. However, this can lead to fights with the somewhat more youthful Rosie to the effect of “You’re not my real mother and you can’t tell me what to do!” These occasionally get physical. In fact, I shall be dosing them both up with anti-inflamatories tonight so they don’t get stiff from today’s exertions (brought on by a young girl paying attention to ROsie, not Dora).

Oh, and Lancashire isn’t that bad, after all. I’ve recently found a tai-chi club and I’m fencing most weekends!

Monday 19th September, 2016

In a continuation of my last update post: Dear reader, I passed [my ITIL foundation course].

If you follow me on Twitter (tweet here: [External Link]), you may also have realised I didn’t post last week because I was concentrating on writing. I’m only about 5,000 words in but it involves fairies. I’m not entirely sure how long the work will be but I do know it seems to flow better when I’m listening to 70s disco. I’m not sure what this says about my interpretation of fairies.

So, other than that, the only thing to mention is the BFS FantasyCon by t’Sea. It starts Thursday evening but I won’t be arriving until Saturday afternoon – Friday is actually Finn’s birthday and I’ve decided I deserve a day off to celebrate. Things I am committed to:

  • Paint it Black on Saturday at 8:00 pm, Palm Court Ballroom – The Grand Hotel
    Why is Horror so often incorporated into other genres? Chaired by Phil Sloman
    … And I’ll be on the panel.
  • The British Fantasy Awards Ceremony on Sunday at 3:30 pm, Royal Ballroom – The Royal Hotel
    Book-baby African Monsters (I’m co-editor along with Margrét Helgadóttir) is up for the Best Anthology award.
  • The Banquet
    Food was mentioned and I am not-so-secretly a hobbit, so there’s no way I could resist.

Monday 13th June, 2016

I didn’t say anything last week as I had nothing to say. Until Tuesday when the British Fantasy Society (BFS) [External Link] announced the shortlists for this year’s awards (Full lists here: [External Link]). So, as well as being a juror for the novellas (for the third year) and the graphic novels / comics awards, Margrét Helgadóttir and I’s book-baby, African Monsters, is up for best anthology. Margrét’s book-baby, The Stars Seem So Far Away, is also up for best collection and our publisher is up for best indie press (again – they won last year). This means it is highly likely I shall be attending FantasyCon in Scarborough [External Link]. I intend to but I still have to book things so, just in case, let’s not say things are definite, eh?

(I can also give you a hint of a rumour in that I have booked a train ticket to Leicester for 25th August. I can’t tell you what for, yet, but there will be a writing type announcement.)

In a semi-related writing note, my current WIP (that Greenwood thing I occasionally mention) is crawling to the finish line. I’m currently at about 32,000 words and I expect it to end somewhere before 40,000. Of course, once draft one is done, I get to send that out to beta reader or two while I return to my Fistful of Feathers bit and knock it into shape for draft two from the feedback I’ve had on that.

However, life got interesting for my word-processing last week. My old computer – parts of which dated back to 2004 and the youngest parts dating back to 2011 – started to rattle the Friday after Satellite 5. I bought a new box rather than work out what may or may not be compatible with the working parts and wrestled it into submission from Wednesday to Saturday. People who know me and talk to me in person, though, know I’m still sulking. I used to run my old box on Ubuntu [External Link]. However, the new box appears to have some kind of objection to this and I’ve had to install Scientific Linux [External Link] – basically because that was what I had to hand as it’s what I use at work. We’re gradually coming to an understanding but I may have to investigate what flavours of Linux my box will accept (easily, as I’m not interested in fighting, as oppose to at all) and find a better fit.

Monday 28th December, 2015

We’re almost at the end of the year and I managed to miss a whole bunch of posts since I sort of moved. I’m still in the process of moving things from one location to another, so blogging and such will pick up eventually in the New Year but not straight away. Anyway, “Happy New Year!” for Thursday night / Friday morning.

What I Learnt About Writing in 2015

Well, time again for that annual tradition that was first inspired by Foxie [External Link]. Here’s my stats for this year with last year for comparison:

  • Submissions = 6 (20, 2014)
  • Total pieces in circulation = 6 (8, 2014)
  • New pieces in circulation = 1 (2, 2014)
  • Rewrites = 0 (1, 2014)
  • Acceptances = 3 (2, 2014)
  • Published = 4 (4, 2014)

NOTE: These numbers are a combination of Duotrope figures and some notes for submissions to non-listed destinations but do not include stories written for the website or published here. Attempts to rehome stories published here and elsewhere have been included.

So, I’ve been much less productive in terms of wordage this year. On the positive side, the publishing numbers include my second Elkie novel, A Pack of Lies, they don’t include completing the first draft on a novel, two novellas and a short story that have yet to go through more redrafting – and the Elkie novel I hope to have out in 2016 is still in draft form where I’d managed to get everything ready for my editor by the end of 2014 last year. And, as with European Monsters, I haven’t included editing African Monsters in this year’s figures.

It’s been another year where life got in the way of any plans I might have had, with writing (and editing) slowed down by commitments from January to June in my previous job. In November, I started a new job that also required relocation. It has interrupted in some ways but has got me back on track in others in that I’ve been writing more in the available evenings. However, I had to take a step back with editing Africa Monsters – and my co-editor (Margrét Helgadóttir [External Link]) has done an excellent job of piloting things solo since October.

Writer, Editor, General Dogsbody

So, here are the plans are for the immediate future of my writing and editing career:

My act of trilogy following Elkie Bernstein through the Fur-Skins world is almost complete. 25 Ways To Kill A Werewolf came out in 2014 and the follow up, A Pack of Lies came out in 2015. The third book, currently known as Fool If You Think It’s Over, should be getting redrafted in January. With a bit of luck, we should have everything in place for a Summer 2016 release.

Although Fox Spirit Books has given the go ahead for a third book in the monster series (to be Asian Monsters) I’m stepping down for this year. The heavy lifting of contacting people comes around this time and I can’t commit time to it until I’m through my probationary period at the new job and have some familiarity with how much of my brain space it takes up. (Which only goes to show how awesome Margrét Helgadóttir is as she relocated with work last year and it barely impacted for her). I hope to come back into the Monsters project for 2017 but we shall see how things go.

I’ve been working on my first non-Fur-Skins project for a while in 2015 and the first draft is (just about) complete. It’s highly likely that I will spend 2016 (and probably longer) getting it polished up and sending it out to possible new homes. The adventure, as they say, continues.

The Ink Plan

With moving, the Ink Plan has been changed – if nothing else, it’s unlikely to be the intended designer and I haven’t put any alternative plans in place as yet. However, I will be looking at my book numbers soon and making a donation to the NAS [External Link].

What I Learnt About The Rest of Life

Dora’s first year with the Hellhounds has been eventful, at least from her point of view. She’s managed a number of explorations and adventures that have involved climbing over walls (yes, really), forcing her way through fences and generally not coming when she’s called. However, she’s settled in with the other two just fine and she’s here to stay. Provided I walk her on a lead.

As already mentioned, this year I relocated for a new job. I’m having to relearn a bunch of stuff I didn’t realise I’d forgotten in order to become a systems administrator (Linux-based, naturally). I’m also coming to terms with the fact that I may end up in Lancashire for the foreseeable future rather than Yorkshire. This may take some mental adjustment.

Sunday 1st November, 2015

I have been a particularly bad correspondent of late. Think about how difficult a mouse would find it tapping out words on a keyboard. Now you have that mental image, ignore the fact that I’m actually a human who just ran out of time and energy.

Perhaps the first thing I should mention is my current giveaway. You have just under a week to enter to win a set of 25 Ways To Kill A Werewolf & A Pack Of Lies and / or a copy of European Monsters. There are a number of entries so far but all you have to do is comment! (With the proviso that I’ll not be posting them outside of the EU / EEA – and Switzerland – due to postage. You can live somewhere else buy the address I post to needs to be “local”.)

So, I’m in the process of relocating – in work and in habitation. I’m about to embark on my last week with FCC Environment and I start my new job the week after. I may have just about secured a place to rent that will except three dogs (although, due to paperwork, it’ll be sometime this week before the letting agents give me the final “yea” or “nay”). I still have a house to get on the market (once the dogs aren’t there so people can view it in peace) and tidy up a bit at weekends. Thankfully, the Rugby (Union) World Cup is now over – grats to New Zealand – and I have one less thing to distract me while I get things sorted.

Last weekend, I attended FantasyCon in Nottingham [External Link] (around house viewings in North Yorkshire and Lancashire, as well as handing in paperwork). I met up with some lovely people – for name dropping purposes, have a gander at Steven Poore [External Link] – who just launched his epic fantasy, but there’s a tonne of blogging about people’s impressions linked from a BFS round-up post here: [External Link].

Apparently I did okay in my panel where I shared space with, amongst others, Juliet McKenna [External Link]. However, I’m not in a position to commit to anything next year until I have moving sorted and a house sold. Until then, I have to pay for two households, so it’s unlikely I shall have spare monies for con-attending. Wel, aside form the already having got a membership to Satellite 5 [External Link] (Glasgow, 28th-29th May, 2016), which I am currently determined to make.

Other things currently up in the air include my current WIP (Feathers), which I’m about two thirds of the way through – at least in first draft. I hope to get it sorted soon but I may detour into redrafting the last Elkie piece as that’s on a deadline for next year. I’m still working on the African Monsters anthology with Margrét Helgadóttir [External Link] with the intention of publishing it this year but the official launch will be in February next year.

Advance warning but I will be committing further bloggage at The Finishing School [External Link] this week – it’s the first Wednesday of the month, after all. If you have any HEMA-related things you want me to post about at the TFS, please let me know but I’m not sure how things will fit in with the time left over from the house-related responsibilities. Fingers crossed that I can manage a December post!

There may end up being a slight hiatus on the Otherworld Gazetteer [External Link] posts and site diary posts here for much the same reason. I should, however, be back next week to let you know a bit more about how things are working out.

Sunday 22nd March, 2015

Well, a link soup update!

A short story of mine, An Invisible Tide, has been published. More importantly, it has been published in issue 32 of The Future Fire [External Link], which is now ten years old! It’s a lovely online magazine – and I’m biased but they’re not good just because they published a few of my stories. In fact, they’re so good I name dropped them as part of my 9 Good Things on the 27 Good Things website [External Link] (which also came out this week). I have yet to write my story background post for An Invisible Tide and hope to sort things out for next week. However, if you want to tell me what you thought about it, don’t forget that The Future Fire has their own blog and are looking for feedback comments, too!

For the next trick, if you haven’t noticed I have a book out called 25 Ways To Kill A Werewolf (from Fox Spirit Books [External Link]). The follow up (A Pack Of Lies) should be out for July, so now may be a good time to take a look – or leave feedback at Amazon, or Goodreads, or Booklikes, or … Well, you get the idea. Needy writer continues to be needy! For some idea of what it’s all about try these pages and posts on site:

(Actually, for that matter, you may also want to have a look at European Monsters. Because it’s a beautiful book that I just happen to be co-editor of, along with Margrét Helgadóttir [External Link].)

Finally, just a reminder that I’ll be at Dysprosium / EasterCon with Fran Terminiello [External Link]. So that’s in two weeks’ time, give or take a day!

Sunday 15th March, 2015

You know how I said I might be more interesting next week… a fortnight ago? Well, it turns out I was too interesting to post a website update.

I made a flying visit to Copenhagen last weekend to meet up with Margrét Helgadóttir [External Link]. It was mainly social but it did give us a chance to talk African Monsters (which we’re aiming to get out this December) and writing in general.

The dogs were in kennels for my visit but promptly decided to make life interesting by runnign away. Well, Dora ran off. And she didn’t so much run off as refuse to come out of a bramble patch. She was back within 24 hours but it did require alerting various authorities and putting up posters. Have you noticed how Dora keeps having these adventures that mean I spend a lot of time talking about her? I need to do something about that…

Finally, just a reminder that I’ll be at Dysprosium / EasterCon with Fran Terminiello [External Link]. So that’s in two weeks’ time, give or take a day!

Sunday 15th February, 2015

For those paying attention to such matters, the fence will finally be fixed this week. Yes, it has taken that long to catch up with Dora‘s exploits. Although she’s now fully chipped and injected, I have yet to get her a name tag. Probably a job for next weekend!

Other than that, not much to say – the rugby has been… lacklustre, at least from the bits I’ve seen, I haven’t been doing any writing as I concentrated on reading a book I’ve had open since Christmas (yes, really), and time continues to march on.

However, you may remember my friend and co-editor, Margrét Helgadóttir [External Link]. She’s having a more exiting time as her new book The Stars Seem So Far Away has just come out, also from Fox Spirit Books [External Link]. Kindle and epub formats will eventually make it online but, for now, you can buy a paperback copy of from Amazon (UK link here: [External Link]). I had the honour of being a test reader and it’s lovely – so lovely I bought a copy as soon as it came out!

Sunday 28th December, 2014

Almost at the end of the year, so “Happy New Year!” for Wednesday night / Thursday morning. We’ve got a couple of things to go through, so there’s headings today.

What I Learnt About Writing in 2014

Well, time for that annual tradition that was first inspired by Foxie [External Link]. Here’s my stats for this year with last year for comparison:

  • Submissions = 20 (28, 2013)
  • Total pieces in circulation = 8 (8, 2013)
  • New pieces in circulation = 2 (3, 2013)
  • Rewrites = 1 (2, 2013)
  • Acceptances = 2 (5, 2013)
  • Published = 4 (3, 2013)

NOTE: These numbers are a combination of Duotrope figures and some notes for submissions to non-listed destinations but do not include stories written for the website or published here. Attempts to rehome stories published here elsewhere have been included.

So, I’ve been slightly less productive and less aggressive about getting work out there. While the numbers above include the publishing of my first accepted novel, 25 Ways To Kill A Werewolf [External Link], they don’t include a number of works that are still in first draft, held there while I work on the first draft of the third Elkie novel (currently known as: Fool If You Think It’s Over) or getting European Monsters [External Link] up and running.

And I need a reminder to self: writing is just my hobby with potential to be a retirement plan. This was the balance of my life / paid work / procrastination / hobby work that worked this year. Ignore that little voice in my head that says I can and should do more.

Also not shown in the numbers but obvious from being around here, my blogging has fallen off a bit – to the point where I sometimes forget to do the site diaries as I basically have nothing to tell you that’s new – and I haven’t done much with the non-fiction pieces this year. I may or may not get back to that. Working on scripts has also been knocked on the head for this year with having to balance as much as I did (more on this later).

Writer, Editor, General Dogsbody

This year, I’ll use this section to mention what the plans are for the immediate future of my writing and editing career. Let’s start with Elkie…

As mentioned, the first book in my Elkie trilogy, 25 Ways To Kill A Werewolf [External Link], came out in 2014. The second book, currently A Pack Of Lies, has made it to the third draft and is with Fox Spirit Books- this will hopefully be out in 2015. The third book is approaching the end of the first draft, so that may be out in 2016 or 2017. (Yes, I know. A fantasy trilogy. Sorry.)

With European Monsters [External Link] having been organised and published, Fox Spirit Books has invited my co-editor (Margrét Helgadóttir [External Link]) and I to continue into a series. We’re in debate about how many there will end up being but the next book, hopefully due in December 2015, will be African Monsters.

Obviously, this means I have official commitments and deadlines, so this is the hobby work that gets the main focus. Anything I get done extra to this is basically just an added bonus. Fingers crossed that I will get more done as I have a load of ideas floating around, and a few that are all ready in first draft and need to be worked on.

The Ink Plan

I should be able to put together an update for the end of the month / just into the new year with totals. This year I shall be owing the NAS [External Link] some money (which I shall be donating in January) but haven’t got anywhere near a tattoo.

What I Learnt About The Rest of Life

This year started with good intentions but ended up being one of the most stressful in recent years. On the plus side, I didn’t need to take any time off due to stress but that was because I organised actual holidays when I knew I needed a break. For those who haven’t noticed, the other half experiment didn’t work out. I ended up working hard to keep both of us, both in monetary and housekeeping terms, and… well, bacon and egg sandwiches just don’t make up for it.

This year it looks like I will be having a new pet, though, as I found a wandering patterdale terrier just before Christmas and took her in. If her owners don’t step forward, she’ll become Dora (because she’s an explorer) and join the pack of Hellhounds.

One Last (December) Song

To finish off December, have some Morecambe and Wise:

Sunday 21st December, 2014

This week turned out to be surprisingly busy. There was quite a bit of bombing around for the day job but I’ve had two published announcements this week. Rather than type out all the link soup again, I’ll just give links to the two announcements here:

  1. European Monsters (Fox Spirit Books of Monsters #1), which I co-edited along with Margrét Helgadóttir [External Link] and which contains some fantastic stories and artwork. And I don’t just say that because I’m biased.
  2. Missing Monarchs (Fox Spirit Books’ Fox Pockets #4), an anthology with many lovely authors in.

And any sold before December 31st will count towards my Ink Plan total – I shall have to do a summing up for that in January to ensure numbers cover the time period properly. At this stage, it looks like I shall be handing a donation over to the NAS [External Link] but we didn’t approach Ink levels.

Anyway, here’s the last advent video. I give you a brass band (so we know it’s really Christmas. Well, Yule / Solstice / Midwinter) and my favourite carol (when played by brass bands).

(A reminder: I’m not Christian so my interest in Advent is purely secular.)

Finally, the usual reminder that if you want some free fiction, we have:

  • A Granted Wish, a novella, is up on the Fox Spirit [External Link] web-site under their Free Fiction page. There’s some background here with direct links to the right Fox Spirit page.
  • The first chapter of 25 Ways To Kill A Werewolf available on the site. It has all the usual plug links at the bottom of the page so, if you like it, you can get your paws on your own copy.
  • You can find the archive of my freely available short stories here.