The 2020’s so far

So, we find ourselves a couple of years into this decade. The same few years since I last posted. And the world has gone more to shit that any of us thought after the shit show that was Brexit and Trump becoming the US president.

My last post here was shortly after COVID hit. That was a wild ride, the eeriest thing was during the first lockdown (I was classed as essential so worked all the way through) driving down the M1 and there being no other vehicles on the road.

Work has continued.

We’ve been to a couple of in person cons again now, and it’s been good to see old friends and make new.

Oh – yes. I almost died. That’s right. Can’t forget that. Did it at the best time too – 10pm on a Friday night. Like A&E isn’t busy then at all. Nope. I’m mostly ok – drug cocktails for blood pressure, the threat of statins. The usual.

I hinted at introducing Jeb and Viktoria three years ago. What was meant to be a short story has kept growing. Slowly to be sure. The working title is Wolf. I wrote a scene with wolves in first and that kind of stuck as a working title. There are no other wolves (yet). It’s a classic sword and magic fantasy with a portal to another world, I’m enjoying writing it and people who’ve read some bits seem to like it.

The last three years I’ve done a few things around writing.

1) Novel In A Year – with Jenny Kane. I’ve known Jenny for a few years (ok – maybe 10 years now….). What I started with for the year didn’t survive. I fell out of love. But Jeb and Viktoria came to the rescue.
2) Northmoor writing retreat. This was co-run by Jenny and Alison of Imagine. Beautiful Manor House with a lot of land. Chat, writing, and good food.
3) After lockdowns finished and my work moved the office to the city centre, I started going to a self serve wine bar on a Thursday after getting out of the office. Yes – self serve. Dangerous. But words did get tapped into a laptop.
4) Various self catering holidays. Some of them with no internet and poor mobile signal. Words came.

I’ve not gone back to a writing group. I realised the “Just Write” of Calgary just didn’t exist in Nottingham when I looked. I should maybe look at setting one up here. The structured meet-ups didn’t actually work that well for me when I look back. Yes they got me writing something out of my norm – but no progress on what I wanted to progress. So I’ll just continue with the wine bar after work occasionally for now.

I’ve been lucky in that I’ve also managed to start getting to a few gigs since the world opened back up. Best acts from the last year(ish) if you ever get the chance, if you don’t like the music just for the show!
1) Devin Townsend
2) Baby Metal
3) Hanabie.
4) Apocalyptica

I’ve been on a bit of a reading dry spell. OK – stranded in the middle of a desert. There have been a couple of books (series) that have drawn me in though. You’ll notice some of those are Japanese light novels. Yes I need to read the English translation. As much as I’d love to learn to read Japanese – not gonna happen any time soon unfortunately.

I have been working though the Spice and Wolf books again as well. Still one of my favourite works – in both the book and anime form. I’m not sure how I feel about the anime reboot that’s coming in 2024 – but we shall see.
1) This Is How You Lose the Time War – Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone
2) Didn’t I say to make my abilities average in the next life? – Funa
3) Wandering Witch Elaina – Jougi Shiraishi
4) The Magical Revolution of the Reincarnated Princess and the Genius Young Lady – Piero Karasu

The Anime series which I’ve really picked up in the last few years,  there’s been a lot of good (and equally a lot of shite). So this is just a small list for the sake of a small list.
1) 86
2) Eminence in Shadow
3) Spy x Family
4) Bocchi the Rock!
5) Lycoris Recoil

I started to play Azur Lane back in 2019. Still playing, got a 100% collation. Fav Ship Girl is Montpelier.
I’ve also dipped into Genshin Impact but as of now still don’t have Ho Tau or Eula (edit – got Ho Tau bout 10 mins after writing this), and am spending more time elsewhere in Hoyoverse over at Star Rail – currently running a Sushang main, with Kafka, Silver Wolf, and Nat competing my main team.

What else is new?

Not a lot, I live a nice boring life. And I like it that way.

What is in the future?

The world is still going to shit, and I suspect we’re on the cusp of civilisation collapsing. But while it does I’ll keep drinking my wine, tapping way at a keyboard when I’m able. Words flowing. Maybe a gig or 2, more Cons (next is Bristol Con), and more book reading and Anime watching.

Hopefully the next post won’t be three years from now. But I make no promises.

Still writing, Still here.

It’s been a while! I am still writing – just. This is despite the way life has done one of those turns on us and it has been a rough year, not just for me but for a lot of people.

After returning to the UK we were living in a small flat – too small for two adults (I marvel at the fact that some people are able to bring up a family in something of that size, and hats off to them – it can’t be easy!). We had a long six months where we thought we’d be moving within the next couple of weeks and it just didn’t happen. This, along with some other things happening, was bad for my mental health. I actually stopped writing completely for a few months at one point, stopped reading, stopped listening to music; all motivation to anything was gone.

The house move finally happened in January, on the same day I had a job interview (got it and started after lock down started… weird or what?). Talk about super stressful days, the two international moves were easy in comparison to that one, lets just say we don’t plan on moving again for a long time!

The lock down has been hard in some ways and not so in others. If we hadn’t moved it would have been really hard for us. In the new house we have the space to get alone time, both inside and we have a garden again, where I’ve taken to sitting out in that rare British sun.

As an introvert I’ve never struggled with not going out and about, but the enforced nature of this is so different, the social distancing is odd, where once there is bustle we now have people making a wide berth (well – most people, there are a few out there who seem to not know what two metres is!). I did enjoy heading out to a couple of places in town and going to a restaurant. Even doing the food shop when I needed and not having to plan and queue so much.

Its resulted in the fun things being cancelled this year too. I was looking forward to EasterCon and catching up with friends there. With other conventions, and gigs, we had planned on attending look less likely to be able to go ahead the longer the world remains in this paused state. I don’t envy the position the organisers of these are in, the amount of work involved with getting everything together to see it all vanish in this way.

What has come good from this is the virtual meet ups, I’ve reconnected with friends I made in Calgary and the writing group there with Discord meet ups, and with friends we have spread over the UK with virtual pub nights.

I’ve also started to write some more, I’m keeping away from the larger works until I’m fully back in the swing of it – I don’t want to dive back into that world before my brain is ready, and have a short fantasy story I’m working on. I’ll introduce you to Jeb and Viktoria at some point! I am learning to work with Scrivener while I’m doing this which is both different and not so much at the same time from how I’ve always kept a lot of my notes and research in OneNote. I will complete this story and see how I feel before deciding where to do the next one!

It is not just stories which have started to come out again, I’ve been learning to do more with PowerShell for work and enjoying that, I’m listening to music again, I’m reading a little, dreams are returning to their norm where stories start their journey though my brain before working to some kind of scrawl on paper. These are all sure signs that my mental health is well on the road to where it needs to be.

The Sword

We stumbled in, this old beaten down shop. I scrambled, pulling the piles apart. Junk, all of it modern junk – useless to us now; the flashy phones stacked up, the blank displays glossy behind their protectors.

We sorted, filtered the piles, we only had a short time before the power would return and life bounce back in to the new, our oppression by technology.

At the back, hidden behind a rusted door we had to break through, we found the old stuff. The good stuff, what we could swap for food.

This stash didn’t need the rationed electric, and there was the most majestic of all – a box of ballpoint pens. A way for us to send messages a computer couldn’t read. We’d all learned to be messy with our writing to confuse the machines. These would feed us like kings for months,

Back at camp we were the heroes. The joy of smuggling the forbidden. What was obsolete, was also dangerous.
I took the first message to the next town. They traded with ours, the resistance needed our blue gold. We teamed with them.

Over threw the overlords.

The power remains off.

The Garret Window

I threw her out of a garret window, watching as she fell. She landed cat-like, uninjured and ready to rebound.

I slunk back, hiding behind the curtain as people reacted; looking up, looking down, as she slowly stood, staring back up at the window she had hastily exited the room from, hair a mess, ruffled and a twig sticking out from her landing.

Help rushed to assist, a persistent pounding at the door below started to entre my consciousness. Someone draped a cloak round her; the unnamed assassin. Disarmed and clothes ruined from my defence.

Let them think further, closer and more importantly realise it’s just not worth the effort.

This was the third such I’d deposited onto the pavement below in the last two weeks, none of them skilled in any way and in need of the instructions I gladly gave.

The pounding on the door stopped, and the solid tread of feet on the stairs began. Time for me to disappear, the hidden door passing though the wall to Mrs Jenkins on the left, of which she did not have a clue existed, would provide me ample time to be safe. And once again confuse and disoriented the inept and frankly useless local police.

Their muffled shouts drew closer and using my pullies I hid my departure.

Settling into my chair, I picked up the interrupted glass and took a sip. The wonderful meal in front of me now far too cold to eat. What a waste.

I’d have to add that to the bill I’d be presenting tomorrow morn.

Hello Nottingham

I’m here. Settled in a new job, and I’ve been looking for a new writing group. I think I’ve found it!

I’ve been to a couple now, 9am on a Saturday is not a good time… But I’ve found a weekday evening one.

I got writing there, chatting to the people. It’s a small group, with more structure than I’ve had before, this I think will be a good thing for me and my writing.

I’ve felt inspired to write again, the move from Canada to the UK took a lot out of me, so any motivation is a good thing!

We’re also out exploring the city, finding new best places to eat and drink. New favourite meals, wines. New friends and the thrill of taking the bus to work everyday.

We have two cities to explore, Nottingham and Derby are so close together with a very good bus service. East Midlands – here we are!

Goodbye to my Calgary writing group

I’ve moved back to the UK. There are reasons.

One of the best things I did in my time in Calgary was join the writing group. I lucked into meeting an awesome group of people who became friends, and have an open invite to visit should they make it to Nottingham at any time. We’ll keep in touch though social media and so forth.

This group has inspired me, helped me work my ideas though and given me motivation to write. Also there is a Boston Pizza habit formed from the group… And yes I’m going to miss a chain pizza place haha.

We laughed with fun ideas and talked the serious talk. Politics and the world, we all agreed on a lot of things as is the way when you get a group of creatives together. McGuffins were developed, plots thrown away, copious amounts of coffee drank (and pizza eaten).

We pounced on the large round table, jokingly complaining if someone was on there before us, even getting to the place early to try and get it. We’d sometimes split into two groups, the chatters and the writers. I’d hover between the two, some weeks getting lots written, others not a word would emerge onto the page.

I’ve made friends here, and next time I’m in western Canada I’ll be making sure to pop along on a Tuesday evening. If you’re there and have the time I highly recommend popping down and joining them. The (K)night Writers!

I left doing something fun – NaNoWriMo was my last hurrah with them. I left Canada on Nov 30th, with the stress of a move and finding a new job I managed to get just over 4500 words, but that’s OK. It kept me writing and got a new idea flowing that I can use and work out some of the timeline of the universe…

I’m sat here, a week after landing at a new group; so far its a good group! I have coffee and am chatting, others are drawing, making up choose your own adventures – oh and some are writing…  I’ll be back to see them again.

So while it’s goodbye to Calgary, it’s also a big hello to Nottingham!

And I’ve started

With the 1st November on us NaNoWriMo has begun, I have started writing. With a few weeks of planning already done I have a vague plan of what I’m writing for the next month.

Ideas, names, questions and gaping plot holes here I come. Yes this is a draft zero, and I will need to keep reminding myself on this for the next month and not do my usual and go back editing as I go – that’s for some time down the line.

I know where this is going to fit into my timeline of the universe. I know somethings an author will always keep in their head on how those small items will link between seeming separate stories and still allowing the autonomy of each story to remain.

This is going to be a fun month. It’s going to be a hard month. There will be coffee. I will find places to go and write, to cry and laugh and swear (silently and politely – this is Canada!).

Wish me luck.

NaNoWriMo 2018

It happened. Over coffee and talk, I agreed to do NaNoWriMo this year with some of the people from my writing group.

So yes – another project! I have ideas, and things are mulling and building in my brain. The big question – can I somehow get it to fit into the universe? We’ll see….

I’ll be putting my progress here as well as on the NaNoWriMo site at (login required)


Zan stood waiting, holding onto the overhead grab-rail. She was getting restless along with the other riders. They knew it was coming; the ship had dropped back to normal space some time ago with klaxons blaring, signalling for them to prep for launch.

There was a shuffle in the room as more riders made it from quarters, the whole squadron was now crammed in the too small locker room, the nervous energy threatening to overwhelm them all. There was uneasy banter amongst some, the more experienced, but the younger and greener members were looking unsure of themselves. This was their first time out into the big black. They were away from friends and family, just out of the naval academy and had no idea what was to come.

They’d not move down to the holding pens until they were ready to launch in a few more minutes, once they’d been given the signal. Zan knew that right now the keepers were likely struggling with settling them and moving the fighting wing into place; making sure that everything was in order before the riders made their way though and got the excitement levels up again.

The bright white lights changed to a dull red glow and the room filed though the hatch, pulling the last parts of their EV suits into place with an easy click, most leaving their helmets hanging by a strap on the hip.

Zan could hear Adie ahead and her stride lengthened, he knew something was coming – they all did – growing restless the closer the riders got, if she was lucky he wouldn’t set the whole squadron off.

Within ten short minutes they were out in space, flying in perfect practiced formation.

The enemy was spread out ahead, their own fighters primed and ready. They would have the same goal – get though and attack the airlocks of the carriers and cruisers.

Head down Zan guided Adie towards the enemy, heading into the battle. His deep green wings spread wide with the occasional glint from the local sun, pushing them forwards with each beat, the twenty metre wings soundless in space as he extended his head forward.

Zan could see the enemy ships only via her helmet HUD – dark metal in dark space not visible to the human eye, but Adie would be able to home in on them, the flares of heat and infra-red in the distance fully registering for his sight.

With the reigns lose and dangling she let him find a route though, letting his skill and ability guide them. They were not here to engage in the dog fighting with the enemy, that was the task for the rest of the squad. Zan and Adie would be heading directly for one of the enemy ships and avoiding skirmishes and the enemy where possible, they already had their target where Zan would get into an enemy airlock, gain entry to a ship, and set it to blow with the aim to take a good chunk of ship with it.

Swooping between the enemy wings they made their way forward, Zan resorted to her blaster occasionally, more to make the other riders move out of their way when they got close than to engage.

One of the enemy crashed into them, forcing the pair to change direction. Adie rolled and grabbed out with his talons, pulling the other rider out of their saddle, his claws ripping though the delicate space suit and a jet of blood made the body tumble as he let go.

Zan fired her gun, grazing the wing of the enemies great beast, and with a split second thought they followed after it, a riderless dragon was a danger and unpredictable, uncontrolled and would wreak havoc in any battle.

His wings were beating, pushing against the non-existent space, action and reaction propelling them forward, Zan pressed herself flat as she could as Adie raced after the rogue. As they gained there was a flash ahead, the first enemy ship exploded, cannon fire starting to take its toll as Zans HUD flared with the launch of more enemy fighter ships. Her whole squadron moved to intercept, now with two fronts to fight.

The chatter increased in her ear as the pair joined the mêlée; his claws and jaws, her blaster joining the other agile dragon and riders in out manoeuvring and decimating the ships. All the while dodging the enemy dragons. Then the enemy fled, scattering and disengaging from the fight. It was less than a second before they realised they’d been led into a trap, the group stared to fan out and split as three broadsides hit, she saw her friends hit, felt the jolt as Adie took a strike to a wing. Tumbling he took a few moments to regain stability, just as the next volley hit the area. Zan could feel the strain though the saddle as Adie put all his energy into moving. Zan was glad she couldn’t see the bodies and death in space, there was no way much of the squad survived the shooting.

They swerved back to their target, away from the crossfire as the own cruisers entered the area, space would be full of live shells, laser and blaster fire and enough EMI to fry the electronics in her suit.

“Let’s not get distracted now.” she whispered to her partner, a rumble of acknowledgement went through him and into her abdomen.

They pulled close to their target cruiser, flying its length mere metres above its surface in search of the main airlock or any other vulnerable spot. Zan saw it before Adie, and pulling in the reigns guided him to a sensor array. They could get that first it would take a part of their shared net down, giving her comrades precious time to move in.

Not always Sci-Fi and Fantasy

I write Sci-Fi and Fantasy, plain and simple, have done since I was a teenager. My wife writes erotica. We tend to not write each others genre, but we do give each other help and advice, beta reading and checking for those silly mistakes one can make when writing. It works well and means we read outside of our respective genres. We attend writers conferences together, I’ll head to events such as Eroticon and some of the “Smut” events in the north of England to support and also learn a lot – there is a so much crossover and ideas to improve writing when you start crossing genres, and we also attend more general writing conventions together (Nine Worlds in London in previous years and When Worlds Collide in Calgary this coming August). No matter what type of even you attend the people are always awesome and we have yet to meet someone we didn’t get on with.

While we were on holiday a couple of years ago she was struggling to get a submission done, it was an erotic fantasy call. Without saying a word while she tapped away at her laptop, I sat quietly in the corner, glass of wine to elbow and I too started typing. I managed to get a few thousand words written and then edited, this is my only piece of erotic fiction, and it may or may not be my last (edit – I’ve written a few bits to play about with ideas but nothing else of this length). I really enjoyed the getting out of the norm from which I normally write, and will let me potentially take some of this into my mainstay of work.

On an impulse we submitted it along with the piece she had done, and much to her horror and disbelief mine was accepted almost instantly, while they took a week or so for hers.

The good news is I am a published author, just not in the genre I normally write in and with a nom de plume.

So my message to anyone writing, try things out side of your norm, you never know what’s going to happen – and you may enjoy it, you’ll certainly improve your writing by doing so.