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.

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)

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.

Writing Group

One of the best things I did after I moved was getting on to meetup and finding a writing group.

I lucked into what has turned out to be an awesome group of fellow writers who meet, drink coffee, chat and go for pizza.

This weekly outing has kick started my pen after a difficult year, the move took a lot mentally out of me and the words did stop for a time, now they are back with a force!

We share ideas, throw spanner in works and make suggestions – yep I now have a massive idea I want to work into the underlying universe and existing material and my brain is working over time on where I can drop the hints and glances for this thing, this thing which I’m hoping will take a number of books to make it self apparent (thanks Liv!)

I’ve recently started to work though the world and the part I’m working on with one of the guys there, talking and thrashing out ideas. Having to explain where I’m going with things and detail in this way is meaning I have actually formed up some ideas, altered some aspects and dropped a few words and ideas.

So anyone who’s writing in isolation, go find a writing group, Google , Facebook, Twitter, and Meetup will help you out; they are great resources and a place to make friends.

A joined universe

Over the last ten years I’ve managed to write a few short stories which could very easily turn in to something much longer, and are already taking such a shape in my head. Along with the stories I’ve started which have screamed novel length since I began working on them. So just over a year ago I made a decision to attempt to bring most of my work into the same universe. I’ve just recounted and I am looking at double digits in the potential book count for this. Not all will make the cut and will end up as part of the history’s I use, but this is an exciting time for me.

This is working better than expected, but it’s ballooned into a major task that is still ongoing. I’ve now got my own wiki server running to keep track of everything, and I am deep in the process of getting all the information into it.

This process is not as simple as saying “they are all in the same universe, on with it”, I need to make sure that there are no conflicting technologies, history, civilisations etc, going though and reconciling all my notes, working out the timeline and where the stories relate and sit with each other.

It’s meant I’ve spent a lot of time doing world building, and working to the history of the world, sometimes as I write, and other times I’ll veer off on a tangent and write a whole extra 10k short story around the idea.

Some of the shorts and snips I’ve posted here will forge the foundations of this extended world, the current working title of  “Confederation – Earth Wars” seems to be hanging about, the time line spanning a thousand years.

I hope everyone enjoys where I am going with my writing – I know I am!


A New Start

A lot has happened in the last couple of years, some good, some bad, and some heartbreaking; I’m going to give you all a small insight to the life of Mike over the last while.

Mid to late 2016 something happened – I’ll not going to details – in my life and I stopped writing – as in nothing came out at all. Nothing felt right, and then Jan 2017 it looked like my marriage was about to collapse (it didn’t – wasn’t an easy period but we got though it) and then the company I work for offered to move me halfway round the world.

Still no words were appearing on any page – paper or computer or phone, and this new added stress took all motivation to even try away – repairing a marriage and moving across the Atlantic…

I’m here, in Calgary, AB. And life starts again.


Deno was panting as he crested the hill, the path had taken all sorts of directions and they were all uphill, and his pack only seemed to get heavier as he went, not lighter. He hoped that this town he was heading to was worth it. He had been told there was work for the local Lord, he had been walking through the forest for five days now, and going up all these hills using game trails was almost more than his city on a plain upbringing could cope with. He did question in his mind why there were no roads though these hills if there was a town, surely there would be trade, and he could not see horse and cart using these trails. His own foolishness had put a stop to his life there, he would be more careful about what he said about Munta when a priest was close by in future. He looked down the valley and could see a scatter of buildings – but not enough to call a town, there were maybe five in total, but he could see there was a road heading away from it in the other direction.

He was in need of a warm bed off the forest floor, so he hoped that there would be someone willing to let him use a stable for the night. It took him two hours to stumble down the side of the hill and he arrived at the little hamlet after the sun had dropped behind the hill line. He was in luck, he could see one of the buildings had a sign hanging above a door, grapes and barley. He slowly walked up and pushed the door open, there was a small tavern with only three benches, only one of them had anyone sat, it was occupied by a group of five men; a small thin, almost skeletal man stood from his perch near the large open fire pit.

“Hello stranger,” his voice was a deep, low growl, the group turned as one and watch Deno as he closed the door behind him. The smoke in the room gave it a dark murky light, the stench of rotting food and reeds on the floor was over powering, he swallowed to stop himself from retching.

“Do you have any food and ale?” he asked, trying not to let his fear show and come though his tone. There was something about the way the men at the table were looking at him, he could see they all had swords leaning on the table next to them.

“A copper for both. Ale and the last of the broth.” said the innkeeper, he waited while Deno fiddled with his purse and got one of his last coppers out, Deno could feel the eyes of the other men on him as he did so, as he handed it over the coin was almost snatched from his hand before the little man scuttled away and returned with a mug and bowl after a few moments, there was a chunk of stale looking bread floating in the broth. They were almost thrown onto the shoddy looking table where Deno had sat with his back to the wall, making sure he could see out into the room, something made him feel uneasy here, but he couldn’t work out what it was. He sat eating what he’d been given, the taverns in Celith would have thrown this to the dogs rather than serve it. He took a sip of his ale and leaned back into the wall and he felt the bench move and wobble as he did, he would have to ask about a bed for the night when the innkeeper came back.

The door slamming woke him from his doze, he could see someone in a dark hooded cloak, a large hunting dog at his side, standing and making no move to take a seat. The five men at the other table hastily hunched in on themselves and made to take no notice of this new customer and his hound. Deno could feel something, he wasn’t sure what, emanating from the hooded figure. A presence.

“My Lord!” the little innkeeper almost screamed as he hurried over to the man.

“Kelpt, you weasel.” The intensity of the voice behind the hood had the innkeeper pull back a pace, “You five” he pointed at the men at the table, a gloved hand emerging from the folds of his cloak “Leave. I don’t want to see your kind here again, bandits and thieves have no place in Enkull. You have been told before, next time you are here you will be hunted down like the game you are. My men are in need of some sport. They grow restless and impatient.” As if to emphasise the point the sound of a group of riders could be heard outside. The five scrambled up and made to leave, “Leave your swords here.” commanded the figure, “honest men have no need for them.” There was a draft as the door opened and the men ran out, though the door Deno caught a glimpse of at least ten mounted men, sat waiting. The figure turned back to the innkeeper, “Kelpt – if you give those bandits food and shelter again we will burn you out.”

Kelpt stuttered “But My Lord, I was scared for my life when they came, had I not they would surely have killed me!”

“Send your boy to me next time!” It was then that the figure seemed to notice Deno, “Stranger. Welcome to Enkull, you are welcome if you are honest, not if you are scoundrel. Which are you?”

“I am a disgraced scribe my lord. Traveling looking for a new life.” Deno paused, he didn’t know exactly who this man was other than he commanded fear.

“Kelpt,” said the figure, “Give him board, and send him to me in the morning.” He turned to leave, “We will speak again stranger, I have need of a scribe.” and he was out of the door and the sound of horses faded into the night.

The directions Kelpt had given had been clear, follow the path down the valley for ten miles, ford the river and turn to the left. Keep going and he would soon find the town of Crogent, on the side of the lake.

Deno had not been prepared for the size of the town, it almost rivalled Celith, he could see the walls and beyond the large keep that sat atop a hill in the centre, overlooking the town, the lake and the valley.

He entered though one of the main gates, the arch was tunnel like in its fifty feet of depth. He followed the main road as it twisted round and steadily climbed up, it seemed to take him hours to come to the wall for the keep, here there were guards watching as people entered and left, making no move to stop anyone. Deno carried on, he approached one of them.

“Hi there,” he began, “I was in a tavern run by a man named Kelpt when a large fellow in a cloak came in, he said he had need of a scribe and I was to come here.”

The guard looked at him for a moment, “Seb! Get here!” a young lad of about ten came running, “Take this here man to the keep, he needs to see Chamberlin Treil.” The boy nodded and motioned for Deno to follow. He lead them into the keep by way of the servants entrance, there were chickens and pigs roaming about, pecking and snuffling, the hunting dogs did not seem to be interested as they sat lounging in the sun as it poked through the clouds. The door Seb lead Deno though took them into a dark hallway, there were doors off to either side, and they went through the third on the left, up a short flight of stairs where Seb knocked on a plain wooden door. It was opened several moments later by an aging man, short and stocky with pure white hair, he had a crimson robe tied about his self. “Yes?” he asked.

Seb nodded and indicated the Deno should introduce himself. “My name is Deno, I’m a scribe and I was told by a man in a cloak with a large dog to come here.” The words tumbled out, almost incoherently.

“Yes, I was told you might be coming, my name is Treil, I’m the Chamberlin for Lord Strivrut. Said he found you in a den of thieves and outlaws. Care to explain that? We cannot, will not, have thieves and outlaws working for the Lord!”

“I did not know that, I have travelled from Celith, I followed that paths that I was advised and ended up following game trails over the hills for five days, then last night – just as the sun was setting I came across the tavern that I met the Lord at last night.”

“Very well then,” He looked at the young lad – “Seb – thank you. Go back to the guard house.” the boy nodded and scurried off. “Come in Deno, come in and let us talk.”

Treil showed Deno into the chamber, there was a large writing desk, and a shelf with a whole ten books on them, along with some scrolls. A wealth of writing that Deno had not even seen in Celith. “Sit, please” said the old man indicating a chair, as he made himself comfortable on its mate opposite. “You told our lord you were a disgraced scribe, we can work round that, but only if there is not going to be trouble from it, are there going to be any relatives pounding on our door demanding we hand you over? Or will there be a Lords men marching here demanding compensate for us taking you in?”

“Neither Master Treil, I did blaspheme within ear of a priest and he did make complaint to my employer. I was thrown out and could not find anyone that would hire me in Celith. I left with just those things in my pack and spoke to people in taverns and following word did make my way in this direction.”

“Very well. We will have you do some small bits, our current scribe has taken to the drink and is no longer able to work, which has left me doing most of it. We will get you cleaned up and presentable.” Treil stood, “Follow me my boy,” Deno followed him out of the room, Treil paused; “Up that way is the Lords rooms, I will show you that later, this other way, and up the stairs on the left is where you will be sleeping, with the page boys and other servants. There is a wash house out the back. Food is what is left from the main meals, you will know when and where – all of the others will kinds of pull you along. First we will go and see the cook. She always has a long list of things we need to send for.” Deno followed along, and for the next two days was handed about from the cook to the blacksmith to the armour to the kennel master. He found the pages did not speak to him much, the other servants spoke briefly, giving nothing way. He was the outsider, he could tell everyone that worked in the keep was either born here or related to someone else.

Around mid-afternoon on his second day one of the pages told him that Treil wanted him in his chamber.

“Well Deno, you look smarter clean!” Said the old man as he opened the door. “Come in. Lord Strivrut has a task for us.” Deno entered and saw who he took to be the lord sat, relaxed, legs crossed and arms folded, looking to be asleep. Treil turned to the figure in the chair; “My Lord, our new scribe is working out well, his letters are well formed and he is quick with the quill.”

Lord Strivrut stood, “Can you ride Deno? We have to travel, I need to take a scribe with me.”

“Yes My Lord. Not well but I can stay on a horse.” Deno mumbled with his head down.

“Treil, make sure he has supplies, we leave at first light.” and the Lord marched out of the room.

The next morning Deno was awake early and made sure to carefully check the ink block and quills that Chamberlin Treil had given him, then he slowly unwrapped and stared at the fortune in parchment he had also been given. He carefully rewrapped it and stowed it in his pack. Stepping lightly he made his way to the courtyard where everyone was gathering before leaving. He was given a horse by one of the stable hands and stood waiting for a signal to do anything.

“Scribe! Good to see you!” Lord Strivrut strode over, “Got all your supplies from Treil? Good!” He didn’t wait for a reply before talking on, “We have a short ride today, only about ten leagues and we will be at the fort of Lord Lamogue, he’s getting on a bit but he mentored me when I was younger. We will be going to council and will require your services as soon as we arrive there.”

“Yes My Lord.” said Deno as Lord Strivrut walked away and spoke to one of the guards.

It was a small party that left Crogent, along with Lord Strivrut and Deno were five guards, a stable hand and a single page, they went at a brisk trot and covered the miles quickly. The roads were good and clear either side for at least ten meters. Deno asked the stable hand who rode beside him why that was.

“There was bandits, and our Lord took action when he inherited, oh ten years ago when his father passed, the Lords mother was killed by bandits a week after see, and he took it badly. He had the roads cleared and then went and destroyed a lot of the little bandit holes and the like. The local merchants like that as it makes their journeys easier, quicker and safer so they don’t mind the taxes to pay for it.” The hand returned his attention to his horse. Deno rode in silence for the rest of the journey. Other than his brief introduction he had spent no time with the Lord and did not know what to make of him, he looked to get on with his men well, Deno just assumed with him being new it would take some time before he gained the Lords favour.

The arrived at the fort of Lord Lamogue an hour past noon and Deno followed Lord Strivrut as he was welcomed into the keep.

“This is my new scribe.” Lord Strivrut was saying as Deno caught up with them at a nondescript door. “He seems solid and reliable, honest about his background when asked.”

“My Lords” Deno managed to mumble out as he followed them through the door. He made himself comfortable out of the way, he had a slate and chalk with him to make notes before committing to parchment.

“What’s so urgent Lamogue?” asked Strivrut, “Your messenger didn’t give me any details.”

“It looks like Palaidh is making noises. He’s hired an army from the southern guilds – my spies say close the twenty thousand men.” Strivrut nodded at this information, Deno was gobsmacked – he didn’t know you could get an army that large. Lamogue continued, “We are not sure his target yet, but we are sure to be on his list somewhere. I have more spies heading there now, I’m investing my best men on infiltrating his command structure. It’s a long way from Durent to Brichreake and I’m hoping the odd waylaid messenger will come to our aid. I need you to go back into the world Strivrut. We need to know what he’s upto, even if it does not involve us directly, anything that man does is our responsibility.”

“I will head to Brichreake, if he is hiring that’s where I need to start, if I go anywhere near Durent he’ll know we are taking an interest. I’ll take a couple of men with me, it’s time I paid a visit to Briackle, it has been a few years since we last spoke. He may even still owe me a favour or three.