Looking Back At 2017

This last year has been a tough one. As a family we’ve had a lot of crap thrown our way this year. We’ve lost loved ones, and had issues of health pepper us amongst other difficulties life has a habit of throwing in our paths.

It has been a hard year, it’s not been harder than anyone else’s year. It’s been what it is. We’ve taken each day as it comes and in my opinion that is the best way to take life at times.

These things I won’t go into detail on. They are things that affect my family as well as myself and I don’t think it’s my place to talk in-depth about these events on my public blog.

One moment this year that hit me harder than I thought something of its nature could was the death of Linkin Park’s Chester Bennington. Although now I am really out of date with most music, I was a huge fan of Linkin Park when they first hit the scene. Their first two albums are two of my favourite albums ever, I didn’t even listen to that type of music until they came along. It’s music that speaks to me, but I didn’t realise how important it is to me until Bennington’s death this year. I mourned his death in a way that I haven’t for other public figures. I read a lot of Tom Clancy when I was in my late teens. I was a huge fan of Alan Rickman as well, and although it saddened me when they died it wasn’t like when Chester Bennington died. I immediately binge listened to the Linkin Park albums I had, and blitz their YouTube channel. It was only a month or so ago that I’ve stopped getting a lump in my throat when I hear his vocals. I realised a few weeks after his death that I felt like this because it was the first death of one of my icons. Someone who not only did I look up to and admire, but someone who spoke to me. I didn’t know the death of someone I didn’t know would hit me as hard as Chester Bennington’s death did.

I’ve had highs and lows with writing this year. A few projects I put a lot of time into have crashed and burned pretty badly. In particular I was quite demoralised by a zombie story I thought was going to be something good but it just didn’t pan out how I was expecting it too and it kind of gave me a bit of a confidence hit. I had done a lot of outlining for it, characters had been thought out and developed, but it just didn’t go right. I tried to rewrite it for NaNo, and it’s not bad. I’m happier with it now than I was initially but it’s not how I was expecting it to go. I think I can roll with how it’s changing, I just need to do some re-thinking on it.

Something I have learned is that it doesn’t matter whether I write with a pen and paper or straight into a word processor the words are the same. I wrote a first draft of a story I’ve got a lot of hope for by hand but was writing something else at the same time digitally and realised quickly that it didn’t matter how I wrote something, if I was in the mood to write it all came out the same. With this story in particular I’ve got to change a lot for the second draft. Like the zombie story I mentioned it came out different to how I envisioned it. The biggest problem is I’ve written it from only one point of view, and to tell the story I want to I need to do it from multiple POVs. I don’t think it’ll be difficult, but I want to let it sit for another month or two before I return to it. I’d like to get some more planning done for it as well.

The work with Owen is a little up in the air at the moment but I’m expecting to find out what’s happening early in the new year.

The highest points of this year for me have been getting two stories published. Both through charity anthologies from Burdizzo Books. The first one, The Final Charge was in Sparks: An Electric Anthology in October. The second was my take on The Three French Hens in this years 12 Days of Christmas 2017 Anthology. I am incredibly proud of both of these stories. They were a lot of fun to write and knowing the proceeds from both books go to good causes makes it feel even better than it does. The folks at Burdizzo Books are fantastic people as well, along with the group of writers they have around them.

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It’s great to finally have my writing in print and has really fired me up and shown me that it’s not impossible. There is nothing stopping me except myself.

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The last item I really want to talk about are a few of the people I’ve met this year. I attended a book launch for Sparks up in Walsall and met the head honcho and editor Matthew Cash as well as a couple of the other contributors. We later had another launch in my home town as Burdizzo Books’ other editor, Em Dehaney, is from Gravesend as well. Both launch parties were fantastic, I did a reading at both, although with the Gravesend one I was hit with a severe cold a few hours before and was incredibly unwell. I thought I was going to pass out during my reading, but it was still an amazing experience.

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Myself with Pippa Bailey, Matthew Cash, and David Court.

I also went to a few cons this year. Unfortunately DemonCon down in Maidstone has now come to an end. I was pleased to be at the last one in February, but will miss it. It’s the con were I first me Dan Abnett and his wife Nik, who are lovely people. I went to Birmingham Horror Con around that time as well, that was incredibly fun and I got to see my friends Cat and Lynx Raven again as well as Dave from From The Shadows. I also went to EGX with my buddy Stefan from Stefan’s Daily Gaming. Although I’m not a huge gamer this was a lot of fun as well. It was good seeing some great games and a lot of people who were in their element. Bristol Horror Con was my favourite of the year though. Not only did I see CL Raven and Dave (From The Shadows) again but I also went to a couple of panels. I spent a little time talking to Adam Millard and his wife in the VIP room. Seriously lovely people who were very encouraging of my own work and just fun to talk to. I also got the chance to speak to Tim Lebbon as well. Again, another awesome and encouraging person. I just hope the more of these I go to the more at ease I get speaking to all these fantastic people.

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With Lynx and Cat Raven at Bristol Horror Con

The horror community is really welcoming and seems to have a lot of heart to it. It’s definitely a place I feel at home it.

One night in particular that was both fun and tiring was an all-night ghosts hunt I went on with Boleyn Paranormal down at a True Crime Museum in Hastings. It was a lot of fun, very interesting and I met more awesome people, but I’m not doing another all-nighter. I was shattered for a few days after that. Cat and Lynx Raven were there as well, and they popped back to my home to meet my animal army before they returned to Cardiff. En Route to my house we stopped at the site of the Battle of Hastings. Although not far from my home I can’t recall ever going there and it was quite a surreal experience that I’m glad we took the time to do.

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Lynx and Cat saying hello to two of our hens

A massive highlight of the year for me was meeting Scott Sigler and AB Kovacs. I’ve been a fan of Sigler’s work for a decade now and when he announced he was coming to Europe, including the UK, it would have taken the zombie apocalypse to have stopped me from getting there. It was a great evening in a pub in London just hanging out with Scott, A and other fans of Sigler’s work (AKA the Junkies). It was good chatting to them both and seeing the love they have for the fans of the work. Both Scott and A have a lot of charisma and energy and clearly love what they do, and it was one of the highlights of the year.

2017 has had a lot of downs, but its had a lot of ups as well. That’s what I’m focusing on, I’m not ignoring the low points, just choosing to look at the positives. Most importantly I appreciate those important people I have in my life. My friends and family mean the world to me and I’m very grateful having them all.

Roll on 2018…

 

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Good Afternoon, Sunday

Well, this last week hasn’t been fun. I’ve got a (tiny) kidney stone, and that’s decided to have given me a huge amount of pain and discomfort this week.

I did go to DemonCon(pictures beneath) last Sunday, and enjoyed myself but I was in a fair bit of pain and that did take the sheen off of the day. I was chuffed with myself that I got over some of my shyness and was able to ask cosplayers if I could take their pictures. All said yes. I really do love Cosplayers. They’ve got so much passion and skill for what they do and it’s great to see. I had some good conversations with a few of the people there as well, which is always good for the soul.

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This week has been tough. I’ve been working through my days at work and getting home and all but collapsing. It wasn’t until Friday that I started to feel back to my normal self, and today is the first day where I haven’t had any pain at all. (yeah, I’ve probably just jinxed myself there).

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Writing this week really hasn’t happened. I’ve made a few notes and some outlining details, and have had some good thoughts during the course of the week. I was planning to do some work last night but I was wiped out so I put my feet up, chilled out a little, and aside from writing a blog post I didn’t really do much.

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Today I have smashed out the red-pen notes of The Space Watch and gotten it sent off to Owen. I’m looking forward to seeing his thoughts and notes on it when he’s read through it.

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I’m off out for a family meal shortly, so I won’t be doing any more writing stuff tonight. Now that I’ve got The Space Watch off to Owen I’m going to get the final Beta Notes done on my vampire collection.

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Good Morning, Sunday

This week has felt quite odd. We had my Grandad’s funeral on Friday and although that went well (as well as any funeral can) its felt like a week where I’ve been out of sync. I’ve also not been especially well again also, which hasn’t helped.

On Monday I started making my red-pen changes to The Space watch, although most of the night was spent arranging the layout in Scrivener so I’ve got each chapter broken down into its various scenes. Tuesday night, after getting home from seeing The Lego Batman Movie (which is awesome!) I cracked on with a little planning on a zombie story I’ve had brewing for quite a few years. It’s struck me that when I’d thought that I’d not be able to build a story strong enough to write with this idea it was because I need to put more thought into it. This goes back to what I was saying the other day about making sure I get an outline done instead of just steaming into it, which I have tried in the past with this idea. I’ve got an idea, and I’m using a couple of movies as a sort of inspiration/format for the tone I want to aim for. I’ve done a little more planning for that, and have come up with an idea for one of the characters that I like a lot, so I need to see if I can make it work.

That’s what I’m going to be working on outlining wise for the next few days. I’d like to think I’ll be done with it by the end of this next week, but I’ve not done much outlining so I’m not sure what the timescale will be. That is my secondary project, my primary one is going to be getting The Space Watch sorted out. Now I’ve done all the logistics of switching it from Pages to Scrivener I don’t think it’ll take me too long to get it sorted out. Being me I’m planning on getting stuck in today when I get home from DemonCon (more on that in a bit), and I’m assuming that I’ll be able to smash out the rest of this edit pass by the end of the day. It’s probably about 25,000 words, which is doable, but I’m not going to bust my gut to get it done. If I rush it, I’ll start missing details and making mistakes.

I’ve had to stop working on my fanfic piece, simply because I was working on it during my lunch breaks but I’ve got to a bit where I’m going to need some time to sort this next section out properly. To do that I’m going to need more than a lunch break to do it. So what I’m going to do is get The Space Watch edited, then get through some Beta notes on my vampire collection, and then get stuck into it. Then I will be up to date with some work that I should have had done for quite some time, and then I’ll get this read through of the fanfic piece done and see where I need to go with it.

Just a quick word on DemonCon; this will be my third one, and I’m really looking forward to it. I am still feeling a little unwell, so thats dampened my enthusiasm a little, but I’m still pumped. I’m going to make more of an effort to ask people if I can take their pictures, there’s going to be loads of cosplayers there, and I’m going to make more of an effort to have a chat with them as well. I need to get over this shyness of mine and I think events like DemonCon, Birmingham Horror Con, and Bristol Horror Con are great places for meeting people and getting talking to them. There is such a  great, warm atmosphere at these three different cons that I’ve been to, and the people who go to them are all into what I am. So hopefully the more of them I go to the less shy I’ll be.

Speaking of DemonCon, I’d better go and get ready.

Have a great Sunday, everyone!

The Monster Hunter by Kit Cox

The Monster Hunter is the story of Benjamin Gaul, who shortly after his mother is killed by a mysterious creature in his home of Ceylon has to travel to Victorian England, the birthplace of a father he’s never known. So as a boy barely in his teens at the start of the story he has to travel around the globe whilst dealing with the death of his mother and the prospect of an unknown future. When he arrives in England life doesn’t much easier as he travels to an orphanage in Kent where he is to live until he is older.

I wasn’t really sure what to expect from The Monster Hunter. I met the author, Kit Cox, at DemonCon in February and I only had his description of it to go on, and seeing as a few months had passed before I got around to reading this I’d all but forgotten what Mr Cox had said of the story. So as I began to read it I found I was delving into a world that I had no knowledge of and it was a lot of fun discovering it as I went through the story.

Benjamin Gaul is quite an innocent protagonist in a lot of ways who has to adapt to the world around him and the mysteries of this world he’s living in that is opened up by his mothers death.

The book does move along at a good pace, I especially found the chapter lengths really appealing. It felt like they were just about the right length for my personal reading pace and reading a chapter at a time was incredibly easy.

The story as a whole was engaging and I liked how some of the details about the monsters were revealed and how Benjamin comes across them. The details that Benjamin discovers is very nicely done and quite thorough but without it sounding like a textbook. It wasn’t too heavily thrown into my face and kind of drip fed as Benjamin is trying to find his place in the world.

The story is more about Benjamin though, and this new world he is in and the difficulties he’s having just dealing with other human beings. That’s something that the author does well; showing how Benjamin is adjusting to his new life and I felt for the lad at times.

Overall The Monster Hunter is a fun book that I found engaging and enjoyable to read.

As I said, I met Kit Cox at DemonCon down in Maidstone, in February and he comes across as a genuinely nice fella and was quite engaging.

 

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What I’m Reading: 4/3/16

Last night I finished reading The Man In The High Castle by Phillip K. Dick. Overall I liked it a lot; the plot was very subtly woven into the lives of the characters. The universe building was done much the same way; everything that Dick needed to get across to the reader was done through the characters.

There’s obviously a lot more to the story than I’ve written so far, but its a story where I think I’m going to be thinking it over for a while. There’s so much going on in it that I don’t think I’ve quite got a handle on yet. I’m thinking about getting it as an audiobook so I can go through it again.

Speaking of audiobooks I’ve just started listening to The Dark Tower, the final book of The Dark Tower series by Stephen King. I’m really eager to see how King finishes this series. I’ve got a few ideas of how it is going to end; but seeing that it’s a book by Stephen King, and it’s his Dark Tower series then anything is game.

I’ve not got stuck into Deadpool and Cable just yet, but I’m going to try and get into this coming week.

I’ve now got the hard decision of choosing what book to read next. I’m prioritising the books that I got at DemonCon a few weeks ago, but I’m not sure what I’ll go for first. If I’m honest It’ll probably be one of the Dan Abnett ones, but I haven’t decided yet.

 

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