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 Although now I am really out of date with most music, I was a huge fan of Linkin Park when they first hit the scene.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 inĀ 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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God Morning, Saturday 5th of August 2017

1217 words this morning and this draft of the fan fiction piece is done! But I’m not happy with it. It feels like I’ve half-arsed to much of it and I’m still going to have to do a lot more work till I’m happy enough with it to send it off to Beta readers. I am going to take somewhat of a break from it. I’ve heard it’s a good idea to put something aside for a while and then look at it with fresh eyes later on.

I’ve felt like I’ve been in a slump this week, and probably for the last couple of weeks. My productivity level has dropped and I’m moving to stop it dropping any further. I’ve started writing a story I’ve been outlining for a while but it’s something I’m going to be working on during lunch breaks until I’ve got my zombie story 2nd draft done. I’m also writing this new story by hand. I want to slow my writing pace up a little because it feels like I’m rushing what I’m writing when I’m doing it on a computer. If I get more then four hundred words a day done on it I’ll be very surprised. In the evenings I’m going to try and get the zombie story sorted and working on the new piece is the secondary priority till the zombie piece is done.

A slight change to what I normally talk about in these posts, but I’m still struggling with the loss of Chester Bennington. I didn’t know him, but his music is such an important part of my life that I just hadn’t realised. I’ve been up since about 5am this morning, and writing since 5:30 and I was listening to Linkin Park. I tired listening to another band but I couldn’t help but switch to Linkin Park. Aside from a couple of times since Chester’s death I’ve not been able to listen to anything music wise except Linkin Park. My eyes welled up more than once, this morning. I don’t think this is changing for a while. 

I’ve got to get ready for work now, have a great day and weekend everyone. I’m planning on  another post tomorrow but no promises.

If you’ve got a dream you’ve always wanted to pursue, start today.

Rest In Peace Chester Bennington

I think if I hadn’t of been sitting when the news first broke that Chester Bennington had died I think I would have had to sit down. I always think of myself as someone who isn’t musical. It’s always just been something that I never thought I got, and I didn’t realise till the last few days how wrong I have been on this. It’s all thanks to Linkin Park, in particular their song, In The End.

I’d been listening to Meat Loaf, Alice Cooper, and Bon Jovi mainly. I went through a period of listening to Eminem and Dr.Dre but I never really understood where Eminem and Dre were coming from. With the rock stuff I kind of thought I got it. Bon Jovi’s album, Crush, had somewhat of an effect on me, particularly the song, It’s My Life, but I still didn’t get what people meant by music having an emotional effect on them, then I heard In The End and that was it. I’m a sucker for powerful vocals, and Chester Bennington had an amazing voice. When you combine that with the lyrics to In The End it got me, it embedded itself into my DNA. I flicked through the music channels hoping to catch more of In The End and other music by this band. I remember the day I brought the album and popping it into my portable CD player and listening to it. I hadn’t looked at the CD jacket to see where In The End was listed so I hoped each song was that one that had hooked me but also being blown away by how each song spoke to me, making me realise things about myself that I hadn’t ever thought about.

Hybrid Theory was unlike anything I’d ever heard before. Then Meteora came out, and they did it again! those first two albums opened my sheltered mind up to a world I never knew existed.

I’d heard people saying that songs spoke to them, that music expressed their emotions but I’d never felt that, until Hybrid Theory and Meteroa. These two albums felt like they were written for me, and for me alone. What the songs were about was how I felt and I didn’t really understand that others felt that way as well.

Around the time when Minutes to Midnight came out I was drifting out of music for reasons I can’t remember or even know to be honest. It’s taken Chester Bennington dying to make me realise how importing Linkin Park have been to me, I wished i’d realised it without his loss.

A lot of loved and influential people have died over the last couple of years. People I had a lot of respect for, a lot of affection, but Chester was an Icon for me. His voice is that of a whole generation of people, and that has been reflected in the love I’ve seen for him over the last few days. I’ve been listening to Linkin Park every time I’ve sat at a computer to write since the news broke. I’ve loaded my cars CD changer with Linkin Park. I can’t listen to In The End without choking up a little. I don’t know If I’ve mentioned in blog posts about how out of date with music that I am, but Chester’s death has come at a time when I’m rediscovering my taste for music. I’ve been listening to a lot of Lacuna Coil, Lesbian Bed Death, and In This Moment. I’ve started buying music again, and it’s been in the back of my mind that I’d needed to go back to Linkin Park and listen to their albums in my collection again and start buying the ones I haven’t got. I’d drifted away from them a little when I drifted from music. I’m going to correct that and get their albums I haven’t got. If it wasn’t for Linkin Park I wouldn’t listen to three quarters of the music that I do.

There are five other members of Linkin Park, and I don’t want to take away from them how important they are as well. It always felt like Linkin Park are a band where everything came together and it’s just worked. I am out of date, and I don’t tend to follow gossip pages etc. but as far as I know there’s not been a lineup change since Hybrid Theory came out, or massive problems within the band. If there has been they’ve done well keeping it in house. Chester’s voice though, that brought the words that I, and millions of people across the world, understood. Those five men, Mike Shinoda, Joe Hahn, Rob Bourdon, Brad Delson, and Dave ‘Phoenix’ Farrell have lost a brother. My thoughts go out to them, and Chester’s family and friends. I can’t imagine what they are going through at the moment but I hope all the messages of love and support they must be receiving can help them, even if it just a little.

We don’t know what people are going through behind the closed doors of their mind. If someone is reading this post and struggling with life, please talk to someone. Find the helplines in your country, speak to a doctor, talk to friends, family. Write it all in a blog post if you want, but talk. It’s amazing how much just talking can help.

I’m going to end this post by saying thank you, Chester. Linkin Park are one of the biggest influences in my life, and you were such a huge part of that.

Rest In Peace Chester Charles Bennington (March 20th, 1976 – July 20th, 2017).