Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Year in Review: 2018

This year hasn't been a particularly good year for me, for various reasons. At the beginning of February I had to have surgery for a vaginal prolapse, and although this is a fairly minor operation, the recovery time took far longer than I was anticipating. It was two months, really, before I felt fully recovered and I had underestimated how much the recovery process would take out of me.

Then, in June, I was hit by a bombshell when I found out I was to lose my job. Having been with the same organisation for nearly 13 years, the prospect of having to go back out into the job market was daunting, to say the least.

The worst part of it all is that since that day in June, when I was faced with this news I haven't written a single word. Not one.

Initially, all my energy was going into getting my CV up to date and applying for jobs, a process I hadn't had to do for so long I had forgotten how time consuming it can be. Fortunately I found another job fairly quickly, but after having been so long in one organisation, having to be the 'new girl' again and learn everything from the ground up was quite exhausting. And then by the time I'd settled into the new job and felt comfortable in it, I had just been too long away from the writing routine to get back into it.

Hence, my resolution from last year of completing another novel by the end of 2018 remains depressingly unfulfilled.

So all in all, I will be glad to see the back of 2018. 2019 is a New Year, and I am in a new job, but it's an uncertain time in British politics and I am also acutely aware of the fact that nobody's job is guaranteed in this day and age.

The wider picture is too overwhelming, so I am starting the new year with a few personal goals to focus on.
  1. Get back into a healthy diet and exercise routine. I always say this every year, but I am currently facing the depressing fact that I can't fit into half my wardrobe these days. I have already made a start on the exercise routine, because I've just commenced sessions with a personal trainer. But I need to stick with it, and I need to be more disciplined with the eating regime. More fruit and veg, less chocolate. Realistically this is not going to start until all the Christmas chocolate is gone.
  2. Make more time for friends. Social media makes it easier to stay in touch with people we don't see very often, but it doesn't match face to face contact with friends. There are people in my life I consider good friends, and I haven't seen nearly enough of them this year (in some cases, not at all). That has to change next year.
  3. And finally, and most importantly, I need to get back into the writing routine. Back to the early-morning writing sessions in a coffee shop before work. Back to regularly scheduled writing time. I am not going to set a goal of finishing a particular manuscript this year, because at the moment that seems too overwhelming. I just need to get back to writing.
So these are the resolutions I am making as we head into 2019.

Happy New Year to all. What are your goals for the forthcoming year?

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

What I'm Doing At FantasyCon 2018

This year, FantasyCon is heading up North to Chester, a town I remember visiting as a child - mostly because there was a nice zoo there. That was over 40 years ago, and no doubt it's changed a lot since then.

However, this weekend I go back there again for my annual fix of all things horror, SF and fantasy. It seems I've got a rather busy programme this year, and all the cool kids are posting their FantasyCon activities, so here are mine.


9:30pm - 'Occult and Supernatural Adventures' panel in the Edward Room. Pete Sutton moderating. My fellow panelists are Mike Chinn, Sue Tingey and Georgina Bruce.


2:00pm - I am doing a reading in the Disraeli room, with Ray Cluley and Rosanne Rabinowitz.

3:30pm - 'Writers and Roleplaying Games' panel in the Edward Room. Alasdair Stuart moderating. Fellow panellists are Danie Ware, Allen Stroud and Gavin Smith.

I will also have copies of both 'The Whispering Death' and 'Outpost H311' for sale on the BFS table in the dealer room, and will likely be hanging around in the bar for at least part of the time. And I might make an appearance at the karaoke on the Saturday night. I never could resist a good sing.

So, looking forwarding to catching up with friends old and new in Chester this weekend. Don't be afraid to come say hello if you see me. Don't listen to the gossip - I am quite harmless really , and I'll be wearing a prominently displayed name badge so you can identify me.

Now all I have to do is figure out what I'm going to be reading. And get past the customary dilemma of what to pack for a Con...

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Baby Steps

Film Festival Laurels

Once again, I'm excited to announce "Metronome" is a finalist at another film festival. Imaginarium is a multi-genre writers' convention and film festival that will celebrate its fifth anniversary this year. I'm scheduled to be on four panels: Screenwriting 101, Felines in Fiction, Paranormal Literature, and Self Publishing Overview. I'm also hoping to preview my latest paranormal suspense novel, although that depends on my publisher and editor. (Cover reveal will be coming soon.)

Other than that, I hadn't been doing any writing lately, aside from revising the novel. I suspect depression, a condition that I deal with occasionally. Anyway, to get back to writing, I decided to take small steps. I started with 10 minutes, then a few hours later, wrote another 10 minutes. I'm currently working on a short story, although it may be a novella. Also need to do more research for a couple more novel ideas. I'm also taking drawing lessons as another way of expressing myself. I actually wanted to be an artist before I wanted to be a writer. Maybe at some point, I'll be brave enough to post my drawings online. Maybe. :-)

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Monthly Round-up: August 2018

The last round-up was three months ago, and quite a lot has been going on in my life since then. I got made redundant from the day job in July, but fortunately managed to find a new job after just a few weeks of intense job-hunting. But now I am in the position of being the new girl, which feels strange after nearly 13 years in the same organisation, and it is quite intensive.

Hence, with all this real-life stuff to deal with, not a lot of writing has been happening.


I may as well take the opportunity to promote OUTPOST H311, which is doing reasonably well sales-wise at the moment. If you like Nazi zombies, this is a book for you. Tell your friends. There aren't enough Nazi zombie books in the world, and this one attempts to address that.


Three online interviews with me have gone up since last time, and links are included below:

21 June - Cedar Hollow
20 August - Ginger Nuts of HorrorGinger Nuts of Horror
23 August - Kendall Reviews


As already mentioned, not much writing going on. There will be a sequel to OUTPOST H311. That's all I can really say at this stage.

And that's about it for news this time. I hope to see you again next month.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Fragments of a Writer's Life

So these past few months I haven't gotten much writing done. Mainly because I have novels finished that need revision, and I have a novel to revise and resubmit. One of my novels is supposed to have a September release date, but nothing's finalized.

That said, I also have a cozy mystery, a thriller, and a screenplay to plot. I've got notes on plots and characters; it's just a matter of piecing them together into a cohesive narrative. I'd taken a mini course on writing the cozy mystery and another on writing thrillers recently, which led to some plot ideas.

I've been focusing on marketing, too, more than I had in the past. I took courses on Facebook Ads and Amazon ads, plus a webinar on marketing. Hope to put what I've learned into action in the next couple of months. Then there's getting ready for the upcoming Indie Gathering International Film Festival and Imaginarium. Hoping to add more cons in 2019 or 2020.

Speaking of IG, I'm excited to announce two of my screenplays won third place in their respective categories: horror short script and crime drama feature length script. The short horror script also made it to the first round at the Action on Film Festival. Next year, I'm hoping to submit a short documentary. That said, awards aren't won without continually striving to improve one's writing skills and knowledge. But that's another post.

Action on Film Screenplay Laurel
Indie Gathering Screenplay Laurel

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Requiem for the "Plain Brown Rapper" (Cross-posted)

The Law and Martial Arts by Carl Brown
This past month, friend and fellow author Carl Brown passed away. Although we’d lost touch over the years, he’s someone I’ll always remember, and I wanted to share these memories.
I first met Carl shortly after moving to Louisville, Kentucky from Wisconsin. A then-mutual friend asked if I wanted to go to a party Carl was hosting. I said why not, and we went to a house in the Highlands I would later learn Carl called Sanctuary. I don’t remember if I was nervous about attending a party where I didn’t know anyone, but Carl made me feel welcome.
For Carl, Sanctuary was more than a name. He was bipolar and open about his diagnosis. His living room/office walls were covered with charts depicting his mood swings. Depression seemed the most prevalent, and he would take to bed, spending the time sleeping and reading.
He didn’t let that stop him from seeing I suffered from depression and urging me to get help. I’m much better, and while I probably resented him initially, I see where he was coming from and am grateful he cared.
Carl had two loves: judo and chess. A judo instructor, he achieved the title Shihan (Master Instructor). He was also a master at chess. I think we came to a draw one time in the few times I played the game with him.
He obtained a law degree from Vanderbilt University and was a Jefferson County Commissioner.  Carl used his experience as a lawyer and martial artist to pen articles in Black Belt Magazine and write The Law and Martial Arts. His fiction included Bethlehem Baby and Blackstone: The Antichrist (which included Bethlehem Baby), both religious fantasies. While not a church-going Christian when I first met him, Carl would eventually find his way to Highland Baptist Church in the Highlands. Before then, his Sundays were filled listening to the soundtrack for Jesus Christ, Superstar. I wonder if he saw the John Legend version this past Easter Sunday.
He also wrote a column as “The Plain Brown Rapper” for LEO Weekly, Louisville’s alternative newspaper, and hosted The Plain Brown Rapper interview show on then-cable station TKR’s public access channel. About ten years later, Carl was back on local TV, this time with Carl Brown’s Reality, a show we worked on together.  It aired on then TV station WYCS. He interviewed local politicians, artists, advocates, among other members of the Louisville community, and I videotaped and edited each episode. We even worked on a short film, “The Art Thief,” that would later be compiled on a DVD of short films included in the book $30.00 Film School (2nd edition) by independent filmmaker Michael Dean.
Carl Brown in "The Art Thief"
Carl’s friendship has meant a lot to me over the years. He was even instrumental in my meeting my husband, James. Carl was a witness, along with James’s son, at our wedding at the Hall of Justice. (We were married in a judge’s chambers.)
I can’t speak for other people’s experiences, but for me, Carl Brown was one of the nicest, most helpful people I’ve ever met. His loss is a tragic one. Requiescat in Pace.