Category Archives: Friends
Well, I do like to keep myself busy …
It’s been quite a year, even by my reckoning: I’ve moved house, got engaged, changed jobs, fixed a fence, changed a roof, written a few thousand words, got a PS4, made L40 on Destiny and – to top it all – got married.
What I sadly haven’t done is blog, market, comment on friends sites (though I am still keeping an eye on you all!) or get quite as much of G’host written as I’d have liked. Hopefully that will change in 2016 as my activities this year have actually simplified an otherwise very complex lifestyle.
G’host is coming along nicely, and the extra thinking time is helping to hone characters, develop plot lines and tune technical connections. But writing full length novels is a mammoth task and, to stay true to my three main principles for writing, I need to make sure I’m enjoying what I do, when I’m doing it. There’s no point otherwise.
As I love writing, there’s no doubt that G’host will creep closer to completion next year … the only risk is if the PS4 takes over!
Merry Christmas everyone …
… Almost permanently wet.
It feels like only yesterday that I sat and drafted last year’s resume and here I am again: doing my annual audit and checking off what’s happened. It’s kind of scary how quickly this comes around – time flies past us at an alarming pace, doesn’t it?
So anyway, 2012 was a year of quite significant contrasts for me. Almost a “game of two halves”, if you’ll allow me to disabuse a soccer analogy…
For much of the year I was, effectively, unemployed. This is never a great place to be but I didn’t give up on finding gainful employment (of the type that pays well enough to cover the bills) and was lucky enough to land a new role this Autumn. That, on its own, would probably be achievement enough for one year but I have a few more:
- Garden fences painted (despite the perpetual rain)
- Garage woodwork stripped and painted (despite the perpetual rain)
- Loft boarded (because there’s only so much rain you can take…)
- Bedroom decorated (will it ever stop raining?)
- Olympic flame watched (in a brief gap in the deluge – lucky me!)
- Olympics cheered (along with 55 million other damp Brits)…
And, probably most importantly:
- Thunder written (12 hours a day until May, then left alone for three months, then edited alongside starting my new job – i.e. over a month of far too many hours a day)…
With Thunder, I’d set myself a personal goal to see if I could improve on some of Firebird’s flaws: I think I have. I’d also set myself a goal to publish in Autumn: I only just made it. So why push so hard? Why not just kick back, or give up, or not bother to set stretching goals?
Well, regular visitors will know that my year also included the unexpected and sudden loss of a friend. A friend from whom I’d drifted apart, but was on the verge of meeting up with. A meeting that circumstance kept delaying until, one day, he just didn’t come home from his holidays…
It’s shocking when something like this happens. Especially when death comes prematurely to someone only a handful of years older than me. But it serves to remind us that life is a short and fleeting gift. Time travels past us too quickly. The rain may never stop…
We have a choice as to what we do with the life we’re given: use it, or lose it. And I’m determined to try my best to grab every second I’m lucky enough to be gifted, and to wring the most I can out of every single one…
Here’s to 2013: another cycle, another raft of seconds, another chance to do crazy things, to laugh, to cry, to make merry, or hay, or just to have fun…
Happy New Year Everyone!
… are put on this Earth to shine light into dark corners, to evoke smiles on grim faces, to live for the extraordinary, to remain optimistic when all around them see only doom and gloom…
Unfortunately, I’m very sad to say that I’ve just heard that one of these people has been cruelly snatched away from us. One of my friends.
Can I say that we lived in each other’s pockets…? No.
Can I claim that I was someone he’d pick to turn to in an emergency…? No.
Did we drift in and out of touch with each other as life’s buffeting journey pushed us around on our own separate courses…? Yes.
Which makes it all the more telling that news of his untimely death has saddened me so much.
Some people are naturally – and entirely – nice to know. Some people can have a heart of steel that they only ever reveal and use for good purposes. Some people are the kind that you can meet up with once in a blue moon and feel like you only saw yesterday.
These kinds of people are a benchmark for me. They live their lives well. Of course, there are times when things get tough and perhaps the occasional crack shows through… No-one is perfect, after all… Everyone has an off day.
Looking back, I don’t remember my friend having many of those and I wish I could say the same about me. I will remember him as having lived a life that was, and still is, worth aspiring to and I will miss him not being there, continuing to set his high standards just by being around…
New Year’s Eve approaches and, for me, it’ll likely be a quiet evening at home, with a few glasses of bubbly and the television for company. I’m not too bothered about this, I like New Year for a different reason.
The parties, merrymaking and singsongs are echoes of ancient celebrations of renewal. A fresh starting point. A chance to say, “Out with the old and in with the new.” Many people will make personal resolutions as a means to stimulate change – but not me, I don’t like resolutions. Don’t get me wrong: setting demanding but achievable personal targets is a fantastic way of driving self-improvement but why limit their use to once per annum? Why run the risk of starting the year with failure? Nope, I’ll set myself resolutions whenever I need them. New Year might be a good place to start but I’ll not be constrained to it.
So what is it that I love about New Year? Well, I like to use this holiday to stop for a second or two and look backwards. To reflect on what’s changed or been done in the last twelve months…
We spend so much of our lives gazing, often worriedly, into a future full of undiscovered fears, concerns, ambitions and desires that we rarely pause and acknowledge what we’ve actually achieved. Big or small, our successes provide us with a platform for the next twelve months of endeavour. Can feed us with new energy and motivation. Will undoubtably, when we take a moment to consider them, be a positive and pleasant surprise for us.
For me, a look back at 2011 includes some amazing highlights:
- Leading hundreds of guys to deliver their best ever winter delivery performance, during the worst winter for a hundred years, to some of the UK’s biggest companies.
- Then, less than six months later, getting made redundant from that same role and finding myself having to push off in a new direction – an experience which always really tests self-esteem and courage.
- Yet, amongst this, I was also lucky enough to get to visit (and escape from) several countries including the USA (Aspen), Finland (for Midsummer), Greece (Lesbos) and Yorkshire (twice)…
- My revised work schedules meant I was suddenly gifted with more time at home that I have enjoyed for over a decade. I’ve therefore been able to play host to my daughters on several occasions and have singularly failed to poison them with my cooking (so far). This is a small, yet priceless, luxury for a live-away dad.
- This was, of course, also the year during which I completed the final edit (of many final edits) of Firebird and then learned the ultimate patience-stretching art of e-book formatting and publication.
- It was the year in which I met many new, interesting and exciting friends amongst the Indie writer community.
- It was the year in which I started a blog site – this site – which has incredibly had over 1,500 visits.
- Was the year that Firebird managed to creep into, and then keep itself in, both the UK and US Amazon Technothriller Top 100’s.
What a year…
My imagination is insanely active but I’d never have dreamed of setting resolutions that looked like any of the above.
So, goodness only knows what 2012 might look like…
I wonder what fantastic things it will bring for you, too?
A writer friend of mine (The Mistress of the Dark Path) is running a Halloween themed short story competition on her blog site.
Normally I don’t get involved in this kind of thing but, as I was laid up with my bad back at the weekend (now thankfully getting better!), I thought to myself, ‘Why not?’
A couple of random hours later I’d knocked up the requisite thousand words, managed to weave in a bit of a fun (a potentially dangerous habit of mine as this time it involves the Mistress herself (thankfully she has a great sense of humour)) and satisfactorily de-spooked myself for another year. It’s not perfect (by any standard) but it was an amusing interlude to my normal writing.
She’s had quite a few entries and one of the rules is that I can’t post the story here until after the closing date so, if you’re interested in having a look before the big day itself (or fancy having a go for yourself!), follow the link at the bottom of this post and see if you like the little “ghostlies” that are gathering there (mine is lurking somewhere in the middle)… Enjoy…
Time for me to get back to Thunder now.
Follow this link to check out the Mistress of the Dark Path’s October Short Story Competition
… can really make a difference.
When, a few weeks ago, a Canadian authoress contacted me (on this Blog Site) and said that she’d just bought a copy of Firebird I thought to myself… ‘Cool, maybe I’ve finally got the blurb right?’
Then I discovered that she didn’t usually read thrillers… (‘Uh oh…!’)
Then I discovered she intended to do a full review and post it to her personal book review websites… (‘……!!’)
It’s probably worth me sharing that I have some personal rules that I’m trying to stay true to even though, commercially, they may be a bit foolish. At some point I might share them all but a couple are relevant here:
- I will always try my hardest not to ‘check in’ with anyone who I know (or suspect) is in the middle of reading one of my books (this is really hard, especially if they are family!). My reason: books are a very personal thing and I don’t want to get drawn into the middle of that relationship.
- I will not participate in “read-for-review” or “read-for-ratings” fads that I sometimes come across in the on-line eBook communities. My reason: if people feel genuinely motivated to write something, they will – in their own style and hand – and those reviews and comments (whatever they say) will always be worth so much more to me as a writer.
Anyway, Ms.Budden is nothing if not an enthusiastic emailer (and a very friendly one, by all accounts) and so I have been drip fed a somewhat alarming commentary of sleepless nights, terrifying visions and of a reader suddenly well outside of their normal reading zone… (‘Oops… I’m fairly sure it’s in the right genres…!’)
And now she’s published her reviews…
Thank-you Norma… Your feedback just made fifteen years of effort feel like it was worthwhile.
Norma’s Firebird discussion page (with my mugshot in the middle of it, which is enough to put anyone off…!)
Just a short update… You might not hear from me for a while because I’m heading off up into the frozen wastelands, where monsters roam free and strange spirits haunt every shadowy nook and cranny… My trusty sword is sharpened and a fair amount of diesel is in the tank. Yep, am off to Yorkshire for the weekend… My sister lives up there, it’s her birthday, and (apparently) we’re going to borrow a narrow boat for a while.
Hmmm… there’s risk of a circumstantial thread of alcohol laden boating adventures appearing in this blog, so I won’t trouble you with the likely consumptive habits expected for the next two days.
Wish me luck, I’ll be back shortly… (assuming none of the locals catch sight of the above description whilst I’m there!).
p.s. I’m now on Goodreads which seems like a great website (sort of Facebook for readers and authors). Check it out if you haven’t already and don’t forget to “friend” me if you do (and want to)…
p.p.s. I was only joking about Yorkshire (I think it’s a beautiful county, full of lovely and friendly people)…!!