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‘Tis The Season…

To be … whatever you want to be!

Merry Christmas

❄❄❄ Merry Christmas! ❄❄❄

And on that basis, here’s a quick update on what’s been happening in my busy world over the last few weeks.

First off, I’ve managed to find a few fragments of time and done some more work on G’host.  Admittedly, not as much as I’d have liked, but some all the same.  I’m pleased about that, but also slightly disappointed that I’m not going to be able to post a scene from it, here, as a tribute for the holidays.

The scene I am working on suits the season very well and my idea to use it as a post is what inspired me to get back to the keyboard.  Unfortunately, inspiration can only get you so far, and tiredness from several months of long work days doesn’t facilitate good prose.  So the scene is coming along but is, sad to say, nowhere near ready enough for a public airing.

It is, however, nice to report that I’ve had some more, very nice, positive feedback from a number of readers over the last month.  This is always a real joy.  Thanks to anyone who’s ever offered encouragement to any writer: dark days haunt more than just winter months…

I could blather on about restarting my ski-fit regime in readiness for heading for the slopes next year, or about finally sorting my kitchen out after six years of putting up with randomly painted duck-egg blue walls but, as you can tell, it’s not exactly rock and roll news, and so I’m not going to waste any more of your precious seconds in the countdown to the big day…!

Rather, I’ll close by saying: to any stranger who happens past, and to all of my kind and wonderful friends, I wish you all a joyful Christmas and prosperous New Year.

See you in 2014…!

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So That Was The Year, That Was…

… 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!

Back to the Grindstone?

I’ve finally recovered from New Year – I think – and my house seems larger again now that the decorations are down.  Incredibly, I’ve even packed all of the Christmas ornaments into their boxes and put them up into the loft!  I confess: one year I got distracted during this process and they ended up sitting around in my spare room… for a whole twelve months… but I’m not like that any more, honest.

Anyway, here we are then, venturing into 2012.  Some people say that these next couple of months are the “dark” ones but I don’t mind this time of year.  The days are getting longer – albeit slowly – and there’s all the promise of Spring and Summer to look forward to.  For me, these “dark” months, when the weather tends to keep me trapped inside, are a good time for pushing on.  A good time for getting jobs done and things out of the way.  For having a “run at” the year.

Which reminds me, I also need to get cracking with my ski-fitness programme.  Ten days of blasting around in Colorado powder beckon, like a shining beacon of fun, in the near-distance. The problem is though, if I don’t do some work to get myself into shape, it’ll more likely be one day of blasting and then nine days of feeble excuse mongering as I limp around with my muscles set rigidly in a “you’re not doing any more of that” position.

So, come on then January…  hand me that grindstone because right now is the perfect time for sharpening up!

(Right, I know there’s a stepper somewhere in this spare room…  Perhaps it’s underneath those halloween outfits?)

Ever Wonder…?

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?

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