Category Archives: Blog

Personal update: an honest post

Warning: long post, and contains an update on me. Tl;dr – new job, separation from my husband, health issues, still writing, still sane (mostly).

It feels like everything’s happening at once, or has happened over the last few months. But I finally feel that I’m swimming forward, instead of just treading water. There’s a few bits of good news and a few bad, and some that are just…things.

It’s hard to write all of this because I don’t usually share my problems; I don’t like spreading worries around. I am a private person – some close friends knew some of what’s in this post, but I didn’t want to talk about it more widely. For anyone reading who is feeling left out, or upset that I didn’t talk to you; I am sorry that I have upset you, but I hope you can understand why I preferred to keep it private.

Please don’t feel that you need to comment, and in fact I’d rather you didn’t; I wanted to put this out into the world because there has obviously been something going on with me, and this is my personal blog! I’m not asking for sympathy or help; I simply want to explain and update, and let people know some of what’s been affecting me for the past few months and years, and what’s going to be affecting me for the foreseeable future.

So, the good!

I’ve started a new job
grumpy brussel sprout
@grumpy_brussel_sprout

I’m doing web development in Gloucester. We have two office puppies (who are SO CUTE) and I’m doing mobile app work, front-end development and marketing (including Google Analytics) and so far, I’m liking it! I’m going to be learning so much; I get a walk again for my commute, which is awesome;  and there’s a really nice little coffee bar on the way in so I may end up spending some of my paycheck on tea every morning…oh noes. And I have become a sleeping spot for the puppies…double oh noes. It’s such a hard life! Although it is going to be hard for a couple of weeks (months) while I settle in, so far it’s good. And involves puppies. (More pics further on – aren’t they CUTE?!) They’ve also been told about my depression and had one taste of an anxiety day (turns out, cuddling puppies helps a lot) and they’ve been really good with it, so I’m hoping I’ll actually be able to have some sort of normality on the job front with that.

I did have a very frustrating couple of weeks in February/March, because after nothing from the jobs for several months, I had four (!!) interview requests in the space of two weeks, and they were all for different fields! I had to decide whether to continue with my library career, go into web dev at the bottom of the field, take a more graphics/copywriting route, or get into professional editing…I’ve gone for web dev with the company in Gloucester, and I think I’ve made the right decision. It’s one of those things that I will always think “what if…” but on weighing up the fields and talking to people I trust, I think I’ve gone for the field that will bring me most pleasure and let me do what I want to.

Editing and writing
biggie mini daschund
@biggie_mini_dachshund

I’m also still doing freelance editing work for Grimbold Books and privately (Scritto Editing, for anyone interested!) and I’m really enjoying that. I did wonder if doing professional editing would make my ‘other job’ feel like a chore, so that was a major factor in not continuing along that career path. I am also apparently a Senior Editor at Grimbold (*mad dances*) which makes me ridiculously happy. I must be doing something right! I’m loving the stories I’ve had – I’ve had one of our new writers, one sequel to a book I loved originally, and I’m currently working on a book that both Jo Hall and I have dug our elbows into. In addition I’m getting to beta-read and slush-pile read books, and it’s fab. One of the best things about being an editor is getting to read (and have input!) on stuff before anyone else!

I’m still writing; I’m doing new things, I’m still submitting No Man’s Land to agents and I’ve got projects (like No Man’s Sky) on the go. I am reading again, and reviewing, and I want to get some more short stories done. I’ve also got projects with Cake Club, and reading for friends…so my writing and associated stuff is continuing! Obviously more news on all of that as I do it because this is primarily my writing blog, and I’ll always keep you updated on the mad plans that seem to come out of my brain and onto paper.

Ryan

I miss Ryan like hell, and we have the inquest coming up soon (as he was killed on the railway, they automatically open one) which I’m sort of dreading, but also want to just get it over with. It feels like a final thing hanging over us, stopping us from grieving, bringing up the questions again and again…so I’ll be glad when it’s done and we can start accepting it. But even though I miss him so much, I have had the pleasure of getting to know his family; I’m in touch with his mother almost every day, and I’ve been visiting the family (and their mad puppies!) – I had a wonderful afternoon over there the weekend just gone, which was bittersweet. It’s really hard going over when he’s not there, and being at the pub is still so difficult; there’s an empty space, a missing friend, someone I’m just waiting for…but I am grateful for the memories, grateful that he knew I loved him, and grateful for the new friendships that I’m making thanks to him. I’m still crying every time I think of him and I know the hole in my heart isn’t going to heal anytime soon, but in some ways I think that’s good; I’m not forgetting someone I loved so dearly.

And the not-so-good
Sprout with ID tag
@grumpy_brussel_sprout

I’m separating from my husband. It’s my decision after two years of anxiety and stress and trying to work out my feelings, and it’s currently amicable. We’re keeping our mad old pub and continuing on with the renovations, so that’s going to be (fun) chaos! Beyond that, we’re just taking things as they go. It’s really hard for both of us, but in many ways I’m happier because I’ve finally made a decision and it’s not hanging over me – and the burst of relief, horrible as it was, suggests I’ve made the right one. This may be the first you’ve heard of this – I don’t publicise my personal Facebook, although my author page is here – so if you know my husband, I’d greatly appreciate your support for him. It’s a shitty time for both of us but I’m really lucky to have some brilliant friends around me, and he doesn’t have as much of that support network. I still care about him so much, and it’s been a really horrible decision to have to make…but I think it is the right thing to do, much as it hurts.

I’ve also had some health issues in addition to the depression over the past few years that have left me feeling broken, for all that I’m (as far as tests show so far) physically ok. It was mostly just routine but included one rather bruising encounter with a specialist who basically informed me that I was lying about everything, and then declared that I should have done X, Y and Z…well, if my GP had told me to do X, Y and Z originally then I would have done it! That was incredibly frustrating and hurtful, but luckily my regular GPs have been awesome. It’s all settled down for the moment, but it has been several years of additional ups and downs that haven’t helped with anything. Again, some people know the details of this, but I hope you can appreciate why I prefer to keep it private. It may be something that I do open up about further in the future, but for now it’s just too painful.

On the mental health front, I did start medication again for a month but I’ve now come off it again – against the advice of a lot of people, I should add! Being on the medication meant I had artificial ups (I was singing! Baking! I did grumble that if I had small birds trying to help me do the chores, I’d feed them to Frankie) and felt like an alien in my own skin. I haven’t been sleeping well generally, with a lot of vivid dreams that mean I don’t feel rested. While medication does make the downs less violent, I was hating the changes, and so I chose to come off it again. I am hoping that I’ll be able to weather the ups and downs more naturally – I may still go back onto it, but I’ll see how I do.

So. That’s a snapshot of the current chaos!

Stepping onwards…
biggie dreaming of bacon
@biggie_mini_dachshund

I’m giving myself three months (my work probation) to settle in to everything, and see how things go on both the work and home front. I’ve set myself a deadline of Christmas before I make any more big decisions; I want time to just settle into myself again, absorb the changes, and feel like me. Beyond that…I’m just taking things as they come.

I’ve also got some scarier long-term plans in the works – I don’t want to say much as it all still feels like a “what-if-maybe” dream, but let’s just say that they’re big and scary and I don’t know if any of it will even work! But I’m taking small steps towards them and if it works out, it works out! It feels odd having a long-term goal, as the depression means I often find that so hard, but…it feels good, too.

If you’ve got to the end of this, congratulations! Thank you for reading, and also thank you to everyone who does read this blog for your support. I really value your contributions and views, both from those of you I know in real life and those I don’t. Thank you.

Again, don’t feel the need to comment; just thank you for reading, and for your understanding. I really appreciate it 🙂

*goes off to hide under the duvet with chocolate for a bit*

Cover Reveal: Desperate Knight

So, back sometime in 2016, I randomly picked a book off the SFF World review spreadsheet because it sounded interesting (actually, that’s how I choose most of my review books!) The book turned out to be Traitor Knight by Keith Willis, and I definitely enjoyed it – it involves a dragon with hiccoughs and a heroine who takes no shit within the first ten pages, and got better from there. What’s not to like?

Well, it’s got a sequel.

And an awesome cover.

(And there’s a chance to win an Amazon gift card, too).

You ready?

Ta-da!

desperate knight cover

No time… No options… No plan…

No one said saving the world would be easy.

Morgan McRobbie and Lady Marissa duBerry swing back into swashbuckling action, facing old enemies, new threats, and a diabolical conspiracy. Not to mention a more personal battle, one with hearts and pride at stake.

As the pair escorts Prince Robert to the dwarf king’s court, a fiendish scheme is unfolding, intended to hurl men and dwarves into a devastating war. Morgan ends up sidetracked by a kidnapped dwarf and a centuries-old feud, while a mysterious wizard’s revelations shake Marissa to her core, throwing into question everything she thought she knew about her past and future. And the advent of a rival for Marissa’s affections threatens any hope of a happy ending—if they survive.

Once again the desperate knight and indomitable damsel must hazard everything on a single throw of the dice, gambling on untested allies and unimagined weapons to save their world. And the odds have never been worse.

It’s out sometime in Summer 2017 from Champagne Books, and you can find more information on Keith at his personal website or on Twitter.

 

 

And finally…goodies! Trundle over to Rafflecopter for the chance to win a $10 Amazon gift card – and if you haven’t already got it, I’d highly recommend Traitor Knight

Crafty Update: May 2017

Now everything’s got there ok, I can reveal what I was crafting for the Big Geeky Craft Swap!

My prompt was “Wonder Woman”, and while I did consider a few useful things (mostly bookmarks) I didn’t have the right fabric to make one that would actually be useful in a book, and not break the spine (Librarian Tut!) So I ended up going with just a cross-stitched piece, and used an image from the DC Superhero Girls as a template. I ran out of flesh thread, which annoyed me (and I couldn’t get any more of the right colour!) and also managed to run out of black, although that was more easily fixed :-/ but it was a fun piece to do! I didn’t have time to fill in the background, but I think it does work.

I’m also getting there with my Superhero and Dinosaur alphabet – I’m just finishing off Robin, and I’ve got the rest all planned out! This one has been super fun, too – can you get all of them so far?

And finally, a picture of my helper…for once, not asleep on my lap!

 

New writing: Speaking Names

Necromancer Allie hasn’t been outside her basement in three years, but when a messenger arrives with an unusual request and a bag of money, her skull forces her to face the daylight. After all, the task of finding the pieces of a rich, dead woman’s soul can’t be that hard…

But there’s more than riches to be had, and more than lives at stake. What is life worth when all that is left are memories, and all that remains are dreams?

A new story, I hope – and one that’s getting plotted! I don’t know if it will go anywhere, but it’s going to be fun 🙂

They say a man is not truly forgotten while his name is still spoken.

The necromancers of ___ take this one step further. If a man’s name is not forgotten, and he is still remembered – then he can be brought back.

Shady business happens at night. The dark hours are best for skulduggery, nefarious deeds and general misdemeanors. However, it was mostly incidental that Allie’s latest visitor had arrived in the small hours of the morning, for it was well know that the streets of ____ never slept. If it was not the chill sun lighting the dank, misty streets, then it was marsh-lights and gas-lanterns, revealing shops that never stopped trading.

That didn’t stop Allie from feeling tired. She had drawn the day and night shift thanks to her partner in the shop being on a trading mission, and she was cursing his lateness for the fifth time when the visitor walked in.

He was so in love, Allie thought. The shady walk. The sneaking. He was trying not to be obvious about coming in, and that just made him stick out like a sore thumb. He was obviously going to get hit on something, soon.

“What a loser,” the skull whispered from behind her. “He’d be perfect for you.”

Heartaches and London

I had to go through London recently, for the first time in about ten years. Sure, I’ve been back – but it was passing through, driving to my sister’s, getting the bus to Victoria. It wasn’t anywhere that I lived.

I was there for four years at University, living near London Bridge, Hackney, White City, Elephant & Castle. I usually walked everywhere – partly because I was a student and partly from a childhood of walking to school. And I did walk everywhere; up to Holborn and Euston, up to Camden; down to Elephant and Camberwell and Vauxhall; in from Hackney and White City and Kensington. I explored Covent Garden and Soho, Southwark, the South Bank and The Strand. I caught the bus out to the tiny villages merged into the huge bulk of the city, and back into the wharves and docks and palaces of London’s heart.

I loved that city.

I remembered the peculiar smell of the Jubilee Line, and the odd gust of wind that you get as the train’s coming in to the station. I can still ride the tubes, brace myself without looking like I am – effortlessly standing as the train ploughs to a halt and all the tourists lurch forwards. The walk down from London Bridge to Waterloo, along the edge of the water; the bitter, hot smell of the street just after the Golden Hind, where one of the buildings vents out into the narrow street; how to dodge the tourists and lingerers at the Tate, and fit in with the commuters striding across Waterloo Bridge; the graffitti in the underpass at Blackfriars and the ever-changing trees woven with lights at the Oxo Tower. I remember looking out over the water, seeing the boats go past, and sitting in the bar at Kings’ and looking out past the 1960’s concrete walls that did nothing for the atmosphere of the Strand, over towards the South Bank. I remember riding the bus up past Trafalgar and Hyde Park,  the tube to White City, looking at the station names in wonder. I remember riding the night bus, sitting in a moored ship on the Thames, drinking in a cellar bar, riding the Eye.

I loved London with a pain that made me smile every time I stepped off the train, with a touch to my heart that broke it every time I left. I loved the lights, the details, the colours, the life. I loved turning a corner and finding something new, or something old. I loved being one person amongst thousands, uncaring.

It hurt to go back.

I grieved after I left, but I knew I was right to leave. I wouldn’t have wanted to be a commuter; a student’s freedom was wonderful, but I’d hate to work there. It took a few years for the grief to fade, and I never really liked going back. I made my life elsewhere, and was grateful when my occasional trips back never took me near the places I’d loved.

But we came in to Waterloo. We travelled down the Thames. I traced the routes I’d walked, the places I’d seen; I knew what was coming next, the details, the hidden gems. I remembered the smell of the tube before it hit me, trod up the escalator and turned the right way at the top. I watched my city fly past around me, and I felt my heart break all over again.

It isn’t mine, not any more. I am no longer a part of it; it has not changed, and I know that I could go back…

It’s not my place. But it hurt so much to see something that I loved so deeply, and know that I have stepped away from it.