Category Archives: Blog

The Book Pile: June 2018

Saga vol 1 coverSo I got my hands on Saga Volume 1 a little while back, during an ill-advised trip to Inky Fingers in Oxford (aka. I spent too much money and have been avoiding it since lest I spend more money) and I picked up several things that have been on my list for a while! Saga was one; the second was Lumberjanes, although I picked up Volume 2 on recommendation as apparently it can be read out of order.lumberjanes vol 2 cover

I’ve also been reading the new coloured Halo Jones, which is futuristic and female-centred and fab, and I’m working my way through the Anderson stories – I get to read Dreddverse novellas for work, so I think that counts as a win too!

In text-based series, I’ve been loving Ghost Girls on Wattpad – it’s by my friend Kat and I’ve read a version of the story previously (although I don’t think I read the ending…or if I did, I can’t remember what happened) and it’s just the most adorably sweet story.

Ginny finds the most perfect little flat, just far enough away from her university campus that she shouldn't be bothered by noise and parties any more. The only catch? Yukiko already lives there.

A cute and quirky, own voice, lesbian romance about a girl and the ghost she falls in love with.

In novels, besides the multiples at work that I’m reading, I’m just finishing Moonshine by Jasmine Gower and I have Jen William’s The Ninth Rain to read next, followed by Lucy Hounson’s Starborn…and then the rest of my TBR, of course. And people keep recommending books to me! *flails*

But hey, the problems of a bookworm life!

The Igor system: what goes around, comes around

I used the phrase “Igor system” to someone the other day and got a blank look…

Igor, servant to Dr Frankenstein

The phrase I use is from Terry Pratchett, who has a mostly-related family of characters who are the typical mad-scientist helper: they’re all called Igor (well, it’s not confusing to them), like green bubbly things, talk with a lithp, are pretty good at self-surgery, and swap body parts.

And it’s the body parts where the phrase comes from; you take care of your heart, because it was your dad’s, and someone else could use it after you. You accept the help from an Igor when you’ve had an accident and need a new arm, or a finger, or a liver – and then when it comes to it, you pay that on. You give what’s needed, “because what goes around, comes around.”

And I think it works really well for both the writing community, and for life.

I help a writer who’s just starting out because I was there, once – and so I’ll check over her submissions and help with copy-edits and grammar and how to put names in headers because it pays it forward. I’ll buy a chocolate bar for a friend because hey, it’s been that sort of day. I’ll do my best to listen and support and give that extra bit of help, even when it might be tedious or tiring or something I don’t have to do – because I was there, or I will be, or because it’s the right thing.

And I’m seeing it come back. I’m getting so much support from my colleagues within the writing industry, and I can’t pay that back in any conventional sense – and so I’ll pay it forward: when I’m there, at their stage, with their knowledge – I’ll pay it on to someone who needs it. I’ll recommend books I love and support authors I enjoy and do my best to put energy into things that need the support, because somehow, it’ll come back to me. It’s a version of karma, I guess, but I try to direct it; because I don’t always have the unspecified energy to spend doing randomly good deeds, I try to use that energy where I know I can help most.

So I do my best to live by the Igor system – and if you ever hear me use the phrase, that’s what it is!

No learning is ever wasted

I’ve had quite a few people over the past few months apologising for talking about something they love, or that I don’t know anything about, or that they think I’m not interested in.

And fair enough, if you talk AT me about football for more than about fifteen minutes, I will probably end up trying to keep the blank look off my face, and escape as soon as possible. But for anything else? Hell, no! I love it when someone’s passionate about something – you can see them just light up, and that’s just amazing. Listening to someone talk about something that they’re passionate about is a real pleasure. I’ve had discussions with my colleague about swordfighting, mythology, Frankenstein, bitcoin….I know a bit about some of those things, but it’s just such a nice feeling to talk to someone about something they’re interested – and knowledgeable – about.

And even if it’s something you think is silly, like Pokemon (the amount of people who have apologised for being interested in Pokemon…) or computer games or…just STOP. They’re all interesting! They’re all something you’re passionate about! Allow yourself to be interested! Ok, yes, sure, you need to read the conversation, and be aware when you’re boring someone – but then that’s the difference between talking TO someone and talking AT someone.

And – honestly – I love learning. As the title says, no learning is ever wasted – I’ve got so many random things squirrelled away in the back of my brain that will likely go into a book, or drop into a random conversation, or just make some odd connection that I can be interested in myself.

So don’t ever apologise for being interested in something and talking about it. Nothing’s ever wasted when you’re talking to a writer!

5 Happy Things: June 2018

What’s going on this month? Stuff. Things. Swans being f***ers (seriously, those things are absolute gits!) A lot of walking around Oxford. Friends. Being tired. It’s been a pretty good month so far, even if I have been exhausted for some of it… so, best bits?

Revenant Gun cover1.Reading sequels to awesome books. I love my job! (Ps. Yoon Ha Lee’s Revenant Gun is out this week! My colleague and I may have been fangirling over Ninefox fanart…)

2.House-hunting. I’m currently looking for a place of my own with a couple of friends (as I’m currently in a friend’s spare room) and it’s been fun to see bits of Oxford I might not otherwise have gone to! I’ve been doing a lot of walking, and it is adding to my anxiety levels (phone calls, timing issues, more phone calls…) but it’s exciting as well.

3.And we might be getting a cat! I miss my furball (despite the fact he regularly woke me up at 3am for breakfast when there was food in his bowl, and his favourite sleeping spot is obviously on whatever you’re currently trying to do…) so a potential new furball is great! We don’t know if it’ll actually come off, but it’s a nice dream. My housemate has been looking at cats…I’m currently trying to persuade him that kittens are adorable bundles of squeaky fluff, but they are also FUCKING HARD WORK.

4.It’s weird, but “coping mechanisms” have been a good thing! I broke last week; I was completely exhausted, and had a couple of days where I really could have used my walking stick (and not just to hit people with…) but actually, I feel quite optimistic about it. There wasn’t a specific trigger so I don’t know exactly what I could have avoided to prevent it, but once I realised what was happening, it felt like a routine – I knew what I needed to do, I did it, and I looked after myself as best I could. I was still able to get into work, and even though I was tired, I didn’t burn myself out. So – it sucked, but actually, I got this. I can cope with it.

5.And a little thing…Revels. I used to eat them a lot in school and I’ve rediscovered them. My favourites are the orange and coffee, and I’ll reluctantly eat the raisins. I guess they’re better than Bertie Bott’s, at least – no vomit or dog poo!

So that’s halfway through June…now I’ve got several books to read, several things to edit, and general chaos to administer – so back to work!

For anyone who’s lost a friend to suicide

Trigger warning: suicide and depression (just in case the title didn’t warn you).

There’s been a lot in the news recently about suicide, for fairly obvious reasons, but I’ve been staying off Twitter because I can’t handle it. I know it’s meant kindly and it does help, but the message of “just talk to someone” or “just reach out” just leaves me knotted and angry and crying. I’m always going to be raging against the sheer futility of mental illness and the complete and utter fucking mess that our brains can make of our lives;  but I’m still frustrated and knotted and just…it’s taken time to untangle things.

I want to believe that friends make a difference. I want to believe that humans can change things. I need to keep hoping that someone being there, reaching out, can make the difference. It matters. Listen, and do it. Be there. Connect. It’s the best defence against the sheer hopelessness that depression brings.

But, in the middle of the messages of support and hope and friendship and love, I want to say this:

To anyone who feels like they failed. To anyone who reached out and got knocked back, or pushed away, or didn’t get through. To anyone who did get through, and was there, and lived a brilliant life next to someone who suddenly stepped away from it all-

It’s not your fault.

You might have tried and not been able to give what was needed, and that’s not your fault. You did what you could. You tried. You offered. It’s someone else’s choice if they want to accept or reject, and it’s someone else’s decision. You did what you could.

You might have done everything. You might have provided warmth, love, safety. You might have been a friend who stood there in every battle you knew about, every battle you saw, and you won. Every time, you won.

But it’s not your war to fight.

You might have done what you could or you might have done everything, and it wasn’t enough.

It’s not your fault.

I miss him. Not every day now, but every week. I still call him an idiot. I still wonder what life would have been like if he’d won just one more battle, one more day. But I don’t blame him at all. I’ve been there. I know how fucking hard those battles are to fight, and how endless it all is, and I don’t blame him one bit.

And I’m finally realising that I did everything I could, and while it wasn’t enough – it wasn’t my war.

I’ve been seeing the motto, “Be kind. You don’t know what battles others are fighting.”

And that extends to yourself. Be kind to yourself. You can’t fight someone else’s battles for them. Stand with them, hand them friendship and love, support them; be the best friend and the best human you can be. But you can’t win for them.