May? Wait, what?

And then it was May. Beltane. May Day. Whatever floats your boat. You think about May and you think of things like this:

May. It should be like this.

Instead, we’re being treated to a surfeit of this:

Even the ducks have been complaining.

Honestly. The United Kingdom. The only place in the world where we have hosepipe bans and a drought in the ‘rainiest April since records began’. It’s not only been wet, it’s also been very cold. However, I am my father’s daughter and I staunchly refuse to put on the central heating unless I am shivering. More layers, he’d say. Go and put on a jumper. I grew up in a house without central heating (although we had some mad warm air convection heating thing downstairs. It was about as much use as a chocolate fireguard) and so I cope with the cold better than the Boys. I’m actually sitting here with my coat still on (I’ve been in from work for an hour) and even I’m thinking of putting the heating on ‘for a bit’.

My left shoulder-demon is telling me that I should enjoy the luxurious splendour of a centrally heated house. The right shoulder-angel is telling me that I should mind my pennies. Kronk has nothing on me, I swear. These guys bicker all the time.

I'm gonna lead you down the path that rocks...

In other news:

I haven’t seen Avengers Assemble yet. The current plan is to go and see it on Sunday when Dearly Beloved is not at work. The over-zealous enthusiasm for it that’s doing the rounds on the interwebs is kind of putting me off if I’m brutally honest. Sometimes I feel like that about books as well, or books by certain authors when people go ‘OMG IT’S A BOOK BY <INSERT AUTHOR HERE> IT’S BRILLIANT AND THE BEST THING EVER’ and God help anybody who has a differing opinion and dares to express it. Sometimes I find it disheartening that there are so many people out there who seem incapable of recognising that everyone has differing opinions (apart from those who can’t form opinions of their own).

Speaking of disheartening, the day job has become something that I can only just about bear. My workload has increased massively over the past six months or so, which may just be a slight glitch in the flow of patient referrals, but there’s no sign of it easing off. I work very hard at what I do for not very much return. Having one of my major projects ripped apart by a consultant who genuinely didn’t have a clue what he was talking about was galling, but I’m not massively concerned when the hard evidence exists to prove my point. But it just wears you down. I can never wait to be out of there so I can be at home, where I am happy and where I can do the things that matter. Spend time with Dearly Beloved and Smallish. Torment the cats. Write.

On the subject of writing (neat, eh?) I sent off the first drafts of Project: Loophole and Project: ME, ME, ME to the editor-beast over the last couple of weeks. Next to look at are (in no particular order at this point) Project: Hunting Wabbits and Project: Who Shall It Be? On top of that, Valkia the Bloody is due out in the next few weeks, too.

Architect of Fate is on release to the wider public now and a couple of very nice reviews have slipped in, including ones from SF Book Reviews and Starburst Magazine.

Project: Backburner is very low down on the agenda at the moment, but I’m thinking of spending a few hours on it over the next week or two whilst I draw breath and recover from Loophole and ME, ME, ME.

So the writing thing is going brilliantly. I’m job-hunting like it’s going out of fashion… and I’m going to go and put the heating on.

What a rebel.

Drive-by Update

A fleeting update. For those of you who aren’t aware, the Black Library is celebrating its 15th birthday with a new eShort every day for 15 days. Each little piece is around a thousand words in length and available for download for the cost of 79p a pop.

My contribution to this, Blood Blessing (a Valkia short) went up on the second day and can be found here. It’s in advance of Valkia the Bloody which is due to be released in early July. I can’t believe the year has moved on this quickly to the point that Valkia is only a couple of months off release. Looking out of the window now, there are buds on the trees (which you can just about make out amidst this very foggy morning) and spring is definitely in the air.

Things coming up:

* Architect of Fate due for release in May: my 30,000 word novella Accursed Eternity is the first story in this anthology. Having now read the other three stories (by Darius Hinks, Ben Counter and John French respectively), I feel honoured to be in their company.

* Looking forward to alt.fiction – April 13-15th in Leicester. I went to this event last year and it was incredibly useful. Lots of tips and lots of lovely people. M’colleague Jim Swallow is one of the guests at this event and will be holding court on All Things Gamey. As in games, rather than, y’know. Venison and whatever.

* I will be going to the Salute wargaming event on April 21st down in London and am looking forward to that enormously.

* Valkia the Bloody comes out in July.

* The Black Library Weekender event is in November and I can’t wait for that. It’s going to be huge.

On top of these Things Coming Up, I am busily working. Project: Loophole is almost at first edit stage and Project: ME, ME, ME is fired up and ready to go. Project: Backburner is suggesting something of a tweak to me and I’m just generally thrilled to be so busy and to still be enjoying being so busy.

On top the on top of the Things Coming Up, there are planned visits to wonderful folks down in Kentfordshire at some point; two weeks off in August (our original plans may be scuppered due to the sheer cost of travelling anywhere in the school holidays)… and continuing re-decoration to the house. Somehow I will find the time.

All is well in the World of the Second Job.

Rollering and Coastering

I’m tired. It’s been a week of ups and downs. This is therefore a bit… stream of consciousness.

It started on a down with the death of the hard drive, as immortalised in my previous ‘Hard Drive Lament’ entry. It dragged me back, kicking and screaming, from my previously easily attainable February target. Let me just digress for a moment or two on the subject of targets. I’ve discussed them before in depth, but just to recap.

I set myself ‘bite-sized’ targets. X number of words by the end of January, Y number of words by the end of February… and so on. I have these written on my white board and it acts as a motivator to look up at it and go ‘YEAH! Only Z number of words left to go to reach target!’ Usually at that point, I do something painfully cliched, like this:-

Take that, air, you sunnovvabitch.

I know, OK? I know. But anyway, I glance up at the whiteboard and go ‘oh yeah. My golden target is within reach.’

After the hard-drive death, that attainability became less likely and I’ve been totally putting myself through hell over it. And here’s the really weird thing: I have no idea why! It’s not like I’m not well within the overall target or anything. But I have this near OCD-like need to reach (and exceed) that February target. As a result, I may have been pushing myself a lot harder this past week than I would otherwise have done. Not that this is particularly bad, or anything. Well actually it is bad. I work full time. Coming home and writing until my eyeballs threaten to pack and leave due to being so tired hasn’t done me any favours this week. But I’ve caught up. At least, as much as is humanly possible. February’s target is now back in my grasp. I am off work Tuesday and Wednesday. Hopefully at some point in the next three days, I’ll achieve Target Nirvana. The air will suffer more punching.

So that’s a kind of up-down thing; both good, bad and frankly, bloody silly. But that’s what I do best.

Let’s look at the UP of this past week, because there’s been a damn sight more of it.

UP NUMBER ONE

Aaron and Katie’s baby showed up on 21st February. After countless months of referring to their unborn child as ‘she’, they were probably somewhat alarmed to discover that ‘she’ was in fact a ‘he’. Alexander is no less gorgeous for the fact and little boys are the stuff of legend. (I may have a certain bias in that direction; although I was convinced Smallish was going to be a girl as well). There are very few things in the world as uplifting as the joy of a friend becoming a parent. They have all the tough early days and nights ahead of them, but all of us Experienced Parents know that it doesn’t last. I wish them every joy and happiness in their new family unit. I predict Alexander will commence his efforts to take over the world in approximately five years.

I predict he will be successful in six.

UP NUMBER TWO

Warhammer 40,000 celebrated its 25th birthday on Saturday 26th February. To mark this occasion, the Black Library released a special anthology of short stories called ’25 for 25′. 25 short stories all collected together in one place. Works out at… whatever it is. Something like 56p per story, which is frankly a bloody bargain. I am thrilled that one of my own short stories, Bitter End featuring everyone’s favourite deranged villain Huron Blackheart is one of those stories. It’s an ebook download which you can get here – no worries if you don’t have an eReader, simply acquire yourself a bit of free software like Adobe Digital Editions (free) and you can still enjoy it. I heartily recommend At Gaius Point by Aaron Dembski-Bowden – that’s been one of my favourite short W40K stories so far.

The subject of eReaders and the attitude of folks towards them may be the subject of a future rant, incidentally.

UP NUMBER THREE

It’s Black Library Live! 2012 this coming weekend (March 3rd). Lots of people gathered up at Warhammer World and taking over the tables in Bugmans Bar to talk about All Things Warhammer. I’m taking part in no less than three of the discussion panels (Space Marines, Warhammer Fantasy and Hammer and Bolter) and am looking forward to it enormously. The last two years have been great fun; but this will be the first time I’m there on the ‘other side’ of the table. If you’re going, I look forward to seeing you there. Among the pre-release books available on the day is the four-book anthology Architect of Fate which contains my novella Accursed Eternity.

UP NUMBER FOUR

Despite being off work for a week, I got caught up again. Huzzah for that. Additionally, I am in tomorrow (Monday), but am then off for the rest of the week. Such a nice warm feeling. Mmmmmm.

So yes. This week has been a bit of a wild ride, but I always liked roller coasters. Occasionally though, it’d be nice to be cruising along on the flat for a while.

Mind, that’d mean life was boring, and mine’s been anything but that over the last three years.

Long may it continue.

Additionally, how much fun does this roller coaster look?

DIVE! DIVE!

Plan Ahe

Re: title of today’s blog. That always used to make me laugh. In fact, I had a badge with it on. I also had a badge with a smug looking dog and the caption ‘Don’t Eat Yellow Snow’ as well, so draw your own conclusions.

(Complete tangent: I chucked a few old CDs onto iTunes earlier, including a Best of Disney CD. Don’t judge me. But ‘The Best of Friends‘ from The Fox and the Hound just came on. Just hearing the opening bars makes me tear up. Damn that film. There is no film more capable of reducing me to incomprehensible weeping than that one. I own it on DVD. I’ve never been brave enough to sit and watch it since I bought it).

Anyway, planning ahead.

I’ve just started work on my next big project, known as Project: Loophole. At the moment, I’m entirely uncertain how much I can say about it. Probably more than I’m saying, but you know. Being cagey is fun. But it’s a longer term project, which means setting myself goals and targets. I enjoy doing that bit. I’ve cleaned off my whiteboard which was full of stuff I’d already finished and I’ve put down my upcoming targets. I’ve set up my new progress spreadsheet (because I really am that nerdy). I’ve even actually started the writing part of the project. I’m already complaining inside the cavernous confines of my own mind of course.

This is what it's always like for me at the start of a project. Honestly.

It’s a bit of a lie actually. Things haven’t yet gone horribly awry, but I’m not being as  productive as I’d like to be. I’m going to blame Christmas. Even that’s difficult because this year, for what’s probably the first time ever, I’m actually prepared for Christmas. In fact, I finished the majority of my shopping at the beginning of December. This confuses and upsets my usual last minute panic self. I’ve changed, man. I’ve become organised. I’m a traitor to the rebellious youth I was. I even came in from work tonight and sorted out a pile of stuff that’s been sat there for probably as long as we’ve been in this house. Which is… uh… eight years this year? Something like that. Shameful, I know.

(Sha la la la la la don’t be scared, you’ve got the mood prepared go on and… kiss the girl).

Anyway, Loophole.

Every time I start something new, I think ‘shall I approach it in a different way than before’? This time I’m feeling less inclined to beat myself up over word count because I know that when it matters, I can deliver. I also need to avoid something I did with The Pact which was to edit as I went along. That style of writing really, really didn’t sit well with me. I much prefer to get the words nailed down onto the page and then tweak them around. Then my editor beast gets his paws on the finished product and so far, I’ve found the editing process extremely useful. I’d like to say that I get frustrated at the editing stage just so I can use this picture.

This is all true. Or a lie. But that might be a lie also.

I’m excited about Project: Loophole because it’s something a little bit different for me and gives me a chance to get pretty creative. It also allows me to use a few characters who have been sitting around in the brain closet crying out for attention. They’re going to get their moment in the sun. So that’s keeping my mind pretty occupied for now.

Feedback on The Gildar Rift continues to slip in and it’s all still good. It got a four-star review in issue 217 of SFX Magazine, which made me feel pretty proud. Age of Legend, a WHF anthology is also now out in the wild and my Valkia short story Bloodraven has met with an apparently good reception. Valkia the Bloody comes out in July next year and I’m really looking forward to people seeing that one, because I am seriously proud of how it came out.

One of the other things that’s been nice to see is the number of people who have arrived here at the blog searching for Accursed Eternity which is my 30k Space Marines Battles novella, and one of the Architect of Fate arc. It’s a nice thought that people have read TGR and are looking for more stuff. Accursed Eternity is currently available as an e-book download, but comes out in a physical, new-book-smell form in May 2012 as well.

(Hey babe, take a walk on the wild side).

Right, well that’s my blog update sorted. That wasn’t even in the plan for tonight. See? Planning ahead doesn’t always produce results.

Back to the grind, the slog, the coal face, etc., etc., etc…

Bonjour!

Because, you know. French and whatever. Not So Small Anymore Son has spent the last week in France with the school. I only ever went on one trip with the school and that was the ski trip when I was in the second year. Or what they now call Year 8. I get confused by this new-fangled stuff. The ski trip was the thing of nightmares; a comedy of errors that only I could get caught up in (literally caught up in the Incident With The Drag Lift) and to this day, anything by the Stray Cats will set me off on a chain of memories that lead to night sweats and sheer terror. This track in particular.

Get the rockabilly vibe.

That track was on my Walkman whilst we drove down the autobahn at insane o’clock. Everyone else was asleep. I can’t sleep in transit, so I was staring out the window at the huge snowdrifts and listening to my Stray Cats tapes (note: young people, Google it. Cassette tapes. You haven’t lived until you’ve had to wind the entire spool back into the tape with a pencil).

And then my Walkman refused to work any more. It ate the Stray Cats tape. And I was sans music for the rest of the journey and had to listen to the person behind me snoring like a walrus with a cold being hacked to death by a chainsword. It was the first omen in what would prove to be a… bizarre week. Involving drag lifts (as mentioned), the absolute certainty that I was about to die, being teased because I was the only girl on the trip who liked the A-Team…

I discovered several things during that school trip so many years ago.

  1. I hate cassette tapes.
  2. I can’t sleep in transit.
  3. Never catch a drag lift and go up leg-first.
  4. There are fences in the most unexpected places on mountain edges. Just because you are careening towards a sheer drop doesn’t mean you will die. Do not suddenly wish you were religious. Instead, save your energy to save face after the inevitable collision with said fence and tangle of limbs that ensues.
  5. Side-stepping down the entire mountain is tiring. But the only option for several of us who’d never been skiing before and were told to ski to the bottom. Alone.
  6. I hate skiing.
  7. Liking the A-Team is fine.

I also discovered the joy that is Ritter Sport Marzipan during that trip. I still go all foamy at the mouth if I see it and have to buy it.

Anyway… that was in 19… er… it was quite a long time ago. I remember that in the middle of the week, everyone crowded round the pay phone with a handful of schillings and called home to our anxious parents to reassure them that we were Still Alive And Hadn’t Fallen Down A Mountainside. One phone call for the length of the entire week. The Small’s school are modern and hip and all that jazz. They video blogged the day’s events every day of the French trip. The Small sent me a text every night.

I turned into a complete voyeur in this last week. I would sit impatiently on the school’s website waiting for the video blog to upload. Then I would watch a bunch of kids I don’t know getting up to an assortment of antics in a French town I’d never heard of in an effort to catch a glimpse of my son. There’s the back of his head, I would say, hopefully. Dearly Beloved would shake his head. ‘No?’ ‘No. That’s his elbow, just out of shot, there.’

That may be a little unfair. He did show up in a couple of shots, and my word, he looked bored. Whether it was just an unfortunate camera moment or whether he actually was bored remains to be seen; he’s home today and he’s coming here tomorrow from his dad’s, so I plan to take him to lunch (probably not baguettes) and interrogate him.

Also, I’m glad he’s home.

In other news, Accursed Eternity, my novella from the Architect of Fate Space Marines Battles book went live as an ebook today over at the Black Library site. I love the blurb. It goes…

An Architect of Fate novella. Space Marines of the Blood Swords and Star Dragons Chapters are enlisted by Inquisitor Remigius of the Ordo Malleus to storm the infamous daemonship known as the Accursed Eternity. But all is not as it first appears, and what should have been a relatively simple mission rapidly devolves into a hellish warp-spawned nightmare – the stage is set for a galaxy-spanning tale of Chaotic intrigue and of a war which has lasted for ten-thousand years…

And the cover for the ebook is ultra-pretty:

Accursed Eternity

Looking for a good time? You took a wrong turning, me laddo. MWAHAHAHAHAHAHA etc.

Edits for Valkia the Bloody are going very well; up to chapter 13 of 17, so that should be in to the Editor Beast by Sunday. Then I have what we shall call Project: Bedfellows to crack on with and there’s a couple of other Things in the pipeline. Also, there’s another couple of pre-release Gildar Rift signings – one in Durham on 12th November and the other at Warhammer World on 19th November.

Busy, busy!

Love it.

Au revoir!

Two Down, Three To Go… (Or: The Importance of Numbers)

…days, that is. Until I have a break from the Day Job for a couple of weeks. We’re not going on holiday or anything like that… mostly we’re staying here and getting some household things sorted out. There will be trips, no doubt. There are too many castles and bits of old Roman wall up in this neck of the woods to resist!

Housesteads Roman Fort

Housesteads Roman Fort. Where the view probably hasn't changed an awful lot since the Romans packed up and left.

The Day Job isn’t so bad just now. After recently having a very good conversation with a friend, I simply tried shifting my perspective a little and it’s been very good advice. I’ve applied it to several situations and all in all, things are pretty much ticking along in the world of work without too much hardship. Things have eased off considerably now that the team is back up to full strength again; we’ve had a few months where we’ve been struggling to cope with our own workloads and those of two full time members of staff who’ve either moved onto new things or gone on maternity leave. But we’re all still alive, so things are good. So that’s the Day Job. Two days of this week down, three to go. Numbers, numbers, numbers.

The Other Job though… man. I’m so, so busy right now with so much going on that I keep having to pinch myself. The bulk of work I’m doing is for the Black Library – biggest project being Valkia the Bloody, with a couple of other smaller things going on. There’s also two or three non-BL projects going on as well which whilst they aren’t eating up as much of my time are still pretty hectic. I’m still keeping myself to a limit though: if I spent all night every night when I got in writing I’d go quietly mad. More mad. Your mileage, as they say, may vary. My daily 1,000 word base target has recently increased to 1,200 minimum (on ALL projects, not on each) and that’s going well. Those extra 200 words make a hellish difference to an overall word count and thus do wonders for your morale.

For example, I just went over the halfway mark for Valkia the Bloody. I’m not quite at my end of August target, but if I keep up the 1,200 words per day between now and then, I’ll be 8k ABOVE it. Whilst this doesn’t mean that I’ll back off and slow the pace, it certainly gives me a bit of room to breathe during my two weeks off. Knowing I won’t be sitting there day after day muttering to myself whilst attempting to do housework, entertain Small and the Chimp and generally enjoy being off work is very encouraging.

So yes. Numbers are important. I was always interested in ‘how many words have I written’ in the days when I was writing short stories and that’s now become something massively important. I’m more and more frequently being asked for advice and stuff like that (gawd, people, don’t ask me – I’m only PRETENDING I know anything!) And so here’s the advice based on the numbers game.

Word counting is important… but it’s not the be-all-end-all of what you’re doing. If you only write 450 words a day, as long as they are words that you are happy with… as long as they are words that progress the story, even if only a little, then be content. Think that 450 words is better than no words. Because that’s not only accurate, it’s true.

If you don’t make your target… don’t beat yourself up about it. Ladies and germs, this is definitely a DO WHAT I SAY, NOT WHAT I DO situation. Savvy?

Be realistic… about your targets. If you work full time and do your writing in that sneaky little space between getting home and before the family gets in (like I do), don’t go ‘I can achieve 5,000 words in that time and if I don’t, I’ll NEVER DO IT etc., etc., etc.’ Work out what’s reasonable and realistic for you. If you aren’t on a formal deadline, great – but it’s well worth the practise. I get away with getting a lot of words into  a short space because I can touch-type. Very fast. In fact, whenever I’m typing, it sounds like herds of wildebeest. And these guys are not sweeping majestically across the plains; no. These fellas are stampeding. An aside: learn to touch-type if you can’t already. One of the best skills I ever learned – even more so now that I am writing!

OK, that’s enough of that. There will be more advice (bad, good or whatever) at some point. When I remember to blog, mostly.

In the meantime, I was invited to write a guest blog for Civilian Reader, which you can see here.

And stealing the idea shamelessly from the illustrious Jim Swallow, here’s a sort of ‘Coming Soon’… there’s some other things too, but because I’m still new at this, I never know what I can and can’t talk about!

Zomgoose. I have signing events.

September 25th – Games Day UK, Birmingham NEC, signing pre-release copies of The Gildar Rift
November 12th – Signing copies of The Gildar Rift at Games Workshop, Durham
November 19th –
Signing copies of The Gildar Rift at Warhammer World, Nottingham
May 2012 – Release of The Architect of Fate, including my novella-length story ‘Accursed Eternity‘.
July 2012 – Release of Valkia the Bloody

And as a final inclusion… just look at this beeeeeeeeyooooootiful Space Marine.

Look at it.

A Son of Sanguinius just standing there. AND HE'S STILL COOL WHILST HE'S DOING IT.

So… Pretty…

Am discovering just how nice it is to be able to do this. The despicably talented Jon Sullivan’s cover for the anthology that contains one of my stories went live today. And oh, it’s pretty.

Architect of Fate

Kairos Fateweaver doesn't react well to the clingfilm-on-loo-bowl prank.

This anthology comes out in May 2012 and features four novella-length stories, including my Accursed Eternity story (featuring the Blood Swords and Star Dragons).

Beyond Busy, Into Hectic

But first, some music for no reason other than I’m really liking these guys at the moment.

Catchy little number; nice bass, nice drums, good singer. Can’t ask for more than that. I think I’ve said before that I have a really eclectic playlist with everything from classics right up to heavy metal. I just like what I like.

What I haven’t liked has been this week. It’s had some Very Good bits – such as sending in the first draft of Accursed Eternity and having minimal edits to do on it. Synopsis is away for Project: Handbags at Dawn and Project: Podshot is ramping up to start. I hope to enlighten you on what both of these projects are in due course. For now, they’re Project [Codename]. Don’t know why I do that. It amuses me.

Anyway. So the writing part is all fine and hunky dory. Incidentally, Hammer & Bolter Issue 8 is out tomorrow and features another Silver Skulls short story called Cause and Effect – a follow-on from Action and Consequence that was published back in H&B 5. Just so you know.

Work has been hellish; very busy but our computer systems are far, far, far away from what you might call robust. I half-suspect they’re actually running everything from a ZX Spectrum some days it’s that bad. When our systems or slow or – as has been the case this week – dead, then we can’t do anything even remotely practical except sit there and glare at the computers and somehow hope the database pixies will skip along and fix them.

Took a decadent day off in the middle of the week; have plenty of flexi-time owing and Dearly Beloved had his day off, so we spent it together. With him working weekends, this is actually a rarity, so that was quite pleasant. We had all these amazing plans to go to Flamingo Land, but in the end we went into Durham and spent money on books, DVDs and, in Ben’s case, Yet Another Tank for his Imperial Guard Army. (My Space Marine army now consists of a total of three painted figures. Go, me!) The day off certainly made the week easier to bear and I’m reminding myself that a) it’s payday next week and b) there’s another bank holiday coming up. Woo for that. Then I just have to get through June, to my week off and trip to Ireland for wedding shenanigans in July. I’m wishing my life away. I think it’s the NHS that does that to you.

In a minute, I’m going to go run a very hot bath and pour myself a glass of rum and coke and just lie there with a book for a bit. It’s one of the most relaxing things I know, even if we have the world’s tiniest bath that is roughly the right length for a twelve year old. I can cope, somehow. Have a pile of new books to read, none of which are Warhammer related, and I think I’m going to start with Raven: Blood Eye. Nothing like viking violence to relax to.

Local village mediaeval fayre on Saturday: that’s usually worth a giggle and there’s invariably the opportunity to drink some very nice beer, so I shall try to get through tomorrow, when I believe our systems are going down AGAIN as they put fresh hamsters into the wheel and look forward to the weekend.

Onwards. Onwards and upwards!

(But at least Accursed Eternity is written…)

Busy Busy

Busy.

In an entirely good way. Well, mostly good anyway.

First of all… latest position on the ongoing war with Sky. After a series of increasingly incompetent emails in which they repeatedly called me Miss Hawkins, I have made the decision to cancel my account. This was after they offered me Sky+HD for the third time despite me patiently telling them that if I wanted that service, I’d have asked for it in the the first place. They also seemed to get a bit confused when I asked them why they have a picture of a pretty Sky+ box with small print saying “normal price of Sky+ £49” and then try to charge existing customers £99 for the same product.

Silly Sky.

Anyway, as of this morning, I requested they cancel my account. I bought a Freeview box on Thursday and it works beautifully. Problem solved, and the best part of £300 per year saved. Bonus!

Over the weekend, I finished writing the first draft of Accursed Eternity. I’m pretty pleased with it, although it’s felt a lot harder to write than The Gildar Rift. There’s just something about the length of a novella that feels awkward. Regardless, I’m within the word limit (although that may change after my first edit and require some deletion) and I stuck fairly closely to my original synopsis. Reckon it’ll be with my editor by the end of this week at which point I can move onto the next project. They really are keeping me very busy.

As such, with the sheer volume of writing work and the ‘day job’, I’ve not had much chance of late to spend at the Black Library Bolthole. It had a bad week after some spambot got hold of it and caused all sorts of chaos. This led to a reset of the board’s skinning and template options. There are one or two other little hiccups that are waiting to be ironed out. I miss being over there, although when I looked in briefly, the mod team seem to have stuff pretty well in hand. People are busy with their submissions for the Black Library’s open window. It’s nice to watch the enthuasiasm and the way that the majority of those who post in the Shoutbox are helping each other out. It’s what the site was put together for in the first place. So that’s all well.

Eurovision was last night. I’ve been a huge fan of Eurovision for a long time; not for the music, but for the sheer spectacle of it all. Things seem to get increasingly wild and crazy as time goes by. I have to say now, though… the voting is tedious. It’s always been political, but the sheer quantity of countries now involved in the voting process means that it takes almost as long to get through as the twenty five songs themselves. Anyway, despite an exceptional showing by Moldova, who were wearing pointy hats and featured a woman dressed as a fairy on a unicycle, Azerbaijan won with a typically bland and sub-standard song and performance. Graeme Norton observed that at least Azerbaijan were one of the few countries still partaking in Eurovision who could actually afford to put the thing on next year. Ireland were probably cacking themselves at the point Jedward went into the lead.

The German organisers put on a pretty good show, though. All kudos to them.

Today I’ve largely been doing very little other than sorting some bits and pieces out and am presently sat here watching The Spy Who Loved Me, which is one of the better James Bond films. Plus… Lotus Elite that turns into a submarine. What’s not to like?

Busy busy.

EDIT

For the person who came to the site with the search term ‘Primary Instinct Silver Skulls PDF’, may I point you here?

All Good Things…

I have to go back to work tomorrow. This sucks majorly, but I can’t really complain too much. I’ve had a wonderful eleven days free of stress and worry. No anxieties over patients slipping through the net, no worries about how fecking big the Meeting of Doom will be… of course, I effectively have two weeks worth of work to catch up on so that won’t be fun. Have to keep grinning and bearing it though; for now at least it pays the bills. Eyes are well and truly peeled for an alternative though – that’s for sure.

We got back home from Ireland on Friday night – arrived in Stranraer at 10.15pm and were home by 1.30am. Nothing on the roads, just a straight-through run that was kept lively by a game of Word Association. We started with Aardvark and by the time over an hour had passed, we had ended up somewhere in the Worlds of Warhammer. Got home and pretty much crashed.

Went to the pictures on Saturday to see ‘Thor’, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Dearly Beloved was grumpy largely because they didn’t use the Ultimates outfit (he hates the original one, I liked the blend of the two). But the Asgard visuals were lovely and for my money, Chris Hemsworth made a fabulous Thor. He was quite easy on the eyes as well. Sounded just like Heath Ledger though, which was odd.

So the pictures and the following meal out marked the end of what was probably our first proper family few days away in quite some time. Whenever we’ve taken Small Son anywhere, it’s inevitably been to a LRP event and whilst he has always had fun, he really seemed to enjoy himself in Ireland. He went back to his dad’s yesterday full of stories. The house is very, very quiet without him.

Today saw me properly get back to Accursed Eternity. Have eked out around 1,500 words so far today and honestly don’t think I’ll push it. There may be another writing spree in a while, but what came this morning flowed nicely which is always satisfying. The story itself is still holding its shape well enough although I can see where I’m going to be doing some editing when I’ve finished. I have found the 30,000 word thing to be… well, I’ve used the word weird to describe it but that doesn’t really convey what I’m feeling. Short stories of around 10k are easy to write. They’re self-contained and the pacing is easy to maintain. Whilst writing The Gildar Rift, I had no problem with that either, despite the initial terror of the word count.

Still, nearly there. Stay on target… stay on target… Plus, I’m loving my Star Dragons. The Inquisitor less so.

Gone back to reading Robin Hobb’s Liveship trilogy on a whim and I’m really glad I did. I had forgotten completely how wonderfully that woman writes. The characters in the Liveship books are so vivid and sympathetic – even the less pleasant ones – that you feel there with them. Lovely escapism in those stories. Am glad I pulled them off the shelf again.

So as of tomorrow, I’m back to normal. I feel relaxed from my time off, certainly, but for the first time I can remember since being in this job, have a creeping sense of dread about going back. That’s usually my cue to find something new…