A Year in Review

With only a few remaining hours I can confidently state that 2021 was a year of a great many things. Some of them have been good, some of them bad and some of them have been spectacularly stupid. On a personal level, it’s mostly been good mixed with stupid and while the stupid has been infuriating, I know I’ve been incredibly lucky.

On the writing front, though, it’s been a spectacular year. With two books published, a third due out next month, three more in varying stages of drafting and plans laid for the last book in the series, plus one entirely new short story… I think I may have overachieved!

So what will 2022 bring?

Well, first up will be finishing the publication process for Gresley by getting her available in eBook stores not named after a large river in Brazil. There’ll also be a bit of housekeeping on the site.

The first fiction of the year will be a piece for Friday Fiction. I’m in the planning stages for that right now and I’m aiming to post on the 14th (all things being well).

Valkyrie now has an actual date for release of 18th January, so there’ll be pre-order links going up in the next week-ten days for the eBook. As with Sekhmet, there won’t be a pre-order option for the paperback, but as soon as the pb links are live, I’ll share them.

Cambiante’s first draft is just about done. There’s a few rough patches that need smoothing and a climax I currently hate (this is normal for me; I think Sekhmet’s climax got five rewrites and Valkyrie’s has had three, so far…!) but the overwhelming bulk is written. Next comes editing (probably starting in late January or early February) and cover design (February, probably) all with a view to publishing in April.

Mistika is the third book I’m hoping to get released this year (though much, MUCH later in the year!) and that will be the project I start work on next. In theory, I have about a third of it already written, but a good chunk of that needs revamping so I’m probably going to start over with a completely clean draft and just lift the bits I want to keep. My target with this is to be finished with the first draft around about the end of April with a view to publishing in August/September if everything goes well.

Once Mistika is a complete first draft, I will pick up with Sage and get that to completed first draft status as well. I’m not currently planning for Sage to be published in 2022, but that may change, depending on how other things go. That will then leave me the back half of the year for working on the final book (for now) in the series. That definitely won’t be done in 2022 but it would be nice to have a completed first draft by this time next year!

And between all of that there’ll be more short fiction, Music Monday posts, some reviews and some other fun stuff along the way.

Happy New Year to you – and happy reading!

Music Monday: Thank God It’s Christmas

The final seasonal Music Monday is (probably) a little bit more familiar: it’s the Queen song and you can’t go wrong with a bit of Queen!

It was released as a single in 1984 and surprisingly, it wasn’t a massive hit (Brian May thinks this was because of the lack of a video; the fact it overlapped with “Do They Know It’s Christmas” may also have been a bit of a factor, though!), but it’s a gorgeous gem of a track.

If Tom Petty’s Christmas song is the one that gets your party started, Jona Lewie’s makes you think and Troika takes you for an afternoon sleigh ride, then this is how you close out the day. It’s a slow hug of a song to dance to when the kids are in bed and things are calming down.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this little series and maybe you’ve found a new Christmas favourite. Music Monday will take a break next week and then the Elsehere Soundtrack will resume for the release of Valkyrie.

You can find my Christmas With a Twist playlist on Spotify.

That’s all for now. Happy reading and listening!

Friday Fiction – Human Touch

The second Friday Fiction post for the month and a very, very different kind of story (though with a similarly troubled gestation!).

I started writing Human Touch about ten years ago as an assignment for an Open University course and ran into a wall. I had a great opening and zero idea of where it was going! For the assignment I ended up writing something very different (that neither I nor my tutor actually liked all that much, so it’s not going to become a Friday Fiction piece!), but I kept the opening on file, reasoning that, sooner or later, I’d know how to end it.

And so to now. After ten years of nibbling away at the project, I was finally able to get it finished, inspired at least partially by current (political) events in various parts of the world. It’s not a happy story (unusually for me) and it’s definitely not seasonal, but it is a story I’m very pleased with.

As yet, I have no plans to revisit this set of characters…but as it does exist in the same universe as the sprawling space saga mentioned in the Project Notes section (though it’s chronologically, about a hundred years prior), I’m not going to say never.

Read Human Touch

Happy reading!

Music Monday: Troika

Veering away from popular music this week, we have the 4th movement from Prokofiev’s Lieutenant Kij√© suite that I’m certain almost everyone will recognise. Even if you don’t know Prokofiev, the theme crops up in plenty of places, including Greg Lake’s “I Believe in Father Christmas”

I’ve adored this piece of music since I was a very wee tiny thing and one of my fondest memories from my teenage years was mastering this on the clarinet for my Grade 4 exam. So much fun (and, uh, just a few squeaks while I was learning – sorry neighbours!)

It’s a simple melody, but with the percussion it always makes me think of taking a sleigh ride through a winter wonderland and I love the freedom that thought brings.

You can find my Christmas With a Twist playlist on Spotify.

That’s all for now. Happy reading and listening!

Music Monday: Stop The Cavalry

It’s another Music Monday and today is the Jona Lewie anti-war song.

It’s not an obvious Christmas song, and yet…it pops up on Christmas compelations with regularity. (I believe this puzzles him, too!) It gets there for several reasons:

  1. The song was a hit in the UK in December of 1980
  2. It features the line “I wish I could be at home for Christmas”
  3. The brass arrangement just SOUNDS like it should be in a Christmas song.

All of these are…tenuous at best, but they all add up. So, while I know it’s a protest song (it’s not even subtle – “Bang! That’s another bomb on another town/While the Tsar and Jim have tea”), I hear it it does make me feel Christmassy…but the lyrics also make me stop and think and recognise just how lucky I’ve been.

You can find my Christmas With a Twist playlist on Spotify.

That’s all for now. Happy reading and listening!

Cover Reveal!

It’s here! I can now reveal the awesome cover for Gresley the Railway Cat, and announce a release date!

This cover has been designed by the fabulous and talented Sabrina at Enchanted Ink Studio and the book itself will be out in eBook a little later on this week, on the 15th. The paperback version should be available not too long after.

Once the sale links are live, I’ll share them here.

For anyone wanting an eBook from another supplier, those links will go up as soon as possible, but they may not be up before Christmas (sorry about that!)

Happy reading!

Friday Fiction – Arrival in Shanghai

This was supposed to go up last week but work issues of both epic and stupid proportions ate my brain. BUT, that just means you have one week less to wait for part two of the Friday Fiction double, so it’s not all bad!

This one is a single scene rather than a complete story and is taken from a prior draft of Ruth Abroad.

The genesis of Ruth Abroad is, as the project notes page hints, quite a long one. It started out in about 2004 as an attempt to write a Chalet School “fill in” novel, to cover the story suggested by one of Elinor M Brent Dyer’s books Gay from China. So the book was supposed to be set in 1930s China (1933 was the year I reckoned) and that was all fine…until I really started doing the research and realised that:

  1. EBD really did only have a very hazy grasp of geography
  2. I don’t care how bad things were for a family in London, they weren’t moving to China with small children in 1933 unless they were Christian missionaries (!) or in the diplomatic service!

Digression: My personal theory is that EBD originally intended to use India and someone (publisher? friend?) suggested she’d already used India a few times, so she just substituted China for India with no regard for the fact that China wasn’t a part of the British Empire and even less regard for the fact that China and India are very, very different places.

Digression over. China was a complete non-starter as a location…but I’d written at least three complete drafts by this point, so I started looking around for a new location, found one (Ceylon/Sri Lanka) and started the process of rewriting, and that’s meant cutting anything that was explicitly and unquestionably Chinese. This scene, as the title suggests, was one of the first to go. It was also one of the most complete bits, and given how patiently people have been waiting for Ruth Abroad, I wanted to share it here.

So here we are. Read Arriving In Shanghai

Happy reading!

Music Monday: Christmas All Over Again

And we’re back with a seasonal series of posts about my favourite Christmas music. For anyone fearing the worst, no, a certain song written by George Michael won’t be featuring. Nor will a certain infamous seasonal track by Mariah Carrey.

Instead, I’m going for the more quirky – and probably rather less played – stuff. Things that you may never have heard before and things that (hopefully) won’t induce you to groan. To kick things off, then, a track by Tom Petty and it was written for the charity album ‘A Very Special Christmas 2’.

So what can I say about this? Well, it’s a very…Tom Petty Christmas song. It has humour (“Long distance relatives/Haven’t seen ’em in a long, long time/Yeah I kinda missed them/I just don’t wanna kiss them!”) and it never ceases to make me smile when I hear it. It’s about the perfect summation of a REAL Christmas holiday, as opposed to the Hallmark version.

There’s no broken hearts or schmaltz and schmoop, just a lot of fun and dancing. Kids having fun. And it finishes with one of the best Christmas wishlists!

You can find my Christmas With a Twist playlist on Spotify.

That’s all for now. Happy reading and listening!