New Year – new sh#t


This post will come as no surprise to those who caught my Facebook updates over Christmas and New Year. For those who did not let me summarise: things went very badly wrong!

My white blood cell levels crashed and I was twice admitted to Frimley Park Hospital with infections my immune system could not cope with. I have now been prescribed a new regime of chemotherapy with a single agent, Ibrutinib which I will start on Monday. This is a new treatment but everything I have read about it sounds very positive.

This inevitably meant that my cochlear implant surgery, which should have been yesterday, has been postponed until my white blood cell count improves. This may be several months, so I’m not going to be getting out to Cons, writing group meetings etc until the summer.

In other news: physical copies of Nandor, book 2 of the Nandor Tales, are now available. The e-book version has been out for a month or so, but there are as yet no reviews (hint!). The audiobook of Exile has been delayed due to the illness of the narrator, but I’m told it should be available in Feb.


Feb update

So a month has passed, and now I think I can tell you a bit about what I mentioned in the last blog post.

Those of you who know me will be aware that I enjoy a good quiz and am somewhat competitive. It will come as no surprise that I might put myself forward for a well-known TV quiz. I did, was accepted and on Fri Jan 27th filmed an episode. I do not yet know when it will be screened and will post the date when I know.

I went to watch Southampton play at St Marys. They are going down. That is all.

Welcome to 2023

Nearly the third week of January and well past time I updated. My partial excuse for this tardiness is that I came down with a lurge on Boxing Day which I passed on to Mary (or we caught from the same source) which wiped out NYE and required a couple of weeks of antibiotics to subdue. I’m recovered now and, in general, my health remains stable and the Venetoclax continues to work.

Writing-wise I am working on book 2 of my Eternal Warrior project. Book 1 -“Reborn” – remains unsold after positive comments from the Baen reading panel and Storm Publishing last year and a std rejection this month from Bookouture. I will continue to seek suitable publishers for it while working on book 2, but if I end up self-publishing that it not going to happen until the first draft of book 2 is complete at least. Truth be told, book 2 is going rather slowly and I would welcome a major flash of inspiration on it.

I went to see Southampton play Man City last week expecting to see them lose. Instead they played them off the park. That, and the subsequent victory at Everton, gives me some hope that they may claw their way out of the hole they are in. Still need a decent striker and it’s a shame it won’t be Danny Ings.

Pardon me for vague-booking, but I am doing something interesting next week which I cannot tell you about. As soon as I can it will be on here.

Not going to be getting out much for a while

I had surgery this week to correct a bunionette (Tailor’s bunion) on my right foot. This has been a problem for a while and has been getting worse. I now have to be non-weightbearing on my right foot for 2 weeks – which makes getting up and down stairs challenging. Beyond that I have to wear a protective shoe all the time for a further 6 weeks. I foresee a couple of months of intnesice TV watching.

A belated New Year post

I had intended to write something for the New Year, but I was waiting for a couple of big things and didn’t want to post until I knew how they played out.

Big Thing 1 – the sequel to “Shadows of Faerie”, imaginatively titled “Deeper Shadows of Faerie”, will be coming out with Crossroad Press, the publisher of Shadows of Faerie. I don’t yet know when, there is still a copy edit to do and cover art to choose. It is a bit shorter than “Shadows” at 76k and picks up the story straight on the the end of “Shadows”.

Big Thing 2 – I’m not going back to work. Ever since I was certified as fit to return to work by Lilly’s insurers, I’ve been thinking about it, but there are not very many places doing synth chem within sensible driving distance of Lightwater. However, a job came up at Syngenta’s Jealotts Hill site which isn’t too far away, and was pretty much a description of what I had been doing at Erl Wood so I applied. I did a 1st interview before Christmas and a 2nd series of interviews in the middle of Jan. I thought I did a decent presentation and the technical interview went very well. However, I did not get the job. No explanation – my best guess is that they wanted people who are planning on building careers there. So I remain a full-time writer.

June – life has changed.

Life is different this week. As of yesterday I am unemployed. My association with Lilly ended on May31st after 35 and a half years. In better times there would have been a retirement event with speeches, toasts and retirement gifts. But the Erl Wood Research Centre is gone, the site sold and my colleagues scattered to the four winds. That is sad; a lot of great work was done there by good scientists.

The reason for this is good news; Lilly’s insurers have determined that I am fit to return to work. A significant improvement from where I was 4 years ago and it should help with getting travel insurance, but there is no job for me. Accordingly I have taken the pension, but also rebuilt my CV and sent it out for a couple of jobs. After all I have 40 yrs experience as a lab-based scientist and you can’t buy that (though the “not worked for 5 years” thing may count against me).

In other news – we still own my mother’s house and I hope it will be sold by the end of the month. It is now empty but our house is full. We have wardrobes – if anyone wants one please get in touch.

We are both now doubly vaccinated and starting venture out seeing people – small steps back to a normal life.

The sequel to Shadows of Faerie is advancing slowly, the first draft currently stands at 66k words.


I had intended to do a new year update, but stuff I was waiting for took longer to come through so here I am a month late!

I am vaccinated as of Wednesday this week. No noticeable side effects and now need to wait 3 weeks before there is a reasonable level of antibodies. That’s if my damaged immune system is going to make them which is not a certainty. There’s no data on the effect of the COVID vaccines on CLL patients taking Venetoclax, though it is known that the flu vaccine works; just not as well as it does for normal patients.

Back before Christmas I became aware that there was a major problem with the paperback edition of ‘Exile’. It took a while but this has now been rectified and a new version is available from Amazon. If you bought one of the faulty paperbacks get in touch and I’ll send you a revised version.

You may recall I subbed my new epic fantasy project to my agent last summer. I have now heard back from him and he does not want to take it on. He stressed that it was a near miss, and in a healthier book market he might have decided otherwise. The market is very difficult at the moment with so many books having been postponed last year. This is book 1 of proposed series so is not a candidate for self-publishing as any sequels would be a long time off. I’m trying to complete the first draft of the sequel to “Shadows of Faerie” at the moment so I’m not ready for a new project. I’ll think about it after my mother’s house is sold which should be only weeks away now.

Exile in SPFBO

Now that Exile is self-published I entered it in the Self-Published Fantasy Blog Off which is co-ordinated by Mark Lawrence (it was not previously eligible). There’s no entry fee and it has grown a high profile in the years it has been running. This, of course, means there are some very good books entered among the 300 contestants, but nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Exile did not make the first cut. The review is here: (scroll down to Oct 3th) . It is rather disappointing that one of her two main issues with the story concerns a point that is explicitly addressed in the text. However, she found it an enjoyable read even if it did not stand out from the other books for her.

It is still a very worthwhile competition. The books that make the final 10 will all be worth investigating and it will be worth entering next year.

August update

How did it get to August already?

So I haven’t posted for a couple of months and with my health record some of you followers may have been worried. I’m fine, my health is still stable and I’ve been busy working on the next draft of my epic fantasy “Eternal Warrior” (working title). Today’s news is that it is done and I sent it to my agent to see if it will fly. I had to write a synopsis too, which is something every author hates doing, but one got written. I now need to come up with an outline for the second book as this is very much book 1.

Enjoy the summer and stay safe