Review of Blackest Knights

I have a story in Blackest Knights, an anthology edited by Charles Phipps and published by Crossroad Press, who will be publishing my contemporary fantasy novel next year.

So is it any good? Here’s what I thought of it:

19 fantasy adventure short stories from 15 different authors, many set in the worlds of the their novels, all action-packed and never less than entertaining; there is simply not a bad one amongst them. My standouts were “Gift of the Gaze” by James Alderdice, “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s my Brother” by Allan Batchelder and “Honor is Just a Word” by CT Phipps (who edited and has 3 stories in the anthology). This serves as an excellent sampler of the writing of these talented independent authors
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Full therapeutic dose

I’ve now been on the full therapeutic dose of Venetoclax for 1 week and I still feel fine – no side effects. The lymph nodes in my groin and neck have gone down, and the blood test I took this morning shows the beginning of an improvement with my neutrophil levels above 1; for comparison 4 weeks ago they were 0.6. I hope this is real and will continue. The first real marker is being able to stop the daily Filgastrim injections (bone marrow stimulant).

I also hope there will be good news about the audiobook of Exile soon.

Update – a couple of weeks on

So I’m coming to the end of my second week on Venetoclax, which means I’m now taking 50mg/day and heading for 100mg/day on Wednesday. So far so good, no side effects other than many more trips to the toilet because of the extra fluids I’m drinking to ward off Tumour Lysis Syndrome (look it up, it’s not nice).

 

I took part in the annual Lighwater Village Quiz on Friday with my usual team. I haven’t been able to take part for the last 3 or 4 years, though my team did win without me one year. As usual we won the very demanding 100 question table quiz, and I was able to hear most of the questions as they were read out. We then lost in the semi-final up on stage in the ‘fastest finger first’ buzzer round. Was I restricted by my hearing in answering the questions quickly? Yes, I think so. Would we have beaten the team that defeated us if I was 100%? I doubt it, they were very good and went on to win the title.

New month, new meds

I’m due to start on Venetoclax next week and escalating the dose up to the full 400mg/day will take 5 weeks. Venetoclax is new, so new that I’m the first patient at Frimley Park to take it. So they’re being ultra cautious, and I have to be admitted to be monitored for the first doses and the early escalations. Tumour Lysis Syndrome is one of the major side-effects and that is nasty. Hopefully when I’m stabilised on a suitable dose the other side effects will be tolerable because I’ve got used to feeling good in the past 7 weeks since I stopped Ibrutinib. I’ve been propped up by daily injections of a synthetic bone marrow stimulant which is effective but can’t be used long-term.

So I apologise if I disappear for a month or so while I’m getting used to this new stuff. I hope to reappear in March and get to Eastercon and maybe a Southampton match or two (though given their current form I’m not sure I want to see them).

The current work-in-progress is trundling along and I hope to have a finished first draft this year.