At the end of the year

 

 

So goodbye to 2017, a year that started out in a bad place but ends rather more favourably.

This time last year I was seriously unwell, in and out of hospital, with a crashed immune system and had had to postpone my scheduled cochlear implant. The decision to put me on Ibrutinib at the end of Jan turned things around; my white cell counts recovered to near normal levels though at the expense of considerable joint pain. I was able to resume a social life, albeit restricted by my deafness. That changed in the summer with my successful implant. It is not my original hearing back but provides a good level of functional hearing, though it is overwhelmed by high noise situations, and listening to music doesn’t currently work.

The reviews for Exile and Nandor continue to be gratifyingly positive though not accompanied by any substantial sales. It was great to be shortlisted for the BFS Best Newcomer Award for Exile and gave me a reason to go Fantasycon, though the con crud I picked up there turned into a chest infection that eventually needed IV antibiotics and week in hospital to shift it.

My ‘faery serial killers in the New Forest’ contemporary fantasy novel remains unsold, though it is currently on an editor’s desk at a major publisher. My current work-in-progress, a ‘more epic’ fantasy adventure is now over halfway in first draft and crawling slowly forward.

A major issue in the second part of the year has been the decline in my mother’s health. She is 96, but back in the summer was still mobile enough to be taken out for a drive into the forest or to the beach. This is no longer the case. She does not move from her bed without a lot of assistance and needs considerably more care than last year. She did not know me the last couple of times I saw her.

At the close of the year my own health is again in question. A blood test just before Christmas showed an alarming drop in my white cell count. My consultant feels the Ibrutinib is responsible for the drop and has taken me off it. With injections of a bone marrow stimulant my count recovered and I will have another bone marrow biopsy next week – oh joy! – that will determine the future direction of treatment. It may be that I will have a period with major medication in 2018. That would get the year off to a good start.

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Fantasycon

I survived Fantasycon, didn’t win the award I was shortlisted for but hey, it is still a huge honour to have been nominated.  My hotel (the Park Inn) comfortable enough but the bar prices were high (£5.10 for a 330ml bottle of beer!). It was also about 10 mins walk to the con so not ideal for the evenings when my knees and ankles were reminding me of their distress.

I managed OK in the panels if I sat at the front but conversations around the bar were definitely difficult. If you spoke to me at the bar and got an odd answer (or none at all) it is probably because I didn’t hear you clearly.

I met in the flesh a bunch of new Facebook friends, 2 people came to my reading (but did seem to enjoy it)  and I had useful conversations with several editors about my unpublished contemporary fantasy novel – so job done.

If my health holds up, I should be able to do more cons so maybe see you in Chester and Harrogate next year.

 

September update

We were in southern Spain last week for a bit of late summer sun and had a very lazy time. Sat around the pool, drank cold beer and read Mark Lawrence’s ‘Red Sister’ and pretty good it was; Mark Lawrence does Harry Potter – well almost. A young girl with prodigous gifts is trained as a warrior nun, and being a Lawrence novel the story is several shades darker than HP.

Saw the haematology consultant today and she is happy with my condition. The joint pain associated with my medication is slowly improving and I feel well. So I’m off to Fantasycon this weekend. I just had to be there on the off-chance that I win the ‘Best Newcomer’ award for which I’m shortlisted. Looking forward to catching up with a lot of people I haven’t seen for a couple of years. Just bear with me if we’re in a noisy environment – it might overload my implant and I’ll struggle to hear you.

Cover art for ‘Nandor’

Nandor cover.jpg

Less than a year ago, Aron of Darien risked his life to deliver Nandor from its enemies. Now a new peril threatens; Lady Celaine is abducted and the bonds of friendship and honour demand Aron returns once again serve the Earl of Nandor. The road to rescue leads them to the infamous city of Keshan and, beyond to a war zone where they face a barbarian horde. For Aron the stakes are higher than ever as he faces demons and traitors and a decision that will change his life.

Due out in November.

Health update: I saw the Haematologist last week and my blood results are stable. No further treatment is planned. I have an appointment on Friday to be assessed for cochlear implants. I very much hope I’m accepted as these offer the prospect of some functional hearing again.

 

Videos

Two videos have just gone live featuring a short interview with me discussing my novel ‘Exile’  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TJdG1rkY-Qc  and longer one with me reading chapter 1  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hcvasKnJlV8

These were made by my brother-in-law and I think he’s done a fine job.

Book 2 is currently scheduled for release in November and, in keeping with the naming protocol of the series, may well be called ‘Nandor’. Cover art should be available soon.

The Importance of the Committed Reader

I had an old friend visit yesterday, someone who is listed in the acknowledgements of ‘Exile’ for their very considerable contribution. She was one of my first readers back when there was less than half the story written. She read what there was and liked it a lot. Up until then ‘Exile’ was just a project I did a bit on in between writing short stories; under the circumstances there was no reason to expect that it was any good. Her response was among the first to indicate that the story worked and was really worth pushing forward with.

After that she became a valued muse. She would nag me about progress, each new chapter would be sent, discussed with her and reworked, further directions storyboarded. Her enthusiasm for the story kept me writing because I was writing for someone.

I liked writing that way. I know some authors hate the idea of showing anyone their work while it is in progress, but I’m the opposite. I loved being able to storyboard the next chapter with someone invested in the story. There are chapters in ‘Exile’ that would not have been written if not for her input. I’m sure it is a better book for her involvement.

My other books were not written this way, I was on my own. Career, marriage and children have all conspired to take my muse from me. But I still miss having someone to brainstorm the next chapter with.

 

More reviews of ‘Exile’ have come in and they are still strong but I need more. I can’t get enough. It’s not a problem. Really, I can handle it; but please if you’ve read it write it up.

A narrator for the audiobook of ‘Exile’ has been chosen and the result should be out in November. All the tweaks and edits for ‘Return to Nandor’ have been done and I’m awaiting first sight of the cover art.

 

My last trip to the Haematology consultant was satisfactory; my blood results are stable so no further treatment is scheduled. I have an appointment with the implant clinic for early October to assess me for cochlear implants.

I’m off to Ireland for a holiday shortly and my chosen reading is ‘The House of Shattered Wings’ by former T-Partyer Aliette de Bodard.