Monthly Archives: December 2015
As you may have seen in the news, York has been underwater and we, where we live have had a white knuckle few days and while it’s calm and dry for now, Storm Frank may just tip the river over the edge. But at our end of the river Ouse, everything has held steady and we’ve to count our blessings every day that the flood defenses have done what they were supposed to. But that’s right now and I want to look at my 2015.
After a hard 2013 and an even tougher 2014, this year for me has brought many blessings and I’m grateful for all of it. Those who were close know that during the end of 2013 I was struggling and by 2014 I’d descended into a near breakdown situation. Some events were caused by my own naive decisions and some by things that were out of my control. I walked into January this year with a new positive and feisty attitude and was ready to recover and get better and once I get it into my head to do something nothing stops me. With the help of family and friends, the recovery for me was a smooth one and part of the healing process was to focus on the writing.
I was working on the fourth Mina Book and playing around with a story on Matthew Hopkins at the start of the year. The new positive energy was driving both projects forward, but admittedly, my own self-confidence in my work took a little longer to catch up. Then by the middle of the year, I found someone who boosted it.
While doing a formatting project for David Baker the author, he told me about the editor he used. I’d been mulling around the idea for a while. Funds being the biggest issue, but then I took the plunge. Surely this guy would tell me if I was wasting my time.
John Hudspith has been one of the greatest investments I’ve ever made. He has near on finished editing The Mina Marley Chronicles: Micka and Me and has given constructive and positive feedback. This has given me the extra confidence knowing that I’m good enough and my next challenge in the coming year is self-promotion, which I admittedly am rubbish at.
I also started a fantasy epic which I’m writing with a new author and good friend Daniel Hinsley and I can honestly say I’m excited at the work we’ve already done and what there is left to do.
So 2016, I will be promoting a lot more, investing in signings and book fairs and getting the word out there that I’m around. I also will be sending Hopkins to John for editing once he’s done with Mina, which I’m sure he will love. Fingers crossed anyway.
My 2016 projects and releases will be Hopkins’ Last Witch, a fictional tale centred around the historical figures of Matthew Hopkins and John Stearne who in the 1640’s, during the Civil War, sent around 200 people in East Anglia to their deaths as witches. The story focuses on both Matthew and a fictional character Sinead Crowley accused of murdering her lover with witchcraft. I’m hoping that it will make people look at the events and character Hopkins a little differently.
Also I will be continuing to write the fantasy with Dan, which is based on the world where our seasons come from. It’s a coming of age tale of how one young man is thrust into power while he struggles with his own demons, while the once queen of Winter tries to find her own place in a world that no longer wants her.
Then there’s the final Mina Marley book, which promises to be an explosive and surprising ending to a series that I’ve loved. It’s a bittersweet goodbye, but I’ve loved every moment with them all in Supton.
So that’s my goal for next year and I must say I’m looking forward to some serious writing and meeting some amazing people. So once again thank you all for your support and I will see you on the other side.
Apart from writing, I’ve managed to squeeze in some reading and some from writers that I’d not read before. So my seasonal blog focus’ on my favourite reads of 2015.
The first one is Kate Quinn’s Mistress of Rome, because it’s one of the last that I’ve read. This was one of those books that I couldn’t put down from the first page.
Another I thoroughly enjoyed was by MJ Logue The Smoke of her Burning. My initial interest was peaked when I found out that the story was based around the battle at Selby during the English Civil War. Then I got to know the author and was asked to read it pre-release. It had all the elements of a good story. Humour, tension and bloody good characters.
Conn Iggulden’s War of the Rose series was one that I started this year. Already starting book two, Iggulden’s writing just brings history and characters alive.
Praetorian is another good read by SJ Turney. I love his Marius Mules series, but I think I loved this a little more. The characters were great and believable, with a lot of action. It’s definitely a book to get your teeth into.
Ben Kane is one of my favourite authors and I enjoyed his 2015 release Eagles at War. Reading this, Kane had created characters that left me torn between which character’s side I stood on. I love them both equally and both being on opposing ends left me conflicted. I can’t wait to read the next installment and find out where it takes me.
And finally there’s Stephen Lloyd Jones’ The String Diaries and Written in the Blood. I was recommended both and very much like Kate Quinn’s, I couldn’t stop reading this. The story centred around a family and their curse of being chased by an ancient shapeshifting race. From the very first page it’s fast paced and breathtaking. I loved both books and can’t wait to see if he writes a third.
This year I’ve been so privilaged to read so many new books and meet some great authors. These are just snippets of my 2015 reading.
With the winter season finally taking hold, the effects of Storm Desmond has thankfully not affected where I live. The River Ouse holding steady for the time being anyway. With so many losing so much, it makes you feel grateful for every blessing you can. Something that is becoming abundantly obvious is that every one of us should be grateful every day for waking up warm, alive and safe, because so many don’t or can’t.
Religion has played high on the media’s topic and at this time of year there are many religious festivals. From Christmas to the Winter Solstice. Our household is a dual faith one, my daughter being a catholic and myself a pagan. We celebrate both festivities and acknowledge the message that all the festivals bring, which is unity, family and love.
For me as a pagan, it’s a time where all my harvest has been gathered and now I rest and wait for the return of the Sun God who is borne from the Goddess. I decorate my house with tinsel and lights to encourage the Sun’s return and have a Christmas tree. I don’t care that it’s called a Christmas tree, because it is what it is. When it’s time for the tree topper, my daughter and I hold it in our hands together and say a prayer, asking the old and new Gods to bless the house and to welcome the Christmas Spirit in with its joyous energy.
When it comes to the tree, many people are OCD about colours, themes and what’s modern etc. I’m not, I like to use my tree as a place to hang memories. I hang decorations that were once my gran’s and my mum’s. Ones that my daughter made and my ex mother in law made. As well as those that I’ve just liked. My tree is a mis mash of colours and sizes with both coloured and white lights. It’s far from perfect, but it has meaning.
I also dress my altar with gold and red candles, a bowl of orange cloves, rosemary, holly and cinnamon. This is my acknowledgement to the pagan Gods.
So when people ask me what I do at Christmas as Pagan, it’s easy, I do pretty much what everyone else does. There’s a lot traditions that have pagan foundations, but one of the key messages we must take forward into the next year is about respect. No matter what we believe or don’t we must respect one another.
Someone once told me that in days of old the truth was held in a large mirror. When it was smashed the pieces spread far and wide and each one of us has only a piece of that mirror, but if we all put our pieces together then the truth would be revealed and I think that’s a strong story to think about. No one has the right answers, but we all have a little piece. Work together and show respect and the world may just be a better place.