Refilling The Well

My first post of 2022. It’s been a heck of year already with January seemingly lasting the length of seven months and bringing not only the plague to our house but a raft of other illnesses as well. It ended up a very disjointed month that disrupted exercise, work and other family things. Thankfully, January has cleared off and February is here.

Unsurprisingly, in January my writing struggled. Looking back on it, it’s probably no surprise with everything that went on, but when you’re in the thick of it, it can be hard to get some perspective.

I started a new project on 1st January as is my custom, it’s one I felt pretty good about and I made some decent progress with (at least volume wise) over the first couple of weeks of the month. For some reason, the project just didn’t click. The idea I’d been so jazzed about over Christmas just didn’t light me up when I hit the keyboard and by the time I was about fifteen thousand words into it, I already hated it. It’s not an experience I’m used to – dreading coming to the keyboard and it’s not one I enjoyed, obviously.

I took the difficult decision to scrap it and move on. The idea is a good one, perhaps I just wasn’t writing it from the right perspective or in the right mindset etc. Regardless, I put it on hold. Like most writers, I never delete anything. That’s just daft.

Around this time, I had to isolate due to Covid and perhaps went a little stir crazy. My other love is photography and I’ve been working hard to master composition as well as improve on LightRoom. With writing being frustrating combined with being trapped inside, I wasn’t really excelling at anything. I always push myself creatively to make the most of my time, this writing problem began to affect my mental health. The thought of not being productive is a constant fear of mine.

However, when my Covid isolation period finished, I set out with the camera. I found how amazing it is that a small change of scenery can blow open your whole perspective. Forty minutes outside snapping pictures and I came home with not only some cool pictures to sort out (see below) but also a bunch of story ideas.

I think in my desperation to place a novel and get my name out there that way, I’ve neglected a multitude of shorter ideas. I’ve knowingly pigeonholed myself into writing certain projects. It’s only now that I’ve blasted my mind open with some fresh air, that I can step back and see that.

Anyway, armed with some weird photos and a bunch of ideas, I’ve completed two short stories in the last two weeks and am working on a plan for a longer project.

I guess the point I’m trying to make here is that sometimes we get stuck in a rut, even if it is a highly productive one, and occasionally, a change of perspective – be it a walk in a new park, a trip to the city or whatever it may be, can blow the doors off and open our minds to new ideas.

It’s great to be back at the keyboard with some vigour, it’s even better to be allowed outside again.

Until next time.


Writing Wrap-Up 2021

I love the autumn and the winter. There’s something really nostalgic and heady about nearing the end of the year. A lot of people see this as a depressing time of year, but I love it. It’s a chance to look back at the year that was and look forward to the year ahead.

2021 was a fire in a bin full of human faeces in some respects, the pandemic still keeps us in its grip and impacts our daily lives, not to mention the mental health of many of us. That said, in writing terms, it’s been pretty successful in its own little way.

Books & Cool Stuff

Dark Missives

Come on, as if I wasn’t going to mention my debut collection being born into the world. Dark Missives came out in April and to be honest, the response overwhelmed me. The reviews have been universally great and I’m grateful to everyone who took the time to buy a copy, read the thing, write down their opinion or tell a friend about this book.

In truth, the book sold better than I thought it would. I don’t think my marketing game is as strong as it could be. I’ve dabbled in a few things – podcast appearances, paid ads, promos. Some have worked better than others. All of them have taught me things to use for the next book.

It’s a great feeling to have a product out there that I’m proud of. Let’s hope Dark Missives hasn’t released readers from its disgusting grip just yet…

The Other Stories – Best Of Volume 1

It was a huge honour to learn that one of the stories I’ve had published by Hawk & Cleaver at The Other Stories Podcast made the cut for their inaugural Best Of volume. The story in question is Collaboration, which made quite a splash with certain readers. It’s been brilliant to see my work appear not only on the podcast but in this tome alongside writers that I really admire like Kev Harrison, Michael David Wilson and Luke Kondor.

The chaps at Hawk & Cleaver did a great job on the book itself. It’s a magnificent hardback volume with an incredible cover. The high level of production matches the overall quality of the podcast they put into the world. I’m grateful to be involved with the podcast and proud to have made the cut for this fantastic book.

The Witching Hour

Sticking with the guys at Hawk & Cleaver, I was lucky enough to be part of a small band of writers that contributed an episode to their superb Halloween special – The Witching Hour. This series of podcasts launched on Halloween week and centres on the participants of a ritual deep in the woods, each episode is told from a different character’s perspective and reveals a new layer of horror to proceedings. My thanks to Andy Conduit-Turner and Jasmine Arch in particular for their attention to detail and hard work in bringing the story together.

Overall Writing Update

Another very productive year at the keyboard if not one that has yet produced much to show for it.

In the first part of the year, I completed work on The Clearances, my near-future, dark thriller. It’s a novel that I’m really proud of. I completed the first draft, then did all the work on Dark Missives before going back and editing/rewriting the book a few times. In the end, I think it’s a strong piece of work. It’s yet to find a home but has had a number of near misses. Keep your fingers crossed for 2022 , everyone!

Following on from The Clearances, I also finished the first draft of another novel – Limited Series. This one is… tricky, to say the least. The idea around it is solid. Without saying too much, it’s set on a TV set and has elements of both crime and folk horror intertwined. It’s part murder mystery, part small town horror. The first draft is complete but needs serious work in order to click into place. It still runs through my mind a lot. A massive edit is required.

By the end of 2021, I’d also like to complete a draft of a ghost story novella that I’m working on. It’s a little bit of a nostalgic piece, set in the mid-90’s and refers to a time and situation of my life that I look back on very fondly. I can’t say too much more about it yet, but it does already have a home. Which leads us nicely on to…

Plans for 2022

Sadly this part is a little vague on the details, but the main thing is that there will be at least two different books coming out next year with my name on the cover.

Territory, my arctic, rural horror novella will be hitting shelves in the first half of 2022. This will be a Northern Republic release and I’ll be doing as much as possible of the production myself. I’ve tooled up and skilled up in certain areas and I also have a few plans to document my journey from Word doc to finished, final book. I’m really excited to finally get this book out there. It’s hit the spot for a few beta readers so I’m hoping a wider audience will like it too.

I’ve also got a collaborative book coming out next year. Again, this will be another Northern Republic production that I’ll be taking the lead on. This is the home that I have already found for my ghost story novella. I’m not sure on timescales for this one yet, between the collaborators, we are doing everything ourselves but keep an eye out in the coming months for some news around this one.

There may be more releases to come in 2022, but I guess I’ll just have to roll with the punches and see what comes along.

On the writing front, it might be another two novel year, it might not. I’ve got one book in need of serious rewriting but there is another novel idea that I’ll be starting as soon as 2022 is on us. Whatever happens, thanks for reading this post and (hopefully) my work in general. Enjoy your festive period, even if it brings nothing more than time off work and time with family and friends.

Take care and hopefully I’ll see you back here in 2022.