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As usual, I am late at doing a retrospective of the old year. In fact, I may be more than a year late as I cannot recall if I did one of these last year or not…

Anyway, after being name checked in Russel A Smith’s blog yesterday I have been shamed into doing a new year post of my own…

Eddie the smooth coated fox terrier on a beach with a ball2018 has been a mixed year. I lost two things. One was my full time employment, with redundancy in June. The other, more tragic and personal, was the loss of Eddie, our Smooth Fox Terrier. This last one is still very recent (December) and he will be sorely missed. He has featured both in this blog as ‘Christmas dog’ and also had a small cameo in my first novella publication (Transitions) where he is found eating from an upturned bin during a scene where the hero, Brandon, leaves a love note on Helen’s doorstep. I am sure he would have been the first to tell you that the entire plot of that story was all about him and the bin eating scene was artistically essential for the overall plot of the novel and if you cut it out the whole story collapses.

However, there were also good things in 2018. For one, the loss of employment has allowed more time for writing – both fiction and non-fiction. This has meant that I have now almost completed my second educational resource and will be starting a third later in January. I will be using this blog to announce when these are published so keep an eye out for that. The two current ones are based on the BTEC level 3 Health and Social Care specifications for 2016. The potential future one will be based on the Applied science specification.

I’ve also kicked the fiction writing up a notch. I have been working with a new writing Authors incliding Jacey Bedford and Ruth Long doing a panel at Mancunicon Eastercongroup, courtesy of the wonderful Jacey Bedford who is shown in the photograph from a panel I shared with her at Mancunicon (Eastercon) and that has given me some inspiration and encouragement. I am currently working on two novels. One is a sequel to Gods of the Deep called Gods of the City which will bring us back to the Arcroc and the adventures of Rachel and Everyn. The other currently does not have a name (it was formerly Fortune and Troy but that title no longer works for various reasons and I need a rethink…) but will be set in the Waypoint universe which has already featured in two of the stories in Lurking Miscellany.

Final thing in writing is that I have become a reviewer for the BSFA Review. My reviews have not (at present) made it to the page but are expected to start appearing in the next issue which is due out soon. I have been reading a mix of trad and self published books. Spoiler alert, my review of Lost Gods by fellow Mancunian Micah is largely positive. This has nothing to do with the fact I got to attend the lavish release party

Purple relief figure in Brick lane, LondonIn photography, I have made massive changes. I attended a course at the London Institute of Photography in August. I spent a few days in London with them doing artistic shoots in Brick Lane and the Barbican centre and a few other places.  I learned a lot there and have been applying what I learned to my work. One of the images I took there is shown here – some of the fascinating graffiti in Brick Lane, London. I also traveled to Cyprus to photograph my sister’s wedding, which was an amazing experience and have found a group of local photographers who have been meeting in a pub in Manchester every Wednesday to experiment with interesting photography ideas. I have set up a facebook page to showcase some of my more recent shoots both from those sessions and others.

I also found out that a good friend of mine has recently qualified as a professional photographer and did a residency abroad which was very successful and which makes me very jealous of her. You can see examples of her work here. She is absolutely amazing and I want her to do well if only so that the wonderful photos she took of me and my wife at a friend’s wedding become collector’s pieces in the future :).

For the year to come I am making my usual creative resolution but modifying it. Over the last two years I have made it a policy to do at least one creative thing every day, even if only a small thing (literally a word or two on a document counted). It didn’t matter what it was – writing something, taking a photograph or editing a photograph all counted. However, in the latter half of 2018 I modified the rule a little. Now, instead of being able to do photography OR writing tasks I am being strict and saying that I must do writing every day. I am not making a similar rule for photography as I know that it is often erratic when I can get to do that. However, I am sure there will be more of that to come. The writing every day is essential for the writing group anyway. There must be new stuff for them to critique each meeting and that means I have had to up my volume.

Coming up this year are a number of things.

First of all there is the release of Out of this World Alphas due soon. 15th January is the release date you should put in your calendar. FB_IMG_1545486717540.jpgOr you can click the link and pre-order if you prefer and it will be delivered to your e-reader on the release date. I have a story in this anthology set in the Arcroc that stands between Gods of the Deep and Gods of the City.

Secondly, thanks to the aforesaid Russel Smith, I am working on another anthology which will be based in Manchester. I have the vague concept of a story incubating for that which involves druidic magic.

As for conferences etc. I am not able to make Picocon again this year, which is a shame because I really enjoyed my time there last year. However finances are against me there and, besides, I have two other amazing conferences to get to this year. One of these is Eastercon which this year is in London and gives me the chance to catch up with Frances Hardinge again after too long not seeing her. Regular readers will recall many years ago when she appeared on this blog having done a reading for World Book Night at the Fab cafe. I also did a reading then but I am not sure as many noticed. I am looking forward to a good weekend of panels and talking with people who I tend to only see once a year over Easter…

The other main event this year is like Eastercon only bigger… Worldcon is coming to Dublin this year and as that makes it far more accessible than it has ever been I am going to travel there in August. I have also been involved in the brainstorming sessions for this, which seem to involve a bunch of people sending emails with crazy panel ideas and the rest of us either agreeing with them or making them crazier. No spoilers but I am sure any of you who attend will be in for some treats… I am looking forward to my first Worldcon and will be there with a camera in order to take lots of photos of Dublin to bore you all with.

So that is it… plans for the new year as they currently stand. I hope you all have a good new year yourselves and are successful in any and all ventures you attempt.