Happy New Year – 2019!

As evening approaches, I imagine people discussing their resolutions for the New Year. I’m not one for resolutions. Instead I try to stick to the simple motto: keep trying to do better. In life as in writing, with practice, hopefully we improve.

Reflecting on 2018, the highlight was seeing Return of the Mantra published; my first book in print, nestled on my bookshelf. It feels like a lifetime ago since I took pen to paper, writing descriptions of a drought-ridden world, and life inside the mountains. Now my ‘to write’ list is long. There are sequels, and other worlds floating around in the ether, one by one slowly taking shape.

I’ve been blown away by the support of people I’ve met along the way. My partner, Kate’s unwavering faith in stories still to come. Friends and family who turned out for launches in Holmfirth and Exeter. All the people who have read my book and taken the time to offer encouragement. All the followers of this blog, and those on FB and twitter. All the people who listened to me read and speak at events, and showed interest and encouragement with their questions. As I’ve said before, self-doubt accompanies the journey of writing, and support, however small, goes such a long way.

It’s been great to have the opportunity to participate in various events, catching up with my publishers and meeting other Stairwell Books authors. And working alongside the lovely folks of Exeter Authors Association. It gives inspiration for writing, but also reading. I have to confess, while in the middle of a draft, which I have been for the past 6 months, I have difficulty concentrating on reading other books, but I did have a great find this year. ‘Who Fears Death’ by Nnedi Okorafor was my firm favourite read of the year; now to find more of her books.

It’s also been great to read other people’s blogs. A favourite is the site, ‘So AfroChic!’ Click here. A young South African woman talks life, love, starting a creative business, domestic abuse, relationship advice etc etc… It’s personal, honest, raw and I love it! Also takes me back to living in South Africa, and the rich, harsh tapestry of township life.

In contrast, another site is ‘The Dimension Between Worlds’. Click here. I was fortunate to meet the writer, Dan Stubbings, at FantasyCon in Chester this year. After hearing about my book, he offered to review it so I sent him a copy. The review now features on his site, so it could be said that I’m biased. But I’m not. For anyone interested in reading fantasy, this is a great place to find new books for the reading list, with in-depth, insightful, honest reviews.

So while I don’t go in for resolutions, I’m looking forward to the New Year, exploring new ventures with my writing, painting new pictures, discovering new stories. Whatever your hopes for the New Year, I hope you find them, and wish you a happy, healthy, 2019.

Happy New Year!

Winter Nights

There’s a cold wind blowing and grey clouds brewing. Time to ‘batten down the hatches’. Apparently, in winter, we actually produce hormones that make us sleepy, designed to restore body, mind and soul. Well, whilst I appreciate cosying up on a cold winter night, my mind still races on. It seems, for me at least, the writing struggles to keep pace with the thinking.

Sharing Stories

 

It’s the Monday after Exeter’s first literary festival, and I’m left with the question, ‘Do we stop to think how much we take for granted?’

I’m thinking about the main character in Return of the Mantra; a young woman who grows up in a society where freedom of speech, books, stories and historical truth are controlled.

FantasyCon 2018

Last weekend was busy, with a trip to Chester to attend my first FantasyCon. It was amazing, and slightly overwhelming, to meet so many writers and readers of fantasy fiction. I took the plunge and signed up to the programme, including joining a fantasy reading panel. I read from Return of the Mantra, the part where Suni’s life irreversibly changes after she experiences tragedy. She poses as a boy and heads off to the mines in search of her estranged father, but life at the mines isn’t what she anticipates. Survival will depend on keeping her female identity secret, and on courage as she discovers her connection to ancient gifts passed down in bloodlines from the days of the tribes.

Inspiration

For me, painting is like storytelling; another medium to creatively put down thoughts. I started painting years ago, then when we bought our current house and white-washed the walls, I saw blank canvasses I was driven to fill. As with my first book, Return of the Mantra, thoughts born from time spent in Sudan and South Africa would feature in those canvasses.