So I’ve not put a lot of new content on here, I know. It’s really going to get in the way of my meteoric stats rise, and that’s a shame, but let me explain.
I’ve been reconsidering where I place my work online, and how best to use my website. For now, I think there’s going to be a lot less new content on here. What you can expect are larger monthly update posts. These will attempt to capture what I’ve been writing and creating elsewhere in the world.
Now of course, you can always check out my writing portfolio page for a master list of everything I’ve written and put out into the world, but here’s what I’ve been up to so far this year:
So at a glance, it looks like I’ve abandoned Ash & Feather for Medium. That’s not entirely true, but going forward a lot of my short-form writing will end up on Medium. Why is that? Honestly, because it pays. Not a lot, but enough to usually cover my phone bill each month, and certainly more than the nothing I was getting out of publishing directly on here.
I also won the February qualifier for Hammer & Tongue Solent. They’re a poetry slam competition, and I’ll be competing in their regional slam in December. If I’m one of the two best poets that night, I’ll go on to perform at the national slam at the Royal Albert Hall! So wish me luck!
Speaking of poetry performance, I’m regularly going to open mic nights and improving my technique, and I’ve started recording my readings. I’m hoping this will lead to a poetry-based YouTube channel, but in the meantime any videos will go up on the Ash & Feather Facebook page.
Itchen to Write has been growing as a platform for affordable, accessible writing workshops across a broad range of disciplines. So far this year we’ve hosted workshops on screenwriting, plot and structure, found poetry, and this month we’re doing editing! You can find out more about our events on Meetup or Itchen to Write’s website.
I’m also teaching a variety of courses for Eastleigh College:
If you’re local to the area and fancy learning a bit more about these subjects, head over to their website and book your place!
My freelance writing work has tapered off somewhat, so if you’re interested in working together, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. I have a wide range of experience in copywriting, fiction writing, and other forms.
As mentioned before, I do have an Etsy shop now. At the moment it’s mostly ceramics and vintage books, but I’m hoping to add a wide range of bullet journal layouts, prints, and planner PDFs in the future. If there’s anything you think would be good to add, let me know and I’ll look into it!
My social media presence has been growing; I’m over 1k followers on Twitter now, and creeping up on 200 followers on Instagram. Neither of these are particularly branded, but I post a lot of nice photography and political memes so if that’s your thing consider adding yourself to a growing crowd of people with excellent taste.
Anyway, I think that’s about it for now. As always, comments and suggestions are always welcome!
We’re closing in on a year of ups and downs, redundancies, temp roles, and dipping my toes in the freelance waters. I’ve made some really positive changes and significant progress on my mental and physical health, and I think 2019 is shaping up to be a fantastic year indeed.
NaNoWriMo, unsurprisingly, was a bust for me. In retrospect, November strikes me as a really inconvenient month to try and write a rough draft of a novel (or at least 50k of a rough draft). There’s Thanksgiving, and Christmas is looming on the horizon. And it’s on the back end of Halloween and Bonfire Night.
But, it doesn’t mean I haven’t been busy! I’m excited to have a few opportunities going:
If you’re interested in working with me on proofreading, editing, or writing, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
It means I’ve been busy, but like a good busy, not the unproductive sort of busy that’s plagued my life for so long. I’m happier producing creative content, and I look forward to sharing all of it with you in the coming year.
If there’s anything you’d like to see more of on this website, please let me know–I’m always looking for new ideas!
It’s a little late, but better late than never. I’ve been thinking about how I’m framing these monthly updates. They’re supposed to be part accountability, part actual news updates to let you guys know what I’m up to when I’m busy not posting. So I might play around with how they’re laid out and what I actually talk about in them. If you’ve got feedback, you know where to leave it.
Whew! And all that while juggling a re-entry into the workaday world, even if only as a temp. There’s been a lot of positive energy and good momentum behind me lately, so don’t be surprised if you see more posts like this, jam-packed with new content and achievements!
I’m also looking for opportunities for freelance writing and editing, so if you like the feel of my writing, please drop me a line.
June wasn’t exactly the rip-roaring month I was expecting, but in many ways I think it’s for the best. There were some reality checks and I’ve really buckled down on assessing my priorities and developing a workable strategy. I started a Patreon to help support my writing habit as well as subsidise Itchen to Write so that I can offer workshops very cheaply or for free depending on the support levels. Currently, Itchen to write relies on donations for its meetings, and the workshops have fees. I’d like to eliminate those because I’m a filthy socialist.
Sue me. Become a patron. Or buy me a coffee.
Additionally, if that’s not your jam or you’re not able, consider doing your shopping on Amazon through my affiliate links. They don’t add to your costs when purchasing, and I get a kickback. You can find affiliate links in all of my book reviews, and anything you buy in the hour following the clickthrough applies, apparently.
I’ve got a lot of projects going at the moment, most are in the startup phase, so hopefully once the foundations have been laid, I can reveal these in their neat little schedules. But I’m really excited about developing new material!
I’m still getting back into the swing of making regular reading time. It’s a bit strange that it’s so hard, because I always enjoy it when I do. A bit like going to the gym, another thing I’ve not done in a long time.
However, we’re getting down to the wire time wise, as I may be starting a new job soon. More on that as and when (and if) it happens. A nice deadline like that is usually really good for my productivity, and I’ve got an exciting TBR pile to work through. So I think it’s fair to say I’ll get several reviews out this month!
I’ve been rapidly growing as a poet, including developing poetry workshops and a short poetry course to offer. My current thing I’m into is found poetry, which I plan to start sharing on my Instagram, so follow now to avoid missing out!
You can also expect to see a greater focus on self-published material from me, and I’ve been laying the groundwork to really diversify my online presence and build a solid fan base, so y’know, watch this space!
And of course, if there’s anything you’d like to see here, let me know!
The year is half over and I’m pretty offended about it if we’re perfectly honest. The humidity is settling in and the heat is rising and it makes it pretty hard to get things done here in a country with no home A/C. But I’ve persevered.
The recovery from April has been a little slower on the visible side of things, but rest assured, my absence here has been supplanted by a surge of activity with my writing group, Itchen to Write, and really working hard on my main projects.
We’ve gotten off track with book reviews and social media scheduling reviews, but I can safely say the ship’s been righted and there are no less than four book reviews forthcoming this month, as well as resuming the social media scheduling series with a look at Later.
As always, please note that my buy links in my reviews are Amazon Associate links, so if you make a purchase I may get a little kickback from that. It doesn’t increase your prices, just helps to support the site.
IT’S PITCH SEASON YOU GUYS.
This month, I’ve got three opportunities to cram my pitch down as many agents’ throats as possible. I’m going to the Winchester Writers’ Festival on 16 June, as well as the TLC Writers’ Day on 23 June in London. These are both amazing events I’m really looking forward to, and as of this writing tickets are still available for both so make sure you get in on that action.
I’m also teaching another poetry introduction towards the latter half of the month, so things are really heating up around here, and for once I don’t mean the muggy weather.
Last month, I had the great pleasure of attending StabCon South’s springtime event at the Jurys Inn in Southampton.
The southern variant of StabCon, a regular, long-running event in Stockport (Manchester for the less geographically inclined).
The focus is on board gaming. There’s no panels, no workshops, just good ol’ fashioned worker placement. Oh, and quite a few tabletop RPG one-shots. And a sci-fi ship crew simulator!
StabCon is local to us, so we didn’t bother with accommodation. However, being located in central Southampton, and in a hotel to boot, there were lots of very affordable options for out-of-towners. We ran into people who had travelled from as far away as High Wycombe, and also Isle of Wighters in for the weekend.
You also had the option of just not leaving the event! It ran 24/7 from 11am on Friday til 11pm on Sunday. A true test of endurance for any self-proclaimed gamer!
With a strict focus on tabletop RPGs and board gaming, there isn’t a cosplay element to this event. So we went as boring ol’ us. Womp womp.
With the venue being located in central Southampton, close to London Road, there’s a plethora of options. There’s the restaurant in the hotel itself, which is exactly what you’d expect: a bit overpriced, but damned convenient, especially given the dismal weather this weekend. But go a bit further afield and options abound: MexiGo, Starbucks, pubs, Subway, etc…
We’ve been several times before, and it’s a great, low-key way to spend a weekend. It’s also an amazing opportunity to dabble in a hobby that frankly can be a little intimidating and have a high cost to enter. Everyone contributes to the available games and helps with teaching newbies, so it’s a good way to try out new games.
If you’re interested in attending, the next event will be in June, with a focus on extremely long, crunchy games. The next standard Stabcon South is in October, with more information here. You can keep up with them on Facebook, and pricing is generally £15 for the entire weekend.
Additionally, the original Stabcon is coming up, and you can find more information here.
April was a wash. I spent the majority of the month just treading water and I think it’s pretty accurately reflected on this site. I’ll be going into why that happened in a much later post I’ve got planned.
This month is already set to get back on track, with two book reviews already scheduled, and last month’s installment of my social media scheduling series being pushed forward to this month. We’re basically going to pretend April didn’t happen.
The submission rejections keep rolling in, but I’m not bothered because rejections still mean progress is being made. You can read a really good article about why rejections aren’t bad here.
And lastly, I’ll be giving another poetry lesson in June, time to be determined. I’m pretty excited for the way my poetry career seems to be inadvertently flourishing.
Let’s start with the biggest news: I was made redundant. I’m hoping that years later I’ll be telling people in a keynote speech about how this was the turning point, and when I really started to thrive as a writer. I’ve also got other opportunities in the pipelines, so in no way whatsoever am I counting this as a defeat!
Additionally, I broke my finger, which I did whine about a little bit on my Twitter, but we’re all mended now. It was my first broken bone in my entire life! I must admit feeling a little underwhelmed.
I have a fresh perspective to make the most of this opportunity, so hopefully you can look out for some big things going forward. I’ve been unemployed before and utterly failed to capitalise on a wide open schedule. Working again has shown me how I took for granted my time, and this time around, I’ll be able to really put out some good writing.
Between various things, my reading’s slipped quite a bit. But I’m hoping to recover on this front along with several others. It’s gonna be a huge exercise in learning to better structure my days.
As always, please note that my buy links in my reviews are Amazon Associate links, so if you make a purchase I may get a little kickback from that. It doesn’t increase your prices, just helps to support the site.
Well, as expected, I bombed out of the first round of NYC Midnight’s Short Story Competition. actually really liking my story. But there’s nothing stopping me submitting my story elsewhere, and I think it’s strong enough to do well outside the constrains of prompts. I’m also waiting to hear results on a couple more competitions I’ve entered.
In more positive news, I was featured on Who Writes Short Shorts? with a short sci-fi story, which you can read here. Additionally, on the 19th of March I had the great pleasure of being a guest instructor on a creative writing course. I taught a two hour lecture on poetry, which went down a treat. It’s looking to become a more regular thing, and may lead to more writing workshops, probably falling under the Itchen to Write umbrella.
Speaking of Itchen to Write, it has its own, standalone website now. So you can find my Hampshire, UK, based writing group here, on Meetup, and on Facebook. With my newfound free time, I’m really looking forward to growing this group!
I’m developing myself as a writer. It’s part of a larger trend of spending more time on myself and prioritising myself and my ambitions. All of my goals fit nicely together, and working towards one works towards all of them, so I’m very excited about what the future holds. And of course, if there’s anything you’d like to see here, let me know!
Madness descends upon a quiet, seaside holiday park in northern Wales, just a short drive from Pwhelli and near Snowdonia. For three days (Thursday-Saturday, missing Sunday which I found odd for a ‘Weekender’ event but hey ho) all the main structures were taken over by stages, computer gaming stations, vendors, cosplayers and board gamers.
In the evenings, shows and concerts abound, merging traditional festival style performances with geek culture.
They’re gearing up for their tenth year running, and you can find out more information on their website.
The Retro Computer Museum in Leicester had a gaming station set up where you could try out all sorts of consoles, from Atari to Commodore to PS1, and even Pong. You can find out more about them and how to support their work here.
The Galactic Knights were also out in full force, giving demonstrations and running orc boot camps for attendees. They’re a cosplaying group of the highest caliber, focusing on sci-fi and fantasy primarily.
Telos Publishing, one of the event sponsors, was out in full force, with several of its authors giving talks and selling their books.
Skaro was strongly represented, with hordes of Daleks running amok. The evening was also full of talented performers, such as Area 51’s dancers.
On site! As SFW takes over an entire holiday park, you never need leave the premises. There’s plenty of decent accommodation, several small shops, a pub, and other restaurants to choose from.
We did pop to Pwhelli for some loo roll and a towel, which isn’t included in your accommodation. So be mindful of that. No kitchen roll, either. If we could do it all over again, I probably also would have brought space heaters and draught excluders. It was brutally cold and the heaters in the flat could only do so much. The windows were so draughty that you could watch the curtains move.
All the ventilation is probably lovely during the summer, which is obviously peak time for this holiday park, but in March it makes for some rather crisp mornings.
The partner and I made a couples’ cosplay as Lone Star and Princess Vespa from Spaceballs. However, as Vespa’s dress is a bit short on fabric, and most of it is gauzy sheers and lace, I took a miss on trotting it out, so the partner followed suit in frozen solidarity.
Others’ cosplay was absolutely amazing. The Warhammer armour was larger than life, and someone had put together a very well articulated alien-from-Alien costume. Lord of the Rings and Star Trek were well represented, and there were Doctors and Daleks in spades, though Star Trek was oddly sparse.
The level of craftsmanship was stunning, and really inspiring.
As mentioned above, there were several restaurants on site. Starbucks, Burger King, Papa Johns, a fish and chips shop, a full pub, and hot food counters in the mini markets made for a wide variety of choices.
We chose to make use of the full kitchen in our flat, however, and self-catered (when we weren’t running the oven with the door open to provide a little extra warmth!).
The partner and I were a little underwhelmed, possibly by being previously spoilt in Atlanta, with its plethora of high quality, serious business cons. As some content seemed to not happen and was not well sign posted, it can be a little hard to find one’s footing as a first timer. The board gaming was a little small, and the guest list wasn’t the most impressive.
It also seemed to focus slightly more on the nightlife aspects, such as the DJs and concerts, which the partner and I aren’t really into, being prematurely OAP in our taste in entertainment. So there wasn’t a whole lot for us to do after about 6pm, which made for some chilly, early nights.
Normally for a con, this wouldn’t be an issue, but SFW also lacked the sort of frantic schedule that leaves you satisfactorily worn out after a long day of panels, workshops, and speakers.
This feeling of being underwhelmed seems to so far be a trend in the UK con scene, which I’ve touched on previously. Again, I’m not suggesting that this sort of events management is easy, but at the same time, much smaller cons like WHOlanta, Treklanta, and CONjuration all seem to pull off a much more cohesive, jam-packed, exciting programme.
The partner and I have discussed this at length, and can’t seem to pinpoint what it is that seems to take the wind out of the sails over here. If anyone had any theories, I’d love to hear them.
READER BEWARE: I ENJOY TALKING ABOUT MYSELF.
I got my start, as so many of us did, roleplaying via instant messenger and message boards online. I started my first novel circa 2000 on the family desktop computer(it was about dragon-themed magical girls), only to have it gobbled up by an unannounced hard drive reformatting. After my father learned what had happened, he was so upset that I shortly after got my own computer, so that at least next time it wouldn’t be his fault if my work were erased.
He was always a huge inspiration and encouragement to me in all of my artistic pursuits, making sure I always had the tools I needed to pursue my interests in music, art, and writing. I also owe a great deal of that creative talent to him, a very gifted musician and artist himself.
In high school, I played percussion in marching band, bass guitar in a garage band, and dabbled in drama. I also worked with our school librarian in a grassroots movement to revamp the summer reading program. We took a languishing program that offered students the choice of reading one of two dry classics over the summer, and turned it into a contemporary program that included works by new Young Adult authors, Stephen King, and Harry Potter, just to name a few. It was a huge hit, and made students dread summer reading less, which is always a success in my book. I presented the program in a speech to my entire high school, designed and drew posters for each book we’d added to the program, and gave talks on the book 1984 to rotating groups of students as part of a book fair day to drum up interest.
In university, whilst pursuing a bachelor’s in history and a double minor in French and English, I began branching out into tabletop RPGs, cutting my teeth on White Wolf’s New World of Darkness system. From there I would end up dabbling in Dungeons & Dragons Exalted, All Flesh Must Be Eaten, Doctor Who: Adventures In Time And Space, Firefly, and After The Bomb, as well as blowing my money on that quintessential cardboard crack, Magic: the Gathering. My first and foremost love, however, will always be Werewolf: The Forsaken.
When I wasn’t procrastinating on homework in these noble endeavors, I worked as a one-on-one tutor. I also cut my editing teeth, helping students plan, research, and proof their papers. Here, I discovered that my strongest ally in teaching was humour. People pay attention if you tell jokes, and then you can always bait-and-switch them into learning something as well.
Before relieving my school of my presence, I managed to appear in a production of The Laramie Project, present a paper entitled ‘The Futility of War Against the Intangible’ at a symposium on the sociology of terror, become vice president of our local chapter of Phi Alpha Theta, and write a Valentine’s Day themed story for a creative writing class that was so brutal it became legendary within the English department as ‘The Screwdriver Story’.
I later went on to haunt the halls of another unfortunate institution whilst I pursued an MA in historical studies. Here, too, I tricked people into listening to me give a riveting presentation on my research. With both degrees, my dissertations were about eugenics. At the undergraduate level, I wrote about public opinion of eugenics in Germany. My master’s level dissertation was a comparative analysis of eugenics in the US and UK.
Post-matriculation, I moved to the blasted wasteland of the American Deep South™. I commenced work at a small railway museum, where the staff stretched thin. Thus I wore a lot of hats for this institution. I ran special events, negotiated and managed film productions, and ran the library and archives with an iron fist. I also drove locomotives for our passenger operations and after hours switching operations. So I can also now say that I’m an engineer.
It is now that my writing career really starts to flourish. In addition to this, I write short stories and flash fiction on Wattpad and for submission to various literary magazines.
I attended Publish15, the Atlanta Writing Workshop, and TLC’s Writer’s Day. In addition, I have trawled the lectures, panels, and workshops by agents, publishers, and authors at various conventions such as CONjuration and Dragon Con.
As of 2016, I’m now back in the UK and permanently settled, both into my new country and also into my professional writing career. My first independent published piece was with Who Writes Short Shorts? and I started hosting workshops, the first of which was an introduction to poetry.
These days, you can find me amongst the throngs of people on most Twitter pitch parties, as well as participating in writing tags. It’s a great opportunity to get involved with the writing community and share the darlings you didn’t manage to kill.
I’ve also participated in regularly scheduled, round table critique groups before, and run my own. I’m available as a critique partner who will absolutely tell you when your science is bad. If you’re interested in using me as an editor, beta reader, or critique partner, just drop me a line.