Click Click Click

Click Click Click

I kidded myself into thinking I’d be more productive with a mechanical keyboard. It was cute, it had that kawaii aesthetic down, and I’ve always been a sucker for a more tactile experience. So I blew about £120 on a keyboard and mouse set, and another £110 on a printer stand to give myself more desk space… then when everything was set up and done, I thought “wow, that’s done. Great job, everyone. Now I’ll go play some Horizon: Forbidden West.”

The heart wants what it wants. 

The heart also wanted a Snorlax desk mat, in my quest for the perfect office space. So that’s another £20 on Etsy.

(In my defence, it’s very cute.)

Generally, I am trying to be gentler when it comes to my goals. I have a lot going on this year – to start with, a wedding – but I know the positive impact on my brain when I do things that are sometimes a challenge. I went to the gym today, and sure, it was two hours out of my day, but I feel much better for moving my body. So I look forward to giving my brain a workout, too. Last weekend, I managed to get my novel’s first draft up to 20,000+ words, which is probably the most I’ve contributed to one project in… shit, about 10 years? Inside, my rational inner voice is screaming “take the win” whereas the little gremlin that dictates my levels of dopamine is going “yeah, but it took you about 12 months, didn’t it?”

I’m not listening to the gremlin today. 

But maybe, I am listening to the part of me that wants to cosy up on the sofa under a blanket with a cup of tea and a PS5 controller. 

2022: A Retrospective

2022: A Retrospective

Christmas is nearly over so it’s time for my now yearly blog. I moved everything over to a new server a couple of months ago, so I figured I should probably do some kind of update on the state of my life, the world and everything to justify the hosting cost. 

This year has been a rollercoaster. Up and down and up and down again. I got engaged, at Disneyland Paris no less, which is pretty much all I could have asked for. If nothing or, indeed, everything else happened this year, then I have that. And next year, Charlie and I are finally getting married. I get to spend the rest of my life with my person, officially, and even though I never really bought into the whole idea of marriage when I was younger, there is a certainty in it that feels right. Plus, we plan on having a festival-themed wedding with all our friends’ bands playing. That sounds like a good party. 

Work was… I literally don’t even know how to describe it. All I can say is that my stress management techniques have been working extra hard over the past six months – I have a certain affinity for scented candles that I’d never even considered before. I hope that 2023 will be a little more settled. I’m not afraid of change, after all, but I don’t enjoy having panic attacks because there’s too much information swimming through my lizard brain. 

I set many goals, none of which I’ve really achieved in full, but lots of things I’ve worked towards, so I’m counting that as a win. I plotted a whole book, and have about a quarter of it written (the whole wedding planning thing and aforementioned work stress got in the way a bit). I started going to the gym and I’ve lost a whole stone throughout the year – halfway to my pre-pandemic weight. It’s slow progress, but with PCOS, weight loss always is. The good news is that it seems to be staying off, even over Christmas. I’m not necessarily limiting food by any means but I’ve gotten better at making healthier swaps. Also, Grenade bars are life. 

There have been lots of little wins, too. More than I can really count, but after almost two years of worrying about the future and how little of it we might have left, I’m trying to capture the joy in everyday a lot more. For example: I’ve learned how to bake brownies – finally! That’s something that’s been eluding me for about 15 years. I’ve laughed so hard I’ve cried at our weekly D&D sessions. I’ve tried my best to let go of cringe – if I want to write Deep Space Nine fan fiction to make my friend smile (or just because I want to), then I’m going to bloody do it. I saw Lady Gaga put on the show of a lifetime, and I danced. Because why just stand stock still at Lady fucking Gaga? 2000trees was back for the first time since 2019, and I had the time of my life watching bands again. I think the biggest difference I’ve made this year is that I’ve tried my hardest to say yes to things, instead of turning them down in favour of retreating back into my little shell. That said, I’ve also learned to recognise when I’m wiped and I need time to recharge. The past few years have been tough. But I’m learning who I am now, and I’m good with the person staring back out of the mirror at me. 

Anyway, the usual media roundup of things I have enjoyed follows, with the usual caveat that I am slow at discovering things and therefore, not all of it’s from this year. Hope you find something you like, too. 


GLOW ON by Turnstile; Rashomon by Ibaraki; Midnights by Taylor Swift; Cowboy Nights by Blaqk Audio; Eternal Blue by Spiritbox; Fever Daydream by The Black Queen


Silverweed Road by Simon Crook; Nona the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir; The Splinter King by Mike Brooks; The Mask of Mirrors by M.A. Carrick; The Galaxy, and the Ground Within by Becky Chambers; The Grief of Stones by Katherine Addison


Everything Everywhere All at Once; Black Panther: Wakanda Forever; I Kill Giants; Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness; Turning Red


Andor; Guillermo Del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities; The Sandman; The Orville; Spy x Family; Laid Back Camp

Video games:

God of War: Ragnarok (PS5); The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Switch); Destiny 2: The Witch Queen (PS5); Disco Elysium (PS5); Cyberpunk 2077 (PS5)

So This is Christmas, What Have You Done?

So This is Christmas, What Have You Done?

I’ve survived. I think that’s a fairly accurate summary of 2021. It has not been the all-out catastrophe that was 2020, or even the minefield of 2019, but instead, more of a quiet struggle to keep on an even keel as the world continues to fall apart around me. But I’ve built up some resilience, thanks to NHS-funded therapy and a gradual acceptance that this is probably what life is now, so I’d better make the most of it while I can. 

So in that vein, there were a few things I accomplished this year and a few things to be proud of, believe it or not. 

I finished a D&D campaign that I had written completely myself, based around a dragon who’s poaching significant figures from their place in time and placing them in a living museum. Ironically, I did this about 12 months before the Fizban’s book came out, which would have been extremely helpful, but what’s done is done. I’ve had a lot of fun playing D&D over the years, but this is perhaps the most joyous campaign yet – ostensibly thanks to good company, even if we did have to do most of it over Discord. It also gave me purpose in a time that was sorely lacking it – I needed to write the next chapter of the adventure each week, I needed to be ready to run it every week. There was no time for losing myself in panic when I had shit to do. 

I also tentatively started a novel towards the end of the year. It’s very, very early stages and like many other projects, has the potential to peter out without significant deadlines in place but it’s a start. I took part in the Writer’s HQ Write a Tiny Novel challenge and that really gave me a kick up the arse – I’ve definitely been missing community when it comes to writing. My university days are almost 10 years behind me (and isn’t that terrifying) but I miss having that feeling of camaraderie. I’ve signed up to the 12-month WHQ membership in an effort to give myself some accountability, so we’ll see how that goes. Hopefully, that threat of wasting money (after all, I am of northern stock) will shift me into gear. 

Like many years, I’ve tried to read as much as possible, and this year, I’m up to 74 books, surpassing my original target of 60. Books have always been an escape – according to my mum, I was devouring books with words at the tender age of two – and I’ve needed that more than ever. I’ve mostly read new things, but a few old favourites have cropped up too. I can’t wait for the next Locked Tomb book to rear its head, and I’ve really been diving deep into my Star Wars Extended Universe, because I’m nothing if not predictable. 

Of course there are still things to aim for. We got a cross trainer and while I did pretty well with it in the summer, I’ve gone into hibernation mode this winter, so I really need to pick that back up. I actually need to continue writing the book, and setting myself appropriate deadlines – here’s hoping the aforementioned WHQ membership will help with that. I’ve got better at not staring at my phone, but there’s always more I can do. And it’s all too easy to slip out of connection with people – so I’m going to try my best to keep up with those important to me.

Also, I drastically failed at The Year of the Vamp. Maybe if we’d had more lockdowns and a better stock of videos on Amazon Prime, who knows. 

Of course, this wouldn’t be a round-up without me listing a few of the things I’ve enjoyed most this year, so here’s what I’ve been into in 2021. Obviously, not all of it is from 2021 (Type O Negative definitely) but it’s what’s been getting me through.

AFI – Bodies; Creeper – American Noir; Quicksand – Distant Populations; Hayley Kiyoko – I’m Too Sensitive for This Shit; Type O Negative – October Rust

Podcasts (yes, this is the year I discovered podcasts)
Take A Look Around; I Don’t Even Own A Television; Dragon Talk; SmartLess

A Desolation Called Peace by Arkady Martine; Nothing I Do Is Funny Anymore by Rose Damian; The Lady from the Black Lagoon by Mallory O’Meara; the Mistborn series by Brandon Sanderson; Harrow the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir

Video games
Ghost of Tsushima (PS5); Assassin’s Creed Valhalla (PS5); The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword (Switch); God of War (PS4); Mass Effect Legendary Edition (PS4); Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart (PS5)

Black Widow; Dune; My Hero Academia: World Heroes’ Mission; Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings; Trollhunters: Rise of the Titans

What We Do In the Shadows; Hawkeye; The Mandalorian; Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba; Future Man

With Neither a Bang Nor a Whimper

With Neither a Bang Nor a Whimper

As I type this, my launch model PS4 is whirring unhappily in the background, attempting to reinstall all the data it just lost. Alas, I think the beast is now too old, and while it’s valiantly struggling to recover, it might be time to put it out to pasture and pick up a new one. But, with all that happening, it does mean that I’m typing up a blog for the first time in forever, rather than spending an evening in front of the box. 

2018 has been a fairly okay year. Not the best, but by no means the worst. Work has been fine, Charlie and I have had some nice holidays, I’ve had a great time playing Dungeons & Dragons and AFI brought out a new EP. So yeah, thinking of it that way, it’s not been too shabby. 

Have I really accomplished anything? Well, I DM’d a full D&D campaign over the course of a year! That was pretty rad. I did a bunch of stupid voices and had tons of fun. I actually wrote things for it, too – so, while I’m beating myself up about the lack of a novel draft, I just need to think about how I was developing my skills, working on character, and actually remembering how story structure works. Or something like that. 

Anyway, without further ado, here are the best bits of 2018 in consumable media for me.

 I’ve been reading a lot. My Goodreads count is at something like 50+ by now. Of course, around 10 of those are Hellblazer graphic novels, because I basically inhaled those a few months ago after developing a slight obsession with the ill-fated Constantine TV series (ie Matt Ryan’s pretty face). However, there’s a lot of novels in there – some outside my SFF comfort zone – so I’m pretty chuffed with that. Stuff I’ve loved this year includes The Brothers Cabal by Jonathan L Howard, The Ruin of Angels by Max Gladstone, From Here to Eternity by Caitlin Doughty, and Revenant Gun by Yoon Ha Lee. 

As crappy as it is for someone that used to run a music zine, I’ve kind of not paid attention to most music this year, but there were still some gems out there that grabbed my attention. AFI’s The Missing Man is perfection, as always, and Holy Hell by Architects gives me FEELS. The first Good Charlotte album in a long time, Generation RX, is amazing, and Panic! At The Disco’s Pray For The Wicked is a certified banger. But these are all great new releases from bands I’ve loved for years and years. I’m sure there’s been some fantastic new stuff that I’ve heard from new bands somewhere, but it’s flown out of my head and into the ether. 

Video games? Those have been a thing this year. I’ve played less than I’d have liked, but probably more than I should have. Persona 5 was an EXPERIENCE, and I loved Ni no Kuni II’s wonderful fairytale land to bits. Rediscovering Spyro through the Reignited Trilogy was a joy, and basically everything I’ve played on Nintendo Switch this year has been nothing short of brilliant. From a storytelling point of view, video games have had a lot going on this year – let’s have more of that in 2019.

I’ve not watched a huge amount of movies this year, but Avengers: Infinity War made me gasp so loud that the people in the row in front of me actually turned around. Marvel have pretty much hit a home run with everything they’ve put out this year, but Infinity War was something truly special. I loved Coco with all my heart (2018 release date in the UK, okay?) and Pacific Rim: Uprising was big, dumb fun. On the telly, I’ve been ecstatic about getting Charlie to watch anime – particularly My Hero Academia and Aggretsuko – and Netflix did good with the new Chilling Adventures of Sabrina series. Also, Star Trek Discovery. It had its flaws, but holy shit was it great to have a new Trek series. 

For me, the year ends with neither a bang, nor a whimper, in the grand scheme of things. And that’s okay, really. Sometimes, it’s good to just keep ticking along. It’s taken a long time for me to learn that lesson, but my mental health has been all the better for it. Nevertheless, I’m looking forward to seeing what 2019 will bring.

New Moon Rising

New Moon Rising

I should probably be ringing in the new year in a pub, or a bar, or at a gig, but instead of dodging vomit and strangers, I’m sat at on the sofa in my fluffiest pyjamas, with The Walking Dead on in the background and nursing a glass of water. I’ve had better nights, but I’ve definitely had worse.

It’s usually about the time of night that I start to get reflective. 2017 has, for all intents and purposes, been a shitshow from an external point of view. Brexit is a load of wank, and the level of fear and loathing spreading throughout the world is something that we need to keep fighting as fiercely as we can. But on a personal level, I’ve accomplished enough to feel as though I made a difference this year.

One of my main goals was to read more books. The thought process was read more books, write more stuff. Well, I was an overachiever when it came to the first part of that — I hit 36 books in total this year, which is a huge increase on the 10 or so I read in 2016. Most of those were books that were in my to-be-read pile, but I delved into a fair few new ones as well. Admittedly, I didn’t stray too far from sci-fi/fantasy, but that’s something to concentrate on next.

I wanted to write more, and to a degree, I suppose I did. I wrote a few more blogs than the year before, drafted a few stories and entered a couple of competitions. I also edited the vast majority of my friend’s novelisation of our D&D campaign (still a few more chapters to go!), which was a great experience and a really worthwhile exercise.

I also branched out in terms of my social circle, joining said D&D group, which was possibly the best decision I’ve made since moving to Cheltenham. It’s the nerdiest shit I could even think about doing, but I’ve made some fantastic friends, laughed until I cried and started DM’ing a campaign, which has been brilliant for my improvisation skills. Our campaign’s still going strong, and I’m excited to see what comes this year.

There are still lots of things I’m working towards. We don’t own a house yet. I don’t have my own little writing nook. But those aren’t too far away. I haven’t written that book, or even finished the little pieces I started working on. Nevertheless, I have ideas, and I want to find my drive. I’m planning on taking up a diary for the first time in years to try and see if I can inspire myself some more. I’m not setting any resolutions as such, but the same applies as most years — read more, write more, do more stuff and take better care of myself.

I usually do a little yearly roundup of things I’ve enjoyed most throughout the year. I’m not doing anything quite so expansive as usual, but here’s a sample of stuff I’ve loved this year.

Records: Creeper — Infinity, In Your Arms; AFI — The Blood Album; Dreamcar — S/T; Kesha — Rainbow; Chelsea Wolfe — Hiss Spun

Video games: Persona 5; Destiny 2; Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age; Mass Effect Andromeda; Assassin’s Creed Origins

Movies: Thor: Ragnarok; Star Wars: The Last Jedi; Power Rangers; Wonder Woman; Kubo and the Two Strings

Books: Raven Stratagem — Yoon Ha Lee; Ancillary Sword — Ann Leckie; The Bone Key — Sarah Monette; Four Roads Cross — Max Gladstone; A Long Day in Lychford — Paul Cornell