Taking Stock

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Wentworth Woodhouse, which I visited yesterday: for sale, if anyone’s inspired by my renovation projects

New Year tends to be a time of reflection, even for those of us that don’t make resolutions as such. It’s a time for assessment – literally for those of us in the UK that count as self-employed to a greater or lesser extent and put off filling in our tax forms until almost the January 31st deadline. Last year I was very focussed on overseeing the renovation of my house (still ongoing, but an end seems to be in sight), and only wrote fiction in short bursts. This year, things will have to be different.

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The completed front room, with just a small section of my books and music

My short story collection, A Series of Ordinary Adventures is now out of print. Management changes at my publisher meant that their focus moved away from fantasy with the emphasis very much on science fiction. So, I have to decide what to do with those stories: do I publish the entire collection as a second edition – either through another publishing house or on my own – or do I publish the two novellas separately, and reformat the rest as a smaller collection? Likewise, should I submit one or more of the SF stories currently languishing on my hard drive to my former publisher, in order to maintain the relationship we have, or should I concentrate on creating new stuff in that or any other genre? I just finished a very rough draft of a near-contemporary novel, and I have more stories to tell about those characters. Part of me wants to plough ahead and get more words down, even though I know the rational thing to do is to find a home for the more polished novel that one is a sequel to, and then see if there’s a market for a 1970s-set series with bisexuals in every possible combination of coupledom.

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Guest bedroom (furniture inherited from two grandmothers, and one former home)

On top of all that, I have the possibility of working on a non-fiction book with a local history group. A lot of the research has been done already, I have access to a huge stack of reference volumes to put the personal stories into context, and the aim is for publication in time for the Centenary of the Armistice. Which equates to far less pressure than a lot of the factual writing I do for other people, and might even provide me with some ideas of how to continue the twin research projects into my house’s and my family’s histories.

Those two projects are partly entwined anyway; I have a selection of old family photos that will go up on the walls once the house is completed, mostly keeping with the theme of having nothing that obviously post-dates the beginning of WWI on display in the main part of the house (I make an exception for the small photo of Grandad’s first wedding, because I have a lot of sympathy for his bride – more on her another day).

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Phase One of the loft: a lovely potential space

My house only has one room that’s not been decorated at all now; the dining room will finally get tacked once the project to turn the loft into a hobby and storage space is finished, and I can shift all the boxes cluttering up my less-used rooms (the garage and guest bedroom are currently nearly as crowded as the dining room) into the loft for sorting, filing and, in some cases, recycling or repurposing. In the spring there will be a few jobs to complete on the outside, which should hopefully cure the issues that are preventing the completion of some of the rooms inside (damp is getting into two corners somehow, and while various builders have made the work sound easy, it still requires scaffolding and a run of dry weather).

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Ponies (my two on the right) before the rains came

The ponies would like some dry weather too. They’ve coped well with the move to more northerly climes, but the lovely sunshine they saw on the first couple of days when I turned them out on the hillside in November have yet to be repeated.

So that’s where I am. Now to start moving forwards again. Happy New Year, readers!


  1. Your book A Series of Ordinary Adventures truly deserves a second chance. It all hung together so beautifully as a collection that I hope you re-issue it as such, whether independently or through another publisher. Meanwhile, I shall just hug my e-book version!

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  2. Wow, Stevie. That’s a lot going on. The history project sounds super-cool, and I can empathize with not being sure where you are or what you want to do with some of your writing. Here’s to a productive year!


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