Out with the old, in with the new… year!

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Well here we are in 2017 already. I say already because, like all good times, the end of 2016 flew by for me. Much fun was had with my family, especially since my daughter (18 months) was able to really get excited about all the festivities and presents for the first time. She laughed and hopped and ooh’d and aah’d at anything and everything, making Christmas a magical time for Wifey and me. That being the case, I can hardly believe we’ve stumbled over into a new year already – I saw the new year in by reading more of John Gwynne’s Wrath, and I’m not afraid to say it! Wifey and I watched tv, ate chocs and I drank a single glass of wine, before she retired to bed at 23:00 and I read until 00:05, smiled, tapped away on social media for a minute or two and then fell asleep. ROCK AND ROLL! < maybe not, but we were content with that.

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Talking about John Gwynne (photo above) and his finale to his The Faithful and the Fallen series, Wrath, reminds me of just how much happened in 2016. I’m not going to mention the countless horrors and tragedies of the world, because I struggle to comprehend them and keep my heart in tact regarding them on a daily basis. I’m going to concentrate on the good stuff instead. My thoughts may linger on the bad, often, but they relish the good as well – as should we all! I met John Gwynne recently in London. I’m proud to have been invited to dinner with him and his family, alongside our good friend Kareem, before the book signing event at Forbidden Planet. Much fun was had, stories told and food and drink consumed, but the best part of such an event is the fantasy community that appears like a young wizard from a fireplace in a not too straight alley. What a bunch folk of fantasy are, be them authors or readers. I make new friends all the time from my writing, and reading, and 2016 was no exception. I’m going to link now, from one of the best fantasy series of all time (in my opinion), The Faithful and the Fallen, to more meeting of similar minds: Bristolcon!

What a wonderful event that was! I again got to meet one of my all time favorite authors: Mark Lawrence, who took home with him a copy of Black Cross, lucky guy. I also met friends from far and near, old and new, and had a right old chinwag with them all. Gifts were given and received and, informative convention aside, the fantasy community  made the bar their own and decided that like minded folk drinking and talking sense and shit in equal measures it what made the weekend rock! Mark Lawrence, Andy Remic, Ben Galley, G R Matthews, to name but a few, the authors were there in force and the fans were legion. We had a good ol’ time of it and cannot wait for more this year. Check those authors mentioned out and get yourself to a convention this year – keep your eyes peeled for news of Fantasy Faction‘s cons, too… I might even be on the organisation team, but shhhh…

Some of the authors mentioned above – and books pictured above this line – link nicely to Mark Lawrence‘s Self Published Fantasy Blog Off competition. This event started in 2015 and, after a successful competition, started again with SPFBO2 in 2016. Self-published authors submit their books (as I did in 2015) and ten bloggers/reviewers get together to whittle them down until they have a winner. It’s a great way to pick up new reads and an awesome way to support indie authors who battle to be seen in a saturated market. Make the time to check it out, because it’s all about fans of fantasy, whether writing or reading the genre. Check. It. Out.

I’ve impressed myself with the amount of books I consumed in 2016 and was recently asked how I did it. Now, I read slow, real slow, so don’t smash through books like the reviewers and bloggers I know, but I do tend to have three on the go at any one time. Kindle books, ‘real’ books and audio books. I’ve read and listened to many brilliant stories this year and have again listed a few in picture form above this paragraph. Check them out, you know you want to!

I was going to go into so much more about 2016, be it my exams for the optical diploma I’m working on, my releasing of Black Cross in hardback and the submission of a – hopeful – audio version to which I’m awaiting auditions, but I think I’ll leave it here. My daughter has just woken up by the sounds of it and I’m all typed out. I hope 2017 is a winner for us all, I know I’m looking forward to the start up of Wifey’s catering van business, the completion of my diploma and, of course, the release of Black Guild – Second book from the tales of the Black Powder Wars, which is due out in Spring. But for now, I say tatty bye and leave you to enjoy the start of the new year. If you get chance, hop on Goodreads because I’m giving away a copy of Black Cross. Also check out booknest.eu‘s fundraiser (click here) for a chance to win ten signed fantasy books!

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Apologies for the rushed ending, but I must dash (2017 will be as manic as 2016 it seems).

JP

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