So, what have I been up to lately that has meant that I have seemingly neglected to post something on here nearly every day, as I used to? Well, there have been a few things that have kept me busy work-wise, plus there have been some health issues affecting both my wife and I. On top of that, January is never a particularly brilliant time for me (along with what appears to be at least half the population of Britain…) for one reason or another. Some of those issues I’ll discuss below.
As some of you may know, I suffered a stroke some years back, whose legacy is a very close acquaintance with the Black Dog. The dark days of this time of year appear to exacerbate it, and so I often find myself fighting to tame that particular beast around this time. It’s a right pain in the arse, as I have too much other stuff to be getting on with to be spending the amounts of energy I do combating depression. I am not one to complain mostly, nevertheless there are moments when I just want to go out there and hit a few things out of sheer frustration. Mostly, though, the dour Welsh side of my character comes out then, where I find myself just gritting my teeth and working my own way through it rather than beating a path to the doctor’s surgery and seeking the aid of medication – they may indeed be the answer but I’m just stubborn like that.
We did, however, visit our GP in relation to Liz’s osteo-arthritis, which is affecting her left knee. There were times earlier this year when she could hardly move, the pain was so great. This necessarily meant that I was concentrating on making things a great deal easier for her around the house and taking on a greater role in the running of the household. Indeed, there was talk some weeks ago of a knee replacement operation, but thankfully she’s been put on medication that seems to be easing everything enough so that at least she is able to carry on doing the daily stuff without anything like the discomfort she was experiencing previously. What the long-term prognosis is on the condition of that knee we don’t know right now, but for the present at least life has returned to something resembling normality – which has to be a good thing. And so, very slowly, as thoughts turn to the return of spring, the pair of us are coming out of turpitude and starting to gear up for the rest of the year in a much more positive frame of mind.
We have also been experiencing a few financial woes, but we have now taken positive steps to redress the situation and already it’s easing up. Whilst we are most certainly not out of the woods completely, we can at least see a bright sliver of light, meaning that we are almost out of it.
But it hasn’t all been doom and gloom – I have also been busy with a project or two, one of which I finally completed yesterday. Some of you may be aware that Johnny Mains, of Pan Books of Horror and Noose & Gibbet Publishing fame, has been busy compiling a volume of the stories of Mary Danby, a stalwart of the Armada and Fontana ghost and horror compilations for many years. Well, yours truly has been responsible for scanning and inputting all those stories in preparation for the production of said book. Nearly 30 stories all told – and working with an extremely temperamental OCR program, that sometimes recognised the images I uploaded as text and sometimes saying there was nothing there. So… there were times when I simply had to type everything in by hand (fingers?) – but, at least one great thing came out of it… my typing speed and accuracy has increased immeasurably as a result. (And, of course, I got to read a sizeable chunk of Mary’s ouevre at the same time….)
I also released the very first Spectral Press chapbook (Gary McMahon’s What They Hear in the Dark, for those of you who haven’t been paying attention) at the very beginning of January and its success has genuinely caught me by surprise. As of this writing, there are just 27 copies left out of the 100 and it’s only been out less than two months. The reviews of the book have been universally positive and I have received some great feedback from customers – plus I now have 60 subscriptions, which is very near my initial target of 70 (which I actually thought was overly-optimistic at the beginning of this year but is now more than within reach). I am already working on the second volume which is due out in three months’ time – for more details visit spectralpress.wordpress.com.
The future for the imprint appears to be more than healthy – the bar for the first one has been set very high, a fact that will encourage me to strive to maintain the high standards I’ve set myself. I also look forward to working with each and every writer who has been asked to contribute, and also to work with those who I have yet to ask onboard.
Now, I can look forward to the rest of this year with gusto, getting back into doing some drawing, painting and reviewing, as well as the editing and publishing, plus some convention appearances. It also means that I will be endeavouring to blog a bit more often with original material as well as posting reviews of the chapbooks. 2011 promises to be a good year for me on so many levels, and it’s to be hoped that you out there will join me for the duration.