Monday, 29 December 2014

2014 - A Year in Review

On January the first this year I woke up with a strong sense of excitement that 2014 was going to be my year. This feeling didn't dispell all through January - in fact it only got stronger.

In January we took a trip with Frazer to Sedgefield Racecourse, where Frazer and his friend, John O'Loan, sponsor a handicap race. Here we met Emily Maguire for the first time, never knowing that she was soon to become Frazer's partner in business and love, and we all had a tremendous day out.

On that same weekend we also found our dream home and began the process of buying.

In February our events kicked off again with the fabulous Gallifrey One in Los Angeles. This is the biggest Doctor Who event I know and it is also a brilliant time for us because we get to see friends old and new. This year, I can honestly say, was the best one so far. The event pulled in a whopping 3500 people - but is always capped because the organisers don't want it to grow beyond a stage that makes the event less fun than the intimate reunion that it has always been. So - we will never see more than this many people fortunately - and for this reason Gallifrey retains this amazing warm feeling of being part of a huge family that stretches out across the pond and involves people from the Europe, USA, Australia and Canada. It is also a brilliant place to meet people. We also launched my short novel The Darkness Within: Final Cut in LA.

Dave Prowse
In March we were at the first ever Em-Con event in Nottingham, which proved to be a really good one for us. I was amazed by the many new faces that came specifically to our table because they had read my books and wanted my new titles. This was a one day event and we sold out. And the reason I was so surprised by this was because I had never been to Nottingham for an event of this sort before. It surprised me that there were so many readers in the area that loved the genre. Also got to hang out with Dave Prowse - who is a total sweetie, the Red Dwarf guys: Chris Barrie, Danny John-Jules (who we see regularly at events), our bestie Frazer Hines, the gorgeous Eve Myles, and briefly met Kai Owen.

Caroline Munro, Martine Bestwick
After Em-Con I was a media guest at the fabulous Memorabilia in Birmingham. An event that is rapidly becoming a favourite of mine. It was a really fun day and I got to see some people that are becoming regular friends at these events, like Caroline Munro and Martine Bestwick.

Sci-Fi Weekender in Pwllheli - I helped to organise the author track for the second year running and managed quite a few of the on stage interviews which was great fun as always. Great to see loads of regulars returning to see us and as always we had a tremendous time with all the Telos authors that attended.

With Jonathan Ross

In April it was Wales Comic Con,  another favourite event for us. Terrifically organised and always with great guests. This time I got to meet Jonathan Ross, and catch up with the darling that is Eve Myles, and also got a great hug from Gareth David Lloyd - the Torchwood crowd are so awesome!

In between times the purchase of our new house suffered delays - but we struggled through them and I was commisioned to write a variety of short stories, as well as working on my novel Jinx Town, which is the first part of a sci-fi/fantasy trilogy. The trilogy was purchased by Telos Publishing in March and the release of Jinx Town should be early next year due to delays on cover art. I also sold two Cthulhu stories - the first was called The Vessel and this was published by April Moon in April in their anthology The Dark Rites of Cthulhu, while the second was Keeping the Faith which was sold to Chaosium for their anthology The Summer of Lovecraft. I was also asked to write my first piece of non-fiction for SFX Magazine - and I penned a piece about the Julian May novel The Many Coloured Land for their book club section.

With Gareth David Lloyd at
Wales Comic Con
We had a little time off as the purchase of our new house approached and the organisation of moving our home and David's business and Doctor Who collection - all of which could have been a logistical nightmare but for the super movers we used. Who helped pack, move and relocate us brilliantly.

Tony Head
We attended Geeks Unleashed as guests on 11 May. And a couple of weeks later we exchanged on our new house. That's when the nightmares really began. I don't want to go into that too much, except to say that although the survey came back fine, we ended up needing a new flat roof, a repair to a gully roof, a new conservatory roof, various windows replacing, a new boiler, new shower, and no end of decorating nightmares when wallpaper was removed and plaster fell off walls. Anyway we finally moved in a month later and the work continued a bit around us, but we've slowly tamed the beast and are now delighted with our new home.

In the middle of moving I received an email from Simon Clark, who I knew as an author of many amazing horror novels. Simon asked me to pitch a story to him for an official Sherlock Holmes anthology which would be published by Constable and Robinson in 2015. I was up to my eyes in decorators and we were commuting back and forth to the new house every day, but I told the decorator I wouldn't be in and I sat and wrote out the pitch. This was accepted and Simon then asked me to write the story. I had an early September deadline. Once we were in the new house I set to work on it and The Curse of Guangxu came to life and was finally accepted for the anthology in September. I was delighted! I had never written in any universe but my own before and writing an authentic story for The Mammoth Book of Sherlock Holmes Abroad was definitely an exciting, and enjoyable, challenge.This book is due for release in April 2015 and I can't wait to see it!

We planned to take off a couple of months from events while we organised ourselves (best laid plans
Peter Davison
...) and one of the things we had to do was ensure that Telos Publishing, was back up and running as soon as possible. We managed to do this, within the first couple of weeks and have been working full steam ever since. A week after our move we attended a Steampunk event called Doncaster Steampunk on the Saturday - which was fun and helped to take our mind off some of the stress we'd been under. On the Sunday we went to Nottingham Book Festival.

June and we were invited to SFX Magazine's 250th publication celebration in London. It was amazing night and we caught up with some friends we hadn't seen for ages there.

David J Howe with Katy Manning
In July David and I drove to Birmingham to give a talk to the Birmingham Science Fiction Group. It was a really fun evening and we were treated very well. There was also really good attendence at the event.

We had a couple of months rest for events and then got ourselves back into proper work mode, and started to live and work properly in the new house. In between times I wrote a new short novel in my Kat Lightfoot Series.

This was What's Dead PussyKat and it was published just in time for the Asylum weekend.
Our calendar for Autumn began with KnightCon in Doncaster at the beginning of September and was then followed by the Asylum Steampunk Weekend in Lincoln - which was superb as always. Here we hosted the official launch of the new book and I also ran a writing workshop at the event, ending with a writing competition for those who had participated. There is some really great writing talent amongst the Steampunks and I hope to see some of their great ideas in print one day.

We hosted a book launch for What's Dead PussyKat and for one of the Telos Moonrise novels, Captains Stupendous by Rhys Hughes. A superb read - it was great to work with Rhys on the book and to meet him in person the first time at a signing event at Forbidden Planet in London.

In September I received an exciting email and phone call and was invited to Pinewood Studios for a meeting. Things are still up in the air as a result of that meeting but am hopeful that something will develop from it.

Also in September we took in a beautiful little cat called Jinx who we found at Sleaford Cat Rescue. She's now become a very big part of our life.

Welsh Celebrity Ghost Stories was published by Bradwell Books in September. This contained a non-fiction memory piece about a real-life ghostly experience I had as a child. It was a charity anthology for Cystic Fibrosis.

I received another exciting email asking me to pitch for an audio. I did pitch and my idea was accepted. We are currently in the drafting stages of this audio, but as this hasn't been announced yet I can't say more.

Other stories sold in this time period was my Cthulhu tale The Book of the Gods to Fox Spirit for the anthology Wicked Women and my phobia story Achluaphobia: The Promise, with Western Legends and the anthology Phobophobias both of which are now available in print and ebook formats.

On October 15th - my birthday - David proposed to me. And I said yes. We are now very, very happily planning our wedding for next year. It was a massive surprise, totally unexpected, and I couldn't be happier with the lovely ring he bought me as well.

David and I also collaborated on a story called Survival of the Fittest which has been chosen by Brian Sammons for the April Moon anthology Flesh Like Smoke. 

A flurry of Doctor Who events happened in October and November, starting with Dimensions in Newcastle. This was a really fun and full on weekend. We were placed next to Michael Troughton and his lovely lady Roxy, and the four of us hit it off which really made the weekend even better. We also met up with Frazer Hines and made friends with Kai Owen. Much laughter ensued as Kai has a brilliant sense of humour and really cracks us up!

One day after Dimensions we flew into Orlando for the fabulous Hurricane Who event. This is a
With Paul McGann
small, intimate gathering, and we always go a little earlier so that we can spend time with Jennifer and Ed Comstock who are really good friends in Florida. We got to hang out with them for a couple of days, joined by Steven Sigal, and then went onto the hotel on Thursday to begin our work for the convention. This was super fun, joined by Kai Owen, Terry Molloy and Peter Davison, we all went out to Joe's Crabshack on the second night at the hotel. Great food and much laughter. David did all of Peter's interviews and I did a reading from my new book as well as judging the masquerade on Saturday night. At the end of the weekend we felt like we'd made some more friends.

Julie Holmes, Emma Campbell-Jones,
Daphne Ashbrook
On the Monday we flew on to New York and headed for the hotel for Long Island Who - wow!

Here we met up early with our friends Frazer Hines, Daphne Ashbrook, Joshua Lou Friedman, Julie Holmes, Amy Windham and Colin Spaull. There was a massive guest list at Long Island and by Wednesday we had also been joined by Colin Baker, Paul McGann, Wendy Padbury, Debbie Watling, Nev Fountain, Jason Haigh-Ellery, Nicola Bryant, Emma Campbell-Jones, Terrance Dicks and many more ... Because we had started the week there early a few of us went on the train into Manhattan on one day. This was a bit of an experience - and we had a walking tour, taking in the sights, and even saw the 9/11 memorial which was heartbreaking and beautifully thought out.

Terry Molloy, Howard Hayes,
David and Josh Lou Friedman
We went on the Staten Island Ferry and got some great shots of Liberty Island. After that the week was one of socialising. A trip to a winery and the Brewster house was arranged for the guests - a fantastic day! And a super evening meal was also arranged as a treat for us all by Howard Hayes and the convention. We were spoiled rotten before the event even started!!

As per last year L.I. WHO was a massive success. We took part in the guest dinner, panels, the hilarious Saturday night Match Game, did readings, met and chatted to loads of wonderful people that we hadn't seen for a year. Then, after many Long Island Iced Teas, and late night parties, sadly, it ended.

On Sunday night the organisers had arranged for us to have a Thanksgiving Dinner. It was wonderful. But they had also sorted out one more surprise. They put out champagne, and then produced an engagement cake and specially signed card for David and I. I cried my eyes out. What lovely, amazing, wonderful, caring and thoughtful people!

Next year L.I. Who - already a tremendous success in just its second year - will most definitely be bigger and better and we can't wait to be there again at a new hotel - a Hilton no less!

We came home feeling such a massive high. I'm still not over it yet!

Linzi, Cary Elwes and Me
A few weeks later and we drove to Birmingham and another Memorabilia event, where we were joined by my
lovely helper Hazel Prosser who had organised everything beautifully for us. My daughter Linzi also came and it was a terrific event for her because she got to meet one of her favourite movie stars in the green room - Cary Elwes (The Princess Bride, Robin Hood: Men in Tights, Lady Jane, Bram Stoker's Dracula). We also caught up with Ayshea Brough, Martine Beswick, Caroline Munro, the guys from 'Allo 'Allo and Mark Lester (Oliver) as well as many more! This was also David's first Memorabilia and he had lots of people come to see him to sign their books. A very successful event!

Tim Dry
It was also brilliant to meet Tim Dry who is a well known actor (The Return of the Jedi) and a writer - we've shared cover space in a couple of anthologies. The most recent being Phobophobias. He is a truly lovely man and I'm looking forward to reading his story.

The last event for the year went with a terrific bang as we joined the line-up for Wales Comic Con's second show this year. This was fab. Terrific guests again, including Eve Myles, Gareth David-Lloyd - both of whom I've already said I love! There was also Shane Ritchie (who seemed really nice) and one of my favourite people, Tony Head. It was brilliant to see Ian McNeice, Simon Fisher-Becker and some of the stars from Atlantis - including Mark Addy - who is such a nice chap. And also Mark Sheppard, who we last saw at Gallifrey in February. Chris Barrie and Danny John-Jules where there representing Red Dwarf - and I really do like these guys so much that it was lovely to briefly catch up with them.

But the year didn't end there and just this week I've had a flurry of work offers - some of which I'll be very excited to tell you about in the new year but can't say more at this point. I can tell you this though, the next Kat Lightfoot Mysteries Kat of Green Tentacles has now been commissioned by Stephen James Walker at Telos Publishing and so Kat's adventures will continue hopefully next August!

Writing successes in summary:

The Darkness Within: Final Cut (Telos Publishing)
Jinx Town: Part One The Jinx Chronicles (Telos Publishing)
What's Dead PussyKat: Kat Lightfoot Mysteries #3 (Telos Publishing)
Audio - to be announced in 2015!
The Curse of Guangxu, (Constable and Robinson) The Mammoth Book of Sherlock Holmes Abroad
The Vessel (April Moon) The Dark Rites of Cthulhu
Keeping the Faith (Chaosium) The Summer of Lovecraft
The Promise: Acluaphobia (Western Legends) Phobophobias
The Book of the Gods (Fox Spirit) Wicked Women
Survival of the Fittest With David J Howe (April Moon) Flesh Like Smoke
Kat of Green Tentacles: Kat Lightfoot Mysteries #4 (Telos Publishing)  
Book Club The Many Colored Land, (SFX Magazine, Issue No 253) Autumn 2014
The Boxes, (Childhood Memory Piece) Welsh Celebrity Ghost Stories (Bradwell Books, Sep 2014)

And I also received an 'Honorable Mention' in Ellen Datlow's Best of 2014 list for my short story The Jealous Sea which was published last year by Grey Friar Press in Terror Tales of The Seaside. I'm obviously very thrilled about this as I highly respect Ellen and believe her to be one of the most decerning editors in the business.

For life, work and definitely love, this year hasn't disappointed at all.

Happy New Year all - I'm hoping that 2015 will be even better - but it will be hard to top this one for me.

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