Wednesday, 30 June 2021

June Review

At the end of May, the Loki trailer dropped, and that night I had a dream. There was a woman and she'd been helping him, and gotten shot for her troubles. She'd survived the actual shot, but was bleeding out. Loki used his frost powers to stem the flow.

Beyond that, I had nothing. Yet the scene stuck in my head. I caved and wrote it, hoping to excise it. Instead, the more I wrote, the more I fell in love with the story. I knew that writing anything Loki-related was risky - especially with the series imminent - but I couldn't stop.

I didn't stop all the way through June.

According to 4thewords, I wrote 27,784 words. Being entirely honest, that number isn't accurate as some of it was rewritten, meaning there's two versions of some chapters. Plus I cheated to finish the Pride events. Say half of that is usable, it's still close to 14K.

And that, my friends, ain't half bad.

Saturday, 8 May 2021

Entangled like ivy

 It’s now eight weeks since I got the news that Cliff had passed away. It is still extremely hard and I continue to feel his loss keenly. So keenly, in fact, it’s taken me this long to write this post.

It might strike some as bombastic to say that without Cliff I’d not be published, but it’s the truth. I had made the shift from fanfiction to original before I got to know him, but the stories sat on my hard drive, unfinished. I was still writing fanfic and one of the ways I got to know the characters was by reading interviews with the actors that played them. I was reading an interview that Gateworld had done with Cliff around five years before when I read a simple, but life-changing comment.

[…] as an actor [connecting at conventions] is so important, because without the viewers, we wouldn’t have a job. If you don’t have people watching you, you’re not an actor.

I realised that writing only made me a writer – to become an author, I needed readers. Straight off that realisation, I hunted down open submissions and found one for apocalypse romance. I wrote IRONHAVEN in 20 days, just making the closing date. It was turned down from that anthology, but it didn’t matter – I’d finished a book. The next day following the rejection, I submitted it elsewhere, this time being offered a contract.

The hero in IRONHAVEN is named Lucien Hoyt, his surname stolen with little guilt from the character Cliff would have played had DUST been commisioned. And so it goes – TIN CAT’s Hunter Gray might not sound like it, but he’s “dressed like Blade,” or Baal in Continuum. And then there’s ARCHANGEL.

Cliff often said he played villains because “heroes were boring.” I bet him I could write one that wasn’t, but it wasn’t until NCIS: Los Angeles that Gabriel Kemp was born. Again, I stole the character name. Heck, I stole the episode title. Gabe was not a good man. Though I never dug deep into his past, he’s left for dead because of his underworld dealings. Even offered a second chance, he tries to do things his own way. He’s hard and stubborn, and he doesn’t need a pretty young woman complicating his life, thank you very much.

I wrote about half of ARCHANGEL as a script. What I’d have done with it, I’ve no idea, but Gabe was always Cliff. Once I decided to turn the story into a book, I even asked him about cover art. Sadly, it proved beyond my means. But that was one of things discussed at Chevron, during that precious forty minutes that changed my life. I have carried his comments about my stories being “only e-books” ever since. One does not forget a scolding from Cliff Simon, no matter how mild. Ahem.

ARCHANGEL wasn't the last to “star” him – AMAZING GRACE is poorly disguised fanfiction with as many Stargate references as I could squeeze into without getting called out. I’m not sure if he read it. I kind of hope so, because I think it would have amused him.

Friday, 12 March 2021

Cliff Simon

I've spent ten minutes trying to come up with a blog title. In the end, all I can manage is his name.

In the small hours of 12 March, Colette Simon posted on Facebook that Cliff had been killed in a kite-boarding accident Tuesday lunchtime. I was on Twitter at the time, and knocked sideways. I'm writing this through tears of incredible grief and loss, yet know I'm one of many to mourn him.

Cliff and I knew each other for over eight years. It started on Twitter during a live podcast of his episode of The Americans. His character pretended to be drunk and sang. Cliff mentioned that he'd been asked to record an album after winning Mr South Africa but had refused because he "sang like shit." I commented that singing like shit had worked for David Hasselhoff. Cliff friended me and so began a friendship of sorts that will always be incredibly precious to me.

We met a few years later, at Chevron 8.0. His Sunday meet-and-greet was cancelled, so I invited him for a drink, never imagining he'd agree. We spent 40 minutes talking about everything and nothing. My writing was mentioned and he was so supportive. So encouraging. He is the reason I'm published and I'm very thankful to have had the opportunity to tell him that.

He was also unbelievably supportive after H's stroke. He'd pop into my DMs and ask after him. When we had a Zoom call last month, "How's your man doing?" was the first thing he asked me. "Tell him I was asking after him," he requested, which of course I did.

I have lost a limb. A piece of my heart. I cannot imagine going on without him, yet I must. We were due another Zoom next Saturday, and my heart aches at everything I was going to tell him but now can't. All those stupid, rude jokes. The silly memes we'd bat between us. That smile, that laugh, those tight hugs.

I love you, Cliff, and I will miss you forever.

Thursday, 11 February 2021

All out of spoons

I began 2021 with definite plans. Then my eldest son's girlfriend was killed in a road traffic accident.

This was apparently the straw which broke me - two years after H's stroke, after nine months of lockdown, the death of my father-in-law and my best friend's mum, and obviously the constant strain of caring for H, I'm worn thin and on the brink.

Last Friday I started counseling. God, I need it. There's been no time to process anything. I've been stuck in survival mode, and I am so. Damn. Tired. An utter lack of any kind of support through lockdown hasn't helped. I feel overwhelmed, isolated, and frustrated.

Writing has barely happened. I had hoped it was just January blues, but I now think it's all related. Adding on the stress of writing - of trying to hit targets - has compounded those feelings of overwhelm and frustration (the latter largely because I can't cope with the former, ironically enough.)

So I'm giving myself time off. At least a couple of weeks while I work through some of the bottled up emotions and get my head straight.