Good and bad things that happened while I was away

You might have noticed I’ve been away a while. Here are some things that happened during that time, rated by whether they are awesome or rubbish.

I love reading blog posts that give advice. If I’m already taking the advice I feel smug I’m doing things right, and if I’m not I feel like a daring rebel.

Either way, win!

I once read some advice that if you take a break from blogging and then return you shouldn’t draw attention to the fact you’ve been away. Just continue posting as you were, and most people won’t notice you were gone.

Uh, I think in this case that ship has not only sailed, it’s been eaten by a kraken.

So yes, I’ve been away, and the elephants have carried the world on through the void, as elephants are wont to do.

Here are a few other things that happened, which I know about because they happened to me, I read about them (everything you read online is true, remember?), or I made them up.

I probably didn’t make them up.

1. I missed talking with so many cool writer friends online. Rating: one wretched unicorn sobbing a pool of tears

2. More people bought Colleen Hoover’s books than bought the Bible. Rating: awesome if you’re her, rubbish if you suffer from serious writer envy

3. I quit four fifths of my day job and currently have the time and energy to write. Rating: awesome until I run out of savings

4. My website and blog didn’t vanish in my absence, but my hosting service auto-charged me so much I’m going to need to be here for the next ten thousand years to make this worthwhile. Rating: I’m undecided about spots

5. Wordle happened. If you’re not familiar with this bite-sized game, I have some advice on how to make your life infinitely better. Get a cat. Rating: great (note the five letter word), though not as good as cats

6. Writers still like cats. Rating: do I need to rate this? Seriously?

7. I rewrote my About page. Rating: three camels

Camels walking across sand dunes
My new About page is as good as these three camels. What do you mean, “they have five heads”?

8. I got three years older. Don’t be smug. So did you. We also got three years wiser. Rating: I’ll take it

9. I solved the problem of having to eat every day (give or take). Rating: a self-confident moose… until I eat my solution every day for a week

10. Twitter got a new overlord who, as I understand it, likes advertising and some very nasty people, and doesn’t like us having fun with our friends. A lot of writers left. Rating: a big steaming pile of dragon poo

11. I burned out and stopped writing. I recovered and started writing again.

12. I wrote 33k of a new book (deserts! camels! giant scorpion demons!), then reread my old WIP, fell in love with it, and went back to editing it (but with a better plan). Rating: the best dragon hugs ever

13. I decided I had a better chance of surviving the apocalypse if I was fit (because we all know another apocalypse is coming, it’s just a matter of which one gets here first). I started running, hurt my Achilles tendon, and couldn’t run for two years. Rating: zombie fodder

14. I found the book I should have found two years earlier, Built from Broken by Scott F Hogan, and fixed my Achilles. Rating: does running ever get easier?

15. I read lots of books and liked some. I found dozens of books I didn’t remember buying on my kindle. Fairies? If so, thank you and I won’t question your taste in public.

16. I contemplated learning to write short stories, read a bunch of stories I didn’t understand, and decided to think about it. Rating: strawberry popsicle

Three pink popsicles in glasses
This is how I feel about learning to write short stories.

17. Two big traditional publishers were told they weren’t allowed to become one big traditional publisher, and said some embarrassing things in court. Rating: according to Stephen King, delightful

18. Yet traditional publishing seemed to get (even) harder and (even) less rewarding. Rating: three dead sparrows

19. I ate the ultimate breakfast smoothie for monster fighters every day for two years. Rating: one defeated (but still magnificent) forest dragon

20. I started following New Zealand politics and regretted it. Did you know our current prime minister is a guy called Chippy? Chippy?! Who actually seems earnest and sweet, not qualities that will help you fix a broken country. Rating: one post-apocalyptic city

21. I rethought my priorities and came up with a plan to win at life writing. Rating: three peacocks who are not currently moulting

22. Computers learned to write with as much inspiration as a teenager scrolling TikTok but considerably better grammar. Some people got excited. Some people freaked out. Rating: a cute hedgehog, I think

A cute hedgehog
What? You don’t think ChatGPT is as cute as me?

23. After twenty years, we lost His Royal Fluffiness. RIP, HRF. I know the Great Cat will take good care of you. We now have three new cats who deserve to be introduced in their own post.

I also had a peek at what some of my writing friends have been up to. Some no longer exist, at least if you judge by the existence of their blogs. (Please come back as ghosts!) Some have new books. (If that’s you, share them in the comments and I’ll check them out.)

The hilarious and prolific Kim M Watt, whom I interviewed at least once, has written, if I count correctly, about a million more books. Check them out if you want to read about “tea-drinking, crime-solving dragons collaborating with women of a certain age”, a “snarky feline PI and his scruffy human sidekick” or various other odd and delightful characters.

My artistic and multi-talented friend Dewi Hargreaves has become the go-to person for maps to go in the front of books. So if you’re planning to publish a fantasy novel and you want your world to look incredible, check out what he can offer. He also has a new short novel, set in the “shattered remnants of a far-future America, a time in which our own era is nothing more than myth, a time in which monsters walk the Earth again, travel is dangerous, authoritarianism is ever-present, and for most people, every day is a fresh fight for survival.” I can’t wait to read it!

The (much braver than me) Anna Adler published even more steamy romances about aliens. I’ve been beta reading for Anna for years, and her books are always sizzling hot and as entertaining as a salsa-dancing badger. If explicit alien romances are your thing, you should check them out.

What happened in your world while I was away? I want to know everything.

I also have some time right now, so hit me up if you need a beta read. I’ll read the first chapter of any genre and decide from there if I can help you with the full draft.

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Author: A.S. Akkalon

By day, A.S. Akkalon works in an office where the computers outnumber the suits of armour more than two-to-one. By night, she puts dreams of medieval castles, swords, and dragons onto paper.

9 thoughts on “Good and bad things that happened while I was away”

  1. Glad to see you back! I’m one of those who probably seems like they fell off the face of the planet, but I’m still around, just not active. Great to hear that you’re back to writing!

    1. Hi David! Great to hear you’re still around. Active can be a lot of work – nothing wrong with popping up from time to time and giving someone (like me!) a lovely surprise. 🙂

    1. Brady! It’s so great to see you. I hope your life and writing are going well.

      I see you have another book out. Congratulations! I’ll go buy it right now – I really enjoyed reading your first book. (I also re-signed up for your mailing list so next time I won’t be several years behind.)

  2. Welcome back 😀 Sorry to hear about HRF 🙁 Merlin sends his fluffy regards too, he’s 4 now and healthy for the most part, except the hairballs when he’s losing his winter coat!

    I’m still lurking around reading blogs, but haven’t posted myself in *checks* nearly two years, how did that happen? I also changed my WordPress URL in a burst of inspiration when I thought I might start blogging again a few months ago and had confused messages asking why I deleted my blog xD (I didn’t, it’s still there hidden away under a new link for when I eventually return)!

    I’m up to chapter 40 of my Arthurian Legend retelling now, after recovering from a year and a half burnout from my MA in Creative Writing (which was all kinds of demoralising by the end and so not worth it). I also figured out I struggle to blog and write at the same time because I end up putting all the focus on the blog and never writing anything, so I’m finishing my first draft before I post again.

    The name of your Prime Minister made me giggle a little, us Brits often say we’re going down the chippy to refer to our local fish and chip shop!

    Good luck with your writing 😀

    1. Hi Louise, it’s wonderful to hear from you! I did check in on your blog to see if you’d posted recently, but didn’t see anything, so it’s great to get the news directly from you.

      I’m delighted to hear Merlin’s well. Please give him my regards and my condolences on the fluff situation. I know from experience how that can go. (How’s your carpet?)

      I know exactly what you mean about blogging competing with novel writing. I think I used to have my priorities backwards too, with blogging first and my WIP second (or fifth). This time I’ve decided I’m going to try to post twice a week at least until I have my momentum back, but only if I’ve already done an hour on my WIP that day. (I know that might still sound like a lot and maybe it is, but I have the advantage that I’m only working one day a week right now.)

      I’m so sorry the MA didn’t go how you’d hoped. I don’t know where yours went off track, but I have heard many of these are very focussed on literary type writing and don’t appreciate genre (fantasy! dragons!). I think they also tend to involve a lot of short story writing, which wouldn’t suit me well.

      Congratulations on coming back from burnout and making it to chapter 40 of your Arthurian Legend retelling. That’s a lot of writing! I hope you’re finding the love for it again.

      I’d forgotten chippy was what Brits call the F&C shop. Hilarious!

      Good luck with your writing too! 🙂

      1. Thankfully we have hardwood floors, so Merlin is easy to clear up after xD

        I think it was easy to prioritise blogging as it felt easier than writing! Good luck with two posts a week, sounds tough to me and I have a similar amount of free time. (Although I’m also cursed with quite possibly the worst executive dysfunction and time management skills ever!)

        Omg yes, that was exactly the issue with the MA! So much literary focus, lots of dry texts to read as examples, and the big one for me, no appreciation of anything other than books as forms of storytelling. I felt somewhat of an outcast because of my love for TV, and there was only one other fantasy writer in a huge group!

        Thanks 😀 I’m in love with writing again and I’ve been spending 2-4 hours, 4-5 times a week on it, it’s good, but I do want to fit in blogging again once I’m done with the first draft!

        1. Two to four hours a day four or five days a week is great! I imagine you’re powering through your draft at that speed. I can’t wait to read it when you’re ready to share it with the world. Of course, feel free to hit me up for a beta read any time.

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