Sunday thoughts – things learned this week.

Something this past fortnight has shown me is just how many people I know and work with have a close connection to the NHS. Another thing I’ve learned this past week, reading reports from Spain and Italy, is how appalling the impact of all this will be on all of them, to a greater or lesser extent, I’m not (just) talking about the risks of serious illness that they all face, but the effect of being far closer to mass deaths than any of the rest of us. So staying home when we can, and keeping our distance when we can’t takes on an added personal dimension, as well as being essential for the greater good.

So I’m doing what I can, for the GP my friend T is married to, and for my friend B’s partner the ICU nurse, for my friend S’s brother the nurse-manager, for young L and my long-standing friend K who work in hospital admin, and for my friend G’s in-law the hospital pharmacist. Those are merely the ones that come immediately to mind.

Something else I have learned is how good it is for morale to actually see someone’s face and hear their voice when we’re catching up with more than just work stuff. Keeping in touch by messages, email and texts is great, but the added impact of that personal connection, when my day to day contacts are now just the family really surprised me. I foresee a lot more Skype and Zoom in my future.

In other news, we are both still working so won’t be tackling any new/overdue exciting projects or taking up a musical instrument or learning a new language in some wealth of unexpected down time. The usual chores remain, and yesterday I caught up with the ironing. So far, so routine – except I keep finding the new surreality intruding into such mundane things. I ironed the last shirt and stopped in my tracks to wonder how long it will be before I’m doing that again. I have no idea and nor does anyone else. (Yes, I iron my husband’s work shirts. No, that does not make me a bad feminist. How we apportion tasks is up to us.)

We have done some sorting out of the Son in the North’s erstwhile bedroom to give the Husband a better workspace for the duration. Now, I freely admit I am not a tidy person and I am inclined to hold on to stuff, as friends and family will attest. The final thing I learned this week is, compared to my younger son, I am Marie bloody Kondo…

Free reading for the cooped-up, from me and other writers

There’s been a flurry of SF&F authors having a look in the back cupboards of their hard drives this week, to see what stories they could make available for free. We know a lot of readers have time on their hands just at the moment, but we are also well aware that they may be finding themselves uncertain as to prospects for their bank balance and bills for the next however-long.

With the always invaluable assistance of Cheryl at Wizard’s Tower Press, and artist Ben Baldwin, I’m offering up The Wizard’s Coming, a short story that stands alone, and as such, should give a good introduction to my style and my approach to epic fantasy. In the overall chronology of my successive epic fantasy series, it sits between The Lescari Revolution trilogy and The Hadrumal Crisis trilogy, so there’s added interest if you’ve read those books.

You can download the ebook in your preferred format from Wizard’s Tower Press here – worldwide.

You should also check out the BSFA page where a whole lot of interesting things are on offer.

Looking forward, Cheryl and I are also working on making some Aldabreshin Compass short fiction available as ebook singles. Details to follow in due course.

Meantime, happy reading, and hoping you and yours are well.

Welcome to the new normal – abnormal…

It’s all very odd, isn’t it? Not to say unsettling. And there is so little we can do about any of this – apart from staying home, washing our hands and keeping our distance when we have to go out for essentials and shopping responsibly when we do that.

So what am I blogging about? Well, not everyone I know is on Twitter or Facebook, so I thought a few updates here wouldn’t go amiss. I’m happy to say me and mine are fine. Mum and Stepdad are in Hampshire and my elder brother lives locally there, so he’s shopping etc for them. My dad and stepmother are down in South Wales and they have a whole lot of support already in place as they are now both registered blind. The Son in the North is now working from home up there and if Resident Son ends up out of work, he’s okay here with us.

Husband is working from home now – which is a bit distracting as there are a lot of conference calls going on, but that’s a minor consideration. We don’t have school age kids which must be a whole other nightmare. The social distancing message seems to have got through hereabouts and people are being polite and considerate overall. While there are minor hassles with what is or isn’t available in the supermarkets, we routinely keep a well-stocked freezer and store cupboard – as we have the funds, space and car to do that. I am very well aware that a lot of folk are facing far more difficulties.

So I can get on with my own work much as usual. And at the moment that means working flat out on the third Green Man book, a rescue plan for the Ancient Greek murder mysteries that I’m writing under a pseudonym, and another project that hasn’t been announced yet. Unless of course someone here or one of the assorted parents/my brother falls ill, in which case all bets are off. But at the moment, all we can do is take things day to day, don’t you think?

With aikido suspended for the duration and not wanting to risk the gym since before they were closed, I have started doing some yoga in the lounge first thing in the mornings. Sooty settles down to watch, paws tucked up and ears pricked. Curious cat meets downward dog.

So that’s about it for now. Take care of yourselves and stay home!