Tis’ the season to be jolly…still?

Well, my lovely bloggers, visitors, friends, fellow nutty inmates…Christmas has come and already passed in a blur of sparkling drinks, party food, crisps, squashed chocolates and merriment! And now New Year has sped past too…!

SAM_5514I for one, have had a lovely Christmas so far and hope you all have too, despite some horrendous weather anomalies both sides of the Atlantic.

For once, I was actually looking forward to the New Year – a milestone I usually dread, after all, who really wants to celebrate getting a year older and reflecting on all those targets you didn’t achieve, things you failed to do or progressive steps you forgot to take? New Year has a way of focusing all the negative things that happened through the year under a fine microscope.

BUT this year…well, this year has been different. It’s been an amazing year in almost every way. Personally, I’ve taken some huge steps forward and the fruition of this should hopefully be evident this time next year…he he he! Professionally, I’ve loved every second of working for my fabulous publishers, Grimbold Books and Kristell Ink. As an author, you simply couldn’t want for more supportive lovely people, we really are all a huge gloriously weird and wacky family, which was so evident at FantasyCon in Nottingham this year. It really was the most fun you can have with your clothes on! 😀 11986568_1137863496242052_4476185573487481831_n[1]

Artistically and creatively, it’s been a great year as not only has my epic illustrated fantasy, White Mountain, been doing rather well, but I’ve been book signing up and down the West Country and Wales, moderated my first fantasy convention panel, was invited as an author and illustrator to take part in the Cirencester Literary Festival (which was awesome and a complete sell out) and managed to not only write a bunch of new short stories (which have been and are being published), but even took part and succeeded in my first ever Nano write! Nano Winner 2015 Certificate

So all in all, it’s been a frenetic, hectic, manic year and although I am completely knackered, I wouldn’t have it any other way!

So…what for 2016? Did I make any New Year’s resolutions to be broken a few weeks later?

No.

What I will say, is that 2016 will bring more creative projects. After having struggled with my illness and writing, Nano showed me that I CAN beat my stupid condition and I CAN novel write again. So with renewed vigor, I intend to finish the sequel to White Mountain, Darkling Rise, which has taken me so long (I promise to my beloved White Mountain fans that it WILL be worth the wait!), and I will finish my other dark fantasy novel, Ravenwing, that I wrote 50K words of for Nano and which I am stupidly excited about! I will also finish my first picture book, already written and in stasis while I paint the 24 full page illustrations! Wow! I had NO idea just how much work goes into a picture book when you are writing AND illustrating it…but I must say, it is something rather special. I don’t mind being uncharacteristically optimistic and saying that this could be something huge… 😀 xxx

So, whatever your plans for 2016, my advice is to…

be brave and be bold.

If the last few years have taught me anything, and I apologise for the clichés here…but life really isn’t a rehearsal, it speeds past in the briefest of flashes and before you know it all those hopes and dreams you had are fizzled into nothing. My dear fellow insomniac friend, Lindsey J Parsons, who I used to chat to late into the wee small hours, really grasped life by the horns. She had so many hopes and dreams, she achieved many of them but had many more to accomplish that tragically never came to pass as she died suddenly on 5th January 2014.

295755[1]I think of her often and try to use her wonderful example to spur me on and to ignore that self-doubt, that negative voice that cripples so many writers.

What are you hoping for in 2016?

To steal a phrase from the book and film, ‘We bought a zoo’, (which ironically I have a personal connection too as I used to teach Benjamin Mee’s nieces, so knew all about the family and there predicament and the Hollywood film based on their lives)…

“Sometimes all you need is twenty seconds of INSANE courage…and I promise you, something great will come of it.”

So…what 20 seconds of insane courage do you need this year to accomplish your dreams?

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As my little blog passes 45,000 visitors for which I am truly humbled, honoured and more than a little surprised…it makes me reflect on what life is and what hopes and dreams I have for it. Remember, it is NEVER too late to change your life.

Whatever 2016 brings to you, believe in yourself, be brave and bold and don’t let your fears stop you from following your dreams.

😀 xxxx

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A pinch and a punch for the first of the month…a slap and a kick for being so quick!

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December! Really? How the hell did that happen? Only a blink ago it was the summer, then Autumn turned our gardens to a deeper shade of gold, now shop windows are frosted with aerosols, lights dangle overhead, brightly coloured trees sprout up like iced gems all around us…Chritsmas is upon us!

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Wow…

Well, although like most of us, the thought of another year passing, another year older, sends a slight shudder down my spine, I do LOVE Christmas. I love everything about it, it’s ridiculous optimism, that childish sense of magic in the air, over indulgent cupboards and fridges bursting at the seams, all those naughty treats you deprive yourself of, now suddenly tangible…you have the best excuse in the world for nibbling those crisps, those heavy fudge cakes, or sugary treats, hey it’s Christmas! Forget the diets, guys!

I find myself being a child again at this time of year. Yes, for me I HAVE to get my tree up on the 1st December, decorated and glowing and green…and although it’s branches are less green now and more than a little crispy, I adore every moment. LOVE IT!!!! 011

So, in the chilly air, we got our Christmas trees, one enormous 7ft 6″ leviathan for the living room, the bushiest tree I have ever seen – so bushy in fact it that it got stuck in the netting machine gizmo, where it took three of the tree guys to force it through! Then we have a smaller tree for the hall, looking cheerily out of the window to welcome all. Christmas 2013 022

Then it’s the yearly struggle to remember which ‘safe place’ we’ve snaffled the Christmas boxes in, messily taped up to try to contain the copious amounts of decorations in. It is true that I cannot throw ANY Christmas decorations away and for the last twenty years I’ve had a tradition where I buy one new Christmas decoration every year, so now I have loads!

After fiddling with stands and buckets, trimming tree-tops, pruning trunks, we had the trees up and looking proud.

Christmas 2013 011Lol, okay, I admit to a slight idiot move on my part…er…namely cutting too much off the top of our perfect tree so I kind of ruined the look of it, but, I’m nothing if not creative, so some wire, superglue & sticky tape later, and I’d reattached the top & stuck the star on to cover up my cock-up. Looks beautiful now! 003 (2)

Then it’s the usual tangle of fairy lights…it doesn’t matter how carefully you put them away, the little buggers will tangle themselves involuntarily! Amazing all lights were working…ahem, after a sale last year, I found myself facing over 800 fairy lights! 400 on each tree would look ridiculous, right? Amazingly we could have used more, they just seemed to disappear in the branches!

049Oh, but what lovely festive fun! For the first time in months I actually found myself laughing, an amazing feat given that I was so ill through November. But like a tonic, the Christmas spirit is definitely rubbing off on me and all those around. An easing of the spirit. Somehow, the challenges and difficulties of 2013, a year I shall never forget though I’d like to, seem to dissolve against such magical optimism. Problems may be large or small, but they CAN be overcome, they CAN be solved!

Positive thinking, right? Yes, yes, YES! 😀

Christmas 2013 052Anyway, advent calendar windows opened, dangling Father Christmas decorations up, decorations on doors, garlands over mantlepiece and up the stairs rails, and cheesy baubles on trees. LOVE it!

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One other lovely thing, that I will definitely make a Tallis tradition, is going around the garden with a pair of secateurs, taking branches of fir, spruce and holly. Why pay for a Holly wreath or bow, when you can make one?! SOOOO simple and satisfying to do, just a little wire to hold the branches together and a red bow, viola! One instant door decoration and so special as it’s from your own garden!

IChristmas 2013 032f you don’t have fir, spruce or holly available, confer branches would work just as well.

Then, of course, it’s the long process of Christmas card writing – which depending on your mood, can either be a gloriously relaxing affair, or a stressful nightmare! The worst, is drawing up your list, desperately wracking your brain over your second cousin removed and her new hubby whose name you can’t remember, hoping you haven’t forgotten anyone, grumbling over the cost of stamps as they increase every year, finding too many cards and not enough envelopes and writing the wrong addresses on the wrong cards, before rushing off to make sure you’ve posted all your overseas ones before the cut off! Manic? yes, but still lovely! 🙂

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Luckily managed to do all mine this year, including the overseas ones, with time to spare! Wow, that’s a first!

Yes…December has arrived in all its glittering shinyness and though I may miss the blissful heat of summer, nothing beats a crackling log fire and some hearty cheer!

So whatever you’re doing, whatever you’re plans, wherever you are, here’s wishing you all a wonderfully happy, magical and glorious Christmas and festive season!

😀 xxxxxxx

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Merry Christmas Everyone! 😀 xxxx

Magical memories are made of this…

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We may not have the frozen pipes, blankets of white or the crisp beauty of frost on windows, crunch of grass under foot or the gasp of cold air…but this has been a wonderful Christmas full of magic and beauty.

SAM_2051Although the incessant drip drip of rain-soaked days threaten to dampen spirits, the whole mystique of Christmas remains the same as it did when I was a child.

SAM_2015Fridges and freezers groaning with food, fires blazing, candles lit, presents nestling like small children beneath laden Christmas tree boughs. The whole twinkling wonderment of it. Then the intoxicating smells – roasting chestnuts, spruce, the sweet zestiness of clementines, the smoke of coal and seasoned logs, the heady scent of Christmas itself…pure joy!

So, despite the downpours, wellies caked in mud, garden perpetually waterlogged, the drabness all around, the spirit of Christmas is well and truly alive. Family, friends, loved ones and the unmistakable air of magic…what more could anyone wish for? 😀

Hoping you all had a fabulous Christmas too! xx

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