Cate had another week off work after the honeymoon, allowing us to relax a little... and to get on with stuff like writing thank you notes (a lot of them!) and, among other things, buying a new bed! (Our existing one is a cheapo model with a knackered mattress.) Thanks to all the people whose gifts have made that possible.
Cate and I both decided recently to work together at losing weight and getting into better physical shape; that was after I was referred for a talk on bariatric surgery (aka weight-loss surgery) at the end of March. We both came away with a strong 'HELL NO' attitude to it, but if anything it made us more committed to living healthier lives. And it's been working. A couple of years ago, I was 24 stone (that's 336 pounds, to US readers) and had managed to drop to about 23, but my weight was stuck around there. By the time we got married, I was down to 22 stone.
Then came the honeymoon, and there was a lot of going out for meals and eating that extremely nice ice cream they do in Barmouth. By the time we got home, we'd both some - but by no means all - of the weight back on.
Initially I tried to go straight back to counting calories, keeping to 1800 or less a day. Didn't work; I kept getting hungry between meals, craving sweets and treats. So I indulged myself. A little. Not as much. But bit by bit, I've eased myself back into my old routine.
Today, I weighed myself, and for the first time in years, I'm under 22 stone. Okay, 21 stone, 13 and a quarter pounds, but psychologically speaking, that's a big milestone. Next target - 21 stone and less than ten pounds. Then less than 21 and a half stone. And so on. Baby steps. They work.
They work with the writing, too. While I'm still able to write full-time, I need to make every day count. That means not only Devil's Highway and the remaining Black Road novels, but short stories and a couple of other WIPs that I'm struggling to find time to work on, not to mention the 'admin' side of things - everything from finding writing markets for stories and submitting them, to putting together a list of my short stories for my agent, doing something about a tribute anthology I inherited, booking tickets for a show, applying for grants and bursaries, writing some spec non-fiction articles... all the little bits of stuff that need doing but keep getting put off because of the big tasks.
Albeit slowly, and not without stress. Just this morning, I found the end of one chapter missing. I know I recorded it, but the file isn't where it's supposed to be. It might be on the old laptop, if I can get the damned thing running again. If not... well, I'll try not to panic. Get it typed up, then write in any missing bits. One problem at a time.
But as, piece by piece, the story materialises in concrete form, I find I'm getting excited about it again, remembering why Helen and Gevaudan and the rest got my interest in the first place. My only worry is how little time I've left myself to get everything fixed and ready. All hands to the pump.
I got in touch with my agent on my return; he's reading Black Mountain and enjoying it, which is good news! He'll have some notes soon, and hopefully a way forward for Mynydd Du to rise once more. In addition, I need to put together a full listing of all my short fiction for him... (see 'Admin') My Dad's reading Black Mountain too, mainly to make sure I haven't screwed up monumentally with my Welsh. Apparently he's enjoying it as well, though, even though he's not particularly a horror fan...
The final piece of news is a sadder one: Gary Fry today announced that, after over a decade, he is closing down Gray Friar Press. Gary is, and has been from the word go, a class act. I have him to thank for publishing two of my story collections, Pictures Of The Dark and The Condemned, and it was also down to him that my short story 'The Moraine' first saw print (later to be reprinted in Ellen Datlow's Best Horror Of The Year.
I'm just one of numerous authors given a break and a start by Gary. He's also been an absolute model of how to run a small press: when the printing firm Biddles went into administration, making it cost-ineffective to proceed with the hardback of The Condemned, he promptly refunded those who'd pre-ordered it, offered them copies of the paperback and also provided them with a PDF of the additional story the hardback should have included. On top of that, he took the hit caused by the money lost, while still paying me the full royalties owing for the book.
That, ladies and gentlemen, is how it's done.
Gray Friar has been a solid bulwark of the UK small press, and it's very sad to see it go. Here's to Gary and all he does in the future.
And on that note.... have a good weekend, folks.