Hello there - I just realized I haven’t put a new post up for a while! Quite a lot has been going on, though, and I’ve been kept pretty busy.

Here in the the south east of the UK we had our first snow of the winter yesterday - up to four or six inches around London, but there was only a thin coating where I live.  I’m a big fan of snow - but then I get to work from home, so I don’t need to go out in it, except to go down to the bottom of the garden with a kettle to un-freeze the water in the bird baths and keep the wildbird food topped up.

My wife Claudia has to go out in the bad weather, poor thing! But it’s only a fifteen minute drive for her to work, so it’s not so very bad - and today she brought home our Christmas tree. I’ve just set it up by my desk, and I’m going to let it settle for a while before we start to decorate it. Because Claudia is German, we tend to decorate German-style - which means all white and silver with just a touch of red here and there. The lights are white and the hanging balls and bells and stars are silvery, plus we drape lameter over the tree.  We inherited the hanging balls from Claudia’s parents - they are very delicate and made of very thin glassy stuff - so we have to be careful with them. Fortunately, Siouxsie the cat doesn’t find them interesting, or there would definitely be trouble.

Anyway, my chief purpose in writing this post is to let you know the results of that story writing competition that Marisa set up on the fan site a few months back. I have now had the chance to read through all the entires.

I’ll tell you guys one thing - every one who entered could make a living from writing if they wanted, I’m totally sure of that. I enjoyed every single one, and it was really hard to come up with a winner.

I was especially excited to read the ones that dealt with other aspects of the world of Faerie - like “Before Anita”, where Liz explained really well what it must have been like for Princess Tania when she first stepped into the Mortal World and got sick. And “Her Little Doll” by Laurelei was a great idea - seeing the attack of the Sorcerer King from the perspective of someone else in Faerie. I really liked that one a lot. And Kayla’s story of how childhood wings faded with first love was great - it’s such fun for me to see you guys taking part of the world of Faerie and adding stuff to it.

Christina’s Moon Spirit worked really really well, I thought - the idea of a love found but almost immediately lost was very intense. Oh, and I adored Reese’s idea of the elf who could make a carnation out of snow. That is a very Faerie idea indeed! I want to make a special mention of Kayla’s The Pigs On The Furniture story. I thought that was fantastic - totally weird but funny and engaging and a lot of fun. Come up with more stuff like that, Kayla, and you’re set for life!

But in the end - and it took a while, I can tell you - the story that really worked best for me was the one by Arya - the story of Ikos the Selkie. I know there are lots of stories out there of people saved by merfolk and suchlike, but somehow this story just rang really true to me - and also left a lot of questions unanswered, which is what a good short story ought to do, in my opinion. How had Elizabeth’s parents drowned? What kind of world is this story set in? Will Elizabeth survive her leap of faith? What is the underwater kingdom like? Do selkies always hear the thoughts of people about to drown, or was there a special bond between Ikos and Elizabeth? I really like thinking through questions like that after I’ve read a story. It leaves me wanting to know more.

So, well done Arya - all you now need to do is to go the the Contact Page and send me a message with your full address on it, and with the name you’d like the book dedicated to when I sign it. Then you’ll need to be patient with me for about 6 weeks, I think. I’m expecting to receive my copies of The Enchanted Realm a week or so before publication - 1st Feb next year - and I’ll sign and send your copy off as soon as I get it.

I do have more news - but I think I’ll save that for later…it’s nothing mind-blowing - just some updates on what’s going on work-wise for me. So, for now, congratulations to Arya - and I guess its maybe time for me and Marisa to come up with another competition. Anyone out there got any ideas?