What do you control?

What to do when things don't go to plan, a new short story, convention news, Marvel Blood Hunting or what will I choose: Doctor Who or Star Wars?

What do you control?
Credit: Hemera Technologies via Canva Pro

Hello there!

It's a packed newsletter this week with the announcement of a short story in an exciting new anthology, an overseas convention appearance for your diary and some REALLY difficult questions, but before we get into all that, I want to get real for a moment...

Last week was tough. A lot of weeks are tough as a freelancer. In my case, there's been a flurry of jobs that I thought were safe, fees that were expected, that have suddenly, without warning evaporated. It's one of the things that no one ever prepares you for, but you have to learn to swallow. Even now, after fourteen years of freelance life, it still hits me like a brick.

Last week was no different. I went through the usual reactions. Shock. Anger. Worry. And yes, the imposter syndrome went into overdrive. "Ha, ha, ha," the little demon in my head cackled, "I told you that you weren't any good. That's why the projects have vanished...because you're rubbish. It's your fault. No one will ever employ you again!"

It's not true (although the fear that future jobs are going to evaporate as well is always there because, again, Imposter Syndrome!) None of the projects have vanished because of me. They've all been the result of external factors that I have absolutely no control over.

And that's the kicker! Most of the time, as a gigging writer, you have very little control at all, yet another thing you don't know when you start out, or at least, don't really appreciate.

So what do you do when work vanishes? Panic? Absolutely. See above for the aforementioned 'shock/anger/worry' cycle. The sudden disappearance of cash flow is terrifying. No wonder I had a few restless nights, wallowing in the midst of my own pity party. And, do you know what, there's nothing wrong with that. It's a natural reaction. I even allowed myself to go and buy an incredibly unhealthy breakfast and a GINORMOUS coffee. But I wasn't about to let the demons win. As I waited for my full English with all the trimmings, I broke out a notebook and wrote exactly how I felt, warts and all, pouring my heart onto the page. First came the lamenting, then the catastrophising, before – finally – what I really needed kicked in.


The truth of the matter is that s**t happens in every career, and at that precise moment in time, it had happened to me, so what was I going to do about it, huh?

Well, nothing, actually.

What could I do other than make the best of a crappy situation? Railing against it wouldn't help. In fact, it would acheive the opposite, so I continued listing the things I could control, including my reaction to the change in plans. I'd done my raging, my gnashing of teeth. Now it was out of my system I needed to respond with grace, especially if I was going to make the best of a bad job.

And then there were the good things... and the more I listed, the more I remembered that good things were happening elsewhere. Great things. Things that could bridge the gap. Things that I could now do, because time had unexpectedly opened up in my schedule. People I wanted to work with. People who wanted to work with me! (Put that in your pipe and smoke it, Imposter Syndrome!)

Why am I sharing this? Because I'm hoping for sympathy? Boo-hoo, poor Cav. Someone get the boy a kleenex. No. I don't need that. Life is still good despite the disappointments, but the truth is that we don't often talk about this side of the business, focusing instead on the wins, those Instagram moments you can shout about from the top of celebratory mountains. That's what we see from most careers...the announcements...the spin...but for every win there is a loss, multiple losses sometimes and we need to share those too, as well as the lesson that I so often forget, even after all this time: Obsessing about events, people or situations you can't control only makes it worse. It'll eat away at you, preventing you from seeing the way forward.

Because usually the path ahead is there, it's just not always obvious at first...


So, let's talk about some of those great things!

Announced over the weekend, I have a short story in Folk Horror, a Beyond & Within anthology edited by Paul Kane and Marie O'Regan for Flame Tree Publishing!

Just look at the table of contents! Look at those names!

What an honour to be included among some of my heroes, and friends too!

Folk Horror, containing The Grim, a brand new original story by me, goes on sale 9th July 2024. Get your pre-orders in!

Also recently announced, I'm heading back to Vichy, France for Générations Star Wars et SF 2024 at the end of April, and this time I'm going with my pal and fellow Star Wars: The High Republic author, George Mann!

As you can see from the graphic, the convention takes place on the 27/28th April and is organised by Héritiers de la Force! More information when I can share!

Talking about THR, the High Republic team is very well represented in Marvel's upcoming Blood Hunt event. As revealed last week, I'm writing Union Jack the Ripper, but I'm not alone with Daniel José Older writing the Strange Academy mini tied into the event, and Justina Ireland pitting The Amazing Spider-Man against Morbius!

How cool is that Spidey cover?

Keep your eyes peeled for more superhero news from me.

In the meantime, Enemy Earth recently wrapped up in 2000AD with a cover by co-creator Luke Horsman. Luke talks about the process of creating the cover over on the 2000AD website!

And in case you missed it, Luke also recently shared his choices for a Perfect Sunday right here on the Cavletter!


Revealed a short while ago, the cover of Star Wars: The High Republic #6 has been included in Marvel's May solicitations.

Someone close to the Jedi fell from grace long ago, but there’s always good in people...isn’t there?
FORCE USERS clash as a rogue FREEWIELDER terrorizes the sacred streets of an ancient moon.
Plus, secrets are revealed as the STARLIGHT JEDI reunite!
But how long will their alliance last?

Yup, we're heading back to Phase II and Jedha for one issue only! The art for this issue has been hitting my inbox all week (another fantastic thing) and I'll hopefully be sharing some sneak peeks in upcoming editions of this newsletter so keep subscribed!

Star Wars: The High Republic #6 drops 3rd April, 2024 so talk to your friendly comic book store to pre-order your copy today! You won't want to miss this one!


And there's just enough time for more of your questions. Keep 'em coming!

On Instagram, Away From Reality Collectables asks:

"Would you ever be an ARC reader for a book if you liked the concept."

For those who don't know, ARC means Advanced Reader Copy, early editions of a book that are sent out to reviewers before publication. They're also often sent out to fellow writers to provide 'blurbs', those little tag lines you see on novels and comics. 'THE BEST BOOK SINCE THE COMPLETE HISTORY OF SLICED BREAD!' That kind of thing.

I'm often approached by publishers and authors to read ARCs and blurb books and do whenever I can, although it depends largely on time as I have to read a lot for work already and I try to keep time to read for myself too. At the moment, I've got a backlog of ARCs piling up, so thanks for the reminder!

Brad Wisher asks me the most difficult question of all:

"Star Wars or Doctor Who?"

How could you, Brad? How could you?

It's so hard. Both have literally shaped me, but if you put a blaster (or a Dalek fire stick) to my head and made me choose, I'd... I'd...

I'd cry.

Okay, okay, I'm stalling for time.

Doctor Who was my first love and I think if I was stranded on a desert island / planet and could only take the complete works of one of the franchises, from a purely practical point of view I'd probably choose Who over SW if only because with 875 episodes of Doctor Who and thousands of comics, audios and novels, Who would probably give me more to occupy my time.

I'd still be writing my own Star Wars stories though.

Did I dodge a bullet there? Maybe, maybe not. Let's hop to the next question.

Alacritous13 asks:

"Is the Hyperspace Stories Jaxxon annual slated for a wider release, either digital or physical?"

In all honesty, I just don't know Alacritous. That's a question for the publisher Dark Horse. I do have some copies available in my web store though!

Finally, comac_cosplay asks:

"Whose beard was more luxurious, Vildar Mac or Stellan Gios'?"

Woah! Don't put me in that situation Comac! What is it with these impossible choice today?

In all honesty, I reckon Stellan took more care over his facial hair, pondering his relationship with the Force as he groomed of a morning. It might have even formed part of his meditation. Vildar strikes me as the kind of guy who just gets up and gets on with it. I think his beard may have been fuller, but not as glossy.

I wonder what my fellow THR authors think?

Forget what I said above: THESE ARE THE KIND OF BURNING QUESTIONS I LOVE, although I will also answer whatever I can about writing and the creative process in total! Keep them rolling in by replying in the comments or via the AMA page on my website.


And that's another newsletter done.

As always, if you think someone you know will enjoy these posts please forward this email or share online. Your friend, family member or bloke you just met down the pub can subscribe here!

Until next time, speak soon and stay safe!