Spring Is Sprung?

There are snowdrops, daffodils and crocuses out, the magnolia tree on my regular walking route has buds about ready to pop, my hayfever has started up…and I would swear I’ve just seen a snowflake drift past my window! Welcome to spring…

Still, the days are getting longer which always makes things feel better.

And speaking of making things feel better…I have just about got a completed draft of Ved’ma done. I’ve got to do a full read through and there’s a lot of editing needed, so, since I’ve no desire to kill, maim or otherwise stress out my editor, or have them kill me (hi J!), I don’t yet have a release date. Equally, whether this will impact Sage, I’m not sure at this point. Once I have a date, though, that will tell me more and as soon as I know that, I will share that.

And in even more good news, there will be a Friday Fiction piece out this Friday. It is the tie-in piece for Ved’ma and it’s less of a spoiler and more of a tease, being set some some fourteen years prior to where the book begins…

In terms of catching up Friday Fiction, the aim is to get both missing stories done this month, but edits will be the priority. So if both get sorted out, it either means the edits went well, or they’re going very badly!

So that’s where things sit right now. I’m now off to start the read through!

Happy reading 🙂

It’s Groundhog Day…Again…

Fair to say that January has not entirely gone to plan. Some of that’s been weather related, some of that’s been health related and some of that’s been work related, but it’s all meant that instead of a finished draft and a nice short story I have a very large pile of bits…

With that in mind, it is now, officially, “Finish Your Damn Book February” over on Twitter. (There’s even a hashtag you can follow!). My goal is to write between 500 and 1000 words per day during the week, with more over the weekend, until I’m finished. So far, I’ve added around about 5000 words, although I have also done a few chunks of editing as well, so progress is definitely being made. However, with my focus very squarely on Ved’ma, there won’t be a Friday Fiction story this month either, but I plan on catching that up in April.

So that’s where I’m at. Fingers crossed, there’ll be a better update later in the month!

Until then, happy reading 🙂

Year-end Review

A very happy new year to you all. I hope that the holiday season has treated you/is treating you well!

I had planned to do this last weekend but, well, still somewhat lurgified, so here we are.

2022 was another very mixed bag. Some very good stuff, some rather less good stuff, and some stuff that did have me questioning my sanity at times, but overall, it was decently successful for me. I got two books completed and published and while I didn’t get the third one done (more on that in a moment) both it and the final book in the Elsehere series have made some good progress. I also managed to produce 11 pieces of short fiction – a mixture of stuff from my vaults and brand new stuff – and have outlines for at least four more (more on THEM in a moment, too!).

All in all, then, a lot of writing which has (I hope) entertained you through the year.

On to the plans for 2023.

First up is Ved’ma. The good news is I think I’ve managed to iron out the plot wrinkles and things are beginning to make some serious progress again. I’m cautiously optimistic about getting a completed draft done this month, which would allow for February to be editing month with a release in March. It’s still very tentative (obviously) but…there is hope.

Once I get Ved’ma drafted, I’ll be turning my attention to Sage. I’m about half written on this and I know what needs to happen with the rest, but I did have to rethink a location from my original plans, so I also have some rewrites. All in all, it shouldn’t be half as difficult to finish drafting as Ved’ma (and if that sounds like a bad case of famous last words well…let’s hope not!).

After that, it’s on to Hassatar which I have, rather optimistically, suggested will be out in November. I will be continuing to try and nail down the plot/timeline, even while I’m working on the other two, partly so that when I can justifiably sit down and write it, I have the main events properly sequenced. To that end, I now have a spreadsheet with, currently, nine (soon to be ten or eleven!) separate columns to break the timeline down by time zone so that I can visualise the sequence of what’s happening. Given that I have action going off in California, Mexico, UK, Tanzania, Afghanistan and Japan* symultaniously knowing who’s up past their bedtime, who’s spoiling their lunch and who’s just getting breakfast is an absolute sanity saver – not to mention, prevents me from wandering off down a research hole!

*Not an exhaustive list of locations!

Whether I get Hassatar finished this year, or whether it ends up coming out in the early part of next year, only time will tell. But it will, I think, be a satisfying end to the series.

I’ve also got a few ideas about what I’m going to do for NaNo. The most likely option is that I start the work on Ruth Abroad, with Nova Eboracum second, but I may opt to challenge myself and start drafting Ripper as that would be something completely different. For more details on all three, see the Projects page. And somewhere in there this year I also want to get started on the second Gresley book…

On the short story front, I have plans, ideas and drafts for seven brand new short stories this year (so far). My nominal timeline for them is as follows:

  • January – The Dark Watchers, an Elsehere short story
  • February – In A French Café
  • March – A Hard Bargain, an Elsehere short story
  • April – Erlan’s Story, a Paradise Falls building block
  • May – The Reaper, an Elsehere short story
  • June – Graduating First, a Paradise Falls building block
  • July – Lost and Found, an Elsehere short story

Titles are (at least for the later stories) tentative and the schedule is definitely not set in stone at this point – particularly given March’s story depends on Ved’ma being ready for publication! – but it should give at least some idea of what to expect. At least up until the end of July!

Aside from that, there will be Music Monday posts at various points through the year, my usual monthly updates (which will be more frequent if I’ve got a book coming out…!) and I might even get a chance to do some book recs and reviews this year, too.

Should be a fun year. Here’s hoping!

Happy reading 🙂

Friday Fiction: The Sugar Plum Fairy

Season’s greetings to you all! Whether you’re celebrating today or just having a regular Sunday, I hope your day is fabulous.

This, of course, is NOT a Friday; I’m a couple of days late on this due to a research trip and the back end of my traditional NaNo lurgy (which arrived a week late, for a change…) – hopefully January will be a little better in terms of timing and organisation!

This month’s story is a simple one, about hard work, dreams and a little moment of magic.

Read The Sugar Plum Fairy

Happy reading!

Snow Is Falling…

I’m cuddling a wheatbag, snuggled under a chunky blanket and sipping hot black currant. It is COLD! Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind the cold, but in years gone by we’d work down to -2 (current temp). This year? We only had our first frost this week! All in all, a bit of a shock to the system but I have my blanket and my hot black currant and my wheatbag so as long as I don’t have to actually go out, I’m all set!

NaNo is now over and it was definitely not one of my more productive ones. I topped out at around 15k on Hassatar, which is disappointing, but, as I also realised I have some massive pacing and timeline issues, I’m not utterly downcast about it. The big issue is that I have action taking place at the same time in five or six different timezones and two of those timezones have more than one location, so while I know WHAT is happening, I need to work out the when so that things make sense. There’s also a lot of research involved, which largely got put on hold during November and which I now need to go back and do. All in all, it’s a big lot of work (and that’s before you add in the actual writing part!), so I will be taking a day over the holiday season to get it sorted out. Not necessarily getting all the research done, but at least getting the timeline sorted, with notes about just what does need to be researched.

So, if that’s Hassatar, what of Ved’ma? It was mostly on hiatus last month so I’m now starting to pick it up again and trying to work out what needs to be done. As mentioned back in November, the last third needs an overhaul, which I’ve started. Unfortunately, it’s led to the realisation that the middle third also needs a bit of restructuring, so the answer to what needs to be done is: a lot. Fortunately, I have some time over the holidays where I can give it my full attention (rather than doing a bit here and a bit there), which should allow me to finally nail the structure down and might even allow for me to finish the draft.

In rather more positive news, however, Ved’ma now has cover art. As ever, done by the fabulous Enchanted Ink, I think it might be my favourite cover so far (and I’ve absolutely loved all of them!) and I can’t wait to see it in print…

…so I really do need to get the book finished!

On the Sage front, nothing much has changed there. I’m not planning on spending much time on it over the course of this month, although I will take some time over the holidays to do some planning so that when Ved’ma is finished drafting I can just step straight into Sage.

Finally, on the Elsehere front, I am hoping to get a couple of tie-in short stories written over the holiday period for use as Friday Fiction pieces in the new year. These will be stories that don’t, directly, relate to the books but will flesh out some of the other characters. More on those, when they’re ready!

On the Friday Fiction front, this month’s story will be going up on the 23rd and is tentatively titled “Always The Understudy, Never The Lead”.

Finally, the Music Monday series started on Monday. I haven’t (yet) set up the playlist on Spotify, but I will get that sorted out before Monday’s post goes up. (The end of November proved to be a bit more hairy than I was anticipating – normally, I get this sort of thing done well in advance, but this time I’m playing catch up!)

And, I think, that’s it.

Happy reading 🙂

November Rain

So far, November has been decidedly soggy in these parts, to the extent that several new pot holes have formed on my regular walking route. One of them, I found by the expedient of standing on the edge of it and nearly going absolutely headlong. Ouch! A week later and my back is still complaining…

NaNo is in full swing and I’m happy to report that Hassatar is making progress. I wouldn’t necessarily describe it as good progress, but it’s moving forward. I suspect that rather than hitting the 50k target by the end of the month, it will be more like 30k, but I’m happy with that as a target as that will represent (broadly) somewhere near half way and anything over that will be a bonus.

Making rather less in the way of progress, inevitably, is Ved’ma. At this point, there is no chance of me getting this book finished and published this year (even if I were to break my “No December releases” rule), partly because I’ve realised I need to rethink the last third (again), which means unpicking a lot of what I’ve written. It doesn’t change the ending point (which would be a nightmare, given that Sage and Hassatar both rely on the way Ved’ma changes the status quo), but it does mean I’ve still got a lot of work ahead of me. As a consequence, I’m now shooting for a March release date, which pushes Sage to June. The releases page has been updated accordingly.

On one level, I’m really frustrated that I’m not getting this book done this year, but on another I know the delay does mean it will be a better book, and in the mean time I can give my brain a bit of a break by working on Hassatar. So, it probably balances out. Maybe.

What this will mean for the website is that, instead of doing the Ved’ma Elsehere Soundtrack contributions through December, I’ll be doing a short series of posts about pieces of music that have been incredibly important to me, one way or another, As always, there will be a Spotify playlist to go along with it and the first post in the series will go up on Monday 5th December.

On the Friday Fiction front, the piece I was intending to post this month, as a prelude to Ved’ma, will be held back to March (it’s not hugely spoilery, but it would make more sense to post in conjunction with Ved’ma being available), so at this point, I’m not sure what I’ll be posting as Friday Fiction, this time next week! I have a couple of ideas, though, so something will go up next Friday. I’ve also got December’s Friday Fiction in the works (I’m planning on it being a little more…seasonal…this year!), which would close out the year on a reasonable high note.

And that’s everything for this month. I think. Friday Fiction will go up (as I mentioned) next Friday – hopefully this month, I’ll remember to add the link in BEFORE the post goes live…

Until then; happy reading 🙂

Stormy Weather

After a delightfully quiet August, it is fair to say that September has exploded in all sorts of directions, some expected, some not so much; some very public and some very personal. All of which is to say: what in the heck has just happened this week?!

So, was August as productive as I hoped? Well, yes and no. On the yes front, I’ve got not one but two pieces of Friday Fiction ready for this month (more on that in a moment). On the no front, I’m still drafting Ved’ma and I miiiiiiiiiiiiiiight be starting to think I’m not going to make my intended publication date. At this point, I have the first third of the book ready to go off for editing, but the other two thirds still need good chunks of work, so I have two weeks to get my head down and crack this before I definitely say publication moves. If it does move, it will be into January of 2023 (as I think I’ve said before, I’m not doing another December release!).

As a knock on to all of this, Sage is definitely moving back from next January to next April. The January date was always predicated on me getting Ved’ma finished in a more timely fashion. If I do move Ved’ma to January then Sage may get moved again, but that will very much depend on how Ved’ma is actually going. So watch this space…

What does this mean for book 6? Well, I’m still planning on drafting book 6 in November and I would like to get book 6 out into the world to complete the Elsehere series (for now!) towards the end of next year, but that is definitely going to depend on getting Ved’ma and Sage finished and out, as intended (can’t publish book 6 if book 5 isn’t out…!) and equally it depends on getting a nearly-complete first draft in November. And, uh, also finding a final title, too. That’s quite important! On that front, I have had a few thoughts over the summer, but nothing ready to announce yet, so it’s another watch this space item. Sorry!

Finally, on the long-form stuff, I will be working with my cover artist (my inner 13yo is quietly squealling with joy that I can say that!) later on this month to sort out the cover for Ved’ma so that will be something that gets revealled regardless of the publication date.

On the short-form side of things, as I’ve already mentioned, I have this month’s Friday Fiction written. In fact, I have two pieces for this month. The main piece will go up next week, but today I’ve posted The Book of Bob – it’s a 100 word drabble that accurately reflects an issue I’ve been having lately…which may play at least a small role in what’s taking me so long with Ved’ma!

Music Monday is now back on hiatus after the summer series. It will either start back up when Ved’ma is published, or in December for another special series. (Note: I’ll only be doing one series of Music Monday posts at a time, so if Ved’ma’s out as planned, the special series will be kept back – as much as I enjoy writing Music Monday posts, I don’t want to be writing two lots at the same time…and I don’t want to run the risk of boring people, either!)

And finally, only a year late (!), I now have author-related social media set up:

Neither is exactly overburdened with content just at the moment, but I am working on that and you will find that my blog posts (like this one!) will show up on both. There will also be regular Trivia Tuesday posts (on both – cross-posting for the win!) – over the last three years, I’ve reseached some weird and wonderful stuff, so my trivia banks are primed and ready for that one, starting from next Tuesday! Twitter will also be a place where I pass on book recs. So take a look and give me a follow!

And that’s it for now. Next Friday will be the main Friday Fiction of the month and then the Friday after will be decision day on Ved’ma.

Until then, happy reading 🙂

Friday Fiction: Waking Up

Ambition is a slippery thing, particularly when you’re a young child. Do you aspire to win gold at the Olympics or is it your parent/guardian telling you you do? Are you the one who wants to go to the Royal Ballet School or is it the dream of someone else and you’re living it for them? Are you doing the training because that’s what you want to do or because you’ve been threatened with punishment if you don’t?And what happens when you achieve your goal only to realise it was never your goal in the first place?

It’s that last question that was the starting point for this story.

Read Waking Up

Happy reading 🙂

August and Everything After

After several months of utter chaos and carnage, August has arrived, bringing with it roughly five weeks where I have nothing much on, either personally or professisonally, which means I can draw a breath and catch up with myself.

Well, that’s the theory, at least…

That build up might suggest there’s not a lot to catch you guys up on, but there’s a few little bits, so here we go.

First up, Friday Fiction. I’ve been on a bit of a short story spree, having completed two brand new short stories and got roughly a third of the way into a third. One of the completed stories is a piece of back story for Ved’ma, so that will go up later in the year. The second completed story, Waking Up, will appear next week. The third story, The Show Must Go On, is aimed to be next month’s Friday Fiction – but if I get it finished quicker than that, you may just get a bonus this month instead! I’ve also got a few ideas for more, including a second short story connected to Ved’ma. That one will be less plot-relevant, but will feature a character who gets her debut in Ved’ma so it probably won’t be posted before Ved’ma comes out. Probably…!

On the Ved’ma front, I’ve got a lot of work still to do to get a draft pulled together, but the holes are shrinking (slowly) and I’ve had a major break through in terms of resolving one of my remaining plot issues this week. Hopefully, given this is a quiet month (and assuming that I haven’t jinxed myself, of course!), I’ll be able to largely wrap things up and start getting stuff across to my editor (hi J!). I’m also starting to think about cover art (hi S!) – though I probably won’t actually start on that this month. (Really do need to get that draft together first!)

Sage has made a small amount of progress…mostly in that I’ve removed stuff that no longer fits thanks to Cambiante and Ved’ma. That’s the price you pay for writing stuff out of sequence and adding in things that weren’t in the plan *cough*Cambiante*cough*. I’ll probably have to do another run through as Ved’ma’s draft wraps up.

Book 6 has also inched forwards. This week (see, I said August was my calm month!), I’ve had a few ideas and breakthroughs about the epic climax (I mean, it’s book 6 of a 5 book series; it’s got to be epic to wrap up everything and be a satisfying conclusion to it all) in terms of what needs to happen and where and, just as importantly, who is where, given that by the climax I’m going to be juggling upwards of 30 characters of varying levels of importance! (Yes, yes I do in fact have a score card for this – while I can keep quite a lot of balls in the air, mentally speaking, 30+ characters is definitly a challenge too far.) The real trick with a cast that big will be making sure that each character used has a solid reason for being in that position – because if it’s hard as a writer to juggle that many characters, it’s even worse as a reader.

And given the cast size, you can assume that there will be more Elsehere-related short stories between now and book 6’s release so that I can flesh out a few more of the characters. In an ideal world, I’d get each and every character into a decent sized role in the first five books but that’s not been entirely possible, so short stories it is…unless I get a particularly juicy idea, of course! I’m certainly not ruling out the possibility of more Elsehere books, given that I have such a big cast and I have the whole of human history at my disposal and there are so many fascinating periods to play with. So watch this space!

Finally, Monday saw the launch of my summer fun music feature for Monday Music. There’s six posts in total, featuring six very (very!) different pieces of music that I associate with summer. One way or another, at least!

So there we go.

Happy reading 🙂

One Year, Oh My…

I’ve officially been at this one whole year and it has been quite the ride.

Of course, the writing part has been going on longer (I started Sekhmet in February of 2020 – although I didn’t know it WAS Sekhmet at that point!), but it’s been a year since I started this website up in preparation for the launch of Sekhmet. Since then I have…

  • Published four books
  • Done considerable amounts of work on three more books (more on them in a moment)
  • Written more than 200,000 words (and counting)
  • Shared 10 short stories/scenelets with another one due next week (more on that in a moment, too)
  • Researched things as esoteric as “When was cotton candy invented?” and as rabbit-hole-worthy as “What routes did Swedish vikings take to Constantinople?”
  • Walked approximately 728km
  • Listened to more hours of music than I’m prepared to work out!

All in all, it’s been a fulfilling year and things are definitely just getting started.

Book 4 now has a title, Ved’ma, and has crossed the 50k line and still hasn’t (technically) got a completed first half. Oops. The editing on this one will be an interesting exercise, that’s for sure, but I should still be on for a November release.

Sage is also making progress. The first third of what I wrote last November is now edited and I’ve started on the middle third. This is the part where I started skipping ahead to write the more interesting bits (it was NaNo and my aim was to write something every single day and to not worry if it wasn’t necessarily coherent or consecutive!) so I’m in the process of filling in the gaps, smoothing the transitions and (in the case of one sequence) completely relocating it. The prompt for that was a real-world issue, but after I’d realised I needed to change it, I realised what I was changing it to also made better sense in-story, so it’s a win overall.

Lastly, book 6 is taking some shape. A little like Sage, I’m writing the ‘fun’ bits up front, but unlike Sage, it’s because I’m trying to pin them down as they occur to me. I think, at this point, I have probably nearly 20k’s worth of scenes that, at least nominally, will fit into book 6, although in practice some of them won’t make the cut while others will need to be heavily reworked before they fit. Once book 6 is finished, the ones that don’t make the cut will show up as Friday Fiction.

In other book news, I’ve now got Ruth Abroad imported into the software I’m using for drafting and I’ve now got a very good idea of what I need to do with that one. (Hint: it’s a lot!) With it set up in my drafting software, I can now start nibbling away at that and see where I get to by the end of the year. It’s not (currently) on my mental schedule for next year, but, if I could get it finished…

Additionally, there are a couple of new projects on the project notes page. One is a mid-high fantasy idea featuring the fae, mortals and a brand new world for me to play in. It very likely will be another series rather than a single book as the scale of the plot is sizable. The other is another urban fantasy/action/adventure story and is very likely to be a one-and-done book…then again, it’s incredibly rare that I write a story, finish it and think “Okay; I’m done with those characters”, so time will tell on that front!

Finally, in short story news, Friday Fiction will return next Friday. I didn’t quite manage to get my editing done while I was away, but I did get a few thoughts about how to resolve some of the issues, so editing will happen this weekend and it will be ready to go next week. (I promise!) I’m also hoping to get at least one other new story out this month, but that will heavily depend on my getting Ved’ma’s first half finished.

Lastly, look out over the next few weeks for a bit of housekeeping on the site including, possibly, a new header image for the new year. If I can find one I like in my archives… 😉

And that really is it for now. Happy reading folks 🙂