Red Ink or The Blood of My Enemies?

Life has been its usual mix of chaos and stupidity over the last month – though I think the prize for stupidity this month probably goes to me for parking my car entirely too close to a thorn bush and having to get out that side…! – but solid progress has been made so, I’ll take it.

The plot hole problems mentioned last month are now largely resolved (I say largely because I have one scene I’m still fiddling with) and the final resolution to one of them (caused by fixing the original issue!) actually serves the overall series better so, that’s a win.

For those who like stats, the final word count for this draft is 115k, with another 15-20k of stuff I’ve already cut or otherwise not used. No wonder it’s taken a while…! And as a note, that cut stuff? Filed away just in case it turns out to be useful somewhere else. Admittedly, some of what I’ve cut is very specific to this book, but some of it very much isn’t, and 4k of it will actually go off and be its own book somewhere down the line, so…

The next step (once I finish messing with that scene, of course…) is to format things up, print out and start doing a spot of old fashioned editing with my trusty red biro – which doesn’t actually SEEM to leak, and yet, by the end of a session of editing my fingers look as if I’ve been taking part in one of the more brutal scenes in Game of Thrones!

I also need to get stuff over to my editor (hi J!) and then, once we’ve both taken a pass over it I’ll have more of an idea of where things sit.

In other news, Friday Fiction will be going up at the end of the week. As with last month, I’ve got a couple or so of short stories in varying states of doneness, so I’m not sure which one it will be.

Until then, happy reading 🙂

You Know What They Say About Plans…

The last month has been…interesting. On the one hand, the day job has been fairly quiet. On the other hand, everything else has not.

I’ve hit a wall with the editing of Ved’ma, namely a rather sizable and inescapable plot hole into which most of the last third vanishes. Ooops. Even allowing for the fact that I have at least some of the resolution already written, there isn’t any way this book is going to be edited into a finished version this month.

*insert screaming and tantruming here*

Because of that, things are going to get shuffled around, as follows:

  • I’m now going to aim for a date in July for Ved’ma’s release. This should give me the rest of this month to wrangle the plot hole closed and will (hopefully) make getting the final edits sorted much easier.
  • Sage will move to November (I would say October, but I don’t especially want to spend my vacation wrangling Amazon files!)
  • Hassatar will be sometime in the new year – probably May/June time

There is flexibility there – if things come together much faster, then things will move again, but for now, that’s the plan.

In slightly better news, there will be a Friday Fiction story going up next week – I have three in varying states of doneness, so I’m not sure which one it will be yet, but it will be fun, whatever it is. I probably won’t get a second one finished this month (the priority is Ved’ma, after all!), but I will catch up on what got missed earlier in the year.

At some point.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, that plot hole awaits…

Happy reading 😉

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 🙂

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 🙂

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 🙂

June? How’d That Happen…

Time flies when you spend most of it in conference calls – or at least that’s how the last couple of weeks have felt, at least! The day job is still doing its best to consume my brain and this month (and next) are offically Show Month for my dancing school (while I’m not a performer, I am part of the gang of volunteers who help make it happen) so things aren’t really likely to improve on the sanity front any time soon.

However, despite all that, I’m still making good progress on book 4. Although the first half still isn’t really finished, I have started making inroads into the second half now (believe it or not, I have a chunk of the final climax written!), so my goal this month is the same as last month’s: finish the first half! In an ideal and perfect world, not only would I finish the first half but get it over to my editor (*waves to J*) – but I think that’s severely optimistic, given the RL stuff.

I’ve also continued to work on Sage to get that book into shape. I did mention last month that there was a possibility that I could swap book 4 and Sage over, but the more I’ve worked on Sage and book 4 the more I think it would be better to retain the order as-planned. What this, potentially, means is book 4 may get pushed into next year (I am not trying to do another December release!), depending on how well writing and editing go over the next couple of months. Watch this space.

One thing that did fall quite severely by the wayside last month was the Friday Fiction post. I thought I had a story all ready to go and then I did a final reread of it and spotted about thirty places that needed work, so that ended up being shelved. However, I will have some time later in the month (I actually have a holiday planned!) where I can give it a proper edit, so it will appear later in the month and, in the meantime, I’m working on a brand new short story that I’m hoping will emerge next week. So this month should be a two-fer on the Friday Fiction front.

On the Music Monday front, there’s two posts remaining, plus a round up post. (Gosh, that one’s gone by quick!) Once that’s done there’ll be another haitus until book 4 comes out, although I may do a special music feature through August.

And in other news, Sekhmet has been entered into the SPFBO. This is an ‘awards’/competition for self-published fantasy novels, run by the novelist Mark Lawrence (who writes extremely compelling fantasy, though most tends to land on the GrimDark end of the spectrum). For more information (and to see how Sekhmet is doing), go here . And while you’re there, do check out the other books – there are some seriously awesome books involved. There are also links to past SPFBO editions as well, if you’re seeking more summer reading!

And I think that’s all.

Happy reading 🙂

So, Who Stole April?!

It has been stupidly busy in these parts. The day job is trying to eat my brain and I’ve had an intermitent sinus issue (ah, the joys of hayfever and seasonal allergies) which hasn’t helped and I would love to say that it’s all behind me now…but currently my right ear’s blocked and I have a to do list for Monday morning that’s long enough I’ll probably be working on it on Sunday.

So, a bit of a bullet point round up.

  • Cambiante is fully out and available here in both eBook and also paperback.
  • Book 4 is progressing nicely. I’m getting towards being half way done (I’m hoping to reach that point by the end of this month) and I’ve identified my through line, which is helping me start to sketch in the second half. However, one thing that hasn’t made progress is the title! I’m not worrying about that too hard at this point, but I’ll need to give it some proper attention soon… Lastly, I’ve adjusted the provisional launch for book 4 to move it into November – this is largely because it’s getting much longer than I was expecting which means it’s going to take me longer to actually write!
  • I’ve also done some preliminary work on Sage (book 5) to start refining what I wrote on that last November. I’m not expecting to have Sage finished this year, but if I run into issues on book 4, I may flip Sage and book 4, so I’m just keeping it ticking over.
  • Book 6 has also seen some progress – another goal this month is to take another run at a synopsis for this one, now that I’ve got so much more of the series hammered into place. Actually writing this is still some way off, but the more of the plot holes I can iron out now, the easier writing will be when I get to it. (Well, that’s the theory…)
  • Friday Fiction this month will be a brand new short story. I’m not sure, at this point, what the story will actually be, but I’ve got a few ideas. We’ll see which ones bear fruit!
  • Finally, a bit of promo for a really excellent book series: if you like fantasy and romance, The Fae Touched Chronicles are a brilliant read. Book three is out now and the final book, book 4, is due out at the end of the month.

So that’s where I’m up to.

Happy reading 🙂