Wednesday 17th January, 2018

Well, here we are another week on. And the times they are a-changin’. Or something.

Right. My first order of business is to shout about this year’s Sword & Sourcery – my club will once more be hosting a women’s HEMA event in September, this time for a whole weekend. Please do look it up if you’ve ever given any thought to waving a sword and you identify as a woman. You can find the Facebook event page here: [External Link]

In writing news, I’ve shuffled Feintheart down the list of things to do – I suppose it’s technically abandoned but I may get back to it at some point – so I can listen to May Greywolf – a name that might be familiar to anyone who has read the later two Elkie books. I blame it on the fact that she kept me awake into the wee hours a couple of nights ago. We’re only a little way into the first chapter and the working title is “25 Ways To Kill A Vampire” as of this morning because I’m nothing if not useless at naming things.

On which note, don’t forget that I have an anthology of Alex & Conn stories (short stories set in the Fur-Skins world but earlier on the timeline than Elkie’s story) coming out later this year from Fox Spirit Books [External Link]. While I mention that, I may as well also post a reminder that the Other Side Books [External Link] will also be publishing some of my work – the first of the Greenwood novellas – later this year, too. Dates when I have them.

Finally, passage 7 of Under Smoke City [External Link] came out on Monday just gone and the first of the apochryphal stories comes out next Monday. (I got my dates screwed up a bit last week by forgetting to add 7 on.)

All caught up? Good. See you next week!

Sword & Sourcery 2018

The Academie Glorianna [External Link] is hosting the second annual Swords & Sourcery;
15th-16th Septmber, 2018;
Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria, England

A women’s event combining historical European martial arts (HEMA) practice and a brief look at the sources, intended to help women get into HEMA and to gain an understanding of the potential for research.

There’s a Facebook event page here: [External Link]

Wednesday 10th January, 2018

Is it too late to say Happy New Year, what with having forgotten to post a little closer to the day?

I have made small, vague progress on Feintheart – but it is moving, even if it’s only at a crawl (the main delay being my preferring to do other things like read or watch tv). I’ve now got to the point where I may as well rip up the old, City Of Dreams text as the story is now different enough that gutting the original basically leaves nothing. This is not necessarily a bad thing.

And Under Smoke City [External Link] keeps going. In fact, Passage 7 – Passengers and Prayers is due out next Monday. And the first of a number of apocrypha – character studies and stories that will basically never otherwise fit into the work – is going to be published for patrons on the following Monday (15th), so it’s definitely working. I suppose I’m technically doing more work on my side project than I am on my main project at the moment but it’ll all work out in the end!

Wednesday 27th December, 2017

So I blinked, overslept a little bit and woke up to find out it was time for the end of the year post again. Don’t get me wrong, I was around for Christmas (Merry Christmas to those who celebrate it) but the last few weeks have been blurry, probably due to the long nights and not wanting to do anything but considering my own navel. I wish you all have a Happy New Year for Sunday night / Monday morning.

What I Learnt About Writing in 2017

Well, let’s get on with that annual tradition first inspired by Foxie (whose website is sadly no more). Here’s my stats for this year with last year for comparison:

  • Submissions = 7 (0, 2016)
  • Total pieces in circulation = 8 (8, 2016)
  • New pieces in circulation = 3 (2, 2016)
  • Rewrites = 1 (1, 2016)
  • Acceptances = 3 (1, 2016)
  • Published = 2 (3, 2016)

NOTE: These numbers do not include stories written for the website or published here. Attempts to rehome stories published here and elsewhere have been included.

This year’s submissions have been in three flavours. A couple of those items counted are actually submissions of long work A Fistful Of Feathers (first drafted in 2015) being submitted to potential agents. It’s not proving to be very successful, which suggests:

  1. It needs a rewrite,
  2. I should probably submit to more than a couple of people a year, and
  3. I should probably consider sending out something better.

More news on that next year!

Four of those items were requested of me. Well, sort of. The recently published Second Christmas Book of Ghosts from Michael S Collins (and his new ebook publishing company Other Side Books [External Link]) had a reprint of my story, The Girl From Yesterday. While he didn’t specifically ask for that story, he asked if I’d contribute a reprint and I sent along three stories for him to look at – including that one. The fourth incidence of a request was the collection of Alex & Conn stories – Auntie Fox / Adele Wearing of Fox Spirit Books [External Link] and I have previously discussed putting the short stories together and this year we started the process. Which also accounts for two of my acceptances.

The third acceptance, also by Michael S Collins, was for the more traditional unsolicited submission of The Knight’s Daughter to the Other Side Books. I first drafted that last year but finished off the basic version this year. I also sent the first drafts (something a writer should never do except, you know, when you do) of the other Greenwood novellas, because he might not be interested when it’s part of a linked theme. (These have not been accepted because not finished, not formally submitted, just drafts, etc.)

In wordage terms, I think we can say that my base line over the years I’ve been doing this is about 90,000 words. Some years I write more but I don’t think I’ve written less. This year I’m probably over 100,000, despite feeling like I’ve done nothing. My main problem in the last couple of years seems to be that I’ve had a few ideas that petered out and stopped or became a shorter work than I envisioned.

Writer, Editor, General Dogsbody

So, here are the plans are for the immediate future of my writing and editing career:

I am still looking for an agent (I may consider sitting on doorsteps and mewing woefully until someone opens a door). However, this takes time and concentration and I haven’t given it much of either as – as you all know – I have day job and dogs and actually want to spend some time writing. More news as and when, etc.

The folk-tale inspired works seems to have got out of my system but it may have left ideas for a return to the Fur-Skins world (but not with Alex, Conn or Elkie as a main character). However, that will have to wait until I’m done with the current WIP, which is only about a third of the way through.

And I’ve now taken on the challenge of having a public side project, which – weirdly enough – is currently being worked on more consistently than the main WIP. At the moment, said side project is Under Smoke City but, when I get to the end of that, I expect to pick up another side project to publish on my Patreon [External Link]. The key thing will be maintaining the trickle of work on the side project without letting it take over everything else.

Editing is unlikely to resurface any time soon.

The Ink Plan

Admitting to book numbers floundered last year as they were pitiful and unconnected to my donation to the NAS [External Link]. If / when I have numbers for 2017, I’ll add them together and do a post. However, I already broke things by getting a second tattoo. (Which does not prevent me getting a Journeymouse at some point, but the challenge element is kind of gone.)

What I Learnt About The Rest of Life

Dora and Rosie still fight over Dora not really being in charge. Dora is ageing disgracefully (Note to self: do not leave anything remotely edible or chew-able lying around) but will probably still be around after the nuclear holocaust along with the cockroaches. Finn’s paw cancer has only grown slowly this year but there’s now a second, very small lump on his other front leg. Diagnosis of this second lump would require a biopsy and I don’t think either of us can cope with that.

Work is going pretty well. They brought in David Stewart of Autism Success Formula [External Link] and the workplace is an even better place than it was before – for me, at least. Fencing is going pretty well and tai chi is as relaxing as ever.

Published: The Second Christmas Book Of Ghosts

The Second Christmas Book Of Ghosts, edited by Michael S Collins and published by the Other Side Books [External Link] became available on Thursday 14th December, 2017.

This anthology is available in ebook formats only and direct from the publisher (follow the link above) or from Amazon. The Amazon.co.uk link is here: [External Link]

All monies paid will go to Chest Heart and Stroke Scotland [External Link].

My offering is actually a reprint – The Girl From Yesterday, previously published by the Ranfurly Review, back in December 2007. There is a background post here.

Short story, horror

Wednesday 13th December, 2017

Welp, I took last week off from the website and forgot to report a few things the week before, so, you know, really doing well at this correspondence thing!

OK, so unreported but with a post on the website, Fox Spirit Books [External Link] have officially agreed to publish the Alex and Conn short stories next year. This means the collection, provisionally entitled Dogs & Wolves, is in a holding pattern and we’re waiting to hear when the next window for landing will be. More news as and when.

Although I’ve not done a similar post for them, I’ve got a number of short stories being looked at by the Other Side Books [External Link], who have already accepted The Knight’s Daughter. Michael S Collins, the editor there, put together a Christmas collection of ghost stories last year that included my story Let’s Stay Together (one of those stories that never got a background post). Anyway, that story and a few others that haven’t been seen in a few years are being looked at for Other Side Books. More news, etc, etc.

Main WIP, Feintheart ceased for a bit and I’ve done my first keyboard tapping over it for about a fortnight today. It’s only a few hundred words but it’s definitely the “I Aten’t Dead” sign as there’s more bubbling away with it, I just need to get the words to come out. As it’s tai chi tomorrow evening and the work’s Christmas party Friday, it’ll be Saturday before we see much more.

On the plus side, Under Smoke City [External Link] rattles a long quite nicely. I work on it in chunks of various sizes when I’ve got a half hour or so and I’ve got ahead enough that I’ll be releasing an extra passage on New Year’s Say. (Passage 4 was released on Monday, Passage 5 will come out on Christmas Day, Passage 6 was ready a little sooner than expected.) If you have time, please do go have a read. Each passage is equivalent to a couple of pages of A4, so it’s not a long read. And it’s free! And let me know what you think. And back me if you think it’s a worthwhile project. And get involved if you want to have a say in where it goes.

Wednesday 22nd November, 2017

Someone set off the event klaxon: Sledge Lit is this weekend so expect a certain amount of quietness on the social media on Saturday – and the days either side for associated travel!

Which will at least be a decent excuse for why I only manage a couple of thousand words a week on the main WIP, Feintheart. Which means, for those of you who keep track of these things, that I’m now at 21,000 words. About half of which are new. The next chapter is an old one from the novella I’m ripping apart to make Feintheart but I’ll have to kill about 1,000 words of said chapter and fill the hole in with something better as we’re getting to the point where the plot(s) have more obviously diverged.

And, speaking of diverging from originals, I’ve changed the Patreon backing tiers for the Under Smoke City project. Basically, I’ve decided to make the passages themselves free to read as I’d rather people were reading it than not and, as it’s an unusual thing to be doing, expecting backers to pay when they had no idea what they were getting was a bit off. There’s an official announcement here: [External Link].

I’m still doing the Esfinges’ 30 Days of HEMA Study event [External Link] – we’re now on Day 22 of 30 – but the #30DaysofHEMA tags on Twitter and my personal Facebook wall have disappeared altogether. I’ve been spending more time with a rapier in hand muttering “If I do this, then he does that, and then I do this, then…” than I care to admit.

Accepted: Dogs & Wolves

Fox Spirit Books [External Link] has officially agreed to rehome the Alex & Conn short stories as a collection – working title “Dogs & Wolves” – in 2018. I’ll confirm publishing dates, etc, as soon as I have them!

As a reminder, the short stories are:

  1. Half-Breed (Short)
    Published: Twisted Tongue, Issue 11, 29/08/2008
    Podcast: Cossmass Infinities, Episode 5, 01/05/2010
  2. Heart’s Desire (Short)
    Published: Drops of Crimson, Volume 2, Issue 1, 01/11/2009
  3. Second Date (Short)
  4. Dog Handler (Short)
    Published: Title Goes Here, Issue 1.9, 02/09/2011
  5. The Grace of Wolves (Short)
  6. Three Swords (Short)
  7. The First Man (Short)
  8. The Last Kiss (Short)

Short story collection, horror / dark fantasy (in the Fur-Skins world)

Wednesday 15th November, 2017

Winter may not technically be here but the days are short enough that I’m starting to wonder why I just don’t go hide in bed for the next few months until the nights have drawn out again. I have problems feeling like I’ll never be enough at the best of times (I don’t put enough time into fencing or tai chi or writing or reading, and I don’t put in enough at work, and the dogs don’t get enough walks or fusses, and I don’t do enough to stay in touch with friends and family, and so on) but the restricted hours of daylight tend to make it all seem so much more… on a restricted timetable.

Anyway, in main WIP news, Feintheart continues to limp. With editing an old chapter, it’s now up to 19,000 words. I kind of know what the next new chapter should be like but I haven’t been able to start it. I suppose that constitutes writer’s block but I think it has more to do with brain space and getting other things done, and worrying about all the things i probably don’t need to. (See above about being enough.)

In Under Smoke City news, the teaser for the second passage and the second passage have both been released. You won’t be able to read the full passage unless you’re a backer, but the teaser is available for everyone and is here: [External Link]. If you want to get involved with Under Smoke City, you can help me work out the content or the overall destination of the project by backing me.

And yes, I’m still embroiled in the Esfinges’ 30 Days of HEMA Study event [External Link] – in partnership with my fencing instructor, Mark Hillyard of Academie Glorianna. We’re now on Day 15 of 30, although the #30DaysofHEMA tags on Twitter and my personal Facebook wall have dropped as Mark and I are now on the “re-reading and conferring to be sure we agree what we’re reading” stage, which makes suitable quotes and observations difficult to come by! At some point, there will be a recreating a play stage and there will be video, so there’s that to look forward to.

Wednesday 8th November, 2017

Feintheart has limped up to 17,000 – all new words, I’m proud to say – but has decided it needs to marinate for a while. I’m supposed to be editing an old chapter but, having read it through, I don’t think it really works any more. I just haven’t worked out why. I probably ought to read it again as I’ve been getting distracted with other things.

Not that Under Smoke City has actually been one of those distractions. It has been most well behaved and side-project-ish so that I’ve managed to do a little bit here and there. In fact, I have a teaser due out on Saturday and the second passage due out on Monday. Which all means the schedule I set myself of posting a passage every fortnight looks to be on course. I have a couple of passages in hand so I even have some space if I have a week or two where I can’t put any work in at all. But if you want to know any more about that, you need to go and have a look at my Patreon [External Link].

The main distraction is probably doing the fifteen to thirty minutes reading every evening for the Esfinges’ 30 Days of HEMA Study event [External Link]. Not that it’s hard work but the shift of mental gears from work to creating words to Saviolo is a bit more than I can cope with most week nights. As a result, there has been a little less creating. (To be fair, only slightly less.). However, we’re on Day 8 now and only 22 to go, so you can still expect some more #30DaysofHEMA tags on Twitter and my personal Facebook wall.

I also got side tracked by a flash fiction idea sparked by a post I made on my writerly Facebook page ([External Link]) and wrote a few hundred words called Black Dogs. Let me know what you think.

And, good news, I’ve started back at tai chi today, so maybe I’ll remember to breath occasionally!