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.

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!

Wednesday 1st November, 2018

Lots of news for today’s round up – but let’s start with the main work in progress (WIP), Feintheart. I leapt forward just over 3,000 words this week to 15,000 – but that’s mainly due to moving across an existing chapter from the previous incarnation, City of Dreams, that didn’t need much editing. However, I’m half way through a new chapter and should get that sorted tomorrow evening.

Which, strictly speaking, I shouldn’t be doing but I haven’t made it back to tai chi since my holiday (two weeks ago, now) due to tattoo and deliveries and generally having things to organise before I can get out to it.

Anyway, you may have noticed I said “main” WIP up there. That’s because (drum roll, please) I have a Patreon! And it’s specifically to cover the Under Smoke City idea. I put an official reveal of what was briefly a secret project on the website, but this link will take you to my teaser post with the latest versions of the opening paragraphs for you to try: [External Link]

It precipitated a bit of a re-order of my widgets (to the right), so you should now have a sub-group of links called “Other Projects”, which includes Under Smoke City and the no-longer-updated-but-still-extent Otherworld Gazetteer.

The other things to mention site- and writerly-wise are that I’ve booked my tickets for FollyCon (EasterCon 2018) and Satellite 6 (in May 2018), so I may see you there. I’ve put myself forward for panels and more HEMA for Writers, so we’ll find out if I’m up to mischief nearer the time!

And if you follow me on Twitter or are friends with me on Facebook (as oppose to following my Facebook writer-y page [External Link]), you’ll have started seeing the tag #30DaysofHEMA. This relates to a Facebook event [External Link] being run by the Esfinges group to encourage reading the sources we use to recreate the historical martial arts we study. Mark Hillyard of Academie Glorianna and I will be looking at the Saviolo treatise of 1595, specifically book 1. So expect comments, quotes and general snark with that tag! If you’d like to see what I’m reading, you can download your own pdf copy fromhere: [External Link].

Wednesday 25th October, 2017

Well, I skipped last week due to being on holiday / away from the desktop computer. As something of an apology, I posted something else that occurred to me while away: a steampunk riff on the opening of Under Milk Wood. Strictly speaking, the idea occurred some time ago but didn’t really surface as something I wanted to have a play with until I was away.

I’ve not progressed much on the WIP, Feintheart, since the last weigh-in. We’re only at 12,000 words and I need put in a few hundred more before I add an edited older chapter as I’m currently alternating between old and new chapters. We haven’t quite got to the stage where the old chapters need ripping up and putting back together again to account for changes but it’s only a matter of time.

Final bit of writerly news: I have started asking questions about sekrit projekts, which can only mean one thing. I haz one! Aside from being something that all the cool kids seem to be sneaking about doing, I have a side project that seems like it may benefit from me doing it in a totally different way from my normal if I’m going to do it. There may be a reveal in the next week or so.

And not writerly news, I have a second distinguishing feature:

A tattoo of a mouse with the motto "if it were not an art, the strong would always win"

Designed by Reece Suleman, Inspired by Mouse Guard and HEMA

The quote in the picture is “If it were not an art, the strong would always win”, which comes from a translation of the (probably) 15th Century Nuremberg Hausbuch (MS 3227a), often called the Döbringer MS as it has his name in a margin and has been attributed to him several times. This is probably erroneous but no-one knows who put it together, only that the fencing material in it (which is the bit the quote comes from) is based on Johannes Liechtenauer’s art of longsword fencing. Either way, it’s an awesome quote, now paired up with a historically inaccurate mouseketeer armed with a cup-hilt rapier, because awesome stuff I like.

(Yes, this also means that I failed the journeymouse tattoo / thousand books challenge because I couldn’t wait.)

Wednesday 11th October, 2017

Not much to report this week – although you may want to keep an eye on the tag #OctoberFrights on both Twitter and Facebook as some of my fellow writers are posting under it as part of a blog hop at the moment. There’s a giveaway involved at some point, too. There’s a good starting point here: [External Link]

In terms of my writing, I’ve doubled the words on the Feintheart WIP to 7,000 – although around 3,000 of those are old words from it’s previous life as the City of Dreams novella.

I may be late or skip next week’s update as I shall be busy, but I shall try to make up for it by coming up with somethign worth posting around it so there’s something worth rounding up when I do get to the diary post!

Wednesday 4th October, 2017

I’m pretty sure we’ve got to the part of the year when I legitimately get to say things like “Where has all the time gone?” and “Doesn’t it go by so fast?” Obviously, it doesn’t go by so fast when I’m doing something boring but one day you look at the date and realise you’re in the tenth month of the year and OH MY DOGS! WHY HAVEN’T I GOT ANYTHING DONE! Or something.

Anyway, I have written and posted a flash fiction piece, Me, you and the dog, too that I won’t spoil for you by talking about it but I will warn you that it seems to have made one or two people cry. As I said to one of them on Facebook, I apparently didn’t get enough love and hugs before going to bed the night I thought of it. If it hits you in the same way, I apologise in advance, but you know I’m also going to be feeling insufferably smug because it means I can actually write.

On a similar note, I am now 3,500 brand spanking new words into the Feintheart WIP – that is 3,500 words that hadn’t been written for the City of Dreams novella I’m ripping apart to make it. So some of the original chapters will go in with varying degrees of editing, new material is going in to adjust the plot(s) to fit the Feintheart framework and some of the old material will be totally discarded as it gets left behind by the new plot(s). Related things that may or may not interest you:

  1. “Feintheart” is a play on “faintheart” (meaning coward) and “feint” (meaning a pretence, used in fencing for a false attack that encourages a particular response), so while a faintheart is a coward, the feintheart I have in mind is basically the kind of person who plays a strategic game of their own through all their interactions. This feintheart is not a point-of-view character and may not appear to be a main character by the end of the book, so it probably won’t remain named after them. Incidentally, “faint” and “feint” come from the same etymology but took on slightly different meanings.
  2. I have spent the last few days trawling the Internet for information about Commedia dell’Arte, specifically the masks and characters. Not that I’ll be using them but the WIP has an equivalent masked comedic performance thing going on and I thought loosely basing it on what we came up with would be easier. Which it was, aside from the getting so obsessed with working out the WIP version that I didn’t go to bed until silly o’clock last night.

I’ll end with the reminder that I’ve moved (most of) my writing related Facebook stuff to its own page (here: [External Link]). I will still be tweeting most things and these will turn up on my personal FB profile as that’s what Twitter is linked to – and my Twitter account is all my interests – but the page should make it easier for people who aren’t FB friends to follow the writing related announcements. I also make sure to repost any book related giveaways by writing friends and things I think may become part of my general reading/writing research. I intend to do some Commedia dell’Arte stuff tomorrow.

Wednesday 27th September, 2017

Well, we survived Swords & Sourcery and Academie Glorianna are considering whether we have the wherewithal to do it again next year and how. Feedback so far has been gloriously positive – and thank you to everyone who attended for making it such a positive event.

I’m now in a position to start planning The Next Thing(s), so I’ve put up some event reminders for the upcoming York pub meet and Sledge Lit, which I shall be attending as a punter. I’m also starting to look at my calendar for next year and will probably start putting up some events (both fencing and writing) for that in the next month or so. I won’t be making it to By The Sword 2018. They have sold out tickets in a matter of days. Good for them, not so good for me!

I’m also starting to catch up with the idea of alpha and beta readers for the recently finished Aurora 1st draft and who to approach for reviews of the recently accepted The Knight’s Daughter. I don’t know when review copies will be available and so on but if you’re interested, drop me a line and we’ll make a list of willing sacrifices volunteers.

I haven’t started work on the next WIP, yet – Feintheart, although that’s unlikely to be the finished title – but should do in the next few days. Expect to read my gripes about it in the not-too-distant future.

Final thing to mention: I’ve decided to follow all the cool kids and move my writing related stuff to its own Facebook page (here: [External Link]). I will still be tweeting most things and these will turn up on by personal FB profile but the page should make it easier for people who aren’t actually friends to follow the writing related announcements.

Wednesday 20th September, 2017

Only three days to Swords & Sourcery and I’m trying not to be too wound up. It’ll all be fine and I’ll enjoy it when it’s here. Although I probably won’t decide I enjoyed it until the day after, because that’s the way I handle stress!

However, in happy feelings land, the lovely Michael (S) Collins of Other Side Books [External Link] has agreed to rehome The Knight’s Daughter, the first of my Greenwood stories. (No, the other two haven’t been rehomed, they’re still in states of disarray / first draft.) Which rolls in nicely to my official announcement that the first draft of Aurora is complete. Once S&S is out of the way, I shall be looking at chasing up the alpha readers and recruiting some beta readers. And the Feintheart story refuses to listen to me deny I have time for it this week and keeps attempting to (re)start with moments like:

It starts in a tavern. Because all adventures start in a tavern, right?

And:

The hero should be a fallen prince, or some noble’s bastard, or a farm-boy desperate to prove himself. Or all three, for preference.

This is not the unreliable narrator / snark knight I was looking for. Especially not when I have other things to think about.

(These are tropes references. If you want to fall into the TV Tropes black hole, you can find out about unreliable narrators here: [External Link] and snark knights here: [External Link])

Wednesday 13th September, 2017

It appears that I was right on the money on my last site update as the first of my Aurora WIP is basically finished. I need to do some nip and tuck while I stitch the chapters together but it will be done this week. In fact, my really wild Friday night will probably involve doing the last few bits and pieces to it.

Which is just as well because the next project / first draft seems to be demanding my time. This one is going with the working title “Feintheart” (stolen from someone else many moons ago in a discussion and skulking around long enough for me to have an ideas playlist on YouTube:

It’s also been mentioned (briefly) on 28th June, 2017 and the novella I intend to cannibalise to produce it, City of Dreams was mentioned as a complete first draft on 26th July, 2009. It’s been mentioned since but the dates are only to demonstrate how long the idea has been bouncing around my head.

10 days to Swords & Sourcery! (If you’re interested in attending, please get in touch asap.)