Wednesday 31st January, 2018

Having taken an unintentional week off last week (sorry, I discovered Tyranny [External Link] on Steam) I’m back with my latest updates.

In vague news, The Knight’s Daughter (accepted by The Other Side Books [External Link], first of my Greenwood-themed novellas) is on track to be available in March. It’ll be an ebook available from the Other Side site and from Amazon.

Feintheart has snuffled quietly into retirement. As mentioned in the last update, I may come back to it at some point – as the characters occasionally whisper to me but not loud enough to carry on. Instead, my main WIP is currently in the Fur-Skins world and all of 5,000 words long as I type. I’m referring to it as 25 Ways To Kill A Vampire but it’s more 25 Ways Not To Kill A Vampire. At least it’s not 25 Ways To Be Killed By A Vampire, eh?

In Under Smoke City [External Link] news, passage 8 came out on Monday and the first of the apocryphal stories comes out the Monday before. The passages are free for anyone to read, the apocrypha will be patrons only.

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.

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 28th June, 2017

Hi all,

Radio silence is now broken so that I can officially announce I finished draft the first of novella the third in my Greenwood theme. Strictly speaking, I finished it on Friday (23rd) and have since been pretending to enjoy some downtime. By which i mean that somewhat empty period between projects when I’m not sure whether to start something totally new (as I have a few things on the list I can’t decide between), hassle readers for feedback so I can work on second / third / nth redrafts, or pick up one of those old things gathering electronic dust and see if I can finally make it work. Which, of course, means procrastination and playing games usually fills the void while I pretend to think.

For those who care, my queue of things I’m deciding between looks like:

  1. A new science fiction thing involving social media, game quests and algorithms (a word I never spell right first time) with the working title “Aurora”.
  2. A new dark fantasy / horror thing in the Fur-Skins world but with a different bunch of heroes, currently labelled “25 10 Ways Not To Kill A Vampire”.
  3. Reading through and potentially resurrecting “The Three Guineveres” (in short form, “The Gens”, and I even have a tag for that for previous mentions), which was a sort of science fictional take on Guinevere. Because the world needs more Arthuriana, right?
  4. Reading through and potentially redrafting a fantasy called “In The Shadow of The Wall” that was a blatant parallel (but not factual) of the Romans leaving Hadrian’s Wall with a locked room mystery thrown in for good measure. Because there’s no such thing as too much, right?
  5. A fantasy thing called “City of Dreams” that needs a rewrite and therefore may end up being something I’ve got notes for as “Feintheart”.

Any preferences?

Wednesday 7th June, 2017

Good news! The current greenwood WIP continues to clip along at a decent speed, for me, and I’m now 75% of the way through. As I’m aiming for 40,000 words, that means I’ve managed 30,000 – which sounds marginally less impressive.

Anyway, having not mentioned it for a while, you may remember I like shape-shifters. My pet monsters are werewolves (I suggest starting on the Fur-Skins page if you want to have a wander) but there’s always the possibility of other animals. So, if you want a story about a shape-shifter that isn’t connected to my fur-skins world, there’s one in the Fox Spirit free fiction section: [External Link] The title you’re looking for is “A Granted Wish”. Enjoy!

Wednesday 31st May, 2017

Today is your last chance to pre-order my books if you want signed copies for ChapterCon in August. The mess o’links from includes the link to the form for my books (which includes Monster and Fox Pocket anthologies, but only if you buy in advance!) and some other authors who will be running theirs longer. I only intend to carry a limited number of copies to sell, otherwise, as trees are heavy. Actual closure of the form will happen sometime tomorrow afternoon / evening when I get back in from work.

Somewhat belatedly (sorry, I skipped a week again) you can listen again to my visit to Hannah’s Bookshelf here: [External Link] Hannah Kate has, of course, had another show since then and she’s got that, as well as three years-ish of previous shows, all available on mixcloud. Specialist subjects have included Manchester, werewolves, medieval literature and poetry.

And in writing news, I am now halfway-to-sixty-percent through the first draft of the latest Greenwood WIP. Here’s hoping it’s the last for a while because I’m starting to have thoughts about social media stories and werewolves. Not necessarily together.

Thursday 18th May, 2017

Let’s start with the deadline. If you’re attending ChapterCon in London at the end of August, you can pre-order some of the writers’ books through various Google forms. I have linked them on my ChapterCon mess o’links. This includes being able to pre-order a number of my books: 25 Ways To Kill A Werewolf, A Pack Of Lies, Fool If You Think It’s Over, all the Fox Spirit Monster anthologies to date and all of the Fox Pockets. At a slight discount.

I am making a big deal out of this because a) the deadline for ordering is the end of this month (i.e. Wednesday 31st May) and b) I’m going to be a bit of a miser about lugging books around England, so I’ll otherwise have limited numbers of the Elkie books with me and only my own copies of the others so that I can show off some signatures and persuade those of you who missed out to order them on-line.

Somewhat closer on the horizon, I shall be on (local) radio on Saturday, North Manchester FM between 2pm and 4pm to be precise. The lovely Hannah Kate has invited me to talk on Hannah’s Book Shelf and there’s a post with all the details here [External Link]. I may be mildly nervous. OK, a lot. Mainly because I’m terrible at remembering names and titles so you can expect me to tail off at least once in the two hours while I struggle to remember who or what I’m supposed to be mentioning. It might even be often enough to make it into a drinking game. But not while I’m actually there, obviously.

Finally, here’s your reward for being patient people. I remembered to put up the opening paragraphs of my current Greenwood WIP set (as promised). They’re at various stages of draft, so what I’ve put up may not be exactly what they read like by the time they’re published – if they’re published. Feedback, as always, welcome!

Into The Greenwood

As promised, here’s the opening paragraphs of my three current works in progress that are based on the idea of the Greenwood – to my mind, that fictional woodland in constant early summer where all the fairy tales happen. The three stories are given their working titles, i.e. they may change by the time they’re published if they’re published, and in the order I started working on them: