A stranger holding message

When I wrote this holding message back on 1 January, it had just been announced that Stranger Things season 3 was due to be released on 4 July. I guess I’m watching that rather than writing a blog post. I hope I enjoy it.

Despite growing up near a not so secret government installation (the Atomic Weapons Establishment) in the 1980s and playing D&D, I never did get to battle strange Lovecraftian entities, which I’m both glad about and a little put out by.

A little way in the right direction

We’re now over three months in to 2019, so time to check how far along I am with my To Do List.

Edit and publish The Theatre of Shadows: The Vasini Chronicles II.

Back when I made my To Do List, The Theatre of Shadows was sitting in a virtual draw while others took a look at it, with the thought that I might start work on the next draft in February. In actuality I’ve only just started on the latest draft. I’m a little way in, but what I’ve gone through so far is looking better than I thought it would, which is promising. More importantly, I’m enjoying it.

Assuming there aren’t any surprises on the way, The Silver Mask should have it’s sequel out in the world by the end of the year.

Given that I may refer to it a bit, I’m just going to call The Theatre of Shadows ToS for the rest of the post. Hope you don’t mind.

Edit a novella.

I had thought that I’d get round to editing The Signal (working title) at some point before I got to ToS. That didn’t happen. It’ll sit in the virtual draw a little longer — until I’ve finished the next draft of ToS at least — based on feedback I’ve received, hopefully there shouldn’t be too much to get it into shape for publishing.

Edit Tales From Vasini II.

According to my To Do List, I was planning on editing this at the same time as ToS, but that’s been put on hold. I don’t want to distract myself from work on ToS and I know there’ll be a lot of wok to do on the two novellas that make up Tales From Vasini II, so they can wait for a bit.

Write The Vasini Chronicles III.

I’ve outlined the third Vasini Chronicles novel. There’s still some more in-depth outlining (and maybe a bit more research to do). Given that I need to work on ToS and that I need to write Tales From Vasini III first, I won’t be getting to this anytime soon.

Write Tales From Vasini III.

I’ve started writing it. I’m only a few thousands words into the first of the three novellas that will make up the book, but I’m already enjoying being with the main character and writing something new about Vasini, which makes the writing easier. (You could ask why the hell you’d write something you didn’t enjoy writing, but that doesn’t seem to be the way the writing compulsion works at times — there’s a difference between wanting to tell and enjoying a story and the process of actually writing it.)

Edit and try to work out how to publish a long novel.

This was what was delaying work on ToS.

The draft is done. It’ll go to someone to look and sense check some of the changes I made, then it’ll have to wait in line for its next draft.

I’m missing it already.

Read at least 48 books and cut down my backlog of unread books to less than 270.

According to Goodreads, I’ve read 18 out 48 books, which isn’t bad going. Unfortunately my backlog is still at 306 books. It should be down to 296, but between presents and me buying more books, I seem to be maintaining the status quo with the size of my To Be Read pile.

One thing that may help is that I’m planning to read/play my collection of Lone Wolf adventure game books over the next few months (you can read about my attempts to complete the set over the past twenty years here – as an update to that blog, I’ve managed to get my hands on Book Seventeen, so I’ll be reading Books One to Eighteen). That alone will drop my backlog to 289 books.

Blog more.

With this post I’ve managed to exceed the six blog posts I made last year. I had intended to blog at least once a fortnight. Based on that, I’ve missed two posts. But, much like everything else, although I may not be quite as far along as I would hope (we are, as species, always far too optimistic with what we think we can achieve with the time we have, that’s why all those public infrastructure projects run late and go over budget), I am at least going in the right directions. In another few months I’ll be a few more steps along, a few months after that a few more steps, and I’ll keep on going until I get to where I need to be.

Flight from the Dark

Okay. I’m going to do it. I’m going to start reading/playing Joe Dever’s Lone Wolf adventure game books. It may have taken over three decades, but I’m going to do it.

Assuming my memory is correct, I first came across them back when I was young (pre-teen young). The odd copy would be hidden amongst all of the adventure game books I was trawling through looking for the latest Fighting Fantasy release. For some reason, I never bought one. I suspect it was part out of loyalty to Fighting Fantasy (forced by limited pocket money funds meaning I could only ever get one book at a time) and part never finding the first book of what ended up being a series of 29 interconnected books.

Then, back during my university years in the late ‘90s, on a trip to Aberaeron, I stumbled across books 18 and 20 in a second-hand bookshop. I bought them and put them on a shelf with the idea that I might be able to slowly piece together the full collection.

And there they sat.

It was some years later before I would stumble across more of them in a bookshop in Cardiff. Never more than one or two would appear at a time and never two in a row of the sequence. But over time I managed to fill some gaps. I managed to get Book One and Book Three, but was only able to bridge the gap when I came across an omnibus of Books One and Two.

The vein ran dry though, and, although I had the full run between Books One to Twelve, I had nothing from Thirteen to Seventeen, no Eighteen and nothing beyond Book Twenty.

In recent years my search has turned online, and I’ve managed to fill a few more gaps (Books Thirteen to Sixteen).

That’s not to say that Books Seventeen, Nineteen and Twenty-one onwards are unavailable. I’ve just checked on Amazon, there are copies there. The issue now is that I can’t really justify to myself spending what we’d normally spend on a weekly shop to get two books in ‘acceptable’ condition (Books Seventeen and Nineteen) and certainly can’t put down hundreds of pounds per book for Books Twenty-one onwards. If I’d known this when I was younger, I would have spent my pocket money differently – it would have been far cheaper to get the Lone Wolf books then and the Fighting Fantasy books now.

I know there are online versions of the books available. For the sake of completeness, I could play the missing books on a website. But, after all this time, it seems a little wrong, a little defeatist not to have the hardcopy.

So, I think I’m going to settle with what I have for the time being and, sometime in April, I’ll sit down and, after over thirty years of waiting to play them, start Lone Wolf Book One: Flight From the Dark. Maybe, just maybe, by the time I finish Book Sixteen, the missing books may have come down in price and I’ll be able to continue straight on with the rest of the series. If not, I’ll just have to keep on waiting.

Outlines and Edits II: More Outlines, More Edits

Phew. I managed to blog this time. It was kind of inevitable that I was going to miss a blog after setting myself a blogging schedule, but I’d hoped it wouldn’t be so early in the year and only after four posts.

Oh dear.

Anyway…where was I…

Ah, yes…I was editing a supernatural noir and outlining The Vasini Chronicles III and Tales From Vasini III. 

I still am, although very close to finishing both.

On the supernatural noir side, I should finish editing the latest draft in the next week or two. I had thought I was a lot further in to the edit, but in the past couple of days, I’ve admitted to myself that I really need to cut back one character’s presence in the story. It’s going to be painful. I really like the character and in many ways they bring a great additional perspective on the story. The problem is they’re not who the story is about and as interesting as that perspective can be, it isn’t essential and just gets in the way at a vital part of the story. They won’t disappear completely, but they won’t be playing quite as prominent role in the later stages of the novel. Once I’ve recovered from that I’ll be switching my attention to editing The Theatre of Shadows: The Vasini Chronicles II. 

The rough outlines for all three of the Tales From Vasini III novellas and The Vasini Chronicles III are done. I’m mostly finished with the more in-depth outlining of the first novella in an attempt to avoid any notes that just say ‘They find a clue’. Once that’s done, I’ll start writing. The outlines for the other novellas and The Vasini Chronicles III will get a little more work on them as I write and get a better grasp on the first novella.

Until next time.

The steps so far

It’s 31 January, the date by which if I’d made resolutions they’d have fallen by the wayside and if I’d made plans I’d already be down on myself for failing to reach some arbitrary deadline. Instead, as stated here, I’m trying to think more in terms of a direction of travel, giving myself the opportunity to celebrate what I’ve achieved rather than berating myself for what’s been left undone.

And, though I may not be far along (after all, we’re less than 9% of the way through the year), there has been progress:

  • Goodreads tells me, I’ve read seven books so far (and am four books ahead of schedule, assuming I’m to read 48 books this year). Although they are all books I started off reading last year or graphic novels.
  • I’m well into outlining The Vasini Chronciles III and Tales From Vasini III. The initial phase is putting together a broad outline on index cards (completed for Tales From Vasini III and about half way there for The Vasini Chronicles III) and then I’ll move on to fleshing out those notes and then onto writing an actual draft.
  • I’m a little over half way through editing a long supernatural noir novel.
  • I’ve had some feedback on The Theatre of Shadows (The Vasini Chronciles II) and will start editing it again once the current draft of the supernatural noir is complete.
  • And, so far, I’ve kept up with my attempts to blog more.

All in all, a reasonable start to the year.

Outlines and edits

Woo’hoo. I remembered to blog before the automatic “I didn’t get round to blogging” message went up.

Outlining on The Vasini Chronicles III and Tales From Vasini III continues, as does editing the supernatural noir novel. It’s kind of relaxing not working on a first draft at the moment, having some time away from the daily press to fill white space with coherent sentences. Instead I’m collecting together and structuring random thoughts and working with words that have already been written.

At the moment, outlining consists of getting all of my initial thoughts and all the scenes and random bits I know I want to do in the story down onto index cards and then working out how they all link together. After that it will be structuring it properly and fleshing it out. Hopefully, this time I’ll remember not to stick future me with the oh-so helpful note of “They find a clue”. Seriously, past me can be annoying. What clue are they supposed to find? Tell me past, Chris. Tell me.

I’m not a slavish outliner, I like to be able to explore the characters and story as I write and see what comes from it. But it is useful to have a rough outline as a prompt for that exploration, to make sure I know in which direction I’m ultimately heading and in what the next step in that direction is should I get lost.

On the editing side, as I’ve said before, I’m enjoying being back in the world of my supernatural noir and with its characters so much. It feels comfortable and although I know the story so well now, I still get excited by it.

Anyway, let’s see if I manage to beat the automatic “I didn’t get round to blogging” message on 31 January.