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.

I’m heading this way

Happy New Year.

We’ve crossed that arbitrary line in the temporal sands once more. Time to stop contemplating the past twelve months and to start planning for the coming year. So here’s my annual To Do List. Much of it is the same as last year’s, but with the cunning twist that some more of it might get finished by 31 December this year. Here’s hoping at least.

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

This is the top priority for the year. It’s currently sat in a virtual draw while others read it. Maybe around February, I’ll take it out and start work on the next draft. I’ll then push through so it’s in a point to publish in the second half of the year. All being well.

Edit a novella.

This is The Signal (working title), the sequel to the novelette The City Between the Books. I hope to get around to editing this just before I start back on The Theatre of Shadows. Given its shorter length compared to everything else – around 44,000 words – it shouldn’t take as long to edit it to the point where it can be published.

Edit Tales From Vasini II.

The two stories that will make up Tales From Vasini II have a (current) combined length of about 64,000 words. The plan is to start editing this while working on the next draft of The Theatre of Shadows. We’ll see how long that plan lasts. Should the plan go better than planned (unlikely given the nature of plans), the stretch goal would be to publish it by the end of the year. I suspect, in truth, it will be 2020 before it’s published.

Write The Vasini Chronicles III.

Come tomorrow, I’ll start work in earnest on outlining the third Vasini Chronicles book in more depth. When I start writing the first draft proper will depend on what happens with the next thing on my To Do List.

Write Tales From Vasini III.

I believe this will be three stories set in the lead up to The Vasini Chronicles III. I’ll be outlining them in depth alongside The Vasini Chronicles III and then I’ll launch into writing the first draft.

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

This is the third To Do List this has appeared on. The difference this year is that I’m working on it and will be until I pick up The Theatre of Shadows again. I’m hoping (there’s a lot of hope in this To Do List) to get the next draft completed in that time and then I may be in a better position to think about how and when I’ll publish it.

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

I’d expected to read only 36 books last year and ended up reading 60. I’m not convinced I’ll hit 60 books again (especially given the list of things to do this year), but 48 seems reasonable (although, as always, it will depend on the length). Given that my continued aim is to cut down my backlog of unread books (currently 314 books) – always a challenge given it keeps on getting topped up with new books – I’m also hoping (there’s that word again) to reduce the backlog to less than 270. That means to achieve both parts, I’ll have to read at least 45 books that are already on my bookshelf and only buy three new books.

Last year saw me write my first review on Goodreads. Although, I’m not going to make it habit, I will try to write a few more reviews this year.

Blog more

I managed to write a grand total of six blog posts last year, most of which were updates on my 2018 To Do List. I’m not the most prolific blog writer, but that was pretty rubbish. So I’m going to try to blog a little more often. I’ve set myself a little timetable that should mean I’ll post at least once every two weeks. To try to make me keep to this, I’ve started to write a number of holding posts that will be set to go out automatically as a threat to myself to write the proper posts. Let’s see if it works.

 

So that’s the plan for the year. But lets not call it a plan. As I try to remember, plans never work. Plans can be too binding, make you think you have to do things in a particular way and to a particular timetable, and make what you have achieved seem like a failure just because it wasn’t in the plan. Better to have a direction of travel, something that allows for changes and for detours, for side quests and unexpected challenges. So let’s say this is the direction I’m heading in, and I’ll get there given the right amount of time.

Anyway, all the best for your next set of 365 days.