Tales From Vasini

Back in February I talked about how some people had assumed that The Vasini Chronicles was going to be a trilogy, but it was likely going to take six novels to tell the story of Doctors Marcus Fox and Elizabeth Reid.

As I said then, early on when I was developing the ideas for Vasini, I realised that there would be scope for more stories than just The Silver Mask. Although most of those stories focused on the exploits of the good doctors, I kept on wanting to explore other aspects of Vasini, the bits where they either didn’t, couldn’t or wouldn’t go. Vasini, after all, is a city of a million people, there’s more going on there than what an ex-alchemist now inspector and an apothecary/adherent-to-a-philosophical-path would experience.

That’s where Tales From Vasini comes in. It’s a chance to explore the wider world and travel through those city streets and places outside of the city where Marcus and Elizabeth don’t go. To meet some of the people who may not play a big role in the story of The Vasini Chronicles but are still facing their own challenges and having their own adventures.

So, in truth, although the story of the good doctors is six novels long, the story of Vasini itself is much, much bigger.

A Divided River: Tales From Vasini I is now available for pre-order on Kindle and iBooks. It’ll be available in paperback as well, and will be published on 21 July.

(As always, for those outside of the UK, please try your local US, Australian, New Zealand or EU-based Amazon or iBooks store.)

You can read more about it here.

Between the cover

For those who may have wondered what A Divided River is actually about,  you’ll find the blurb below.

It will be available as an eBook on Kindle and iBooks, and in paperback through Amazon and other online booksellers, in July. The eBook versions will be available for pre-order in the coming weeks.

In the meantime, UK-based people have until the early hours of 11 June (BST) to enter the Goodreads giveway to win one of five signed copies of The Silver Mask: The Vasini Chronicles I.

Tales From Vasini I:
A Divided River

Vasini, founded and rebuilt from the ashes left by the fall of the deities. A city-state divided by politics, class, philosophies and by the Sini river.

As the tides turn and the riverbed is exposed, mudlarks search the silt for valuables that have been washed into the Sini. In The Mudlark’s Tale, one mudlark’s find may be worth far more than he first thought, but it comes with consequences.

In the depths of winter the Sini river freezes, and the comte calls the Winter Fayre upon its ice. In The Winter Fayre, five citizens of Vasini find their lives intersecting and changing as they enjoy the festivities. A sergeant of the Palace Regiment watches for trouble amongst visitors to the Fayre. A pickpocket plies her trade. A palace bureaucrat looks to make political connections. A banker hunts for a mysterious young girl. A follower of a philosophical path attempts to make contact with a fellow adherent who may well be dead.

Tales From Vasini is a companion series of short stories and novellas to The Vasini Chronicles novel series. It tells stories of the wider world of Vasini and its environs. A Divided River contains two stories: The Mudlark’s Tale (a short story); and The Winter Fayre (a novella).

And here it is written on the back of the paperback cover…

A Divided River paperback cover.png

The Silver Mask giveaway

UK-based people…

I’m running a giveaway on Goodreads.

There’s a chance for you to win one of five signed copies of The Silver Mask, the first novel of The Vasini Chronicles, ahead of the July release of A Divided River: Tales From Vasini I – the first of a companion series of stories to The Vasini Chronicles.

Details, terms and conditions etc. can be found here https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/236034-the-silver-mask.

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He shall, from time to time

Back at the beginning of the year I posted my To Do list for 2017. As it’s been a few months since my last update – and there’s been some activity recently – I thought it was time to do another update on some of the points.

Edit and publish a novella and short story

For those who didn’t see the announcement – and cover – A Divided River, the first of the Tales From Vasini books, will be appearing as an eBook and in paperback in July.

It’ll contain two stories: The Mudlark’s Tale (a short story); and The Winter Fayre (a novella).

Keep an eye on the blog, Facebook page and/or Twitter over the coming weeks for more information.

Tales From Vasini is a companion series of short stories and novellas to The Vasini Chronicles novel series. If you haven’t had a chance to read it yet, don’t forget to checkout The Silver Mask – the first of The Vasini Chronicles – either on Kindle, iBooks or in paperback.

Finish writing and then edit The Vasini Chronicles II

The first draft ended up taking longer than expected, mainly because the word count ended up being much (like 50%) higher than expected and a little bit because of technical difficulties over the past month. As always with these things there’s bits I like and bits I know I’ll definitely be changing. There are many words I’ve written that won’t make it through to the published version. It’ll sit on my computer for a little while before I get round to doing any serious editing.

Write some more things (not all of them Vasini related)

While I get the required space between the first draft of The Vasini Chronicles II and starting the second draft, I’m having fun writing a short story that’s been floating around in my head for something like seven years. It definitely doesn’t involve zombies.

There’s another non-Vasini story, and probably two Vasini-related ones as well, I want to write before I plunge on into writing The Vasini Chronciles III.

Read at least 26 books and cut down my backlog of unread books (now over 300 thanks to Christmas presents)

According to my Goodreads page, as of finishing Chris Wooding’s The Black Lung Captain (good, fun adventure), I’ve read 32 books so far this year. Unofficially, I’ve read 39 books as I’ve slipped in a couple of books for research purposes. My new target for the year is 46. Given the next item on my To Do list, despite a strong start to the year, I may not reach my new target.

Become a father (at which point my to do list will likely be much longer and quite different from the above)

Fingers crossed, all is going well.

A Divided River

So, A Divided River, the first Tales From Vasini book, will be coming out in July as an eBook and in paperback.

It’ll contain two stories: The Mudlark’s Tale (a short story); and The Winter Fayre (a novella).

Tales From Vasini is a companion series of short stories and novellas to The Vasini Chronicles novel series. It tells stories of the wider world of Vasini and its environs.

A Divided River eBook cover

Things fall apart

The fear of the white page is talked about often by writers. The fear conjured by sitting in front of a blank sheet of paper/screen, attempting to conjure something out of nothing is likely to be a familiar tale to anyone who has read about writers.

For me, there is a greater fear: the fear of re-confronting the white page; the loss of what you have written and having reconstruct what you have already created. The wasted effort. The need to dredge from memory everything that you’ve done, hoping that you can at least recapture some of what you’ve lost.

You’d think then that I would be more careful about making backups. Apparently not.

So when I tried logging into my laptop last Wednesday and discovered that my keyboard wasn’t working, panic began to set in as I realised that I hadn’t made a back up for a month.

Fortunately, thanks to a Bluetooth mouse I had laying around, I was able to get the keyboard working again and was able to make a backup.

For a day at least.

The next day the same problem occurred, and my fix from the previous day didn’t work, leading to a milder panic that I might have lost the 800 or so words I’d written the previous day. Fortunately, a quick purchase of a Bluetooth keyboard allowed me to make another back up.

For the short period before I got the Bluetooth keyboard, in an attempt to keep on writing The Vasini Chronicles II, I found myself without notes trying to remember where I was and what was going to happen next, and writing longhand with pad and pencil for the first time in several years.

Anyway, the laptop has now been fixed and everything seems to be working fine with no data loss. Panic over.

As a result of all of this – as well as promising myself I’ll make back ups more often – I’m now using the Scrivener app on my laptop and iPad, which should at least mean that I can continue writing, to some degree, without interruption should this happen again.

Although all of this has been delaying me finishing the first draft of The Vasini Chronicles II, it shouldn’t impact the publication of A Divided River, the first Tales from Vasini volume, which should still appear over the summer.

In the end, I’m just grateful that I have the flexibility in my life at the moment to deal with this sort of – in the scheme of things – minor nonsense without it becoming anything more than a frustration.

Twenty Six

At the start of the year, I set out to read at least 26 books. In someways this was an easy target given that I managed to get through 61 books last year, but with impending parenthood I figured that I’d match last year’s pace for the first half of the year and then be lucky to get through a handful more. What I hadn’t counted on was my reading pace picking up and getting through, on average, two books a week.

So here we are coming towards the end of March, and, with Neal Stephenson’s Seveneves finished, I’ve already read all the books I thought I would for the year.

Seveneves – a story of humanity trying to survive the destruction of the moon by escaping into space and what happens afterwards – was great by the way. I have yet to read all of Neal Stephenson’s back catalogue, but all the ones I have read have left me very happy that I invested the time in reading 800+ pages. Normally, when I come away from reading a good book I get a little emotional and creative surge. With Stephenson’s books I also get to come away feeling a little better informed about how the world around me works and what may be possible, scientifically and technologically, within it.

I discovered Neal Stephenson’s novels in the early days of developing what would become The Silver Mask. I was discussing the ideas with a friend and, given the presence of alchemy and the 17th/18th century influences on the setting, he suggested I try Stephenson’s The Baroque Cycle. I’m not sure how much they influenced or benefited The Silver Mask, but I did get to start reading Neal Stephenson’s novels, which I count as a win.

Seveneves was also a pleasant relief from a short string of books that didn’t quite work for me. After indulging my nostalgia for the Dragonlance series with Dragons of Summer Flame, I thought I’d try Tanis – The Shadow Years – a prelude story for Tanis, one of the main protagonist from the Dragonlance Chronicles trilogy I’d enjoyed in my teens. After Dragons of Summer Flame it was somewhat of a disappointment. For me it didn’t really embody the setting of the Dragonlance novels nor the character of Tanis. There were even moments that seemed to unnecessarily contradict established elements of the setting – moments that weren’t essential to the story and didn’t seem to care that they went against established canon. In the end, it was a somewhat frustrating read.

It probably wasn’t helped that the previous book I’d read was Julian Barnes’s Love etc, a book I found difficult to enjoy because I didn’t want to spend time with a number of its characters. It was kind of similar to the experience I’d had reading his novel The Sense of an Ending, so it seems like he might just write about people I don’t have much sympathy for nor want to spend time reading about.

Overall though, the remainder of the 26 have proven to be enjoyable. Saga, the graphic novel series, has been a particularly good find over the past year, and I’m looking forward to getting Volume 7 when it appears in April. I’m not sure whether it’s, in part, down to it resonating for me with my impending parenthood.

One other book to note. I’ve finally read my copy of Macbeth, the book that has been sat on my shelves waiting to read the longest. I bought my copy when I was about 11, after watching Blackadder torture two actors by repeatedly mentioning the play by name in Black Adder the Third*.  It’s followed me to at least five different homes since then, patiently waiting. I’ve dipped into it over the years, but now I’ve finally read it from beginning to end. It’s not bad.

What has reading 26 books done to my backlog? Not a lot to be honest. It would have amounted to a little under 9% of my backlog as it stood last year. However, that was before receiving presents and buying more books. Of the 26  I’ve read, only six books had been on my bookshelves longer than two years.

D’oh.

Anyway, with my first reading target hit, I suppose I should set myself a new one. Based on my current rate, it would be tempting to say 104, which would mean keeping up with two books a week. I think that would be a little too ambitious, so I’m going to say 46. That’s roughly one every two weeks, which is probably more sensible as it allows for things to slow down later in the year. You can keep track of how well I’m doing on my Goodreads page.

* Apparently the alleged curse that comes with speaking of Macbeth by name isn’t really a thing. Back in the day, when a repertory theatre’s latest production wasn’t drawing the crowds they’d end the run and put on Macbeth (certain to bring in an audience) instead.

Hot potato, off his drawers, pluck to make amends! *squeezes nose*

Slow news day

It’s been a month since my last post, mostly because a weekly statement of “I wrote some words and read some books” doesn’t quite provide the word count to warrant a blog post. There have been other things happening, mostly those annoyances that come with everyday life (like the central heating boiler breaking down, the car leaking coolant and a radiator in the house springing a leak), but nothing of real consequence.

Any’hoo…

The Vasini Chronicles II is coming to the end of its first draft. Hopefully it will be wrapped up by the end of March (and won’t spill into April). It will then be told to sit in a corner and behave for a little while before I start the year-or-so’s work of editing it. It’s already way longer than I expected, although it will get shorter as I clear out all the bits that don’t need to be in it. I won’t reveal anything about the set up or what happens just yet. There’s plenty of time to do that.

A Divided River, the first of the Tales from Vasini (the companion series to The Vasini Chronicles) is coming together. It’ll contain two stories (a short story and a novella) and is on track to be out over the summer.

I was putting a draft of A Divided River into a storage box yesterday when I came across an early draft of The Silver Mask that my wife had marked up with some comments. When she reads a draft, along with her thoughts and corrections, she usually adds some doodles as a reaction to what’s happening in the story. At the end of the Chapter 12 of The Silver Mask, I received this:

Cankera

It’s the first and, as far as I’m aware, only drawing of a cankera.

The length of string

I have noticed a little trend when talking to people about The Vasini Chronicles – there seems to be an assumption that it will be a trilogy.

It’s understandable, in someways. People tend to like things that come in threes, it seems to fit an assumed natural order to the world. And given all the trilogies out there, it does seem like we’ve become programmed to think of ongoing stories in terms of three installments (although this ignores how many novel and film series don’t follow that format).

So how long will The Vasini Chronicles be?

As long as it needs to be to tell the story, which looks likely to be six novels.

I say it “looks likely to be six novels” to give myself a little leeway should I get midway through and discover six novels is too few (or, possibly, too many).

Early on when I was developing the ideas for Vasini, I realised that there would be scope for more stories than just The Silver Mask. As I worked on The Silver Mask it became apparent that there was an end destination for the story of Doctors Fox and Reid, a natural outcome for what had developed out of those initial ideas and the events that started in the first novel. The question, though, was how many steps (novels) would it take to reach that natural outcome? I thought four, then five. After some actual planning, I realised it was more likely six. I doubt it will stretch to seven, unless there’s some factor I haven’t considered that will expand this particular story.

Alongside these six novels will sit what, for now, I’m going to term The Tales from Vasini, a companion series of short stories and novellas that will explore parts of Vasini outside of the story of Fox and Reid. The first should be out later this year.

So that’s the plan. Like a piece of string, it will be twice the distance from the middle to one end, but it won’t be a trilogy. It won’t necessarily appear quickly, but hopefully it will appear regularly.

Cinematic Incidents 2: The Jackie Incident

A quick update to my post about random incidents at the cinema.

Today we went to see Jackie at the cinema. A good film that may have been overshadowed slightly by two incidents – at least for somebody who collects random cinema incidents.

First off, we were slightly late in getting to the screen. Fortunately, it hadn’t started, so counting ourselves lucky, we took our seats and waited. And waited. And waited.

Of the 15 or so people in the screen, we were the only ones who seemed to have noticed that the 12.40pm showing still wasn’t showing at nearly 1pm. So I headed off to find a member of staff – who asked whether it was okayed if they skipped the trailers now that the screening was running late – and about 10 minutes later the film actually started.

All was well and good.

Then at the end of the film a voice piped about explaining what happened to Jackie and Bobby Kennedy after the events of the film. At first, I thought that it was a narrator on the film. Then I realised it was a guy who had stood up a couple of rows down who had taken it upon himself to provide a short lecture on the Kennedy family.

Given what happened with Black Swan, should I just start to accept that something random will happen at films involving Natalie Portman and Darren Aronofsky?