Still here, still writing, still doing things

Wow, this is only my fifth blog post of the year and my first since June. I’m not the most prolific blogger anyway, but it’s about a fifth of the posts I made last year. I suspect, in part, the difference is that last year I was publishing A Divided River and, therefore, had a bit more to talk about and this year has been heads down working on The Theatre of Shadows and other things. That and time has been more precious and writing and editing novels and novellas has taken priority over the blog.

So on that note it’s time for a little update on my 2018 To Do List.

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

The editing continues. I recently finished the third draft. I’m taking a break from it for a bit while others have a read of it. Once I have their thoughts, there’ll be a fourth draft.

As mentioned here, despite my hopes this does mean it won’t be published until next year.

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

My break from The Theatre of Shadows does mean I get to spend some time editing my long supernatural noir novel. After I’ve done another draft on this I’m going to put some thought into how I want to publish it.

It’s proven easy to slip back into it after such a long gap. But given that it’s been floating around in my head since I was 17, it is a very old friend and it shouldn’t be that surprising it’s so easy to pick up where I left off.

Write and edit the next Tales From Vasini

As reported back in April, I’ve finished the first of the two novellas for the next Tales From Vasini book. I’m now coming to the end of the first draft of the second story (as I also mentioned in April, work was slow going on that story and has continued to move slower than I’d hoped). Both stories will sit in a draw (well, on my laptop at least) for a little while then I’ll start work on editing them.

Finish writing and then edit a novella.

The non-Vasini novella I was working on at the beginning of the year – a sequel to The City Between the Books – has gone through an edit. I’ll be asking some people to look at it before I start on the next draft.

Between this novella, Tales From Vasini II, the supernatural noir novel and The Theatre of Shadows it could mean that after not publishing anything for the past year, 2019 could see the beginning of a run of publishing if all of the books are completed as (fingers very firmly crossed) they seem like they may be.

Write The Vasini Chronicles III.

This won’t be happening this year, or at least not the actual writing.

Given everything else that I’ve been working on and that the second Tales From Vasini II story is taking longer than expected to complete, I’ll likely only get through some more research and start to flesh out the plot ahead of the New Year. Added to that, I’m almost certain that I’ll write an associated story (Tales From Vasini III) before starting writing The Vasini Chronicles III.

Read at least 36 books and cut down my backlog of unread books (now at over 340 books).

Done. According to Goodreads I’ve read 48 books so far this year. My backlog of unread books is now down to 316 books. Unlike writing, my reading doesn’t seem to have been impacted so much by time constraints, possibly, in part, because where as I can read while brushing my teeth, I’m not sure the results would be so good if I attempted to write with a toothbrush in one hand and toothpaste dripping from my mouth.

Saga Volumes 8 & 9 have been my favourites so far this year. Riverwind – The Plainsman has been the biggest disappointment. It was another attempt, after Tanis – The Shadow Years and Flint the King last year, to indulge my nostalgia for the Dragonlance novels. As with Tanis, for me much of the novel didn’t really embody the setting of the Dragonlance novels (although maybe they do and my memory of the Dragonlance Chronicles is too warped by time to make a fair comparison). Despite this, I still seem to want to indulge my nostalgia, so no doubt I’ll be reading another Dragonlance novel at some point in the future. Fingers crossed it hits the mark.

Mea Culpa

I have an apology to make.

It’s coming up on a year since I released A Divided River: Tales From Vasini I. When I was editing and preparing it for publication I spent some time um-ing and ah-ing over whether to include a little teaser for the next The Vasini Chronicles novel, The Theatre of Shadows, and whether to include a publication date.

I was keen to give people a little taste of what might be in store for Doctors Marcus Fox and Elizabeth Reid, but I was hesitant about including any form of date.

I knew there was an inherent risk in giving a publication date that I would miss it. The flip side was that I didn’t want to include the teaser without giving some indication of when it would be available, and saying ‘Coming Soon’ for something that I knew wouldn’t be published for at least a year would just be inaccurate and annoyingly vague. So I finally settled on including the teaser with ‘Coming in 2018’. At that moment in time 2018 seemed reasonable, there was a lot of editing to do, but publishing it by the end of 2018 at the very latest was achievable.

Or so I thought.

As I’ve alluded to in other posts, things haven’t quite gone as expected for the past six months or so and periodic low-grade interruptions that have needed dealing with have taken up more time than I would have liked.

Rather than force myself to put out a half-edited book just to meet, what is in truth, an arbitrary deadline, I’m going to say now The Theatre of Shadows won’t be out this year. I will make damn sure though it is out as soon as it can be in 2019.

Coming in 2018 revised date

119 days in

We’re a third of a way through the year, so time for an update on the 2018 To Do list.

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

I’ve finished editing the first draft. The second draft is currently sitting on my laptop waiting for me to go back to it after enough time has elapsed that I can see it with fresher eyes.

Although I had hoped to publish it by the end of the year, it’s increasingly likely that it will be the early part of next year before it’s ready.

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

Frustratingly, I’ve yet to do anything with this. This novel has been floating around my head since I was 17, it took years to get to a point where I was willing to put pen to paper and then to get to a point where I had a complete first draft. It looks like it will be some more time before it’s finally finished.

Write and edit the next Tales From Vasini.

I’d written one of the novellas that will make up Tales From Vasini II last year. I’m currently working on the second. The writing is slow going at the moment, but fingers crossed it will pick up speed as I go and will build up some momentum.

Finish writing and then edit a novella.

The non-Vasini novella I was working on at the beginning of the year has been finished. I’ll probably start editing it after I’ve worked on the next draft of The Theatre of Shadows.

Write The Vasini Chronicles III.

I know the basics of the story and how it relates to The Vasini Chronicles as a whole. I’ve been doing some bits of research. I may plow straight into after the novella I’m currently working on, but there may be an associated story it may be better to write first. We’ll see.

Read at least 36 books and cut down my backlog of unread books (now at over 340 books).

According to Goodreads, I’ve read 25 books so far this year. If I were to keep up my current pace that would mean I’ll have read 75 books by 31 December. Somehow, I doubt I’ll read that many. The main reason I’ve read 25 books is that several of them have been novellas or even shorter.

The good news with regards to my backlog is that eight of the 25 have been on my bookshelf waiting to be read for over two years, and in the case of at least one – War of the Daleks – since the late ‘90s.

Two months later

Okay, let’s see if I can actually finish this post before something else happens.

It’s been two months since my last post. I never intended it to be that long. Life, however, has not played along and other things have required my attention for the past few weeks. Nothing critical, nothing too bad, just a lot of low grade interruptions and irritations that by themselves would have been fine and nothing exceptional, but they all seemed to come along in a steady stream. When they haven’t required my attention, I’ve been trying to focus on writing a novella and editing The Theatre of Shadows: The Vasini Chronicles II.

What was going to be

Before I took my forced hiatus from here, I did manage to write a title and a sentence of a post:

Misprints

I’ve recently finished reading The Complete Maus – Art Spiegelman’s graphic novel retelling of his father’s experiences during the Holocaust.

I’d intended to write about how, though I’d found to Maus to be compelling, I’d discovered that my copy – that I’d received as a present several years ago – contained a misprint. A section of pages were repeated and, in turn, the final pages were missing. So, technically, I hadn’t finished reading it and won’t until such time as I can find a copy to borrow to read those last few pages.

I then planned on writing about other misprinted books I’d owned, including:

  • The Dark Tower VII: The Dark Tower by Stephen King, where a third of the way through the book I’d discovered that a section of pages had been repeated and that it then skipped ahead 20 or so pages. I’d bought the book in hardback and given the time between buying it and discovering the misprint, I’d figured that I wouldn’t be able to exchange it. I decided to set it aside with the intent of buying the paperback when it came out. Of course, I ended up getting distracted by other books, and when I finally went back to it, I’d forgotten about the misprint until I reached it again. I ended up buying the eBook (the first Kindles were three years away when I started reading the book), but only used it for the bit that was missing.
  • The first misprint I can remember coming across was in my first copy of the Dungeon Master’s Guide for Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Second Edition. I was twelve at the time and had been saving pocket money since buying the Player’s Handbook a month earlier. We were visiting my grandparents, and I popped down to the hobby shop where I bought nearly all of my role-playing game books and dice for the first few years of my gaming life. The book was wrapped in cellophane and I didn’t get a chance to open it until I was back at my grandparents. After eagerly unwrapping it, I became very confused when I discovered that although the illustrations and the headings were there, there was no actual text. My brain tried to come up with an explanation for why the elements that were there were perfectly printed, yet the majority of the book was blank. The best I could come up with was that I was supposed to fill in the gaps in someway, that TSR as it was then, would release the content through some means and I was supposed to copy it into the book. By the time I’d admitted that it was a misprint, the shops were closed and I was forced to wait until the next week to swap it for a copy with the actual words.

Other things

So that’s what I’d intended to write about back in January. Since then I’ve been concentrating on, slowly but surely, editing The Theatre of Shadows. It’s coming along, not as quickly as I would have liked, but editing 180,000+ words takes time. The hope remains to publish it by the end of the year, but there’s an increasing chance it may be early 2019 instead.

The non-Vasini related novella I’m working on, after an initial splurge of writing has settled into a slower, more steady pace. I’m likely to finish the first draft (all being well) by the end of March. I tend to guess at what the final word count will be for each story I write. Lately the final word count has ended up 50% over my prediction. This time it looks like I may only be 10% over.

Back towards the end of January, I was happily surprised to discover that The Winter Fayre from A Divided River: Tales From Vasini I was shortlisted in the Best Novella category of the Subjective Chaos Kind Of awards – a group of bloggers who have got together to have some fun judging their favourite books of 2017. You can read more about their endeavours at Bethan May Books and at The Middle Shelf.

Anyway, here’s hoping that the interruptions are over and it won’t be as long until my next post.

And so it begins yet again…

So we’ve crossed the arbitrary line in the temporal sand again. Time to hope that we can wipe the slate clean and set off on a better course, before reality sets in and things take a suspiciously familiar track (much like this post).

Where as last year was very much split into two halves – pre-parenthood and parenthood – this year is likely to be all about the new normal as my life continues to rearrange itself and settle around having a growing daughter.

To do list for 2018

My ‘To Do’ list for 2018 will be somewhat familiar as a lot of it is based on what happened in 2017.

  • Edit and publish The Theatre of Shadows: The Vasini Chronicles II. It’s written. I’ll likely wrap up the second draft in January. It will then be a year of more and more drafts until it’s in a shape I’m happy to publish. The hope is to publish it by the end of the year, but there’s a chance that it may be early 2019 instead.
  • Edit and try to work out how to publish a long novel. This was the one thing on my 2017 list that I failed to do, so it’s back on the list to do this year. Maybe as things progress with The Theatre of Shadows, I’ll be able to invest more time in this.
  • Write and edit the next Tales From Vasini I’ve written one of the novellas that will make up the next Tales From Vasini book, there’s one more to write before I can start editing and then publishing it.
  • Finish writing and then edit a novella. I’m currently working on a non-Vasini related novella. Fingers crossed, I’ll finish it around the end of January. Then onto editing it and deciding how and when to publish it.
  • Write The Vasini Chronicles III. So after I’ve finished the novella I’m currently working on and the second novella for the next Tales From Vasini book, it’s back to writing The Vasini Chronicles.
  • Read at least 36 books and cut down my backlog of unread books (now at over 340 books). Last year I originally planned to read 26 books, by the end of the year I’d read 62. However, only 24 of them were after my daughter was born. Based on this, I should be able to get through 48 books. However, given there a few 800+ page books amongst those I’m planning to read, I’m going to aim for 36. This may still be quite ambitious. It does mean that, based on this target, it will take me 10 years to get through my backlog (as it stands).

I feel exhausted just looking at that list. It’s ambitious – it involves writing something like 160,000 words and editing 450,000 words – and doesn’t include the big to dos, like being a dad, being a husband, and doing all the other things in my life other than reading and writing.

Anyway, happy New Year. I hope 2018 proves to be a good year for you all.

The final state of the To Do List 2017

I started writing this post on Wednesday and was originally going to say that I’d just completed my Goodreads reading challenge for the year – 57 books (plus 11 that I didn’t add to my Goodreads list for various reasons plus many, many of my daughter’s books). However, between starting to write it and posting it, I’ve managed to finish off another three books.

Either way, it seems appropriate, especially with the end of the year so close, to do a wrap up on my To Do List for 2017.

In some sort of order, here’s how things panned out.

Reading

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

Done.

I started with a target of 26 books. I ended up reading more than double.

According to Goodreads, of the 60 I listed on there:

  • The shortest was The Play That Goes Wrong by Henry Lewis at 80 pages and the longest The Terror by Dan Simmons at 936 pages.
  • The average length of the books I read was 303 pages.
  • In total, I read 18,186 pages.

Despite having now read most of the hardcopy books that I’ve bought or have been given to me in the past two years, and having read 16 books that have been on my shelves longer (since my teens in at least two cases), my ‘To Be Read’ pile has continued to grow. According to Goodreads, it now stands at 327 books. I blame the likes of Humble Bundle and their providing a means to support charities while getting a load of cheap eBooks.

My favourites I’ve read this year have been Saga Volumes Five, Six and Seven by Brian K. Vaughan (given that it’s the story of two parents struggling to bring up a child in a universe that is hostile to them and their child’s existence, I discovered Saga at just the right time as I entered the realms of parenthood myself – although my life is far less dramatic and I’m not trying to escape an interstellar war) and Seveneves by Neal Stephenson (I always feel more intelligent and knowledgeable after reading a Neal Stephenson book – whether I am or not, I’ve no idea, but I feel it).

Writing

  • Edit and publish a novella and short story

Done.

A Divided River, the first of the Tales From Vasini books, came out in July.

A Divided River eBook cover

Done.

The Theatre of Shadows has been written. I’m editing it.

ToS Title

There’s a hint as to what the story may be at the end of A Divided River. At the end the hint says:

ToS Date

Although the intention remains to publish it late next year, there is always the chance it will get delayed. If it does get delayed, by damn, I’m going to make every attempt to get it out early 2019.

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

Done.

A longish non-Vasini-related story was written. What was meant as a longish story but turned into a more full-blown novella set in Vasini (or rather just outside) was written. I’m working on a non-Vasini related novella at the moment.

The Vasini-related novella will be part of the next Tales From Vasini book, along with another, yet to be written, novella.

The novella I’m currently writing will end up being published as and when its finished and been edited to a point I’m happy to release it.

I’m not quite sure what to do with the longish non-Vasini related story at the moment. It could go with the novella, but they don’t really fit together. It’s probably a little bit too short to publish by itself, so may have to wait a little while to see the light of day.

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

Not done.

With everything else, this has fallen by the wayside. I’ve dabbled with it, but haven’t been able to put in the hours on I’d have liked. Which sucks, as its one of my favourite things I’ve ever written and has taken years to get to this point. Maybe 2018 will offer more of a chance to work on it.

The World

  • Hope that the bad decision making the world seemed prone to last year doesn’t have as much of an impact as it could and try to play my part in counteracting said bad decision making

I’ll say that this has been a bit of a mixed bag and (mostly) leave it there.

For those who may be interested in different approaches to politics, I’ll draw your attention to More United, a UK-based attempt at (as they put it) “a new way of doing politics, making it less extreme, less tribal and giving you more power to make an impact.” Rather than supporting a particular party, they support candidates who agree with their principles from across any of the political parties.

If you’re interested, check them out, if not, don’t.

Life

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

Done.

She’s awesome.

 

Happy holidays and all the best for the New Year.

Visions Of A Dragon

I’m guessing it won’t come as much of a surprise that I’m something of self-professed nerd.

Amongst my nerdy pursuits is LARP (or Live Action Roleplaying – see here if you don’t know what it is).

Some years ago now, I was a plot writer for the LARP system I was involved with, and, as part of a plotline, I produced several nursery rhymes, which were recorded – with suitably disturbing child-like voices – by a friend, Phil Callan.

In 2010, Phil decided to produce his first ever album – Visions Of A Dragon – a collection of folk songs inspired by celtic traditions and stories from LARP. Phil and another friend, Michelle Cleland, adapted one of the nursery rhymes I’d written – Hurry Now, Make No Sound – into a song for the album.

Phil has since started his own independent music and audio production company. He’s recently re-mastered Visions Of A Dragon – including my little nursery rhyme, and, more importantly, a load of awesome songs by talented musicians – and made it available for the general public to purchase.

You can find out more about the album and its history here on the Red Banner Studios website.

The album is available to buy on Bandcamp here.