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.

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.

That was 2018

We’re very nearly at the end of 2018, so time to wrap up the year’s to do list and try not to despair at the things left undone.

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

At the beginning of the year I said:

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.

Hope is a wonderful thing until it meets messy reality. The editing continues. As I mentioned back at the beginning of November, it’s currently out with others who will take a look at it before I work on the next draft. It won’t be early 2019, but it will be published as early as possible next year.

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.

This is a supernatural noir novel that had been floating around in my mind since I was 17.

I was kind of expecting to fail to do anything with it again this year. Turns out I was wrong. Although it had to wait until the last few months, I’ve finally managed to turn my attention to editing. I hadn’t realised how much I’d missed the characters and story. Hopefully, hopefully, I can get some more work done on it and it might even end up being in a place to be published. One can hope.

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.

It’s taken longer than I’d hoped, but I finally finished writing the first draft of the second story for Tales From Vasini II today.

I won’t say too much about it at the moment, other than that one story is based in the Outbounds – the not-so-safe farm belt around Vasini – and the other one (the one I just finished) is set within the Wildlands between the city-states, the wild and dangerous lands, filled with the ruins of the civilization of those who worshipped the deities.

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.

This is the sequel to The City Between the Books currently under the working title of The Signal (it will likely change titles, possibly more than once, between now and publication). I’ve done some editing on it. There’s some more to do. It will appear at some point. Probably sooner than other things on this list.

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.

Although I never got to actually writing The Vasini Chronicles III, I have been doing research in preparation for both The Vasini Chronicles III and Tales From Vasini III. Come the New Year (or maybe a little bit sooner), I’ll start outlining the both of them in more depth, so hopefully I’ll actually start writing it in a few months time. It’ll be the Tales From Vasini III stories up first as they’ll be set before The Vasini Chronicles III.

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 ended up declaring 60 on Goodreads with another eight read that I didn’t list on Goodreads. That’s less than last year but more than the 2016. I even managed to get round to writing my first review on Goodreads, something that I may do more of (although I doubt it will become a habit).

The better news is that my backlog is now down to 308 books. I may get through the entire lot in another five years or so.

The highlights have been Saga Volumes 8 & 9. With Saga now on hiatus, though, I’m not sure what I’m looking forward to reading most this year.

Time to rest and let things go ready for the New Year and a fresh resolve, even if the 2019 To Do list isn’t as fresh and new as I’d hope.

Happy holidays. I hope 2018 has treated you well and you’ve managed to do everything you wanted.

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.

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.

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.

54 and counting

Back on 1 January, my to do list for the year included “Read at least 26 books and cut down my backlog of unread books (now over 300 thanks to Christmas presents).”

As of last night, according to my Goodreads profile, I’d read 54 books. As I’ve stated before, the actual figure is about 10 or so higher as I don’t list on Goodreads any books that I’ve read for research for risk of spoilers about what may happen in my own books in the future.

Book 53 was Dragonflight by Anne McCaffrey. A book that I’d received as a present back in my teens, which had continually been pushed back on my reading list thanks to my tendency to buy more books than I read (hence the backlog of a few hundred unread books). I enjoyed it. I suspect, I’d have enjoyed it more back in my teens though.

Book 54 was The End, the conclusion to A Series of Unfortunate Events. A Series of Unfortunate Events really lends itself to being read aloud, convenient as I had been reading it to my daughter when she was in utero, and have continued since she came into the world. We both seem to have enjoyed the series. With A Series of Unfortunate Events now complete, we’ll be moving on to the complete works of Lewis Carroll.

Although you’d think from the numbers that I was making a dent in that backlog, 42 of the books I read this year were bought in the past two years. Three of the books – the aforementioned Dragonflight, Macbeth and The Survivor by James Herbert – have been on my bookshelves since my teens, so at least I’m finally getting through some of the oldest books.

Of the 54, 14 books were read after the birth of my daughter. It’s more than I predicted I’d read in the second half of the year. It’s probably down to the majority of the books being quite short, although having four (now five) books on the go at once may play a part. I tend to read when I’m doing something else that I don’t need to concentrate on and leaves my hands free. I usually have a book for in the bath (always a paperback), one for when I’m on my exercise bike (usually a hardback), one for reading aloud at bedtime (see A Series of Unfortunate Events above) and one book for all other times (usually a paperback that has graduated from the bath). These have now been joined by an ebook that I can read on my phone late at night and, apparently, while I’m brushing my teeth.

Having read more than double the number of books I’d set out to at the beginning of the year, my new target is 57 books. I should make it, but how many more I’ll read after that is anyone’s guess.