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.

Blog offs and hidden books

It’s been over a month since my last blog. I had intended to blog sooner, but with new parenthood, writing, editing, a day job and so on and so on and so on, things got away from me a little.

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SPFBO

A little while ago The Silver Mask became a semi-finalist in the Self-Published Fantasy Blog-off (SPFBO).

For those who, like me until a few months ago, have never heard of the SPFBO, it’s a competition for self-published fantasy authors run by Mark Lawrence (author of The Broken Empire trilogy amongst other things).

300 books are divided up amongst 10 bloggers, who whittle their selection of 30 down through whichever method they decide to one book. This one book is put through to the final. The 10 finalists are then read by the 10 bloggers who together decide on the winner.

The Silver Mask was sorted into Fantasy Book Review’s group, who are whittling their group down to a set of semi-finalists from which they’ll select their finalist. You can read more about Fantasy Book Review’s approach here.

You can find out more about SPFBO, see what other books have been entered and follow the contest on Mark Lawrence’s blog here.

So why, if this started back in May, am I talking about it now? Partly because there hasn’t been much to talk about from The Silver Mask’s perspective, but, to be honest, mostly because I didn’t want to encourage the inevitable irony of me talking a lot about the competition and then The Silver Mask being cut immediately afterward. Of course, irony could now strike and I could be cut at the semi-final stage. So lets just say, if I never talk about the SPFBO again it’s because things didn’t go so well.

Hide a Book Day

Yesterday was Hide a Book Day, a joint event between Goodreads and The Book Fairies.

I’ve always been tempted by the idea of leaving copies of my books around the place for people to find and this provided the perfect excuse.

Three copies of The Silver Mask have been left around the place:

In Lakeside, Thurrock:

 

The Spectrum Centre, Belfast:

 

And Manchester Piccadilly:

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I can’t promise they’re still there if you go searching for them.

Thank you to my two ‘book fairies’ – Alison and Claudia – who helped deposit the books and possibly made it look like I was travelling around the country.

Ellingsen’s Third State of the To Do List

Given that we’re now over a month into the second half of the year, and quite a bit has happened in the past seven weeks or so, I thought it was time for a ‘To do list’ update.

Edit and publish a novella and short story

A Divided River: Tales From Vasini I has been out for three weeks now. The handful of reviews that have appeared on Goodreads have been really positive.

Should you be interested in having a read yourself, you can find it on Kindle, iBooks and in paperback.

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

With everything else that has been going on, not much has happened with this. Hopefully, I’ll get some time to work on it in the coming months.

Finish writing and then edit The Vasini Chronicles II

If you’ve already A Divided River, you’ll know that the next The Vasini Chronicles book is called The Theatre of Shadows and you will have seen a couple of clues about what it will be about.

I’m deep into editing the first draft and have lots of notes about what needs to change for the second draft. A lot of it at this stage is shuffling around events into a more coherent order and getting rid of sections that blatantly don’t add anything to the story. I’m tempted to make some of these deleted scenes available on my website at some point in the future, but we’ll have to see.

The Theatre of Shadows is the second longest story I’ve ever written (the longest in the long novel mentioned above). Overall, I’m quite happy with it. There’s a lot of work still to do on it, but, for the moment, I’m feeling positive.

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

I’m coming towards the end of a Vasini-based story that was originally going to be a long story, but is now hitting novella territory.

Beyond that there’s a non-Vasini related novella that I’m looking forward to writing more and more.

After that will be another Vasini-based novella and then I’ll probably start work on The Vasini Chronicles III.

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

At my last ‘To do list’ update, according to my Goodreads page, I’d read 32 books. In the 14 weeks or so since then, I’ve managed to finish another 13 for a grand total of 45 books read this year. I’ve pushed my target up to 52 books.

Unofficially, though, I’ve already read 55 books as I’ve slipped in some books for research purposes.

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

No comment.

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

Parenthood achieved. My daughter was born in June. Some things may be taking a little longer to do, but I have an awesome daughter.

We interrupt this silence…

I’m still on paternity leave for a little while, but I just wanted to say a quick thank you to everyone who entered my Goodreads giveaway of A Divided River: Tales From Vasini I.

The signed copies will be going out to the winners in the coming days.

For those who missed out, the eBook of A Divided River is available for pre-order on Amazon and iBooks. It will be published as an eBook and in paperback on 21 July.

As always, for those outside of the UK, please try your local Amazon or iBooks store.

A Divided River giveaway

As I write this on Tuesday, I have still yet to enter the realms of parenthood. By the time the post is actually published on Thursday morning (UK time), who knows what the situation will be.

Anyway, UK-based people, I’m running a Goodreads giveaway for the chance for you to win one of five signed paperback copies of A Divided River: Tales From Vasini I ahead of its release on 21 July. You can enter the giveaway here. You have until 6 July to enter.

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And here’s the copies of The Silver Mask from the last Goodreads giveaway just before they were posted on Tuesday.

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Gone Quiet

Any moment now I’m going to become a father.

I say any moment now, it will be any time within the next few weeks, but after nearly nine months of waiting it feels like any moment.

Although you may not notice, at some point I’ll go silent for a while as I finally get to look after and play with my child (I’ve already been reading to it).

Before that though…

My Goodreads giveaway for The Silver Mask has now finished. Thank you to everyone who entered. I’ll be sending out the copies to the lucky five within the next few days.

Ahead of its publication on 21 July, I’ll be running a Goodreads giveaway (open to UK-based people) of five signed paperback copies of A Divided River. It’ll start this Thursday and end on 6 July.

For those outside of the UK or who don’t do the Goodreads thing or those who prefer their books on electronic devices, you can pre-order A Divided River on Kindle and iBooks.

Catch you all after I enter the land of parenthood.

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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