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

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.

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.

Some quick updates

Back on the 1 January I wrote my to do list for the year.

I don’t intend to give regular updates, but I thought, in lieu of anything else to blog about for the moment (other than ranting about politics), I would give some quick updates on where things are at after the first couple of weeks. (Some of the first few weeks has been spent getting older, part of which included going to see the play of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – it was very good, and I’d highly recommend it if you haven’t seen it already and you can get to it before it closes in the West End.)

  • Edit and publish a novella and short story

The novella is currently being read by someone. I’m awaiting their feedback, but assuming it isn’t in too bad a shape, I’m still on track for getting this out maybe around the middle of this year (final point on the to do list not standing).

The book that will contain these two stories is hopefully the first of several books that will pop up between releases of the main The Vasini Chronicles novels. This one will deal with some happenings that occurred either side of The Silver Mask.

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

While I’m waiting for feedback on the novella, my editing time is being spent on this long novel, which may get published at some point in the future (there’s various complications with publishing it independently, but hopefully they can be overcome).

I’m kinda pleased with it, but there’s still a way to go before it’s in a shape to publish.

  • Finish writing and then edit The Vasini Chronicles II

As I write this, the first draft currently sits at a few words shy of 128,000. The first draft (as always) will be somewhat longer than I expected. The end of the first draft is still a little distant, but is now at least within sight.

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

This will have to wait until I’ve finished the first draft of The Vasini Chronicles II, but there are a couple of ideas percolating for what I’ll write next.

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

With impending parenthood, I decided to set myself a target of 26 books this year (despite having read 61 last year). I’ve read nine so far, so well on track to get to 26. However, most have been presents or more recent purchases, so I’m not quite getting through actual backlog.

If you’re interested in what I’m reading, you can check out my Goodreads page.

  • 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’ve always been a bit sceptical of writing to my MP. However, I finally managed to overcome the sense of futility and wrote to my MP this week. I shall await their response with the hope that my scepticism was misplaced. I suspect it will be the first of several emails over the coming weeks and months.

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

Everything’s still on track with this (*touch wood*).

And so it begins again…

Happy New Year all. I hope 2017 has started well for you.

It’s just after 1.30am on New Year’s day as I start this. No doubt it will be finished at some other point as, hopefully, I’ll finally get tired enough to fall asleep.

Another year has passed. As with any year, it was a mixed bag. There were many good things that happened, but there was some bad decision making that has lead to bigger, badder decisions being made than perhaps we’ve made in recent memory. Decisions that will impact everyone, not just those who made them. 2017 will, of course, be where we begin to feel the impact of those decisions in full.

In everyday life, when making decisions, there always seems to be the ability to rethink, to change your mind when more information comes to hand. It does not seem at this moment that the world will be allowed this luxury. But we can hope.

And that’s the great thing about the New Year. Despite being an arbitrary line in the temporal sand, psychologically the slate is swept clean. We’re allowed to hope for something better, that this year will be better than the last. We take stock, give ourselves a moment’s pause to assess things and change direction. Of course, as January progresses, reality sets in and things take a suspiciously familiar track. But for these few hours, we get the hope of a blank slate, a course yet to be written. And maybe, just maybe, we can just nudge things in a slightly better direction.

For me, with impending parenthood (a good decision of 2016), my year is very much going to be divided into two halves. From a writing perspective, the hope is to get out a novella and short story in the first half of the year and then use what time I have available in the second half of the year to edit The Vasini Chronicles II (I won’t make any promises yet on when that will see publication). From a personal perspective, the year (and all future years) are going to be written by my child. Who knows what they have in mind.

To do list for 2017

So here’s my to do list, as it stands, for 2017:

  • Edit and publish a novella and short story
  • Edit and try to work out how to publish a long novel
  • Finish writing and then edit The Vasini Chronicles II
  • Write some more things (not all of them Vasini related)
  • Read at least 26 books and cut down my backlog of unread books (now over 300 thanks to Christmas presents)
  • 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
  • Become a father (at which point my to do list will likely be much longer and quite different from the above)

Some last little bits from 2016

  1. In the end I managed to get through 61 books last year. I managed to complete The Secret History of Twin Peaks (along with sneaking in Sage Volume 4, Revolting Rhymes, Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats and Jessica Jones: Alias Volume 1), but not Dragons of Summer Flames.
  2. For those who may not have seen the link on Facebook or Twitter, The New Podler Review of Books reviewed The Silver Mask here.

52 and some other things

52…

Books 50 (Superfreakonomics by Stephen Dubner and Steven Levitt), 51 (Death’s Daughter by Amber Benson) and 52 (The Book of Human Skin by Michelle Lovric) have been read.

My initial impressions here pretty much held up.

Superfreakonomics was interesting, although, having heard several of the ideas from the book on the Freakonomics podcast and being a sequel, it didn’t quite have the same spark, the same sort of joy at the quirky insights that the first Freakonomics book did (Think Like a Freak, the third book, is on my bookshelf to read at some point).

Death’s Daughter was good fun and had certain charm to it. I’m certainly going to try the next book in the series at some point (once I’ve cut a little bit more into my backlog).

The Book of Human Skin, while not a bad book, didn’t quite shine for me. I had a couple of niggles with it, mainly stemming from the book being made up of five first person accounts that seemed to be presented, at least in my reading of it, as written accounts. There’s nothing inherently wrong with the approach, but there are some oddities with it. The main one for me being that one character is a semi-literate valet from Venice. As semi-literate his account is full of phonetic spellings and misused words. Yet why would an account that would be supposedly originally written in Italian and then translated for the reader into English be full of English phonetic spellings? It’s also written with a tone of voice that invokes more the traditional portrayals of Victorian English lower class. So it just ends up creating a dissonance between what’s presented and what its supposed to be. Perhaps if I’d read it at a different time I would have enjoyed it more, I wouldn’t have noticed the oddities, or maybe I’d have noticed them and discarded them without a care.

…and more

I said those were books 50, 51 and 52, but I managed to slip in another book between them so they ended up being book 50, 52 and 53.

Book 54 of the year is Blaze by Richard Bachman/Stephen King and 55 is La Prisonneire by Malika Oufkir and Michelle Oufkir. Book 56 is a secret for the moment as it’s research for the next Vasini Chronicles novel.

Based on my current reading rate, I could end up hitting 58 books by the end of the year. Which means that the 293+ unread books on my shelves may get read in 5 years rather than the 5 1/2 years it was looking like was going to take.

Arrival

We went to see Arrival at the weekend. Really enjoyed it. I had been a little sceptical going in, but the movie sold itself to me.

Between this book…

The City Between the Books & The Bridge People has been out for two weeks now. If you haven’t had a chance to take a look at them, you can find the book for the low, low price of 99p on iBooks and Kindle.

The sample on iBooks is from The City Between the Books and the one on Amazon is from The Bridge People, so you can get a flavour of both stories.

And the next

As I write this section at 12.45pm on Monday 28 November (with Twin Peaks Episode 17 playing on the TV, should you be interested), Scrivener is telling me that I’m 95,397 words into the Vasini Chronicles II, which means that I ‘only’ have 44,603 left to write of the first draft (assuming I keep to my revised target).

The final book won’t be 140,000 words. It will be shedding many words in the early edits. Unfortunately, sometimes you have to write words to get to the words that will actually be in the book.

I seem to be picking up a little steam with it, but whether I’ll be able maintain my current rate remains to be seen. Either way, the hope (and I stress the hope) is to have a draft finished by the end of January. Wish me luck.