How long has it been?

Hello, all. I hope you’re keeping well.

I started writing a post back in April, but for several reasons never got to post it. I tried again in July, but it still didn’t happen. So now, in September, I’ve salvaged some of what I originally wrote and put together a short update on where I’m at with a couple of things.

When I was writing the original post back in April, it was our seventh(?) week of being housebound. In many ways, not much changed. My day job means that I work from home on a regular basis. Tackling childcare while working proved a challenge, but rather than deal with the stress and put my daughter through the nonsense of her parents working while she wanted our attention, thankfully we were in a position where I could take some parental leave which made things easier.

Of course, tackling all of this, living in a situation so disrupted from the norm did mean that other aspects of life were getting disrupted. There was less time to read. At times, less inclination to write as my mind was full of processing what was (and still is) going on and working out how best to get our next load of shopping. But things moved along, just more slowly. Sometimes very slowly. Yet, with any situation you acclimatise to the new norm. Things started to speed up. I found the gaps in my day that allowed me to read a bit more and, as you’ll see later, I’ve even managed to write and, more importantly, edit.

It’s been great to be able to have my family around me more though. So much time can be lost not just to work, but to getting to and from work. And there are a couple of things that the disruption has let me do thanks to my daughter settling down earlier at night and not having to get everyone up at 5am in the morning so they can get out of the house in time to head to work and nursery. The main one was getting the chance to play Dungeons and Dragons for the first time in a decade.

Yes, I could probably have written more, but, truth be told, my mind, for the first few months, wasn’t in a place where it could concentrate for that long, too many distractions in the real world. One shot D&D games though were just plain fun. Limited thinking required, just focused on enjoying some time with friends and acquaintances with no pressure. To be honest with you, the release from what was going on probably allowed me to go on and do the writing I did do.

The Cities Beyond the Signal

I’m getting close to putting the finishing touches to the novella I’ve been working on under the title of The Signal (now called The Cities Beyond the Signal), the sequel to the novelette The City Between the Books.

That means I should, fingers crossed, have some news soonish about when it will actually appear in the world.

The Theatre of Shadows: The Vasini Chronicles II

Although The Cities Beyond the Signal will be released before the next Vasini Chronicles book, much of what time I’ve managed to get to write over the past few months has actually been spent on The Theatre of Shadows. Things are progressing well, there’s still work to be done, but it’s getting closer and closer to being ready.

Tales From Vasini III

I’ve actually managed to finish the first draft of one of the novellas that will make up Tales From Vasini III.

It needs work, and I still have the two other novellas that I need to write to go with it, but it’s a start.

Reading

I’ve already hit my Goodreads goal for the year of reading 48 books. It was mainly thanks to having bought the entire main series of The Walking Dead graphic novels via Humble Bundle. I managed to get through the two-thirds of the series I had yet to read thanks to not being able to concentrate on anything too text heavy.

Blogging

With the release The Cities Beyond the Signal on the horizon, expect me to start blogging a little more frequently over the coming weeks. Whether it will turn into a more frequent think in the longer term remains to be seen.

Anyway, keep safe and well. Wash your hands (do you remember when the advice was just wash your hands properly?), wear a mask, keep two meters apart and stay inside as much as you can.

Outlines and Edits II: More Outlines, More Edits

Phew. I managed to blog this time. It was kind of inevitable that I was going to miss a blog after setting myself a blogging schedule, but I’d hoped it wouldn’t be so early in the year and only after four posts.

Oh dear.

Anyway…where was I…

Ah, yes…I was editing a supernatural noir and outlining The Vasini Chronicles III and Tales From Vasini III. 

I still am, although very close to finishing both.

On the supernatural noir side, I should finish editing the latest draft in the next week or two. I had thought I was a lot further in to the edit, but in the past couple of days, I’ve admitted to myself that I really need to cut back one character’s presence in the story. It’s going to be painful. I really like the character and in many ways they bring a great additional perspective on the story. The problem is they’re not who the story is about and as interesting as that perspective can be, it isn’t essential and just gets in the way at a vital part of the story. They won’t disappear completely, but they won’t be playing quite as prominent role in the later stages of the novel. Once I’ve recovered from that I’ll be switching my attention to editing The Theatre of Shadows: The Vasini Chronicles II. 

The rough outlines for all three of the Tales From Vasini III novellas and The Vasini Chronicles III are done. I’m mostly finished with the more in-depth outlining of the first novella in an attempt to avoid any notes that just say ‘They find a clue’. Once that’s done, I’ll start writing. The outlines for the other novellas and The Vasini Chronicles III will get a little more work on them as I write and get a better grasp on the first novella.

Until next time.

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.

Outlines and edits

Woo’hoo. I remembered to blog before the automatic “I didn’t get round to blogging” message went up.

Outlining on The Vasini Chronicles III and Tales From Vasini III continues, as does editing the supernatural noir novel. It’s kind of relaxing not working on a first draft at the moment, having some time away from the daily press to fill white space with coherent sentences. Instead I’m collecting together and structuring random thoughts and working with words that have already been written.

At the moment, outlining consists of getting all of my initial thoughts and all the scenes and random bits I know I want to do in the story down onto index cards and then working out how they all link together. After that it will be structuring it properly and fleshing it out. Hopefully, this time I’ll remember not to stick future me with the oh-so helpful note of “They find a clue”. Seriously, past me can be annoying. What clue are they supposed to find? Tell me past, Chris. Tell me.

I’m not a slavish outliner, I like to be able to explore the characters and story as I write and see what comes from it. But it is useful to have a rough outline as a prompt for that exploration, to make sure I know in which direction I’m ultimately heading and in what the next step in that direction is should I get lost.

On the editing side, as I’ve said before, I’m enjoying being back in the world of my supernatural noir and with its characters so much. It feels comfortable and although I know the story so well now, I still get excited by it.

Anyway, let’s see if I manage to beat the automatic “I didn’t get round to blogging” message on 31 January.

I’m heading this way

Happy New Year.

We’ve crossed that arbitrary line in the temporal sands once more. Time to stop contemplating the past twelve months and to start planning for the coming year. So here’s my annual To Do List. Much of it is the same as last year’s, but with the cunning twist that some more of it might get finished by 31 December this year. Here’s hoping at least.

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

This is the top priority for the year. It’s currently sat in a virtual draw while others read it. Maybe around February, I’ll take it out and start work on the next draft. I’ll then push through so it’s in a point to publish in the second half of the year. All being well.

Edit a novella.

This is The Signal (working title), the sequel to the novelette The City Between the Books. I hope to get around to editing this just before I start back on The Theatre of Shadows. Given its shorter length compared to everything else – around 44,000 words – it shouldn’t take as long to edit it to the point where it can be published.

Edit Tales From Vasini II.

The two stories that will make up Tales From Vasini II have a (current) combined length of about 64,000 words. The plan is to start editing this while working on the next draft of The Theatre of Shadows. We’ll see how long that plan lasts. Should the plan go better than planned (unlikely given the nature of plans), the stretch goal would be to publish it by the end of the year. I suspect, in truth, it will be 2020 before it’s published.

Write The Vasini Chronicles III.

Come tomorrow, I’ll start work in earnest on outlining the third Vasini Chronicles book in more depth. When I start writing the first draft proper will depend on what happens with the next thing on my To Do List.

Write Tales From Vasini III.

I believe this will be three stories set in the lead up to The Vasini Chronicles III. I’ll be outlining them in depth alongside The Vasini Chronicles III and then I’ll launch into writing the first draft.

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

This is the third To Do List this has appeared on. The difference this year is that I’m working on it and will be until I pick up The Theatre of Shadows again. I’m hoping (there’s a lot of hope in this To Do List) to get the next draft completed in that time and then I may be in a better position to think about how and when I’ll publish it.

Read at least 48 books and cut down my backlog of unread books to less than 270.

I’d expected to read only 36 books last year and ended up reading 60. I’m not convinced I’ll hit 60 books again (especially given the list of things to do this year), but 48 seems reasonable (although, as always, it will depend on the length). Given that my continued aim is to cut down my backlog of unread books (currently 314 books) – always a challenge given it keeps on getting topped up with new books – I’m also hoping (there’s that word again) to reduce the backlog to less than 270. That means to achieve both parts, I’ll have to read at least 45 books that are already on my bookshelf and only buy three new books.

Last year saw me write my first review on Goodreads. Although, I’m not going to make it habit, I will try to write a few more reviews this year.

Blog more

I managed to write a grand total of six blog posts last year, most of which were updates on my 2018 To Do List. I’m not the most prolific blog writer, but that was pretty rubbish. So I’m going to try to blog a little more often. I’ve set myself a little timetable that should mean I’ll post at least once every two weeks. To try to make me keep to this, I’ve started to write a number of holding posts that will be set to go out automatically as a threat to myself to write the proper posts. Let’s see if it works.

 

So that’s the plan for the year. But lets not call it a plan. As I try to remember, plans never work. Plans can be too binding, make you think you have to do things in a particular way and to a particular timetable, and make what you have achieved seem like a failure just because it wasn’t in the plan. Better to have a direction of travel, something that allows for changes and for detours, for side quests and unexpected challenges. So let’s say this is the direction I’m heading in, and I’ll get there given the right amount of time.

Anyway, all the best for your next set of 365 days.

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.

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.