It’s been a summer of semi-solid writing for me. A little bit selfish on my part but worthwhile all the same and very enjoyable to boot. So I’d like to offer a quick apology to my on-line friends for not seeming to be around much over the last couple of months.
I’d also like to say a big thank-you to the continuing trickle of new readers and especially those who’ve taken extra time to post reviews for Firebird and Thunder. I’m really grateful for your encouragement.
So, how’s G’host coming along then? Well, I’m satisfied with what I’ve managed over these last few weeks. I’ve written around 15,000 words of draft which takes the base text to circa 45,000 words. Allowing for edit, that’s about 40% of my target length. Importantly, these 45,000 words are the opening and, for me, this always takes the longest. Once the scenes are set, the key characters are in place and the main threads are initiated, the writing tends to feel like it’s all downhill from there. That’s not to say the rest of the story will be easy. Or that I won’t get bogged down or blocked from time to time. It’s just that the start, for me, is always the longest part of the process. Perhaps that’s because I’m a future-thinker and in my head I can always see where I’m going more clearly than where I am right now? Perhaps this is just normal for writing? Who knows?
And, on the subject of downhill from here, I suppose I should also mention that I’ve just turned fifty … Long pause … I’m not quite sure how this milestone crept up on me, or how I feel about it, but my friends and family have done a fabulous job of making sure I didn’t just ignore it! I’d like to thank them all for not allowing me to follow my normal routines and let it pass by unnoticed.
So this is where I am. Fifty, not out … and still chipping happily away.
I’m back from my trip to Canada. The long journey was recompensed by lots of nice powder-snow, some bright sunshine, and news that the UK was colder – at times – than British Columbia! Have to admit: it is blooming chilly here… Roll on Spring!
I’ve noticed that, whilst I was away, both Firebird and Thunder have picked up some nice reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. I’m always very grateful for any words of support and encouragement, so thank-you to those who have taken time to write them! I really appreciate your support.
Am still storyboarding my next project which will be a return to a science-fantasy, action and adventure, theme. More news and updates shortly…
[Now then, where did I pack my woolly jumpers…???]
… Almost permanently wet.
It feels like only yesterday that I sat and drafted last year’s resume and here I am again: doing my annual audit and checking off what’s happened. It’s kind of scary how quickly this comes around – time flies past us at an alarming pace, doesn’t it?
So anyway, 2012 was a year of quite significant contrasts for me. Almost a “game of two halves”, if you’ll allow me to disabuse a soccer analogy…
For much of the year I was, effectively, unemployed. This is never a great place to be but I didn’t give up on finding gainful employment (of the type that pays well enough to cover the bills) and was lucky enough to land a new role this Autumn. That, on its own, would probably be achievement enough for one year but I have a few more:
- Garden fences painted (despite the perpetual rain)
- Garage woodwork stripped and painted (despite the perpetual rain)
- Loft boarded (because there’s only so much rain you can take…)
- Bedroom decorated (will it ever stop raining?)
- Olympic flame watched (in a brief gap in the deluge – lucky me!)
- Olympics cheered (along with 55 million other damp Brits)…
And, probably most importantly:
- Thunder written (12 hours a day until May, then left alone for three months, then edited alongside starting my new job – i.e. over a month of far too many hours a day)…
With Thunder, I’d set myself a personal goal to see if I could improve on some of Firebird’s flaws: I think I have. I’d also set myself a goal to publish in Autumn: I only just made it. So why push so hard? Why not just kick back, or give up, or not bother to set stretching goals?
Well, regular visitors will know that my year also included the unexpected and sudden loss of a friend. A friend from whom I’d drifted apart, but was on the verge of meeting up with. A meeting that circumstance kept delaying until, one day, he just didn’t come home from his holidays…
It’s shocking when something like this happens. Especially when death comes prematurely to someone only a handful of years older than me. But it serves to remind us that life is a short and fleeting gift. Time travels past us too quickly. The rain may never stop…
We have a choice as to what we do with the life we’re given: use it, or lose it. And I’m determined to try my best to grab every second I’m lucky enough to be gifted, and to wring the most I can out of every single one…
Here’s to 2013: another cycle, another raft of seconds, another chance to do crazy things, to laugh, to cry, to make merry, or hay, or just to have fun…
Happy New Year Everyone!
I’m back from Finland and am pleased to report that the small amount of swimming undertaken this year was done by choice, and not by accident. The main event of the week – Tomato Carnival – was… interesting. I’ve included a picture, so you can see that I’m not making it up! To be honest, it seemed like it was a good excuse for a big party, with all of the town invited, much drinking, much dancing and some very long hangovers… So, all in all, it seemed to me like a very good thing to do at least once per year! Thanks to everyone I met while I was there. You always make me feel so very welcome.
Unfortunately, it’s also raining over there – 2012 is providing an equally miserable summer across the Nordic countries – but at least that meant I was able to have a serious crack at the 3D artwork for Thunder’s cover.
I think I might be starting to slowly get the hang of three dimensional rendering. The new book’s icon is built up of a half-dozen separate components, each individually drawn, and then rendered into 3D and assembled into one composite. The overall design follows Firebird’s template for continuity. The icon is designed to draw upon various elements from the storyline.
So, after countless iterations of size, shade, finish, angle and lighting, I think this is the version I’m happiest with.
I’d love to hear what you think about it!
Okay then… Here goes… This is the draft blurb for Thunder.
It took me about twenty different attempts to put Firebird’s Blurb together (a.k.a. Product Description, Back Cover, etc…). I’m hoping I’ve done a better job this time around, but I’d really appreciate hearing what other people think about it.
Thunder will be categorised as Action & Adventure / Technothriller.
Any feedback or comments would be very much appreciated!
Mine is a love story, written in blood.
A tale of an ordinary life, destroyed in the same white-hot furnace of fire and metal that snatched away everything I ever wanted, that stole everyone I loved, that scorched my soul and then forged me into something new.
I am changed, alone, and in pain – with no friends, no allies, and no-one I can trust.
People call me Nick Tonner, but I don’t care much for names. Some might say I’m a hero. Some might say I’m no better than those I despise. Call me what you will, because it doesn’t matter to me.
I have nothing left to lose, and only one thing left to live for…
I want you.
I suppose all writers must, from time to time, find themselves in the same place as I am at the moment. Writing, after all, is not dissimilar to any other professional or artistic endeavour. Practice, exercise, and experience all lend new insights and provide the opportunity to improve and become better.
Writing a second novel has certainly helped me to gain a new perspective on what I’ve written in the past. Well, I say that, but I’ve also recently had some very useful input and pointers from a fellow author, blogger, and distant friend: J.E.Lowder. (Thanks, Jay!)
Over the last week or so, whilst I wait for my Alpha Readers to work their way through Thunder, I’ve been revisiting Firebird. Not just because of the ‘British Typography’ issues which needed to be corrected, but also because the current edition of Firebird now falls short of my own, personal, expectations. Here are a couple of recent discoveries – maybe you already know about them, maybe not – I thought they were interesting enough to share on here:
1. Purist that I am, somewhen during Firebird’s many edits, I got bound up in my punctuation. I laid out Firebird using a formal, almost classical, style which employs very few commas. Technically, this isn’t wrong. But it doesn’t really suit a ‘casual’ storyline.
Most modern fiction is set out using – perhaps overusing – commas to provide staging points for the eye. For instance it it not mandatory, as some would believe, for either of the two connecting words ‘and’ or ‘but’ to be prefaced by a comma. To some extent, these commas are frowned upon – for exactly the same reasons as it is ‘not preferred’ to begin sentences with either word – but the result can often be long, unbroken, sentences which provide no easy reference point for back-tracking and re-reading. As an aside, the one before an ‘and’ is called a Serial or Oxford Comma.
2. In an attempt to avoid word repetition – which is a pet hate of mine – I did two things:
– I occasionally used overly complex alternative words which, when combined with the formal punctuation, run the risk of coming across as ‘trying to be too clever’…
– Worse, I used first and second names to refer to the characters throughout. This, interestingly, seems to have several unexpected side-effects: it forces readers to focus harder than necessary on getting to know the characters when the book is mainly plot-driven; it makes the book harder to read – see above comment re: casual storyline; and finally, the use of first names – outside of dialogue – seems to impose a deeper level of implied intimacy, between reader and character, than a reader might want.
Anyway, re-editing the manuscript has been an interesting exercise. I’m almost finished and will republish it soon. Unfortunately, there’s not much I can do about the several thousand copies that are already floating around in the electronic-ether, except to apologise for making the book a little harder to read than it perhaps needed to be, and to say thank-you again to everyone who has read it so far.
Hopefully future readers will find they have an easier time…
… can really make a difference.
When, a few weeks ago, a Canadian authoress contacted me (on this Blog Site) and said that she’d just bought a copy of Firebird I thought to myself… ‘Cool, maybe I’ve finally got the blurb right?’
Then I discovered that she didn’t usually read thrillers… (‘Uh oh…!’)
Then I discovered she intended to do a full review and post it to her personal book review websites… (‘……!!’)
It’s probably worth me sharing that I have some personal rules that I’m trying to stay true to even though, commercially, they may be a bit foolish. At some point I might share them all but a couple are relevant here:
- I will always try my hardest not to ‘check in’ with anyone who I know (or suspect) is in the middle of reading one of my books (this is really hard, especially if they are family!). My reason: books are a very personal thing and I don’t want to get drawn into the middle of that relationship.
- I will not participate in “read-for-review” or “read-for-ratings” fads that I sometimes come across in the on-line eBook communities. My reason: if people feel genuinely motivated to write something, they will – in their own style and hand – and those reviews and comments (whatever they say) will always be worth so much more to me as a writer.
Anyway, Ms.Budden is nothing if not an enthusiastic emailer (and a very friendly one, by all accounts) and so I have been drip fed a somewhat alarming commentary of sleepless nights, terrifying visions and of a reader suddenly well outside of their normal reading zone… (‘Oops… I’m fairly sure it’s in the right genres…!’)
And now she’s published her reviews…
Thank-you Norma… Your feedback just made fifteen years of effort feel like it was worthwhile.
Norma’s Firebird discussion page (with my mugshot in the middle of it, which is enough to put anyone off…!)