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Playstation Warning!

Well, I do like to keep myself busy …

It’s been quite a year, even by my reckoning: I’ve moved house, got engaged, changed jobs, fixed a fence, changed a roof, written a few thousand words, got a PS4, made L40 on Destiny and – to top it all – got married.

What I sadly haven’t done is blog, market, comment on friends sites (though I am still keeping an eye on you all!) or get quite as much of G’host written as I’d have liked.  Hopefully that will change in 2016 as my activities this year have actually simplified an otherwise very complex lifestyle.

G’host is coming along nicely, and the extra thinking time is helping to hone characters, develop plot lines and tune technical connections.  But writing full length novels is a mammoth task and, to stay true to my three main principles for writing, I need to make sure I’m enjoying what I do, when I’m doing it.  There’s no point otherwise.

As I love writing, there’s no doubt that G’host will creep closer to completion next year … the only risk is if the PS4 takes over!

Merry Christmas everyone …

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What’s in a Name?

Apologies for a lack of posts recently.  I’ve been concentrating on G’host for the last few weeks.

I find that summer is a productive time for my writing, especially during my holidays, so now is the time of year that I like to concentrate on getting as much as I can done, away from the normal distractions of work.

Anyone that’s written any lengthy piece will understand that keeping across the detail and content of a long document is a hard task on its own.  To help with this, especially when only being able to find time to write every few days, I use two separate supporting documents: a character biography and an executive summary.

The character bio is a spreadsheet with the character names across the columns and various facets of the character down the rows.  Facets include physical characteristics such as eye and hair colour but also include character, background, role and plot points.

The executive summary is a simple word table.  Each section of text is summarised into a few key bullet points and as I don’t generally try to write stories from front to back any more, the exec summary comes in very useful when I’m shuffling fragments into their final running order. It also enables me to more quickly get my mind back to where it was when I last finished tinkering.

Anyway, to the subject of this particular meandering post, I’ve just renamed one of the lead characters in G’host.  Bearing in mind that I’ve been contemplating this story for many years and actually chipping away at it for two, this is something of a big deal.  Well, for me at least!

It’s the right call though.  Both main body text and character bio did not “look” right.  I’d been searching and searching for an alternative and, to some extent, it had been stopping me from getting on with the writing.  But, I should have known better.  One moment, out of the blue, the answer just appeared in my head.  The new name works much better and, with a little bit of “find and replace” magic, the new name has now peppered itself across the manuscript.

The lesson: it’s amazing what the right name can do for a character.  So don’t be afraid to experiment with different ones if you need to!

Finally, thank-you to the readers who’ve recently posted reviews for Firebird and Thunder. Your kind words are, as always, greatly appreciated.

‘Tis The Season…

To be … whatever you want to be!

Merry Christmas

❄❄❄ Merry Christmas! ❄❄❄

And on that basis, here’s a quick update on what’s been happening in my busy world over the last few weeks.

First off, I’ve managed to find a few fragments of time and done some more work on G’host.  Admittedly, not as much as I’d have liked, but some all the same.  I’m pleased about that, but also slightly disappointed that I’m not going to be able to post a scene from it, here, as a tribute for the holidays.

The scene I am working on suits the season very well and my idea to use it as a post is what inspired me to get back to the keyboard.  Unfortunately, inspiration can only get you so far, and tiredness from several months of long work days doesn’t facilitate good prose.  So the scene is coming along but is, sad to say, nowhere near ready enough for a public airing.

It is, however, nice to report that I’ve had some more, very nice, positive feedback from a number of readers over the last month.  This is always a real joy.  Thanks to anyone who’s ever offered encouragement to any writer: dark days haunt more than just winter months…

I could blather on about restarting my ski-fit regime in readiness for heading for the slopes next year, or about finally sorting my kitchen out after six years of putting up with randomly painted duck-egg blue walls but, as you can tell, it’s not exactly rock and roll news, and so I’m not going to waste any more of your precious seconds in the countdown to the big day…!

Rather, I’ll close by saying: to any stranger who happens past, and to all of my kind and wonderful friends, I wish you all a joyful Christmas and prosperous New Year.

See you in 2014…!

Chipping Away…

Summer holidays seem like a far distant memory already.  My day-job has been mad-crazy busy since the moment I returned to work and seems hell-bent on consuming every fragment of brain space I have available.  As a result, when I get home in the evenings, and even over the weekends, I’m exhausted.

Writing, for me at least, is not just about stringing together the first words that come into my head.  Nor just pumping out scene after scene on the basis they’re what I thought of next. For me, writing is something more like an enormously complex collage or jigsaw puzzle. Sections of text can be written, then carefully positioned, augmented, trimmed and shaped so that the whole becomes more than the sum of its parts.  Whether or not I’m any good at that is a matter of debate: most often between my various alter-egos and sometimes between my reviewers.  But the bottom line is that: I’m not going to rush my writing.

Anyway, despite my tiredness, I am still chipping away in the background on G’host.  I’ve added a few thousand words – mostly character and world introductions – and will keep at it through November whilst I try valiantly to ignore the annual roar of speed-written enthusiasm that NaNoWriMo will no doubt spawn across the on-line writing communities…

Back; Not Necessarily…

… in the land of the living.

Yes: I’m back from my holidays.  For the record, I only had a couple of cheap weeks on the beach and returned a while ago to the usual chaotic crash-dive of return-to-work-related issues.  To be honest, I feel like I need another break already!

But enough of that.  My holiday did exactly what I needed it to.  It cleared my head and, sitting on the beach, a little bit every day, I’ve somehow, amazingly, drafted over 25,000 words of my next story.

Being straight with you, I’m under no illusions that many of these draftings will end up in the recycle bin.  Equally, many sections will require considerable, relatively easy, expansions when I start pulling it all together into a comprehensive whole.

When I get some time, I’ll pull together a graphic like I did for Thunder, to illustrate progress. I have no idea whether any of my visitors find this useful but, hey ho, it does serve as a bit of self-stimulus to make sure I keep putting in the writing hours!

Anyway, I suppose I ought to get back to the somewhat abstract title of this post: it’s a veiled reference to the subject matter of the new novel.  I’m not going to reveal too much yet, but I can say that I’ve settled on the title…

The next book will be called G’host.

The Wild Blue, Yonder…

Time for me to vanish for a while.

For many months I’ve been wrestling with good and bad spirits, and now it’s time for me to put some dedicated effort into ensnaring them; in black and white.

I’m hopeful that a stretch of golden sand, some warm weather, blue skies and crashing surf will provide a suitably undisturbed backdrop for my notepads and meditations.

So wish me luck and see you soon…  :)  AB

That’s it, I’ve started…

Well my trip to Finland was, once again, extremely restful.  Except for the journey home where, somehow, I managed to damage my lower back on the way to the airport.  Eight hours of transit and tight connections later; I couldn’t even stand upright unassisted!  Ouch …

My doctor says, “Things like this happen, as you get older…”

Thanks, Doc.  That makes me feel much better…

Anyway, I’m pleased to report that I’ve made a start on the new novel and the opening pages – assuming I don’t shuffle things as I go – have been drafted.  Openings are vital for any piece of writing, particularly novels.  They need to drag readers in by the eyeballs and may, in the end, determine the entire success or otherwise of a story.  As a result, I try not to be too precious about the opening pages.  If I get a better idea later, I’ll swap stuff out.  Looking back, Firebird hasn’t got a ‘bad’ start but I think Thunder’s is better.  For me, I’m looking to stir up shock, confusion and to create intrigue from the get-go – although I don’t deliberately sit down and try to force this to happen – and recently I’ve been to paying more attention to missing things out, rather than putting them in…  In other words, I’ve noticed that a little deft cutting sometimes adds more value than a hundred extra words…

On another subject entirely, I noticed yesterday that Amazon have adjusted their pricing regimes again.  As a result, I’ve been able to reset Thunder’s pricing so that it’s a little bit lower than it’s been since publication.  Other authors might also want to check out the pricing policies in detail.  Certain country price points are lower than the US which, thanks to Amazon’s global price-matching rules, means that there’s a little bit of headroom to offer better deals for your readers (and for us to still get a few cents to contribute toward our next computer upgrades!).

Right, it’s time for me to go and enjoy the, highly unusual and probably short-lived, British sunshine…!

Tomato Time…

Yes, it’s almost time for my annual pilgrimage to Finland and I’m looking forward to meeting up with friends and family over there.

This year’s visit is timed to coincide with the local town’s Tomato Carnival which celebrates the community’s agricultural cornerstone of… you guessed it… tomatoes.  Blog regulars will be familiar with this concept and there are even a couple of photos in here somewhere.

It’s always fascinating for me to have chance to visit, what is for me, a completely different lifestyle: almost a different world.  Where noise consists mainly of the sounds of wildlife, where affluence is having fresh food and a good fire, where happiness blossoms from simple social interaction and rich conversation.  The Finns do always make me feel so very welcome.

Work has been, what can only be described as, “mental” for these last few weeks and, whilst this has been going on, I’ve only been able to find enough moments to continue to develop the story-lines, content, and characters for the next novel.  As a result, I’m also looking forward to getting some solid writing time whilst I’m away.  I’m really itching to start drafting; whole passages are queuing up in my head and bursting to get out!  And I might even have finally settled on the book’s title, but I’m not quite ready to share that, yet…

Firebird and Thunder continue to tick over gently, which is a real delight, and I’ve even received some nice encouragement from readers recently.  So, wish me luck: it’s time to get Book Three started…!

From Snow to Snow…

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…???]

Who’s that, hiding under all those blankets…?

That’ll be me…

Yes, I’m back from my holidays.  Two weeks of unbroken sunshine, twenty-eight degree heat (Celsius, of course), and a nice constant breeze.  Perfect for someone like me, who only has two skin colours: red and white.

I went back to the Canary Islands this year – a crazy collection of Atlantic-bound rocks, located just off the western shores of Africa, and dominated by volcanic landscapes and often whacky architecture.  We selected it as good weather is almost always guaranteed, all year round, and importantly because for Europeans it’s an affordable destination.  As holidays go, it wasn’t the cultural delight of last year, but nonetheless it was good to chill-ax for a while.

It was a bit of an odd couple of weeks from a creative perspective.  Compared to last year, not much drafting got done – I guess because I’m still working on the characters and storyboard for book three – but I did (unexpectedly) end up writing a possible first few pages for Thunder’s sequel (where did they come from!), come up with some nice plot-line components for the next novel, and even added some flesh to my outlines for a possible Firebird sequel.  So, overall, I’m quite pleased with what I achieved.

So what’s next?  Well, it’s time to see if I can get Firebird onto the Apple iBookstore and, after that, I will revisit Thunder and start preparing for publication.  Lots to do!  I just need to top up my hot-water bottle, and then I’ll get started…

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