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Three Years Later…

Firebird Front Cover (v5)And still learning.

When I published Firebird, in May 2011, I wasn’t sure what would happen. At the time I was simply bored of playing the traditional submissions-lottery with a book that was never intended to conform.

You see, there are no youthful wizards in Firebird.  Nor any tribal wars fought by teenagers.  There are no vampires, zombies or tortured Scandinavian policemen.  I deliberately set out to avoid convention and can imagine the reaction of the publishing houses when Firebird hit their desks: “Nope,” they would have been muttering, grimly shaking their heads, “this book’s not the same enough for us…”

Three amazing years later, I’m pleased I took the plunge.  I’m pleased that I released this tale of one extraordinary creature, and a handful of very ordinary humans, from its years of enforced incarceration on my hard disk drive.  Why?  Because there are clearly a great many readers who, like me, are on the lookout for something different.  Who enjoy change.  Who don’t mind if the next page is not as entirely predictable as the last.

So here I am: three years on, with two novels in circulation, both of which continue to be picked up by adventurous bookworms.  I always have and shall remain eternally grateful to everyone who dips into my writing.

Would Firebird look different if I wrote it again today?  The answer to that question is a resounding, yes.  There isn’t a single day that goes by when I don’t discover a new nuance of language, a new word, or a new technique I might be able to apply.  Would Firebird be any better if I rewrote it?  I doubt it.   There comes a time when too much tinkering destroys raw accessibility.  As far as I’m concerned, Firebird’s a done deal now.

Besides: I’ve got too many new stories to tell and, who knows, with the amount of spare time I have for writing, I might even finish one of them by the time Firebird is six…

Thunder: A Brief Editorial Update

I know… I know…!

I was a little ambitious with my timeline for Thunder…

This post is a short update to let you know that I’m about halfway through my final edit and I suspect it will be a few more weeks before the book is finally ready for publication.

Why is it taking so long?  Well, firstly, it was really important that I let the book settle for a few months before coming back to it.  Being able to read with a “fresh pair of eyes”, has helped me to see that the front end needed quite a lot of fine tuning to improve flow and consistency.

With hindsight that’s understandable, I suppose.  Even though Thunder was written over a few months, as an almost full time activity, the opening sections didn’t quite fully understand the final richness of the characters when they were written.  Neither, despite working to a comprehensive storyboard, was all of the fine detail of the story fully fleshed out.

Proof readers haven’t complained.  But I noticed that any comments were clustered into this area of the text.

The main delay, however, has been that I’m back to having to write part-time and have to find slots in my day where I’m not too tired, or grumpy, to concentrate as much as is needed for this somewhat onerous – yet at the same time strangely enjoyable – task.

Anyway, I’m past the 50,000 word point and corrections are becoming fewer and farther between – though I’m still finding the occasional apostrophical goof here and there!

Time for me to get back to it…

[NB1: Apostrophical: A British English, Warwickshire County, made up word meaning: the description of an author’s doomsday-like feelings when discovering that a possessive apostrophe has snuck, unbidden, to the wrong side of a pluralising ‘s’]

[NB2: Pluralising: also a made-up word… meaning: not enough time to concentrate properly on a post…]

Time To Go…

…somewhere else.

Summer, for what it’s been worth, is already showing signs of its inevitable fade toward Autumn.  There’s a slight chill in the air, fresh dew on the morning grass, and a noticeable shortening of the days.  I think I’ve made the best of what little warmth there’s been in the UK these last few months, but need to get a few days of reliably good weather before Winter returns.

It’s time, therefore, to go travelling.

Holidays aren’t an unproductive time for me.  I’m not very good at doing nothing.  Last year, my holiday netted several thousand words of base-drafting for Thunder and I’m hoping this year will be similarly fruitful.

Thunder itself is still with various proofreaders, and I’m continuing to leave it alone.  When I get back, I will aggregate all of the comments and observations I’ve received, and then do my own – hopefully final – front-to-back read through.  Based on current feedback, this should be little more than a fine tuning exercise.  Release is therefore still on track for early Autumn.

For a few months, after I’d finished Thunder, my muse seemed to vanish – presumably hitting its own beach somewhere in muse-land.  Whilst I knew what the next book would be about, knew the main storyline and the lead characters, nothing was happening in my head.  I suspect I was just written-out and needed to rest for a while.

Now, I’m pleased to report, that all sorts of interesting – and sometimes not so interesting – ideas are popping up.  Many will not make it to the story, some will get mashed-together, some will get flipped; all together, they auger well that a slab of drafting will get done whilst I’m away.

Fingers crossed!

Have fun, keep safe, and enjoy the next few weeks.

To Blog, Or Not to Blog, That Is The Question…

First off: apologies to the esteemed Mr. Shakespeare who has probably just spun a merry pirouette in his grave…  Alas, poor Yorick!  I couldn’t help myself, Horatio…

Okay.  Enough of that…

On my daily travels around blog land – which are an occasionally-disciplined meandering; motivated by my desire to support fellow authors, an interest in other like-minds, and my genuine belief that there is much that we can learn from one another – I come across all kinds of blog strategy.  They range from “post, post, post,” to “once in a blue moon.”  Personally, I don’t mind either, providing the content is interesting and, for me at least, that’s the rub.

My strategy has always been to post only when I feel I’ve got something to talk about and I try to treat posts as being a “shop window” onto my imagination.  This means that I follow a similar, if shortened, process to the one I use for my books, namely: draft, leave alone for a few hours, review/edit, leave alone, review/edit, etcetera, then finally, post.  A side-effect of this is that posts are not quite realtime, but I’m of the opinion that timing is less important than inadvertently undermining my, albeit embryonic, brand as a writer.

Of course, I’d agree that blogs should always be something of a personal ledger, a lighthearted collection of random thought-fragments and ideas, and they should provide an insight into personality and general Weltanschauung.  They will, most often, be light-touch and will likely play host to the requisite population of mischievous typos.  After all, we’re only human, and the next major manuscript is probably crying out for its rightful attention.  But, nonetheless, I would still advocate a careful approach to all publication, especially for authors.

Perhaps this is wrong?  Perhaps I should worry less and post more?  I’d be interested to hear what other people think on this subject.  Especially given that I know – and respect – how successful and popular many of your own blog sites are…

[p.s. On the off-chance that Mr. Barker (whoever you are) is passing through here: I’d just like to say a quick thank-you for your recent review of Firebird on the US Amazon site.  For the record: I do read, and appreciate, every piece of feedback.  I am very grateful that you took the time to share your thoughts and I was deeply touched by your kindness.]

[p.p.s. The use of question marks?  Hmmm, perhaps you’re right?  I’ll have a think about it…  :)  ]

Back to the Grindstone?

I’ve finally recovered from New Year – I think – and my house seems larger again now that the decorations are down.  Incredibly, I’ve even packed all of the Christmas ornaments into their boxes and put them up into the loft!  I confess: one year I got distracted during this process and they ended up sitting around in my spare room… for a whole twelve months… but I’m not like that any more, honest.

Anyway, here we are then, venturing into 2012.  Some people say that these next couple of months are the “dark” ones but I don’t mind this time of year.  The days are getting longer – albeit slowly – and there’s all the promise of Spring and Summer to look forward to.  For me, these “dark” months, when the weather tends to keep me trapped inside, are a good time for pushing on.  A good time for getting jobs done and things out of the way.  For having a “run at” the year.

Which reminds me, I also need to get cracking with my ski-fitness programme.  Ten days of blasting around in Colorado powder beckon, like a shining beacon of fun, in the near-distance. The problem is though, if I don’t do some work to get myself into shape, it’ll more likely be one day of blasting and then nine days of feeble excuse mongering as I limp around with my muscles set rigidly in a “you’re not doing any more of that” position.

So, come on then January…  hand me that grindstone because right now is the perfect time for sharpening up!

(Right, I know there’s a stepper somewhere in this spare room…  Perhaps it’s underneath those halloween outfits?)

Hey! My little ghostlie’s made the final…

I’m amazed…  The Mistress of the Dark Path’s Halloween short story competition was a raging success.  She got ten great entries which really demonstrated the expanse and range of creative writing skills which are bubbling away within the Indie Writer community (well, nine of them did at least).

I wouldn’t have liked to be the one who had to thin it down to just four…

The following link will take you to the final four short stories in all of their brief but eclectic glory.  Please pop along and have look for a couple of minutes, the various authors will doubtless be really grateful (and maybe you’ll find a new writer to keep an eye out for?)…  If you want to vote then please vote for your favourite (I promise I won’t send the Firebird round after you (and you’re safe anyway: because it’s out shopping somewhere at the moment – I know this because my credit card’s gone missing (again))…

Halloween Short Story Finalists & Public Vote

Hurry! Voting ends at midnight on Monday 31st October…  whhhoooo…!

In a dark place…

That’s where I am right now…  Surrounded by demons.

It’s okay though; I often find myself here and, if I’m honest, sometimes I quite enjoy it.

The tricky thing is finding my way back out again…

It can’t be helped; the twists and turns of life, combined with a cursedly overactive imagination, can at times conjure up bleak and bitter landscapes, in every direction, as far as my mind’s eye can see.

So I need to remember that this is not reality; the pessimism and negativity that I’m weaving around myself is just another fiction.  Life is much more balanced and generally very kind.  It randomly produce all sorts of unexpectedly pleasant gifts and surprises…

I just have to make sure I look out for these little breadcrumbs.

Recognise them, when they happen.

And follow them out of here…

(Now listen you guys, how am I supposed to write with you lot dementedly chattering at me…? Oh and you, yes you, the one with the eyes like blazing coals and teeth like razored switchblades… mmmm, you…, stop it.  That’s no way to behave in public…)

My gang is bigger than yours…

A week of stark and bitter contrasts:

  • One one hand; unbelievable generosity of spirit and community – to the point of tragic sacrifice.
  • On the other; unbelievable selfishness and petty greed – to no point whatsoever.

I know which camp I stand in.  I know which camp will prevail.  I know which camp makes the best of life, enjoys the benefits of this gift of existence, feels true satisfaction and lasting happiness…

The immediate positive response to the riots, by the vast majority of true British citizens – young and old – of every creed and colour – has reminded us of the importance of standing together.  Reminded us of how giving a little, pays back in spades.  Indeed it seems to me that the “new Brits” are leading this, bringing elements of distant cultures into our own and helping us to become even stronger as a nation.

As for the thugs, they have inadvertently reminded us that when we group together we have tremendous power and, in our case, an amazing capacity for good.  Our gang is not just bigger than theirs, it’s better in every possible way.

My heart goes out to the bereaved families and friends of the victims of the violence.  I am so very sorry for your loss…  It’s probably scant comfort but I for one believe that your loved ones have made a difference.  By standing up for what they hold dear their actions have made the world a fractionally better place.  And that’s a lot more than most of us will ever achieve.

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