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Fifty, not out…

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.




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.

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…!

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…

On Yer Bike…

…Or the post also-known-as, Some Things Don’t Happen Every Day – Part Two.

I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, but something unusual is happening in the UK at the moment. No, I’m not talking about the orange-yellow, hot, glowing orb that has been peeking out, from time to time, from behind our more normally gunmetal-grey cloudscape.  No, I’m not even talking about the sudden rash of Union Jacks currently fluttering from any available stick or length of string.

No.  What I’m referring to is the sudden – and somewhat disconcerting – propensity for smiling.  I’ve never seen so many happy, talkative and friendly Brits before.

I was out on Saturday and took this picture so you can see what I mean…

What’s going on here then?

A few weeks ago, it was random runners with flaming torches.  Now, it’s brightly coloured bicycles, completely jamming up the highways, and hurtling around like there’s some sort of race on…?

What next, I wonder?

Any minute now, someone’ll be telling me we’re playing host to the Olympics and I can’t see that there’s much hope of us doing that…

For that, we’d need some real support: support of monarchs, princes, lords and ladies; support of parliaments and prime ministers; support of infrastructure providers, police, emergency services and, of course, the public…

For that, we’d need to be prepared to stand in the world’s spotlight and to be examined for all of our strengths and weaknesses: good and bad.

For that, we’d need to be confident in our eclectic – and often eccentric – culture, history and legacies: good and bad.

For that, we’d need to remember how to smile and be friendly to one another…

Good Luck to all the Olympians.

Your achievements are truly breathtaking.

And, of course…,


Some Things Don’t Happen Every Day…

Olympic Torch

Check out this picture…  Amazing, isn’t it…?  The sun is shining in Warwickshire!

I took this photo yesterday…  I’m not sure who the random strangers are in the foreground, and those brief minutes of glorious sunshine made carrying that flaming torch a bit of a redundant gesture. Nonetheless, it was nice of them to bring something along to brighten up the normal gloom.

So, there it was…  The UK Summer caught on camera… All fifteen minutes of it.

I’m bored of the British rain now.  So I’m going to go away for a few days, to see if I can find some Scandinavian rain instead.

I’m off on my annual pilgrimage to Finland.  Not for Midsummer this time.  No, this year the visit is carefully timed to coincide with the local Tomato Carnival…

Hmmm, it feels strange even just typing it…

Anyway, as a result, my next post is likely to be cram-packed full of the latest fruit news (or ‘vegetable news’ depending on your personal tomato-bias).  I’ll bet you can’t wait and I’ll have to make sure I post something when I get back – and as soon as I’ve eventually sobered up again.

What’s the betting that the weather turns lovely whilst I’m away?

[p.s. Note to self: try not to fall out of any boats this year.]

[p.p.s. Congratulations to all of the Olympic Torch Bearers and to the Relay organisers.  It was great to see everyone out on the streets and enjoying themselves. Here’s to a successful, though doubtless damp, Olympic Games!]

Time Warp…?

I must have been through one…

Spring has been cancelled and the UK has jumped straight into mid-summer.  Not that I’m complaining.  Cloudless blue skies always bring out the smiles, the good spirits and stimulate a mad rush to dig out shorts and t-shirts from the back of the wardrobe.

Yep, I’ve even found mine…

Thunder’s draft is also, at the moment, at a point in time somewhere toward the end of March.  This is an unexpected coincidence and the current, exceptional, heatwave is making it tricky to write about what should be the usual chills and morning frosts.

Nonetheless, good progress is being made and my word count has now crept above the 70,000 mark.  This is broadly in line with where I think I should be according to the end-to-end plot line that I’m working to but I strongly suspect this novel will now end up being slightly longer than Firebird is.

Probably like every other British citizen, I’m optimistically hoping that these weeks of warm sunshine are not the entire quota for Summer 2012.  If my writing progress continues at the current pace,  I’ll soon be diving into scenes describing hot and dusty lands, with baking dry heat and my two main characters embroiled in a seemingly unwinnable fight for their lives.

It’ll be much so much nicer if I can be doing that writing in similar conditions to today’s and not, as I suspect might be the case, under wall-to-wall leadened cloud cover with an extra jumper on just to keep warm!

Fingers crossed, eh?

Countdown = T Minus Zero… Firebird 3rd Edition Launched

Do people really judge books by their covers…?

We do seem to be hard-coded to make snap judgements based on what we sense around us and sight does seem to play a dominant role in this.  Maybe it’s an ‘animal’ thing?  One day, when I can’t find anything more interesting to do, I’m going to have to do a bit more research into this apparent sensory-order-of-precedent… (could be a long wait…).

The concept of perception is also toyed with in Firebird but as I think I’ve mentioned before, at the time of publication, the limits of my artistic capability created a temporarily insurmountable barrier and, as a higher priority, I wanted the 1st Edition to be synchronised with the same calendar day as the story begins (albeit that 2011 is obviously a different year).  So that’s why Firebird launched with a 2D cover.

Feel free to call my strange attention to tiny details, like the launch date, ‘OCD’ if you like…  I do, because it probably is OCD.

Anyhow, now it’s time to make good the final piece of the puzzle.  I think I finally have a cover that does some reasonable justice to the story that’s hiding just behind it:

FIREBIRD: 3rd Edition published – 7th October 2011 (all of the changes are listed on the editions page.  There is no material change to the storyline).

Thanks once again to all of you who have already read it and thanks to everyone who has helped with the new artwork. I really do appreciate every single comment, post and review…

(Right then monster, off you go…  I’ve got a thunderstorm raging here and it’s been waiting impatiently for my attention…)

Time flies…

… as do pigs (occasionally).

I can’t believe it’s been over a week since my last post but, looking back, I’m also wondering what I’ve actually achieved in the intervening time…

Well, aside from:

  • Writing another fair slice of Thunder
  • Setting up the epub files for Firebird v.3
  • Making lots of new Goodreads and Twitter friends (hello all…)
  • Creating my first and probably only animated 3D gif file (I do love tinkering with technology)
  • Pickling my beetroot (seriously, this is not an intentional double entendre…)
  • Rediscovering my hoover (and working out how to switch it on again)
  • Exchanging writing thoughts and drafts with another indie author
  • Doing two solid days of (boring) business analysis (which I still need to finish off) and…
  • Spending far too long surfing around the internet!

Given my last bullet point above and that (mysteriously) Summer has finally descended on the United Kingdom (I know, it’s incredible, 27 degrees in September!), I’m off into the garden to see if I can find my lawnmower…

Thanks for all the positive feedback on the new book cover.  Much appreciated.

Time flies; so make the best of every second…

(now then… I think it’s lurking somewhere in that long grass that I used to call a lawn… where’s my machete?)

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