Boomflowers posts

Looking forward: 2017

Sometimes when the tide is rising, you just gotta keep walking
(Picture: credit unknown)

A new year, a fresh start, an eager jump off the blocks. That’s the idea, right?

After the marshy struggle that was 2016, I’ve decided to approach this year’s goals in a slightly different way. Part of it is that I know that focus is going to be key; too many things have been left unfinished, and this bothers me.

So, line ’em up and knock ’em down. That’s the plan. Here’s the list!

Vampire Electric

This novel is what I’m currently working on, and that’s where my focus is going to be at first. I’m in the last section of the second draft now, typing onwards to the climax of the story, and it’s flowing well. This has taken several years to get to this point, and I’m excited that the end is in sight!
So, first goal is to get to the end of the story. Then, to complete the second draft of the novel. Sadly, these are not the same thing: there are a couple of holes I know I need to go back and fill in (hindsight is fantastic), and there is a flashback sequence that needs to be completed and then woven into the main narrative.

Once that’s all done, I’ll be passing it to a couple of alpha readers for initial impressions and feedback to help guide the third draft work.
After that, there will be decisions to make about how much work there is left to do, and what publishing option I’ll be pursuing. But sending it out for alpha reading is where my initial plans for this project stop for the foreseeable future.

Writers’ Asylum

The Asylum is due in April or May, so will probably be the next thing I work on after (or possibly during) Vampire Electric. I’ve got some ideas for this year’s challenges, but I still need to write them up and get them ready. After that, it’s a case of setting up the scheduling and running the day.

This will be the fifth Asylum (!!!), so I’d like to take a bit of time to go over the things I’ve tried, identify what works well and what works less well, and do a bit of an analysis. That will help me plan the next one, and maybe come up with something new to try, too.

Everyday Heroes

This project has languished for far too long. Writers who submitted their stories have been waiting for feedback, and because of that, I’m pushing this up my list. I’ll be looking to firstly chase up the stories on my plate to edit (they should all be with their writers for reworks), then I’ll be chasing up the rest of the edits. I may wind up taking on more of the editing myself, depending on what’s happening with the other editors on the project.

I’ll be aiming to get edits back to the writers at a steady pace. It’s a process that takes a few rounds, and is reliant on the writers being able to get reworks back to us in a reasonable time frame, so we’ll see how it goes.

Adventures of the Detachable Penis

Get Part 2 out! It’s all but ready to go. I might go on to write Part 3, you never know. It’s all planned out. I shall see if the naughty mood strikes me!

Boomflowers

Finish the last few entries, get it scheduled and up. I’d like to see this one finished off. I might look into collating it into an ebook and releasing it (self-published), but the main goal is to get it finished on Inkspired first.

NaNoWriMo

No particular plans for this year’s November adventure in novelling yet. I’ll be scheming with my co-MLs for what we might do this year, things we want to do again and anything new we want to try.

I want to look into doing a roving write-in on the trains again this year, but that’ll take a bit of research to see if it’s feasible with the current ticketing system.

At this point, I have no idea what I might write as my NaNo project. I guess it depends where I’ve got to on the list above! Who knows, it might even be Starwalker Book 5.

 

And I think that’s it! But that doesn’t seem like much, right? And where’s Starwalker in all of this? Aren’t I ever getting back to it? And what about all those other little projects?

Starwalker is still on my list, but my struggles in trying to pick it up again in 2016 showed me that I needed the break. That particular story isn’t talking to me very loudly right now, which tells me that I need to do something fresh with it. I’m pondering ideas – it is always percolating away in the background – and toying with some options. But I’ve learned that this sort of thing can’t be rushed or forced; it doesn’t go well.

Who knows, maybe I’ll get a wonderful idea and dive in sometime this year. Same goes for other languishing projects, like the VVSG. Never say never!

No promises at this point, though, just hope.

Always onwards, with hope.

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2016 Retrospective: the year of struggle

‘Nuff said.
(Picture by Nicholas Javed Photography)

2016 is in the rear-view mirror now, so it’s time to see how I lined up with the things I aimed to achieve in that year. As you may guess from the title, the tl:dr version is: not well.

Editing

Goal: edit Carnifex.
Result: done and done! It’s a great book and available to buy right now! So happy I could be a part of this project.

Goal: get Everyday Heroes moving.
Result: partial success. The editing on my plate moved on a ways, but the anthology as a whole has languished. This needs a huge kick up the arse.

Goal: finish off the new editions of the Apocalypse Blog.
Result: got through Book 2; Book 3 is still outstanding.

Writing

Goal: finish small projects. Specifically: Boomflowers and the Vampire Victim Support Group.
Result: progress made but not published. Boomflowers is coming along nicely, and only needs a few more pieces written to get to the end. I haven’t released any updates to this, as I’m waiting for it to be finished before I do that. VVSG is languishing, mostly due to a couple of troublesome pieces that I need to beat with a stick (ie: rejig until they work).

Goal: more Detachable Penis fun.
Result: I got a cover for Part 2! But managed to drag my feet in actually releasing the next book, so it’s not out yet. This is one of those things where I just need to get my head down and sort it out.

Goal: get Starwalker Book 5 moving.
Result: no movement yet. That’s hard to write, but it’s the truth.

Writing was hard for me in 2016. I tried a few different things, but the truth was, I was burnt out and needed the break. Recognising that was an important step, because sometimes you’ve got to stop pushing, start listening to yourself, and try to figure out the best way forward. Sometimes, that means taking a step back.

Clearing the mental decks was essential for me. I’ve had to assess and reassess my capabilities a few times in the past year, try to work out what’s achievable, and then push forward with some new plans. Taking that step back and taking a break was important, and so was figuring out how and when to start moving again.

The good news is that I’ve come out of that ‘break’ now. I put my NaNoWriMo time to good use (see below) and revitalised a languishing project: Vampire Electric. It’s in its second draft, up to the final stages (well past where the first draft got to), and galloping on towards the approximate 200k I think it’ll be before I get to the end of the story. I’m getting back into the habit of writing every day, and enjoying it!

So, I’m happy to report that the year ended on a positive note. Despite not getting to all the things I meant to, after some readjustment of plans, I’m finally making progress.

Writers’ Asylum

Goal: plan it, write it, do it.
Result: done, done, and done! This one was loads of fun, and I had lots of good reactions from those who took part. Some good learnings to carry forward to the next one.

NaNoWriMo

Goal: plan it, do it, achieve wordcount.
Result: done, done, and done!

I had a great NaNo this year, and it was a turning-point for me in the struggle that has been my writing life. I’ve written about how it was actually pretty easy for me to hit the big 50k this year, and the good news is that I’m still writing. Even the break I took over the Christmas/New Year period hasn’t interrupted it much: this week, I’m back writing again, and feeling enthused for the story. It’s a great feeling.

As far as the events go, I’ve written about it here on the blog, but I think we can chalk it up as a success. I had a couple of awesome co-MLs to work with, we tried some new stuff (which I hadn’t originally intended to do, but was so worth it!), learned a few things, and had a great time.

Other Stuff

Goal: streamline home stuff.
Result: same old same old. I had planned to move house, downsize, and simplify things, but that hasn’t happened yet. I won’t go into details, but some other things came up and staying where I was turned out to be the easiest and least costly option. It’s all a work in progress, I guess.

 

Overall, 2016 was a struggle for me. Most of it didn’t go how I’d hoped, I learned a few things, and managed to pull myself out of the bog of uninspiration. By the end, I managed to get myself back to writing again, so the year ended on a high note, which is something to be grateful for.

Now is the time to look forward. To tuck those learnings under my cap, adjust expectations, and try to come up with goals that are realistic but also challenging. And then: get shit done.

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Looking forward: 2016

It's time to step out into new light! (Picture from Dark Beauty Magazine: “The Journey” — Producer: Miss Aniela Photographer: Mercia Moseley Photography Stylist/Designer/Headpiece/Jewelry: Minna Attala Hair/Makeup: Grace Gray - Model Model: Carmen O. Model)

It’s time to step out into new light!
(Picture from Dark Beauty Magazine: “The Journey”)

Okay, so I’ve gone over how 2015 went. I’ve got a bunch of stuff on my plate and a whole new year spread out before me. While yearly boundaries are arbitrary, they do afford us an opportunity to reflect, to plan, to redirect, and to attack things with renewed commitment and energy.

That’s the hope anyway. Let’s lay out what I have in store this year and see where we get to. For something different, let’s attempt this in possible chronological order.

This is because I’m aiming to have more focus this year. With my health and energy levels in their current state, juggling multiple things at the same time (as I have tended to in the past) is not a great idea right now. So instead, I’m going to try lining them up and knocking them down.

My goal is for 2016 to be the year of Getting Things Finished.

Editing

I’ve got a pile of editing work on my plate, and my plan right now is to work through it before I turn my attention to anything else.

The new-look Apocalypse Blog Book 1

The new-look Apocalypse Blog Book 1

Why am I putting this ahead of my own writing, I hear you ask? Because other writers are waiting on me to do things, and that matters to me. Also, editing other people’s work is a shorter job than writing something new, so best to tackle it first.

First up is the editing for Carnifex under the Blade Editing banner. The first edit is almost complete and ready to be sent back to its author. The first edit is the heaviest; subsequent edit rounds will be much quicker to turn around.

Next is the editing for the Everyday Heroes anthology. This is a project that has languished over the holidays, and will be kicked back into action shortly. There’s still a way to go on this, but I’m hoping to get it released by the middle of the year. My first focus will be to get the ball rolling on the editing side again; after that, I’ll mix it in with other stuff.

Once that is off and running, I’ll be finishing off the new editions of The Apocalypse Blog ebooks. This isn’t a huge job: mostly requires some time and concentration (it’s hard to do piecemeal; or at least, hard to do well that way). Two books have been done (one of them the short prequel); two to go. Looking forward to launching the new covers, editions, and pricing!

I have a few other editing bits coming my way over the course of this year, and will fit them in accordingly. Looking forward to getting into the swing of this!

Writing: Small Fry

Cover by the wonderful Willsin Rowe

Cover by the wonderful Willsin Rowe

With Starwalker Book 5 stuck in what the movie industry refers to as ‘development hell’, I’m going to turn my attention to smaller projects to start with. Again: line ’em up, knock ’em down, and compulsively tick them off my list.

Once the bulk of the editing work is done (or at least significantly shoved in the right direction), I’ll be looking at some smaller projects first. I’m thinking particularly of Boomflowers and Vampire Victim Support Group. My goal is to finish the first one completely and get the entries scheduled up and posted, as it’s the shorter of the two, and to get phase 1 of VVSG completed (phase 1 is the first entry from each of the characters; I have 2-3 phases planned).

I’m also hoping to get more of the comedy erotica (The Adventures of the Detachable Penis) written and released. Part 1 is out, Part 2 is written and getting ready for release, and there are 6 parts planned in total. It’s a fun departure from my usual stuff, so makes a nice break. Plus, they’re short (5-7 thousand words each) and pretty quick to turn around.

Writing: Big Stuff

Starry

Starry: she go ‘zoom!’
(Picture: mine)

While all this is happening, Starwalker will be bubbling away in the background. I’d like to get some test-writing done for some of the new material, and pull together a coherent plan for the next book. It was outlined before NaNoWriMo 2015, but given the changes that I want to make, that’ll need to be updated.

I’m aiming to pull together the test-written stuff into an actual backlog of posts, so I can start with a buffer this time around. It should help in those times when I’m having a bad week and am struggling to put a post together, smoothing over the rough patches. (Of course, this is a nice theory; maintaining a buffer isn’t one of my best skills.)

At this stage, it’s hard to know timescales, but I’m hoping to restart Starwalker by the start of the second quarter of 2016. My intention is not to rush this, because I’d like to get it off to a good start.

It’s also entirely possible that the buffer I build up ends up being half or more of Book 5. With the desire to focus this year, writing in my usual serial fashion might not be a good idea, and this could be a chance to change how I approach my writing time. I will still post it serially, but how it’s constructed on the back end is going to be different. That might delay the start of the posting but I hope not!

However, I do have a list of Starwalker shorts that I intend to look over and attempt to revitalise. At least one of the yet-to-be-published ones has been drafted! So one/some of these might pop up in the meantime.

Writers’ Asylum

This tends to be an event that requires some attention from me in the early part of the year, because setting up a day of writing challenges for a bunch of writers can be a tricky beast. However, good news! The bulk of the work for this has already been done.

When setting up my calendar of events for the year, I sorted out a suitable weekend in April in which to host it (working around other events that tend to attract my writer peeps). And thanks to my skittering attention in NaNoWriMo 2015, the challenges for this year’s day of madness have already been drafted. The page has been updated and everything.

All that’s left is to polish the challenges, get them scheduled to go up on the blog so online people can join in, and then run it. Easy.

(I know, I know: famous last words. Shh.)

NaNoWriMo

Skipping towards the end of the year, it’s hard to predict what my project will be for NaNoWriMo this time around. It might be focussing on pushing Starwalker forward and building up that buffer. It might be returning to Vampire Electric to continue the second draft.

Right now, given that the theme of this year will be focus, I’d like to say that it would be Starwalker. I won’t make a decision now, though; I might need a break from the serial by then and take the opportunity to do something different.

As far as NaNo events and organisation goes, this year looks like it’s going to be a tricky one. My co-ML (Municipal Liaison, the fancy title they give those of us who organise the local events) is gaining a baby this year, so it’s possible that we’ll both be pretty time-poor when it comes to NaNo stuff. On the other hand, we might gain a third pair of hands to help out with the ML side of things, so you never know.

At this stage, I’m intending to keep NaNo stuff fairly simple and straightforward. No big Retreat or Overnight to organise takes a lot of the pressure off, as well as a lot of the time and stress in the lead-up to November. This year, changes and experiments are likely to be small in scope (which in itself will be a change!).

Other Stuff

As part of my push to streamline things, I’m also making some changes in my home life to ease various burdens, including financial and housekeeping effort. I’m planning to downsize my home situation, which means going through all the stuff I have in storage and ruthlessly cleaning it out, paring it back, and, ideally, shrinking the raft of stuff that I have to move to a new, smaller house.

I’m not planning to move soon. Given all those things that I’ve mentioned above, from health, to commitments, to all the things I really want to get to, plus the fact that I’m a pack-rat and keep everything, I knew that I’d need time to get something as ambitious as downsizing and packing done. So the plan is to spread it out, chip away at it regularly, and be done around the end of the year.

Honestly, just making this decision and forming a plan to make it happen has lifted a bunch of stress off me. This is mostly a preventative measure, so there’s no pressure to get it done soon, which means I can do it my way. So I shall.

 

And that’s it! That’s my set of goals and ambitions for the year.

Laid out like that, it looks like a lot. But a year is a long time and a lot will probably change in that span. There are a few factors that might pop up and spoil this, but that’s okay: we adjust and move on.

Fingers crossed, 2016 will be a better year than the last. I’m already feeling more positive about things than I have in a while. Let’s get to it!

Onwards, my friends, into the breach, heads up and hearts strong.

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2015 in retrospect

Sometimes when the tide is rising, you just gotta keep walking (Picture: credit unknown)

Sometimes when the tide is rising, you just gotta keep walking
(Picture: credit unknown)

2015 was, in all, a pretty low year for me. It involved a lot of struggling, fighting with my health, stress with the day job, and trying to get back to a project that wasn’t playing ball.

But is that all that is worth talking about?

Thinking back over what I had hoped to achieve this year, let’s see how the tally really goes.

Life Stuff

I had aimed to mostly stay in my job and keep my head above water. I wound up changing my job, but I’m in the lucky position of still having one, and continuing to be able to support me and my family. While it’s a struggle and a source of stress (though less now than it was in the middle of the year), I am immensely grateful for it.

I didn’t get to all of the house reorganisation that I wanted to, but I have some plans around that, which I’ll be talking about in an upcoming post.

My health continues to suck, much of which is related to the aforementioned work stress. I also wound up having to have a root canal this year (yay!), which sucked up much of my medical needs budget. More saving (and dental work) required. Joy.

Writing

The new-look Apocalypse Blog Book 1

The new-look Apocalypse Blog Book 1

So, with all that going on, how did the writing thing go?

First of all, and most importantly, Starwalker Book 4 is complete. This, of everything, was the biggest achievement of 2015, and I can’t be delighted enough with it.

Book 4 was a rocky ride, took a wrong turn or two, but I got it back on track and to the end I wanted it to have. It is the culmination of 5 years of work, which produced over 400,000 words that I shared with the world. I have a wonderful readership, for whom I am eternally grateful. Even now, months into a hiatus that I hadn’t intended to take this long, they offer me support. I am a lucky writer.

I’ve talked at length on this blog about my struggles and ponderings around Starwalker, so I won’t go over it again. Let’s just say that the hiatus lasted longer than expected and didn’t quite go to plan. That’s okay. Plans must change when they meet reality.

As for other projects, there has been limited movement:

  • Vampire Electric was put on the back burner this year when I decided to dedicate this year’s NaNoWriMo to Starwalker instead.
  • Work has started on the new editions of the Apocalypse Blog ebooks. I’m about a third of the way through.
  • Vampire Victim Support Group got a short boost when I was investigating Inkspired, a serial-friendly publishing forum. It languished a bit in the latter part of the year.
  • Boomflowers is a new project, also on Inkspired, which suffered the same languishing fate.
  • Splinter Soul poked its head up during NaNoWriMo and is starting to take shape in the shadows.
  • I experimented with writing and releasing a comedy erotica story. It isn’t selling great yet, but I’m working towards the next installment and hope to bulk up the numbers once I can call it a series. This was great fun to write and something of a departure for me. Always nice to try something different!
  • Other projects fell by the wayside and remain on my list.

In less fictional realms, I’ve been better with updating this blog and keeping it going. I’ve been expanding the scope by adding author interviews and book reviews, and I hope to do more of the same going forward.

The other big thing I did in 2015 was to get an anthology project in motion (with some friends and colleagues; it wasn’t all me). We’re in the depths of editing at the moment, after stalling over the NaNoWriMo/holiday period.

Writing Events and Community

Look! It's a tiny writing dragon! (Picture by jrrhack)

Look! It’s a tiny writing dragon!
(Picture by jrrhack)

In 2015, I organised and ran the usual events. The Creative Writing Group is still going strong, and recently I have started to record our meetings (these will go up online as soon as I figure out how and where). Attendance continues to be healthy to all of the events, with the usual tides of newcomers joining and others drifting away.

I am ever grateful for the lack of drama in my writing community.

I spread my monthly events out in 2015, instead of having them on the same weekend, and that is working well. It spreads the cost and effort, which helps everyone out, I think.

The Writers’ Asylum went well and I tried a slightly different format that turned out to work well. Learnings will be carried forward to this year’s, which is mostly written already (I’m so organised! Hey, it happens sometimes.).

We tried some new stuff with the NaNoWriMo events this year, with some mixed results. They all went well on the whole, though, and I’m happy that we’re continuing to head in the right direction. I have awesome people around me, so it’s all worth it.

So, all in all, it wasn’t a terrible year. Things were achieved. Other things weren’t. It’s hard to see the positive when the fatigue is heavy (like it is right now), but laying it all out like this helps.

I have some ideas for 2016 and how to make it better than what has come before. More on that coming soon. In the meantime, hope your reflections and resolutions are going well.

Goodbye, 2015. I don’t think I’ll miss you!

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A kick up my own…

Hiiiiii-YAH! Here's hoping I can carry it off more gracefully than this pair. (Picture via flickr, credit ColKorn1982)

Hiiiiii-YAH!
Here’s hoping I can carry it off more gracefully than this pair.
(Picture via flickr, credit ColKorn1982)

After being stalled and burned out recently, I’m working hard to get some momentum back with my writing. This is both writing for this blog (this is a big motivator for me) and the creative side of things, as well as other side projects.

I’m currently trying to build up a bit of a backlog for this blog. That will help take the pressure off and smooth over any dry spots while I’m focussing on something else. Right now, I’m aiming for one post a week as a minimum, with more only if I just can’t help myself. (I currently have the next couple of weeks lined up already.)

I’m also going to be varying the types of posts that go up. There’ll still be a writing focus, and I’m sure publishing will still feature fairly highly because it’s something I’m involved in pretty regularly. Joining the usual advice/info posts will be some interviews with authors (starting with some indie authors that I know personally and possibly extending from there), and reviews. I’ve done a few reviews before, mostly for movies, and my aim is to extend the reviews to books and possibly some web serials.

First review coming up soon. I’d love to know what you think of it!

Now that the first round of editing for the Everyday Heroes anthology is done and back with the writers, I have a bit of time to revive my own creative efforts. My priorities right now are: progress the next part of an experiment I have been working on (more on this soon!); finish up any one-shots I have on my list; and get my Inkspired serials back up and posting.

My serials on Inkspired (VVSG and Boomflowers) stalled a few weeks ago when I started to get burned out. Now that there are some new features to play with on the portal (more on this soon!), my plan is to build up a backlog and get them all scheduled  up, so that they can post away happily while I work on something else.

Skipping focus didn’t seem to work, so maybe this will be better! Boomflowers was only intended to be fairly short anyway (~10,000 words or thereabouts), so I’m hoping to finish that off completely before it starts posting again.

That lot will probably take me up to the start of this year’s NaNoWriMo, at which point my goal is to switch to writing Starwalker Book 5. It won’t start posting until after NaNo finishes (and I’ve had some editing/tidying time), so don’t start looking for it too soon. My aim here is to build up a backlog and some momentum, and carry that through into the new year.

Now that I’ve laid it all out in text, it sounds somewhat ambitious. I think it’s doable, though. First step: get back into the habit of writing every day. It’s time to get tough with myself again.

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How to make the best of a hiatus

You might expect this to be a how-to guide, given the title. Consider it more of a question that I’m currently pondering. I won’t promise that this will be a useful guide for everyone. It might not even be useful for me. Let’s see!

So, the reason for taking my current hiatus was equal parts:

  • Taking a break from Starwalker
  • Catching up on projects that I have been delaying for a while
  • Trying some new stuff
  • Moving things to a new server
  • Doing something with the first four Starwalker books
  • Planning the next phase of the Starwalker saga.

Like with battle, plans for how to spend my free time tend to fly to the wind as soon as you engage the enemy (with ‘the enemy’ being ‘life and reality’ in this case).

Currently, I am successfully taking a break from Starwalker. Tick!

Let’s see about the rest…

This. So much this.  (Picture: not mine)

This. So much this.
(Picture: not mine)

Catching up on delayed projects

I’m not sure if this blog counts as a ‘delayed project’ (it’s probably more of a ‘neglected outlet’ for me), but you’ve probably noticed that I’m posting more often again. My goal is to build up some momentum here, along with a nice, healthy backlog of stuff scheduled up, and to knock over some of the posts that I’ve been meaning to write for a while. I’ve got over a dozen draft posts here on the site, capturing thoughts that were relevant when I had them: it’s time to go through them, sort them out or throw them away. Expect more posts to come! For at least the next little while.

As for actual fiction-writing projects, the VVSG is going well, and looking good to keep going that way. I haven’t looked at any other existing projects yet. Boomflowers kinda snuck up on me, so that could count as a bit of ‘new stuff’, but is also something that has been percolating for a little while. Half-and-half, really.

The other projects that I am hoping to work on soon include the Apocalypse Blog. The ebooks need a fresh go-through, edit, and new covers applied. I’ve been talking about doing this for ages. It’s about time I just did it! Now that I’m in a good place with the new short-serials (VVSG and Boomflowers), I’m hoping to dedicate some time to this over the next couple of weeks.

I’d also like to get back into the Starwalker shorts. I have a whole list I’d like to do, and a couple of tickling ideas here and there. It would be nice to post something on the Starwalker site for the readers to enjoy while I’m taking this break from the main story! However, that’ll be once I’ve had a stretch of a break from that world. I want to knock over some of the big stuff before I delve back into that universe, and I’ve got to be careful of not starting too many things at once.

Trying new stuff

This is something I chase on a semi-regular basis. Most often, it applies to the events and things that I do locally, rather than with my writing itself (keep an eye out for some NaNoWriMo-related posts coming up soon, for this year’s fun in the works). Overall, I guess I’m pretty happy with my writing itself (though I always look to improve my skills): it’s the periphery that I tend to experiment with. For example, how I publish, or my editing work, or events.

What does this mean for the hiatus? Well, I guess the first new thing I’m trying is Inkspired, and seeing how that works as a serial outlet. I’m spamming them with feedback and suggestions, so I guess we’ll watch that space.

I’m also in the process of setting up an editing and ebooking service. I’ve got skills in those areas and a good friend who’s building it with me. I think we can make a good go at it, and are in a good position to do well with it.

Linked with that but not entirely under that banner is an anthology idea or two that I have. I’m putting together a project to create an anthology with some local writer friends, capitalising on some research I did a while ago with a publishing/editing contact of mine. I’m confident we can put together something pretty awesome. After a suggestion from a local writer, we’re going to make the first one with a view to raising money for our NaNo community writing events.

This is going to be a bit of work, but it’s not going to be just me working on it, and it’s something I really want to have a go at. Ideas abound, and I’m hoping to get the bulk of it off and running pretty soon, so I can make the most of my hiatus time (that is, so it doesn’t wind up sucking up too much time once I’ve restarted Starwalker!).

There’s also some movement in the serial writing circles about setting up an endeavour to expand and promote quality serial fiction. I’m involved in a few conversations there, and I’m really keen to see where that goes. I think I’ve got useful experience to lend to the cause there (mostly in editing, layout, ebooking, and so on). This could explode somewhat, which would both be exciting and potentially derailing.

I’m going to have to be careful what I commit to! For now, I’m enjoying all the opportunities that are spreading out before me, and generally trying not to get too distracted by all the shiny things.

The server move

I started the process of moving all my websites over to a new web host recently. This blog was one of the first things I moved, and is the only one that is also changing its domain name. For the rest, I have a whole slew of domains that need to be shifted (most of which are reserved for projects that I plan to serialise or otherwise put online someday), a couple of websites that I host for family, and lastly the rest of my websites with content.

I’m planning to use the hiatus to shift the Starwalker site over to the new host. There’ll be a short downtime while things get moved across, but it should be quieter on the activity front, so there’s less chance of losing data (comments, etc). It’ll be nice to move to a fresh WordPress install, because the Starwalker one has been a little broken ever since it got hacked. This has been something I’ve been wanted to do for a long time; it’s nice to have the opportunity to do it!

After Starwalker and the Apocalypse Blog sites are moved over (the last big websites to shift), I should be able to close down the old hosting account. Then dust off hands, all done there.

Starwalker so far

I have four whole books of Starwalker shenanigans. What to do with them!

This is something I’m planning to sit down and figure out. I would really like to get them published but I’m still tossing up what kind of publishing I should go for. I could self-publish ebooks again. I could try the traditional publishing world. I could run a Kickstarter and do an actual physical print run.

This particular story is positioned in a way that would make it a good candidate to sell to a traditional publisher. Hybrid authors tend to be the most successful: traditionally-published books bring in the exposure and breadth; self-published books bring in greater revenue. All the stats from the past few years tell us this. And I still have that lingering dream to see my books on bookstore shelves.

However. Starwalker is already sprawling into a fifth book. There are shorts and spin-offs planned. I’m a little bit leery of selling all of that to a publisher.

Pros and cons are yet to be fully weighed. We shall see!

In the meantime, I am aiming to get the first four books collated, edited, and cleaned up, ready to be published. That’s going to be a huge chunk of work on its own, and I may or may not get it done before the end of the hiatus. Let’s start with getting the first book done and go from there, shall we?

Starwalker Book 5

The last big bit of work that I want to get done while I’m on hiatus is to plan out the next phase of Starwalker. Currently, I’m calling this Book 5. (I wouldn’t be surprised if the story creeps out beyond a fifth book: not only is this me we’re talking about – I’m good at sprawling stories – but also I have some suspicions that there are enough questions left to answer to take our favourite little ship on a few loooong journeys.)

I’m not quite sure what it’ll take to do this planning. Hopefully just a couple of days dedicated to laying out the pieces I’ve got to play with.

After that, I need to figure out the timing of the writing. With all the stuff that’ll be in progress over this hiatus, I need to work out when I can responsibly restart the serial. Too soon, and I’ll be too overloaded to do it well. Too long, and I’ll lose a chunk of my readership. It’s a balancing act.

One option might be that I start Book 5 as this year’s NaNo project. That would mean sacrificing the next scheduled chunk of progress on Vampire Electric (which is still halfway through the second draft). I’d have to weight up the pros and cons of that.

This would be a departure in how I write the serials. I tend to write and post as I go, literally week to week. Over the last year and a half, I’ve had mixed success with this, and been far more unreliable than I like. Spending a month writing nothing else, powering through a huge chunk of it: this is pretty attractive. I could have a buffer again!

There’s 6 months between now and NaNo, so I’ve got some time to figure it out. Let’s see what happens.

 

So there you go: that’s what I have planned for this ‘break’ I’m taking. Ambitious? Maybe. I’m enthused and happy to be able to delve into all these things. There’s a lot to get through and I’m trying not to take my time too much. Wish me luck!

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Boomflowers: sneaking up on you

Boomflowers!

Boomflowers!

I wrote recently about the Write-Review-Publish event and how it went. What I didn’t talk about there is what I wrote during that day.

Quite often at the more intensive, structured, or organised events, I don’t really get much opportunity to write. Regular write-ins are fine, but something i’m actively running throughout the day usually means that I don’t get my head down into my own fiction. And that’s fine! I’m completely down with that.

Write-Review-Publish was different. Despite actively running it through the whole day, I actually managed to settle enough for a few stretches to get a piece not only started, but drafted right to the end, redrafted, and edited. It’s not the whole story, but it’s the first whole scene of it.

I had an idea that was niggling at me, and I figured it might be a good candidate for a day like that one. It came from an article I saw about a guy who had turned shotgun ammunition into seed distribution shells, for easy, shotgun-toting gardening. (They’re called Flower Shells.)

This is the best mix for a writer: weapons and violence with a green, environmental bent, and a healthy dollop of the faintly ridiculous. Because gardening with a shotgun is equal parts ridiculous and awesome.

Of course, my writer brain started turning it over like a curious rock. The ‘what ifs’ began: what if these shells became common munitions? What if they were used as ‘organic markers’, to tag suspects in shoot-outs and identify them later? What if someone took them to the extreme and tried to make them into bombs? What if the seeds were adapted to use the heat from the blast to promote fast growth? What if… it all went horribly wrong?

Welcome to Boomflowers. The worst has happened, an entire city (at least) has been taken over by rampant giant flowers, and people have been entirely driven out.

This is where I started at the event. The first piece of the story fell out of my story with surprising steadiness; I won’t say it was easy, because it was a struggle in some ways, but I didn’t get stuck on it, either. It’s heavy on the description in a way that I don’t often write (Starwalker is more internal chatter than pure description). It felt like stretching old muscles in new, fresh scenery.

The goal for the day was 2,000 words and the first piece of Boomflowers is only around 1,500, but I didn’t want to fill it out: I think it’s about right as it is. I really like how it came out, came together, this story that was pretty much just a concept when I walked in that day. I hadn’t expected to get to the end of it! It’s nice to know that I can surprise myself.

Right now, I’m trying not to plan it too deeply. I’ve got an idea about where I want it to go, the ground I want it to cover, and the shape it’ll take to get there. I’m predicting that it will come out around 10,000 words when it’s complete. For me, that’s shockingly short. I’m not looking to overcook this or stretch it out, though I’m determined to let it take the time and space it needs to be the story it should be. So, well… it might wind up longer than that.

I’m enjoying writing it. I’ve got the second piece ready to go, and I’m hoping to get the rest of it written up over the next few weeks, so it’s all done and good to go by the time I get back to Starwalker.

It has been a while since I wrote something with this little prep, and right now, I’m loving it. I should go do some more weird stuff with creeping flowers! Enjoy!

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