Vampire Electric 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.

What do you think of this post?
  • Awesome (0)
  • Interesting (0)
  • Useful (0)
  • More pls (0)
Share

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.

What do you think of this post?
  • Awesome (0)
  • Interesting (0)
  • Useful (0)
  • More pls (0)
Share

The easy 50

nanowrimo_2016_webbadge_winnerWriting 50,000 words in one month is always a challenge. Every year presents different hurdles, and I have to say that this year’s ones have been smaller than usual.

This year, I didn’t want to only achieve the 50k goal; I wanted to get back in touch with my writing, re-settle the habits, and get back into the rhythm of writing.

After such a long break from regular writing, I knew that the choice of project would be important if I was going to do any of what I wanted to achieve. So I agonised a lot about what project I should write for this year’s NaNoWriMo.

On the one hand, I have a whole book of Starwalker to write (#5, for those keeping count). I promised to get back to it, and I will; I know I have readers waiting for it. On the other, my head is still not in the right place to write it.

I have other projects that have also been languishing. The one that has been nudging me most insistently lately has been Vampire Electric, the steampunk story that started off as a foray into the realms of paranormal romance and became… something else.

This particular story has been the main project for two previous NaNos. It’s currently in its second draft, as I got far enough through the first draft to know how I really wanted to write it and started again. What that means is that I have a solid base and a clear idea of where it’s going. The characters have been living in my head for years, and the ideas around the plot and its progression have been percolating for longer.

The second draft of VE had around 100,000 words at the start of November, and was about halfway through the story (it’s going to need some severe paring or splitting when I’m finally done with this draft). In many ways, VE is easy mode for me, because I’ve got so much to build on.

And it itches. It’s the one story that has been bugging me to write it. I’ve been neglecting it for far too long, sidelining it for other projects.

For all of those reasons, I decided that that would be my NaNo project for this year. Knock out another 50,000 words of it, get back into the groove of writing, get back into the habit of writing on the train: all of it.

I’m pleased to say that it has gone well. I’ve managed to write at least a little every day, and enough most days to get ahead. I finished the goal word count almost a week ahead of time. The story is still moving along well enough that I think I can keep it going; I’m not feeling burnt out or like I’ve been overstretching myself at all.

Part of it is that I’ve managed to be very productive on my train journeys. I have an hour’s commute, and that used to mean about a thousand words. This NaNo, I’ve been doing between 1,200 and 1,800 per trip (most often just once in a day, because I often nap on the way to work in the mornings). This story just seems to flow so well: like I said, easy mode!

This is also the first NaNo in a while where I haven’t needed to have a break in the latter half of the challenge. In the last few years, I’ve switched to a different project or written something short in the middle of NaNoWriMo, because I’ve needed to take a break from whatever the main project was. This year, that hasn’t been the case at all: it has been all VE, all the time, in one continuous flow. I haven’t even dipped into the historical flashbacks that I need to write for this story.

Right now, I’m loving it. I’m reaching the end of the material I wrote for the first draft and about to foray into the last sequence of the novel (which will not be short; I fully think that 100,000 was only half of what this draft will end up being, so I have another 50,000 words to go). I mean to keep going until I reach the end.

One of the dangers with NaNo is that once the goal is reached, it’s time to take a break. Put the project down for a while. That’s a good thing! But it can be very hard to pick it up again. This year, I got to the goal on the first day of my break from the day job. I have over a week off, some things I want to achieve, and a break of a different kind. I mean to keep writing through it all though.

The truth is that I don’t feel like I need to have a break. I’m at an awkward part of the story, in that I’m trying to coordinate a few factors in the plot, but I know exactly what’s coming just after this phase so it’s not like I’m groping in the dark. I’m looking forward to getting to scenes that I’ve had in my head for years. I’m looking forward to the pay-offs to elements I set up 100,000 words ago.

And I’m really looking forward to having a completed draft that I can start showing to people (for feedback, so I can fix it up).

I’m feeling more positive about my writing than I have for a while. Enthused. Optimistic. Hopeful.

On I write, to finish this novel and get this story out. I can’t wait to get it into a state where I can share it with you all. Don’t hold your breath, but do watch this space!

What do you think of this post?
  • Awesome (0)
  • Interesting (0)
  • Useful (0)
  • More pls (0)
Share

NaNoWriMo 2016: Decascriptum

NaNoWriMo: writers unite!

NaNoWriMo: writers unite!

(Decascriptum is a totally made-up word, meaning roughly ‘ten writing’.)

I meant to post here long before today. For months, posts and parts of posts have been on the tip of my brain, or even my fingers, but they’ve never made it all the way through to the ‘publish’ button.

But here I am, trying again.

This year hasn’t gone the way I’d hoped. Writing continues to be a struggle, though I’ve managed some fits and starts along the way. I’ve chipped away at some small things, flexed some weary writer’s muscles, limbered up for something bigger, longer, more ambitious. But I haven’t quit managed to click back into that stride and really write.

It’s nearly November, which means that it’s almost National Novel Writing Month again, which means that my life is being increasingly eaten up by the novelling phenomenon. This, right here, is a kick I need. Is it the kick I need? A good question that I can’t answer yet.

I’ve got two lovely, new co-MLs (Municipal Liaisons) to help me with the organisation side of things, as well as wonderfully supportive friends who offer their hands in a less official capacity. I am utterly blessed by all of them!

We’ve tried a couple of new things already this year: a Pre-NaNo Planning Day, and a Digital Goodie Bag. Both of them went so amazingly well that I can’t wait to build on them next year. (More on them soon! Also, I created a bunch of writing prompts for the Planning Day, and I’ll be sharing them here soon, too.)

Our Kick-off Party is tomorrow, back in its usual home of being a BBQ in the park. It’s going to be nuts and totally exhausting, and I can’t wait. So many people to meet and so many awesome things to give away.

And next week, the writing begins. I’ve decided to return to my steampunk novel, Vampire Electric, in what will be my third NaNoWriMo focussed on it. My goal this year will be to drive on towards the end of the story (it’s 100,000 words already and only about halfway through, so no promises!). I’ve got a clear idea of where it needs to go and the rough path it should take, and I’ve read the existing material to get back up to speed and in the mood.

My fingers are itching to get started. But no, I’ve created the ‘NaNo 2016’ folder in my Scrivener project, and it will remain virginal until the 1st November.

In the meantime, I’m getting my other writing muscles loosened up. Posting here, and starting a new, writing-centric blog over on Inkspired that I’m calling (at least for now) The Right Write. It’s not going to replace this blog; rather, it’s going to wind up being something of an echo, and for the more writing advice-centric posts, I’ll be cross-posting between them. Blogging on Inkspired is a new thing and I’m looking forward to helping test it out! So far, all I’ve done is introduce myself. Lots more to come.

Don’t worry, I won’t let all that distract me from Actual Fiction Writing(tm). It’s NaNoWriMo, after all: wordcount is all.

Way back in 2008, my second attempt at NaNo inspired me to start a web serial, because I fell in love with the enthusiasm and momentum of it. Now, in 2016, I’m hoping that my tenth (!!) NaNo can help return me to that momentum and creative excitement.

Wish me luck and, most of all, words!

What do you think of this post?
  • Awesome (0)
  • Interesting (0)
  • Useful (0)
  • More pls (0)
Share

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!

What do you think of this post?
  • Awesome (1)
  • Interesting (0)
  • Useful (0)
  • More pls (0)
Share

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!

What do you think of this post?
  • Awesome (0)
  • Interesting (1)
  • Useful (1)
  • More pls (0)
Share

2015: Hopes and goals

January is already nearly done, and I’m only just setting myself some goals? What can I say: it has been a busy year already.

But that doesn’t mean that I haven’t been thinking about what I hope to achieve this year. Already, some planning has happened and things are shifting. So let’s get down to it! What stars am I aiming for this time?

 

Life Stuff

As annoying as it is, life stuff impacts on my ability to write and create the stories that are buzzing around in my head. So what are the things that I’m hoping to get done this year, and will they make my writing life easier?

Work

The beloved and begrudged day job pays the bills and makes everything possible. I have some hopes for improvement in this area, particularly with how challenging it is right now, but I really can’t complain.

I’m in the enviable position of:

  • Having a job that pays my bills
  • Enjoying the job and liking the people I work with
  • Being relatively secure in my job
  • Qualifying for long-service leave this year. I just need to decide when and how to use it!
The view from my writing balcony.

The view from my writing balcony.

I’m always leaning towards new prospects and opportunities, but really, staying happy and healthy in my current position will suit me just fine for this year.

Home

Over the past 18 months, I have reorganised my home to be more comfortable and conducive to writing. I’m most of the way through the process, so my main goals for 2015 in this area are to:

  • Finish up the reorganisation, which mostly means:
    • Gutting the dining room and refilling it.
    • Sorting out the old office. It’s going to become a guest room or possibly a beanbag room. Or both.
  • Enjoy my surroundings.
  • Use my writing balcony more.

Health

Ah, the monkey on my back, the fly in my ointment. It hasn’t been good, though I’ve been keeping my head above water (which I judge by my ability to keep going to my day job). I’m hoping to do some investigations into potentially helpful avenues, depending on cost, and will mostly keep trying to look after myself.

 

Writing!

This is what we’re really interested in, right? What writing am I hoping to achieve this year? A tricky question, because I’m not sure if I should continue to aim high, or learn from last year and be more conservative.

I guess, at the end of the day, this is a list of things I want to achieve. So let’s start there!

Starwalker

The StarwalkerAfter a hiccup in the latter part of 2014, Starwalker Book 4 is still under way. I’m still loving writing it, too. My aim is currently to finish up Book 4 and get to the end of the current arc.

My plan has always been to stop there. I’ve got the kernels of ideas for Book 5 brewing (the seeds are being planted in Book 4), but there’s not enough there to write. Yet. I don’t believe in starting blindly; I won’t write without knowing what it is I’m writing (I’ve done this before and it doesn’t work for me). It’s simply not ready.

On top of that, I have been writing Starwalker for 5 years now (!!!). I am immensely proud of that, and I’m just as in love with it now as I was when I started. But it’s time for a break. I’ve got projects piling up on my to-do list that I would love to get to, and right now, I don’t have headspace to seriously write more than one at a time.

So what does this mean? It means I’ll be putting a pin in Starwalker after Book 4 is complete. I may come back to it one day, but I’ll be taking a rest from it.

If I get the itch to play in the Starwalker realm, I may well continue building the Shorts. I have a list and an idea for most of them, and shorts are a good way to capitalise on downtime.

I may also look into publishing options. Self? Traditional? Kickstarter-funded? All good questions to consider.

Vampire Electric

I made good progress on this last year, and I want to capitalise on that this year. My long-term goal is to:

  • Complete the second draft (currently about 50% done) and get to the end of the story
  • Do an analysis of the draft and see how happy I am with it, and what work it needs. It might need to be broken up into multiple novel-sized chunks.
  • Serialise the third draft, editing and reworking as I go.

For 2015, I want to work on the first of those bullet points. It’s going to be a big story; if current patterns hold true, I’ve got about 100,000 words left to write. This means I’m unlikely to finish it this year, but I’ll probably work on it as my NaNoWriMo project again and make a good-sized dent in the remainder.

Apocalypse Blog

The Apocalypse Blog Book 1: End of the Old

The Apocalypse Blog Book 1: End of the Old

These ebooks have been out for a while, and I’ll be honest: I’ve let them languish. I have edits I need to do to them, and new covers to apply, and new blurbs to write. I need to adjust the pricing and try to lift their market presence.

In all, it’s probably not a huge amount of work (though with marketing, it’s a bit of a black hole, so we’ll see), but I want to set aside the time and mental space to do it.

Vampire Victim Support Group

This is a lot of fun, and because they’re shorts, I’m hoping to be able to fit them in between other stuff. I’ve got a list of them roughly mapped out, and hope to expand the series over the next year. I’ve also got some big-picture ideas (the original idea was a group of loosely-connected vignettes, and I’ve started pondering ideas for the connective material), but we’ll see where that goes.

Tales from the Screw Loose

This project (otherwise known as the ‘robot brothel story’) has been lurking for a while and is almost in a state that’s ready to write. Talking with a friend about it recently, it’s easy to get enthusiastic and excited about it. It’s not going to be a short or quick project (current plan have a rough trilogy outlined), so this will take some investment. Probably a good one to serialise.

I’m not confident of my ability to get to this in 2015. The projects listed above could easily fill up the year, and I’m not in a place where I’d put this at the top of my list.

Chances are, what I’ll do is see whether I could cope with a second serial when I get to the stage of serialising Vampire Electric. That probably won’t be this year. So Screw Loose will remain on hold, for now, but not forgotten.

Other Stuff

I’m not entirely sure what this covers. I know I talked last year about putting anthologies together, but I really don’t have the mental energy for a project like that this year. Or at least, right now. I think the list above is plenty to keep me busy; everything else is on hold. Backburners. I’ll fight the urge to get distracted by squirrels and shiny objects.

I will add that I’m hoping to be a bit more regular with posts on this blog. I let a few things languish last year, so I’m aiming to be better this year. Finish what I start, which means putting up a lot of posts currently sitting as half-finished drafts. I’m getting there, one step at a time. Watch this space!

 

Writing Events and Community Stuff

I’m still very active in my local writing community. And by ‘active’, I mean that I organise a bunch of events, get people together, and have a load of writing-related fun. I have no intention of changing this. My writing friends are a constant source of support, amusement, inspiration, and comfort. I wouldn’t trade them for the world.

Monthly Writing Group and Write-in

That said, I am changing things up this year. The monthly events I run are successful and working, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t be better. I have spread the events out over the month, sharing the load around a bit, and I’m hoping that will wind up being better for my health (previously, the two big monthly events were on the same weekend, which was a big, tiring time for me). It also spreads the cost of the events, which will help many of my attendees.

Writer’s Retreat

The view from our balcony. Gorgeous. (Photo: mine)

The view from our balcony. Gorgeous.
(Photo: mine)

After the turnout and feedback we got last year, my co-ML (Municipal Liaison – I have a wonderful friend who helps me to organise the events) and I are in discussions about whether we will do another one this year. The main issue seems to be the cost and getting time away from family commitments. We can’t do anything about the latter, and we work to keep the prices as low as possible, but at the end of the day, if it’s not working, we need to be honest about it.

We’re looking at other ideas and options, and it’s likely that we’ll try something new and different this year. Cross your fingers for us! I’m sure it’ll be fun, if a lot of work, but it’s always worth it.

Writers’ Asylum

This has been a lot of fun over the past couple of years, and I’m aiming to run another one this year. I took feedback last year and have some ideas for how to change it up, so there’ll be a new setup this time. I’ve got the theme in mind and I think I know what the challenges should be. I’m hoping to make it fun for everyone who gets involved.

That’s everything! It’s a big list, now that I look at it all in one place. I’m both a little daunted and utterly ready to get going. So much to do, why waste time?

Let’s go. Let’s make 2015 better than 2014. Onwards and upwards, my friends.

I hope you’ll all join me on the journey.

What do you think of this post?
  • Awesome (0)
  • Interesting (0)
  • Useful (0)
  • More pls (0)
Share

Retrospective: the year that was 2014

The awesome writing balcony! Magic happens here. And cats.

The awesome writing balcony! Magic happens here. And cats.

Hard to believe that it’s already 2015. Sheesh! So much has happened, and yet, not anywhere as much as I had hoped.

2014 was a frustrating year for me. Struggles with my health meant struggles with everything else… but let’s take an honest look at what I accomplished last year, compared to what I set out to do.

I have been so grateful for the support and help of my family, friends, and readers this year. They have helped me achieve the house stuff, sent me well-wishes, and supported me when I was flagging. I don’t ask for help often or easily – I’m a very independent person – and I’ve needed a lot of it over the past year. Thanks to everyone who has been there, including those of you who I only talk to through a screen. Your words, your time, and your attention are always appreciated.

Home/life stuff:

  • Day job – it continues, it’s going well, and I’m still utterly grateful for it. 🙂
  • Big house change-around – not complete yet, but I’ve got the main parts tidied up and working. In 2014, I finally got a whole bunch of my comic book art framed and up on the walls, and I set up an awesome writing balcony for myself. Love that balcony, it’s wonderful. Still a bunch of work to go to ‘finish’ the change-around, though.
  • Beating my health with a stick – it has been more like the other way around. Bah. 🙁

Writing stuff:

  • Starwalker Book 4 didn’t quite go to plan. Due to health stuff, there were more delays and interruptions than I like, enough that I was frustrating myself. Late in the year, thanks to a few factors (I haven’t written a post about this yet, have I? I should do that), the fourth chapter took a bit of a turn down a dark alley, and proceeded to drag its feet, sucking and slurping along until I put a pin in it. I took a break from it for about six weeks, and I really needed that time to get my head straight and come back to the story fresh. The fourth book has had a little bit of retconning done and is now back on track, humming along on a much better path.
  • Other Starwalker stuff – hasn’t really happened, mostly because Book 4 took much longer than expected, especially with the break and reset of a section. Nope, haven’t edited any of it, or done any more shorts yet.
  • Vampire Electric – the second draft is coming along nicely! It was my NaNo project for 2014, and it is currently sitting at about 100,000 words. Disturbingly, I’m only about halfway through the story. It’s going to be a long one! I’m pleased with how it’s going, though, and looking forward to getting back to it at some point.
  • Other projects – all pretty much on hold. With my health as it is, I just haven’t had the mental bandwidth to deal with multiple projects at the same time. Writing a web serial means that I have to have my attention pretty much glued to Starwalker the whole time. I don’t consider this a bad thing – I still love to write Starwalker – but it is a restriction. I did a little poking around on the edges of a couple of projects, planning a few things out, but nothing substantial. Yet.
  • This blog – I didn’t have any particular goals around this, but updates have been spotty at best. I really should do better. I have a whole list of things I want to write about but just didn’t get to.

Writing community stuff:

  • My Creative Writing Group is still going strong! We had a lot of fun over the last year, and the turnout continues to be strong. They’re a wonderful bunch of people and I learn a lot with them.
  • I tried something a little different with the Writers’ Asylum this year. It went well! Some changes were made due to feedback from the previous year and they seemed to work well. I got some more feedback and I have a plan to try for the next one. Ideas are in motion.
  • NaNoWriMo went well. I wrote loads, and events were big and crazy, and we spent a weekend on an island again. There were a couple of things that didn’t go so well – a couple of issues with people, which is always a danger when dealing with a big, diverse group, and our TGIO party got rained off – but nothing we couldn’t work around or get past. We tried a couple of new things, and learned some stuff we’ll put into practice next year. On the whole, a successful month.

2014 was pretty hard on me, but looking at it this way, I think I achieved more than I give myself credit for. I think it’s because I had to fight harder than usual to get things done, and I champ at my own restrictions because I demand more from myself than what I’m currently capable of.

I think the most disappointing thing in the whole year was having Starwalker wander off-track and having to retcon to pull it back into line. That upset me, because I try to be better than that. I try not to let the pressures in the rest of my life bleed into my writing, and I failed.

On the other hand, the thing I am most grateful for is the support I got when I took that hiatus and took the time to get my head straight. I often say how wonderful my readership is, and this is just another example of how much they do for me, and how much they mean to me. There was not a single complaint, even when they admitted that they weren’t enjoying the story so much since it started to slide. There was support and encouragement, and understanding. They are what I like to call ‘awesome humans’, and I’m proud to have them as my readers.

I’m also proud that I stood up and took action when the story was going wrong. It took a while for me to admit to myself that I was in a place I couldn’t write my way out of, but once I had, I didn’t hide it. It’s not easy to put your hand up and admit you made a mistake, especially to the people you want to have adore and trust you. So, yes, it sucks that I got into that position and I’ll be doing my damnedest to never be there again. But I think I handled it well – or at least I didn’t suck at it – and it came good in the end.

Perhaps that’s the best thing I can take away from 2014: there were many battles in it, but I got through them and out the other side. I have learned things, and grown, and I’m still pleased to be who I am. Onwards! Into a shiny new year and all the promise that it holds.

What do you think of this post?
  • Awesome (0)
  • Interesting (0)
  • Useful (0)
  • More pls (0)
Share

Time pressure

It feels a lot like this. (Picture by Lisa Brewster)

It feels a lot like this.
(Picture by Lisa Brewster)

So many projects, so little time. I’ve talked a lot on this blog about how much I struggle with my health and fatigue (or at least, it seems that way to me). I work full time to support myself, too, so my available time to write is pretty restricted.

My project list is so long these days. I put the Works in Progress page up recently, and I’m still thinking of things that I should put on there. It’s a page that will be updated pretty frequently, I think.

It’s natural that I get frustrated by the restrictions in my life. I am brimful of stories and struggling to be able to get them down and share them. I have pieces of my heart I’m ready to give away but no hands to hold them in. Not enough spoons to carve them out with.

Okay, that metaphor might have got away from me there. But you get what I mean.

There’s something that happens to me when I feel this way for a length of time. The things I really want to do pile up and up, and I’m constantly tipping them back against the wall: not yet, not yet, wait your turn. I’ll get to you. Just hold on there.

At some point, that pile gets too high. The sheer volume of things I want to do but can’t becomes too much, and it topples. I’m right in there, standing underneath, and I give up and join in, tearing chunks out of the middle and strewing them around. Fine. Fine.

In my head, something shifts. In my chest, something gives way. I say ‘yes, I feel crappy all the time, and I have all these restrictions on me, and it sucks. And you know what? It’s not good enough. I’m sick of missing out on my own life. I want to do *this* and *this* and this other thing over here. And I’m damned well going to do them anyway.’ My brain is suddenly active, alive with urgency and ideas that are usually so far out of my reach.

Outwardly, I have a productive spurt. I write on this blog again, blurt out a stream of things that have been backing up for some time, and wind up scheduling them over days or weeks to spread them out. I clean my house. I sort papers that have been sitting in a messy pile for months. I throw stuff out that I’ve been meaning to get to. I plan out a chunk of a new project. I write shorts. I do some of those things that have been towering over me, blotting out sight of what progress I might be making with everything I’m missing out on.

Chronic fatigue is a tricky thing. Sometimes this is enough to pull me up for some time – weeks, months maybe. Sometimes it only lasts a short time before my energy dwindles again, maybe a weekend if I’m lucky.

That’s sort of where I am right now, on the up-kick of a productive spurt. I’m not sure how long it will last. It feels more forced than usual, driven by more determination than it has been in the past. I’ve been lower for longer lately, and I’m trying to pull myself up out of it.

Part of it is most likely prompted by some help I’m getting at home, and right now, I’ll eke the most out of every opportunity that I can get. If a door is open an inch, I’ll do my damnedest to kick it wide, or even a foot wider. Every little helps.

Right now, I’m feeling really positive. My day job is going well. Starwalker is a bit of a challenge (which I might talk about in another blog post), but I got last week’s post out on time and that’s a victory in my book. My writing group is going well. I spent last weekend hanging out with writer friends, writing. The Writer’s Retreat is coming along nicely. Now the pressure is off at home, I can spare the mental energy for looking into health options.

And I’m getting lots of ideas for stories. Some existing projects, as well as a whole new one.

I have figured out why Vampire Electric wasn’t gelling as smoothly as it should be for me: the villain is too off-screen and away from the action for too much of the story. I need to go back and rethink how he weaves in with the rest of the story and drives it forward. I’m planning to continue work on the second draft of the novel for this year’s NaNoWriMo project, and now I’m in a good position to fix it up when I do that.

I’m getting more clarity on some of the shorts I have on my list for Starwalker. I know roughly what I want to do for each character, but some are clearer than others.

I have an idea for a second VVSG vignette. It niggles at me.

The assassin-centric novel I wrote a few years ago is starting to itch again, too. I have a fairly good idea about how I want the rewrite to go, and how I might start to shift it into the Starwalker universe. With some more background work, I might even be able to work in the Fall of Earth, but that would be a sequel (or even two or three books down the track in that particular series).
More and more often, I’m finding that my stories come out as a series. Not serials, necessarily, but standalone novels seem to get bored in my brain and start breeding. Like dustbunnies (or plotbunnies). If I keep turning the idea over in my hands, I seem to realise there are three or four plots in there, not just one. So many books to write!

For example, Tales from the Screw Loose is now probably a trilogy, and much bigger than just a robot brothel (once I get down into the depths of the second, and definitely in the third, book). Again, the events in Starwalker are pushing this into a larger story (and I think it’s a lot better for it, mostly because straight erotica really isn’t my thing). Sexual politics, the automation of industry, the impact of refugees, entitlement, rebellion…

And then there’s the new story. It’s shiny and novel, and the more my brain picks at it, the more interesting stuff falls out. It’s called Splinter Soul, and the basic premise is that, some time ago, someone broke the world in a fundamental way. Souls are infinite and managed to survive being split when the planet fractured, and now people walk around with only splinters of the souls they should have. There’s magic involved, based around how much of their soul a person has managed to rejoin and what form they are most powerful in, so it’s in a person’s interest to try to find all the splinters of who they really are. The splinters are other creatures, some of them mundane, some of them fantastical. They might also be other people, and there might be dragons. There’s a role for reincarnation to play here, but I’m still figuring out the mechanics of that.

It’s still mostly a world right now, a setting with lots of fun pieces to play with. I’m having fun working it all out, and the mists of a story are forming in the background. I think, for once, I’ll have the antagonist before I have the protagonist nailed down. Maybe I’ll wind up making the villain the protagonist… now, there’s an idea. Ooo.

Just writing out those two paragraphs has given me two or three new ideas I can work in. It is unfolding.

This is how the mind of a writer goes. Right now, mine is firing on… maybe not all cylinders, but let’s call it five out of six (instead of the usual two or three).

I have to be careful not to push too hard. Not to throw too many balls into the air, lest they all fall down. I have to pace myself, at least a little, try to keep things reasonable. I don’t want to push myself into some kind of collapse.
But I do want to push. I want to enjoy this. I have so many toys and I mean to play with them. I want to make the most of this up-swing in productivity while it lasts.

There’ll be a price at some point. I’m borrowing spoons. But hell, I’m going to make it worth it.

What do you think of this post?
  • Awesome (0)
  • Interesting (0)
  • Useful (0)
  • More pls (0)
Share

What am I up to?

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

In an effort to be more proactive about self-promotion, I’ve been thinking about the resources available on this site and upgrading them.

Truly, what I should do is build a new author website and move all this content over there. I already have the domain (melanieedmonds.com), but getting it built is going to be a chunk of work. I’ll need to hire an artist to do the banners I want (I already know what I want to do there). I’ll probably need to learn some more CSS to make it look the way I want, too (or hire someone to do that, and that’s beyond me at the moment, too!).

Rather than hang around and wait for ‘one day’ when I might get to all that, I decided to go ahead and build out this site. At least the content will be easy to transpose, should I get the full author website sorted.

Hence, we now have a handy My Writing section here on this site. What is it? Go take a look, lazy!

…I’m kidding; of course I’ll tell you. It lists the stories I’ve done that you can access right now, with links to my ebooks on every store they’re available as well as the original websites. I’ll be working to expand the links available as I find my way into different stores, libraries, and subscription services.

Under that, the Works in Progress page lists, predictably, the things I’m working on at the moment. I’m hoping to keep this up-to-date as I work through stuff (I change projects so infrequently that it shouldn’t fall behind too often).

You may also note that stuff I’m not actively working on is listed on that latter page, too. This is stuff that I have in the works and mean to get to… sometime. Some of it’s old, some of it’s new, some of it I have talked about before to varying degrees. Most of it is ticking over in my brain in some capacity or other.

Maybe these pages will be a kick up the arse for me to get moving with some of this stuff. Fingers crossed, right?

What do you think? Is this worth doing? Of interest?

Got any comments about the projects that are listed there? Suggestions? Requests? Reactions? I’d love to hear them!

What do you think of this post?
  • Awesome (0)
  • Interesting (0)
  • Useful (0)
  • More pls (0)
Share