A Photo of a Pirate Ship

So far, 2015 has been a hectic year. For me there’s been a lot going on and a lot of stress from various different sources. The end of the year heralds more of the same, but for now I find myself in a little bubble of calm. The issues that have been causing bother have, for the most part, been resolved as best they can be. On top of that, I’ve just come back from a lovely little holiday to the seaside town of Whitby. It’s amazing the benefit of stepping back from everything can have. A proper chance to clear one’s head, be removed from the stresses of everyday life. I have come back feeling rejuvenated mentally and ready to make the most of this period of calm.

Now, I said a while ago that a serial would be getting posted to the blog and you’ve probably guessed from this long period of silence that that has changed. With slightly growing confidence in the piece in question, I’ve decided to try submitting it to a few places to see if anything comes of it. The idea of my work reaching a larger audience – as well as the prospect of getting some writing credentials – is both exciting and scary. Apparently when there isn’t enough stress in my life I have to create some! Still, it’s a positive step in my ultimate goal of becoming a published novelist.

So, my rejuvenated brain power at present is going towards polishing up two short stories for submission – watch this space! And, of course, the ongoing work on Through the Black continues. I received such a volume of fantastic constructive feedback that I’m still in the process of plugging in comments and my current fixes for those issues. It’s a long and ever evolving process that I hope to talk about in an upcoming post. Now that things have settled a little I hope to get inspiration for a few more posts before life overwhelms me again. I won’t make any promises on specific topics as I’m apparently terrible at following them through. I will however try and work up to being semi-regular again.

For now though, here is a picture of a lost pirate ship.

Ahoy!

Ahoy!

Withdrawing From Camp

Tis with a heavy heart that I am officially withdrawing from July Camp NaNoWriMo 2015. As much as I would have loved to be able to do the things I had hoped to this month, it just is not going to happen. This is partly due to coming out of a very stressful time recently – I thought I had recovered from that but apparently not. More time is needed and so reducing my stress and responsibilities seems like the most sensible option right now.

My project for the month was to edit 50k words of Twyned Earth Book 2. While it is something I desperately want to complete, I have been having such a difficult time working on it. Not because I am fatigued with the project itself but because there are too many distractions – both in my writing life and outside of it. For once, the distractions inside my writing life are actually favourable. With all the feedback I’ve been getting for Through the Black, I’ve been feeling so inspired to start work on the next draft. There is a lot to do and thanks to my beta readers I have some great ideas for the novel. It’s a nice change to be feeling compelled to work on the novel I have closest to a querying position as sometimes it feels like I’ll never move forward. I feel trapped in limbo and that I’ll be here forever, never able to commit and complete a project fully – not a great feeling when already stressed about other things too!

It was only this year that I finally came to the realisation that I truly want to become a published author. Since this realisation, I’ve felt a lot of pressure.

Before writing was my hobby, it was what I did for fun. It didn’t matter if my writing was atrocious or if my drafts never reached a standard worthy of the light of day. Enjoyment was the sole reason I wrote so what did it matter as long as I was having a good time? I could work on all the side projects I wanted to, never even knowing where they would go. It didn’t matter. It was FUN.

Now, suddenly, two things have changed. I have to be good and I have to finish. Both are ridiculously scary, especially as publishing is a long game. Fantastic authors wade through piles of rejections before landing an agent. After that, it has to start getting sent to publishers for more of the waiting game. Then, if you’re lucky and good, you get your publishing deal. Then it can be another year -or more!- to wait on top of everything else before your book ever comes near a shelf. It’s fairly harrowing. It took me a long time to finally figure out what I want to do with my life, so long that I feel like I’m already behind.

Which is why I’m chuffed to have got some inspiration to continue work on Book 1. There’s still a long way to go before that’s going to be ready for agent hunting – but some day it will be. I need to focus on that, and not how far away that day is. In my present frame of mind, I really feel like I want to work on something that will bring me closer to my end game – not put more time between me and it. As such, my current plan now is give up on NaNo this month and leisurely resume work on Through the Black – when I’m ready. No deadlines for myself yet. It’s time for some much needed R&R and just generally straightening out my head. I’ve been neglecting my mental health a little too much recently and it’s time for that to change.

Character Profile: Tony

Portrait of Tony by OlieBoldador - commissioned by a close friend

Portrait of Tony by OlieBoldador – commissioned by a close friend

Story: Twyned Earth Series, first appearance in Through the Black.

Protagonist or Antagonist?: Protagonist

Name: Tony

Age: 45

County of Origin: Aigorshuck, Sarn

Occupation: Unemployed. Nothing shady going on here. Nooooope.

Loyalties: Family, and one or two close friends

Goal: Save the world.

Morals: Strict, if skewed. There are some things you just don’t do. Try to keep the civilians out of it. Don’t hurt kids and kill anyone who does. And if there’s the risk of a world war starting, ugh, guess you try and help.

When Tony’s best friend decides he wants to stop a war, he supposes he should probably tag along. After all, Michael’s an idiot and Tony’s got connections. Totally legit connections, you understand, but they could come in handy – especially when things get heavy.

It’s easy to underestimate a man who’s four inches tall. Someone’s in for a big surprise.

The Resolution Update

So, about six months ago you might remember me making THIS blog post about new year’s resolutions! Well, since we’re half way through the year and I don’t have a whole lot else to say at present, here’s an update to keep myself accountable.

1.) Start maintaining this blog again.

It’s not been perfect, and there hasn’t been posts every week,  but a total of fourteen posts so far this year (not including this one) means I’ve been doing a much better job than I did last year! I’m hoping to try and pick things up again as I’ve been slowing down, but as of next week I should have a short story ready to go up in three instalments to keep you all (hopefully) entertained!

2.) Send Twyned Earth Book 1 to beta readers.

Mission accomplished! Not only accomplished but I also have almost ALL of my beta feedback now! Huzzah! There will be a full post about this, hopefully by the end of the month, but for now I will simply say a massive thank you to all my beta readers. Current work has moved onto the editing of Book 2 and the plotting of this year’s stand alone NaNoWriMo project.

3.) Lose some weight.

Due to lots of sickness at the start of the year this one started pretty late but now that it has it’s actually going very well! I’ve lost 43 % of the weight I’m currently aiming to drop. If I hit my target, I might lower it after spending some time there, depending on how I feel.

4.) Keep up with blogs.

Getting better, even if that has devolved into binge reading a whole month’s worth of posts at once. That still counts, right? This is one I need a bit of a kick up the backside with, just so that I don’t lose whole evenings where I’m supposed to be working or playing Xenoblade Chronicles. What?

Now what about you guys? How are your resolutions/goals going?

Character Profile: Ashlyn

Portrait of Ashlyn Hearn

Portrait of Ashlyn Hearn

Story: One Dead Prince

Protagonist or Antagonist?: Um, yes

Name: Ashlyn Hearn

Age: 26

County of Origin: Northern Eirach

Occupation: Herbalist and phony fortune teller

Loyalties: None

Goal: Power

Morals: Possibly

Incarceration for witchcraft and the sentence of death briefly set Ashlyn back in her hunt for a creature of great power. When the kingdom of Eirach is invaded by the Avinbourgers though, she sees the opportunity for escape and jumps at it. Enlisting the help of a bounty hunter to travel far away from the city, she briefly abandons the goal she has been working so hard towards. That is, until they come across a man who knows the true fate of the late Prince Tiernan and suddenly the pieces of a new plan all fall together with even less risk than she could have hoped for.

After all, it’s hardly a sacrifice if you won’t miss them, is it?

Alternate Editing

Another round of NaNoWriMo bites the dust and this CampApril15 brought One Dead Prince to 75% completion. That’s pretty exciting me for me since this is such a huge project. I’m used to a first draft being around the 50k mark and then added to during editing. This one is probably going to hit 220k during the final part, which is quite different to what I’m familiar with.

The editing process is different for everyone and one of the big reasons for that is that everyone drafts differently as well. It turns out for me that drafting is wildly different for certain projects too.

Take Through the Black for example. The first draft of this was just breaking 54,000 words and was the very barest bones of a novel. There was absolutely no description of anything and very little internal thought from the main character – something very conspicuously missing in a first person novel. There was not enough challenges for the characters and things worked way too easily for them. The story was there though, and that was what I needed. The editing process saw me adding in forty thousand words, almost doubling the manuscript. I am certain that during round two of edits some of those will need to be shed but what I have now is leaps and bounds more fun and interesting than what I had before.

One Dead Prince is a completely different kettle of fish. There are some sections with long winded and dull descriptions (but still places where description is completely absent) as well some huge internal monologues where the characters ponder everything and anything and quite frankly put me to sleep. There is a lot of repeated information from different character views and a lot of things that are explicitly stated when they don’t need to be. When it comes to editing, I’m going to find it pretty easy to know where to cut a few thousand words.

So where did these differences come from?

These two stories, while both being of the fantasy genre, have very little in common. Through the Black is a fast paced action adventure type thing where as One Dead Prince is a epic spreading across a whole year and following several different groups of people with multiple different plot arcs.

The first draft of Through the Black was written very quickly and bare boned because it was important for this story to follow the flow of the action. With One Dead Prince there is a lot more of what I would call ‘padding.’ This isn’t because I really wanted to jack up my NaNo word count (though that always helps) but because with everything going on I found it necessary to explain in detail what a character was thinking as well as their motivations and reasoning for the sometimes strange things that they do. It is such a big story with enough complexities that I needed to leave information about why and how things were happening for future reference.

With one story, I needed to blast to the end just to know what happened and how it happened. With the other, there’s so much going on that the manuscript had to be littered with passages which really are nothing more than notes to myself. For the first I needed to go back and turn the framework of a novel into a novel. When I edit the latter, I will be using these little notes to myself to tweak things earlier and later in the MS before just cutting them out altogether. Two very different approaches to get the same result – a hopefully half-decent novel.

It’s funny the things you think about when you should be writing. Have you noticed differences in your writing styles for different projects? What sort of observations have you made?