Category Archives: Progress

September Progress Update

Stack Of Books

I published Alienity back at the end of July. The process of publishing went very smoothly as did the preparation of the paperback using Vellum. I’m not going to publish the paperback for a while until I have more paperbacks ready for publishing. In Ireland, copies have to be sent to the British Library, three other Libraries in the UK if they request them within a year, to Trinity College and several other university libraries across Ireland so the exercise can get pretty expensive.

I am very happy with the stories themselves, particularly The Chosen One. I wrote it from scratch three times from different perspectives, but it clicked together over the summer. I wrote my favorite line ever as part of the edit. I had an ending in my mind from the start, came to dislike it, sought something different, but in the end I gave the story the honest ending it deserved. The tension really adds to the story.

For me, publishing can be a type of release. These stories no longer flutter about the inside of my head, distracting me, demanding my attention, taunting me with their ephemerality. Now that they are released into the wild, my debt to them has been paid and I am finally free of them.

The other bit of news is I finished the first draft of Book Five of my five book fantasy series following on from my short story No Escape. It was really exciting to write those last couple of chapters. They had played out in my mind for so long. It’s the (first draft) culmination of a long writing journey (eighteen months). There was only one small problem. There were several threads left dangling that didn’t fit into the  main arc but demanded on being brought to a proper conclusion. I think a reader will might feel cheated if I don’t resolve them so I am working a sixth book. This will actually be the fifth book in the series. The full first draft of this should be done by Christmas and then work on the second draft of the whole series will begin.

Introducing Alienity

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Here’s the blurb of my new collection of short stories.

H.G. Wells faces judgment by one of his creations. The Earth’s first tour guide for aliens encounters the planet’s worst ever tourist. The fate of Humanity lies in the hands of the most isolated man in its history. The Kefloins, having secured membership to the Galactic Congress for the Earth, now turn to the planet’s ambassador with their most terrible secret in the hope she can find a solution.

Four short stories about aliens ranging from humorous to deadly somber.

Currently available on Amazon.

2018 in Review & Plans For 2019

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It’s been a busy 2018. Despite nothing published, I made a huge amount of progress. At the start of 2018, my plan was to plot Books 4 & 5 of my WIP, finish firsts drafts of Book 1 and 2, and get as far as I could through the first draft of Book 3. I actually finished Book 3. I wrote a total of 183,074 words over the year.

Book 3 came together much easier than Book 2 had. I had planned to finish it by the end of January 2019, but I actually finished before New Year’s Day. It shares the same primary setting with Book 1 and there are only two POV’s. The villain is a real nasty piece of work. Book 3 was a bit shorter than the previous books (55k) but I have no doubt it will plump up in size. I actually was so comfortable with my progress, I took Christmas Day off, the first day without writing since March.

Sticking to a defined and practical plan really helped me last year. Every day, I could see a little more progress being made and at the same time I had a minimum target to work to.

This year’s plan is to write the first drafts of Books 4 & 5. I’m already almost a quarter of the way through Book 4. I also plan to outline three other books and write the first draft of one of them. I also hope to get some more short fiction done.

Progress Update

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Hi Everyone,

I’ve been so busy I haven’t had a chance to write an update in a long time, but rest assured I’m writing every day. I am currently working on a new fantasy series which follows on from my short story, No Escape. A few people asked about writing longer stories in the same setting, but initially I was skeptical because the original story had always intended to be standalone. Then, a conception for Magian the Infinite popped into my head and the story began to take shape. I took various locales and ideas I had in the back of my mind and filled out the world massively.

I gave myself a month to outline the book, a chapter a day. I had tried outlining before and it never really worked for me. I found it too constrictive. The pressure to tick all the ‘boxes’ irritated me, so I decided I’d simply pants the outline, or ‘plants’ if you will. Every chapter had to propel the story, and there had to be a beginning a middle and end. I kept the POV characters down to two.

After a month, I was really happy with the thirty-plus chapter outlines I had produced. Everything folded together pretty well. It worked as a standalone story and yet I could tell there was a lot of story left so I immediately started to work on outlining two sequels.

The outline of the second book was a bit more of a struggle. There were now three POV’s for various reasons. The setting was too open. When anything can happen, it’s harder to get traction on the story. Some of the early chapters were too loose, but the story gelled nicely about halfway through. At the end of the month, I had a full outline of 30-plus chapters finished.

The outline for the third sequel took only a month as well. There were some pacing issues (it moved too fast in places, at least in outline), but I felt it was pretty solid by the time I finished it. But, almost from the beginning, I knew there would be a need for a fourth book. That fourth turned into two.

So, after five months, I had outlines for a five book series. Each outline took 25 hours, give or take. I probably saved time spreading its development out over a month. My sub-conscious had time to mull over each chapter in a way it never would have if I had done it in a more concentrated time span.

Now, the real work had to begin. I started work on the first draft of the first book. I have a lot of other commitments (family, work, etc.) so I set myself a goal of writing at least five hundred words a day. And I stuck to that commitment.

The one rule I set myself was that I would have no ritual, no special time or place or mug for my coffee. If I was going to do this, I couldn’t give myself any excuses not to work. All I needed was either my computer or my phone. I used Scrivener on both so I could always work on the project directly. I found it extremely easy to use my phone as I was already used to reading pretty long novels on it.

Over the next four months, my muse brooked no excuses. Tired? Write the five hundred. Busy day. Write the five hundred. Not inspired. Tough, five hundred. Holidays, five hundred. At times, it might have been convenient to simply waffle five hundred empty words, but my conscience wouldn’t let me. Each day, the progress had to be real.

That’s not to say it was perfect. It was a first draft after all. There were lots of things I was unsatisfied with. But the important thing was I knew how to fix them. There was nothing in there that I feared. I solved any problems of that ilk as I came across them.

The outline worked out pretty well. There was the odd plot point that had to be dropped. For example, it quickly became clear that a letter supposed to be important to the plot couldn’t work, so that was scrapped for something better. Overall, very little strayed from the original outline.

At the end of four months, I had my first draft (63k). It had taken 156 hours. I immediately moved on to the next book. I didn’t even take a day off.

Book 2 felt much tougher. Remember the problems I had with its outline. I really struggled for the first third. The outline for those early chapters quickly went out the window.  The subplot fitted together nicely though and by the time I reached the end of the book, I could see pretty well how to fix most of the early issues. Also, even though I felt that I really struggled with it and that it had taken a lot longer to progress, in actuality, the first draft (61k) was finished a week early and took only 115 hours, three quarters of the time the first book took. It’s good to keep track of these things, not as a stick to beat myself with, but as an objective guide to my progress so I don’t have to depend on feelings but hard facts.

I’m about a week ahead of my original schedule for book 3. There’s still a long way to go, but I feel confident.

 

February Update: If the Devil is in the detail, then editing can be like an exorcism.

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Finishing the 2nd draft of novel codenamed Spaghetti 1 at about 70k words, I immediately started on the 3rd draft. This draft will work through the detail of the story. I have the skeleton but it needs to be fleshed out in a lot of places. The organs are there, but some are too small or too big or in the wrong place.

This draft is also about making decisions. I must expunge the narrative scars of ideas that went nowhere. The 2nd draft had a level of ambiguity. For example, two mutually exclusive ideas might have been allow to coexist, I have to now choose, one way or the other. Where there are conundrums in the narrative, I have to solve them as I go along, even if it means taking a few steps backward at times. And of course, any decision can set off an avalanche of new ones. And new ideas are coming, better ideas than before, that must be accommodated in the story as if they had always been part of it.

And every detail needs to be carefully indexed so I don’t have to wade through pages of  text later, getting that horrible drowning feeling, to confirm I’m not contradicting myself. From dress to character, from motive to tea preference, everything must be made consistent.

It’s slow. It can be tedious. But is it worth it? Yes. It’s fantastic to see the story take shape, the characters come alive, and the blur come into focus.

September Update

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I really must write these updates more often.

When I wrote the last one in June, I was working on the first part of a LitRPG trilogy, codenamed Spaghetti 1, 2, & 3. I now have first drafts of the first two completed and am currently half-way through the third.

The first book is kind of typical for LitRPG with some twists. The main character, starting off at the lowest skill level, must defeat a local (player) boss to win his freedom. The world is kind of like a typical fantasy MMORPG (for me). The focus is on the player interactions. The length of the first draft is about 49k words. It needs a lot of work, but hopefully, there’s enough in there to keep the reader interested.

Spaghetti 2 is a much different beast. It has a much more epic scope and the typical tropes kind of fall away a bit. Wait till you see the setting! Dante’s Inferno was a big influence on the story but I really let my imagination run riot. The action takes place in a locale we briefly visit in the first book. The main character is more advanced in this one but so are his surroundings. He’s up against much more powerful players with godlike powers. The first draft came in at 40k but it is absolutely packed with action. I don’t see any problem expanding it into full novel length.

Spaghetti 3 is an apocalyptic story. The end is nigh for the game world. At this stage, the main character is very advanced, the head of a powerful clan. A lot of seeds sown in the first and second books will reach fruition. This book will take a lot of work because given Book 2 is so epic, I have work out how to dial the third up to eleven.

I decided to write the three books to first draft so that I can see how all the various elements fit together. Although the three books have very different plots, I want to give them a cohesive tone.

Once the first draft of the third book is complete, I’ll be splitting my time between redrafting the books and writing new stuff. At times having so many ideas for projects is frustrating. If only I could get them all written and released. But I never publish anything without it being as good as I can make it.

On the short story front, I made The Fate Healer wide and free. I am in the process of doing the same with a new horror short story called The Murder Seat. I wrote it originally about three years ago. It’s set in recessionary Dublin in the 1980s. Hopefully, people will enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. 🙂