Progress Report – August 2015

The silence has been as much lack of inspiration for posts as work, although there has been plenty of that. I’ve completed the first draft of The Monster in the Mirror, the novella sequel to Grey Enigmas. It has a few problems though, which will require serious thinking about.

Firstly, there’s little action. Only one fight scene in fact, and that feel perfunctory. Grey Enigmas didn’t have much, but at least it had tension during the final act. This one is different, and actually feels like more of a relationship story. The murder mystery is still the driving force of the plot, but I’m not sure whether it’s too different from the previous story to satisfy readers. It’s what the story wanted to be, but I’m concerned the story may be an idiot.

Of more specific concern – and this may contain spoilers if I don’t do a significant rewrite – is one of the murders. It involves the killer recording his murder of a media type and then broadcasting it. I wrote the chapter literally hours before the Virginia shootings, and only heard the news in the evening. Which was disquieting. The scene doesn’t have the actual murder, or much detail of it, but it still feels a bit too close. I’m not sure what to do with something like this. It can’t really be dropped, or the victim changed. I’m not sure the recording part can be altered, but it seems the part that’ll be easiest to modify.

I’m going to have to put this one aside a while before I can do anything with it.



While I do have ideas for the next in that series, that’ll probably have to wait until The Monster in the Mirror is in a more fixed state. Plenty of other stuff to do. I have a few in varying states, two which are probably publishable if I can’t find anywhere else to submit them. That’ll mean working on covers, and formatting a print edition for one of them. I have a good idea what I want for one of the covers, but I’m not sure if my artistic skills are good enough to get what I want. I think I’ll set aside the next week to try working on that.

NaNoWriMo is approaching. While I wasn’t sure I was going to do it this year, since it can sometimes lead to me waiting to start writing a project that’s ready to go, I might see how preparation for Glyphmaster, third in the Glyphpunk series, develops by then. It’s been forcing itself into my mind, and is developing some kind of form, so I may be able to develop an outline by the beginning of November. If not, I’ll just do it when I’m ready. At the least that’ll be one thing off the list of things to do. While the second didn’t have a cliffhanger as such, it may have left some questions, so I want to address those. This story should then close off the series, with a fairly definitive ending. Will that make it a trilogy? I’d hope not (they just seem so cliche) but the definition is vague enough that they probably are. I now feel dirty.

Tales of the Thief-City collected edition

The collected editions of the Tales of the Thief-City series are out today. I’d intended leaving them until next month, but forgot the Smashwords sale is on this month. The Smashwords version is therefore entered in the sale and available for free with coupon code SW100.

Tales of the Thief-City smallIt’s been years since Rax Darkthorn escaped the hold of the thief-city, Nexi. The death of a friend, and his own addiction to the secrets that permeate the city, draw him back.

In a city of secrets, dying gods, and doors to everywhere, Rax hunts the shadowy figure manipulating events. A trail that’ll lead him to Nexi’s secret.
Collecting the 12 part series.


Smashwords Summer/Winter Sale 2015

Most of my books are included in the Smashwords Summer/Winter sale running through July.

The Tales of the Thief-City series stories are free using coupon code SW100 as is Grey Enigmas.

The following are available for half price using coupon code SSW50:

The Nexi Meme

The twelfth and final part of the Tales of the Thief-City series is now available.

The Nexi Meme smallThe Nexi Meme

The figure behind Nexi’s troubles revealed, Rax has to halt his machinations before they destroy the city and all within it. But he’s not the only one hunting, and with the Thief-City’s prisoners ready to tear the place apart Rax may not survive the encounter.
The final part of the Tales of the Thief-City series. A 7,500 word fantasy short story.


Progress Report – June 2015

I’ve more or less finished the first draft of the second part of Dwimmerfall (working title). I’m probably going to add a chapter to include a beat in one of the storylines, but otherwise this’ll be set aside until I’m ready to get on with the third, and probably final part of the story.

I still have only vague ideas about what happens, and nothing close to a proper outline. I’m also pretty burned out by what I’ve done so far, so will probably leave it a while and work on something else.

Upcoming Milestone

On Wednesday I’ll be releasing the final short story in the Tales of the Thief-City series, The Nexi Meme. It’ll also be the 50th title I have out in circulation. Only a dozen of those are novels (by some definition).

I’m not sure how I feel about that. It’s a start, I suppose. Or maybe a sign I should do more to try selling them. But that tends to be a time sink that produces few results. It seems to mainly be a matter of luck whether or not your work finds the right reader.

One concern I do have is that I’m writing the wrong stuff. While I do like epic fantasy, and many of my ideas fit into this genre, I don’t tend to write as long as this genre expects. or fantasy in general. I know I’m not too good with descriptive guff, which I also tend to gloss over when reading if they go on too long. They can be more necessary in second world fantasy, where much may be foreign to the reader.

Should I therefore veer my writing towards less fantastical stuff. I do have a thriller for which I have sequel ideas (and it is itself in the same setting as the first novel I wrote, which hasn’t yet been published).

But I don’t see that working unless my subconscious mind, which keeps throwing story ideas at me, plays ball. I write what’s most interesting to me at the moment. Or what was most interesting to me up till the point I started actually writing it. By then it’s more of a slog, and other shinier ideas float past my mind’s eye, but I have to finish the project when it’s started or nothing would ever get finished.

Maybe I’ll try focussing on one genre (other than fantasy) for a while. Get a few books in a series to see if that has any more luck.


What to do Next?

The next immediate thing will be compiling a collected eBook edition of the Tales of the Thief-City series. I have the print edition prepared and proofed, so just need to work on the digital version. I’ll probably release them in August, so I maintain a monthly schedule. I have a few other unpublished things which could probably be knock into shape so I could have something out every month this year, if I want. I’m still undecided.

The ideas fighting for a spot as the next writing project are mainly sequels to my existing stuff. At the forefront I’m getting ideas for a sequel, or sequels, to Grey Enigmas. how the setting will evolve mainly, and exploring new aspects to it. Since I’ve got ideas for a couple of bad guys in it we’re probably talking more than one sequel, and more closely following Grey Enigmas than that book did Grey Engines.Making notes for this will be my primary goal for the next month, seeing whether there’s enough there to spark an outline.

I also need to get around to a third book in the Glyphpunk series. I’d hoped to get on with it soon after Glyphwar, but other ideas pushed their way in. While I’m happy the story was ended cleanly, there were still things that need addressing, and it continues to niggle at me.

The sequel to the aforementioned thriller, Allegiances, has also been bouncing about in my head since I finished that five years ago. there was actually a lot more planned for the setting, but that’ll have to be revised if I ever get around to them.

So July will probably be mainly pre-writing. Or tidying up finished stuff to publish. Or something completely new, if I’m so compelled.


I’ve finished redoing the lost work, and the remaining chapters for that POV character. It was fairly painful.

The thought of the first draft can often be excruciating before I force myself to start the actual writing. Once started, I tend to focus on the writing so the anxieties dissipate.

Rewriting in this way apparently doesn’t do anything for the anxieties. Having had a practice run makes it no easier, as I can’t reference what I wrote in the original.

Are the bits I’m sure were in the preceding chapters actually there, and not in the lost stuff? If I slow down to check every bit I could easily grind to a halt. I’ll just have to hope that I notice any omissions when I come round to the revisions.

Revisions are far easier than rewriting. And the initial writing for that matter. Even if entire tracts have every single word changed, I’m using the same skeleton. Even if I replace or reshape portions of the skeleton, there’s something concrete on the page with which I can work. I’m shaping the story rather than creating it, giving detail rather than expelling this lump of an idea from my mind.

Even before this I was growing disillusioned with the project, which isn’t unusual in the middle of the first draft. It becomes overwhelming, and the flaws are all I can see this close up. The general irritation of rewriting has only made it worse.

I’ll finish writing it though. At least this part, and hopefully the third part after I’ve had a break and worked out the detail of what happens. Then I’ll be able to leave it a while and judge the completed work with a bit of distance. Even if that distance is a few years.

I’m Done with Scrivener

I might have been getting lax with my backups since I started using Scrivener. I used to try and email the word file to my online account at the end of every day of work (I know, I should set up something automated, but the email method also keeps a record of the various drafts). Scrivener doesn’t have a single file unless you compile it, which I do less regularly.

[I’m sure you can see where this is going]

So I was using Scrivener for the second part of the current project (working title Dwimmerfall), since I’m writing it in batches of the chapters for one character at a time. This is one thing for which Scrivener is useful. It flashed up an odd message when closing down, so I reopened it to check. It’d lost a day’s work.

With a little googling (after having copied the text files so I at least had something to work from if it went further askew) I worked out how to recover the last backup. It keeps the last five, so I was fortunately able to restore what had been lost, and was relatively confident in being able to recover should it happen again.

Which it did the next day. Only this time it lost all the text from the project, not just the past few days. And it managed to somehow wipe all five back ups.

I thought I’d lost all of part two, about a month’s work. Fortunately I still had the text download I made following the previous crash. I could copy and paste those back in – the chapter files and titles remained, they just didn’t contain any text – but I’m reluctant to trust a program that could crash every time I turn it off. Even if convinced this was a bug that’d been fixed, I don’t know I’d be happy trusting it, and going through the process of backing things up after only working an hour or so at a time would soon get frustrating.

I’ve left the writing alone for a few days, since the thought of having to redo something done so recently was initially overwhelming. What could I miss out, forgetting that it came there and thinking it came earlier? Of course I could also add things that I hadn’t initially included, but that’s not what I worry about.

I’ll get back to it in a day or two, using Word, and probably do the succeeding chapters for this character before going back to redo the lost ones.

And I should probably think of something more regimented for saving back ups.


For a Few Faeries More

The eleventh part of the Tales of the Thief-City is now available.


For a Few Faeries More smallFor a Few Faeries More

As his machinations rebound on those closest to him, Rax must travel to the hostile lands of faerie. An unwilling observer to the intrigues of the faerie court, he must navigate their treacherous waters in the slight hope of ever leaving again.
Eleventh in the Tales of the Thief-City series. A 5,000 word short story.





Progress Report – May 2015

Most of this month has been taken up fixing the side project I was compelled to write a couple of months back. It’s still third person, which feels better now I’ve added some more scenes (it’s about half again as long, despite cutting some, and novella length).

I redid the final act to make more sense for the lead character. The action now makes sense (to me) as the logical way to resolve the problem. Partly influenced by personality traits that maybe aren’t fully explored here, but I think it works. Most of the rest didn’t need much work, just a few additional scenes to cover the secondary POV character, without them being superfluous.


I might try submitting it to, since they’re currently open for novellas. Their guidelines are slightly odd. They say 30,000 to 40,000 words is the range their looking for, but will consider stuff slightly shorter, although nothing under 17,500. Mine is 18,500, which I’d consider more than slightly shorter. Still, it does seem to be just within the acceptable limit, although I’d assume with reduced chance of being successful (and it’s not in the genre in which they’re most interested).

I’ve been waiting for their imprint to open for submissions again, though I was hoping they’d be accepting longer works. I have a short novel (the 49,000 word Song of Thunder) that’s been sitting around since the end of last year. Since I’d planned releasing the Tales of the Thief-City short stories on a monthly basis it was easier to hold it back and see. If they don’t open to longer submissions by the end of the year I’ll just go ahead and self-publish.


Next up I’ll get back to work on the larger piece I’m in the middle of. I still have the viewpoint chapters of two of the main characters from the second part to do. One was giving me some trouble getting a handle on it, but the break has helped add structure to it in my mind, so hopefully it’ll go smoother now. Then I’ll just have the third part to come up with, from only a few vague ideas.

Publishing wise, the final two parts of the Tales of the Thief-City series are out in the next couple of months. That’ll put my number of titles on Smashwords at 50. Then I should put out a collected edition at some point (the print one is ready to go), and think about getting some of my outstanding projects ready for publishing. At some point.

Duty to Vote

It’s election season here in the UK (thankfully shorter than in other countries, and unfortunately without any open season for hunting politicians [that might make the news time taken up more acceptable and entertaining]) and politicians have again managed to irritate me by spouting off nonsense.

[Rant Warning]

The particular comment in this case was by some politician whose name I don’t recall (and have no intention of learning – remembering who they are only encourages the bastards) who got incensed at people not voting, saying that if they didn’t vote they had no right to complain about what the winning government did thereafter.

I’m not sure whether he’s willfully ignoring the fact that many people probably don’t have the option of a politician who represents their viewpoint, or whether the political classes truly believe their system caters for all viewpoints.

I think my voting area has eight candidates (I’ve already voted by post). Considering how many people are in the area, how can they possibly think this is enough to cover all viewpoints. Yet if there were enough to cover all viewpoints we’d probably have a problem locating the one we wanted among the horde.

And even if by some chance there is one of them who accurately reflects my worldview, why would I ever think they’ll be able to promote that in parliament. To have any chance of effecting change it needs to be a party in power reflecting your viewpoint, so we generally vote by party rather than individual (I can’t even remember the name of the candidate I voted for).

Yet the primary concern of most parties always appears from the outside to be remaining in power, allegedly so they can effect the changes they want. How often do they manage to do things though, and how often do they fail, blaming their opponents for blocking them.

Why then should people be bothered to vote if they can’t vote for what they want? Simply for the right to complain when whoever does get into power does something we don’t like?

Where exactly is the loss of this right enshrined in law anyway? Because I’m sure a politician wouldn’t make such a claim unless it was accurate. Would he make that claim in parliament? Where they can lie regardless.

Are politicians truly so insulated from the real world that they’re unable to understand why people don’t vote? When the main view of them is in that unruly creche of parliament where their primary occupation seems to be shouting each other down. So much for any hope of reasoned mature debate when that’s considered acceptable behaviour for those governing the country.

And it only gets worse in election season, with all the vicious attacks on each other rather than giving a good idea of what they’re going to do. But since the system is opposed to them making changes anyway, how can they promise anything.

While I did vote by post, I’m not sure I could have been bothered if I had to travel somewhere to do so. Until there’s a party that’ll try to change the system to a proper direct democracy, I doubt there’ll be any politician who’ll represent my viewpoint, so I’m stuck choosing the least objectionable option, and changing nothing.

But at least I retain the right to complain about it.