How Dark Should I Go?

I’m currently in the planning stage of the third book in the Glyphpunk series, and one of the character arcs is getting darker than anticipated. Possibly darker than I’m comfortable writing.

Reviews of some of my other stories have noted darkness where I haven’t really seen it (one review of Street of Lost Gods said it was too dark for them to continue reading, though they enjoyed what they had read, and I consider that a fairly light story).

I don’t really see much of my work as being dark (though admittedly To Hunt Monsters was intended to be darkish throughout before ending up pitch black, but I was fine with that). So when a story arc feels so dark that I’m concerned it may lose the audience (or the theoretical audience, since the first two books have yet to sell that well), it’s a concern.

Coming into it I was a bit at a loss for what the character could do in this story, though they have a viewpoint that’s probably necessary for the greater story. As I’ve considered it, and been rereading the earlier books, their story has evolved fairly organically. And then it turned dark.

Because of the characters involved, and how what I’ve established about them would play into it, it was fairly easy to establish a dramatic line for the character through the story arc.

How they’d deal with it also threw up possibilities that were so strong I can hardly not consider them, despite their darkness. And they feel dramatically stronger than the other story possibilities presenting themselves.

But as dark as they make the story, I then considered another complication that would push it over the edge into an abyss. A choice so dark, albeit as a logical extension of the preceding choice, that even considering it would probably leave no way back for the character.

Were I go down this path, they couldn’t really have a happy ending. They’d always have this knowledge hanging over them, haunting them.

This wouldn’t be darkness for shock value. It comes from thinking about the situation and the choices available to the characters. It’s who they are. But it’s also how I think they’ll respond to the situations I’d put them in, so it’s ultimately about what I want the story to do. The inclusion of the complication could change the story from dark to something far worse, potentially overshadowing the overall story and tainting the reader’s enjoyment of the work.

I’m not current sure I really want to go there, but having considered the possibility I don’t know that I can ever think of the story without it.

Eternal Fall

I have a short novella out today.

Eternal Fall smallEternal Fall

Thomas Carver fell to his death over a century ago. He’s still falling.
Returning to the world after a while away, he finds himself hunted for the secret of immortality. And the hunters he knows about may only be the start of his troubles, as part of the life he thought he’d left behind catches up to him.
An 18,000 word urban fantasy novella.


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.