Jellied Eels

So I lost five days solid of cranking out the post-apoc tale. Nothing could be done about it, life just swaggered in through the door and got in my way. My thousand words a day minimum dried up into a festering ball of fish crap and lay on the counter, choking me with its stink. Still, this isn’t a mournful post where I curse the restraints on my time. Quite the contrary, in fact.

See, Eel Town is about as organic as it comes. I sit at my desk, pop open the word processing app and start slamming keys. Sure, it works at around the tune of 1k words per day (did I just say that?) Sometimes things go a little higher. For the better part of a week, they went a whole lot lower (I definitely just said that). Luckily, I’m a filthy little word cheat who likes to keep a project or two on the side.

While smashing out my second post-apoc western, I’ve been scribbling notes for an idea based on the old superhero jive. No, I haven’t read a comic in the better part of 30 years (Elf Quest, if you’re interested), but I’ve seen a lot of superhero movies (Orchid loves them).

Part of the reason I’ve been twitching on an outline is I noticed that although going in blind is one big bucket of crispy fried fun, it’s also damned slow. When I started this blog, I set myself a challenge of writing a 17.5k novella in 24 hours. With only 5 hours of plotting to hand, I managed to crash out that word count in less than 12. That’s a big difference in productivity (although it is kinda offset by the amount of ideas I trash at the planning stage), so I wondered if I had a kinda project-on-the-side, I’d pay less attention to the inner critic as I wasn’t working on my ‘proper’ story.

Turns out, as ideas go, it wasn’t so bad. Although I’m miles behind my previous record of 17.5k (commitments, who’d have ’em?), I have punched out 4k words since sitting down to write this morning. Since this little romp into vigilante justice is set to be about 20k long, I’ve completed 20% of the project in on sweat-soaked sitting.

What does all this waffling mean? Not a lot really, but also maybe something important. See, Tin Man (working title, obviously) is now my main project. Since my crystal ball is a little cracked, I can estimate completion by the end of the month. ‘Course, life’s a bit crazy this year, so maybe I’ll get it done by the time the kids really start chatting about Santa. If I get a lot more days like today though, I’ll be hitting that publish button a whole lot sooner.

In case you care about Eel Town, I’ve not abandoned it completely. Visser’s crouched in the mud, staring into the barrel of a sawed-off and wondering how the hell he got there. It’s an interesting position, but I’ll have to wait before I find out where it’s going. I’m enjoying both the setting and characters, so I’ll definitely return, but since it’s looking to be a (possibly) novel-length work, I’ll pick it up when Tin Man’s done. Chances are though, I’ll work on another bit on the side while I’m at it. Writing blind and plotting on the side seem to be an excellent productivity tool.

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Transmission Delayed

I’m thinking of retitling the blog.

Back in August, I had reached the last stages of editing a collection of sci fi shorts. I’d also started work on a longer space opera piece that involved swaggering through distant galaxies trying to not get shot up by bloodthirsty pirates. I probably gave working titles and expected publication dates to any who come here. As usual, when the appointed hour arrived, I was nowhere in sight. Unfortunately, I find myself on the sidelines of a legal dispute. Orchid’s ex is not only an idiot, but also the lowest form of scum. His constant imput into our lives is becoming more than a little troublesome. 

Luckily (?), due the current economic uncertainty in this fair, triangular isle to the west of Gaul, I’ve had very little work since my last post and have had plenty of time to engage in a battle that I don’t particularly want and, with Twain’s famous words in mind, probably can’t win.
Hopefully, the above will be explanation enough as to why my output dropped below my customary ‘not very much’. 
As with everything in life, there are peaks to counteract the troughs. A few days ago, I read an article on Dean Wesley Smith’s website (search pulp speed to find it). It’s a brief look at the jaw-dropping output of the ‘old timey’ masters who lived well (enough) on a cent a word. After reading it, I opened my kindle and devoured DWS’s book Writing into the Dark.
As ever, Mr Smith’s book filled me with the urge to get down the words that had been lurking at the edges of my brain fog. With every page I finished, I remembered why I started writing over 3 decades ago, how much I get from it and how stupid I’d been to worry myself into mental paralysis. 
I doubt Mr Smith’s section on overcoming the inner critic was written with the intention of reminding a hack across the Atlantic that the only way to overcome obstacles is roll up one’s sleeves and imitate Dr. David Banner’s less socially aware alter-ego, but there you have it.
For a little under a week, I’ve been working on a project set in the same universe as Scavenger Hunt. It’s not a sequel, but I’ve managed to grind my teeth and churn out around 1000 words. Admittedly that’s not a touch on Smith’s Pulp Speed 1, but it’s an improvement on recent tallies and something I damned well intend to continue.
Again, of course, troughs dwell behind the peaks and today I had to bury my poor cat.
Maybe I should retitle the blog after all.

Man, I say this A LOT!

July huh? When did that happen? I’m guessing right after June, but these days I can never be quite sure. Still, it’s only 3 months since I last updated so…

So anyway, things are awesome! The construction firm has had three months so flat that I almost poured maple syrup on them. So many keys have come off my writing machine that I’ve had to stash it in file 13 and I’m growing a bloody rhino horn. 

Despite my new snout adornment, the failing business (technically I picked up 2 contracts today, so I can eat next month) and a bout of Venusian flu, I have actually managed to get some writing done.

 I didn’t keep up my book a month game  (I’ve always had a habit of setting goals I can’t reach), but I do have a collection of short fiction in various genres ready to roll. It’s edited, formatted and just waiting for some cover art (obviously I spout about it when I’m done).

Also, I’m currently (well, not right this second) working on a bit of space opera. It goes a little something like this:

After being abandoned on a freight-hub world, a mercenary spends his time hunting vermin to gain enough money to get his kit out of hock and his arse off world. After turning down worm as a hired gun due to some personal reasons, he crosses a bunch of pirates, he finds himself picking up the gig he wanted to avoid.

There’s more to it, and it’s coming along nicely. Of course, I’d like to get it done and out by the month’s end, but we both know late August is more realistic. Again, I’ll keep you posted.

I think that’s enough from me, mostly because my take-away has arrived.

Updates. Updates. Not a lot of Updates!

Well February went fast. Shifted out the window with the speed of a greased-up burglar. I wanted to get an update on here every week of this year, but I guess that shifty little tea leaf made off with all my time and motivation.

Actually, I have plenty of motivation, it just happens to be for other projects. In my last update I mentioned my good buddy is currently living it large in China and before he left I said I’d drop him a novelette/novella every month he’s away.

The first Chinese Offering is coming along strong. I’m about 40% through the second rewrite and still set to finish up E.O.B Monday. As usual my weekend is jam packed busy, but to (mis)quote the anathema of my youth you gotta live while you’re alive and sleep when you’re dead.

The first offering will be one of six. The current is a two-fisted pulp horror yarn featuring a messed up smuggler and a group of nefarious cultists. Unlike my previous offerings, it’s set in modern day England with a low magic garnish. 

Anyway, if I’m going to get finished on schedule, I’d best bugger off back to the corner 

Happy Epileptic Lust Plague Day

Of all the bullshit festivals that are pushed annually in an effort to part us from our hard-earned, this is the one I hate most.  Not only was the ‘celebration’ first mentioned by that professional fibber Chaucer, but it only really came to prominence in the 19th century. Two guys who had nothing better to do with their time wanted to Christianise an ancient mid-february pagan festival (possibly Imbolc but I don’t read about that stuff anymore) and decided to go for some fruity love fool as champion. 

Okay, I might just be sore that Saint V’s other areas of influence were ignored. I’m pretty convinced that we’d all be happier celebrating plague and epilepsy. Hell, happy loved up zombie day would sit just fine in my calendar. Of course, my gears might be grinding because it was a year ago todau that I punched out 17.5k words on Scavenger Hunt.

I haven’t really written squat since then. All the excuses in the world could fly from my fingertips but honesty is the best policy (unless it isn’t) so I’ll just admit I’ve been lazy.

Something about the mid February love up must be in the air though. Yesterday I punched out an outline for a bit of sword and sorcery fic set in a kind of (but not identical to) Hyborean world. It’s darker than my usual spec fic and (at present) will provably cover at least three books. I’ve got to get this first one done by the end of thr month as there’s a toad in Mongolia waiting for a read.

Anyway, belated happy new year. I’m off to walk the dog.

I’m gunna need more coffee

Morning Chinchilladors,

I’ve got an unexpected day off on my hands. That’s no great shakes when you run a business. I’ve been thinking about sitting around moping (okay, I have been sitting about moping), but it’s a complete waste of time and I got the bills to pay.

It’s been eight months since I churned out Scavenger Hunt. I’ve been pretty unproductive since I hit the publish button on that one (Hi Orchid!). I figured an unexpected day off would be the perfect opportunity to crank something out.

Unlike Scav, I’m going to hit this one blind (maybe more a short-sighted kind of thing). Since I’ve got your attention, I’ll rattle off something from the Perl-based generator and have a go at sharsies.

This is what I got:
Your genre is Splatter Punk
Your protag wants to get something physical
Your character faces a Physical death
Your ending is Positive
your length is 20 thousand words

20k words unprepared in a genre I’ve never before written? It’s lucky I had my 4-egg piri piri omelette before jumping into action!

I’ll update later, even if it’s just a ‘what was I thinking?’ tweet. Now off you go. I’ll catch you on the other side.

‘How to get to know your story’s world with world building questions’ by Kylie Day.

With the longer nights and bad weather drawing in, I’ve found myself less in demand. By no means has the day job dried up, but the seasonal slow-down is starting to take effect. With a touch more free time on my hands, I’ve been able to get in a touch more reading and writing (and, of course, spending time with Lady Orchid).
If you’ve been around her long, you’ll know I tend toward Spec fiction these days. You’ll also know that my MO is short, intense bursts creativity followed by massive lulls. Since this pattern tends to leave me little time for story world backgrounds, I picked up a digital copy of the exhaustively-titled ‘How to get to know your story’s world with world building questions’ by Kylie Day.
It’s a very slim book, 23 pages according to the Amazon page. Including in that number are a dedication, a why I wrote this section and various other bits and pieces. In fact, the actual meat of the work is contained with 13 pages (on my kindle for PC). These pages are a series of one line questions relating to your fictional world.
The small amount of usable content isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Although you could probably find the same world building questions on blogs and web pages, it’s nice and convenient to have them all kicking around in one place and although some of the questions appear a bit redundant (How do people earn a living seems a lot of ground to cover for an entire planet/multiverse/universe), answering the questions in sequence really gets the juices flowing and sparks more ideas into life.
Yes, How to get to know your story’s world with world building questions is a very short book, but I found it quite useful and at less than a quid, I’d say it’s worth picking up if you need a little hand with the old world building.

Excising Dead Matter

Between taking Lady Orchid and her three seedlings to the beach, entertaining said sea monkeys while their mummy learned the fine art of horseless charioteering and a gamut of other fun things, I managed to turn a surgeon’s eye toward Refuge. Unfortunately, despite all the weekend’s goodness, I found something lurking in the story’s guts.

Refuge’s second scene revolves around the mutant menace’ leader. He’s in what passes for a maternity ward in his post-apocalyptic hell hole consulting with a physician over the first viable child born solely of mutant parents. At the time of writing, this scene seemed like a pretty big deal. Scavenger Hunt makes it pretty clear that inter-mutant reproduction is impossible as an unchanged humans must be involved in the process.

This little piece of information has always been something I’ve wanted to put into the overall story, but in hindsight, I don’t think book 2 is the place for it to happen. In fact, throwing in the mutie-mating derailed the story I actually wanted to tell.

So, I’ve cut 15k worth of writing and throw it into a drawer somewhere. That may have been a bit painful, but on the plus side, I’ve worked out why the story felt slow and stilted.

Anyway, that’s enough from me. I have a second draft to write.

Editorial Joys

Refuge’s done and dusted, ‘The End’ has been written. I did say I’d leave it a while and write something else before grabbing the red pen. As it turns out, I’m an impatient sort.

Because I’ve been writing this one mostly blind (that’ll remind me to back up my work), I had the feeling I’d lost the intended story somewhere en route. With everything said and done, I realised that was indeed the case. The story I had was not the story I wanted and things were too far put to tie up with the planned route of part three.

I could have left things as they were, tickled the manuscript into shape and worked from the back of that to adjust the next story. That’s not what I did. Instead, I’ve spent the past few hours reading, editting and looking for where things went wrong. I then dumped 15 thousand words in one key stroke.

That may sound a little bad but although that’s a fair bit of work rejected, I’d say it’s a good thing. Although it’ll take time to put the errors right, it means that I’m not putting out work I’m not happy with. 

Left Toe Shuffle

Early mornings and long days have got me a bit on the back foot. It’s too be expected, what with the sun shining and the birds singing. Real work floods my days at this time of year, so the rewarding work has to get relegated to stolen moments.

In spite of everything book 2, draft 1 is complete. It weighs in at a little longer than scav, but the insides are a whole lot messier. I think I’m going to give this one some time to rest before I set about some red pen surgery.

As if to celebrate the final words going down on book 2, my meteorological masters have taken it upon themselves to watch the world drown. To celebrate the unexpected day off, I’ll be hammering out as many words as I can in the new few hours, though I’ll probably do some yoga first.