Nano 2012 Update.

Well, it is the 16th of November, just over halfway through NaNoWriMo, and already I have hit 50,000 words!  in fact, the word count as i write this is 50,280. i completed Chapter 20 this afternoon, which, bearing in mind I got about 3 hours sleep last night, is pretty good going.

In fact, the story is going so well, after the planning for the month, i may even be able to put in an Epilogue, so that would be 32 chapters in all. It also looks like I may be typing “The End” on the novel some time around the 25th. leaving me with 5 days to go through the first stories of Barney Henderson. These are being merged into a single volume, to make up a novella sized story, with an epilogue that links directly into the novel.

Amusingly, i had booked the 15th and 16th of November off work back in September,  in my mind, these were catch up days. a chance for me to take into account real life and catch up. Obviously, i didn’t need it. i have been averaging over 2,000 words per day after work, missing only one day due to real life. I have been doing over 4,000 words per day on a weekend, boosting my target. in fact, I am now looking at hitting over 75,000 words in about 25 days. I may have to set a higher target for myself next year!


Novel Advice

With NaNoWriMo looming upon the horizon, for many, this will be their first attempt at writing a novel.  One of the regulars of Derby Scribes Writers group, Richard Farren Barber, has written his 5 tips for writing a novel  on his WEM blog.




Books and Bugs

I have just finished reading the first book of the Shadows of the Apt series by Adrian Tchaikovsky, “Empire in Black and Gold” which I picked up at Edge-lit in July (and yes, it has taken this long to get to reading it. Having said that it took me little over a week to read!)

My main reason for picking up the book, which normally wouldn’t appeal to me, as I don’t tend to read steampunk type books, was that I attended Adrian’s World building workshop, where he mentioned the world he had created in the series. I was, to say the least, intrigued by the concept of a civilisation based upon bugs.

It wasn’t how I was expecting it to be,  There is no long exposition on how this civilisation came to be, more passing mentions of past events that build up a world that, as odd as it seems, was completely immersive and believable. When I first started it, I found the book, or the world, at least, “odd” or “Weird” but after a while, the different kinden than appear in the book started to make sense and I could see, in my mind’s eye, while I was reading,  the differences between the stocky Beetle-kinden and the slim spider-kinden  and agile dragonfly-kinden.

I found the story progressed rapidly, the plot was compulsive reading and I was soon reading whenever I got the chance to,  so I could find out what happened to the characters.

In fact, I enjoyed the first book so much, I intended to get the next couple in the series “Dragonfly Falling” and “Blood of the Mantis” however I was thwarted when I went into Waterstones in Aberdeen and could only find “Dragonfly Falling”, I was informed by the assistant that they had all sold out (whether that means actually sold out, in which case, Well done Adrian!,  or they hadn’t ordered enough, amounting to the same thing I guess!) so I came away with the only the second book, which I have now started reading.

NanoWriMo 2012

I have been neglecting this blog of late, mainly down to being busy in real life, not having much time to write and prepping for Nano

Okay, it is fast approaching. That month that I both love and loathe. November, NaNoWriMo month!

For those who do not know, NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month, a challenge that lasts for the whole month on November. 30 days, in which, as the title suggests, you have to write a novel. Now, the word count is normally 50,000 words in 30 days, that is, on average 1667 words per day. Because it is a short period of time to write that many words, it is a challenge for a writer to switch off their inner critic (not as easy as it sounds, the first time I did this, I got stuck at 33,000 words because I was editing)  The challenge, is for quantity, not quality. It would normally be the rough draft, or, as i generally call it, the “Rough as a Badger’s” draft, as it would come before my rough draft of a novel.

I have spent the last few months preparing for this, with My Hero, Barney, Firmly entrenched in my mind. I have been planning, working on the ideas and planning. I have a Scrivener document set up with 30 chapters, plotted out. I know, the way I write, it will change massively, more than likely, it will look nothing like the plot I have outlined.  Hells, there are already parts in the plot I think are no good, so they will most likely change as the story goes on.

In order to prepare for the Novel, I have had to move Barney along a little further, so i have turned the 13 episodes on here into a Novella and added a final epilogue to it.  In this, I set up the time frame for the novel, and a little of the relationship between Lavinia and Anna as well as Barney.

If you are interested in following my progress during NaNoWriMo, I can be found here.

Movie Aside

We recently got a phone call from our local Blockbuster, where we could get 1 free DVD rental (up to the value of £3) free for 2 weeks. This was an offer to get us renting DVDs from there again, and it worked. For the 2 weeks of the offer, we went in pretty much every day and hired out a number of good, and some pretty crap films in that period.

After the offer expired, we were offered a “Hire 10 DVDs for £25” ticket, which, making each DVD £2.50, we thought was a good idea.

With ticket in hand, we decided to try and get some different films, things that we hadn’t seen advertised at the cinema etc.

The first of these that really drew us in was a film called Albert Nobbs, A film starring and co-written by Glenn Close, where, in 19th century Ireland, work is so scarce that Albert is forced to disguise himself (you never find out Albert’s real name) as a man, so he/she can work in an hotel as Head Waiter. The film portrays a simple innocence and Albert has a gentle naivete that is sometimes frustrating, but endearing at the same time. Ultimately it is a tragic story, and we thoroughly enjoyed watching it!

Another we watched was A Thousand Words, Starring Eddie Murphy, a simple concept tale of a man, who, trying to impress a spiritual guru (Cliff Curtis) in order to secure his book, inherits a Bodhi tree that starts loosing leaves with every word he speaks. When it is explained to him that when all the leaves have fallen, he, like the tree, will die, He struggles to convince people of his situation, loses friends and family and more until He re-evaluates his life, and how important words can be. This was Eddie Murphy back to his brilliant self, playing a brilliantly self-centred tragic-comic character, who is forced to change the way he affects the world around him through the loss or limitation of a Human’s most important, yet under-rated social tools.

There have been a couple of other films we watched that were excellent, but, from a writer’s perspective, both of these films were both fairly simple, if convoluted, scenarios that would make some excellent story ideas (for me at least.)

Further to this, real life has intruded on my writing, so I have not had too much time to write of late, I am working on a short story for the Derby Scribes Anthology,  am adding to the Barney Henderson stories, extending the story into a novella prequel to the NaNoWriMo Novel that I will be working on in November as well as building up character profiles, histories and back stories. Location planning is also going on and I am trying to get an idea where each of the chapters will take us. I intend to bring in a character that is only mentioned a few times in the earlier story, give him part of the investigation and build him up a little more. Whether he will survive the ordeals that will be put before him, however is truly up in the air, or, more to the point, in the hands of the main antagonist.

Edge-Lit 2012

Today was a very interesting day, for me at least.

I went along to Edge-Lit at the Quad in Derby, the first time this event has run. I think it went very well, I thoroughly enjoyed it, met some interesting folks, sat in the cinema rooms and watched/listened to a number of panel conversations. Topics included “The Writer and the Internet”, “Publishing Today”, “Breaking into Writing”, “Does Fantasy need Archetypes?” and finally, before the hilarity of the raffle, “Ray Bradbury – A Retrospective”.

The day started with me arriving early enough to secure a ticket at the box office for the World Building workshop that was being run by Adrian Tchaikovsky. If you have read this blog before, you will know that I enjoy a little bit of world building action myself, so this was a “Must see” for me. Adrian was surprised, pleasantly I suspect, at the turn out, even though this was his first workshop, it was very well run and he made some very salient points about the art of world building. Unfortunately, the workshop only lasted an hour,  but it was continued in the pub afterwards (I didn’t go along to the pub bit, I went along to the panels.)

The panels, as I mentioned above, were varied in subject and very useful to a budding writer and, let’s face it, relative newbie to the writing world.

I was impressed by the writers that I saw,  Anne Lyle,  Gaie Sebold, Emma Newman, Sarah Pinborough, MD Lachlan (it appears that none of the websites for him actually work, so i have linked his Wikipedia page instead), Rod Rees and Adrian Tchaikovsky, all of whom, to my chagrin, I had not heard of previously. Now, however, I have a list of new (to me at least!) authors to read, and I am looking forward to reading them in the near future. I managed to buy copies of books by Adrian Tchaikovsky and Sarah Pinborough, but missed out on getting books by Anne Lyle,  Gaie Sebold and Emma Newman, MD Lachlan and Rod Rees. A trip to Waterstones or WHSmith’s (other bookshops are available) in the near future is in order, methinks.

Christopher Fowler and Graham Joyce, I had already heard of, the latter because he came and gave a talk at our writers group while I was on holiday. Graham also stepped in to do a reading at no notice whatsoever when Geoff Ryman couldn’t make it due to being ill.

Mark Yon did an excellent job moderating a number of the panels as did Lee Harris. It was great to see John Jarrold The well known Genre agent, and Christian Dunn on the Publishing Today panel as well, which was very informative and gave me a lot of food for thought.

A thoroughly enjoyable day out, can’t wait until next year’s Edge-Lit!


Shimmer OWC

Once more the One word challenge has come and gone,  this month’s word was “Shimmer” and though my offering did not win, I quite enjoyed the writing of it.

Patience  (197 words)

He had been waiting for hours, sitting in the wicker chair upon the porch. The local children had wandered past the old wooden house, hoping to garner a reaction from the stranger.

He saw them, the children; They weren’t who he was waiting for, so he ignored them. “Don’t interact with the locals any more than you have to” His teacher’s voice echoed in his mind.

The setting sun drifted slowly behind the hills, the stranger moved, raising his arm to glance at his watch. He looked to the west, there, on the horizon, just before the mountains, the air shimmered. The visitor was coming. He knew. He was waiting.

He rose from his seat, his hand dropped to the weapon strapped to his thigh, reassurance in the failing light. He was coming. Not long now.

Voices raised in greeting, footsteps, laughter. The lower step creaked as a foot was placed upon it. He drew the gun, the barrel extended by the silencer kissed the visitor’s eyeball.

“Boo!” He squeezed the trigger, the gun enunciated “death” with a muffled report. The visitor fell.

The air shimmered. They were gone, the dark stranger and the corpse he’d created.


I have not been around for the last couple of weeks. I have been on holiday and extremely busy at home and work either side of my time away.

One of the things I have been up to, as mentioned in previous posts, is building the world for my Nano novel. Part of this is the Conlanging also mentioned in previous posts. Whilst looking for more tools to help me with developing the new language, I stumbled across the Conlang Word Maker.  Which will make things a lot easier to put the language together on my new Linux laptop.

I haven’t had much time to write much in the last few weeks, so have not published any Friday Flash Stories because of my busy schedule recently.

As an aside, I will be going along to Edge-Lit in Derby, which is running from 10am to midnight on the 14th July at the Quad in Derby.

#FridayFlash Black Cloaks

As mentioned in my new project post, I am playing around with ideas for my NaNoWriMo project. This flash is a small sketch of a characters’ origins.

Davey huddled in the doorway, there was a distinct chill in the air, but that wasn’t keeping him awake. Tonight was the seasonal new moon, the night when both of the moons were absent in the night’s sky. The night when the Black-Cloaks were abroad.


He shivered, wrapping the thin blanket around him in a vain attempt to keep the cold out, as he tried to stay awake.


Four times a year, the Black-Cloaks would walk the streets.


Old Tommy Bracken, with all the knowledge and swagger of a fourteen year old, had tormented the younger kids, explaining what happened if the Black-Cloaks caught them.


“Theys come in the black-nights, huntin’ for youse doorway-kippers. Theys grabs you, takes youse away to the great Black Tower, the one next the palace, and theys cooks yer and eats yas all up!” he had told them, with a wicked grin as the younger children sobbed in terror.


Davey shrunk back into the shadows of the doorway that was his bed as footsteps approached his hiding place. The steps came closer and closer. He huddled deeper, pulling the dark blanket over his head, hoping the Black-Cloak would think it was a bundle of rags that shivered so, in the doorway. Heavy boots struck the cobbles next to the doorway and Davey’s heart beat faster and faster, panic threatened to take him, and he fought the urge to run.


Torch light illuminated the hollow where Davey hid. A man in the browns of the night’s watch could be seen in the flickering blue-white light and Davey breathed a sigh of relief. Maybe, tonight, he would survive after all. He didn’t want to be eaten like all them other kids that went missing over the years.


The watchman moved on and Davey’s doorway returned to gloom. The terror he had felt moments before was subsiding, slowly, making him feel drained and sleepy. He closed his eyes.


There was a presence before him, he opened his eyes, hoping he hadn’t fallen asleep after all. The street beyond the tiny alcove that was his doorway was as black as pitch. it was a cloudy night, no starlight to brighten the street a little, the watch’s street braziers were burning low and not emitting anything like enough light to see by. There was something there though, an unnatural shift in the air, a breeze that he shouldn’t have felt. Dreading what he might see if he looked too hard, he burrowed his head under the threadbare blanket. there it was again, the breeze, there was definitely something there.


“Wh- who’s there?” he ventured, his voice quavering and breaking in fear.


Nothing. The breeze was gone. He sighed once more, softly, trying not to draw undue attention his way. there was still a few hours until the relative safety of dawn.


The hand touched his shoulder. Davey screamed, but his cries were muffled as another hand covered his mouth. It was cold and smelled of old leather and sweat.


“Shhh” whispered a soft voice into his ear, “Sleep” it said, the voice emanated power and Davey struggled briefly to not obey the command. his eyes drooped, his head felt heavy, but he fought, trying to stay awake.


“Sleep” the voice said in his ear, the power felt stronger, and he couldn’t resist the pull of the words. His eyes closed, head dropped and his body relaxed.


From the hedge across the street, seventeen year old Tommy Bracken watched as the Black-Cloak picked up Little Davey and carried him away, slung over his shoulder like a sack of turnips. A distant, tiny piece of him felt guilty for his part, another, less sentimental, smiled at the feel of the gold coins he held in his palm. Enough, if he were prudent, to feed him until the next black-night.





Another One Word Challenge piece. This word was “Grotesque” and the piece is called “Lessons”

The lesson was well taught.

He regarded his handiwork with pride. The stripe across her back was bright red, the edges turning purple, blood slowly seeping to the surface where the buckle had caught her shoulder. She sobbed, silent terror stifling her cries. He knew the lesson had been learned.

He took a cloth from his trouser pocket, cleaning the leather belt, paying special attention to the blood stained buckle.

Why had he married her? This grotesque, pathetic woman.

He reached for the bottle of beer. Not his preferred choice; it’s bitterness reflected his own as he swigged. “The only one left” She had wailed, She would learn.

The crumpled piece of paper fell from her hand, drifting slowly to the floor at her feet, catching his attention as he returned the bottle to the table. He looked at her, the faint smile passing her lips, the look of satisfaction in her eyes. She had brought the bottle to him already opened. Another reason for the lesson. His eyes followed hers, to the paper then to the bottle.

“You Bi-” he said, his stomach burned, his heart raced and the world faded around him.