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Oh no, still one more story to do

Having finished what I thought was the last story for the short story collection, I generated a table of contents for the book and counted the number of stories. Eight.
My original plan was to have nine. The cover blurb says there are nine. On the back cover, I’ve included a brief synopsis of three of the stories. One of the three is the missing story.
So, I have a choice. Change the cover, or include the ninth story. I gave it a quick read, and it needs quite a lot of work. At the moment I’m working through it to see how much needs to be done.
The trouble is, I don’t have much time in the next month to devote to editing, and I still want to go through all the other stories again to check for any last minute changes.
I would like to include the ninth story, so I think I’ll see where I am in a couple of weeks. If it looks like there is too much to do then I’ll switch to an eight story collection. With eight, the page count is 188. Including the ninth story increases it to about 220 (depending on how much I change it).

Book 2 almost there

At last my second novel, Times of the Changes, is out being read. When I finished it and looked at the page count, I couldn’t believe I’d written exactly the same number of pages as in the first book, Betrayal. If I don’t radically change the page count during editing, I can use the same dimensions for the cover design, which will speed up the whole process.

I’ve had some ‘work in progress’ feedback already which has enabled me to be editing while the readers are still reading.
Isn’t it strange that no matter how many times you read and re-read your own work, you fail to pick up on some quite silly errors. I guess, because it’s our story, we read what we thought we wrote and not what is printed on the page. That’s the advantage of having a few others cast their eyes over our scribblings.

Another advantage is that they pick up on inconsistencies. A big problem I suffer from is chopping and changing events and then not catching all the dependent pieces of text. As the writer, when I read the story, in my head I also know some of the deleted or changed backstory, and I don’t always pick up on the fact that it’s no longer there when a reference is made to it. I assume it’s there because I remember writing it. I don’t always remember I then removed it, or changed it.

The feedback so far indicated a certain amount of confusion when reading chapter 7, so I re-visted it, re-thought it and have now re-written it to make it easier to understand.

I’m still hopeful it will be released this year.

In the meantime, I must get restarted on the book of short stories. I have two left to finish (one is an old story and one is a brand new story), then it will be ready to go. This will probably end up being released early next year now.

Back on track

It’s taken a while, but I’m back on track now. Using the individual chapter documents I used to build the main document (the one I lost), I’ve recreated chapters 1 to 4, and re-edited them.

Except it is not quite what I had before. I remember being quite pleased with the editing I had done. This time I’m not so happy. It’s not the same for a start. It was so frustrating reading the unedited version and recognizing where I had changed things, but not remembering what I had changed it to. To a certain extent it coloured my re-editing because I was concentrating, perhaps more than I should, on the areas I remembered changing.

Anyway, I’ve got the first four chapters edited, and though not entirely satisfied with the result, will now press on with the rest of Part One. I’ll come back to them when I’ve finished recreating the entire document.

The annoying thing is, it’s taken over a month to redo a weeks worth of lost work. There’s a lesson for us all.

Over the course of this weekend, I’ve edited chapters 5 and 6, and incorporated them into the main document. I’m now faced with a problem. The chapter document for chapter 6 also included a version of chapter 7. In addition to this I have four other files for chapter 7. I remember not making use of the most recent one, which was experimental. It’s a long chapter so I guess I’m going to have to read them all and try to decide which I like the best, and which fits more into what follows in chapter 8 and 9. Perhaps I’d better leave chapter 7 for now, and come back to it when I know what has to have happened.

Taking a month to recreate a weeks worth of edits seems rather a long time, but admittedly, I have also changed laptops during that period. It’s taken a while for me to get familiar with Windows 10 and customize it so I’m happy with it (sort of). The process involved, amongst lots of minor changes, upgrading from Open Office 3 to Libre Office 5 (and trying to convince Windows I don’t want to try Office), setting up Mozilla Thunderbird to replace the Windows Live Mail I used on Windows 7 (the Windows 10 email client is not a patch on the Windows 7 one), replaced McAfee antivirus with a free one (AVG)(Mcafee isn’t straight forward to remove and I’m still not sure I got it all).

I don’t like the lack of colour customization within Windows 10, compared with 7. I prefer something easier on the eyes because I spend so much time looking at the screen. I used to have pastel colours, and the brightness turned down. (Last Windows 10 patch whacked the brightness back up to 100% – what’s the point in giving us the option to change it if they overwrite our changes?) With regard to the colours, at least Libre Office lets me set a better colour scheme for its applications, and I spend most of my time in it.

When did a program become an app?

One reason for changing laptops is that the old one kept running out of memory (I used to have lots of windows open, and lots of IE tabs going). It had become quite a problem in the last few months, causing me to reboot more frequently that I would normally.

The other reason was, I’ve been using it daily for 7 years. The C drive kept filling up, necessitating lots of tidying up to keep things running.

And the keys were losing their letters. See the photo. People used to complain about my keyboards in the office when I was working because I’d rubbed all the letters off the keys. Must have acid fingers or something!

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Think I need to make more use of the q, w, y. j, k, z, x and v keys. Prepare for some characters with some strange names!

Emotional Writer’s Block?

I’ve had just over a week off writing. A week ago last Wednesday night, my sister rang me to say our mother was acting strange. Her movements were uncoordinated and she was confused. She had also fallen over. We got an ambulance out to her and she was admitted to hospital. I packed a bag and headed over to my parent’s house (30 miles away), taking my laptop with me. The plan was to help my sister with my dad who has been in a wheelchair for the last fifteen years, and to do a bit of writing while not doing anything else.

It didn’t work out like that. I somehow lost the will to write. It’s as if a huge mental block had been placed in front of me. Has anyone else ever noticed this?

I’ve been back home since Monday, and today (Friday) is the first day I’ve managed to do any writing.

My mother has been diagnosed with Pneumonia with the added complication of Sepsis. She also has low sodium levels. She’s a lot better than when she went in. They intend to keep her in for at least another three or four days. Hopefully, she’ll continue to recover.

When I had the phone call, the words were flowing well. They just dried up after that, until today.

I’m getting towards the end of my second Novel, and am currently working on the fifth short story for my collection. In a future where everything is global and controlled by a central computer, an unemployed technician tests his revenge against his former employers, with unexpected effects.

Third short story

I’m now editing the third story about a child from a broken home in a future authoritarian society.

I’m dithering about the start of ‘Times of the Changes’ the second book in the Supremacy trilogy. Whether to throw Brad into the middle of a battle right from the off, or be a bit more subtle about it and lead him to it after discovering a ‘cleansed’ world where there shouldn’t be any. I’m thinking of going for the action start to grab the reader’s attention.

Took a trip to the beach (about 10 minutes away) with the dog this afternoon as the sun was going down. Fantastic sunset. Took a few photos. Had to post some of them.

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A break from writing

My first novel is close to being ready. I had a last minute revamp of the final chapter and have had the final comments back today, so hopefully it won’t be long before I get round to putting it on CreateSpace and Amazon KDP. But the weather here has been fantastic for the time of year so I just had to take advantage of it and went up Snowdon with a couple of friends, Gareth and Rachel.
For those that know the area, we set off from Pen y Pass on the Pyg Track and went up over the top and down to Rhyd Ddu on the Ranger Path, a total of seven and a half miles in about five hours (which included a long stop for lunch). With it being a bank holiday, the world and his wife, and their dog seemed to be out on the mountain, mostly coming up the Pyg track, the Miner’s track and the Llanberis path – note for next time the Watkin path looked deserted).  There wasn’t much room at the top! Despite how nice it was where we were, from the top we could see a thick fog over the sea, all around the Llyn peninsula , into the Menai Strait and round Anglesey. Really weird.

What a wonderful day. I hope there will be more like it this year.
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Snowdon from the Pyg Track (yes, the white bits are the last of the winter’s snow)

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Me and Moli (a two and half year old, and very energetic, Welsh Collie/Border Collie cross) just below the summit

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Gareth and Rachel on the Pyg track during our ascent, with Moel Siabod in the background

We are so lucky to have such wonderful scenery right on our doorstep, just twenty minutes drive. We were also so lucky to have my wife drop us off and pick us up (the only reason she couldn’t do it was she broke her leg two years ago, and five weeks ago had all the metalwork taken out. She needs at least six weeks for the bone to in-fill, but I think it will take a while before she is mountain fit again – thank you Gail.)

A structured day

I started writing seriously three years ago when I was made redundant from my post as an Oracle Database Administrator. Because I worked from home for three days a week I had a home office set up specifically for work, where I was surrounded by work related books, folders, equipment, etc. The only non-work things in the office were my guitars and sound equipment, the room doubling as a music room in the evenings.

The work related items have all gone now and have been replaced by writing related things and it is the place I will one day hopefully write something worth publishing.

Although a flexitime system was in operation, I worked quite regular hours. A lot has been said about a sudden loss of routine and focus with regard to its effects on health. How many people do you hear of only surviving a year or so after retirement. I’m currently in my late fifties, so I did have a slight concern about it.

I decided that the best thing for me would be to establish a regular routine, so that it would be a bit like going to work. Not only would this give me a focus but it would also structure the day giving me a sense of purpose. I still follow the daily routine I planned three years ago. Although it originally only applied Monday to Friday, I find it now applies to every day.

So a typical day goes something like this:

Most days after seeing my wife off to work (as a teacher) and walking the dog on the beach (if low-tide is in the morning) I will set myself up in the office. Armed with mugs of green tea and the occasional biscuit, I will spend the morning writing or doing some other writing related task.

After lunch I will do various jobs around the house and garden such as mowing the grass, cleaning out the chickens, tending the vegetable patch, playing with or walking the dog, and anything else that might need doing (and there are plenty of them).

In the evenings if we are not binge watching a DVD box set I will do a bit of writing after clearing up the evening meal. Writing in the evenings has only really taken off in the last year since I started writing my Supremacy novel.

I have to say that writing seems easier in the evening but I don’t want it to come between me and my wife so I tend to restrict it to periods when she is doing something else (marking, lesson planning, making cards, watching CSI or NCIS or some other anagram of them).

Welcome to my blog

Welcome to the online diary of my journey which will hopefully lead to me becoming a fully fledged science fiction author. This first entry describes where I am at the moment.

I have been writing seriously now for three years during which time I have written two novels and a number of short stories. I still need to revisit the first novel but it was the completion of the second one which prompted me to set up this blog.

I originally set out to write a short story detailing what happens when two fighter pilots find themselves crash landed on the same uninhabited planet and have to rely on one another to survive. But the story grew and I suddenly found I had a not so short story of over 25,000 words. On top of that I then wrote a second and third part, each slightly longer than the first part and before I knew it I had something of novel length on my hands.

Each part is probably too long to sell in the short story market so I decided to go with the novel approach. However I’m dubious about following the traditional route to publishing with a novel which is to all extents and purposes three novellas. Therefore I decided to go down the self-publishing route.

It was having made this decision which prompted me (along with my wife) to make use of a blog to record the processes I go through in getting something available. I need to record the information somewhere as it will be useful for me in the future so a blog is as good a place as any. And my experience might be useful to other aspiring authors who decide to go down the same route.

Now that I have a blog I will probably use it to note other useful things such as what I’m currently reading, problems I have with my writing, etc.

Currently the novel is being read by a number of volunteers, so I’m hoping for a positive feedback before I commit to the self publishing of it. And as this is a blog, I’ll keep you posted.

I’ll keep the blog up to date with the status of the short stories. Currently three stories are out there – with Analog, Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show and Tor.com.