All posts by kate

Cake Club, March 2017: Aims

So, I’m part of a thing called Cake Club. Basically, it’s a small group of authors who get together every few months, talk goals, and eat cake.

The cake is the important part. You can tell by the name.

One of the members was ill this month, so it was just Adrian and I. In between plotting chaos (which may or may not come to anything, so watch this space) we also updated each other on progress and what our plans are. Adrian did an update on Saturday, and while I did tell him everything I’m up to, I’m going to put it here too – just to give myself a public record of incentives!

I like having my progress bars in the sidebar (down to the right) – it lets me see how I’m doing. Greensky’s ongoing, and I’ve submitted No Man’s Land to more agents to bring my total there up to eight. I’ve also had one short story accepted; I’ll tell you more about that when I know more!

My aims for the next two months, before the next meeting? I’ve got the Shadow series to rewrite; I’m having some time away soon (if plans work out) so I’m hopefully using that as dedicated writing time. No Man’s Dawn is in progress, currently on 18000 words with things roughly plotted. No Man’s Sky is at about 50k and needs to get to 70k, so…eh. Ongoing. I’m thinking about it!

Beyond that, it’s basically business as usual for me. The thing I like is that I am – despite all my frustrations – in a rough routine for writing. I know when my next few short story deadlines are; I’m happy with my three-times-a-week-plus-Sunday blog post schedule, and I’m reading enough to put up the occasional review. I keep enough ongoing that I still feel that I am writing.

It makes for a fairly boring update, but everything really is trundling along! I’m just waiting for news from agents (good or bad), waiting for submissions to come back, waiting for more anthology calls that I can write for or submit to, waiting for my novels to progress chapter by chapter, waiting for the ideas to fall into place. This is what a lot of writing is – step by step progress, one word at a time, one story at a time!

Review: The Malice

The Malice by Peter Newman

If you haven’t read The Vagrant, this review may contain spoilers. Also, if you haven’t read The Vagrant…go and read it!

In the south, the Breach stirs.

Gamma’s sword, the Malice, wakes, calling to be taken to battle once more.

But the Vagrant has found a home now, made a life and so he turns his back, ignoring its call.

The sword cries out, frustrated, until another answers.

Her name is Vesper.

I caught Fantasy-Faction saying they weren’t sure who to compare Peter Newman to. Well, for me, it’s China Mieville. It’s a weird, alien world with intriguing characters, twisted plots and gripping storylines. Nothing’s conventional, nothing’s cliché, and I love it.

The Malice isn’t quite as good as The Vagrant…but only in the sense that The Vagrant was a 5*, and this is 4.5*. It just doesn’t have that linear plotline, that gripping tension, that made me read The Vagrant from end to end in one sitting. But it’s as good for characters and for world-building, and I read it in two halves, so…it only loses a little! It’s as enthralling and as entertaining as the first.

It’s wonderful to see more of Vesper, and more of the same world we saw in The Vagrant. Vesper travels through the same territories, the same landscapes, as she heads towards the Breach – but her reactions are different, and I think that’s what I love most about this book. Vesper is a very different character to The Vagrant, and even with the Malice on her back, she carves her own path through the politics and problems that she encounters.

We also get more of the history behind the Shining City and the world; I’m really hoping this will all tie into the next book in the series, The Seven, released in April.

There’s also a short story to read after The MaliceThe Vagrant And The City. It definitely needs to be read after, and looks like it bridges the gap between The Malice and The Seven…with the additions of some extra characters and plot points which are quite exciting!

If you loved The Vagrant, you’ll love The Malice – and if you haven’t read either and want unique, character-filled, heart-tugging fantasy in a truly unique world…read these.

On memories and missing friends

I don’t know how much sense I’m making. But I’m writing this just because…I don’t really know. I guess I need to.

It feels odd, still. As my housemate said the other day, it still doesn’t feel like anything’s happened. Like he’s just going to walk in the door again one day. He doesn’t feel gone.

And yet there’s a hole in my heart, and an empty seat in the house, and gaps in my day where there should be an email or a text or a smiling face at the train station.

It’s the little things that hit me the most. The ones I expect I can usually deal with – but it’s driving back along the ridge at night, singing loudly, and then feeling the tears start because I just want to be able to turn around and see him there in the back seat, smiling. It’s reading a line I wrote and thinking how much he liked it. It’s stepping out of the front door and hesitating a moment before I lock it, because surely there’s someone else coming to the canal with me?

He still walks beside me. I am so grateful to have known him, despite every moment of heartache it gives me.

Some people walk through life so quietly that most people don’t notice they’re there until they’re gone. And then – they aren’t there, and there’s a hole.

So I guess what I want to say is this:

If you think you’re worthless; if you think you don’t have a place, you don’t make a difference, you don’t matter….

You’re wrong. You do.

I only knew Ryan for a year. He wasn’t someone who made the world shake as he walked; he was quiet, thoughtful. You wouldn’t have noticed him in a crowded room, and you probably wouldn’t have glanced twice at him if you saw him on the street.

He didn’t think he was important. He felt so small, so tiny, so powerless. He didn’t think he was special or funny or different or clever or beautiful. He didn’t feel that he was anyone.

You think you can’t make a difference. That you don’t matter.

To the world you may be one person, but to one person you may be the world.

You matter.

I have suddenly lost someone who meant a lot to me, even though he didn’t think he was important.

I miss the smile. I miss his long fingers, his quiet words, his interested glance. I miss the man who was always up for a walk or exploring, the writer who experimented in so many worlds, the fanboy who was always up for talking about anything that interested him. I miss the small things that made up everything about him.

You matter.

I miss my friend who didn’t think he was brilliant or funny or clever or intelligent or wise or amazing, and who was every single one of those things.

And yes, I did tell him that he was, regularly.

(He was a derp, too, and an idiot. I told him that on a regular basis as well, although mostly when he drilled through water pipes and stayed up until 3am because the cat fell asleep on him and he didn’t want to move it.)

But you matter.

He didn’t have a choice in life. He got taken away just as he was getting started.

You matter.

If you’re feeling small or worthless, if you’re feeling unimportant, if you’re just feeling grey and nothing.

Don’t choose to end things.

You will leave a hole in too many hearts that will never entirely heal, no matter how small or insignificant you think you are.

You matter.

Progress: No Man’s Dawn

Writing feels like a jigsaw puzzle sometimes, except you have to make up the pieces yourself.

I start off with some of the edges, and a few bits of tree or whatever, and then realise that maybe the pattern is a kitten in a basket and that’s some of the basket, and I’ve got the kitten, plus I found a few more bits of edge, but maybe it would look good with a puppy in there too? And then the cat sits on the board and I lose a few of the pieces down the back of the sofa and the sky seems to be a weird mix of blue and cloud, and it’s all a weird mess within a few random edge pieces.

Also, I think metaphors can be taken too far. But you get what I mean.

I didn’t feel that No Man’s Dawn was quite right; I was missing something. Dee was boring. While the outline was good – someone running away from a problem, making a new life, discovering secrets, murder mystery – it didn’t have the spark I wanted.

Well, I came up with a solution.

I added Luk.

I came up with the idea in the car, and my housemate just gave me a Look when I started giggling.

This is now the start of the book:

“Fuck. Fuck, fuckitty fucking fuck. Fuck!”

That last one echoes off the rock ahead of me, and I glance over my shoulder to try to spot my pursuers.

Of course, I can’t see anything.

“Fucking invisible bastard fuckers!”

You see why I was giggling?

Adding Luk adds depth and familiarity. I’m doing alternate chapters, Luk and Dee; it means I can add an extra plotline, add an extra thread to my murder mystery, and I don’t necessarily have to explain everything to the clueless Dee as Luk is already experienced. He’s also a complete bastard, and it’s been great fun to play out some of the consequences – especially on Dee. I’d already planned for him to come into the story, but having half of it from his perspective is definitely the right thing to do.

The spark’s back. I’m loving this almost as much as No Man’s Land; it hasn’t got the same snark factor, but hopefully it’s going to have a similar Not Nice feel, along with a twist at the end.

I’m also doing some work on No Man’s Sky; I’ve got ideas for some fill-in sections thanks to my beloved alpha-reader and aunt, and it’s been through a couple of other readers who have also given me ideas and encouragement. I’m waiting on my other alpha to finish writing Suddenly Lesbians (working title) and then she can focus on it, but that’s definitely got some spark back too.

So it’s getting there! (Again). Yay!