Tag Archives: workinprogress

Writing in Amsterdam

I would just like to say that I love this city! We’re staying in the Generator, and I’m currently sitting on a sofa with 80’s music, nachos, fresh mint tea (aka. “we picked mint, dumped it in a glass and poured hot water on it – enjoy!”) and I’m actually writing! Guys, I’m writing!

We were out this morning (hence the late blog post) but now I’ve got some chill time, I’ve got my laptop out. I have three things on my list for this week:

Finish GreenSky Book 10. For whatever reason, my head is refusing to write GreenSky when I’m in England. Away, however…when I was in Florence I finished two books, and so far, I’ve managed a thousand words in about half an hour. If I suddenly get a multi-million deal to write more GreenSky, I’m going to have to put “must write in a foreign city” in my contract.

Read the last novel on my official edit pile. I have had this since May and I’ve just been crap with it. I need to have time to sit down and focus…which I’ve definitely got! So that’s a major thing.

Write a short story. Last time I was here, I was challenged to write a soppy romance. This time, my travelling companion has picked “thriller” – and we’ve spent most of the morning wondering how I could get the city into it! Dramatic bike chase, anyone? My only thing is that I have to mostly stay within the constraints of the genre – so I can’t be too sarcastic. Considering I am thoroughly cynical about thrillers, this could be a problem…

So that’s my holiday so far, and it’s only the first day! Anyway, I’m off to drink my tea and finish this damn GreenSky book. Only a couple of thousand words to go…

Returning to a Ghost

I stopped writing things in the No Man’s Land series after Ryan died. He was one of my beta readers, and the one who cheered me on; he asked the questions, laughed at the jokes, talked to me about the latest plot and idea. He was the one I’d email at 3am with a story.  And I miss him so, so much, even eight months on.

But I did some organising this week, and hauled out all my half-finished short stories…and amongst them are six No Man’s world ones (well, No Man’s Land – they’re mostly about Ghost, because I love her). And I want to finish them. I started reading them, just to remind myself. It hurts, still. But that’s now being tempered with the love for writing, and the characters are starting to talk to me again. They’re not getting drowned by the waves of grief any more. I want to write.

Have the start of a new story that might now get finished…

The air is cold and frigid, with mist creeping across the ground, obscuring my footing. The trees are long dead, their branches hung with decades of cobwebs and vines instead of leaves. The ground is a morass of swamp and rock, its stink rising until it’s almost visible. The scenery wavers between dank, dead forest and occasional rock spires, their outlines jagged against the dark sky.

In short, it’s not the nicest of places – and in addition, the path that I’m on is most certainly haunted…I’m not just saying that because it’s pretty freakin’ creepy.

I’ve got a ghost whining in my ear.

One of the downsides of being able to see spirits is that I can also hear them, and I’ve found that they fall into three categories: dull, friendly, or freaky.

This one is trying for freaky. It’s achieving dull. After all, blood-curdling moans are only terrifying when you don’t know that the ghost producing them has no torso. I know that should be scary, but actually it’s quite amusing to see a disembodied head and legs floating along, particularly when said ghost is doing the traditional arm-waving and managing to look as if it’s attempting to land a plane. I’m not sniggering, but it’s taking willpower. Ghosts tend to get touchy when their efforts to scare go unappreciated.

Plottin’ plottin’ plottin’

“OH! They’re the same world, just different time periods!”

Tudors or Civil War? I need guns, I think, but early. Tudors with Age of Enlightment could work.

If you’ve got the basis for a matriarchal society there all along, how is that going to change the society? Well, duh, it’s pretty much Chaucer. Just keep it at The Wife of Bath. (Possibly with less sex).

I’m still not entirely sure about the dragons.

“…oh god that means I’m thinking of writing four books. WHAT THE HELL, BRAIN?”

Victorian scientific discovery! Saving dragons! YES!

I need a revolution…

Ooh, a voice in a charm. And it’d last, so HE’D COME BACK! (Duh duh duuuuuuh).

“Three books. Ok, three books is do-able.”

Five hundred years, that’s a respectable amount of time for everything to turn to shit.

Railways on drove roads?

“….or I could add a sci-fi one, too? Nah. Trilogies work better. And it means I’m only writing three books instead of four.”

Who is she? I know the two from the first book inside-out, but the second set…she’s a puzzle. Hopefully I’ll figure her out before I come to write her.

“That’s still three books. And they’d have to be longer than my usual 70k. ARGH.”

They could dunk a dragon in a lake! (Poor thing).

I need to go do so much resesarch on the 1920s. And WW1. And the Tudors. And Victorian explorers.

THIS IS GOING TO BE THE BEST THING EVER!

I may be plotting for The Thief & The Seer, as well as my new yet-unnamed one…

To Fantasy or not to Fantasy?

I have started thinking again about The Thief & The Seer, which has a possible working title of “As Old As My Tongue” or possibly eyes. I haven’t decided yet.

Anyway. I’ve got the basis for a plot, which involves politics and a Quest and a Thief (duh) and stealing a Thing. I wanted a Baddy, something huge and overwhelming, and so I temporarily put in Dragons…and the whole thing seems to currently be set in the traditional Fantasy Cliché world. So I was trying to think of a twist that would make it more interesting.

Well, I can’t think of one. And so I was chatting to a friend over the weekend about it, trying to work out what to do.

The plot could move to anywhere; it’s two people and a third and a theft and politics. That could go sci-fi, or medieval, or ancient, or futuristic. It doesn’t necessarily matter what the setting is.

And that, as my friend pointed out, is the point. Why bother? If those settings aren’t going to add anything, then why not write it in the world I’m comfortable in, using dragons?

Ok, sure, it’s clichéd. But actually the plot is going to have a few anti-cliche twists, and it’s the relationship between the characters that is the interesting thing. The world around it could change, and once the story is written, I could tweak. I could edit. It could move if I suddenly came up with a different setting.

So…fantasy might be the way to go. It’ll be traditional Western Fantasy, sure, but…hey, I’ll have fun.

On to the next challenge!

So, having pinged No Man’s Land out to agents, I’ve subbed to 20 and have only had one request for a full. So, at this point I’m shelving the project. And that’s fine.

Seriously, it actually is.

No Man’s Land is a weird book; I knew it when I wrote it. It’s not hard to describe, but I can’t really do it in a sentence – or at least I can (“apocalyptic urban fantasy”) but that really doesn’t describe any of what goes on, and what in my opinion makes the book awesome. I knew it might not be quite right for the publishing world at this stage, so this is just a step in the plan. I’ve got a couple of options now: I could keep an eye out for publishers with open doors; try other agents; try small presses; self-publish; serialise on the blog or Wattpad; or shelve the project completely. None of those are bad options, so it’s just a case of deciding what I want to do.

My friend Adrian commented that it took Brandon Sanderson 6 books to get accepted by his agent, and his plan was to get rejected on 6 books and then hit the bestseller. Adrian himself screwed up and got picked up on his first one (because he is super talented!), but I think I’m of the same mindset.

No Man’s Land is a good book, and it’ll stay in my “done” pile. I’ll work on the next one, and the next – I’ve already got ideas for two, with another four in a pile! So while this one isn’t quite right, it doesn’t mean the next one won’t be – I just have to write it.

On that note, I’m plotting. I started plotting out a necromancy-mafia-grimdark thing, but I’ve now gotten sidetracked onto something that’s started as a medieval-fantasy-politics (ugh, that sounds like GoT…it’s not, really, although maybe as that’s popular I should take advantage) and I’m throwing around ideas of how to make that one work. I need some enemies is the problem…

So, while NML may be currently shelved: onwards to the next story!