07/02/2014 21:44

Inspiration’s a really strange thing. I keep coming across things on Tumblr that I really want to write for, or from, and…the words won’t come. Which is annoying, because some of them are so good that I just want to be able to write the perfect story, or find the words to describe something. But I have realised that everything does go in, and then just sits in my brain to wait for the perfect time to jump out. (On a side note – half the places in Greensky are tiny towns we must have driven through when I was a child: it was only when I drove through again as an adult that I realised I hadn’t just made them up. Such a weird moment!)


I’ve been asked (well, ok, I volunteered) to write some short stories for an anthology on a Wiltshire theme. I’ve got lots of inspiration (check out my friend Toby King if you want beautiful pictures to be inspired by!) but nothing had jumped out.

So, essentially, I stopped trying. I stopped trying to plan a story, to start with a scene – and inspiration came out of nowhere (seriously, I have no idea where the story jumped from: I was on Tumblr and listening to Kodaline and then BAM), and I’ve just written a 1500-word short story about, well, a time-traveller. And how the past is always surrounding us.


It’s going to be fun to edit, and I might add more. It’s always interesting for me to write something outside the worlds of Greensky or Shadows, and I sometimes feel that I’ve become too immersed in them. Then something like Madcap Library turns up, of course, and I realise I’m not stuck at all. I just happen to be waiting for more inspiration…

Changing Winds: finished!

03/02/2014 12:55

I have just finished Changing Winds Part 2, which means I have three novellas complete in the Greensky series! Woot!


ChW2 is just over (like, 6 words over…) 30,000 words. It might get extended or reduced – it’s just gone to my proofreader for a first read so I’ll see what she makes of it.


I’m aiming to finish Salt Winds next, as that’s only got a chapter to finish, and then Empty Skies & Sunlight. I can do this, I can do this…

NYR: January progress report

01/02/2014 14:42

It’s the 1st February, so time to revisit: how am I doing on my New Year’s Resolutions?


Goal 1: Finish Changing Winds Part 2 and, as a stretch goal, finish Empty Skies.

Finish Changing Winds Part 2: ongoing. I’m on 27,000 words with a complete outline and most chapters written, two sections to expand and one chapter to write, so January progress on this is good.

Finish Empty Skies: also ongoing. It’s 14,000 words and I have done some work on it, so I’m happy.


Goal 2: Finish re-writing Shadows (which is sort of a get-this-done-in-January aim) and re-write Ghosts to fit in with what is now happening in Shadows.

Hah, yeah. No. No work done at all. I can’t get into the right headset for it, so I haven’t pushed myself.


Goal 3: Madcap Library: get some pictures done (ok, maybe that translated as “nag my illustrator”) and self-publish at least the first few.

In progress! Hannah’s currently working on some covers for the first two collections, so this is going well.


Goal 4: Continue on the road to official publication.

I sent some letters to agents at the beginning of January, but nothing else has progressed so far. So, ongoing.


Goal 5. Stretch goals: finish some of my other writing.

Nope. But then I have been working on Greensky, so I’m not too worried.

Salt Winds: notes on improvements

13/01/2014 10:16

Well, Salt Winds is coming together (I really need to update the section in my writing) and is approaching 25,000 words. I have one chapter left to write which is, usefully, the hardest…

I started the story with the idea of someone who, let’s face it, is a twat. And then life deals him a few hard punches (although most are of his own making) and he gets depressed, tries to commit suicide, fails and gets sent off to the seaside for his health. The rest of the story flows from there.

And the chapter I haven’t written yet is the first one, in which all of the above happens.


How do you write depression? How do I convey the absolute, overwhelming sense of hopelessness? How does it even work? I don’t want to end up with a chapter where all the reader is thinking is “oh, quit being whiny! Quit being useless!”. I mean, I already want to whack him round the head for being an arrogant, obnoxious idiot, so I don’t need to make it worse.

Depression isn’t easy to convey. Logically, when you lay it out, it’s simple. You’re feeling down; ok, so cheer up. Do something to make yourself feel better. No matter what life’s dealt you, it isn’t that bad; it could be worse. Just get up and do it.

But it really isn’t that simple. It’s all in your head, and that’s really hard to out across. I can lay out the reasons, I can lay out the feelings, but unless the reader can connect the two, and also understand – and empathise! – with Obak, it’s not going to work.

I need to get across the endless future, the endless tedium, the lack of anything that could make it better. I need to get across that the good things sometimes aren’t when you start looking at them from the inside. I need to get across the internal part of depression, not just the external view that everyone else sees.

And one of the things that I really want to get across, which I think is the core of depression; people don’t try to commit suicide because they want to die. They commit suicide because they don’t want to carry on. Because they want to remove themselves from everyone else’s worlds – for everyone else’s sake. Depression is inherently selfish, but it’s also cruel. It turns you around, makes you think that you’re a burden on the people who care and a nuisance to those who don’t. It makes you think that it wouldn’t matter if you were there or not. It makes you wonder why you are carrying on. It makes you realise that you really don’t matter. It makes you realise how small you really are. How weak. How insignificant.


And if I get all of that right, if I manage to convey depression, then I need to show him getting better. That’s important. Depression strips away everything, coats it in a grey fog that doesn’t let anything in. I need to show that fog releasing its hold. I need to show small things breaking through, the shock when you realise that you can feel again, that things do matter; the horror and sadness when you remember how you felt, what you thought, and realise what it would have done. That there are always little joys, little moments that are important. That despite what the world tells you and despite what you thought, you do matter, no matter how small you are. I need to show that it can – and does – get better. That it can be beaten.


I need to show both depression, as it really is, and being able to recover. And I need to do it so that the reader understands.

Three days of hard work

28/12/2013 11:29


…I may have spent the last three days writing. I’ve met my Nano wordcount (28,000) and am due to exceed it today, which is frustrating. Well, ok, it’s nice. But why could I not have produced that sort of wordcount in that time back in November?

I’m re-writing Shadows, and my strategy of actually plotting things out does seem to be working. I’m on chapter 7 now, where my plot sort of faltered, and I’m now actually having to think about what I’m writing. I’m also at the point where the relationship between Eli and Mike gets complicated, and that’s making me think too. Ho hum.

I’m going to get some time off for the next few days, as we’re down in Devon at the in-laws for New Year – and I refuse to take my laptop. I may take my sewing, but at least I am likely to talk while I sew. 


That’s all, folks. Happy New Year if I don’t get on here before the 1st!