Cracking Up.

No, not me, although it’d not take a lot at the moment.

Here’s the leaky culprit who’s caused all the grief:

Pipe

Hello. My name is Inigo Pipetoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.

Plumber came out today and sorted it out. It’s a darned sight less money than I was anticipating and this makes me exceptionally happy. Not just for the obvious ‘it’s less money’ reason, but also because it means that we can now afford to have our week to Ireland in April that was on hold pending the terror of a mega-bill. Hooray for good news!

What else is going on? I exchanged a couple of emails earlier this week with the World’s Nicest Man and a couple of things he said have left me grinning ever so slightly… particularly the ‘…remember what dogs think of street lamps’ comment that was Just The Right Thing at Just The Right Time. The World’s Nicest Man has been one of the best sources of advice and encouragement ever since this wild and crazy writing thing began and I probably don’t appreciate him publicly enough anywhere near enough. Enough embarrassing him now.

Am working on Accursed Eternity at the moment. It’s not going too badly, but I am finding it weird getting my head out of Huron Blackheart space and into the head of a Star Dragons captain. I completed another short story in Ultra Super Record time, but seeing as that featured Huron Blackheart, it was pretty easy to keep in his ‘head’. This is completely different. Fun, but different. Here. Have a brief excerpt.

‘Ask?’ Tanek’s brow raised. ‘That is not something you usually do, Remigius.’

‘I am pleased that you remember the tenets of my order, Captain Tanek. I have the decree here if you wish to check it…?’ Remigius took out a dataslate and offered it out to the Captain, who ignored it in favour of staring at the Inquisitor.

‘If we do not agree?’

‘I believe you will find that you are not in a position to refuse my request.’ Remigius’s smile could have frozen oceans. ‘Or have you forgotten the terms of the agreement we made the last time we met?’

Waiting for Christian’s feedback on The Gildar Rift second draft. Am sincerely hoping that it’ll just be minor edits now. I am still thrilled that there was really very little to be edited in terms of the overall story, still stunned that a character I thought would be culled got more ‘screen time’ and still enthusiastic about the whole project. It’s occasionally very weird to realise that it’s done and I’ve moved onto the next thing. TGR is going to be my ‘baby’ for a long time, I think.

Onwards, upwards, and back to the Eye of Terror.

Ave Imperator!

Progress [Gildar Rift Update #11]

November Target: 50,000 words
Current Word Count: 61,031 words

Yeah, I am pleased with myself. I’ve actually backed up now and am beginning the potentially terrifying task of Operation First Read Through and Edit. I’ve reached a suitable break in the story where I can do this without breaking from the flow too much. It was going to be needed eventually and I’m just pleased that I’m at that stage – what, three weeks ahead of my deadline? Yep. Am pleased. So the word count will be static for a bit, give or take addition/subtractions of editing.

Other than the writing, this week was going OK until the snow hit. Seriously, our local council have no clue. It’s almost as though they see the snow out the window three days after it’s fallen and say ‘what the hell? Nobody told us it was going to snow!’ The roads in and out of the village I live in are treacherous: we live quite high up, but still in a dip – there are hills either side of us (not steep) – but both of these are absolutely impassable unless you have a four by four or pram wheels for tyres. Insane. It’s a fething bus route – you’d think they’d have done something about that. Poor Dearly Beloved was out there for hours this morning trying to get a bus to go to work. He failed, as did his assistant manager. Thus, the shop didn’t open at all today.

A great example of local authorities causing more problems for independent businesses, bless them.

As a result, my Plan To Go And Buy Some Clothes went down the tubes this weekend and I’ve stayed indoors, doing some writing, playing WoW (I’m loving the broken world very, very much) and just generally chilling.

It’s December next week. December 10th will see the 10th anniversary of my mother’s death. This makes me very sad, because not a day goes past when I don’t miss her horribly. Expect the annual ‘letter to Mum’ – I do one every year. It’s also the day that our Christmas decorations go up. I have a mince pie and a glass of mulled wine and I think about her. She loved Christmas and always made it special for my brother and I when we were growing up. She’d have loved spoiling Small Son.

Anyway, enough maudlin behaviour – I’m cooking sausages roasted with onions, apple and sage, drizzled with wholegrain mustard and maple syrup. It sounds amazing, it smells amazing and I’m hoping it’ll taste amazing! I’ve been quite creative with food this week, I enjoy cooking. Made chocolate chip muffins yesterday. They have now all gone. Hooray!

Anyway, onwards and upwards! The Ultramarines movie is due for launch tomorrow… looking forward to that dropping on to the door mat.

Progress [Gildar Rift Update #9]

November Word Count Target: 50,000
Current Word Count: 51,000

Yes, I know. See that deliciously perfectly in-your-face-target 1,000 words? Beautifully rounded up and tidy?

Hello, the right side of 50,000 words!

It’s been a good week actually. Chapter nine, which is where I am just now, has been flowing really, really well. There is much going on just now; several threads which I’m keeping tightly hold of, waiting for that fun moment when I get to pull it all taut. At that point, everything will come together like… like… like the cake I baked last weekend. (A strange comment to be sure; but then, I’m the least domesticated person I know and baking is almost anathema to me).

Even work has been an improvement this week apart from one or two things which I won’t go into here. Can’t be doing with the Day Job prodding its nose into my Other Life.

Black Library Live! 2011 tickets went on sale this week too, so that’s all sorted and I’m really looking forward to it. Check out the Twitter feed – #BLLive2011. We went last year (as is evidenced elsewhere in this blog), but so much has changed in 2010. It’s been my year, for sure. But I think – I hope - that 2011 is going to be even better. I’m pretty much resigned to the fact that I’ll be giving up LRP for at least the next year. This is for my own sanity more than anything else. The grief I’ve got from that hobby was lessened exponentially this year and I like not having to feel responsible for pleasing all those people all of the time.

Back to this week: what else? I enjoyed my Guilty Pleasure (Strictly Come Dancing) last night. I can’t tell you why I like watching it, but there it is. There’s something about seeing just how damn hard some of them try – and the output is entertaining at the least and hilarious at the best. I would like to see Anne Widdecombe leave now, because although she really is great entertainment value and deserves much kudos for letting Brucie take the piss every week, the other dancers left deserve a chance to shine in the remaining weeks. I thought she was particularly enjoyable this week performing the foxtrot, because for once, she actually seemed to be dancing rather than just letting Anton drag her round. Scott Maslen’s jive was by far the highlight of last night, though. Nicely done. I want Pamela Stephenson to win, though. I just like the woman, OK?

Spent much of yesterday in town with Small Son. New manager of GW Durham is a nice guy and I had some great conversations with him whilst he oversaw the antics of a shop filled with slightly hyperactive teenagers who are still a pleasant (if pungent at times) bunch. Spent an inordinate amount of cash on, variously, the Imperial Armour Badab War book, the new Dark Eldar codex and Insignium Astartes. #itcountsasresearch

Dragged Dearly Beloved into the Twitter age. He finally had enough of Facebook and certain people on it. I think less said about that, the better.

Had a good conversation with the Illustrious Mr. Dunn yesterday regarding current and possible future projects. It was a good conversation. No, it was an excellent conversation. I am Very Excited Indeed.

And now… back to it!

In the meantime, here is an amusing rabbit.

ALL YOUR FUR ARE BELONG TO US!

ALL YOUR FUR ARE BELONG TO US!

Progress [Gildar Rift Update #3]

End October Target: 30,000
Current Word Count: 17,546

Given that I work full time and have to fit my writing around this incidental obstacle, I’m going great guns. Things are flowing well just now. I keep getting those wonderful moments when you suddenly realise exactly why it is that Character A does this, or why Character B says that. Moments of toe-curling glee when everything just seems to slot together brilliantly. I’m still enjoying myself. This probably helps. Ask me again in about 10 weeks time when the first deadline looms like a… like a… looming thing.

I’m well into Chapter Four now, which worried me initially on re-reading my chapter-by-chapter breakdown. I get this a lot. I read the chapter outline and have this moment of inner Abject Panic where I’m saying ‘how the HELL am I going to pad that out into an entire chapter?’ You find ways. Things happened in Chapter Three that gave me great inroads into Chapter Four. Chapter Three was pretty hectic: lots going on, many different camera angles… Chapter Four is a bit of a cooldown in comparison.

I’ve not yet re-read what I’ve done. I’m still working hard on getting the story down. The urge to go back and edit now is getting very strong, though. I have a deliciously fabulous first reader who keeps me on the straight and narrow. He had nothing to comment on where Chapter Three was concerned, which was fantastic. I’m liking that chapter. You watch, it’ll be the one that the Editor-beast goes ‘re-write that, would you? kthx.’

So ever onwards, ever upwards. I’m pretty sure I’ll be well over the 25k mark by the end of this week if it keeps going at this pace: I have the house to myself on Sunday as Small Son will be at his dad’s and Dearly Beloved will be at work. So as long as I can resist the temptation of the Bolthole/Facebook/Twitter/LiveJournal/WoW/DoW et al I’ll be just grand.

In other news, Dearly Beloved has nearly finished reading The First Heretic. This is entirely fabulous, because it means I can actually get to read it now.

Progress [Gildar Rift Update #2]

End of September target = 10,000 words.
‘Clocked off’ tonight at     = 10,809 words.

Lawks, and probably a-mercy, but I’m ahead of myself. This is entirely good and has already made me feel a little less pressured.

Chapter Two, that most evil and heinous of wee beasties refused to start and then, after it hauled itself, wheezing from the primordial soup of my fledgling author’s mind, refused to stop when I wanted it to. I’m still not entirely sure that it’s finished, but I found a suitable and appropriate breaking point for it and have breezed cheekily onto Chapter Three.

Didn’t have such a problem with starting that one, though and have to say that I’m almost ridiculously pleased with the opening sentences. I had to turn the light on.

In summary – damn me, it’s going better than I could ever have anticipated, but I’m really looking forward to the first re-read and edit. I’m trying not to let myself get sucked into re-reading as I go along and instead concentrate on telling the story as it tumbles from the churning idea mill inside my head. The words will rearrange themselves properly at a later date.

More than that?

I’m loving every moment of this.

Happy-tastic!

Plus, I’m rewarding my over-achievement with an early night…

Progress [Gildar Rift Update #1]

Well, I had this sort of crazy idea that I’d do a (probably infrequent) update whenever things were happening during the course of writing Gildar Rift. I figured, why the hell not – it’s an experience I’ve never had before and I know a bunch of people are fascinated by the process. So… well, here’s where I am currently.

Some point last week – I finally finished back-and-forthing my chapter-by-chapter breakdown with my shiny editor and received my commission. Right before Games Day. Now, on his advice, I’d not made a start. So I made the conscious decision to leave starting it properly until the beginning of this week. I’ve set myself a bunch of word count targets – be very interesting to see how they go. Or don’t. But you know. Optimism! My glass? See it? My glass is half full. Of bleach. Or arsenic, maybe.

Anyway.

Of course, I didn’t really listen to my own advice and got most of Chapter 1 down on paper before Games Day.

So… here I am, at the end of official Day 2. Despite the fact there’s only a couple of days left in September, I’ve given myself a 10,000 word target. As of tonight, my current word count sits at a pretty satisfying 8,212. I’ve done all of Chapter 1 and most of Chapter 2 – and so far, it’s reasonably plain sailing. Admittedly, I got to the beginning of Chapter 2 and had a minor flail during which I claimed repeatedly that I couldn’t possibly achieve this. Then I just let my fingers take over and bang – over 3,000 words in Chapter 2 tonight alone.

Am I happy with what I’ve written so far? Well, mostly. But I’ve not yet re-read and edited. It’s far too easy to get hung up in the editing process. One of the things I HAVE decided I need to do is keep track of reasonably critical things like character eye colours, hair styles… that sort of thing. I’m only two chapters in and it’s something that’s already occurred to me.

Chapter 2 has been interesting because it’s very much a ‘building’ chapter, with no action as such. This is weird for me because until now, my experience has been short stories – and the pacing is very, very different. However, I’m not worrying too much about it, if only because I know how much is waiting in Chapter 3. Which I’m looking forward to enormously.

So… so far, so good.

Onwards and upwards, eh?

Stress Level 1-10, where 1 is ‘reasonably chilled’ and 10 is ‘exploding with the pressure’… 2.

I Love It When A Plan Comes Together…

Colonel John ‘Hannibal’ Smith. The MacGuyver of his time.

As an aside – we went to see the A Team movie last weekend. If you’re in any way a fan of the old TV show, go and see it. It was wonderful. Had the charm and charisma of the original, with all the kick-assery that comes with a Hollywood budget. And Sholto Copley was born to play Murdock. Believe me, I was one of the biggest A Team fans back in the 80’s – and I wasn’t annoyed at the bringing-it-up-to-date treatment. It was great.

Anyway, plans.

I have work to do, yo. This means actually getting my ass into gear and beginning the job of planning out where I’m going with the story that I’m working on. I have my overall outline, which is great. Now I’m starting to realise that I need to record somewhere what Joe Marine does on page 74 and how it has a bearing on what Sid Marine does on page 167. Fortunately, other than the assorted squads of Redshirt Marines, I haven’t given myself TOO many main characters to fret over. Still, what Joe Marine does on page 74 might well have a direct impact on poor Brother Sergeant Redshirt’s activities later on in the story.

To this end, I’m considering commandeering the wall in the dining room (where my PC currently resides – two bedroom house, no quiet study room for me!) for a sort of timeline. A sort of visual reminder of Places I Have Been and Places To Which I Am Headed. This throws me into a dilemma, because it’ll mean my dining room will revert to looking like a student house all over again. This is kind of cool in its own sort of fucked-up way, but I’m not, neither have I ever been, a student. I have a nice house. Untidy and bursting at the seams with books and DVDs, certainly – but nice nonetheless. Will removing the beautiful wall hanging of a tiger make me any less of an adult?

Well, yes. Yes, it will.

But it’s my plan, man. I need to see my plan in front of me in a non-electronic format. Somewhere I can glance without having to wear my finger out on the mouse wheel as I scroll up, down, up, down, up, down…

The ideal plan was thwarted. We were looking at Operation Move House a month or two ago, but the market is so dire in this village at the moment that I wouldn’t even get what I paid for my own house. This is largely down to one house that’s on the market for a quick sale and which has been priced stupidly low. I wish someone would buy it already. Anyway, Operation House Move saw us looking seriously at a nice three bedroom place closer to Durham, with a little back bedroom that would have made a perfect study. We were properly excited by the thought, but then it all fell through, to the echo of crashing misery and disappointment.

I love it when a plan comes together, but I fecking hate it when external influences screw me over.

Anyway.

Back to my planning.

Are you still watching that space? Good.

Sunday, Bloody Sunday

Well, not so much bloody as snowy.  Was supposed to be going down to Leeds to Kayleigh and Spencer’s place, but the persistent White Stuff has returned, which coupled with a phone call to advise me that there was about six inches of the stuff in Leeds already put an end to that plan.

Have been quietly productive over the weekend.  In light of what I ranted about the other day regarding my online stories being a sort of ‘scrap book for the writing soul’, I took one of them gently from its rack, gave it a polish and put it back.  Then I looked at it, took it down again and gave it a second polish and shine.  I’m quite pleased with the results. 

The fic in question is A Human Moment, one of my personal favourite character vignettes. I like character pieces. I love creating characters and giving them sense and purpose and style and shape. I like to just put them into situations and write for them, seeing how they react. A number of my characters have deviated from their original conception in this way. But that’s good, for me, at least. Characters who don’t behave the way you predict can sometimes bring their own stories with them.

Bimbled around on WoW yesterday… was truly awesome to ‘bump’ into Katie and her Level 80 Ninja Pirate, or whatever the heck she is.  Whatever it is, it’s ultra-cool.  :-)

Other than that, this weekend is particularly quiet.  ‘Being Human’ tonight (yay!) and we have pork for dinner. Delicious food brought to you from the heart of the Omnomnomnicon.

And tomorrow… back to work, back to reality and all that entails.

On Reading…

As opposed to ‘On Writing’, which is a great book by Stephen King.  Believe you me, that previous sentence is something I never thought I would write and actually mean.  I’ve read quite a few of the illustrious Mr. King’s works.  I liked the first three books of the ‘Dark Tower’ series, in particular ‘The Drawing of the Three’, but then there was ‘Wizard and Glass’.  The trip to Hell was made all the quicker by the grease on the handbasket.

And all this led me to think: “I need to re-visit that series.  I need to re-visit it and be aware of what it is that actually makes me dislike it so much once it hits ‘WaG’.”  And then THAT train of thought chuffed out of the station and off on a scenic tour of ‘task for the rest of October is to randomly pull books off the shelf and say why I do or don’t like them’.  It’s part of a writing exercise.  Really it is.

I’m sat here right now looking at one of my many, many bookshelves.  I also have books on other surfaces, because you really can’t have enough of them.  I have a vastly eclectic mix of books up there, too – years of trying to get out of the fantasy/SF genre.  There are:

  1. Well known books (the Discworld series, the Dresden Files series). 
  2. Children’s classics (The Wind in the Willows, Charlotte’s Web, Tarka the Otter, the Harry Potter series). 
  3. Books that I bought on a whim, read three pages of and wished I’d never bothered (‘Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus). 
  4. Bubblegum books (Marian Keyes falls into this category, but it seems almost unfair)
  5. A book that I was forced to read, practically at gun point for my English A level that were I a different breed of person I would happily burn in a grand ceremony.  (Pride and Prejudice)
  6. Works of non-fiction (Ancient Rome, the Plantaganets, In Search of the Edge of Time by John Gribbin, which I don’t understand at all, but which makes a great pretentious talking point)
  7. Books that don’t fit into any other category but which are books and therefore Good To Own.

So.  To pick one at random, without being naturally pulled towards something I WANT to read.  Plan is to force self to say wahat I do and don’t like about it.  So…

I’m going to randomly go for ‘Winter Warriors’ by David Gemmell.

It was entirely random and had nothing to do with the fact that I love it.