Category: Writing


NaNoWriMo encore….

Right now I am sitting on the floor next to a table under which my dog is hiding from the fireworks, poor lad. He will settle and go to sleep if I’m here but if not he gets really anxious and goes on patrol. In fact, he far prefers it if OH and I are in the same room (collie herding instincts kicking in, we think) but he’ll settle for me sitting on the floor next to him, and I don’t mind, as he’s a love. I am, however, going to have to keep this short, as otherwise my legs will go to sleep and I’ll fall over when i do have to get up. Besides which, jerk chicken for tea (ALL THE NOMS!).

Anyhow. This year, as usual, I am hoping to take part in NaNoWriMo. My page, if you’re doing it, is here.The past three years being what they are, it didn’t go specially well, but so far this year I did manage to get far enough ahead to spend a weekend dog-wrangling without falling too far behind.

Every year there is a great discussion over whether it’s worth doing Wrimo or not, and I think it’s very much dependent on how you work. Last three years I’ve been too burnt out to relish the challenge, but mostly it appeals to my geekly side – I want to see that barchart advancing in a steady manner, dammit! And as always, even though what you get down is not going to be top quality, what first draft ever is? For me, it’s a good way to have a specific goal, and get down a chunk of words that I otherwise would not have done.

The other side of it, of course, is that everyone in my family knows that in November you’ll get no sense out of me at all because I’m doing Wrimo, so I can get away with prioritising my writing then in a way that doesn’t happen the rest of the year, because it’s a specific, measured challenge in a specific, limited amount of time. So though I try to set aside a chunk of time every day for writing that I can, the only time other considerations don’t really present themselves to impinge on that is during Wrimo. Very useful.

The novel I’m NaNoing is the third in the new series and as you see, it’s currently about 15k words. Stuff is getting sticky for the heroine, and back at the ranch (so to speak) it’s all going to kick off for the hero too, so exciting times…!

Meanwhile back IRL, I am working through edits on the sequel to Sprig of Holly, which will be called The Holly and the Ivy. I hope to have a cover done for it by Wesley Souza, the incredibly talented guy who did the cover for Sprig, which I totally love! So watch out for that, hopefully before Christmas (fingers crossed the edits are not too involved!)

And in the meantime, we are working on this year’s Christmas Lites — the anthology a pile of us do every year to raise funds for victims of domestic violence. All monies go straight into the coffers of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, and if possible I might try to get some of the other authors to come and guest in the run up to that. So, y’know, busy busy.

But for now, enough! the fireworks have quietened, the dog has relaxed, I have severe pins and needles in my legs, and it’s time to put the oven on for my current favourite food ever. Then tea, a last circuit with the Luxury Lurcher, and an early night with the laptop to try and do a bit of catch-up on the NaNo count!

It’s all good…

Have an excellent week, peeps, and will catch you the other side…

JAC.

 

 

 

 

While I remember:

Free copy of The Scarred Artisan if anyone wants one?
You sign up to the mailing list to get it but can always unsubscribe later- there’s a link at the bottom of any email that gets sent out.

Please note, this is one of the shorts from Song of the Ice Lord so if you’ve read that, you’ve probably already got this!

in which case try The Black-Eyed Susan free here:

Oh! Hello.

Let me just shift these tumbleweeds out of the way, I’m sure there used to be a blog here somewhere.

Aha! Here we go… Lord, it’s a bit dusty isn’t it? Pass me that duster will you?

There, that’s better.

Give me a moment and I’ll crank up the generator… See the lights flicker – orange, yellow, white and we’re on! 
Wow. It’s been a while, hasn’t it? We’ve been in the Great Blog Void and fingers crossed, we may be just getting across to the other side. Let’s see, when was the last time I put something up on here…? About a year back I think. Rude!

But it’s been a hell of a year.

So. I won’t go through the list of joys and woes which have made the last 12 months what they have been but the main points (in chronological order) include: adopting an elderly lurcher in October 2015, who has been a constant source of joy, irritation and laughter, and whose arrival was accompanied by that of a small colony of (empty!) poo bags which have invaded the pockets of every garment I possess. Said lurcher is very beautiful and has his own fanclub in the village, so we are now known as the dog’s owners in much the same way as members of a star’s entourage; basically, we just hold the lead. Bless him. He’s thirteen in April, which is quite old for a lurcher, but thinks he is a puppy still. Given how beautiful he is now, I suspect he was unbearably cute as a pup. My lovely dog….

On a much less happy note, cancer. There was already a family member undergoing treatment (with a good outcome, fortunately) when my Dad who had Parkinsons was diagnosed with terminal cancer. That was at Christmas; it took him very suddenly at Easter. So that called a stop to pretty much everything for a while, and it really wasn’t kind that two weeks after he died, my mum lost her little cat, which slept on her bed every night, or that shortly after my sister’s much beloved dog had to be put down, both due to malign growths. (I don’t know why there is so much cancer about this year; other friends have also been lost to cancer, including the lovely Katy Sozaeva, whose encouragement right at the beginning of my writing career kept me going in a time of doubt.)

But, by necessity, once the funeral was over we had to get going again, as our wedding was at the end of July, which kept my mum and the rest of us busy just at that weird point where everything’s done and the madness is over and all that is left is the empty chair and the quiet.

The wedding had been designed with the idea of not stressing my Dad out, so it was just the two immediate families in a pub on the moors, followed by roast beef sarnies in a yurt outside the house, and live music by a very talented friend (as well as my sister, a kazoo, the lurcher who apparently knows how to bark in time, etc). I came in to “Bring me Sunshine” by Morecambe and Wise, wearing black jeans, a black and silver corset and a purple coat my mum made from a pattern called “Pirate Queen”, which will tickle anyone who knows about my lifelong penchant for pirates (and I may use that phrase as a title at some point now I’ve invented it). She even put pockets in it. My wedding dress had pockets!! I was very pleased about that. I hate not having pockets.

My mum also made some tremendous glimmering blue brocade waistcoats for the blokes, and my new husband looked splendid; channelling his inner pirate, clearly, though that was just incidental. In a surprise move, my mum even made a waistcoat for the dog who, when we put it on for a photo, seemed completely content and wandered off to steal (another) beef sarnie without waiting for us to take it off him again. My sister did the flowers, which were some of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen. 

The bridesmaids, who had chosen their own dresses, all chose white in different styles, and all looked very stylish and very much themselves. The yurt was magical! We loved the yurt. The weather was mizzlish, but this is Yorkshire, and it does mizzle with style – besides which a dull sky actually suits the photos better – it makes all the people look really vivid and there are so many smiles that each photo is pretty sunny in any case.  I don’t tend to put up pics of friends or family for reasons of privacy but here’s one of me having been persuaded to channel my inner Mary Poppins. Spit spot!

 (The photographer was Richard Edwards who is extremely good, btw)


Apart from the missing family members, it was two shades better than I had hoped in pretty much every aspect you could think of. We sang “The Wild Rover” for my Dad, laughed and cried, often at the same time, had splendid local food and drink (ok, mostly, the wine was from Hampshire and the bubbly came from Cornwall), sang and chattered. All the olds got caught up in a vicious competition to see who could blow the biggest bubble (there were bubbles instead of confetti) and in most of the photos, someone appears to be laughing their head off. In any case, I enjoyed every moment of it. It was *such* fun – and about perfect.

Then, after that, newlywed life kicked in which as far as I can tell is very much like normal life but when absolutely nothing has got done in the house for about five months. The washing was tremendous and the garden had gone mad. The bathroom doorhandle fell off, the kitchen light stopped working and the downpipe for the rainbarrel was hanging in place apparently only because of the spiderwebs around it, though the same spiders had seen fit to make a massive web of the entire inside of the lean-to where I keep flowerpots and gardening gloves, so I had to fight my way in in with a crystal containing the light of Earendil in order to retrieve the trowel, which Shelob had taken a fancy to.  I went back to work and discovered my inbox, which usually holds about 85 items, had hit 1600 in my absence, and started to wonder whether I shouldn’t go back and have another chat with Shelob about that there gardening fork…! And then we ran out of teabags at a critical point (nooooooo!). 

So, a bit of elbow grease and we’re coming up to date on all of the above… but in the meantime, what of the damn books, which is why we’re here?

Weeelllllllll. Now it gets complex.

Last time you looked I was writing Mother, right? Well, my editor said it would be better if I cut the backstory. So I did, but it was about 15k words I was cutting, so I figured I’d release it as a short. So I rounded it off, but that meant doing a few explanatory bits. So when it hit 45k words I sent it back to the editor in question, who came back and said “How does Suze come in?” 

Damndamndamn. That little 5 word question would then require about a 45k word answer. So in it went, but then the chronology was all wrong, so I changed it, but then it was all wrong the other way, and this isn’t even the right damned book!! But it made sense to get the prequel right before going onto the sequel in case something significant went in that would cause repercussions later. I kid you not, that damn book (now called Flight from Shantar) has been over a year in the editing, and it got to the point where I couldn’t even see it any more. The one bright spot was when I got a bit click-happy with spellcheck and changed every instance of the word “Shantar” in the novel Flight from Shantar to “SHATNER”!!!… Thank goodness for the Undo button! (Though I still haven’t given up entirely on Flight from SHATNER!! – you *know* it would sell and sell…..!) 

Anyhow, it was all a bit irrelevant in any case, as I was too burnt out for anything in the first half of the year, and too busy sorting out Dad’s paperwork for my Mum. Once I’d got a bit of mojo back after that I went on a reading binge instead, which is always salutary… and then, come the beginning of July, just as the wedding stuff was really hotting up, I dreamed this great character, and it was a bit compulsive. I couldn’t get him and his heroine out of my head and there was stuff to be done, so I figured it was time to make some notes and just download the bugger. 

BUT these characters are arsey and not inclined to play nicely. 

Some notes! Yeah right, in the same sense as a map with a scale of 1:1. 

So by the end of August, these “notes” had taken the form of a 110k word book. At the time of writing, I’m 120k into book 2 and books 3 & 4 are all mapped out. As soon as I get to a sensible stopping place, I’m putting Flight back together and sending it to the editors (with the hope that fresh eyes will be able to sort out the chronology more easily than I can), so with a bit of luck that won’t need too much in the way of rewrites and might be out in early 2017. The new Christmas Lites anthology is due in December. I have a short story (currently 10k) in editing which is a sequel to Sprig of Holly, and when all that is put to bed, Mother of the Shantar is already 85k done, (Shatner, heheheheh) and ready to start culling characters!

Man, if I didn’t already have a fulltime job I would be adequately provided with writing hours just from this lot!!

So yes, as far as you lot are concerned, I’ve been off the radar for a rather long time with little enough to show on the actual publications page but a short story in last year’s Christmas Lites anthology (though I did help design the cover, which I totally love). But I haven’t let the writing drop – ohhhh nooooo – and I’m hoping the next 18 months or so should bring you the occasional release to remind you who I am.

We’ll see, eh?

Anyhow, there may be a couple of cover reveals and other interesting news brewing in the meantime, but that all very much tbc…

The new lot though, the new lot is looking interesting and this time I’m playing with the somewhat random idea of writing the entire thing before I release any of it, so that in theory you’ll be able to read the entire story arc from start to finish with only a couple of weeks’ wait from one book to the next. If anyone has any thoughts about that, I’d be really interested to hear them. Might be a good plan, might be stupid – no idea at the moment.

Just wait till you meet the Wolf and Lyse, though!!

I think you’re going to like them…. 

Till later:

JAC

….half….

Just a short update:

Song of the Ice Lord
Cover is done and rather splendid – reveal should be in a couple of days, and hopefully some time in the next week or so pre-orders should be available. Files for the paperback are uploaded and assuming they pass review, the first proof should be ordered later on today, and is likely to arrive in the UK this time next week. Excited!!

Flight from Shantar:
Currently just short of 110k words (I’m getting on with finishing that while waiting for Song to be processed). The story is nearly finished but will need a bit of rearranging and then some pretty hardcore editing for tone and consistency. It needs a deal more work, but hopefully it will make a good, taut story by the end of it. A couple more bits of tidy-up and then I’ll print it out and start scribbling on it!

Book 3:
Still lurking around 100k words but though not much writing is happening till I finish with the others, plotting and sense-checking is ongoing, which means all the various plot-strands and motivations are starting to fall into place in a more sensible manner. Again, lots of work to be done, and it wouldn’t surprise me if the wordcount gets split between two books eventually – the 100k is missing a lot of character’s storylines – but the frame is in place and the bodywork is starting to take shape. So even that’s progressing, albeit slowly.

Lastly there are three short stories embedded into the text of Song and I’m thinking of releasing them as free shorts, provisionally titled “The Last Dragon”, “The Scarred Artisan” and “The Widow’s Son” (though the last is a rubbish title and hopefully likely to morph into something snappier).

Get me with the progress!! I have a good feeling about this year though… Fingers crossed!
Right. Back to it.

Cover reveal for Song should be in the next week or so, and release date before the end of the month so as always, watch this space for progress.
All the best:
JAC
*****

Dear all:

Developments, and it’s getting exciting.

Flight from Shantar and book 3 set aside for the moment while I’m working to release Song of the Ice Lord. Clocking in at somewhere around 95k words, I’ve had it back from both editors and there is only one small rewrite still to finish, which should be done in the next few days I hope, after which it will be off to Trish for formatting.

I’m currently in discussion about the cover – it will feature the bird Tiris, and possibly the stone circle which plays an important part in the proceedings. I would quite like to have the protagonist, Lodden, on the cover, but many stock photos look really modern, even the ones in old-fashioned clothes, and that would spoil it entirely. I shall investigate but probably going with the simplest image possible, and then maybe something a bit more ornate in terms of the font. Getting there though(rah! I love that bit!)

So, it will be three or four weeks before I get my slot for the cover, and I should imagine something similar for queuing for formatting, but if all goes well I might be set for a July release… If I can push it forward I’ll try for midsummer though. That would be pleasing, but it doesn’t usually slide earlier so much as later!

We’ll see. Depends on the queues and how well the paperback file works though, (not to mention posting times for the proof. I WISH they’d do that from the UK – it adds a week on quite unnecessarily, and that’s when you pay three times for the postage what you pay for the proof itself!)

And then… well, then onto Flight and Book 3, but it will be good all the same!
More as I know it:
JAC

Dear all:

It’s been a while since I last gave you an update, I know, but it’s not that I’ve forgotten you. I’m ensconced deep in the writing cave, doing my best to actually finish some stuff for you – and it’s starting to move a bit at last. Very exciting! So let me tell you a little about what’s been going on…

Book 3: This is now at 80 thousand words or so, and there is still much work to be done. I’m aiming to make this a proper fantasy-sized book but it all depends where the story breaks. Of course the larger story arc is hardly begun yet, but currently I’m thinking this should be a three-paperback story arc and come in nicely as a kind-of trilogy.
The flipside to that is that it’s just too messy having two novellas in one as a starter, so there may be a re-branding along the line to clarify this. This would involve the loss of many of the reviews that are currently up though, and I really value your reviews, so I need to think about how best to manage that. Watch this space.

Flight from Shantar: This is a prequel to events in the On Dark Shores series, and tells of the journey to bring the Mother of the Shantar from the heartlands of her country and smuggle her into Mardon, the country which has only recently been at war with her own. It links in with the arrival of Jack and Vansel in On Dark Shores, and introduces you to characters who will play a large part in Book 3.
This is now at 80k words and nearly at the end of the first draft…. Another ten thousand words (ish) should join up the gaps, then there’ll be a bit of rearrangement before I send it off to the editors to be attacked with scalpels… The second half has had a bit of work already (ie it came back with the comment “How did Suze get involved?” – a small question requiring a 40k word answer!), so it’ll be structural stuff on the first half, and word-polishing on the second. Baby steps, people!
But in the meantime…

Song of the Ice Lord: This is a story from the ancient history of the world of On Dark Shores, set millennia before the current storyline. A dark and terrifying being known as the Ice Lord precipitates the world into a devastating war. Country after country falls before him, until only a few survivors are left, gathered on the Skral islands, and having finished with the rest, the Ice Lord is coming for them. Only the determination of a one-handed craftsman, a young Skral bard and a half-blind Shantara will stand between the Ice Lord and the death of a world…
This is now in its second edit (ie structural stuff done, word-polishing attempted) and currently at about 90k words, though this may be subject to further scalpelling. Hopefully not much though… I’m getting it back from one editor tomorrow, but the other probably won’t finish with it till partway through April, so in the hiatus I’ll be inputting any edits from Julia and working on the other stories. Updates will follow….

So, progress! I am talking to a designer about covers for Song, and as soon as the final edits are back and input, that will be going off to the formatters. Hopefully sometime over the summer there might even be a release! Hurrah! I make no promises though, given my appalling record to date…

I know you are probably a bit cross as the one you really want to read is Book 3, but bear with me – at the moment I’m juggling 3 stories which is a silly idea… Soon to be 2 though, and with a bit of luck, in a couple of months’ time you’ll have something to be getting on with while I’m concentrating on untangling the events back in Scarlock where, let me tell you, it’s getting dangerous to leave the house at night. And WAIT till you find out a bit more about Copeland! Can’t wait tell you all the gossip I’ve discovered!

Right. Enough squeeing, more writing. I will be interested to see what you think, though, of all of them. Hopefully you will enjoy them even if they are sequentially challenged…. Also, if you haven’t signed up to the email list on Amazon.com (not UK, the one on the .com author page) please do as that way they’ll definitely tell you when the next one hits cyberspace. Which might not be so very long now, rah!

Well, that’s my fifteen mins of fresh air. Back to the writing cave!
Have a good one, all:
JAC

Rolling…

Hey peeps;

Book 3 now stands at sixty thousand words, up from 35k. Lots more to come but the story progresses!

Not much to report with Flight at the moment, but Song is going through a self-edit post-rewrites, slowly at the moment as it’s being fitted round Wrimo writing time, but creeping on. Quite excited about Song, actually.

Sprig of Holly is flying off the shelves! Over 450 downloads so far this month in the US alone! In celebration, I’m getting a new cover done, so watch this space for details of the reveal.

Lastly, a note from Dulcie Feenan, who tells me that readers considering taking a look at “Christmas comes to Oddleton” might like to know that it will be on sale at reduced price on Kindle around the weekend of 6th December.

Have a good evening, all!
JAC

Hey peeps;

Another check-in, briefly, because I’m saving all my word-time for writing!

As you know, I’m currently working on two novellas at once as well as Book 3… well, the first edit (the one I do) is now done on “Flight from Shantar” and it’s ready to go off to my editor. Why am I working on this before Book 3, you ask (and a few of you have done)?

Flight was originally written to be one of the ODS series, and the events in it happen concurrently with the first books; but to put it in the main series brings the timeline to a juddering halt. This is why this section was cut from Book 3 – but at the same time it’s a story which readers might like to hear; and so it’s going into the Parallels series.

It tells of the flight of the Mother of the Shantar from her homeland, across the border with the country of Mardon with Vansel’s crew, headed by disgraced Skral warrior Alaric. On the way, her trail is  picked up by the Mardonese army, who are still chasing her ten years after the war between the Shantar and the Mardonese. Alaric has to get the Mother across to Scarlock to pick up Jack and Vansel – but the mysterious Jonas has other ideas…

Anyhow; that one is a step further on, and I’m now putting the finishing touches to Song of the Ice Lord, of which more anon…

That’s it for now, but just an update so you know I haven’t forgotten you all!

Take care;

JAC

Oi, WordPress, what’s going on?! I just wrote a long post with the latest updates and  WordPress just ate it – it’s not even in Drafts! Grrr….

Okay, run out of time now. Potted version:

a) Happy Easter.

b) Snow. Oooh, cold! Big drifts in this neck of the world, most spectacular.

c) Busy! Lots of moving house and changing jobs of late but hopefully a quiet spell is due so a bit of editing is happening in spare moments.

What editing? Initial corrections on the bit cut from Book 3, which will be released as a separate in the Parallels series (current working title Flight from Shantar, but that’s a bit clunky I think. Thoughts, anyone?). When this is sent off to my excellent word-surgeon, last lot of corrections and inputs to be done for another short in the Parallels series, a bit of back story called Song of the Ice Lord at the current time. This is nearly done, and will then go to the formatter and (if enough remains for a paperback) to Regina for a cover as well.

Then I should be thoroughly back in the swing of writing and back up to speed for picking up Book 3 and seeing what happens next. I know, I know, it’s not put on a back-burner – only it will take a bit longer to finish, so I might as well get these ones out so you have something to read in the meantime.  Besides, then when you pick up Book 3, you’ll know how the Mother got there and who all the other characters are. Are there a lot of them? Of course there are. But I hope you’ll like spending time with them too…

d) Book 3 – still at 15k but ongoing plotting and planning means that soon as I’ve finished with the others, it should go quite quickly if nothing else happens to eat up my writing time. Watch this space.

Anyhow, going to sulk now as my first version was MUCH better and more eloquently written than this one. Not impressed, WordPress!

Have a lovely Easter, all;

JAC

 

 

 

Dear all:

More news from Weasel Green Press – my running mate Dulcie Feenan has offered 3 copies of her new paperback “Christmas comes to Oddleton” for a giveaway on Goodreads here:

http://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/44535-christmas-comes-to-oddleton

If anyone wants to enter for the chance to win one, please do! Another cover by the tremendously talented Regina Wamba of Mae I Design, Weasel Green’s favourite cover artist, and if you can read the blurb and not be intrigued, you’ve never experienced the chaos that is a school play…

Best of luck all!

JAC