Let’s do the News: April 2016

Another month, and another head scratching moment as I wonder what I’ve been up to.  Fortunately, this here website happens to be a bit of a log of activity, so even I know what’s been going on!  This is excellent news.

And just as last month, this month I have been mostly writing the novella Mandestroy; a prequel to Fear’s Union.  I’m still on track for a summer (cough!) release, and this month, I spent most of my time doing a first review of my work, and nailing the story arc.  A reviewed first draft, as-well as a log of all my activity, is available here, and I’m very excited about the progress.  I’m learning things about my writing process that I never even knew!

But what else have I been up to?  Here’s what:

  • Watching the 6 nations and ultimately coming up short in my fantasy 6 nations mini league (devastated);
  • A busy social calendar including an Easter weekend wedding;
  • Writing about my first attempts at actually putting pen to paper in the regular writing experience blog;
  • A book review of Dangerous Women – a collection of short stories edited by Gardner Dozois and George RR Martin;
  • A book review of Michael McClung’s excellent fantasy debut, The Thief who Pulled on Trouble’s Braids;
  • A book review of C.C. Hogan’s first book in the Dirt Series, called Dirt;
  • Reading a lot (apparently);
  • And Beagle completed the third part of his blot around the World of Ku.
Now, because it is my main focus, here’s the news on the upcoming novella.

Writing Mandestroy

I think that, so far, Mandestroy has gone well.  The very first draft popped out rather easily, and as I started reviewing this month, I was pleased to see that it wasn’t utter tripe: it’s not entirely unreadable, which is reassuring, and the flow is sort of, just about, there.  That’s certainly not to say it’s perfect, definitely not, but it is a good base.  As I re-read some of the more important scenes, I got that little chill that hits you when you know you’re involved, and that was very pleasing.  Unfortunately there are a lot of awkward periods of text and there’s sufficient plot misalignment to grate, so there’s much to do, but overall I was pleased with my first attempt.

And the review process itself was also quite interesting, because I’ve never analysed what I do before.  Here’s a list of what I did:

  1. Documented my plan;
  2. Complete a quick once-over review to tease out obvious editorial errors and refresh myself with the content;
  3. Complete a blind review of the plot profile and restructure as necessary;
  4. Go back through the text in a bit more detail and mark-up the manuscript with the plot review in mind.

This, and the calendar of all my activities, are included on the Writing Mandestroy page, so come and take a look.  If you’re an amateur writer yourself, then I think this will be of interest to you.  If you’re a pro writer, then feel free to pass on any tips!  If you’re just a reader, then I still think it’s worth considering the effort that goes into even a relatively short novella.  Writing is no mean feat.

What’s the plan for the next month?

As you may have already guessed, Mandestroy will remain my main focus.  However, in the interest of completeness here’s a more detailed breakdown of what’s going on in the world of James Hockley in April:

  • Finish nailing down the Mandestroy story arc; and
  • Re-write Mandestroy to the new template;
  • Conduct the interview with General Kantal that I failed to do last month;
  • Sort out a proper book cover for Mandestroy;
  • Reading more fantasy indie novels, and reviewing them when I’m finished.

And a friend recently told me that he was thinking of writing a historical fiction novel, and when we got chatting about it, I realised that even though I am entirely amateur, I have actually picked quite a lot of tips up.  I thought I’d blog about this in my ‘writing experience’ blog.

And in the meantime?

As ever, for a more immediate fix, this is what else is available on the website:

More material will appear over time, and I will send out alerts via twitter if you want to be notified.  Or alternatively, get the inside track by signing up for my monthly newsletter (see below).

And please get in contact if you have any questions.  Thanks for reading!

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