Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Chrimbo to all

Happy holidays to all. Hope you got everything you wanted and are all as stuffed and merry as myself. In terms of an update, I decided to put all work on hold and enjoy the break. I was just too busy, with family and friends and decided to come back fresh in a couple days.

The mode seems to be for bloggers to reflect on the year and decade. I might do something like that on New Year's eve in the meantime, love to all. Rob

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Pleasing progress!

Last week I spoke about how near I was to the end of my first draft. I doubted very much I would get it finished before Christmas, but I hoped I would. This week........nothing has changed. I still do not think I will finish in time for Christmas, but I have made far more progress than I ever thought I would.

After blogging last week, I mapped out rough deadlines of when I would finish various scenes / chapters. Today, I finished a scene that I did not think I would get done until Christmas Eve. It means that I only have 8 scenes left to write. 8!!! If I get one done tomorrow, one on Monday and a final one on Tuesday, than I will happily call it a day until the New Year. (Christmas is family time after all).

I will update you next Wednesday.

Word count: 111,000

Monday, December 7, 2009

Final bend.

Good afternoon all,

I'm in a reasonably optimistic mood. Last week I was struck down by a heavy cold - I can't seem to stop being ill at the moment. However, I blasted past the 100,000 word barrier (another personal milestone) and am now on the final stretch of the novel.

Over the weekend and today, I sat down and mapped out the rest of the novel in it's entirety. Sure I knew how it was going to end, but I now know exactly what is going to happen and how I am going to tie up all the various threads (or leave them hanging for the sequel).

So it is official I now have 5 chapters left to write. Or if I break it down into scenes, I now have 15 scenes left to finish. Of those 15, one will be completed today and 4 of them have been largely written in note form.

Will I get done before Christmas? I doubt it, I want to but I doubt it. On a good day (like today) I can write a complete scene in it's entirety. However, to finish before Christmas I will need 15 consecutive good days. I like to think it is possible but realistically it isn't.

The important thing is, this novel will be completed.

Monday, November 30, 2009


I thought I would leave you in suspense before telling you how I got on last week. Did I meet my target? As you must have gathered from the title of this post - almost.

I treated Thursday as if writing was my full time profession. I got up at 8:00 (the beauty of a few more hours in bed), got myself sorted and began writing at 9:00. By 10:00 I had knocked out 1,000 words. It felt good, really good in fact. I paused for a cup of tea and walked the dog and by 10:30 I was back at my desk. The progress in this section was a little slower. I found my mind wondering a little bit more and myself day-dreaming a bit. Still by 12:30 I had produced another 1,600 words. Gave myself another half hour break before knocking out another 300 words. I then met my wife for lunch.

I was full of optimism, the mornings session had produced 2,900 words. I was going to meet the 4,000 word target without a problem. Then the strangest thing happened. I came back from lunch and sat at my desk and tried to write. I just couldn't do it. I didn't have writer's block as I knew what I wanted to write but my brain just wouldn't let me proceed. I found myself writing a sentence, deleting it and then wording it differently, then doing the same thing for almost an hour. I realised then, that my brain was saturated. It had enough and just simply didn't want to write anymore.

I decided to call it a day. Slightly disappointed that I didn't reach my 100,000 target I vowed to complete it before 1st December - the weekend is family time so this left Friday and Monday. On Friday I did manage to sneek in another 400 words.

So here I am Monday morning, I aim to get the 700 words written today just to meet that landmark.

My new target is to get the first draft finished before Christmas. I am not kidding myself, I know how hectic life is going to be in the coming weeks but still, this is my aim. I have six chapters left. On average I have written a chapter a week, so already I am severely up against it. It is going to be a challenge but I am determined. One of those chapters is basically written in note form and half of another one is as well, so I think with a bit of luck it is very doable. 25 days until Christmas, will update you soon.

Word count 99,400 Arrrrggh!!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Breaking the rules

I am cheating, this post is not about my book in any way (Don't worry I will still be posting about my progress later tonight).

I just wanted to post about the things we do to buy Christmas presents. Is there anything as embarassing as visiting the "build a bear workshop?" If there is, I am yet to experience it. For those of you that don't know, you have to go through the whole procress of building a bear from scratch - well you have the outer shell already built for you.

You then choose a personal message to put in the bear so that when your loved one squeezes the bear it plays. Naturally, in order to do this, I take myself off to a quiet corner in the shop and record a nice little tune that my niece will like. So far so good.

However, you then have to take the bear to a saleswoman to be stuffed. I am no fuddy-duddy but what follows is how I spent my time in the building a bear shop. You can decide yourself if it is embarassing or not.

Saleswoman: Have you recorded your message.
Me: Yes thanks.
SW: Can I listen?
Me: I'd rather you didn't.
SW: We have to.
ME: Really?
SW: Just to make sure you have done it right.
ME: It is quite simple and I checked it.
SW: Let's just make sure (She presses the button and my far from angelic voice reverberates around the shop. Other shoppers snigger). Awesome (said in a distinctive American drawl). Now let's stuff your bear. (We walk over to the stuffing machine). Put your foot on the pedal.
Me: Sorry?
SW: The pedal, you want to bring your bear to life don't you?
ME: O.k. (I step on the pedal and the machine begins stuffing my bear or "bringing it to life")
SW: Awesome. Now select a heart (she points to a collection of stuffed hearts).
ME: It's ok. If it is going inside the bear she won't see it.
SW: Your bear needs a heart to survive.
Me: Really? (Said very unconvincing).
SW: Of course (I select a heart). Awesome. Now kiss the heart and make a wish.
Me: Done (I say just handing her a heart).
SW: You didn't kiss it. (I kiss it quickly as the queue forms behind me). What did you wish for.
Me: For the world to swallow me up.
SW: Awesome.
Me: Are you American?
SW: No I am from Addiscombe. Why?
Me: Just wondering.
SW: What is your bear called?
Me: He hasn't got a name yet. (She hesitates and waits patiently for me to answer). Wolfie?
SWW: Awesome.

I could continue but I will let you decide....

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Sick, ill, poorly.

The past week has been a complete and utter write off for me (pun intended - although I only just recognised it as a pun, it is not as if I have been waiting to use it all week or anything). My high hopes of reaching 100,000 words have taken a severe pummeling.

Instead, up until Monday, I managed a pitiful 800 words. Yep, you heard correctly, 800 measely words. I was either too ill to write, or just not in the mood because I was felling sorry for myself. Yes, I had a man-cold, so sue me.

Each time I sat down to write, my head was pounding and I just couldn't bring myself to do it. On Monday, I finally sorted myself out, I was feeling rough but forced myself to read through the last couple of chapters relating to a character I was about to write about. This is a technique I use to ensure I have as much consistency as possible. What I read was a pleasant surprise. The chapters I had written were very good, the story flew along, the prose elegant and the dialogue rang true. Encouraged, I sat down and rattled off 1,200 words.

Tuesday I sat down and did the same thing. Again my head felt like it was inside a cement mixer, but I forced myself to read the last two chapters conerning the character I wished to write about. This time my reaction couldn't have been more opposite. I hated the chapters! There were some saving graces but overall, I couldn't get my mind around what I was thinking when I wrote them. I wanted to delete them instantly. For one horrible I scene I tried to be twee by giving a nod to another author. What was I thinking? This was my first book, why was I even attempting to do something as clever as that? Horrible, horrible, horrible. I was so disheartened, I could not bring myself to write. I shut down the computer and distracted myself.

Later, I walked the dog and found a way to begin the chapter I wanted to write. Today (Wednesday), I began that chapter. I've only done 300 words but the seed is there. If you are wondering why I am not continuing with that and writing my blog instead, it is because, I ran out of lunch break. Tonight, it is just me and the little guy, (get your mind out of the gutter folks), and the rate he is crawling around at the moment, there is virtually zero chance of me writing anymore.

So that brings me on to tomorrow. The day I had set aside to ensure I achieved my target. 4,000 words in a day is an enormous ask for me, I don't even pretend I will achieve it (and sustain a semblance of quality), but what I do intend to do is to just indulge myself. I will pretend that I am a best selling author and behave as such. I will conduct my day as if writing was my full time job.

I will report back on Friday and tell you how I did.

Word count: 96,000

Monday, November 16, 2009

Deadline Looms!

Okay, maybe the title is a bit too dramatic, since it is a self-imposed deadline. However, I want to stick to it, and I am getting worried that I might not.

Last week, was much like the week before. Hardly any time to write and when I did I really had to force myself. Looking back, I still managed to complete 4,000 words, which isn't too bad. It was the quality of the material that I am concerned about, which is strange considering all the positive reports I have been receiving for my flash fiction piece.

I think I am just experiencing an overwhelming feeling that my momentum is flagging and the story is slipping away from me. Again, this is strange as my desire to finish the story has never been stronger, and the fact that I now have an outline through to the end is great.

Next week I have actually put one whole day aside to get the whole project back on track. Until then I have set myself the target of reaching the fabled 100,000 words. I am on 94,000 at the moment, so it should be achievable.....should be!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Failed already!!

Alright, alright, I know I failed to stick to my self imposed deadline already. I didn't post on Friday and I don't have a real good reason for it either. I just didn't o.k.

To be honest, last week (as shrewdly predicted by yours truly), was one to forget. I hardly had any time to myself and trying to make time just didn't happen. However, on the positive side of things I did manage to rattle off 3,000 words. During these 3,000 words I made a bold decision. I completely changed one of the main characters. It was a hard decision because I loved the character I originally created. In terms of the consistency and all round motives of the character though I had to change him.

So much of last week, I spent procrastinating about the new character and I would go so far as to say, I love him. It makes so much more sense for the story and frees me up to do so much more with the character.

The new character has also given me some much needed impetutus to finish the novel. I have to confess, following last week and the fact that the story needs concluding and bringing together, I am starting to despair a bit as to when I am going to find the time to complete the story. Where as before, I could just sit and write a scene, now I need to make sure timeline wise and geographically all the characters are where they should be. I could really do with just taking myself away some where for a week and getting the bulk of the ending done, but that is not going to happen.

Another thing that is spurring me on is the critiques I am getting for the flash fiction piece I wrote. I have had about 10 reviews come back so far, and 9 of them have been positive. Of those 9 most have stated how much they really liked the story. It has not only encouraged me to carry on, but I have also decided to submit this piece to a magazine once I have finished Ritual.

Target words for this week: No target this week, my aim is to get my head right for the final push.

Monday, November 2, 2009

A torrid week

Well this is the first of my regular Monday posts, where I discuss what I hope and intend to produce by the end of the week. Unfortunately, I couldn't be less optimistic if I tried. Normally, I will try and write 5,000 words a week but this week I will be happy with 3,000.

The reasons for this are threefold:

1) There are a couple of really meaty HR issues at work which I have to tackle this week, appeal hearings etc. As a Manager it is horrible work and consumes so much time as you have to do battle with the regulations etc so that you don't find yourself in a tribunal. Not only does this mean long hours, but it is also mentally exhausting.

2) My lovely wife returns to work this week after a year off (more if you include her illness (she has Addision's by the way - thanks for asking)). This means that she will be working most evenings, leaving me with baby Jo and, thanks to the fireworks, a scared out of his wits dog. Again this = not much time for writing.

3) I submitted a flash piece of fiction to It was sometihng that just popped into my head and I wrote it all in one session. I didn't think about it and tomorrow it goes under review. Great, I hear you say, well yes it is, but it means that I have to get my critique ratio up tonight. I am three behind so better stop typing this.

On second thoughts, maybe 2,000 is more realistic!!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Plot problem solved and the end creeps closer

Me again, who else would it be? I am going to try and post on a Friday and a Monday from now on, so those of you that are regulars can know when to expect an update. The Friday post will talk about my week's work; how I've progressed and what challenges I've faced. The Monday post will mention any ideas I have and what I expect to achieve.

This week started off badly, I have been writing this novel mostly in sequence. Occassionally though I have woken up and just had to write a scene or get down a piece of dialogue (you may recall my inspiration one night whilst washing up and just having to stop and write the final scene of the story.)

Anyhow, this week I reached one of those said scenes, where I had already drafted quite a lot of dialogue. Rather than make things easier though, I found the process extremely difficult. The problem was that the scene I had written months ago, did not exactly fit the story. Characters were discussing stuff that I had already resolved or decided to omit altogether.

No problem, I thought to myself, I will just incorporate the bits that are relevant. I then found myself writing the chapter to fit the scene that I had already written. It was tough going and felt forced.

I was in two minds, some of the dialogue I had written was really good stuff but trying to include it was making the chapter suffer. I had to decide whether to carry on regardless, or scrap the material I had already written.

In the end I did a combination of both. I started the chapter from scratch and used snippets of the dialogue.

One other thing that had been bothering me was in some point of the story, one character had to find out something about another character. I could not for the life of me work out how to do this and then have the character magically appear on the other side of the land in order to interact with the third character (confused? Try writing it!). Like all great problem solvers, I have been ignoring the problem hoping a solution would present itself. This week, I thought of an excellent solution. It is so simple and makes perfect sense in the context of the novel. I am so overjoyed with it that I have just started the scene tonight.

Word Count 88,000

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Keep on writing.

So last week I continued my ultra productive writing and got over 2,000 words writing on Thursday. The trip to Sheffield actually turned out as a great opportunity as the predicted 3.5 hour journey actually turned into a 5 hour journey thanks to point issues and signal failures, what have you - you've got to love the english trains.

As planned I took as long weekend off, took my lovely wife shopping and just generally recharged (well as much as you can with a fully crawling 8 month old baby who is interested in everything running a muck, even as I type this he is trying to bash the keyboard).

However, then a strange thing happened. Like the thousands of other bloggers whose blogs malfunctioned last week, so did I. I returned to work on the Tuesday and immediately went on a training course, Wednesday was back in the office to face a plethora of problems and 106 emails and before I knew it I had come home both nights and not in the mood to write.

Suddenly a week had gone by and I hadn't written a single word. I was filled with doubt, was I losing my rhythm, now I was approaching the first bend, was I losing my momentum?. On Thursday, I awoke determined to write at all costs. I wrote at lunch time and as soon as I got home, Friday I did the same. The week wasn't as productive as the one before but it was still o.k. The important thing is that I am now back and writing hard. This weekend I have also sorted out a couple of plot points that had been plaguing the novel (GRRM eat your heart out).

I guess the big thing I have learnt is that it is so important to keep writing every day. It is so easy to get out of the habit and all of a sudden it feels like a chore. It should never feel like a chore. I don't write at weekends but that is just me, I thoroughly recommend you find a writing tempo that agrees with you but make sure it is regular.

Word count: 82,000

See you soon.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

18 down 12 to go

Yes the title of this posts relates to chapters. I have slotted into a nice writing rhythm now. I write Monday to Friday, give myself the weekend off and then carry on the next week.

The weekend off gives me time to formulate ideas and evaluate (not edit) where the plot is going. I usually give myself a rough target of 1,000 words a day. This week I have been well above that:

1,255 words on Monday
2,278 words on Tuesday
1,108 words today.

Tomorrow I have to travel to Sheffield for a meeting. The journey takes roughly 3 hours, so I am going to take my laptop and write on the train. With any luck I will get quite a lot done.

Yesterday (the 2,278 word day), the muse just flowed. I was only intending to write a brief scene of how some characters got to A and B and as the story told itself I ended up writing a really good action sequence. The only thing downside was one of the characters had a complete personality transplant from his appearances earlier on in the novel. So last night I went back and planted seeds that explained nicely why he behaved like he did.

So with 3/5ths of my novel completed, I am aiming to finish it before the end of the year. If I carry on at this rate I might even finish it at the start of December.

As Robertsinferno said, time to start promoting myself.

Word Count: 76,000
Mood: Buzzing.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


I've reached 70,000 words!!! This was always the personal milestone for me. My book is no where near finished yet, but I will come on to that in a minute and before you say it, now that I am writing the book, I am not concerned with the word count, the book will be as long as it needs to be. When I was considering writing this book, I also did a ton of research, because I really didn't know what was involved in the process i.e. once I had written the story, what was the next step.

The key thing that stuck in my mind was that generally, a publisher would not consider any manuscript from a first time author that was less than 70,000 words or over 120,000 words in length. There are obviously exceptions (if your story is good enough, it is good enough), but this is what really stuck with me. I thought to myself, "If I could just get over that 70,000 word limit I will be a happy man." Today I did just that.

This book might never see the light of day, it might be considered the worst bit of literature of all time but at least it will not be dismissed because it is too short.

Having said that, I am now experiencing my own dilema, or Meerenese knot as Mr Martin what say. I have reached a point in the story where a big event has happened, the majority of the major characters are dealing with this and it will build towards a conclusion. However, there is also a another strong thread that culminates in a battle. I had planned to include it in this book as part of a thrilling conclusion and tying up all the loose ends, however, the more I think about it, the more I am inclined to push it into book 2 (yes there will be a sequel). I could then concentrate on developing one of the characters involved in the battle. The only problem that this presents is how the battle will take place in book 2 given the ending I have planned with the other thread. I guess I will just carry on writing and see how the story fares. Maybe that will give me a better idea and I can ascertain from the pace of the story whether it needs the massive battle at the end.

George updates us on Dance.

George R R Martin has updated his not a blog this morning. No he hasn't finished the book but he is definitely making progress. He states:

"Finished a Jon Snow chapter, and have just passed the 1100 page (manuscript pages, the page count in the final printed book will be different) mark on A DANCE WITH DRAGONS. That's counting only finished chapters in something close to final form. I have considerably more in partials, fragments, and roughs.

Even with just the finished portions, DANCE is now longer than A FEAST FOR CROWS and A GAME OF THRONES, and I'm closing in on A CLASH OF KINGS. I do hope I can wrap things up before I approach the 1521 page length of A STORM OF SWORDS.

Making a new run at the Meereenese knot, but maybe not tomorrow. I think I'll hang around at the Wall a bit longer, and maybe visit Winterfell."

This is excellent news, I simply cannot wait for this book. It could be still several more months until it is finished, but I think we can all safely say it is months rather than years now. Good on you sir.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Big scene done!!

Finished the pivotal scene at lunch time. Do I love it? Kind of! I like what I've written but I know I will have to revisit it in the editing stage to tighten up. I am however, extremely please with some of the ideas I came up with whilst writing it. Some of them are pretty cool I can prmise you.

This marks a massive landmark for me. I am now over half way in my novel which is great on so many levels. I can now deal with the fallout and most importantly build towards the end.

It also means I feel really good. I have finished climbing the mountain and am now making my way back down the other side.

Hopefully I'll finish the first draft by Christmas. I can then enjoy the winter holiday with a view of editing in the New Year.

Mood: Excited.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


O.k. so last time I blogged , I was as happy as Larry and about to tackle one of the big scenes of the book. No sooner had I submitted the post then I realised that I had left out a chapter on one of the main characters!!! This chapter had to be written as it was intergral to the story and explained how the character got from point a to b and why he was alone. So in effect, I spent most of last night writing said chapter, which incidentally has turned out rather well.

So this week, I am finally writing that big scene! I started it yesterday and I'm pleased to say it has flowed so far. I only stopped when I came across a plot problem that I had to think upon. Anyway, this morning I worked out how to deal with said problem and am now eager to write it at lunch.

Overall mood: determined.

P.s. Just like to mention a thank you to those of you that regularly read my ramblings. In particular, Catherine who also comments on a frequent basis. I will be better at responding to comments I promise.

Monday, September 21, 2009

The big scene

Just finished another chapter today. It contained a lot of important information in it, whether it will survive in it's current form once I go through and do my first edit of the draft remains to be seen. There are some chapters I write that I just know, I have written really well and will not require much editing, others don't seem to flow as nicely and might need a bit of work.

Anyway, the next chapter I'm about to write is the big event, the one that the story has been leading to so far, the pivotable point of the whole novel.

It's going to be tough, but boy am I looking forward to writing it this week!!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Making decisions

I began writing again yesterday after my brief hiatus. Have to say it felt good. I thought I might struggle after having a week and a bit off, I was especially worried that I would struggle to find the same voice. Luckily, I had left my story half way through a chapter (a tip someone suggested I do) so all I had to do was to re-read what I had written and continue. It was like getting on a bike again.
Anyway, before I knew it, I had churned out another 2,000 words. I love the fact that before I begin writing for the evening, I know roughly what I want to say, but the story soon begins to morph into something else. Yesterday for instance I was extremely pleased with what I had written. I thought maybe, it would have been quite a mundane but necessary part of the story, it turned out to be quite entertaining with snappy dialogue.
More importantly, I made a good decision at the weekend. When I first started to think about writing this novel, I was full of self doubt. Could I do it? Am I good enough? What will set it apart from other novels and make it stand out? Those questions still haunt me by the way, but now I am more obsessed with completing the story for my own enjoyment.
It was contemplating an answer to the last question that encouraged me to put pen to paper. I thought to myself, wouldn’t it be different if my novel was set in a medieval, fantasy world but had some advanced technology, if some items or equipment didn’t quite follow the rules that we are used to?
It was then that I came up with the idea of a weapon that was crossed between a broadsword and an early version of a gun. I went into great detail into working out the semantics of the weapon. It would be essentially a sword and fire two ball bearings from the hilt. I even considered having a telescopic blade. I called it the “Gunnerswerd”
Having worked out all of the detail, I then wrote a scene (it actually turned out to be part of chapter 6), where I introduce the reader to a minor character who is sitting on his porch polishing the ball bearings and firing the gunnerswerd. I found it extremely hard to write, I wanted to describe the scene so the gunnerswerd appeared natural, but at the same time describe exactly what it was. The finished scene was actually quite good. I then mentioned the gunnerswerd once more when I was talking about a young Rhact, again I found the passage uncomfortable to write.
Over the weekend, I realised I was 12 chapters into my story and only mentioned this weapon twice. I would have to go back and insert it into other areas of the story. I then had a revelation!!!!
I hate it! Why was I struggling to include something that even I didn’t feel comfortable writing? When I read fantasy books, I like the rules. I like that it is going to be swords, awes, arrows and the occasional magic. I absolutely abhor it when the author includes anything like a flying car out of no where. So why was I trying to include it in my novel? So, with a deep breath, I took the decision to get rid of it and boy do I feel good for it. What was I thinking even including such a thing?
It will mean re-writing certain sections but that is what the first edit is for. Someone has since pointed out that there is a similar weapon in the “Dune” novels. I have to confess that I’ve never read them, part of the reason is because they sounded like something I wouldn’t enjoy due to having technology like that in them.
So what you will hopefully read one day, dear reader, is a great story in a typical fantasy world. Boring? I promise you it won’t be.
To answer my other questions regarding self doubt. As Stephen King says in his book “On Writing.” The story and characters will make it stand out from other novels – hopefully!!!

Keep the gloom away.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Better news on the Dance of dragons book.

Another update on George R R Martin's "not a blog"

I decided to take a break from tearing and fumbling at the Meereenese knot, and completed a chapter about another character today. A character who is very far from Meereen.

Finishing the chapter felt good. Especially since it also completed that character's arc for the book. Admittedly, she has only two chapters in DANCE, so I am not sending up any flares. But hey, I'm done with one of them for the present, that's something.

Only thirty-eight more POVs to wrap up...

This makes me feel more optimistic about the book again. For the record, I think GRRM is doing a tremendous job. Yes, the book may be way overdue, but the amount of pressure the guy must be under doesn't even bear thinking about. The fact that over the last couple of months, he seems to be making more and more progress is great news.

Incidentally, I know the last couple of posts have not been about the Ritual of the stones, but from Monday I will begin writing on the book again. Yesterday, I was taking a walk with my (now) brother in law, he is one of the only people who usually shares my opinion on films, tv,  books practically everything.  Anyway, I was in a pretty inspirational mood involving the book and wanted desperately to share all of my ideas with him. Luckily, I refrained, as I am really looking forward to his opinion once I have finished. I have shown him one  chapter of my book and he has already given some useful pointers.

I can't wait for others to read my work and to hear their opinion.

Keep the gloom away.

Thursday, September 10, 2009


Fantastic day and I am now a proud husband. Everything went perfectly and my wife looked stunning.

Will resume writing next week. The break has probably done me good.

The Knot remains in tact!!

From George R R Martin's not a blog comes the following quote:

A DANCE WITH DRAGONS: I took a good hard swack at the Meereenese knot. The sword bounced off and cut my nose off. Bugger.

Unlike many fans of the tremendous Ice and Fire series, I am not angry at how long he is taking to deliver the next book in the series. No, I am not going to pretend that I am a prolific author and tell people to get off his back as it is really hard to write a book. Like every fan though, I am desperate to read Dance with Dragons. This latests quote is heartbreaking, a couple of weeks ago, everything was beginning to look rosey. It looked like George was nearing completion on Dance and we would finally get to read the book we have all been waiting for.

I hope George can unravel the plot that is causing himself so much stress. I just can't imagine what the problem can actually be that it is taking this long to sort out. Then again that is probably why I am an aspiring author and he is a mega bestsellar.

Keep the Gloom away.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Interview with Robert Lee - The Shadowborn General

When I started this blog, the first thing I did upon completing my very first post, was to find out if there was anyone who was doing a similar blog. Lo and behold, when I posted on a forum I frequent, two posts above mine, was a guy who was talking about the progress he was making on his first novel, he also mentioned that he had set up a blog site and had attached a link. I clicked the link and was taken to a very professional looking website with great graphics. I posted on this site, and within a day said blogger had responded with a polite and helpful post. Following that, every time I posted I received an instant response. Personally, this was the perfect site, it was updated regularly and was hosted by a friendly guy who you felt honestly appreciated you visiting the site.

The aforementioned guy is a man called Robert Lee. He is the author of “The Shadowborn General,” his first book. As of printing, he is extremely near completing the novel with a view of publishing it at the start of 2010.

I emailed Robert and asked if he would be interested in doing an interview with my humble self so we could attempt to capture his feelings as he nears the end of his pet project. Robert agreed immediately, and what follows is the interview. I found Robert to be extremely candid. His answers are open, honest and above all helpful. Quite frankly, he has inspired me to complete my book. Hope you enjoy:

Robert, first of all, congratulations on completing your first book. Can you tell me what it is about?

Right to the meat of it all ha. Well the book is titled "The Shadowborn General" and it follows a Human named Vespasian. The setting is the land of Etherea and Vespasian ventures through the land in an attempt to save two of his friends from a mysterious foe. Along the way an intricate and twisted plot is revealed to include Vespasian's past, a few sinister characters, and a chaos secretly growing in the shadows of Etherea. There are quite a few twists and turns in the book which made it a lot of fun to write.

How did you come up with the idea?

I've always had a pretty creative imagination. When I would get done with a book, movie, or video game I would convince myself that I could do something like that too. One day I decided to give it a shot and started writing down my ideas. At the time some friends wanted to create a video game and I started writing for it. My writings eventually fleshed out and I decided to expand the world and write a book on my thoughts.

Sounds like you spent a long time world building. Did this stop you writing some times?

Etherea was originally the focus due to the idea of a video game. If you want to include everything related to my book I've been working on it for five years now. When I finally sat down to write about the adventures of Vespasian in Etherea it was easy to visualize everything because of all the ground work I did. But yes it did stop my writing a lot. I would find myself focusing on Etherea more than the book at times. It paid off in the end but added a good deal to the overall time spent on the book.

What were your main obstacles?

I'm currently in college and everything from my military duties to papers and Astrophysics has slowed me down. Now the biggest obstacle is getting everything critiqued properly so that my book is polished and professional.

On your blog, you talk about publishing in Dec - Mar. I assume this is self publishing? Why that route?

You're absolutely right. I plan to publish with CreateSpace. There are multiple reasons for this actually. I chose CreateSpace because it’s fairly simple to understand but it also puts your book up on which is a great market. The reason I chose self publishing in general though is because I wanted more control over my book. I have a secure job and am not worried too much about making money or huge deals. I love writing and I want others to enjoy my book. I feel that self publishing will give me a more personal route to reach an audience. If the book is that good it'll get a larger audience eventually.

A noble attitude. Your book comes in at 60,000 words, impressive to those of us aspiring writers. I believe the average is 75,000 words. Did you have a word count in mind or just write your story?

I just wrote my story and let it come in at whatever word count was right. Certain publishers will ask you to hit a certain word count, another reason I want to self publish, but I rather just let the story be what it is. I don't want to add filler just to hit a certain word count. My word count may go up as I continually go back and edit my book before publishing but for now 60k is it.

Who is your target audience?

This is another thing I didn't think too much of. I'm sure there are more professional editors and writers out there banging their heads on the kind of answers I'm giving. But honestly I just wanted to put my thoughts and imagination into writing. I loved writing my book and whoever enjoys reading it is my target audience. The book only occasionally has a mild swear word so it doesn't have to be a mature audience reading it. And at the same time I feel that it's rooted deeply in classic fantasy with a mythological element thrown in that anyone could enjoy.

That’s very refreshing to hear. You talk on your blog about getting your book critiqued. How is that going? How much attention do you pay to critiques?

It's not the quickest process but it's moving at a rate that I'm comfortable with. I use online workshops so I get a variety of critiques but nothing so far that's overly negative. You have to take critiques with a grain of salt. You want to listen to them and improve on your book but you don't want to take the bad ones to heart. Enjoy what you write and be proud of it. Always keep your own personal voice regardless of what others say but make sure to listen even when it seems hard to do.

Your blog is impressive. Who does the artwork?

The artwork I have on the blog is from a group of friends that were creating the Etherea: Dark Genesis video game. It was meant to be an MMO but these were high aspirations for everyone. Right now everyone's regrouping to build a web based game and eventually move back to the MMO realm under a more professional approach. I have artwork I'm getting for the book but that was done through commissions.

As I mentioned your blog looks great. How do you let people know it exists?

Thanks. I try to use the internet as much as I can. There are plenty of resources out there including sites that you can add your blog on. I also include a link in my signature on the critique website I use, I use a Twitter account that talks about my book and my blog, and I try to be actively involved in other people's blogs and stories. You learn a lot, meet a lot of cool people, and at the same time advertise yourself.

Can you tell me more about the game?

The web based strategy game is that group of friends I mentioned that wanted to make the MMO. The main being Chris Hill who currently lives in England. Him and I have been good friends for years and he and I agree that a web based game would be fun. We would like to eventually connect it to an RTS but we are taking everything at a slow pace. Without professional funding you just have to work at a "let's have fun while doing it" pace.

A sensible approach!!What about you? Besides writing what do you like doing?

I love playing rugby, basketball, and other sports. As I mentioned I'm in the military, I attend the Air Force Academy, so I enjoy hanging out with my friends and people in my squadron. There are a lot of duties and academics but always time for fun and hanging out.

What's an American doing playing rugby?

At the Academy we have all sorts of intramural sports including rugby. We also have a rugby team that competes nationally and is usually highly ranked but I just do intramural rugby.

What authors do you aspire to be like?

I love the works of George R. R. Martin. I'm not going to fool myself and say that I'll ever be as great as him, I'm not aspiring to be a professional writer. I have a job and love it, I just enjoy writing on the side and hopefully inspiring other writers who will do it better than I could. George R. R. Martin has some pretty inspirational words on fantasy though that I love. He mentioned that when he dies everyone can keep their heaven, he’d rather go to Middle Earth. I think the idea of always creating something better and somewhere we'd all wish to live in is the heart of fantasy.

I approve of your taste! That is also one of my favourite quotes. When you've finished your book, what's next?

I want to work on a few short story ideas I have before starting the next book set in Etherea. Yes there will be a "next book" but since I do this because I enjoy writing and at my own pace I couldn't tell you when that will be. If there is enough desire for the next book after "The Shadowborn General" I'm sure I'll pick up the pace for my audience. Right now though I'm looking to getting this book out, writing a few short stories, and graduating.

Now you are near to the end of your book any tips?

My tips to aspiring authors would be to have a vision of your story before you just start writing. Some people write and hope that all of the story comes to them but you should have a view of the world or your characters before you start. Plenty will come while you're writing and your own writing will inspire you but if you don't put the effort into your writings it will show. Write for you, at your own pace, and enjoy what you write. Hopefully others will enjoy reading it.

And finally anything else you would like to add?

Thank you very much for giving me the chance to speak on my book and good luck to you on your own book. There are so many fantasy writers out there but that is only testament to the imagination and creativity of man. Always look to creating a place you and the reader would want to live in.

Thank you and best of luck with getting the book published and graduating. I for one will be buying it.

Check out Robert’s blog at Where he has also posted the first chapter of his The Shadowborn General.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Scott Lynch's: Republic of Thieves - Prologue

What has this post got to do with writing my novel I hear you ask? Well simple, these guys are the ones that inspired me to begin writing in the first place.

I have always been an avid reader. Mostly I read crime and thrillers but like most readers I have read and love the Lord of the Rings. Unlike most people I don't gush over the books, I found them hard to read and the pace very slow in places. Nevertheless, I love the world that Tolkein created. My first taste of the world was when my Nan told me to watch the cartoon adaption - anything other than her having to sit through Star Wars again. I loved it immediately and loved the Peter Jackson films that followed.

So long story short, I have always liked fantasy stories, but just never really read them. This all changed when I kept seeing praise for a little known book called A Game of Thrones. Intrigued, I wanted to see what the fuss was all about. Needless to say, I loved it and am now a huge fan of the Song of Ice and Fire series. Incidently, I've also read Fevre Dream and Dreamsongs by George R R Martin - both superb books.

Since reading A Game of Thrones, I have tried many books in the fantasy genre. Stand out authors for me are Joe Abercrombie and the title of my post Scott Lynch. I've read the first two books in the first law trilogy (I'm saving the third, don't ask me why, I like to draw series out - I'm weird like that) and I've read the first two books in the Gentlemen Bastard series. I find this series to be superb. It is so different from anything out there. The popular view that the books are like Ocean's Eleven set in the fantasy world are spot on.

Like Martin, there has also been a long wait forLynch's next book. I'm fine with waiting for books, when it's done it's done. Sure you want it to be released as soon possible, but there is so much out there to read that I don't feel the need to slate off the author for taking their time in writing the books that we love them for.

So getting round to the title of my post (I knew I would get there), after a long hiatus from the internet, Scott Lynch has become active again and has posted the prologue to his third book Republic of Thieves on his website. In the book we will meet the much mentioned Sabetha. He believes this will be published in 2010. I for one can't wait.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Enthused by the muse!!

As you may well know, I have previously commented on the fact that I am not one for heavy planning on my novel. However, I have always had an ending in mind for my novel. I knew when and how I want my story to end but I had no idea how to write one of the final scenes and what would happen. I just figured I would put it off until I got there. Occassionally, I would imagine the scene, but the dialogue always felt wrong.

Last night I wasn't really thinking about my novel (I was actually washing up) and then this particular scene just came to me, the dialogue started playing out in my head. It sounds cliche but the characters were actually talking themselves. I grabbed a pen and ended up scribbling out the notes and dialogue on a pad so I wouldn't forget them. An hour later the whole chapter was done, and reads pretty darn good

I read the chapter back this morning and I'm very pleased with the material. It was a tricky scene. You never know, it might completely change once the rest of the story unfolds, but for now I have something good written down.

When you read tips on writing, one of the things that always comes up, is carry a pen and pad with you everywhere. I always thought that this was a bit sad to be honest, and personally have never seen anyone scribbling away on a bus other than working on their shopping list. I type straight on to my laptop. However, this is the third time when I have been thinking about my novel and not been my laptop. I have acknowledged that the scene unfolding in my head was just too good not to be captured and have been forced to write it down. So I guess what I am trying to say is, the reason that tip keeps coming up on the writing websites and "how to" books, is because it is a bloody good one.

As far as the story goes. I've now finished the beginning of my story now and I know the end, I just need to get there. I know five things that have to happen, and 2 of those scenes I've already made copious notes on, so it is just a question of writing the chapters. For the first time this morning, (maybe it is the Friday feeling) I'm starting to actually think, I might actually complete the novel some day.


Keep the gloom away.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The problem with time

This week I got caught up in something I was determined not to get caught up in - World building. As much as I think it is important to have an idea of your world and how it all fits together i.e what your races believe in, how the currency works, is the sky blue and the grass green etc, I found that many authors on the various forums I visit get far too bogged down in creating their world rather than writing about it.

There was one member on a forum that stated they had spent 3 years realising their world and still didn't feel ready to begin writing. This to me was just an excuse. They were lying to themselves that they were working on their novel rather than actually working on their novel. I couldn't help but think that by the time that this person felt "ready" to start writing, they would be bored of the whole thing.

Personally, like I have previously said when talking about your plot, I find that if I have an idea of the world my characters inhabit then that is good enough to begin with. The fun comes in exploring your world with the characters.

However, that being said, one of the obstacles I have been experiencing is writing about time. My world is set roughly in a medieval style era. They obviously did not have watches in those days and I was getting fed up with using phrases such as "Noon, dusk, early morning" etc. I also wanted to talk about months, years etc. The last thing I wanted was for the reader to suddenly think, "that is stupid, how could they have told the time back then" (even though it was another world).

I therefore spent quite a lot of time doing some research on the subject. I learnt all about how time was told using: sundials, water clocks, candles etc etc. I surfed websites, visited forums posing questions and even went to the library for inspiration. How was I ever going to work this into the novel without boring the ready with some heavy explanation?

Do you know what I learnt? IT REALLY DOESN'T MATTER. The reader is not stupid, they don't need everything explained for them. I can talk about days, weeks, months etc, it is my world for crying out loud. I created it. Calendars were around in Ancient times anyway. I did a degree in it for God's sake!!

In fact, by just thinking about my world for 5minutes I devised a really cool idea about the calendar people would use. It is not complicated, it is not a million miles away (oh my God can I say miles!!) from the Gregorian calendar we use now. I like it. It makes perfect sense for my novel and the reader can sure as hell follow it - if I choose to mention it at all that is.

Bottom line, as long as I don't talk about minutes etc I'll be o.k. (although "moments" is used as a substitute quite a lot at the minute).

Simple motto: Writing is good, getting side tracked is bad. The editing stage is where you pick up any glaring errors.

As a result of this revelation I have rattled off another 2,500 words in two days.

Keep the gloom away.


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

One follower

It also hasn't escaped my attention that one or two people have posted comments and I have my first follower. That is fantastic news, so pleased you have taken an interest in the site. Hopefully we can get those numbers up over the next couple of weeks.

I think as a way of rewarding you all when I get to 15 followers I will publish the first chapter. You'll have to bear in mind that I plan to edit only at the end and not as I go along, but I feel it is only right that you get to see some of the material you are reading about!!

Keep the Gloom away.


35,000 words!!!!

The title says it all really, I have hit 35,000 words on the novel. The good thing is that although I am adhereing to a rough outline, there are still plenty of new ideas flying about. Some of them, I am having to force myself to shelf and maybe include in a sequel novel (I am not that presumptious to state that I will be writing one, lets get the first one completed to begin with).

Last Thursday I was particularly happy for two reasons:

1) I was having difficulty with the order of some of my chapters and from a timeline perspective the story wasn't making sense. Last week I solved the problem by merging two chapters and chopping a scene from one and moving it to another chapter. As a result, the book now flows a lot better and this was reflected in the writing, allowing me to expand a passage I was struggling on.

2) There was one chapter where I had literally only jotted down 2 lines of a plot outline. I knew that an event must happen but I had no idea how to include it or even make it interesting. I had been putting off writing about it for ages until last Wednesday, where I was determined to have a stab at it. It turned out that the muse was on my side and I ended up writing the best material of the book so far. In two days I had written 5,000 words of good quality stuff. I was so happy about it, I wanted to tell someone, but could not think of anyone that would be overly interested, (other than just being pleased that I was pleased if you get my drift). That is why I am so pleased I have started this blog. I can write events like this down and if (heaven's forbid) I experience the dreaded writer's blog, can look through these posts and motivate myself.

I had my stag do at the weekend. It was excellent (or so I am told), I will try and put photo's up when they are developed. The lads did a good job of dressing me up in a jockey/horse combo outfit and parading me around Ascot. As a result of the subsequent recovery days, I have not even thought about writing over the weekend and so am looking forward to continue writing this week.

My there was a lot of use of bracketts in that blog!!

Thanks for reading.


Monday, August 3, 2009

I know, I know, 2 out of my first three posts have seemed like shameless plugs for other tools/websites. I assure you they are not. I discovered back in May, when I was wondering how other people than my friends and family would view my work. was suggested as a great of doing this.

Basically it involves you joining a mailing list and getting other author's short stories etc sent to you for you to critique. Not only is it a great way to read other people's styles etc, it also helps with your own writing. As you critique other's work, you begin to realise how others might view yours.

I submitted a short story to the queue, to be read back in June. Providing I kept up with my own critiques, it would be read mid-July and critiques would come in to my mailbox around the end of July.

To cut a long story short, they did. I got 23 critiques on my short story, some varied wildly in opinion - it is amazing how 2 different people can read the same paragraph, one can love it and the other can hate it. Most of them liked my work, there were many that suggested the same things to improve the story, which has proved invaluable. The important thing was that all of them liked my story telling and characters. To me that has always been the most crucial element to a book.

If you want to check out my early first draft, sign up and look for Ritual 246.

Sunday, August 2, 2009


I discovered this free tool on the internet to help you construct your story. I have to say it is fantastic, it allows you to write your chapters by scenes, keep track of the characters you have created and locations they have travelled to. It is great for consistency purposes. It is also incredibly easy to drag scenes and chapters to different parts of your novel.

I know there are more detailed writing tools out there, but for one that is free and easy to use, I thoroughly recommend it.

First blog

So here goes!! I've never blogged before, often thought about it, never known where to start. Quick search on google and I couldn't believe how easy it is.

Today, I exceeded 30,000 words on my novel. Rah!!! I know there are budding authors out there that have done this on a regular basis, but to me this is amazing and a huge achievement. Considering I have a full-time job, a new born baby and a wedding to arrange, I am silently happy with myself. It means that my novel is well and truly on it's way. What is more encouraging is that I haven't really struggled with any part of it, in terms of coming up with ideas. I know the basic outline, I know the ending and I know certain events that have to happen. (I am not one of those authors that has to plan out every aspect of the story - I feel too stiffled by this and quickly lose interest in writing the story).

What I have struggled with is finding the time! As I have mentioned above, there is a lot going on with me right now. I am trying to set aside an hour each day to write. My fiance is incredibly supportive of this, but I still try and do this in my lunch time at work, so I can undertake my fair share of baby duties.

So welcome, I hope you enjoy my blogs and I look forward to sharing my progress with you.