Well, what a weekend that was. On Friday I had a day off work so a mate and I headed down to Shizuoka prefecture near to Mount Fuji to watch a game of World Cup Rugby. With Typhoon Hagibis approaching, we weren't sure we'd even get a game, but luckily our game (Australia vs Georgia) was still played, albeit in pouring rain.
Anticipating that the trains wouldn't be running the next day I decided to drive down (correctly, as it turned out), and after a few random events (including mistaking which CITY our hotel was in - don't ask!) we made it to the game with about fifteen minutes to spare. It was actually a pretty decent game with Georgia putting up a fight for most of it, although Australia came out winners in the end. We got lucky with our seats and actually had the rain line right in front of us. We were dry but the people on the seats in front were getting wet.
Massive congestion at the train station (in the pouring rain) meant we didn't get back to the hotel until nearly half eleven. We had hoped to meet another mate but that meeting never happened, and the big drink up we had planned ended up being two beers for me while my mate fell asleep, a quick dinner across the road and then bed, the plan being to get up early and drive back before the typhoon hit.
The next morning we were in the car by seven thirty. In Hamamatsu City where we were staying the rain was already lashing even though the typhoon hadn't made landfall yet. We decided to head westwards in the direction of Nagoya before heading north back to Nagano since the typhoon was supposed to hit to the east. As it happened, it was so big it didn't really matter.
We had a complete nightmare just getting out of Hamamatsu because the GPS kept wanting to take us on a card-only highway when we wanted a ticket gate. After lots of wasting time it finally led us to what turned out to be an unfinished highway, on which we enjoyed a clear road for about 10km before abruptly being dropping off in the middle of nowhere and having to drive 100km through a mountain pass along roads covered in leaves and fallen branches. Eventually, however, we made it to the main Nagano Expressway, which was yet to be closed. Despite not being able to get much speed up due to the rain, it was actually pretty clear of traffic, and seven hours later, I made it home.
Then of course, Saturday night, the real flooding hit the city. Where I live, perched on a little knoll far from the main river, we were fine, although some family members and friends experienced some flooding and damage. Considering the damage handed out to large parts of the city, however, we were very lucky, and my heart goes out to those people most affected by the huge floods.
Sunday and Monday I was on childcare duty. It was surreal in many ways that while helicopters flew overhead and the roads were full of emergency vehicles that I could be doing something so mundane as buying my daughter a new pillow and duvet for her bed. It's a little morbid but I really wanted to take a look at the worst of it, because seeing things with your own eyes is the only way to understand the full impact without the filter of television. However, with my daughter in the car and the road out to that area full of emergency vehicles, I did what I felt was the responsible thing and kept away from the area. Instead, I went down to the little river near my house and took a few pictures, even though its nothing compared to the major river that burst its banks. I also got a picture from up on the hill near my house, but you'd need to zoom it in to see the flooded area in the distance.
Anyway, this blog was about writing, right?
I didn't get much done over the weekend, although I've been working on the edits for the third Christmas book. As expected, its very easy going, and I'm hoping to get it off to the proofreader next week. I've got the first draft for the cover but I haven't got around to looking at it yet. I've also been doing some work on the next Slim, but its still a complete and utter mess.
Advertising ... I'm having a love-hate with Facebook ads at the moment. I restarted a Christmas ad which did really well last year, but while I've been shifting books at 99 cents, as soon as I raise the price, the sames tail off. Last year, they were selling this well at 1.99 UK, but either I'm advertising too early or people aren't spending money. Unfortunately, I make a lost at 99 cents, so every few days I pause the ads to see if the sales knock-on to book 2. If they don't, I lose money. Sometimes I think this writing is a mug's game. I have 28 books out now, yet make less than I made three years ago on half that. I've long ago given up on writing full time but I figured if I just keep putting them out by the time I retire I'll have a decent background income. At the moment, I have this fear that I could have 150 books out and barely make any money. It's certainly getting harder all the time.
This morning was a bit of a nothing morning really. With the Christmas book being left alone for a few weeks and not wanting to start yet on the next major project (Benjamin Forrest 5) I tried to get into the ongoing fifth Slim Hardy book.
It didn't go particularly well, although I got 300 words or so, which is about my daily average for these. Since I started them in August 2017 with no expectations at all, I've published four, so at two books a year it's not going bad for a supposed side project. The problem is that they've been rather more successful than I expected and the pressure has really grown to make this one awesome. Some of my books are plotted - Benjamin Forrest 2, for example, started out as two sides of A4 and with few variations came out exactly as I'd planned - but I purposely don't plan these books at all, neither do I write them very fast, in order that as much goes on in my head as it does on the page. I generally start out with a few key ideas I want to incorporate (it's hard to share these without giving away plot details but one of Clockmaker's, for example, was that I wanted to have automatons in it, while Games Keeper was supposed to have identical triplets (never happened, so not sure what happened there!). Angler's Tale's key points included being set in Dartmouth (I didn't even realise Agatha Christie had once lived nearby until way after I'd started, but of course I have to shoehorn that in somewhere) and that I wanted mermaids in it. Okay, it's not really a spoiler, because 40,000 words in I'm still not sure whether there will be any in it or not. There might be, that's all I can say, but its evolving all the time.
I think that the problem is that for the first time, I'm generally concerned about writing a turkey. People have expectations of these books, more than they might have of others. People told me that the fifth Crow book was underwhelming and that's maybe okay because no one really reads that series and I just wanted to get it finished (I actually quite like that book, by the way, although I think Castle of Nightmares might be the best, closely followed by Circus of Machinations, which I maintain is an excellent SF which can be read as a standalone, even though its sells practically nothing). But anyway.
I don't care much about reviews because everyone will have a different opinion and some people will hate something that everyone else loved. Moby Dick is considered a classic, but I think it's a turd spread over 530 pages. And while general opinion is that The Beastmaster is one of the worst movies ever made, it was a mainstay of my childhood. And I was the kid who walked around school with a box of Slade tapes being relentlessly ridiculed, five years before Noel Gallagher said they were cool and it became okay to like them.
So, if there's the odd hater, I won't care that much, but the longer I write this book the more I fear that it's going to suck and it'll derail the series completely. Mind you, I thought that about Slow Train, and several people have said it was the best book yet. Others have said it showed I was slacking off, but you know, averages and all that.
Anyway, I'm rambling now. Back to the grind.
It's time again to attempt to restart the blog ... and this time around it will be for all my writing, including pen names.
October has been a good month so far, rattling along at over 2000 new words a day. Just this morning I finished my third Christmas book, titled Coming Home to Me this Christmas, which came in at 53,000 words and took just 34 days to draft. Usually first draft to publication takes ages but getting this out before Christmas is obviously massively important. The cover has already been commissioned and I'll be sending it off for editing in the next few days.
Now that's out of the way, I'm going to try to push the fifth Jack Benton book (The Angler's Tale) along a little. These books exist in the background, written in first draft on my phone, a few minutes every day. I've had some reviewer criticism of this method - usual snarking bullshit ("he says its written on a phone and you can tell"), but it keeps the tone consistent and almost means the plots get teased out rather than forced.
Moving forward, I'll also be getting to the edits for the fourth Benjamin Forrest - Curse of the Miscreants. The editor has finished part one and is working on part 2. Again, hopefully out by Christmas.
As always when a book gets finished I'm basking in the finished-book glow, where you feel suddenly like you have all the free time in the world (probably why I'm writing this...!), but I like to get back to drafting as soon as I can, because that's what makes me really happy.
And that's about it for today. Keep checking in for more updates. I'll do my best....
A new Tube Riders novel, In the Shadow of London, is finished in first draft. Can't wait to get this one out to you. Take a look at the cover below. Curretnly hoping for a March release.
Been busy as usual of late. My new Tube Riders world book is sitting at around 220 pages, so probably about half done. I actually sat down the other night and fleshed out a complete plot for the rest of the book, some additional 23 chapters. There's a good chance that I could have the first draft done by the end of the month.
In other news, I'm working on the first three paperbacks in the Tales of Crow series. All three should be available in the new few weeks.
And in addition to that, I have a very exciting narrator on board to do the audiobook for Tube Riders: Exile, which should be completed by the end of the year or early next.
So, busy days. Happy reading, happy writing. Don't forget, if you haven't signed up for the newsletter yet get on it - you get a few ebook of Tales of Crow 2: The Castle of All Nightmares. For a limited time only!
In case you haven't seen them, the sparkling new Tube Riders covers are now live. In addition, I'm seventeen chapters into a new book set in the Tube Riders world. More progress as it happens, and don't forget, Tales of Crow 3: The Puppeteer King is released on September 25th!
Very excited indeed with what I've been writing over the last few days, and I know you will be too. I don't want to say too much about it because I'm not yet passed my give up threshold (usually around 35,000 words), but I've written 40 pages already and it's flowing nicely. Really great to see some familiar faces again, and catch up with some new ones who've been kicking around in my head for a while. More updates soon.
In other news, Crow 3: The Puppeteer King has gone off for final proofing. I should have a release date in the next couple of weeks.
Been a great month for writing so far. 56,000 words, one book finished and last night I started on a new book I've been promising for a long time. I'm also 1/3 through the edits on Crow 3, which should be out within a month. I'm going to keep quiet on what book I'm working on for now in case it doesn't work out, but I'm nearly two chapters in and so far it's going pretty well.
Yesterday I finished the first book in what will a new series. Adapted from an old short story called Saving the Day, Saving the Day: The Curators series #1 will hopefully be released before Christmas. It came about because after writing three successive Crow books I wanted to try something different, and I'd always thought it would make a good novel. The final result, while still using the basic premise of the short story, expanded it into a huge dystopian world. While most of the questions were answered in the novel, I left a couple of things for a possible sequel. It was great fun to write, so I know you'll enjoy reading it.
God I love summer vacation. I've let my social reclusivity gene kick in and so far I've written 41,266 words in 12 days. Bitchin. Just got the epilogue to do on this book and I shalt rest. I have a tentative title for this but I'm going to let it sit for a while. In other news, I just got the edits back on Crow 3, so I'll be working through those next.