The Long and the Short of It

So, Shattered Shards of Darkness has been published and promoted and it’s time to get back to Jack Glennison! It was fun to revisit short story writing for a few months, but now it’s time to get back into novel-writing mode.

I have no name for it as yet – beyond Book 4 – and the plot needs some more work, but I’m not too far from putting pen to paper. Watch this space for updates!

Announcing my new short story collection

Well, the short story collection is just about ready! Just a few final checks and tweaks to make and then I’ll unleash it in the world! The publication date will be Wednesday 18th January 2023. Put the date in your diary!

The collection’s name will be (as you can see from above) Shards of Shattered Darkness. It features 18 short stories, 12 of which have never been published anywhere before.

As the book includes some past free ‘reader magnet’ stories, I’ll be writing a new one to replace them – more news on this when it’s ready!

Update on my short story anthology

It has been an odd few months. I took early retirement at the end of July. Well then, you’re probably thinking, he must have been writing up a storm! No excuses now! Not that simple, I’m afraid! Firstly, we moved house in July and have been busy settling into the new place (while trying to get rid of a lot of stuff – downsizing is difficult!).

Secondly, we have also bought a place in the south of France and have been out here for most of the autumn doing a bit of re-decorating, a lot of furniture-buying and a heck of a lot of gardening. Not that I’m complaining; the weather has held and we’ve had many wonderful days out in Carcassonne (our nearest city), at the Med and in the Black Mountains. But all of that has been very distracting, I’m afraid!

All the same, I’m pleased to announce that the anthology is just about finished. My plan is to let Christmas get out of the way and launch it in January, giving me plenty of time for editing, cover selection etc.

I’m really pleased with how the collection has come together. It will feature 18 stories; 6 have been published elsewhere, either as my reader magnets or in other publications. That leaves 12 that will be seeing the light of day for the very first time. Of these, 5 were written specifically for this collection. Including a new Darkisle short story!

Watch out for news of the title and a cover launch sometime in December.

Bye for now!

The Long and the Short of it

Well, What Festers Within was published about two months ago. I’m very pleased with the response! The book seems to have activated increased interest in the whole series, which is very nice to see. I won’t be running away to the Caribbean on the proceeds just yet, but things ARE on the up!

Thoughts now turn to my next project. I have ideas for the fourth book in the series… but to be honest, I think I’ll take a break from long form fiction for a few months. Now I’ve proved to myself that I can write an 80,000 word novel (and longer!), I think it’s time I returned to short stories for a while. What with my existing Darkisle short stories, some unpublished work and few planned new stories, I reckon I could have an anthology pulled together in the next few months.

So, that’s what I’ll be doing in coming weeks; writing at least three new short stories and leaving my subconscious to churn over Book 4. Talking of short stories, I’m delighted that an audiobook narrator has recorded a reading of Hobb’s Top on her YouTube channel. Do please check it out! She has done a great job, I think. You can hear it by clicking HERE.

Now the hard work starts…

And finally, you get to the point in your novel where you place the final full stop at the end of the final sentence in the final paragraph. You sit back and look at that last page with a range of emotions. Some sense of achievement, a good deal of relief and – for a moment, at least – the uncertainty of what happens next now your months-long project has finally ended.

And then the realisation hits that it hasn’t ended, and your immediate future is one of editing, editing and more editing.

That’s where I’m at now. Wish me luck!

On the finishing straight

When it comes to writing, there are good times and then there are less-good times. Looking back over the writing of my last two-and-a-bit novels, I can trace the good times to holiday breaks.

For The Gathering of Shadows it was a long New Year’s Eve Weekend in a Reykjavik apartment. That yielded two chapters. For Those Under The Hill, a glorious September week on the Northumberland Coast between lockdowns inspired three chapters. And now, for Book 3 (I really must come up with a title sometime…), a weekend in a different part of Northumberland brought a chapter that, in very short order, led to two more.

I suppose none of this is very surprising. I mean, it’s quite a cliché, really; the author taking themselves away somewhere to get some actual writing done. Normally, I’m eking out a few hundred words at a time, working around the day job, family stuff – that sort of thing. A nice leisurely break somewhere gives me the sort of time and space to get my head down and build some momentum in a writing session. With a bit of luck, the words start to flow and next thing I know, I have a new chapter. And still have time for the pub.

Which, in a roundabout way, is me saying that Book 3 is coming along nicely. Sixteen chapters (plus a prologue) of nicely. 70,000 words of nicely.

I had better get a move on with that title, hadn’t I?

The Beginning of the End…?

I don’t know how it is for other authors, but I find there comes a time in writing a novel when I feel that the initial uphill phase is done, that I’ve crested the summit and am now writing downhill, so to speak, with the slope helping me.

I think that’s where I am with Book 3 now.

I’m not saying that the words are now pouring out by the thousand – there are still slow days, still times when I need to pause and work a scene through a few times. But, nevertheless, it seems to me that the hard work has been done – the establishing of the characters, the setting up of the plot, the laying-out of crumbs of information that will hopefully lead to a satisfying conclusion.

Once I’m in the downhill phase, it sometimes feels that rather than creating a story out of my head, I’m instead recording events as they happen. Albeit imaginary events! The characters’ trajectory through the story is in place, I understand their personalities well enough to know how they will react… all I need to do is let things unfold!

Which, I suppose, is a roundabout way of saying that I’m about three-quarters of the way through the first draft. Don’t go holding your breath just yet though! There’s still the editing, beta-reading, more editing, waiting for advance reviews…. Come to think of it, my initial estimate of publication this spring is starting to look a tad optimistic!

A Christmas smidgen for you all

Josine felt that a celebration was in order, so after work we treated ourselves to dinner at our frequent haunt: Lumley’s Café on Oxford Road, just a few doors down from our office. We entered a little after six to find the place bedecked with paper chains, paper honeycomb bells and sprigs of holly.

“Finally!” exclaimed Josine as we took our seats. “I was beginning to think that the English were skipping Christmas this year.”

“Good grief, it’s only the 11th!” I replied. “And besides, there have been Christmas window displays in the shops for a week or so. Lewis’s always puts on a good show, go and have a look there if you want to feel festive.”

“I might just do that. I don’t know, I pictured Christmas in England differently, you know? Decorated trees in people’s windows, carol singing in the streets, a brass band on every corner…. And snow.” She gazed out of the window at the evening drizzle.

I snorted. “And a cheerful Cockney urchin taking the biggest turkey in the shop to Bob Cratchit’s house? Life over here isn’t one big Charles Dickens story, you know. People won’t decorate their trees until Christmas Eve and you’ll be lucky to see any snow before the New Year.”

She sighed. “Well, I’m sure it will be swell when it finally all gets started. I’m just saying that Boston will be lit up like one big fairground by now.”

At the moment that rarest of things is happening; the time of year I’m currently writing about in a novel is the same as the actual time of year. I do find it helps a bit, actually. So, to celebrate this fact, above is a relevant snippet from Book 3. Christmas was a big deal in 1920s Britain, but nowhere near the big deal it is today. And not as big a deal as it was becoming on the other side of the Atlantic, as Josine is discovering…

Forever Autumn

It was daytime. It was always daytime. Sometimes it was morning, with colours washed out to grey by mist. Sometimes it was afternoon, with the stark yellow sun in a crisp blue sky. Sometimes it was dusk, with the first hints of purple stretching out above and the moon starting to glow silver.

This time of year lends itself to horror stories and a lot of people seem to make a big deal about Halloween these days (hint: I’m not one of them). I’ve seen more than a few Tweets to the effect of people wishing it could always be Halloween. Which sparked an idea for a story. Be careful what you wish for….

Anyway, the excerpt above is the opening of the resulting short story, which I’ll be making available FREE to my newsletter subscribers in the next couple of days. If you want to get free stuff like this, just fill in the contact form on this site’s home page and say hi!

And yes, I nicked the title from the War of the Worlds track by Justin Hayward. But the story itself has nothing to do with it, should any copyright lawyers be reading.