Sunday, 21 October 2012

Writing Update - Month Four

On June 20th, 2012, I decided to try to write 52 short stories in a year.  Since then the challenge has become a lot more, it has become about whether or not I really wanted to push myself to achieve what I felt I had the talent to achieve, which was to eventually become a full time writer.  I have rarely had doubts about my ability, and the number of stories I've published (33) suggest I'm not being a complete ego-manic when I say I think I have what it takes.  But it wasn't just about how good the words I'd written in the past were, but how good the words I hadn't yet written had the potential to be, and whether I had the drive to write enough of them to pretty much blanket the market with my awesomeness, because, let's face it, the likelihood of getting big on just one book is very remote indeed.  In other words, I had to step up to the plate.

So my odyssey shifted momentum from 52 short stories in a year to a minimum of 1000/day and as many completed new projects as possible.  Here's what I've got so far after 4 months, or 122 days.

Name Type Word Count Status
1 The Ship Short Story 3793 Finished - to edit
2 Take me Back with You Short Story 2528 WIP
3 Take me Back with You Novelisation 29914 WIP
4 The Lost Train Short Story 4352 WIP
5 The Other Set of Feet Short Story 3749 Finished - to edit
6 Tube Riders : The Hunter Novella 14980 WIP
7 Once We Were Children Short Story 2513 Finished - to edit
8 The Assignment Short Story 8802 Finished - to edit
9 Never Give Up Short Story 5111 Finished - to edit
10 Clones Short Story 1323 Edited
11 Beat Down 1 - Clones Serial Novella 19774 Editing
12 Sunfall Short Story 1271 WIP
13 The Tube Riders: Exile Novel 60434 WIP
14 Beat Down 2 - The Heist Serial Novella 18533 Finished - to edit
15 Beat Down 3 - Badassaur Serial Novella 3020 WIP
Started June 21st Word Count 180097
Pages (300w/pg) 600
4 month target (Oct 20th) (122 days) 150000
Ahead 30097
Total Month
One month tally: 33598 33598
Two month tally: 62217 28619
Three month tally: 119253 57036
Four month tally: 180097 60844

So, 60,844 words for the month, or roughly half a novel (depending on what you call a good length - for me its 120,000 words).  The big one, of course, is part 2 of my novel, The Tube Riders, sitting nicely at just over 60k.  About half of what I wrote this month was on that one project, although it stalled for a week or so on a plot knot.  Elsewhere, my other big projects are my action-adventure/comedy/fantasy novella series, Beat Down, of which I'm now on to part 3.  Part 1 will be released on November 7th.  You can read more about it on a separate blog here.  The cover art is done for parts 1 & 2, and looks great.  It's fun to write but there will only be so long I can maintain it if it doesn't start to pay for itself, so I'll probably run it for three or four episodes and see how it goes.  While I have my "art" writing, I also love having fun with creativity, and there has to be a place for situations where you have a portal into another world in which chickens have become the dominant lifeform, hidden in a giant eagle's nest and accessible only by jumping off a ski jump.  Can't really put that kind of stuff into Tube Riders ...

Elsewhere, I also got a bit done on my "romance" novel.  It's got to the point where I'm not embarrassed by it, but if I think its publishable it will definitely be under a different name.

I also got a few more words done on my Tube Riders novella, which I think might end up as a companion novel set in London during the period of TR2, and featuring almost all different characters, some of which will show up in TR3 ... maybe.  It's really dark, and there's nothing I like more than writing dark fiction.  It might even appeal to a different audience to TR, but I don't really care because I'll write what I like, thank you...!

You'll notice I haven't got much editing done.  I'm perfectly happy with this, because I hate it when people rush off to edit their work immediately after finishing it, or worse, send it straight out to an editor to do the polishing for them.  Let it breathe.  Give it time to rest, time for your eyes to get a fresh view on it.  Any completed manuscript needs at least a month on the shelf, and while I have some that have been waiting that long I'm kind of lazy about editing so I haven't got around to it yet!

One thing I did edit was my short story Clones, and it was really f**king good.  I didn't remember it being that good when I wrote it, but I read it four times back to back just for pleasure, and I never do that.  Best thing I've written in years, so I gave it a brush up and sent it off to a literary magazine because it would be a waste to just self publish it and have it sit on Amazon being ignored.  Plus, it's really short, and regardless of how good it is people would moan about the price.  Still, I'm really proud to have it in the can, and hopefully I'll find somewhere to flog it and get myself a useful little payday.

Anyway, enough talking about the craft, back to it.  While I'm happy to have hit 60k in a month, the best thing is I really don't think I'm currently pushing myself all that much.  That's only on an average of 1 - 2 hours a day (perhaps a couple more on a weekend) and is only 2k a day.  I did a couple of big 5k days and as always happens I had a lull afterwards each time, but I think 3 - 4k a day is fairly reasonable, which would work out at a novel per month(!).  I just wish I didn't have to work the regular work so much, but if Tube Riders takes off (it's selling steadily since the promo ended) the first thing I'll do is can the evil kid classes and get my evenings back.

Right, I did say I was finishing ....

22nd Oct 2012

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Blop Hop - The Next Big Thing

BLOG HOP – The Next Big Thing

I recently got tagged in a blog hop by my friend and fellow Japan-based writer, Kelly Matsuura, who writers poignant, emotive romance fiction.  Thanks to Kelly for doing this, its the first time Ive had it happen so Ill try to think of something interesting to say.
The rules for the blog hop are as follows:

****Give credit to the person/blog that tagged you
**** Post the rules for the blog hop
****Answer these ten questions about your current WIP (Work In Progress) on your blog
****Tag five other writers/bloggers and add their links so we can hop over and meet them.

Ten Interview Questions for The Next Big Thing:

What is the working title of your book? 

Im actually working on four main projects at the moment, but I guess the one thats getting the most attention is the follow up to my novel, The Tube Riders.  Its currently titled Tube Riders : Exile.

Where did the idea come from for the book? 

A couple of years ago, after I wrote the first book and was shopping it to agents, I started writing a follow up set five years in the future.  I got about fifty pages in, and while I liked what I was writing I felt there was a gap that needed to be filled.  This is it.

What genre does your book fall under?

Its sci-fi dystopia.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition? 

Id want unknowns.  None of my characters are ever star types, as in I hate gorgeous, muscular leads.  Switch, one of my main characters, has a jippy eye, for example, while Marta, the leading lady, has dreaded hair because she hardly ever gets a chance to wash.  Also, I wouldnt want a star to carry the movie, I would want the story to do that.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book? 

Better than the first one (I hope!).

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency? 

Self-published, unless I get a really, really good offer.  Book one recently did extremely well on a free promotion and from the reviews Ive had Im inclined to believe that Im on to something, and there could be a lot of money to be made without some company skimming most of it off the top.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

Im only 50,000 words in so far, but about five weeks so far.  Like I say, Im working on three other projects as well.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre? 

Difficult . . . because I hardly read anything!  Id guess Hunger Games, as thats a kind of dystopian chase story, or Futuretrack 5, an old classic that few people now have heard of (its awesome).  However, the landscape you see in Tube Riders is very familiar.  Its only set 60 years in the future.

Who or What inspired you to write this book? 

The people that said part one was good inspired this one, definitely.  Otherwise I would have just written something else.  Im not a big sequel person, so this is definitely for them.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Its awesome, simple as that.  Dont listen to me, listen to the reviewers.

And the writers I'm tagging are -

John Daulton - Author of The Galactic Mage

C.D. Loken - Author of The Gift of the Brass Bell

Ashley Torbeck - Owner of the Drunken Space Penguin blog

Tony Riches - Owner of The Writing Desk blog

Karen Einsel - Owner of Karen's Different Corners

Check them out!

10 Oct 2012

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Humour in The Tube Riders

Okay, so its a pretty bleak novel, but there are some nuggets of humour in The Tube Riders.

Here's one of my favourite scenes, Frank vs Switch, from Chapter Twelve.

The others stood around while Frank examined Switch.  With his bloody t-shirt off and the wound wiped down, Marta was relieved the blood had made it look worse than it was.  A thin cut about two inches long clung to the side of his hip, a little wider at the top than the bottom.
‘I fucking twisted on it and pushed it in deeper,’ Switch said, as way of explanation.
‘You were lucky,’ Frank said, prodding it with a surgical instrument.  It went in through the fat on your lower back and got stuck in the muscle here,’ he said, prodding Switch’s side and making him wince.  ‘It was a small knife, I take it?’
‘You pulled it out yourself?’
‘You still got it?’
‘In my one remaining shoe.’  He kicked it off and held it up.
Marta smiled in spite of herself.  Typical Switch.
Frank plucked it out and held it up to the light.  ‘Nice,’ he said.  ‘Thrower.  Proper one, too.’
‘You wanna buy it?’
Frank smiled.  He looked around at the others.  ‘Well, I’m guessing Paul said you had money just to get you in the door.  ‘I’ll trade it for stitching you up.’
Frank got to work cleaning the wound.  Switch yelped in pain as he dabbed at the exposed flesh with TCP antiseptic liquid, but the only thing he could offer to numb the pain was a shot of some cheap homebrewed whiskey.
‘I don’t know what’s worse, the pain or this piss,’ Switch growled, gulping it down.  Simon, who took an experimental swig after him, couldn’t testify to the pain but had to agree the taste was pretty bad.
‘I could put you under, but I don’t think you’ve got enough of those knives to pay me for it,’ Frank said.  ‘And plus, by the look of you kids, I’d say you want this chump on his feet pretty soon.’
Their silence was affirmation.
Frank sewed Switch up, dressed the injury and gave him some antibiotics to keep it free of infection.  ‘Do not lose these,’ he said.  ‘Take one a day, and do not forget.  If it starts to itch, or pus starts to come out of the wound, double up for a day.  It should seal itself over in a week, and then you’re safe.  Until then, take care.  If it gets infected and you can’t get to a doctor, well, you’re fucked.’  Frank cackled.  Marta couldn’t tell how serious he was.
Switch climbed down from the table.  ‘Thanks old man, I owe you one.’
Frank raised an eyebrow.  ‘Many people say that, few deliver.’
‘Well, one day I might.’
‘I hope so.  Take it easy, kid.’
‘And you.’
Switch followed Simon and Jess out into the hall.  Frank turned to Paul.  ‘How’s your brother?’
Paul shrugged.  ‘Still there.  Starting to raise hell.’
Frank nodded.  ‘Good, good.  Keep him alive, he’ll be leading the revolution one day.’  He patted Paul’s shoulder and started to laugh again.
‘Thank you for your help,’ Marta said to Frank in the doorway.
‘No problem, young lady,’ he said.  ‘I just suggest that whatever you were doing for that to happen you try to avoid it in the future.’
‘We’ll try,’ Marta said.  ‘If only it was that easy.’
Frank gazed off into the distance.  His eyes grew suddenly wistful.  ‘Don’t give up on this country just yet,’ he said.  ‘Keep your heads down, one day them dark clouds are gonna clear.’
‘We hope so,’ Marta said.
Frank nodded.  He looked at Switch.  ‘You.  Come here.’
Switch sauntered closer.  ‘Yeah, what?’
Before Marta could blink Frank’s hand had gone to Switch’s throat, the throwing knife held there, hard against the skin.  Switch’s good eye went wide.  There was a collective intake of breath, and then Frank gave a gap-toothed smile and cackled a laugh.  He dropped his hand.  ‘You’ll need this metal more than I will, I think,’ he said, holding out the knife, handle first.  ‘A present from an old man.’
Switch took the offered knife and tucked it under his shirt, his composure once more unruffled.  ‘Thanks.  I don’t suppose you have any spare shoes around?’
Frank pouted.  ‘I doubt we’re the same size, kid.’  He looked around at the others.  ‘Now, if I can give you kids some advice, stay on your guard.  Don’t trust anyone.’  He cocked his head and flashed a smile.  ‘Except me.’
      With that he nodded goodbye and went back inside.  The door slammed behind them without sentiment and several latches thudded back across.

Although he only appears in two early scenes, Frank is one of my favourite characters.  While I can't say exactly where or when, it's pretty likely he'll pop up in later books.

The Tube Riders (full novel) is free October 5th through October 7th.

4th Oct 2012

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

The NaNoWriMo Challenge

The NaNoWriMo Challenge!

I've decided to sign up for NaNoWriMo this year for a bit of an experiment.  This will be my first time but I've been writing so much recently that I think I can handle it.


Writing, when I'm in the zone, is not something I find particularly difficult.  In the last week alone I wrote some 15,000 words on just one or two hours a day.  When I have the thread of a story its like I don't actually write it, it writes itself.  So if I'm going to make it a challenge, I want to do something different.

This is what I've decided to do, and I want anyone who's up for the challenge to join me.

For a bit of fun, let’s create something “out-there” and attempt to push our literary boundaries.  If what you write turns out to be a masterpiece then all well and good, but at the very least it will give you a chance to try something different and explore new territory.

The target, as with all NaNoWriMo novels is a story of 50,000 words within the month of November.

This year, however, I have chosen a number of criteria and I will use a dice to decide exactly which ones I will use.

My criteria are -

1. Genre.
2. Narrative voice.
3. Character
4. Character attribute
5. Setting

You should choose six options for each, then roll a dice to decide the basics of your story.

Please note – all criteria should be filled out individually.  The choices below are what I chose, but please make sure that each option is something you would feel comfortable (or be willing to try) writing about.  For example, if you don’t like writing about serial killers, don’t use “serial killer” as an option.

The most important one is the genre.  You should chose six genres that you have NEVER written in before.  We're attempting to leave our comfort zones here.

Okay, so here's what I chose for my categories, and the results of my dice rolls are in bold.

Your novel will be a –

1.    Western
2.    Historical romance
3.    Techno-thriller
4.    Mystery
5.   Crime story
6.    Literary story

written in –

1.   First person
2.    Second person
3.    Third person
4.    First person omniscient
5.    First person multiple viewpoint
6.    Stream of consciousness

And featuring a –

1.   Cowboy
2.    Talking animal
3.    Housewife
4.    Ninja
5.    Bank manager
6.    School teacher

who is –

1.    Immortal
2.   Gay
3.    Disabled
4.    Retired
5.    Pre-teen
6.    Very overweight

In a primary location of –

1.    Desert
2.    City
3.   Ocean
4.    Space
5.    Mountain
6.    European Countryside

You can add more and more categories if you wish.

Good luck!

So, my result – I will write a crime story in first person, featuring a gay cowboy and set in or around the ocean.


Feel free to add my to your friends list on NaNoWriMo.  I'm going under my real name, ChrisWard.

Good luck!


3 Oct 2012