New gig – Wrabfest

We’ve got a new gig – at [ Wrabfest ], a one-day festival in a village near to us. It is a huge affair, offering foodstalls, a beer tent, and two stages with acoustic and electric bands throughout the afternoon and evening. There’s something for everyone!

Including, of course, The Big Write, where we work with children to help them create stories aided by Ten Tin Tales, Story Trays, Story Cards and other helpful exercises.


Busy and not busy

It’s one of those months. When I look through the calendar, I see almost nothing booked for me. For my partner, [ Anita Belli ], she’s incredibly busy working in primary schools in the local area, delivering a literacy project based on several topics in the curriculum.

I’m hopping from project to project, seemingly unable to stick at one thing. The summer is nearly here, the tomatoes we planted are beginning to fruit. So that’s good.

Whilst we’re quiet, I’ll remind you that the [ writer support ] website is live, with some information on the type of services we can offer. Website design, manuscript editing, formatting and publishing – they’re all there!


Writing Retreat!

Oh my! It’s that time of year again – the time when I and the members of my writing group cast aside the shackles of normal life with its responsibilities and tedium, and head off for our writing retreat.

We spend the best part of four days together, writing, chatting, talking about writing, planning our writing, and generally relaxing in the luxurious surroundings of our own (temporary) manor house in the country!


Corruption of Innocents

Following discussions with some of my fellow writing colleagues, I’ve decided to pick up a book I initially wrote during the 2015 NaNoWriMo challenge. The title keeps changing, and it’s been “Corruption“, “The Innocents“, and “Corruption of Innocents“. Titles are important to me!

After some back-and-forth, I decided to make this a companion piece to a book I wrote / rewrote for NaNoWriMo last year (2018), which is currently called “Deceit“. It’s been “Deception“, “Ripples” and “Ripples of Deception“. Titles are important to me.

Both novels feature an identical series character, a journalist called Jerry Sanders, although his name may change before these things see the light of day.

Anyway, it’s nice to be able to start pulling some of my thirty-odd Works In Progress together, ready for a scheduled launch in the future.


100kword100days update

Further to my 2019 goals, I’ve been working on the novel “MELTDOWN”, during the 100kwords100days challenge.

It was going pretty well – it’s more of a rewrite than a first draft. The first draft was written way back in 2013, during NaNoWriMo. The story sort of held together, but there were several plot holes. And the usual mish-mash of character and plot problems. It needed a rewrite.

I was doing quite well, adding and changing words, then got sidetracked into the actual design of the story. Those who know me will understand, as I have a fascination for Story Design (I even wrote a book about it), and I realised with this rewrite that I really needed to go back to first principles, apply my ‘Snowflake‘ and ‘Save The Cat‘ procedures to really get a grip on the story and make it work like a thriller should.

In conclusion, I have 15,000 good words, all in the right places – from the original 47,000 words. And that’s where the story now is. There are more old words that can be imported into the new framework, but for the moment, the project is parked. There are more important, real-life issues to be sorted for now.


Essex Book Festival

My partner, [ Anita Belli ] has been booked for several drop-in sessions with the [ Essex Book Festival ], working with children and adults to help them with their creativity.

In addition, Anita, myself and our colleague [ Ellie Holmes ] are present at the Essex Author Day. This is a chance for Essex people to meet authors in person, and chat to them about their writing and their books. We shall be taking this opportunity to launch [ TheNovelMakers ], our joint venture, with a one-hour presentation.


The NovelMakers

There’s a new project on the go! In conjunction with my colleagues and partners Anita Belli and Ellie Holmes, we have created a new venture.

The intention is to help novel writers and, as we say, turn a Writer into an Author – helping them from their manuscript to produce a publishable novel.

We will be offering mentoring and manuscript appraisal services in the short term. Eventually, we will be expanding on our business offer, to include online courses to help improve and polish a client’s writing.

For now, have a look at the website [ TheNovelMakers ] that we’ve been working on, and check out my colleagues’ websites:

[ Anita Belli ]
[ Ellie Holmes ]


Jumping into 2019

I’m splitting my look forward to 2019 into two parts: my own writing, and my writing-related business plans.

In terms of writing in the near future, I’m participating in the 100kwords100days challenge again, and the project for that has the title “Meltdown”. It’s a thriller. It’s something I wrote (badly) a few years ago, but I’ve now restructured it, and I’m going to rewrite it, hopefully better than I wrote it originally. It currently stands at 47k bad words, but with the new structure in place, I’m expecting it to become well over 60k of hopefully better words during the first month or two of 2019.

In November last year, for NaNoWriMo, I rewrote another novel I’d part-written which was called Deceit (although the title changed several times during the process, and used to be called Circles of Corruption). This was another thriller, showing political corruption surrounding the UK activities in Syria. I’m pleased with how it turned out, and that’s now ready for a first edit before sending out to beta readers.

Short fiction-wise, I STILL have the dark Christmas collection that I collated a year or two ago, that needs a serious editing session, but that will be later this year (again). Also, I have the beginnings of a collection of 500-word stories, which I might publish later this year.

Non-fiction wise, I have an outline plan for a non-fiction book which describes my outlining and plotting method. That’s a bit meta, I know, planning a planning book, but there you go. I think the method works for me, and hopefully might be insightful for others. Look out for something which may, or may not, be called Save The SnowCat.

Away from writing, there are two writing-related businesses I’m involved with.
The first is Writer.Support which aims to support writers (geddit?) for all levels of ability. As mentioned in the 2018 roundup, I help writers from beginning writing, short fiction, memoir; through to editing, self-publishing and ghost writing; and beyond into marketing and promotion.
The second business is The Novel Makers which is an expansion of the work I and two colleagues have been undertaking with our wonderful critique group, Frinton Writers. The three of us will focus on helping novel writers from the initial steps, through completion and into and beyond the first draft status. Our ethos is to turn writers into authors. The business will help through manuscript appraisals, online courses, one-to-one mentoring, and eventually workshops and writing retreats.

In addition to all that, there are some ‘ideas’ which may or may not come to fruition during the year”

  • Vlogs – I have ideas for three entertaining (hopefully) writing-related vlogs (video blogs), which will comprise edited videos published to YouTube.
  • Publish Literary Roadhouse reviews on website – I have been a co-host of a Literary Fiction podcast for several years now I aim to publish my reviews of both literary short stories and novels on my own writing website. Because I can.
  • Proper blog schedule – yes, a recurring dream this. A proper blogging schedule with subjects planned in advance. Dream on, Gerald.
  • Local and online book clubs – as authors, we should be reading widely from both within and outside our favoured writing genres. So I hope to form at least one reading group during the year to encourage reading and discussion of general fiction.

Phew! A pretty big list, eh? Aim for the stars, and you might hit the moon, and all that.
Let me know what your aims and goals are for the current year. Because without a destination to aim for, we are wandering aimlessly.


End of year – 2018

Look back on 2018

This was an interesting year, for sure.
I looked back on my goals for 2018, written around this time last year.
2018 was going to be The Year Of Publishing Dangerously.
I was going to publish at least 4 (count ‘em) novels this last year. I was also going to publish two collections of short fiction, too.
Hmm. That didn’t quite happen.
One of the problems with a huge store of Works-In-Progress is that it’s difficult to decide what you should concentrate on. Which will have the most beneficial effect on my writing career? Which do I want to publish first?
It’s like the donkey in the desert scenario. A sad tale, for those who don’t know, but it describes a donkey walking through a desert, hungry and thirsty. He comes across a bucket of food (whatever it is that donkeys eat) and a bucket of water. He can’t decide whether he’s more hungry than thirsty, or vice versa. He stands in the middle of the two buckets, indecisive, and eventually dies.
Yes, I know it’s a sad tale, and it’s not even true, but there is a dilemma when faced with a decision between choices when all have equal merit.
I went on a writing retreat with my lovely critiquing group (Frinton Writing Group) and presented the multitude of options to them. Having analysed what I’d written, and where I’d reached in the writing, they advised me to concentrate on my crime fiction.
I have two major threads to my novelling – crime (police procedural, with a series main character) and thrillers, mostly concerned with the end of the world as we know it. I call it ‘pre-apocalyptic fiction’.
So I worked on my crime fiction, and I worked on my thrillers. But, alas, none of them are at the ‘publish’ stage yet.
So, I suppose, you could call me a failure. And I’m okay with that.

Away from writing, there have been other developments too.
I am working with two writing friends to set up The Novel Makers – a service which will expand upon the work we’ve been doing as part of Frinton Writing Group. We will work with authors writing novels, whether they’re just beginning, whether they’ve begun and are now stuck, or whether they’ve completed their manuscript and are unsure of what to do next. We will be offering online courses, one-to-one mentoring, manuscript appraisals and writing workshops and retreats.
And I personally have set up Writer.Support, a service which begins the work of The Novel Makers, but extends the services sideways, into help with writing short fiction, ghost writing, author websites, and podcasting / vlogging.
Tomorrow, I shall be posting my goals for 2019. Yes. Ever the optimist, me.