The Importance of the Committed Reader

I had an old friend visit yesterday, someone who is listed in the acknowledgements of ‘Exile’ for their very considerable contribution. She was one of my first readers back when there was less than half the story written. She read what there was and liked it a lot. Up until then ‘Exile’ was just a project I did a bit on in between writing short stories; under the circumstances there was no reason to expect that it was any good. Her response was among the first to indicate that the story worked and was really worth pushing forward with.

After that she became a valued muse. She would nag me about progress, each new chapter would be sent, discussed with her and reworked, further directions storyboarded. Her enthusiasm for the story kept me writing because I was writing for someone.

I liked writing that way. I know some authors hate the idea of showing anyone their work while it is in progress, but I’m the opposite. I loved being able to storyboard the next chapter with someone invested in the story. There are chapters in ‘Exile’ that would not have been written if not for her input. I’m sure it is a better book for her involvement.

My other books were not written this way, I was on my own. Career, marriage and children have all conspired to take my muse from me. But I still miss having someone to brainstorm the next chapter with.

 

More reviews of ‘Exile’ have come in and they are still strong but I need more. I can’t get enough. It’s not a problem. Really, I can handle it; but please if you’ve read it write it up.

A narrator for the audiobook of ‘Exile’ has been chosen and the result should be out in November. All the tweaks and edits for ‘Return to Nandor’ have been done and I’m awaiting first sight of the cover art.

 

My last trip to the Haematology consultant was satisfactory; my blood results are stable so no further treatment is scheduled. I have an appointment with the implant clinic for early October to assess me for cochlear implants.

I’m off to Ireland for a holiday shortly and my chosen reading is ‘The House of Shattered Wings’ by former T-Partyer Aliette de Bodard.

Return to Nandor

The edits are done and the manuscript of ‘Return to Nandor’, the sequel to Exile, has been returned to my publisher. Likely publication date: ‘later this year’. When I have a more solid date I’ll post it.

The reviews for ‘Exile’ are starting to come in on Amazon and Goodreads; so far so good with one 5 * and an equal mix of 3* and 4*. Keep ’em coming please, reviews make a diference to sales.

 

Healthwise I’ve less to say. Last week’s appointment with the consultant was reassuring in that he has ruled out a couple of nasty complications that I could have had. However, they need further tests to decide the way forward. Hence I had a colonoscopy yesterday (not too bad, but the day and a half spent fasting and drinking the laxative solution was literally pretty sh#tty) will have another PET scan (tolerable) and possibly another bone marrow biopsy (not to be looked forward to).

I’m still deaf – though with the new hearing aid I can hear impact sounds (doors shutting etc) and can tell when people are speaking. This is more than before, if it continues to improve, I may restore some functionality.

 

Survived cycle 2 but….

The cost was high. Not only was I hospitalised for a week with a bleeding duodenal ulcer but somewhere in the middle of that I suffered a catastrophic inner ear hearing loss, possibly viral. The result; I am now deaf beyond the reach of hearing aids, I can hear nothing. I have been referred for cochlear implants which offer a modest hope of some hearing but right now, if you want to communicate with me you need to write it down. I’ve found reasonable utility from some of the voice recognition software on phones and tablets but mostly it is pen and paper.

 

This fairly clearly means I will not be going to writing groups and cons or presenting quizzes. So if this is where you know me from than this is why I’m not around.

This wasn’t part of the Plan

I was looking forward to gearing up for this year’s publications of my novels, going to cons, doing readings etc.

One blood test put paid to that. Back in early Jan I went for my regular review with the Haematology clinic that treated me back in 2014. October’s readouts had been fine; January’s weren’t – by a long was. Since then I’ve had another bone marrow biopsy (which I really wanted to avoid) a PET scan and, just for added fun, grometts inserted in my ears.

I start chemotherapy on Monday with 6 cycles of 4 weeks planned.

If you were hoping to see me at Eastercon or various writing groups then I’m sorry but I probably will not be to attend.

Bring on 2016

Welcome to 2016 mes amis. It’s going to be interesting. No resolutions like ‘write another book’. It goes without saying that I’ll carry on writing, and I’d like to finish another one, but I’m well aware of my own capacity and the best I can offer is further progress on one or other of the works-in-hand. There may also be an unknown amount of reworking in response to editors’ comments which will take precedence over any new work. I did at least write a bit over the Christmas break.

What I’m really excited about is the books coming out. I finally get to find out if people will pay money for my stories. Plenty of people have read them, particularly ‘Exile’, and said lots of positive things, but would they have paid for them? Will people I don’t know buy them? I’m going to find out soon.

Can’t wait to see the cover art.

More Great News

I’m very happy to announce that my secondary world adventure fantasy novels “The Exile of Darien” and “Return to Nandor” will be published next year by the Phantasia imprint of Ticketyboo Press.

This is the end of a very long road for “Exile”. The novel grew from a short story started in the mid 90s which just kept growing. For a long time I fed it sporadically until someone (hi Mad Kate!) demanded to read it and came back hooked requiring regular new chapters. I finished the first draft at the end of 2000. Some helpful people read it, it got tweaked and it got critted. I paid John Jarrold to write a report on it and he was hugely encouraging. I started to believe it could fly. I tried to get an agent. I had some close calls with some serious people. Then in 2007 Ian Drury took me on and put his name behnid it, but the market was changing.

“The author has done a fine job, but there’s nothing here new or different.” That was the verdict of the commisioning editor when Ian sent “Exile” to Harper-Collins Eos. Bittersweet? Yes. Harsh? Maybe a little. Accurate? More than a little.

The setting of “Exile”is not very different, nor is the magic. If the bad guys win, it is not the end of the world. One of my last rejections said it was a bit “old school”. I’m not uncomfortable with that. Let’s look at the influences: there’s Gemmell in there for sure and further back to Lieber and Robert E Howard, and a touch of an author I’ve only read since I finished “Exile” – Glen Cook. Note: not epic, not Grimdark. It is still, in my opinion, a really enjoyable fantasy adventure story. Something you can pick up while waiting for GRRM to turn out the next GoT book and you will immediately understand how the world works like putting on a comfortable old jacket.

 

And the good news is that the sequel is written so I’m not going to keep you waiting like George.